Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  July 29, 2021 2:29pm-6:05pm EDT

2:29 pm
senate floor. lydia jacoby, gold medalist, as "the washington post" called it in a headline, "an alaskan stunner" is our alaskan of the week for a second time. so, madam president, you know, i always talk a little bit about alaska before i do my alaskan of the week speech. a lot of people, particularly at this point of the summer, when they're visiting are curious about the light, if the sun ever sets in the summer, when it rises. so what i always try to do to people is say, come on up and see for yourself s we'd love to have you. we're having a beautiful summer. i'll give you a hint right now. in seward, alaska -- that's the home of our gold medal olympian athlete, lydia -- the sun will rise today at 5:32 a.m. and set around 10:35. that's a lot sunlight, but we're
2:30 pm
losing sun fast. we lost about five minutes from yesterday. but if if you're still thinking about coming up to alaska for a summer trip, come on and do it there's still lots of sun. there's tons of excitement across my state, and there is tons of excitement across alaska in seward and everywhere else because of this incredible young 17-year-old. and if you s -- saw it on tv, seward, alaska, monday night was probably the site of the best olympic watch party ever. i hope people saw that. ever. so i talked about lydia about a month ago when she cinched her spot on the team. she did that by actually swimming the second fastest time in the world in the women's 100-meter breaststroke finals in the olympic trials for the
2:31 pm
united states. so we in alaska knew that she was something. i'll mention this again, mr. president. you know, alaskans, we punch above our weight in the winter olympics. we do really well in the winter olympics for reasons that most people probably understand, and we've done pretty well in the summer olympics, particularly trap shooting, riflery. we have an olympic veteran rugby player right now, alev kelter who is also competing. her team made the quarterfinals. she might be on the field later tonight. good luck to her. we will be rooting for her as well. but alaska has never sent a swimmer to the olympics, ever. let aloin won -- let alone won a gold. as the nbc announcer said after the race, alaska, quote, is not exactly your hotbed of swimming in america. someone else pointed out that
2:32 pm
alaska is dead last in terms of -- in the u.s. in terms of swimming pools per mile, by far. we don't have a lot of swimming pools. and as a matter of fact, lydia's story is even more impressive because there is only one olympic-sized pool in the whole state of alaska, and that's in anchorage, a two and a half-hour drive from seward, her hometown. so i will just reiterate a little bit more about this remarkable young woman and her dedicated mom and dad who raised her. her parents, leslie and richard, are both boat captains. leslie is the educational coordinator for the marine science explorer program at kenaifjords tour. mitch is an instructor at an education center and a guide for arctic and antarctic trips. they raised their daughter lydia
2:33 pm
in seward. signed her up for swim classes when she was a toddler. good job, mom and dad. she joined a swim club when she was 6 years old. when she was 10, she was selected for the alaska swim zone team. situate qualifying meets allowed her to go on trips. in between all this, she was and continues to be a musician, learning to play the guitar and uprate bass. she sings, she plays at folk festivals. her band is the snow river string band. she was also in theater and track. likes to write, take pictures, explore tidal basins. this is just a good all-american teenager in alaska. and of course she excelled in swimming. her parents continue to be, in their words, surprised and amazed and of course so proud. one of her coaches, solomon dimico, described her as, quote, kind, quiet, and yet confident.
2:34 pm
he said that lydia had an intense fire, one that you might not see immediately in her. but neither her parents nor coach pushed her too hard. they wanted the drive to come from her, and it certainly did. on monday night, when this historic race started, the nbc announcers were focused mostly on reigning olympic champion and world record holder, american lily king, as well as the newly minted olympic record holder, tachana schumacher of south affect. in the announcers' minds, that's where the competition was, but we knew better, especially in seward, alaska, where about 400 people gathered for the race. all eyes were on lydia. they knew all along she could do it. in tokyo, the nbc announcers started to notice the underdog. and if you haven't watched the
2:35 pm
race, go to youtube. it is so exciting. and they saw her starting to pull ahead in the final seconds. you could hear the announcers getting excited. they said then you've got jacoby, lane three, challenging schumacher. lydia jacoby! watch jacoby! the 17-year-old from alaska is putting on the surge of her career. watch it. it is so exciting. and of course, she did. now, there is a video of everybody watching in seward, which quickly went viral, of lydia's friends and classmates and neighbors jumping up and down, stomping the floor when the announcer yelled alaska has an olympic gold medalist. oh, my gosh, the place went nuts. anyone watching, if you want to get olympic joy, go on the website and look at the twitter
2:36 pm
video that the olympics put. it is a split-screen shot of the race at the top and the great fans in seward, alaska, cheering. and when she wins, watch what happens. it is priceless. it is olympic joy at its best. lydia's parents, rich and leslie, were in florida where nbc and the olympic committee had set up a watch party for families of the athletes. they, too, knew that she had it in her to win the gold. her dad said when she hit the wall at the turn, we knew she was right in there. she likes to run down people in her races. on television, the joy and the pride of her parents was also priceless. they are still filled with
2:37 pm
excitement and pride and, let's face it, a little bit of shell shock, and they are so grateful for the outpouring of support from alaska and, let's face it, americans across the country. it's true, rich said, about alaska being the biggest small town in the world. rich said that lydia is doing great. she is happy, tired, a bit overwhelmed. we don't know yet. she might be competing in an upcoming relay race. which she is super excited about. we'll see if that happens. as for what's next, her dad said lydia is going to continue her life of being a normal teenager. participate in high school sports, no doubt, continue to play music, and she is still planning on attending the university of texas in the fall. normal teenager, but who has touched so many lives across alaska, particularly seward, but across the country, really across the globe.
2:38 pm
as one "washington post" columnist put it, on lydia's win, quote, there are moments at the olympics that redefine a town, and there are moments at the olympics that make you say that's why i watch the olympics. that's why i came. that's what the olympics is all about. and i think we all saw that when we watched this race. we saw that, including the two other competitors who won the silver and bronze, lily king and tatiana schumacher who came over to lydia and were so gracious, hugging her, joyful. so i want to thank them, i want to thank lydia's coaches, including solomon, who put so much training and dedicated so much time and effort to her skills and of course to her mom
2:39 pm
and dad for their very hard work. early morning practices, raising an exceptional daughter, to the competitors, really everybody. and of course to lydia. great job on your hard work, dedication, grit, determination. throughout the years, so many people -- throughout the decades, so many people have dreamed of finding gold in alaska. you're an alaskan who found gold in a way that has inspired and overjoyed not just your community of seward, not just our state, but literally our country and the world. so lydia, congrats on the gold medal, congratulations on your win, and congratulations for the first time in senate history of being the only person ever to be
2:40 pm
our alaskan of the week two times. great job. i yield the floor.
2:41 pm
2:42 pm
2:43 pm
mr. blumenthal: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. in just a few weeks, mr. president, our nation will come together to remember september 11. it will be the 20th anniversary of that unspeakable act of horror. an attack on our nation that devastated us and most particularly the families and loved ones who lost members of
2:44 pm
their families and friends, the fallen who will be remembered on that day and honored. and i have been honored to stand with those families over the years, as many of us have, as they remember their loved ones and continue to face the trauma and immeasurable grief of their loss. and in these years, many of those families have sought justice. they have tried to honor their loved ones with action to vindicate not only their individual grief and mourning, but also justice for our nation, truth, and truth telling in the courts of law in this country.
2:45 pm
they have brought legal action against the kingdom of saudi arabia in the face of mounting credible significant evidence that, in fact, the saudis aided and abetted that attack on our nation. as a congress, we have acted to support that effort, and i was proud to help to lead the justice against sponsors of terrorism act, known as jasta, when we passed it overwhelmingly here, and then on a bipartisan basis we overrode the president's veto. it was president obama who vetoed it, and many of us, including the presiding officer, voted to override that
2:46 pm
veto, i believe. we opened the courthouse doors to the 9/11 families in their legal effort to hold saudi arabia accountable in the face of that evidence of its potential complicity. and again, i was proud to stand with these families in 2018 when i introduced, with the help of senators cornyn, schumer, gillibrand, murphy, and menendez, a resolution urging that documents related to the september 11 attack be declassified to the greatest extent possible. that resolution passed the united states senate unanimously , unanimously because all of us recognize that the survivors and the families of the fallen and the american people deserved answered, the truth about what happened on
2:47 pm
september 11. who was behind it? who supported it? who aided and abetted? and who was complicit in enabling that handful of terrorists to do such devastating attack and unspeakable horror on this nation. and many of us have stood with those families to ensure that the 9/11 families not only get their day in court, but are also able to go to court with all the evidence they need to have a fair chance to prove their case. i've asked questions at oversight hearings, including of director wray of the f.b.i. i've sought commitments from nominees like attorney general garland, and i've written letter after letter after letter with democrats and republicans alike calling on the department
2:48 pm
of justice and the f.b.i. to provide information that the 9/11 families have requested. i'm proud to continue to stand with those families as we approach this 20th anniversary date. but i also, in fairness to this administration, want to say the moment of truth telling now has arrived, and there is a moment of reckoning here. these families since jasta have been engaged in an epic legal struggle against the kingdom of saudi arabia for aiding and abetting the terrorists who attacked the united states on september 11. but now that struggle is also one against their own government, our government, because while congress did our job in passing jasta, opening
2:49 pm
the courthouse door to give those 9/11 families a chance at justice, the last administration invoked the state secrets privilege, without explanation, to shield the documents and information the 9/11 families need to make their case. the last administration denied them their fair day in court, and i say with great regret that the current administration seems intent on doing the same. my hope is otherwise, and that's the reason that i have raised this issue publicly and privately repeatedly not only in the last years but in the last weeks. to deny information to the 9/11 families, and equally
2:50 pm
important, to the american people is unacceptable and it is unconscionable. the requests that i and so many of my colleagues have made to the department of justice and the f.b.i. to disclose and declassify what can be disclosed and declassified in the national interest, those requests have gone unanswered. and sadly, the executive branch across administrations has repeatedly failed to provide any explanation -- let me repeat -- failed to provide any explanation, let alone meaningful justification for why there has been no disclosure. and that denial of explanation or justification is itself also
2:51 pm
unacceptable and unconscionable. these families will never get their loved ones back, but at the very least they should get answers. in fact, they deserve answers. they deserve the truth. the american people deserve the truth. now what the executive branch has done is to invoke broadly and unspecifically something called the state secrets privilege. the state secrets privilege was and remains intended to prevent court-ordered disclosure of government information when genuine and significant harm to the national defense or foreign relations is at stake, but only
2:52 pm
to the extent necessary to safeguard those interests. and it's also clear under the department of justice rules that it should be invoked only upon sufficient showing that it is necessary -- and i'm quoting -- to protect information the authorized disclosure of which could be, could reasonably be expected to cause significant harm to national security, and that the invocation be narrowly tailored for that specific purpose. and here's the problem. we don't know if that's what happened in the 9/11 families' case or many other cases. we don't know whether decisions to invoke this privilege met this high and exacting standard or were narrowly tailored. and we don't know, because in the 9/11 families case, the department of justice and the f.b.i. have claimed that even
