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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  October 6, 2021 9:59am-3:26pm EDT

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♪♪ >> download c-span's new mobile app and stay up to state with live video coverage of the day's political event from the senate floor and key congressional hearings and the supreme court and live interactive morning program, washington journal where we'd hear your voices every day. c-span now has your covered. download the app for free today. >> live now to the u.s. senate which today is scheduled to vote on the nominee for the u.s. district court in
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connecticut. also today the senate's expected to vote on whether to move forward with legislation to suspend the debt ceiling for two years. the treasury department said it will run out of money to pay the government's bills in the middle of the month which could cause a default in government debt payments unless congress takes action to extend the debt seeing. now it live coverage on c-span2. officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray.. almighty god, we trust in you, and look to you for protection. .lead our lawmakers in your life-giving light. may they find in your precepts a lamp for their feet and a light
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for their path, saving them from life's pitfalls. .lord, we praise you that your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. send your help from heaven to keep our nation strong. we pray in your sovereign name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate.
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the clerk: washington d.c, october 6, 2021. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable ray lujan, a senator from the state of new mexico, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.
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a senator: mr. president. mr. booker: we're not in a quorum call, may i be recognized. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. booker: i understand there is a bill at the desk that is due for a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: s. 4, a bill to amend the voting rights of 1965 to device which states are subject to the act and for other purposes. mr. booker: in order to place the bill on the calendar under rule 14.1, i would object to further proceeding. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive
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session and resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, sarah a.l. merriam, of connecticut, to be united states district judge for the district of connecticut. mr. booker: i would ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the following nomination, calendar number 265 shalanda h. baker, that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to to be reconsidered be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. that no further motions be in order -- be in order of the nomination, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is it there objection?
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: reserving the right to object. 100 years ago not many people could have managed, certainly not predicted with any degree of accuracy the kinds of technological advances that we have seen over the last century that would have allowed us to have lights in our own homes, to have televisions, cell phones, and these would be available to rich and poor alike, urban and rural alike. this is so common, it is easy to take for granted, but they don't come about automatically. they didn't just happen. they have been brought to us as a result of labor and innovation and dedication of individuals who took chances and created something new.
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today i stand opposed to the nomination of shalanda baker because she openly opposes the economic system that has brought so much fortune to our country. regarding capitalism, free markets, ms. baker stated the following, and i quote. as we move into new future, we must also remember that a just transformation of our energy system requires a careful interrogation of the racial poll particulars that -- politics that drive it. we must erode and eradicate this. ms. baker, in addition to making statements like that advocates for a cap and floor model for electric utility pricing, one in which high-income individuals would pay a minimum, not ha maximum, but a minimum of 6% of
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their entire household income on electric and then other households who are less wealthy, the least wealthy would pay no more 3% or 4% of household income. now, look, i too want to make sure that our poorest citizens and our poorest communities have access to resources and are able to -- to be lifted out of poverty, but placing obstacles in the way of competitive markets and denigrating the very concept of the competitive markets that have made electric and so many other developments so available to so many people, rich and poor alike, would, i fear, would, i firmly believe, would, i'm certain, end up preventing technological
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advances. for those reasons i oppose ms. baker's nomination and i object. the presiding officer: the objection is heard. the senator from new jersey. mr. booker: i appreciate being recognized and i'm grateful this conversation is being held between myself and the senator from utah, who is one of the more principled friends i made in the united states senate. he's been a friend and a colleague and we have worked and partnered on numerous things together. he is someone, even though i'm an inch or two taller than that i look up to in all sincerity. i feel that we are taking statements that people have made and whipping around them a lot of presumptions. there is a difference between saying i am against capitalism and i'm against racist capitalistic policies. that is a big difference.
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we are a nation that exploded forward to being the dominating economy on the planet through the capitalist system, but the capitalist system was not fair and equal all the tame, in fact, it did not reflect what adam smith himself talked about. capitalism is an ideal that the best way to distribute goods and opportunity is this idea through a free market where everyone has access. clearly that has not been the case in this nation. when african americans were originally in a capitalist system, slaves, even after the period of our greatest national sin, blacks were still held out of equal opportunity to be competitive. if you look at perhaps some of the greatest ideals of
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capitalism, this idea of working the land with your sweat and labor to produce powcts to sell into -- protects to sell -- products to sell, look at the homestead act, where that land belonged to native americans who did not have the free and fair opportunity. think of how hardworking immigrants got that land but blacks were excluded. no one deny that that's not patently racist. and this continues. and a lot of our biggest businesses, up until the 1960's and 1970's, women weren't allowed equal opportunity, that is a capitalist sexist system, we know that this from african americans, i know this
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from my own story about my father here in this area coming out of college and being the first black person hired by a company you may have heard of, i.b.m. the first black salesman in the entire virginia area. my father told me the story of why he left the company he was working with because one of his managers said, you should get out of here because no niger is every going to be allowed to be a manager of this company. that's racism. so here's a nominee, who in the context literally that my colleague read, racist capitalist policies, no one can deny that these policies existed in our country and that the free market system hasn't been free. people on both sides of the aisle have heard speaking to the corporate concentration that's going on, the mow -- mow nop ol
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listic practices, from farms to tech, that is working against the free market capitalist ideas of great philosophers like adam smith. to object to someone for that reason, for me, is patently unfair. and my colleague legislation objected because of a policy. he described one policy. well, shalanda baker is not going to be in a position where she is making policy. she is going to be charged with ensuring that there is equal access and opportunity in the wide range of the department of energy's program, opportunities and resources that we are a more inclusive and equalable nation. that work is vital. in america, one in three households are energy insecure, meaning they have difficulty paying their energy bills and research has unfortunately shown
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that low-income households disproportionately black and brown households are more likely to be energy insecure.. i love this nation more than any other country on the planet earth, yet we still have injustices that show that african americans are disproportionately subject to inequalities. and the crazy thing about this is this spiritual law that martin luther king embodied so well. he said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. it is a truth, in america poverty is not just a problem of the poor. it costs this country more than
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$1 trillion every year. and so by dealing with the fact that blacks are disproportionately poor brings resources to us all. every dollar raising one child above a poverty level returns $8 to our economy. and so addressing inequality, addressing disparities helps everyone. energy justice isn't something we talk nearly enough about, and that's why ms. baker's role is so important. and so i'm disappointed today. i voted against a lot of trump nominees, but i voted for a lot that i disagreed with on policy. there is an urgency right now on this issue in america. there is an urgency right now to be a more just and inclusive society. there is an urgency right now to
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create deeper community in this country and to ensure that everyone has the fruits of liberty and opportunity. it's what we swear an oath to. it's what ms. baker's job is all about, is making real on the words of our united pledge that we will be a nation with liberty and justice for all. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: tboor and a half months -- for two and a half months the republicans have provided a clear and consistent road map for democratic government to raise the debt ceiling. democrats have had two and a half months notice to use the fast-track, party-line reconciliation process, which they have already used happily
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this year and already intend to use once again. but the democrats who run washington have done nothing. they squandered week after week after week. the senate's been voting on midlevel nominations. two and a half months later our colleagues complain that time is running out to do their job. they are frantically asking our side for shortcuts. now in the past two days i've had the surreal experience of watching both the president of the united states and the senate majority leader be asked about the future of the u.s. economy. their respective responses were, quote, that's up to mitch mcconnell, or ask mitch mcconnell. well, what about the third democratic leader, the speaker of the house? well, she's headed to europe,
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headed off to europe. i can only presume she hopes the full faith and credit of the united states will get sorted out without her. that is the level of leadership and accountability the country is getting from the washington democrats who run the country. these are the leadership skills of people who spent two and a half months doing nothing and then complain they're short on time. that is the attitude that has gotten democrats a self-created inflation crisis, border crisis, afghanistan crisis, and free-falling favorability with the american people. it's not clear whether the democratic leaders have wasted two and a half months because they simply cannot govern or whether they are intentionally playing russian roulette with the economy to try to bully, bully their own members into going back on their word and
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wrecking the senate. either way, it is exactly the kind of recklessness that has disunified democratic government's public approval in total free fall. free fall. even now while the democratic leader complains that he's short on time, he continues to waste time with partisan stunts that are dead on arrival. he scheduled yet another vote this afternoon which he knows will fail. the majority has known for three months that show votes like this would go nowhere. this year democrats requested and won new powers, new powers to repeatedly reuse the reconciliation process. in the past few days democrats in both the house and senate have publicly admitted their party could handle, could handle the debt limit that way. our colleagues have plenty of time to get it done before the earliest projected deadline. there would be potential for
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time agreements to wrap it up well before any danger, but the democratic leaders wanted solutions. they wanted to turn their failure into everybody else's crisis, playing risky games with our economy, using manufactured drama to bully their own members, indulging petty politics instead of governing. their entire failed approach to governing in a nutshell on full display for the country to see. on a related matter, president biden makes two claims about the reckless taxing-and-spending spree that democrats are writing behind closed doors. listen to this -- he's saying it costs zero dollars, zero dollars. but he needs massive tax hikes to pay for it.
