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tv   Congressional Black Caucus Holds Press Conference on Voting Rights  CSPAN  January 12, 2022 6:33pm-7:17pm EST

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experience and as we follow koh hotters, we'll be able -- cohorts, we'll be able to have that information for you. jeff: thanks, everybody. we look forward to the next briefing. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2022] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> senate majority leader chuck schumer and house speaker nancy pelosi joined to honor harry reid who died in december. watch at 8:00 tonight on c-span, online at or on our new video app, c-span now. >> c-span's "washington journal." every day we're taking your calls live on the air, on the news of the day. and we'll discuss policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, we'll talk about the government response to the covid-19 pandemic. with pennsylvania republican congressman fred keller. then georgia democratic congressman hank johnson on voting rights legislation in congress. and georgia election laws. watch "washington journal" live
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at 7:00 eastern thursday morning on c-span or on c-span now, our new mobile app. join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, text messages and tweets. >> next, the congressional black caucus holding a news conference on voting rights. they called on the senate to change the filibuster rules. this is 40 minutes.
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mrs. beatty: thank you for joining us today. i'm congresswoman joyce beatty and i have the distinct honor, as serving as the chair of the congressional black caucus. we come today united, standing up for something that we have a long history of fighting for, debating and, yes, winning. and that is voting rights. so it is no secret or surprise to you today when we say the fierce urgency of now, voting
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rights. we are calling on the senate to vote. we're calling on the senate to have that debate. because we want to pass the john r. lewis voting rights advancement act. we want to pass the freedom to vote act. we know how much we have fought for. yesterday i was proud to join president biden and vice president harris in a place of profound civil rights and voting rights history. to advocate for the most foundational, sacred thing that i can think of. it makes me emotional. when i think of, as a black woman, i must stand here today before you asking us to do something that the past five presidents have done and four
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white republican presidents. re-authorize the voting rights act. so the real question you should ask yourself is what happened? what happened with this last president that got us to where we are today? that my colleagues will not stand up and pass the voting rights act. is it because we win? is it because we vote? that is you what should ask yourself. let me end by saying that the president made it very clear. where do you stand? do you stand with dr. martin luther king? or george walz? do you stand -- wallace? do you stand with john lewis or bill compton? do you stand with abraham
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lincoln, or jefferson davis? we stand here. civil rights leaders, advocates, legislators, lawyers. we stand here fighting for the people. and so today i'm going to bring several members up and we're going to do something a little different. we're going to do the floor house one minutes for you with the exception of our leader and majority whip, clyburn. [laughter] and then i'm going to ask my members to join me, ladies, congresswoman sheila jackson lee will join me at the podium. former chair of the c.b.c. and good to have our good friend back, will join us to help address questions. with that, congressman james clyburn. mr. clyburn: thank you very much, madam chair.
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i want to surprise you with this. i don't think there is any issue more emotional with members of the congressional black caucus and our constituents than the issue of voting. i don't believe that any group of people other than the congressional black caucus and our constituents that are really practical when it comes to the political process. no group is any more practical than we are. and that is why when we sent the for the people act, h.r. 1, and the john r. lewis voting rights act, h.r. 4, over to the senate, and we saw cigarette sans on the
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part of various senators, senator joe manchin of west virginia expressed support for the for people act, except that he had some misgivings about parts of it. so when he decided that he could put together legislation that he thought would be bipartisan and he proposed what he call the freedom to vote act, every member of this caucus lined up in support of it. demonstrating the practicality of the political process. so the freedom to vote act is
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not -- [indiscernible] -- we agreed to support since joe manchin's bill. that's what this bill is. and we are finding some real issues trying to figure out why is it that when we decide to support his bill, he seems to be supporting a filibuster of his own bill. that to us is very disconcerting. finally, i think that all of us in the congressional black caucus are very understanding of our history. the 13th amendment freed the slaves, the 14th amendment gives us rights of due process.
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and equal access. the 15th amendment, it took another amendment to the constitution, to give the newly freed slaves the right to vote. that amendment passed on a straight party-line vote. so we take exception, great exception, when anybody tells us that legislation cannot have credibility unless it is bipartisan. you're saying to us that the 15th amendment is without credibility. so we're asking all of our friends, inside and outside the congress, to be careful with that. that's not what history teaches us. and i'm pleased to yield to chairman jeffries.
