tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN November 28, 2018 9:30am-11:02am EST
farr for u.s. district judge for the eastern district of north carolina. he is an attorney who represented north carolina republicans in congressional redistricting and voter i.d. cases. also possible in the senate today, a request by senators flakes and coons to bring up a bill to protect robert mueller from political interference. now live to the floor of the u.s. senate, here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. gracious god, we praise you today for your love that sustains our earthly journey. when evil flourishes,
we keep our eyes on you, trusting always in the unfolding of your powerful providence. today, inspire our lawmakers to discover the fulfillment of resting in the assurance of your amazing grace. as our senators remember how you have provided for this nation in the past, may they develop a stronger faith in the protection you will give us in the future. guide them into the future surrounded by the shield of your favor. lord, keep them close to you and to each other as they fulfill their sacred calling as
legislators. we pray in your sacred name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., november 28, 2018. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable rand paul, a senator from the commonwealth of kentucky, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: for the information of all senators, key members of the administration will be coming to the senate at 11:00 this morning. for an all-members briefing with respect to yemen and saudi arabia. senators on both sides of the aisle have legitimate concerns about the war in yemen, the terrible humanitarian plight of yemeni citizens caught in the cross fire, and the multiple u.s. interests wrapped up in this conflict. the u.s.-saudi relationship is a long-standing and critical one but senators on both sides of the aisle also have legitimate concerns about the recent conduct of the saudi government. all of us want to see our critical foreign partners behave responsibly. i've been encouraged to hear both secretary mattis and secretary pompeo call for an end to the war in yemen and for accountability following the murder of jamal khashoggi.
so i look forward to hearing from both secretaries today and learning more about the administration's strategy to achieve these and other important objectives. now, mr. president, on another matter, there's a lot of work to do. it's been our message returning from the thanksgiving holiday. the senate is staying focused on wrapping up this year's remaining priorities, getting more of the president's team in place, confirming well qualified nominees to our federal court, and attending to the pressing legislative business the american people need and expect us to handle. yesterday the nomination of stephen vaden to serve as general counsel at the department of ail cug tur -- agriculture was confirmed with bipartisan support and the motion to advance the nomination of karen kelley for deputy secretary of commerce cleared by an even wider margin. but these important steps have an -- haven't always come easily. like i mentioned yesterday, between the day the vaden nomination was favorably
reported by our colleagues on the agriculture committee and yesterday's confirmation vote, 351 days elapsed. 351 days on the executive calendar. these stories are similar for so many of the president's well qualified nominees. needless delays, a record breaking number of cloture votes and many go on to clear the chamber with bipartisan support. in some cases that support is nearly unanimous. but my democratic colleagues made this body drag its feet regardless. so we'll press on and continue this week to make progress and put to rest the various outstanding items that have to be completed before the end of the 115th congress. today the senate will vote to confirm karen kelley to serve as deputy secretary of commerce. by any metric, miss kelley has the experience and economic acumen to continue a record of
outstanding service in that role. a record she's already begun by serving capably in an acting capacity since last year. i hope each of my colleagues will join me in voting to confirm her. then, the senate will turn to consideration of the judicial nominee tap moss farr for be the eastern district for the eastern district of north carolina. he's a graduate of hillsdale college, emory law school and georgetown university. he has developed expert tease in labor relations and constitutional law. the american bar association's standing committee on the federal judiciary, a body that's not frequently been held up by my democratic -- a body that's frequently been head up by our democratic colleagues as the gold standard has awarded mr. farr's its highest possible rating unanimously, well qualified. our friend senator burr has testified that his fellow north carolinian as the requisite expertise, character and judgment required for the
the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, i ask consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: and consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: yes. under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of commerce, karen dunn kelley of pennsylvania to be deputy secretary. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 11:00 a.m. will be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, if i came to the senate floor each day and told the story of another victim of gun violence in the city of chicago, it would be a full time job.
