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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  February 4, 2016 4:00pm-6:01pm EST

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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. a senator: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that proceedings under the quorum call be vitiate the. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. coons: mr. president, i come up to the floor today to talk about our relation relatioh iran and the enforcement of the u.s.-iran -- the international nuclear deal. but let me first start with just a few observations to reinforce an important point, that iran is neither our friend nor our ally. just last wednesday, as the international community marked the 71st anniversary -- the 71st anniversary -- of the
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liberation of auschwitz, on that very day in which countries come together in solidarity, united in a shared commitment that the atrocities of the holocaust must never happen, iran's supreme leader ayatollah khomeini issued a very different proclamation. it came in the form after video in which the narrater condemns the world and questions the legitimacy of the holocaust. just a few days later the supreme leader of iran awarded medals to the members of their revolutionary guard corps who detained american sailors last month under very dubious circumstances. the iranian supreme leader eager to use this incident for his own purposes called them medals of conquest. these two actions are despicable and not the sign of a nation
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ready to rejoin the international community. these actions by iran's supreme leader are just the most recent in a series of provocations and reminders that the iranian regime is shooter america's ally or -- is neither america's ally or friend. it promotes terrorism on its neighbors and blatantly disregards international law, a revolutionary regime not to be trusted. mr. president, it's for precisely this reason because we are deeply distrustful of iran that we have to come together to rigorously and aggressively enforce the terms of the nuclear deal with iran and push back on its bad behavior, from its support for terrorism to its human rights abuses to its illegal ballistic missile tests. so today i wanted to focus on one of the most vital elements of the nuclear deal, the so-called joint comprehensive plan of action, or the nuclear
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deal with iran, which is the dramatic increase in access, in surveillance that the international atomic energy agency has gained through this agreement. after implementation day was reached, one of the significant consequences of that milestone is not just that iran has taken dramatic action to push back its own nuclear trajectory but that it's granted unprecedented access to the world's nuclear watchdog agency to monitor its compliance with the deal. as congress, the administration, and the international community now focus on enforcing the terms of the jcpoa, it is worth taking a much deeper look at what exactly makes this access so unprecedented and so important to maintain. i recently visited the headquarters of the iaea, vienna, u austria, with a delegation of eight senators. this agency has a huge amount riding on its ability to successfully detect any iranian
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cheating urpdz this deal, and -- under this deal, and it is no understatement to say that the very correct of th credibility s on the line as it monitors the program for decades into the future. i was pleased and reassured to see they are using some of the very innovative inspection techniques developed at america's own national laboratories. these are just a few of the topics i want to touch on in the minutes ahead. mr. president, the nuclear agreement, the deal reached with iran, required that they provide the iaea with round-the-clock, 24/7 access to monitor iran's entire nuclear fuel cycle. what is a nuclear fuel cycle? it's all the different steps required to go from mine ping te raw oregon to actually producing the -- mining the raw ore to
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actually producing the uranium. iran could have converted its uranium or its plutonium into material useful for nuclear weapon. on implementation day iran disabled its arak reactor. it filled the core with concrete shutting off the so-called plutonium pathway to a nuclear weapon. so today inside i'd like to focus on the uranium pathway of the commercial nuclear fuel cycle which includes the four parts i just mentioned -- mills, mines, conversion facilities, and enrichment facilities. these different components of their entire fuel cycle are scattered across the nation of iran, as you can see, i in the graphic to my right fnlt the fuel cycle begins at uranium mines where hundreds and hundreds of tons of dirt and rocks and ore which contain tiny trace amounts of uranium, just just.1%, which dumped into huge trucks and transported to the next stage, uranium mills.
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two mills exist in iran and under the jcpoa, the iaea will maintain continuous access to niece mills. the rocks are then ground into dust from which uranium is extracted. this raw uranium ore concentrator is then transported urched the supervision of the iaea to a conversion facility where it is converted into uranium hexaflor spivment de gas. the final cycle takes place at so-called enrichment facilities. here rapidly-spinning facilities takes the uranium where it is ed for a nuclear wevment critically, the nuclear deal gives the iaea access to inspect and oversee every wurch these stages, not just enrichment facilities as they are deals with other countries previously required. if the jcpoa only required the
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iranians to give nuclear inspectors bein access to their enrichment facilities, tehran could easily continue to mine, mill, convert, and then quite likely enrich uranium undetected elsewhere, such as secret facilities. that's why it's so important that mills, mines, and the whole rest of the fuel cycle are subject to regular inspections and continuous oversight. access to the entire fuel cycle means the world will know if iran tries to move any nuclear material to undeclared covert facilities. one of the biggest advances in this new continuous monitoring approach is a whole new series of inspection techniques and technologies because it is not enough for nuclear inspectors to be able to access every step of the fuel cycle because it is impossible for even the best inspectors to be physically present everywhere all the time in a nuclear fuel cycle, a system as complex as iran's. that's why effective oversight and enforcement demands that the
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iaea be able to monitor enrichment efforts remotely and constantly. that level of monitoring is provided by the continuingous real-time monitoring of all of iran's declared nuclear facilities. here is one of the ways that works. the small device to my right here is an iaea monitoring device known as the online enrichment monitor. as installed at the natanz fuel enrichment plant in iran. the pipe labeled a is a processing pipe that transports gasious gas from cascades of spinning centrifuges. they are the devices that take the uranium mined from the ground and middle to betrons formed or enriched to a uranium useful for either civilian or military purposes. inside the box at the bottom right here, this b, is a gamma ray detecter which measures the amount of hexaflouride gas at key measuring points.