2:53 pm
the trump administration's, quote, justification for secrecy needed to remain secret, and the public discussion of this issue would reveal information that would cause the very harms the assertion of the state secret privilege is intended to prevent. end quote. these blanket assertions and vague justifications undermine both public confidence that our government will only invoke the privilege to protect national security and the pursuit of justice. now let's be very clear, there are times when disclosure can imperil methods and secrets and sources in information gathering. there are times when secrecy is important to protect an ongoing
2:54 pm
investigation. we are talking here about disclosure of information relating to an attack 20 years ago. and there is no indication of any ongoing investigation into the 9/11 attack on our country. there has been no explanation that sources and methods may be imperilled. there has been no justification whatsoever. and similar rationale, blanket assertions of protection have prevented explanations in other cases as well. and in some instances have led to withholding of documents or information and outright dismissal of case, depriving victims of an opportunity for
2:55 pm
justice. in 1948, three civilians were killed when a b-29 aircraft testing secret electronic equipment crashed in way cross, georgia. their grieving widows did the only thing they could, bringing a wrongful death action in federal court against the government. but the invocation of the state secrets privilege prevented them from receiving justice and the truth. in 2003, macedonian officials abducted a german citizen at the request of the c.i.a. in that instance as well justice was sought unsuccessfully, and the case was dismissed because the government invoked the state secrets privilege. and in 2006 the f.b.i. allegedly engaged in the targeted religious profiling of muslims
2:56 pm
in southern california. if true, it was and it remains an egregious abuse, one that led these individuals to sue the f.b.i. but rather than let the case proceed and rather than let the truth come to light about what the f.b.i. did and why, the government asked the trial court to dismiss the case on the basis of the state secrets privilege, and the trial court agreed. this case, however, is not yet over because the supreme court will hear it in the fall after it has wound its way through the lower courts. and as we know, justice is often delayed. in this instance justice delayed is justice denied. and again, because of the state
2:57 pm
secrets privilege. let me close with a bit of history. on september 11, 2019, the then-president of the united states, donald trump, made a promise. he made a promise to the 9/11 families. he made a promise to them to their faces. he looked them in the eye, he shook their hands, and he told them that the department of justice would disclose documents relevant to their case against the kingdom of saudi arabia. the next day the attorney general of the united states, william barr, in a sworn declaration to the southern district of new york federal
2:58 pm
court, invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent the release of the very information that the president of the united states had promised those families, the same documents, the same evidence that the president of the united states had vowed to disclose. the very next day the attorney general went into the federal district court in new york and said no. the 9/11 families, whom i have come to know and admire, deserve so much better from the last administration, but it is
2:59 pm
not about one administration or another. it is about the united states, providing them with the truth. it is about our government providing the people of the united states with the truth. i will be coming back to the floor in the weeks ahead, and i hope my colleagues will join me in raising this issue, in calling on the department of justice and the f.b.i. to review their decisions invoking this privilege to declassify and disclose information that they have withheld. they have yet to explain why the national interest is served by this blanket unjustified and
3:00 pm
unexplained invocation of the state secrets privilege. the 9/11 families and the american public deserve that much and more, and this case is about accountability. it is about holding accountable the kingdom of saudi arabia. i am not here to argue the case in court. i'm not here to take issue with any legitimate, urgent, narrowly tailored interest that may be served by this privilege, but there is no indication of any such interest. and, in fact, neither the f.b.i.
3:01 pm
nor the department of justice should stand in the way of justice for these families in court. they owe the american people an explanation and they owe the 9/11 families the truth so they can bring it to bear in their quest for justice. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
3:02 pm
mr. lankford:
3:03 pm
3:04 pm
3:05 pm
mr. lankford: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma's recognized. mr. lankford: we have a lot of issues we're working through in the senate, obviously infrastructure is in the conversation, what's going to happen with some spending dealing with the nawferred -- national guard and capitol police and afghan interpreters, we're engaged in a lot of different issues and we are engaged in a lot of different things behind-the-scenes. one thing that is happening is the state department. the state department's issue of passports is a major issue. it is a frustration for a lot of
3:06 pm
americans and for a lot of oklahomans that we deal with on a day to day basis is getting their passport renewed. they didn't travel last year because of covid, but they want to travel in places where they can. good luck, as we have found. right now the backlog at the state department is 18 weeks. today is july 29. if you turn in your application for your passport today, you may get your passport december 22. merry christmas. if you plan to travel before christmas, you may have to do an expedited fee. the problem, the state department hasn't brought all of their staff back. they are still not engaging. the rest of the country is open and praying and the state department is studying how they will come back in and millions of americans are just waiting for their passport.
3:07 pm
i've spoken to leadership about this issue and i talked to leadership that literally said to me, oh, i wasn't aware there was a problem. listen, there's a problem and it's not just in the state department, it's in multiple other agencies. as america opens back up trying to manage all of the issues with covid, very aware of masks, vaccines, and spacing, but companies have figured out how to do this but for some reason multiple agencies have not and it is causing real problems. it is not just problems with the economy with permitting and other things, some of the policies that have put put in place are causing problems for just individuals. we have an unemployment rate in june at 5.9%. we don't know what it will be for july. but it is getting better all the time. in oklahoma, we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country the we have a lot of people employed because we turned off the extra
3:08 pm
unemployment benefits at the end of june and people came back to work. that's a good thing for them, their families and our economy. because as we continue to reengage, that's helpful. but what we're seeing now is inflation, consumer price increases like we have not seen in more than a decade. consumer price index -- increased by 4.5%. we are seeing the rapid rise in prices that americans feel. it is a direct result of the $2.5 trillion bill. many people, even economists from the obama administration said don't do this it will cause inflation. what have we seen in just the past five months, milk price is up, bacon price is up, bread is up, price of building materials is up, prices of cars is up,
3:09 pm
shortages in the supply chain. things we identified in february and march and said we need to be attentive if you dump $ 2.5 trillion into the economy, what does it do? with everyone in america seeing the rising prices, there's a conversation about trillions of dollars more of spending -- more of spending. what effect do you think that will have? we've already seen the effect of what happened in march. what effect do you think it will have to add another as it's being forecast $3.5 trillion more spending? sometimes we can't wrap our head around this issue of millions, billions, trillions, because it seems like big numbers. there is a big difference between millions, billions and trillions. the best way i can think to describe this is if you have a
3:10 pm
million seconds rather than a million dollars. a million seconds is about 11 and a half weeks. it's a lot. but a billion seconds is 31 and a half years. that's a big difference. brace yourself because a billion seconds is 31 and a half years, but a trillion seconds is 31,688 years. these are big number that's are being -- numbers that are being thrown around and it is hard to wrap our head around how much spending is going on but the concept of throwing out $3.5 trillion is mindboggling. let me give you one more. a trillion miles -- if i were to say how far is a trillion millions, a trillion miles is if you left washington, d.c., today and flew to the planet pluto 334
3:11 pm
times. from d.c. to our farthest planet 334 times, that's one trillion miles. this is a lot of money that's being thrown around and has real consequences knowing the debt and the borrowing and the tax changes, but how much things actually cost. i'm continuing to be able it to challenge my colleagues when they discuss all these big numbers and say -- and say, let's throw all of this money out there, it has no consequence, i tell you the people in oklahoma feel what's going on. they may not know, but they feel it in the prices every day, what's going on in supply chains and they are very aware and the number one question i get asked when i'm out and about in oklahoma is where is all of this
3:12 pm
money coming from? it's a fair question. there's this back channel conversation right now happening on immigration as well. right now in the news, the news is focused on ten million other things and i literally have people in my state saying, things must be going better now the a the border now because -- at the border now because i don't hear much about it anymore and i smile at them and say and i happen to be engaged in the issues of border management and security. things are not getting better, they are getting worse. march was the myiest number of illegal -- highest number of illegal crossings, it was beaten in may, june, and current trend, it will be beaten in july. in one week last, rio grande crossing had 20,000
3:13 pm
interdictions in one week. at one time they had 15,000 people they were detaining. so what's happening in that? i keep hearing from the administration we're going to take on the root causes. the root causes is a simple way to say we'll deal with this later. because if you want to talk about root causes, it's a statement of saying, basically the problems are in central america, we can't stop it. that's a nice note except here's a list of the countries that passed our border illegally just over a year. it's over 100 countries individuals have illegally crossed the border. what about brazil, what about colombia, what about indonesia? nicaragua, the philippines, indonesia, romania, ukraine,
3:14 pm
united arab emirates. this is just a few of the people that have illegally crossed this year in big numbers. listen, this whole conversation about root causes is a distraction. we do need to be engaged in the western hemisphere. we do need to deal with our drug addiction in this country that causes the flow of drugs to move through south america, central america, mexico into the united states, we need to be aggressive in how we're handling cartels. but to somehow believe if we poured enough money into the northern triangle that this would suddenly end, it's false. we are the greatest country in the world. the root cause of immigration into this country is the great power of the united states, both for freedom and for our economy. people from all over the world want to come here. we have a million people a year that legally come to the united states -- legally, a million.
3:15 pm
and folks that don't want to wait in line pay a cartel and move through mexico to be able to get here literally from all over the world. if we do not enforce our borders, these numbers will continue to rise as they have every single month in this administration, every month the numbers get bigger. we've got to get on top of this. i wish i could say the administration is taking it seriously. i wish i could say they have a plan. i wish i could say they've released out their studies that they said they were going to do but they've not released out their studies. they've not released out their plans. and i continue to ask week after week after week. the first hint that i got of what they plan to do came out in their budget. in their budget they reduced funding for i.c.e. they reduced the number of bed spaces for i.c.e. i was shocked. the numbers continue to skyrocket and their first release of what they plan to do
3:16 pm
on it they asked for a 1,500 bed space reduction in i.c.e. capacity for detention. honestly when i got it, i thought i can't believe they're putting it in print but i already know it was going o. why did i know it was going on? because as i track the numbers all the time, i watched the number of deportations and i.c.e. detentions dramatically decrease. because while some people are focused on the border, they lose track of the fact that not only is this administration not enforcing our southern border, they're not enforcing the interior of the country. we have 6,000 i.c.e. agents in the united states. 6,000 professional law enforcement career folks that are in the country arresting individuals take are illegally present in the country with the first priority for criminal aliens. that's their first priority. safety and security of the united states. of the 6,000 agents in the united states, in may they did 3,000 total arrests.