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mr. jeffries: thank you, mr. whip. i thank you, madam chair, for your leadership, to all members of the congressional black caucus. the right to vote is precious. the right to vote is sacred, the right to vote is central to the very integrity of our democracy. you can't have a government of the people, by the people, and for people unless every single american has the unfettered ability to choose their representatives and fully participate in american democracy. the voter suppression epidemic that has been unleashed by the radical right is unacceptable, unreasonable, unfathomable, unconscionable and un-american. we must crush it and we will crush it. that is why it's essential, it's
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important, it's necessary, with the fierce urgency of now, to pass the joe manchin freedom to vote act and the john robert lewis voting rights advancement act. by any means necessary. including reforming a filibuster rule that is dripping in racist history in defense of slavery and jim crow. on this issue, make no mistake, when it comes to the protection of the voting rights of every single american, we shall overcome. >> last week we marked one year since virginia techsists -- insurrectionists stormed the u.s. capitol to overturn the
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election. in the weeks before the attack, some republicans made despicable false claims against voters in my state of nevada. but they failed. their insurrection failed. and in the year since, nevada has made protecting votes rights our sacred mission. mr. horsford: today the congressional black caucus is here to use our power and our message to call on our senate colleagues to protect the freedom to vote. seize this moment. pass the john r. lewis voting rights advancement act. pass the joe manchin freedom to vote act. guarantee safe, secure and free elections for all americans. the world is watching us and now is the time to stand up for our democracy. ms. sewell: hi. i'm congresswoman terri sewell and i proudly represent
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alabama's seventh district which includes the cities of birmingham, selma and montgomerie. it was in my hometown of selma 56 years ago where john lewis and the foot soldiers shead blood on a bridge for the equal right of all americans to vote. but as we know, old battles have become new again. as state legislatures across this country erect deliberate barriers to the ballot box. trying to silence a certain group of people. these new laws may not require us to count how many jelly beans are in a jar, but modern day voter suppression is no less pernicious. yesterday i was honored to join president biden and vice president harris and our leader of the congressional black caucus, joyce beatty, as the president spoke of an urgent need to protect the sacred right to vote. i applaud the president for being unequivocal in his statement. that by any means necessary we
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must change the rules of the senate and pass the john robert lewis voting rights ac. our nation is at an inflexion point. voting rights legislation will go to the senate floor and it must pass. you know, we're on the anniversary, the cusp of the martin luther king celebration day. monday. but there can be no celebration without liberation, without freedom, without the right to vote. as we prepare to observe the birthday of reverend dr. martin luther king, let us remember that justice delayed can be justice denied. the time to act is now. nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the sake receipt ride to vote -- sacred right to vote. the time to talk is over. it's now time to act.
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mr. allred: i'm a former voting rights lawyer. i can tell you we knew when we'd go into court there would be some judges we weren't going to get a good ruling from. we knew that the courts might not be on our side. but we always had the law. we had the voting rights act. we don't have that protection right now. we know that it's not going to be the courts at that are going to protect our rights right now. it's going to have to be us in the congress. the congressional black caucus is coming together today to say to the united states senate that there is nothing more important, after our capitol was attacked, people trying to overthrow our democracy, after a rash of laws passed across this country to try to make it harder for certain americans to vote, in the state of texas where it was
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already the hardest state in the country to vote, they just went and made it harder, that now is the time to act. that believe us, believe us when we tell you, i have spoken to voters who have been disenfranchised. i can see the light go out of their eyes. we need to restore our democracy and this is the time. we cannot let a senate rule, a senate rule that is based and was used almost exclusively to prevent civil rights, prevent us from rising to this moment. i know all of us in the congressional black caucus will do everything we can but we're calling on the united states senate and we're calling on a few senators in particular to rise to this moment, pass your own bill, senator manchin. pass the john lewis voting rights advancement act. give us the tools to rescue our democracy and let us let the chips fall where they may in the last election. thank you.
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mrs. demings: i'm val demings representing florida. we are the home of the brave, land of the free, the greatest nation in the world. but we are here today to hold america to its promise. i stand today remembering my parents, my father was a janitor and my mother, a maid. my dad used to go to work seven dates a week to make ends meet for our family. but i cannot remember a time that my parents did not cast their vote. they saw it as their civic duty. my parents understood that their vote, while they didn't have a lot of money, their name was on no buildings, their name wasn't famous, people didn't rise when they walked into the room, that their vote mattered.
