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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  January 4, 2022 9:59am-12:00pm EST

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back better despite west virginia democrat no manchin -- joe manchin's opposition to the bill. and there's a february 18th deadline to pass additional spending legislation to avert a government shutdown. watch those developments once congress returns or watchful coverage on the video app. head over to c-span date original for scheduling on demand at any time. watch c-span your unfiltered view of government. the senate is about to gavel in after a shortened session due to snow yesterday. and one for gabrielle sanchez
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in the court of appeals, debate on senator ted cruz's bills to impose sanctions on russia's nord stream pipeline. the chaplain, the reverend dr. barry black, will open the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal shepherd, thank you for providing for the needs of this land we love. lord, you continue to renew the strength of our leaders, as you guide them in the right paths. show our senators how to navigate through the deepest darkness with the illumination
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of your divine presence. lord, deliver them from fear of what the future holds, as they recall how you have saved us in the past. as we approach the anniversary of january 6, we pray for your sovereignty to guard our country. continue to sustain us all with your goodness and love. 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
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all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, january 4, 2022. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable raphael g. warnock, a senator tbrt state of georgia, to perform the duties of the chair. signed patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of state, anne a.
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witkowsky of maryland to be an assistant secretary for conflict and stabilization operations.
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: before i get into my remarks, i ask unanimous consent that the scheduled vote on the sanchez nomination occur at a time to be determined by the majority leader in consultation with the republican
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leader. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. schumer: for the information of senators, we expect to have this vote later today. obviously the delay in getting here because of the snow has forced us to postpone it until later in the day. okay, mr. president, first let me wish you and all of my colleagues a happy and healthy new year. i hope everyone traveling across the country remains safe in the face of these recent winter storms. this morning let me begin with a few words on the loss of our dear friend, our beloved former leader and one of the brightest stars to ever serve in the u.s. senate, our former colleague, harry reid of searchlight, nevada, as he would proudly refer to himself. harry reid, in short, was one of the most incredible individuals i've ever met. the sort of person you come across only a handful of times in your entire life. he was tough as nails, a fighter to his core, but also
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one of the most compassionate individuals you could imagine. to lose harry reid is like losing track of the north star. there are many in this chamber who got to where they are because of him. next wednesday, january 12, harry will make his final return to the u.s. capitol where he'll lie in state under the rotunda. as we honor his life and legacy, i'll have more to say in the coming days. but for now i can only say that harry was my leader, my mentor, one of my dearest friends. when you lose someone who is as close to us as harry was, they're never truly gone. they'll always stay with us, as we gavel in today i take comfort knowing that harry is with us in spirit. walking alongside us as we continue to work, to continue the work he dedicated himself to for so many years. to harry's family, to his wife landra, to all the children and grandchildren, i offer my
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prayers and my condolences. now, mr. president, the senate gavels in on this icy january morning to mark the beginning of a new year, and there's much -- and there is much we must accomplish. at the start of 2020, few could have foreseen the awful trials our country has endured over the past two years. but against adversity, the american people responded. last year over 200 million americans got vaccinated against covid. six million jobs were added back to the economy. and congress delivered on historic legislation that gave americans a much-needed lifeline to get through the worst of covid. in a 50-50 senate, we passed the first stand-alone infrastructure bill in decades, passed historic funding for the sciences and tech innovation, and confirmed the most judicial nominees in a president's first year since ronald reagan.
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despite the immense challenges before us, we now begin 2022 better off compared to where we were one year ago. but of course there is much, much still left to do. so let us continue. to begin this week, the senate will vote to confirm gabriel sanchez as u.s. circuit court judge for the ninth circuit. a graduate of yale, fulbright scholar and associate justice of the california court of appeals, justice sanchez has presided in hundreds of cases and has the experience and expertise necessary to be an excellent addition to the federal bench. off the floor, the negotiations will continue with members of our caucus and with the white house on finding a path forward on build back better. as i mentioned before christmas, i intend to hold a vote in the senate on b.b.b., and we'll keep voting until we get a bill passed. the stakes are high for us to find common ground on this
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legislation. the climate crisis continues to worsen. families and children continue dealing with the impacts of covid. and too many americans still struggle to pay the high costs of health care and prescription drugs. we'll keep working until we get something done. now on january -- about january 6 and defending democracy. at the same time the senate will also proceed on another urgent and fundamental matter, protecting our democracy and strengthening the right to vote in free and fair elections. later today i'll meet with a number of my colleagues to continue our conversation on voting rights, and i'll meet with our entire caucus for the first time this year to talk about how we're going to move forward. there's been constant discussion among members over the break, constant. i must have made a minimum of ten phone calls every single day
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with maybe the exception of christmas in respect for my colleagues. but we have to keep moving forward. and a few days from now, our country will observe a dark and troubling milestone, the one-year anniversary of january 6, the day that thousands of rioters, urged on by the vicious lies of the disgraced former president, waged a violent assault upon the us capitol in order to prevent, to prevent, a peaceful transfer of power. this was no just peaceful demonstration. this was aimed at undoing our democracy. thank god they failed. as i said hours after the attack on january 6, 2021, as i said after the attack, january 6, 2021 will be forever remembered as a day of enduring infamy. a permanent blemish in the story of american democracy, and the