the lines are improving ever so slightly but the deaths on gun violence in that great city continue to break our hearts. hardly a day, a week, or a month goes by that we don't hear another story of some child, innocent bystander, infant, elderly person victimized by gun violence. but last week there was an extraordinary event which captured the hearts of the people of chicago and illinois. this monday afternoon, hundreds of police officers from chicago and northern illinois and some from as far away as boston and new york stood at solemn attention lining the roadways around the shrine of our lady of guadalupe in the chicago suburb. the night before a powerful blizzard had dumped 7 inches of snow on the chicago area and it was very cold. but it was not cold air that caused many of the officers gathered outside the chapel to
feel numb. it was grief. they had come to pay their respects to a fallen brother and hero. chicago police officer samuel jimenez was shot and killed a week earlier when he tried to stop a shooting at mercy hospital and medical center on the city's south side. i'm going to put this array of photos up because i want to address each and every one of the individuals on there. this is sergeant jimenez. 28 years old. married to his high school sweetheart. the loving father of three little kids. two little girls and a boy. killed in the same shooting were these two women, dra tamara o neil, an emergency room physician, dana less, a first--year pharmacy resident. both women worked at mercy hospital. the man who shot all three of them also died from a
self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. let me speak of this hero and these healers for a moment. officer samuel jimenez was 28 years old, married to his high school sweetheart crystal, and together three children, two little boy -- two little girls and a boy. friends say that his eyes lit up whenever anyone asked him about his kids. officer hymn neses had been a -- officer jimenez had been a member of the chicago police department for less than two years and already earned two honorable mentions for exceptional performance. he and his partner around 3:30 monday afternoon, a week ago, november 19, a call came over the police radio about an active shooter at mercy hospital. the gunman had shot dr. o'neill in a parking lot and then the gunman ran into the hospital. officer jimenez followed. he was shot and killed in the hospital lobby.
the gunman shot miss less as she stepped off the elevator. he then shot and killed himself after first being shot by a chicago policeman. at the funeral, officer jimenez was remembered as a loving husband, father, and friend, and dedicated to protect others. he grew up in northwest chicago, the youngest of nine children. before joining the police department, he'd worked at dunkin donuts, bussed tables at maretta's restaurant and pizzeria and even delivered mail in the suburbs. his instructors and classmates at the police training catd my -- academy remembered him as a stellar recruit, always eager to lend a hand, always there with a warm hello. he depleted his 13-month probationary period with the department just last august. officer jimenez and his partner didn't really have to respond at mercy hospital. you see that hospital was outside the district that they were assigned to. but they went anyway.
not even hesitating for a second. because they knew people were in danger. dr. tamara o'neill in the center here was an emergency room doctor. it's one of the worst, hardest, most stressful jobs in a hospital. dr. o'neill picked that profession because she thought it was where she could do the most good for people who needed help. 38 years old, joined the staff of mercy hospital less than three months ago after a three-year residency at the university of illinois at chicago, the same school where she earned her medical degree. her colleagues remember her for her outgoing personality and her willingness to go out of her way to help others. they say she used to stay long after her shift ended to make sure her patients were taken care of. she was also a woman of great faith. the choir director at her church in indiana and she drove there every sunday, 60 miles each way, to lead the congregation in
song. her brother was the pastor of the church. dr. o'neill helped raise money every year to buy school supplies for children in the church whose families were strapped for money. she loved taking her nieces and nephews into the city of chicago to show them new attractions, new restaurants. dana less, 24 years old, had the shooting happened one day later, she'd still be alive. she was leaving that next day to spend thanksgiving in indiana with her family. she graduated from pharmacy school at perdue last may after six years of study. she was engaged to be married in june to a young man she'd met at church camp when they were both just 9 years old. dana less loved the chicago cubs, working at mercy hospital, and traveling. before coming to mercy, she spent eight weeks on a pharmacy rotation in kenya. she wrote about her experiences
