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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  June 2, 2020 4:09pm-6:23pm EDT

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the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. ms. duckworth: as if in legislative session, i ask unanimous consent that the senate judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration of senate bill 1938 and the senate proceed to its further consideration. further, that the bill be read a third time and passed and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. graham: yes. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. graham: senator duckworth, i
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think we can probably get there if we talk. we got this thing at 5:30 last night. it's a grant program to try to drive better policing, less bias. i get that. count me in for that concept. there is a civilian review process about prosecutorial decisions. i don't quite understand it. senator lee came up and asked me questions about the bill. with no animosity, i object at this time. i hope we can get it part of a broader agenda, but on june 16, we're going to have a hearing about all things related to police and race, and we'll try to make this part of a package. so at this time i do object and let it go through the committee. the presiding officer: the objection is heard. ms. duckworth: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. ms. duckworth: first he said i can't breathe. then he called out mama for his late mother. last monday, in broad daylight, george floyd was slowly,
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publicly killed by someone whose responsibility was to protect and serve. officer derrick chauvin who has since been rightfully fired spent about three minutes ignoring floyd's cries of pain. refusing to move his knee from floyd's neck, refusing to let up, to get up, even as the man under him begged for life and lost consciousness. then he spent roughly another six minutes after floyd had fallen silent, ignoring the growing number of witnesses who begged him to see the obvious, that the man under his knee was unresponsive, that he was dying. as a mom, there are not words to describe the visceral, gut-wrenching feeling of hearing someone cry out for their mother in a moment of such desperation. george floyd's death was unnecessary and heart breaking. it was a tragedy but horrifyingly it was not an anomaly. from eric garner who told us six
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years ago that he, too, could not breathe to tamir rice who never made it to his 13th birthday, the senseless killing of unarmed black americans at the hands of law enforcement has become an all-too-common occurrence. the horror of the moment, then the outrage and sadness and, yes, anger that follow have turned into a pattern that too many people appear to believe is normal. it's not, and we cannot, must not let ourselves become numb to the reality in front of us. george floyd was someone's son who with his dying breath called out for his mother who had previously passed away. he had a six-year-old daughter who will not only grow up without a father but knowing that she too would face the same danger every day just because of the color of her skin. george floyd was born in a country built on the belief that we are all created equal, but he died in a country that still
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has not fully realized that we must all be treated equally as well. it is long, long past time for action. we needed it before george floyd. we needed it before breonna taylor, before laquan mcdonald and before countless others were killed too. and we need real leaders who listen to americans' cries for help and gives those fighting for justice a platform to be heard. but sadly, although unsurprisingly, donald trump has done just the opposite over the past few days. trampling first amendment rights by ordering federal law enforcement to assault those who stood in the way of his photo o', exploiting our military and disrespecting our troops by using them as a cudgel to silence neighbors and further divide our country. donald trump may be our commander in chief, but teargassing peaceful protesters is not leadership. it's cowardice.
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threatening military force against americans exertioning that i shall constitutional -- exercising their constitutional right is not presidential. it is dictatorial. in times like these it is more important to recognize the privilege that many of us have. i will never be forced to sit my daughters down and have the same talk with them that black mothers have with their children, especially their sons, about how exactly to move and speak when interacting with police officers, to preemptively reassure them that they pose no danger. or about the fundamental racism that mars our society that will question their motives and their right to be somewhere just because of the shade of their skin, or about the systematic biases that leave too many americans, including those in positions of power, to view unarmed black children as more threatening than white adults holding semiautomatic rifles. and i know that i'll never be able to fully comprehend the
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fear that those parents must face every time their child steps outside, every time they dare to walk to school or play on the playground or by some skittles while black. but what i do know is the burden of all this pain and trauma cand should not fall on those families alone. the responsibility, the work, the bending of the arc of the universe of bending towards justice cannot be put on the backs of the people feeling the weight this entire time. the injustices of this country are not going away by themselves and will not be solved if too many good decent americans remain silent. if we choose to avoid difficult realities and tough conversations simply because they make us uncomfortable we are failing to do our part in achieving anything close to a more perfect union. and those of us who benefited from the privileges we've been afforded by society, we have a
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duty to recognize the costs borne by those who have been denied those same privileges for generations. i don't claim to have all the answers, but i do know that we must do more. on a personal level, for me, that's included spending time with both of my daughters discussing what true justice and equality means and how to practice it. so that if they grow up to become police officers themselves, they don't reflectively treat black americans as more dangerous than anyone else, so that when they see a young black man shopping, their first thought would never be that he's shoplifting. so that no matter what they do in life, they judge people by the content of their characters and not the color of their skin. my girls may be just five and two, but it's never too early for us to talk to our kids about treating others how you want to be treated. because our neighbors, our american brothers and sisters need more vocal allies in this fight. i hope to raise two of those
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allies in my two girls, and today i hope to find 99 other fellow allies in my colleagues here in the senate. and it is on each of us lucky enough to serve under this great capitol dome to use this moment to fight for justice and accountability for those families like george floyd's who had someone so cruelly needlessly stolen from them. i've come to the floor today to request unanimous consent on senate bill 938 the police training and independent review act, the second bill i introduced into this body more than three years ago. it would demand local enforcement ages change local policies that every american receives fair treatment under the law, policies i believe law enforcement officers would welcome so they could better serve their communities. it would establish a new grants program so states could implement racial biased training
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to help officers deescalate situations. it would encourage states to establish a transparent system where independent prosecutors review police uses of force and prosecute officers who break the laws they were entrusted to enforce. because local prosecutors do have a bias. they rely on the same police departments to win other cases, which is why it's so critical that we let outside independent prosecutors do the investigating and prosecuting of our law enforcement officers who do not follow the law themselves instead. for me, it comes down to this, we cannot let ourselves accept that in the united states of america, in the year 2020 black men are still being publicly executed without judge or jury. for about nine minutes last monday somebody's son, somebody's father was forced to know he was dying, forced to beg for his life until he couldn't beg anymore.