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talk about magical washington math, if they embark on a washington spending binge, as long as they send the bill to the american people and not themselves, they consider the whole thing free of charge, free of charge. of course democrat plans wouldn't pay for themselves. that's why their reckless spending spree needs to compare with an historic redistribution of wealth for the american people over to the federal government. with trillions of dollars of new spending comes the largest peacetime tax hike on record. democrats' reckless taxing-and-spending spree isn't even fully developed, and it already contains more than 40 different tax increases that would hurt families and help china. some of the tax hikes take aim at workers and families directly. others target small businesses,
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and family farms with extra burdens. still others would make it harder to invest, create, and sustain jobs here in america instead of overseas. ivy league economists say the democrats' tax hikes would increase the incentive for american companies to move investments and profits overseas. under democrats' proposed expansion of the global minimum tax, more than a dozen of our most developed peers would have tax structures more favorable to u.s. companies than our own. if president biden got his way on corporate taxes, even china would become more hospitable to job creators by comparison. so let me say that again -- democrats are planning to send america's top tax rate for job creators higher, higher than communist china. needless to say the biggest losers when democrats make it
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harder to do business in america are of course american workers. based on data from the joint committee on taxation, two-thirds of the burden of the corporate tax hike democrats are trying to ram through would end up falling on lower- and middle-income americans. 98.4% of it would hit americans with incomes under $500,000. mr. president, it turns out that president biden's promise that taxes wouldn't go up on the vast majority of american families wasn't worth all that much. and not only are their taxes set to go up, so is the budget of the i.r.s. democrats want to spend $80 billion so that federal tax authorities can expand their reach into financial habits of average americans snooping on transactions as small as $600.
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they want to finance their spending spree by effectively treating every ordinary american as if they were under i.r.s. audit. every ordinary american as if they were under i.r.s. audit. i must have forgotten when the president campaigned on giving everybody their own audit. i don't remember him saying that last year. it isn't ordinary middle-class americans who need a careful audit, mr. president. it's the democrats' reckless taxing-and-spending spree with these historic tax hikes that would hurt families and help china. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania.
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mr. casey: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: i come to the floor to call for the confirmation of a highly qualified nominee to the department of education. over the past year and a half, we all know that this pandemic has made life harder for so many americans, but especially students across the country, disrupting their classrooms and their learning, challenging their mental health, and deepening inequities. while we have made significant progress, our work to get everyone through this pandemic, of course, is far from over. to say nothing of the challenges in our education system that predate the pandemic. for example, rooting out systemic racism at every level, ensuring students have safe, modern schools and infrastructure, addressing the student debt crisis and high cost of higher education, and ending the epidemic of campus sexual violence, just to name a few.
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in light of this, all of these challenges, we need a fully staffed education department to help see our schools through this pandemic. and to help us build back stronger and fairer, which is why i have come to the floor today to call for the senate to confirm lisa brown, the nominee to be general counsel of the department of education. i won't recite her significant experience, but suffice it to say she has great public service credentials in the executive branch of our government over many years. lisa brown proved herself well -- or i should say proved herself well prepared for the work ahead when we had our health, education, labor pensions committee hearing with her, and she was passed out of the committee on a bipartisan voice vote. i'll say that again. a bipartisan voice vote. she is a highly qualified
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nominee and should not be a controversial one. students, parents, and educators deserve to have her confirmed so she can get to work for our communities. so i urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting her. and, mr. president, at this time i'd ask consent that the senate proceed to the following nominations en bloc -- calendar number 188, 255, 256, that the senate vote on the nominations yeb -- en bloc, without intervening action or debate, the motions to reconsider be 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
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nominations en bloc. all those in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes have it. the nominations are confirmed en bloc. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. thune: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, on september 25, president biden tweeted, and i quote, my build back better agenda costs zero dollars. that's right. according to the president, a series of new, permanent entitlements and a massive expansion of government, the biggest expansion of government
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at least since the new deal, is going to cost zero dollars. that from the president of the united states. and the president has now been doubling down on that claim. on monday, he once again tweeted the fact of the matter is my build back better agenda costs zero. well, no, mr. president, the fact of the matter is that your build back better agenda costs $3.5 trillion at least. that's the minimum number. the committee for responsible federal budget where the president's treasury secretary served on the board before joining the administration estimates the cost at $5 trillion or more. believing -- but leaving that aside, mr. president, even if the president has been merely trying to claim that his plan is fully paid for by tax hikes and other measures, to say that it would cost zero dollars is beyond ridiculous.
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i mean, think about it. let's say your college education was completely paid for by your parents. did it then cost zero dollars? of course not. it cost a lot of money, money that your parents were likely able to pay only because of a lot of hard work and sacrifices. or what if you saved up for a couple of years for your dream vacation and now you have all the money that you need down to the cost of your ubers and your hotel breakfast? does that mean that your vacation is going to cost zero dollars? of course it doesn't. the same thing applies when it comes to the democrats' legislation. even if democrats had all the money they need to pay for every dollar of their massive spending spree, the price tag still wouldn't be zero dollars. i mean, it just absolutely doesn't pass the sanity test for americans. the price tag for this proposal
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is at least, at least minimum $3.5 trillion and likely much, much more. presumably what the president has been referring to when he makes the absurd claim that his spending bill will cost zero dollars is his assertion his bill won't add to the debt. the problem is that isn't true either, because the pay-fors in the democrats' bill won't actually pay for the bill in its entirety. the tax hikes in the democrats' legislation will actually only pay for about two-thirds of the bill's ostensible $3.5 trillion price tag. the other revenue-raising components in the bill won't make up the difference. and what are those other revenue-raising components? well, a substantial part is increased i.r.s. enforcement. democrats claim that they can get $700 million in more revenue
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by closing the tax gap, the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid. now, there is no question that individuals shouldn't get away with cheating on their taxes, and there are undoubtedly reasonable measures we can take to strengthen enforcement and narrow the gap. unfortunately, democrats haven't proposed any reasonable measures. instead, instead the democrats are proposing to, a, double the size of the i.r.s. and b, have the i.r.s. snoop on americans' bank accounts. that's right. democrats want to double the size of the i.r.s. and force banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to provide details of individual spending to the federal government. under the administration's proposal, once your withdrawals or deposits for the year exceed a certain amount -- and that
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amount, by the way, if the president has his way, is $600 -- your bank or credit union would be forced to report the details of your activity to the federal government. so the federal government could end up with a record of every time you eat dinner out or pay your rent or buy a new jacket or a toaster oven, the invasion of privacy being talked about here is absolutely staggering. we already have a mechanism in place to allow the i.r.s. to view large transactions that might indicate potential criminal activity. we do not need the federal government monitoring every purchase that law abiding americans make from the app store or how many times americans buy a cup of coffee, not to mention the incredible demands this reporting requirements would place on
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community banks and credit unions. banks and credit unions around the country are worried about how they would manage with the bill's reporting requirements. and, mr. president, let's not forget that the agency that would be receiving all this information has a reputation for mishandling private data. in fact, the i.r.s. was subject to a massive leak or hack of private taxpayer information mere months ago, information that somehow ended up in the hands of advocates at pro publica and neither the i.r.s. or the government has followed up about that data breach much less any accountability. given an agency access to reams of private taxpayer information is a very bad idea. and, mr. president, even if we granted that this massive invasion of privacy was worth it, the truth is all of this additional enforcement would not
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provide all the money that democrats claim it would provide. democrats claim they could get $700 billion from the bill's increased forced tax measures. the reality is more likely to be $200 billion lower according to an analysis from the warton school of business. so democrats would be doubling the size of an agency with clear management issues and taxpayer provides to pay for a tiny portion of the spending. no taxpayer should be able to aid voi the taxes he or she owes. i have signed on to cosponsor legislation to look at ways to strengthen i.r.s. enforcement efforts. but democrats' proposal to double the size of the i.r.s. and track taxpayers' spending should never, never have seen the light of day.
