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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  November 15, 2021 3:00pm-7:08pm EST

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commitment to bring live coverage of congress. senate lawmakers continue the debate of ramp steel to be assistant treasury for financial institutions. set for 5:30 p.m. eastern to advance the nominee. now, live coverage from the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray.. let us pray.
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eternal spirit, who honors those whose walk is blameless, we praise you for being with us this day. lord, you have embraced our nation as a worthy possession, providing us with protection when we need it most. sustain our lawmakers as they seek to do your will. empower them to see you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly this day and always. may they look to you for guidance, claiming your promise to direct their steps. in challenging seasons, give them the wisdom to lift their eyes to you, receiving your grace and
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mercy. most holy god, thank you for your love and faithfulness. we pray in your great name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in pledging allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, november 15, 2021.
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to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable mazie hirono, a senator from the state of hawaii, 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. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of treasury, graham scott steele of california to be
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an assistant secretary.
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mr. mcconnell: madam president. the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: earlier today our with distinguished president pro tempore, the senior senator from vermont, announced he will conclude his incredible run of senate service. senator leahy plans to retire at the end of next year at the conclusion of his eighth term. senator leahy has served vermonters in the senate for longer than anyone in the state's history. of course he's also become a senate institution in his own right. i think particularly of the opportunities i had to work with senator leahy when we were
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sharing leadership of the appropriations subcommittee for state and foreign operations. so it's hard to imagine the senate without pat and his lovely wife marcelle. for now i want to salute our colleague on the occasion of his announcement and add my congratulations on his remarkable career thus far. now on an entirely different matter, last week even more economic data continued to confirm that inflation is hammering working families all across america. in october, consumer prices saw their steepest spike in three decades, the worst inflation surge in more than 30 years. when i was back home last week, i heard constantly from kentuckians who watched their gas prices and grocery prices
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literally soar. this is happening in every single state. last month was the fifth straight month in which national consumer prices rose at least 5%. the democrats' inflation crisis has gotten so bad that washington democrats have stopped trying to pretend that it's just transitory and is starting to admit that it's on them to fix it. the same democrats who spent months denying that inflation was a lasting problem, the last people in america to wake up to this reality, are now convinced they are just the people to fix it. but their supposed solutions are more of the same absurd policies that helped dig this hole in the first place. after months of mostly ignoring the problem, president biden finally responded to last week's inflation data by insisting that, quote, reversing this trend is a top priority for me.
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but surprise, the president's preferred solution just so happens to be the same reckless taxing and spending spree his administration has been pushing literally for months now. this cooked up this massive multitrillion-dollar spending spree when they were saying inflation wasn't a major problem and it was still time to spend like crazy, but now miraculously that exact same spending binge happens to be their prescription to fight inflation. so give me a break, this is just a sweeping socialist wish list in search of a justification. it's another megadose of the same radical recklessness that republicans have warned against all along, that american families are already paying dearly for as we speak. but so far democrats seem intent in grabbing the hot stove yet again, and it's american families who stand to get
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burned. now one final matter, last week i had the honor of spending veterans day at the groundbreaking ceremony for louisville's new v.a. hospital. we're finally going to replace the city's original v.a. medical center that was built almost 70 years ago. kentucky veterans are going to get new, expanded options for the cutting-edge treatment that they richly deserve. the long-awaited groundbreaking was a special day for kentucky and our heroes. but for me the celebration also underscored how unfortunate and unaccept tbl that when it l comes to our legislative duties here in washington, this democrat senate majority succombing up short -- is dismiexgget -- is coming up short supporting service members. today is november 15. the full senate should have passed an annual defense authorization bill months ago. that's how it normally works. it's a major bipartisan priority
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that the senate majority focuses on as a matter of basic governance. but this unified democratic government has been distracted from the people's business. they spent months behind closed doors putting together another reckless taxing and spending spree, and this obsession with party-line wish lists has led democrats to drop the ball on basic duties. keeping our service members and our commanders waiting months for an ndaa is just one example. the democratic majority dropped the ball on the bipartisan appropriations process. oh, and, by the way, president biden's proposals for funding the government would have us cut defense spending after inflation. according to reports, china recently tested a hypersonic vehicle capable of carrying nuclear weapons. just this morning according to some early press reports, russia may have tested some kind of new anti-satellite weapon system. in the middle east, president
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biden's own advisors are saying his rushed retreat from afghanistan will open the door for terrorists resurgence. it is against this dangerous backdrop that our democratic majority does not move an ndaa until mid-november, and president biden doesn't want defense spending to keep pace with president biden's inflation. so, madam president, better late than never. i'm glad the democratic leader says we will finally let the full senate consider an ndaa in the coming days. the senate will need to have the robust bipartisan floor process that is customary for this important bill and will need to leave extraneous items on the sidelines. i suggest the absence of a quorum. 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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the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. tuberville: i ask unanimous consent to initiate the -- to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tuberville: madam president, our great country was founded on the idea that freedom leads to prosperity, which is better known as the american dream. i have always said this country owes you only one thing, and that's an opportunity to succeed this country gives you the opportunity to live the life you dream of because with hard work, anything is possible. for a couple, the american dream may look like saving enough to buy their first home. for a small family business, it
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might look like open its -- opening its doors for the first time. for a generation, a college graduate, it might be walking across the stage or for a soldier returning from war with the hopes of starting a family. the american dream takes on many unique forms, reflective of the opportunity that countless generations have strived to realize. and at the core of the american dream, you will find the american family because for centuries the american dream has been rooted in the idea of family and freedom. strong families are the foundation of strong communities. that is why we need to uplift the american family rather than to continue to rip it apart.
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but recently, we have seen policies from the democrats that inject into parenting that insert the heavy hand of the federal government into the american home and stop at nothing to tell parents we know best when it comes to raising your children. threats to the american family are knocking on the front doors of homes across the nation as the left becomes focused on telling the american people what they want rather than listening to what they need. a prime example is the democrats' socialist spending spree designed to create a cradle-to-grave welfare system that does more to tear the american family down than to build it up. just look at the child tax credit, a once-bipartisan policy initiative that has now been
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weaponized. to benefit some families at the expense of others. if you are a working class married couple with children, you drew the short end of the stick. then there is the democrats' federal child care program. it is more focused on perpetuating government dependency than giving low-income families the means to stand on their own two feet. with these proposals in their reckless tax and spend spree, the democrats are picking winners and losers, and the losers are the american family. anti-american -- antifamily policies like these grow the size of the government while chipping away at american freedom. we should focus on pro-family policies that put families first
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, policies that make achieving the american dream a reality, not something to feel shameful about. if you're born with two parents in this country, you hit the lottery, so many children don't have the stable family that some have. they grew up with one parent or are raised by another family member. and then there are children who grow up with no parents, thrown into the foster system. it's a shame because we know stable families can provide foundations that children need to seize the american opportunities. as we talk about supporting the american family, i want to focus on an important issue to many families across the country. that is adoption. november is adoption month,
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national adoption month in the united states. in the u.s., over 400,000 children a year don't have a safe place to call home or a loving family to care for them, but the idea that children have a safe and stable home with a family who loves them should be something we should all agree on. but in my career, i have traveled across the country for 40 years. people from all walks of life welcomed me into their homes. i have seen firsthand the immeasurable impact that family can have on a child's life. i've seen parents who provide stable foundations who instill the belief that with hard work, grit, and determination, anything is possible.
