Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  November 1, 2021 2:59pm-7:58pm EDT

2:59 pm
of the pleasures of my job and i note it is for sandra jones. don't necessarily think you see on cable news represents where we are in the country. when you talk to people, i see this around my state and i know others do as well, what you see is hard-working folks who love our country and care about their families and their neighbors and friends and who want to do the right thing. we have phenomenal people across our country and of course people disagree on all sorts of issues but people want to move into the country in the right direction and i believe in our democracy. what we need to make sure happens is our political leaders live up to that and make sure we fight for them. >> we will leave this effect to take you lift to the u.s. senate as we continue our 40 year commitment to bring you live coverage of congress. today's senators consider a
3:00 pm
number of nominees for the u.s. circuit court judges both are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. eastern today. now live to the floor 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. almighty god, make us instruments of your love. lord, use our senators today as ambassadors of reconciliation.
3:01 pm
direct them in their work, surrounding them with your gracious love. let all their plans and purposes be in accordance with your holy will. may they desire to serve you and country with faithfulness. lord, enlighten them with your wisdom so they will find solutions to the problems that challenge our nation and world. make them good stewards of their calling, guiding them to use their influence for your glory. we pray in your gracious name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in the pledge of allegiance.
3:02 pm
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. ms. hirono: mr. president? the president pro tempore: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. ms. hirono: mr. president? the president pro tempore: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: i note the absence of a quorum. the president pro tempore: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
3:03 pm
3:04 pm
3:05 pm
3:06 pm
3:07 pm
3:08 pm
3:09 pm
3:10 pm
3:11 pm
3:12 pm
3:13 pm
3:14 pm
3:15 pm
3:16 pm
3:17 pm
3:18 pm
3:19 pm
3:20 pm
3:21 pm
3:22 pm
3:23 pm
3:24 pm
3:25 pm
3:26 pm
the presiding officer: mr. major ity leader. mr. schumer: last week --. the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: now last week, madam president, president biden unveiled the framework for his build back better plan that will make historic investments to help millions of working and l middle-class families achieve the american dream in the 21st century while taking new and bold steps to tackle the climate crisis. over the weekend i continued diligent, assidous negotiations with my senate colleagues, the speaker and the white house as congress prepares to take action on the president's proposals. we are still talking and working through important details and making good progress, and i want to thank all my colleagues for their diligence, their
3:27 pm
expertise and their commitment to getting something done. as i've always said, nobody is going to get everything they want in the deal, but it will have some l things that everyone wants. even as legislative text gets finalized, the framework itself contains very, very good and important things that will make a tremendous difference in the lives of the american people. it will help the middle class stay in the middle class. it will help those struggling to get to the middle class get there a little more easily. it will really help americans in ways that washington has not helped americans in quite a few years. one way it will help is child care. tens of millions of american families struggle with the unaffordable costs of taking care of their children. for some families, child care can cost over $10,000 a year, forcing parents to make the painful choice between going to work and looking after their kids. the consequences for our economy
3:28 pm
with its shortage of workers, for parents, and for our kids are severe and long-lasting. the framework, with its historic investments in child care and universal pre-k, would finally, finally provide working and middle-class families with the urgently needed help they need so parents, particularly women can enter the workplace, earn a living and not worry about whether their kids are being well taken care of. the president's framework also makes long overdue progress in the fight against climate change. it contains the largest investment to address the climate crisis in american history. american families from one coast to the other are in desperate need of relief from the consequences of climate change. wildfires in the west make it harder for people to breathe, especially those with conditions like asthma. flooding in the midwest destroys crops and homes and local economies. and poison fragile ecosystems
3:29 pm
and even the drinking of safety water. extreme storms in the winter make it harder for those without proper heating to stay safe, as we saw tragically in texas. and of course the hurricanes and tropical storms on the east coast have caused regular flooding, the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time, occurring as recently in the mid-atlantic this weekend. so we have an opportunity, a real opportunity to take unprecedented action to protect americans against these threats. and while there will be so much more to do, this is a bold step in the right direction. as the president spoke before the world today in glasgow, his framework is proof the united states is ready to once again lead by example against the greatest existential crisis of our time there's so much more to like in this framework. as i have said repeatedly, when this bill is passed, it will be fully paid for and reduce,
3:30 pm
reduce inflationary pressures, something that has been firmed by many, many economists. it will be fully paid for and at the same time reduce some of the bottlenecks and high costs that people have. it will lower people's costs in many ways, and particularly we are making regular progress to lower prescription drug prices as we work to refine the agreement. the framework will also make health care more affordable, cut taxes for working and middle-class americans and most importantly provide long-sought ladders for families to climb up to the middle class and give them the stability needed to stay in the middle class once they get there. it will lower costs for people in many different ways, one of our main goals. this will be just what the american people need and will not be -- will not be inflationary. so the announcement last week
3:31 pm
from the president brought us one step closer towards our goal of delivering help to the american people at every stage of their life. we're going to keep working this week to get this legislation over the finish line. democrats are committed to rewarding the trust that the american people have placed in us. now on judges and nominations. madam president, last week the senate confirmed seven -- seven more judges to serve lifetime appointments on the federal bench. just about all of them were people of color, all but two were women. among them were -- were more federal defenders, civil rights lawyers, election experts. they will bring sorely needed diversity to the judiciary, not just personal diversity, demographic diversity, as important as that is, but professional diversity as well, adding to the breadth and width and knowledge possessed by the
3:32 pm
courts. it is no longer a bench that we are appointing that is simply prosecutors, partners in large law firms, but many, many others from walks of life with different and needed perspectives on the federal bench. and today we're going to pick up right where we left off. later this afternoon, we'll vote to confirm beth robinson, of vermont, to serve on the u.s. court of appeals for the second circuit and toby j. heytens to serve on the court of appeals. mr. hytens -- he's regarded by both sides of the aisle as a superbly skilled lawyer and impartial thinker. and justice robinson, who has spent ten distinguished year on the vermont supreme court, the senate is presented with another dedicated, experienced and
3:33 pm
historic nominee, she would be the first openly gay woman to serve not just on the second circuit, but on any second circuit in the country. another barrier we're tearing down. we're glad of tearing did down the -- tearing down the barriers. i look forward to her confirmation today and in the weeks and months to come. senate democrats will press ahead to bring balance back to our federal courts with diverse, mainstream, qualified and impartial jurists. now, on the john lewis voting rights act and cloture. madam president, the fight to protect our democracy from voter suppression and election subversion continues in the united states senate. later this evening, i will file cloture on the motion to proceed to the john lewis voting rights advancement act, setting up a
3:34 pm
vote to take place on wednesday. this bill, which my friend, senator leahy and durbin worked to put together will restore the key protections of the voting rights act, the crowning achievement of the civil rights era that were wrongly gutted in one of the worst decisions the supreme court made in a long time in 2013, the shelby decision, done by a conservative majority on the court. specifically, the john lewis voting rights advancement act would update the preclearance protections that prohibited states with records of voter suppression to making changes to election law without federal approval. recent history makes absolutely clear that we need these protections on the books. thanks to the shelby decision, we now live in an era of increased voter suppression in the united states. after that decision, states like texas, north carolina, sadly
3:35 pm
sprang into action to make it harder for minority, younger and lower-income people to vote. many more states followed years later and we are suffering the consequences of that decision to this day. few of the justices had thought, i believe, that we didn't need these preclearances because there's no more voter discrimination. lord, were they wrong. we must reverse their awful shelby decision. if there's anything that merits debate here in the senate, it's protecting the precious right of americans to participate in our elections. since its original passage, the voters rights act has been updated five times -- five times with the support from both democrats and republicans. we should likewise proceed this time around on this time-honored measure. i want to make clear, if the senate votes to proceed on to the john lewis voting rights advancement act, i am prepared to offer a full-fledged debate
3:36 pm
befitting this great chamber. republicans will be given the chance to raise their objections, to offer amendments and make changes to the bill. i know that both parties have serious disagreements on this important issue, so we want to hear from the other side what they propose. but for that to happen, we need to start debate first. we need to vote to allow the senate to work through its process. we need 60 votes simply to say that we will debate this issue. we'll get a chance to see what happens this week. madam president, time is really getting short for the senate to take action on voting rights before americans go to polls in the 2022 elections. it is essential that we restore preclearance protections before the start of next year when states are set to consider another round of restrictive voting rights laws when their legislative session start in the spring. indeed the dangerous and
3:37 pm
draconian republican laws we've seen in 2021 are only the beginning unless this body takes action and are a serious -- very serious threat to our democracy, one of the greatest threats to democracy that's come around in a long time. so i hope both parties will proceed on legislation that's long enjoyed by partisan support in this chamber, our democracy -- chamber. our democracy demands we act. i yield the floor.
3:38 pm
3:39 pm
3:40 pm
3:41 pm
3:42 pm
mr. mcconnell: madam president. the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: well, the american people are hurting, inflation just hit another 30-year record high, families are paying skyrocketing prices for every day needs. the murder rate across the country just recorded its biggest jump ever. but here's what the biden administration is focused on, handing out six-figure and seven-figure payments to illegal immigrants. a few years back, liberal interest groups started trying to sue the united states government on behalf of illegal
3:43 pm
immigrants. they want american taxpayers to pay out legal damages because of the conditions some people faced as they tried to break into our country illegally. now, as a legal matter, these lawsuits were borderline frivolous, our government was all but certain to win the suits, but this administration wants to stand in and voluntarily pay out massive damages. quote, the u.s. departments of justice, homeland security and health and human services are considering payments that could amount to close to $1 million a family -- $1 million a family. about a half million dollars per adult and about a half million dollars more per child. now, american families are having to anxiously budget for gas and groceries, but president
3:44 pm
biden wants to make millionaires out of those who violated federal law. what could be more unfair and unjust to law abiding, tax paying american citizens and talk about yet another massive incentive for more and more people to come here illegally. on president biden's watch we've already seen an all-time high in illegal border crossings, combined with a record decade low in arrests in the interior. so democrats have already created a major border crisis and now they want to cut seven-figure checks to illegal border crossings. democrats are already trying to send welfare payments to people here illegally, that is in the taxing and spending spree they are putting together behind closed doors. but who needs $300 a month when president biden wants to send these folks $450,000 per are
3:45 pm
person? that is four and a half time the payment that the department of defense sends to survivors of service members who were killed in action. fallen troop families get $100,000 from the pentagon but the biden administration wants to give illegal immigrants $450,000. this is an especially extreme example of a big error that democrats continue to make over and over again. the left mistakenly thinks that a compassionate border means a weak border. they think compassion requires weakness. weak security, weak enforcement, weak upholding of the rule of law. now apparently we're a cruel country unless we hand out a million dollars per family of illegal immigrants who sue america. but the entire concept is dead wrong. it's not compassion to lure
3:46 pm
people from all over the world to dangerous journeys with the promise of open borders socialism. in fact, the government paying out six-figure sums that multiply with every additional child in tow will only enlist the riskiest kinds of immigration. we'll be guaranteeing even more children are dragged along the dangerous journey. honestly, this absurd idea feels like a satirical policy proposal that republicans would have invented to make a parity out of the radical left. oh, and the next thing you know, they'll be sending out million dollar checks to illegal immigrants. but this is literally what the biden administration wants to do according to reports that they have not denied. out in the real world, american families already have enough reasons to worry about the administration's spending habits.