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even foirm i.r.s. commissioner john coskan, who served for former president trump. taken together, with the democrats' massive tax hikes will not be enough to pay for their multitrillion-dollar legislation. partly because the tax hikes may not bring in as much as the democrats claim. but also because democrats have used a lot of budget gimmick ri to disguise the true cost of the bill. the standard method for analyzing the cost of a bill is a ten-year budget window. so you look at what your bill would cost over ten years and that's how you get the cost of your bill. that's normally the way that it work around here. well, that's not exactly with a the democrats are doing. that child allowance in the democrats' bill, democrats have only counted the cost of that
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allowance through the year 2025, that allows democrats to claim that the cost of that provision is around $500 billion instead of the $1.1 trillion the measure would actually cost over a decade. and all of those tax hikes are, of course, just for covering the cost of the bill over a ten-year or shorter window. but in reality, the new government benefits democrats are putting in place are not going to expire for ten years. this bill is effectively instituting multiple permanent -- permanent entitlement programs. and the long-term costs of those programs is not going to be covered by the tax hikes democrats are currently proposing as massive as those tax hikes are. mr. president, i've talked a lot about the cost -- the dollar cost of this bill, which are massive. most -- biggest expansion of
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government literally in my generation in history. i could spend just as long talking about the bill's other costs like the fact that the bill is likely to cost workers' jobs and opportunities by increasing the tax burden on american businesses and depressing economic growth or to the cost of families who will face higher energy bills and higher prices as a result of this legislation. but i'm going to stop here for today. one thing is for sure, mr. president, democrats' massive spending spree is going to cost a lot more than zero dollars. and american taxpayers, well, the american taxpayers are going to be paying a heavy price for this legislation and for a very long time to come. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. well, i just agree with my colleague from south dakota and my neighbors had to say about the issues of the spending bill, and i would also add that people all around the country are paying the price right now with raising prices. they are getting hammered at the grocery store, hammered at the gas station and every month since joe biden has taken the oath of office, they have felt the price taken out of their wallet, even without the taxes that the democrats are proposing, american people have taken a cut. i see the leader is here on the floor and i will stop now. mr. schumer: i thank my friend from wyoming and ask unanimous
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consent that he be able to resume after i finish my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. the majority leader. mr. schumer: now, in america, mr. president, we always kept a basic promise. we pay our debts on time without exception. it's been a key to our economic success and our standing in the global markets across the world. today it's time for us in this chamber to do our jobs and make sure those promises remain unbroken. in order to preserve the full faith and credit of the united states, the senate must act and by the end of this week send a bill to president biden's desk suspending the debt ceiling and allowing our government to keep paying its bills and meeting our outstanding obligations. later this are afternoon the senate will vote on cloture on the house-passed message that would suspend the debt ceiling through december 2022. if cloture is invoked, the senate will then vote to pass this bill on a simple majority
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basis. democrats have been clear from the start, with we're going to do the responsible thing and vote to allow the u.s. to keep paying its bills. every single one of us is going to vote for cloture this afternoon. for months, leader mcconnell and senate republicans have insisted they want a solution to the debt ceiling, but only if democrats do all the work by themselves. we've already presented republicans with numerous opportunities to do what they say they want, including by offering a simple majority vote so democrats can suspend the debt ceiling on our own as republicans have asked, but each time republicans have chosen obstruction and kept us, unfortunately, on a path to default. republican obstruction on the debt ceiling over the last few weeks has been reckless, it's been irresponsible. but nonetheless today republicans will have an opportunity to get exactly what they kept asking for and the first and easiest option is this. republicans can simply get out
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of the way and we can agree to skip the filibuster vote so we can proceed to final passage of this bill. i yield the floor. mr. barrasso: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to keep my remarks and the senate from pennsylvania, senator toomey, be allowed to complete his remarks before the vote. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i come to the floored today to talk about what people in wyoming are talking about every day, and that is rising prices, when they go to the gas station or the grocery store, they are paying more and more. every day since president biden took the oath of office, prices
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have been rising, and people feel the bite in their wallet of these higher prices. and people all across the country and certainly in the state of wyoming have suffered a paycheck cut because the money just doesn't go as far. president biden told us this wouldn't happen. he actually said inflation was transitory. well, president biden may still believe that. yet, after seven months in a row, it doesn't look transitory to most americans. now, economists have actually revised their expectations. their expectations of inflation and they have revised it in ways that we're going to be paying higher prices for longer periods of time. they revised their expectations about economic growth as well. they revised those downward. inflation up, economic growth down. on friday the commerce department said one measure of
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inflation has actually hit the highest that it's been in 30 years. the company's sale force now estimates that costs for christmas shopping will go up by 20 cents for every dollar you would spend on christmas presents. now the store dollar tree has announced that it will start selling items that will cost more than $1. we have ten dollar tree stores in wyoming, they are an important part of our communities, many people in rural areas depend on the dollar store for their needs, and in joe biden's economy, these people are getting hurt the most. so why is it happening? it's because the money supply hasn't increased this fast in 75 years. last year congress spent trillions of dollars to respond to the worst pandemic in our nation's history. actually in a century. with the republican majority in the senate, they passed five
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relief bills, they were all done in a bipartisan, overwhelming majority vote. much of the money still hasn't been spent and then this january democrats took over the white house as well as the senate. got their hands on the nation's credit card and they started swiping it. in march the president signed a $2 trillion spending bill. it was supposed to be about coronavirus, yet only 9% of the money actually went to public health. they cut republicans out of the negotiations completely so much of the new spending went to democrats' favorite groups, to labor unions, union bosses and bankrupt blue states. they put the spending entirely on the federal credit card. prices started going up, yet, democrats haven't learned their lesson. they want to keep spending. they want to spend twice as much
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money as they spent in march and they are also asking for the largest tax increase in 50 years. tax increases also raise prices. last week the white house press secretary made at statement, to me it was the most irrational statement most business owners have heard because she said it is unfair and absurd for companies to raise prices in response to higher taxes. she said it's absurd and unfair for companies to raise prices in response to higher taxes. wealth, it may be unfair but it certainly is not absurd. it is basic arithmetic. when the government raises taxes, the cost of doing business goes up. companies then either have to cut costs or increase their revenue. when democrats raise taxes, it means higher prices, fewer jobs, and in many cases both.
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it's why it's alarming that president biden wants to raise taxes on american energy, energy prices have already gone up. oil yesterday was at a seven or eight-year high, national gas prices have doubled this year. democrats are proposing a new fee on national gas production. according to one estimate, it would cost the economy $9.1 billion and eliminate 90,000 good of paying -- good-paying energy jobs and it would cost more to heat and cool your home and higher energy prices means higher grocery prices, higher retail prices, it may be unfir, according to the -- unfair, according to the white house press secretary, but they are rising because democrats are spending trillions of dollars that we cannot afford. democrats need to learn their
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lesson before it is too late. stop rising taxes. stop cutting in americans' paychecks. stop pouring more fuel on the fire of this nation that is raging across the country. canthank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. toomey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that alexander lapor, an fdic detailee with my staff be granted floor privileges for the remainder of this congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise to address the recent announcement from president biden that he intends to nominate sas whr a ramarolo
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to comptroller of the currency. if she were in fact confirmed, she would head up the agency that is responsible for chartering and regulating financial institutions. so that is to say she would be the head of the primary regulator for america's national banks of which there are very many. i just want to provide this morning a brief introduction, a glimpse into the mindset of this nominee. i will take more time on future occasions to delve more deeply into some of the things she has advocated for and written about that i find extraordinarily disturbing and i think many of my colleagues will as well. let me start with just a few observations. first, little doubt she has been celebrated on the far left for
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promoting ideas that she herself has described as, quote, radical. that's a point we can agree on. these are very, very radical ideas. in fact, i don't think i've ever seen a more radical choice for any regulatory spot in our federal government. i know that is a very sweeping statement to make. i think i can stand by it. there's a lot that's extraordinary and radical here. maybe at the heart of it, she doesn't just want to tighten regulation of banks. that's not what she's advocated for. what she wants to do and i quote, her word, effectively end banks as we know it, end quote. those are words she wrote just last year. this is not ancient history. these are the views she has articulated in writing within a year. she clearly has an aversion to
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anything like free market capitalism and that's in her writing. in an october 2020 paper called, quote, the people's ledger, end quote, she outlined a plan for -- and i quote -- radically reshaping the basic architecture and dynamics of modern finance, end quote. and what this was all about, what she was arguing for in this paper from just last year was really promoting the naturalization of an entire industry, retail banking, basically bring to an end the ability of banks to compete for customers' services and instead nationalize that. a clear socialist idea that we shouldn't have free enterprise system competing for people's business, but rather have the government own it and provide that. specifically she wants the federal reserve to allocate credit and capital and as part
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of the regime, she advocates that the government acting through the fed would actually cut off credit to those deemed, quote, socially suboptimal, end quote. can you imagine? is there something more chilling than the idea that we would abolish retail banking, make it the responsibility of the fed, and then actively require that the fed decides who is socially optimal and who is not and then allocate credit accordingly. this is unbelievable. in a 2012 paper she suggested that a mandate that financial products could only be sold if they're approved in advance by the federal government. there's no freedom to innovate here. there's no responding to customers' wants and needs. there's no competition for providing -- none of that. the government will decide what
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can and cannot be offered. even she admitted that this is, quote, paternalistic and has command and control elements, end quote. at least she acknowledges that's what this is. but it doesn't end there. ms. omarova doesn't just want to nationalize banking. she wants to do that but that's not all. she also wants the banking regulators to run the whole economy. under her plan which she again laid this out in writing. this is in a 2016 paper. the federal reserve would set prices in large sectors of the u.s. economy, those she deems to be, quote, systematically important prices, end quote. that would include she helpfully tells us what would be considered systematically important prices and i quote, widely used fuels, food stuffs, some other raw materials, and wages or salary indices among
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others. so she's openly advocating that the federal government sets wages and prices throughout the economy. does this not -- is this anything like a free enterprise economy? it's unbelievable. in addition to that, citing the desire to, quote, side step debilitating political battles over the federal budget, end quote. let's think about that term. let's unpack that just a bit. debilitating political battles over the federal budget. that sounds to me like congress arguing over spending. arguably the most fundamental responsibility of congress. but in order to side step that, that fundamentally democratic process that follows our constitution, in a 2020 white paper, omarova proposed creating a national investment authority
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to channel both public and private capital to further policies that would be set by an unelected, unaccountable board. so the american people don't get to decide how their tax dollars get allocated by holding members of congress accountable through elections. instead there would be some board that would make all these decisions for us. that's not the only unaccountable body she's proposed to exert control over the private sector. in a 2012 paper, ms. omarova also proposed creating a public interest council. a public interest council. and their purpose would be to use pressure and propaganda tactics to manipulate public opinion against banks and regulators and to, quote, generate mass political support for the actions it considers necessary, end quote. and, quote, build its independent power base.
