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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  November 16, 2021 2:15pm-6:39pm EST

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continue to be as we work through important policy discussions amongst past democratic caucus family at the end of the day committed as we have consistently done to arrive at the highest common denominator -- >> we are going to break away from this event to take you live to the u.s. senate, over 40 year commitment to bring live coverage of congress. the senate about to travel back in following a recess for weekly party caucus modules and working on executive branch nominations. lawmakers are expected to consider 2022 for the front program and policy bills later this week. live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. nt oversee three agencies at the usda that are absolutely critical to the well-being of our nation's farmers and ranchers and to our shared goal of addressing the climate crisis. taken together, the farm
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service agency, the natural resources conservation service, and risk management agency, provide the first line of defense for our farmers and ranchers against droughts, floods and wildfires and other extreme weather. these agencies will also lead our efforts to provide voluntary solutions to help our farmers and ranchers lead the way in addressing the climate crisis. in my home state of michigan and across the nation, producers are facing unseasonable freezes and thaws and dramatically unpredictable conditions that disrupt the planting and harvesting schedules they rely on for their livelihoods and for our food supply. as the climate crisis affects the way the agriculture sector operates, the work of the usda and its staff to provide
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resources and knowledge for our farmers and ranchers is absolutely critical. without crop insurance, without disaster assistance, without our conservation programs, our farmers and ranchers will be left even more vulnerable. that is why we need competent, experienced leaders who are ready to lead these agencies from day one. leading this mission is a big responsibility but one that i know mr. bonnie is well qualified to tackle. throughout his career, mr. bonnie has built strong partnerships with farmers, with ranchers, with foresters, with communities. this is also his second time leading a mission area at usda, as he was confirmed by voice vote as under secretary for natural resources and environment in the obama administration. there he oversaw key
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public-private partnerships with foresters and private landowners while leading the u.s. forest service and natural conservation service. while working at the institute for environmental policy institutions at duke university, mr. bonnie worked closely with rural communities to tackle pressing conservation issues. and at the environmental defense fund, mr. bonnie focused on incentive-based approaches to provide stewardship on private land. at his hearing in the senate agriculture, nutrition and forestry committee, democratic and republican members alike praised mr. bonnie's extensive credentials and his commitment to tackling the climate crisis and boosting farm income at the same time. that approach has earned him the
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support of many, many of the nation's most respected farm and food organizations, including the american farm bureau and the national farmers union. i'm pleased to add my support to his nomination and urge my colleagues to vote yes on this extremely well-qualified nomination. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum unless we -- are we at a point to move forward on the vote? i yield back all time and that we proceed to the vote. the presiding officer: is there objection? the senator from california. ms. stabenow: i would withdraw
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my motion. the presiding officer: thank you. the senator from california. mr. padilla: thank you, madam president. madam president, i am proud to share with all of you the experience of california this last year in combatting the covid-19 pandemic. the practices in california has has -- because we have seen the did he have is station that surging -- the devastation that surging cases can cause. last winter, remember where we were last winter. a catastrophic surge in my home county of los angeles overwhelmed local hospitals as was the case, frankly, in many
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parts of the country. familiars were desperate to find care for loved ones -- families were desperate to find care for loved ones. as we approach this winter season, i recognize that we made incredible progress turning the tide since those tragic times. just a month ago california achieved the lowest level of covid-19 transmission of any state in the nation, but today cases are beginning to rise again. we're seeing the effects of the changing weather, and so we need to stay vigilant to prevent another devastating surge like the wave that peaked in california and across the country last winter. but fortunately today we are armed with a powerful defense, an f.d.a.-approved vaccine that
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is safe, that is effective, and that is free-for-all. california's historic vaccination effort made possible by the resources that we helped deliver when we passed the american rescue plan, has covered more than three-quarters of our residents. more than 55 million shots in arms of californians. but now is not the time to let up. every person who gets the vaccine helps to stop the spread of the virus in our community, and we've just received two new critical weapons -- one, booster shots to increase protections for adults. and, two, approval of a vaccine for children older than five. last week during the state work
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period i had the privilege of joining leaders of a school district for the opening of a mobile clinic on school sites for students ages five and up. i saw firsthand the anxious excitement of families looking forward to a freer, safer life for children. imagine that. play dates with friends, holiday celebrations with grandparents, and relief for those with family members at higher risk. parents of younger children, angela and i know that this pandemic has especially been hard on children. for more than a year, as we would gather together to pray as a family, our youngest diego,
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who many of you met, would ask god for covid to be over, and he would then ask when a vaccine would be ready for him and his brothers. that's why it was such a big deal when the vaccine was approved for children ages five and older. angela and i were vaccinated earlier this year. our oldest son was vaccinated months ago. finally last week diego and alex received their vaccines. so we know that we're sharing this moment of joy with millions of families across the country who are relieved that our children will be better protected against covid-19. so, colleagues, as we approach this now second thanksgiving since the start of the pandemic
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pandemic, we recognize that we have much to be thankful for. we're thankful for the scientists who drew on years of research to design and test one of the most effective vaccines that we've ever seen. we're thankful for the doctors and nurses who are helping to administer the vaccine to as many people as possible while caring for the sick. and we continue to be thankful for all the essential workers who take on high-risk jobs to keep food on our tables and keep the economy going. so it's in the spirit of all this that i ask each and yef on- every one of you to do your part, to everyone at home, please each and every one of you do your part. protect yourself, protect your family, protect your community. get vaccinated. get your children vaccinated. go check to see if you're
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eligible for a booster. and if you are, find one near you at vaccines.gov. we've come to appreciate how vaccination is the key to a safe holiday season and is key to ending the pandemic for all. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: madam president, i ask unanimous consent -- i have five requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they feel the approval of the -- they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mrs. murray: i ask consent that the vote scheduled to start at 2:30 begin immediately. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the question occurs on the bonnie nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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vote: the presiding officer: on this vote the yeas are 76, the nays are 19. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's actions. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask that the
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senate resume consideration of the nelson nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of the treasury, brian eddie nelson, of california, to be under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, the desk behind me is empty at this moment, but whenever anything important is taking place on the floor, you will see seated there, the dean of the united states senate, patrick leahy, of vermont. he announced his retirement. i've come to know pat in my time in the senate. he is a passionate dwentder of america's -- defender of america's national ideals and international human rights. loretta and i count patrick and his wonderful wife marcelle as good friends. i have been on the senate
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judiciary committee, chairing it for a year, and i have more insight into that job than i ever had and i certainly realized when senator leahy was the chair of that committee, he wrote an extraordinary record which many of us only dream of emulating. i thank him for his passionate, consistent, faithful support of the dream act, which i introduced 20 years ago and helping me get this enacted into law. and i appreciated when he gave me a new subcommittee, the subcommittee on human rights and the law, which i chaired. we did good things for the world. pat leahy is known throughout the world and i mean that literally as a defender of human rights and human dignity. he and i decided to join forces a few years ago on behalf of a political prisoner. her name is leila delema, she is
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a senator in the philippines. these in jail. two years ago, senator leahy passed an amendment on her behalf in the state and foreign operations subcommittee. as a result, strongman deturta, of the fill peens, ban -- philippines banned senator leahy and i. he knew, as we all know that when patrick leahy sees injustice, he will put things right. his service in the senate has been a great benefit to the nation and our world and his beloved state of vermont and we will certainly miss him when he retires. watch closely, he will run through the tape. he has a little over a year left in the senate and i'm sure he had will work for that entire period testify time for the
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betterment of the nation and for his beautiful state of vermont. i ask that the statement i'm about to make be placed in a separate part of the record, unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: over the weekend i reflected on an event in my life that occurred 48 years ago. on november 24, 1963, i had just transferd and was a -- transferred and was a sophomore at georgetown university. it was a chilly, gray morning, and i joined thousands of people at lafayette square to stand in mournful silence. a few minutes after 1:00 p.m., the doors of the white house opened and the flag-draped casket of john f. kennedy was carried out. it was placed on a caston for a solemn procession.
