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What is Puerto Rico? Many Americans - if not most - are unaware that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States. In this episode, learn the history of our scandalous treatment of the US citizens living in Puerto Rico and explore how Puerto Rico’s past foreshadowed the United States' present… and possibly our future. Executive Producer: Ralph and Carol Lynn Rivera Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD128: Crisis in Puerto Rico Additional Reading Book: War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson A. Denis, March 2016. Article: Puerto Rico Warning Congress Its Health Crisis Will Impact U.S. States by Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News, March 22, 2017. Document: Testimony of Jose B. Carrion III, Chairman, Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico, March 22, 2017. Article: Why the GOP's proposals to cap Medicaid funding won't work by Ana Mulero, Healthcare Dive, March 21, 2017. Article: Fed Raises Interest Rates for Third Time Since Financial Crisis by Binyamin Appelbaum, The New York Times, March 15, 2017. Letter: Fiscal Plan Certification, Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico, March 13, 2017. Press Release: Jenniffer Gonzalez Calls for Fiscal Oversight Board Action to Prevent Medicaid Crisis by Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, March 13, 2017. Article: Tensions heighten following control board rejection of fiscal plan by Luis J. Valentin, Caribbean Business, March 9, 2017. Article: A bad deal for Puerto Rico, Globe control board opinion, The Boston Globe, March 5, 2017. Article: Quest for statehood: Puerto Rico's new referendum aims to repair economic disaster by Danica Coto, Salon, February 3, 2017. Letter: Letter to Governor Rossello Nevares, Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico, January 18, 2017. Article: Puerto Rico's New Governor Takes Over as Debt Crisis Reaches Climax by Tatiana Darie, Bloomberg, January 3, 2017. Article: Puerto Rico Control Board Names Carrion Chair Amid Protests by Katherine Greifeld, Bloomberg, September 30, 2016. Article: Puerto Rico's Invisible Health Crisis by Valeria Pelet, The Atlantic, September 3, 2016. Op-Ed: Understanding Puerto Rico's Healthcare Collapse by Johnny Rullan, Morning Consult, June 20, 2016. Article: Puerto Rico not sovereign, Supreme Court says by Richard Wolf, USA Today, June 9, 2016. Article: US supreme court says Puerto Rico must abide by federal double jeopardy rule by Alan Yuhas, The Guardian, June 9, 2016. Op-Ed: No More Colonialism Disguised as Financial Assistance: The US Must Relinquish Puerto Rico by Nelson A. Denis, Truthout, May 19, 2016. Article: Sea Turtles Delay Debt-Ridden Puerto Rico's Gas-Switching Plan by Jonathan Crawford, Bloomberg, March 23, 2016. Article: There's a big sale on Puerto Rican homes by Heather Long, CNN Money, February 21, 2016. Article: The US shipping industry is putting a multimillion dollar squeeze on Puerto Rico by Rory Carroll, Business Insider, July 9, 2015. Article: Harvard's billionaire benefactor also a GOP sugar daddy by Vanessa Rodriguez,, June 4, 2015. Interview: How the United States Economically and Politically Strangled Puerto Rico by Mark Karlin, Truthout, May 24, 2015. Article: Why Have So Many People Never Heard Of The MOVE Bombing? by Gene Demby, NPR, May 18, 2015. Article: Puerto Rico Expands Tax Haven Deal For Americans To Its Own Emigrants by Janet Novack, Forbes, January 27, 2015. Article: Citizenship Renunciation Fee Hiked 422%, And You Can't Come Back by Robert W. wood, Forbes, January 13, 2015. Article: Puerto Rican Population Declines on Island, Grows on U.S. Mainland by D'Vera Cohn, Eileen Pattien and Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew Research Center, August 11, 2014. Article: Puerto Rico woos rich with hefty tax breaks by Sital S. Patel and Ben Eisen, Market Watch, April 22, 2014. Article: Bankers Crashed the Economy - Now They Want to Be Your Landlord by Rebecca Burns, Michael Donley, and Carmilla Manzanet, Moyers & Company, April 2, 2014. Article: 'Backdoor bailout' boosts Puerto Rico's revenues, Bond News, Reuters, February 10, 2014. Article: Economy and Crime Spur New Puerto Rican Exodus by Lizette Alvarez, The New York Times, February 8, 2014. Article: Everything You Need to Know About the Territories of the United States, Everything Everywhere, June 27, 2013. Document: Puerto Rico's Political Status and the 2012 Plebiscite: Background and Key Questions by R. Sam Garrett, Congressional Research Service, June 25, 2013. GAO Report: Economic Impact of Jones Act on Puerto Rico's Economy by Jeffry Valentin-Mari, Ph.D. and Jose I. Alameda-Lozada, Ph.D. April 26, 2012. Article: Massive Puerto Rico pipeline triggers debate by Danica Coto, The San Diego Union-Tribune, May 14, 2011. Article: Island residents sue U.S., saying military made them sick by Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein, CNN, February 1, 2010. Article: At Riggs Bank, A Tangled Path Led to Scandal by Timothy L. O'Brien, The New York Times, July 19, 2004. Case Study: Money Laundering and Foreign Corruption: Enforcement and Effectiveness of the Patriot Act by the Minority Staff of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, United States Senate, July 15, 2004. Article: MIT to Pay Victims $1.85 Million in Fernald Radiation Settlement by Zareena Hussain, The Tech, January 7, 1998. Article: Police Drop Bomb on Radicals' Home in Philadelphia by William K. Stevens, The New York Times, May 14, 1985. References U.S. Energy Information Administration Puerto Rico Territory Energy Profile Puerto Rico Territory Profile and Energy Estimates Average Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector Video: 1985 Philadelphia MOVE bombing This Day in History: March 2, 1917: Puerto Ricans become U.S. citizens, are recruited for war effort FBI Files Pedro Albizu Campos - includes letter about his radiation torture Pedro Albizu Campos - full files Luis Munoz-Marin 1986 Congressional Report: US Army & US Atomic Energy Commission radiation experiments on US citizen prisoners 1995 Dept of Energy Report: Human Radiation Experiments OpenSecrets Excelerate Energy: Profile for 2016 Election Cycle Crowley Maritime Excelerate Energy Company website Lobbying Report American Maritime Partnership Company website Lobbying Report Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico Control Board Website Control Board Document List Website: Puerto Rico Tax Incentives Law 20: Export Services Act Law 22: Individual Investors Act Department of Economic Development & Commerce: Act 73: Economic Incentives for the Development of Puerto Rico 26 US Code 936: Puerto Rico and possession tax credit IRS: Expatriation Tax Forbes Company Profiles Johnson & Johnson Pfizer GlaxoSmithKline Ponce Massacre Museum Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Oversight Hearing on The Status of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) Restructuring Support Agreement, Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, March 22, 2017. Witnesses Panel I The Honorable Ricardo Rossello, Governor of Puerto Rico Mr. Gerardo Portela-Franco, Executive Director - Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority Panel 2 Mr. Jose B. Carrion III, Chairman - Financial Oversight and Management Board of Puerto Rico Mr. Luis Benitez Hernandez, Chairman - PREPA Governing Board Mr. Stephen Spencer, Managing Director - Houlihan Lokey Mr. Adam Bergonzi, Managing Director & Chief Risk Officer - National Public Finance Guarantee Corporation Mr. Rob Bryngelson, President & CEO - Excelerate Energy Ms. Ana J. Matosantos, Member of Financial Oversight and Management Board of Puerto Rico Interview: Interview with Luis M. Balzac, March 7, 2017. Luis: Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico, contrary to common opinion, we do pay some federal taxes. What we don’t pay is federal income tax. Jen: Okay. Luis: So we don’t pay federal income tax. However, Puerto Ricans pay Medicare at the same rate that you pay in San Francisco/California. Jen: Do Puerto Ricans get the same benefits that I get in San Francisco? Luis: No, we do not get the same benefits that you get in San Francisco. Jen: Oh. Luis: So, for example, there are states like California, New York, and other states that I believe get about an 83 percent federal subsidy for Medicare expenses. There are other states—and I realize I’m being recorded, but don’t quote me on it. This you can check, also, very easily— Jen: Sure. Luis: Other states—I think it’s Tennessee— Jen: And you don’t have to give me exact numbers. Just go ahead and, like, big picture, tell me the situation. Luis: Got it. Jen: Yeah. Luis: Even better. So, there are states like California and New York that get about 80-some percent of reimbursement on their major expenses from the federal government. There are other states that get less. I think Tennessee gets less; I think Tennessee gets, like, 50-some percent. Puerto Rico, I think it gets about 23 percent. Jen: Oh, god. Luis: It’s important to understand that, where does the other—if we use 23 percent as an example for Medicare—where does the other 77 percent come from? State funding. Jen: Okay. Luis: So, please understand that if you move to Puerto Rico as a U.S. citizen, and you, for any reason, need Medicare, and you go to the hospital, those hospitals that you go to have to comply with MCS, which is part of HHS—Health and Human Services. And you have to comply with all the regulations and requirements of a hospital to be reimbursed and enjoy federal dollars. However, that institution/Puerto Rico is only getting cents on the dollar compared to other states, but someone needs to make up for that short fall. Jen: Yeah. Luis: The state does. Jen: Well— Luis: That lack of equality translates to Puerto Rico’s budget. Luis: I’m a proud American, and I will defend our country wherever I go. Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: But I’m also a realist. I cannot expect Congress to give the people in Puerto Rico a fair share of the pie when we don’t have a delegation sitting at the table when the pie is divided. Luis: When I ran the office of the governor of Puerto Rico in New York, and we were lobbying to be included into the Affordable Care Act, my biggest argument, when I met with members of the Senate or the House, in states that had a large Puerto Rican population—Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, by way of example—my point to these members of Congress was, I need your help; I need you to be a voice to Puerto Rico to be included in the Affordable Care Act. And the staff would be like, are you kidding me, Luis? That is none of our business. And I will be like, well, let me—give me an opportunity to maybe convince you that it is your business. The problem is— Jen: Yeah, because you’ll pay for them when they come here. Luis: —you will pay for it. And by the way, we don’t even have a way to qualify because guess what, a lot of them are coming in, getting services, and going back to Puerto Rico once they’re done. Some are staying— Jen: Yeah, that's what I would do. Luis: Some are staying, but others are just coming here, and you have no way of qualifying and quantifying it because they’re United States citizens. You can’t stop it. Jen: Yeah— Luis: And how could you blame them? How could you blame them if Puerto Rico does not have the facilities to treat a cancer or SSI or any other initiative and my mother is risking her life? I’m going to take her to Orlando— Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: —without a doubt. Jen: Yeah. Luis: I will say that Puerto Rico, even though we have all the issues that you and I have been talking about, we are still part of the United States, and it’s somewhat similar to the changes that we see here, stateside, in the contiguous 48 states, where I would say that from coast to coast, from Florida to California, I think the middle class in the United States has been shrinking. Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: Likewise in Puerto Rico. Jen: Okay. Luis: But I would say that it is more like the United States, and we are not like Latin America and other third-world jurisdictions. We have a decent-size middle class because we don’t have the IRS because we are not paying federal income tax. There is in Puerto Rico a large underground economy where people work on the side, get paid in cash, and don’t report their earnings to the—there's no IRS—or to the local version of the IRS which is the Treasury Department. So, what you have in Puerto Rico is that you see somewhat of a thriving economy. So those people that are in commercial real estate and they’re doing business with big national chains like Macy’s and JCPenney and all that stuff, you will see in Puerto Rico sales records being broken and people spending a lot of money in the island. So, it’s not like the Dominican Republic. Even people in the projects that are subsidized by state and federal dollars, you can see that they have a/c in the walls, the projects are made out of cement, and you will be able to see all that when you go there in person. So, when you drive around Puerto Rico, all over the island, it is nothing like the Dominican Republic. We are way better, and— Jen: Well, I’ve never been there, either, so a comparison doesn’t really… Luis: Yeah. We are way better—and I realize that I’m about to contradict myself, okay?—we are way better, and it is thanks to the United States. So even though inequality has got all these problems and it’s affected the debt and all that stuff and we are looking now at serious issues, Puerto Rico is still better than—I will never move to Cuba because I think Cuba is better than Puerto Rico, so I get it— Puerto Rico is United States, and we’re doing better than most. Jen: So that brings me to the control board, because now we have Puerto Ricans saying on paper, no doubt, we want to become a state, and yet Congress just did this thing where your government, your state government, or closest thing—what do you call it? Territorial government? Luis: Yeah. Jen: Is that the proper phrase? Luis: Territory. Jen: Okay. Luis: Yeah. Jen: So your territorial government was, basically just taken over by this weird board that has some dictatorial powers. Is there any one in Puerto Rico that’s happy about this? Is there something I’m not seeing? Luis: Yeah. Okay, so, I’m going to compare that. First of all, let’s be fair, and we’re not the first jurisdiction that, let’s say, enjoys the benefit of a control board, because D.C., New York City, have both had it in different jurisdiction relationships, but they did, and it helped. Okay? Jen: O-kay. Luis: The difference between New York City is the following: you have a city that imposed a board by the state. So people in the city of New York, even though they had a control board years back, they had a control board what was decided by politicians who they elected. Jen: Yeah. Luis: Okay? Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: So, that makes it—but it’s still the same in that you have a higher jurisdiction imposing a control board for fiscal reasons over a lower jurisdiction. Correct? Jen: Yes. Luis: And then you have D.C. They also had a control board, and the list goes on and use the federal government, if I’m not mistaken. So there you have a jurisdiction of a federal imposing in D.C., which is not independent. Now, let me tell you where emotions can go a little crazy here. And remember I’m a stakeholder; I’m pro American. Jen: Yeah. Luis: However, we did not invite the United States of America, back a hundred-and-some years ago; we were invaded. Jen: Yeah. Luis: So, we are invaded, we are treated unequally, that inequality causes financial chaos. We are told by the Supreme Court that our constitution is not really a constitution—you should research that; that was recent—an opinion by the Supreme Court. So, really, our constitution, that we thought we had a constitution, is not worth anything on paper because Congress has complete control of that jurisdiction. Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: So, what we have is, back to your question about a board, is a federal government imposing a board on people who did not vote for those that imposed that board. Jen: Yeah. And I know that in Congress Puerto Rico has a representative at the time that this was created—I think it was Pedro Pierluisi—but he didn’t have a vote, so— Luis: No. Jen: And even on the board, the governor gets to sit at the table, but the governor of Puerto Rico doesn’t get a vote of the board. Luis: No. And there’s a slight correction to what you said about Pierluisi in your podcast: the resident commissioner does have a vote in Congress—not on committees, on subcommittees. Okay? Jen: Okay, so he has a vote on a subcommittee but not— Luis: No. Jen: —in the committee or the main House. Luis: Correct. Now, are you ready for the kicker? Jen: Yes. Luis: If the vote on a subcommittee comes to a point where the resident commissioner becomes the deciding vote, it doesn’t go. You’ve got to vote again. Jen: No! Luis: Yeah. Jen: So, that’s— Luis: Can I give you an— Jen: —kind of not really having a vote. I mean— Luis: No. Jen: —he does— Luis: No, I know. Luis: Let’s talk for a second about the pharmaceutical industry, okay? Jen: Yeah, because— Luis: Not to be confused— Jen: —just so that I’m on the same page as you, you worked for Pfizer for a while, too, right? Luis: I directed governor affairs for Pfizer, and that included jurisdictions of New York City and Puerto Rico. Jen: Okay— Luis: And San Francisco. Jen: —and when did you do that? Luis: I did that in 20—I took a year off of the government and I went to Pfizer, did not like it, then went back to Puerto Rico government. So that was 2011. Jen: So was that before the Clinton administration took away the tax credits or after? Luis: Oh, no, after. Oh, yes. Jen: Okay, okay. Luis: 2011, before I became a deputy secretary of the United States. Jen: Okay, got you. Luis: Okay. Jen: So this is after all the tax benefits were gone, and was Pfizer still—when did the pharmaceutical industry, like, leave Puerto Rico? When did they leave? Luis: No way. Why are you saying that? Jen: Because that's what I read. Luis: That's wrong. Jen: Is that not what happened? Luis: No! That’s wrong. I’m about to clarify that. Jen: Okay. Luis: All right. So, if you look at the pharmaceutical industry, if you search, let’s say, BIO, I believe BIO is still the pharmaceutical, big pharma association, the industry association, trade association, okay? If you look at that, you will see that in Puerto Rico BIO had a membership of a huge number of pharmaceuticals. And then you may look at BIO now, and the Puerto Rico chapter, which has another name, has way less pharmaceuticals. So the normal person that doesn’t understand how things work will say, well, everyone left. Well, let’s slow down and look at what are the names that are missing. Well, some of those names don’t exist anymore because the industry has completely merged and consolidated their resources. By way of example, I will tell you that in Puerto Rico alone, Pfizer bought Wyeth. Jen: Pfizer what? Luis: Pfizer bought Wyeth. Jen: Oh, okay. So, okay. Luis: Okay? Jen: Gotcha. So Pfizer got bigger by eating a smaller company. Luis: Correct. And there’s nothing wrong with that. So what happened was that I believe at that time when that happened, Pfizer had three operations in Puerto Rico, Wyeth had three operations in Puerto Rico, okay? So now when they merge, they have six plants in Puerto Rico. So what do they do? They are able to— economies of scale and to do streamline, and they are able to close two and stay with four. And now Wyeth is not in Puerto Rico— Jen: But the effect— Luis: —and people think Wyeth— Jen: Is the effect of that, of the people of Puerto Rico, that the people that worked in those two plants are now out of a job? Luis: But it has nothing to do with 936. Jen: Remind me. I did that episode, like, eight months ago. 936 was the tax credits disappearing? Was that…? Luis: That’s exactly—they disappeared with a coin toss, you said. Jen: Okay, okay. Thank you. Luis: So, so, that consolidation, that example that I’m sharing with you, I believe all happened after 936 stopped, but the reason why Pfizer and Wyeth consolidated was for reasons that had nothing to do with 936. Jen: Yeah. Luis: It had a lot to do with being more productive and being able to share assembly lines and being able to share resources and the same CEO and all that stuff. And so, to the untrained eye, to the Puerto Rican, what they think or see is, oh, Wyeth left. No, they didn’t leave; it was absorbed by a larger pharmaceutical. Jen: So, is the pharmaceutical industry still a major employer in Puerto Rico? Luis: Yes, it is. And I will tell something else: Pfizer and many pharmaceuticals, for many years, are enjoying tax benefits on—there’s something called CFC—controlled foreign corporations—and they are able to enjoy benefits that are comparable to 936. It’s just a different name; a different loophole, you want to call it—I don’t want to call it a loophole—it’s a different tax advantage. Luis: Remember, the pharmaceutical industry, way back when—and we’re talking about right after Puerto Rico changed from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy, okay? Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: I really need you to follow me on this. Puerto Rico used to be sugarcane industry. Jen: Yeah. Luis: And we changed. Take my great uncle. He was the governor of Puerto Rico for the other party, the commonwealth party, and him and Governor Luis Munoz Marin came up with this tax incentive with the federal government and 936 were invented, and Puerto Rico changed—completely—and became a manufacturing economy. Jen: Okay. Luis: No more sugar cane; now we’re manufacturing. And when that happened, pharma came to Puerto Rico. What we have to remember is manufacturing industry also included, probably, the largest textile industry. Textile was huge in Puerto Rico. Now— Jen: Is it still there? Luis: No! Why—now, you’re smart. Why do you think textile is gone in Puerto Rico? Where is textile nowadays? Jen: Probably China, India. Luis: Yes, yes! So, in this case, it left to other jurisdictions for minimum wage and for a bunch of other reasons. 936? Yes! It was not great when it left, but the industry changed. Textile goes wherever you have the cheapest labor. And Puerto Rico— Jen: So— Luis: —cannot compete with India, China, Dominican Republic, where people get paid a dollar an hour. Forget it. You can’t compete with that. Jen: And it sounds like the same problem we’re having in California, in Texas, and Massachusetts, and everywhere. Luis: Yeah, yes. Jen: What would you like to see happen on the island? What do you think could help? Luis: Becoming a state. Jen: So that's the goal. Luis: Yes, without a shadow of a doubt, because if we become a state, we are able now to have the congressional mitigation to help us, and we’re able to fight for equal funding so that the state does not need to subsidize such huge percentages. And now we have an equal playing field. Now if I get in debt— Jen: Okay. Luis: Now if I get in debt, go ahead and criticize me all you want. Jen: Well, then you have bankruptcy protection if you go into debt. Luis: Also. Luis: So, you understand the reason why people are going to Puerto Rico is because of Law 20 and 22, right? Jen: Um, I don't know. No. Luis: So, I’m going to share with you the Law 20 and Law 22. Both laws were passed by Governor Luis Fortuno, which is a governor that I worked for. Jen: Okay. Luis: And those two laws were used, pushed, and promoted big time by the previous governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla. You can do a quick Google, and you will see how most people went nuts over those two laws, and those two laws is the sole reason why people in stateside, mainland U.S., are fleeing to Puerto Rico to enjoy those tax benefits. Jen: Well, what are those benefits? Luis: I'm going to tell you. Jen: Okay. Luis: So, first, you have Law 20. Law 20 is better known as Export Services law, meaning you and I can open a corporation in Puerto Rico that exports services outside of Puerto Rico. Services, not manufacturing. So you and I can open a consulting firm that consults on any issue, and if our clients are not in Puerto Rico, if our clients are in Europe or New York or California, when that company in Puerto Rico bills those accounts, that corporation will only pay local four percent tax and no sales tax. Wow! Jen: Okay. That's crazy. Luis: Okay? So that means that you and I can have an existing company and have a law firm in New York, and you and I are the partners, and we’ll make—and let’s say that half of our clients are not in Puerto Rico, so why don’t we just open an office in Puerto Rico and do all the billing out of Puerto Rico and serve those clients from Puerto Rico—by the way, you and I can hire attorneys in Puerto Rico that are bilingual; graduated from Harvard, Yale, all those popular universities; pay even a fraction of what you and I would pay a lawyer in New York, and we bill them to the clients that are outside Puerto Rico, and we only pay four percent tax. That’s Law 20. It’s beautiful. Jen: Wow. Okay. Luis: All right. So, now, Law 20 was supplemented, complemented, by Law 22. Law 22 is called the Investor Act. So, now, you and I are the partners of that law firm, and we’ve moved operations and the corporation is only paying four percent tax, local tax, okay? Jen: Okay. Luis: Got it. You and I have not lived in Puerto Rico for the last 15 years. Jen: Okay. Luis: So we, you and I, have our attorneys will review Law 20, and what Law 20 says is you and I can move to Puerto Rico personally, and when we’re in Puerto Rico, our Puerto Rico-sourced income will be tax free. Jen: So the income—so, it’s the Investment Act. So are you talking about, like— Luis: Yes. Jen: —instead of paying capital gains tax, they pay nothing. Luis: Nothing. Now, it needs to be Puerto Rico-sourced income. That means that if you and I own Apple shares, or Microsoft, and we move to Puerto Rico, that’s passive income. We’ll pay taxes because that income is generated outside of Puerto Rico. Jen: Okay. Luis: But if you and I go to Puerto Rico like Paltry and Paulson moved to Puerto Rico, and we invest in property, and we invest in the business of Puerto Rico, that Puerto Rico-sourced income will be tax free. Jen: Federally or are there any state taxes? Luis: Both. Jen: Wow. So the state— Luis: I don’t have the law— Jen: —doesn’t even get anything from that. Luis: Well, yeah, they do because think about all the jobs. You know it’s crazy how much money is generated by having those people in Puerto Rico. Of course it generates— Jen: Yeah. I guess that makes sense. Luis: It’s called economic development. Yes, it generates—I have a lot of people that have new accounts with those individuals all the way from real estate, legal fees, engineering. They’re all millions and millions and millions of dollars that were not moving around the economy until they moved there. Jen: And so, are these two laws something that you personally support? Are they a good idea? Luis: I think it’s a good idea. We somehow need to generate some federal activity. Jen: We do, but at the same time, your government is broke. So isn’t raising revenues, isn’t that a solution? Luis: Well, no. Well, you know what? It’s a little contradicting, so when I say I endorse it, but I just told you a little while ago that I want to be a state. And if I was a state, that would probably not be possible. Jen: Yeah. Luis: Those two laws would not be possible if we’re a state, but guess what—we’re not a state. Jen: Yeah. Luis: And what the heck are we supposed to do? Jen: Yeah. I guess that’s true. You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt. Okay. Luis: I would rather not have those two laws and be a state. Jen: Okay. That's fair. Luis: Education. I think that your podcast touched on education about 100 schools being closed. Jen: Yeah. Luis: Yeah, but how many people have moved to Orlando? We do not have— Jen: So there's not as many kids? Luis: No! No! Now, I’m going to defend, I’m going to defend this. With me, you may go crazy because I jump from side to side, so for one, one part of me says— Jen: I do that, too. I totally get it. Luis: One part of me says, the student body—I think the island student population went down from half a million to 400,000 students. That’s 25 percent. Jen: Okay. Luis: Okay. That means that I should be able to cut 25 percent of schools and 25 percent of my budget. Right? Well, let’s look at the other side. You and I, again, are married, right? Jen: Uh-huh. Luis: And you and I have a boat, and we have two kids, and the schools that we have our kids are three blocks away. Beautiful. Well, you and I bought a house because it was right next to the school. So now they’re going to close that school, and the next school is five miles away. Jen: Yeah. Luis: Are you and I pissed? Jen: Of course. Luis: I don’t give a crap that there’s less students. I’m going to picket, and I’m going to make a lot of noise, and I’m going to make it impossible for the government to close that school, which is what happens. You know what? Somebody else should sacrifice, not my wife and I. We have it good. I like to be able to walk three blocks and grab my children by the hand, have a beautiful conversation with them while we eat cookies, and we go to the school right next door. Well, guess what? The population is so much smaller now that somehow we cannot justify having the same number of schools open. I believe that happened in Chicago under new jurisdictions. We have to adjust. So guess who needs to deliver those bad news? The fiscal control board, because you cannot possibly justify having all those schools open. So who’s going to be the bad guy? Thank God there’s a fiscal control board, because if you leave, you allow the local elected official to make those decisions, it would be political suicide. And that transfers to any state. Ask any governor to close down 25 percent of schools, and they’re going to lose the election. Jen: Well, I mean, I think that’s just a part of the job. The problem— Luis: I know! Jen: —that I’m seeing as— Luis: No, but wait a second the problem is that the governor can’t do it because when you commit political suicide, and you need to support the legislature to do that, the elected officials in the legislative body would be the first ones that won’t back you up. They’ll say, you crazy? I’m not going to back you up; I want to get elected next time. That’s a huge problem. He says, I can’t do it without you. People are like let’s not do it; let’s let the other guy do it. And he’s like, no, we don’t have enough money. The students are leaving Orlando and New York. They moved away. We don’t need so many schools; we need to close. And the senators will be like, I’m not going to pass that law; are you kidding me? We’re all going to be out of a job. Jen: Well, I mean, and that’s the thing, like, maybe you’re not supposed to serve forever. Like, I just feel like those tough decisions are a part of a job of being elected, and one of my concerns of this control board is that those families, they can’t petition to this board. There is no voice for the Puerto Ricans where the governor doesn’t have a vote. I guess I’d feel more comfortable with it if I thought that those families could petition to their governor, and it would be one vote at the table that would have those political calculations in mind. But with these seven people that were selected by Congress, I mean, is there any concern that they’re going to prioritize the bankers over the Puerto Rican people? Luis: I think a lot of people are concerned about that. Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
The post office is in trouble. Faced with an enormous debt and a legal obligation to serve every single American, the United States Postal Service needs Congress to make some changes in order to prevent service cuts and financial ruin. In this episode we analyze the plan currently moving through Congress. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute using credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Bill Outline H.R. 756: Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 Title I: Postal Service Benefits Reform Postal employees will be enrolled in Medicare Cancels the requirements for the USPS to pre-fund employee retirement health benefits. Title II: Postal Service Operations Reform Creates a Board of Governors, which will have power over the Postmaster General and determine the strategic direction and pricing of the post office products. Stops the requirement for door delivery to new addresses starting the day the bill is enacted. Businesses will get "centralized delivery, curbside delivery, or sidewalk delivery" with all of them converted by September 30, 2023. Residences will be able to convert voluntarily starting on October 1, 2018 and will have shared delivery points for up to 50 units each. We will be informed in writing if our homes have been selected by the end of March 2019 and we can sign a "conversion consent form" to agree. New residents will automatically be converted to the centralized delivery Gives the Postal Regulatory Committee more flexibility in setting postal rates Allows the post office to provide State and local government services Allows the post office to reinstate half of the rate surcharge that was in effect in April 2016. Title III: Postal Service Personnel Creates a Chief Innovation Officer position Title IV: Postal Contracting Reform Allows the post office to issue non-competitive contracts, with notification requirements if they are over $250,000 Additional Reading Article: House panel displays bipartisan unity over bill to save Postal Service from financial ruin by Joe Davidson, The Washington Post, February 7, 2017. Article: Federal agencies turning to UPS, Fed Ex instead of USPS for delivery needs by Mary Lou Byrd, The Washington Times, June 11, 2013. Article: How Healthcare Expenses Cost Us Saturday Postal Delivery by Josh Sanbum, TIME, February 7, 2013. References Document: H.R. 1628: Senate Health Care Bill Twitter: Who Drafted Secret Health Care Bill USPS: USO Executive Summary USPS: Mail & Shipping Prices National Association of Letter Carriers: About NALC GovTrack: H.R. 756: Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 GovTrack: H.R. 760: Postal Service Financial Improvement Act of 2017 GovTrack: H.R. 5714 (114th): Postal Service Reform Act of 2016 CBO: H.R. 5714 CBO Score GovTrack: H.R. 6407 (109th): Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act CBO: H.R. 6407 CBO Score White House: President Bush's Statement on H.R. 6407 Video Clips YouTube: Kathleen Madigan - Post Office YouTube: Jerry Seinfeld - Post Office Bit YouTube: Seinfeld clip - Because the mail never stops YouTube: Tom Papa - Post Office Bit Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Accomplishing Postal Reform in the 115th Congress - H.R. 756, The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, February 7, 2017. Watch on CSPAN Witnesses Megan J Brennan: Postmaster General Robert Taub: Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission Lori Rectanus: Direction or Physical Infrastructure issues at the US Gov’t Accountability Office Arthur Sackler: Manager at the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service Fredric Rolando: President of the National Association of Letter Carriers 5:19 Rep. Jason Chaffetz: Last July I was proud to see our committee favorably report the bill by a voice vote. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it across the finish line before the end of the Congress, but we did make a lot of progress, particularly with getting the CBO—the Congressional Budget Office—to come in and score the bill. 6:10 Rep. Jason Chaffetz: In an era of partisan politics, this legislation represents a significant bipartisan compromise. The bill gives the Postal Service the freedom it needs to successfully meet the business realities the agency faces. To do this, the bill allows the Postal Service to fully integrate its healthcare plans with Medicare. With such integration, the Postal Service can virtually wipe out its 52-billion-dollar retiree healthcare unfunded liability. Further, the bill achieves real savings by moving to more-efficient mail delivery, saving the Postal Service more than $200 a year for each address that can be converted from the door-to-door delivery to centralized delivery. The bill also helps the agency more accurately evaluate its cost structure and reforms key governance matters. 8:10 Rep. Elijah Cummings: The other thing I thank you for, Mr. Chairman, is so often what happens is that when a lot of work has been done in one term, it’s just tossed away, and then you have to start all over again. But I thank you for picking up where we left off. 10:40 Rep. Elijah Cummings: The total volume of mail handled by the Postal Service has fallen by more than 25% since 2006, and continued declines are expected. The cost of the Postal Service’s operations have also risen, in part because the Postal Service is required to provide universal delivery service to every address in the United States. Every year, about 900,000 new addresses are created in this country; and a network of postal facilities, letter carriers, and workers must expand to deliver to every new address—900,000; that’s a lot. The Postal Service is burdened by a 2006 statutory requirement imposed by Congress to fully pre-fund its liabilities for retiree healthcare costs, a requirement that no other federal agency or private-sector company faces. These liabilities, combined with the Postal Service’s unfunded pension liabilities, currently total about $125 billion, which is almost double its annual revenues. Even as it fixed costs continued to grow, the exigent rate increase that had been approved to enable the Postal Service to recoup some of the losses incurred because of a 2008 recession’s permanent impact on mail volume expired. Since 2006 the Postal Service has implemented significant cost-saving measures, including reducing positions and work hours, and consolidating facilities and delivery routes. 14:08 Rep. Elijah Cummings: Taking all these requirements and trends together, the Postal Service reported a net loss of $5.3 billion for fiscal year 2016, which represents a 10th consecutive year of net losses. We have repeatedly discussed the deteriorating financial condition at the Postal Service in this committee, but the situation is now worsened by unprecedented lack of any Senate-confirmed members on the Postal Service’s Board of Governors. Because many key management decisions are reserved by statute to the Senate-confirmed board members, there are many actions, such as establishing rates, class, and fees for products, that the Postal Service simply cannot take now. The need for postal reform is as urgent as it ever was. Fortunately, we also may be closer than ever to enacting reform. We must press ahead—all of us. 18:50 Rep. Gerald Connolly: I want to commend Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings for their leadership in holding together this coalition—not easy—and it’s a bipartisan coalition that helped write this bill. And especially Chairman Chaffetz could have yielded to the temptation, in light of the circumstances of 2017, to start all over again, and he didn’t do that. We worked together, we held it together, and I want to thank all the stakeholders represented in this room and those not in this room for understanding we can’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. 24:25 Megan Brennan: The Postal Service is self-funded. We pay for our operations through the sale of postal products and services and do not receive tax revenues to support our business. Over the past decade, total mail volume declined by 28%. First-class mail, which makes the greatest contribution to covering the cost of our networks, declined by 36%. In response, we have streamlined our operations, restructured our networks, reduced the size of our workforce, and improved productivity. As a result of these efforts, we’ve achieved annual cost savings of approximately $14 billion. We also successfully stabilized marketing-mail revenues and grew our package business, which together drive e-commerce growth. However, given the constraints imposed by law, all of those actions cannot offset the negative impacts caused by the consistent decline in the use of first-class mail. The Postal Service is required to maintain an extensive network necessary to fulfill our universal service obligation to deliver the mail to every address six days a week, regardless of volume. The cost of the network continues to grow as approximately one million new delivery points are added each year. However, less volume, limited pricing flexibility, and increasing costs means that there is less revenue to pay for our growing delivery network and to fund other legally mandated costs. Since 2012 the Postal Service has been forced to default on $33.9 billion in mandated payments for retiree health benefits. Without these defaults, the deferral of critical capital investments, and aggressive management actions, we would not have been able to pay our employees and suppliers, or deliver the mail. Despite our achievements in growing revenue and improving operational efficiency, we cannot overcome systemic financial imbalances caused by business-model constraints. 26:40 Megan Brennan: We believe there is broad support for the core provisions of the bill you have introduced. By enacting this urgently needed legislation, which includes those provisions, the Postal Service can achieve an estimated $26 billion in combined cost reductions and new revenue over five years. Enactment of these provisions, favorable resolution of the Postal Regulatory Commission’s pricing-review system, and continued aggressive management actions will return the Postal Service to financial stability. Medicare integration is the cornerstone of your bill. The civilian federal government is not required to pre-fund retiree health benefits, but that obligation is imposed on the Postal Service. We are merely asking to be treated like any business that offers health benefits to its retirees and has to fund them. Full integration with Medicare is a universally accepted best practice in private sector. Requiring full Medicare integration for Postal Service retirees would essentially eliminate our unfunded liability for retiree health benefits. It is simply a matter of fairness to enable the Postal Service and our employees to fully utilize the benefits for which we have paid. We also strongly endorse the provision of the bill that would restore half of the exigent rate increase as a permanent part of our rate base. That provision will help us pay for the infrastructure necessary to fulfill our universal service obligation. 28:20 Megan Brennan: H.R. 756 is fiscally responsible and enables the Postal Service to invest in the future and to continue to provide affordable, reliable, and secure delivery service to every business and home in America. 30:30 Robert Taub: H.R. 756 is specifically designed to put the Postal Service on sound financial footing. 33:43 Lori Rectanus: The continued deterioration of the Postal Service’s financial condition is simply a truth that revenues are not keeping up with expenses, a trend since 2007. This means that over the last decade the Postal Service has had a net loss of over $60 billion. While much of this loss was in fact due to the nonpayment of retiree health pre-funding payments, the Postal Service still lost over $10 billion outside of this requirement and other requirements. The revenue-expense gap occurs because first-class mail, the most profitable mail, continues to decline and is now down to 1981 levels. The Postal Service has made significant efforts to grow revenue in other ways, such as with package services. In the meantime, however, expenses continue to grow, largely because of compensation and benefit payments for employees. This is due to salary increases, as well as a larger workforce, in the past several years to support the more labor-intensive package business. In fact, over the past three years, the workforce has actually increased by over 20,000 people, contrasting sharply with prior years when its size decreased greatly. 38:15 Arthur Sackler: We support this bill and urge its approval as promptly as possible. 41:26 Arthur Sackler: H.R. 756 provides an elegant solution to this profound financial problem, integrating postal annuitants into Medicare will save the Postal Service billions each year and follow the best practices of the private sector. Companies that offer health insurance to employees and retirees generally require them to join Medicare at age 65. 42:06 Arthur Sackler: The implications of this bleak financial situation are near existential for Postal Service in its current form, so we support H.R. 756 notwithstanding its one-time market-dominant postal rate increase of 2.15%. We accept this increase in this unique set of circumstances only as necessary to achieve this bill and stabilize the Postal Service. Congress has wisely delegated rate setting to the postal agencies, but with respect, the industry will be compelled to oppose any effort to regard this bill as a precedent for other legislated rate increases. The industry has long supported the self-sustaining postal system, funded entirely by postage. That remains the best course from our perspective. And that is the beauty of your bill. It vastly improves the Postal Service’s financial stability, keeps the Postal Service self-sustaining, and wards off any prospect of a taxpayer bailout, as you noted, Mr. Chairman. 44:25 Fredric Rolando: The bill has broad support across the mailing industry, including business and labor, and is based on best practices in the private sector. 45:30 Fredric Rolando: Over the past decade, postal employees have worked diligently to restructure operations, cut costs, and sharply increase productivity, in response to technological change and the Great Recession. Despite the loss of more than 200,000 jobs, we’ve managed to preserve our networks and to maintain our capacity to serve the nation. But only Congress can address our biggest financial challenge: the unique and unsustainable burden to pre-fund future retiree health benefits decades in advance. No other enterprise in the country faces such a burden, which was imposed by legislation in 2006. The expense of this mandate has accounted for nearly 90% of the Postal Service’s reported losses since 2007. Without a change in the law, the mandate will cost $6 billion this year alone. H.R. 756 would maximize the integration of Medicare and our federal health program for Medicare-eligible postal annuitants, most of whom have already voluntarily enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. The proposal would also give us access to low-cost prescription drugs and other benefits provided to private-employer plans by the Medicare Modernization Act. The savings would help to reduce all of our premium costs and, therefore, pre-funding costs. This approach adopts a standard practice of large private companies that provide retiree health insurance. It would effectively resolve the pre-funding burden that undermines the health of the Postal Service while only raising Medicare spending by one-tenth of one percent over 10 years. H.R. 756 also addresses a revenue shortfall caused by the expiration of the 2013 exigent rate increase, authorized by the Postal Regulatory Commission, to help the Postal Service recover from the permanent decline in mail volume caused by the Great Recession. The compromise adopted by your leadership bill, effectively restoring half of the exigent increase, is a reasonable one. 48:00 Fredric Rolando: All four postal unions urge the committee to adopt this legislation. 52:06 Rep. Jason Chaffetz: What is your current cash on hand; and then once you give me that number, then why isn’t that used to pay some of the payments that were due? You’ve defaulted, I believe, on five payments. Megan Brennan: Yes, Mr. Chairman, we’ve defaulted for the past five years to the tune of $33.9 billion. Our current cash on hand is $8.2 billion. And a determination was made by the Temporary Emergency Committee, which consisted at the time of our lone independent governor, myself, and the deputy postmaster general, to default on that payment to ensure that we can serve sufficient cash, which for an organization of our size is arguable at best, but to reserve sufficient cash to ensure if there was any contingency that would occur in the near term, we could at least have some cushion. Chaffetz: I mean, you have more cash than some of the others who are in the mail industry, but where is that proper balance? Where’s… ? Brennan: When I think—that’s a concern, Mr. Chairman, because for an organization that has expenditures of more than $70 billion a year, we would submit that $8.2 billion is insufficient. That’s the concern for us. And, also, as noted by the Chairman, and we’ve discussed this, the fact that we have deferred on critical capital investments in the past five years to the tune of over $8.9 billion, that impacts our ability to compete and to generate additional revenues. Chaffetz: Tell us, if you can give me a perspective on your fleet management. There was a hearing I think Chairman Meadows chaired earlier about the fleet. We were concerned the Postal Service was going to come up with a very sizeable contract to… Explain to me, where you are in the fleet and your perspective on it. Brennan: Yes, Mr. Chairman. Well, we have one of the largest civilian fleets in the country, with over 212,000 vehicles travelling more than four million miles a day. The fleet, though, is at the end of its expected life, particularly our delivery vehicles that the average age is over 25 years, and the annual maintenance cost is over a billion dollars. So, we have an approach to look at the next-generation delivery vehicles, that currently we’re in the midst of a prototype-testing period where we’re working with six different suppliers to provide us with these vehicles that we will test over the course of the next 18 months. We also just—this week, actually—a request for proposal for a commercial off-the-shelf solution for right-hand-drive vehicles is expected. So, we’ve got a multi-prong approach looking at how to address the vehicle fleet. 58:35 Rep. Stephen Lynch: There are some concerns out there about the funding of that piece that will require postal employees to sign up for Medicare and that it is some type of giveaway. That’s what I’ve heard out there. Now, you and I know differently. But could you explain to me how much money the postal workers have contributed to Medicare but, in large part, have not participated in that? Could you describe that for me, please? Megan Brennan: Yes, Congressman. In our opinion, this is a question of fairness. We’re merely asking that we be treated like any other self-funded entity that provides retiree health benefits. As noted by a number of the panelists, it’s best practice in private sector. And that’s the ask from the Postal Service, and our employees and the Postal Service have paid more than $30 billion into the Medicare trust fund since the early ’80s. We’re just asking to receive the benefit for which employees have paid. 1:03:35 Rep. Blake Farenthold: You mentioned that part of your expenses is six-day delivery to everywhere. Is it worth looking at, at some point in the future, maybe not six days to everywhere for everything? I mean, to be competitive, maybe you do need six. And, actually, I think one of your competitor’s advantage is seven-day package delivery. Over Christmas, I got packages from Amazon that you guys brought on Sunday. Matter of fact, I got one a couple of weeks ago. Apparently you’re still doing it. So, is shrinking to a less-than-six-day delivery for non-packages a potential cost savings? Megan Brennan: Yeah, as you noted, we are delivering packages seven days in select locations, primarily major metropolitan areas. Farenthold: I’m happy Corpus Christi, Texas, is now a major metropolitan area. Brennan: I said primarily. And we are expanding that, because, certainly, we serve every home— Farenthold: Right. Brennan: —and every business, Congressman. To your point, and candidly, we’ve spent the better part of the past two years trying to build a coalition around core provisions of a bill likely to generate broad support. Farenthold: Right. Brennan: And that’s what we focused on. And, also, I would offer candidly, it’s been my experience that there’s no congressional consensus around moving to five-day delivery. Farenthold: Oh, I could tell you that for sure, as well. 1:06:02 Rep. Blake Farenthold: You talked about capital expenses, your biggest being vehicles. What are your big capital—just list off a couple of items that are your big capital items beyond vehicles. Megan Brennan: The information systems, our IT infrastructure, repair and alteration, facility modifications, additional capacity for package sortation. 1:17:56 Rep. Darrell Issa: Additionally, the United States Post Office, with the power of the government, if they chose to aggressively site in or near people’s homes cluster boxes that could safely hold packages, they would leapfrog in service capability what Amazon is trying to build at your corner gas station, wouldn’t they. And I guess I should take that to the postmaster general. Not, what are the problems, but if you did that, wouldn’t you, in fact, offer a service far better and far more distributed than that which Amazon is trying to build today in some parts of urban America? Megan Brennan: Congressman Issa, as you and I discussed, the Postal Service approach is all new, possible deliveries. As noted—excuse me—we add nearly a million a year. Based on the delivery characteristics, we either implement box on post at the end of your driveway or centralized delivery. And just looking at last year, where when we looked at the growth by mode, over 750,000 new deliveries were centralized. So, there's certainly an efficiency gain associated with that. 1:26:40 Rep. Jody Hice: One of the issues that came up specifically dealt with Amazon and a serious competitor that they are, and one of the areas of technology that they’ve excelled in, obviously, is drone delivery. Is there any looking into consideration of drone delivery with the Postal Service? Megan Brennan: Currently, our engineering group is researching, and we’re probably on the peripheral of this advanced technology, currently just learning. And I would say whether it’s drone exploration or any other type of new technology, Congressman, we need the capital monies to be able to invest. Hice: Well, I understand the need for capital monies to invest, but you are looking into the possibility? Brennan: We’re exploring and recognizing what’s happening in the industry. Right now, we’re not an early adopter, I would categorize that, but we’re certainly aware of what’s happening in that space. Hice: Okay, so, at the current time, then, the commitment is to continue with the vehicle delivery. Brennan: Correct. 1:45:15 Rep. Mark Meadows: The gentleman recognizes the gentleman with the stylish glasses, from Missouri, for five minutes. Rep. William Lacy Clay: And, Mr. Chair, I noticed that the ranking member took some of my time. Oh, no—they restarted. Very good. Meadows: The gentleman will recognize that the chairman is always fair with— Clay: All right. Meadows: —his time. Clay: The— Meadows: We’re glad the gentleman from Missouri could get out of bed to come to this hearing. 1:49:00 Megan Brennan: We just recently, Congressman, raised prices on our market dominant, within that strict price cap— Unknown Speaker: Yeah. Brennan: —of eight-tenths of a percent. We also have the 10-year price review before the Commission, currently. 1:51:23 Rep. Mark Meadows: Well, you said all four unions support this bill, with no changes. Is that correct? With no changes, you support this bill, all four unions. Fredric Rolando: Yeah, all four unions support this bill. I think we mentioned two tweaks in the written testimony that we thought would be helpful. Meadows: Yeah, and then, but if those two tweaks don’t get done, this is better than— Rolando: Totally support this bill coming out of committee. Absolutely. 2:07:14 Arthur Sackler: I think that with the establishment of so much trust and reliance on electronic media, there is little that can be done to reverse some of the outflow of mail. But if you add a huge increase on top of that, it’s going to accelerate it dramatically. That’s the worry of the industry. Rep. Glenn Grothman: Okay, you consider the 2.1% not a significant increase? Is that what you’re telling us? Sackler: It is significant, but it is one that, to put it colloquially, we’re all holding our noses and accepting in the spirit of compromise in order to get this bill done. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations Missing Cat! Please help! One of our listeners in Boqueron, Puerto Rico is missing his furry friend. Please keep an eye out for him if you are in the area.