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final, bitter act of the worst president, the worst president in modern times. of course, over the course of this week, we'll pay tribute to the heroes who stepped up that fateful day, our capitol police, the d.c. metro police, our national guard, who kept watch for months, and everyone who acted quickly that day to save the lives and save our democracy. but this week, mr. president, this week we must also acknowledge that the attack on january 6 was not a one-off. it did not materialize out of the blue. on the contrary. january 6 was a symptom of a much broader illness that has now infected the modern republican party, an effort to delegitimize our elections, rooted in donald trump's big lie. and while january 6 was only one
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day, the big lie lives on and has only grown stronger. the big lie lives on in republican-dominated state legislatures, where at least 19 states have passed 33 flu laws that will potentially -- 33 new laws that will potentially make it harder for millions to vote in our elections. they say they want to prevent fraud. they have no evidence of fraud. we all know what they're up to. vitiating, poisoning our elections, the sacred part of the american democracy. and the violence and threats of violence continue. the big lie lives on through the troubling wave of violent threats that election workers across the country have endured over the course of the last year. all simply for the audacity of having done their job to count the votes fairly and without bias. and if left alone, if left alone
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, the big lie threatens the very future of our republic. if people don't believe in the sanctity of our elections, what is going to happen to this republic? the sanctity of elections, the fairness of elections, the fact that after election day we abide by the results has been the cornerstone of our entire democracy. it's what democracy is all about. it's what the founding fathers constructed. are we going to let that go by the wayside? are we going to let it be poisoned and vitiated, with huge consequences to the effect of this nation, probably greater than any we have seen since the civil war? so, as we remember january 6 this week, and as we confront state-level voter suppression, we must be clear. they're not isolated
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developments. they are all directly linked to the same anti-democratic poison of the big lie. let me say that one more time. insurrection of january 6, the flurry of new voter restriction laws, and state-level evers to subvert -- efforts to subvert democracy are not isolated developments, but manifestations of the same even tie democratic poison of donald trump's big lie. and they all demand the same solution. the senate must advance legislation to protect our democracy and safeguard the right to vote. over the coming weeks, the senate will consider, will thus consider legislation we can pass to achieve this goal. democrats for months have tried to bring republicans to the table, but every single time republicans use the rules of the
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senate to prevent even a debate. voting rights in the past was a bipartisan issue. how quickly they forget. republican presidents, ronald reagan, george h.w. bush, george w. bush supported voting rights. when voting rights extensions came up in this body in the past, they passed by large majorities, bipartisan. the resistance we see from modern-day republicans is a beast of an entirely different nature. maybe some of them are scared of trump, but too many of them see this as a way to win advantage, to get their hard right views enacted, even though the public doesn't support them. by jaundicing our election process and saying, and putting barriers in the way of particular people, not all people, of voting, people of
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color, poor people, people who live in big cities, young people , handicapped people, elderly people. as i said in my dear colleague earlier this week, if republicans continue to hijack the hiewls of the -- the rules of the chamber to prevent action on something as critical as protecting our democracy, then the senate will debate and consider changes to the rules on or before january 17, martin luther king jr. day. over the course of history, mr. president, the senate has debated voting rights many team, and done what was necessary to take action. but rarely did our predecessors face the sort of malice that now confronts our democracy from within. and one final point, i mean, the arguments from the other side, they're saying federalize the elections. that's in the constitution.
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that federal elections can be ruled -- can be determined by federal legislation. that's what some of our great post-civil war amendments were all about. that's what the history of voting rights legislation has been about, when state legislatures for reasons, often bigoted and raisist, said people couldn't vote for one reason or another, or stopped them from voting, the congress stepped in. that's nothing new. it's unbelievable the arguments they come up with. just totally false. totally false. so as we hold this debate, i ask my colleagues to consider this question -- if the right to vote is the cornerstone ever our democracy, then how can we democrats permit a situation which republicans can pass voter suppression laws at the state level with only a simple
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majority vote, but not allow the united states senate to do the same? and i ask that of my democratic colleagues, my democratic colleagues. this asymmetry cannot hold. if senate republicans continue to abuse the filibuster to prevent this body from acting, then the senate must adapt. the senate always has. robert c. byrd, one of this chamber's great traditionalists, acknowledged that senate rules that seemed appropriate in the past, quote, must be changed to reflect changed circumstances. boy, oh, boy, do we have changed circumstances now. with this abandonment of voting rights by the republican party. and a willingness to let voters from one end of the country to the other be suppressed. as times change, and circumstances evolve, the senate must follow the suit of changed
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circumstances when necessary. so we're going to work towards that goal in the coming weeks. to downplay the threat against our democracy is dangerous. dangerous. we have seen this in history forever when people try to subvert democracy, when they use flets of -- threats of violence to do so. if good people don't stand up, the democracy can wither. we cannot let that happen to our wonderful country. there is no better way to heal the damage of january 6 than to act so that our constitutional order is preserved for the future. if we do not act to protect our elections, the horrors of january 6 will risk becoming not the exception but the norm. the stakes cooperate be -- could not be higher, so we are going to move forward. i yield the floor.