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i'm almost speechless. it's absolutely -- so you can ask yourself, where would a person even come up with these ideas? how does it even happen that it occurs to someone to think up these things? well, maybe a contributing factor could be if a person grew up in the former soviet union and went to moscow state university and attended there on vladimir lennon academic scholarship. let me be very clear about something. there are lots of wonderful american citizens who were born and raised behind the iron curtain. i totally get that, including in the former soviet union, who have come to this country and they love america as much as anyone i've ever met. i know some of them personally. so i'm not suggesting in any way that growing up behind the iron curtain and attending university in moscow is in any way
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disqualifying. but the attitude a person has about the soviet regime, now that's another matter. so in the case of ms. omarova, in 2019 she tweeted, and i quote, say what you will about the old ussr. there's no gender pay gap there. markets don't always know best, end quote. say would you will about the old ussr. really? there's a lot to say. i'll have a lot to say on another occasion about the old ussr. she followed up with a tweet. she decided to clarify that. here's the tweet she issued afterwards. she said, and i quote, i never claimed women and men were treated absolutely equally in every facet of soviet life, but people's salaries were set by the state in a gender-blind manner and all women got very generous maternity benefits of those things are still a pipe dream in our society. can you imagine?
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ms. omarova clearly knows her views are far outside of the mainstream. how do we know? well, why else would her most recent respect pay have been scrubbed of one particular item that was on her resume as recently as 2017. that item is the thesis that she wrote when she was a student in moscow on her vladimir lenin academic scholarship. the title of the thesis was and i quote, carl marxist economic analysis and the theory of revolution in the capital. end quote. unfortunately, that's all i know about this thesis. this morning i released a letter that i sent to ms. omarova requesting she provide a copy of this paper in the original russian to the committee in time for us to translate it so that we can fully consider her nomination. like most committees, the banking committee requires
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nominees provide copies of any articles or papers they've written and that is very important tool that we use to evaluate a person's thoughts and fitness and temperament and judgment and where they're coming from. i'm looking forward to receiving that paper from her. i will conclude with this, mr. president. in a country as big as ours where we have 330-some million people, i have no doubt that there are some individuals that we can find here and there who would think of the soviet union that brutal, oppressive, totalitarian freedom-suppressing soul-sucking murderous regime that was the soviet union, there must be some people somewhere in america who somehow would compare it favorably to the united states as shocking as
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that is. what has never occurred to me is that a person who thinks that way could possibly be considered to an important, powerful, and prominent position in the federal government. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoc 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 340, sarah a.l. merriam of connecticut to be united states district judge for the district of connecticut 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 sarah a.l. near
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yam of connecticut to be united states district judge for the district of colombia of connecticut shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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er officer the yeas are -- the presiding officer: the yeas are 53, the nays are 47. the motion is agree he had to. the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: i have ten requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority leader and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted.
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the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, from gas stations to grocery stores to utility bills and restaurant checks, the american people are being pummeled by inflation. the cost of everything is going up. last week the commerce department reported that a key indicator of inflation had reached the highest level in three decades, 30 years. the chairman of the federal reserve has said that we are unlikely to turn a corner on this until sometime next year. how he knows that, i don't know. previously he said, well, this inflation would be merely transitory, a passing thing. but it's beginning to look like
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that's not the case. and, clearly, he's mainly guessing. with this as a backdrop, our democratic completion are apparent lay trying to figure -- democratic colleagues are apparently trying to figure out how to inflict even more economic pain on the american people. they spent months negotiating solely among themselves in order to bring about a radical transformation in our country. by spending money on programs we don't need or want. things like permanent welfare for no work requirements, things like tax increases that, contrary to president biden's promise, will hit americans earning less than $400,000 a year. subsidies for millionaires buying electric vehicles that
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most average wage earners can't afford, taxes that will hurt american businesses and help our nation-state competitor china. in a range of so-called free -- they like that word free -- safety net programs that really aren't free at all. now, this isn't critical funding necessary to lead america out of the pandemic, like we did last year on a bipartisan basis. this isn't even designed to revive our struggling economy. i would argue that it would do just the opposite. it would suppress the recovery from the recession that was caused by the pandemic. this is merely a reckless partisan spending spree designed to grow the size of government's role in our daily lives.
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in recent weeks i've heard from more than 50,000 of my constituents. that's a lot -- about one absurd example of government overreach proposed by the administration and which is part of the reconciliation bill that's now sitting in a front of the house of representatives. now, the i.r.s. already knows how much money you make, but now the biden administration wants to know how they spend it, too. this isn't a safeguard to stop illicit activity like money laundering or tax fraud. that already exists. any taxpayer that receives a transfer of $10,000 or more in a single transaction has to report that to the i.r.s. but what our democratic colleagues want to do is to invade the privacy of everyday americans who rarely make five-digit transactions. so tucked in the president's
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budget is a new i.r.s. reporting requirement with a much lower threshold -- $600. if you use your bank account to spend or receive more than $600 in a year's time, our democratic colleagues think that should be reported to the i.r.s. so if you're writing a check for your mortgage or your rent or maybe you're buying a new washer or dryer or refrigerator, the i.r.s. wants to know that you're spending that money. this is an agency that's already been plagued by scandals and has hardly been a responsible steward of personal financial data. earlier this year, an unknown source within the i.r.s. leaked more than 15 years' worth of personal taxpayer information to journalists, and we all remember the i.r.s. targeting conservative-leaning groups during the obama administration. if the i.r.s. is given even more
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personal financial data, literally conducting surveillance on the american people, the trove of information that could be abused gets a lot bigger. and if democrats want to give the i.r.s. more manpower to sift through all of this by doubling the size of the agency, adding to an army of internal revenue agents out searching for more revenue with which to grow the government. so instead of a chicken in every pot, every household will get an audit. this is, i submit, a fundamental attack on the privacy and financial freedom of everyday americans and puts all americans' data at risk of being hacked or leaked. it also places a huge new burden on our community banks and credit unions, having to organize and transmit all this additional data to the i.r.s. in a secure way is no easy task.