3:47 pm
the inflation kicked off by democrats' springtime binge has wiped out wage gains and made family budgets even harder top swear. one recent report on soaring food prices including this quote from a shopper out in indiana. quote, you have to pick and choose. before you didn't have to do that. you could just go in and buy a week or two's worth of food. now i can barely buy one week's worth. that's a sobering reality that too many americans are dealing with, and it isn't limited to the grocery store. folks in my hometown of louisville have seen gas prices jump a full dollar in the past year. feeding a family is getting harder. filling up the tank is getting harder. even heating a home this winter is shaping up to be 30% more expensive than last year. even during a time of calm and prosperity, writing million
3:48 pm
dollar checks to illegal immigrants would be an insult to american families. but it's ten times more insulting at a time like this when democrats' policies are forcing so many households to tighten their belts. these are the same democrats who are putting finishing touches on yet another multimillion dollar -- multitrillion dollar reckless taxing-and-spending spree. so in the days and weeks ahead, when the far left tries to sell america on historic inflationary spending, historic tax hikes, and more micromanaging of american life by politicians, just remember these are the same politicians who have proposed giving millions of dollars of taxpayers' money to people who broke federal law to enter our country. the same people who think that it's a great idea want license to transform our entire economy.
3:49 pm
look around. i'm not sure how much more of this transformation american families can stomach. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of the treasury, jonathan davidson of maryland to be deputy under secretary. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. durbin: today the senate will confirm -- vote to confirm toby heytens for the united states circuit judge for the fourth circuit. it's an accomplished appellate
3:50 pm
advocate and a fire mindedness that has -- that would make him an asset to the fourth circuit. he started as a clerk on the third circuit, completed a prestigious fellowship at the justice department's office of the solicitor general. then he clerked for ruth bader ginsburg. that's not a bad resume. after a few years in private practice, he rejoined the justice department as an assistant to the solicitor general. most recently he was solicitor general for the commonwealth of virginia. he is a distinguished academic, taught at cornell law school, joined the faculty at uva law school. mr. heytens has personally argued ten cases before the u.s. supreme court. there aren't many people who can say that and handled the briefing in more than 50 other cases before the court. and the breadth of these cases is impressive. with such credentials it's not surprising he enjoys support of senators kaine and warner.
3:51 pm
he's been unanimously rated well qualified by the american bar association and his nomination is supported by leaders in the legal community, including former republican solicitors general under president george w. bush. he's a dedicated public servant. i'll be voting for him. i hope my colleagues will join me. on another matter, this weekend saw the happy return of a tradition in many neighborhoods. last night my senatorial assignment was to be at the front door of my home in springfield, illinois and pass out candy to the trick or treaters. and after a year off because of covid, halloween was back. we had at least 80, maybe a hundred kids show up and they were all having a great time as we all remember in our own youth. what a difference vaccines can make. slowly but surely we are putting this pandemic behind us. and after a difficult year-plus of remote learning, kids are going back to school across america. three days ago we received some
3:52 pm
long awaited news that will enable parents to breathe another sigh of relief and allow children to be safely vaccinated. the f.d.a. authorized pfizer vacation -- vaccinations for kids ages 5 to 11. while it's true healthy children are generally at lower risk from this virus, they are not immune and testing had to take place and it has taken place. and the new lower dose covid vaccine can protect our kids and grandkids, i might add. and i want to do everything i can to make sure that happens. i usually tell the story which dates me but i know the reality of my impression on those who are watching. i've been around a few years and i can remember in the 1950's when we were scared to death of polio and along came jone that -- jonah salt with a new vaccine. we rolled up our sleeves and got
3:53 pm
a shot. there wasn't a question asked. we saw the ravages of polio, the iron lungs and crippled children and some lost their lives. we followed our parents' guidance, got the vaccination. we virtually eliminated polio in america as a result of it. we have to do the same thing for covid when it comes to children. the new covid vaccine for young children is the latest proof that president biden's leadership and efforts are working. not one republican, i might add, not one could see their way to vote for president biden's american rescue plan. it was that same rescue plan which set up a program across america to administer vaccines. where would we be today if we were still struggling to do that? i want to thank the biden administration for that leadership. we're starting to see good results despite the delta variant. and i think that we are -- we can see at least the possibility of putting this pandemic behind us. and i hope more people will get vaccinated so that that will
3:54 pm
happen sooner rather than later. every week i notice that some of our republican colleagues, including their leader, come to this floor to propose undercutting commonsense vaccine policies that exist to protect our nation. these senators to my knowledge have all been vaccinated. and yet when it comes to the mistruths and distortions about vaccinations, they're strangely silent. i think we know why. apparently they think pitting americans against each other is good politics. but it may be good politics one day and bad hubl health for a long -- public health for a long time. it's corrosive to our public spirit. america is strongest when we're united. we'll no doubt hear our republican colleagues cheer on the small minority of plies and firefighters in -- police and firefighters in cities like new york and chicago who continue to refuse to get vaccinated despite mandates. here is a number that we should keep in mind. those of us who say, and i count myself as one, that we respect
3:55 pm
law enforcement and want them to be strong and safe. last year five times more law enforcement officers died of covid than died of gun violence. let me repeat that. last year five times more policemen died of covid than died from gun violence. covid is the number one killer of law enforcement officers in america today. and so when we talk about being on the side of the police and you want to save their lives, i sure do. i want them to be safe on the job but i also want them to be knack vaited so -- vaccinated so that they don't succumb to the illnesses that follow when you're not. if you care about police safety, if you really care about police safety, put this pandemic behind us once and for all and get vaccinated. and at least speak up when people decide on fox tv and others to peddle this anti-vax quackery that we see too often. on a related matter, madam president, when i listen to our
3:56 pm
republican colleagues rail on the economy, i'm reminded of that old saying attributed to h.l. minken that for every complex problem, there's an answer that's simply easy and wrong. three years ago republicans used the senate's reconciliation rules to pass the trump tax cuts. they didn't get a single democratic vote. why? because those tax cuts benefited the wealthiest people in america and the most profitable corporations. so did it cost us anything? did we make money on that as a nation? it cost us $1.9 trillion over ten years. that was republican reconciliation for users ago. -- for years ago. that's more than president biden is now proposing for his entire slate of programs to ease the financial squeeze on working families and create millions of good jobs and protect our nation from the dangers of climate change. all the wailing and nashing of teeth we're hearing from republicans about deficits and debt, where in the heck were they during the trump years when
3:57 pm
the debt went up 36%? they were all voting for it. of course now that president biden is on board, they're really deficit hawks. they've changedover night. well, -- changed overnight. we should have heard them during the trump years if they're sincere and honest. our republican colleagues money on and on about inflation -- moan on and on about inflation. all americans are worried about that. i filled up my truck up with gas over the weekend. it is expensive. what is causing all of that? part of it is we have no control of the price. opec and others are determining what the price levels will be and other things are part of it as well. yes, heating bills are going to go up this winter. when i talk to people in the natural gas industry, they talk about the problems they had when the economy slumped during the pandemic, the production of natural gas went down. the storage of it went down, and the price went up. and that's what we're paying for today. so the pandemic itself has had an impact on our economy which we cannot and should not ignore
3:58 pm
of the pandemic closed down the global economy and sent demand for many products soaring. getting back to normal is just going to take some time. and it will take thoughtful action, not political potshots. to our republican friends, if you're really concerned about the economic strain on middle-class working families, you've got an opportunity to prove it this week. president biden's build back better agenda is moving forward. a vote to give 35 million families enhanced child tax credits will help them meet the cost of living. it will save them hundred, maybe thousands of dollars a year. a vote for good, free early childhood education for every kid in america will put a hundred thousand dollars more back in the hands of parents. unlike the trump tax cuts, the build back better agenda is paid for. that's right, we pay for it. we're not into deficit. and no one earning less than $400,000 a year will face higher taxes. and then there's the issue of climate change. i'm joining a group that hopes
3:59 pm
we can go to scotland to glass you go for this -- glasgow for the climate conference the president is attending today. we hope a bipartisan delegation from the senate can go and i'm looking forward to that possibility. we're paying so much money out, almost on a weekly basis for weather-related disasters. hurricane ida this year cost us $100 billion in damage. one storm costs roughly twice as much as we proposed to spend the whole year in reducing the harm of climate change for all america. we need to work together to create a win for the american people and for our planet and wouldn't it be nice if it were bipartisan for a change. and let me say a word about senator mcconnell's comments. i sit here and wonder what can he say next? well, today he took the cake. apparently he was suggesting that we have a plan to give every undocumented person in
4:00 pm
america -- was it a million dollars or a half a million dollars? it is laughable to hear that kind of suggestion. remember when the caravans were bringing thousands and thousands and it didn't happen? now there is some notion by the senator from kentucky that joe biden has a plan to give every undocumented person a million dollars. i mean, you would say to yourself, did you keep a straight face when you said that? apparently he did, and i would just tell you, the plans that i have been supporting would put these people to work in america paying taxes, paying their fair share after taxes. and that is important if we want to get this economy straight and get the workers that we need back on the job. so i would suggest to the senator from kentucky, a million dollars per undocumented person in america, i think you've gone a little bit beyond the pale with that comment. i yield the floor the floor and suggest --
4:01 pm
i yield the floor. mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: thank you, madam president. earlier this month senator ernst and i sent a letter to secretary mayorkas asking the secretary to address the devastating cyberattacks conducted on our national agricultural sector. agriculture is designated as one of the country's 16 critical infrastructure industries, but historically it has not received robust cybersecurity support from our government. attacks from foreign cybercriminals are threatening both the livelihood of our farmers and the security of the food that we eat. last month, n.e.w. cooperative, an iowa grain co-op, was the target of black matter, a
4:02 pm