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george floyd cannot breathe anymore, so it's on those of us lucky enough to still be here today, to still be breathing to use our own every breath we have to fight for the justice that he was robbed of on that street in minneapolis last week. i know i will, and i hope every other american will join me. thank you. i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i ask consent to finish my remarks before the vote. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i come to the floor today to honor a life lost, share in the grief of a family and a nation in pain, and call for this body to
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take action to reform a system that's been broken for too long. george floyd should be alive today, but he isn't. he was murdered by police in my state, a death both horrifying and inhumane but not unique. we literally saw his life evaporate before our eyes. the whole country saw it. the whole world saw it. we know that our community in minneapolis and across america, our african american community has seen this horror before and has experienced injustice for far too long. they have had enough. they are angry and in pain, and they are calling out for justice. and i see the leader is here, and i will --. mr. schumer: i'm waiting for leader mcconnell, so go right
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ahead. i want to hear your remarks. ms. klobuchar: they have had enough. they are angry and in pain, and they are calling out for justice. senators, we cannot answer with silence. that would make us complicit. we cannot answer with what the president called dominance. that would make us monsters. we cannot answer with using churches as props and bibles as props and inflaming violence. we must answer with action. that's what makes us lawmakers. for 13 years here in washington, change has come inch by inch when we should be miles ahead. i picked that time because that's when i first got here. that's when we first started doing work on crack cocaine and the s. ring dispar -- on crack cocaine and the sensing disparity and i've seen those changes but it has been inch by
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inch. firgs -- first there needs to be justice for george floyd. there needs to be criminal accountability to the fullest stengt of the -- stengt of the law. minnesota attorney general keith ellison has taken over the investigation and prosecution of the case and i have full faith in his conviction for justice in this case and beyond. sweeping reform starts with accountability in this individual case, but it doesn't end there. we all know that these officers work within a bigger system, so that is why i've called for a full-scale investigation into the patterns and practices of racially discriminatory policing in the minneapolis police by the department of justice. in addition to ongoing local, state, and federal investigations. senator smith and i led a request with 26 senators asking the justice department to conduct what is called the pattern and practice
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investigation. this afternoon the minnesota department of human rights announced that they are going to investigate the police department as well. the words engraved on the supreme court building, equal justice under law, we know have never really been true for millions of african americans, hispanics, american indians, and other minority groups. there is systematic racism at every level of our judicial system, and that calls for systematic change. we must take action to end unconstitutional discriminatory policing across the country. we can start by making sure that policemen's conduct is independently investigating and we hold officers criminally accountable when they break the law and violate the trust that is needed between law enforcement officers and the people they have sworn to
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protect. we also need strong federal requirements for state and local police to collect and report data on the use of force. right now a patchwork of local policies, many of which allow local police to avoid accountability, make it far too difficult to identify and address patterns of discrimination and excessive force in police departments. better data will help hold officers and departments accountable. broader criminal justice reform, the standard for use of force, all of those things must change. as i mentioned, we have done something, we have passed the first step act when it comes to sentencing, but now we need to take on the second step act to create incentives for states to restore discretion for mandatory sentencing for nonviolent offenders and reform conditions in state prisons and local jails.
