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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  April 14, 2021 10:30am-2:30pm EDT

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later the senate will be debating legislation to address the rise of hate crimes and violence targeted at asian americans and pacific islanders. we just heard democrats talk about this. the senate will vote on the nomination of gary ginsburg to be chair of the securities exchange commission. and now live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. god, our god, we honor your name. you have been our help in ages past. you are our hope for the years to come. continue to guide our senators
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with your love. answer them when they cry to you for assistance. be for them a shade by day and a defense by night. may they exercise sound judgment as they listen closely to the whisper of your wisdom that will keep them on the path that leads to light. may they trust in your unfailing love to make the crooked places straight. lord, give them thed wisdom to permit godliness to fill their lives with light and joy.
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we pray in your sacred name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our 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.
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mr. leahy: mr. president. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: so, mr. president, we live in bipartisan -- sorry. we live in partisan times. but there are moments when we can break through the typical divisions and work together on matters of real urgency. theanti-asian hate crimes legislation this week is such a matter. it's a very straightforward and relatively modest bill to address a pressing and important issue in the country. it would designate a point person at the justice department to identify hate crimes towards asian americans related to covid-19, telling federal law enforcement to make these hate crimes a top priority during the pandemic. just as important, it would send a strong message to two groups -- to the asian american
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community that the country is paying attention to them, and to all of america that this kind of bigotry cannot be tolerated. i was gratified to hear the republican leader yesterday say that the senate republican conference wanted to move forward on the bill. this bill was never intended to be some kind of gotcha legislation. it's led by senators hirono and duckworth, two outstanding asian american senators who rightfully want to respond to the rising tide of anti-asian violence over the past year. when they asked me to move the bill quickly, i thought that was exactly the right thing to do, and here it is on the floor. the fact that leader mcconnell said yesterday he believes discrimination against asian americans is a real problem and wants to move forward and be constructive is a very good thing, and i salute him for it. the entire senate ought to stand up against the recent surge of anti-asian violence. we can take the first step later
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today by voting to proceed to the legislation. as i said yesterday, my intention is to have a bipartisan amendment process, beginning with the amendment offered by senator moran and blumenthal, one republican, one a democrat. in consultation with the republican leader, we can work out an agreement on other germane, non-gotcha amendments to the bill if senators have them. we should be able, should be able and should really try in earnest to reach a final resolution and pass the bill through the senate very, very soon. taking a step back for the moment, this is how the process should work in a closely divided senate. if the republican minority allows the senate to move forward with the bill where we have shared priorities, the democratic majority will work to set up a process for the senate to consider germane amendments from both sides. that is the essence of the organizing resolution we all
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agreed to earlier this year, and hopefully it is a process we can repeat. in fact, we will test that proposition on the very next piece of legislation. if we're able to finish the anti-asian hate crimes bill in a timely manner, i will move next to consider a bipartisan water infrastructure bill. the bill, the drinking water and infrastructure act, was advanced by the environmental and public works committee on a unanimous, unanimous vote. it will authorize tens of billions of dollars to make sure american families, especially low-income families, have access to safe and clean drinking water. and i salute senator carper, the chair of the committee, as well as senator capito, the ranking republican on the committee, for coming together on such an important and necessary bill. so in addition to further nominations, it's my intention to move the bipartisan water
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infrastructure bill next week. as the country turns the corner from covid-19, our focus will soon shift to how we can cement our economic recovery and create the jobs of the future. president biden's build back better agenda, a big, bold vee. in infrastructure and jobs, is extremely important to that effort. it has wide support among democrats and wide support among the american people. many, many republicans out there in the country support this bill and this concept. and the water infrastructure bill is a small but important part of that overall effort. we hope our republican colleagues join us in advancing these proposals to repair and reimagine our nation's infrastructure for a new century. just like the anti-asian hate crimes bill, if republicans let us get on the bill, we can work out a process to have bipartisan debate and amendments, but if the republican minority prevents
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the senate from even debating some of these commonsense proposals, we'll have to try to move forward without them. now, on afghanistan, yesterday, president biden announced that american forces will come home from afghanistan by september 11, 2021. it has been 20 years since that fateful day when the towers fell and the pentagon was hit. we in new york live particularly hard with that. i still think of the people i knew who perished. a guy i played basketball with in high school. a businessman who helped me on the way up. a brave firefighter, we used to go around the city urging people to donate blood together. but in that time, since then, america's armed forces, thank god, have become extremely successful in deterring and rooting out terrorist networks around the globe. president obama authorized the
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mission that took out osama bin laden, the architect of the 9/11 attacks. our intelligence agencies have assessed that al qaeda and other terrorist groups do not pose an immediate threat to strike the united states from afghanistan because of the brave work of our armed forces and intelligence organizations. so after sinking two decades of blood and treasure into wars in the middle east, it's time to bring our troops home. america does not need to fight forever wars. i applaud president biden's decision. unlike president trump, president biden and secretary austin have developed a careful and thoughtout plan. this isn't president trump waking up one morning and announcing a random new policy on twitter while our generals scramble to catch up. this will be a careful and thoughtout plan, with a real timetable and a firm end date.
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whenever we talk about american troops in the middle east, one of the concerns is mission creep and the enormous pressure to kick the can down the road and delay final decisions. we should and must stick to the date the president has proposed as the last day our troops will be there. i have been assured by the white house that the september 11 date will stick and that president biden will not kick the can down the road. i'm happy, i know many senators have questions, and so i'm happy to let my colleagues know that the administration has agreed to brief all senators on this important decision. the briefing will take place soon. it will be in the scif, and everyone's questions can be asked and answered. the president himself will address the nation later today and explain the reasons for his decision. in my view, president biden's
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plan to bring american troops home from afghanistan is a very wise one. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: quote -- biden takes the easy way out of afghanistan, the likely result is disaster. this is the morning's lead editorial from one of the nation's most liberal newspapers. the administration decided to
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abandon u.s. efforts in afghanistan which have helped keep radical islamic terrorism in check, and bizarrely, they have decided to do so by september 11. apparently, we're to help our adversaries ring in the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by gift-wrapping the country and handing it right back to them. here's what this administration's own national intelligence threat assessment says will happen. quote -- this is a quote from this administration -- the taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield and the afghan government will struggle to hold the taliban at bay until the coalition withdraws support. in 2019, the democratic leader and the now-chairman of the foreign relations committee expressed outrage that the previous administration considered hosting taliban
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officials for discussions around the date of september 11. but now a democratic administration is going to skip the negotiations and just surrender an entire country back to the taliban on the very same date. our president should remember what happened when the obama administration let political considerations rush a retreat from iraq -- total chaos and bloodshed. and isis. two years ago i wrote a bipartisan amendment that warned a republican administration against recklessly withdrawing from afghanistan or syria, a supermajority of senators right here voted for it. supermajority of senators voted for it. warning that the terrorist threat has not abated. where are the democratic voices today? i hope we'll hear from some of
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them. unfortunately, this mistaken afghanistan -- mistake in afghanistan is one of the instances of the new administration surrendering leverage without making america, our allies, or our interests more secure. in january, president biden extended the new start agreement with russia by executive order for five years. no strings attached. no concessions secured. not even a shorter-term extension to keep russia to cooperate on a better agreement. just a gift. a gift. then there's iran. senior administration officials have gone from denigrating the former administration's maximum pressure strategy to simply begging for direct talks to iran to proactively offering to remove sanctions that are, quote, inconsistent with the jcpoa. so which sanctions exactly are
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inconsistent with the jcpoa? our sanctions on iran's terrorist organizations or its ballistic missle program? most republicans would be thrilled if president biden could actually secure a better deal that holds iran accountable. giving up the leverage of sanctions before we even get to the table -- before we even get to the table or just return to a bad deal certainly not a good sign. it would be hard to support any deal that isn't part of a broader strategy that also confronts the nonnuclear threats that iran poses to america and to the region. on china, the administration's tough talk has been welcomed, but its proposal to cut defense spending after inflation suggests there is less interest in walking the walk.
