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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  November 30, 2021 9:59am-12:29pm EST

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voter fraud given the processes in place. and that's true, we need to share that with people. with meredith's points, people get engaged before the election and see how the processes work and you'd feel better about it, and fewer people questioning the outcome if they look at the controls and quality in the elections. i'm not an expert on comparative politics and don't want to speak out of school about other countries and what we could learn from. if we made more attention on the front end and didn't see it as a horse race and better about the outcomes. >> sara, i'll come back to you, we have a couple of minutes left here and since you were the last to go in the first group, you may, you know-- >> the u.s. senate is about to gavel in for the day. senate lawmakers will resume consideration of the annual defense programs and policy bill and later in the week, we expect the senate, along with the house, to take up
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legislation to extend funding past friday's midnight deadline to avert a government shutdown. live to the floor of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, who protects us like a mighty fortress. thank you for providing our lawmakers with your wisdom, guidance and strength. lord, continue to bless them for you know their needs, motives, hopes, and fears. when our senators grow faint and
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weary and the night overtakes them, renew their strength and enable them to soar on wings like eagles. may the different approaches expressed by both parties contribute to greater solutions to the problems in our nation and world. we pray in your merciful name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., november 30, 2021. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable john hickenlooper, a senator from the state of colorado, 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 h.r. 4350, which the clerk report. the clerk: calendar number 1 44, h.r. 4350, an act to appropriate
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military activities for the department of defense, and so forth and for other purposes.
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: mr. president, after spending -- this on ndaa. after spending months insisting that the senate should take swift action on our annual defense bill, last night, republicans mounted a partisan filibuster blocking this chamber from moving forward on the ndaa. for the information of all, before the vote closed last night, i changed my vote to no and then entered a motion to reconsider the cloture vote so we could find a path forward on this important bill. now, we've heard over and over and over again from republicans in some form or another that the senate must act on ndaa, it must act quickly.
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our republican colleague -- one republican colleague called it a core duty, a bare minimum. yet another colleague said it was, quote, the best way to thank our soldiers and sailors for their service. but last evening, republicans blocked legislation to support our troops, support their families, keep americans safe, and support jobs across the entire country. republican dysfunction has again derailed even bipartisan progress on our annual defense bill. an outrageous outcome that shows how the senate and republican leadership have changed in recent years. previous leaders, knowing the democrats had offered republicans a whole lot of amendments, would have said let's vote cloture, but not this leader, not yet. and there should be no mistake the process that democrats and particularly my colleague, chairman reed, have offered republicans on ndaa has been more than fair and reasonable.
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for months, my colleagues in the armed services committee have been working to produce a bipartisan product that could come to the floor for a vote. the bipartisan reed-inhofe agreement -- a reed-inhofe agreement -- was what we brought to the floor yesterday to vote on. during the markup, members considered 321 amendments and adopted 143 bipartisan ones. before reporting the bill out of committee by a vote of 23-3. 23-3, bipartisan. in preparation for the senate floor, the managers worked on a substitute amendment which had at least 50 amendments, 27 of them the -- 27 of them, the majority, from republicans. senator inhofe, the ranking member of the armed services committee, worked with democrats and had agreed to this. and on top of all that, senators reed and inhofe also reached a bipartisan agreement to hold
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votes on 19 amendments here on the floor before republicans blocked that proposal two weeks ago. 19 amendment votes, mr. chairman, 19. that is more than the total number of amendments to ndaa that received votes under the republican majority and under leader mcconnell when we debated this bill in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. not more than each year. more than all of them put together. we just had two amendments on ndaa in 2017 when mcconnell was majority leader. we had five in 2018 when mitch mcconnell was majority leader. three in 2019. and seven in 2020. adding that up, that is a total of 17. that's over four years. this year we offered 19 amendment votes, including bipartisan measures to combat ransomware, repeal the 2002 iraq
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aumf and support cyber defense of our critical infrastructure. but when we tried to get consent to move on this package of amendments, our republican colleagues came down to the floor and objected not once but seven times. so we have had ample debate. this has been a fair and reasonable process that has showed respect to the other side, but this is a new republican party, unfortunately, and it was not good enough for them, even on the defense bill. passing the annual defense bill should not be in question, and republicans blocking this legislation is harmful to our troops, to their families who sacrifice so much and to our efforts to keep americans around the world safe. now, we democrats are not going to let republican intransigence stop us. we're going to keep working forward on a path forward, and we hope our republican colleagues, as they discuss this among themselves, will see the light light and come up with a fair -- see the light and come
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up with a fair proposal to allow this bill to go forward. 19 amendments, a total of 17 on all the other ndaa bills. to say that we're being unfair, to say that we're not giving enough amendments is poppycock, and they know it. let's move forward. let's move forward. now, on government funding. mr. president, there is another critical priority that the senate must also address before the week's end. passing a continuing resolution that will keep the government funded beyond the december 3 deadline. as soon as tomorrow, the house is expected to take action to pass a c.r. that will fund the government into next year. senate democrats are ready to pass this legislation and get it done as quickly as possible. to avoid a needless shutdown, republicans will have to cooperate and approve the government funding legislation without delay. if republicans choose obstruction, there will be a shutdown entirely because of their own dysfunction.