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and we know these conditions have gotten even worse during the coronavirus pandemic. earlier today we held a hearing in the judiciary committee about the continued injustice we are seeing in our prison system during this pandemic. while some people like paul man for man --afort have been taken to home confinement, others like an dree i -- andrea high bear serving 26 months for a non violent offense and given birth on a ventilator. why? she was exposed to the virus. the question is why did someone, a woman with a preexisting condition, an american indian woman there on a nonviolent offense, why was she there in the prison system and paul manafort gets out. we should defense a clemency
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advisory board that would look at these issues from a different perspective. we should strengthen post conviction reviews with conviction be integrity units across the country. according to data from the national registry of exonerations, there are currently fewer than 60 conviction integrity units in the united states, and many of these are too weak to be effective. attorney general ellison and i have been working with prosecutors in minnesota to set up a conviction inl -- integrity unit in the twin cities with strong, strong standards for independence and transparency. this needs to happen nationally. and we should also expand post conviction sentencing reviews, ensuring justice isn't just looking back at a case to see if the evidence is right. it's also looking to see if the sentence is right in a situation. all of this, expanding our
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nation's drug court, something that i've been leading on in the senate for years, changing that conversation about drug and alcohol treatment, reforming the cash bail system. if there is anything that we as a u.s. senate can do to eliminate injustice within our justice system, we should do it and do it now. talk is no longer enough. we know that this pandemic has shed a light on the injustice that we have already seen. as senator durbin, who is here, and i have discussed about the pris system today. we -- prison system today. we see it in the number of people dying. in louisiana african americans account for 60% of the deaths, 30% of the population. in georgia a study of eight hospitals found that 80% of their covid-19 patients were african americans yet 30% of the population. the workers on the front line,
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the people that are working not just in the hospitals, not just in the emergency rooms, but in the grocery stores, driving the public transportation. they are getting this virus, this sometimes fatal virus, at a much higher rate. this calls for not only the reforms that i laid out and that i've been advocating for years, but it also calls for investment like jim clyburn's plan to invest in underserved areas, impoverished areas that have been that way for a long, long time. senator booker is carrying that bill in the u.s. senate. martin luther king once said we are all tied in a single garment of destiny. whatever affects us directly affects all of us indirectly. and that means in the long term, an economy that works for everyone, with fair wages, with child care, with retirement savings, closing the gap, blacks
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and latinos have a tenth of the median income right now of the white households. it means voting rights, the scene we saw in wisconsin where people were standing in the rain with homemade masks in the rain risking their lives and their health while the president of the united states was able to vote in the luxury of 1800 pennsylvania avenue. that's a split descreen for you. that's -- screen for you. that's why people are out peacefully marching. that's what they are angry about. it is police misconduct. it is the murder of george floyd. it is the long-time economic disparities, but it is also the long-time suppression of the vote and the unfairness of all of this. this has been a devastating time for minnesota. but as george floyd's family who i had the honor to talk with at
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length this weekend said, we cannot sink to the level of our oppressors and we must not endanger others during this pandemic. we will demand and ultimately force lasting change by signing a light on this and by winning justice. that's what they are talking about in minnesota today. that was the spirit i saw when my husband and i went to drop off food where hundreds of people were there and thousands of bags of groceries because their grocery store in that neighborhood had been burned to the core because their stores had been looted, not by the peaceful, righteous marchers, but the people that were hiding behind them. i will end with this. a few years ago i went to selma, alabama, with representative john lewis, like so many senators have done. i stood there on the bridge where he had his head beaten in. i was in awe of his persistence, his resilience, and his faith that this country could be better if only we put in the
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work. that weekend, after 48 years, the white police chief of montgomery handed his police badge to congressman lewis and publicly apologized on behalf of the police for not protecting him 48 years before and not protecting his freedom marchers. i don't want to take 48 years for my city and my state to heal or for our nation to fix a justice system that's been broken since it was built. i want justice now. the people of this country deserve justice now. everyone has a role to play in coming back from these crises. the protesters are shinning a light on injustice that we pushed into the shadows for too long. the front line workers and volunteers are serving the communities they love and they are looking to all of us to deliver the reforms we promised, not just in speeches, not just in campaigns, but in reality.
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not just for george floyd and his legacy should be so much more than those nine minutes or forecast steele or clark or taylor because we took an oath. we took an oath, colleagues. we didn't wave a bible in the air for a photo-op. we plaguesed our and -- placed our hand on that bible and swore to defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies foreign and domestic. the enemy we face now is racism. the enemy we face now is injustice. i don't know what else to say because too many words have been said and maybe it's time to stop talking. maybe it is time to start acting. it is time to get to work. it is time to do our jobs. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the minority leader is recognized. mr. schumer: thank you. first let me thank my friend and colleague, the senior senator from minnesota for her eloquent, passionate words that tell the story that show she has done so many good. we all appreciate it, minnesotans and americans. thank you. now, mr. president, last night, as peaceful citizens exercised their right to protest in lafeyette park, federal law enforcement officers were ordered to clear out the crowds with tear gas and rubber bullets so that president trump could walk from the white house to a nearby church for a photo-op. he did not enter the church. he did not offer words of prayer. the crowds were dispersed with force so that he could get his picture taken with a bible that
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wasn't his held upside down in front of a church he never asked to visit. i spoke at length about these ee vebts this morning -- events this morning. the aggressive use of force on law abiding protesters was appalling. it was an abuse of presidential power. it may have been illegal. and it was certainly a violation of the constitutional rights of american citizens, the protesters, some of them children, many of them families, there in a public park to peacefully protest were met with rubber bullets and tear gas. this has no place in american society or any democracy worthy of the name. the president must cease his behavior. the images from last night should disturb all of us and must be condemned by the united states senate. they cannot go unanswered -- the
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images from last night should disturb all of us and must be condemned by the united states senate. they cannot go unanswered lest the president be encouraged to take even -- do even greater abuse because he has no self-restraint. so in a few minutes i will ask the senate's consent to pass a simple resolution that says three things. first, that the constitutional rights of americans must be respected. second, that violence and looting are unlawful and unacceptable. and, third, that congress condemns the order to have federal officers use gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters. this is not a substitute for racial justice reforms that are badly needed. but this unconstitutional action by this lawless president