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mr. durbin: mr. president. mr. mcconnell: the majority whip. mr. durbin: mr. president, mark twain said that the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why. harry reid grew up in the tiny mining town of searchlight, nevada. this politician class, of which i'm part of, likes to try to trace their roots to some humble
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beginning, some log cabin experience that they've overcome to reach public office. harry didn't have to fake it. he was the third of four boys, born in the great depression to a very poor family. his father was a hard rock miner who battled alcoholism and was tortured by depression. his father took his own life. harry came to the floor so many times i can remember and spoke of this issue of suicide and what it had meant to him as a boy growing up and what it meant to so many people across america. his mother, a sweet, humble woman who helped to feed the family by doing laundry. the family home was a sight to behold. a tin-roofed wooden cabin with no indoor plumbing, no hot
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water, no telephone. the day harry came into this world was december 2, 1939. the day he had his mark twain moment and learned why he was put there happened 30 years later. against all odds, larry had e-- harry had escaped the poverty of his childhood. he had put himself through law school at george washington university here in washington, d.c., and he worked as a capitol hill police officer in this building to pay for his law school. after graduating, he returned to nevada as a young lawyer and got involved in local politics. then came that mark twain moment. harry attended a speech at the university of nevada in reno by a writer named alex haley. haley's master work "roots" traced the story of one american family's triumphant rise over
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several generations from the horrors of slavery to freedom. something that alex haley said that night hit harry reid like a thunger bolt. haley said be proud of who you are. it can't -- you can't escape who you are. harry reid recalled that moment in his farewell address to the senate a little over four years ago. harry said, i walked out of that event that night a different person, a new man. from that day forward, i would always be harry reid from searchlight r. as his favorite author mark twain might say, that was the day that harry reid found out why he was born. he spent the rest of his life, after that alex haley experience, almost a half century, climbing the political ladder in america to one of its highest rungs, but using that power to help underdogs like
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that little boy from searchlight people like his parents, who struggled to feed their parents, and others who felt the crushing hand of fate. harry really believed that the american family could come together, as a government, and make life better for one another. he believed thatwise government decisions gave people an opportunity to overcome adversity. some mo he who grow up in -- some who grow up in poverty and hardship and escape it are so seared by that pain that they never want to look back. they develop a sort of myopia that seems to make it hard for them to see the struggles of others. that was not harry reid. as a young man, he was a tough middleweight boxer. as a lawmaker, he used his boxer's instincts to fight for others. he mastered the arts of deal
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making and law making to help people who work hard and struggle. he will go down in history as a senate majority leader who helped deliver the fact, obamacare, the most important health economic security advancement in america in 50 years. 31 million americans, one out of every ten have health insurance today because of obama's leadership and harry reid making it a reality. his work in the senate i witnessed personally day by day by day, i can remember so many chapters, days when i thought it was over. here we were with exactly 60 votes and our friend, a man we both loved, teddy kennedy, was dying. we didn't know if we could get to the finish line in time while
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he was still alive. but harry was determined, a bulldog tenacity to pass that affordable care act and every american with insurance has important protections they never had before because of that determination. when he fought for the affordable care act, harry remembered his own life story of how his brother had been writhing in agony in bed with a broken leg because his family couldn't afford to take him to the doctor. harry used his power to avoid other families from that suffering. after the great recession of 2009 that robbed millions of americans of their jobs, hopes, and savings, harry reid helped to pass the dodd-frank wall street reform to help prevent the abuses that led that too crash. nevada is home to many immigrants and harry was hoping
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to fix the broken immigration system. we came to the house in 1982 and he left to the go to the senate and i joined him after that. so we had a friendship that dated back many years. he knew my feelings about immigration, particularly about the dream act. and he wasn't sure of exactly what to do until he had two moments of life, one when his life law landra came to talk abt that issue and to do the right thing and second to hear from those with immigrant stories. he promised me as his friend and as his whip to his leader majorityship, he would bring the dream act to the floor. he knew the chances of success were limited but he was
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determined to give me my day here on the floor of the senate. he brought the dream act to the floor of the senate in december 2010, we had a majority for it. it wasn't the only time we had a majority but, of course, fell short of the 60-vote requirement under the filibuster. then harry said, what can i do? and i told him, harry, we have to reach out to our friend and former colleague, barak obama. we have to ask him to do fg in -- everything in his power to do what we cannot accomplish because of the filibuster. so we wrote a letter, 22 of us democrats to barak obama pleading with him to step in and help those beautiful young people who were asking for a chance to be a part of america's future. harry reid had a lot to do as majority leader, president obama said he would help and created
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daca and hundreds of thousands of people had a chance to be legally in america and be part of america's future. harry served longer in congress than any nevadan in history. he served in the senate for 30 years. he was only three people to serve eight years or more as senate majority leader. he earned the tribute of a nation and it will be paid to him this coming weekend and the following week when his body will lie in state in the rotunda of the capitol that he loved. harry was my colleague, my leader and my friend. had he not called me personally and asked me to consider running for whip many years ago, i probably wouldn't have done it. but i knew that if he trusted me, i could offer my candidacy to the senate in the hopes of being elected as whip. he had so many stories to tell.