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there were hundreds of thousands of mourners standing 10, 12 deep. hardly anyone spoke. the only sounds were the clacking of horses hoofs and the muffled sounds and drums of the military escort. more than 20 years later, i recounted that student experience to a colleague in the united states senate. his name was max cleland, from the state of georgia, and he said to me, durbin, i was standing in the same corner in lafayette square that you were standing in. he was there for the same reason as i with as to witness history and pay homage to our fallen president. there we were just a few feet away from one another in lafayette square, but our lives took a much different course immediately after that. i went to law school started a
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family and my wife and i were blessed with three kids. max cleland enlisted in the u.s. army in 1965 after graduating from college. military service was a long tradition in his family. he did what he called a cushy job as a foreign aide. in april of 1968, with less than a month left in his tour of duty, army captain max cleland found himself at the battle of caisson, one of the longest and deadliest battles in vietnam. he jumped off of a helicopter and saw a hand grenade on the ground, he thought it had fallen off his flak jacket, as he reached to pick it up, the grenade exploded tearing off his right arm and both of his legs, he was 25 years old. when he was recovering at walter
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reed, a friend asked his doctor in confidence, what sort of life awaits this triple amputee? what would he be able to do? the doctor said if max recovered enough to just put on his own shirt that simple task would exhaust him for the entire day. he didn't know max cleland. he saw what the grenade blast had taken away but he didn't see the strength and determination that remained in max and grew stronger over time. before his injury, max cleland was the golden boy of his hometown in georgia. he was his parents' only child, a basketball player and tennis player in high school, voted the most exceptional student in his senior year. he could have done anything with his life, but during the internship in a semester in washington in 1963, max cleland
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decided he wanted to be a u.s. senator. nothing could kill that dream. not even the terrible explosion that took three of his limbs and nearly took his life. after eight months in v.a. hospital, he went home to georgia. in 1970, at the age of 28, he was the youngest elected to the georgia state senate. in 1984, he was the youngest person to head up the u.s. veterans administration, now the veterans' affairs. they first admitted something called post-traumatic stress disorder. max knew it well. he knew the helsinki -- the hell of post-traumatic stress well. he fought for treatment compensation for our vets and he struggled with visible and invisible wounds of war. in 1982, max cleland was elected georgia secretary of state, a
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position he held for 14 years and during that time he gathered some of the biggest vote totals in georgia history. when sam nunn decided to retire, max knew it was his chance. he threw his hat in the ring and elected u.s. senator of georgia. we came together in the senate in 1997. when max came to the senate, there was no ramp for wheelchair users in the senate. he had to make his first speech from the back of the chamber. he tucked a quote from the book of isaiah inside his breast pocket. it was simple. do not be afraid. he joined the armed services committee, expanded benefits for all veterans in the g.i. bill. i remember that warm smile and his big belly laughs. his optimism was a choice and it required a grueling regimen to maintain it. he took three hours every morning to prepare himself
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physically and menially to face -- mentally each day, a regimen of strenuous physical exercise that he designed himself. i remember he had taken a spare bedroom in his apartment and did his own workout routine, this triple amputee each month. for years he felt ashamed about his injuries, he felt the wounds were his own fault. he always thought he dropped the hand grenade that nearly killed him. it took 30 years for the truth to come out. max was telling the story on national tv when a man called afterwards and said, i need to talk to senator cleland. and he said to him, max, that's not how it happened at all. i know, i was there. he said another soldier had dropped the grenade, a new be. the story turned out to be true
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and after 30 years, max could begin to forgive himself. max was serving in the senate on 9/11. months later the senate was debating how to merge several agencies offices and departments into the brand-new department of homeland security. it was the biggest reorganization since world war ii would create one of the largest agencies. it was seen as an opportunity to take on the unions. max and i and many others thought otherwise many we voted against an amendment that would have denied employees of the new department the same collective bargaining right as other federal workers. it was months later that max stood for reelection in a race. he was in an ad that showed images in of osama bin laden and
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questioned his commitment to protect america. how do you look at a man who lost three limbs in a war and accuse him of not being willing to defend his country. he was one of six vietnam veterans in the senate, john mccain and chuck hagel were furious about the ad. they raised enough hell to have the ad pulled. sadly the damage was done. he lost his race for the reelection. he called that loss the second biggest grenade in his life and the 2009 memoir aimed at his wounded fellow veterans he wrote, my body, my soul, my spirit and my belief in life itself was stolen from me by the vietnam war. i found solace by turning my pain into somebody else's gain by immersing myself in public service.
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when the senate years were over, i went down physically, mentally, emotionally, down to the deepest, darkest hole of my life. i had several moments when i just didn't want to continue to live. the post-traumatic stress came roaring back in his life. 40 years after he first arrived there, max returned to walter reed to try to mend out his body but it was his broken heart and connecting with other warriors that pulled him out of his despair. i want to thank my personal colleague and friend harry reid. thanks to their commitment, they helped him to return to public service. he was appointed to the 9/11 commission in 2009 president obama chose him to serve as secretary of the battle of monuments commission. last week max cleland died at
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his home in atlanta. his big heart finally succumbed, he was 79 years old. at the same time that he died, another veteran fighting the wounds of war shot and killed himself. he was only 31, in a note posted on social media, he wrote no one knows who is struggling and waging wars that the eye cannot see, what does chronic depression look like? max cleland knew the answer to that question. if he met santiago or others who died by suicide every single day in america, he would have told them what he said every day, hold on, seek help. do not be afraid. max cleland was a soldier, a patriot, and a friend. we can pay no better tribute to him than to honor his service and sacrifice and help those who
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continue to live with those wounds of war. farewell, max, i'll miss you. madam president, i ask that the last statement be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, on a completely different topic. earlier today the inspector general at the department of justice release add stunning report. it found that the federal bureau of prisons had failed to negotiate with the prison guard union for more than 20 months. think of that. the management of the federal bureau of prisons failed to negotiate with the prison guard union for more than 20 months. this has led to a delay of more than 30 critical bureau of prison policies to help protect their staff and inmates. that report was published just days after an investigation by the associated press, which concluded that the bureau is, quote, a hotbed of abuse, graph,
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and corruption and has turned a blind eye to employees accused of misconduct. both investigations confirm what we've known for a long time -- the current director of the bureau of prisons, michael carvahall should no longer lead the bureau of prisons. this morning i publicly called on the attorney general, merrick garland, to replace mr. carbahall with a reform-minded director who is not a product of that bureau's bureaucracy. since he was appointed by former attorney general bill barr, we've witnessed a series of cascading failures that have endangered the lives of b.o.p. inmates as well as the correctional officers who work there. director carvahall has failed to contain outbreaks of covid-19 within our prisons. the infection rate, covid-19 infection rate in the bureau of prisons, six times what it is in the rest of the population.
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he has failed to fully implement the reforms that the members of this senate enacted including a first-step act signed into law by president trump. to take one example, low-risk inmates are eligible to receive credits to reduce their sentences. the inspector general concluded that the bureau of prisons has not allowed any -- any -- time credits to be he warded because they have not finalized the policy nearly three years after the first step act was signed into law. that act was a bipartisan measure. senator grassley and i were the lead sponsors of it. it was a measure signed by president trump for three years the bureau of prisons has done little or nothing to implement it. the director has also failed to prevent serious misconduct by his own employees. some of these numbers are incredible.
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since 2019, more than 100 federal prison workers have been arrested, charged, or convicted of crimes including sexual abuse, murder, and introducing contraband in a prison. altogether, these crimes account for two-thirds -- let me say it again -- two-thirds -- of criminal cases against department of justice personnel, even though b.o.p. employees comprise less than a third of the workforce. there is no excuse for delaying dismissal of director carvahall. it is time to take critical steps to reform our federal prison system. i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: thank you, madam president. i ask the calling of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: madam president, as the meatpacking industry became increasingly concentrated in the 1990's, fewer animals were sold through negotiated purchases, or you could say you could call that cash purchases or you could call it the spot market. in the 1990's, we saw increased use of alternative marketing arrangements that were not publicly disclosed under voluntary reporting. livestock producers knew that these arrangements were not allowing them to get a fair market price for their livestock
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going to slaughter, so they called for livestock mandatory reporting, also known as l.m.r. this new law would apply to packers who purchased livestock livestock, process them, and marketed the meat. when the livestock mandatory reporting legislation was first considered in 1998, it unfortunately didn't get very far. so i want to read for you an article from march of 1999, because it's going to have some relationship to a similar issue that we hope to get before congress before the end of the year.
