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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  August 7, 2021 10:59am-2:59pm EDT

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the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will offer the prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. precious lord, your power, mercy, and grace continue to sustain us. your power energizes us to face the challenges that require more than human wisdom.
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your mercy protects us when we fall short of your glory. and your grace gives us merit we don't deserve. lord, empower our senators for today's journey, providing them with confidence to draw near to you. may they pass through this day in companionship with you, lifting their hearts frequently in prayer. give them wisdom to learn to be faithful stewards of the gifts you have provided. we pray in your holy name. amen.
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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. the president pro tempore: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.
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mr. leahy: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: are we in a quorum? i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. schumer: okay, first i'm going to do the administrative stuff. mr. leader -- sorry, mr. president, i understand there are two bills at the desk due for a second reading en bloc. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: s. 2670, a bill to provide for redistricting reform and for other purposes. s. 23671 -- 2671 a bill to amend the campaign act of 1971 to provide for additional disclosure requirements for corporations, labor organizations, super pacs and other entities and for other purposes. mr. schumer: madam president in order to place the bills on the calendar under rule 14 i object to further proceeding en bloc. mr. president, sorry. the presiding officer: objection s having been heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. now, mr. president, this morning we resume consideration
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of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. there will be a vote at noon to invoke cloture on the substitute amendment which will move the process forward by the book. democrats are very eager to start voting on further amendments, but we need consent from the chamber to schedule those amendment votes. we worked all day thursday to come up with an agreement with our republican colleagues on such a package, but unfortunately were not able to. so we can get this done the easy way or the hard way. in either case, the senate will stay in session until we finish our work. it's up to my republican colleagues how long it takes. i yield the floor. mr. leahy: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i applaud what the majority leader just said. we are here. a lot of senators, both
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republicans and democrats, have rearranged schedules to be here. let's go forth and do the country's business. if people have amendments they want, bring them up. vote them up or vote them down. but let's get on and do our work. my appropriations committee staff worked very, very hard with both the republican and democratic side on the parts of this piece of legislation that required work from the appropriations committee. they have worked weekends, evenings, long, long days drafting and redrafting and redrafting to make sure that people on both sides approved of what they wanted. now the american people expect us to vote. we're here, let's vote. i'm happy to see republican
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amendments or democratic amendments come up. but it's one thing to talk about them on the news shows or on social media or trying to talk to the press in the halls and make sound bites. it's another thing to actually vote. let's vote. let's let people know where we stand. that's how the people in our state know where we stand. and frankly, those who are afraid they may cast a vote that creates problems, we're not here to cast only popular votes. i've cast more votes in all but one person in the history of this country. i cast almost 17,000 votes. i'm sure i can go back over those votes and find some and say in retrospect i might have voted the other way, but i voted. and what we're doing in not bringing this up and getting this done, we're trying to vote
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maybe. i don't know anybody in my state, republican or democrat, who elected senators to say we want you to vote maybe. no. we want you to vote. it doesn't mean the people in my state will agree on every vote. i hope that they'll agree on a lot of them. but i will represent my state, i will represent my conscience, i will represent the senate, and i will represent my oath of office. my oath of office is not to just sit here and do nothing but talk to the press and others. my oath of office is i respect the constitution and i'll vote. so, mr. president, let's hope they vote. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: morning business -- the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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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: today the senate will decide whether to move the bipartisan infrastructure bill closer toward a final vote. like i have said before, i am quite confident that out of 100 united states senators, there are 100 of us who believe the bill is imperfect. this isn't exactly the bill i would have written on my own in my office, and 99 of my colleagues would say the very same thing. this is a compromise product crafted by colleagues with big, principled differences, and the senate with the narrowest -- in a senate with the narrowest possible split. in my view, what our early
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statesmen called internal improvement is a core government responsibility. the american people need roads, bridges, ports, and airports to build their businesses, build their families, and build their lives. republicans and democrats have radically different visions these days, but both those visions include physical infrastructure that works for all of our citizens. as the kentucky farm bureau wrote to me recently, the investments this bill will make are not just necessary. in many cases, they are overdue. our country has real needs in this area. there are many outstanding amendments that are important that would improve this legislation, and that deserve votes before the senate is asked to vote on final passage of this bill. the full senate deserves its full chance to shape this
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important legislation. i hope senators can work together in a bipartisan way to get more amendments up and continue improving this important bill. our colleagues on both sides deserve to be heard. now, the democratic leader that is indicated that in a few days, he will thrust the senate into an ultrapartisan showdown over the staggering reckless taxing and spending spree that democrats want to ram through later this year. the size and the scope of chairman sanders' socialist shopping list will make every disagreement we've had in landing the infrastructure compromise look like a rounding error. new permanent welfare with no work requirements, reams of green new deal mandates, massive tax hikes that shrink wages and kill jobs, government meddling in child care that would privilege certain family choices over others, amnesty for illegal
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immigrants in the middle of a border crisis. at a time democrats' spending already, already has inflation hammering american families, republicans could not be more eager to debate our colleagues on all of these subjects. we can't wait to get democrats on record over many more trillions, trillions of dollars in reckless borrowing to fund socialist spending, on radical policies that families are not asking for. our philosophy is the floor opposite. republican policies would create good jobs, strong wage growth, and stable prices for middle-class families, just like our country had just a year and a half ago. the most pro-worker economy in a generation just a year and a half ago. republicans want to give working families the tools and the opportunities to build their
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lives as they want. democrats want to force them to live the lives the democrats want. the stakes in this debate could not be higher, and very soon the country will see it aired out here right on the senate floor. the democratic leader will be putting the full radicalism of the far left right here on this floor. he's making every one of his members vote on nothing less, nothing less than chairman sanders' dream shopping list. every american family will know exactly where their senator stands. now, on one final matter. i have already discussed how the biden administration has nominated a proud and proven opponent of america's constitutional rights to run the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives. i don't think there could be any more evidence that david chipman
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is the wrong choice to serve as the top federal administrator of firearms policy. he has a long record of hostility to lawful gun owners, a variety of complaints to those who have worked with him in the past. how could it get worse? mr. chipman has suggested radical and sweeping steps like banning private sales that are lawful, overriding state laws, and imposing sweeping restrictions on a class of weapons he has yet to clearly define. among some current and former a.t.f. agents, he has earned a concerning reputation as, quote, a bully, an activist whose extreme views threaten to undermine the trust the agency needs to conduct oversight. and sources within the a.t.f. have also come forward describing allegedly racially discriminatory comments the nominee made in the workplace regarding personnel decisions. so even a few days ago, it was
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not difficult to realize this as an instance in which the senate on a bipartisan basis should take a pass, but somehow in just the last few days, it has actually gotten worse. earlier this week, news reports indicated that mr. chipman had failed to disclose to our colleagues on the judiciary committee a tv appearance he made several years ago. and this wasn't just any tv appearance. mr. chipman had granted an interview to a propaganda network overseen by the chinese government. a new letter to the senate signed by seven former career a.t.f. agents summed it up this way. mr. chipman's views and record would, quote, create serious and long lasting problems for the bureau and the effective execution of its law enforcement mission. and the senate has spent quite
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enough time flirting with this profoundly misguided nomination. the american people deserve a trustworthy steward leading the a.t.f. with a record of respecting their rights and respecting his or her colleagues. it is long past time the biden administration revisits this decision and sends us somebody who fits that description. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 3684, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 100, h.r. 3684, an act to authorize funds for federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes.