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success stories can be found across my state of alabama. in fact, in 2019, alabama had 731 adoptions. the highest number in alabama's history. one of those is katie who was adopted through the heart gallery of alabama. katie's parents adopted her at the age of 12 after years spent in and out of foster care. her forever family provided her with the secure foundation she needed to jump-start her future. now katie just completed her first year at yale university. like katie, children in our foster system -- foster care systems have endless potential but need the stability that having a family brings to unlock it. while we celebrate the
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heart-warming stories of families being made whole, we cannot forget about the children waiting for their forever home. those are the stories of kids who deserve these families and families who deserve kids. as a christian, i believe life begins at conception. but too often, when discussing pro-life issues, we often refer to that life as the child's time in the womb. we should, however, be focusing on the life of a child after they're born. and that philosophy should apply to children all around the world. many other countries don't place the same value on life as we do here in the united states. in some countries, parents may choose to abort babies who might have disabilities, and if a child is born with a disability,
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they are put up for adoption at much higher rates. china is one of these countries. right now, there are several hundred american families who have been matched with or have begun the process of adoption with children in china, but the pandemic has indefinitely halted most of the adoptions from china moving forward. back in may, i sent a letter to secretary of state antony blinken asking for the state department to have diplomatic discussions with china so these kids could go home to their new families. but here we are in november and i have yet to receive a response from the state department. over 400 children are still stuck in china with their families unable to bring them home. most of these children have some type of medical or special need
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and are currently living in chinese orphanages. one such child is sherri. she is stuck in china while her forever family is waiting with open arms here in the united states. sherri has down syndrome and needs medical attention which is currently being delayed. when speaking about sherri, her forever family said, quote, the sooner we can get little sherri into our home, the sooner we can give her all the attention, therapy, and love to bring her up and give her her fullest potential in life. or coralee who has lived in an orphanage for three and a half years, ever since she was an infant. coralee has a medical condition that needs to be treated or could eventually lead to blindness. and here in the united states,
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her parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles and a church family are waiting for her to come home so they can help provide help in the future. and then there is charlie who recently had a fourth birthday. he has a family in alabama who cannot wait to welcome him home. the first several years of charlie's life has been tough. he needs specialized care that a loving family can only provide. given that the biden administration just reopened their borders, so many international travelers -- to so many international travelers in that one of our covid vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 has just been authorized, i believe it is past time for us to get these children home to the families who have been waiting years to love them and care for them. adoption is the gift that keeps
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on giving by providing children the opportunity to rise above difficult circumstances. we need to work together towards policies that make this gift more attainable for all who can provide a stable home. after all, family is the heart beat of the american dream. madam president, i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. grassley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask that the calling of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: mr. president, the senate has unanimously passed a bill entitled protecting america's first responders act.
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i authored this legislation to expand benefits to first responders who are injured in the line of duty. the public safety officers benefit program, or psob for short, offers a onetime lump sum payment to first responders who are killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. i think that legislation has been on the books since the 1970's. i started investigating this program when i heard about complaints about long delays in processing payments. those delays reached up to three years on average. and it's just not understandable why it should take three years for somebody who's killed in the
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line of duty to decide if the family should have help from that program. we fixed that particular issue with my 2017 bill entitled the public officers benefit improvement act. however, my investigation uncovered a lot of other problems with that program, now 50 years old. the justice department was denying payments to folks that should have received those payments. in one case, a disabled police officer suffered traumatic brain injury. the department said that he wasn't disabled because he held a part-time position at home depot as a greeter.
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in another case, again a police officer with brain injury was denied the benefit. why? because the officer tinkered around with motorcycles in his garage. it would take this officer months to do simple things that would otherwise have taken him just days. since the department said that he wasn't disabled, they said it. it's unreasonable. but my bill that i described to you, that has now passed the senate recently, will correct this problem. this legislation clarifies that first responders who are totally and permanently disabled but can still perform some very simple
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tasks can still get benefits. it adds a fair boost in payments to first responders who have waited years for these benefits. it provides the justice department with more tools so that it can process claims more quickly. finally, my bill extends a presumption in the law that insures that first responders who contact covid on duty don't have to jump through hoops to prove it. because you know with covid, did you get it when you were actually policing or did you get it when you were in a restaurant or did you get it when you were in church? you don't really know. this bill will go a long ways in helping our first responders where it isn't possible to show whether you got it when you were
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actually on duty. so i'd like to thank senators gillibrand and booker as well as all the other cosponsors. i also want to thank our house counterparts, specifically congressman pascrell and his staff, who led the effort to pass the bill in the house of representatives. lastly, i want to thank the justice department for working closely with us to improve this language. before i wrap up, i just want to say a few words about our first responders. whether it's police officers, firefighters, or e.m.t. first responders, they are the embodiment of the best qualities of americans. their daily sacrifice make our society better and safer. i'm proud to have sponsored this legislation, and i urge the president to quickly sign the
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bill. now, mr. president, on another shorter issue, i want to bring up something that deals with something i deal with a lot, what we call oversight, to make sure that we have transparency to our government, because transparency brings accountability. and there's something we're having a hard time getting answers on. on july 30 of this year, senator johnson of wisconsin and i sent a letter to the white house counsel. that letter was based on media reports -- yes, media reports -- that then-vice president biden used private e-mails for government business. if that happened, that's wrong and we ought to know about it. as part of that use, he sent
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government information to his son hunter biden. the news reports provided details about then-vice president biden's e-mail addresses at that time and the fake names that he used for that e-mail. as one example from the reported e-mails, in 2016 an employee of the office of the vice president e-mailed biden his schedule and copied hunter biden. in another e-mail in 2016, that same employee reportedly e-mailed vice president biden about early morning preparation for a 9:00 a.m. phone call with the ukrainian president. hunter biden was again reportedly copied on that e-mail. as we all know, hunter biden served on the board of a corrupt ukrainian energy company at the time of these e-mails.
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certainly hunter biden would have been quite interested in any and all information relating to the u.s. government's communication with the ukrainian government. now, if these reports are accurate, it's unclear whether vice president biden forwarded related e-mails to a government account to satisfy federal recordkeeping requirements. it kind of sounds familiar, doesn't it? just remember the same issues came up with hillary clinton. given vice president biden's apparent pattern and practice with government e-mails, senator johnson and i would like to know if this pattern and practice has continued as president of the united states. that's why on july 30, as i
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indicated, senator johnson and i exactly that question. first we ask, according from the letter what steps did then-vice president biden take to ensure that all his government e-mails and related communications were properly starred and archived, end of quote. in other words, did they follow the law. second, we asked, and i quote, does president biden use nongovernment e-mails to communicate government business or e-mail his family members government information? if so, what steps have been taken to ensure that those communications satisfy federal recordkeeping and archival requirements, end of quote. now, these sound like pretty simple questions that president biden can answer quickly.