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and that's a bipartisan piece of legislation i'm referring to. so i want to read an article from march 1999, from the "southern livestock review." that article is entitled how campaign money, republican lobbyists killed mandatory price reporting. i'm going to read that article into the record in its entirety. only i will not read names. i will refer to former senators as senator 1, 2, and 3. and i will refer to lobbyists named as lobbyist 1 and lobbyist 2. my point is to remind my fellow senators today not to be blind
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sided again by the american meat institute like happened in 1998 to kill legislation back then, because i don't want the similar thing to happen with what some of us senators are proposing this year. this is important because senator fischer and i are soon to introduce legislation to update livestock price transparency. now i will read. so this is a long reading. how campaign money, republican lobbyists killed mandatory price reporting. in the heat of last october's upcoming election and congress' hurry get out of town
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legislating, the traft of -- draft of a massive farm bailout bill which included federal relief for cash-strapped farmers and mandatory public price reporting in livestock markets was in place as congressmen and senators flew home for a weekend of campaigning. when the lawmakers returned the following monday, however, mandatory livestock price reporting was virtually gutted, butchered by well-connected republican lobbyists and huge sums of political action campaign money from the meat packer-backed american meat institute. how this deboning occurred is an object lesson in how private
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money often thwarts public will and why solid, sensible farm policy often dies at the hands of craven politicians and legions of lobbyists. in july 1998, senate minority leader tom daschle put mandatory price reporting in livestock markets into what was then a modest $500 million farm drought relief bill. daschle, responding to years of complaints from his state ranchers over meat packer concentration, didn't ask for the moon. all he wanted was a one-year experimental program that required meatpackers to publicly disclose the prices they paid
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when buying livestock from producers. but as the ag economy continued to skid in late summer, the bill's cost escalated and so did the warning over what the bill would include. daschle's price reporting request also came under attack from the a.m.i., the meat packer lobby in washington. packers viewed the idea as costly, estimated by usda at $60 million per and unnecessary. yet as momentum picked up for an even bigger farm relief bill, mandatory price reporting opponents like a.m.i. sensed
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daschle's efforts would be adopted as save-the-farm rhetoric built after labor day. to shoot down daschle's plan, a.m.i. hastily brought some bazookas. in early september, a.m.i. hired lobbyist number 1, a member of washington's most powerful republican lobbying firm. for an extra pop, reported the october 25, 1998, "washington post," a.m.i. also hired two other republican leaders-turned lobbyists. lobbyist number 2 and lobbyist number 3.
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now plugged into the republican power grid, a.m.i. turned on the juice. during the 1998 election cycle, a.m.i. doled out $198,473 in political action committee money raised from executives of member firms like car gill's x.l., conagra's mumford, kraft's oscar meyer, farmland industries, and smithfield foods. most of the money went to republican candidates. in fact, according to the center for responsive politics, a nonpartisan campaign watchdog group, 165,973 dollars or 84%
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of a.m.i.'s 1997-1998 pac cash landed in republican campaign coffers. house republican candidates got $114,973 of the meat packer lard. senate republicans got $51,000. but as the crucial october legislative deadline approached, mandatory price reporting was still alive in the farm bailout bill's final draft. then a.m.i. lobbyist and money began to get traction. the lobbyists, in particular lobbyist number 1, a longtime pal of fellow mississippians and republican senators, senator number 1, senator number 2 got the price reporting legislation
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pulled from that ag bill. senate democrats and a few of their farm state republican colleagues were furious. daschle struck back. with senator number 2 blessing he folded mandatory price reporting into an even bigger $520 billion omnibus 1999 budget bill that was still hanging fire. two days later it too was gutted by republicans into a meaningless, quote, confidential one-year government investigation during which livestock prices would not be disclosed, end the quote, by the packers, according to "the washington post." sources say lobbyist number 1
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buddy, senator number 1 wielded the knife. as chairman of the senate ag appropriations subcommittee, senator number 1 refused to fund any new price reporting effort as part of the bailout bill, thus killing it there. later at the behest of lobbyist number 1, lobbyist number 2, and lobbyist number 3, senators 1 neutered mandatory price reporting in the budget bill by keeping any information gained through it, quote, confidential. now, the national pork producers council, a past opponent of mandatory price
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reporting, the american farm bureau, the national cattleman's beef association, and secretary of agriculture, dan glickman, are calling for publicly disclosed mandatory price reporting legislation from congress. an a.m.i. spokesman said the group will fight the new effort effort, but didn't know if lobbyists 1, 2, or 3 would carry water for the packers in 1999. yet, he adds, referring to lobbyist number 1, quote, he served our purposes well last year. no kidding. but the meatpackers paid assassins, lobbyist number 1 and his republican pals stuck a
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knife in the back of every livestock producer in america last fall, and it's still there. now that's in -- that's the end of my reading of the march 1999 article by allen gubert in the southern livestock review. so, you see, many of the same hurdles that we went through in 1998 are the hurdles that we're facing now with making needed cattle market reforms. the same high-powered and well-connected lobbyists who work for the big four meet processers are still the same high-powered and well-connected lobbyists who are lobbying
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against the market reform, the reforms of today. those reforms are being proposed by a bipartisan group of senators and will soon be introduced. but i have got news for you. the special interests of the meatpackers don't have a vote in the united states senate. last week, senator fischer, tester, wyden, and i announced a framework to increase price discovery and transparency in the cattle market. you will never guess who once again is fighting this commonsense legislation. the very same group that i referred to as a.m.i., the american meat institute, now called the north american meat
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institute, that same group that in -- in the 1990's -- all right, yeah, the 1990's was against the livestock mandatory reporting legislation has come out against the independent cattle producers again today. see, these powerful corporations are against any reform that would give independent producers more leverage in negotiating a fair price for their cattle. in 1998, south dakotan tom daschle led the charge against these -- these big meatpackers, and while the livestock mandatory reporting was stalled in 1998, in 1999, senator
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daschle was able to get that across the finish line, and it is still law. but it isn't a perfect piece of legislation, and our proposals are to improve it dramatically. now we have senators, farmers, consumers from all over the country that want to see reforms livestock farmers are using money. consumers are paying record high prices for beef, meatpackers are making record profits. i'm sharing this story today to show that even changes that we now view as common sense were once opposed by the meat industry. we still have time this year to make real market reforms that will help independent producers stay in the cattle business.
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i urge my colleagues to support a piece of legislation that we have entitled cattle price discovery and transparency act and support independent cattle producers. i hope you will join senator fischer, this senator, senator tester, and senator wyden and several others senators in the last 24 hours that have joined this effort. these reforms are long overdue, and we can't let these special interest groups like the north american meat institute stop this important legislation like i just described for you, they described it -- they stopped it in 1998, and thank god senator daschle didn't give up because the next year he eventually got
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it done. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a snow: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, this morning, the majority leader came to the floor of the senate to talk about the democrats' reckless tax-and-spending bill. he repeated the claim, the claim that the bill would actually reduce inflation. it won't. just like the claim the president makes that the cost of the bill will be zero. the american people know that that's not true either. the majority leader asked a
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question. he asked why not a single republican would support the bill. well, i'm happy to respond to the majority leader and explain why the american people and the republicans are rejecting what the democrats are trying to force through the congress. so i come to the floor today to talk about rising prices. next thursday will be the most expensive thanksgiving ever. as "the new york times" put it, the thanksgiving dinner will wallop your wallet. turkey prices are up 25 cents on the dollar so far this year. whiefs for meat, polity, fish, eggs, are up more than ten cents on the dollar in just one year. companies like necessary -- nestle and practical for and gamble have put out warnings
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that they are raising their prices. who would have thought that in just ten short months of the biden presidency, we could set a record, a 30-year-high record for inflation. millions of families this year will sit down for thanksgiving dinner, and in addition to eating turkey, families around the table will also be talking turkey. they're going to have difficult conversations about how to make ends meet. according to one estimate, families are now paying about $175 more every month because of inflation for the same things they were getting before joe biden became president. this works out to a $2,000 bite out of the paychecks annually of every working american. so what's happened? why is it happening? it's happening for at least three reasons. first joe biden's incompetence and mismanagement has caused the worst supply chain disruption in
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at least 40 years. now, the supply chain crisis is largely the result of a labor shortage. last week, "the new york times" called this shortage of truck drivers, truck drivers, not of trucks but of the drivers the single biggest cause of the supply chain crisis. we don't have enough goods in large part because we don't have enough workers. this is the worst labor shortage in american history. there are more than 10 million jobs which have gone unfilled in recent months. we have broken new records for unfilled jobs in five of the last nine months that joe biden has been in office. this isn't a coincidence. this is happening because of the policies that have been put in place by the democrats in this administration. in march, president biden and the democrats tax-and-spend a bonus payment to people who stayed home from work.