3:17 pm
3,000 among 6,000 agents in a month. that's a record low. because the administration changed the rules for i.c.e. agents on who they could interdict. the first big rule change they made is, i.c.e. agents cannot arrest someone who is not legally present unless they get permission from regional leadership by name toll arrest that individual. -- to arrest that individual. meaning if they go into a place to arrest someone and they encounter one person that they received permission to actually arrest but also find three other criminal aliens there, they cannot detain or arrest them. they have to leave them, request by name later to go back and get them and guess what? they're not there. shocking. and it's not all criminal aliens. there's only certain criminal aliens that they're now allowed to actually detain. that's a big shift from every previous -- every previous
3:18 pm
administration. let me give you an example that i actually gave to secretary may mayorkas and asked specifically about recent frustrating moments from our i.c.e. agents. just a few days ago i.c.e. reached out on a previously deported alien by name. this person had been convicted of a sex assault of a minor under age 14. the alien was at large and they asked permission to be able to go after this alien and to be able to do a street arrest. remember they'd been deported before. they knew that they were in the area. they were a previous sex offender convicted. they were denied the ability to go after that person. they were told no. they don't meet the standard. case number two, another person that was previously deported, they had a previous conviction for indecency with a child, sexual contact. they were a registered sex
3:19 pm
offender. they believed they were in the area. they were asked if they could pursue arrest. regional leadership told them no. they could not. case number three, this just happened last week. previous deported alien twice so this means they were in the third time in our country illegally. previous convictions for alien smuggling. that is, trafficking of people, theft, illegal entry. they knew they were in the area. they asked if they could do the arrest. regional leadership told them no. i could go on and on. i.c.e. is a different set of rules now than what they've had in the past. it's not just criminal aliens anymore. it's they have to be a really high criminal alien. i could give you lists of people that have multiple d.u.i. off fernses that i.c.e. asked if --
3:20 pm
offenses that i.c.e. asked if they could detain them and they were told no. listen. we've all sat in this -- said in this room we shouldn't engage with criminal aliens and criminal aliens should be deported. i don't know of a person in this room who hasn't said it. we stopped in may deporting criminal aliens. are we going to do nothing about that? if you don't believe me, call secretary mayorkas. he will send you a copy that i have as well of the interim guidance that was put out in may for i.c.e. agents limiting who they could deport and the process for deportation. i've asked him specifically if someone goes to pick up a criminal alien and there are other aliens that are there, can
3:21 pm
they be picked up and the answer has been no. we have a problem, not just on our southern border but what's happening in our country and the issue of enforcement. and we would be wise if we would pay attention to this. i'm fully aware there are many individuals in this body that do not like the southern border wall. that's been a topic of great debate in this room for several years. but is this body aware that in january of this year when president biden paused, quote, unquote, the border wall construction and said i'm going to spend 60 days studying it, that 60-day study is still not complete, 200 days into the presidency. he's still not completed the 60-day study. on top of that the pause of that construction during that time period, we're still paying contractors to not do construction. so far this year we have paid
3:22 pm
contractors $2 billion, billion with a b, $2 billion not to construct the wall. now you may think it's a waste to construct the wall. i do not. but please tell me you at least believe it's a waste to not construct a wall and still pay contractors. do not construct a wall. we're currently paying contractors $3 million a day to watch the materials that have been delivered by january 20 that were sitting on the ground for steel, for fiber, for cameras, for lighting, for roads. we're paying $3 million a day to have them watch the materials on the ground to make sure they're not stolen. $3 million a day. that is a waste. and as people cross our border in record numbers, a new policy
3:23 pm
has been instituted on our southern border called a notice to report. this again has never been done by any administration. a notice to report is when the line gets too long on the southern border, when people are crossing the border, when they're trying to check everyone in. if the line gets too long, border patrol are constructed to grab the folks at the back of the line, give them a notice to report. that's a card telling them where i.c.e. agency offices are around the country and they can just go ahead and go and turn themselves in at whatever i.c.e. agency they want to turn themselves into anywhere in the country. so far 50,000 people this year have been given one of those cards at our southern border and told turn yourself in, wherever you go in the country. 50,000. my shock as i'm trying to track
3:24 pm
the number, 13% have actually done it. i was surprised the number was that high. but that means 87% of the people that we've handed a card to and said turn yourself in wherever you go in the country have not. 87%, we have no idea where they are of that 50,000 people that were released into the country because the line was too long at that moment. listen. we can disagree on a lot of things on immigration but handing people a card and say just travel anywhere you want to go in the country and turn yourself in when you get there, can we at least agree that's a bad idea? can we at least agree paying contractors $2 billion not to construct a wall is a bad idea? can we at least agree that criminal aliens that had been previously convicted and are being picked up for another
3:25 pm
charge should at least be deported in the process? can we at least agree that if you want to deal with the, quote, unquote, root causes in the northern triangle and southern america does not deter the people from over 100 countries that have crossed our southern border this year illegally. there is a bigger problem. can we at least agree that we should address this? we have a great deal of work to be done. i would encourage all of us to get the facts, to get the details of what's really happening, and to understand that when over a million people have illegally crossed the border just this year, that we know of, that's a problem. and it's a problem that hasn't been there in the past anywhere close in this kind of number. and we should address it in this
3:26 pm
body. i've written letters. i've made phone calls. i've done reports. we've done research. i've sat down with secretary mayorkas. i've held nominees for d.h.s. office' done -- i've done everything i can do to bring this issue to the forefront. though others seem to ignore it, this is an issue that we should not ignore. national security is not something we should be flippant about and not everyone crossing that border is just coming for a job. we should engage. with that i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maine is recognized. mr. king: madam president, i rise to speak of a friend and colleague whom we lost this week. mike enzi, the senator from
3:27 pm
wyoming. retired from this body in january of this year when his successor was seated but served here honorably for several decades. i think the simplest description i can give of him is that he was a kind, good, and decent man. i worked with him on the budget committee, but i got to know him best through the wednesday morning prayer breakfast where he was -- to say he was a regular participant is an understatement. even after he left the senate, he was in every single prayer breakfast including last week from his home in wyoming via web x. he was a devoted family man and a devoted man in the service of his country in this body. he had a rare quality. unfortunately, i don't think it
3:28 pm
was all that rare some years ago, but it seems to be coming rarer and rarer. it's a quality my father preached to me years ago. you can disagree without being disagreeable. and that was the way he was. he disagreed. he and i disagreed on a large number of matters, particularly on the budget committee, but he never was overbearing. he never was condescending. he never was harsh. it was always in the spirit of disagreement in good faith based upon principle. one of the problems -- and i want to talk about mike enzi but i also want to put him in the context of modern politics. because i think there are a couple of lessons we can learn from him to try to change the course that we seem to be embarked upon. and one of the problems with modern american politics is we don't have opponents.
3:29 pm
we have enemies. we've converted those who we disagree with as to people we demonize and say are bad people, they're evil. they aren't. they have different views. they have different values. perhaps they have different principles. but to convert opponents into enemies is to poison our democratic system. it's to poison our ability to work together in the common good. if you make someone into an enemy, they're going to be an enemy. even when it comes to something when you -- where you might agree. and mike enzi never did that. one of the things mike enzi taught me was the 80/20 rule. we all heard of 80/20 rules in various context. his 80/20 rule is work on the 80% where you can agree and put
3:30 pm
the 20% where you disagree to the side. he was able to do that throughout his career. he was famous before i got here but he was famous for working with senator ted kennedy of massachusetts. when they were both on the help committee. and i said mike, how did you -- how did you get along with ted kennedy? he said it was easy, 80/20. we put the 20% aside where we knew we were going to differ and we worked on the 80% where we could. and if everybody applied that principle around here, we would get a lot more done. he was also a principled senator. indeed, he would have been on the floor today making a point of order about the budget -- supplemental budget that we just passed because he believed in the principle of the budget act, he believed in the principle of balancing budgets, he was an accountant, and he was as principled man. and he was also decent and kind, as i mentioned. but there's one story about him
3:31 pm
that i want to tell that has stuck with me -- and i've told it a hundred times, although i've never told it while he was with us. now that he's lost us to, i think he would be okay with me telling this story. i was having dinner with him one night early on when i was here in the senate. he mentioned that he was concerned about having a primary opponent in the republican primary in wyoming. i was incredulous. i said, mike, you're one of the most conservative senators here. how can somebody possibly get to your right? and here was my precise question -- what will they charge you with? and his answer was, as profound as it was disturbing. he said they'll charge me with being reasonable. think about that for a minute. he was concerned about the
3:32 pm
possibility of losing a primary election because he had been reasonable, because he applied the 80/20 rule and tried to work together to solve problems, even though there were disagreements on other areas. but he could lose -- he could have lost his election because he was willing to listen to the other side, to be reasonable, to try to find accommodation and, yes, compromise. and this isn't only a republican issue. this is a growing issue across our country in primaries, particularly in gerrymandered districts where the primary is the election. and we're getting a new crop of representatives and senators who are coming here who've been told, don't you dare compromise. don't you dare listen to those other people. you better watch who huer a. having lunch -- you better watch who you're having lunch with.
3:33 pm
i remember spending some time with our immortal senator margaret chase smith, before we lost her in the mid-1990's. she said, during the mccarthy period, you had to worry about who you had lunch with. you would be associated with some liberal senator. we don't want that to be the case. it shouldn't be the case. but if you could lose a primary because you're viewed as someone who's willing to compromise, whether you're getting that primary from the left or from the right, imagine what it does to our ability to get things done. if people come here knowing that one of the ways they can jeopardize their career is by listening to the other side, trying to get to know what's going on on the other side and compromising to get something
3:34 pm
done, it's paralysis. it's one of the reasons we're in paralysis. mike enzi said, they're going to charge me with being reasonable. i think this is one of the hidden problems in american politics today. it's not what your position is on abortion or gun rights or foreign policy or any other -- immigration. it's whether you're willing to talk to the other side, listen, and try to get to a compromise to solve a problem. that can cost you your seat. what a pernicious doctrine, what a dangerous situation. democracy is built upon compromise. we have 535 people in this building. we're going to have 535 different viewpoints, interests. we remember different states, different areas. we have different principles, we have different values. we've got to compromise. otherwise it's just perennial gridlock. which, by the way, our
3:35 pm
constituents hate when i talk to people in maine, what they most -- the biggest question i get is, why can't you people work together? why can't you get anything done? why can't you talk to one another and sit down and break bread together and solve problems? this idea of not being able to compromise, this body is a product of compromise. at the constitutional convention in 1787, the debate almost fell apart on the issue of representation. there was the large-state plan and the small-state plan, and the worry was, if it was only one body of the legislature that the big states with more population would overrun the smaller states, they couldn't figure out what to do and finally one of the delegates from connecticut proposed what was called the great compromise, which was the invention of the u.s. senate. this body itself was built on
3:36 pm
compromise. but there is no human problem that can be solved without compromise. nobody has it all right. nobody has all the answers. no party has all the answers. no group of people have all the answers. you always are better off listening to other people, debating, and coming to some consensus solution. i have a friend in maine that has a big sign in his office that says, all of us are always smarter than any of us. and i think that's a profound observation. it means that there's wisdom throughout this room and throughout this body, and that we have to tackle these difficult problems, difficult, challenging problems that we have, using all the wisdom that we can possibly get our hands on. and that means listening to other people, even though we may not agree with them.