Air traffic controllers in the United States are a part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) but Congress is seriously considering changing that. In this episode, we examine a plan being developed to transfer control of the nation’s air traffic to a new non-profit corporation. Also, with former FBI Directory Jim Comey’s testimony to Congress dominating the news cycle, we take a trip down memory lane to the Bush years when Jim Comey testified before Congress in one of the most riveting moments in Congressional hearing history. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute using credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Additional Reading Article: So What's the Deal with Air Traffic Control Reform? by Aarian Marshall, Wired, June 6, 2017. Article: Inspector General Reports on FAA's Efforts to Modernize the NAS by Rob Mark, Flying Mag, May 25, 2017. Article: The Wait for ATC Privatization is Over as White House Budget Emerges by Rob Mark, Flying Mag, March 16, 2017. Article: Shuster admits relationship with airline lobbyist by John Bresnahan, Anna Palmer, and Jake Sherman, Politico, April 16, 2015. Article: FAA seeks new air traffic controllers - no experience needed by Tanita Gaither, Hawaii News Now, 2014. Article: The Real Battle Over Air Traffic Control by Robert Poole and Dorothy Robyn, Reason Foundation, November 3, 2003. References Boston University: Dorothy Robyn Bio Hartzell Prop: Joseph W. Brown Bio Office of Inspector General: Calvin L. Scovel III Bio NATCA: Paul Rinaldi Bio Reason Foundation: Company FAQs Reason Foundation: Robert Poole Bio GovTrack: H.R. 4441 Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act Overview GovTrack: H.R. 4441 - Supporters vs Opponents GovTrack: H.R. 4441 - Text OpenSecrets: Rep. Bill Shuster OpenSecrets: Rep. Bill Shuster - Campaign Finance OpenSecrets: Airlines for America YouTube: James Comey testifies about Gonzales pressuring Ashcroft to OK spying Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Air Traffic Control Reform, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, May 17, 2017. Watch on CSPAN Witnesses The Honorable Calvin Scovel, III, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation Joseph W. Brown, President, Hartzell Propeller, Inc. Mr. Robert W. Poole, Jr., Director of Transportation Policy, Reason Foundation Mr. Paul M. Rinaldi, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Assocation Ms. Dorothy Robyn, Independent Policy Analyst Timestamps & Transcripts 3:33 Chairman Bill Shuster: Today we’ll focus on the need for air traffic control reform, divesting the high-tech service, 24/7 service business, from government and shifting it to an independent not-for-profit entity. 4:20 Chairman Bill Shuster: Everyone should be reminded of what happens if we choose the status quo. It means our system will be subject to more budget constraints, sequestration, and threats of government shutdowns. Sequestration isn’t gone. In 2013 sequestration led to furloughs and reduced operations, controlled our hiring, and training suffered, and the FAA bureaucrats tried to shut down contract towers. Fiscal constraints continue to be tight, as so in the federal budget, and that’s not going to change anytime soon, and it may get worse. We continue to rely on the unstable, dysfunctional, annual appropriations cycle. We have had no stand-alone transportation appropriations bill since 2006, and over that time period, Congress has passed 42 continuing resolutions to keep government doors open. The FAA also relies on authorizing legislation, and it took Congress 23 short-term extensions over five years before it passed previous long-term FAA authorization bill. Under these conditions, the FAA bureaucracy has been trying to undertake a high-tech modernization of air traffic control system for over three decades. It’s not working, and it’s never going to work. 5:52 Chairman Bill Shuster: Some argue that the latest attempt to modernize NextGen is showing some signs of progress, but we all know any progress is incremental at best and only in locations where the FAA partnered with the private sector. And let’s remember the name NextGen was really just a rebranding of the FAA’s ongoing failed efforts to modernize the system. NextGen is just a marketing term, not an actual technology or innovation, but it sounds catchier so Congress will fund it year after year. But the bottom line is there should be far more progress by now. Money has never been the problem; Congress has provided more than $7.4 billion for NextGen since 2004. Results of the problem: according to the FAA’s own calculation, the return on the taxpayers’ 7.4 billion invested has only been about 2 billion in benefits. And we’ve still got a long way to go. According to the DOT inspector general in 2014, the projected initial cost for NextGen was $40 billion, but they’ve said it could double or triple and be delayed another decade. Over the years, the FAA has described NextGen as transformation of America’s air transportation network. They also said it will forever redefine how we manage the system. But in 2015 the National Research Council confirmed what was already becoming painfully clear. According to the NRC, the original version of NextGen is not what was being implemented. It is not broadly transformational and is not fundamental change in the way the FAA handles air traffic. Only in the federal government would such a dismal record be considered a success. 7:40 Chairman Bill Shuster: Some have proposed targeting reforms to fix the FAA’s problems, but that’s an approach we’ve already tried many, many times, starting in the 1980s. Since 1995, Congress has passed various reforms to allow the FAA to run more like a business. Procurement reform in 1995 for the FAA to develop a more flexible acquisition-management system. Additional reforms in 1995 exempt the FAA from most federal personnel rules and allow the FAA to be able to implement more flexible rules for hiring, training, compensating, and assigning personnel. Procurement reforms in 1996 developed a cost accounting system. Additional personnel reforms in 1996 allowed FAA to negotiate pay. Organizational reforms in 2000 to establish a COO position, additional forms to allow greater pay so the FAA could recruit good candidates, particularly for a COO position. Additional reform in 2000 by the executive order to create the Air Traffic Organization. Organizational reforms in 2003 to establish the Joint Planning and Development Office to better coordinate NextGen. Reforms in 2012 to establish a chief NextGen officer. Property management reforms in 2012 to allow a better process for realignment and consolidation of facilities. All have failed to result in the FAA being run more like a business. The FAA has always performed like a massive bureaucracy and will continue to. 9:33 Chairman Bill Shuster: Last year’s bill that passed out of committee will serve as a framework for new legislation, but we are open to change. We want to talk to people and get their ideas, and that’s what we hope to hear today. 9:45 Chairman Bill Shuster: Our air traffic control reform proposal will be based on the following principles: create an independent not-for-profit corporation to provide air traffic services; fund the new service provider by fees assessed for air traffic service; free the new service provider from governmental dysfunction, political interference, and the uncertainty of the federal-budget process; create a governance structure that is right sized and balanced; and a board with sole fiduciary responsibility to the organization—and I need to repeat that—fiduciary responsibility. That’s a legal term. If you’re on a board of directors in the United States and you have the fiduciary responsibility, it’s not to who appointed you to the board; it’s to the board, it’s to that organization is who you’re responsible for, and that’s the law. That’s just not some pie in the sky. People can be removed and be prosecuted if they’re not doing their fiduciary responsibilities. 11:47 Chairman Bill Shuster: Give the new service provider the ability to access financial markets, leverage private funding for multi-year capital projects needed to modernize the system. 12:35 Chairman Bill Shuster: The only way to realize these benefits is to get the government out of the way. As President Ronald Regan said, government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem. And we see all over the world people turning to the private sector—whether it’s Europe or it’s Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada—look around the world: countries, governments, are looking to partner with the private sector because they see they do it better. 13:01 Chairman Bill Shuster: Since the introduction of the Air Act over a year ago, this has been an ongoing process of education and discussion. We’ve held over 130 meetings with stakeholders, including both supporters and opponents of the Air Act. We’ve had numerous meetings with members of the House, the Senate, the White House, and other committees. These meetings have been extremely productive and give us new ideas to improve the legislation. 14:20 Chairman Bill Shuster: Air traffic control is not an inherently governmental function; it’s a 24/7 technology service. For those who worry that the system is too complex, I would say this: the most complex thing in the air space is not the air traffic control system, it’s the airplane. It’s the people at Boeing and Airbus and Cessna and the people that build these aircraft—that’s the most complicated thing in the system. And the FAA already oversees those highly sophisticated private-sector aircraft manufacturing, maintenance, and flight operations at arm’s length. We don’t build airplanes today, the government does, and that’s the most complex thing in the system. 16:26 Rep Peter DeFazio: We are now on the cusp of a 21st century system that will be the envy of the world. And other experts—MITRE Corporation, others—say a massive change now, where you cleave the FAA into parts, you leave the most vital thing to our manufacturers—certification, subject to appropriations, sequestrations, and shutdowns—you leave the most vital thing that is important to the American public, which is safety and oversight of safety, subject to sequestration, shutdowns, and political meddling. The only thing that gets moved is the ATO, and the ATO would be moved and essentially effectively controlled by the airlines. I know that the airlines aren’t here today, perhaps because they haven’t looked so great recently in public, and I’d also note that the airlines themselves have had outages 36 times—major outages—36 times since 2015. I’m not aware that the national air traffic control system has had a major disruption, with exception of deliberate sabotage by a contractor who knew how to get the system and the backup system. But the airlines, on their own, with no sabotage, have managed to melt down their dispatch and their reservation systems 36 times, stranding millions of people, so they can do it better, right? 18:15 Rep Peter DeFazio: In terms of funding, the FAA has currently projected, over the next decade, to be 97% self-funded. Unfortunately, the way our colleagues around here and the budget process works, despite the fact they’re self-funded, they can be sequestered or shut down. That’s a simple, simple fix. Take it off budget, make it into a trust-funded program. They are raising the revenues. That’s a simple fix. No, we’re going to cleave it in half, put vital functions over here—still subject to sequestration shutdown—and take this one part and put it over here and say somehow they’re going to self-fund. Now, the question, of course, is, how are they going to self-fund? The airlines have told me time and time again, they hate the ticket tax, they hate the ticket tax; they say, that’s our money. I say, no, it’s not your money; I buy a ticket, I pay the tax, the tax goes to the government; it’s not your money. They say, no, no, that affects the price of the ticket and competition and everything else; it’s a horrible thing. So, if they do away with the ticket tax, there goes 70% of the revenues. Well, what are they going to put in its place? Oh, it’s going to be a per-operation charge or something; we don’t know. Congress will have no say over this. 22:11 Rep Peter DeFazio: See all that yellow? That’s the U.S. That is going to be totally ADS-B, satellite-based, in 2020, with an exception—the airlines that petitioned and been given permission from the FAA for exceptions because many of their older planes do not have modern-enough GPS systems to use the new ADS-B. The airlines again have petitioned that they have a number more years before those planes would be able to use the ADS-B system. Not the FAA, the airlines themselves. 28:38 Rep Peter DeFazio: They can set user fees. User fees, I consider to be taxes. I consider the ticket tax to be a user fee, but we can argue semantics over that. But they are going to determine how the system is funded, which is tantamount to taxation without review by the Ways and Means committee or Congress. 37:00 Joseph Brown: Now, as a pilot, 4 to 500 hours a year, my office is the cockpit; and when I fly, I find a modern system, a high-functioning system, and I’ve seen it evolve over time, right before my eyes. I find controllers that do their job well, I find easy access, and powerful technology. I can file a flight plan from my smartphone and get my proposed route back, before I get to the airport, in a text. When I take off, I have GPS navigation systems on board that allow me to fly point to point all over this country. Couple months ago, I took off out of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area and got cleared direct to Burlington, Vermont, 1300 miles ahead. And while I’m flying, I have the veil of safety brought to you by ADS-B, which is in fact deployed, giving me traffic callouts and separation cues and weather in my route of flight. And when I come in for landing, I can pick from 3,000 precision approaches, brought to me by a NextGen feature called WAAS, including at my home airport, which I value tremendously on foul-weather days. So, the bottom line for me is, NextGen is working—it works for me every day—and it’s getting stronger all the time. And from a technology standpoint, I believe we’re on the right track. 43:30 Robert Poole: Business Roundtable group began in 2011, made an initial presentation to A4A in the spring of 2012. We got a pretty cool, if not negative, reception at that point. No one wanted to restart the battles that had raged over this issue in previous decades. Everything changed in the spring of 2013, thanks to the sequester. Controller furloughs closed FAA Academy; threatened closure of 189 contract towers got everybody’s attention. In response, A4A, NATCA, and AOPA all requested new conversations with the BRT working group. And in May 2013, all three groups in the conference room at Business Roundtable agreed that an air traffic control corporation, converting the ATO into a corporation, self-funded, and out of the federal budget was the best approach. After this happened, that fall, Governor Engler and several others briefed Chairman Shuster on the proposal. This was not coming from the airlines. BRT group included a former FAA administrator, a former chief operating officer of the ATO, two former senior officials of USDOT and several consultants. Our governing model, as I said, was patterned after Nav Canada’s. Their stakeholder board represents airlines, general aviation, unions, and the government plus four other private citizens selected by the stakeholder members. 47:50 Paul Rinaldi: NATCA members guide approximately 70,000 flights per day in the United States, ensuring over 900 million passengers arrive safely at their destination every year. The United States Airspace System is considered the gold standard in aviation community, but that status is at risk. Unstable, unpredictable funding and status quo threatens it. We need a stable, reliable, predictable funding stream to operate our current system and allow for growth in the United States aviation system. 48:30 Paul Rinaldi: We also oppose any system that would put ATC in a for-profit model. In order for NATCA to consider a support of any proposal, it must meet our four core principles of reform. First, any new system must keep the safety and the efficiency of the National Airspace System the top priority. Second, any reform must protect our members’ employment relationship. This must maintain our members’ pay, benefits, retirement system, healthcare system, as well as the work rules in our contract. Third, any reform system must have a stable, predictable funding stream adequately enough to support air traffic control services, growth, new users, staffing, hiring, training, long-term modernization projects. Also, this reform must provide a stable funding stream through a transition period. Fourth, any reform must maintain a dynamic, diverse aviation system that continues to provide services to all segments of the aviation community and to all airports across America. 50:10 Paul Rinaldi: Please don’t take NATCA’s position as a need for stable, predictable funding as to mean the appropriators have not done their job. The appropriators in both chambers of Congress, on both sides of the aisles, have done their job well. The problem stems from lack of regular order we’ve been experiencing for over 10 years now. This lack of regular order has led to stop-and-go funding, many threats of shutdown, and our current staffing shortage. We’re at a 28-year low of fully certified controllers. We have 10,532 certified controllers; approximately 3,000 of them are eligible to retire at this time. 50:47 Paul Rinaldi: Unstable funding has prevented on-time implementation of NextGen modernization projects. NATCA takes pride in our role in partnering with the FAA in developing and implementing important modernization projects. We have successfully worked on many over the years. Unfortunately, all have been impacted by uncertainty of funding. If you just look at FY 2018, as we approached April 28 of this year, the FAA shifted its focus from NextGen to shutdown. We, then, received a one-week funding extension, followed by a five-month funding bill. While we’re elated over the funding bill, five months is certainly no way to plan for the future in aviation. Congress needs to pass an FAA reauthorization bill that provides stable, reliable, predictable funding. Congress should exempt the FAA employees from indiscriminate sequester cuts, otherwise we will see a hiring freeze, reduced staffing, furloughs, delays, reduced capacity, and suspension of key NextGen programs. 52:07 Dorothy Robyn: I am a policy wonk, and I’m a Democrat. I testified before some of you during the five years I spent in the Obama administration—first as the deputy under secretary of defense for Installations and Environment and then as the GSA Public Buildings commissioner, following the scandal at GSA. Previously, I spent eight years on President Clinton’s White House economic team, where, during his second term, I was the point person on aviation and air traffic control, among other issues. A policy focus I maintained after leaving the White House, first at Brookings and then as an economic consultant. The first point I want to make this morning is that corporatization of the air traffic control system is not a radical idea, nor is it a Republican idea. The Clinton administration tried unsuccessfully to do this in 1995 with its proposal to create a self-supporting government corporation—USATS—which would be run by a CEO and a board and regulated at arms’ length by the FAA. At the time, only four countries had corporatized their air traffic control system; now, more than 60 other countries have done so. 53:40 Dorothy Robyn: Air traffic control is not an inherently governmental function; it is not inherently governmental. Keeping planes safely separated is complex and safety-critical, but it is a purely operational process that follows well-established rules. Like running an airline or manufacturing a Boeing 787, air traffic control can be performed by a non-governmental entity as long as it is subject to oversight by FAA safety regulators whose job is inherently governmental. 54:50 Dorothy Robyn: Is it a monopoly? Yes, at least for now, but the telephone system was a monopoly for many years, and we didn’t have the government operate that. 55:03 Dorothy Robyn: The current arrangement is flawed on safety grounds. This is important. Echoing safety experts worldwide, ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, has long called for the air traffic control regulator to be independent of the operation it regulates in order to avoid conflicts of interest. We are one of the only industrial nations in which the same agency both regulates and operates the air traffic control system. 1:06:00 Rep Peter DeFazio: So, let’s see, if I think about it, funding, sequestration, shutdowns—that all has to do with Congress. So if we had the FAA with its current funding sources, 97% projected over the next 10 years, so just a few efficiencies would get us to 100% self-funded, without meddling, exempt them from sequestration and shutdowns, would that solve many of your concerns—I’m not saying all—but would that solve many of your concerns, Mr. Rinaldi? Paul Rinaldi: Yes. 1:07:01 Peter DeFazio: Who would be responsible if the ATC failed financially in this country? Joseph Brown: Well, that’s one of my risk calculus when I think about this problem. The day the assets move out of the public sector and into the private sector, we’ve moved the essence of the system and the people with it. And there’s no way we can spend one day without that system full functioning and healthy and thriving. And so all the financial risk accrues to the people, regardless of where that monopoly reports. DeFazio: So, too big to fail. Brown: Too big to fail is my concern. 1:10:45 Joseph Brown: First, you have to invent and deploy the technology, which has generally been the FAA’s purpose, but then the user community has to equip and in many cases change equipment to experience the benefits, and that’s exactly where we are right now, and that’s why there’s an inflection point coming up. We have ADS-B fully deployed on a nationwide basis in terms of the ground structure, but only a percentage of the aircraft flying enjoy the benefits because they are not ADS-B compliant. Likewise, that will be true of Data Comm and other technologies. So, where we are right now is the FAA has done a lot of heavy lifting, and the users have to equip. 1:12:08 Chairman Bill Shuster: I would oppose going for a for-profit organization. 1:14:08 Rep Rick Larsen: Can this system be safe and broken, or should I drive? Calvin Scovel: It is safe, of course. And that’s— Larsen: How can it be safe if it’s broken? Scovel: —certainly a big plus for the FAA. Larsen: It seems to me that there’s a fundamental argument going on here— Scovel: Yeah. Larsen: —that says we have to go to privatization because the system is broken that actually controls the airspace. And if it’s broken, I don’t know how it can be safe, and so it would support the privatization argument. However, if it can’t be safe and broken, it would seem to undermine the whole argument for privatization. Scovel: I would characterize the system currently, it certainly is safe, and the record shows that. For a number of years now, no commercial aviation fatal accidents. As far as broken, I would take issue with that characterization. I would say certainly modernization has been lagging far behind where it should be, but it’s not broken. Larsen: Well, that’s good to hear. I’ll cancel my car rental. 1:31:37 Joseph Brown: I don’t think the comparison of our national airspace and management system to Canada is anything other than an exercise in gleaning some observations, but it’s not proper to directly compare. I mean, for sure, in our system we’re driving a much more substantial portion of our economy out of the aviation sector and the airspace that supports it. I mean, we have 10 times more pilots, 50,000 flights a day—it’s a wholly different organization. So for me, when I think about Canada, I believe that they made a choice that they thought suited their purposes with the role of aviation and its infrastructure, but we’re faced with entirely different objectives here, and as far as I’m concerned, the system that we’ve been living in has done a masterful job of adjudicating all of the interests of stakeholders, all the interests of our expansive country and the states that are in it and their needs, and so I can applaud things they’ve done that have worked for their country, but I also very much applaud things we’ve done in our country. And I would take exception to one thing Ms. Robyn said, which is she characterized our system as a laggard. That is just false. We have the technology deployed in our system today that no other country can rival. We lead in our NextGen initiative. So I’m pretty proud of where we are, and by the way, I know it because I fly it. It’s not a mystery, and it’s not a theory. 1:34:15 Calvin Scovel: As you know, my office looked at the air traffic control organizations for the other four countries. And we were told by officials in those organizations that they consider part of their borrowing authority to be leveragable or to be recognized by private lenders because, ultimately, should something drastic go wrong, the government would step in behind them. I’m not representing that that would be the case here—that’s your policy call to make—I’m simply relaying what officials for other air traffic control organizations have told us about their systems. Rep Albio Sires: So, in those four countries, they were on the hook? Is that what you’re saying? Scovel: Conceivably, they may be. 1:38:50 Rep Mark Meadows: Why would you suggest that the federal government can do something more efficiently than, perhaps, private stakeholders? Joseph Brown: You know, my calculus— Meadows: Can the federal government run your business better than you do? Brown: I would hope not. Meadows: I would hope not either, so why would you suggest that they can do that here? Brown: Well, because we’re talking about a range of interests here that’s much larger than my business. I mean, my business, I get to pick my product, I get to pick my customers, I get to decide what I think the value proposition is, I get course corrected by competition— Meadows: And it’s efficient that way, right? Brown: Yeah, but the— Meadows: So what if we had stakeholders who were making the same exact decisions that you’re making, with some parameters that are out there, wouldn’t you think that that would be more efficient? Brown: Actually, you’ve outlined my top concern which is that if this organization picks their customers and picks their service level and picks their product— Meadows: But, but— Brown: —they are no longer going— Meadows: But the chairman’s— Brown: —to pay taxes on public— Meadows: —already said that that can’t happen. We have an airspace that is available to everybody. Unknown Speaker: Gentleman’s time’s expired. Meadows: Thank you for [unclear] point. Unknown Speaker: Mr. Brown, you can finish, if you wish. Brown: I believe that I’ve made my point which is that the thing about this enterprise, one of the things that I’m concerned with is that it’s a coalition of stakeholders with a shared purpose which is to serve their own ends. And the thing that I like about the federal role in our airspace today is that is adjudicates an enormous diversity of needs in this community, whether it’s the Alaskan pilot who’s flying kids to school or whether it’s my business in Ohio or air tractors in Olney, Texas, they all have a seat at the table, and this has been demonstrated in this room today. Meadows: Yeah, my time has expired. 1:49:30 Dorothy Robyn: The FAA is two hatted; it does two very different things. It regulates all aspects of aviation, and that is an inherently governmental activity. You cannot write a contract that makes it possible for the private sector to carry that out. It requires judgment calls that the private sector can’t make. It also operates in the air traffic control system. There is nothing government—that is not inherently governmental; that is operational. That is no different than when GSA goes to the private sector and has them build a building. It is not an inherently governmental activity. The idea that, yes, the regulatory part of the FFA needs help. That part needs help. I agree with Mr. Brown. The idea, though, that in order to fix that, you don’t spin off the non-governmental part; that’s illogical to me. That’s exactly what you want to do—spin off the non-inherently governmental parts so that the FAA can stick to its knitting, focus on the regulatory function. 2:23:25 Rep Lloyd Smucker: Can you explain why you believe a regulated air traffic service provider would be outside of democratic oversight? Joseph Brown: It’s my understanding that this would be empowered as a business that can effectively decide what it invests in, how much it borrows, what technologies it picks, maybe what— Smucker: But still with congressional oversight. Brown: Well, are we going to have a committee for how they spend their money and what they invest in and where they deploy pappies and vassies and where they put up the next Data Community tower? Because if we are, why would we carve it out? 2:31:00 Rep John Duncan: I chaired the aviation subcommittee for six years, from 1995 until 2001, and Speaker Gingrich asked me to hold the first hearings on the proposed air traffic control corporation—Ms. Robyn, I think, will remember that—and at that point, I think almost everybody, maybe with the exception of Mr. Poole, was opposed to it and so forth. But the chairman, Chairman Shuster’s done an amazing job and now has brought some groups and people on board that were not in favor of this proposal at the time. 3:11:34 Paul Rinaldi: September will be here before we know it. We will be looking at another possible government shutdown, and as I said in my opening statement, as we lead up to a shutdown, the FAA turns their attention from NextGen or from UAV implementation to shutdown procedures. For the last 10 years, it happens a couple times a year, and we lose this time; and it’s four or five weeks leading up to it, five weeks on the back end of it, and they’re not sure what sequester is going to bring us if we actually do get a budget and do get a bill passed or what type of cuts we’re going to have into the aviation system. Hearing: Airline Customer Service, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, May 2, 2017. Witnesses William McGee, Consumers Union Aviation Consultant Scott Kirby, United Airlines President Timestamps & Transcripts 2:34:43 Rep Dina Titus: We’ve heard all this kind of ranting about how bad the airlines are and all these unfortunate experiences, and yet pretty soon this committee is set to consider a proposal to privatize air traffic control and hand over billions of dollars’ worth of investment and assets to a private corporation that’s going to be controlled by y’all, by the airlines, and then you’ll be able to run it as you see fit. Now, I’m opposed to that for a number of reasons, primarily because of how it’s going to leave customers kind of in the lurch, but my question is, what do you have to show that means you’re going to be able to take over this corporation and do well by your customers from that angle any better than you do from your angle that you are now? For example, there’re questions like, how much is the traveler going to have to pay to this corporation; what kind of things have you done at your airline in terms of routing that might be better that you’ll do through this corporation; terms of investment and technology, management decisions; what have you done about your own scheduling? All of those questions that have seemed to be criticized today, how are they going to translate into your being able to control air traffic control system through a private board? So, maybe y’all could just tell me some of the things you’re doing that would make an argument for why you should control that aspect of airlines as well. Scott Kirby: Well, thank you for the question, Congressman. And we believe that one of the ways we can actually help our customers is through ATC privatization. The worst thing we do to our customers is the long delays and cancellations. And those lead to customer service problems, they lead to the customer that gets to McCarran and is upset, and we want to fix that. And the FAA is a fantastic partner, and they want to fix that as well, but they’re handicapped today by the model, by the model where they do annual budgets, where investing for the future and the kinds of investments we need to make for the future are hard for the FAA to do in the normal course of business in the government. And the kinds of things that we could do to make the process better is, for example, you have more sophisticated GPS technology in your car than we use on aircraft today. We have these systems, and we could fly straight-line routes, but we still fly zigzag to highways in the sky to get from Washington to Las Vegas. We could do things like continuous-descent approaches. So today we’re at 35,000 feet, we step down in each one. It’s like driving your car and slamming on the accelerator and then hitting the brake, slamming on the accelerator—and we burn gas, and we take more time. All of that could allow us to fly shorter paths and get our customers there quicker. And we believe it’s one of the best things we could do for customer service is to reform the ATC program, and one of the best ways to do that is FAA privatization, not because the FAA is doing a bad job—they do a wonderful job—but the process is designed to be difficult and particularly for making long-term investments. 3:58:43 Rep Peter DeFazio: The question would be, well, now if we give control of the air traffic system to the airlines—effective control—four seats on a 13-person board, what do you think that means for customers and efficiency? William McGee: Well, it’s going to be particularly hard felt in the high-density airports and the busiest airports in the country. Now, I mean, what you just said is obviously a critical-enough issue: 17 flights scheduled at the same time. But underlining that is another problem that hasn’t really been discussed and that is the outsourcing—and it is outsourcing; the airlines call it partnering—but outsourcing of mainline flights to regional carriers. Up until recently, I don’t know if it’s still on there, but the Regional Airline Association on its homepage posted about the fact that not only more than 50% of all domestic departures operated by regionals on behalf of major carriers, but in addition they boasted of the fact that most of the departures every morning between New York and Washington, two of the busiest airports, not just in the country but on the planet—LaGuardia and Washington National—are operated by regionals. So, we have to ask ourselves, is that the best use of those slots to use smaller aircraft on some of the highest— DeFazio: So you’re saying that just because you’ve got a small aircraft and basically, maybe, you can follow it a tiny bit more closely, a little bit more closely, but because of wake turbulence, you’re taking up, basically, a slot with 60 people on board versus a slot with 180 people on board. McGee: Absolutely. I mean, I’m rusty on some of these issues; it’s been a long time since I worked as an airline dispatcher. But the bottom line is that, as they used to say, all metal requires x amount of space between it. So whether it’s a large aircraft or a small aircraft, there are differences with wake turbulence and things like that. But the bottom line is, again, are we using—these are public resources, let’s remember. These are not airline resources. The slots, they belong to the public. They’re treated as if they were private domain—but are we using them to the best ability in many ways, not just in terms of safety and efficiency but also in terms of the carbon footprint? 4:01:50 William McGee: And I think we also want to ask, well, why would they do that? Now, the response often comes from the airlines that customers prefer high frequency to consolidating flights. But there’s also another factor that doesn’t get discussed as much and that is the competition factor. In other words, if you have scarce slots at LaGuardia and you’re trying to prevent the competition from low-cost carriers, then use more frequencies out of those airports. Again, these are the most high ensity airports that we’re talking about. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Congress is back from vacation and instead of focusing their investigative power on Syria in the wake of President Trump’s first bombing of the Syrian government, Congress focused on North Korea. In this episode, get the background information you will need to understand the daily developments related to North Korea and hear highlights from two Senate Armed Services Committee hearings and a U.N. Security Council meeting during which our plans for North Korea were laid on the table. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute using credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD136: Building WWIII Additional Reading Article: Here's what's driving North Korea's nuclear program - and it might be more than self-defense by Jonathan Kaiman, The Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2017. Article: As Economy Grows, North Korea's Grip on Society Is Tested by Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times, April 30, 2017. Article: McCain plans gains momentum amid North Korea threats by Rebecca Kheel, The Hill, April 30, 2017. Article: N. Korean missile test fails hours after UN meeting on nukes by Foster Klug and Kim Tong-Hyung, San Francisco Chronicle, April 28, 2017. Article: China Calls for Restraint on North Korea as USS Carl Vinson Arrives by Petra Cahill, NBC News, April 24, 2017. Article: Lawmakers' Letters Endorse McCain Plan To Reinforce Pacific, Assist Asian Allies by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr, Breaking Defense, March 2, 2017. Report: U.S.-South Korea Relations by Congressional Research Service, October 20, 2016. Article: Rare earth mineral reserves were discovered in North Korea - and it could be a game-changer by Sam Doo, Business Insider, April 20, 2015. Article: Understanding Kim John Un, The World's Most Enigmatic and Unpredictable Dictator by Mark Bowden, Vanity Fair, March 2015. Article: All the Previous Declarations of War by Garance Franke-Ruta, The Atlantic, August 31, 2013. Article: The Case for Countering China's Rise by Martin Jacques, The New York Times, September 23, 2011. Videos YouTube: Why Korea Split Into North and South Korea Vice: Inside North Korea Part 1 Vice: Inside North Korea Part 2 Vice: Inside North Korea Part 3 YouTube:VICE on HBO Season One: The Hermit Kingdom YouTube: Channel West Coast - I Love Money YouTube: Donald Trump Says "China" Remix Song YouTube: Donald Trump Says China Remix References Document: Security Council Resolution 83 GovTrack: H.R. 1644: Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act Lockheed Martin: Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Missile Defense Agency: THAAD Fact Sheet OpenSecrets: Lockheed Martin Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: 2015 Contributors and Funders Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Policy and Strategy in the Asia-Pacific, United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, April 25, 2017. Watch on CSPAN Witnesses Dr. Victor D. Cha: Senior Advisor and Korea Chair, Center For Strategic and International Studies CSIS Bio Georgetown University Profile White House Website Bio Dr. Aaron L. Friedberg: Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University Princeton University Profile Princeton News - Deputy National Security Advisor to VP Dick Cheney Ms. Kelly E. Magsamen: Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense LinkedIn Profile Twitter Account Dr. Ashley J. Tellis: Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Profile Timestamps & Transcripts 18:52 Senator John McCain: America’s interests in the Asia-Pacific region are deep and enduring. That’s why, for the past 70 years, we’ve worked with our allies and partners to uphold a rules-based order based on principles of free peoples and free markets, open seas, and open skies, the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. These ideas have produced unprecedented peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. But now challenges to this rules-based order are mounting as a threat, not just the nations of the Asia-Pacific region but the United States as well. The most immediate challenge is the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Kim Jong-un’s regime has thrown its full weight behind its quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, and, unfortunately, the regime is making real progress. A North Korean missile with a nuclear payload capable of striking an American city is no longer a distant hypothetical but an imminent danger, one that poses a real and rising risk of conflict. 31:20 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: The goal of Beijing’s strategy has become increasingly clear in the last few years is to create a regional Eurasian order that’s very different from the one we’d been trying to build since the end of the Cold War. 32:03 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: When the Cold War ended, the United States set out to expand the geographic scope of the Western liberal economic and institutional order by integrating the pieces of the former Soviet Union and the former Soviet empire and by accelerating the integration of China—the process that had begun a few years before. As regards China, the United States pursued a two-prong strategy: on one hand, seeking to engage China across all domains, economic in particular but diplomatic in others; and at the same time, working with our allies and partners and maintaining our own forces in the region to preserve a balance of power that was favorable to our interests and the security of our allies. And the goals of that policy were to preserve stability, to deter the possibility of aggression, while waiting for engagement to work its magic. The U.S. hoped, in effect, to tame and ultimately to transform China, to encourage its leaders to see their interests as lying in preservation of that order, and to set in motion processes that would lead, eventually, to the economic and political liberalization of that country. 37:53 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: Economically, they’ve been using the growing gravitational pull of their economy to draw others towards them and also to become increasingly open in using economic threats and punishments to try to shape the behavior of others in the region, including U.S. allies; as Dr. Cha mentioned, Korea; and also the Philippines. 42:27 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: And while there’s obviously a limit to what we can and should say in public, we are at a point, I think, where we need to be able to explain to our allies, our possible adversaries, and ourselves how we would fight and win a war in Asia, should that ever become necessary. 45:50 Kelly Magsamen: First, we need to increase the pressure on North Korea as a necessary predicate to any other option. China is central to that, but we can’t rely only on Chinese pressure. We also need to be realistic. Kim Jong-un is not going to unilaterally disarm because of international pressure. Pressure alone is not going to solve the problem. Second, military options should remain on the table, but they are extremely high risk and should be a last resort. We should not kid ourselves here: a conflict on the peninsula would be unlike anything we have seen in decades. North Korea is not a Syria, it’s not an Iraq; the consequences could be extremely high. 55:51 Dr. Ashley J. Tellis: I think it would be very helpful for the administration to support your initiative, Senator McCain, with respect to the Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative. In fact, urgent funding at levels that approximate those are for the European Reassurance Initiative. 56:32 Dr. Ashley J. Tellis: In the near term, this will require shifting additional combat power to the theater, remedying shortfalls in critical munitions, expanding logistics’ capabilities, increasing joint exercises and training, and improving force resiliency by enabling a more dispersed deployment posture. But the longer term is just as crucial, and the demands of the longer term cannot be avoided indefinitely. Here, I believe, bipartisan support will be necessary for developing and rapidly integrating various revolutionary technologies into the joint force—technologies that will emphasize stealth, long-range, and unmanned capabilities as well as doubling down on our advantages in undersea warfare. 1:05:47 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: China’s been playing a game with us, for at least 15 years, on this issue. When we get especially concerned about what the North Koreans are doing, and we go to the Chinese and ask them for their help, what they’ve done in the past is to apply limited increments of pressure—they did it in 2003 to get the North Koreans to agree to sit down, what became six-party talks—but at the same time, almost simultaneously, as Victor suggests, they’re enabling the North Korean regime to continue by allowing continued economic exchange across their border. The Chinese have also allowed, or the Chinese authorities have at least looked aside as Chinese-based companies have exported to North Korea components that were essential to the development of their ballistic missiles, and probably other parts of their special-weapons programs. I’m not at all optimistic that the Chinese are going to play a different game with us now than they did in the past. One thing I would add, though: aside from military pressure, which for reasons that you suggest, Senator McCain, is I think of questionable plausibility, there are ways in which we could increase economic pressure on the North Korean regime, particularly by imposing further economic sanctions and especially financial sanctions. We did that in the Bush administration. I think it was actually something that caused a good deal of pain. We backed away from it for various reasons. I think it was a mistake to have done that. One of the reasons, my understanding, that we haven’t been willing to push on this harder is that it probably would involve sanctioning entities that are based in China, and I think we’ve been reluctant to do that because of our concerns about upsetting the relationship with China. I think if we’re going to be serious about this, we probably are going to have to go down that road. 1:08:37 Kelly Magsamen: Now is the time to try to make China understand that the status quo is worse for them than all other scenarios, and to do that, I think we need to hold their interests at risk, and what I mean by that is somewhat of what Dr. Friedberg said, which is we need to really think hard about secondary sanctions on Chinese banks. I actually think we should go out and do it now. I don’t think we should actually wait. I don’t think that holding it in advance is actually going to induce Chinese cooperation. So now is the time to demonstrate to China that we’re serious in that regard. 1:15:45 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: There is in the long run—I hesitate to use this term because it’s fallen into disfavor for good and bad reasons—but the ultimate solution to this problem is regime change unless and until there’s a change in the character of the North Korean regime and certainly the identity of the current leadership. There’s absolutely no prospect that I can see that this problem will get better. 1:26:05 Dr. Ashley J. Tellis: We cannot do anything else without exhausting the alternatives offered by diplomacy because dealing with North Korea, at the end of the day, will require a coalition effort, and we have to satisfy the expectations of our coalition partners that we’ve made every effort in the interim to deal with the challenge. And so we have to think of it in terms of a multi-step game. As Dr. Cha highlighted, the immediate objective should be to get the North Korean regime back to the negotiating table. The ultimate objective must be to hope that there will be evolutionary change in the regime. 