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millions of people made more money by staying home instead of going to work. well well, in september, the bonus payment ran out. then president biden announced a nationwide vaccine mandate on the american people. as i have been traveling around the state of wyoming this past week, i will tell you it is a mandate that is taking a sledge sledgehammer to the american work force. i fully support vaccination. i'm a doctor. i am vaccinated. so are the members of my family. i am pro-vaccine and anti-mandate. imposing new mandates on workers during an unprecedented labor shortage is complete incompetence. now, this mandate is only making the supply chain crisis worse. the president must have known that many would not comply with this mandate. he must have known people would be forced out of their jobs by
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his mandate. it didn't seem to phase him. he imposed the mandate anyway. now people are losing their jobs, shelves are empty, and prices continue to go up. the second major reason why prices are rising is president biden's war on american energy. thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest travel times in the year. more than 50 million people travel the highways and travel next week. those who drive will pay a lot more for gas than they did last year, the year before. it's the highest in seven years. gas prices are up about a dollar a gallon in the number of months that president biden has been in office. it is more expensive to travel and it is getting more expensive
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also to stay warm. one in five american families have cut -- has cut spending to pay for an energy bill last year. winter is coming, it's going to get worse. some will have to choose between whether they can heat their home or whether they can eat a meal. prices are so high 11 democrat senators are now pleading with the president to bring down gas prices. so what's joe biden's solution? well, he admits he has no solution. he says gas prices are going to stay high until the springtime. one of the president's top nominees for the treasury department says she wants to, quote, starve -- starve american oil and gas. she actually said that we want, in her mind -- we want, she says, oil and gas companies to go bankrupt. she's the nominee to be the controller of the currency.
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the secretary of commerce was asked what the administration was doing to lower energy prices. couldn't name a single thing. the secretary of energy apparently thinks high gas prices are funny. she was asked what she could do to increase oil production in america. she laughed and said that's hilarious. the secretary of transportation also thinks it's funny. he's joking around that people need to start christmas shopping early this year. so there you have the elites of the biden administration, the elites of america, the people that he has chosen to run these agencies, they think it's funny. it's no laughing matter for the working families of wyoming or all across america. so who gets hurt by high prices? the poor, people living on fixed
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incomes, families struggling to get by. working families cannot afford what the democrats are offering. since joe biden became president, prices have gone up much faster than wages. in other words, the american people have taken a cut in the spending value of their paychecks. they can buy less with the same amount of money and even if they've gotten a bit of a raise, the prices are taking a greater and greater bite out of that paycheck. so as we approach thanksgiving, democrats in washington want to spend like it's already black friday. democrats seem to think every day is black friday when you take a look at this reckless tax and spending bill where every page is over a billion dollars
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of spending. they've already put $2 trillion on the credit card earlier this year, now this is in addition to the bipartisan coronavirus relief the senate passed last year. but for democrats there's never enough spending. taxing and spending, it's an addiction. they want to print more money, they want to be spend more money and right now democrats are pushing a reckless tax-and-spending bill that will make inflation in this country even worse. democrats say that the bill that they are proposing in the house right now will costs $2 trillion. the congressional budget office will give a final report at the end of the week. experts say if all of the programs they are proposing were to stay in place for the full ten years, the price is much closer, if not exceeding
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$4 trillion. if the democrats pass this bill, we're talking about more spending, more debt, and higher prices. we're also, of course, talking about more taxes that ultimately will hit everyone in this country one way or the other. last week "the new york times" reported, quote, many researchers say the bill is structured in a way that could add to inflation next year -- not just this year, next year as well. experts say this bill could increase the cost of child care by up up to $13,000 for each and every child. this is already an expensive bill for working families, and the bill could nearly double that and the democrats' spending spree would add over $13 million of taxes on small businesses,
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the mom and pop businesses in the communities all around the country. interestingly in a time of high energy costs, we had a hearing about in this morning in the energy committee. trend in prices on energy, astonishingly what the democrats are proposing are the highest natural gas prices in seven years and a tough season coming for the cost of heating oil and heating gas. this could raise taxes on american natural gas as well when prices are at a seven-year high. what happens to these costs? these taxes? of course they get handed on and handed off to consumers in the form of higher prices. democrats pass this bill, the american people are going to pay more at the pump, more at the store and more on tax day. so last week the nonpartisan tax policy center said this bill
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would raise taxes on nearly a third of middle-class families. didn't joe biden say he wasn't going do that? well, who's right, the president of the united states whose approval is at an all-time low and only 31% of americans think the country is in the right direction or the tax policy center that says more middle-class families will pay more taxes if this is signed into law. this is a blatant violation of the president's campaign promises. the last thing the american people need right now is higher taxes, more debt, and higher prices. the last thing the american people need is this reckless tax and spending spree. it is no wonder that 71% of americans think our country today is on the wrong track. this includes many americans who actually voted last november for joe biden. what do the american people want?
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well, they want us to produce more american energy so they can pay less for energy. they want us to make it easier for people to get back to work. they want higher wages and lower prices. that's not what we're hearing from the democrats and so that's my response to the majority leader when he asked why not a single republican would support this reckless tax-and-spending spree. with thanksgiving coming, we need to stop this reckless spending cold turkey. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: mr. president, last week the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit issued and emergency stay on president biden's sweeping vaccine mandate. the court granted the stay cited, quote, grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate. the 22-page order is persuasive and compelling in explaining the grave effects the mandate will have on businesses and individuals alike throughout the united states. the order also explains that the
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limited nature of the federal government under the constitution simply doesn't allow for sweeping mandates of this nature generally, but it certainly doesn't allow for sweeping mandates like this one without an act of congress. you see, our powers within the federal government are carefully circumscribed. they're carefully constrained. the constitution brings about a balancing, a limitation on powers that operates along two axis -- the vertical constraint is called federalism. and the horizontal constraint is something we refer to as separation of powers. the federal government's powers are, as james madison described them as few and defined. those reserved to the state are numerous and indefinite.
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likewise, within the three branches we have these protections in place that make sure that no one person can exercise what power the federal government does have exclusively. it can't accumulate too much power. so the president of the united states, under our constitutional system, isn't a king and may not rule by decree. he's not free to just do things because he thinks that they're a good idea. the judges also refreshingly asserted the commerce clause of the constitution and brought up the commerce clause as the source of the claimed authority for federal action in this circumstance, noting that even under broad interpretations of the commerce clause that we've seen from the federal court system since 1937, the commerce clause is not unlimited in the
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scope of the authority that it provides to the federal government. and in this case, it certainly doesn't occupy the occupation at safety and health administration to issue a sweeping vaccine mandate for all companies with more than 99 employees nor does the commerce clause even authorize congress to undertake such an action, which of course congress has not undertaken. we've aired dangerously -- we've erred dangerously over many decades over the true application of the constitution's many limits. we've lost sight even of the fact that this is a government of limited powers. and now that the lack of those limits, the lack of respect for those limits within those who operate the federal government
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is placing millions of americans at risk of not only becoming unemployed but, in many cases, unemployable. some in congress are today taking it even farther and asking the president of the united states to impose a vaccine or test mandate as a condition precedent for interstate travel. now, i've heard from hundreds of utahans who are at risk of losing their jobs because of this now thankfully halted mandate. these are not bad people. to the contrary, they're good people. they're our neighbors and friends. they're everyday americans who are all too often just trying to get by to provide for their families. they're not our enemies. and it's troubling to think that the president of the united states said on national television no less that he's,
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quote-unquote, losing his patience with them. what does that even mean? in fact, recent polling numbers show that if anything it appears to be the other way around. we're losing patience with him and with his broad assertions of authority that he doesn't even have. now i've come to the senate floor about 15 times now to oppose this vaccine mandate. i've offered a dozen bills to limit, clarify, or otherwise counteract the vaccine mandate. each time one or another of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle has objected to what should be uncontroversial bills. let's review each of these. -- that we've gone through so far. this started back on september 28 with s. 2850.