russian cybercriminal cell. the cyberattack shut down systems that control crop irrigation, livestock feed schedules, and inventory distribution. n.e.w. cooperative comprises about 40% of the grain distribution in our country. the co-op narrowly managed to avert a crash in grain prices without paying a $5.09 million ransom. these attacks are not limited to just large distributors. the russian group black byte claimed it attacked formers cooperative elevator company with just four locations. blackbyte is threatening to release 100 gigabytes of
4:03 pm
information including financial sales and accounting information if a ransom is not paid. the extent of the damage from the n.e.w. cooperative and the farmers capitol hill h. cooperative elevator company attacks is not isolated to the grain market. feed from these co-ops sustain more than 11 million head of livestock. these attacks affect the supply chain that puts food on the shelves in the grocery stores all across our country. as iowa farmers adopt new technologies to get their crops to market, their exposure grows to similar attacks. these two ransomware attacks are only the latest in a line of -- a very long line of cyberattacks
4:04 pm
on our criminal infrastructure this year. in july, a miami-based software provider was attacked, which resulted in trickle-down effects to thousands of organizations. in june, j.b.s. foods -- that happens to be the world's largest meat-processing company -- that company was attacked, shutting down nine meatpacking plants in the united states. in may, colonial pipeline was shut down for 11 days, then resulting in buying panics and shortages. while many cyberattacks originate from russia, attacks have also come from other countries. earlier this year the biden administration formally blamed
4:05 pm
china for a massive hack of the microsoft exchange e-mail server. the hackers responsible appeared to work directly for china's ministry of state security. estimates range as high as 250,000 victims. in july, the senate judiciary, where i serve as rank member, held a hearing at my request looking at how to the prevent and respond to ransomware attacks. during this hearing, witnesses testified that the department of homeland security would be identifying and hardening critical points of failure. however, it is clear that their actions up till now have not deterred criminals from targeting the united states
4:06 pm
agricultural industry. now, farmers might be only 2% of the u.s. population, but they provide food for the other 98%. their job of 2% of the people in this country is no small task. keeping americans fed is very important. there's an old quote that goes something like this -- there are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy. the quote is key to understanding the importance of keeping our agricultural supply chain safe and secure. i want to thank my colleague, senator ernst, for joining me today in calling attention to this ongoing national security concern because agricultural security is national security. it's time that we do more to
4:07 pm
protect this critical sector of agriculture. i yield. ms. ernst: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. ms. ernst: thank you, mr. president and i also want to thank my senior senator from our great state of iowa for his wonderful contributions to our agriculture sector. and this is an extremely important topic that we are bringing to the floor today, the threat of agriculture ransomware. and, mr. president, from grocery stores in iowa to new york and every state in between, it's no secret that the price of groceries has drastically increased over the course of the past year. combine that with the ongoing supply chain disaster, it's even more apparent that the last thing we need is a cybersecurity
4:08 pm
attack that would shut down any of our agriculture production. like many iowans, i'm increasingly concerned about the growing ransomware attacks on our nation's ag economy. in a 2019 report, researchers from the university of minnesota outlined the seriousness of the risk of cyberattacks to the american food and agriculture systems. the report indicated that american agriculture is extremely vulnerable. due to the outdated security, poor coordination among businesses, and lack of emphasis on cybersecurity within the industry. in june, the world's largest meat-processing company, j.b.s., was attacked by a russian-based operation. nine u.s.-based meatpacking plants temporarily shut down as
4:09 pm
a result of that attack, including the j.b.s. pork processing plants in marshalltown and ottumwa, iowa. similarly, new cooperative, n.e.w. cooperative, an iowa grain cooperative that controls 40% of the grain distribution in our country, was recently targeted with a cyberattack by another russian cybercrime. they attacked controlled crop irrigation, livestock feed schedules, and inventory distribution, and then they demanded $5.9 million in ransom. another attack hit farmers cooperative elevator company based in arcadia, iowa. this was coordinated by another russian attacker who threatened to release sensitive data, including financial sales and
4:10 pm
accounting information. this is a very serious warning sign for our ag industry, and it's a problem prime to increase as farmers incooperate more technologies into their daily lives. precision agriculture, for example, has promising potential to fulfill increasing global food supply and demand while also improving our soil and water quality, but it demands heavy reliance on interconnected devices and the internet, creating vulnerability. attackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to remotely control and disrupt data flow, potentially causing devastating consequences, especially as farmers move their crops and their livestock to market. these attacks risk the livelihood of farmers and affect
4:11 pm
the supply chain that puts food on the shelves and on our families' tables all across the country. that's why i believe 21st century farming needs 21st century solutions. the security, the safety, and resiliency of our food supply chain is integral to the overall security of our nation. the ag sector is designated as critical infrastructure that historically has not received robust cybersecurity support from the government. just recently i joined senator grassley in urging secretary mayorkas to address these ransomware attacks on agriculture and to leverage the department's resources to prepare for any future attacks. the biden administration outlined a new national security memorandum that would include cybersecurity as it relates to
4:12 pm
agriculture, but the plan is voluntary and would severely limit its effectiveness. it is why i joined senators grassley, stabenow, and tester on an effort to give both the secretary of agriculture and secretary of health and human services who oversees the food and drug administration permanent representation on the committee on foreign investment in the united states. the legislation also adds new criteria to ensure that proposed transactions are reviewed specifically for their potential impact on american food and agricultural systems. the increasing trend of foreign investment in our food and ag systems should be met with careful scrutiny in order to safeguard the security and safety of our food supply and, by extension, our nation. because, after all, food
4:13 pm
security is national security. and, again, i thank my senior senator, chuck grassley, for leading these efforts to protect our agriculture industry, the livelihoods of iowans and everyone else who puts food on their table. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: last week attorney general garland said something very extraordinary. he said he would not withdraw his memo in which he instructed the f.b.i. to get involved with local school boards. why would the f.b.i. be interested in parents' meetings with their school board? if there is a reason for law enforcement to be involved, it's probably something local law enforcement can handle. so the direction will have the effect of intimidating parent
4:14 pm
whose speak out about their children's education, and make no mistake about it, we've heard those reports from parents themselves. the attorney general should then withdraw the memo. here are the facts. number one -- on september 29, the national school board association sent a letter to president biden asking for help from federal law enforcement against concerned parents who are getting involved at local school board meetings. that letter compared parents to domestic terrorists. it even suggested the patriot act should be used against them. now, remember, the patriot act was passed 20 years ago, written to protect americans against terrorists.
4:15 pm
point number two -- on october 4, attorney general garland put out a memo telling the f.b.i. and other parts of the department of justice to work with local governments on the supposed spike in harassment, intimidation, and threat of violence against local school boards. the national security division is included as well apparently because they deal with domestic terrorists and the patriot act. attorney general garland has since testified that he gave the department of justice this instruction because what he read in the national school board association letter to president biden just five days earlier that the memo was issued.
4:16 pm
this is an extraordinary deployment of federal law enforcement in local issues when we have problems, very big problems like a historic murder surge and especially an open southern border. that ladder, the southern -- that latter, the southern border, you see the chaos and the crisis every day on television. now, from these two points, what have we learned since the memo was put out? first, we learned the white house helped write the original letter from the national school boards association sent to the white house, not to the department of justice. next we learned that the state school board associations affiliated with the national association had nothing to do
4:17 pm
with putting together the letter. over 20 of these state organizations have publicly disavowed the national association of school boards letters that brought about this directive. now, think about that. the white house helped write a letter to itself comparing parents who love their kids to domestic terrorists, but the actual members of the national school board association had nothing to do with it. on october 22, the national school boards association actually apologized for its original letter that started that whole mess in the first place and was never even authorized by its own board.
4:18 pm
meanwhile, 17 state attorneys general have written to attorney general garland saying there has been no spike in violence against local school boards, so the idea that parents pose any sort of federal threat to local school boards is all just simply made up. what looks to be by the white house for political purposes. despite all that, the attorney general says he will not change one thing about his memo telling the department of justice to continue focusing on local school boards. that memo stands as far as the attorney general is concerned. general garland says that he doesn't see how it could be interpreted to mean the f.b.i.
4:19 pm
will go after impassioned parents. he says there are lines and -- lines in constitutional law that law enforcement can't cross. well, that is true, but he has been working with the constitution his entire life. however, most parents and most school board members aren't experts on the first amendment. these parents are reading the attorney general's own words to mean that when they speak passionately at local school board meetings, they could get in trouble with federal officials. so parents are going to stop speaking up at local school board meetings, and that's what's known as a chilling effect. that might be what some at the white house or the national school board associations wanted
4:20 pm
all along, but it's a horrible thing for our democracy, and it should never happen in the united states of america. attorney general garland has said he wanted to depoliticize the department of justice. now he wants the federal prosecutors parsing what parents say to their local school board members. this is because he thinks there is a disturbing spike in violence by parents, but he's not actually sure if that's right. and this instruction is going to scare parents out of speaking their minds at local school board meetings. but the attorney general won't change his instructions to the f.b.i. mr. attorney general, parents
4:21 pm
are not domestic terrorists, and you have only one reasonable choice -- withdraw this memo and focus on the real threats and dangers that american citizens face. stop being a pawn for the white house by politicizing the department of justice. i yield. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, the senate today is going to vote on the confirmation of months-old justice beth robinson. a vote to confirm her to serve as a judge on the second circuit court of appeals.