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we cannot afford to go down that road. as winter begins, the last thing americans need right now is an avoidable republican-manufactured shutdown that will potentially harm millions of federal workers, harm their families, and harm local communities that rely on an open and functioning federal government. democrats are going to work all week to make sure no government shutdown comes to pass, and we urge our republican colleagues to work with us. on debt limit, also, mr. president, soon the senate must take action to assure that the united states does not, does not default on its sovereign debt for the first time in history. i recently had a good conversation with the republican leader about this issue, and i expect to continue those talks on achieving a bipartisan solution to addressing the debt limit. by now, we know the dangers of an unprecedented default. secretary yellen has warned that failure to extend the debt ceiling would eviscerate our
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economic recovery and says our country could yet again slip into, quote, a deep recession. both parties know that this is simply unacceptable, and so i look forward to achieving a bipartisan solution to addressing the debt limit soon. and finally, mr. presidentan on build back better. -- mr. president, on basketball. before we hit christmas day, it is my goal to have the senate take action on president biden's build back better legislation. this week, senate democrats will continue to meet with the parliamentarian so we can finish making the technical and procedural fixes necessary for reconciliation. once that is complete, it will be time to bring build back better here to the floor of the senate. i have said many times before that nobody should expect legislation of this magnitude to be easy. we have been at the task for several months. but we need to take a step back and recognize they were hopefully less than a month away from enacting on the largest
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investment in the american people we have seen in generations. here's what we're going to do in this bill. lower the cost of child care, make pre-k universally accessible, cut taxes for parents and working and middle-class families and take the next bold step in our fight against the climate crisis. all this we want to tackle before the christmas break, so we'll keep working this week and until we get it done. i yield the floor.
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mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. durbin: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. mr. durbin: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, earlier this month while we were all home for the thanksgiving recess, an
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american patriot passed away. his name was major eeon fishback. during his life, major fishback defended our nation during four tours of duty in iraq and afghanistan. he was an accomplished scholar with degrees from boast west point and university of michigan and a lifelong champion of justice. tragically like too many of our nation's veterans, major fishback's life ended far too soon. he died at the age of 42. there was -- his time was short on earth but he left behind a legacy. he changed our nation for the better. he inspired the members of this senate to make a historic stand against injustice. you see, in 2005 while major fishback was serving as a captain of the u.s. army infantry, he spoke out against america's inhumane treatment of detainees after 9/11. in a letter to then senators john mccain and warner, john
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warner, major fishback wrote, and i quote, i've been unable to get clear, consistent answers from my leadership about what constitutes lawful and humane treatment of detainees. i'm certain this confusion contributed to a wider range of abuses, including death threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage taking, sleep depend operation and degrading treatment. i and troops under my command witnessed some of these abuses in both afghanistan and iraq. major fishback's courageous letter shed light on the atrocities that were being committed. shamefully in the name of our nation. and he felt that he had, quote, failed the servicemembers under his command. the reality is our leaders failed major fishback. in the wake of 9/11, the bush administration tossed aside our constitutional principles as well as the geneva conventions.
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by condoning torture, they dishonored our nation and actually endangered our servicemembers. after reports emerged from horrific abuses at abu graib in iraq, i tried for a year and a half to pass legislation to make it clear that cruel and degrading treatment of detainees was illegal. two military heroes, my former colleague senator john mccain, and major fishback turned the tide in this effort. in speaking out, major fishback rallied the members of this chamber to support a torture amendment offered by senator mccain and myself which was added to the defense spending package for that year over a veto threat from the george w. bush administration. that provision explicitly banned inhumane treatment of any prisoner held by the american government on american soil or overseas. it set us on a course to restoring american values that were cast aside after 9/11, work
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that is still ongoing 20 years later. we have a defense bill before us on the floor. there are many things in it that are positive and i'll vote for it. but it's a moment to also reflect that this bill does more than protect our nation and help our troops. it also protects our values. that is why i have an amendment to this bill which i hope will have a chance to offer that would close the detention facility at guantanamo bay once and for all. since the first group of detainees was brought to guantanamo in january of 2002, four different presidents have presided over the facility. in that time the iraq war has begun and ended, the war in afghanistan, our nation's longest war, has come to a close. a generation of conflict has come and gone. yet the guantanamo detention
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facility is still open and everyday it remains open it an affront to our system of justice and the rule of law. it is where due process goes to die. that is precisely why military officials, national security experts, and leaders on both sides of the aisle have demanded its closure for years. the facility was virtually designed to be a legal black hole where detainees could be held incommunicado beyond the reach of law and subjected to unspeakable torture and abuse. in the words of a former senior official in the bush administration, guantanamo exists in quote the legal equivalent of outer space. it was created to circumvent the geneva conventions. what are those conventions? we know. they were the internationally accepted standard of humane treatment for detainees and prisoners. guantanamo was designed to circumvent it.
