tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN July 20, 2021 9:59am-1:15pm EDT
to exit the capsule here, let's wait for that moment. there you see jeff in the window. >> there you are. >> up here. got a line in front of the hatch. >> there's a main parachute line. >> okay. we'll have to leave this here as the u.s. senate is about to gavel in this morning. this is in keeping with our long-term commitment to bring you live gavel to gavel coverage of congress. you can continue watching our blue origins launch coverage on
our website, c-span.org. the senate today expected to work on assistant attorney general for the criminal division. and now here to the floor 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. o god, who has ordained the seasons of our lives, thank you for the steadfastness of your mercy and long suffering.
today inspire our lawmakers to open themselves to the gift of your presence, remembering that you are always with them. where there is fear, give courage. where there is anxiety, give peace. where there is despair, give hope. where there is sadness, give joy. may our senators joyfully encounter you on a daily basis. lord, inspire them to hear your words and obey your precepts. 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., july 20, 2021. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable raphael g. warnock, a senator from the state of georgia, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore.
mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. schumer: are we in a quorum? the presiding officer: we are not. mr. schumer: mr. president, for decades, both parties have shared a desire to invest in our nation's infrastructure. it's one of the few issues here in washington where our two parties can consistently work together. and it's been years since congress passed a significant stand-alone investment. we're hoping to change that this year. nearly a month ago, a month ago, a bipartisan group of senators came together, along with the white house, and agreed on a framework for a bipartisan infrastructure bill. so last night, i moved to set up a process for the senate to consider that bipartisan framework. on wednesday, the senate will take the first procedural vote on a shell bill. merely a vehicle to get the whole process started. it is not a final deadline for legislative text. it is not a cynical ploy.
it is not a fish or cut bait moment. it's not an attempt to jam anyone. it's only a signal that the senate is ready to get the process started, something the senate has routinely done on other bipartisan bills this year. all a yes vote on the motion to proceed means is simply that the senate is ready to begin debating a bipartisan infrastructure bill. no more, no less. we've waited a month. it's time to move forward. my colleagues have heard me speak for months about making progress on two different tracks of infrastructure. after the group of senators reached a deal with the white house, i endorsed it and i announced i wanted to put their agreement on the floor of the senate in july. this week's vote is an honest attempt to get something done, to get the ball rolling on the senate floor. that's why i'm giving the
maximum amount of flexibility to our senate colleagues who are negotiating this bill. if the bipartisan group can finalize the text of their agreement by thursday, i will offer it as the pending substitute amendment. if, for whatever reason, the bipartisan group isn't ready with their final text by thursday, i will offer an amendment consisting only of the bipartisan infrastructure bills that have already gone through our senate committees and are actually the core of the bipartisan infrastructure framework. they are the water bill, the highway bill, the rail and safety bill, the energy bill. all of them are bipartisan. all of them have gone through committee, and all of them received overwhelming republican votes. why wouldn't our republican colleagues want to move to proceed to debate that bill at the very minimum even if we don't have agreement on the broader bipartisan bill? just to go over the record, the environment and public works committee reported the water
bill passed by voice vote, unanimous, in committee, and then 89-2 on the senate floor. the environmental and public works committee reported the highway bill passed by 20-0. the commerce committee reported the rail and safety bill passed by 25-3. and the energy and natural resources committee report of the energy bill passed 13-7. so this week -- once again to repeat, this week's vote is an honest attempt to get something done, to get the ball rolling on the senate floor after a month after the agreement was reached by the bipartisan group and the white house. that's why i am giving the maximum amount of flexibility to our senate colleagues who are negotiating the bill. if the bipartisan group can finalize their agreement by thursday, i'll offer it as a
pending substitute amendment, as i mentioned before. i just wanted to repeat that so people hear it loud and clear. that is -- the bills i mentioned are the lowest common denominator and the best starting point. a package of bipartisan bills that all the senators have already supported this year. a package of bills that the bipartisan group is using as the basis of their framework. and once it's on the floor, we can then debate, amend, and work from there. it's not the final word. there will be no doubt many senators would want to offer additional items from the bipartisan framework or other issues, from transit to broadband to resiliency and more. and of course, if the bipartisan group finalizes their product over the weekend, senators can offer it as an amendment at that point, and i will make sure that that amendment is in order. let me repeat. even if the texas of the bipartisan framework isn't ready
by thursday and we agree to make the package of bipartisan bills that i mentioned a starting point, senators can still work on the bipartisan framework and offer it as an amendment later on. the bottom line is very simple. if senators agree to start debate, there will be many, many opportunities for the bipartisan group to make their agreement the base of the bill. but if republican senators refuse to start debate, they would be denying the senate an opportunity to consider the bipartisan amendment. and this is not a new process. we have used it regularly here in the senate. on the anti-asian hate crimes bill, the u.s. innovation and competition act. on both of those, the senate agreed to start debate just to proceed on a base bill, a shell bill. it took several weeks of amendments before everyone was ready to move forward eventually and successfully. both measures passed with significant bipartisan support.
