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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  October 5, 2021 2:15pm-6:43pm EDT

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meetings making comments and reports to reporters. we typically hear from senate democrat leaders after their party meetings but the senate is about to gavel and now and they will continue their session. temperatures voting on the nominee deputy administrator of the u.s. agency for international development, sanders considering federal district court judicial nominee in washington state. senate session is about to get underway at 2:15 p.m. eastern, live coverage here on c-span2. the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: the yeas are # 9. the nays are 20 of the from nation is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's actions. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of executive calendar number 253, lauren j. king of washington to be united states
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district judge for the western district of washington signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of lauren j. king of washington to be united states district of washington -- the clerk will call the roll.
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the presiding officer: the yeas are 55, the nays are 44. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: the judiciary, lauren j. king of washington to be united states district judge for the western district of washington. mr. leahy: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, it's really with hope and pride and optimism that i rise today to honor the legacy of an icon in the civil rights movement, a hero of democracy, and a dear
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personal friend of mine, john lewis. more than anything, john lewis was a man of action. when he saw suffering, he tried to end it. when he saw injustice, he tried to correct it. when good trouble was needed, he showed up for it. the most fitting way to honor the legacy of john lewis is to take action ourselves, the action that he would have. so it's with pride that today i introduce the john lewis voting rights advancement act of 2021. it's a vital piece of legislation to restore the landmark voting rights act. now, this legislation is a culmination of many months of tireless work across the halls of congress. back and forth between the house and the senate.
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but that's exactly what congressman lewis would have wanted to see. that work began by building the record and telling the story of the current conditions for voters across the country. what does that record show? a shocking picture. empowered by the supreme court's damaging 2013 decision in shelby county versus holder, states across the country have been advancing and enacting sweeping voter suppression efforts to make it more, not less, difficult for american citizens to participate in their own democracy. can you imagine that, making it harder for americans to participate in their own democracy? and today, tens of thousands of americans are being
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disenfranchised under the guise of state law. there is no coincidence that certain communities consistently bear the brunt of these suppression schemes across the country. throughout our history, we have worked to make our democracy ever more inclusive, not exclusive. with each generation, we sought to empower millions more to be equal participants in the american system of self-government. make no mistake, this tidal wave of voter suppression efforts seeks to bend the arc of equal justice and equal rights backward. we should not allow that to stand. action in congress is desperately needed. the house answered the call from congressman lewis and others to
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protect our precious, almost sacred right to vote. they passed a bold version of the john lewis voting rights advancement act earlier this year. today in the senate we will be introducing a version of that bill that should get the votes needed to restore the voting rights act. this legislation addresses the court's 2013 and 2021 decision. in should be passed by the house and should be surely signed into law. there is no reason for delay. this legislation addresses the supreme court shelby county decision by restoring the justice department's
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preclearance powers. it would prevent states from enacting discriminatory voting changes. the legislation limits the harms caused by the supreme court's brnovich decision earlier this year by depriving a private right of action and clear factors with which voters can bring lawsuits against attempts to disenfranchise them. fundamentally, this legislation seeks to assure the justice department possesses the tools it needs to protect the right to vote for all americans, regardless of party or race or creed or background. now, you wouldn't know it by listening to the partisan rancor of today's politics, but this goal, protecting our right to vote, has never been a partisan issue. john lewis once said we all don't think this is a democrat or republican issue. it's an american one. truer words haven't been spoken. we should remember that reauthorizing the voting rights
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act on a bipartisan basis, that's the way we have always done it. the core provisions of the voting rights act have been reauthorized five times. every time -- remember that, five times. every time this has been done, it was with overwhelming bipartisan support in congress. it was signed by president nixon. it was signed by president reagan. it was signed by president george w. bush. they all signed the voting rights act reauthorization into law. they knew the profound importance of the landmark law for our democracy. in fact, the most recent voting rights act reauthorization was in 2006. do you know what the vote was in the united states senate? 98-0. many senators still serving today both republican and democratic voted to support that legislation. the toxic partisanship of
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american politics today has obscured what has for decades united us across party lines. this is the belief that protecting our right to vote, the very right that gives democracy its name, is bigger than party or politics. it's the belief that a system of self-government, a government of, by, and for the people is one that is worth preserving for generations to come. it is the belief that government exists to serve the will of the people, not the other way around, and that, madam president, is what i believe. so today i hold the memory of john lewis, this advocacy of his passion, of his zealous belief that we can appeal to our better angels, to urge all senators regardless of party to join me in restoring and reauthorizing the voting rights act.
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the john lewis voting rights act advancement act gives us that opportunity. congressman lewis, i know, would have wanted us to come together to find a path forward to addressing the many threats facing americans' foundational right to vote. i will tell you what he would not have accepted. he would not have accepted inaction. so let's try to live up to the memory, the example of john lewis. a heroic man of action. one of my dearest friends in my years in the congress. and i know he's watching over us. let's make him proud. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: senate majority leader. mr. schumer: thank you, madam president. first let me thank my friend,
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our chairman of the judiciary, senator leahy, not only for introducing this legislation, but for his dedication to voting rights over the many decades that he has served in this body. few have done more to push voting rights to make sure people have the right to vote without some of the barriers that have always been placed in the way by people who want to discriminate against people, particularly people of color, when it comes to voting. so i thank him. madam president, the story of american democracy is a messy tale of starts and stops. for over 240 years, our march to establish the united states as a full democracy has always seemed to involve two steps forward, one step back. today i am proud to join my colleagues, senator leahy and durbin, as they lead this chamber in another bold step forward by introducing the john lewis voting rights advancement act, a long overdue update to
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the voting rights act of 1965. no piece of legislation has done more to protect the franchise than the voting rights act of the 1960's. its critical preclearance provision compelled jurisdictions with recent histories of discrimination to secure federal approval before amending their election laws. for decades the senate reauthorized the vra's preclearance with bipartisan votes. they understood this powerful federal tool made our democracy stronger. sadly, in 2013 a conservative majority on the supreme court gutted the v.r.a.'s pree clearance and cleared the way for some of the most -- suppression laws. for those supreme court justices who said this is not necessary, i think they should look at what happened since preclearance was eliminated. it's just awful. and it was one of the lowest moments of the supreme court in
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recent memory, the shelby decision. and now because of that shelby decision, in 2021, 19 states, just in this year, 2021 have enacted 33 laws that will limit americans' access to the ballot, according to the brennan center for justice at new york university of the what we're seeing across the states today is nothing short of jim crow in the 21st century. aided and abetted and allowed by the shelby decision. which so tied the hands of the justice department when discriminatory legislation was being enacted at the state level. the senate must fight back. we must restore the preclearance provisions of the voting rights act and retailor it to meet the 21st seen -- the challenges of the 21st century. that's what the john lewis voting rights act advancement will do as an important complement to the freedom to vote act, it will reestablish the v.r.a.'s pree clearance
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coverage formula based on an updated and robust catalogue of modern day voting suppression laws while adopting new provisions to address the next generation of suppressive voting. this new bill also responds to the court's troubling ruling in the bern vich from earlier this year which further, even further weakened the v.r.a.'s protections against state practices that hinder minorities seeking to vote. we have to be brutally honest. this country has to look at -- itself in the mirror. racial barriers to ballot -- to the ballot are regrettably part of our past, our present, and now with some of these decisions part of our future. when the nation was founded, you had to be a white male protestant property owner in many of the states to vote. today we've come a long way in our struggle to live up to our country's founding promise and this bill takes the next step by restoring the proper role of the federal government, to protect
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americans' constitutional right to participate in our democracy. as senator warnock has so eloquently stated, we must put out the fires that's presently engulfing our democracy and that is what the freedom to vote act will do. we must build a state of the art fire department to prevent future fires. that is what the reforms of the john lewis voting rights advancement act will do. this is a good bill. this is an urgent bill. and as majority leader, it's my intention to hold a vote on this legislation in the near future. i am proud to designate this s. 4 to mark its critical restoration of the section 4 preclearance formula. we hope that all of our colleagues will join us in good faith in advancing solutions to ensure all americans have their voice heard in their democracy. if some of our colleagues on the other side have a different -- different ideas of how to protect free and fair elections we urge them to put forward. but we will not be detured just
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because -- deterred justice because -- just because some of our colleagues continue to stand silent with their arms crossed, continue to play politics with the health of our public. on this issue the senate must act and we will act. i want to thank again my colleague, senator leahy and senator durbin for their diligence and leadership on this important piece of legislation and for all they do to make sure this chamber always works to strengthen our precious democracy. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: madam president, i want to thank the majority leader for his especial couraging, kind -- encouraging, kind words and thank my friend senator pat leahy of vermont for inviting other colleagues to come to the floor to speak in support of the right to vote. time and again in history we've asked men and women to stand and risk their lives, in fact give their lives for the most fundamental premise of our democracy, the right to vote.