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and it mattered just as much as the richest man or woman in town. we can talk about health care, we can talk about civil rights, we can talk about women's rights, we can talk about social security, medicare, education. but all of it is at risk, all of it, everything that you care about regardless of your party and everything that we care about is at risk if we do not protect the right to vote. we're not going anywhere. we're sure not going back. we will use every tool, every tool within our power to protect the precious, sacred right to vote. mr. neguse: good afternoon. joe neguse from the great state of colorado. as representative sewell reminds
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us, in just a few days, tens of millions of americans will commemorate martin luther king jr.'s birthday. of all of the insightful things that martin luther king imparted us with here in his time on earth, there's one quote that's always resonated with me and i suspect some of my colleagues which is that the time is always right to do what is right. the time to safeguard voting rights, to protect voting rights and to advance voting rights is now. not next year. not next month. not next week. here and now. and in the face of over 400 laws that have been introduced in the last year to restrict voting rights in florida and in texas in iowa and in georgia, all across the country, we know the stakes couldn't be higher. so to our colleagues in the senate, we simply say, that the eyes of the world are on you. the world is watching. the country is watching.
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and the congressional black caucus is watching. we hope you will do the right thing. mr. jones: good afternoon. i'm representing new york's 17th congressional district. our democracy is in crisis. the insurrection at the capitol on january 6 of 2021 told us so. and now the same party that decided that violent attempted overthrow of the federal government because of the deep unpopularity of its policies is seeking to disenfranchise large swaths of the american electorate. chief among them, black and brown voters. there is a way to stop that from happening. we must pass joe manchin's freedom to vote act and the john r. lewis voting rights advancement act. we are faced with an existential
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question about whether we will have representative government for with the we the people moving into this upcoming year. and the answer can he yes. can be yes. but only if we use the limited time available to us. only if we use the power that the american people have given to us to secure the fundamental right to vote. we know that voting rights are preservative of all other rights and nothing comes close to being as important, certainly not a filibuster of accidental origin that has been weaponized to block the same kinds of civil rights legislation that we are simply trying to enact into law today. this is legislation that was previously noncontroversial in the early 2000's. i remember marching with the naacp in washington, d.c. as a young activist. to re-authorize the original
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voting rights act. which was done unanimously in the senate. when does that ever happen? and nearly unanimously in this chamber. and so we have got to do the right thing and we have got to prevail upon, with the help of the president of the united states, who has endorsed filibuster reform, senators manchin and sinema, to rise to this occasion and to make an exception for the purpose of saving our. alex:ing democracy -- our ailing democracy. thank you. ms. blunt rochester: i'm the last one within money. it's really hard. it is -- one-minute. it's really hard. it's unbelievable that we are standing here today, the congressional black caucus is
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here to say the time is now. i was fortunate yesterday to travel with the georgia delegation so, many members of the congressional black caucus, terri sewell, and our chairwoman, joyce beatty, who has exhibited incredible leadership and has shown the country that the c.b.c., all of us, will stand up and fight, even go to jail for voting rights. i was honored to hear our president and our vice president, the first african-american and asian american, speak about the urgency of now, but as unequivocally talk about january -- how he had did -- they did it with january 6, talk about how high the stakes are. and i think everybody here pretty much summed it up. it is about access. people having access to the ballot.
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which martin luther king talked about. give us the ballot. it's about suppression. and trying to stop people from getting water on a voting line when they're just trying to exercise that right. and it's about subversion. stealing elections. we are the conscience of the congress. the congressional black caucus. and many of you have seen, i carried this scarf on day one. i carried it the day of the insurrection. i carried it to atlanta and it's from georgia. it was the oath that allowed my ancestor to have the right to vote. it took brave people to stand up and vote to end slavery. the reality is had there not been courage before, we would
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not be standing here. so today, we say to the members of the senate, to pass the john robert lewis voting rights advancement act, to pass the freedom to vote act. to know that this is not just about a policy, this is about our entire democracy. our way of life. i'm proud to be a member of the congressional black caucus and i'm proud to say this is our power and this is our message to the senate. thank you. mrs. beatty: thank you. thank you to all of my colleagues. we'll take a few questions. but let me just say, thank you to my colleagues. it's always the right time to do what's right. the fierce urgency of now.
