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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  November 18, 2021 10:00am-2:46pm EST

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defense programs and policy bill or the national defense authorization act. you'll hear members refer to it as ndaa. lawmakers advanced the defense bill wednesday night after democrats reached an agreement on china legislation. live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. dr. b, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. .o god our father, we wait to serve you as you desire. lord, make us alert to the needs of those you seek to touch, providing us with opportunities to transform hurting people. .use our lawmakers to do your will on earth as you empower them to be
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ambassadors of reconciliation, lord, give them such winsome dispositions that they will bless even those who are hard of heart and withered in spirit. .may our legislators comfort those who are brought low by sorrow and lift those who are bowed by life's burden. .and lord, during this season of thanksgiving, inspire each of us to be grateful every day. .we pray in your precious name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag
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of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, november 18, 2021. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable jacky rosen, a senator from the state of nevada, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to h.r.
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4350, which the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to calendar number 144, h.r. 4350, an awct -- act to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2022 for military activities for the department of defense, and so forth and for other purposes.
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mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: madam president, on ndaa, last night the senate began -- began the process to debate, amend, and ultimately pass our annual defense spending bill. with republican cooperation we can adopt the motion to proceed and begin voting on amendments early today. let me say -- let me say it again. with republican cooperation, we can adopt the motion to proceed and begin voting on amendments today. we should -- we should work together and complete this important bill before the thanksgiving holiday. last night's vote was overwhelmingly bipartisan so there's no reason we can't come
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to an agreement very soon to begin debating amendments. and, mr. president, there is already one important amendment that i want to mention, repealing the 2002 iraq aumf. this bipartisan measure was reported out of the senate foreign relations committee earlier this year and i said months ago that the senate should hold a vote on it. the ndaa is the logical place to do so. the iraq war has been over for over a decade and authorization -- an authorization passed in 2002 is no longer necessary to keep americans safe in 2021. it has been nearly ten years since this particular authorization has been cited as a primary justification for a military operation and there's a real danger to letting these legal authorities persist indefinitely. repealing this aumf will in no way hinder our national defense or affect the relationship with the people of iraq.
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i want to thank senator menendez, senator kaine, and senator young and every cosponsor of the bill. and in the coming days i hope we can come to an agreement on other commonsense amendments to strengthen the ndaa bill so we can get it passed through the senate as soon as possible. on build back better, madam president, now that president biden has enacted his once in ha generation infrastructure bill, democrats are taking the next steps of passing the rest of the build back better plan. the last year and a half have been unlike any in u.s. modern history. we've had a once in a century pandemic followed by the worst economic crisis since the great depression. we've come a long way this year as we lifted our country out of the depths of these crisis cease but -- crises. americans want us to lower costs for things like health care,
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prescription drugs, child care. we have a responsibility to pass legislation that will cut costs and improve american lives. that's why we need to keep working on passing build back better. we know that passing this critical legislation will lower costs from some of the most basic and essential things in every day life. and as economists from leading rating agencies said yesterday, build back better will not add to the inflationary pressures in the u.s. economy. the child care provision could alone save families thousands of dollars each year. feamtion on average tend -- families on average spend $10,000 on child care for each child under 4. build back better will dramatically lower costs by providing the largest investment in child care in american history. the same goes for prescription drugs. if you're one of the roughly
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10 million americans who rea lies on insulin for diabetes, chances are you are spending more. it is truly one of the perplexing and frustrating trens of the -- trends of the past two decades. build back better will make it so people with diabetes don't pay more than $35 a month on insulin by enabling medicare to negotiate prices in part b and part d. again, lowering the costs and improving the lives of millions of families. examples go on and on how people will have more known their pockets given their expenses. build back better cuts taxes for parents raising kids, it makes pre-k universal, it will help small business to invest in the u.s. and hire american workers and ultimately it is the best thing we can do to recapture that sunny american optimism that's been the key to our
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country's success. creating jobs, lowering costs, fighting inflation, keeping more money in people's pockets, these are things americans want and what americans need and it's what b.b.b. does. we're going to keep working on this important legislation until we get did done -- get it done. now on a much sadder note, madam president. mr. syed, the republican fixation on blocking qualified, uncontroversial and essential nominees fill roles in the biden administration has hit a new and shameful low. yesterday every single republican on the small business committee boycotted a hearing that would have held a vote on mr. syed's nomination at the number two spot at the small business. if confirmed, he would be the highest ranking muslim american in government. this is the fifth time that
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republicans have failed to show up for a committee hearing for mr. syed. to date we have yet heard a single legitimate reason for their opposition. at one point .so my colleagues questioned mr. syed's allegiance because of his affiliation with a muslim voter education group. that is repugnant. after that provoked fierce criticism, republicans came up with entirely through fabrications for their resistance. but at no point have republicans explained why mr. syed is not qualified for the job. frankly they can't because mr. syed is the definition of a qualified candidate. his nomination has been praised by hundreds of business groups including the u.s. chamber of commerce, hardly a liberal crowd. it's shameful, it's unacceptable, it's ridiculous for republicans to keep stalling on mr. syed's nomination.
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he is eminently qualified to serve in the s.b.a. why are republicans opposing mr? let me ask the question again because the question resonates, why are senate republicans opposing mr. syed's nomination. i ask my republican colleagues to drop the resistance and allow this excellent and straightforward nominee to receive confirmation. i yield the floor and note 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 comient leader. -- the minority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: well, at long last, the senate will officially turn to the ndaa. every day, world be events remind us that america faces
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serious growing threats. in too many cases, president biden's decisions have actually made things worse. so our annual opportunity for the senate to have its say is as important this year as it's ever been. over in russia, putin's preparing to escalate military hostilities along the border with ukraine. and he is using europe's reliance on russian natural gas to bully our friends. but president biden actually removed obstacles to include his brand-new pipeline that will further extend his leverage and further enrich his cronies. so i hope the senate will consider an ndaa amendment to sanction this project and to provide additional lethal support to ukraine. these initiatives have
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previously won bipartisan support, so i would hope democrats would join republicans in pushing back on moscow. china, china is flaunting major military innovations like hypersonic weapon systems, stepping up airspace intrusions over taiwan, and blaming america for their bad behavior. but while president biden and our democratic colleagues like to talk a good game about china, they have yet to really walk the walk. president biden's budget request for our military and defense does not even keep pace with president biden's inflation. in addition, while russia openly threatens its neighbors and china builds up its conventional and nuclear forces, there are reports that democrats are considering unprecedented new constraints on america's own
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nuclear options through a no first use or sole purpose policy. our allies have strong concerns about this. i hope the senate will use the ndaa process to demonstrate bipartisan support for finally modernizing our nuclear triad. that's the bedrock of deterrence and our strongest defense against these serious threats. so what about terrorism? following president biden's afghanistan disaster, we're facing new and growing threats there as well. the new taliban government has made cabinet ministers out of terrorists and the obama administration has fled out of guantanamo bay, but the biden-harris administration has still naively acted like these characters care one bit, one bit about international norms. that's why republicans have an amendment to ensure that none of the funding for afghanistan aid can flow to the taliban.
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it's an indictment of president biden's policy that such an amendment is even necessary, but yet that is where we are. in the middle east, iranian-backed terrorists are backpaging from iraq to syria. they are emboldened as our deterrence has eroded. given the multiple attacks on u.s. facilities, we are fortunate more americans haven't been killed. it may only be a matter of time before we see u.s. casualties at the hand of iranian-backed terrorists. however, in the wake of these growing threats, democrats want to use the ndaa, a bill that should strengthen our national defense, as an occasion to weaken the authorities that support our military's presence and operational flexibility by repealing the 2002 aumf. i expect a robust debate about that. i'm glad we will finally be able
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to have these debates and these votes. america needs a course correction, and the senate needs to supply it. on an entirely different matter, american families are dealing with painful inflation every single day. they have been fighting this daily battle for months now. a few months ago, a grandfather raising four grandkids in missouri told reporters he had to cancel summer camp for his 8-year-old and his 6-year-old in order to keep affording diapers for their twin younger brothers. one maryland woman told the local news she had gone to the grocery store to buy meat for her family but was turned away by the price tag and had to leave with a $2 loaf of bread instead. one man in massachusetts who cares for his elderly mother told reporters that his 94-year-old mom needs the house kept warm, so they are getting absolutely crushed, crushed by
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runaway heating costs. here's what he had to say about it. before, you would go to the store, and if you had $100, you could buy four bags of groceries and be happy. now you're lucky to get a bag with milk, orange juice, eggs, plus the oil for the house, the water bills, it's just crazy. it's so much money. how is someone supposed to survive? end quote. this persistent and painful inflation has been directly fueled by the reckless spending spree that democrats rammed through in march, even if washington democrats didn't inflict more new damage, economists still say we're going to see inflation get worse before it gets better. the democratic leader said on march 12, i do not think the dangers of inflation, at least in the near term, are very real.
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he was catastrophically wrong, and these same people want yet another multitrillion-dollar bite at the apple. look, american families know the spending part of democrats' reckless taxing and spending spree would spell disaster. 64 -- 67% just told a survey that washington should cut back on printing and spending because of inflation and rising costs. and then there is the taxing part of their reckless tax-and-spending spree. the bill that democrats are writing behind closed doors would hike taxes on the american people by an estimated $1.5 trillion. $1.5 trillion in tax increases. democrats have already turned a strong economy into a shaky economy. now they want to add the biggest tax hikes in a generation?
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a huge chunk of that is hundreds of billions of dollars for tax hikes on american industries and employers because the biden administration has become enamored with a global scheme for countries -- where countries around the world supposedly all agree to hike their tax rates together. this is an awful idea. remember, in 2019, republican policies have set up the best economy for working americans in a generation. this is in large part because we just cut taxes substantially. we made america a more attractive place to do business. so president biden wants to do just the opposite of that. thrust america into some kind of global noncompete agreement. we are supposed to promise europe and asia that we won't make america be a especially -- an especially attractive place to take jobs and prosperity.
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let me say that again. we are in the process of promising europe and asia that we won't make america an especially attractive place to bring jobs and prosperity. so look, it gets worse. president biden and secretary yellen want america to leap over this cliff first, tack the heck out of american industries while we just wait and see if our competitors actually follow suit. you had better believe china would be just thrilled to see the democrats' bill drain hundreds of billions of dollars out of our own private sector as a symbolic gesture to the rest
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of the world. democrats' tax policies are just like their energy policies. they won't build back better. they will build back beijing. they won't build back better. they will build back beijing. this is just one part of a $1.5 trillion job-killing tax hike. there are all kinds of tax increases that would hit major employers, main street small businesses, and american families. nonpartisan experts have confirmed the democrats' bill would completely break the president's promise not to raise a single penny more, he said, in taxes on middle-class households. nobody wants -- then he wants to send tens of billions of extra funding to the i.r.s. so they can hire an army of new agents to snoop and audit their way across the country, but less
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than 3% of the huge i.r.s. windfall would fund better customer service for taxpayers. finally, in the midst of all the tax hikes, democrats from new york, new jersey, and california have managed to include -- listen to this -- a massive tax cut for wealthy people who choose to reside in high-tax blue states. this bonanza for blue state millionaires and billionaires would cost almost $300 billion on its own. even "the washington post" could only marvel at the audacity of this. here's their headline. the second biggest program in the democrats' spending plan gives billions to the rich that's "the washington post" assessment of it. in fact, madam president, even though democrats want to hike
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taxes by $1.5 trillion, their bill still manages to give a net tax cut to 89% of people making between $500,000 and a million dollars, and 69% of households making over a million. this bears repeating. even though democrats want to hike taxes by $1.5 trillion, their bill still manages to give a net tax cut to 89% of people making between $500,000 and a million dollars and 69% of households making over a million. all of this is a huge blow to american competitiveness, job-killing tax hikes, but democrats make sure to look out for the ultrawealthy out on the coast. a supermajority of them get tax
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cuts. i'm almost impressed our colleagues have found a way to be this out of touch. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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thune madam president. the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. thune: thank you, madam president. madam president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: madam president, the biden border crisis continues to rage. last month u.s. customs and border protection encountered 164,303 individuals attempting to illegally cross our southern border. that's more than twice the number of encounters, customs and border protection had the previous october and the highest october number ever recorded by customs and border protection. in all, more than 1.7 million migrants were apprehended attempting to cross our southern border in fiscal year 2021, the highest number ever. we are in the midst of a very
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serious crisis, madam president, and the response from democrats and the administration were mostly crickets. democrats seem to hope that ignoring the border situation will make it go away, or at least ensure that no one pays attention. i'm pretty sure the president and his administration spent more time earlier this year fighting against the use of the word crisis to describe the situation at the border than they did actually thinking about how they might deal with the influx. and apparently the administration is still, still trying to avoid the crisis label, judging by a recent hearing where the president's nominee to head customs and border protection seemed to carefully avoid referring to the situation at the border as a crisis. madam president, if the highest number of border encounters ever recorded isn't a crisis, i'm not sure what is.
