tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN April 21, 2021 10:30am-2:31pm EDT
asian, , and the asian american hate crime legislation. they will vote to advance the nomination of bonita cooped to be associate attorney general. lawmakers will hold a confirmation vote for her. live coverage of the senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, we thank you for your great blessings. lord, we are grateful that though the arc of the moral universe is long, it bends toward justice.
continue to use our lawmakers to permit justice to roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. may our senators trust your prevailing providence, as they realize that behind the dim unknown, you stand within the shadows, keeping watch above your own. lord, be with all the families affected by the derek chauvin trial. be also with the many brave men and women who serve you in law enforcement.
we pray in your merciful name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., april 21, 2021. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable ben ray lujan, a senator from the state of new mexico, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore.
mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: okay, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination -- calendar 60, that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to be reconsidered be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, that no further motions be in order to any of the nominations, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, the senate resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. schumer: okay. mr. president, yesterday, a jury of former police officer derek chauvin's peers determined that he was guilty of murdering george floyd, confirming what was plain to the millions of americans who watched his murder on video. nine and a half excruciating minutes that documented the senseless and unnecessary loss of one man's life in broad daylight. our country was forever changed by the horrendous video of derek chauvin killing mr. floyd. his searing final words, screaming for air, calling for
his mother are etched in our memory. this guilty verdict serves as an official proclamation of what so many of us have known for nearly a year. george floyd was murdered by an officer who was sworn to protect and to serve but who obviously didn't. the brutality of george floyd's murder, yet another in a seemingly endless string of tragedies, sparked a summer of protests unlike any we have seen in american history. elevating a long-building movement for more justice in policing. americans of every age, color, and creed took to the streets in peaceful protest, from minneapolis to maine and los angeles to atlanta, and including in my own home city of new york. a community of global citizens would soon join them in protest, in foreign capitals from rome,
paris, london, amsterdam, and mexico and berlin. the name george floyd would echo through the public square. this was not only a fight for justice but a fight against the miss treatment, discrimination, and outright bigotry that black men and women suffer at the hands of state power, not just here in america but around the globe. the death of george floyd provoked such a reaction because folks in those communities knew a george floyd of their own. names of friends and colleagues who were tragically killed or suffered the brutal sting of racism sprang to their tongues. they still do. philando castile, aircraft garner, breonna taylor. each circumstance different, the underlying tragedy much the same. their names and countless others serve as a reminder that a single verdict in a single trial
will never be enough. it wasn't long ago that excessive force by police was never caught on iphones or body cameras. it was out of sight and often beyond the reach of the law which gave almost reflexive deference to police officers who were brought to trial, if they were ever brought to trial. so this was an important event for the american justice system. not only were the events concerning george floyd caught on camera, but the offending officers was tried and convicted in a court of law. let it serve as the proper deterrent, a deterrent that should have existed long ago to the kind of egregious misconduct that led to george floyd's death. however, and most certainly, we should not mistake a guilty verdict in this case as evidence that the persistent problem of police misconduct has been solved or that the divide
between law enforcement and so many of the communities they serve has been bridged. it has not. we must remain diligent in our efforts to bring meaningful change to police departments across the country, to reform practices and training, and the legal protections that grant too great a shield to police officers guilty of misconduct. we also must remain diligent in striving out to root out the racial bias in our society, in our health care system, in jobs, in housing, and the economy, in the board room and at the ballot box, on our streets and in our schools. this goes way beyond party or political faction. racism strikes at the very core of this country. justice, true justice, will not come until we finally banish the ancient poison of racism from the american soul. the senate will continue to wore to ensure that george floyd's
tragic death will not be in vain. we will not rest until the senate passes strong legislation to end the systemic bias in law enforcement. now, on a related subject, part of that effort, although modest, is installing committed, experienced, compassionate civil rights leaders in positions of power in the justice department. our nation's top law enforcement agency. it just so happens that today, the senate will vote on the confirmation of ms. vanita gupta to be the next associate attorney general. not only is ms. gupta the first woman of color to ever be nominated to the position, she is the first civil rights attorney ever to be nominated to the position, the third-ranking official in the justice department. that's shocking, really. we never have had a former civil rights attorney serving in such a prominent -- serving in such a
position of prominence at the justice department. in that sense alone, ms. gupta would bring a long overdue perspective to our federal law enforcement agency. and just to give you a sense of ms. gupta's commitment to civil rights and racial equity, in her very first case after law school, she won the release of several african americans who had been wrongly convicted by all-white jurors in texas. her clients later won a full pardon from texas governor rick perry. at a time when our country needs to make strides against racial injustice, how can we not install one of the nation's top civil rights lawyers at the department of justice? how can our colleagues not rise to the occasion, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and vote for her? i'm so, so troubled by the fact that they are virtually unanimously against such a fine person who is needed so much at this time.
yup, but unfortunately, ms. gupta might be the first nominee in this congress where the vote falls entirely down on party lines. i hope it doesn't come to that. the effort to elevate highly qualified civil rights attorneys like ms. gupta should be bipartisan. i urge my colleagues, all of them, and particularly my friends on the other side of the aisle, to vote in favor of ms. gupta's nomination today. competitiveness, on a different matter here. for nearly a century, america's national security and economic security has been grounded in our scientific and technological superiority. often supported by smart investments by the federal government. but in recent years, countries like china have closed the gap with the united states. if we fail to respond, they will overtake us, with drastic consequences for our workers, businesses, and allies and partners around the world.
it's long past time for the united states to make the next wave of investments to fix dangerous weak spots in our economy and preserve our place as the world leader in science and technology, which then leads to millions of good-paying jobs here in this country. so today i'm proud to join with my friend, the republican senator from indiana, senator young and several of my colleagues from both sides to reintroduce the endless frontier act. it's a big, bold, bipartisan initiative to propel american science and technology into the 21st century. let me stress that last point. this bill is bipartisan. as senator young and i have worked on the bill over the past several months, several senators from both sides have been added as original cosponsors, six democrats and six republicans. that's because there's a bipartisan consensus that the united states must invest in the
technologies of the future to outcompete china. whichever nation develops new technologies first, be they democratic or authoritarian will set the terms for their use. the stakes for personal privacy and personal liberties as well as for national security, economic security, and minority rights around the globe are simply enormous. so at the center of this legislation is $100 billion investment in research, commercialization, workforce training and the kinds of technology that will play an outsized role in the future. semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, 5g to name a few. another $10 bill would facilitate hubs around the country. we want to cecil convalleys across the country. from my home state in new york and upstate to communities in the south to the midwest to other places that rarely get the attention they merit.
despite the potential of their workforces, their institutions, and their links to the global economy. technological growth in jobs should not be limited to a few centers in america, and this bill attempts to spread it to other communities as well. it will also strengthen the critical supply chains in the u.s. with global allies and partners. the endless frontiers act is exactly what we need to invigorate, reinvigorate american science and technology, to promote our national security, and create jobs of the future. i have committed to put a bipartisan-related bill on the floor of the senate. the endless -- i have committed to put a bipartisan competitive-related bill on the floor of the senate. the endless frontier act will be a central part of that legislation. we will also push for emergency spending to implement the bipartisan semiconductor manufacturing provisions in last
year's defense bill. and another potential component led by senators menendez and risch is being marked up in the senate foreign relations committee this week. this is exactly what our republican colleagues have asked for when it comes to regular order. we are marking up bipartisan bills in committee and considering bipartisan amendments here on the floor. we are just seeing that process play out on the anti-asian hate crimes bill this week, and next week we're going to follow it up with a water infrastructure bill that is also thoroughly bipartisan. our efforts to cement another century of american economic leadership should be no different, thoroughly bipartisan. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: early on a major theme of the biden administration has been false advertising. we have the so-called covid relief bill that broke a long, bipartisan streak on pandemic response and only spent 1% of the money on vaccinations. we have the reintroduction of a sprawling election takeover bill that democrats wrote years ago under the guise that it's a commonsense voting rights bill. we have a president who ran on protecting norms, flirting with proposals to hot-wire the senate rules, and pack the supreme
court. and then we have the latest example where even one ivy league expert says democrats spend does a bit of violence to the english language. they've assembled a patchwork of left-wing social engineering programs and want to label it infrastructure. now, as i pointed out before, the first notable thing about the biden administration's plan is what it doesn't focus on. less than 6% of the alleged infrastructure bill would invest in roads and bridges. the total amount of funding it would direct to roads, bridges, ports, waterways, and airports combined, all together adds up to less than what it would spend just on electric cars. the far left sees a strong
family resemblance between these proposals and their socialist green new deal. yesterday the house and senate authors of that manifesto reintroduced it while noting and boasting that the d.n.a. of the green new deal is all over president biden's legislative proposals. no wonder the white house document rolling out the president's bill mentioned the words climate and union more often than roads and bridges. it would pick winners and losers in automotive manufacturing. it would force feed the electrical grid some of the least reliable forms of energy. it would hector school c cafeterias to stop using paper plates and force new standards and mandates on family homes. and the relative pittance this proposal does to allocate actual
infrastructure would have to creep through a tangled environmental review process without serious permitting reform, mr. president. it won't build back better -- bill back better. it will bill back never. but at least some of these bad ideas have a tangential relationship to the actual concept of infrastructure. not so for some other statements we've heard from actual democrats in recent days. climate action is infrastructure. police accountability is infrastructure. care giving is infrastructure. supreme court expansion is infrastructure. now surprisingly, this liberal omnibus is not exactly an efficient engine for driving our economy. the white house inflated claims of expected job creation have been fact-checked and received
pinocchios from "the washington post." even the rosiest scholarly assumptions, the rosiest assumptions the white house own favored estimates taxpayers would pay more than $800,000 for each job the plan might create. now, i know a lot of install businesses who could -- small businesses who could create more than one job if we handed them $800,000. then there are the tax hikes. this proposal is a trojan horse to roll back the historic 2017 tax reform plan that helped spur big-time wage growth and the best job market in a generation before covid-19. so the administration's proposal bears little resemblance to the bipartisan infrastructure bill americans need and deserve. it just reads like customer service for the radical fringe.
now on another matter, mr. president, over the past few months senate republicans have made clear we believe a president is entitled to choose qualified mainstream nominees to staff the executive branch and receive prompt and fair treatment from the senate. i would say that 50 senate republicans have treated president biden's nominees considerably more fairly than senate democrats treated the last president's. but the nominee we're considering this week is way outside the mainstream. i will strongly oppose confirming vanita gupta to serve as associate attorney general, and i would urge colleagues to do the same. ms. gupta has spent her career in large part as an activist for left-wing causes. her work for high profile liberal interest groups and the obama justice department have left a record of astowningly --
astoundingly radical positions. those far-left positions were loud and proud until this prospect of promotion seemed to change the nominee's tune. previously this nominee stated that, quote, states should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs. she said states should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs. but now ms. gupta claims her position has evolved. at her confirmation hearing she refused to say she'd accept any, any limitation on abortions up to and including partial birth. that puts her at odds with nearly 70% of americans across the political spectrum. recently ms. gupta has insisted she can be trusted to oppose efforts to defund law enforcement, but she told the judiciary committee just last
year that state and local leaders should, quote, heed calls, end quote, from groups demanding that they decrease, decrease police budgets. this nomination has revealed a lengthy trail of radical claims and hasty backtracks. but there are also questions of temperament. the nominee has repeatedly amplified left-wing fearmongerring toward judicial nominees and sitting federal judges. she's levied attacks on members of this body. and during the confirmation process, she employed the loosest possible interpretation of her oath to deliver honest testimony, even drawing the ire of the liberal "washington post" for transparent flip-flops and misleading senators about her own public statements. this nominee contrasts sharply, sharply with the resume and reputation of attorney general garland whom i voted to confirm.