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mrs. capito: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator idaho. oh, the senator from west
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virginia. mrs. capito: it's been a long couple of days, mr. president. are we in a quorum call, mr. president? the presiding officer: we are not. mrs. capito: thank you. mr. president, this week the senate has been considering historic infrastructure legislation. we've seen a lot of positives in this process. 22 eamgdz have -- amendments have been proceed and many of them have been adopted. on thursday we saw the process hit a snag and we have colleagues who sincerely be want to debate their remaining amendments, but we have objections that prevented our amendments from moving forward. in my view, that is unfortunate. i want everybody's voices to be heard. because a number of the amendments would improve this legislation, and we have consensus on both sides. i hope that we have a package that will receive votes before we pass this bill nienl. i supported an amendment that
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senator cornyn to use previously appropriated covid funding to finance infrastructure projects. when i began negotiating with the white house in april and may, this was one of the things that i put on the table with the president and i know the g-20 has also had this on the table with the president. so it's been a topic of great discussion here in the senate and with the white house as well. the cornyn-padilla amendment would unlock tens of billions of dollars, more for highway, transit and infrastructure. i plan to vote for this at noon because it makes important investments in our nation's future. i'm a west virginia and all west virginians and all americans will benefit from roads, bridges, broadband and other modes of core infrastructure that would be financed through this bill. but i believe that something more foundational is at stake here.
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we need to demonstrate to the american people that we can work together to pass legislation that benefits our country and i might add legislation that we passed more than a few times in the past. infrastructure is the perfect place to do that. senator carper and i led the environment and public works committee, we passed that out of our committee with unanimous support and we also passed a drinking water bill that passed out of our committee with unanimous support but also out of this body with 89 votes. both of those bills are included in this package in their entirety. bipartisan amendments are also included. i appreciate chairman carper's leadership and partnership throughout the process. i appreciate the efforts of our colleagues in the g-22 who worked with each other tirelessly and with the biden administration to get us to this point. we will soon have a chance to
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advance this infrastructure legislation to final passage. is this bill perfect? no. no compromised legislation ever is but it will make a big difference in modernizing our country's infrastructure. more than that, we will demonstrate that both republicans and democrats can come together and do big things that move our country forward. i have just a bit of a restoration to remind folks what is in this bill. i will try to speed this part up. the bill provides $303.5 billion for three years for federal highway programs, a 35% increase. that investment represents historic funding for our roads and bridges and provides states with the long-term certainty that they need and the flexibility they need to complete projects. the bill ensures that 90% of the formula -- 90% of the funding is distributed by formula, very predictable, it gives the states the certainty they need to prioritize projects. for west virginia, it means over
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$3 billion over five years. that is a huge investment for our state and much needed. this bill creates something that i'm passionate about the world transportation grant program to award $2 billion in competitive grants over five years to improve and expand roads and bridges in rural america. i'm especially excited this has a 25% set aside for the completion of the appalachian highway system, otherwise known as adhs. that means it can compete for $500 million in discretionary grants. it will move our project along significantly because we know that that project will get $195 million and this grant program opens up the possibility of more. this is a vital connection in our state for our tourism and our economy. it will also open us up even broader to the east coast.
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west virginia will receive $506 million to address our roads and bridges, addressing a critical need in our state and across the nation. this is the single largest investment in infrastructure since the creation of the interstate highway system. this is the area i have gotten the most questions about, what is this going to do for west virginia, for the digital divide areas that are still unserved. today education, tourism, health care all rely on high internet speeds. i launched my capito initiative in 2015 to expand broadband infrastructure in my state. many communities that lack adequate broadband are already struggling economically, it is impossible to compete for jobs if a community cannot offer good internet service, causing these areas to fall further behind. since the pandemic, rural
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america, as we know who lives in rural america, a great and wonderful place it off live, more people in congested areas realize there are more pluses in rural areas than what they might have a year ago. the bill invests $65 million to help fix the country's digital divide. it would have support for competitive grants like the usda reconnect program. additionally, this bill makes large investments in clean and safe drinking water, prices resources that will put west virginians to work cleaning up our abandoned mines and orphaned wells. every senator can tell similar stories about the investments this bill will make in his or her own state .this is a perfect time to come together towards the end of a summer that has been full of stops and starts and we need to pass this legislation that will benefit every american. i hope my colleagues will join me to advance this important
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legislation towards its passage. i yield the floor. i note 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. carper: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. carper: i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: i'd also ask unanimous consent to be able to complete my remarks this morning. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: thank you. mr. president, soon we're going to vote on cloture. we will move toward, i hope, concluding our consideration of the infrastructure investment and jobs act. i have spoken, as our presiding officer knows, over the last few days quite a bit as to why the legislation we're considering today is so important. i think that as we prepare to take this, we ought to take
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another minute or two and reflect on the bill's merits and the needs that it will address, important needs it will address for our country. in my opening statement several days ago, i reminded the senate that the state of our nation's infrastructure currently ranks, rates as a c-minus, according to american society of civil engineers. that's not the infrastructure national american people want or need in the 21st century. the jurisdiction of the environment and public works committee which senator capito and i are privileged to lead and which the presiding officer is a new member of, this bill includes language that will make historic investments in our roads, our highways, and our bridges. a 34% increase, if you will, over the last five years. the bill will also reauthorize our drinking water and water sanitation program at robust new levels. as we take this vote, i think it's important to reflect on our past efforts. i want to go back in time,
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mr. president, and why this vote is so important today. since i first joined the congress as a brand-new freshman congressman from delaware in 1982, we have updated our transportation laws in this country some eight times, eight times. in each of these efforts we tried to improve our policies, address gaps, incorporate new information and deliver needed resources. the modern era of these transportation laws began in 1991. george herbert walker bush was the president, and congress passed and then president bush signed into law legislation called the intermodal surface transportation efficiency act, or istea as it was called at the time. istea. until istea, that legislation was adopted, enacted and signed into law, as a matter of federal policy we divided transportation into separate systems. we had, on the one hand,
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highways. on the other hand we had rail. on the other hand we had transit. our policies didn't really consider them as a united, unified, integrated system, which is how most commuters and most travelers in our nation really thought it to be. istea sought to change that. istea sought to change that by requiring integrated regional planning of transportation systems that for, that accounted for and better facilitated connections amongst our highways, our rail, and our transit to enable more efficient freight movement and more efficient movement of people. it was around the same time we also integrated our transportation policy with the clean air act, which represented a major strengthening of our pollution laws to respond to urban smog, acid rain, ozone depletion and other air pollution problems. for the first time transportation planning was obliged to take into account pollution from mobile sources
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and take steps to reduce the considerable contribution of transportation to air pollution. today's legislation substantially builds on historic efforts to reduce dangerous emissions like greenhouse gases and particular matter that spew from too many of our cars, our buses and other modes of transportation. congress took another major leap in transportation policy a few years later. in 1998, in fact, when the transportation equity act for the 21st century, also known as t-21, which focused on improving safety while advancing america's economic growth and competitiveness. nearly ten years later, 2005, as transportation fatalities reached a ten-year height, over 43,000 people, over 43,000 people, president george w. bush, be son of herbert walker
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bush, signed into law the safe, accountable, flexible, efficient transportation equity act, a legacy for users. that's a long title. we found an acronym for it, safety loop. at it's core, the key to remember is that it provided transportation safety through the highway safety improvement program to reduce highway fatalities. in 2012, president obama signed into law the moving head for progress in the 21st century act known as map-21, responding to concerns about the growth of a number of programs, map-21 sought to simplify the highway program structure, provide more flexibility to states, while also increasing their accountability and focusing on performance outcomes, including, including safety, asset conditions, congestion, and air quality.