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they have fought, they have bled, they have died for that right. and now it is under attack again. not from any foreign source. over the past few years our nation has witnessed the most heavily coordinated assault on the right to vote in modern memory. since the start of 2021, republican legislators throughout the country have introduced over 425 pieces of legislation with provisions to make it more difficult for americans to vote. 33 of these laws were actually enacted in 19 states. some of these laws have set new limits on voting by mail. others cut hours if polling locations. each of these proposals is designed to achieve the same outcome, create barriers for americans when it came to the ballot box. one of the strongest champions of democracy in american history was my old friend and colleague john lewis of georgia. days before his passing, john wrote, quo, democracy is not a
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state -- quote, democracy is not a state. it is an act. each generation must do its part to build what we call the beloved community, a nation, world and society at peace with itself. it is now this generation's turn to act, john. because nothing less than the survival of america's democracy is at stake. at a moment when lawmakers across the country are rallying around the big lie to strip away our constitutional rights, we in the senate must have the courage to step up and protect those rights. if the former president of the united states supporters are going to define our democracy, we have to fight to defend it. we can begin by reinvigorating one of the most important pieces of legislation in modern american history, the voting rights act of 1965. now i'm sure there are folks watching this at home saying wait a minute. how can a piece of legislation signed into law more than 50 years ago be the solution to
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today's challenged to -- challenge to democracy? that's because over the past several years there has been a sustained effort to chip away the protections guaranteed to every american under that voting rights act. for instance, in 2013 the supreme court issued the decision in shelby county v. holder, essentially nullifying a key provision of the voting rights act, section 5. prior to the court's ruling in shelby, section 5 required that localities with a track record of disenfranchising voters of color through tactics as brutal as poll taxes and literacy tests would have to seek federal approval for changes they make this their voting rules. this requirement is known as preclearance and it could have prevented many of the restrictive voting provisions being enacted in states like georgia and texas today. just this past summer the supreme court weakened another section of the voting rights act with its decision in brnovich v.
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the democratic national committee. with these wrongful rulings, the supreme court has fueled state-led efforts to suppress voters, particularly voters of color. in fact, justice elena kagan wrote in her dis sense to brnovich and i quote, in the last decade this supreme court has treated no statute worse than the voting rights act of 1965. it's time for congress to uphold our constitutional obligation and restore the voting rights act to its full potential. that's why we've joined together today to introduce a bill that would not only restore the protections of the voting rights act but strengthen it. tomorrow we'll hold a hearing on this critical legislation in the senate judiciary committee. it's called the john r. lewis voting rights act -- pardon me -- voting rights advancement act and by all means passing this law should be a bipartisan endeavor. historically it always was. it wasn't until very recently that the republicans, the party
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of abraham lincoln, decided that they would no longer join in other effort to reauthorize the voting rights act. it wasn't that long ago that it was bipartisan passed easily. the last time congress voted to do so in fact the republican minority leader, senator mcconnell, came to the floor and said, quote, this is a piece of legislation which has worked. let's make sure we keep it working for america. in our nation there's no freedom more fundamental than the right to vote. and the john lewis voting rights advancement act will help ensure every american can exercise that right. famously called the precious and almost sacred right. i want to thank senator leahy, senator blumenthal and i want to thank my colleague senator warnock for joining us on the floor. and a number of other colleagues -- of our colleagues for their collaboration and hard work preparing this legislation for introduction. and our house colleagues would passed their version of the bill earlier this summer. and i particularly want to thank the man for whom this bill is named.
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i was honored to count him as a friend, honored even more when he came in on more than one occasion at my invitation to campaign in the state of illinois, honored to join him on a sunday morning walk which i'll never forget over the edmund pettus bridge. john and i talking about that moment in history. it's something i'll treasure for a lifetime. we in his name need to honor him and to honor the principles that he gave his life for, making certain that everyone has an opportunity to help us build the beloved community. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: madam president, i'm so proud and honored to be with my colleague senator leahy and senator durbin, senator warnock, all of us who are championing the senate version
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of the john r. lewis voting rights advancement act. i think any of us would be honored to be spearheading a bill named for one of our heroes. this bill has particular significance to all of us because we live through the time, the summer of 1965, when state troopers mercifullylessly attacked john lewis and #00 others as they crossed the edmund pettus bridge in selma, alabama in peaceful protest to protect their right to vote. in the wake of that attack as the nation came together to grieve, president johnson joined with congress to pursue as he put it, quote, an end to voting discrimination in america. end of quote. roughly a week after the attack,
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president johnson called for comprehensive voting rights legislation. and two days later congress announced that it would take up that legislation. and so by early august just five months after bloody sunday in selma, the voting rights act was passed by congress with broad bipartisan support and became again in the words of president john s.o.p., quote, -- johnson, quote, one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of american freedom. today with the introduction of this legislation, we honor the legacy of john lewis. we honor everyone involved in that great mocht at the time -- movement at the time that advanced civil rights and liberties, the most fundamental being the right to vote. and we honor the fight itself to
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protect the franchise. a century after the civil war ended, our nation had failed to eradicate the blight of racial discrimination in voting. and the promise of equality, political equality as well as economic equality remained unfulfilled for black citizens. the voting rights act did what even the 14th and 15th amendment failed to do proving to be a uniquely prowfful tool -- powerful tool with the capacity to meet ever new forms of discrimination through its preclearance regime. then in 2013 united states supreme court in shelby county, well known to all of us, gutted, absolutely eviscerated the
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highly effective preclearance regime, jeopardizing the progress that the voting rights act made over the course of half a century. as justice ginsburg said in her moving and powerful dissent in shelby, until congress enacted the voting rights preclearance requirement, early attempts to cope with the vile infection of racial discrimination in voting, quote, resembled battling whenever one form of voting discrimination was identified and prohibited, others sprang up in their place. today's reinvigorated efforts to deprive members from the ballot box to more subtle second-generation barriers proves that a new preclearance regime is needed more now than
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ever. this year alone, we have experienced the most destructive legislative session for voting rights in generations, with states and localities enacting a torrent of new voting restrictions, all of it designed to suppress the vote, to curtail the franchise, to move back the clock on voting rights. between january 1 and july 14 of this year, more than 400 voting restriction bills have been introduced in 49 states, and 18 states successfully enacted 30 laws that make it harder for people to vote. these laws make mail-in voting and early voting more difficult.