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moreover, it would be quite easy for the president to deny reports if these reports were not accurate. our letter provided president biden that opportunity. to date we haven't received a response. in fact, as you can tell from july 30, it's been nearly three months. in fact, the fact that the white house counsel's office and president biden can't find time to answer these questions draws suspicion. one would think that the white house would gadly answer that the -- gladly answer that the president isn't using government e-mail to communicate government business with family members. now, wouldn't one think that the white house would very gladly say that it's properly archiving e-mail records?
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this is a matter of transparency , and it's a matter of transparency that the public deserves -- deserves answers. i note the absence of a quorum. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i'm sure i'm not alone in expressing concern for what the next few weeks in the runup to the christmas -- to christmas is going to look like, and
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certainly the senate and the congress is not -- has not operated as a well-oiled machine to be sure. back in september when the senate should have passed a group of bills to fund the government for next year, we saw the can get kicked down the road. last month when our democratic colleagues, the majority, had ample time and a clear road map to raise the debt ceiling, they punted and really depended on 11 of us on this side of the aisle to avoid a threat to the full, faith, and credit of the united states. and despite a strong push from both the chairman, the distinguished presiding officer, the chairman of the armed services committee and ranking member, the majority leader has so far refused to bring up the national defense authorization act even though it's been ready for months, and i'm hoping that
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that will change this week. i'm advised it will change and it will be taken up. these are not necessarily lofty goals we're talking about. we're talking about the bare minimum when it talks to doing the work of the nation, funding the government, paying the bills, strengthening our military but none of these have been accomplished yet. these delays weren't of necessity. after all the senate hasn't been voting on important legislation, just a series of nominations and dead on arrival nomination bills. with such a long year-end to-do list, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle who control the agenda, don't have a lot of time. the senate is going to be in schedule two weeks before the government funding expires and
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there's another two weeks of legislating before the end of the year. you would think it would be time to buckle up and check off high-priority items, but our colleagues think they have a more important job. forget the millions of government employees who would be left without a paycheck before the holidays or the economic crisis if we defaulted on our debts or the service members and their families who deserve a pay raise. our democratic colleagues, the majority, are devoting all their time and agenda to a spending spree and the largest tax increase in american history, which apparently is the top agenda on the house's -- top item on the house agenda this week. the size and scope of this bill has changed a lot over the last several months. the chairman of the budget committee, the senator from vermont, initially floated a
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$6 trillion spending spree and tax increase. it was later ostensibly paired back to $3.5 trillion, and now our colleagues claim it will cost a mere $1.57 trillion. certainly hardly for sure when it comes to the amount of spending and taxing. because until the bill is finally finalized and the congressional budget office has time to score it, we don't know exactly how much this beast of a bill will actually cost. but the budget experts at the university of pennsylvania's wharton school of business say that the democratic proposal has been dramatically understated in terms of its costs and its scope. indeed, the folks at the wharton school say the ultimate cost of this bill is really somewhere in the order of $4 trillion, more
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than double the amount that the advocates for this bill have stated. the committee for responsible federal budget concurs. they estimate the true cost of the bill would double to almost $5 trillion over ten years because of arbitrary sunsets and expirations and other gamesmanship when it comes to this expensive government proposal. that's a whole lot more than the president's promise of zero dollars in costs. the president continues to insist that this bill costs nothing, but the american people are not deceived. they understand when you talk about $1.75 trillion or $4 trillion that somebody somewhere is going to have to pay for it, hence the largest tax increase in american history. and then there's the so-called temporary nature of some of these government programs. this is all designed to mislead
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the public and congress into thinking these bills are cheaper than they actually are. as president reagan famously said, nothing lasts longer than a temporary government program. despite the lofty promises that had been made, millionaires and billionaires won't be the only ones footing the bill for this spending spree. in fact, one of the last-minute provisions would give the ultra wealthy a tax cut and that's from our democratic colleagues. one of the latest additions to the bill allows blue state millionaires and billionaires to pay less in federal taxes. a former economic advisor to president obama and current harvard professor described this as even worse than he had feared. under this tax break for millionaires and billionaires, nearly two-thirds of those making more than a million dollars would get a tax cut.
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so we're not just talking about a few bucks. the wealthiest americans would save an average of $16,800 next year alone. the party that talks about the need to tax the rich is actually plotting a massive tax cut for the rich. while this bill will help the wealthiest americans pay less in federal taxes, it will ensure the middle class actually ends up paying more. dating back to the campaign trail, president biden has repeatedly said that if you make under $400,000 a year, i'll never raise your taxes one cent. his treasury secretary has made the same pledge and the white house press secretary has restated this commitment again and again and again. well, i understand why the white house is so concerned about this huge tax increase, but the more we learn about this bill, the
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clearer it becomes that the middle class will be required to help foot the bill for this spending bonanza. the nonpartisan joint committee on taxation found that significant numbers of families will see their taxes increased under the plan. in 2027, well over half of taxpayers earning between $75,000 and $100,000 will be paying more in taxes under this proposal. that's a violation of president biden's promise that families earning less than $400,000 will not pay a single penny more in taxes. you just can't reconcile those two positions. and that's the -- that's only the beginning of the mounting costs this bill creates for hardworking american families and my constituents in texas. the so-called free child care in this bill will end up costing many families a lot of money.
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a left-leaning think tank found that middle-class families could pay up to $13,000 more a year for child care. that's not a price increase on the top 1%. that's for people who earn more than their state's median income, which in texas is just under $62,000. it's hard to imagine a family that brings home $62,000 a year being able to absorb another $13,000 in child care expenses. and then comes the mounting energy costs. we already know -- we all know when we go fill up our -- the tank of our vehicles, that gas prices are up more than 60% from one year ago and this year energy bills are expected to soar by as much as 54%. our democratic colleagues, by pushing so much money out the
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door, chasing so many limited goods and services, they are pushing for policies that will actually exacerbate inflation and make these prices climb even higher. specifically, they want to attack the fossil fuel industry by imposing a so-called methane fee on gas companies and resurrect an excise tax on each barrel on crude oil. these price increases won't be by just the companies that produce oil and gas, this will be an expense that will be passed on to customers. the families struggling to cover their transportation costs today, they'll be up a creek without a paddle once these new fees go into effect. the cash grab does not end there. this bill would also require hardworking texas families to subsidize the cost of our colleague's preferred green
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initiatives. it provides hundreds of billions of dollars in so-called green subsidies for massive corporations that become echo friendly. that's right. our democratic colleagues are proposing more subsidies for corporations as if fortune 500 companies need taxpayer assistance to go green. and wealthy americans earning hundreds of thousands of dollars each year could receive up to $12,500 in taxpayer assistance if they buy an electric vehicle. and, unfortunately, this also includes a little bit of cronyism in it, because our democratic colleagues are making sure that they get the handout. the electric vehicle tax credits are even more generous if the car is made in a union shop even though there's no evidence that these vehicles are somehow better for the environment.