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requires a response from this body. i hope all senators will support this resolution. democrats are outraged, republicans should be outraged as well. for my friends on the other side who claim they have not seen the events of last night, i suggest you find a moment and turn on the television. our republican colleagues cannot be objecting to our resolution on the false grounds that it doesn't reject violence. it does. let me read you the words again. in the resolution violence and looting are unlawful, unacceptable and contrary to the purpose of peaceful protest. so it's right there in the resolution. and so what other reason would any republican senator object to the things in this resolution? if a senator obts, they -- object under secretar -- objects they should be asked if they
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believe americans do not have the constitutional right to exercise the freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly, the right to petition their government? do they believe americans do not have the right to peacefully protest? do they disagree with the statement that violence and looting are unlawful and unacceptable or do they support the president's use of tear gas against people, including families, who are peacefully protesting in a public park? which is it? any objector should explain why the simple resolution i offer today is so unacceptable to them. and so, mr. president, as if in legislative session, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of a concurrent resolution expressing the sense of the congress that the constitutional rights of americans must be respected, that violence and looting are unlawful and unacceptable, and
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that congress condemns the president for ordering federal officers to use gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters in la lafayette squa, that the preamble be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is it there objection? mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: reserving the right to object. first and foremost, i'm a first-amendment absolutist. the right to peaceful protest is absolutely sacrosanct. it is a core american liberty. and when peaceful demonstrations occur within the bounds of the law and with the respect for the need for law enforcement, we have a need to respect and honor them. our nation must not turn a deaf
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ear to the anger, pain, or frustration to black americans. our nation needs to hear them. there's no question that the killing of george floyd was horrific. in my view it absolutely appears to have been a henus act of criminal violence. it is unacceptable that mr. floyd is dead. there is no doubt that divisional racism continues to be a stain on our country. we need to do more to address it. over the last few days we've seen peaceful protests hijacked on a nightly basis into a rolling series of riots that engulfed great american cities in wanton destruction and violent crime. these are the two issues the american people are focused on, justice for black americans in the face of unjust violence and peace for our country in the face of looting, riots, and
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domestic terror. those are the two issues americans want addressed, racial justice and ending riots. unfortunately, this resolution from my friend the democratic leader, does not address either one of them. instead, it just indulges in the my my optic on session of president trump. it pays more attention to the precise ways that federal law enforcement affects presidential movement around the white house, instead of cities that have been consumed biryouting, looting, and violence against police for several nights in a row with no end in sight. outside of the washington, d.c., bubble, there's no universe where americans think democrats obsession with condemning president trump is more urgent priority than ending the riots or advancing racial justice. there is no universe in which
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the dynamics of lafayette park, before the president seeks to exit the white house, is a more urgent priority than the shattered glass, destroyed businesses and brutal attacks on law enforcement that are happening nationwide in places like lafayette street in new york city. so i will object to my distinguished colleague's resolution and will offer something more full throated in its place. my resolution would condemn a long pattern of unjust police violence to black americans, it would champion the first amendment and praise the peaceful protest that followed mr. floyd's death and clearly condemn the violent rioting that paralyzed places like new york city and insist local authorities get serious about protecting the innocent. so i hope my distinguished colleague will not object. america is united and outraged at the death of mr. floyd and i hope we can unite to condemn
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these senseless riots and move forward together as one nation. therefore, mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. mcconnell: as if in legislative session, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 601 submitted earlier today i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. schumer: reserving the right to object. it's very simple. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: it's very simple why the republican leader objected to our resolution and offered this one instead. it's because they do not want to condemn what the president did though every fair minded american of any political party would. we certainly should condemn violence. let me repeat. this resolution condemns violence.
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but it is insufficient in the light of what happened yesterday to just condemn violence and not condemn what the president did as well. so i will object to my colleague's resolution. the presiding officer: the objection is heard. under the previous order, all postcloture time has expired. the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber who wish to vote or change their vote? seeing none, the ayes are 51,
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the nays are 40. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's actions. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: senate majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding the provisions of rule 22, the are cloture motions with respect to the anderson and tipton nominations ripen at 12:00 noon tomorrow. i further ask that if cloture is invoked on the anderson nomination the postcloture time expire at 2015 -- 2:15. on the tipton nomination the cloture time expire at 4:30 p.m. if either are confirmed the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to legislative session for a period
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of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. wednesday, june 3. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour deemed expired be expired, the time for the two leaders be reserved for use later in the day and morning business be closed. further, following leader remarks, the senate proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the anderson nomination under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of senators booker and van hollen. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. booker: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. booker: thank you, mr. president. i rise today with difficulty, and i admit i am like so many
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other americans hurting right now and frustrated right now and feeling a torrent of emotions that i wish i could say was the first time i felt like this. and i want to begin my remarks in a different way because the names that we are hearing shouted on streets george floyd, ahmaud arbery, breonna taylor, they have like so many other names of people we did not know as a nation. they were not household names. their names now are mixed into names that we have heard throughout my entire lifetime. but the names and the way we say them mixed with horror and sadness and tragedy, it does not speak to their beauty, their humanity, their fullness, the texturedness of their lives. i just want to say that ahmaud
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arbery was a man. he was 25 years old when he was murdered. he went out jogging. he was hunted by two white men who walked free for weeks after killing him. this man, this child of god, his loved ones talked to his humanity. they said he was a loving son, a brother, and uncle, a nephew, a cousin and a friend. he was humble. he was kind. he was well mannered. he always made sure that he never departed his loved ones without saying the words, without saying, i love you. breonna taylor, before we knew her name, extraordinary american, extraordinary servant. she was a first responder in a
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pandemic, like so many of our first responders, she showed a courage, humble heroism. she was 26 years old when she was shot and killed by police, asleep in her home. an emergency medical technician in louisville. her loved ones too shared the truth of her spirit. they said breonna taylor was full of life. she loved social gatherings with her friends and especially her family. she loved life and all it had to offer. she continued to find ways to better herself and all of the people around her. and george floyd, he was a man that was raised in texas. he was a houston man. to his friends and loved ones he was known as floyd. in high school, i know this, he was an athlete playing both basketball and football. he played the position i played.