4:22 pm
as an advocate, beth robinson has been rightfully hailed as a tireless champion for equal rights and equal justice. but more importantly, her record as a vermont supreme court justice clearly demonstrates her fairness, her impartiality, and loyalty to the rule of law above all else. we vermonters overwhelmingly support her nomination, including elected officials both republicans and democrats, the entire vermont supreme court, and the vermont power association. they overwhelmingly support her. justice robinson will fill vermont's seat on the second circuit, and i believe she is the best, strongest candidate for this position, and she deserves bipartisan support in this senate, as she got last
4:23 pm
week on her vote. beth robinson was appointed to the vermont supreme court by governor peter shellman in november, 2011. to give you some idea of the bipartisan support she has had over the years, the vermont senate, republicans and democrats, have to vote on her nomination, they voted unanimously to have her on the vermont supreme court. all current vermont supreme court justices pinted by both democratic and -- appointed by both democratic and republican governors have signed a letter supporting her nomination to the second circuit. for the past decade, she has served on the court honorably. she has also participated in nearly 1,800 decisions. now, i'm a member of the vermont
4:24 pm
bar, and i have paid attention to what happens. i see her tenure as being a display of a commitment to the rule of law. her unwavering decade-long dedication as a jurist and her loyalty to the law above all else has made beth robinson an outstanding vermont supreme court justice. no vermonter doubts she will carry that approach to justice with her in the second circuit. let me talk a little bit about her time on the bench. prior to her time on the bench, justice robinson dedicated her legal career to pursuing liberty and justice for all. she spent the beginning of her legal career defending workers' rights and advancing discrimination cases. it was during this time that she worked pro bono as cocounsel for
4:25 pm
the plaintiffs in the case baker versus state. that challenged vermont's then- prohibition on same-sex marriage. she successfully litigated this landmark decision in which the vermont supreme court upheld equal protections for same-sex couples and actually led vermont to become the first state in the union to enact civil unions in the country. as a litigator, her work served as a blueprint for lgbtq advocacy across the country. she successfully represented an employee at the university of vermont who sought recognition of his canadian marriage to a same-sex partner for health insurance purposes. another couple seeking recognition of their out of state marriage in the context of
4:26 pm
second parent adoption. a same-sex couple seeking social security survivor benefits for a child after a civil union partner died. in every case, she has fought to secure legal protections and equality under the law. in fact, beth changed the trajectory of lgbtq rights in this country. her tireless work has led our nation toward justice. unfortunately, in what is becoming more and more of a toxic atmosphere, justice robinson's path to confirmation has faced baseless attacks, and her -- at her confirmation hearing, justice robinson's commitment to religious liberty was called into question. now, these attacks are simply
4:27 pm
not grounded in reality. any honest reading of her record proves that justice robinson is committed to protecting religious liberty. some members argue that robinson's work representing a catholic woman who believed she had been discriminated against due to her own religious beliefs was, astonishingly, evidence of robinson's hostility towards religious liberty. at justice robinson's hearing, other members of the judiciary committee quoted her out of context. i saw an attempt to support a false narrative. one member of the committee read part, part of a sentence from the marriage laws imposed in the justice -- in what justice robinson participated in. it was meant to show her hostility towards religious liberty. i said read part of it, but the
4:28 pm
attack line falls apart the moment you bother to read the full sentence. in the full quote, justice robinson states i've always said that if somebody tried to force a catholic church to do a gay wedding, i would represent the church pro bono. you can't construe that as hostility to religious freedom. mrs. robinson has a long record of supporting the fundamental right to religious liberty, both as a judge and as an advocate. the vermonters i have heard of, regardless of party or ideology, regardless of their religion, are delighted that president biden nominated beth robinson to fill the vermont seat on the second circuit. leading republicans and leading democrats agree with that. if confirmed, we know she would become the first openly gay woman to serve in a federal
4:29 pm
circuit court of appeals. i would urge all senators to evaluate justice robinson's record. and i hope that senators of both parties will see as i have she possesses exactly the right qualities, skills, and experience to excel as a judge on the second circuit. mr. president, before i was in the senate, i had the privilege to argue cases before the second circuit. i saw it as a court where you never thought of being republicans or democrats. you thought about their abilities. and i always felt comfortable arguing there. justice robinson when she becomes judge robinson will give that same view to anybody who is a litigant before that court. mr. president, i ask my full statement be made part of the record, and i yield the floor.
4:30 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. tuberville: mr. president, in 1919, president woodrow wilson declared november 11 as armistice day marking an agreement the year prierl between the allied nations and germany to temporarily cease fighting during world war i. president wilson said the reflections of armistice day will be filed with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in country service and with gratitude for the victory both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given america to show her sympathy with peace and justice and the
4:31 pm
counsels of the nation. in battles before world war i and in battles since, our service members and veterans have served to protect the american way of life. every year our country pauses on november 11 to recognize our veterans with the solemn pride and gratitude that president wilson referenced. we all wake up each morning and enjoy the freedoms this great country affords us because of our veterans, because it was our veterans, our men and women in uniform, who were there when their country needed them their most. while their roles span multiple theaters and decades, our veterans were and continue to be united by a common mission -- to protect and to defend the united states of america. this is a great responsibility
4:32 pm
they show der, and -- they shoulder and they deserve gratitude equal to their great sacrifice. our veterans may say that they're just ordinary americans doing their job. they may be ordinary, but they performed an extraordinary service to our country. alabama is home to nearly 400,000 veterans, and today it is my honor to recognize a few of them for their service. i've had the pleasure of meeting many veterans from my great state, and i am always inspired by their service and their sacrifice. their patriotism is unmatched, and their courage is unwavering. like that of corporal edsal bonds of sampson, alabama, who experienced a shell blast to his right femur on january 28,
4:33 pm
1966, while on a mission to intercept guerrillas during the vietnam war. the blast blew out four inches of his femur bone and several muscle groups. he spent most of a year recovering in a hospital from this horrific injury and never lost love for his country. now nearly 56 years later, from the time of his injury, he is just as patriotic as ever. he views his service as something that was necessary for our country to remain the greatest country in the world. corporal bonds risked his life and limb because he believed that america is worth sacrificing for. we enjoy the blessings of living in a free nation, but often discount the fact that our liberties come without a
4:34 pm
tremendous -- or with a tremendous cost. many brave men and women have paid a price that even our deepest gratitude could never ever pay. i thank elmer davis of the director of the u.s. office of war information during world war ii said it best. this nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is home of the brave. 100-year-old sergeant george mills of decatur, alabama, showed great bravery during his time serving world war ii. the germans surrounded his company 500 yards from the jear man border and -- german border and launched attacks in the building in which they were staying, setting it on fire. with no ammunition left to defend the enemy, sergeant mills and fellow comrades were
4:35 pm
forced to surrender. for the next five months sergeant mills and his company were marched across europe toward the former czechoslovakia without food. they were starved. and no doubt sergeant mills and his company persevered. they survived by eating scraps of sugar beets and rutabagas held in baltimore city before they were -- held in barns before they were liberated. during this initial attack, sergeant mills, despite being injured, sprang to action to help save the lives of those in his company. he was awarded a purple heart for his bravery. another american hero is fred lacy of auburn, alabama, a lieutenant colonel in the united states army. mr. lacy provided valuable
4:36 pm
leadership and negotiation skills during his time in europe, korea, and vietnam. he and his brigade helped defend the western half of the korean demilitarized zone at the end of the korean war, ensuring that there were no weaknesses in our defense for north korea to attack. and during the vietnam war, he coordinated all u.s. activity in the mekong delta and assisted the vietnamese in combatting the viet cong. he volunteered in lep row is i orphan age in his free time while staying there. he had a neutral relationship in resolving conflicts during his time, during the dispute between a vietnamese and american officer, fred stepped in front of a gun to prevent the american officer from being
4:37 pm
shot. he received two bronze stars and the combat infantryman's badge for his leadership and courageous efforts. when reflecting on his service, he says that it was, quote, a privilege to serve. and that spirit of service sometimes, something he carries with him even after his time in the military. lieutenant colonel lacy has taught bible classes for more than 60 years, and still teaches today at auburn united methodist church. we as citizens of this country are privileged to have veterans like lieutenant colonel lacy, who have not only honorably fought for our freedom, but have also probably carried the torch of liberty across the world. they love their country, and you don't have to talk with them very long before you understand how much of a driving force it is to them.
4:38 pm
like corporal clyde haze from vestavia hills, alabama, who served in the troop carrier group during world war ii. mr. haynes shared the joy of walking with children in france as they rushed out of their houses and filled the streets to celebrate their new liberation from nazi rule. he said that he wished he had a picture of that. but even though he does not have a physical photograph, you can tell that he holds that memory very near and dear to his heart. even though mr. haynes is now 100 years old, he is just as moved by that moment now as he was at that time, because freedom is a powerful thing. but freedom does not come without cost. there are many service members
4:39 pm
who pei the ultimate price -- who pay the ultimate price for our freedom and never return home. there are families left behind who sit down to dinner every night with an empty seat at the table, knowing that life for them will never be the same. they too have shouldered the cost of america's liberty and deserve our gratitude. for our service members that do not return, their struggles do not end after they reach american soil. they continue to face challenges from what they have endured while in service, and from the difficult reentry into civilian life. most of us will never know the full weight of preserving our freedom, never have to endure sleepless nights from the harrowing memories of the battlefield, pain from war injuries, or miss important events with family and friends.
4:40 pm
like charles shearier from orange beach, alabama, who served as united states air force tactical sergeant in the war in afghanistan, with the 442nd fighter wing. he received his first deployment when his children were just eight and four years old. sergeant sheerier said he was a bit older than his fellow fighters. he left behind young children but served with soldiers who missed births of their first children or deaths of family members. a veteran's life is so much more than just time in service. there is also the reintegration to civilian life, which requires just as much bravery, courage, and sacrifice. sergeant shearier is a reminder to americans is powerful. we as a country promise that we would never forget, so i hope
4:41 pm
that every patriotic american will keep the promise of never forgetting. just because the war may have winded down doesn't mean our men and women who served the last 20 years still don't need the support of every american. these veterans -- edsal bonds, george mills, fred lacy, clyde haynes, and ryan shearier are heroes like millions of men and women who have selfish -- selflessly sacrificed throughout the decades. their story should inspire all of us. 33 years ago on veterans day in 1988, ronald reagan said, quote, we remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the
4:42 pm
line of duty. most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry which all of them embold their nation as they became champions of noble cause. may we join together as a nation this veterans day to honor our veterans who have served this nation and defended our freedom and values we hold so dear. to our veterans, i say thank you for your sacrifice. our nation will be forever indebted to you. i yield the floor.
4:43 pm
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, communities across our great nation are dealing with a startling spike in violent crime. last year the murder rate soared by nearly 30%, the largest single-year jump on record. the american people are paying close attention, and they are concerned. a poll this summer found that nearly 60% of americans are worried about crime. the percentage of those who say they are extremely concerned is at the highest point in more than two decades. and folks largely think not enough is being done to address this spike. a separate poll found that 65% of americans are dissatisfied with policies to reduce or control crime. that's up more than 16% from
4:44 pm
2020. perhaps this is an off shoot of the defund the police movement that we've seen in radical circles over the last year or so. with a dramatic and shocking jump in homicides and violent crime and the clear belief that more should be done to address it, you would expect that the united states department of justice would be in an all-hands-on-deck posture. after all, this is the highest law enforcement agency in the country. you would think it would take a leading role in finding ways to keep our country and our communities safe. unfortunately, leaders at the department of justice and the biden administration believe that they have bigger fish to fry. forget stopping murderers and violent criminals. the most forceful language we've seen recently from the attorney general hasn't been about stopping dangerous criminals. it's about going after concerned
4:45 pm
parents at school board meetings. that's right, communities across the country are worried about violent crime, and the biden justice department is worried about parents who are concerned about what their kids are learning at school. this all started with a deeply misguided letter from the national school board association with heated school board meetings across the country. parents who are concerned about things like critical race theory and other controversial topics who are simply worried that their kids aren't learning about american history and civics and the foundations upon which this great country were built. they've taken their concerns to school board meetings, something they have every right, indeed a constitutional right to do. i want to be clear there's no place for violence or threats of violence in our public discourse.