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this bill, s. 2850, would have provided exemptions for those with religious or moral objections to the vaccine mandate. president biden significantly had promised these exemptions would be in the mandate but for some reason -- some reason that i struggle to understand -- senate democrats nonetheless objected to passage of that bill. so then i came back and i offered up s. 2840, the don't jab me act, a bill that would require that the federal government make those who suffer from the vaccine mandate to be made financially whole. democrats rejected that bill, too. next i offered s. 2843, the in a taxation without congressional consent act, a bill that would require congressional
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authorization before the fines associated with the mandate could be charged to businesses. notwithstanding the fact that the constitution is very clear about where taxes need to originate within our system of government, democrats objected to that bill as well. so then i came back with another bill. this time it was is $2848, the your health comes first act. this is a bill that would offer exemptions from the mandate to those who have preexisting medical or other health concerns about the vaccine. this is also another exemption that president biden himself promised in his speech, first announcing the vaccine mandate. but it's an exemption that the senate democrats apparently didn't feel worthy of codifying with legislation. and so they objected to that one, too. this one was particularly
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surprising because if in fact president biden himself felt comfortable with those exemptions, one would think that there wouldn't be discomfort with codifying what he himself should be the law. so then in response to that i returned to this chamber on another day and i offered up s. 2846, the natural immunity is real act. this bill would require that the federal vaccine mandate recognize natural immunity. countries across the world recognize this immunity for the powerful protection that it in fact provides. protection that according to some studies, may be as much as 27 times stronger as that offered by the vaccine alone. unfortunately, president biden's mandate wasn't so generous on that point. but this bill, too, was rejected by the democrats.
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disregarding science showing the very real impact of natural immunity. so i came back and i offered up s. 2847, the let me travel america act. now, this bill would prohibit the requirement of vaccination before citizens could travel between the states. apparently democrats want to leave that option open because they objected to that one, too. well, that one is not in the vaccine mandate. it's feared, as i mentioned a few minutes ago, that that might be on the table and apparently it still is because people were unwilling to codify what should be a natural conclusion for most americans to reach, which is that our right to travel from one state to another without permission from the federal government ought not be
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interfered with, that it's fundamental, that we shouldn't mess with it. that's why it was unfortunate that this one, too, drew an objection. so i returned. i hoped that this body could give some assurance and some respect to the brave men and women of our military who are at risk of losing benefits and losing the right to serve over this vaccine mandate. so my bill that i offered that day, s. 2842, the respecting our service members act, would protect service members from losing their livelihoods and the benefits that they've accrued and earned through their valiant service as a result of the mandate. democrats objected to this one, too. that's particularly sad. these are heroes. these are people on whom we rely to keep us safe.
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we ought to give them more trust than that. we ought to not put them in a position with which -- in which many of them are facing a difficult decision. so i offered another bill. i returned to this body and i offered a bill that should be one of the least controversial measures that we've ever considered, not just about the vaccine mandate but about anything. that bill, the parental consent before vaccination act, would have simply required that parental consent be provided before covid-19 vaccines are given to children. democrats objected to that as well. so i came back and i offered the transparency in covid-19 vaccination act. this bill would have provided
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information regarding vaccine side effects to the public. it would have just made that the american people have access to that information. i thought the information would build confidence in the vaccines. the democrats disagreed and they objected. apparently that was too much. don't know why people wouldn't want more information. i actually think that would have built confidence in the vaccine, but apparently they didn't see it that way, or maybe they just didn't want people to have access to the information. i don't know. i can't speak for them. so i came back for the tenth time. i offered up the transparency in covid-19 research act. this bill would have provided research and information drawn from that research that the american taxpayers are paying for to the public, that should be available to the public.
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it would pay for that research. we ought to know what the findings are without the government -- the government shouldn't have anything to hide here. but democrats disagreed and they objected to that one as well. so i tried again. i came back and i offered up s. 2851, the transparency in covid-19 expenditures act. this bill is just a good housekeeping measure. it's a commonsense measure. it's not something that should have been either liberal or conservative or thought of as republican or democratic. it's just a good housekeeping matter. i think it's strange that it would be controversial. giving the simplicity of what it would do, it would simply call for an audit regarding how our covid-19 funds have been spent. i thought the information would be helpful to us.
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as we make policy moving forward. and yet democrats objected to that one. so i tried again. i offered a 12th bill. it would simply end the mandate. the no forced vaccination for covid-19 act would clarify that federal law does not authorize osha or any other federal agency to implement a general vaccine mandate. but the democrats objected to that one too. 12 times, mr. president. 12 bills. some were simpler than others. some should have involved no controversy whatsoever. some just asserted good principles of lawmaking or constitutionalism generally or federalism in particular. and each one was rejected, one right after the other after the
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other, repeated 12 times. thankfully, while some in this body have floundered, judges on the fifth circuit fulfilled their duty to the american people and their oath to the constitution. that does not mean, however, that this fight is anywhere near over. it will continue in the courts, where the states and the biden administration will each be able to make their case. but i'm also going to continue this fight here. i'll stand for those utahans and those americans who are at risk risk, specifically because of this mandate. it's also important, mr. president, for us to remember that separate and apart from what the courts might do, we have an independent obligation, having each taken an oath to uphold, protect,
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and defend the constitution of the united states in the fulfillment of our duties. we need to make sure that before authority is exercised, especially authority operating in such a personal manner on such a personal issue as this, that power is being taken from those to whom it belongs. the power in our system of government belongs to the people. the absence of a delegation of power to the federal government, that power is retained by the states respectively or by the people. so we ought to be looking at this carefully and closely, analyzing it on our own. we can't assume that the federal courts will save us from our own constitutional actions. i've been critical of presidents of both political parties when they have taken actions that exceed the scope of their authority as president of the united states or of actions
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enacted by the legislative branch under the direction of either political party that exceed the power of the federal government. this is an issue that's not republican or democratic. it's not liberal, it's not conservative. it's simply an american issue. it's a constitutional issue. and we ought to be debating and discussing these things here and not waiting for the courts to act. one of the profound frustrations that i've encountered over the years, sometimes people will conflict the issue of constitutionality with litigation. they'll assume that constitutional issues are those that have to be addressed in the courts and only in the courts. fortunately we have the courts to adjudicate disputes and the meaning of statutes and provisions of the constitution, but that doesn't excuse us of our responsibility to provide an independent check and balance to make sure that authority isn't
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being exercised where it should not. it's especially important where, as here, we're dealing with a fundamentally misguided and i believe immoral proposition. that is that individual americans, hardworking moms and dads throughout this country ought never to be put in a position by their government to choose, on the one hand, receiving a medical procedure they may not want or to which they may have religious or other moral objections or wish they might have a specific health concern, for example. they ought not ever be put in a position where they have to choose between that unwanted medical procedure, on the one hand. and on the other hand, the ability to put bread on the table for their children. that's not right. the american people know it. and deep down they know something's terribly wrong
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whenever one person can with the stroke of the executive pen issue so broad and so deep and so immoral a mandate. i'm not going to stand for this. i'll be back. i'll be back tomorrow, i'll be back the next day, i'll be back as often as it takes as long as it takes. i'm not going to stop until we win this fight. thank you, mr. president. i 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 texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, after months of delay, i'm glad senator schumer has finally indicated he will allow the national defense authorization act to come to the senate floor this week. for each of the last 60 consecutive years, congress has passed an ndaa to ensure that our service members and military leaders have the resources they
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need to safeguard our democracy and our freedoms. this bill is how we maintain our military bases, modernize our force and invest in the next generation of weapons that we hope we will never need to use but which are necessary for deterrence. it's how we strengthen our relationship with old allies and forge strong partnerships with new ones. it's how we address the global threat landscape and ensure our troops have the training, equipment, and the resources they need to counter adversaries of today and tomorrow. from threats by an increasingly hostile iran to those by an unpredictable north korea, there are many security challenges on the horizon. but there's no question that the greatest threat to the world order and to peace itself is the people's republic of china. the chinese communist party has
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made no secret of its desire to continue to squash democracy as they did in hong kong and impose its economic, political, and military power on the rest of the world. here at home, we're intensely aware of how china's aggression can impact our economy and supply chains for critical components of everything from cell phones to our fifth-generation stealth fighter, the f-35. our dependency on advance semiconductors manufactured in taiwan and asia is a threat to america's economic and national security. but the most urgent and grave threats are against countries closer to china's borders. last week i had the chance to lead at the congressional delegation visiting southeast asia to gain a better understanding of the threats and challenges in the region. the area spanning from pearl
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harbor all the way to the western border of india is the largest military theater in the world and is overseen by the u.s. indo-pacific command and is home to 40% of the world's population. m -- my colleagues and i had the opportunity to hear from our military leadership and key foreign partners in the region and gain a better understanding of ongoing and anticipated security threats mainly from china. china's already co-opted, as i said, a formerly democratic hong kong that's building missile batteries and aircraft runways for its bombers on artificial islands in the south china sea. it threatens freedom of navigation in international waters, and it's guilty of gross human rights abuses against its own people, namely the muslim minority uighurs. it's engaged in a border war with india and it threatens to
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invade the republic of china, otherwise known as taiwan. here at home, there is no question that china is a looming presence, but it's not in our back yard. we don't see its warships on our coastlines or worry about an imminent military invasion on our shores. but that's not the case in the endopractice. -- in the indo-pacific. in the philippines, we caught a ride on a navy aircraft in disputed waters. within minutes of leaving philippine airspace, we spotted a chinese spy ship engaged in intelligence-gathering operations off the philippine coast. we traveled to india where we met with prime minister modi and cabinet officials to discuss threats posed by china as well as other shared priorities. but one of the main topics was the timetable for a chinese invasion of taiwan. in every way possible, taiwan is a stark contrast to the people's
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republic of china. it's a true democracy, with elections whose results are not predetermined. it's a free market economy that adheres to the rule of law, and it shares the same basic values we embrace in the united states -- freedom of speech, freedom of press, religion, and assembly. despite the fact that taiwan has been a self-governing entity for more than 70 years, the chinese communist party continues to claim the island nation as part of its territory. but as the indian minister for foreign affairs said taiwan isn't just a taiwan problem, it's a china problem. in other words, what's at stake here is much larger than the future of one nation. it's the entire scope of beijing's power and ambitions in the region. if china's able to capture taiwan, there's no reason to believe that the chinese communist party would stop there.