if we did it there on the anti-asian hate bill, on the u.s. innovation and competition act, we can do it here. there is no reason we can't do it here with infrastructure. look, senators of goodwill on both sides want to finish the bipartisan infrastructure bill before the august recess. that's certainly my goal. but in order to finish the bill, we first need to agree to start -- let me repeat that. but in order to finish the bill, we first need to agree to start. that's the first step. let's all agree to start. that's what this week's vote is about, and i hope my republican colleagues will join us in beginning debate. now, on another matter, right now there's a fire burning in oregon the size of new york city. a heat wave recently rolled through the pacific northwest that melted power lines and cracked roadways in two. hurricanes in the east have
battered one community after another. earlier this year, a snowstorm engulfed the typically scorching state of texas and claimed the lives of hundreds -- hundreds -- of people. and of course we saw what happened in europe with the flooding. these extreme once-in-a-century weather events are now commonplace. the danger of climate change is here and it is real. the dangers of climate change. fighting climate change will take not only new technologies and new ways of thinking but something more basic. it will take people -- people, lots of people -- working together to fight climate change from the ground up. this morning i joined with my democratic colleagues from the house and senate to push a bold, new approach to fighting climate change that will help create thousands of good-paying jobs in the process. the civilian climate corps, c.c.c. the idea at the core of the
civilian climate corps hearkens back to the new deal when hundreds of thousands of americans were put to work on infrastructure projects across the country. during the great depression, president roosevelt needed ways to put americans to work and to do it fast, and he found a way to do it while having those workers do something enormously productive for the country -- building public works and dams and bridges and flood and forest fire prevention. the civilian conservation corps, as it was called at the time, was a brilliant idea, a success that should be harnessed once again, this time to fight climate change. the bottom line -- we need a c.c.c. for the 21st century. we can put americans to work on climate and resiliency projects. we can put americans to work on clean energy initiatives across the country. we can put americans to work helping poor and more disconnected communities help
challenge of climate change. and we can create millions of good-paying -- or hundreds ever thousands of good-paying jobs, particularly focusing on the poorer communities, the communities of color that have been left out in the past. the civilian climate corps can be one of the largest employment projects and one of the largest environmental projects at the same time. and i believe the senate should work to make this a reality this year. i believe the c.c.c., the civilian climate corps, should be one of the pillars of the american jobs and family plan, and as majority leader, i will ensure that c.c.c. be included in the upcoming budget reconciliation package in as big and bold a way as possible. next, finally, later the senate will pass a long overdue fix to the crime victims fund to help americans stitch back their lives after falling victim to violent crime as hard as it is to suffer the trauma of violent crime, survivors almost always
face enormous financial hardship in the immediate aftermath. just think about health care or mental health services for victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse, legal fees for those who try to pursue justice for the crime committed against them. those services can cost tens of thousands of dollars. so for nearly 35 years the justice department has operated a crime victims fund that uses money from federal convictions and fines to help survivors of violent crime. it's a simple idea. it's helped thousands and thousands of americans during the most challenging moments of their lives. but today this popular and effective program is in danger of going into the red. compared to five years ago, the crime victims fund could fall to less than 1/20th of the former size by the end of the next fiscal year. well, the senate is not going to
abandon americans who have survived violent crimes. today the senate will pass legislation to replenish the crime victims fund and set it on a path toward long-term stability. the crime victims fund has been a beacon of hope and healing for survivors over the decades. with today's vote, survivors of violent crime can rest assured that it will continue to be a beacon of hope and healing for being dids more -- for decades more to come. now, mr. president, i understand there is a bill at the desk that is due for a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: s. 2382, a bill to authorize the national cyber director to accept details from other elements of the federal government by nonreimbursement basis and for other purposes. mr. schumer: mr. president, in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i would object to
further proceeding. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will now be placed on the calendar. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: thank you. mr. schumer: 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 is recognized. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: later today the senate will vote on president biden's nominee to serve as general counsel for the national labor relations board.
there actually shouldn't be a vacancy in this position. when president biden took office, the person serving as the top lawyer was still in the middle of a term to which the senate had confirmed him. he was doing his job, serving the country, and had no intention to skip out of his responsibilities early. but less than 30 minutes after pledging to heal and unify the country, in his inaugural address, president biden broke precedent and threatened to fire peter robb unless he resigned prematurely that very day. at the very first instant that the new president's statements about norms, institutions, and governance ran up against the demand of the far left, well, the decision didn't take very
long. where senate confirmation and fixed terms were supposed to create independence, this administration just wanted partisan loyalty. unfortunately, mr. president, this is not an isolated incident. it's actually been a pattern. the small world of independent federal agencies had offered us actually a case study in the gap between the administration's unifying rhetoric on the one hand and its divisive actions on the other. back in march the biden administration took aim at another senate confirmed official, the general counsel for the equal employment opportunity commission. this time a full two years before her term was set to expire. sharon gustafson had been engaged in important work, particularly in defense of religious freedom in the wo
workplace. but the president didn't want to wait for our system to play out properly. he broke with norms and he fired her. just this month we witnessed the firing of andrew saul, the head of the social security administration. and listen to n. he was just two years into a six-year term. mr. saul had kept a critical agency functioning through a historically challenging year. he was not some partisan hack. we're talking about someone the senate confirmed with 77 votes, 77 votes, a bipartisan super majority for mr. saul. but powerful liberal interests got the president's ear. they wanted their own handpicked insider. norms and precedents had to go out the window. now the american people deserve to trust the independence of crucial watchdog agencies like
