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Senators Shaheen And Hassan Take To The Senate Floor To Oppose EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor today in opposition of Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s nominee to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shaheen voiced her concerns about Pruitt’s record as Attorney General of Oklahoma, including his many lawsuits in favor of the oil and gas companies, and his outspoken position denying climate change, which puts him at odds with the mission of the EPA. “Mr. Pruitt has been nominated not to lead the EPA forward, but to prevent it from carrying out its mission,” said Shaheen. “Make no mistake, Mr. Pruitt and his extreme agenda are a threat to the environment, to the planet, and to public health.”

Shaheen spoke of climate change impacts in New Hampshire, where warmer temperatures are affecting tourism and outdoor recreation as well as maple syrup production and the moose population. “People in my State of New Hampshire have no doubt about the reality of climate change… we see it and experience it every day.” Shaheen also cited the significant progress New Hampshire has made reducing its power-sector carbon pollution through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, putting the state on track to meet the Clean Power Plan’s carbon-reduction goals 10 years early. “Across New England, we are demonstrating that smart energy choices can benefit the environment and strengthen job-creation and the economy overall,” Shaheen said. 

Shaheen went on to read letters that her office received from Granite Staters, both Democrats and Republicans, who “not only oppose Mr. Pruitt’s nomination, they genuinely fear the consequences of putting him in charge of the EPA.” Christopher Morgan of Amherst, NH wrote: “This is my first message I have ever sent to my senator in my 32 years as a voting American. . . . As a registered Republican . . . I am vehemently opposed to Mr. Pruitt leading the EPA. He has consistently shown he does not believe in the threat posed by climate change. Climate change affects every citizen in this country and has had a detrimental effect on the NH climate specifically.”

“Mr. Pruitt’s nomination is not about ‘shaking things up in Washington,’” said Shaheen. “It is about turning over control of the EPA to the fossil fuel industry – and turning back the clock on a half century of bipartisan efforts – in Democratic and Republican administrations alike – to protect clean air and clean water, and to pass on to our children a livable environment and habitable Earth.”

Shaheen urged her Senate colleagues to oppose Pruitt’s confirmation and “reject this effort to un-do nearly five decades of bipartisan efforts to protect our environment and planet.”

Watch Shaheen’s Video

Senator Maggie Hassan also delivered remarks on the Senate floor, opposing the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protecting Agency.

“It is clear from Mr. Pruitt’s history of opposition to the agency he will be tasked to lead, his record of working to weaken critical environmental protections that our citizens need to thrive, and his unwillingness to fight climate change that he is unfit to serve in this position,” Senator Hassan said on the Senate floor today. 

In her remarks, Senator Hassan highlighted the work done in New Hampshire to protect the state’s beautiful natural resources, environment, and citizens. The Senator also noted how Mr. Pruitt has been a consistent opponent of the EPA, taking legal action against the agency over 20 times and fighting against the EPA’s efforts to combat climate change and protect our land, air, and water. 

“The foundation of a future where all Americans have an opportunity to thrive starts with a healthy environment and healthy families. And the EPA serves an important role in protecting the health of our people. We must do better than having an administrator who has fought so tirelessly to undermine the work this agency does,” said Senator Hassan. 

Additionally, Senator Hassan explained that it is unacceptable that Mr. Pruitt is a climate change skeptic, putting him at odds with the world’s leading climate scientists.

“Mr. Pruitt, however, has been a consistent skeptic on the role of climate change has on our environment. Mr. Pruitt has stated that we do not know the extent of human impact on climate change, and has called it a natural occurrence… The EPA is a science-based organization, and it is unacceptable for the EPA Administrator to be at odds with the well-established views of leading scientists,” the Senator said.

Senator Hassan concluded her remarks by noting the critical role a cleaner environment plays in New Hampshire’s economy and that we should be building on the EPA’s efforts on climate change and protecting public health, not rolling them back. 

“We know that a cleaner environment plays a key role in the economy of New Hampshire and our entire nation. And we should be building on the critical efforts the EPA has taken to combat change and protect public health – not rolling them back.  Mr. Pruitt’s hostility to the basic functions of the Environmental Protection Agency, and his work to undermine protections for our air, land, and water make clear that he should not serve in this role,” added Senator Hassan.