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these detecters send continuous real-time 24/7 information to the iaea so it can make sure that iran's uranium enrichment leferls remain at or below the 3.67%. dramatically lower than the level required for fissile material used for a weapon. in addition to these detecters, pressure and temperature sensors continuously monitor the present quantities of gasious gas. measurements combined with data from the gamma ray detecters allow the iaea to effectively monitor all uranium enrichment. this monitoring equipment runs autonomously, has backup battery power, and is encased as you can see in sealed containers that contain tamper- resistant equipment to allow the international community to know if iran tries alter or tamper the monitoring equipment. before the iaea developed and
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implemented these devices, nuclear inspectors had only two options for verifying compliancedon, compliance:send o relieve samples or take environmental samples remotely. as a stand-alone method, these two techniques were unreliable and time-intensive requiring weeks to collect and ship samples. today instead of waiting weeks or months, the iaea now has real-time, round-the-clock okay ssess so it is aware exactly of what iran is doing at its facilities. these nonstop monitoring devices that are recently developed will also be supplemented by traditional sampling and analysis performed in person by iaea inspectors. continuous monitoring devices are in place at all of iran's uranium enrichment faments as well as every known site as which iran mills and converts uranium or stories centrifuges. that represents every single location involved in iran's fuel
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cycle except uranium mines. that's with because real-time monitoring of a mine would serve no scientific purpose. uranium mines consist of thousands of rock and ore and only a minuscule amount of uranium is present and even the raw uranium is present in such tiny consentrations that they are unusable without further processing and enrichment. iaea inspectors have regular access, as i said, to all known uranium mines and because of the huge amount of activity required to process and mine uranium, regular inspectors are more than sufficient to uncover and monitor iran's behavior at mines. throughout iran's nuclear facilities, the iaea has also installed both still and video cameras. these cameras provide a 90% increase in the number of images generated per day compared to before the nuclear agreement, giving the international community another vital window into iran's activities.
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in addition, gamma ramon tors as well as all -- gamma ray monitors are all there with tamper evidence seals to protect the integrity of the equipment. mr. president, in our nation's history of dealing with rogue states seeking a nuclear weapons capability, from saddam hussein's having to qadhafi's libya to north korea, there has never been an inspection protocol that allowed the iaea this level of access to monitor and oversee every stage of the nuclear facility. under this level of oversight to produce a nuclear weapon, iran would need to construct an entirely separate fuel cycle, a whole supply chain, mining, milling, conversion and enrichment facilities completely in secret, an exceptionally difficult undertaking. but access alone is not enough. for us to be sure that iran is not developing a nuclear weapon, the iaea must also have the resources to turn that access into effective oversight. under the terms of the jcpoa,
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iran must declare every nuclear and nuclear-related facility that exists within its borders. in response, inspectors have three roles -- first, to confirm that iran's site declarations are accurate and comprehensive. second, to monitor all declared sites to make sure iran's behavior complies with the terms of the deal. and third, to track material that leaves each facility to make sure iran is not pursuing illicit nuclear activity at undeclared sites elsewhere. inspectors have regular, complete access to every segment of the nuclear supply chain. conversion, enrichment, mines, mills, fuel manufacturing, the reactors themselves and spent fuel. to reach the level of necessary oversight, the iaea has increased its number of inspectors by 120%. but i'll remind you that for the next 25 years or more, these physical inspections will have to be sustained to provide a critical supplement to the continuous monitoring technology i referenced before. even so, if the iaea doesn't
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have enough capable nuclear scientists to effectively monitor, evaluate and investigate every aspect of iran's nuclear fuel site, the international community will not for the decades to come be able to effectively enforce the terms of the jcpoa. and it takes years, mr. president, to train capable nuclear scientists and even longer to develop new and better monitoring technologies. as the name of the iaea implies, fully supporting the iaea requires support from each of our international partners. but congress can and should take a step forward by providing reliable, continuous long-term funding for the iaea so they can increase the number of their fully trained and available inspectors. you would send a strong signal to both our allies and to iran that we are serious about holding iran to the terms of the deal, not just this year but over the decades to come. the iaea needs the resources to do its job effectively and
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efficiently. working effectively means the inspections are not only uncovering violations or potential violations of the deal but also deterring iran from covert action by knowing with certainty they will be caught. working efficiently means the iaea can devote as many resources as necessary to searching for undeclared sites and monitoring those that are not. to this end, i hope that when the president's budget is released next week, it will include a significant increase in resources for the iaea. adequately funding the iaea is something i will be speaking about in greater detail in the weeks to come, but it's also important to note there is a direct correlation between our investments in federal research and development, specifically in our national laboratories, and our effectiveness in keeping iran's nuclear ambitions and the threat of proliferation throughout the rest of the world in check. for over 35 years, back to 1980, every single iaea inspector has been trained at least once at
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los alamos national laboratory in new mexico. the idaho, oak ridge and brook haven national labs are also part of the national training network for iaea inspectors. on average, our national labs are training 150 iaea inspectors every year, about a fifth of the entire inspection staff, every single year, developing key skills to keep us and the world safe like learning how to make accurate, prompt measurements of nuclear material. our national labs also play a key role in improving existing technologies and developing new ones that we can't even imagine today. the online enrichment monitors i described earlier which will allow for continuous real-time overnight of iran's enrichment activities were originally developed at oak ridge national lab in tennessee. in fact, most of america's 17 national labs have supported or are currently supporting some element of the iaea safeguards technologies, both as individual labs and as part of a ten-nation, 20-lab network of analytical labs that includes los alamos, oak ridge, lawyer
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inches livermore, pacific northwest national lab and the new brunswick labs. mr. president, in conclusion, congressional oversight is essential to the most stringent implementation of the nuclear deal with iran and for our national security as a whole. making investments in our national labs and in federal research and development today means better trained, better equipped nuclear inspectors for the years, the decades to come. adequately funding the iaea today means the international community takes full advantage of the unprecedented access we negotiated in this deal. effectively enforcing the jcpoa and pushing back on iran's bad behavior today makes it clear that we intend to hold iran accountable and to lay the groundwork for security for generations to come. mr. president, if we're serious about enforcing the terms of the nuclear deal, we need more than access. we need action. thank you, mr. president. with that, i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: i came to the floor to listen to my friend talk about one of the most important issues that we've dealt with in this body for many years, and no one is more articulate or more understanding of the issues that face us and foreign policy than the junior senator from delaware. so i extend my appreciation to him. i'm glad i had the opportunity to come and listen to what he had to say. the stuff he talked about is not simple stuff. it took someone of his ability to explain so we all understand what he has -- what he has said. and pointing the way forward for peace and security in that part of the world along with the other work he has done on the foreign relations committee, peace and security around a lot of the world. mr. president, we have always known that republicans have an obsession with secretary clinton's emails, but their obsession is a trumped up
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partisan political crew said. today we see the new revelation about just how bankrupt republicans' campaign against secretary clinton truly is. the inspector general of the state department made -- issued something that was quite important. it's unclassified. he wrote a memo stating emails received by former secretaries colin powell and condoleezza rice may contain classified information. this is the same trumped up allegation which republicans are currently trying to railroad secretary clinton. as vice chairman feinstein said last week -- quote -- "it has never made sense to me that secretary clinton can be held responsible for email exchanges that originated with someone else, and yet republicans would have you believe that these emails posed a grave threat. secretary colin powell said it best.