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the situation at our southern border is out of control. it's a security crisis. it's a manpower and enforcement crisis, and it's a humanitarian crisis. although, again, you'd never guess it from democrats' behavior. despite the fact that this crisis has been raging for the best part of a year now, democrats and the administration have taken essentially no meaningful action to address the situation. and that's not the worst of it. democrats' policies are actually making the situation worse. among other things, the president has significantly limited the ability of immigration and customs enforcement, and customs and border protection to enforce immigration laws. an arrest in the interior of the country dropped steeply under this administration. "the washington post" recently reported, and i quote, immigration arrests in the interior of the united states fell in fiscal year 2021 to the
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lowest level in more than a decade. end quote. and the practical effect of the president's immigration policies have been to encourage new waves of illegal immigration. it's hardly surprising. if you think that your chances of staying in the united states are good, even if you're there illegally, you're likely much more inclined to take the journey in the first place. the administration's actions or lack thereof have been compounded by democrats in congress who have been doing their best to guarantee widespread amnesty. democrats have tried to include some form of amnesty in their tax-and-spending spree. while they have been partially foiled by the ruling parliamentarian, the latest version of their bill still contains provisions for de facto amnesty for many illegal immigrants.
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the spending spree lacks restrictions on federal funding going to individuals in the country illegally, which means that illegal immigrants could end up receiving the $3,000 per-year child allowance, housing vouchers, and more. one analysis suggests that illegal immigrants could collect $10.5 billion, billion dollars, in child allowance payments next year. and i haven't even mentioned reports that the biden administration has apparently been contemplating settling lawsuits brought by individuals who came here illegally with payments up to $450,000 per person. $450,000, that's right. that's more than four times as much as the government gives to the families of soldiers killed in action and nine times, nine times as much as the government
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gives to an individual wrongly imprisoned for one year. the administration has suggested that payments will not actually be that high, but even a settlement half that size would dwarf the payments we give to the families of fallen soldiers. madam president, immigrants have helped make this country what it is today, and i am a strong supporter of legal immigration, including temporary worker visas like h-2b visas which helped employers and many others address hiring challenges. but again, madam president, immigration has to be legal. encouraging illegal immigration as democrats are doing presents a serious security risk because it makes it easier for everyone from terrorists to drug traffickers to enter the country unidentified, to say nothing of drugs like fentanyl and other illegal items. encouraging illegal immigration through lax immigration
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enforcement and amnesty also undermines respect for the rule of law. the area of immigration should not be an exception to the principle. the law has to be followed and respected. if that's basically what democrats' policies are saying, if the law doesn't matter when it comes to immigration. finally, mr. president, we need to get away from any idea that there is anything compassionate about policies that encourage individuals to come here illegally. attempting to enter the country illegally is dangerous, from gnarl perils -- natural perils to exploitation by smugglers and traffickers. amnesty and lax enforcement policies encourage thousands more individuals and families to expose themselves to the dangers of an illegal border crossing. mr. president, president biden
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and democrats could help stem this crisis right now by making it clear that immigration law will be enforced and that the only acceptable way to enter the united states is to come here legally. fortunately, it seems much more likely that the president will continue to ignore this crisis and deemphasize immigration enforcement while democrats in congress continue to push for amnesty. it's a serious failure of responsibility on the president's part and one that will continue to have serious and sometimes deadly consequences. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic whip. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, it was 158 years ago tomorrow abraham lincoln delivered what i believe was the greatest speech ever uttered by an american. he had been asked to say a few words at the dedication of the
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soldiers national cemetery in gettysburg, 40 days had passed since the soldiest fought, -- soldiers fought, the battle field kofd with 50,000 dead and wounded. it was the bloodiest battle in the hellish civil war. what good could come from butch ri and sorrow. what great purpose had been worth such staggering loss? that's what abraham lincoln pondered on his train ride to gettysburg. he spoke for less than three minutes. in those three minutes, he redefined the war for human
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dignity and human equality. he gave us profound, simple, new definition of democracy, government of the people, by the people, and for the people. he said the fallen soldiest had done all they could do. they had given their last full measure of devotion to ensure that democracy did not perish from this earth. now lincoln said it was up to us, the living, to advance their unfinished business, their unfinished work, in his words, to salvage from all of that death a burden of freedom. he said it was a test to see if a nation that all men are created equal can long endure, an important question then, an important question to this day. can our democracy endure? it's a question that lincoln pondered not just at gettysburg
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but throughout his life. he had given a speech as a young lawyer and newly elected state legislator, and he was 29, it was a challenging, anxiety was high following a stock market panic. there was growing violence in the -- in america that day. abolitionists were being killed by proslavery defenders, lincoln feared that what he called the justice of the mob might replace the rule of law. sound familiar? at a time of such anxiety he questioned if they would use the power to tear down the institutions of democracy. he warned that if american democracy were ever to perish,
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quote, it must spring up amongst us, it cannot come from abroad. if destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be our author and finisher. i heard those words quoted by a thoughtful member of the house of representatives on the night of january 6, 2021, after the mob that attacked this capitol had gone and congress returned to certify the electoral ballots and declare joe biden the president of the united states. the weapons of military programs we will debate are important, essential to protect america, but weapons alone cannot save us if we don't understand what we are fighting to defend. there is only one sure way to preserve american democracy, lincoln told us, we must know our history. we should study that declaration of independence and constitution, he said, as if they were a bible so that we revere the principles which
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build our democracy. our dpo democracy can't -- our democracy can't survive if we don't remember all who died at gettysburg, that all people are created equal. our democracy cannot survive if we only abide by the rule of law only when it serves us, and it will not abide if we see each other as enemies rather than friends as one nation that we all love. we have seen that this week in the house of representatives. gary wells wrote, up to the civil war, the united states was referred to as a plural noun, as the united states are a free country. after gettysburg it became singular, the united states is a free country. as it says above your head, mr. president, ee e. plur bus
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unum. perhaps we could try harder to hear the mystic words of memory, what a phrase that unites us. president lincoln had the courage to look forward with hope. in his four short years as president, he helped to enable america to enter the industrial age but another new age was on the horizon. we need to balance the global economy with the global ecosystem. i think about that gettysburg address and i was asked to give the gettysburg address many years ago and i tried to set out whatever i had to say in 271 words. i think i did a fair job, but i
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would give myself a passing grade at best but it was a complete shock to my audience when i stopped at 271 words and lincoln said that a speech doesn't need to be eternal to be immortal. in our lives as public servants, we are called on to speak very often and i'm reminded of the impact lincoln had to capture the moment, to give people hope and to craft phrases which endure to this day as some of the most masterful use of the english language. i hope tomorrow we can take a moment to recall our childhood education when we're taught the gettysburg address to recite what we can of it and to believe even in these dark times that we face they were even darker when they were delivered and this nation endured.
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mr. president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: thank you. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. reed: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. i request that the quorum call
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be called off. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. i rise to discuss the fiscal year 2022 national defense authorization act. over the coming days the senate will consider this bill which the armed services committee passed by a broad bipartisan margin of 23-3 in july. i look forward to debating and improving this bill as we all work toward ensuring our military has the right tools and capabilities to combat threats around the globe and keep americans safe. first, i would like to acknowledge ranking member inhofe whose leadership on this committee and this body has been invaluable. his commitment to our men and women in uniform is unwavering and he was instrumental in helping produce this bipartisan legislation. as we debate the ndaa, we must keep in mind that the united states is engaged in a strategic competition with china and
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russia. these near-peer rivals do not accept u.s. global leadership or the international norms that have helped keep the peace for the better part of a century. this strategic competition is likely to intensify due to shifts in the military balance of power and die verging -- die verging views, and it is unfolding due to climate change and emergence of highly disruptive technologies. the inner connective nature of these threats will drive how we drive our tools of national power to respond. the passage of the fy-22 ndaa will be a critical step in meeting the challenges before us. turning to the specifics of this year's defense bill, the ndaa authorizes $740 billion for the department of defense and
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$27 billion for national security programs within the department of energy. for the first time in years, this legislation, like the president's budget request, does not include a separate overseas contingency fund or o o.c.o. request. this bill contains a number of important provisions that i would like to high. to begin, we have a duty to censure that the united states can outcompete, deter and prevail against near-peer rivals. the ndaa supports the department of defense in this endeavor by providing the resources needed by the combatant commanders to carry out the national defense strategies or n.d.s. every four years the department reports on the n.d.s. for the national security objectives of the administration. the 2018n.d.s. provided a
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framework and they are -- and the d.o.d. will release a new strategy in the coming months. in this regard, this bill has a commission on the national defense strategy for the fourth coming n.d.s. in order to boost our military advantage, last year the armed services committee created the pacific deterrence initiative or p.d.i. to better align d.o.d. resources in support of military to military partnerships to address the challenges posed by china. this year's bill extends and modifies the p.d.i. and reiterates the committee's intent to increase our forced posture in the indo-pacific to increase readiness and presence and to build the capabilities of our founding fathersers in and allies to counter the -- of -- that future investments under
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p.d.i. should focus on military and nonmilitary infrastructure in the indo-pacific region. this will assist in distributed military operations and it will be more effective in countering predatory chinese infrastructure practices. the bill requires the secretary of defense to provide recurring briefings on efforts to deter military coercion. it compels the feasibility of the united states defense cooperation with taiwan. it is important to acquire asystemic capabilities most likely to make the chinese government question their ability to take the island by force. i want to emphasize, however, that our nation's ability to deter china cannot be based on military might alone. we must strengthen our network of allies and partners, which
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will be essential to any strategy in the indo-pacific region. we must also ensure that as we shift to focus attention on the indo-pacific, we do not lose sight of priorities in other areas like europe. this year's bill also authorizes the continuation of the european deterrence initiative or the e.d.i. recognizing the continued needs to invest and support our european allies and partners as we work for the shared goals of deterring russian aggression, addressing competition and mitigating shared security concerns, the most recent one being the amassing of approximately 90 russian battalions on the border of ukraine. turn to personnel. the key factor that makes the united states the greatest military power in the world is its people. we need to ensure that our
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uniformed personnel know every day how much we appreciate what they do and that we literally have their backs. congress has done a good job in providing benefits to the military and their family, and this year's defense bill continues to do that. but our military is showing the strain of two decades of continuous deployments, and i'm concerned that there has been a dangerous erosion of trust within the chain of command and issues such as racism, extremism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault have been allowed to fester and create fiction and division. the department of defense is addressing those issues, but congress must provide guidance and resources. to this end, the bill strengthens the all-volunteer force and improves the quality of life of the men and women of the total force. the active duty, the national guard, and the reserves.
