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Congressional Dish

English, National/National politics/National assembly, 1 season, 299 episodes, 3 days, 4 hours, 1 minute
Congressional Dish is a twice-monthly podcast that aims to draw attention to where the American people truly have power: Congress. From the perspective of a fed up taxpayer with no allegiance to any political party, Jennifer Briney will fill you in on the must-know information about what our representatives do AFTER the elections and how their actions can and will affect our day to day lives. Hosted by @JenBriney. Links to information sources available at
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CD293: NTSB Transportation Safety Warnings

In March, the Senate received testimony from the Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board about some transportation related dangers that you should know about. In this episode, hear testimony about those dangers, including those posed by airborne tourism companies, electric vehicles, and self driving technology. You will also hear a stunning NTSB finding about a likely profit-prioritization decision of railroad company Norfolk Southern, which unnecessarily lead to the poisoning of East Palestine, OH. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes Traffic Fatalities National Center for Statistics and Analysis. April 2024. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Helicopter Crashes May 10, 2022. National Transportation Safety Board. n.d. National Transportation Safety Board. Audio Sources March 6, 2024 Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation Witnesses: Jennifer Homendy, Chair, National Transportation Safety Board Clips Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO): I did have some questions. I know that Senator Fisher mentioned some of this earlier as relates to electric vehicles. The weight of some of these vehicles, including, I know you mentioned the battery alone can be the weight of a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla, and so there's certainly safety issues there. It relates to guardrails and other vehicles on the road. You would agree with that, right? Jennifer Homendy: Yes. Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO): There's also issues, I wanna talk about our infrastructure too. The weight of these vehicles, the strain that it can have on parking garages, roads, and bridges. The amount of money that will be expended to either reinforce or repair. Who is looking at this? Because we have a mandate for auto manufacturers to produce 50% of their fleet to be electric vehicles by 2030. I know there's a new rule in the works to have that number increased. I don't know if it's 65% or 75% by 2032, that's being considered. So it seems to me we're entering this phase as it relates to these mandates for electric vehicles and all of these repercussions, all of these ancillary concerns, I don't know who's addressing it, so I'm asking you, are you guys looking at this? Who is looking at this? Because this seems to be a disaster on the horizon for the American people and our infrastructure, but I don't hear a lot of talk about it. Jennifer Homendy: Thank you, Senator. I have raised this consistently over the past year and a half, starting with a transportation research board where I raised concerns with respect to increasing size and weight of all vehicles, but particularly the weight of electric vehicles that we really needed to look at the safety impact, not just on crashes, but to our infrastructure as well, and protecting people. The whole reason why we have a guardrail is to protect people when there is a crash. Yet it wouldn't withstand some of the crashes with some of these high weights of heavy vehicles, including heavy electric vehicles as was demonstrated by the University of Nebraska. Somebody needs to take action here. We have repeatedly flagged it. It is within the Department of Transportation's purview to do that, and I encourage them strongly to get ahead of it. We're behind right now. Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO): As it relates to first responders who are responding to crashes that lithium batteries are involved with, what is your take on the safety for our first responders as they're responding to these EV crashes? Jennifer Homendy: It's a significant danger. We issued a report just a few years ago raising concerns regarding a number of crashes that we investigated involving electric vehicles and the risk to emergency responders from stranded energy inside the battery and components and the significant potential for shock. We also raised concerns with respect to secondary responders, which are the tow truck operators because we saw many of these vehicles reigniting on the tow truck and up to five days later in the tow yard. Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): February 3rd, 2023 derailment of the train. Is it true that Norfolk Southern's contractors monitored temperatures on one of the chemical tank cars from the afternoon of February 5th into the afternoon of February 6th, which is when the controlled burn happened, and communicated their initial readings to Oxy Vinyls, the shippers in charge of the vinyl chloride cars? Jennifer Homendy: That's accurate, Senator. Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): Is it true that these readings indicated an initial temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit at 4:00 PM on February 5th, which eventually declined to 126 degrees Fahrenheit at 9:30 AM on February 6th, at which point it stabilized? Jennifer Homendy: That's correct, Senator. It was stabilized well before the vent and burn. Many hours before. Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): So declining temperatures, you would think, and stabilized temperatures are consistent, not with something that needs to be exploded, but with something that can be dealt with in a slightly less, less catastrophic way. At least that's my read on it. But is it true that the chemical shipper Oxy Vinyls concluded that the reported and stabilized tank car temperatures were too low for a runaway chemical reaction, meaning the sort of thing that would lead to an uncontrolled explosion? Jennifer Homendy: That's correct. They had testified that polymerization was not occurring. In order for polymerization to occur, which was Norfolk Southern and their contractor's justification for the vent and burn. You would have to have rapidly increasing temperatures and some sort of infusion of oxygen, neither of which occurred. Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): Right. And just to be clear, you would need both of those things. It's not an either/or. You need both of them to precipitate polymerization, which would lead to an uncontrolled... Jennifer Homendy: Correct. Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): So is it true that Norfolk Southern's contractors testified to the NTSB that they were not certain a chemical reaction was occurring in the derailed vinyl chloride tank car? Jennifer Homendy: They testified to that, yes sir. Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): Is it correct that the chemical shippers testified that there was no free radical agent or sufficient heat trajectory to justify Norfolk Southern Contractor's assessment that a chemical reaction was occurring? Jennifer Homendy: That's correct. Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): So from this assessment, is it your understanding that Norfolk Southern's contractors lacked scientific basis to support their conclusion that polymerization was occurring in the derailed VCM tank cars? Jennifer Homendy: Yes, in fact, they were informed by Oxy vinyls of the information that should have been taken by the contractors in their decision making. But yes, they did not have that. They lacked the scientific background to address that.Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): So let me just go to one final question here. We combine all these facts together. Your reporting thus far concludes that Norfolk Southern's contractors recommendation to conduct a controlled burn lacked sufficient scientific basis, disregarded available temperature data and contradicted expert feedback from the shipping firm on site. Now, this was all told to the decision makers on the ground, they had to make a decision in less than 13 minutes to blow up all five of these toxic chemical cars without any other voices being included to offer a contrary opinion. Is that right? Jennifer Homendy: That's correct. Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): So again, I appreciate your work on this, but just to sort of summarize, this is an extraordinary finding. We were told effectively that there were two bad options. The uncontrolled burn -- excuse me, the controlled burn or the uncontrolled explosion. And it seems based on the data that we have that there was not a ton of reason to do the controlled burn. And that of course is what spread toxic chemicals all over this community and the surrounding region. It's really an extraordinary finding. It goes to highlight the importance of your work. But I also have to note that residents on the ground talk about the fact that immediately after the controlled burn, they moved the tank cars and train traffic was moving through their town and moving through their community. I won't ask you to speak to motivations here, but when you have an unnecessary controlled burn that poisoned a lot of people, that then led to rapid transit of train traffic, a lot of people, including me, are wondering, did they do this not because it was necessary, but because it allowed them to move traffic and freight more quickly. And if so, that is an extraordinary thing that I think requires a lot of further work from this committee and from others. But we will stop there. Because I see my time is up. Thank you. Chair Homendy. Jennifer Homendy: May I add something to that? Senator, I would say the factual information in our docket shows that Oxy Vinyls was on scene and providing information to Norfolk Southern and their contractors on the fourth, fifth, and sixth. They informed them that they believed polymerization was not occurring and there was no justification to do a vent and burn. Rightfully, Norfolk Southern's contractors ruled out hot tapping and transloading 'cause it would've been a potential safety issue for their employees. But there was another option. Let it cool down. It was cooling down. We know for a fact that when that pressure relief device went off, that it had to have been above 185 degrees. Later, over the course of 22 hours, that tank car was cooling, not to mention the other four tank cars that were only between 64 and 69 degrees. So Oxy Vinyls was on scene providing information to Norfolk Southern's contractor who was in the room when the decision was made and when advice was given to the governor of Ohio, to the incident commander. They were not given full information because no one was told Oxy Vinyl was on scene. They were left out of the room. The incident commander didn't even know they existed. Neither did the governor. So they were provided incomplete information to make a decision. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI): I'm wondering if you could provide a status update on how you view the current safety standards for helicopter air tours. And do you believe that the safety provisions included in the Senate version of the FAA bill would improve the safety of these tours? Jennifer Homendy: Thank you very much for your work on this issue and for Senator Schatz's work on this issue. I think it's critical. The NTSB believes in one level of safety. As before I became NTSB chair or before I worked on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, if I showed up with my family to take an air tour, I would not know to ask what are the qualifications of the crew? What are your operating standards? What are your operating rules? What are your maintenance procedures? You wouldn't normally ask those questions. If you are somebody who shows up for a parachute jump flight, you think my biggest risk is jumping out of the plane, not getting on the plane, which also crashed in Hawaii. So we believe you're a paying passenger, whether you're on part 1 21, part 1 35, part 91, you deserve the same level of safety. And we have advocated strongly for a set of regulatory standards that address just that. We've seen no action on that. This is something I have been extremely passionate about since I came to the board, whether it was flyNYON in New York, where we literally listened to some people's last moments that were strapped into a helicopter on an air tour with a Home Depot harness that was supposed to hold them in and they couldn't unhook it, they drowned. That is horrific. So still we don't have the standards we've recommended. We did an entire report on ensuring safety in revenue passenger operations under part 91. We looked at incidents or accidents, terrible tragedies in Hawaii, Arizona, I mentioned New York, Connecticut with a B 17, historic adventure flight that crashed. And each time we continue to say safety needs to improve and each time we've been ignored. The public deserves better. FAA should issue standards to ensure their safety. Jennifer Homendy: So the derailment rate is sort of a combined rate from mainline track and for the yards. We are seeing a significant increase in derailments and tragedies in the yards. That is where we're very concerned about employee safety. We've seen that repeatedly. We've issued a number of recommendations. We have a lot of open investigations. For Norfolk Southern alone we have eight investigations that are currently open, and we're also doing a safety culture review separate from East Palestine. But in particular we have 190 safety recommendations that we've issued that are currently open to improve rail safety. Whether it's preventing fatigue or providing for increased inspection or new technologies to supplement, not supplant workers, supplement the work to ensure safety. Those 190 have not been acted upon. Happy to provide those for the hearing record, but they can be today and I hope they will. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): Now I'd like to turn to the significant risk posed by autonomous vehicles. In the past eight years, the NTSB has investigated multiple incidents involving autonomous driving technologies like Tesla's autopilot system that are designed to operate in specific road conditions, particularly on highways. In fact, in 2016, NTSB recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and auto manufacturers restrict drivers from activating these systems outside those road conditions. It's long past time that we take firm control of the wheel and steer towards safety and implement this recommendation. So, Madam Chair, can you briefly explain the reasoning for this recommendation? Jennifer Homendy: Yes. And in fact, I thought this may come up because this is a, you're a champion on this issue, and I just pulled Tesla's statement on, which is really their limitations on operational design domain. They warn on their website for those who have vehicles, that some of their automation will not work in some areas, including areas of poor visibility, heavy rain, snow, fog, bright light, oncoming headlights, direct sunlight, mud, ice, snow, interference or obstruction by objects mounted onto the vehicle, narrow, high-curvature, or winding roads and damaged or misaligned bumper, an extremely hot or cold temperature, an area where the vehicle is not designed to operate using that technology. Who reads that? We have to make -- Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): Well, that just leaves backing out of the driveway and then going back into your car again. Because other than that, you're out on the road. This isn't like the postal service through rain, sleet, snow, gloom of night. They're saying, well, the sunlight might affect it or the snow might affect it, or rainy conditions might affect it. Or winding roads might affect it. So as I'm listening to that description, it sounds like to me it's not ready for prime time. It's not ready to be handed over to people who have grown up with a car that they drive, where they expect the brakes or the steering wheel to all work, no matter where they're going, and not, oh, by the way, this thing that you just turned on could be extremely dangerous for your two kids in the backseat. Jennifer Homendy: Well, and if it's only designed to be operated in a certain type of environment, it should be limited to those environments. We issued that recommendation to Tesla following the 2016 tragedy in Williston, Florida. We issued the same recommendation to NHTSA. We issued it again. Both have failed to act on those recommendations. Music by Editing Production Assistance
5/31/202448 minutes, 16 seconds
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CD292: Sabotaging Palestine

President Biden has signed three new laws containing policy changes that will have long lasting effects on the people of Palestine. In this episode, seven months into the ongoing destruction of Gaza, see what Congress and the President have enacted in your name. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Recommended Sources for Gaza News Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes Who Pays for Corporate Media 2024. 2024. Hamas Dan De Luce et al. April 18, 2024. NBC News. December 29, 2023. International Court of Justice. Abdelali Ragad et al. November 27, 2023. BBC. Destruction of Khan Yunis Bisan Owda. May 21, 2024. AJ+ (@ajplus) and Al Jazeera English (@aljazeeraenglish) on Instagram. Israel’s Buffer Zone Around Gaza Ruwaida Kamal Amer. May 21, 2024. +972 Magazine. Camille Bressange et al. March 16, 2024. The Wall Street Journal. February 2, 2024. Jon Gambrell. AP News. Dov Liber et al. January 25, 2024. The Wall Street Journal. Loveday Morris et al. January 24, 2024. The Washington Post. Israeli Settlements March 20, 2024. CNN on YouTube. Amira Hass. March 12, 2024. Haaretz. Julia Frankel. February 23, 2024. AP News. Nir Hasson and Rachel Fink. January 28, 2024. Haaretz. Itai Weiss. December 27, 2023. Haaretz. Hagar Shezaf. December 11, 2020. Haaretz. Updated February 2, 2024. Encyclopedia Britannica. AI Kill List Isaac Chotiner. April 12, 2024. The New Yorker. April 5, 2024. Amy Goodman and Yuval Abraham. Democracy Now! Avi Scharf. April 5, 2024. Haaretz. Ishaan Tharoor. April 5, 2024. The Washington Post. April 3, 2024. The Guardian. Yuval Abraham. April 3, 2024. +972 Magazine. Yuval Abraham. November 30, 2023. +972 Magazine. Patrick Kingsley and Ronen Bergman. Updated Oct. 18, 2023. The New York Times. Ami Rokhax Domba. February 14, 2023. Israel Defense. Tamir Eshel. June 13, 2021. Defense Update. Israelis Who Died in October October 19, 2023. Haaretz. Massacre at al-Shifa Hospital Tareq S. Hajjaj. April 11, 2024. Mondoweiss. Abeer Salman et al. April 1, 2024. CNN. Supplemental Funding April 24, 2024. The Washington Post. April 21, 2024. PBS NewsHour. UNRWA Ayesha Rascoe and Jackie Northam. April 28, 2024. NPR. Emanuel Fabian. February 16, 2024. The Times of Israel. Who Governs Palestine Noa Rone. March 8, 2024. Unpacked. UN Human Rights Council Updated April 5, 2024. United Nations Human Rights Council. April 18, 2023. United Nations General Assembly. ‘Detainee’ treatment February 19, 2024. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. United Nations Information Service. July 10, 2023. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Suppression of Journalism March 20, 2023. Jewish News Syndicate. January 24, 2002. BBC. Why It’s Not a War Ajit Singh (@ajitxsingh). November 14, 2023. X. Francesca Albanese. November 14, 2023. National Press Club of Australia on Youtube. Torture in Israeli Detention Facilities May 11, 2024. Middle East Eye on YouTube. CNN's International Investigations and Visuals teams. May 11, 2024. CNN. Netta Ahituv. May 4, 2024. Haaretz. Leahy Amendment Ben Samuels. April 27, 2024. Haaretz. International Criminal Court Michel Martin and John Bellinger III on All Things Considered. April 16, 2022. NPR. Laws Audio Sources May 5, 2024 Al Jazeera English on Instagram (@aljazeeraenglish) Imran Khan: If you are watching this prerecorded report, then Al Jazeera has been banned in the territory of Israel. On April the first, the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, passed a law that allowed the Prime Minister to ban Al Jazeera. He's now enacted that law. Let me just take you through some of the definitions. Within the law, they've banned our website, including anything that has the option of entering or accessing the website, even passwords that are needed whether they're paid or not, and whether it's stored on Israeli servers or outside of Israel. The website is now inaccessible. They're also banning any device used for providing content. That includes my mobile phone. If I use that to do any kind of news gathering, then the Israelis can simply confiscate it. Our internet access provider, the guy that simply hosts, is also in danger of being fined if they host the website. The Al Jazeera TV channel [is] completely banned. Transmission by any kind of content provider is also banned and holding offices or operating them in the territory of Israel by the channel. Also, once again, any devices used to provide content for the channel can be taken away by the Israelis. It's a wide ranging ban. We don't know how long it'll be in place for, but it does cover this territory of the state of Israel. May 5, 2024 Al Jazeera English on YouTube Cyril Vanier: So what does the war look like, as presented by Israeli media to Israelis? Gideon Levy: Very, very simple picture. We are the victims. We are the only victims, as usual. There was the 7th of October, and we will stick to the 7th of October, which was almost the Holocaust in the eyes of most of the Israelis and this 7th of October enables us and legitimizes us to do whatever we want in Gaza. Gaza doesn't interest us. Gaza is Hamas and Hamas, Gaza. And therefore, we should punish them all, and if possible, even kill them al, destroy them all, and we will. We have no interest to see what's the suffer[ing] of Gaza, what's the punishment of Gaza, what the innocent people of Gaza are going through. We are only interested in the brave soldiers, the hostages and the victims of the 7th of October. That's our world, and that's the world that the Israeli media as a whole is describing to its viewers for seven months now, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Only this, you don't see Gaza. April 10, 2024 House Foreign Affairs Committee Witnesses: Samantha Power, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development Clips 47:15 Samantha Power: Again, you had very little, almost no child malnutrition before October 7, and you now have a massive spike. And particularly in the north, one in three kids are suffering from malnutrition. And again, the reports of famine also spreading to the south. It makes sense because so little assistance has gotten in commensurate to the needs of more than 2 million people. 1:13:55 Samantha Power: My understanding - this is something that Secretary Blinken is managing and you'll have a chance I'm sure to engage him on - but the national security memorandum 20 that was issued not long ago is taking 620 I and those elements into consideration. I think that report is due out in early May. 1:41:40 Samantha Power: You know well, because you've been in so many of these countries, we don't have an NGO out there -- This is not your traditional UN agency, where you can have like schools in a box, teachers in a box, health workers in a box. Hamas was the state and Hamas won the election back in the day. And Hamas had far too much influence on certain individuals, or even certain individuals were, it seems, potentially part of Hamas. But the fact is, the administration of schools and health systems was UNRWA. There's not an NGO or another UN agency that could perform the function of a State like that, or at least I haven't encountered one in my years of humanitarian service. 2:02:20 Samantha Power: One little parenthetical is, Israel, about a month ago, in light of the horrific allegations, made a decision that UNRWA could not participate in convoys to the north - humanitarian convoys. But what that meant was, fundamentally there could be no convoys to the north because you can't, as bombs are falling and kinetic operations are underway and terrorists are being pursued, suddenly invent an entire humanitarian infrastructure. 2:17:20 Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): I want to ask you obviously about the very urgent situation humanitarian situation in Gaza. In your testimony, you said that the entire population of Gaza is living under the threat of famine. News reports came out recently that certain USAID officials sent a cable to the National Security Council warning that famine is already likely occurring in parts of the Gaza Strip. According to the report "famine conditions are most severe and widespread in northern Gaza, which is under Israeli control." Do you think that it's plausible or likely that parts of Gaza and particularly northern Gaza, are already experiencing famine? Samantha Power: Well, the methodology that the IPC used is one that we had our experts scrub, it's one that's relied upon in other settings, and that is their assessments and we believe that assessment is credible. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): So there's a famine is already occurring there. Samantha Power: That is… Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): Yes, okay. 2:18:14 Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): More than half of the population of Gaza is under the age of 18, as you know, and are seriously affected by the lack of access to food and nutrition. Various organizations, including the United Nations, have warned that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children may die if they don't get necessary food and nutrition assistance in just the next two to three weeks. Has USAID made such an assessment itself? And do you have a sense of how many such children might be at risk of dying if they don't get access to food and nutrition that's currently unavailable? Samantha Power: I do not have those assessments on hand. But I will say that in northern Gaza, the rate of malnutrition, prior to October 7, was almost zero. And it is now one in three, one in three kids. But extrapolating out is hard. And I will say just with some humility, because it is so hard to move around in Gaza, because the access challenges that give rise in part to the malnutrition are so severe, it is also hard to do the kind of scaled assessments that we would wish to do. But in terms of actual severe acute malnutrition for under fives, that rate was 16% in January, and became 30% in February, and we're awaiting the the March numbers, but we expect it to -- Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): So it got markedly worse. Samantha Power: Markedly worse. But extrapolating and giving you the overall numbers… Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): And just to be clear, I realize you're not part of the DoD or the State Department even, working on these issues diplomatically. But is it your understanding that humanitarian assistance and food assistance is not supposed to be denied even when countries are at war with each other? Because there is this argument that if Hamas would release the hostages, if they would surrender, that this would stop, but there's certain laws of war and certain conduct that nations are supposed to follow, and that includes allowing for humanitarian assistance. Samantha Power: Correct. I mean, I will say, of course, we all agree the hostages should be released, absolutely. An absolute outrage that they had been kept this long and the horror and terror for their families, the families of those individuals I can't even contemplate but yes, food must flow. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): Kids can't be starved because you have two groups that are at war with each other. Samantha Power: Food must flow and food has not flowed in sufficient quantities to avoid this imminent famine in the south and these conditions that are giving rise already to child deaths in the north. 2:29:20 Samantha Power: Again, trusted partners like World Food Programme and UNICEF and others have not reported that Hamas is getting in the way of distributing humanitarian assistance. And I will say, nor are we getting those reports from the IDF who are present on the ground in Gaza. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC): I have been getting reports, in fact, that Hamas is targeting, punishing or hindering Palestinians who are working with the international community to provide humanitarian assistance. You have not seen any evidence of that? Samantha Power: I would be very interested in those reports, but that is not what our partners are reporting back to us. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC): Do you believe that Hamas is benefiting from the aid that we are providing to Gaza? Samantha Power: I mean, I don't even know how to think about that question in this moment when Hamas is on the run and being pursued across Gaza. So, you know, I don't think they are in a position, because of what the IDF is doing, to benefit per se. Would family members of Hamas potentially begin getting access at a food distribution? You know, that's possible. It's going to civilians. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC): Do you have any idea how Hamas fighters are getting their food? Samantha Power: I don't. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC): So it is a difficult balance to strike when we desperately want to make sure that innocent Palestinians don't suffer and don't starve, but we don't want to do anything to embolden Hamas. 2:46:10 Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): There was already serious concern with the operations of UNRWA prior to the administration's decision to cut funding. Further this past November, I led floor debate to pass the Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act, which discussed the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel curricula taught to children in Gaza and the West Bank, a curriculum taught by UNRWA employees. So while yes, we appreciate the prohibition on new funding in January, this is long overdue, as there were clear and present issues that UNRWA that look like were ignored by the administration. 2:48:45 Samantha Power: Putting people who want to eliminate another people in power is not anything that anybody would have wished. But the effect is that the governing institution had significant leverage over the UN agency that was carrying out -- Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): A terrorist state that has had control over this agency, which is in part why we have pushed to defund it. Would you support future year Appropriations defunding UNRWA? Samantha Power: I don't know if you've had a chance to talk to the King of Jordan, for example. Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): I've had dinner with him, in Jordan. Samantha Power: And about what it is going to mean for the Jordanian people to have 2 million young people basically looking for where their schools are going to get support. Now, it may be that the Europeans and others come in and address this issue and it doesn't -- Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): Defunding UNWRA does not mean that we don't deal with humanitarian issues. It doesn't mean that we don't -- Samantha Power: No, no but it just is the school system. Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): It doesn't mean that we don't deal with it, it means we find a different vehicle by which to do this, but UNRWA itself has proven to be corrupt. Samantha Power: You've been here for much of the exchange. There's no NGO, there's no UN agency that creates school systems. There's no, like, U haul where there's a school system that you just deploy in Jordan, to educate 2.6 million Jordanian kids, it just doesn't work that way. Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): Respectfully, being snide about it is not actually solving the issue here. The reality is UNRWA is not the vehicle by which we should be sending American taxpayer dollars at this point. It's just not. Samantha Power: We will follow the law. Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): Right, my question to you was, do you support moving forward? Samantha Power: I'm describing the benefits of educating young people across the region and providing health services, and I'm not seeing a viable alternative. So I would suggest -- Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): So you believe we should continue? Samantha Power: I think, first of all, we don't know what Gaza is going to look like after this war ends. Hopefully, Hamas will be dismantled and new institutions will be in place whereby they will take care of educating their own young people, and you won't need a UN agency to do it. But it is extremely important that we look out for young people in Gaza, it is going to do nobody any favors for them not to have access to an education Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): No, the fact is, on October 7, part of the reason that you had that type of terrorist attack is because of the level of hatred and anti-semitism that is taught in schools in Gaza. That is part of the problem here. And UNRWA helped in terms of allowing for that to occur under the guise of a UN agency. It is disgusting. It is shameful, and the fact that we as the United States have helped support that organization helped fund it is an embarrassment. And that's why we fought to defund it. 3:00:00 Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA): I am hypercritical of the alleged 12 or 15, who may have been infiltrating as Hamas, who may have participated in the October 7, horrendous barbaric attack. But you don't throw everybody and all the good work out. Because I want to ask you, if we continue this pause, if the world said we will not help you UNRWA, your however many thousands of workers who are on the ground, who keep coming to work even when their whole families are killed, what will happen with famine in Gaza, if we just shut it down? No more UNRWA. By the way, they're not educating. We know that they can't even do that now. They have incredibly important vaccines and medical aid to to be a part of, but the essentialness of food and water. What happens if we continue this disinformation campaign of 'Defund UNRWA'? Samantha Power: Well, first, thank you for bringing some facts into the conversation that I probably should have raised before, including just the horrific loss of life for those who work for UNRWA. And in general, you know, more than 228 workers killed by IDF or in my IDF military operations to this point, including, most recently of course, the World Central Kitchen colleagues, devastatingly. And thank you also for reminding us all. UNRWA is an organization in Gaza alone of 13,000 people. The vast majority of those people have not been propagating hate but have been actually trying to educate young people. The literacy rate in Gaza-West Bank, I think, is something like 99%. It's one of the most effective literacy efforts in any of the places that USAID works. In terms of what would happen if the whole thing shut down....Right now, it looks like other countries are stepping up to avert that scenario. But, you know, I just cannot overstate how chaotic and how horrific the conditions in Gaza are. You've spoken to them. The visuals speak to the level of destruction. There's no work-around for the infrastructure that they provide. After the war, when there's a new administration of Gaza, if that comes about, obviously, that's itself extremely complicated. You know, the question of who is providing education as they try to rebuild virtually everything from scratch and the education and the health sector? You know, some of these questions will be will be addressed. But right now, there is no way to avert large scale famine without relying on the humanitarian backbone that has been enriched for decades, and that remains UNRWA today. We are going to follow the law, we are going to work through other partners. But, I started to say this earlier: even the government of Israel, which had banned UNRWA's participation in convoys, because of the food crisis - and US engagement, I hope - has now decided that UNRWA can in fact be part of convoys going to the North because they recognize there's just no other way. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA): Right. And I want to commend to anybody to please meet with the director of UNRWA who is stationed in Rafah: a 20-plus-year US military veteran. I don't know how people stay at this kind of work with the risks that they are taking, but they are there. Music by Editing Production Assistance
5/23/20241 hour, 54 minutes, 15 seconds
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CD291: Warrantless Spying Continues

“FISA 702” allows the government to spy on foreigners and store the information that they collect about American citizens incidentally. After more than a decade of FBI officials inappropriately searching the database of our information without warrants, Congress just reauthorized the program and made some changes - some reigning the program in and some expanding it. In this episode, learn what those changes are and how they are likely to affect you. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes FISA Jasper Ward. April 20, 2024. Reuters. Luke Goldstein. April 12, 2024. The American Prospect. December 2019. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General. Edward C. Liu. April 13, 2016. Congressional Research Service. History of Surveillance Mark Klein. November 8, 2007. C-SPAN Washington Journal. James Risen and Eric Lichtblau. December 16, 2005. The New York Times. NSA Spy Center Kashmir Hill. March 4, 2013. Forbes. James Bamford. March 15, 2012. Wired. PRISM program T.C. Sottek and Janus Kopfstein. July 17, 2013. The Verge. Laws Vote Breakdowns Audio Sources April 19, 2024 April 12, 2024 Speakers: November 8, 2007 C-SPAN Washington Journal Music by Editing Production Assistance
4/24/20241 hour, 10 minutes, 18 seconds
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CD290: Israel War Money: What’s Already Law

After an unprecedented embassy bombing followed by an unprecedented drone and missile attack, Israel and Iran may have us on the brink of WWIII. In this episode, as Congress and the Biden administration ponder additional support for Israel, we take a look at what has already been approved for Israel in the 2024 defense authorization and funding law. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes Netanyahu Howard Eissenstat. Sept 20, 2012. Slate. Akiva Eldar. February 10, 2009. Haaretz. Attacks on U.S. Bases Ken Klippenstein. February 9, 2024. The Intercept. Doug G. Ware. November 6, 2023. Stars and Stripes. Doug G. Ware. October 31, 2023. Stars and Stripes. Iran-Israel Conflict David Hearst. April 15, 2024. Middle East Eye. Tom Spender. April 15, 2024. BBC. Ken Klippenstein and Daniel Boguslaw. April 14, 2024. The Intercept. Barak Ravid. April 14, 2024. Axios. Ben Samuels. April 14, 2024. Haaretz. Cassandra Vinograd and Natan Odenheimer. April 14, 2024. The New York Times. Permanent Mission of I.R.Iran to UN, NY (@Iran_UN). April 13, 2024. Ellen Knickmeyer and Lolita C. Baldor. April 3, 2024. PBS NewsHour. Fear of U.S. War with Iran Ali Vaez. April 15, 2024. Foreign Affairs. Murtaza Hussain. April 14, 2024. The Intercept. Carol E. Lee et al. April 14, 2024. NBC News. Uri Misgav. November 23, 2023. Haaretz. Julian Borger. December 17, 2023. The Guardian. Marwan Bishara. October 9, 2023. Aljazeera. Defense funding for Israel Yuval Azulay. April 15, 2024.” CTech by Calcalist. Noah Robertson. November 15, 2023. Defense News. Jeremy M. Sharp. March 1, 2023. Congressional Research Service via Raytheon. 2021. Rafael. Jeremy M. Sharp. September 30, 2014. Congressional Research Service via Tony Capaccio. May 27, 2014. Bloomberg. January 7, 2014. Boeing. Boeing and Raytheon Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Open Secrets. Open Secrets. Open Secrets. Open Secrets. Foreign Military Financing Nathan J. Lucas and Michael J. Vassalotti. February 21, 2020. Congressional Research Service via March 2017. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, U.S. Department of Defense.* Abraham Accords U.S. Department of State. Jordan Zvi Bar’el. April 15, 2024. Haaretz. Jonathan Shamir. April 16, 2023. Haaretz. Saudi Arabia April 14, 2024. Al Arabiya English. Laws Executive Producer Recommended Sources King Abdullah. 1947. From the Internet Archive, originally published in The American Magazine. Music by Editing Production Assistance
4/17/20241 hour, 10 minutes, 44 seconds
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CD289: The Not A TikTok Ban Bill

A bill is quickly moving through Congress that supposedly would “ban TikTok.” While it is clearly aimed at TikTok, this bill is really about creating a new Presidential power to remove Americans’ access to apps, websites, games and other entire tech platforms. In this episode, using the text of the bill itself, we examine how exactly this new censorship power would work if the bill passes the Senate and becomes law. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes The Not a TikTok Ban Bill Drew Harwell et al. March 13, 2024. The Washington Post. David E. Sanger. March 13, 2024. The New York Times. Aamer Madhani. March 8, 2024. AP News. Opposition to the bill Jenna Leventoff. March 13, 2024. ACLU. Access Now et al. March 12, 2024. ACLU. How we got here Dan Primack. March 12, 2024. Axios. Samantha Delouya and Brian Fung. November 30, 2023. CNN. Emily Baker-White. August 21, 2023. Forbes. November 20, 2023. Reuters. Brian Fung. December 30, 2022. CNN. James K. Jackson. February 14, 2020. Congressional Research Service. Grindr Echo Wang. May 13, 2019. Reuters. Jeff Farrah. April 15, 2019. TechCrunch. ByteDance Lily Kuo and Annabelle Timsit. March 13, 2024. The Washington Post. April 16, 2023. TikTok. Censorship and Spying Jonathan Vanian. January 22, 2024. CNBC. May 16, 2023. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Office of Public Affairs. Marielle Descalsota. December 27, 2022. Business Insider. Lily Hay Newman. May 7, 2019. Wired. Israel and AIPAC Camille Bressange. March 16, 2024. The Wall Street Journal. Kate Linthicum. March 13, 2024. The Los Angeles Times. Celine Alkhaldi et al. March 8, 2024. CNN. December 3, 2023. Velshi on MSNBC. Rep. Mike Gallagher. November 1, 2023. The Free Press. Mater Dei High School. TikTok September 20, 2021. BBC. The Bill Audio Sources House Floor March 13, 2024 Clips 19:00 Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY): There was there were some people who were legitimately concerned that this was an overly broad bill and they got an exclusion written into the bill that I want to read. It says the term "covered company" does not include an entity that operates a website or application, whose primary purpose is to allow users to post product reviews, business reviews, or travel information and reviews. Why is this exception in the bill? Why did somebody feel like they needed this exception if the bill itself only covers social media applications that foreign adversaries are running now? 21:15 Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ): While this bill establishes a national security framework that could apply to other applications, much of the public attention is focused on TikTok. 23:15 Rep. Michael Gallagher (R-WI): Mr. Speaker, TikTok is a threat to our national security because it is owned by ByteDance, which does the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party. We know this because ByteDance’s leadership says so and because Chinese law requires it. This bill, therefore, would force TikTok to break up with the Chinese Communist Party. It does not apply to American companies. It only applies to companies subject to the controlof foreign adversaries defined by Congress. It says nothing about election interference and cannot be turned against any American social media platform. It does not impact websites in general. The only impacted sites are those associated with foreign adversary apps, such as It can never be used to penalize individuals. The text explicitly prohibits that. It cannot be used to censor speech. It takes no position at all on the content of speech, only foreign adversary control of what is becoming the dominant news platform for Americans under 30. 25:55 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): This divestment requirement is not new. It's not without precedent. When the app Grindr, a popular LGBTQ app, was acquired by a Chinese company, and the United States government determined that sensitive data of LGBTQ members of the military and US government officials got into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, they required divestment. This happened quickly. Why? Because Grindr was a very valuable social media company. The same is true with regard to TikTok, and there will be no disruption to users, just as there was with Grindr. 27:25 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Last week, under the leadership of the Chairwoman and the Ranking Member, they brought up for consideration our bill before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. On the morning of that vote, TikTok, delivered a push notification and a pop up to thousands of users across the country. They used geolocation data targeting minor children to then force them to call congressional offices in order to continue using the app. And in doing so, these children called and they asked the question: what is Congress? And what is a Congressman? This influence campaign illustrates the need for this bill. 29:20 Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH): The people sponsoring this bill today claim that the real issue is ownership. But who owns this company? It's not 100% owned by Bytedance. 60% of it's owned by investors, including American investors. 20% are owned by the founders and 20% are owned by over 7000 employees. The company's headquarters is not in China, it's in Singapore. And the American user data isn't housed in China. It's housed in Texas, controlled by a database owned by Oracle. 30:20 Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH): So if we think we can address the privacy concerns, what's left to address? Frankly, content moderation. Remember, before Elon Musk bought the crime scene at Twitter, it was all a conspiracy theory that these algorithms were silencing and canceling people. You guys are crazy. Now when Elon Musk bought Twitter, he did keep it operating with 80% fewer employees. But what we found is a lot of the employees were trying to do content moderation, shape who sees what and how they see it, which algorithms are used, how does it promote certain people and, and filter others? So really, what you're saying here is if you're not fully engaged with America's three letter agencies in content moderation, we plan to 'TikTok' you. And this bill isn't just limited to TikTok. It's a coercive power that can be applied to other apps like Telegram, Tor. Things that provide privacy would be targeted by this bill. 34:20 Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): First of all, this is not a ban on TikTok. I'm a grandmother of teenagers, I understand the entertainment value, the educational value, communication value, the business value for some businesses on this. This is not an attempt to ban TikTok. Its an attempt to make TikTok better. Tic Tac Toe. A winner, a winner. 41:00 Brett Guthrie (R-KY): I was asked, does this just affect TikTok? And no, it's any foreign adversary, or any app that is owned, controlled or unduly influenced by any foreign adversary. We must protect our national security and help keep America's private data out of the hands of our foreign adversaries. I urge support of this bill, and I yield back. 51:55 Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN): After hearing from national security experts last week, it is clear the prolific use of media platforms controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and other foreign adversaries poses a danger to our country. 53:15 Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA): This bill would greatly expand the Executive's authority to ban tech companies with zero congressional oversight. I cannot sign a blank check to some future president who would easily and dangerously weaponize this legislation to profit in silence. 55:20 Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL): We aren't banning a company, as the high paid lobbyists for Bytedance - which is owned by China - would lead you to believe. We aren't infringing on constitutionally protected speech or growing the size of government. All we're saying is, Break up with the Chinese Communist Party. 1:02:30 Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY): Who's going to be prosecuted by this bill? Is it Bytedance or TikTok? Will they be taken to court? No. I mean, they're the target of this, but how do you elicit or effect a ban on them? By prosecuting Americans? The only way you can ban TikTok and the other companies from being here is to say what this bill says, which is the government will bring a civil action suit against you, if you so much as host them here. If you have an app store that allows them to be here, you're an American or an American company and you will be the target of this bill. Those are the only people who can be pursued under this bill and I know it's in order to go after TikTok, or so they say. Music by Editing Production Assistance
3/15/202458 minutes, 19 seconds
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CD288: Government Funding 101

As we enter another round of government funding drama, let’s learn the basics. In this episode, we examine how the process is supposed to work, spot the tell tale signs that something has gone wrong, and decipher all of the DC wonky words that make the appropriations process seem more complicated than it really is. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Appropriations February 8, 2023. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations. Mandatory vs. Discretionary Spending Updated October 24, 2022. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Government Shutdown February 26, 2024. Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Omnibus Bills Andrew Taylor. December 22, 2020. AP News. Earmarks February 9, 2005. Taxpayers for Common Sense. Retrieved from the Wayback Machine version from October 25, 2008. What Happens Next Jamie Dupree. March 5, 2024. Regular Order. Audio Sources House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Defense January 12, 2022 Witness: Mike McCord, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Clips 29:51 Mike McCord: First, as I believe you’re all aware a full year CR, we reduce our funding level below what we requested and what we believe we need. On the surface at the department level as a whole, the reduction to our accounts would appear to be about a billion dollars below our request, which would be significant. Even if that was the only impact. The actual reduction in practice will be much greater. Because we would have significant funding that’s misaligned, trapped or frozen in the wrong places and unusable because we don’t have the tools or flexibilities to realign funds on anything like the scam we would need to fix all the problems that the chiefs are going to describe. 30:27 Mike McCord: I know all of you are very familiar with the fact that virtually all military construction projects in each year’s budget including the FY 22 budget are new starts that cannot be executed under a CR. Music by Editing Production Assistance
3/6/202442 minutes, 27 seconds
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CD287: War Money

It’s been four months since President Biden requested over $100 billion in war money for Israel and Ukraine and the Senate has now passed a bill that would provide most of the money. In this episode, we examine the events that lead up to and have occurred since President Biden’s address to the nation, and analyze the Senate bill along with its possible paths to becoming law. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes October 7 Attack Aluf Benn. February 21, 2024. Haaretz. Liza Rozovsky. January 6, 2024. Haaretz. Amos Harel. November 27, 2023. Haaretz. November 18, 2023. Josh Breiner. Haaretz. Hagar Shezaf and Jack Khoury. October 6, 2023. Haaretz. Aftermath of the October 7 Attack Ran Shimoni et al. February 24, 2024. Haaretz. October 20, 2023. White House Briefing Room. Michael D. Shear. October 19, 2023. The New York Times. October 19, 2023. Democracy Now! History of Palestine and Israel Bernard Avishai. February 2024. Harper’s Magazine. October 20, 2023. The World. Directed by Erin Axelman and Sam Eilertsen, produced by Daniel J. Chalfen, Nadia Saah, and Erin Axelman. 2023. OCHA. June 2022. UNICEF. Rashid Khalidi. Macmillan Audio: 2020. Directed by Abby Martin. 2019. Empire Files. Ian Black. Tantor Audio: 2018. Darryl Cooper. 2015-2016. Martyrmade Podcast. April 16, 2015. Defense for Children International - Palestine. March 2012. Visualizing Palestine. Balfour Declaration Zena Al Tahhan. November 2, 2018. Al Jazeera. Lord Arthur James Balfour. November 2, 1917. Jewish Virtual Library. Vanishing Palestine Retrieved on February 27, 2024. Wikipedia: the free Encyclopedia. October 11, 2023. BBC. Hagar Shezaf. December 11, 2020. Haaretz. May 12, 2020. Human Rights Watch. Mitchell Bard. Jewish Virtual Library. Al Jazeera. Alex Hartman et al. December 9, 2004. Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. 2003. Creation of Israel 1947. April 1983. United Nations. Lebanon Rania Abouzeid. October 21, 2023. The New Yorker. Tom Perry et al. October 18, 2022. Reuters. Dahiya Doctrine December 7, 2012. Institute for Middle East Understanding. Gabi Siboni. October 2, 2008. INSS Insight. November 23, 2006. UN General Assembly Human Rights Council. Gaza Death Toll AJLabs. Retrieved on February 27, 2024. Al Jazeera. Amna Nawaz and Sonia Kopelev. February 9, 2024. PBS NewsHour. Linda Dayan. December 26, 2023. Haaretz. June 23, 2015. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Caabu. Rory McCarthy. September 15, 2009. The Guardian. Post-October 7 Land Grab Henriette Chacar. February 23, 2024. Reuters. Julia Frankel. February 23, 2024. AP News. Liza Rozovsky. February 15, 2024. Haaretz. Nir Hasson and Rachel Fink. January 28, 2024. Haaretz. Abdelraouf Arnaout. January 3, 2024. Anadolu Agency. Itai Weiss. December 27, 2023. Haaretz. Yitzhak Benbaji et al. November 30, 2023. Haaretz. Isaac Chotiner. November 11, 2023. The New Yorker. Uploaded by LocalCall. October 13, 2023. Scribd. Gas Rights Walid Abuhelal. February 20, 2024. Middle East Eye. Israeli Nukes Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation. Ceasefire Amy Spiro et al. November 30, 2023. The Times of Israel. Omar Shakir. November 29, 2023. Human Rights Watch. The Destruction of Gaza James Mackenzie and Nidal Al-Mughrabi. February 15, 2024. Reuters. Mithil Aggarwal and Yasmine Salam. January 18, 2024. NBC News. Yahya R. Sarraj. December 24, 2023. The New York Times. Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber. December 21, 2023. Reuters. U.S. Aid to Israel Matthew Lee. December 29, 2023. PBS NewsHour. Michael D. Shear and Karoun Demirjian. October 20, 2023. The New York Times. Limiting Aid to Gaza Katie Polglase and Muhammad Darwish. February 21, 2024. CNN. Rachel Fink. February 7, 2024. Haaretz. Lindsey Hilsum. February 5, 2024. Channel 4 News. Jessica Le Masurier. February 5, 2024. France 24. Netanyahu Rejects Two State Solution January 19, 2024. DW. Why Does the U.S. Government Support Israel? OpenSecrets. Real American History Howard Zinn. Harper Audio: 2009. Ukraine Anatol Lieven. February 24, 2024. Time. Border Crisis Jamie Dupree. February 15, 2024. Regular Order. Caitlin Yilek. February 14, 2024. CBS News. Kelly Garrity. February 5, 2024. Politico. Bills Audio Sources February 11, 2024 Bernie Sanders on X October 19, 2023 C-SPAN Executive Producer Recommended Sources Music by Editing Production Assistance
2/29/20241 hour, 38 minutes, 15 seconds
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We’re Not Wrong Live: New Hampshire

7pm Saturday, January 20 To Share Brewing Company 720 Union St Manchester, NH 03104
1/16/20241 minute, 3 seconds
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CD286: Prolonging the War in Ukraine

Congress is probably going to send approximately $50 billion more, most of that for weapons, to continue the war in Ukraine. In November, high ranking officials from the State Department testified about how the Biden administration intends to use our money and why. In this episode, hear the highlights of their testimony and decide for yourself if you think their goals are worth sacrificing more American money and Ukrainian lives. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes WTF is the World Trade System? Naomi Klein. Picador: 2008. Nicole Narea. October 13, 2023. Vox. Offshore Technology. Ukraine: How We Got Here Branko Marcetic. February 7, 2022. Jacobin. Stanley Reed and Andrew E. Kramer. November 5, 2013. The New York Times. Marieke Ploegmakers. February 5, 2012. All About Feed. Arseniy Yatsenyuk Official Website. Retrieved on December 16, 2023. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. The Ukraine War, by the Map Defence Intelligence, UK Ministry of Defense. December 15, 2023. Visual Journalism Team. November 16, 2023. BBC News. Josh Holder. September 28, 2023. The New York Times. @war_mapper. December 31, 2022. U.S. Support for Ukraine Karoun Demirjian. December 6, 2023. The New York Times. The IMF in Ukraine Oleksandra Betliy. May 5, 2023. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. March 31, 2023. International Monetary Fund. Estelle Nilsson-Julien and Ilaria Federico. March 5, 2023. Euronews. December 21, 2022. International Monetary Fund. Diplomacy Connor Echols. December 1, 2023. Responsible Statecraft. Seymour Hersh. December 1, 2023. Seymour Hersh on Substack. Olena Roshchina. November 24, 2023. Ukrainska Pravda. The Toll of War Jonathan Landay. December 12, 2023. Reuters. John Mazerolle. December 8, 2023. CBC News. Inae Oh. November 8, 2023. Mother Jones. Oleg Sukhov. September 28, 2023. The Kyiv Independent. Israel-Palestine Ian Black. Narrated by Michael Page. Tantor Audio: 2018. Darryl Cooper. The Martyrmade Podcast. Audio Sources November 8, 2023 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Witnesses: , Assistant Secretary of State, European and Eurasian Affairs , Assistant Secretary of State, Energy Resources , Assistant Administrator, Europe and Eurasia, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Clips 1:55 Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): The supplemental funding will strengthen governance and anti-corruption systems. It will improve the resilience of our economies and our energy supply. It will support efforts to come out of the other side of this. We're ready for Ukraine to join EU and also NATO. But this investment in Ukraine goes far beyond its borders. By degrading Russia's military capabilities, we're also degrading the capabilities of those who Russia works with, like Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah. 10:30 Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): First Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O'Brien. Assistant Secretary O'Brien assumed his role just last month after serving as sanctions coordinator at the State Department. He is a former career employee of the department receiving numerous performance awards and serve to previous US administration's as Special Presidential Envoy for hostages and for the Balkans. 11:00 Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): The next will be Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources, Jeffrey R. Pyatt. No stranger to this committee, career diplomat Assistant Secretary Pyatt has been in his current role since September 2022. He served as US Ambassador to Greece and Ukraine. He has held numerous leadership positions through out the department and has won numerous awards. 11:25 Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): And our third witness is Assistant Administrator Erin McKee, who serves as the Assistant Administrator in the Bureau of Europe and Eurasia at USAID. Prior to this position, she was the US Ambassador to Papua New Guinea and to the Solomon Islands. Prior to her Ambassador appointments, as a member of the Senior Foreign Service she served in numerous leadership roles throughout USAID and the embassies abroad. Before her US government career she developed private sector experience including throughout the former Soviet Union. 14:40 James O'Brien: This is around the Black Sea and Crimea. Ukraine has, through its own ingenuity and with weapons that have been provided, loosened Russia's grip. Russia tried to blockade the ability of Ukraine to export, but now Ukraine is starting to export more grain, more metals. And this is enabling it to pay for more of its war itself. So just a few numbers as we go through this. Ukraine is hoping to get about 8 million tons of grain and metals out through the Black Sea over the course of the next year. If it does that, it will provide about $5-6 billion more for its tax base than it has now. That helps to make up the shortfall that our supplemental will cover for the meantime. But it also then provides the employment for millions of its citizens to work within Ukraine. Now, that is a path to victory where we help Ukraine by providing assistance to have its energy grid strengthened, air defense over its employment centers, and the export routed needs so that it is able to fight this fight over the long term and to hold Russia off thereafter. 15:50 James O'Brien: The military assistance in the supplemental is about $45 billion. That goes to acquire American equipment that Ukraine will then use to pay for American service people to support Ukraine and to pay other countries to acquire American equipment after they provide equipment to Ukraine. 16:05 James O'Brien: The direct budget support that we provide to Ukraine enables Ukraine to put all of its tax dollars to support the war. Ukraine pays for about 60% of the costs of this war right now. The direct budget support pays for hundreds of thousands of educators, first responders, firefighters, and health care professionals to work within Ukraine. 16:55 James O'Brien: The next question is, who's with us? We have more than 40 countries. They provide much more assistance to Ukraine than we do. It's about $91 billion to our $70 billion so far. They've hosted 4.5 million Ukrainian refugees at a cost of around $18 billion. They are proposing another $50 billion in assistance just from the European Union. 17:30 James O'Brien: Right now, Ukrainians are willing to do this job because it's in their territory. If we abandon them, then somebody else is going to have to do this job later and it's likely to be us. So I'd rather confront Russia and its destabilizing attitudes right here, right now, and we can finish the job with the supplemental that we've proposed for your consideration. 18:45 Geoffrey R. Pyatt: For Ukraine, this coming winter promises to be even more challenging than the last. Ukraine's generation capacity has degraded about 50% since the start of the war. Ukrainian energy workers have labored day and night, often under fire, to repair, restore, and harden grid and generation facilities, often by cannibalizing parts from elsewhere. But most spare parts by now have been consumed, and Russia has recently resumed its bombardment of power plants and refineries, including just this morning in eastern Ukraine. 20:50 Geoffrey R. Pyatt: The World Bank has estimated that after last winter, Ukraine needed at least $411 billion to rebuild its infrastructure. That was eight months ago. Every day that number grows. Electricity grid damage alone amounted to $10 billion in 2022. Ukraine's economic future depends on investment by the private sector, and energy is key to unlocking that industrial recovery. 21:25 Geoffrey R. Pyatt: American energy companies like Halliburton, GE, and EQT have been active partners in this effort, providing vital equipment to Ukraine and actively exploring future commercial opportunities. We're working together to build a better future for and with Ukraine -- modern, cleaner, and with a more decentralized power sector that is fully integrated with Europe, even serving as a power exporter to the rest of the European Union. 22:10 Geoffrey R. Pyatt: After the full scale invasion, US LNG producers stepped up to surge supplies to Europe, as our allies turned away from Russia as an energy source. Since 2022, US exporters have supplied the EU with approximately 90 million tons of LNG -- three times as much as the next largest supplier. Last year, 70% of US LNG exports went to Europe. Europe's shift away from Russian energy has happened much faster than predicted, and marks a permanent shift in the International Energy map. 25:30 Erin McKee: In response to the immediate crisis, USAID has provided nearly $2 billion in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine since February of 2022. The generosity of the American people has supplied emergency health care, agriculture and energy support to Ukraine's most vulnerable populations. And thanks to the Congressional appropriations, USAID disbursed reliable, sustained direct budget support to the Ukrainian government, along with unprecedented levels of oversight. This enabled first responders, health care workers, teachers and others to continue their vital work and sustain Ukraine's economy and institutions while they defend their country's freedom and sovereignty. 26:10 Erin McKee: To respond to Russia's weaponization of hunger, USAID launched the Agriculture Resilience Initiative to keep farmers afloat. USAID also works very closely with the private sector to improve Ukraine's energy security and transform Ukraine's energy sector into a modern engine of growth. Side by side with our agriculture and energy efforts is USAID's support to small and medium enterprises, helping Ukraine increase jobs and generate revenue. 26:45 Erin McKee: At this time, there is no funding left for direct budget support. Without further appropriations, the government of Ukraine would need to use emergency measures such as printing money or not paying critical salaries, which could lead to hyperinflation and severely damage the war effort. USAID has also exhausted all of its supplemental humanitarian assistance funds. Additional funding is critical in the face of what remains an enormous need. If Congress does not approve supplemental funding, our partner organizations in Ukraine would have to either reduce the number of people getting this humanitarian assistance by up to 75% or suspend our humanitarian programs entirely. 27:30 Erin McKee: USAID also looks to the future to building resilient infrastructure and institutions that will support Ukraine's path towards European Union integration. For decades, USAID has buttressed Ukraine's progress towards transparent, inclusive and accountable governance. The United States continues to help Ukraine carry out judicial reform, institutionalized transparent financial systems, and respond to the people of Ukraine's zero tolerance for corruption. 33:15 Erin McKee: They have not skipped a beat in advancing the reform agenda. The EU report just came out this morning and both Ukraine and Moldova, and a variety of other countries, received support for continuing and opening chapters of recession talks. That's because our support to strengthening and deepening the institutions fighting corruption in Ukraine have received the top priority from the President. They had to pass and meet conditionality that we put on our direct budget support and did so without blinking. So while they're fighting a war and fighting for their survival, they are 100% dedicated to ensuring that the political economy model that they inherited during the Soviet Union is dismantled, which reflects the will of the Ukrainian people. 34:35 Geoffrey R. Pyatt: And one of the real success stories amid the tragedy of this war is that Europe has turned decisively away from its dependence, up until 2022, on Russian gas in particular. I see that as a permanent change in the landscape. It's reflected in the billions of dollars that European countries have invested in regasification facilities. It's reflected in the contracts that are being signed with American LNG producers. And it's also reflected in Europe's renewed and doubled commitment to accelerating the pace of its energy transition. So ironically, Putin's weaponization of his energy resource has induced Europe to break its vulnerability there and I think that is a permanent change in the landscape. That is also a positive benefit for American energy producers in our leadership on the energy transition. 35:55 Sen. James Risch (R-ID): I want to talk about the nuclear reactors we have in the United States, of which there are 95, give or take a few. Would you tell the committee, please, where does the fuel come from to operate these nuclear facilities? Geoffrey R. Pyatt: So, Ranking Member, about 20% of the fuel that operates our nuclear fleet here in the United States still comes from Russia. The President has included in his latest supplemental request for about $2.2 billion to help rebuild the nuclear enrichment capacity that we need here in the United States to end that dependency. And the administration has also stated its support for a ban on the import of Russian nuclear fuel. 43:30 Erin McKee: Right now Ukraine is able to spend all of their national budget in the fight. They are paying their soldiers salaries, they are dedicated to defeating Putin on the front lines. That means they don't have any resources to take care of their people and govern, which is as vital to keep up the unity of purpose and the resilience that we've seen from the Ukrainian people, because they're all in, both on the civilian and the military side. So the types of services that would be suspended are first responders who rush into the building and save lives, medical care to make sure that inoculations stay up so that the Ukrainian population stays healthy, particularly children's routine immunizations. We heard reports of polio outbreaks and some other concerns during the early days of the mass emigration of folks fleeing the conflict. We also are supporting teachers and continuing education so that they don't lose a generation as a result of Putin's attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure so that the kids can stay in school, and that those families — Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE): Am I correct that the direct budget support requested gradually goes down over the next year, as the economy becomes more vibrant and we assess Ukraine is able to generate more revenue? Erin McKee: Correct. The direct budget support and their fiscal stability is also vital for the IMF program and other donors stepping in. Our leadership in this space -- and yes, we were first -- unlocked the other support that we've seen mobilized from the EU and other donors, as well as boosting the confidence in the multilaterals to be able to contribute to Ukraine's economic stability, which is as vital as winning the war. If their economy collapses, Putin will have won. 47:55 Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): As Harvard's Graham Allison points out, if Putin is forced to choose between humiliating defeat on the one hand and escalating the level of destruction, there's every reason to believe he chooses the latter. There's a great deal of evidence that the war in Ukraine has come to a stalemate. Even Ukraine's Commander in Chief of the armed services has admitted as much. In Graham Allison's view, the Ukraine war has escalated far enough to see how bad things would become if we end up in a world where nuclear weapons are used. Allison believes that where we are now, both for Putin's Russia and for the Biden-led US and the Western alliance, it's time to search for an off ramp for all the parties. What is being done at the State Department to search for an off ramp. James O'Brien: Thank you, Senator. A few points. I mean, I can speak to the foreign policy implications. My belief is if we don't stand with Ukraine now, we'll be spending much more on defense in the future. Much of this supplemental goes to reinvest in the United States, so far from rot and ruin, we're actually shoring up the foundations in our energy sector as Assistant Secretary Pyatt — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): So your argument is that war and funding war around the world is good for our armaments industry. James O'Brien: I'm saying this supplemental is good for our economy — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): For the armaments industry. So really, it's a justification of war. To me, that's sort of reprehensible -- and this is coming from my side as well -- the idea that "Oh, glory be, the war's really not that bad. Broken windows are not that bad, because we pay people to fix them. Broken countries are not so bad, because hey, look, the armaments industry is gonna get billions of dollars out of this." I think that's a terrible argument. I wish y'all would go back to your freedom arguments or something. But the idea that you're going to enrich the armaments manufacturers, I think is reprehensible. James O'Brien: Well, Senator, I'm not making the argument war is good. I'm making the argument, in this case, war is necessary. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): And that we can make a little profit on the side. It's not so bad since the armaments guys who make a lot of profit on this, right. James O'Brien: Senator, I think you're proposing a kind of false choice that Ieither have to say that or say nothing. What I'm saying is that our economy rests on a foundation of innovation. And in the supplemental, we're investing in our energy sector — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): But the money is borrowed. We're borrowing the money. We don't have it. We don't have a pot of money. So what you're arguing is, in essence, that we borrow the money from China, we send it to Ukraine, Ukraine, sends it back to buy arms from us, and that's a win-win. How do we win when we're borrowing money to pay people. See this is this false sort of argument that "oh, look, we'll create five jobs for every dollar we spend," but we're borrowing the money. It doesn't make any sense. It's coming from somewhere where it would be a productive use, into the use of basically fomenting a war and continuing on a war. James O'Brien: No, that's not the choice in front of us, Senator. And I'm sorry that you feel that that's the way you want to frame it. The choice in front of us is do we invest in the capacities that allow this war to be won? Those include capacities in energy, in defense, in IT, and they include — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): Let's get away from funding the armaments people. You know, I'm not for that. But the original question is, what are you doing to develop an off ramp? You know, when I listen to your presentations, it sounds like the Department of War, I don't hear the Department of diplomacy in front of me. Where are the diplomats? Is anybody talking about negotiation? Do you really believe that Ukraine is gonna push Russia out of out of Ukraine, they're gonna push them out of Crimea, push them out of the East, and that Zelenskyy's is position, "we will not negotiate till they're gone from Ukraine," is viable? And that there's not going to have to be some negotiation beforehand? If you believe that, though, the meat grinder continues and Ukraine will be in utter destruction and tens of thousands more people will die if there is no negotiation. You would think that as a superpower, we would be involved somewhat with encouraging negotiation. But I've heard nothing from you, and nothing from anyone in your administration, frankly, that talks about negotiating. James O'Brien: Well, Senator, then I hope you would sit down and talk with me about what we're doing in this regard. Here, I'll give you a little sense of it. All wars end with a negotiation. We've made clear we'll do that with Ukraine, not over Ukraine's head. It takes two parties to negotiate the end of a war. President Putin is not serious about negotiating the end of the war. He has said he wants to wait and see what happens in November 2024. We're preparing for that eventuality so we can have a negotiation that will actually stick as opposed to the track record of broken agreements that President Putin has made with a whole range of his neighbors up until now. So that's successful diplomacy, not mere diplomacy. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): There are actually some who say we're back to about where we started as far as negotiating and tens of thousands of people have died on both sides, and we haven't been successful. But I still hear only war and I don't hear diplomacy. James O'Brien: No but I think what we're looking at is successful diplomacy. I just spent last weekend with 66 countries talking about the basis of a successful peace in Ukraine. Russia didn't show up. That, again, is the problem. You don't have a willing partner on the other side, so simply saying that there must be talks is -- you're asking for a monologue, not diplomacy. 55:00 Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR): You know, I'm really struck by the parallel to the journey of Chamberlain to Munich to say, "Okay, Hitler, you can take a third of Czechoslovakia" and then he declared peace in our time, under the assumption that somehow this would not whet Hitler's appetite. Did Chamberlain's strategy work? James O'Brien: No. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR): Will this strategy now, of us bailing on Ukraine to appease Putin, work? James O'Brien: No, it'll invite more aggression. 1:01:40 Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE): Do you think we should condition US aid to prevent US tax dollars from supporting PRC-owned or controlled entities from providing the reconstruction? James O'Brien: Senator, we do. That's why it's so important to have the supplemental so that we remain in the game and can set the conditions that make it impossible for opaque, illegitimate contractors like the Chinese to enter. And I know my colleagues can speak at some length about how in energy, telecomms, and other sectors we do exactly that. But if we're not there, then we can't we can't provide the guarantees you want. 1:05:35 James O'Brien: There are about $2.2 billion to go to both the energy supply and to the economic activity that's needed for Ukraine to begin to repair its access to the outside world. That's also important to us. When Russia invaded Ukraine, grain prices went up six times in many places around the world, because Ukraine is an incredibly important part of the global grain trade. The work that AID does to help Ukrainian farmers get their products to market, in the supplemental, the $100 million that is for demining will help farmers get their product to market. All of that directly benefits the markets in which our consumers are a part. So if we do all that, if we can get them to about pre-war export levels, that's an extra $6 billion a year in tax revenue just from the exports, as well as what the industries pay and what happens around the society. Now, Secretary Pritzker, and she should come and testify this herself, she's doing an outstanding job at building a strategy that lets us focus our efforts in key places, so that Ukraine's economy will begin to work and contribute to the global economy, even while this war is going on. All of that works together to make sure that Ukraine can succeed and has the leverage needed when we get to a negotiation, as Senator Paul wants. 1:13:55 Geoffrey R. Pyatt: So I would point out that the greatest threat to the energy grid today are the Shahed drones, which Russia is now beginning to industrialize the production of those. We can talk about that in a classified setting, but there is a direct Iran-Russia nexus in the attacks on Ukraine's energy system. 1:24:10 Geoffrey R. Pyatt: We are working as hard as we can to accelerate that trend. We do that through two mechanisms. One is by accelerating our energy transition, both here in the United States, but also globally, as the Biden administration has done through the Inflation Reduction Act to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. But the other aspect of this is what we are doing systematically to reduce Russia's future energy revenue. Just last week, for instance, we leveled new sanctions against a project in the in the Arctic, Arctic LNG 2, which is Novatek's flagship LNG project, which Novatek set in motion with the aspiration of developing Russia as the largest LNG exporter in the world. Our objective is to kill that project, and we're doing that through our sanctions, working with our partners in the G7 and beyond. 1:26:00 James O'Brien: Russia is losing its lucrative markets. That's what got it rich enough to afford this war. It's losing out in the sectors of innovation that are going to drive economic development in the future. So we look at this and say, "Does it put pressure on Putin to get to the table?" Well, yes, it does. It's going to take a little time. He started the war with 640 billion in a rainy day fund. By the start of this year, despite record profits last year, he was down around 580, we immobilized 300 of that, and he spent down further from there. So that gives them a year, two years maybe, of run room on that rainy day fund that all came from selling oil and gas. So that's gone. The second thing is that we don't see Russia able to play in the sectors that are going to drive innovation and economic growth in the future. The areas of quantum mechanics, artificial intelligence, the energy transition, including the new nuclear technologies that are coming on board, and Senator Risch, your work on this I really appreciate, because Russia entangled countries in these long term networks of corruption, with generation-long Rosatom contracts. We're now competing for those again, and taking those sectors away from Russia. That changes the long term prospect from what it was. The result of all this is we anticipate that Russia's GDP is going to be at least 20% smaller by 2030 than it would be if Putin had not started this war. So it's a long term strategic loss for him, and it creates a great opportunity for us in a number of important sectors. 1:35:30 Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): I understand, and this is not critical. I agree that we can't allow borders to be changed unilaterally and we have to stand with our allies. I'm not diminishing any of those things. But those arguments are too vague. They make sense here, but I'm just telling you they're too vague. This notion that we need to do whatever it takes for however long it takes, is also misguided. Not because that's not necessarily what we need to do, but because that's not going to be enough for people who are asking these questions. I would just say if you had an opportunity, any of you three, or all you three to talk to someone, say someone that came up to me a week ago and said, "Why are we still putting all this money in Ukraine. I hate Putin, I hate what he's done, but we've got all these other things domestically and in other parts of the world that are more important, including China, and now what's happening in the Middle East. How are we going to be spending $60 billion every six months? For how long? Given the debt that we already have?" What would you say to them? And how would you explain to them that this fits into their national interest in that perspective I've just outlined? James O'Brien: That's really well framed, Senator, so I'll do my best here. I think the first thing I'd say is you got to shore up your own base. If we're going to confront China over the next decades, it's 1.4 billion people, that's looking to write the rules that the world economy will run on. We go at them with a coalition of 50-odd countries, Europe is about 600-700 million of that, we're 350 million. With that already, we're set to compete really effectively. Ukraine, though, is a challenge by Putin trying to fray that foundation. So we have to shore that up if we're going to have the heft to compete with China over time. The battle over Ukraine also allows us to reinvigorate our own industrial base, we're creating new energy technologies and putting them in place around the world. We're building new defense technologies, the work that's being done in IT, all of that's included in this supplemental, and that's going to make us better able to defend Taiwan, to work in the South China Sea, than we have otherwise. The final point I'd make is, this is the wrong time to walk away because Ukraine's winning. It's already taken back half the territory Putin seized since February 2022. It opened up the Black Sea grain lanes that Putin tried to shut down in July, did that mostly with its own creativity around a whole set of interesting drones and other technologies that are going to contribute to our security as Ukraine gets closer to NATO. So those are all reasons you don't walk away when you're partway through the job. 1:41:10 Geoffrey R. Pyatt: Ukraine is not a charity case. In economic and development terms, it's an opportunity. Developing that opportunity depends on restoring a level of peace. But as we look to the future, you're going to have a Europe which has decoupled from Russian energy supplies, which means that there's a hole of about 130 BCM per year in energy supply that Europe is going to have to fill. Over the short term, some of that is American LNG, but that's a very expensive option. Ukraine has fantastic resources on wind, on solar, on biomass. It has Europe's second largest civil nuclear industry. It has developed and has demonstrated an extraordinary technological acuity. Just look at how clever Ukrainian soldiers have been in the application of drone technology. These are all the skill sets that Ukraine will need to prosper as a member of the European Union. My colleague, Assistant Administrator McKee, referred to the statement which European President Vanderlaan delivered today welcoming the significant progress that Ukraine has made on its reforms, and her and the Commission's determination to move ahead with Ukraine's accession to the European Union. And I would say as somebody who served as an American ambassador in the EU for six years, what Ukraine represents is a demographically young population, a population which is fantastically committed to the values of the European Union. Ukraine is the only place in the world where people have fought and died under the flag of the EU for the values that are represented in the European constitutions. So I think these are the investments in the leadership that Secretary Pritzker is providing to help our companies and companies around the world begin to make plans for the day after and to work with Ukrainians to keep pushing forward the reforms, which are fundamental to creating the environment where American energy companies, renewable energy companies can come into Ukraine, where we can use Ukraine to help to fill the huge challenges that our global supply chain faces. In the Soviet Union, Ukraine was the center of Soviet metallurgy, the center of Soviet petrochemicals industries, all of those latent skills are still there. You talked about nuclear, Ukraine has a company in Kharkiv, Turboatom, which is one of the few facilities in all of Europe that has the industrial capacity to produce the large steel enclosures that are part of building modern nuclear reactors. So I applaud your focus on this and I know I speak for all three of us and how systematically we're focused on trying to lay the foundation for that better future that the Ukrainian people so richly deserve. 1:53:55 James O'Brien: Ukraine has won back 50% of the territory Russia took since February of 2022. The second piece that's important: Putin is playing a waiting game, like many Muscovite rulers before him. So it's difficult to get a decisive battle. So what we need is what's in the supplemental that has the ability to fight this fight over some time, and we do see real success. So in the Black Sea, Russia attempted to stop Ukraine from exporting. In July, exports were down 2-2.5 million tons; they're already more than doubled, and expect to see them go up substantially more. That's because of what Ukraine has done with its technology and its new weapons systems, more of which would be provided by the supplemental. February 4, 2014 On Demand News on YouTube Speakers: Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, 2013-2017 Geoffrey Pyatt, United States Ambassador to Ukraine, 2013-2016 Clips Victoria Nuland: Good. So I don’t think Klitsch [Vitali Klitschko] should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Geoffrey Pyatt: Yeah, I mean I guess, in terms of him not going into the government, just sort of letting him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of, sort of, the process moving ahead, we want to keep the moderate Democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok and his guys and I’m sure that’s part of what Yanukovych is calculating on all this. Victoria Nuland: I think Yatz [Arseniy Yatsenyuk] is the guy with the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the guy. What he needs is Klitsch [Vitali Klitschko] And Tyahnybok On the outside, he needs to be talking to them four times a week. You know, I just think Klitsch [Vitali Klitschko] Going in he’s going to be at that level working for Yatsenyuk it’s just not gonna work. Geoffrey Pyatt: We want to get someone out here with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing. And then the other issue is some kind of outreach to Yanukovych. We’ll probably regroup on that tomorrow as we see how things fall into place. Victoria Nuland: So on that piece, Jeff, I wrote the note, Sullivan’s come back to me saying “you need Biden,” and I said probably tomorrow for an attaboy and get the deets to stick, Biden’s willing. Geoffrey Pyatt: Great. December 19, 2013 The Atlantic Council Speaker: John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona, 1987-2018 Clips 16:45 Sen. John McCain: If Ukraine’s political crisis persists or deepens, which is a real possibility, we must support creative Ukrainian efforts to resolve it. Senator Murphy and I heard a few such ideas last weekend—from holding early elections, as the opposition is now demanding, to the institution of a technocratic government with a mandate to make the difficult reforms required for Ukraine’s long-term economic health and sustainable development. Decisions such as these are for Ukrainians to make—no one else—and if they request our assistance, we should provide it where possible. Finally, we must encourage the European Union and the IMF to keep their doors open to Ukraine. Ultimately, the support of both institutions is indispensable for Ukraine’s future. And eventually, a Ukrainian President, either this one or a future one, will be prepared to accept the fundamental choice facing the country, which is this: While there are real short-term costs to the political and economic reforms required for IMF assistance and EU integration, and while President Putin will likely add to these costs by retaliating against Ukraine’s economy, the long-term benefits for Ukraine in taking these tough steps are far greater and almost limitless. This decision cannot be borne by one person alone in Ukraine. Nor should it be. It must be shared—both the risks and the rewards—by all Ukrainians, especially the opposition and business elite. It must also be shared by the EU, the IMF and the United States. All of us in the West should be prepared to help Ukraine, financially and otherwise, to overcome the short-term pain that reforms will require and Russia may inflict. April 20, 1994 Southern Center for International Studies Speaker: Arthur Dunkel, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, 1980-1993 Clips 26:55 Arthur Dunkel: If I look back at the last 25 years, what did we have? We had two worlds: The so-called Market Economy world and the centrally planned world; the centrally planned world disappeared. One of the main challenges of the Uruguay round has been to create a world wide system. I think we have to think of that. Secondly, why a world wide system? Because, basically, I consider that if governments cooperate in trade policy field, you reduce the risks of tension – political tension and even worse than that." Music by Editing Production Assistance
12/17/20231 hour, 55 minutes, 55 seconds
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Bonus! December Preview with Justin Robert Young

December is busy season in a Congress that has done nothing all year. In this bonus episode - which features Congressional Dish host Jen Briney as a guest on the December 1st episode of Politics, Politics, Politics with Justin Robert Young - we take a look at what we expect in Congress during the final month of a Congressionally chaotic year. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via  Support Congressional Dish via  (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to:  Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media!   Listen to the full December 1 episode of Politics, Politics, Politics  
12/5/202345 minutes, 11 seconds
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CD285: The Indicteds: Rep. George Santos and Sen. Robert Menendez

Two members of Congress, one from each side of the aisle and each branch of Congress, are currently under criminal indictment, yet are steadfastly clinging to their roles as lawmakers. In this episode, we’ve got the dirt straight from the criminal indictments of Rep. George Santos of New York and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes Sen. Bob Menendez The Indictment Egypt Aysha Bagchi and Josh Meyer. November 13, 2023. USA Today. Mark Mazzetti and Vivian Yee. October 14, 2023. The New York Times. Larry Neumeister. October 12, 2023. AP. Nicole Hong et al. October 1, 2023. The New York Times. Jeremy M. Sharp. May 2, 2023. Congressional Research Service. Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam October 24, 2020. BBC News. September 2, 2020. The New York Times. Marriage Nina Burleigh. October 31, 2023. Intelligencer. Previous Indictment Nick Corasaniti and Nate Schweber. November 16, 2017. The New York Times. April 1, 2015. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs. Initial Appointment to Senate Marek Fuchs. December 9, 2005. The New York Times. Rep. George Santos The Indictment House Ethics Committee Investigation November 16, 2023. House Ethics Committee. November 9, 2023. House Ethics Committee, Investigative Subcommittee. Brazil Fraud Case Andrew DePietro. October 21, 2022. Forbes. Expulsion Attempts Kevin Freking. November 17, 2023. PBS NewsHour. Kevin Freking and Stephen Groves. November 2, 2023. AP. Wealthiest Districts Andrew DePietro. October 21, 2022. Forbes. IRS Doesn’t Fight Dark Money Maya Miller. April 18, 2019. ProPublica. Bills Audio Sources October 28, 2023 Chat Box with David Cruz Clips 3:25 Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): You know, I have drawn from my personal credit union savings account, for the better part of 30 years, $400 every week in cash. And while that may seem old fashioned, some people may think of it as crazy, the reality is that the government has those records. They have the accounts that show that and they chose not to use it. So, you know, this is why I look forward to being in a position to actually speak to these issues, so that New Jerseyans will have a different set of facts than the ones they have right now. 5:20 Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): I was not barred from going into an intelligence briefing. I still have all of my intelligence credentials. 7:20 Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): I have not missed a beat. I've been here for votes and for hearings, and for pursuing the issues that are important to the people in New Jersey. 11:35 Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): I still serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which gives me a perch on all of these global issues, and I am pursuing them in the same way as I did before. The difference is that I am not leading the [Senate Foreign Relations] Committee, but I am very much active in the Committee pursuing the things that I care about for New Jersey. 15:25 David Cruz: So the considerations that Egypt received, including getting a green light from your committee, the quid pro quo as it were, was Egypt behaving better in exchange for arms sales and other considerations? Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): Each consideration depended upon the nature of the sale, whether it was for example, defensive equipment, whether it was equipment for the Sinai, where they are playing a vital role for security with Israel, which everybody -- Democrats and Republicans -- have called for. So these followed the traditional uses of both foreign aid and arms sales in a way to ensure that the US national security interests was pursued and that's simply the case. 16:15 David Cruz: And in the case of one of your co-defendants receiving a contract to certify halal — Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): I can't answer for my co-defendant, you'll have to ask him. David Cruz: Well, the question is, was it your relations with Egyptian officials that helped ease the way for him to get that contract? Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): David, there's a lot of suggestions. As a matter of fact, as I read the indictment, there's a lot of inferences, but not a lot of facts at the end of the day. Those inferences try to play and create a storyline. That is the most negative pejorative storyline you can create. But when those get challenged by the facts, as we will, in the legal proceedings that both motions and trials will allow us to do, then we will see a totally different story. May 27, 2021 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Witnesses: Robert F. Godec, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of African Affairs Sarah Charles, Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, United States Agency for International Development Clips Sen. Bob Menenedez (D-NJ): Then, finally, I will make a comment. It is not a question. I have spoken to the Egyptians on more than one occasion on this issue at their behest. I have a real sense that if the GERD issue is not dealt with in a way that assures them of their concerns about the Nile flowing into what would be the heart of their water supply in Egypt that they will do what is necessary. I do not like red lines, but they have suggested that they have red lines and I take them at their word that they have red lines. Not that they are desirous of doing that. They also have a very strong expression that they hope to have a resolution peacefully, but that they have their own red lines. I hope that we are engaging in that very robustly because the last thing we need, in addition to everything that is going on in Ethiopia, in addition to the possibility of a famine, to the sexual violence that is taking place, is to then have a military conflict over the GERD. So I just seriously hope we are fully engaged and understand where the parties are and how serious some of them are of purpose. Executive Producer Recommended Sources Music by Editing Production Assistance
11/20/20231 hour, 24 minutes, 51 seconds
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CD284: Thieving Russia