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they manipulate the boundaries of districts to reduce minority representation, and they've led to a purge of up to 3.1 million voters from the rolls in areas that were once covered by the voting act preclearance requirement. this threat is more than just speculative. far from imaginetory or suggestive. the threat is the real and urgent. in fact, it is more than a threat. it is action now moving forward in states. today's legislation would confront this resurgence of voting restrictions very directly. the new john lewis voting rights advancement act includes new formulas to revive preclearance. by focusing specifically on jurisdictions with a proven history of discrimination and on
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preventing specific known discriminatory practices from taking effect in areas of increasing diversity before they can do damage, this new preclearance coverage formula responds to the supreme court's concerns and will allow the voting rights act to keep pace with present conditions and america's rapidly changing demographics. the bill also reinvigorates the department of justice's ability to challenge discriminatory laws already in effect, reversing the supreme court's latest attack on section 2 of the voting rights act in brnovich v. democratic national committee. that 6-3 partisan decision was a stunning display of judicial overreach, a highly political, highly partisan decision that
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gives new meaning to the phrase judicial activism, a case of judicial overreach. protecting the right to vote very simply should not be a partisan issue. in fact, voting rights are widely supportive throughout american society on the left, right, center, private, and public sectors since the original inception of the voting rights act in 1965, overwhelming bipartisan majorities of both house oz of congress reauthorized the voting rights act five times. let me repeat -- both houses of congress, bipartisan majority, overwhelming votes, five times since the original passage of the voting rights act in 1965. and for nearly a century, after
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the civil war and before the voting rights act, the scourge of racial discrimination in voting challenged our nation's core commitment to these ideals of democracy. from that century of sacrifice and suffering came the voting rights act and its extraordinary commitment to realizing our nation's highest ideals. and for decades it worked, with bipartisan support, overwhelmingly. the judiciary committee, under the leadership of senator durbin and senator leahy, has documented powerfully the need for this act, and my subcommittee on the constitution has held one hearing already. we will have another shortly that will set the record -- in fact, provide the evidentiary
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support -- that the supreme court erroneously found lacking in its shelby decision. as a tsunami of voter suppression bills crashes against the shores of our democracy, my hope is that today we can renew a bipartisan commitment to protecting voting rights in this country. i am proud to help lead this effort in the senate, and i want to thank my colleagues again for being on the floor today. i yield the floor. mr. warnock: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. warnock: thank you, mr. president. as a proud son of the great state of georgia and a voice for our state here in this chamber, i am deeply honored to join my
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colleagues here today to introduce this important legislation in honor of one of georgia's and america's most influential public servants. i'm grateful for the comments of senator blumenthal, and i want to thank senator leahy and all of my colleagues for their leadership in introducing this bill that carries on the legacy of congressman lewis' pivotal work to protect the sacred right to vote. john lewis was my parishoner, and as i stand in support of this legislation named in his honor, i think of the many conversations i had with him over the years. i think of the sunday mornings we boarded a bus taking souls to the polls, because i believe
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that vote,, as as he did, is a sacred undertaking. at root, it is about a people's voice. in that sense, it is about one's humanity. i learned so much from congressman lewis and the lessons from his lived experiences working deep in the trenches to defend and advance voting rights. he laid it all on the line. when president johnson took his pen and signed this legislation making it law in a real sense, what he etched had already been affirmed in blood, the risk that john lewis took, the ultimate sacrifice that others made as they lost their lives fighting for the vote, the voice, the
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humanity of every child of god. and one of the most important tools that came out of that activism, that came out of that human sacrifice, one of the most important tools in this legislation is the process of preclearance. this process required that jurisdictions with a proven history of voting rights violations get approval from the department of justice or our federal courts before making changes to local voting administration. and for decades this was the tool that helped enfranchise countless voters, ensure that they would have access to the ballot, exercise their constitutional right, and it
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kept some of the worst voter suppression efforts at bay. then in 2013 the supreme court in shelby v. holder asked the congress to update the coverage formula that determines which states are subject to preclearance. the supreme court said that this preclearance formula had somehow been updated -- outdated. and congress ought to bring it up to date. that's what they asked us to do in 2013. since then congress has been unwilling to act. preclearance has been allowed to atrophy and we've seen the results not only in georgia, but
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in texas and arizona and pennsylvania, all across our country. earlier this year in georgia, state leaders enacted a voter suppression law that will undoubtedly make it harder for some people to vote. if the tool of preclearance were in place right now, s.b.202 in georgia likely would not even be on the books. i think of justice ruth bader ginsburg in her dissenting opinion. she said, throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you're not getting wet. we threw away our umbrella, and
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we have found ourselves in the midst of a torrential rainstorm. voter suppression laws mushrooming all over the country. we are witnessing right now what happens to our democracy without the protections of preclearance and the other vital provisions of the voting rights act. the lack of robust voting rights protections has ramifications for every american, as we've seen efforts ramp up this year at passing sweeping state-level voter suppression laws, not laws that only black people and people of color to be sure, but also students, seniors, whomever certain politicians are afraid of will somehow get in the way of their craven march to power.
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and so this bill, the john lewis voting rights advancement act, is about congress finally doing its job, finally doing what the supreme court asked us to do in 2013. it should have been done a long time ago. the updated voting rights advancement act we're introducing today restores the voting rights act of 1965. it strengthens our democracy by reestablishing preclearance, and it makes it better by updating it to also protect against specific practices we know suppress the vote, like polling place closures and new types of voter roll purges, happening not only in the south but all over the country. our bill also restores section 2 of the voting rights act to
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protect minority communities from discriminatory voting practices after the supreme court diminished section 2 earlier this year. mr. president, just like the freedom to vote act, me and many of my colleagues introduced just a few weeks ago to set national standards for voting so every eligible voter's voice is heard, the john lewis voting rights act we introduce today is designed to meet future challenges and address additional antidemocratic efforts aimed at suppressing the vote all over our country. since i was elected on january 5, since that terrible day on january 6 when this very capitol was assaulted, we've seen more than 400 proposals in 49 states.
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so the john lewis voting rights advancement act builds for us a fire station to protect against future fires. the house of democracy is is already on fire, and so we need the john lewis voting rights actment act, but we also need the -- advancement act, but we also need the freedom to vote act. we got to put out the fire. we got to build a fire station for future fires. mr. president, i know there's a lot on our plate, but we can't waste any time getting these bills passed. we can walk and chew gum at the same time. john lewis walked across a bridge in order to build a bridge to a new american future. we already had infrastructure. he understood that the infrastructure of our democracy was in trouble, and so he walked
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across a bridge in order to build a bridge. so the house has already passed a version of this act, and i know my friend, senator joe manchin, has been having conversations about the freedom to vote act with our friends across aisle. we're happy to talk to anybody on both sides of the aisle. similar versions of this legislation have been voted up by this chamber with strong bipartisan support. some 16 republican senators who were ear either here or in the house when it passed are here today and i ask them what's the difference. voting rights are not just another issue. voting rights are a preservative of all other rights. voting rights are about the foundation of our democracy. i believe that if the world's greatest deliberative body can't
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find a way forward to get this done, history will judge us harshly and rightly so. it was said that humankind's capacity for justice makes democracy possible. but our inclination to end justice makes democracy necessary. this work, this assignment which we have right now is both possible and necessary. we can do it, and we must do it. it's the most important thing we can do this congress, and i hope we'll do it now. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. -- mr. lujan: it's an honor to speak about the john lewis voting rights protection act for all americans. our democracy is at its strongest when every american can participate and make their voice heard, something that our friend, our colleague, a mentor to many of us, the late john lewis, it's what he fought for his entire life. but in too many communities across america, voter suppression efforts are making it harder for americans to vote, especially native
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americans who continue to experience geographic, linguistic and legal barriers. that's why i'm proud that the john lewis voting rights advancement act includes the native american voting rights act, which i was proud to introduce in august in the senate. i spent years fighting for in the house developing this legislation with voting rights advocates across america. this much-needed legislation would protect the sacred right to vote and reduce barriers to the ballot box for voters living on tribal lands, vital progress to protect the sacred right to vote for all americans. this past year america has seen unprecedented efforts to restrict access to the ballot box, to make it harder to vote, to silence our voices, especially native voices.
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it's unacceptable, and it's all the more reason why the senate must pass robust voting rights legislation that empowers tribes and native american voters, because our democracy is strongest when everyone participates. it's a moral imperative to protect the right to vote, to combat the discrimination that has long kept americans from exercising this right. with millions of americans calling on this body to deliver on voting rights legislation, i strongly support the john lewis voting rights advancement act. it's the right thing to do. it's the time to get this done. thank you, and i yield back. mr. leahy: mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mrs. capito: i would like to ask that the qrl be -- quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mrs. capito: thank you. this summer, the senate passed historic bipartisan legislation that would make meaningful investments in our physical infrastructure. we did the hard work. we did the hard work to produce legislation that made current and future needs by investing in our roads, our bridges, clean water, broadband, transit, systems, transit systems, rail, and our electric grid. chairman carper and i led a surface transportation reauthorization bill and a water infrastructure bill in our e.p.w. committee, both of which were unanimously reported out by our committee and really served as the backbone of this infrastructure package. the commerce committee and the energy and natural resources committees both also contributed bills -- major bipartisan bills to this major effort. a bipartisan group of our colleagues led by senator portman and senator sinema negotiated with the biden administration to complete the package. that effort resulted in the
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infrastructure investment and jobs act which earned the vote of 69 senators nearly two months ago. president biden himself expressed his support for the legislation in a widely covered speech from the white house. by now, that bill should be law and federal funding should be on the way to state departments of transportation, local water boards, and our economic development officials. all speaker pelosi had to do was put the senate legislation on the floor in august and watch its passage with a strong bipartisan vote. however, house democrats broke promises to their own members and refused to ask for a vote on the bill, and that was in september. our bipartisan work in the center advanced the infrastructure football to the one-yard line. we were there.