Watch Senator Hassan’s Video 

Shaheen Cites Deep Concerns with Sessions’ Record, Says “Senate Should Not Confirm Him”

**Shaheen voiced her concerns with Sessions’ record on voting rights, civil rights, women’s equality, LGBT rights, and immigration”**

**SHAHEEN: “We need an Attorney General who will not only insist on equal enforcement of the laws, but who has a passion for pursuing justice and fairness for all Americans, as well as for those who want to visit or immigrate to our country.  In my view, Senator Sessions has failed to demonstrate that commitment.” **

Watch Here

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor today in opposition of President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions. Shaheen cited her concerns over Sessions’ record on “voting rights to civil rights to equality for women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities.” She continued, “the Senate should not confirm him to serve as U.S. Attorney General.” 

“At this time in our history, with the growing concern about this administration’s commitment to basic democratic principles such as equality before the law, separation of powers, freedom of the press, and protection of minority views, I cannot support a nominee who has failed to demonstrate appreciation for these ideals…” said Senator Shaheen. 

In her speech, Shaheen drew attention to Sessions’ support for voter ID laws and President Trump’s false claim that he lost the popular vote because of undocumented immigrants. “Throughout our history, this type of argument, not grounded in facts and data, has been used as a pretext for advancing new voter ID laws, including at the national level,” she stated. “As Attorney General, Senator Sessions would enthusiastically support this agenda.” 

Shaheen also cited her deep concerns over Sessions’ record on: women’s health, citing his opposition to the bipartisan 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and his outspoken comments opposing Roe v. Wade; racial inequality, drawing attention to Sessions’ assertion that “racism in the United States has been effectively addressed and, therefore, diversity programs unfairly discriminate against white Americans”; and LGBT rights, when he voted against a measure to prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity

Shaheen also referred to the “outside the mainstream” immigration views that Sessions has expressed. “Most Americans want fair, humane treatment for would-be immigrants to the United States as well as undocumented immigrants who are already here. Senator Sessions has amply demonstrated that he does not agree with this view.” 

“We need an Attorney General who will not only insist on equal enforcement of the laws, but who has a passion for pursuing justice and fairness for all Americans, as well as for those who want to visit or immigrate to our country.  In my view, Senator Sessions has failed to demonstrate that commitment. Indeed, I fear that, as Attorney General, he would affirm and encourage President Trump’s most troubling tendencies, especially with regard to minorities, women, and immigrants. Senator Sessions is the wrong person for the critically important post of United States Attorney General.  I will vote against his confirmation.”

Senator Shaheen To Introduce Legislation To Permanently Repeal The “Global Gag Rule”

Today, newly inaugurated President Trump signed an executive order to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy. This policy bans federal funds for non-governmental organizations that provide abortion services or provide information about abortion as part of family planning services. 

“The so-called Mexico City policy, established by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984, blocks federal funding for international family planning charities that provide abortions or “promote” the procedure by providing patients with information about it, including by offering referrals to abortion providers,” wrote Jessie Hillmann for The Hill.

“Trump’s ban could impact foreign organizations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPFF), which provides family planning services in more than 180 countries,” Hillmann added.

Tomorrow, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will introduce bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule. 

“The Trump Administration and Republican leadership have made no secret of their dangerous obsession with rolling back reproductive rights,” said Senator Shaheen. “President Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule ignores decades of research, instead favoring ideological politics over women and families. We know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, maternal deaths, and abortions. And when women have control over their reproductive health, it improves the long-term health of mothers and children and creates a lasting economic benefit. I will continue to stand up to President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress who are intent on rolling back women’s access to reproductive healthcare, and will introduce bipartisan legislation to repeal the Global Gag Rule for good.”

Senator Maggie Hassan, who took office less than a month ago, was unhappy to hear that President Trump was reinstating the Global Gag Rule and says she will support Shaheen’s legislation.