While the world is distracted, members of Congress are writing bills designed to steal Russia’s money and give it to Ukraine. In this episode, listen to the pitch being made to Congress as we examine if this is a good idea. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes Taking the Russian money: is it legal? Lee C. Buchheit and Paul Stephan. October 20, 2023. Lawfare. Chelsey Dulaney and Andrew Duehren. October 11, 2023. The Wall Street Journal. Lawrence H. Summers, Philip Zelikow, and Robert B. Zoellick. June 15, 2023. Foreign Affairs. Paul Stephan. April 26, 2022. Lawfare. Laurence H. Tribe and Jeremy Lewin. April 15, 2022. The New York Times. April 15, 2021. President Joe Biden. White House Briefing Room. What we’re being told about Ukraine Secretary of State Anthony Blinken [@SecBlinken]. November 3, 2023. Twitter. Visual Journalism Team. September 29, 2023. BBC News. June 2023. Reuters. Biden wants to hide weapons deals with Israel Sharon Zhang. November 2, 2023. Bills Audio Sources October 31, 2023 Senate Appropriations Committee Witnesses: Antony Blinken, Secretary, U.S. Department of State Lloyd Austin, Secretary, U.S. Department of Defense Clips 1:05:05 Secretary of State Antony Blinken: If you look at total assistance to Ukraine going back to February of 2022, the United States has provided about $75 billion our allies and partners $90 billion. If you look at budget support, the United States has provided about $22 billion during that period, allies and partners $49 billion during that period; military support, we provided about $43 billion allies and partners $33 billion; humanitarian assistance, the United States $2.3 billion allies and partners 4.5 billion, plus another $18 to $20 billion in caring for the many refugees who went to Europe and outside of Ukraine. October 19, 2023 Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (The Helsinki Commission) Witnesses: Eliav Benjamin, Deputy Head of Mission, The Embassy of Israel to the United States Jamil N. Jaffer, Founder and Executive Director, National Security Institute at George Mason University Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Dr. Dan Twining, President, International Republican Institute Oksana Markarova, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States of America Clips 19:25 Eliav Benjamin: Understanding in the most unequivocal manner and in the clearest way that these are evil people. If we can even call them people. This is Israel's 9/11, only if you take the proportion of the size of Israel, this is 9/11 times 10, at least. 20:45 Eliav Benjamin: Because these terrorist organizations are not only against Israelis or against Jews, and not only in Israel, they are against mankind and anything which calls for decency, any entity and anybody who calls for protecting human rights and protecting individuals and protecting civilians. 21:25 Eliav Benjamin: Hamas have no value for human life, while Israel is doing its utmost to protect human life, including Palestinians in Gaza by even calling for them to go down south so that they won't be affected by the war. Hamas is doing everything in its power to harm civilians, to harm its own civilians. And everything that Hamas is committing -- and committed -- is no less than war crimes. And if you want crimes against humanity, and this is while Israel is working within the international human rights law, and within the military law. 28:15 Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN): Ambassador we have attempted to get some monies to from Putin and from the Soviet Un -- the oligarchs, to help rebuild Ukraine. Do you have any new information about that, or concerns? Oksana Markarova: Thank you for this question. First of all, I think it's very just that all this horrible destruction, which only for the first year of the war the World Bank estimated at $411 billion -- just the physical destruction -- has to be compensated and paid for by the Russians. So with regard to the Russian oligarchs and everyone who finances this war, supports this war, thanks to Congress we already have the possibility to confiscate it through the courts and DOJ has already moved forward with one confiscation of malfeasance money -- $5.4 million, and others. It is going to take time. But I think the major question right now to discuss with all the G7 is the Russian sovereign assets. We know that there are at least in the vicinity of 300-400 billion, or maybe even more, frozen by G7 countries. Not only that, but we recently discovered there are about $200 billion that are frozen in the Euroclear system in Belgium. So I'm very glad that there are more renewed talks right now between the G7 Ministers of Finance on how to confiscate and how to better use this money even now. I think we have to join forces there because again, we're very grateful for the American support, we are very much counting on this additional supplementary budget, but at the end of the day, it's not the American, or Ukrainian, or European taxpayers who have to pay for this, it is the Russians who have to pay for their damages. We look forward to working with Congress and we're working very actively with the administration, the State Department and Treasury, on how to better do it. As the former Minister of Finance, I not only believe -- I know -- that it can be done and I know this is a very specific case, that will not jeopardize the untouchability of the Sovereign Money, which is normal in the normal circumstances. This is a very specific case of a country that has been condemned by 154 countries in the UN for the illegal aggression. We have in all three major cases, the cases against Russia on both aggression and genocide and everything else. And it's only natural and just to use the sovereign assets as well as the private assets of Putin's oligarchs to compensate and to pay this. 32:50 Eliav Benjamin: Look at the charter of Hamas, which calls for destruction, annihilation of Jews, of Israel and yes, wants to control everything from the Mediterranean Sea until the Jordan River. 33:00 Eliav Benjamin: That is their aspiration, that is what they want to do, with zero care about civilians, including their own whom they take us human shields. As we're speak now, they're firing rockets from underneath hospitals, from underneath schools, from underneath mosques, from within residential areas, putting their own people at risk and sending them to die as well. This is not what Israel is about, but this is what Hamas is about and has been about. And now once and for all, unfortunately, really unfortunately, it took such a horrific war that they launched on Israel for the whole world to realize what Hamas is really about and what we've been saying for so many years that Hamas stands for. But it's not only Hamas: it's Hamas, it's the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, it's Hezbollah, it's all of these terrorist organizations who have zero care about human beings. This is who we should go after, and make sure they don't do any more harm. 39:10 Jamil Jaffer: It was the single deadliest day in Israel's history, single deadliest day for the worldwide Jewish community since the Holocaust. The equivalent of over a dozen 9/11 attacks on a population adjusted basis. Let me say it again. On the day of the 9/11 attacks, we had about 280 million Americans and we lost approximately 3000 Americans that day. Israel has lost 1400 have their own in a population of approximately 9 million -- over a dozen 9/11 attacks. 41:15 Jamil Jaffer: There's a key connection between these two fights. We know that Iran today supplies all manner of drones to Russia in its fight in Ukraine. We know that Iran has troops on the ground in Ukraine, training Russians on the use of those drones. We know that Iran is considering providing short range ballistic missiles to Russia, in that conflict. Russia, for its part, has provided Iran with its primary source of Conventional Munitions and nuclear technology for the vast majority of the time. Now, the key connection between these organizations is important to note. It's not just Russia and Iran; it's China and North Korea as well. These are all globally repressive nation states. They repress their own people, they hold them back, they give them no opportunity, and then they seek to export that repression to other parts of the globe, first in their immediate neighborhood, and then more broadly across the world. These nations are increasingly working together. We see China and Russia's no-limits partnership. We see President Xi saying to President Putin, in an off hand conversation that the world heard, that there are changes that haven't been seen in 100 years, and Russia and China are leading those changes. We know that for decades, Iran and North Korea have cooperated on ballistic missile and nuclear technology. We know that today in the fight in Gaza, Hamas is using North Korean rocket propelled grenades. So the reality is these globally repressive nation states have long been working together. And it is incumbent upon the United States to stand with our friends in Ukraine and our allies in Israel in this fight against global repression. 41:35 Dr. Dan Twining: It's vital not to mistake Hamas's control of Gaza with legitimacy. There have been no elections in Gaza since 2006. Hamas will not hold them because it thinks it will lose. Polling from September, a month ago, shows that only a quarter of Palestinians support Hamas leading the Palestinian people. Before the conflict, 77% of Palestinians told pollsters they wanted elections as soon as possible. A super majority tells pollsters that Hamas is corrupt. It is a terrorist organization, not a governing authority that seeks better lives for Palestinians. Residents of Gaza suffer poverty, isolation, and violence at its hands. 43:25 Dr. Jonathan Schanzer: Israel has just suffered in Iran-sponsored massacre, Ukraine is struggling to repel Russian forces, and Taiwan watches with grave concern as China threatens to invade. America must view these three embattled democracies as important assets. And it must view these three adversaries as a threat to the US-led world order. As we speak, there is a very real possibility of a regional war erupting in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic of Iran has armed and funded Hamas and Hezbollah along with other factions in the region. Recent reports point to the existence of an Iranian-led nerve center in Beirut that is designed to help these terrorist groups target Israel more efficiently. Fortunately, the IDF has thwarted Iranian efforts to create a new terror proxy in the Golan Heights. Israel has repeatedly destroyed most, if not all, of what Iran is trying to stand up there. However, Iran-backed militias do remain in Syria, and Russia's presence in Syria is complicated all of this. Moscow's missile defense systems have forced Israel to take significant precautions in the ongoing effort to prevent the smuggling of advanced Iranian weapons from Syria to Lebanon. These are precision guided munitions. We've never seen a non-state actor or a terrorist group acquire these before and Russia is making this more difficult. The operations to destroy these weapons in Syria are ongoing. They often take place with Russian knowledge. It's an uneasy arrangement and because of that, the Syrian front is still manageable, but Russia's role in the region is far from positive. Moscow continues to work closely with both Iran and Hezbollah. In fact, Russian-Iranian relations have deepened considerably since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. This goes beyond the sanctions busting that was the basis of their relationship before all this started. Russia has received UAVs from Iran, which we've heard today, Tehran has sent advisors to train Russian personnel, and since last summer, Russia has launched over 2000 Iranian UAVs into Ukraine. Moscow now wants to produce some of these UAVs domestically and so Russia and Iran are currently working together to increase the drones' range and speed. Iran has supplied other material to Russia like artillery shells and rockets. In return, Tehran wants Russia to provide fighter jets, attack helicopters, radar and combat trainer aircraft, and more. Moscow has sent to Tehran some captured Western weapons from Ukraine. These include javelin, NLAW anti-tank guided missiles, and Stinger MANPADS. Amidst all of this, on top of it all, concerns are mounting about a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Beijing has openly intimidated the island nation. Within a 24 hour time span in July, 16 PLA warships approached Taiwan, accompanied with over 100 different aircraft sorties. China's calculus about an invasion of Taiwan could be influenced heavily right now by what the United States does in Ukraine and in Israel. Ihe landscape is clear: China, Iran and Russia are working together. Our policy must be to deny them the ability to threaten our friends and our interests. 47:45 Dr. Jonathan Schanzer: It's great news. I was gonna recommend it, but it's already happened: the United States has sent two of its Iron Dome batteries based in Guam to Israel, en route already. 52:15 Dr. Dan Twining: If America's three greatest adversaries are going to actively collaborate in armed attacks on our allies, that's all the more reason for us to ensure that friendly democracies prevail in the fight. Giving Ukraine and Israel what they need to restore their sovereignty and security is essential. Appeasing aggression in one theater only invites belligerence in another. Make no mistake, China is watching our reaction to the wars on Ukraine and Israel with great interest. If we don't show the will and staying power to help our friends win, we only embolden Chinese designs in Asia. Defeating aggression in Europe and the Middle East is central to deterring aggression in Asia. 1:09:55 Dr. Jonathan Schanzer: I am going to use the current crisis right now to sort of explain how America can get a win. That attack by Hamas was sponsored by Iran. Hamas is an Iran-back terrorist organization that also enjoys the support of China and Russia. As Israel has now readied to go into the Gaza Strip and to destroy this terrorist organization with the support of the United States, we're now seeing Iran-backed proxies threaten a much wider war. We're watching Hezbollah and Lebanon, Shiite militias in Syria, potentially other groups in other parts of the region. What needs to happen here right now is America needs to determine the outcome of this conflict. And by that, I mean it needs to deter Iran, it needs to deter Hezbollah and any other actor that might intervene, and force them to watch helplessly as our ally destroys Hamas. Watch them look on helplessly as one of their important pieces is removed from the chessboard. If we can do that, then I think we're now in the process of reestablishing deterrence after having lost it for many years. 1:14:15 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): Along with Ranking Member [Jim] Risch, I'm the lead on the what we call the REPO Act, which would authorize the President to work with other countries in Europe that are also home to frozen Russian sovereign assets, and create a procedure for seizing those assets and directing them to Ukraine to be used for rebuilding and other purposes. I think there are mixed feelings in the administration about this, but they seem to be moving our way. I'd love to have your thoughts on the value of grabbing those sovereign assets, not just as additional resources for Ukraine, but also as a powerful signal to Putin that his behavior is going to have real punishment and hitting him good and hard right in the wallet, I think, would be a good added signal. 1:15:20 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): The second is simply to make sure that we do a better job of grabbing Russian oligarch assets. We have a predicament right now, which is that if you're a US citizen, and you're driving down the highway and you've got $400,000 in unexplained cash in your car, the police can pull you over and they can seize that. If you are a foreign, Russian, crooked oligarch, and you have a $400 million yacht someplace, you have more rights than that American citizen, in terms of defending your yacht. It's a very simple procedure, it's called "in rem." You move on the yacht rather than having to chase through all the ownership structures. And I would very much like to see us pass a bill that allows us to proceed against foreign oligarchs', criminals', and kleptocrats' assets in rem. 1:16:50 Dr. Jonathan Schanzer: The seizing of assets and redirecting them to Ukraine, I think, sounds like a solid thing for the United States to do. I think, though, it would make sense to do this with a coalition of countries. So that the US is not singled out -- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): That's what the legislation requires. In fact, the bulk of the funds are actually held in European countries, so acting on our own would not be sensible. Dr. Jonathan Schanzer: It wouldn't be effective, correct. So getting the Europeans on board, and by the way, getting the Europeans to chip in a bit more, just as we are, I think is also a very sound policy. As far as targeting the oligarch assets, I fully understand your frustration. When I worked at the Treasury Department trying to track those kinds of assets was never easy. We did work with a sort of shorthand version of, if we're 80% sure that we know what we're dealing with we're going to move first and then adjudicate after it's been done. And by and large, that worked out very well during the height of the war on terror. And there was an urgency that I think needs to be felt now, as we think about targeting Russian assets too. 1:18:00 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): To follow me on my path of in rem Latinate legal terms. There's also qui tam out there, which allows individuals to bring fraud actions in the name of the United States, and if it turns out there really is fraud, they get a share of it. It would be nice to have people who work for, let's say, a Russian oligarch to be able to be paid a bit of a bounty if they come in and testify and say, "Yep, definitely his boat every time we go out, he's on it. Every time the guests come they're his guests and we call him boss." Things like that can make a big difference, so we're trying to push that as well. Dr. Jonathan Schanzer: That sounds like something for the Rewards for Justice program at the State Department. They might be able to expand it. We already have bounties for those that provide evidence leading to arrests of terrorists, why not oligarchs? Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): Correct. 1:24:40 Dr. Jonathan Schanzer: Qatar has, for the last 10 or 12 years, had a an external headquarters. Some of [Hamas's] political leadership has been based there: Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshaal both call Qatar home. Of course, this is not new for the Qataris. They've also hosted all manner of other terrorist organizations in that country. It's the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS. It's well known at this point that Qatar is a hospitable place. They just don't agree with our definition of terrorism. Fundraising takes place there, all sorts of organizational activities take place there, and people are free to come and go. It is a safe haven for them. It is extremely dangerous that we have bestowed upon that country the label of major non-NATO ally, and that this is allowed to continue. They're offering right now their "good offices" -- I'll put those in air quotes -- to try to negotiate the release of the 302 hostages. This is not in Qatar's is interest. They are advocating on behalf of Hamas, as they have been for a long time. This should not be allowed to stand. 1:28:10 Dr. Jonathan Schanzer: Hezbollah is based in Lebanon primarily, although they've got a significant base of operations in Latin America right now, and of course they've got a lot of operatives running around in Tehran. They are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the regime in Iran. Just to give you a sense of the threat, right now Hezbollah is threatening to open up a second front with Israel. While the fighting rages in Gaza, in the north of Israel there is a second front that could very well be open. There have been dozens of rockets that have been fired, dozens of anti-tank missiles infiltrations into northern Israel. This is very disconcerting. This is one of the things that I think the President is trying to deter at this moment, to deter a second front from opening. Hezbollah is considered to have an army that is equal in strength to the average European army. It has 150,000 rockets right now facing south at Israel. It's got precision guided munitions that could hit strategic targets, like Israel's nuclear facility, or like its chemical plant. These are things that could create catastrophic attacks, and we could be hours or days or weeks away from watching those threats materialize. And so this is why it is imperative right now that the US mount the deterrence that is necessary to stare down Iran and to stare down Hezbollah and to allow Israel to be able to do what it needs to in Gaza and hopefully end this crisis. 1:31:15 Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX): What does it look like if a Palestinian family of four is being interviewed for safe passage into a neighboring country or nearby country? What exactly does that look like? What does that processing and that vetting look like? Dr. Jonathan Schanzer: I'm going to make a suggestion here. I don't know how that kind of vetting can happen. You know, you're looking at a territory roughly the size of Washington DC, with 2.2 million people that had been subjected to Hamas rule for 16 years. How you start to figure out who's okay and who's not at this stage in the game, who's a threat and who isn't, is going to be really challenging. I wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal with a colleague of mine, Mark Dubowitz, our CEO, on Monday. I want to make this suggestion: I've already identified a number of the countries that have been Hamas supporters over the years, those that have financed and provided the weapons and the training to Hamas. I think there should be significant pressure on those countries to take in the refugees. Have a clear message from the United States that they created this problem, and it is now their problem to take care of these 2 million people. Quite frankly, I don't care who's radicalized when they go to these countries that have been supporting a radical cause for as long as they have. I think this would be justice. October 18, 2023 House Committee on Foreign Affairs Witnesses: Philip Zelikow, Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia Rebeccah Heinrichs, Senior Fellow and Director of the Keystone Defense Initiative at the Hudson Institute Clips 14:35 Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX): The Russian sovereign assets is a winner in my judgment. If we can tap into the right -- the very people who started this war and this conflict, in my judgment, should be paying for the cost, and not as much the US taxpayer. And that's why I introduced the REPO Act, the bipartisan, bicameral legislation that demands that the Biden administration transfer frozen Russian sovereign assets to the Ukraine effort. It's beyond time that Russia pay for the war that it created. My bill prohibits the Biden administration from unfreezing Russian sovereign assets until Russia ends its unprovoked war of aggression and agrees to compensate Ukraine for the damages it has inflicted. 16:05 Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX): To be clear, the war crimes and genocide committed by Russia cannot be reversed by money alone. 22:30 Rep. French Hill (R-AK): My approach was crafted to be consistent with US Policy and International Law by amending the International Emergency Economic Powers Act IEEPA, and using its established framework and existing definitions. As a former Treasury official, in my view, this is a better legislative approach. This is consistent with well established international precedent, whereby the United States work with international partners to establish a fund like we saw in Afghanistan in 2022. The Iran-US Claims Tribunal in 1981, the UN compensation fund for Kuwait in 1991, following the invasion by Iraq. 22:40 Rep. French Hill (R-AK): I too have introduced a bill on this topic, HR 5370. And I appreciate the Foreign Affairs staff working with me on that. My bill would give the President authority to seize and transfer title of Russian sovereign assets within the United States jurisdiction into an international fund for the sole purpose of Ukraine's eventual reconstruction and humanitarian relief. I'm grateful to Chairman McCaul and I co-sponsor his bill on this topic, as well for his leadership. 24:10 Rep. French Hill (R-AK): Considering most Russian sovereign assets are actually located outside the United States, it's important for our partners and allies around the world to introduce and pass similar companion legislation rather than having the US act unilaterally. 24:30 Rep. French Hill (R-AK): Let me be clear, I consider Russian Federation sovereign assets inclusive of all state owned enterprise assets and those of Russian publicly traded companies, like Gazprom, that are controlled by more than 50% by the Russian Federation. 26:30 Philip Zelikow: Economic warfare is the real center of gravity in this war. Economic warfare is the center of gravity in the war. I know we all watch the daily updates from the battle front lines. You know, this movement here, that movement there. This is a war of attrition. It's going to be decided by economic and industrial staying power as the war continues almost certainly into 2025 and perhaps beyond. 27:00 Philip Zelikow: In that struggle, the economic warfare against Russia has achieved some gains, and will have some more gains over the long haul. Russia's economic warfare against Ukraine has been devastating and is not sufficiently appreciated. Ukraine lost 30% of its GDP in the first year of the war. 1/3 of the population of Ukraine is displaced, half externally half internally. Russia is waging economic warfare on three main fronts. It's destroying Ukraine's infrastructure, and will do another energy infrastructure war this winter, for which it's gearing up, including with North Korean weapons and Iranian weapons. Point two: they've destroyed Ukraine's ability to export through the Black Sea except for a trickle, which was the fundamental business model of a commodity exporting country. Point three: they have destroyed Ukraine's civil aviation. Ukraine has no civil aviation. Any of you who've traveled, as I have, to Ukraine will notice that you can't fly in the country, which makes travel and business in the country now back to the era of the railroads before there were airplanes. So the the Russian economic warfare against Ukraine is devastating. And as time passes, this is going to have deep effects on the ability of Ukraine's economy and society to hold together, which will play out politically. So point one: economic warfare is the true center of gravity in the war. 28:35 Philip Zelikow: Two, the Russian assets are the key strategy to change the outcome. The Russian assets are at least $280 billion. Now, even in our debased day and age, that's a lot of money. It's a lot of money in the context of the Ukrainian economy. Even using very conservative multipliers of how much private investment the public investment can unlock, let's say one to one, the impact of this money on the whole future prospects of Ukraine and its staying power are decisive. Otherwise, they're relying on US and European taxpayers whose readiness you can gauge. So this is potentially the decisive fulcrum of the economic warfare and Ukraine's prospects in the war. 29:25 Philip Zelikow: So, third point, why has this been so hard? First reason was there was a knee jerk neuralgia on the part of bankers and financiers to the actual confiscation of Russian assets in the foreign exchange holdings, with much talk of losing confidence in the dollar in the euro. On analysis, these worries quickly fall away, which is one reason that I worked with my colleagues, Larry Summers, the former Treasury secretary, and Bob Zoellick, the former president of the World Bank, who do know something about international finance to debunk those concerns. And I'd be glad to go into more detail about why the concerns about the dollar or the euro turn out to be overblown when they're analyzed. 30:10 Philip Zelikow: The other concern was how do we do this legally? There's been a ton of legal confusion about this. This bill will help dispel that legal confusion. 30:30 Philip Zelikow: What about sovereign immunity? Sovereign immunity is a doctrine that only exists in the context of national courts trying to usurp sovereign authority in a situation where it's sovereign on sovereign, whereas in this bill, there would be an act of state that goes after Russian sovereign property. There is no such thing as immunity; there is no doctrine of sovereign immunity. Ordinarily, under international law, if one sovereign takes another sovereign's property, then the loser is entitled to compensation for that nationalization or expropriation. So why isn't Russia entitled for that compensation in this case? Because it's a lawful state countermeasure. Countermeasures are different from sanctions. And countermeasures -- and this is a well recognized body of law -- you are allowed to do things that would ordinarily violate your sovereign obligations to a fellow sovereign, because that sovereign has committed such extreme outlaw behavior, that the countermeasure is a lawful recourse. And that is exactly the extreme case we have here. There is a well codified body of law on this, and Russia has hit every one of the marks for a set of lawful state countermeasures that deprives them of any right to compensation when states take their money and then use it, putting it in escrow to compensate the victims of Russia's aggression. 37:35 Rebeccah Heinrichs: The United States directly benefits from Ukraine's battlefield successes as Russia remains a top tier adversary of the United States. These are the weapons that Americans made and designed specifically to go after the kinds of things that the Ukrainians are destroying in the Russian military. 39:55 Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX): The EU has a plan just to tax frozen assets and send those proceeds to Ukraine. Our Treasury Secretary, Miss Yellen recently claimed that transferring sovereign assets to Ukraine was not legal. Do you agree with that, and if not, what is your opinion from a legal standpoint? Philip Zelikow: I think Secretary Yellen has now revised her view of this matter, having had a chance to be informed by some of the legal work that's been done since she first made that impromptu remark. There is the legal authority both under domestic law and international law, and the bill this committee is considering would reaffirm, consolidate, and elaborate that authority. So legally, this can be done. 40:55 Philip Zelikow: What the EU came up with in May was the idea -- they were encountering a lot of resistance to actually taking the Russian money, so they said, Well, can we come up with something, since a lot of these as the securities have now matured and are in cash and Euroclear, mainly -- the clearing house in Brussels -- is now managing the cash on behalf of Russia, because Russia is no longer able to manage it. So can we do something with the interest? And by the way, the EU couldn't get that through in June. Ursula von der Leyen couldn't get that adopted over, principally, French and German opposition at the time. So they're talking about just taking this interest. As a legal matter, if you have the legal right to take the interest, you have the legal right to take the principle. This was a cosmetic idea trying to overcome the opposition they had there. It's kind of a situation where, as one of my colleagues in this effort, Larry Tribe, has put it as well, instead of crossing the Rubicon, they're kind of wading in. From a legal point of view, it's actually clearer to do the transfer for Ukraine than to try to expropriate the money using tax authorities, which makes it look like you're expropriating it for your country, rather than for the benefit of the victims, which is a much cleaner, legal way to do it. So they ended up, for political reasons, with a half measure that takes only a tiny fraction of what they should and does so in ways that are actually legally awkward. I understand why they are where they are, but as they process this, I think they're just going to have to step up to going ahead and crossing the Rubicon. 50:20 Philip Zelikow: The whole argument that I made in an article with Summers and Zoellick in Foreign Affairs is that actually, this is a strategy for victory. You put this enormous war chest and the multiplier of private investment into play. And what you can envision is a whole new European recovery program, anchored on the rebuilding of Ukraine that not only saves Ukraine, revitalizes it, but links it to the EU accession process, to the enlargement of the European Union. In other words, to the victory of the whole cause of freedom, in a way almost regardless of where the final battle line ends up being in Ukraine, Ukraine will be growing with bright prospects, part of a Europe with brighter prospects, because of its alignment with the free world. 51:25 Philip Zelikow: When people worry about the significance of this in foreign exchange, I ask them to just remember two numbers 93 and three. If you look at the percentage of foreign exchange holdings held in the world today, 60% United States, 23% Euro, 6% yen, 4% Sterling: that's 93. The percentage of foreign exchange holdings in Chinese renminbi: three. And the Chinese were really encouraged that it's gone up from 2.5 to 3 in recent years. So when you look at 93 to three, that's what you get when we work with our allies in a concerted economic strategy. We can move on the Russian assets, and there's really no choice except to stick with the currencies of the free world because they're still the only basis for being a participant in the world economy. 54:20 Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI): Who actually has the authority to take possession of it? Because as you point out, if you've got the legal right to the interest, you got the legal right to the principal. Who is granted that authority? And then who is granted the authority to distribute that? Philip Zelikow: So the theory is that the national governments can transfer any of the Russian state assets in their jurisdiction into escrow accounts for the benefit of the victims, as a state countermeasure to Russia's aggression. So the way that would work is under the President's IEEPA authority, he could transfer all this -- and there are precedents for this -- into an escrow account held in the States and then an international escrow account, with this limited purpose of compensating the victims of Russian aggression, then you need to create an international mechanism, which the US would participate in creating, to then manage that distribution, which needs to have a proactive urgent speed of relevance. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI): That was what I was afraid of. If it just simply takes one participant to bog the whole thing down, guess what? It's not going to work, in my humble opinion. Philip Zelikow: When they're debating this in the EU, some people say we should have a new EU directive to govern this, but under our Common Foreign and Security Policy, one member like Hungary, for example, could botch that. So if you create something perhaps managed by the G7 Donor Coordination Platform, that is a relatively simple instrument in which the United States could play a part. One thing that you've done in the bill you've drafted, Mr. Chairman and Congresswoman Kaptur, is you're creating mechanisms in which Congress has insight and some oversight into how the United States participates in that process, and what the mechanism does and how the money is spent, which I think is an appropriate role for the Congress. There are precedents for how to do this. The design of this international mechanism I'm discussing is both policy driven, but also has a reactive claim side, but can have some conditionality on reform and the EU accession process. That's a heavy lift. Building that mechanism will be the biggest job since we built the Economic Cooperation Administration to run Marshall Plan aid 70 years ago. That serious work has not really begun, because we're just working on the preliminary phase of mobilizing and using this money. 58:25 Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA): You believe the Administration, even without this bill, has authority right now to transfer the frozen Russian assets to Ukraine. Philip Zelikow: Yes, it does. It has it under the existing IEEPA authorities that the President has already invoked. The Renew Democracy Initiative has put out a really extensive legal brief that goes into great detail about this. I think actually the administration's lawyers are coming around to the view that yes, they do have the authority under existing law. What the REPO Act does is, one, it reaffirms that, but two, it makes Congress a partner in this with regulation and oversight that's an appropriate Congressional role. So by both reaffirming the authority and getting Congress to join the executive and doing this together I think it makes it a truly national effort with an appropriate Congressional part. 59:20 Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA): How would you respond to critics who say this would make it harder for other folks in the future to want to invest in the United States? Philip Zelikow: You can look at the numbers. After we froze Russian assets, everybody understood the political risks that might be involved with putting their money into dollar holdings. The Chinese called in all their bankers and asked them, "Do we have any other options?" That happened last year. You can just simply track what's happened in the international financial markets and see how folks have now priced in that political risk. But the result is still very strong demand and interest in the dollar. But here again, to come back to Congressman [Gregory] Meeks point, by working with the Euro and the yen and Sterling, we give them no place to go. If they want to participate in the world economy, then they're just going to have to invest in assets like that. 1:00:30 Rebeccah Heinrichs: The other thing that's very interesting and good in the REPO bill that is different is this provision, Section 103, that would prohibit the release of blocked Russian sovereign assets. I think that's an incredibly important element of this bill. That would remove the temptation for any kind of sweetener for the Russians to have access to these funds and leave Ukraine in a lurch whenever they have to rebuild their society. That's a very important part of the bill. 1:01:10 Rep. Nathaniel Moran (R-TX): Why would it be better to transfer these assets for Ukraine's direct benefit than to use them for leverage in negotiations and ending this conflict at some point? Rebeccah Heinrichs: It comes back down to the fundamental question at the end: who's going to foot the bill for rebuilding Ukrainian society? Somebody's going to have to do it. It should not be the American people primarily. They're footing a pretty significant bill. I think that benefits American industry and benefits our own military, but this particular piece should be carried out by the perpetrators of this act. So I think that it'd be a mistake to hold that out as a sweetener to get the Russians to come to the end or the conclusion. 1:01:55 Rep. Nathaniel Moran (R-TX): Mr. Zelikow, you mentioned earlier in response to one of my colleague's questions that it looks like that under current law under the IEEPA authorities, the president can do this activity now. Do you know why the President is not doing that? And if he chose to do that, could he do it immediately? Or is there any delay in that? Philip Zelikow: They could act immediately. They've delayed a long time, partly, to be very blunt -- because I've been talking to a lot of people about this -- they had very deep interagency disagreements inside the administration over how to proceed and they found that their bandwidth was totally overwhelmed by other Ukrainian-related concerns, and they didn't give this heavy attention until fairly recently. And now that they have given it sustained attention, I think the President has actually settled, at a fundamental level, those interagency disputes and they are now moving forward to try to find a way to make this work. 1:02:50 Philip Zelikow: I think the point you raised a minute ago about whether we want to hold this back as leverage was one factor in the back of the minds of some people. I think as the war has continued on through this year, hopes of a quick settlement of the war have dissipated. I think they realize that this is going to be a long war. That sobering realization has kind of sunk in. Also, from a legal point of view, if you want to, you could credit the Russians in any peace negotiation. You can basically say this is a credit against your liability for the for rebuilding Ukraine. 1:04:55 Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA): As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, we have been to many European nations. To a nation, they say the United States is the indispensable partner here, and they say that with all humility and not blowing smoke. We visited the Hague and sat with lead prosecutor Khan, and everyone is talking about waiting us out. Not just waiting out Congress's support, but waiting out the outcome of the next election. They asked us specifically about that. Mr. Putin is clearly waiting for the outcome of the next election in hopes that it will not be the reelection of Joe Biden, who I'm really proud is in Israel right now. Timing. How does this work? You already said it's going to be into 2025. How do we use this leverage, this economic warfare as the center of gravity in this conflict, to bring the timing tighter to a successful conclusion for Ukraine? Philip Zelikow: So that's a great question. And this is why action on this issue is so urgent now, because the operational timeline to stand this up on a massive multi 100 billion dollar scale is if we move on this in the next couple of months and mobilize the money. We could get an enormous operation up and running with a relatively secure source of funding by next year. If we get that up and running by the middle of next year, we then insulate ourselves, to some extent, against the kind of electoral risk to which you gently alluded. 1:07:55 Rep. Thomas Kean Jr. (R-NJ): If the United States did transfer Russian sovereign assets to Ukraine, how could Ukraine best use these in the near term? Philip Zelikow: In the near term, what they would do, I think, is begin undertaking a comprehensive program to shore up their infrastructure, withstand the coming Russian campaigns to further damage that and begin to rebuild the basic transportation infrastructure and other things that can then begin to unlock a really bright future for the rest of the Ukrainian economy. There are things that can be done then to move Ukrainian industry into new sectors. I think the Ukrainian goal is not just to restore what they had five years ago, but actually to use this as a way to build back better, to imagine a brighter future in partnership with Europe. And then if the money is managed well, this gives leverage to encourage the Ukrainian reform process as part of the EU accession. Putin's whole effort here is, "if I can't conquer Ukraine, I will wreck it and make it ungovernable," and we'll show decisively that that objective cannot be achieved. 1:10:35 Rebeccah Heinrichs: If I may, sir, another principle that has been misunderstood throughout this conflict is this notion of escalation. Escalation is not bad. It's only bad if it's the adversary who's escalating to prevail. We want Ukraine to escalate to win, to convince the Russians to end the war. If you do not permit the Ukrainians to escalate, then you only have a long protracted war of attrition that none of us can afford. 1:12:05 Philip Zelikow: Whenever you do a large thing in international affairs, there are going to be unintended consequences from that, and rather than be dismissive about that concern, I'll say if you embark on this, then people will be tempted to try to use these sorts of precedents against us. They'll be limited in their ability to do that because of the fundamental places where money is held in the world economy. A lot of people don't do business with the United States because they love us; they do business with us because they think it's necessary. If they could expropriate our property with no penalty, they would. Venezuela tried that. Most of the world doesn't want to follow Venezuela's example. So yes, there are some potential unintended consequences of people trying to use this precedent. But one reason we've tried to set this under international law is to use the standards of international law to govern this countermeasure. International law allows these countermeasures, but it says you can only do this if the target country's outlaw behavior is extreme, and there's a standard for that. It turns out Russia totally meets that standard. This is the most extreme case of international aggression since the Second World War, bigger than Korea, bigger than Kuwait. But by setting that kind of standard, it makes that slippery slope a little less slippery. 1:14:25 Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ): There are some concerns that if we were to transfer these assets, use it for the benefit Ukraine, would there be an impact on the US dollar? Just get your thoughts on that? Philip Zelikow: Yeah, that's why we got in some of the best people we could on international plans, just to do the analysis on that. 93% of the foreign exchange holdings are held in G7 countries and only 3% in renminbi. Running to the renminbi because they're worried about the dollar is something people would do if they wanted to do it already. They've already priced in the political risk of dollar holdings after they've seen what we've done. And you can see their asset allocations. Now, the dollar is involved in 88% of all foreign commercial transactions on one side of the transaction or another. So it's hard to run away from it, especially if the Euro, Yen, and Sterling are in there with you. There's really kind of no place to go if you want to participate in the international economy. Working with Larry Summers, the former Treasury Secretary, Robert Zoellick, with Brad Setser, who studies international finance, we ran some numbers about worst case scenarios and so on, and we think that concern, which sounds good as a soundbite, it turns out on analysis, it fades away. 1:16:10 Philip Zelikow: The US only holds a fraction of the relevant Russian money because the Russians tried to get their money out of our jurisdiction. But when you go to Europe and ask them what's holding them up, they all say "We're waiting for the American lead." So even though we may only hold a fraction of the money, we hold a lot more than a fraction of the relevant clout, and we need to go together, exactly as you imply. September 28, 2023 House Committee on Foreign Affairs Witnesses: Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, United States Department of State Christopher P. Maier, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, United States Department of Defense Caroline Krass, General Counsel, United States Department of Defense Richard C. Visek, Acting Legal Adviser, United States Department of State Clips 33:00 Victoria Nuland: First with regard to the Taliban, we've been very clear we're going to judge the Taliban by their actions. It is our assessment that the Taliban have partially adhered to their counterterrorism commitments. We've seen them disrupt ISIS-K, for example. But there's obviously plenty more to to do to ensure that Afghanistan doesn't become a safe haven, or return to safe haven, or persist as a safe haven. That said, I would note that the director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christy Abizaid recently said publicly that al Qaeda is at its historic nadir in Afghanistan, and its revival is unlikely. 34:20 Victoria Nuland: Iran is obviously a state sponsor of terrorism; it is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Music by Editing Production Assistance
11/5/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 5 seconds
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CD283: A Federal Reserve Digital Dollar (CBDC)

The House Financial Services Committee has been investigating the possibility of the Federal Reserve creating a Central Bank Digital Currency. In this episode, hear experts unpack the nuances and implications of this idea during three hearings, and discover how you can play a part in shaping the future of American currency. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes Operation Choke Point Frank Keating. November 7, 2018. The Hill. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Staff. May 29, 2014. U.S. House of Representatives. Digital Asset Glass-Steagall James Rickards. August 27, 2012. U.S. News & World Report. Audio Sources September 14, 2023 Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion Witnesses: Yuval Rooz, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Digital Asset Paige Paridon, Senior Vice President and Senior Associate General Counsel, Bank Policy Institute Christina Parajon Skinner, Assistant Professor, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Dr. Norbert Michel, Vice President and Director, Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, Cato Institute Raúl Carrillo, Academic Fellow, Lecturer in Law, Columbia Law School Clips 27:35 Rep. French Hill (R-AK): Look, the Constitution is clear. Only Congress has the authority to coin money and regulate the value of such money. And we've heard the same from Fed officials, right before this committee, and most recently from Vice Chair for Supervision, Michael Barr, who last week told an audience in Philadelphia and I quote, "The Federal Reserve would only proceed with the issuance of a CBDC with clear support from the executive branch and authorizing legislation from Congress." The Biden Department of Justice agrees, saying, quote, "there would be substantial legal risks to issuing a CBDC without such legislation." 32:05 Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA): CBDC is just one type of publicly issued digital dollar and would be issued, backed, and regulated by the Federal Reserve and have the full faith and backing of the US government. This could serve as an alternative to existing forms of payments and have a benefit, including instant payment settlement, provide a medium for cross border transactions, and foster greater financial inclusion. More than 130 countries have begun to explore their own government backed digital currencies. China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and India have already commenced pilot programs, and a digital Euro pilot could be launched as early as 2028. Meanwhile, the US remains far behind amid increasing and blatant information about features of digital currency. While concerns about data privacy and government surveillance are real, especially in countries that do not respect human rights and privacy, a CBDC does not have to be designed that way. We could employ an architecture that would protect personal data while including anti-money laundering and terrorist financing features. 33:15 Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA): It is counterintuitive that my colleagues should be raising concerns about data privacy while thousands of private companies, domestic and foreign, are surveilling, aggregating, and selling consumer data each and every day. 33:45 Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA): I'm announcing and inviting my colleagues to join the Congressional Digital Dollar Caucus. This forum will educate members on critical issues relating to the development, design, and potential implementation of a government issued digital dollar. I plan to invite innovators, technologists, academics, and other experts to share their findings and development. I hope my colleagues will join me in this exploration. 34:15 Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA): The use of anonymous cash has plummeted and more of our transactions are occurring online and under surveillance, tracked and aggregated by financial services companies. Indeed China has turned that fact into a tool of full spectrum surveillance of its citizens. This is why I've introduced the Ecash Act. This bill directs the Treasury to design and pilot a digital version of cash and would complement the Fed-issued CBDC. It would allow individuals to make instant peer to peer payments with no consumer data or transaction tracking and without the use of a bank account. 36:10 Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN): The need to protect Americans' right to financial product privacy is at an all time high. That's why I introduced the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act with over 50 of my colleagues. This bill prevents unelected bureaucrats from creating a tool for financial surveillance if not open, permissionless, and private, like cash, a CBDC is nothing more than a CCP-style surveillance tool that will oppress the American way of life and we're not going to allow that to happen. 38:20 Dr. Norbert Michel: In my testimony, I argue that the United States should not launch a Central Bank Digital Currency, a CBDC. Advocates for a CBDC tout many potential benefits, but there's nothing unique about the technology that would provide those supposed benefits. 39:00 Dr. Norbert Michel: A CBDC in any form would be a direct liability of the central government, a digital tether to its citizens such that it would radically alter the existing public-private relationship that already exists in our monetary arrangement. 39:25 Dr. Norbert Michel: First, issuing a CBDC would not help preserve the status of the United States dollar, it would likely damage it. Proponents argue that because China has launched a CBDC, the United States must keep up by launching its own. Others make the narrower claim that the US must launch a CBDC to keep up with broader technological changes in the payment sector. But anyone who chooses to do so can transact digitally in U.S. dollars right now. The CBDC does not take us from a world with zero or a few digital transactions to one filled with digital transactions. Moreover, the dollar's renowned status is owed to the strength of the American economy and its legal protections for private citizens relative to many other countries. Unlike in many other places, Americans do not have to live in constant fear that the government will take their money. However, if the US creates a CBDC, anyone who wants to use the dollar would lose a layer of protection from that type of government abuse. 40:30 Dr. Norbert Michel: The second myth is that a CBDC would expand financial inclusion by providing a new source of financial services for America's unbanked and underbanked populations. Again, though, this is not a technological problem. In other words, the CBDC itself does not accomplish this goal. The private sector already enables us to transact digitally, and it has been steadily shrinking the number of Americans without financial services for years. We also know, because the FDIC asked them, that unbanked and underbanked Americans primarily are in that situation because either they don't have enough money to have an account, or they don't want to give their personal information to a bank or the government. And what should be obvious is that a lack of sufficient income is a much broader economic problem than a CBDC or financial service technology. While some proponents argue that a CBDC lowers the cost of providing financial services, that's true only if the government subsidizes those costs or chooses to waive the same level of regulatory scrutiny it requires of private firms. And that level of scrutiny, it turns out is more than just a costly mandate that the government has placed on private firms. It's also the one that causes those unbanked Americans to say they don't trust banks. It's also the same one that requires people to hand over their personal information to private companies, and as a result potentially to the government. If the government removes that mandate for all financial service providers, there would be no cost advantage to a CBDC. 42:05 Dr. Norbert Michel: That brings me to my last myth, the idea that a CBDC could somehow enhance financial privacy. Currently, Americans are forced to hand over personal information to financial institutions. Those institutions are required to track transactions, and the government can access that information without a warrant. The fourth amendment is supposed to protect Americans from the government gaining access to this kind of information, unless they show probable cause and obtain a warrant. But it no longer protects Americans when it comes to financial information. And the only buffer left is that the government must go through the financial institution to obtain that information. Introducing a CBDC would remove this last layer of protection. It would place all financial transactions either in a government database or leave them a keystroke away. 44:15 Paige Paridon: We believe that at this point there is little evidence that a CBDC would bring measurable benefits to the US economy or consumers. Furthermore, a CBDC could upend the commercial banking system and create financial instability. 44:30 Paige Paridon: CBDC can take one of two general forms: a wholesale CBDC, which would be used only by financial intermediaries, and a retail CBDC, which could be used by consumers and businesses. To date, most research and attention has been focused on a retail, intermediated, account-based model in which consumer's CBDCs would be held in an account at a bank or another financial intermediary, like an asset held in custody. The CBDC could not be used by the bank to make loans in the way that dollar deposits are used today. Any transfer of $1 deposit from a bank to a CBDC is $1 unavailable for lending to businesses or consumers. By attracting deposits away from banks, a CBDC likely would undermine the commercial banking system in the United States and severely constrict the availability and increase the cost of credit to the economy. 46:30 Paige Paridon: With respect to financial inclusion, a review of the reasons why certain individuals are unbanked makes it clear that a CBDC would be unlikely to meaningfully increase financial inclusion. For example, FDIC data reveals that many respondents are unbanked because of privacy concerns, and intermediated CBDC is unlikely to mitigate those concerns, given that it would presumably come with the same know-your-customer requirements that currently apply to banks. 54:35 Christina Parajon Skinner: So privacy rights are the clearest place to start. Today, individuals can enjoy comprehensive privacy in their payments transactions by using cash. Now, although most central banks have suggested that CBDC is not going to replace cash, that near-term promise can't be guaranteed over the longer term, and the insinuation that CBDC is necessary or inevitable seems motivated by a view that cash will eventually become obsolete. But because central banks don't have the technology presently to offer cash-like privacy, a digital currency -- unless it's radically redesigned -- will bring with it the ability for the state to monitor or surveil its citizens' payments activity. 55:20 Christina Parajon Skinner: I'd like to focus on the impact of a CBDC on the Federal Reserve. Certainly since 2010, the power and authority of the Fed has grown considerably, and Congress's responsibility to oversee the Fed requires it to understand how a CBDC could further empower the central bank but also how it might weaken it. On the one hand, CBDC could result in a larger central bank balance sheet. Issuing CBDC would increase the liability side of the Fed's balance sheet if the total of bank reserves, repos, and cash balances largely remained unchanged. So if the liabilities with CBDC increase, so too much the Fed's assets. The Fed could buy more Treasury securities to match CBDC, but that could possibly invite pressure on the Fed to issue more CBDCs to in turn absorb more government debt. And overall, that dynamic could further erode the limited fiscal discipline that we have remaining. A CBDC could also affect the Fed's independence in the way that it would establish a direct relationship between the central bank and the real economy for the first time in history. One result of that relationship would almost certainly be the further erosion of the line between monetary and fiscal policy. When central banks begin to issue liabilities directly to the people, it will become much more difficult for the central bank to justify their provision of liquidity to banks and the financial system, as opposed to households, especially during a crisis. And effectively this could open the door to political pressure on the Fed to provide liquidity assistance to households during turbulent economic times. But these sorts of household level interventions would radically transform the central bank and its purpose and role within society. 57:40 Christina Parajon Skinner: So it does not inherently improve financial inclusion unless it's paired with accounts for all citizens, which the central bank itself has already recognized as infeasible. 59:15 Raúl Carrillo: Today, I support the call for a digital dollar system, including CBDC, Fed accounts, and Ecash. 1:02:15 Raúl Carrillo: Indeed, the only way to evolve beyond the surveillance status quo is to establish a direct digital dollar interface with consumers where the Fourth Amendment and other protections may actually apply. If we truly care about privacy, we should treat the banking and blockchain industries’ appeals to partnership as suspect, based on legal and technological grounds alone. We can build a retail CBDC and Fed account system with superior protections compared to what exists now and superior protections to the systems that are being built around the world currently. 1:02:50 Raúl Carrillo: So today I also advocate for the inclusion of digital cash, as detailed in the Electronic Cash and Hardware Security and Secured Hardware Act, the Ecash Act, re-introduced by Representative Lynch. Today, Ecash devices available on a smart card or a phone card would serve as digital counterparts to cold hard American cash. These devices would not make payments over the internet. Instead, they would store Treasury issued digital dollars on card hardware to enable everyday small dollar transactions for everyday people. These transactions would be subject to the BSA/AML regime, and as a boon to law enforcement, we can set privacy-sensitive security controls and caps on transactions and usage. However, the cards would in no instance be capable of generating data that companies and agencies can abuse. We preserve a place for privacy within public infrastructure. The Ecash Act harkens back to the past to the days when President Lincoln established the banking and cash system that we still use today. And it also harkens to an exciting, inclusive, safe digital future. 1:08:05 Paige Paridon: CBDC, because it would be a direct liability of the central bank, it would be perceived as the ultimate safe asset. So from that perspective, particularly during times of economic stress, it could attract depositors to pull their money out of the banking system to flee or run to a CBDC if there was perceived concern about the banking system or the financial system overall. So every dollar that currently resides in a bank account can be deployed for useful purposes in the economy, primarily through lending. Every dollar that is pulled out from the banking system and put into a CBDC is one less dollar that could be put to good economic use. And that is why we have a fundamental concern with a retail CBDC, given the flight-to-quality risks. 1:09:35 Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA): 130 countries, representing 98% of the global economy, are now exploring digital versions of their currencies, including the United States. Almost half of these countries are in advanced development pilot or launch stages of their CBDCs. Can you discuss how CBDCs may shape the future global financial landscape? What would it mean for the United States if we instead chose to stay on the sidelines of this race? Raúl Carrillo: Thank you very much for the question, Representative Waters. My opinion is that it is incumbent upon the United States to provide leadership with respect to an inevitable process that is going to occur across the world. It is clear that we're all moving to digital fiat currency. The question is what sort of protections are going to attend digital fiat currency? 1:12:35 Raúl Carrillo: I hear a lot of concern across the political spectrum in this committee about the power of Silicon Valley. And if you do not create an alternative to the corporate systems that collect data, or promise to protect it and then collect it en mass, which is even worse and common in the blockchain industry, then what is going to happen is that Silicon Valley is going to win. And frankly, I don't think anybody here wants that. But in order to preserve the space that we have for public money and not make it a big tech enterprise, we, in fact, have to move forward with digital fiat currency. 1:13:50 Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH): One of the key characteristics of sound money is that it facilitates permissionless, peer-to-peer transactions like cash. Currently, of the 100+ countries developing a central bank digital currency, none of them are developing a permissionless system. Every one of them is developing a permission system, including the United States Federal Reserve. So when we talk about permissions, we can kind of get something from the Federal Reserve's own report of that. They said in their report that it should be privacy-protected, intermediated, widely transferable, and identity-verified. Mr. Michel, Professor Skinner, in your view, is it possible to be both privacy-protected and identity-verified? Dr. Norbert Michel: No, in my view, it's not. Once the information is in a system, it's in a system and somebody is going to get it and it's going to get out. And I just quickly really want to say I'm very happy to hear everybody here on the panel is pro-Fourth Amendment. The problem, of course, as you know, is that the Bank Secrecy Act, and the anti money laundering regime runs right over the Fourth Amendment. So that's what needs to be fixed. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH): It's already a problem in third party hands, but this wouldn't even be in third party hands. But, you know, Professor Skinner, what's your view? Christina Parajon Skinner: My view is no, that that's not possible right now, and central banks have essentially admitted as much. And to the extent such technology is or could be under development, it's extremely immature. And I think the point to emphasize here is that inherently there will be a tradeoff to the extent central banks create CBDC, between identity verification and privacy. And more than likely central banks will always choose identity verification because they will never feel comfortable sacrificing the national security goals that they see as accompanying robust identity verification. 1:24:35 Rep. John Rose (R-TN): Decisions in United States v. Miller and Maryland v. Smith gave us the third party doctrine. Under that doctrine. if you voluntarily provide information to a third party, the Fourth Amendment does not preclude the government from accessing it without a warrant. Dr. Michelle, can you explain how the third party doctrine has impacted Americans' financial privacy? Dr. Norbert Michel: Yes, they practically have none at the moment partly because of this. But I also want to clarify, because of something that was just said on the panel. The Fourth Amendment is the one that amends the Constitution to the United States, which protects American citizens from the government. So this is exactly the issue and it was brought up in the cases in the 70s, when the Bank Secrecy Act was challenged. If the Bank Secrecy Act were not there, the banks and financial institutions that we have would not be required by the government to collect the data that they are, that is a requirement in the Bank Secrecy Act. And everybody can go back and look at those cases, that was always an issue as to whether this was constitutional and in violation of possibly the Fourth Amendment. So between the combination of the Bank Secrecy Act, the Fourth Amendment issues, and the third party doctrine, Americans, although many of them don't realize it, have very little financial privacy at the moment. 1:26:05 Rep. John Rose (R-TN): How would the adoption of a CBDC further erode Americans' reasonable expectation of financial privacy? Dr. Norbert Michel: I believe it would remove the last layer that we have, quite simply, instead of having to go through the financial institution, the government would have that information either in a central database or a keystroke away. 1:31:05 Raúl Carrillo: We envision hardware devices. So those can be cards, similar in size to an existing debit or credit card, or they can be secured SIM cards, or something like it, on a phone that would enable hardware based transactions and for people to make payments as they do today with paper cash for everyday things without fear of government or corporate surveillance, which occurs in tandem when we use digital payments today. 1:32:20 Raúl Carrillo: I would clarify that the point of Ecash is that it does not operate online. It is actually open, permissionless, and private, in the sense that you don't need a blockchain or a banking intermediary. 1:35:45 Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI): In your testimony you wrote, "any transfer of $1 deposit from a commercial bank or credit union to a CBDC is $1 unavailable for lending to businesses or consumers." Can you expand a little bit on that statement about how an adoption of an intermediated CBDC would impact credit availability and the cost of banking services? Paige Paridon: Sure. Happy to, thank you. So I think there's a misconception generally, that $1 transferred from a deposit account to a CBDC would mean that CBDC would still be able to be used for lending and investment in the economy the way that dollar deposits currently are now. And that is not the case of CBDC, even if intermediated. In other words, even if the services including onboarding and other services that commercial banks currently provide, even if those services were provided by banks with respect to a consumer's CBDC, the fact is the bank would really only hold that CBDC in the same manner it holds an asset in custody. So it would have to essentially keep that CBDC under the proverbial mattress and it would not be able to be redeployed in the form of loans. 1:41:20 Paige Paridon: If it was an intermediated CBDC, banks would essentially hold CBDC as a custodian. That's right, they wouldn't be able to lend out some portion of the CBDC as they do deposits. 1:42:10 Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL): If you had 100%, CBDCs was all the money supply, you'd have no lending, right? So doesn't any proportional increase in the amount of a CBDC in an economy shrink the economy? Paige Paridon: Well, there could be shifts to other forms of ways to fund lending. Banks could borrow in the wholesale markets, they could potentially borrow from the Federal Reserve. So I'm not necessarily sure it's a one-to-one relationship. 1:46:25 Rep. Mike Flood (R-NE): Ms. Skinner, in your testimony, you mentioned how a CBDC could lead to the Federal Reserve's independence being threatened. Can you speak more on that? Christina Parajon Skinner: Yes, certainly. Thank you for the question. So in the first instance, to the extent the Federal Reserve doesn't change the composition of its balance sheet otherwise, issuing a CBDC will increase its liabilities, which means that it has to match that increase in liabilities by purchasing more assets. So the first thing that we would think about when the Fed would purchase more assets would be buying more Treasury securities. That being said, with the potential for the Fed to issue more CBDC, thereby giving it more headroom to buy more Treasury securities, would be likely to put some pressure on the Fed at some point down the line from the Treasury to issue that CBDC to absorb more government debt, which we call monetary finance or monetizing the deficit. Before World War Two, the Fed essentially operated under the thumb of the Treasury so that during wartime and otherwise, the Fed could effectively monetize the deficit. And really today, that's anathema to an independent central bank. There were other things that the Fed could also be pressured to buy to match an increase in CBDC, like corporate bonds. Now our recent experimentation in corporate bonds has put some question around whether this too could politicize a central bank because inevitably if central banks buy corporate bonds, they are picking winners and losers in the economy. Now, the Fed has been pretty neutral in its approach, but there has been a lot of pressure on the central bank to, for example, buy green bonds in order to facilitate a transition to a low carbon economy and certainly other central banks do actively green their corporate bond portfolios. 2:23:05 Dr. Norbert Michel: I believe this is a question of centralization versus decentralization. And if you have a CBDC, you ultimately have one major point of failure. One way of doing this would be to have the Fed have a database. Well, we know the Fed's been hacked. Even if the Fed has multiple databases, it's the Fed being hacked, as opposed to having multiple private companies all across the country. If Capital One, for example, has a hack or a cybersecurity problem, everybody in the country is not immediately at risk, only their customers, and that's a problem for them. 2:25:25 Rep. William Timmons (R-SC): Based on your research, can you explain what, if any, technological advantage a CBDC has over the private sector? Dr. Norbert Michel: None. And this should be this is properly viewed as a government reaction to a private innovation. We can call it Bitcoin or you could just call it distributed ledger technology in general. That's what this is about. This is about the government seeing an innovation that possibly threatens their control over the payment system and it is a movement to come up with something that takes that back and it just so happens that what they're coming up with here is something that goes even further than where we are without the CBDC. 2:26:45 Christina Parajon Skinner: The status of the dollar is undergirded by our commitment to the rule of law, democratic institutions, having a judiciary that enforces property rights, and perhaps most importantly, maintaining the dollar as a stable store of value. So for there, it's important that the Fed maintain its fight against inflation and with the issuance of the CBDC, there will absolutely be a propensity to over-issue, to for example, monetize the deficit and if that were to happen that would undermine the status of the dollar. 2:29:45 Paige Paridon: A so-called flight to quality is something that we fear would be almost inevitable. Were a retail CBDC to be issued by the Federal Reserve, in times particularly of financial stress or instability, a CBDC would be viewed likely as the ultimate safe asset and depositors would likely be incentivized to pull the deposits out of the banking system and put them into CBDCs as a safe asset, which would reduce the availability of deposits available to lend out, and moreover, increase the cost of credit. 2:31:10 Raúl Carrillo: President Lincoln created cash after the Civil War in order to help everybody have day to day transactions throughout our economy. Today we have cutting edge technology in various other sectors in the government, including in the US military where they use stored value cards known as Eagle Cash in order to make offline payments. 2:33:15 Yuval Rooz: If the US government were to decide to issue a retail CBDC, unlike wholesaled CBDC, I think that it is going to be critical for the government to show an evidence that there is no ability for the government to see transactions of citizens. I personally would be against such an act. 2:35:05 Yuval Rooz: If we wanted to have privacy included in the smart contract of the money, it would state that any movement of money would only be visible to the sender of money and the receiver of money for example, and the issuer of money would be blinded. So all that the issuer would see is the overall balance, but would not see any underlying movements of the money, for example. March 8, 2023 House Financial Services Committee Witnesses: Jerome Powell, Chair, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Clips 53:50 Rep. French Hill (R-AK): Turning to a topic that's been a subject here for nearly four years: Central Bank Digital Currencies. Article One of the Constitution, reserves coins and money issuance to the Congress and we've in turn delegated that to the US Treasury, which has since 1912 engaged the Federal Reserve as their fiscal agent. You've testified here many times before that to issue a Central Bank Digital Currency that would be have to be authorized by statute by Congress. Is that still your testimony? Jerome Powell: So that is absolutely the case as it relates to a retail CBDC. There are potential forms of a wholesale CBDC that you would need to look at, it's less clear. But we've always been talking about retail CBDC and that's something we would certainly need Congressional approval for. Rep. French Hill (R-AK): What would be a parameter on something that's not a retail CBDC where you think that could be issued in some form or fashion without Congress's direct statutory authorization? Jerome Powell: It would be, for example, something between banks, so it would look an awful lot like a bank reserve. And you might ask, Well, why would we need it? And that's a really good question, too. But just something that's literally within a wholesale market. Rep. French Hill (R-AK): But that speaks that you might have a blockchain between banks and the Fed using a Central Bank Digital Currency token to settle transactions institutionally inside the US. 1:15:40 Jerome Powell: We did go out for comment in general on a CBDC a year or so ago and I do expect that we'll go out, I can't give you a date, but we'll certainly go out and we engage with the public on an ongoing basis. We're also doing research on policy and also on technology. That's what we're up to. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA): The Boston Fed has a partnership over there with the folks from MIT Media Lab, they're doing a great job, but it says here that the discussions would include technical experimentation. I was just wondering, at what level are you talking about making decisions on architecture for a retail CBDC? Jerome Powell: We're not at the stage of making any real decisions. What we're doing is experimenting, in kind of early stage experimentation. How would this work? Does it work? What's the best technology? What's the most efficient? We're really at an early stage but we're making progress on sort of technological issues. The policy issues are equally important though. You know, we haven't decided that this is something that the financial systems in the country want or need. So that's going to be very important. 1:18:15 Jerome Powell: A CBDC is going to be years in evaluation. 1:18:30 Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA): You know, before the greenback, everybody had their own currency. You know, you had rail rail companies, you had coal companies, you had, you know, state banks that were authorized to issue their own currency. But when the greenback came out, all of those various currencies went to zero, because the greenback had the full faith and credit of the United States behind it. I'm worried about a lot of these Stablecoins and other cryptocurrencies. Do they go to zero when we come up with a CBDC that has the full faith and credit of the United States behind it? We've got 1000s of these out there, and you've got people investing millions and millions of dollars, well trillions right now. And I'm just thinking if we had those advantages built into a CBDC? Wouldn't those alternatives go to zero, if they did not have the transparency and the full faith and credit that we enjoy? Jerome Powell: So certainly, unbacked cryptocurrencies that don't have any intrinsic value, but nonetheless, trade for a positive number, I've never understood the valuation of those. Stablecoins, many of them are really drawing on the credibility of the dollar. They're dollar denominated mainly, dollar-based reserves, although we don't know what's in the reserves because there's no regulation. 2:16:05 Jerome Powell: What we say about permissionless blockchains is that they have been vehicles for fraud -- Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH): 0.24% if you follow your own report on fraud. It's a fraction of what it is with the US dollar. May 26, 2022 House Financial Services Committee Witness: Lael Brainard, Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Clips 2:08:30 Rep. John Rose (R-TN): Vice Chair Brainard, we saw how dangerous it can be when the government weaponizes the financial system for political purposes under the Obama administration's Operation Choke Point. More recently, the Canadian government instructed banks to freeze accounts linked to the trucker protests over vaccine mandates. Vice Chair Brainard, without appropriate safeguards, would a CBDC make it easier for the federal government to block individuals it disagrees with from accessing the financial system? Lael Brainard: So I really don't see CBDC as raising questions that are different from deposits and bank accounts, for instance. And the paper that was released in January, in particular, talks about an intermediary model, akin to what we see with commercial bank deposits, where the central bank doesn't have any direct interaction with consumers, doesn't see transactions by consumers, but there are intermediaries and, very importantly, including banks that would be responsible for both identity verification and for keeping that transaction data private. So in that sense, I don't see it it's as really any different than the issues that are raised with commercial bank deposits. June 16, 2021 Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy Witnesses: Eric B. Lorber, Senior Director, Foundation for Defense of Democracies Clips 43:33 Eric Lorber: The number of transactions which are elicit that use Bitcoin or blockchain technology is actually fairly low percentage wise it's in I believe, below 1% or somewhere around there. So it's fairly small. Music by Editing Production Assistance
10/23/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 56 seconds
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CD282: Chaos Fires McCarthy

For the first time in U.S. history, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has been fired from the job mid-term. This episode is a play by play of the drama that lead up to this historic event, including the passing of a temporary government funding law which triggered agents of chaos to give Kevin McCarthy the boot. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes Government Shutdowns Clinton T. Brass et al. Updated December 10, 2018. Congressional Research Service. Christopher Hickey. September 29, 2023. CNN. Credit Rating Downgrade Elliot Smith. September 27, 2023. CNBC. Elliot Smith. August 2, 2023. CNBC. Funding Process Congressional Research Service. September 11, 2023. Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget. The Continuing Resolution [Jen’s Highlighted Version.] Wikipedia contributors. Retrieved October 8, 2023. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. The Ousting of Kevin McCarthy S. Dev. October 4, 2023. CBS News. Mini Racker. October 3, 2023. TIME. Audio Sources October 3, 2023 September 30, 2023 C-SPAN Clips Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): We will put a clean funding stop gap on the floor to keep government open for 45 days for the House and Senate to get their work done. We will also, knowing what had transpired through the summer -- the disasters in Florida, the horrendous fire in Hawaii and also disasters in California and Vermont -- we will put the supplemental portion that the President asked for in disaster thereto keeping the government open while we continue to do our work. September 30, 2023 Clips Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX): Today, the most important priority is keeping government open. Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY): To shut the government down would be disastrous for the American people, our military, and our economy. The time has come for everyone to put the American people above all interests and continue to do our work as responsible, reasonable, and serious legislators. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA): I cannot justify shutting down our entire government over obscure policy decisions. September 30, 2023 Clips Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): The alternative to our action today -- an entirely avoidable government shutdown -- would not just pause our progress on these important priorities, it would actually set them back. September 29, 2023 Clips Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA): This bill, that was just dropped on us a few hours ago, really is a piece of garbage, and that is putting it nicely. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): We need to make some serious cuts to our bloated government in areas where we don’t need it. We have way too many bureaucrats. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): As I have stated many times with these continuing resolutions, they tell us to pass a continuing resolution so we don’t have to pass another continuing resolution. Well, that line of thinking is like telling a crackhead that I am going to give you more crack to get you off of crack. The truth is we are just addicted to money, and now we are addicted to our great grandchildren’s money. September 28, 2023 Clips Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS): I oppose a shutdown of government, in part because a shutdown would make the crisis that we face at our border even worse. September 27, 2023 Clips Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO): We don’t want continuing resolutions or omnibus bills. We want to go through the funding of the Federal Government bill by bill, sit down, and work with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): Enough is enough. I am putting my countrymen first. I don’t think we should send another nickel to Ukraine. September 27, 2023 Clips Sen. James Lankford (R-OK): We have got to deal with the issue of government shutdowns. They hurt us more than help us. September 26, 2023 Clips Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX): It will be up to Democrats to make a choice. Will they shut down this open border or will they shut down the government of the United States. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on CNN September 21, 2023 Clips Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down, but it doesn't work. September 21, 2023 Clips Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA): Madam Speaker, this majority is a failure. The clowns are running the circus. The day Speaker MCCARTHY handed his gavel over to the clown show, this was the inevitable outcome. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA): The Republican majority in this House is a joke. They wasted weeks talking about gas stoves, weeks arguing about book bans, weeks telling kids what soccer team they can play on, and now we are on the eve of a shutdown and they are doing nothing to stop it. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK): Shutting down the government is bad for the American people. It is an abdication of our responsibility. It is something we should not do September 20, 2023 Clips Rep. Tracey Mann (R-KS): Let’s secure the border. Let’s decrease our country’s dependence on Communist China. Let’s commit to reigning in government spending. September 19, 2023 News 12 Westchester Clips Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): This is stupidity, the idea we are going to shut the government down when we don’t control the Senate, we don’t control the White House. Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): If the clown show of colleagues that refuse to actually govern does not want to pass a CR, I will do everything we need to do to make sure a CR passes. The bottom line here is this: we’re not shutting the government down. September 19, 2023 Clips Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK): It is simply an inappropriate tool in the toolbox, in my opinion. I have seen both sides use it. My side, sadly, has used it more. I hope we don’t do it this time. September 19, 2023 PBS NewsHour Clips Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC): A shutdown is not the best thing in the world, but continued path toward bankruptcy is not an option either, for me. September 18, 2023 Clips Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): Mr. Speaker, I’m not voting for a Continuing Resolution. I’m not voting to continue the failure, and the waste, and the corruption, and the election interference. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): It is only a review of single-subject spending bills that will save this country and allow us to tweeze through these programs and force these agencies to stand up and defend their budget. September 13, 2023 Clips Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA): We should make border security a condition of any continuing resolution when the fiscal year ends on September 30. September 12, 2023 Clips Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): No continuing resolutions; individual spending bills or bust. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): Individual, single-subject spending bills that would allow us to have specific review, programmatic analysis, and that would allow us to zero out the salaries of the bureaucrats who have broken bad, targeted President Trump, or cut sweetheart deals for Hunter Biden. Rep. George Santos (R-NY): A shutdown would only hurt the very people who are putting their lives at risk for all of us. YouTube Executive Producer Recommended Episodes Music by Editing Production Assistance Cover Art Designed by Clare Kuntz Balcer with images from and
10/9/20231 hour, 30 minutes, 11 seconds
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CD281: Private Policing of the Organ Transplant Network

The system for coordinating organ donations and transplants in the United States is broken, according to experts who have testified over the course of many years to Congress. In this episode, hear their testimony about what is wrong with the current system and then we’ll examine the bill that aims to fix the problems. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources August 3, 2022. Senate Finance Committee. Lenny Bernstein and Todd C. Frankel. August 3, 2022. The Washington Post. February 10, 2020. Senate Finance Committee. The Bill Audio Sources July 20, 2023 Senate Committee on Finance, Subcommittee on Health Care Witnesses: LaQuayia Goldring, Patient Molly J. McCarthy, Vice Chair & Region 6 Patient Affairs Committee Representative, Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Matthew Wadsworth, President and CEO, Life Connection of Ohio Raymond J. Lynch, MD, MS, FACS, Professor of Surgery and Director of Transplantation Quality and Outcomes, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Donna R. Cryer, JD, Founder and CEO, Global Liver Institute Clips 30:40 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): HRSA, the Health Resources Agency, is on track to begin the contract process this fall and we're just going to be working here to complement their effort. 36:30 Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): In 2005, I started the investigation of the deadly failures of UNOS, the monopoly tasked with managing the US organ donation system. Since then, more than 200,000 patients have needlessly died on the organ waiting list. There's a reason that I call UNOS the fox guarding the hen house. For nearly two decades, UNOS has concealed serious problems [at] the nation's organ procurement organizations, known as OPOs, instead of working to uncover and correct the corruption. This human tragedy is even more horrific because many of these deaths were preventable. They were the result of [a] corrupt, unaccountable monopoly that operates more like a cartel than a public servant. 44:45 LaQuayia Goldring: As a toddler, at the age of three, I was diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer that took the function of my left kidney. And when I was 17, I went back into complete renal failure and I received a first kidney transplant at that time. Unfortunately, in 2015, I went back into kidney failure. And at that time, I wasn't ready for another transplant, but I didn't have a choice but to go back on dialysis. I've been waiting nine agonizing years for a transplant, dependent upon a dialysis machine five days a week, just to be able to live. I was told that I would receive a kidney transplant within three to five years. But yet I am still waiting. I am undergoing monthly surgeries just to be able to get my dialysis access to work so that I can continue to live until I get a transplant. The UNOS waitlist is not like one to 100, where everybody thinks you get a number. I'm never notified on where I stand on the list or when I will get the call. I have to depend on an algorithm to make the decision of what my fate will be. 47:55 LaQuayia Goldring: Just a few weeks ago, a donor family reached out to me to be a directed kidney donor, meaning they chose me specifically for a kidney transplant. But unfortunately, due to the errors in the UNOS technology, I was listed as inactive and this was a clerical error. And all that they told me was this was a clerical error, and they could not figure out why I was inactive. But when it came down to it, I'm actually active on the transplant list. 51:45 Molly McCarthy: The Federal monopoly contractor managing the organ donation system, UNOS, is an unmitigated failure. And its leadership spends more time attacking critics than it does taking steps to fix the system. I've seen this firsthand in my five years as a patient volunteer with the OPTN and three years ago, I stepped into the role of Vice Chair of the Patient Affairs Committee, or PAC. 53:45 Molly McCarthy: Further, I have been called by a board member telling me to stop focusing on system outage and downtime of the UNOS tech system. He told me that having downtime wasn't a big deal at all, "the donors are dead anyway." That comment speaks volumes to me about the lack of empathy and respect UNOS has for donor families. 55:00 Molly McCarthy: Congress needs to break up the UNOS monopoly by passing 1668, ensuring that HHS uses its authority to replace UNOS as its contractor. 1:00:15 Matt Wadsworth: Break up the OPTN contract and allow for competition. 1:00:40 Matt Wadsworth: I commend this committee for introducing legislation to finally break up this monopoly and I stand ready to work with you in any way possible to ensure that this bill passes. It's the only way this industry will be able to save more patients' lives. 1:02:10 Dr. Raymond Lynch: I want to differentiate between organ donation, which is the altruistic decision of the donor patient and their family, and organ procurement, which is the clinical care provided by OPO staff. This is what turns the gift of donation into the usable organs for transplant. Organ procurement is a clinical specialty. It's the last medical care that many patients will ever receive. It's reimbursed by the federal government and it's administered by OPOs that are each the only provider in the territory to which they hold federal contracts. Right now patient care delivered by OPOs is some of the least visible in American healthcare. I can't tell you how many patients were evaluated by OPO workers in the US in 2022. I can't tell you how many patients were examined, or how many families were given information about donation, or how many times an OPO worker even showed up to a hospital to do this clinical duty. This lack of information about what OPO providers actually do for patients is a root cause of the variability in rates of organ procurement around the country. My research has shown that what we call OPO performance is a measurable restriction on the supply of organs that results in the unnecessary deaths of patients with organ failure. For example, if the lowest performing OPOs from around the country had just reached the national median over a recent seven year period, there would have been 4957 more organ donors, yielding an estimated 11,707 additional organs for transplant. Because many OPOs operate in a low quality data environment and without appropriate oversight, almost 5,000 patients did not get adequate organ procurement care, and nearly 12,000 other patients did not receive life saving transplants. 1:03:55 Dr. Raymond Lynch: OPO clinical work is currently not visible, it's not benchmarkable, and it's not able to be adequately evaluated, analyzed, or compared. However, much of the hidden data about how OPOs provide care to patients is known to one entity and that entity is UNOS. 1:05:20 Dr. Raymond Lynch: We need a new network of highly skilled specialist organizations, each attending to areas of expertise in the management of the OPTN contract. 1:21:15 Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): When we look at OPTN, and look at the Securing Organ Procurement Act, the bill would strip the nonprofit requirement for the manager of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, which would open the door for profiting from organ procurement and donation. And to me, this is something that I think many people really fear, especially people that are on a waitlist. And so what I would like for you to do is to address that and address those concerns. And why or why not you think the Act has it right. Dr. Raymond Lynch: Thank you, Senator. I think it's unfortunate that people would be afraid of that and it needs to be changed. Many of the patients that you referenced are waitlisted at for-profit hospitals. For-profit is a part of American healthcare. And I can tell you that our not-for-profit entity doesn't work. And there are for-profit hospitals and for-profit transplant centers that do work. So patients don't need to be afraid of that. They do need to be afraid of the status quo. 1:28:30 Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): Ms. Cryer, do you have any views as to why it's much lower percentage chances for a racial minority to be able to have a transplant? Donna Cryer: Yes. And it really does come down to UNOS not doing its job of overseeing the organ procurement organizations. We know from many studies that black and brown communities donate organs in the same percentage they are the population. So it is not a problem of willingness to donate. It is a problem, as Miss Goldring was starting to discuss, about UNOS not ensuring that OPOs go out into the communities, develop relationships far before that horrible decision is needed to [be] made to donate the organs of a family member. 1:56:45 Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): And among the many reforms the legislation would support HRSA's proposal to break up the OPTN monopoly contract into multiple smaller contracts, which would allow some competition and allow the best vendors in the business to manage different parts of the transplant network operation. That means hiring IT experts to do the IT. It means hiring logistics experts to do logistics, and so on. 1:57:15 Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): UNOS does not want to lose control, so they're pushing to have the government limit eligibility only to nonprofit vendors that have worked in the past on organ donation, meaning, for instance, that the IT company that is hired to run OPTNs computers systems would have had to have worked on an organ transplant network in the past and be a nonprofit. So Ms. McCarthy, the requirement UNOS wants would seem to make it so that only one organization could apply for the new contract: UNOS. 1:58:35 Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): Right now, Congress has an opportunity to root out corruption in this system, but if we don't act before the current contract expires we won't have another shot for years. August 3, 2022 Senate Committee on Finance Witnesses: Brian Shepard, CEO, United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Diane Brockmeier, RN, President and CEO, Mid-America Transplant Barry Friedman, RN, Executive Director, AdventHealth Transplant Institute Calvin Henry, Region 3 Patient Affairs Committee Representative, Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Jayme Locke, M.D., MPH, Director, Division of Transplantation, Heersink School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham Clips 36:15 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): A 1984 law created the first computerized system to match sick patients with the organs they need. It was named the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Someone needed to manage that system for the whole country, so the government sought to contract an organization to run it. UNOS was the only bidder for that first contract in 1986. The contract has come up for bid seven other times, UNOS has won all seven. Today, the network UNOS overseas is made up of nearly 400 members, including 252 transplant centers, and 57 regional organizations known as Organ Procurement Organizations, or OPOs. Each OPO is a defined geographic service network. Families sitting in a hospital room thinking about donating a loved one's organs does not have a choice of OPOs. 37:40 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): Between 2010 and 2020, more than 1,100 complaints were filed by patients and families, staff, transplant centers, and others. The nature of these complaints runs the gamut. For example, in a number of cases, OPOs had failed to complete critical mandatory tests for matters like blood types, diseases, and infection. Our investigation found one patient died after being transplanted with lungs that a South Carolina OPO marked with the wrong blood type. Similar blood type errors happened elsewhere and patients developed serious illness. Some had to have organs removed after transplant. Another patient was told he would likely die within three years after an OPO in Ohio supplied him with a heart from a donor who had died of a malignant brain tumor. UNOS did not pursue any disciplinary action. In a case from Florida, another patient contracted cancer from transplanted organs and the OPO sat on the evidence for months. In total, our investigation found that between 2008 and 2015, and 249 transplant recipients developed a disease from transplanted organs. More than a quarter of them died. 38:55 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): Delivering organs has been another source of life threatening errors. We found 53 such complaints between 2010 and 2020, as well as evidence that this was just the tip of the iceberg. In some cases, couriers missed a flight. In others, the organs were abandoned at airports. Some organs were never picked up. Many of these failures resulted in organs being discarded. 39:20 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): It's reasonable to assume that many more errors are going unreported. Why? Because filing official complaints with UNOS appears to accomplish zero productive oversight or reform. Organ transplant professionals repeatedly told the Finance Committee that the complaint process was, and I quote here, "a black hole." Complaints went in, UNOS went quiet. In interviews with the Committee UNOS leaders have dragged their feet, dodged tough questions, and shifted responsibility onto others. investigations and disciplinary measures rarely amount to much more than a slap on the wrist. Only one time -- just once -- has UNOS recommended that an OPO lose their certification. 55:05 Diane Brockmeier: We must update the archaic technology system at UNOS. As OPOs, we are required to work with UNOS technology DonorNet every day. DonorNet is outdated, difficult to us,e and often slow to function when every minute counts. Manual entry subjects it to error and OPO and Transplant Center staff are not empowered with the right information when time is critical. I did serve in leadership roles on the OPO Committee from 2017 to 2022. Committee members and industry leaders voiced repeated requests to improve DonorNet. The consistent response was UNOS IT did not have the bandwidth to address this work. The limitations of the UNOS technology are delaying and denying transplants to patients that are dying on the waitlist. Poor technology impacts the disturbingly high kidney discard rate in the United States, where one in four kidneys never make it to a patient for transplantation. Critical time is lost due to the inefficiency of DonorNet, wasting time on offers that will not be accepted. Of course an available organ should be offered to the patient in this sequence. However, far too much of the matching, particularly on older donors and organs that are difficult to place, are left to the individual OPOs and transplant centers to find each other despite, rather than facilitated by, UNOS technology. Mid-America Transplant intentionally identifies surgeons who accept kidneys that have been repeatedly turned down many times. These are life saving options for those patients. In May of 2022, one of these patients was number 18,193 on the list. Relying on DonorNet alone, that kidney would never had been placed and the chance to save a life would have been wasted. 55:20 Diane Brockmeier: UNOS lacks urgency and accountability around identifying and remediating this preventable loss of organs, and they are not required to publicly report adverse events when patients are harmed, organs are lost, or the quality of patient care is deemed unsafe. UNOS does not require clinical training, licensure, or certification standards for OPO staff delivering critical patient care. In this environment, who's looking out for the patient? Who's being held accountable for poor patient care? No OPO has ever actually been decertified, regardless of its performance or its safety record. 57:55 Diane Brockmeier: When an OPO goes out of sequence to place an organ that would otherwise be thrown away, UNOS requires an explanation; however, when organs are recovered and discarded, you must remain silent. 58:05 Diane Brockmeier: We must remove conflicts to ensure effective governance. From 2018 to 2020, I served as a board member for the OPTN. Serving on the board of the OPTN automatically assigns membership to the UNOS board. My board experience revealed that at times UNOS actions are not aligned with its fundamental vision of a life saving transplant for everyone in need. How can you fairly represent the country's interest and a contractor's interest at the same time? 58:35 Diane Brockmeier: Board members are often kept in the dark about critical matters and are marginalized, particularly if they express views that differ from UNOS leadership. Preparatory small group calls are conducted prior to board meetings to explore voting intentions, and if the board member was not aligned with the opinion of UNOS leadership, follow up calls are initiated. Fellow board members report feeling pressured to vote in accordance with UNOS leadership. 59:10 Diane Brockmeier: To protect patients, I urge Congress and the administration to separate the OPTN functions into different contracts so that patients can be served by best-in-class vendors, to immediately separate the boards of the OPTN and OPTN contractors, and to ensure that patients are safeguarded through open data from both the OPTN and OPOs. 1:00:45 Barry Friedman: Approximately 23% of kidneys procured from deceased donors are not used and discarded, resulting in preventable deaths 1:00:55 Barry Friedman: Organ transportation is a process left to federally designated Organ Procurement Organizations, OPOs. Currently, they develop their own relationships with couriers, rely on airlines, charter flights, ground transportation, and federal agencies to facilitate transportation. In many cases, organs must connect from one flight to another, leaving airline personnel responsible for transfers. While anyone can track their Amazon or FedEx package, there is currently no consistent way of tracking these life saving organs. 1:01:45 Barry Friedman: Currently there is no requirement for OPOs to use tracking systems. 1:02:20 Barry Friedman: I also believe there's a conflict of interest related to the management of IT functions by UNOS, as the IT tools they offer transplant centers come with additional costs, despite these being essential for the safety and management of organs. 1:02:35 Barry Friedman: UNOS is not effectively screening organ donors so that they can be quickly directed to transplant programs. UNOS asks centers to voluntarily opt out of certain organs via a filtering process. As a result, OPOs waste valuable time making organ offers to centers that will never accept them. Time wasted equates to prolonged cold ischemic time and organs not placed, resulting in lost organ transplant opportunities. 1:03:10 Barry Friedman: Due to the limited expertise that UNOS has in the placement of organs, it would be best if they were no longer responsible for the development of organ placement practices. The UNOS policy making [process] lacks transparency. Currently OPTN board members concurrently serve as the board members of UNOS, which creates a conflict of interest that contributes to this lack of transparency. UNOS committees are formed in a vacuum. There is no call for nominations and no data shared with the transplant community to explain the rationale behind decisions that create policy change. 1:11:35 Dr. Jayme Locke: The most powerful thing to know about this is that every organ represents a life. We can never forget that. Imagine having a medication you need to live being thrown away simply because someone took too long to get it to you. Your life quite literally in a trash can. Organs are no different. They too have shelf lives and they are measured in hours. Discarded organs and transportation errors may sound abstract, but let me make this negligence real for you. In 2014, I received a kidney that arrived frozen, it was an ice cube you could put in your drink. The intended recipient was sensitized, meaning difficult to match. The only thing we could do was tell the waiting patient that due to the lack of transportation safeguard, the kidney had to be thrown in the trash, the final generous act of a donor in Maryland. In 2017, I received a kidney that arrived in a box that appeared to have tire marks on it. The box was squished and the container inside had been ruptured. We were lucky and were able to salvage the kidney for transplant. But why should luck even play a role? 1:12:45 Dr. Jayme Locke: In one week, I received four kidneys from four different OPOs, each with basic errors that led to the need to throw away those life saving organs. One due to a botched kidney biopsy into the kidneys collecting system, another because of a lower pole artery that had been cut during procurement that could have been fixed if someone involved had assessed the kidney for damage and flushed it before packing, but that didn't happen. Two others arrived to me blue, meaning they hadn't been flushed either. 1:13:15 Dr. Jayme Locke: Opacity at UNOS means that we have no idea how often basic mistakes happen across the country, nor can we have any confidence that anything is being done to redress such errors so they don't keep happening. 1:13:40 Dr. Jayme Locke: Women who have been pregnant, especially multiple times, are harder to match, contributing to both gender and racial disparities in access to transplant. This is a very real example of how a constrained pool of organs and high discards disproportionately hurt women and women of color, who are more likely to have multiple pregnancies. 1:14:25 Dr. Jayme Locke: Number one, immediately separate the OPTN board from any of the boards of any contractors. Number two, bring in real experts to ensure our patients are served by the best of the best in each field, separating out key functions of the OPTN, including policy, technology, and logistics. And number three, ensure that patients are safer by holding all contractors accountable through public adverse event reporting and immediate redressing of problems. 1:22:00 Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): The system doesn't seem to be fair to racial minorities or people living in rural communities. So what are your efforts underway to understand the root causes and help make the system fairer to patients on the waiting list to explain the factors that result in the disparity for minorities in rural populations in the process? And how can the federal government address a problem if we have to be involved in addressing it? Dr. Jayme Locke: One of the most important things that we don't currently do is we don't actually account for disease burden in terms of examining our waiting lists. So we have no way of knowing if we're actually serving the correct people, if the correct people are actually making it to the waiting list. Disease burden is super important because it not only identifies the individuals who are in need of transplantation, but it also speaks to supply. So areas with high rates of end stage kidney disease burden, like the southeastern United States are going to have much lower supply. And those waiting lists predominantly consist of African American or Black individuals. So if you want to make a truly equitable organ system, you have to essentially get more organs to those areas where there are higher disease burdens. I think the other thing is that we have to have more focus on how we approach donor families and make sure that we have cultural competence as a part of our OPOs, and how they approach families to ensure that we're not marginalizing minority families with regard to the organ donation process. 1:30:00 Brian Shepard: The OPTN IT system that UNOS operates has 99.99% uptime. It is a highly reliable system. We are audited annually by HRSA.... Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): My information shows it's had 17 days down since I think 1999. That's not correct? Brian Shepard: In 23 years, yes, sir. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): Okay, well, every day there's a loss of life, isn't it? Brian Shepard: That's the total amount of time over the couse of -- Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): I hope our national event system isn't down 17 days a year. Brian Shepard: The system has never been down for a day. And to my knowledge, and I have not been at UNOS since 1999, there's been maybe one event that was longer than an hour, and that was three hours. But the total amount of time since 1999 -- Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): So you're satisfied with your technology? You think you have the right technology? You're satisfied with your tracking systems now? You think everything is okay? Brian Shepard: We constantly improve our technology. We're subjected to 3 million attempts a day to hack into the patient database and we successfully repelled them all. So we are never satisfied with our technology, but we do maintain 99.99% uptime. We disagree with the USDS analysis of our systems. 1:37:25 Brian Shepard: If you're asking whether UNOS can prevent an OPO from operating or for being an OPO -- Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH: Well not prevent them, but require them to do something .You don't have the ability to require them...? Brian Shepard: The peer review process has significant persuasive authority, but all the payment authority and all the certification and decertification authority live at CMS. 1:39:00 Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH: Do you think there should be tracking of organs in transit? Brian Shepard: I think that's a very beneficial thing. UNOS provides an optional service that a quarter of OPOs use. Many OPOs also use other commercially available trackers to do that. There is not a single requirement to use a particular system. 1:41:55 Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): Mr. Shepherd, you are the CEO of UNOS. We have documented these problems and you've received more than 1000 complaints in the last decade alone. So tell me, in the 36 years that UNOS has had the contract to run our national organ system, how many times has UNOS declared its OPO Members, any OPO members, not in good standing. Brian Shepard: Two times, Senator. 1:43:20 Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): How many times has UNOS put an OPO on probation? Brian Shepard: I don't know that number off the top of my head, but it's not a large number. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): It's not large, in fact it's three. 1:45:20 Brian Shepard: Approximately 10% of the budget of this contract is taxpayer funded. The rest of that is paid by hospitals when they list patients. 1:49:30 Sen. Todd Young (R-IN): Once an OPO is designated not in good standing, Senator Warren referred to this as toothless. It does seem toothless to me. I'll give you an opportunity, Mr. Shepherd, to disabuse me of that notion and indicate for me what penalties or sanctions are actually placed on an OPO when they are designated not in good standing. Brian Shepard: The statute does not give UNOS any authority to offer sanctions like that. The certification, decertification, payment authorities belong entirely to CMS. UNOS's statute doesn't give us the ability -- Sen. Todd Young (R-IN): So it is toothless in that sense. Brian Shepard: It is designed to be, by regulation and contract, a quality improvement process, in contrast to the oversight process operated by a federal agency. 1:51:15 Sen. Todd Young (R-IN): To what extent is UNOS currently tracking the status of all the organs in transit at any given time? Brian Shepard: UNOS does not coordinate transportation or track organs in transit. We do provide a service that OPOs can use to use GPS trackers. Some of the OPOs use ours and some use other commercially available products. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN): So why is it, and how does UNOS plan to optimize organ delivery if you don't have 100% visibility into where they are at any given time? Brian Shepard: I think that the GPS products that we offer and that other people offer are valuable, they do help in the delivery of kidneys. Only kidneys travel unaccompanied, so this is a kidney issue. But I do think that GPS trackers are valuable and I think that's why you've seen more and more OPOs use them. 1:52:50 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): Mr. Shepherd has said twice, with respect to this whole question of the power to decertify an OPO, that CMS has the power to do it. UNOS also has the power to refer an OPO for decertification under the OPTN final rule. That has been done exactly once. So I just wanted it understood with respect to making sure the committee has got what's really going on with respect to decertifying OPOs. 2:00:15 Dr. Jayme Locke: Obviously people have described that we have about a 25% kidney discard, so one in four. So if you look at numbers last year, these are rough numbers, but that'd be about 8000 kidneys. And really, I think, in some ways, these are kind of a victim of an entrenched and cumbersome allocation algorithms that are very ordinal, you have to go sort of in order, when data clearly have shown that introduction of multiple simultaneous expiring offers would result in more efficient placement of kidneys and this would decrease our cold ischemia time. 2:00:50 Dr. Jayme Locke: So if you take UNOS's organ center, they have a very rigid system, for example, for finding flights and lack either an ability or interest in thinking outside the box. So, for example, if there are no direct flights from California to Birmingham, Alabama, instead of looking for a flight from San Francisco to Atlanta, understanding that a courier could then pick it up in Atlanta and drive it the two hours, they'll instead put on a flight from SFO to Atlanta and allow it to go to cargo hold overnight, where it literally is rotting, if you will, and we're putting extra time on it. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): Just to make sure everybody gets this. You're saying you've seen instances of something being put in cargo hold when it is very likely to rot? Dr. Jayme Locke: That is correct. So if the kidney arrives after 10pm at the Atlanta airport, it goes to cargo hold. We discovered that and made calls to the airlines ourselves and after several calls to the airlines, of course they were mortified, not understanding that that was what was happening and actually had their manager meet our courier and we were able to get the kidney out of cargo hold, but this went on before we figured out what was happening because essentially they fly it in, it sits in cargo hold, it comes out the next morning to catch the next flight. Instead of thinking outside the box: if we just get it to Atlanta, it's drivable to Birmingham. And those hours make a difference. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): That sounds way too logical for what UNOS has been up to. 2:03:05 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): Miss Brockmeier, UNOS has developed this organ tracking system. Do you all use it? I'm curious what you think of it. Diane Brockmeier: Thank you for the question, Senator. We did use and participate in the beta pilot through UNOS and made the decision to not move forward using their product, and have sought a commercial alternative. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): And why was that? Diane Brockmeier: Part of the issues were some service related issues, the lack of the interconnectivity that we wanted to be able to facilitate a more expedited visual tracking of where the organ was. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): Was the tracking technology low quality? Diane Brockmeier: Yes, sir. 2:11:25 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): All right, let's talk for a moment about the boards that are supposed to be overseeing these, because it looks to me like there's a serious conflict of interest here and I'll send this to Ms. Brockmeier, and perhaps you'd like to get to it as well, Mr. Friedman. The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, which is the formal title of the organ network that operates under federal contract administered by HHS, and UNOS, which is the contractor that operates the network and controls information about the network, have the same boards of directors, despite efforts by the government to separate them. That means the people who look out for the best interests of UNOS, the multimillion dollar nonprofit, are the same people who look out for the interests of the entire organ transplant network. Sure sounds like a conflict to me. 2:12:55 Diane Brockmeier: I think there should be an independent board. I think the division of the responsibilities of the board and by the inherent way that they're structured, do pose conflicts. It would be like if you had an organization that was a supporting organization, you'd want to hold it accountable for its performance. And the current structure really limits that opportunity. 2:19:50 Dr. Jayme Locke: And if you think about IT, something as simple as having a system where we can more easily put in unacceptable antigens, this was a debate for many years. So for context, we list unacceptable antigens in the system that allows us to better match kidneys so that when someone comes up on the match run, we have a high probability that there'll be a good tissue match. Well, that took forever and we couldn't really get our unacceptable antigens in, so routinely people get offered kidneys that aren't going to be a match, and you have to get through all of those before you can get to the person that they really should go to. Those are simple examples. But if we could really have transparency and accountability around those kinds of things, we could save more lives. 2:23:10 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): Mr. Shepherd told Senator Warren that only 10% of UNOS funds come from taxpayer money and the rest comes from fees paid by transplant centers who add patients to the list. But the fact is, Medicare is the largest payer of the fees, for example, for kidneys. So we're talking about inefficiency, inefficiency that puts patients at risk. And certainly, taxpayer dollars are used to cover some of these practices. May 4, 2021 House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Witnesses: Tonya Ingram, Patient Waiting for a Transplant Dr. Dara Kass, Living Donor and Mother of Transplant Recipient LaQuayia Goldring, Patient Waiting for a Transplant Steve Miller, CEO, Association for Organ Procurement Organizations Joe Ferreira, President, Association for Organ Procurement Organizations Matt Wadsworth, President and CEO, Life Connection of Ohio Dr. Seth Karp, Director, Vanderbilt Transplant Center Donna Cryer, President and CEO, Global Liver Institute Clips 5:15 Tonya Ingram: The Organ Procurement Organization that serves Los Angeles, where I live, is failing according to the federal government. In fact, it's one of the worst in the country. One analysis showed it only recovered 31% of potential organ donors. Audits in previous years found that LA's OPO has misspent taxpayer dollars on retreats to five star hotels and Rose Bowl tickets. The CEO makes more than $900,000. Even still, the LA OPO has not lost its government contract and it has five more years to go. 30:00 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Unusual among Medicare programs, their costs are 100% reimbursed, even costs unrelated to care. So, extravagant executive compensation and luxury perks may be passed off onto the taxpayer. 46:55 Dr. Seth Karp: We have 10 hours to get a liver from the donor to the recipient, and about one hour to sew it in. For heart, we have about six hours. Time matters. 47:55 Dr. Seth Karp: Last year, I had the opportunity to co-write a viewpoint in one of the journals of the American Medical Association with TJ Patel, former Chief Data Scientist of the United States. In that article, we provided evidence that the metrics used to judge the performance of organ procurement organizations are basically useless. Until the recent OPO Final Rule, performance was self-reported, and OPO employees admitted to having gamed the system. When threatened with decertification, one of the OPOs themselves successfully argued that because the performance data were self reported and unaudited, they failed to meet a reasonable standard and the OPO should not be held accountable. In other words for decades, the metrics supposed to measure performance didn't measure performance, and the results have been disastrous, as you have heard. 49:45 Dr. Seth Karp: Whenever I, and quite frankly most everyone else in the field, gives a talk on transplantation, we usually make two points. The first is that organ transplantation is a miracle of modern medicine. The second is the tragedy that there are not enough organs for everyone who needs one. I no longer use the second point, because I don't believe it. Based on my work, I believe that there are enough organs for patients who require hearts, lungs, and probably livers, and we can make a huge improvement in the number of kidneys available. In addition to improving OPO performance, new technologies already exist to dramatically increase the organ supply. We need a structure to drive rapid improvement in our system. 54:00 Joe Ferreira: One common misconception is that OPOs are solely responsible for the entire donation and transplantation system, when, in fact, OPOs are the intermediary entity and their success is highly dependent on collaborations with hospitals and transplant programs. At the start of the donation process, hospitals are responsible for notifying any OPO in a timely manner when a patient is on a ventilator and meets medical criteria to be an organ donor. Additionally, transplant centers must make the decision whether to accept or decline the organs offered by OPOs. 57:55 Matt Wadsworth: As geographic monopolies, OPOs are not subject to any competitive pressure to provide high service. As the only major program in all of health care 100% reimbursed for all costs, we do not face financial pressures to allocate resources intelligently. 1:02:10 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Mr. Ferreira, I'd like to turn to you. You run the OPO called the Nevada Donor Network. I have your OPO's 2019 financial statement filed with the CMS. It appears that your OPO spent roughly $6 million in 2019 on administrative and general expenses. Interestingly, in 2019, I see your OPO spent approximately $146,000 on travel meetings and seminars alone. And your itemization of Administrative and General has an interesting line item for $576,000 for "ANG". It took me a minute but that means you have an "Administrative and General" subcategory in your "Administrative and General" category. Very vague. Now Mr. Ferreira, I was informed by Mr. Wadsworth, a former executive of yours at the Nevada Donor Network, that your OPO has season tickets to the NHL's Las Vegas Golden Knights, isn't that correct? Joe Ferreira: That is correct, Mr. Chairman. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): And you also have season tickets to the Las Vegas Raiders too, right? Joe Ferreira: That is correct. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): And according to Mr. Wadsworth and others, your OPO took a board retreat to Napa Valley in 2018. Joe Ferreira: That is correct. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): And Sonoma in 2019, right? Joe Ferreira: That is correct. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Mr. Ferreira, what you're spending on the Raiders, the Golden Knights, Napa Valley and Sonoma have one thing in common: they have nothing to do with recovering organs. 1:10:30 Dr. Seth Karp: In 2019, there were six heart transplants that were performed using donors after circulatory determination of death. And I don't want to get into the technical aspects of that. But in 2019, that number was six. In 2020, that number was 126. This is a new technology. This is a way that we can increase the number of heart transplants done in United States dramatically. And if we think that there were 500 patients in the United States waiting for a heart in 2020, 500 patients that either died or were delisted because they were too sick, and you think in one year, using a technology, we got another 100 transplants, if we could get another 500 transplants out of that technology, we could almost eliminate deaths on the on the heart transplant waiting list. That technology exists. It exists today. But we don't have a mechanism for getting it out to everybody that could use it and it's going to run itself through the system, it's going to take too much time. 1:24:05 Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA): You know, I'm a little disappointed that we're discussing race as a factor in organ transplant. We're all one race in my opinion; color makes no difference to me. We're the human race. And to me, the interjection of race into this discussion is very concerning. Discrimination based on race was outlawed almost 60 years ago through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Now, I'm not a medical doctor, and I have very little knowledge of medicine. But last year, there was an article that came out in LifeSource and it says, "Does my race and ethnicity matter in organ donation?" And so my question here is for Dr. Karp. In your experience, would you agree that a donor's organs are more likely to be a clinical match for a recipient of the same ethnicity? Could you comment on that? Is that actually a factor, or not? I mean, we're all human beings, we all, you know, have similar bodies. Dr. Seth Karp: Yes. So there definitely are certain HLA types that are more common. That is race-based. So the answer to that question is yes. Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA): Okay. All right. And so if you have more of one particular race, more donations of one particular race, then naturally you would have more actual matches of that particular race. Is that correct? Dr. Seth Karp: That would tend to be the case. Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA): Okay. All right. All right. Okay, that's just a question that I wanted to clear up here. 1:34:20 Donna Cryer: We'd like to see investments in languages that are spoken by the community. Educational resources should be, as required by law, for those with limited English proficiency. They should be in the languages spoken by the community. They should be hiring diverse staff to have those most crucial conversations with families. The data shows, and certainly experience and common sense shows as well, that having people of color approaching families of color results in more donations. Executive Producer Recommended Sources Music by Editing Production Assistance
9/18/20231 hour, 15 minutes, 35 seconds
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CD280: Corporate Junk Fees