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we'll not keep pace with china and russia by cutting spending to placate fringe parts of the far left. the american people need and they deserve a foreign policy that puts our security, our partners, and our interests ahead of the reflective desire to break with the past four years at any cost -- at any cost. if this administration wants a successful legacy on the world stage, if they want accomplishments that will endure, they need to put american strength back at the center and come back to a bipartisan mainstream. now, mr. president, on a completely different matter, we know democrats are desperate to create a national controversy over voting regulations, but the facts and the truth keep getting in the way. for more than a year, we've seen a coordinated campaign to call any american institution that
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occasionally frustrates liberal activists an evil relic of jim crow. let me say that again. for more than a year we've seen a coordinated campaign to call any american institution that occasionally frustrates liberal activists an evil relic of jim crow. when these talking points came into circulation last summer, their focus was the legislative filibuster here in the senate. except it was senate democrats who had just used the legislative filibuster to kill senator tim scott's police reform and antilynching legislation. two days oog our colleague, the majority leader, says he opposes the filibuster because he said it was used back in the 1920's to block an antilynching bill. to be clear, our colleague from illinois was a loud and proud defender of the current senate
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rules as recently as 2018. this isn't about the 1920's. it's not about the 1920's. it's about democrats wanting different sets of rules depending on whether or not they happen to be in the majority. our colleague didn't need to go back nine decades to find instances of democrats filibustering a republican antilynching bill. he only needed to go back nine months. he didn't have to go back to the 1920's, just go back nine months to find democrats filibustering an antilynching bill. democrats filibustered tim scott's police reform, body camera and antilynching legislation because it wasn't far left enough or antipolice enough. that's the ironly here. -- irony here. if any recent senate filibusters have been reminiscent of the
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1920's, it was when democrats killed an antilynching bill just last summer. here's the truth, mr. president. our colleagues can't defend any of the details of their radical policies so they want to change the subject -- change the subject by any means necessary. look at voting regulations. the recent bill passed in the state of georgia mandates more days of early voting than plenty of democratic-run states allow. it continues no-excuse absentee voting which some blue states do not allow. there's no factual standard by which its overall approach is radically more restrictive than the rules in place in many other states, blue or red. "the washington post" has given the white house its worst rating, four -- four pinocchios
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for repeated lies about georgia and the election law. but the president and his staff just keep on doubling down. one of our colleagues who represents georgia put his name to a public statement -- to a public statement with inaccurate information about the bill. in the rules committee, the democratic leader shouted angry attacks at things the georgia law simply doesn't do. why the fake narratives? why the falsehoods? we all know why. for more than two years washington democrats have been desperate to pass a sweeping partisan takeover of our democracy. it's packed -- packed with shameless provisions that have nothing to do with ballot access. they want to take the bipartisan federal election commission, make it a partisan body and give
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democrats the majority. they want to send taxpayer money to political campaigns. they want to expand washington's policing of american speech. they want to neuter voter i.d. and mandate ballot harvesting in all 50 states. strangely enough, for multiple years now this exact same power grab has been their answer to every changing circumstance. when they didn't like the outcome of the 2016 election, democrats said our democracy was broken and only this takeover could fix it. then in 2020, they got the result they liked. suddenly the same bill became the way to simply preserve a system that functioned, well --
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functioned well. there seems to be no situation where this attempted power grab is not the democrats' answer. i think we could learn tomorrow that an asteroid was hurdling toward earth and democrats would say our only hope was to pass h.r. 1. this isn't about responding to recent state laws. it's not about justice or equity. washington democrats want to rewrite all 50 states' elections laws. they want to take over the federal election commission. they've been trying out different justifications for multiple years straight to get what they want. any federal law addressing the ground rules of our democracy has a special obligation to be sober, to be factual, and to be bipartisan. the senate has done just that in the past. we've passed reasonable laws by
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huge bipartisan margins he making it easier to vote but harder to cheat. so ask yourself. why won't democrats today deal in truth and facts? why do they keep using the same smears to distract from their policies? why are they hell bent on a bill that passed the house with purely partisan support but bipartisan opposition? talk about tipping your hand. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, secretary and exchanges commission, gary
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gensler, of maryland, to be a member. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. hagerty: i want to thank the people of kansas who sent me here to represent them. it's an honorable lifetime to follow in the steps of herric kansans who proceeded me in this legislative body and that includes sharing this with my long-time friend and now my senior senator jerry moran as well as legends of this chamber, my mentors bob dole and pat roberts. but before i continue, i want to say a special word of gratitude to my family for their support. i would not be here without the support of my wife of 37 years now, lana, our four children and their spouses, our three
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grandchildren as well as my parents, brother, sister and extended family who have contributed to our campaigns and the work we've done in congress. i'm grateful for their understanding and sacrifice of privacy and family time. mr. marshall: i'm grateful for the values they passed on to me. i'm grateful for the personal friends who gave me al solid foundation of values. these values provided the foundation for me, a fifth generation farm kid to become a first-generation college and live my dream in rural america. these values have become pillars, the sturdiest are faith, family, community, education, and hard work. a faith that you live in your heart, not wear on your
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shirt-sleeve. a family that loves and stands beside you no matter what. a community where everyone looks out for each other. an education that is the great equalizer, leveling the playing field for all, and, finally, a belief in hard work that paves the way to achieve your american dream. as i traveled kansas this past year, i carried these pillars with me while i heard from people all over the state and they gave me three very clear priorities. number one, provide for their safety, health, and security. number two, to bring back our jobs and economy. and number three, to protect our values and our god-given inalienable rights and i'm here in the senate to do just that, to fight for the people of kansas, for all americans, but more than anyone else, i'm here to fight for our children and grandchildren the like another great kansan, the 34th president of the united states,
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dwight eisenhower, the decisions i make will be guided by future generations, not what's on the juice or the tweet that goes out as i raise my thumb up or down. history will be my decision. the model of the first infantry division housed in my home state of kansas, no mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great, duty first. it's with this fighting attitude i intend to fully fund our military, secure our borders. as the son and brother of a veteran and veteran myself, honor the commitment to those who honor our freedoms and values and as the son of a police chief fully support our law enforcement. i'm grateful for all law enforcement officers, including those here at the u.s. capitol. they put their lives on the line every day and we join the nation
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in mourning those officers in keeping us safe. while we too often hear calls to defund the police and weaken our military readiness, we are still a nation of law and order and we must advance president reagan's philosophy of peace through strength. pre-covid, thanks to republican policies, lower taxes led to historically low unemployment rates as well as american energy independence. with agriculture being responsible for 40% of the kansas economy, these policies along with strong trade agreements provided the tools necessary to ensure farmers, ranchers and producers remained profitable and rural communities prosperous. here's what concerns me today, like my grandma often told me at the family supper table there are three things you can count on from the current majority party -- they'll spend a lot of
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your money, raise your taxes and increase regulations. like my grandma warned, within the first three months of this new administration we've seen an onslaught of harmful red tape and unprecedented spending spree. fighting government red tape and working to make sure kansans keep more of their money as a means to harness job growth and helped -- help the economy recover will be what i work for each day. lastly, i was sent here to protect kansas values i was raised on. these values are still held by the majority of americans and many of us are tired of being canceled, censored and lectured to. i acknowledge we all need to be woke up sometimes, woke up for church on sundays, woke as a child help milk the cows on my grandparents' farm, but we don't need the woke mob to shake us out of bed every day. like all nations of people, we made plenty of mistakes and we have room to grow, but we