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does the administration plan to help local banks, credit unions do this? i doubt it. it's just going to add to her to overhead and to their administrative burdens. our democratic colleagues also want to reinstate the so-called salt deduction which allows wealthy individuals in blue states -- that's no coincidence -- pay less in taxes. according to the liberal tax policy center, 93% of those making a million dollars or more would get a tax break. so much for our democratic colleagues' rhetoric about millionaires and billionaires getting a tax break. they want to make sure each one of them gets about a $48,000 tax cut under their proposal. this isn't an attempt for those who are struggling to make ends meet. it's a financial lifeline for
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millionaires and billionaires. this type of l legislation our colleagues are trying to pass includes a massive ill-conceived tax plan of government overreach, irresponsible spending, and radical policies that put an unnecessary burden on beleagured american workers and families. earlier this year our democratic friends charged nearly $2 trillion to the taxpayer credit card in a party-line vote. unlike the covid-19 relief bills we passed last year, virtually unanimously one after the other, when the biden administration came into office, the first thing they did is spend $2 trillion in borrowed money, only 10% of which was related to covid-19. so they did that without any republican help. now they're trying to figure out how to go an even bigger spending blowout, once again
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all alone. but they think upping the credit limit should be a bipartisan task. our friends across the aisle have talked about how historically lifting the debt ceiling has been a bipartisan endeavor, but they failed to mention that so has spending. there's never been a time in our country's history when one party has spent trillions of dollars and aspires to spend trillions of dollars more without the support of a single person on the other side of the aisle. why would republicans stroat -- vote to increase the debt limit and sign off on this reckless spending? if someone stole your credit card and ran up the bill, would you up your own credit limit so they could continue shopping? no way, but that's exactly what democrats are asking republicans to do by upping the debt limit. they have the votes, they have a process by which they can raise the debt limit, and they
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need to do it before we risk a default according to the timeline given to us by secretary yellen. so our democratic colleagues have chosen to light taxpayer dollars on fire, but we're not going to hand them another match. we've been clear on that point since at least july. unsurprisingly, our friends on the other side don't like this plan. they see the dangers in continuing to drive up the debt without any action to address the root causes, and they want to have republicans to share the blame. but what needs to happen, mr. president, is some accountability, because accountability will bring with it some fiscal responsibility. but as long as our democratic colleagues can continue to spend trillions of dollars in borrowed money on their reckless
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tax-and-spending spree and have us join them in raising the debt limit, then no one, no voter, no taxpayer could actually know who's to blame. well, if democrats want to spend alone, they have to up the debt ceiling alone too. and we know they have the tools and the votes to do it. but rather than addressing this problem in july or august or september, our democratic colleagues have waited until the last minute and march us closer and closer to a debt crisis. they have had the time to up the debt limit on their own, and they have had the means to do it. so they need to stop playing chicken with an economic crisis and do what they know needs to be done. so far democrats have not held back by -- have not been held back by their razor-thin majority. it didn't stop them from spending $2 trillion of borrowed
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money at the beginning of this year. it hadn't slowed their plans to try to spend trillions more this fall. and now it shouldn't stop them from increasing the debt limit on their own so the american people can see who's responsible and hold those elected officials accountable in the 2022 election. the democratic majority in the senate has embraced a go-it-alone attitude on legislating all year, and these are just some of the examples of what that has produced -- tax increases on the middle class, car subsidies for millionaires, taxes that hurt american businesses and american jobs but actually help china, providing so-called free taxpayer-funded social safety net programs to try to turn the united states into a european welfare state, and increased i.r.s. surveillance of the everyday
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finances of average americans, and i mention finally tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. so now is the time to reap what our democratic colleagues have sown, and i hope they will act sooner rather than later. i yield the floor and i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: does the senator withhold his request? mr. cornyn: mr. president, i would withhold that noting of absence of a quorum.
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the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: mr. president, shortly i will be making a unanimous consent request to confirm the nomination of ms.
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ms. karen hedlund to be a member of the surface transportation board. ms. hedlund served as deputy administrator of the railroad association. before that chief counsel of the federal highway administration. she has spent most of her career in the development and financing of infrastructure projects across the united states, including improvements to the national freight rail system. she is well qualified to be a member of the surface transportation board, which we know is so critical to the movement of freight, and her appointment comes at a time when there are many important issues and decisions before the board. ms. hedlund was nominated by the president in april. she received bipartisan approval in the commerce committee now over two months ago, and it is time for the full senate to do the same. so i ask unanimous consent that
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the senate proceed to the following nomination -- calendar number 315, karen jean hedlund, to be a member of the surface transportation board for a term expiring december 31, 2025. i further ask unanimous consent that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate, and that no further motions be in order to the nomination, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: reserving the right to object. article 2 of the constitution gives this body some important responsibilities, including a responsibility to provide advice and consent on officers of the united states. we have to confirm people after
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they have been nominated by the president. as a member of the senate, i take this responsibility seriously, and i do my due diligence. once a nominee has been submitted by the president for consideration by the senate. i've done that here. in the process of that due diligence process with this nominee, i submitted a number of written questions to ms. hedlund in order to develop a better understanding of how she would respond to certain issues that are directly relevant to the position for which she is seeking confirmation on the surface transportation board. specifically, i asked her how she would approach one cost-benefit analysis in proposed regulations. two, the scope of s.t.b.'s rulemaking authority. three, how she would approach consideration of rate regulations, rate caps or price controls. four, her definition of the public interest, which is a key term that comes up as used in
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s.t.b. proceedings. five, how she would balance amtrak access to the freight rail network with reliable freight service. and six, how she would approach the carrying out of the nepa process, including the definitions behind the key regulatory terms at issue. these are all issues that are really relevant to the s.t.b. these are the kinds of questions that deal with the kinds of things she would do if confirmed as a member of the s.t.b. needless to say, i was disappointed with my responses. some of the answers avoided answering my question. some of the answers appeared to be purposely vague. some refused even directly to answer the question. so for these reasons, i voted against ms. hedlund's nomination before the commerce committee, and my position has not changed since that vote took place.
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look, i -- i'm not comfortable granting my consent today, and i will not be until i have the information and more thorough responsive answers to my reasonable questions. and so for these reasons, mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. baldwin: i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: quorum
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call: quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. ernst: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of the u.s. military offensive in afghanistan against the taliban and al qaeda in response to their ruthless attack on america. as a result of our nation's resolve and the sacrifice and service of our brave men and women over the past two decades, osama bin laden is dead and our homeland has been guarded against additional large-scale terror attacks. up until president joe biden's sloppy and poorly planned exit from afghanistan, al qaeda and
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the taliban were on the run. but today due to the decisions of president biden, the radical extremists that sponsored osama bin laden and partnered with al qaeda, who are responsible for the deadliest terror attack in history are back in power. how did we get here? it became apparent at last week's armed services hearing after i questioned our top military leaders that president biden made a completely unconditional withdrawal. the president simply looked at the calendar and saw what he thought would be an easy, split cal victory and -- easy political victory and decided we would be out of afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. another fact that became clear
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after the hearing last week is that president biden casually dismissed the sound advice of his own military leaders. he discounted the tactical and strategic value of keeping a small force in place to defeat the terrorists. then to cover for those mis mistakes, president biden misled the public about the advice that he was given and refused to take. so let's be clear about what happened as a result of the president ignoring his own general's recommendations. he abandoned american citizens behind enemy lines, left strong
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allies and partners to fend for themselves against the taliban, tarnished america's reputation, and created the conditions that led to the devastating loss of 13 brave american service members. he stubbornly led our country into the most disastrous diplomatic and military debacle in modern history. those now in control of afghanistan are a who's who of international terrorists. nearly half of the members of the new afghan government are on the u.n. security council's terrorism blacklist. that's the u.n., folks, their terrorism blacklist, including the acting prime minister and both of his deputies.
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at least two principal members of the haqqani network which is a u.s.-designated foreign terrorist organization are in the highest positions of the taliban's new government. the minister of the interior is on the f.b.i.'s most wanted l list. his uncle, the minister of refugees is designated a terrorist by our government. together the u.s. government values the reward for their arrests at $15 million. the biden doctrine put america's most wanted back in charge of a terrorist training ground and increased the risk of attacks against our homeland.
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and we didn't leave the terrorists empty-handed either. in our rush for the exits, we left tens of billions of dollars worth of military weapons and gear behind, which is now in the hands of the enemy. we can expect to encounter this tactical equipment again on the battlefield, but our own equipment being used against us. here are just a few numbers. 600,000 weapons. 22,000 humvees. and more than 200 aircraft. folks, we left america's most wanted with america's best weapons. but it's not just weapons and military capabilities.
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president joe biden left behind our own citizens stranded in a foreign country governed by known terrorists. and as much as the administration wants to act like this is all in the past and we've closed the book on afghanistan, it's just not reality. right now we have american citizens stranded in afgha afghanistan. let that sink in for just a moment, folks. americans and our afghan partners who worked with us over the past two decades, interpreters and translators, they're all sitting ducks for the taliban. when we ask for an accurate
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accounting of who and how many are still left, the pentagon points the finger at the state department who then goes radio silent. the administration is downplaying the evils of the taliban and its refusal to state hard facts is stunning. the praise from the state department and white house calling the taliban businesslike and professional would be comical if it wasn't so horrifying. if using kabul's soccer stadiums to publicly execute dissidents, overseeing the legal rape of young girls through child marriage, and settling disputes
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by chopping offhands and feet -- off hands and feet is how the taliban does business, then president biden is right, they are truly pros. general mark milley admitted the exit was -- in quotes -- a strategic failure in his testimony last week. folks, that's an understatement. president biden and his top foreign policy adviser secretary of state antony blinken have serially failed to own up to this fiasco. someone must take responsibility for this colossal failure. as we uncovered again last week, president biden's decisions led us here right back where we began. both general mckenzie and general milley testified last
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week al qaeda is still at war with us, and within the year they could be reconstituted with aspirations to attack the u.s. during joe biden's campaign, he promised a return to normalcy. little did we know that meant a return to vulnerability. and in america that is less safe from terrorists than attacked our homeland 20 years ago. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor.