the white house needs to make a better choice for this key post. the senate should create that opportunity by voting no today. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of justice, vanita gupta of jirnlg to be an associate -- of virginia to be associate attorney general. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. durbin: mr. president, before making a comment related to vanita gupta which is before the senate, i would like to respond briefly to the minority leader, senator mcconnell's remarks. the senate is a venerable institution, but when it comes to defining infrastructure in the 21st century, what we are hearing from the other side of the aisle is not venerable thinking. it isn't even old fashion
thinking. it isn't in tune with the times in america. it doesn't reflect reals. -- reflect reality. for the republicans to argue that unless it's bricks and more tar, the government -- mortar, the government shouldn't be involved in building it for the good of the economy and strength of business and good-paying jobs really is sinking their head deep into the sand. and i think we taught to make a record, at least for the moment, that in the last four years of the last presidential administration, there were no infrastructure bills, none. after all of the promiseles of the -- promises of the trump administration, nothing happened. nothing. and so to be lectured by the republicans about what infrastructure is all about is to suggest to them that they missed a golden opportunity to help america and we are not going to miss it. to think that the republican definition of infrastructure in america does not include the
expansion of broadband coverage across this nation, what are they thinking? their minds are back ten and 20 years ago. is broadband coverage for all americans in every corner of this country a socialist idea to the republicans? i think it's a commonsense idea to the people of america. they know it when their kids have laptops that they have to sit in the parking lot of a library or next to a mcdonald's or starbucks in order to get access. they know what that means to their child, their student in terms of that progress. businesses know it too. try to advertise some section of america without access to broadband coverage to locate a new business, it's a laughing matter. and we know it. and so when president biden suggests that broadband as part of infrastructure in america and then he is mocked as being a socialist by the republicans, we have a clear definition of where the party values are today.
and when it comes to other basic things, the senator from kentucky just doesn't empathize with what families go through to put people on the job. it isn't just a matter of finding a good job and being qualified to fill that job, there is also a family concern, a family concern that can literally make the difference as to whether you take that job. the democrats believe that child care, affordable, quality child care, is part of the equation in terms of good-paying jobs being filled by americans where families want to be sure their kids are safe. is that socialism? is that another example of socialism for the republicans? quality day care affordable for families. it's not socialism in my book. it's a family value. and that's why i think the efforts of the republicans to run down president biden's attempts to strengthen this economy really are antiquated
and perhaps not in the best interest of this country. so we'll be voting in a few minutes on vanita gupta. yesterday was a day that many americans will never forget with the decision in a trial in minnesota carefully watched by millions across america and around the world. the death of george floyd was a stark moment when one piece of videotape has been emblaisonned in the minds of people in the united states and around the world. under the knee of officer chauvin, george floyd lost his life on a street in minnesota. whether there would be acould the ability and justice as a result was an unanswered question until yesterday. the answer came through loud and clear. spoke and justice was served and we now -- and now we have a responsibility to move forward. the reason i bring that up in
light of the nomination of vanita gupta is the fact that the path to civil rights progress in america is often difficult and for those who try to lead often a lonely battle. vanita gupta has taken more than her fair share of criticism from the republican side of the aisle. i sometimes find it hard to believe that this amazing, outstanding, remarkable young woman is being degraded by so many republicans when she comes to the floor in consideration by the senate. she has a record that's incredible. she's the right person for this job in the department of justice as associate attorney general. she's unquestionably well qualified. she would be the first civil rights attorney and the first woman of color to be an associate attorney general and you know i think that's at the heart of the problem as far as some republicans are concerned. they are just not ready for that kind of change. well, they should be.
anybody who's turned on the news in the past week sees that we need police reform, we need to repair the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. vanita gupta has a proven track record of doing just that. as head of the justice department's civil rights division, she led this across the nation and did it in a way that brought people together, civil rights advocates, commune leaders, and police law enforcement. as a result, she has incredibly broad support. when i hear them talk about defunding the police and how she's anti-y police, how in the world to the republicans explain the fact that she has the support of every major law enforcement group in this country? they just conveniently ignore that fact. if anything they said were really true, do you think the fraternal order of police would be standing behind her as well as the civil rights community? consider this statement from the
federal law enforcement association. they said, ms. gupta has a proven history of working with law enforcement agencies, corrections officials, advocates, stakeholders and elected officials across the political spectrum. that's an incredible statement for an attorney, a civil rights attorney, who has not shied away from the battle has walked into the most controversial situations in her time and proven over and over again that she can not only just get the job done but she can do it in the satisfaction of both sides believing she was fair in the process. she has the support of outstanding conservatives like grover norquist, michael chertoff, the former counsel of coke industries. i listened to the republicans baseless charges and smears against ms. gupta last week and i find it amazing that they can ignore every law enforcement group that supports her and every leading conservative
spokesman who has come out for her. she's been head of the department's civil rights division. she led efforts to combat religious discrimination, protect the rights of men and women in uniform and to ensure that members of our military are not taken advantage of. she has a career as a civil rights lawyer. this book tells that story. six months out of law school, working for the legal defense fund, she ended up taking an assignment in tulia, texas. why did she take this assignment? because when she did, there were some 40 people who had been arrested in this town, one out of every black adults in town was behind bars all accused of dealing cocaine to the same
undercover officer, tom coleman. coleman, the son of a well-known texas ranger, had been named officer of the year in texas. not until after the trials in which coleman's uncorroborated system secured sentences as long as 361 years -- that's not a typo, 361 years -- that it had become apparent that mr. coleman had misrepresented his own qualifications and, sadly, misrepresented all of the cases before him. two dozen people in prison. mostly african americans. and who was sent into this to represent the civil rights of those sitting in jail who had been wrongly convicted, vanita gupta. six months out of law school is she went down to texas. i would imagine six months out
of law school i was still searching for the right place to eat lunch with a partner in the firm. but not her had she went down there and -- but not here, she went down there and became an outstanding advocate. what happened as a result? as a result of her efforts and the results of the otherle civil rights attorneys, the courage they showed, the determination they showed, the governor of texas perry, authorized the payment of millions of dollars in compensation for their damages. and so when we hear from the republicans she's not ready for primetime, she's too radical, she can't handle this job, we're all going to vote against her and you think to yourself, did they ever take a minute to read about her lifetime again and again? it is incredible that we are at
a moment in history that a woman of color with an extraordinary civil rights record wants to make history in the department of justice, wants to continue to serve our nation prosecuting cases for the american people, that she is prepared to take her experience and expertise and sit down and try to help us solve these monumental challenges we currently face and can't get a single republican to stand in support. not one. it's hard to imagine. well, as i mentioned before, she has tackled tough assignments before successfully in the cause of the name of justice. the justice department, her service there, the tulia case, which many don't want to talk about, has been true throughout her career. she is guided by an unshakable belief in upholding the rule of law and vindicating the rights of those who are frequently
taken advantage of, marginalized and forgotten. to vanita gupta, the people who have suffered discrimination in this country matter. she has dedicated her life to that. it's troublesome, it wrangles them, it makes them angry, but she is an extraordinary woman in my estimation. she has demonstrated what kind of leader she is, what kind of courage she has six months out of law school to go to tulia, texas, and represent people who were serving time in jail who were ultimately released. she also has a proven record of bipartisanship, a record of working with law enforcement and community leaders and a record of upholding the rule of law. in just a few minutes, three or four minutes, the senate will get a chance to advance her nomination and perhaps several hours after that will finely give her the vote of confidence
she deserves, to join the department of justice, merrick garland and be part of a team that heard the message in minnesota yesterday and is prepared to move forward to make america a better place for all, a better place for opportunity and equality and real justice. we need the right people in the department of justice at this moment in history more than ever in current memory, and we have the beginnings of that team with our attorney general and with lisa monaco, vanita gupta should join them. she should be able the day after tomorrow or even sooner if possible to be sworn into office and have this opportunity to continue her service to the department of justice and the cause of justice. that, to me, is -- is indicated by her background and by the endorsements she's faced. when you hear the bad comments from her on the other side of
the aisle, pause but think for a moment, but, senator, if she's so bad why did all the law enforcement groups in america support her? why do all the civil rights organizations support her? why does she have the support of so many conservatives, even in the business community? if she is as bad as you say she is, the honest answer is she is not. she is a quality individual with remarkable credentials and remarkable wealth of experience that she wants to continue to bring to the government and i hope the senate will give her that opportunity and i yield the floor. mr. thune: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. thune: mr. president, i i ask unanimous consent to be able to complete my remarks before the vote. mr. president, it's another day and another manufacturing crisis. yesterday i came down to the floor to talk about the supposed crisis of confidence in the supreme court that requires us to immediately add four additional democrat-chosen
justices. today i want to talk about another manufactured crisis, and that is the supposed election crisis that requires us to pass h.r. 1, a democrat piece of legislation designed to increase democrats' chances of maintaining their current tenuous hold on power. h.r. 1 is not new legislation, mr. president. democrats introduced a nearly identical of this bill in the last congress as well. back then we were told that we needed this bill to address profound electoral problems in our democracy. in other words, democrats didn't like the results of the 2016 elections. then, of course, last year we had an election with record voter turnout, highest voter turnout since 1900, an election that gave democrats the presidency and paper-thin majorities in congress and the story changed. now we're being told we need to pass h.r. 1 in federalized elections because legislatures around the country are passing,
quote, voter suppression laws. the state of georgia passed a law that keeps georgia in the mainstream when it comes to state election laws. the speaker of the house of representatives spoke yesterday that while georgia has made its no excuse absentee voting more secure with this law, states like delaware and new york, among many others don't even allow no excuse voting. delaware, of course, is the home state of the president of the united states. new york is the home state of the democrat leader. i haven't noticed the president or the democrat leader criticizing their home states for voter suppression. nevertheless, democrats decided that the georgia measure would serve as a useful rallying cry for h.r. 1, so they spread a web of misinformation and outright lies, attempting to get people worked up by portraying
georgia's fairly ordinary election law reforms as a radical attempt to suppress voters. and to suppress votes. president biden irresponsibly described the law as jim crow on steroids, as if the georgia legislature had decided to reinstate the evil of segregation. the president has been repeatedly, mr. president, repeatedly rebuked by none other than "the washington post" for repeating a completely false claim about the georgia law. in fact, "the washington post" gave the president four pinocchios, a rating that "the post" reserves for, quote, whoppers for his false claims that the law is designed to keep working americans from voting. in fact, as the postfact-checker piece makes clear, there is reason to think the law might
actually -- wait for it, mr. president -- expand access to early voting. a fire-minded piece in "the new york times," hardly a paper that carries water for republicans, concluded that the voting provisions of the gala are, and i quote, unlikely to significantly affect turnout or democrat chances, end quote. but that hasn't stopped democrats from using georgia's law as the poster child for supposed voter suppression and a pressing reason to pass h.r. 1. so let's talk about the substance of h.r. 1. to start with, this legislation would transfer control over elections from states to the federal government, despite the fact the constitution gives primary control over elections to the states. under this law, states' ability to develop election systems that address the needs and challenges facing their states would be substantially limited. of course, democrats would like us to believe that this federal power grab is urgently needed, since they argue states are
contemplating, contemplating voter suppression laws. but as i pointed out, mr. president, the last election, with its record turnout, largest turnout since 1900, did not exactly suggest that states are incapable of setting their own election rules. mr. president, ironically h.r. 1, which purports to be an election integrity bill, would actually undermine election integrity. the bill takes aim at state voter i.d. laws, a long-time obsession, i might add, of the democrats. i have always been at a loss, mr. president, to understand democrats' passionate opposition to requiring people to provide identification before voting. democrats of course present voter i.d. laws as an attempt to suppress votes by forcing people to go through a challenging process of obtaining a government i.d. i have to ask if democrats also think laws requiring i.d. to drive are somehow
discriminatory. we constantly require photo identification in our society -- to drive, to board planes, to enter many government buildings, to pick up pickets to a major league baseball -- tickets to a major league baseball game. these requirements are pretty universally accepted. it's difficult to understand how requiring identification to vote is so outrageous. the american people don't seem to think so. polls show that a majority of americans support voter i.d. laws. in addition to effectively eliminating states' voter i.d. requirements, h.r. 1 also required states allow ballot harvesting, the controversial practice of allowing political operatives to collect and submit ballots. needless to say, ballot harvesting opens up a lot of questions about voter fraud and election integrity, but the democrats' bill would require it. mr. president, as i mentioned,
democrats introduced an almost identical version of h.r. 1 in the last congress. and get this -- the aclu opposed it. the aclu opposed it. that's right. the american civil liebts union opposed it. because the bill would, and i quote, unconstitutionally burden speech and socialal rights, end quote. unconstitutionally burden speech and associational rights. h.r. 1 would impose a vast new array of restrictions on political speech and issue advocacy. and it would impose disclosure requirements for organizations that would open up donors to retaliation and intimidation. mr. president, i could fill up several speeches with the discussion of all the bad provisions in this bill. h.r. 1 would turn the f.e.c., for example, the federal
election commission, into a partisan body. it would require taxpayer funding of political campaigns, taxpayer dollars would go to fund bumper stickers and political ads. it will allow the i.r.s. to deny tax-exempt status to organizations whose positions it doesn't like. and on and on. and then there is the fact that on a purely practical level, this bill would be a disaster. a recent "daily beast" article highlighted the onerous and impossible to meet requirements the bill imposes on conducting elections. to quote "the daily beast," another media outlet not known for its favoritism to republicans, said the republican was written, quote, with no consultation with election administrators, and it shows. it comes packed with deadlines and requirements election administrators cannot possibly meet without throwing their systems into chaos. the article goes on to say, and
i quote again, the sections of the bill relating to voting systems show remarkably little understanding of the problems the authors apply alarmingly prescriptive solutions to. many of the changes the bill demands of election administrators are literally impossible to implement, end quote. that, again, mr. president, from "the daily beast." mr. president, the democrat supreme court power grab, h.r. 1, is a solution in search of a problem. protecting the right to vote and reserving the integrity of our election systems is essential. and while we are fortunate that our election system by and large seems to be operating well, there are certainly measures that we could take up to further enhance election integrity. mr. president, h.r. 1, h.r. 1 is not one of those measures. this legislation is an unacceptable federal takeover of elections that would undermine, undermine election integrity and
substantially curtail first amendment rights, and every single member of congress should be opposing it. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the mandatory quorum call with respect to the gupta cloture motion be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion. we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of executive calendar number 62, vanita gupta, of virginia, to be associate attorney general, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of vanita gupta of virginia to be associate attorney general shall be brought to a close.
mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. mr. cornyn: i thank the chair. mr. president, as my friend, the republican leader, likes to remind us, the senate is not just a legislative body. we're also in the personnel business. one of the senate's core
responsibilities is to provide advice and consent for the president's nominees for a range of important jobs throughout the federal government. in fact, it's a constitutional duty of the senate to perform that function. when the president is of the opposing party, there is all but a guarantee that you will not see eye to eye with every nominee, but the process isn't just about politics or judging nominees based on whether their opinions align with your own or not. as i see it, we are charged with evaluating these individuals to see if they are qualified, not only to carry out the duties of their position but will also do so with honor and integrity. take attorney general merrick garland, for example. when the senate considered his nomination, it became clear that he had both the experience and the temperament to lead the
department of justice. do we agree on everything? no. but he committed to do everything in his power to keep politics out of the department of justice, and i have no reason to doubt his credibility. the same can be said of the president's nominee for deputy attorney general, lisa monaco, who was confirmed yesterday by the senate. ms. monaco is a long-time public servant who previously served 15 years at the department of justice. throughout her career, she has earned the respect of folks on both sides of the aisle, and i believe she will bring a wealth of experience and institutional knowledge to the department. so my point is i have supported the majority of president biden's nominees thus far and every single nominee has received bipartisan support at some level. but unfortunately, it looks like we are about ready to break that
record of bipartisanship. today the senate will vote on the nomination of vanita gupta to serve as associate attorney general, the third highest official at the department of justice. unlike previous nominees that have received bipartisan support, there is not a single person on this side of the aisle who believes that ms. gupta is fit to serve as the third in command at the department of justice. i can't predict what the final vote will be, it will be at 2:30, but i hear nobody on this side of the aisle saying that she is an exemplar of the type of person who should serve in the department of justice. as i said, this is not about politics, nor are those of us who are opposed to her nomination opposed because of her gender or race. to the contrary, those are irrelevant.
instead, the lack of support for ms. gupta as a result of her radical record far outside the mainstream and her career as a partisan activist. in fact, she has championed radical policies basically all of her professional career. in addition, throughout the confirmation process, ms. gupta has -- was asked about the long list of controversial misleading and sometimes outright false public statements that she has made in the past. her statement before the judiciary last summer, for example, that we should effectively defund the police. her op-ed that argued we should effectively revoke qualified immunity for law enforcement in civil lawsuits. but worst of all were her prior statements on drug policy. in 2012, ms. gupta wrote in an op-ed in the huffington post,
states should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, all drugs. this is obviously an incredibly controversial statement and way out of step with most americans' views, for good reason. what she said is as long as there were small amounts, she would legalize heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, you name it. when ms. gupta tried to distance herself from these previous positions that are published in black and white, here's what "the washington post" fact-check ers said. they said for this tango of previously unacknowledged
flip-flops, gupta earns an upside down pinocchio. now, i've seen a one pinocchio, two pinocchio, three pinocchio, even a four, but i have never seen an upside down pinocchio. for a tango of previously unacknowledged flip-flops. the fact-check examines ms. gupta's confusing then and now statements on police budgets, qualified immunity, and drug policy, and this is what they found. now, i understand and respect the fact that people's opinions can change over time as we learn new information or have different experiences in life, we all understand that one's views can change, but there is a big difference between honestly forming a new opinion and undergoing confirmation conversion to bury radical views
on controversial subjects. after all, how could anyone support a nominee who advocated the decriminalization of all drugs, especially for the number three spot at the department of justice? i'm not sure anyone in this chamber, republican or democrat, could support someone to serve in the upper echelon of the justice department who supported the legalization of heroin, fentanyl, and other dangerous street narcotics. that's why she attempted to whitewash it. she knew she couldn't get nominated, much less confirmed, if she didn't, but here, mr. president, is what we know about drug abuse in america. this is a map of national opioid death rates in america. as you can see, they go from the dark colors, that's where the
death rate is 29 to 43 per 100,000 population, to the slightly lighter range, which is 20 to 29 roughly people per 100,000, and then the lighter ones obviously until you get to the lowest one which is 3.5 to 10.9. every community in america has felt the pain and anguish from the opioid crisis. in 2019, there were more than 70,000 overdose deaths in america, 70,000 americans lost their lives. we're still waiting on complete figures from 2020, but preliminary data shows things are trending in the wrong direction. from june 2019 through may 2020, more than 81,000 americans have
died from drug overdoses. fighting the opioid epidemic is a cause every person in this chamber can get behind because as you can see, each of our states has been impacted. in 2016, thanks to the hard work of a bipartisan group of senators, we passed what became known as the kara -- cara act, the comprehensive, addiction and recovery act. to help more americans break this devastating cycle of drug abuse and overdose, and we've appropriated tens of bls of dollar -- billions of dollars to fight the scourge. as i said and as you can see, no state has been spared the pain and suffering from the opioid epidemic, but we do know some have been hit harder than others. for example, one of the states with the darkest color with the
highest rate of overdose deaths is ohio. and we can see here what had happened in the period roughly from 2009 to 2017 or let me say 2019. from 2009 to 2019, ten years, there were more than 33,000 drug overdoses and deaths in ohio alone. 33,000 ohioans, each with their unique value, contribution, and story. it's an absolutely heartbreaking number of deaths that should have been prevented. another one of those states with the worst problem with opioids was new hampshire. in 2013 the drug overdose deaths
per capita were slightly above the national average at 15 deaths per 100,000. in new hampshire in 2016, just three years later, the death rate increased 158%. first responders across new hampshire experienced a dramatic increase in the calls they got for overdoses. and so they started carrying narcan, a medication used to reverse an overdose if you get there in time before the overdosed individual dies. but they carried them in their emergency gear because these overdose calls became so common. another one of those states hit particularly hard was west virginia. in 2019 west virginia had the highest overdose deaths per
capita. for every 100,000 drug overdose deaths, more than 52 -- i'm sorry -- for every 100,000 population, more than 52 were from an overdose, double the national figure. 21.6 per hundred thousand. that's the national. the west virginia number is double, as you can see. our friend senator capito has been a tireless advocate for west virginia families, many of whom have felt the pain of this crisis firsthand. she recently wrote an op-ed about this nominee about the contradictory and confounding statements she's made in the past, particularly on drug policy. senator capito wrote, it's hard to imagine the level of devastation that we would see if all of these drugs actually were legalized and it's even harder
to imagine that a nominee for a critical law enforcement position would hold this view. i completely agree with our friend from west virginia. given the ruling that the opioid epidemic has dealt in communities across the country, i can't even begin to imagine how much worse it would be had the states heeded ms. gupta's call to decriminalize all drugs for personal use. if fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and other highly addictive drugs were decriminalized, how many more americans would become addicted? how many more would have died? how many more families would suffer the loss of a child, a sibling, a parent? mr. president, i'm profoundly concerned by ms. gupta's prior statements on drug policy as well as her radical statements on defunding the police,
disarming the police and civil lawsuits by eliminating qualified immunity, abolishing the death penalty for the most heinous crimes, and so much more. worse though is her inability to be honest about her position on issues that would directly fall within her purview at the department of justice. the american people deserve to know what -- that leaders at any government department or agency but especially the department of justice, they deserve to though -- to know that these public servants are honest and will tell them the truth. as ms. gupta's upside pinocchio indicates, no senator can have the confidence that ms. gupta would be honest with them or tell them the truth. we hold hearings. we put witnesses under oath
promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me god, and we don't expect people will come into those hearings and lie. we ask follow-up questions. perhaps there was some misunderstanding that you'd like to clear up. believe it or not, ms. gupta answered a written question under oath stating that she had never advocated for the decriminalization of all drugs, even though in 2012 in an op-ed she published in the huff post she did exactly that but then for some reason decided to lie about it under oath to the united states senate judiciary committee. if she would lie to us, she would lie to you, and i fail to see how for some reason we think she will change the way she acts or behaves or improve her standard of behavior when it
comes to honesty and truthfulness. we hold these hearing and ask these questions to understand the opinions, the character, and the motivation of these nominees. but based on what the senate has learned about vanita gupta, i don't believe she's fit to serve as the associate attorney general. the department of justice perhaps more than any other department or agency must be led by men and women of honesty and integrity, people like merrick garland, people like lisa monaco that received overwhelming bipartisan votes here on the senate floor. high-ranking public officials at the department of justice cannot be motivated by partisanship. they must pursue no other agenda other than fair and impartial justice. in contrast ms. gupta has shown she's a partisan activist with a
pension for skirting the truth. if confirmed as associate attorney general, i believe she has the potential to use the powerful tools at the department of justice to wage partisan warfare that has been part of her professional career to this point. if we can't trust her to be honest with us, how can we expect her to fulfill her duty of candor in court rooms, including all aspects of the legal process that depend on honest, tru truthful answers and communications. if we can't depend on her to tell the truth to the senate judiciary committee in the confirmation hearing, how can we depend on her to exercise her duty of candor when applying for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance court, for example. sadly, i believe ms. gupta will be a clear and present danger to
the american people if she's given the muscle and might of the department of justice as well as the entire federal government of the united states of america. mr. president, i cannot support her nomination, and i would urge all of my colleagues to do likewise. mr. president, i yield. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. durbin: mr. president, it's been many years ago that i went to law school. and i still remember some of the courses and some of the teachers and certainly some of my grades. one of the most interesting courses should have been required of every student in every law school in america, and it basically was about this document, this constitution.
because in its simplicity, you're sometimes put off by the fact that there's real wisdom behind the words and applying them in real life can take twists and turns. i found one way, a quick course in constitutional law where average people come to understand the bill of rights better than most. and i found this when i was practicing law in springfield, illinois, and i would get a telephone call from a parent who would say to me, durbin, you've got to help me. they arrested my 17-year-old son for possession of marijuana. what are his rights under the constitution? did they give him a miranda warning? and i started hearing things from parents coming back to me about this document which i was surprised, surprised to hear.