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kansans are still proud of our american history. rather than cancel it, we should embrace it. america has accomplished incredible things and defeated enemies of freedom. we should be proud of our history, hang on to it and learn from it. god has given our nation enormous bounty and blessings to help feed the world, maintain peace and protect human rights. america has been called upon to be the salt of the earth and remain a bright burning candle, not hidden under a bushel. i believe our country will not fall from another military giant nor will it succomb to economic failure created from lands. our greatest risk of failure comes from falling under our own weight if we continue to ignore the self-evident values our forefathers taught us. mr. marshall: if we continue paying toox attention to -- too much attention to high -- hyperbole, this nation will struggle and not be the leader of the free world we intended it to be. before i leave this subject of values, i want to share how
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important and personal the sanctity of life is to me. i had the honor as an obstetrician to deliver over 5,000 babies and i promise i will work as hard in this chamber to protect the lives of the unborn and our children as i did in the delivery room all those years. i will always lead on this issue and protect our values. leadership is the quality i most remember my dad looking for and praising in others and i've always tried to emulate great leaders. and to this end, as i sometimes wander the capitol looking for solitude and inspiration, i'm struck by one of my favorite paintings hanging in the capitol rotunda. in this portrait the artist depicts general george washington shortly after the revolutionary war surrendering his commission as an officer. and behind washington resting on the otherwise empty king's throne are the robes of a king. the robes he declined. and the leadership lesson is that great leaders don't seize more power when they see the opportunity.
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three months into this 117th congress it appears that power grab general washington declined is now the majority's primary modus operandi. we've seen a record number executive orders, first partisan covid relief bill, and attempt to federalize elections and destroy election integrity with h.r. 1, and now a commission to study expanding the supreme court. like dorothy in the wi czar of of -- wizard of oz watching grains of sand dropping through the hourglass, the timing of dropping the ultimate power grab, the elimination of the filibuster is carefully weighed. the filibuster is meant to force both parties to work together to come up with long-lasting policies which help americans. without it, we'll see tax laws and many other policies go up and down like a roller coaster creating uncertainty and making it impossible for long-term planning. we are witnessing what may be
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the most blatantly hypocritical policy switch we've ever seen as most all senators and the president have been on record previously in support of the filibuster. this flip-flop appears to be on the name of greed and power. so while i come to the senate intent on fighting against efforts to weaken our security, harm our economy, and diminish american values, i also want to discuss what i'm for. my favorite memories of growing up were spent in the great outdoors with the people i love the most -- my friends and family. and make no mistake, i'll do everything in my power to lead lead -- leave this world cleaner, safer and healthier than i found it. this can be accomplished while at the same time maintaining affordable energy. whether it's environmental or economic policy we need a level playing field both at home and abroad. we must prioritize jobs for americans, secure our supply chains, and continue to develop fair and reciprocal trade agreements. we must lower the cost of
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quality health care for all americans. we must stop intellectual property theft along with economic coercion, forced technology transfer. we must stop counterfeit products and illicit drugs from entering our nation. we must stop all censorship, especially censorship of conservative thought under attack. and for our grandchildren's sake we must modernize policies surrounding big tech and social media before they engulf our society. and so this nation still very young in the scheme of world history, we have our challenges. but as long as we stay true to our american values, we'll get more right than we get wrong. but we have to learn to forgive our past and forgive each other. over this easter break one of my sons told me something that made my heart go pitter-patter. he said dad, capitalism keeps america at the tip of the spear. capitalism keeps america at the
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tip of the spear. you know, he was spot on. american innovation, our pioneer spirit and hard work will always lead the way and bring victory over totalitarianism and singular thought and rule. each and every american youth and young adult has their own story to write, and my job here is to ensure everyone has their shot at happiness and their shot at their american dream. while we cannot guarantee happiness for any of them, those of us in this chamber can pave the way with an abundance of opportunity. as the dreams of stories of so many americans are interw50e6d, this american -- interweaved, this tapestry will keep this republic in good shape. it's our diversity that makes us great. and as long as we pass on our american values that have seen this nation through so many dark nights, we will succeed through current and future trials and
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conflicts. may god bless this great republic. mr. president, i yield back.
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mr. thune: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. thune: is the senate in a quorum call? we're not. okay. mr. president, shortly before easter, i joined a number of my colleagues on a visit to the border to get a firsthand look at the crisis that we're facing. and make no mistake -- this is a crisis. customs and border protection apprehensions at our southern border last month were at their highest level in nearly 20 years. 20 years, mr. president. u.s. customs and border protection reported more than 172,000 encounters with individuals attempting to cross our southern border in march
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alone. and that's just the individuals they encountered. we don't know how many individuals came across without being identified and are currently residing illegally in our country. nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children crossed our southern border in march alone, the largest number ever recorded in a single month. that's 19,000 children making an incredibly dangerous journey without their parents at the mercy of smugglers, human traffickers, or any other dangerous individual that they night encounter. mr. president, needless to say, the surge at our border is having very serious effects. border patrol agents have been pulled off the border to deal with the influx of migrants and unaccompanied children, leaving the borders undermanned. and the government is straining to deal with processing the massive number of people who have come across the border. one facility that we visited was at 16 times its allotted
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capacity. the administration has had to deploy the federal emergency management agency. that's right. our government's disaster recovery agency to help deal with the influx of unaccompanied children. and the department of health and human services has been forced to open emergency shelters and ask the department of defense for temporary housing on bases. despite the pandemic, adequate covid safety measures have been unable to be maintained because the numbers needing to be housed have been so great. mr. president, while the administration would like to attribute this crisis to the previous administration or anything but the current president's policies, the truth is president biden bears a lot of the responsibility for the situation. his presidential campaign made it clear that border security was not going to be one of his
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priorities. and since taking office, what signals have he and his administration sent? on his very first day in office, president biden rescinded the declaration of a national emergency at our school -- soutn border. he halted construction of the border wall, and he rescinded a trump administration order that called for the government to faithfully execute our immigration laws, including removals for visa overstays and limiting funding to sanctuary cities. all on his first day, mr. president. and that's not all. the president's department of homeland security also issued guidelines that same day pausing deportations except under certain conditions. mr. president, the effect of president biden's actions was to declare to the world that the united states borders are
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effectively open. that may or may not have been what president biden and his administration intended, but it certainly has been the effect. the message received by prospective migrants has been if you can make it, if you can make it to the u.s. border and claim asylum, whether legitimate or not, even if you illegally cross the border, you're in. mr. president, trump administration policies like remain in mexico and the third country asylum rule relieved pressure on our overburdened immigration casework and enforcement efforts at the southern border. they allowed for asylum claims to be vetted long before individuals reached the u.s. border, removing the need for people to uproot themselves and attempt a dangerous border crossing only to be sent back home again. but in his rush to distance himself from president trump and appease the open borders wing of
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the democrat party, president biden eliminated these policies which has helped create the humanitarian crisis that we're currently facing. under the biden administration, there is little deterrent or fear of punishment for those who seek to enter the country illegally, knowing that they can claim asylum and join the backlog of roughly 1.3 million cases while they wait in the united states. and the humanitarian crisis that we're seeing at the border is the result. mr. president, president biden and democrats would like to present themselves as the compassionate alternative to the trump administration, but there is nothing compassionate about policies that invite illegal immigration, that encourage people to attempt a dangerous border crossing, to run the risk of death or injury or exploitation or disease.