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china also has territorial claims against the philippines, japan, vietnam, and india. we shouldn't view taiwan as the c.c.p.'s ultimate goal but as the first domino in a quest to reach regional and global dominance. if taiwan falls, it will not be the end but rather a beginning. as the taiwanese minister of foreign affairs told us, taiwan is democracy's outpost standing watch against authoritarianism. i believe we have a legal and moral obligation to stand with taiwan and deter china from invading, and we also have our own national security at stake. there's an old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. in defense parlance, that means peace through strength, deterrence. there must be a strategy to dissuade china from an attempt to seize taiwan, and there's no
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question that time is of the essence. our delegation met with the commander of the endopacific command who described -- indo-pacific command who described the power dynamic rather succinctly. he said it's not a question of if china invades taiwan, but when. according to our top military leaders, we have an idea of how long that might happen because xi jinping himself has said he wants to be ready to invade by 2027. but we have been wrong before. i remember when people said that the taliban, the intelligence committee said it would take two years for the taliban to take over afghanistan, and we saw that happen almost in the blink of an eye. no one thought that country would fall to the taliban before we hit the withdrawal deadline and certainly expect the withdrawal -- we certainly did not expect the withdrawal in afghanistan to turn into a rapid
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emergency evacuation mission. taiwan might be safe for six years, but we can't operate on that assumption. we need to work with taiwan and our friends and allies in the region to raise the cost such that the p.r.c. decides it's not worth its time and effort. the defense authorization bill is one critical way we can do that. it includes a bipartisan bill i introduced with senator duckworth called the taiwan partnership act. it would establish a partnership between the u.s. national guard and taiwanese defense forces to strengthen taiwan's preparedness. should troops need to deploy quickly in the event of a crisis, they would be armed with the same knowledge and skills as our dedicated u.s. national guardsmen. the ndaa includes other provisions to increase defense cooperation with taiwan and equip the u.s. indo-pacific demand with more resources.
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i appreciate my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who have championed these provisions. we said -- as i said earlier, we have a moral imperative to stand with taiwan and show china that the costs of invading are far greater than the benefits, but we have our own national security interests at stake because if the supply of semiconductors from taiwan were cut off, it would be a body blow to the american economy and our national security. i'm glad australia has already signaled its support for taiwan, and i hope more of our international partners will follow suit, particularly the quad composed of australia, japan, and india, and the united states. beijing can try to exert its muscle around the world, but the united states has one thing that china never will have, and that is friends and allies. i'm grateful to our partners in the indo-pacific and around the world who fought and who will
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continue to fight to preserve freedom and democracy. it's an honor to spend time with them, and on behalf of our entire delegation, i want to thank all of our hosts for their hospitality. our trip to the indo-pacific was a timely reminder of the critical need to invest in our national defense and support our allies, new and old. as the senate prepares to begin consideration of the defense authorization bill, i would encourage all of us to keep in mind our solemn responsibility to support our national defense. that's our number one priority. all of our other freedoms flow from our ability to protect and defend the american people. whether our service members are guarding against threats from china, russia, iran, north korea, or terrorist groups, they need the backing of a strong national defense authorization act to succeed. i appreciate the bipartisan work of the armed services committee
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chaired by chairman reid, ranking member inhofe, and appreciate their hard work in getting this bill ready for our consideration. the committee during its markup adopted a 143 -- adopted 143 bipartisan amendments and reported out the final bill by a vote of 23-3. you don't get much more bipartisan than that around here. this legislation has been waiting in the wings for months, and i'm glad we can finally begin consideration of this critical legislation this week. i hope we can continue the legacy of bipartisanship that guides this legislation through the senate. this debate should be about how to defend our national security, how to deter tyrants and bullies from around the world and guarantee the blessings of liberty to all democracies, those that share our values. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will now proceed to the kanter nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of justice, jonathan kanter of maryland to be an assistant attorney general. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will now be ten minutes for debate equally divided. the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i will admit that i have some level of confusion when i listen to my republican colleagues come to the floor and register their complaints when matched against the actual policy position that my republican colleagues hold. and i want to present two examples of my confusion this morning. first, i have heard many of my republican colleagues come to the floor of the senate and talk
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about their concern about price increases in the economy today. and then register votes against the measures that would help families afford things. many of my senate republican colleagues voted for the bipartisan infrastructure, but more voted against it. in the house of representatives, there is discussion of purging from the republican party any members of the house republican conference that voted for the bipartisan infrastructure, notwithstanding the fact that in that bill is funding that will have a deinflationary impact on the economy. money for ports, money for infrastructure, money to be able to move goods and people more quickly across this country. the build back better agenda, the bill that is going to move before the house and the senate this month with no republican
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support is all about reducing costs for average, regular americans, reducing the costs of health care, reducing the costs of energy, reducing the cost of child care. child care expenses are driving american families crazy today, absolutely crazy. the build back better act will reduce the cost of child care by $10,000 to $15,000 for families in my state. republicans opposed the build back better act because it increases some taxes on billionaires and millionaires. it asks every corporation to pay a minimum amount of tax so that companies like amazon and google don't get away with paying nothing or next to nothing in tax.