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somehow house democrats were still unable to reach the goal line. last friday, our federal surface transportation programs lapsed, lapsed for the first time in over a decade. after months of talking about rebuilding american infrastructure, house democrats shut down the federal highway administration, pressing pause on some of the most important infrastructure programs in this country. it was a short lapse but it was a lapse, a lapse in these programs would be unacceptable in any circumstance, but house democrats decided to let the programs expire. rather than vote on bipartisan legislation that sat on their desks for more than seven weeks during their august recess. in delaying this vote, those leaders didn't just break their commitment to the american people, but again they broke the commitment to their own members when they said they were originally promised the
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infrastructure bill would receive a vote by september 27. instead, the house and senate had to reauthorize quickly our existing surface transportation programs, but guess what? for a month. october 31. what does that do? not much. it does continue, but it creates confusion and that stop and start is difficult. i appreciate all my colleagues' work to reopen these programs, but it's not enough. over on the house side, they are holding core infrastructure legislation hostage in an effort to force members of their own party to come on board with separate legislation that would in my opinion waste $3.5 trillion on social programs unrelated to infrastructure. the $3.5 trillion package is what my colleague and our colleague, senator manchin, correctly described as fiscal insanity. house democrats are telling the american people that if they
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want roads and bridges, they have to accept trillion dollars in unrelated spending and unrelated tax policies. if this reckless tax and spending spree were popular with the american people, they wouldn't have to bind it to the infrastructure legislation and block that legislation in an effort to convince their members of their own party to support it. but they understand there is a real concern back home to spending $3.5 trillion. i heard this over and over. i was just home over the weekend. over and over from constituents when i am in west virginia. we all know inflation is real and it's impacting day-to-day families, families who are trying to figure out how to pay for the cost of gasoline, that gallon of milk, those new school clothes, books, pencils, the cost of heating and cooling their homes. it's hurting our american families. and yet even with these red
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flags, the biden administration and my democrat colleagues want to spend an additional $3.5 trillion, with a t, dollars. and if that's not enough, they want to impose the largest tax hike in decades. these efforts will hit american families with higher prices and greater tax burdens at a time when they can least afford it. i'm not sure there is a time when we could ever afford it, so this makes zero sense. now, i know president biden has promised not to raise taxes on families making less than $400,000 a year. he has repeated this many, many times in his public speeches. but what he's not telling you is that the cost of everyday living is going up significantly because of these and will go up more because of these progressive policies, which are a hidden tax on the american people. your utility bills, your grocery bills, all the -- the cost of
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everyday goods and services are going to go up. and have you heard this just really outrageous idea that they want your bank or credit union to tell the i.r.s. every deposit or withdrawal of $600 or more. and if you have $600 in your bank account, they want your bank or credit union to report that to the i.r.s. does that sound like it's designed to target billionaires or middle-class americans? the taxes and fees and penalties this partisan, reckless tax and spending package includes ultimately still falls to you, regardless of how much you make. as ranking member of the e.p.w. committee, i'm especially concerned about several environmental provisions in the $3.5 trillion spending plan.
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let's be clear, all of us, republicans and democrats, we do want a cleaner energy future, and we're moving towards that. the proof is that our work together on technologies of like carbon capture and utilization. but this rushed reconciliation package doesn't allow time for any sort of transition. wind and solar energy still have serious gaps. they're growing, yes, but they still have serious gaps in reliability and stability. when the wind stops blowing and the sun isn't shining, our country still relies heavily on coal, natural gas, and nuclear. but instead of recognizing this reality and investing in technologies to accelerate carbon capture, which would lead to less emissions, this package punishes companies that are already cutting their emissions. it's reckless spending. it's punitive taxation and ultimately the american family
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will pay the price. take, for example, the proposed methane tax. well, methane fee, it's called, but it's actually a natural gas tax. this regressive tax on natural gas would increase energy costs on american families and small businesses, disproportionately affecting middle and low-income households at a time when natural gas prices are going up due to inflation and increased demand and reduced supply here and abroad due to some factors and right now the pandemic. according to the e.p.a., natural gas systems in the u.s. reduce their overall methane emissions by nearly 16% between 1990 and 2019 without these onerous regulations and taxes. it is widely recognized that the shale gas boom led to significant greenhouse gas
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emission reductions across our power sector. in fact, as our natural gas production has risen and has gone up, the country's overall greenhouse gas emissions have gone down. significantly. according to a.p.i., the mete thin fee or tax would cost approximately $9.1 billion and as many as 90,000 jobs. in a lot of the regions of the country, one of which is my own in west virginia. don't be fooled. like any other part of this package, the methane fee is rushed government overreach when the market is already reducing emissions. more than 150 groups have written to congress to oppose this natural gas tax. this is not about reducing emissions or even raising revenues for washington. it's about targeting an industry, oil and gas, and the related good-paying jobs like those in west virginia for elimination, for wholly
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political purposes. the idea that our country will be able to transition to a cleaner future and keep up with our energy demands without in gas is just not based in reality. so speaking of based in reality, let's talk about the proposed clean electricity performance program. this is a program, the $3.5 trillion bill, to eliminate coal and natural gas from our electricity mix by requiring an 80% reduction in carbon emissions from utilities by 2013. this goal is very unrealistic as fossil fuels now provide 60% of our nation's electricity today 2021. the united mine workers of america wrote that this plan would, quote, eliminate virtually all of west virginia's coal generation fleet of ways load -- base load power plants well before the end of this decade, all related coal mining and utility jobs will be lost with severe adverse impacts on
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families, communities, and the local and state revenues associated with mining, electric generation, and electric power generation. this program is an explicit attempt to put energy producers out of work. it would use taxpayer dollars to get rid of coal and natural gas jobs in states like mine using a convoluted system to try to mask the hit to our electricity taxpayers. and for all the promises we've heard of lined up green energy jobs for these workers to replace these jobs, i'm certainly not seeing many of those in my state. certainly not the tens of thousands of jobs that would be needed to make up for the lost jobs. and i'm definitely not seeing any of those green job pay -- the pay on those green jobs even close to what a miner would make or somebody in the natural gas business. but the clean electricity performance program will impact more than just my home state of
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course. if california is any indication, the clean electricity payment plan will lead to less reliability, rolling blackouts all across the country and higher energy prices. we don't need to wait and see how a plan like this will impact a powerhouse country like ours. germany is already trying this, according to "forbes" magazine. our german friends are spending as much as $4 trillion to install as much wind and solar capacity as possible. laudable goal. and to drastically curtail and hopefully eliminate the need for coal, natural gas, and nuclear. this has left germany with the highest electricity prices in the word. harming their households and their world famous manufacturing sector. when they have found themselves short of supply, they have to up port coal-fired electricity from poland. we here on this country would
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have no kind of international fallback. while we try to mimic a path similar to germany and shut down american coal mines, meanwhile china is building new coal plants that will wash out any of our supposed carbon reductions. american energy prices will skyrocket, and the clean energy payment plan will make a negligible impact on global emissions. the greenhouse gas reduction fund is another absurd provision in this reconciliation package. this is basically a 27.5 billion -- $27.5 billion slush fund for democrat states to use whatever they would use for their so-called green projects. this will increase our reliance on critical minerals and energy supplies that we get from china and other international competitors so trying to put forward energy-free technologies and particularly looking at the
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production of lithium batteries and solar energy that is primarily produced in china. another egregious provision tucked away in this reconciliation package is a $50 million expenditure to e.p.a. to write new clean air regs. that's right, $50 million. they would get $50 million to write a new version of president obama's clean power plan and other devastating climate regulations. with the money e.p.a. will hire extra lawyers and bureaucrats to write additional regulations under section 111 and other provisions of the clean air act in ways they've never done before, all in my view which would put my hardworking west virginians out of a job. these are just a few of the environmental provisions in this reckless tax and spending spree. but the package is much broader than that. it is a wish list rolled into a $3.5 trillion billion that
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inserts the government into nearly every aspect of american life. the american people understand that passing this bill will harm our country by fueling inflation, and it will harm our country for generations to come as we add to our debt. it's no wonder that the democrats are having so much trouble passing this. by shuttering our federal service transportation programs last friday, house democrats made it abundantly clear that despite their rhetoric, physical infrastructure is not a pri priority. instead they've said that roads, bridges, broadband, water infrastructure, all infrastructure items that americans in both parties support are only worth funding if they are accompanied by another $3.5 trillion in spending. i hope that our house colleagues will change their approach. the bipartisan infrastructure bill represents good policy, and it should be allowed to pass on its own merit.