3:37 pm
i just sat and listened to the senator from oklahoma make an impassioned and i think powerful statement about immigration. he raised questions in my mind that i want answers to. that's the way this place is supposed to work. but if i can't go back to maine -- if i can't go back and admit i listened to the senator today and he raised questions that bothered me, if i can't say that, if that in itself would endanger my career, then if people are coming here fearing that kind of being locked out, we'll never get anything done. so, to me, mike enzi was a hero and a model -- and a model of the kind of person we need in this body. i didn't agree with him on a lot of issues, but he was always willing to listen. and i did agree with him -- there was some measurable percentage, i don't know, 10%, 20%, 30%, where we did agree and
3:38 pm
he was a very effective ally because he was so respected here because people knew that he made his own decisions. and we need more people like him, and we need to remember the principle that he shared with us, which is be reasonable. when we're in place where being reasonable san offense that can cost you -- is an offense that can cost you your job, we're in real trouble as a country, woulder in real trouble as a democracy. it's hard enough in a democracy to make decisions and to get things done. that's inherent in our system. the framers wanted to design a system that was difficult and cumbersome to operate and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. but it was always based upon a principle of listening, of debating, of changing minds, and, yes, of compromising.
3:39 pm
so i want to pay tribute to mike enzi today, not only because, as i said, he was a kind, good, and decent man, but because i think he was an example of the kind of people we need here and the way we should conduct ourselves and the way we should do our work. and we also have to talk to our constituents and say to them, you have to let me listen to the other side. you have to give me little space to try to do something good. it may not be perfect, it may not be just what you like, but it may be what we need, it may be the best we can do in a muris stick, democratic system where people have different -- have different viewpoints, values, and priorities. so, we lost a great man this week. we lost a great person.
3:40 pm
we lost a great senator. we lost a great friend. we'll miss him. i miss not only mike and that great smile, but i miss what he stood for, the way he conducted himself, the way he treated his fellow senators and everyone that he encountered. mike enzi was a great man. i hope we can live up to his example. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor.
3:41 pm
3:42 pm
mr. cornyn: madam president?
3:43 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from texas is recognized. mr. cornyn: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: no, we are not. mr. cornyn: thank you. madam president, let me state the obvious. there is a big and growing problem in our country, and the american people are becoming more and more alarmed. a recent poll found that 60% of americans are worried about crime. a percentage of those who say they are extremely concerned is at the highest point in more than two decades, and it's easy to see why. even four former colleague from -- even our former colleague from california, senator barbara boxer, was recently assaulted and robbed in california. but cities across our country have experienced an alarming spike in violent crime and murder rates. new york city has seen nearly double the number of shootings from 2019 to 2020.
3:44 pm
nationwide, homicides are up 25% during that same period. that's the largest single-year increase since 1960. not only are the american people noticing these increases with growing alarm, they're eager to see solutions that help make things better by improving public safety. a recent poll found that 90% of detroit residents said they would feel safer with more cops on the street, not fewer. that seems intuitive. it seems obvious. but apparently not to everybody. because this is the antithesis of the rhetoric we've heard over the past year, as many on the left have called to defund the police. and reduce the role that law enforcement officers play in our lives. a number of major cities took the recommendations of these activists and eliminated funding for their police departments.
3:45 pm
new york city, oakland, baltimore are among the many cities to cut police funding. said they're among those increasing police budgets to address rising crime rates that i think are directly related to the defund the police effort.itt all the leaders of our major cities are on board with this trend. last summer when i was in dallas visiting my friend, mayor eric johnson, he was on his way to recording the highest number of murders in 16 years. the city council cut the police department's overtime budget by $7 million. mayor johnson pushed back against these irresponsible cuts at the time when crime and domestic violence were already on the rise, and now he's pushing the city to hire 275 new police officers and increase officers' salaries.
3:46 pm
the truth of the matter is texans, like other folks across the country, are concerned about the increase in crime in their communities. leaders should want to focus on the needs of their constituents, but a small but loud group of liberal activists who want to reimagine law enforcement, whatever that means, apparently have prevailed on those who would like to see our communities safer. well, we're starting to see a response or really a boomerang from these defund the police efforts. for example, just take a look at the new democratic nominee for mayor of new york city. at this point last year protesters marched in the streets of new york chanting defund the police. one year later the presumed winner is a former nypd captain who ran on a tough-on-crime platform. as it turns out, practical solutions to real problems carry
3:47 pm
more weight than identify i don't see -- ideological warfare. in the senate we're trying to find solutions for tangible results. our friend tim scott is leading negotiations with democratic colleagues and i know i'm not alone in hoping we can find bipartisan action to restore trust and accountability in our police while at the same time having their back. but we have to remember that this crime surge is tied to far more than police departments. make no mistake, law enforcement plays a key role in stopping crime, but there's a lot more that can and should be done to prevent crime from happening in the first place. one factor we can't ignore is the crisis on our southern border. despite the fact that we've reached migration levels not seen in the previous two decades, the biden administration has simply failed to provide law enforcement with the resources they need in order to secure our borders.
3:48 pm
border patrol agents who should be on the front lines of this crisis are caring for children instead of stopping criminals and illegal drugs from coming across our border, they're changing diapers and supervising play time. meanwhile, the drug cartels, who are very sophisticated, they understand that when you take 40% of the border patrol off the border and have them processing unaccompanied children, that that's a prime opportunity to smuggle illicit drugs into the united states, which unfortunately contributed to the death of 93,000 americans last year alone just in drug overdoses. so when our border patrol is not adequately funded and resourced or is because of bad policy decisions diverted from their primary task, we don't know who is crossing the border and we are creating more risk for our
3:49 pm
communities across the country. the lack of personnel creates huge gaps. and make no mistake, the criminals and the cartels know how to exploit those gaps. in 2019, a 33-year-old honduran national was arrested in north carolina on rape and child sex offense charges. this man had been previously deported, but he illegally reentered the united states. after his arrest, the county jail refused to honor the detainer from i.c.e., immigration and customs enforcement, and so the man was released. it took two months before i.c.e. was finally able to arrest him, but this type of story is not unique. we all remember the tragic murder of kate steinle in be 2015. she and her father were walking along a pier in san francisco
3:50 pm
when she was shot and kit. -- killed. the man who killed her was an illegal immigrant who had been deported not once, not twice, but five times and he had seven felony convictions. i want to be clear about one point, the actions of these criminals do not and should not reflect on the law-abiding immigrants. any threat to frame them is completely detached from reality. but my point in sharing these stories is to show that there are devastating and dangerous consequences to an unfettered flow of people and drugs and other contraband across the southern border. we need to know exactly who and what is crossing our border, and this applies both to people and contraband. cartels and criminal organizations are paying very
3:51 pm
close attention to the state of our border security. they see when gaps are created by fewer officers on the front lines, and they're simply exploiting those gaps. fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana are pouring across our border at an alarming rate. as i mentioned, there are deadly consequences with 93,000 americans dying of drug overdoses last year alone. that's up 30% over the previous year. and the experts tell us there is an association between substance abuse and crime. there are crimes involving the drug users themselves, both who steal to buy drugs as well as those who are under the influence of drugs when they commit their crimes. and we can't ignore the dangers drug dealers and traffickers create for our communities.
3:52 pm
last week the police chief of the district of columbia held a press conference to discuss crime increases in this city. he talked about the dangers of marijuana use, saying i can tell you that marijuana is undoubtedly connected to violent crimes that we're seeing in our communities. he went on to say this creates a very dangerous situation because those individuals get robbed, those individuals get shot, those individuals get involved in disputes all across our city. that's not his words -- those are his words. those are not mine. but those dangers apply to any type of drug being moved and districted by illegal channels, whether it's marijuana, heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, or anything else. we have a fundamental responsibility, madam president, to stop criminals, stop the cartels, stop gang members, stop the drug dealers, and the host of
3:53 pm
unknown dangers from quietly slipping across our border and infiltrating our communities. the biden-harris administration needs to take these responsibilities seriously. madam president, the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. cornyn: madam president, the biden-harris administration need to take their responsibilities for public safety seriously. the only thing worse than the increase in crime and the growing concern among the public is the prospect of things actually getting worse. if we're not stopping dangerous people and drugs at the border or handicapping local police departments by defunding them. and what do we expect to happen? do we think there will actually be a positive outcome? well, that's detached from reality of course.
3:54 pm
the american people are overwhelmingly concerned about the increases crime in america, and they deserve to have a government that prioritizes the safety of them and their families. concerns about crime are shared by both republicans and democrats. my friend, the mayor of dallas, eric johnson, who i mentioned a moment ago, had to fight with his own city council to get the police adequately funded. he is a proud texas democrat. so these are not partisan matters. this is not a time -- but this is not a time as well to pull critical funding from our political or vil niez officers or paint with such a broad brush that the actions of one taint the reputation for the rest of law-abiding and patriotic law enforcement officers. this is not the time to relax our enforcement at the border or create even more opportunities for crime, cartels and gangs to
3:55 pm
exploit our laws. madam president, crime in america is a very real problem, and the biden administration needs to wake up and address this full range of contributing factors before the situation becomes even more dangerous in all of our communities across the state. madam president, i yield the floor. and i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. fl quorum call:
3:56 pm
mr. warnock: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia is recognized. senator, we're in a quorum call. mr. warnock: i ask the quorum call be set aside. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. warnock: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia is recognized. mr. warnock: madam president, i believe health care is a human right, and with all the incentives on the table for georgia to expand medicaid, it is past time to do so. my home state of georgia, where state leaders have refused to expand medicaid, has the opportunity to provide
3:57 pm
affordable health care to 646,000 people who could qualify. i refuse to allow georgians to suffer and be cut off from care while politicians play games. this is why i introduced recently the medicaid saves lives act. this is legislation that would allow people in states like mine who haven't expanded medicaid an alternative path to health coverage. because for far too many, access to be affordable, reliable health care is the difference between life and death. madam president, i agree with martin luther king jr., who said that of all the injustices, inequality in health care is the most shocking and the most inhumane.