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hardly a day would go by that i wouldn't be in his office he would tell some story about growing up, about his high school buddies, about his sports experience, about his wonderful wife landra, about family experiences that always were colorful stories. one involved one of his brothers who got into a fight in a bar in nevada. his brother was outnumbered and he was about to take a beating when the front door of the tavern flung open and cousin jeff, a big bruiser of a man, walked in and took control, saving his brother from a beating. i was proud to be called cousin jeff by harry when he called me in political battle to be by his side so many time. it was an honor. i was with him when he served as
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majority and majority whip. harry was a man of extraordinary humility. he was the first to admit he wasn't much of an order and he would say that his good looks didn't vote him into public office. he had a genius of listening to people. he listened to the voices of our caucus across the aisle and across america, and he managed often to find a way forward. he was a modest man. he didn't care who got the credit as long as the work was done. the only thing harry reid loved as much of the -- as the senate and the promise of america was his family. landra was such an extraordinary person. harry's wife of 62 years. they started dating in high school and harry knew she was the one. it took some convincing for her family to come around to that
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point of view, but they did and had a strong, loving relationship. their children, rory, lana, kay, leif and josh and their 19 grandchildren were such a pride to harry, more than anyone. i want to extend my sympathy to them on behalf of myself and my life loretta as well as the talented staff members who served harry reid for so many years and many are still here. above my desk is president lincoln and above harry's desk was mark twain. i was confused when i saw it because i pictured mark twain growing up in mississippi, i didn't extend the connection, in fact, mark twain spent the
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largest part of his time in connecticut. harry reid said that it was while samuel clemtion was working as a newspaper reporter in nevada that he became mark twain. it was in nevada where he used that pseudonym, harry reid rose to one of the highest positions in our government. he met with presidents, prime ministers and even monarchs and this man from searchlight helped craft and pass some of the most important legislation of our time. but like mark twain it was in nevada that harry discovered why he was born. he fought for justice and fairness and he always fought for the underdog. he was searching for those young people like himself who grew up in a hard-rock mining town under the toughest of circumstances and did their best. he wanted to give them the same fighting chance he had in life.
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harry fought the good fight. he finished the race. america is better for it and i will miss my friend. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president,ed i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: happy new year, mr. president. it's good to see you and everybody back at the beginning of a new year, after, i hope, a few days of respite and
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relaxation with friends and families, and hopefully we've all had a chance to recharge our batteries for the work ahead. one of the great things about taking a few days off during the holidays is you get a chance to reflect on your work, your life, your family, what you're doing right, what you're doing wrong. that's what new year's resolutions are all about. changing some of those habits that maybe aren't serving us all that well. but it's also to sort of reflect on the work here in the senate. i want to start by quoting one of the wisest men i know, and that's my dad. my dad said -- he had a whole list of after -- aphorisms, most of which embarrassed my brother and sister and me because they were so corny, but
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some of them were pretty shrewd and right on. one of them was, he said the hallmark of intelligence is to learn from your mistakes. the hallmark of intelligence is to learn from your mistakes. and we are merely human, and we all make mistakes. we all acknowledge that. but learning from our mistakes is perhaps the most important thing we can do to make progress, to get smarter, to learn from experience, and to do things better the next time. i also thought of another wise man, you might call him a genius, albert einstein, who supposedly said -- and i can't vouch for this, but maybe it's accurate, he said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different
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results. insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. i was reflecting on these definitions of intelligence and insanity as i thought about the year past and our 50-50 senate. in 2020, we had an historical election, no doubt. our democratic colleagues captured not only the white house, but the senate and the house of representatives. but what's so amazing about that is the lessons that they learned from that 50-50 election in the senate and a bare majority in the house was very different from what i think historically people have come to believe that that kind of message would send. ordinarily, you would think that -- well, first of all, this is not the new deal, and franklin dell -- franklin
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delano roosevelt. roosevelt had huge majorities in the house and senate when he passed the new deal legislation, historic legislation by any count. conversely, in 2020, when president biden was elected, the american people basically said we don't particularly trust either one of the major political parties, so we're going to divide power equally in the senate and give you a bare majority in the house, believing maybe intuitively if not consciously that that would force us to work together. that's not necessarily the first instinct we have when we come here to the senate or the congress. we want what we want. we all run for election. we campaign on a platform saying if elected, i'm going to do this or that. and it's frustrating to not be
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able to do it. but the wisdom of our founders was that with the various checks and balances that we have on unilateral or partisan power, that when the voters say, well, we're going to divide power equally in the senate, you would think the conclusion or the lesson that you would learn from that is what historically we've come to believe to be true is that they believe we ought to work together and not try to do things on our own. so you would think that an equally divided senate would encourage the majority leader, who is majority leader only by virtue of the fact that the president harris is the presiding officer of the senate. she's not actually a member of the senate but she can break tie votes. that's what gives senator schumer, the senator from new york, his job as the majority leader, in spite of the fact
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that we have a 50-50 senate. so you would think that an equally divided chamber would encourage the majority leader to prioritize bipartisan bills that could win broad support. that's what we did last year, in the last year of the trump administration. we worked together to pass i think close to $5 trillion of relief from covid-19, this terrible pandemic that's gripped the planet for the last two years. but apparently the majority leader reached a different conclusion because that's not the type of work that he's prioritized in the chamber during this last year. it didn't start off very well. after a wonderful speech by president biden on january 20, when he talked about healing our country, coming together as a nation despite our differences, the first thing the democratic