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their families and importantly the department of defense civilian employees who contribute significantly to the effectiveness of our operations. it reinforces the principles of a strong, diverse, exclusive, that forced cohesion requires a command climate that does not tolerate extremism or sexual misconduct or racism and that quality health care is a fundamental necessity for servicemembers and their families. importantly, this ndaa includes the funding necessary to support a 2.7% pay raise for both military servicemembers and the d.o.d. civil workforce. we have also included a provision that would amend the military selective service act to require the registration of women for selective service, and i'm proud of this provision which passed the armed services committee on a broad bipartisan basis. society, the military, and the
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nature of warfare itself have evolved significantly since the 1948 military selective service act was passed. back then, women were denied the opportunity to serve in combat roles and key leadership positions and entire technologies and platforms didn't even exist. today all military occupations, including combat forces, are open to women, and military success depends heavily on servicemembers with advanced education and technical skills in stem, cyber, medicine, languages, and more. to be clear, i am hopeful that we will never have to draft again. if we do, however, it will be under circumstances so dire and existential that to voluntarily choose to enter the fight with anything less than our very best would be supremely foolish and
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potentially fatal. if we are going to have a selective service system, women must be a part of it. basic equality and military readiness demand parity between the sexes to protect our country and uphold our values. in the meantime, it's time to end outdated sex discrimination and remove it from the official policies of the federal role. the bill also creates a new category of bereavement leave for military personnel that would permit servicemembers to take up to two weeks of leave in connection with the death of a spouse or a child. similarly, in an effort to provide greater care and support to our military men and women, it increases parental leave to 12 weeks for all servicemembers for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. it establishes a basic needs allowance to ensure that all
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servicemembers can meet the basic needs of their families and requires parity in special and incentive pays for members of the reserve and the active components. in addition, i'm proud that this bill makes historic changes to the military justice system to combat the scourge of sexual assault and related misconduct within the military. sexual assault is an unconscionable crime and a pervasive problem in the u.s. military and in american society writ large. when it comes to the military, one of the basic ethics is one must protect your comrades and your subordinates. one cannot exploit them. sexual assault and sexual harassment is an example of unconscionable exploitation, and it must be eliminated. we must take comprehensive
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action, though, to halt sexual misconduct, hold offenders accountable, and support survivors. while the military tries to stop sexual assault in its ranks, it simply hasn't been enough. i commend president biden, the department of defense and the independent review commission for their work in proposals which we have considered in our markup and which are reflected in the bill. we will continue to work with the administration and the house to move toward enacting this momentous change. turning now to the area of air, land, and sea power. with respect to our services, we have taken steps to improve the capabilities, their readiness, and their ability to fight and win. this bill makes significant efforts to improve the readiness of the navy and marine corps aircraft, ships, and weapon systems. it provides considerable investments in our next-generation arlie burke
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class destroyers, including an increase of $1.7 billion to restore a second guided missile destroyer to this year's budget and $125 million for long lead material for a destroyer in fiscal year 2023. the bill authorizes also $4.8 billion for the columbia class submarine program and for industrial-based development and expansion in support of the virginia and columbia shipbuilding programs, and that would be an increase of $130 million. i was up at quonset point, rhode island. it is the place where all submarines start their construction with the deputy secretary of events, secretary hicks, and we saw the progress that we're making to build two virginia-class submarines a year and turn out the first columbia class ballistic missile ship to replace the ohio class. we're moving forward.
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and frankly, many believe -- and i do -- that this is the best form of deterrence that we have. as we deploy more submarines, we will have a greater ability to deter potential conflict. also this bill increases the landing helicopter assault replacement by $350 million, and the expeditionary fast transport vessels by $270 million. growing our surface and undersea warfare capabilities will be vital to our success in the indo-pacific region, and this ndaa makes important progress in this area, and it is consistent with our defense strategy of shifting our focus to the pacific. and when you do that, you shift to the resources of the navy and the marine corps. similarly, the bill authorizes funding to strengthen naval aviation, including five
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additional f-35 fighter variants, one additional e-2-d hawkeye aircraft, two additional c-130-j hurricane open rule east aircraft, an additional casey 130-j tanker. two additional ch-53-k helicopters. and two trite an unmanned aerial systems. now, with respect to the air force, the bill also increases authorization funding by providing additional f-35-a fighter, five additional f-18 fighters and extensions on the minimal capacity of several air force platforms. with respect to the army, i'm pleased that this bill advances research and development in important future technologies and makes broad investments in generational army modernization efforts and continues to upgrade significant enduring capabilities. our bill focuses on filling
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critical deficiencies and increasing investments in rapidly evolving demands. it further funds rapid deployment in fielding or land-based long-range fires, including the precision strike missile, the medium-range capability and long-range hypersonic weapons. the bill also provides funding for future long-range assault aircraft and future attack reconnaissance aircraft, increased funding for the future tactical unmanned aircraft system, and authorizes full funding for the ah-64 apache attack helicopters and the uh-60 blackhawk utility helicopters. we are at a critical junction where we are in a technological race with our near-peer competitors. we have enjoyed a technological lead over the last many decades. that lead is shrinking, and we have to not only develop the
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best of new technologies, we have to get it in the hands of our troops as quickly as possible, and that is what we are trying to do in this legislation. again, the issue is deterrence first and what happened help deter any conflict will be the realization that they're going up against the most sophisticated technologically capable military in the world manned by the most dedicated and skillful women and men in the world, and that's what we are hoping to encourage. likewise, with respect to the army, the bill supports the modernization of its ground combat vehicles, including the m-1 abrams tanks, bradley fighting vehicles, pallatin self- propelled and tactic-type vehicles. having the platforms, having the
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personnel is critical, but they have got to be ready to go, and we have taken great pride in trying to improve the readiness of our forces. this ndaa authorizes more than $2.8 billion for the additional military construction process after funding other larger projects in the budget request. this bill includes a number of provisions that will help acquisition outcomes by strengthening the ability of d.o.d. to analyze the defense industrial base, evaluate acquisition programs, and implement acquisition reform efforts. it also streamlines processes to allow the pentagon to invest in and incorporate advanced commercial technologies to support defense missions and strengthen d.o.d. small business programs to allow partnerships with innovative high-tech companies. post-world war ii until very recently, we were really in an industrial age, and the united
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states led the world. we have now moved to a post-industrial age where the new technologies, the new innovations aren't coming out of government labs or the bell labs. they're coming out of small businesses. they're coming out of young people who have come up with a great idea. and what we want to do and what we want to empower the department of defense to do is to be able to get those ideas, develop them, and incorporate them rapidly into our military forces. that means we have to develop partnerships with small business, we have to think in a different way. we have to think about a more entrepreneurial acquisition system rather than this is the way we have always done it and we're going to keep doing it. and we hope we can work together with the d.o.d. to -- with the department of defense to start
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that going forward. we also have another area that we have to pay attention to, and that's the area of the modernization of our nuclear triad. i recognize our concerns voiced by some of my colleagues about the cost of and genuine disagreements about our nation's nuclear policy. from my perspective, nuclear deterrence is the bedrock of our national defense. for our nuclear deterrent to be credible and to ensure these weapons never to be used -- and again, the goal of our nuclear policy ironically is never to use them, but they must be capable and ready for use. the deterrence that we've enjoyed for many, many decades has been gained by the acknowledgment by all other nuclear powers that we are more than capable to respond. our allies and partners depend on the u.s. nuclear umbrella. that's one of the reasons why
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the proliferation which president kennedy thought would be almost universal has not developed. modernization of our strategic forces is necessary to ensure their dependability. one thing i think everyone agrees on and i think often gets lost in discussion is another factor. arms control and modernization of our nuclear forces are inherently linked together. we must reinvigorate our efforts on arms control. we must invigorate them so that we do not have a situation where the proliferation issue becomes more obvious and more dangerous. so even as we modernize, we should seek ways to promote strategic stability, like the extension of the new start
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treaty -- agreement, rather, and follow-on talks to further reduce nuclear stockpiles. the best way to reduce nuclear weapons is through negotiated mutual arms reductions rather than unilateral actions. that has been the history of the cold war. with the soviets and the united states, we were able, with every presidency, to come up with some type of agreement. unfortunately, we took, i think, a less aggressive posture in the last administration, but we have to renew significantly our arms control efforts and make them clear that it is mutual interest of russia but also china, because china is a growing nuclear power with a very deliberate plan to increase significantly the nuclear arsenals. we have to get a situation where there is a at least trilateral
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negotiation between the united states, china, and russia for our own mutual benefit. and part of that is also not just looking at numbers, but looking at the safeguards that each country places on the use of nuclear weapons. we do not want a situation where there's an accidental launch that triggers a catastrophic response. we have much to do. i will emphasize again that simply rebuilding our triad without rebuilding our diplomacy is not the best path forward. now what we've tried to do to enhance deterrence is a number of factors. first, recapital iesing and -- recapitalizing the nuclear triad, ensuring the capability and reliability of our nuclear stockpile, our delivery systems and our infrastructure,
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increasing capacity in theater and homeland missile defense, and strengthening nonproliferation programs. we have, particularly our land-based missile systems, installations that were built in the 1960's. they are roughly 60 years old. they are showing the wear and tear. and the delivery vehicles are also old. that is part of our modernization program. the columbia is the first of our new ballistic missile submarines. we have to replace the ohio class because, frankly, that fleet will literally wear out. they won't be capable to go to sea at some point in the future, and that's why we're beginning right now. we're also looking at our new sophisticated armor that will complement the other two legs of the triad. and because this involves the department of energy and the
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national nuclear security administration, we've authorized $20 billion. the department of energy's other defense activities at $920 million. and the department of energy's nuclear energy activities at $149.8 million. this is all part of having an effective deterrence. now, a -- as we've seen adversaries are developing capabilities at an alarming rate. as i mentioned before, and particularly with regard to hypersonics, it is especially clear that china is working to develop capabilities that evade current missile defense capabilities poa seed by the -- possessed by the united states and allies. to address this, the missile defense agency is authorized to develop a missile defense interceptor for the ground-based system. it authorizes prociewrmt of the iron dome -- procurement.
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of the iron dome from the state of israel, the arrow 3 upper tier intercepter program to support our closest ally in the middle east -- israel. there was a barrage emanating from their neighbors of approximately 4,500 missiles over the last year, and iron dome, which is, had been created by the israeli government knocked down a significant number of those missiles protecting the state of israel. so this is not an academic exercise. this is supporting a close ally. and it's also clear that, as i mentioned before, china is expanding its nuclear weapons stock at a faster rate than we have seen from any other nation. it appears that china is seeking to at least reach parity with the united states and russia in efforts to become a world-class
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military. and to respond to this and other countries' proliferation efforts, the national defense authorization act authorizes $239.84 million for cooperative threat reduction, programs to step the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological threats around the world. if you take those three aspects aspects, improving our military capabilities, invigorating our diplomacy, and actively using cooperative threat reduction to lower the ability and capability of those that have nuclear weapons, that's the best path ahead. now, we have understood over the last several years that what is causing a great deal of disruption in this world in every aspect is technology -- social media, cyberspace
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activities. and we, again, are trying to hone and invigorate our technological innovation. it's long given us the strongest economic power on the world and military power also. it must be nurtured and maintained through careful investments strongly issued from both the public and private sector. i believe we have an advantage because we have such a great educational system, a great entrepreneurial system, the creativity and the talent of the american people. but we have to focus that on needs for our military and national priorities. and our top priority for congress must be maintaining strong investment in technology areas that we know will shape future conflicts. this year's ndaa includes multiple provisions to accelerate the modernization of
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the department of defense by investing in research and development of cutting-edge technologies and delivering them in a timely manner to the force. specifically, it will authorizes an increase of more than $1 billion for science and technology programs that fund cutting-edge research and prototyping activities at universities, small businesses, defense labs and industry, including in critical areas such as artificial intelligence, microelectronics, advanced materials, 5b and biotechnology. the bill also authorizes an increase of more than $500 million in l funding for doper, the defense advanced projects administration. dopper is a leader in research. they have been conducting high-risk, high-payoff research for years, including in such
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areas as quantum computing and assisting with universities to accelerate their research. importantly, it implements a number of recommendations from the national security commission on artificial intelligence which the armed services committee established in a previous ndaa. the $500 million of funding will be extremely critical to the future and will produce, i think, some of the breakthrough technologies that not only we will use but will become commercial products for our national economy. recognizing, again, the competition between the united states and china on certain military relevant technologies, the bill strengthens the language of the chips act to ensure the national network for microelectronics research and development to support the development of world-leading domestic microelectric technologies and manufacturing capabilities. now, i mentioned one of our
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problems is we're looking back at industrial age in which we were the dominant power in every dimension to a new postindustrial age where technological innovation has been distributed. other countries, because of the nature of cyber and other technologies are beginning to catch up with us and in some cases pass us. often and especially in the department of defense, one of the problems has been the procurement and acquisition practices of the department. they have been convoluted, poorly communicated and burdened with inertia that makes partnering with private industry far too difficult. as america confronts threats around the globe that are evolving, as i said, at unprecedented speeds, we must find a better way to identify defense needs, communicate them and deliver them in a timely manner. there are several areas that if
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transformed could allow d.o.d. to more effectively do this. the fiscal year 2022 ndaa makes important process by establishing an independent commission to review and assess the planning, programming, budgeting, and execution or ppbe process and identify areas of reform. the ppbe process has for many decades, since the 1960's, given d.o.d. leaders a way to evaluate the resources they need and to deliver those to the troops. however, as i mentioned consistently, it's a bit of a relic of the industrial age. it came in under robert mcin a march are a in 1961 -- robert mcnamara, the chief executive of the ford company. and at that time it was the most sophisticated way to manage
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resources and do research, et cetera, but that was the height of the industrial age. we're now in a situation much different. so we need to modernize the procurement system and the acquisition system that we have in place. we've got to make it more rapid, more agile, more capable of absorbing new products and getting them into the hands of the troops. so in addition to establishing this independent review commission, the ndaa requires the d.o.d. comptroller along with the d.o.d.'s chief information officer and the chief data officer to submit a plan to consolidate the i.t. systems used to manage data and support the ppbe process. one of the things we've discovered is there is no really integrated data plan in the department of defense. the largest federal entity. there are multiple different
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brands of software systems and different brands of hardware. some can talk to others, some can't. there is no successful company today that has such a, shall we say, slightly mature information process and system, and we've got to change it, and we're directing that change. similarly, management transformation is badly needed in the department. as i said, it's one of the largest bureaucracies in the world and the government accounting office has put the pentagon's approach to business management on its high-risk list, citing its vulnerability to waste, fraud, and abuse, inability to pass a financial audit, and a culture that remains resistant to change. to spur transformation, this ndaa requires the secretary of defense to improve the pentagon management visitors by leveraging best practices and expertise from commercial
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industry, public administration, and business schools. and i'm confident these steps will allow us to leverage the best of american ingenuity and market talent that drive innovation. and at the end of the day, we should think about management as a defense capability like any others. we hope we are opening up a new day of more efficient and sophisticated management, more integrated communication, and doing it in a way that will produce results that will get the best technology into the hands of our fighting men and women. and one factor that we all are obvious of every day is the cyber domain has impacted everything we do. so there is absolutely no surprise that it's impacted the defense department and its industrial base. and what we need to do is ensure
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that our industrial base has improved cybersecurity, that they are not the back door, which our adversaries will use to enter and gain access to even more critical elements of our national security. as a recent solar winds, microsoft server and colonial pipeline cases indicate, we are not dealing with these threats. adversaries are clearly advantaged in the cyber domain and are likely to succeed in penetrating static defenses. therefore, in ndaa requires the development of a joint zero-trust cybersecurity strategy and a model architecture for the department of defense information network and a data management strategy. it also authorizes the increase of $268.4 million across the
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d.o.d. to support cybersecurity efforts. we all recognize that the cyber is a persistent threat to everything we do. as one very thoughtful gentleman said years ago at a function i was at, breakthrough technology like cyber has two effects. it makes good things better, and bad things worse, and that's exactly what we are seeing every day. so we have to exploit the good things, get them into our system, and be much more vigilant in protecting us from the bad things. and as the covid crisis, along with the -- this cyber issue has made clear, we need to coordinate industrial policy to ensure that we have a robust, secure, and reliable technology and industrial base, especially in critical and emerging technology.