there in a blog. this is part of what she wrote. watching patients die from things that would 100% be treatable in the united states is extremely disheartening. and she added, it's been very important for me to focus on the positive things we're doing here because it can be difficult to see how we are making a difference, but it's worth it when you fight for something and it actually happens, even if it's as small as making sure a patient gets their medication. we are doing something that matters. officer jimenez, dr. o'neill, miss less were all doing work that mattered. and mattered greatly. all three were dedicated to helping others. officer jimenez as a protector, dr. o'neill and miss less as healers. their deaths have left their friends and families, the chicago police department, and all of the city of chicago
stunned and grieving. there is never, never a good time to lose a family member to violence but to lose them in the holiday season seems especially cruel. our hearts go out to officer jimenez's family and to the o'neill and less families. officer jimenez was the second chicago police officer killed in the line of duty this year. last february the day before valentine's day, district commander paul barrow was fatally shot in downtown chicago but gun violence against police officers is not just a problem in the city of chicago. it's a problem across america. it's getting worse. we all remember the horrific am bush of dallas police officers in july 2016. five officers killed, nine others injured by a sniper. since then 132 police officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty in cities and towns across our country. these are intentional shootings. at the are not accidents -- they
are not accidents. we've seen intentional killings at churches, synagogues, and as we learn so painfully in the city of chicago, hospitals and schools. we are seeing an increase in shootings in these locations. in 2016, u.s. hospitals spent $1.1 billion to try to make their hospital grounds safer. think about that. more than $1 billion, not to cure an illness, not to alleviate suffering, but to protect the patients and professionals at hospitals across america from this horrific gun violence that shook the city of chicago last week. imagine if that billion dollars would have been spent on healing and keeping people healthy. chicago cardinal supuch was the main celebrant at officer jimenez's funeral. i want to tell you what he said.
he said of those in law enforcement, every day they get up, leave their homes and family to watch out for us. i think that maybe the best way, he said, that we can console each other and also express our gratitude for the sacrifice that has been given in the death of officer jimenez is citizens. remember that law enforcement wants us all to live together to watch out for each other, care for each other, and then maybe we will make their jobs easier. and maybe, he said, there will not be another death of an officer because of all of us taking responsibility for watching out for one another. mr. president, it's not unusual for the people of chicago to rightfully say to me, their united states senator, what are you going to do about this. what are you going to do to reduce gun violence in the united states? does the second amendment to the constitution create this burden on us today where we have to
accept wanton gun violence as part of someone's constitutional right? of course not. those who misuse guns, those who do not store them or use them properly and legally should be held accountable. why then can't we pass basic legislation in this congress? why can't we pass a bill to keep guns out of the hands of people who are unqualified to own them or people who are unstable and should never be given a gun? why can't we make certain that weapons that are military weapons, that have little or no application when it comes to sport or hunting are not sold to everyone right and left in the united states? i heard repeatedly there were 11 million ar-15's, a military-style weapon that are circulating in the united states of america. does anyone in their wildest imagination think that's what the founding fathers had in mind when they talked about the right
to bear arms, that people would have these deadly military weapons and they would be used so often? but i will be very candid with you. having served in the house and served in the senate for a number of years, the prospects of passing meaningful gun safety legislation are minimal. there are two things that can make a difference. for one, if the police and law enforcement officers across the united states stood as one and demanded it of congress that there be gun safety measures to make their lives safer, it would happen. law enforcement could be the inspiration and the political motive -- motivation for congress to act. and secondly, i know thousands of law-abiding gun owners in the state of illinois. i grew up in a family, my family and others, where owning a firearm was considered just part of life. it was what people did so they could go hunting in a proper
way, in a legal way. if those legitimate gun owners, sportsmen, hunters, and those who keep them for self-defense would step up and say we need to draw clear lines for those who abuse firearms and those who are using them to kill innocent people, that, too, can make a difference. think of that. if law enforcement community and gun owners who accept responsibility for their firearm came together and demanded that congress pass measures to keep guns out of the hands of those who would kill our policemen, threaten our law enforcement officers, and hurt innocent people like the doctor and this pharmacy assistant, it would make a significant difference. until that happens, we'll come and make speeches on the floor of the senate. we'll issue press releases, we'll attend funerals, we'll offer our thoughts and our prayers, but i think it's time for more. i think it's time for this nation to step up and do something significant, not just
mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: are colloquy in quorum? the presiding officer: question. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the quorumming dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: now, mr. president, this weekend president trump will head to argentina for the g-20 summit
where he is expected to meet with president xi of china to discuss our trade relationship. i have opposed the president on most things -- that's hardly a secret -- but we actually agree on the issue of china. in fact, i agree more with president trump's views on china than i did with either president bush or obama. and i've been supportive of the administration's aggressive course of action on china. china must be made to understand we are dead serious about changing its behavior on trade. to allow foreign companies to compete in its markets, to end illegal dumping of cheap goods into our markets, and most importantly to end the abusive practice of technology transfers and trade espionage that threatens our intellectual property and know-how. for these things don't just threaten our intellectual property in abstract concept. they threaten good-paying jobs, millions of them, and wealth --
billions and trillions of dollars. that china has stolen literally and figuratively through its unfair practices. when we have a good product, you can't sell it in china unless you transfer the technology. but they sell tons of things here. my father-in-law, my late father-in-law, a new york city cabdriver, sometimes said, we're not uncle sam. we're uncle sam. in the case of china, that's been the case too long. and president trump to his credit is beginning to reverse that. and yet, despite an initial wave of tariffs, china has not offered meaningful concessions on any of the items i've mentioned. ambassador lighthizer recently put out a report concluding that china is still rapaciously stealing american intellectual property. in fact, the number of chinese state-sponsored cyberattacks has been rising.
so we need to stay the course until china feels the heat. that's why i was deeply disturbed, very disturbed, to read this morning in "the new york times" that president trump and his advisors -- at least some of them -- are already considering backing down on further action against china in order to reach an agreement at the g-20. let me be clear to the president. backing off on china for some quick handshake agreement without substantive, real, deep, substantive commitments, will be seen as a victory by no one. it will be seen as capitulation. it will be seen as weak, to cave on tariffs this early before china starts to feel the real pressure and come to a real, and deep, and long-lasting agreement that's worth having. so, mr. president, don't back down on china.
american jobs, american wealth is at stake. you've headed out on a correct course, but you've got to follow through. all too often this administration starts out doing something and then backs off. it cannot happen. i am worried -- worried -- deeply worried, because i love america and i want us to be number one economically as well as in every other way. i fear that trump's eagerness to make a deal, any deal, just like he did with north korea and singapore, will be devastating to the long-term interests of the united states. now that we're finally putting the screws to china, we cannot relate for the sake of a photo op at the g20. yes, our actions will cause some pain. but in the long-term there's much more gain than pain. if we ever needed to do something, it's now.
i don't agree with niece -- you know, with treat -- i don't know with these -- you know, with treating china the same as europe. but china is a different shall different breed of economic cat. and they are robbing us, stealing you doing everything they can to become number one economically at our expense, not in a fair, competitive way. but in a way that's one-sided. so, today i'll be sending a letter to president trump with some colleagues laying out this position, saying to the president, please don't back off on china. american jobs, american wealth depends on it. on yemen -- later this morning the senate will receive a classified, all-senators briefing from secretaries pompeo and mattis on the conflict in yemen. saudi arabia's role in that conflict and the recent murder
of u.s. resident, "washington post" contributor jamal khashoggi. this is an important and timely briefing, but there's a gaping hole. i am concerned and disappointed that president trump has reportedly forbidden c.i.a. director haspel from attending today's preceding. without her presence at the briefing, there will be no one from our intelligence community. director haspel has heard the turkish audio tape of the murder and her agency has reportedly made conclusions about the role of various saudi leaders. members of this body have a right to hear from director haspel. no offense to secretary mattis and secretary pompeo, but it was the c.i.a. that had jurisdiction to find out what exactly happened. and of course to press reports, they did. and now congress is not going to get the briefing.