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we all know what's happening here. it's all too clear. but, again, hardworking american families will be the ones footing the bill for these tax credits that disproportionately benefit the wealthy and organized labor. to help cover the sky-high price of this bill, our democratic colleagues want to ensure that uncle sam will be able to squeeze each and ever penny possible out of middle-class families and small businesses. this bill gives the internal revenue service, which has been notorious for its abuse of power, even more money and more authority. this bill would give the i.r.s. $80 billion, more than half of which will build an army of auditors to bilk and prod taxpayers. this build up bureaucracy, much
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to the detriment of texas families. after all it's going to take a lot of taxpayer money to pay for president biden's zero-dollar bill. this reckless tax and spending spree is not what our country needs, particularly not at this time, mr. president. families don't want an even bigger government that reaches deeper into their government and exerts more and more control over their daily lives. they want the freedom to make their own decisions for themselves and their families and the opportunity to succeed based on their hard work. that's not what we're seeing today from the national democratic party. our democratic colleagues' bill takes steps toward medicare for all by harshly penalizing states that didn't expand medicaid. when the affordable care act mandated a medicaid expansion, the supreme court of the united states characterized that as a gun to the head for the states
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and said that was unconstitutional. but we know that medicare for all will discourage medical innovation by slapping arbitrary price controls on things like prescription drugs. it turns the i.r.s. into the government's number one welfare agency by extending no strings attached welfare checks into perpetuity and imposes the highest income tax rate in the developed world. it gives washington bureaucrats unprecedented power to punish states that fail to meet arbitrary climate mandates and it forces hardworking taxpayers to cover the bill for another unnecessary partisan spending spree. this far-left turn is not what the american people thought they were voting for in 2020, and, frankly, it's members of the president's own party who are beginning to tap the brakes in
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resisting this huge government expansion and huge spending spree which will do nothing to address the rising concern of inflation in the country. so we're simply not going to join our colleagues in voting for this reckless tax and spending spree and we'll continue to do everything we can to expose the -- the components of this bill because, frankly, i think the more the american people learn about what is in the bill, the less likely they will be to support it. i yield the floor, and i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. we are in a -- mrs. blackburn: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, we are. mrs. blackburn: thank you, madam president. i ask that we suspend the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. blackburn: last week specialist christopher horton congressional gold star fellow fellowship act. i would like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who lent their support because creation of this program was a long-time -- long time coming. i spent the past few years working with and talking with gold star families and the one thing they've consistently told
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me is that they want a more powerful voice on capitol hill. this will have a fellowship program open only to gold star family members, these fellows will have an opportunity to come to washington at no costs to their families and work within the system our service members worked so very hard to defend. and, madam president, we thank you for your service in defense of this nation. just as we here in the senate are bound together by a duty to serve the country, gold star families are also bound together by a common thread of loss, grief, sacrifice. it has been my privilege to work with so many of them. and i hope that these fellowships will create a new sense of healing and purpose in the hearts of those who come to
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work with us here in washington. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the remainder of my remarks be placed separately in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. blackburn: madam president, it is the week before thanksgiving and the american people are still looking for evidence that president biden and his lieutenants in congress took their oath of office seriously. i said it before, but it does bear repeating. the anger and division that has held the american discourse hostage for the past 11 months was not created by an increased desire to engage in contrarian politics. nobody asked for this for what is happening now. no, this is a direct result of president biden and the democrats refusal to actually govern and deliver for the american people. they have been so focused on
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creating a narrative that they have neglected the fundamentals and ultimately the people who put them into their positions of power. this isn't just my opinion. i have heard it from thousands of tennesseans that i have visited with many over the past week. yes, this is their assumption. it is their assumption that anything the white house does is coming from a place of bad faith. it is not coming from house do we make the lives of tennesseans and all americans better. it comes from a place of how do we gut our institutions? how do we roll back? and how do we exert our control, power, control, government control, big government?
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that is what people are seeing. think about it. it has taken only 11 months for the people to lose their faith in this administration. no amount of ad hoc bipartisanship is going to pull the biden administration out of the hole that they have dug for themselves by refusing to do the bare minimum for the american people. they've had 11 months to do something, to do anything, to show us they care about more than politics. and the fact that they haven't been willing to do that has been probably the biggest failure of president biden to date. and i think that's probably saying something when people look at what's happening in washington, here is what they are seeing. they see a president who proactively kills jobs, who destroyed our potential for
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energy independence, who let conditions along our southern border dissend into chaos rather than challenge the disgraceful politics pushed by radicals in the democrat party. and they see their elective representatives waging war on our most fundamental constitutional rights, eroding ballot integrity and providing cover for disastrous economic policy that have done nothing but killed jobs and drive prices through the roof. yes, inflation is real. congressional democrats have squandered an entire year creating an illusion of enthusiasm before their broken agenda, which is a feat they were only able to accomplish by refusing to acknowledge the damage caused by their reckless tax-and-spending spree.
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if they had even pretended to prioritize appropriations, the debt ceiling or passing a fiscally responsible budget, they might have had a chance to salvage a little bit of credibility. but, oh, no, that's not what they did. the american people are living in the real world where debt burdens matter and you can't fire up a money printer if you blow your budget or have a wish list you can't afford. what the american people see isn't just a refusal to govern but a refusal to acknowledge that these problems matter. these things actually matter to people. how much we spend matters, being job and business friendly matters, integrity, it matters. for almost a year the biden administration has been hiding from allegations that the
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obama-biden justice department spied on an incoming president. back in august, i led a letter with more than 40 of my republican colleagues demanding an update on the status of special counsel durham's inqairy into the crossfire investigation. the american people have been waiting a long time to see those results. there is nothing the administration can do to force them to accept or even tolerate the malice and corruption we know fueled the actions of the obama-biden justice department and equal justice matters to the american people. but i suppose it's too much to ask that our chief law enforcement officers stay true to the law when the president himself has been so preoccupied with this reckless agenda that it appears that he forgot about
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his role of being commander in chief. in terms of governors, national -- governance, national defense is about as simple as it gets and we have thanksgiving coming up and just now we are getting the ndaa coming to the floor. i negotiated and deliberated our way through 143 amendments. many of those bipartisan and we approved the final product 23-3. now, that's about as bipartisan as it's gets. but you haven't seen that come to the floor. even the house democrats working on their own version of the bill have had enough with the senate and they are saying so publicly. they understand, just as we do, that this country -- this country will have to be able to defend itself.
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we should be doing all we can to prior it advertise defense policy because you can be sure our competitors and our adversaries abroad are doing all they can to elevate themselves, to defend themselves. tonight president biden is scheduled to meet virtually with xi jinping and to discuss, and i quote, ways to responsibly manage the competition, quote, between the u.s. and china. only it's really not competition, they are our adversary. we don't need a summit to figure out a response to chinese aggression. the solution is staring us in the face. if you want to manage the competition, you set yourself up to win the fight. that's how you manage your competitors, that's it, no secret.