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he was a tight end. he went on to play basketball at south florida state college, the pathway i know to college, ball. his girlfriend called him an angel that was sent to us on earth. his family remembered him as being family oriented, loving, and godly. floyd was a loving father. he was a devoted brother, he was a partner, and he was friend, and he is dead. at 46 years old. on may 25, 2020, when he was restrained, pinned by his neck and killed by law enforcement officers. the killings of george floyd, of breonna taylor, of ahmaud arbery are singular in their
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pain, are singular in their particular details in the anguish and the horror, but this is a terror that is familiar. it is a fear that is baked now, cemented into our culture for so many americans, especially black americans. this is not just been a tough week, a tough few weeks. it's not just been emotional time because of what we're seeing, the protest all around the country. this has been a tough life. this is the story of day after day after day that punctuates our conscientiousness only when somebody captures on videotape what is the regular part of the fabric of our country. we have a long and retch et and
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disturbing history of black people being murdered by law enforcement. our systems of accountability, our systems of transparency, our ability to end this has proved impotent and feeble. these killings, for so many black americans today, are searing reminders that black people in this country, as i've heard from dozens of people in my life, as i hear from people on our media, that this could have been me. that this even would have been me in the same circumstances. to hear people at all stations of life, african americans
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saying, i'm alive but questioning for how long, slipping into savage reality of despair for your life and your safety to be black in america is to know that a misunderstanding that an implicit racial bias, that an interaction that should be every day and routine could become a moment where your life is turned upside down, where your body becomes broken or when you are killed. there's a common experience but this has been a stretch where from bird watching in a park to jogging in your neighborhood to going to a corner store, the jarring reminder reinforced by
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personal experiences that it could be you. i was born to two civil rights act visit parents and i was a big kid. i was over six feet by the time i was in seventh or eighth grade and it was a time in my life that was a coming of age in -- for so many people and so many cultures in our nation, but something began to happen, it was marked by the fear of elders, family members who with jarring personal stories for a preteen or teen tell me what it meant to be black, to be male in america. they were instilling fear in me as a survival mechanism. they were trying to make me aware of my surroundings. i have difficult memories of
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trips to the malls with elder black men in my family and being lectured about what i couldn't do, what i shouldn't do and what the consequences could be. i remember that talk with my parents where i tried to joke about it but they got chillingly angry with me about what it meant to have a driver's license in america and what could happen to me and they told me stories of families, friends, and others and their experiences with police. i spent from those years of 12 and 13 in an america in the 1970's and 1980's where the words of my parents and elders backed up with tragic and terrible stories of their experiences and generations before were reinforced by my own experiences. being followed by mall security guards, being accused of stopped, being looked at with
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suspicion and experience after experience after experience with police. i remember as a college student and it all came to a head where i wrote a column in stanford's newspaper, why have i lost control? i remember that night writing that column like it was yesterday. i was so overcome with emotion and rage and i would like to submit for the record that column and read, right now, pieces of what i wrote that night that when i look at young men on the streets of america today and i see their anger and i see their rage, it brings me back, not to that moment, but to their own feelings which churned in me for years. i read from the column, why have
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i lost control snl how can i write -- control? how can i write when i lost control of my emotions? not guilty. not guilty. not guilty. not shocked. why not? turn off your engine. put your keys driver's license, registration and insurance on the hood now. put your hands on the steering wheel and don't even think about moving. five police cars, six officers surrounded me. i sat shaking only interrupted by their command. i said don't move. finally everything checks out, you can go. sheepishly i asked why. oh, you fit the description of a car thief. not guilty, not shocked. why not? in the jewelry store they locked the case when i walked in this the shopping mall they followed me, in the stanford shopping mall.
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last month i turned and faced their security, catch any thieves today? not guilty, not shocked. why not? i'm a black man. i'm 6 got 3 and 2 -- 63 and 230 pounds. do i scare you? does your fear justify your actions? 12 people in a jury believed it did, black male guilty until proven innocent. reactions to my kind are justified, scrutiny is justified, surveillance is justified, search is justified. 56 blows justified. justice, dear god. i graduated from stanford last june. i was elated. i was one of four presidents of my class.
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i was proud. in the fall i received a rode scholarship. i approached arrogance. when i walked the streets of palo alto, when the police passed me and slowed down, i realized to him and so many others i am and will always be, and i substitute now, i am and will always be the n word, guilty until proven innocent. i'm struggling to be positive, low qishus, positive, constructive, but for the first time i have lost control of my emotions, animosity, sadness, emotions once suppressed and channeled are now let loose. why? not guilty. not shocked. poverty, ail alienation, can you leave your neighborhood? without being stopped?