“A woman’s right to make her own health care decisions and control her own destiny is critical to the health and well-being of women around the world. I strongly oppose President Trump’s decision to re-institute a backward policy that will limit women’s access to reproductive health care and family planning services. This dangerous restriction on foreign aid to some of our world’s most vulnerable people is not consistent with our values as Americans. We cannot let efforts to roll back women’s rights go unchecked, and I will support Senator Shaheen’s legislation to permanently repeal the global gag rule.”

“I’m very disappointed that as one of his first actions as President, Donald Trump will be harming poor women and families in countries that can least afford it,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH01). “The Global Gag Rule severely limits the ability of international aid organizations to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare to women around the world and poses a very real threat to our global progress on maternal and child health. The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule is a clear signal that the Trump Administration does not respect women’s reproductive rights and health.”

This move comes the day after the 44th Anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.  Both Shaheen and Hassan released statements affirming their support of Roe v. Wade and the ability of women to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions.

Senator Shaheen:

“Today’s anniversary of Roe v. Wade is a reminder of the progress we have made and challenges that women still face to access comprehensive reproductive health care,” said Senator Shaheen. “In this last year, the Supreme Court handed down an important decision reinforcing a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, and we saw the abortion rate drop to the lowest level since 1943. This data is another reminder that when family planning services are accessible and contraceptives are affordable, we see a reduction in unplanned pregnancies and abortion. 

“Despite this progress, women’s reproductive healthcare remains under constant assault. States have continued to pass restrictions intended to shut down clinics and Republican leadership in Congress have already taken steps to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care for women.” 

“A woman’s personal medical decisions are her own to make in consultation with her family and her doctor. I will continue to stand up against any and all political efforts to rollback women’s reproductive rights in our country.”

Senator Hassan:

“The anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade is a time to recommit ourselves to working to ensure that women can make their own health choices and chart their own destiny. On the heels of the remarkable Women’s Marches that mobilized millions of women across America yesterday, we must continue to speak up every day to protect our equal rights under the law.

“Protecting a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions and ensuring access to important health services – including critical primary and preventative health services provided at Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation – is essential to the economic vitality of our families, our communities and our nation.

“The efforts in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act, defund Planned Parenthood, and turn the clock back on reproductive freedoms undermine Granite Staters’ access to quality, affordable health care at providers they trust, and I will continue fighting any efforts that would force women to pay more for their health care or strip away their freedom to make their own health decisions.”

With known anti-abortion advocate, Vice President Mike Pence by his side, Trump began his assault on women’s reproductive rights.  It is obvious that this is only the first step by the Trump administration attempt to make abortion illegal and overturn Roe v. Wade.

Sen. Shaheen Blasts House GOP Over Partisan Attacks On Women’s Healthcare

Shaheen Calls for End to Politically Motivated Attacks Against Women’s Healthcare Providers and Researchers at House Committee Hearing 

April 20, 2016 – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen testifying at House Committee hearing

April 20, 2016 – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen testifying at House Committee hearing

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) appeared before a House panel, established by Republicans in Congress, to investigate women’s healthcare providers and health researchers. Shaheen testified on the need to end the politically motivated investigations that were formed based on highly edited and discredited videos.

Over the weekend, Senator Shaheen penned an op-ed with Governor Maggie Hassan denouncing the attacks in New Hampshire and across the country on Planned Parenthood, including the five separate taxpayer-funded investigations launched by Republican leadership in Congress in the last year.

Senator Shaheen’s full testimony is included below and her remarks can be viewed here.

Senator Shaheen:

Thank you very much Chairwoman Blackburn, Ranking Member Schakowsky and members of the Committee, I very much appreciate the opportunity to appear before you this morning but I do so with great concern.  

I know you will hear from my colleague, Senator Sasse from Nebraska, and I respect his deeply held personal beliefs. 

But if we want to have a civil discussion on this issue, we should begin with the facts. Already, news articles today have called into question the validity of the exhibits that will be presented to the panel.   

This Committee’s very existence was founded on the basis of highly deceptive, edited videos. These videos have since been proven to be misleading and false by multiple independent investigations across the country. 