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and other long-standing treaties. this subversion of justice has harmed detainees. it has undermined our moral standing. and it has failed to deliver justice which it promised. for two decades the families of americans who died on 9/11 have waited for the alleged coconspirators who were being detained in guantanamo to be brought to justice, for 20 years they've been waiting. but the case still hasn't come to trial. imagine if justice delayed is justice denied, how can this be justice at guantanamo? instead the facility has become a symbol for human rights abuse, lawlessness, and everything major fishback decried in his letter to senator mccain. the stories out of guantanamo and black sites are shocking. let me tell you one of them. last month guantanamo detainee majid kahn testified before a
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military jury about the abuse he suffered in the facility and in c.i.a. black sites. it was the first time a detainee has described his torture at a c.i.a. black site. let's be clear. majid kahn is a former member of al qaeda who should be held accountable for his actions, but there is no justification for torture. mr. kahn recounteddenning -- recounted being abused in unspeakable, unthinkable ways by our government, including being waterboarded, shackled to a ceiling until his ankles swelled with blood. in one part of his testimony he described a c.i.a. medic sexually violating him with a garden hose. as mr. kahn shared the excriewsh yating details of his torture, the members of the jury listened closely. but pay heed. these weren't average citizens sitting on the jury. they were active duty senior u.s. military officials on the
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jury and when the hearing concluded, these high-ranking military leaders did something unheard of. seven of the eight jurors signed a handwritten letter recommending clemency for majid kahn. this is what they concluded and i want to quote it word for word. mr. kahn has been held without the basic due process under the u.s. military -- under the u.s. constitution. he was subjected to physical and psychological abuse well beyond approved enhanced interrogation techniques instead of being closer to torture performed by the post abusive regimes in modern history n. abuse was of no practical value, no practical value in terms of intelligence or any other tangible benefits to u.s. interests. remember, i have just quoted these senior u.s. military officials who sat on a jury where this man was being tried
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and they in a handwritten letter wrote what i just read. now that last point is a crucial one. the human rights abuses we committed in guantanamo and c.i.a. black sites are not merely inhumane. they don't work. they're ineffective. kahn testified. i lied just to make the abuse stop. torturing him brought us no clarity, brought us no truth. it brought us no closer to eradicating terrorism. instead stories about the torture of prisoners at guantanamo have only galvanized american enemies. they have been packaged in propaganda and recruitment tools for terrorism which in turn endangers our american service men and women as well as our allies. these accounts of abuse have also diminished our international standing. how can we claim credibility as a nation. how can we hold authoritarian dictators accountable if they can point to our own legacy of cruelty and indefinite detention? the man was held for 20 years
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and others are still being held without being brought to trial. worse yet the degrading conditions at guantanamo are being funded by american taxpayers. how much is the cost of guantanamo? as mommic. s that -- astronomic. that's how high it is. we spend more than $500 million a year to keep guantanamo open, $500 million. half a billion dollars a year american taxpayers are wasting to detain how many people for half a billion dollars? 39. 39 prisoners, $500 million. and 13 have already been approved for transfer. that works ute to nearly -- out to nearly $14 million a year on each prisoner like majid kahn. $14 million a year. let me put that in perspective for a moment. that's enough moment to expand medicaid coverage to one and a half million americans for ten
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years. setting aside the costs, we have to acknowledge the larger truth. guantanamo does not reflect who we are or should be. indefinite detention without charge or trial is antithetical to america's values and yet more than two-thirds of the people detained in guantanamo today have never been charged with a crime. how can that be any form of justice? with or without the amendment i've introduced to this year's defense authorization, we must accelerate the time line to finally close guantanamo. as i mentioned, 39 prisoners, $500 million a year. president biden transferred his first detainee earlier this summer but that pace one efers six months is not -- every six months is not going to set us on a course to close guantanamo. america's failures in guantanamo
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must not be passed to another administration or to another congress. can this senate summon the courage to finally close this detention facility? i'd like to test it on the floor of the senate. as a matter of fact, isn't that why we're elected? to test a basic question like that? next week the judiciary committee is going to hold a hearing on how we can close guantanamo once and for all. there are more steps the biden administration can take to accelerate this closure. one is by appointing a special envoy to the state department to negotiate transfer agreements from those inmates who are scheduled to be transferred, 13 of the 39, to transfer them to other nations. we must also reach swift resolution in the remaining cases where charges have been brought instead of moving forward with military commissions. let's finally accept the obvious. military commissions are not the answer in guantanamo and have not been for 20 years. if there's one lesson we can
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learn from the shameful legacy of guantanamo, it's that we need to trust our system of justice. the use of torture and military commissions that deny due process have hindered our ability to bring terrorists to justice. going forward we should adhere to the long-held values of humane treatment and the rule of law. our federal courts have proven more than capable of handling even the most serious and complex terrorism cases. since 9/11 hundreds of terrorists -- terrorism suspects have been tried and convicted in our federal courts and many are now being safely held in federal prisons. compare that to the military commission case against the alleged conspirators behind 9/11. it still hasn't come to trial. more than two decades after that horrendous attack. the families who lost loved ones on that day deserve better. america deserves better. and american patriots like major fishback deserve better as well.
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we all deserve better than these black holes that violate our national values and make true legal accountability impossible. as major fishback wrote to senator mccain all those years ago and i quote, if we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and a -- aggression, then those ideals were never in our possession. it is time to live up to those ideals that our troops have risked their lives to defend. it is time to finally at long last to close the detention facility in guantanamo. let's put this dark chapter behind us. in -- i thank major fishback. i know it's not easy to not be
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silent and show to the american people what occurred at guantanamo. now do we even have the courage to debate the issue and vote on it on the floor of the senate? mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: yesterday a bipartisan majority of americans rejected the democrats' -- to block new measure it's to get tougher on russia. the democratic leader wants to block the senate from fully and robustly debating a number of important issues, from how to manage the fallout from the reckless afghanistan retreat to how to respond to china's modern military destable destabilization. so, mr. president, the ndaa is supposed to be a bipartisan forum for debating and acting on these kinds of issues. months ago the armed services
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committee moved this process forward, listen to this, 23-3, but the democratic leader has botched the floor process. in an especially bizarre -- it is especially bizarre to see the democratic leader so focused, so intent on blocking the senate from dealing seriously with the growing aggression from putin's russia, he seems down right desperate to block new bipartisan action on nord stream 2. it's really quite strange to see. senators risch and cruz have proposed language concerning the
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pipeline that the house passed almost unanimously. the risch-cruz amendment includes a waiver provision that would give the president more flexibility, which makes the democratic leader's effort to shut the process down and block their amendment all the more baffling. if there's opposition to the amendment, if it can be improved with modifications, then by all means let's have a public debate. likewise, senator portman has been a leading voice for bolstering our european partners and delivering more meaningful support to ukraine's military. as putin has forces on the ukrainian border, the ukranians should be able to defend them.