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can you get a loan from your bank? can you be trusted at your store. can you get an ambulance dispatched to your neighborhood? can you get the police to come to your house? can you get an education at your school. can you get a drive. stay alive past 25? can you get respect? can you be heard? no. not until someone catches on video one small glimpse of your every day reality, and even then, can you get justice? why have i lost control of my emotions? why do my hands shake as i write? tonight i have no answers. dear god, help us to help ourselves before we become our own undoing. that was three decades ago. that was me as an early 20
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something, writing about another one of those names that's become household. we remember it decades later. and i wish i could stand here and tell you that much has changed for the experience of that young black man. i wish i could tell thank you that that was the end of names becoming household words, but it has not. this cycle of violence in our country, these spasms that jerk us from our comfort and pull us into the world that is faced by so many african americans, and then we go back. so many of us go back to what is now normal in america, what has been normal in america.
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this cycle -- i hear people now talking about the violence, the rioters. i condemn it in the same way that the other 99 members are. it is awful. it is despicable, it is contrary to the aims of this nation and the movements of our past. but to condemn the violence of those out there doing such awful, destructive, condemnation-worthy actions, but to only condemn them and not to condemn the fullness of that cycle of violence because there is violence going on even when we don't see it in the streets, peace, even is not just the absence of violence, it's the presence of justice.
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this unjust cycle in our country that we seem to be stuck in that makes the names of children like tamir rice household names, it is connected with a violence that is pervasive in our nation that demands all of us to speak out against with the same feferror an enthusiasm that people who are condemning the violence we see in america. to fail to do that leaves us in a state of imbalance, to fail to condemn the totality of violence in our country leaves us far from the beloved community that we need to somehow find a way out of that cycle. there is violence in our nation
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and our environment that we still are a nation where a person's race is the single biggest factor of whether they live near a toxic site or not. ask a mother of a child who drank lead water for months and months and has had their brain permanently damaged if that was not violence. if violence had access to quality care, to not have access to quality care, ask the woman who's lost her child because of lack of prenatal care. ask the black woman in america who today is four times more likely to die herself in childbirth if this isn't a violence in our society that needs condemnation. it's violence we see from our health care system to our criminal justice system to environmental injustice to the
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denial as one author says of equality in the savage inequalities within our education systems. it's why so many black americans scream out, do you see me? i do not have your equal justice under law. do you see me? i do not have justice for all. do you see me? i matter. i matter. black lives matter. black bodies matter. america, i love you. do you see me? do you know my experiences? do you see the failings of our ideals? the murder of a black man by multiple cops who knew they were being filmed in broad daylight is not the extent of the problem of racism in america, it is a
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final and deadly manifestation of that racism. of a nation where everything about us is interwoven, it is interconnected, we are in relationship with each other. this ideal that we are one nation, it is not a quaint ideal. it is an inescapable fact of american society. the pain and the hurt of our brothers and sisters is our pain. i can show you that economical economically. i could show you that by every ideology that's expressed here on the floor of the senate. the cycle of violence has to stop. the cycle of retchedness and hurt.
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our ancestors scream out at us now. millions of americans scream out right now. and i know we have an obligation in this body to do something. i've heard words from people from both sides of the aisle speaking to the injustice of racism that exists in our country. i've heard words. but for generations what they sought from this body greater men and women than any of us, what they sought on the streets, what they sought at the white house, alice paul, the first to protest out there was legislative changes, that's what they sought. the march on washington. disability activists throwing themselves in front of buses. they fought for tangible legislation. martin luther king said while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be
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regulated. it may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. it may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me. it's on us. the cries for justice in the street, it's on us. the pain being manifest for all-america to see, it's on us. those who have been comfortable for too long who are now pulled if their seats as they stair at a television that shows them a window into a nation that is not at rest. it's on us in this body to do something, to change the law. we can do that. in the coming days.
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senator kamala harris and i have partnered together on a comprehensive police reform proposal that takes into account the incredible work of congressional black caucus members, many of them who have been in this congressional body much longer than i have. they've been working on these issues much longer than i have. it takes the work of so many people in both of the bodies that make up our congress and pulls them together. there are so many injustices but this comprehensive package is about police accountability. it's an answer to the pain and to the hurt and the agony. speaks to the young children whose parents right now are teaching them fear as an art of survival, teaching them not to be a threat to anyone who could
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kill you, to try to shrink from the fullness of your body so that they don't take your body, don't harm your body, they don't kill your body. it creates accountability and transparency and practices that can repair police community relations. it can give faith back to those who have lost it. it can rescue people who are slipping into a deeper despair about this nation. and perhaps cobble together some semblance of hope. this is a moment in american history where we must recognize the hurt and the pain and do something about it where this body that has so nobly acted in past years to pass legislation. the 1964 civil rights act, the
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1965 voting rights act, and the spasms of 1968, the fair housing laws were passed. i said i come to you today torn up inside as so many americans, the soil of our souls have been plowed up in pain hoping for seeds of possibility, hoping that somehow out of agony and despair can sprout a new harvest for america. but i confess to you as a man who believes in this country and believes in the ideals of hope
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and love and faith and charity and kindness, i want to confess to you something that right now hope is essential but it's not enough. i confess to you right now words of kindness and grace are essential to america but they're not enough right now. i confess to you even something that's hard to admit that the spirit of courage and grit being shown by people on the streets not in the comfortable hallways of the senate who in one of the most noble traditions of our nation are protesting or petitioning our government, are peacefully gathering i want to tell you right now that that is not enough.