In January, after thorough investigations into the videos, a Texas grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing and indicted the individuals responsible for their creation. In fact, twelve other states have also cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing, and eight additional states have declined to investigate, citing a lack of evidence.   

I believe it’s now time for the special investigations to end.

I’d also like to point out that fetal tissue research has long had bipartisan support. In 1993, Congress passed the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act, which permits fetal tissue research. That bill passed with overwhelming support:  94-4 in the Senate and 290-130 in the House. And I think it is important to note, that that bill was based on recommendations of a blue-ribbon panel convened under President Reagan which was tasked with studying the ethics of fetal tissue research. 

Millions of people have benefitted from fetal tissue research. Vaccines for polio and rubella were developed as a result of research done on fetal tissue. And research on health issues that touch so many of us— Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, eye disorders and spinal cord injuries have also benefitted from the 1993 law.

If it the panel’s desire to change the law, obviously you as legislators are able to do that. But I believe it would be a grave error.   

Sadly, it’s my belief that this panel was formed with political motivations. There is very little real interest in an unbiased investigation to uncover facts related to women’s health or research. 

Instead, I believe that this panel serves as an opportunity for some to once again attack the health care providers whom millions of women and families depend on. 

In February, I joined with colleagues in both chambers to ask House and Senate leadership to disband this panel and all other Congressional investigations that would undermine women’s access to health care.  

Not only do I believe that this panel is an inappropriate and wasteful misuse of federal resources, but I am gravely concerned that it also puts researchers, providers and patients across this country at risk.   

Unfortunately, as a result of the political rhetoric surrounding this issue, we’ve seen violent acts and threats against women’s health providers and researchers across the country.  

And I’m very sad to report that this fall – the same month that this panel was formed—a women’s health clinic in Claremont, New Hampshire, was vandalized not once, but twice. The second attack caused so much damage that the clinic was forced to close for nearly six weeks. This was a real disservice to the women, men and families who rely on the full range of services that the clinic provides.  

And unfortunately, New Hampshire is not alone. After the release of the deceptive, highly-edited videos, incidents of harassment against some health centers increased nine fold in just one month. 

I don’t believe that today’s hearing is a fact-based objective investigation, but rather it is a taxpayer funded political attack based on discredited evidence. I hope it will finally be time to move on.

On #EqualPayDay, Shaheen Renews Call for Passage of Paycheck Fairness Act

Equal Pay Day, 2016

(Washington, DC) – This afternoon on Equal Pay Day, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) took to the Senate floor to renew her call for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would address the gender pay gap that continues to put female workers and their families at an economic disadvantage. Shaheen has been vocal about the need to address the gender pay gap, which leaves New Hampshire women, who make up nearly half of the state’s working population, earning just 76 cents on the dollar compared to their male counter parts. 

“The American people believe very strongly in fairness, equal treatment, and a level playing field for everyone,” said Shaheen on the Senate floor. “These are core American values.  And that’s why people find it shocking and unacceptable that women in the United States continue to be denied equal pay for equal work.”

“The wage gap is really damaging to the 40 percent of American women who are the sole or primary breadwinner in households with children. For these women, equal pay is not only about fairness, it’s also about providing adequately for their families,” Shaheen continued. “That’s why I strongly support the Paycheck Fairness Act because this legislation would empower women to negotiate for equal pay… This legislation is about basic fairness, it’s about equal treatment.  It is about creating a level playing field in the workplace for our daughters and granddaughters, and for every American.”

Shaheen is an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act and cosponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was signed into law six years ago. The Paycheck Fairness Act would empower women to negotiate for equal pay benefiting the more than 190,000 children in New Hampshire who live in households dependent on their mother’s income. Shaheen also noted that members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team are paid a quarter of the players on the men’s team despite generating more revenue.

 

Shaheen’s full remarks can viewed here.