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congress reauthorized our transportation laws most recently in 2015, when president obama signed into law the fixing america's surface transportation act, or fast. the fast act focused on freight movement, supported new formula and competitive grants for highway and intermodal freight, as well as a focus on federal and state freight planning efforts. today our interstate system is still a critical national asset, carrying over a quarter of all motor vehicle travel in our nation. over one quarter. despite being only one percent of all lane miles. these highways have enabled the significant expansion of truck movement, including supporting local businesses, interstate commerce, international trade, and providing americans with access to low-cost goods and services. along with the many benefits of interstate highways have come indisputable costs.
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highways have development patterns that exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions. interstate highways divide communities often intentionally built through minority and low-income families becoming evidence of racism. today more than 36,000 people lose their lives each year on our roadways while we seek to maintain the mobility benefits of the federal-aid highway system. we must also acknowledge and address these significant detriments. mr. president, we have been at the hard work of transportation policy for a long, long time in this country, and we have enjoyed major success benefiting our people and our economy. and if we're honest with ourselves, we have made a few mistakes along the way. dividing communities with poorly considered projects and dividing a transportation sector that
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produces twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as any other country's transportation sector. we have an opportunity to learn from both success and failure, and we must account for new challenges that were not on our radar screens in the past, not the least of which are the serious threats of climate change and the obvious speck of environmental injustice. today we're rising to the challenge. the bill before us, the infrastructure investment and jobs act, includes, among other provisions, the largest federal investment in public transit in history, the largest investment in clean drinking water and waste water infrastructure in history, the largest investment in clean energy transmission in history, the largest investment in climate resiliency in history, and the largest investment in transportation
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electrification in history. infrastructure policy, madam president, is a little bit like an aircraft carrier. the presiding officer just left the podium, a retired navy captain, so am i. he and i both spent a fair amount of time in airplanes. he spent a fair amount of time in outer space as an astronaut. we both have spent some time in aircraft carriers. we know that you can't turn an aircraft carrier on a dime. with the infrastructure investment and jobs tact, we are, as we say in the navy, coming hard about. coming hard about. the carrier is turning. we're finally recognizing climate change and addressing it. we're recognizing some of the mistakes of infrastructure policy in the past and fixing them. before i call for us to invoke cloture, i am channeling today,
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of all people, winston churchill. i love churchill. i know he is quoted by a lot of my colleagues as well. one of my favorite quotes from churchill is the further back we look, the further forward we see. another one i especially like from churchill is you can always count on an american to do the right thing and end up trying everything else. it would seem as we have gone through this legislative process, we have tried just about everything else. we had a lot of surprisingly good debate here on this floor. the offering, senator capito, my colleague and partner leading the environment and public works committee has done a great job, but we have seen a lot of amendments offered. over 20 to this bill. i think most of them, a bipartisan bunch of them have been adopted. the other thing i would just offer from churchill is -- another one of my favorites, democracy is the worst form of
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government, divides by word of man. democracy is the worst form of government devised by the wit of man. this is a hard way to go. we have learned that again as we have gone through this process. as we prepare to maybe hopefully invoke cloture, i again want to say how much i have enjoyed working with our ranking member, senator capito, two west virginians, native west virginians who have found the common ground on these issues and worked hard to lead our team and a lot of other committees of jurisdiction. one of them led by another west virginian, joe manchin. i want to thank all those committees for their good work and for the leadership that we received from our leaders. with that having been said, let's go ahead and vote. i hope we will invoke cloture and take our critical next step. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke
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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 sinema substitute amendment numbered 2137 to calendar number 100, h.r. 3684, an act to authorize funds for federal aid, highways, highway safety programs and transit purposes -- programs and for other purposes, signed by 19 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 amendment numbered 2137, offered by the senator from new york, mr. schumer, for the senator from arizona, ms. sinema, and the senator from ohio, mr. portman, to h.r. 3684, an act to authorize funds for federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs and for other purposes
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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: on this vote, the yeas are 67, the nays
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are 27. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. the senator from delaware. mr. carper: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: could we have order, please. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. carper: thank you. earlier today i quoted churchill a couple of times appeared one of my favorites is, asked when thrown out of office after world war ii, he was asked by reporters, mr. churchill is this for you the end? he said this is not the end, this is not the beginning of the end, this is the end of the beginning. while we're grateful for everybody who voted for cloture, it's not the end. it takes us a step closer to the end, came in, took the time to get to the vote and we're prepared to take the next step,
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it involves additional negotiations, folks have amendments they want to offer, those not germane will fall away, but there are some who are germane and require a unanimous consent request. as far as i know, senator capito, feels the same way. with that, madam president, i call up amendment 3633 to h.r. 3684. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from delaware, mr. carper, proposes amendment numbered 2633 to h.r. 3684, on page 15 between lines five and six, interritory the following -- insert the following -- accept as otherwise provided, this act take effect on one day after the enactment of this date.
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mr. carper: madam president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. corn --. mr. cornyn: i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. order, please.
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mr. cornyn: madam president, now that cloture has been invoked on the substitute bill, we are one step closer to completing this product which has been the subject of bipartisan negotiation for, with the white house for quite some time. i know a lot of hard work has been put into this, and i want to thank all of our colleagues who have contributed to it. after much anticipation, we finally received the bill text earlier this week. there was a lot of what we expected to see. madam president, i'd ask for order. the presiding officer: senate be in order, please. take your conversations out of the chamber. mr. cornyn: after much anticipation, we finally received the text of the bill earlier this week. of course a lot of it was what we expected to see. funding for roads, bridges, ports, waterways, airports, and broadband. under normal circumstances, an
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infrastructure bill would go through a long and arduous committee process before ever coming to the floor. members of the committees of jurisdiction would have an opportunity to debate and offer amendments and get votes on their proposals to try to improve the bill at the committee level. this provides a very important part of the ability of everybody to be able to participate in the process, one that is denied members of the committees of relevant jurisdiction when a bill comes to the floor already negotiated. so one of the challenges is when you have 20 people who agree on something and then they bring it to the floor, and of course then the 80 who have not been part of that discussion want to participate and want to try to improve the underlying bill. so i hope that now that the cloture on the substitute has been invoked there will be an opportunity for us to vote on
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some additional amendments. i've been working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to identify new pay-for fs that being the be adopted as amendments. i want to talk specifically about an amendment that i worked on with senator padilla, the junior senator from california, to fund infrastructure projects in communities across our country without increasing the deficit. our amendment simply gives states and local governments the flexibility to use unspent covid relief funding on infrastructure projects. right now there are limitations that we put on that funding. of course at the time those limitations or guardrails were put on that funding, we didn't know how long this pandemic would last or what the actual needs were of the very states and local jurisdictions.