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it is essential but it is not enough. these thinks are necessary but not sufficient. -- these things are necessary but not sufficient. so how, how do we go forward? in washington people talk about being so savagely broken. how at a time that i worry about king's ideal of a beloved community, how? how do we create that out of this moment? i do not know. but i want to tell you this. when i find myself disturbed and sad, when i find my heart that -- has invisible hope for our
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nation, i turn to our history but i don't need to turn too far. i know there are heroes whose names are hailed from generations past. i don't know how harry tubman, ella baker, fannie lou hamer, i don't know how they mustered their strength and courage. they were marvelous magicians that could turn the most wretched of times into progress. so at a time that our nation -- strike that -- a time that i need hope, i tell you i turn to the spiritual al came mists of our -- alchemists of our day.
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ive amet them. i've been to a church in south carolina where a white sup prem mist -- supremacist stormed in and murdered nine blessed souls. i watched on a tv screens about the spiritual alchemist who somehow turned the most unimaginable grief into forgiveness, a lesson for our nation. i visited a church just a few months ago in tulsa, oklahoma. it was the last structure that was left standing out of one of the greatest acts of democracy terrorism we've ever seen, the torch, the bombing of black wall street. and i met a pastor there, pastor turner, a great spiritual alchemist who somehow turned the only remaining structure after horrific violence he somehow turned it into a symbol of struggle.
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i talked to the mothers of the movement. these are these great black women whose sons were murdered, names we now know. i learned from them, unbelievable demonstration of spiritual alchemy that somehow they turned their tragedies into a grit and a guts and a determination to never stop fighting as long as they have breath in their body and blood in their veins, they will fight for this nation even when it so savagely let them down. i get strength from those in our nation today. who demonstrated alchemy greater than any power i can possess.
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that somehow in our darkest of times we are still a nation that can find a way to ignite the world, a nation where so many people have been so thiewrly failed -- thoroughly failed. they can still manifest the ability to fight for the ideals that have been denied for them, they are the ones right now whose spirit we all must try to summon, will come up short but we must try to summon it. it is the only way forward. that somehow this nation that shares one spirit can find a way to put enough indivisible into this one nation under god that somehow this great country can find a way in this time of our generation's great crisis, that we like those before us, those magicians, those alchmmist --
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alchemists of love and spirit and sweat and struggle, that out of this crisis time, we can make this nation be one of -- truly one of liberty and justice for all. madam president, i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. van hollen: thank you, madam president. let me start by saying to our
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colleague, the senator from new jersey who just spoke on the floor that we are all thankful for his passion to make sure that this country lives up to its promise and for sharing with this body his personal testimony about the sting of racism and the need for all of us to move urgently to address the fundamental inequities at the heart of our society and institutions. and, madam president, i don't think it's an overstatement to say that we are at a pivotal point in our country. it's a moment of reckoning. historians will carefully examine this moment to see how our country responded, to see which path we took, how the senate responded, how each
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senator responded. the immediate spark for this moment was the brutal murder of george floyd by agents of government. in -- a minneapolis police officer aided and abetted by three other officers. we all witnessed the horror of george floyd gasp i can't breathe as a white officer kept his knee on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. and three other officers participated in the crime. all four need to be brought to justice. but the murder of george floyd was not an isolated event in the united states of america. it is not the first time a black man has called out i can't breathe as he was choked or lynched. we can draw a straight line that
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runs from slavery to jim crow to legal segregation to de facto segregation to institutional racism to the killings of michael brown, tamir rice, eric garner, freddie gray, breonna taylor, and george floyd, as well as the vigilante killings of trayvon martin and ahmaud arbery and others. the white police officer who looked at the video as he kept his knee on the neck of george floyd thought he would get away with his actions because he and so many others had not been held accountable before. he thought he could get away with it based on his experience.