3:58 pm
so i'm grateful that this plan, the medicaid saves lives act, which i introduced the other day , is positioned to be included in the forthcoming economic package. and that's why i rise again on the senate floor to tell the story of another georgia, a story that gets to the heart of why this bill is important. this is amy bielawiski. amy is the owner of a small business, hair brained productions. it is an event planning company in tucker, georgia. as you can imagine, amy's company took a significant hit during the pandemic. unable to book regular gigs and
3:59 pm
plan events, events that all of us miss as we have been clawing our way back from this pandemic, amy qualified for unemployment benefits this past year. and with that critical support, amy had temporary access to affordable marketplace plans created by the affordable care act. but with the end of georgia's unemployment benefits looming and the entertainment sector still suffering from the effects of the pandemic, her access to coverage, the coverage she so desperately needs, is on the brink. again. at the same time she will have to manage her thyroid disease, high blood pressure, pituitary gland, tumor, fibroids and all the other health hiccups that
4:00 pm
come along with aging. if georgia was to expand medicaid or if there was a federal medicaid program for nonexpansion states like georgia, amy would no longer have to worry about getting reliable health coverage for her chronic conditions. this is the human face of the public policy we make or the public policy we fail to make. as our state's health care options stand now, amy says she, quote, doesn't think they care about people like me falling through the cracks. even more disappointing, when asked what medicaid expansion would mean for her, amy was reluctant to even picture that future. she said, well, it's really difficult to say because i've never had consistent health
4:01 pm
care. it is hard to imagine. think about that. it is hard for somebody who works every day with the kind of entrepreneurial thrust, serious work ethic, grit, and determination in the richest country on the planet. she says it's hard for her to imagine having consistent health care. she says she's used to be shoving aside and doing without. with all of amy's health issues, doing without, as she puts it, can only work for so long. we're costing georgia more and more every day by not providing access to health care to the people who need it most. like amy's story, preventive
4:02 pm
care and annual visits are skipped conditions that could be prevented or treated earlier worsen and georgians end up using emergency rooms instead of addressing these health issues in primary care appointments months prior. this past year amy herself had to go to the e.r. because of chest pains. with a history of high blood pressure, she couldn't avoid the pain in her chest that wasn't going anywhere. she made her way to the e.r. after all, what if it was a heart attack? a short stay later, after spending less than an hour in a hospital room, she went home with a $3,000 bill. that's bad policy for her. it's certainly bad policy for every georgian.
4:03 pm
what kinds of costs would be avoided for the hospital and for amy herself if she had access to primary care provider through medicaid and more regular, affordable, consistent access to care? madam president, in other states, amy would be eligible for medicaid. and according to amy, access to reliable, quality, affordable health care through medicaid would be nothing short, she says, of miraculous. amy is one georgian who represents the stories of hundreds of thousands in our state and across the country who need the medicaid saves lives act. and until we get this done -- because i believe that health care is a human right -- i'm going to keep lifting up amy's story and the stories of other georgians who would benefit from
4:04 pm
this lifesaving legislation. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi is recognized. mr. wicker: i'm told that the distinguished senator from georgia may have some follow-up unanimous consent -- okay, if not, i'm happy to proceed. madam president, i rise today pointing out an injustice done by the authorities running the tokyo olympics. this morning americans learned the news that sam kendricks, an american double world champion pole as a resulter from --
4:05 pm
vaulter from oxford, mississippi, has been shut out from competing in the olympics after a positive covid-19 test today, almost certainly a false-positive covid-19 test. this is an injustice that can still be rectified. if the olympic committee will be fair. for those of you who don't know sam, he's an alum of the university of mississippi, old miss, where he took back-to-back ncaa championships before launching his professional career. he won the u.s. olympic trials in 23016 and went on to the rheoolympics where he took on the -- the rio olympics where he took home the gold medal. then you probably do remember sam kendricks. he is the pole vaulter who stopped midrun to stand and
4:06 pm
salute for his national anthem. that's sam kendricks, olympian champion from the state of mississippi. he's made his school, his state, and his nation very proud, and by all accounts he was expected to be a contender for the gold medal this year. but after testing negative for the covid virus three times, sam received a positive test result earlier today. the time frame is different in tokyo, but it was on thursday. and under international olympic committee rules, he was immediately disqualified from competition, even though he had previously tested negative three times, even though he has already had the coronavirus, and even though a follow-up test administered to u.s. olympic
4:07 pm
standards came up negative. the rules are you got to wait six days. well, guess what? his competition is friday. and adherence to high-bound rules like that will bar him from it the olympics. no consideration for the fact that his tests -- one of thousands of tests administered daily may very well have been a fluke. as sam told the world, he's not sick. he's not displaying symptoms. he's already had covid-19 and should be immune. and, again, he tested, according to u.s.a. track and field team tests, immediately after getting this false-positive t obviously, the fair thing for the olympic committee to do would be to follow up immediately on another test to verify whether all these
4:08 pm
negatives were correct and, undoubtedly, they were. but the powers that be won't allow sam kendricks to get an official follow-up. no, according to official protocols, he must wait six days. then he can have a follow-up tests, which no doubt would show that he doesn't have the covid virus. what about fundamental fairness? as sam kendricks' father said, she is athletes travel too far, work for too many years, make too many sacrifices not to confirm a positive test. a very inexpensive thing to do. i agree with mr. ken doctor. these athletes -- i agree to with mr. kendricks. these athletes should be given a follow-up test. but that's not the way the olympic authorities in japan see it. my question is this,
4:09 pm
mr. president -- what is the health risk of a follow-up test? how could it possibly hurt anyone or anything to make sure you've got it right when you tell a young american that he can't compete for his nation in the olympics? so, mr. president, i say, i'm not just disappointed, i am outraged. outraged that a young athlete is unfairly missing out on his chance to show his talent to the world and win a gold medal on above of his country, aghast that a proud global tradition like the olympics, a celebration of sport, competition, and international cooperation has been reduced to testing protocols, rigid rules that are fundamentally unfair, inflexible rules that assume there's no such thing as a false-positive.
4:10 pm
i send my best wishes and congratulations to sam kendricks and his family for the good grace they have displayed in the face of this the unfair and pointless disqualification. and allow me to state emphatically that i'm not willing to be so gracious. if this action stands -- and i hope it will not stand -- this high-bound decision by the decision-makers at tokyo should make them ashamed of themselves. mr. president, it's not too late , even today -- it's friday morning in tokyo. even today the olympic committee can use essential and fairness -- can use common sense and fairness. it's friday morning in tokyo. when the sun comes up, give sam
4:11 pm
kendricks a confirming test and allow this young man to represent his country. and i yield the floor.
4:12 pm
mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah is recognized. mr. lee: mr. president, the word republic means public thing in latin. we bring our different perspectives and our different identities together respectfully to make decisions for an entire nation. the united states is a nation with diverse, varied beliefs, different cultural origins, and different politics from different regions, different states that we represent. it has been this way from the very beginning. as much as many of us imagine
4:13 pm
otherwise, from the outset of our republic, there were immense differences. depending which state someone represented, they might have different views, our republic -- for that matter, any republic in the history of republics, has relied on the willingness of the citizenry to be kind, for individuals who play a role in that republic to be kind and respectful and decent to each other, even when -- especially when -- we disagree with each other. our founders knew that, and they enshrined it into our constitution. as much as nick, they assumed -- as much as anything, they assumed it. and it was on that set of assumptions that the minority leaders enshrined in -- that the norms in enshrined in the constitution worked. the only way a republic account function now or 250 years ago or 250 years from now, it always has to follow a somewhat similar
4:14 pm
formula, the only way it can function is when citizens and leaders are gracious to those with whom they disagree and grant the freedom necessary to allow others to make choices, even if those choices might be things that they disagree with. we've witnessed the degradation of american political discourse for some time now. it's been a sad, tragic reality unfolding, but it's not an inexorable conclusion. it's not one from which we cannot depart. but we must make a choice to do better, to choose a better path. we received a bulletin earlier today, a bulletin from the capitol police indicating that all visitors and all house staffers and in fact all house members are required to wear
4:15 pm
masks indoors or be denied entry or forced to leave the premises. and at least in the case of staff and visitors, if they fail to comply, they'll be arrested, arrested for unlawful entry. conviction for a violation of this rule will, according to the bulletin, be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000, imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. the senate, which happens to be housed in the same building as the house, is not subject to these same requirements. but is this decision based on science or is it based on the will and whim of the speaker of the house of representatives? whatever the reason, the arrest of peaceful house staffers shows the total loss of political grace in the house of representatives. i cannot fathom a legitimate
4:16 pm
reason to arrest a person in this building for not wearing a mask. i cannot fathom a legitimate reason for arresting anyone based on failure to wear a mask. members are not treated as the legitimate representatives of their constituents, as in fact they are under our system of government, when they're subjected to this kind of manipulation, when they're subjected to this type of oppressive order. staff, under this type of oppressive directive, aren't treated as hardworking, dedicated americans, which truly they are. instead everyone who doesn't comply is deemed the enemy of the current house of representatives. there's no room for disagreement or dissent. it is tragic indeed to see a key
4:17 pm
deliberative body who dissent or debate, are supposed to be tolerated and appreciated and decided and have been not just for decades but for centuries to see that turned into a place where disagreement and dissent are disdained and punished by arrest. congress works on collegiality and respect. we need to get back to those basics. regardless of what you might think about the coronavirus, about the vaccine, about masks, there's never a good reason to arrest someone for not wearing a mask. this decision falls into the larger context. the centers for disease control's recent flip-flop on masks and the biden administration's worrying push toward mask and vaccination mandates. the c.d.c. issued updated recommendations earlier this week starting, stating at its
4:18 pm
outset that masks should be worn indoors in areas of, quote, substantial or high transmission, close quote, even by individuals who have been fully vaccinated. now this new guidance claims that, quote, emerging evidence suggests that fully vaccinated persons who do become infect ld with the delta videotaper are at risk for -- with the delta variant are at risk of transmitting it to others, close quote but one glaring thing is missing from that conclusion -- evidence backing up the c.d.c.'s claims. in fact, the c.d.c. didn't publish any new research on the effectiveness of the covid vaccines against the newer variants when it issued its latest edict. the c.d.c.'s website simply cites unpublished data from its covid-19 response team when it makes this new rather significant, rather jarring,
4:19 pm
ratherimpactful and rather unwise claim. the c.d.c. is undermining its own credibility and thus i believe placing public health and safety at risk by going back and forth on recommendations and failing to be up front about whether there's any actual, reliable scientific evidence to support or compel those recommendations. in fact, even when asked questions by members of congress, the c.d.c. is failing to respond. this is not hyperbole. this is not conjecture. this is based on my own personal experience. i'll point to the fact that on april 24, more than three months ago, i sent a letter to the centers for disease control asking a very simple question, a simple question that i would hope anyone here would want to be asked. i wanted to know why is it that when there are so many of our
4:20 pm
peer nations around the world that don't require masks to be worn on airplanes, for example, by children as young as two, as we do in the united states. many of our peer nations, the mask requirement may not kick in until 10 or 1 1 years old or in some cases 5 or 6 years old, but here the c.d.c. says it's got to kick in at two years old. i'd ask the question, did any of these people who made this recommendation, who made that conclusion that two-year olds should have to travel with a mask, have they ever known an actual two-year-old? have they ever raised a child? have they ever traveled on an airplane, in a car, on a bus, in the train, in the rain, anywhere with an actual child? it doesn't work. now when you add that to the fact that children react to the virus differently than adults dt
4:21 pm
mildly -- when you add that to the fact that this creates other problems for children, not just for those handling them but for the kids themselves, it makes it especially important to know why. my letter wasn't attempting to make any case. my letter was simply trying to obtain information. you have see, because when the c.d.c. makes these sweeping recommendations, and sometimes they like to make them feel easier by calling them recommendations when in fact they precipitate a whole host of things that feel a whole lot more binding than recommendations. you see, because if you get on an airplane or a bus or a train or you go to a bus depot or a train station or an airport and you've got a two-year-old who won't wear a mask, as any red-blooded american two-year-old will not do, you're told that you're subject to arrest and that you're violating federal law if you do that. so it's not unreasonable to ask
4:22 pm
that they pony up with information. if they're going to make recommendations, they should explain to us what those recommendations are. so i asked them what scientific proof is there that a two-year-old needs to wear a mask. well, i said that on april 24. i didn't hear anything on april 25 or the 26 or the 27 or the 28th or 29th or 30th or any of the days of the months of may or june or july, and we're almost to the end of the month of july. they didn't respond to this. i don't know why. maybe they're really busy doing other stufer. -- stuff. maybe they're busy trying to figure out where they're going to flip out next and where they're going to issue their next edid it that -- edict thate american people are going to follow blindly without evidence. but this doesn't inspire confidence nor does it inspire confidence for an agency that
4:23 pm
makes these recommendations that have a really significant impact to flip-flop and not justify its own analysis, not provide even a scintilla of scientific proof for what it did. so let's get back to its more recent flip-flop, the fact that it's flip-flopped this week coupled with the fact that it hasn't backed up its other claims over the past few months is troubling to many of us, especially so when you consider the fact that in my personal experience -- i've been vaccinated. i chose to get the vaccine. i respect those who have chosen not to. for many of those i've known who have been reluctant to get the vaccine, who eventually got the vaccine, most of them i would say ended up getting it when they realized that certain aspects of life could be made more predictable and more convenient if they did get the vaccine. many people, when they walked into a hotel lobby or a restaurant or a grocery store or a costco or a sam's club, if
4:24 pm
they would see signs saying that vaccinated persons need not wear masks, they'd realize there's some benefit there. l if they got the vaccine, they could walk in there and say, well, i don't have to wear the mask. now obviously we don't ever want to get to the point where somebody has to wear an arm band to prove whether they have been vaccinated or not. in fact, that would be an absolutely horrifying experiment that we should not attempt. but the fact is that when people see that there might be some benefit, as they're more likely to do, if they see that something different will happen in their life if they get the vaccine, they're more likely to get it. but when you're constantly moving the goalpost, you're seeing here are the benefits of the vaccine. psyche, just kidding, we're moving along. we're going to take those away. people are not going to get it. so if you want more people to get vaccinated, you darned well
4:25 pm
better have the c.d.c. getting its act together providing the scientific evidence for what the c.d.c. is recommending and what it's not. and so, look, i'm still waiting for answers from the c.d.c. on my april 24 letter, and i'm still waiting for answers from the c.d.c. when it comes to scientific evidence supporting their most recent flip-flop. but while we wait for those answers and that clock is ticking, i don't know whether we need to start humming the tune to jeopardy, but they need to provide those answers. and while we wait for those answer, here are a few principles that i think might help guide some of our discussions. our government needs to trust americans to make these decisions, some of the most personal decisions that a human being can make for themselves. we need to trust the people's representatives in congress to make decisions regarding the law. we need to be able to trust each other to be decent and to be kind when we disagree.