these. but with these firings, this administration has instead decided to explore frontiers and partisan hardball. we just spent years listening to the left and the media express outrage over personnel decisions and dismissals, many of which amounted to a heck of a lot less than the three i just mentioned. now, mr. president, on an entirely different matter, later today the senate is set to do some bipartisan legislating. back in 1984 congress passed the victims of crime act which includes an important term program called the crime victims fund. when criminals who commit federal crimes are charged fines and penalties, some of that money flows into this fund. it goes to state-level programs that help crime victims with services like counseling and emergency shelters. it also helps compensate victims directly with their expenses like medical costs, mental
health, funeral experiences, and lost wages. some of the money also goes specifically, specifically to fight child abuse. the fund needs to rest on a firm financial footing, but right now it doesn't have that firm footing. its balance has been shrinking fast. congress needs to act to prevent big cuts to vic victims services particularly in rural areas. a number of senators on both sides have come together and produced bipartisan reforms that will strengthen the program and keep assistance flowing to the survivors of federal crimes. the junior senator from pennsylvania has a further amendment to make sure the program can't be used at budgetary shell games that deliberately cloud federal accounting. also both senator toomey's amendment and our colleague's legislation later today. but on this subject for goodness
sakes elected firms should not just be racing to replenish the crime victims fund before it runs out. leaders at the local, state, and federal levels should be acting to confront the surge in violent crime that's plaguing our nation. we're about a -- for about a year now, the political left has grown obsessed with the notion that police officers are inherently bad, policing is inherently evil and what vulnerable neighborhoods really need is less, less enforcement of the laws. as one house member has informed us, quote, defunding police means defunding police. another put it this way. defunding the police isn't radical. it's real. well, academic research has confirmed something troubling. the broad antipolice backlash that sometimes follows high profile police-involved incidences subsequently leads -- now listen to this -- to less
safety, more crime, and more murders. sure enough murders have shot up in cities and communities all across our country. my hometown of louisville has seen 66% more homicides than we had seen by this time last year. 66% more. last year was a record year for carjackings and yet louisville is on pace to match it once again. and the city's police department is short more than 200 sworn officers due to low recruitment, low morale, and resignations. leaders should be working to contain the damage, but instead of delivering a sober, responsible message, many of the most prominent democratic politicians instead grab their megaphones and amplify the antipolice sentiment as loud as possible. as i've noted before, attacking and insulting the police is not just a bad strategy for public
safety across the board, the data show it is an especially destructive approach to advancing racial justice. the truth is this. larger police forces save lives and the lives saved are disproportionately black lives. that's another expert study. so i'm glad the senate will take the important step today of reforming and strengthening the crime victims fund. it certainly belies any notion we can't legislate in a bipartisan way. we absolutely can and we do. when a bipartisan outcome is what the democratic majority truly wants, it actually makes it possible. but i wish anticrime, pro-police, pro-public safety attitudes and policies could be just as bipartisan at the state, local, and federal levels as today's vote will likely be. standing up for law enforcement
and the innocent people they protect should never be limited to one side of the aisle. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reeverybodied. 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, kenneth allen polite, jr. of louisiana to be assistant attorney general. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip is recognized. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, i heard the republican leader on the floor just moments ago talking about the dismissal of some individuals by the biden administration and their
replacement and his complaint that this violated the norms and precedence of the united states senate. there are certainly two words that i would offer in response to that assertion. merrick garland. and i would offer those words to the republican leader as a reminder of what he did when there was a vacancy on the highest court in the land, the united states supreme court, antoine scalia passed away. a vacancy occurred. it was the last year of the obama administration. tradition suggested that that president of the united states dually elected and in office had the responsibility and the opportunity to fill the vacancy. and so he offered as his nominee merrick garland from the d.c. circuit court. what happened to merrick garland's nomination? what was the norm and precedent? well, there would be a hearing and a consideration of that
nomination and a vote in the united states senate. that process was stopped in its tracks by one leader, the republican leader of the united states senate from kentucky. so when he talks about norms and precedents in creating and filling vacancies, he has forgotten that he made history in a very unusual way by violating the most basic norm and precedent that the united states senate had the responsibility to fill a vacancy on the supreme court and the president of the united states duly elected was not a lame duck in the last year of his administration. the second issue which was raised by the republican leader this morning dealt with the phrase defunding the police. i have rejected that phrase from the first time i heard it. i couldn't imagine anyone thinking that was a sensible policy to follow when it came to security in our homes and our communities. i can't speak for anybody else
in the senate, but in that awful circumstance when one is called on to dial 911, you certainly hope that the police will answer and that they will be there if they're needed. defunding them lessens that possibility, and i'm not a person who supports that. i want the very best police and law enforcement. i want them well trained, and i want them to follow norms of conduct that are respectful of american values. but defunding the police is not something i have ever embraced or ever will. but it's interesting to hear that argument from the senator from kentucky. he said that in a way you would be insulting and attacking the police by taking that position, and one could argue that, but i would suggest to him that in his position, stopping the creation of a commission to investigate what happened in this chamber on january 6 and what happened to 140 members of law enforcement in the halls of the united
states capitol on the same day is not respectful of police itself. we have had a plea, a direct plea from the men and women in uniform who guard us in this building to have an investigative commission determine what was behind that insurrectionist mob of january 6 and what we need to do to avoid it in the future. that commission and its prospects were stopped cold by the republican leader from kentucky. that's a fact. and in terms of being respectful of law enforcement, allowing that commission to be created, a bipartisan commission to get to the bottom of that horrible incident, that embarrassing incident in the history of the united states is the least of which we could do to respond to what the police regardless have asked for. and i might add one other element while we're on the discussion of law enforcement and protecting america. we have a special security
supplemental appropriation created by senator patrick leahy of vermont, the chairman of the senate appropriations committee, which appropriates the funds to pay the national guard units who left their families and came here to protect us, to pay the capitol hill police for the expenses they incurred on january 6, to fortify this capitol against any future insurrectionist mob, and that supplemental appropriation bill which should have been passed routinely weeks ago is still languishing for lack of agreement on the republican side. if you want to be respectful of law enforcement, whether they are men and women in uniform and police units or national guard, wouldn't you pay them for the services they rendered to protect this capitol and to protect the united states of america? i call on the republican leader, instead of making a speech on the floor, call the republican ranking member on the senate