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controlled senate did is pass a $2 trillion partisan bill. they omitted to mention that 10% of the money on top of the $5 trillion we spent on a bipartisan basis, that out of that $2 trillion only about 10% of it was really related to the pandemic and only 1% supported vaccinations, perhaps the single most important thing that we've done in response to covid-19 is to make vaccinations broadly available. and we continue to encourage people to get vaccinated, as i do every chance i get. well, after the, after that first $2 trillion partisan spending bill, our colleagues then repeatedly used the senate's time, which is the most precious asset we have here in the senate, which is floor
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time, to vote on smaller but no less problematic bills that really stood zero chance of becoming law in a 50-50 senate. there was one to, in the name of paycheck fairness, that was in fact designed to line the pockets of trial lawyers, and it didn't pass. then our democratic colleagues drafted an election takeover bill. they said the only way for us to restore the public's confidence in the voting process is for the federal government to take it over, to hijack it, notwithstanding their position in the constitution that elections should be run at the state level. and this election takeover bill was so blatantly partisan that even members of the democratic senate voted against it. but they didn't stop there. they rewrote the bill and brought it up for another vote
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in october, and again it failed. our democratic colleague, the majority leader, has said this partisan legislation will resurface again later this month , but i don't expect the outcome to change because it's the same unconstitutional partisan legislation that's not to advance the cause of access to the ballot or enhance voter integrity. it's designed to enhance democratic prospects to win elections in 2022 and 2024. that's what it's about. and then there's the multitrillion-dollar tax-and-spending bill. and i know the senator from west virginia has been the chief spear catcher when it comes to all the criticism associated with this legislation. but i've told both the senator
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from west virginia and the senator from arizona that there are many democrats, i believe, on the other side of the aisle who are grateful to them for preventing a vote on this terribly flawed bill in the face of rapidly rising inflation. i mean, one reason why it costs more to fill up your gas tank or to feed your family or to buy an appliance is because of inflation. prices have been going up dramatically, and one reason is there's been so much money shoveled out the door, trillions of dollars. we never used to talk in terms of trillions of dollars here in washington. we talked about billions of dollars. everett dirksen famously said a million here, a million there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money. well, maybe it was a billion. i can't recall specifically, but i know he didn't talk about trillions of dollars. that's an innovation of the last
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couple of years. i want to commend our colleague, senator manchin, for his courage in stopping this terribly flawed bill for all the reasons he and others have mentioned, and i hope that's the end of this terribly flawed legislation, and it will force us to do what the founders believed that we would do in the event of a 50-50 senate, and that's to work together. by definition, working together means i'm not going to get everything i want. the presiding officer and his political party aren't going to get everything he wants. that's what consensus means. that's what the founders intended, and that's what the voters intended when they gave us a 50-50 senate. but it's not enough to vote bend legislation. we have a responsibility to work together when we can on bills
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that senators from both political parties can vote for. that's the reason for the so-called filibuster rule, 60 votes. we keep debating until 60 senators say okay, we're ready to vote. that's what creates deliberation and debate and consensus building. not eliminating that requirement and then just passing bills by a strict majority, bills which can, by the way, be undone after the next election. and just as our, just as colleagues on this side of the aisle have identified legislation we don't want passed absent an ability to build a bipartisan consensus, there's a litany of bills that i know our democratic colleagues would not want passed were the shoe on the other foot. and i've been here long enough to know that eventually the shoe will be on the other foot.
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i've always said that i've been in the majority and i've been in the minority, and being in the majority is a lot better, a lot more enjoyable, a lot more productive, from my standpoint. but eventually the democratic colleagues will be in the minority, perhaps as soon as after the 2022 election. and if 51 votes is all it takes to undo things that have been done, well, that's exactly what will happen. that's been the history of the filibuster that's been applied to nominations, not to legislation. i was here when senator harry reid invoked the nuclear option and said we're going to require 60 votes in order to confirm judges with a 51-vote threshold. and then when that was used to block judges on the d.c. court of appeals, senator reid
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invoked the nuclear option and got them passed by a strict bipartisan majority. the senator from kentucky, senator mcconnell, said i've been here awhile too, and i know what goes around comes around. and what we've seen come around is three new supreme court justices during donald trump's time as president of the united states. you might call it the physics of the senate. i think it was one of newton's laws that said for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. you might call that political physics. at the start of this congress, i promised my constituents in texas that i would push back against dangerous proposals when needed. but i also said in the same sentence that i would work with my democratic colleagues whenever possible, whenever i believed it was in the best interest of my 29 million constituents. and despite the partisanship that has gripped this chamber,
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we actually have made some progress in some areas. not that you would read very much about it in the newspaper, the nature of news is of conflict. it's not consensus. when things are consensus, it's not news. it's not on cable tv. it doesn't swirl around social media or the internet. so we have been able to make some progress in some areas. for example, last month, the senate passed the 61st annual national defense authorization act. the 61st. that means we've done it 61 times. is in a row, every year, for 61 years. this was good bipartisan legislation, and an example of what we can do when we work together. this legislation ensures that our servicemembers will have the resources they and their families need, both on duty and off, makes investments in