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and fighting the surge at the border also shows a significant lack of compassion or consideration for americans, particularly those in blord communities. while many of those trying to cross our borders -- in border communities. while many of those crying to cross our borders legally are simply looking for a better way, which is not an excuse for going outside our legal pathways, there are also a lot of dangerous people, dangerous people, mr. president, attempting illegal border crossings. drug traffickers, weapons traffickers, human traffickers. gang members. and when border patrol agents have been pulled off the border to help manage the immigration influx, it's not going to be too surprising if we discover that more of these dangerous individuals have made their way into our country. and that helps a real danger to americans. americans living in towns and cities along our southern border at the great et cetera risk -- greatest risk of having their communities disrupted by border-related criminal activity. but the effects of drug
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trafficking and other criminal activity across our southern border are felt throughout our entire country. mr. president, president biden helped cause this crisis. there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. and he could start ending this crisis today by making it clear that his administration will enforce immigration laws and that the way to come to this country is to come legally. he can also help by recommitting our country to serious border security along our southern border, including construction, continued construction of the border wall. for the sake of the unaccompanied children and all those trying to cross our broordz and for the sake of the americans who have been endangered by his policies, i hope, mr. president, i hope that president biden will take
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action. mr. president, i yield the floor . okay. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. is there objection? without objection, -- is there a sufficient second? there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: we have 53 yeas, 45 nays. the nomination is confirmed. the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the motion to reconsider be made and laid upon the table and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? not objection. so ordered.
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the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion. we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of executive calendar 53, brenda mallory of maryland to be a member of the council on environmental quality, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of brenda mallory of maryland to be a member of the council on environmental quality shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not, the yeas are 53, the nays are 45. the motion is agree heed to. -- the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, executive office of the president, brenda mallory of maryland to be a member of the council on environmental quality. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: mr. president, the senate has now invoked cloture on the nomination of brenda mallory, president biden's nominee to serve as the chair of the white house council on environmental quality.
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i rise today -- first let me just say thank you. i want to express my thanks and 0 on behalf of brain did a mallory -- brenda mallory, 53 senators who voted in favor of cloture so we can now debate her nomination. so we thank each and every senator who cast that supporting vote. but i rise in support of ms. mallory's nomination to this important position. this is a position a the lot of folks have never heard of. but a hugely important one. i i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the confirmation of a highly qualified nominee as well. the chair of the white house council on environmental quality or c.e.q., as we call it, may not be the first position many americans think about when they consider a consequential presidential appointment. but it is a critical body with considerable sway over our nation's health and environment.
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one of my mentors was a republican named russ peterson, a great leader of the dupont company for many years, governor of delaware, and later served as chair of the white house council on environmental quality during the administrations of both richard nixon and gerald ford. governor peterson used to refer to his role as chair at the council on environmental quality as something of an arc extra conductor. you don't play the instruments as chair of the c.e.q., but you try hard to ensure that everybody in the orchestra is playing in harmony. the c.e.q. chair coordinates action across the entire government in order to ensure federal agencies are working in harmony, that every federal decision advances the objectives of economic growth, better public health, and of stronger environmental quality.
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but while c.e.q. chairs do work much like an orchestra leader or conductor to achieve harmony across federal agencies, they must also pursue balance. that balance includes at least three components -- one, growing our economy. two, ensuring a just and healthy society. and, three, protecting our environment for current and future generations. those are the clear objectives of c.e.q. in the national environmental quality act of 1969, the landmark law that created c.e.q. often referred to as magna carta of environmental laws. according to its six pages of statute, nepa -- nepa's purpose includes -- and i'm going to quote -- efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment, bias, fear, our
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stimulus lat the health and welfare of man -- and i would add woman. nepa enshrines democracy by giving the american people a voice to help ensure the fate of federal decisions. for 50 years nepa has sought to ensure environmental protection, public health, and the notion that the american people should have a say in the federal decision-making process that affects their lives. like our constitution, nepa is one of our nation's most ensuring and replicated laws. the same principles of democracy and citizen participation that are enshrined in our constitution are also enshrined in nepa. sadly you the trump administration's c.e.q. largely walked away from the tenets of this 50-year-old law. issuing drastic roll p backs --
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rollbacks. instead of advancing c.e.q.'s objectives -- a more productive economy, a healthier society and a cleaner environment, the previous administration sadly repeatly compromised public health and environmental quality for the sake of less red tape. so one of the many tasks ahead for the next c.e.q. chair will be to get us back on track. to harmonize our efforts to address the climate crisis, 10 safeguard public health -- to safeguard public health and to ensure that we're treating others the way we want to be treated. if that sounds familiar, it should, because that's the golden rule, which is found in every major religion on this planet. there are few people as well-qualified to tackle this challenge as broken la mallory. i believe she is the kind of -- shes the kind of experience, dedicated public servant that we need to lead c.e.q. at this
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critical time for not just for the agency but for our nation. ms. mallory is deeply committed public servant under both democratic and republican administrations a. no stranger to c.e.q., she served there for a umin of years after an impressive tenure of more than a decade at e.p.a., including under president george w. bush. she has earned respect from both sides of the aisle as the former general council -- counsel, she already knows the agency inside and out. her experience, her reputation as a collaborative, pragmatic leader helped her explain why she has garnered broad bipartisan support among environmental leaders who have served before her. get this -- 13 past republican c.e.q. and e.p.a. appointees, inclusion the former c.e.q. chair and four
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different republican e.p.a. administrators, have publicly praised ms. mallory and urged her confirmation. now, that doesn't happen every day,s the presiding officer knows. but among those republican -- former republican e.p.a. administrators who have urged her confirmation are these -- bill reilly, christine todd whitman, michael leavitt, steven johnson, and james conatin. she has also earned the support of the u.s. chamber of commerce. i will say that again. ms. mallory has also earned the support of the u.s. chamber of commerce. and a whole bushel of environmental groups across this land. she has represented business interests in the past as an attorney in private practice so she you understands the importance timely and well-coordinated environmental
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reviews, which are crucial for getting investments in tellly communications and in infrastructure off the ground. ms. mallory's expertise will be critical to the tasks that lie ahead. in addition to restore balance at c.e.q. and its mission, the next chair at c.e.q. will address a number of pressing crises facing our nation teas. let me mention some of them. they include the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, the worst economy since the great depression, as well as the enduring problem and challenge of racial injustice. all three -- all three of these crises -- are compounded by a fourth, and that is the climate crisis u we have no time to waste. we must tackle the climate crisis with conviction and with urgency. my home state of delaware, which i am privileged to represent, certainly cannot wait any longer.