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we need to give the d.o.d. the tools and expertise to understand its supply chain and its physical security challenges, its financial challenges, and influence from commercial market trends. to that end, this bill directs the comptroller general to conduct a comprehensive assessment of research, development, tessments, and evaluation authorities and other similar authorities and brief congress on its findings. the pandemic has shown many interesting things. many companies and suppliers to our defense have thought their products were coming from the united states only to discover that critical components came from elsewhere, and sometimes elsewhere were countries that were not particularly friendly to us. so we have to look seriously at our supply chain. not only with technical skills which have to be improved, but
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also at cybersecurity. and finally, while i have spent most of my time speaking about future challenges and how we prepare the department of defense to face them, we cannot lose sight surrounding our withdrawal from afghanistan. after nearly 20 years of war, enormous sacrifice by american and coalition military, diplomatic and intelligence personnel and vast u.s. investment, the afghan takeover has failed and the taliban has taken control. we have undertaken a series of hearings seeking to understand the collapse of the afghan national defense and security forces. while there is a temptation to close the book on afghanistan and simply move on to the long-term strategic competition with china and russia, we must learn the lessons of the last two decades to ensure that our future counterterrorism efforts in afghanistan or anyplace else
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continue to hold violent extremists at bay. and i am very pleased because senator duckworth, one of our most distinguished members of the committee, and a courageous combat helicopter veteran, we share something in common. senator duckworth's alive day, the day she survived the shootdown of her helicopter, is the same day as my birthday. that is as close as i will come to a hero. the top line defense number this this bill, together with the allocation set by chairman leahy for defense and nondefense funding across the 12 appropriations bills provides a realistic balance for funding the military and the rest of the federal government. once we have completed work on this important authorization bill, we need to complete the appropriations process. it would be a tremendous mistake
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and harmful for our national security, our economic prosperity, and our public health to resort to a continuing resolution to fund the government for an extensive period. i have calculated roughly that if we go into a yearlong continuing resolution, the department of defense will lose $36 billion, and the consequences of that would be staggering. because it becomes sort of a snowball rolling down the hill. that $36 billion because of waste, abuse, inability to spend certain moneys that might be available but can't be withdrawn, all of that would create a tremendous impact. particularly at the moment where we face challenges across the globe. we have the near-peer competition with russia and china. we have a very dangerous situation in ethiopia where their forces are approaching the
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capitol and there would be threats against our personnel in the embassy. we have a situation in the sudan which is complicated. we have across the board situations where we need to be ready to go looking at the threats, not looking internally at how we're going to pay to keep the lights on. so, again, to avoid this self-inflicted damage, we have to pass a budget as well as this authorization bill. now, let me conclude by once again thanking ranking member inhofe and my colleagues on the committee for working thoughtfully and on a bipartisan basis to develop this important piece of legislation. i'd also like to thank the staff who worked tirelessly on this bill throughout the year. and tirelessly is an understatement. while we were leaving after our last vote, they were staying
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hours later to get this bill in shape to pass and then to begin a dialogue with the house. and it is the staff of both sides. i salute my republican colleagues' staffers and my staffers. they have done a superb job. and i look forward to a thoughtful debate on the issues as we go forward. now, mr. president, before i yield the floor, i would ask unanimous consent that leslie ashton and kenny pease, government accountability office detailees of the senate armed services committee have floor privileges during consideration of the fiscal year 2022 national defense authorization act. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: with that, i yield the floor. -- mr. reed: with that, i yield the floor. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be recognized for such time as i shall consume. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. inhofe: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: now i ask unanimous consent that i be recognized for such time as i shall consume. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: thank you. well, first of all, it's -- this is a big deal, what we're embarking on now. it's something that people understand it's the most important thing we do around here. and let me just say my partner, jack reed, we have been doing this a long time.
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and i have often said how fortunate i am. you know, we hear all year out there in the real world how everybody hates everybody in washington. we don't like -- we want to compete with each other. but you know, every year when we do the ndaa -- and that means the national defense authorization act -- this is the biggest and the most important bill of the year. even though people think it's all happening inside of this two or three-day period, it's not. it's something that goes on all year long. we have gotten to know each other very well. we know areas -- some areas where we have differences, but very rarely do we have differences that would impair our mission, and our mission is the most important mission that we have year-round. so i appreciate very much chairman reed, what he has been
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doing, along with me together, what we have done together. the ndaa has a long history of bipartisanship, and senator reed and i have worked together to get this bill through the committee with an overwhelming bipartisan 23-3 vote to bring it to the floor. that's where we are today. i mean, that's something you don't hear about in washington, that you can pass something out of a committee by a vote of 23- 23-3. we did. we did it because this is a bill that is done by the members. the world is getting -- it's more dangerous by the day. we know that's the case. one notable example of what's happening now in the ukraine border just weeks after conducting its largest military exercise in 40 years, russia came dancing in, advancing a huge military buildup on the
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border. in fact, the defense minister from the ukraine was in my office this morning and was talking about all the things that are going on there. according to the image that we have by satellite, we're seeing tanks, we're seeing missiles, we're seeing artillery and here is why i am really concerned. even military ambulances. now, why would putin be putting military ambulances if he were not expecting casualties? the answer is he wouldn't. so we have an idea what's going to happen there. in addition to this equipment, experts are reporting that 90,000 russian combat troops are amassed along ukraine's border. these troops are in a more threatening posture than they have ever been before. they are in the south and in the north. they are knocking on the door of kiev. all that is going on right now.
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it might sound crazy that russia would want to deploy so many forces now in november to a region where the winters are brutally cold, but here's something not many people really think about, and that is that frozen ground is easier to move around heavy equipment like tanks and artillery. now, i'm not the only one who is sounding the alarm on this. earlier this year, senator rounds and congressman trent kelly and i visited romania, which is like ukraine, sits on the front lines of russian aggression. at that time, romanian military officials warned us that russia was moving from a defensive to an offensive posture in the black sea. we're seeing it now. everything that we're predicting, it's happening now. that asset is absolutely right.
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putin is capitalizing on what he perceives as the united states weakness. he knows that our nato allies are disturbed by the catastrophe in afghanistan. and the european nations fear the united states is no longer interested in transatlantic security. the president shouldn't have done what he did and i think most americans know that. it was a disaster the way he put this thing together in afghanistan and now we know where we are on this. it's tempting to say that we've seen this before, but i don't think we have just like this. so this is about america, this is about nato. it's the credibility and the capability and that's why the ndaa is so important every year, but especially this year. first, let's be frank. russia is far from our only
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threat. in 2008 -- where is this? this is a document that a lot of people have looked at and thought why didn't we do this before? this was back in, i think, what was it -- about five years ago. it was put together. we had what we considered to be the top six democrats and the top six republicans on defense and put this book together. it's a very brief book that we've been following. this has been our bible. we've been doing this for a long time and the things that we were predicting at that time are actually coming to -- becoming a reality. it tells us for the first time -- this is significant. people don't understand this. for the first time we are -- we have two major adversaries at the same time. this hasn't happened before, and, you know, we're talking about russia, yeah, that's significant, but you heard me say this before, the chinese
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communist party has been investing heavily in modernizing its military. over the last two decades their military spending has gone up 450% just in the last two -- two decades. now, we're not doing that over here. i mean we -- i have to say, and everyone realizes this, communist countries have a great advantage. they can move and move quickly and they don't seem to have any limitations. now we're seeing the results of the investment that they've tested hypersonic missiles that we don't even have anymore. i have to say that again. hypersonic missiles is something they have used and tested and we don't have it. we don't have a counter to it. they are leapfrogging us in artificial intelligence and rapidly expanding their nuclear
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carsal infrastructure. these investments in technical ability are threatening taiwan and other allies in the indo-pacific. ambassador b. kim cho was in my office, the ambassador of taiwan, we were looking at things going on there just like we're looking at from the russian area. but the threat china poses to our own interest can't be overstated or underestimated. meanwhile, north korea -- so it's not just those two countries, north korea is out there, rawb is out there -- iran is out there and they are continuing their threatening behavior. north korea is conducting missile tests of their own and iran threatens united states troops and our interests most
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recently we've seen in syria. the terrorist threat in -- in afghanistan is also resurging thanks to the disastrous drawdown that continues to undermine the u.s. credibility. we know that i.c.e. -- isis-k threatens our homeland. a lot of people don't understand and don't believe the threat that's out there. now we know when they will be able to strike us. it's closer than you think. as close as six months from now the senate armed services committee was told that could happen. i don't say it to be dramatic, it is a reality. the world is more dangerous than its ever been in my lifetime and people reminded me over and over again yesterday, since it was my
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birthday yesterday, how long it has been. national security needs to be the top priority. without a strong military defending our way of life, nothing else matters. we can talk about other things, but it doesn't really matter if we can't do that. since world war ii we've ensured peace through the world by projecting strength. our military should and must serve as a strong deterrent to our adversaries and they got to know that they can't beat us. some people question that but they've got to know that they can't beat us and we've got to show them. we are fully aware they have things that we don't have, technology that we don't have and this is something that we haven't dealt with before. president biden's inadequate military budget request, the irresponsible drawdown in afghanistan, something he shouldn't have done, the lack of
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commitment to shared nuclear security, our -- calling that -- are calling that into question. it's evidence that we aren't prioritizing national defense and we -- we already have seen what happens when we don't prioritize national defense. we see upticks in destabilizing threatening behavior, exactly what putin is doing right now. so just imagine what would happen if putin and xi thought they stood a chance to beat us if we didn't turn things around and that could happen. so it's -- it's something that is reality today that people don't understand and should understand. americans take for granted the idea that our military is the best. when i go back to not just my state of oklahoma, but all around the country, people assume that. i am old enough to remember what
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happened at the tail end of world war ii. we learned a lesson, we learned to be prepared and for a long period of time we had the best of everything. we had the best modern equipment, all of this. that isn't the case today. americans take for granted we have the best of everything, but we don't. it's just not true anymore. don't just take my word for it. don't just take it from me. a couple of weeks ago our nation's number two military adversary, general heyten, i don't know anyone who would argue with general heyten, he told us how china is on pace to surpass us if we don't do something to change what's going on today. that's general heyten, i don't know of a more knowledgeable person in america or elsewhere. we can meet the military challenges.