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and i don't discount the importance of diplomacy, but xi jinping and his lieutenants in the communist chinese party have shown that their operating procedure is to control the world -- to control the world order than to work within it. competition think you're not interested in. dominance, yes, they are interested in. if we start engaging in china from anything other than a position of strength, we will lose. and right now joe biden projects nothing but weakness. for almost three years i have chronicled in excruciating detail the war the chinese communist party is waging against our nation's ideals. i've done this in hopes that my colleagues across the aisle would understand that delaying
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action or maintaining the status quo will not save us from our most belligerent and dangerous adversary. and yet somehow seeing it all laid out in black and white wasn't even enough to get action. seeing evidence of genocide in china wasn't enough. reading verified reports that beijing manipulated multiple international organizations in their shameless cover-up of the origins of covid-19, that wasn't enough. listening to chinese officials threaten our pharmaceutical and medical supply chains, not enough. watching the chinese communist party attack freedom fighters in hong kong and threaten our friends in taiwan wasn't enough. seeing the pernicious effects of the belt and road initiative on the global balance of power
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wasn't enough. not even the knowledge that beijing is closer than ever to testing the limits of our nuclear deterrence capabilities, that was not enough. madam president, i yield to the majority leader for the purpose of filing cloture. mr. schumer: i thank my colleague from tennessee for yielding, and in few minutes i intend to take the first procedural step to begin consideration of the annual defense policy bill. with cooperation, the senate can and should move through this important legislation that we attend to each year. this year we will amend the defense bill to include the u.s. innovation and competition act, the historic manufacturing and innovation bill that the senate passed earlier this year on a strong bipartisan basis and which will help tackle our nation's supply chain crisis. our supply chain crisis needs attending to and we cannot wait.
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members from both sides of the aisle have expressed interest in getting this done. passing usica would be an essential far-reaching step that congress can take to help fight inflation, help increasing american workers' wages and relieve strained supply chains, particularly with regard to current chip shortage. we cannot allow us to become depend on foreign chips, especially when we do -- we do the groundbreaking technology. we're also working with the speaker and our colleagues in it the house and republican colleagues in the senate to find a path forward to get this important legislation over the finish line before the end of the year. it's also my intention to have an amendment vote repealing the aumf. this measure was reported on a bipartisan basis out of the foreign relations committee earlier in year and the ndaa is the logical place to have that
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vote on the senate floor. the iraq war has been over for nearly a decade. an authorization passed in 2002 is no longer necessary in 2021 and in no way will repealing this measure impact our ability to keep americans safe nor impact our relationship with iraq. we will have other votes on amendments on the defense bill as well. i look forward to working with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to move this important process forward. so now i'm going to move cloture on the ndaa. i have some words to say about my dear colleague, senator leahy, some words to say on build back better, but i'll come at a later moment because i know my friend from tennessee is waiting to do those things tonight. now, i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: is is there objection to the motion? all those in favor, say aye. those opposed, say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. schumer: i move to proceed to calendar number 144, h.r. 4350, the national defense
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authorization act. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to calendar number 144, h.r. 4350, an act to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2022 for military activities of the department of defense and so forth and for other purposes. mr. schumer: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to proceed to calendar number 144, h.r. 4350, an act to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2022 for military activities of the department of defense and so forth and for other purposes, signed by 17 senators as follows -- mr. schumer: i ask consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: finally, i ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum call to be the
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cloture motion filed today, november 15, be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: i yield the floor and thank the senator from tennessee for her courtesy. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mrs. blackburn: thank you, madam president. as i was saying, it's been so difficult to get people to realize what we are facing from the chinese communist party. they are an adversary, and seeing the evidence of genocide in xinjiang didn't seem to be enough to persuade people. then you have the reports that beijing manipulated multiple international organizations. when it comes to the origins of the covid-19 vaccine, that wasn't enough. hearing the chinese officials threaten our pharmaceutical and medical supply chains in the midst of a pandemic, that didn't seem to be enough. watching in horror as the chinese communist party threatened the hong kong freedom
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fighters and as they have threatened our friends in taiwan, that didn't seem to raise the attention for them that this is not our friend. they are not a competitor. they are an adversary. we have seen these effects of the belt and road initiative on the global balance of power. they still haven't said, we have to deal with china, not even beijing going out here and pushing their nuclear power has seemed to push some of our colleagues across the aisle, as they have not paid attention to what is happening with our nuclear decedent capabilities and -- deterrent capabilities and what china is doing. so it leads a lot of tennesseans that i talk to to say, what is
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it going to take for joe biden and his administration to take these global threats seriously? if you look at what's going on in china, and that doesn't do it, are you looking at iran? are you looking at russia? and how they're posturing troops there on the ukrainian border? what is going to finally get them to say china is an adversary? the new axis of evil with russia, china, iran, north korea. these are adversaries. they are intent on global dominance and taking us down. you know -- and i have to tell you, madam president, i think that the answer to that question is we look at these threats, it really frightens a lot of people. when i talk to our veterans, as i did last week, many of them, it frightens them when they see
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the nonchalance in attitude of this administration, as we talk about these issues that are threatening our nation's security and freedom. home and abroad, when you talk about inflation, when you talk about crime in the streets, when you talk about what is happening in our schools, when you talk about what is happening globally, people see this as a threat to the their life here. they see it as a threat to our security abroad. my hope is that what we will see is real governance and real leadership that will come from the senate, and also we would like to see this come from the administration, that people would seek decisions made in good faith, not decisions made in bad faith or trying to dismantle the institutions of this government. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of executive calendar number 401, graham scott steele of california, to be an assistant secretary of the treasury, 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 graham
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scott steele of california to be an assistant secretary of the treasury shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: on this vote, the yeas are 55, national riss 38t the motion is agreed to. cloture having been invoke, the senate will resume executive session to consider the steele nomination.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, for many years now, there is a joke that presidents have what's called infrastructure weeks. they talk about infrastructure and the need for us to move our country forward and fixing our outdated system of roads and bridges, freight lines, our ports. we are as a country behind other countries in terms of investing in infrastructure, and yet infrastructure week comes and goes without any progress.
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well, today we had a true infrastructure week because the president of the united states signed legislation that came out of this body that was bipartisan that helps to repair our infrastructure in ways that are historic, in the sense that it is a broader infrastructure bill than we have passed around here in decades. so it's a big day for infrastructure and therefore a good day for my constituents in ohio and people all around the country. people who are stuck in a traffic jam or maybe people who are worried about the bridge they're going over, whether it's safe or not, which is the case of a big bridge in my community, or whether it's people that don't have access to high-speed internet and therefore can't do their school work or be able to start a business or be able to get their telehealth if you're a veteran in ohio and you want to access telehealth, it's tough to could it in about one-third of our states because you don't have high-speed internet.