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so qualifying expenses include things that are directly related to the pandemic like covid-19 testing sites, vaccine p.s.a.'s and additional bed space for hospitals. but here's the rub, that funding cannot be used on expenses unrelated to the pandemic or items that were previously included in a budget. they must be new pandemic-related expenses. in theory and at the time, that made a lot of sense. after all, this funding was meant to bolster the fight against covid-19 in our communities, but not every community has the same need. in many places the most urgent needs aren't related to the pandemic because they have not been hit quite as hard as others, unfortunately, around the country. but some of the most urgent needs are what we're talking about here today -- infrastructure, roads, and bridges, and the like.
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the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. cornyn: we all know that the pandemic has interrupted infrastructure improvements across the country and it forced officials to put many of these projects on the back burner. maintenance, repairs, and construction projects have been put on hold, as you know, until there is enough funding to get things back on track. i've heard from my constituents in texas, state and local leaders who are frustrated by this lack of flexibility with the federal funding that they've already received or which they expect to receive. they simply like the option, not a mandate, but an option to use this money when and where it's needed most. but as i say, right now their hands are tied. many states and localities have relief funds on hand, but no necessary qualifying expenses. madam president, the senate is still not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. please take your conversations outside the chamber.
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mr. cornyn: many states, as i say, have relief funds on hand but no necessary qualifying expenses. they have to look at this big balance in their bank account knowing they can't actually spend it on some of their most urgent needs. that's especially the case in rural parts of the country, in places where covid numbers are thankfully low, leaders don't have the need or the opportunity to spend this money which we've already appropriated on the timeline set within that legislation. they simply don't have a need for their full range of pandemic-related resources that might be necessary in some parts of the country with higher case counts. so the amendment that senator padilla and i have offered would simply give leaders in rural and urban areas alike, where appropriate, the option, the option to spend the funding on
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necessary infrastructure projects. that could mean widening a highway, making safety improvements on a bridge, or expanding broadband access. urban areas could even use these funds for public transit improvement projects. state and local leaders know the needs of their community better than any of us here, and they should have the flexibility to spend that money where it's needed most. but, madam president, i think we've had a recent bit of evidence of how long it takes for congress to act before the money that we appropriate actually gets to the intended beneficiary. and to me, nothing is more exemplary of that than the eviction moratorium. congress appropriated $46 billion in rent relief, but if you look around the country, many of the intended beneficiaries of that rent relief have not yet seen that
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money. thus, the movement toward extending the moratorium. and i know just from my own experience in texas, after hurricane harvey, where congress appropriated billions of dollars in relief, it's taken literally years for the money to come from washington, d.c. to get to the intended beneficiary. so that's one of the biggest benefits of the amendment that senator padilla and i offered, is this money is readily available and does not -- again, as i said, add to the deficit or debt, but merely provides flexibility, which means they will be able to put that money to use more quickly on infrastructure projects. again, this is not a mandate. this is an option. anyplace that has new covid expenses to cover can and should use the money they have for that purpose. there's no question about that. but we simply give leaders the option to spend relief funds on urgent infrastructure projects
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that make -- may otherwise go unfunded. here's the other problem, madam president, is i know that many of our state and local leaders are sitting on these huge amounts of financial resources we've appropriated, and they're figuring out, well, if we don't spend it on something, then the federal government's going to claw it back or it may not just qualify for the expenditures that are already authorized. and so they will be under a lot of pressure to spend it on things that may be simply operating expenses, may not provide the long-term economic benefit that an infrastructure project would. so that's another benefit of giving them this flexibility, is that it will incentivize them to spend the money on the types of things we would hope they would spend the money on if they don't need it for covid-19. back in march nearly three dozen
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organizations wrote to secretary yellen, the treasury secretary, urging her to make transportation infrastructure an eligible expense. they talked about the impact of covid-19 on transportation revenue and noted that last year 18 states and 24 localities announced delays or cancellations of transportation improvement projects, totaling more than $12 billion. they also noted that the pandemic impacted every state and community differently, something that should be self-evident. and as for the flexibility, which they said will be critical to ensuring the funds are used expeditiously and with maximum impact. president biden's own transportation secretary has also suggested as much. in his testimony before congress, secretary buttigieg said that the american rescue plan has some flexibility in it that he thinks could be used to
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support road budgets that have been impacted. states and cities shouldn't be able to spend this money. they should be able to invest it, in the projects and resources they need the most. this is just simply common sense that i think all of us can get behind. it ensures that money that has already gone out the door, which will not add to our deficit or debt will be used to the maximum impact before the sunset brings that flexibility and that money, those resources to an end. and it puts decision making at the local level. local officials understand better than people in washington, d.c. what they need the most, and this gives them the flexibility to put that money to the most efficient and most effective use. this amendment is earning the support of a broad range of organizations across the country, and i'm proud to have worked with senator padilla to craft an amendment that both
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sides can get behind. today i hope this will be one of the amendments to receive a vote on the floor. we have to ensure that infrastructure investments are made fairly and paid for responsibly. a robust amendment process and commonsense bipartisan ideas like this one are the only way to get there. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: madam president, it was 1957 that there was a world event that changed my life and the lives of many others. i was just a kid in high school at the time. in fact, i wasn't quite in high school. but the russians decided to launch a satellite called sputnik, and that satellite, the size of a basketball, which emitted a tone as it flew through space, scared the world
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owfs to the point where -- out of us it to the point where the united states of america did something we thought was controversial but we felt was necessary. we decided that the federal government of the united states would loan money to students like durbin to go to college. because we were afraid of the russians. and we knew if they had a scientific advantage on us, it could mean we would lose a war which no one wants that to ever happen. and so we created here in washington something called the national defense education act. i'm sure that was carefully chosen to remind people that what we were doing was defending the country by loaning money to people like durbin to go to college. and i took advantage of it, those national defense education act loans had terms that most of us from that era remember very well. you didn't pay anything on your
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loan balance for the first year you were out of college, and then you had ten years to pay it off. at 3% interest. of course, those of us who took out the loans had to -- and took out the loans for college, in my case for law school as well, amassed this great debt and worried when the day came for graduation whether we would ever be able to pay it off. i remember saying to my wife, loretta, i just got all the national education act loans, they put them all together, i'm afraid to tell you what's happened. we have a debt of $8,000. for college and law school. students today don't believe that number, but that was the number. it scared us to death. that we wouldn't be able to pay it off in ten years. naturally, we did, and many others did as well. and the national defense education act really became the pillar of the emergence of
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higher education in america. of course, there were those who cheated the system and stories were rampant whether -- rampant. whether they were all true, i'm not sure. the story of the doctor who went into medical school, before he went into practice, he filed for bankruptcy and discharged all his federal student loans. i don't know if that ever happened, but it certainly was part of the urban legend around the national defense education act. and so over the years, there were efforts made to change the national defense education act to avoid abuse, and one of the things that was decided was that that loan to go to school would not be dischargeable in bankruptcy. and you have to ask the basic question of how many debt -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. durbin: you have to ask the
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basic question of how many debts are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. there are only a few -- alimony, child support, criminal finds, taxes. maybe one other, but i think student loans is the only one of that bunch that is a consumer loan that you can't discharge in bankruptcy. over the years, the number of -- the terms of the loans and the number of years that you were held back from filing bankruptcy changed. ultimately about ten years ago, the decision was made you could never file for bankruptcy. we held a hearing on student loan debt in the senate judiciary committee this week. i'm sorry senator cornyn has left the floor, but he and i have introduced a bill which has good chance, i think. we know that student loans are the fastest growing category of household debt in america. 45 million student borrowers in our country.