what is the white house trying to hide? well, we all know that president trump seems to favor the crown prince to an extent that he'll look the other way at the greatest of transgressions. but it's even a further step down the road of darkness, lack of sunlight, to prevent the c.i.a. from giving us their conclusions. members of this body have a right to hear from director haspel. and her absence today speaks volumes -- volumes -- about the white house's intention for congressional oversight on saudi arabia. president trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid criticizing the crown prince and the saudis or the khashoggi murder, growing grow sesqui moral equivalency and controverting well-known facts to avoid placing blame. it so similar to what he had
been doing with putin and russia, looking the other way. it's been a shameful abdication of moral leadership from the president. it must give comfort to awed owe crates -- to autocrats everywhere. go ahead, behave dose spikably and the united states will look the other wade and may even pat you on the back. you know, we have strength for a lot of reasons, mr. president. we have a strong military. we have a great economy. we have a wonderful people. but one of the reasons we have strength is we have been the shining city on the hill. we have been the country that has guided doing the right thing in morality and tried to spread that around the world. donald trump is taking a giant step backward. and that's not just an abstract concept. it hurts us economically, militarily, security-wise when we don't maintain being that
shining city on the hill. so leader mcconnell has rightly called the saudi murder operation abhorrent. i hope he agrees with me that director haspel should be made available to congress on this issue. i would ask him to join with me in asking her to come in the same kind of closed scif intelligence-collecting briefing. we hope to have an agreement on the yemen resolution. i want to applaud the sponsors for their commitment to this issue. i will support their resolution once again. the conflict in yemen exacerbated by audi's -- by saudi saudi arabia's intervention musting brought to an end. the yes, ma'am eny people have endured -- the yemen economy
people have endured. the united states should lead the diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict. finally, mr. president, late this afternoon the senate have likely vote on whether to consider the nomination of thomas farr for the eastern district of north carolina. i have spoken repeatedly, last week, this week, on the floor about what an absolute disgrace it is to have his nomination before us. what a further disgrace it would be if our republican colleagues march in lockstep, approving this all of nomination. mr. farr has been chief cook and bottle washer with north carolina's invidious and despicable efforts to prevent people, particularly minorities, from voting. generations of americans have agitated, protested, marched, even died trying to expand the right to vote, regardless of race or gender. our soldiers, when they're fighting overseas, some of them making the ultimate sacrifice,
are defending democracy and the right to vote, among other things. for the senate in 2018 to elevate a man to the federal bench who has worked to limit the franchise and game the electoral system would be a black mark on this body. a black mark on this body. and adding insult to injury, this is a judicial district that is 27% african american. two african americans, both women, were nominated in the past. the republican senators from north carolina blocked them with a blue slings a practice -- with a blue slings a practice that the -- with a blue slip, a practice that the leader has abolished. to now elevate this man to the bench is an insult to african americans and all americans -- all americans. it is amazing to me, utterly amazing -- and you see a lot of
things around here that you don't believe these days -- that the republican majority is moving forward with this nomination. i hope my colleagues on the republican side take time to study thinks career. i believe they'll find he's unworthy of the federal bench and i hope at least a brave few will join with democrats this afternoon to reject in awful, awful nomination. i yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. blunt: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, we are. mr. blunt: i move that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president, i have two topics. i want it talk in a moment or two about the national adoption month, but before i do that i want to talk for just a minute about the continued outrageous behavior of russia and ukraine
-- russia in ukraine. the most recent incident where russia in all has manufactured another crisis so they could take advantage of whatever they think the moment is to take advantage of -- clearly this has been allowed to go on too long. while ukraine is not a member of nato, i think the naipt toe countries, including ours, have great interest in what's happening in ukraine and the continued aggressive behavior of putin. we had a joint session, the only joint session the president of ukraine has spoken at. a few years ago he made the point that while they appreciated the humanitarian help, i thought the most telling moment in that speech was when the president of ukraine said we appreciate the humanitarian help. we appreciate the blankets, but he said you can't fight the russians with blankets. that was a time where under the