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ms. ernst: 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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mrs. fischer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: thank you, mr. president. are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mrs. fischer: i would icle that it be vitiated, please. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. fischer: thank you.
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on august 16, as everything was collapsing in afghanistan, president biden said, quote, we've developed counterterrorism over the horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the united states and the region and to act quickly and decisively, if needed, end quote. he was stating that we don't have to have an on-the-ground presence in afghanistan to keep americans safe and that we can rely instead on over-the-horizon strikes where we use drones and others assets to take out terrorists from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. since then, we've learned that the president wasn't being truthful. at the senate armed services committee's open hearing on afghanistan's disaster, centcom
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commander kenneth mackenzie testified on the immense challenges we face add in preventing groups like sis and al qaeda from attack ago us here at home. when president biden seems to conveniently ignore is that a successful over-the-horizon counterterrorism strategy requires more than just the ability to hit targets across long distances. we also have to be able to identify targets. we have to be able to locate targets, and we have to be able to reach those targets. to do this effectively, we first need a u.s. presence in the region or at least a reliable on-the-ground partner there. without that, our ability to
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gather the intelligence necessary to pick the right targets is severely degraded. we saw the tragic consequences of acting on incomplete intelligence on august 29, when a drone strike mistakenly killed 10 innocent afghans, including seven children, and an aide worker with ties to the united states. second, we need a reliable way to actually get to the target. president biden likes comparing afghanistan to countries like yemen and syria, but there's a huge difference between these countries. afghanistan is landlocked, and our drones can't just fly over the ocean to get there, like they can to syria and to yemen. when it comes to afghanistan, our drones have to cross over other countries on the way, and
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those countries are not obligated to allow us to use their airspace. general mckenzie confirmed to me during our hearing that because we have withdrawn from afghanistan, we need to rely on pakistan's airspace if we want to reach targets like isis-k or al qaeda. and that should concern every american. pakistan historically is the taliban's fiercest international supporter, and they could revoke our access at any point. and if they do, we would need to ask china, iran, or central asian nations with close ties to russia for permission to use their airspace or even their bases in order to conduct counterterrorism operations.
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when i asked about this during the sasc hearing, secretary austin confirmed recent reports that the u.s. military, the finest fighting force in the world, that they've had conversations with russia about using their bases in central ashouldn't nations on afghanistan's northern border. secretary austin insisted that we haven't asked for russia's permission to use these bases a. we're simply considering an offer that they made. but if we have to consider an offer from the kremlin just to keep al qaeda from surging back in afghanistan, president biden hasn't put america on a very strong footing. the bottom line is that our chaotic exit from afghanistan has made it much, much harder
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for the united states military to keep the american people safe from terrorists. chairman of the joint chiefs, general milley, said during last week's hearing that presidents are elected to make strategic decisions. he also told us that afghanistan withdrawal was a strategic failure. and he was right. the way things stand today, we are at risk of re-creating the same conditions that existed before 9/11. the taliban are running things in kabul, and given their long-standing partnership with al qaeda, it is naive to expect that they would prevent these terrorists from operating freely.
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anyone who says that we are safer today than we were 20 years ago is getting ahead of themselves. and that goes for president biden, too. he needs to be more honest about what his decision to leave afghanistan, no matter the cost, means for our nation's security. real leaders take responsibility for their mistakes. they do not make excuses for them. and, unfortunately, that is all we have heard from the president so far. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i ask to be recognized. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, over the past -- first of all, let me just agree with the senator from nebraska. she's exactly on target here.
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this is a problem, that we're in -- i've said several times, i cannot remember a time that we have not been at a greater threat than we are today. over the past two weeks, to just kind of let you know where we are now, the armed services committee held two classified sessions and two open hearings on afghanistan. that's the committee that made these, actually had these in their schedule. these are really eye openers, and i think we have a lot of time to uncover about what happened and where we go from here. first, the -- we heard from general miller, the commander on the ground in afghanistan through july. he went up through july peter. then we heard from the pentagon's top policy official. in open testimony, we heard from secretary of defense
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austin, the president's top military advisor, general milley; general mckenzie who is in charge of the command that oversees the middle. we also heard from two outside experts with decades of experience following afghanistan and the region. here's what we learned. there are actually seven things that we learned. these are very significant. one, the first, we learned that top military leaders advised president biden to keep at least 2,500 troops. now the president came out and said that wasn't true, and yet every military person who's offered testimony has said, yes, that's exactly true. they all recommended to president biden to keep at least 2,500 troops in afghanistan. if not, then you know what results are coming with that and you know what we're living with
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today. this advice goes dowrnt -- counter to what president biden told the american people in august. he said his generals did not advise him to leave troops there. now we know that that's just not true and we know that he said that and he misled the american people. this is a very significant point. the second thing out of seven, we learned that al qaeda was never gone from afghanistan. as biden says, they were there all along, and they were a big part of the taliban's victory. now they're focused on external operations. al qaeda and isis could be able to strike american soil as soon as a year from now. that's striking us on our soil, here in america. even worse, the withdrawal of afghanistan was a shot of adrenaline in the arm of the radical islamic terrorists everywhere.
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they're now having a victory to point to. the third thing, we learned that by completely withdrawing from afghanistan, we nearly zeroed out our capabilities to strike those same terrorist organizations. we understand this. not many people would disagree with this. general mckenzie said he was not confident that the united states would be able to prevent al qaeda or isis from using afghanistan as a launching pad for terrorist activity, and here's why -- and this is important. the administration isn't talking about this. afghanistan poses a unique set of challenges. ifts -- it's landlocked. we don't have any bases nearby. this was driven home by our senator a few minutes ago, from nebraska. our generals confirmed that it's exactly, extremely difficult
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and costly to get the intelligence and conduct the types of operation the president said he would do. this is -- this came from all of the military leaders. let's not forget we still have killed the terrorists directly responsible -- have not killed the terrorists directly responsible for the attack that killed 13 united states service members. just imagine that. they're still out there. president biden decided to put the taliban in charge, hoping they'd change. the first thing they did was broadcast a video on afghan national tv saying the united states deserved the 9/11 attacks. it turns out that the taliban is the old taliban. they haven't really changed a bit. what this means is that afghanistan is now the safest place in the world for radical islamic terrorism. we're at greater risk, and
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we're less safe. the fourth thing out of seven, we learned -- and i quote general mckenzie directly -- the war on terror is not over and the war in afghanistan is not over either. but president biden told the american people that, and told the whole world that the war is over. we know better than that. evidently the terrorists didn't get the memo, as general milley put it. al qaeda is still at war with us and never has not been. number five, we learned without a shadow of doubt that our allies and partners and our adversaries too, that they are questioning our credibility and resolve. in fact, general milley said our credibility has been damaged , at least the the week's hearing our experts confirmed that president biden's botched withdrawal has caused
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our allies to question our ability to stick to our strategies and policies. and number six, we learned that our military leaders would not call president biden's evacuation operation an extraordinary success like he did. general milley called it a strategic failure. now i want to be clear, this wasn't a failure on the part of our troops. our troops served admirably. they rescued 120,000 people. they did what they were told to do. their commander in chief led them astray. as dr. vali nassar said just the other day, he told the committee, last thursday, the end game in afghanistan was not our finest moment. that is an understatement.
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that is someone twieg -- trying to figure out some way what went on. lastly, we learned that president biden simply ignored the conditions-based approach. one thing i'll say about the previous approach, people have confused what our previous president said. he had a condition base approached and the center was that we would leave troops there, troops there to protect americans. we know right now how many americans are there. so we learned that president biden simply ignored the conditions-based approach. president biden could have easily said, quote, the taliban has not met our conditions. we're going to stay in afghanistan and ensure no terrorists are able to hit us. and that's what his military advisors recommended that he say, and he didn't do that. in fact, president biden
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ignored the conditions on the ground and instead decided to accept a significant amount of strategic risk. that means the united states is less safe today and our credibility for the future is shot through. and that's what his decision means. we lost credibility because we left americans and our afghan allies behind. no one will believe what america says after this. i'm not sure why they should. i can't think of a time in history that this has happened. this is something that just, was brand-new. one thing we didn't get clear answers on, despite the repeated bipartisan request, exactly how many americans and afghan partners did we leave behind and what's going to happen to them. d.o.d. pointed out to the state department and vice versa, and that's just unacceptable. we don't know how many people we left behind.