the point i'm trying to make is this. the many -- that many years ago when i was practicing law in springfield, illinois, we were going through a learning process about drugs and addiction. and it has continued to this day. in fact, i don't believe there's a single senator on either side of the aisle who would say, you know, i've been here 20 years or plus. i've never changed my views on drugs. maybe some feel that way. i'm not one of them. there have been dramatic changes in the american attitude toward drugs. i think we know that obviously. there have been changes in many states. in my state of illinois, i think about that parent who called so many years ago in a state where the sale and possession of marijuana and products made with marijuana is now legal and ta taxed. things have changed dramatically when it comes to drugs.
there are very few people who hold to the old school which says simple possession of one marijuana cigarette, we're going to put you in jail and throw away the key. no, it's changed a lot. in fact, it's changed in washington so much so that there was a bill called the first step act. the first step act was a bill that i worked on with senator grassley and senator lee and senator booker who is here today that basically said we are changing our attitude toward drugs. simple possession of a small amount of drugs will not require a mandatory minimum sentence because we'd seen the terrible outcome otherwise. we put that bill together on a bipartisan basis, and president donald trump signed the bill into law, not only signed is but came before us in a state of union address and was proud of
the fact that he had changed and reformed drug laws. so when i hear the arguments made on the floor that perhaps some nominee coming before us may have changed her or his opinion on drugs, i say america has by and large. think about what's happened with this opioid crisis now that it's no longer just -- i say just, underlined -- an inner city crime but a crime that affects families that live in wealthy suburbs, we now are looking at addiction so differently. so let's go to this issue of vanita gupta and her positions on drugs. in questions for the record, senator cornyn, the senior senator from texas, asked vanita gupta what research book studies and other material did you rely on before y concluding that all drugs should be illegal? gupta says she's never said all
drugs should be legal or completely decriminalized. in a floor speech last week, senator cornyn claimed 15 times that gupta had lied in response to this question. senator cornyn held up a poster purporting to show that gupta had ever denied making a 2012 statement decriminalizing a small amount of drugs. the senator said if you publish an op-ed saying the sky is purple and then say the sky is blue, don't tell us you never thought the sky was purple. senator cornyn's claim i'm afraid is false. vanita gupta was completely honest and forthright. cornyn's poster left out the very next sentence of gupta's response in which she clearly acknowledged the past position on decriminalizing the simple possession of drugs. gupta stated, and i quote, i have never advocated for the decriminalization of all drugs, and i do not support the
decriminalization of all drugs. in 2012, nine years ago, i co-authored an article that advocated for states to decriminalize and defelonnize simple possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana for small amounts of other drugs. does this sound like a person who has -- is on a crusade to promote fentanyl, opioids, heroin? it sounds like a person who might have voted for the first step act, signed into law by president donald trump, who says we have to take an honest look at what arrest and imprisonment for simple possession of drugs has done to america. when one out of three black adults, males, have unfortunately a history of incarceration, it raises a question about overincarcerating for possession, possession of drugs. so i think this argument that
she cannot be trusted on the issue of drugs falls apart when you read what she actually said. then there is the question of defunding the police. i don't know who dreamed up that phrase. i don't think much of it. i have never espoused it nor argued for it because i think it's so misleading, and in many respects has been exploited. republicans like to claim that vanita gupta supports efforts to defund the police. she has never called for defunding the police. the suggestion she has done so including an ad by the conservative dark money funded judicial crisis network -- they pop up around here whenever mysterious groups want to spend millions of dollars and discredit someone -- these claims in that ad are patently false. a "washington post" editorial wrote of the judicial crisis network claim, awkwardly there is zero proof of that, including in the ad's own footnoted
citation. "the washington post" called judicial crisis networks ad a baseless smear campaign. categorically dishonest and mainly notable for the magnitude of lies and distortions it crams into 30 seconds. and listen to the response and the source. the executive director of the national fraternal order of police, jim pasko, called this ad, the claim that gupta wanted to defund the police, do you know what he called it? partisan demagoguery. and yet we still hear it on the floor of the senate as if it's gospel truth. the fraternal order of police supports vanita gupta's nomination to this position in the department of justice, and they aren't the only ones. virtually every major law enforcement group supports vanita gupta. you wouldn't know that, would you? when you hear on the floor that
she wants to legalize all drugs and take the money away from police. those simplistic statements belie the truth and the fact that these organizations support her. the republicans starting with senator mcconnell and continuing to this moment will not acknowledge the obvious. these are hard-nosed organizations that don't give their endorsement out easily. they weren't fooled by vanita gupta. they know vanita gupta. in the letter to the senate endorsing gupta's nomination, the president of a major county sheriffs associations of americy hard-nosed group. here's what they wrote. during our meetings, ms. gupta emphasized that she does not support efforts to defund the police. they addressed it directly. they didn't beat around the bush. you don't expect them to, do you? during her tenure at the justice department, vanita gupta worked closely with law enforcement, which is why the senate has
received numerous letters of support for her nomination from law enforcement groups. i could go through the list, and it's long. i won't. trust me. it's all been entered into the record, every senator, democrat and republican has had a chance to see it. but i think there is something more fundamental to this nomination which we are considering wednesday, april 21, in the year 2021. late yesterday afternoon, a verdict in a trial in minnesota captured the attention of america and other places around the world. we all know what it was about. it was about the death of george floyd and the culpability of a law enforcement officer in his death. it was a trial that was followed as closely as any trial that i can remember. and the verdict against the police officer gave some people the hope that we are finally going to walk down that path again of civil rights and be
honest about it and demand equality under the law for everyone in this country in the enforcement of law. i hope that happens, and i hope that we can be a part of it, and we should be, in the united states senate. but i will tell you, and i can predict with certainty, it is going to be a rocky path for those advocates for asserting civil rights. history has shown it, and we -- many of us have lived it, at least as witnesses. with those who step out and speak out for civil rights and human rights often pay a heavy price. one of the people in our history, our recent history who has done just that is vanita gupta, the nominee who is before us today. i mentioned earlier, and i want to commend to my colleagues and anyone else, this book "tulia," written by a man named nate
blakesley. it's a story of a town in texas. i want to briefly describe to you why they write a book about this town in texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, at the appropriate time, i would ask the senator to yield for a brief question, but i don't want to interrupt him, his train of thought. mr. durbin: let me read the summary in this book, and the book cover. i had a chance to read parts of it but not in its entirety. here is what it says. early one morning in the summer of 1999, authorities in the tiny west texas town of tulia began a roundup of suspected drug dealers. by the time the sweep was done, over 40 people had been arrested and one out of every five, one out of every five black adults in town was behind bars. all accused of dealing cocaine to the same undercover officer, tom coleman. coleman, the son of a well-known texas ranger, had been named officer of the year in texas. not until after the trials in
which coleman's uncorroborated testimony secured sentences as long as 361 years did it become apparent that coleman was not the man he claimed to be. by then, two dozen people were imprisoned and the town of tulia had become a battlefield in the national debate over the war on drugs. and there they sat, dozens of them in prison, accused of serious drug crimes. and then a young lady graduated from law school and went to work in the area of civil rights. six months out of law school, she traveled to tulia, texas. her assignment -- bring justice to the situation. i can't imagine six months out of law school, barely having passed some state's bar exam, to be given that assignment. the woman, of course, was vanita
gupta. and she got on a plane from new york, her civil rights organization sent her to tulia, texas, to take on this injustice. by then, they were all sitting in jail. most of them were african american. she was sent to tulia, texas, to rescue them, to try to help. well, she quickly assessed the situation, decided writs of habeas corpus would have to be filed to try to get reconsideration of the charges against these individuals, and then she quickly realized she was in over her head. she couldn't do this alone. there were too many cases. so she went back to new york and started calling law firms, saying i need your help. i need pro bono attorneys, volunteer attorneys that will help me do this case. she tackled it and took it on. and at the end of the day, this brave young woman whom we are about to vote on in an hour and a half, this brave young woman
was responsible for leading a team that liberated these prisoners. the republican governor of the state of texas officially pardon ed them for the drug crimes they had been charged with, and the state of texas offered damages to them for what they had suffered. i can't imagine vanita gupta fresh out of law school heading down to this town in texas and tackling this. how about that for your first assignment? most new lawyers are stuck in the library looking up footnotes and cases. she didn't waste any time buting to down there. the reason i raise that is that at this moment today, not only 24 hours after the verdict in the trial in minneapolis, we're going to need people just like her who have the courage to stand up for civil rights against what seems to be insurmountable odds to bring
back this nation of ours, black, white, brown together and moving forward. i don't believe she should be discredited, dishonored by what is said on the floor of the senate. she should be praised for her courage and determination. she went on to serve in the department of justice as the head of the civil rights division. she took that responsibility, and that is not an easy assignment. many times that division is called on to deal with police departments and law enforcement and to tell them the bad news that sometimes they have done things that are just plain wrong and unacceptable. she did it. she did it with class, with integrity, and the same law enforcement organizations have endorsed her today. the republicans who criticize her and they come to the floor today and call her a radical cultural warrior. radical cultural warrior. recently she was just called on the floor a clear and present
danger. i find it hard to imagine that anyone could read or know of any section of what she did in this book and describe her as a radical cultural warrior. she brought justice to a situation where few people could have done it and did it fresh out of law school. she is an extraordinary person. she is a courageous person. she is a person of integrity and honesty and dedication to public service. i am happy to support her nomination. and i will yield for a question. mr. cornyn: will the senator yield for a question? mr. durbin: i yield for a question. mr. cornyn: this is the quote from the article that vanita gupta wrote on november 4, 2012. it said states should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana, and for small amounts of other drugs. and then in her sworn testimony,
in response to written questions, she said i have never advocated for the decriminalization of all drugs, and i do not support the decriminalization of all drugs. 2012, support the decriminalization of all drugs. 2021, i have never supported the decriminalization of all drugs. i wonder if my colleague -- i just simply can't reconcile those two statements, both giveo the judiciary committee. can you reconcile those statements? mr. durbin: thank you, senator. i will reconcile it in the words of vanita gupta. in 2012, i co-authored an article that advocated for states to decriminalize and defell onize simple possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana, and for small amounts of other drugs. how much more clarity do you need? now, you and i know that we live by our words, and many times
even as senators, people find statements and speeches that we have made and come back and challenge us, and i would just say her statement is not only clear, it is a mainstream statement. to argue that this woman is for legalizing all drugs as some have suggested is ridiculous. she has never said that, and she has made it clear what her position is, and it is a position which most americans share. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i would ask the senator to yield for one more -- one last question. we could all understand how people's views change over time, but there is no way to reconcile these two statements, 2012, and 2021, which is the reason i believe that ms. gupta, for some reason lost to me, decided to tell the senate judiciary committee two inherently conflicting statements under oath. she could have gotten out of it the easy way and said well, i
made a mistake or i forget, my views changed over time, and i would have accepted that, but to come back on questions for the record and to state something that is 180 degrees opposed to her views in 2012, i have not heard her, i have not heard the distinguished majority whip, i have not heard anybody be able to reconcile those two statements. mr. durbin: mr. president, i reclaim my time if the senator is finished. so do you believe that the federal order of police thinks that she wants to decriminalize and legalize all drugs? do you think the county sheriffs association believes that? do you think they ever would have endorsed her nomination if they believed that for one minute? they don't. i don't. her words are clear. the senator from new jersey have a question?