appropriations committee and ask him to waste no time in showing respect for law enforcement and to pass that security supplemental. on another topic, mr. president, this week, the senate will vote on the nomination of kenneth polite. president biden has nominated him to serve as assistant attorney general for the justice department's criminal division. as an experienced prosecutor who has served his community throughout his career, mr. polite is certainly qualified for that important position. from 2013 to 2017, mr. polite served as u.s. attorney for the eastern district of louisiana. while in this role, mr. polite's office prosecuted several large, violent criminal organizations. he held local corps ups politicians accountable, and stopped more human traffickers than during any prior u.s. attorney's term in office. prior to serving the people of louisiana, mr. polite served as the assistant u.s. attorney in
the southern district of new york, a very busy and important office. there he took on organized crime, fought corruption, health care fraud, and identify theft. in addition to his extensive experience as a public servant, mr. polite also has a remarkable personal story. born to teenaged parents, he spent his youth in public housing projects in new orleans before moving to the lower ninth ward as a child. he graduated high school as valedictorian of his class, and he went on to earn his undergraduate degree from harvard and his law degree from the well-respected georgetown university. after law school, mr. polite initially went into private practice, but he was inspired to become a prosecutor after his half brother was tragically killed by gun violence. throughout his career, mr. polite has always given back to the community that raised him. he served on the boards of numerous community organizations and schools in new orleans.
mr. polite's track record is an evenhanded -- as an evenhanded public servant has earned him support from across the aisle. in 2011, he was appointed by a republican governor of louisiana, bobby jindal, to serve on the louisiana civil service commission. last month, the republican attorney general of louisiana, jeff landry, publicly voiced his support for mr. polite's nomination to this position in the department of justice. in a letter to the senate judiciary committee, mr. landry wrote that while serving as u.s. attorney, quote, mr. polite was not only an effective crime fighter, he was an invaluable member of the community. mr. polite is an outstanding nominee for this critical role at the justice department. and you should have been in the judiciary committee, which the presiding officer serves on, when his nomination came up. the high praise which he won from the two republican senators of louisiana is an indication of this man's popularity and his
value to louisiana and to our country. i hope that he will receive the same broad bipartisan support in the full senate vote, and i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting mr. polite's nomination. mr. president, i ask that the following statement be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, last week was an important day for literally millions of americans because the child tax credit went into effect on july 15, and many were awakened to the good news that their checking and savings accounts had been increased because of this new child tax credit. it was part of the american rescue plan, the proposal president biden -- of president biden to get america back on its feet. you remember that plan, almost a trillion dollars. it was an important infusion into our economy. money within that plan was being spent on the administration of vaccines across america, and in
addition to that, money was available for small businesses to receive forgivable loans, and this provision, enhancing the child tax credit, was an important part of it as well. we have had tax credits in the past for families with children, but this was an especially important one because it was refundable, which meant it went to the lower income families that might not have had enough income to merit a tax responsibility. this now is refundable, and so there is no tax responsibility necessary to receive the payment. it also was a benefit that extended beyond poor and low income families to middle income families across america. some of these families with this payment of $300 a month for each child under the age of 6, $250 a month for those between 6 and 17, would receive resources which they desperately need to make certain that their children have a fighting chance. we're especially proud of the fact that this infusion of cash
into the hands of many families will literally mean it lifts them above the poverty line in america. half -- almost half of the kids in poverty will be spared that by this tax credit, so it has a direct and important impact. i had a press conference last friday in chicago with one of the parents who will be benefited by this. her name is susana selgato. she is the mother of three, 11-year-old, 16-year-old, 23-year-old. her family relies on her husband's income. he works as a restaurant worker in chicago to pay the bills. but when the pandemic hit, his hours were cut drastically. a return to normal remains illusive for people like susana because at the same time her family's livelihood vanished, their cost of living increased. during the pandemic, as parents know well, schooling moved into the home, and a high-speed
internet connection became an absolute necessity for her kids to keep up in school. thanks totten hansed child tax credit, susana can finally -- thanks to the enhanced child tax credit, susana can finally afford the internet bill. for a child falling behind a grade in school, this is a critical family decision. that means her two younger children can keep you are with their studies and the oldest son can remain in college. something as basic as that can be the difference in a young child's progress and his life. so i salute president biden for the american rescue plan which helped distribute vaccines across america, helped small businesses get back on its feet, and is helping millions of americans and children, families, as of this day. i'm sorry that there was not one single republican vote in support of that proposal, but i believe it was money well spent and continues to benefit this country. we have a lot of work to do in this country, and i will close by saying this -- i was on radio
shows this morning in down-state illinois. chicago, and the chicagoland area have been able to get vaccinated to a level where they are starting to breathe a little easier, anticipating children going back to school in the fall, businesses reopening, people getting out and about. you can just feel it in the air. but that's not the case all over the united states. the city of los angeles, i understand, has imposed a new mask requirement which unfortunately evidences the fact that there are still too many infections these days related to covid-19. unfortunately, as dr. fauci and others have said, these infections are reflected in people who have not yet been vaccinated by and large, and it's an indication that we can't let up on our effort to continue vaccinations across america. it is the only way to successfully put this pandemic to rest and to return to normal life in america. and to those who are not vaccinated, i'm sure they are
not watching c-span for advice, but i hope they will turn to a doctor or nurse or someone they trust in the community and hear about the safety of these vaccines which have been safely administered to millions of people across the united states. if each and every one of us accepts our personal responsibility to get vaccinated, to protect ourselves, our families, those we love and all around us, we will finally bring this pandemic to an end. at this point, there are many, many who are still holding back. i hope they will reconsider that position. i yield the floor.