2:07:45 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: If you ask what would be the sort of outer limit of what China could do— Unknown Speaker: Mm-hmm. Friedberg: —assuming that it was willing to do almost anything, it could bring North Korean economy to its knees, which it’s pretty close to that already; it could cut off the flows of funds that go across the border into North Korea, partly from the so-called illicit activities that the North Koreans engage in; it could interdict components that flow into North Korea through China that support the special-weapons programs; it could do a lot. Hearing: United States Pacific Command and United States Forces Korea, United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, April 27, 2017. Witness Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN: Commander, United States Pacific Command Timestamps & Transcripts 16:44 John McCain: America’s interests in the Asia-Pacific region are deep and enduring. That’s why, for the past 70 years, we’ve worked with our allies and partners to uphold a rules-based order based on the principles of free peoples and free markets, open seas, and open skies, and the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. These ideas have produced unprecedented peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. But now challenges to this rules-based order are mounting, and they threaten not just the nations of the Asia-Pacific region but the United States as well. The most immediate threat is the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Kim Jong-un’s regime has thrown its full weight behind its quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, and, unfortunately, the regime is making real progress. A North Korean missile with a nuclear payload capable of striking an American city is no longer a distant hypothetical but an imminent danger, one that poses a real and rising risk of conflict. 19:47 John McCain: As its behavior toward South Korea indicates over the last several years, China has acted less and less like a responsible stakeholder of the rules-based order in the region and more like a bully. It has economically coerced its neighbors, increased its provocations in the East China Sea, and militarized the South China Sea. Meanwhile, with a rebalance policy too heavy on rhetoric and too light on action, years of senseless defense cuts and now the disastrous decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, U.S. policy has failed to adapt to the scale and velocity of China’s challenge to the rules-based order. 21:44 John McCain: At our hearing earlier this week, our panel of expert witnesses agreed there was a strong merit for an “Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative.” This Initiative could enhance U.S. military power through targeted funding to realign our force posture in a region, improve operationally relevant infrastructure, fund additional exercises, pre-position equipment, and build capacity with our allies and partners. Admiral Harris, I’m eager to hear your thoughts on this kind of an initiative. 24:26 Senator Jack Reed: While North Korea poses an immediate national security threat, we must not lose sight of the potential long-term threat that China poses to the rules-based order in the Asia-Pacific region. Whether it be economic coercion of its small and more vulnerable neighbors or undermining the freedom of navigation that we all depend upon, China has not demonstrated a willingness to rise as a responsible global leader. Therefore, I believe it is critical that we empower and engage countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia to protect their own waterways and provide them with economical alternatives to maintain regional stability, preserve U.S. standing in Asia, and allow the economic growth and stability that has characterized the region for the last 50 years to continue. 35:41 John McCain: What does THAAD do for us? Admiral Harris: THAAD enables us and our South Korean allies to defend South Korea, or a big portion of South Korea, against the threat from North Korea. It is aimed at North Korea, the systems, and it poses no threat to China. McCain: But isn’t it incredibly difficult to counter the 4,000 artillery pieces that the North Koreans have on the DMZ, which could attack a city of 26 million people? Harris: It is, sir, and THAAD is not designed to counter those kinds of basic weapons. McCain: And what is designed to do that? Anything? Harris: We do not have those kinds of weapons that can counter those rockets once they’re launched. McCain: And they can launch—they have the capability of a launch of those rockets. Harris: At this very moment, they have that capability, Senator. 1:02:00 Senator Roger Wicker: There are these 4,000 short-range missiles, and your testimony is that there is essentially no defense from the south for those— Admiral Harris: Right. Wicker: —short-range missiles. Is that correct? Harris: And those aren’t missiles. Those are mostly artillery. Wicker: Artillery. Okay. Artillery. Harris: And so— Wicker: And there's no defense? Harris: Right. I mean, you’re trying to shoot down an artillery round, right. Wicker: Okay. And then, the chairman asked you, and I don’t think I understood the answer, what does THAAD get us? Harris: THAAD allows us an intercept capability to shoot down, at the high-altitude level, ballistic missiles that go from North Korea to South Korea. 1:57:37 Admiral Harris: What we said was, the Carl Vinson was leaving Singpore, truncating its exercise, cancelling is port visit, and heading to Northeast Asia. Unknown Speaker: But— Harris: And that’s where it is today. It’s within striking power, striking range of North Korea if the president were to call on it. 2:16:17 Senator Lindsay Graham: It should be the policy of the United States to never allow North Korea to develop an ICBM with a warhead that could hit America. Admiral Harris: I believe that’s correct. Graham: Okay. Do you believe that the only way they’ll change that policy, their desire, is if they believe that the regime could be taken down by us if they continue to develop an ICBM? Without credible military threat in the mind of the North Koreans they’re going to plow ahead? Harris: I believe that generally, but I believe that China might be able to exert its influence. Graham: Do you believe China could change North Korea’s behavior, absent a belief by North Korea, that we would use military force to stop their ICBM program? Harris: I do not. Graham: Okay. Do you believe that China would act stronger and more bold if they believe credible military force was on the table to stop North Korea? Harris: I do. Graham: So, it seems to me that the policy of the United States, given the admiral’s advice and you are really good at what you do, that we should all agree that it’s not good for America for North Korea to have an ICBM with a warhead attached, and it’s really not good for China, is it? Harris: I believe it is not good for China. Graham: Well, why don’t they believe that? Harris: Because they have their own calculus, their own decision process. Graham: Do you think they’re beginning to reshape their calculus in light of our reaction to North Korea? Harris: I hope so, but it’s early days. Graham: Okay. In terms of China’s leverage on North Korea, you said it was substantial. Harris: Their leverage is potentially substantial. Graham: Substantial. The best way to avoid a military conflict with North Korea over their missile program is for China to wake up North Korea to the reality of what threat that presents to North Korea and China. Is that fair to say? Harris: That is fair to say. Graham: Is it also fair to say that we do not have any intentions of invading North Korea at all? I mean, that’s not on our—nobody’s told you, “Get ready to invade North Korea.” Harris: That is not fair to say, sir. I believe the president has said that all options are on the table. Graham: Yeah, but, I mean, we’re not going to just go in and take North Korea down for the heck of it. Harris: Sir, I don’t want to get into what we could or could not do. Graham: Okay. Well, North Korea thinks we’re going to invade in any moment. Do you think that’s part of our national security strategy is, without provocation to attack North Korea? Harris: I think North Korea has provided provocation already in terms of— Graham: But without provocation, it’s not our policy to attack North Korea. Harris: They have provoked us already, sir. Graham: Yeah, I said but if they stopped it, they don’t have anything to worry about. Harris: Then we will have to look at it. You know, that’s a decision— Graham: That's all I'm saying. Harris: That’s a decision that the president would make. UN Security Council Meeting: Secretary Tillerson Chairs UN Security Council Meeting on Denuclearization of North Korea, April 28, 2017. Timestamps & Transcripts 2:00 Antonio Guterres (UN Secretary General): The Security Council first adopted the resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK, nuclear issue in 1993 when it urged the DPRK not to withdraw from the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Twenty-four years later and despite extensive efforts, the challenge has defied resolution. In response to the DPRK’s accelerated nuclear and ballistic missile activities, the Security Council has adopted two sanctions resolutions and met 11 times in emergency consultations since January 2016. During this period, the DPRK conducted two nuclear tests, more than 30 launches using ballistic missile technology, and various other activities relating to the nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Its launches using ballistic-missile technology, have included tests of short, medium, intermediate range and submarine-launched ballistic missiles as well as the placement of a satellite in orbit. These tests and launches are clear violations of Security Council resolutions, and the absence of coordination and notifications in advance of these launches, other than the space launch of 7 February 2016, are also contrary to internationally accepted regulations and standards adopted by the International Maritime Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization. 11:30 Secretary Rex Tillerson: We have said this before, and it bears repeating: the policy of strategic patience is over. Additional patience will only mean acceptance of a nuclear North Korea. The more we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it. 12:27 Secretary Rex Tillerson: Our goal is not regime change nor do we desire to threaten the North Korean people or destabilize the Asia-Pacific region. Over the years we have withdrawn our own nuclear weapons from South Korea and offered aid to North Korea as proof of our intent to de-escalate the situation and normalize relations. Since 1995 the United States has provided over $1.3 billion in aid to North Korea, and we look forward to resuming our contributions once the DPRK begins to dismantle its nuclear weapons and missile technology programs. 13:35 Secretary Rex Tillerson: I propose all nations take these three actions, beginning today: first, we call on UN member states to fully implement the commitments they have made regarding North Korea. This includes all measures required in resolutions 2321 and 2270. Those nations which have not fully enforced these resolutions fully discredit this body. Second, we call on countries to suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with North Korea. North Korea exploits its diplomatic privileges to fund its illicit nuclear and missile technology programs, and constraining its diplomatic activity will cut off a flow of needed resources. In light of North Korea’s recent actions, normal relations with the DPRK are simply not acceptable. Third, we must increase North Korea’s financial isolation. We must levy new sanctions on DPRK entities and individuals supporting its weapons and missile programs, and tighten those that are already in place. The United States, also, would much prefer countries and people in question to own up to their lapses and correct their behavior themselves, but we will not hesitate to sanction third-country entities and individuals supporting the DPRK’s illegal activities. We must bring maximum economic pressure by severing trade relationships that directly fund the DPRK’s nuclear missile program. I call on the international community to suspend the flow of North Korean guest workers and to impose bans on North Korean imports, especially coal. We must all do our share, but China, accounting for 90 percent of North Korean trade, China alone has economic leverage over Pyongyang that is unique, and its role is, therefore, particularly important. The U.S. and China have held very productive exchanges on this issue, and we look forward to further actions that build on what China has already done. Lastly, as we have said before, all options for responding to future provocation must remain on the table. Diplomatic and financial levers of power will be backed up by a willingness to counteract North Korean aggression, with military action if necessary. 36:02 Wang Yi (China's Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr. President, China is not the focal point of the problem on the peninsula. I think the key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese. 37:05 Wang Yi: The dual-track approach aims to promote parallel progress in the denuclearization of the peninsula and the establishment of a peace mechanism on the peninsula in a synchronized and reciprocal manner, ultimately achieving both goals together. The suspension-for-suspension proposal, which calls for the suspension of nuclear and missile activities by the DPRK and the suspension of large-scale military exercises by the U.S. and the ROK, seeks to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table, thus initiating the first step of the dual-track approach. 40:25 Wang Yi: Given the grave situation on the peninsula, China strongly urges all parties to remain calm and exercise restraint and avoid provocative rhetoric or actions that will lead to miscalculation. What I want to stress is that there is and should be no double standard on this issue. While we demand the DPRK to observe the Council’s resolutions and stop advancing its nuclear and missile development, we also demand the U.S., the ROK, and other parties to refrain from conducting or even expanding military exercises and deployment against the DPRK. 41:06 Wang Yi: All parties should comprehensively appreciate and fully implement DPRK related Security Council’s resolutions, in addition to introducing sanctions on the DPRK, the resolutions adopted do date also ask for resumption of the six-party talks, avoidance of acceleration of tensions, not to mention [unclear], in other words, imposing sanctions [unclear] talks about the [unclear] Council resolutions. We may not choose one over the other. We’ll only implement what we see fit. 42:30 Wang Yi: Before I conclude, I want to reiterate China’s firm opposition against a U.S. deployment of THAAD anti-missile system in the ROK. It’s a move that seriously undermines the strategic security of China and other countries in the region and damages the trust and the cooperation amongst the parties on the peninsula issue. It is detrimental to achieving denuclearization and maintaining long-term stability on the peninsula. China was again urges [unclear] parties to immediately stop the deployment process. 2:03:05 Secretary Rex Tillerson: We will not negotiate our way back to the negotiating table with North Korea. We will not reward their violations of past resolutions. We will not reward their bad behavior with talks. We will only engage in talks with North Korea when they exhibit a good-faith commitment to abiding by the Security Council resolutions and their past promises to end their nuclear programs. Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Congress goes on vacation; the Executive Branch escalates a war. In this episode, we look back at the 2011 Libya regime change to understand why we are bombing again in 2016. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Sound Clip Sources: Hearings Department of Defense Libya Briefing: Defense Department Briefing, Peter Cook, Department of Defense Press Secretary, August 1, 2016. Timestamps and Transcripts {00:31} Peter Cook: I want to begin today with an update on the campaign to defeat ISIL wherever it tries to spread. Today at the request of Libya’s Government of National Accord, the United States conducted precision air strikes against ISIL targets in Sirte, Libya to support GNA-affiliated forces seeking to defeat ISIL and its primary stronghold in Libya. These strikes were authorized by the president, following a recommendation from Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford. They are consistent with our approach of combating ISIL by working with capable and motivated local partners. GNA-aligned forces have had success in recapturing territory from ISIL, and additional U.S. strikes will continue to target ISIL in Sirte and enable the GNA to make a decisive, strategic advance. As you may have seen earlier today, Prime Minister al-Sarraj, the head of the GNA, announced that he had specifically requested these strikes as part of the GNA’s campaign to defeat ISIL in Libya. As we’ve said for some time, the United States supports the GNA. We would be prepared to carefully consider any requests for military assistance. We have now responded to that request, and we’ll continue to work closely with the GNA to help the government restore stability and security in Libya. {05:37} Reporter: And then how long the campaign will last? Cook: Again, we’ll be in—this will depend on the requests of support from the GNA, and we’re proceeding along that line. We don’t have an endpoint at this particular moment in time, but we’ll be working closely with the GNA. {13:35} Reporter: Previous intelligence estimates had ISIS at a fighting force of around—up to 6,000, I believe. Is that the current assessment that you guys have? Cook: The assessment numbers that I’ve seen, and, again, I would—it’s hard to gauge ISIL numbers anywhere, but I’ve seen that number, at least our assessment is that it’s been reduced, and the number may be closer to 1,000 now. Reporter: That was in Libya, all together? Cook: In Libya, all together. Reporter: Okay. And lastly— Cook: I’m sorry. That’s specific to Sirte, but that’s the predominant area where ISIL has, in terms of geography, has occupied. So… Reporter: Got it. {15:50} Reporter: So there was a strike today, one in February that you confirmed previously. Is this the third strike now? Was there one before the one in February? Cook: Yes, there was an earlier strike. I believe it was November was the first strike against ISIL by U.S. military. {16:50} Reporter: In answer to a previous question, you said initially there were no U.S. forces on the ground, and then you seemed to clarify later you meant specifically to this operation. Are you saying that right now there are—are you making it clear there are no U.S. teams of any kind on the ground, or are you just specifically saying there are no U.S. on the ground related to this particular operation? Cook: I’m—this is specific to this operation. I’m not going to get into what we’ve talked about previously, the small number of U.S. forces that will be on the ground in Libya. They’ve been in and out, and I’m not going to get into that any further. {24:50} Reporter: You keep comparing this to the strikes at the—strikes in November and February, which were going after a high-value individuals. They were after specific individuals versus my understanding of this—correct me if I’m wrong—is this is the beginning of a campaign, an air campaign in Libya, in which the U.S. military is supporting GNA militias who have pledged their loyalty to the GNA. Is that fair? Is this the beginning of—president has approved these strikes and they will continue until Sirte is liberated. Cook: They will continue as long as the GNA is requesting—Reporter: But they don’t have to put in the request every single time. There is now this blanket authority that exists for the U.S. military to strike when the GNA puts in their requests, right? Cook: These requests—these requests will be carefully coordinated with the GNA. This all originates from GNA requests for assistance, and the president has given the authority for us to have—to carefully consider those requests. Reporter: Okay. But just to be clear, because I think comparing this to these two previous strikes that were going after individuals, each one, it sounds as if this is—these were strikes that were carried out today and that’s to be the end of it. But this is the beginning of an air campaign over Libya, correct? Cook: We are prepared to carry out more strikes in coordination with the GNA if those requests are forthcoming, and so— Reporter: Again, the request has been granted, right? There was—with the GNA— Cook: The authorization has been granted. {28:30} Reporter: Under what legal authority are these strikes being conducted? Cook: The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, similar to our previous air strikes in Libya. {33:17} Reporter And one last thing. You’ve made many references to civilians in Sirte. What is the U.S. estimate of how many civilians remain in Sirte? Cook: I’ll try to get that number for you; I don’t know that offhand. {35:00} Reporter: Peter, were leaflets dropped on that tank and those vehicles before the air strikes? Cook: I’m not aware that they were. Hearing: U.S. Africa Command and National Guard Bureau Nominations, Senate Armed Services Committee, June 21, 2016. Witnesses: Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser, Director for Joint Force Development for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nominee for AFRICOM director Joseph Lengyel, Chief of National Guard Bureau Timestamps and Transcripts {20:35} Lt. General Waldhauser: We have two significant objectives for the United States: one is to get the Government of National Accord up and running, and the second is to disrupt Libya—disrupt ISIL inside Libya. {22:40} Senator John McCain: So, right now you don’t think we need additional U.S. military presence. Waldhauser: At the moment, no.McCain: “At the moment” means to me, we don’t have a strategy. I don’t know what “at the moment”—unfortunately, this administration has reacted “at the moment” with incrementalism, mission creep, a gradual escalation in Iraq and Syria, and I don’t want to see the same thing in Libya, but I’m beginning to see the same thing. Do we have a strategy for Libya, or are we just acting in an ad hoc fashion, which was—it’s been the case, as we’ve watched ISIS establish, metastasize, and grow in Libya. Waldhauser: Well, as indicated, the two strategic objectives that we do have for Libya is to assist the— McCain: I know the objectives; do we have a strategy? Waldhauser: To continue to support that right at this point in time, I am not aware of any overall grand strategy at this point. {1:03:55} Senator Angus King: Does the GNA control the military and the police forces? Waldhauser: Senator, and to my knowledge I would not use the word “control;” I think at the moment these militias, it seems to me, appear to be working in a direction that Sarraj would like to go, but I would, at this point and if confirmed I’ll look into this, but I would not use the word “control” for the GNA over the militias. King: But ultimately that’s going to have to happen if they’re going to control the territory. Waldhauser: Ultimately it will have to happen because you won’t have a secure and working government unless they have control of a military, and in this case numerous militias across that country. Hearing: U.S. Policy Toward Libya, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 15, 2016. Witness Jonathan Winer, State Department Special Envoy for Libya Timestamps and Transcripts {20:50} Senator Ben Cardin: Could you tell us whether the administration is anticipating sending up an authorization to Congress for its military campaign in Libya? Winer: I don’t know of a military campaign in Libya being contemplated, Senator. {28:15} Winer: I think that the problem is not so much pumping it out and losing it—there’s still room for further exploration, further development—as it is the problem of too much money going out and not enough coming in, where the IMF has said to us, for example, there is no solution, no reforms, they can take if they’re not producing their oil. Senator David Perdue: Their debt situation’s already in a crisis level. Winer: Their very difficult economic situation right now is a result of not pumping their oil. They should be pumping 1.5 million a day; they’ve been pumping less than 400,000 a day. Last week I talked with the head of the petroleum forces and said, you’ve got to turn the oil back on. Now he now supports the Government of National Accord, his forces have been fighting to get rid of Daesh, and I think that oil is going to be turned on. It’s absolutely critical. There are forces in the West—there’s Zintan, they’ve shutdown formed in 40,000 barrels a day because some of their concerns have not met.Perdue: And does ISIS, since that’s such an important economic issue—I’m sorry to interrupt— Winer: Yes, sir. Perdue: But, does ISIS pose a threat to that oil production, even if they could turn it up? Winer: To the production, yes. To exploitation, probably not. The pipelines run north-south, south-north, and they are not really exploitable in Libya in the way they’ve been exploitable in Iraq. Daesh did attack the oil crescent area and destroyed some terminals, some areas where oil was being stored at the terminals, and that’s probably reduced their capacity some, but it’s quite limited damage at this point. One of the things that’s really impressive about the efforts against Daesh in the Sirte region and the oil crescent region is it’s begun to push them away from their ability to threaten Libya’s future oil production. So that’s a significant development. But the Libyans need to draw together and address one another’s grievances so that everybody agrees to allow the oil to be pumped again. Hearing: The Path Forward in Libya, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, March 3. 2016. Witnesses Fred Wehrey - Senior Associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Claudia Gazzini - Senior Analyst, Libya, International Crisis Group Timestamps and Transcripts {23:10} Fred Wehrey: I just returned last night from Libya, where I saw first hand the country’s humanitarian plight, political divisions, and the struggle against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. I spoke to the young militia fighters who are on the front lines against the Islamic State. I heard stories from the victims of its atrocities. What struck me most is that Libya’s fragmentation into armed militias, tribes, and towns has created a vacuum that the Islamic State is exploiting, and this dissolution also presents a number of risks for U.S. and Western strategy against the Islamic State. First, there is no national military command through which the U.S. and its allies can channel counterterrorism aid; the country is split between two loose constellations of armed actors, so-called Dignity camp in the East and the Dawn camp in the West. Now, over the last year, these two factions have fragmented, splintered, to the point that they exist in name only, and although the factions signed an agreement in December for a new Government of National Accord, that government remains stillborn and unable to exert its authority. A key stumbling block is the question of who and what faction will control the country’s armed forces, but perhaps most worrisome is that these two camps are still, in my view, more focused on viewing each other as a threat rather than the Islamic State. Many are, in fact, using the danger posed by the Islamic State as a pretext to wage war against local rivals over political supremacy, turf, and economic spoils. Both sides accuse the other of with the Islamic State. {30:24} Claudia Gazzini: The country’s economic situation is also dire. Libya, as you know, is an oil-rich country, but over the past two years, production of crude oil has plummeted because of attacks on oil fields and oil terminals. The drop in oil prices has forced the country to run a deficit of up to two, three billion dollars a month, and this has rapidly drained the country’s reserves of foreign currency, which are now between 50 and 60 billion dollars, less than half of what they were just two years ago. {36:31} Senator Bob Corker Speaking of special operators, right now it appears there’s a wide variety of foreign special operations forces on the ground in Libya. Both U.S. and Europe have bold plans for supporting the GNA. If the GNA is supported under heavy Western hand does that cause—does that not cause them to lack legitimacy in the eyes of Libyans? {38:15} Wehrey: There is the sense that this is the third government, that it’s been imposed, and so, yeah, if there is military support flowing to that government, it could create some dissonance. {58:25} Senator Ed Markey: Dr. Wehrey, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that the United States military and some allies, including France and the UK, have for months been preparing plans for a second intervention into Libya to support a potential Government of National Accord. The report also said that we and our partners have already established a coalition coordinating center in Rome. Sound Clip Sources: News & Documentaries RT Newscast: US Looks On Libya as McDonald’s – Gaddafi’s Son, Reported by Maria Finoshina, RT, June 30, 2011. RT Newscast: Gaddafi Gold-For-Oil, Dollar-Doom Plans Behind Libya 'Mission'?, Reported by Laura Emmett, RT, May 5, 2011. BBC Documentary on Libya: Before Rats Freedom & Democracy in Lybia (2008): Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Additional Hearings, Documentaries, and News Segments Hearing: CIA Intelligence Activities in Libya, Senate Select Intelligence Committee, June 16, 2016. Documentary: Pipeline to Paradise (Gaddafi's Gift to Libya), By Winfried Spinler (2001), Published on YouTube November 14, 2013. Hearing: Examining The U.S. Policy Response to Entrenched African Leadership, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 18. 2012. Hillary Clinton CBS New Interview: Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We Came, We Saw, He Died, CBS News, October 20, 2011. Hearing: Libya and War Powers, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, June 28, 2011. Hearing: War Powers and U.S. Operations in Libya , House Foreign Affairs Committee, May 25, 2011. Hearing: Perspectives on the Crisis in Libya, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 6, 2011. Hearing: U.S. Security Interests in Libya, House Foreign Affairs Committee, March 31, 2011. Hearing: U.S. Operations in Libya, Senate Armed Services Committee, March 29, 2011. U.N. Security Council Meeting on Libya, United Nations Security Council, March 17, 2011. Al Jazeera English Television Broadcast: Libyan Leader Moammar Qadhafi Address, February 22, 2011. Current News Libya 2016 Article: Italy Reportedly Sends Special Forces to Libya By Tom Kington, Defense News, August 11, 2016. Article: US-backed Forces in Libya Liberate Most of IS Group Stronghold of Sirte By News Wires, France 24, August 11, 2016. Article: French Special Forces Withdraw from Libya's Benghazi By Saifuddin al-Trabulsi and Osama Ali, Anadolu Agency, August 11, 2016. Article: U.S. Special Operations Troops Aiding Libyan Forces in Major Battle Against Islamic State By Missy Ryan and Sudarsan Raghavan, The Washington Post, August 9, 2016. Article: Libya: Free Saif ! Free the Nation! By Eric Draitser, Sri Lanka Guardian, August 9, 2016. Press Briefing: United States Department of State Daily Press Briefing, Spokesperson John Kirby, August 2, 2016. Article: Obama Approves 30-day Airstrike Mission Against ISIS in Libya By Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press, Fox News, August 2, 2016. Article: U.S. is Bombing Libya Again, 5 Years After NATO War Destabilized the Country By Ben Norton, Salon, August 2, 2016. Article: Aug. 1: The U.S. Intensifies Its Fight in Libya, Stratfor, August 1, 2016. Article: Gaddafi’s Ghosts: Return of the Libyan Jamahiriya By Dan Glazebrook, RT, July 30, 2016. Article: Deal to Open Libya's Ras Lanuf and Es Sider Oil Ports, Al Jazeera, July 30, 2016. Article: Libya: Tripoli Condemns French Military Involvement, Al Jazeera, July 21, 2016. Article: France Confirms Three Soldiers Killed in Libya, Al Jazeera, July 20, 2016. Article: Freedom for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi! Freedom for Libya! By Eric Draitser, New Eastern Outlook, July 14, 2016. Article: Libya: Leaked Tapes Suggest West Supports Haftar, Al Jazeera, July 9, 2016. Article: Gaddafi Son Saif al-Islam 'Freed After Death Sentence Quashed' By Chris Stephen, The Guardian, July 7, 2016. Article: U.S. Special Forces Take the Fight to ISIS in Libya By Nick Paton Walsh, CNN World News, May 26, 2016. Executive Order by Preseident Barack Obama: Blocking Property And Suspending Entry Into The United States Of Persons Contributing To The Situation In Libya, The White House Office of the Press Secretary, April 19, 2016. Article: Who is Libya’s New Prime Minister-Designate Fayez Al Sarraj?, The National, April 7, 2016. Article: Libya's UN-Backed Government Sails Into Tripoli, Al Jazeera, March 31, 2016. Article: Chief of Libya's New UN-Backed Government Arrives in Tripoli By Chris Stephen, The Guardian, March 30, 2016. Article: Exposing the Libyan Agenda: a Closer Look at Hillary’s Emails By Ellen Brown, Counter Punch, March 14, 2016. Article: Even Critics Understate How Catastrophically Bad the Hillary Clinton-led NATO Bombing of Libya Was By Ben Norton, Salon, March 2, 2016. Article: Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall By Jo Becker and Scott Shane, The New York Times, February 27, 2016. Article: U.S. Scrambles to Contain Growing ISIS Threat in Libya By Eric Schmitt, The New York Times, February 21, 2016. Article: U.S. Bombing in Libya Reveals Limits of Strategy Against ISIS By Declan Walsh, Ben Hubbard and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times, February 19, 2016. Article: Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again By Jack Smith, CounterPunch, February 5, 2016. Article: Obama Is Pressed to Open Military Front Against ISIS in Libya By Eric Schmitt, The New York Times, February 4, 2016. Article: Opening a New Front Against ISIS in Libya By The Editorial Board, The New York Times, January 26, 2016. Article: Libyan Oil, Gold, and Qaddafi: The Strange Email Sidney Blumenthal Sent Hillary Clinton In 2011 By Avi Asher-Schapiro, Vice News, January 12, 2016. The Guardian News Reports on Libya The New York Times News about Arab League Additional Reading Libya 2011 to 2015 Article: Syria Exposes Threat Between Obama and Clinton By Peter Baker, The New York Times, October 3, 2015. Article: Gaddafi Loyalists Stage Rare Protest in Eastern Libya, Reuters, August 4, 2015. Article: Where in the World Is the U.S. Military? By David Vine, Politico Magazine, July/August 2015. Article: Tyler Drumheller Was the Man Behind Hillary Clinton's Private Libya Intel, Sources Say By Benjamin Siegel and John Parkinson, ABC News, June 17, 2015. Article: War Crime: NATO Deliberately Destroyed Libya's Water Infrastructure By Nafeez Ahmed, Truthout, May 30, 2015. Article: How NATO Deliberately Destroyed Libya's Water Infrastructure By Nafeez Ahmed, The Cutting Edge, May 13, 2015. Article: Human Trafficker Gets Busy as Libya Migrant Crisis Worsens By Caroline Alexander and Salma El Wardany, Bloomberg, May 10, 2015. Article: East's Bid to Control Libya Oil Wealth Likely to Fail By Ulf Laessing, Reuters, March 23, 2015. Article: Khalifa Haftar Sworn in as Libya Army Chief, Al Jazeera, March 9, 2015. Article: Libya Clashes Force Oil Port Closure, Al Jazeera, December 14, 2014. Article: The Startling Size of US Military Operations in Africa By Nick Turse, Mother Jones, September 6, 2013. Article: Libya’s “Water Wars” and Gaddafi’s Great Man-Made River Project By Mathaba, May 13, 2013. Article: Election Results in Libya Break an Islamist Wave By David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times, July 8, 2012. Article: Braving Areas of Violence, Voters Try to Reshape Libya By David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times, July 7, 2012. Article: An Erratic Leader, Brutal and Defiant to the End By Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times, October 20, 2011. Article: Foreign Oil, Gas Firms Returning to Libya, CBS News/Associated Press, September 2, 2011. Article: World Powers Free Up Billions to Rebuild Libya By John Irish and Keith Weir, Reuters, September 1, 2011. Article: The Race is On for Libya's Oil, with Britain and France Both Staking a Claim By Julian Borger and Terry Macalister, The Guardian, September 1, 2011. Article: NATO Bombs the Great Man-Made River, Human Rights Investigations, July 27, 2011. Article: Rebels Say Qaddafi Must Face Trial as Airstrikes Hit Tripoli By Associated Pess, Fox News World, July 22, 2011. Article: Libya Rebels Get Formal Backing, and $30 Billion By Sebnem Arsu and Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, July 15, 2011. Article: Conflict in Libya: U.S. Oil Companies Sit on Sidelines as Gaddafi Maintains Hold By Steven Mufson, The Washington Post, June 10, 2011. Article: AFRICOM's Libyan Expedition By Jonathan Stevenson, Foreign Affairs, May 9, 2011. Article: Nine Killed in NATO Attack on Sirte, Reuters, April 22, 2011. Article: Libyan Rebel Council Forms Oil Company to Replace Qaddafi’s By Bill Varner, Bloomberg, March 22, 2011. Article: France and Britain Lead Military Push on Libya By Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, March 18, 2011. Article: As U.N. Backs Military Action in Libya, U.S. Role Is Unclear By Dan Bilefsky and Mark Landler, The New York Times, March 17, 2011. Article: Clinton Meets in Paris With Libyan Rebel Leader By Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times, March 14, 2011. Article: Map of the Day: This Is Where Libya's Oil Infrastructure Is Located By Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider, February 28, 2011. President Barack Obama Executive Order: Executive Order 13566 --Libya, The White House Office of the Press Secretary, February 25, 2011. Libya Prior to 2011 Article: African Union Names Gaddafi as Head, Al Jazeera, February 2, 2009. Article: The Years of Wheelus By Walter J. Boyne, Air Force Magazine, January 2008. Article: Africa United in Rejecting US Request for Military HQ By Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, June 26, 2007. Article: Behind Gaddafi's Diplomatic Turnaround By Scott McLeod, Time, May 18, 2006. Article: Libya's Thirst for 'Fossil Water' By John Watkins, BBC News, March 18, 2006. Article: 350 Libyans Trained to Oust Qaddafi Are to Come to U.S. By Neil A. Lewis, May 17, 1991. E Book/Pdf: The Green Book By Muammar Al Qaddafi, Originally published 1975. Owners vs. Producers Housing Additional Information GreenStream Pipeline GreenStream Pipeline Activity Human Rights Watch Website Encyclopaedia Britannica Online: Great Man-Made River (GMR) Energy Information Administration: 2007 Libya Energy Data, Statistics WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton Email Archive: "Tick Tock On Libya", September 2, 2011. Wikileaks: Hillary Clinton Email: "Lots of New Intel; Possible Libyan Collapse. Sid", March 27, 2011. Wikileaks: Hillary Clinton Email Archive: "H: France's Client & Q's Gold. Sid", March 4, 2011. Wikipedia: General People's Committee Reports Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy By Christopher M. Blanchard, Congressional Research Service, May 13, 2016. Appendix B. U.S. Assistance to Libya FY2010-FY2015 Total Energy 2013 Report on Activities in Libya Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Puerto Rico is in trouble and only the U.S. Congress can help the island of U.S. citizens. Does the bill quickly moving through Congress actually help Puerto Rico? Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! H.R. 5278: "Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act" (PROMESA) Bill Highlights Definitions "Territorial instrumentality": "Any political subdivision, public agency, instrumentality - including any instrumentality that is also a bank - or public corporation of a territory, and this term should be broadly construed to effectuate the purposes of this Act." Title 1: Establishment and Organization of Oversight Board Purpose: "To provide a method for a covered territory to achieve fiscal responsibility and access tot he capital markets." Constitutional Justification for the Board Article IV, section 3 of the Constitution "Provides Congress the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations for territories." Records Access The Oversight Board will have the power to demand budgets from any public agency. The Oversight Board has the power to exclude any public agency from the requirements of this law. Oversight Board Membership Seven unpaid members appointed by the President. Six of the selections will be from lists created by Congress. Two people must be selected from two different lists submitted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Two people must be picked from a list created by the Majority Leader of the Senate One person must be selected from a list created by the House Minority Leader One person must be selected from a list created by the Senate Minority Leader One person will be picked by the President Only one person on the board has to be a territory resident or "have a primary place of business in the territory" The appointments must be done by September 15, 2016 The Governor, or his designee, will be an "ex officio member" with no voting rights. Term of service: 3 years Removal: Can be done by the President "only for cause" Expired terms: The member can serve until someone else is appointed. Consecutive terms are allowed Member Qualifications Must have "knowledge and expertise in finance, municipal bond markets, management, law, or the organization or operation of business or government" No one who has worked for the territory's government is allowed on the Oversight Board Rules for the Oversight Board The Oversight Board will write the laws governing it's own activities The work of the Oversight Board can be privatized Majority Rule Needed To: Approve of fiscal plans Approve a budget To waive a law To approve or disapprove an infrastructure project Territorial Laws The Oversight Board can change the territory's laws "with the greatest degree of independence practicable" The Oversight Board may conduct their business behind closed doors. Paid Staff Executive Director The Board will determine his/her salary The Executive Director can hire as many staff members as he wants and decide how much they get paid, as long as none of them get more than he does. Gifts Are allowed but need to be publicly disclosed Exemption from Laws "The Executive Director and staff of the Oversight Board may be appointed and paid without regard to any provision of the laws of the covered territory or the Federal Government governing appointments and salaries. Any provision of the laws of the covered territory governing procurement shall not apply to the Oversight Board." Powers of the Oversight Board Data Collection The Oversight Board "shall have the right to secure copies, whether written or electronic, of such records, documents, information, data, or metadata from the territorial government" The banks can voluntarily submit information about how much money they think they're owed Subpeona Power Failure to obey an Oversight Board will be punished in court according to territorial laws. Strikes Prohibited The Oversight Board must "ensure prompt enforcement" of any territorial laws "prohibiting public sector employees from participating in a strike or lockout Lawsuits Against the Board Any legal action against the Oversight Board must be filed in a United States district court for the territory, or in the US District Court for Hawaii if that territory doesn't have one. The courts are not allowed to consider challenges to the Oversight Board's certification determinations Oversight Board Funding The Oversight Board will be funded by the permanent budget of the territory in an amount chosen by the Oversight Board. Until the territory creates the law providing permanent funding, the territory must transfer whatever the Oversight Board requests in its budget - at least 2 million dollars per month - to a fund controlled by the Oversight Board. The Oversight Board will have the ability to give some money back Oversight of the Oversight Board The territory is prohibited from exercising any oversight of the Oversight Board activities or from enacting any law related to the Oversight Board that "defeat the purposes of this Act" Title II: Responsibilities of the Oversight Board Approval of Fiscal Plans Fiscal plans submitted by the Governor will have to get certification from the Oversight Board. A fiscal plan developed by the Oversight Board will be deemed approved by the Governor Approval of Budgets If the Governor and Legislature don't have a budget certified by the first day of the fiscal year, the Oversight Board's budget will be deemed approved. Contract Reviews The Oversight Board can require review of government to government contracts that compete with the private sector "to ensure such proposed contracts promote market competition" Sense of Congress: Territorial government should be a "facilitator and not a competitor to private enterprise' If a "contract, rule, regulation, or executive order" fails to comply with Oversight Board policies, the Oversight Board can prevent "execution and enforcement of the contract, rule, executive order, or regulation." The Oversight Board will be able to rescind any law enacted between May 4, 2016 and the day all members and the Chair of the Oversight Board are appointed.They can't rescind laws that comply with a court order, implement a Federal Government program, implement laws that match Oversight Board policies, or maintain Federally funded mass transportation assets. The Oversight Board is allowed to make recommendations to change how pensions are paid to government employees and to transfer government services and entities to the private sector The Board will have the authority to cut budgets for services, institute hiring freezes, and cut off agencies from making financial transactions. Approval of debt restructuring plans Will need the approval of 5/7 Oversight Board members As long as the Oversight Board is in operation, the territorial government can't make any transactions related to it's debt. Termination of Oversight Board The territory needs to balance its budget for 4 consecutive years and the Oversight Board must certify that the banks are willing to lend to the territorial government No Full Faith & Credit of the United States The territories' debt is not backed by and will not be paid by the United States. Title III: Adjustments of Debts Allows Puerto Rico to have some ability under Chapter 11 (the bankruptcy chapter) to restructure it's debt. Banks ("creditors") that don't consent to a payment moritorium will not be bound by it. Title IV: Miscellaneous Minimum Wage Allows the Governor of Puerto Rico to [lower the minimum wage to $4.25/hr for new employees under age 25 until the Oversight Board is terminated, not more than four years. Lawsuit Freeze Lawsuits against Puerto Rico for repayment are prohibited from the day of enactment of this law until February 15, 2017 or six months after the Oversight Board is created. Title V: Puerto Rico Infrastructure Revitalization Revitalization Coordinator There will be a Revitalization Coordinator under the command of the Oversight Board, who will be appointed by the Governor from a list of three names selected by the Oversight Board. The Revitalization Coordinator must have experience in the planning, predevelopment, financing, development, operations, engineering, or market participation of infrastructure projects who isn't currently contracting with the government of Puerto Rico and was not a former government employee after 2012. The Revitalization Coordinator will be paid no more than the Executive Director. Project Assessments Will include how the project contributes "to transitioning to privatize generation capacities in Puerto Rico" Expedited Permits Relevant agencies of Puerto Rico's government need to create an expedited permitting process for the infrastructure projects declared "critical" by the Revitalization Coordinator. The expedited permitting processes will be operated as if the Governor had declared an emergency under Puerto Rican law. "Any transactions, processes, projects, works, or programs essential to the completion of a Critical Project shall continue to be processed and completed under such Expedited Permitting Process regardless of the termination of the Oversight Board" If a project is determined by "the Planning Board" to likely affect the implementation of existing Puerto Rican land use plans or an approved Integrated Resource Plan, the project will be "deemed ineligible" for Critical Project designation. The Oversight Board can waive any law that would "adversely impact the Expedited Permitting Process Limited Access to Courts Lawsuits against a "critical project" must be brought within 30 days of the decision the lawsuit would challenge. Vote June 9, 2016: Passed the House of Representatives 297-127 Sound Clip Sources TV Episode: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Puerto Rico (HBO), April 17 2016. TV Episode: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories (HBO), March 8, 2015. Hearing: H.R. 5278 Full Committee Markup, House Committee on Natural Resources, May 25, 2016. Hearing: H.R. 5278 Full Committee Markup, House Committee on Natural Resources, May 24, 2016. Hearing: Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis and Its Impact on the Bond Markets, House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, February 25, 2016. Hearing: Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Problems: Examining the Source and Exploring the Solution, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, December 1, 2015. Hearing: The Broken State of Puerto Rico, Senate Judiciary Committee, December 1, 2015. Additional Reading Article: Democrats Could Slow Passage of Puerto Rico Rescue Bill By Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press, ABC News, June 21, 2016. Article: Hedge Funds Sue Puerto Rico in N.Y. Over Fiscal Crisis Law By Erik Larson, Bloomberg, June 21, 2016. Article: Supreme Court Says No to Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy Law By Rachel Greszler, The Daily Signal, June 13, 2016. Article: Supreme Court rules Puerto Rico can't restructure debt By Lydia Wheeler, The Hill, June 13, 2016. Article: Congress’ Proposal to Restrict Legal Proceedings in Puerto Rico Debt Crisis Could Trigger Chaos By Rachel Greszler and Salim Furth, The Daily Signal, June 8, 2016. Article: Bernie Sanders leads liberals’ fight against Puerto Rico rescue bill By Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post, May 23, 2016. Articles: News about Tea Party Movement, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times, The New York Times, Last Updated May 23, 2016. Article: The Vultures’ Vultures: How A New Hedge-Fund Strategy Is Corrupting Washington By Ryan Grim and Paul Blumenthal, The Huffington Post, May 13, 2016. Articles: News about Mutual Funds and E.T.F.'s, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times, The New York Times, Last Updated May 7, 2016. Article: Mystery: Strom Thurmond, Puerto Rico and bankruptcy protection By Jon Greenberg, Politifact, April 27, 2016. Article: Puerto Rico woos US investors with huge tax breaks as locals fund debt crisis By Rupert Neate, The Guardian, February 14, 2016. Article: The Price Of Inequality For Puerto Rico By Maria Levis, Health Affairs Blog, December 29, 2015. Article: Inside the Billion-Dollar Battle for Puerto Rico’s Future By Jonathan Mahler and Nicholas Confessore, The New York Times, December 19, 2015. Article: Is this 1917 law suffocating Puerto Rico’s economy? By Chris Bury, PBS, August 13, 2015. Article: For Puerto Rico, There is a Better Way A Second Look at the Commonwealth’s Finances and Options Going Forward, By Jose Fajgenbaum, Jorge Guzman, and Claudio Loser, Centennial Group International, July 2015. Article: Here Are the Winners and Losers of Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis By Michelle Kaske, Bloomberg, May 19, 2015. Article: Puerto Rico Fighting to Keep Its Tax Breaks for Businesses By Larry Rohter, The New York Times, May 10, 1993. Additional Information Documentary: THE LAST COLONY: A Close Look At Puerto Rico's Unique Relationship With The United States Website: House Natural Resources Committee Puerto Rico Legislation, May 25, 2016. OpenSecrets: Career Profile for Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina's 5th disctrict Website: Summary of Puerto Rico Tax Incentives OpenSecrets: Career Profile for Rep. Sean P Duffy of Wisconsin's 7th District OpenSecrets: Lobbyists lobbying on H.R.4900: PROMESA House Natural Resources Section by Section Summary of H.R. 5278 Foraker Act, April 12, 1900, Establishing the initial government structure of Puerto Rico. Jones Act of 1917, provided Puerto Ricans with American citizenship and established maritime laws that Puerto Rico would be ruled by, among other things. Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, February 6, 1952. Reports Puerto Rico’s Political Status and the 2012 Plebiscite: Background and Key Questions By R. Sam Garrett, June 25, 2013. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is finished and will be eligible for a vote in Congress in February 2016. In December, the Democrats held a hearing on the Investment chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this episode, highlights from that hearing and a summary of the provisions in one of the TPP's most important chapters. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Full Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Office of the US Trade Representative, November 5, 2015. Hearing Highlighted in this Episode TPP Issue Analysis - Investment Chapter, House Ways and Means Committee (Democrats), December 2, 2015. Watch on YouTube Witnesses Matt Porterfield Deputy Director and Adjunct Professor of law at the Harrison Institute for Public Law, Georgetown University Law Center Served on the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP) Subcommittee on Investment during the Obama Administration Ted Posner Parter at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, an international corporate law firm with 9 offices in the United States and 11 offices outside the country (see News and Announcements for list of clients) Served in the Office of the US Trade Representatives and on the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration Served on the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP) Subcommittee on Investment during the Obama Administration Michael Smart Vice President of Rock Creek Global Advisors, LLC Director for International Trade and Investment on the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration Was a lawyer in the ISDS system as an Associate at Sidley Austin during the George W. Bush administration's early years Was on the Democratic staff of the US Senate Committee on Finance during the early Obama administration years. Former staffer to former Rep. Earl Pomeroy for over nine years. Thea Lee Deputy Chief of Staff, AFL-CIO, which represents 12.5 million American workers. Vice Chairwoman of the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP) Subcommittee on Investment during the Obama Administration Investment Chapter Highlights Article 9.4: Countries can't treat companies from other countries any differently than they treat companies from their own Article 9.6: Countries must provide police protection to foreign companies Article 9.6: Removal of subsidies does not count as a violation of the treaty, even if the company is financially harmed Article 9.7: Countries can nationalize their assets if they pay the companies with interest Article 9.9: Countries can not require companies to use domestic goods or to buy products from within the country ("Buy American") Section B: Conflicts between multinational companies and TPP countries will be settled through the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system Article 9.20: There is a statute of limitations of three years, six months from when the company should have known a "breach" occurred Article 9.21: The three judges will be selected by the company and the government involved (one each) and the third one either agreed upon or appointed by the Secretary General of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Article 9.22: The tribunal can award attorney's fees to the case winner Article 9.22: The burden of proof lies with the company making the claim Article 9.23: ISDS tribunal documents will be available to the public Article 9.28: Puts limits on the awards Sound Clip Sources YouTube Video: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Tobacco, February 15, 2015. Additional Reading Article: White House Releases Text of Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal by Vicki Needham, The Hill, November 5, 2015. Article: For Pickens, Wind Claim May Be Last Power Play by Alexandra Stevenson, New York Times, October 15, 2015. Article: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Accord Explained by Kevin Granville, New York Times, October 5, 2015. Op-Ed: Ron Kind: Why I'm Fighting for a Trade Deal by Rep. Ron Kind, LaCrosse Tribune, April 13, 2015 Article: Bilcon to Sue Canada for $300 Million After Winning NAFTA Ruling on Quarry, The Canadian Press, March 20, 2015. Report: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress by Ian Fergusson, Mark McMinimy, and Brock Williams, Congressional Research Service, March 20, 2015. Report: Reform of Investor-State Dispute Settlement: In Search of a Roadmap, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, June 26, 2013. Article: Michael Froman and the Revolving Door by Felix Salon, Reuters, December 11, 2009. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
In 2012, Congress created a new government agency called FirstNet and tasked it with building a high-speed wireless network that would allow all first responders in the United States to communicate with each other daily and in times of emergencies. In July, FirstNet awarded AT&T with a 25 year contract to do the actual work. In this episode, hear highlights from a recent hearing about this new network as we examine the wisdom of contracting such an important part of our public safety infrastructure to the private sector. Please visit to nominate your favorite Congressional Dish episode. Password: Patreon Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute using credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Additional Reading Article: PayPal, GoFundMe, And Patreon Banned A Bunch Of People Associated With The Alt-Right. Here's Why. by Blake Montgomery, Buzzfeed News, August 2, 2017. Article: U.S. Virgin Islands becomes first territory to 'opt-in' to FirstNet by Donny Jackson, Urgent Communications, August 1, 2017. Article: New Mexico becomes eighth state to 'opt in' to FirstNet by Donny Jackson, Urgent Communications, August 1, 2017. Article: FirstNet Becoming a Reality as the Number of States Opting in Grows to Seven by Adam Stone, GovTech, July 27, 2017. Interview: Executive Spotlight: Interview with Mike Leff, VP for Strategy and Operations for AT&T Global Public Sector by Andy Reed, Executive Biz, July 27, 2017. Article: AT&T in Early Talks With U.S. Officials for Time Warner Approval by David McLaughlin, Gerry Smith and Scott Moritz, Bloomberg, July 24, 2017. Article: FirstNet Gets its Teeth: Implications for Turf, Tech, and Tower Vendors by Daniel Vitulich, Wireless Week, July 21, 2017. Article: National Cell Network For First Responders Could Mean Better Coverage For Vermonters by Amy Kolb Noyes, VPR, July 14, 2017. Article: Some may be kept in the dark on future of public safety telecom by Dave Gram, VTDigger, July 9, 2017. Article: States Deserve A Complete Picture In Evaluating FirstNet/AT&T Coverage Plans by Al Catalano, Keller and Heckman LLP, Lexology, June 29, 2017. Article: Leidos and AT&T to Implement Software Defined Networking for the Defense Information Systems Agency by Leidos, PR Newswire, June 26, 2017. Article: State, Territory Plans and Next Step in FirstNet Build-Out Arrive Ahead of Schedule by Theo Douglas, GovTech, June 19, 2017. Report: FirstNet Has Made Progress Establishing the Network, but Should Address Stakeholder Concerns and Workforce Planning, U.S. Government Accountability Office, June 2017. Article: AT&T and Maxwell Air Force Base Pilot IoT Connected "Smart Base", AT&T Newsroom, April 4, 2017. Article: FirstNet Taps Telecom Giant AT&T for First Responder Network Buildout by News Staff, GovTech, March 30, 2017. Article: Incident Management Teams and FirstNet: A Perspective on the Future by Lesia Dickson, GovTech, January 26, 2017. Article: AT&T Powers NASA's Deep Space Network, AT&T Newsroom, December 14, 2016. Article: Wilbur Ross: From 'king of bankruptcy' to face of American business by Paul Davidson, USA Today, November 30, 2016. Article: AT&T and NASA Collaborate on Drone Traffic Management System, AT&T Newsroom, November 10, 2016. Article: AT&T Agrees to Buy Time Warner for $85.4 Billion by Michael J. de la Merced, The New York Times, October 22, 2016. Article: FirstNet Makes Progress, But Cost and Quality Concerns Remain by Colin Wood, GovTech, May 18, 2016. Website: AT&T's History of Invention and Breakups, The New York Times, February 13, 2016. Article: AT&T Completes Acquisition of DIRECTV, AT&T Newsroom, July 24, 2015. Article: FirstNet: Is Opting Out an Option? by Adam Stone, GovTech, November 17, 2014. Article: FirstNet Hires Friends, Skirts Competitive Bidding by Greg Gordon, McClatchy News Service, GovTech, September 26, 2014. Article: Millions in federal emergency communications funding lost, diverted by Greg Gordon, McClatchy DC Bureau, July 14, 2014. Article: How AT&T got busted up and pieced back together by Jose Pagliery, CNN, May 20, 2014. Article: FirstNet Explained by Tod Newcombie, GovTech, April 17, 2014. Article: FirstNet: Anwsers to Key Questions by David Raths, GovTech, October 10, 2012. Article: FirstNet Board Filled by Public Safety Officials, Telecom Execs by Sarah Rich, GovTech, August 20, 2012. Article: Communications Giant: The Deal; With Cable Deal, AT&T Makes Move to Regain Empire by Seth Schiesel, The New York Times, June 25, 1998. Article: Communications Bill Signed, And the Battles Begin Anew by Edmund Andrews, The New York Times, February 9, 1996. Article: Company News; AT&T Completes Deal To Buy NcCaw Cellular by Edmund Andrews, The New York Times, September 20, 1994. Article: AT&T Buying Computer Maker In Stock Deal Worth $7.4 Billion by Eben Shapiro, The New York Times, May 7, 1991. Article: U.S. Settles Phone Suit, Drops I.B.M. Case; AT&T to Split Up, Transforming Industry by Ernest Holsendolph, The New York Times, January 9, 1982. Article: No. 1 U.S. Utility Is Investor Favorite by Gene Smith, The New York Times, November 21, 1974. References Website: FirstNet FirstNet Board Members Website: National Telecommunications & Information Administration Offices GovTrack: H.R. 3630 (112th): Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 House Vote Senate Vote Document: FirstNet Partnership Factsheet Infoplease: Top 50 Cities in the U.S. by Population and Rank YouTube: Patreon CEO on Content Policy, Lauren Southern, and IGD YouTube: Lauren Southern: Patreon Banned My Account?? Visual References Image Source Image Source Image Source Sound Clip Sources Hearing: National Public Safety Network; Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Communications; July 20, 2017. Witnesses: Curtis Brown: Virginia Deputy Secretary of Public Safety & Homeland Security Dr. Damon Darsey: University of Mississippi Medical Center Professor Mark Goldstein: GAO Physical Infrastructure Issues Director Chris Sambar: AT&T FirstNet, Senior Vice President Michael Poth: FirstNet CEO Timestamps & Transcripts 1:10 Sen. Roger Wicker (MS): In 2012 Congress created the First Responder Network Authority to lead the development of a nationwide interoperable public-safety broadband network in the United States. Following the communication’s failures that plagued recovery efforts during 9/11 and other national emergencies, including Hurricane Katrina, there was and still is a clear need for a reliable communications network to support the essential work of our public-safety officials. Such a network would improve coordination among first responders across multiple jurisdictions and enhance the ability of first responders to provide lifesaving emergency services quickly. 6:37 Sen. Brian Schatz (HI): With FirstNet, firefighters will be able to download the blueprint of a burning building before they enter; a police officer arriving at a scene can run a background check or get pictures of a suspect by accessing a federal law enforcement database; most importantly, emergency personnel will not be competing with commercial users for bandwidth. They will have priority on this network, which will be built and hardened to public-safety specifications. It will have rugged eyes and competitive devices and specify public-safety applications. 9:40 Curtis Brown: Last week the governor was proud to announce that Virginia was the first state in the nation to opt in to FirstNet. Virginia opted in to provide current AT&T public-safety subscribers with the benefit of priority services now at no cost to the Commonwealth, as well as the green light to build out of Virginia’s portion of the national public-safety broadband network. We believe that decision to opt in will promote competition within the public-safety communications marketplace, that will reduce costs and drive innovation across all carriers. Opting out was _____(00:31-verily) considered, but the unknown cost and risk associated with deploying and operating a network was not feasible. 19:45 Mark Goldstein: In March 2017 FirstNet awarded a 25-year contract to AT&T to build, operate, and maintain the network. FirstNet’s oversight of AT&T’s performance is very important, given the scope of the network and the duration of the contract. Among GAO’s findings in the report are the following: first, FirstNet has conducted key efforts to establish the network, namely releasing the requests for proposal for the network and awarding the network contract to AT&T. As the contractor, AT&T will be responsible for the overall design, development, production, operation, and evolution of the network. 24:35 Chris Sambar: The AT&T team that I lead is dedicated exclusively to FirstNet. I expect this group to grow to several-hundred employees by this year’s end as we hire people across the country with a broad range of skill sets to help us ramp up our network build out. Overall, AT&T expects to spend $40 billion over the lifetime of this contract and to build an operating unique, nationwide, interoperable, IP-based, high-speed mobile network, encrypted at its core, that will provide first responders priority, primary users with preemption and all other users during times of emergency and network congestion. The First Responder Network will be connected to and leverage off AT&T’s world-class telecommunications platform, valued at nearly $180 billion, including a wireless network that reaches 99.6% of the U.S. population. In addition, AT&T will support first responders 24 by 7 by 365 with a dedicated security-operation center and help desk. We will provide first responders with a highly secure application ecosystem as well as a highly competitive flexible pricing on equipment and services that they select for their unique needs. One of the most important resources that AT&T brings to bear on the new First Responder Network is our best-in-class national disaster-recovery team. We have spent more than a 130,000 working hours on field exercises and disaster-recovery deployments over the last two decades. This team combines network infrastructure, support trailers, recovery engineering-software applications, and boots on the ground filled by full-time and volunteer AT&T disaster-response team members. In order to support the First Responder Network, AT&T will increase its disaster-recovery fleet by adding 72 new custom-designed vehicles, just for the FirstNet mission. 26:55 Chris Sambar: Possibilities include near real-time information on traffic conditions, which can help determine the best route to an emergency for a first responder; wearable sensors and cameras for police and firefighters to help give them better situational awareness and camera-equipped drones and robots that will be able to deliver real-time imagery. Our FirstNet efforts are expected to create 10,000 U.S. jobs over the next two years as well as significant public-private infrastructure investment. 30:25 Michael Poth: We’ve created and delivered state plans on June 19 to 50 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia three months ahead of schedule, and as mentioned, the five governors from five great states have already opted in. None of this could be possible, though, without the public-private framework that Congress established for the FirstNet network, by leveraging private-sector resources, infrastructure, cost savings, public-private partner synergies to deploy, operate, and maintain the system. FirstNet can be now deployed quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively. 36:10 Sen. Roger Wicker (MS): Dr. Darsey mentioned that the Mississsippi wireless communications commission has expressed concerns about FirstNet’s commitment to hardening the network. You mentioned this in your testimony, the need for FirstNet infrastructure to be hardened. Can you discuss why that’s important, and is it more important in the rural areas, and also, in your experience, how do broadband needs differ between urban and rural communities with respect to providing emergency medical services? Dr. Damon Darsey: Sure. Thanks for the question. I’ll give you an example. Couple years ago we had a tornado, as you well remember, that took out a hospital in the northeast part of our state. And the medical center has got a pretty robust program to respond to that, and we did. The challenge in that was it took out a couple of commercial towers, but it did not, after a fairly close hit, take out one of our hardened public-safety communication towers. What that did for us is we lost all ability to communicate data out of that area, which was vital in moving and evacuating the hospital, nursing home, and recovering the people that were there. That’s the piece that is the concern that I think we share, all of us here, of how do we make that as hardened as possible. In terms of rural and urban, from a medical perspective we can do a lot more, as our team is showing in Mississippi and other states, if we know about the patient well before they get close to a hospital. If we can reach out and touch the stroke patient in the middle of the Mississippi Delta, we can dramatically increase their chances of survival and meaningful use after arrival to the hospital. Currently, we’re doing that over radio, and it’s working really well, but now imagine that in the rural areas. In urban areas, it’s vital in the medical world, but here we’re five minutes from multiple hospitals. Now take that as a 45 or 50 minutes away, and what we can do with broadband data in that time is truly life saving and saving of healthcare dollars. There’s a nexus here that FirstNet can combine both of those. 41:00 Michael Poth: Numerous bids were in, and they were analyzed with a great level of detail, and through that process that the Department of Interior assisted us with as the acquisition experts, AT&T came out as the prevailing solution and prevailing company provider. Sen. Bill Nelson (FL): The question is why. Poth: Well, the value that they’re bringing with their existing infrastructure, their ability and size, their financial sustainability to be able to take on something of this nature, and their lowest-risk approach to implementing this in the shortest time was truly some of the value propositions that made them more competitive than some of the other bids that were analyzed. 42:13 Chris Sambar: The initial RFP that FirstNet released contemplated building out a public-safety broadband network using just band class 14, and we responded accordingly. But through discussions, we decided we would extend it beyond just the band class 14, which is the spectrum that was allocated for first responders in 2012. We said we would open up all of the spectrum bands within AT&T. So, essentially, what that means is the day that a state opts in, they have immediate access to AT&T’s entire network, all spectrum bands, and they will see the benefits of FirstNet on all spectrum bands, all wireless towers, from AT&T that are LTE enabled. So I think that’s a tremendous benefit that FirstNet was not expecting when they contemplated the original RFP. But when we brought that, I think they were very pleased with that, and that helped us. Sen. Bill Nelson (FL): So, you’re going to have a level playing field for all device manufacturers. Sambar: Absolutely, sir. 43:15 Sen. Bill Nelson (FL): There must have been some folks in Virginia that suggested that you opt out of the network and chart your own path. Tell me the benefits to Virginia’s first responders of the governor’s decision to opt in. Curtis Brown: Thank you, Senator. The decision to opt in was really based on looking at the benefits that comes with opt in, the immediate priority and preemption services that would come for those who are subscribers to the network. And a major thing, Senator, is to the fact that it comes at no cost to the Commonwealth. We have been disproportionately impacted by sequestration and other aspects—the governor had to close a 300-million-dollar budget deficit—and so looking at the cost it would take to build a network and sustain it, it just was not feasible. 47:45 Chris Sambar: We initially envisioned, when we launched the State Plan portal on June 19, that we would have roughly 50 user IDs and passwords per state. That would be 50 individuals who would access the portal. We immediately got feedback that states wanted more, and we are offering more. So, we have a state right now, as a matter of fact, 227 login and user IDs have been issued. So, it shouldn’t be an issue for a state if they have additional people. The only requirements we have, Senator, is that, as Mr. Poth said, that it’s an official email address, somebody in the state who works for the state— Unknown Senator: Right. Sambar: —or an authorized consultant. Either of those is fine. We just don’t want, like, a @gmail, @hotmail, someone that we don’t know who they are. Unknown Senator: Right, okay. 53:14 Michael Poth: How do the states hold us accountable? As FirstNet shifts gears from developing a proposal and making an award, for the next 25 years we are going to be in a position to work with the states, continuous and public safety in all of those states, to make sure that all of their expectations, both from the State Plans and in the future, are being met and translated. If appropriate, we back into contractual actionable items. Or if AT&T, for example, is not meeting the requirements or the expectations, FirstNet will, on behalf of public safety and those states, enforce the terms of the contract. 54:55 Michael Poth: Canada is using the same exact spectrum that we’ll be utilizing with AT&T, so there’s a lot of synergies. We’ve spent a great deal of time coordinating and comparing notes with Canada and the public-safety entities in that country as to what we’re doing so that there is the inoperability between the countries will also be realized. 1:08:50 Chris Sambar: So we have had a number of states as well as federal agencies we’ve been in communication with, and some of the states have been very direct that they’re interested us putting our LTE equipment on state-, city-, municipal-owned assets. That would give them the benefit of revenue from AT&T through a lease agreement. It would also give us a benefit of being able to build out the network faster. 1:24:20 Michael Poth: AT&T’s already been doing this, as mentioned, for years with their fleet of 700 deployables. Now with the 72 dedicated, which are much smaller units which is going to give us the ability to maybe get those into areas that are a little tougher to get to, we’re very excited about that. That is an absolute addition to the solution that we’re going to be able to bring to public safety quickly. 1:25:50 Chris Sambar: So, we will be building out band class 14 over the coming five years across a significant portion of our network. In the meantime, before band class 14 is built out, we will be using our commercial network. There are requirements in the contract with FirstNet over how quickly we need to build out band class 14, and we have to hit those milestones in order to receive the payments due to us from FirstNet. If we don’t hit those milestones, we don’t receive the payments, so we will be aggressively building out band class 14 for first responders. Again, in the meantime, they will have access to all of AT&T’s bands. So to say it simply, if you are a first responder, Senator, you will not know whether you’re on band class 14 or any other AT&T band, but you will have the exact same experience regardless of what band you are on on AT&T network. Sen. Roger Wicker (MS): Your position isn’t the service that’s provided, and the consumer and the public-safety user, to them it will be immaterial where it’s coming from. Sambar: The way I like to say— Exactly. The way I say it is this: public safety has been told for many years that the magic of FirstNet happens on band class 14, and we’ve changed that. That’s not correct anymore. The magic happens on the AT&T network period, and it doesn’t matter where you are, you’re going to have the exact same experience. So we’ve extended it far beyond the band class 14 to our entire network. Wicker: Will you build out the class 14 spectrum only where it is economically viable, or will you build it out where there is written requirement in the arrangement between you and FirstNet? Sambar: We are building band class 14 where we need the capacity in our network. So in order to provide priority and preemptive services to first responders and have enough capacity for everyone that’s on the network, including the first responders, there are places where we will need additional capacity; that’s where we’re building— Wicker: And you will determine that need. Sambar: AT&T, based on capacity triggers—obviously, we’ve been doing this for a long time—based on capacity triggers that we see in the network, we build out band class 14 as additional capacity on individual—and this is done on a tower-by-tower basis. 1:28:00 Sen. Roger Wicker (MS): Are you able to say what approximate percentage of the lower 48 landmass will be covered by band class 14 build out? Chris Sambar: Unfortunately, I am not, Senator. That’s proprietary between FirstNet and AT&T. I would say, again, it’s a significant portion, though. Wicker: Can you be more specific than “significant”? Sambar: That would be proprietary, Senator. I apologize. Wicker: And what makes it proprietary? Sambar: The specific details of the contract between FirstNet and AT&T. There’s a number of specific details that are proprietary, Senator. Wicker: That is proprietary and not available to the public— Sambar: That’s correct, Senator. Wicker: —or to the Congress. Sambar: That’s correct, Senator. 1:29:35 Sen. Roger Wicker: Then in terms of this coverage, which you said really shouldn’t matter what band it’s coming over— Chris Sambar: Mm-hmm. Wicker: —are you able to say what percentage of the lower 48 landmass will be covered in one way or the other? Sambar: One way or the other? Wicker: Yes. Apart, of course, from the deployables. Sambar: So, 99.6% of the U.S. population will be covered by AT&T’s network. 1:39:05 Chris Sambar: The vast major—as we understand it, based on our research and FirstNet’s research—the vast majority of firefighters, for example, are not issued devices for their daily use at work, especially volunteer firefighters. Greater than 70% of police officers are in the same situation: they are not provided a device. They’re using their personal devices. We are going to make available the FirstNet network to all of those first responders, regardless of whether you’re a volunteer, whether your agency provides you a device, or whether you bring your own personal device. They will have access to the FirstNet network. Once we can verify their credentials and ensure that we have the right people on the network, they will have access to all of those features and benefits, and it will come at a significantly lower price than they’re paying today for their personal or commercial service. So it’s a tremendous benefit to all first responders. 1:39:55 Sen. Roger Wicker (MS): On user fees, will they cost the same for all network users, or will they vary by regions, public-safety agencies, or states? Chris Sambar: It’s difficult to answer because there are different use cases, so it depends. If you’re a large department and you want unlimited data and you have a number of applications that you want preinstalled on the device and you have mobile-device management software, that would be one use case. There may be a rural department that wants to connect body cameras and dashboard video camera from a police department. It will depend on the use case. Wicker: So it’s use case and not regions and states. Sambar: That’s correct, sir. Wicker: That would be the variable. Sambar: That’s correct. Hearing: Public Safety Communications; House Committee Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, September 29, 2005. Witnesses: David Boyd: Homeland Security Dept SAFECOM Program Director Timothy Roemer: Member of the 9/11 Commission, Director of the Center for National Policy Art Botterell: Emergency Information Consultant Timestamps & Transcripts 30:44 David Boyd: Interoperability’s not a new issue. It was a problem in Washington, D.C. when the Air Florida flight crashed into the Potomac in 1982, in New York City when the Twin Towers were first attacked in 1993, in 1995 when the Murrah Building was destroyed in Oklahoma City, and in 1999 at Columbine. Too many public-safety personnel cannot communicate by radio, because their equipment is still incompatible, or the frequencies they are assigned to are different and they haven’t got bridging technologies available. They operate on 10 different frequency bands, and they run communication systems that are often proprietary and too often 30 or more years old. Over 90% of the nation’s public-safety wireless infrastructure is financed, owned, operated, and maintained by the more than 60,000 individual local jurisdictions—police, fire, and emergency services—that serve the public. 1:43:00 Timothy Roemer: Let me give you a couple examples of what the 9/11 Commission found as to some of these problems. We found all kinds of compelling instances of bravery and courage, people going into burning buildings and rescuing people. They might have rescued more. We might have saved more of the fire department chiefs, officers, police officers, emergency personnel, if they would have had public-radio spectrum to better communicate. At 9:59 in the morning on 9/11 four years ago, a general evacuation order was given to firefighters in the North Tower. The South Tower had collapsed. A place that held up to 25,000 people had been diminished to cement, steel, and ash. The people, then, in the North Tower, many of the chiefs in the lobby, didn’t even know that the other tower had collapsed, or else they might have been able to get more people out more quickly. We had comments from people saying such things as, we didn’t know it had collapsed. Somebody actually said, Mr. Chairman, that people watching TV had more information than we did in the lobby on 9/11 in the North Tower. People on TV in Florida or California knew more than our first responders on site in New York City. 1:45:10 Timothy Roemer: Mr. Chairman, then we had a disaster happen in the southern part of our country in New Orleans where we had other communication problems. In New Orleans, there’re three neighboring parishes were using different equipment on different frequencies. They couldn’t communicate. We had National Guard in Mississippi communicating by human courier, not by radio frequencies; and we had helicopters up in the air looking at our own citizens on the roofs of their homes in New Orleans, screaming and yelling for help, but they couldn’t talk in the helicopters with the boats in the water to try to find out who was rescued, who wasn’t, and who needed help. 1:55:45 Art Botterell: Third, we can no longer afford to rely on vendor-driven design of our emergency-communications infrastructure. Businesses are responsible for maximizing shareholder value, not for protecting the public welfare. We need independent sources of information and planning for our future emergency infrastructure lest we continue to get updated versions of the same old thing. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Chip Lake is a member of the Congressional Dish community and the former Chief of Staff to retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia's 3rd district. In this enlightening episode, Chip provides valuable insight on how Congressional offices operate, which committees are the most powerful, what candidates buy with their "campaign contributions", and much more. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Guest: Chip Lake Chip Lake is a member of the Congressional Dish community and a former Chief of Staff to retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia's 3rd district. Chip also works as a consultant at Glendale Strategies and does campaign marketing work for Twin Oaks Connect. Chip Lake is also the host of the Red Zone Sports Podcast Subscribe in iTunes Listen on Blog Talk Radio Contact Chip Twitter: @LakeChip Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD129: The Impeachment of John Koskinen Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
In the third and final episode in our Trans-Pacific Partnership series, we take a look at the TPP Environment Chapter; would the treaty actually improve enforcement of environmental laws around the world?   Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Full Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Office of the US Trade Representative, November 5, 2015. Hearing Highlighted in this Episode TPP Issue Analysis - Environment Chapter, House Ways and Means Committee (Democrats), November 17, 2015. Watch on YouTube Witnesses Dr. Joshua Meltzer Senior Fellow in Global Economy and Development, Brookings Institution Digital Task Force Member at the Atlantic Council June 2015 – January 2016 (8 months) Washington D.C. Metro Area "Provided advice on the digital trade issues between the U.S. and the EU" Subject Matter Expert for the E15 Initiative, World Trade Organization "Expert appointment to the E15 working group developing an agenda for the WTO on climate change issues Former trade negotiator with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Former diplomat to the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C., specializing in trade and climate change issues. Alexander von Bismarck Executive Director, Environmental Investigation Agency "An international campaigning organization committed to investigating and exposing environmental crime" Served in United Nations and World Bank Ilana Soloman Responsible Trade Program Director, Sierra Club Environment Chapter Highlights Article 20.6: Governments "shall cooperate to address matters" related to pollution from ships Article 20.12: "Cooperation" includes "dialogues, workshops, seminars, conferences.. technical assistance, the sharing of best practices on policies and procedures, and the exchange of experts." Cooperative activities "are subject to the availability of funds" and the participating governments "shall decide, on a case-by-case basis, the funding of cooperative activities." Article 20.7: Each government "shall" create sanctions for violations of environmental law that "may include" a right to bring action against the violator for damages or injunctive relief. Article 20.10: "Corporate Social Responsibility": Each government "should encourage" companies to "adopt voluntarily" standards to protect the environment. The voluntary standards "should be designed in a manner that maximises their environmental benefits and avoids the creation of unnecessary barriers to trade." Article 20.13: Each government "shall promote and encourage the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity" The governments "shall cooperate" to address "matters of mutual interest"; 'cooperation' means "exchanging information". Article 20.15: "Transition to a Low Emissions and Resilient Economy" Says the governments recognize that the transition requires collective action Governments "shall cooperate to address matters of joint or common interest" Article 20.16: Each government "shall seek to operate a fisheries management system that regulates marine wild capture fishing and that is designed to prevent overfishing and overcapacity..." Each government "shall promote the long-term conservation of sharks, marine turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals, through the implementation and effective enforcement of conservation and management measures." "No Party shall grant or maintain any of the following subsidies..." that negatively affect fish stocks. Gives the governments three years to change their laws to comply. Article 20.17: The governments "commit to promote conservation and to combat the illegal take of, and illegal trade in, wild fauna and flora. The parties "shall exchange information", "undertake joint activities" and "endeavor to implement... resolutions." Such measures "shall include sanctions, penalties... that can act as a deterrent to such trade." "Each Party retains the right to make decisions regarding the allocation of administrative, investigatory, and enforcement resources." Article 20.23: Environmental issues are eligible for the Investor State Dispute Settlement tribunals Additional Reading Article: TransCanada is suing the U.S. over rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. The U.S. Might Lose. by Todd Tucker, Washington Post, January 8, 2016. Article: White House Releases Text of Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal by Vicki Needham, The Hill, November 5, 2015. Article: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Accord Explained by Kevin Granville, New York Times, October 5, 2015. Report: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress by Ian Fergusson, Mark McMinimy, and Brock Williams, Congressional Research Service, March 20, 2015. Article: Geo-engineering: Climate fixes could harm billions by David Shukman, BBC News, November 26, 2014. Article: Michael Froman and the Revolving Door by Felix Salon, Reuters, December 11, 2009. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Need drugs? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an international treaty that Congress needs to approve. In this episode, find out how the TPP would affect your access to medicine. Would this treaty provide you access to life-saving drugs or would it provide the pharmaceutical industry excessive profits?   Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Full Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Office of the US Trade Representative, November 5, 2015. Congress did not stand when President Obama told them to pass the TPP Hearing Highlighted in this Episode TPP Issue Analysis - Access to Medicines, House Ways and Means Committee (Democrats), December 8, 2015. Watch on YouTube Witnesses Stephen Ezell VP of Global Innovation Policy, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation Previously worked at the NASDAQ stock market, where he created the NASDAQ Market Intelligence Desk, which keeps companies up to date on their stock prices, and the NASDAQ Corporate Services Network Founder of Brivo Systems, a high-tech services firm, and Lynx Capital, an investment firm. Joseph Damond Senior VP for International Affairs, Biotechnology Industry Organization Former Vice President of International Government Relations at Pfizer Former Deputy Vice President of International Affairs for PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) Rohit Malpani Director of Policy and Analysis, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) Former Special Advisor to Oxfam America Former Human Rights Advisor for the World Health Organization Former laywer at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Peter Maybarduk Director, Public Citizen Global Access to Medicines Program Intellectual Property Chapter Highlights Article 18.7: Forces all TPP countries to "ratify or accede to" six international treaties if they haven't done so already Article 18.26: Trademark protections will be valid for 10 years Article 18.37: Patents will be available for "new uses of a known product, new methods of using a known product, and new processes of using a known product." Exclusions: Countries can individually exclude surgical methods for the treatment of animals or humans, plants, animals, and biological processes for producing plants and animals from patentability Article 18.52: Patents for biologics will be for a minimum of five years Article 18.63: Copyright terms for performances or phonograms will be the life of the author plus 70 years. If the producer is a company, the copyright protecton will last for 70 years. Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Exploring the Implementation and Future of the Veterans Choice Program, Senate Committee on Veteran's Affairs, May 12, 2015. YouTube: Literal Drug Commercial by Pineapple-Shaped Lamps Additional Reading Article: White House Releases Text of Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal by Vicki Needham, The Hill, November 5, 2015. Article: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Accord Explained by Kevin Granville, New York Times, October 5, 2015. Article: VA to Outsource Care for 180,000 Vets With Hepatitis C by Dennis Wagner of the Arizona Republic (re-posted on USA Today), June 21, 2015. Report: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress by Ian Fergusson, Mark McMinimy, and Brock Williams, Congressional Research Service, March 20, 2015. Article: 24 Highest-paid hosts in the news business: Top Paid News Anchors by Amarendra Bhushan, CEO World Magazine, August 27, 2014. Article: Michael Froman and the Revolving Door by Felix Salon, Reuters, December 11, 2009. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Syria: We're told we're at war to fight ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State but in a Congressional hearing that took place the week before the Paris attacks, State Department officials were talking about a different goal. In this episode, highlights from that House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. What are we really doing in Syria? Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! The Syria War For context and background, please listen to Congressional Dish episode CD041: Why Attack Syria?, from August 2013. Audio Sources Hearing: U.S. Policy and Russian Involvement in Syria, House Foreign Affairs Committee, November 4, 2015. Video: Paris Attacks: 'Terrorists mentioned Syria and Iraq during Bataclan negotiations' YouTube: Obama Says Assad must to to end Syria war, PressTV News Video, November 19, 2015. YouTube: Obama No boots on the ground in Syria by USLAWnationalcoord YouTube: Leaked Call Between Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt Planning Ukrainian Government, late January 2014 Additional Information Syria Map: U.S. Department of Energy Report, June 24, 2015. Map: Syria Selected Energy Infrastructure, U.S. Department of Energy, updated June 24, 2015. Article: This map show where ISIS overlaps with major oil refineries by Elena Holodny, Business Insider, September 29, 2015. Map: ISIS' footprint across Iraq and Syria featuring oil infrastructure, Business Insider, September 29, 2015 Article: Your Official Mission Creep Timeline of the U.S. War in Syria by Micah Zenko, The Foreign Policy Group, October 19, 2015. Paris Attacks Article: France more active than rest of the west in tackling Syria by Ian Black, The Guardian, November 14, 2015. Article: What is France Doing in Syria? by David Graham, The Atlantic, November 15, 2015. ISIS Message about Paris Attacks: "Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the Islamic State, and that the smell of death will never leave their noses as long as they lead the convoy of the Crusader campaign, and dare to curse our Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and are proud of fighting Islam in France and striking the Muslims in the land of the Caliphate with their planes, which did not help them at all in the streets of Paris and its rotten alleys" Article: France Strikes ISIS Targets in Syria in Retaliation for Attacks by Alissa Rubin and Anne Barnard, November 15, 2015. Anne Patterson Biography Wikipedia: Anne W. Patterson Article: Ambassador Anne Patterson, the Controversial Face of America's Egypt Policy by Josh Rogin and Eli Lake, The Daily Beast, July 10, 2013. Article: U.S. Pilots Fight Coca in Columbia by Juan Forero, New York Times, August 17, 2001. Victoria Nuland Biography Wikipedia: Victoria Nuland Essay: Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, Foreign Affairs Magazine (published by The Council on Foreign Relations), July/August 1996 Issue Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