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the ndaa is not finished yet so the senate cannot be finished yet either. we need the same kind of normal, robust bipartisan amendment process that always characterizes this bill and we need the democratic leader to stop trying to block the senate from sanctioning putin's cronies. now on an entirely different matter. 88% of americans are concerned about inflation. most of them are very concerned. 77% of americans say inflation has affected them personally. we have a big and diverse country. it's hard to get that many americans to agree on anything, but president biden did promise he would unite the country and on democrats' watch, under democrats' policies, the american people are united in their fear and frustration that
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runaway prices, purchasing power and all of the consequences of inflation. the men and women of this country are spending 20% more than last year for beef at the grocery store, 50% more to fill up the gas tank, 26% more for less choice on used cars. one recent article in "the new york times" suggested that perhaps americans should forget about trying to buy their family members normal gifts and settle for handwritten promises to tackle household chores, such as washing out the reusable plastic bags, i guess the -- grinch is
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doing some ghost writing in his spare time. some weeks back, the white house press secretary tried to laugh off reporters' questions about the supply chain and inflation crisis. she literally laughed at the idea that anybody would be worried about, quote, the tragedy of the treadmill that's delayed, end quote. well, the president staffer is yucking it up, but parents aren't laughing. middle-class families aren't laughing. a kentuckian named mike halligan isn't laughing either, he runs a food pantry called god's pantry, they distribute more than 50 million pounds of food every year across my state. he says, we've seen the cost of our sharing thanksgiving basket go up this year by 14.5%. we've seen our costs go up about
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50%. the transportation component of that is literally doubled. and he also explained that since inflation is also hammering his contributors, charities and nonprofits, may face donor fatigue at precisely the time they cannot afford a falloff. the democrats' inflation is hitting literally every part of our society. a famous economist once said that inflation is the only form of tax that can't be levied without any legislation. but what's remarkable about 2021 is that democrats did directly legitimate a big -- of this legislation into existence. it is -- -- one of the most famous democratic economists in the country, larry summers,
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tried to warn them. on february 4, he wrote, the democrat stimulus, quote, set off inflationary pressures of the kind we have not seen in a generation. he said the same thing all springtime long. so did president obama's c.e.a. chair, jason furman said, the american rescue plan is definitely too big for the moment, stating, i don't know of any economist recommending something the size of what was done. end quote. but washington democrats had already decided months ago they'd try to use the temporary pandemic as a trojan horse for socialism. remember when one of the senior most house members called it, quote, an opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision or when president biden said, the pandemic, quote, does present us with an opportunity.
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to democrats this go-around, it's not about what families need, it's only been about what activists want. so we got the first massive spending bill in the springtime and now a majority of americans won't be able to afford what they need during the holidays due to inflation. president biden inherited an economy that was primed and ready for an historic comeback, a fantastic inheritance. since then, they've had less than a year at the controls and we've got half the country worried that their checking accounts won't get them through the holidays, but democrats are not offering any contrition or course correction. they want to come back around for an even bigger buy at the apple. they want to try to inflate their way out of inflation.
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our colleagues have spent months huddled behind closed doors neglecting the most basic governing duties writing another taxing and spending spree that even the most conservative estimates say would add $800 billion to deficits over the next five years alone. they want to take the inflationary fire they helped start and pour jet fuel on it. even the c.b.o., which has to swallow most of the democrats' gimmicky math said this bill would spend $2 trillion and pile hundreds of billions more into deficits over the next decade. perhaps more realistic are the outside nonpartisan estimates that actually account for what we all know democrats would never let the new entitlements in their bill expire.
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those more realistic estimates put the total costs, listen to this, just short of $5 trillion. at a time when chairman powell, who has been willing to let the country run hot is now warning that current uncertainties could keep inflation elevated to a troubling level. now, i could talk all day about how the actual contents of this bill would hurt american families even more about how it would take another big step towards socialized medicine and pour cold water on the innovations and cures that would save lives, how it would incinerate huge chunks of the energy sector and the jobs it supports in order to to keep faith with preferences of california and how it would put child care in the hands of washington bureaucrats. but the overall picture is
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impossible to mistake. inflation is hurting the american people and democrats want to print, borrow, and spend trillions more. the most out of touch agenda you could possibly imagine. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. thune: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. thune: the senate i understand is in a quorum call. the presiding officer: yes, it is. mr. thune: i ask unanimous consent it be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, tomorrow the supreme court will hear oral arguments in the dobbs case which deals with the mississippi law that would prohibit most
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abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. this case offers the best opportunity in many years to see roe v. wade overturned or modified. something that is long overdue. roe v. wade was a bad decision that should long ago have been reversed. legal scholars from across the ideological spectrum have criticized the decision, noting in the words of one expert, and i quote, this constitutional -- as constitutional argument, roe is barely coherent. the court pulled its fundamental right to choose more or less from the constitutional ether, end quote. or as another legal scholar put it, roe is, and i quote, a very bad decision because it is bad constitutional law or rather because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be, end quote. now, i should note, mr. president, that both of the individuals i just quoted are
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actually supportive, supportive of abortion, but like many others, both recognize that roe is simply bad law. in the roe decision, the supreme court reached far beyond the constitution and the court's interpretive role to impose a new abortion regime on the entire country. and it is past time for this unconstitutional decision to be overturned and for the court to return jurisdiction over abortion to the states. and, mr. president, it's important to note that overturning roe would do just that, return jurisdiction over abortion to the states and to elected officials who can be held accountable for the decisions and ultimately to the american people. many assume, incorrectly, that overturning roe would somehow automatically ban abortion nationwide. it would not. it would simply return jurisdiction to the people's elected representatives. abortion law would become the
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domain of states and congress instead of the domain of unelected activist members of the judiciary. mr. president, members of the radical pro-abortion lobby which controls the abortion policies of the democrat party are of course up in arms over the dobbs case. they are terrified, terrified that the supreme court will overturn roe, and i suspect that the root of that fear is the knowledge that they need an activist court for the radical abortion agenda. why? because the american people do not agree with the radical abortion lobby on abortion. for all its efforts to paint abortion on demand at any time up in the the moment -- up until the moment of birth is the only opposition the pro-abortion lobby has failed to convince the american people. polls consistently show that a strong majority of the american people support at least some restrictions on abortion. gallup has been polling on