4:26 pm
we have to learn from our own history, from our own nature as individuals, and from the history that we've experienced as a nation. we cannot stand by while those in power simply decide on their own whim that they're going to arrest political opponents for disagreeing. at what point did we try, that we decided that it was okay to cross that threshold? i get it, we always need to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. sometimes that's really hard. sometimes all of us fall a little short of that mark. but i think all of us should be able to agree that we shouldn't arrest those who disagree with us merely because they disagree with us.
4:27 pm
that's wrong. we're better than that. this time calls for more political understanding and hardy, legitimate debate, not blind mandates and manipulation. we have to remember that at its heart, at its core, government is not deity. it's neither omniscient. it doesn't have a heart with which to love you. government is forced -- government is force. it's the official use of coercive force. we need that. we need that to protect safety to make sure that we don't hurt each other, that we're not harmed by others, that we don't take each other's possessions. but we've got to be very careful about how we operate it because otherwise force is just force. and if we start arresting
4:28 pm
everyone with whom we disagree, we're not going to be able to do the things we need to do, which is to make sure that government's there to prevent people from hurting each other and taking each other's things. we need to be kind to our neighbors, even when, especially when we disagree. we need to be helpful and caring to those around us, even if they vote, feel, believe, or even act very differently than we do. we must not allow for arrests and mandates to members of congress and their staffs without providing sufficient evidence. and, yeah, all of this stuff goes both ways. we all need to be respectful of each other's opinions. but look, we're not talking here about activity that by it's
4:29 pm
very nature is so harmful that it warrants the use of blunt political force in the form of an arrest. i cannot fathom a circumstance in which it's ever appropriate to arrest another human being for not wearing a mask, covid or no covid. that's not arterial, mr. president. -- that's not arrest material, mr. president. in congress and across the country, what we need now is a return to american graciousness, our way of life, and our precious republic are at stake. thank you, mr. president. mrs. blackburn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee is recognized. mrs. blackburn: thank you, mr. president. i am pleased to come and join my colleagues on the floor today and have a discussion about what is taking place here in this
4:30 pm
capitol building. now my colleague from utah just mentioned something that i think is so important. being able to disagree agreeably, having a difference of opinion and showing respect to other people. this nation has remained strong and vibrant and free because we believe in robust, respectful bipartisan debate. we do not lock up or silence or push or disappear people who disagree with us and our beliefs. and what we see happening in the house where the capitol police would have the ability to -- to
4:31 pm
haul staffers and visitors to jail for not wearing a mask. think about that. it would be not wearing a mask, a choice, making a choice to not wear a mask. so it is important for us to realize this is a difference of opinion. we have told the american people, get vaccinated. i've chosen to be vaccinated. get the vaccine. you don't have to put that mask on if you get vaccinated. but now what are we hearing? masks are coming back. the science is very divided on the value of a mask. is it just to protect you?
4:32 pm
is it to protect others? do masks serve as a disincentive for people who actually get the vaccine, which is what we have encouraged people to do. talk to your physician, make certain the vaccine is right for you and get the vaccine so you don't have to wear the mask. now, one of the things that we know is this, covid is here to stay. we are going to continue to have covid-19 in our presence. we know that. but we also know that this that is happening today is not necessarily about masks. this is about continuing to perpetrate these lockdowns, that we've had a series of lockdowns and scarce and -- scares and
4:33 pm
things where we are pulling back on freedom and giving power to the government and lessening the ability for individual choices, that's what this is about. there is no deliberation that appears to have gone into this newest mandate from the speaker of the house, but you don't need deliberation when you've decided that you can just resort to threats such as this. locking up staffers and visitors if they do not wear a mask on the house side. just over the past few days we've seen high-profile democrats buying right into this new tactic.
4:34 pm
here's some of what we've been hearing -- you know, as a mom and a grandma, i hear a lot from moms and grand moms, and my text threads and e-mails and phone calls, mr. president, you just wouldn't even believe it. they feel like our colleagues across the aisle are just forgetting that science -- science has weighed in on this issue and now they are hearing these threats. threatening to keep our children out of school. not let them go back to school in september. we don't need them to go to school. teachers unions not sure they want to go back to school in september. but, oh, by the way, if you do
4:35 pm
go back to school, they might want to put your children in masks. mr. speaker, children, little kids in school, we have heard it from pediatricians. we've all read the articles. there are truly some adverse side's fects to little children -- side effects to little children being told to wear a mask every day. there are physical, emotional, there are psychological adverse effects to these children, not to mention some i heard from pediatricians of children not knowing how to wear the mask, they touch the mask and then they put a dirty mask up over their nose and their mouth and those concerns. so what we're hearing about our children in school is of
4:36 pm
tremendous concern to the moms that are out there. we're hearing they are threatening families and small businesses with yet another lockdown to come. i have a lot of friends who are in the retail industry. and right now, you know what they are doing, mr. president? they are beginning to get in merchant -- items for the next quarter. these are mom and pop stores, they are on main street in every small town in this country just like they are in tennessee, and the decisions that are being made here make them very nervous and very uncomfortable because they are thinking, all right, what if we go into a lockdown? what if people can't get into my
4:37 pm
store and here i have finely made it through covid and i'm looking forward to a good fourth-quarter and now we're getting this kind of information out of washington, d.c.? all of this is not rational. there is no evidence, none, to suggest that yet another aboutface on masking is going to keep people healthier, is going to make them healthier. there is no evidence for that, mr. president. so let's call it what it is. this is left-wing hysteria. this is hysteria. frighten people. make them think a lockdown's coming. make them think things are worse than what they are. no, this is the united states of
4:38 pm
america. we do not lock up people we disagree with. we don't push forward with this type of activity. we don't silence our opponents. we believe in free speech. we believe in individuals being able to make their choices, and i think that it is fair to say what the speaker of the house has done is not trusting the science that brought us this vaccine. and thank goodness president donald trump brought about operation warp speed, an issue to challenge to our federal agencies, an issue to challenge to our pharmaceutical companies and say let's see if we can find a way to defeat this virus. there is a vaccine there.
4:39 pm
i think what you see happening with the democrats and with the speaker of the house is what we in tennessee call a good old fashioned come apart because they are not getting their way and the american people do not believe that they are getting serious about doing serious business that the american people want to see. addressing out-of-control spending, addressing the needs of this country.
4:40 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from texas is recognized. mr. cruz: mr. president, in 1887, lord acton wrote a series of letters to bishop creighton, letters that would echo down across the centuries. lord acton wrote, i cannot accept your cannon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men with the favorable presumption that they did no wrong. if there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal
4:41 pm
responsibility. power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. great men are almost exclusively bad men even where they exercise influence and not authority. still more when you super add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. mr. president, those words were true in 1887 and were true today. if you want to understand how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, look no further than the other chamber in the united states capitol. speaker nancy pelosi is drunk on power.