In July, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would allow expiring anthrax vaccines to be given to civilian emergency responders within the United States. The question: Is that vaccine safe? In this episode, we look at the history of the anthrax vaccine and the results of the investigation into the only anthrax attack on the United States: The anthrax laced letters which were mailed to members of the mainstream media and Congress in September and October 2001. Last, an update on the current security of the United States' anthrax supplies. Warning: This episode contains disturbing information. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! The Bill H.R. 1300: First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act Summary: Republican Policy Committee Legislative Digest for Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Creates a program for distributing anthrax vaccines that will soon expire to emergency responders who volunteer to accept them. Creates a program for tracking the vaccines. Creates a two year pilot program, in at least two states, for distributing the vaccines. Passed the House of Representatives 424-0 Sponsored by Rep. Peter King of New York 6 Pages Additional Reading Anthrax Vaccine Website: What is BioThrax (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed), Emergent BioSolutions. Article: Experimental Drugs Linked to Gulf War Veteran's Ills by Warren Leary, New York Times, May 7, 1994. Article: The Anthrax Vaccine Scandal by Laura Rozen, Salon, October 14, 2001. Report: Biological Warfare and Anthrax Vaccine by Barbara Loe Fisher, National Vaccine Information Center, December 2001. Article: Gulf War Vaccine Still a Problem, Leading Scientist Tells Inquiry by Michael Smith, The Telegraph, August 12, 2004. FDA Document: The safety and efficacy of anthrax vaccine have not been estabilished, and the preponderance of the world's literature show the vaccine is unsafe, and a contributor to Gulf War Syndrome as acknowledged in the vaccine's package insert by Meryl Nass MD, December 29, 2004. Report: Anthrax Vaccine and Public Health Policy by Martin Meyer Weiss, MD, Peter D. Weiss, MD, and Joseph B. Weiss, MD, American Journal of Public Health, November 2007. Article: Gulf War Illness: Thousands Still Report Symptoms by Diana Washington Valdez, El Paso Times (republished on, April 21, 2014. Report: The Project BioShield Act: Issues for the 113th Congress by Frank Gottron, Congressional Research Service, June 18, 2014. Report: Emergent BioSolutions 2014 Annual Report Website: Emergent BioSolutions Lobbying, Website: Emergent BioSolutions Lobbyists, 2001 Anthrax Attacks Article: U.S. Germ Warfare Research Pushes Treaty Limits by Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, and William J. Broad, New York Times, September 4, 2001. Article: The Anthrax War by the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal and R. James Woolsey (reprinted by Free Republic), October 17, 2001. Article: Public Enemy No. 2 by Richard Cohen, Washington Post, October 18, 2001. Article: Who Made the Anthrax? by Richard Butler, New York Times, October 18, 2001. Article: Anthrax Bacteria Likely to be US Military Strain by Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist, October 24, 2001. Article: F.B.I. Presents Anthrax Case, Saying Scientist Acted Alone by Scott Shane and Eric Lichtblau, New York Times, August 6, 2008. Article: Scientist Officially Exonerated in Anthrax Attacks by Eric Lichtblau, New York Times, August 8, 2008. Department of Justice Report: Amerithrax Investigative Summary, U.S. Department of Justice, February 19, 2010. Press Release: Justice Department and FBI Announce Formal Conclusion of Investigation into 2001 Anthrax Attacks, U.S. Department of Justice, February 19, 2010. F.B.I. Document Directory: Amerithrax or Anthrax Investigation Article: Timeline: How the Anthrax Terror Unfolded, NPR, February 15, 2011. Article: Anthrax Redux: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy? by Noah Shachtman, Wired, March 24, 2011. Article: The Anthrax Scare: Not a Germ of Truth by Nicholaus Mills, The Guardian, September 15, 2011. Article: New Evidence Adds Doubt to FBI's Case Against Anthrax Suspect by Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica, Greg Gordon of McClatchy, Jim Gilmore and Mike Wiser of PBS Frontline, October 10, 2011. Article: Did Bruce Ivins Hide Attack Anthrax From the FBI? by Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica, Greg Gordon of McClatchy, Jim Gilmore and Mike Wiser of PBS Frontline, October 10, 2011. GAO Report: Agency Approaches to Validation and Statistical Analyses Could be Improved, Government Accountability Office, December 2014. Article: FBI's 2001 Anthrax Attack Probe Was Seriously Flawed by Rebecca Trager, Scientific American, December 29, 2014. Article: Anthrax Fast Facts, CNN, May 23, 2015. The Patriot Act Article: Anti-Terrorism Bill Hits Snag on the Hill by John Lancaster, The Washington Post, October 3, 2001. Article: Congress Had No Time to Read the USA Patriot Act by Paul Blumenthal, Sunlight Foundation, March 2, 2009. Live Anthrax Shipments Article: Our Bad: Pentagon Mails Live Anthrax in Error by Paul Shinkman, US News & World Report, May 27, 2015. Article: Pentagon Now Says Army Mistakenly Sent Live Anthrax to All 50 States by Richard Sisk,, September 1, 2015. Audio/Video Sources Press Conference: Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program, Department of Defense, (broadcast on C-SPAN), June 28, 2002. Press Conference with Dr. Steven Hatfill: Anthrax Investigation, C-SPAN, August 25, 2002. United Nations Security Council Meeting: Iraqi Weapons Compliance Debate, United Nations Security Council (broadcast on C-SPAN), February 5, 2003. Hearing: Federal Bureau of Investigation Oversight, House Judiciary Committee (broadcast on C-SPAN), September 16, 2008. Hearing: Federal Bureau of Investigation Oversight, Senate Judiciary Committee (broadcast on C-SPAN), September 17, 2008. YouTube: Ron Paul Patriot Act NOBODY READ IT!, uploaded July 7, 2009. Press Conference: Report on 2001 Anthrax Letters, National Academy of Sciences (broadcast on C-SPAN), February 15, 2011. Television Episode: The Anthrax Files by PBS Frontline, October 11, 2011. Hearing: Defense Department Anthrax Shipments, House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (broadcast on C-SPAN), July 28, 2015. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)
The American Health Care Act, the Republican plan for a new health care system, passed the House of Representatives at lightning speed. In this episode, get the backstory on the reckless process used to pass the bill, learn how it changed from the original version, and find out how the Congressional Budget Office expects the bill would affect you. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute using credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD146: Repeal & Replace Bill Outline H.R. 1628: American Health Care Act of 2017 Bill Outline Title I: Energy and Commerce Subtitle A: Patient Access to Public Health Programs Section 101: Repeals the Prevention and Public Health Fund at the end of 2018 Section 103: Prohibits any Federal funding for any non-profit that performs abortions for a year Subtitle B: Medicaid Program Enhancement Section 111 : Reduces Medicaid funding Section 112: Ends the Medicaid expansion... For people under 65 years old whose income is less than 133% of the poverty line at the end of 2019 Ends the States' option to cover these people's families at the end of 2017 People in this category who have Medicaid on December 31, 2019 will be grandfathered in and will keep their insurance as long as they never go off of Medicaid for more than one month The Federal funding increase for states covering grandfathered individuals will only apply for people enrolled as of March 1, 2017 and is capped at 80% reimbursement rate Repeals the requirement that Medicaid cover “essential health benefits” as of January 1, 2020. Section 114: Prevents Medicaid for lottery winners Section 115: Gives $10 billion extra over five years to the “non-expansion States” Section 116: Forces States to verify Medicaid eligibility every six months and gives them more enforcement money Section 117: Allows States deny people Medicaid if they are not participating in "work activities" The State decides how long the person has to work for in order to get Medicaid The State can't deny Medicaid to... Pregnant women or to women who have had a baby within the last 60 days Kids under age 19 Only parents with kids under the age of 6 or a disabled child Gives the States more money for enforcement Subtitle C – Per Capita Allotment for Medical Assistance Section 121: Caps Medicaid funding on a per capita basis. States that spend too much one year will have their Medicaid cut the following year States will be allowed to get 10 year block grants instead Subtitle D: Patient Relief and Health Insurance Market Stability Section 131: Repeals the lower out-of-pocket limits for low-income people effective in 2020 Section 132: Creates a "Patient and State Stability Fund" to be administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to give money to the States until the end of 2026. Funds can be used for: Helping "high-risk individuals" buy insurance if they don't get coverage through their employer Giving money to insurance companies ("incentives") so they will lower premiums Taxpayers will pay insurance companies 75% of the claims made between $50,000 and $350,000 "Promoting access" to preventative care, including dental and vision Maternity & newborn care Mental health care and substance abuse treatment Reduction of out-of-pocket costs for people enrolled in health insurance in the State The fund is appropriated with $15 billion per year until 2020 and $10 billion per year until 2026. There will be an extra $8 billion a year put into the fund from 2018-2023 to pay for increased premiums and out-of-pocket costs of people in States that get a waiver In order to receive money from the Federal fund, States will have to match an increasing percentage, starting with 7% in 2020 increasing to 50% by 2026 An extra $15 billion "Federal Invisible Risk Sharing Program" will go directly to health insurance companies. The rules in terms of whose claims will be paid for, the percentage of their premiums that would be paid, and the dollar amount at which the government will starting covering the insurance companies' costs will be determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services Section 133: Starting in 2019, people who purchase insurance after a coverage gap of 63 days will be charged a 30% penalty for a year. The insurance companies get to keep all the extra money. Section 134: The requirements that bronze, silver, gold, platinum level plans exist and must cover certain percentages of expenses and “essential health benefits” are repealed effective January 1, 2020. Section 135: Allows insurance companies to charge older people five times more than younger people (they’re currently allowed to charge three times more) Section 136: Starting in 2018, States can apply for a waiver for the individual and small group insurance plans from the national “essential health benefits” requirements and instead allow States to determine what essential health benefits need to be covered by insurance companies. Waiver applications from States are automatically approved after 60 days Waivers will be granted if the State says that doing so would do at least one of the following: Reduce premiums Increase enrollment Stabilize the insurance market Increase the number of health plans offered. Waivers will be valid for 10 years and continuation requests will be automatically approved Starting in 2019, states can also get waivers that would allow insurers to charge different rates based on people's health status ("pre-existing conditions") if they did not have coverage for at least 63 days in lieu of the 30% surcharge. States can get this waiver as long as that state participates in the high-risk funds to help pay for individuals and insurance companies' costs. Insurance companies could limit coverage during the "enforcement period", not permanently. Section 137: Health insurers can't set rates based on gender and "Nothing in this act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions." Title I: Committee on Ways and Means Subtitle A: Repeal and Replace of Health-Related Tax Policy Section 201: Starting in 2018, the limits on the amount of advanced-paid tax credits that can be taken back from low income people will be repealed. Section 202: Allows tax credits to be used on “catastrophic-only” health insurance plans that are not listed on the exchanges and prohibits tax credits for any plan that covers abortions. Section 203: Repeals the tax credit for employers with fewer than 25 employees who want to provide health benefits to their employees starting in 2020 and prohibits tax credits for any health plan that covers abortion. Section 204: Reduces the tax penalties for failing to purchase insurance to $0 and back dates it to be effective in 2016. Section 205: Reduces the tax penalties for employers who fail to provide health benefits to their employees to $0 and back dates it to be effective in 2016. Section 206: Delays the start of a tax on insurance companies which charges a 40% excise tax on “Cadillac plans”, which charge premiums more than $10,200/year ($850/month) for individuals until 2026. The 40% is only on the extra premiums charges above the cap. Section 207: Starting in 2017, over-the-counter drugs can be purchased with Health Savings Accounts (HSA). Section 208: Starting in 2017, taxes on money from health savings accounts that is not used for medical expenses will be cut in half (from 20% to 10%) Section 209: Starting in 2017, the $2,500 limit on the amount that can be taken out of an employee’s paycheck for employer health plans that use “flexible savings accounts” is repealed. Section 210: Starting in 2017, repeals a 2.3% tax, paid by manufacturers or importer, on sales of medical devices that are not generally purchased by the general public at retail stores. Section 211: Beginning in 2017, businesses who provide retiree prescription drug benefits that are at least as valuable as Medicare Part D can get a federal drug subsidy. This provision will allow those businesses to deduct the entire cost of providing that coverage even though a portion of the drug coverage is offset by the subsidy they receive. Section 212: People can get a tax deduction for medical care that is not paid for by insurance if those expenses exceed 10% of their gross income; this provision reduces that to 5.8 % starting in 2017. Section 213: No changes are actually made because the text of the new paragraphs are exactly the same as current law. Section 214: Starting in 2020, this bill creates a new tax credit structure tied to age instead of income for people making under $75,000 per year (the credits gradually reduce the more you make over $75,000) Credit amounts: Under age 30: $2,000/yr Ages 30-40: $2,500/yr Ages 40-49: $3,000/yr Ages 50-59: $3,500/yr Over age 60: $4,000/yr The credits are capped at $14,000 per family for the five oldest individuals People can only get the tax credits if they are ineligible for employer-provided plans Credits can't be used to buy insurance that covers abortions Married couples are forced to file jointly if they want the health coverage tax credits There are exceptions for couples who don't live together & domestic abuse victims Section 215: Starting in 2018, increases the amount than can be put in Health Savings Accounts Individual contribution limit raised from $2,250 to $5,000 per year. Family contribution limit raised from $4,500 to $10,000. Section 216: Starting in 2018, married couples over the age of 55 with high deductible plans will be able to contribute more to joint health savings accounts Section 217: Starting in 2018, if a health savings account is opened within 60 days of a person getting coverage with a high deductible, medical expenses for those 60 days will be eligible for payment from the HSA Subtitle B: Repeal of Certain Consumer Taxes Section 221: "Repeal of tax on prescription medications" Starting in 2017, a fee paid by pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors will be repealed Section 222: "Repeal of health insurance tax" Starting in 2017, a fee on large health insurance companies, which is tied to and increases with premium growth rates, would be repealed. Subtitle C: Repeal of Tanning Tax Section 231: Starting on July 1, 2017, the 10% tax on indoor tanning is repealed. Subtitle D: Remuneration from Certain Insurers Section 241: Starting in 2017, insurance companies can get tax deductions on employee pay between $500,000 and $1 million. Subtitle E: Repeal of Net Investment Income Tax Section 251: Starting in 2017, a 3.8% tax on net income from stock market investments over $200,000 will be repealed. H.R. 2192 - To amend the Public Health Service Act to eliminate the non-application of certain State waiver Additional Reading Article: The most important part of the Republican health bill is mostly getting ignored by Matthew Yglesias, Vox, May 9, 2017. Article: GOP Health Bill Leaves Many 'Pre-Existing Condition' Protections Up To States by Bram Sable-Smith, NPR, May 8, 2017. Article: The 4 Big Changes To Health Care In The Latest GOP Bill by Anna Maria Barry-Jester, FiveThirtyEight, May 2, 2017. Article: The MacArthur Amendment Language Race in the Federal Exchange and Risk Adjustment Coefficients, Health Affairs, April 25, 2017. Article: Gripes About Obamacare Aside, Health Insurers Are in a Profit Spiral by Jeff Sommer, The New York Times, March 18, 2017. Article: Health insurance industry rakes in billions while blaming Obamacare for losses by Amy Martyn, Consumer Affairs, November 1, 2016. Report: Health Care Legislation Eliminates Tax Deduction Related to Medicare Part D Subsidy - Potential Accounting Impact This Quarter, Deloitte, March 31, 2010. Article: More Americans Went Uninsured in 2009 Than in 2008 by Elizabeth Mendes, Gallup, January 8, 2010. References CBO Cost Estimate: H.R. 1628 American Health Care Act of 2017 Life of the bill in the Rules Committee: H.R. 1628 - American Health Care Act of 2017 Federal Poverty Level GovTrack: American Health Care Act of 2017 Votes OpenSecrets: Thomas MacArthur OpenSecrets: Rep. David Schweikert - Top Industries OpenSecrets: Rep. Gary Palmer Sound Clip Sources Hearing: House Rules Committee Meeting on Republican Health Care Bill Amendment, House of Representatives, April 6, 2017. Timestamps & Transcripts 03:48 Rep Jim McGovern: We’re meeting on an amendment affecting millions of people’s healthcare, that came out of a backroom about an hour ago, with no vetting at all. I think the amendment, it was—the text was stamped, I think at 11:24 a.m. We were noticed for this meeting at 11:52. We waived the traditional hour so we can kind of move on with it, but there was no vetting at all, no process whatsoever, just a couple of good old boys with a typewriter, saying maybe this will work. 8:00 Rep Jim McGovern: If you guys want to deal with healthcare, introduce a bill; get co-sponsors on the bill; have the relevant committees—committees like Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce—do hearings, that’s a radical idea; invite people who know something about this issue—invite patients and patient-advocate groups and doctors and heads of hospitals, and invite some of your friends in the insurance industry—to come up and weigh in on your proposal; then you could do markups. Then get a CBO estimate, and after you get a CBO estimate and it’s marked up, then you come to Rules Committee, and you advance a bill to the floor. 13:40 Rep David Schweikert: If we were to actually have just sort of the top-line math question and say, let’s strip away some of the rhetoric and ideology and just sort of say “math,” when we look at our healthcare-utilization data, it’s functionally a hockey stick. Fifty percent of our population, the healthiest 50 percent, only use about three percent of healthcare costs, but our least healthy—our folks with chronic conditions, our brothers and sisters who really do suffer out there or have multiple issues laddered up—they represent five percent of that population, represents 50 percent of our spending. So you have this situation where we as a society, as a community, we’ve decided that guaranteed issue is out there, so now how do we find premium efficiency, rate efficiency? And as long as we’ve made this decision over here as a society, the fastest, most efficient thing we could do is actually sort of laddering some of that risk at that very top end. Last thing, and this may require a little more diving into it, and looking around, this is a smart committee, so you understand these things, if you were the actuaries building your rate profile, the ability to say we believe providing coverage for this population is going to cost this, you always have to design in a shock absorber because you wake up tomorrow and some people sign up for this coverage who have a chronic condition. The beauty of this type of risk-sharing model is that shock absorber that you have to build into your rate model can be substantially less because your top-end exposure is actually mitigated. So this was an occasion of, was there something we could do for lowering and making much more predictable the rate environment for that individual market, and this, I think, was the most elegant, simple way to get there. 38:55 Rep Alcee Hastings: In the brief time I’ve had to review it, the measure will provide $15 billion for the high-risk pools. Is that correct? All right. The language, specifically, setting it for is, “For the purpose of providing funding for the program there is appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $15 billion for the period beginning January 1, 2018”—am I right?—“and ending on December 31, 2026.” So that’s $15 billion over a 10-year period of time. Get it straight, America. If this measure were to become law—there was a conservative gentleman, I can’t pull his name up right now, that said in the great scheme of things, it’s chump change because it simply would not provide the necessary money over the nine-year period of time. Hearing: Rules Committee Hearing H.R. 1628 and H.R. 2192, House of Representatives, May 3, 2017. Timestamps & Transcripts 24:05 Rep Jim McGovern: As you mentioned in your testimony, we found out last week that the MacArthur amendment mysteriously exempted Congress from the damaging effects of this bill, and I say mysteriously because nobody seems to know who put the provision in. And as the Vox reporter who uncovered the exemption put it, and I quote, “No one will fess up to putting the Congress exemption in the AHCA amendment.” Apparently, Representative MacArthur, your office told her that the Senate Budget added it, and the Senate Budget said no, in fact they didn’t. So, I guess I’m just curious. My first question is, where precisely did this exemption come from, and who thought that this bill was good enough for American families but not good enough for Congress? Mr. MacArthur, you wrote the amendment; did you put the provision in? Or Mrs. McSally, your bill tries to fix it; do you know anything about how the exemption got in there in the first place? Rep Martha McSally: Want to go? This budget-reconciliation process is not intuitive to really anyone. I mean, this is very arcane, and so as we’ve been going through this process in the House, trying to comply with Senate rules, content can only apply if it’s referred to specific Senate committees. And— McGovern: So somebody consciously knowing that—someone consciously moved the legislation forward without — McSally: So, again, my understanding is in order to comply with these arcane Senate rules of budget reconciliation, where if a matter is going to be referred to some other committee other than the ones that are listed in the original budget resolution, then it’ll no longer be applicable and the budget-reconciliation process doesn’t go forward. So, all I know is I heard it didn’t apply, and I said let’s fix it. McGovern: Who put it in? Who put the exemption in the first place? McSally: Yeah, and it specifically—just to be clear, it specifically related to his amendment. It’s not related to other provisions in the middle. So… McGovern: Yeah, so who put this exemption in in the beginning? Rep Tom MacArthur: Well, first, I don’t believe that members of Congress or our staffs should receive any special treatment, and I don’t think anybody believes that. McGovern: But Mrs. McSally’s bill— MacArthur: Well, as— McGovern: It’s not an amendment, it’s a bill; but it’s just to fix the fact that, is it a drafting error, or did somebody intentionally try to exempt Congress? MacArthur: It’s not an error, but the challenge, as Mrs. McSally has said, the challenge is getting House policy, drafting House policy, to conform with Senate rules. And I had every intention in drafting my amendment that there would be no special exception for Congress. Senate rules required us to accomplish this— McGovern: What Senate rules? Did you talk to the Senate parliamentarian? Who did…? MacArthur: I didn’t personally, but the requirement is because exempting us would require to go to a different committee that we needed to accomplish this through a stand-alone bill, which we have. Mrs. McSally has introduced it. I’m an original co-sponsor. I hope you’ll support the bill. I think it’s worthy of support, and none of us should want to exempt Congress— McGovern: None of us do, but from where we’re sitting, it looks like you guys get your hands caught in the cookie jar and then get exposed and then decided to fix it after a reporter uncovered it. MacArthur: Well, that’s your interpretation. I wouldn’t describe it that way. I think we fixed the issue in the only way that the Senate suggested that we could and that was through a stand-alone bill that was introduced around the same time. 28:56 Rep Jim McGovern: I think anybody who’s watching this is scratching their head, wondering how in the world can Congress be dealing with healthcare issues in a way where we don’t have hearings, where fixes are being worked out in a back room, and we’re just seeing the language for the first time right now, that their input is being pushed aside—American people don’t matter—all so that it could be a vote before we go in recess because the president wants us to. I mean, I think healthcare’s a very personal issue, it’s very important, and people want us to get it right, and I don’t think anybody here believes that we’re getting this right, even those of us with different opinions, in the process that we’re utilizing here. I’ve got to be honest with you, this process, to put it bluntly, is a goddamn mess. I mean, it really is. And I don’t know how anyone can defend it. Fixes upon fixes to fix the fixes to fix the fixes—and it’s going to be brought to the floor tomorrow, and we’re going to have a debate, and that’s how we’re going to serve our constituents? You guys can defend it, and you’ll have to defend it, but I think you’re going to be surprised how upset the American people are going to be. 37:30 Rep Fred Upton: My—our amendment, I should say, is carefully targeted at those states that may seek a waiver. Obviously, there are none today. I don’t know what Governor Scott or the future governor will do. Unknown Speaker: I’ll get to him in a minute. Upton: All right. Well, I know I talked to my governor this morning. He’s not interested in seeking a waiver. Unknown Speaker: Mm-hmm. Upton: I would guess that most governors—maybe all, I don’t know—will not seek a waiver, and in that case, my amendment just covers something if maybe it happens. And one of the reasons why we targeted the money—so it’s $8 billion: it’s a billion the first year; a billion the second year; and two billion, years, each, three, four, and five—because chances are if a governor does take this course, you’ll have fewer at the beginning than at the end. I ask the question, is five billion enough to cover those that might need some help if a governor sought a waiver in that first year, because remember, after the first year they have continuous coverage. Unknown Speaker: That's right. Upton: The answer, not a lot of facts behind it, but the answer was, five billion should probably cover that, in which case a number of us said, well, we want to make sure that it is covered. And that’s why it is eight billion and not five. 40:54 Rep Jim McGovern: Who did you ask? I mean, that’s the whole point of a CBO is because we want to get a nonpartisan— Rep Fred Upton: We don’t have a CBO score. McGovern: Right. So who? Who did you—who gave you these figures? Rep Alcee Hastings: Eight billion. Upton: Who? I'm sorry, who? McGovern: You said you asked— Upton: No, no. I know Mr. Hastings’ had an answer. I didn’t hear what he said. Hastings: No. You asked for the five billion, was that enough. Who? Upton: I asked, I asked— Hastings: And he asked who. Upton: I asked some of the drafters—so I made this proposal—I’m not a lawyer, like you—I asked legislative counsel, I asked a number of staff very tied into the—what is the estimate. They thought five billion would cover it. 51:25 Rep Alcee Hastings: And to predict for you what I think is going to happen in the Senate: I think they take health security a little more seriously and is a more moderate body than we are, and so you can reasonably expect that when you pass this tomorrow on the slimmest of margins that you may never see it again, and you will not see it in the form that it’s in. So let’s just have at it. I’ve had my fun. I hope you continue to have yours, and some of you ain’t going to be here the next time that we meet after 2018. Tell your body I said so. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Exxon Mobil’s CEO is now the Secretary of State. The Koch Brothers’ Congressman is the CIA Director. We’ve already seen signs that the Trump Administration and the fossil fuel industry are merging. In this episode, hear the highlights of the confirmation hearings of the two men now most responsible for environmental law enforcement in the United States: Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt. Will they protect the environment from the fossil fuel industry or did President Trump appoint foxes to guard the henhouse? Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute using credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD144: Trump's War Manufacturers Additional Reading Article: Trump's EPA is reconsidering a rule that limits mercury from power plants by Samantha Page, Think Progress, April 19, 2017. Article: 'Like a slow death': families fear pesticide poisoning after Trump reverses ban by Sam Levin, The Guardian, April 17, 2017. News Release: EPA Launches Back-To-Basics Agenda at Pennsylvania Coal Mine, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, April 13, 2017. Op-Ed: Now we know Scott Pruitt isn't serious about fighting smog by Jack Lienke, Grist, April 12, 2017. Article: What's at Stake in Trump's Proposed E.P.A. Cuts by Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times, April 10, 2017. Article: Federal Judge Orders Supplemental EIS For Nevada Sage Grouse Plan by Richard Nemec, Natural Gas Intel, April 6, 2017. Article: E.P.A. Chief, Rejecting Agency's Science, Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide by Eric Lipton, The New York Times, March 29, 2017. Article: Herbert pushing for Interior Secretary Zinke to visit Utah and Bear Ears by Bryan Schott,, March 27, 2017. Press Release: Interior Department Auctions Over 122,000 Acres Offshore Kitty Hawk, North Carolina for Wind Energy Development, U.S. Department of the Interior, March 16, 2017. Press Release: Secretary Zinke Issues Lease for 56 Million Tons of Coal in Central Utah, U.S. Department of the Interior, March 15, 2017. Article: Zinke pledges big changes at Department of the Interior by Rob Chaney, Missoulian, March 10, 2017. Press Release: Secretary Zinke Announces Proposed 73-Million Acre Oil and Natural Gas Lease Sale for Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Department of the Interior, March 6, 2017. Article: Fate of Bears Ears in question as Senate confirms Montana Rep. Zinke as Interior secretary by Thomas Burr, The Salt Lake Tribune, March 1, 2017. Article: Oklahoma's earthquake threat now equals California's because of man-made temblors, USGS says by Rong-Gong Lin II, The Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2017. Article: Thousands of emails detail EPA head's close ties to fossil fuel industry by Brady Dennis and Steven Mufson, The Washington Post, February 22, 2017. Article: Scott Pruitt makes it clear that the Clean Power Plan is going away by Natasha Geiling, Think Progress, February 19, 2017. Article: Utah Representative Wants Bears Ears Gone And He Wants Trump To Do It by Kirk Siegler, NPR, February 5, 2017. Article: Good Question: What Exactly Is The Dakota Access Pipeline? by Heather Brown, CBS Minnesota, January 24, 2017. Document: State of the Air 2016 by The American Lung Association Article: Obama Designates Atlantic, Artic Areas Off-Limits To Offshore Drilling by Merrit Kennedy, NPR, December 20, 2016. Article: Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump's Pick for Interior Secretary, and the Rising American Land Movements by Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker, December 16, 2016. Press Release: Interior Department Announces Final Rule to Reduce Methane Emissions & Wasted Gas on Public, Tribal Lands, U.S. Department of the Interior, November 15, 2016. Article: Incumbent Ryan Zinke says security, jobs, health care top priorities by Holly Michels, Montana Standard, October 14, 2016. Article: Obama announces moratorium on new federal coal leases by Joby Warrick and Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post, January 15, 2016. Article: With Only $93 Billion in Profits, the Big Five Oil Companies Demand to Keep Tax Breaks by Daniel J. Weiss and Miranda Peterson, Center for American Progress, February 10, 2014. References Encyclopedia Britannica: Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 Fact Sheet: Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, US Department of the Interior U.S. Energy Information Administration: Natural Gas Overview U.S. Energy Information Administration: U.S. Energy Mapping System Environmental Protection Agency: EPA History Environmental Protection Agency: California Greenhouse Gas Waiver Request Environmental Protection Agency: Order denying petition to revoke tolerances for the pesticide chlorpyrifos GovTrack: On the Nomination PN31: Ryan Zinke, of Montana, to be Secretary of the Interior GovTrack: H.R. 5259 (114th): Certainty for States and Tribes Act Overview OpenSecrets: Sen. Lisa Murkowski - Summary OpenSecrets: Sen. Lisa Murkowski - Career Profile Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Interior Secretary Confirmation - Ryan Zinke, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, January 17, 2017. Part 1 Part 2 Timestamps & Transcripts Part 1 42:54 Senator Lisa Murkowski: Will you commit to a formal review of all of the Obama administration’s actions that took resource-bearing lands and waters in Alaska effectively off the table, including the decisions that specifically prevented the leasing of those lands and those waters for development, and determine whether or not they can be reversed? Ryan Zinke: Yes. I think the president-elect has said that we want to be energy independent. As a former Navy Seal, I think I’ve been to 63 countries in my lifetime, and I can guarantee it is better to produce energy domestically under [missing audio] than watch it be produced overseas with no regulation. I’ve seen the consequences of what happens when you don’t have any regulation in the Middle East. We can do it right. The backbone of our environmental policies has been NEPA, and I’m a strong supporter of NEPA, but we also have to understand that we need an economy. And, look, if we don’t have an economy as a country, then the rest of it doesn’t matter, because we’re not going to be able to afford a strong military, nor are we going to be able to afford to keep the promises we’ve made as a great nation; and we’ve made a lot of promises to education, to our children’s future, to infrastructure, to Social Security; all that takes an economy that’s moving forward, and energy is a part of that economy, and Alaska is a critical part of that economy. Alaska’s different for a reason: you are blessed with great resources, you are blessed with great recreation—a little cold in the winter, but it’s not Palm Springs. Murkowski: You’re from Montana. You can handle it. Zinke: We can handle it. But, yes, I think we need to be prudent. And always, I think we need to review things to make sure we’re doing it right because over time the government keeps on getting bigger and bigger, the bureaucracy gets larger and larger, and we can’t get something done. 53:12 Senator John Hoeven: Also in North Dakota, we’ve had a real challenge with the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. You and I talked about it. State and local law enforcement has worked very hard to keep the peace and to keep people safe, but we need federal law-enforcement help as well, and so in your case, that’s going mean BIA law enforcement. And, so, my question is, if you’re confirmed, will you ensure that BIA law enforcement works with state and local law enforcement to resolve the situation, to keep people safe, and to make sure that the rule of law is followed? Ryan Zinke: Yes, sir. And we talked about it in your office, and if confirmed, I’m going to be a very busy man, travelling. I’m going to travel to Utah, travel to Alaska, and travel to North Dakota. Those are three impending problems that we need to resolve quickly. I have great respect for the Indian nations. I’m adopted Assiniboine. Last time the Sioux Nations all got together, I would say General Custer probably would say that was not a good issue. So, you look at this, and there is deep cultural ties, there is a feeling that we haven’t been a fair consultant, a fair partner, and so I think we need to listen to that voice. 57:45 Senator Bernie Sanders: President-elect Trump has suggested—more than suggested—stated in his view that climate change is a “hoax.” Now I know that you’re not here to be administrator of the EPA or secretary of the Energy, but the issue of climate change is in fact very important for issues that the Department of Interior deals with. Is President-elect Trump right? Is climate change a hoax? Ryan Zinke: I can give you—the best answer is three things: First of all, climate is changing. That’s indisputable. I’m from Glacier National Park, and I’ve seen— Sanders: You don’t have any more glaciers there, huh? Zinke: Well—and I’ve seen glaciers over the period of my time recede. Matter of fact, when my family and I have eaten lunch on Grinnell Glacier, the glacier has receded during lunch. Sanders: All right. But I have—if you could— Zinke: Yeah. Sanders: —is the president-elect right? Is climate change a hoax? Zinke: Well, if I can give you two more points— Sanders: Okay. Zinke: —I’ll make it short. The second thing is man has had an influence. I don’t think—I think that’s indisputable as well. So, climate is changing, man is an influence. I think where there’s debate on it is what that influence is, what can we do about it, and as the Department of Interior, I will inherit, if confirmed, the USGS. We have great scientists there. I’m not a climate-scientist expert, but I can tell you I will become a lot more familiar with it, and it’ll be based on objective science. I don’t believe it’s a hoax; I believe we should— Sanders: You do not believe it's a hoax. Zinke: No. I believe we should be prudent to be prudent. That means I don’t know definitively; there’s a lot of debate on both sides of the aisle— Sanders: Well, actually, there’s not a whole lot of debate now. The scientific community is virtually unanimous that climate change is real and causing devastating problems. There is the debate on this committee but not within the scientific community. 59:40 Senator Bernie Sanders: If climate change is already causing devastating problems, should we allow fossil fuel to be drilled on public lands? Ryan Zinke: Again, we need an economy and jobs, too. And I, in my experience, have probably seen 63 different countries. I’ve seen what happens when you don’t have regulated— Sanders: I’m taking your—I don’t mean to be rude, but this is not a whole lot—I’m taking your answer to be yes, we should allow fossil fuel to be drilled on public lands. Zinke: I’m an all-the-above energy, and I want to be honest with you—I’m all the above. Sanders: Will you encourage wind and solar on public lands? Zinke: I will encourage, absolutely, wind and sol—all the above. Sanders: Okay. Zinke: So I think that’s the better solution going forward is all-the-above energy. 1:00:40 Ryan Zinke: I want to be clear in this point: I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land. 1:39:40 Senator John Barrasso: The war on coal: it is real for communities across the West, including Wyoming, including Montana; it’s devastated small towns, ultimately threatens our country’s energy security. If confirmed, will you commit to ending this moratorium on federal coal leasing? Ryan Zinke: The war on coal, I believe, is real. I have Decker, Montana, in my area, and behind me is a gentleman that works in the coal mines of the Crow Agency, which, by the way, the Crow Agency, if you were to take coal out of the picture, the unemployment rate would probably in the 90 percent. So they’re very keen on making sure they have their jobs and we give them the ability for self-determination. The moratorium, I think, was an example of many, is that one size fits all. It was a view from Washington and not a view from the states, particularly if you’re a state such as Wyoming, parts of Montana, West Virginia, where coal’s important. So overall, the president-elect has made a commitment to end “ the war on coal.” I think we should be smart on how we approach our energy. “All the above” is a correct policy. Coal is certainly a great part of our energy mix. To your point, I’m also a great believer that we should invest in the research and development, particularly on coal, because we know we have the asset. Let’s work together to make it cleaner, better. We should be leading the world in clean-energy technology, and I’m pretty confident that coal can be a part of that. 1:41:36 Senator John Barrasso: With the use of the Congressional Review Act, and I’m planning introducing a disapproval resolution on the BLM’s venting and flaring rule. To me that rule far exceeds the authority of the BLM, will ultimately put federal lands at a greater competitive disadvantage to state and private lands. Will you support our efforts to reverse this rule under the Congressional Review Act? Ryan Zinke: Yes, and I think what the driving force is is we’re venting a lot, and we’re wasting energy. And that is troubling to me, is that the amount of venting in North Dakota alone almost exceeds what we get out of the fields. So, a lot of the wasting can be approached by having an infrastructure. So let us build a system where we capture that energy that is otherwise being wasted. And that’s an enormous opportunity. It’s an enormous opportunity, our natural gas and geopolitically as well. We haven’t talked a lot about overseas, but energy is so critically important. If we want to check Russia, then let’s do it with liquid natural gas. If we want to put pressure on Iran, then let’s supplant every drop of Iranian crude. This is all part of a larger package, and it cannot be done without the great state of Wyoming and their assets, or Alaska. But we have to think globally on it, and it is better—and I’ve said this once before—but it is better to produce energy in America under reasonable regulation and get better over time than watch it be produced overseas with no regulation. That is indisputable. 1:43:23 Senator John Barrasso: And I want to talk about sage grouse management plans. The administration has ignored input from key stakeholders, including Western governors during the development of their plans, plans which were used to justify [missing audio] unwarranted status under the Endangered Species Act. But at the core, the plans fundamentally oppose the multiple-use mandates of the BLM, which includes grazing, recreation, energy development. Will you commit to returning conservation and management authority of the sage grouse back to the states in preventing this top-down mandate like this in the future? Ryan Zinke: My understanding is the sage grouse decision is going to come before the Department of Interior some time in March. I understand there’s going to be options and alternatives, proposed alternatives. I will work with you when I see those documents, and I’ll work with all of you when I see those documents, to make sure we’re doing the right thing. What concerns me about sage grouse is there’s no target number. I’m not sure how you can manage without a number. If we just grab a management of property without a number, I look at that with a suspect eye. So I think we’ve got to look at, everyone loves sage grouse, everyone understands that we have to protect the species, and generally those living in the ground are in a better position, and we should be an advocate and a partner in this rather than heavy-handed and just dictate terms, particularly when we don’t have a number. 2:33:40 Senator Mazie Hirono: In the discussion about energy, you’ve said a number of times that you support “all of the above,” which sounds really great except that in “all of the above,” what’s happened is that the fossil-fuel side of energy has gotten a lot of support over decades. So I hope that when you say “all of the above” that you will also be committed to providing more resources and support, particularly R&D for alternative and renewables, aside from, or in addition to, fossil fuels. So we need to have a more-level playing field for policies that truly reflect support for “all of the above.” Ryan Zinke: Yeah. I’ve always been a strong proponent on the record for research and development of different technologies, different innovations, different opportunities in this complete spectrum of the energy to include looking at traditional sources to make sure we’re better at doing that, you know, certainly horizontal drilling, fracking— Hirono: Yeah. Zinke: —coal. But “all the above” I think is the right approach. And when it comes out of the test tube and into fielding, energy needs to be affordable, reliable, and abundant. Part 2 12:15 Ryan Zinke: On the Gateway Pacific Terminal, what I raised my eyebrow on is I didn’t take a position, whether yes or no, on the Terminal. I took a position to make sure the NEPA process was followed and the EIS was completed before making a judgment. What I found was we were close to ending the NEPA process, with the EIS, after years and millions of dollars were spent on it, and then that was truncated and stopped by affidavits—and I didn’t judge whether the affidavits from the tribe were true or not true—if you don’t finish the NEPA process and don’t finish an EIS, and then all of a sudden that process can be interrupted and a permit can be pulled on the basis of something outside the EIS, why would you ever consent to spend millions of dollars on an EIS? That was my objection. And I don’t mean to speak for Senator Daines. Senator Maria Cantwell: So, you believe in the tribal sovereignty of the Lummi tribe to object in this case. Zinke: They certainly had every right to object as well as, in this case, the Crows, who also have a treaty obligation. 15:06 Senator Steve Daines: You have been a champion fighting on behalf of the Crow tribes, as you mentioned here in that last exchange, their sovereign right to develop their coal resources. And as you said in your testimony, the unemployment rate in Crow country will go north of 90 percent if they lose those jobs. Hearing: EPA Administrator Confirmation - Scott Pruitt, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, January 18, 2017. Part 1 Part 2 Timestamps & Transcripts Part 1 01:30 Chairman John Barrasso: Good morning. I call this hearing to order. We have a quite a full house today. I welcome the audience. This is a formal Senate hearing, and in order to allow the committee to conduct its business, we’ll maintain decorum. That means if there are disorders, demonstrations, by a member of the audience, the person causing the disruption will be escorted from the room by the Capitol Police. 22:50: Senator Jim Inhofe: Yes, as attorney general, Scott Pruitt has fought the EPA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the oil companies, and the out-going administration on many fronts, but all of these suits were brought to protect state and local interests from overzealous and activist executive agencies. Over the last eight years, the Obama administration has advanced a radical environmental agenda, has exhibited a deep distrust of state governments and private land owners, and has worked to obstruct the fossil-fuel industry and agriculture producers, the most-ardent protectors of the environment. 