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abortion for decades, and in all that time, the percentage of americans who believe abortion should be legal under any circumstance has always remained under 35%. in fact, for most of the past several decades, that number has remained squarely under 30%. an associated press poll from this june found that 65% of americans believe that abortion should generally be illegal in the second trimester or from about 13 weeks of pregnancy while a whopping 80% of americans believe that abortion should generally be illegal in the third trimester. and it's no surprise. despite the abortion lobby's attempt to dehumanize unborn children, portray them as nothing more than clumps of cells or unwanted growths, most americans are well aware that an unborn child is a baby, a human being, an innocent human being. and because americans generally
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gravitate towards justice and the defense of human rights and vulnerable human beings, they remain, despite the best efforts of the abortion lobby, fundamentally uncomfortable with unrestricted abortion. and so i think the root of the abortion lobby's outrage is the knowledge that if roe is overturned, their radical abortion agenda is unlikely to prevail nationwide because the american people simply do not agree with them on abortion. mr. president, the pro-abortion lobby and its allies in the democrat party would like americans to believe that mississippi's 15-week abortion ban is extreme radical legislation. well, nothing could be further from the truth. in fact, the united states of america, united states of america, is a radical outlier on abortion. we are one of only seven countries in the world that
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allows elective abortion past 20 weeks. one of just seven countries in the entire world. among those other countries are china and north korea. not exactly the kind of company you want to be keeping when it comes to defending human rights. 47 out of 50 european countries, 47 out of 50, mr. president, either require women to have a specific reason for seeking an abortion or limit elective abortion to 15 weeks or earlier. 32 european countries, including france, denmark, switzerland, norway, and many others limit elective abortion to at or before 12 weeks gestation. now, let's consider that for just a minute, mr. president. a substantial majority of european countries limit
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abortions to at or before 12 weeks. in other words, mississippi's 15-week abortion law is not on the radical fringe when it comes to abortion. it is squarely in the mainstream for western democracies, and it is, in fact, more permissive than the abortion laws of a majority of european countries. and yet the abortion lobby would have us believe that mississippi's pushing some kind of extreme abortion legislation. mr. president, let's talk about unborn babies at 15 weeks. 15-week-old unborn children have fully developed hearts that have already beat more than 15 million times. they yawn. they make facial expressions. they suck their thumbs. they respond to taste and touch. and, mr. president, scientific evidence suggests that they can
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feel pain. pro-abortion activists may not like to hear it, but scientific evidence shows that the neural connections necessary to transmit pain are fully in place by around 20 weeks, and that babies may actually begin to experience pain as early as 12 weeks. so when we're talking about a 15-week-old unborn baby, we're talking about a baby who may very well already be able to experience pain and will certainly be able to experience it a few weeks later, if she can't now. yet in this country, it is perfectly legal to kill unborn children who are able to feel pain and kill them with an abortion procedure so brutal and barbaric it is difficult to even describe. and yet, it needs to be mentioned because we need to acknowledge the reality that we are killing unborn babies in this country capable of feeling pain using a widely employed abortion procedure that involves dismembering the unborn child.
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as i said, mr. president, it's incredibly hard, in fact it is heart breaking, really, to even talk about it. the abortion lobby would like to draw a veil over what happens inside abortion clinics, but the truth is that abortions are triewlt and inhumane -- are brutal and inhumane, certainly to the baby but in many respects to the mother as well. mr. president, there have been an estimated 62 million-plus abortions in the united states. that number is so big, it's pretty much unfathomable. to put it in some kind of perspective, 62 million is nearly three times the population of the entire state of florida. that's how many unique, unrepeatable human beings we've lost to abortion since roe. mr. president, we are better than this. and we have to do better than
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this. our country was founded to safeguard human rights. we haven't always lived up to that promise, but we've never stopped trying. it's time for us to continue that work by standing up for the most vulnerable human beings among us, the unborn children whose human rights are not protected and whose lives can be taken away at any time. mr. president, thanks to medical advancement, it's possible for babies born at 22 weeks to survive outside their mothers. it's also perfectly legal to kill unborn children at 22 weeks. something is radically wrong with that picture. how can an unborn child of 22 weeks be regarded as a human being worthy of protection in one case and in the other case be regarded as nothing but a clump of cells to be disposed of in an abortion clinic.
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the cognitive dissonance is mind boggling. mr. president, the more we learn about unborn children, the more we see their humanity. it's impossible to look at an unborn baby kicking her feet and sucking her thumb on an ultrasound and see her as anything but the hiewp being that she -- but the human being that she is. science and medical advance mfntses -- advancements and plain old sense point to the humanity of the unborn child. and human beings, mr. president, deserve, deserve to be prot protected. and a good place to start would be with laws like mississippi's, laws that would bring us into the mainstream of abortion laws worldwide. as i said, mr. president, the united states is one of just seven countries in the entire world, including china and north korea that allow elective
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abortion past 22 weeks of pregnancy. i'd like to think that we can do a better job of protecting unborn children's human rights than china and north korea. so, mr. president, i hope that the supreme court will uphold mississippi's law and open the door to greater protection for unborn children, but win or lose, win or lose, i and many, many, many others will continue to stand up for the human rights of unborn americans. and i am confident that in the end, right and justice and life will prevail. mr. president, i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i come to the floor today to talk about the need for more american energy, not energy that the president is begging to opec or russia to produce for america but american energy. last week president biden ordered the release of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve. the president by doing that in my opinion is just pretending to
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show concern about the high cost of energy in this country and i'll get into why he's only pretending to show it because the amount he released is so very little. in reality this president's call to release energy oil from the strategic petroleum reserve was an admission of failure of this president and this administration. releasing oil from the reserve is something that presidents did in the past during times of war, the iraq war, after hurricane katrina, and during the air be a spring. in other words, something presidents do at times of crisis. well, president biden doesn't want to admit that he has created an emergency crisis in our country, but his actions of calling on the release from the strategic reserve, the actions speak louder than his words. by releasing oil from the
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reserve now, the president is admitting what every american knows -- that america has an energy crisis. it's not for lack of the fact that we have plenty of energy reserves here in the united states. you know, last week and estimated 50 million people over thanksgiving weekend took to the roads. those who drove, paid the most for gasoline that they have in seven years. gasoline an diesel oil prices are sky high, and they have increased more than a dollar a gallon since joe biden took office just in january. so why is it happening? well, it's economics 101 really. you have demand. you have supply. demand is up. supply is down. at the end of the lockdown, demand for gasoline has increased as people took to the roads. yet domestic supply is still below the peak that we reached under president trump.