mr. booker: i appreciate this. i'm supposed to be presiding right now, but i do not want to get p between -- i am but a mouse in the united states. those are two elephant titans over there. mr. durbin: a pretty large mouse. mr. booker: i appreciate the indulgence of the presiding officer. i wanted to just give general remarks about vanita gupta. i would love to weigh in and maybe pick up exactly where senator durbin left off. mr. durbin: i tell you what. let me end my remarks then and just say to the senator from new jersey, i'm here to listen to him as well and to close by saying this extraordinary woman is presenting her credentials for approval by the united states senate at exactly the right moment in history. we need in the department of justice, vanita gupta, who has given a lifetime of courageous service in the pursuit of justice and the pursuit of civil
rights. is there a lesson from minnesota that we should bring to the floor of the senate? it's the fact that we need people like her who can communicate effectively with law enforcement and civil rights group and resolve our differences more at this moment in history than ever. if you can still remember that verdict -- and i'll remember it for a long, long time, as others will -- when you cast your vote on the senate floor today, vote for vanita gupta to be part of this department of justice team at this moment in american history. never have we needed a person with her qualifications more than at this moment. i yield the floor. mr. booker: senator durbin, i appreciate you quickly wrapping your remarks up and indulging me. i had some prepared remarks but i want to break away from them. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. booker: thank you very much for the recognition. i think, i'm not sure but i think i'm the only senator here who lives p in a low-income black and brown community in the united states senate. i live in a beautiful
neighborhood in a beautiful central ward of newark, new jersey. we don't mistake wealth with worth. in fact, i went off to get fancy education. i may have gotten my b.a. from stanford but i got my ph.d. on the streets of newark encountering some of the most incredible people. if there's one lesson i learned early in the days of the 1990's living in the central ward of newark at the height of the drug war is that this war on drugs was not a war on drugs. it was a war on people, and not all people, but certain people. it was a war on poor people. it was a war on black people. and it was destroying lives. people were getting criminal convictions for doing things that two of the last four presidents admitted to doing -- simple possession. getting criminal convictions for it. and here is what is even more
anguishing at a time in the opioid addiction where everybody now is on the same page, that people who are addicted deserve to have treatment. back in those days, churned into the criminal justice system were african americans for simple possession, who were in desperate need of compassion and care and love and treatment. and this gets me to vanita gupta. i watched the two statements that my friend and colleague from texas put up, screaming the difference between those two statements. i don't support the legalization of all drugs, but i do support the decriminalization of small amounts of drugs and getting people help and not a lifetime scarlet letter of being a convicted criminal. she does not support the
criminalization of all drugs. i'm glad to see that she is looking at the challenge that we have in this country of arresting people that need help. and my friend, senator durbin, with great patience and not relying on raising his voice like i do, a real gentleman, said it simply. vanita gupta is not a partisan. she's a patriot. look at her career. i mean, my mom used to tell me, who you are speaks so loudly, i can't hear what you say. in other words, judge a person by what they have done in their life, how they have lived, where they've sacrificed, what commitments they have made. you chart vanita's career from her activism in law school to
defend the constitution, from her very first assignment as a lawyer in texas, defending an outrage of injustice, and winning. where are the people lining up to criticize her in those days working in her nonprofit work? and then for the great high salaries of department of justice workers, she goes to lead the civil rights division. is there people coming forward from the experiences? are there police officers? are there police agencies? are there police groups coming forward to say when she had that high and vaunted position in the department of justice, did she do something that so showed her partisanship? not one. in fact, quite the contrary to that. group after group of police organizations are coming forward and saying she's not a partisan. she's a patriot. i stand by her.
she's not a democrat or republican. she is an honest broker, a fair actor, who pursues justice. she has conservatives who are partisan supporting her. i mean, that's the thing that gets me. we see partisan appointees all the time in here. but here is a woman who actually got people -- mark holden from the koch brothers organization is supporting her. so i understand that maybe people are taking words and twisting them. there's not a member of this body that hasn't had that experience to them, when the intention, the goodwill, the honesty behind the words is distorted and twisted by millions of dollars from outside organizations that somehow want to destroy this woman. i know vanita gupta. she's not just somebody i have a
professional relationship with. i confess to the floor of the united states senate, she has been my friend for years. i had occasion to talk to her dad not during this time when she was nominated. months ago. god, the stories he related about her, the pride that beamed through the telephone about her, about how he came from india with $8 in his pocket, with an immigrant's dream, and now he gets to see his daughters living lives of service, and how his children were wired this way to so appreciate this nation as immigrants, to know that this nation was formed around the highest ideals of humanity, and to see his two daughters pursuing the cause of other country, to make this a more perfect union around the ideals of liberty and justice. that is vanita gupta's life.
i've had private conversations with her for years about these issues that now she's being accused on, and she is not some radical partisan. she has a heart and a compassion for human beings that, to me, inspires my actions. and this is what hurts the most, because somehow i've seen it in our society, when a woman stands up and is strong and defiantly dedicated to ideals that are not made real in reality, they are attacked again and again and again. i've seen it in my own party between presidential candidates, the treatment that the public and the press gives one who is the woman is far different than the same standards they put to the man. and then god bless america, there's something about women of color that seems to really get
them outrageous attacks. i've seen it through my culture's history. they hunted harriet tubman. they despised sojourner truth. they belittled rosa parks. there seems to be some, something about strength, something about talent, something about being willing to tell the truth that generates something, tries to relegate black women to, and women of which are to be hidden figures in history. i see it in every element of our country. even the medical profession, for god's sake. even when you control for income and education, black women giving birth, their pain is not
attended to. they're underestimated for the struggles they're in and they die four times likely than white woman. this woman i have known for years, i have seen her in private and public, i've seen her go to work with republicans, join arm in arm with them in bettering our countries, i've seen her serve in her 30's and 20's. i've seen in every step of her career committed to our country, sacrificed for it. here we stand on the senate floo and i tell -- on the senate floor, on the day after the verdict, i saw police officers break with the wave of history, streams and current, to tell the truth, this is the moment that i have to tell the truth. this is a good american, a great american, honest, committed, who has sacrificed
for her country. and in a time of injustice still, where our jails and our prisons are filled with people who are hurt, when we, the land of the free, has one out of every four incarcerated people and -- get this -- one out of every three incarcerated women on the planet earth in our jails and prisons, almost 90% of them are survivors of sexual assault, this is the time we need more compassion. this is the time we need more empathy. this is the time we need more civic grace towards one another. and vanita embodies that. she stands for that in every fiber of her being. her career echoes with that spirit. and should we confirm her to this position, i promise you here on the senate floor, before the flag of my country, she will do this nation proud.
committed. she will never mistake popularity for that purpose. she will never be distracted like the partisan games going on in the capitol. she will be committed to the higher calling. i ask my colleagues to step back for a moment and see the truth of who she is. who police organizations say she is, who prominent conservatives say she is, to see the person her dad says she is. and elevate this incredible person, this incredible woman of color to a position that desperately, to a nation that desperately needs this kind of leader. i yield the floor.
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: thank you, mr. president. before i begin my comments, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that christina nelson, my coast guard fellow, be granted floor privileges for the remainder of her fellowship. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. murkowski: thank you, mr. president. i didn't come to the floor to speak to the nominee that is before us this afternoon, but following the very impassioned comments by my colleagues, in fairness on both sides of the aisle, and recognizing the vote that i just took about an hour ago to advance vanita gupta to this position, i will take just a moment to explain where i'm coming from and why i will be supporting her final confirmation in just an hour. i have looked at her record. i have had an extensive sit-down with her. i'm impressed with not only her
professional credentials, but really the level of experience, but more to the comments that we just heard on the floor, the passion that she carries with her with the work that she performs. i think it's fair to say we will all agree that her confirmation has been very challenged. she has had a significant back and forth in committee. she has been elevated with very strong rhetorical words in favor and equally words of condemnation. i asked her pointblank, why do you want this? is this worth it? because this has been clearly very hard on her as a nominee. and she paused and reflected a moment and just spoke to how she feels called to serve in a very personal way that i thought was
impactful. we had a long discussion about some of the issues that i care deeply about in my state, as they relate to justice, access to justice, public safety, and the real tragedy that we face when it comes to women, primarily our native women, who experience rates of domestic violence and sexual assault that are shocking, disturbing, and wrong. and despite all that we have as a state -- the resources that we have, the opportunities that we have -- we have not been able to turn the corner as we have needed to and in confronting what i believe is a true scourge. and it's going to take -- it is going to take more than resources. jurisdictionally, it is very complicated in alaska.
we don't have reservations. we don't have similar law enforcement presence in many parts of the state that you might have in the lower 48. and we have a great deal of work to do as a state. but, as we discuss these issues -- but, as we discussed these issues, i if eliminate that i was -- i felt that i was speaking to a woman who had not only committed her professional life to try to get to the base of these injustices, to try to not just direct a little bit of money, put a program in place and walk away and call it a day but to try to truly make a difference. so there are some statements that she has made in some other areas that in fairness i find troubling and concerning and part of my job will be to ensure that she understands clearly how
this translates into issues in my state and with our particular issues. but i am going to give the benefit of the doubt to a woman who i believe has demonstrated through her professional career to be deeply, deeply committed to matters of justice. and so i will be casting my vote in support of her in about an hour here. mr. president, i came to the floor today to talk about something that has been top of my mind for a period of time, and i wanted to bring it to members' attention today because of some recent articles of late as it relates to national security and global competitiveness, particularly as they relate to domestic resource development. in recent months, since the
beginning of this administration, i've spoken out in concern at the direction that i've seen the new administration take with regards to energy security and how that relates to alaska. i've spoken out at length about my opposition to several of these executive orders that were very early on relating to leasing and permitting moratoria in my state. in fact, there were eight specific ordered that were directed to one state and to one state only. that's a pretty hard hit for alaska. in other areas, i don't believe that additional federal lands and waters in alaska should be placed off-limits. we are already, as a state, we hold more public lands than any other state and by considerable degree. i don't believe our public land order removal process should be
paused. this was an announcement that just came out of the department of interior last week. they say they're pausing it, but effectively it could be delayed not just for these next two years going forward but permanently. and what this effectively does is it creates almost de facto wilderness, if you will, because you have placed land in a limbo, in a purgatory for decades. nobody can do anything with it as these p.l.o.'s, these public land orders, remain in place. i note -- no great secret around here -- like most alaskans, i strongly support our resource development industry and the men and the women who work within it. they're my end froms, they're my neighbors. i -- they're my friends, they're my neighbors. i fish with them. i recognize what they do and i
worked hard here in the senate to make sure that centrality is allowed to prosper, not only because of them, the people that i know, but because of what it means for our country, for our economy, for our state's budget, prosperity, and also for our environment. after years of lagging behind the united states has come to a better place on energy in recent years. we've seen domestic production rising. we've seen our emissions falling. we've created jobs. we've generated revenues. we've changed the world geopolitically. even as we have lessened our impact on the climate. but these kind of gains can't be taken for granted. they can't be actively ignored. and they certainly should not be discarded. we have to acknowledge that this energy renewal has not been even
across the country. it's taken place largely on state and private lands. we've got very limited private land in alaska, and state activity -- we've been proudly producing for a while. but we also have -- again, we also have much land that is federally held. and we've only seen help arrive with any kind of activity and production on federal land in the past few years. and i would suggest that we cannot afford that forward progress to be reversed. but, unfortunately, that's the way it feels right now. the threat is the that this -- the threat is that this administration going to take an approach that is going to take us backwards. so the question, i think, is a fair one for us to ask, to discuss here. it's an important question.