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we happen to be the lowest-lying state in america. our state is sinking, and the seas around us recent rising. this is felt by the other states across the country. climate change is an issue that hitshead states and blue states alike. my colleagues, john neeley kennedy and bill cassidy, tell me that -- from louisiana, tell me that louisiana loses a football field of wetlands to rising sea levels every 100 minutes. let me mention that again. louisiana loses a football field of wetlands to rising sea levels every 100 minutes. another part of the country in the midwestern part of our country last year, hurricane-force winds flattened over half -- over half of the corn and soybean crop in iowa. literally in the span of about a week, maybe even in the span of
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about a day. out on the west coast, wildlife fires raged across california as big as the size of rhode island while floods in florida damaged homes and roads and deadly ice storms a month or two ago left millions in texas stranded without power or water. natural disasters and extreme weather don't discriminate. they impact all of us. brenda mallory knows this. she understands the gravity of the situation and the immense challenge she has ahead of her, should she be confirmed. i know she's ready to seize the opportunity ahead of her in this role. she also knows that the laws we write and the decisions we make can affect who faces the brunt of the consequences. for too long, communities of color have disproportionately suffered from our environmental policies. from chemical containments in --
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contaminants in ink doctoring water to toxic air pollution from our factories, our most marginalized citizens are too often exposed to environmental public health risks and left behind by our investments and policies. we need to work to improve environmental outcomes for all americans. all men's. -- all americans. bran did a mallory can play the leadership role needed in addressing environmental justice and meeting the challenges of climate change in a way that lift up all communities and achieve a brighter, more equitable future for each one of them. as we address the crises that we face, we have an opportunity to improve people's lives today and for future generations. to do that, we need principled, enlightened leaders.
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we need leaders who are humble, not hautety, leaders who have the heart of a servant and understand that their job is to serve, not be served. leaders who unite, not divide. leaders who build bridges, not walls. i'm confident that brenda mallory is just that kind of leader. she will bring integrity. she will bring honor and humility to her role just as she has done in her decades of service to this country. as chair of the council on environmental quality, she'll be a leader who brings people together to form lasting solutions to the challenges that we face today. with that in mind, i strongly urge each of our colleagues to join me in supporting her confirmation. i thank again those who voted for cloture a few minutes ago. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. thank you.
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mrs. blackburn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mrs. blackburn: thank you, mr. president. well, it has been just over two months since we transferred majority rule to president biden and the democrats, and they've made it very clear that not even their most radical policy proposals are up for debate. they just want to push things through. in fact, based on what we've seen, i'm willing to go on the record and say that they see any possibility of defeat as an impermissible challenge to their hold on power. they've got quite a long enemies list. you'll recall back there 2016 after donald trump won the election, liberal activists blamed the electoral college for their mini -- many campaign failures in 2020, even as the count came down in their favor,
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the attacks continued. faced with the possibility of constitutionalist conservative judicial nominees, the supreme court also became a source of righteous panic. in the wake of the 2020 election, activists were quick to demand that their new majority break the structure of the court and transform it into a rubber stamp for radical policies that don't stand a chance of surviving this chamber under regular order. just this year when faced with a much slimmer majority than i'm sure they expected, many of my democratic colleagues reversed their positions on the filibuster. suddenly the procedural backstop so many of them had once vowed to protect. this was an important check against the tyranny of the majority.
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well, all of a sudden it was nothing more than a racist relic of jim crow america. so, we're left to assume, i suppose, tyranny started to look pretty good in the face of such a slim majority. the filibuster isn't the only senate institution that came under fire. debate over a federal minimum wage increase grew so unhinged that many democrats suggested firing the parliamentarian and replacing her with someone willing to deploy his or her own rubber stamp. just this week news broke that the senate democrats are now toying with the idea of firing the director of the congressional budget office. for what? the unpardonable sin of doing
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his job. if you don't like the score, fire the scorekeeper. if you don't like the standard, wipe it off the books. if you don't like the institution, just burn it to the ground. it's a familiar curriculum now reflected in the democrats' latest effort to demolish and rebuild the country in their own radical image. they call it for the people act. but the basic premise of s. 1 is that in order to secure our elections, we have no choice but to take electoral power away from the people and put it in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats. it's a top-down approach that if implemented would centralize control over elections in direct contravention to the
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constitution. destroy barriers to voter fraud and enable radical activists to harass and intimidate their political opponents. it's the sort of power grab you'd expect a cartoon villain to conduct, but here we are debating this in the u.s. senate. when you dive into the specifics, it really gets worse. here are some things it would do. the bill would indeed ban voter i.d. requirements and force states to allow ballot harvesting schemes. the federal election commission which for the moment is a balanced bipartisan agency would more of into a partisan -- morph into a partisan prosecutorial body ready to be weaponized against the political minority. instead of living or dying by the support of loyal donors
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under this new scheme, political campaigns would receive public money payouts which they could then use to provoke whatever message they please, no matter how objectionable it might be to the taxpayers who would be funding those campaigns. i'm speaking of -- and speaking of those donors, if you ever wondered who was behind a particular campaign, this bill has you covered. it includes no restrixes on split -- restrictions on political speech in the form of a donor disclosure mandate. say goodbye to anonymous political activity in the tradition of the "federalist papers" and the civil rights movement. this is cancel culture on steroids. and if the democrats have their way, this is what is coming to a precinct near you.