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the biden administration wants us to believe that releasing oil will solve the problem when he taps the strategic reserve. but i don't even think president biden believes it. i don't know they actually 0 know what they're doing. when you watch that press briefing, she was asked how much oil the american people use. she admitted she didn't know. said, i don't have a number in front of me. the nation's top energy official doesn't know how much oil the american people use, so how can she then know that the amount called for the release is the right amount for not? she is president biden's top lieutenant in the war on american energy. she doesn't know how much we use. the media has broadly reported that the total amount that joe biden is releasing from the
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petroleum reserve is what the american people use every two and a half days. every two and a half days. that's the total amount that's being released is the amount that we in the united states use every two and a half days. this is a drop in the bucket when it comes to oil prices and energy prices and what people paying at the pump. it is into the long-term solution. it is not even a short-term solution. it's just a carefully created sound bite. oil production is down but nearly two million barrels a day compared to the peak under president trump. it's not a surprise when you take a look at attack on american energy that president biden and this administration have continued to do since day one when he killed the keystone pipeline. so what's the administration also announced last week, without any fan fair, without the president make -- fanfare,
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without the president making an announcement at the white house. oh, by the way, the american people, we're going to do this the day after thanksgiving when you're busy doing other things, not paying attention to the news of the day. this administration called for additional fees, more taxes, more expenses on oil and gas leases on federal land. that impacts my state dramatically. this is in addition to the fees that the president is also including in this massive tax-and-spending bill that the senate is going to be considering. this is also economics 101. higher fees on the cost of producing oil means higher prices for people at the pump. astonishing. making it harder to produce and more expensive to produce american energy. begging opec and russia to produce more to sell to us.
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a jackpot for vladimir putin. so if president biden and his department of interior get their way, the prices will go up even higher. inflation is here to stay under the democrats. the american people deserve better, deserve real solutions in this energy crisis that this administration has created. higher fees are ohm going to get passed -- higher fees are only going to get passed on to consumers. instead of spending our savings, we should be producing more american energy. why are we sending this money to vladimir putin and begging him to produce more so we can send him even more money? that's the policy of this administration. today i am introducing legislation that says, an administration needs to develop a plan to increase oil and gas
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production anytime an administration taps the reserve, unless there is an energy supply emergency like katrina, like a war. those are the things, are legitimate reasons to release energy from the strategic reserve. the reserve is for emergencies. not for sound bites. not supposed to be a band-aid for bad policies. the president is tapping the reserve. he also ought to increase american energy production. so i urge my colleagues to return to the policies that gave us the best economic times in my lifetime. return to the policies that made us energy independent as a nation for the first time in 70 years. return to the policies that made us the number-one producers of petroleum in the world. we are much stronger and better as a nation if we are selling
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american energy to our friends and if we have to buy it from our enemies. apparently the president does not fully grasp that or believe in that or he would not be begging vladimir putin to produce more energy; he would be encouraging america to produce more energy, which we have here. time to stop the restrictions on energy production. time to stop the rush to raise billions in taxes. time to stop the president and the democrats' -- time to stop the president's and the democrats' declared war on american energy. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from maine. mr. king: mr. president, request that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. king: mr. president, i have the responsibility and the privilege to be the chair of the -- something called the strategic forces subcommittee of the committee on armed services. strategic forces is a euphemism for nuclear weapons, and it is one of the most serious threats that we continue to face. we face threats all over the
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world, from pandemics, from terrorism, from a rising china, from a belligerent russia. but one of the most serious that sometimes gets lost in the discussion is the unthinkable catastrophe that would be a nuclear exchange. throughout the last 70-plus years, our principal strategy for dealing with that threat has been deterrence, the idea that if you use nuclear weapons against the united states of america, you will pay the heaviest of prices. and that deterrence has worked. there hasn't been a use of nuclear weapons since 1945. and there are now several -- i can't say the exact number for classification reasons. but there are a number of nuclear countries in the world, nuclear-armed countries -- china and russia among them.
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china is expanding its nuclear capability ex-potentially -- exponentially. over the past several years they have been embarked on an enormous increase of their nuclear capability. but i want to talk about a nuclear capability in the context of an amendment that i will move in a move in a few moments. it is a nuclear threat that deterrence doesn't work on. a nuclear threat that deterrence, the fundamental strategy of our prevention of nuclear conflict for 70 years, doesn't work. what is that threat? the threat of nuclear terrorism. if you're not representing a country and if you don't care about dying, then the idea of nuclear -- a nuclear response doesn't scare you, it doesn't deter you. -- from taking that kind of action. how do we defend against that?
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what is deterrence 2.0 in the current world where international terrorism, although it has not been on the front pages recently, is still there? isis-k, isis, al qaeda, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. they're all still there. they're out plotting. they're all working on ways that they can attack the west and the united states of america. if they could get ahold of the nuclear technology and nuclear building block which is enriched uranium, they would use it. the terrorists who killed 3,000 people on september 11 would have killed three million if they could have.