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we can put our country back on track and that will take investment and strategy. congress has a very important role to play here. we passed the national defense authorization act and defense appropriations each year and every year we give our military what it needs and -- to set this thing right. now, that's -- i'm proud to say that this year's ndaa goes a long ways to making our country more secure. i'm not saying it's perfect but it's very good and we're -- a necessary start. that's what this is all about now. that's what we're going to pass. i'm talking about tomorrow and the next day and going into this long process, it includes both the house and the senate and, you know, so let's start with one of the biggest ways to strengthen our national defense, authorizing an additional $25 billion in funding for the department of defense. this is just a floor for defense
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spending. it's important to understand that this president has not been a good president in terms of building the national defense. he just isn't. you know, his budget requests shortchanges our national defense. if you put his budget numbers in -- in terms of defense and nondefense, the amount that goes to nondefense averages about 16% increase, the amount that goes to defense is 1.6 chief -- 1.6% increase. it is the president's budget. it's not my budget. it gives you an idea where we are. the emphasis is not on defense. it should be. president biden's defense request doesn't keep pace with
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inflation. inflation is above 1.6%. it actually cut funding for our military even as we face the growing threats that i mentioned and we're talking about the -- the -- compared to the inflation rate and what's happening right now. so i'm glad the armed services committee almost unanimously adopted my amendment to increase the department of defense's budget top line. this is the bare minimum to meet the threats that we face. the bill also makes sure this money is spent the right way. as we have for the past few years, we are using the -- the 2018 national defense strategy. that's this book i referenced just a minute ago, as kind of our road map and we are using this for that. and the ndaa focuses on the --
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on the indo-pacific, which is our priority theater by emphasizing investment in the region through the pacific deterrence initiative, the p.d.i., which we started in last year's bill. it's the way -- the way this works is we are -- it's continuing as time goes by. we have a bill, the bill is activated usually in -- in december, but then we're already into the next year. so while this seems -- people are saying you're only talking about one bill a year, it doesn't really work out that way and it strengthens our supply chains so we're not relying upon china, we're doing that right now, it addresses threats posed by information warfare and deters the foreign malign influence and stands strong against russia and perhaps most importantly it provides critical lethal aid to ukraine.
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and we -- we know that these things are working. while radios and cold-weather gear are needed, they won't deter putin's strategy and am -- ambitions, weapons like the javelin and antitank missiles, on the other hand, remind him that invading and annexing kiev will have real and concrete costs. we know that china is expanding had their nuclear weapons. we've got to keep it safe, secure and effective. that's why the ndaa supports the nuclear modernization our military commanders sale is their -- commanders say is their top priority. it provides support for our allies, partners around the world. unfortunately our allies and partners are questioning our commitment right now after what happened in afghanistan and they are feeling like we -- they were
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being told and not consulted. they didn't even know that withdrawal that should not have taken place that did take place in afghanistan is one they were not even aware of. it provides the reassurance that the american credibility that they desperately need to rebuild and cement those relationships with strong allies and partners around the world, we will ensure the balance of power in our favor, but we're not there yet. when it comes to hard power, this bill makes serious investments in equipment we need to fight and win wars now, growing our naval fleet, expanding next-generation fighter capability and providing for the largest investment in military construction in a decade. and it looks to the future too. we know that we need to accelerate innovation and develop the technology that's going to help defeat whatever our enemies might throw our way.
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yet, in many of these emerging technologies, we risk falling behind. in some cases we already have fallen behind. it's kind of hard for us to accept that in america as we went through several decades, everything since the second world war of not falling behind, but we have now. this year's ndaa invests in technology that puts us back with our competitors, that's our goal, things like artificial intelligence, hypersonic weapons, 5g, these are areas we are working on to get back in the driver's seat where we have fallen behind. it is hard to say that america has fallen behind. general heyten said something that i think is important for everyone to hear. he said and this is in quotes now, he said we must focus on speed and reinserting speed back
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in the process of the pentagon and that means taking risks, that means learning from failures, that means falling fast and moving fast. i have to say that general heyten is one of the greatest warriors of our time and we should be listening to him. we have serious problems. we have the policies and authorities in place to let the pentagon move quickly and as general hyten put it, fail fast. as he retires this week, i think it's clear that he is a national hero, and he knows what's going on. right now, too much is hampered by bureaucracy, yet the pentagon, the ndaa encourages the pentagon to move faster, to take risks, to jump-start the innovation that we need for success. but we have to realize that, in fact, this is really the most important thing this bill does.
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we take care of -- people talk all the time about how much we spend on military. i hear a lot of people around don't think we need a strong military. a lot of them talk about, well, we spend more on our military than russia and china put together. yeah, that's true. but we have a cost that others don't have. communist countries don't have the cost of taking care of their people. in fact, the most important thing that we do is take care of our troops. even though china and russia are building up and modernizing their militaries, they don't take care of their people. they don't claim to take care of their people, and we do. the most expensive thing we do in our military is to take care of our military, take care of the schools and the people who are out there taking the risks. this bill takes care of our troops in so many ways. it improves their health and their health care. it provides education and child care for their children. it makes sure their spouses can have meaningful employment as
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they move from area to area. it's a unique problem that our spouses do have. as they are moving around the country. and so, again, we are competing with china and russia and other countries. none of them have this problem, this greatest expense that we do. our servicemembers represent a great investment in the country. if they do have to go into harm's way, it's our responsibility to make sure that they are the best prepared, best equipped and the best led forces in the battlefield, and the bill does that. but we don't want them to go to war. we want them to prevent those wars from happening. as i said earlier, the best way we do that is by projecting strength, sending a message to our adversaries that there is no chance that they can beat us. the ndaa is -- is the major way that we send that message.
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that's why the ndaa, the national defense authorization act, the most significant bill of the year, has been enacted into law every year for the past 60 years. this will be the 61st year. so we're going to get it passed. but it's almost -- it almost never comes up this late in the year. this is a disadvantage we're working from, but it always gets done eventually. we still have a lot of work left to do after this and not a lot of time to do it. we got a late start. we can't afford late starts. if you do late starts, sometimes it ends up being just down to four people. both my partner and i have been in a situation where we have been down to what they call the big four, making all these decisions ourselves. that's not what we're supposed to be doing. that's not what we want to do. but that's why the ndaa has been enacted into law every year for 60 years.
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we have built this bill around member request. now, this is unique. this is something people need to understand. we are getting our requests from the members that are serving here in -- with us here in the senate. the open amendment process, we're going to have an open amendment process. this is what we have committed ourselves to make sure we are doing that. you get another chance at the markup on this bill. while what we are doing right now is very important, you have to keep it mind, it's going to be done by the house, it's going to be done by the senate. it's going to be something that will go down as the most significant thing that's happening this year, but we can never work too hard for too -- or too long for our troops and the national defense. i know some of my colleagues are concerned about one provision that we have gotten to have in this bill at this time, which is added in markup and included in
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the house bill, too. and now i oppose the addition of this provision which changes the military -- what the military draft does. i want you to hear this because if enacted, it would expand the draft so it's not just about finding combat replacements to serve on front lines. it also requires women to register for the selective service, not just men. i've always said as a product of the draft myself, i know what the draft is. i was there and i served. i have always said that i understand that and i think the draft is essential. it changed my life, certainly, but i'm strongly opposed to drafting our daughters and our granddaughters. so this is going to be coming up. we're going to be talking about this. everything is going to be out in the open. get ready for that fight because that fight's coming, okay. and that's why i submitted an amendment to strike this provision from the underlying
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bill, and i will work to get it out of any conference report as well. okay. last week, we marked veterans day. that should be a reminder to all of us why we do this. in fact, we have got 2.2 million reasons to do this. 2.2 million future generals -- future veterans, our volunteer force who put their lives in harm's way and who rely on this bill getting done. and that doesn't even include their families who are sacrificing so much. so that's out there, we know, and that's going to happen. i know my colleagues understand this. i know they understand our responsibility to our troops and to the american people. so i look forward to our debate on this bill and then to pass it in the traditional bipartisan way, like we always do, and together we're going to fulfill our constitutional duty and meet these challenges that we face,
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and we have no time to waste in doing this. so this is the most significant bill of the year. that's what we're going to do, we're going to get it done. let's go do it right, okay? thank you, mr. chairman. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. tester: i have six requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. tester: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i am pleased that the senate has taken up the national defense authorization act. there is a 60-year tradition in this body of getting this bill done because the importance of this bill transcends partisanship. in fact, 81 senators of both parties joined forces earlier this year to override a veto of this important bill by the former president. if both sides of the aisle can
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work cooperatively to get this defense policy bill done, we are now seeing unprecedented, unprecedented obstruction by the minority party to passing a budget that will fund the programs that our military and our veterans need. now look, if republicans succeed in this obstruction, i am going to tell you the government will be forced to go to a full-year continuing resolution. that's not workable. the result will be frozen spending levels for the department of defense, for the department of veterans' affairs, which amounts to a $70 billion cut in spending for those two agencies alone compared to the appropriation bills prepared in this senate. i serve as chairman of the senate veterans' affairs committee, and let me tell you what's at stake for america's veterans and their families. funding will be blocked for priorities like expanding veterans' access to lifesaving mental health care services, enhancing women veterans' health
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care, preserving housing assistance, and expediting the delivery of benefits and care for those tuferg from toxic exposure. let me say this again. if we go to a -- suffering from toxic exposure. let me say this again. if we go to a one-year continuing resolution, that means we go off of last year's budget, last year's spending bill. we will block priorities like expanding access to mental health services for our veterans. we will block services for expanding women's veteran health care. we will block services for housing assistance. and for expediting what is the most -- one of the most serious issues coming out of the conflict of 20 years in the middle east, and that's care for those that are suffering from toxic exposure. the bottom line is this would keep the v.a. from properly addressing a whole host of issues. on behalf of those who have put their lives on the line for this
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country, they are going to continue to pay the price for us not doing our job. as chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, i was able to draft a bill that provided a $31 billion increase for defense compared to last year. this military bill is consistent with the spending levels approved by the bill we're working on today. in fact, in an amendment offered by senator inhofe, that amendment passed 25-1, which will plus-up this bill. so why isn't the defense appropriations bill flying through the senate just like the ndaa? well, i'll tell you. in september, republicans on the appropriations committee announced that they would vote against all appropriations bills in part because senator inhofe's bill doesn't increase defense with enough spending. so the idea here is just take
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money, throw it at the wall, and hope that it's spent right. the bottom line is there needs to be plans, there needs to be planning, and i'm going to tell you, last time i checked, the the $31 billion increase is a pretty good chunk of dough. so, mr. president, it's simple. we want to -- do we want to fund the v.a., do we want to fund the military, do we want to fund this country's government, or do we want to go back to last year's funding, which, by the way, would be totally inadequate, but yet it is what some on the other side of the aisle are advocating right now. look, guys, we're in a continuing resolution right now. it expires on december 3. if, in fact, we had a budget deal today, we couldn't get it
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out to the staff for nearly five weeks. so what i am saying is this -- no more finger pointing, no more changes of the rules of the game, no more foot dragging. do what the gang of ten did on the bipartisan infrastructure package. let's go into negotiations to get to yes. let's all work together. let's not play irresponsible political games with our military and with our veterans and with everybody else that lives in this country. what are we here for? are we here to advocate for this country or are we here to advocate for a political party? i am telling you the appropriations bills should have been done last september. we should be sitting at the table today. i'm ready to roll up my sleeves and help in any way that i possibly can to make sure these bills get through this body and to the president's desk so we can fund our veterans and fund the needs that they have, so we can fund our military and deal
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with the threats that are facing us around the world. it's time, folks. it's time to quit talking. it's time to start doing. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: mr. president, my fellow senators, on november 4 of this year, i introduced an amendment to this year's national defense bill. this amendment focuses on the office of net assessment. that office is within the pentagon. the office of net assessment purpose is to produce an annual net assessment, which is a long-term look at our military capabilities and those of our greatest adversaries. in 2019, when i began to look at
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stephen helper's contracting work for the office of net assessment, something didn't look right, so i asked the inspector general to look into it. for those who are unaware, helper was a central figure in the debunked russia collusion investigation, and i don't have to explain the russia collusion investigation. everybody in the united states senate knows something about that, and they know what it refers to. helper secretly at that time recorded trump campaign officials during crossfire hurricane. helper also received over a million taxpayer dollars from the office of net assessment for several research projects, but the question is were they really
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research projects? but the inspector general found some problems with his contracts. the office of net assessment didn't require helper to submit evidence that he actually talked to the people he cited in his work, which included russian intelligence officers. secondly, the office of net assessment couldn't provide sufficient documentation that halper conducted all of his work in accordance with the law. thirdly, the office of net assessment didn't maintain sufficient documents to comply with all the federal contracting requirements and o.m.b.'s guidelines. the inspector general also found that these problems weren't
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unique to halper's contract. this is the inspector general speaking up on this. i'm reporting what he said. so these findings indicate systemic issues within the office of net assessment in the pentagon. moreover this little office has spent taxpayer's money on research projects unconnected to net assessments. nertds -- in other words, they're spending money and wasting money that doesn't deal very closely with our national defense. two cases in point. the office funded a report titled, quote, on the nature of americans as a war-like people workshop report, end of quote.