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here's what he said. "upon reading such emails, quote, a normal, air-breathing mammal would look at them and say what's the issue?" close quote. just like they turned benghazi into a political issue, republicans are looking for anything that can be twisted into a partisan political tool for former senator, former secretary of state hillary clinton, and for obvious reasons. pursuit of her email records has caused the republicans to waste millions of dollars of taxpayers' money, and of course the congressional oversight process. we've held up scores of state department nominees, usaid workers in africa and around the world and the state department's legal advisor. because of what's being done here, the state department has had -- they are holding up -- they have numerous people, i say numerous that should be
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confirmed so the state department can operate. but no, they are being held up. even the legal department. the state department does not have its own lawyer. it's being held up. all they say is opposition to emails. it's an effort to develop oppositional research on the campaign trail. this is what some would say is a watershed moment. we can now hold republicans' allegations up to the light, see them for the flimsy, transparent attempts to score political points that they always have been. if we're to believe republicans, we would have to criminally charge secretary rice, secretary powell, the senior staff and everyone else who received these emails. we might have to indict the entire senior level of america's national security team. of course general powell
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shouldn't be indicted, secretary rice should not be indicted, but by republicans' logic, they should be. this is absurd. this is absurd because the inspector general makes it very clear, these charges are a bunch of trumped up baloney. it's absurd because this campaign against secretary clinton has always been a ridiculously partisan political waste of time and taxpayers' dollars. today we see this more clearly than ever before, but no one has seen it more clearly than secretary powell. this man who has held numerous positions in our government, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, four-star general. i repeat what he said today and i quote again -- a normal, air-breathing mammal would look at them and say what's the issue? there is no issue. i would yield the floor, mr. president, and i see no one here, so i would suggest the
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absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk shall call the roll. quorum call: mr. coons: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: i ask that proceedings under the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. coons: mr. president, i rise today to express my thanks to my
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chief of staff of the last five years, todd webster. it is a bittersweet day for me because my office says farewell to someone who has been a trusted, loyal, reliable, energetic, patient, faithful leader of the coons team for my first five years in washington, someone who has been warm and humorous, caring and always ready with a funny story to tell, down to earth, someone who takes interest in whomever he's speaking to, who knows everyone seemingly here and is well liked and well respected. a true family man who helped plan a surprise birthday party for his father peter who recently turned 75, whose delightful and beautiful wife lisa was last fall named president and c.e.o. of physicians for peace and joins him in their commitment to public service, and whose wonderful children, his daughter sidney, son peter, daughter katherine, have sustained and supported him in his service,
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his five years with me in the senate and his years before that with other senators. even their dog keelie, the irish doodle, has been a part of the extended webster family that has helped engage and entertain and support my office these last five years. when i first came to washington under the most unlikely of circumstances in 2010, i was looking for someone who could help me navigate the culture and the folk ways of this building and there was no one better suited to that than todd webster. he worked on the campaigns of senators harkin and byrd as the deputy communications director of the gore-lieberman mccain and as communications director for senator patty murray. after that, he was the communications director for senator tom daschle. after those years of service in the senate, he had gone off on his own to form the web strong group and he was the owner of webster strategies and he was a regular commentator on msnbc. when i had the chance to first
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meet him in 2010, i was encouraged that he was willing to offer his significant skill and talent to the challenge of helping me shape my team and decide on my trajectory here in the senate. so this nine-year senate veteran, this graduate of bowden college and possessor of a master's degree from the g.w. graduate school of political management, set off with me on what has been a fascinating and at times challenging trip. todd is the great athlete, a dedicated golfer, an honorable player, and the office "you can tell a lot about a person by how they behave on the golf course and todd is a gentleman. he plays fast but will go out of his way to look for your lost ball in the woods. if todd ever left the office a few minutes early on friday, he would announce to everybody that he was going to investigate some green space. and although rare, his trips, his outings on golf courses were a source of encouragement and
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relief. and on the soft ball field he was also a great contributor. a member of my team commented that he was a valuable member of our team known as the small wonders, after delaware's nick name and was known for his ability to turn tripless into doubles and for sacrificing his body at first base to get needed outs. he was also instrumental in the team's magical 2014 season and cinderella run to the play-offs. on his management side, todd with a constantly walk through the offices unannounced just to check in and see how folks were doing, rather than making staff find hirnlings he would proactively seek sought staff. his door was always open rather whether to chat about something work-related or to listen to something personal. he was always willing to listen and offer meaningful advice. when todd sensed that the afternoon was dragging on and our suite was in need after pick-me-up, he would go on a delaware wawa run, picking up
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snacks and caffeinated beverages to keep everybody focused on the one hand working to the end of what are sometimes very long days heemplet i got one interesting comment from a constituent who has worked for me and several other senators. she commented that on one visit to d.c., todd cared enough to make sure our whole constituent relations team had lunch in the senate dining room and in her many years in the senate she'd never been there. she was astonished he took the time out of his busy day to take time out to get to know them and learn what they do on behalf of the people of delaware every day. todd also understood and connected with my home commitment to the state and make an annual trek to the delaware state fair and devoted himself to learning more about delaware's all-important poultry boyce. i'll say that in equal parts did i my tboaft learn more about sports going to caps caps' the s and wizards events, and he joined me in going to the