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military construction and our military bases across texas and elsewhere, and it gives our commanders and our military leaders the certainty they need to plan for the future. another example of bipartisanship last year, not that many people remember or talk about it or write about it or hear about it on tv or see it on social media, but last summer we passed another major bipartisan piece of legislation, called the u.s. competition innovation -- u.s. innovation and competition act. this legislation makes investments in critical sectors to counter threats from china. this was one of the leading proponents of this bill was a senator from new york, the majority leader, working principally with the senator from indiana, senator young, and others of us. one important part of that bill that i worked on with the
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senator from virginia, a democrat, the senior senator from virginia, senator warner, was funding for programs created by the chips act. it actually became law last year, but we had to find a way to pay for it, and the senate stepped upped and did so. and now we're hoping that the house will follow suit. as crushes learned over this -- as consumers learned over this last year, actually covid-19 exposed our vulnerability tore supply chains from overseas. we saw that first with personal protective equipment. most of which, virtually all of which, was made in china and when we needed it here, well, we had to try to get it overseas from china to the united states so that it could protect our healthcare heroes, our front line healthcare providers, among others. but we learned that the vulnerabilities of our supply chains did not stop with p.p.e. semiconductor shortages, for
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example, have a very real and dramatic impact on all of our lives. we've seen this in empty car lots, more expensive electronics, the global semiconductor or microcircuit shortage is very visible. it has had a dramatic impact on our economy and threatens our national security. because most of it's made overseas. 90% of the semiconductors in the world are made in asia. if you take south korea out of the picture, 63% of them are made in taiwan. taiwan. yeah, you may have read a little bit about taiwan in the news recently. that's president xi said he wants to essentially unify taiwan with mainland china. settling an old civil war between the nationalists and the communists that started many years ago. but can you imagine what would
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happen if president xi decided to invade taiwan and what that would do to our supply chain of critical semiconductors that operate everything from our iphone to our f-35, fifth generation stealth fighters? well, our national defense is at stake, obviously, too, not just our economic future. from advanced fighters, quantum computing, and missile defense systems, all of them rely on semiconductors. we may have read that the -- in the public domain, that russia and china are now touting their development of hypersonic missiles, missiles that travel ten times the speed of sound. well, our ability to defend our nation and defend our allies and
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help them defend themselves depend on our access to these advanced semiconductors that make things like missile defense systems operate. but just for example, a single rocket interceptor like the kind the state of israel have been using to intercept rockets coming into tel aviv and other major cities, each one of those interceptors, which is part of the iron dome missile defense system, contains more than 750 semiconductor chips. this is our achilles' heel. the funding from the u.s. innovation and competition act will help bolster domestic semiconductor manufacturing and ensure that we won't be at the mercy of other nations for access to critical components of our supply chains. this bill is over in the house, and speaker pelosi and majority
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leader schumer have entered into an agreement, which i hope will be consummated, that in february we will have a conference on that bill and pass, i hope, that chips act of america bill, together with the other efforts we've made to strengthen our defenses against a more aggressive people's republic of china. well, we don't have much time to waste, because we know one of the preeminent challenges that we have in the world today is not terrorism, like we experienced after 9/11, on 9/11 and thereafter. we were focused like a laser on counterterrorism. meanwhile, russia and china continued to rebuild and replenish their arsenals and develop new and dangerous weapons that threaten our national security and, in the end, threaten our freedom.
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in addition to these big bipartisan bills that i've mentioned, i was glad that a number of bills that i introduced became law last year. after years of fighting, we finally succeeded in making juneteenth a national holiday. juneteenth started in galveston, texas, when two years after the civil war was over the former slaves in galveston were told you are free. we'd been celebrating that for 40 years in texas, and i'm proud to say we've now made this a national holiday. hopefully, this will be a source of education and reconciliation, and so people will understand our history. because, as the old saying goes, those who don't remember their history are condemned to relive it. this would not have happened without the support and tenacity of advocates across texas, including my friend ms. opennal
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lee of -- opal lee of fort worth, known as the grandmother of juneteenth. "the dallas morning news" editorial board named her woman of the year for last year. quite an appropriate recognition. but this bill and this holiday will preserve the history of juneteenth for generations to come, and ensure that we never forget the significance of that day, when major general gordon granger's troops declared that all slaves are forever free. then we passed it bipartisan bills to strengthen the policies and procedures for reporting missing servicemembers, something very near and dear to those of us in texas, given the terrible and tragic loss of vanessa guillen. we also strengthened our defense against china by strengthening our relationship with taiwan. we passed bipartisan legislation ensuring that federal officers, no matter where they serve, that
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their attackers, their killers can be brought to justice. for border states like the presiding officer's and mine, we've modernized, increased staffing at points of entry at our borders with mexico, without spending taxpayer dollars. we've also closed loopholes abused by some companies fueling the opioid epidemics. again, i could go on and on, but these are just a few of the bipartisan bills that i was privileged to have worked on and that were signed into law last year. web you add -- when you add the bipartisan bills introduced by our colleagues on both sides of the aisle it adds up to a lot of bipartisan wins for the american people. again, you don't read about it much in the paper. you don't see it much on cable tv on read about it on social media, but it's real and it's true, and it's what i think we were sent here to do.
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so, my conclusion is perhaps a obvious one, that even in a equally divided senate, if we try, if maybe we resist our impulse to go it alone, we can actually work together and find bipartisan solutions. one of our former colleagues, mike i understandy, who passed -- mike insey, who passed away in the recent past, when i came to the senate he was on the health, education, labor and pensions committee with the lion of the senate, teddy kennedy. i came to the senate, i was kind of in awe of the people i'd seen on television, particularly the kennedy family, who had served our nation in so many different capacities. but i asked mike insey, perhaps one of the most conservative members of the senate, how he and teddy kennedy, one of the most liberal members of the senate, can work together and actually pass legislation. he said it's easy. it's called the 80-20 rule.