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you know, the secretary actually made a statement approximating at one time between 300 and 400 and 500, and the next approximation was closer to 10,000. we don't really know that. it's bad enough that we leave them behind, but we don't know how many people we leave. this is why i'm going to continue calling for more hearings until we get them. we've got to get the answers to this. this isn't going to go away. why does all of this matter? america is less safe than we were before because of president biden's decisions. six years ago former secretary of defense robert gates said, quote, i think biden has been wrong on every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades. america is now more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. we all understand that, and the whole world understands that. and we have no plan to meet that
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threat. we also have to think about what this means for our biggest challenge, and that is of course our challengers are china, russia, north korea, iran. they're all celebrating now. china is engaged in an historic nuclear build-up, one that we've never seen anything like before. russia just conducted its largest military exercise in four decades. they are watching this debacle and thinking how weak america looks. you know, if president biden can't get counterterrorism right, how can he, his administration put together a strategy to confront china and russia? unfortunately, the strategic failure of our afghanistan exit is encouraging our adversaries to test us. the exact opposite of deterrence. and that's what i'm worried about now. i'm more worried about it after last week.
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that's why i'm going to keep fighting for more open hearings for the american people and our adversaries and our enemies and our friends will understand what it's all about, and this will be the real america, not what they experienced recently. that's why i continue to push for adequate defense funding, to make sure that we prioritize nuclear modernization and to pass this year's ndaa as soon as we can get it to the floor. by the way, this is the one bill that i have every expectation we will get. the ndaa, national defense authorization act, is one that we have passed for 61 consecutive years. i have every expectation that we will do it now. i don't like the idea that the democrats are putting this off as if there is a threat out there. i don't think that's going to happen. but that's why we've got to keep getting to the bottom of this. we've taken some big hits, some big hits out there, and we've got to recover. okay?
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with that, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. cramer: i first associate myself with all of the words from the ranking republican from the armed services committee, senator inhofe. very well said, senator, and i agree wholeheartedly and express my profound disappointment in president biden's handling of the botched withdrawal from afghanistan. madam president, the american people, and certainly my colleague -- my constituents in north dakota are upset and they have every right to be. for weeks we've been inundated with horrifying stories of americans and our allies fleeing for their lives. paired with disturbing videos out of afghanistan as was -- as
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it was taken over by the taliban. yet somehow, somehow president biden has the audacity to call the withdrawal a, quote, extraordinary success. well, president biden's wrong. it was not an extraordinary success. the withdrawal was an abject failure, and president biden bears all of the responsibility for it. and that is to say he is the reason that it was an abject failure, because our heroes in uniform did an incredible job against very difficult odds. and, frankly, with very poor leadership coming from the oval office. the reality is the pred ms. led, -- the president misled the american people to justify his decision and down play his failures. now our terrorists are emboldened, allies are questioning the united states resolve, and the united states is less safe because of it. the reality is his deceitful
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rhetoric really began several months ago. in august he led us to believe our military leaders were united in their support of his withdrawal plans. like many of my colleagues, i expressed concerns at the time when his plans were first announced and urged him to follow a conditions-based withdrawal. he did not. and to rationalize his choices, he worked to convince us the most senior leaders in the pentagon were standing behind him, agreed with him. they gave him this advice, he said. and as we've heard from multiple generals, that is simply not true. the president also misled us about the conditions on the ground in afghanistan. in an august speech, he said the afghan military force had, quote, 300,000 strong and incredibly well equipped fighters. the special inspector general for afghanistan said in a report that's not true. instead of the 300,000 members of the afghan national defense
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and security forces, only 182,000 of them were afghan national army members. and the rest were members of the afghan national police. well, madam president, when i discuss the numbers of service members in our armed forces, i don't include the number of police officers or even f.b.i. agents. that would be inaccurate at best and deceitful at worst. yet here the president is doing exactly that. president biden used that 300,000 number to claim the afghan government could defend itself, and he later tried to say no one could predict their forces would fall so quickly. was he being dishonest with the american people or was he just not being given accurate information by his senior leadership about the conditions there? well, neither ignorance nor incompetence are very good -- are a very good answer. later in the month when it became clear the withdrawal was going to be a failure, president
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biden inassisted the united states would get all americans who wanted to leave out of afghanistan. well, he didn't. he failed. and no one, including him, and least of all him, wants to take responsibility. the state department says, you know, talk to the defense department. the defense department says talk to the state department. but no one is taking responsibility. i say the buck stops in the oval office with the president who let that happen and who is letting his team dodge taking responsibility, all while americans fear for their lives and the -- in a country run by terrorists and the terrorist sympathizers. near the end of august, after 13 brave u.s. military members were killed in an isis terrorist attack during the botched withdrawal, president biden rushed to release a statement, taking credit for this retaliatory drone strike. he said, quote, i said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our groups and innocent civilians in kabul, and
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we have, he said. well, except he hadn't. it was later revealed as we know that the strike did not take out any isis leaders. in fact, it took out ten civilians, including seven children. but since then, the president has said nothing. he didn't say anything about this horrifying revelation when it was clear that he misled the american people in the wake of the strike. our military leaders did not agree with the withdrawal plans. the afghan army was not prepared to defend itself. we did not get every american out of the country. justice was not delivered to isis-k or its leaders after it killed 13 american heroes. and what now, madam president? what do we have to show for it? well, america is less safe than it was when president biden became president. as our top military leaders testified, in yet another contradiction of president biden's claims, al qaeda is
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alive in afghanistan and looks to carry out a strike right here on american soil. how are we supposed to stop it? our military leaders don't have faith in the over the horizon strategy that president biden repeatedly touts to give us reliable information. who's going to help us? our strongest allies and partners and longest standing friends both distance themselves from us amid this botched withdrawal. this, madam president, all of us is what president biden called an extraordinary success. well, it is an extraordinary embarrassment is what it is. the american people are smart enough to not fall for such an obvious attempt to hide the truth from them. that's why we on the armed services committee are going to continue investigating the withdrawal and holding the commander in chief accountable for his poor judgment and actions, even if he won't take the responsibility. that's what our constituents expect and deserve, and i urge my colleagues to join in
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supporting those efforts. and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mrs. mrs. blackburn: thank you, madam president. mrs. blackburn: tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of operation enduring freedom and the combat operations in afghanistan. it's a benchmark that makes what has happened on the ground during and since our disastrous withdrawal from kabul all the more disgusting. over the past two months, we have listened in disbelief as mouthpieces at the state pentagon, the -- the state department, the pentagon, the white house talked about the taliban in the same way they would have addressed a legitimate governing body. last week, during a hearing before the armed services committee, we saw our civilian and military leaders evade
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responsibility for the violence, death, chaos that has occurred on their watch. but we also listened closely as they revealed appalling inconsistencies between the spin from the white house and the reality of the situation on the ground. here is the reality. afghanistan is under the control of terrorists. these terrorists have long-standing ties with al qaeda and the hakani network, and those relationships aren't going to take a back seat now that the taliban is in charge of the entire country. this was no ordinary transfer of power. afghanistan isn't germany or france for the united states, and we shouldn't pretend that it is, because it's impossible to
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act as a legitimate government when your goal is not to govern but your goal is to manipulate through acts of terror. this is what the taliban is doing, and it is not happening in secret. the cameras are rolling. the world is watching. inclusivity clearly isn't a priority as much as the white house would like to make out that it is. the taliban cleared out the women's affairs ministry and replaced it with, and i quote, ministry for preaching and guidance and the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice. end quote. the taliban's desire to curry favor with china has uighurs living in afghanistan running scared. afghanistan was a haven for these people during the cultural
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revolution, and now the families of those who fled are afraid that the taliban is going to round them up. yes, round up the uighur muslims and sell them -- that right -- sell them to the chinese communist party in exchange for economic gain. fears that the taliban would weaponize access to the internet became reality before the last american left the country. they are well on their way to creating a tightly controlled online cesspool of dangerous antiwestern propaganda. meanwhile, the afghan economy is in the gutter. the taliban's military campaign shut down basic commerce in much of the country, making food shortages worse and putting a million children, a million
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children at risk of starvation and death. health care infrastructure is collapsing, and now the afghan people are facing the possibility of blackouts because the taliban can't be bothered to figure out how they are going to pay the electric bill. and what intel we do have suggest that al qaeda will use this chaos void left by biden's disastrous withdrawal to rebuild their operations. that's right. al qaeda is present in afghanistan. madam president, i think it's important to understand that all of this violence and disorder barely scratches the surface of what the taliban is capable of instigating. on august 20, president biden stated with absolute certainty -- and i quote -- i