mr. thune: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. thune: i ask unanimous consent that senators cornyn, grassley, and i be allowed to complete our remarks before the scheduled roll call votes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, it has been all political theater all the time lately, as democrats attempt to manufacture a crisis that will allow them to pass their partisan federal takeover state election law. it was president biden's overwrought speech in philadelphia last week warning that election laws being passed in various states are, and i quote, the most dangerous threat to voting and the integrity of free and fair elections in our history, end quote. that's right. in our nation's history. apparently, post-civil war voter suppression laws and voter tax and other atrocities don't hold a candle to what is happening today in places like georgia where the horror, only election
officials will be able to hand out water to those in line at the polls. then of course there were texas democrats' antics as they flew to washington via private jet to shut down the texas legislature and prevent election legislation from being passed there. in a senate democrats' field hearing in georgia yesterday to highlight the supposed horrors of georgia's mainstream election law. mr. president, in his speech last week, president biden mentioned stopping the spread of disinformation. an ironic statement, mr. president, when democrats are engaging in one of the most massive campaigns of disinformation we have ever seen. because let's be very clear. the narrative that democrats are peddling that states are engaging in a massive campaign of voter suppression is simply false. in other years, i doubt whether any of the state voting laws that have been passed would be more than a blip in the national
news, because they are nothing more than ordinary mainstream up dates of state voting guidelines. the georgia law which has provoked so much democrat hysteria is not only squarely in the mainstream when it comes to state election laws but is actually in some ways more permissive than voting laws in some democrat-led states. a piece in "the new york times," hardly a newspaper that carries water for republicans, concluded that the voting provisions of the georgia law are, and i quote, unlikely to significantly affect turnout or democrat chances, end quote. in fact, the piece notes that georgia's law could -- and i quote -- plausibly even increase turnout, end quote. meanwhile, "the washington post" fact-checker column noted -- and i quote again -- the law does not put up roadblocks to black
americans registering to vote, end quote. that from "the washington post" fact-checker. democrats have repeatedly asked us to believe, quote, that this law is jim crow on steroids. those are quotes, actually quotes, mr. president, from democrats. that's right. since the civil war. apparently segregation and the horrors of jim crow are nothing compared to georgia's adjustment of its regulations on no-excuse absentee voting, which isn't even allowed in some democrat-led states like new york. it's almost comical, mr. president, except that it's not, because there's nothing funny about democrats irresponsibly invoking the horrors of jim crow to.
there is nothing amusing about democrats attempting to cede the american people in order to pass their election legislation because that is exactly -- exactly -- what democrats are doing. democrats have been determined to pass h.r. 1, their federal takeover of federal election laws, since 2019. back in 2301, of course -- back in 2019 they told us that we needed it because our democracy was broken. but then the 2020 elections happened and lo and behold, the democrats won and all of a sudden our democracy was working fine, a record turnout, i might add, in the 2020 election, the largest since the year 1900. but democrats still want to pass h.r. 1, now because, as both the speaker of the house and the house democrat whip have openly admitted, they think it will improve their electoral chances. and so they've manufactured a crisis in the hope of convincing the american people of the need
to pass democrats' legislation. mr. president, there is a reason that senate democrats haven't managed to pass h.r. 1 so far. that's because it is a terrible bill. the bill cedes power from states, an authority that states have held literally from the founding. it would implement funding of political campaigns which would mean that billions of dollars, money that belongs to the american taxpayer, would go to funding yard signs and attack ads. i'm sure that's something the american taxpayers would be reelingly happen to see. it would impose requirements and restrictions on political speech. it would open up private americans to retaliation and intimidation simply for making a donation to support a cause that they believe in. it would effectively eliminate states' voter i.d. requirements. it would politicize the i.r.s. by allowing the i.r.s. to consider organizations' beliefs when deciding whether or not to
grant them tax-exempt status, and the list goes on. no less an organization than the american civil liberties union opposed -- opposed -- h.r. 1 in the last congress because the bill would, and i quote, unconstitutionally burden speech and associational rights, end quote. let me just repeat that, mr. president, for emphasis. the american civil liberties union opposed this legislation because it would unconstitutionally burden speech and associational rights. mr. president, in his speech last week, president biden expressed concern about states is like georgia, and i quote, moving from independent election administrators who work for the people to polarize state legislatures and partisan act terse who work for political parties, end quote. you maybe wonder if the president even knows what's in
h.r. 1 because h.r. 1 would make the federal election commission the primary enforcer of election law in this country into a partisan body. instead of an independent commission evenly divided between democrats and republicans, the f.e.c. would become, to borrow the president's words, a partisan actor that works for political parties. if the president is concerned about independent election administrators become partisan actors, perhaps he should take a look at revising his party's legislation. mr. president, since they've so far been unail to get their partisan -- unable to get their partisan election takeover through the senate, they're planning to force it through congress using use which allow them to evade objections from the senate majority. their side to provide financial incentives to adopt democrats' election standards.