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you find the 80% of what you can agree on, and then you leave the 20% for another day and another fight. depending on your viewpoint, it can either be a recipe for gridlock or a really big opportunity. and i've subscribed to the wisdom of the 80-20 rule. from what i've seen, i believe the presiding officer agrees with that as well. so, instead of just focusing on the things we can't agree on and perhaps will never agree on, because we have different visions for the role of the federal government in our lives, that's okay. those are the debates we've been having since the founding of this country and we'll have it forever, as long as this great nation lasts. but let's not just focus on the 20% we can't do, which seems to be the obsession of the news
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media and others. let's think more about the 80% we can do. rather than waste floor time, which is coining the realm here, i mean, if you can't come to the floor because there's no floor timity not going to happen -- time it's not going to happen. rather than waste time on partisan bills that ultimately go nowhere, let's find common ground and work on our shared priorities. i've got one idea. how do we help families struggling to keep up with the highest infloridaition in nearly 40 -- inflation in nearly four decades? i've lived long enough to know when interest rates were close to 20% and we had double-digit inflation. it was a miserable time in this country, because people's paychecks were eaten up by inflation, and they couldn't afford to buy things like houses that they ordinarily might buy to increase their standard of living, because interest rates were so high on mortgage loans.
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well, let's work on supply chains that have been unable to keep up with demand, vulnerabilities exposed by covid-19. again, the definition of intelligence, as my dad used to say, what he called the hallmark of intelligence, is learning from your mistakes. not doing the same thing over and over again, like albert einstein said, and expecting different results. there's also a humanitarian crisis on the border that's led to the highest number of annual apprehensions on record. i'm not confident our colleagues on other side actually believe in enforcing our immigration laws, but maybe i'm wrong. maybe there's some areas that we can work on, like the senator from arizona, senator sinema and i, henry cuellar a democrat from
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o, tony -- from lore edo, tony gonzalez from texas, we've worked on the bipartisan border solutions act. we'd love to work with our colleagues across the aisle to find some way to address the uncontrolled access that people who have no reasonable grounds for asylum are getting and coming into our country and then fading into the great american landscape. there are other things i'd like to do in the immigration space, things like the deferred action on childhood arrivals. ten years ago, president obama signed, or issued a executive memorandum, saying that if you were brought here as a child, under certain criteria, you would be able to stay and you will be able to get work permits. but it's been in litigation for the last ten years. the last decision by a federal district judge in houston,
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texas, judge hanan, said that basically the daca and dapa, in this days, daca, deferred action on childhood arrival memorandum is unconstitutional and that only congress can address this. and i suggest we should. i've asked the chairman of the judiciary committee to put a bill on the floor in the judiciary committee that provides some certainty in the future for these young people who are now young adults living in uncertainty. give them some certainty and some comfort knowing that they don't need to fear deportation or some other negative consequence. because i believe there is a broad consensus that we ought to give them some relief. in america you don't hold children responsible for the mistakes parents make and i
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believe we could find a bipartisan solution to at least that part. and you know what, maybe, just maybe, by doing some things together, we can increase confidence among ourselves. yeah, we really can. we can work together. we can find bipartisan solutions. we don't have to just fight and emphasize the 20% we can't agree on, we can work on that 80% and make real progress. i believe these are the type of issues the american people sent us here to solve. forget legislation that hands tax breaks to the wealthy or federalizes america's elections, notwithstanding the provisions of the constitution. let's work together to solve real problems where there is an opportunity for us to find that 80% solution. so as we welcome the start of a new year, i hope the democratic leader, senator schumer, and our colleagues across the aisle will
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look at the 50-50 senate with a fresh perspective. we do have an opportunity to deliver big wins to the american people this year and i hope the senate majority leader, who sets the agenda on the floor, will allow that to happen. mr. president, i yield the floor. and 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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mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. thune: mr. president, is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, we are. mr. thune: i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, before we begin, i want to express my deep sorrow at the death of former senator johnny isakson. i served with johnny f. a long time, not just here but also in the house of representatives. i was honored to call him my friend. johnny was a tremendously effective legislator, in particular a champion for veterans and a model of decency and graciousness. when i came down to the floor to discuss his retirement, i read a quote from a politics professor from georgia that i thought captured him. i think so still. here's what that professor had to say -- and i quote -- as a political science professor and an administrator, i'm often
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asked by students if good people can serve in government and keep their integrity. johnny isakson is always the first example i come to. it is very often a shocking revelation to most people that good people can and often do serve in government for long periods, fight hard for what they believe in, and remain true themselves and their principles. and they don't have to sell their souls to do it. it's a great lesson really, end quote. mr. president, that was johnny, a good man, one of the best i've ever known, who came to washington to serve his state and his country and serve them faithfully throughout his life. my thoughts and prayers are with johnny's wife diane and with his children and grandchildren. mr. president, i also want to mention the loss of former senate democrat leader harry reid who also passed away this christmas and also extend my thoughts and prayers to his
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wife, landra, and his family. mr. president, the end of 2021 marks the end of a year of democrat governance, and the picture is sobering. if we were issuing a report card for 2021, i am afraid democrats would earn a d for dreadful or disaster or an f or failure, because 2021 was filled with long democrat-led -- one democrat-led crisis after another. take our current inflation crisis. when democrats took office last january, inflation was well within an acceptable range, what's known as the target inflation rate. and it might have stayed there had they not decided that they needed to pass a massive government spending spree under the guise of covid relief. in december of 2020, congress
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passed its fifth covid relief bill, a nearly $1 trillion piece of legislation. but the ink was barely dry on the page before democrats decided that they needed to take advantage of the covid situation to pass another bill, this type a hyper partisan $1.9 trillion piece of legislation packed with unnecessary government spending and payoffs to democrat interest groups. and that unnecessary government spending, of course, had serious consequences. mr. president, the definition of inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods and services, and that's exactly the situation democrats created. they sent too many federal dollars into the economy and the economy overheated as a result. since democrats passed their so-called american rescue plan, inflation has gone up and up again. in november, inflation hit its highest level in nearly 40 years. 40 years.