29:52 Scott Pruitt: I would lead the EPA with the following principles in mind: First, we must reject as a nation that false paradigm that if you’re pro-energy, you’re anti-environment; and if you’re pro-environment, you’re anti-energy. I really reject that narrative. In this nation we can grow our economy, harvest the resources God has blessed us with, while also being good stewards of the air, land, and water by which we’ve been favored. It is not an either-or proposition. Next, we should celebrate the great progress we’ve made as a nation since the inception of the EPA and the laws that have been passed by this body, but recognize that we have much work to do. Third, rule of law matters. Process matters. It inspires confidence in those that are regulated. The law is static, not transient. Regulators are supposed to make things regular, to fairly and equitably enforce the rules and not pick winners and losers. A regulator should not be for or against any sector of our economy; instead, a regulator ought to follow the law in setting up the rules so that those who are regulated can plan, allocate resources, to meet the standards versus operating in a state of uncertainty and duress. Fourth, federalism matters. It matters because Congress says so. And because we need to achieve good outcomes as a nation for air and water quality, we need the partnership of the states to achieve that. It is our state regulators who oftentimes best understand the local needs and the uniqueness of our environmental challenges, plus our state regulators possess the resources and expertise to enforce our environmental laws. Fifth, public participation is key. We need to hear all voices as we make decisions in behalf of our country with respect to environmental laws. 39:07 Senator Tom Carper: In 2011 the EPA required dirty coal power plants to clean up mercury and air toxic emissions by issuing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule. This rule will reduce the mercury, a neurotoxin that contaminates our streams and our oceans, pollutes our fish, and harms our children’s health. As attorney general, I believe you’ve been part of at least 14 legal cases against the EPA, and at least three of these cases against the EPA’s rules, to reduce mercury emissions from power plants. Is that correct? Just yes or no. Scott Pruitt: Senator, we have been involved in litigation around the MATS rule. Carper: Is that correct? Yes or no. Pruitt: As I indicated, yes, we’ve been a part of litigation involving the MATS rule. Carper: Thank you. It’s my understanding that at least one of these cases against the mercury rule is still pending. Is that correct? Just yes or no. Pruitt: I believe so, Senator, yes. Carper: Thank you. 43:40 Senator Jim Inhofe: I’m glad you brought up this thing about the Clean Air Act. The amendments from 1990, I was one of the cosponsors, it’s been incredibly successful. I mean, you mentioned that we’ve reduced those pollutants by 63 percent, but what you didn’t add was that it is in spite of the fact that we had 153 percent increase in our economic activity. That’s a major thing. 48:52 Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: In Rhode Island, we have bad air days, and because of EPA’s work, there are fewer and fewer. A bad air day is a day when people driving into work hear on the radio that ozone from out-of-state smokestacks has made the air in Rhode Island dangerous and that infants and the elderly and people with breathing difficulties should stay home on an otherwise beautiful day. Because those smokestacks are out of state, we need EPA to protect us, and I see nothing in your record that would give a mom taking her child to the hospital for an asthma attack any comfort that you would take the slightest interest in her. And your passion for devolving power down to states doesn’t help us, because our state regulators can’t do anything about any of those problems; they all come from out-of-state sources. 49:45 Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: One of the things I’d like to ask you about here is the connection between you and some of these fossil-fuel companies. These are some of the companies that have supported you. These are some of the political organizations that you’ve raised money for. You’ve raised money for them for Pruitt for Attorney General, correct? Scott Pruitt: Yes, sir. I have a campaign committee for that, yes. Whitehouse: And Devon Energy, Koch Industries, ExxonMobil have all maxed out to that account. Pruitt: I’m not aware— Whitehouse: At various times. Pruitt: —if they maxed out or not, Senator, but I’m sure they’ve given to that committee. Whitehouse: Oklahoma Strong PAC is your leadership PAC? Pruitt: It was, yes. Whitehouse: It was? And, similarly, they gave money, they maxed out to that organization as well, which you controlled? Pruitt: I’m unsure about that, Senator. Whitehouse: Okay. But they contributed to it. Pruitt: I’m even unsure about that as well. I haven’t looked at that. Whitehouse: You closed your super PAC, Liberty 2.0, but that took fossil-fuel contributions as well, correct? Pruitt: That particular entity has been closed, yes. Whitehouse: Now, you helped raise money for the Republican Attorney General’s Association. While you were a member of its executive committee, they received $530,000 from Koch Industries, $350,000 from Murray Energy, $160,000 from ExxonMobil, and $125,000 from Devon Energy, the company whose letter you transposed onto your letterhead and sent as an Oklahoma attorney general document. 1:11:57 Senator Jeff Merkley: Over a number of years, information started pouring into EPA that the estimate of the amount of fugitive methane escaping in gas and oil drilling had been deeply underestimated. In 2011 the EPA put out its best estimates based on the information that was being presented. And this is relevant because methane is a global-warming gas, more potent than CO2. Gas companies didn’t like this because, well, it presented a vision of natural gas being more damaging environmentally than folks had previously understood. Devon Energy is one of the groups that sought to cast doubt on this scientific information, and it came to you to be their spokesperson, and they asked, will you be our mouthpiece in casting doubt and send a letter we have drafted to the EPA, and you sent that letter. And I just want to ask, first, are you aware that methane is approximately 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global-warming gas? Scott Pruitt: I am, Senator. It’s— Merkley: Thank you. Pruitt: —the impact on human health— Merkley: That’s the answer. Yes. Thank you. It’s a yes-no question. And on a one to 10 scale, how concerned are you about the impacts of fugitive methane in driving global warming? Pruitt: Methane, as you indicated, has— Merkley: One to 10 scale. Highly, 10, very concerned; or one, not so concerned? Pruitt: The quantities of methane in the atmosphere compared to CO2 is less, but it’s far more potent, and it is— Merkley: Are you concerned? I’m asking about your level of concern. Pruitt: Yes, yes. Merkley: Highly concerned? Pruitt: I'm concerned. Merkley: Thank you. 1:13:34 Senator Jeff Merkley: Do you acknowledge sending this letter to the EPA in October 2011? Pruitt: Senator, that is a letter that’s on my letterhead that was sent to the EPA, yes, with respect to the issue. Merkley: You acknowledge that 97 percent of the words in that letter came directly from Devon Energy? Pruitt: I have not looked at the percentages, Senator. Merkley: The statement that’s been analyzed many times is that all of the 1,016 words, except for 37 words, were written directly by Devon Energy. Pruitt: Senator, that was a step that was taken as attorney general representing the interest of our state. Over 25 percent of our— Merkley: Yeah, so, I didn’t ask that question. I was just asking if you copied the letter virtually word for word. You have acknowledged that, yes, it’s in the record, people can count it, is correct. All right, so, a public office is about serving the public. There is a public concern over the impact of methane on global warming. There is scientific research showing that it’s far more devastating than anticipated and far more is leaking than—but you used your office as a direct extension of an oil company rather than a direct extension of the interests of the public health of the people of Oklahoma. Do you acknowledge that you presented a private oil company’s position rather than a position developed by the people of Oklahoma? Pruitt: Senator, with respect, I disagree. The efforts that I took as attorney general were representing the interests of the state of Oklahoma. Merkley: Earlier you said you— Pruitt: And there was a concern about— Merkley: No, no, excuse me. I’m asking the questions. You said earlier you listen to everyone. In drafting this letter, you took an oil company’s position, and then, without consulting people who had diverse views about the impact, you sent it off. How can you present that as representing the people of Oklahoma when you simply only consulted an oil company to push its own point of view for its private profit? Pruitt: Senator, there’s an obligation the EPA has to follow processes as established by this body. The cost-benefit analysis under Section 112 is something that they have to engage in. There was a concern about the overestimated percentages that the EPA put in the record—it was a record-based challenge—that was the expression of the letter to the EPA, and it was representing the interests of an industry in the state of Oklahoma— Merkley: Thank you. Pruitt: —not a company, an industry. Merkley: So, my question was, what other groups—environmental groups or other groups—did you consult so that you had that full perspective before representing simply a for-profit oil company using your official office and your official letterhead? Pruitt: There—I consulted with other environmental officials in Oklahoma that regulate that industry and learned from them with respect to the concerns about the estimates that were provided by the EPA. Merkley: Can you provide this committee with information showing who you consulted in representing this letter specifically for Devon Energy, because the information that’s in the public realm only shows that they simply sent you a letter, asked you to send it, and you sent it without questions. Pruitt: We have seven or so individuals in our office that are involved in these kinds of issues, and we will collect the information they have and provide it to this body pursuant to the chairman’s direction. Merkley: Your staff expanded substantially while you were in charge, to 251 staff members. Why do you need an outside oil company to draft a letter when you have 250 people working for you? Pruitt: Senator, as I’ve indicated, that was an effort that was protecting the state’s interest in making sure that we made the voices of all Oklahomans heard on a very important industry to our state. Merkley: You said that all heard, but you only sent it on behalf of a single voice: the oil company. Pruitt: That— Merkley: Thank you. 1:24:11 Senator Cory Booker: You’ve joined or filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA, challenging clean air and clean-water rules, yes? Scott Pruitt: We’ve been involved in multiple pieces of litigation, Senator. Booker: Yeah, but I’m looking at specifically 14, and, Mr. Chairman, I’d like to put those 14 lawsuits into the record, of where you specifically challenged the EPA on air quality. And let me just go through some of those. Chairman Barrasso: Without objection. Booker: Thank you, sir. To refresh your recollection, you filed two lawsuits challenging the EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Standards; you filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone; you filed four lawsuits challenging the EPA’s Clean Power Plan; you have sued to challenge the EPA’s 111(b) standards for carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants; and you also sued to challenge the EPA’s Federal Implementation Plan for Oklahoma under the Regional Haze rule. You’re familiar with those, I imagine. Pruitt: Yes, Senator. Booker: And you filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, something in New Jersey we’re very concerned with. And are you aware that that Rule, which you lost in that suit, scientists estimate that that alone prevents 400,000 asthma attacks nationally each year? Are you aware or those estimations? Pruitt: Yes, Your Honor. Or, yes, Senator. May I offer— Booker: I appreciate your promotion to judge. Let me continue, Mr. Pruitt. I don’t have that much time. Pruitt: Okay. Booker: So, each of these lawsuits that I just went through and that we analyzed, all of them challenge attempts by the EPA to reduce air pollution. In all of them except one you filed those lawsuits, joining with polluting companies that were also suing the EPA. And, so, in addition to filing those lawsuits with some of the polluting companies, or at least one that has now been specifically mentioned by two of my colleagues, you used substantial portions of the letters from those companies, put them on your official attorney general letterhead; and what was sort of surprising to me is that when you’ve been asked about this in the public, you basically represented that, “That’s actually called representative government in my view of the world.” Your testimony here says that you were representing industry; you were representing the polluters. And, so, with all of these lawsuits you filed, and with all of these letters like this one written to the EPA, on behalf of the industries that are causing the pollution, it seems clear to me that obviously the fact pattern on representing polluters is clear, that you worked very hard on behalf of these industries that have their profits externalized, negative externalities are their pollution. And, so, I just have a question for you specifically about the children of Oklahoma. Do you know how many kids in Oklahoma, roughly, have asthma? Pruitt: I do not, Senator. Booker: Well, according to the data published by the very non-partisan group, the American Lung Association, more than 111,000 children in Oklahoma, which is more than 10 percent, more than one in 10 of all the kids in Oklahoma, have asthma. That’s one of the highest asthma rates in the entire United States of America. Now, this is a crisis—similar data, for where I was mayor—and I can tell you firsthand the devastating impacts that asthma has on children and families: affecting their economic well-being; parents who have to watch their children struggle to breathe; people that have to miss work, rushing their kids to the hospital. One in 10 kids having a disease, missing school, is a significant problem. And so if you’ve been writing letters on behalf of polluting industries, I want to ask you, how many letters did you write to the EPA about this health crisis? If this is representative government, did you represent those children? I want to know what actions you’ve taken in the past six years in your capacity as protector of the welfare of Oklahoma citizens to protect the welfare of those 111,000 children. Did you ever let any of them write letters on your letterhead to the EPA, and did you even file one lawsuit—one lawsuit—on behalf of those kids to reduce the air pollution in your state and help them to have a healthy life? Pruitt: Senator, I’ve actually provided a list of cases to the chairman with respect to enforcement steps we’ve taken in multiple pieces of environmental litigation, but let me say to you, with respect to Cross-State Air Pollution and some of the cases you referred to, the state has to have an interest before it can bring those cases, as you know. You can’t just bring a lawsuit if you don’t have standing, if there’s not been some injury to the state of Oklahoma. In each of those cases, the court determined that there was a state interest— Booker: My time has expired, but if I could just say, injury, clearly asthma is triggered and caused by air pollutants. Clearly there is an air pollution problem, and the fact that you have not brought suits in any of the levels which you’ve represented the industries that are causing the pollution is really problematic when you’re going to sit in a position that is nationally supposed to be affecting this reality. And asthma in our country is the number one reason why children in America, health reason, why children in America miss school. 1:37:28 Senator Ed Markey: Eight of those cases are still ongoing, including your litigation that challenges critical rules that reduce levels of hazardous smog, mercury, and carbon pollution. As EPA administrator, you would be in a position to serve as plaintiff, defendant, judge, and jury on these ongoing eight lawsuits, and that would be wrong. In your ethics agreement, you have said that you would not participate in any matter that is ongoing litigation within one year, but, Mr. Pruitt, isn’t it correct that these lawsuits may very well continue for much longer than one year? Scott Pruitt: Well, Senator, I have the letter from the ethics counsel at the EPA, and the one-year time period is intended to address covered entities, entities that I served in a chairmanship or an officer capacity. The Southern Theological Seminary, the Windows Ministry, those entities are covered entities. So if there is a matter that arises before the EPA within a one-year period, a particular matter, a specific case that involves those entities, then the recusal would be in order. But that’s really the focus of the one-year timeline. Markey: So, will you agree to recuse yourself from those lawsuits which you brought as the attorney general of Oklahoma against the EPA, not just for one year, but for the entirety of the time that you are the administrator of the EPA? Will you commit to doing that? Pruitt: Senator, for clarity, I think that it’s important to note that the one-year time period, again, is for those covered entities that were highlighted in the EPA letter. With respect to pending litigation, the EPA ethics counsel has indicated, with respect to particular matters and specific parties, there will be an opportunity to get counsel from the EPA at that point to determine what steps could be taken to avoid appearances of impropriety. Markey: So, you will not recu—are you saying that you will not recuse yourself from the actual matters which you’re suing the EPA on right now as attorney general of Oklahoma for the time that you are the head of the EPA? Pruitt: I’m not saying that at all, Senator. Markey: You are saying that. Will you recuse yourself? Pruitt: I’m saying that the EPA ethics counsel has indicated those cases will require a review by the EPA ethics counsel, and if it involves a particular matter with a specific party, then recusal would potentially be in order, and I would follow the guidance and counsel of EPA ethics. Markey: I just think this is—this is a clear line for the American public, given your record from Oklahoma in suing the EPA on all of these matters, that if you don’t agree to recuse yourself, then, again, you become plaintiff, defendant, judge, and jury on the cases that you’re bringing right now as attorney general of Oklahoma against the EPA; and the EPA is for all of the people of the United States, not just the fossil-fuel industry of Oklahoma. So you’re not committing—and I think that’s a big mistake, Mr. Pruitt—to recuse yourself from those cases. It is critical. 2:19:49 Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: I’ve looked at your record. Most of the lawsuits you filed as attorney general were related to businesses, specifically what was important for your state in terms of employers and businesses, and the few lawsuits you did file about human safety were few and far between, but this role as head of the EPA, you’re going to have a much more important role to play. And I want to talk specifically about mercury. If you believe that mercury is a threat to public health but oppose the remedy of reducing mercury air pollution from power plants because it’s too costly, what, then, do you think you should do or what should be done to address the mercury pollution? Scott Pruitt: Let me say, Senator, mercury is something—it is a hazardous air pollutant under Section 112. It is something that the EPA has authority to regulate and should regulate. It should do so, though, within the framework established by this body, and the Supreme Court said that the EPA did not follow the cost-benefit obligations. It’s not that the benefits outweigh the costs, it’s just that they simply didn’t engage in a proper record-based support for their rule. And so that goes back to earlier questions with other senators about the process mattering, being committed to the rule of law and the rulemaking authority that Congress has given the EPA in making sure that as rules are passed, that they can be upheld in court. Gillibrand: But, I need you also to be worried about human health. I understand there’s a cost, but when you’re talking about lives, when you’re talking about children who can’t breathe—I’ve been to the emergency room at two in the morning with a child who can’t breathe; it’s a horrible thing. We’ve had children die in New York City because none of their teachers, no administrators in the schools knew what to do when a child has an asthma attack. It’s a huge problem. So I need you to care about human health and really believe that the cost, when human health is at risk, when people are dying, is far higher than it is the cost to that polluter to clean up the air and change their processes. I need you to feel it as if your children sitting behind you are the ones in the emergency room. I need you to know it. 2:31:32 Senator Bernie Sanders: And I apologize for being late, but we were at a hearing with Congressman Price, who is the nominee for HHS, and perhaps not a great idea to have important nominating hearings at exactly the same time. 2:33:30 Scott Pruitt: I believe the ability to measure with precision the degree of human activity’s impact on the climate is subject to more debate on whether the climate is changing or the human activity contributes to it. Senator Bernie Sanders: While you are not certain, the vast majority of scientists are telling us that if we do not get our act together and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, there is a real question as to the quality of the planet that we are going to be leaving our children and our grandchildren. So, you are applying for a job as administrator for the EPA to protect our environment; overwhelming majority of scientists say we have got to act boldly, and you are telling me that there needs to be more debate on this issue and that we should not be acting boldly. Pruitt: No, Senator. As I’ve indicated, the climate is changing, and human activity impacts that. Sanders: But you haven’t told me why you think the climate is changing. Pruitt: Well, Senator, the job of the administrator is to carry out the statutes as passed by this body and to _ Sanders: Why is the climate changing? Pruitt: Senator, in response to the CO2 issue, the EPA administrator is constrained by statutes Sanders: I'm asking you a personal opinion. Pruitt: My personal opinion is immaterial— Sanders: Really?! Pruitt: —to the job of carrying out— Sanders: You are going to be the head of the agency to protect the environment, and your personal feelings about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emissions is immaterial? Pruitt: Senator, I’ve acknowledged to you that the human activity impacts the climate. Sanders: Impacts. Pruitt: Yes. Sanders: Scientific community doesn’t tell us it impacts; they say it is the cause of climate change, we have to transform our energy system. Do you believe we have to transform our energy system in order to protect the planet for future generations? Pruitt: I believe the EPA has a very important role at regulating the emissions of CO2. Sanders: You didn’t answer my question. Do you believe we have to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, to do what the scientific community is telling us, in order to make sure that this planet is healthy for our children and grandchildren? Pruitt: Senator, I believe that the administrator has a very important role to perform in regulating CO2. Sanders: Can you tell me, as I think all of us know, Oklahoma has been subjected to a record-breaking number of earthquakes. Scientists say that Oklahoma is almost certain to have more earthquakes, with heightened risk of a large quake, probable to endure for a decade and that the cause of this is fracking. Can you point me—picking up on Senator Harris’s discussion with you, can you point me to any opinion that you wrote, any enforcement actions you took, against the companies that were injecting waste fracking water? Pruitt: Senator, let me say I’m very concerned about the connection between activity in Oklahoma and- Sanders: And, therefore, you must have taken action, I guess. Can you tell me who you fined for doing this, if you are very concerned? Pruitt: The Corporation Commission in Oklahoma is vested with the jurisdiction, and they have actually acted on that. Sanders: And you have made public statements expressing your deep concern about this. Pruitt: We have worked with, through our- Sanders: You have made public statements. You’re in a state which is seeing a record-breaking number of earthquakes. You’re the attorney general. Obviously, you have stood up and said you will do everything you can to stop future earthquakes as a result of fracking. Pruitt: Senator, I’ve acknowledged that I’m concerned about the- Sanders: You acknowledged that you are concerned. Pruitt: Yes. Sanders: Your state is having a record number of—well, if that’s the kind of administrator for the EPA—your state’s having a record-breaking number of earthquakes, you acknowledge you are concerned; if that’s the kind of EPA administrator you will be, you are not going to get my vote. 2:37:43 Senator John Barrasso: I want to talk about some of the concerns I have with overregulation, and I’ll ask, do you have the same concerns with the overregulation of U.S. manufacturing over the last eight years? I believe we’ve _____(00:08) exported manufacturing jobs overseas, jobs that go with them in terms of the manufacturing of those goods to places like China and India that are going to produce those products in a less environmentally friendly way. And do you agree with this notion that this approach harms not just the environment, but also our own U.S. economy? Pruitt I believe, Senator, that it puts us in an economic disadvantage when we don’t hear all voices in the rulemaking process with respect to these issues, absolutely. Part 2 17:04 Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: Let me just ask you this as a hypothetical: if you had raised significant amounts of money for the Rule of Law Defense Fund from corporations who will be subject to EPA’s regulation, before EPA, with matters before EPA, might that place you in a conflict of interest? Scott Pruitt: The EPA ethics counsel has said—and by the way, these are career individuals as you know, Senator. Justina Fugh is a career person at EPA ethics, and so as they’ve reviewed these potential conflicts, I’ve disclosed all entities I’ve been affiliated with. Whitehouse: I understand that, but I’m asking you if you think it might place you in a conflict of interest, because we both understand that the ethics rules that the EPA’s enforcing predate Citizens United, predate dark money, and they’ve said in the letter that they aren’t even looking at that because they don’t have the authority to. That doesn’t mean it’s not a conflict of interest; it means that the regulatory authority on government ethics hasn’t caught up with this post-Citizens United, dark-money world. Pruitt: I think— Whitehouse: My question is, you’re a lawyer, you know conflicts of interest, you’ve been an attorney general, might it be a conflict of interest, within your definition of the term, if you had raised significant amounts of money for this Rule of Law Defense Fund and they’ll have business before EPA with you? Is that a potential conflict of interest? Pruitt: I think Justina Fugh actually did address those entities to the degree that I was never an officer of the super PAC that you referred to earlier, the Liberty 2.0, and so they looked at those entities to determine— Whitehouse: The question was fund raising. Pruitt: They looked at those entities— Whitehouse: That’s the question we don’t have any answers on is what you raised. Pruitt: They looked at those entities to determine what the nature of my relationship was and then indicated that those would have to be evaluated in the future as cases arose, and— Whitehouse: Right now, the chairman asked you a question which is, are there matters that might place you in a conflict of interest that you have not disclosed? You answered no. Might not having raised significant money—let’s say $1 million, let’s say you made a call to Devon Energy and said, I did you letter for you, RAGA needs a lot of money, we’ve got this dark-money thing where we can launder your identity clean off it, and the money will go into RAGA, I need a million bucks out of you—might that not create a conflict of interest for you if that were the facts? Pruitt: Ms. Fugh has indicated in her letter to me—again, these are career individuals at EPA ethics—that if particular matters involving specific parties arise in the future, it will be evaluated at that point, but I want to call into account— Whitehouse: But how will they know if you’re not willing to disclose that you raised the hypothetical million dollars from Devon Energy? Pruitt: Well, those aren’t even covered entities under her letter at this point. Whitehouse: That's my point. Pruitt: But it’s factual— Whitehouse: But that may very well create a conflict of interest, mightn’t it? Pruitt: Senator, I did not serve in an office or capacity at that entity. In fact, I was not [unclear] in any way— Whitehouse: You’ve said that already, too, but that also is not the question. The question is a very simple one: did you raise money for the Rule of Law Defense Fund from entities that will appear before EPA as potential defendants in subjects of regulation, and if so, how much, and what did you tell them, and what did you ask? It seems to me that’s not an unusual or— Pruitt: The Rule of Law Defense Fund, according to Ms. Fugh, would need to be a party in the future for that to be an issue. That’s what she’s indicated in her letter to me. Whitehouse: So— Pruitt: At the time— Whitehouse: So let me— Pruitt: —if issues arise in the future, I will seek the counsel of EPA ethics and follow the advice of those career folks to make a decision and recuse if necessary. That is— Whitehouse: But at this point— Pruitt: —something I commit to doing. Whitehouse: At this point, what I deduce from your statement is that if that set of hypothetical facts were true, if you had raised a million dollars from a big energy corporation to go through the Rule of Law Defense Fund to support your efforts at RAGA, that that is not something anybody should care about, even if that corporation is before you at EPA and subject to your regulation at EPA. Pruitt: Well, I think something that, if presented in the future, Justina Fugh and myself, EPA ethics would evaluate that, and I would take the appropriate steps to recuse if they told me to do so. Whitehouse: But how would it be presented in the future if you’re not willing to present it now? Pruitt: If there’s a matter— Whitehouse: Why does it matter in the future and not now? Pruitt: If there’s a matter or cast that comes before the EPA’s authority, that would be something. There’s ongoing—as you know, Senator, Ms. Fugh indicated this in her letter—there’s ongoing obligations that I will have, if confirmed as administrator, to bring those kinds of matters to attention of EPA ethics. Whitehouse: Well, for what it’s worth, I think that the Senate has a role in policing this as well, that the whole purpose of advice and consent and the reason there are these government ethics filings is so we can look at this exact question, and the fact that they haven’t been updated to take into account dark money and all these big political organizations that have been created with dark money doesn’t take away our Senate obligation to find out what conflicts of interest you will bring to the position of administrator. And it gives me very little comfort that you’re not willing to answer those questions here. My time has expired. I’ll continue in other rounds. 1:07:50 Senator Ed Markey: Do you support the current California waiver for greenhouse gas standards? Scott Pruitt: Senator, that’s what would be evaluated, and I think it’s very difficult, and we shouldn’t prejudge the outcome in that regard if confirmed as administrator. Markey: So you’re questioning the current waiver. You don’t think they’re entitled to the current waiver. Pruitt: Well, the waiver is something that’s granted on an annual basis, and the administrator would be responsible for making that decision. Markey: Yeah. And so you say you’re going to review it. Pruitt: Yes, Senator. Markey: Yeah. And when you say review, I hear undo the rights of the states, and I think to a certain extent that it’s troublesome because, obviously, what we’ve heard all day is how much you support states’ rights when it comes to these issues, but now when it comes to the right of California or Massachusetts and other states to be able to reduce carbon pollution, you’re saying you’re going to review that. So my problem really goes to this double standard that is created that when you sue from the Oklahoma perspective, from the oil and gas industry perspective, and you represent Oklahoma, you say they have a right to do what they want to do in the state of Oklahoma. But when it comes to Massachusetts or it comes to California, and it comes to the question of those states wanting to increase their protection for the environment, protect their victimization from carbon pollution, you say there you’re going to review. 1:51:58 Senator Jim Inhofe: The cost of regulations: as you know, the Supreme Court overturned the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics—that’s MATS—rule in 2015 because the EPA failed to—ignored the fact that the cost was $9.6 billion annually of the rule. Now, in fact, the EPA’s regularly issued rules over the past eight years that are very costly for our industries and our job creators. According to the CRS—now, CRS, when they make an evaluation, are much more conservative, the figure is always a very conservative figure, but they said the Clean Power Plan would be at least $5 billion to $8 billion a year. The figures I’ve heard on that are far greater because it wouldn’t be that much different than the old systems that they tried to do through legislation: the methane standards on oil and gas facilities, $315 million a year; the new ozone standards, $1.4 billion; the 2015 coal ash standards, $587 million a year; and the 2011 sulfur dioxide standards, $1.5 billion a year. Now, when you hear this, all this money is being spent on compliance costs by our job creators, people out there that are working for a living, and they’re hiring people. What are you thoughts, and what do you believe should be the role of the costs of EPA’s decision making? Pruitt: I think it’s very important in the rule-making process, Senator, and the Supreme Court and courts have recognized that very important factor. 1:54:46 Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: We have been talking about fundraising done by you for the Rule of Law Defense Fund during the time when you were both a board member and for a full year the chairman of the Rule of Law Defense Fund and the fact that we have exactly zero information in this committee about that fundraising. We also have zero—and let me ask unanimous consent for the page from— Chairman Barrasso: Without objection. Whitehouse: —the filing that discloses that he was in fact a member of the board of directors and chairman of the Rule of Law Defense Fund. We also have a meeting agenda from the Republican Attorney Generals Association during a time that you were executive committee member of the Republican Attorney Generals Association meeting at The Greenbrier, which I’ll stipulate for my friend from West Virginia is a lovely place to go, and the agenda, which I’d like to take this page of and put into the record, mentions a private meeting with Murray Energy. It mentions a private meeting with Southern Company. It mentions a private meeting with the American Fuel Petrochemical Manufacturers. If you’ll show the graphic, these are all the same groups that I’d been asking about in terms of your fundraising for the Rule of Law Defense Fund, and there’s Murray Energy, and there’s Southern Company, and I’m sure the American Fuel Petrochemical Manufacturers represent a lot of the others. As I understand it, we know nothing—no minutes, no statements, no reports—about what took place in those meetings that are described as private meetings on a sheet that is stamped “confidential.” Correct? We know nothing about the content of those meetings. Scott Pruitt: Senator, I didn’t generate the document. I know nothing about how that document got generated or what— Whitehouse: Are you denying that those private meetings took place? Pruitt: No, Senator. I just didn’t generate the document and don’t know about the content other than what you’ve represented. Whitehouse: Okay. And we don’t know. And because you were on the executive committee of RAGA, that’s information that we could get, right? I mean, it’s available, if there were minutes or reports out of those meetings, notes taken; but we don’t have them, correct? Pruitt: Senator, that would be a request made to the Republican Attorney Generals Association. And I might add, the Republican Attorney Generals Association, there’s a Democrat Attorney Generals Association as well. 1:59:43 Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: Given how many of these groups have important financial interests before the EPA, do you not think that 3,000 emails back and forth between you and your office and them are relevant to potential conflict of interest as an administrator and should be before us as we consider this? Scott Pruitt: Again, I think the EPA ethics council has put out a very clear process with respect to covered entities, as we described earlier, and on particular matters and specific cases, I will follow advice of that EPA career person, ethics, to make sure that there are recusing [unclear]— Whitehouse: You keep saying that, but the problem is— Chairman Barrasso: The senator’s time has expired. Whitehouse: Will you finish my sentence? Barrasso: Please do. Whitehouse: The problem with that is that if you haven’t disclosed any of this information, then the EPA ethics council would have no idea to even look. They would have no idea what the risks are. You can’t say, nobody can look at whether I did this, but by the way, they’re going to look at it. It just doesn’t add up. 2:12:30 Senator Jeff Merkley: Ten years ago we were talking about models that led to the conversation Senator Inhofe had about Climategate, about wrestling with assumptions and models. We don’t need models now; we have facts on the ground: the moose are dying because the ticks aren’t being killed by the winter being cold enough, the fish are migrating on the Atlantic coast, and Maine’s losing its lobsters to Canada. These facts on the ground are extraordinarily real, they have a huge economic impact, and shouldn’t we take a very serious approach to the urgency of this problem as we see it descending upon us? Scott Pruitt: Senator, I think the EPA—and if confirmed [missing audio] and obligation to deal with the issue. The Massachusetts v. EPA case says that CO2 is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and as such, that’s what generated the 2009 endangerment finding. So I think there is a legal obligation presently for the EPA administrator to respond to the CO2 issue through proper regulations. Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
The 2016 Election is finally here; in this episode, we take a look at the job performance of our 114th Congress. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Vote on Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track) H.R. 2146: Defending Public Safety Employees' Retirement Act (The final version of fast track) House Vote: 218-208 Senate Vote: 60-37 Bill Highlighted in This Episode S. 764: A bill to reauthorize and amend the National Sea Grant College Program Act and for other purposes (The GMO labeling law) The real title should be "National bioengineered food disclosure standard" but S. 764 (about the college program) was used as a vehicle to get the GMO labeling bill into law. Definitions Bioengineering Food that "has been modified through...(DNA) techniques" using a modification that "could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature". Food Food intended for human consumption Establishment of a Labeling Standard By July 29, 2018, the Secretary of Agriculture has to establish a "national mandatory bioengineered food disclosure standard" Animals fed bioengineered foods will not be labeled as bioengineered themselves Regulations will determine how much of a bioengineered substance needs to be present for the food itself to be considering bioengineered The labels can be text, symbol, or electronic or digital link; the manufacturers get to pick If they choose the electronic or digital link, the bioengineering information must appear on the first page presented and without advertisements. The link can not "collect, analyze, or sell any personally identifiable information about consumers or the devices of consumers" Foods served in restaurants and "very small food manufacturers" are excluded from the regulations "Very small" is not defined. States are prohibited from enacting their own bioengineering labeling laws. Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD096: Fast Tracking Fast Track CD098: USA Freedom Act CD110: Government Funding Crisis of 2015 CD112: Dingleberries on the Omnibus CD113: CISA is Law CD114: Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Chapter CD127: The FAST Act: Transportation Funding Law CD135: Education is Big Business: Every Student Succeeds Act Additional Reading Article: Puerto Rico Control Board Names Carrion Chair Amid Protests by Katherine Greifeld, Bloomberg Markets, September 30, 2016. Article: John Boehner, House Speaker, Will Resign From Congress by Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times, September 25, 2016. Article: Former House Speaker John Boehner Joins Washington Law Firm by Elizabeth Olson, New York Times, September 20, 2016. Article: Heavy Smoker John Boehner Joins Tobacco Company's Board by Matt Egan, CNN, September 15, 2016. Blog: Deep conflicts of interest plague Obama's newly appointed fiscal control board in Puerto Rico by Saqib Bhatti, The Hill, September 9, 2016. Report: Scooping and Tossing Puerto Rico's Future: Puerto Rico Borrowed $3.2 Billion to Pay Fees & Interest to Banks & Investors by ReFund Project, August 31, 2016. Article: Who are the Members of the Puerto Rico Fiscal Control Board? by Patricia Guadalupe, NBC News, August 31, 2016. Report: Puerto Rico's Payday Loans: $33.5 Billion of the Island's Debt is Actually Interest on Payday Loans by ReFund Project, June 30, 2016. Article: U.S. Dropped 23,144 Bombs on Muslim-Majority Countries in 2015 by Adam Johnson, Alternet, January 10, 2016. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Epinephrine injectors are life saving devices for people with food allergies and one company - Mylan Inc. - produces almost all of them. In this episode, listen to the highlights from a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee grilling of Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, and judge her justification for raising the EpiPen's price over 600% since EpiPen's competition was eliminated. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Sound Clip Sources Hearing: EpiPen Price Increases (Watch on C-SPAN) House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, September 21, 2016. Witnesses Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan Inc. Doug Throckmorton, M.D., Deputy Center Director for Regulatory Programs Clip Timestamps (In order of appearance in episode) 51:16 - Doug Throckmorton: Available epinephrine injectors 49:55 - Rep. John Mica (FL) and Doug Throckmorton: FDA won't discuss generic applications 0:35 - Chairman Jason Chaffetz (UT) - Introduction 9:25 - Elijah Cummings (MD): Mylan's actions that Congress is investigating 12:20 - Elijah Cummings: List of EpiPen price increases 4:10 - Jason Chaffetz: Executive compensation 16:55 - Elijah Cummings: Martin Shkreli called Congress "imbeciles" 24:10 - Heather Bresch: Introduction 28:16 - Heather Bresch: Mylan's profits from each EpiPen 47:43 - Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD) & Heather Bresch: Mylan did not give Congress requested documents 55:10 - Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton & Heather Bresch: Will Mylan reduce the price of EpiPens? 1:23:26 - Rep. Scott DesJarlais (TN) & Heather Bresch: How long were the price increases going to continue? 1:32:10 - Rep. Gerald Connolly (VA) & Heather Bresch: Mylan's EpiPen is 94% of the epinephrine injector market. 1:56:55 - Rep. Stacey Plaskett (VI) & Heather Bresch: Why are customers paying so much for EpiPens? 2:01:04 - Rep. Mark Meadows (NC) & Heather Bresch: Everyone pays a different price in this system 2:51:15 - Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ) & Heather Bresch: Mylan moved their headquarters to the Netherlands to pay less in U.S. taxes. 2:37:15 - Rep. Peter Welch & Heather Bresch: EpiPens cost much less in the Netherlands 1:03:15 - Rep. John Duncan (TN): Drug companies have manipulated the market. 1:44:25 - Tammy Duckworth (IL) & Heather Bresch: Mylan prohibited schools from buying from competitors 36:45 - Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT) & Heather Bresch: Heather Bresch's explanation for why her mother used her position to get schools to buy EpiPens from Mylan 1:11:40 - Rep. Tim Walberg (MI) & Heather Bresch: Mylans plan would shift costs of EpiPens to government 1:21:16 - Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA) & Heather Bresch: Veterans Administration is able to negotiate it's drug prices, which makes them lower 53:35 - Rep. John Mica (FL) & Heather Bresch: Executive compensation at Mylan 59:19 - Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) & Heather Bresch: What does Heather Bresch do to earn $18 million per year? 2:48:55 - Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ) & Heather Bresch: Heather Bresch often uses a company private jet 2:13:50 - Rep. Mick Mulvaney (SC) & Heather Bresch: Mylan is getting what it deserves 3:08:08 - Rep. Glenn Grothman (WI) & Heather Bresch: Does Heather Bresch feel guilty? 3:39:40 - Rep. Jason Chaffetz & Heather Bresch: The numbers don't add up. 3:43:30 - Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD) Closing statement Additional Reading Article: Family matters: EpiPens had high-level help getting into schools by Jayne O'Donnell, USA Today, September 21, 2016. Article: Have You Ever Tried to Buy an EpiPen? by Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, August 24, 2016. Article: Everyone Hates Martin Shkreli. Everyone is Missing the Point by Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker, February 5, 2016. Additional Information Law: H.R. 2094 (113th Congress): School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act OpenSecrets: Senator Joe Manchin's campaign contributors Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
In a Presidential Election year when the Big Two Parties have selected widely disliked candidates, is it possible to vote None of the Above into the Presidency? In this episode, by learning how the electoral college works, we explore our options for realistically denying the Presidency to the chosen candidates of the Republican and Democratic Parties. *This episode has been updated from it's original version for information accuracy. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! United States Electoral College U.S. Electoral College: About the Electors, National Archives and Records Administration. The 2016 Presidential Election, National Archives and Records Administration. History of Faithless Electors, Fair Vote Democracy Directory of Representatives, United States House of Representatives State Control of Electors, Fair Vote Presidential Elections Reform Program Sound Clip Sources: FBI News Conference: FBI Director James Comey News Conference, Federal Bureau of Investigation, CSPAN, July 5, 2016. Video: Gary Johnson & Drones, YouTube, May 3, 2016. Television News Clip: Hillary Clinton in 2015: Email Server was Permitted, CNN, July 12, 2015. Video: Gary Johnson & Drones, YouTube, May 3, 2016. Videos: Video: The Trouble with the Electoral College By CGP Grey, YouTube, November 7, 2011. Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes Congressional Dish Episode 126: The Presidential Primary, By Jennifer Briney, May 23, 2016. Additional Reading Article: A Reminder of the Permanent Wars: Dozens of U.S. Airstrikes in Six Countries By Missy Ryan, The Washington Post, September 8, 2016. Article: US election: Why is Clinton's Foundation So Controversial? By Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, August 23, 2016. Article: Trump University: It's Worse Than You Think By John Cassidy, The New Yorker, June 2, 2016. Article: The Definitive Roundup of Trump’s Scandals and Business Failures By Celina Durgin, National Review, March 15, 2016. Article: Pew Research Center will Call 75% Cellphones for Surveys in 2016 By Kyley McGeeney, Pew Research Center, January 5, 2016. Article: Clintons Personally Paid State Department Staffer to Maintain Server By Rosalind S. Helderman and Carol D. Leonnig, The Washington Post, September 5, 2015. Additional Information Report by the Office of Inspector General: Office of the Secretary: Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements Office of Evaluations and Special Projects, May 2016. Commission on Presidential Debates Polls Used by Commission on Presidential Debates 2000 Official Presidential General Election Results, State Elections Offices Election Polling Methodology, Pew Reseach Center. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations, with a special thanks to photographer Dennis "Chunga" Cieklinski for the awesome photo of the Bennett School for Girls.