Do you hate hidden hotel, housing, airline, ticketing, banking, and other corporate fees? Do you want Congress to do something about them? In this episode, learn about the wide range of unreasonable fees being reported to Congress during hearings and examine what proposals could have bipartisan support. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes FTC Authority Ronald Mann. Apr 23, 2021. SCOTUSblog. Supreme Court of the United States. April 22, 2021. Junk Fee Overview Ashish A. Pradhan. May 19, 2023. The National Law Review. Will Kenton. January 24, 2023. Investopedia. Brian Deese et al. October 26, 2022. White House Briefing Room Blog. October 20, 2022. Federal Trade Commission. Brian Canfield et al. July 7, 2021. Institute for Policy Integrity, NYU School of Law. Internet *Federal Communications Commission Healthcare August 8, 2022. Federal Trade Commission. Banking/Payments Lindsey D. Johnson. July 26, 2023. Consumer Bankers Association. July 11, 2023. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Newsroom. Offices of Consumer Populations and Markets. May 23, 2023. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. October 26, 2022. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Newsroom. September 28, 2022. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Newsroom. August 16, 2022. Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. August 16, 2022. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Joe Valenti. March 30, 2022. * Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Blog. January 26, 2022. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Newsroom. December 7, 2020. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Newsroom. December 28, 2018. Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Housing July 19, 2023. White House Briefing Room. March 14, 2023. National Consumer Law Center. Jennifer Ludden. January 13, 2023. WBUR. Airlines Reid Bramblett. Frommer’s. Suzanne Rowan Kelleher. Mar 7, 2023. Forbes. U.S. Department of Transportation. U.S. Department of Transportation. December 13, 2022. U.S. Department of Transportation. November 2022. Statista. Rosie Spinks. June 1, 2018. Quartz. May 2011. Jones Day. Hotels November 17, 2021. Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Christina Jelski. Mar 12, 2021. Travel Weekly. November 28, 2012. The Federal Trade Commission. Ticketing June 20, 2018. U.S. House of Representatives. Anne Bucher. June 13, 2018. Top Class Actions. “Susan Wang and Rene' Lee v. StubHub, Inc. Case” [No. CGC-18-564120]. The Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco. Cars June 23, 2022. Federal Trade Commission. Laws Bills Audio Sources July 26, 2023 Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Witnesses: Attorney General, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Director of Housing Advocacy, Atlanta Legal Aid Society Manager Director, Patomak Global Partners Clips Michelle Henry: In the consumer finance space, we recently filed a multi-state lawsuit against Mariner Finance, a Wall Street private equity-owned installment lender. Our lawsuit alleges that Mariner charged consumers junk fees for hidden add-on products that consumers either did not know about or did not agree to buy. These hidden add-on products, such as credit insurance and auto clubs, are typically low- or no-value products. Consumers left Mariner believing that they had entered into an agreement to borrow and repay over time a certain amount of money. In reality, because of these hidden junk fees, Mariner added hundreds to thousands of dollars to the total amount a consumer owed. The cost of the junk fees is staggering. For a random sample of loans originated in Pennsylvania in December of 2020, Mariner charged each consumer an average of $1,085 in junk fees for an average of $3,394 in cash borrowed. Michelle Henry: We also had a significant junk fee settlement in 2018 with Wells Fargo. This settlement stemmed from Wells charging its auto finance customers millions in junk fees. Despite evidence that many customers already had the required car insurance, Wells improperly charged more than 2 million accounts for force-placed insurance. To resolve the multi-state action, Wells agreed to pay states $575 million. Michelle Henry: In 2021, we announced the landmark junk fee settlement with Marriott International. For many years, travelers had been misled by the published rates offered by hotels for a night stay, only later to be hit with the mandatory resort fees when they were checking in. Thanks to our settlement, Marriott now has a policy in place to be upfront and transparent in the disclosure of mandatory fees, including resort fees, as part of the total price of a hotel stay, allowing consumers to compare total costs for hotels and find the one that is the best fit for them. Marriott was the first hotel chain to formally commit to the upfront disclosure of resort fees as part of the initial advertised price. We hope others will follow. Michelle Henry: In the end, what we are fighting here for is basic fairness and transparency. When consumers are shopping online or in person, they deserve to understand what a loan, a house, or a vacation will cost and exactly what key terms they're agreeing to. At the same time, all businesses deserve to compete on an even playing field, where the price is the price with no hidden surprise fees. Lindsey Siegel: My name is Lindsay Siegel and I'm the Director of Housing Advocacy at Atlanta Legal Aid, which provides free civil legal services to families with low incomes in the metro Atlanta area. Today, I will focus on the rental housing market and how predatory and hidden rental fees gouge families living in poverty and make their rent even more unaffordable than it already is. Miss Dixon is a single mother who found an online listing for an apartment in the fall of 2020. The advertisement said it rented for $1,400 per month. It did not list any other monthly fees she would be required to pay. She applied and paid $525 through the landlord's online portal, which covered her $50 application fee, a $175 moving fee, and a $300 screening fee, all of which were non-refundable. She was not able to see the lease or the apartment she'd be renting, but she knew if she did not pay sight unseen she would lose the apartment. And when her application was approved a few weeks later, the landlord charged her another $200 approval fee. She finally received and signed a copy of her lease just two days before she was slated to move in. It was 50 pages long and contained to eight different addenda. She had expected to pay her rent and for water. She didn't expect to be responsible for a package locker fee, a trash removal fee, a separate valet trash fee, a pest control fee, a technology package fee, an insurance fee, and a credit reporting fee. When the fees added up, $83 had been tacked on to her monthly rent. And to make matters worse, Miss Dixon's landlord did not accept the rent by cash, check, or money order. When she paid through the landlord's online portal she was charged another $72-per-payment convenience fee. The low income renters Atlanta Legal Aid represents have an extreme power imbalance with their landlords. The high demand for rental housing, especially at the more affordable end of the market, makes some landlords believe they can easily get away with unfair and deceptive lease terms and rental practices. The bait and switch Miss Dixon experienced where the landlord advertise the rent as one price only to raise it much higher with junk fees after she had spent hundreds of dollars up front is a far too common practice of many investor landlords in the Atlanta area. Low income renters like Miss Dixon become trapped. She couldn't afford to walk away from a predatory lease two days before she was supposed to move in, even if she realized it would be unaffordable. Of particular concern are the use of high application fees. They often far exceed the cost of running a report, and most renters have to pay them several times before finding a home to rent. We've heard reports that some institutional landlords even collect application fees after they've found a renter for an available home. Brian Johnson: The focus of the President's initiative has been on applying political pressure to companies to induce them to change their fee disclosure practices. In the process, the White House and supporting agencies have dismissed broad categories of fees as junk without ever providing any consistent definition of the term, which has created uncertainty as to which fees can be assessed by institutions without undue reputational or regulatory risk. Brian Johnson: The CFPB has been the most enthusiastic among regulators in heeding the President's call, indiscriminately attacking a growing list of common financial service fees, no matter that they are lawful and fully disclosed. Brian Johnson: The agency has publicly hectored companies about deposit account fees and used the implied threat of investigation to induce such companies to abandon these legal fees. Further, in addressing other fees, the CFPB appears appears to have violated its own regulations and laws governing how agencies proffer rules by disguising interpretive rules as policy statements in bulletins and issuing circulars that function as legislative rules. In another instance, under the guise of interpretation, the CFPB read a word into a statute to achieve its desired policy outcome. In still another, the agency treats the rulemaking process as a foregone conclusion, acting as though a still proposed rule has already taken effect, signaling that the agency has no interest in considering public comments, establishing an adequate evidentiary basis to support its conclusions, or considering potential changes to improve the rule. These examples demonstrate an abuse of power and the agency's disregard for process and the limits placed on it. Moreover, the CFPB's behavior subverts the authority of Congress to oversee the agency and legislate the legality of fees in our financial marketplace. Simply put, it's not playing by the rules. Lindsey Siegel: So I think the federal government does have a role to play. The CFPB could create best practices, investigate junk fees further -- especially those being charged for tenant screening reports -- could bring enforcement actions against debt collectors that engage in collection practices that violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in their collection of rental debt especially includes collection of junk fees. And certainly, you know, HUD could further study and address the disproportionate impact of these practices on renters and rental applicants of color. Lindsey Siegel: Tenants living in Atlanta have a very hard time finding a rental, finding a home, that's not owned by a corporate landlord at this point. They have bought up many properties in the Atlanta area and they always seem to be working in lockstep so that once one institutional landlord is charging a certain kind of fee then another one tends to charge it as well. Just one example of this is the proliferation of landlords charging for insurance fees, and often tenants will think that these are renters insurance because they're often called renter's insurance. But it's not like traditional renter's insurance that protects the renter and their property if it's destroyed. What it does is protect the landlord and doesn't really provide a benefit to tenants at all. And we've seen that proliferate with investor landlords in particular. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): I can't imagine any reasonable member of Congress not saying, "I want the person to know what their financial obligation is when they sign an instrument, not after they read page 10 in the fine print." Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): I'm less caught up in whether or not a trash collection fee is appropriate or not, and more caught up in, does that renter know at the point in time they're signing a lease what they're expected to pay every month? Michelle Henry: We often see things bleed over state lines and boundaries, as you are well aware, and so it's important that we work together to enforce these matters. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA): How often do these kinds of cases cross state lines? And would having federal standards against these types of hidden fees make these cases easier to bring? Michelle Henry: Almost always. And I think that's critical. Where we have been most successful is joining with our fellow states, other attorneys general, partnering with them, and including the CFPB. In December of 2020, the CFPB, with all 50 states and the District of Columbia, filed enforcement action against Nationstar mortgage, again for deceptive practices, for not being transparent when they were servicing borrowers mortgages, and as a result of that joint effort we were able to obtain a settlement of $73 million and brought aid to 40,000 borrowers. Michelle Henry: You know, the reality is a lot of times consumers get misled. So they start, they're looking on the internet, they're trying to do due diligence and look for the best price, whether it's for a hotel, a vacation, and they're in there examining it, and they get led to a certain area of a certain website thinking that's the best price. And they go down this rabbit hole where they have no idea at the end of it that the price they thought they were going to pay for a hotel stay with their family is actually far larger because of fees that they weren't prepared, were not properly advised of, and at that point, they're so far in or they never discover it. So no, I don't think they understand exactly what to be aware of. We're trying to do our best to educate but far more work needs to be done, and I applaud this committee for working on it. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA): If more federal agencies had the authority to address these hidden fees, how would that affect your office's capacity? Michelle Henry: It would help tremendously. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA): Thank you so very much. Michelle Henry: If history is any lesson, we know that they can't be trusted to act in the best interest of consumers on their own. Look, they're in the business of making money for their shareholders and we need robust consumer protection rules and enforcement to ensure that. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): So what we're talking about here is not the "what," it's the "how." And I for one do not think that the regulator's who have demonstrated pushing the boundaries of their authority, giving them more authority is a good idea if we're coming up with a real bipartisan sustainable solution. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): The problem we have here too, when we transfer power out of Congress to another branch, yes, that changes every four years or so. So you may be thrilled with a regulatory regimen that comes out from the CFBP today, but because of the way they behaved, it'd be one of the first things I would work to repeal if the administration changed and withdraw it. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): I'd like to submit for the record a letter from the Consumer Bankers Association on the subject. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): Mr. Johnson, can you talk about the effect of the method that the CFPB is using to go after this and the impact that it can have, the negative implications that has? Is the CFPB's tendency to name and shame business institutions to avoid certain practices or adopt new ones effective regulation? They're not really thinking through the full impact and all the potential unintended consequences. Can you think of any example under this current leadership of the CFPB where they have taken that into consideration? Can you speak a little bit about the efforts and the length the CFPB goes in an effort to avoid judicial review and skirt the APA process? June 8, 2023 Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security Witnesses: Chief Executive Officer, National Consumers League Bruce Greenwald Professor of Business, Marketing Division, Columbia Business School George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia School of Law, George Mason University Clips 21:35 Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO): Simply put, these are fees that are disclosed to a consumer midway through or at the end of a transaction, or they're fees that serve no tangible purpose for a consumer, like a processing fee, and that they are mandatory or unavoidable. 28:00 Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): The way I look at this issue, and the way many Tennesseans look at it, is this is another way for the FTC, the CFPB, DoT, and all these regulators to clamp down on businesses and try to micro manage businesses. 30:42 Dr. Vicki Morwitz: as a strategy where firms decide to divide a product's price into two or more mandatory parts, a base price for the main product and one or more mandatory surcharges, rather than charging a single all-inclusive price. For example, many hotels have a mandatory fee on top of the daily room rate. These are sometimes called resort fees, or facility fees, or destination fees and can range from $20 to over $50 a night. And many rental car agencies assess several mandatory fees on top of the daily rental rate, such as concession recovery fees, customer facility fees, energy recovery fees, and vehicle licensing fees. 31:20 Dr. Vicki Morwitz: In general, what research on partition pricing has shown is that when firms separate out mandatory surcharges consumers tend to underestimate the total price they'll have to pay and they're often more likely to complete the purchase. 31:50 Dr. Vicki Morwitz: With drip pricing, firms advertise only part of our products' price upfront and reveal other charges later, as shoppers go through the buying process. Drip fees can be mandatory or can be for optional items, but for today's testimony I'll focus on the dripping of mandatory surcharges. Drip pricing is commonly used in industries like the cable TV and the ticketing industries. When a consumer shops for a TV-Internet bundle from a cable television provider, they may first see an attractive base price offer for the bundle, but later learn there are also broadcast TV fees, set top box fees, regional sports fees, and TV connection fees that raise the price considerably. And a consumer shopping for a ticket for a live event, like a concert, a play, or a baseball game, typically first sees the price for different seats in the venue. After selecting a seat, as the consumer clicks through more webpages, they may come to learn there's also a mandatory booking fee, ticketing fee, venue fee, and delivery fee, even when the tickets are delivered electronically. Eventually, they see a total price that may be much higher than the first price they saw and they may be under time pressure to complete the purchase, as there might be a countdown clock that indicates they have to complete their purchase in just a few minutes. Or they may be told there's only two seats left at that price. 33:00 Dr. Vicki Morwitz: What research has shown is that when surcharges are dripped, consumers end up being more likely to buy a product that appears cheaper upfront based only on the base price, but that's more expensive and total given the drip fees. Consumers also tend to buy more expensive products than they otherwise would, such as a seat closer to the stage for a live event. 35:00 Dr. Vicki Morwitz: These policies will benefit consumers if they require that upfront stated prices must be all-inclusive. In other words, all mandatory fees must be included in the total price and that the total price should be seen upfront. This is what academic research suggests will be most beneficial to consumers. 39:20 Dr. Todd Zywicki: Everybody knows bags fly free on Southwest, everybody knows bags don't fly free on the legacy airlines, everybody knows there's going to be a fee for for bags on the other airlines and the like. Maybe there's ways you can disclose it, but nobody's fooled at this point. 42:45 Sally Greenberg: If consumers hate junk fees so much, why do companies large and small increasingly impose them? The answer is, unsurprisingly, because they are a substantial profit center. 43:20 Sally Greenberg: Late payment fees charged by banks and credit cards cost American families an estimated $12 billion annually. These fees, which can be as much as $41 for each Late Fee Payment, far exceed the cost to the issuer for processing and do little to deter future delinquent payments. 43:40 Sally Greenberg: Airlines are also poster children for junk fees. Globally, revenue from junk fees, ancillary fees in airline speak, brought in $102.8 billion in 2022. To put this in perspective, junk fees last year made up 15% of global airline revenues, compared to 6% only 10 years ago. 44:00 Sally Greenberg: Anyone who buys tickets to a concert or sporting event is well acquainted with the myriad fees. They're added at the end of the ticket buying process. We have the example that you showed, Senator Hickenlooper. Primary and secondary market ticketing companies charge service fees, order processing fees, delivery fees and other charges that increased ticket prices on average 27% for the primary market and 31% for the secondary market. 45:05 Sally Greenberg: Junk fees themselves are anti-competitive. They make comparing prices more difficult, distorting well functioning marketplaces. Honest entrepreneurs who invest in their businesses, innovate, and strive to create better value for their customers lose business. Action to address the consumer and competitive harm created by junk fees is urgently needed. 45:30 Sally Greenberg: First, we would urge you to support S. 916. It's the Junk Fee Prevention Act, which would require some of the worst abusers of junk fees to display the full price of services upfront, and they would bar excessive fees and ensure transparency. Second, we ask that Congress restore the FTC's ability to obtain strong financial penalties from wrongdoers. The Supreme Court, in 2021, overturned AMG Capital Management v. FTC, wiping out a critical enforcement tool for the commission. S. 4145, which is the Consumer Protection Remedies Act, would restore that ability to impose monetary relief to the commission. And finally, Congress must not allow businesses that trap consumers with unfair and deceptive fees to escape accountability through fine print in their contracts. To that end, we're proud to support S. 1376, the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, which would prohibit pre-dispute arbitration agreements from being enforceable if they require arbitration in employment, consumer, antitrust, or civil rights disputes 44:35 Sally Greenberg: Renters, for example, tend to have lower incomes than those who own their homes. These consumers are also some of the most preyed upon by abusive junk fees. A 2022 survey conducted by Consumer and Housing Advocates found that 89% of landlords imposed some rental application fees[[ clare, 8/7/2023 2:09 PM couldn’t find this specific survey]], nearly as many renters paid excessive late fees and they also get hit with utility, administrative, convenience, insurance, and notice fees. 51:30 Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): I'm not hearing from Tennesseans about junk fees. They're just not talking about. They are talking about real economic harm. And I think for some it's been kind of perplexing that we would focus on this issue. I even had one Tennessean say, "Well, what exactly is a junk fee? And what are the economic harms that come to people for fees for discretionary services?" 53:20 Dr. Todd Zywicki: I can't see any reason why people who pay their credit cards on time should have to subsidize people who pay their credit cards late. The evidence is clear on this from the that if you reduce late fees, more people pay late. The makes clear that if you reduce late fees, everybody ends up paying higher interest rates and, and lower income and higher risk borrowers get less access to credit. So most of what we see in the market is efficient. It prevents cross consumer subsidies and a lot of these things that are labeled as junk fees are actually just efficient multi-part pricing. 1:00:30 Dr. Vicki Morwitz: When a larger firm, or really any firm, uses hidden fees or surcharges, it doesn't only hurt consumers, but it hurts well intentioned, honest competitors like many of our country's small businesses that you're talking about. So when a larger firm makes salient a lower base price and only puts in small print or only reveals at the end of the shopping process that there are additional mandatory fees, their product offerings may appear, at least at first, to be cheaper than those of say a small business, an honest competitor who uses all inclusive prices, whose prices at least at first then, will appear more expensive, even if they're actually cheaper in total when the hidden fees of the large firm are added in. Now, research shows this is going to lead consumers to be more likely to even first consider the products and services of the larger firm who uses hidden surcharges because their products seem cheaper. In other words, their supposed low prices draw consumers in. But then having first consider their products consumers will also be more likely to stick with that firm and ultimately purchase their products, even when they're more expensive in total with the fees. So these hidden fees, they don't only hurt consumers by leading them to make purchases that are against their own self interest, but it also hurts honest competitors who are using transparent pricing practices. 1:04:10 Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): One area of this high excessive fees is ticketing. We had the hearing earlier this year with the president of Live Nation/ Ticketmaster, and other witnesses and as you are aware, the facts are quite startling. It's being reviewed by the Justice Department, including 90% monopoly on ticketing for major NFL, NHL events, 80% for major arena events, and 70% monopoly when it comes to all ticketing. In addition to that, Ticketmaster now owns a number of venues and also locks in a number of other venues that they don't own with their services for in excess of seven years, which is a subject of a bill that Senator Blumenthal and I have introduced, because this locking in makes for even less competition. And then finally, Live Nation promotes the act. So it's like a three cornered monopoly. 1:12:30 Sally Greenberg: Yes, you may know that you have a baggage fee, but there are many people who are older, who have disabilities, who may have children with them; they cannot be carrying their bags onto the airplane. So they are forced to eat the cost of a $35 fee, something that used to be free before, and has jammed our airplanes full of luggage up top, creating hazards for flight attendants as well. 1:13:55 Sally Greenberg: We certainly support the Good Jobs for Airports Act. I think many consumers had no idea that a lot of these workers were not making minimum wage[[ clare, 8/7/2023 2:08 PM couldn’t find a source for this.]], were relying on tips. And many people who use the wheelchairs and the curbside baggage services did not know that people were living on tip wages and many people don't tip, as some of us who've been tipped workers know. Tipping is very up and down and certainly not a reliable source of income. So yes, we very much appreciate that legislation and it's long overdue. 1:21:20 Dr. Todd Zywicki: Junk fees is a meaningless term, but it's worse than meaningless. It's actually pernicious, which is that by sort of using this blanket conclusory label, it obscures the complexity of this, the difference between trip pricing, risk based pricing, multipart pricing, partition pricing, and that sort of thing, and it kind of sweeps into one bucket things that are legitimate, things that are aren't, things that might be partially legitimate. And now it's even got more confusing because if you look at the FTC rule, for example, on auto dealers, they take things like nitrogen filled tires, they charge more money for a claim that's a junk fee. The problem with that is not that it's a separate price for nitrogen filled tires. The problem, if there's a problem, is that nitrogen filled tires are garbage, right? There's nothing there. It doesn't matter whether it's disclosed separately or bundled in the price if it's a worthless product. And so when we talk about junk fees, we can end up confusing ourselves, lumping in things because we want to just apply this label to it, whereas I think it'd be much better to understand risk based pricing. What are things where they're pricing for something that you get no value from? What are the things where they're pricing things simply to extract wealth from consumers and the like? Executive Producer Recommended Sources Music by Editing Production Assistance
9/4/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 55 seconds
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CD279: The Censure of Adam Schiff

On June 21st, the House of Representatives censured Rep. Adam Schiff of California. The House has censured members just 24 times in our nation’s history, making Schiff the 25th. In this episode, we'll detail the actions outlined in the censure and let you decide for yourself: Is it a serious abuse of power? Is it a waste of time? Is it a deserved punishment? Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes The History of Censure U.S. House of Representatives Office of History, Art and Archives. July 22, 2023. Wikipedia. The Durham Report John Durham. May 12, 2023. U.S. Department of Justice. FISA Warrants Rebecca Beitsch. July 21, 2023. The Hill. Andrew Prokop. February 24, 2018. Vox. February 5, 2018. U.S. House of Representatives The Whistleblower Julian E. Barnes et al. October 2, 2019. The New York Times. Julian E. Barnes and Nicholas Fandos. September 17, 2019. The New York Times. Kyle Cheney. September 13, 2019. Politico. Republicans Who Blocked the First Censure Jared Gans. June 16, 2023. The Hill. Senate Campaign Fundraising Jamie Dupree. July 17, 2023. Regular Order. Impeachment Mania Don Wolfensberger. July 10, 2023. The Hill. Alex Gangitano and Brett Samuels. July 1, 2023. The Hill. Rebecca Beitsch and Emily Brooks. June 29, 2023. The Hill. The Resolution Audio Sources June 21, 2023 House Floor June 21, 2023 House Floor Clips 1:15 Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL): With access to sensitive information unavailable to most Members of Congress, and certainly not accessible to the American people, Representative SCHIFF abused his privileges, claiming to know the truth, while leaving Americans in the dark about this web of lies. These were lies so severe that they altered the course of the country forever: the lie that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 Presidential election revealed to be completely false by numerous investigations, including the Durham report; the lie that the Steele dossier—a folder of falsified and since completely debunked collusion accusations funded by the Democratic Party—had any shred of credibility, yet Representative SCHIFF read it into the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD as fact; the lies concocted and compiled in a false memo that was used to lie to the FISA court, to precipitate domestic spying on U.S. citizen, Carter Page, violating American civil liberties. 12:20 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Mr. Speaker, to my Republican colleagues who introduced this resolution, I thank you. You honor me with your enmity. You flatter me with this falsehood. You, who are the authors of a big lie about the last election, must condemn the truthtellers, and I stand proudly before you. Your words tell me that I have been effective in the defense of our democracy, and I am grateful. 13:15 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Donald Trump is under indictment for actions that jeopardize our national security, and MCCARTHY would spend the Nation’s time on petty political payback, thinking he can censure or fine Trump’s opposition into submission. But I will not yield, not one inch. The cost of the Speaker’s delinquency is high, but the cost to Congress of this frivolous and yet dangerous resolution may be even higher, as it represents another serious abuse of power. 14:50 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): This resolution attacks me for initiating an investigation into the Trump campaign’s solicitation and acceptance of Russian help in the 2016 election, even though the investigation was first led not by me but by a Republican chairman. 15:10 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): It would hold that when you give internal campaign polling data to a Russian intelligence operative while Russian intelligence is helping your campaign, as Trump’s campaign chairman did, that you must not call that collusion, though that is its proper name, as the country well knows. 15:30 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): It would fine me for the costs of the critically important Mueller investigation into Trump’s misconduct, even though the special counsel was appointed by Trump’s own Attorney General. 16:00 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): It would reprimand me over a flawed FISA application, as if I were its author or I were the Director of the FBI, and over flaws only discovered years later and by the inspector general, not Mr. Durham. In short, it would accuse me of omnipotence, the leader of some vast deep state conspiracy. Of course, it is nonsense. 16:50 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): My colleagues, if there is cause for censure in this House, and there is, it should be directed at those in this body who sought to overturn a free and fair Election. 19:05 Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL): Representative SCHIFF used his position as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to mislead the American people by falsely claiming that there was classified evidence of Russia colluding with President Trump, which was not true. 22:15 Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): SCHIFF repeatedly used the authority he was afforded in his position as chairman to lie to the American people to support his political agenda. Even after the Durham report discredited the Russia hoax, he continued to knowingly lie and peddle this false narrative. 24:45 Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY): ADAM SCHIFF has done nothing wrong. ADAM SCHIFF is a good man. ADAM SCHIFF has served this country with distinction. ADAM SCHIFF served this country well as a Federal prosecutor, fighting to keep communities safe. ADAM SCHIFF served this country well as the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, investigating people without fear or favor, including those at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue because he believes in the Constitution and his oath of office. ADAM SCHIFF served his country well as the lead impeachment manager during the first impeachment trial of the former President of the United States, prosecuting his corrupt abuse of power. Yes, ADAM SCHIFF served this country well in the aftermath of the violent insurrection. He pushed back against the big lie told by the puppet master in chief and participated as a prominent member of the January 6th Committee to defend our democracy. ADAM SCHIFF has done nothing wrong. He has worked hard to do right by the American people. The extreme MAGA Republicans have no vision, no agenda, and no plan to make life better for the American people, so we have this phony, fake, and fraudulent censure resolution. A DAM SCHIFF will not be silenced. We will not be silenced. House Democrats will not be silenced today. We will not be silenced tomorrow. We will not be silenced next week. We will not be silenced next month. We will not be silenced next year. We will not be silenced this decade. We will not be silenced this century. You will never ever silence us. We will always do what is right. We will always fight for the Constitution, fight to defend democracy, fight for freedom, expose extremism, and continue America’s long, necessary, and majestic march toward a more perfect Union. 29:10 Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC): Not only did he spread falsehoods that abused his power, he went after a man, Carter Page, who was completely innocent. Inspector General Horowitz found 17 major mistakes. 31:20 Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL): What really gnaws on the majority and what really bothers them is that Mr. SCHIFF was way better than anybody on their team at debate, at leadership, at messaging, and at legal knowledge. He kicked their ass. He was better, he was more effective, and that still bothers them. 35:40 Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA): Mr. Speaker, I opposed the original version of this resolution, not to defend Mr. SCHIFF’s lies, but to defend the process that exposed those lies. We must never punish speech in this House, only acts. The only way to separate truth from falsehoods or wisdom from folly is free and open debate. We must never impose excessive fines that would effectively replace the constitutional two-thirds vote for expulsion with a simple majority. This new version removes the fine and focuses instead on specific acts, most particularly the abuse of his position as Intelligence Committee chairman by implying he had access to classified information that did not exist and his placement into the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD of the Steele dossier that he knew or should have known was false. 42:35 Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT): The most important thing I can say is that I sat next to ADAM SCHIFF for years. He is a man of integrity and dignity. 49:45 Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): ADAM SCHIFF is tough. ADAM SCHIFF is smart. ADAM SCHIFF gets the job done. ADAM SCHIFF holds the powerful accountable. 56:35 Rep. André Carson (D-IN): Mr. Speaker, what I do know is that ADAM SCHIFF defended the U.S. Constitution. He led an impartial investigation which followed the facts and led to the first of two impeachments of a former President. 1:00:20 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Today, we are voting on a joke of a measure to censure ADAM SCHIFF, a true public servant and patriot. I urge a strong ‘‘no’’ against this resolution targeting a true American hero. 1:08:30 Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): The only advantage to all of this is that instead of reversing what we did on the IRA to save the planet or reversing what we did to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, we are wasting time. September 26, 2019 CNN Clips 9:05 Wolf Blitzer: As you know, Mr. Chairman, you're being severely criticized by a lot of Republicans for mocking the president during your opening remarks today at the committee. Was it a mistake to make light of the situation? Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Well, I don't think it's making light of a situation. And I certainly wouldn't want to suggest that there's anything comical about this. But I do think it's all too accurate, that this President, in his conversations with the President of Ukraine, was speaking like an organized crime boss. And the fact that these words are so suggestive that the President used of what we have seen of organized crime harkens back to me of what, for example, James Comey said when he was asked by the President if he could let this matter involving Flynn go, when Michael Cohen testified about how the President speaks in a certain code where you understand exactly what's required here. The point is that the President was using exactly that kind of language. And the President of Ukraine fully understood what he was talking about. Wolf Blitzer: Do you regret the, what you call the parody, the use of those phrases during the course of your opening statement? Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): No, I think everyone understood -- and my GOP colleagues may feign otherwise -- that when I said, suggested that it was as if the President said, "listen carefully, because I'm only going to tell you seven more times" that I was mocking the President's conduct. But make no mistake about this, what the President did is of the utmost gravity and the utmost seriousness, because it involves such a fundamental betrayal of his oath. September 26, 2019 House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Witnesses: Joseph Maguire, Acting Director of National Intelligence, Office of the Director of National Intelligence Clips 6:54 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): President Zelensky, eager to establish himself at home as the friend of the president of the most powerful nation on earth, had at least two objectives: get a meeting with the president and get more military help. And so what happened on that call? Zelensky begins by ingratiating himself, and he tries to enlist the support of the president. He expresses his interest in meeting with the president, and says his country wants to acquire more weapons from us to defend itself. 7:30 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): And what is the President’s response? Well, it reads like a classic organized crime shakedown. Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the President communicates. We’ve been very good to your country. Very good. No other country has done as much as we have. But you know what? I don’t see much reciprocity here. I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you, though. And I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent. Understand? Lots of it, on this and on that. I'm gonna put you in touch with people, not just any people, I'm going to put you in touch with Attorney General of the United States, my attorney general, Bill Barr. He's got the whole weight of the American law enforcement behind him. And I'm gonna put you in touch with Rudy, you're going to love Him, trust me. You know what I'm asking. And so I'm only going to say this a few more times, in a few more ways. And by the way, don't call me again, I'll call you when you've done what I asked. This is, in some in character, what the President was trying to communicate with the President of Ukraine. It would be funny if it wasn't such a graphic betrayal of the President's oath of office. But as it does represent a real betrayal, there's nothing the President says here that is in America's interest, after all. 1:14:40 Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH): While the chairman was speaking I actually had someone text me, "Is he just making this up?" And yes, yes he was. Because sometimes fiction is better than the actual words or the texts. But luckily the American public are smart and they have the transcript, they've read the conversation, they know when someone's just making it up. 1:19:45 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): In my summary, the President's call was meant to be at least part in parody. The fact that that's not clear is a separate problem in and of itself. Of course, the president never said, "If you don't understand me, I'm gonna say seven more times." My point is, that's the message that the Ukraine president was receiving, in not so many words. September 17, 2019 Morning Joe on MSNBC Clips Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to. But I'm sure the whistleblower has concerns that he has not been advised as the law requires by the Inspector General or the Director of National Intelligence, just as to how he is to communicate with Congress. And so the risk of the whistleblower is retaliation. Will the whistleblower be protected under the statute if the offices that are supposed to come to his assistance and provide the mechanism are unwilling to do so? But yes, we would love to talk directly with the whistleblower. March 28, 2019 CNN with Chris Cuomo Clips Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): One, there's ample evidence of collusion in plain sight and that is true. And second, that is not the same thing as whether Bob Muller would be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the crime of conspiracy. There's a difference between there being evidence of collusion and proof beyond reasonable doubt of a crime. March 24, 2019 This Week with George Stephanopoulos Clips George Stephenopolous: You have said though in the past there is significant evidence of collusion. How do you square that with Robert Muller's decision not to indict anyone. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): There is significant evidence of collusion, and we've set that out time and time again, from the secret meetings in Trump Tower to the conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador, to the providing of polling data to someone linked to Russian intelligence, and Stone's conversation with WikiLeaks and the GRU through -- George Stephenopolous: None of it prosecuted. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Well that's true. And as I pointed out on your show many times, there's a difference between compelling evidence of collusion and whether the Special Counsel concludes that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal charge of conspiracy. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): We need to be able to see any evidence that this President, or people around him, may be compromised by a foreign power. We've of course seen all kinds of disturbing indications that this President has a relationship with Putin that is very difficult to justify or explain. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): It's our responsibility to tell the American people, "These are the facts. This is what your president has done. This is what his key campaign and appointees have done. These are the issues that we need to take action on." This is potential compromise. There is evidence, for example, quite in the public realm that the President sought to make money from the Russians, sought the Kremlin's help to make money during the presidential campaign, while denying business ties with the Russians. February 17, 2019 CNN with Dana Bash Clips Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Look, you can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion, pretty compelling evidence. Now, there's a difference between seeing evidence of collusion and being able to prove a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt. August 5, 2018 Face the Nation Clips Margaret Brennan: Can you agree that there has been no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy that has been presented thus far between the Trump campaign and Russia? Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): No, I don't agree with that at all. I think there's plenty of evidence of collusion or conspiracy in plain sight. December 10, 2017 CNN Clips Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): But we do know this: the Russians offered help, the campaign accepted help. The Russians gave help and the President made full use of that help, and that is pretty damning whether it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy or not. November 1, 2017 MSNBC Clips Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): What is clear as this: the Kremlin repeatedly told the campaign it had dirt on Clinton and offered to help it and at least one top Trump official, the President's own son, accepted. Rachel Maddow: The Kremlin offered dirt to the Trump campaign. The President's campaign said yes to that offer. That's no longer an open question. All that stuff has now been proven and admitted to. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee today, using his time today, using his opening statement today to walk through -- ding ding ding, point by point -- what we've already learned in black and white, in written correspondence and public statements and in freaking court filings, about all the times the Trump campaign was offered helped by Russia to influence our election and all the times the Trump campaign said "Yes, please." March 23, 2017 The View Clips Jedediah Bila: Congressman, you made yesterday what some are deeming a provocative statement by saying that there is more than circumstantial evidence now that the Trump camp colluded with Russia. Senator John McCain was critical of that, others have been critical of that. Can you defend that statement? Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Yes. And I, you know, I don't view it as the same bombshell that apparently they did. Look, I've said that I thought there was circumstantial evidence of collusion or coordination, and that there was direct evidence of deception. And no one had an issue with that. And I don't think anyone really contested that, on the basis of the information we keep getting, I can say, in my opinion, it's now not purely circumstantial. We had the FBI Director testify in open session about this, acknowledge an FBI investigation. Obviously, this is now public. And I think it's fair to say that that FBI investigation is justified, that that wouldn't be done on the basis of not credible allegations. And so I think it's appropriate to talk in general terms about the evidence, but I don't think it's appropriate for us to go into specifics and say, "This is what we know from this piece of classified information," or "this what we know from this witness." But I do think, in this investigation where the public is hungry for information, it is important that we try to keep the public in the loop. That's why we're having public hearings. March 22, 2017 MSNBC Clips Chuck Todd: You have seen direct evidence of collusion? Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): I don't want to go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial. March 19, 2017 Meet the Press Clips Chuck Todd: Collusion is sort of what hasn't been proven here between whatever the Russians did and the Trump campaign. In fact, the former Acting Director of the CIA, who was Mike Morell, who was a supporter of Hillary Clinton, he essentially reminded people and took Director Clapper at his word on this show who said, there has been no evidence that has been found of collusion. Are we at the point of -- at what point do you start to wonder if there is a fire to all this smoke? Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Well, first of all, I was surprised to see Director Clapper say that because I don't think you can make that claim categorically as he did. I would characterize it this way at the outset of the investigation: there is circumstantial evidence of collusion. There is direct evidence, I think, of deception. Executive Producer Recommended Sources Music by (found on by mevio) Editing Production Assistance
8/13/20231 hour, 14 minutes, 59 seconds
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CD278: All Three UAP Hearings

Since May 2022, Congress has held three hearings looking into Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and the possibility of non-human intelligent life flying aircraft on Earth. In this episode, hear testimony from three Defense Department officials and three credible whistleblowers, whose testimony is often as contradictory as it is shocking. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Whistleblower Protections Clayton E. Wire. 2020. Ogborn Mihm LLP. Security Classifications Security Classification of Information, Volume 2. Principles for Classification of Information. Arvin S. Quist. Oak Ridge National Laboratory: 1993. UAP Background Brian Entin. June 6, 2023. NewsNation. Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal. June 5, 2023. The Debrief. May 16, 2021. 60 Minutes. Ralph Blumenthal. December 18, 2017. The New York Times. Helene Cooper et al. December 16, 2017. The New York Times. Independent Research and Development National Defense Industrial Association. SCIFs Derek Hawkins et al. April 26, 2023. The Washington Post. Kirkpatrick Response Letter D. Dean Johnson (@ddeanjohnson). Twitter. Audio Sources July 26, 2023 House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs Witnesses: , Former Commanding Officer, United States Navy Ryan Graves, Executive Director, Americans for Safe Aerospace David Grusch, Former National Reconnaissance Office Representative, Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, Department of Defense Clips timestamps reflect C-SPAN video 4:30 Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI): The National Defense Authorization Act of 2022 established the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office or AARO to conduct or to coordinate efforts across the Department of Defense and other federal agencies to detect, identify and investigate UAPs. However, AARO's budget remains classified, prohibiting meaningful oversight from Congress. 19:50 Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA): We know the Senate is taking up an amendment to their defense authorization bill which will create a commission with broad declassification authority and we should all agree that that is an important step. 27:40 Ryan Graves: Excessive classification practices keep crucial information hidden. Since 2021, all UAP videos are classified as secret or above. This level of secrecy not only impedes our understanding, but fuels speculation and mistrust. 27:55 Ryan Graves: In 2014, I was an F-18 Foxtrot pilot in the Navy fighter attack Squadron 11, the Red Rippers, and I was stationed at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach. After upgrades were made to our jet's radar systems, we began detecting unknown objects operating in our airspace. At first, we assumed they were radar errors. But soon we began to correlate the radar tracks with multiple onboard sensors, including infrared systems, and eventually through visual ID. During a training mission in Warning Area W-72, 10 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Two F/A-18F Super Hornets were split by a UAP. The object, described as a dark gray or a black cube inside of a clear sphere, came within 50 feet of the lead aircraft and was estimated to be five to 15 feet in diameter. The mission commander terminated the flight immediately and returned to base. Our squadron submitted a safety report, but there was no official acknowledgement of the incident and no further mechanism to report the sightings. Soon these encounters became so frequent that aircrew would discuss the risk of UAP as part of their regular pre-flight briefs. 29:00 Ryan Graves: Recognising the need for action and answers, I founded Americans for Safe Aerospace. The organization has since become a haven for UAP witnesses who were previously unspoken due to the absence of a safe intake process. More than 30 witnesses have come forward and almost 5000 Americans have joined us in the fight for transparency at 29:20 Ryan Graves: The majority of witnesses are commercial pilots at major airlines. Often, they are veterans with decades of flying experience. Pilots are reporting UAP at altitudes that appear above them at 40,000 feet potentially in low Earth orbit or in the gray zone below the Karman Line, making unexplainable maneuvers like right hand turns and retrograde orbits or J hooks. Sometimes these reports are reoccurring with numerous recent sightings north of y and in the North Atlantic. Other veterans are also coming forward to us regarding UAP encounters in our airspace and oceans. The most compelling involve observations of UAP by multiple witnesses and sensor systems. I believe these accounts are only scratching the surface and more will share their experiences once it is safe to do so. 31:30 David Grusch: I became a whistleblower through a PPD 19 urgent concern filing in May 2022 with the intelligence community Inspector General following concerning reports from multiple esteemed and credentialed current and former military and intelligence community individuals that the US government is operating with secrecy above congressional oversight with regards to UAPs. My testimony is based on information I've been given by individuals with a long standing track record of legitimacy and service to this country, many of whom also have shared compelling evidence in the form of photography, official documentation, and classified oral testimony to myself and my various colleagues. I have taken every step I can to corroborate this evidence over a period of four years while I was with the UAP Task Force and do my due diligence on the individual sharing it. Because of these steps. I believe strongly in the importance of bringing this information before you. 33:30 David Grusch: In 2019, the UAP Task Force director asked me to identify all Special Access Programs and Controlled Access Programs, also known as SAPS and CAPS. We needed to satisfy our congressionally mandated mission and we were direct report at the time to the [Deputy Secretary of Defense]. At the time, due to my extensive executive level intelligence support duties, I was cleared to literally all relevant compartments and in a position of extreme trust both in my military and civilian capacities. I was informed in the course of my official duties of a multi-decade UAP crash retrieval and reverse engineering program to which I was denied access to those additional read-ons when I requested it. I made the decision based on the data I collected to report this information to my superiors and multiple Inspectors General and, in effect, becoming a whistleblower. 35:20 Cmdr. David Fravor: We were attached to carrier 11, stationed onboard USS Nimitz and began a two month workup cycle off the coast of California. On this day, we were scheduled for a two v two air-to-air training with the USS Princeton as our control. When we launched off Nimitz, my wingman was joining out, we were told that the training was going to be suspended and we're going to proceed with real world tasking. As we proceeded to the West, the air controller was counting down the range to an object that we were going to and we were unaware of what we're going to see when we arrived. There, the controller told us that these objects had been observed for over two weeks coming down from over 80,000 feet, rapidly descending to 20,000 feet, hanging out for hours and then going straight back up. For those who don't realize, above 80,000 feet is space. We arrived at the location at approximately 20,000 feet and the controller called the merge plot, which means that our radar blip was now in the same resolution cell as a contact. As we looked around, we noticed that we saw some whitewater off our right side. It's important to note the weather on this day was as close to perfect as you could ask for off the coast of San Diego: clear skies, light winds, calm seas, no white caps from waves. So the whitewater stood out in a large blue ocean. All four of us, because we were in an F/A-18F F, so we had pilots and WSO in the backseat, looked down and saw a white tic tac object with a longitudinal axis pointing north-south and moving very abruptly over the water, like a ping pong ball. There were no rotors, no rotor wash, or any sign of visible control surfaces like wings. As we started clockwise towards the object, my WSO I decided to go down and take a closer look with the other aircraft staying in high cover to observe both us and the tic tac. We proceeded around the circle about 90 degrees from the start of our descent, and the object suddenly shifted its longitudinal axis, aligned it with my aircraft and began to climb. We continued down another 270 degrees, and we went nose low to where the tic tac would have been. Our altitude at this point is about 15,000 feet and the tic tac was about 12,000. As we pulled nose-on to the object within about a half mile of it, it rapidly accelerated in front of us and disappeared. Our wingmen, roughly 8000 feet above us, lost contact also. We immediately turned back to see where the whitewater was at and it was gone also. So as you started to turn back towards the east the controller came up and said "Sir you're not going to believe this but that thing is that your cat point roughly 60 miles away in less than a minute." You can calculate the speed. We returned to Nimitz. We were taking off our gear, we were talking to one of my crews that was getting ready to launch, we mentioned it to them and they went out and luckily got the video that you see, that 90 second video. What you don't see is the radar tape that was never released, and we don't know where it's at. 37:55 Cmdr. David Fravor: What is shocking to us is that the incident was never investigated. None of my crew ever questioned and tapes were never taken and after a couple days it turned into a great story with friends. It wasn't until 2009 until J. Stratton had contacted me to investigate. Unbeknownst to all, he was part of the AATIP program at the Pentagon led by Lue Elizondo. There was an unofficial official report that came out it's now in the internet. Years later, I was contacted by the other pilot Alex Dietrich and asked if I'd been contacted and I said "No, but I'm willing to talk." I was contacted by Mr. Elizondo, and we talked for a short period of time, he said we'd be in contact. A few weeks after that I was made aware that Lue had left the Pentagon in protest and joined forces with Tom DeLonge and Chris Mellon, Steve Justice, and others to form To the Stars Academy, an organization that pressed the issue with leading industry experts and US government officials. They worked with Leslie Kean, who is present today, Ralph Blumenthal, and Helene Cooper to publish the articles in the New York Times in 2017. It removed the stigma on the topic of UFOs, which is why we're here today. Those articles opened the door for the government and public that cannot be closed. It has led to an interest from our elected officials, who are not focused on Little Green Men, but figuring out where these craft are, where they are from, the technology they possess, how do they operate. It also led to the Whistleblower Protection Act in the NDAA. 39:45 Cmdr. David Fravor: In closing, I would like to say that the tic tac object we engaged in 2004 was far superior to anything that we had on time, have today, or are looking to develop in the next 10 years. If we, in fact, have programs that possess this technology and needs to have oversight from those people, that the citizens of this great country elected in office to represent what is best for the United States and best for the citizens. I thank you for your time. 40:20 Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI): Are your pilots, or pilots that you interact with as part of your organization, do you feel adequately trained and briefed on how to handle encounters with UAPs? Ryan Graves: No. Right now, military witnesses to UAP have limited options for reporting UAP. But more more concerning is that the commercial aviation sector has not adapted to the lessons that the military has implemented. The military and Department of Defense have stated that UAP represent a critical aviation safety risk. We have not seen that same language being used in the commercial markets, they are not acknowledging this. 41:05 Ryan Graves: Right now we need a system where pilots can report without fear of losing their jobs. There's a fear that the stigma associated with this topic is going to lead to professional repercussions either through management or perhaps through their yearly physical check. So having a secure system, reducing the stigma, and making this information available through the public is going to reduce the concerns that aircrew have. 41:30 Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI): Can you just give me a little idea the degree to which reports in the past are not made public right now? Ryan Graves: Well, I don't think there has been a proper reporting system to gather those reports and thus not report them. So to answer your question, I think there is a dearth of data due to the fact that the reporting has been limited up to this time. 41:45 Ryan Graves: There's certainly some national security concerns when we use our advanced sensors and our tactical jets to be able to identify these objects. However, there's no reason that the objects themselves would be classified. I would be curious to see how the security classification guideline actually spells out the different nuances of how this topic is classified from the perspective of UAP, not national security. 43:00 Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI): Mr. Fravor, the tic tac incident that you were engaged [in] occurred in 2004. What kind of reporting took place after that incident? Ryan Graves: None. We had a standard debrief where the back-seaters went down to our carrier intel center and briefed what had happened, and that was it. No one else talked to us. And I was in the top 20 in the battle group, no one came that the Captain was aware, the of Admiral was aware, nothing was done. Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI): Did your commanding officers provide any sort of justification? Ryan Graves: No, because I was the commanding officer of the quadron. So no. Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI): Was this incident the only UAP event that you encountered while you were a pilot? Ryan Graves: Yes, it was. 43:50 Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI): Do you believe UAPs pose a potential threat to our national security? Ryan Graves: Yes, and here's why: the technology that we faced was far superior than anything that we had, and you could put that anywhere. If you had one, you captured one, you reverse engineered it, you got it to work, you're talking something that can go into space, go someplace, dropped down in a matter of seconds, do whatever it wants and leave. And there's nothing we can do about it. Nothing. 44:20 Ryan Graves: I would also like to add from a commercial aviation and military aviation perspective, we deal with uncertainty in our operating space as a matter of our professional actions. Identifying friend from foe is very important to us. And so when we have identified targets and we continue to ignore those due to a stigma or fear of what it could be, that's an opening that our adversaries can take advantage of. 44:55 Ryan Graves: There needs to be a location where this information is centralized for processing and there needs to be a two-way communication loop so the operators on the front end have feedback and can get best practices on how to process information, what to do, and to ensure that their reporting is being listened to. Right now there is not a lot of back and forth. 46:25 Ryan Graves: When we were first experiencing these objects off the eastern seaboard in the 2014 to 2015 time period, anyone that had upgraded their radar systems were seeing these objects. So there was a large number of my colleagues that were detecting these objects off the eastern seaboard. They were further correlating that information with the other onboard sensors. And many of them also had their own eyesightings, as well, of these objects. Now, that was our personal, firsthand experience at the time. Since then, as I've engaged this topic, others have reached out to me to share their experiences both on the military side as well as the commercial aviation side. On the military aviation side, veterans that have recently got out have shared their stories and have expressed how the objects we are seeing in 2014 and 2015 continued all the way to 2019, 2020, and beyond. And so it became a generational issue for naval aviators on the Eastern Seaboard. This was something we were briefing to new students. This is something that was included in the notice to airmen to ensure that there was no accidents. And now with commercial aviators, they are reaching out because they're having somewhat similar experiences as our military brothers and sisters, but they do not have any reporting system that they can send this to. 47:55 Cmdr. David Fravor: It's actually, it's a travesty that we don't have a system to correlate this and actually investigate. You know, so if you took the east coast, there's coastal radars out there that monitor our air defense identification zone. Out to 200 miles, they can track these. So when you see them, they could actually go and pull that data and get maneuvering. And instead of just having the airplanes, there's other data sources out there. And I've talked to other government officials on this. You need a centrally located repository that these reports go to. So if you just stuck it in DOD, you wouldn't get anything out of the Intelligence Committee because they have a tendency not to talk. But if you had a central location where these reports are coming in, not just military, but also commercial aviation, because there's a lot of that going on, especially if you talk to anyone that flies from here to Hawaii, over the Pacific they see odd lights. So I think you need to develop something that allows you a central point to collect the data in order to investigate. 51:20 Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA): Mr. Grusch, finally, do you believe that our government is in possession of UAPs? David Grusch: Absolutely, based on interviewing over 40 witnesses over four years. Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA): And where? David Grusch: I know the exact locations and those locations were provided to the Inspector General, and some of which to the intelligence committees, I actually had the people with the firsthand knowledge provide a protected disclosure to the Inspector General 52:15 Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Mr. Graves. Again, I'd like to know, how do you know that these were not our aircraft? Ryan Graves: Some of the behaviors that we saw in a working area. We would see these objects being at 0.0 Mach, that's zero airspeed over certain pieces of the ground. So what that means, just like a river, if you throw a bobber in, it's gonna float downstream. These objects were staying completely stationary in category four hurricane winds. The same objects would then accelerate to supersonic speeds 1.1-1.2 Mach, and they would do so in very erratic and quick behaviors that we don't -- I don't -- have an explanation for. 55:50 Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Mr. Fravor, do you believe that you witnessed an additional object under the water in relation to your encounter? Cmdr. David Fravor: I will say we did not see an object. There was something there to cause the whitewater and when we turned around, it was gone. So there was something there that obviously moved. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Okay, it was not the same object, though, that you were looking at, correct? Cmdr. David Fravor: No, we actually joked that the tic tac was communicating with something when we came back, because the whitewater disappeared. 56:15 Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): We were, in another instance, told about the capabilities of jamming when there were some people chasing some of these objects. Did you experience any of that jamming, or interrupting your radar or weapon system? Cmdr. David Fravor: My crew that launched, after we landed, experienced significant jamming to the APG 73 radar, which was what we had on board, which is a mechanically scan, very high end system, prior to APG 79. And yes, it did pretty much everything you could do range, velocity, aspect, and then it hit the lock and the targeting pod is passive. That's when we're able to get the video on. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): I'm about to run out of time, but are you aware of any of our enemies that have that capability? Cmdr. David Fravor: No, no. 57:40 Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): You've identified these as taking place on the East Coast. Is it just on the East Coast where these encounters have been reported? Ryan Graves: No. Since the events initially occurred, I've learned that the objects have been detected, essentially where all Navy operations are being conducted across the world. And that's from the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office reporting. 58:50 Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): Are there common characteristics to the UAPs that have been sighted by different pilots? And can you describe what the convergence of descriptions is? Ryan Graves: Certainly. We were primarily seeing dark gray or black cubes inside of a clear sphere. Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): I'm sorry, dark gray or black cubes? Ryan Graves: Yes, inside of a clear sphere where the apex or tips of the cube were touching the inside of that sphere. And that was primarily what was being reported when we were able to gain a visual tally of these objects. That occurred over almost eight years, and as far as I know, is still occurring. 59:45 Ryan Graves: I think we need both transparency and the reporting. We have the reporting, but we need to make sure that information can be propagated to commercial aviation as well as the rest of the populace. 1:05:00 Ryan Graves: In the 2003 timeframe, a large group of Boeing contractors were operating near one of the launch facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base when they observed a very large, 100-yard-sided red square approach the base from the ocean and hover at low altitude over one of the launch facilities. This object remained for about 45 seconds or so before darting off over the mountains. There was a similar event within 24 hours later in the evening. This was a morning event, I believe, 8:45 in the morning. Later in the evening, post sunset, there were reports of other sightings on base including some aggressive behaviors. These objects were approaching some of the security guards at rapid speeds before darting off, and this is information that was received through one of the witnesses that have approached me at Americans for Safe Aerospace. 1:06:15 Ryan Graves: I have not seen what they've described. This object was estimated to be almost the size of a football field, and I have not seen anything personally that large. 1:07:05 Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL): With the FAA, to your understanding, pilots that are seeing this, commercial airline pilots, are they receiving cease and desist letters from corporations for coming forward with information in regards to safety for potential air airline passengers? Ryan Graves: I have been made privy to conversations with commercial aviators who have received cease and desist orders. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL): So the American public should know that corporations are putting their own reputations ahead of the safety of the American people. Would you agree with that statement? Ryan Graves: It appears so. 1:08:15 Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL): So what about G forces? Let's talk about G forces in those vehicles. Could a human survive those G forces with known technology today? Cmdr. David Fravor: No, not for the acceleration rates that we observed. 1:08:45 Cmdr. David Fravor: So we got within a half mile of the tic tac, which people say that's pretty far, but in airplanes that's actually relatively close. Now it was perfectly white, smooth, no windows, although when we did take the original FLIR video that is out there, when you put it on a big screen it actually had two little objects that came out of the bottom of it. But other than that, no windows, no seams, no nothing. 1:09:05 Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL): Mr. Grusch, as a result of your previous government work have you met with people with direct knowledge or have direct knowledge yourself of non-human origin craft? David Grusch: Yes, I personally interviewed those individuals. 1:09:40 Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL): Do you have knowledge or do you have reason to believe that there are programs in the advanced tech space that are unsanctioned? David Grusch: Yes, I do. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL): Okay. And when you say that they're above congressional oversight, what do you mean? David Grusch: Complicated question. So there's some, I would call it abuse here. So congressional oversight of conventional Special Special Access Programs, and I'll use Title X, so DOD, as an example. So 10 US Code section 119 discusses congressional oversight of SAPS, discusses the Deputy Secretary of Defense's ability to waive congressional reporting. However, the Gang of Eight is at least supposed to be notified if a waived or waived bigoted unacknowledged SAP is created. That's Public Law. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL): I don't want to cut you off, but how does a program like that get funded? David Grusch: I will give you generalities. I can get very specific in a closed session, but misappropriation of funds. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL): Does that mean that there is money in the budget that is set to go to a program but it doesn't and it goes to something else? David Grusch: Yes, have specific knowledge of that. Yep. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL): Do you think US corporations are overcharging for certain tech they're selling to the US government and that additional money is going to programs? David Grusch: Correct, through something called IRAD. 1:12:45 Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-VA): Mr. Grusch, in your sworn testimony you state that the United States government has retrieved supposedly extraterrestrial spacecraft and other UAP related artifacts. You go so far as to state that the US is in possession of "non human spacecraft" and that some of these artifacts have circulated with defense contractors. Several other former military and intelligence officials have come forward with similar allegations albeit in non-public setting. However, Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, the Director of AARO, previously testified before Congress that there has been and I quote, "no credible evidence" thus far of extraterrestrial act activity or "off world technology" brought to the attention of the office. To your knowledge, is that statement correct? David Grusch: It's not accurate. I believe Dr. Kirkpatrick mentioned he had about 30 individuals that have come to AARO thus far. A few of those individuals have also come to AARO that I also interviewed and I know what they provided Dr. Kirkpatrick and their team. I was able to evaluate -- Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-VA): Okay, I need to go on. David Grusch: Sure. 1:21:25 Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Has the US government become aware of actual evidence of extraterrestrial or otherwise unexplained forms of intelligence? And if so, when do you think this first occurred? David Grusch: I like to use the term non-human, I don't like to denote origin, it keeps the aperture open scientifically. Certainly, like I've just discussed publicly, previously, the 1930s. 1:21:45 Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Okay, can you give me the names and titles of the people with direct, first-hand knowledge and access to some of these crash retrieval programs and maybe which facilities, military bases that the recovered material would be in? And I know a lot of Congress talked about, we're gonna go to area 51. And, you know, there's nothing there anymore anyway, it's just you know, we move like a glacier. And as soon as we announce it, I'm sure the moving vans would pull up, but please. David Grusch: I can't discuss that publicly. But I did provide that information both to the Intel committees and the Inspector General. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): And we could get that in the SCIF, if we were allowed to get in a SCIF with you? Would that be probably what you would think? David Grusch: Sure, if you had the appropriate accesses, yeah. 1:22:30 Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): What Special Access Programs cover this information? And how is it possible that they have evaded oversight for so long? David Grusch: I do know the names, once again, I can't discuss that publicly. And how they've evaded oversight in a closed setting I could tell you this specific tradecraft used. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Alright. 1:22:50 Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): When did you think those programs began and who authorized them? David Grusch: I do know a lot of that information, but that's something I can't discuss publicly because of sensitivities Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Alright. 1:24:05 Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Title 10 and title 50 authorization, they seem to say they're inefficient. So who gets to decide this, in your opinion, in the past? David Grusch: It's a group of career senior executive officials. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Okay. Are they government officials? David Grusch: Both in and out of government and that's about as far I'll go there. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Well, that leads to my next question, which private corporations are directly involved in this program? How much taxpayer money has been invested in these programs? David Grusch: Yeah, I don't know the specific metrics towards the end of your question. The specific corporations I did provide to the committees in specific divisions, and I spent 11 and a half hours with both Intel committees. 1:25:30 Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Has there been an active US government disinformation campaign to deny the existence of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena? And if so, why? David Grusch: I can't go beyond what I've already exposed publicly about that. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Okay, I've been told to ask you what that is and how to get it in the record. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL): What have you stated publicly in your interviews, for the Congressional Record? David Grusch: If you reference my NewsNation interview, I talk about a multi-decade campaign to disenfranchise public interest basically. 1:28:00 Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY): When it comes to notification that you had mentioned about IRAD programs, we have seen defense contractors abuse their contracts before through this committee. I have seen it personally, and I have also seen the notification requirements to Congress abused. I am wondering, one of the loopholes that we see in the law is that there is, at least from my vantage point, depending on what we're seeing, is that there are no actual definitions or requirements for notification, are there? What methods of notification did you observe? When they say they notified Congress, how did they do that? Do you have insight into that? David Grusch: For certain IRAD activities....I can only think of ones conventional in nature. Sometimes they flow through certain out of say SAP programs that have cognisant authority over the Air Force or something. And those are congressionally reported compartments, but IRAD is literally internal to the contractor. So as long as it's money, either profits, private investment, etc, they can do whatever they want. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY): To put a finer point on it, when there is a requirement for any agency or company to notify Congress, do they contact the chairman of a committee, do they get them on the phone specifically, is this through an email to hypothetically a dead email box? David Grusch: A lot of it comes through what they call the PPR, Periodic Program Review process. If it's a SAP or Controlled Access Program equity, and then those go to the specific committees. 1:30:40 Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY): For the record, if you were me, where would you look? Titles, programs, departments, regions? If you could just name anything. And I put that as an open question to the three of you. David Grusch: I'd be happy to give you that in a closed environment. I can tell you specifically. 1:35:40 Cmdr. David Fravor: Things are over-classified. I know for a fact the video or the pictures that came out in the 2020 report that had the stuff off the east coast, they were taken with an iPhone, off the east coast. A buddy of mine was one of the senior people there and he said they originally classified a TSS CI, and my question to him was what's TSS CI about these? They're an iPhone, right, literally off the vacates, that's not TSS CI. So they're over classified, and as soon as they do that, they go into the vault, and then you all have to look for them. 1:37:20 Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO): Has any of the activity been aggressive, been hostile in your reports? David Grusch: I know of multiple colleagues of mine that got physically injured. Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO): By UAPs, or by people within the federal government? So there has been activity by alien or non-human technology and or beings that has caused harm to humans? David Grusch: I can't get into the specifics in an open environment, but at least the activity that I personally witnessed, and I have to be very careful here, because they tell you never to acknowledge tradecraft, right. So what I personally witnessed, myself and my wife, was very disturbing. 1:38:20 Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO): You've said that the US has intact spacecraft. You said that the government has alien bodies or alien species. Have you seen the spacecraft? David Grusch: I have to be careful to describe what I've seen firsthand and not in this environment. But I could answer that question behind closed doors. Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO): Have you seen any of the bodies? David Grusch: That's something I've not witnessed myself. 1:40:45 Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO): These aircraft, have they been identified that they are being produced by domestic military contractors? Is there any evidence that that's what's being recovered? David Grusch: Not to my knowledge. Plus the recoveries predate a lot of our advanced programs. 1:48:05 David Grusch: I’ve actually never seen anything personal, believe it or not. 1:51:00 Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC): If you believe we have crashed craft, stated earlier, do we have the bodies of the pilots who piloted this craft? David Grusch: As I've stated publicly already in my NewsNation interview, biologics came with some of these recoveries. 1:51:15 Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC): Were they human or non human biologics? David Grusch: Non human and that was the assessment of people with direct knowledge on the program I talked to that are currently still on the program. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC): And was this documentary evidence video, photos, eyewitness like how would that be determined? David Grusch: The specific documentation, I would have to talk to you in a SCIF about that. 1:53:10 Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): Commander Fravor, we've all seen the floating tic tac video that you engage with on November 14, 2004. Can you briefly talk about why you were off the coast of San Diego that day? Cmdr. David Fravor: Yeah, we were at a work up with all the battle groups. So we integrate the ships with the carrier, the airway with the carrier and we start working. So we were doing an air-to-air defense to hone not only our skills, but those of the USS Princeton, and when they had been tracking him for two weeks. The problem was, there were never manned aircraft airborne when they were tracking them. And this was the first day and unfortunately, we were the ones airborne and went and saw it. Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): Do you remember the weather that day? It was a cloudy or windy or anything out of the ordinary on the Pacific coast. Cmdr. David Fravor: If you're familiar with San Diego, it was a perfect day. Light winds, no whitecaps, clear skies, not a cloud. For flying, it was the best. Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): Now, is it true that you saw, in your words, a 40 foot flying tic tac shaped object? Cmdr. David Fravor: That's correct. Or for some people that can't know what a Tic Tac is, it's a giant flying propane tank. Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): Did this object come up on radar or interfere with your radar or the USS Princeton? Cmdr. David Fravor: The Princeton tracked it, the Nimitz tracked it, the E2 tracked it. We never saw it on our radars, our fire control radars never picked it up. The other airplane that took the video did get it on a radar as soon as it tried to lock in to jam the radar, spit the lock and he's rapidly switched over to the targeting pod which you can do in the F/A 18 Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): From what you saw that day and what you've seen on video. Did you see any source of propulsion from the flying object including on any potential thermal scans from your aircraft? Cmdr. David Fravor: No, there is none. There is no IR plume coming out. And Chad who took the video went through all the EO, which is black and white TV and the IR modes, and there's no visible signs of reflection. It's just sitting in space at 20,000 feet. Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): In your career. Have you ever seen a propulsion system that creates no thermal exhaust? Cmdr. David Fravor: No. Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): Can you describe how the aircraft maneuvered? Cmdr. David Fravor: Abruptly, very determinant. It knew exactly what it was doing. It was aware of our presence. And it had acceleration rates, I mean, it went from zero to matching our speed and no time at all. Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): Now if the fastest plane on Earth was trained to do these maneuvers that you saw, would it be capable of doing that? Cmdr. David Fravor: No, not even close Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): Just to confirm, this object had no wings, correct? Cmdr. David Fravor: No wings. Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): Now the aircraft that you were flying, was it armed? Cmdr. David Fravor: No, never felt threatened at all. Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY): If the aircraft was armed, do you believe that your aircraft or any aircraft in possession of the United States could have shot the tic tac down? Cmdr. David Fravor: I'd say no. Just on the performance, it would have just left in a split second. 1:58:10 Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN): Is there any indication that these UAPs could be essentially collecting reconnaissance information? Mr. Graves? Ryan Graves: Yes. Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN): Mr. Grusch? David Grusch: Fair assessment. Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN): Mr. Fravor? Cmdr. David Fravor: Very possible. 1:59:05 Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN): Mr. Graves and Fravor, in the event that your encounters had become hostile, would you have had the capability to defend yourself, your crew, your aircraft? Ryan Graves: Absolutely not. Cmdr. David Fravor: No. 2:00:55 Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): I might have asked this before, but I want to make sure. Do you have any personal knowledge of someone who's possibly been injured working on legacy UAP reverse engineering? David Grusch: Yes. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Okay. How were they injured? Was it something like a radioactive type situation or something we didn't understand? I've heard people talk about Havana syndrome type incidences. What what was your recollection of that? David Grusch: I can't get into specifics, but you could imagine assessing an unknown unknown, there's a lot of potentialities you can't fully prepare for. 2:02:10 Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Are you aware of any individuals that are participating in reverse engineering programs for non terrestrial craft? David Grusch: Personally, yes. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): Do you know any that would be willing to testify if there were protections for them? David Grusch: Certainly closed door, and assurances that breaking their NDA, they're not going to get administratively punished. 2:03:45 Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL): Referring to your news nation interview, you had referenced specific treaties between governments. Article III of the nuclear arms treaty with Russia identifies UAPs. It specifically mentions them. To your knowledge. Are there safety measures in place with foreign governments or other superpowers to avoid an escalatory situation in the event that a UAP malevolent event occurs? David Grusch: Yeah, you're referring to an actual public treaty in the UN register. It's funny you mentioned that, the agreement on measures to reduce the risk of outbreak of a nuclear war signed in 1971, unclassified treaty publicly available. And if you cite the George Washington University national security archives, you will find the declassified, in 2013, specific provisions in this specific Red Line Flass message traffic with the specific codes pursuant to Article Three and also situation two, which is in the the previously classified NSA archive. What I would recommend and I tried to get access, but I got a wall of silence at the White House, was the specific incidents when those message traffic was used, I think some scholarship on that would open the door to a further investigation using those publicly available information. 2:05:20 David Grusch: I have concerns, based on the interviews I conducted under my official duties, of potential violations of the Federal Acquisition Regulations, the FAR. 2:06:10 Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): What was your general attitude or perspective on the UFO discussion before that happened? Cmdr. David Fravor: I never felt that we were alone with all the planets out there. But I wasn't a UFO person. I wasn't, I wasn't watching History Channel and MUFON and all that. Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): And have you had any experiences or encounters since that happened? Cmdr. David Fravor: No. Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): And so, have you formed any general conclusions about what you think you experienced then? Cmdr. David Fravor: Yes, I think what we experienced was, like I said, well beyond the material science and the capabilities that we had at the time, that we have currently, or that we're going to have in the next 10 to 20 years. 2:06:55 Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): You've been able to answer in great detail on certain questions, and then other things you say you're not able to respond to. Can you just explain where you're drawing the line? What's the basis for that? David Grusch: Yeah, based on my DOPSR security review and what they've determined that is unclassified. Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): I see, so you're answering any questions that just call upon your knowledge of unclassified questions, but anything that relates to classified matters you're not commenting on in this context? David Grusch: In an open session, but happy to participate in a closed session at the right level. 2:08:15 Ryan Graves: Certainly I think the most vivid sighting of that would have been near mid air that we had at the entrance to our working area. One of these objects was completely stationary at the exact entrance to our working areas, not only geographically but also at altitude. So it was right where all the jets are going, essentially, on the Eastern Seaboard. The two aircraft flew within about 50 feet of the object and that was a very close visual sighting. Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): And you were in one of the aircraft. Ryan Graves: I was not. I was there when the pilot landed. He canceled the mission after. I was there. He was in the ready room with all his gear on with his mouth open. And I asked him what the problem was and he said he almost hit one of those darn things. Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): He said he was 50 feet away from it? Ryan Graves: Yes, sir. Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): And his description of the object was consistent with the description you gave us before? Ryan Graves: A dark gray or black cube inside of a clear sphere. Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD): Inside of a clear sphere. With no self evident propulsion system. Ryan Graves:: No wings, no IR energy coming off of the vehicle, nothing tethering it to the ground. And that was primarily what we're experiencing out there. April 19, 2023 Senate Committee on Armed Services Witnesses: , Director, All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office Clips 2:00:50 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: The AARO team of more than three dozen experts is organized around four functional areas: operations, scientific research, integrated analysis, and strategic communications. 2:01:25 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: Consistent with legislative direction, AARO is also carefully reviewing and researching the US government's UAP-related historical record. 2:02:05 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: AARO is the culmination of decades of DOD, intelligence community, and congressionally directed efforts to successfully resolve UAP encountered first and foremost by US military personnel, specifically navy and air force pilots. 2:03:15 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: However, it would be naive to believe that the resolution of all UAP can be solely accomplished by the DOD and IC alone. We will need to prioritize collection and leverage authorities for monitoring all domains within the continental United States. AARO's ultimate success will require partnerships with the inner agency, industry partners, academia and the scientific community, as well as the public. 2:04:15 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: I want to underscore today that only a very small percentage of UAP reports display signatures that could reasonably be described as anomalous. The majority of unidentified objects reported to AARO demonstrate mundane characteristics of balloons, unmanned aerial systems, clutter, natural phenomena, or other readily explainable sources. While a large number of cases in our holdings remain technically unresolved, this is primarily due to a lack of data associated with those cases. Without sufficient data, we are unable to reach defendable conclusions that meet the high scientific standards we set for resolution, and I will not close a case that I cannot defend the conclusions of. 2:06:00 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: AARO is a member of the department's support to the administration's Tiger Team effort to deal with stratospheric objects such as the PRC high altitude balloon. When previously unknown objects are successfully identified, it is AARO's role to quickly and efficiently hand off such readily explainable objects to the intelligence, law enforcement, or operational safety communities for further analysis and appropriate action. In other words, AARO’s mission is to turn UAP into SEP, Somebody Else's Problem. 2:07:30 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: I should also state clearly for the record that in our research, AARO has found no credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity, offworld technology, or objects that defy the known laws of physics. In the event sufficient scientific data were ever obtained that a UAP encountered can only be explained by extraterrestrial origin, we are committed to working with our interagency partners at NASA to appropriately inform [the] U.S. government's leadership of its findings. For those few cases that have leaked to the public previously and subsequently commented on by the US government, I encourage those who hold alternative theories or views to submit your research to credible peer reviewed scientific journals. AARO is working very hard to do the same. That is how science works, not by blog or social media. 2:13:20 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: How are we going to get more data? We are working with the joint staff to issue guidance to all the services and commands that will then establish what are the reporting requirements, the timeliness, and all of the data that is required to be delivered to us and retained from all of the associated sensors. That historically hasn't been the case and it's been happenstance that data has been collected. 2:17:20 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: As of this week we are tracking over a total of 650 cases. 2:17:45 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: Let me walk everyone through what our analytic process looks like. We have essentially a five step process. We get our cases in with all the data, we create a case for that event. My team does a preliminary scrub of all of those cases as they come in, just to sort out, do we have any information that says this is in one of those likely categories? It's likely a balloon, it's likely a bird, it's likely some other object, or we don't know. Then we prioritize those based off of where they are. Are they attached to a national security area? Does it show some anomalous phenomenology that is of interest? If it's just a spherical thing that's floating around with the wind and it has no payload on it, that's going to be less important than something that has a payload on it, which will be less important than something that's maneuvering. So there's sort of a hierarchy of just binning the priorities, because we can't do all of them at once. Once we do that and we prioritize them, we take that package of data in that case and I have set up two teams, think of this as a Red Team Blue Team, or competitive analysis. I have an intelligence community team made up of intelligence analysts and I have an S&T team made up of scientists and engineers, and the people that actually build a lot of these sensors are physicists, because you know, if you're a physicist, you can do anything. But they're not associated with the intel community, they're not intel officers. So they they look at this through the lens of the sensor, of what the data says. We give that package to both teams. The intelligence community is going to look at it through the lens of the intelligence record, and what they assess, and their intel tradecraft, which they have very specific rules and regulations on how they do that. The scientific community, the technical community is going to look at it through the lens of "What is the data telling me? What is the sensor doing? What would I expect a sensor response to be?" and back that out. Those two groups give us their answers. We then adjudicate. If they agree, then I am more likely to close that case, if they agree on what it is. If they disagree, we will have an adjudication. We'll bring them together, we'll take a look at the differences, we'll adjudicate. Why do you say one thing and you say another? We will then come to a case recommendation that will get written up by my team. That then goes to a Senior Technical Advisory Group, which is outside of all of those people, made up of senior technical folks and intel analysts and operators retired out of the community. And they essentially peer review what that case recommendation is. They write their recommendations, that comes back to me, I review it, we make a determination, and I'll sign off one way or the other, and then that will go out as the case determination. Once we have an approved web portal to hang the unclassified stuff, we will downgrade and declassify things and put it out there. In the meantime, we're putting a lot of these on our classified web portal where we can then collaborate with the rest of the community so they can see what's going on. In a nutshell, that is the process. 2:27:10 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: There are emerging capabilities out there that in many instances, Russia and China, China in particular, are on par or ahead of us in some areas. So previously, I used to be the Defense Department's intelligence officer for science and technical intelligence. That was our job to look for, what does all that look like? And then my last several years of course, in Space Command, doing space. The adversary is not waiting. They are advancing and they're advancing quickly. If I were to put on some of my old hats, I would tell you, they are less risk averse at technical advancement than we are. They are just willing to try things and see if it works. Are there capabilities that could be employed against us in both an ISR and a weapons fashion? Absolutely. Do I have evidence that they're doing it in these cases? No, but I have concerning indicators. 2:43:45 Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick: So the vision is, at one point, at some point in the future, you should not need an AARO. If I'm successful in what I'm doing, we should be able to normalize everything that we're doing into existing processes, functions, agencies and organizations, and make that part of their mission and their role. Right now the niche that we form is really going after the unknowns. I think you articulated it early on, this is a hunt mission for what might somebody be doing in our backyard that we don't know about? That is what we are doing, but at some point, we should be able to normalize that. That's why it's so important the work we're doing with joint staff to normalize that into DoD policy and guidance. We are bringing in all of our interagency partners. So NASA is providing a liaison for us, I have FBI liaison, I have OSI liaison, I have service liaisons, half of my staff come from the [Intelligence Community], half of my staff come from other scientific and technical backgrounds, I have DOE. So what we're trying to do is ensure, again, as I make UAP into SEP they get handed off to the people that that is their mission to go do, so that we aren't duplicating that. I'm not going to go chase the Chinese high altitude balloon, for example. That's not my job. It's not an unknown, and it's not anomalous anymore. Now it goes over to them. May 17, 2022 House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Witnesses: , Deputy Director, Office of Naval Intelligence , Under Secretary of Defense Intelligence and Security, Department of Defense Clips 10:00 Ronald Moultrie: The NDAA for fiscal year 2022 has helped us to establish a dedicated office to oversee processes and procedures for the timely collection, processing, analysis, and reporting of UAP related data. 10:15 Ronald Moultrie: What are UAP? Put simply, UAP are airborne objects that, when encountered, cannot be immediately identified. 10:25 Ronald Moultrie: It is the department's contention that by combining appropriately structured, collected data with rigorous scientific analysis, any object that we encounter can likely be isolated, characterized, identified and if necessary, mitigated. 10:40 Ronald Moultrie: We know that our service members have encountered unidentified aerial phenomenon. And because UAPs pose potential flight safety and general security risks, we are committed to a focused effort to determine their origins. Our effort will include the thorough examination of adversarial platforms and potential breakthrough technologies, US government or commercial platforms, Allied or partner systems, and other natural phenomena. 11:15 Ronald Moultrie: We also understand that there has been a cultural stigma surrounding UAP. Our goal is to eliminate the stigma by fully incorporating our operators and mission personnel into a standardized data gathering process. We believe that making UAP reporting a mission imperative will be instrumental to the effort's success. 11:45 Ronald Moultrie: To optimize the department's UAP work, we are establishing an office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. That office's function is clear: to facilitate the identification of previously unknown or unidentified airborne objects in a methodical, logical, and standardized manner. 13:50 Scott Bray: Since the early 2000s, we have seen an increasing number of unauthorized and or unidentified aircraft or objects in military controlled training areas and training ranges and other designated airspace. Reports of sightings are frequent and continuing. We attribute this increase in reporting to a number of factors, including our work to destigmatize reporting, an increase in the number of new systems such as quad copters and unmanned aerial systems that are in our airspace, identification of what we can classify as clutter (mylar balloons and other types of of air trash), and improvements in the capabilities of our various sensors to detect things in our airspace. 14:50 Scott Bray: The basic issues, then and now, are twofold. First, incursions in our training ranges by unidentified objects represent serious hazards to safety of flight. In every aspect of naval aviation, safety of our air crews is paramount. Second, intrusions by unknown aircraft or objects pose potential threats to the security of our operations. Our aviators train as they would fight, so any intrusions that may compromise the security of our operations by revealing our capabilities, our tactics, techniques or procedures are of great concern to the Navy and Department of Defense. 16:40 Scott Bray: The direct result of those efforts has been increased reporting with increased opportunities to focus a number of sensors on any objects. The message is now clear: if you see something, you need to report it. And the message has been received. 18:55 Scott Bray: As detailed in the ODNI report, if and when individual UAP incidents are resolved, they likely fall into one of five potential explanatory categories: airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, US government or US industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems, or another bin that allows for a holding bin of difficult cases, and for the possibility of surprise and potential scientific discovery. 22:20 Scott Bray: If UAP do indeed represent a potential threat to our security then the capabilities, systems, processes and sources we use to observe, record, study, or analyze these phenomena need to be classified at appropriate levels. We do not want, we do not want potential adversaries to know exactly what we're able to see or understand or how we come to the conclusions we make. Therefore, public disclosures must be carefully considered on a case by case basis. 23:35 Rep André Carson (D-IN): This is the third version of this task force and, to be frank, one of Congress's concerns is that the executive branch, in administrations of both parties, has been sweeping concerns about UAPs under the rug by focusing on events that can be explained and avoiding events that cannot be explained. What can you say to give the American people confidence that you aren't just focusing our attention on low hanging fruit with easy explanations? Ronald Moultrie: Congressman, I'll start and then Mr. Bray, please feel free to weigh in. So the way that we're approaching it is with a more thorough, standardized methodology than what we have in the past. First and foremost, the Secretary Defense is chartering this effort, this is not someone lower in the Department of Defense, and he is assigned that task to the Office of Secretary of Defense's Under Secretary for Intelligence Security, that's me, because I'm responsible for looking at intelligence matters, I'm responsible for security matters, and this is potentially both. So we're concerning ourselves with the safety of our personnel, the safety of our installations and bases. There's no other higher power than what we have in actually getting after this. And as you have stated, we have been assigned that task to actually stand up an office, the AOIMSG, which I believe the name server will likely change, but we have moved forward in terms of moving to establish that office. We have, as of this week, picked the director for that effort, a very established and accomplished individual. 42:00 Scott Bray: I would say that we're not aware of any adversary that can move an object without discernible means of propulsion. The question then becomes, in many of these cases where we don't have a discernible means of propulsion in the data that we have, in some cases, there are likely sensor artifacts that that may be hiding some of that, there's certainly some degree of something that looks like signature management that we have seen from some of these UAP. But I would caution, I would simply say that there are a number of other events in which we do not have an explanation. There are a small handful in which there are flight characteristics or signature management that we can't explain with the data that we have. 43:40 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): With respect to the second two videos showing the small triangles, the hypothesis is that those are commercial drones that because of the use of night vision goggles appear like triangles, is that the operating assessment? Scott Bray: Some type of drone, some type of unmanned aerial system, and it is simply that that light source resolves itself through the night vision goggles onto the SLR camera as a triangle. 47:55 Scott Bray: Allies have seen these, China has established its own version of the UAP task force. So clearly a number of countries have observations of things in the airspace that they can identify. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH): And do we share data with some, with all? Are they sharing with us? Scott Bray: We share data with some and some share data with us. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH): But not necessarily all that have publicly reported something? Scott Bray: That's correct. 52:25 Scott Bray: When I say we can't explain, I mean, exactly as you describe there, that there's a lot of information, like the video that we showed, in which there's simply too little data to create a reasonable explanation. There are a small handful of cases in which we have more data that our analysis simply hasn't been able to fully pull together a picture of what happened. Those are the cases where we talked about where we see some indications of flight characteristics or signature management that are not what we had expected. When it comes to material that we have, we have no material. We have detected no emanations within the UAP task force that would suggest it's anything non-terrestrial in origin. 59:35 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): There have been no collisions between any US assets and one of these UAPs, correct? Scott Bray: We have not had a collision, we've had at least 11 near misses though. 59:55 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): And there's been no attempt, there's no communications, or any kind of communication signals that emanate from those objects that we've detected, correct? Scott Bray: That's correct. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): And have we attempted to communicate with those objects? Scott Bray: No. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): So we don't we don't even put out an alert saying, you know, "U.S., identify yourself, you are within our flight path," or something like that? Scott Bray: We haven't said anything like that. We've not put anything out like that, generally speaking. For example, in the video that we showed earlier, it appears to be something that is unmanned, appears to be something that may or may not be in controlled flight, and so we've not attempted any communication with that. 1:00:55 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): And I assume we've never discharged any armaments against a UAP, correct? Scott Bray: That's correct. 1:01:05 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): How about wreckage? Have we come across any wreckage of any kind of object that has now been examined by you? Scott Bray: The UAP task force doesn't have any wreckage that isn't explainable, that isn't consistent with being of terrestrial origin. 1:01:20 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Do we have any sensors underwater to detect on submerged UAPs, anything that is in the ocean or in the seas? Ronald Moultrie: So I think that would be more properly addressed in a closed session. 1:05:30 Ronald Moultrie: So one of the concerns that we have is that there are a lot of individuals and groups that are putting information out there that that could be considered to be somewhat self serving. We're trying to do what's in the best interests of, one, the Department of Defense, and then two, what's in the best interest of the public, to ensure that we can put factually based information back into the mainstream and back into the bloodstream of the reporting media that we have, so people understand what's there. It's important because we are attempting, as this hearing has drawn out to understand, one, what may just be natural phenomenon, two, what may be sensor phenomenology or things that were happening with sensors, three, what may be legitimate counterintelligence threats to places that we have or bases or installations, or security threats to our platforms. And anything that diverts us off of what we have with the resources that have been allocated to us, sends us off in the spurious chases and hunts that are just not helpful. They also contribute to the undermining of the confidence that the Congress and the American people have that we are trying to get to the root cause of what's happening here, report on that, and then feed that back into our national security apparatus so we are able to protect the American people and our allies. So it is harmful, it is hurtful, but hopefully, if we get more information out there, we'll start to lessen the impact of some of those spurious reports. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL): So just taking that a step further, that misinformation, false narratives, manufactured, what are the consequences? Are there legal consequences? Are there examples that you can give us where people have been held accountable by this misinformation or disinformation? Ronald Moultrie: I can't give you any examples where somebody has been legally held liable for putting something out there. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL): Well, what's the deterrent from people engaging in this activity? Ronald Moultrie: I don't know. I don't have that answer. That's something that [we] welcome the dialogue with Congress to talk about that with the members who helped legislate those laws to say what should be the legal ramifications that we could use to potentially hold individuals accountable, whether it be citizens or information that might be injected into our media by other other forces or other countries, if you will. 1:11:40 Ronald Moultrie: I think right now what's really important for us to protect is how we know certain things. So there are a lot of things that we know, whether it'd be about the thinking of other leaders around the world, the weapon systems that are being developed, or how we detect things that may be threats to us. Many of those things are the result of some of our most sensitive sources and methods. And we'll use those things not just for this effort, but those same sources and methods are used to help protect us from adversaries and from others who might mean to do us harm. There aren't separate UAP sensors, there's not a separate UAP processing computer, there's not a separate UAP dissemination chain or whatever. So it's the same processes, it's the same system that we have that helps us do all that. We need to protect that. 1:15:40 Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR): Do we have an example, can you cite a specific example of an object that can't be explained as having been human made or natural? Scott Bray: I mean, the example that I would say that is still unresolved, that I think everyone understands quite well, is the 2004 incident from Nimitz. We have data on that, and that simply remains unresolved. Executive Producer Recommended Sources Music by Editing Production Assistance
7/30/20231 hour, 32 minutes, 19 seconds
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The Chief Operating Officer and a board member of the PGA golf tour recently testified to the Senate as part of its investigation into the possible merger between the PGA and LIV golf tours. In this episode, hear a summary of their testimony which was about monopoly powers, labor rights, Saudi Arabian oil money, loyalty to country…. So much more than golf. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via Support Congressional Dish via (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes PGA Tour 2022. Official 2022-23 PGA Tour Media Guide. Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund. February 24, 2021. BBC. LIV Golf Fergus Bisset. February 1, 2023. Golf Monthly. Doric Sam. August 1, 2022. Bleacher Report. LIV vs. PGA Tim Schmitt. February 17, 2023. Golfweek. PA Media. August 3, 2022. The Guardian. Mark Schlabach. July 11, 2022. ESPN. Yemen Ryan Grim. May 18, 2023. The Intercept. Bruce Riedel. January 27, 2023. Brookings. Shuaib Almosawa. March 16, 2022. The Intercept. Audio Sources July 11, 2023 Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Witnesses: Ron Price, Chief Operating Officer, PGA TOUR Jimmy Dunne, Board Member, PGA TOUR 2002 HBO Music by (found on by mevio) Editing Production Assistance
7/15/20231 hour, 25 minutes, 14 seconds
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CD276: The Demise of Dollar Dominance