what happens if we just decide we're going to turn our backs on this -- our american energy? what happens if we really do move in this direction of just keep it in the ground? what happens if we really do close our eyes to our domestic energy sources, these assets, we close our eyes to the contributions that they provide? and you'll suggest to you that there's a few warning signs that we have up on the horizon. oil provides are back up above $60 a barrel. this actually helps my state. i'll be honest there. we'll accept that for budgetary purposes. but we all talk about what happens typically around memorial day -- you've got driving season coming on; we're still? the midst of a pandemic -- we're still in the midst of a pandemic. but if the united states
artificially restricts its supplies and demand rebounds rapidly, where does this put us? so i mentioned that there have been some articles of late that just really kind of struck me. and it's interesting because i thought they were pretty significant. but it seems like they're relatively unnoticed here in washington. according to bloomberg, russia has now supplanted saudi arabia to be the third-largest supplier of crude oil in the united states. canada is our number one. but there's been a series of circumstances. as our domestic production has fallen, the saudis have also reduced theirs. and it's been venezuela. venezuela is subject to sanctions. their production has pretty much gone off-line to the united states. part of what we're seeing,
though, is the refusal on the federal government's side to approve cross-border pipeline infrastructure. and so canada, again, is our largest -- we import more from canada than anywhere else. and they've got greater capacity to help us out here so we don't have to take it from russia. but instead we haven't been able to take more from canada to fill in that gap because of pipeline capacity. so what happens is we are -- we're sending more of our money to russia at a time when we're not on very good terms with russia. need we say elections, need we say solarwinds, need we say what we're seeing from putin? but this is what's happening. we're sending more of our dollars to russia. and they're sending us more of the resources that we could produce here at home or perhaps
at least import them from some friendlier nations. u.s. crude oil production fell from an average high of 12.2 million barrels in 2019 to an average -- according to otoenergy this loss will return the united states to being a net petroleum importer in 2021 and 2022. by all accounts, a sizable chunk of this will come from russia. so what's going to happen, mr. president, is we're going to move from that position of where we have been in these past few years where we have had some real energy security here because we have been producing and we've been producing to the point that we've been able to even supply to our friends and allies. but now withpologieses that are -- but now with policies that
are making us in a different direction and still knowing that we need the resource, we're turning to russia. this is what really galls me so much. in 2020, the u.s. imported 538,000 barrels of oil per day from russia. in alaska, we recognize alaska as the great producing state, despite our potential and desire to bring it to market, we're produce beingage average of 448,000 barrels a day. is this what we really want? is this what we real lit want, for russia account for more of america's energy supply than alaska? now, we both have similar environments, both big, but oil production goes on in areas that are tough to produce in.
and i will hold alaska's environmental record over that of russia any day. in fact, over most countries and even most states any day. one article put it this way. it said america's increasing reliance on russian oil is at odds with u.s. energy diplomacy. and, you know, let's kind of put it in context. the position that we've taken with nord stream 2. basically what we've said is we're asking those in europe who need russia's gas, we're saying, we need to be tough on this. we need to break russia's hold
here. for all the years, it's been seven years since russia annexed crimea and demonstrated to the would recalled that they're not afraid to -- to the world that they're not afraid to flex their muscle in order to achieve their geopolitical goals. so we've been saying on nord stream 2 in europe, hey, guys, don't go there. and yet we have to look at ourselves here because we then -- if we're telling europe, limit your reliance on russia for gas but over here we're happy to step up our imports from russia on oil? the president has just recently imposed tougher sanctions on russia, as he absolutely should. but i think we need to be -- we
need to be eyes wide open here, folks, in terms of what it means when we need -- when we need that resource. now, i do recognize that much of this discussion on russia and how russia has supplanted venezuelan crude -- i recognize that most of the oil that's being imported is heavy and this is a situation with our gulf coast refineries that are specifically geared for that. and i do recognize that they have fewer options right now. but i do think that this is a conversation that we need to be talking about. we can't just sit back and say, well, this is just the way it is. congress and the administration need to be taking the steps necessary to ensure that we in this country have a strong, stable supply of domestic energy to meet our current demand. our future demand, and to the greatest extent possible, the demand from our allies. russia is positioning itself to
capitalize on all of that. they produce from wherever they want, and they're going to sell to wherever they can. and the at least that we can do here at home is to support our own responsible production from states like alaska so that we've got our supply, our own supply, and can provide a diversified commercial alternative. so moving from oil and gas briefly here, alaska's also ready to help in another increasingly crucial area, and that is with mineral development. our history of tectonic events that is created a geological environment that fosters deposits of a wide variety of minerals that are critical to both our current and our future economies. back in 2018, the department of interior designated 35 critical minerals based on their importance to our economy and security as well as their u.s.s-
susceptability to supply. they are critical to everything. our military is certainly aware of this. they recognize the vulnerable position that we are in. our manufacturers recognize the vulnerability. these are products that we use on a daily basis. right now the u.s. is import reliant on 31 of the 35 minerals designated as critical. we've got relatively no domestic production. we rely completely on imports to meet our demand for 14 of these. and of course most of where we are importing these materials are from china. that's not okay. that shouldn't be acceptable to us. i think we all should agree on the need to rebuild our domestic mineral supply chains, and there's been good, positive
conversation about what we can do. i feel that this is one of those areas of growing vulnerability. it used to be we would talk about our vulnerability on the middle east for our oil. and then policies changed and we reduced our reliance on that. that's why i'm anxious, i'm concerned about what i'm seeing, seeing translate going forward. i think we need to be, again, eyes wide open when it comes to our mineral dependence and our reliance on these important materials for what we need to be a strong nation. i think that this is a pressing, a long-term security threat that we face in this country. we've seen it play out in light of the covid pandemic. we've seen the vulnerability of international supply chains. i thought it was great, it was so important that the administration really focused in on this.
the new administration is focusing on this in a good way, and i appreciate that. when president biden first -- well, when he released the first part of his infrastructure proposal, focusing on international domestic supply chains, he's got one section there about electric vehicles. in the white fact sheet, it says that the plan will enable auto makers to spur domestic supply chains from raw materials to parts, retool factories to compete globally and support american workers to make batteries and e.v.'s. this is the type of policy we should all want to get behind, broaden out to every industry, not just to a select few. but the question here, though, is whether the administration is willing to accept that what is going to be necessary in order to achieve these goals to have the secure supply chains, especially when it comes to
expanding our domestic supply of raw materials, it's going to require approval of mining projects. and that's been a challenge for us. that's been a challenge for us. and this is where i go to another article that came up a few weeks back. this is from reuters. it appears to me that rather than looking within our own borders, the administration is looking beyond. in this article from reuters, it states, u.s. looks to canada for minerals to build electric vehicles. and it provides the u.s. government is working to help american miners and battery makers expand into canada, part of a strategy to boost regional production of minerals used to make electric vehicles and counter chinese competitors. and it goes on further to talk about the different ways that the department of commerce is discussing with many how we can
boost canadian production of e.v. materials. it goes on further to say, but washington is increasingly viewing canada as a kind of a 51st state for mineral supply purposes. i'm a big fan of canada. they're our neighbor. but if we're going to be adding canada as a 51st state to help us with our minerals and access to minerals, let's not forget the 49th state, because alaska has good, strong resources. where we seem to have problems is gaining access through, whether it's permitting process or just the ability to move forward with some of our mineral
potential. and so, again, i'm not suggesting that we shouldn't be looking to our friends to build these alliances, particularly with our neighbors direct to the north and to the south. this is good. i'm not suggesting let's not be talking to canada. this is an important part of how we really work to build these secure supply chains. all i'm suggesting is that we here in america need to also look to the strength of our resource assets. now, there are some, again, the issue of mining in this country sometimes can be a controversial one. i'm going to suggest to folks that if we really want to do more to build out not only our national security, but if we want to build out our clean, diverse energy infrastructure,
moving towards the president's vision of greater renewable opportunities, which i want to do, let's acknowledge that we're going to need these minerals. we don't really have a choice here. the world bank recently released a report looking at the mineral intensity of clean energy transition. they found that, quote, large relative increases in demand of up to nearly 500% are estimated for certain minerals, especially those concentrated in energy storage technologies such as lithium, graphite and cobalt. the report also found that even with large increases in recycling, including scenarios where 100% end of life recycling is achieved, there is still likely to be strong demand for primary minerals. so we know we're going to need it. people like elon musk last year says please mine more nickel. he promised tesla will give you
a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally welcome way. goldman sachs found the increasing prices is forcing us to brace for a surge in the lithium, intawlt and nickel -- cobalt and nickel. we've got to acknowledge that there's going to be a mineral footprint. it will being impossible to establish a robust domestic supply chain for e.v.'s and batteries if we continue to import the raw materials from other nations, including some that continue to dramatically outcompete us in these areas every year. i think we need a rational, clear-headed, eyes-wide-open approach to energy and mineral development. we don't want to go back on energy, and we can't be caught
flatfooted on minerals. we've got the resources. we have the highest labor standards in the world, the highest environmental standards in the world. our energy workers, our miners, they'll hold themselves to those standards. so instead of importing more from places like russia and china, we need to free ourselves from them to the extent that we can and establish ourselves as this global alternative. so i've kind of taken that -- actually not something new. at the beginning of the 116th congress, i prepared a white paper. we called it the american and global -- well, we called it the -- it's a pretty cool title. it's a great little publication that should have gotten more notice, but like a good wine, it comes with time. with powers so disposed, america and the global strategic
energy competition. and i outlined in this, strategic energy initiative designed to sharpen and direct our tools of energy related to economic statecraft and enhance the geopolitical position of the country. i am introducing from that, as a jumpoff from that, i'm introducing my strategic energy and minerals initiative act. we call it the semi act. this legislation will enable u.s. companies to better compete in global markets, promotes the responsible domestic production of our oil and our gas and our minerals. i think these are, these are initiatives that are good for us to be looking critically at again. as we move forward with this administration's priorities on not only how we can build infrastructure, build it better, build it cleaner, build it with a renewable
future, but we have to recognize that when we build things, we need base elements. and so know that alaska is ready, willing, and able to play a role on all these fronts. we've got tremendous stores of resources. but equal to those tremendous stores of resources is the responsibility that i believe alaskans feel to be good stewards as we access those resources, to allow for a level of sustainability, whether it is with our fisheries or whether it is with the subsistence, livelihoods of those who rely on the food and animals on the land. we believe that we can contribute to our national security and our global competitiveness while at the same time working to protect the environment. but what we need is the chance to be able to do so.
with that, mr. president, i thank you, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. ms. ernst: thank you, mr. president, very much. mr. president, when you hear the word infrastructure, what comes to mind? for folks across iowa, it's roads, it's bridges, locks and dams, ports, waterways, and broadband. but according to the biden administration, infrastructure is now a buzzword that encompasses just about every item on the progressive wish list. as a result, the president's infrastructure proposal takes a
very sharp left turn by including everything from elements of the socialist green new deal to higher taxes on american workers. some of my democratic colleagues are even urging the president to include a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in the infrastructure package. how about we make the wall on our southern border infrastructure? probably to no one's surprise, once again the senate majority leader is plotting to pass the bill in a totally partisan process. and, folks, we really need to pump the brakes. the democrats are steering us the wrong way on this issue.
infrastruc -- infrastructure is an issue that has always enjoyed broad bipartisan support in congress. we may disagree on how much to spend or how to pay for the costs, but we all agree that maintaining and improving our roads, bridges, ports, and waterways is one of the most important roles of the federal government. there is no reason to drive us apart on such an important issue that typically brings us together and impacts all of our states. but president biden is on a one-way street to more gridlock.
only about 5% to 6% of the $2.2 trillion of the biden proposal is dedicated to roads and bridges. the biden plan spends less fixing potholes and repairing roads than it does on promoting electric vehicles and perks for the coastal elites that drive them. and you better believe this could have a devastating impact on iowa's ethanol and biodiesel industries that support our state's local economies. even the liberal "washington post" is taking issue with the democratic administration's claim that 19 million jobs will be created by the proposal. the real number is less than three million.
each job created by this so-called american jobs act will cost our taxpayers $865,000. and because american workers will bear the brunt of the higher taxes in the biden plan, that means lower wages. these costs are sure to give taxpayers road rage. mr. president, there's no reason to take this radical left turn. lest congress -- democrats and republicans in the senate environment and public works committee, which i served on, work together to unanimously pass out of committee an important infrastructure bill to help fix our roadways. this highway bill provides us with a great startingpoint to
move us forward in the right direction towards a bipartisan infrastructure plan. this five-year $287 billion bill was the largest highway bill in history. and it was supported by senators from across the political spectrum who represented states from vermont and new york to alabama and mississippi and, of course, iowa. hailing from a very rural part of iowa, i am all for looking at ways to invest in broadband expansion to support our roadways and to make sure we have the right infrastructure in place to combat flooding in my home state. those are true infrastructure needs and the ones that i
believe would get a a strong, bipartisan support in a 50-50 senate. but by throwing in progressive policy wishlist items and non-infrastructure-related provisions, the biden plan is headed down a dead-end street. the president needs to do a u-turn and start working with republicans on a bipartisan road map for america. by putting aside the partisan pet projects, projects like the honolulu high-capacity transit corridor project, and picking up where we left off with a unanimously bipartisan highway bill, we can steer the infrastructure bill into the passing lane under the senate's regular order.
