tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN June 4, 2020 1:59pm-4:09pm EDT
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 53, the nays are 38. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered madeland upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. mr. paul: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator for kentucky. mr. paul: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. paul: mr. president, i rise to ask expedited passage of
h.r. 35, the emmett till antilynching act, as amended. i seek to amend this legislation not because i've -- i take it or i take lynching lightly but because i take it seriously. and this legislation does not. lynching is a tool of terror that claimed the lives of nearly 5,000 americans between p 1881 and 1968. but this bill would cheapen the meaning of lynching by defining it so broadly as to include a minor bruise or abrasion. our nation's history of racial terrorism demands more seriousness from us than that. dubois wrote in his auto biography about sam hose in injure 0 georgia that after the lynching the knuckles were viewed on display in a store? mitchell street in atlanta. his liver and heart were even presented to the governor of
georgia as a souvenir. sickening, grotesque, the images of lynching. in 1931 raymond gun was lynched in murrayville, missouri. the spectacle drew a crowd of almost 4,000 people, including, if you can believe it, women and their children. in the tragedy of lynching, the author writes that one woman even held her little girl up so high so she could better see the victim who was, quote, blazing on the roof. sickening and grotesque these images. in the summer of 1955, 14-year-old till was visiting family in mississippi when he went to a store and bought some candy. while in there he was accused of flirting with a white woman appeared nor that offense, he was kidnapped in the middle of the night and bludgeoned so badly that afterwards his body was unrecognizable. he could only be identified by the ring he was wearing.
after seeing her son's remains, his mother insisted on an open casket funeral so the whole world could see what the killers had done to her son. we must remember the murders of emmett till, raymond gun, sam hose and the thousands of others whose lives were destroyed by the barbarity of the lynch mob. but this bill will not do that. this bill would expand the meaning of lynching to include any bodily injury including a cut, an abrasion, or a bruise, physical pain, illness, or any other injury to the body, no matter how temporary. mr. president, words have meaning. it would be a disgrace for the congress of the united states to declare that a bruise is lynching, that an abrasion is lynching, that any injury to the body, no matter how temporary, is on par with the atrocities done to people like emit till,
raymond gun and sam hose, who were killed for no reason but because they were black. to do that, would demean their history and cheapen limping in our country. to be sure, the bill does not make lynching a new federal hate crime. murdering someone on account of their race or conspiring to do so is now illegal under federal law. it's already a federal crime, and it's already a hate crime. he's right. we have had federal hate crime statutes for over 50 years, and it has been a federal hate crime to murder someone because of their race for over a decade. additionally, murder is already a crime in 50 states. in fact, rather than consider a good-intentioned but symbolic bill, the senate could immediately consider addressing
qualified immunity and ending police militarization. we can and must do better. that is why no one in the senate has been more involved in criminal justice reform than i have. no one has introduced more criminal justice reform bills. in my time in the senate, i have authored or cosponsored at least 22 unique criminal justice reform bills. i am acutely aware of the injustices perpetrated year in and year out in our cities. but reform needs to be more than window dressing. that is why i'm on the floor today to offer expedited passage, pass it today, the emmett till antilynching bill as amended. lynching is a particularly vicious kind of murder and a federal law should treat it as such. for these reasons, the emmett till antilynching act should be adopted with my amendment which would apply the criminal penalties for lynching only and
not for other crimes. thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 35 which was received by the house. i ask unanimous consent that my amendment at the desk be agreed to, the bill as amended be considered read a third time and passed, and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator for california. ms. harris: the idea that we would not be taking the issue of lynching seriously is an insult, an insult to senator booker, to senator tim scott, and myself, and all of the senators past and present who have understood this is part of the great stain of america's history.
to suggest that anything short of pulverizing someone so much that the casket would otherwise be closed except for the heroism and courage of emmett till's mother. to suggest that lynching would only be a lynching if someone's heart was pulled out and produced and displayed to someone else is ridiculous. and on this day, the day of george floyd's funeral, on this day, a day that should be a day of national mourning, mr. president, in 2018, the senate unanimously passed bipartisan antilynching legislation which i proudly introduced with the only other black members of this body, senator cory booker and senator tim scott. it was a historic moment.