The U.S. dollar’s status as the global reserve currency is diminishing, which reduces the power that U.S. leaders have over the global economic system. In this episode, hear highlights from recent Congressional testimony during which financial elites examine the current status of the global financial system and what Congress is being told to do to address perceived threats to it (and to their own power). Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the show notes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD269: NDAA 2023/Plan Ecuador CD230: Pacific Deterrence Initiative CD195: Yemen CD187: Combating China CD102: The World Trade Organization: COOL? International Monetary Fund “IMF Financial Activities List 2023.” Updated June 21, 2023. International Monetary Fund. “Weekly Report on Key Financial Statistics.” June 9, 2023. International Monetary Fund. “IMF Lending.” Updated December 2022. International Monetary Fund. Argentina “Argentina: Letter of Intent, Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, and Technical Memorandum of Understanding” October 17, 2018. International Monetary Fund. “Argentina Policy Memorandum.” January 11, 1999. International Monetary Fund. Ecuador “Ecuador—Supplementary Letter of Intent.” March 13, 2003. International Monetary Fund. Smaller Banks within the World Trade System International Finance Corporation China “Members and Observers.” World Trade Organization. “ China and the WTO.” World Trade Organization. “From ‘China Shock’ to deglobalisation shock: China’s WTO accession and US economic engagement 20 years on.” Stephen Kirchner. January 24, 2022. United States Studies Centre. “The China Reckoning: How Beijing Defied American Expectations.” Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner. February 13, 2018. Foreign Affairs. The World Bank “Who can borrow from the World Bank?” December 10, 2020. Bretton Woods Observer. “Domination of the United States on the World Bank.” Eric Toussaint. April 2, 2020. Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt. “Why Is the World Bank Still Lending to China?” Yukon Huang. January 15, 2020. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Congressional Stock Trade Tracking Quiver Quantitative Unusual Whales US Abuse of Sanctions “The Other Counteroffensive to Save Ukraine.” Lawrence Summers et. al. June 15, 2023. Foreign Affairs. Allies Pivoting “Europe must resist pressure to become ‘America’s followers,’ says Macron.” Jamil Anderlini and Clea Caulcutt. April 9, 2023. Politico. “US State Dept backs latest raft of Saudi, UAE, Jordan arms sales.” February 2, 2022. Al Jazeera. Witnesses Mark Rosen on Linkedin Daniel F. Runde on Linkedin “Membership Roster.” Accessed June 24, 2023. Council on Foreign Relations. Tyler Goodspeed on Linkedin Carla Norrlof - “Board of Directors.” Atlantic Council. Daniel McDowell bio Marshall Billingslea on Linkedin Audio Sources Dollar Dominance: Preserving the U.S. Dollar’s Status as the Global Reserve Currency June 7, 2023 House Financial Services Committee Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Dr. Tyler Goodspeed, Kleinheinz Fellow, Hoover Institution at Stanford University Dr. Michael Faulkender, Dean’s Professor of Finance, Robert H. Smith School of Business at University of Maryland Dr. Daniel McDowell, Associate Professor, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University Marshall Billingslea, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute Dr. Carla Norrlöf, Senior Fellow, The Atlantic Council and Professor, University of Toronto Clips 34:05 Dr. Tyler Goodspeed: In 2022, as the Ranking Member highlighted, 88% of all foreign exchange transactions by value involved the United States Dollar, a figure that has been roughly constant since 1989, which is testament to the substantial path dependence in international currency usage due to large positive network externalities. As the Ranking Member also highlighted, 59% of all official foreign exchange reserves were held in US dollars, which is down from a figure of 71.5% in 2001. By comparison 31% of all foreign exchange transactions by value involve the Euro, which is the second most commonly transacted currency, which accounted for 20% of official foreign exchange reserves. 34:50 Dr. Tyler Goodspeed: The fact that 90% of all foreign exchange transactions continue to involve the United States dollar, and that global central banks continue to hold almost 60% of their foreign exchange reserves in US dollars confers net economic benefits on the United States economy. First, foreign demand for reserves of US dollars raises demand for dollar denominated securities, in particular United States Treasury's. This effectively lowers the cost of borrowing for US households, US companies, and federal, state and local governments. It also means that on average, the United States earns more on its investments in foreign assets than we have to pay on foreign investments in the United States, which allows the United States to import more goods and services than we export. Second, foreign demand for large reserves of US dollars and dollar denominated assets raises the value of the dollar and a stronger dollar benefits us consumers and businesses that are net importers of goods and services from abroad. Third, large reserve holdings of US currency abroad in effect constitutes an interest free loan to the United States worth about $10 to $20 billion per year. Fourth, the denomination of the majority of international transactions in US dollars likely modestly lowers the exchange rate risks faced by US companies. Fifth, the given the volume of foreign US dollar holdings and dollar denominated debt, monetary policy actions by foreign central banks generally have a smaller impact on financial conditions in the United States than actions by the United States Central Bank have on financial conditions in other countries. 36:40 Dr. Tyler Goodspeed: However, the benefits of the US dollar's global reserve status are not without costs. The lower interest rates in the United States benefit US borrowers, especially the federal government. They also lower returns to US savers. In addition, though a stronger dollar benefits US consumers and businesses that net import goods and services from abroad, it does also disadvantage US firms that export goods and services abroad as well as firms that compete against imported goods and services. Furthermore, the perception of the US dollar as a safe haven asset means that demand for the dollar tends to increase in response to adverse macroeconomic events that are global in nature. As a result, the competitiveness of US exporters and US firms that compete against imported goods and services are likely to face an increased competitive disadvantage at times of elevated global macroeconomic stress. 37:35 Dr. Tyler Goodspeed: However, despite these costs, studies generally find that the economic benefits of the dollar's prominent global status outweigh the costs, providing a modest net benefit to the United States economy. This does not include the substantial benefit to which the chairman referred of the United States dollar's centrality in global transactions, allowing the United States to utilize financial sanction tools when appropriate in support of national security objectives. 44:50 Dr. Daniel McDowell: With little more than the stroke of the President's pen or through an Act of Congress, the US government can use financial sanctions to impose enormous economic costs on targeted foreign actors, be they individuals, firms, or state institutions, by freezing their dollar assets or cutting them off from access to the banks through which those dollars flow. The consequences for individual targets, known as specially designated nationals or SDNs, are severe, significantly impairing targets capacity to participate in international trade, investment, debt repayment, and depriving them of access to their wealth. Over the last two decades, the United States has used the tool of financial sanctions with increasing frequency. For example, in the year 2000, just four foreign governments were directly targeted under a US Treasury Country Program overseen by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Today that number is greater than 20, and if we include penalties from secondary sanctions the list gets even longer. The more that the United States has reached for financial sanctions, the more it has made adversaries and foreign capitals aware of the strategic vulnerability that stems from dependence on the dollar. Some governments have responded by implementing anti-dollar policies measures that are designed to reduce an economy's reliance on the US currency for investment in cross-border transactions. But these measures sometimes fail to achieve their goals. Others have produced modest levels of de-dollarization. Notable examples here include Russian steps to cut its dollar reserves and reduce the use of the dollar and trade settlement in the years leading up to its full scale invasion of Ukraine, or China's ongoing efforts to build its own international payments network based on the Yuan, efforts that have taken on a new sense of urgency as Beijing has become more aware of its own strategic vulnerabilities from Dollar dependence. 47:05 Dr. Daniel McDowell: The United States should reconsider the use of so-called symbolic financial sanctions. That is, if the main objective of a tranche of sanctions is to signal to the world or to a domestic audience that Washington disapproves of a foreign government's policy choices, other measures that can send a similar signal but do not politicize the dollar system ought to be considered first. Second, the use of financial sanctions against issuers of potential rival currencies in particular, China and its Yuan should face a higher bar of scrutiny. Even a small targeted sanctions program provides information to our adversaries about their vulnerabilities, and gives them time to prepare for a future event when a broad US sanctions program may be called upon as part of a major security crisis, when such measures will be most needed. Finally, whenever possible, US financial sanctions should be coordinated with our allies in Europe and Asia, who should feel as if they are key stakeholders in the dollar system and not vassals to it. Such coordinated efforts will prevent our friends from seeking to conduct business with U.S. adversaries outside of the dollar system and send a message to the whole world that moving activities into secondary currencies, like the Euro or the Yen, is not a safe haven. 48:35 Marshall Billingslea: I'll say at the outset that I agree with you and others that to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the dollar's demise have been greatly exaggerated. That said, we need to remind ourselves that in the 16th century the Spanish silver dollar was the dominant currency, in the 17th century it was Dutch florins, in the 18th century it was the pound sterling. The link between a nation's currency and its role as the relatively dominant political actor on the world stage is pretty clear. And that is why people like Lula from Brazil, Putin and Xi all aspire to undercut the role of the dollar as the global reserve currency. 50:00 Marshall Billingslea: If we look at what Russia did in the run-up to its further invasion of Ukraine, they began dumping ownership of treasury bonds in 2018. In that year, they plummeted from $96 billion and holdings down to $15 billion and they also started buying large amounts of gold. China is now, as the Ranking Member has observed, embarking on its own its own gold buying spree. I haven't seen the data for May, but April marked the sixth straight month of Chinese expansion in its gold holdings, and I'm not sure I believe the official figures. We have to recall that China is the dominant gold mining player around the world and half of those gold mining companies are state-owned. So the actual size of China's war chest when it comes to gold reserves may be far higher. In fact, I suspect inevitably far higher than official numbers suggest. Last year China also started dumping its treasuries. 2022 marked the largest or second largest decrease on record, with a drop of about $174 billion, and China stood at the lowest level since 2010. In terms of its holdings, though, this past March they did reverse course. This bears close watching because a sell-off may be a strong indicator of planned aggression. 51:20 Marshall Billingslea: The sheer size of the Chinese economy dwarfs what we've been contending with in the form of Iran, Russia, and so on. And one of the first things that the Biden administration did in the wake of Russia's attack was start sanctioning Russian banks and de-SWIFTing them. That's one thing when you're going after an economy smaller than the size of Texas; it's quite another when you consider that out of the 100 largest banks in the world, China has 20, and all four of the top four are Chinese banks. And that is why many within the Treasury contended when I was there, and they will contend to this day, that these Chinese banks are simply too big to sanction. I don't agree that we can allow that to stand but I do believe we have to start taking very swift action to put us in a situation where we could take punitive measures on these banks if necessary. 54:10 Dr. Carla Norrlöf: I will note that the Dollar's dominance is not quite as strong amongst private actors and private markets as it is with governments. In private transactions, it averages about 45% of the world's total. That includes FX transactions, but also things like issuance of international debt, securities, and cross-border banking. 54:55 Dr. Carla Norrlöf: The Chinese Yuan poses no immediate threat to dollar dominance. It accounts for roughly 3% of overall reserves. So far China has been successful in promoting the Yuan with its trade partners, but the Yuan is scarcely used by countries outside trade with China. China is a potential long term challenger due to its active pursuit of trade and investment relationships. If the Yuan is increasingly used by third countries, it will pose a greater threat to the dollar. 55:30 Dr. Carla Norrlöf: And in addition to these external threats, there is also a domestic threat. Flirting with the possibility of a voluntary default puts dollar dominance at risk. What should the US do to maintain dominance, to curb the domestic threat? Congress should consider creating an alternative mechanism for resolving political differences on government spending and its consequences. 56:00 Dr. Carla Norrlöf: To rein in external threats the United States should, whenever possible, implement multilateral sanctions in support of broadly endorsed goals to shore up the liberal international order. This is likely to limit dollar backlash. 59:40 Marshall Billingslea: The thing I do worry -- I come back to this fact that they've been buying a lot of gold -- that one of the things that they could do, which would be very concerning, if they wind up having larger reserves of gold than we believe, is they could start issuing Yuan or gold denominated, gold-backed Yuan contracts and that would further their ambition for introducing the Yuan onto the world stage. 1:05:00 Marshall Billingslea: China considers the actual composition of its foreign exchange reserves to be a state secret. So they don't publish and they they view it as a criminal offense to try to obtain that information in terms of the balance of how much is gold, how much Dollar or Euro denominated. But the numbers I've seen suggest that still at this moment, about 50% to 60% of their Foreign Exchange reserves are still in Dollars or Euros, which means that they are at high risk of sanctions; we can affect them. The problem is that that war chest that they've built up is enormous. It's more than $3 trillion that they have in Foreign Exchange reserves. Compare that with what Russia had at the onset of its assault, which was around $680 billion, of which we managed to freeze overseas half of it, but Russia is still keeping its economy going despite the Biden administration sanctions. So imagine how they're going to be able to continue with that sizable war kitty in Beijing if they do decide to go after the Taiwanese. 1:09:00 Dr. Tyler Goodspeed: Short term I think the risk is that we continue to see diversification away from the dollar, PRC continuing to push other countries to use trade inverse invoicing and Renminbi, that they continue to promote the offshore Renminbi market, that they continue to promote or force bilateral clearing. Longer term, I think the bigger risk is that foreign investors no longer perceive the United States federal government debt to be as safe and risk free as it is today perceived. 1:41:20 Dr. Daniel McDowell: The demonstration of US control over the actual flow of dollars, of communication, absolutely provides information to adversaries to prepare for events where they may face similar circumstances. And so I think what we're seeing is China, we're seeing Russia, we're seeing other countries try to create alternative payments networks. Russia has its own SPFS payment messaging system. It's quite small. It was launched in 2014, not coincidentally, after the initial round of sanctions targeting Russia. In terms of CIPS, China's cross border payments network, Belarus announced it was having banks join immediately following the 2022 sanctions. So what I'm saying is there's a pattern between when the United States mobilizes control over the pipes and the messaging of cross-border payments and adversaries looking for alternatives. It doesn't mean they're using them, but they're getting plugged into the system as at least sort of a rainy day option in the event of a future targeting. 1:45:35 Dr. Daniel McDowell: I look at China not just as a typical country, because I think they're an alternative service provider. Most countries fall into alternative service users; they're looking for an alternative to the dollar. China, you could perhaps put Europe in this as well, are the only two sort of economic BLOCs capable, I think, of constructing an attractive enough cross-border payments network that could attract those alternative service users that are looking for that network. And so that's why I think again, with China, there should be a higher bar of scrutiny. 2:02:20 Dr. Tyler Goodspeed: As deficits mount and as the debt burden rises above 100%, I think the Congressional Budget Office has it ending the budget window at about 119% of our economy, then we will probably observe an acceleration of diversification away from the dollar as a hedge. Again, I don't see another single currency displacing the dollar as the major international currency or as the major reserve currency, but continued diversification. International Financial Institutions in an Era of Great Power Competition May 25, 2023 House Financial Services Committee Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Jesse M. Schreger, Associate Professor of Business, Columbia Business School Mark Rosen, Partner, Advection Growth Capital and former Acting Executive Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Daniel F. Runde, Senior Vice President, Center for Strategic & International Studies(CSIS) Rich Powell, Chief Executive Officer, ClearPath & ClearPath Action Daouda Sembene, Distinguished Nonresident Fellow, CGD and CEO, AfriCatalyst Clips 39:55 Mark Rosen: The IMF is the global lender of last resort to countries that are in economic distress. IMF borrowers usually have a balance of payments problem, are running out of foreign exchange reserves, and so cannot meet their obligations. The IMF negotiates a set of economic policies with the borrower in government to alleviate the crisis, and, conditional on the government implementing the agreed policies, provides a loan in tranches, normally over a three year period. 41:00 Mark Rosen: The biggest challenge the IMF faces today is China which, as we've heard, has lent vast sums to emerging market and low income countries in a non-transparent and irresponsible manner. Many IMF members are now struggling to repay China. 42:05 Mark Rosen: The United States is the largest shareholder in the IMF and has veto power over certain key decisions and it's critical that the US continues to maintain its ownership of more than 15% which enables it to have this veto power. 42:20 Mark Rosen: China for some time, has been pressing for an increased quota share at the IMF. However, given its irresponsible lending, and then willingness to provide debt relief to developing countries, this is not the time to reward China with increased ownership at the Fund. Two other issues I'd like to focus on are anti-corruption and the catalytic role of the private sector in the work of the IMF. Corruption is a severe problem for many emerging market countries, which do not have strong institutions that can confront and root out corruption. The IMF is certainly doing a much better job than it did historically on anti-corruption, but I believe it's critical that it continues to make anti corruption laws and policies front and center in the conditions of its lending programs, as well as a focus of its technical assistance. Only by reducing corruption will many of these countries be able to attract the vast amount of private sector investment which is potentially available and remains the ultimate key to reducing poverty. Establishing a rule of law, including laws to protect private property is key to unlocking this investment. And it should be a focus of the IMF and World Bank to encourage these countries to improve the rule of law and to fight corruption. If they do that, emerging market countries can attract private capital and grow rapidly as many countries that have followed that path have already done so successfully. 44:45 Daniel Runde: Multilateral development banks, MDBs, under US and Western leadership are one way that we can respond with something. The United States built and strengthened the MDB system. MDBs provide money, advice, data and convening power to help developing countries solve problems. If the US exerts its influence over these institutions, they are forced multipliers of a US-led global system. If we disregard our leadership role, then other actors, including China, can exert influence over them. The World Bank Group is a series of institutions: it lends money to national governments, it has a private sector arm, and has an insurance arm. There are a series of other regional development bank's including the InterAmerican Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank -- Taiwan is a member of the Asian Development Bank -- the African Development Bank and the EBRD, the European Bank for Reconstruction Development Bank, focused mainly on countries that used to be behind the Iron Curtain. The United States has been instrumental in creating the majority of these institutions and remains the largest, or one of the largest, shareholders of every afformentioned MDB. Since the founding of these institutions, the US has used its shareholding power to shape the policies and activities of MDBs in indirect support of American foreign policy. 47:10 Daniel Runde: What role does China play in the MDBs? They're a shareholder. China continues to borrow from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. That is crazy. That needs to stop. China is a shareholder. Also, Chinese firms can bid on MDB projects. China wins a lot of in terms of dollar value, a lot of the dollar value of World Bank contracts. Something to take a look at. 47:35 Daniel Runde: How does the Belt and Road figure into the MDBs? You all have heard of the Belt and Road. Infrastructure is now a strategic issue. China's Belt and Road Initiative is a combination of construction and financing projects for roads, airports, and energy around the world. Unfortunately for us, BRI is an ambitious project that speaks to the hopes of China's friends and potential friends. To counter the BRI, the US needs a positive alternative that says more than, "Don't work with China." Right? That's not a strategy. We've got to have an alternative. 1:12:50 Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY): How do we end China's eligibility to borrow from the World Bank? Daniel Runde: The Asian Development Bank has said they're going to end their eligibility by 2025. We should absolutely hold them to that. There is a temptation for the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to continue to loan for a couple of reasons. One is they say, "Well, this is a window into how we can understand China better." There's lots of other ways to understand China better. And or this is a way for us to -- for a bunch of lending reasons that they do it. You all have the power of the purse, you have an ability, I think you should have blunted conversations with the administration about this. I suspect it's an open door, but it's going to require, I think, some pushing from Congress. I would encourage this committee to push the administration on ending lending to China. 1:14:30 Jesse Schreger: So fundamentally right now, the Renminbi is not yet positioned to compete with the US dollar for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the reason that the dollar plays the role it does in the international financial system is it provides the global safe asset. You're confident, except for the upcoming debt ceiling, that you will always be paid back if you own US dollars. That's fundamentally what you know. When you contemplate investing in China and holding Chinese Renminbi as reserves, you're not necessarily sure that you're gonna be able to turn that piece of paper into the goods and services that you need or intervening in FX markets. 1:21:15 Jesse Schreger: First and foremost, what China is trying to do is essentially convince countries around the world that the Renminbi is an alternative asset to invoice your trade and to invest in. And so on the investment side, they've been working very hard to actually allow in foreign capital, encouraging foreign central banks to hold Renminbi denominated bonds as their reserves. And on the trade side, they're encouraging firms to invoice, basically price their goods, in Renminbi. There's a few areas in which they've had challenges there. So first, we actually don't know who are holding most of these Renminbi denominated assets. What you can see is after the US sanctioned Russia back in 2014, it was the Russian Central Bank that effectively announced they were moving out of US dollar denominated assets and into Renminbi, so they did that publicly. And so China has effectively been trying to attract foreign capital of that form and a lot of the reasons for that is that China finds itself vulnerable in the dollar-based financial system. And so what I would say the fundamental area in which the United States can assure the dominance of the dollar is making everyone understand that US Treasuries are the world's safe asset that there is no state of the world in which the United States can or will default. 2:03:25 Jesse Schreger: I think the real way in which people start being able to issue and borrow in Renminbi is when people start thinking in terms of the goods that they need to buy and consume are in Renminbi. Fundamentally, most countries around the world, if they issue a bond in Renminbi, the calculation they have to do is then "okay, I'm going to take my renminbi and convert it into US dollars to buy the thing in which I need." And so while actions in the US financial system are certainly going to affect other countries decisions to borrow in Renminbi, the kind of underlying challenges in Chinese financial markets and fundamentally the lack of goods priced and sold in Renminbi are going to continue to hold back kind of a growth of this market for a while. And in particular, the fact that many countries are reluctant to try to raise money inside of China's liquid onshore capital markets for, effectively, fear of capital controls. If you've raised renminbi in China, you can't get that out and to your projects the way you can if you raise money in the US in dollars. 2:14:55 Daniel Runde: The business model of the World Bank is they lend money to richer countries with a pretty good credit rating and then they cross subsidize that by lending to poor countries with a poor credit rating. My view is, China can finance its own development, we should stop this practice. I think the Asian Development Bank has sort of gotten the memo, but the World Bank has not fully gotten the memo and they'll give you kind of World Bank-y answers to this sort of thing. We got to stop it. Rep. Zach Nunn (R-IA): Mr. Runde, I could not agree with you more. And you highlighted earlier, you know, by 2025, China should graduate from this program. I'd offer that 25 is two years too late. We can start funneling them off that now. Daniel Runde: I agree, sir. Rep. Zach Nunn (R-IA): I think you're in the right spot. Thank you. Music Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Editing Pro Podcast Solutions Production Assistance Clare Kuntz Balcer Cover photo Eric Prouzet on Unsplash
6/26/20231 hour, 29 minutes, 29 seconds
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CD275: Debt Ceiling 2023: Crisis Normalized

Another unnecessary crisis averted. In this episode, Jen examines the debt ceiling crisis events of the past to show that the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 - which raised the debt ceiling - is not likely to reduce our government’s debt but will likely ensure that our environment will be trashed for profit. She also examines the best path forward to ensure that the debt ceiling is never used for political leverage again. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the show notes on our website at Background Sources Congressional Dish Episodes CD261: Inflation Reduction Act CD257: PACT Act – Health Care for Poisoned Veterans CD151: AHCA – The House Version (American Health Care Act) CD049: Crisis… Postponed CD048: The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Debt Ceiling Overview “US debt ceiling - what it is and why there is one.” Natalie Sherman. Jun 2, 2023. BBC. “What Happens When the U.S. Hits Its Debt Ceiling?” Noah Berman. Last Updated May 25, 2023. Council on Foreign Relations. “A brief history of debt ceiling crises and the political chaos they’ve unleashed.” Raymond Scheppach. May 12, 2023. The Conversation. “Congress has revised the debt ceiling 78 times since 1960. An expert explains why.” Scott Simon and Lennon Sherburne. April 29, 2023. NPR. New Development Bank Ben Norton on Twitter New Development Bank on Twitter New Development Bank Website “BRICS New Development Bank de-dollarizing, adding Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe as members.” Ben Norton. Jun 8, 2023. Monthly Review Online. “NDB Board of Directors held its 40th meeting.” Jun 5, 2023. New Development Bank. Debt Limit History “The Debt Limit Through the Years.” Bipartisan Policy Center. “US government shutdown to end after Congress passes debt ceiling deal.” Paul Lewis and Dan Roberts. Oct 15, 2013. The Guardian. “S.& P. Downgrades Debt Rating of U.S. for the First Time.” Binyamin Appelbaum and Eric Dash. Aug 5, 2011. The New York Times. “Gingrich Vows No Retreat on Debt Ceiling Increase.” Clay Chandler. Sept 22, 1995. The Washington Post. 2023 Crisis “House Democrats Move to Force a Debt-Limit Increase as Default Date Looms.” Carl Hulse. May 2, 2023. The New York Times. “Can Congress Make an End-Run Around a Debt Limit Impasse? It’s Tricky.” Carl Hulse and Jeanna Smialek. Apr 7, 2023. The New York Times. The Debt “2023 VAT Rates in Europe.” Cristina Enache. Jan 31, 2023. Tax Foundation. “National Debt: Definition, Impact, and Key Drivers.” Updated May 25, 2023. Investopedia. “Briefing Book: What is the Child Tax Credit?” Updated May 2021. Tax Policy Center. The Law H.R.3746: Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 Jen’s Highlighted PDF CBO Estimate of Budgetary Effects Law Outline Division A: Limit Federal Spending Title I: Discretionary Spending Limits for Discretionary Category Sec. 101: Discretionary Spending Limits Sets spending caps for fiscal years 2024 and 2025 2024: Over $886 billion for defense Over $703 billion for non-defense Sec 102: Special Adjustments for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025 If there is a continuing resolution in effect on or after January 1, 2024 for fiscal year 2024, or a continuing resolution for 2025 on or affect January 1, 2025, defense and non-defense spending will be sequestered, meaning a 1% across the board cut Title II: Budget Enforcement in the House of Representatives Explains how the House of Representatives must implement this law Title III: Budget Enforcement in the Senate Explains how the Senate must implement this law Division B: Save Taxpayer Dollars Title I: Rescission of Unobligated Funds Takes money back from accounts where it wasn't all spent including from: The Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Specifically their COVID vaccine activities and vaccine supply chains All the money except $7 billion for COVID testing and mitigation All of the SARS-CO-V2 genomic sequencing money except for $714 million All of the money for COVID global health programs International Disaster Assistance funds for the State Department National Institutes of Health - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Community health centers National Health Service Corps Nurse Corps Graduate level teaching health centers Mental health and substance use disorder training for health care professionals and public safety officers Grants for mental health for medical providers Funding for pediatric mental health care access Grants for survivors of sexual assault Child abuse prevention and treatment Medical visits at home for families State and local fiscal recovery funds Rural health care grants Restaurant revitalization fund Elementary and secondary school emergency relief funds Housing for people with disabilities Housing for the elderly Grants to Amtrak and airports Air carrier worker support and air transportation payroll support Title II: Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Sec. 251: Rescission of Certain Balances Made Available to the Internal Revenue Service Defunds the IRS by approximately $1.4 billion Title III: Statutory Administrative Pay-As-You-Go Requires agencies to submit plan to reduce spending in an equal or greater amount to every action they take that increases spending. This is easily waived and expires at the end of 2024.. Title IV: Termination of Suspension of Payments on Federal Student Loans: Resumption of Accrual of Interest and Collections Sec. 271: Termination of Suspension of Payments on Federal Student Loans; Resumption of Accrual of Interest and Collections At the end of September, people with Federal student loans will have to begin repayment of their loans, and the Secretary of Education is not allowed to implement an extension of the payment pause. Division C: Grow the Economy Title I: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Orders reports about work requirements for welfare payments Title II: SNAP Exemptions Sec. 311: Modification of Work Requirement Exemptions In order to receive food benefits for more than 3 months in a 3 year period, "able bodied" people have to work at least 20 hours per week or participate in a work program for 20 hours per week unless that person is under 18 or over 50 years old, medically unable to work, is a parent with dependent children, or is pregnant. This provision increases the work requirement age over the next few years so it becomes 55 years old. This provision adds homeless individuals, veterans or foster kids until they are 24 to the list of people exempt from the work requirements This provision expires and the qualifications revert back to what they used to be on October 1, 2030 Title III: Permitting Reform Sec. 321: Builder Act Changes the requirements for NEPA environmental studies to include "any negative environmental impacts of not implementing the proposed agency action in the case of a no action alternative..." and requires only "irreversible and irretrievable commitments of FEDERAL resources which would be involved in the proposed agency action should it be implemented" Adds circumstances when agencies will not have to produce environmental impact documents Requires environmental impact statements when the action has a "reasonably foreseeable significant effect on the quality of the HUMAN environment." Allows agencies to use "any reliable data source" and says the agency is "not required to undertake new scientific or technical research unless the new scientific or technical research is essential to a reasoned choice among alternatives and the overall costs and time frame of obtaining it are not unreasonable." Assigns roles for "lead agencies" and "cooperating agencies" and says that the agencies will produce a single environmental document Sets a 150 page limit on environmental impact statements and 300 pages for a proposed agency action with "extraordinary complexity" Sets a 75 page limit on environmental assessments Requires lead agencies to allow a "project sponsor" to prepare environmental assessments and environmental impact statements under the supervision of the agency. The lead agency will "evaluate" the documents and "shall take responsibility for the contents." Environmental impact statements must be complete in under 2 years after the EIS is ordered by the agency Environmental assessments must be completed in 1 year The agency may extend the deadlines Project sponsors are given the right to take government agencies to court for failure to meet a deadline Sec. 324: Expediting Completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline "Congress hereby ratifies and approves all authorizations, permits, verifications, extensions, biological opinions, incidental take statements, and any other approvals or orders issued pursuant to Federal law necessary for the construction and initial operation at full capacity of the Mountain Valley Pipeline." Gives the Secretary of the Army 21 days after enactment of this law to issue "all permits or verifications necessary to complete the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline across the waters of the United States" "No court shall have jurisdiction..." to review "...any approval necessary for the construction and initial operation at full capacity of the Mountain Valley Pipeline... including any lawsuit pending in a court as of the date of enactment of this section." Division D: Increase the Debt Limit Sec. 401: Temporary Extension of Public Debt Limit Suspends the debt limit until January 1, 2025 On January 2, 2025, the debt limit will automatically increase to whatever amount the debt level is at the end of the suspension Audio Sources Senate Session June 1, 2023 Highlighted Transcript Senate Session Parts 1 & 2 May 31, 2023 Highlighted Transcript Meeting: H.R. 3746 - Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 May 30, 2023 House Committee on Rules Watch it on YouTube Clips 22:50 Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO): I should note for my colleagues that Democrats could have raised the debt limit last year when they controlled the House of Representatives. 35:30 Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS): The Fiscal Responsibility Act finally ends the federal student loan moratorium and the so-called interest pause, effective August 31, 2023. For every month borrowers were allowed to skip payments, $4.3 billion were added to the American taxpayers debt. 41 months later, the moratorium has cost American taxpayers approximately $176 billion. 1:01:15 Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO): The President put forward a budget months ago. Chairman Smith, do you know when the President submitted his budget to the United States Congress? Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO): I don't remember but it was -- Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO): It was March 9th. Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO): It was late. It was due February 1st. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO): Oh, I'm glad you noted that. Chairman Smith, when did the Republicans submit their budget? Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO): You would need to ask the budget committee. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO): I would need to ask the budget committee. Mr. Estes. When did the Republicans submit their budget? [Pause] Only in the Rules Committee, by the way, could a witness lay blame at the president for being a few weeks late in submitting his budget when his party hasn't submitted a budget, period. 1:06:45 Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA): We also run the risk that we will one day not be the reserve currency of the world. The reason why our interest rates are so low comparatively, is because we are a safe haven for investment for the rest of the world. These sort of antics increasingly bring that into doubt whether or not folks will get their money, the folks who are lending to us. 1:24:15 Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM): Now, Standard and Poor's, they downgraded our credit rating. Have they increased that credit rating? Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA): No. There are three credit agencies Standard and Poor's, which was the one that downgraded us in 2011, never reversed their downgrade. And frankly my concern and the worry right now is that the other two credit agencies will now follow suit, given the events of the last couple of months, which obviously look very much like 2011 all over again. 1:50:55 Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA): I continue to be stunned by the fact that when I look at this deal, which focuses on discretionary funding, that the people who seem to be asked to do the most or to absorb the hits the most are the people that least can afford it. The military budget is part of this discretionary budget, it's over 50% of the discretionary budget. The United States spends more on national defense than China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Germany, France, South Korea, Japan and Ukraine combined. And yet, if this moves forward, we see an increase in defense spending. I mentioned in my opening remarks, I don't know how many of you saw the 60 minutes piece the other day, I mean, we all know, of the cost overruns in the Department of Defense. I mean, the idea that we're spending $10,000 for a $300 oil switch. I mean, it's been there for a long time, and yet, we seem unable to want to grapple with that waste and those cost overruns. I don't know if it's the defense lobbyists or the campaign contributions or whatever it is, but somehow, when it comes to the military budget, you know, not only are we not holding them accountable, but you know, we say we're going to increase it even more, even more, we'll give you more. 2:57:40 Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX): Look, I'm for NEPA reforms 100%. We need them for road projects, transportation, particularly for our energy industry. But my concern here that we've got language that none of us have fully reviewed, going through the committees of jurisdiction that has been adopted, that I've got colleagues texting me and saying they're not 100% sure if that language is good or bad for the purpose intended. I've got colleagues on both sides of the aisle that have raised those questions. And so the purpose intended, of course, is to streamline projects, whatever those projects may be. But I've got a text right here from GOP colleagues saying, Well, I'm not so sure that these will actually do what we think they will do, to streamline said projects. And in fact, a former high up in the administration, in the Energy Department under the Trump administration, just validated that concern by one of my colleagues. Yet we are putting forward this measures saying some grand improvement with respect to NEPA, that that's somehow something we should be applauding when it's not the full package of H.R. 1, which had gone through committee. And importantly, the one thing that I think is 100% clear, is that this bill fails to include even the most basic reform to President Biden's unreliable energy subsidies that were put forward in the so called inflation Reduction Act for the wealthy, elites, corporations, and the Chinese Communist Party just to be blunt. And frankly, it ensures that permitting reform will likely benefit renewables the most. Basically, if you're a government that is subsidizing the crap out of something, in this case, unreliable energy, giving massive subsidies to billion dollar corporations, giving significant subsidies to families that make over 100,000, 300,000 for EVs, because you're chasing your your dreams of, you know, a fossil fuel-less world. You're going to absolutely decimate our grid because you're not going to have the projects being developed for the gas and the coal nuclear that are actually required to keep your grid functioning. But yeah, that's what we're doing and I just for the life of me can't understand why we're applauding that. 3:15:50 Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO): So we've been asking for the IRS to give us a plan of how they wanted to spend the additional $80 billion that they had. They finally gave that to Congress about six weeks, eight weeks ago. They broke down how they're spending the $80 billion: $1.4 billion of it was for hiring more agents and what the bill before you does, it eliminates that $1.4 billion for this year. House Session May 25, 2023 Highlighted Transcript House Session, Morning Hour, Parts 1 & 2 May 24, 2023 Highlighted PDF How the Pentagon falls victim to price gouging by military contractors May 21, 2023 60 Minutes The Rich Get Richer, Deficits Get Bigger: How Tax Cuts for the Wealthy and Corporations Drive the National Debt May 17, 2023  Senate Budget Committee Witnesses: Bobby Kogan, Senior Director, Federal Budget Policy, Center for American Progress Bruce Bartlett, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy, United States Department of Treasury Samantha Jacoby, Senior Tax Legal Analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Dr. Adam Michel, Director of Tax Policy Studies, Cato Institute Scott Hodge, President Emeritus & Senior Policy Advisor, Tax Foundation Clips 32:25 Bobby Kogan: Today I intend to make two points. First, without the Bush tax cuts, their bipartisan extensions, and the Trump tax cuts, the ratio of debt to GDP would be declining indefinitely. And second, our rising debt ratio is due entirely to these tax cuts and not to spending increases. Throughout this testimony, When I say spending, I mean primary spending, that is spending excluding interest on the federal debt, and every mention of revenues, spending deficits, and debt means those amounts as a percent of GDP. Okay, according to CBO primary deficits are on track to stabilize at roughly 4% over 30 years, high enough to cause the debt to rise indefinitely. The common refrain that you will hear, that I heard when I staffed this committee, and that unfortunately, I expect to hear today, is that rising debt is due to rising spending. Revenues have been roughly flat since the 1960s and while spending was also roughly flat until recently, demographic changes and rising healthcare costs are now pushing the costs up. These facts are true. Our intuitions might reasonably tell us that if revenues are flat, and spending is rising, then the one changing must be to blame. But our intuitions are wrong. In CBO's periodic long term projections earlier this century, spending was projected to continue rising, but despite this CBO routinely projected long term debt stability, It projected revenues to keep up with this rising spending, not due to tax increases, but due to our tax code bringing in more as our country and the people in it prospered. That prosperity results in both higher revenue collection and higher real after tax income for the people whose incomes are growing, it is a win win. In other words, we used to have a tax system that would fully keep pace with rising spending. And then the Bush tax cuts were enacted and expanded, and then on a bipartisan basis eventually made largely permanent in 2013. Under the law dictating CBO and OMB's baseline construction, temporary changes in tax law are assumed to end as scheduled. In practice this meant that CBO is projection showed the Bush tax cuts ending on schedule with the tax code then reverting to prior law. 2012 was therefore the last year in which CBO is projections reflected the Bush tax cuts expiring. Yes, CBO's 2012 long term projections showed rising spending, but it also showed revenues exceeding spending for all 65 years of its extended baseline with indefinite surpluses, CBO showed debt declining indefinitely. But ever since the Bush tax cuts were made permanent CBO has showed revenues lower than spending and has projected debt to rise indefinitely. And since then, the Trump tax cuts further reduced revenues. Without the Bush tax cuts, their bipartisan extensions, and the Trump tax cuts, debt would be declining indefinitely, regardless of your assumptions about the alternative minimum tax. Two points explain this. The first employs a concept called the fiscal gap, which measures how much primary deficit reduction is required to stabilize the debt. The 30 year fiscal gap is currently 2.4% of GDP, which means that on average primary deficits over 30 years would need to be 2.4% of GDP lower for the debt in 2053 to be equal to what it is now. The size of the Bush tax cuts their extensions and the Trump tax cuts under current law over the next 30 years is 3.8% of GDP. Therefore, mathematically and unequivocally without these tax cuts, debt would be declining as a percent of GDP, not rising. 41:45 Bruce Bartlett: The reason I changed my mind about taxes and decided that we needed tax increases happened on a specific day that I'm sure Senator Grassley remembers, if nobody else. And that was the day in November of 2003, when the Medicare Part D legislation passed, and I was just, you know, at the time, I thought the reason Republicans, and I was a Republican in those days, were put on this earth was to control entitlement programs. And I was appalled that an entirely new entitlement program was created that was completely unfunded. It raised the deficit forever by about 1% of GDP. And I thought a dedicated tax should have been enacted, along with that program, which I didn't oppose and don't oppose. In fact, I benefit from it at my age. But I just think that we need proper funding. And that was when I first started saying we needed to raise taxes, because we just can't cut discretionary spending enough to fix the problem. And I think this is the error of the House budget, which cuts almost entirely domestic discretionary spending, doesn't even touch defense, and I just think that's extraordinarily unrealistic and an unserious approach to our deficit problem. We simply have to do something about entitlements. If you're going to control spending, control the budget on the spending side, I don't think we're going to do that. I think we need a new tax. I have advocated a value added tax for many years, as a supplement to our existing tax system. It creates, you can raise a lot of revenue from it every virtually every industrialized country has one. The money could be used to fix things in the tax code, as a tax reform measure. Once upon a time in the 70s, and even the 80s, it was considered the sine qua non of Republican tax policy, because it's a consumption based tax system, a flat tax, and now many Republicans are in favor of something called the Fair Tax which is very similar except that it won't work. Administratively it's poorly designed. The Value Added Tax will work and that's why it should be a better approach to these problems. 49:15 Samantha Jacoby: Wealthy people who get their income from investments accumulate large gains as those assets go up in value over time, but they won't owe income tax unless they sell their assets. And if they never sell, no one will ever pay income tax on those gains. That's arguably the biggest flaw in the tax code. Policymakers should consider a tax like President Biden's budget proposal to enact a minimum tax on very wealthy households. This would treat unrealized capital gains, which is the primary source of income for many wealthy households, as taxable income instead of letting income accrue tax free across generations. 54:15 Dr. Adam Michel: Keeping government small is the best way to ensure that the American people can continue to prosper. 58:45 Scott Hodge: There are many elements of the tax code that benefit the wealthy and big corporations, I absolutely agree, and the inflation Reduction Act is the most recent example of corporate welfare in the tax code. 1:01:00 Samantha Jacoby: So the the 2017 law, it dramatically changed the way that foreign profits are taxed of multinationals. And so what happens now is large corporations who have big, big foreign profit centers, lots of foreign profits overseas, they pay a lower tax rate on those foreign profits than they do on their domestic profits or purely domestic businesses pay. 1:02:55 Bruce Bartlett: And one of the things I tried to do in my prepared testimony is look at what has actually happened in the seven years since then. And very few studies, I know, some of the tests, the footnotes and my colleagues testimony or to our projections based on studies were done in 2017, 2018. I tried to find things that were written more recently, perhaps, or preferably, I should say, in the academic literature, which I think is more substantive and more dependable. And I looked at peer reviewed journals, and the data that I could find showed no macroeconomic impact whatsoever. It didn't raise growth, it didn't lower growth. And I think I concluded in that -- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): It did shift wealth, correct? Bruce Bartlett: Excuse me? Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): It did shift wealth. Bruce Bartlett: Oh, absolutely. No question about that. But I'm more interested in the macroeconomic effect on investment and growth and employment. And I would just close by saying that if a tax cut had no positive impact, then it can't have any negative impact if you get rid of it. Now, you may not want to for other reasons.... 1:05:25 Bobby Kogan: Right. So our demographic changes and rising healthcare costs are the reason that spending is increasing. If you break spending into two categories, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, everything else, including the everything else entitlements, the everything else is shrinking as a percent of GDP and it's the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that are growing. And they are growing not because they are getting more, they're doing more, it's not because we're giving more and more to seniors, and to extremely poor people, but because it costs more to do the same. And that is the rising that is the demographics is changing the ratio of non workers to workers and there's also the rising health care costs. And so what this means is that if you want to spend less, you are necessarily saying that future seniors should be getting less of a benefit than they're currently getting. That's the only way to do it. Since that's the portion of the budget that's growing, if you want to cut that, you have to say that the current amount that we're doing for Social Security recipients, the current amount that we're doing for seniors, the current amount that we're doing for people on Medicaid is too much, and future people should be having less. That's the only way to do it. And, you know, the very nice thing that I had though, ii my testimony, we used to have a tax system that despite that rising, we keep up with that, and now we don't. 1:15:50 Bruce Bartlett: Well, first of all, I think in terms of tax shelters and tax evasion and extreme levels of tax avoidance, the problem isn't so much with the law as with the enforcement. And as you know, it's been the policy of Republicans to slash the budget of the IRS in real terms, for many years, which is a way of giving, privatizing tax avoidance to rich people and the rich individuals have the greatest power and ability to evade taxation. And I think it was really wonderful that the Congress increased the IRS budget, and I think it's just the height of absurdity that one of the major elements of the House Republican proposal is to slash the IRS budget again, even though the CBO has said this is a revenue losing proposition. 2:06:40 Bruce Bartlett: I think there's absolutely no question that the debt limit is unconstitutional, and not just under the 14th Amendment, section four, but under the general powers of the President. I mean, one of the things that I will point out is that the debt limit is a very serious national security issue. A huge percentage of the national debt that is owned by foreigners is owned by foreign central banks. They are not going to be happy if their assets are suddenly worth a great deal less than they thought they were. I think the President has full power within his inherent authority to simply declare the debt limit null and void. And I would point out that it's not a simple question of whether you just break the debt limit. I think a lot of people, even on this committee, forget the impoundment part of the Budget Act of 1974, which says the President must spend the money that is appropriated by law, he doesn't have the choice not to, which is what some Republicans seem to think that he can do. And he lacks that power. So I would agree that the President has that power. I wish he would use it. I wish it as sincerely as anything I believe in life. Thank you. Senate Session May 16, 2023 Highlighted PDF House Session May 16, 2023 Highlighted PDF Senate Session May 15, 2023 Highlighted PDF House Session May 10, 2023 Highlighted PDF Senate Session, Parts 1 & 2 May 19, 2023 Highlighted PDF Senate Session May 9, 2023 Highlighted PDF Senate Session May 4, 2023 Highlighted PDF Senate Session, Parts 1 & 2 May 2, 2023 Highlighted PDF Music Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Editing Pro Podcast Solutions Production Assistance Clare Kuntz Balcer
6/12/20232 hours, 2 minutes, 7 seconds
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CD274: Norfolk Southern Train Derailment in East Palestine

On February 3rd, a train carrying 20 cars with poisonous, flammable chemicals derailed in East Palestine, OH. In this episode, we’re going to get some answers. Using testimony from four Congressional hearings, community meeting footage, National Transportation Safety Board preliminary reports, and lots of articles from local and mainstream press, you will learn what Congress is being told as they write the Rail Safety Act, which both parts of Congress are working on in response to the East Palestine train derailment. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the show notes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD247: BIF: The Growth of US Railroads East Palestine Derailment Overview “It’s been more than a month since a freight train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in Ohio. Here’s what’s happened since.” Alisha Ebrahimji and Holly Yan. Mar 23, 2023. CNN. “Residents can return home after crews burned chemicals in derailed tanker cars.” Associated Press. Feb 8, 2023. NPR. “WATCH: Smoke billows over East Palestine after controlled burn at train derailment site.” Feb 8, 2023. Cleveland 19 News. Vinyl Chloride and Dioxins “East Palestine Train Derailment: What is vinyl chloride and what happens when it burns?” Associated Press. Feb 8, 2023. CBS News Pittsburgh. “Dioxins and their effects on human health.” Oct 4, 2016. World Health Organization. “Medical Management Guidelines for Vinyl Chloride.” Last reviewed Oct 21, 2014. Centers for Disease Control Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. National Transportation Safety Board Findings “Norfolk Southern Railway Train Derailment with Subsequent Hazardous Material Release and Fires: Investigation Details.” Last updated Mar 21, 2023. National Transportation Safety Board. “What appears to be an overheated wheel bearing seen moments before East Palestine train derailment, NTSB says.” Ian Cross. Feb 14, 2023. ABC News 5 Cleveland. “Vent and Burn” Decision “Ex-EPA Administrator Doubts Agency's East Palestine Claims: 'Hard to Believe They Were Silent' Before Norfolk Southern Detonated Toxic Vinyl Chloride Cars.” Jordan Chariton. May 25, 2023. Status Coup News. “East Palestine emails reveal insight into decision to vent and burn toxic rail cars.” Tara Morgan. May 15, 2023. ABC News 5 Cleveland. “EXCLUSIVE: 'I truly feel defeated and useless.' Emails and texts reveal anguish of East Palestine fire chief over lack of adequate health advice after he was told to treat chemical disaster 'like a normal house fire.'” Daniel Bates. May 15, 2023. The Daily Mail. EPA failures “East Palestine Bombshell: EPA Official Admits It May Be Missing Toxic Chemicals in Air Testing, Admits Some of Its Decision Making Has Been to Prevent Lawsuits.” Louis DeAngelis. Mar 29, 2023. Status Coup News. East Palestine Resident Health Problems “No one has accepted real responsibility for the East Palestine disaster.” Zsuzsa Gyenes. May 16, 2023. The Guardian. “East Palestine survey reveals residents experienced headaches and anxiety after train derailment.” Nicki Brown, Artemis Moshtaghian and Travis Caldwell. Mar 4, 2023. CNN. “People in East Palestine showing breakdown product of vinyl chloride in urine tests.” Tara Morgan. Apr 28, 2023. ABC News 5 Cleveland. Norfolk Southern “Making it Right.” Norfolk Southern. “Norfolk Southern unveils compensation plans for homeowners near derailment site.” Andrea Cambron, Jason Carroll and Chris Isidore. May 11, 2023. CNN Business. “‘32 Nasty:’ Rail Workers Say They Knew the Train That Derailed in East Palestine Was Dangerous.” Aaron Gordon. Feb 15, 2023. Vice. “Wall Street says Norfolk Southern profits won’t suffer from derailment.” Rachel Premack. Feb 14, 2023. Freight Waves. “US rail industry defends safety record amid staffing cuts.” Josh Funk. May 16, 2021. AP News. Lobbying Against Regulations “Rail Companies Blocked Safety Rules Before Ohio Derailment.” David Sirota et al. Feb 8, 2023. The Lever. ECP Brake Deregulation “USDOT repeals ECP brake rule.” William C. Vantuono. Dec 5, 2017. Railway Age. Railway Safety Act “Railway Safety Act passes committee, moves to Senate floor for full vote.” Abigail Bottar. May 10, 2023. Ideastream Public Media. Staffing Cuts “Railroads are slashing workers, cheered on by Wall Street to stay profitable amid Trump’s trade war.” Heather Long. Jan 3, 2020. The Washington Post. Long Trains “The True Dangers of Long Trains.” Dan Schwartz and Topher Sanders. Apr 3, 2023. Propublica. Bills S.576: Railway Safety Act of 2023 Audio Sources Senate Executive Session May 10, 2023 Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Clips 36:30 Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): This bill has changed a lot from what I introduced just a few short months ago. We’ve made a number of concessions to industry; a number of concessions to the rail industry, a number of concessions to various interest groups, which is why we have so much bipartisan support in this body but also why we have a lot of support from industry. East Palestine Community Meeting March 28, 2023 Status Coup News Government Response to East Palestine: Ensuring Safety and Transparency for the Community March 28, 2023 House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, & Critical Materials Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Debra Shore, Regional Administrator, U.S Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5 Wesley Vins, Health Commissioner, Columbiana County General Health District Anne M. Vogel, Director, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Clips 30:40 Debra Shore: Since the derailment, EPA has been leading robust, multi-layered air quality testing, using state of the art technology in and around East Palestine, and that extensive monitoring has continued daily at 23 stations throughout the community. Since the fire was extinguished on February 8, EPA monitors have not detected any volatile organic compounds above established levels of health concerns. EPA has also been assisting with indoor air screenings in homes through a voluntary program to keep residents informed. As of March 21, more than 600 homes have been screened, and no sustained or elevated detections of chemicals have been identified. 33:00 Debra Shore: Here's how EPA is holding Norfolk Southern accountable. On February 21, EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order to Norfolk Southern, including a number of directives to identify and clean up contaminated soil and water resources, to attend and participate in public meetings at EPA's request, and to post information online, and ordering the company to pay EPA's costs for work performed under the order. All Norfolk Southern work plans must be reviewed and approved by EPA. It must outline all steps necessary to address the environmental damage caused by the derailment. If the company fails to complete any of the EPAs ordered actions, the agency will immediately step in, conduct the necessary work, and then seek punitive damages at up to three times the cost. 46:30 Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH): In one case, trucks were actually turned around at the gate of a proper, certified disposal facility and sent back to East Palestine to sit practically in my constituents backyard. Why did the EPA believe that it needed to send those letters? Debra Shore: Chairman Johnson, the instance you cite occurred before EPA assumed responsibility under the Unilateral Administrative Order for the cleanup. We don't know who told those trucks to turn around, whether it was the disposal facility itself or someone else. 48:50 Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH): Why were they turned around? Debra Shore: This occurred during the transition period between Ohio EPA and US EPA assuming the lead for the emergency response. As such, under the Unilateral Administrative Order, all disposal facilities are required to be on the CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act) approved off-site disposal list. So, we needed a few days to review what had occurred and ensure that those facilities that Norfolk Southern had contracts with were on that approved list. Once we determined which ones were on the approved list, it's up to Norfolk Southern to ship waste off the site. 1:03:30 Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO): Is the EPA intending to use the Unilateral Administrative Order to ensure that Norfolk Southern establishes a health and environmental screening program beyond this initial cleanup period? Debra Shore: Right now, the focus of the Unilateral Order and our work with Norfolk Southern is to make sure the site is cleaned up. I think the responsibility for that longer term health effort, I support what Dr. Vins recommended, and that may have to be negotiat[ed] with Norfolk Southern going forward. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO): Obviously, that hasn't started yet. Debra Shore: Not to my knowledge. 1:09:05 Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): What will take place in the remediation phase, what happens then? Debra Shore: Then there'll be restoration of stream banks and the places where the soil was removed from along the railroad sites and I think a larger vision for the community that they're already beginning to work on, such as parks and streetscapes. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): Right. Any idea of what kind of timeframe we're talking about here? I mean, are we talking like in my district, decades? Debra Shore: No. We believe the core of the removal of the contaminated site and the restoration of the tracks will be several months. 1:11:35 Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ): When did clean up responsibility shift from EPA to Norfolk Southern, and what protections were put in place to ensure the health and safety of the community during that shift? Debra Shore: Thank you, Congressman Pallone. The transition from the State agency, which has the delegated authority in every state, has an emergency response capability, and so Ohio was on the ground working with the local firemen and other agencies as EPA arrived shortly after the derailment. It is typical in these kinds of emergency responses for the state agency to take the lead in the early days and Norfolk Southern was complying with the directives from the state. They continued to comply, but we've found over time that it's important to have all the authority to hold the principal responsible party in this case Norfolk Southern accountable, which is why on February 21, several weeks after the derailment, EPA issued its Unilateral Administrative Order. 1:19:55 Debra Shore: In the subsequent soil sampling that's been conducted, we looked at the information about the direction of the plume from the vent and burn event and focused that primarily where there might have been aerial deposition of soot or particulate matter, and that those soil samples have been collected in Pennsylvania. Rep. John Joyce (R-PA): And today, what soil, air, and water tests are continuing to occur in Pennsylvania? Debra Shore: Additional soil samples will be collected in collaboration, principally, with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the local Farm Bureau, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. 1:28:36 Anne M. Vogel: The reason that we have been able to say that the municipal drinking water is safe is based on an Ohio EPA map that pre-exists the derailment. This is the source water protection map. So the municipal wellfield is right here, if folks can see that, that big well in the blue. So the derailment happened way over here, a mile and a half away from the wellfield. And we know how the water flows, down this way, down this way, down the creeks. So the derailment would not have affected the municipal water source and we knew that very quickly after the derailment. 1:49:05 Debra Shore: Norfolk Southern has encountered some difficulties in finding and establishing contracts with sites to accept both liquid and solid waste. And I think we could accelerate the cleanup if they were able to fulfill that obligation more expeditiously. 1:51:20 Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA): What are some of the long term health concerns that residents and your providers have? Wesley Vins: We've heard a whole wide range of concerns long term. Certainly, cancer is first and foremost, because of much of the information that the residents see online and here, as well as reproductive concerns, growth concerns, hormonal concerns Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA): Do you think there's a potential with the carcinogens or any of the toxins that it could lead to ailments for five years from now? Wesley Vins: Yeah, I understand your question. So the some of the constituents that we have related to this response, obviously are carcinogenic, however, we're seeing low levels, is really the initial response. So I think the long question is, we don't know. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA): We don't know. 2:04:50 Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA): Administrator Shore, one concern my office has heard is that relocation costs are not being covered by Norfolk Southern for everyone in East Palestine. How is it determined whether a resident is eligible to have their relocation costs paid for? Debra Shore: I'm sorry to hear that. My understanding was that Norfolk Southern was covering temporary relocation costs for any resident who sought that, and I would direct you to Norfolk Southern to ask why they are being turned down. Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA): Can the EPA require that Norfolk Southern cover relocation costs for anyone in East Palestine? Debra Shore: I'll find out. 2:11:45 Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA): I guess my concern is, if the EPA is website says that the sampling data hasn't been quality assured, how did the EPA make the determination that the air is safe to breathe when it appears that the sampling data has not been quality assured? Debra Shore: Congresswoman, I'm going to ask our staff to get back to you with an answer for that. Executive Session and Improving Rail Safety in Response to the East Palestine Derailment March 22, 2023 Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation View on Senate website Introduction Panel: U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown U.S. Senator J.D. Vance Mike DeWine, Governor of Ohio Misti Allison, Resident of East Palestine Witnesses: Jennifer Homendy, Chair, National Transportation Safety Board David Comstock, Chief, Ohio Western Reserve Joint Fire District Clyde Whitaker, Legislative Director, Ohio State SMART-TD Alan Shaw, CEO, Norfolk Southern Ian Jefferies, CEO, Association of American Railroads Clips 1:35:00 Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): Is there any relief being offered now to say, if you make the decision to move your home and move your family somewhere else, there is an avenue for you to sell your home and get a fair market price for it? Misti Allison: The short answer is, as of today, no. There is not a clear cut explanation or parameters of how you would do that. We've heard time and time again from Norfolk Southern that they're going to make it right and that they're looking into some long term health care monitoring and assistance and home value protection, but details of that plan have not been disclosed to residents as of today. 1:42:05 Jennifer Homendy: This derailment, as all accidents we investigate, was 100% preventable. 1:43:20 Jennifer Homendy: First, the definition of high hazard flammable train should be expanded to a broader array of hazmats and the definition's threshold of 20 loaded tank cars in a continuous block or 35 tank cars dispersed throughout a train should be eliminated. Second, DOT 111 should be phased out of all hazmat service. They're not as protected as DOT 117 tank cars. Third, people deserve to know what chemicals are moving through their communities and how to stay safe in an emergency. That includes responders who risk their lives for each of us every single day. They deserve to be prepared. That means access to real time information, obtaining the right training and gear, and having the right communications and planning tools. Fourth, light cockpit voice recorders in the aviation, audio and video recorders in the locomotive cab are essential for helping investigators determine the cause of an accident and make more precise safety recommendations. Recorders also help operators proactively improve their safety policies and practices. In the East Palestine derailment, the locomotive was equipped with an inward facing camera. However, since the locomotive was put immediately back into service following the accident, the data was overwritten. That means the recorder only provided about 15 minutes of data before the derailment, and five minutes after. The FAST Act, following terrible tragedies in Chatsworth and in Philadelphia, required Amtrak and commuter railroads to maintain crash and fire hardened inward and outward facing image recorders in all controlling locomotives that have a minimum of a 12 hour continuous recording capability. This was extremely helpful in our DuPont Washington investigation. Now is the time to expand that requirement to audio, and include the Class One freight railroads in that mandate. In fact, now is the time to address all of the NTSB's open rail safety recommendations, many of which are on our most wanted list. Fifth and finally, as the committee works on enhancing rail safety, I trust that you'll consider the resources that we desperately need to carry out our critical safety mission. Investments in the NTSB are investments in safety across all modes of transportation. 1:52:05 Clyde Whitaker: This derailment did not have to happen. And it makes it so much more frustrating for us to know that it was very predictable. And yet our warnings and cries for help over the last seven years have fallen on deaf ears and the outcome was exactly as we feared. Now the result is a town that doesn't feel safe in their own homes, businesses failing to survive and a railroad that prioritized its own movement of trains, before the people in the community, as well as its workers. It truly is a shame that operational changes in place prior to that incident are still in place today and the possibility for a similar disaster is just as possible. My entire railroad career I've listened to the railroads portray a message and image of safety first, but I have never witnessed or experienced that truth, one single day on the property. For years I've handled complaint after complaint regarding unsafe practices and unsafe environments, and for almost every single one I've been fought every step of the way. The truth is, ask any railroad worker and they will tell you, that their carriers are masters of checking the boxes and saying the right things, without ever doing anything meaningful toward improving safety. They're only focus is on the operating ratios and bottom lines, which is evidenced by the fact that their bonus structures are set up to reward timely movements of freight rather than reaching destinations safely, as they once were. Actions do speak louder than words. And I assure you that what you have heard, and will hear, from the railroads today are nothing more than words. Their actions are what's experienced by men and women I represent as well as what the people of East Palestine have been through. This is the reality of what happens when railroads are primarily left to govern and regulate themselves. 1:54:05 Clyde Whitaker: On July 11, 2022, I filed a complaint with the FRA (Freight Railroad Administration) regarding an unsafe practice that was occurring on Norfolk Southern (NS), despite existing operating rules to the contrary. NS was giving instructions to crews to disregard wayside detector failures and to keep the trains moving. This meant the trains were not being inspected as intended, and that the crews were not able to ascertain the integrity of such trains. This practice remained in place even after East Palestine. 1:54:40 Clyde Whitaker: It is a virus that has plagued the industry for some time, with the exception of precision scheduled railroading. Across America, inspections and maintenance is being deferred to expedite the movement of trains. No longer is identifying defects and unsafe conditions the goal of inspections, but rather minimiz[ing] the time it takes to perform them, or the elimination of them all together. 2:17:40 Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): Why did Norfolk Southern not stop the train then and examine the bearing to make sure that it didn't melt the axle and that you didn't have a derailment? If you'd stop then it would have prevented the derailment. So my question is, why did the second hotbox reading not trigger action? Alan Shaw: Senator, my understanding is that that second reading was still below our alarm threshold, which is amongst the lowest in the industry. In response to this, the industry has agreed to work together to share best practices with respect to hotbox detectors, trending technology, and thresholds. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): So when you and I visited my office yesterday, you said your threshold is now 170 degrees above ambient temperature. As I understand it, at the time of the derailment, your threshold was 200 degrees above ambient temperature. 2:20:15 Clyde Whitaker: Make note that trending defect detector technology from being in the cab of a locomotive, when we pass a defect detector, it trends to an office like Norfolk Southern in Atlanta, Georgia. It doesn't convey to the railroad crews, which is a problem in this incident as well as many others that still continue to this day. What we need as a train crew -- which they say they listen, they haven't been listening for quite a while -- we need to be notified whenever these trending detectors are seeing this car trend hotter. That way we can keep a better eye on it. 2:22:35 Clyde Whitaker: It is feasible. The technology is there. Several days after East Palestine, we almost had a similar incident in the Cleveland area on Norfolk Southern. The defect detector said no defects to the crew. The train dispatcher came on and said, "Hey, we have a report of a trending defect detector on the train. We need you to stop and inspect it." Immediately after that the chief dispatcher, which is the person that controls the whole railroad, told them to keep going. If it were not for an eastbound train passing them and instructing them, "Hey, your train is on fire, stop your train." And we set that car out. They had to walking speed this car five miles. So the technology is there. They're just raising and lowering their thresholds to move freight. 2:25:15 Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): His testimony is loud and clear: it would have been worse if there was only one person as a crew on that train. Do you disagree with him? Alan Shaw: Senator, I believe that we have operations infrastructure on the ground to respond to derailments. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): I think you're not answering the question, okay? It's almost like the last hearing all over again. Because I think the evidence is very clear that these trains can be absolutely safer, but that technology is no replacement for human beings. For example, it can't provide the cognitive functions of a conductor and can't collect visual cues during an emergency. Two-person crews make our trains safer and I wish that you would commit to that today, because I think it's pretty obvious that is the correct answer. I just get sick of industry executives talking about supporting the principles of regulation, while they lobby against common sense regulations like this one behind the scenes. 2:38:50 Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT): I understand that the business plan of Norfolk Southern includes a $7.5 billion stock buyback that is ongoing. Do you believe it would be appropriate to suspend that buyback program until all of the assurances that you are making to this committee and also to the people of East Palestine, about "making this right," that that stock back buyback program should be suspended until you have accomplished what you've assured us and what you've assured that people of East Palestine that you would do? Alan Shaw: Senator, we think about safety every day. We spend a billion dollars a year in capital on safety. And we have ongoing expenses of about a billion dollars a year in safety and as a result over time, derailments are down, hazardous material releases are down and injuries are down. We can always get better. Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT): Right, so you won't answer my question about suspending the buyback program. Alan Shaw: Senator, stock buybacks never come at the expense of safety Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT): I take that is that you will continue with your plan on the buyback. 2:51:30 Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): I know that high hazardous flammable trains have more safety regulations. Why would this not have been characterized as a high hazard flammable train if it had th ese hazardous materials on it as part of the 149 car train? Alan Shaw: Senator, thank you for your question. I'm not familiar with the entire makeup of the train. I know that a highly hazardous train is defined by a certain number of highly hazardous cars in it or a certain number of cars in a block. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): Miss Homendy, maybe you can help me with that question. Jennifer Homendy: Yes, the definition of a high hazard flammable train involves class three flammable liquids only, 20 car loads in a continuous block, which would be a unit train, or 35 car loads of class three flammable liquids in a mixed freight train. That was not what was on this train. There were some that were class three defined flammable liquids, but this train was not a high hazard flammable train. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): Right. It wasn't a high hazard train, but it had high hazardous materials that are very flammable that just lit up the sky. So is that something that you would consider that should be looked at as a safety improvement? Jennifer Homendy: Yes, Senator. We think that the thresholds of the 20 and 35 should be eliminated and we think a broader array of hazmat should be in the definition of high hazard flammable train. Protecting Public Health and the Environment in the Wake of the Norfolk Southern Train Derailment and Chemical Release in East Palestine, Ohio March 9, 2023 Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works View on Senate website Witnesses: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Sen. JD Vance (R-OH) Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) Alan Shaw, President and CEO, Norfolk Southern Corporation Debra Shore, Regional Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region V Anne Vogel, Director, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Richard Harrison, Executive Director and Chief Engineer, Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission Eric Brewer, Director and Chief of Hazardous Materials Response, Beaver County Department of Emergency Services Clips 26:50 Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH): The company followed the Wall Street business model: boost profits by cutting costs at all costs, the consequences for places like East Palestine be damned. In 10 years, Norfolk Southern eliminated 38% of its workforce. Think of that. In a decade they cut more than a third of their jobs. We see what the company did with their massive profits. Norfolk Southern spent $3.4 billion on stock buybacks last year and were planning to do even more this year. That's money that could have gone to hiring inspectors, to putting more hotbox detectors along its rail lines, to having more workers available to repair cars and repair tracks. Norfolk Southern's profits have gone up and up and up and look what happened. 33:35 Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): It is ridiculous that firefighters and local officials don't know that hazardous chemicals are in their community, coming through their community. In East Palestine you had a community of largely volunteer firefighters responding to a terrible crisis, toxic burning chemicals, without knowing what was on them. 34:50 Sen. JD Vance (R-OH): I've talked to a number of my Republican colleagues and nearly everybody has dealt in complete good faith, whether they like the bill or have some concerns about it, and these comments are not directed at them. Who they are directed at is a particular slice of people who seem to think that any public safety enhancements for the rail industry is somehow a violation of the free market. Well, if you look at this industry and what's happened in the last 30 years, that argument is a farce. This is an industry that enjoys special subsidies that almost no industry enjoys. This is an industry that is enjoys special legal carve outs that almost no industry enjoys. This is an industry that just three months ago had the federal government come in and save them from a labor dispute. It was effectively a bailout. And now they're claiming before the Senate and the House that our reasonable legislation is somehow a violation of the free market. Well, pot, meet the kettle, because that doesn't make an ounce of sense. You cannot claim special government privileges, you cannot ask the government to bail you out, and then resist basic public safety. 40:10 Alan Shaw: Air and water monitoring have been in place continuously since the accident and to date it consistently indicated that the air is safe to breathe and the water is safe to drink. 47:20 Debra Shore: Since the fire was extinguished on February 8, EPA monitors have not detected any volatile organic compounds above levels of health concerns. 47:45 Debra Shore: EPA has been assisting with indoor air screenings for homes through a voluntary program offered to residents to provide them with information and help restore their peace of mind. As of March 4, approximately 600 homes had been screened through this program and no detections of vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride have been identified. 48:40 Debra Shore: On February 21, we issued a unilateral administrative order to Norfolk Southern which includes a number of directives to identify and clean up contaminated soil and water resources, to attend and participate in public meetings at EPA's request, and to post information online, to pay for EPA's costs for work performed under this order. EPA is overseeing Norfolk Southern's cleanup work to ensure it's done to EPA specifications. The work plans will outline all steps necessary to clean up the environmental damage caused by the derailment. And most importantly, if the company fails to complete any of the EPA ordered actions, the agency will immediately step in, conduct the necessary work, and then force Norfolk Southern to pay triple the cost. 1:04:30 Eric Brewer: Norfolk Southern hazmat personnel and contractors arrived on scene shortly after 11pm. At around midnight, after research of the contents, it was decided to shut down fire operations and move firefighters out of the immediate area and to let the tank cars burn. This is not an unusual decision. This decision was made primarily by Norfolk Southern's hazmat coordinator, as well as their contractor. 1:05:15 Eric Brewer: There was a possibility of explosion and we should consider a one mile evacuation. Ohio officials notified us that the one mile radius would now be from the leaked oil address. This would add additional residents from Beaver County in the one mile evacuation zone. Donington township officials went door to door, as well as using a mass notification system to advise the residents of the one mile recommended evacuation. It was stressed that this was a recommendation as we cannot force residents from their homes. Social media posts began to circulate stating that arrest would be made if people refused to leave during the evacuation. Let me be clear that was not the case in Pennsylvania, as this was not a mandatory evacuation. Monday morning, we assembled at the Emergency Operations Center in East Palestine. We learned Norfolk Southern wanted to do a controlled detonation of the tank car in question. We were assured this was the safest way to mitigate the problem. During one of those planning meetings, we learned from Norfolk Southern that they now wanted to do the controlled detonation on five of the tank cars rather than just the one. This changed the entire plan, as it would now impact a much larger area. 1:21:25 Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): Why did you wait a month before you started to order the dioxin testing when the community was asking for this? Was that a decision that you made early on that it wasn't critical? Or how was this decision made? Debra Shore: Senator Capito, our air monitoring was searching for primary indicators, such as phosgene and hydrogen chloride, immediately during and after the burn. We detected very low levels which very quickly went even down to non detectable. Without those primary indicators, it was a very low probability that dioxins would have been created. They are secondary byproducts of the burning of vinyl chloride. 1:25:40 Alan Shaw: As you saw just this week, a six point safety plan that included a number of issues which we're implementing immediately to improve safety, including installing more wayside detectors. The first one was installed yesterday outside of East Palestine. 1:30:20 Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK): Mr. Shaw, when the vent and burn process was being made, who who made those decisions? And what was other considerations other than just burning it and letting the material burn off? Alan Shaw: Thank you for that question. The only consideration, Senator, was the safety and health of the community. And that decision was made by Unified Command under the direction of the Incident Commander? Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK): Who's that? Alan Shaw: The Incident Commander was Fire Chief Drabick. Norfolk Southern was a part of Unified Command. 2:07:25 Alan Shaw: Senator, the NTSB report indicated that all of the hotbox detectors were working as designed. And earlier this week, we announced that we are adding approximately 200 hotbox detectors to our network. We already have amongst the lowest spacing between hotbox detectors in the industry. And we already have amongst the lowest thresholds. 2:15:35 Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): Will you commit to compensating affected homeowners for their diminished property values? Alan Shaw: Senator, I'm committing to do what's right. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): Well, what's right is a family that had a home worth $100,000 that is now worth $50,000 will probably never be able to sell that home for 100,000 again. Will you compensate that family for that loss? Alan Shaw: Senator, I'm committed to do what's right. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): That is the right thing to do. These are the people who are innocent victims, Mr. Shaw. These people were just there at home and all of a sudden their small businesses, their homes are forever going to have been diminished in value. Norfolk Southern owes these people. It's an accident that is basically under the responsibility of Norfolk Southern, not these families. When you say do the right thing, will you again, compensate these families for their diminished lost property value for homes and small businesses? Alan Shaw: Senator, we've already committed $21 million and that's a downpayment Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): That is a down payment. Will you commit to ensuring that these families, these innocent families, do not lose their life savings in their homes and small businesses? The right thing to do is to say, "Yes, we will." Alan Shaw: Senator, I'm committed to doing what's right for the community and we're going to be there as long -- Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): What's right for the community will then be balanced -- which is what we can see from your stock buybacks -- by what's right for Norfolk Southern. C-SPAN: Washington Post Live March 6, 2023 Speakers: Heather Long, Columnist and Editorial Writer, Washington Post Jennifer Homendy, Chair, National Transportation Safety Board Clips 5:14 Jennifer Homendy: Hazardous materials are transported on all modes of transportation. Our aviation system is the safest, but they're limited in what they can transport for dangerous materials. Pipelines can also be safe as well. They have a generally good safety record until one big rupture occurs. But then our railroads also have a good safety record. Train accidents in general, per million trains miles, are going up. So it's trending upwards, accidents. With that said, going on our nation's roads with these materials is not something we want to see. You know, we have 43,000 people that are dying on our nation's roads annually. We have a public health crisis on our roads. Millions of crashes are occurring, so transporting hazmat on our roads would be more dangerous than on our railways. 6:50 Jennifer Homendy: The numbers are trending upward on accidents overall and also for Norfolk Southern 8:20 Jennifer Homendy: That is a role that's very important for the NTSB and why we are independent of the Department of Transportation. We are not part of the Department of Transportation because we do conduct federal oversight to see if DoT's oversight of the freight railroads is adequate or inadequate and we may make recommendations on that. 10:20 Jennifer Homendy: Once it hit well over 250 degrees, it was time for the train crew to stop to inspect the axle, to inspect the wheel bearing and to possibly, in this case, set out the car. But it was too late because as they were slowing and stopping, the train derailed, the wheel bearing failed. And so there might need to be more conservative temperature thresholdss o that started earlier. Also, something the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has looked at is real time monitoring of temperatures and data trending from the control center so that they can see the temperatures increase over a period of time. In this derailment, or what we saw of this train and its operations, is the temperature of that wheel bearing was going up pretty significantly over the course of the three different wayside detectors, but you know, the crew doesn't see that. So that real time monitoring and data trending so that there's some communication with the crew to stop the train and take immediate action is definitely needed. We'll look at that as part of our investigation as well. 12:30 Jennifer Homendy: One thing I will mention is that these decisions about the placement of these hot bearing detectors and the thresholds really vary railroad by railroad and so there needs to be good decision making, some policies and practices put in place. 18:00 Jennifer Homendy: Electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes don't prevent a derailment. It could lessen damage. So let me explain that. So in this one, car 23 still would have derailed because a wheel bearing failed. So car 23 still would have derailed. Still would have been a derailment, still would have been a fire, and the responders, and Norfolk Southern, and the state and locals would have had to still make a decision on whether to vent and burn the five vinyl chloride tank cars. There could have been a possibility of less damage, meaning a few cars could have remained on the track later in the train. But as for most of the damage, that still would have occurred whether we had ECP brakes on this train or not. 19:50 Heather Long: There's a lot fewer people working on rail, especially freight rail. Does the number of people make any difference here? Jennifer Homendy: Well for this one, as you said, we had two crew members and a trainee. They all stay, as with every train, in the cab of the head locomotive. So I do not see where that would have made a difference in this particular train and this derailment. One thing we are going to look at is whether any changes in staffing lead to any differences in how these cars are maintained or how they're inspected. That is something we will look at. 21:05 Jennifer Homendy: Yeah, so the fire chief, upon arrival at the command center following the derailment, had electronic access to the train consist, which is the list of cars and the materials or liquids that the train is carrying, but none of the responders had the Ask Rail app. You could look up a UN number for a particular car and get the whole consist of the train. It's in an app that the railroads developed for helping emergency responders to get information following an accident. 25:05 Jennifer Homendy: And we have over 250 recommendations that we've issued on rail safety generally that have not been acted upon yet. Music Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Editing Pro Podcast Solutions Production Assistance Clare Kuntz Balcer
5/28/20231 hour, 24 minutes, 25 seconds
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CD273: Inside Congressional Committees with Dr. Maya Kornberg

For this episode, Jen sat down for an interview with fellow Congress nerd Dr. Maya Kornberg. Dr. Kornberg is a Research Fellow for the Brennan Center for Justice's Elections and Government Program and author of Inside Congressional Committees: Function and Dysfunction in the Legislative Process. They talk about how and why the power of committees has shifted over time, how witnesses are selected for hearings, why the hearing archives disappeared, resources for information that Congress has that we don’t have access to, and where we can find hope for improvements in terms of how Congress functions. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the shownotes on our website at Relevant Links Inside Congressional Committees: Function and Dysfunction in the Legislative Process. Dr. Maya Kornberg Bio. Brennan Center for Justice. House Administration Subcommittee on Modernization. “Public Input Forum on Puerto Rico Status Act Discussion Draft.” House Natural Resources Committee. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)
5/14/20231 hour, 14 minutes, 26 seconds
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CD272: What is Taiwan?