New England Senators Introduce Sexual Assault Survivors Rights Legislation in the Senate

Woman in Tunnel (Blondinrikard Fröberg FLIKR)

Woman in Tunnel (Blondinrikard Fröberg FLIKR)

The Sexual Assault Survivors Act will improve the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors, and empower them to pursue justice

(Washington, DC)—Today, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), introduced legislation that codifies basic rights for survivors of sexual assault. The Sexual Assault Survivors Act builds on the success of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act to address unique challenges faced by sexual assault survivors, particularly regarding notice, access, and preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits.  The bill would empower survivors to make more informed decisions throughout the criminal justice process by supporting state efforts to better notify survivors of available resources as well as applicable state rights and policies.  Finally, the bill would establish a joint Department of Justice and Health and Human Services working group to more effectively implement best practices regarding the care and treatment of survivors across the country.

Currently, depending on the jurisdiction, sexual assault survivors often experience a complex and cryptic maze of policies that deter them from pursuing justice. The authors of this legislation worked closely with Rise, a national nonprofit, led by Amanda Nguyen, a sexual assault survivor who has bravely shared her harrowing experience with the criminal justice system.

“Without a clear set of rights articulated in the law, it’s difficult for even the best law enforcement professionals to ensure that survivors receive fair, effective, consistent treatment, particularly across counties and states,” said Shaheen. “We have to do better.  Our goal with this legislation is to change the culture around how sexual assault survivors are treated in our criminal justice system.  We have to create an environment where survivors feel like the system is working for them, not against.  Amanda and other brave survivors like her, have worked hard to put these issues on the nation’s agenda and now it’s time for Congress to take action.” 

“When a survivor of sexual assault engages the criminal justice system, she must be secure in her rights and empowered to make informed decisions,” Blumenthal said. “Reporting sexual assault requires incredible courage — and the system must be worthy of that bravery. Too often, survivors are not told what is happening in their cases, find that vital evidence was destroyed without their consent, or encounter byzantine procedural barriers to justice. This bill represents an important step toward a system that mirrors unsparing prosecution of people who commit these heinous offenses with sensitive, consistent, and fair treatment of survivors.”

“Too often, survivors of sexual assault feel abandoned by our criminal justice system,” said Leahy. “Time and again we have seen how their cases are not taken seriously, how evidence is not preserved or tested in their cases. This is unacceptable. I am proud of the work we have done to ensure their voices are heard through the Debbie Smith Act, the Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act and now the Sexual Assault Survivors Rights Act.  Survivors of sexual assault must be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

“Justice for sexual assault survivors should not depend on geography,” said Amanda Nguyen, founder and president of Rise. “This federal Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which brings together common sense best practices, is the first step to having uniform basic rights for survivors across the country.” 

Some key rights established by the bill include:

  • The right to have a sexual assault evidence collection kit preserved for the entire relevant statute of limitations.
  • The right to be notified in writing 60 days prior to the destruction of a sexual assault evidence collection kit.
  • The right to request further preservation of a sexual assault evidence collection kit.
  • The right to be informed of important results of a sexual assault forensic examination.

The bill has been endorsed by RAINN, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations (CFSO), NH Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the VT Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. 

The bill text is available here.

 

Shaheen Welcomes Announcement of Rescheduled Northern Pass Hearings

**Includes Colebrook hearing that Senator Shaheen and Governor Hassan requested, now scheduled for March 7th**

(Manchester, NH) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) welcomed the Department of Energy‘s (DOE) announcement of the time and location of rescheduled hearings on the proposed Northern Pass transmission project. Late last year, Shaheen and Governor Maggie Hassan urged DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz to include a public hearing in northern Coos County to better accommodate the input of citizens in the region. 

“Granite Staters must have ample opportunity to review this project and have their voices heard,” said Shaheen. “The previously announced hearings denied residents of the North Country the ability to easily express their thoughts on the project. I’m pleased that DOE has listened to concerns of New Hampshire stakeholders and will provide a forum for Coos County residents to participate in this review process.” 

The public hearings provide an opportunity for Granite Staters to comment on DOE’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project, announced last summer, and the Supplement to the Draft EIS, announced in November. 

Details of the four scheduled hearings are included below:

Colebrook:       Monday March 7, 2016, 5:00 p.m.