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memorable visits of processing plants where thousands of chickens made the eye-opening transition from being broilers to being dinner. in addition to his many attributes, i'd like to thank hum for his strong constitution and dedication to advancing the agricultural interests of my home state, which even included trying scrapple on one occasion. mr. president, at a time when congressional budgets have been constantly under pressure and many in america believe our political system is dysfunctional, capitol hill depends on dedicated, loyal, optimistic, and positive public servants like todd. not only for the kind of policy and political accomplishments that ultimately show up on a resume or a job description but even more for the qualities and characteristics that make this place function. an unquestionably positive attitude, a management style that makes everyone from intern to seasoned professional feel welcome and valued. a willingness to speak candidly about him sieved and the office, about our challenges and our
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procesprospects, a keen perspecn the aspects of the modern political process and a rentless idealism that inspires those around him to keep believing and working harder. these are the hallmarks of todd's time in my office over the past five years. in the five years i've had the joy of working with him, he's always been at my side, helping my office get up and running and teaching me the ways of this town and this institution. walking around capitol hill with him, was often like walking with the mayor of the senate, every few steps, someone would stop to say hello to connect or talk about what's next. far too often people leave the hill, having forgotten long ago why they ever went into public service in the first place, which todd never has. throughout his nine years in the senate serving three different senators, he's remained cheerful, optimistic, tireless, and committed. his car is often the very first one in the russell garth in the
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morning and he's often the last to go home at the end of a work daivment whether his willingness to call a staff member after the passing of a staff member or saying "top of the morning," my office will simply not be the same without him, without his cheer, without his loyalty, without his hard work, without his energy, and without his optimism about what we can still do together here in this greatest institution in the american constitutional order. with that, mr. president, i'd like to offer my thanks and best wishes to my departing chief of staff todd webster. thank you. mr. president, i rise today to honor a fellow delawarean, u.s. capitol police officer bernard
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alston po who passed away last month at the age ever 44. he was a fixture in the house of representatives spending nearly 20 years on the hill with the capitol police. as one of his colleagues, officer scot scott mcbain notede was a gentle giant. his wife has described him as a genuine man who had a deep and genuine love for people. while i didn't have the privilege of knowing officer alston personally, we shared at least two commitment commitmentn washington to go to work and to be home in delaware at night. his shift started at 5:00 a.m., meaning he'd beginning his commute from magnolia, delaware, at a time when few if any of the people he would be protected were even awake. to those who knew him, vernon's willingness to drive three hours day just to be home with his family every night wasn't the only flecks of his commitment -- reflection of his commitment to service and family. in fact, vernon's entire career is a testament to his passion
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for helping others. while still a student at howard university, he joined the u.s. army reserves and served as an army reservist until 1994. after graduating from college in 1995, vernon joined the d.c. army national guard and served as member of the guard for another decade. in 1996 vernon joined the united states capitol police and spent the tbhoaks dblgds dedicated not just to keeping lawmakers, their families, and our offices visits safe but doing so with humility, with a smile, and with a relentlessly positive attitude. it is not just the job vernon chose to dedicate his life to that says so much about his character but how he did it. those who served with him will tell you how he always wore a smile on his face and never had a harsh word to say. two weeks ago vernon died. as he lived both his personal and professional lives, helping people around him. in this case, he was shoveling snow for his next-door neighbor in the aftermath of one of the
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biggest storms to hit our home state of delaware in years. for the employees of the house and senate, to the members of congress, ourselves, everyone here plays their part. in keeping this institution working and in making our country's legislative process functional and accessible. that accessibility, that openness is a guiding light to which nations around the world aspire and that is in many ways a direct reflection of the efforts of officer alston and his fellow capitol police officers who serve with bravery and tireless liness day in and -tirelessness day in and day owvment when we talk about bravery, we're ofng reerveg to our constituents. but just as important is service to colleagues and friends. vernon first met his wife any coal when they were both students at howard. but they didn't truly connect until running into each other near this capitol 15 years ago. it was just six months after that nicole remembers should she
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married the man of her dreams. let me leave with you if i might a passage from scripture which teaches us, "let us not become weary in doing good, for the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people." whether in the army reserve, whether at his post outside the canon house office building or at his home in magnolia, delaware, vernon sought the opportunity to do good to all people and in doing so he made a real difference in the lives of those he knew and those he served. while the words and tributes to officer alston that have poured forth from his colleagues and friends may provide little comfort today to his friends and family, it's my hope, my prayer that nicole, and his children, can take solace in knowing in the years to come that the man they saw loved was beloved by so
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many more. thank you, and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from delaware. mr. carper: the senator from delaware, my clerks and i are close friend and we ride the same train coming from and going to delaware. interests interesting listening to his remarks -- it was interesting listening to his remarks about vernon alston that actually reflect -- track fairly closely with what i'm prepared to say, but there are some differences. i think it is great that we're here and i think we're also speaking for johnconyers, a congressman, and who if he could speak on this floor, he would join us today as well. but, mr. president, i also want to join senator coons and you,