Taiwan’s status in the world has never been clear and neither has the United States’ position on the issue. In this Congressional Dish, via footage from the C-SPAN archive dating back into the 1960s, we examine the history of Taiwan since World War II in order to see the dramatic shift in Taiwan policy that is happening in Congress - and in law - right now. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the show notes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD259: CHIPS: A State Subsidization of Industry CD187: Combating China Taiwan History and Background “In Focus: Taiwan: Political and Security Issues” [IF10275]. Susan V. Lawrence and Caitlin Campbell. Updated Mar 31, 2023. Congressional Research Service. “Taiwan taps on United Nations’ door, 50 years after departure.” Erin Hale. Oct 25, 2021. Aljazeera. “China must 'face reality' of Taiwan's independence: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.” Stacy Chen. Jan 16, 2020. ABC News. “Taiwan weighs options after diplomatic allies switch allegiance.” Randy Mulyanto. Sep 26, 2019. Aljazeera. U.S.-Taiwan Relationship Past “The Taiwan Relations Act” [Pub. L. 96–8, § 2, Apr. 10, 1979, 93 Stat. 14.] “22 U.S. Code § 3301 - Congressional findings and declaration of policy.” Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. Current “China moves warships after US hosts Taiwan's Tsai.” Rupert Wingfield-Hayes. Apr 6, 2023. BBC News. “Speaker Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit: Implications for the Indo-Pacific.” Jude Blanchette et al. Aug 15, 2022. Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Pelosi in Taiwan: Signal or historic mistake?” Aug 4, 2022. DW News. “China threatens 'targeted military operations' as Pelosi arrives in Taiwan.” News Wires. Feb 8, 2022. France 24. “Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan would be 'ill-conceived' and 'reckless.'” Dheepthika Laurent. Feb 8, 2022. France 24. Presidential Drawdown Authority “Use of Presidential Drawdown Authority for Military Assistance for Ukraine.” Apr 19, 2023. U.S. Department of State Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. U.S. China Relationship “America, China and a Crisis of Trust.” Thomas L. Friedman. Apr 14, 2023. The New York Times. Laws H.R.7776: James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 Full Text Outline of Taiwan Provisions TITLE X - GENERAL PROVISIONS Subtitle G - Other Matters Sec. 1088: National Tabletop Exercise By the end of 2023, the Secretary of Defense is to assess the viability of our domestic critical infrastructure to identify chokepoints and the ability of our armed forces to respond to a contingency involving Taiwan, including our armed forces’ ability to respond to attacks on our infrastructure. TITLE XII - MATTERS RELATING TO FOREIGN NATIONS Subtitle E - Matters Relating to the Indo-Pacific Region Sec. 1263: Statement of Policy on Taiwan “It shall be the policy of the United States to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist a fait accompli that would jeopardize the security of thepeople of Taiwan.” Fait accompli is defined as, “the resort to force by the People’s Republic of China to invade and seize control of Taiwan before the United States can respond effectively.” Sec. 1264: Sense of Congress on Joint Exercises with Taiwan Congress wants the Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command to carry out joint military exercises with Taiwan in “multiple warfare domains” and practice using “secure communications between the forces of the United States, Taiwan, and other foreign partners” Taiwan should be invited to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in 2024. RIMPAC is a multinational maritime exercise, now the world’s largest, that has happened 28 times since 1971. The last one took place in and around Hawaii and Southern California in the summer of 2022. 26 countries, including the US, participated. TITLE LV - FOREIGN AFFAIRS MATTERS Subtitle A - Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act PART 1 - IMPLEMENTATION OF AN ENHANCED DEFENSE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND TAIWAN Sec. 5502: Modernizing Taiwan’s Security Capabilities to Deter and, if necessary, Defeat Aggression by the People’s Republic of China Grants: Expands the purpose of the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing Program to “provide assistance including equipment, training, and other support, to build the civilian and defensive military capabilities of Taiwan” Authorizes the State Department to spend up to $100 million per year for 10 years to maintain a stockpile of munitions and other weapons (authorized by Sec. 5503). Any amounts that are not obligated and used in one year can be carried over into the next year (which essentially makes this a $1 billion authorization that expires in 2032). The stockpile money is only authorized if the State Department certifies every year that Taiwan has increased its defense spending (requirement is easily waived by the Secretary of State). Authorizes $2 billion per year for the Foreign Military Financing grants each year for the next 5 years (total $10 billion in grants). The money is expressly allowed to be used to purchase weapons and “defense services” that are “not sold by the United States Government” (= sold by the private sector). No more than 15% of the weapons for Taiwan purchased via the Foreign Military Financing Program can be purchased from within Taiwan Loans: Also authorizes the Secretary of State to directly loan Taiwan up to $2 billion. The loans must be paid back within 12 years and must include interest. The Secretary of State is also authorized to guarantee commercial loans up to$2 billion each (which can not be used to pay off other debts). Loans guaranteed by the US must be paid back in 12 years. Sec. 5504: International Military Education and Training Cooperation with Taiwan Requires the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense to create a military training program with Taiwan by authorizing the Secretary of State to train Taiwan through the International Military Education and Training Program. The purposes of the training include enhancements of interoperability between the US and Taiwan and the training of “future leaders of Taiwan”. The training itself can include “full scale military exercises” and “an enduring rotational United States military presence” Sec. 5505: Additional Authorities to Support Taiwan Authorizes the President to drawdown weapons from the stocks of the Defense Department, use Defense Department services, and provide military education and training to Taiwan, the value of which will be capped at $1 billion per year The President is also given the “emergency authority” to transfer weapons and services in “immediate assistance” to Taiwan specifically valued at up to $25 million per fiscal year. Sec. 5512: Sense of Congress on Taiwan Defense Relations “The Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances provided by the United States to Taiwan in July 1982 are the foundation for United States-Taiwan relations.” “The increasingly coercive and aggressive behavior of the People’s Republic of China toward Taiwan is contrary to the expectation of the peaceful resolution of the future of Taiwan” “As set forth in the Taiwan Relations Act, the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan should be maintained.” The US should continue to support Taiwanese defense forces by “supporting acquisition by Taiwan of defense articles and services through foreign military sales, direct commercial sales, and industrial cooperation, with an emphasis on capabilities that support an asymmetric strategy.” Support should also include “Exchanges between defense officials and officers of the US and Taiwan at the strategic, policy, and functional levels, consistent with the Taiwan Travel Act.” PART 3 - INCLUSION OF TAIWAN IN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS Sec. 5516: Findings “Since 2016, the Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, the Solomon Islands, and Kiribati, have severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of diplomatic relations with China” “Taiwan was invited to participate in the World Health Assembly, the decision making body of the World Health Organization, as an observer annually between 2009 and 2016. Since the 2016 election of President Tsai, the PRC has increasingly resisted Taiwan’s participation in the WHA. Taiwan was not invited to attend the WHA in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, or 2021.” “United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 does not address the issue of representation of Taiwan and its people at the United Nations, nor does it give the PRC the right to represent the people of Taiwan.” Sec. 5518: Strategy to Support Taiwan’s Meaningful Participation in International Organizations By the end of Summer 2023, the Secretary of State must create a classified strategy for getting Taiwan included in 20 international organizations. The strategy will be a response to “growing pressure from the PRC on foreign governments, international organizations, commercial actors, and civil society organizations to comply with its ‘One-China Principle’ with respect to Taiwan.” PART 4 - MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS Sec. 5525: Sense of Congress on Expanding United States Economic Relations with Taiwan “Taiwan is now the United States 10th largest goods trading partner, 13th largest export market, 13th largest source of imports, and a key destination for United States agricultural exports.” Audio Sources Evaluating U.S.-China Policy in the Era of Strategic Competition February 9, 2023 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Witnesses: Wendy Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense Clips 17:40 Wendy Sherman: We remain committed to our long standing One China Policy and oppose any unilateral changes to the cross-strait status quo. Our policy has not changed. What has changed is Beijing's growing coercion. So we will keep assisting Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability. 41:30 Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): I want to get a little broader because I think it's important to understand sort of the strategic vision behind our tactics on everything that we do. So if we go back to the late 80s, early 90s, end of the Cold War, and the gamble at the time was, if we created this international economic order, led by the US and the West, built on this global commitment to free trade, that this notion of that this trade and commerce would bind nations together via trade, via commerce and international interest and economic interest, that it would lead to more wealth and prosperity, that it would lead to democracy and freedom, basically domestic changes in many countries, and that it would ultimately ensure peace. The famous saying now seems silly, that no two countries with McDonald's have ever gone to war. That's obviously no longer the case. But the point being is that was the notion behind it. It was what the then Director General of the WTO called a "world without walls," rules-based international order. Others call it globalization. And basically, our foreign policy has been built around that, even though it's an economic theory it basically, is what we have built our foreign policy on. I think it's now fair to say that we admitted China to the World Trade Organization, Russia as well, I think it's now fair to say that while wealth certainly increased, particularly in China through its export driven economy, massive, historic, unprecedented amount of economic growth in that regard, I don't think we can say either China or Russia are more democratic. In fact, they're more autocratic. I don't think we can say that they're more peaceful. Russia has invaded Ukraine now twice, and the Chinese are conducting live fire drills off the coast of Taiwan. So I think it's fair to say that gamble failed. And we have now to enter -- and I think the President actually hinted at some of that in his speech the other night -- we're now entering a new era. What is that new era? What is our vision now for that world, in which not just the global international order and World Without Walls did not pacify or buy nations, but in fact, have now placed us into situations where autocracies, through a joint communique, are openly signaling that we need to reject Western visions of democracy and the like. So, before we can talk about what we're going to do, we have to understand what our strategic vision is. What is the strategic vision of this administration on what the new order of the world is? The Future of War: Is the Pentagon Prepared to Deter and Defeat America’s Adversaries? February 7, 2023 House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Chris Brose, Author Rear Admiral Upper Half Mark Montgomery (Ret.), Senior Director, Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation, Foundation for Defense of Democracies Peter Singer, Strategist at New America and Managing Partner of Useful Fiction LLC Clips 1:16:30 Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery: We don't have weapons stowed in Taiwan. In the last National Defense Authorization Act you authorized up to $300 million a year to be appropriated for Taiwan-specific munitions. The appropriators, which happened about seven days later, appropriated $0. In fact, almost all of the Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act, which you all pushed through the NDAA, ended up not being appropriated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act that passed eight days later. 30:10 Chris Brose: Nothing you do in this Congress will make larger numbers of traditional ships, aircraft and other platforms materialized over the next several years. It is possible, however, to generate an arsenal of alternative military capabilities that could be delivered to U.S. forces in large enough quantities within the next few years to make a decisive difference. Those decisions could all be taken by this Congress. The goal would be to rapidly field what I have referred to as a "moneyball military," one that is achievable, affordable and capable of winning. Such a military would be composed not of small quantities of large, exquisite, expensive things, but rather by large quantities of smaller, lower cost, more autonomous consumable things, and most importantly, the digital means of integrating them. These kinds of alternative capabilities exist now, or could be rapidly matured and fielded in massive quantities within the window of maximum danger. You could set this in motion in the next two years. The goal would be more about defense than offense, more about countering power projection than projecting power ourselves. It would be to demonstrate that the United States, together with our allies and partners, could do to a Chinese invasion or a Chinese offensive what the Ukrainians, with our support, have thus far been able to do to their Russian invaders: degrade and deny the ability of a great power to accomplish its objectives through violence, and in so doing to prevent that future war from ever happening. After all, this is all about deterrence. All of this is possible. We have sufficient money, technology, authorities, and we still have enough time. If we are serious, if we make better decisions now, we can push this looming period of vulnerability further into the future. The Pressing Threat of the Chinese Communist Party to U.S. National Defense February 7, 2023 House Armed Services Committee Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., USN (Ret.), Former Commander, U.S. Pacific Command Dr. Melanie W. Sisson, Foreign Policy Fellow, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology Clips 28:15 Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL): China is the most challenging national security threat America has faced in 30 years. If we fail to acknowledge that and take immediate action to deter it, the next 30 years could be devastating for our nation. Under President Xi, the Chinese Communist Party has nearly tripled its defense spending in the last decade alone. The PLA has gone from an obsolete force barely capable of defending its borders to a modern fighting force capable of winning regional conflicts. The CCP now controls the largest army and navy in the world, with a goal of having them fully integrated and modernized by 2027. The CCP is rapidly expanding its nuclear capability; they have doubled their number of warheads in two years. We estimated it would take them a decade to do that. We also were just informed by the DOD [that] the CCP now has more ICBM launchers than the United States. The CCP is starting to outpace us on new battlefields as well. They have leapfrogged us on hypersonic technology, they are fielding what we are still developing. They are making advances in AI and quantum computing that we struggle to keep pace with. Finally, their rapid advances in space were one of the primary motivations for us establishing a Space Force. The CCP is not building these new and advanced military capabilities for self defense. In recent years, the CCP has used its military to push out its borders, to threaten our allies in the region, and to gain footholds on new continents. In violation of international law, the CCP has built new and commandeered existing islands in the South China Sea, where it has deployed stealth fighters, bombers and missiles. It continues to intimidate and coerce Taiwan, most recently by surrounding the island with naval forces and launching endless fighter sorties across its centerline. In recent years, the CCP has also established a space tracking facility in South America to monitor U.S, satellites, as well as an overseas naval base miles from our own on the strategically vital Horn of Africa. These are just a few destabilizing actions taken by the CCP. They speak nothing of the CCPs Belt and Road debt trap diplomacy, it's illegal harvesting of personal data and intellectual property, it's ongoing human rights abuses, and its advanced espionage efforts, the latter of which came into full focus for all Americans last week when the Biden administration allowed a CCP spy balloon to traverse some of our nation's most sensitive military sites. Make no mistake, that balloon was intentionally lost as a calculated show of force. 44:15 Dr. Melanie W. Sisson: Since 1979, the United States has adopted a constellation of official positions, together known as the One China policy, that allow us to acknowledge but not to accept China's perspective that there is one China and that Taiwan is part of China. Under the One China policy, the United States has developed robust unofficial relations with the government and people of Taiwan consistent with our interest in preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. US policy is guided by an interest in ensuring cross-strait disputes are resolved peacefully and in a manner that reflects the will of Taiwan's people. This has required the United States to deter Taiwan from declaring independence, and also to deter the CCP from attempting unification by force. The 40 year success of the strategy of dual deterrence rests upon the unwillingness of the United States to provide either an unconditional commitment to Taipei that it will come to its defense militarily, or an unconditional commitment to Beijing that we will not. The U.S. national security interest in the status of Taiwan remains that the CCP and the people of Taiwan resolve the island's political status peacefully. Dual deterrence therefore remains U.S. strategy, reinforced by U.S. declaratory policy which is to oppose unilateral changes to the status quo by either side. 45:28 Dr. Melanie W. Sisson: The modernization of the PLA has changed the regional military balance and significantly enough that the United States no longer can be confident that we would decisively defeat every type of PLA use of force in the Taiwan Strait. This fact, however, does not necessitate that the US abandon the strategy of dual deterrence and it doesn't mean that the United States should seek to reconstitute its prior degree of dominance. Posturing the U.S. military to convince the CCP that the PLA could not succeed in any and every contingency over Taiwan is infeasible in the near term and likely beyond. The PLA is advances are considerable and ongoing, geography works in its favor, and history demonstrates that it's far easier to arrive at an overconfident assessment of relative capability than it is to arrive at an accurate one. Attempting to demonstrate superiority for all contingencies would require a commitment of forces that would inhibit the United States from behaving like the global power that it is with global interests to which its military must also attend. This posture, moreover, is not necessary for dual deterrence to extend its 40 year record of success. We can instead encourage the government of Taiwan to adopt a defense concept that forces the PLA into sub-optimal strategies and increases the battle damage Beijing would have to anticipate and accept. 46:45 Dr. Melanie W. Sisson: U.S. military superiority in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean allows us to threaten the maritime shipping upon which China depends for access to energy, global markets, and supply chains. The inevitable damage a use of force would cause to the global economy and the imposition of sanctions and restricted access to critical inputs needed to sustain China's economic development and the quality of life of its people, moreover, would certainly compound China's losses. 1:04:50 Adm. Harry B. Harris: We're going to share the crown jewel of America's military technology, the nuclear submarine and the nuclear reactors, with another country and that's Australia. We have not done that with any other country, except for the UK, back in the late 50s, and into the 60s. So here we have the two countries with with that capability, the United States and the UK, and we're going to share that with Australia. It's significant. But it's only going to going to be significant over the long term if we follow through. So it's a decade long process. You know, some people the CNO, Chief of Naval Operations, has said it could be 30 years before we see an Australian nuclear submarine underway in the Indian Ocean. I said that if we put our hearts and minds to it, and our resources to it, and by ours, I mean the United States', the UK's and Australia's, we can do this faster than that. I mean we put a man on the moon and eight years, and we developed a COVID vaccine in one year. We can do this, but we're going to have to put our shoulders to the task for Australia, which has a tremendous military. For them to have the long reach of a nuclear submarine force would be dramatic. It would help us dramatically. It would change the balance of power in the Indian Ocean, and it will make Australia a Bluewater navy. They are our key ally in that part of the world and I'm all for it. 1:32:05 Adm. Harry B. Harris: I think this issue of strategic clarity versus strategic ambiguity is critical, and we have been well served, I'll be the first to say that, by the policy of strategic ambiguity with Taiwan over the past 44 years, but I think the time for ambiguity is over. I think we have to be as clear about our intent with regard to what would happen if the PRC invades Taiwan as the PRC is clear in its intent that it's ultimately going to seize Taiwan if need. 1:41:25 Adm. Harry B. Harris: I used to talk about during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, almost every branch of the U.S. government understood that the Soviet Union was the threat. You know, I used to joke even a park ranger, Smokey Bear, would tell you that the Soviets were the bad guys. We didn't have that comprehensive unified view of the PRC. You know, State Department looked at as in negotiation, DOD look at it as a military operation, Commerce looked at it as a trading partner, and Treasury looked at it as a lender. So we didn't have this unified view across the government. But I think now we are getting to that unified view and I think the Congress has done a lot to get us in that position. 1:49:45 Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): We have the capability to block the transmission of information from the balloon back to China, don't we? Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.: We do. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): And in this type of an environment do you think it's probably likely that we did that? Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.: I would only guess, but I think General van Herk said that -- Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): Well you can't see any reason why we wouldn't do that, right? U.S.-Taiwan Relations March 14, 2014 House Foreign Affairs Committee Witnesses: Kin Moy, [Former] Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State Clips 7:20 [Former] Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY): Taiwan is a flourishing multiparty democracy of over 20 million people with a vibrant free market economy. It is a leading trade partner of the United States alongside much bigger countries like Brazil and India. Over the past 60 years, the U.S.-Taiwan relationship has undergone dramatic changes, but Taiwan's development into a robust and lively democracy underpins the strong U.S.-Taiwan friendship we enjoy today. 14:00 Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA): I think that it's important that we provide Taiwan the tools to defend itself, but Taiwan needs to act as well. Taiwan spends less than $11 billion on its defense, less than 1/5 per capita what we in America do, and God blessed us with the Pacific Ocean separating us from China. Taiwan has only the Taiwan Strait. On a percentage of GDP basis, Taiwan spends roughly half what we do. So we should be willing to sell them the tools and they should be willing to spend the money to buy those tools. 1:11:50 Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX): I think Chris Smith raised the issue of a One China policy. Does it not bother you that that exists, that there are statements that people have made, high level officials, that said they they agreed on one China policy? Does the administration not view that as a problem? Kin Moy: Our one China policy is one that has existed for several decades now. Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX): Okay. Well, I take that as a no, but let me follow up with what Jerry Connolly said. So you haven't sold submarines yet, you don't take Beijing into account. People around the world watch us. Words and actions have consequences. Would you agree that y'all would be okay with a one Russia policy when it comes to Crimea and the Ukraine? Is that akin to the same kind of ideology? Kin Moy: Well, I can't speak to those issues. But again, we are obligated to provide those defense materials and services to Taiwan and we have been through several administrations, I think very vigilant in terms of providing that. U.S.-China Relations May 15, 2008 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Witnesses: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations Harry Harding, Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University, 1995-2009 Clips 1:46:42 Richard N. Haass: The bottom line is China is not yet a military competitor, much less a military peer. Interestingly, I think Chinese leaders understand this. And they understand just how much their country requires decades of external stability so that they can continue to focus their energies and their attention on economic growth and political evolution. China is an emerging country, but in no way is it a revolutionary threat to world order as we know it. 1:47:20 Richard N. Haass: We alone cannot bring about a successful us Chinese relationship. What the Chinese do and say will count just as much. They will need to begin to exercise restraint and patience on Taiwan. There can be no shortcuts, no use of force. We, at the same time, must meet our obligations to assist Taiwan with its defense. We can also help by discouraging statements and actions by Taiwan's leaders that would be viewed as provocative or worse. 2:03:47 Harry Harding: Now with the support and encouragement of the United States, China has now become a member of virtually all the international regimes for which it is qualified. And therefore the process of integration is basically over, not entirely, but it's largely completed. And so the issue, as Bob Zoellick rightly suggested, is no longer securing China's membership, but encouraging it to be something more, what he called a "responsible stakeholder." So this means not only honoring the rules and norms of the system, but also enforcing them when others violate them, and assisting those who wish to join the system but who lack the capacity to do so. It means, in other words, not simply passive membership, but active participation. It means accepting the burdens and responsibilities of being a major power with a stake in international peace and stability, rather than simply being a free rider on the efforts of others. Now, China's reacted to the concept of responsible stakeholding with some ambivalence. On the one hand, it appreciates that the United States is thereby seeking a positive relationship with China. It suggests that we can accept and even welcome the rise of Chinese power and Beijing's growing role in the world. It certainly is seen by the Chinese as preferable to the Bush administration's earlier idea that China would be a strategic competitor of the United States, as was expressed during the campaign of 2000 and in the early months of 2001. However, Beijing also perceives, largely correctly, that America's more accommodative posture as expressed in this concept is conditional. China will be expected to honor international norms and respect international organizations that it did not create and it may sometimes question. And even more worrying from Beijing's perspective is the prospect that it's the United States that is reserving the right to be the judge as to whether Chinese behavior on particular issues is sufficiently responsible or not. Taiwanese Security August 4, 1999 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Witnesses: David “Mike” M. Lampton, Founding Director, Chinese Studies Program, Nixon Center Stanley Roth, Assistant Secretary, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State Caspar W. Weinberger, Former Secretary, Department of Defense James Woolsey, Former Director, CIA Clips 9:00 Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE): Taiwan security, in my view, flows from its democratic form of government's growing economic, cultural and political contacts with the mainland and, ultimately, the United States' abiding commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question. In my opinion, we should concentrate on strengthening those areas rather than spend time pre-authorizing the sales of weapon systems, some of which don't even exist yet. 20:10 Stanley Roth: There are three pillars of the [Clinton] administration's policy. First, the administration's commitment to a One China policy is unchanged. Regardless of the position of the parties, we have not changed our policy. The President has said that both publicly and privately. Second, we believe that the best means to resolve these issues is by direct dialogue between the parties themselves. We have taken every opportunity, including on my own trip to Beijing last week with Ken Lieberthal from the NSC, to urge the PRC to continue this dialogue. It strikes us that it's precisely when times are difficult that you need to dialogue, and to cancel it because of disagreements would be a mistake. China has not yet indicated whether or not these talks will continue in the Fall, as had been previously anticipated, but they put out a lot of hints suggesting that it wouldn't take place, and we are urging them to continue with this dialogue. Third point that is integral to our position. We have stressed again, at every opportunity, the importance of a peaceful resolution of this issue and the President has made that absolutely clear, as did Secretary Albright in her meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Tong in Singapore last week, as did Ken Leiberthal and I in our meetings in Beijing. But China can have no doubts about what the United States' position is, with respect to peaceful resolution of this issue. 1:29:15 Caspar Weinberger: So I don't think that we should be hampered by or felt that we are in any way bound by what is said by the communique, nor should we accept the argument that the communique sets the policy of the United States. 1:32:50 Caspar Weinberger: There are two separate states now, with a state-to-state relationship, and that the unification which was before emphasized, they repeated again in the statement of Mr. Koo, the head of their Trans- Strait Negotiating Committee, that the unification might come when China itself, the mainland, changes, but that that has not been the case and it is not now the case. 1:41:15 David “Mike” Lampton: Once both the mainland and Taiwan are in the WTO, each will have obligations to conduct its economic relations with the other according to international norms and in more efficient ways than now possible. 1:45:20 James Woolsey: The disestablishment of large, state-owned enterprises in China over the long run will bring some economic freedoms, I believe, that will quite possibly help change China and Chinese society and make it more conducive over time to political freedoms as well. But in the short run, the unemployment from the disestablishment of those enterprises can lead to substantial instability. U.S.-Taiwan Relations February 7, 1996 Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs Witness: Winston Lord, Assistant Secretary of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State Clips 16:45 Winston Lord: The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 forms the basis of US policy regarding the security of Taiwan. Its premise is that an adequate defense in Taiwan is conducive to maintaining peace and security while differences remain between Taiwan and the PRC. I'm going to quote a few sections here because this is a very important statement of our policy. Section two B states, "It is the policy of the United States to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area, and of grave concern to the United States. To provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character, and to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the socioeconomic system of the people on Taiwan." Section three of the TRA also provides that the "United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self defense capability." 18:00 Winston Lord: The key elements of the US policy toward the Taiwan question are expressed in the three joint communiques with the PRC as follows. The United States recognizes the government of the PRC as the sole legal government of China. The US acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan as part of China. In 1982, the US assured the PRC that it has no intention of pursuing a policy of two Chinas, or one China, one Taiwan. Within this context, the people the US will maintain cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan. The US has consistently held that the resolution of the Taiwan issue is a matter to be worked out peacefully by the Chinese themselves. A sole and abiding concern is that any resolution be peaceful. 19:30 Winston Lord: The U.S. government made reciprocal statements concerning our intentions with respect to arms sales to Taiwan, that we did not intend to increase the quantity or quality of arms supplied, and in fact intended gradually to reduce the sales. At the time the joint communique was signed, we made it clear to all parties concerned that our tensions were premised on the PRC's continued adherence to a policy of striving for peaceful reunification with Taiwan. 21:30 Winston Lord: The basic inventory of equipment which Taiwan has or will have in its possession will, in our view, be sufficient to deter any major military action against Taiwan. While arms sales policy aims to enhance the self defense capability of Taiwan, it also seeks to reinforce stability in the region. We will not provide Taiwan with capabilities that might provoke an arms race with the PRC or other countries in the region. 21:55 Winston Lord: Decisions on the release of arms made without proper consideration of the long term impact. both on the situation in the Taiwan Strait and on the region as a whole, would be dangerous and irresponsible. If armed conflict were actually breakout in the Taiwan Strait, the impact on Taiwan, the PRC, and indeed the region, would be extremely serious. The peaceful, stable environment that has prevailed in the Taiwan Strait since the establishment of our current policy in 1979 has promoted progress and prosperity on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The benefits to Taiwan and the PRC have been obvious and I outline these in my statement. All of these achievements would be immediately put at risk in the event of conflict in the Strait. Conflict would also be costly to the United States and to our friends and allies in the region. Any confrontation between the PRC and Taiwan, however limited in scale or scope, would destabilize the military balance in East Asia and constrict the commerce and shipping, which is the economic lifeblood of the region. It would force other countries in the region to reevaluate their own defense policies, possibly fueling an arms race with unforeseeable consequences. It would seriously affect the tens of thousands of Americans who live and work in Taiwan and the PRC. Relations between the US and the PRC would suffer damage regardless of the specific action chosen by the President, in consultation with Congress. For all these reasons, we are firmly determined to maintain a balanced policy, which is best designed to avoid conflict in the area. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)
4/30/20231 hour, 20 minutes, 38 seconds
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We're Not Wrong: Live in Austin!

Join Jen Briney and her We're Not Wrong co-hosts Justin Robert Young and Andrew Heaton as they record in front of a live audience in Austin! The show begins at 6:30pm followed by a meet and greet.  Get Tickets on Eventbrite  Monday April 24th Alamo Drafthouse: 1120 South Lamar Boulevard, Austin, TX 78704
4/22/20233 minutes, 9 seconds
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CD271: RESTRICTing TikTok

TikTok might be banned from the United States. In this episode, hear testimony from TikTok’s CEO and judge for yourself if you think the arrangement that TikTok has negotiated with the U.S. government is enough to ensure that the Chinese government will not have the ability to manipulate the app or acquire your data. We also take a detailed look at the bill that would ban TikTok (by granting vast new authorities to the government) and we examine the big picture arena in which TikTok and the RESTRICT Act are merely sideshows. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the shownotes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD270: The Twitter Files CD230: Pacific Deterrence Initiative CD224: Social Media Censorship CD098: USA Freedom Act: Privatization of the Patriot Act Shou Chew “Meet Shou Zi Chew, TikTok's 40-year-old CEO who's entered the spotlight as he tries to defend the company from growing security concerns and ban threats.” Katie Canales and Sarah Jackson. Mar 22, 2023. Insider. “Shou Zi Chew Net Worth: How Rich Is The TikTok CEO?” Monica Aggarwal. March 23, 2023. International Business Times. Chinese Influence Over TikTok “There is no such thing as a private company in China. THEY DO NOT EXIST” [tweet]. Senator Marco Rubio [@SenMarcoRubio]. Mar 29, 2023. Twitter. Forced Sale “China Says It Will ‘Firmly Oppose’ Forced Sale of TikTok.” Chang Che. Mar 23, 2023. The New York Times. Facebook “Meta fined $276 million over Facebook data leak involving more than 533 million users.” Emma Roth. Nov 28, 2022. The Verge. “Facebook paid GOP firm to malign TikTok.” Taylor Lorenz and Drew Harwell. Mar 30, 2022. The Washington Post. “Lobbying: Top Spenders 2022.” OpenSecrets. “Lobbying: Top Spenders 2021.” OpenSecrets. How the U.S. Has Governed the World Trade System U.S. Government-Corporate Spy Partnerships “Spying on the Homefront: Interview with Mark Klein.” May 15, 2007. Frontline. Iran Nuclear Deal “Iran nuclear deal: What it all means.” Nov 23, 2021. BBC News. Venezuela “Venezuela Slams US Over 'Vulgar' Central Bank Funds Seizure.” Agence France Presse. Apr 17, 2020. Barron’s. Russia-Ukraine “Seizing Russian Assets Is Easier Said Than Done.” Adam Plowright. Feb 12, 2023. Barron’s. China’s Trade and Currency Agreements “'Petrodollar' at risk as TotalEnergies sells LNG to China in yuan.” Jan van der Made. March 31, 2023. RFI. “Brazil, China ditch US dollar for trade payments, favour yuan.” Jamie Seidel. Mar 31, 2023. “China, Brazil Strike Deal To Ditch Dollar For Trade.” Agence France Presse. Mar 29, 2023. Barron’s. “RCEP: A new trade agreement that will shape global economics and politics.” Peter A. Petri and Michael Plummer. Nov 16, 2020. Brookings. The Pacific Deterrence Initiative “ US gains military access to Philippine bases close to Taiwan and South China Sea.” Brad Lendon. Apr 4, 2023. CNN. “The Pacific Deterrence Initiative: Peace Through Strength in the Indo-Pacific.” Sen. Jim Inhofe and Sen. Jack Reed. May 28, 2020. War on the Rocks. Chinese Economy “Remarks by Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva at the 2023 China Development Forum.” Kristalina Georgieva. Mar 26, 2023. International Monetary Fund. Chinese Authoritarianism “China Removes Presidential Term Limits, Enabling Xi Jinping To Rule Indefinitely.” James Doubek. Mar 11, 2018. NPR. “Xi Jinping Is Alone at the Top and Collective Leadership ‘Is Dead.’” Jeremy Page and Chun Han Wong. Oct 25, 2017. The Wall Street Journal. Bills S.686: RESTRICT Act Jen's highlighted PDF Audio Sources US needs to ‘wake up’ about the threat from China: Marco Rubio. March 30, 2023 Fox News Clips Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): Brazil - in our hemisphere, largest country in the western hemisphere south of us - cut a trade deal with China. They’re going to, from now on, trade in their own currencies, get right around the dollar. They’re creating a secondary economy in the world totally independent of the United States. We won’t have to talk about sanctions in 5 years because there will be so many countries transacting in currencies other than the dollar that we won’t have the ability to sanction them. Senator Marco Rubio: Private Companies Do Not Exist in China March 29, 2023 Twitter Mark Warner on the RESTRICT Act March 23, 2023 Fox News Clips Mark Warner: One of the things I always make clear is my beef is with the Communist Party of China. My beef is with Xi Jinping, the Communist Party leader, who treats his own people awfully... and I do think you need to make that distinction. Not about Chinese people. But to deny the authoritarian regime and their record is not based on a factual analysis. TikTok: How Congress Can Safeguard American Data Privacy and Protect Children from Online Harms March 23, 2023 House Committee on Energy and Commerce Watch on YouTube Witness: Shou Chew, CEO, TikTok Clips 7:15 Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): TikTok collects nearly every data point imaginable, from people's location, to what they type and copy, who they talk to, biometric data, and more. Even if they've never been on Tik Tok, your trackers are embedded in sites across the web. Tik Tok surveys us all, and the Chinese Communist Party is able to use this as a tool to manipulate America as a whole. We do not trust Tik Tok will ever embrace American values; values for freedom, human rights, and innovation. Tik Tok has repeatedly chosen the path for more control, more surveillance, and more manipulation. Your platform should be banned. 15:25 Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ): National security experts are sounding the alarm, warning that the Chinese Communist government could require TikTok to compromise device security, maliciously access American user data, promote pro-Communist propaganda, and undermine American interests. Disinformation campaigns could be launched by the by the Chinese Communist government through TikTok, which has already become rife with misinformation and disinformation, illegal activities, and hate speech. A recent report found that 20% of TikTok search results on prominent news topics contain misinformation. 20:35 Shou Chew: Let me start by addressing a few misconceptions about ByteDance, of which we are a subsidiary. ByteDance is not owned or controlled by the Chinese government. It is a private company. 60% of the company is owned by global institutional investors, 20% is owned by the founder, and 20% owned by employees around the world. ByteDance has five board members, three of them are American. Now TikTok itself is not available in mainland China. We're headquartered in Los Angeles and in Singapore, and we have 7000 employees in the US today. 21:50 Shou Chew: The bottom line is this: American data stored on American soil by an American company overseen by American personnel. We call this initiative Project Texas. That's where Oracle is headquartered. Today, U.S. TikTok data is stored by default in Oracle's service. Only vetted personnel operating in a new company called TikTok U.S. Data Security can control access to this data. Now, additionally, we have plans for this company to report to an independent American board with strong security credentials. Now, there's still some work to do. We have legacy U.S. data sitting in our servers in Virginia and in Singapore. We're deleting those and we expect that to be completed this year. When that is done, all protected U.S. data will be under the protection of US law and under the control of the U.S.-led security team. This eliminates the concern that some of you have shared with me that TikTok user data can be subject to Chinese law. 22:55 Shou Chew: We also provide unprecedented transparency and security for the source code for the TikTok app and recommendation engine. Third party validators like Oracle and others will review and validate our source code and algorithms. This will help ensure the integrity of the code that powers what Americans see on our app. We will further provide access to researchers, which helps them study and monitor our content ecosystem. Now we believe we are the only company that offers this level of transparency. 23:35 Shou Chew: The potential security, privacy, [and] content manipulation concerns raised about TikTok are really not unique to us. The same issues apply to other companies. We believe what's needed are clear, transparent rules that apply broadly to all tech companies. Ownership is not at the core of addressing these concerns. 24:20 Shou Chew: TikTok will remain a place for free expression and will not be manipulated by any government. 27:30 Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): Have any moderation tools been used to remove content on TikTok associated with the Uyghur genocide? Yes or no? Shou Chew: We do not remove that kind of content. Tik Tok is a place for freedom of expression. Chairwoman, just like I said, if you use our app, you can go on it and you will see a lot of users around the world expressing content on that topic and many others. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): Thank you. What about the massacre in Tiananmen Square? Yes or no? Shou Chew: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the question. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): The massacre in Tiananmen Square. Shou Chew: That kind of content is available on our platform. You can go and search it. 28:05 Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): I will remind you that making false or misleading statements to Congress is a federal crime. 28:15 Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): Can you say with 100% certainty that ByteDance or the CCP cannot use your company or its divisions to heat content to promote pro-CCP messages for an act of aggression against Taiwan. Shou Chew: We do not promote or remove content at the request of the Chinese government. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): The question is, are you 100% certain that they cannot use your company to promote such messages? Shou Chew: It is our commitment to this committee and all users that we will keep this free from any manipulation by any government. 39:10 Shou Chew: Congressman, since I've been CEO of this company I've not had any discussions with Chinese government officials. 43:55 Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA): The Chinese government has that data. How can you promise that that will move into the United States of America and be protected here? Shou Chew: Congresswoman, I have seen no evidence that the Chinese government has access to that data. They have never asked us; we have not provided it. I've asked that -- Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA): Well, you know what, I find that actually preposterous. Shou Chew: I have looked and I have seen no evidence of this happening. And in order to assure everybody here and all our users, our commitment is to move the data into the United States to be stored on American soil, by an American company, overseen by American personnel. So the risk will be similar to any government going to an American company asking for data. 44:40 Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA): Well I'm one that doesn't believe that there is really a private sector in China. 54:55 Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO): So I want to know from you, and I will give you time to answer this. You have current controls, but the current controls are not working to keep dosinformation mainly from young people, but from Americans in general. What more is is TikTok doing to try to strengthen its review to keep disinformation from coming across to people. Shou Chew: Thank you for the question, Congresswoman. The dangerous misinformation that you mentioned is not allowed on our platform. It violates the -- Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO): I'm sorry to report it is on your platform, though. Shou Chew: Congresswoman, I don't think I can sit here and say that we are perfect in doing this. We do work very hard. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO): How can you make yourself more perfect? I don't want you to say it's not there or you apologize. What can you do to limit it as much as possible, more than what you're doing now? Shou Chew: We invest a significant amount in our content moderation work. I shared that number in my written testimony -- Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO): I know you're investing, but what steps are you taking to improve the AI, or whatever else you're doing, to limit this content? Shou Chew: For example, if you search for certain search terms, we do direct you on TikTok to safety resources. That's one of the things we have done. We will continue to invest in this I recognize and fully aligned with you that this is a problem that faces our industry that we need to really invest and address this. I'm very in alignment. 1:07:05 Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL): Does TikTok share user information from companies...from parent companies...from affiliated...or send user information to...overseas? Shou Chew: In the past, yes, for interoperability purposes. Now, after Project Texas, all protected U.S. data will be stored here with the access controlled by a special team of U.S. personnel. 1:07:55 Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL): I do want a quote from employees that you had, and here's the quote, "everything is seen in China" is really what they said. People who were in touch with the sensitive data were saying that. How do you respond to that? Shou Chew: I disagree with that statement. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL): Well, I know you disagree with that statement. But my point is, how does that happen that employees of the company are saying that in fact, that's not true. Shou Chew: I cannot speak to, I don't know who this person is, so I cannot speak to what the person has or has not said. What I can say is, you know, based on my position in this company, and the responsibility that I have, that statement is just not true. 1:11:00 Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL): Yes or no, ByteDance is required to have a member of the Chinese government on its board with veto power, is that correct? Shou Chew: No, that is not correct. ByteDance owns some Chinese businesses and you're talking about this very special subsidiary that is for Chinese business license -- Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL): Mr. Chew, I'm gonna have to move on. 1:19:20 Shou Chew: First, anything that is violated and harmful, we remove. What I meant to say were [sic] content that is not inherently inherently harmful, like some of the extreme fitness videos about people running 100 miles, is not inherently harmful, but if we show them too much, the experts are telling us that we should disperse them more and make sure that they're not seen too regularly, especially by younger users. 1:33:20 Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH): Do you realize that making false and misleading statements to Congress is a federal crime? Shou Chew: Yes, I do. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH): Okay. 1:39:35 Shou Chew: We do want to be leading in terms of safety of our users, particularly for teenagers. We were the first to launch a 60 minute watch limit. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD): And let's talk about the 60 Minute -- Shou Chew: And I'm very glad to see others in our industry follow. For many of the recommendations, we will study them very seriously. We actually have a series of features. Like for example, if you're under 16, you cannot use a direct messaging feature, because we know we want to protect those younger users. If you're under 16, you cannot go viral by default. If you're under 18, you cannot go live. 1:48:20 Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY): Will you continue to get information from these third parties on its users health? Shou Chew: Get information? We do not get any user health information from third parties. 1:56:20 Shou Chew: The American data has always been stored in Virginia and Singapore in the past. And access of this is on an as required basis by engineers globally — Rep. Tim Walberg (R-SC): As required by who? Shou Chew: By engineers, for business purposes -- Rep. Tim Walberg (R-SC): Engineers? ByteDance? The Communist Party? Shou Chew: No, no. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-SC): Why? How can you say that if they have access -- Shou Chew: This is a business. This is a private business, and like many other businesses, many other American companies, we rely on the global workforce. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-SC): So the global workforce, that includes ByteDance, which is connected directly to the Chinese Communist Party. Shou Chew: That is a mischaracterization that we disagree with. Now, in the future -- Rep. Tim Walberg (R-SC): That's not what we can disagree with. That's a fact. Shou Chew: It's not, unfortunately. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-SC): The CEO of ByteDance and your relationship to them. Shou Chew: Congressman, respectfully, in my opening statement, I said this is a private company, it's owned 60% by global investors. Three out of the five board members on ByteDance are Americans. This is a private business Rep. Tim Walberg (R-SC): You report directly to ByteDance, with a CEO who is a member of Communist Party. Let me move on — Shou Chew: He is not. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-SC): -- I think we got the answer. 2:07:20 Shou Chew: We do not collect body, face, or voice data to identify our users. We do not -- Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): You don't? Shou Chew: No, the only face data that you get that we collect is when you use the filters to have sunglasses on your face. We need to know where your eyes are -- Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): Why do you need to know what the eyes are if you're not seeing if they're dilated? Shou Chew: -- and that data is stored on your local device and deleted after use if you use it for facial. Again, we do not collect body, face, or voice data to identify users. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): I find that hard to believe. 2:30:20 Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL): When the Chinese Communist government bought a share ByteDance, it's been described as the Chinese Communist Government's way of quieter form of control, and that companies have little choice in selling a stake to the government if they want to stay in business, and what I'd like to know is when the Chinese Communist government moved to buy shares of ByteDance, were you informed beforehand, yes or no? Shou Chew: No, Congressman, ByteDance -- Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL): Were you or anyone with TikTok asked for your opinion about the sale of shares of ByteDance to the Chinese Communist government? Yes or no? Shou Chew: It just, this hasn't happened. 2:34:55 Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI): Mr. Chew, have any prior versions of TikTok's app collected precise GPS information from us users, yes or no? Shou Chew: Yes. From back in 2020, about three years ago. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI): Are there currently TikTok users who still hold old versions of the app that collect precise GPS information from U.S. users? Yes or no? Shou Chew: That could be, but that's a small percentage. 2:36:05 Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI): Has TikTok, at any time, sold precise GPS information collected from U.S. users? Yes or no? Shou Chew: We do not sell data to data brokers if that's the question. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI): And you've never done that? Shou Chew: I do not believe so. 2:37:15 Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI): Has TikTok, at any time, provided the Chinese government with either precise GPS information collected from U.S. users or inferences made from that data? Shou Chew: That I can give you a straight answer: no. 2:37:30 Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI): Mr. Chew, even in Congress, even if Congress were to ban Tiktok, I'm concerned that China or others would still have access to US consumer data by purchasing it through data brokers. Will you commit not to sell any of TikTok's data to data brokers now or in the future? Shou Chew: We do not do that. We do not sell data to data brokers now. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI): Will you commit to not do it in the future? Shou Chew: This is -- certain members of industry who do this. I think this has to be broad legislation to help us, the whole industry, address this problem. 3:13:15 Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ): A March 21, Forbes article revealed how troves of personal data of Indian citizens who once used TikTok remained widely accessible to employees at the company and its Beijing based parent ByteDance. A current TikTok employee told Forbes that nearly anyone with basic access to company tools, including employees in China, can easily look up the closest contacts and other sensitive information about any user. This current TikTok employee also said, "If you want to start a movement, if you want to divide people, if you want to do any of the operation to influence the public on the app, you can just use that information to target those groups." Mr. Chew, why would a current TikTok employee say this if it wasn't true? Shou Chew: This is a recent article, I have asked my team to look into it. As far as I know there is, we have rigorous data access protocols. There's really no such thing where anybody can get access to tools. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ): Alright. Shou Chew: So I disagree with a lot of the conclusions of that. 3:18:20 Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL): So Mr. Chew, would TikTok be prepared to divest from ByteDance and Chinese Communist Party ties if the Department of Treasury instructed you all to do so? Shou Chew: Congressman, I said in my opening statement, I think we need to address the problem of privacy. I agree with you. I don't think ownership is the issue here, with a lot of respect. American social companies don't have a good track record with data privacy and user security. I mean, look at Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, just one example. So I do think that you know, it is not about the ownership, it is a lot about making sure we have Project Texas, making sure that we're protecting and firewalling U.S. user data from unwanted foreign access, giving third parties to come in to have a look at this and making sure that everybody is comfortable. We're giving transparency and third party monitoring and that's what we're doing for Project Texas. 4:24:15 Shou Chew: Congressman, we have only one process of removing content on our platform and the process is done by our content moderation team headquartered in Ireland and the US, and we will only remove content that violates our guidelines, and that's something that we audit, or if there's a valid legal order. 4:26:05 Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX): Here are my concerns with TikTok. Your claims are hard to believe. It's no secret to us that TikTok is still under the thumb of CCP influence and, let's be honest, TikTok is indoctrinating our children with divisive, woke, and pro-CCP propaganda. 4:27:15 Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX): Should we plan to have a committee hearing every time, every day, every time there's something brought up so that we can limit the content on TikTok? Should Congress plan to do that Mr. Chew? Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA): Almost 30% of the videos that came up contained misinformation...a high level of misinformation...misinformation...disinformation...misleading information...harmful misinformation...misinformation...misinformation. Why are these dangerous videos falling through the cracks of your company's efforts to enforce its own community guidelines and remove harmful misinformation? 4:30:20 Shou Chew: Yes, any dangerous misinformation is...we partner with third party experts to be able to identify and help us with subject domain expertise. And with their expertise that we recognize, we rely on those to develop policies to recognize and remove could be -- Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA): Well, your efforts I have failed, and they're dangerous. 4:33:10 Shou Chew: I can get back to you on the specifics, but dangerous misinformation is moderated regardless of language. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA): Not to the degree that it needs to be. 4:58:40 Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX): Are keystroke patterns and rhythms part of TikTok gathering the data that is gathered by TikTok? Shou Chew: If you're talking, Congressman, specifically about keystrokes, you know, we do not. We do not engage in keystroke logging to monitor what the users say. It's to identify bots for security purposes, and this is a standard industry practice. 5:24:30 Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX): Here's the main point of concern: China's 2017 National Intelligence law states very clearly, that, "any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with state intelligence work in accordance with the law and maintain the secrecy of all knowledge of state intelligence work." In other words, ByteDance, and also your TikTok employees that live in China, they must cooperate with Chinese intelligence whenever they are called upon. And if they are called upon, they're bound to secrecy. That would include you. So Mr. Chew, if the CCP tells ByteDance to turn over all data that TikTok has collected inside the US, even within Project Texas, do they have to do so according to Chinese law? Shou Chew: Congressman, first, I'm Singaporean. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX): That's fine. But there are employees of yours and ByteDance's in China. Shou Chew: We understand this concern. In my opening statement, we said we hear these concerns, we didn't try to avoid them or you know, trivialize them, we built something where we take the data and put it out of reach. This is what we did, we put it out of reach. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX): But they own you. Shou Chew: No, we put it out of reach by -- Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX): ByteDance owns Tiktok and the CCP owns ByteDance, because the CCP owns everybody in China. So by law, they can make them do whatever they want. And they say that by law, you can't tell anyone about it. So they can make you hand over that data is that correct? Shou Chew: Data is stored here in American soil, by an American company overseen by American -- Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX): Leaked audio from 80 internal TikTok meeting shows that US user data has been repeatedly accessed from China, when you said it hasn't been. And here's the other thing, following back on my colleagues line of questioning. In your own privacy policy, it says that you may share information within your so called "Corporate Group" is ByteDance part of that corporate group? Shou Chew: If you're talking about the share of the entity with the share, like I shared with the previous -- Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX): Is ByteDance part of the corporate group? Shou Chew: ByteDance, as a holding company, is part of the corporate group, yes. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX): Part of the corporate group. Okay, so your own privacy policy says you have to share data with ByteDance. And if the CCP says, Hey ByteDance, you're going to do what we say and you can't tell anyone about it because by law, according to that 2017 National Intelligence law, they have to do it. That's our concern. 5:26:50 Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX): Okay, so my last point is this, I want to say this to all the teenagers out there, and the TikTok influencers who think we're just old and out of touch and don't know what we're talking about, trying to take away your favorite app. You may not care that your data is being accessed now, but it will be one day when you do care about it. And here's the real problem: with data comes power. They can choose what you see and how you see it. They can make you believe things that are not true. They can encourage you to engage in behavior that will destroy your life. Even if it is not happening yet, it could in the future. The long term goal of the Chinese Communist Party is the demise of the American power, and that starts with our youth. At any moment, they could demand that all of TikTok's data be used to design an AI algorithm with the sole purpose of promoting Chinese interests and destroying our society from within. You want to know why Democrats and Republicans have come together on this? That's why we are so concerned. 2:07:55 Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): How do you determine what age they are then? Shou Chew: We rely on age-gating as our key age assur-- Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): Age...? Shou Chew: -gating, which is when you ask the user what age they are. We have also developed some tools where we look at their public profile to go through the videos that they post to see whether-- Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): Well that's creepy. Tell me more about that. Shou Chew: It's public. So if you post a video [and] you choose that video to go public, that's how you get people to see your video. We look at those to see if it matches up the age that you told. Combatting the Economic Threat from China February 7, 2023 House Committee on Financial Services Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Peter E. Harrell, Former Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness, National Security Council and National Economic Council Clips Rep. David Scott (D-GA): I am deeply concerned with the fast growing possibility of a China-led world order. That includes the Chinese military controlling the South Pacific trade route because the South Pacific trade war is now the lifeline of the entire global economy. Peter E. Harrell: I think it's important that we all, as we think about China policy, we all recognize that China, though a serious competitor, and by far our most significant economic competitor, is not 10 feet tall. It's not some sort of mythical beast that we cannot out-compete. I think you've highlighted a couple of the reasons, Congresswoman, why that's the case. They do have high levels of debt. They also have serious long term demographic problems, coming to having a shrinking working age population. Rep. William Timmins (R-SC): The question is what are we going to do to get China to reform their behavior and compete in the global economy and be good actors in the global economy. That's the question. Economic Danger Zone: How America Competes to Win the Future Versus China February 1, 2023 Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Samm Sacks, Senior Fellow, New America & Senior Fellow, Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center Clips Samm Sacks: I mean, to be honest, I think that the grading profiles based on aggregate data is primarily a counterintelligence concern for individuals with national security clearances and the military or access to sensitive information for your average American what that what the impact would probably be more in terms of would that population or individual preference information could that be used to push information that would make say, a spear phishing attack more appealing it might be more likely that someone would would be a would click on a link because it appealed to them based on information that was collected? And so I would say it's, I would look at it from that angle. But why highlighted in my testimony, the more sort of far reaching impact is on economic competitiveness, which is a distinct issue, right? It's on Chinese firms who are able to access diverse international data sets beyond China. What that allows them to do is train AI models that could be more competitive in markets outside of China, where they're competing head to head with US firms. So I would bucket the risk. You have national security issues. You also have missed it targeted misinformation that could be used from that, as well as economic competitiveness between us and Chinese firms. And it's important to sort of be clear about those distinct buckets of risk. Samm Sacks: I guess I'll start with the TikTok issue. But you know, I think that there are two important issues on the table. One is data security, who has access to what, and the other is the potential to push misinformation online, the recommendation algorithm. My understanding is that there is a national security agreement on the table. You know, from a data security standpoint, if Oracle has the data in the cloud, there are multiple third party auditors and an oversight board that reports to CFIUS, I think that that would be pretty much locked down. The question around what kind of information the recommendation system pushes forward is an important one. And that also under this agreement -- it's called Project Texas and I've published about it just a week or so ago -- would be again, subject to verification, source code reviewed, essentially vetted by CFIUS. I think it's important that the public understand what that national security agreement would look like and then have a debate. Is this enough to address those concerns? And to what extent would other social media companies also need to meet them? Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)
4/9/20231 hour, 55 minutes, 7 seconds
Episode Artwork

CD270: The Twitter Files

The First Amendment prohibits the U.S. government from censoring speech. In this episode, drawing from internal Twitter documents known as “the Twitter files” and Congressional testimony from tech executives, former Twitter employees, and journalists, we examine the shocking formal system of censorship in which government employees are using their influence over private companies to indirectly censor speech in a way that they are clearly prohibited from doing directly. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the shownotes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD224: Social Media Censorship CD141: Terrorist Gifts & The Ministry of Propaganda (2017 NDAA) CD113: CISA is Law The Twitter Files "Capsule Summaries of all Twitter Files Threads to Date, With Links and a Glossary.” Matt Taibbi. Jan 4, 2023. Racket News. Matt Taibbi “The Democrats' Disastrous Miscalculation on Civil Liberties.” Matt Taibbi. Mar 12, 2023. Racket News. “#1940 - Matt Taibbi.” Feb 13, 2023. The Joe Rogan Experience. Hunter Biden Laptop Story “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad.” “13. They did the same to Facebook, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. ‘The FBI basically came to us [and] was like, “Hey... you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in 2016 election. There's about to be some kind of dump similar to that”’” [tweet]. Michael Shellenberger [@ShellenbergerMD]. Dec 19, 2022. Twitter. Influence, Propaganda, and Censorship “From the Twitter Files: Pfizer board member Scott Gottlieb secretly pressed Twitter to hide posts challenging his company's massively profitable Covid jabs.” Alex Berenson. Jan 9, 2023. Unreported Truths. “Twitter Aided the Pentagon in Its Covert Online Propaganda Campaign.” Lee Fang. December 20, 2022. The Intercept. “Facebook, Twitter dismantle a U.S. influence campaign about Ukraine.” Aug 24, 2022. The Washington Post. Angus King Takedown Request Spreadsheet Audio Sources Hearing on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, the Twitter Files March 9, 2023 House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government Witnesses: Matt Taibbi, Journalist Michael Shellenberger, Author, Co-founder of the Breakthrough Institute and the California Peace Coalition Clips 17:20 Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): In the run up to the 2020 Presidential election, FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan, in his deposition in Missouri versus Biden, said that he repeatedly, repeatedly, informed Twitter and other social media platforms of the likelihood of a hack and leak operation in the run up to that Presidential election. He did it even though there was no evidence. In fact, he said in his deposition that we hadn't seen anything, no intrusions, no hack, yet he repeatedly told them something was common. Yoel Ross, Head of Trust and Safety at Twitter, testified that he had had regular meetings with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and other folks regarding election security. During these weekly meetings, federal law enforcement agencies communicated that they expected a hack and leak operation. The expectations of a hack and leak operation were discussed throughout 2020. And he was told they would occur in a period shortly before the 2020 Presidential election, likely in October. And finally, he said "I also learned in these meetings, that there were rumors that a hack and leak operation would involve Hunter Biden." So what did the government tell him? A hack and leak operation was coming. How often did the government tell him this? Repeatedly for a year. When did the government say it was going to happen? October of 2020. And who did the government say it would involve? Hunter Biden. 19:35 Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): How did they know? Maybe it's because they had the laptop and they had had it for a year. 21:50 Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): Finally, as if on cue, five days later on October 19, 51 former intel[ligence] officials signed a letter with a now famous sentence "the Biden laptop story has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation." Something that was absolutely false. 25:25 Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI): And the Republicans have brought in two of Elon Musk's public scribes to release cherry-picked, out-of-context emails and screenshots designed to promote his chosen narrative, Elon Musk's chosen narrative, that is now being paroted by the Republicans, because the Republicans think that these witnesses will tell a story that's going to help them out politically. 25:50 Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI): On Tuesday, the majority released an 18 page report claiming to show that the FTC is quote, "harassing" Twitter -- oh my poor Twitter -- including by seeking information about its interactions with individuals before us today. How did the report reach this conclusion? By showing two single paragraphs from a single demand letter, even though the report itself makes clear that there were numerous demand letters with numerous requests, none of which we've been able to see, that are more demand letters and more requests of Twitter. 28:05 Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI): Mr. Chairman, Americans can see through this. Musk is helping you out politically and you're going out of your way to promote and protect him and to praise him for his work. 28:15 Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI): This isn't just a matter of what data was given to these so-called journalists before us now. 31:35 Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI): Mr. Chairman, I'm not exaggerating when I say that you have called before you two witnesses who pose a direct threat to people who oppose them. 32:30 Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI): We know this is because at the first hearing, the Chairman claimed that big government and big tech colluded to shape and mold the narrative and suppress information and censor Americans. This is a false narrative. We're engaging in false narratives here and we are going to tell the truth. 37:35 Michael Shellenberger: I recognize that the law allows Facebook, Twitter, and other private companies to moderate content on their platforms and I support the right of governments to communicate with the public, including to dispute inaccurate information, but government officials have been caught repeatedly pushing social media platforms to censor disfavored users and content. Often these acts of censorship threaten the legal protection social media companies need to exist, Section 230. If government officials are directing or facilitating such censorship, and as one law professor, it raises serious First Amendment questions. It is axiomatic that the government cannot do indirectly what it is prohibited from doing directly. 41:50 Matt Taibbi: My name is Matt Taibbi, I've been a reporter for 30 years and a staunch advocate of the First Amendment. Much of that time was spent at Rolling Stone magazine. Ranking Member Plaskett, I'm not a "so-called" journalist. I've won the National Magazine Award, the I.F Stone Award for Independent Journalism, and I've written 10 books, including four New York Times bestsellers. 45:35 Matt Taibbi: Ordinary Americans are not just being reported to Twitter for deamplification or deplatforming, but to firm's like Pay Pal, digital advertisers like Xandr, and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe. These companies can and do refuse service to law abiding people and businesses whose only crime is falling afoul of a distant, faceless, unaccountable, algorithmic judge. 44:00 Matt Taibbi: Again, Ranking Member Plaskett, I would note that the evidence of Twitter-government relationship includes lists of tens of thousands of names on both the left and right. The people affected include Trump supporters, but also left leaning sites like Consortium and Truthout, the leftist South American channel TeleSUR, the Yellow Vest movement. That, in fact, is a key point of the Twitter files, that it's neither a left nor right issue. 44:40 Matt Taibbi: We learned Twitter, Facebook, Google and other companies developed a formal system for taking in moderation requests from every corner of government from the FBI, the DHS, the HHS, DOD, the Global Engagement Center at [the Department of] State, even the CIA. For every government agency scanning Twitter, there were perhaps 20 quasi private entities doing the same thing, including Stanford's Election Integrity Partnership, Newsguard, the Global Disinformation Index, and many others, many taxpayer funded. A focus of this fast growing network, as Mike noted, is making lists of people whose opinions beliefs, associations, or sympathies are deemed misinformation, disinformation or malinformation. That last term is just a euphemism for true but inconvenient. Undeniably, the making of such lists is a form of digital McCarthyism. 1:01:00 Matt Taibbi: So, a great example of this is a report that the Global Engagement Center sent to Twitter and to members of the media and other platforms about what they called "the Pillars of Russian Disinformation." Now, part of this report is what you would call, I think you would call, traditional hardcore intelligence gathering where they made a reasoned, evidence baseed case that certain sites were linked to Russian influence or linked to the Russian government. In addition to that, however, they also said that sites that quote, "generate their own momentum," and have opinions that are in line with those accounts are part of a propaganda ecosystem. Now, this is just another word for guilt by association. And this is the problem with the whole idea of trying to identify which accounts are actually the Internet Research Agency and which ones are just people who follow those accounts or retweeted them. Twitter initially did not find more than a handful of IRA accounts. It wasn't until they got into an argument with the Senate Select Intelligence Committee that they came back with a different answer. 1:06:00 Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL): Before you became Elon Musk's handpicked journalists, and pardon the oxymoron, you stated this on Joe Rogan's podcast about being spoon fed information. And I quote, "I think that's true of any kind of journalism," and you'll see it behind me here. "I think that's true of any kind of journalism. Once you start getting handed things, then you've lost. They have you at that point and you got to get out of that habit. You just can't cross that line." Do you still believe what you told Mr. Rogan? Yes or no? Yes or no? Matt Taibbi: Yes. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL): Good. Now, you crossed that line with the Twitter files. Matt Taibbi: No. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL): Elon Musk -- It's my time, please do not interrupt me. Crowd: [laughter] Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL): Elon Musk spoon fed you his cherry-picked information, which you must have suspected promotes a slanted viewpoint, or at the very least generates another right wing conspiracy theory. 1:11:20 Matt Taibbi: That moment on the Joe Rogan show, I was actually recounting a section from Seymour Hersh's book, Reporter, where he described a scene where the CIA gave him a story and he was very uncomfortable. He said that "I, who had always gotten the secrets, was being handed the secrets." Again, I've done lots of whistleblower stories. There's always a balancing test that you make when you're given material, and you're always balancing newsworthiness versus the motives of your sources. In this case, the newsworthiness clearly outweighed any other considerations. I think everybody else who worked on the project agrees. 1:14:45 Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC): Richard Stengel, you know who that is? Matt Taibbi: Yes, he's the former, the first head of the Global Engagement Center. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC): I want the American people to hear from him for 30 seconds. Richard Stengel: Basically, every country creates their own narrative story. And, you know, my old job at the State Department was what people used to joke as the "chief propagandist" job. We haven't talked about propaganda. Propaganda. I'm not against propaganda. Every country does it, and they have to do it to their own population. 1:24:20 Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): December 13, the very first letter that the FTC sends to Twitter after the Twitter files, 11 days after the first Twitter file, there have been five of them come out, the FTC's first demand in that first letter after the Twitter files come out is identify all journalists. I'm quoting "identify all journalists and other members of the media" to whom Twitter worked with. You find that scary, Mr. Taibbi, that you got a federal government agency asking a private company who in the press are you talking with? Matt Taibbi: I do find it scary. I think it's none of the government's business which journalists a private company talks to and why. I think every journalist should be concerned about that. And the absence of interest in that issue by my fellow colleagues in the mainstream media is an indication of how low the business has sunk. There was once a real esprit de corps and camaraderie within Media. Whenever one of us was gone after, we all kind of rose to the challenge and supported -- Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): It used to be, used to be the case. Matt Taibbi: Yeah, that is gone now. 1:28:50 Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI): How many emails did Mr. Musk give you access to? Michael Shellenberger: I mean, we went through thousands of emails. Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI): Did he give you access to all of the emails for the time period in which? Michael Shellenberger: We never had a single, I never had a single request denied. And not only that, but the amount of files that we were given were so voluminous that there was no way that anybody could have gone through them beforehand. And we never found an instance where there was any evidence that anything had been taken out. Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI): Okay. So you would believe that you have probably millions of emails and documents, right? That's correct, would you say? Michael Shellenberger: I don't know if -- I think the number is less than that. Matt Taibbi: Millions sounds too high. Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI): Okay. 100,000? Matt Taibbi: That's probably closer. Michael Shellenberger: Probably, yeah. Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI): So 100,000 that both of you were seeing. 1:37:10 Matt Taibbi: There were a couple of very telling emails that wepublished. One was by a lawyer named [Sasha Cardiel???], where the company was being so overwhelmed by requests from the FBI and in fact they, they gave each other a sort of digital High Five after one batch, saying "that was a monumental undertaking to clear all of these," but she noted that she believed that the FBI was essentially doing word searches keyed to Twitter's Terms of Service, looking for violations of the Terms of Service, specifically so that they could make recommendations along those lines, which we found interesting. 1:48:15 Michael Shellenberger: And we haven't talked about Facebook, but we now know that we have the White House demanding that Facebook take down factual information and Facebook doing that. 1:48:25 Michael Shellenberger: And with Matt [Taibbi]'s thread this morning we saw the government contractors demanding the same thing of Twitter: accurate information, they said, that needed to be taken down in order to advance a narrative. 1:49:55 Matt Taibbi: You know, in conjunction with our own research, there's a foundation, the Foundation for Freedom Online, which, you know, there's a very telling video that they uncovered where the Director of Stanford's Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) talks about how CISA, the DHS agency, didn't have the capability to do election monitoring, and so that they kind of stepped in to "fill the gaps" legally before that capability could be amped up. And what we see in the Twitter files is that Twitter executives did not distinguish between DHS or CISA and this group EIP, for instance, we would see a communication that said, from CISA, escalated by EIP. So they were essentially identical in the eyes of the company. EIP is, by its own data, and this is in reference to what you brought up, Mr. Congressman, according to their own data, they significantly targeted more what they call disinformation on the right than on the left, by a factor I think of about ten to one. And I say that as not a Republican at all, it's just the fact of what we're looking at. So yes, we have come to the realization that this bright line that we imagine that exists between, say the FBI or the DHS, or the GEC and these private companies is illusory and that what's more important is this constellation of kind of quasi private organizations that do this work. 1:52:10 Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): What was the first time that Mr. Musk approached you about writing the Twitter files? Matt Taibbi: Again, Congresswoman that would — Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): I just need a date, sir. Matt Taibbi: But I can't give it to you, unfortunately, because this this is a question of sourcing, and I don't give up... I'm a journalist, I don't reveal my sources. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): It's a question of chronology. Matt Taibbi: No, that's a question of sourcing — Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Earlier you said that someone had sent you, through the internet, some message about whether or not you would be interested in some information. Matt Taibbi: Yes. And I refer to that person as a source. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): So you're not going to tell us when Musk first approached you? Matt Taibbi: Again, Congresswoman, you're asking me, you're asking a journalist to reveal a source. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): You consider Mr. Musk to be the direct source of all this? Matt Taibbi: No, now you're trying to get me to say that he is the source. I just can't answer — Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Either he is or he isn't. If you're telling me you can't answer because it's your source, well, then the only logical conclusion is that he is in fact, your source. Matt Taibbi: Well, you're free to conclude that. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Well, sir, I just don't understand. You can't have it both ways. But let's move on because -- Unknown Representative 1: No, he can. He's a journalist. Unknown Representative 2: He can't, because either Musk is the source and he can't talk about it, or Musk is not the source. And if Musk is not the source, then he can discuss [unintelligible] Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): No one has yielded, the gentlelady is out of order, you don't get to speak — Multiple speakers: [Crosstalk] Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): The gentlelady is not recognized...[crosstalk]...he has not said that, what he has said is he's not going to reveal his source. And the fact that Democrats are pressuring him to do so is such a violation of the First Amendment. Multiple speakers: [Crosstalk] Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): I have not yielded time to anybody. I want to reclaim my time. And I would ask the chairman to give me back some of the time because of the interruption. Mr. Chairman, I am asking you, if you will give me the seconds that I lost. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): We will give you that 10 seconds. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Thank you. Now let's talk about another item. When you responded to the ranking member, you said that you had free license to look at everything but yet you yourself posted on your...I guess it's kind of like a web page...I don't quite understand what Substack is, but what I can say is that "in exchange for the opportunity to cover a unique and explosive story, I had to agree to certain conditions." What were those conditions? She asked you that question and you said you had none. But you yourself posted that you had conditions? Matt Taibbi: The conditions, as I've explained multiple times -- Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): No sir, you have not explained, you told her in response to her question that you had no conditions. In fact, you used the word licensed, that you were free to look at all of them. All 100,000 emails. Matt Taibbi: The question was posed, was I free to to write about — Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Sir, did you have any conditions? Matt Taibbi: The condition was that we publish — Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Sir, did you have any conditions? Yes or no? A simple question. Matt Taibbi: Yes. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): All right. Could you tell us what conditions those were? Matt Taibbi: The conditions were an attribution of sources at Twitter and that we break any news on Twitter. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): But you didn't break it on Twitter. Did you send the file that you released today to Twitter first? Matt Taibbi: Did I send the...actually I did, yes. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Did you send it to Twitter first? Matt Taibbi: The Twitter files thread? Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): That was one of the conditions? Yes or no, sir. Matt Taibbi: The Twitter files thread actually did come out first. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): But sir, you said earlier that you had to attribute all the sources to Twitter first. What you released today, did you send that to Twitter first? Matt Taibbi: No, no, no, I post I posted it on Twitter Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): First. First, sir, or did you give it to the Chairman of the Committee or the staff of the Committee first? Matt Taibbi: Well, that's not breaking the story, that's giving...I did give — Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): So you gave all the information that you did not give to the Democrats, you gave it to the Republicans first, then you put it on Twitter? Matt Taibbi: Actually, no, the chronology is a little bit confused. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Well then tell us what the chronology was. Matt Taibbi: I believe the thread came out first. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Where? Matt Taibbi: On Twitter Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): On Twitter. So then you afterwards gave it to the Republicans, and not the Democrats? Matt Taibbi: Yes, because I'm submitting it for the record as my statement. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Did you give it to him in advance? Matt Taibbi: I gave it to them today. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): You gave it to them today, but you still have not given anything to the Democrats. Well, I'll move on. 1:57:20 Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Now in your discussion, in your answer, you also said that you were invited by a friend, Bari Weiss? Michael Shellenberger: My friend, Bari Weiss. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): So this friend works for Twitter, or what is her....? Matt Taibbi: She's a journalist. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Sir, I didn't ask you a question. I'm now asking Mr. Shellenberger a question. Michael Shellenberger: Yes, ma'am, Bari Weiss is a journalist. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): I'm sorry, sir? Michael Shellenberger: She's a journalist. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): She's a journalist. So you work in concert with her? Michael Shellenberger: Yeah. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): Do you know when she first was contacted by Mr. Musk? Michael Shellenberger: I don't know. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): You don't know. So you're in this as a threesome? 2:00:10 Michael Shellenberger: Reading through the whole sweep of events, I do not know the extent to which the influence operation aimed at "pre-bunking" the Hunter Biden laptop was coordinated. I don't know who all was involved. But what we saw was, you saw Aspen and Stanford, many months before then, saying don't cover the material in the hack and leak without emphasizing the fact that it could be disinformation. Okay, so they're priming journalists to not cover a future hack and leak in a way that journalists have long been trained to in the tradition of the Pentagon Papers, made famous by the Steven Spielberg movie. They were saying [to] cover the fact that it probably came from the Russians. Then you have the former General Counsel to the FBI, Jim Baker, and the former Deputy Chief of Staff to the FBI, both arriving at Twitter in the summer of 2020, which I find, what an interesting coincidence. Then, when the New York Post publishes its first article on October 14, it's Jim Baker who makes the most strenuous argument within Twitter, multiple emails, multiple messages saying this doesn't look real. There's people, there's intelligence experts, saying that this could be Russian disinformation. He is the most strenuous person inside Twitter arguing that it's probably Russian disinformation. The internal evaluation by Yoel Roth, who testified in front of this committee, was that it was what it looked to be, which was that it was not a result of a hack and leak operation. And why did he think that? Because the New York Post had published the FBI subpoena taking the laptop in December of 2019. And they published the agreement that the computer store owner had with Hunter Biden that gave him permission, after he abandoned the laptop, to use it however he wanted. So there really wasn't much doubt about the provenance of that laptop. But you had Jim Baker making a strenuous argument. And then, of course, you get to a few days after the October 14 release, you have the president of the United States echoing what these former intelligence community officials were saying, which is that it looked like a Russian influence operation. So they were claiming that the laptop was made public by the conspiracy theory that somehow the Russians got it. And basically, they convinced Yoel Roth of this wild hack and leak story that somehow the Russians stole it, got the information, gave us the computer, it was bizarre. So you read that chain of events, and it appears as though there is an organized influence operation to pre-bunk.... Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): Why do you think they could predict the time, the method, and the person? Why could the FBI predict it? Not only did they predict this, they predicted it, so did the Aspen Institute, seemed like everyone was in the know saying, here's what's gonna happen, we can read the future. Why do you think, how do you think they were able to do that? Michael Shellenberger: I think the most important fact to know is that the FBI had that laptop in December 2019. They were also spying on Rudy Giuliani when he got the laptop and when he gave it to the New York Post. Now, maybe the FBI agents who are going to Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook and Twitter executives and warning of a hack and leak, potentially involving Hunter Biden, maybe those guys didn't have anything to do with the guys that had the top. We don't know that. I have to say, as a newcomer to this, as somebody that thought it was Russian disinformation in 2020, everybody I knew thought it was Russian disinformation, I was shocked to see that series of events going on. It looks to me like a deliberate influence operation. I don't have the proof of it, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty disturbing. 2:14:30 Matt Taibbi: We found, just yesterday, a Tweet from the Virality Project at Stanford, which was partnered with a number of government agencies, and Twitter, where they talked explicitly about censoring stories of true vaccine side effects and other true stories that they felt encouraged hesitancy. Now the imp— Unknown Representative: So these were true. Matt Taibbi: Yes. So they use the word truth three times in this email, and what's notable about this is that it reflects the fundamental misunderstanding of this whole disinformation complex, anti-disinformation complex. They believe that ordinary people can't handle difficult truths. And so they think that they need minders to separate out things that are controversial or difficult for them, and that's again, that's totally contrary to what America is all about, I think. 2:17:30 Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY): Of course we all believe in the First Amendment, but the First Amendment applies to government prohibition of speech, not to private companies. 2:33:00 Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY): And even with, Twitter you cannot find actual evidence of any direct government censorship of any lawful speech. 2:33:20 Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): I'd ask unanimous consent to enter into the record the following email from Clarke Humphrey, Executive Office of the Presidency, White House Office, January 23, 2021. That's the Biden Administration. 4:39am: "Hey folks," this goes to Twitter, "Hey folks, wanted..." they used the term Mr. Goldman just used, "wanted to flag the below Tweet, and I'm wondering if we can get moving on the process for having it removed ASAP." 2:35:40 Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA): He said the First Amendment applies to government censorship of speech and not private companies, but what we're talking about and what the Chairman just illustrated is that what we have here and what your Twitter files show is the Federal government has partnered with private companies to censor and silence the speech of American citizens. 2:29:20 Matt Taibbi: In the first Twitter files, we saw an exchange between Representative Ro Khanna and Vijaya Gadde, where he's trying to explain the basics of speech law in America and she's completely, she seems completely unaware of what, for instance, New York Times v. Sullivan is. There are other cases like Bartnicki v. Vopper, which legalized the publication of stolen material, that's very important for any journalists to know. I think most of these people are tech executives, and they don't know what the law is around speech and around reporting. And in this case, and in 2016, you are dealing with true material. There is no basis to restrict the publication of true material no matter who the sources and how you get it. And journalists have always understood that and this has never been an issue or a controversial issue until very recently. 2:44:40 Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL): Would you agree that there was a black list created in 2021? Michael Shellenberger: Sorry, yes, Jay Bhattacharya, the Stanford Professor, who I don't think anybody considers a fringe epidemiologist, was indeed -- I'm sorry, I couldn't, I didn't piece it together -- he was indeed visibility filtered. Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL): Correct. And so this blacklist that was created, that really was used to de-platform, reduce visibility, create lists internally, where people couldn't even see their profiles, that was used against doctors and scientists who produced information that was contrary to what the CDC was putting out, despite the fact that we now know that what they were publishing had scientific basis and in fact was valid. Michael Shellenberger: Absolutely. And not only that, but these are secret blacklists, so Professor Bhattacharya had no idea he was on it. 43:05 Matt Taibbi: The original promise of the internet was that it might democratize the exchange of information globally. A free internet would overwhelm all attempts to control information flow, its very existence a threat to anti-democratic forms of government everywhere. What we found in the Files was a sweeping effort to reverse that promise and use machine learning and other tools to turn the Internet into an instrument of censorship and social control. Unfortunately, our own government appears to be playing a lead role. We saw the first hints and communications between Twitter executives before the 2020 election, when we read things like "flagged by DHS," or "please see attached report from FBI for potential misinformation." This would be attached to an Excel spreadsheet with a long list of names, whose accounts were often suspended shortly after. #1940 - Matt Taibbi February 13, 2023 The Joe Rogan Experience Clips Matt Taibbi: So this is another topic that is fascinating because it hasn't gotten a ton of press. But if you go back all the way to the early 70s, the CIA and the FBI got in a lot of trouble for various things, the CIA for assassination schemes involving people like Castro, the FBI for, you know, COINTELPRO and other programs, domestic surveillance, and they made changes after Congressional hearings, the Church Committee, that basically said the FBI, from now on, you have to have some kind of reason to be following somebody or investigating somebody, you have to have some kind of criminal predicate and we want you mainly to be investigating cases. But after 9/11 they peeled all this back. There was a series of Attorney General memos that essentially re-fashioned what the FBI does, and now they don't have to be doing crimefighting all the time. Now they can be doing basically 100% intelligence gathering all the time. They can be infiltrating groups for no reason at all, not to build cases, but just to get information. And so that's why they're there. They're in these groups, they're posted up outside of the homes of people they find suspicious, but they're not building cases and they're not investigating crimes. It's sort of like Minority Report there, right? It's pre-crime. Matt Taibbi: We see reports in these files of government agencies sending lists of accounts that are accusing the United States of vaccine corruption. Now, what they're really talking about is pressuring foreign countries to not use generic vaccines. Right. And, you know, that's a liberal issue, that's a progressive issue. The progressives want generic vaccines to be available to poor countries, okay? But, you know, you can use this tool to eliminate speech about that if you want too, right? I think that's what they don't get is that the significance is not who [it's used against], the significance is the tool. What is it capable of doing, right? How easily is it employed, and you know, how often is it used? And they don't focus on that. Joe Rogan: Has anything been surprising to you? Matt Taibbi: A little bit. I think going into it, I thought that the relationship between the security agencies like the FBI and the DHS and companies like Twitter and Facebook, I thought it was a little bit less formal. I thought maybe they had kind of an advisory role. And what we find is that it's not that, it's very formalized. They have a really intense structure that they've worked out over a period of years where they have regular meetings. They have a system where the DHS handles censorship requests that come up from the States and the FBI handles international ones, and they all float all these companies and it's a big bureaucracy. I don't think we expected to see that. Matt Taibbi: I was especially shocked by an email from a staffer for Adam Schiff, the Congressperson, the California Congressman. And they're just outright saying we would like you to suspend the accounts of this journalist and anybody who retweets information about this Committee. You know, I mean, this is a member of Congress. Joe Rogan: Yeah. Matt Taibbi: Right? Most of these people have legal backgrounds. They've got lawyers in the office for sure. And this is the House Intelligence Committee. Protecting Speech from Government Interference and Social Media Bias, Part 1: Twitter’s Role in Suppressing the Biden Laptop Story February 8, 2023 House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Witnesses: Vijaya Gadde, Former Chief Legal Officer, Twitter James Baker, Former Deputy General Counsel, Twitter Yoel Roth, Former Global Head of Trust & Safety, Twitter Annika Collier Navaroli, Former Policy Expert for Content Moderation, Twitter Clips 14:50 Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD): What's more, Twitter's editorial decision has been analyzed and debated ad nauseam. Some people think it was the right decision. Some people think it was the wrong decision. But the key point here is that it was Twitter's decision. Twitter is a private media company. In America, private media companies can decide what to publish or how to curate content however they want. If Twitter wants to have nothing but Tweets commenting on New York Post articles run all day, it can do that. If it makes such tweets mentioning New York Post never see the light of day they can do that too. That's what the First Amendment means. 16:05 Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD): Officially Twitter happens to think they got it wrong about that day or two period. In hindsight, Twitter's former CEO Jack Dorsey called it a mistake. This apology might be a statement of regret about the company being overly cautious about the risks of publishing contents and potentially hacked or stolen materials, or it may reflect craven surrender to a right wing pressure campaign. But however you interpreted the apology just makes the premise of this hearing all the more absurd. The professional conspiracy theorists who are heckling and haranguing this private company have already gotten exactly what they want: an apology. What more do they want? And why does the US Congress have to be involved in this nonsense when we have serious work to do for the American people? 26:20 James Baker: The law permits the government to have complex, multifaceted, and long term relationships with the private sector. Law enforcement agencies and companies can engage with each other regarding, for example, compulsory legal process served on companies, criminal activity that companies, the government, or the public identify, such as crimes against children, cybersecurity threats, and terrorism, and instances where companies themselves are victims of crime. When done properly, these interactions can be beneficial to both sides and in the interest of the public. As you Mr. Chairman, Mr. Jordan, and others have proposed, a potential workable way to legislate in this area may be to focus on the actions of federal government agencies and officials with respect to their engagement with the private sector. Congress may be able to limit the nature and scope of those interactions in certain ways, require enhanced transparency and reporting by the executive branch about its engagements, and require higher level approvals within the executive branch prior to such engagements on certain topics, so that you can hold Senate confirmed officials, for example, accountable for those decisions. In any event, if you want to legislate, my recommendation is to focus first on reasonable and effective limitations on government actors. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 31:05 Vijaya Gadde: On October 14, 2020, The New York Post tweeted articles about Hunter Biden's laptop with embedded images that looked like they may have been obtained through hacking. In 2018, we had developed a policy intended to prevent Twitter from becoming a dumping ground for hacked materials. We applied this policy to the New York Post tweets and blocked links to the articles embedding those sorts of materials. At no point to Twitter otherwise prevent tweeting, reporting, discussing or describing the contents of Mr. Biden's laptop. People could and did talk about the contents of the laptop on Twitter or anywhere else, including other much larger platforms, but they were prevented from sharing the primary documents on Twitter. Still, over the course of that day, it became clear that Twitter had not fully appreciated the impact of that policy on free press and others. As Mr. Dorsey testified before Congress on multiple occasions, Twitter changed its policy within 24 hours and admitted its initial action was wrong. This policy revision immediately allowed people to tweet the original articles with the embedded source materials, relying on its long standing practice not to retroactively apply new policies. Twitter informed the New York Post that it could immediately begin tweeting when it deleted the original tweets, which would have freed them to retweet the same content again. The New York Post chose not to delete its original tweets, so Twitter made an exception after two weeks to retroactively apply the new policy to the Post's tweets. In hindsight, Twitter should have reinstated the Post account immediately. 35:35 Yoel Roth: In 2020, Twitter noticed activity related to the laptop that at first glance bore a lot of similarities to the 2016 Russian hack and leak operation targeting the DNC, and we had to decide what to do. And in that moment with limited information, Twitter made a mistake. 36:20 Yoel Roth: It isn't obvious what the right response is to a suspected, but not confirmed, cyber attack by another government on a Presidential Election. I believe Twitter erred in this case because we wanted to avoid repeating the mistakes of 2016. 38:41 Annika Collier Navaroli: I joined Twitter in 2019 and by 2020 I was the most senior expert on Twitter's U.S. Safety Policy Team. My team's mission was to protect free speech and public safety by writing and enforcing content moderation policies around the world. These policies include things like abuse, harassment, hate speech, violence and privacy. 41:20 Annika Collier Navaroli: With January 6 and many other decisions, content moderators like me did the very best that we could. But far too often there are far too few of us and we are being asked to do the impossible. For example, in January 2020 after the US assassinated an Iranian General and the US president decided to justify it on Twitter, management literally instructed me and my team to make sure that World War III did not start on the platform. 1:08:20 Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC): Did the US government ever contact you or anyone at Twitter to censor or moderate certain Tweets, yes or no? Vijaya Gadde: We receive legal demands to remove content from the platform from the US government and governments all around the world. Those are published on a third party website. 1:12:00 Yoel Roth: The number one most influential part of the Russian active measures campaign in 2016 was the hack and leak targeting John Podesta. It would have been foolish not to consider the possibility that they would run that play again. 1:44:45 Yoel Roth: I think one of the key failures that we identified after 2016 was that there was very little information coming from the government and from intelligence services to the private sector. The private sector had the power to remove bots and to take down foreign disinformation campaigns, but we didn't always know where to look without leads supplied by the intelligence community. That was one of the failures highlighted in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report and in the Mueller investigation, and that was one of the things we set out to fix in 2017. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA): On September 8 2019, at 11:11pm, Donald Trump heckled two celebrities on Twitter -- John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen -- and referred to them as "the musician John Legend and his filthy mouth wife." Ms. Teigen responded to that email [Tweet] at 12:17am. And according to notes from a conversation with you, Ms. Navaroli's, counsel, your counsel, the White House almost immediately thereafter contacted Twitter to demand the tweet be taken down. Is that accurate? Annika Collier Navaroli: Thank you for the question. In my role, I was not responsible for receiving any sort of request from the government. However, what I was privy to was my supervisors letting us know that we had received something along those lines or something of a request. And in that particular instance, I do remember hearing that we had received a request from the White House to make sure that we evaluated this tweet, and that they wanted it to come down because it was a derogatory statement towards the President. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA): They wanted it to come down. They made that request. Annika Collier Navaroli: To my recollection, yes. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA): I thought that was an inappropriate action by a government official, let alone the White House. But it wasn't Joe Biden, about his son's laptop. It was Donald Trump because he didn't like what Chrissy Teigen had to say about him, is that correct? Annika Collier Navaroli: Yes, that is correct. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA): My, my, my. 1:45:15 Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH): Mr. Roth, were those communication channels useful to Twitter as they work to combat foreign influence operations? Yoel Roth: Absolutely, I would say they were one of the most essential pieces of how Twitter prepared for future elections. 2:42:35 Rep. Becca Balint (D-VA): Ms. Gadde, did anyone from the Biden campaign or the Democratic National Committee direct Twitter to remove or take action against the New York Post story? Vijaya Gadde: No. 4:15:45 Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): And now we forward to 2020. And earlier you had testified that you were having regular interactions with National Intelligence, Homeland Security and the FBI. Yoel Roth: Yes, I did. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): And primarily to deal with foreign interference? Yoel Roth: Primarily, but I would say -- Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): But you had said earlier your contact with Agent Chang was primarily with foreign interference? Yoel Roth: Yes, that's right. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): And these were emails....were there meetings? Yoel Roth: Yes, Twitter met quarterly with the FBI Foreign Interference Task Force and we had those meetings running for a number of years to share information about malign foreign interference. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): Agents from Homeland Security or Intelligence, or just primarily the FBI? Yoel Roth: Our primary contacts were with the FBI and in those quarterly meetings, they were, I believe, exclusively with FBI personnel. 4:18:05 Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): Earlier today you testified that you were following national security experts on Twitter as a reason to take down the New York Post story on Hunter Biden's laptop. Yoel Roth: Yes, sir, I did. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): So after 2016, you set up all these teams to deal with Russian interference, foreign interference, you're having regular meetings with the FBI, you have connections with all of these different government agencies, and you didn't reach out to them once? Yoel Roth: Is that question in reference to the day of the New York Post article? Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): Yeah. Yoel Roth: That's right. We generally did not reach out to the FBI to consult on content moderation decisions, especially where they related to domestic activity. It's not that we wouldn't have liked that information, we certainly would have. It's that I don't believe it would have been appropriate for us to consult with the FBI. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): In December of 2020, you did a declaration to the Federal Election Commission that the intelligence community expected a leak and a hack operation involving Hunter Biden. Recently, Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that the FBI warned Meta that there was a high effort of Russian propaganda including language specific enough to fit the Hunter Biden laptop security story. You're talking to these people for weeks and months, years prior to this leaking. They have specifically told you in October, that there's going to be a leak potentially involving Hunter Biden's laptop. They legitimately and literally prophesized what happened. And you didn't contact any of them? Yoel Roth: No, sir, I did not. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): Did they reach out to you? Yoel Roth: On and around that day, to the best of my recollection, no, they did not. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): After the story was taken down and you guys did it, and you personally disagreed with it Ms. Gadde, did you contact them and say is "Hey, is this what you were talking about?" Yoel Roth: If that question was directed to me. No, I did not. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): Ms. Gadde, did you talk to anybody from the FBI? Vijaya Gadde: Not to the best of my recollection. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): So I guess my question is, what is the point of this program? You have constant communication, they're set up for foreign interference. They've legitimately warned you about this very specific thing. And then all of a sudden, everybody just walks away? 5:18:55 Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM): We are devoting an entire day to this conspiracy theory involving Twitter. Now, the mission of this committee is to root out waste, fraud and abuse and to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people. And if you need any evidence of waste, fraud and abuse, how about the use of this committee's precious time, space and resources to commit to this hearing? 5:58:25 Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO): Back to Mr. Roth, is it true that Twitter whitelisted accounts for the Department of Defense to spread propaganda about its efforts in the Middle East? Did they give you a list of accounts that were fake accounts and asked you to whitelist those accounts? Yoel Roth: That request was made of Twitter. To be clear, when I found out about that activity, I was appalled by it. I undid the action and my team exposed activity originating from the Department of Defense's campaign publicly. We've shared that data with the world and research about it has been published. 6:07:20 Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): Mr. Roth, I want to go back to your statement in your declaration to the FEC "I learned that a hack and leak operation would involve Hunter Biden," who did you learn that from? Yoel Roth: My recollection is it was mentioned by another technology company in one of our joint meetings, but I don't recall specifically whom. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): You don't know the person's name? Yoel Roth: I don't even recall what company they worked at. No, this was a long time ago. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): And you're confident that it was from a tech company, not from someone from the government? Yoel Roth: To the best of my recollection, yes. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): Did anyone from the government, in these periodic meetings you had, did they ever tell you that a hack and leak operation involving Hunter Biden was coming? Yoel Roth: No. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): Did Hunter Biden's name come up at all these meetings? Yoel Roth: Yes, his name was raised in those meetings, but not by the government to the best of my recollection. 6:09:30 Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): Mr. Roth, why were you reluctant, based on what I read in the Twitter files, why were you reluctant to work with the GEC? Yoel Roth: It was my understanding that the GEC, or the Global Engagement Center of the State Department, had previously engaged in at least what some would consider offensive influence operations. Not that they were offensive as in bad, but offensive as in they targeted entities outside of the United States. And on that basis, I felt that it would be inappropriate for Twitter to engage with a part of the State Department that was engaged in active statecraft. We were dedicated to rooting out malign foreign interference no matter who it came from. And if we found that the American government was engaged in malign foreign interference, we'd be addressing that as well. 6:13:50 Rep. James Comer (R-KY): Twitter is a private company, but they enjoy special liability protections, Section 230. They also, according to the Twitter files, receive millions of dollars from the FBI, which is tax dollars, I would assume. And that makes it a concern of the Oversight Committee. Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior? October 28, 2020 Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Witnesses: Jack Dorsey, [Former] CEO, Twitter Sundar Pichai, CEO, Alphabet and Google Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook [Meta] Clips 2:20:40 Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): The issue is not that the companies before us today are taking too many posts down. The issue is that they’re leaving too many dangerous posts up. In fact, they’re amplifying harmful content so that it spreads like wildfire and torches our democracy. 3:15:40 Mark Zuckerberg: Senator, as I testified before, we relied heavily on the FBI, his intelligence and alert status both through their public testimony and private briefings. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): Did the FBI contact you, sir, than your co star? It was false. Mark Zuckerberg: Senator not about that story specifically. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): Why did you throttle it back? Mark Zuckerberg: They alerted us to be on heightened alert around a risk of hack and leak operations around a release and probe of information. Emerging Trends in Online Foreign Influence Operations: Social Media, COVID-19, and Election Security June 18, 2020 Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Security Policy at Facebook Nick Pickles, Director of Global Public Policy Strategy and Development at Twitter Richard Salgado, Director for Law Enforcement and Information Security at Google 1:40:10 Nathaniel Gleicher: Congressman, the collaboration within industry and with government is much, much better than it was in 2016. I think we have found the FBI, for example, to be forward leaning and ready to share information with us when they see it. We share information with them whenever we see indications of foreign interference targeting our election. The best case study for this was the 2018 midterms, where you saw industry, government and civil society all come together, sharing information to tackle these threats. We had a case on literally the eve of the vote, where the FBI gave us a tip about a network of accounts where they identified subtle links to Russian actors. Were able to investigate those and take action on them within a matter of hours. 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)
3/27/20231 hour, 25 minutes, 47 seconds
Episode Artwork