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so there are a lot of different things that are in this legislation that will help the people who i represent. we have a lot of aging infrastructure in ohio on the water side, so our water infrastructure includes a lot of lead pipes still as an example, and therefore drinking water issues, but we also have a lot of edicts that have come down from the federal government saying, you know, you have got to stop the combined sewer overflow and so on. our local municipalities just can't pay for the changes that are required. this will help them as well. in cleveland, ohio, we have a few decade-old, i think it's 47-year-old transit system. the cars are being taken off track. they have gotten to the point they can't be used anymore, yet it's way too expensive. the funding here for transit will be very helpful to cleveland, ohio. in my own community, we have a bridge that people have been talking about fixing for literally 25 years because i have been involved in that discussion when i was in the house and now in the senate, and the problem is the bridge was
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constructed, assuming a certain amount of traffic, and yet the amount of traffic has more than doubled. as a result, they have taken the shoulders off the bridge in order to create more room for another lane. as a result, when you have a flat tire or an accident, god forbid, on the bridge, which unfortunately happens too often, there is no place to go, and therefore it causes even more safety hazards. the bridge is a bottleneck, every single day. not just at rush hour. i can go there in the afternoon, 2:00, 3:00 in the afternoon, and people are backed up on this bridge. and a lot of the people who are backed up, by the way, are people who are in business. it is 18 wheelers that are trying to get through because it's the confluence of i-71 and i-75, two major interstates. so it's a big economic issue. all that lost time in commuting every day across that bridge and all the lost time in terms of
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the freight has a big economic impact. billions of dollars, they say. 3% of america's commerce goes across that bridge every day, so it's a real problem. we have never been able to figure out how to fix it because we can't accumulate enough money locally, state, federal, to be able to make the big change that has to occur, which is building another bridge, expanding and fixing up the current one. it's been frustrating. this legislation that was signed today will finally provide the tools to do that. it will have to apply like any other project around the country. it's a grant that's based on merit, but the grant is specifically focused on major bridges like ours where you have this economic impact that are so-called functionally obsolete, meaning they are carrying more traffic than they should be. ours are carrying twice as much. it should fit very well, but they are going to have to come up with a local match as well. i'm confident that that can be found. the local match will be less now than it would have been before before we did have a tough time
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finding that local match. and we're not able to move forward. but people in my community, they are ready for this bridge to be fixed. i mean, this bridge is something i have heard about again my entire career. i have gotten a little bit of funding here and there to help do the environmental impact statement and help do the engineering, but to actually get in there and do it, it's going to be extremely expensive. you're not going to find $2 billion, 3 plld-plus without this kind of federal commitment. that's in this legislation as an example. it's also helpful that this legislation deals with our ports because one of the issues right now we have got with the supply chain crisis is that things are just not moving through our ports as quickly as they should, in part because our ports are falling behind. i have mentioned other countries that spent more on infrastructure. countries like china spend a lot on their ports. china spends more than we do and
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other countries because they know if you spend more on infrastructure, you get a more efficient economy, in terms of productivity. that in turn leads to economic growth and more tax revenue coming in, frankly. these are all factors that should be considered in looking at an infrastructure bill. it's not like normal spending that might be stimulus spending that goes out the door right away. this spending will happen over two, three, five, ten, even 15 years for these major projects. and then these assets we are investing in, let's say it's a port, let's say it's freight rail or let's say it's the bridge in cincinnati or the infrastructure that's a water infrastructure issue in northeast ohio because of lead pipes, what is fixed will last for a long time. so it's an investment in a long-term asset. right now, our country is facing historically high levels of inflation, the highest inflation we have had in more than 30 years. it's a big problem. everything's gone up.
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gas. i heard yesterday that now gas has gone up 50% this year. two weeks ago, it was 42%. all i know is it's gone up about a buck a gallon. when i fill up my pickup truck, i'm spending about 100 bucks now. that's tough for people, particularly people who have to commute for their work. for lower and middle-class families in ohio, this inflation is really devastating. you go to the grocery. i just had somebody show me a photograph recently of -- someone took an iphone of three ribeye steaks for 100 bucks at costco. everything is going up. that's really devastating. you wouldn't want this infrastructure bill to add to that inflationary pressure. the good news is as economists look at this, they say it goes into the economy in ways that should actually be counterinflationary over time. what does that mean? inflation is where you have got too much demand and not enough supply, right, so you have coming off the pandemic more people getting out buying stuff
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and yet the supply wasn't there, it causes inflation. here in the congress, we passed legislation that aggravated that, made it worse because we passed $1.9 trillion in spending in march, much of which went right into people's pockets. think of the stimulus checks, think of the $600 more on unemployment insurance and some of the tax provisions, and it in effect created more demand out there and the supply wasn't there which raises inflation. this spending is different. again, this is not stimulus spending. this is long-term spending for capital assets. so what the economists say, including some conservatives like michael strain at a.e.i. and doug holtz-eakin, american action forum, they say this will lead to less inflation because you are adding to the supply-side. by building that bridge, that's a part of the supply-side of the economy rather than the demand side of the economy. so i'm pleased with that, too, because what we want right now is to push back against this inflation, not do something that creates more demand and more inflation. one of my concerns about the
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other legislation that's being talked about, which is not the infrastructure bill but it's called the reconciliation bill. democrats i have heard today are calling it build back better more often but others call it the tax-and-spend bill. but that's about more surplus spending. i have very concerns about that adding to the inflationary pressures we have already got which are so serious and unlike what the administration said previously, it's not transitory. it's going to be around for a while. every economist i have talked to says they expect it to be around a year or two, best-case scenario. again, what was signed today, the infrastructure bill, should over time actually have a counterinflationary effect. most of the money again is not going to be spent in the near term. most will be spent over time, but when it is spent, it's spent more on the supply-side of the economy rather than the demand side of the economy. i'm really pleased that we are able to pass this legislation, and i hope that it's not just going to provide a model for
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what we ought to do in terms of substance. you know, helping make our economy more efficient, more productive, doing things that make sense for the people we represent in terms of reducing their commute or making their bridges safer, as i said, or dealing with the online issue, not having access to high-speed internet, being sure that people will have safe drinking water, but also it's important i think that this bill be looked at as a model of bipartisanship. what do i mean by that? well, typically around here you kind of have a republican or democrat approach to something and we kind of fight over it. there is not much space in the middle. and the reconciliation bill right now that is being talked about as an example is all democrats. there is no republicans supporting it. everybody knows that. and the question is just sort of how do you tough it out through the process and -- because reconciliation can be done with just 50 votes, not 60 votes, the notion is you get every democrat and then the vice president would break the tie. much better i think if you do
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something on a bipartisan basis because you get more buy-in from the country. you pass better legislation that makes more sense for our country, like this infrastructure bill. and the model that was used here was that some republicans and some democrats got together and said let's come up with a bipartisan approach to infrastructure working from the middle out, not taking our directions from leadership on the right or on the left, democrat, republican, but -- or the white house, but let's come up with something ourselves that makes sense. this was in the context of a -- an early biden administration proposal on infrastructure. again, it's confusing because there are so many different bills out there, but this one sort of combined the infrastructure bill that was passed today and the so-called build back better legislation they are now trying to pass, because it had high tax increases that had significant tax increases mostly on the corporate side but that would affect working families, in my view and a lot of people's views on my side of the aisle, everybody was against the tax