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it will benefit every state in this country. it will provide the certainty of five years of funding for our surface transportation programs and avoid future lapses like we saw last friday. these programs cannot bounce from one short-term extension to the next. we've done that before. it's very, very difficult to conduct business. and they should not play second fiddle to a package of partisan policies. we came together in this body to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill that the american people can be proud of, and that bill should blood pressure law -- and that bill should become law soon. i yield the floor. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. a senator: mr. president, last week i came to the floor in support of senator scott's bill pushing back on many of us
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considered the unconstitutional covid vaccine mandates. mr. johnson: i use my floor time talking about the information that our health care agencies, the media, and the news media are not providing the american public. i come to the floor today to expand a little bit on that information. last week i presented this chart which shows the daily number of new cases. those are the blue lines. you actually have daily deaths. the tragic deaths, very thin red line. but you also have this line showing the percent of fully vaccinated americans. now, i pointed this to this chart -- to this chart because this is not what i would expect to see if we had 100% effective
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vaccines. let me again state i was a big supporter of operation warp speed. i'm not an anti-vaxxer. i've had every vaccine up to this one because i had covid. so i had hoped and prayed that the covid vaccine would be 100% safe and 100% effective. but this chart is not what i would expect to have seen with a vaccine that was highly effective, what we all were hoping would happen once we had a high person of americans vaccinated together with those who had covid like myself with natural immunity. you can see prior to the vaccine even being able to take effect, the first major surge of the pandemic was winding down. i would have expected to see it continuing to wind down. but that's not what we saw. we've seen this surge in delta. and we've seen additional deaths
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and the tragedy continues. now, back on september 9, president biden said this pandemic, the unvaccinated. he also said this is not about freedom or personal choice. for, mr. president, this is exactly about freedom and personal choice. president biden also said in july of this year, july 21, he said if you're vaccinated, you're not going to be hospitalized, you're not going to be in the i.c.u. unit. you're not going to die. you're not going to get covid if you had these vaccinations. today i received an e-mail from a constituent in wisconsin. i'm going to read an excerpt. i'm not going to identify the individual because he fears reprisals. he has seen what happens to people who tell the truth about covid and covid vaccines.
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so i'll keep his name anonymous. but let me quote from his e-mail. both my parents were fully vaccinated with the pfizer vaccine in the spring. yet in august my mom became infected and then gave it to my dad. they became so sick that my sister, fully vaccinated with the moderna, moved in with them to care for them. she used pmplets pmpleghts e.'s -- p.p.e.'s and was careful but she caught covid too. hence, my family, three of us caught covid while fully evacuated. they spread it weil they were fully vaccinated. from vaccinated to vaccinated. my mom and sister recovered. dad died a week at home after three weeks' stay in a local hospital. now that's a tragedy. i wish what president biden said
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would have been true but it's not. that talks to the vaccine's efficacy. let's talk about vaccine safety. i have heard so often from who i refer to as the covid gods, the health care agencies, the media, the news media, that vaccine adverse events are rare and they are mild. well, they're rare and they're mild until they happen to you. here's a chart that compares the number of deaths reported on the vaers system. this is the c.d.c.'s own vaccine adverse event reporting system. and i charted this all the way back to 1990, the beginning of
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the vaers system. and i've got deaths associated with the flu vaccine. they're in blue. you can barely see them. but the largest year, the peak year for the vaers reported deaths associated with the flu vaccine was in 2010. there was 162 reported deaths. now again i understand that the vaers does not prove causation. i've got that. but if you compare our experience since 1990 with the flu vaccine -- by the way, it's generally about a third of the number of doses for an annual flu season versus what we've experienced with the covid vaccine. so you compare that very low level of deaths reported on vaers to what we've now experienced with covid. for just this calendar year, it's 15,737 worldwide for the
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three vaccines that have emergency use authorization in the u.s. in total it's 15,937 deaths reported on the vaers system. now, again i realize that does not prove causation, but i do need to point out that 5,272 of those deaths occurred on day zero, one, or two following vaccination. now, if i were in the c.d.c. or the f.d.a., those agencies that in october of 2020 touted the vaers report. the early warning safety surveillance systems. before the vaccines ever got the emergency use authorization, they were talking about how they were going to rely on these to provide the safety signals. i remember one member of the c.d.c. saying we're going to take adverse events so seriously that if somebody loses a couple of days' work, lost work time
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because of an adverse event, we're going to get a c.d.c. representative on the phone with that individual and we're going to look into it. that's simply -- that simply has not happen. now, one thing that the f.d.a. has done is they've ridiculed some of the early treatment drugs. i don't have it on the chart here, but i want to put things in perspective. again, 15,937 deaths in about ten months from the covid vaccine. ivermectin, since 1996, over 25 years has 379 total deaths. 15,737 from the covid vaccine. hydroxy chloroquine about 690 deaths.
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remdesivir, the drug of choice for hospitalized covid patients, 1,499 deaths. again, that's information our federal agencies aren't providing the american public. but i think it's information people need to know. now, why am i giving you this information? first of all, on the social media, this is suppressed. this is being censored. people like me that would even broach the subject of vaers have been attacked. so i think it is important to come to the senate floor so the american people understand what is happening, but the main point i'm trying to make is, those individuals who believe in their own health autonomy, believe in their own personal freedom, many of who have already been infected with covid, are reading the science, believe on the basis of what they're reading that their natural immunity is
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as if not more effective than the vaccinated immunity, have chosen not to get the vaccine. that's their right. you may not agree with that, but it's not your body. it's not your right to impose on someone else a mandate to take the vaccine or take away their job, take away their live layhood, take away -- take away their livelihood, take away their health care. i'm not the only one that thinks this. president biden back on december 4 said, i don't think it should be mandatory. i wouldn't demand it be mandatory. his press secretary said a vaccine mandate is not the federal government's role. and yet here we are. nurses being fired. what do you think that's going to do our health care system? we willer have a severe health care worker shortage. we're going to exacerbate that problem.
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these mandates are unconstitutional, but they are going to be incredibly harmful for military readiness and for our health care system. they're also going to be incredibly corrosive to our society. i have been inundated even well before president biden announced his ill-advised and unconstitutional mandates. i've been inundated with e-mails and letters and phone calls from people who are so concerned about being coerced, being forced to take a vaccine under duress. it's had an incredibly corrosive effect on our society. but i want to quote from one particular letter. i got this letter from a nurse. she has a master's degree.
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she's also a professor of nursing. she's describing what happened inside a meeting of their faculty as they were deciding how to handle mandates in their nursing school. she writes, some of the biggest issues today are the conversations occurring behind closed doors. our nursing department faculty got together to decide how to handle the nearly 50% of students that hadn't yet received their covid vaccination and face being dismissed from their nursing program unless they complied. the students were referred to as, quote, ignorant, uneducated, killers. this name-calling, although deeply inappropriate, has become a cultural norm against the masses of those who decide that it is within their right to attack the personal choice of others. but if i were a student or a parent of a student that heard
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that interaction that i am about to share with you, you'd be beyond furious. when it was determined by consensus of the faculty group that we were not going a you although any special accommodations -- in other words, switching of clinical assignments or sites to allow for the unvaccinated students to progress -- that it would be the standard practice in all other nursing programs soon, one faculty member exclaimed to the group, quote, good luck finding a new career. unquote. and the group responded with laughter. this nurse writes, let that sink in for aempt mo. -- for a moment. they laughed. they laughed at the thought of someone's dreams being crushed.