Netroots Nation is an annual political conference where "progressive" politicians, journalists, and activists gather to exchange ideas. In this episode, Jen highlights her experience at Netroots Nation 2016. Included are an update on the status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other interesting insights into the current state of the Democratic Party's political base. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Sound Clip Sources Netroots Nation Introduction Clip: Hillary Clinton Addresses Netroots Nation 2016, YouTube, July 16, 2016. Additional Reading Article: The Man Behind Citizens United Gears Up for Hillary Clinton Attacks By Fredreka Schouten, USA Today, July 20, 2016. Article: A Novel About War With China Strikes a Chord at the Pentagon By Dan De Luce, Foreign Policy, May 15, 2016. Article: Inside Hillary Clinton's Big-Money Cavalry By Dave Levinthal, The Center for Public Integrity, April 7, 2016. Article: Who, What, Why: What is skunk water?, BBC News, September 12, 2015. Article: US Defense Bill Worth $1.5B To Israel's Plasan Sasa By Globes Online, Israel Business News, January 7, 2010. Book: Merchants of Doubt By Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, May 24, 2011. Additional Information Netroots Nation Online Sessions Keep It in the Ground: Getting the Federal Government Out of the Fossil Fuel Business TPP: Trade “Trump-ing” the Election How the Next President Can Bust Up Big Corporations We’re Taking on Wall Street and the Big Banks Mistral Security Website: Crowd Control - Skunk Supreme Court of the United States Blog: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Case Files OpenSecrets: Hillary Clinton 2016 Presidential Candidacy Fundraising Summary Data OpenSecrets: Saban Capital Group 2016 Election Cycle Contribution Data Documentary: Merchants of Doubt Directed by Robert Kenner, 2015. Reports The Redistricting Majority Project 2012 Summary Report, January 4, 2013. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Health: Is there anything more important? In this episode, we examine three bills that moved through Congress in 2016 which would have a direct effect on the health of American citizens. Would the changes benefit you? This episode is dedicated to the loving memory of Nathan Brightbill. He will be forever loved and missed. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Bills Highlighted in this Episode H.R.3762:Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 Bill Highlights Defunds the Prevention and Public Health Fund Rescinds money for States operating their own health insurance exchanges Eliminates the last year of a temporary fee to be paid by health insurance companies to fund care for “high risk individuals” Repeals limits on out of pocket health expenses for low income families Repeals the eligibility requirements for getting health care as individuals Repeals the advance payment of tax credits to help low income people pay for their individual premiums Eliminates the small business tax credit for companies with less than 25 employees and provide health insurance for their employees Eliminates the tax penalty for people who don’t get their own health insurance Eliminates the tax penalty for large employers who don’t provide their employees health insurance and backdates it to protect large companies who didn’t provide health insurance in 2015 Cut off money to States that give money to any organization that provides abortions (Planned Parenthood) Greatly reduces the amount of money for Medicaid, which is health care for poor people Repeals the 2.3% Medical Device Tax on the manufactures of large medical equipment, even though it was suspended for two years by the omnibus Transfers over $379 billion from the Treasury to the Federal Hospital Insurance Fund, which is where our payroll taxes go and is used to fund Medicare. Congressional Budget Office Report Analysis of H.R. 3762 Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act December 11, 2015 Vote Senate: 52 -47 House 240 - 181 Vetoed by President Obama Author Rep. Tom Price of Georgia’s 6th district Organizations Lobbying For H.R. 3762 Medtronic Inc.: 6 times Has more than doubled it’s lobbyist spending since 2008 - spends about $5 million per year Manufacturers expensive medical devices; the ones that have to pay a 2.3% medical device tax In 2014, gave out over a quarter million directly to members of Congress Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America: 15 times Represents drug companies and spent $18.4 million on lobbyists in 2015 America’s Health Insurance Plans: 20 times US Chamber of Commerce: 41 times Organizations Lobbying Against H.R. 3762 Planned Parenthood: 4 times H.R. 1927: Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2016 (FACT Act) Bill Highlights Federal courts would be prohibited from certifying any class action lawsuit unless every person in the lawsuit has suffered “the same type and scope of injury” as the named class representative A trust set up for a company that has gone bankrupt but still owes money to claimants has to publicly report the name and exposure history of each person and the basis of the payments to that person The information would not include their “confidential” medical record or their social security number The trust would have to provide payment information or information about payment demands from the trust if the request is about liability of asbestos exposure These disclosure requirements would be valid for all Chapter 11 cases. Vote Passed the House of Representatives: 211-188 President Obama issued a Veto threat Author Bob Goodlatte of Virginia’s 6th District Biggest contributor during his career has been the National Auto Dealers Association Organizations Lobbying For H.R. 1927: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America: 8 times US Chamber of Commerce: 6 times Honeywell International: 3 times Organizations Lobbying Against H.R. 1927: American Association for Justice: 30 times American Bar Association: 13 times H.R. 2017: Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 Bill Highlights Amends disclosure requirements for chain restaurants with more than 20 locations Instead of requiring the restaurants to display "the number of calories in the standard menu item, as usually prepared and offered for sale", the restaurant would be given the choice to display: The number of calories in the whole item The number of servings and the calories per serving or The number of calories per however the restaurant chooses to divide it Restaurants where "the majority" of orders are placed by off-premises customers, the restaurant may choose to only provide nutrition information by "a remote-access menu" (such as a menu available on the Internet) as the sole method of disclosure instead of on-premises writings" Allows buffet and self-serve restaurants to publish nutrition information on the Internet instead of on a sign adjacent to each food, if they choose to. Nutrition information "shall be treated as having a reasonable basis even if such disclosures vary from actual nutrient content" Regulations for enforcing this bill will have to be created within a year. The bill then prohibits any regulations regarding nutritional information at restaurants, including regulations that have already taken affect, from taking effect until 2 years after the new regulations are done, killing all nutritional information requirement for three years. Restaurants will not have to have their nutritional information certified for accuracy. Restaurants "shall not be liable in any civil action in Federal or State court" for violating nutritional information laws. Vote Passed the House of Representatives 266-144 Author Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington's 5th district Organizations Lobbying For This Bill National Restaurant Association Safeway Inc. YUM! Brands Little Caesar Enterprises Domino's Pizza Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Rules Committee Hearing H.R. 712, 1155, SA to H.R. 3762, Rules Committee January 5th, 2016 Hearing: H.R. 1927, the “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015, April 29, 2015 Commercial (YouTube): Domino's Pizza Turnaround Additional Reading Article: Ford spent $40 million to reshape asbestos science by Jim Morris, Center for Public Integrity, February 16, 2016. Article: Absestos class action bill faces hurdles by Mark Hofmann, Business Insurance, January 17, 2016. Article: Domino's Just Unveiled a Radical Pizza Delivery Car That Took 4 Years to Build by David Gianatasio, October 22, 2015. Article: Honeywell agrees to settle Jersey City chromium lawsuit for $10 million by Michelangelo Conte, The Jersey Journal, June 9, 2015. Article: Honeywell Hit With $10.9M Verdict in Asbestos Suit by Igor Kossov, Law360, June 2, 2014. Article: The Asbestos Scam, Part 2 by Joe Nocera, New York Times, January 12, 2014. United States Government Accountability Office Report: Asbestos Injury Compensation: The Role and Administration of Asbestos Trusts , September, 2011. Article: Virginia jury hands down $25M verdict in asbestos case, by Jason L. Kennedy, March 20, 2011. Article: Honeywell Says Asbestos Verdict Was More Thank It Had Disclosed by Alex Berenson, New York Times, April 18, 2002. Article: Health Industry Sees Wish List Made Into Law, Robert Pear, NYT, Dec 6, 1999. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
In this special episode, we take a look at the different rules for getting on the ballot for the House of Representatives in all fifty States, and take a look at how some States made it way too hard for Independents to qualify. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Ballot Access Information Alabama Signatures Needed: 3% of the total votes for Governor in the last election in the district 2016 Range: 4,109 - 6,174 Fees: None Filing Deadline: March 1, 2016 at 5pm Alaska At-large state Signatures Needed: 2,854 registered voters Fees: None Filing Deadline: August 15, 2016 (the day before the Primary Election) Arizona Signatures Needed: 3% of qualified electors in the district 2014 Range: 2,784 - 4,381 Fees: None Filing Deadline: June 1, 2016 Arkansas Signatures Needed: 3% of number of people who voted for Governor in 2014, capped at 2,000 Fees: None Filing Deadline: November 9, 2015 California As of the 2012 election, California has had a top-two primary system; in order to get on the General Election ballot, you have to be one of the top two vote getters in the Primary election. [caption id="attachment_1992" align="aligncenter" width="484"] Top 2 Primary clearly benefits Republicans and Democrats[/caption]   To appear on the Primary Election ballot, a candidate needs to either collect signatures or pay a fee, or a combination of the two. Signatures Needed: 3,000 Fees: 1% of the salary for a Congressman 2016: $1,740 Filing Deadline: February 25, 2016 Colorado Signatures Needed: 30% of the number of votes cast in the last election, capped at 1,000 Fees: None Filing Deadline: July 14, 2016 Connecticut Signatures Needed: 1% of the votes cast in the district for the House of Representatives in the last election, capped at 7,500 Fees: None Filing Deadline: Either August 10, 2016 or September 7, 2016 Delaware At-large state Signatures Needed: 1% of the total registered voters in the district as of December 31, 2015 Fees: None Filing Deadline: September 1 at 4:30pm Florida Signatures Needed: 1% of registered voters from anywhere in the state 2016 Range: 3,512 - 5,072 Fees: 4% of the salary for a Congressman 2016: $6,960 Candidates can file an undue burden oath and get the fee waived if they don't pay anyone to collect signatures or collect campaign contributions. Filing Deadline: June 24, 2016 Georgia Signatures Needed: 5% of the total registered voters from the district who participated in either of the last two elections cycles Signature range unavailable because the Georgia Secretary of State's office does not provide the necessary voter registration statistics online and would not provide the signature requirements by phone or email. Fees: $5,220 Can be waived if the candidate turns in a "pauper's affidavit" Filing Deadline: July 12, 2016 Hawaii In Hawaii, candidates, regardless of party, need to run in the Primary Election and receive at least 10% of the votes cast for the office or receive a vote equal to or greater than the lowest vote received by the partisan candidate who was nominated. Signatures Needed: 25 registered voters Fees: $75 Filing Deadline: June 7, 2016 Idaho Signatures Needed: 500 registered voters Fees: None Filing Deadline: March 11, 2016 Illinois Signatures Needed: 5% of the total voter turnout in the district for the last General Election Fees: None Filing Deadline: June 27, 2016 Indiana Signatures Needed: 2% of people in the district who voted for Secretary of State in the last election Fees: None Filing Deadline: June 30, 2016 Iowa Signatures Needed: 375 people in the district (do not need to be registered) Fees: None Filing Deadline: August 19, 2016 Kansas Signatures Needed: 4% of registered voters in the district, capped at 5,000 Fees: 1% of the salary for a Congressman plus $10 2016: $1750 Filing Deadline: August 1, 2016 at noon Kentucky Signatures Needed: 400 registered voters in the district Fees: $500 Filing Deadline: August 9, 2016 at 4pm Louisiana Signatures Needed: 1000 eligible voters in the district Fees: $600 Filing Deadline: July 22, 2016 Maine Signatures Needed: 2,000 registered voters in the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: June 1, 2016 Maryland Signatures Needed: 1% of the registered voters in the district 2016 Range: 4,624 - 5,155 Fees: $100 Filing Deadline: August 1, 2016 Massachusetts Signatures Needed: 2,000 registered voters in the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: August 2, 2016 Michigan Signatures Needed: 3,000 registered voters in the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: July 21, 2016 at 4pm Minnesota Candidates need to collect signatures or pay a filing fee to be on the General Election ballot Signatures Needed: 1,000 registered voters in the district Fees: $300 Filing Deadline: May 31, 2016 Mississippi Signatures Needed: 200 registered voters in the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: January 8, 2016 Missouri Signatures Needed: 2% of the number of people who voted for the House of Representatives in the district in the last election, capped at 10,000 2016 Range: 3,073 - 4,622 Fees: None Filing Deadline: August 1, 2016 Montana At-large state Signatures Needed: 5% of the votes cast for the winner of the last election in the district 2016: 10,194 Fees: 1% of the salary for a Congressman 2016: $1,740 Filing Deadline: May 31, 2016 Nebraska Signatures Needed: 10% of the total votes cast for Governor in the district during the last election, capped 2,000 Fees: 1% of the salary for a Congressman 2016: $1,740 Filing Deadline: September 1, 2016 Nevada Signatures Needed: 1% of the total votes cast in the district in the last election 2016 Range: 803 - 1,863 Fees: $300 Filing Deadline: June 3, 2016 New Hampshire Signatures Needed: 1,500 registered voters in the district Fees: $50 Filing Deadline: September 7, 2016 New Jersey Signatures Needed: 100 registered voters in the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: June 7, 2016 New Mexico Official petition counts will not be released until March 2016. Signatures Needed: 3% of the total votes cast for Governor in that district in the last election Fees: None Filing Deadline: June 30, 2016 New York Signatures Needed: 5% of the votes cast for Governor in the last election, capped at 3,500 2014 Range: 3,058 - 10,591 Fees: None Filing Deadline: August 2, 2016 North Carolina Signatures Needed: 4% of the total number of registered voters in the district as of January 1 of the election year 2014 Range: 15,493 - 24,709 Fees: 1% of the salary for a Congressman 2016: $1,740 Filing Deadline: June 9, 2016 at 5pm North Dakota At-large state Signatures Needed: 1,000 "qualified" voters in the State Fees: None Filing Deadline: September 6, 2016 at 4pm Ohio Signatures Needed: 1% of the votes cast in the district for Governor in the last election Fees: $85 Filing Deadline: March 14, 2016 (the day before the Primary Election) Oklahoma In Oklahoma, candidates need to pay a filing fee or collect signatures in order to appear on the General Election ballot Signatures Needed: 4% of the registered voters in the district Approximately 15,000 signatures Fees: $750 Filing Deadline: April 15, 2016 Oregon Signatures Needed: 1% of the number of votes cast for President in the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: August 30, 2016 Pennsylvania Signatures Needed: 1,000 registered voters in the district Fees: $150 Filing Deadline: August 1, 2016 Rhode Island Signatures Needed: 500 registered voters in the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: July 15, 2016 South Carolina Signatures Needed: 5% of the registered voters in the district, capped at 10,000 signatures Fees: None Filing Deadline: July 15, 2016 at noon South Dakota At-large state Signatures Needed: 1% of the total votes cast for Governor in the last election 2016: 2,774 Fees: None Filing Deadline: April 26, 2016 Tennessee Signatures Needed: 25 registered voters from the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: April 7, 2016 Texas Signatures Needed: 500 registered voters in the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: June 23, 2016 Utah Signatures Needed: 300 registered voters from the district Fees: $485 Filing Deadline: March 17, 2016 Vermont Signatures Needed: 500 registered voters in the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: August 4, 2016 at 5pm Virginia Signatures Needed: 1,000 registered voters in the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: June 14, 2016 at 7pm Washington As of the 2008 election, Washington has had a top-two primary system; in order to get on the General Election ballot, you have to be one of the top two vote getters in the Primary election. To qualify for the Primary Election: Signatures Needed: The same number as the filing fee Fees: 1% of the salary for a Congressman 2016: $1,740 Filing Deadline: May 20, 2016 West Virginia Signatures Needed: 1% of the votes cast for the office in the last election 2016 Range: 1,404 - 1,543 Fees: 1% of the salary for a Congressman 2016: $1,740 Filing Deadline: August 1, 2016 Wisconsin Signatures Needed: 1,000 registered voters in the district Fees: None Filing Deadline: June 1, 2016 Wyoming At-large state Signatures Needed: 2% of the votes cast for the U.S. House in the last election 2016: 3,302 Fees: $200 Filing Deadline: August 29, 2016 Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Time-sensitive episode! Congress is rushing to pass a bill that would grant the President Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which hands Congress' power to negotiate international treaties to the Executive Branch. In this episode, we look at the details of the Trade Promotion Authority bill. Is giving the Executive Branch this power a good idea? Please Contact Your Representative in the House Please Contact Your Two Senators Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or Fast Track H.R. 1890: "Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015" S. 995: "Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015" The following links are to the text of H.R. 1890, as introduced in the the House Ways and Means Committee. The Senate, as of April 26, has not sent the text of their version to the Government Publishing Office to be released to the public. [caption id="attachment_1743" align="aligncenter" width="968"] Despite having been introduced on April 16 and passed out of the Senate Finance Committee on April 22, the text of Trade Promotion Authority had still not been submitted for public publishing on April 26[/caption] Section 2: Negotiating Objectives Elimination of trade laws that keep multinational corporations out of foreign countries Expand the Investor State Dispute System Allow multinational corporations access to the world's resources Get other countries to change their laws Eliminate taxes that companies have to pay to sell their products in other countries (tariffs) Remove regulations that prevent businesses from operating in other countries Agriculture Prevent countries from refusing foreign food for safety reasons unless an approved international scientific organization says the concerns are legit. Force countries to eliminate subsidies for their own industries Eliminate government owned industries Prohibit labeling requirements for food that "affect" biotechnology (for example, genetically modified foods) and making labeling requirements eligible for lawsuits in the Investor State Dispute System Prohibits restrictions "not based on scientific principles" Foreign Investment Eliminate exceptions for when a foreign corporation is treated the same as a domestic corporation Allow money to be transferred into and out of the country Eliminate performance requirements for opening and operating a business in a foreign country Create laws that force governments to pay companies for law that reclaim their land from corporations Create an appeal process for the Investor State Dispute System Ensure that Investor State Dispute System rulings are made public, that hearings are open to the public, and that businesses, unions, and NGO's have a way to make their opinions heard in Investor State Dispute System cases, even if those businesses, unions and NGOs are not a part of the case. Intellectual Property Make sure that companies have the legal and technological means to prevent unauthorized use of their copyrighted material over the Internet Enforcement must include civil, administrative, and criminal mechanisms Prohibit laws that require local storage or processing of digital data Prohibit taxes on electronic transfers Regulatory Practices Require regulations be "based on sound science, cost benefit analysis, or risk assessment" Have countries match their laws Eliminate price controls Government-Owned Industries Eliminate government owned industries that compete with private companies Localization Eliminate and prevent laws that require multinational corporations to operate facilities or keep assets in a country where they want to do business Labor and Environment Require countries to adopt "internationally recognized core labor standards" Allows environmental laws to be weakened (see exception) Allow countries to enforce labor and environmental laws at their discretion "Ensure that labor, environmental, or safety politics and practices of the parties to trade agreements with the United States do not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate against United States exports or serve as disguised barriers to trade." Ensure that labor and environmental laws are subject to the Investor State Dispute System Prohibit foreign countries from enforcing labor and environmental law within the United States Anti-Corruption "Encourage and support" anti-corruption and anti-bribery initiatives Section 3: Trade Promotion Authority for the President The President may enter into agreements with foreign countries before July 1, 2018 That can (and likely will) be extended until July 1, 2021. The President has to request the extension in writing and submit reports to Congress and if Congress does nothing, the extension is automatically approved. Procedures for the President to Enter International Agreements The President must notify Congress of his intention to begin negotiations 90 days before they start 30 days before starting negotiations, the President must publish a summary of the negotiation objectives on a publicly available website. Before entering into an agreement, the President must "consult" with various Committees and inform them of the "nature of the agreement" and the "general effect of the agreement on existing laws" At least 180 days before entering the agreement, the President must submit a report to Congress of the proposals that "may be" in the final agreement. At least 90 days before entering the agreement, the President must provide the International Trade Commission - which is not a part of Congress - with details of the agreement as it exists at that time and request an assessment of the agreement. At least 90 days before entering the agreement, the President must publish his intention to enter the agreement in the Federal Register. 60 days before entering into the agreement, the President must publish the text of the agreement on a publicly available Internet website of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. 30 days before entering the agreement, the President must give Congress the final text and a plan for implementing and enforcing it. Congress will make changes needed to existing U.S. law with an implementing bill Any agreement with a foreign government that is not disclosed to Congress before the implementing bill is introduced will have no force or effect. Congressional Involvement in Negotiations The U.S. Trade Representative must meet with any member of Congress who requests a meeting The U.S. Trade Representative must provide any member of Congress access to negotiation documents, including classified materials The United States Trade Representative must "consult" with various committees at various stages of negotiations. The U.S. Trade Representative - not Congress - will write guidelines on "enhanced coordination with Congress" and the USTR can revise the guidelines whenever he wants to. The U.S. Trade Representative will have to accredit at least 10 members of Congress to the trade delegation. It's unclear if they will be able to participate in the actual negotiations. How to rescind Trade Promotion Authority If the Senate Finance Committee meets to pass the implementing bill, and it doesn't pass, a "disapproval resolution" will be passed and sent to the Senate floor. Any member of the House or Senate can introduce a "disapproval resolution" In the House, the resolution goes to the Committee on Ways and Means AND the Committee on Rules If either of these Committees does not pass the resolution, it can not go to the House floor for a vote If the Committee on Ways and Means does not pass the resolution in 6 legislative days, the resolution dies. In the Senate, the resolution goes to the Committee on Finance. If the Committee on Finance does not pass the resolution, it can not go to the Senate floor for a vote Information for the Public The U.S. Trade Representative will create written guidelines on public access to information regarding agreements, which he can revise at any time. Chief Transparency Officer Creates a new position in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative - the Chief Transparency Officer - who will "consult" with Congress on transparency policy, "assist' the public, and "advise" the U.S. Trade Representative Sovereignty "No provision of any trade agreement... that is inconsistent with any law of the United States, any State of the United States, or any locality of the United States shall have effect." "Reports...issued by dispute settlement panels... shall have no binding effect on the law of the United States, the Government of the United States, or the law or government of any State or locality of the United States." Hearings Discussed in This Episode "Congress and U.S. Trade Policy", Senate Finance Committee, April 16, 2015. [caption id="attachment_1745" align="aligncenter" width="314"] People available for questions during the April 16 surprise hearing in the Senate Finance Committee about Trade Promotion Authority[/caption] "Congress and U.S. Trade Policy", Senate Finance Committee, April 21, 2015. [caption id="attachment_1746" align="aligncenter" width="303"] People available for questions during the April 22 Senate Finance Committee hearing on Trade Promotion Authority [/caption] Mark-Up Hearing for S. 995 (the Trade Promotion Authority bill), Senate Finance Committee, April 22, 2015. Mark-Up Hearing for H.R. 1890(the Trade Promotion Authority bill), House Ways and Means Committee, April 22, 2015. Additional Information U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman bundled between $200,000- $500,000 for Barack Obama's political campaigns, Center for Responsive Politics Senator John Thune has taken over $1.6 million from Agribusiness, Center for Responsive Politics Is the Bt Protein Safe for Human Consumption?, - University of California, February 2012. USDA Fact sheet on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)
2021 is off to quite a 2020 start! In this bonus thank you episode, Jen starts the show sharing a summary of and her thoughts about the January 6th storming of the election certification in Congress by President Donald Trump's misguided supporters and then thanks the producers who have ensured that this podcast exists to cover such insane events in Congress. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Click here to contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Send Zelle payments to: Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North, Number 4576, Crestview, FL 32536 Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Articles/Documents Article: The Latest: Capitol Police says officer dies after riots AP News, January 8, 2021 Article: Pence took lead as Trump initially resisted sending National Guard to Capitol By Kaitlan Collins, Zachary Cohen, Barbara Starr and Jennifer Hansler, CNN, January 7, 2021 Article: Pentagon placed limits on D.C. Guard ahead of pro-Trump protests due to narrow mission By Paul Sonne, Peter Hermann, and Missy Ryan, The Washington Post, January 7, 2021 Article: Biden Says Rioters Who Stormed Capitol Were Domestic Terrorists By Ken Thomas and Sabrina Siqqiqui, The Wall Street Journal, January 7, 2021 Tweet: @dmihalopoulos By Ken Dilanian, Twitter, January 7, 2021 Tweet: @SecElaineChao By Dan Mihalopoulos, Twitter, January 7, 2021 Tweet: @InsideNatGeo By National Geographic, Twitter, January 7, 2021 Tweet: @kaitlancollins By Kaitlan Collins, Twitter, January 7, 2021 Tweet: @KenDilanianNBC By Ken Dilanian, Twitter, January 7, 2021 Tweet: @MacFarlaneNews By Scott MacFarlane, Twitter, January 7, 2021 Article: The Man Who Saw Yesterday’s Coup Attempt Coming Is Only Surprised It Wasn’t Much Worse By Cam Wolf, GQ, January 7, 2021 Transcript: Donald Trump Speech “Save America” Rally Transcript January 6 Rev, January 6, 2021 Article: How pro-Trump insurrectionists broke into the U.S. Capitol Washington Post, January 6, 2021 Article: 25th Amendment Legal Information Institute Resource Internet Archive Sound Clip Sources Tweet: Pelosi says Democrats will move to impeach Trump if he does not ‘willingly’ resign Twitter, January 8, 2021 Video: @RepKinzinger By Adam Kinzinger, Twitter, January 7, 2021 Tweet: @TaylorPopielarz By Taylor Popielarz, Twitter, January 7, 2021 Video: President Trump tells rioters at Capitol to 'go home' C-SPAN, January 6, 2021 Video: Senate Debate on Arizona Electoral College Vote Challenge, Part 2 C-SPAN, January 6, 2021 Video: Senate Debate on Arizona Electoral College Vote Challenge, Part 1 C-SPAN, January 6, 2021 Video: Speech: Donald Trump Holds a Political Rally on The Ellipse - January 6, 2021 You-Tube, January 6, 2021 Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)
While the focus of the world has been on the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has been busy preparing a war authorization for the incoming Joe Biden administration. In this episode, we examine the advice given to Congress in nine recent hearings to learn which countries are on the World Trade System naughty list, as Jen prepares to read the NDAA that's soon to become law. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Click here to contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Click here to support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North, Number 4576, Crestview, FL 32536 Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Recommended Episodes CD208: The Brink of the Iran War CD195: Yemen CD191: The Democracies of Elliott Abrams CD190: A Coup for Capitalism CD186: National Endowment for Democracy CD167: Combating Russia NDAA CD131: Bombing Libya Bills H.R.526: Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019 H.Res.751: Reaffirming the partnership between the United States and the African Union and recognizing the importance of diplomatic, security, and trade relations. H.Res.1120: Urging the Government of Tanzania and all parties to respect human rights and constitutional rights and ensure free and fair elections in October 2020, and recognizing the importance of multi-party democracy in Tanzania H.Res.1183: Supporting respect for human rights and encouraging continued democratic progress in Ethiopia, and for other purposes. Articles/Documents Article: Belarus Will Be an Early Challenge for Biden, By Gregory Feifer, Slate, December 18, 2020 Article: Expanded "America Crece" Initiative Launch Event, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, December 17, 2020 Article: Court Finds Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity in the Philippines, By Jason Gutierrez, The New York Times, December 15, 2020 Article: 2,596 Trades in One Term: Inside Senator Perdue’s Stock Portfolio, By Stephanie Saul, Kate Kelly and Michael LaForgia, The New York Times, December 2, 2020 Article: Africa: From caravan networks to investment projects, By Ahmet Kavas, Daily Sabah, November 25, 2020 Article: Ethiopia’s Problems Will Not End with a Military Victory, By Aly Verjee, United States Institute of Peace, November 24, 2020 Article: Tanzania: Repression Mars National Elections, Human Rights Watch, November 23, 2020 Article: DoD Policy Chief Quits As Leadership Vacuum Expands, By Paul McLeary, DefenseNews, November 10, 2020 Article: Biden landing team for Pentagon announced, By Aaron Mehta, DefenseNews, November 10, 2020 Article: Africa in the news: Unrest in Ethiopia, contentious elections results in Tanzania and Côte d’Ivoire, and a new UK-Kenya trade deal By Payce Madden, Brookings, November 7, 2020 Article: US doing its best to lock China out of Latin America By Vijay Prashad, Asia Times, November 4, 2020 Article: Ethiopia Proposes Holding Postponed Vote in May or June 2021: FANA By Addis Ababa, Reuters, October 30, 2020 Press Release: Crisis in Mali, By Alexis Arieff, Congressional Research Service, October 21, 2020 Article: América Crece: Washington's new investment push in Latin America By Jeff Abbott, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, October 8, 2020 Article: Ethiopian Region Holds Local Elections in Defiance of Prime Minister By Simon Marks and Abdi Latif Dahir, The New York Times, September 10, 2020 Article: IRI Expert Discusses COVID-19, Protecting Democracy in Europe and Protests in Belarus in Testimony to House Foreign Affairs Committee International Republican Institute, September 10, 2020 Article: Nile dam row: US cuts aid to Ethiopia, BBC News, September 3, 2020 Press Release: Belarus: An Overview, By Cory Welt, Congressional Research Service, August 24, 2020 Press Release: Rep. Omar Leads Letter to Condemn Trump Administration’s Plan to Invest in Controversial Projects in Honduras, Ilhan Omar, August 13, 2020 Article: China Dominates Bid for Africa’s Largest Dam in New Pact By Pauline Bax and Michael Kavanagh, Bloomberg Green, August 7, 2020 Article: Nile dam row: Egypt fumes as Ethiopia celebrates By Magdi Abdelhadi, BBC News, July 29, 2020 Article: Remarks by CEO Boehler at the América Crece Event With President Hernández of the Republic of Honduras U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, July 21, 2020 Article: Can Malian President Keita survive growing anti-gov’t protests? By Hamza Mohamed, Aljazeera, July 10, 2020 Article: Pundits with undisclosed funding from arms manufacturers urge ‘stronger force posture’ to counter China By Eli Clifton, Responsible Statecraft, May 14, 2020 Article: The Three Seas Initiative explained By David A. Wemer, Atlantic Council, February 11, 2020 Article: FORMER OBAMA OFFICIALS HELP SILICON VALLEY PITCH THE PENTAGON FOR LUCRATIVE DEFENSE CONTRACTS By Lee Fang, The Intercept, July 22, 2018 Article: Is John McCain's Pick to Lead the International Republican Institute a Strike Against Donald Trump? By Timothy J. Burger, Town & Country, August 10, 2017 Article: The River That Swallows All Dams By Charles Kenny and John Norris, Foreign Policy, May 8, 2015 Document: The Grand Inga Illusion By David Lunde, University of Denver, 2014 Article: Can DR Congo's Inga dam project power Africa? By Maud Jullien, BBC News, November 15, 2013 Article: A New Take on the 1961 Murder of Congo’s Leader By Slobodan Lekic, Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2006 Article: How Biden’s Foreign-Policy Team Got Rich By Jonathan Guyer, The American Prospect Article: Christopher Fomunyoh Grabs Man Of The Year Award By Bama Cham, Eden Newspaper Article: Reform in Ethiopia: Turning Promise into Progress, Yoseph Badwaza and Jon Temin, Freedom House Article: Beijing and Wall Street deepen ties despite geopolitical rivalry, Financial Times Article: THE HISTORY OF DR CONGO TIMELINE, Welcome to the Congo Reform Association Article: Business: The Big Dreamer, By LOUIS EDGAR DETWILER, TIME, August 01, 1960 Additional Resources About The Jamestown Foundation Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. African Union Alyssa Ayres Council on Foreign Relations DEREK MITCHELL National Democratic Institute Douglas Rutzen International Center for Not-For-Profit Law Daniel Serwer, LinkedIn Daniel Serwer, Middle East Institute Daniel Twining LinkedIn Dr. Daniel Twining International Republican Institute Elbridge Colby, LinkedIn Elbridge Colby, The Marathon Initiative Elbridge Colby, Senior Advisor, Westexec Advisors Employment Timeline: Albright, Madeleine K Eric Farnsworth, LinkedIn Eric Farnsworth Americas Society Council of the Americas Flagship Projects of Agenda 2063 African Union History: IDEA TO REALITY: NED AT 30 National Endowment for Democracy Investing in Development U.S. International Development Finance Corporation Jamie Fly The German Marshall Fund of the United States Jamie Fly U.S. Agency For Global Media Janusz Bugajski, The Jamestown Foundation Jon Temin Freedom House Joshua Meservey, LinkedIn Lauren Blanchard, LinkedIn Michael Camilleri, The Dialogue Mission Statement, Growth in the Americas Monica de Bolle International Capital Strategies Our Experienced Team McLarty Associates Philip Reeker, LinkedIn Summary: Albright Stonebridge Group Susan Stigant, United States Institute of Peace Team, The Beacon Project, October 2020 Team ALBRIGHT STONEBRIDGE GROUP Therese Pearce Laanela, Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance Yoseph Badwaza, Freedom House Sound Clip Sources Hearing: THE BALKANS: POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE NEXT ADMINISTRATION, Committee on Foreign Affairs, December 8, 2020 Watch on C-SPAN Watch on Youtube Witnesses: Madeleine Albright Chairman of the National Democratic Institute Chairman of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm Chairman of Albright Capital Management , an investment advisory firm Member of the Council on Foreign Relations 2003-2005: Member of the Board of Directors of the NYSE 1997-2001: Secretary of State 1978-1981: National Security Council Staff Daniel Serwer Director of American Foreign Policy and Conflict Management at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University Former Vice President at the US Institute of Peace Former Minister Counselor at the State Department during the Clinton years Janusz Bugajski Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation Former Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) Hosts a tv show in the Balkans Transcript: 40:03 Rep. Eliot Engel (NY): Serbia has been importing Russian fighters and tanks and conducting military exercises with the Russian Army. A US Defense Department report told us that Belgrade's drift towards Moscow has mostly occurred since President Vučić took power. The same time democratic space in Serbia has shrunk in recent years. Freedom House describes Serbia as a, 'hybrid regime', not a democracy because of declining standards in governance, justice, elections and media freedom. If Serbia wants to become part of the European Union, and the North Atlantic family of nations, it needs to get off the fence and embrace a Western path. 56:17 Madeleine Albright: As you know, Mr. Chairman, the President Elect has been personally engaged in the Balkans since his time in the Senate. And he was one of the most outspoken leaders in Congress calling for the United States to help end the complex and I was honored to work closely with him throughout my time in office. And I know that he understands the region and its importance for the United States. The national security team that President Elect Biden is putting in place is deeply knowledgeable and committed to helping all the countries of the region move forward as part of a Europe that is whole free and at peace. And that's important, because today this vision is in peril. The nations of the Western Balkans are suffering deeply from the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Corruption remains a serious problem, and nationalist leaders continue to stoke and exploit ethnic tensions. China and Russia are also exerting new influence in the region, with Serbia in particular the target of much anti Western propaganda. As the pandemic eases there will be an opportunity for the United States and Europe to help the region build back better, particularly as Western European countries seek to bring supply chains closer to home. And as new funds become available to invest in energy diversification and environmental protection. 59:36 Madeleine Albright: The answer is for the United States and the EU to work together to champion initiatives that help custom Bosnia and others build economic ties to Europe and the neighborhood while also pushing for needed political reforms. 1:00:00 Madeleine Albright: On Bosnia, the Dayton accords stopped a war and continue to keep the peace. But the governing arrangements are not captured by leaders among the three groups that negotiated the peace. They want to hold on to power even if it means holding their society back. While Bosnia is neighbors move toward EU membership, the United States and the European Union must focus their efforts in Bosnia on the abuse of government and state owned enterprises. Taking away the levers of power that keep the current system in place. 1:05:30 Daniel Serwer: Europe and the United States want a post state in Bosnia, they can qualify for EU membership. That Bosnia will be based not on ethnic power sharing, but rather on majorities of citizens electing their representatives. [?] entities as well as ethnic vetoes and restrictions we'll need to fade. the Americans and Europeans should welcome the prospect of a new Civic constitution. But no one outside Boston Herzegovina can reform its constitution, a popular movement is needed. The United States along with the Europeans needs to shield any popular movement from repression while starting the entities with funding and redirecting it to the central government and municipalities. 1:12:07 Janusz Bugajski: Moscow views Serbia in particular, and the Republic of Srpska in Bosnia as useful tools to subvert regional security and limit Western integration. 1:12:40 Janusz Bugajski: Western Balkan inclusion in the Three Seas Initiative and its North South transportation corridor will enhance economic performance and help provide alternatives to dependence on Russian energy and Chinese loans. 2:00:41: Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA): Why do you think longer term in the Balkans its Chinese influence we need to be focused on? Janusz Bugajski:Thank you very much for that question. Let me begin with why Russia is not a longer term danger. Russia is a country in serious decline, economic decline. Its economies size of a medium sized European state. China has the second largest economy in the world. Russia has internal problems with its nationalities with its regions, with increasing public unrest with increasing opposition to put in them even be power struggles during the succession period over the next four years, Russia faces major internal problems. China, on the other hand, unless of course, there is opposition to the Chinese Communist Party from within, is in a different stage. It continues to be a very dynamic country in terms of its economic growth. It doesn't face the sort of internal contradictions and conflicts that Russia does. And it's increasingly.. China's always looked at the longer term. In other words, they don't even have to look at succession cycles, because of the dominance of the Communist Party. They are looking eventually to replace Russia as the major rival of the United States. And the best way to do that is to increase their influence not only militarily in East Asia, South Asia and other parts of the world, but economically, politically, diplomatically, culturally, and through the media and that's precisely what they're doing, not only in Europe, but in other continents. 2:18:38 Madeleine Albright: I think that democracy and economic development go together also. Because as I put it, people want to vote and eat. Hearing: THE UNFOLDING CONFLICT IN ETHIOPIA, Committee on Foreign Affairs: Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, December 3, 2020 Watch on Youtube Witnesses: Yoseph Badwaza Senior Advisor for Africa at Freedom House Former Secretary General of Ethiopian Human Rights Council Susan Stigant Director of the Africa Program at the United States Institute of Peace Former program director at the National Democratic Institute, focused on South Sudan Tsedale Lemma Editor in Chief and Founder of Addis Standard Magazine Lauren Ploch Blanchard Specialist in African Affairs at the Congressional Research Service Former East Africa Program Manager at the International Republican Institute Transcript: 35:32 Yoseph Badwaza: The devastating developments of the past four weeks have brought inmeasurable human suffering and the destruction of livelihoods and appear to have returned to yet another protracted civil war and nearly 30 years after it emerged from its last. These tragic events have also dealt a deadly blow to what would have been one of the most consequential democratic transitions on the African continent. 37:09 Yoseph Badwaza: A series of missed opportunities in the last two and a half years led to the tragic derailment of a promising democratic experiment. A half hearted effort at implementing reforms by a ruling party establishment reluctant to shape its deeply authoritarian roots. Roots stands in the way of a genuine inclusive political process. Hearing: U.S. DEFENSE POSTURE CHANGES IN THE EUROPEAN THEATER, Committee on Armed Services, September 30, 2020 Watch on Youtube Witnesses: Dr. James Anderson Former Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense (resigned the day after Trump fired DoD Secretary Mark Esper) 2006-2009: Director of Middle East Policy for the Secretary of Defense 2001-2006 - Gap in LinkedIn resume 2000-2001: Associate at DFI International, a multinational consulting firm 1997-1999: Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation Lt. Gen David Allen: Director for Strategy, Plans, and Policy, Joint Chiefs of Staff Transcript: 17:14 Dr. James Anderson: As we continue to implement the NDS or efforts at enhancing our European posture beyond Eucom Combat Command Review, have shown recent successes, including the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with Poland in August that will enable an increased enduring US rotational presence in that country of about 1000 US military personnel. Hearing: DEMOCRATIC BACKSLIDING IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA, Committee on Foreign Affairs: Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, September 30, 2020 Watch on Youtube Witnesses: Christopher Fomunyoh Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs Has been at NDI since 1993 Has worked for the Cameroon Water Corporation and Cameroon Airlines Corporation Dorina A. Bekoe, PhD Research Staff Member at the Institute for Defense Analyses Jon Temin Director of the Africa Program at Freedom House Freedom House gets most of its funding from the National Endowment for Democracy 2014-2017: U.S. Department of State’s Policy Planning Staff Director of the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Africa Program Member of the Council on Foreign Relations Non-resident Senior Associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Joshua Meservey Senior Policy Analyst for Africa and the Middle East at the Heritage Foundation since 2015 Former Associate Director of the Atlantic Council Former Field Team Manager for the Church World Service Resettlement Support Center Former Volunteer with the US Peace Corps Former intern for the US Army Special Operations Command Former Loss Prevention Coordinator for Dollar Financial Corporation Transcript: 7:13 Rep. Chris Smith (NJ): I fear that 2020 may see an even greater decrease in democracy on the continent. Today's hearing is also timely, as elections are approaching next month in Tanzania and the Ivory Coast, both countries which appear to be on a downward trajectory in terms of governance and respect for civil and political rights. And I want to note that Chairwoman bass has introduced legislation with respect to Tanzania, and I'm very proud to be a co sponsor of it and I thank you for that leadership. 