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that's the reason why so many republicans oppose the build back better agenda is because it's about transferring economic power from the haves, from the economic elites, to folks that have been getting the short end of the stick, who have been getting fleeced by this economy. when republicans have the chance to -- had the chance to cut costs, they did it only for billionaires and millionaires. 80% of the republican tax cut went to the richest 1% or 2% of the economy. when democrats have control of the senate, we deliver tax cuts for the middle class and for the poor, we deliver cost reductions for average american families. wages are going up higher than the rate of personal consumption inflation. right. personal consumption inflation
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is just under 5%. wages in the last 12 months have gone up by over 5%. people are making more money. part of the consequence of people making more money is that some costs go up. but when republicans were in charge of the white house and the congress, wages were largely flat. wages are finally going up. people are making more money. and we are going to have legislation on the floor of the senate that dramatically cuts costs for average american families, and that legislation likely will get not a single republican vote. republicans' priorities historically have been to deliver benefits to the wealthy, to the elites, to their corporate friends. and so when faced with a very different agenda, an agenda that is all about cost reduction, tax cuts for average families, for families making $30,000 a year, for plumbers, for teachers, for
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factory workers, for janitors, not a single republican vote. so therein lies my confusion, that i hear a lot of my republican colleagues, republican colleagues that i like, that i respect, come down to the floor of the senate and complain about costs and then refuse to deliver a single vote for the most significant legislation to reduce costs for families that this body has considered during my time in the senate. here's my second reason for confusion. now, encounters with migrants without documentation has come down at the border three months in a row. pretty dramatic reduction in fact when it companies to unaccompanied minors and families. that's because this president's policies are working. that's probably the reason you don't hear as many republicans coming down to the floor, talking about the surge at the
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border. but republicans have been down here consistently for months talking about the crisis they describe at the border. and so my confusion here is connected to their avowed concern about the surge at the border and then their decision to oppose a homeland security budget that would help us address those escalating numbers at the border. right now senate republicans refusing to negotiate with democrats on a budget for 2021 and 2022. that's what's going on right now. historically we've always had differences when it comes to our priorities in the budget, but we always sat down and negotiated. right now senate republicans are boycotting discussions over a budget and one of the theories
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is that many republicans would like to see a continuing resolution, the trump spending levels continued for the rest of 2021, 2022. let me tell you what the impact of that would be when it comes to our operations at the border. and i want to explain this because i have the honor to chair the appropriations subcommittee overseeing the department of homeland security. and we just a few weeks ago introduced a budget for the department of homeland security for fiscal year 2022. but if this budget or a version of it negotiated with republicans doesn't pass, the result is catastrophe at the
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border. this budget includes $178 million for medicine and medical contracts for unaccompanied children that arrive at our border, desperately needed medical care for all of these children and families that are arriving at the border. none of it would be available if we went on a continuing resolution. we'd have a health crisis at the border. $130 million for three permanent multipurpose, multiagency facilities which will streamline the processing of individuals who present at the border. right now we have these mega expensive, inhumane, soft-sided facilities. that significant investment at the border cannot happen if we have a continuing resolution. $25 million in this budget for increased transportation costs,
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allowing border control to reduce overcrowding in facilities, moving individuals from crowded facilities to facilities that have room. none of that transportation available in a c.r., which means the overcrowding gets worse. but the crisis is even bigger because without a new budget we can't pay the border patrol. we will have a $770 million payroll shortfall, almost a billion-dollar payroll shortfall if we have a c.r. in the department of homeland security rather than a new budget. that will cripple our ability to manage the border. that will either mean massive layoffs, massive lassoffs of -- layoffs of cdb personnel, and
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other personnel or it will mean a massive reprogramming in which the biden administration is forced to take money from cybersecurity and put it on to the border or steal money from the coast guard and coastal defense and put it on the border. one independent study showed that a decrease of just 33c.b.p. officers at our ports of entry would decrease g.d.p. of $66 million and lead to a loss of over 1,000 jobs. why? because at our ports of entry when you have a massive downsizing of personnel, wait times go up, businesses lose money. if we're on a c.r. and we don't pass a budget, coast guard readiness is compromised. the money in this budget for a new offshore patrol cutter, for
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national security cutters, for the sustainment of the aging rotary wing aircraft fleet, unavailable, and so our coast guard readiness continues to suffer, compromising u.s. national security. we all know that cybersecurity is an increasing extensional threat to the united states and so this budget proposes a significant increase in our cybersecurity defenses. how's the department of homeland security? without a budget, if a c.r. is extended through the end of the year, we can't adjust any of our funding programs or priorities when it comes to cybersecurity. we are essentially stuck in a presolarwinds environment in the department of homeland security without the ability to adjust for current threats.
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and, finally, we'll be just wasting a ton of taxpayer money. i'll give you one example. right now we have thousands of empty i.c.e. detention beds, thousands of empty i.c.e. detention beds. we pay contractors to maintain these beds, to staff these beds, but there's nobody in them and there's likely nobody to be in those beds through the entirety of 2022. if you pass a c, then -- continuing resolution, we are paying for beds we don't need and wasting taxpayer dollars. if we don't pass a budget, if we don't update the appropriations bill for the department of homeland security, we are going to be gutting our border protection, we are going to be costing the economy billions of
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dollars, we're going to be compromising the defense of this nation, and we are going to be wasting taxpayer dollars. we are sent here to be proper and responsible stewards of our constituents, our taxpayers' hard-earned dollars. they don't like sending their money to washington, but they do so under the belief that we are going to be careful about how we spend it, by just extending 2021 spending levels to 2022, especially when it comes to the defense of this nation, especially when it comes to the protection of the borders, a c.r. could be disastrous as much as it is widely irresponsible. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the question is
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on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: the yeas are 68, the nays are 29. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table. the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. and the senate will resume legislative session.
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mr. whitehouse: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: i ask unanimous consent 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, with the exception of this speaker who will speak for probably more like 20 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today for now the ninth time to unmask the right-wing dark money scheme to
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capture our supreme court. i say capture in the sense of regulatory capture, an agency capture, well-known phenomenon none. today i turn to an important tool of the team's apparatus, the orchestrated am cuss -- amicus curiae brief. first things first. amicus for friend of the court briefs are an important striewm in our judicial system. they help those who aren't parties to a case to share their expertise, insight, or advocacy with the court. i filed them myself. friend of the court briefs are necessary and useful. usually. however, in recent years, the court has had a lot more friends than it used to.
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amici filed 781 briefs in the 2014 supreme court term, a more than 800% increase from the 1950's and a 95% increase just from 1995. in the 2010 term, 710 am i must briefs were filed in 78 cases. by 2019, that number had swelled to 911 briefs in just 57 cases. the average number of briefs per argued case almost doubled from nine in 2010 to 16 in 2019. there is another odd feature to this uptick of amicus briefs. most of the time, you file an amicus brief when the justices have taken a case and are poised to actually decide the outcome of that case at the so-called
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merit stage of the case, which makes sense because this is when the rulings actually become law. but these days, more and more amici arrive when the court considers whether to take up the case, when the justices are deciding whether to grant cert. between 1982 and 2014, the percentage of petitions with at least one-stage am amicus more n doubled -- with at least one stage amicus more than doubled. and justices pay attention to amicus briefs. the court cited amicus briefs 606 times in 417 opinions from 2008 to 2013, far more than in the past. these briefs don't always add
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value. and top appellate judges are beginning to sound that alarm. seventh circuit judge michael scudder said in 2020, too many amicus briefs do not even pretend to offer value, and instead merely repeat a party's position and serve only as a show of hands on what interest groups are rooting for what outcome. okay, so what does this have to do with the scheme? well, what happens if the justices whom dark money forces ushered onto the court are looking for that show of hands? i doubt it's just a coincidence that the right-wing donor machine that set out to capture the court has also kicked into
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gear flotillas of amici that inundate the court with briefs signaling their desire for a certain outcome, a showing of hands that is orchestrated. now, the scheme is by design hard to make out. it runs on anonymous dark money for a reason. it works through front groups, some with multiple fictitious names. it works hard and spends plenty to hide its hand. still, look carefully and the scheme's hand is there to see. like eddies swirling the water's surface as a creature moves beneath, signs of right-wing donor influence swirl around the court.