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and so keeping nuclear materials and nuclear technology out of the hands of terrorists is, to me, one of the most important functions that our government can perform. and that brings me to the nomination of corey hinderstein for the position of deputy administrator for nuclear nonproliferation. she is immensely qualified, has worked in this field for almost 20 years, has worked on nuclear proliferation and nonproliferation issues for most of those years both in the government and in the private sector. i would venture to say there is probably no one in the united states who knows as much about this subject as she does. ms. hinderstein will bees responsible for a major part of the budget, $1.9 billion.
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but she's responsible for controlling the proliferation of nuclear materials, and that is so critical in light of the threat of nuclear terrorism. the only way we can keep them from attacking us is intelligence, knowing what is coming, and keeping these materials out of their hands. and that's why this job is so important. she was approved by the committee and recommended to the senate 40 days ago. it's time to move this nomination. nominations can be held up for a variety of reasons and some policy reasons, and i understand that. but not in this case. and i'm happy to report that it appears that this nomination will not be held up, because i think all of our colleagues realize how important this function is in the government.
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the most, the best nuclear strike is the one that doesn't occur, and the only way to prevent that is to stop the proliferation of nuclear materials. this problem is only growing. we know that iran is now enriching uranium to a much higher extent than they did under the jcpoa. we know that north korea is pursuing its own nuclear ambitions. india, pakistan, both have nuclear programs. so this is a clear and present danger to the united states of america, and that's why this nomination is so important. and so, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session to consider the
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following nomination -- calendar 475. that the senate vote on the nomination, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, that no further motions be in order to the nomination, that any statements related to the nomination be printed in the record, and that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate then resume legislative session all with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? seeing no objection, the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of energy, corey hinderstein of virginia to be deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation, national nuclear security administration. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, all those in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed.
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mr. king: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, are we currently in a quorum call? i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, our democratic
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colleagues in the house and, to some extent, here in the senate have talked about how the so-called build back better legislation is popular, but i think the main reason it's popular is because, frankly, many members of congress and certainly the public at large don't know what's in it, and so i'd like to spend just a few minutes talking about that. first of all, there's the size of the bill. originally the budget committee chairman, the senator from vermont, floated a $6 trillion spending bonanza. this of course was on top of about $5 trillion we spent last year in a bipartisan fashion dealing with the covid-19 pandemic. but, of course, this wasn't designed -- the $6 trillion more was designed to be passed with a pure party-line vote through the reconciliation process. after some pushback, the $6 trillion figure that chairman
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sanders proposed was cut back to $3.5 trillion, and now our colleagues in the house and elsewhere are touting a new pared down bill which spends only -- and i underline the word only -- $1.75 trillion. i dare say that's a number none of us can fully comprehend given its magnitude. but it's become -- rolls off our tongue like everybody understands when a trillion dollars is, like everybody knows what a million is or a thousand or a hundred or ten dollars. but it is an enormous number. as our colleagues have slimmed and trimmed this bill to reach a price tag that could get consensus in the house, some of their favorite provisions have fallen off the chopping block. they realize that programs like free college actually cost a whole lot of money. and so to live within this new number, which i'll talk about in
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a moment, democrats in the house kept cutting and cutting, but they found instead of real cuts, they found another solution to their problem of a top-line. what they've basically done is to create the illusion of a lower price tag without making any real substantive long-term cuts. and how do you do that? well, it's the old-fashioned way. it's called budget gimmicks. rather than remove these expensive programs entirely, they've chose to create a number of arbitrary cliffs, sunsets, and expirations. that way they could pretend to pass these bills at a lower cost with the tacit promise to continue them at another time and another day. one example of this was the expanded child tax credit. our democratic colleagues
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originally crafted this as a temporary measure in their partisan bill that became law in march, just eight months ago. the first payments, though, had barely gone out the door when they decided to call for making those temporary provisions permanent in the b.b.b. -- so-called build back better bill. our colleagues knew a permanent extension and expansion would have been far too expensive to meet their top-line, so they pretended to cut it by making it a temporary extension. he recall year drafts -- earlier drafts would have extended it through 2025. as time went on, the price tag was still too high. so it was scaled back too a one-year extension. but the truth is, nothing has change add. calls to make the expansion permanent have not gone away. i've seen no indication that our colleagues across the aisle are
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content to let this extension expire after one year. the same is true of the earned income tax credit, which also was expanded in march. a number of our colleagues have spoken here on the senate floor about the need to make this expansion of the earned income tax credit permanent. but the not-so-temporary extensions don't end there. this bill extends the affordable care act premium tax credits through 2025, which our colleagues claim will enable more americans to afford health care coverage. but, at the same time, this bill cuts funding, the safety net hospitals, that did not expand medicaid. if their goal was to expand access to medicaid to low-income individuals, their bill cuts that funding to safety net hospitals in states like mine that does not expand medicaid. and these cuts specifically
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target hospitals that treat underinsured and uninsured patients. in short, our colleagues are manipulating the budget process in a way that appears to extend access to health care while at the same time cuts funding to our most vulnerable patients, all in the cause of pushing america closer to a single-payer system. something like medicare for all. i have no doubt that our colleagues across the aisle will, if possible, not let these temporary provisions expire. in the immortal words of ronald reagan, the closest thing to eternal life on earth is a temporary government program. we've seen this movie before time and time again. it's smoke and mirrors, it's budget gimmickry.