Colebrook Elementary School, 27 Dumont Street,

Colebrook, NH

 

Waterville:       Wednesday March 9, 2016, 5:00 p.m.

Waterville Valley Conference and Event Center, Waterville Room,

Waterville Valley, NH

 

Concord:         Thursday March 10, 2016, 5:00 p.m.

Grappone Conference Center

Granite Ballroom

70 Constitution Avenue

Concord, NH

 

Whitefield:     Friday March 11, 2016, 5:00 p.m.

Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa

Presidential Room

101 Mountain View Road

Whitefield, NH

Senator Shaheen Takes To Senate Floor To Talk Climate Change (Video)

Following Return from Paris Climate Talks, Shaheen Joins U.S. Senate Delegation on Senate Floor to Discusses the Need for Action on Climate Change

(Washington, DC) – Following her recent return from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor about the urgent need to address the growing threat of climate change. Shaheen was joined on the floor by colleagues who were also part of the U.S. Senate delegation to Paris, where they participated in high-level discussions to encourage a broad international agreement to prevent catastrophic global warming. In her speech, Shaheen highlighted the negative impact climate change is already having on New Hampshire’s environment and economy. 

Shaheen highlighted New Hampshire’s leadership in addressing carbon pollution through its participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the first market-based regulatory program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Shaheen noted that in addition to state and local efforts there must be a global plan to address carbon pollution if the most disastrous effects of climate change are to be avoided. 

Senator Shaheen’s full speech can be viewed here.

Senator Shaheen Speaks In Favor Of Iran Deal On The Senate Floor (VIDEO)

 

(Washington, DC) – On the Senate floor this afternoon U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke in support of the international agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program. Senator Shaheen’s floor speech can be viewed here. 

Senator Shaheen is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

Here are her remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I have long stated my conviction that we must prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  I support the international agreement that the Senate is debating this week Senate because I am convinced that it is the best available option for achieving that objective.   

We can stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program in one of two ways, diplomatically or militarily.  Powerful international sanctions, which I have strongly supported, have forced Iran to the negotiating table. And on July 14, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and the European Union – the so-called P5+1 powers – concluded an agreement with Iran that, promises a peaceful, diplomatic solution. 

Thanks to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, Congress has had ample time to review the accord.  I spent weeks studying the agreement’s text and scrutinizing our intelligence agencies’ classified assessment of their ability to verify Iran’s compliance.  As a member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, I attended more than a dozen hearings and briefings with Administration officials as well as outside experts, both for and against the agreement.  In the end, I have concluded that this agreement effectively blocks Iran’s pathways to developing a nuclear weapon for well over a decade.

Right now, Iran can acquire enough fissile nuclear material for a bomb in less than three months.  The agreement extends this breakout time to at least one year by slashing Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent and banning enrichment above 3.67 percent – which is far below weapons grade – for 15 years.  The agreement also reduces Iran’s number of centrifuges by more than two-thirds for a decade, and maintains inspectors’ access to Iran’s uranium mines and mills for a quarter century. 

These are just some of the many restrictions the agreement imposes on Iran. 

In addition, Iran is bound by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and other agreements, to a permanent commitment not to pursue nuclear weapons and to permit access by inspectors to any suspected sites.  

Of critical importance, the Iran agreement is not based on trust, but on an inspections regime that is more rigorous and intrusive than any previous negotiated agreement.  Nuclear experts are confident that we will be able to detect violations by Iran.  And thanks to language in the agreement that allows the US to respond unilaterally to a violation by re-imposing US and UN sanctions, Iran will know that it faces crippling consequences.

If Congress rejects this agreement, all of these advantages go away. 

The risk of an Iranian nuclear breakout and a regional nuclear arms race will increase dramatically.  

And we will be left with no credible non-military option for stopping Iran’s nuclear program.

Mr. President, I respect the views of my colleagues who oppose this agreement, and I have listened carefully to their arguments.  Some of them assert that Iran will find a way to cheat, and therefore no diplomatic resolution is possible.  However, most opponents are careful to avoid talk of military conflict and argue that we can reject this deal, rally the world to impose harsher sanctions, and Iran will eventually capitulate.  