it marked the first time in the history of our country that federal antilynching legislation had been passed by the united states senate. it passed again by unanimous consent in 2019. senator paul is now trying to weaken a bill that was already passed. there is no reason for this. there's no reason for this. senator paul's amendment would place a greater burden on victims of lynching than is currently required under federal hate crimes laws. there is no reason for this. there is no reason other than cruel and deliberate obstruction on a day of mourning. on this very day, at this very hour, there is a memorial service to honor the life of george floyd who was murdered on
a sidewalk by a police officer with a knee on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. george floyd pled for his life, called for his late mother, and said he could not breathe. the pain experienced not only by that man, that human being and his family and his children, but the pain of the people of america witnessing what we have witnessed since the founding of this country, which is that black lives have not been taken seriously as being fully human and deserving of dignity, and it should not require a maiming or torture in order for us to recognize a lynching when we see it and recognize it by federal law and call it what it is, which is that it is a crime that
should be punishable with accountability and consequence. so it is remarkable and it is painful to be standing here right now especially when people of all races are marching in the streets of america outraged by the hate and the violence and the murder that has been fueled by racism during the span of this country's life. and america is raw right now. her wounds exposed, raw from the fact that in the history of our country, black people have been treated as less than human. i stood here with senator booker when we first proposed this lynching law, and we talked about the pain and the history of the pain of this issue in america. and the fact is that the country is raw because america has never
fully addressed the historic and systemic racism that has existed in our country. and our bill in its current form is an opportunity, it's an opportunity for this body to acknowledge the seriousness of this, to acknowledge that if someone places a noose over someone else's neck, why would you require that in addition their heart would be pulled out or their body pulverized to the point beyond recognition? our bill is an opportunity to right a wrong and an opportunity for a reckoning in federal law, and we cannot pretend that lynchings are a thing of the past. ahmaud arbery was a victim of a modern-day lynching. he was murdered on february 23, 2020, just three months ago. today we learned that someone
heard one of the men who killed mr. arbery used a racial slur after shooting him. he should be alive today, and his killers should be brought to justice. no longer should the crime of lynching go unpunished. no longer should victims and their families go without justice. and in closing, idab. wells once said, quote, our country's national crime is lynching. it is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mind. it represents the cool, calculated deliberations of intelligent people who openly avow that there is an unwritten law that justifies them in putting pupil beings to death
without complaint under oath, without trial by jury, without opportunity to make a dissent and without right of appeal. our country has waited too long for a reckoning on this issue of lynching, and i believe no senator should stop the full weight of the law in its capacity to protect these human beings and human life. senator booker and i are working on a comprehensive bill to address this tragedy at the heart of the national day of mourning, and i object to senator paul's efforts to weaken our legislation. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: is there objection to senator paul's request? mr. booker: reserving the right to object, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator for new jersey. mr. booker: thank you very much, sir. i want to thank senator harris for her words, and i want to thank her as the lead senator on this bill. i want to thank her for her
partnership and leadership. i also want to thank senator tim scott from south carolina who has shown extraordinary commitment to this legislation as well. i want to thank -- on the house side, i want to thank bobby rush, a former black panther. i want to thank him for his leadership and generational commitment to racial justice in america. i also want to recognize the tireless advocacy of erica good afternoon taylor who is an actual relative of emmett till and the founder of mamie till mobley's foundation. she was here the last time this bill was before this body. she's dead now. and i know she is looking down
and hoping that we don't disappoint her. mr. president, in february of 2019, this body did something historic. and i don't mean to be emotional. i'm raw this week. but i -- i stood here with kamala and we wept. we talked about the hundreds of years -- over a century, excuse me, of effort to pass legislation brought up and defeated time and time again in this body by avowed segregation ists and how proud i was that in a time when partisanship is high in this country, we gathered together in one voice. 100 senators to pass this exact same bill because there are good people in this body on both sides, and we were correcting a