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it's starting new programs, claiming to cut them off after a year knowing that inevitably congress will be tempted to extend them much, much longer. well, before this bill comes to a vote in the senate, i hope our democratic colleagues will agree with me. we need to know precisely how much this bill will cost the american people. we know that our colleagues across the aisle have struggled to try to make a $6 trillion bill appear to be a $3.5 trillion and now a $1. 5 trillion, but i don't think anybody is really fooled or confused because they've strategically chosen start dates, sunsets and expiration dates to make it appear that these programs cost less, we know that eventually if they have the votes they will be extended through eastern. and our colleagues game the tax
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code to fund the bill while hanged out tax breaks to -- handing out tax breaks to millions and billionaires. i'm glad to see the chairman of the budget committee say we shouldn't be handing out tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires in cities like new york and san francisco, which is exactly what the democratic bill tries to provide, tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires in blue states. this bill is really chock-full of inconsistencies, claiming to extend access to health care while cutting off access to medicaid for some of the safety net programs in states like mine, claiming that we're going to tax the rich folks while at the same time providing tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires in blue states by lifting or eliminating the salt deduction, the state and local tax deduction, which allows
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taxpayers, these millionaires and billionaires in blue states to deduct their state and local taxes, which means not only do they get a tax cut, but the rest of us end up subsidizing them because in order to get the revenue needed, that means regular working folks are going to have to pick up the gap. the best evidence of this maneuvering is the fact there's not a single year over the next decade in which each tax provision would be used at the same time. let me say that again. of all the gaming in the tax code, the fact is under the proposal by the house of representatives, that we at some point will consider here, the fact is there is not a single year over the next decade in which each of these tax provisions would be used at the same time. this is nothing but gimmicks and
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sleight of hand accounting. in my previous life, mr. president, i was attorney general of texas. we had something called the consumer protection division. if anybody in the private sector would falsely advertise like the federal government and congress is trying to do in this so-called build back better bill, we would go after them with a vengeance for defrauding consumers. unfortunately that doesn't apply to congress. i wish it did. but we often talk, at least intermittently about needing to know what's in a bill before we actually vote on it. at one time or another senators on both sides of the aisle have griped about voting on thousand-page bills that were completed just hours before the vote, knowing the true cost of this legislation is no different. before voting on it, we have the duty to understand how it
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will impact our debt and deficits and how big of a bill the american people will be stuck with. and there's also this ugly animal rearing its head called inflation. 70%, i think in a recent public opinion poll i've seen, of the public say that inflation is eating away more and more of that income and actually reducing their standard of living. it's a silent tax on working families. and i would think that if we're concerned about the welfare of those families that we ought to be very concerned about making inflation worse by pouring more and more money into our economy, chasing fewer and fewer goods and services. that's part of the problem now. there's so much money sloshing around as a result of the spending by congress, much of it associated with covid-19, but not all of it, some of it
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with the american recovery act that was passed, the $1.9 trillion in the early days of the biden administration. but the truth is inflation is eating our lunch, and we should not be making it worse by spending a lot more money as our democratic colleagues are proposing we do in the build back better bill. so we need a cost estimate by the congressional budget office, the official scorer, of these spending bills because we know that what we have seen so far is full of gimmicks, tricks, phony cliffs, phony expiration dates, as i've said, and basically misleading the public and congress into knowing what exactly is in this bill and how much it will cost. well, the cost estimate provided by the c.b.o., we know given these phony assumptions, is not an accurate statement of
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the true cost of the bill. this isn't a reflection on the folks that work at the c.b.o., but the scoring rules they must follow. so despite the fact that our democratic colleagues have explicitly said that temporary programs will be extended at the first opportunity beyond the terms laid out in the bill, the congressional budget office has to play along and act like that's true, but we know it's not true. fortunately there are groups on the outside that have conducted their own analysis. assuming that all these phony cliffs and expiration dates and one-year creation of programs that will later be extended, they don't have to buy this sort of smoke and mirrors approach to the budget. these groups have conducted their own analysis and have told us what they think the true cost of this $1.75 trillion bill,
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so-called, that passed the house, what it will be. for example, the budget experts at the university of pennsylvania's wharton school of business have analyzed this legislation as if these temporary provisions would be made permanent, which i think is the safest assumption to make. so instead of $1.75 trillion, they pegged the cost close to $4.6 trillion over ten years, more than two and a half times the amount democrats have claimed. there's the committee for a responsible federal budget that thinks that the number could even be a few hundred billion higher than that. they estimate the true cost of this bill, now claimed to be $1.75 trillion, to be approximately $5 trillion. this is a massive, massive jump from what democrats have said the cost of this bill will be.
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even one of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle has acknowledged that this is disingenuous -- and island just use the word -- and i would just use the word false advertising. the true cost is closer to senator sanders' $6 trillion request than the so-called scaled back proposal of the current bill. before this legislation comes to the senate floor, we need to see a true cost estimate based on reasonable assumptions, not a fairy tale scenario. it defies all common sense to vote on a bill without knowing how much it's going to cost ahead of time. to this end, last week i sent a letter to the leaders of the congressional budget office and the joint committee on taxation requesting an updated estimate based on more reasonable assumptions. if the temporary provisions of this bill are extended, and i fully expect them to be if our democratic colleagues have the votes to do it, this
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legislation will cost a whole lot more than what the american people have been told. and we need to know as close as we can exactly how much that will be. well, it's obvious what's going on here. these not so temporary provisions won't expire in a year or four years or ten years. we need to operate under rational assumptions that our democratic colleagues, when the chance is provided to them, will make these programs permanent, and to come up with a true and honest score for the bill. if this legislation is all of a sound investment as our democratic colleagues claim, they shouldn't have anything to be afraid of. and we do have a duty, i believe, as members of congress voting on legislation of this magnitude to know what we're doing before we're asked to vote on it. i don't think anybody who really
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, should have anything to be afraid of unless they're afraid of a true accounting as opposed to the smoke and mirrors we see so far on this phony, gimmickry bill. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: i'd ask that the senate stand in recess. the presiding officer: without objection. the senate stands in recess the senate stands in recess
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