CD269: NDAA 2023/Plan Ecuador

The annual war authorization (NDAA) is an excellent opportunity to examine our military’s roles and goals in the world. In this episode, learn about how much of our tax money Congress provided the Defense Department, including how much of that money is classified, how much more money was dedicated to war than was requested, and what they are authorized to use the money for. This episode also examines our Foreign Military Financing programs with a deep dive into a new partner country: Ecuador. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the shownotes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD244: Keeping Ukraine CD243: Target Nicaragua CD230: Pacific Deterrence Initiative CD229: Target Belarus CD218: Minerals are the New Oil CD191: The “Democracies” Of Elliott Abrams CD187: Combating China CD176: Target Venezuela: Regime Change in Progress CD172: The Illegal Bombing of Syria CD147: Controlling Puerto Rico CD128: Crisis in Puerto Rico CD108: Regime Change CD102: The World Trade Organization: COOL? World Trade System “IMF vs. WTO vs. World Bank: What’s the Difference?” James McWhinney. Oct 10, 2021. Investopedia. The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World. Sally Denton. Simon and Schuster: 2017. Littoral Combat Ships “The Pentagon Saw a Warship Boondoggle. Congress Saw Jobs.” Eric Lipton. Feb 4, 2023. The New York Times. “BAE Systems: Summary.” Open Secrets. Foreign Military Sales Program “Written Testimony of Assistant Secretary of State Jessica Lewis before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on the ‘Future of Security Sector Assistance.’” March 10, 2022. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Ecuador “Ecuador - Modern history.” Encyclopedia Britannica. “Ecuador Tried to Curb Drilling and Protect the Amazon. The Opposite Happened.” Catrin Einhorn and Manuela Andreoni. Updated Jan 20, 2023. The New York Times. “Ecuador: An Overview,” [IF11218]. June S. Beittel and Rachel L. Martin. Sep 9, 2022. Congressional Research Service. “Ecuador: In Brief,” [R44294]. June S. Beittel. Updated Feb 13, 2018. Congressional Research Service. “Ecuador’s 2017 Elections,” [IF10581] June S. Beittel. Updated April 20, 2017. Congressional Research Services. Debt Default “Ecuador’s Debt Default: Exposing a Gap in the Global Financial Architecture.” Sarah Anderson and Neil Watkins. Dec 15, 2008. Institute for Policy Studies. “Ecuador: President Orders Debt Default.” Simon Romero. Dec 12, 2008. The New York Times. Violence and Drugs “Ecuador’s High Tide of Drug Violence.” Nov 4, 2022. International Crisis Group. “Lasso will propose to the US an Ecuador Plan to confront drug trafficking.” Jun 8, 2022. “‘Es hora de un Plan Ecuador’: el presidente Lasso dice en entrevista con la BBC que su país necesita ayuda para enfrentar el narcotráfico.” Vanessa Buschschluter. Nov 4, 2021. BBC. “Ecuador declares state of emergency over crime wave.” Oct 19, 2021. Deutsche Welle. Mining “An Ecuadorean Town Is Sinking Because of Illegal Mining.” Updated Mar 28, 2022. CGTN America. “New Mining Concessions Could Severely Decrease Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Ecuador.” Bitty A. Roy. Jun 19, 2018. Tropical Conservation Science. Foreign Infrastructure Investments “Ecuador prioritizing 4 road projects involving more than US$1bn.” Nov 28, 2022. BNamericas. “USTDA Expands Climate Portfolio in Ecuador.” May 27, 2022. U.S. Trade and Development Agency. “Ecuador’s controversial and costliest hydropower project prompts energy rethink.” Richard Jiménez and Allen Panchana. Dec 16, 2021. Diálogo Chino. “Ecuador’s Power Grid Gets a Massive Makeover.” Frank Dougherty. Mar 1, 2021. Power. Fishing “China fishing fleet defied U.S. in standoff on the high seas.” Joshua Goodman. Nov 2, 2022. Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Report to Congress: National 5-year Strategy for Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing (2022-2026).” October 2022. U.S. Interagency Working Group on IUU Fishing. “United States Launches Public-Private Partnership In Peru And Ecuador To Promote Sustainable, Profitable Fishing Practices.” Oct 7, 2022. U.S. Agency for International Development. “US Coast Guard Conducts High Seas Boarding for First Time in the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization Convention Area.” U.S. Coast Guard. Oct 5, 2022. Diálogo Americas. “Walmart, Whole Foods, and Slave-Labor Shrimp.” Adam Chandler. Dec 16, 2015. The Atlantic. South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) Cutter Ships 22 USC Sec. 2321j, Update “Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress,” [R42567]. Ronald O'Rourke. Updated August 30, 2022. Congressional Research Service. Julian Assange “How Julian Assange became an unwelcome guest in Ecuador's embassy.” Luke Harding et al. May 15, 2018. The Guardian. “Ecuador Expels U.S. Ambassador Over WikiLeaks Cable.” Simon Romero. Apr 5, 2011. The New York Times. Chevron Case “Controversial activist Steven Donziger is a folk hero to the left, a fraud to Big Oil.” Zack Budryk. Dec 27, 2022. The Hill. Venezuela “Ecuador: Lasso Calls for Increased Pressure on Venezuela.” Apr 14, 2021. teleSUR. China Trade Deal “Ecuador reaches trade deal with China, aims to increase exports, Lasso says.” Jan 3, 2023. Reuters. “On the Ecuador-China Debt Deal: Q&A with Augusto de la Torre.” Sep 23, 2022. The Dialogue. “Ecuador sees trade deal with China at end of year, debt talks to begin.” Alexandra Valencia. Feb 5, 2022. Reuters. Business Reforms “Will Ecuador’s Business Reforms Attract Investment?” Ramiro Crespo. Mar 3, 2022. Latin American Advisor. U.S. Ecuador Partnership “Why Ecuador’s president announced his re-election plans in Washington.” Isabel Chriboga. Dec 22, 2022. The Atlantic Council. “USMCA as a Framework: New Talks Between U.S., Ecuador, Uruguay.” Jim Wiesemeyer. Dec 21, 2022. AgWeb. “US seeks to bolster Ecuador ties as China expands regional role.” Dec 19, 2022. Al Jazeera. “As China’s influence grows, Biden needs to supercharge trade with Ecuador.” Isabel Chiriboga. Dec 19, 2022. The Atlantic Council. “The United States and Ecuador to Explore Expanding the Protocol on Trade Rules and Transparency under the Trade and Investment Council (TIC).” Nov 1, 2022. Office of the United States Trade Representative. “A delegation of U.S. senators visits Ecuador.” Oct 19, 2022. U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Ecuador. Referendum “Guillermo Lasso Searches for a Breakthrough.” Sebastián Hurtado. Dec 19, 2022. Americas Quarterly. State Enterprise Resignation “Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso asks heads of all state firms to resign.” Jan 18, 2023. Buenos Aires Times. Lithium Triangle “Why the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act Could Benefit Both Mining and Energy in Latin America.” John Price. Aug 22, 2022. Americas Market Intelligence. Colombia “Latin America’s New Left Meets Davos.” Catherine Osborn. Jan 20, 2023. Foreign Policy. “How Colombia plans to keep its oil and coal in the ground.” María Paula Rubiano A. Nov 16, 2022. BBC. “Colombia: Background and U.S. Relations.” June S. Beittel. Updated December 16, 2021. Congressional Research Service. Tax Reform “In Colombia, Passing Tax Reform Was the Easy Part.” Ricardo Ávila. Nov 23, 2022. Americas Quarterly. “U.S. Government Must Take Urgent Action on Colombia’s Tax Reform Bill.” Cesar Vence and Megan Bridges. Oct 26, 2022. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Letter from ACT et. al. to Sec. Janet Yellen, Sec. Gina Raimondo, and Hon. Katherine Tai.” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Relationship with U.S. “Does glyphosate cause cancer?” Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Jul 8, 2021. City of Hope. “Colombian Intelligence Unit Used U.S. Equipment to Spy on Politicians, Journalists.” Kejal Vyas. May 4, 2020. The Wall Street Journal. “Exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides and risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma: A meta-analysis and supporting evidence.” Luoping Zhang et al. Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research Vol. 781, July–September 2019, pp. 186-206. “Colombia to use drones to fumigate coca leaf with herbicide.” Jun 26, 2018. Syria “Everyone Is Denouncing the Syrian Rebels Now Slaughtering Kurds. But Didn’t the U.S. Once Support Some of Them?” Mehdi Hasan. Oct 26, 2019. The Intercept. “U.S. Relations With Syria: Bilateral Relations Fact Sheet.” Jan 20, 2021. U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. “Behind the Sudden Death of a $1 Billion Secret C.I.A. War in Syria.” Mark Mazzetti et al. Aug 2, 2017. The New York Times. “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.” C. J. Chivers and Eric Schmitt. Mar 24, 2013. The New York Times. Government Funding “House Passes 2023 Government Funding Legislation.” Dec 23, 2022. House Appropriations Committee Democrats. “Division C - Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2023.” Senate Appropriations Committee. Jen’s highlighted version “Division K - Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2023.” Senate Appropriations Committee. Laws H.R.2617 - Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 H.R.7776 - James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 Jen’s highlighted version Bills H.R. 8711 - United States-Ecuador Partnership Act of 2022 S. 3591 - United States-Ecuador Partnership Act of 2022 Audio Sources A conversation with General Laura J. Richardson on security across the Americas January 19, 2023 The Atlantic Council Clips 17:51 Gen. Laura Richardson: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that has been ongoing for the last over a decade in this region, 21 of 31 countries have signed on to this Belt and Road Initiative. I could take Argentina last January, the most recent signatory on to the Belt and Road Initiative, and $23 billion in infrastructure projects that signatory and signing on to that. But again, 21 of 31 countries. There are 25 countries that actually have infrastructure projects by the PRC. Four that aren't signatories of the BRI, but they do actually have projects within their countries. But not just that. Deepwater ports in 17 countries. I mean, this is critical infrastructure that's being invested in. I have the most space enabling infrastructure in the Western Hemisphere in Latin America and the Caribbean. And I just caused question, you know, why? Why is all of this critical infrastructure being invested in so heavily? In terms of telecommunications, 5G, I've got five countries with the 5G backbone in this region. I've got 24 countries with the PRC Huawei 3G-4G. Five countries have the Huawei backbone infrastructure. If I had to guess, they'll probably be offered a discount to upgrade and stay within the same PRC network. And so very, very concerning as we work with our countries. 20:00 Gen. Laura Richardson: What I'm starting to see as well is that this economy...the economy impacts to these partner nations is affecting their ability to buy equipment. And you know, as I work with our partner nations, and they invest in U.S. equipment, which is the best equipment, I must say I am a little biased, but it is the best equipment, they also buy into the supply chain of spare parts, and all those kinds of things that help to sustain this piece of equipment over many, many years. So in terms of the investment that they're getting, and that equipment to be able to stay operational, and the readiness of it, is very, very important. But now these partner nations, due to the impacts of their economy, are starting to look at the financing that goes along with it. Not necessarily the quality of the equipment, but who has the best finance deal because they can't afford it so much up front. 24:15 Gen. Laura Richardson: This region, why this region matters, with all of its rich resources and rare earth elements. You've got the lithium triangle which is needed for technology today. 60% of the world's lithium is in the lithium triangle: Argentina Bolivia, Chile. You just have the largest oil reserves -- light, sweet, crude -- discovered off of Guyana over a year ago. You have Venezuela's resources as well with oil, copper, gold. China gets 36% of its food source from this region. We have the Amazon, lungs of the world. We have 31% of the world's freshwater in this region too. I mean, it's just off the chart. 28:10 Gen. Laura Richardson: You know, you gotta question, why are they investing so heavily everywhere else across the planet? I worry about these dual-use state-owned enterprises that pop up from the PRC, and I worry about the dual use capability being able to flip them around and use them for military use. 33:30 Interviewer: Russia can't have the ability to provide many of these countries with resupply or new weapons. I mean, they're struggling to supply themselves, in many cases, for Ukraine. So is that presenting an opportunity for maybe the US to slide in? Gen. Laura Richardson: It is, absolutely and we're taking advantage of that, I'd like to say. So, we are working with those countries that have the Russian equipment to either donate or switch it out for United States equipment. or you Interviewer: Are countries taking the....? Gen. Laura Richardson: They are, yeah. 45:25 Gen. Laura Richardson: National Guard State Partnership Program is huge. We have the largest National Guard State Partnership Program. It has come up a couple of times with Ukraine. Ukraine has the State Partnership Program with California. How do we initially start our great coordination with Ukraine? It was leveraged to the National Guard State Partnership Program that California had. But I have the largest out of any of the CoCOMMs. I have 24 state partnership programs utilize those to the nth degree in terms of another lever. 48:25 Gen. Laura Richardson: Just yesterday I had a zoom call with the U.S. Ambassadors from Argentina and Chile and then also the strategy officer from Levant and then also the VP for Global Operations from Albermarle for lithium, to talk about the lithium triangle in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile and the companies, how they're doing and what they see in terms of challenges and things like that in the lithium business and then the aggressiveness or the influence and coercion from the PRC. House Session June 15, 2022 Clips Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA): The GAO found that the LCS had experienced engine failure in 10 of the 11 deployments reviewed. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA): One major reason for the excessive costs of LCS: contractors. Unlike other ships where sailors do the maintenance, LCS relies almost exclusively on contractors who own and control the technical data needed to maintain and repair. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA): Our top priority and national defense strategy is China and Russia. We can't waste scarce funds on costly LCS when there are more capable platforms like destroyers, attack submarines, and the new constellation class frigate. A review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 funding request and budget justification for the Navy and Marine Corps May 25, 2022 Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense Watch full hearing on YouTube Witnesses: Carlos Del Toro, Secretary, United States Navy Admiral Michael M. Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations General David H. Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps Clips Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS): I think the christening was just a few years ago...maybe three or so. So the fact that we christened the ship one year and a few years later we're decommissioning troubles me. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS): Are there not other uses, if there's something missing from this class of ships, that we would avoid decommissioning? Adm. Michael Gilday: We need a capable, lethal, ready Navy more than we need a larger Navy that's less capable, less lethal, and less ready. And so, unfortunately the Littoral combat ships that we have, while the mechanical issues were a factor, a bigger factor was was the lack of sufficient warfighting capability against a peer competitor in China. Adm. Michael Gilday: And so we refuse to put an additional dollar against that system that wouldn't match the Chinese undersea threat. Adm. Michael Gilday: In terms of what are the options going forward with these ships, I would offer to the subcommittee that we should consider offering these ships to other countries that would be able to use them effectively. There are countries in South America, as an example, as you pointed out, that would be able to use these ships that have small crews. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary ofDefense Lloyd J. Austin III Remarks to Traveling Press April 25, 2022 China's Role in Latin America and the Caribbean March 31, 2022 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Watch full hearing on YouTube Witnesses: Kerri Hannan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy, Policy, Planning, and Coordination, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State Peter Natiello, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Latin America and Caribbean Bureau, U.S. Agency for International Development Andrew M. Herscowitz, Chief Development Officer, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation Margaret Myers, Director of the Asia & Latin America Program, Inter-American Dialogue Evan Ellis, Senior Associate, Center for Strategic and International Studies Clips 24:20 Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA): Ecuador for example, nearly 20 years ago, former President Rafael Correa promised modernization for Ecuador, embracing Chinese loans and infrastructure projects in exchange for its oil. Fast forward to today. Ecuador now lives with the Chinese financed and built dam that's not fully operational despite being opened in 2016. The Coca Codo Sinclair Dam required over 7000 repairs, it sits right next to an active volcano, and erosion continues to damage the dam. The dam also caused an oil spill in 2020 that has impacted indigenous communities living downstream. And all that's on top of the billions of dollars that Ecuador still owes China. 56:40 Peter Natiello: One example that I could provide is work that we've done in Ecuador, with Ecuadorian journalists, to investigate, to analyze and to report on the issue of illegal and unregulated fishing off Ecuador's coast. And we do that because we want to ensure that Ecuadorian citizens have fact-based information upon which they can make decisions about China and countries like China, and whether they want their country working with them. 1:23:45 Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): There are 86 million tons of identified lithium resources on the planet. On the planet. 49 million of the 86 million are in the Golden Triangle. That's Argentina, Bolivia, Chile. So what's our plan? 1:54:10 Evan Ellis: In security engagement, the PRC is a significant provider of military goods to the region including fighters, transport aircraft, and radars for Venezuela; helicopters and armored vehicles for Bolivia; and military trucks for Ecuador. 2:00:00 Margaret Myers: Ecuador is perhaps the best example here of a country that has begun to come to terms with the challenges associated with doing business with or interacting from a financial or investment perspective with China. And one need only travel the road from the airport to Quito where every day there are a lot of accidents because of challenges with the actual engineering of that road to know why many Ecuadorians feel this way. Examining U.S. Security Cooperation and Assistance March 10, 2022 Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Watch Full Hearing on YouTube Witnesses: Jessica Lewis, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State Mara Elizabeth Karlin, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Capabilities, U.S. Department of Defense Clips 1:23:17 Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): According to one study, the DoD manages 48 of the 50 new security assistance programs that were created after the 9/11 attacks and out of the 170 existing security assistance programs today, DOD manages 87, a whopping 81% of those programs. That is a fundamental transition from the way in which we used to manage security assistance. And my worry is that it takes out of the equation the people who have the clearest and most important visibility on the ground as to the impact of that security assistance and those transfers. Sen. Chris Murphy: We just spent $87 billion in military assistance over 20 years in Afghanistan. And the army that we supported went up in smoke overnight. That is an extraordinary waste of U.S. taxpayer dollars, and it mirrors a smaller but similar investment we made from 2003 to 2014 in the Iraqi military, who disintegrated when they faced the prospect of a fight against ISIS. Clearly, there is something very wrong with the way in which we are flowing military assistance to partner countries, especially in complicated war zones. You've got a minute and 10 seconds, so maybe you can just preview some lessons that we have learned, or the process by which we are going to learn lessons from all of the money that we have wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jessica Lewis: Senator, I'll be brief so that Dr. Karlin can jump in as well. I think we do need to learn lessons. We need to make sure, as I was just saying to Senator Cardin, that when we provide security assistance, we also look not just at train and equip, but we look at other things like how the Ministries of Defense operate? Is their security sector governant? Are we creating an infrastructure that's going to actually work? Mara Elizabeth Karlin: Thank you for raising this issue, Senator. And I can assure you that the Department of Defense is in the process of commissioning a study on this exact issue. I will just say in line with Assistant Secretary Lewis, it is really important that when we look at these efforts, we spend time assessing political will and we do not take an Excel spreadsheet approach to building partner militaries that misses the higher order issues that are deeply relevant to security sector governance, that will fundamentally show us the extent to which we can ultimately be successful or not with a partner. Thank you. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): You know, in Iraq, last time I was there, we were spending four times as much money on security assistance as we were on non-security assistance. And what Afghanistan taught us amongst many things, is that if you have a fundamentally corrupt government, then all the money you're flowing into the military is likely wasted in the end because that government can't stand and thus the military can't stand. So it also speaks to rebalancing the way in which we put money into conflict zones, to not think that military assistance alone does the job. You got to be building sustainable governments that serve the public interests in order to make your security assistance matter and be effective. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. National Security Challenges and U.S. Military Activity in North and South America March 8, 2022 House Armed Services Committee Watch full hearing on YouTube Witnesses: Melissa G. Dalton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs Office of the Secretary of Defense General Laura Richardson, USA, Commander, U.S. Southern Command General Glen D. VanHerck, USAF, Commander, U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command Clips 17:30 General Laura Richardson: Colombia, for example, our strongest partner in the region, exports security by training other Latin American militaries to counter transnational threats. 1:20:00 General Laura Richardson: If I look at what PRC (People's Republic of China) is investing in the [SOUTHCOM] AOR (Area of Responsibility), over a five year period of 2017 to 2021: $72 billion. It's off the charts. And I can read a couple of the projects. The most concerning projects that I have are the $6 billion in projects specifically near the Panama Canal. And I look at the strategic lines of communication: Panama Canal and the Strait of Magellan. But just to highlight a couple of the projects. The nuclear power plant in Argentina: $7.9 billion. The highway in Jamaica: $5.6 billion. The energy refinery in Cuba, $5 billion. The highway in Peru: $4 billion. Energy dam in Argentina: $4 billion, the Metro in Colombia: $3.9 billion. The freight railway in Argentina: $3 billion. These are not small projects that they're putting in this region. This region is rich in resources, and the Chinese don't go there to invest, they go there to extract. All of these projects are done with Chinese labor with host nation countries'. U.S. Policy on Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean November 30, 2021 Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Watch full hearing on YouTube Witnesses: Brian A. Nichols, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State Todd D. Robinson, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State Clips 1:47:15 Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): I'd like to start with Mexico. I am increasingly concerned that the Mexican government is engaged in a systematic campaign to undermine American companies, and especially American energy companies that have invested in our shared prosperity and in the future of the Mexican people and economy. Over the past five months, Mexican regulators have shut down three privately owned fuel storage terminals. Among those they shut down a fuel terminal and Tuxpan, which is run by an American company based in Texas, and which transports fuel on ships owned by American companies. This is a pattern of sustained discrimination against American companies. And I worry that the Mexican government's ultimate aim is to roll back the country's historic 2013 energy sector liberalisation reforms in favor of Mexico's mismanaged and failing state-owned energy companies. The only way the Mexican government is going to slow and reverse their campaign is if the United States Government conveys clearly and candidly that their efforts pose a serious threat to our relationship and to our shared economic interests. 2:01:50 Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): Mr. Nichols, can you can you just be a little more specific about the tactics of the GEC? What are some of the specific activities they're doing? And what more would you like to see them do? Brian A. Nichols: The Global Engagement Center both measures public opinion and social media trends throughout the world. They actively work to counter false messages from our strategic competitors. And they prepare media products or talking points that our embassies and consulates around the hemisphere can use to combat disinformation. I think they do a great job. Obviously, it's a huge task. So the the resources that they have to bring to bear to this limit, somewhat, the ability to accomplish those goals, but I think they're doing vital, vital work. 2:13:30 Todd D. Robinson: We are, INL (International Narcotics and Law Enforcement) are working very closely with the Haitian National Police, the new Director General, we are going to send in advisors. When I was there two weeks ago, I arrived with -- they'd asked for greater ability to get police around the city -- I showed up with 19 new vehicles, 200 new protective vests for the police. The 19 was the first installment of a total of 60 that we're going to deliver to the Haitian National Police. We're gonna get advisors down there to work with the new SWAT team to start taking back the areas that have been taken from ordinary Haitians. But it's going to be a process and it's going to take some time. Sen. Bob Menendez: Well, first of all, is the Haitian National Police actually an institution capable of delivering the type of security that Hatians deserve? Todd D. Robinson: We believe it is. It's an institution that we have worked with in the past. There was a small brief moment where Haitians actually acknowledged that the Haitian National Police had gotten better and was more professional. Our goal, our long term goal is to try to bring it back to that Sen. Bob Menendez: How much time before we get security on the ground? Todd D. Robinson: I can't say exactly but we are working as fast as we can. Sen. Bob Menendez: Months, years? Todd D. Robinson: Well, I would hope we could do it in less than months. But we're working as fast as we can. Global Challenges and U.S. National Security Strategy January 25, 2018 Senate Committee on Armed Services Watch the full hearing on YouTube Witnesses: Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Chairman of Kissinger Associates and Former Secretary of State Dr. George P. Shultz, Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University and Former Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, President, Armitage International and Former Deputy Secretary of State Clips Dr. George Shultz: Small platforms will carry a very destructive power. Then you can put these small platforms on drones. And drones can be manufactured easily, and you can have a great many of them inexpensively. So then you can have a swarm armed with lethal equipment. Any fixed target is a real target. So an airfield where our Air Force stores planes is a very vulnerable target. A ship at anchor is a vulnerable target. So you’ve got to think about that in terms of how you deploy. And in terms of the drones, while such a system cannot be jammed, it would only serve to get a drone—talking about getting a drone to the area of where its target is, but that sure could hit a specific target. At that point, the optical systems guided by artificial intelligence could use on-board, multi-spectral imaging to find a target and guide the weapons. It is exactly that autonomy that makes the technologic convergence a threat today. Because such drones will require no external input other than the signature of the designed target, they will not be vulnerable to jamming. Not requiring human intervention, the autonomous platforms will also be able to operate in very large numbers. Dr. George Shultz: I think there’s a great lesson here for what we do in NATO to contain Russia because you can deploy these things in boxes so you don’t even know what they are and on trucks and train people to unload quickly and fire. So it’s a huge deterrent capability that is available, and it’s inexpensive enough so that we can expect our allies to pitch in and get them for themselves. Dr. George Shultz: The creative use of swarms of autonomous drones to augment current forces would strongly and relatively cheaply reinforce NATO, as I said, that deterrence. If NATO assists frontline states in fielding large numbers of inexpensive autonomous drones that are pre-packaged in standard 20-foot containers, the weapons can be stored in sites across the countries under the control of reserve forces. If the weapons are pre-packaged and stored, the national forces can quickly deploy the weapons to delay a Russian advance. So what’s happening is you have small, cheap, and highly lethal replacing large, expensive platforms. And this change is coming about with great rapidity, and it is massively important to take it into account in anything that you are thinking about doing. Foreign Military Sales: Process and Policy June 15, 2017 House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Watch the full hearing on YouTube Witnesses: Tina Kaidanow, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State Vice Admiral Joseph Rixey, Director, U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency Clips 14:40 Tina Kaidanow: Arms Transfers constitute an element of foreign policy. We therefore take into account foreign policy considerations as we contemplate each arms transfer or sale, including specifically, the appropriateness of the transfer in responding to U.S and recipient security needs; the degree to which the transfer supports U.S. strategic foreign policy and defense interests through increased access and influence; allied burden sharing and interoperability; consistency with U.S. interests regarding regional stability; the degree of protection afforded by the recipient company to our sensitive technology; the risk that significant change in the political or security situation of the recipient country could lead to inappropriate end use or transfer; and the likelihood that the recipient would use the arms to commit human rights abuses or serious violations of international humanitarian law, or retransfer the arms to those who would commit such abuses. As a second key point, arms transfers support the U.S. Defense industrial base and they reduce the cost of procurement for our own U.S. military. Purchases made through the Foreign Military Sales, known as the FMS, system often can be combined with our Defense Department orders to reduce unit costs. Beyond this, the US defense industry directly employs over 1.7 million people across our nation. 20:20 Vice Admiral Joseph Rixey: FMS is the government-to-government process through which the U.S. government purchases defense articles, training, and services on behalf of foreign governments, authorized in the Arms Export Control Act. FMS is a long standing security cooperation program that supports partner and regional security, enhances military-to-military cooperation, enables interoperability and develops and maintains international relationships. Through the FMS process, the US government determines whether or not the sale is of mutual benefit to us and the partner, whether the technology can and will be protected, and whether the transfer is consistent with U.S. conventional arms transfer policy. The FMS system is actually a set of systems in which the Department of State, Department of Defense, and Congress play critical roles. The Department of Defense in particular executes a number of different processes including the management of the FMS case lifecycle which is overseen by DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency). Technology transfer reviews, overseen by the Defense Technology Security Administration, and the management of the Defense Acquisition and Logistics Systems, overseen by the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, and the military departments. This process, or a version of it, also serves us well, in the DoD Title X Building Partnership Capacity arena, where the process of building a case, validating a requirement and exercising our U.S. acquisition system to deliver capability is modeled on the FMS system. I want to say clearly that overall the system is performing very well. The United States continues to remain the provider of choice for our international partners, with 1,700 new cases implemented in Fiscal Year 2016 alone. These new cases, combined with adjustments to existing programs, equated to more than $33 billion in sales last year. This included over $25 billion in cases funded by our partner nations' own funds and approximately $8 billion in cases funded by DOD Title X program or Department of State's Appropriations. Most FMS cases move through the process relatively quickly. But some may move more slowly as we engage in deliberate review to ensure that the necessary arms transfer criteria are met. 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)
2/26/20231 hour, 29 minutes, 51 seconds
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CD268: Disappearing Oversight: The NFL Sexual Misconduct Investigation

In December, the House Oversight and Reform Committee released a final report from their investigation into allegations of sexual assault committed by Washington Commanders team owner Dan Snyder. In this episode, you will hear the testimony and discover what the NFL did - or didn’t do - to punish the people who sexually harassed their employees. You will also learn that in the process of researching this episode, the Congressional Dish team discovered that the hearings related to this investigation, among others, have recently vanished from the committee archives, raising questions about how that happened and what needs to be done to prevent our sources from being disappeared. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the shownotes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD262: Inside C-SPAN with Howard Mortman CD256: Poisonous Pet Collars CD234: AWOL Recall: The Rock and Play Sleeper Washington Commanders-Dan Snyder Background “To Native American groups, Redskins name is ‘worst offender.’ Now they hope for more changes.” Adam Kilgore and Roman Stubbs. Jul 9, 2020. The Washington Post. “‘Bethesda man to make bid for Redskins’: How Daniel Snyder became an NFL owner.” Scott Allen. May 24, 2019. The Washington Post. Full House Committee on Oversight and Reform Report “Read the Full Report on the Washington Commanders” Dec 8, 2022. The New York Times. NFL Investigation “The NFL’s investigation was just like Daniel Snyder’s workplace culture: Rotten.” Sally Jenkins. Jul 1, 2021. The Washington Post. “NFL announces outcome of Washington Football Team workplace review.” Jul 1, 2021. NFL. Dan Snyder Misconduct “Daniel Snyder pledged support for the NFL’s investigation. His actions tell a different story.” Will Hobson and Liz Clarke. Dec 14, 2021. The Washington Post. “NFL fines Washington Football Team $10 million; Tanya Snyder to run operations for now.” Will Hobson et al. Jul 2, 2021. The Washington Post. “Tanya Snyder, wife of owner Daniel Snyder, named co-CEO of Washington Football Team.” Nicki Jhabvala and Mark Maske. Jun 29, 2021. The Washington Post. “Washington Football Team settled sexual misconduct claim against Daniel Snyder for $1.6 million.” Will Hobson et al. Dec 22, 2020. The Washington Post. “Lewd cheerleader videos, sexist rules: Ex-employees decry Washington’s NFL team workplace.” Will Hobson et al. Aug 26, 2020. The Washington Post. “From Dream Job to Nightmare.” Will Hobson and Liz Clarke. Jul 16, 2020. The Washington Post. Dan Snyder Money “How did Daniel Snyder make his money? Net worth & more to know about Commanders owner's businesses.” Edward Sutelan. Nov 14, 2022. The Sporting News. “Average Net Worth by Age: How Do You Compare?” Lauren Schwahn. Dec 2, 2022. Nerd Wallet. Dave Portnoy Superbowl Arrest “Barstool’s Dave Portnoy physically carried out of Super Bowl 53 (Video).” Danny Small. Feb 4, 2019. Elite Sports NY. NFL Ownership and Potential Commanders Sale “Dan Snyder Reportedly Holding Out for $7B Bid for Commanders amid Sale Rumors.” Scott Polacek. Feb 8, 2023. Bleacher Report. “Is Dan Snyder selling the Commanders? What to know as Washington owner explores 'potential transactions.'” Joe Rivera. Nov 2, 2022. The Sporting News. “List of NFL franchise owners.” Wikipedia. Past Congressional Oversight of Sporting Organizations “Congress wants WWE's info on steroids, doping.” Associated Press. Jul 28, 2007. MSNBC via the Wayback Machine. “Steroid Use in Baseball: Players.” House Government Reform and Oversight Committee (109th Congress). March 17, 2005. C-SPAN. NFL Nonprofit Status and Lobbying “Professional Football Leagues.” IRS. “National Football League: Summary.” Open Secrets. “NFL reportedly generated record-setting $11 billion in national revenue last season.” Matt Johnson. Jul 15, 2022. Sportsnaut. House Control “The Democrats Lost the House by Just 6,675 Votes. What Went Wrong?” Walter Shapiro. Feb 9, 2023. The New Republic. Laws H.R. 4445: Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 Bills H.R. 8146: Accountability for Workplace Misconduct Act H.R. 8145: Professional Images Protection Act Hearings NFL Commissioner Testifies on Washington Commanders Workplace Culture June 22, 2022 House Oversight and Reform Committee Witness: Rodger Goodell:, Commissioner, National Football League Clips 3:05 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): We also invited Daniel Snyder to testify today, but rather than show up and take responsibility for his actions, he chose to skip town. Apparently Mr. Snyder is in France, where he has docked his luxury yacht near a resort town. 3:45 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): According to top executives, he fired women, but not men, who engaged in relationships with other employees while defending male executives accused of sexual harassment. And he kept employees from speaking out through a culture of fear. As one longtime employee described Mr. Snyder's tactics: "If you don't obey, intimidate. If you still don't obey, terminate." Finally, the employee added, "If that didn't work, buy them off." The Committee has also uncovered evidence that Mr. Snyder conducted a shadow investigation to target his accusers, pin the blame on others, and influence the NFL's own internal review. He filed phony lawsuits to collect private phone records, emails, and text messages. 7:10 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Our first bill, the Accountability for Workplace Misconduct Act, will require employers to conduct thorough investigations and share the outcome with victims, and it will prohibit employers from using Non-disclosure Agreements to conceal workplace misconduct -- one of Dan Snyder's favorite tactics. Our second bill is the Professional Images Protection Act. Our investigation confirmed that the Commanders secretly created lewd videos of cheerleaders for the private enjoyment of Dan Snyder. That is despicable and our bill will create notice and consent requirements for employers who use their employees' professional images. 23:10 Rodger Goodell: Hi I'm Roger Goodell commissioner of the National Football League and I'm here today to discuss the NFL's efforts to promote safe and respectful workplaces, including at the Washington Commanders. 23:25 Rodger Goodell: The Commanders are one of 32 NFL clubs, each of which is managed by its ownership and executives and have their own workplaces and policies. Two years ago, the Commanders asked me to recommend independent counsel to address workplace issues and recommend changes to improve the workplace culture. We identified several candidates and the club selected Beth Wilkinson, a distinguished former Federal Prosecutor. Approximately six weeks later, the club asked my office to assume oversight of the Wilkinson firm's work. The Wilkinson firm conducted a comprehensive review of the workplace at the club, interviewing more than 150 witnesses. As a result, we gained a clearer understanding of what the workplace had been at the Commanders, how it had begun to change, and what further steps were needed to support our ultimate goal of transforming that workplace to one that is safe and productive for all of its employees. 25:05 Rodger Goodell: It is clear to me that the workplace in Washington was unprofessional and unacceptable in numerous respects: bullying, widespread disrespect toward colleagues, use of demeaning language, public embarrassment and harassment. Moreover, for a prolonged period of time, the Commanders had a woefully deficient HR function, particularly with respect to reporting practices and record keeping. As a result, we imposed unprecedented discipline on the club, monetary penalties of well over $10 million, and requirements that the club implement a series of recommendations and allow an outside firm to conduct regular reviews of their workplace. In addition, for the past year, Daniel Snyder has not attended league or committee meetings, and to the best of my knowledge has not been involved in day to day operations at the Commanders. The cheerleader program has been entirely revamped and it's now a co-ed dance team under new leadership. And the most recent independent workplace report, which we have shared with the Committee, confirms that an entirely new, highly skilled and diverse management team is in place, and that there has been, "substantial transformation of the team's culture, leadership and human resources practices." 26:35 Rodger Goodell: We did not receive a written report of Miss Wilkinson's findings for compelling reasons that continue to this day. A critical element of any workplace review is broad participation by both current and former employees. Encouraging employees to come forward and share their experiences, which were frequently painful and emotional, was essential to identifying both the organization's failures and how to fix them. To encourage this participation, Ms. Wilkinson promised confidentiality to any current or former employee. For this reason, shortly after we assumed oversight of Miss Wilkinson's work, we determined that a comprehensive oral briefing was best to allow us to receive the information necessary both to evaluate the workplace as it was, and to ensure that the team put in place the policies and processes to reform that workplace, all while preserving the confidentiality of those who participated in the investigation. 28:35 Rodger Goodell: When the committee has asked questions or requested documents which could violate witness privacy, we have asserted privilege. We will continue to do so to safeguard our commitment. 28:45 Rodger Goodell:: Earlier this year, the committee heard testimony from several former employees that included new and direct allegations against Mr. Snyder. We properly engaged former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to investigate those allegations. Because those new allegations were brought to the committee in a public setting, we will share the results of that investigation when it's completed and will take additional disciplinary action if warranted. 29:50 Rodger Goodell: Finally, I want to address the Committee's review of Non-disclosure Agreements. Our policies do not allow a club to use an NDA to bar someone from participating in a league investigation, and nobody who wished to speak to the Wilkinson firm was prevented from doing so by an NDA. 36:45 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Mr. Snyder has not been held accountable. His refusal to testify sends a clear message that he is more concerned about protecting himself than coming clean with the American people. If the NFL is unwilling or unable to hold Mr. Snyder accountable, then I am prepared to do so. That is why I am announcing now my intent to issue a subpoena for the testimony of Mr. Snyder for a deposition next week. The committee will not be deterred in its investigation to uncover the truth of workplace misconduct at the Washington Commaders. 38:20 Rodger Goodell: While I have the microphone I'd also like to say, respectfully, that Dan Snyder has been held accountable. As I mentioned in the opening, he faced unprecedented discipline, including financial fines, being removed and away from the team at his request for a period of time up to the year now already, and secondly, and more importantly, transformation of that organization that is going on in the last year, which is really important. 42:25 Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC): This committee has no jurisdiction over private entities. Our jurisdiction is on government entities. 1:10:40 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Now, sir, you had mentioned that the reason for the press release as opposed to a detailed finding, as you had in the other cases was because of privacy concerns. Isn't that right? Rodger Goodell: That was one of the issues. Yes. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): However, I have this 148 Page Miami Dolphins harassment report that you did where you have redacted the names of various individuals out of privacy concerns. And so it is possible to release a detailed report and at the same time protect people's privacy, yet you chose not to do so in this particular case with the Commanders. Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI): Study after study shows there is not systemic racism in our police departments. There is a narrative out there, for example, who to this day mislead the public as to what happened in Ferguson. The Black Lives Matter movement fanned the flames out there even though Barack Obama's own Justice Department found that shooting was justified and you have kind of piled on with the narrative that we have a fundamental problem. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA): So non disclosure agreements by each of your various teams are not being used. Is that what you're saying? Rodger Goodell: No, I'm not saying that at all. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): The gentlelady's time has expired. The gentleman may answer her question. Rodger Goodell: I'm not saying that. State by state...our teams operate in different states that have different laws. So the federal legislation is something that we're willing to work with the Committee on it. Washington Football Team Work Environment February 3, 2022 House Oversight and Reform Committee Witnesses: Emily Applegate, Former Marketing Coordinator, Washington Commanders Brad Baker, Former Manager and Producer of Video, Washington Commanders Melanie Coburn, Former Director of Marketing, Cheerleaders, Washington Commanders Rachel Engelson, Former Director of Marketing and Client Relations, Washington Commanders Tiffani Johnston, Former Manager of Marketing, Washington Commanders Ana Nunez, Former Coordinator of Business Development, Washington Commanders Clips 9:45 Rep. James Comer (R-KY): Instead of adhering to our committee's mission to root out waste, fraud, and abuse and mismanagement in the federal government, Democrats instead are holding a roundtable about the work culture in one single private organization. 10:00 Rep. James Comer (R-KY): Make no mistake, no one should face harassment at work and bad actors must be held accountable. But it's unclear why examining harassment that took place a decade ago in one private workplace warrants oversight from this committee. This issue is best handled by human resources and the courts, not Congress. 10:25 Rep. James Comer (R-KY): Further, because of the bravery of the women testifying before us today, the culture of the franchise has completely turned around. And I want to thank the ladies for being here today. After the NFL investigation into the football team last year, Commissioner Roger Goodell levied the highest fine on an owner in the history of the sport, and suspended the owner from team's operations indefinitely. In addition, the commissioner made a series of recommendations to the team to improve its culture. This week, an independent audit confirmed those recommendations are working. Madam Chair, I'd like to submit the audit for the record. 11:30 Rep. James Comer (R-KY): Because of the Commissioner's leadership, bad actors have been held accountable and the culture at the football team has improved. So why are Democrats utilizing committee resources today to examine an issue that is on the path to resolution and is outside this committee's jurisdiction? 18:15 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Our first participant is Melanie Coburn who was a cheerleader for the Washington Football Team from 1997 to 2001 and was the director of Marketing and Marketing Coordinator from 2001 to 2011. 18:30 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Then we will hear from Tiffany Johnston, who was a cheerleader for the Washington football team from 2007 to 2008, and a Marketing Manager and Marketing and Events Coordinator for Club Level Tickets from 2002 to 2008. 18:50 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Next we will hear from Brad Baker, who was a Producer at the Washington football team from 2007 to 2008 and a Video Production Manager from 2008 to 2009. 19:05 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Next we will hear from Ana Nunez, who was a Coordinator of Business Development and Client Service and an Account Executive at the Washington football team from 2015 to 2019. 19:20 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Next, we will hear from Rachel Engelson, who started as an intern for the Washington football team in 2010 and then became a Customer Service Representative, a Manager of Premium Client Services, the Director of Marketing and Client Relations, and the Director of Client Services from 2011 to 2019. 19:40 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Finally, we will hear from Emily Applegate who was a Marketing Coordinator, Premium Client Services Coordinator, and Ticket Sales Representative at the Washington Football Team from 2014 to 2015. 21:00 Melanie Coburn: At cheerleader auditions one year, Dan Snyder ordered the director of the squad to parade the ladies onto the field while he and his friends gawked from a suite through binoculars. The women were directed to turn around slowly, as if they were cattle being examined for sale. One of the women cried on the sidelines because she didn't understand what was happening. 21:30 Melanie Coburn: Over the years, it became clear that Dan Snyder and his male executives were far too interested in the cheerleaders. Eventually, Dan himself had the final say of who made the team and who got months in the calendar. Unbelievably, he requested binders of photographs for auditions and the calendar so that he could choose who to cut based on looks, not talent. One year he cut 10 veterans who otherwise would have made the team based on their skill and experience, evidently because they weren't the prettiest in his opinion. It was known as the Tyson's massacre. 22:10 Melanie Coburn: During calendar production one year, a male Executive took unedited prints off the graphic designer's desk despite my warnings to protect them. One of these compromising full size photos was one of the team's most loyal employees, and my dear friend. She's sitting next to me today. I'm still haunted by this. And at the time, there was no HR department or any reporting mechanism for this abusive behavior. 23:05 Melanie Coburn: I felt compelled to come forward publicly when I read the second shocking [Washington] Post article that revealed two lewd videos of the cheerleaders that were secretly created. I was physically ill when I read that piece. "The Good Bits" videos produced at the behest of Dan Snyder were secretly made from footage taken at our calendar shoots. We trusted the production team to capture footage and keep it safe. Little did we know they were zooming in on private parts and keeping cameras rolling during costume changes. I've cried with the women in these videos as they explain the horror of seeing themselves in what is essentially a soft porn video soundtracked to Dan Snyder's favorite bands. These women remain traumatized. 24:35 Melanie Coburn: Dan Snyder rules by fear. We've seen Dan's vindictive wrath for years, such as when he nearly bankrupted the Washington City Paper for an unflattering article. He sent private investigators to the homes of a dozen former cheerleaders last year and I got calls from these terrified women who didn't understand why PIs were showing up on their doorsteps. He offered hush money to a group of us in exchange for our silence last February, but we declined. This was offensive, and certainly felt like intimidation and witness tampering to us. 26:10 Tiffani Johnston: Hi, my name is Tiffani Johnston. I appreciate you all for taking the time to hear about the constant workplace harassment that occurred at the Washington Football Team for over two decades. I personally experienced it multiple times during my eight year tenure as both a cheerleader and a marketing manager. 26:50 Ana Nunez: Hi, my name is Ana Nunez and I worked in sales for the Washington football team for almost four years. 28:20 Tiffani Johnston: I learned on one specific occasion that when I was asked by my boss to attend a networking event, and oh to dress cute, it was actually an orchestration by him and Dan Snyder to put me in a compromising sexual situation. I learned that placing me strategically by the owner at a work dinner after this networking event was not for me to discuss business, but to allow him, Dan Snyder, to place his hand on my thigh under the table. I learned how to discreetly remove a man's unwanted hand from my thigh at a crowded dinner table at a busy restaurant to avoid a scene. I learned that job survival meant I should continue my conversation with another coworker, rather than call out Dan Snyder right then in the moment. I also learned later that evening how to awkwardly laugh when Dan Snyder aggressively pushed me towards his limo with his hand on my lower back, encouraging me to ride with him to my car. I learned how to continue to say no, even though a situation was getting more awkward, uncomfortable and physical. I learned that the only reason Dan Snyder removed his hand from my back and stop pushing me towards his limo was because his attorney intervened and said "Dan, Dan, this is a bad idea. A very bad idea, Dan." I learned that I should remove myself from Dan's grip while his attorney was distracting him. I also learned at that moment during an unspoken conversation between my boss and I that my boss was not there to look out for me. He was there to listen to any directive his boss, Dan Snyder, had given to him, at my cost. The next day I learned, when I told a senior coworker about Dan Snyder's sexual advance, that I should "not repeat this story to anyone outside this office door." That was when I also learned there was no one to go to about Dan Snyder's advance, no path to record the incident. So I learned to move on. 30:15 Tiffani Johnston: In the last couple of years, I learned that Dan Snyder, via Senior Vice President, demanded my unedited, enlarged lingerie calendar photo be sent to his office. I learned that this demand was made urgently because they knew that the graphic artists was getting ready to Photoshop my personal areas before the edited proof went before all of the senior VPs and Dan Snyder for approval. 31:40 Brad Baker: My name is Brad Baker and I worked for the Washington Football Team from 2007 to 2009 in the Video Production Department. 32:40 Brad Baker: In the early summer of 2008, a normal production meeting with the video department was wrapping up when Larry Michael, then Executive Producer of Media and one of Snyder's top lieutenants, asked me and two other male producers to stay behind and shut the door. The female members of the department were dismissed. Larry Michael told us that the owner had a special project for us and needed us to edit together a video of the good bits from our cheerleader calendar video shoot. It wasn't hard to put two and two together. Larry Michael, one of Snyder's top confidants, has tasked us with producing a video for Schneider of sexually suggestive footage of cheerleaders, obviously unbeknownst to any of the women involved. One of the senior producers said he'd take care of it and later on, while passing through the editing suite, I saw several images on both the editing monitor and the monitor of our tape deck that featured the cheerleaders posing for their photoshoot, but it was like outtakes, and their breasts and pubic areas were exposed. It became crystal clear that my worst suspicions were true. The video department had been told to edit together lewd footage of the cheerleaders at the request of Dan Snyder. 34:30 Brad Baker: The NFL has refused to release the report of the Wilkinson investigation, even though myself and over 100 other employees were asked by the League to speak to the Wilkinson firm. We all participated because we thought the NFL wanted to know the truth. We believe that the toxic workplace culture and the serious harm it caused would finally become public and that the investigation would end with some kind of report. I mean, they were able to release a report that was 243 pages long...243 pages long...on the PSIs of footballs, the pounds per square inch of footballs. Surely, surely, women being sexually harassed and lewd outtakes videos of female employees created without their consent could muster up some kind of written report right 43:40 Rachel Engelson: I was only 24 and the man who sexually harassed me was old enough to be my father. And he also was considered the voice of the team in the public sphere. So to me, the power that he held in his position and his close personal relationship with Daniel Snyder was enough for me to reconsider anything. And at the time, I didn't know and realize that 55% of victims experienced retaliation after speaking up or making a claim. I still decided to tell my boss about my harasser's public comments about my appearance, his unwanted kisses on the cheek, and emails about special gifts he expected from me. When I told my boss, we agreed that nothing would happen if I reported it to the person who was supposedly running HR at that point. And so my boss called my harasser on the phone. Mind you, we were in two different locations. I was in Maryland and he was in Virginia, so this had to be done via phone call. I was in the room when my boss called him to tell him to leave me alone. And it's a memory I'll never forget, because I distinctly remember hearing my harasser yell through the phone, "what the fuck is she thinking?" and I just kind of muted everything after that. So fearing further harassment and retaliation, I took to hiding from him at public events. I strategically would place myself between colleagues so he couldn't get near me. And I just felt humiliated to have to hide in plain sight in front of all of my colleagues, my clients, and I was just so frustrated that I had to avoid company functions for fear that I would experience sexual harassment again. And most of all, it made me feel worthless. All the hard work I put into my work and the team and I was reduced to my appearance and not my value as an employee. The second time I decided to report harassment was with the arrival of a new executive team, similar to Ana, that was specifically hired to help change the business. I told them about the public comments about my appearance, the unwanted kisses on the cheek, the email, as well as the time at training camp, I was sexually assaulted by the same man that I had previously reported. Those executives were appalled at my treatment and had good intentions to affect change, but they were all fired within six months of reporting this. And after they were fired, and this was reportedly because the old guard at the Washington football team did not want change, I just felt like I had zero protection. I didn't want to go back to avoiding people, clients, events, and even my own job, to keep away from my harasser. So I resigned from my position without another job lined up so I wouldn't have to deal with this. 48:35 Emily Applegate: My name is Emily Applegate. I began working for the Washington Football Team exactly eight years ago as of tomorrow. While my time with the team was short, my experiences there have altered the structure of my entire life. 49:10 Emily Applegate: On a daily basis, I was sexually harassed by my direct boss, the Chief Marketing Officer of the team. Every day, I was forced into uncomfortable conversations about my body and about my appearance. I was told to wear tight outfits to events, so clients had something to look at. I was asked invasive questions about my dating life, specifically if I was interested in older men, because my boss was significantly older than me. I was told I wasn't allowed to wear flat shoes because he liked the way my body looked better when I was in high heels. My photograph was taken without my permission and passed to other executives throughout the team by my boss. 50:20 Emily Applegate: To address the most common question that I get, "why didn't you report to Human Resources?" I didn't report to Human Resources because Dan Snyder created a culture where this behavior was accepted and encouraged. 53:35 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): July 1, 2021, the NFL issued a press release announcing the outcome of its investigation into the Washington football team stating and I quote, "none of the managers or executives identified as having engaged in this conduct is still employed at the club." 54:10 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Is the NFL's statement that wrongdoers have been removed from the Washington Football Team accurate? Tiffani Johnston: Absolutely not. It all started from the top with Dan Snyder, every day, on every single issue. 55:05 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Miss Johnston, I received a letter dated today from Jason Friedman, a former Vice President who worked for the Washington football team for over 20 years, and here is the letter. He was apparently with you the night that Dan Snyder personally harassed you. And here's what he said. He has never told his story publicly before and I want to quote now from his letter. He says "I witnessed Dan Snyder grab the arm of my coworker, Tiffany Johnston, and attempt to pull her into his limousine. This took place over a dinner in Washington DC. I was shocked. Thankfully, Tiffany was able to quickly pull away." 57:35 Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC): The proper venue to explore these types of claims is in the courtroom, not before this committee. To my knowledge, there's no pending litigation regarding the events we've heard discussed today, nor does this committee have legislative jurisdiction over this issue. It concerns me that this committee is choosing to spend its limited time having this discussion on the NFL and second guessing decisions when there are multiple Biden-caused catastrophes that desperately need our attention and oversight. And the witnesses here have begged for us to do something and nothing is going to happen as a result of this committee. That's cruel to these people. 1:06:50 Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC): What do you want us to do? What should Congress do? I can't legislate bad behavior to stop it. Just quickly, what would you do. 1:09:05 Emily Applegate: Thank you for asking this question, actually, because I think it's very important due to the fact that multiple members of the committee has now said that this is not the appropriate venue for us to be sharing the story and that we shouldn't be in the courtroom, things like that. You guys have the opportunity to take this issue on, pass legislation that would help other employees throughout the United States be able to report so they have that opportunity to be in the courtroom, and not only the opportunity to be in the courtroom, but then also to find some justice, because I think we can all agree that a lot of people go through the criminal justice system, and they never see any type of justice when it comes to sexual harassment or sexual assault. So until those two things are taken more seriously by Congress, then nothing is going to happen. But that's why we're here today to ask you to do your job and pass those legislation laws. 1:09:55 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): To my dear colleagues on the other side, I just want to point out that we legislate the rules, regulations, and laws that govern workplace safety, as well as non disclosure agreement laws and so forth. 1:15:05 Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM): Mr. Chair, this hearing is a farce. And we should be looking at inflation, the economy, Afghanistan, the border crisis and so many other issues that are important to our nation and to our constituents. Instead, we are spending time looking at a single business, investigating it for things that happened a decade ago. And let me restate again the owners of the team fired those responsible. In fact, the owners paid the largest fine ever imposed by the NFL and was suspended indefinitely from operations. This roundtable is ridiculous and it is an abuse of power. 1:35:50 Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL): You might be aware that part of the reason that the NFL is such a profitable business is that Congress approved legislation in 1961 that allowed an antitrust exemption where professional football teams could pull together when negotiating radio and television contracts. They also receive lucrative federal tax exemptions and taxpayer dollars in the hundreds of millions to build football stadiums that make them billions. Do you believe Congress should be in the business of protecting an organization that puts the interests of billionaire owners above hundreds of women who experienced harassment and abuse? And do you think that those benefits, that we should consider revoking them if they do not make changes to ensure that you have protections when it comes to human resources, sexual assault accountability, making sure that there is an equitable and safe workplace for their employees? 1:41:35 Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA): Miss Coburn in your op ed, you mentioned that after the secret "good bits" videos hit the news that you and 40 or so other cheerleader alumni came together and some of you were able to mediate a settlement. Were those who settled, were they barred from going to court because of a forced arbitration agreement? Do you know? Melanie Coburn: Yes, many of when those videos were uncovered, that's when I came out publicly. I had the strength and courage to organize them. And yes, they all, they they got together and there was a, you know, mediation and there was a settlement and along with that settlement, they were forced to sign NDAs. 1:45:10 Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA): Congress can do a lot about this. Next week, all of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who aren't here now could vote for the bill by Cheri Bustos that is going to require that no NDAs can be forced upon employees for sexual harassment or sexual assault. That would go a long way. We could also investigate the tax exempt status of the National Football League. We gave them that tax exempt status. Evidently, there was $8 billion received last year that was then divided up among the various teams to the tune of about $250 million a team. 1:50:10 Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL): We have a responsibility here of regulating, specifically, the United States economy when it comes to interstate commerce, to regulating our borders, to actually making sure we coin sound money, that we appropriate for the necessary functions of government. But one of the things that the Constitution of these United States actually precludes us from doing is interfering directly in the affairs of individual businesses, no matter how abhorrent they may be. Now, if there's criminality involved, then that is where the justice system, specifically in this case the civil system, takes those matters. “The final play of the Patriots-Raiders game is even better with Titanic music.” December 18, 2022 @TheGhettoGronk on Twitter 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)
2/12/20231 hour, 17 minutes, 47 seconds
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CD267: The Monopoly Powers of Live Nation/Ticketmaster

Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged over a decade ago and Congress is concerned - for good reason - that the company is exerting monopoly powers over the live event industry. In this episode, learn how the merger was allowed to happen in the first place, the problems that industry participants and competitors are having with the company, and what Congress is thinking of doing about it. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the show notes on our website at We're Not Wrong Live Show Wednesday, March 1 | 8:00 PM PSTPianoFight Main Stage San Francisco Get tickets Background Sources Event Ticketing Market “Event Ticket Sales: Market Characteristics and Consumer Protection Issues” [GAO-18-347]. Apr 12, 2018. U.S. Government Accountability Office. Live Nation Overview “Live Nation Entertainment Website.” “Live Nation Entertainment 2021 Annual Report” “Live Nation Entertainment: Totals.” Open Secrets. “Live Nation Entertainment: Lobbying.” Open Secrets. Ticketmaster “Everyone hates Ticketmaster. Is everyone wrong?” August Brown. Jan 24, 2023. The Seattle Times. Taylor Swift “Taylor Swift ‘Ticket Sale Disaster’ Sparks Suit Against Ticketmaster, Live Nation.” Ashley Cullins. Dec 5, 2022. The Hollywood Reporter. “Taylor Swift on Ticketmaster Tech Issues: ‘We Were Assured’ They Could Handle the Demand.” Caitlin Huston. Nov 18, 2022. The Hollywood Reporter. “Taylor Swift Tour: Live Nation CEO Says ‘Everybody Crashed the Door’ During Presale.” Caitlin Huston. Nov 17, 2022. The Hollywood Reporter. Bad Bunny “Spending a Month’s Salary to See Bad Bunny, Only to Be Turned Away.” Maria Abi-Habib. Dec 16, 2022. The New York Times. “Ticketmaster Crashes Right on Cue During Bad Bunny Ticket Sale.” Dylan Smith. Apr 15, 2021. Digital Music News. BTS “BTS Vegas Sells Out as Ticketmaster Verified Fan Fails Fans (Again)” Dave Clark. Mar 3, 2022. Ticket News. “BTS SoFi Stadium Concert Tickets Sold Out In Pre-sale; ARMY Expresses Disdain On Twitter.” Fengyen Chiu. Oct 11, 2021. Republic World. Adele “Sky-High ‘Dynamic’ Adele Ticket Prices Sting ‘Verified’ Fans.” Dave Clark. Dec 8, 2021. Ticket News. Pixies “Everyone Hates Ticketmaster — But No One Can Take It Down.” Steve Knopper. Nov 1, 2010. Wired. Bruce Sprintsteen “Bruce Springsteen Defends High Ticket Prices for Upcoming Tour.” Alex Young. Nov 18, 2022. Consequence Sound. “Bruce Springsteen ‘Furious’ At Ticketmaster, Rails Against Live Nation Merger.” Daniel Kreps. Feb 4, 2009. Rolling Stone. Pearl Jam “1994: A look back at when Pearl Jam took on Ticketmaster.” Shawn Garrett. Nov 17, 2022. KIRO 7 News. “Pearl Jam: Taking on Ticketmaster.” Eric Boehlert. Dec 28, 1995. Rolling Stone. “Pearl Jam Musicians Testify On Ticketmaster's Prices.” Reuters. Jul 1, 1994. The New York Times. Ticketmaster Scalper Program “Ticketmaster Resale Returns to Broker-Focused Conferences Despite Past Controversy.” Dave Clark. Jul 8, 2021. Ticket News. “'Hand caught in a cookie jar': Band managers demand answers about Ticketmaster's secret scalper program.” Rachel Houlihan et al. Oct 18, 2018. CBC News. “'A public relations nightmare': Ticketmaster recruits pros for secret scalper program.” Dave Seglins et al. Sep 19, 2018. CBC News. Antitrust Policy and Enforcement “Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Doha Mekki of the Antitrust Division Delivers Remarks at Mercatus Center Second Annual Antitrust Forum: Policy in Transition.” Doha Mekki. Jan 26, 2023. U.S. Department of Justice. “Competitive Edge: Structural presumption in U.S. merger control policy would strengthen modern antitrust enforcement.” John Kwoka. Dec 19, 2018. Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “Supreme Court Overrules 96 Year-Old Rule in Dr. Miles and Holds Vertical Price Agreements Are Neither Per Se Illegal Nor Per Se Legal, But Subject to Case-By-Case Test.” Jul 5, 2007. Sheppard Mullin. “In Major Antitrust Decision, Supreme Court Overrules 1911 Precedent to Declare Vertical Minimum Price Restraints to Be Governed by Rule of Reason.” Alan S. Middleton. Jul 3, 2007. Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. “Section 7 of the Clayton Act: Its Application to the Conglomerate Merger.” Richard B. Blackwell. March 1972 *13(3). William & Mary Law Review. Mergers and Monopoly Power “Anti-Monopoly Basics: Monopoly by the Numbers.” Open Markets Institute. Live Nation-Ticketmaster Merger “U.S. and Plaintiff States v. Ticketmaster Entertainment, Inc. and Live Nation Entertainment, Inc.” U.S. Department of Justice. Final Judgment (July 2010) Motion to Modify Final Judgment and Enter Amended Final Judgment (January 2020) Amended Final Judgment (January 2020) Kroger-Albertsons Merger “Kroger-Albertsons Merger Faces Long Road Before Approval.” Julie Creswell. Jan 23, 2023. The New York Times. “FTC issues 2nd request to Kroger on planned Albertsons acquisition.” Russell Redman. Dec 6, 2022. Winsight Grocery Business. Laws S.3183 - BOTS Act of 2016 Bills S.225 - Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act of 2021 Sponsor: Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Audio Sources That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment January 24, 2023 Senate Committee on the Judiciary Witnesses: Joe Berchtold, President and Chief Financial Officer, Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. Jack Groetzinger, Chief Executive Officer, SeatGeek, Inc. Jerry Mickelson, Chief Executive Officer and President, Jam Productions, LLC Sal Nuzzo, Senior Vice President, The James Madison Institute Kathleen Bradish, Vice President for Legal Advocacy, American Antitrust Institute Clyde Lawrence, Singer-songwriter, Lawrence The Ticketmaster/Live Nation Merger: What Does it Mean for Consumers and the Future of the Concert Business? February 24, 2009 Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Watch on C-SPAN Witnesses: Irving Azoff, Chief Executive Officer, Ticketmaster Entertainment, Inc. Jerry Mickelson, Chairman and Executive Vice President, JAM Productions Michael Rapino, President and Chief Executive Officer, Live Nation, Inc. David A. Balto, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress Action Fund Seth Hurwitz, Co-Owner, I.M.P. Productions and 9:30 Club Pearl Jam vs. Ticketmaster (1994) YouTube 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)
1/29/20231 hour, 42 minutes, 56 seconds
Episode Artwork