4:42 pm
the orders that speaker pelosi is issuing are abusive and you precedented. speaker pelosi has decreed to members of the house of representatives, elected by the people, that if you dare walk on to the floor of the house of representatives without a mask, i, speaker pelosi, shall fine you. who the hell is she to be fining members of the house? but, you know what, she's not done with that. she's not done with disrespecting our constitution, disrespecting our democratic system that elects our leaders. she goes further, to the good men and women who work here in the united states capitol. we are surrounded by men and women who have chosen to come and work for the public good, and here's what speaker pelosi's
4:43 pm
decreed. if you dare walk in the hallway without a mask, i, speaker pelosi, will arrest you. i will put you in jail. i will fine you. that is an absolute and complete abuse of power. she has no authority to disrespect the men and women who work here to threaten you with physical harm, to threaten you with imprisonment. and why does she do so? she does so for one reason, political theater. mr. president, we are coming through a very difficult year and a half. our nation and the world has endured a pandemic. we have collectively taken extraordinary steps to defeat this pandemic and we are coming out on the other side. we saw our nation, we saw the
4:44 pm
private sector come together with remarkable inventiveness and produce vaccines in record times and we have seen hundreds of millions of people getting those vaccines. we are in the process of beating this pandemic. not too long ago the c.d.c. recognized what was obvious then and is obvious now, vaccines work. and if you're vaccinated, you don't need to wear a mask. the c.d.c. issued that ruling, and i remember that day well. you know, i had been vaccinated a couple of months before then, and after allowing the time for the vaccine to become effective, i decided i was going to do
4:45 pm
that? because i know vaccines work, because i believe in science. so i stopped wearing a mask and there were a handful of senators on the senate floor who had been vaccinated who stopped wearing masks. then the c.d.c. like the oracle of adelphi issued its proclamation. hold on to your seats now. the c.d.c. said vaccines work. that if you're evacuated, you don't need a mask. and it was truly miraculous in chamber watching what occurred. as within days every senator in the chamber began removing their masks. one after the another after the another, not just republicans, democrats, too. we all had our masks off. mr. president, i ask you the day before the oracle of fauci
4:46 pm
spoke, did vaccines not work? did science not operate? no, it was obvious then and it was obvious on the day that the oracle of the c.d.c. spoke that vaccines work which is why every democrat took their masks off. but fast forward to this week. the c.d.c. issues a new proclamation apparently, according to the c.d.c., vaccines don't work anymore. that science thing inoperative. we've got more important things to worry about like politics. as an aside, mr. president, has there ever been an institution in american public life that is more discredited itself more rapidly than the c.d.c.? a year and a half ago the c.d.c. was one of the most respected medical and scientific organizations on the face of the planet. today the c.d.c. is willingly
4:47 pm
allowed itself to be politicized, to behave as an arm of the d.n.c. and their credibility is in tatters. it is a joke. we have seen the e-mails from dr. fauci where he said in the midst of the pandemic masks don't work, they're not effective, people shouldn't use them. then we saw him say oh, no, no, no. masks work but i lied to the american people when i said they didn't work because i didn't want them to wear a mask because i wanted first responders to get them. pause for a second and think what is the heck is a scientific leader doing lying to the american people supposedly for our own good? the willingness to twist facts to meet political expediency has been stunning. the c.d.c.'s ruling this week, it's not accompanied by any data. they did not roll out studies. they did not roll out facts. they did not say suddenly vaccines aren't working. instead they just said trust us.
4:48 pm
we have double super secret studies we're not going to tell you based on double super secret data that we're not going to show you but trust us because we behave like political hacks and obey us anyway. by the way rnghts the c.d.c. plays an interesting game. the c.d.c. says these are recommendations. they are just recommendations. then their faithful little foot soldiers, the democratic office holders, come in and make those recommendations mandates. there's no one more willing to do so than speaker pelosi. and then by the way, the local government democrats that mandate you must "bay -- must obey the c.d.c., they throw their hands up and say hey, we're just following the c.d.c. and the c.d.c. says hey, we're just making recommendations and no one is accountable for anything. this makes no sense.
4:49 pm
one of the things the c.d.c. rolled out this week is an edict that in schools everybody must be masked. child, adults, doesn't matter if you're vaccinated. doesn't matter. you must wear a mask. why? who knows. not based on science. no the based on medicine. -- not based on medicine. this virus has been unusual. we've seen in certain populations covid-19 can be profoundly deadly. if you're very elderly, if you have serious comorbidities, this virus can and has been deadly. but we've also seen among children that the odds of children getting seriously ill from covid-19 are extremely low. we've seen that children have not proven to be a meaningful investigator -- vector in the
4:50 pm
spread of the sleaze. the science doesn't support special rules for schools. but you know what does? the politics. because the teacher union bosses came to the c.d.c. and said we want this rule in place and the partisan enforcers at the c.d.c. said ma'am, yes ma'am. we will issue the order demanded by the union bosses. mr. president, give me any plausible argument that that is science, that that is medicine, that that is anything but ripe politics. if a democratic politician wants to say we're going to obey the union bosses, fine. that's their prerogative to do so and they can be held accountable by the voters. but the c.d.c. is supposed to be following science. this is an abuse of power. let me point out my view.
4:51 pm
i think we should not have government mandates concerning covid-19. there should be no vaccine mandates. joe biden wants to mandate federal employees must get the vaccine. who the heck is the federal government to tell people they must stick a needle in their arm and inject themselves with a vaccine? we should have no vaccine mandates. we should have no mask mandates. we should have no vaccine passports. and let me be clear. i'm someone who believes in vaccines. i've been vaccinated. heidi's been vaccinated. my parents have been vaccinated. heidi's parents have been vaccinated. and i also believe in individual choice. i believe in freedom. i believe in responsibility. it's your choice if you want to get vaccinated. it's not some drunk on power democrat in washington's choice to force you to do it.
4:52 pm
doesn't anyone in the democratic party believe in medical aton my? does anyone in the democratic party believe in medical privacy? are you so willing to exert power that it doesn't matter what the people say? you know, one of the great ironies of the c.d.c.'s order, it will decrease the rate of vaccination in the united states the c.d.c. is telling america hey, this vaccine stuff doesn't work very well because if you get a vaccine, doesn't matter. you have to put the same mask on. you have do be-- to behave the same way. when the c.d.c. said if you're evacuated to take -- if you're vaccinated, you can take your mask off. i want to live my life. i want to go back to doing things i like to do. let me point out one particularly ridiculous argument. this week one of the
4:53 pm
commentators on one of the news networks said anyone -- i'm paraphrasing here but i'm paraphrasing pretty closely. anyone who isn't vaccinated is arrogant and rude and inconsiderate. i want to point out how imb imbecilic that is. let's go to this thing called science which actually works. here's the science. if you've been value natured. the odds of getting covid is exceptionally low depending on which vaccine you've got. but let's say on the order of 3% to 5%. even if you do get covid-19, the odds of you getting a serious case of covid-19, a case of covid-19 resulting in hospitalization or death are extremely low. this vaccine has been very, very successful. do you understand that basic -- if you understand that basic fact, then the next fact follows from it. if someone is unvaccinated and
4:54 pm
has covid, they are little to no threat to someone who is vaccinated. if you've gotten your vaccine, you ought to be fine. the odds are very low that you're in jeopardy. now, could someone who is unvaccinated give covid to someone else who is unvaccinated? absolutely. that's a very real risk. that's why we're encouraging people to get vaccinated. but you know what? the person who is unvaccinated, it's their damn choice. we don't have to be a nanny state making decisions for everybody else. i've got to tell you, my family, my dad didn't want to get vaccinated. my father like the presiding officer right now is a pastor. my dad is 82. when i got vaccinated, i called him. i said dad, i want you to get
4:55 pm
vaccinated. he said he don't want to. i don't trust it. it's new. i don't want to. i spend a month trying to convince my dad to get vaccinated. my father can be pretty stubborn. i know that's hard to believe. for those of you all who know my dad, you know that is exactly the case. but ultimately i told my dad. i said look, you've been largely stay at home during this pandemic. you want to get out. you want to be preaching in churches again. you want to be traveling. you want to be with people. get the vaccine and you'll have the freedom to go do that. you know what? he did. and he did. he's now back in the pulpit. he's back preaching. he has freedom again. that was his choice. why don't democrats believe in individual choice anymore? why did democrats believe they could abuse power and let me be clear. nancy pelosi is telling someone who is an employee of the house if you're vaccinated and you
4:56 pm
don't wear your mask, she will arrest you and throw you in jail. how dare she? that is an abuse of power. and i'll tell you, the american people are watching this political theater play out in washington, and they understand what's coming next. they understand the same c.d.c. that said even though there's no science to back it up, even though there are no data to back it up, because the teacher union bosses want masks for everyone at schools we'll decree it. they understand the risk of what's coming next is that authoritarian status democrats will order more shutdowns, will order businesses shutdown. will order schools shut down, will order churches shut down. as we look at the past year and a half, few things are clearer than the shutdowns were a catastrophic mistake. the politicians that ordered the
4:57 pm
shutdowns committed a catastrophic mistake. they destroyed millions of small businesses, restaurants, bars, stores gone out of business. you look at great cities like new york city that became practically a wasteland. you look at something like broadway. you think of all the actors and actresses, all of the writers and musicians, all of the sound and lighting engineers, all the carpenters. everyone who worked in broadway with a dick to tore yal -- dictatorial flick of a pen, their jobs were destroyed. the american people are watching democrats and recognize they're ready to do that again. for people that go to church, we've seen democratic office holders discriminate against churches and say worshipping god in church is a public health --
4:58 pm
we've all seen the hypocrisy of the so-called experts say if you go outside and march and chant black lives matter, zero risk of covid transmission. perfectly safe. if you go to church and sing hallelujah, oh, my god, everyone is going to die. people understand the hypocrisy of that. this virus isn't political. i recognize perhaps you could tongue in cheek make an argument since this originated in wuhan china, maybe it's a communist. but the last i checked viruses don't have political views. you know who does have political views? politicians who are interested in their own power and want to convey a narrative regardless of the facts. what speaker pelosi is doing is wrong. what the c.d.c. is doing,
4:59 pm
corrupting science with politics is wrong. and it's time for the united states senate and the united states house to stand on the side of the american people, to stand on the side of freedom and to say it's your choice to go to work, to go to school, to go to church, to live your life free of lord actons abuse of absolute power. i yield the floor.
5:00 pm
mr. lee: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah's recognized. mr. lee: mr. president, as we've undertaken this conversation, i can't help but reflect on the fact that we're in a representative body and we're here in order to have an exchange of ideas, we're here to engage in political speech. not the kind of political speech that people think of when they think of politics, when they think of something necessarily unpleasant. when people hear of political or
5:01 pm
politics, they think of the two greek roots of politics, they think poly, which is money and tic, which means blood-sucking parasites. i refer to being here doing the people's business. the exchange of ideas is essential to everything we do. and it occurs to me that the mask discussion does carry a deeper meaning here, a deeper meaning that takes into account that when we communicate, sometimes with words, sometimes without words, sometimes in print, sometimes with the spoken word, sometimes without any words at all, we're engaging in activity that is protected by the first amendment. now, this is important in a wide swath of areas. it's important for how we worship or decline to do the same. it's important in how we express
5:02 pm
our viewpoints, in our news, in our entertainment media, every aspect of our lives, it's important. it's regarded as especially important in a body politic that people be able to express their feelings about government and about the role of government. it's also especially important here that people be able to speak and otherwise communicate in a way that's clear and unvarnished, unfiltered. in fact, we go so far even as to protect members of congress from liability in what they would say on the floor of the senate or the house of representatives. we do that because we feel a full, frank, informed discussion is important. we don't want members being threatened with some sort of
5:03 pm
action, civil or criminal, based on things that they would utter here. so freedom of speech is important for all citizens. it's also important to make sure that freedom of speech is protected here. it occurs to me that with the question of masks, the decision of whether to wear a mask is not only deeply personal but it's also in this context quite arguably expressive even before you utter a single word. and regardless of whether you utter a single word. in many respects your decision to wear a mask or not wear a mask is itself a form of expression, and as a form of expression it's protected. in a long line of cases, the supreme court of the united states has identified conduct that is expressive and protected
5:04 pm
by the amendment in that it doesn't necessarily mean words. if you put that with other -- align that with jurisprudence, it is especially problematic when the government tries to compel speech, when the government tries to direct an individual that he or she must utter certain words in order to be compliant with the dictates of the government. that implicates of the compelled speech doctrine and the compelled doctrine is an especially rigid one and it is especially rigid with good reason. you don't want to force people to say stuff. that's the government's role. that's the first amendment, the government needs to stay out of our head space, it needs to stay out of where we worship it, it needs to stay out of our relationship with god, it needs to stay out of printing presses and what we need to say.