4:46 pm
it doesn't matter who you are or what you're fighting for, violence is not the answer. but rather than allow state and local law enforcement authorities to intervene in those rare circumstances when things go off track, the school board leaders at the national school board association went nuclear. they encouraged the biden administration to treat these patients like something akin to domestic terrorists. they advocated for unleashing the full arsenal and might of the department of justice and the furlough bureau of investigation on concerned parents. concerned parents. and the attorney general was apparently happy to oblige their outrageous demands. the national school board association letter argued that a parent who disagrees with the curriculum in their children's school could be investigated
4:47 pm
under the patriot act. you will remember the patriot act was passed after 9/11 2001 to address radical extremists who had just killed 3,000 americans in attacks at the pentagon and in new york. unsurprisingly this letter from the national school board association was met with fierce and immediate blowback. i don't know how they didn't see it coming. concerned parents and terrorists don't share anything in common. well, after the negative press, the national school board association eventually retractd their letter and -- retracted their letter and apologized. they admitted there was no, quote, justification for some of the language in the letter, close quote. but the damage had already been
4:48 pm
done. a few days later after the letter had already been sent, attorney general garland decided to get in into the game and had law enforcement inject itself in local school board elections. we had a chance to question attorney general garland last week, and he conceded his decision to send out a memo to federal law enforcement was based almost entirely on the letter from the national school board association and, quote, news reports, close quote. of course, the attorney general could not cite any specific examples he relied upon before unleashing the awesome power of the federal government on parents, nor could he provide any data or evidence that local law enforcement was incapable of handling any incidents that might occur.
4:49 pm
in his memo, the attorney general also encouraged the federal authorities to take action far beyond any threats of violence and references to intimidation of school officials. but you have to ask, what counts as intimidation to the attorney general? is it angry, frustrated parent raising their voice at a school board meeting intimidation? i think not. what if one of the parents tells a school board member they plan to run against him in the next election or donate to their opponent in the next election, is that intimidation? well, to his credit, the attorney general did finally concede that a parent's right to speak their mind at a school board meeting are protected by the constitution, it's their constitutional right. but i ask you, put yourself in the shoes of a parent who reads
4:50 pm
about this department of justice memo from the attorney general, no less, at the kitchen table. is it going to have an impact on their decision to attend the next school board meeting? will it cause them to shy away from advocating for their children's education and speaking up about misguided policies that they think have no place in their child's school? i ask you to consider the chilling effect that this had and will continue to have on parents who just want to have a say in their children's education. instead of raising their voices in opposition to things like critical race theory or other radical educational policies, parents are more likely to be intimidated and stay at home for fear of being labeled domestic
4:51 pm
terrorists by the highest law enforcement officer in the land. they certainly can't afford to hire a lawyer to defend themselves against these sorts of charges from the federal government if the federal government were to come after them for exercising what attorney general garland said were their first amendment rights under the constitution. in response to the attorney general's memo, the u.s. attorney from montana sent out a list of federal statutes that could serve as a basis for prosecution. he took the attorney general at his word. among the federal statutes that he thought could serve as a basis for prosecution included repeated telephone calls. well, last week i asked the attorney general if he considered the chilling effect that his memo might have on parents exercising their constitutional rights. he evaded the question.
4:52 pm
so i asked him again. his answers became more evasive. so i asked him again. ultimately the attorney general, although he was sworn in under oath, testifying in front of the senate judiciary committee, refused to answer the question. he couldn't tell me, wouldn't tell me, wouldn't tell the judiciary committee, wouldn't tell the country whether he had put any thought at all into how his actions would impact concerned law-abiding parents. even though the national school board association retractd and apologizeed for its letter, -- apologize for its letter, the biden justice department refuses to do so. attorney general garland has doubled down on this colossal overreach and refuses to take
4:53 pm
ownership of how this swift and uninformed action has harmed public discourse in our country. but clearly that's not only where we're headed because we are already there. the president and the leaders in his administration aren't making decisions on the -- based of the law of the land but based on the -- the justice department is focused on the threat of concerned parents because that's what the radical left wants. the department is filing meritless lawsuits against state election laws like those in georgia and texas because that's what their radical base wants. and the secretary of homeland security has told immigration and customs enforcement officers not to enforce our nation's
4:54 pm
immigration laws because that's what the radical left and the democratic party wants. president biden has signaled that he's not only okay with this kind of selective law enforcement, he actually wants more of it. one of the most controversial nominees being considered by the senate right now is rachel rollins who the president has nominated to serve as the u.s. attorney for massachusetts. ms. rollins currently serves as the district attorney for suf oc county, massachusetts. she released a memo outlining noorn a dozen crimes that -- more than a dozen crimes that she says should be ignored by local law enforcement. according to ms. rollins, individuals who commit offenses like trespassing, shoplifting,
4:55 pm
larceny, wanton or dismissive destruction of property or attempt to distribute drugs, her office would not prosecute them so law enforcement should not arrest them. now, i have no issue with law enforcement using limited resources to prioritize the biggest threats, but there's a big difference between prioritizing dangerous criminals and offenses and exempting wholesale classes of crimes from enforcement. what happens when the message is sent that government will not enforce its laws as being played out in california now where many businesses are simply withdrawing from places like france where -- san francisco where a few steal or shoplift something under $950 worth of
4:56 pm
mensch -- merchandise, law enforcement will not prosecute and thus the stores are left without resource and you can imagine the thievery runs riot. well, leaders certainly shouldn't tip their hats to criminals as to what crimes may be committed free of any consequence and that's exactly what's happening. the justice department's priorities are completely out of whack and radical partisan u.s. attorneys will only make things worse. the biden administration cannot continue to take their marching orders from the radical base of their political party. and the united states should never be a place where concerned parents are treated like criminals and actual criminals get a free pass.
4:57 pm
mr. president, i yield the floor and i would note the absence of a quorum. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i withdraw noting the absence of a quorum so the distinguished senator from tennessee may speak. mrs. blackburn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mrs. blackburn: thank you, mr. president. i'm beginning to feel a little bit like a broken record when i'm here on the floor when talking about all of the ways that tennesseans feel like this administration has backed them into a corner. and it doesn't matter if i'm going to fill up the car with that rising price in gas or if i'm at the grocery store and could not believe this weekend
4:58 pm
there's so little on the shelves , and they are so short staffed and people are very anxious about this. i had a lady that just about was not going to let me go there in the dairy section of the grocery store because she was really upset with what this administration is doing, whether it is inflation or the vaccine mandate, she is really upset with what she liked to call the white house p.r. operation. and she knows that inflation and supply chain problems are here. it's not temporary. it wasn't transient. it is something that they are dealing with every day, and tennesseans are seeing this at every stop along their busy
4:59 pm
days. they have watched this administration abandon the southern border and, you know, mr. president, they don't use that term lightly, but i think it is instructive to focus in on that. this administration has abandoned the southern border. these actions are intentional actions -- intentional. whether you talk to border patrol or the local sheriff, they look at what democrats in washington are doing and they see this as being intentional. they also look at how this administration chose to abandon a productive energy policy. mr. president, in january we were an exporter -- an exporter
5:00 pm
of energy, and today we have a president -- a very weak president who is groveling to opec, begging them -- begging them to sell us more fuel. what a difference. what a difference. and this administration, when i was up in clarksville where fort campbell is located and i was out on post and i was visiting with tennesseans there in clarksville, they feel as if this administration has abandoned our troops. abandoned civilians and allies in afghanistan as we handed over 20 years worth of hard-fought territory to the new axis of evil which is russia, china, iran, and north korea. abandoned, left, forgotten ab
5:01 pm
about. over the past few weeks, they've learned that even their recreational social media use might be putting their families at risk. meanwhile, things here on capitol hill are such a mess that from their perspective, it's neither reasonable nor rational to believe that the democratic majority is willing to put country before party and politics and fix this mess that this administration has made this year. in fact, the democrats are so focused on their own big government narrative that they've managed to outdo themselves with the mandate from on high that goes further than ever before to control deeply personal health care decisions. of course the democrats are no stranger to this. they championed the affordable
5:02 pm
care act and all its bureaucracy, but this time they've truly put the full force of the executive branch of the united states government between a patient and a doctor. that's right. the decision is not one you will make with your doctor. it is one that the federal government is meapg and force -- is making and forcing, forcing on you. this covid-19 vaccine mandate has people really upset. they see this as a power play. today i talked to a lady who works for a government contractor. all of the families' insurance benefits come through here. her husband is a small business person, and she has a child with disabilities. she begged me to keep fighting against this mandate. she said, you know, i'm in the position that i had to get this,
5:03 pm
even though a family member of hers had had a terrible adverse reaction. and she was concerned, being the primary breadwinner for her family and the one that provides their health insurance benefits. and she had a reaction, a bad reaction. but she feels like that what we're seeing is another opportunistic power play that portrays the very people who risk their safety to prevent the economy from collapsing during the pandemic. that's right, the essential workers, people that showed up and did their job. the lady i talked to today was an essential worker. she did her job all through the pandemic. the states deemed these individuals essential workers
5:04 pm
because they showed up. they spent their days transporting food and clothing across the country, stocking shelves in grocery stores, and keeping armed rioters at bay. they never stopped working, mr. president. they never missed a beat. they put themselves in danger and adapted to circumstances made worse by forced lockdowns. these are the people who couldn't have worked from home if they wanted to. they're the cop on the beat. they're the truck driver who's in the cab of that truck. they're the health care worker standing at a bedside. they're an airline worker who is making certain that people are safe and planes are safe to fly. and now they're the ones that joe biden, kamala harris, and
5:05 pm
this administration have chosen to threaten with an executive ultimatum. get the shot or we're going to get you fired. that's right. imagine that. the president of the united states. you go get the jab or i'm going to get you fired from your job. what an ultimatum. what a way to run a country. but that's what he's doing. the white house crossed so many lines with this one. practical lines, ethical lines, constitutional lines. so last week i introduced the keeping our covid-19 heroes employed act to push this administration back on the rails and protect these essential
5:06 pm
workers from having to choose between submitting to the mandate or losing the right to provide for their families. it's a simple solution to a very big problem. it would lock in the definitions of essential worker used by the states during the pandemic, and then protect those workers from being fired under covid vaccination requirements. it would nullify the executive orders mandating vaccinations for essential federal workers and contractors and preempt osha from issuing regulations that would require employees to vaccinate if those employees qualified as an essential wo worker. and we are getting a tremendous amount of support for this
5:07 pm
legislation. on the national level, we've heard from the fraternal order of police, the national sheriffs association, the chicago fraternal order of police, president, the federal law enforcement officers association, the national border patrol council. and from the tennessee chamber of commerce, tennessee ambulance services organization, the owner operator independent drivers association, the national association of small trucking companies. and then from several individual officials, democrat and republican alike and from different organizations. and i ask consent to submit this list for the record. the presiding officer: without objection.