CD266: Contriving January 6th

The January 6th Committee investigation is over and four criminal charges against former President Donald Trump have been referred to the Justice Department by the Committee. In this episode, hear a summary of 23 hours of testimony and evidence presented by the Committee which prove that former President Trump went to extraordinary and illegal lengths to remain President, despite losing the 2020 Election. Executive Producers: Michael Constantino, Shelley Stracener, Daniel Slaughter, and Christine Brendle Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the shownotes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD236: January 6: The Capitol Riot CD228: The Second Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump The Final Committee Report “Final Report of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol,” [House Report 117-663] 117th Congress Second Session. Dec 22, 2022. U.S. Government Publishing Office. The January 6th Committee “Inside the Jan. 6 Committee.” Robert Draper and Luke Broadwater. Dec 23, 2022. The New York Times Magazine. 2020 Election Litigation “Litigation in the 2020 Election.” Oct 27, 2022. The American Bar Association. “‘Trump Won Two-Thirds of Election Lawsuits Where Merits Considered.’” Daniel Funke. Feb 9, 2021. PolitiFact. January 6th Security Failures “Capitol Attack: The Capitol Police Need Clearer Emergency Procedures and a Comprehensive Security Risk Assessment Process,” [GAO-22-105001] February 2022. U.S. Government Accountability Office. Electors and Vote Certification Process “Who Are Electors And How Do They Get Picked?” Domenico Montanaro. Dec 14, 2020. NPR. “About the Electors.” May 11, 2021. U.S. National Archives. John Eastman “Who is John Eastman, the Trump lawyer at the center of the Jan. 6 investigation?” Deepa Shivaram. Jun 17, 2022. NPR. “About Us.” The Federalist Society. “The Eastman Memo.” Trump and Georgia “The Georgia criminal investigation into Trump and his allies, explained.” Matthew Brown. Nov 22, 2022. The Washington Post. “Here’s the full transcript and audio of the call between Trump and Raffensperger.” Amy Gardner and Paulina Firozi. Jan 5, 2021. The Washington Post. AG Bill Barr Interview “In exclusive AP interview, AG Barr says no evidence of widespread election fraud, undermining Trump.” Mike Balsamo. Dec 11, 2020. “Barr tells AP that Justice Dept. hasn’t uncovered widespread voting fraud that could have changed 2020 election outcome.” Dec 1, 2020. The Associated Press. Past Electoral Vote Challenges “Post Misleadingly Equates 2016 Democratic Effort to Trump’s 2020 ‘Alternate Electors.’” Joseph A. Gambardello. Jun 29, 2022. “Democrats challenge Ohio electoral votes.” Ted Barrett. Jan 6, 2005. CNN. Fake Electors “What you need to know about the fake Trump electors.” Amy Sherman. Jan 28, 2022. PolitiFact. “Exclusive: Federal prosecutors looking at 2020 fake elector certifications, deputy attorney general tells CNN.” Evan Perez and Tierney Sneed. Jan 26, 2022. CNN. “American Oversight Obtains Seven Phony Certificates of Pro-Trump Electors.” Mar 2, 2021. American Oversight. Censure of Cheney & Kinzinger “Read the Republican Censure of Cheney and Kinzinger.” Feb 4 2022. The New York Times. Audio Sources 12/19/22 Business Meeting December 19, 2022 House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol 10/13/22 Business Meeting October 13, 2022 House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol Featured speakers: Kayleigh McEnany, Former White House Press Secretary Molly Michael, Former Executive Assistant to the President Pat Cipollone, Former White House Counsel Clips Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): Why would Americans assume that our Constitution, and our institutions, and our Republic are invulnerable to another attack? Why would we assume that those institutions will not falter next time? A key lesson of this investigation is this: Our institutions only hold when men and women of good faith make them hold, regardless of the political cost. We have no guarantee that these men and women will be in place next time. Any future president inclined to attempt what Donald Trump did in 2020 has now learned not to install people who could stand in the way. And also please consider this: The rulings of our courts are respected and obeyed, because we as citizens pledged to accept and honor them. Most importantly, our President, who has a constitutional obligation to faithfully execute the laws, swears to accept them. What happens when the President disregards the court's rulings is illegitimate. When he disregards the rule of law, that my fellow citizens, breaks our Republic. January 6 Committee Lawyer: To your knowledge, was the president in that private dining room the whole time that the attack on the Capitol was going on? Or did he ever go to, again only to your knowledge, to the Oval Office, to the White House Situation Room, anywhere else? Kayleigh McEnany: The the best of my recollection, he was always in the dining room. January 6 Committee Lawyer: What did they say, Mr. Meadows or the President, at all during that brief encounter that you were in the dining room? What do you recall? Gen. Keith Kellogg: I think they were really watching the TV. January 6 Committee Lawyer: Do you know whether he was watching TV in the dining room when you talked to him on January sixth? Molly Michael: It's my understanding he was watching television. January 6 Committee Lawyer: When you were in the dining room in these discussions, was the violence of capital visible on the screen on the television? Pat Cipollone: Yes. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): A federal appeals court in Pennsylvania wrote, quote, "charges require specific allegations and proof. We have neither here." A federal judge in Wisconsin wrote, quote, "the court has allowed the former President the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits." Another judge in Michigan, called the claims quote, "nothing but speculation and conjecture that votes for President Trump were either destroyed, discarded or switched to votes for Vice President Biden." A federal judge in Michigan sanctioned nine attorneys, including Sidney Powell, for making frivolous allegations in an election fraud case, describing the case as a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process. Recently, a group of distinguished Republican election lawyers, former judges and elected officials issued a report confirming the findings of the courts. In their report entitled "Lost, Not Stolen," these prominent Republicans analyzed each election challenge and concluded this: Donald Trump and his supporters failed to present evidence of fraud or inaccurate results significant enough to invalidate the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. On December 11, Trump's allies lost a lawsuit in the US Supreme Court that he regarded as his last chance of success in the courts. Alyssa Farah: I remember maybe a week after the election was called, I popped into the Oval just to like, give the President the headlines and see how he was doing and he was looking at the TV and he said, "Can you believe I lost to this effing guy?" Cassidy Hutchinson: Mark raised it with me on the 18th and so following that conversation we were in the motorcade ride driving back to the White House, and I said, like, "Does the President really think that he lost?" And he said, "A lot of times he'll tell me that he lost, but he wants to keep fighting it and he thinks that there might be enough to overturn the election, but, you know, he pretty much has acknowledged that he, that he's lost. 07/12/22 Select Committee Hearing July 12, 2022 House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol Witnesses: Jason Van Tatenhove, Former Oath Keepers Spokesperson Stephen Ayres, January 6th Defendant Clips Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL): According to White House visitor logs obtained by the Committee, members of Congress present at the White House on December 21 included Congressmen Brian Babin (TX), Andy Biggs (AZ), Matt Gaetz (FL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), Andy Harris (MD), Jody Hice (R-GA), Jim Jordan (OD), and Scott Perry (PA). Then Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) was also there. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL): We've asked witnesses what happened during the December 21 meeting and we've learned that part of the discussion centered on the role of the Vice President during the counting of the electoral votes. These members of Congress were discussing what would later be known as the "Eastman Theory," which was being pushed by Attorney John Eastman. 06/28/2022 Select Committee Hearing June 28, 2022 House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol Witnesses: Cassidy Hutchinson, Former Special Assistant to the President and Aide to the Chief of Staff Clips 9:10 Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): Today's witness, Ms. Cassidy Hutchinson, is another Republican and another former member of President Trump's White House staff. Certain of us in the House of Representatives recall that Ms. Hutchinson once worked for House Republican whip Steve Scalise, but she is also a familiar face on Capitol Hill because she held a prominent role in the White House Legislative Affairs Office, and later was the principal aide to President Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows. 10:10 Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): In her role working for the White House Chief of Staff, Miss Hutchinson handled a vast number of sensitive issues. She worked in the West Wing, several steps down the hall from the Oval Office. Miss Hutchinson spoke daily with members of Congress, with high ranking officials in the administration, with senior White House staff, including Mr. Meadows, with White House Counsel lawyers, and with Mr. Tony Ornato, who served as the White House Deputy Chief of Staff. She also worked on a daily basis with members of the Secret Service who were posted in the White House. In short, Miss Hutchinson was in a position to know a great deal about the happenings in the Trump White House. 24:20 Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): On January 3, the Capitol Police issued a special event assessment. In that document, the Capitol Police noted that the Proud Boys and other groups planned to be in Washington DC on January 6, and indicated that quote, "unlike previous post election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter protesters, as they were previously, but rather, Congress itself is the target on the Sixth. 27:45 Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): Of course the world now knows that the people who attacked the Capitol on January 6 had many different types of weapons. When a President speaks, the Secret Service typically requires those attending to pass through metal detectors known as magnetometers, or mags for short. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): The Select Committee has learned about reports from outside the magnetometers and has obtained police radio transmissions identifying individuals with firearms, including AR-15s near the Ellipse on the morning of January 6. Let's listen. Police Officer #1: Blue jeans and a blue jean jacket and underneath the blue jacket complaintants both saw the top of an AR 15. Police Officer #2: Any white males brown cowboy boots, they had Glock-style pistols in their waistbands. Police Officer #3: 8736 with the message that subject weapon on his right hip. Police Officer #4: Motor one, make sure PPD knows they have an elevated threat in the tree South side of Constitution Avenue. Look for the "Don't tread on me" flag, American flag facemask cowboy boots, weapon on the right side hip. Police Officer #5: I got three men walking down the street in fatigues and carrying AR-15s. Copy at Fourteenth and Independence. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): We're going to show now an exchange of texts between you and Deputy Chief of Staff Ornato, and these text messages were exchanged while you were at the Ellipse. In one text, you write, "but the crowd looks good from this vantage point, as long as we get the shot. He was f---ing furious." But could you tell us, first of all, who it is in the text who was furious? Cassidy Hutchinson: The he in that text that I was referring to was the President. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): And why was he furious, Miss Hutchinson? Cassidy Hutchinson: He was furious because he wanted the arena that we had on the Ellipse to be maxed out at capacity for all attendees. The advanced team had relayed to him that the mags were free flowing. Everybody who wanted to come in had already come in, but he still was angry about the extra space and wanted more people to come in. Cassidy Hutchinson: And that's what Tony [Ornato] had been trying to relate to him [President Trump] that morning. You know, it's not the issue that we encountered on the campaign. We have enough space. They don't want to come in right now, they have weapons they don't want confiscated by the Secret Service. They're fine on the Mall, they can see you on the Mall and they want to march straight to the Capitol from the Mall. But when we were in the off stage announced tent, I was part of a conversation -- I was in the, I was in the vicinity of a conversation -- where I overheard the President say something to the effect of you know, "I don't think that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me take the effing mags away. Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in, take the effing mags away." Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): On December 1, 2020, Attorney General Barr said in an interview that the Department of Justice had now not found evidence of widespread election fraud, sufficient to change the outcome of the election. Ms. Hutchinson, how did the President react to hearing that news? Cassidy Hutchinson: I left the office and went down to the dining room, and I noticed that the door was propped open in the valet was inside the dining room changing the tablecloth off of the dining room table. The valet had articulated that the President was extremely angry at the Attorney General's AP interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): Miss Hutchinson, Attorney General Barr described to the Committee the President's angry reaction when he finally met with President Trump. Let's listen. Former Attorney General Bill Barr: And I said, "Look, I I know that you're dissatisfied with me and I'm glad to offer my resignation" and then he pounded the table very hard. Everyone sort of jumped and he said "Accepted." Reporter: Leader McCarthy, Do you condemn this violence? Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): I completely condemn the violence in the Capitol. What we're currently watching unfold is un-American. I'm disappointed, I'm sad. This is not what our country should look like. This is not who we are. This is not the First Amendment. This has to stop and this has to stop now. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): Did White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ever indicate that he was interested in receiving a Presidential Pardon related to January 6? Cassidy Hutchinson: Mr. Meadows did seek that pardon. Yes, ma'am. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): While our committee has seen many witnesses, including many Republicans, testify fully and forthrightly, this has not been true of every witness. And we have received evidence of one particular practice that raises significant concern. Our committee commonly asks witnesses connected to Mr. Trump's administration or campaign whether they'd been contacted by any of their former colleagues, or anyone else who attempted to influence or impact their testimony, without identifying any of the individuals involved. Let me show you a couple of samples of answers we received to this question. First, here's how one witness described phone calls from people interested in that witness's testimony. "What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I'm on the right team, I'm doing the right thing, I'm protecting who I need to protect, you know, I'll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World. And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just keep that in mind as I proceed through my interviews with the committee." Here's another sample in a different context. This is a call received by one of our witnesses. "A person let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he's thinking about you. He knows you're loyal, and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition." I think most Americans know that attempting to influence witnesses to testify untruthfully presents very serious concerns. 06/23/22 Select Committee Hearing June 23, 2022 House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol Witnesses: Jeffrey A. Rosen, Former Acting Attorney General Richard Donoghue, Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Steven Engel, Former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Eric Herschmann, Former White House Senior Advisor Clips Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS): From the time you took over from Attorney General Barr until January 3, how often did President Trump contact you or the Department to push allegations of election fraud? Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen: So between December 23 and January 3, the president either called me or met with me virtually every day, with one or two exceptions like Christmas Day Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ): Again, I join my colleagues in calling on Attorney General Barr to immediately let us know what he's doing. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ): We're already working on challenging the certified electors. And what about the court? How pathetic are the courts? Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): January 6, I'm joining with the fighters in the Congress, and we are going to object to electors from states that didn't run clean elections. Democracy is left undefended if we accept the result of a stolen election without fighting with every bit of vigor we can muster. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): The ultimate date of significance is January 6. This is how the process works. The ultimate arbiter here, the ultimate check and balance, is the United States Congress. And when something is done in an unconstitutional fashion, which happened in several of these states, we have a duty to step forward and have this debate and have this vote on the 6th of January. Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: So both the Acting Attorney General [Rosen] and I tried to explain to the President on this occasion, and on several other occasions that the Justice Department has a very important, very specific, but very limited role in these elections. States run their elections. We are not quality control for the states. We are obviously interested in and have a mission that relates to criminal conduct in relation to federal elections. We also have related civil rights responsibilities. So we do have an important role, but the bottom line was if a state ran their election in such a way that it was defective, that is to the state or Congress to correct. It is not for the Justice Department to step in. And I certainly understood the President, as a layman, not understanding why the Justice Department didn't have at least a civil role to step in and bring suit on behalf of the American people. We tried to explain that to him. The American people do not constitute the client for the United States Justice Department. The one and only client of the United States Justice Department is the United States government. And the United States government does not have standing, as we were repeatedly told by our internal teams. Office of Legal Counsel, led by Steve Engel, as well as the Office of the Solicitor General researched it and gave us thorough clear opinions that we simply did not have standing and we tried to explain that to the President on numerous occasions. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): Let's take a look at another one of your notes. You also noted that Mr. Rosen said to Mr. Trump, quote, "DOJ can't and won't snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election." How did the President respond to that, sir? Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: He responded very quickly and said, essentially, that's not what I'm asking you to do. What I'm just asking you to do is just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen. Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: There were isolated instances of fraud. None of them came close to calling into question the outcome of the election in any individual State. January 6 Committee Lawyer: And was representative Gaetz requesting a pardon? Eric Herschmann: Believe so. The general tone was, we may get prosecuted because we were defensive of, you know, the President's positions on these things. A pardon that he was discussing, requesting, was as broad as you could describe, from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things. He had mentioned Nixon and I said Nixon's pardon was never nearly that broad. January 6 Committee Lawyer: And are you aware of any members of Congress seeking pardons? Cassidy Hutchinson: I guess Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Brooks, I know, both advocated for, there to be a blanket pardon for members involved in that meeting and a handful of other members that weren't at the December 21 meeting as the preemptive pardons. Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon and he was doing so since early December. I'm not sure why. Mr. Gaetz had reached out to me to ask if he could have a meeting with Mr. Meadows about receiving a Presidential pardon. January 6 Committee Lawyer: Did they all contact you? Cassidy Hutchinson: Not all of them, but several of them did. January 6 Committee Lawyer: So you'd be mentioned Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Brooks. Cassidy Hutchinson: Mr. Biggs did. Mr. Jordan talks about congressional pardons but he never asked me for one. It was more for an update on whether the White House is going to pardon members of Congress. Mr. Gohmert asked for one as well. Mr. Perry asked for a pardon too, I'm sorry. January 6 Committee Lawyer: Mr. Perry, did he talk to you directly? Cassidy Hutchinson: Yes, he did. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): Mr. Clark was the acting head of the Civil Division and head of Environmental and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice. Do either of those divisions have any role whatsoever in investigating election fraud, sir? Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen: No. And and to my awareness, Jeff Clark had had no prior involvement of any kind with regard to the work that the department was doing. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): Is there a policy that governs who can have contact directly with the White House? Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen: Yes. So across many administrations for a long period of time, there's a policy that particularly with regard to criminal investigations restricts at both the White House and the Justice Department and those more sensitive issues to the highest ranks. So for criminal matters, the policy for a long time has been that only the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General from the DOJ side can have conversations about criminal matters with the White House, or the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General can authorize someone for a specific item with their permission. But the idea is to make sure that the top rung of the Justice Department knows about it, and is in the thing to control it and make sure only appropriate things are done. Steven Engel: The purpose of these these policies is to keep these communications as infrequent, and at the highest levels as possible, just to make sure that people who are less careful about it who don't really understand these implications, such as Mr. Clark, don't run afoul of those contact policies. Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen: He acknowledged that shortly before Christmas, he had gone to a meeting in the Oval Office with the President. That, of course, surprised me. And I asked him, How did that happen? And he was defensive, he said it had been unplanned, that he had been talking to someone he referred to as "General Perry," but I believe is Congressman Perry, and that, unbeknownst to him, he was asked to go to a meeting and he didn't know it, but it turned out it was at the Oval -- he found himself at the Oval Office. And he was apologetic for that. And I said, Well, you didn't tell me about it. It wasn't authorized. And you didn't even tell me after the fact. You know, this is not not appropriate. But he was contrite and said it had been inadvertent and it would not happen again and that if anyone asked him to go to such a meeting, he would notify [Former Acting Deputy Attorney General] Rich Donohue and me. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): On the same day Acting Attorney General Rosen told Mr. Clark to stop talking to the White House, Representative Perry was urging Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to elevate Clark within the Department of Justice. You can now see on the screen behind me a series of tasks between representative Perry and Mr. Meadows. They show that Representative Perry requested that Mr. Clark be elevated within the department. Representative Perry tells Mr. Meadows on December 26, that quote, "Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down, 11 days to January 6 and 25 days to inauguration. We've got to get going!" Representative Perry followed up and says quote, "Mark, you should call Jeff. I just got off the phone with him and he explained to me why the principal deputy won't work especially with the FBI. They will view it as not having the authority to enforce what needs to be done." Mr. Meadows responds with "I got it. I think I understand. Let me work on the deputy position." Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): Mr. Donohue on December 28, Mr. Clark emailed you and Mr. Rosen a draft letter that he wanted you to sign and send to Georgia State officials. This letter claims that the US Department of Justice's investigations have quote, "identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the state of Georgia." The letter also said this: quote, "in light of these developments, the Department recommends that the Georgia General Assembly should convene in special session," end quote, and consider approving a new slate of electors. Steven Engel: The States had chosen their electors, the electors had been certified, they'd cast their votes, they had been sent to Washington DC. Neither Georgia nor any of the other States on December 28, or whenever this was, was in a position to change those votes. Essentially, the election had happened. The only thing that hadn't happened was the formal counting of the votes. Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: I had to read both the email and the attached letter twice to make sure I really understood what he was proposing because it was so extreme to me, I had a hard time getting my head around it initially. But I read it and I did understand it for what he intended and I had to sit down and sort of compose what I thought was an appropriate response. In my response, I explained a number of reasons this is not the Department's role to suggest or dictate to State legislatures how they should select their electors. But more importantly, this was not based on fact, that this was actually contrary to the facts, as developed by Department investigations over the last several weeks and months. So I responded to that. And for the Department to insert itself into the political process's way, I think would have had grave consequences for the country. It may very well have spiraled us into a Constitutional crisis. And I wanted to make sure that he understood the gravity of the situation because he didn't seem to really appreciate it. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): President Trump rushed back early from Mar-a-Lago on December 31, and called an emergency meeting with the Department's leadership. Mr. Donohue, during this meeting, did the President tell you that he would remove you and Mr. Rosen because you weren't declaring there was election fraud? Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: Toward the end of the meeting, the President, again was getting very agitated. And he said, "People tell me I should just get rid of both of you. I should just remove you and make a change in the leadership, put Jeff Clark and maybe something will finally get done." Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): Mr. Rosen during a January 2 meeting with Mr. Clark, did you confront him again about his contact with the President? And if so, can you describe that? Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen: We had -- it was a contentious meeting where we were chastising him that he was insubordinate, he was out of line, he had not honored his own representations of what he would do. And he raised again, that he thought that letter should go out. And we were not receptive to that. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): So in that meeting, did Mr. Clark say he would turn down the President's offer if you reversed your position and sign the letter? Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen: Yes. Subsequently, he told me that on the on Sunday the 3rd. He told me that the timeline had moved up, and that the President had offered him the job and that he was accepting it. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): White House Call Logs obtained by the Committee show that by 4:19pm, on January 3, the White House had already begun referring to Mr. Clark as the Acting Attorney General. Let's ask about that, what was your reaction to that? Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen: Well, you know, on the one hand, I wasn't going to accept being fired by my subordinate. So I wanted to talk to the President directly. Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: So the four of us knew, but no one else, aside from Jeff Clark of course, knew what was going on until late that Sunday afternoon. We chose to keep a close hold, because we didn't want to create concern or panic in the Justice Department leadership. But at this point, I asked the Acting AG [Rosen], what else can I do to help prepare for this meeting in the Oval Office, and he said, You and Pat [Cipollone] should get the Assistant Attorney Generals on the phone, and it's time to let them know what's going on. Let's find out what they may do if there's a change in leadership, because that will help inform the conversation at the Oval Office. We got most, not all, but most of the AAGs on the phone. We very quickly explained to them what the situation was. [They] essentially said they would leave, they would resign en mass if the President made that change in the department leadership. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): DOJ leadership arrived at the White House. Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: The conversation this point was really about whether the President should remove Jeff Rosen and replace him with Jeff Clark. And everyone in the room, I think, understood that that meant that letter would go out. And at some point, the conversation turned to whether Jeff Clark was even qualified, competent to run the Justice Department, which in my mind, he clearly was not. And it was a heated conversation. I thought it was useful to point out to the President that Jeff Clark simply didn't have the skills, the ability and the experience to run the Department. And so I said, "Mr. President, you're talking about putting a man in that seat who has never tried a criminal case, who's never conducted a criminal investigation, he's telling you that he's going to take charge of the department, 115,000 employees, including the entire FBI, and turn the place on a dime and conduct nationwide criminal investigations that will produce results in a matter of days. It's impossible. It's absurd. It's not going to happen, and it's going to fail. He has never been in front of a trial jury, a grand jury. He's never even been to Chris Wray's office." I said at one point, "if you walked into Chris Wray's office, one, would you know how to get there and, two, if you got there, would he even know who you are? And you really think that the FBI is going to suddenly start following you orders? It's not going to happen. He's not competent." And that's the point at which Mr. Clark tried to defend himself by saying, "Well, I've been involved in very significant civil and environmental litigation. I've argued many appeals and appellate courts and things of that nature." And then I pointed out that, yes, he was an environmental lawyer, and I didn't think that was appropriate background to be running in the United States Justice Department. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): Did anybody in there support Mr. Clark? Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: No one. Along those lines, he [former President Trump] said, "so suppose I do this, suppose I replace him, Jeff Rosen, with him, Jeff Clark, what would you do?" And I said, "Mr. President, I would resign immediately. I'm not working one minute for this guy [Clark], who I just declared was completely incompetent." And so the President immediately turned to to Mr. Engel. Steven Engel: My recollection is that when the President turned to me and said, "Steve, you wouldn't leave, would you?" I said, "Mr. President, I've been with you through four Attorneys General, including two Acting Attorneys General, but I couldn't be part of this." Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: And I said, and we're not the only ones. No one cares if we resign. If Steve and I go, that's fine, it doesn't matter. But I'm telling you what's going to happen. You're gonna lose your entire Department leadership, every single AAG will walk out on you. Your entire Department of leadership will walk out within hours." And I said, "Mr. President, within 24...48...72 hours, you could have hundreds and hundreds of resignations of the leadership of your entire Justice Department because of your actions. What's that going to say about you?" Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: And then the other thing that I said was that, you know, look, all anyone is going to sort of think about when they see one is going to read this letter....all anyone is going to think is that you went through two Attorneys General in two weeks until you found the environmental guy to sign this thing. And so the story is not going to be that the Department of Justice has found massive corruption that would have changed results of the election. It's going to be the disaster of Jeff Clark. I think at that point Pat Cipollone said, "Yeah, this is a murder suicide pact, this letter." Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): Mr. Cipollone, the White House Counsel, told the Committee that Mr. Engels response had a noticeable impact on the President, that this was a turning point in the conversation. Mr. Donohue, towards the end of this meeting, did the President asked you what was going to happen to Mr. Clark? Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: He did. When we finally got to, I'd say, the last 15 minutes of the meeting, the President's decision was apparent, he announced it. Jeff Clark tried to scrape his way back and asked the President to reconsider. The President double down said "No, I've made my decision. That's it. We're not going to do it." And then he turned to me and said, "so what happens to him now?" Meaning Mr. Clark. He understood that Mr. Clark reported to me. And I didn't initially understand the question. I said, "Mr. President?" and he said, "Are you going to fire him?" And I said, "I don't have the authority to fire him. He's the Senate confirmed Assistant Attorney General." And he said, "Well, who has the authority to fire him?" And I said, "Only you do, sir." And he said, "Well, I'm not going to fire him." I said, "Alright, well, then we should all go back to work." 06/21/22 Select Committee Hearing June 21, 2022 House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol Witnesses: Rusty Bowers, Arizona House Speaker Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State Gabriel Sterling, Georgia Secretary of State Chief Operating Officer Wandrea ArShaye, “Shaye” Moss, former Georgia election worker Ronna Romney McDaniel, RNC Chair Justin Clark, former Trump Campaign lawyer Robert Sinners, former Trump campaign staffer Andrew Hitt, Former Wisconsin Republican Party Chair Laura Cox, Former Michigan Republican Party Chair Josh Roselman, Investigative Counsel for the J6 Committee John Eastman, Former Trump Lawyer Mike Shirkey, Majority Leader of the Michigan Senate Angela McCallum, Trump Campaign caller Rudy Giuliani Clips Josh Roselman: My name is Josh Roselman, I'm an Investigative Counsel for the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol. Beginning in late November 2020. The President and his lawyers started appearing before state legislators, urging them to give their electoral votes to Trump, even though he lost the popular vote. This was a strategy with both practical and legal elements. The Select Committee has obtained an email from just two days after the election, in which a Trump campaign lawyer named Cleata Mitchell asked another Trump lawyer, John Eastman, to write a memo justifying the idea. Eastman prepared a memo attempting to justify this strategy, which was circulated to the Trump White House, Rudy Giuliani's legal team, and state legislators around the country and he appeared before the Georgia State Legislature to advocate for it publicly. John Eastman: You could also do what the Florida Legislature was prepared to do, which is to adopt a slate of electors yourself. And when you add in the mix of the significant statistical anomalies in sworn affidavits and video evidence of outright election fraud, I don't think it's just your authority to do that, but quite frankly, I think you have a duty to do that to protect the integrity of the election here in Georgia. Josh Roselman: But Republican officials in several states released public statements recognizing that President Trump's proposal was unlawful. For instance, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp called the proposal unconstitutional, while Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers wrote that the idea would undermine the rule of law. The pressure campaign to get state legislators to go along with this scheme intensified when President Trump invited delegations from Michigan and Pennsylvania to the White House. January 6 Committee Lawyer: Either you or speaker Chatfield, did you make the point to the President, that you were not going to do anything that violated Michigan law? Mike Shirkey: I believe we did. Whether or not it was those exact words or not, I think the words that I would have more likely used is, "we are going to follow the law." Josh Roselman: Nevertheless, the pressure continued. The next day President Trump tweeted quote, "hopefully the Courts and/or Legislatures will have the COURAGE to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our Elections, and the United States of America itself. THE WORLD IS WATCHING!!!!" He posted multiple messages on Facebook, listing the contact information for state officials and urging his supporters to contact them to quote "demand a vote on decertification." These efforts also involves targeted outreach to state legislators from President Trump's lawyers and from Trump himself. Angela McCallum: Hi, my name is Angela McCallum, I'm calling from Trump campaign headquarters in Washington DC. You do have the power to reclaim your authority and send us a slate of Electors that will support President Trump and Vice President Pence. Josh Roselman: Another legislator, Pennsylvania House Speaker Brian Cutler, received daily voicemails from Trump's lawyers in the last week of November. Cutler felt that the outreach was inappropriate and asked his lawyers to tell Rudy Giuliani to stop calling, but Giuliani continued to reach out. Rudy Giuliani: I understand that you don't want to talk to me now. I just want to bring some facts to your attention and talk to you as a fellow Republican. Josh Roselman: These ads were another element in the effort. The Trump campaign spent millions of dollars running ads online and on television. Commercial Announcer: The evidence is overwhelming. Call your governor and legislators demand they inspect the machines and hear the evidence. Fake electors scheme Casey Lucier: My name is Casey Lucier. I'm an Investigative Counsel for the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol. On November 18, a lawyer working with the Trump campaign named Kenneth Chesebro wrote a memo arguing that the Trump campaign should organize its own electors in the swing states that President Trump had lost. The Select Committee received testimony that those close to President Trump began planning to organize fake electors for Trump in states that Biden won in the weeks after the election. At the President's direct request, the RNC assisted the campaign in coordinating this effort. January 6 Committee Lawyer: What did the President say when he called you? Ronna Romney McDaniel: Essentially, he turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing change the result of any dates, I think more just helping them reach out and assemble them. But the My understanding is the campaign did take the lead, and we just were helping them in that in that role. Casey Lucier: As President Trump and his supporters continued to lose lawsuits, some campaign lawyers became convinced that convening electors in states that Trump lost was no longer appropriate. Justin Clark: I just remember I either replied or called somebody saying, unless we have litigation pending this, like in the states, like, I don't think this is appropriate, or no, this isn't the right thing to do. I'm out. Matt Morgan: At that point, I had Josh Findlay email Mr. Chesebro, politely, to say, "This is your task. You are responsible for the Electoral College issues moving forward". And this was my way of taking that responsibility to zero. Casey Lucier: The Committee learned the White House Counsel's Office also felt the plan was potentially illegal. January 6 Committee Lawyer: And so to be clear, did you hear the White House Counsel's office saying that this plan to have alternate electors meet and cast votes for Donald Trump in states that he had lost was not legally sound? Cassidy Hutchinson: Yes, sir. Casey Lucier: The Select Committee interviewed several of the individual fake electors, as well as Trump campaign staff who helped organize the effort. Robert Sinners: We were just, you know, kind of useful idiots or rubes at that point. You know, a strong part of me really feels that it's just kind of as the road continued, and as that was failure, failure, failure that that got formulated as what do we have on the table? Let's just do it. January 6 Committee Lawyer: And now after what we've told you today about the Select Committee's investigation about the conclusion of the professional lawyers on the campaign staff, Justin Clark, Matt Morgan and Josh Findlay, about their unwillingness to participate in the convening of these electors, how does that contribute to your understanding of these issues? Robert Sinners: I'm angry, I'm angry. Because I think in a sense, you know, no one really cared if people were potentially putting themselves in jeopardy. January 6 Committee Lawyer: Would you have not wanted to participate in this any further, as well? Robert Sinners: I absolutely would not have had I know that the three main lawyers for the campaign that I've spoken to in the past, and were leading up, we're not on board. Yeah. Andrew Hitt: I was told that these would only count if a court ruled in our favor. So that would have been using our electors. Well, it would have been using our electors in ways that we weren't told about and we wouldn't have supported. Casey Lucier: Documents obtained by the Select Committee indicate that instructions were given to the electors in several states that they needed to cast their ballots in complete secrecy. Because the scheme involved fake electors, those participating in certain states had no way to comply with state election laws, like where the electors were supposed to meet. One group of fake electors even considered hiding overnight to ensure that they could access the State Capitol, as required in Michigan. January 6 Committee Lawyer: Did Mr. Norton say who he was working with at all on this effort to have electors meet? Laura Cox: He said he was working with the President's campaign. He told me that the Michigan Republican electors were planning to meet in the Capitol and hide overnight so that they could fulfill the role of casting their vote per law in the Michigan chambers and I told him in no uncertain terms that that was insane and inappropriate. Casey Lucier: In one state, the fake electors even asked for a promise that the campaign would pay their legal fees if they got sued or charged with a crime. Ultimately, fake electors did meet on December 14, 2020 in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada and Wisconsin. At the request of the Trump campaign, the electors from these battleground states signed documents falsely asserting that they were the quote, "duly elected" electors from their state and submitted them to the National Archives and to Vice President Pence in his capacity as President of the Senate. In an email produced to the Select Committee, Dr. Eastman told the Trump campaign representative that it did not matter that the electors had not been approved by a state authority. Quote, "the fact that we have multiple slates of electors demonstrates the uncertainty of either. That should be enough." He urged that Pence "act boldly and be challenged." Documents produced to the Select Committee show that the Trump campaign took steps to ensure that the physical copies of the fake electors' electoral votes from two states were delivered to Washington for January 6. Text messages exchanged between Republican Party officials in Wisconsin show that on January 4, the Trump campaign asked for someone to fly their fake electors' documents to Washington. A staffer for Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson texted a staffer for Vice President Pence just minutes before the beginning of the Joint Session. This staffer stated that Senator Johnson wished to hand deliver to the Vice President the fake electors' votes from Michigan and Wisconsin. The Vice President's aide unambiguously instructed them not to deliver the fake votes to the Vice President. Even though the fake elector slates were transmitted to Congress and the Executive Branch, the Vice President held firm and his position that his role was to count lawfully submitted electoral votes. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS): Brad Raffensperger is the 29th Secretary of State of Georgia, serving in this role since 2019. As an elected official, and a Republican Secretary, Raffensperger is responsible for supervising elections in Georgia and maintaining the state's public records. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS): Speaker Bowers, thank you for being with us today. You're the speaker of the Arizona House and a self-described conservative Republican. You campaigned for President Trump and with him during the 2020 election. Is it fair to say that you wanted Donald Trump to win a second term in office? Please? Rusty Bowers: Yes, sir. Thank you. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS): And is it your understanding that President Biden was the winner of the popular vote in Arizona in 2020? Rusty Bowers: Yes, sir. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Before we begin with the questions that I had prepared for you, I want to ask you about a statement that former President Trump issued, which I received just prior to the hearing. Former President Trump begins by calling you a RINO, Republican in Name Only. He then references a conversation in November 2020, in which he claims that you told him that the election was rigged, and that he had won Arizona. To quote the former President, "during the conversation, he told me the election was rigged and that I won Arizona," unquote. Is that false? Rusty Bowers: Anywhere, anyone, anytime that has said that I said the election was rigged, that would not be true. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): And when the former President, in his statement today, claimed that you told him that he won Arizona, is that also false? Rusty Bowers: That is also false. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Mr. Bowers, I understand that after the election, you received a phone call from President Trump and Rudy Giuliani, in which they discussed the result of the presidential election in Arizona. If you would, tell us about that call. Rusty Bowers: Mr. Giuliani came on first. And niceties...then Mr. Trump, President Trump, then-President Trump came on. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): During the conversation did you ask Mr. Giuliani for proof of these allegations of fraud that he was making? Rusty Bowers: On multiple occasions, yes. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): And when you asked him for evidence of this fraud, what did he say? Rusty Bowers: He said that they did have proof. And I asked him, "Do you have names?" [He said] for example, we have 200,000 illegal immigrants, some large number, five or six thousand, dead people, etc. And I said, "Do you have their names?" Yes. "Will you give them to me?" Yes. The President interrupted and said, "Give the man what he needs Rudy." He said, "I will." And that happened on at least two occasions, that interchange in the conversation. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Did you ever receive from him that evidence either during the call, after the call, or to this day? Rusty Bowers: Never. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): What was the ask during this call? Rusty Bowers: The ones I remember, were first, that we would hold -- that I would allow an official committee at at the Capitol so that they could hear this evidence, and that we could take action thereafter. I said, "to what end? To what end the hearing." He said, well, we have heard by an official high up in the Republican legislature that there is a legal theory or a legal ability in Arizona, that you can remove the the electors of President Biden and replace them. And we would like to have the legitimate opportunity, through the committee, to come to that end and and remove that. And I said that's, that's something that's totally new to me. I've never heard of any such thing. And I would never do anything of such magnitude without deep consultation with qualified attorneys. And I said, I've got some good attorneys, and I'm going to give you their names. But you're asking me to do something against my oath and I will not break my oath. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Did you also receive a call from US Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona on the morning of January 6? Rusty Bowers: I did. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): And what did Mr. Biggs asked you to do? Rusty Bowers: I believe that was the day that the vote was occurring in each state to have certification or to declare the certification of the electors. And he asked if I would sign on both to a letter that had been sent from my State, and/or that I would support the decertification of the electors. And I said I would not. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Speaking Bowers, did the President call you again later in December? Rusty Bowers: He did, sir. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Did you tell the president in that second call that you supported him, that you voted for him, but that you are not going to do anything illegal for him? Rusty Bowers: I did, sir. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Nevertheless, his lawyer John Eastman called you some days later, and what did Dr. Eastman want you to do? Rusty Bowers: That we would, in fact, take a vote to overthrow -- or I shouldn't say overthrow -- that we would decertify the electors, and that we had plenary authority to do so. But I said, "What would you have me do?" And he said, "Just do it and let the court sorted out." And I said, "You're asking me to do something that's never been done in history, the history of the United States. And I'm going to put my state through that without sufficient proof? And that's going to be good enough with me? That I would, I would put us through that, my state that I swore to uphold, both in Constitution and in law? No, sir." Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): I want to look even more deeply at the fake electoral scheme. Every four years, citizens from all over the United States go to the polls to elect the President. Under our Constitution, when we cast our votes for president, we are actually voting to send electors pledged to our preferred candidate to the Electoral College. In December, the electors in each state meet, cast their votes, and send those votes to Washington. There was only one legitimate slate of electors from each state. On the Sixth day of January, Congress meets in a joint session to count those votes, and the winner of the Electoral College vote becomes the president. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS): Secretary Raffensburger, thank you for being here today. You've been a public servant in Georgia since 2015, serving first as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, and then since January 2019, as Georgia Secretary of State as a self described conservative Republican. Is it fair to say that you wanted President Trump to win the 2020 election? Brad Raffensperger: Yes, it is. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Secretary Raffensperger, did Joe Biden win the 2020 presidential election in Georgia and by what margin? Brad Raffensperger: President Biden carried the state of Georgia by approximately 12,000 votes. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Bear in mind as we discuss this call today that by this point in time, early January, the election in Georgia had already been certified. But perhaps more important, the President of the United States had already been told repeatedly by his own top Justice Department officials that the claims he was about to make to you about massive fraud in Georgia were completely false. 06/16/22 Select Committee Hearing June 16, 2022 House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol Witnesses: Greg Jacob, Former Counsel to Vice President Mike Pence J. Michael Luttig, Retired judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and informal advisor to Mike Pence Julie Radford, Former Chief of Staff for Ivanka Trump Eric Herschmann, Former White House Senior Advisor Nicholas Luna, Former Assistant to President Trump Gen. Keith Kellogg, Former National Security Advisor to VP Pence Clips 16:45 Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS): Greg Jacob was Counsel to Vice President Pence. He conducted a thorough analysis of the role of the Vice President in the Joint Session of Congress under the Constitution, the Electoral Count Act, and 230 years of historical practice. But he also has firsthand information about the attack on the Capitol because he lived through it. He was with the Vice President and his own life was in danger. 31:05 Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): Eastman was, at the time, a law professor at Chapman University Law School. He prepared a memo outlining the nonsensical theory that the Vice President could decide the outcome of the election at the Joint Session of Congress on January 6. 32:50 Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): Dr. Eastman himself admitted in an email that the fake electors had no legal weight. Referring to the fake electors as, quote "dead on arrival in Congress" end quote, because they did not have a certification from their States. 46:40 Greg Jacob: We had a constitutional crisis in 1876 because in that year, multiple slates of electors were certified by multiple slates [sic]. And when it came time to count those votes, the antecedent question of "which ones?" had to be answered. That required the appointment of an independent commission. That commission had to resolve that question. And the purpose of the Electoral Count Act of 1887 had been to resolve those latent ambiguities. Now I'm in complete agreement with Judge Luttig. It is unambiguous that the Vice President does not have the authority to reject electors. There is no suggestion of any kind that it does. There is no mention of rejecting or objecting to electors anywhere in the 12th amendment. And so the notion that the Vice President could do that certainly is not in the text. But the problem that we had and that John Eastman raised in our discussions was, we had all seen that in Congress in 2000, in 2004, in 2016, there had been objections raised to various states. And those had even been debated in 2004. And so, here you have an Amendment that says nothing about objecting or rejecting. And yet we did have some recent practice of that happening within the terms of the Electoral Count Act. So we started with that. 1:20:45 Greg Jacob: He again tried to say, but I don't think the courts will get involved in this. They'll invoke the political question doctrine and so if the courts stay out of it, that will mean that we'll have the 10 days for the States to weigh in and resolve it. And then, you know, they'll send back the Trump slates of electors, and the people will be able to accept that. I expressed my vociferous disagreement with that point, I did not think that this was a political question. Among other things, if the courts did not step in to resolve this, there was nobody else to resolve it. You would be in a situation where you have a standoff between the President of the United States and, counterfactually, the Vice President of the United States saying that we've exercised authorities that, Constitutionally, we think we have by which we have deemed ourselves the winners of the election. You would have an opposed House and Senate disagreeing with that. You would have State legislatures that, to that point, I mean, Republican leaders across those legislatures had put together, had put out statements, and we collected these for the Vice President as well, that the people had spoken in their States and that they had no intention of reversing the outcome of the election. We did receive some signed letters that Mr. Eastman forwarded us by minorities of leaders in those States, but no State had any legislative house that indicated that added any interest in it. So you would have had just a an unprecedented Constitutional jump ball situation with that standoff. And as I expressed to him, that issue might well then have to be decided in the streets. Because if we can't work it out politically, we've already seen how charged up people are about this election. And so it would be a disastrous situation to be in. So I said, I think the courts will intervene. I do not see a commitment in the Constitution of the question, whether the Vice President has that authority to some other actor to resolve there. There's arguments about whether Congress and the Vice President jointly have a Constitutional commitment to generally decide electoral vote issues. I don't think that they have any authority to object or reject them. I don't see it in the 12th Amendment, but nonetheless. And I concluded by saying, "John, in light of everything that we've discussed, can't we just both agree that this is a terrible idea?" And he couldn't quite bring himself to say yes to that. But he very clearly said, "Well, yeah, I see we're not going to be able to persuade you to do this." And that was how the meeting concluded. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA): We understand that the Vice President started his day on January 4 with a rally in Georgia for the Republican candidates in the US Senate runoff. When the Vice President returned to Washington, he was summoned to meet with the President regarding the upcoming Joint Session of Congress. Mr. Jacob, during that meeting between the President and the Vice President, what theories did Dr. Eastman present regarding the role of the Vice President in counting the electoral votes? Greg Jacob: During the meeting on January 4, Mr. Eastman was opining there were two legally viable arguments as to authorities that the Vice President could exercise two days later on January 6. One of them was that he could reject electoral votes outright. The other was that he could use his capacity as Presiding Officer to suspend the proceedings and declare essentially a 10-day recess during which States that he deemed to be disputed, there was a list of five to seven states, the exact number changed from conversation to conversation, but that the Vice President could sort of issue and demand to the State Legislatures in those States to re-examine the election and declare who had won each of those States. So he said that both of those were legally viable options. He said that he did not recommend, upon questioning, he did not recommend what he called the "more aggressive option," which was reject outright, because he thought that that would be less politically palatable. The imprimatur of State Legislature authority would be necessary to ultimately have public acceptance of an outcome in favor of President Trump. And so he advocated that the preferred course of action would be the procedural route of suspending the Joint Session and sending the election back to the States. And again, the Vice President's first instinct here is so decisive on this question, there's just no way that the framers of the Constitution who divided power and authority, who separated it out, who had broken away from George III, and declared him to be a tyrant, there was no way that they would have put in the hands of one person, the authority to determine who was going to be President of the United States. And then we went to history. We examined every single electoral vote count that had happened in Congress since the beginning of the country. And critically, no Vice President, in 230 years of history, had ever claimed to have that kind of authority, hadn't claimed authority to reject electoral votes, had not claimed authority to return electoral votes back to the States. In the entire history of the United States, not once had a Joint Session, ever returned electoral votes back to the States to be counted. So the history was absolutely decisive. And again, part of my discussion with Mr. Eastman was, if you were right, don't you think Al Gore might have liked to have known in 2000, that he had authority to just declare himself President of the United States? Did you think that the Democrat lawyers just didn't think of this very obvious quirk that he could use to do that? And of course, he acknowledged Al Gore did not and should not have had that authority at that point in time. So at the conclusion of the meeting on the 4th, the President had asked that our office meet with Mr. Eastman the next day to hear more about the positions he had expressed at that meeting, and the Vice President indicated that....offered me up as his counsel, to fulfill that duty. We had an extended discussion an hour and a half to two hours on January 5. What most surprised me about that meeting was that when Mr. Eastman came in, he said, "I'm here to request that you reject the electors." So on the 4th, that had been the path that he had said, "I'm not recommending that you do that." But on the 5th, he came in and expressly requested that. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA): Mr. Jacob did you, Mr. Short, and the Vice President have a call later that day, again, with the President and Dr. Eastman? Greg Jacob: So, yes, we did. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA): And what did Dr. Eastman requested on that call? Greg Jacob: On that phone call, Mr. Eastman stated that he had heard us loud and clear that morning, we were not going to be rejecting electors. But would we be open to considering the other course that we had discussed on the 4th, which would be to suspend the Joint Session and request that State Legislatures reexamine certification of the electoral votes? Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA): Trump issued a statement claiming the Vice President had agreed that he could determine the outcome of the election, despite the fact that the Vice President had consistently rejected that position. Mr. Jacob, how did the Vice President's team reacts to the statement from the President? Greg Jacob: So we were shocked and disappointed, because whoever had written and put that statement out, it was categorically untrue. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA): Mr. Jacob, did you go to the Vice President's residences on the morning of January 6? Greg Jacob: Yes. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA): Did the Vice President have a call with the President that morning? Greg Jacob: He did. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA): The President had several family members with him in the Oval that morning for that call. I'd like to show you what they and others told the Select Committee about that call. Eric Herschmann: When I got in, somebody called me and said that the family and others were in the Oval and do I want to come up? So I went upstairs. Ivanka Trump: It wasn't a specific, formal discussion. It was very sort of loose and casual. When I entered the office the second time he was on the telephone with who I later found out to be was the Vice President. January 6 Committee Lawyer: Could you hear the Vice President or only hear the President's end? Eric Herschmann: I could only hear the President's end. Ivanka Trump: The conversation was pretty heated. Eric Herschmann: I think till it became somewhat in a louder tone, I don't think anyone was paying attention to it initially. January 6 Committee Lawyer: Did you hear any part of the phone call, even if just this the end that the President was speaking from? Nicholas Luna: I did, yes. January 6 Committee Lawyer: All right. And what do you hear? Nicholas Luna: So as I was dropping off the note, my memory, I remember hearing the word "wimp." He called him a wimp. I don't remember if he said "You are a wimp," "You'll be a wimp." Wimp is the word I remember. January 6 Committee Lawyer: It's also been reported that the President said to the Vice President something to the effect that "you don't have the courage to make a hard decision." Gen. Keith Kellogg: Worse. I don't remember exactly, but it was something like that, yeah. Like "you're not tough enough to make the call." Ivanka Trump: It was a different tone than I'd heard him take with the Vice President before. Nicholas Luna: Something to the effect, this is, the wording's wrong...."I made the wrong decision four or five years ago." January 6 Committee Lawyer: And the word that she relayed to, that the President called the Vice President. I apologize for being impolite, but do you remember what she said her father called him? Julie Radford: The P word. Former President Donald Trump: I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become President and you are the happiest people. And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country. And they want to recertify their votes. They want to recertify, but the only way that can happen is if Mike Pence agrees to send it back. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do. And I hope he doesn't listen to the RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) and the stupid people that he's listening to. Trump Supporter: It's real simple. Pence betrayed us. Which apparently everybody knew he was going to and the President mentioned it, like five times when he talked. You can go back and watch the President's video. January 6th Attendee: I'm telling you what, I'm hearing that Pence, I heard that Pence just caved? Is that true? I'm hearing reports that Pence caved. I'm telling you, if Pence caved, we're gonna drag motherfuckers through the streets. You fucking politicians are gonna get fucking drug through the streets. January 6th Streamer: Yeah, I guess the hope is that there's such a show of force here that Pence will decide to just do the right thing according Trump. January 6th Crowd: Where is Pence? Bring out Pence! [chanting] Hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA): Although the President's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, has refused to testify before this committee, Mr. Meadows aide Ben Williamson, and White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews testified that Mr. Meadows went to the dining room near the Oval Office to tell the President about the violence at the Capitol before the President's 2:24pm tweet. Narrator: President Trump tweeted, "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!" Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA): Our investigation found that immediately after the president's 2:24pm tweet, the crowds both outside the capitol and inside the Capitol surged. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA): The crowds inside the Capitol were able to overwhelm the law enforcement presence and the Vice President was quickly evacuated from his ceremonial Senate office to a secure location within the Capitol Complex. January 6 Committee Lawyer: Mr. Jacob, immediately before you and the Vice President were evacuated to a secure location within the Capitol, you hit send on an email to John Eastman explaining why his legal theory about the Vice President's role was wrong. You ended your email by stating that, quote, "thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege." And Dr. Eastman replied, and this is hard to believe, but his reply back to you was "the siege is because you and your boss," presumably referring to the Vice President, United States, "did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so the American people can see for themselves what happened." Mr. Jacob, later that day, you wrote again to Dr. Eastman. In that email, you wrote, and I quote, "did you advise the President that in your professional judgment the Vice President DOES NOT have the power to decide things unilaterally?" And you ended that email saying, "it does not appear that the President ever got the memo." Dr. Eastman then replied, "he's been so advised" and he ends him email with quote, "but you know him. Once he gets something in his head, it's hard to get him to change course," close quote. Greg Jacob: Late that evening, after the Joint Session had been reconvened, Mr. Eastman emailed me to point out that, in his view, the Vice President's speech to the nation violated the Electoral Count Act, that the Electoral Count Act had been violated because the debate on Arizona had not been completed in two hours. Of course, it couldn't be, since there was an intervening riot of several hours. And the speeches that the majority and minority leaders had been allowed to make also violated the Electoral Count Act because they hadn't been counted against the debate time. And then he implored me, "now that we have established that the Electoral Count Act isn't so sacrosanct as you have made it out to be, I implore you one last time, can the Vice President, please do what we've been asking him to do these last two days, suspend the Joint Session, send it back to the States." Eric Herschmann: The day after, Eastman asked me about something dealing with Georgia and preserving something, potentially for appeal. And I said to him, "Are you out of your effing mind?" Right? I said, "I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: 'orderly transition.' I don't want to hear any other effing words coming out of your mouth, no matter what, other than orderly transition. Repeat those words to me." January 6 Committee Lawyer: And what did he said? Eric Herschmann: Eventually, he said "orderly transition." I said, "Good, John. Now I'm going to give you the best free legal advice you're ever getting in your life. Get a great effing criminal defense lawyer. You're going to need it." And then I hung up on him. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA): In fact, just a few days later, Dr. Eastman emailed Rudy Giuliani and requested that he be included on a list of potential recipients of a Presidential pardon. Dr. Eastman did not receive his presidential pardon. 06/13/2022 Select Committee Hearing June 13, 2022 House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol Witnesses: William Stepien, Former Trump Campaign Manager Chris Stirewalt, Former Fox News Political Editor Benjamin Ginsberg, Election Attorney BJay Pak, Former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Al Schmidt, Former City Commissioner of Philadelphia Matt Morgan, Former General Counsel, Trump Campaign Clips 10:15 Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY): On January 2, the General Counsel of the Trump campaign, Matthew Morgan, this is the campaign's chief lawyer, summarized what the campaign had concluded weeks earlier, that none of the arguments about fraud or anything else could actually change the outcome of the election. Matt Morgan: Generally discussed on that topic was whether the fraud, maladministration, abuse or irregularities, if aggregated and read most favorably to the campaign, would that be outcome determinative and I think everyone assessment in the room, at least amongst the staff, Mark Short, myself and Greg Jacob, was that it was not sufficient to be outcome determinative. 14:50 Former President Donald Trump: You know, the things with bundling and all of the things that are happening with votes by mail, where 1000s of votes are gathered, and I'm not gonna say which party does it but 1000s of votes are gathered and they come in and they're dumped in a location and then all of a sudden you lose elections that you think you're going to win. Former President Donald Trump: The only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged. Remember that. The only way we're going to lose this election. Former President Donald Trump: This is going to be a fraud like you've never seen. Did you see what's going on? Take a look at West Virginia mailman selling the ballots. They're being sold. They're being dumped in rivers. This is a horrible thing for our country. This is not as no this is not going to end well. 29:40 Chris Stirewalt: In the 40 or 50 years, let's say, that Americans have increasingly chosen to vote by mail or early or absentee, Democrats prefer that method of voting more than Republicans do. So basically, in every election, Republicans win election day, and Democrats win the early vote. And then you wait and start counting. And it depends on which ones you count first, but usually, it's election day votes that get counted first, and you see the Republican shoot ahead. And then the process of bailing and binding and unbinding all those mail in votes, in some states, like Pennsylvania, refuse to count the votes first. So you have to wait for all of that to come in. So in every election, and certainly a national election, you expect to see the Republican with a lead, but it's not really a lead. When you put together a jigsaw puzzle, it doesn't matter which piece you put in first, it ends up with the same image. So for us, who cares? But that's because no candidate had ever tried to avail themselves of this quirk. In the election counting system, we had gone to pains, and I'm proud of the pains we went to, to make sure that we were informing viewers that this was going to happen because of the Trump campaign. And the President had made it clear that they were going to try to exploit this anomaly. And we knew it was going to be bigger, because the percentage of early votes was higher, right? We went from about 45% of the votes being early and absentee to, because of the pandemic, that increased by about 50%. So we knew it would be longer. We knew it would be more. So we wanted to keep telling viewers, "Hey, look, the number that you see here is sort of irrelevant because it's only a small percentage of these votes." 1:06:05 Former Attorney General Bill Barr: And I was somewhat demoralized because I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff he has, you know, lost contact with -- he's become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff. On the other hand, you know, when I went into this and would, you know, tell them how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts are. 1:10:25 Jeff Rosen: There were instances where the President would say, people are telling me this, or I've heard this, or I saw on television, you know, this, this impropriety in Atlanta or Pennsylvania or something, and we were in a position to say, people have already looked at that and we know that you're getting bad information that that's, that's not correct. It's been demonstrated to be incorrect from our point of view. 1:14:55 Richard Donoghue: I tried to, again put this in perspective and to try to put it in very clear terms to the President. And I said something to the effect of "Sir we've done dozens of investigations hundreds of interviews. The major allegations are not supported by the evidence developed. We've looked at Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada. We're doing our job. Much of the info you're getting is false." 06/09/2022 Select Committee Hearing June 9, 2022 House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol Witnesses: U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards Nick Quested, Filmmaker and Documentarian Clips Bill Bar: I had three discussions with the President that I can recall. One was on November 2, one was on December 1, and one was on December 14. And I've been through sort of the give and take of those discussions. And in that context, I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the President was bullshit. Robert Schornack: What really made me want to come was the fact that, you know, I had supported Trump all that time. I did believe, you know that the election was being stolen. And Trump asked us to come. Eric Barber: He personally asked for us to come to DC that day. And I thought, for everything he's done for us, if that's the only thing he's gonna ask me, I'll do it. Former President Donald Trump: We're gonna walk down to the Capitol. Interviewer: Do you recall President Trump mentioning going to the Capitol during his speech? Eric Barber: Oh, yeah. So that's one of my disappointments. He said he was gonna go go with us that he was gonna be there. John Wright: I know why I was there. And that's because he called me there. And he laid out what is happening in our government. He laid it out. George Meza: I remember Donald Trump telling people to be there. Right. I mean, to support. Interviewer: You mentioned that the President asked you. Do you remember a specific message? Daniel Herendeen: Basically, he asked for us to come to DC and big things are gonna happen. Matthew Walter: What got me interested is he said I have something very important to say on January 6, or something like that. That's what got me interested to be there. Robert Schornack: You know, Trump has only asked me for two things. He asked me for my vote and he asked me to come on January 6. The Capitol Insurrection: Unexplained Delays and Unanswered Questions May 12, 2021 House Committee on Oversight and Reform Witnesses: Chris Miller, Former Acting Secretary of Defense Robert Contee, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department Clips 40:52 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Mr. Miller, you were the Acting Secretary of Defense on January 6th, did President Trump as the commander in chief of the US Armed Forces call you during the January 6 attack to ensure the capital was being secured? Mr. Miller? Chris Miller: No, I had all the authority I needed from the president to fulfill my constitutional duties. 3:12:18 Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA): Were you ordered to delay deployment of troops? Chris Miller: 110% Absolutely not. No, that is not the case. January 6 Attack on the Capitol February 23, 2021 Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Committee on Rules and Administration Witnesses: Robert Contee, Acting Chief of Police for the Metropolitan Police Department Steven Sund, Former Chief of the United States Capitol Police Clips 39:21 Robert Contee: MPD is prohibited by federal law from entering the Capitol or its grounds to patrol, make arrests or served warrants without the consent request of the Capitol Police board. 39:32 Robert Contee: The President of the United States, not the Mayor of the District of Columbia, controls the DC National Guard. 1:05:36 Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): Mr. Sund, you stated in your written testimony that you first made a request for the Capitol Police board to declare an emergency and authorized National Guard support on Monday January 4th, and that request was not granted. Steven Sund: That is correct, ma’am. 1:05:47 Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN): Your testimony makes clear that the current structure of the Capitol Police corps resulted in delays in bringing in assistance from the National Guard. Would you agree with that? That’s one of the things we want to look at. Steven Sund: Yes, ma’am. 1:07:23 Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN): Mr. Sund your written testimony states that you had no authority to request the assistance of the National Guard without an emergency declaration of the Capitol Police board. On what rule, regulation or authority did you base that view? Steven Sund: I’d have to go back and look at the specific rule, but it’s a standard. It’s a standing rule that we have. I cannot request the National Guard without a declaration of emergency from the Capitol Police board. It’s kind of interesting because it’s very similar to the fact you know, I can’t even give my men and women cold water on an excessively hot day without a declaration of emergency. It’s just a process that’s in place. 2:39:22 Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR): Have you ever held a drill to respond this situation where a crowd pushes past the exterior barricades? Steven Sund: Not this level of situation no, sir. Executive Producer Recommended Sources “PREPARED REMARKS: Sanders Files Amendment on Microchip Legislation to Restrict Blank Check Corporate Welfare.” Jul 19, 2022. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. 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)
1/6/20232 hours, 14 minutes, 58 seconds
Episode Artwork

CD265: Policing FTX

FTX, at one point the world’s third largest cryptocurrency exchange, went bankrupt, causing the entire cryptocurrency industry to crash. In this episode, hear highlights from Congressional testimony that will explain how FTX was able to grow so large while committing blatant fraud, how it’s possible that the government didn’t know and didn’t do anything to stop it, and hear about a Senate bill that’s branded as a solution but has concerning flaws of it’s own. Executive Producer: Brandon Lewis Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the show notes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD264: Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain CD235: The Safe Haven of Sanctions Evaders What is FTX? “What is FTX?” Timothy Smith. Dec 22, 2022. Investopedia. Crypto Regulation “U.S. Senate Is Still Confused About How to Regulate Crypto After FTX Collapse.” Kyle Barr. Dec 1, 2022. Gizmodo. “Congressmembers Tried to Stop the SEC’s Inquiry Into FTX.” David Dayen. Nov 23, 2022. The American Prospect. “We Already Have Laws to Stop Crypto Fraud.” David Dayen. Nov 17, 2022. The American Prospect. “Why Is Congress Still Writing Crypto Regulations?” David Dayen. Nov 10, 2022. The American Prospect. “Letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler Regarding Cryptocurrency Inquiries.” Tom Emmer et al. Mar 16, 2022. “Letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler Regarding Cryptocurrency Inquiries.” Lead-up to FTX Collapse “In about-face, Crypto exchange Binance pulls out of FTX acquisition.” Elizabeth Napolitano. Nov 9, 2022. NBC News. "Crypto exchange FTX saw $6 bln in withdrawals in 72 hours." Tom Wilson and Angus Berwick. Nov 8, 2022. Reuters. “Crypto exchange FTX saw $6 bln in withdrawals in 72 hours.” Tracy Wang and Oliver Knight. Nov 6, 2022. “Binance to Sell Rest of FTX Token Holdings as Alameda CEO Defends Firm's Financial Condition.” Tracy Wang and Oliver Knight. Nov 6, 2022. CoinDesk. “Divisions in Sam Bankman-Fried’s Crypto Empire Blur on His Trading Titan Alameda’s Balance Sheet.” Ian Allison. Nov 2, 2022. CoinDesk. “Re: Potential Violations of Section 18(a)(4) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act.” Seth. P Rosebrock, Assistant General Counsel, Enforcement, FDIC. Aug 18, 2022. FDIC. Tom Emmer “SEC Chair Gary Gensler Must Testify Before Congress, Says Rep. Tom Emmer.” André Beganski. Dec 11, 2022. Decrypt. “Meet Tom Emmer, a powerful crypto advocate in a crypto-wary Congress.” Tony Romm. Dec 8, 2022. The Washington Post. “House GOP picks Emmer as GOP whip, Scalise as leader.” Emily Brooks and Mychael Schnell. Nov 15, 2022. The Hill. FTX Collapse “FTX Effort to Save Itself Failed on Questionable Assets.” Shane Shifflett, Rob Barry, and Coulter Jones. Dec 5, 2022. The Wall Street Journal. “FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Says He Can’t Account for Billions Sent to Alameda.” Alexander Osipovich. Dec 3, 2022. The Wall Street Journal. “5 major revelations about the collapse of crypto giant FTX.” David Gura. Nov 23, 2022. NPR. “FTX says it owes more than $3 billion to creditors.” Steven Zeitchik. Nov 20, 2022. The Washington Post. “Declaration of John J. Ray III in Support of Chapter 11 Petitions and First Day Pleadings” [Case 22-11068-JTD] Nov 17, 2022. PACER. “Exclusive: At least $1 billion of client funds missing at failed crypto firm FTX.” Angus Berwick. Nov 11, 2022. Reuters. “FTX chief Sam Bankman-Fried resigns as firm files for bankruptcy.” Jacob Bogage and Tory Newmyer. Nov 11, 2022. The Washington Post. “FTX Tapped Into Customer Accounts to Fund Risky Bets, Setting Up Its Downfall.” Vicky Ge Huang, Alexander Osipovich, and Patricia Kowsmann. Nov 11, 2022. The Wall Street Journal. Lobbying and Campaign Donations “Lawmakers who benefited from FTX cash probe its collapse.” Tory Newmyer and Steven Zeitchik. Dec 1, 2022. The Washington Post. “Inside Sam Bankman-Fried’s courtship of a Washington regulator.” Tory Newmyer and Peter Whoriskey. Nov 28, 2022. The Washington Post. “Congress took millions from FTX. Now lawmakers face a crypto reckoning.” Tony Romm. Nov 17, 2022. The Washington Post. “FTX Collapse Sets Back Crypto Agenda in Washington.” Paul Kiernan. Nov 14, 2022. The Wall Street Journal. “Washington lobbyists sever ties with FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried after crypto exchange implodes.” Brian Schwartz. Nov 14, 2022. CNBC. “Sam Bankman-Fried charmed Washington. Then his crypto empire imploded.” Tory Newmyer. Nov 12, 2022. The Washington Post. “Meet the mega-donors pumping millions into the 2022 midterms.” Luis Melgar et al. Oct 24, 2022. The Washington Post. “A young crypto billionaire’s political agenda goes well beyond pandemic preparedness.” Freddy Brewster. Aug 12, 2022. Los Angeles Times. Aftermath of the FTX Collapse “Factbox: Global regulatory actions against FTX.” Dec 12, 2022. Reuters. “FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Is Said to Face Market Manipulation Inquiry.” Emily Flitter, David Yaffe-Bellany and Matthew Goldstein. Dec 7, 2022. The New York Times. “Clashes Over FTX Bankruptcy Go Global.” Alexander Osipovich, Alexander Saeedy and Alexander Gladstone. Dec 4, 2022. “Hot Wallets vs. Cold Wallets.” Mar 10, 2022. Cryptopedia. December 13 Hearing “Memorandum To: Members, Committee on Financial Services From: FSC Majority Staff Subject: December 13, 2022, Full Committee Hearing entitled, “Investigating the Collapse of FTX, Part I.” Dec 8, 2022. House Financial Services Committee. “Chart: Four Silos for Recover Purposes.” House Financial Services Committee. Sam Bankman-Fried Indictment “Here is the criminal indictment against Sam Bankman-Fried.” Dec 13, 2022. The New York Times. Bills S.4760 - Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act of 2022 Audio Sources Investigating the Collapse of FTX, Part I December 13, 2022 House Committee on Financial Services Witness: John J. Ray III, CEO, FTX Group Clip Transcripts Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO): Have you read the full testimony that was planned by our missing guest [Sam Bankman-Fried]? John Ray I have not read his full testimony. Some pieces of it been relayed to me, but I've not read it. I've not read one word of it actually. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO): Yeah, I don't know him personally and probably don't want to. But this testimony is so disrespectful. I mean, there's not a person up here would like to show this to their children. In line two of this message, he says, and I quote, "I would like to start out by firmly stating under oath...* And yeah, I can't even say it publicly. The next two words, absolutely insulting. This is the Congress of the United States. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH): So when when customers deposited funds into their FTX accounts, where did the cash go? John Ray: Well, sometimes the money wasn't deposited in the FTX account it was sent to Alameda to begin with. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH): It was misdirected from from the start straight to Alameda. John Ray: There was certainly some time period where there's no bank account at .com and then ultimately, if you look at the structure of this, Alameda is essentially a customer on that .com exchange, and effectively, you know, borrowed money from or just transferred money from FTX customers to take its own positions on the Alameda hedge fund. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC): So Alameda research and the venture capital business, what did Alameda research do? John Ray: Essentially made crypto investments, engaged in margin trading, took long and short positions in crypto, essentially invested in crypto. But of course, we now know also invested in over $5 billion of other assets which are in a variety of sectors. Patrick McHenry (R-NC): Can you describe the differences between the and silos? John Ray: Yes. Very simply was for US citizens who wanted to trade crypto;, US citizens were not allowed to trade on that exchange. That's very simple. And I would make one other comment, which is separate apart from any of those two silos. It was ledger x, which is a regulated entity regulated by the CFTC, solvent and separate from the silo. Patrick McHenry (R-NC): Okay, and that is a distinct silo, that's a distinct company? John Ray: That is a distinct company within the US silo, yes. Patrick McHenry (R-NC): Okay. Patrick McHenry (R-NC):: What was the relationship between and Was is there a distinction between the two? John Ray: There was a public distinction between the two. What we're seeing now is that the crypto assets for both and for were housed in the same database. It's called the AWS system, which is just an acronym for Amazon Web Services. It was all housed in the same web format. Patrick McHenry (R-NC):: And is that distinct from Alameda's assets? John Ray: Yes, it is. John Ray: In essence you know, Alameda was a user, effectively a customer, of That's how it was essentially structured. John Ray: There was no audit at Alameda, no audit at the venture silo. There was audit at the US silo and also audit at the the .com silo. I can't speak to the integrity or quality of those audits. We're reviewing, obviously, the books and records. And as I've said earlier, you know, much of those books and records were maintained on a fairly unsophisticated ledger ledger which works workbooks. John Ray: It's an extensive list, it really crosses the entire spectrum of the company, from lack of lists of bank accounts, hundreds of bank accounts dispersed all over the world, lack of a complete list of employees and their functions by group or name, extensive use of independent contractors as opposed to employees, lack of insurance that you'd normally would see in certain businesses, either inadequate insurance or complete gaps in insurance. For example, the Alameda silo had no insurance whatsoever. So those are I mean, there's, the list goes on and on. You know, we could spend all day on them. John Ray: While many things are unknown at this stage, we're at a very preliminary stage, many questions remain, we know the following. First customer assets at were commingled with assets from the Alameda trading platform. That much is clear. Second, Alameda used client funds to engage in margin trading, which exposed customer funds to massive losses. Third, the FTX group went on a spending binge in 2021 and 2022, during which $5 billion was spent on a myriad of businesses and investments, many of which may only be worth a fraction of what was paid for them. Fourth, loans and other payments were made to insiders in excess of $1.5 billion. Fifth, Alameda's business model as a market maker required funds to be deployed to various third party exchanges, which were inherently unsafe and further exacerbated by the limited protections offered in certain of those foreign jurisdictions. John Ray: I accepted the position of Chief Executive Officer of FTX in the early morning hours of November 11 [2022]. It immediately became clear to me that chapter 11 was the best course available to preserve any remaining value of FTX. Therefore, my first act as CEO was authorized the chapter 11 filings. John Ray: It's virtually unlimited in terms of the lack of controls: no centralized records on banking, no daily reconciliations of crypto assets, silos where there's no insurance, inadequate insurance, no independent board, no safeguards that limit, who controls and asset. So senior management literally could get access to any of the accounts in any of the silos. No separateness between customer money and other customer money or other other assets. It's virtually unlimited in terms of the lack of controls. And that's really the point of the unprecedent comment. I've just never seen anything like it in 40 years of doing restructuring work and corporate corporate legal work. It's just a dearth of of information. John Ray: But again, users had multiple accounts. For example, if they had a different trading position, they may have opened multiple accounts. We know it's a big number. It's in the millions on the customer accounts, and we know it's several billion dollars in losses. Assigning those losses to customer accounts will be our next challenge. John Ray: The FTX group's collapse appears to stem from absolute concentration of control in the hands of a small group of grossly inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals who failed to implement virtually any of the systems or controls that are necessary for a company entrusted with other people's money or assets. Some of the unacceptable management practices identified so far include the use of computer infrastructure that gave individuals and senior management access to systems that stored customers' assets without security controls to prevent them from redirecting those assets; the storing of certain private keys to access hundreds of millions of dollars in crypto assets without effective security controls or encryption; the ability of Alameda to borrow funds held at to be utilized for its own trading or investments without any effective limits whatsoever; the commingling of assets; the lack of complete documentation for transactions involving nearly 500 separate investments made with FTX group funds and assets. In the absence of audited or reliable financial statements, the lack of personnel and financial and risk management functions, and the absence of independent governance throughout the FTX group, a fundamental challenge we face is there in many respects we are starting from near zero in terms of the corporate infrastructure and record keeping that one would expect in a multibillion dollar corporation. John Ray: The FTX group is unusual in the sense that, you know, I've done probably a dozen large scale bankruptcies over my career, including Enron, of course. Every one of those entities had some financial problem or another, they have some characteristics that are in common. This one is unusual. And it's unusual in the sense that literally, you know, there's no record keeping whatsoever. It's the absence of record keeping. Employees would communicate, you know, invoicing and expenses on on Slack, which is essentially a way of communicating for chat rooms. They use QuickBooks, a multibillion dollar company using QuickBooks. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO): QuickBooks? John Ray: QuickBooks. Nothing against QuickBooks, it's very nice tool, just not for a multibillion dollar company. There's no independent board, right? We had one person really controlling this. No independent board. That's highly unusual in the size company this is. And it's made all the more complex because we're not dealing with, you know, widgets or, you know, something that's tangible. We're dealing with with with crypto, and the technological issues are made worse when you're dealing with an asset such as crypto. John Ray: I've just never seen an utter lack of record keeping. Absolutely no internal controls whatsoever. John Ray: The operation of Alameda really depended based on the way it was operated for the use of customer funds. That's the major breakdown here of funds from, which was the exchange for non US citizens, those funds were used at Alameda to make investments and other disbursements. John Ray: There's no distinction whatsoever. The owners of the company could really run free reign across all four silos. John Ray: The loans that were given to Mr. Bankman-Fried, not just one loan it was numerous loans, some of which were documented by individual promissory notes. There's no description of what the purpose of the loan was. In one instance, he signed both as the issuer of the loan, as well as the recipient of the loan. But we have no information at this time as to what the purpose or the use of those funds were. And that is part of our investigation. John Ray: At the end of the day, we're not going to be able to recover all the losses here. Money was spent that we'll never get back. There will be losses on the international side. We're hopeful on the US side. He'll answer to others related to what happened here. Our job is just to find the assets and try to get customers their money back as quickly as possible. John Ray: Essentially, they had two exchanges that allowed users to trade crypto, and then there was the hedge fund. It's as simple as that. The users were allowed to make a variety of investments. They had a more expansive ability to trade crypto if you are a non-U.S. citizen on the .com exchange, but I know what's been described publicly is very complex. It is to some extent, but essentially, you had two exchanges, and you had a hedge fund. Inside both the US silos I've mentioned and inside the silos for .com there were regulated entities. We have regulated entities that are, for example, in Japan that are solvent, we had a regulated entity, ledger X, that was solvent. Those are sort of distinct from the other basic operations that we had, which are the two exchanges. John Ray: The principal issue that the company is facing in the crypto area, and from a technology perspective, it is different from the other bankruptcies because it's not a plane, not a boat. It's this crypto asset and it has inherently some difficulties. You know, the assets can be taken or lost. We have assets there in what are called Hot wallets, and those are in cold wallets. Hot wallets are very vulnerable to to hacking. If you've done any looking on the internet, you'll find that hacking is almost ordinary course in this business sector. They're very, lots of vulnerability to the wallets. So that's this company, unfortunately had a very, very challenging record here. You know, for some transfers there was no pathway for it. Our keys aren't stored in a centralized location. We don't know where all of our wallets are. Passwords were sometimes kept in just plain text format. So this company was sort of uniquely positioned to fail. John Ray: So funds were taken from customers, funds were invested, trading losses incurred in Alameda and then funds were deployed, that will never be valued at the same dollar amount. There was over $5 billion of investments made. Certainly, there's some value there and we'll try to get that value and sell those assets. But oftentimes, even when he made those sorts of investments, whether it was directly or through others in management, sometimes he would do that really without any pro forma or any valuation. Not really quite sure how some of the purchase price numbers were derived. So it gives you a sort of worry obviously, that the purchases were overvalued so there's a concern there as well. John Ray: Alameda was a customer, if you will, of the exchange and it's through that customer relationship, plus other arrangements, that allowed Alameda to borrow those funds, and then pick positions on the exchange like anyone, you know, who would hedge an asset in the market. He had unusually large positions, of course, and sometimes they were wrong in those positions, and they resulted in big losses. But ultimately, the commingling issue is the same in a different issue. He took the money from FTX to cover those positions and ultimately, when customers went to get their money back from .com there was a run on the bank. John Ray: The Alameda fund, well that's just the fund that drew resources from the exchanges, so it's really separate, it was not for customers per se, it was just simply a hedge fund. John Ray: For structural purposes and just for ease of presentation, we tried to take the over 100 entities and we put those in four silos. To demystify that, it's very simple. There was a U.S. silo, which was the exchange for US investors. There was an international exchange called Again, for non-U.S. persons that invested in crypto. There was Alameda, which is purely a crypto hedge fund, which made other investments, venture capital type investments. Then there's a fourth entity which was purely investments. And although our investigation is not complete, those investments were most likely made with either Alameda money or money that originally came from But that fourth silo is just purely investments Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC): And who owned those four silos? John Ray: All those entities are owned or controlled by Sam Bankman-Fried. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA): Now I've heard from some on the other side criticizing the SEC and in July in this room I criticized the Head of Enforcement at the SEC for not going after crypto exchanges. But the fact is that without objection I'd like to put on the record a letter signed by 19 Republican members designed to push back on the SEC, a brushback pitch if you're familiar with baseball, attacking the SEC for paying attention to and I quote, "the purported risks of digital assets." And I'd like to put on the record without objection comments from eight members made in this room that were designed to attack the SEC as being Luddite and anti-innovation for their efforts. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY): Mr. Ray, a number of their debtors in the FTX group are located in offshore jurisdictions. Will this complicate the efforts to retrieve the assets of those there? If so why? John Ray: No, I don't think it will complicate it at all. The various jurisdictions, historically in bankruptcy, and I've been in a number of cross border situations, the jurisdictions will cooperate with each other. The regulators in all these jurisdictions, I think, realize that everyone's there for a common purpose, to protect the victims and recover assets for the victims of these situations. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY): How much have you been able to secure and where are most of these assets located? John Ray: We've been able to secure over a billion dollars of assets. We've secured those two cold wallets in a secure location. It's an ongoing process, though, which will take weeks and perhaps months to secure all the assets. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY): Are most creditors located in the US or foreign jurisdictions. John Ray: The majority of the creditors trade through the .com silo and are outside of this jurisdiction, although there are some foreign customers that are on the US silo, and vice versa. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO): Reports suggest that transferred more than half of its customer funds, roughly $10 billion, to Alameda research. Is that accurate, sir? John Ray: Our work is not done, we don't have exact numbers for you today, but I will say it's several billion dollars, in that range, so we know that the size of the harm was significant. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA): Have you seen evidence of such a cover up? Have you seen evidence that there was any independent governance of Alameda separate and apart from that of the exchange? John Ray: The operations of the FTX group were not segregated. It was really operated as one company. As a result, there's no distinction virtually, between the operations of the company and who controlled those operations. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA): Did FTX have sufficient risk management systems and controls to appropriately monitor any leverage the business took on and the interconnections it had with businesses, like again, Alameda. John Ray: There were virtually no internal controls and no separateness whatsoever. Why Congress Needs to Act: Lessons Learned from the FTX Collapse December 1, 2022 Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Witness: Rostin Behnam, Chairman, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Clip Transcripts 18:30 Debbie Stabenow (D-MI): I've said this before and I'll say it again: the Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act does not -- does not -- take authority away from other financial regulators. Nor does it make the CFTC the primary crypto regulator, because crypto assets can be used in many different ways. No single financial regulator has the expertise or the authority to regulate the entire industry. 24:30 John Boozman (R-AK): Many have asked why is the Ag Committee involved in this? The Ag Committee is involved because this committee and no other committee in the Senate is responsible for the oversight of the nation's commodity markets. Bitcoin, although a crypto currency, is a commodity. It's a commodity in the eyes of the federal courts and the opinion of the SEC Chairman, there is no dispute about this. If there are exchanges where commodities are traded, be it wheat, oil, or Bitcoin, then they must be regulated. It's simply that simple. 32:45 Rostin Behnam: I have asked Congress directly for clear authority to impose our traditional regulatory regime over the digital asset commodity market. 33:00 Rostin Behnam: I have not been shy about my encouragement of bills that contemplate shared responsibility for the CFTC and the Securities Exchange Commission, where the SEC would utilize its existing authority and reporting regime requirements for all security tokens, while the CFTC would apply its market based rules for the more limited subset of commodity tokens, which do not have the same characteristics of security tokens. 41:00 Rostin Behnam: I can though share with this committee with respect to me, my team and I have taken an initial review of my calendar and what we've observed is that my team and I met with Mr. Bankman-Fried and his team. Over the past 14 months, we met 10 times in the CFTC office at their request, all in relation to this DCO this Clearinghouse application. Nine out of the 10 times we were in Washington, one was at a widely held conference in Florida earlier this year. In addition, there were two phone calls, I believe, and a number of messages, all in relation to the DCO application, providing us updates suggesting that they were answering questions from different divisions, and trying as I said, to doggedly move the application along and to get it approved. 48:00 Sen. John Boozman (R-AK): If had been a registered U.S. exchange, would the CFTC have been able to mitigate what happened. Rostin Behnam: Senator, you know, with our current authority, the answer is now. We need the authority to get into a CFTC registered exchange, as you point out. If we had that authority, and they were registered, given what we know from the facts about conflicts of interest, commingling funds, books and records, we would have been able to prohibit it. And I would point to what we're doing with Ledger X. On a daily basis our staff is in direct communication not only with Ledger X, but the custodians themselves, able to identify customer property, and customer money. Imagine that scenario with if we had a daily lens into the location of customer money and customer property, you can imagine, given what we've learned about what's happened with FTX, we could have certainly prohibited many of the actions that we're hearing about. 1:16:00 Rostin Behnam: In terms of regulation of cash markets, right, the spot market, we simply do not have authority to register cash market exchanges or any intermediary broker dealer entity within that structure and that's what concerns me, this is the gap. 1:59:30 Rostin Behnam: Unfortunately, when we act, it's often after the fact because the information that allows us to bring an enforcement action in digital asset cash commodity markets, is only because information is coming to us from outsiders, from referrals, from tips, from whistleblowers, and this is in stark contrast to some of the surveillance tools and examination tools that we would have if we had a comprehensive regulatory framework over digital asset commodities. 2:07:00 Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL): There'll be a reporter waiting in the hall -- I've already talked to her this morning -- who will ask you, "Did he ever contribute to your campaign?" I said "Oh, no, I never heard of the man." She said "You're wrong, Senator, he contributed to you." So the cryptocurrency people are active politically. And they are trying to achieve a political end here. It is their right as citizens of this country to do that. But it really calls on us to make sure that whatever we do is credible under those circumstances. 2:22:30 Rostin Behnam: I can't speak to what Mr. Bankman-Fried or anyone at FTX was thinking when they were advocating for regulation, but the remarkable thing is to think about it in the context of compliance and what we've learned about the FTX entities and just thinking about the bill that Senator Stabenow and Boozman introduced, they would have been so far out of compliance that it just wouldn't have even been possible. Legislative Hearing to Review S.4760, the Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act September 15, 2022 Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Witnesses: Rostin Behnam, Chairman, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Todd Phillips, Director, Financial Regulation and Corporate Governance, Center for American Progress Shelia Warren, Chief Executive Officer, Crypto Council for Innovation Christine Parker, Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Coinbase Heath Tarbert, Chief Legal Officer, Citadel Securities Denelle Dixon, Chief Executive Officer, Stellar Development Foundation Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States December 8, 2021 House Committee on Financial Services Witnesses: Jeremy Allaire, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, Circle Samuel Bankman-Fried, Founder and CEO, FTX Brian P. Brooks, CEO, Bitfury Group Charles Cascarilla, CEO and co-Founder, Paxos Trust Company Denelle Dixon, CEO and Executive Director, Stellar Development Foundation Alesia Jeanne Haas, CEO, Coinbase Inc. and CFO, Coinbase Global Inc. Clip Transcripts 23:30 Sam Bankman-Fried: We are already regulated and licensed. We have many licenses globally. Here in the United States, we are regulated by the states under the money service business and money transmitting regime, and we are regulated nationally by the CFTC where we have a DCO, a DCM, a swap execution facility, and other licensure. 1:13:30 Sam Bankman-Fried: One of the really innovative properties of cryptocurrency markets are 24/7 risk monitoring and engines. We do not have overnight risk or weekend risk or holiday risk in the same way traditional assets do, which allow risk monitoring and de risking of positions in real time to help mitigate volatility. We've been operating for a number of years with billions of dollars of open interest. We've never had customer losses, clawbacks or anything like that. Even going through periods of large movements in both directions. We store collateral from our users in a way which is not always done in the traditional financial ecosystem to backstop positions. And the last thing that I'll say is if you look at what precipitated some of the 2008 financial crisis, you saw a number of bilateral bespoke non-reported transactions happening between financial counterparties which then got repackaged and releveraged again and again and again, such that no one knew how much risk was in that system until it all fell apart. If you compare that to what happens on FTX or other major cryptocurrency venues today, there is complete transparency about the full open interest. There is complete transparency about the positions that are held. There is a robust, consistent risk framework. 1:34:00 Sam Bankman-Fried: In addition to a bunch of international licenses in the United States, we are participating in that system you referenced with the money transmitter and money service businesses license is in addition to that, however, we are also licensed by the CFTC. We have a DCO, a DCM, and other licensure from them through derivatives and we look forward to continuing to work with them to build out our product suite. We just submitted a 800 page, I believe, proposal to them a few days ago, which we're excited to discuss and we're also happy to talk with other regulators about potential products in the United States. 2:37:00 Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN): Now it's my understanding that FTX uses surveillance trade technology akin to the technology national Securities Exchanges use to protect investors and ensure sound spot markets. What does this technology and any other tools FTX uses to protect the spot market from fraud and manipulation look like? Sam Bankman-Fried: Yeah. So, you know, like other exchanges, we do have these technologies in addition to the, you know, new customer policies that we can identify individuals associated with trades. We have surveillance for unusual trading activity. We have manual inspections of anything that you know, gets flagged either by the automated surveillance or by manual inspection. And we do this with the trading activity with deposits and withdrawals and everything else. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN): Sounds like you're doing a lot to make sure there is no fraud or other manipulation. Thank you Mr. Bankman-Fried, again, for helping us understand the extensive guardrails a cryptocurrency exchange like FTX has in place to ensure sound crypto spot markets for investors. 2:52:30 Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa): Mr. Bankman-Fried, I'd like to start by asking you the first question. has a derivatives platform and recently bought ledger x as part of that. Is that correct? Sam Bankman-Fried: Yes. Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa): Okay, thank you. And that platform is registered with the CFTC. Is that correct? Sam Bankman-Fried: Yep. Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa): Okay, perfect. So I just want to clarify something. And this isn't to say anybody's doing any wrong. It's just to get the lay of the land. You also have an exchange for Bitcoin and other tokens, but that is not registered with either the CFTC or the SEC. Is that correct? Sam Bankman-Fried: That's correct. Currently, neither of them are primary markets regulated for spot Bitcoin to USD markets. Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa): Okay, thank you. And I know you're registered as a money transmitter, but that's not the same kind of oversight that we'll see from a federal market regulator. I also sit on the Agriculture Committee, which oversees the CFTC, so a gap like this is especially concerning to me. And the big problem that I see here, from what I understand, is that the CFTC doesn't have regulatory authority for spot trading of commodities, just their derivatives. So that leaves consumers with inconsistent protections, which is a concern that I have. 2:55:00 Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa): Bitcoin, which has almost a trillion dollars invested in it, has CFTC oversight for people who are trading futures and options, but not for people who are trading the currency itself. Is that right? Sam Bankman-Fried: That is essentially correct. Full FTX Superbowl Commercial with Larry David Tom Brady FTX Commercials Steph Curry FTX Commercial 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)
12/23/20221 hour, 21 minutes, 23 seconds
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CD264: Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain

FTX, a large cryptocurrency exchange, recently went bankrupt, leading to calls for government regulation of cryptocurrencies. But you might be wondering, what are cryptocurrencies? In part one of this two-part series, listen to expert testimony provided over a four-year period informing Congress about the cryptocurrency industry, the promise of blockchain, problems - both real and overblown - with this new technology, and how best to regulate this complicated industry. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the shownotes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD235: The Safe Haven of Sanctions Evaders CD262: Inside C-SPAN with Howard Mortman Proof of Work Jake Frankenfield. May 2, 2022. "What Is Proof of Work (PoW) in Blockchain?" Investopedia. Initial Coin Offering (ICO) Jake Frankenfield. Aug 18, 2022. “Initial Coin Offering (ICO): Coin Launch Defined, with Examples.” Investopedia. Sherwin Dowlat. Jul 11, 2018. “Cryptoasset Market Coverage Initiation: Network Creation.” Satis Group. Madison Cawthorn The Associated Press. Dec 7, 2022. "Rep. Madison Cawthorn broke rules over a 'meme' crypto, a House panel finds." NPR. Regulations Cheyenne Ligon. Dec 5, 2022. “The ‘Good Cop and Bad Cop’ of US Crypto Regulations.” CoinDesk. Bills S.4760 - Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act of 2022 Sponsor: Sen. Debbie Stabenow Audio Sources Cleaning Up Cryptocurrency: The Energy Impacts of Blockchains January 20, 2022 House Committee on Energy & Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Ari Juels, Weill Family Foundation and Joan and Sanford I. Weill Professor, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, Cornell Tech John Belizaire, Chief Executive Officer, Soluna Computing, Inc. Brian Brooks, Chief Executive Officer, BitFury Steve Wright, Former Chief Executive Officer, Chelan County Public Utility District and Bonneville Power Administration Gregory Zerzan, Shareholder Jordan Ramis P.C. Schemes and Subversion: How Bad Actors and Foreign Governments Undermine and Evade Sanctions Regimes June 16, 2021 House Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy Watch on YouTube Witnesses: Jesse Spiro, Global Head of Policy & Regulatory Affairs, Chainalysis Eric B. Lorber, Senior Director, Center on Economic and Financial Power, Foundation for Defense of Democracies Dollars Against Democracy: Domestic Terrorist Financing in the Aftermath of Insurrection February 25, 2021 House Financial Services Committee, Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy Witness Daniel Glaser, Former Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, U.S. Department of the Treasury Examining Regulatory Frameworks for Digital Currencies and Blockchain July 30, 2019 Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Watch on C-SPAN Committee concluded a hearing to examine regulatory frameworks for digital currencies and blockchain, including S. 2243, to amend the Expedited Funds Availability Act to require that funds deposited be available for withdrawal in real-time. Witnesses: Jeremy Allaire, Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Circle, on behalf of The Blockchain Association Dr. Rebecca M. Nelson, Specialist in International Trade and Finance, Congressional Research Service Professor Mehrsa Baradaran, Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law Exploring the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Ecosystem October 11, 2018 Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Watch on C-SPAN Committee concluded a hearing to examine the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem, including S. 3179, to require the Comptroller General of the United States to carry out a study on how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to buy, sell, or facilitate the financing of goods or services associated with sex trafficking or drug trafficking. Witnesses: Dr. Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics and International Business, New York University Stern School of Business Peter Van Valkenburgh, Director of Research, Coin Center 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)
12/11/20221 hour, 2 minutes, 27 seconds
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CD263: Republicans Take the House