wrong of history. and nobody in this body needs a lecture on lynching and how horrible it is. everybody in this body abhors racism and believes that this violence is unjust. there are friends of mine here. unanimously we passed that legislation. we made history on this floor. and this is why i'm confused, because this bill has been passed unanimously, and here we are on a day of a memorial service for another person whose murder was condemned by people on both sides of the aisle. i have sat where you have sat, mr. president, and watched the differences between the republican leader and the democratic leader. i don't go back that long in this body, but i have watched harry reid and mitch mcconnell
and chuck schumer disagree so deeply time and time again, but god, we came together and passed the bill unanimously. mitch mcconnell let that bill come to this floor, didn't try to block it. and my colleague over there, rand paul, was one of the first hands i shook on this senate floor. he is my friend. and everything he said about his commitment to criminal justice reform, it is right. one of the first bills i wrote here i wrote with rand paul. and then he went further. at another time like this when america was raw, when another black man unarmed was shot, he went as far in "time" magazine to stand up and talk openly about the pro-publica. data about a black man in america
being 100 times more likely to be shot by the police as white. he said -- and he is shaking his head, if i may recognize, he said there must be something going on here if there is that much. so i do not question -- i could could -- i do not question the sincerity of his convictions. i have had too many conversations with him to question his heart. but i am so raw today. of all days that we're doing this. of all days that we're doing this right now, having this discussion when, god, if this bill passed today, what that would mean for america that this body and that body have now finally agreed, because i know when congressman white, the last black person to serve in
congress before the fall, the god-awful fall of the backlash after reconstruction fell, he gave this famous speech where he talked about the phoenix will rise, that one day black people will serve in this body, and here we are in the senate making history, the first time three african americans have even served together, republican and democrat, and we all came together leading on kamala's bill. and there's something about us that we knew there was something more than the legalistic issues that my colleagues wants to bring up, that we are a nation that needed this historic healing. and if we pass this, it would not only do something substantive to make a difference on the books of the american federal system, but, god, it would speak volumes to the racial pain and the hurt of generations. i do not need my colleague, the
senator from kentucky, to tell me about one lynching in this country. i've stood in the museum in montgomery, alabama, and watched african american families weeping at the stories of pregnant women lynched in this country and their babies ripped out of them while this body did nothing. i can hear the screams as this body and membership can of the unanswered cries for justice of our ancestors. every one of us is sensitive to that anguish, to that pain, as is the senator from kentucky. and this week, the senator from kentucky mentioned the colleague justin amash. i want to tell my colleagues on both sides of the aisle he is one of only four congressmen of
the 435 to vote against the antilynching bill. that means this bill was supported by the leader of the democrats, the speaker of the house. it was supported by the leader of the republicans, the whip of the republicans, the whip of the democrats. 400-plus votes supported this. yet my colleague thinks that this bill is wrong. if this bill is wrong, then the republican leadership of the house is wrong. if this bill is wrong, then the democratic leadership of the house is wrong. if this bill is wrong, 99 senators are wrong. if this bill is wrong, then the naacp is wrong. if this bill is wrong, then the lawyers committee for civil rights is wrong. if this bill is wrong, then the urban league of america is wrong legal organizations, civil rights organizations, democrats
and republicans. tell me another time when 500-plus congress people, democrats, republicans, house members, and senators come together in a chorus of conviction and say now is the time in america that we condemn the dark history of our past and actually pass antilynching legislation. and not one man -- and i do not question his motives because i know his heart. one man, one man is standing in the way of the law of the land changing because of a difference of interpretation. this doesn't talk about bruising someone. it's a difference of interpretation. does america need a win today on racial justice?