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of course, centralization of power on this scale will require a laundry list of regulations, and on that front, s. 1 does not disappoint. the requirements shoveled on to local and state officials are so burdensome and impractical that i refuse to believe anyone involved in their drafting has ever staffed a polling place. certainly they have never served as a volunteer on a county election commission. that is something i had the honor of doing a couple of decades ago. if they get their way, the same automatic registration procedures that failed voters in california and in illinois are coming to a county elections
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office in your neighborhood. felons would regain their right to vote in federal elections, but no one seems willing to explain how they expect state officials to prevent them from voting them down ballot racist. officials will have the pleasure of purchasing new paperback voting machines just as soon as those machines come into existence. that's right, this bill mandates the use of technology that hasn't hit the marketplace. speaking of theoretical technology, for some reason the drafters of this bill also thought it would be a good idea to force states to invent new technology to support automated voter registration by phone. elections are not he's events to
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stand up. county officials and volunteers work year round to ensure that polling places are staffed and safe, that machines are functional, and volunteers are well trained to recognize illegal electioneering and fraud. over the years state and local authorities have found their own solutions to these challenges. when those solutions fail, we have the ability to implement federal backstops against voter suppression and election mishandling. everyone has their own role to play. these roles are outlined in the constitution for a reason. because the fou founders knew tt any detached federal bureaucracy would like the competence to solve the unique, logistical challenges my democratic colleagues are trying to use as
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proof that congress must step in to burn down yet another institution of our democracy. that is the constitutional imperative to the states to set the time, the place, and manner of elections. mr. president, if we continue to go down this road, this partisan fever dream will become codified chaos that will trickle all the way down to the precinct level and irreparably erode confidence in the electoral process. i yield the floor. mr. murphy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. my colleagues, there is a saying
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about afghanistan that we've turned the corner toward victory so many times that we're spinning in circles. during the beginning of my time in congress, i went to afghanistan to visit our troops and military leadership about every two years. each time i went, i was met by a new, capable, impressive general who just started his year long tour who told me the last general did it wrong and this time everything was going to be different. and i remember coming back from my third trip to afghanistan. i think it was 2011 -- convince thad it was time to leave. -- convinced that it was time to leave. the primary mission had been accomplished. within a few years of our invasion, al qaeda and afghanistan had been reduced to a shell of its former self. we had really shifted to a new mission, nation building. at the outset, there was reason for us to stay and engage in that mission and work with the
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new afghan government to help get it on its own feet. but by 2011, that mission had for all intents and purposes become a permanent one. and now after 20 years of war and hangerring about when the right time is to leave, we have to acknowledge some basic truths. our military presence in afghanistan is not creating the conditions necessary to eradicate the taliban nor the conditions necessary to create a fully functional afghan military or government. in fact, the facts on the ground would tell you the opposite is true. the longer we stay, the more powerful the taliban becomes and the less willing the afghan government appears to be to make the hard choices to stand on their own. we can pretend that another year
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is going to change this, but it won't. just a little bit more time. that's become the rinse and repeat phrase of the afghanistan hawks. but to stay any longer is really -- let's be honest -- a decision to stay forever. and that's something that the american people do not support. i want to tell you one story from my trip to afghanistan in 2011 that helped confirm my belief that something was very wrong about our policy there. i went with a bipartisan delegation. i was in the house at the time. we visited a far-off province in western afghanistan, a small-town called parmakhan. we were there to visit a group of army commandos who toured us around this village. they were protecting the farmers in this village from taliban attack. and they attested to us that the attacks had largely stopped. and in the place of those
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attacks had matured a commerce between the taliban forces that surrounded the village and the farmers of the village. and as we walked around this village, we made our way through fields of these beautiful, beautiful colorful flowers. and i turned to my colleague next to me, and i asked him if he had a sense as to what this crop was. and he said i think i do but let's confirm. so we asked one of the village elders what they were harvesting in these fields. poppy he told us. our u.s. military forces were protecting the poppy trade in this western province of afghanistan. in fact, protecting the ability of the taliban to come in and purchase that poppy in order to fuel the insurgency that we were fighting. our troops were literally being
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utilized to protect the revenue source of our enemy. and so no wonder our policy in afghanistan appears circular. in many ways it is and it has been for a very long time. but even for those who disagree with me and condition test that our presence there has helped facilitate the survival of the taliban, what evidence is there that staying for another few years is going to make the key difference? the american war in afghanistan is nearly 20 years old. it's the longest war in u.s. history, outlasting the civil war, the spanish american war, world war i, world war ii and the korean war combined. the u.s. and other international donors have invested an extraordinary amount of money and effort and blood to help stand up a functioning afghan government and civil society. and yet that government has
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failed to get widespread support from the afghan people. there are many reasons for this, but there's one big one -- corruption. and the billions upon billions of dollars that are pump into the afghan economy by u.s. companies often never find their way to actually helping the people of that country. too much of our aid has been siphoned off by local leaders and unintentionally we have helped establish a system of corruption that has become so pervasive and so predatory that people have frankly become less resistant to taliban inroads. without a functioning police force, local governors, they establish their own malley has and the mafia-style system has led to a drug trafficking network fueled by the poppy production network i talked aboutment. this has distorted afghanistan's
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economy and neutralized a lot of our economic aid. yet the united states often over the course of the last 20 years has tolerated these warlords, these drug traffickers and corrupt defense contractors in afghanistan because we consider the enemy of our enemy to be our friend. our entire mission there has often been built on a self-defeating strategy. in fact, what began as a vital mission to eliminate the threat of those who attack add us on september 11 has now in some ways become a symbol of nearly everything that's wrong with american foreign policy. our armed presence in afghanistan epitomizes this hubristic myth over the power of u.s. troops abroad, that they can completely dismantle terrorist networks by force, install and cultivate a stable democratic government, and eliminate rampant corruption and
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illegal drug cultivation. two decades and nearly $2 trillion of spending later, we have seen the limitations of those fan taft cal assumptions -- fantastical assumptions. our generals have offered powerpoint presentation after powerpoint presentation on how this time it is going to be different, but it never is because the failure really isn't in the execution. the failure has been in the design. a few thousand troops -- and that's what we have there today -- cannot deliver security and political stability to a complex, multicultural, multilingual nation long resistant on the other side of the world. we were right to pursue the al qaeda terrorists that attacked us on september 11, but that mission is completed, and it's time to face facts about the limitations of american military power in afghanistan and bring our troops home.
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now, let's be clear. al qaeda still wants to harm the united states, but the threat úneg when they attacked our embassies in kenya, tanzania, bombed the u.s.s. cole and killed thousands of americans on september 11. in afghanistan there may be only 200, 300, maybe 400 al qaeda members total. the organization is no longer capable of planning large-scale attacks against the united states. that's what our intelligence estimates tell us. and frankly there are far more al qaeda members today in other countries, like yemen, for instance. does that mean that we should also plant huge numbers of u.s. troops in every place where there are security vacuums to eliminate the terrorist threat from those countries? of course not. after two decades of the war on terror, we made a ton of
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mistakes but we've also gotten a lot better in terms of our intelligence capabilities and our ability to strike against a terrorist threat absent a huge in-country presence. why not apply that lesson learned to afghanistan? to their credit, the trump administration was right to finally call it like it is and state that the u.s. presence in afghanistan couldn't and shouldn't continue forever. but, as usual, the trump team didn't put in the work to ensure that week -- we could do this by may 1. so a four-month extension announced by president biden will give us the ability to chart out the operational plans for pulling out the troops that we still have there. finally, i want to be honest. when we withdraw, there is a real possibility that the
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situation in afghanistan is going to get worse. it is likely that fighting between the afghan government and the taliban escalates. at that point, either the afghan government will have to lead the fight without the crutch of american support or the government could collapse. but this is the key point -- that has been the dynamic for the last 15 years, and it is going to continue to be the dynamic for the next 15 years. it wouldn't be any different if we had stayed for another five years, another 20 years, or another year. there's stillly no evidence to suggest -- there's simply no evidence to suggest that things are going to change. after 20 years and billions of dollars of investment in the afghan government, the onus has to be on them to get their act together and earn the support of the people. and one last point -- being in afghanistan is a choice , a choice to not focus on other theaters that present more
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serious threats to international norms, global stability and american security. it bogs america down have 2,500 troops there and thousands more contractors and billions of dollars. it bogs us down in a theater that frank lay just matters less to us -- that frankly just matters less to us today than it did years ago. just within the last few days china has leveled new threats to the territorial integrity of its neighbors, russia is amassing thousands of troops on the border of ukraine and there are new worse about a potential atax break on nato member states. and, remember, counterterrorism officials and the our daily news feed remind us that our most serious threat to america today is actually not from foreign terrorist organizations but from domestic groups. we spend more money than any other nation in the world on security, but even given the gargantuan size of our global military footprint, we cannot and should not be everywhere. we need to make choices every