The results are in: The Democrats will keep the Senate, the Republican will take the House. In this episode, in preparation for the 118th Congress, Jen analyzes the detailed policy documents released by the House Republicans to see what they could reasonably accomplish, who their policies would help or hurt, and how they will likely wield their power in a politically divided Congress. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the show notes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD258: Gain of Function Research CD256: Poisonous Pet Collars CD224: Social Media Censorship CD218: Minerals are the New Oil CD177: Immigrant Family Separations CD146: Repeal & Replace CD135: Education is Big Business (Every Student Succeeds Act) CD129: The Impeachment of John Koskinen The Southern Border David J. Bier. Sep 14, 2022. “Fentanyl Is Smuggled for U.S. Citizens By U.S. Citizens, Not Asylum Seekers.” Cato Institute. “Security Subcomittee.” May 2022. The Healthy Future Task Force. “House Republicans: We Must Secure the Southern Border.” Jul 2022. American Security Task Force. “Humanitarian crisis at the U.S. border.” American Federation of Teachers. Sean Altekruse et al. January 17, 2020. “Socioeconomic risk factors for fatal opioid overdoses in the United States: Findings from the Mortality Disparities in American Communities Study (MDAC).” PLOS One 15(1). Tiffany Stecker. Feb 20, 2019. “Border Barrier No One Wants Grows Without Money to Slow Spread.” Bloomberg Law. Censorship “Big Tech, Censorship, & Data Task Force.” Sep 2022. China “Why Taiwan Matters.” Sep 2022. China Task Force. Commitment to America Megan Loe. Oct 25, 2022. “Cuts to Social Security and Medicare detailed in viral image aren't part of House GOP plan.” Verify. “The Republican Commitment to America.” House Republicans. “Commitment to America One Pager.” House Republicans. “An Economy That’s Strong.” Sep 20, 2022. House Republicans. “Sound Money, Fiscal Discipline, & Budget Enforcement.” Sep 2022. Jobs and the Economy Task Force. Energy and the Environment “Build Resilient Communities.” August 9, 2022. The Energy, Climate, & Conservation Task Force. Mining “Securing U.S. Supply Chains.” Sep 2022. The Energy, Climate, & Conservation Task Force. John Emeigh. Jun 2, 2022. “Water level in the Berkeley Pit remains unchanged after two years.” KXLF Butte. Betsy Smidinger. August 30, 2021. “Fifth Five-year Review Report for Silver Bow Creek/Butte Area Superfund Site Silver Bow and Deer Lodge Counties, Montana.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Silver Bow Creek/Butte Area, Butte, Montana: Cleanup Activities.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Ryan DeMars. 2012. “Health Hazards from Mining in Butte, Montana.” Teach the Earth. “1955: The Open Pit Mine Era: The Berkeley Pit.” Clark Fork Watershed Education Program. Dams “Why aren't we looking at more hydropower?” Mar 2, 2021. MIT Climate Portal. Fossil Fuels “Beat China and Russia.” Jun 17, 2022. The Energy, Climate, & Conservation Task Force. “Unlock American Resources.” Jun 10, 2022. The Energy, Climate, & Conservation Task Force. Jeff Brady and Neela Banerjee. Jun 9, 2021. “Developer Abandons Keystone XL Pipeline Project, Ending Decade-Long Battle.” Gutting Environmental Law “Let America Build.” Jun 10, 2022. The Energy, Climate, & Conservation Task Force. Pesticides “Conservation with a Purpose.” Jul 15, 2022. The Energy, Climate, & Conservation Task Force. “Does glyphosate cause cancer?” Jul 8, 2021. Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Emily Dixon. Feb 15, 2019. “Common weed killer glyphosate increases cancer risk by 41%, study says.” CNN. Water “Why California Farmers Are Conflicted About Using Less Water.” May 11, 2015. NPR. Seth Siegel with Naty Barak. Jun 1, 2017. “How Drip Irrigation Can Change the World: Adoption is still low for a technology that saves water, reduces use of fertilizer and increases agricultural yield.” Real Assets Adviser 4(6). Healthcare “Security Subcommittee.” Aug 2022. The Healthy Future Task Force. “Affordability Subcommittee.” Jul 2022. The Healthy Future Task Force. “Doctor-Patient Relationship Subcommittee.” Jun 2022. The Healthy Future Task Force. “Subcommittee on Modernization.” Jun 2022. The Healthy Future Task Force. Financial Regulations “Securing U.S. Supply Chains.” Sep 2022. Jobs & the Economy Task Force. “Growth Through Innovation.” Sep 2022. Jobs & the Economy Task Force. “Beat China and Russia.” Jun 2022. The Energy, Climate, & Conservation Task Force. Parents Bill of Rights “Parents Bill of Rights Fact Sheet.” Committee on Education & Labor Republicans. “Republican Solutions for America’s Education System.” Committee on Education & Labor Republicans. 2014 Government Funding 113th Congresss. “H.R.2775 - Continuing Appropriations Act.” 113th Congress. “Roll Call 550 | Bill Number: H. R. 2775.” Oct 16, 2013. Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. Workforce Education “Getting Americans Back to Work.” Jul 2022. Jobs & the Economy Task Force. Speak Out Act 117th Congress. “S.4524: Speak Out Act.” Emilie Shumway. Nov 16, 2022. “Congress passes bill voiding NDAs in cases of sexual assault, harassment; Biden expected to sign.” Legal Dive. Respect for Marriage Act 117th Congress. “H.R.8404: Respect for Marriage Act.” Annie Karni. Nov 16, 2022. “Same-Sex Marriage Rights Bill Clears a Crucial Senate Hurdle.” The New York Times. Maggie Astor. Nov 16, 2022. “Here Are the 12 Republicans Who Voted to Protect Same-Sex Marriage.” The New York Times. Al Weaver. Nov 16, 2022. “Senate votes to advance same-sex marriage bill.” The Hill. Soon-to-be Laws S.4524: Speak Out Act H.R.8404: Respect for Marriage Act Audio Sources House Republicans Unveil the Commitment to America Sep 23, 2022 Kevin McCarthy on YouTube Clips Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): They told us so many things that turned out not to be accurate. I mean, just think about it, they told us this thing didn't come from a lab. Sure looks like it did. But they want us to believe it was a bat to a penguin to Joe Rogan. And then we all got, it right? I'm just a country boy from Ohio. But I kind of think it probably came from a lab. I asked Dr. Burks a question three months ago in a hearing. I said Dr. Burks, when the Biden administration told us that the vaccinated couldn't get it, were they guessing or lying? Interesting. She paused and said, Well, Congressman, I like to think they hoped. I said, so it was a guess, a lie, or a hope. I'm not against the vaccine. I'm just saying that we're big boys and girls, we can handle the truth. Give us the facts. We are committed to doing the investigations that need to be done. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): On our very first bill we're going to repeal 87,000 IRS agents. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): We believe in fairness. We should ensure women only compete in women's sports. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA): We will have oversight hearings on what happened. Who was responsible for opening up America's southern border? How many have come in? How many are on the terrorist watch list that we know of, and when will we start doing something about it? In our commitment to America, we talk about securing America's border and holding them accountable. We will give Secretary Mayorkas a reserved parking spot, he will be testifying so much about this. So that's the kind of oversight we're going to be doing. U.S. House Session February 5, 2014 “Little fish” montage featuring Former Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), Former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). U.S. House Session October 8, 2013 Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX): I am very proud of not only what our Speaker is doing but of our majority leader, ERIC CANTOR, and our whip, KEVIN MC CARTHY. U.S. House Session October 1, 2013 Former Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA): In fact, House Republicans have passed three continuing resolutions, or temporary spending bills, to keep this government open and to either defund or to delay ObamaCare—which the majority of Americans support. They were against it 31⁄2 years ago; they are against it today; and they support what we are doing in the Republican House of Representatives. I praise and commend Speaker JOHN BOEHNER and the leadership of ERIC CANTOR and KEVIN MCCARTHY for the strength that they have had in regard to this and for being so inclusive for every single member of our caucus. 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)
11/28/20221 hour, 33 minutes, 19 seconds
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CD262: Inside C-SPAN with Howard Mortman

As we wait for the final results of the midterm elections to determine which party will control the House, enjoy Jen's interview with C-SPAN Communications Director, Howard Mortman. Jen and Howard discuss all things C-SPAN, including what C-SPAN crews are and are not allowed to film and the network's funding sources and distribution, as well has Howard's podcast, the Weekly, and his book, When Rabbis Bless Congress. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the shownotes on our website at Executive Producer Recommended Sources Ecomodernist Society of North America CD261: Inflation Reduction Act CD258: Gain of Function Research Background Sources Howard Mortman Howard Mortman Bio C-SPAN's The Weekly Podcast Book: When Rabbis Bless Congress: The Great American Story of Jewish Prayers on Capitol Hill On Twitter @HowardMortman Jen on C-SPAN Washington Journal, August 9, 2019 Washington Journal, September 10, 2022 Alzheimer’s Testimony Seth Rogan's and Charity “Alzheimer's Disease Research.” February 26, 2014. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services. Hilarity for Charity (HFC) Origins of COVID-19 Katherine Eban and Jeff Kao. October 28, 2022. “COVID-19 Origins: Investigating a ‘Complex and Grave Situation’ Inside a Wuhan Lab.” ProPublica. 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)
11/12/20221 hour, 30 minutes, 7 seconds
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CD261: Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act is a new law designed to hasten the United States’ energy transition (and do nothing about inflation). In the last episode before the midterm election, learn about the energy path the Democratic Party has plotted for us and learn how this new law can possibly save you tens of thousands of dollars. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the show notes on our website at Jen Podcast Appearances EP 63 Honest Government Analyst Jennifer Briney talks Privilege, White House & Hotels. The Living Numbers Podcast with Tony Rambles. Disaster - Jennifer Briney. A Word with Tom Merritt. Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD259: CHIPS: A State Subsidization of Industry CD250: Congress Saves the Postal Service CD246: BIF: Appalachian Chemical Storage CD240: BIF The Infrastructure BILL CD218: Minerals are the New Oil CD205: Nuclear Waste Storage CD146: Repeal & Replace CD048: The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Tax Credits and Refunds Home Energy Efficiency Tax Credits “Tax Credits for Energy Efficient Home Improvements.” eFile. Rocky Mengle. Sept 16, 2022. “Save More on Green Home Improvements Under the Inflation Reduction Act.” Kiplinger. “Federal Income Tax Credits and Other Incentives for Energy Efficiency.” Updated Aug 18, 2022. Energy Star. Electric Appliance Rebates “Quick Facts: United States.” U.S. Census Bureau. Electric Car Tax Credit 26 U.S. Code § 30D - Clean vehicle credit. Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. Alternative Fuels Data Center. “Electric Vehicles with Final Assembly in North America.” U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Kelley R. Taylor. Oct 18, 2022. “EV Tax Credits Are Changing: What’s Ahead.” Kiplinger. Greg Iacurci. Oct 15, 2022. “The 'bummer' of the $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit: Its full value may be hard to get.” CNBC. John Bozzella. Aug 5, 2022. “What If No EVs Qualify for the EV Tax Credit? It Could Happen.” Alliance for Automotive Innovation. John Bogna. Jun 22, 2022. “Hydrogen-Powered Cars: Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles Explained.” PCMag. U.S. Geological Survey. “Mineral Commodity Summaries 2021.” U.S. Department of the Interior. “OFAC Sanctioned Countries.” Princeton University Research & Project Administration. Alternative Fuel vehicle refueling property credit Kelley R. Taylor. Sept 14, 2022. “The Federal Tax Credit for Electric Vehicle Chargers is Back.” Kiplinger. 26 U.S. Code § 30C - Alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit. Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. Hydrogen Catherine Clifford. Sep 8, 2022. “The clean hydrogen energy economy was a dream. The climate bill could make it a reality this decade.” CNBC. Emma Ochu et al. Jun 17, 2021. “Hydrogen Fact Sheet: Production of Low-Carbon Hydrogen.” Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, Center on Global Energy Policy. “Lisa Murkowski.” Open Secrets. Jay Bartlett and Alan Krupnick. December 2020. “Decarbonized Hydrogen in the US Power and Industrial Sectors: Identifying and Incentivizing Opportunities to Lower Emissions.” Resources for the Future. 24/7 Wall St. Feb 16, 2020. “How Many Gas Stations Are In U.S.? How Many Will There Be In 10 Years?” Market Watch. Health Care “The Inflation Reduction Act Lowers Health Care Costs for Millions of Americans.” Oct 5, 2022. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Inflation Reduction Act: CMS Implementation Timeline.” 2022. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Carbon Capture Angela C. Jones and Ashley J. Lawson. Oct 5, 2022. “Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) in the United States.” Congressional Research Service. Emily Pontecorvo. Aug 22, 2022. “Will the Inflation Reduction Act jumpstart carbon capture?” Grist. “Global Status of CCS 2021.” 2021. Global CCS Institute. “Carbon capture and storage could also impact air pollution.” Nov 17, 2011. European Environment Agency. Offshore Wind Leases Abby Husselbee and Hannah Oakes. Aug 25, 2022. “The IRA Offshore Energy Leasing Provisions’ Potential Impacts.” Harvard University Environmental & Energy Law Program. “Memorandum on the Withdrawal of Certain Areas of the United States Outer Continental Shelf from Leasing Disposition.” Sept 8, 2020. The White House. Fossil Fuels David Jordan. Oct 6, 2022. “Interior moves forward with oil and gas drill site leasing.” Roll Call. “Inflation Reduction Act Fossil Fuel Provisions.” Aug 18, 2022. Enersection. 30 U.S. Code § 226 - Lease of oil and gas lands. Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. The Associated Press. Apr 16, 2022. “Biden increases oil royalty rate and scales back lease sales on federal lands.” NPR. Taxes Kelley R. Taylor. Oct 10, 2022. “The Inflation Reduction Act and Taxes: What You Should Know.” Kiplinger. “Inflation Reduction Act includes 15% corporate minimum tax on book income.” August 16, 2022. EY. Jacob Bogage. Aug 12, 2022. “The new Wall Street tax key to Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act.” The Washington Post. Peter Warren. Aug 11, 2022. “‘Inflation Reduction Act’ Holds the SALT.” Empire Center. “Lobbying: Intuit Inc.” Open Secrets. “CBO Cost Estimate: H.R. 1 - the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” November 13, 2017. Congressional Budget Office. The Law H.R.5376 - Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 “Summary: Estimated Budgetary Effects of H.R. 5376, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.” Revised August 5, 2022. Congressional Budget Office. Audio Sources Full Committee Hearing On Opportunities and Challenges in Deploying Innovative Battery and Non-Battery Technologies for Energy Storage September 22, 2022 Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Witnesses: Tim Hemstreet, Managing Director for Renewable Energy Development, PacifiCorp Spencer Nelson, Managing Director, Research and New Initiatives, ClearPath Ted Wiley, President and Chief Operating Officer, Form Energy 19:19 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): When it comes to storage, there has rightly been a focus on the supply chain, particularly for lithium ion batteries that power electric vehicles and phones in our pockets and many other modern technologies. While we have benefited from the use of this important battery chemistry, the fact that China is responsible for 75% of global lithium ion battery production, including 60% of the world's cathode production and 80% of the world's anode production, should give everyone pause. That is why I was proud to champion Inflation Reduction Act which incentivized the onshoring of the entire battery supply chain, from the production and processing of raw materials, to the battery pack assembly and everything in between. Full Committee Hearing On Domestic Critical Mineral Supply Chains March 31, 2022 Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Witnesses: Dr. Steve Fortier, Director, USGS National Minerals Information Center, U.S. Department of the Interior Scott Melbye, President, Uranium Producers of America Julie Padilla, Chief Regulatory Officer, Twin Metals Minnesota Abigail Wulf, Vice President, Critical Minerals Strategy and Director of the Center for Critical Minerals Strategy, Securing America's Future Energy Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, Director, West Virginia Water Research Institute, West Virginia University 24:14 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): It makes no sense to remain beholden to bad actors when we have abundant resources in manufacturing know-how here in the United States. And make no mistake, we are beholden, particularly when it comes to many of the minerals that go into clean energy technologies. That is why I've sounded the alarm about going down the path of EVs alone and advocated for equal treatment for hydrogen 45:08 Abigail Wulf: As things stand, without some significant course corrections on America's critical minerals enterprise, the leading automobile power won't be the United States. It will be China. Not because of superior design or technology, but because of their massive head start and established market power, if not utter dominance, in all aspects of the supply chain that powers these [electric] vehicles. But simply mining alone does not begin to address the fundamentals of America's mineral supply chain challenge. Where we are most lacking and where China is most dominant is in that crucial but largely hidden processing phase and midstream component production. We simply can't dig up a rock and stick it in a Tesla. You have to crush it, smelt it, and refine it into precursor material that has been sold to somebody else to turn it into battery guts, namely cathodes, anodes and electrolytes. Today, the United States has less than 4% of all minerals processing capacity and makes 0% of the world's cathodes and anodes. By contrast, China is the world's largest processor of copper, nickel, cobalt, lithium and rare earth elements, and they control 60% of anode production and 40% of global cathode production. Consider that in 2019, about 70% of the world's cobalt supply was mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but more than 70% of that cobalt was refined in or controlled by China. Full Committee Hearing On Clean Hydrogen February 2, 2022 Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Witnesses Dr. Sunita Satyapal, Director, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office, Hydrogen Program Coordinator, U.S. Department of Energy Dr. Glen Richard Murrell, Executive Director, Wyoming Energy Authority Jonathan Lewis, Senior Counsel and Director of Transportation Decarbonization, Clean Air Task Force Michael J. Graff, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc. Brian Hlavinka, Vice President, New Energy Ventures, Corporate Strategic Development, Williams 21:07 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): However, we have some challenges to tackle in order to build a clean hydrogen economy. Producing hydrogen without emissions is two to six times the cost of current production methods. Also, retrofitting end-use applications to use hydrogen as a feedstock, from chemical plants to cars and trucks, will take huge investments from both public and private sectors. This is the demand that we need to develop hydrogen markets that can sustain themselves. The other big challenge is the safe and efficient transport and storage of large volumes of hydrogen, given its physical properties. There's a lot of promising work being done in this space and will allow us to leverage our vast natural gas pipeline network to transport hydrogen to market. 22:00 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): That is why I made research, development, and demonstration of these technologies a central part of the Energy Infrastructure Act, which this committee reported with bipartisan support last year, and which was subsequently included in the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In that bill, we fund $9.5 billion in research, development and demonstration of clean hydrogen, and we tasked the Department of Energy to develop a national strategy and a roadmap to get us to a clean hydrogen economy. 27:25 Sen. James Lankford (R-OK): I'm concerned that the conversation around green versus blue hydrogen will pit technologies against each other rather than working together to establish a robust hydrogen marketplace. The simple truth right now is that 95% of hydrogen produced in the United States is made from natural gas. 1:42:00 Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): Can you share what the administration's policy is with regards to converting natural gas to hydrogen? We recognize that there are some within the [Biden] administration, certainly some groups that may have influence on the administration, who are very firm about not using fuel sources like natural gas. So the question is, is there a role for conversion to play? And what might we anticipate with regards to support and funding that might come with it? Dr. Sunita Satyapal: Thank you again for the question. And as mentioned, with hydrogen shot, we're really looking at all of the pathways. It's really about clean hydrogen. So whether it's natural gas, carbon feedstocks, nuclear renewables, you know, any pathway to get to the low carbon intensity, we're really pivoting away from the colors. There's a lot of complexity: green, blue, purple, turquoise….Pyrolysis is another approach. In fact, our loan program office just announced financing of $1 billion solid carbon, which is another value added product, no need for the CCS portion. So definitely an all-of-the-above strategy needed to meet all of our goals. Full Committee Hearing to Examine Development and Deployment of Large-Scale Carbon Dioxide Management Technologies July 28, 2020 Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Witnesses: Steven Winberg, (Former) Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy at the US Department of Energy Shannon Angielski, Executive Director of the Carbon Utilization Research Council Dr. Julio Friedmann, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University 25:06 Dr. Julio Friedmann: Net zero means that any residual emissions must be balanced by removal, as Secretary Moniz said. It means that reduction of co2 emissions and removal of co2 emissions are complementary but distinct actions and that both are necessary. The National Academies and the IPCC find that this must be done at enormous scale exceeding the size of the global oil and gas industry today. We are not where we need to be to make this real. 48:35 Shannon Angielski: In addition, the International Energy Agency modelled the contributions of different technologies to meet that mid-century 2 degree scenario. And it shows that CCUS accounts for approximately 100 Giga tons of needed global co2 emissions reductions by 2060. To put this into perspective, this would be achieved by the operation of 1100 carbon capture systems on the equivalent of 500 megawatt coal fired units, or 3200 natural gas combined cycle units, which would need to be operating for the next 30 years. 1:59:00 Steven Winberg: The rest of the world is going to continue using fossil energy, whether it's coal or oil or natural gas. And that's why we have moved forward quickly on the coal first program, because it offers the opportunity for what I think of as 21st century coal. Right now the Chinese own the space in power generation — coal fired power generation. We have an opportunity to take technology and springboard over what the Chinese are building, which is basically 1970s vintage technology that we built, and they now have improved slightly, but they're selling it around the world, to countries that have coal under their feet, and they're going to continue using that coal. But with the coal first program, we can move into power generation, and we can move into hydrogen production, because these countries also, as they build out their transport sector, may not do it the same way that developed countries, they may move more swiftly into hydrogen. And so there's an opportunity there to take our technology using their natural resources that are under their feet, and produce zero emitting power generation and zero emitting hydrogen and perhaps even net negative hydrogen and net negative electricity and they can use that hydrogen in the transportation sector as well as the industrial sector. 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)
10/30/20221 hour, 44 minutes, 32 seconds
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CD260: Failure to Fund with Graham Elwood

Congress has failed to fund the government on time again. In this episode, Graham Elwood joins Jen as she geeks out on all the dingleberries attached to the new law extending Congress’s funding deadline until December 16th. Episode Transcript Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the shownotes on our website at Graham Elwood Government Secrets Podcast with Lee Camp and Graham Elwood Political Vigilante Podcast Executive Producer Recommended Sources “From the Archive: Joe Hickman Blew the Whistle on Burn Pits 5 Years Ago.” August 8, 2022. The Peter Collins Show. Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD248: Understanding the Enemy CD244: Keeping Ukraine CD238: Losing Afghanistan CD176: Target Venezuela: Regime Change in Progress CD087: Run for Congress with Chris Clemmons FDA User Fees Katie Hobbins. Oct 3, 2022. “FDA User Fee CR Passed, Questions on Policy and Reform Riders Remain.” Medical Device + Diagnostic Industry (MD+DI). New Mexico Fire Ryan Boetel. Sept 29, 2022. “$2.5 billion for fire damage relief included in spending bill.” Albuquerque Journal. Associated Press. Jun 21, 2022. “US Forest Service admits ‘multiple miscalculations’ caused New Mexico fire.” The Guardian. Elizabeth Miller and Jason Samenow. May 5, 2022. “Large fires are raging in New Mexico, and the worst may be coming.” The Washington Post. Republicans and Disaster Relief Funding Sharon Zhang. Oct 3, 2022. “Every Single Florida House Republican Voted Against Disaster Relief Funding.” Truthout. Zach Schonfeld. Oct 3, 2022. “Gaetz asks for Florida hurricane aid after voting against CR with FEMA funding.” Lauren Book. Oct 3, 2022. “Today, President Biden included additional Florida counties as those considered major disaster areas…” [tweet] Sanjana Karanth. Oct 2, 2022. “Florida Senators Request More Federal Aid Despite Not Voting For Hurricane Relief.” HuffPost. Anna Skinner. Sept 30, 2022. “Matt Gaetz Votes Against Disaster Relief Days After Hurricane Ian Hits.” Newsweek. Sergio Bustos. Sept 30, 2022. “Marco Rubio, Rick Scott urge Senate leaders for more funds to recover, rebuild Florida after Hurricane Ian.” Tallahassee Democrat. Patrick Leahy. Sept 9, 2022. “Hurricane Ian shows reason for FEMA Disaster Relief Fund.” Vermont Biz. Jackson Water Crisis Anthony Warren. Sept 30, 2022. “$20 million federal allocation for Jackson water clears House of Representatives.” Jackson WLBT. Michael Goldberg. Sept 27, 2022. “Funds to aid Jackson's water system held up as governor rose.” Yahoo News. Annie Snider and Lara Priluck. Sept 21, 2022. “House appropriators eye as much as $200M for Jackson water crisis.” Politico. James Brasuell. Aug 20, 2022. “Water Supply Failure in Jackson, Mississippi.” Planetizen. Continuing Resolution Aidan Quigley. Sept 30, 2022. “Stopgap funding bill clears House; next stop is Biden’s desk.” Roll Call. David Hawkings. Sept 7, 2016. “What Is a Continuing Resolution?” Roll Call. Ukraine James Bradley. Oct 4, 2022. “Why does a hurricane relief bill have money for Ukraine in it? Seriously.” [tweet] Emily Cochrane. Sept 29, 2022. “Senate Passes Bill to Aid Ukraine and Avert Government Shutdown.” The New York Times. Chelsey Cox. Sept 29, 2022. “Senate passes stopgap funding bill to avert government shutdown, provide more Ukraine aid.” CNBC. Jackie Walorski Crash Marek Mazurek. Sept 16, 2022. “Crash that killed U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, 3 others due in part to 'excessive speed.'” Appropriations “Appropriations Status Table: FY2023.” Congressional Research Service. Jeff Sachs Jeff Sachs on Bloomberg Global Financial News LIVE. Oct 3, 2022. “This is a path of dangerous escalation.” Bono. Apr 18, 2005. “The 2005 TIME 100: Jeffrey Sachs.” TIME. Peter Passell. Jun 27, 1993. “Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Shock Therapist.” The New York Times. Campaign Contributions from the Defense Industry “Defense: Top Recipients: 2020” Open Secrets. Afghanistan Craig Whitlock. The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War. Simon & Schuster: 2021. Spencer Ackerman. Apr 29, 2013. “How the CIA's Bags of Cash Undermined the Afghanistan War.” U.S. Infrastructure and Global Rankings “United Nations Sustainable Development Report Rankings.” “The Global Competitiveness Report, 2019.” Contaminated Water in the United States Gloria Oladipo. Sep 6, 2022. “Toxic arsenic levels make tap water unsafe for thousands in New York City.” The Guardian. Emily Holden et. al. Feb 26, 2021. “More Than 25 Million Americans Drink From the Worst Water Systems.” The Guardian. Maura Allaire. Feb 12, 2018. “National trends in drinking water quality violations.” The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 115(9). Paul Pelosi Chip Stock Caroline Vakil. Jul 27, 2022. “Pelosi’s husband sells off up to $5 million worth of chipmaker stock ahead of semiconductor bill vote.” The Hill. Starbucks Unionization “Current Starbucks Statistics.” Union Election Data. Laws and Treaties H.R.6833: Making continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2023, and for other purposes Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 on the accession of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic Vote breakdown Audio Sources Jeff Sachs on Bloomberg Global Financial News LIVE Oct 3, 2022 Jeff Sachs: The main fact is that the European economy is getting hammered by this by the sudden cut off of energy. And now to make it definitive the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline, which I would bet was a US action, perhaps the US and Poland. This is a speculation — Bloomberg Host: That's quite a statement. Why do you feel that that was a US action? What evidence do you have of that? Jeff Sachs: Well, first of all, there's direct radar evidence that US helicopters, military helicopters that are normally based in Gdansk, we're circling over this area. We also had the threats from the United States earlier in this year that one way or another, we are going to end Nord Stream. We also have a remarkable statement by Secretary Blinken, last Friday in a press conference, he says this is also a tremendous opportunity. It's a strange way to talk if you're worried about piracy on international infrastructure of vital significance. I know this runs counter to our narrative, that you're not allowed to say these things in the West, but the fact of the matter is, all over the world, when I talk to people, they think the US did it. And by the way, even reporters on our papers that are involved tell me privately, “Well, of course,” but it doesn't show up in our media. House Session September 30, 2022 Jen’s Highlighted PDF Senate Session September 29, 2022 Jen’s Highlighted PDF Senate Session April 30, 1998 Jen’s Highlighted PDF 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)
10/10/20221 hour, 33 minutes, 24 seconds
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CD259: CHIPS: A State Subsidization of Industry

A new law, known as the CHIPS Act, provides over $50 billion to existing, profitable companies to fund new semiconductor production facilities in the United States. In this episode, we examine why Congress decided to gift these companies our tax money now and explore the geopolitical implications of this funding decision. Beyond semiconductors, the law provides further corporate welfare for the creation of things that many of us tax payers likely support. This law is complicated; let's get nuanced. Executive Producer: Adam D. Episode Transcript Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the show notes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD230: Pacific Deterrence Initiative CD218: Minerals are the New Oil CD215: COVID-19 Testimony CD205: Nuclear Waste Storage CD187: Combating China CD186: National Endowment for Democracy CD128: Crisis in Puerto Rico Semiconductor Industry “Pass the CHIPS Act of 2022 Fact Sheet.” July 2022. Semiconductor Industry Association. “Global Semiconductor Incentives.” February 2022. Semiconductor Industry Association. “2021 State of the U.S. Semiconductor Industry.” September 2021. Semiconductor Industry Association. Taiwan Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Medha Singh. Aug 2, 2022. “Chip stocks slip as Taiwan tensions mount.” Reuters. Karen M. Sutter. Mar 7, 2022. “U.S.-Taiwan Trade Relations” [IF10256]. Congressional Research Service. Yimou Lee, Norihiko Shirouzu and David Lague. Dec 27, 2021. “T-DAY: The Battle for Taiwan.” Reuters. PRISM Program Derek B. Johnson. Aug 27, 2018. “Court case puts PRISM back in the spotlight.” FCW. Wealthy Shareholders Juliana Kaplan and Andy Kiersz. Oct 19, 2021. “The wealthiest Americans now own almost all of the stock market — 89% to be exact.” Insider. National Endowment for Democracy “Board of Directors.” National Endowment for Democracy. National Science Foundation Directorate Mitch Ambrose. Mar 17, 2022. “NSF Stands Up Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships.” American Institute of Physics. “Chairwoman Johnson and Ranking Member Lucas Welcome NSF Director Panchanathan’s Announcement of New Directorate Aligned with Bipartisan Committee Proposal.” Mar 17, 2022. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Fusion Research “Nuclear Fission and Fusion.” Diffen. “Client Profile: Commonwealth Fusion Systems: Summary.” Open Secrets. “Client Profile: Commonwealth Fusion Systems: Lobbyists.” Open Secrets. “Barton Gordon: Partner. K&L Gates. American Exception Book Aaron Good. 2022. American Exception: Empire and the Deep State. Skyhorse Publishing. The Law H.R. 4346: CHIPS Act of 2022 / Research and Development, Competition, and Innovation Act / Supreme Court Security Funding Act of 2022 GovTrack Overview Congressional Budget Office: Estimated Budgetary Effects of H.R. 4346 Bills Later Added to the CHIPS Act S. 3740: Micro Act of 2022 The one hearing H.R. 4863: Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act S. 1359: Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act of 2021 Audio Sources President Biden on Taiwan Sept 18, 2022 60 Minutes Scott Pelley: What should Chinese President Xi know about your commitment to Taiwan? President Joe Biden: We agree with what we signed on to a long time ago, that there's a One China policy and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving, we're not encouraging their being independent. That's their decision. Scott Pelley: But would US forces defend the island? President Joe Biden: Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack. Scott Pelley: [overdub] After our interview, a White House official told us US policy has not changed. Officially, the US will not say whether American forces would defend Taiwan. But the Commander in Chief had a view of his own. [interview] So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, US forces, US men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion? President Joe Biden: Yes. Senator Bernie Sanders’ Senate Session Speech Jul 27, 2022 Jen’s Highlighted PDF The Future of U.S. Policy on Taiwan Dec 8, 2021 Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs 30:45 Sen. James Risch (R-ID): A unilateral change in the status quo regarding Taiwan would not only threaten the security and liberty of 23 million Taiwanese, but also significantly damage vital US interests and alliances in the Indo Pacific. We would lose a model of democracy at a time of creeping authoritarianism. It would give China a platform in the first island chain to dominate the Western Pacific and threaten, indeed, US homeland. The consequences for Japan security, and therefore, the US-Japan alliance, are hard to overstate. Semiconductor supply chains would fall into China's hands, and it would emboldened China in other territorial disputes, including with India, and in the South China Sea. Fostering a New Era of Fusion Energy Research and Technology Development November 17, 2021 House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Energy Witnesses: Dr. Troy Carter, Director, Plasma Science and Technology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles and Chair, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee Long Range Planning Subcommittee Dr. Tammy Ma, Program Element Leader for High Energy Density Science, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Dr. Robert Mumgaard, CEO, Commonwealth Fusion Systems Dr. Kathryn McCarthy, Director, U.S. ITER Project Office Dr. Steven Cowley, Director, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Clips Robert Mumgaard: However, from where I sit, I see three reasons why I'm very optimistic the US can create a definitive lead in this new industry. First, the growth of the private sector. Over $2.4 billion in private capital has been invested in the fusion companies that now number nearly 30. This is a similar amount of capital as in all the nuclear fission small modular reactor companies. This is coming from a large range of investors across venture capitalists, to university endowments, to large energy companies. And they're putting capital at risk in fusion because they understand that the world needs a fundamentally new source of clean energy if we are going to meet our decarbonization goals. And these companies are highly ambitious, with a recent survey stating that 84% of them believe that fusion will be on the grid in the 2030s or earlier. Robert Mumgaard: We will proceed with the commercialization of our first fusion pilot plant called ARC. We hope to have that online in the early 2030s. Robert Mumgaard: The second reason I'm optimistic is that the public program has produced a consensus plan. Detailed in the National Academies and FESAC (Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee) Recommendations is a transition of the public funded program towards the US developing commercial energy. We need to stop some activities and transition to others. But the researchers are enthusiastic and they are ready. We have a new generation of leaders at national laboratories and universities hungry to develop that technology. And that plan has been authorized but has not yet been implemented. Robert Mumgaard: And we're not alone. The other companies like TAE and General Fusion, Helion, Tokamak Energy, are looking at similar timeframes and experiencing similar growth. All these companies are looking to see which governments are going to be the best partners. And unfortunately, we are already seeing defections, with a major facility that could have been built in the US, instead being built in the UK. It'd be much better if the US public program leveraged the private sector, aligning with the technical goals and timelines to keep it happening here. Robert Mumgaard: The third reason I'm hopeful is the movement towards public private partnerships and we know that when the public and private sectors work together and recognize what each side is good at, we create vibrant ecosystems. We saw this in commercial space, with NASA and SpaceX. We saw it even more recently with the COVID-19 vaccine Supply Chain Integrity October 1, 2020 Senate Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support Watch on CSPAN Witness: Ellen M. Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment 1:22:10 Ellen Lord: I believe there may well be a lot of this, frankly: not continuing to engage with these Chinese companies on sensitive issues, but in turn, developing industrial bases here that makes us not reliant on that back and forth. There's quite a bit of discussion within the inner agency right now about constraining Chinese involvement from everything from investments to specific commodities. But again, I think one of the areas where we could have the most impact on China broadly, is reshoring microelectronics. And right now, my team is working very closely across DOD, as well as the inner agency to come up with a very specific recommendation for some public-private partnerships in order to develop the capability here domestically. We at DOD are only about 1% of the overall microelectronics market, however, we have some critical needs. Attorney General Barr’s Remarks on China Policy at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum July 16, 2020 15:20 Attorney General Bill Barr: “Made in China 2025” is the latest iteration of the PRC’s state-led, mercantilist economic model. For American companies in the global marketplace, free and fair competition with China has long been a fantasy. To tilt the playing field to its advantage, China’s communist government has perfected a wide array of predatory and often unlawful tactics: currency manipulation, tariffs, quotas, state-led strategic investment and acquisitions, theft and forced transfer of intellectual property, state subsidies, dumping, cyberattacks, and industrial espionage. 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)
9/23/20221 hour, 23 minutes, 53 seconds
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CD258: Gain of Function Research

On August 3rd, Senate Republicans held a hearing examining gain of function research: its possible role in creating the COVID-19 pandemic; the problems with oversight of this dangerous research; and recommendations to Congress for how to fix those problems. Executive Producers: Dave Kovatch and Brandon Lewis Episode Transcript Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! Watch Jen’s Interview on CSPAN!!! Background Sources Gain-of-function Research Talha Burki. Feb 1, 2018. “Ban on gain-of-function studies ends.” The Lancet Infectious Diseases 18(2): pp 148-149. “Framework for Guiding Funding Decisions about Proposed Research Involving Enhanced Potential Pandemic Pathogens.” 2017. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Michael J. Selgelid. Aug 8, 2016. “Gain-of-Function Research: Ethical Analysis.” Science and Engineering Ethics 22(4): pp 923-964. Sara Reardon. October 22, 2014. “US suspends risky disease research.” Nature 514: pp 411-412. “Doing Diligence to Assess the Risks and Benefits of Life Sciences Gain-of-Function Research.” Oct 17, 2014. The White House Blog. Board on Life Sciences; Division on Earth and Life Studies; Committee on Science, Technology, and Law; Policy and Global Affairs; Board on Health Sciences Policy; National Research Council; Institute of Medicine. April 13, 2015. “Potential Risks and Benefits of Gain-of-Function Research: Summary of a Workshop.” National Academies Press. Marc Lipsitch. Jun 29, 2014. “Anthrax? That’s Not the Real Worry.” The New York Times. COVID-19 Origin Theories Gary Ruskin. Sep 14, 2022. “Key articles on origins of Covid-19, gain-of-function research and biolabs.” U.S. Right to Know. Alina Chan. Jul 30, 2022. “The evidence for a natural vs lab origin of Covid-19.” Medium. Maria Cheng and Janey Keaten. Jun 9, 2022. “WHO: COVID origins unclear but lab leak theory needs study.” AP News. “WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO): preliminary report.” Jun 9, 2022. World Health Organization. Carl Zimmer and James Gorman. Updated Oct 13, 2021. “A Group of Scientists Presses a Case Against the Lab Leak Theory of Covid.” The New York Times. Richard Muller and Steven Quay. Oct 5, 2021. “Science Closes In on Covid’s Origins.” The Wall Street Journal. Steven Quay and Richard Muller. Jun 6, 2021. “The Science Suggests a Wuhan Lab Leak.” The Wall Street Journal. “TWiV 762: SARS-CoV-2 origins with Robert Garry.” May 30, 2021. This Week in Virology [Podcast]. Glenn Kessler. May 25, 2021. “Timeline: How the Wuhan lab-leak theory suddenly became credible.” The Washington Post. Jorge Casesmeiro Roger. Mar 24, 2021. “An Interview with Richard Ebright: The WHO Investigation Members Were ‘participants in disinformation.’” Independent Science News. Josh Rogin. Mar 8, 2021. “In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Risky Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab. No One Listened.” Politico. Jane Qiu. Jun 1, 2020. “How China’s ‘Bat Woman’ Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus.” Scientific American. EcoHealth Alliance and Funding for Coronavirus Research Katherine Eban. March 31, 2022. “‘This Shouldn’t Happen’: Inside the Virus-Hunting Nonprofit at the Center of the Lab-Leak Controversy.” Vanity Fair. Sharon Lerner and Maia Hibbett. Sep, 23 2021. “Leaked Grant Proposal Details High-Risk Coronavirus Research.” The Intercept. Glenn Kessler. May 18, 2021. “Fact-checking the Paul-Fauci flap over Wuhan lab funding.” The Washington Post. Meredith Wadman and Jon Cohen. Apr 30, 2020. “NIH's axing of bat coronavirus grant a ‘horrible precedent' and might break rules, critics say.” Science. National Institutes of Health. May 27, 2014. NIH grant to EcoHealth Alliance for Wuhan research. NIH RePORTER. NIH Database Data Removal Amy Dockser Marcus. Jun 23, 2021. “Chinese Covid-19 Gene Data That Could Have Aided Pandemic Research Removed From NIH Database.” The Hearing Revisiting Gain of Function Research: What the Pandemic Taught Us and Where Do We Go From Here August 3, 2022 Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight Witnesses: Richard H. Ebright, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Laboratory Director, Rutgers University Waksman Institute of Microbiology Testimony Steven Quay, CEO and Founder, Atossa Therapeutics, Inc. Testimony Kevin M. Esvelt, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Testimony 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)
9/18/20221 hour, 4 minutes, 58 seconds
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CD257: PACT Act - Health Care for Poisoned Veterans

After decades of our government denying healthcare to veterans they exposed to poisonous toxins, the PACT Act - which will eventually provide this hard-fought-for care - is now law. In this episode, learn exactly who qualifies for these new benefits and when, discover the shocking but little-known events that led to their poisonings, and find out what exactly happened during those 6 days when Senate Republicans delayed the passage of the PACT Act. Executive Producers: D. Leonard and Brandon Lewis Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the shownotes on our website at Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD249: A Few Good Laws CD205: Nuclear Waste Storage CD195: Yemen CD161: Veterans Choice Program CD124: The Costs of For-Profit War CD107: New Laws & Veterans’ Health Care What the PACT Does and Doesn’t Do “BREAKING NEWS! Huge Step Forward for Veterans: PACT Act 2022 Adds New Presumptive Conditions for Burn Pit, Agent Orange, and Radiation Exposure.” Aug 10, 2022. VA Claims Insider. Abraham Mahshie. Aug 10, 2022. “Biden Signs PACT Act to Expand VA Coverage for Toxic Exposure, but Some Are Left Out.” Air Force Magazine. Leo Shane III. Aug 4, 2022. “Now that PACT Act has passed, how soon will veterans see their benefits?” Military Times. “The PACT Act and your VA benefits.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA Sidath Viranga Panangal, Jared S. Sussma, and Heather M. Salaza. Jun 28, 2022. “Department of Veterans Affairs FY2022 Appropriations” [R46964]. Congressional Research Service. “VA health care.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Eligibility for VA health care.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Your health care costs.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Toxic Exposures Burn Pits “Ten things veterans should know about burn pits.” November 20th, 2014. VAntage Point. “DoD concedes rise in burn-pit ailments.” Feb 8, 2010. Military Times. “Operation Desert Shield.” U.S. Army Center of Military History. “Operation Desert Storm.” U.S. Army Center of Military History. Agent Orange Donnie La Curan. April 1, 2021. “Agent Orange Laos Victims Never Acknowledged by U.S.” Veterans Resources. Charles Dunst. Jul 20, 2019. “The U.S.’s Toxic Agent Orange Legacy.” The Atlantic. Patricia Kime. May 11, 2020. “Report Claims Vietnam-Era Veterans Were Exposed to Agent Orange on Guam.” “Clinic Issues Report Confirming Guam Veterans’ Exposure to Dioxin Herbicides Like Agent Orange.” May 11, 2020. Yale Law School. “Agent Orange - Johnston Island Atoll, AFB.” Vietnam Security Police Association. Susan E. Davis. Apr 9, 1991. “The Battle Over Johnston Atoll.” The Washington Post. Enewetak Atoll Chris Shearer. Dec 28, 2020. “Remembering America's Forgotten Nuclear Cleanup Mission.” Vice. “The Radiological Cleanup of Enewetak Atoll. March 2018. U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Dave Philipps. Jan 28, 2017. “Troops Who Cleaned Up Radioactive Islands Can’t Get Medical Care.” The New York Times. Palomares, Spain Nuclear Accident “New Federal Suit Filed Against VA on Behalf of Veterans Exposed to Radiation at Palomares Nuclear Cleanup.” November 1, 2021. Yale Law School Today. Dave Philipps. June 19, 2016. “Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident.” The New York Times. “Palomares Nuclear Weapons Accident: Revised Dose Evaluation Report.” April 2001. United States Air Force. U.S. Department of Energy. February 1966 “U.S. Position on Minimizing Soil Removal.” U.S. Department of Energy Archives. Thule, Greenland Nuclear Accident Robert Mitchell. Jan 21, 2018. “Cataclysmic cargo: The hunt for four missing nuclear bombs after a B-52 crash.” The Washington Post. MAAS v. U.S. 897 F.Supp. 1098 (1995). United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division. “Project Crested Ice: The Thule Nuclear Accident Volume 1 [SAC Historical Study 113].” June 1982. History and Research Division, Headquarters, Strategic Air Command. Captain Robert E. McElwee. “Project Crested Ice: USAF B-52 Accident at Thule, Greenland, 21 January 1968.” U.S. Defense Technical Information Center. South Carolina Nuclear “Storage” Doug Pardue. May 21, 2017 (Updated Jun 28, 2021). “Deadly legacy: Savannah River site near Aiken one of the most contaminated places on Earth.” The Post & Courier. Gulf War Illness “What is Gulf War Syndrome?” Johns Hopkins Medicine. “UTSW genetic study confirms sarin nerve gas as cause of Gulf War illness.” May 11, 2022. UT Southwestern Medical Center Newsroom. Camp Lejeune Water Contamination “Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claims | Veteran Owned Law Firm.” The Carlson Law Firm on YouTube. “Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.” Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “Summary of the water contamination situation at Camp Lejeune.” Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “Health effects linked with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride exposure.” Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “Camp Lejeune Water Contamination History.” Oct 18, 2009. St. Lawrence County Government. St. Louis Area Nuclear Contamination Chris Hayes. Jul 27, 2022. “Flooding around nuclear waste renews residents’ fears.” Fox 2 Now - St. Louis. Jim Salter. Mar 19, 2022. “West Lake Landfill cleanup slowed after more nuclear waste found.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Jesse Bogan. Dec 20, 2021. “Concerns linger as completion date for Coldwater Creek cleanup pushed to 2038.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Evaluation of Community Exposures Related to Coldwater Creek.” Apr 30, 2019. U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Robert Alvarez. February 11, 2016. “West Lake story: An underground fire, radioactive waste, and governmental failure.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “Westlake Landfill, Bridgeton, MO.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Atomic Homefront.” HBO Documentaries. Hanford Waste Management Site “Hanford’s Dirty Secret– and it’s not 56 million gallons of nuclear waste.” Jul 26, 2019. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Biden Drone Bombing “'Cutting-edge technology used to eliminate Zawahiri.'” Aug 7, 2022. The Express Tribune. Jon Stewart People Staff. August 11, 2022. “Jon Stewart Shares His Emotional Reaction to Signing of Veterans Health Bill: 'I'm a Mess'” People. Republican F*ckery Ryan Cooper. Aug 3, 2022. “Republicans Just Exposed Their Greatest Weakness.” The American Prospect. Jordain Carney and Anthony Adragna. August 1, 2022. “Senate GOP backtracks after veterans bill firestorm.” Politico. “Roll Call 455 | H. J. Res. 114: To Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.” Oct 10, 2022. Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Foreign Wars No One Talks About Ellen Knickmeyer. Jun, 16 2022. “GAO: US Failed to Track if Arms Used Against Yemen Civilians.” Joseph R. Biden. June 08, 2022. “Letter to the Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate regarding the War Powers Report.” The White House. Muhammad Fraser-Rahim. Oct 16, 2017. “The Deaths of Four Elite U.S. Soldiers in Niger Show Why Trump Must Wake Up on Terrorism in Africa.” Newsweek. Overseas Contingency Operations Emily M. Morgenstern. Updated August 13, 2021. “Foreign Affairs Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Funding: Background and Current Status” [IF10143 ]. Congressional Research Service. Todd Harrison. Jan 11, 2017. “The Enduring Dilemma of Overseas Contingency Operations Funding.” Center for Strategic and International Studies The Law S. 3373: Honoring our PACT Act Jen’s Highlighted PDF of S. 3373 - Final Version Timeline of Votes and Changes June 16, 2022 Senate Roll Call Vote July 12, 2022. “Comparative Print: Bill to Bill Differences Comparing the base document BILLS-117hr3967eas.xml with BILLS-117S3373ES-RCP117-56.” U.S. House of Representatives. July 13, 2022 House Roll Call Vote July 27, 2022 Senate Roll Call Vote August 1, 2022. “Amendments Submitted and Proposed.” Congressional Record -- Senate. Audio Sources President Biden signs the PACT Act, expanding healthcare for veterans exposed to toxins August 10, 2022 PBS NewsHour on YouTube "Justice has been delivered": Biden says top al-Qaeda leader killed in drone strike August 1, 2022 Global News on YouTube “Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claims | Veteran Owned Law Firm.” The Carlson Law Firm on YouTube Senator Toomey on State of the Union with Jake Tapper July 31, 2022 CNN Clips 7:00 Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): Here's what you need to keep in mind, Jake. First of all, this is the oldest trick in Washington. People take a sympathetic group of Americans — it could be children with an illness, it could be victims of crime, it could be veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals — craft a bill to address their problems, and then sneak in something completely unrelated that they know could never pass on its own and dare Republicans to do anything about it because they know they'll unleash their allies in the media and maybe a pseudo-celebrity to make up false accusations to try to get us to just swallow what shouldn't be there. That's what's happening here, Jake. 10:40 Jake Tapper: So one of the questions that I think people have about what you're claiming is a budgetary gimmick is, the VA budgets will always remain subject to congressional oversight, they can't just spend this money any way they want. And from how I read this legislation, it says that this money has to be spent on health care for veterans who suffered exposure from toxic burned pits. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): This is why they do this sort of thing, Jake, because it gets very deep in the weeds and very confusing for people very quickly. It's not really about veteran spending. It's about what category of government bookkeeping, they put the veterans spending in. My change, the honest people acknowledge it will have no effect on the amount of money or the circumstances under which the money for veterans is being spent. But what I want to do is treat it, for government accounting purposes, the way we've always treated it for government accounting purposes. Because if we change it to the way that the Democrats want, it creates room in future budgets for $400 billion of totally unrelated, extraneous spending on other matters. Senator Toomey on Face the Nation with John Dickerson July 31, 2022 CBS News Clips 4:10 John Dickerson: 123 Republicans in the House voted for this, 34 Senate Republicans voted for it. Same bill. This week, the bill didn't change but the Republican votes did. Why? Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): Now, the Republican votes didn't change on the substance of the bill. Republicans have said we want an amendment to change a provision that has nothing to do with veterans health care. The Republicans support this. The Democrats added a provision that has nothing to do with veterans health care, and it's designed to change government accounting rules so that they can have a $400 billion spending spree. 6:25 Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): Honest Democrats evaluating this will tell you: if my amendment passes, not a dime change in spending on veterans programs. What changes is how the government accounts for it. John Dickerson: I understand, but the accounting change, as you know, is a result — the reason they put it in that other bucket is that it doesn't subject it to the normal triage of budgeting. And the argument is that the values at stake here are more important than leaving it to the normal cut and thrust of budgeting. Jon’s Response To Ted Cruz’s PACT Act Excuses July 29, 2022 The Problem with Jon Stewart on Youtube Clips 00:20 Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): What the dispute is about is the Democrats played a budgetary trick, which is they took $400 billion in discretionary spending and they shifted it to a mandatory one. Jon Stewart: What Ted Cruz is describing is inaccurate, not true, bulls ** t. This is no trick. Everything in the government is either mandatory or discretionary spending depending on which bucket they feel like putting it in. The whole place is basically a f * ing shell game. And he's pretending that this is some new thing that the Democrats pulled out, stuck into the bill, and snuck it past one Ted Cruz. Now I'm not a big-city Harvard educated lawyer, but I can read. It's always been mandatory spending so that the government can't just cut off their funding at any point. No trick, no gimmick, [it’s] been there the whole f**king time. 1:50 Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): What's the Republicans made clear is, if we leave that spending as discretionary — don't play the budgetary trick — the bill will pass with 80 or 90 votes. Jon Stewart: I don't know how many other ways to say this, but there was no budgetary trick and it was always mandatory. And when they voted in the Senate on June 16, they actually got 84 votes. And you know who voted for that? Ted f*cking Cruz and every other one of those Republicans that switched their votes. There was no reason for them to switch the votes. The bill that passed the Senate 84 to 14 on June 16 has not had one word added to it by Democrats, or spending fairies, or anybody else. It's the same f*cking bill. ‘I Call Bullshit!’ Jon on the PACT Act Being Blocked in the Senate July 28, 2022 The Problem with John Stewart on YouTube Clips 3:20 Jon Stewart: June 16, they passed the PACT Act 84 to 14. You don't even see those scores in the Senate anymore. They passed it. Every one of these individuals that has been fighting for years, standing on the shoulders of Vietnam veterans who have been fighting for years, standing on the shoulders of Persian Gulf War veterans fighting for years, Desert Storm veterans, to just get the health care and benefits that they earn from their service. And I don't care if they were fighting for our freedom. I don't care if they were fighting for the flag. I don't care if they were fighting because they wanted to get out of a drug treatment center, or it was jail or the army. I don't give a shit. They lived up to their oath. And yesterday, they spit on it in abject cruelty. These people thought they could finally breathe. You think their struggles end because the PACT Act passes? All it means is they don't have to decide between their cancer drugs and their house. Their struggle continues. From the crowd: This bill does a lot more than just give us health care. Jon Stewart: It gives them health care, gives them benefits, lets them live. From the crowd: Keeps veterans from going homeless keeps veterans from become an addict, keeps veterans from committing suicide. Jon Stewart: Senator Toomey is not going to hear that because he won't sit down with this man. Because he is a fucking coward. You hear me? A coward. 5:15 Jon Stewart: Pat Toomey stood up there — Patriot Pat Toomey, excuse me, I'm sorry. I want to give him his propers, I want to make sure that I give him his propers. Patriot Pat Toomey stood on the floor and said “this is a slush fund, they're gonna use $400 billion to spend on whatever they want.” That's nonsense. I call bullshit. This isn't a slush fund. You know, what's a slush fund? The OSO, the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund. $60 billion, $70 billion every year on top of $500 billion, $600 billion, $700 billion of a defense budget. That's a slush fund, unaccountable. No guardrails? Did Pat Toomey stand up and say, this is irresponsible. The guard rails? No, not one of them. Did they vote for it year after year after year? You don't support the troops. You support the war machine. 7:10 Jon Stewart: And now they say, “Well, this will get done. Maybe after we get back from our summer recess, maybe during the lame duck…” because they're on Senate time. Do you understand? You live around here. Senate time is ridiculous. These motherfuckers live to 200 — they’re tortoises. They live forever and they never lose their jobs and they never lose their benefits and they never lose all those things. Well, [sick veterans are] not on Senate time. They're on human time. Cancer time. 8:20 Jon Stewart: I honestly don't even know what to say anymore. But we need your help, because we're not leaving. These people cannot go away. I don't know if you know this, you know, obviously, I'm not a military expert. I didn't serve in the military, but from what I understand, you're not allowed to just leave your post when the mission isn't completed. Apparently you take an oath, you swear an oath, and you can't leave, that these folks can leave because they're on Senate time. Go ahead, go home, spend time with your families, because these people can't do it anymore. So they can't leave until this gets done. Senator Toomey PACT Act Amendment Floor Speech July 26, 2022 Senate Session Representative Mark Takano PACT Act Floor Speech July 13, 2022 House Session 3:38:20 **Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA): The way this country has dealt with toxic exposure has been piecemeal and inadequate. President Biden recognizes this, too. Shortly after he was sworn in, I met with the President about our shared priorities for veterans. Upon learning of my goal to pass comprehensive legislation to help toxic-exposed veterans, the President leaned over to me and talked about his son, Beau, who served near burn pits in Iraq and Kosovo. It might be hard for most Americans to imagine what a burn pit looks like because they are illegal in the United States. Picture walking next to and breathing fumes from a burning pit the size of a football field. This pit contained everything from household trash, plastics, and human waste to jet fuel and discarded equipment burning day and night. Beau Biden lived near these burn pits and breathed the fumes that emanated from them. President Biden believes that con- stant exposure to these burn pits, and the toxic fumes they emitted, led to Beau’s cancer and early death. It was during that meeting when I knew I had a partner in President Biden. Atomic Homefront 2017 HBO Documentaries “This Concrete Dome Holds A Leaking Toxic Timebomb.” November 27, 2017 Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Foreign Correspondent 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)
8/21/20221 hour, 47 minutes, 28 seconds
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CD256: Poisonous Pet Collars

Seresto Flea and Tick Collars for dogs and cats have been sold to Americans since 2013. During that time, the EPA has received approximately 100,000 reports of illnesses and 2,500 reports of deaths of animals that wore a Seresto Flea and Tick collar, by far the most reports received about any flea and tick treatment on the market. In this episode, hear testimony from scientists about the Environmental Protection Agency’s disturbingly lax review processes for pesticides in pet products and learn why your vote in November is likely to determine if these popular but dangerous products will stay on American shelves. Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! Listen to the latest episode of Jen's new podcast with Andrew Heaton and Justin Robert Young — We're Not Wrong Episode 12: About The Never Ending Ukraine War, Biden's COVID and Mike Pence (LIVE FROM BERLIN) To report an incident directly to the EPA via email [email protected] View the shownotes on our website at Executive Producer Recommended Sources CD200: How to End Legal Bribes Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith. The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics. Public Affairs: 2011. Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD254: Baby Formula Shortage CD234: AWOL Recall: The Rock and Play Sleeper Reports on Seresto and Pesticides “Oversight Subcommittee Report Reveals EPA Failed to Protect Pets, Owners From Dangerous Flea and Tick Collar.” Jun 15, 2022. House Committee on Oversight and Reform. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. June 2022. “Staff Report: Seresto Flea and Tick Collars: Examining why a product linked to more than 2,500 pet deaths remains on the market.” Lauretta Joseph. May 19, 2022. “Notification of Evaluation: The EPA’s Response to Reported Incidents of Unintended Effects from Pet Collar Pesticides, Project No. OSRE-FY22-0120” Johnathan Hettinger. Sept. 24, 2021. “Is your pet wearing a Seresto flea collar? Company reports thousands more adverse incidents.” USA Today. Jordan Liles. Mar 8, 2021. “Did Seresto Flea Collars Cause 1,698 Dog and Cat Deaths?” Snopes. Johnathan Hettinger. Mar 2, 2021. “Popular flea collar linked to almost 1,700 pet deaths. The EPA has issued no warning.” USA Today. Jen’s highlighted copy Lawrence J. Dyckman et al. July 1995. “Pesticides: EPA’s Efforts to Collect and Take Action on Exposure Incident Data, GAO/RCED-95-163.” U.S. Government Accountability Office. Lobbying “Lobbyist Profile: Ryan Canfield.” 2022. Open Secrets. “Employment History: Ryan Canfield.” Open Secrets. “Elanco Animal Health.” Open Secrets. The Hearing Seresto Flea and Tick Collars: Examining why a product linked to more than 2,500 pet deaths remains on the market June 15, 2022 Committee on Oversight and Reform, Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Witnesses: Faye Hemsley & Omarion Hemsley, Owners of Deceased Pet Thomas Maiorino, Owner of Deceased Pet Jeffrey Simmons, President and Chief Executive Officer, Elanco Animal Health Incorporated Nathan Donley, Ph.D, Environmental Health Science Director, Center for Biological Diversity Karen McCormack, Former Scientist, Policy Analyst, and Communications Officer (ret.), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency Carrie Sheffield (minority witness), Senior Policy Analyst, Independent Women’s Voice Clips 1:20 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): As early as 2015, just a few years after the collar entered the US market, an EPA investigation found that among similar products, the Seresto collar “ranked number one” by a wide margin in terms of total incidents, major incidents and deaths, even after factoring in companies’ relative sales. Those findings weren't enough to drive the makers of Seresto collar or the EPA to act. 1:50 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): In 2016, Canada's equivalent of the EPA known as the PMRA, concluded based on a review of the same American data available to the EPA that the collar posed too great a risk to pets and their owners to be ever sold in Canada. 2:10 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Even as the death count rose, the EPA allowed Seresto to remain on the market here without even so much as requiring additional warning labels that regulators mandated in places ranging from Australia to Colombia to the European Union. 2:30 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): The companies that manufactured the Seresto collar first Bayer animal health and then later Elanco were also aware of the risks, the incidents and the deaths, but they too failed to act. Instead, they hired third party industry insiders to conduct so-called independent reviews of the incident data, which ended up protecting their $300 million a year market but ended up endangering pets. So the Seresto collar stayed the same and so did the consequences. 4:15 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): This particular collar has caused 100,000 incidents reported to the EPA and over 2500 pet deaths reported to the EPA. 4:30 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): The steps that we are asking for today are crucial, because it's important to protect our pets and our families, too. I now call upon my distinguished colleague, Mr. Cloud for his opening statement. Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX): Thank you, Chairman. This is the first hearing of the Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee this year, and we've been in session for 52 days this year. And our first hearing is on pet collars. And I do realize that our pets are a huge part of our lives, they enrich our families, they provide companionship for my kids, they've helped foster responsibility and compassion and care, important ethics we need in our society. Just recently, our family mourned the loss of our guinea pig, biscuit. And so pets are a huge part of our family lives. But I have to admit that when I saw that this was going to be on the agenda for this week, I cannot help but be concerned, especially coming from South Texas about the 1000s 10s of 1000s of human lives that have passed away due to fentanyl and due to an open border and due to the policies of this administration to continue to aid and abet cartels. And I realized that this is the economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee. And so I think about economic policy happening right now and where the minds of the American people are. Gas is now averaging $5 A gallon nationwide. For the first time in history. We have not had a hearing. Inflation is at a 40 year high. We have not had a hearing, the American people cannot find baby formula. We still haven't had a hearing. I've mentioned fentanyl is killing Americans, especially our teens at unprecedented rates. We have not had a hearing. Biden's systemic elimination of the safe and secure border he inherited has led to the worst humanitarian and national security crisis in this country's history. We have not had a hearing this term, we could talk about how inflation is affecting the cost of owning a pet, including the increased cost of food, toys, accessories, but we're not talking about that either. Instead, we're holding a hearing on the pet collar, which fights fleas and ticks. And as any pet owner knows fleas and tick management is an essential part of pet care. But I'm not sure it's an essential part of congressional oversight, especially when we take in mind where the American people are at. And frankly, I've talked to a number of people in my district and others who live in other parts of the country and they are really surprised that this has risen to one of the top priorities of commerce at this time in juncture. The subcommittee Republicans would rather explore efforts to help American consumers during these trying times, we would gladly have joined the chairman in holding a hearing on the shortage of baby formula. Moreover, we have welcomed the chance to explore TikTok’s troubling practice of showing dangerous content to minors, an investigation you all started last year. In fact, it's now come to light that teenagers are using tick tock and other social media platforms to purchase illicit drugs including unknowingly in many cases, in most cases, fentanyl. Social media platforms are also using it to recruit young people into the gig economy of human trafficking. A hearing on that crisis could be incredibly important. And on the subject of our nation's youth, CDC bureaucrats have actively pursued an agenda to close schools during the pandemic instead of following the science damaging our children's financial, mental, physical, emotional, and also their learning for years to come. But we still have not had a hearing. Americans are facing incredible economic issues which require us as elected officials to listen and to respond. I do appreciate the fact that our pets play an important part of our lives. We should be kind to animals and we should teach our children to do the same. But I do care immensely more about the human lives that we were elected to serve. 10:20 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): A recorded vote has been requested — we will pause while the we will get the clerk out. 12:00 Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL): Mr. Chairman, it's already been about what? A minute and a half. Where's the clerk? Is the clerk on lunch and not here today? Rep. Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): I think the clerk is on the way Mr. Donalds, thank you. Rep. Donalds: Is the clerk sitting in the side office just hanging out? I mean, come on, Mr. Chairman. 21:20 Clerk: Mr. Cloud? Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX): Yes Clerk: Mr. Cloud votes yes. Mr. Keller? Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA): Yes Clerk: Mr. Keller votes yes. Mr. Franklin? Rep. C. Scott Franklin (R-FL): Yes Clerk: Mr. Franklin votes yes. Mr. Clyde? Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA): Yes. Clerk: Mr. Clyde votes yes. Mr. Donalds? Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL): Yes Clerk: Mr. Donalds votes yes. 26:31 Thomas Maiorino: My name is Thomas Maiorina. I reside in Mount Laurel, New Jersey with my wife Monica. I am the father of three boys. My youngest son, Robert turned 12 in 2011. After years of asking for a dog, he wore us down and we decided to rescue a dog from a southern shelter for my son's birthday. After researching online, we adopted a mixed breed mutt that Robbie and his two other brothers named Rooney. Rooney swiftly became a loved member of our family. A bit rambunctious, she was just what a 12 year old boy needed. She loved the run and chase anything the move in the yard. By all measures, we took great care to ensure Rooney had a healthy and happy life. We took her on daily walks, sometimes three a day, hikes on park trails. We monitor her diet and made sure she was seen by the veterinarian as needed, and she received all of her shots. Because she was a bit rambunctious and we lived in a wooded area where there's a lot of wildlife, we were constantly concerned about the problems of fleas and ticks. We consulted with a veterinarian after getting Rooney to determine the best way to protect her against this. We use a variety of prevention methods for the first few years and when we changed veterinarians in approximately 2013 or 14, the new veterinarian strongly recommended that we use the Seresto flea and tick collar, based on all of our options. We heeded that advice and purchased Seresto collars from our local PetSmart. The collars were intended to provide protection for up to eight months. We noticed that after fixing a collar to Rooney’s neck, she began to itch and first had that treated and tested for allergies. We took her to the vet several times during 2018 seeking to find the cause for the ever increasing itching. After several visits and multielement medications, they were unable to determine the cause and we switched to a specialist in 2019 to seek further assistance, where they provided allergy shots and other medications to address the worsening itching and related symptoms. Rooney's behavior then became more erratic as the months wore on she began linking her paws so feverishly they would bleed. She also developed bleeding patches on her stomach. Ultimately, in October 2020, Rooney suffered horrendous grand mal seizure in the presence of myself and my wife. The damage done by the seizure was irreversible. She was a shell of her former self and ultimately, the family decided the most humane thing would be to put Rooney to sleep at the age of nine. In early March 2021, I read an article online about Seresto pet collars resulting in the deaths of 1700 Pets without any warnings from the EPA or the manufacturer. I sought out legal representation not because I wanted financial compensation, but because I took great pains to care for Rooney. The final 18 months of her life were agonizing to watch if I could help prevent another family from going through what my family went through. I wanted to act. I'm here today in furtherance of that effort. I appreciate the committee taking the time to investigate this matter. And thank you for your time. 33:30 Jeffrey Simmons: There are a few points I'd like to emphasize upfront. First, the EPA approved Seresto following more than 80 safety and toxicity studies, all of which show that Seresto and its ingredients have a strong safety profile. Second, more than 80 regulatory bodies around the world have approved Seresto. Seresto is widely used and more than 80 million collars worn over the past decade to protect dogs and cats from fleas and ticks around the world. 34:00 Jeffrey Simmons: Third, adverse event reports are not intended to be, and in fact are absolutely not, proof of causation. Reports require further investigation and analysis to determine cause. And after years of review, our pharmacovigilance team made up of veterinarians and other experts who study adverse event reports has not identified a single death caused by the active ingredients in the collar. 36:45 Jeffrey Simmons: No product is without risk. What matters is whether those risks are reasonable. And in light of the benefits and numerous studies and the incident report data for Seresto demonstrate the product does not pose an unreasonable risk and has a strong safety profile, which is why the American Veterinary Medical Association opposed canceling Seresto’s EPA registration. 38:05 Nathan Donley: My name is Dr. Nathan Donley. I'm the science director for the Environmental Health Program at the Center for Biological Diversity. I have a PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology from Oregon Health and Sciences University. The last seven years of my professional life have been spent researching how pesticides impact people and the environment and the regulatory failures that can actually facilitate harm rather than prevent it. I published three peer reviewed scientific articles and five technical reports on this subject. I've authored over 100 technical scientific comments to the EPA on pesticide documents, including flumethrin and imidacloprid, the two active ingredients in the Seresto collar. I've read through 1000s of pages of FOIA documents I requested on matters related to the approval and continued use of Seresto. 39:40 Nathan Donley: While other agencies like the FDA have robust systems in place to surveil harms from products under their purview, EPA only requires minimal information be submitted four times a year and they delegate this responsibility to the pesticide industry itself. The limited information that is collected includes only the pesticide product name, where the incident occurred, and the severity of the incident. That's it. Oftentimes, the agency doesn't even know if the incident involves a dog or a cat. Even though the EPA determines what incident information it collects, it then turns around and laments that the incident data are insufficient to take regulatory action to protect public health, the environment and our pets. It's a system designed to achieve nothing other than maintaining the status quo. Worse yet, reported incidents significantly underestimate the true scope of harm. The EPA recently estimated that only one in 25 pesticide incidents involving another pesticide called Kamba was actually reported to the authorities. That's only a 4% reporting rate. Given that 100,000 people have reported their concerns about Seresto, this is very alarming because the true number of harmful incidents to pets could be potentially far higher. 41:05 Nathan Donley: The EPA’s counterpart in Canada was so concerned about Seresto incidents and harms of pets and humans that it denied Seresto approval in 2016. Canada analyzed U incident data and determined that Seresto collars had an incident rate 50 times greater than the average flea collar and 36 times greater than Canada's trigger for review. 41:25 Nathan Donley: EPA has no trigger for review of any pesticide product, no matter how much harm is being reported. And because the agency has no mandated trigger for reviewing pesticides like Seresto, rather than choosing to use incident reporting data to inform a robust regulatory process and take dangerous products off the market, EPA routinely chooses to do nothing at all. And that's especially troubling when you consider that Seresto is just one of 18,000 pesticide products currently approved by the EPA. 42:40 Karen McCormack: My name is Karen McCormack. At the present time I am a retired government employee after working over 40 years at the Environmental Protection Agency. During my career at EPA, I first worked in an EPA laboratory as a research coordinator. And in that capacity, I conducted research on numerous pesticides. Later I transferred to EPA headquarters in Washington DC, and worked in various positions in the pesticide program as a scientist, policy analyst, and a communications officer. I also worked in a number of offices at EPA including the Office of the Assistant Administrator for Pesticides and Toxins. Although I'm retired from EPA, I'm still closely following a number of environmental topics and one of those topics of interest to me has been the impact of flea and tick pet products on cats and dogs. 43:30 Karen McCormack: The US Environmental Protection Agency is charged with regulating products that contain pesticides and in ensuring that all pesticide products are safe to use. Before 1996, EPA did not consistently require manufacturers to conduct animal safety studies for pet products containing pesticides. Because pet products with pesticides were available readily in commercial stores, consumers thought they must be safe. This is not necessarily the case. Flea and tick products are designed to kill insects, and they often contain poisonous chemicals. When combined with pesticides that are used outside the home and in the water and food that people drink and eat, the aggregate risks from all these sources of pesticides can be high, especially for children who are vulnerable to toxic chemicals -- much more vulnerable than adults. And it wasn't until the passage of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act that EPA began to examine the risks from sources other than food, including risks from pet products containing pesticides. After the passage of FQPA, pesticide manufacturers were required to submit to EPA animal safety studies and incident reports showing harm to animals and humans exposed to pesticides and pet products. Between 2012 and the present time the EPA received an increasing number of incident reports related to the use of flea and tick pet collars for dogs and cats. The toxic effects that were described in these many incident reports from the use of certain pet collars ranged from mild effects, such as skin irritation to more severe effects such as intense tremors, seizures, paralysis, organ failure and death. The largest number of incident rate counts that EPA received during this period were from the use of pet collar called Seresto. 45:35 Karen McCormack: Between January 2012 and the present time, EPA has received over 100,000 incident reports, and these incident reports include human incidents as well as pet incidents. These reports also include at least 2300 reports of pet deaths. The number is most likely a very low estimate of the actual number of incidents that are occurring since many pet owners do not know that they can report incidents to EPA and they may not know how to correlate the adverse effects in their pets with a particular pet product. 46:30 Karen McCormack: There are no independent organizations that rank the safety of pet products. And the sales data which is needed to rank the safety of pet products is considered confidential business information by the manufacturers. EPA’s risk assessments also do not tell the full story of what pet products are safe, as they rely heavily on industry generated studies that were conducted on mice and rats rather than dogs and cats. And EPA’s risk assessments also are based mainly on studies that were conducted with only one pesticide in Seresto rather than the combined pesticides in this pet product. 47:10 Karen McCormack: Although the original manufacturers of Seresto, Bayer, did conduct a number of efficacy and safety studies in dogs and cats treated with Seresto, the company did not conduct two very critical studies that are important for determining the safety of a pet product. These tests include a pet transferable residue study, a petting study, to determine the exposure of humans to Seresto. And they did not conduct a study that measures the amount of pesticide that gets in the blood of treated dogs and cats. 48:45 Carrie Sheffield: My name is Carrie Sheffield and I'm a senior policy analyst at the Center for Economic Opportunity at Independent Women's Forum. We are a nonprofit organization committed to increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. 2:44:20 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Let me just show you some analysis that was conducted by Elanco, which we would just refer to as well as the EPA, as well as the Canadian equivalent of the EPA, which is called the PMRA. Essentially, we look at this chart here, and we see that at the top Elanco computed that 0.51% of pet deaths were “possibly or probably” caused by the Seresto collar. The PMRA in Canada, looking at a sample of pet deaths concluded that 33% of those pet deaths were possibly or probably caused by Seresto collars. And the EPA here, concluded that 45% were possibly or probably caused by pet by the Seresto collar. Now, sir, I think originally, you said that there is no scientific evidence, no evidence of a causal link, this is clearly evidence, it was so compelling that the Canadian equivalent of the EPA never allowed for Seresto collars to be sold in Canada, correct? Jeffrey Simmons: Yes, I'm aware of that decision. I would also add that 80 other countries have approved this product, we've had over 80 million collars actually used. I'm not familiar with this data comparison, but what I can say is following the EPA regulatory process around the oversight, that we have pharmacovigilance, close to 200 veterinarians and staff on our team, looking at the data through the way the EPA wants us to we have not seen a linkage from the active ingredients. Rep. Krishnamoorthi: I understand that sir, I understand you haven't seen the linkage, although other authorities have and their scientists who are not paid by you have done so. 2:46:25 Nathan Donley: This is what we commonly see, quite frankly, when the regulated industry is doing their own research. It commonly finds that their products are safer than when government agencies or academic scientists take on a similar analysis. 2:46:55 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): We have FOIA documents from the EPA, and emails internal to the EPA talking about the Seresto collar. Here's just one of them. This is from an employee who basically voiced their opinion about recent coverage of the Seresto controversy, he said, “looks like the sh*t has hit the fan….will be interesting seeing where this goes. I hope there is a FOIA for all communications on this so that our emails are made public. We have been screaming about Seresto for many years.” I presume that you've heard some of these screams and concerns, correct, Ms. McCormack? Karen McCormack: That's correct. A number of EPA employees have contacted me and given me detailed descriptions about what's happening with Seresto and they were very upset that EPA refused to do anything about it. 2:48:25 Karen McCormack: A number of the scientists, and this is not unusual, feel that the decision makers are not considering the science and they're making decisions based on political reasons. I don't know if I have time to talk about this, but I did look at the science that the Canadian government did, the causality analysis. They looked at the consistency and toxicity of effects from exposure of pets to Seresto. And what they found was very disturbing. It was so disturbing that they decided the risks were too high to approve Seresto and they could not be mitigated by putting a label statement on the product or by issuing warning labels, so they refused to approve Seresto. 2:49:25 Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX): Thank you, Ms. McCormack, for acknowledging that the EPA sometimes makes political decisions, so that's something we'll definitely be coming back to next term. 2:55:05 Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): Are the active ingredients for Seresto in the United States different from the active ingredients for Seresto collars in other countries? Jeffrey Simmons: No, I do not believe they're any different than the other 80 countries. Rep. Porter: In other countries like in Colombia and Australia, the warning labels for Seresto collars classify the collar as highly toxic and as poison. 2:55:50 Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): Does the label in the United States have language? Like highly toxic or poison? Yes or no? Jeffrey Simmons: It does not. Rep. Porter: Okay. So the warning label here in the United States, though does say that mild reactions may occur and mentions hair loss, scratching and redness. The most severe symptoms listed are eczema and lesions. This is the warning label: does it mention the potential for death? Jeffrey Simmons: It does not. Rep. Porter: So a pet owner looking at this label that we're looking at would have absolutely no reason, no way to know that Seresto may have caused roughly 100 pet deaths. That's what both the Canadian Pest Management Agency, the PMRA, and the EPA found. Will you change this label, so that it includes deaths as a possible side effect? Jeffrey Simmons: Congresswoman, we do not believe the scientific data warrants a label change. And again, that is not just the 80 studies were submitted. There's been 20 additional added studies since and all of the oversight data that's been done on the 33 million pets over the 10 years. So again, following an EPA regulated process, we're always open if a data warranted, some need for a change, we would do that. 2:57:30 Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): The EPA encouraged both your predecessor, Bayer, and your company, Elanco, to update the warning label. Yet, you just said that you never have. So the federal government did in fact advise you to update the label and you failed to do so. Is that correct? Jeffrey Simmons: I do not believe that is correct. We are in regular engagement with EPA. We have not received any formal…there's no data that warrants that and there's been no formal engagement on that. 2:58:15 Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): The EPA asked Bayer, the predecessor here, in 2019 to help the agency collect data on adverse incidents for cats and dogs using the Seresto collar. EPA asked Bayer to split the registration for cats and dogs, so the agency could better understand and evaluate the risks for each type of pet. They refused, saying that change might have, “an adverse impact on sales” and they also said, “it would be a substantial increase in work.” Mr. Simmons, are you willing to make that change and split the registration for cats and dogs as the EPA requested? Or do you believe it's too much work? Jeffrey Simmons: I am willing to engage with the EPA on anything that the scientific data and the engagement under the regulatory body of the EPA merits the right thing to do. We believe the 80 studies and all of the pharmacovigilance data that we've submitted to them stands that this is a safe product. 3:00:10 Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA): I feel obligated to begin by stating the obvious this afternoon. Today's hearing is a colossal waste of time and resources. 3:13:25 Rep. Henry Johnson (D-GA): And the only reason that the public knew about the harm caused by this pesticide is because the Center for Biological Diversity publicly petitioned the EPA to cancel registration for Seresto flea collars. If they had not bought this to light, do you think we would even know of the dangers presented by these collars? Nathan Donley: No, we wouldn't. You know, the investigation that came out in USA Today in 2021 really brought this to the public attention. And if there wasn't that amount of pressure from the public, this would just still be completely unknown. EPA, for the last 10 years, has not done anything to alert consumers to the harms associated with this product or any other pesticide products where there are a very high number of incidents. 3:15:10 Karen McCormack: I think some of the people at EPA are programmed to go along with whatever industry says. It makes life easier for you, you can go home earlier and you can also get promoted easier if you go along with what industry says. It's unfortunate a problem there. And I've seen it over the years and it's very hard to do something about it. 3:15:40 Karen McCormack: Canada's analysis was very scientific. It was not only based on incident data and sales data, it was based on the toxicity of the two pesticides in Seresto. And they looked at the consistency and what happened eventually with the pets that were exposed to Seresto. 3:19:20 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): And so because of the tremendous number of pet incidents, the tremendous number of deaths, even when factoring in sales, I sadly have no choice but to recommend that the EPA commence a notice of intent to cancel proceedings and to fully investigate what's going on with the Seresto collar, and I respectfully request Elanco to voluntarily recall these collars at this time, pending this further investigation. 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)
7/30/20221 hour, 21 minutes, 32 seconds
Episode Artwork

CD255: Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs)

The recently signed gun law, S. 2938: Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, contained a surprise dingleberry postponing a regulation designed to save seniors money on their pharmaceutical drugs by prohibiting kickbacks to an industry few have heard of: Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). This little-known but extremely powerful industry deserves much of the blame for ever rising prescription drugs costs in the United States. In this episode, Jen gives you the scoop on PBMs and how they make their money at the expense of Americans who are most dependent on medications. Executive Producer: Robyn Thirkill Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode) Send Zelle payments to: [email protected] Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or [email protected] 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! View the shownotes on our website at We’re Not Wrong Berlin Meetup Contact Justin at [email protected] Background Sources Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD134: The EpiPen Hearing US Healthcare Landscape Jessi Jezewska Stevens. Apr 23, 2020. “A Brief History of the Great American Healthcare Scam.” Bookforum. Tanza Loudenback. Mar 7, 2019. “The average cost of healthcare in 21 different countries.” Insider. Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden. 2019. “Insulin: Examining the Factors Driving the Rising Cost of a Century Old Drug [Staff Report].” U.S. Senate Finance Committee. “Health Insurance Coverage of the Total Population.” Kaiser Family Foundation. Sara R. Collins and David C. Radley. Dec 7, 2018. “The Cost of Employer Insurance Is a Growing Burden for Middle-Income Families.” The Commonwealth Fund. PBMs What are PBMs? JC Scott. Jun 30, 2022. “Drug manufacturers are root cause of high drug costs; PBMs drive costs down.” The Hill. Zach Freed. Jun 22, 2022. “The Pharmacy Benefit Mafia: The Secret Health Care Monopolies Jacking Up Drug Prices and Abusing Patients and Pharmacists.” American Economic Liberties Project. Adam J. Fein. Jun 22, 2021. “The Top Pharmacy Benefit Managers of 2020: Vertical Integration Drives Consolidation (rerun).” Drug Channels. “Flash finding: How drug money from sick people really works.” Nov 11, 2021. 46brooklyn. Adam J. Fein. Feb 3, 2019. “Don’t Blame Drug Prices on ‘Big Pharma.’” The Wall Street Journal. How PBMs Make Money “DIR Fees.” National Association of Chain Drug Stores. “How PBMs Make Money: PBM Practices & Profits.” RxSafe. True North Political Solutions. Oct 25, 2017. “White Paper: DIR Fees Simply Explained.” Pharmacy Times. ACA “Vertical Integration” Loophole Peter High. Jul 8, 2019. “A View From Inside Cigna's $67 Billion Acquisition Of Express Scripts.” Forbes. Angelica LaVito. Nov 28, 2018. “CVS creates new health-care giant as $69 billion merger with Aetna officially closes.” CNBC. David Dayen. Oct 12, 2018. “Why the Aetna and CVS Merger Is So Dangerous.” The American Prospect. Jeff Byers. April 12, 2018. “Optum a step ahead in vertical integration frenzy.” Healthcare Dive. Graph: Optum opens up wider market for UnitedHealth Group Graph: Optum's pharmacy business contributes the majority of its revenue Susan Morse. May 10, 2017. “Secret weapon: UnitedHealth's Optum business is laying waste to old notions about how payers make money.” Healthcare Finance. Lobbying “Client Profile: Pharmaceutical Care Management Assn.” Open Secrets. The Demise of Independent Pharmacies Christine Blank. Oct 17, 2019. “Independents Prepare to Close Up Shop.” Drug Topics. Paulina Firozi. Aug 23, 2018. “The Health 202: Here's why rural independent pharmacies are closing their doors.” The Washington Post. What Is a Formulary? Ana Gascon Ivey. May 19, 2020. “A Guide to Medication Formularies.” GoodRx. Previous Delays in Rebate Regulation Paige Minemyer. Jan 29, 2021. “In a win for PBMs, Biden administration delays rebate rule.” Fierce Healthcare. Paige Minemyer. Jan 12, 2021. “PCMA sues Trump administration over rebate rule.” Fierce Healthcare. “Incorporating the Effects of the Proposed Rule on Safe Harbors for Pharmaceutical Rebates in CBO’s Budget Projections—Supplemental Material for Updated Budget Projections: 2019 to 2029.” May 2019. Congressional Budget Office. The Gun Law Passage Process Office of the Clerk. May 18, 2022. “Roll Call 212 | Bill Number: S. 2938.” U.S. House of Representatives. Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board. May