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now this report highlighted, quote, the level of american beligerancey which is a result of the persistence of scotch-irish culture in america. that ought to get a lot of your attention. what does that have to do with the assessment of the capability of us to deliver the constitutional responsibility of the federal government, the defense of the american people, or what does that have to do with us assessing the capability of our enemies? yet another report focused on vladimir putin's neurological development and potential diagnosis. i've highlighted these reports for the pentagon. and i've asked for records from the office of net assessment relating to some of its other
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work as well. to date they still haven't been able to provide all of the records that they ought to provide to the congress of the united states under our constitutional responsibility to see that money is faithfully spent according to congressional intent and the laws are faithfully executed. while the office of net assessment was busy wasting taxpayers' money and not responding to congressional requests, china built its hypersonic missile program. are we on top of that program? it's got something to do with our enemy's capability. as a result of all these failures, then, like i told you, i introduced my amendment to the defense bill on november 4. the amendment would require the
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government accountability to determine how much taxpayers' money this unit actually uses for net assessment. the reason they were set up, are they doing their job? are they following the law? are they spending the taxpayers' money responsibly? i think i've shown in some instances where they have not. the amendment would filter out taxpayer-funded research that has nothing to do with net assessment. in other words, the office of net assessment ought to be doing net assessment, and that deals with the capability of the united states government to do the number one responsibility of the federal government, the national defense of the american people, and the second responsibility of this agency is to determine the capability of
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our enemies to do damage to us. in other words, it's time that we find out how much money the office of net assessment needs to actually do its job instead of acting like a slush fund for irrelevant or political research projects. so, of course, if this happens and the taxpayers' money is spent properly, this in turn will save the taxpayers potentially millions of dollars a year. i encourage my colleagues to support the amendment. 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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mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. cornyn: i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: thank you. mr. president, families back home in texas are planning their thanksgiving menus, but they're also bracing for steep grocery bills. prices are up for just about every part of a typical thanksgiving meal. the cost-of-frozen -- the cost of frozen turkey is the highest in history.
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things like potato, butter, pumpkin pies, even salt costs more than they did a year ago. it's not just going to cost more to eat. it's going to cost more to cook. appliance prices have skyrocketed over the past year as have electricity bills. and family members will have to pay a lot more just to visit their friends and relatives because gas prices are up 60% from last year. as families are being pummeled by higher prices and inflation, our democratic colleagues are planning to hand major savings to a select group of americans, just not the ones you think and certainly not the ones who need the help. despite their cries of taxing the rich, democrats are plotting an absolutely massive handout to the wealthiest americans. this windfall is not distributed
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through stimulus checks or lower tax rates. that would be far too obvious. instead our democratic colleagues are relying on a range of gimmicky sunsets and expirations to dole out the millionaire tax break. if they not no one would notice, well, they would be wrong. "the washington post" headline says it all. it says the second biggest program in the democratic spending plan gives billions to the rich. that's not how our colleagues try to brand their legislation. they would portray themselves as modern day robin hoods stealing from the rich to give to the poor. strange that it's really just the opposite. they talk about the wealthy paying their fair share and
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giving working families free programs, but the reality of the situation is far different from the picture they paint and the wealthiest americans stand to reap big benefits under this legislation. for example, democrats have included a provision that will allow millionaires and billionaires in blue states to pay less in federal taxes. as the headline notes, this handout comes with a big price tag. $285 billion in tax breaks for the wealthiest americans. it's more expensive than the clean energy and climate provisions in their bill, more expensive than paid family leave, more expensive than the combined cost of the child tax credit and home base services. and there's no denying that the beneficiaries of this alter expensive -- ultraexpensive provision are the wealthiest americans. according to the tax policy center, about 70% of the benefit
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goes to the top 5% of wage earners. 70% goes to the top 5%. that is people making more than $3 # 6 -- $3 of 6,000 a year. we're not talking about saving a few dollars here and there. the top 1% would save an average of $14,900 next year and the bottom 40% of taxpayers wouldn't be given a dime worth of a break in their taxes. the rich in america who stand to gain the most from this change are those who live in blue states like new york and california who have higher state and local taxes. it would leave everybody else
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to fill up the gap. working families in texas should not have to subsidize the tax bill for manhattan millionaires. if the wealthiest people in new york or california think their state and local taxes are too high, there's a pretty simple solution -- tell your elected officials to cut taxes, or you can do like many people are doing these days, vote with your feet and move to places like texas. over the last decade, californians have flocked to my state by the hundreds of thousands. people do vote with their feet, and they clearly support what we are doing in texas. we've been happy to welcome folks from all around the country who are in search of lower taxes, affordable homes, and a better standard of living. blue-state millionaires can't expect my constituents to subsidize their tax bills. they need to either pay their taxes or maybe they need to
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decide to move to someplace where they're not taxed at such a high rate. under this bill, two-thirds of those making more than a million dollars will receive a tax cut next year. let me say that again. the vast majority of millionaires will under the democratic legislation receive a tax break, and nearly 90% of those earning between $500,000 and a million will receive a tax cut. this is a sharp contrast from how middle-class working families are treated. less than a third of those earning between $20,000 and $100,000 a year will receive a significant tax cut. and the following year, 2023, those savings dramatically decrease. year over year, the tax provisions in this bill change dramatically. in fact, there's not a single year over the next decade in
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which each tax provision will be used at the same time. democrats aren't rewriting the tax code to make millionaires pay their fair share, they're gaming it to create the illusion of fairness. some programs begin immediately and end after one year. some don't even take effect for a couple of years. these are plain budgetary gimmicks. after all, they can't afford to give billionaires a tax break and dole out increased social welfare programs. but the fact of the matter is the millionaire tax break in their legislation is the largest handout for wealthy americans, but it's not the only one in the bill. this legislation would allow people earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to receive up to $12,500 from the taxpayers if they buy an electric vehicle. they also can receive up to $900
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to purchase an e-bike, which is obviously less green than a good ol' fashioned regular bike. the democrats' reckless taxing-and-spending spree bill creates handouts for a host of powerful friends of the democratic party. all of these handouts may appease some of our colleagues' wealthiest supporters, but it will only make life harder for working families. families earning just over the median household income, which is just under $62,000 in texas, could see their child care costs soar by as much as $13,000. and the climate policies in this bill are sure to drive energy prices even higher. gasoline already costs 60% more today than it did a year ago. that's a combination of inflation and the policies of
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the -- of this administration, which attack the very energy industry that we depend upon to provide affordable energy. if the democrats manage to get this grab bag of radical climate policies signed into law, prices at the pump will go even higher. so this bill will not, as advertised, help america to build back better. it will ensure that we never reach the prepandemic recovery that was the envy of the world. no public relations campaign can hide the truth about this bill. this is a reckless taxing-and-spending spree that will benefit the wealthiest of americans at the cost of working families. the last thing we need to do is to line the pockets of wealthy americans while can driving up the cost of the middle class. mr. president, i yield the floor, and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the
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clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. plea lee i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: this is now the 17th time i've come to the senate chamber specifically to speak against president biden's vaccine mandate. i've pledged before, and i pledge again today, to continue this fight until we beat the mandate. now, thankfully, progress has been made on this front. the u.s. court of appeals for the fifth circuit last week halted enforcement of president
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biden's general mandate. it did so directing the ruling specifically to the osha portion of the mandate. this is the one that applies to all workers everywhere, any place of employment with more than 100 workers. i, along with millions of americans, am grateful that the u.s. court system performed its role in protecting the separation of powers and otherwise protecting the limits on government written into our laws and our constitution. it's also encouraging to see the government agency charged with enforcing the general mandate -- that is, osha -- has now halted the enforcement of the mandate and is complying with the order issued by the u.s. court of appeals for the fifth circuit. this, however, does not end president biden's vaccine mandates.
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that mandate in particular remains the subject of ongoing litigation. and there are other requirements placed on other specific groups of workers outside of the osha mandate and, therefore, outside the scope of the order issued by the fifth circuit. now, i've spoken previously on the situation that members of our armed forces face and on things that people who work in the health care profession face, difficult things, challenging things, things that threaten their livelihoods and cause a lot of problems for workers. i've offered various bills to help those groups of americans keep their jobs and make sure that they have the right to make their own medical decisions. i'm fighting against a mandate. i'm not fighting against the vaccines. i support the vaccines.
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i'm vaccinated. i've encouraged others to be vaccinated. i see the development of these vaccines as something of a modern medical miracle, one that's protecting so many millions of americans from the harms of covid. but this one-size-fits-all dictate from washington certainly isn't the answer and under our system of government can't be. i've heard from hundreds of utahans who are personally at risk of losing their jobs and livelihoods due to this mandate. many of these utahans have religious or health concerns about the vaccine. president biden promised these mandates would include exem exemptions for those people in those categories specifically, but in reality they're being dismissed or placed on unpaid leave or pushed into retirement with reduced benefits. these are good people, everyday
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people. many are dedicated frontline workers. far too many are just trying to make ends meet and feed their families. it shouldn't be too much to ask to allow them to continue doing that unencumbered by their own government in their efforts to do that. these mandates will just push people out of work and make many of them not only unemployed but unemployable outcasts in their chosen professions, professions that they've spent years studying and learning, receiving certifications just in order to work. what a tragedy. this wouldn't just harm those affected directly by the mandates. it absolutely would harm those directly affected by it but the harm extends much further than those directly affected.
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it would affect all of us, in fact. the american economy is currently facing a labor shortage, the likes of which we haven't seen in decades. businesses across the country are struggling to find enough workers just to keep their doors open let alone produce and serve at full efficiency. president biden's mandate will add to our high unemployment and our low labor force participation rates, and it will put even more pressure on inflation, inflation that's making it harder for americans everywhere, especially poor, middle-class americans, people living paycheck to paycheck that find that every dollar they earn is buying less of everything from gas to groceries, from housing to health care. federal reserve chairman jay powell recently warned, quote, hiring difficulties and other constraints could continue to
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limit how quickly supply can adjust raising the possibility that inflation could turn out to be higher and more persistent than we expect. close quote. the mandate is only worsening the problem. now, i believe the biden administration recognizes the harms this mandate will cause for our workforce. it's evident in the administration's data compliance extension to january 4 that this is the case. now, you have to ask an obvious question here or one that i think should be obvious, should be intuitive. if the forced vaccination of our entire federal workforce including employees and contractors and subcontractors, if forcing the vaccination of every one of these workers were truly an emergency so drastic
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that all workers, contractors and subcontractors, even those working remotely in their own homes must be vaccinated immediately, then why would they risk delaying compliance? you can't have it both ways. if they want to say this is an emergency, this is dire, so dire that we've got to force every contractor, subcontractor, and federal employee to get vaccinated immediately. we have to fire them if they don't. if that is truly so emergent, then why delay it to january 4? why delay it at all? now, to be sure, it would be bad and to be sure, i'm glad they've extended it. perhaps maybe they're reconsidering. this awful, horrible step, this horrible thing they're inf inflicting on those who can least afford to absorb something like this.