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who sit in this chair almost every time i speak on the floor -- i don't know how it works out, but good to see you -- and these new pages that have joined us this week. you'll never have a chance to meet this man, a capitol policeman for almost 20 years ago. i am going to say a few words about him and then we'll probably head to the train and head for home. but let me just say a few things about vernon alston jr. his dad is also vernon. he passed away at the age of 44. we did have a big snowstorm, we had a couple feet here. we had almost that much in parts of the delaware. and when vernon died, he was -- he'd actually just finished helping a neighbor dig out from a snowstorm. and that sort of epitomized his lievment hlife. he was always helping other people, not asking for anything
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in return. setting a good example for each and every one of us. but in life and death, vernon epitomized the best of the our country's selfless men and women who put their lives on the line to protect and serve this capitol complex and those of us who live and work in this part of our nation. the u.s. capitol police are some of america tio's finest men and women in uniform. we have wonderful men and women who us and all the folks who come from all over the world to visit this place throughout the world. each day these officers perform the most important jobs here on the hill, not just protecting those of us who have privileged to work here either as members of the senate, members of the house, or staffs, but also for the millions of visitors, folks who travel here from not just the 50 states but a lot of places around this world of ours. whether these officers are patrolling the grounds to prevent or to detect mischief,
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investigating suspicious activity, or responding to an emergency be, their mission is the same, and their mission is to protect one of our country's principal symbols of democracy: our united states capitol. their mission is not one that comes without sacrifice. just 17 years ago dish remember this to the day -- in 1998 two of our capitol police officers not far from the sound of my voice were gunned down in the line of duty when a gunman opened fire trying to force his way into the capitol. vernon and his service with the u.s. army reserve, with the national guard, and with the capitol police force, vernon consistently exhibited unwavering courage, dwoargs to duty, and -- devotion to diet, and above all honor. in the way he lived his life and the way we remember him, he reminds us of just how good we can be and ought to be. vernon was born in 1971 to his mom barbara alston and vernon
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alston sr. he was born in a town in italy where his dad, vernon srntion ss stationed in the u.s. air force. he spent the first ten years of his life knitly before his father was transferred to dover air force in dover, delaware. there he attended a grade school on the air force base and graduated from dover high school. he went on to attend howard university here in washington, d.c., and graduated from here about 20 years ago in 1995. vernon was still a student at howard university when he answered the call of duty, following in the stoopfollowingf his dad and grandfather who had been a world war ii veteran. in 98 191991 diswroin joined tht
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reserve. after graduating from college in 1995, vernon joined the district of columbia's army national guard and he served as a member of the army national guard for another ten years. i'm sure our presiding officer spends time with his troops in his home state. we have army guard and air guard in delaware. we have thousands of men and women who serve our country, 300 i think now are in afghanistan. we welcome some folks home this weekend, but here's what winston churchill used to say about people who serve in the guard or reserve. he said -- and have their own day jobs. winston churchill said they are twice the citizen, think about that. twice the citizen. i know a lot of people who are in the army guard who used to be in the army. they have the day jobs and serve
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our state and nation through the guard. they are two times the citizen. you know what? so was vernon. so was vernon. he began his service with the capitol police force 20 years ago. for those 20 years, he protected, he served the capitol complex and his community, including folks like us here, senators, our staffs, pages, sitting here at the dais today, members of our families, our staffs, members of their families, millions of folks who visit our capitol throughout each year. vernon's positive energy which senator coons has alluded to, his attitude made a lasting impression with his capitol police colleagues. in the latter part of his career, recently, most recently, vernon was stationed at the capitol power plant where it provides steam and water that's used to heat and cool buildings across the capitol complex. there at that plant, it was his responsibility to check visitors and staff at the door and work to keep that facility safe and
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secure every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout is the year. according to his colleagues, he always found time to ask others, well, how are you doing, how are you doing? and he possessed the all too rare quality of being a patient listener. my dad used to say to my sister and me that god gave us two ears, one mouth, we should use it in that proportion, listen a lot more than we talk. i always admired good listeners. vernon was one of those. one of his fellow officers described vernon as a beacon. a beacon of what? of positivity, a positive force. no matter the mission, an early morning for presidential inauguration, a late night with the state of the union address at the other end of the capitol, vernon always wore a smile on his face. in 2008 while vernon was on the job at patrolling the capitol grounds, he ran into a woman
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that he had actually run into before named nicole davis. despite attending howard university at the same time, vernon and nicole never really knew each other, but he talked to nicole earlier this week who also makes the compute from magnolia, delaware, just south of dover here for years to serve not in the capitol police but to serve our country in another capacity here in our nation's capital. and she told me the love story of her -- an abbreviated version of it, that when they were at howard university roughly the same point in time, vernon would see her from afar and would admire her. never maybe really summoned the courage to go up to her and say here's why -- but he admired her from afar and sort of wished he could get to know her. and many years later, while he
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was on patrol, i think at the corner of first and independence, guess who comes walking along? that same woman that he had admired from afar all those years ago. and they struck up a conversation, hit it off, and ended up going out on a date together, and the rest is history. six months later, they were married. i know some people who got married that quickly, and i'm one of them. vernon and nicole knew what they were looking for, and they were looking for each other and found each other. they have a wonderful family, a wonderful family that they have raised. and they became -- aboard the spirit of washington, later they became husband and wife. after they got married, they moved. in this case, to delaware. and as i said, magnolia. the people in magnolia, their claim to fame is magnolia, delaware, a little town is the center of the universe.