8:37 Rep. Chris Smith (NJ): For example, was quite obvious to outside observers in the DRC that the declared winner of the latest presidential election held in late 2018. Felix Tshisekedi received less votes than Martin Fayulu low because of a corrupt bargain between the outgoing strongman Joseph Kabila Tshisekedi. The Constitutional Court packed by Kabila declared him to be the winner. What happened next was troubling, as our State Department issued a statement that said and I quote, 'the United States welcomes the Congolese Constitutional Court certification of Felix Tshisekedi as the next president of the DRC,' which was apparently driven by a handful of diplomats, including our ambassador. 9:26 Rep. Chris Smith (NJ): Elections in Nigeria were first postponed by sitting President Buhari and marred by irregularities in advance of the election date, quitting arson attacks on the independent national Electoral Commission offices in opposition strongholds in Buhari's his removal of Supreme Court Justice Walter Onnoghen. 10:40 Rep. Chris Smith (NJ): Before Sudan is delisted as a state sponsor of terrorism, I also believe there must be justice for all victims of its past bad acts including the victims of 911, many of whom live in my home state of New Jersey and in my district. 14:44 Rep. Karen Bass (CA): Most concerning is the situation in Tanzania, which I recently addressed in House Resolution 1120 where current leadership is repressing the opposition and basic freedoms of expression and assembly in a blatant attempt to retain power. 15:00 Rep. Karen Bass (CA): We see similar patterns in Cote d'Ivoire as the executive branch legalizes the deviation in democratic institutions to codify non democratic actions. We have similar concerns about Guinea and are going to be very watchful of upcoming elections there. And in Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria and Somalia. 15:57 Rep. Karen Bass (CA): What concerns me most is the democratic backsliding is not limited to Africa and we seem to be in a place of retreat from democracy that I only hope is an anomaly. In Europe, we see the egregious behavior of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, who claimed success in a disputed August 9 election and sought support from extra national resources such as Russia to justify his claim to power. 17:28 Rep. Karen Bass (CA): President Duterte of the Philippines is accused of lawfare, or weaponizing the law to deter or defeat freedoms, personalities and establishments that promote human rights, press freedoms and the rule of law while also cracking down on individual freedoms. 24:39 Christopher Fomunyoh: NDI has over three decades of technical assistance to and support for democratic institutions and processes in Africa and currently runs active programs in 20 countries. 26:09 Christopher Fomunyoh: Notably, West Africa, previously commanded as a trailblazer region has seen serious backsliding, as Mali experienced a military coup, and major controversies have arisen about candidacies of incumbent presidents in Guinea, Conakry and Cote d'Ivoire. The Central Africa region remains stocked with the three with the highest concentration of autocratic regimes with the three longest serving presidents in the world. In that sub region, notably Equatorial Guinea forty one years, Cameroon 38 years, and Congo Brazzaville 38 years. 26:50 Christopher Fomunyoh: In southern and East Africa, continued persecution of political opposition and civil society activists in Zimbabwe and similar worrying signs or patterns in Tanzania since 2016 seriously diminished citizen participation in politics and governance and also stand my prospects for much needed reforms. 31:31 Dorina A. Bekoe: Mali's 2012 coup took place even though there was a regularly scheduled election just one month away. And the coup in August of this year took place despite the fact that in 2018 there was a presidential election and last year there were legislative elections. 38:44 Jon Temin: The United States should consider changes to term and age limits that allow incumbent leaders to extend their time in office as essentially a coup against the constitution and respond accordingly. These moves by leaders who have already served two terms are an usurpation of power, that deny the country and its citizens the many benefits of leadership rotation. 40:07 Jon Temin: In Sudan the long overdue process of removing the country from the list of state sponsors of terrorism may soon conclude, but that is not enough. The United States needs to support the civilian component of Sudan's transitional government at every step of the long road toward democracy and do all that it can to revive Sudan's economy. 40:25 Jon Temin: In Ethiopia, there are deeply concerning signs that the government is reaching for tools of repression that many hoped were relegated to history. Nonetheless, Ethiopia remains on a tentative path to democratic elections that can be transformative. In this context, the decision by the United States to withhold development assistance from Ethiopia in a quixotic and counterproductive effort to influence Ethiopia's negotiating position concerning the grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is bad policy that should be reversed. 41:00 Jon Temin: Nascent democratic transitions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Gambia and Angola also call for strong US support. 1:10:21 Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN): I want to start with Dr. Fomunyoh. In your testimony you discuss the massacres committed in the Anglophone region of Cameroon. Did the United States provide training funding or arms to the Cameroonian security forces who committed those massacres? 1:12:20 Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN): Did the Millennium military officers who led the recent coup [??] receive US military training? And if you can just say yes or no, because I have a few more questions and we have limited time. 1:29:23 Jon Temin: Freedom in the world, which we do every year rates every country in the world that includes the United States, the United States score was decreasing before this administration, we have seen a slow slippage of democracy in America for some time, rating based on our scores. That decrease has accelerated under this administration. 1:30:00 Jon Temin: I think part of it has to do with freedom for journalists. I believe there's been some concern there. Part of it has to do with corruption and some of the indications that we've seen of corrupt activity within government. I'll leave it there. We're happy to go dig into that and provide you more detail. And I'm sure that when we look at the scores again later this year, there will be a robust conversation on the United States. Hearing: THE ROLE OF ALLIES AND PARTNERS IN U.S. MILITARY STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS, Committee on Armed Services, September 23, 2020 Watch on Youtube Witnesses: Christine Wormuth On Joe Biden's presidential transition team 2018- present: Director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation 2017-2018: Founding Director of the Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience at the Atlantic Council 2017-2018: Senior Advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies 2010-2014: Various DoD positions, rising to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy 2004-2009: Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies 2002-2004: Principal at DFI Government Services, an international defense consulting firm Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges Center for European Policy Analysis Board of Advisors for the Spirit of America (not listed on hearing bio) Board of Directors is made up of CEOs of mulitnational corporations Board of Advisors is full of corporate titans and big names, including Michelle Flournoy, Jeh Johnson, Kimberly Kagan, Jack Keane, James Mattis, Stanley McChrystal, H.R. McMaster, & George Shultz 2014-2017: Commanding General of the US Army in Europe Elbridge Colby Principal and co-Founder of the Marathon Initiative Formed in May 2020 Senior Advisor to WestExec Advisors (not listed on hearing bio) Co-Founded by incoming Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Michelle Flournoy, who told the Intercept in 2018, "we help tech firms who are trying to figure out how to sell in the public sector space, to navigate the DOD, the intel community, law enforcement." 2018-2019: Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security Northrup Grumman is one of its biggest donors, also gets funding from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Boeing, and DynCorp. 2017-2018: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development Lead official in the creation of the 2018 National Defense Strategy 2010-2017: Center for a New American Security GWB administration (not listed on his LinkedIn) 2005-2006: worked with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence 2004-2005: President GWB's WMD Commission 2003: worked with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq Transcript: 17:14 20:08 Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges: Second point of emphasis requires us to place importance on the greater Black Sea where. I believe the great power competition prevents great power conflict, failure to compete and to demonstrate interest and willingness to protect those interests in all domains, power vacuums and miscalculations which can lead to escalation and to actual conflict. This is particularly true in the greater Black Sea region, where Russia is attempting to maximize its sphere of influence. The Black Sea region should be the place where the United States and our NATO allies and partners hold the line. The Black Sea should matter to the west in part because it [was to the Kremlin.] taking the initiative away from the Kremlin denies the ability to support the Assad regime in Syria and then to live will reduce the flow of rich into Europe, or General Breedlove called the weaponization of refugee. Limit the Kremlin's ability to spread his thoughts of influence in the Balkans which is the Middle East and North Africa. 21:28 Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges: We must repair the relationship between Turkey and the United States. And see Turkey [?] as an exposed ally at the crossroads of several regions and challenges. Turkey is essential for deterrence of the Kremlin in the Black Sea region. And it is a critical both against ISIS and Iran we need to consider this relationship to be a priority, [but] condone or excuse several mistakes or bad choices about the Turkish Government. There are times are very quiet, but we think long term. The current Turkish administration will eventually change. But the strategically important geography of Turkey will never change. 23:31 Elbridge Colby: Allies and partners are absolutely essential for the United States in a world increasingly defined by great power competition, above all with China. Indeed, they lie at the very heart of the right US strategy for this era, which I believe the Department of Defense's 2018 National Defense Strategy lays out. The importance to the United States of allies and partners is not a platitude, but the contrary. For the first time since the 19th century, the United States is not far and away the world's largest economy. More than anything else, this is due to the rise of China. And that has become very evident. Beijing is increasingly using its growing power for coercive purposes. 24:08 Elbridge Colby: United States faces a range of other potential threats, including primarily from Russia against NATO, as well as from transnational terrorists, Iran and North Korea. In other words, there exists multiple challenges to US national security interests. Given their breadth and scope, America can no longer expect to take care of them essentially alone. Accordingly, we must address this widening shortfall between the threats we face and the resources we have to deal with them by a much greater role for allies and partners. 24:59 Elbridge Colby: Because of China's power and wealth, the United States simply must play a leading role in blocking Beijing's pursuit of hegemony in Asia. This means that the US defense establishment must prioritize dealing with China and Asia and particularly vulnerable allies and partners such as Taiwan and the Philippines. 25:24 Elbridge Colby: In particular, we will not be able to dedicate the level of resources and effort to the Middle East and Europe that we have in the past. We will therefore need allied partners to do their part not just to help defend our interests and enable a concentration on Asia but to defend themselves and their interests. 26:00 Elbridge Colby: The contemporary threats to us interest stem from China across Asia. Transnational terrorists largely in the Middle East, Russia and Eastern Europe, Persian Gulf area and North Korea in Asia. 26:11 Elbridge Colby: Yet the United States is traditional, closest and most significant allies are largely clustered in Western Europe in Northeast Asia. Many of these countries, especially Europe feel quite secure and are little motivated to contribute to more distant threats. This leaves wide areas such as South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East, for which long standing US alliances are of minimal help. The natural way to rectify this is for the United States to add partners and form necessary alliances to help address these gaps. 35:13 Elbridge Colby: In this effort, though, we should be very careful to distinguish between expanding our formal alliances or [?] alliances from expanding our partnerships, the former should be approached derivatively while the latter can be approached more liberally, when we extend an alliance commitment or something tantamount to it as in the case of Taiwan, we tie our credibility to that nation's fate. We should therefore be [cheery] about doings. In light of this, we should seek to expand our partnerships wherever possible. In particular, we should focus on increasing them in South and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, where China otherwise might have an open field to [subordances] and add them to its pro hegemonium coalition. 27:41 Elbridge Colby: I do not see a near term need to add any allies to the US roster. But I do think we will increasingly need to consider this as the shadow of Chinese power darkens over the region. 27:53 Elbridge Colby: Our effort to expand our network of allies and partners should really be focused on states with shared threat perceptions. It has become something of a common place that shared values form the bedrock of our alliances. It is true that such values help allies, but the most useful alliances generally proceed from shared fears. The best motivator to fight is self defense. The states that have a shared interest in preventing Chinese or Russian or Iranian hegemony selves have a natural alignment with our own. This is true whether or not they are democracies. 29:00 Elbridge Colby: In Asia, given the scale proposed by Beijing, we should concentrate most of our allies like Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan on readying to defend themselves alongside US Armed Forces and provide access to US forces in the event of a contingency. 29:16 Elbridge Colby: Meanwhile, we should assist partners like Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, with whatever means available to enable their defense against an ever more powerful China while concurrently seeking greater access and logistics support for US and other allied forces. 29:39 Elbridge Colby: Europe Finally, the overall us goal should be while preserving the fundamental us commitment to NATO's defense to have Europeans especially in northern and eastern Europe shoulder more of the burden of defending the Alliance from Russia assault. The reality is that given the stakes and consequences, the United States must prioritize Asia. United States must therefore economize in its second theater Europe. 35:13 Elbridge Colby: And move away from using these tools as leverage for key partners for domestic political reform or secondary geopolitical objectives. United States should always of course, stand proudly for free government that treats its people with dignity. We must keep our eye on the prize though China is the primary challenge to our interest in the world, including our government, both at home and abroad. Our top priority must therefore be to block its gaining predominance in Asia, which is a very real prospect. This means strengthening states in the region against Chinese power, whether or not they are model democracies. 35:15 Rep. Adam Smith (WA): When we should we just say, look, we're not going to worry about your domestic politics. We want to build the Alliance, however possible. How would we deal with extreme human rights abuses, as are alleged in the Philippines in terms of extra judicial killings, or in the case of India, and of course, we're dealing with this with Turkey and Europe as well, as you know, doing the arm sales with Russia, should we significantly back off on our sort of sanctions policy for those things? And if so, how do we signal that without without undermining our credibility? 40:55 Elbridge Colby: In a sense, what we're going to need to do to leverage this greater power of this network, you know, allies, partners, whatever their role is going to be interoperability, the ability to work to different standards to communicate with each other. That's partially a technical problem and an equipment problem, but a lot of it is human training and an organizational issue. And Taiwan, I think I'm very enthusiastic about the arms sales to Taiwan. And I know that one was recently reported, I hope it goes through because it's the kind of equipment that we want to see this kind of A2AD denial kind of capabilities to Taiwan, but actually, where I think would be really valuable to move forward with. And that's a sensitive issue, but I think this would be within the context of our trade policy would personally be on training, you know, and that's something we could think about with Vietnam as well. Obviously, the Indians have a very sophisticated military, but they're maybe we can offer there too. So I think that's a real sort of force multiplier. 42:00 Rep. Mac Thornberry (TX): Turkeys geography, history, critical role is always going to be important is certainly valid. And yet, not only are there human rights and governance issues, the current leader of Turkey has policies that contradict the, in many ways the best interests of the United States. So, take that specific example. We don't want to make enemies of Turkey forever. But yet, what do we do now? To to preserve that future when there's a different government, but yet make clear or in some way help guide them on a better policy path? 57:50 Christine Wormuth: We need to make adjustments to our posture in the region to be able to better deal with China. And so the announcement by Palau, for example, that it's willing to host US airfields and bases could be quite helpful to us. Even though they're relatively small. We do need to diversify our footprint. 1:24:52 Christine Wormuth: The challenge is that the many of the countries in the indo Pacific don't want to have to choose between the United States and China. They want to engage with China for very clear economic interests, while most of them lean towards the United States for security interests, and I think they're trying to sort of thread that needle. 1:32:07 Christine Wormuth: Turkey is a very challenging geostrategic problem. I was in the Obama administration when we were fighting ISIS, and we knew there was tension between the necessity to have partners on the ground and the Syrian Democratic Forces were what we had. We knew Turkey had issues with that. In my experience, however, the United States worked very hard and very closely with Turkey to try to assuage their concerns and nothing was ever enough for them. So we do have a challenge, they are very important in terms of where they are located, but the authoritarianism that Erdogan has turned to is concerning. So I think we have to keep the dialogue open and continue to try to keep turkey inside the fold, but at the same time, communicate that doing whatever they want is not acceptable. And the the S400 for example, is a key example of that. 1:34:07 Christine Wormuth: AFRICOM’s Zero Based review, I hope will shed light on which kinds of activities are helping us and helping our African partners. 1:35:36 Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges: The UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain all have extensive efforts going on in Africa. So this is an opportunity once again, where we can work with allies to achieve what our objectives are. 1:40:00 Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges: What for sure brings a lot of military capability air landed forces to the a lot and that if for some reason, you know that it would have to be filled by us or the state or other allied to then that's a problem right? Sorry. But more importantly is control the strokes that can help the blacks in the Mediterranean. And so having a NATO ally has control and sovereignty over the strait we have the mantra. Hearing: Stemming a Receding Tide: Human Rights and Democratic Values in Asia, Committee on Foreign Affairs: Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, September 22, 2020 Watch on Youtube Witnesses: Derek Mitchell President of the National Democratic Institute Returned to NDI in September 2018 after leaving in 1997 2012-2016: Former US Ambassador to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma) 2011-2012: U.S. Department of State’s first Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma 2009-2011: Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs (APSA) 2001-2009: Senior Fellow and Director of the Asia Division of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) 1997-2001: Special Assistant for Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense 1993-1997: Senior Program Officer for Asia and the former Soviet Union at the National Democratic Institute 1986-1988: Foreign policy assistant for Sen. Ted Kennedy Dr. Alyssa Ayres Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations Consultant for the Japan Bank for International Cooperation Senior Advisor for McLarty Associates A global consultant firm "at home in corporate board rooms & government cabinet rooms, anywhere in the world" Member of the United States Institute of Peace 2010-2013: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia 2008-2010: Founding director of the India and South Asia practice at McLarty Asssociates 2007-2008: Special Assistant to the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Daniel Twining President of the International Republican Institute since 2017 Picked by outgoing President, Sen. John McCain 2009-2016: Former director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund 2007-2009: GWB State Department Policy Planning staffer 2001-2004: Foreign Policy Advisor to Sen. John McCain Transcript: 16:12 Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges: Last year I introduced the bipartisan Cambodia democracy act which passed the House overwhelmingly, it would impose sanctions on those in Cambodia responsible for undermining democratic rule of law in the country. We must be especially cognizant of democracies in Asia in danger of backsliding into autocracy, with China's help with their alternative to Western democracies, and that is Chinese socialism with Chinese characteristics that is communism, regardless of how they paint it and try to rename it. 21:10 Derek Mitchell: For nearly four decades, my organization, the National Democratic Institute, working alongside our partners at the International Republican Institute, and the National Endowment for Democracy has assisted the spread and institutionalization of democracy around the world. Let me say at the start that we can only do this work thanks to the sustained bipartisan support of Congress, including from this subcommittee. So for that we are truly grateful. 21:50 Derek Mitchell: Today NDI maintains nearly a dozen offices in the Indo-Pacific region. And last week we just received clearance from the Taiwan government to open an office in Taipei, which we will do soon. 30:07 Dr. Alyssa Ayres: Sri Lanka after a five year period of improvement is now moving in the other direction with the return of the Rajapaksa government. The new political configuration will not pursue progress on reconciliation and accountability for the end of the Civil War, and the newly elected parliament is already hard at work, the constitutional amendment to expand presidential powers. 34:21 Daniel Twining: Beyond China the past year has seen countries once viewed as bright spots for democracy like Malaysia and Sri Lanka, regress due to political infighting, personality politics and failure to deliver promised reforms. 1:48:50 Dr. Alyssa Ayres: I do believe that the creation of the DFC is important. It is my understanding that it is not quite up and running 100%. So we have yet to really see what it can do as a potential alternate to these kinds of infrastructure under writings. The other piece of the DFC is that is it in part designed to help crowd in private sector engagement and private sector investments. So that's another part of the story. I think we may need more time before we're able to see how effective this mechanism can be. 1:49:22 Dr. Alyssa Ayres: I would note that we also had another very effective source of US government assistance that depends on, his premise on good governance indicators. And that's the Millennium Challenge Corporation. And I would just caution that in the South Asia region, we have now seen two examples in Nepal and in Sri Lanka, were the long process of engaging toward a Millennium Challenge compact agreement, large investments, about 500 million in each case towards transportation and power infrastructure. These have actually been held up in both of those countries because of political concerns. The Nepali government doesn't want to be part of the US-Indo Pacific strategy or feel that it is somehow being brought into the Indo-Pacific strategy. The Rajapaksa government is suspicious of the US MCC. So I would just offer those two examples of cases where we've got a terrific tool, but it's run into some challenges for political reasons and the countries of concern. 1:50:29 Daniel Twining: Thank you, Congressman, you've been such a leader, including with your Cambodia democracy act. And you know, that's a reminder that we do have the tools and, and leverage. The Europeans in Cambodia have suspended trading privileges that they had offered to Cambodia. Cambodia is very reliant on our GSP still. So some of these economic instruments matter in both a negative sense, but also in a positive sense. When countries do well, we should be working with them on new trade and financial arrangements, the Chinese do come in and do this in their own way. And we should get back to that as a country. Sir, you mentioned, do we withdraw support when a country backslides, on democracy? You know, I would argue that most of our support for country should not go directly to their governments, should go to independent civil society, free media, independent institutions and not just go into a central coffer that disappears. In the past, we've gotten a lot smarter about this as a country, but in the past, a lot of us development assistance disappeared because we were giving it to friendly autocracies in some cases, who did not have any means of accounting for it. So let's make sure that we invest in these democracy and governance instruments because we want to make sure that US taxpayer money is being used well. Hearing: U.S. ENGAGEMENT IN THE INDO-PACIFIC AND BEYOND, Committee on Foreign Relations, September 17, 2017 Watch on C-SPAN Read Transcript Witnesses: Julie Chung Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the State Department Philip T. Reeker 2019 to present: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs 2017-2019: Civilian Deputy to the Commander of the US European Command 2014-2017:Principal Officer and Consul General at the US Consulate General in Milan, Italy 2011-2014: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State fo rEuropean and Eurasian Affairs 2008-2011: US Ambassador to Macedonia 2007-2008: Counselor of Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Iraq 2004-2007: Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Hungary 1999-2004: Spokesman for the US State Dept David R. Stilwell Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department Transcript: 17:44 David R. Stilwell: For years, we in the international community credited Beijing's commitments that facilitating China's entry into the rules based international order would lead to increasing domestic reform and opening. Beijing's persistent flouting of these commitments has shattered those illusions. It is now clear to us and to more and more countries around the world that PRC foreign and security policy seeks to reshape the international environment around the narrow interests and authoritarian values of a single beneficiary. That is the Chinese Communist Party. 22:19 David R. Stilwell: We sincerely appreciate congressional leadership in establishing the new counter China influence fund in fiscal year 2020 Appropriations Bill. This very important provision provides the department with a flexible mechanism that will bolster our efforts to strengthen our partners resiliency to Chinese malign influence worldwide. The initial round of CCIF funding solicitation resulted in over 400 project submissions from around the globe, with demand far outstripping the appropriate funding. 29:57 Philip T. Reeker: By using platforms like the One Belt One Road initiative, the Chinese Communist Party endeavors to create dependencies and cultivate client state relationships through the 17 Plus One initiative which involves 12 countries that are both NATO and EU members primarily in Central and Eastern Europe, China aims to achieve access and ownership over valuable transportation hubs, critical infrastructure, ports and industries. 31:09 Philip T. Reeker: Using authorities granted by legislation members of this committee introduced, as mentioned the bipartisan Build Act and the European Energy Security and Diversification Act, we've been able to begin leveraging the New Development Finance Corporation to try to catalyze key investments in strategic projects. Most notable I'd point to Secretary Pompeo. His pledge at the Munich Security Conference earlier this year of $1 billion, a commitment to the Three Seas Initiative in the Czech Republic which Secretary Pompeo visited just last month, they have transformed from a target of Chinese influence to a leader in the European awakening. 33:29 Philip T. Reeker: Although China's GDP is about eight times the size of Russia's, Russia remains the primary military threat to Europe and the strategic priority for most of our allies and partners, particularly those in Central and Eastern Europe. Russia and China are more closely aligned strategically than at any point since the 1950s. And we see growing cooperation across a range of diplomatic, military, economic and information activities. 46:15 Julie Chung: In terms of [cepheus], and investment screening, we have extensive engagements in the region. We have been sending technical delegations to countries in the region to explain how public procurement processes and transparent processes work. We have helped governments build that capacity through the America Crece initiative. We have 10 mo use now signed with countries throughout the region. And that's part of the the tool to use in addressing the corruption issues that China is bringing to the region. How do we ensure the countries have the right tools in place, the practices in place, the procurement practices and regulatory framework to the private sector companies want to come and invest in those countries and ensure they have a level playing field to be working through the America Crece initiative. 47:17 Julie Chung: DFC has been a wonderful tool and resource that we've been able to now utilize more than ever, in from the former OPEX utilities, not expanding that broader base in Latin America and the Caribbean. So DFC in our region has already invested and has pledged to invest $12 billion in just the Western Hemisphere alone, and in Central America, $3 billion. So it's already invested in Central America, in El Salvador, for instance, on an LNG project, and other projects that are forthcoming. 1:17:16 Philip T. Reeker: Three Seas Initiative was developed by countries dozen countries in the Central and Eastern European region to provide alternatives particularly in a north-south direction for trade and infrastructure, and we have stepped in to support the Three Seas not as a member, but as an interested partner. And Secretary Pompeo outlined, as I mentioned, that the development Finance Corporation is offering up to a billion dollars in matching investment funds for opportunities throughout that region. 1:35:00 Julie Chung: Taiwan and the United States are working together in Latin America. So they announced financing to provide SME loan support for Latin American Central American region through the kabe. The Central American Bank of Government Integration. So that's one example of where we're providing that funding into the region. There's also a $26 million loan that DFCS provided to provide telecom towers in Peru and Ecuador 500 telecom towers, and this addresses both our strategic interest as well as a 5G telecommunications interest that where China is trying to take over and really control that that sector. 1:50:29 Julie Chung: In terms of DFC and working on digital authoritarianism, there's no better example in the region then in Maduro's regime, the authoritarian regime of Maduro and working in close concert with China, and China's ZTE has long had a relationship with the Maduro regime and providing the carnet de patria which spies on civil society and opposition leaders and determines how who gets what food allocations within that country. And so right now, of course, we are not engaging in DFC in Venezuela. But in a democratic future. When we have a democratic transition in that country. We would love to bring DFC into it and help rebuild. Hearing: THE HEALTH, ECONOMIC, AND POLITICAL CHALLENGES FACING LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN, Committee on Foreign Affairs: Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade, September 15, 2020 Watch on Youtube Witnesses: Monica de Bolle, PhD Professor of Latin American Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics Senior Advisor with International Capital Strategies (not listed on her hearing bio) Former professor of macroeconomics at the Pontifical Catholic Universtiy of Rio de Janeiro Managing partner of Galanto MBB Consultants, a macroeconomic consultancy firm based in Brazil Former economist at the International Monetary Fund Michael Camilleri Director of the Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program for Inter-American Dialogue Senior Advisor at WestExec Advisors since February 2018 (not listed on his hearing bio) The firm founded by the incoming Secretary of State, Antony Blinken Former Western Hemisphere adviser on Obama's Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff and Director for Andean Affairs at the National Security Council from 2012-2017 Former human rights specialist at the Organization of American States Former senior staff attorney at the Center for Justice and International Law Member of the Council on Foreign Relations Eric Farnsworth Vice President of the Council of the Americas since 2003 Former Managing Director of ManattJones Global Strategies, a consulting firm from 1998-2005 Former member of the global public policy division of Bristol-Meyers Squibb, a multinational pharmaceutical company Former Senior Policy Advisor to President Bill Clinton from 1995-1998 Former Foreign Affairs Officer at the State Department from 1990-1995 Former Services and Investment Industry Analyst at the Office of the US Trade Representatives in 1992 Transcript: 25:10 Rep. Francis Rooney (FL): US international development Finance Corporation will play a crucial role in investments in the region, which I believe can help the recovery and also as long term economic well being 2:08:13 Eric Farnsworth: Notably, Washington is taking actions to build a forward looking economic recovery agenda. Among them the Americas Crece, a program announced at the end of 2019 and enhanced financing facilities through the newly minted Development Finance Corporation. 2:09:21 Eric Farnsworth: Economic Recovery must be at the forefront of the pending summit of the Americas. Latin America already suffers from one of the lowest levels of intra regional trade worldwide, for example. The gains from expanded intra regional trade would establish sounder economic footing while helping to moderate the cyclical nature of commodities markets, as well. Nations across Latin America and the Caribbean can focus more attention on improving their respective investment climates. Mr. Rooney, the ranking minority member has made this case effectively many, many times. For its part, the United States should come to the 2021 summit with a robust economic expansion initiative. Absent a massive economic financial package of debt relief and new lending, renewal of a hemispheric trade and investment agenda will be the best way to promote regional recovery, support US and regional economic interests and renew a regional strategic posture that China has begun to challenge. 2:11:03 Julie Chung: So how does the United States continue to advocate democracy in Venezuela? I say sham of legislative election and the end of Guaido's mandate are rapidly approaching. How do we do that? Well, I don't if know if [inaudible] wanted this question. 2:13:03 Eric Farnsworth: There are huge amounts of illicit money being made and moved in Venezuela through illegal activities, illegal gold mining, drug trafficking and the like. And one of the best ways I think to get at the regime is to stanch the flow of those financial resources. And frankly, to identify and to freeze those funds and then also to begin to seize them and take them back at once the economic incentives for illegal behavior are removed or at least reduced, perhaps the political dynamic in Venezuela will change that people will begin to see that they really have to find a way out from this mess frankly, that Nicolas Maduro has created. 2:14:14 Monica de Bolle, PhD: It will be very hard to get other Latin American countries to focus on the issues in Venezuela given that they have runaway epidemics in their own countries. And we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that amongst the 10 countries that have the largest or the highest per capita death rate in the world right now are all in Latin America. 2:16:00 Michael Camilleri: Unfortunately, the Guaido interim government, the the National Assembly, the G4 are not in the same position they were in a year or your half ago, the balance of forces on the ground in Venezuela has tilted in favor of the Maduro regime. And so that will that will require us to calibrate our own efforts and invite view we need to be realistic about the fact that some sort of negotiated pathway to free and fair elections ultimately is the most realistic and the most peaceful, frankly, path out of the the awful situation that the country finds itself in. 2:23:21 Monica de Bolle, PhD: Apart from corruption, which is certainly a problem in the oil sector as well as in other parts of the Venezuelan economy, there's also been dramatic underinvestment in the oil industry, which has now led the country to this situation where, rather than being a very big net oil exporter, as they used to be in the 1980s in the 1990s, they've now become a net oil importer, which shows exactly how much you can squander your country's resources and just basically run an economy to the ground. 2:33:58 Eric Farnsworth: And what we're seeing is some concern in the investor community about actions that have been taken perhaps on the backtracking on the reform agenda around energy in particular, but in other sectors as well, canceling contracts that have been previously agreed, and some other actions like that and the investment community is very cautious. Hearing: PROTECTING DEMOCRACY DURING COVID–19 IN EUROPE AND EURASIA AND THE DEMOCRATIC AWAKENING IN BELARUS, Committee on Foreign Affairs: Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment, September 10, 2020 Watch on Youtube Witnesses: Douglas Rutzen President and CEO of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Professor at Georgetown University Law Center Advisory Board member of the United Nations Democracy Fund Therese Pearce Laanela Head of Electoral Processes at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance Joanna Rohozinska Resident Program Director for Europe at the Beacon Project at the International Republican Institute Senior program officer for Europe at the National Endowment for Democracy at least as of 2019. She has worked there for about a decade Jamie Fly Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund and Co-Director of the Alliance for Security Democracy Senior Advisor to WestExec Advisors Co-founded by incoming Secretary of State, Antony Blinken Former President and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in 2019 & 2020 Former counselor for foreign and national security affairs for Sen. Marco Rubio from 2013-2017 Former Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative from 2009-2013 Former member of GWB's National Security Council from 2008-2009 Former member of GWB's Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2005-2008 Transcript: 53:30 Joanna Rohozinska: Lukshenko must be held responsible for his choices and actions. Word mating strategies with transatlantic allies should be priority and to call for dialogue, immediate release of political prisoners and support for the political opposition's demands for holding elections under international supervision and beginning negotiations on a Lukshenko transition. 53:56 Joanna Rohozinska: Support for democracy requires patience as well as long term commitment and vision. This has been made possible with the support of Congress to IRI and the family. Thank you and I look forward to your questions. 1:03:05 Therese Pearce Laanela: Institutions that are as strong...What we are seeing... those that are able to safeguard and against disinformation for example, they are working in innovative ways because this isn't a challenge that existed really as much before social media and one of the things that we're seeing is a kind of interagency cooperation, a partnership between private and public. That's really hasn't been seen before. Let me just take Australia as a case, but the working together with social media companies and government agencies and security agencies and election officials for rapid reaction to anything that comes in and that kind of seamless communication between agencies, that is one of the ways in which we can protect. 1:04:15 Jamie Fly: We have tools. Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty has a Bella Russian language service Radio Svoboda which has significant of followers inside Belarus. The problem is that Lukashenko like many other authoritarians have realized that when they face significant pressure, they should take the country offline. And Belarusian authorities have done that on a regular basis, which makes it much more difficult to communicate and allow information to spread freely. So what they really need outlets like Svoboda and other independent media are access to internet circumvention tools, which are also funded by the State Department and the US Agency for Global Media. 1:09:57 Douglas Rutzen: China is providing surveillance technology to countries including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Serbia. They also provided a $2 billion dollar loan to Hungry to construct a railway which Hungry then classified as a state secret in terms of the construction. 1:19:28 Brian Fitzpatrick: In 2013, in 2000, and he saw large scale protests in Ukraine, following what many believed to be a falsification of elections by their federal officials. So my first question for the entire panel, do you believe that Belarus protests could lead to a revolution similar to the one we saw in Ukraine and secondarily, on Tuesday, President Lukashenko, refused to rule out the idea of holding new elections, and acknowledge that he may have overstayed his time at office, whether or not you see revolutions similar to Ukraine, do you think that these protests could lead to an actual change in leadership? Joanna Rohozinska: So I take it as a question to me. I mean, I think that things have been building up and I would say that with this similarity to Ukraine was that there was also a deep seated frustration with corruption. Here, it's less about corruption. But it's still meets, where you have the accountability and transparency aspect of it that I was mentioning in my testimony. And I think that the frustration with the lack of responsive government and being treated like animals, frankly, is what they say, is what finally boiled over, but there's been, there's been an uptick in protests in Belarus, if you watch these kinds of things over the past two years, over the parasite tax, for example, which was also was a special tax that was put on unemployment, and on to penalize people who are unemployed, is trying to target civic activists, but it ended up reaching far farther than that. So you can see things percolating below the surface for quite a long time. Now. You never know when it's going to blow. Here, I think that there was just the COVID, underlay everything and it mobilized such a broad swath of society, that the trigger event was finally the elections, which again, demonstrating a degree of hubris they decided not to put off right, they figured that holding the elections at the beginning of August was the best thing to do, because there is always a low torque turnout and all this, frankly, because people tend to go out to the countryside. So they simply miscalculated. They did not understand how the people were feeling. And here, you do have a similarity with Ukraine, I think. And in terms of in terms of the other questions to going forward? No, you have to appreciate that this is a country that's never experienced democracy ever. Which means that even the democratic opposition leaders basically know it from textbooks, they don't know what from firsthand practice. And, Lukashenko himself, ironically, has been supporting the notion of sovereignty and independence in the face of the Russian state for the past couple of years. And he only changed his tune a couple of weeks ago, when he started getting backed into a corner. And in terms of, you know, his promises and calling new elections, I would be wary. He does not have a particularly good track record of following through on promises. And so I would probably take that as a lesson learned and be extremely cautious. I personally think he's just buying time. Because he also said that he would consider holding the elections after introducing constitutional changes and the constitutional changes that he's proposing is to introduce term limits. So I mean, he's still looking at the succession. He understands that this is the end of his time in office. I don't know if he wants to do that right, exactly now, however, understanding that this would have been his last term anyways, you're probably preparing for an exit strategy. 1:23:00 Joanna Rohozinska: I would certainly invest in looking at quality early parliamentary elections as being much more significant. Because once you turn the house, once you turn the parliament and then at least you start building up a degree of political capital that can start carrying forward into into the governance. 1:52:37 Therese Pearce Laanela: Your people are excellent. I really want to say that I'm calling in from Sweden. I'm not American myself. But I have worked in this business for 28 years working in different countries in really tough situations. And some of the best experts out there are from organizations that are very close to those of you when you're normally working in Washington. So the United Nations as well based in New York, but also organizations like IFIS, NDI, our colleagues from IRI they are doing excellent work supported by USA ID. So and they've kind of got it figured out how to support institutions for the long term, so you can trust the people that you are supporting. Hearing: U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS AND ITS IMPACT ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE IN A POST–COVID WORLD, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, July 1, 2020 Watch on Youtube Witnesses: Dr. Tanvi Madan – Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, The Brookings Institution Dr. Evan Medeiros – Penner Family Chair in Asian Studies and Cling Family Distinguished Fellow, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University Mr. Orville Schell – Arthur Ross Director, Center on US-China Relations, Asia Society Ms. Meredith Sumpter 2020 October: Hired as the CEO of the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican 2017-2020: Head of Research Strategy and Operations, Eurasia Group 2014-2016: Director at multinational consulting firm BowerGroup Asia Transcript: 55:45 Ms. Meredith Sumpter: Beijing decision makers believe that their state directed economic system is the foundation of the livelihood of their political system. In other words, we have been spending our energies trying to force China to change and China is not willing to change an economic model that it believes underpins its political longevity. Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)