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one of the strongest signs is that there is a pattern, a pattern of success when orchestrated flotillas of dark money amici funded by a small number of wealthy right-wing donors show up, they win. this court, the court that dark money built delivers in their favor. exhibit a is probably the u.s. chamber of commerce where the idea for this scheme first bubbled up years ago with the powell memo. over the past 15 years or so the chamber has filed more amicus briefs than also anyone else and it's gotten its preferred result 70% of the time. and no one knows what company or
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what interests the chamber may be fronting for. that is hidden from the court and from the other parties. the chamber can even hide if one of its members wrote or funded the chamber's amicus brief in that member's own case. so the members of the party and the chamber on behalf of the member files an amicus brief and no one is the wiser. so it's no surprise that the chamber is trying very hard to block the judicial conference from bringing more transparency and daylight into the funding of these amicus briefs. it's not just the chamber in this racket here. if you take the recent antiunion
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cases, janice versus afsme, cedar point nursery, and sedrick versus california teachers association, each case brought ten or more amicus filers connected to these scheme donors. in both freed ricks -- fredericks and janice, scheme mega donor funded the law groups representing the antiunion plaintiffs and also funded a dozen supporting amici. the front groups even swapped seats with a group representing plafs in one case -- plaintiffs in one case turning up as an amicus in the other case and vice versa. it's a front group pea and shell
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game that the court for some reason indulges. no surprise all of these cases delivered big wins for corporate interests out to weaken organized labor. or you could look at the scheme's attack on the consumer financial protection bureau. the cfpb has long been a target of right-wing interests. the center for media and democracy reported that 16 -- 16 right-wing foundations, including the bradley foundation and donor's trust had donated almost $70 million to 11 amici who opposed the consumer financial protection bureau. i did a brief in that case, an amicus brief of my own and i put
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this graphic in my amicus brief as an appendix to show the court the common funding of all of these groups that purported to come in as independent, unassociated amicus filers. so here with the donors across the top, donor trust, bradley foundation, charles koch foundation, kirby foundation and the donor foundation and here are the groups that filed briefs. every single one got money from donors trust, which is the -- called the koch brother's a.t.m., it's the entity that hides who the real donor is and it just shows up as donor's trust. here's the bradley foundation, all but one two-three, here's the other foundation, all but one, two, it three, or five --
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two, three, or five. and the center for media democracy can out with a more complete report and did a better job of researching that. remember from my previous speeches that it was the federal society that was home to the dark money turnstyle that -- turn style that selected all three of trump. all three received funding from entities that also funded the federalist society. so it is a pea and shell game of funded amici with a lot of shells. and then there's the biggest scheme case of them all. you might call it the schema
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palooza. the case is called americans for prosperity foundation versus fondta, in this case more than 50 dark money organizations filed money at the cert stage, which is do we take the case before it's argued on the merits. 50 dark money groups appearing at the cert stage and another 45 turned up at the merit stage all to support the americans for prosperity foundation, which you will recognize as the koch-backed twin to americans for prosperity, which is the front group at heart of the koch brothers political operation. it is the center of the right-wing political dark money
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web. essentially the americans for progress foundation -- sorry, americans for prosperity foundation and the americans -- you twin a 501-c3 and 501c4 and work them as a pair. if you look at americans for prosperity and americans for prosperity foundation, they share quite a lot. they share the exact same address, for instance. 1310 north courthouse road, sweet 700, arlington, virginia. they share the same c.e.o. they share the same senior vice president of grassroots in americans for prosperity and senior vice president for state
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operations in americans for prosperity foundation, they share the same senior vice president of policy. they share the same chairman of the board. they share the same president. if you were to do a piercing of the corporate veil analysis, you would be hard pressed to show that she's are not essentially the same organization. and that armada of amici that came into the americans for prosperity foundation case, all of them received funding from the koch political network or the koch identity laundering group donors trust. at least 11 prominent right-wing groups gave close to $222 million spread across 69 of
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those amici who came in to support their fellow american for prosperity foundation. if the little flow tillas of a -- fltillas of a dozen or so in the antilabor cases were sending a signal to the court, this turnout was a screaming alarm, a megaphone in the court's face. so what made the afpa case such a big deal for the scheme? well, this case gave the court that dark money built an opportunity to do something that dark money donors desperately wanted. it gave the court the opportunity to create for the dark money donors a new
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constitutional right, a new constitutional right to dark money, the essential political weapon for the scheme. and the court did it. the republican justices, 6-3, did it. the court that dark money built struck down a state rule requiring limited disclosure of nonprofit donor information from a very political nonprofit and went on to cast a shadow of doubt on the constitutionality of disclosure requirements of any kind. the amicus mischief at the court continues. look at the gun case before the court right now, new york state rifle and pistol association versus bruin.
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this case is priority number one for the n.r.a. and its gun industry backers. it has been a centerpiece of the scheme for a very long to have the court create gun rights that even a republican congress won't give to the firearms industry. so in this case the amicus signal flags are flying. 65 organizations filed briefs supporting the n.r.a. affiliate that brought the challenge. at least 13 of those groups have ties to the scheme's dark money funding network. several amici are arms of other amici. that is the fundraising or lobbying arm of an organization that itself also filed a brief in the case. at least five amici are n.r.a.
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affiliates and they were joined by the n.r.a.'s civil rights defense fund. and believe it or not, thanks to leaks by russian hackers, we have seen that the n.r.a. paid a lawyer at one of the amicus groups hundreds of thousands of dollars to file pro-n.r.a. briefs in this case. none of which was disclosed to the court, none of which was disclosed to the parties, none of which was disclosed to the public. it took russian hackers to find out that the n.r.a. was funneling money to an amicus for a brief. well, it seems like the justices
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got the signal from all of those dark money funded amici. based on questioning from the court at republicans' oral argument, this case looks almost certain to go in the scheme's favor. pause to consider what this means. the n.r.a. basically cloned itself to amplify its court before the court just as other scheme front groups have done in other cases in wave upon orchestrated wave of amicus briefs washing into the cases that matter to the scheme's big donors. and when those little orchestrated flotillas or big orchestrated armadas show up to the court to signal what they want, they always get what they
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want from the dark money majority at the court -- always. maybe not all they want always. some groups ask for more than others, some signal where they want the court to go in future cases, not just what they want in this case. but the response from the republicans on the court that dark money built is clear. they heed the dark money signals every single time. mr. president, our supreme court is awash in dark money influence with flot iilla front money -- money front groups that aren't even real in the sense that they have no real business or
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function, that exist merely to signal their donor's desired outcomes while hiding it their donor's identities. it's an armada of fake ri that the -- fakery that the court indulges. this fakery lets a small, wealthy donor elite manufacture sham allies to get themselves a bigger say at the supreme court than everyone else. they are out to get the court to do stuff for them that americans don't want and that congress won't vote for, but with a captured court, they can get what they want, and they do. the american people may not be
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able to see all of the rot, but they can see enough to know that something is rotten over there across first street at that court. we must, mr. president, set it right. to be continued.
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the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the injunction of secrecy be removed from the following street transmitted on november 16, 20 at the, by the president of the united states: as in executive session, amendment to montreal protocol, treaty document 117-1. the i ask that the treaty be considered read the thirst time, that it be referred with accompanying papers to the committee on foreign committee on foreign relations in order to be print and that the president's message be print the frommed record. -- printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: i ask unanimous consent that at senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations en bloc -- calendar numbers 4666, 509 and 358, that the senate vote on the nominations en bloc without intervening action or debate, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate, that neigh
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statements related to the nominations be printed in the record, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action understand that the senate resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. the question occurs on the nominations en bloc. all those in favor, say aye. those opposed, say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nominations are confirmed en bloc. mr. whitehouse: i ask unanimous consent that the senate now proceed to the consideration of senate resolution 449, submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 449, designating november 2021, a national college application month. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to. mr. whitehouse:ty that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. whitehouse: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of senate resolution 451 regarding max cleland submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 451, honoring the life and legacy of the late senator max cleland. the presiding officer:, without objection, the? will the proceed. -- the senate will proceed. mr. whitehouse: i ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of senate resolution 452 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 452 recognizing november 2021 as national homeless children and youth awareness month. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed. mr. whitehouse: i ask
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unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i understand there is a bill at the desk that is you don't for a second reading. -- that is due for a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title for the second time. the clerk: s. 2306, a bill to repeal the provision of the infrastructure investment and jobs act that impose new information-reporting requirements railroad to digital transfers. mr. whitehouse: in order to place the bill on the calendar under rule 14 is i would object to further proceeding. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will be placed on the card. mr. whitehouse: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 9:30 a.m. wednesday, november 17, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of
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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 nelson nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: for the information of senate, there will be two roll call votes at 10:00 a.m. on cloture on the nelson nomination and cloture on the motion to proceed to the ndaa. if there is to further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the provisions of senate resolution 451. the presiding officer: pursuant to senate resolution 451, the senate stands adjourned until 9:30 a.m. on wednesday, november 17, and does so as a further mark of respect to the late max cleland, former u.s. late max cleland, former u.s.
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lawmakers voted to confirm several branch nominees. on wednesday, senate schedule to hold on 2022 defense program, for 10:00 a.m. eastern time, you can follow live senate coverage on c-span 2. on-line or on the go. >> wednesday federal communication commission chair nominee jess testify at a confirmation hearing before senate commerce science and important committee. beginning 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span 3. on-line or our new video app.
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>> c-span can your unfiltered view of different. washington jol >> congresswoman lois frank lynn domecrat from florida on our screen, starting with build back better act. what is latest you hear about when a vote on the house floor willen happen this week. and will democrats be unified when that vote happens? >> thanks great to be with

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