obama administration we were not giving ukraine the defensive or offensive capacity they needed. president trump has made a different decision which i support in helping the ukrainian s defend themselves, but i also support whatever we can do at this moment to let it be known to putin that we are supportive of ukraine's efforts to have an independent, democrat ic government. we will continue to be supportive of that. we will continue to be helpful in that effort. and president putin had better be careful that he doesn't take one step to for. he's already taken steps further than should have been allowed, but those steps the seizure of crimea, the invasion of eastern ukraine by people that were
clearly russian soldiers in plain green uniforms should not have been allowed. the president has to deal with that but we need to deal with that in a way that gives ukraine every help they need in dealing with that themselves. whether the president should make that point by not meeting with putin or whether he should make that point by meeting with putin and clearly express our -- not only our concern but our absolute rejection of the efforts that the russian government has made toward ukraine in that aggressive way, i don't know, but i do know that it's time for us to be very clear of how we feel about that and our commitment to the nato countries involved along the russian border that we absolutely would respond if
there is any aggression toward those nato countries and, frankly, should be aggressive in our efforts to help ukraine defend itself. so with that, mr. president, i want to move now to the reason i'd scheduled this time today was to simply take a few moments to talk about november as national adoption month, as november draws to a close, but also to point out that every month should be adoption month. i'm pleased to work with my colleague and the cochair of the congressional coalition on adoption, senator klobuchar. we were able -- we look forward to passing this resolution supporting national adoption month. this is the fourth year we've worked together on this resolution, and i thank all of my colleagues for the unanimous support of this resolution as it passed earlier this week.
the congressional coalition on adoption is the largest bipartisan, bicameral coalition in the congress. we have our friends leading on the house side as well as the opportunity for many of us to join together on the senate side. the idea that every child deserves to grow up in a safe, stable home with a loving family is something that i think everyone can agree on and in fact we year after year have that agreement here in the senate and in the house. unfortunately right now, more than 400,000 children in the u.s. foster care system and more than 100,000 children waiting in that system to be adopted don't have the benefit of a permanent family they can call their own. there are many more children all over the world who need families
in settings that no one believes are ideal settings for those children to be on. but for those who reach out, for those who reach out in charitable institutions to have a place for children to go where their mother or family can no longer keep them, we are grateful for that. but for those families that create a home in the foster system in my state and around the country, we're grateful as well. there are over 13,000 children in foster care in missouri. i'd like to share just a couple of those stories of people in foster care who'd like to have a family that became their permanent family, their family that they would always be able to know that they were going to be secure in and be part of. brooklyn is a creative girl in the fourth grade who loves arts and crafts. she is an active girl.
she likes to play outdoors. she makes friends easily. she's inquisitive by nature. she loves to ask questions and discover how things work. brooklyn needs a home. lavelle is a sixth grader who is an adventure seeker and animal lover, a lego enthusiast. he has a knack for math and science and wants to work in a children's hospital when he grows up. lavelle also would like that home -- a home that's his permanent home. kerya loves music and singing to her -- singing her favorite songs. when she isn't sings, kerya loves reading a good book or playing outdoors. she wants to be a surgeon or a lawyer and a fulltime foster parent when she grows up.
she knows how important that foster family has been for her. she'd like to have a family that she knows she would always be able to relate to in a more permanent way. her brother devon is also a sixth grader and enjoys learning and playing sports. he especially loves puzzles and figuring out how to put things together. he'd like to figure out how to put a family together and be part of that along with his sister. he likes singing and playing and reading. the two siblings have a lot of fun together. they'd like to have a forever family. there are a lot more stories that could be shared, and that's why it's so important on national adoption month to think about how important it is year in and year out that we're looking for ways to make it easier for families to come in a permanent -- to come together in a permanent way.