does the anguished cries of people in the streets -- i've had children break down with me this week wondering if this would be a country that values their lives as much as white people's lives. i've had to explain to grown men this week that there's still hope in america, that we can make change in america, that we can grow and heal in america, that we can make this a more perfect union. well, today is a day we can do it. one thing, one member to yield for once like he did in february of 2019, yield for one day and give america this win. let us pass this piece of legislation today of all days. let's give a headline tomorrow
or something that will give hope to this country that we can get it right. it may not cure the ills that so many are protesting about, but, god, it can be a sign of hope. so, mr. president, i object to this amendment. i object. i object. i object on substance. i object on the law. and for my heart and spirit and every fiber of my being, i object for my ancestors. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. paul: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator for kentucky. mr. paul: i think it's important to know and to let the record show that i've been working with senator booker's office for three months on the amendment to this bill, that i'm willing to have unanimous passage of the bill today. but i think it's incredibly important that we get this right. a woman in new jersey, a black woman in new jersey assaulted
three jewish women and slapped them. it was terrible, and shoe uttered -- and she uttered racial epithets about this issue women. she was charged with third degree aassault, up to a year in prison. she was then charged with a hate crime in addition to that that would be four years in addition. so we do have to get this right. if slapping someone and hurling a racial epithet can get you ten years in prison, this is exactly what we've been fighting about in criminal justice reform, that we set up a system we didn't pay attention to the penalties, and all of a sudden things we didn't intended happened. so we have to be smart about this. i'm willing to pass the bill today as amended, which would simply say not that you even have to harm someone. you have to attempt to harm them. but it has to be an attempt to harm them. so all of the discussion about bruising while trying to lynch someone, yes, that's attempted
murder. it wouldn't be covered by this bill. nothing in the bill would prevent the prosecution of heinous behavior. that's what it's intended for. what i'm frying to do is to -- what i'm trying to do is make sure we don't get unintended consequences. we fought the battle about mandatory minimums for a decade now because we tie up people in sentencing that makes no sense. ten years for slapping someone would be an abomination, and it could happen to anyone. do we want a black woman who slapped three jewish women in new jersey get ten years in prison? if there was a group of them it's now conspiracy to lynch. we have to use some common sense here. we should not have a ten-year prison sentence for anything less than at the very least an attempt to do bodily harm. the statute lists what bodily harm is, but it could still be an attempt. it doesn't mean you actually have to have it. but what it would preclude is
somebody shoved somebody in a bar, and they fall down and they have an abrasion, and they say he did it because of a racial animus towards me and you have a ten-year penalty. that's not right. so all of us here are advocates on the same side of criminal justice reform. we all have argued on the same side that the law is screwed up and it's incarcerated too many people unfairly. that's what i'm trying to prevent here. so the thing is i understand the emotions. you think i take great joy in being here? no. i'm a sponsor of 22 criminal justice bills. you think i'm getting any good publicity out of this? no. i will be excoriated by simple-minded people on the internet who think somehow i don't like emmett till or appreciate the history of emmett till. i'll be lectured to by everybody. i've got no right to have an opinion on any of these things, i should be quiet. i have worked in an honest way with senator booker's office for
three months on this bill. we have gone back and forth. we gave them some language. they came back to us and said it wouldn't work. i said what about this? and we haven't gotten any more responses. we haven't gotten responses in a month or more. the thing is now they're litigating in the press and trying to accuse me of being in favor of something so heinous that it makes my skin crawl, makes me sick to my stomach to even read the accounts of what happened. we also ought to be fair and honest about this. lynching is illegal. people who say there is no federal law against lynching is not telling the truth. the law says if you kill somebody and you have racial animus, under the hate crimes statute, it is illegal. you can't do that. it's also illegal in all the states. this bill does not make lynching illegal. for all the discussion of that, this bill creates a new crime called conspiracy to lynch. oh, yeah, i'm for it. if there's a crowd, let's arrest the whole mob. all four policemen should be responsible for what happened to
mr. floyd. but the thing is, is when we do that, we have to be careful that we don't then put a crowd of people in where someone pushed into someone or someone slapped someone. there has to be justice. people are chanting justice. justice has to have a brain and has to have vision and can't be hamstrung into something that could give someone ten years in prison for a minor crime. this is a very minor attempt. everything we left in here, we have worked with senator booker's office to make sure it is inclusive. they came back and said what about attempted? we said let's change the language. so we have in there attempt to cause seriously bodily harm so there can be no injury. but someone will have to have a discussion of whether there was an attempt, an attempt that looked like it would be serious. i think slapping someone isn't. but under the current statute as is, people say nobody will ever do it. maybe, but we're putting it on the books. the mandatory minimums have kept people in jail for decades. there are people in life for nonviolate crools.