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there are probably other places that think they are the center of the universe, but the alston family lived in magnolia, the center of the universe, for a number of years. nicole, as senator coons has said, not only did vernon get up and drive to work every day, but he so did nicole. they didn't car-pool many days, they each drove separately. they love delaware, wanted to live in delaware but they wanted to work here and serve our nation in different roles. nicole served and worked for a number of years at the smithsonian national zoo while vernon was keeping things safe here in our capitol. together they have five children, five kids. brittany, a sophomore at delaware state university, the home of the hornets in dover. yasmism ne, a senior at polly tech high school, the home of the panthers just south of dover. brandon a sophomore at paul public charter school here in d.c. and israel and beretden who are both in -- and brayden, both in
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preschool. i want to share a story that we heard from vernon's mom the other day. it deals with the time when he was in the fourth grade. vernon's principal told vernon's parents that he was a great example to his peers, to other students. the principal said that their son would come to learn about vernon's -- the principal said that he knew he would come to learn about vernon's accomplishments and achievements in the newspapers years down the road. think of that. i don't know what my principal was thinking about me when i was in the fourth or fifth or sixth grade, but i don't think any of them ever thought i would end up here and that they would be reading about me in the newspaper or watching me on television, but his principal knew when vernon was not even 10 years old that he was a guy who was on his way to being somebody that they could be -- his parents could be enormously
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proud of. i think it's clear through the outpouring of love and the accounts of so many afterwards on his untimely passing that, you know, his principal was right. if his teachers are out there listening somewhere, the principal is out there listening somewhere, i would like to thing thank them for along with his parents raising a remarkable, remarkable young man. today i rise to commemorate vernon, to celebrate his life. with senator coons by my side and along and behalf of at-large congressman carney from delaware. we want to offer to vernon's family, particularly to nicole, their children, friends and family officers who are our support and our deepest sympathy on your tragic loss and really on the loss of us all here. we consider vernon and those with whom we serve as part of our family. i have two -- i ask my staff to see if they could just find a couple people who serve in the capitol police who might have
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something to say about vernon, and i want to just quote them and maybe close out my remarks with their -- with their words. these are the words of officer scott mcbane. here's what he said about vern alston. "vern alston was an outstanding human being. to know vern was to love him." officer mcbane goes on to say, "i was privileged to work with vern for three years at the traffic one checkpoint at the house division on the house side. he treated everyone he met with patience, with good humor and remarkable kindness. a great talker who told very funny stories. he also had the rare quality, all too rare quality of being a sympathetic and a patient listener." we've heard that before, didn't we? smart, positive, always supportive. people would stop by all day to
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see vern and share their stories with him. a sympathetic friend to so many, vern will be greatly missed by all who knew him. thank you, scott mcbane, officer with capitol police for sharing those memories of vernon alston. i have one more here from another capitol police officer who knew and worked with vernon. this officer's name is michael woodward. and michael said these words about vernon alston. "of all the people i've had the honor to work with, vernon alston was by far the most positive, warm, friendly and outgoing person i have ever met." let me just stop there. how many people do you suppose there are in the world who say those words about us? if we happen to be senators or staff or our families. those are wonderful words. someone could say about us, that we were the most positive, warm, friendly, outgoing person that somebody has ever met. what a compliment. he goes on to say, "vern was
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always one to greet you with smile and ask how you and your family were doing. it didn't matter what was going on, if we were coming in early for the inauguration or staying late for the state of the union, he always, always had a smile on his face. i never heard him speak a negative word or raise his voice. he treated everyone as a close friend and again was a positive force, a beacon of positivity. his passing leaves a hole that cannot be filled." senator coons closed with a little scrip tour from the testament, i think it was revelations, if i'm not mistaken. i think i will try to paraphrase maybe a little something from -- from luke and from book of james. people may not believe what we
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say, they will believe what we do. people may not believe what we say, they will believe what we do. and we lead by our example. and, you know, it can't be do as i say but really do as i do. and he, vernon, throughout his life was a great example, not just to the people with whom he worked on the police force here, not just with all of us who came in contact with him throughout the day or week, but some of these millions of people who maybe their only lasting impression of our country that they really took home with them wherever they came from around the world was this wonderful capitol police officer who took the time to talk with them, listen to them, to be patient and to be helpful and to be friendly. there is a great lesson for all of us in that, a great lesson
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for all of us. and for that, vernon, we thank you. god bless you. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk shall call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. a senator: i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. ms. heitkamp: thank you,mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to talk about a bill that i would love to have mr. president's sponsorship, given how important the port in louisiana is to
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america's agriculture and the products we ship across the world. it's called the agricultural export expansion act that i introduced with senator boozman as my cosponsor, and we have a great lineup, bipartisan lineup of people who are interested in this. so what does this bill do? i will tell you, very rarely does a day go by whether i'm in north dakota or whether i'm here in washington, d.c. that i don't speak with or hear from north dakota farmers and ranchers. the agricultural economy is absolutely critical to north dakota. almost a quarter of north dakota workers are farmers and ranchers or they're employed by -- in farm-related jobs. during every meeting, farmers and ranchers express the urgent need, the urgent need to open up trade with cuba and to stop tying the hands of our producers. just on tuesday, our barley growers were in my office telling me about how important the market in cuba could be.
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last week it was the dry beans council telling me what i already know from my visit with cuba, the products we grow here in the united states, like north dakota pinto beans or arkansas rice, are compatible with the cuban diet and there is high demand for our high-quality products. these aren't just crops that north dakota grows. these are crops that north dakota knows exceptionally well and that we excel at. my state is number one -- the number-one producer of barley, multiple varieties of beans, lentils and certain types of wheat. enabling agricultural exports to cuba would be a huge boon to north dakota farmers and ranchers as well as those from many other states. unfortunately because of trade barriers, the united states puts on itself, the cuban people aren't eating north dakota bea beans, kansas wheat or arkansas rice. instead, they're importing those products from countries much
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further away, like brazil, canada, europe and even vietnam. and i would tell you, not only in terms of proximity of our product to the cuban market, which is a huge freight advantage, we also have the highest quality of products. and so we are forfeiting what, in fact, would be a natural market for us. think about that. in this day where trade is so important, where improving our balance of trade is so importa important, we won't be able to access the cube an market. now, congress has eased some restrictions on exports to cuba for agricultural products. they did that back in 2000 with the passage of the trade sanctions reform and export enhancement act. that was a great first step. we did make some progress in increased sales to cuba. unfortunately, now that same law is holding us back. the administration made