5:08 pm
a senator: thank you, mr. president. these are individuals on the front line and they take exception to what is going on with this administration. mrs. blackburn: and this executive order that is forcing them to get a shot that maybe their doctor is saying hey, this is not one for you to take. maybe they're a young woman trying to have a baby. maybe there's somebody who has a history of heart disease or lung disease or newerral muscular issues in their family and somebody has had an adverse reaction. you know, people are smart. they're going to figure this out and figure out what works best for them. during the pandemic, the essential workers, they figured this out. and they ought to be exempt. the biden administration claims that this mandate is the ticket
5:09 pm
to freedom. return to normal. but here's the problem with this and why that falls on deaf ears. these essential workers returned to normal months ago if they ever left a normal routine, and their working conditions have been made more difficult now than ever. businesses are desperate for workers. in august the u.s. economy had 10.4 million jobs waiting to be filled. that's right. 10.4 million jobs. we're going to get unemployment numbers this weekend, on friday. i think it's going to be interesting to see what those numbers tell us. and, oh, the supply chain. i mentioned the grocery store and what i found there? well, the supply chains are a mess. we need 80,000 truck drivers
5:10 pm
right now, today, if we want to make an honest attempt at filling the need there, to get products to stores. we can't afford the toll these mandates are taking on the supply chain workforce or law enforcement or border security or health care sector or on the airline industry, the transportation and logistics industry. and make no mistake, the day of reckoning is already here. as i said, these workers, they have figured this out. they're smart. they don't hate the country. it is ridiculous that some people try to equate those that don't get the vaccine with hating the country. these individuals are not
5:11 pm
anti-vaxxers. they're not antiscience. what they are is this. they are antian unconstitutionl mandate and a government overreach that is going to interfere in their relationship with their doctor. that's what they're against. mr. president, don't we all remember rt lie -- don't we all remember the lie of the decade in 2010 with obamacare? if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. and what we're looking at right now is something that is an equal overreach of you can't keep your job if you won't get this jab.
5:12 pm
it is an overreach. people that i'm talking to are really anti these mandates that would force them into submission or in some cases into poverty, like the young mom that will i talked to who works for a government contractor, sole support of her family at this point. has one child, wants to have another child. and because of this mandate, she is going to lose her job, a job she loves. and her employer loves her. but she is wanting to make certain she can have that second child. these workers are very
5:13 pm
pro-freedom and they are taking a stand on principle. they are pro freedom. they are pro individual rights. and what they want is for this administration to stop it, to stop their push to this socialist agenda. stop trying to force them into taking a vaccine which is another step to having government control of their health care. you know, they look at what the democrats in washington, d.c. are doing, and they see that they're trying to take one vote. they want to win. they want to win on putting everything together, one vote. and then flipping the country to their socialist agenda. one vote. government control of your kids, of your health care, of your
5:14 pm
bank account, of your life, cradle to grave, daylight to dark, sun up to sundown, 24/7, 365. you know, i have to tell you, mr. president, we thought that when the obama campaign came out with their little care turs -- caricatures and cartoon character, although it was really frightening, the life of julia, we thought this is ridiculous. how julia never needed anybody or anything but the federal government. well, some of that same crowd in the white house is now -- has now come up with the life of linda. and linda must be related to julia because linda has the same type life experiences as julia.
5:15 pm
there's no mention of a family or a husband, but linda has a child. linda works for the government. the government is in control. see, that's what the democratic party wants, socialism. they're very happy with that. cradle to grave, daylight to dark. total control. tell you what to do. tell you what your job is going to be. tell you what you're going to study in school. take control of your children. send them to study whatever they want and then work in a way that the government tells them they're going to work. but what we are seeing play out in this country is the american people standing up and saying, enough is enough. we don't want your mandate. we're tired of all of your chaotic cycle of gaslighting and
5:16 pm
government overreach. we are pushing back on your push to a socialist agenda. and i'm heartened that they are not afraid to say, no, no, no to what the democrats are trying to push. and they're going to continue to push back because they see what is happening for what it is -- a destructive, radical agenda that will destroy freedom of choice, free people, free markets, and opportunity for their children and future generations. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
5:17 pm
mr. van hollen: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. van hollen: mr. president, is there a quorum call in place? mr. president, i move that the quorum be call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. van hollen: mr. president, i think all senators can agree that we would not be able to deliver results for the people in our states and for our country if it were not for our extraordinary staff, who work
5:18 pm
with us each and every day. they are there with us in the trenches fighting for the constituents we've pledged to serve and defending the constitution of the united states. mr. president, it's for that reason that i'm confident my colleagues will agree with me when i say congressional staff is more than just a collection of individuals. it's a family. and it's that truth that makes my presence on the senate floor this evening all the more difficult because, mr. president, my office, our family has lost a beloved member , john amara f. walters, a legislative aide in my office who passed away on the morning of october 2 at medstar washington hospital center in washington, d.c. he died in the arms of his
5:19 pm
beloved mother, kimberly, who joins us this evening in the gallery. john was 29 years old. on behalf of myself, our office, and the people of maryland, i want to take a little time not only to express our profound grief at the loss of a dear friend and an amazing human being but also to tell a little bit of john's story to this senate and to the nation and to pay tribute to his life, to honor all that he gave us and celebrate all that he gave to the world. john amara f. walters was born on friday, february 9, 1992, in adrian, michigan, to john a.m. walters and kimberly h. davis walters. he came from a long line of patriots and leaders, including his grandfather, who defended
5:20 pm
the united states in world war ii as a tuskegee airman, and john caught the political bug early. at age six -- yes, you all heard that right, at six years old -- john started working on political campaigns. he permitted in three presidential elections and traveled across michigan and the country to serve communities in need. in high school he interned for the late-great michigan senator carl levin, and john was also a committed member of the rosa and may monday parks institutes pathways to freedom program. he excelled in inside the classroom, first graduating from adrian high school in 2010 and then going on to study at the district of columbia's own howard university where he earned his b.a. in psychology in
5:21 pm
2015, magna cum laude. and i should add, mr. president, he was a loyal howard alum and proud bis0on and a favorite son of the university. the last time i met face to face in pre-covid days with the president of howard university, wayne frederick, john was with me, and i told dr. frederick how proud we were of john's exemplary work. and dr. frederick was proud, too. john did all this at a young age and more, and he achieved these things despite a lifelong battle with sickle cell amemia. an illness that often struck him with fatigue and pain. but that didn't stop john. he refused to be defined by his illness, and he refused to allow sickle cell to prevent him from pursuing his dreams, with passion and decency and
5:22 pm
dedication. it's a disease that took him from us far too soon, but it never took away his spirit or his zest for life and his commitment to i believe maaing a positive change -- and his commitment to making a positive change. i will always remember john for the twinkle in his eye, his enthusiasm for everything he did, his absolute brilliance and his commitment to helping others. everyone in our office -- and i mean everyone -- loved john. after he passed away, we held a staff zoom call with his mother, both to grieve together and to remember john. and in that gathering we witness add torrent of love and affection for all john did and what he meant to us. there were lots of tears but also many moments of beautiful laughter as we recounted many fun stories about john. he gave us many things, but perhaps one of his greatest gifts was his empathy.
5:23 pm
in the world of politics and capitol hill, there's plenty of ambition, and john was ambitious. but empathy is often in short supply. not in john. empathy is that quality where someone seeks to see the world through the eyes of another, of understanding what somebody else is experiencing by trying to walk in that person's shoes and live the world as they live it. john did not just hear the words spoken by others, he listened; he absorb them; he dared to be vulnerable. and what always struck me about john was his capacity to focus on the struggles experienced by others at the same time he was carrying on his own fight against sickle cell. perhaps his own personal struggle made him far more attuned to the hardships faced
5:24 pm
by others. but whatever its source, john's capacity to care inspired us all, as did his ability to persist and carry on in the face of adversity. john embodied the very best of us. john first joined my office as an intern right out of college when i was still serving in the house of representatives. after graduating from howard, he could have chosen many different paths. he chose public service. and from john's first moments on our team, it was clear that he was not only sharp and eager to work but that a. cared deeply about his -- but that he cared deeply about his fellow colleagues and that he was completed dedicated to our mission of serving the people of maryland and the country. when i was elected to the senate, i was thrilled to have john move to this side of the capitol with me. he leapt at every opportunity to
5:25 pm
advance our mission, growing from organizing and drafting letters to constituents to taking constituent meetings to eventually thinking of and writing legislation. he was a vibrant force on capitol hill, both in our office and outside of it, an was an active member of the senate black legislative staff caucus. when our senate office first divided up issues among our legislative correspondents, john chose to take responsibility for some of the hottest button issues like criminal justice reform and public safety that demanded an open ear and a welcoming heart. he worked on gun issues and spoke to constituents who'd experienced personal tragedies from gun violence. and he always brought their feelings to his work on legislation to strengthen our gun laws. when the previous administration was trying to dismantle parts of the civil service, john met with
5:26 pm
and helped federal employees who feared they might lose their jobs at any moment. in a million different ways, john proved that empathy has a home in public service and can even direct the course of policy changes. when we decided to hold a hearing on the hardships the postal service delays were imposing on americans, john remembered a meeting he hadhood months earlier with a group from the national federation of the blind. where they discussed the real challenges they were experiencing because of the long delays in delivery of their essential materials. john was moved by their stories at the time, and he lifted their voices. at his suggestion, we invited a member of that group to testify, and their moving and powerful testimony is now leading to changes that will help every american. that was john, listening and
5:27 pm
then bringing people's voices into the public square to change lives for the better. mr. president, john brought empathy to his work and to the office or, but he also brought great joy. his desk was a must-stop place for members of our team throughout the day. people would stop by to share his company, to hear his loud and infectious laugh, to talk about the latest news of the day or, i've been told to joke about the craziest couple on "90-day fiance," which on the enthusiastic recommendation of john and a few others built quite a following in our office. among current and past staff. mr. president, i was not so sure what to think about all that when i learned about it. and john brought joy with his wry wit and keen sense of the absurd, always taking his work seriously but never taking
5:28 pm
himself too seriously. he had a critical skill on capitol hill -- the ability to track down house and senate receptions with the very best food, and then alert his colleagues to the spoils. if someone couldn't getaway from the office, he'd bring back snacks to share pulling treats out of his pockets like a magician. he was a true member of our office family and always a team player, always willing to advance our causes on behalf of our constituents. and in coming to know his family, i can see where those qualities began. you could see that he was supported by his beloved mother, kimberly davis, in the way he supported our team, always ready to help out and pitch in for the mission. you could see that he was helped and mentored by his uncles and aunts in the way he helped and mentored the new members of our
5:29 pm
office that he worked with. and, mr. president, today in the gallery, in addition to john's mother, kimberly, we're joined by his uncle john and john's wife, carol, and christian gibbs, who is like an uncle to john. and, mr. president, you could see how much john was loved by those closest to him by how much he loved and embraced others. and he, in turn, was loved and respected by our entire capitol hill family. he was an example to all of us of a person who put everyone else's challenges ahead of his own. mr. president, our office wants to hold john amara walters up as a model to young people who walk through our doors. as i mentioned, john began his service with us when he was an intern, and we have decided to
5:30 pm
establish a permanent paid internship position in john's name and memory, and that position will always go to a student from maryland attending howard university. in that way, we know that the young leaders of the future will learn about john's spirit and his legacy. and learn to carry forward his torch of empathy and positive change. john wanted to help others. he wanted to leave the world better than he found it. he did that and much more. while his life was far too short in years, it was long in the joy and the love he shared and in the lives he changed for the better. thank you, john. we love you. mr. president, i yield the floor.