i suspect it is an abuse of election rules that will not make lou the process. but it is another disturbing sign of how committed democrats are to shoving through their partisan election measure. for the sake of our democracy, let's hope that they'll continue to be unsuccessful. mr. president, while i'm mentioning free speech, the 2021ing narratives coming from the white house, i want to mention the white house press secretary's comments last week. the press secretary noted that the biden administration is is and i quote, flagging problematic posts for facebook that spread disinformation, end quote, and later stated that if individuals are banned on one social media flat form, they should be banned on all platforms. wow. now, there's no question that
private companies have the right to moderate activity and content on their platforms, although for the sake of the free exchange of ideas and a culture of freedom of speech, they should be very transparent, principled and accountable about doing so. we all remember the back- back-pedaling that occurred. while private companies have is the right to police information on their sites, the government cannot be in the middle of colluding with social media platforms to censor speech. the biden administration has no business telling facebook or twitter whom they should ban from their platforms. we condemn governments in other countries like the chinese communist party that do exactly this. we condemn the cuban government just last week for shutting down
their population's access to the internet in the face of widespread protest. if the government gets into censoring disinformation on social media as compared to, say, terrorist propaganda, where does it end? as we are rapidly finding out, disinformation tends to mean whatever those with censorship power want it to mean. is the biden administration going to start pushing social media companies to contradict anything on -- is it going to suggest state election laws spreading misinformation? the best way to counter misinformation about lifesaving vaccines is not censorship. it is broadly sharing more persuasive and more accurate information. the white house press secretary's casual admission of a presidential administration actively monitoring americans,
including social media companies, to censor information is deeply troubling. and i'm concerned that the biden administration is moving us down the road toward government control of american speech. i'd like to see the white house worrying about its own campaign of disinformation on state voting laws. that would be a better use of its time than trampling on freedom of speech by censoring americans' activities on social media. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, yesterday the majority leader teed up the first procedural vote on an infrastructure bill
that no one has seen yet. our colleagues on both sides of the aisle have been hard at work for weeks negotiating in good faith to get an agreement that the virtually everyone supports. infrastructure is not a partisan issue. but at the same time we have no details about how this deal would achieve our common goals. there's no bill text. we don't know what's in and what's out, no information about how it will be paid for, and no score from the congress budget office -- congressional budget office to tell us whether the pay-fors are credible. we've been through an extraordinary pandemic during which we've done some pretty extraordinary things when it comes to spending at the federal level.
i think the closest equivalent to the pandemic is world war ii. of course this was a domestic war or battle against the virus, trying to deal with the public health consequences and economic consequences as well. i voted for trillions of dollars of federal spending, something i never thought i would do, in the face of an emergency, a global emergency. but there's no emergency that exists for an infrastructure bill. this is part of the bread and butter of what governments do at the local level, at the state level, and at the federal level. and it's simply irresponsible and reckless to borrow more money from future generations and throw gasoline on the fire that is already burning when it comes to inflation in pursuit of a bill that everybody will probably ultimately, if given
enough time and opportunity, will ultimately come up with a negotiated bipartisan outcome. i also am not going to vote to proceed to a bill that my constituents, the 29 million people i represent, they don't know what's in the bill either. well, all this doesn't sound like a recipe for success. these are the types of things that typically would be ironed out before you bring a bill to the floor. it's obvious this legislation is not ready for prime time, not even close. as i said, the specifics of the bill are still being negotiated by our colleagues, of course with the white house. we're days away from having the opportunity to read a bill, let alone provide the congressional budget office the opportunity to calculate the costs. republicans and democrats may disagree on a lot these days, but i hope we could all agree
that it is not wise to advance legislation before you know what's in it. that's why it's so baffling to me that the majority leader, the senator from new york, is forcing a vote on this bill before it's even ready. of course,, that raises a very significant question. why in the world would you do that? why is he rushing through the final stage of what has been a productive, bipartisan process? the only logical conclusion i can come up with is he wants this bill and this bipartisan effort to fail. why else would he punish forward with a vote when he -- would you push forward with a vote when he knows it is doomed from the start? i believe the senator from new york wants this vote to fail because he really wants to go the partisan route; namely, the big, ugly, multitrillion-dollar
spending spree that bernie sanders and others have been advocating. he doesn't need republican votes to do that, and he can implement some of the most radical policies on the far left's wish list, things like the green new deal, massive tax hikes, crippling new economic regulations. it's pretty obvious that's been the goal all along. why else would the president himself say, once he negotiated with a bipartisan deal, said, well, i'm not going to sign this bipartisan deal until we pass our partisan wish list, our now $3 trillion proposed? for the same reason nancy pelosi said she's not going to let the bipartisan bill even were we to pass it see the light of day until she knows that the $3 trillion tax-and-spending spree
is successful, which will require all 50 democratic senators, plus the vice president. it's just strange to me to see a design-to-fail strategy unless it's for some political purpose. so senator schumer, if you're listening, please don't do it. call off the vote. let the bipartisan group finish their work. don't set up a vote that will fail just because you want to apiece the far left -- apease the far left of your party. because if the vote happens and we don't have bill text or a cost estimate by the time is rolls around trks will necessarily fail. mr. president, on another matter, for more than four decades, the crime victims fund has provided critical funding for survivors, victims, and their families.