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important changes to u.s. policy and opened up some travel and some trade to cuba starting with their january 2015 changes. most recently, including last month, the administration made more changes, including the allowance for financing of authorized exports to cuba. unfortunately, those exports are other than agricultural exports. because of our once forward-looking bill, agricultural exporters are prohibited now from offering financing that all other exporters can provide to cuba. that needs changing. in 2014, i visited cuba. i met with cuban agricultural trade officials to discuss bilateral economic benefits of expanding agricultural exports from north dakota and the united states to cuba. these are conversations we need to continue to have. last april, i and senator
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boozman introduced our bipartisan bill to level the playing field for our farmers and ranchers and make sure that we can compete with the rest of the world in cuba. what does that bill do and how does it improve our trade relationship with cuba? one of the greatest barriers we have in getting our products to cuba is we can't finance them. and you might say, well, we don't want to put government taxpayer dollars at risk. i'm not -- this bill does not put one taxpayer dollar at risk. we are talking about opening up the market so we can access private financing for agricultural exports to cuba. no -- let me repeat that -- no taxpayer dollars are at risk. it's based entirely on individual risk asessionment and decisions. our bill is supported by the u.s. agricultural coalition for cuba, a wide-ranging coalition, including every grower group and
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industry association. this week the cuban government announced that el nino is going to create an even greater loss of agricultural products in cuba. this is going to create a even greater opportunity for our agricultural exports. a greater opportunity. why? why, why would we let other countries keep eating our lunch and dominating this important market, especially given our proximity? it is time for congress to get out of american agricultural's way and let private business make exporting and financing decisions. i want to urge all of my colleagues to cosponsor and help pass our bill, 1049, the agricultural export and expansion act. and i want to talk about the challenges, finally, that american agriculture has, as we look at higher dollar values has
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put tremendous stress on our products. we've seen corn prices drop. we've seen soybean prices drop. we've seen american agriculture challenged in ways we really haven't seen are for the last decade. how do we fix that problem, with another government program? maybe we'll have to help or expand the farm bill to deal with our food security issues created by low commodity prices. i won't take that off the table. but i will tell you the surest way that we can get out from underneath these challenges is export, is to provide for trade. it's one of the reasons why i supported t.p.a. i believe that it's great for american commodities to access additional markets and take down trade barriers to provide us with market. but why are we artificially standing in the way of private investment and private financing of american agricultural products? it is time that we do the right
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thing by american agriculture, that we open up this market. we can take incremental step without having this body agree to lifting any kind of embargo. we can take this incremental step without changing the prohibition we have on federal sponsored marketing programs. and we can begin to access the cuban market, introduce our high-quality beans, edible peas, lentils. we can do that. i'm going to close with this story. my great friend marks rea cantwell, the state of washington -- maria cantwell, the state of washington grows a lot of what we call cross crops. although i would argue ours are probably better than what's grown in the state of washington. maria cantwell went on a trade mission to try and sell washington state lentils. she was successful in convincing, after hours of listening to the trade officials
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and mr. castro for hours, in convincing him to buy lentils. the lentils he eventually bought were from north dakota. we have an opportunity to access this market, just not for north dakota but for the state of washington, for the state of louisiana, for the state of arkansas, for the state of kansas, for all of our agricultural producers, open up this market, give us the ability to do what we do in every other place. we aren't putting taxpayer dollars at risk. we are simply asking for access to markets. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the following fellows in senator durbin's office be granted floor privileges for the remainder of the 114th congress: jeremy ward, elizabeth lawrence, carla hagan, craig crawford, who's
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with the judiciary committee. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. heitkamp: thank you,mr. president. again, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the prethe presiding officer: te clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mr. sasse: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be
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vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sasse: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the consideration of calendar number 465, that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, that no further motions be in order, that any statements related to the nomination be printed in the record, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sasse: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of h. con. res. 109 which is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h. con. res. 10 the 9 concurrent resolution authorizing the use of emancipation hall in the capitol visitors center and so forth. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate shall proceed to the measure. mr. sasse: i ask unanimous consent the concurrent resolution be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sasse: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. con. 363 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 363, congratulating the university of mount union football team, and so forth. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate shall proceed to the measure. mr. sasse: i ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sasse: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 364 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk shall report. the clerk: senate resolution 364, relative to the death of marlow cook, former united states senator for the commonwealth of kentucky. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate shall proceed to the measure.
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mr. sasse: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and the motion -- and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sasse: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the appointment at the desk appear separately in the record as if made by the chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sasse: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 2:00 p.m. monday, february 8. following the prayer and pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date and that the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. further, that following leader remarks, the senate be in a period of morning business until 5:00 p.m., with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. finally, that the senate adjourn under the provisions of s. res. 364 as a mark of respect for the
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late marlow cook, former senator from the commonwealth of kentucky. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sasse: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. on monday, february 8, and does so as a mark of respect for the late marlow cook, former for the late marlow cook, former >> a bill setting energy policy stalled in the senate today after senators failed to reach agreement over funds to help michigan with its lead tainted water. the first policy builder nearly ten years would modernize the nation's electric grid streamlined permitting for natural gas exports and improved energy efficiency standards for commercial and federal buildings. senators said they continued negotiations over the water situation over the weekend and continued work on the energy
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bill next week. we'll have live coverage when senators return on c-span2. presidential candidates continue their push through new hampshire today. the first in the nation primary is tuesday. jeb bush is holding a town hall this evening at west running brook middle school in derry new hampshire. former first lady barbara bush will join him. you can watch live at seven eastern on c-span. the citizens of the state are not easily won. they come to the meeting places for political discussion areas ♪ in the towns and cities they wait in the snow and sleet to cast their vote. thanks to the people of hampshire -- >> first in the nation primary. >> new hampshire.