-- crimes. i'm asking for a very minor change. i'll pass it right now. i'm completely out of the way. i'm for the bill. i'm asking unanimous consent to pass the bill today with one amendment that just says let's be careful not to arrest people for slapping someone or not to arrest somebody who pushes into someone and get them ten years in prison. this isn't about someone trying to kill another person or someone attempting bodily harm. those people would be included in this language even if they did not have a mark on the person. but if they were rounding them up, tying them up or throwing a rope over a tree that's attempted murder and still be included in this bill even without a mark on them. what we have to preclude and trying to preclude is the bill doesn't get used for the wrong purposes. we're on the same side about who we want to punish and who we should prevent. and we're also on the same side on the symbolism of this, but we can't pass laws that do exactly what all of us have said is wrong with our penal system,
all the unintended consequences. there is one here, and i ask in a very polite way, and i've been asking for three months for one small change, and i'll let the bill go today, on this change, if we have it. the changes have been out there. they're not brand-new. they have been in senator booker's office for three months, and we've tried to, as he's had objections, work with him on his objections. so i would ask unanimous consent once again to pass the bill as amended. book --. mr. booker: mr. president. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. booker: reserving the right to be 0. the presiding officer: the senator for virginia -- new jersey. mr. booker: thank you very much, mr. president. this is a bill that's already passed this body. the same bill, same language. there was no objection then. only four members of the house of representatives objected. same bill, same language.
i've heard this objection. we disagree with this. the truth of the matter is what's being proposed is not just opposed by me, but our republican colleagues who are sponsoring this bill in this body oppose these corrections as well. in addition to that, changes to this bill now would send it back to the house of representatives. this is a tactic that will send this bill back over to the house where again it would have to be voted on. this idea that somehow someone would be brought up on lynching charges for a slapping is absurd, especially as you see how hate crime legislation, how difficult that is even to prove. and so i am deeply disappointed
by the objections we've heard that were not made manifest last year in 2019, but somehow seem to be stopping it in 2020. and so i object with this prediction, we as a body will correct historic ills and pass lynching legislation through this body, through the house of representatives one day in this nation this legislation will pass. and perhaps it will have to wait until i'm not here, until senator paul is not here, unless he decides to go back to the 2019 senator paul. and the question is, is what side of history will we ultimately be on? i pray that it happens in this congress. i pray that the president signs legislation against lynching. how historic that would be. but today it is not going to happen obviously. and i'm telling you right now,
this celebration will come. this moment in american history will come. and the frustrating thing for me is at a time that this country hungers for common sense racial reconciliation, an acknowledgement of our past and are looking forward to a better future, this will be one of the sad days where that possibility was halted. but as we all know, one of the great leaders that all republicans and democrats all hail, ask that question, how long will it take? and the simple answer is not long because the truth crushed the earth will rise again. not long because you reap what you sow, not long because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. we will pass this legislation.
i pray that the members of this body, as we are right now, are the ones to do it. thank you. i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. murkowski: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska -- for alaska. ms. murkowski: thank you, mr. president. before my colleagues exit the chamber, i want to -- i want to acknowledge your words. i want to thank you. the passion, the emotion, the true rawness in your words are words that i think all of us as members of the senate should hear, reflect, and respect. and i just want you to know that i am thankful that i was here on the floor to personally hear
because we can read words but it is when we have the ability to hear and to feel those words that their true meaning come out. so i appreciate it and i thank you for that. mr. president, i had asked to come and speak on the floor of this senate on this day, june 4, i've been actually looking for to it and planning speaking time for months now. june 4 is a -- is a significant day in the fight for women's suffrage. it was in -- on june 4, 2019, that congress approve the amendment and sent it to the states for ratification and then it was in 2020 that the 19th amendment was -- was ratified by
the states. so this was to be a time of celebration, of recognition, of women's suffrage, this centennial event, and since that time that i first looked to schedule this, my how the world has changed. we have been in the midst of a pandemic over 100,000 american lives lost to the covid-19 virus. we are in the midst of an economic crisis, the likes of which we haven't seen in -- in decades and decades. and just less than just a week ago now, we witnessed the
killing of george floyd on our streets in broad daylight. and today, june 4, is not only a recognition of women's suffrage, but it's the funeral of george floyd. so before i speak to the matter which i intended to speak on today, i want to just briefly comment on where -- where i believe we are as a nation right now. i was walking into work this morning and -- and in my neighbor's yard is -- is a packard, a -- placard, a yard sign that has been there for