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that's the effect these unconstitutional, coercive, freedom-robbing mandates are having on our society. there's no need for them. as the previous e-mail from my constituent that i received today proves, even if you've been fully vaccinated, you can catch covid, you can transmit covid, you can die from covid. now, it's a tragedy. i wish it weren't so. but it is true. when are we going to start following the science? when are we going to reclaim the freedom that has been lost in this pandemic? there has been enough harm done during the course of this pandemic. i am begging this body, i am begging the president -- do no
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further harm. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, last week i came to the senate floor no more than three times and invited my colleagues to pass bills to protect millions of americans at risk of losing their jobs, their livelihoods due to president biden's covid-19 vaccine mandate. unfortunately, these bills were not adopted. but i committed then, as is do again today, -- as i do again today, that i'll be back with additional proposals for as long as it takes to beat this sweeping mandate. since i began this effort against the mandate, there's been a massive outpouring of support from across the country.
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i've heard from americans in countless sectors, from multiple states who are at risk of losing their jobs. these americans just want to make their own medical decisions, a right that has always been afforded and not challenged, since the beginning of our nation. in utah alone, i've heard from no fewer than 184 people who are at risk of losing their livelihoods. they are -- they and so many others, those who share the same concerns, are our neighbors, they're everyday americans, and they have legitimate medical concerns about getting the vaccine. but president biden doesn't care. he said simply, this isn't about freedom or personal choice. well, to the millions of americans who face the
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punishment of made unemployable if they do not succumb to the president's will, this is very much about freedom and personal choice. there must be a more reasonable answer. there must be a more compassionate answer. the covid-19 vaccine has been deemed generally safe. i don't dispute that. in fact i, along with my entire family, have been vaccinated. i see the development of these vaccines as a miracle and a blessing. but there are some people with preexisting conditions or complications, many of these individuals have been advised bid their trusted board-certified doctors that they should not receive the vaccine. these americans should be able -- they deserve to be able to make their own medical decisions, and they should not be forced by the president of the united states to go against the advice of their doctors. now, let's look down the road at
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what will necessarily follow this vaccine mandate. countless americans who follow the recommendations of their doctors will lose their jobs, in an already troubled economy. these individuals and families will not be just unemployed. the president of the united states would deem them unemployable, second-class pariahs. businesses that dare to employ the unvaccinated will be subject to crippling fines and risk closure. the president of the united states unilaterally, without any say from the people's representatives in congress, is set on imposing financial destruction on many american families and businesses. he's even targeting those with complicating medical conditions and forcibly removing them from the economy and much of broader society. so today i'm offering the senate
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an option -- to take a more compassionate, reasonable approach. my bill, the your health comes first act, would exempt from the president's mandate individuals with personal health concerns related to the vaccine. simply put, americans who are worried about how the vaccine would interact with or compound their existing medical difficulties would not be obligated to get it. those who have been advised by their doctors not to get vaccine due to preexistings medical conditions would not be forced to go against the direction of their doctors. this bill is a reasonable and compassionate conclusion to allow americans the dignity and autonomy we all deserve. this isn't the only flaw with the mandate. as i've said before, the president lacks authority to do this. neither the federal government in general nor the president of
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the united states in particular has the power under the constitution to implement a broad mandate of this sort. whether you think government ought to be mandating it or not, whether you think government ought to force people out of their jobs if they refuse to get it or not, that is a different analytically distinct question in our constitutional system from whether the federal government has the authority generally or the president of the united states in particular has the authority. it doesn't and he does not. these arguments need to remain at the forefront of the conversation. questions regarding the constitutionality and the constitutional authority to issue this in the first place. i'll be back tomorrow with another proposal, and i'll be at this for as long as it takes to end this unconstitutional and uncompassionate mandate. mr. president, as if a in legislative session, i ask unanimous consent that at committee on health, education, labor, and pensions be
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discharged from further consideration of s. 2848 and that the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. i ask unanimous consent that the bill 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: is there objection? a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: reserving the right to object, yesterday tallahassee memorial hospital disclosed that 82 people died inside their health care system from covid over the course of the month of september. that's the worst month on record for that hospital system. it's not shocking to anyone because we just went past 700,000 people who have now been killed by this virus in the united states of america. and this attack that continues to be launched on the senate floor against science and against sound public health policy is standing in the way of
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us defeating this virus. i'll speak to senator lee's objection, but senator johnson just came to the floor and opened up his remarks by declaring that he wasn't an anti-vaxxer and then just engaged in a ten-minute broadside against vaccines. citing conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory. the effect will be to undermine america's faith in vaccines that are working, to prove his point, the senator from wisconsin read an e-mail from a constituent who got the vaccine and got infected. i'm sure that's true. there are, in fact, people who have gotten the vaccine who have gotten the infection. it isn't 100% effective. but he didn't cite these statistics: those who have been vaccinated are ten times less likely to be hospitalized. those who have been vaccinated
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are ten times less likely to die. here's some numbers from the state of pennsylvania that i just saw this morning. in pennsylvania, 97% of deaths are amongst the unvaccinated. 95% of hospitalizations are amongst the unvaccinated, and 94% of cases are amongst the unvaccinated. senator lee is right, vaccines work. vaccines work and i appreciate his statement to that effect. but others like senator wisconsin are coming down to the floor and their words have the effect of undermining people's faith in science, and that is deadly. that is deadly. as to senator lee's objections, i know he makes them in good faith, but my impression is that this congress and this country decided a long time ago that the federal government does have a role to play when it comes to the safety of our workplaces. in fact, that's the entire
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reason for the existence of osha, whether you like it or not from a policy perspective, osha has handed down mandate after mandate about what is necessary for employers to make sure that when you show up to work in a hospital or a factory or a school, that your workplace is safe. specifically, this country is not a stranger to vaccine mandates. in fact, every parent who sends their kids to school knows all about vaccine mandates because you have to make sure that your child is vaccinated before they go to school. most of those schools have relatively reasonable exemptions , often at the very least, medical is exemptions, sometimes religious and philosophical objections. let's be clear, president biden's plan includes commonsense considerations for exemptions. let's also be clear that at least with respect to the osha requirement, it's a mandate for
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testing, not for vaccinations. there are other mandates that are requiring the vaccination take place. but the broadest of the proposed mandates is a mandate that everybody gets tested, you don't have to get tested if you get the vaccine. and so i'm deeply worried about how unserious this country is about the science and about sound public health policy. we aren't going to get over this pandemic. we aren't going to be able to turn the page unless people choose to get vaccinated. ten times less likely to die, ten times less likely to get hospitalized. yes, it is true there are cases in which there may be medical indications. president biden's plan accounts for that. yes, it is true that there are individual people who have still had breakthrough cases, but this is an effective vaccine, it's a safe vaccine. and the only way that we save
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lives is if we stop focusing on ideology and keep our focus on science and what works. and for that reason, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. lee: mr. president, i appreciate the insight from my friend and distinguished colleague, the senator from connecticut. i want to be very clear, the limited focus of this bill, the bill that i offered up for passage in the senate today, is narrow. it has one purpose, that for those americans who have a medical concern and who have been advised by their doctor based on some condition associated with their health that they should not get it, they shouldn't have to choose between getting vaccinated and losing their job. my friend from connecticut goes so far, i think, as to
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implicitly acknowledge that there ought to be an exception made for those people, wherein he says president biden's vaccine mandate accommodates them. well, there's a problem with that. president biden hasn't issued anything. he's suggested, along with members of his administration, that there might be some accommodation for them. i'm not sure what that means. neither does corporate america. a lot of corporate america, acting on the advice of legal counsel and human resources departments, tends to be adopting rules already. some of them take exceptions like these into account, others do not. really, it's not too much to ask to suggest that if you're going to impose a sweeping mandate like this, that you ought to have some protection for people with complicating medical conditions, who on the
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advice of a board certified physician, choose not to get it. again, this does not mean that i'm okay with the rest of the mandate. i'm not. and i respectfully but very strongly disagree with my friend's characterization that this is just fine for the federal government to do. the federal government lacks general police powers. the lion's share of the authority within government in our system lies with the states and their political subdivisions. our national government is in charge of just a few basic and distinctively national matters, national defense, a uniform system of weights and measures, trademarks, copyrights, and patents; regulating trade and commerce between the states and indian tribes. there are a handful of others. but there is no power in there
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that just refers to providing generally laws to make the american people safe and healthy. those powers exist in america, they just aren't vested in this government. it doesn't mean that states and localities will always exercise that power wisely or prudently or compassionately. but it means insofar as you're going to act for government, that's the problem place and not this one. my friend from connecticut then responds by saying, yeah, but the powers still there anyway. even if i were to assume his point that the power of the federal government somehow extends to an individual vaccine mandate -- which it doesn't. and i challenge him or anyone else to cite what provision of the u.s. constitution it is which provides that authority. even if we were to accept the
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premise, justly for purposes of discussion, that the federal government may exercise such authority, the president may not exercise that authority alone. the very first clause of the first article and the first section of the first article of that constitution says all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a congress of the united states which shall consist of a senate and a house of representatives. article 1, section 7, then makes clear that in order to pass a law, a federal law in the united states -- that is in order to adopt a policy of the federal government enforceable through the overpowering force that is the federal government -- you have to follow the article 1, section 7, formula, which means you've got to take a legislative proposal, a bill, you've got to pass it in the house and you've got to pass it in the senate with the same language, and it has to be submitted to the president for significant in a -- for signature, veto or