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now and again, and right now it is fantasy, not reality, that undergirds an argument to stay in afghanistan for another ten years or five years or even another year. a big part of being president is making tough choices, and today president biden has made the right one -- to end this war. i yield the floor. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, the new power dynamic in washington has brought about a frenzy of proposed institutional changes by our friends across the aisle. the american people elected a democrat president -- that's true. they reduced the democratic majority in the house and elected a 50-50 senate. in all of congress there are seven more democrats than republicans. that's all. self isn't out of 5 -- seven out of 535 members. despite these tight margins, our friends have tried to characterize this new power
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dynamic as a mandate. first came the push to eliminate the filibuster. just a few years ago, the idea of such a radical change terrified our democratic colleagues. we certainly didn't do it when we were in a position to do it, notwithstanding the encouragement of president trump. when republicans held control of the senate, the house, and the white house, as our democratic colleagues do now, our friends on the other side of the aisle feared the filibuster would come tumbling down. they were so concerned, in fact, that 33 of our colleagues signed onto a letter insisting that the filibuster be preserved. leader mcconnell agreed. he never wavered pressure from everyone, even the president, to eliminate the filibuster. he's been around this chamber and this senate a long time, and he knows that what goes around
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comes around. as the leader correctly noted, democrats didn't just spend the last four years supporting filibuster, they took every advantage of the opportunity for the minority to stop legislation they disagreed with. they spent four years using it. our democratic colleagues employed the filibuster to kill quite a number of republican bills -- on pandemic relief, government funding, pro-life legislation, police reform, and the list goes on and on. despite the fact our friends on the other side of the aisle consistently praised and utilized the filibuster in recent years, now, after the election of 2020, they seem to have reversed course. since the political tides have changed, so, too, have the views of many senate democrats. in recent months, one of our colleagues referred to the filibuster as making a mockery
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of american democracy. i happen to remember at john lewis' funeral, great civil rights icon, even the former president obama called it a relic of jim crow, arguably giving permission to democrats to call the filibuster a racist obstacle to making progress in the country. another senator said that the filibuster had deep roots in racism, even though last summer democrats used this tool to block an answer lynching bill. the entire debate has ballooned beyond reason and the past few months have been a game of will they or won't they when this comes to eliminating the filibuster. you know, the filibuster has very sound origins. it forces us to do what i think the american people would want
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us to do anyway, and that is to work together. it forces us to do that. and building consensus is hard. as we all know. well, we now have confirmation that our democratic colleagues do not have the votes. last week senator manchin of west virginia took to the pages of "the washington post" and said he will not support eliminating or weakening the filibuster. he's been here long enough to know that what you can do in the majority will have consequences when you are in the minority, as you eventually will be if you're here long enough. i was appreciative of what senator manchin said in those pages. i'm sure it wasn't easy. i'm sure there's a lot of pressure on him to be expedient, to jam things through on a partisan basis. and i appreciate his willingness to stand up.
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i agree with the senator from arizona who said we don't have a rule problem. we've got a people problem. we have a behavior problem. we need to restore bipartisan cooperation, and there's no chance that will happen if everything in the senate is jammed through along party lines. the filibuster is designed to protect our country from the continual change of who's in the majority and who's in the minority and to provide the american people a chance to plan their lives. if anything that can be done in one election can be undone in the next election, that's an invasion to chaos. unfortunately -- that's an invitation to chaos. the proposed constitutional changes doesn't end with the filibuster. over the past few years our friends on the other side of the aisle set their sights on the supreme court.
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we all remember a day a sitting member of of this body threatened two supreme court justices by name. as the justices were debating the cases, the current majority leader said on the steps of the supreme court, you have released the whirlwind, he said, and you will pay the price. well, i think he realized the error in making that statement because he then followed it up with, well, this isn't the point where he realized the error because he doubled down on it. he said you won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions. well, we know this wasn't an isolated incident. it is true that the majority leader tried to walk back his words later after he realized how intemperate and inappropriate they were when directed at two sitting members of the united states supreme court. we don't have to remember too far in the past to know how the words we speak here in congress
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and as public officials, the impact it can have on other people's minds and perceptions, especially those who are not particularly stable in the first place. several of our democratic colleagues filed an amicus brief in which they threatened the supreme court with retribution unless they got the outcome that they wanted. thank goodness our founders designed a federal government with three separate but equal branches. through this system of checks and balances, they sought to prevent any one branch of government from forcing its will on the other two. standing up on the steps of the supreme court and issuing threats to the justices that they must do what you want or else -- or else, is certainly is not consistent with the founders' vision. let me be clear, an independent
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judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitution and our constitutional republic. an independent judiciary. in the words of supreme court justice john roberts, we should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary as a source of national unity and stability. but now even this hallowed institution is being attacked by our democratic colleagues unless they get the result they want. they're trying to intimidate the members of the supreme court. and then there's the most recent discussion, threat really, about packing the supreme court with additional members. the push to pack the supreme court has been a mainstay of the far left for years, but has now made its way into the biden administration. previously throughout his campaign, president biden refused to weigh in on this topic. he knew how explosive this was,
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this threat to pack the court to make it a political body, to eliminate its role as an independent judiciary. well, he refused to weigh in on it during the campaign, and i have no doubt this was an important strategic decision. he realized how offensive that would be to the voters he hoped would vote for him in 2020. a poll last fall found that less than one-third of americans support increasing the number of justices on the supreme court. the president previously said he is, quote, not a fan of court packing. in fact, he called it a, quote, bonehead idea, close quote. and he referred to president roosevelt's proposal to pack the court as a, quote, terrible, terrible mistake. but now president biden appears to have embraced this bonehead idea and this terrible, terrible mistake that he condemned previously. the first step was last week
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when he created a commission to examine adding members to the supreme court of the united states above the current nine. this decision and announcement came despite the fact that justices on both sides appointed by presidents on both sides of the aisle have affirmed the integrity of a supreme court with just nine members. justice ruth bader ginsburg, who is an icon for the liberals on the court, and many people in america, she said nine seems to be a good number. and just last week justice breyer said the court's authority depends on a crust that the court is guided -- a trust that the court is guided by legal principle and not politics. and he said these types of changes would erode the trust that the american people must have in the highest court in the land. the american people simply won't have faith in an independent
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judiciary if one saeed is adding names to the roster so that they can gain the outcome. they need to get involved in the legislative process if they want to make policy, not trying to make politics through the judiciary and through the supreme court. so, madam president, i would simply urge president biden to heed his own words that he delivered with such conviction during his time on the judiciary committee when he said that president roosevelt's decision, quote, put in question for an entire decade the independence of the most significant body in this country, close quote. well, unfortunately, the power grab doesn't stop there. the single biggest legislative goal of our friends on the other side of the aisle is an attempted federal takeover of state election laws. that's in spite of the fact that article 1 of the constitution
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explicitly gives the states the power, the power to regulate the, quote, times, places, and manner of holding elections, close quote. yet, this massive bill creates a one-size-fits-all mandate that every state must follow. it preempts state law, but i doubt it would ultimately be held up as constitutional because of the explicit guarantee that the states will regulate the time, manner, and place of holding elections. there are also other changes that are our democratic colleagues, where they seek to reap the benefit of a politicized supreme court and federal agencies. in this instance the federal election commission has six members, three from each party, intentionally designed to be a tie vote if they vote along party lines, to protect the commission from partisan
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politics. we've learned that a fair and balanced commission, which has been the standard for many years, isn't the gold standard for democrats when they're in control of congress and the white house. the election takeover bill introduced by our democratic colleagues would remove one of the seats held by the republican member of the court and tenure the f.e.c. -- and turn the f.e.c. into a partisan body. no more equal representation, no more consensus building. why bother with that if you can steamroll an agenda with no opposition? then there's the taxpayer funding of political campaigns. instead of candidates working to gain the support, the vote, the activism and contributions from their preferred candidate, our democratic colleagues want the taxpayer to pay for those campaigns. and it's not even a dollar-for-dollar match. the government, the american taxpayer would pay $6 for every
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$1 that was donated to a candidate. that means if someone donates 200 bucks to their preferred candidate, the federal government would match that with up to $1,200. those are taxpayer dollars. that's money coming out of your pocket whether you support that candidate or the candidate's policies or not. on top of that, there are campaign vouchers proposed which would provide eligible voters with a $25 voucher to donate to the campaign of their choosing. i'd rather this funding support the people and organizations that really need it. crime victims, unaccompanied children on our border, domestic violence, shelters. there are far more urgent needs for this money than our democratic colleagues' campaign accounts. of course this effort comes at a time when the house democrats are already trying to overturn the results of an iowa congressional election in order to boost their own numbers. this confluence of institutional
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changes isn't about repairing a broken system. it's revolutionary. it's a revolution. can't win every case before the supreme court? well, just add some more liberal justices. can't build support for legislation? well, eliminate the filibuster and the need to build consensus and to work together on a bipartisan basis. can't win an election? overturn the results and secure government funding or taxpayer funding for your candidate. and to cement these changes for a generation, better throw in a complete partisan takeover of our election laws. our democratic friends are taking the saying if you can't win the game, change the rules, to a whole new level. this has been branded by propaganda really as a way to fix a system. well, the system is not broken.