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we must change that. senator booker said we can have our moments of silence, we can have vigils, but that is not enough. it is not nearly enough. this is a moment that demands real action, real change, and real results, starting with changes in police practices and the systemic racism and institutions that shield those who engage in misconduct from accountability. those changes must include establishing truly independent oversight mechanisms to ensure that those police officers who betray the public trust are held accountable. we must ban outright the use of choke holds unless the officer's life is in imminent danger, and we must use federal leverage to
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incentivize deescalatory practices over escalatory ones. we need national standards backed up by real consequences for those who do not comply. and we must establish a federal database that tracks reports of police misconduct not simply unjustified killings by police, but all forms of misconduct. these and other changes are required to ensure the protection of citizens, communities, and the overwhelming number of police officers who are meeting their sworn oaths to protect our communities. bad cops are bad for good cops, and we need to make sure we have a system in place to punish misconduct and reward those who are upholding their sworn duty. mr. president, while the murder of george floyd and others has
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shown the need for systemic change in police accountability, it also cries out for systemic change to address racism embedded in other institutions. the need for additional change does not mean we have not made progress in our country on key issues of civil rights and political rights, but it does mean we have a very long unfinished road ahead to achieve the promise of equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunity in america. the murder of george floyd comes in the middle of a pandemic that has inflicted disproportionate harm on communities of color, especially the black community, because of deep underlying disparities in our society that have been well documented. it comes amid a pandemic that has shown a harsh light on deep inequality in our education systems, including the digital divide and the homework gap, but so much more. the reality, madam president, is we must put all of our systems
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under the microscope and very intentionally root out racial bias and discriminatory impact. in the city of baltimore, in my state of maryland, we have a terrible legacy of housing segregation. baltimore city had an explicit committee on segregation which was followed by harsh and restricted covenants and redlining that blocked our black community from economic mobility. that may seem like a long time ago, but the harmful impact of those laws is lasting, and you can still trace those red lines separating our neighborhoods today. so let us be very clear here that these disparities can be directly traced to policies that were designed, designed to
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discriminate. for decades federal, state, and local policies covering issues from housing to banking amounted to nothing less than state-sponsored efforts to deny african americans the basic equal rights they are owed under our constitution. and while many, many of these policies are off the books today, their legacy endures and practices endure, and it is our obligation at every level of government to uproot and to destroy those embedded policies with the same kind of deliberation that they were put in place in the first place. now, madam president, the protests taking place in minneapolis and all across the country are an expression of the deep pain caused by the continued death toll and other harms caused by our failure as a nation to address the underlying
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inequities in our society and in our institutions. that is why people have taken to the streets to protest. it was dr. king who said, and i quote, there can be no justice without peace and there can be no peace without justice. real justice and real peace is long overdue. now, madam president, last night, in response to those protests, we witnessed something i never thought we would see in the united states of america. we had the president of the united states call up and order military police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters to clear a path for him to conduct a photo op in front of st. john's episcopal church, a historic church close by to the white house. here is what marian edgar
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buttle, the bishop of the episcopal archdiocese of washington had to say about what the president did. she made a statement that outlined the president's abuse of their church for his political purposes. and then the church itself issued the following statement, and i should point out, madam president, that the pastor of the church and many of the parishioners were at the protest and providing water and
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nutrition to some of the protesters. here's what the leaders of the church said. we at st. john's church were shocked at the surprise visit from the president this evening, and even more appalled at the violent clearing of lafayette square to make the visit possible. st. john's is a community that welcomes all, from powerful presidents to the homeless to worship god. we fully espouse the words of our baptismal covenant which says in part that we will, quote, strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being, unquote. living that covenant, we stand with those peacefully protesting the tragic and unnecessary death of george floyd and the far too
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many who came before him. we pray that our nation finally confronts its history of racism, and as a result can fully embrace the peace of god that passes all understanding. madam president, those are really words that we should have heard from our president. instead they came from religious leaders responding to the president's use of their church for political purposes. and in the process, violating the first amendment rights of peaceful protesters, the rights of those protesters to peacefully assemble. as the president ordered up military police to clear a peaceful crowd.
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and we also listened in disbelief as mark esper, the secretary of defense, talked about turning public places into, quote, battle spaces to be dominated. this is the secretary of defense who is charged with defending our country, talking about turning rubber bullets and tear gas against peaceful protesters here in the united states. madam president, we witnessed general milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, in full military uniform presiding over the breakup of this peaceful demonstration. i remind secretary esper and chairman milley that their oath is to support and defend the constitution of the united states, and they are not permitted by that oath to follow
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illegal orders, even from the president of the united states. the president of the united states can give them what orders he chooses, but the constitution and their oath requires that their first loyalty be to the united states of america and not to any one individual. and so, madam president, i think it's important that we investigate this incident and the role that the secretary and the joint chiefs of staff played in following the president's illegal orders, illegal because they represented a gross violation of the first amendment rights of citizens of the united states to peacefully assemble. madam president, let me close with this. i said at the outset that this
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is a moment when our country has different paths to choose. this senate is very much part of deciding which path we will take. will we take the path, as senator booker said, as not only having moments of silence, but working together to pass true reform to address police accountability, to address other forms of systemic racism? will we be willing to stand up to the president of the united states when he violates the civil rights and first amendment rights of american citizens? that is really a test for this institution, whether we're willing to do our job and uphold our oath to the constitution of the united states. thank you, madam president.
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i do not suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until was created with passage of the cares act. later this week lawmakers are expected to consider legislation providing greater flexibility to small businesses who have received paycheck protection program loans. watch live coverage of the senate when they return here on "c-span2". on wednesday, former deputy attorney general, testifies before the senate judiciary committee on the fisa
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application process during the fbi initiation into possible ties between the truck campaign and the russia investigation. ms. taken over by an special counsel in 2017. watch live coverage of the hearing, beginning at 10:00 a.m. eastern, on c-span. on demand at or is live wherever you are on the free c-span radio app. with the federal government to work in dc, and throughout the country, contact information for members of congress, governors and federal agencies. order your copy online today. next, remarks on the death of tread george floyd, starting wi


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