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acquiescence. if you don't undertake that property at all there is no authority within the executive to do anything like they're describing. what president biden has done is to erogate to himself powers that he not only authorizes as federal but really are other powers that he doesn't possess. the president is the chief executive. he's not a lawmaker, and he's certainly not the entire legislative branch. and so that really is quite beside the point. it doesn't make a difference with his federal authority. the fact that federal authority is asserted to exist, which it's not, and we can't identify a single clause of article 1, section 8, or another part of the constitution that can fairly be read, especially against the
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backdrop of its original public meaning, to convey that power. but even if you concede that point, there's no reasonable, plausible, defensible argument that would say the president of the united states may wield this authority unilaterally. that is what despots and tyrants would have the power to do. and if there's one thing that's very consistent and uniform in our constitutional structure is that no one person, no one group of people is ever supposed to be able to accumulate dangerous degrees of power, and the president of the united states is neither a lawmaker nor the entire legislative branch. he may not step into those shoes. as to the assertion about science, my friend and colleague referred to this as somehow a war on science. it's not a war on science to
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suggest that the president lacks authority to do something unilaterally. i'd call that a war on the constitution, frankly. it's not a war on science to say that whenever a government acts, it ought to do so out of an abundance of caution and out of respect for the people to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals who have medical conditions that make them uniquely vulnerable to what the government is inclined do require. again, this mandate is unconstitutional. it doesn't make the vaccine bad. in fact, the vaccine is a blessing, and i think the american people have been made safer as a result of it. that doesn't mean every american must get it. it certainly doesn't mean that it's any of the federal
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government's business to tell people that they have to choose between getting the vaccine and losing their job, especially with regard to individuals who have preexisting medical conditions that would make it dangerous for them to do so, in the judgment of their board certified medical physician. that's wrong. that's absolutely wrong. now look, covid-19 has imposed a lot of tragedies. it is heartbreaking, the number of people we've lost to it, including the individuals who have died in the last month at tallahasee memorial hospital, who he mentioned. every one of those lives is of infinite, eternal value. those are unrepeatable lives
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lost to a deadly pandemic. my heart goes out to each one of those souls who has departed along with their families. we're reminded of the lives that have tragically been lost to covid-19 by an exhibit that's been up on the mall, up around the washington monument. it's beautiful really. there are little flags, small flags, each of them white, each one representing one of the americans that's been lost to covid-19 since it broke out just over a year and a half ago. there are about 700,000 of those around the washington monument. from a distance, it looks a little like snow. i come from a state where there's usually snow at the top of mountains. it looks familiar to me when i see what looks like snow from a distance, but it's somber as i remember what they actually
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represent. if we want to talk about the loss of human life, we have to talk about the loss of all human loss, and we also have to talk about the right of each individual to live and to continue living and to follow the advice of medical doctors based on the individual's own medical conditions. i sometimes find staggering accusations that those who have concerns with this are somehow committing a war on science. against which science? who exactly is it that's against science? the science that tells us that unborn human life can experience and respond to pain in the
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womb, in 15 or 20 weeks of gestational development? what would it look like if we had a separate memorial with little red flags instead of little white ones, each representing one of the human lives lost every single year to abortion. you see, every single year we lose about the same number of human lives to abortion as we have lost to covid since it first broke out. if for the last 50 years we had a little red flag each marking one of those human lives lost, it would be a sea of red. it would take up not just the grass all around the washington monument, which is large, it would probably take up all the grass between the capitol, the washington monument and the lincoln memorial. it would be a sea of red.
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so, no, no, you can't say that this is a war on science. to be concerned about individuals being able to make their own decision about whether to get this vaccine. and if you want to -- if you want to accuse people on the other side of the aisle of doing something, you have got to stop and think about other decisions that we make, other decisions that some are willing to defend, decisions that involve a whole lot of human suffering and a whole lot of loss of a whole lot of human lives. i get that a lot of people disagree on these things, but the fact that we disagree on them doesn't mean they don't exist.
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it certainly doesn't mean that we can stand by and watch as if a vestigeial legislative organ, as one single man steps into the shoes of 435 representatives or 100 senators and makes as it were a law on its own, a law that fails even to accommodate good-faith medical concerns backed up by medical science. it's too bad that we couldn't pass this simple law today. we could have, we should have. i wish we would have. i'll be back. this issue isn't going away. neither am i. thank you, mr. president. mr. lee: mr. president, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: i ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i have nine requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. protoduly noted. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i ask that i have unanimous consent to complete my remarks before the vote. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: i come to the floor to support the nomination of lauren king as u.s. district judge for the western court of washington. i am pleased to have recommended her to president biden as a citizen of the muskegee nation, ms. king will be the first native american federal judge from my home state and only the sixth ever on the native -- sixth ever native judge in our country's history. she is extremely well qualified and has an abundance of tribal court experience.
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something that's very important in my state. we are home to 29 federally recognized tribes. it's long overdue that our federal court system includes those who have deep understanding and appreciation of tribal trust responsibilities and federal indian law, and ms. king has extensive litigation experience and a recognized leader in tribal law. she has been a pro tempore appellate judge for the northwest intertribal court system since 2013. she has also served as a commissioner on the washington state gambling commission and shares her law firm's native american law practice group. a graduate of the university of washington and the university of virginia school of law, she has also taught federal indian law at seattle university. she has earned the support of the national congress of american indians and affiliated tribes of northwest indians and leading native organizations. so i know she will make an excellent addition to our court, the western district of washington, and i urge my colleagues to support her
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nomination. the presiding officer: all postcloture time has expired. the question is on the nomination. is there a second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: the yeas are 55, the nays are 44. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. the senator from virginia. mr. warner: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate consider calendar number
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390, and that the senate vote on the nomination without intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report. the clerk: space force, brigadier general gregory j.gagnon. the presiding officer: the question is on the nomination. all those in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. mr. warner: i ask unanimous consent that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, all without intervening action or debate, that no further motions be in order to the nomination, and that any statements related to the nomination be printed in the record and that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. warner: i ask unanimous consent that the senate consider the following nominations en bloc -- calendar number 392
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through 399, that the senate vote on the nominations en bloc without intervening action or debate, the motions to reconsider be 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 and that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the question occurs on the nominations en bloc. all those in favor will say aye. all opposed will say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nominations are confirmed en bloc. mr. warner: 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 up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. warner: i understand there is a bill at the desk, and i ask for its first reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the first time. the clerk: s. 4, a bill to amend
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the voting rights act of 1965, to revise the criteria for determining which states and political sub discses are subject to section 4 of the act, and for other purposes. mr. warner: i now ask for a second reading, and in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i object to my own request. the presiding officer: objection having been heard. the bill will be read a second time on the next legislative day. mr. warner: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. wednesday, october 6. that following the prayer and the pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed, that upon the conclusion of morning business, the senate proceed to the executive session to resume consideration of the merriam nomination. further, that the cloture motion on the merriam nomination ripen at 11:30 a.m. that if cloture is invoked on the nomination, all postcloture
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time will expire at 2:15 p.m. finally, if the nomination is confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and that the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. warner: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of senator barrasso and collins. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, it is with a great deal of hometown pride that i rise in strong support of the confirmation of darcie n. mcelwee to be the new u.s. attorney for the state of maine. both darcie and i are natives of
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the northern maine community of caribou. since 2002, darcie has been an assistant u.s. attorney, and she has served as the project safe neighborhoods coordinator for that office since 2005. she primarily has prosecuted violent crime cases, including those involving sex trafficking, interstate domestic violence, and child sexual exploitation, as well as firearms and arson cases. darcie served as assistant district attorney for penopscot county and piscataway county. mr. president, darcie is a
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member of the maine trial lawyers association and a past president of the cumberland bar association. she is also -- she has also served as an adjunct professor at the university of maine school of law and at the maine trial lawyers college of advocacy. darcie received her j.d. degree from the university of maine school of law in 1998, and her undergraduate degree from boudin college. mr. president, throughout her career, darcie has worked tirelessly to keep mainers safe from violent crime and to achieve justice for victims. she is an intelligent, experienced, and highly competent law enforcement professional. her extensive track record as a
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career prosecutor make her ideally suited for this important position. based on her experience and her character, as well as her caribou roots, i have every confidence that darcie will faithfully uphold our nation's laws and work to ensure public safety and order. throughout her distinguished career, she has demonstrated a strong commitment to public service and i know that she will serve the state of maine and our nation extremely well as maine's next u.s. attorney. mr. president, i am absolutely delighted that the senate without dissent tonight confirmed darcie mcelwee for this important position. thank you, mr. president.