so, folks, let's come together and literally start building some bipartisan bridges. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. blunt: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, i want to talk also about infrastructure and associate myself with the interest that the country has in country. in fact, one of the things that the government has done the longest has been roads and bridges and canals, and i think initially the term was internal improvements was what in the early 19th century they would have talked about when they talked about what we began to talk about later as infrastructure. but during the -- almost the entire history of the country, there was an understanding of what infrastructure meant in america, and infrastructure is pretty popular.
infrastructure is definitely something that you generally can't do for yourself. you can't on your own provide the water line that connects your house to the next house; on your own you can't provide the road that gets you from home to work; on the one hand your own, you can't do a -- on your own, can't do a lot of things that we did early on and up till now and call them infrastructure. they were big projects that sometimes crossed state lines, big projects that sometimes that were just too big for a state sore a town to handle, or a town to handle. i'll talk later about the way we did the things. that bipartisan agreement also largely led to figuring out ways of -- that infrastructure would pay for itself, that the people who use the infrastructure would pay for the infrastructure and we looked at that in a number of
different ways. now, in the package that the administration has proposed -- the $2.3 trillion package -- there are lots of things in there that i don't disagree that the senate should debate. i don't even rule out of hand that the country might want to do. but i think they're not infrastructure. and the funding way to get to them makes it harder to have the kind of bipartisan agreement that i think we could have in an infrastructure bill. republicans are for it. democrats are for it -- in the house, in the senate. let's talk about how to get there. but let's also make the point that, you know, the $213 billion in this plan that is for green new deal building makeovers. there may be a place to do that, and it's something that, mr. president, we can clearly debate, but it's not the same thing as infrastructure where --
i was the chairman one time in the missouri housing development commission. we did a the love things to make it possible for -- we did a lot of things to make it possible for people to have houses or people to have buildings that they could have the opportunity to be in part of that building. but we never really called it infrastructure and we did in a d way. on surface transportation generally for decades that was paid by the highway trust fund. and how did you fund the highway trust fund? you fund the highway trust fund by people pulling up to a station, putting fuel in their car and when they did that, they paid into the highway trust fund. the more miles you drove, the more you paid into the highway trust fund and americans thought that was fair. now we haven't raised the highway gas tax since 1993.
that could very well be a debate we should have as part of an infrastructure package. if not the as if tax, what other kind of user fee could there be? lots of people use the highways, the roads, the bridges, the interstate highway system that don't pay gas tax now because they're transitioning to vehicles like electric vehicles that don't fill up at that gas pump. that's a debate i think we should have as part of an infrastructure debate. just last year it was predicted that the highway trust fund would run out of money before the year was over, and it does because we collect less money every year than we spend every year, so we've decided to subsidize that out of general revenue. but nobody in that debate ever thought that should be the permanent solution. other kinds of projects -- we look for ways to help the end user make a project possible,
both in urban communities and in rural communities. there are programs where you can replace your water system or your storm water system with something that works, replace it appropriately. what we've done there is say, we're going to figure out how you can either guarantee your bonds or have a -- or write down your loan or both. so the users in those systems over maybe 30 years would pay back in an amount they could afford what happened when you turned the lead water pipe into an appropriate water pipe. i'm in favor of replacing every lead water pipe in america, but i think you can do that in a way that the users of those systems pay for those systems just like all of their neighbors in neighboring communities are paying for their systems. we can help them do that, and we have proven we can help them do
that. we can also create an infrastructure bank. senator warning and i have worked -- senator warner and i have worked on that for years. we're going to reintroduce the repair act that would really be a nonpartisan financing authority where government guarantees that a certain amount of that money and maybe government assistance in putting together a public-private partnership creates another way that a little bit of federal money creates a lot more infrastructure activity t you could look at these and other issues like asset recycling where government leases or sells some existing public infrastructure and uses the proceeds of that to fund new projects. in australia they use that system to help pay for an expansion of subway systems and other things and in fact the federal government would encourage local governments to privatize one of their -- one of
their local government assets that had customers. then they'd make that money and maybe build sidewalks that don't have customers. and the water system that did have customers would have helped build the sidewalks as it's managed by a private company. but all those private companies are regulated in a way that people who are customers know they're protected. we have a lot of bipartisan infrastructure bills over the last decades and more than decades. infrastructure bills are not new to america. figuring out how you have an infrastructure bill that meets the definition of infrastructure and a system where the infrastructure goes as far as it possibly can to pay for itself by those people that use it, it has always involved republicans and democrats reaching an agreement. i don't know that there's ever
been a partisan infrastructure bill. it's always involved reaching agreement on what would be in the bill and finding ways to pay for it. new definitions can really confuse ideas that the american people think they understand. people are for infrastructure. they think that's something the government should do. they can pass a test on what they believe infrastructure means if they ever watched an infrastructure debate before. let's find way that we can move forward in a bipartisan way with an infrastructure bill that meets about the standards of infrastructure and meets the standards of doing everything we can to be sure that that system is fairly paid for by people who use it and can afford to pay for it. with that, i'd yield back. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming.
ms. lummis: thank you, madam president. i rise to echo and augment the remarks of the senator from missouri and to call on president biden and democrats in congress to work with republicans on a bipartisan infrastructure bill. as the only senator in the unique position of sitting on all three committees with jurisdiction over transportation, i have a particular interest in making sure we are adequately funding our roads and bridges. i've had many conversations with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and everyone agrees that we have real infrastructure and transportation needs that must be addressed. the american society of civil engineers recently gave our roads a d-minus rating, noting our $786 billion backlog on roads and bridges capital needs.
they gave of our bridges a c-minus rating and a repair tag of $125 billion. we also need to take another look at how we fund our highway system. right now we have a highway trust fund that we can't actually trust. since 2008 we've been relying on general fund transfers to pay for our roads and bridges instead of fixing our user fee model to keep the trust fund solvent. user fees allows people deriving the most benefit from the system to give the most in support. this is a very fair american way of doing things and the certainty we get from a functioning user-fee model is important for rural states like my home state of wyoming. while much divides congress these days, infrastructure, as that term is understood by most americans, is a bipartisan
issue. as such, one would assume that president biden would want to find some common ground in order to build rips in congress and address the needs of every citizen. so it's perplexing that president biden, who campaigned on bringing our nation together, is now pushing a blatantly partisan infrastructure bill. let me show you why partisanship is unnecessary in the infrastructure space. i recently helped my democratic colleagues on the environment and public works committee pass a bipartisan drinking water and wastewater infrastructure bill out of committee with unanimous support. this is clear evidence that democrats and republicans can come together on infrastructure issues and find common ground. in 2019, the e.p.w. committee, under the leadership of my fellow senator from wyoming, john barasso, unanimously passed
a bipartisan five-year highway funding bill. this would be a great place to start for any infrastructure bill in congress. but this barely scratches the surface of bipartisan infrastructure legislation. honestly, i'm hard pressed to remember a time when infrastructure was not bipartisan. the american water infrastructure act of 2018, bipartisan. the water infrastructure improvements for the nation act of 2016, bipartisan. the highway transportation funding act of 23015, -- 2015, bipartisan. the fixing transportation surface act of 2015, bipartisan. the water resources development act of 2014, bipartisan. this isn't even a full decade of congressional action and all of these happened in partisan environments when americans were divided on a host of issues.
but despite our divisions, we've always come together to address american infrastructure. in 2021 this should hb no different. -- should be no different. if president biden wants to truly unite the nation, he should work with republicans on the most basic bipartisan issues and he might be surprised which members of congress are there to join him. i'll use myself as an example, i opposed many of president biden's actions to date, but i support his decision to bring our troops home from afghanistan and i am doing so publicly. i have also supported many of president biden's nominees, including secretary buttigieg. if president biden comes to work with democrats and republicans on a bipartisan infrastructure bill, i will be there to work with him every ■step of the way. i know my colleagues feel the same. all we're asking is for the
unity president to come to the table. thank you, madam president. i yield back. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. cramer: i'm pleased to be able to join my colleagues on the floor today and associate myself with the comments with them, and demonstrate my strong support for america's investment in infrastructure. as my colleagues said, infrastructure has been one of the most bipartisan policy areas in congress over the decades, and rightfully so. i mean, we are obligated to provide for the national infrastructure. and as a lead republican on the e.p.w. subcommittee on transportation and infrastructure, i am committed to doing my part. i'm confident that we can accomplish this on a national level and in a strong bipartisan fashion. as said, under the leadership of chairman barasso, e.p.w. passed the infrastructure act.
it was the most substantial highway bill yet in our history. it authorized hundreds of billions of federal dollars to maintain and repair america's roads and bridges and made regulatory changes very important, regulatory changes so projects wouldn't get derailed by endless bureaucracy. it decided how states will receive the federal funds. this funding formula ensures that states with small populations but expansive road systems like north dakota, wyoming, and oklahoma, receive the sufficient resources to update their roads and bridges within their borders. it is states like ours that feed and fuel the country. so not only does the traditional funding formula protect the interest of rural america, it protects all of america. the movement of goods and services in support of our economy and the consumers cannot reserve a few,000 miles here and there -- a few thousand miles here and there for gravel.
interstate commerce requires a transportation system ha is safe an sufficient for every mile. the pavement can't end in minneapolis and picked up in seattle. for food to get to your table relies on safe and reliable roads, bridges, rails. my state is the -- is a top producer of drops. we're a top -- crops. we're the top producer of durham. it is ground into semalina, which is in pasta. if you love pasta, you have to get the durham off the elevator where a train or truck will pick it up and it will be ground to s ema -- semalina and it will
then go to a retailer. before it gets into a pot of boiling water in your manhattan apartment or favorite los angeles restaurant. that's why we formulated it in the house, it's why we kept it no the committee last congress and it's why we should include it now. under the leadership of chairman carper and ranking member capito, e.p.w. had two hearings reiterating the importance of investing in america and dealing with the solvency of the highway trust fund. it was disheartening to read a story earlier this week and see how many of my colleagues are urging the president to not work with republicans and to go it alone on infrastructure. one even said he was worried that republicans would, quote, never show up. well, here we are. we've shown up. and like i told chairman carper
just last week, i believe we should go big. we should aim high. this is a tremendous opportunity to pass a major bill that will benefit our country as a whole and the states we represent. we cannot let one of the most bipartisan areas in washington get derailed because a narrow majority in the senate decided to pursue a partisan short-sighted goal. i will support an infrastructure that is bold, bipartisan and meets the demands of the moment and i urge my colleagues to do the same. i yield. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: madam president, let me read to you a section of the proposal on infrastructure that's been put out by the white house. just one section of many sections that's there. this particular section on national critical infrastructure reads this way. funds for schools to reduce or
eliminate the use of paper plates and disposable materials. i don't know what your definition of infrastructure is, but i don't meet a lot of oklahomans that when i say infrastructure, they think school lunch trays. we need to work on infrastructure. and i would tell you, i don't meet a republican that's not engaged in this issue of infrastructure. and it's not the first time for any of us to work on infrastructure. we've had multiple bills. i remind people around my state that every time you're driving around in my state and you see an orange construction zone and flashing sign, that was a previous infrastructure bill that was done. every direction that you go in my state, you're going to see infrastructure that's already happening and working. because working on infrastructure is a common part of what we do. republicans have stepped to the table and they've said, let's work on infrastructure together.