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increases. plus it had a lot of what the biden administration called human infrastructure. so it wasn't just talking about core infrastructure as we have talked about today, the roads and the bridges and the rail and the waterways and other things that you would normally think of when you think of infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, airports, the ports. instead it also included a lot of -- support for soft infrastructure as they called it or human infrastructure. that is health care, taking care of medicare changes, some changes i believe on -- in terms of child care that are in the current build back better. so what we said as a group, five democrats, five republicans, was we want to do infrastructure. this is something that's been talked about again forever. every president in modern times, every congress in modern times has promoted the idea of a significant investment in infrastructure because of americans falling behind. what we said is let's make that
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promise we have given to the american people something that we can actually follow through on this time by having a bipartisan bill that has the support of both sides. so we basically took the bigger bill that the biden administration had proposed, pulled out the taxes, so no tax hikes, but also pulled out the so-called human infrastructure or soft infrastructure and focused just on core infrastructure. and that was the principal basis upon which it went forward. the other thing that we decided was that not only were we going to keep taxes out and focus on core infrastructure, but we were going to make it truly bipartisan, meaning we're going to come up with a negotiated settlement. we're going to make concessions on both sides to find that common ground to get this thing done and we're going to do it. sure enough, we did. it took us four or five months. we started eight months ago and passed it here about five months ago, but we had some setbacks because there are tough issues we had to grapple with. you know, how much money to put into the way you expand
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broadband, as an example, and how should it be done, through the states or through the feds. we came up with ways that we thought made the most sense, but also could pass muster up here in terms of the bipartisanship. i think in the end, as a rule -- not in all cases, but as a rule, if it has to be bipartisan, if you make that your commitment, you are going to get better legislation because you are listening to everybody, including to the governors in the case of broadband, including to the companies that provide the broadband, but also including the families and the parents who are driving to the mcdonald's to get internet access for their kid to be able to do her homework. and listening to the small business entrepreneurs who are saying we need this level of high-speed internet to be able to start a successful company in a rural area, say in my home state of ohio. also listening to those who are interested in having enough access to internet to be able to get their medicine online, basically, to be able to do telehealth, to do actual discussions with medical professionals online rather than
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having to drive into the hospital, say, from a rural area. so that was all part of what we intended to do, was to not just have a good bill substantively, but to show that you can do this in a bipartisan way. that group of ten, five democrats and five republicans, then became 11 democrats and 11 republicans. we kind of grew out from there. and then by the end of the process, with we had democrats and republicans supporting the final product, including the majority leader, chuck schumer and the republican leader, mitch mcconnell. senator mcconnell gave us the space to be able to work this out. he didn't agree with everything we were doing all the time. he knew that, you know weeks had in our intention it's to come up with something that was truly bipartisan and good for the country and that infrastructure was an area where we typically had had bipartisan support but we couldn't get it over the line
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because of the partisan gridlock around here to do anything. in this case, he gave us that space, he came up with a good bill and mitch mcconnell's support was helpful in the end. 19 republicans supported the legislation. in the house, unfortunately it went oaf there a few months ago and sat and sat and sat. that concerned some of us because we could see it becoming more political, more partisan. and we had a commitment from president biden and a commitment among ourselves, not only no taxes, being sure it focused on core infrastructure but also that it would be delinked from anything else, particularly the larger reconciliation bill that is being discussed, the so-called build back better bill. we wanted this bill on its merits. the american people don't want us to do christmas trees where we traitd things off. they want to know if we have a good bill, we should get it passed and it happened here in
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the senate and i appreciate that. in the house it got all entangled with this legislation that was partisan that no one supported. it's called build back better probably $2 trillion of spending. i saw some analysis today that if you don't sunset all of the spending provisions, it's more like $4.7 trillion and there's about $1.8 trillion in tax increases to pay for that. so we'll see what happens. i think there's going to be a gap in their revenue, in their spending based on the analysis i've seen and i think it's a wrong time in the economy, as i said earlier, to think about this sort of thing, one to raise taxes on the economy right now, that's, i think, exactly the wrong thing to do, we should help to encourage those businesses finally coming out of this pandemic, that have been struggling, that don't have enough workers to be sure to get back on their feet and not taxing them. same with families, same with the so-called pass-through
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companies, the smaller companies that would be hurt and then we have to be sure as we move forward not increasing inflation today and not the stimulus of spending that goes to the demand side that puts more money in people's pockets is part of the reason we have this high inflation. i hope that the build back better legislation does not move forward. but my point is the infrastructure bill needed to be dealt with on its own and it got tangled up with that and that's too bad. but at the end there was a vote permitted finally in the house of representatives after several pledges to have votes that did not happen, finally it was voted on about ten days ago now and when that vote occurred, there was enough bipartisan support, not as much as i would have liked to have seen on the republican side, frankly. i think it's a good bill that republicans should support. they supported the republican side and democratic side and it was passed into law and secretary to -- sent to president biden and he signed it
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today. so that's the good news that we were able to get this done and i hope, again, provide at least in terms of what we did here in the senate, a model going forward of finding out, where can you find consensus between republicans and democrats on big issues that the american people care about? we've got plenty of them. i would put an issue like immigration, what's happening at the bode, and what's happening -- border and what's happening with the deficit spending every year, but there are so many issues, you know, health care issues, issues that have to do with, you know, how you deal not with the immigration on the border but people who are here. should we be able to find some bipartisan consensus on these things? isn't that what the american people expect us to do where you've got big challenges whether they are domestic or international, shouldn't we figure out a way, even if we have differences of opinions to have common ground to move forward rather than stuck in a gridlock situation.
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today in the signing ceremony, the president spoke a little bit about that, and said that he supported bipartisan efforts to move the country forward. but by the same token, he also supports the reconciliation process that is strictly partisan and would be jamming our congress, again, without a single republican supporting it and doing policy that we think is wrongheaded given where we are with the economy, particularly with regard to inflation and the need to come out of this pandemic with a stronger economy, more people working and concerned that tax increases will make that difficult. so, again, i would like to congratulate everyone who was involved in this infrastructure process. it was a -- it was a big group up here in the senate, but the group of five and five, the five democrats appeared five -- and five republicans who kind of led the negotiation colluded my colleague, kyrsten sinema who led the democratic side. she did a great job, she was
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very persistent and anyone who watched her, knows her, wouldn't be surprised. she kept us on track and we had a lot of different issues to deal with, but she was very helpful in moving us forward and getting to a resolution. ultimately all ten members agreed, we're going to resolve this thing. we're going to come to a solution, even if it means not getting everything you want. nobody gets everything you want in life, right? in your family, in your business, and in congress, it's pretty much the same thing and it's pretty simple which is you can't get everything you want. but you can get most of what you want and in this. mr. casey: it's great for the -- in this case, it's great for the american people, bill cassidy, i met romney, mark warner, john tester and so many others were involved and helpful, but those were some of the colleagues part of the g-10 process. mr. portman: a couple of members
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i would like to thank, again, senator mcconnell for his help giving us the space to work it out and ultimately supporting it and lending his critical support to something that's good for the country, good for kentucky, kevin cramer on our side of the aisle was helpful to us in bringing together our group of 22 democrats and then shelly moore capito deals with a lot of these issues, including the surface transportation legislation and she was very helpful, along with the chair of that group, tom carper, they met with the white house, shelly moore capito and that gave us a foundation for some of the ideas that we had and also the committee work that we respected. one of the things i've seen time and time again in the last couple of weeks is that it is a $1.2 trillion bill on infrastructure. in a way it is, in a way it isn't. just to explain that briefly.