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and american families are dealing with the consequences. spikes in food prices, rent prices, utility prices, used cars and truck prices, propane, kerosene, and firewood prices. and, mr. president, the list goes on. inflation is so bad that despite wage growth in 2021, americans saw a de facto pay cut. mr. president, i would you this that the economic pains americans are experiencing would give democrats pause. but in fact democrats are doubling down on the reckless strategy that caused so much inflation in the first place. fortunately, they have so far been unable to summon a majority to support their spending plan. but their unconcern with the dangerous economic consequences of their proposed new spending spree is deeply troubling. mr. president, i wish i could say that our inflation crisis was the only democrat disaster
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to come out of 2021, but that wouldn't be true. democrats have also presided over a massive crisis at our southern border, a crisis that democrats are apparently completely content to ignore. illegal migration picked up in the wake of the president's inauguration and reached stratospheric levels in 2021, the crisis shows no signs of abating. in november, 173,620 people were encountered attempting to cross our southern border illegally. that's well over double the number who tried to cross illegally in november of 2020 and nearly four times the number who attempted to cross in november of 2019. but you would never know it by listening to the president or congressional democrats. it is clear that the president
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doesn't care what's happening at our southern border despite the very real humanitarian crisis. but our ongoing inflation and border disaster still don't represent the total of democrats' 2021 failures. there was also the president portman-stabenow disastrous withdrawal from -- the president's disastrous withdrawal from afghanistan. it was a real low point for our country. 13 of our military men and women died in a terrorist attack during the evacuation of kabul. we abandoned thousands of individuals who had worked with us and whom we had promised to protect. they are bracing for life under the brutal control of the taliban if they haven't been forced into hiding or met an even more grim fate. the president also left behind hundreds of american citizens and the latest reports suggest that some of them may still be trying to find a way out of the
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country. meanwhile, the president left our allies wondering if our word could be relied on. most of all, the president's disastrous withdrawal has left our country in a more precarious national security position. afghanistan is well on its way to once again becoming a terrorist haven. but as with our border crisis, the dangers of our current afghanistan situation barely seem to register own the president's radar. i could go on. i talk about how the president who promised to be a president for all americans most instead been a president for the far left wing of the democrat party. despite holding a razor thin majority in congress they have governed in a relentlessly partisan and extreme manner, attempting to force through far-left legislation, including a federal takeover of election law and perhaps the most radical abortion legislation ever considered in congress.
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or i can talk about how they are plotting to overturn a decades-old senate rule in an attempt to pass their partisan priorities through the senate. but i'll stop this discussion here. thanks to democrats' disasters, 2021 was a very rough year for the country. i would love to think that the democrat governance in 2022 would be better. that democrats would get serious about inflation, abandon their plans for a reckless spending spree, address the border crisis. but given the way things have been going, i am not getting my hopes up. mr. president, before i clerks i want to take a moment to comment on the situation in ukraine. tensions remain dangerously high as russia has amassed 100,000 troops on the border. this is just the latest aggressive move by russia which already illegally annexed crimea in 2014 and has been supporting separatist forces in the donbass
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region of urine ukraine. i'd like to note for the record a bipartisan, bicameral virtual meeting that occurred on the morning of christmas evil with the president of ukraine. i participated in this meeting which allowed us to discuss the situation directly with president zelinsky. we discussed the importance of the more than $2.5 billion in assistance that the u.s. has provided since 2014 including $300 million in the latest national defense authorization act. given the urgency of the situation, the biden administration must consider additional emergency assistance at this critical time and security assistance must also be backed by strong sanctions to deter any further russian advances. unfortunately, president biden has already given russia a pass on one of vladimir putin's top priorities -- the nord stream 2 pipeline. i've spoken before about the
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european security risk and economic hardship that will be caused by nord stream 2. if protected has not passed mandatory sanctions that are required by law. per an agreement made prior to the christmas break, the senate will soon have a vote on these sanctions and the message to russia and president putin must be clear -- don't interfere with the aspirations of ukraine. and let ukraine determine its future by the will of its people. this is not a case of the u.s. and nato looking to push east. this is a former soviet state seeking to cast off russia's grip, assert its sovereignty, and of its own accord align itself with the ideals of freedom and brace peace and prosperity and a free and independent nation. the u.s. should stand with ukraine and against russia's aggression. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. lieu: i ask unanimous consent -- mr. mr. lujan: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lujan: i ask unanimous consent that the senate recess until 2:15 p.m. to allow for the weekly caucus meetings. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate stands in recess until 2:15.
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