in fact, it was interesting president trump over and over again talked about working on infrastructure and trying to get a major infrastructure proposal. our definition of infrastructure doesn't include school lunch trays. we'd like to work on highways. this particular package that the white house has sent us, we just raised our hand and said we have a few questions before we move this forward. this particular proposal spends $174 billion for electric vehicles, but only $115 billion for the highways that they'll drive on. we just believe we need to spend more on highways. we don't mind incentivizing electric vehicles, but, quite frankly, there's been a lot of incentives out there already. every tesla that you pull up to, when you see them at a stoplight, you should ask for your turn to drive. because every one of those beautiful tesla vehicles, the
taxpayer has kicked in tax subsidies for that beautiful automobile that someone else is driving. there have been tax incentives for other vehicles, we believe we need to spend more on dealing with our roads and bridges because they are in major problems. what can we do? for those of us in oklahoma, we know i-35, interstate 44 and interstate 40, cross the state, we're the center of the country in trucking. we have the farthest most inland port in oklahoma where a lot of wheat and fertilizer moves through our state. we understand the significance of what it means to be table to work on our ports, our waterways, our highways, our bridges to deal with clean water, to deal with sewage water and to deal be broadband. all of those things are essential for every farm to operate and every section of the
country to function. let's work on this together. let's find a way to actually hit common ground and agree that working on airports, working on highways, and working on bridges are vital to us and then let's talk about the rest of the other things on this because we have a lot of debt as a country. and adding another $2.5 trillion and having to debate about a corporate tax change that quite frankly in 2017 when we made that corporate tax change, 70% of the difference in those companies went to employees' wages. now to go back and raise that corporate tax again, we know exactly what that's going to mean for employees of those countries an future raises that that may or may not get. so let's actually talk about this and let's work on infrastructure together but let's actually work on what is truly infrastructure. with that, i yield back. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming.
mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. i ask that senator boozman, senator marshall and senator did durbin be able to speak prior to the vote. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. barrasso: i come to add my remarks to the senator from oklahoma. the democrats are running 100-yard dash toward socialism. they decided to redistribute american's wealth, president obama used to call this spreading the wealth around. democrats are taking the wealth of our nation and they are gathering up in washington, d.c., and deciding then how they want to spend it. in march president biden signed a big payoff to the people who run the democrat party, the union bosses, the d.c. bureaucrats and bankrupt blue
states. he said it was a kroins relief -- coronavirus relief bill. now president biden is back requesting $2.7 trillion under the namesake of infrastructure. when you read through it, it looks like once guiness trying to spread the wealth around, gathering it not for what we consider traditional infrastructure, roads, bridges, ports, highways, airports, waterways, dams, reservoirs, you name it. it seems once again it's going to the democrat elites. it looks like a slush fund for liberal funding. going to union bosses, climate activists and silicon valley contributors to the party. where is the money coming from? the last bill went on the credit card. the next one is coming out of the wallets of the american people. president biden is proposing the largest tax increase in a generation. working families and small businesses are going to be on
the hook. they'll put the american worker at a disadvantage. look, there hasn't been a proposed tax increase of this size in this century. it's going to affect everyone in this country and it's going to be a rude awakening for the many small businesses who are finally reopening after living the past year with a coronavirus pandemic. now, in addition to the struggles they have been through, they are going to be hit with a big tax increase. now, we know who is going to end up footing the bill for the president's tax hikes. he may say that it's just corporations. madam president, the american people are going to be hit with this tax increase. you can call it a tax cut on corporations that absolutely just ricochets back onto the people who work for those businesses and who buy the products of those businesses. president biden is going to try to spin it another way.
the highest costs of all of this are going to be borne by american families. higher taxes of course mean fewer jobs. one estimate says that will bill is going to kill a million jobs. these aren't c.e.o. jobs. these are middle-class jobs. these are the jobs of hardworking families in my state of wyoming and states all around the country. prices across the country are already going up under president biden. the cost of energy went up 9% just last month. gasoline prices are up over 50 cents a gallon since president biden took office and started his executive orders attacking american energy. if this bill that's being proposed now under the name of infrastructure becomes law, well, we will note that the price increases are just beginning. because of president biden, more wealth is about to be taken from places all across middle america and certainly in my home state of wyoming. and they will be sent to the democrat elites in manhattan and silicon valley and of course
here in washington, d.c. democrats are focused on redistributing our wealth. they want to take it from working families and give it to their liberal donors. it's a bad law, it's bad economics, and i urge my colleagues to stand for jobs, for higher wages, and for the working men and women of our nation who know what infrastructure really means and the kind of infrastructure that they need for their communities. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. boozman: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. boozman: thank you, madam president. i join my colleagues today to join the ongoing discussions taking place in congress, among the executive branch, and in communities across the country about the state of our nation's infrastructure and how to
improve it to propel our economy forward and enhance the quality of life in arkansas and every state. as a member of the senate environment and public works committee, i understand the importance of infrastructure investment. i have been a constant advocate for water resources development, surface fration investments, and the expansion of rural broadband. president biden recently released a plan that claims to rebuild america, claims to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure. while i agree the infrastructure investment must be a top priority, i have serious concerns about this particular proposal. the president should look to the successful example of the senate environment and public works committee as a starting point for this critical bill. there are a number of bipartisan infrastructure-related bills in the senate which are being thoroughly vetted and are ready to be passed. instead, the administration is trying to reinvent the wheel.
my advice to president biden is simple -- the path forward to achieve long-term infrastructure improvement is through bipartisanship. just weeks ago, the environment and public works committee unanimously passed the drinking water, waste water infrastructure act. last congress, the committee unanimously passed america's transportation infrastructure act to provide resources and long-term certainty for states and local governments to build safer and more modern highways, railroads, and bridges. these bills are just two examples of the good work the senate has been doing to invest in our nation's crumbling infrastructure, and i'm pleased to hear this chamber may begin consideration of the drinking water and waste water infrastructure act this month. unlike the house of representatives, and the biden administration who continue to undermine bipartisanship by developing and advancing a
progressive policy agenda, the senate has been working in a bipartisan manner to find solutions for our transportation challenges. mr. president, biden is listening. my message to him is this -- work smarter, not harder. there is no reason we need to start at the beginning of this process. the senate e.p.w. committee has done the work which can and should be the basis for any infrastructure proposal. i've always said that if you take the e. out of e.p.w., we actually get a lot done in our committee. for a good example of the type of cooperation that can be achieved, look no further than the work of senator inhofe and former senator boxer. these two colleagues had little in common. however, they agreed on the importance of infrastructure investment, and they were able to usher major legislation through congress through a collaborative and deliberative process. the same is true for chairman
carper and ranking member capito. while these two have ideological differences, they have demonstrated their ability to work together to create a bipartisan product. we want to work with the biden administration on infrastructure to update basic public services such as safe roads and bridges. we have innovated financing and private sector investment. we will be creating jobs and keeping commodity prices low while remaining competitive in the global marketplace. however, we will not -- tolerate a partisan process where only one side gets to offer input, with the end result being a liberal wish list of projects and priorities that have nothing to do with infrastructure investment. infrastructure is about as ripe as any area that we have to actually get something done of a major nature in a bipartisan cooperative way.
i'm back in arkansas almost every week, and i can tell you what arkansans want. they want us to be able to disagree while also creating good commonsense policy. a bipartisan infrastructure bill is a way to demonstrate the president's willingness to work across the aisle. i am ready to create a path forward to update and modernize our nation's traditional infrastructure needs, as well as make wise investments in our water systems, energy grids, and broadband deployment where there is bipartisan agreement on the urgent need to act. and with that, madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. marshall: thank you, madam president. simply stated, president biden's so-called infrastructure plan helps china and hurts hardworking americans. let me say it again. this bill helps china and hurts hardworking americans. less than 5%, that's how much of
this $2 trillion infrastructure proposal actually goes towards building roads and bridges in the united states. instead, this partisan proposal is loaded with green new deal pet projects and an abundance of spending that stretches far beyond recognition of what hardworking americans define as infrastructure. this is not the first time we have seen democratic attempts to redefine the traditional meaning of words. in recent weeks, the white house has also moved to change how people perceive bipartisanship in congress. no longer do our colleagues across the aisle need to secure republican votes in order to successfully pass a so-called bipartisan bill. one obscure poll with cleverly worded questions that helps to garner bipartisan support from respondents will do the trick. it's just manipulation of words that allow president biden to keep trying to ram through this radical agenda and sell it to the american people as fulfilling his campaign promise of unity.
president lincoln once said you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time. the american people won't be duped by washington's doublespeak. i hosted five town halls this past weekend, and kansans have their eyes open to what's in this bill. kansans understand that while this bill provides $115 billion for roads and bridges, more than half of the over $2 trillion is devoted to green energy products and the elimination of fossil fuels. among these green provisions is $170 billion for electric car chargers and taxes for purchasing electric cars. it also calls for electrifying 1/5 of the nation's school buses and all 650,000 of the united states postal service delivery trucks, which will result in driving up the cost to americans. when unveiling this
infrastructure plan, president biden mentioned china six times as he attempted to sell it as a way to compete with china. however, this rapid jump to electric vehicles does the opposite and will benefit china more than many hardworking americans. that's because china leads the world in manufacturing 80% of the materials needed for batteries and will continue to do so. of the 136 lithium ion battery plants in the pipeline between now and 2029, 101 are based in china. china mines 64% of the world's silicon and makes 80% of the world's polysilicon with coal-generated electricity, the key component to solar panels. this bill will serve as a boon to china while hurting our gas and oil industry. this bill will harm our general economic output by taking $2 trillion out of the private
sector. we should really be calling this package the grab your wallet bill or raise your taxes bill. the legislation calls for the largest corporate tax increase in decades and will put the tax burden on american companies toward the top of the developed world list. this will make american companies less competitive in the global market. it's a spe to kill the economy at a time when -- it's a recipe to kill the economy when our nation is still recovering from covid. it will also affect our economy in the long term. according to provisions from penn wharton budget model, as a part of this legislation, overall g.d.p. will be decreased 0.9% lower in 2021, and hourly wages would be down by 0.7% in 2021 and 0.7% in 2050. programs what's most disappointing are this bill shows are gone are the days when infrastructure packages were an opportunity to build bipartisan
bridges. thanks to republicans' control of the senate and reaching across the aisle, the two most bills governing spending on roads and bridges passed with overwhelming bipartisan support before they were signed into law. so in case there is still an opportunity for bipartisanship, let me tell you what i'm for. i'm for a package that, number one, reaches across the aisle and builds our -- and rebuilds our aging roads and bridges. next, incentivizes innovation, invests in future generations, ensures high-speed internet for all americans, and reforms our permitting process so that we can say shovel ready, we really mean shovel ready as opposed to going through years of permitting and driving up the cost of the project. look, pre-covid-19, we had the strongest economy in my lifetime thanks to republican-led policies put in place over the last four years. lower taxes and deregulation resulted in historically low unemployment rates as well as american independence and afford energy costs. we need to get back to these
policies, not continue the onslaught of harmful red tape, proposed tax increases, and unprecedented spending sprees. for the future of our children and grandchildren depend on it. thank you, madam president, and i yield back. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. durbin: i would guess that the american people could give us a word of advice in the united states senate. they would suggest that we do our best to work together, that we try to establish priorities and meet them, and that we try to bring to the new administration of president joseph biden the most competent, qualified people that we can to help our nation through this pandemic and our economic recovery. and it's in that spirit that i close the debate on vanita gupta to be the next associate attorney general of the united states. yesterday's verdict in minnesota certainly caught the attention of many in america and across the world. the killing of george floyd was resolved in a court of law.
sadly, he will not be with us, but his legacy lives on, and it depends on us to use that legacy to make america a better nation. can we really come together, put law enforcement at the table with community leaders and civil rights leaders and find common ground? can we keep our streets and communities and neighborhoods safe and do it without discrimination against any person or group in america? these are big challenges, tough challenges, but to meet them, we need the right people in positions of leadership. vanita gupta is one of those people. as former civil rights advocate, she did extraordinary things. in tulia, texas, and many other places to show progress in the area of civil rights. as a former associate attorney general in charge of civil rights, she worked with law enforcement organizations to try to resolve the very problems
that we've seen in minnesota, in illinois, and virtually in every other state. she is a dedicateed professional with an extraordinary resume who wants to continue to serve this nation. will she be able to work with law enforcement groups? they think so because they support her. there's a long litany. national sheriffs association, major county sheriffs association, international association of chiefs of police, major cities chiefs, 53 former police chiefs and sheriffs, the police executive research forum, the term law enforcement organization, the list goes on and on. but the simplest statement that was made comes from a pretty hard nosed group, the fraternal order of police. those of us in politics know you have to work to earn their support. here's what they said about vanita gupta. gupta always worked with us to find common ground, even when that seemed impossible. isn't that exactly what we want