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congress every year has a process where we appropriate funding. we also every five years typically do a transportation bill, the surface transportation act. that $1.2 billion includes that. so the amount on top of what congress would have otherwise spent based on what the committees have done on a bipartisan basis is roughly $542 billion. so it's really a $542 billion of new spending, not $1.2 trillion. that might help some of my republican colleagues about supporting it because we're concerned about the debt and deficit. by the way, we came up with ways to spend that, including repurposing some of the funding that went out for covid. it is still historic levels and provides enough funding do all of the things i talked about including making the infrastructure better for all of us. over the last couple of weeks,
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particularly about president biden signing his bill, the biden infrastructure bill. he negotiated with us and i appreciate that. his legislation, as i said, was very different. it had the tax increases and spending on a lot of human infrastructure and i appreciate that he was willing to say to the democratic side of the aisle, okay, that's what i want, but i'm willing to work with you guys on a bipartisan basis, and so he did that and he gave us space to work that out here in the senate between ourselves and that's the reality. and so we came together with legislation, we were sitting down with his people, including a the deputy chief of -- including the deputy chief of staff and the counsel and we negotiated with them on some of the issues, this came out as a true bipartisan process. it's not really anybody's bill. it's america's bill because representatives from every part of the country were involved and those elected representatives made decisions that were in the
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interest of their constituents but also our entire country and that's why in the end this legislation represents not just a victory for the american people, which did does, but in a way a victory for common sense and bipartisanship that this place badly needed. i hope it's a template for things to come and i hope that when someone goes out on a limb and says, i'm going to support this legislation because it's in the interest of the american people, that that person rewarded rather than attacked. in the house i've seen some of this with some of my republican colleagues who supported it that people are upset on a partisan basis because they think it somehow gives too much credit to democrats if this were to pass. i mean, i suppose if you took that attitude nothing would pass. because it's either a democrat or republican bill and the other side would block it. we have to get to a different mind-set where we get to thinking, what's good for the
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country? interestingly, when you look at what the polling data is saying about this bill, it's very popular. initially the numbers were 87% approval rating, republicans, democrats, independents, everyone. the one i saw yesterday was 65% because it has gotten, again, it's gotten into more of the partisan back and forth with republicans saying somehow because president biden was in the presidency and he's involved with this it's his bill. it's not his bill, it's all of our bill. but 65% approval rating is rare for any administration. the american people get it. they want us to move forward. there are partisans on both sides who would prefer we move forward only if it's their way. and we should block everything, but the vast majority of american people understand that you have to move forward and to make sure that we have
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infrastructure to compete with infrastructures like china and increase our productivity and increase economic growth. who could ob to that? i -- object to that. i think this will be, over time, five years, ten years, 15 years from now, something people will look back and say, aha, this has been accomplished and it makes my community work better. that's what this bill is going to be about and my hope is, again, it will be a template for other projects in the future where we say, let's figure out a way -- despite our differences -- to fig figure out some -- to figure out some common ground on issues that this country faces and on issues that makes people's lives better. ultimately that should be our job. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back my time.
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mr. schumer: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. schumer are we in a quorum? the presiding officer: we are not. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to legislative session and be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, i understand there is a bill at the desk and i ask for its first reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the bill for the -- the title of the bill for the first time. the clerk: s. 3206, a bill to repeal the provisions of infrastructure investment and jobs act that imposed new information reporting requirements with respect to digital asset transfers. mr. schumer: mr. president, i now ask for a second reading and in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i object to my own request. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the bill will be read for the
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second time on the next legislative day. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: i come to the floor today a little sad but also immensely full of gratitude. earlier today our dear colleague, senator patrick leahy, announced that he will retire from the senate at the conclusion of his term. now, this chamber has had a long history of many a dedicated public servant, but there's only
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been one patrick leahy. for eight terms the gentleman from vermont has been a senator's senator. one of only four in the history of the senate to surpass 16,000 votes in service to his beloved home state. and today i can only say this -- thank you. thank you, pat, for your many years of friendship, of leadership, of dedication to the constitution and the rule of law. the senate is better off because of you. vermont is better off because of you. our country is better off because of you. now, we still may disagree strongly about which state has the best maple syrup, but we never let that get in the way of doing great things together. pat, you are a he a great guy. it is bittersweet. you deserve a wonderful retirement with marcelle and your beautiful children and and if children. but we're going to miss you dearly. i wish you and marcelle the very best on the road ahead and the best of luck. godspeed.
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and now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. tuesday, november 16. that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. that upon the conclusion of morning business, the senate proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the steele nomination postcloture. further, at 11:30 a.m., all postcloture time be expired, the senate vote on confirmation of the steele nomination. the senate recess following cloture on the bonnie nomination to allow for weekly caucus meetings. further, if cloture is invoked on the bonnie nomination, the vote on confirmation will be at 2:30 p.m. and finally, if any nominations are confirmed during tuesday's session, the motions
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to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until >> the u.s. senate has gambled out for the day, lawmakers earlier voted to advance the nomination of graham sealed to be the assistant treasury secretary for financial institution the bill undergo continue to work on the executive nomination throughout the week and earlier today democratic senator henry clay of vermont announced he would retire after eight terms and he has the current president from temporary longest-serving senator in the 117th congress and end is always a follow live coverage of the senate when they return, here in cspan2. >> cspan is your unfiltered view
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of government, funded by these television companies and more including cox. cox is committed to providing eligible families access to affordable internet through this connected program and digital divide one connection and engagement at a time. cox, bringing us closer. cox support cspan as public service over the seller television providers, to give you a front row seat to democracy. the impacts of the texas abortion law have on communities and families, the house judiciary committee asked pro-choice and pro-life advocates that question recently watch tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on "c-span2", line is cspan.org or watch full coverage now, or new video app.
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>> she spans washington journal, everyday were taking your calls live on the air in the news of the day and will discuss policy issues that impact you, tuesday morning because when you amber the house, lloyd smucker, the second present biden's build back better agenda that coming deadlines. and then the democratic congresswoman and appreciate an appropriations member that was talked about covid-19 in legislation and jeff miller's the gas price hikes, and the oil supply in the u.s. and watch washington journal, live at seven eastern tuesday morning hunt c-span, or cspan now, our new mobile app and join the discussion with your phone call and thank you for your calls and text messages and tweets. >> tonight center patrick lahey has the heel retire from the senate and great terms were

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