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and one last one from martin luther king, doesn't matter where you stand in the time of comfort and convenience. but it is the action that you take during the time of challenges and controversy. it is the time now, senate, to take that action. elected officials, don't hide. don't not support voting rights and then dare to celebrate king's birthday. stand with us. we'll take questions. as i ask sheila jackson lee and mr. mfume to join me at the podium. are there any questions? reporter: [indiscernible] -- put
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additional pressure on them and then secondly, president biden will be here tomorrow, do you think that can change hearts and minds beyond his speech earlier this week? and if the bill fails again, what is plan b? mrs. beatty: first of all, let me say yes, yes and yes. let me say yes, yes, and yes. you heard our majority whip say he has met with man chin and talked with those senators. i have -- manchin and talked with those senators. i have talked with, met with, senator sinema, she came in to congress with me, she's a colleague and a friend. i've had conversations with senator manchin, too many to count with senator schumer. the condition conn gretional black caucus brought senator schumer into our official caucus meeting where we had a dialogue.
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he was most gracious yesterday in taking time from his meetings to talk to with me multiple times. we are conversing. they know where we stand. and we've seen progress. we brought him into the caucus and started talking about it had to happen now before the king's breakfast we wanted to see action. within 48 hour he was talking to the media use big january 17 for king's birthday. i take great pleasure in seeing that happened because of us. we have not been silent. so to your question, we have met with the president, the vice president, as congresswoman lisa blunt rochester said, we flew out on the plane with them and i assure you going and coming back one conversation. voting rights. being more engaged and taking -- making the debate and taking the
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vote. reporter: thank you. do you -- you mentioned your conversations with senator schumer. do you wish the senate moved sooner on this? they spent a lot of time on the build back better ageneral dark is this something that should have been taken up last fall, when the john lewis voting rights bill was first introduced? mrs. beatty: clearly, we want voting rights. we can't look back to what didn't happen before. certainly when you work hard, the house has done its job, we voted on it, passed it in the house, we would have liked that continuum to have taken place, it didn't so here we are now. wanting the voting rights. do you want to add anything to that? ms. jackson lee: i know my colleague will as well, let me combine the two questions that have been asked. i think you need to take a clear look at us. we love our fellow members but you're looking at black faces.
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you're looking at faces that are the direct target of the lack of voting protection. i stand here, i believe, as the first member who lost her district in redistricting that was pointedly attempting to eliminate two black members who happen to be members of the congressional black caucus. i am not imagining, i am speaking. so here's what i think in terms of both your questions. there is no doubt that we have lived and breathed and constantly been involved in discussing from the very minute that teri sewell introduced this bill and before. i was here for the re-authorization back in the 2000's. helped write it. and it was everybody together. you have to ask the question, why when the size of the members' votes was so large and
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full of color that you had the big lie and the insurrection. so i don't want this to be looking this way at the congressional black caucus or do we wish we had -- they had done it earlier. there are two obstacles. members in the senate who are willing publicly to say they're opposed that happen to be democrats. and then the new dixiecrats, the republicans, who have race as a blinder that they can't see. so i simply want you to say and i think the answer is we are here now today, let us have the courage of our convictions today. i sent a letter to senator manchin and gave him five days to respond, so i will make it public now. if only he had the courage of west virginia that seceded from
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virginia because they daunt want to support slavery. we have done everything we could, we are grateful to the president and vice president, grateful to senator schumer and grateful to our chair. but i want to look out. the question needs to be asked, of those stopping the vote in the senate, can you understand dr. king's words that i will close with. and he said, we shall overcome. the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. if we get that done if he thinks that way, if he's courageous, all of this will be for nowght to get rid of the filibuster. mrs. beatty: we'll go there, there and there and then probably have to close out for votes. reporter: there was talk of potentially using a different bill as a shell to send it back to the senate. but it still seems like you're running into the filibuster in the senate.