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have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world, end quote. during last week's hearing, general milley disagreed with that assessment. i disagree with that assessment, as do many tennesseans that i talk with when i'm home every weekend. they understand that operation enduring freedom may have come to an end but that the world is still watching to see how the united states of america is going to respond to one of the most antiequality, antipeace, antifreedom organizations on the face of the earth. our actions and our reactions will inform those from the rest of the world, and it's time for the biden administration to
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recognize that and to act accordingly. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that senator rounds and i be allowed to speak for five minutes each before the vote. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: thank you, madam president. and it gives me no pleasure to stand on the senate floor today and -- and talk about president biden's ill-advised and chaotic withdrawal. to talk about the consequences for the people of afghanistan who trusted us and who took our side for 20 years and to talk about the tremendous harm it has done to america's reputation. the president, i think, believes that the cost of this debacle has been only a few weeks of bad press, but i think he's sadly
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wrong. perhaps the president is banking on the american people forgetting that the disaster took place on his watch, but it turns out, madam president, this is a disaster of historic proportions. we will be reeling from this debacle for years and decades to come. the president may try to change the subject, but the cold truth is that our nation will be paying the price when we are dead and gone and these pages are in a position of senior leadership in this country. last week, my colleagues and i on the armed services committee heard directly from our nation's top military leaders who had been advising the president on afghanistan. their testimonies made clear what we had known all along, that president biden not only ignored their advice, which he has the power to do as commander
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in chief of the armed forces, but that he didn't misrepresent that advice to the american people. in a national tv interview, when asked whether the top military advisors had recommended leaving a small troop presence behind to keep a lid on the situation, which would have kept all hell from breaking loose, the president insisted that no one to his knowledge had made that recommendation. madam president, we know that statement by joe biden was not true. the president got good advice and then incredibly pled ignorance. he also got good advice from democrats. and i would point out my colleague from rhode island
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serves the white house. when this was first broached at an open meeting and the administration was explaining what was going to take place, senator whitehouse said this sounds like it's going to be a lot like the fall of saigon in april of 1974. senator whitehouse, as the son of a foreign service officer, had an all-too-close recollection of the disaster that occurred in saigon back in the 1970's. and he warned the administration officials that this might happen again, and yet the president said no one, to his knowledge, made this recommendation or gave these warnings. this is a president who promised to shoot straight with the american people, who said in february, quote, you can handle anything as long as you are told the truth. i wish the president actually believed that and subscribed to
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that and lived by that. the american people can handle the truth, and they need to be told the truth. here is one bit of hard truth from the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general milley. our exit from afghanistan was a, quote, strategic failure, unquote. from the chairman of the joint chiefs. it has caused, quote, damage, unquote, to america's credibility. that from the chairman of the joint chiefs. i appreciate him leveling with the committee, leveling with the american people. that daniel was on full display this past weekend when the former afghan ambassador, adella ross, was asked by axios, do you still trust the united states? her answer was simple, bleak, and understandable. no. sorry. that was her answer.
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no. sorry. she does not trust the united states any more. this loss of trust extends far beyond afghanistan. as general milley noted -- and i quote again -- our credibility with our allies and partners around the world and with adversaries is being intensely reviewed by them. and he said, yes, damage is the correct word. simply put, when we abandon our friends, our partners around the world start to wonder if they can trust us, if we'll have their backs. this hurts us with the ability to cooperate with our allies to deter threats and to provide security for the american people and it embold ins our adversaries to act more aggressively. we have seen this from china in the past week.
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china has been signaling to twawn by -- taiwan by ramping up their air missions. they have been signaling to taiwan that america is -- chinese media wasted no time saying that we would abandon friends in taiwan if and when china invades that country. a matter of concern. will this embolden iran? terrorist groups in pakistan who support the taliban and remain a serious concern. but perhaps the worst breach of trust in this dark chapter was between our government and our own people. during the withdrawal, president biden assured us on national television, and i quote the president's grammar, if there's american citizens left in afghanistan, we're going to stay
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to get them all out. if there's american citizens left in afghanistan, we're going to stay to get them all out. days later, that promise went out the window. the president dismissed those americans staying by saying that many of them wanted to stay in afghanistan. madam president, this repeated pattern of broken promises and failure to own these decisions will only further weaken our country, our alliances and our national security. sadly, we must get about the business of rehabilitating our reputation with our allies and the way our enemies and adversaries look at us. i stand with my colleagues today who are committed to holding this administration accountable. thank you, madam president. mr. rounds: madam president. the presiding officer: the
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senator from south dakota. mr. rounds: thank you, madam president. tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the day that american invaded afghanistan. the united states military conducted its first strike on the terrorists responsible for attacking our nation on 9/11. as president bush said that was a mission america did not ask for but would fulfill. for the last two decades brave men and women put on the uniform to fight terrorists in the name of freedom. we were a beacon of hope in a nation of chaos, our presence made a difference. as i traveled in my home state of south dakota, i heard from many people who were disturbed by the events that unfolded in the final days of afghanistan. i share their frustrations. together we watched the taliban
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forcefully regain control of a country that we worked to keep free from terrorist groups. we watched the united states diminish on the world stage -- we watched civilians hopelessly cling to the wings of aircraft in desperate hope of escape and we watched 13 brave men and women in uniform lose their lives while helping others seek freedom. as we mourn the loss of their lives, we recognize and appreciate their service to our nation. we also remember all those who fought by our side for 20 years, many of whom remain trapped in afghanistan. a zen of south dakota -- citizen of south dakota, brandy rosen, worked as a contractor in afghanistan. that's where she met her
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interpreter. her interpreter served with the highest distinction, often putting himself in harm's way to aid and protect americans and his fellow afghans. on one such occasion brandy's interpreter discovered a contractor who died in an accident outside of kabul. he returned the contractor's body as well as sensitive equipment and documents to the united states embassy. that took courage. brandy returned to the united states but she stayed in contact with her interpreter. when afghanistan began to fall to the taliban, she knew that she needed to do all she could to help him get out safely. that's when brandy called us and ask if we could help him escape the clutches of the taliban. for weeks our office worked relentlessly to move his application for a visa at the state department.
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our work was ultimately successful from an administrative standpoint, but the overall mission was a failure. bhiel we had -- while we had done all we could to help the interpreter receive his visa, our forces had exited before he could get on a plane to safely -- to safety because of the president's date in certain which he set for withdrawal. today this interpreter remains in hiding in afghanistan. if he is found by the taliban, his fate will certainly be sealed. we all know there are no easy answers when it comes to afghanistan, but there was clearly a wrong one. for months we had warned of the perils of making an arbitrary decision based on the calendar as opposed to an assessment of the conditions on the ground and we weren't alone. as the only republican member of both the armed services and
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foreign relations committee, i've had the opportunity these past two weeks to hear from the senior military officers who advised president biden, general milley, secretary austin and general mckenzie. their message to the president was clear, a withdrawal on a date uncertain would lead to the fall of the afghanistan. despite the best advice in the world, president biden decided to use his own judgment and he made the wrong decision. his directive to withdraw on a date certain without regard to conditions on the ground, needlessly put american soldiers in harm's way and forced our military to undertake an assignment which they simply could not totally complete. our military simply ran out of time. they could not get all of our americans out and they could not
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get all of our afghan allies out, including brandy's interpreter. but it didn't have to end this way. our military leaders offered the president the correct path forward. their commander in chief failed them. lately the president has blamed a lot of people for his failure, this includes the afghan security forces and his own generals whom he falsely claimed advised him to make this decision. but this does not fall on any of them. president biden owns this debacle and history will not judge him kindly. because of hisserror al qaeda -- error, al qaeda has a breeding ground. afghanistan is less safe, the world is less safe. i attended 31 funerals for south
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dakotans who fought against terror. while freedom may not endure in afghanistan today, for 20 years you, you veterans, you protected our nation and kept the fight away from our doorstep. your service was not in vain. your sacrifice made a difference. you represent the best of our country and your nation is grateful. please, always remember it is not the politician who protects our right to vote. it is not the journalist who protects our freedom of speech and it is not the preacher who protects our freedom of religion. all of our freedoms are defended and protected generation after generation by the men and women who put on the uniform of the united states of america. we are grateful to you for your sacrifice and your service.
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may god continue to bless all of you veterans and may the good lord continue to bless these united states of america. thank you, madam president. i yield. the presiding officer: under the previous order, 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: have all senators voted? does any senator wish to change his or her vote?
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if not, the yeas are 54, the nays are 46. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table. the president immediately be notified of the senate's actions and the senate will resume legislative session. mr. heinrich: madam president. the presiding officer: the senior senator from new mexico. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent that the senate recess subject to the call of the chair. the presiding officer: is it there objection -- is there objection? without objection, the senate stands in recess subject to the call of the chair

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