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in little under a decade, student loan debt has ballooned from $1 trillion to $1.7 trillion. the average student borrower now carries $30,000 in debt, and many, especially those who are swindled by the for-profit colleges, owe well over $100,000. americans of all ages are plagued by the debt. we've heard cases of grandmothers who said to their granddaughters, why of course i will cosign your student loan to learn that when the student granddaughter defaulted, grandma was responsible for it. for some, it's holding them back from buying a first home, starting a family, a business. for others, it means delaying retirement because of this debt. this is not an individual misfortune. the student debt crisis is a threat to our economy. federal reserve chairman jerome powell has warned that student loan debt may be a drag on our
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economy by preventing americans from basic fundamental consumer purchases -- cars, savings accounts for retirement. so we had a hearing in the judiciary committee, and we examined how difficult it is for student borrowers to get financial relief. they are very -- these are, as i said, one of the very few categories of debt you cannot discharge in bankruptcy. you see, if you buy a home or car and you fall on really hard times, you can declare bankruptcy and have all those debts discharged. if you like to gamble and you're not very good at it, and you end up running up great debt on your credit card and you file for bankruptcy, your gambling debts through your credit cards can be discharged. you can even buy a yacht and have that discharged if you haven't paid it off. but if you're a student borrower
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who despite your best efforts falls on hard times, lured into debt perhaps by steang a worthless for-profit college, a fresh start is not in the cards for you. we had diane bartlett testify before the committee. she is from richmond hills, georgia. 50 years old, mother of two. she has over $120,000 in student loan debt, much of it taken out for a worthless degree she received from the for-profit school ashford university. i mentioned that to senator grassley during the hearing because ashford university is a curious story. a small catholic college in iowa was about to go out of business, and the nuns were persuaded that there was a company that wanted to buy them. so they sold the campus to this company called ashford university. ashford had no intention of reopening the campus. what they basically did was start an online operation claiming the credit and the
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worthiness and the credibility of the previous college. well, we looked into it. in fact, it was tom harkin of iowa over ten years ago who investigated it and found out that ashford was a fraud. it was just generating huge profits for their c.e.o. and a few others, not providing anything nearly resembling higher education. ms. barda was a good person who worked hard. she had two degrees from a community college and then another college before she went for a master's degree at ashford university. that was her downfall. she talked about how she had to file for bankruptcy in 2012 after her husband lost his job as a commercial plumber. she managed to get relief from most of her debts but certainly could not get discharged from her student loans that she had taken out at ashford university,
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this know forious for-profit school. other student borrowers sent me their own stories. we've all heard them. angela from florida wrote i am a single parent on a single income living paycheck to paycheck. i have had the stress of student loans haunting me for well over a decade. i'm still being haunted. lisa in nevada wrote she had given up her passion teaching, i repeat, teaching because she needed to find a higher income job to pay off her student loans. she wrote it's absolutely disheartening when you try to better yourself in this country and you're punished and not rewarded. one more story. ann from washington state declared bankruptcy in 2000 because her student loan payments were so high, she couldn't afford to pay her bills. she wrote, i quote, i never go on vacations. i never married or had children for fear of burdening them with my debt. i am facing retirement with that threat still looming over my future.
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social security checks will be garnished for my student loans. this is clearly a crisis. fortunately, both republican and democratic members of the judiciary committee agree that we need to do something. congress has a responsibility to solve this problem. wouldn't it be worth a headline somewhere on some website that we actually solved a problem like this? before 1976, student loans were treated like any other type of loan in bankruptcy. if you were facing financial ruin, you could get relief. congress got the idea that student loan -- student borrowers were running to bankruptcy court right after they had taken off their gowns and mortar boards and trying to wiggle out of their financial obligations. that's more anecdote than fact, but it was prevalent. still, congress began passing laws that made it harder to discharge student loans. since 1998, student borrowers can only discharge federal student loans by proving they
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suffer from something called undue hardship. well, you would think the cases i just read to you would be undue hardship, wouldn't you? people so deeply in debt that they can't get out of it and are making life choices that are terrible. here is the issue. it is nearly impossible to prove undue hardship and discharge your student debt. that's your only escape now. in fact, in 2017, "the wall street journal" found only four cases, four cases in the entire country of bankruptcy judge discharging student debt for undue hardship. for years, i have asked the department of education, the collection agency, to change the way they challenge these undue hardship cases. i'm still pushing on them. but congress needs to do its part. another witness who joined us on tuesday was my state attorney general kwame raul. he has been an advocate for student borrowers for a long
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time. he talked about the students be deceived and defrauded by the schools, particularly the for-profit colleges and universities. well, we have decided to do something about it. we introduced a bill called fresh start through bankruptcy. it will allow struggling borrowers to seek a bankruptcy discharge for their federal student loans after a waiting period of ten years. that's a long time. if you can't pay off that loan in ten years and you believe there is no other recourse, you could file for bankruptcy and have it discharged. our bill also includes another with this concept. it includes important provisions to hold accountable educational institutions, particularly these notorious for-profit colleges with consistently high default rates and low repayment rates. two numbers you need to remember, and that's it, to understand for-profit colleges and universities.
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eight. what percentage of american high school graduates go to for-profit colleges and universities? 8%. next question. what percentage of student loan defaults in the united states are by students from for-profit colleges and universities? 30. 8% of high school grads, 30% of student loan defaults. why? because these notorious, awful schools drag these young people moo a -- into a debt they can never get out from under. if they finish, so-called finish and graduate from these schools, they find that they can't get the jobs they were promised. their lives are virtually ruined. so we are basically saying it's time that these schools be held accountable. at this point, the fresh start bankruptcy will provide a meaningful timeline to student borrowers who have no other options. it is a breakthrough. this is the first bipartisan bill the senate has had in my
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memory to restore student borrowers' ability to discharge their loans in bankruptcy. i want to thank senator cornyn, republican of texas. we kind of jokingly say it's one of those situations where you're on stage announcing your bill and you turn to one another and say have we both read this bill? well, we have and we understand it. we are also going to consider an element that was raised during a hearing by one of our expert witnesses of defining what undue hardship is. right now, it appears the courts couldn't recognize it in any form. certainly our case is. i talked about a quadriplegic veteran, disabled, unable to work who was lured into one of these for-profit school scams, ends up in debt. shouldn't they be able to discharge that student loan? there is no question they will be able to find some great-paying job in the future.