But this premise is at odds with the facts as they currently exist. Our negotiating partners in this deal – Britain, France, Russia, China, and the European Union – have concluded that this is a fair agreement.  In a briefing for Senators last month, the ambassadors from these nations told us in no uncertain terms that there will be no going back to the bargaining table if Congress rejects this agreement. 

If the deal is rejected, the most likely outcome is that the international sanctions regime against Iran would unravel, the US would be isolated, and we would lose credibility as a reliable negotiating partner.  Yes, we would retain the ability to act unilaterally.  But unilateral sanctions have their limits, and our military commanders counsel us that even a robust military option would delay but not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. 

This agreement is not about becoming friends with Iran or turning a blind eye to its efforts to destabilize the Middle East.  We must redouble efforts to help our allies counter Iran’s malign influence in the region.  In particular, our commitment to the defense of Israel remains unshakeable.  In addition, we must maintain vigorous sanctions against Iran for its support for terrorism and violations of human rights.  

While there are risks to whatever course we take vis-à-vis Iran, I believe the choice is clear: Either we recognize that this agreement is the best available option, or we chase a fantasy agreement on our own as international sanctions collapse, Iran’s nuclear program continues unchecked, and our options for stopping it narrow. 

 

I am convinced that the agreement negotiated by the US and our allies is the least risky approach and most likely to succeed.  I will vote to support it. 

 

Thank you, I yield the floor. 

Governor Hassan And Senator Shaheen Call For Full Funding Of Meals On Wheels

Meals on Wheels dinner (image by Roger W, Flickr)

Meals on Wheels dinner (image by Roger W, Flickr)

(SALEM, NH) –  New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today called for bipartisan support for full funding of the state’s Meals on Wheels Program, which faces inadequate funding at the federal level and is threatened by unpaid-for corporate tax cuts at the state level. The two participated in a roundtable discussion about the effects of inadequate funding with staff, volunteers and clients of the Rockingham County Meals on Wheels Program at the Ingram Senior Center in Salem this afternoon.           

“Our older citizens have made significant contributions to our communities, our economy, and our high quality of life, and we must maintain our commitment to providing the support that they deserve in order to maximize their ability to continue engagement in our society and economy,” Governor Hassan said. “I have presented a fiscally responsible, compromise budget proposal that protects our ability to support critical priorities like Meals on Wheels now and into the future, and I continue to urge Republicans in the legislature to negotiate in good faith and offer a true counter-proposal that addresses the central issue of our disagreement – unpaid-for corporate tax cuts that create a $90 million hole in future budgets – so that we can reach a fiscally responsible, bipartisan budget agreement as soon as possible.” 

“In New Hampshire, Meals on Wheels delivers food to more than 30,000 seniors, and the demand is only growing, with our state’s over-65 population expected to nearly double by the end of the decade,” said Shaheen. “Meals on Wheels can deliver nutritious meals to a senior for an entire year for less than it would cost for that senior to spend one day in the hospital, potentially saving us billions in Medicare and Medicaid costs. We need bipartisan cooperation in Washington and Concord to keep this program funded and benefiting our seniors. I’m asking my Republican colleagues in the Senate to work with Democrats to adequately fund Meals on Wheels moving forward.”   

In June, Governor Hassan vetoed the Republican budget because it was unbalanced and fiscally irresponsible, including unpaid-for business tax cuts that would create a $90 million hole in future budgets at the expense of critical priorities like Meals on Wheels. The Governor has since presented a fiscally responsible compromise budget proposal that provides Republican legislators with what they have indicated is their highest priority – cutting corporate taxes – in a faster timeframe while addressing concerns about long-term fiscal responsibility and protecting our ability to support critical economic priorities.

In the United States Senate, nearly every Republican Senator voted for a budget that is going to result in drastic cuts to funding for Meals on Wheels over the next decade. In the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Labor-Health-Education Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2016 fails to provide enough funding to Meals on Wheels’ growing needs in New Hampshire and across the country. Shaheen strongly opposed the Republican budget as well as the Appropriations bill.

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