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and to the extent it needs reforms, it can be reformed at the state level where the constitution provides the authority for the states to run their elections. madam president, i think it's important for the american people to understand exactly what's going on here. you can't understand what's going on here by just reading social media or watching cable news shows that reinforce your own bias. unfortunately, our news these days seems to be like ships passing in the night and people pick the channel that reaffirms their previous bias and doesn't challenge people with ideas that perhaps they're not familiar with or don't agree with, which is the way we ought to be dealing with each other. it's okay to disagree, but we ought to engage each other in a civil and respectful manner and to work those out in the crucible of our democracy known
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as the congress. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. brown: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. it's an honor to join my colleagues of both parties, starting with reverend warnock, and three other democrats two other republicans on the floor today to read one of the great pieces of writing of the 20th century, dr. king's letter from the birmingham jail. i thank senator warnock and thank senators murkowski, the republican from alaska; toomey, republican from pennsylvania, padilla, our new colleague from california democrat; senator cortez masto and her fifth year
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in the senate; and senator cassidy from louisiana, republican. they will be joining me today for this annual tradition. our former colleague, doug jones from alabama, began this reading three years ago. i joined him on the floor, and he asked me last year after his election, he asked me to carry on this tradition the years ahead. i'm honored to take that responsibility because dr. king's words are as powerful, as beautiful and as relevant as ever. dr. king said one of the many, many, many things, incisive things dr. king said was that we live in a ten-day world where people forget about public events ten days later. not so for him. not so for his words. and certainly not so for the letter from the birmingham jail. 12 years after dr. king's assassination when cesar chavez was thrown in jail, dr. king's
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widow coretta scott king said you cannot keep truth in jail. truth and justice leave barriers in their own way truth and conscience of people. in april 1963 dr. king was detained at the birmingham jail for leading a series of peaceful protests and boycotts. the goal was to put pressure on the business community to end discrimination in hiring for local jobs. som some white ministers from alabama have taken issues with his boycotts. they supported civil rights, they said. they told him slow down, don't move too fast. don't demand too much all at once. dr. king, of course, as we know rejected that premise. that's what this better -- letter is all about. we can't wait around and hope that families' lies will solve themselves. it's up to us as members of our community to get to work. dr. king made that point more eloquently and more persuasively
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certainly than i can. but we will read his -- note hi. senator warnock will begin, followed by senator murkowski and four other senators. thank you, madam president. senator warnock. mr. warnock: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. warnock: i want to thank my colleague, senator brown, for bringing us together in this way, reading from a letter from a birmingham jail, dr. king, april 16, 1963. dr. king writes -- my dear fellow clergymen, while confined here in the birmingham city jail, i came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." seldom do i pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. if i sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have litte time for anything other than
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such correspondence in the course of the day, and i would have no time for constructive work. but since i feel that you are men of genuine goodwill and tht your criticisms are sincerely set forth, i want to try to answer your statement in what i hope will be patient and reasonable terms. i think i should indicate why i am here in birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." i have the honor of serving as president of the southern christian leadership conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in atlanta, georgia. we have some 85 affiliated organizations across the south, and one of them is the alabama christian movement for human rights. frequently we share staff, educational and financial
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resources with our affiliates. several months ago, the affiliate here in birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. we readily consented, and when the hour came, we lived up to our promise. so i, along with several members of my staff, am here because i was invited here. i am here because i have organizational ties here. but, more basically, i am in birmingham because injustice is here. just as the prophets of the eighth century b.c. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the lord" far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns, and just as the apostle paul left his village of tarsus and carried the gospel of jesus
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christ to the far corners of the greco roman world, so am i compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own hometown. like paul, i must constantly respond to the macedonian call for aid. moreover, i am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. i cannot sit idly by in atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in birmingham. injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. anyone who lives inside the united states can never be considered an outsider anywhere
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within its bounds. you deplore the demonstrations taking place in birmingham. but your statement, i am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. i am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. it is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the negro community with no alternative. in any nonviolent campaign, there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation;
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self-purification; and direct action. we have gone through all these steps in birmingham. there can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the united states. its ugly record of brutality is widely known. negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. there have been more unsolved bombings of negro homes and churches in birmingham than in any other city in the nation. these are the hard, brutal facts of the case. on the basis of these conditions, negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. but the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
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then, last september, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of birmingham's economic community. in the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants -- for example, to remove the stores' humiliating racial signs. on the basis of these promises, the reverend fred shuttlesworth and the leaders of the alabama christian movement for human rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. as the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. a few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. as in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. we had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our
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very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self-purification. we began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" we decided to schedule our direct action program for the easter season, realizing that except for christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. knowing that a strong economic withdrawal program would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.
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then it occurred to us that birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in march, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. when we discovered that the commissioner of public safety, eugene "bull" connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the runoff, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the runoff so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. like many others, we waited to see mr. connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.
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the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: i continue the reading of the letter from a birmingham jail. you may well ask, "why direct action? why sit-ins, marches, and so forth? isn't negotiation a better path?" you are quite right in calling for negotiation. indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. it seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. my citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. but i must confess that i am not afraid of the word "tension." i have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of
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constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. just as socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. the purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. i, therefore, concur with you in your call for negotiation. too long has our beloved southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in
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monologue rather than dialogue. one of the basic points in your statement is that the action that i and my associates have taken in birmingham is untimely. some have asked, "why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" the only answer that i can give to this query is that the new birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one before it will act. we are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of albert boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to birmingham. while mr. boutwell is a much more gentle person than mr. connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. i have hope that mr. boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation.
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but he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. my friends, i must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as reinhold niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals. we know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. frankly, i have yet to engage n a direct action campaign that
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was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. for years now i have heard the word "wait!" it rings in the ear of every negro with piercing familiarity. this "wait" has almost always meant "never." we must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." we have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and god-given rights. the nations of asia and africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging
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darts of segregation to say, "wait." but when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your 20 million negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your 6-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told


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