nearly a quarter of the people living in our country have considered adoption. many of those have misperceptions and concerns about adoption that aren't real. a lot of people believe that foster care adoption is expensive. if you adopt out of the foster care system. when in reality there's almost no cost to adopting from foster care. financial support is available. in many cases adoptive parents can get that support to make their adoption of a new family more final. ensuring that adoption remains a viable option for families is central to our efforts in the adoption caucus. this week senator klobuchar and i will be introducing the supportive adoptive families act to provide adoptive families additional tools and supportive services to help them achieve a successful adoption and prevent
adoptive children from reentering the foster care system. since national adoption day started in 2000, more than 70,000 children have been adopted into permanent homes. now, i'm an adoptive parent myself. i look forward to seeing more people have the experience of what happens when you change somebody's life and they change your life. i hope more families will take this time not only in adoption month but also at the holidays to consider adoption. i can say that without exception, one of the most rewarding things you could possibly do is create that environment. my wife and i have benefited from it. our son has benefited from it as have his brothers and sisters and others in our family. so, mr. president, it's an important time to think about ways to reach out and make a
permanent difference in people's lives. it's, frankly, hard to imagine a greater way to make a more permanent difference than considering adoption and senator klobuchar and i and others in the adoption caucus would certainly encourage that that is something that people are thinking about as kids need al safe and permanent family. and with that, mr. chairman, i would yield back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. a senator: i would ask unanimous consent to speak up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. sanders: thank you. mr. president, later this afternoon, i believe we will be voting on one of the more important foreign policy issues that we have voted on in a very long time. this, of course, deals with the u.s. involvement in the war in yemen.
mr. president, in march of 2015, under the leadership of mohammad bin solomon who was the saudi defense minute and is the crown prince, sawed rib and the united arab arab arab emirates interfered in the war. yemen is now experiencing the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. and it is absolutely imperative that we call attention to the inhumane and horrific situation that is now impacting the people of yemen, a small nation of 28 million people, one of the poorest countries on earth.
according to the united nations, yemen is at risk of the most severe famine in more than 100 years, with some 14 million people, about half of that country's population facing starvation. already, already as a result of this terrible war, according to the save the children organization, some 85,000 children in yemen have starved to death over the last several years. let me repeat that. according to the save the children organization, some 85,000 children in yemen have already starved to death over the last several years. and millions more face
starvation if the war continues. that's what we're looking at today. in addition, yemen is currently experiencing the worst cholera outbreak in the world with as many as 10,000 new cases erupt ing every week, according to the world health organization. as you know, cholera is a disease spread by infected water that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration and will only accelerate the death rate as it weakens the ability of people to resist disease. the cholera outbreak in yemen has occurred because saudi bombs have destroyed yemen's water infrastructure, and people there
are no longer able to access clean water. the fact is that the united states with relatively little media attention has been saudi arabia's partner in this horrific war. we have been providing the bombs that the saudi-led coalition is using. we have been refueling their planes before they drop those bombs, and we have been assisting with intelligence. in too many cases, our weapons are being used to kill -- to kill civilians. in august, as many will remember, it was an american-made bomb that obliterated a school bus full of
young boys, killing dozens and wounding many more. a cnn report found evidence that american weapons have been used in a stream of such deadly attacks on civilians since the war began. according to the independent monitoring group, yemen data project, between march of 2015 and march of 2018, more than 30% of the saudi-led coalition's targets have been nonmilitary. a few weeks ago, i met with several very brave human rights activists from yemen urging congress to put a stop to this war, and they told me clearly that when yemenis seek -- see made in u.s.a. on the bombs that are killing them, it is telling
them that it is the united states of america that is actively involved in this war, and that is the sad truth, and that is a truth that we have got to finally deal with, and i hope deal with effectively later this afternoon. and the message that the united states senate should be sending to the saudi government and to the whole world is that we will not continue to support a catastrophic war led by a despotic regime that has a dangerous, destructive, and irresponsible military policy. no more. enough death. enough killing. enough destruction. but above and beyond the humanitarian crisis, the worst