5:31 pm
the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the robinson nomination, which the clerk shall report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, beth robinson of vermont to be united states circuit judge for the second circuit. the presiding officer: the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
5:32 pm
5:33 pm
5:34 pm
5:35 pm
5:36 pm
5:37 pm
5:38 pm
5:39 pm
5:40 pm
5:41 pm
5:42 pm
5:43 pm
5:44 pm
5:45 pm
5:46 pm
5:47 pm
5:48 pm
5:49 pm
5:50 pm
5:51 pm
5:52 pm
5:53 pm
5:54 pm
5:55 pm
5:56 pm
5:57 pm
5:58 pm
5:59 pm
6:00 pm
vote: vote:
6:01 pm
6:02 pm
6:03 pm
6:04 pm
6:05 pm
6:06 pm
6:07 pm
6:08 pm
6:09 pm
6:10 pm
6:11 pm
6:12 pm
6:13 pm
6:14 pm
6:15 pm
6:16 pm
6:17 pm
6:18 pm
6:19 pm
6:20 pm
6:21 pm
6:22 pm
6:23 pm
6:24 pm
the presiding officer: on this vote the yeas are 51. the nays are 45. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the heytens nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, toby j. heytens of virginia to be united states sir cut -- circuit judge for the fourth circuit. the presiding officer: the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
6:25 pm
quorum call: vote:
6:26 pm
6:27 pm
6:28 pm
6:29 pm
6:30 pm
6:31 pm
6:32 pm
6:33 pm
6:34 pm
6:35 pm
6:36 pm
6:37 pm
6:38 pm
6:39 pm
6:40 pm
6:41 pm
6:42 pm
6:43 pm
6:44 pm
6:45 pm
6:46 pm
6:47 pm
6:48 pm
6:49 pm
6:50 pm
6:51 pm
6:52 pm
6:53 pm
6:54 pm
6:55 pm
6:56 pm
6:57 pm
6:58 pm
6:59 pm
7:00 pm
7:01 pm
7:02 pm
7:03 pm
7:04 pm
7:05 pm
7:06 pm
7:07 pm
7:08 pm
7:09 pm
7:10 pm
7:11 pm
7:12 pm
7:13 pm
7:14 pm
7:15 pm
7:16 pm
7:17 pm
7:18 pm
7:19 pm
the presiding officer: the yeas are 53, the nays are 43. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motions to reconsider are considered made and laid upon the table, and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action.
7:20 pm
mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: in one minute, i will be filing cloture on the john lewis voting rights act, but i'm going to give short brief remarks before i do that. now, tonight i am filing cloture on a motion to proceed on the john lewis voting rights advancement act. that means that the senate is going to take a first vote on whether or not we even debate this voting rights bill, even debate it on wednesday. our democracy relies on the guarantee of free and fair
7:21 pm
elections. across the country, we are witnessing a coordinated assault on the integrity of our electric electoral process. we must advance critical reforms to protect the freedom to vote, fulfilling the life and the legacy of our late colleague, john lewis. if there is any issue that deserves debate in this chamber, it's protecting voting rights. i know that both parties have differences on this important issue, but republicans shouldn't be afraid to debate the bill. if the senate votes to open -- votes to open debate to this bill, i'm prepared to offer an open and honest and full-fledged process here on the senate floor where republican amendments will be made in order and allowed and debated. if republican senators have different ideas on how to achieve a stronger democracy, they owe it to the american people to come forward and debate their ideas. simply standing sigh illegal immigrant with -- silent with
7:22 pm
their arms crossed, refusing to allow the senate to function, is unacceptable. and so, madam president, i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. schumer: i move to proceed to calendar number 143, s. 4. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to calendar number 143, s. 4, a bill to amend the voting rights act of 1965 to revise the criteria for determining which states and political sub discses are subject to section 4 of the act, and for other purposes. mr. schumer: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. 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 -- on the motion to proceed to calendar number
7:23 pm
143, s. 4, a bill to amend the voting rights act of 1965, to revise the criteria for determining which states and political sub discses are subject to section 4 of the act and for other purposes, signed by 17 senators as follows. mr. schumer: i ask consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: finally, i ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum call for the cloture motion filed today, november 1, be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the committee on foreign relations be discharged from further consideration of s. 1064 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 1064, a bill to advance the strategic alignment of the united states diplomatic tools toward the realization of free, fair, and transparent elections in nicaragua and so
7:24 pm
forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the substitute amendment at the desk be considered and agreed to. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the bill as amended be considered read a third time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: i know of no further debate on the bill as amended. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, the question is on passage of the bill as amended. all in favor say aye. opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill as amended is passed. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: and finally, madam president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. tuesday, november 2. that following the prayer and the pledge, the morning business
7:25 pm
be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. that upon the conclusion of morning business, the senate proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the davidson nomination. further, that notwithstanding rule 22, at 11:00 a.m., the senate vote on cloture on the davidson, harris, and coleman nominations in the order listed, and that following the cloture vote on the coleman nomination the senate recess until 2:15 to allow for the weekly caucus meetings. further at 2:20 p.m., the senate vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the prieto and nayak nominations in the order listed. at 5:15, the senate vote on the confirmation of the davidson nomination if cloture has been invoked and that upon disposition of the davidson nomination, the senate resume consideration of the harris nomination. finally, if any nominations are confirmed during tuesday's session, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the
7:26 pm
president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: for information of senators, there will be three roll call votes at 11:00, two roll call votes at 2:20, and one roll call vote at 5:15 p.m. if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of senator cruz. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cruz: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: madam president, i rise today to discuss the growing threats to american national security and to the security of our friends and allies in the middle east. under president obama and vice president biden, the policies put in place were a catastrophe for our allies in the middle east and a boon to our enemies. they boosted the muslim
7:27 pm
brotherhood and criticized arab governments that tried to crack down on religious extremists. they gave palestinian groups tied to terrorism a veto over peace between our israeli and arab allies, and they elevated those groups. they pushed the catastrophic obama iran nuclear deal which dismantled pressure on iran and put the ayatollah on a path towards a nuclear arsenal. while sending pallets of cash in the dead of night as ransom for hostages. of course, the obama-biden administration didn't tell the american people and didn't tell congress what they were doing. instead, they deliberately hid that information. they lied as long as they could about their policies, and they developed and built an echo
7:28 pm
chamber designed to drown out their critics. i rise today, madam president, because history is repeating itself, because i am deeply worried that president biden and the biden-harris administration are returning to the very worst policies and the very worst tactics of the obama years and that the consequences are going to be far worse. once again, the biden-harris administration is boosting the muslim brotherhood and other religious extremist groups in the middle east. they are elevating the palestinians at the expense of our israeli and arab allies, and they are dismantling pressure on iran. and once again, they are hiding those details from congress. they do not want congress to know, and they do not want the american people to know. and in some cases, unfortunately, they are outright
7:29 pm
lying. madam president, i know that president biden and his administration is refusing to answer, even lying about their middle east policies because i asked them. i asked them as part of questioning barbara leif, the president's nominee to be the assistant secretary of state for near east affairs. over the next several minutes, i will discuss the answers i got back. ms. leif has been and will continue to be at the center of the biden-harris administration's middle east policy. she was responsible for middle east policy from the very beginning of this administration. as the senior director for middle east and north african affairs at the national security council. in her new position to which she has been nominated, she would be america's most senior diplomat for the middle east. i asked ms. leif written
7:30 pm
questions about biden administration policies in multiple areas of middle east policy. as part of her testimony in front of the senate foreign relations committee. her answers ranged from deliberately nonresponsive to simply false. and throughout, thoroughly, deeply distressing. for example, right now, today, the biden-harris administration is with holding $139 million -- $130 million worth of assistance from ouregyptian allies, allegedly on human rights concerns. what we don't know is exactly why they are doing and exactly what the biden-harris administration is asking for. under the obama administration,
7:31 pm
they opened the muslim brotherhood. those extremists were boosted at the expense of moderate arab allies and consistently misled the public about their goals. here the only reason the american public found out in the first place about this $130 million is because "the washington post" revealed it. the biden-harris administration didn't explain to the american people what they were doing. it was only the reporting of journalists that revealed it and we still don't know enough. we don't know the details. the post reported that the administration is with holding the aid until egypt addresses certain human rights concerns. we don't know what they are. they apparently include releasing 16 unnamed prisoners. we don't know who they are.
7:32 pm
so i asked ms. leif about these details. i asked about the 16 people. i asked for their names, their institutional affiliations, what they were charged with. i also asked if they were american citizens, and if they were not, i asked whether they were involved in organizations that push islamic extremism or anti-semitism. ms. leif is obviously very familiar with the case. she wrote back over 1,000 words of highly technical responses. here's just a third of her answer. that's the part that we could fit on the poster board. lots of words, lots of numbers, but you can see not a single detail i requested was provided. of the 16 people the biden-harris administration has demanded that egypt release, you
7:33 pm
won't see a single name. the answer from ms. leif to the senate foreign relations committee is to not put too fine a point on it, go jump in a lake. how many of those 16 are associated with terrorist organizations, the answer from ms. leif, go jump in a lake. how many are american citizens? the answer from ms. leif, go jump in a lake. why is that? why is that that the biden-harris administration is extorting egypt to release 16 prisoners and yet they are embarrassed to say who those prisoners are? well, we do have some public hints about the sort of people the white house and that congressional democrats may be tried to coerce our egyptian allies into releasing.
7:34 pm
buried inside a very recent senate appropriations report, there's an instruction that seems very much like what we're seeing with these secret conditions. it came, presumably from senate democrats, although we don't know who. no senate democrat has stood forward to own this language but there is a senate democrat who authored this language. it says in making the certification required by subsection a 3-6r7b a, the secretary of state shall consider the cases of ola al-qaradawi, hosam khalaf, sala tolt ann. the committee urges that humane treatment and fair trials be
7:35 pm
afforded these and other prisoners. apparently these names are people the united states should champion, and it suggests the sorts of people the biden-harris administration may be trying to extort egypt into releasing. who are they? well, let's start with sala solt ann. who is sola soltan? he is a hate preacher. he is someone who goes on tv over and over again and preaches the vicious sort of liables against jews. why are senate democrats trying to release vicious anti-semites? why are they suggesting, if you go back to the appropriation
7:36 pm
language -- why are they suggesting in the appropriation language that the united states should be fighting to release that anti-semite and hate preacher? we don't know because senate democrats aren't defending that position and the administration refuses to answer. who are some of the other people on that list? well, you have mohammed al albacher, he was part of the revolutionary youth who started the revolution and he's been implicated in security violations. how about ola al-qaradawi, she is the daughter of josef
7:37 pm
al-qardawi, the paper trail on her is opaque on both sides. how about hosam khalaf has been allegedly connected to a brotherhood offshoot. how about abdulrahaman tar ec, they are names have appeared in a senate appropriations report. when i asked ms. leaf about it, she provided a thousand words and not a single name. and i will tell you that actually the name -- the names on that list are not secrets from congress. they had been provided to congress in a classified form. so, madam president, you and i can go into a secure scif and we can read it in a scif.