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but it really does undercut the emergent nature of the situation and it undercuts their underlying reasoning if this has to happen immediately, so immediately that we've got to fire all of them. if they won't submit to presidential medical orthodoxy. this mandate is even so drastic that it includes all workers and all contractors, including all those who work remotely, don't even go into a workplace, and it also includes even though who have natural immunity from a previous case of covid-19, something that some studies have indicated will provide 27 times the immunity of a vaccine. again, vaccines are great. i've been vaccinated. i've encouraged others to do the same. vaccines are protecting hundreds of millions of americans right now. but why not take into account
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their natural immunity and why on earth would you fire someone who already has natural immunity or who works from home? that makes absolutely no sense. this mandate simply goes far beyond what's reasonable. and it begs all sorts of questions. why are you doing this? so today i'm offering a bill to help another group, yet another group of people that's -- a group consisting of people not protected by the fifth circuit's halting of the general vaccine mandate. federal workers are still facing a vaccine requirement from the biden administration. almost three million workers in this country are employed by the federal government. many of them have reached out to me and my office who are
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concerned about losing their jobs due to this mandate. i know i'm not the only one. i know that every single member of this body has received phone calls, letters, e-mails, and other pleas for help from people who don't want to lose their jobs. this is a response to them. this is an effort to try to help them and part of my ongoing effort to reemphasize the fact that it doesn't have to be this way. my bill, the protecting our federal workers -- protecting our federal workforce from forced covid-19 vaccination act would provict an executive agency from requiring its employees to receive a covid-19 vaccine. it's a simple solution to prevent more unemployment and to protect countless americans from being forced out of the workforce. this bill will help protect
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americans' right to make their own medical decisions and will help protect our economy as it strains under multiple crises and as the holiday season comes around. i encourage and sincerely implore all of my colleagues to support it. to that end, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. 3243 which is at the desk. i further ask that the bill be considered read a third time and passed, and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. peters: mr. president, in an ideal world, we would not need a vaccine mandate. in the ideal world, the vast majority of people who can get vaccinated would heed the advice of scientists and of public
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health officials and take the very simple step to get vaccinated so that we can get this pandemic under control. but unfortunately our reality is very different. we have been working to contain this virus and manage this unprecedented health crisis for nearly two years now. it has cost us more than 765,000 american lives and millions of other americans who have been infected and may face lifelong health challenges as a result. it doesn't have to be this way. we have safe, effective, and lifesaving vaccines that are now, thankfully, available to a significant number of americans. vaccines are our best tool to finally get this pandemic under control and requiring the folks who are able to get vaccinated is just simply common sense.
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we're all tired of this pandemic, and we all want it to end. we're tired of wearing masks because some folks refuse to get vaccinated. we're tired of wondering if we could unknowingly be exposing our vulnerable family members who are taking every precaution. we're tired of waiting for enough people to get vaccinated so that our schools and our businesses and our daily lives can just get back to normal. and we're tired of emergency rooms and health care workers getting overrun by covid cases from people who are not vaccinated when we already have the best tool to prevent the spread in the first place. our frontline health care workers are being crushed by the consistently high number of cases and public health experts are predicting yet another spike will likely hit this winter unless people get vaccinated. in my home state of michigan, the number of unvaccinated
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patients hospitalized with covid is once again climbing. a headline from today has just reached a new pandemic record with the highest covid case average in the nation, and that deaths across the state continue to rise. emergency rooms are packed and in some areas patients are forced to wait for hours or for days to be admitted. there's one key factor that's driving this horrific scenario. 88% of the cases, 88% of the hospitalizations, and 88% of the tragic deaths were all people who were unvaccinated. we can put an end to this nightmare by getting more americans vaccinated. you know, we require so many preventive measures to keep ourselves and others safe. we wear seat belts in our cars. we require hard-hats on construction sites.
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we get vaccinated to protect ourselves against a whole number of health risks. and we do it because we know it saves lives and it keeps people healthy. the answer is simple. get vaccinated. mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. lee: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from idaho -- utah. mr. lee: mr. president, i appreciate the thoughtful remarks and the insights of my friend and distinguished colleague, the senator from michigan. he's someone with whom i enjoy working with and one of the many things i appreciate about him is that he puts a lot of thought into everything he does. always found him to be considerate. i appreciate that about him. i also am in agreement with the fact that in an ideal world people would be getting vaccinated more than they are. and in that world if more people
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got vaccinated, i do think there would be fewer hospitalizations, fewer deaths, fewer covid infections. and there are a lot of data sources supporting that. i also agree that we're all tired as a country, as individuals, as families regardless of what state we live in. we're tired of the pandemic, of the e.r.'s being overcrowded and things like that. these ever all things we want to do -- these are all things we want to do away with. i also agree with my colleague from michigan those things would be alleviated if more people got vaccinated. in my mind the question we're discussing here isn't about a disagreement over the objectives we've got. it's more about how to get there, who has authority to take
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what action, and what consequences might attach to government actions. notwithstanding the fact that my friend from michigan and i both agree that the american people, to the extent they've been vaccinated, are benefited as a whole from being vaccinated, it doesn't mean everyone is going to agree. it doesn't get rid of disagreements that exist, in some cases because of a religious belief or other moral conviction, one that i don't happen to share and probably most of us in this body don't happen to share but that some people have. there are some people who, for religious or moral reasons, believe that they shouldn't be vaccinated. there are others who have
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specific medical conditions that involved receiving medical advice from board-certified medical doctors that someone shouldn't get this particular vaccine. i am not a doctor. i am not a scientist. i don't purport to understand these things. but i do know what i hear from utahans, which is that a number of them have cited medical conditions of one sort or another, previous personal or family medical history that has signaled a particular sensitivity to vaccines in general or in some cases when people have autoimmune conditions of one sort or another or a combination of them. in some cases doctors are concerned about inflaming that condition, inflaming the immune system of particular patients,
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and on that basis advise their patients with particular somewhat unusual medical histories not to be vaccinated. there are others still who might not fit into either of these categories but consist of people who have already had the coronavirus and have recovered from it at some point over the last 18 months. there are studies indicating that natural immunity is real and that have suggested that natural immunity can convey comparable immunity to that under the vaccine. some studies have indicated that that immunity could not be as strong as but in some cases 27 times stronger than that conferred by the vaccine. i have both -- i had both.
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i had the coronavirus over a year ago and i still chose to be vaccinated in addition to that. my own experience with the coronavirus wasn't all that pleasant. it wasn't an experience that i care to relive. in consultation with my doctor, i concluded that it was a good thing for me to get it. i was willing to get it, especially upon learning that it might help protect me even further if i also had the vaccine in addition to having natural immunity. but, you know, not serve going to reach -- not everybody is going to reach the same conclusions. and one of the struggles that we've had as a country involves difficult questions that people face when they disagree, when they have a genuine disagreement
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you got to be careful about how we use government power because the government power necessarily involves the use of force. most of the people, mercifully, it doesn't have to involve the director actual use of force. it can involve the implicit or implied or future or prospective use of force. in other words, you comply with this or that law or regulation or government dictate of one sort or another, then you're fine. if you don't, you know that at some point there will be consequences. a lot of people comply voluntarily after they've received -- i don't know -- a notice from a law enforcement officer or agent, or maybe they wait until someone has sued them and they get a court order. but they know that at some point if they refuse to comply,
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they're -- the government can enforce what it's requiring. so whenever we involve government in these kinds of decisions, we have to be able to defend the actual or threatened or potential use of force in order to justify what we're doing. we have to ask, is this moral? is this an appropriate case to use violence? because if it's not an appropriate case to use violence forking is, there's kind of a problem -- to use violence forking is, there's kind of a problem with putting government into the equation. you need to show up to somebody's house with a summons, arrest warrant or something like that and take them away. all that involves force. and again, mercifully, most of the time it doesn't have to come to that. most of the time americans, you
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know, comply with the law just because it is a good things comply with the law. but we really should ask the question whether government action is morally justified in any circumstance to such a degree that the use of violence would be warranted, if it came to that. i struggle to accept the proposition that it's okay to use violence to force someone to get the covid-19 vaccine. as much as i love the fact that the vaccines are available and are a real blessing, something of a modern medical miracle, i can't get comfortable with the idea of using violence to force people who have another opinion
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to comply. it seems morally problematic and morally unjustified, for that matter, indefensible, for the government to tell someone if you don't get this shot, you will get fired. and in fact to tell their employer, you must fire this person if this person doesn't get the vaccine, even if this person has a good faith religious belief against it, even if this person has natural immunity or has some particular medical condition causing his or her board-certified medical doctor to advise against receiving the jab. that isn't moral. to say to that person, you didn't comply with a presidential medical edict, so you're fired, and to tell the employer, if you don't fire that
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person, you're going to be the subject of punitive fines that will cripple any business, and i literally mean any business. i don't think there is a business in america subject to these edicts that could survive the deliberately cruel fines that are levied under them. not a one. this isn't right. it's not moral. deep down we know it. in fact, according to a recent poll, a poll conducted and reported by axios -- hardly a right-wing publication -- it involved a question. the poll question was something along the lines of, should a person who declines to be vaccinated be fired for not being vaccinated.
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14% agreed that that's okay. 14%. only 14% out of 100 said that's okay. fire the person. fire him. fire her. it doesn't matter. it's compounded when you look at the tragedies imposed by the individual circumstances, the soldier, the sailor, the airman, the marine, t.s.a. worker, the federal contractor, the employee of a subcontractor of a company with one federal contract, does mostly nonfederal work, the mom, the dad working in a factory, in a school, in floral shop. if either of those have a federal contract or have more than 99 employees, all of those
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people are having their livelihoods threatened. it's not just a job. it's in many cases, as is the case in the health care industry, for example, these people have spent a lifetime acquiring the skills, education, many of these people were the people working hardest to protect americans to make sure that they had access to the health care they needed. those same people are now being told, you're not good enough. you're going to be fired. even if you've got a medical condition that precludes it. even if this could be morally justified, which it can't, one must ask a question, one asked by the u.s. court of appeals for the fifth circuit -- does
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congress, does the federal government have the power to order such a widespread vaccine mandate? it doesn't. the osha mandate, for example -- constitutional, it would have to be predicated on congress' authority under the commerce clause, which gives us the power to regulate trade or commerce between the states, with foreign nations, with indian tribes. even as that provision of the constitution has been interpreted really broadly since 1937, even under that broad interpretation, one that has seen only three acts of congress over the last 84 years being
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deemed outside of congress' authority under the commerce clause, you have to almost try hard to pass legislation predicated on commerce clause authority that doesn't fall within it. but even under that, this doesn't pass the test. it's not by its nature economic activity. in fact, i.t. not -- it's not activity. you're punishing non-activity. even under these high watermark, this doesn't even pass that. even if it did, which it doesn't, you can still have to identify in the case of the osha mandate a definable delegation of authority from congress using some intelligible principle authorizing this kind of action.
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you will not find that. it's not there. i've reviewed upside down, backwards, afford the issue werer to osha. it doesn't provide this authority. the moral authority is lacking. the constitutional authority is lacking. there is no power delegated by the congress to osha to do this. it's not defensible. look, i'm glad that delays on some of these mandates have been imposed. i'm glad that osha is at least agreeing to comply with the order of the u.s. court of appeals for the fifth circuit, at least for the duration of that litigation. enforcement will be halted. i hope and i fully expect that the ultimate resolution of that
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case will be consistent with what the fifth circuit ruled last week. i have little doubt that it will be. this is in some ways the most brazen act of presidential overreach that i've seen and the single directive since president harry truman in 1952 issued an order seizing every steel mill in the united states or steel production related to the korean war effort. mercifully, the supreme court of the united states was able to intervene and within a couple of months invalidated that action. this one is even clearer than that, but more importantly, mr. president, this one is more emotionally compelling than that.