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mr. barrasso: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor tonight to talk about a crisis that is continuing at our southern border. it is a crisis that joe biden created, and it is a crisis that he has only made worse. mr. president, let me just tell you the white house knows that it's getting worse. leaks from the administration claim they're preparing for the possibility that the illegal immigration will over the next month will double, double. this would mean 400,000 illegal immigrants reaching our border next month. this isn't just a record. this is nearly double of a record. this isn't just a crisis. this is an invasion. in the month of august, more than 200,000 illegal immigrants
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crossed our border. this was the most ever seen in the month of august in the last 21 years. in july we saw more illegal immigrants than in any one month in 21 years. since president biden has taken office, we've seen record breaking month after record breaking month of ilwill egg im-- illegal immigrants coming to this country. our border is now wide open and the rest of the word knows it. in recent weeks we saw tens of thousands of illegal immigrants crowd our -- a single bridge in del rio, texas. according to the u.s. secretary homeland security, 30,000 people crossed into del rio in just 15 days. that was if september 9 through september 24. mr. president, this is just the
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beginning. now there are reports they're up to 60,000 more haitians making their way to our border. and what happened in del rio is about to happen all over again on a much larger scale. the foreign minister of panama recently said, quote, we sounded the alarm, close quote, about the last caravan. she said she warned the biden administration, yet the biden administration did nothing. more than a million illegal immigrants have crossed our southern border since president biden has taken office. this is more than double the population of my home state of wyoming. many of these people are carrying deadly diseases. last week the homeland security secretary admitted one in five -- this is from the secretary of homeland security -- one in five illegal immigrants crossing our border carries an illness.
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this could mean 40,000 illegal immigrants brought disease across our border just this past month. in many cases these people are then being sent all across the country to then stay there. last week the homeland security secretary announced up to 12,000 of the illegal immigrants in del rio had been released into the united states, not sent to their home but sent into the united states. oh, they're supposed to show up in court some day. yet probably will never happen. that's been the history of this. probably never show up in court. instead they'll settle down in the united states and never leave. the lack of enforcement of the law by this administration is silent amnesty. the illegal immigrants know it and the democrats in this chamber and in washington know
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it as well. many of these immigrants coming have applied for asylum but it's highly unlikely these del rio immigrants would actually ever qualify for asylum. most of them have been living in south america. in other words, they're not fleeing their home country. they already fled their home country to a safe third country where they were living. the current caravan is marching thousands of miles through half a dozen countries. asylum is only for people fleeing persecution. they are not. these people don't qualify for asylum. they have no right to come here. a competent administration would prevent them, stop them from coming here.
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if they want to apply for asylum, they should remain in mexico. under the previous president, that's what was required. the remain in mexico policy was extremely successful and effective. yet president biden ended it on his very first day in office. last month the federal judge ruled president biden broke the law by ending it so suddenly. now president biden has to bring it back. yet the administration has already announced they're going to try to end it again. two weeks ago a judge also restricted the public health order called title 42. this is a public health order which expels illegal immigrants from places where coronavirus is spreading. a federal judge restricted title 42 to expelling single adults. then the biden administration
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appealed the ruling and asked to keep the order in place. now an appeals judge has allowed it to continue while the appeal moves forward. if this appeal is not successful, we will see an additional tidal wave of illegal immigration. when i visited the border earlier this year, border patrol told me title 42 was their last line of defense. title 2 -- 42 is struck down, illegal immigration could double overnight. the biden administration has also announced a new policy on deportations. under the new rules, many illegal immigrants who commit crimes amazingly will not be deported. the policy expolice sutley says -- explicitly says personnel should not rely on the fact of conviction, should not rely on the fact of conviction when determining whom to deport.
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this is not accused of a crime. this is convicted of a crime. the policy lists out a host of mitigating factors. they include age, length of time in the united states, mental or physical health problems, and the potential impact on their family. we are talking about convicted criminals. these mitigating factors are largely subjective. in effect, homeland security now has license to not deport people who should by law be deported. this lack of effective enforcement is a silent ap nesty -- amnesty. here in the senate democrats just tried to pass amnesty for eight million immigrants. they failed. yes it turns out they didn't need to pass it. the biden administration will just let people stay. i will tell you, mr. president, people around this country when they see what this administration is doing at the border, they are furious.
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they're offended. amnesty only strengthens the magnet for people to come here illegally. as long as democrats give amnesty government benefits to illegal immigrants, of course we will continue to have a border crisis. last week former president barack obama gave an interview. he was asked about the crisis on the southern border. he had something to say. it was on abc "good morning america." i hope it's something president biden has heard or listened to. president obama said, we are a nation state. we have borders. the idea that we can have open borders is unsustainable, unsustainable. that's president barack obama, former member of this senate, two-term president of the united states saying what is happening right now is unsustainable and
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president obama is right. it is unsustainable. it's leading to tragedies like one we saw in yuma, arizona, just this last august. border patrol agents sadly found a 2-year-old boy from colombia. he was next to the dead bodies of his 11-year-old sister and their mother. we later found out his mother's name was claudia pena. she had called 911 and in the background of the call, the dispatchers heard a child saying mommy, i'm hungry. the family had flown to mexico from colombia. then they were smuggled over the border by a trafficker. they were seeking to be reunited with the father of the family. now they'll never be reunited. and stories like this one, heartbreaking stories happen on a regular basis because our
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border is open. they're going to keep happening as long as the border remains open and as long as the president continues to send the message to attract more to come here illegally. mr. president, you know what we need to do. we know what works. fip the wall that we -- finish the wall that we paid for. keep the public health rules in place. and keep the successful remain in mexico policy. stop promising benefits, government benefits, paid benefits to illegal immigrants. turn off the magnet. the magnet which is drawing millions of people to risk their lives as this stampede for the border will continue. it's time to enforce the law, secure this border once and for all. it's what the american people
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want and are not getting from this administration. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until stands adjourned until watch live when lawmakers come back into session here on cspan2. we can follow both legislative on c-span our new video app. >> and download c-span's
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mobile app and stay up-to-date with a live video of the days of political events live stream of the house floor in key congressional hearings to white house events and supreme court oral arguments or live interactive program at washington turner will we hear your voices every day. c-span now has you covered download the app for free today. deputy attorney lisa monico testified today before the senate judiciary committee about the violence against women act. you can see that hearing tonight on cspan2 beginning at 9:00 p.m. eastern. >> c-span as your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these television companies and more including comcast. >> do you think this is just a community center? no it's way more than that comcast is parting with a thousand community centers to create wi-fi enabled so students from low income familiesan


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