7:38 pm
we can read the names. you know what we're not allowed to do? tell anyone what the names are. why is it that those names are classified? they are classified because president biden and vice president harris don't want the american people to know who it is they are trying to release. there's no reasonable justification for those names to be classified. they are extorting our friend and ally egypt to get people released from jail and they refuse to tell us who. the american people have a right to know if the biden administration is trying to pressure our allies to release muslim brotherhood extremists, if the biden-harris administration is trying to get our -- our allies to release anti-semites and if they are to hear a justification for why. but ms. leaf, instead, simply
7:39 pm
defies the senate and refuses to answer. let's turn now to israel. in the trump administration there was a decision to stand shoulder to shoulder with israel, which led to an historic flowering of peace across the nation. the name and framework for those peace agreements was the abraham accords. this was something that the obama administration said would never happen, and something, unfortunately, tragically, that they were actively hostile to. the obama administration insisted that israel would have to make massive concessions to the palestinians on their sovereignty on security of israel before there could be peace deals between israelis and their arab neighbors. when asked if there could ever
7:40 pm
be peace like the abe ram a -- abram accords, secretary kerry said there will be no separate peace between arab and the israel world. no, no, no, and no. no am by cutie -- ambiguity to what they want. no peace between the palestinians. it turns out president obama and secretary kerry were wrong and president trump demonstrated that to the world. and, sadly, president biden and vice president harris have never forgiven our israeli allies and our arab allies for that, for demonstrating that with strong resolute chairy from the united states -- clarity from the united states unequivocal
7:41 pm
support from israel that peace could be the result. that was an outcome anathema to the foreign policy objectives of the current administration. as a result, there are many in the biden administration that are enormously, deeply, seethingly hostile to the abraham accords. at the beginning of the biden administration, the state department even issued internal guidance prohibiting the use of the phrase, quote, abraham accords. those words were ver -- were not allowed. the instruction was to call them the normalization agreements. george orwell is no doubt looking down from heaven and smiling at the power of language to be redefined. they are no longer abraham
7:42 pm
accords, they are normalization agreements. the only reason that we know about this is what journalists revealed it. this time it was the washington free beacon, but the details have never been clarified. after those public reports, the biden administration was forced to at least partially reverse that policy. they insisted they fully support the accords that must never be named. but it's not clear how true or how broad that reversal has been. on september 13, u.s. ambassador to the u.n. thomas greenfeld gave a speech about the abraham accords in which she stubbornly refused to utter the words abraham accords. instead apparently following the state department guidance, she simply used the bland term normalization agreements.
7:43 pm
on september 13, secretary blinken and the spokesperson had a readout from that meeting. the readout from the state department did not mention the abraham accords and used the bland term, regional normalization efforts. this is conscientious, this is deliberate, it's a pattern. it's a classical example of where congressional oversight is called for. madam president, many senate democrats claim to support the abraham accords. i would note i was at the white house for the signing of the abraham accords. not a single senate democrat showed up for that historic peace agreement. none. presumably because of partisan loathing of president trump. but nonetheless, congressional democrats say they support the
7:44 pm
accords today. if that's true, we need to seek congressional oversight. and so i asked ms. leaf for the specific guidance that was issued to the state department. give congress, give the senate the written guidance prohibiting reference to the abraham accords. we know about it from public reports in the media. she and the state department refused. they refused to provide that guidance to congress and refused to show it to the public. they are doing it -- it's not accidental. she refuses to answer this question because they want to hide it from the american people just like the names of the 16 prisoners they are demanding that egypt release presumably if the american people knew those names, knew the affiliations, knew the backgrounds, they would be outraged. likewise, if the american people
7:45 pm
read the written guidance issued by this state department prohibiting you thering of the words -- uttering of the words abraham accords, then the charade that so many democrats try to play of supporting those accords would be that much harder to maintain. a third example, turning to iran, perhaps more than anything else, first and foremost this administration wants to return to the catastrophic obama-biden iran nuclear deal. and the dismantle meaningful sanctions against the theocratic regime in iran. from the earliest hours of the administration, the effort began to do exactly that. as part of that push, the administration is quietly and sometimes secretly reduced pressure on iran and released frozen iranian funds.
7:46 pm
but the ayatollah wants to see just how much he can get. and he may not think that president biden will ever do anything meaningful. if the u.s. isn't going to impose pressure on iran, there's no reason for the ayatollah to return to the deal at all. he doesn't need to take yes for an answer for a deal because he's getting everything anyway. and so since the very early in the administration, the biden-harris officials have contemplated what has been called a, quote, less for less agreement in which they would reduce some pressure on iran for something less than full compliance. you'll only nuke some of us. once again, madam president, we only know about the existence of these considerations from public reports. in february and again over the
7:47 pm
summer, reuters reported on administration officials contemplating these deals. the so-called less for less deals. we here in congress know a little more but not much. congress and the public deserve to know what's being contemplated, reduced pressure on the iranian regime. the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and a radio jeem that seek -- regime that seeks and i believe may well be willing to use nuclear weapons to murder millions of americans and millions of our allies. i believe that if the ayatollah had the ability to murder millions of americans or millions of israelis in the blink of an eye, the odds are far too high that this theocratic zealot who glories in death and suicide would be willing to do so. and so i asked ms. leaf for the
7:48 pm
details of such agreements. here is what she said in response. quote, there have been no such arrangements, deals or agreements contemplated to reduce pressure on iran. madam president, that statement is false. it is categorially -- categorially unequivocally false. it's testimony in writing to the senate foreign relations committee. ms. leaf knows its false and the state department handlers who transmitted her written statement to the senate knows that it's false. what is the biden administration trying to hide? what details don't they want us to know. madam president, this isn't just about policy disagreements though i disagree very meantly with many of in administration's policies. i understand some people, some democrats will disagree.
7:49 pm
but even more fundamentally this is about transparency and oversight. on that, there should be no disagreement. and these questions are ones that go to the very core of this administration's middle east foreign policy and of american national securities. what extremists is president biden and vice president harris trying to empower? whom do they view as allies worth supporting in the region? what deals are being contemplated with the iranian regime? i asked ms. leaf for these details. she has, after all, been working right in the center of middle east issues for this administration. she and the biden-harris administration are refusing to answer. the public has a right to know.
7:50 pm
madam president, let me also point out that president biden in recent days said publicly that if iran enters into a new nuclear deal, that the united states would stay bound by it in perpetuity as long as iran didn't renege on that deal. i want to be absolutely clear on something. president biden has zero constitutional authority to make that commitment. the ayatollah and iran could be forgiven for misunderstanding that. the ayatollah, after all, is a total dictator with the ability to line up anyone who disagrees and execute them on the spot. but thankfully the president of the united states does not enjoy such dictatorial powers. under our constitution, there are two ways and two ways only
7:51 pm
that a president can make a binding commitment on the united states of america. the first is through passing a law that passes the senate, passes the house, and is signed into law by the president. if president biden wishes to do so with any iran deal, he is welcome to do so. the second and the way traditionally foreign policy agreements are handled is through a treaty, a treaty that is submitted to the senate and ratified by two-thirds of the senate. madam president, the chances that the biden-harris whatever disastrous nuclear deal they work out with iran, the chances that that would be ratified by two-thirds of this senate i can quantify exactly. there's 0.00 percent. president biden knows that. he knows that because the senate has been unequivocal that this deal is disastrous and harpful for national security, harmful
7:52 pm
for israel, harmful for our allies so instead president biden makes an empty promise that he cannot commit. in that he's following in the footsteps of president obama. president obama made a similar promise. and president obama knew it was a lie when he said it. and president biden knows it's a lie when he said it. and history demonstrated that president obama told a falsehood because the next republican president donald j. trump ripped the obama-iran deal to shreds, withdrew from the deal which was the right decision. i urged president trump to do that. and madam president, our allies and our enmights should -- and our enemies should mark my words on this, regardless of whatever empty promises president biden
7:53 pm
makes, he lacks constitutional authority to bind a subsequent administration. and i believe it is a hundred percent certain that the next republican president who is sworn into office will once again rip to shreds any disastrous deal negotiated with the ayatollah and iran. so president biden has three more years to try to give away the store, to try to send billions of dollars, perhaps on palates in the dead of night like barack obama did, to fund theocratic terrorists who want to murder americans and murder israelis. but the ayatollah needs to know, europe needs to know, our friends need to know, our enemies need to know that president biden's promises are empty words that will expire the
7:54 pm
instant his presidency is over. we don't have a dictator in this country. we have a constitutional republic. if president biden wants to bind subsequent administrations, he can negotiate a treaty, submit a treaty to the senate, and get it ratified. but he doesn't have the votes, and so instead he makes empty promises. madam president, if president biden and vice president harris were proud of the policies they're pursuing in the middle east, they would give the american people the lists of the 16 prisoners they're trying to force egypt to release. we know multiple of the names senate democrats have put in the
7:55 pm
appropriation language are affiliated with the muslim brotherhood. we know one is an anti-semitic hate preacher. and we suspect that the administration knows full well that if it released those names, it couldn't defend them to the american people. it's counting on darkness and secrecy to hide their conduct. and i believe the senate, both republicans and democrats, have an obligation to the american people to shine a light. if you're going to extort our allies to release prisoners, tell us now. are they affiliated with the muslim brotherhood? are they antisell mights, are they -- antism -- antisemites? the american people deserve to know. i yield the floor.
7:56 pm
the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. today the senate confirmed to judges to serve on the u.s. court of appeals for the second and fourth circuit for they will continue the week by considering executive nominations for the treasury and labor department. the u.s. agency for international development and the epa. majority leader chuck schumer is also planning to move for this week was about to begin debate on the johnson lewis at voting rights advancement act which the house passed it back in august for the legislation would restore certain provisions of the original voting rights act of 1965 there were altered by two recent u.s. supreme court rulings. a vote to advance the bill would require the support of 60 senators.
7:57 pm
as always you can file the senate live when it returns here on cspan2. ♪ ♪ cspan2 is your unfiltered view of government ended by these television companies and more. including comcast. >> you think this is just a community center? no it's way more than that. comcast is part with 1000 community centers to create wi-fi enabled so students from low income families to get the tools they need to be ready for anything. comcast support c-span as a public service along with these other television providers giving you a front row seat to democracy. the supreme court heard oral argument in a case brought by a group of health providers challenging the enforcement provision of a texas abortion law known as sb eight which bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
7:58 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on