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they strug ld to basically face up to their illnesses. we hope they have the very best future. but even then, it's tough to get out from under the debt. i hope this is the first of many steps that we will take in the committee and other places on a bipartisan basis to deal with this challenge. madam president, one other point. one way for students to avoid becoming buried in student loan debt in the first place is be very careful, particularly with the for-profit colleges and universities. and secondly, take advantage of the affordable alternative community colleges. community colleges are an underused superpower of our economy. they help students gain knowledge and skills they need to thrive. they prepare workers to compete in the 21st century. i totally support president biden's plan to build back better and provide every high school graduate to be able to continue their studies through community college without debt. the same goes for displaced workers who want to learn new skills to get a better job to
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support their futures. americans will be able to obtain two-year degrees and specialized certificates without taking on mountains of debt. in the greatest country in the world, a college education shouldn't be a luckary. it should be guaranteed to everyone. that's the only way we can launch a new era of american prosperity and truly build back better after this pandemic. madam president, i -- i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. manchin: i ask to lift the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. manchin: i want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for showing the united states and the entire world that the united states senate is not broken. actually we're doing fine. we can work together. we can also come together and accomplish big things and we did with this americans investment in infrastructure. american has not seen this type of infrastructure investment in
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the last 30 years. talked about it lot, haven't seen anything. polls have shown the american people are overwhelmingly supportive of this infrastructure deal. americans of both political parties know it's long past time to make this investment. they want their roads repaired so their children are safe on their buses. they want better internet service so they can connect and compete in the 21st century. it's just unbelievable what we can do. this is clean water and upgraded sewer systems. you would think in the 21st century this stuff would not be a void in america but it really is. this is the largest long-term jobs bill in america. it will create good-paying long-term jobs over the next eight to 12 years. if you want to make sure we don't -- we hit the highs and lows, this bill does that, the
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largest clean water infrastructure in the history of our country, the largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. it's the largest investment in energy transmission on history and puts our money where our mouth is on technologies that are critical for the future. and it's the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of amtrak. and our bipartisan infrastructure package does not raise taxes on everyday americans. it does not. a large piece of this bipartisan infrastructure bill came out of the energy and natural resources committee, which i am privileged and honored to chair. we reported the energy infrastructure act out of our committee with a bipartisan vote after, after holding a legislative hearing and a robust amendment process. that's called regular order. it's something we've heard about for many years. we just haven't seen it for a long time, and it is working. the energy infrastructure act will create good-paying jobs and demonstrate the energy technologies needed to reduce emissions while maintaining
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affordable, reliable and dependable energy and our nation's positions a a global energy leader. i have said all along, mr. president, that the united states of america is now energy independent. we must fight to main that position. we should not be held captive by any foreign entity or any foreign country that tbaisically we're depending any type of supplies the american people need. energy is one of our greatest. we can do it cleaner and better than ever. i've always said you cannot eliminate your way to a cleaner environment. you can innovate your way to a cleaner environment, and we have proven that and we can do a lot more do. it builds on the great work already done in my home state of west virginia and your state of virginia, mr. president, to demonstrate advanced geothermal technologies and establish a reliable u.s. based rare earth elements supply chain. i've had consideration, i've had some pause on us moving so
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rapidly into interest vehicles. my -- into electric vehicles. my reason for pause has been this, we do not produce the rare earth minerals, the rare earth minerals that's needed to build these batteries, and we've got to be very, very careful that we don't put our transportation system, our transportation mode in america in the hands of foreign supply chains. we can be held very, very captive. i remember the 1970's when the oil embargo from the cartel, oil cartel, oil embargo basically shut us down, shut our businesses down. then we had rapid inflation coming after that. just horrible. importantly, the legislation also reauthorizes abandoned mine and reclamation fee in southwest virginia and all of west virginia we have a tremendous amount of mines that produce energy this country needed to be the super power of the world. now it's far beyond time for us to clean up, and this is something we can do, and this bill does that. it was set to expire in
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september for an additional 13 years. we've extended that while investing $11.3 billion into reclaiming these abandoned coal mine lands which an awful lot of water and things of that sort have been harming for a long, long time needs to be fixed. it also funds the demonstration of clean energy on the abandoned mine lands and authorizes grants for manufacturers to locate in coal communities. these coal communities around the country bear the scars of the work that powered our nation to greatness, and this investment will clean up those areas and provide new economic opportunities. the bill also shores up our electric and reliability grid system. our grid is basically been around for a long time, and with all the new, new technologies coming on and all of the renewable power, that's not always produced in areas where we have the grid system, and it's time for us to expand and making sure our grid system is able to deliver the energy our country needs.
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the bipartisan energy infrastructure act authorizes $110 billion, much of which is also funded and it's a vital component of the infrastructure package. so we are not just talking about it. we're putting a lot of money into upgrading the grid system. this bill will do much good across the united states. let me give you the historic investment and the needs of our nation. $110 billion dollars for the roads and bridges. $65 billion for broadband access. $66 billion for railroads. $25 billion for airports. $55 billion for drinking water and waste water systems. i don't know what infrastructure is if you don't call that infrastructure. this is as good as it gets. it's something that we all have talked about for many, many years. my state of west virginia benefits from this -- from this bipartisan infrastructure bill. it will help expand broadband access across west virginia with a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across our state, including providing
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access to at least 258,000 west virginians who currently lack it. because of our terrain -- and i think you have been there many, many times, you understand what we are dealing with, it's real challenging. but if we could just commonsense approach -- i have always said this. if during franklin delano roosevelt, when he took over after the great depression, if he could electrify, rural electrification, electrified america, if he can do that in the 1930's, surely we can make sure every household has fast, high-speed internet service. we can make that happen. we're going to use the same blueprint that was used many, many years ago, almost 100 years ago. we believe that the number is much higher than 258,000, but here's again, i'm urging the f.c.c. to fix the coverage of the maps. the maps are not accurate. they haven't been accurate for years. i will never forget i had one of
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the chairmen of the f.c.c. of my state one time, we were talking. i said why don't you meet at a certain place in my state. we'll have a meeting. i want to talk to you. he was kind. he drove over there with his staff. i said why don't you call back to your office and ask if you have any messages for you. i said your map shows you are covered. i said you can use any phone you want, any service you might have. he says my goodness, i didn't know. i said, sir, this is exactly what we are dealing with. the maps are not accurate. west virginians are getting left behind. there are 543,000, 31% of the people in west virginia that will be eligible for the affordability, connectivity benefits. if people can't afford the cost, you have a problem. this goes along the same line as liheap, help people with utilities. basically are working hard, trying to make it but have a hard time. this makes sure everyone can connect and basically benefit from this opportunity.