in texas and across the country, this funding provides lifesaving support and services for survivors. it supports shelters that provide refuge to victims of domestic violence. it enables critical programming at rape crisis centers and legal services at child advocacy centers. it provides direct compensation for victims and their families in the wake of serious trauma. i can go on and on name be the countless ways that the crime victims fund supports vital services in our communities. but one of the most remarkable things about the crime victims fund is that none of it comes from taxpayers. it's all covered by criminal fines and penalties. the only downside of this funding stream is that it comes with a fair amount of uncertainty. there's no guaranteed amount that will be deposited into the
fund each year, and recent years have brought far less money that is needed by the demand. in fiscal year 2020, for example, the funding disbursement decreased by 25% and crime victims service organizations have been told to expect even more cuts. we can't let that happen. it's time to address these shortfalls in the crime victims fund and safeguard critical resources for victims and survivors. i've been proud to work on a bipartisan basis with senator graham, senator durbin, and a long list of colleagues to restore this critical funding through the volka fix to sustain the crime victims fund act. this legislation brings critical new funding sources to the crime victims fund without asking the american taxpayer to do more. it makes important changes to the crime victims act which will
send more money to states for crime victims compensation programs and give states more flexibility to spend the money when and where needed. as i said, this legislation has broad bipartisan support. more than 60 senators have cosponsored the bill, and it's been endorsed by 1 1kwr-700 organize -- 1,700 organizations, including 120 in texas alone. these absolutely outstanding organizations and law enforcement stand behind the crucial commonsense reforms of the act and have called on congress to pass the bill. so i hope we can deliver soon. this afternoon i expect the senate to vote on the voca fix act to protect the solvency of this vital funding. the crime victims fund brings justice to survivors and victims and families in the wake of serious trauma. this legislation will protect
the solvency and the longevity of that fund and reverse the devastating funding cuts we've seen in recent years. i hope we can send this legislation to the president's desk as soon as possible so critical programs across the country can continue to serve our communities. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i'd note the absence of a quorum . the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask that the calling of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: today i come to the floor to discuss an issue that i've raised during the course of multiple republican and democrat administrations.
this is a problem that crosses political boundaries, whether you have a republican or democrat president. that issue is responding to legit pat and valid congressional -- legitimate and valid oversight requests. in my time as a public servant, i've seen my fair share of unresponsive government, sometimes downright obstructive government. i've seen it rear its ugly head from decade to decade. there's nothing more eroding of public faith than an unresponsive executive branch that believes that only answers to the president and not to the united states congress and perhaps most importantly, we the people. based on my interactions with the biden administration's
justice department and its component agencies, specifically the f.b.i., the current officials in charge of those agencies are at best unresponsive public servants. that goes all the way to the top to the president because the buck stops there. as i say to many nominees, either you're going to run your department or the department runs you. right now it looks like the justice department is running the attorney general's office. and that's a great big shame. i voted to confirm the attorney general. i had high hopes he would follow through on his public statements of ridding the department of political infection. instead i fear he's taken the justice department to a new
politically charged height. to date i haven't received a full or complete response to a single oversight request from the justice department. as one example, on february 3 of this year and march 9 of this year, senator johnson and i asked the department about nicholas mcquade. mr. mcquade is the acting assistant attorney general for the criminal division of which mr. polite will be taking his place upon confirmation. mcquade was employed by the law firm until january 20 of this year and worked with christopher clarke who was hunter biden's reportedly hired to work on his federal criminal case.
this arrangement poses a clear potential conflict. a core function of congressional oversight is to ensure that government departments and agencies are free of conflict of interest. that's especially so with the justice department and the f.b.i. if conflict infects them, those investigations and prosecutions, the very purpose of the department's existence, could be undermined. so i've requested a recusal memo from mcquade. i've also requested to know as a threshold issue whether one even exists. attorney general garland won't answer. now, can you believe that?