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do you have any reaction to the new legislative maneuvering. mrs. beatty: i don't know that it's new. certainly if you look back through history, we do all kinds of things. we do what we want to do. there's always been an opportunity in our process that you can bring a process to procedure vote to the floor. you can also have a deal in the house and put a bill in it and send it back then. to the senate. which you're making reference to the nafta bill. we've done that throughout our history. for us we're very clear. we want to vote and send it to the president. now. so however it can happen, i think mr. clyburn set the history out well, we're not going to hole ourselves to whether it's bipartisan or the process, i don't want to be flippant, i want a bill, i want it passed. this is the senate's process for however they get it done. we want it signed by the
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president. next. reporter: what do you say to your constituents and voting rights advocates who are growing concerned if either bill isn't passed as we aproch the mid-term election? mrs. beatty: i feel sorry for those on the other side who didn't support this. you know. we're very clear. our constituents understand where we are. our constituents understand at all level, they understand victory, they saw a black president elected because they voted and they stood in line for five to seven hours to vote. you have heard the president himself say, thank you, majority whip clyburn, thank you, south carolina. thank you, black people. for voting overwhelmingly to elect him. that then got us our first female black asian american vice
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president. people know that. our people understand that. who should be afraid are those who won't stand up for voting rights. so this is a clarion call. you can print this. shame on you for not doing it. black folks will vote no matter what. so it's not what's going to happen to us, it's what's going to happen to them. >> if the filibuster is removed and they end up able to pass, would you be concerned without a filibuster a future republican congress could come in and implement voting laws like the ones in georgia referenced earlier in the press conference but this time on a national level and there'd be no fill buster to stop it. mrs. beatty: if you're expecting me to count on what my racist colleagues and folks on the other side have been doing it
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doesn't matter whether there's a filibuster or not. they're going to do what they're going to do. look at january 6 and what happened. look at the laws they're putting in place. for us it's the urgency of now. for us it's getting the voting rights law passed, signed by the president. i'll worry about two years when i get to two years. do you want to say something to close us out? qweisi mfume of maryland. i want to thank our chair and all the members of the distinguished caucus that are with me and around me to just underscore and perhaps put in historical context why this means so much all of us. 34 years ago, in this building, a young john lewis stood with me
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as we went to a press conference, not knowing what we were going to deal with, and one of the questions that came up was, well, what is the priority of the congressional black caucus? and john and i, because we had a way of linking arm, stood at the podium and almost in unison said, it is the right to vote and to have every vote counted and the protection of those rights. he never wavered. never, ever wavered. so when there was an opportunity for me to leave the congress and to give up what a lot of people think are the trappings of power, john and his late wife lillian and i sat down together and said you know, you really are going to have to accept this offer from the naacp. you're going to have to leave the congress and you're going to have to go out into the
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hinterland and do on the outside what both of us and so many others have been trying to do on the inside. soy left to head up the naacp for almost 10 years and to work in every state in this nation on the notion of a very basic concept that he held up to his death that was near and dear to his life, the right of people to cast and unfettered ballot, with every expectation that that would be counted. so it's irony for me to come back after being away for 24 years and to see john in the state he was in when i got back. and he called and he said, well, my friend, you've come back in from the cold. but the fight, that fight that we talked about in 1987, is still very much alive. so when the chairwoman talks
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about the visceral meaning of this, for all of us, or the gentlewoman from delaware or anyone else, it is not con drived. it is what we believe. it is what we feel. it is in our d.n.a. it is what we are compassionately committed to no matter what. trust me, john lewis is in this room now. his spirit, 34 years later, still resonates in this building. and the tragedy, the tragedy is that we are now fighting the same fight that manufacture ous thought was behind us. -- that many of us thought was behind us. the senate of the united states will be forced, i hate to say that, but they're being forced to take a vote on this. it's convenient if the vote never comes up but it will come up. and everyone will be judged by history on how they stood, on how they acted, on how they voted when the rights of
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americans all across this country to vote and to have those votes counted would in fact come before them. i urge everyone in the senate to think about the things that have preceded you and all of us. to think about this nation. to think about the history of segregation and jim crow. the history of exclusion so that when you cast that vote in the senate, you are casting it to do away with those things, not to reaffirm them. thank you, madam chair. mrs. beatty: thank you. our power, our message. this ends our press conference. thank you. thank you all for coming. to all the member, thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2022] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy visit]
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