5:05 pm
sometimes what we say can consist of things that don't even involve words, something as simple to wear a mask. so in addition to all the other public policy reasons, in addition with the c.d.c., with the sweeping mandates and edicts without bothering to back it up with scientific justification, even after months and months of receiving inquiries from the united states that they do so, separate and apart from all of those issues, i think it's important for us to look at the speech element, the expressive conduct inherent in whether or not you wear a mask an whether or not by compelling people to wear a mask, you're compelling people to engage in state-sponsored speech. you're telling them they are sending a message which they must agree. if i'm wrong and this is a
5:06 pm
medical issue it will be backed up by scientific medical evidence. that is it the nature of the problem that i have with the c.d.c.'s mandate, it's ever fluctuating mandate, it is a mandate that flip-flopped yet again. if it were medical and scientific, it would be backed up as such, but it's not. this is a form of compelled speech, not as we traditionally understand it because compelled speech usually involves the utterance of specific words, but we know that speech can be protected even if it doesn't involve words if it's a type of expressive conduct, which wearing a mask is, especially if as here we don't have scientific evidence making it a medical issue. so i would ask the speaker of the house, are you really going to arrest people for not saying what you want them to say? that's not okay. if it would never be okay for
5:07 pm
you to arrest people for not saying words that you have prescribed for them, why is it okay for you to compel them to engage in expressive conduct not amounting to speech? it's not. make no mistake, mr. president. this isn't medical. this isn't scientific. if it were, we would have evidence of such. we don't. in light of that, separate and apart from all the other problems, problems that -- that in the form of government, problems that we do have three distinct branches of our federal government, that most laws are not federal laws to begin with, most laws originate in the states and in the localities, most laws are not federal laws and they shouldn't be. but for those things that are federal laws, we have only one branch of government that makes
5:08 pm
federal laws. it is not a surprise that the very first al of the constitution provides and i quote all legislative powers granted shall be invested in the congress of the united states which shall consist of a senate and a house of representatives. article 1, section 7, outlines the formulate contemplated in article 1, section 7, and it says you can't make a law under our form of government, at least not a federal law without passage in the house of representatives and passage in the senate and presentment to the president of the united states. in many respects these recommendations issued by the c.d.c. end up carrying the force of generally applicable federal law. that's wrong and in many, many respects that's on us. look, we've done a horrible job over the few years, i would say officer the -- over the last few decades, i would say over the last 80, 85 years. i won't lay the blame at the
5:09 pm
feet entirely of either party. it is at the control of different parties. it's happened with senates and houses of representatives and white houses of every conceivable partisan combination. we've seen the de facto outsourcing of our lawmaking authority, men and women who while well educated, well intentioned, hardworking and highly specialized don't work for the people. they don't work for you. you do not have the ability to elect them or unelect them. you don't have the authority to replace them. that's why it is so dangerous for us to give them the sweeping authority. and even where they don't have authority that extends very far, and in this case it's far too far as evidenced by the fact that any time you get on an airplane or other mode of transportation, you're told under penalty of federal law, you must wear a mask, but i would ask, where is the act of
5:10 pm
congress providing that? in what year did the congress of the united states pass through the house and through the senate and submit to the president of the united states for significant or veto a law stating that you must wear a mask on a plane or a train or a bus or in a bus depot or in a train station or an airport under penalty of law. there is no such law. you will not find it. you will find some stuff where we are delegated too much authority and given broad authority to the executive branch, to people like the c.d.c. to issue regulations, but as a matter of proper form, whenever they exercise that power it's not appropriate for that to take effect by itself. it's not really a law in the constitutional sense of the word unless congress has enacted it.
5:11 pm
so we've given them far too much power anyway and that is on us. we should youn't do -- we shouldn't do that and why i have been calling to reforms, including but not limited to the reins act which would require any federal regulation before it takes effect must be passed by both houses of congress and presented to the president for significant or veto and the global accountability act which would do for trade policy what the reins act does for regular policy. why we need to reform so many aspects of our laws where we, as a practical matter, made the unelected and unaccountable the supreme law givers, lawmakers and interpreters. this is not something that leads to tyranny, it is the definition of tyranny as every signer of the united states constitution understood well. it's why they went to great lengths to separate out these
5:12 pm
three branches of government. but in addition to those problems with these edicts, not based on science or medicine, based on political considerations that are ever changing, it's why they are so sweeping, it's why they are so troubling, but they are made even more troubling still for the additional constitutional reason that at the end of the day to whatever degree, these are not rooted in medical science or fact, or i believe they are not because the c.d.c. hasn't established as much and they really do amount to something compelling expressive conduct. the expression of an official orthodoxy mandated by the government. we shouldn't accept this. we shouldn't accept any affirmative legal obligation placed on those we represent to whom and for who's benefit we to
5:13 pm
uphold and defend the kiewfn the united states -- constitution of the united states, we have an obligation to them to make sure they are not subject to laws made by those not of their own choosing. it's these very features that james madison had in mind when he authored federalist number 62, when he wrote and i'm paraphrasing a little bit here, it will be of little benefit to the american people that their laws may be written of those men chosing, that they are so complex that they can't reasonably understand what the law means and predict what it may say from one day to the next. today, this week even, we've seen the law be so unpredictable and ever changing. we can't expect what the law will say from one day to the other, but even worse, contrary to what madison would say would be the case because the
5:14 pm
constitution required it, the laws aren't even being written by men and women of our own choosing, but by unelected, -- despite how specialized they may be, don't work for you. nor do they have authority under this document to which we have all sworn an oath to make laws, that's our power and shame on us if you we liang wish to them the power that only we can recognize that is itself nondelgible. shame on us further if we allow those same people who lack the authority to legislate in the first instance, then transgress another affirmative constitutional command by compelling compliance with official government mandated orthodoxy, this cannot be, this cannot stand. i will not stand for it and i will continue to draw attention to this issue until we resolved
5:15 pm
it properly. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
5:16 pm
5:17 pm
5:18 pm
5:19 pm
5:20 pm
5:21 pm
5:22 pm
5:23 pm
5:24 pm
5:25 pm
5:26 pm
5:27 pm
5:28 pm
5:29 pm
5:30 pm
5:31 pm
5:32 pm
5:33 pm
5:34 pm
5:35 pm
5:36 pm
5:37 pm
5:38 pm
5:39 pm
5:40 pm
5:41 pm
5:42 pm
5:43 pm
5:44 pm
5:45 pm
5:46 pm
5:47 pm
5:48 pm
5:49 pm
5:50 pm
5:51 pm
5:52 pm
5:53 pm
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico is recognized. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations. calendar number 273, 274, 275,
5:54 pm
276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, and all nominees on the secretary's desk in the air force, army, foreign service, marine corps, navy, and space force. that the nominations be confirmed en bloc, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, and 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 presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent that the senate consider the following nominations en bloc -- calendar number 163, 164, that the senate vote on the nominations en bloc without intervening action or debate, the motions to reconsider be
5:55 pm
considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, that any statements related to the nominations be printed in the record, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there an objection? without objection, the clerk will report the nominations en bloc. the clerk: department of energy, frank a. rose of massachusetts to be principal deputy administrator, national nuclear security administration. d.o.d., deborah g. rosenblum of the district of columbia to be an assistant secretary. the presiding officer: the question occurs on the nomination en bloc. all in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes have it. the nominations are confirmed. mr. heinrich: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to legislative session and be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for
5:56 pm
up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent that macie mcintosh, a detailee with the environment and public works committee and laura gentile and emily tucker who are fellows with the environment and public works committee be given floor privileges for the duration of consideration of h.r. 3864, the invest in america act. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 55, s. 231. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 55, s. 231, a bill to direct the administrator of the federal emergency management agency to develop guidance for firefighters and other emergency response personnel, and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there an objection to proceeding to the measure?
5:57 pm
without objection. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent that the committee-reported substitute amendment be withdrawn, the peters substitute amendment which is at the desk be considered and agreed to, the bill as amended be considered read a third time and passed, and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 80, s. 583. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 80, s. 583, a bill to promote innovative acquisition techniques and procurement strategies, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there an objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. heinrich: i further ask that the committee-reported amendments be considered and agreed to, the bill as amended be considered read a third time and passed, and the motion to reconsider be considered made
5:58 pm
and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 328, submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 328, designating august 1, 2021, as gold star children's day. the presiding officer: is there an objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. res. 329, introduced earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 329, amending the eligibility criteria for the senate employee child care
5:59 pm
center. the presiding officer: is there an objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. heinrich: i further ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 330, submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 330, relating to the death of the honorable mike enzi, former senator for the state of wyoming. the presiding officer: is there an objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res.
6:00 pm
331, submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 331, designating august 11, 2021, as hip-hop celebration day, designating august, 2021, as hip-hop recognition month, and designating november, 2021, as hip-hop history month. the presiding officer: is there an objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: mr. president, i have five requests for committees to meet during today 's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. heinrich: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 10:30 a.m., friday, july 30, that following the prayer and
6:01 pm
pledge, the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed, that upon the conclusion of morning business, the senate resume consideration of the motion to proceed to h.r. 3684, that all postcloture time on the motion to proceed expire at 10:30 a.m. finally, that if the jaddou nomination is confirmed -- i apologize. 11:30 a.m. finally, that the jaddou nomination is confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. so ordered. mr. heinrich: if there is no further business to come before
6:02 pm
the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the provisions of s. res. 330 as further mark of respect for the late mike enzi, the former senator for the state of wyoming. the presiding officer: under the previous order and pursuant to senate resolution 330, the senate stands adjourned until 10:30 a.m. on friday, july 30, 2021, and does so as a further mark of respect to the late senator mike enzi, former senator from wyoming. senator from wyoming.
6:03 pm
6:04 pm
>> the capitol author came and said it was necessary to evacuate and that we should take -- their hoods under the seat at each seat in the chamber, take them out and be prepared to put them on. so everybody did and i think when you pull the little red tag it back to base it so people who weren't wearing them there had in tear gas released in the chamber, in the rotunda which is whye


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on