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west virginia also has some of the worst roads in the nation. this bipartisan bill will repair and rebuild our roads and bridges. west virginians have 1,545 bridges. and over 3,200 miles of highway in poor condition. since 2011, commute times have increased by 6.5%. on average, each driver pays $726 per year in additional costs due to repairs by driving on roads that have needed repair. that's simply up acceptable. truly, truly it shows the deferred maintenance that we let go for far too long. based on formula alone, west virginia will receive $3 billion for federal aid, highway programs, and $506 million for bridge replacement and repairs. we have the greatest need of bridge replacements. the reason why in the 1930's,
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the constitution of west virginia changed during the great depression, and basically everything was put on the state. before that, local counties, communities, they were all responsible to a certain extent, but when the depression hit, the constitution was changed in 1932, the height of the depression. they said this is the states' responsibilities. we can't pay them anymore. the state has a tremendous obligation here. we want to make sure we help them. west virginia can also compete for the $12.5 billion bridge investment program for economically significant bridges and nearly $16 billion of national funding in the bill dedicated for major projects that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities. and we have to address public transportation in mountain states. west virginians who take public transportation spend an extra 77% of their time commuting, commuting. and nonwhite households are five times more likely to commute via public transportation. it's a fact. and we have to address these
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facts and fix them. 32% of the trains and other transit vehicles in the state are past their useful life. a third are past their useful life. based on formula funding, west virginia would expect to receive $196 million over five years to improve public transportation, which is desperately, desperately needed. these investments are vital to bringing good-paying jobs to our state of west virginia and your state of virginia and all of our states in this great country of ours. and spurring economic development like we have never seen before, solid economic development, not just sending checks, not just people receiving checks. people receiving an opportunity, the dignity of work. the ability to be able to do what need to be done in order for you to survive and sustain your quality of life. i'm incredibly proud of our bipartisan group of senators who have worked together day and night to hammer out a compromise that will address our infrastructure needs without
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going overboard, and i will remind everyone, not one senator got everything they wanted, but we all got what we needed. this is how compromise works. this is what this body was made for. this is what the senate and why the senate is called the most deliberative body. it is hard when you want to basically take every opportunity to work with every single senator here to make sure you can help them with the problems and needs they have in their own states, and that's what we have done. i have always said the best politics is good government. everybody worries about oh, i'm not sure if that is good for my politics. let me tell you, you do something good for all, it's good for you. it will be the best politics you have ever done. we do something good, we all take credit for it. i have seen people take credit for things they voted against because it was good, it worked well. it doesn't bother me at all. i'm glad. maybe they won't fight us as hard the next time. they might join us. who knows? i look forward to passing this
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important legislation with strong bipartisan support. i just think, mr. president, this is a moment for our country. this is extremely important for our country to show that we can still work together, to show that we are united when it comes to the needs. i have always said there are a few things in this country that basically unites us. one has always been our military. we want to support our military, our law enforcement officers, our firemen, all the people that run into harm's way when everyone else is running away from harm's way. those people are special, very special. i have always said we all seem to rise always for that. now we have one other. we have infrastructure that unites us. i have never seen a road in my state, your state, or anywhere in the country that had a bad road or a bad pothole that busted my tire that had a democrat or a republican name on it. it would get the republican as well as it would get me and you. that's why this brings us together. we all have these needs. as governors, we had the same
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needs. we used to talk across the board, whether it be education, whether it be highways, whether it be different things that we needed in our state, that we all had the same concerns and problems with. we never worried about a republican or democrat being a governor. you had the same problems we all had. and we shared successes and the challenges and how to overcome those challenges. this is who we are as americans. and how we have become so divided, i don't know. and it worries me. and the reason i say this is probably the most important bill that we have worked on in many, many years, because it's the most difficult, challenging times of our life. our country has never been more divided than this today, and we need something to bring us together. i am so thankful that president biden has taken this piece of legislation as his own and gone around the country and how important this piece of legislation is for not just his administration but for the entire country. he has been able to identify that. democrats and republican. we would have had 20 republicans today to get on the bill. everybody is afraid someone is going to get mad and leave.
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we kept getting it. as they see the support back home, it will continue to create more momentum. that's what we need. this is extremely as important as anything we do from this day forward, to pass a bipartisan bill, show the people that basically yes, we are all americans first, and we're going to take care of deferred maintenance that we let go for far too long because of politics. we have set politics aside to take care of america. so i encourage all of my friends, please, look and see what this bill does for america. look and see what this bill does for your state. you will be surprised. and i think we tried to help everybody that we could, and we will continue to work together. thank you, mr. president. and i -- i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. -- i understand first hand the importance of quality infrastructure. it was essential to attracting good jobs to my state so i'm in complete agreement that shoring up our hard infrastructure is a worthy cause. this bill does some of that, and that's good. but there are both good ways and bad ways to achieve noble ends and the question is, what's the best way to achieve this goal. and my frustration is with the method and the vehicle being used here. the first problem is the bill's sponsors repeatedly said it would be paid for. in fact, it's not.
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and it's more than a little bit off. it's over a trillion dollars short. that's almost seven times the budget of my home state of tennessee. we waited weeks for the text of this legislation and before the text even existed, the democrat leader forced the senate to vote on proceeding to it. there's absolutely no reason for rushing this process an attempting to eliminate scrutiny of the bill other than the democrats' self-imposed driven timeline. there will be more on that later. the text, all 2,700-plus pages of it was finally made available to us six days ago. senate has been able to consider that this week. but the senate continued to wait all week for the congressional budget office's analysis of what it would cost. the congressional budget office is the entity that congress has agreed is responsible for score keeping on what legislation will
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cost the american people. let's keep in mind that meeting the definition of paid for in the c.b.o.'s eyes doesn't always make sense to the average american. for instance, c.b.o. allows spending to be offset by projected savings that won't happen for ten years. c.b.o. can allow savings occurring naturally to count effectively as new savings for purposes of scoring a bill. mr. hagerty: the point is this kind of scoring is designed to make it easier for a bill to be scored as paid for at least on paper. as an example, the university of penn's penn-wharton budget model estimates this legislation would actually add $351 billion in deficit spending, an even higher total than the c.b.o. estimate. the point is even using these scorekeeping advantages, the c.b.o. has made it clear, this bill isn't paid for. i understand why the democratic
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leadership kept the c.b.o. score under wraps until thursday. it showed that the bill fell far short of ambitions. the c.b.o. says that it misses the mark of being paid for by a cool quarter of a trillion dollars. as an aside, i found it incredible that despite or perhaps because of getting this news on thursday afternoon, democrats tried to accelerate the passage of this bill later that same day instead of going through the normal multiday process for debating and enacting a bill they tried to rush it through in the middle of the night. i objected to accelerating this process through on thursday because the senate must carefully consider what it's doing. now the proponents of this bill claim that the c.b.o.'s analysis is wrong. no matter how much explaining they do, the senate agreed on the umpire before the game started. to this end, if this bill is paid for, why will we have to
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waive budget act requirements later on in this process? the senate is going to have to pass this bill by waiving the budget act or the pay-go requirements. that's not paid for. most of us probably won't be around when the bill comes due for this never-ending deficit spending here in washington, but sadly our children and our grandchildren will be. the politicians in washington spend now to buy votes, but conveniently won't be around to deal with the consequences. we can do hard infrastructure. again, that's a worthy goal. but we can do it without shoveling more debt on the backs of our children and to our grandchildren. indeed if we just limited this bill to hard infrastructure, it would be paid for. as i said, there are good and bad ways to achieve noble ends. the second reason that i'm opposed to this legislation is because of its big-government top-down approach. it includes many half-baked components that deserve far more
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scrutiny. rather than compete against china, using our unparalleled innovation, our ingenuity, our technology, we're substituting massive government control to dictate, to fund and to decide winners and losers. that's not the american way. we're using the crypt currency market as a pay for. have we vetted how this new regulation and taxation will affect this rapidly developing industry? we wind up ceding this industry to others because of this regulation. what's the point of even having committees in the senate with expertise in certain matters if the most significant legislation that passes this body doesn't even go through them? the whole point of committees is to use them, use these committees to carefully scrutinize and refine important legislation. use the committees to prevent unintended consequences that result from rushed legislation. yet this is a 2,700-page bill
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that is going through no committees. once again we have to pass it to find out what's in it and then learn what kind of unintended consequences we can expect. the third reason i'm frustrated wblg legislation is because -- with this legislation is because it's tied to what i believe is the democrats' real ambition which is their multitrillion-dollar march to socialism that they will unveil right after this infrastructure legislation is passed. democrats have admitted this. this is their plan. the far-left wing of the democrat party which is effectively calling the shots these days is demanding that democrats here in congress spend trillions of dollars to reshape american society. to make american citizens more dependent on their government. their aim seems to be to turn the united states into a scher scher -- sclerotic government-
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controlled state. this is the third leg of the stool of the democrats plan. the first leg is to pack the supreme court so the constitution no longer gets in the way of the plan. the second is to federalize and take over voting laws and procedures, ensuring democrats will never lose another election, propelling themselves into perpetual power over both the legislative branch and the executive branch. and third, they want to remake the united states economy and america's relationship with government into one where americans begin to look to government for everything, from green new deal programs to day care. in this world, american citizens will be less free, less prosperous, but more captive and hooked on government programs. that means they'll be more dependent on democrats and the institutions that they control. so far democrats have been unable to build legs one and two of the stool, but they're actively trying.