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>> it's great to be back in new hampshire. >> they've called new hampshire's primary the most cherished. thank you so much for coming to new hampshire. >> this is a place that you can observe a candidate in the heat of a dialogue and tough questions about their positions on the issues. it's not just a place where -- [inaudible] they take their first in the nation animation in the nation primary is very seriously. this is one of the town hall meetings we are going to be having. this is my 20th town hall meeting. >> welcome to the 115th town hall meeting here in new hampshire. [cheering] ♪
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>> british paymaster david cameron delivered a statement before the house of commons yesterday about the status of the european negotiations and future of the membership in the eu. the uk will decide later this year whether to leave or stay in the union. following the prime ministers remarks he responded to questions from the members. this is about an hour. >> statement for the prime minister. >> i would like to make a statement on the progress for the renegotiation. the house now has a chance to study the documents published by the european council yesterday. i believe this is an important milestone in the process of reform, renegotiation referendum and we set out in the manifesto in which the government is
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whether it. we have now legislated for the referendum and we are holding the renegotiation. so, let me set out the problems we are trying to fix and the progress that we have made. first, we don't want to have our country turned down in an ever closer political union in europe. we are a proud and independent nation with proud and democratic institutions that have served us well over the centuries. for us to make europe is about working together to advance a shared prosperity and our shared security. it's not about being sucked into some kind of state not now and not ever. mr. speaker, the text and the special status according to the uk in a clearly causes the political integration. and actually to go further to make it clear that the countries don't even have to aim for the common destination. this is a recognition in europe that britain has long been
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arguing for. keeping britain out of the ever closer union, i also wanted to strengthen the role of the house and all national parties. so we now have a proposal in the text that if brussels comes up in the legislation that we don't want, we can get together with others and block it with a red card can also propose a new mechanism to finally enforce the principle of the subsidiary near to the house which states as far as possible they should sit here in the parliament and if not in brussels. so the european union has to go through the power they exercise and workout what is no longer needed and should be returned to the nationstates. second, i said we wanted to make europe more competitive and deal with a with otherworldly demand that iraq received that can cost jobs here in britain and across the european union. we asked for commitments on all the areas central to the competitiveness and the international trade deal signed with = the single market completed and regulations stripped back. all these things are covered in
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the text. there's a new proposal or a specific target to reduce the burden of business in the sectors that will help small and medium-sized businesses and there is a mechanism to drive the targets through and cut the level of red tape year-over-year. third, we are clear that britain is going to keep the pack in my view forever but we need to be just as clear that we can keep them in a european union that will be fair to the current. simply come it must not become a euro only club and if it does then it won't be for us. so we called for the call for the principles to protect the single market for britain. we said there must be no discrimination, no disadvantage for businesses that use our currency wherever they are located in the eu and no option for britain ever again to be forced to bail out the countries. all the principles are reflected in the text which is legally
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binding and that is a mechanism they have the ability to act out all the principles and particular interest. we should be clear they should depend on a level playing field in a single market where there is financial services or cars or anything else so the plan if agreed would is agreed would provide the strongest protections for britain from discrimination and unfair rules and practices for instance never again can they try the policy for the settling of the complex trades they must only take place in the euro zone countries. these are protections we couldn't have had if britain were outside of the european union and forth, we want to deal with the pressures that have become too great. of course we need to do more to control migration from outside of the european union. we are doing that and we will be announcing more measures on the front. but we need to control migration from within.
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the draft text represents the strongest package we've ever had on tackling the abuse of the movement and closing down the fact groups to britain and it includes greater freedoms to act against fraud and prevent those that pose a threat from coming to this country and it includes the overturn of the decision by the european court which is about thousands of migrants to marry other eq nationals and acquire the right to stay in the country and it has been a source of perpetual frustration that we can't impose or immigration rules on third country nationals coming from the european union. now come after the hard work of the secretary, we have a proposal to put that right. mr. speaker, there are new proposals to reduce the factor that the benefit system exerts across europe by allowing access to welfare from the day that someone arrives. people said that europe wouldn't even recognize we have this problem but the text explicitly recognizes that the systems can act as an unnatural drawl to come to this country.
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mr. speaker, the manifesto set out for objectives to solve the problem and i mention that that the minister's questions already delivered two of them within months. already the migrants will no longer be be be up to play universal a deeply universal credits or the unemployment benefits while looking for work and it's those coming that have a framework within six months that can be required to leave. we have secured the proposals for the other two areas. if someone comes from another country leaving their family at home they will have their benefit played to compete page of the local rate, not at a british raid. and we've made progress on reducing overall of the generous benefits. people said that it would be impossible to end the idea of something for nothing and that the benefits must completely be out of the question. but that is now what is in the text. in emergency brake an emergency brake that will leave people coming to britain from within and have to wait until they have full access to the benefits and
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the european commissioner said very clearly that britain out of place already to use the mechanism so is a necessary legislation to be able to implement it shortly after the referendum. finally, let me be absolutely clear about the legal staff as start us of the changes that are now on offer. people said we would never get something that was legally binding. the plan is agreed would be exactly that. the changes would be binding in international law and would be deposited at the u.s.. they cannot be changed without the unanimous agreement unanimous agreement that every country that includes britain so when i said i want to change that, if i've got. mr. speaker ibb that we are making progress in all four areas. but the process is far from over. there are details that need to be put down in the negotiations to try to agree with 27 other countries. it will require hard work,
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determination and patience to see it through but i do the leave that with the text and all of the work we've done with our european partners britain is getting closer to the point and it's of course right we should debate the details so in addition to the statement the government would also make time for the debate on the floor of the house. mr. speaker as we approach the choice let me be clear about two things first i'm not arguing and i will never argue that britain couldn't survive outside the european union. we are the fifth-largest economy in the world with one of the most extensive influential networks on the planet. the question is not separate and that britain succeed outside of the union but it's how well we be most successful and prosperous and create the most jobs. how will we have the most influence on the rules that shape the economy and affect us and the most secure and i've
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always said the best answers to the questions can be found within the reformed european union but let me say again if we can secure the changes i would rule nothing out in the second even if we secure the changes you'll never hear me you will never hear me say this organization is now fixed. far from it. there will be many things that remain to be reformed and pretend all continue to lead the way and make sure europe works and the countries of europe and the businesses and people of europe to work and have security and get on and make the most of their lives. so they will be keeping a lid on the budget seen through the commitments that we have secured in the renegotiation and showing britain can have the best of both worlds and in the parts of europe that work for us and those that don't end a single
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market traveling around europe for an organization where cooperation and security and trade can make britain and the partners safer and more prosperous but we are indeed we will never be perfect european army had never be forced to bail out with the taxpayers money and never be part of the superstate. that is the part that can lead to a fresh settlement in the union that will offer the best future for the job security and strength for the country which promised nearly a year ago will offer security at every stage of their lives. that's what we are fighting for and i would commend a statement from the house. >> i'm grateful for the feminist or sending me the statement 45 minutes ago or an hour ago, i'm


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