in the world right now, destroying a small poor country. that war has been a disaster for our national security, our national security, and the national security of our allies. the administration defends our answer gaugement in yemen by over-- defends our engagement in yemen by overstating iran's support for the rebels. while iran's support of the houthis is of serious concern for all of us, and i do not minimize that, the fact is that the relationship has only been strengthened with the intensification of the war. the war is creating the very problem this administration claims to want to solve. the war in yemen is also undermining the broader effort against violent extremists. a 2016 state department report found that the conflict had
helped al qaeda and the islamic states' yemen branch, quote, deepen their inroads across much of the country, end quote. as the head of the international rescue committee, david millebrand, said in a recent interview, quote, the winners are the extremists groups like al qaeda and isis, end quote. just this last week, "the wall street journal" reported, and i quote, nearly two years after being driven from its stronghold in yemen, one of al qaeda's most dangerous franchises has entrenched itself in the country's hinterlands as a devastating war creates the conditions, the conditions for its comeback, end of quote. so this war is without dispute a horrific humanitarian crisis,
but it is also a strategic disaster benefiting terrorist groups like al qaeda and isis. further, importantly, let us not forget that saudi arabia is an undemocratic monarchy controlled by one family. sometimes we kind of pass that over. controlled by one family, the saudi family. in a 2017 report by the conservative cato institute, substance abuse, our ally in this terrible war in yemen, was ranked 149th out of 159 countries in terms of freedom and human rights. that is our ally. that is the country we are putting our credibility on the line with. for decades, as i think most
members of the senate know, the saudis have funded schools, mosques, and preaches to promote an extreme form of islam known as mohabism. in saudi arabia today, saudi arabia today, women are not second-class citizens. they are third-class citizens. women still need the permission of a male guardian to go to school or to get a job. they have to follow a strict dress code and can be stoned to death for adultery or flogged for spending time in the company of a man who is not their relative. earlier this year, saudi activist hujane al-hajue, a leader in the fight for women's rights in saudi arabia, was kidnapped from abu dhabi and forced to return to her country. she is currently being held
without charges. the same is true of many saudi political activists. sadly, president trump continues to proclaim his love and affection for the saudi regime. the brutality and lawlessness of the saudi regime, as everybody in this country now knows, was made clear to the entire world with the murder of dissident saudi journalist jamal khashoggi in the saudi consulate in turkey, right in their own consulate. as part of his continuing respect for a senator: authoritarian regimes, whether it's putin in russia or other regimes around the world, president trump rejected the findings of the c.i.a.'s assess ment that the saudi crown prince was responsible for that murder. when given a choice between
believing a despotic ruler in saudi arabia or our own central intelligence agency, sadly the president of the united states sided with the crown prince of saudi arabia. and lastly, mr. president, let me raise an issue that many of my conservative friends, mike lee and others, rand paul and others, have been raising, which is an important issue that i hope progresses, to pay attention to, and that is this war in saudi arabia was not authorized by the united states congress, was not voted upon by the united states congress, and therefore is unconstitutional. let us not forget that the founding fathers of this country put the awesome responsibility of war and peace into the hands
of the u.s. congress, not the president of the united states, not a democratic president or a republican president. article 1 of the constitution clearly states that it is congress, congress, congress, not the president who has the power to declare war. mr. president, the time is long overdue for congress to take back that responsibility which it has be a buy -- abdicated under democratic and republican leaderships. if the members of the house and the senate want to go to war in yemen, vote to go to war in yemen. don't let the president of the united states do it on his own. mr. president, later this afternoon, as i understand it, there will be a resolution
coming before this body as to whether we proceed to vote on ending u.s. involvement in the saudi-led war. that amendment is cosponsored by my friend, senator lee of utah, senator murphy of connecticut, and many, many others. this is an enormously important vote. this is a vote that says to the world we are going to end the horrific humanitarian disaster that is killing tens and tens of thousands of defenseless children in yemen. it is a war that says that we are going to stand for american values. it is a vote which says that the time is now to tell saudi arabia
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