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president biden has a court-packing commission ongoing, and the democratic leader is today working on scheduling more votes on the election takeover. they're desperate to appease left-wing extremists that have all of the energy in their party because they need these extremists' support to win elections. yet they've stalled out on their first two goals, so they've come up with a scheme to build the third leg of their stool. they previewed phase one of this scheme in march when they spent $1.9 trillion in the name of covid relief. of course 90% of it had nothing to do with covid. it was really just a payoff to the most loyal political supporters. sadly, it's now causing the highest inflation we've seen in decades. this inflation is a daily tax on every american who has to buy goods and services here in america. but phase two of the scheme is even more devious. step one changed the conversation to trillions, with
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a t. make billions sound small. condition the congress, condition the media, condition the american public to these big numbers. remember, $1 trillion is an astronomical number, and our children are going to have to pay for it. step two, tell the united states that america needs infrastructure, but then redefine the term infrastructure to include government dependency programs, really muddy it up. step four, when more reasonable democrats in the senate balk at some of these more expensive or egree jus items promise them a two-track progress, one for hard programs and one for social programs. step five, negotiate as much of your wish list as you can. they got some of it into this bill but not all of it. they will put the rest of it into the wish list and put that wish list into the government dependency bill that's yet to come. step six, pass the infrastructure bill through the senate as quickly as possible.
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drop a nearly 3,000-page bill danld that it be passed -- and demand that it be passed immediately before we can understand or scriewt niez what's in -- scrutinize what's in it. the trojan horse is through the gate. step seven hold that infrastructure bill hostage in the united states senate until everything you couldn't get into the infrastructure bill, particularly meaning the trillions of dollars in government dependency programs are passed through the senate. therefore, nancy pelosi has promised that this bill will never become law until it's joined at the hip with the multitrillion-dollar socialist bill. more on that in a minute. step eight, say that the president won't sign the infrastructure bill into the law if it's not accompanied by trillions of dollars in government dependency programs. president biden already did this before he clumsily walked it back. but we saw and we heard what he was thinking. step nine, to get the government dependency programs part passed, circumvent the filibuster in the senate by
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abusing an arcane loophole called reconciliation. reconciliation was intended to save taxpayer dollars and to assure package of an -- passage of an annual budget for the federal government. but, no, they're using this process, they're abusing this procedure to pass trillions of dollars of government dependency program with only 50 democrat votes. step ten, give reasonable democrats political cover to support the parliamentary trick and the government dependency spending by saying it unlocks the ability for their hard fought bill to pass the senate and being held hostage in the house to finally get through the house and to the president's desk. wait a minute, what just happened? abracadabra, the american people are so confused by the democrats poch sleight of hand they don't notice their wallets have been stolen and their country has been fundamentally changed. my question is simple, if these
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policies, these spending are so good, why does getting it done take a parliamentary house of mirrors? there can't be a bipartisan deal on infrastructure if it's an act into law which requires later tacking on all the socialist wish list items that got excluded from the deal. democrats have telegraphed these plans. you just have to pay attention. the president of the united states, right after announcing the infrastructure deal, said it would be held hostage on his desk without the trillions of dollars of government dependency spending alongside it. president biden specifically said this, i expect that in the coming months this summer before the fiscal year is over that we will have voted on this bill, the infrastructure bill, as well as voted on the budget resolution. but if only one comes to me, this is the one that only comes to me, i'm not signing it. it's in tandem. later in response to a question, president biden revealed, look, the bipartisan bill from the very beginning was
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understood there was going to have to be the second part of it, he said. i'm not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting about the rest. he's later tried to muddy up the waters on this because he said too much, but if you read his cleanup statement carefully, he never took back his vow. he never said he would sign the bipartisan bill without having alongside it the partisan multitrillion-dollar bill. the speaker of the house has said the same thing repeatedly. on june 24, she said, there ain't going to be a bipartisan bill without a reconciliation bill. she added again, quote, let me be really clear on this, we will not take a bill in the house until the senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill. a month later on july 22, speaker pelosi said again, quote, we will not take up the infrastructure bill until the senate passes the reconciliation measure. it only takes one democrat to end this insanity, to stand up
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and say he or she won't participate in this scheme. that would change the entire tenor of this debate and this process. so while i believe in hard infrastructure, i cannot participate in doing it this way. first, by including in this bill a bunch of things that aren't hard infrastructure, and the result of that is throwing a quarter of a trillion dollars more debt at our children and our grandchildren. and secondly, and most importantly for the future of this country, enabling this quadruple bank shot attempt by democrats to shred their fantasy by a house divided by the narrowest of margins by holding this bill once it passes hostage in the house. the stakes here are too high. america is an exceptional nation. we're distinct from all of us throughout history. we're exceptional because we provided more freedom and opportunity than any other. president lincoln called it the
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last best hope of earth. ever since it's fulfilled that promise for countless generations. we must fight to preserve our american system and the american dream, not in a tornado of hurried legislative activity that will seal its decline. i'm asking my colleagues to fight for this country's future. our children and grandchildren deserve to have the same sort of wonderful opportunity that our parents and grandparents gave us. we need to make certain that they have a future for them that is better than today. and we're duty bound to make certain that it happens. that's why i ran for office. let's work together on infrastructure, out from under the rapidly approaching cloud of socialism. let's make this happen a different way. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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