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that unconstitutional act of presidential overreach affected a handful of steel companies. it certainly affected, you know, thousands upon thousands of workers. it didn't have the ability to affect directly or indirect every man and woman in america. this one does. that's one of the reasons why these moral and statutory and constitutional questions matter so much. that's why i've been coming to the floor every day and why i will continue doing so indefinitely as long as it takes. that you want. i note the ab-- 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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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington is recognized. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. i rise today in recognition of native american heritage month. as the senator from washington state, i'm proud to represent 29 federally recognized tribes. in washington we understand the importance of the sovereignty of tribal governments and anyone who knows me knows i believe a
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commitment is more than just words. it is about action. at the start of this year when we passed the american rescue plan to get america up and running again, it was the single largest federal investment in tribes ever. more than $32 billion for tribal nations. since then i've spoken to many tribal leaders in washington state about what this has meant for our tribal communities. a housing grant helps provide homes for 25 additional families. and new opportunities for education and job retraining. the american rescue plan helped the tolaup businesses who have been struggling to keep businesses afloat. it's helped tribal members in my home state stay housed, get work to bark, keep their small businesses open, and continues to make a difference in a thousand different ways. now these outcomes weren't
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inevitable. they happened because of intentional and specific policy decisions this congress made to support tribal nations. so if we're serious about showing a real commitment to tribal communities during native american heritage month, then we need to continue to prioritize tribal communities in all of our policymaking. infrastructure in indian country, everything from roads and bridges to broadband has been underfunded for too long. the bipartisan infrastructure bill which is now signed into law will make $13 billion in direct investments in indian country with tens of billions more in federal grants and future funding opportunities. this will mean clean drinking water, access to high-speed internet, transit to connect communities and more. and now we have another opportunity to show our commitment to tribal communities with the build back better act. just like everywhere else in
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this country, child care is a crisis for native communities. right now about one out of every four native americans in this country is experiencing porchty. that is higher than any other group. so when one in ten native american parents have to quit or change their job because they can't find or afford child care, we're making a tough situation worse. my child care proposal in build back better is going to cut the cost of child care by thousands for tribal families with many paying nothing at all for child care, and it's going to help get more slots open everywhere. we need them. so parents won't be stuck on waiting lists for months on end. it is our government duty to make vesms like this one -- investments like this one in indian country because if we really believe in tribal sovereignty and acknowledging the role of our government and what is has played in the centuries of persecution, native
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peoples in this country have faced. we must also create action to create real opportunity for people, action on quality affordable child care, housing, home care, and more. build back better is going to make a big difference for native communities, but there's more we need to do to address the specific needs of native communities. we have to build on president biden's executive action to address the epidemic of missing or murdered indigenous peoples especially to protect native women and girls. we must reauthorize the violence against women act and strengthen that legislation to empower tribal nations to hold perpetrators of crimes committed on tribal lands accountable. and living up to our commitments is also about representation and a seat at the table. i was overjoyed to strongly support the confirmation of deb holland who is already blazing a
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trail as historic secretary of the interior and a powerful voice for tribal interests. i was proud to represent lauren king, a tribal law expert, to serve a lifetime appointment as a federal court judge in washington state. the first native american federal judge in my state's history and just the sixth ever in american history. and i'm glad to see more than 50 native americans serving in key political positions throughout the biden administration. i look forward to seeing many more. so, mr. president, this native american heritage month let's resolve to build on the important work this congress has done so far to support our native communities. as a voice for washington state tribes in the united states senate, i will always advocate for indian country and fight to ensure the federal government lives up to its sacred commitment to indigenous people across the country. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. brown: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio is recognized. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. this week -- i know the presiding officer from maryland is -- the presiding officer: if the senator would suspend. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: even after they
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reminded me. thank you, mr. president. this week for the fifth month in a row, parents in ohio and maryland and all over the country once again see $250 or $300 or if they have two children, $600 in tax cuts directly in their bank account. 90%, 90% -- think about this. 90%of ohio children are going to get this year, will have at least a $3,000 tax cut, not a deduction. this is real money in people's pockets. 90% of ohio families will get at least a $3,000 tax cut. that's if they have one child. if they have more, they will get a bigger tax cut. we know -- you know, we know how hard parents work, at your jobs, at raising your kids. any parent knows how much work it is to take care of children, especially young children. it's gotten only harder and harder over the past year and a
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half. my colleagues on the other side forget what hard work it is to raise children. and i watch what we're able to do in this. the chairman of the finance committee just walked in, senator wyden. his leadership on this largest tax cut for working families in my lifetime. and so often we know hard work doesn't pay off. think about the past few decades. the stock market went up. productivity went up. executive compensation has been stratospheric. but wages for most workers in this country have been flat. you know how expensive it is to raise kids, the list never seems to end. one of the biggest expenses for so many families is child care. parents feel like they're stuck. the more they work, the more expensive child care gets. one of the reasons people have returned to the workforce is not
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because we were providing unemployment compensation. that just kept them ha live. it's because they can't find affordable, accessible, safe child care. that's why parents feel like they are a stuck. it is why we passed the largest tax cut for working families ever. it is about make hard work pay off so you can keep up with the cost of raising a family. one of the joys of this job -- and i know that the senator from oregon, the senator from maryland share this because they do things like this -- we put on our website, what is the monthly child tax credit mean thousand? we started this in july. we voted on it on this floor on march 6. five days later president biden signed the law. we all went to talk to secretary yellen about getting these checks out quickly. four months after we voted for it -- not even four, help me with my math. three months after we voted for it, these checks started showing
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up. 2.1 individuals go to this tax credit in my state. then they got a check august 15, september 15, october 15, november 15. we know it cut the cost -- it cut the rate of child poverty by 40%. we also know it helped people with school expenses, maybe putting a little money aside for bowie state. maybe it was just a way that families -- we know how -- there are so many families that are really anxious at the end of the month. maybe we don't talk to enough families like this. getting this $300, $200, $300, $600 check in the middle of the month relieves the anxiety so many families have just to pay the rent because we know so many families that last week of the month cut back on food a little bit, cut back on trying to figure out a way to get through
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the month so they can pay their rent at the beginning of the next month. so -- so when this website, we asked people what this means to you. we get the most wonderful stories. lisa said tax cuts help me afford diapers and school supplies. now we can put a little into starting a 529 college fund. i am so excited. now we can finally save for education. lynn from columbus, it kicked in right at a time when the kids' birthdays were happening. plus back-to-school shopping and several vehicle repairs were needed as well. you know what the presiding officer sits on the banking and housing committee with me. he knows that before the pandemic, 25% of renters in this country paid more than half their income in rent. and one thing goes wrong, your car breaks down, you get sick, your child gets sick, you miss a few days of work, then you can be evicted. this will stop that from happening in many cases. jeff from cincinnati said, it
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helps him afford car insurance for a 17-year-old that's got a part-time job after school. the story we hear over and over is how expensive child care is, how parents use this money afford child care so they can go back to work 0er maybe work more hours. cici said it helps her pay for daycare. it is the same amount as mortgage insurance. sarah said it has been critical as i started my unpaid maternity leave at the end of the july. we want people to be able to give birth and then stay with their child, their newborn for a period of time. many, many, many people in baltimore, in cleveland, in portland don't have any kind of leave and how important it is that they can maybe stay a little longer with a newborn child and bond with her or him. courtney from athens, near the ohio river, said the c.t.c. is slightly more than half the cost
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of part-time day care. much appreciated getting the kids back into day care and keeping me and my husband in the workforce. these parents can afford to keep up with ■the extra costs of raising kids. these tax cuts have fundamentally stripped down. it is about the dignity of work. all work has dignity, whether you punch a clock or swipe a badge, work for tips, whether you are nuclear salary, raising children or caring for an aging parent. raising children is work. we never should forget that. it's a hell of a lot more work than moving money from one overseas bank account to another. this body falls all over itself over the years it's given tax cuts to rich people. it didn't stop senator mcconnell from rewarding the wealthiest c.e.o.'s and swiss bank account holders. we remember what happened. when they did their tax cut four years ago, look at the difference. four years ago they passed a tax cut. you could see, mr. president,
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the lobbyists, lobbyists lined up in the hall outside senator mcconnell's office. four years ago they, we passed a tax cut. almost all republicans voted yes. almost all democrats voted no. 70% of that tax cut went to the richest 1%. earlier this year we passed the largest tax cut for working families ever where everybody on this side voted yes, be everybody on that side voted no. whose side are you on? senator mcconnell and his crowds are always for the billionaires while senator wyden and the finance committee are fighting for middle-tax class tx cuts. we heard this, they promised big tax cuts for billionaires would trickle down. they'd hire more people and they'd pay higher wages and the economy would grow. it didn't exactly work that way. they kept so much of it for themselves. they spent that money on stock buybacks. we know what happened then. so the question is do you want tax cuts for billionaires and
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corporations or do you want tax cuts for working families? we want tax cuts for working families. so do americans from all over the country overwhelmingly from all kinds of backgrounds, from chillicothe to springfield to portsmouth, all over the country. every single months we're showing parents and workers we're on your side. we'll not stop fighting to make sure parents' hard work pays off for years to come. the child tax credit, we will make it permanent. it may not be this year but we will make it permanent. as senator wyden has said, it will become a lot like social security. it will be transformational. americans will love it, the way we americans have gotten used to and depend on and love social security. it's part of who we are as a nation. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon is recognized. mr. wyden: mr. president, in a few moments i intend to put forward a request for the senate to take up and approve the nomination of a very special oregonian. that's my friend, chuck sams, president biden's choice to leave -- to lead the
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extraordinarily important national park service. and i'm just going to take a few minutes to talk about chuck sams and make sure the senate understands why this the right person for this very important job. first of all, i would say to the senate we have heard the national parks described as america's best idea. that's because they form a network of treasures that no other country can match. but the fact is the national park service is not only about the views and the photo ops. the director of the national park service is in charge of an organization of over 22,000 employees and almost a quarter million volunteers. the park service generates tens of billions of dollars of economic activity. the people of my state,
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oregonians, from one corner of the state to the other, particularly well understand how critical outdoor treasures are for rural economies and rural jobs. and there are park units in every state in the nation. urban barks, rural parks, historic american buildings, ancient archeological sites. and the personnel at the park service, what incredible people. they do it all from education to preservation to maintenance, and they are also now doing more resilience against wildfire. so that's why it is so important we have strong leadership at the national park service, because when you have employees taking on such diversified challenges and you have the park service woven into the fabric of every
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state and so many communities, you need somebody at the top, the leader, to be capable and ready to take on these enormous challenges. chuck sams is that person. there's no question about it, and i want the senate to know that i have known chuck sams for years, and i have personally seen in action his dedication to communities and to the outdoors. he has been a longtime human till la tribal -- humitilla leader, working with officials from across our region. he's also a veteran of the u.s. navy. i know chuck sams to be a role model in the stewardship of america's lands and our waters, our wildlife, and history.
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and the congress and park goers are going to be able to count on him in the months and years ahead after he is confirmed because we know the park service faces some very big challenges. there is, for example, a multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog. the parks are often very crowded they're confronting the effects of the climate crisis, whether it's wildfire, floods, droughts. the list goes on and on. there has been for too long, too long a workforce culture front with gender discrimination and harassment. now for almost five years the park service has been without a senate-confirmed director. the reason why i'm here is i would say to the president of this body and to my colleagues, i'm here to make sure that the
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senate doesn't wait another single day, after five years, to confirm capable leader chuck sams as the director to address these challenges i've described. he is the right nominee at the right time, and i want senators to know i base this not on reading a bunch of resumes or bios about chuck sams. i have seen it myself. i've seen chuck at work in our state. he's committed. i support him 110%. and, therefore, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination. that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, that no further motions be made
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in order -- that no further motions be in order with respect to this nomination, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, that the senate then resume legislative session. and i call up calendar 508, charles e. sams of oregon, to be director of the national park service. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska is recognized. mr. sullivan: mr. president, reserving the right to object. i want to commend my colleague from oregon and his comments. as a matter of fact, i don't disagree with pretty much anything he said. i had my first good meeting with mr. sams this morning, and i would agree, i think he's qualified. i'm particularly impressed with his background as a native american, as a veteran. one thing i like to talk a lot about is how our alaska native populations, native american
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populations served at higher rates in the military than any other ethnic group in the country. special patriotism. mr. sams certainly carries that tradition on quite well. and i have already talked to senator wyden. i intend to -- i intend to work with him and mr. sams, just a few more issues, a few more discussions. again, we had a very good conversation this morning. this is nothing about his qualifications, but i wanted to make sure the administration is aware of some issues, at very high levels, as it relates to this position, this job -- and, again, i agree with my colleague from oregon. this is an extraordinaire -- extraordinarily important agency. it is so important for my state, i


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