here we've got a federal criminal case that implicates the president's son, and the attorney general won't even answer congress as to whether or not an employee of his department who has an apparent conflict is recused from that matter. it certainly looks like the garland justice department is doing all that it can to protect the president's son. let me remind the attorney general that i was the one that led a transcribed interview with president trump's son. for all of the grief that trump and his family got from the democrats, at least that family showed up and answered the questions of legitimate congressional oversight. early on in the attorney general's tenure, i instructed my oversight staff to work
diligently and of course in good faith with their counterparts at the justice department. my staffs have done the phone calls. they've had the meetings. they've sent e-mails, many of which go unanswered. they've done -- my staff has done this all in good faith. at my level i have made every effort to get the attorney general on the phone to discuss my oversight request. it took him two months to get on the phone with me for one-on-one call. i found out just the other week that attorney general garland's staff never told him of my request to speak with him. this omission is a dereliction of duty by the department staff to keep something like that from
the attorney general. like i said, either you run the department or the department runs you. this type of unresponsive conduct has consequences. these consequences might not be immediate, but eventually, as i have seen over the years, ultimately the consequences arrive. the more their government tries to hide from them, the more the american people lose faith in government institutions. with such a bad government contact, i don't blame the people for losing faith. the fault is with the government, not the american people. after all, we work for the american people. they don't work for us. it's sad to say, but many in
washington, d.c. don't understand that very fundamental precept of our constitutional republic. my fellow senators, this type of conduct from the biden administration and the justice department is unacceptable, but it isn't just this administration or this justice department. it's something i have seen too long under both republican and democrat presidents, and it will have a long-term consequence for the integrity of our governmental institutions. in light of the department's consistent failure to respond to my oversight request, i will object to any unanimous consent request that kenneth polite be confirmed as assistant attorney general for the criminal division. i do not do so on the basis of
his credentials, which i don't question. i do it as a message to the attorney general that he needs to improve d.o.j.'s interaction with the congress. on another matter, we will soon be voting on the victims of crime act. i was an original sponsor of that act when the senate judiciary committee developed the legislation years ago. i appreciate the opportunity to work with senators durbin, graham, and other judicial committee colleagues this year on amendments to this landmark law. the principle behind this statute is very simple. it is that fines and penalties collected by the d.o.j. from those who are convicted of committing federal crimes should
be used to help those who are victims of the crime. because the fund relies solely upon fines and other assessments paid by federal criminals, not from the taxpayers, it does not add to the deficit, so any of these expenditures are very fiscally responsible. the money in this fund helps at least 6,800 local organizations. examples like rape crisis centers and child advocacy centers, so this money provides needed services to millions of crime victims across the country each year. the funds support crisis hotline counseling or medical care or
other services to these crime survivors, but it also does things like providing lost wages, courtroom advocacy, temporary housing, and there is a lot of other services that comes from this money. since its enactment, billions of dollars have flowed through the crime victims funds to our states and our communities to help support victim assistance programs. more than three decades after its inception, the fund is still working, but deposits into the funds have declined significantly in recent years. so obviously, the continuation of some of these programs is less effective or even in doubt when the money available for them is not certain to be there.
and so this is an issue of why this bill is before us. the victims of crime assistance fix act. and this bill would resolve this problem of not enough money going into the fund. so why is the money not going into the fund? the issue stems from federal prosecutors increasingly reliance upon no or deferred prosecution agreements rather than upon conviction. the money collected by the d.o.j. in these settlement agreements then is not attributed to the crime victim fund the same way if it had gone through the court process and people had been convicted. among other provisions, the bill makes a deposit fix to preserve
the crime victims fund. in other words, to overcome the fact that these null or deferred prosecution agreements, that money doesn't now go into those funds. it requires that the money from no or deferred prosecution amendments must go into the fund rather than the general fund. the bill also changes the match requirements for state and local grant programs that rely on this statute. providing this fix will enable crime survivors in my state of iowa and across the nation to continue to have these services available in their communities. i encourage my colleagues to support the legislation. the last point i want to make is a very short one. according to the nonpartisan congressional research service, the definition of filibustering
is this -- quote, filibustering includes any use of dilatory or obstructive tactics to block a measure by preventing it from coming to a vote. now, this is exactly what the texas democrats are doing by fleeing their state to avoid a majority vote on an election reform bill. so this group of texas legislators flew to washington, d.c. where they are hypocritically demanding that the senate abolish its tradition of extended debate so national legislation can be passed on the slimmest of majorities. and you can't get any slimmer than a 50-50 senate. the senate majority leader called these legislators brave and courageous for their dishonest filibuster in the
texas legislature while they denounced the filibuster at the national level. texas is a very large and diverse state, but the united states is made up of 50 different states plus territories spread over a great distance. if the majority ought to not be allowed to rule in texas, then how can they justify breaking the rules and traditions of the senate to impose the will of 50% of the country on the other 50%? so let's be very clear. as i have said before, the false evidence-free claims of widespread voter suppression are as damaging as false claims of widespread voter fraud, and thus need to stop. the reality is that each state is different, so it makes sense that states will have different
voting processes. discrimination in voting is illegal. it's a federal crime, and thank god it is a federal crime. beyond that, diversity in our nation is a strength, not a weakness. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: 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 195, kenneth allen polite jr. of louisiana to be assistant 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
the presiding officer: the yeas are 57, the nays are 43. the motion is agreed to. 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 246, jennifer ann abruzzo of new york to be general counsel of the national labor relations board, signed by 18 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 jennifer ann abruzzo of new york to be general counsel of the national labor relations board shall be brought to a close.
the vice president: on this vote the yeas are 50. the nays are 50. the senate being evenly divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, national labor relations board, jennifer ann abruzzo of new york to be general counsel. the vice president: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m.
>>. [2:15. senators working on nominations including biden's pick to the attorney general for the criminal division and a general counsel for the national labor relations board . senators will vote to replenish the crime victims fund. we should also see the package. follow live senate coverage here on c-span2. >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government funded by these television companies and more including midco. >>. [music] midco supports c-span
as a public service along withthese other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy . >> blue origin owned by amazon founder jeff bezos conducted its first flight into space with passengers. the launch had bezos, wally funk, bezos brother and oliver damon. the launch andlanding took place in west texas . >> we rt -4 minutes 20 seconds to go on to launch. what an incredible moment. let's check out blue shepherd on the pad. we are awaiting -- the rocket is going to go into last-minute checks. t -2 minutes and we will throw the show over her. it's all on her gary, do you want to talk what are some of those last-minute checks that the vehicle is going through and we're going to see especially on our screen.