some time now. it is a partial quote of martin luther king that states we can't be silent about the things that matter. when you think about those things that matter, equality, justice, the fundamental truth that all human beings are created equal and endowed by god with certain rights. and when those rights are denied, when they are violated, it is our responsibility to address the injustice. it is not our responsibility as elected members of the united states senate, it is our responsibility as fellow humans, as americans who believe in these principles of justice and
equality. president bush had some words this week that i found very direct, very comforting at a difficult time when it's thard to be -- when it's hard to be discomforted, when our spirits are so discomforted and agitated. he reminded us that the justice for all is the duty of justice for all. it is the duty of all. we are hurting now as a nation. we have wounds from racism that have never been allowed to heal. and those words were just -- just shared here on this floor moments ago. wounds that have never been allowed to heal. wounds that are still so open
and raw. and healing can't take place until the hurt and the anger and the anguish that so many in this country still feel, so many african americans, so many -- so many who feel that the system is meant for somebody but not them. that there is not equal justice under the law. it must be the law for somebody else. mr. president, this has been hard -- hard on all of us. as we have seen the -- the protests, many of them peaceful. in my home state, alaskans coming together with a shared sense of duty and responsibility
to speak up about things that matter and doing so in a way that brings us together rather than divides. we -- we must condemn the violence that we see on the street with the looting, but stopping the looting is not going to close this wound. we heal when we acknowledge our weaknesses, when we acknowledge our failures, and we vow to address the things that matter like equality and justice. and what we say and how we say it truly matters. i have been challenged by some. i have been chastised by some -- some very close friends who have
said, you're silent, lisa. why are you silent? why haven't you -- you fixed what -- what we are seeing? and i have struggled. i have struggled with the right words. as a white woman born and raised in alaska with a -- a family that was -- was privileged, i can't feel that openness and rawness that i just heard expressed by my friends cory and kamala. i haven't lived their life but i can listen and i can educate myself and i can try to be a healer at a time when we need to
be healed, and that's my commitment and my pledge going forward to those i serve in alaska and to those i serve here in this country. this is -- this is challenging for us, mr. president. we know this, but we are an extraordinary country. we are an extraordinary people with extraordinary resilience. so let me turn to the fight, the century fight for women's suffrage. the right to vote, the right to be treated equally, the right to
be heard. it is -- it is a history that is -- is long and interesting, sometimes very colorful. i've had an opportunity this past couple of weeks to be reading a collection of stories about how women in the west worked to -- to really be the vangawnders, if you will on the suffrage movement. you don't necessarily hear them spoken to with great frequency, but in fairness, it was many of those western states. it was wyoming that was the first mover. and so reading some of their stories was a good reminder -- a good reminder of the role that -- that many in alaska have also played. we've been relatively progressive when it comes to women's rights. so progressive that many alaska
women received equal voting rights with men in 1913. this was seven years before the 19th amendment was ratified. alaska was still a territory and was still going to be a territory for a long time going forward. the sorry and sad part of that history, though, was that not all alaskan women were given that right to vote. alaska native women were secluded and -- excluded. and they were excluded based on citizenship and the civility assessment and literacy tests that prevented alaska -- not just the women but some native men from voting for several more decades. we recognize, through a state day of observation and recognition, the work of elizabeth peratavich, an alaska
native woman who was the driving force behind our first antidiscrimination law. this was back in 1945, nearly 20 years before congress passed the civil rights act. this year, on the 75th anniversary of the bill's passage, the u.s. mint has actually created a gold coin in her honor and as you look at that coin and we -- reflect on her role and the significance of that proud, strong, fierce native woman leader, you can't help but be proud of her. the fight for women's suffrage was waged, as we know, for decades and decades. but, again, the women in the west led the way. as i was reading the -- the
recount of -- of the alaska suffrage initiative, it was reflected that the women in alaska didn't really have to work that hard to -- to get it, it was just, quote, provided to them. i think there's more to that history than that, but they -- but the newspaper publication at the time, the daily alaskan in 1904 argued, well, women's suffrage might be disfavored as a general proposition, the merits were different in alaska. and he says the women there are brave and noble helpers in the development of a frontier country and not the pam per -- pampered dolls of society. i think today it still probably holds true we've got some pretty strong women in alaska. we own and operate fishing vessels, we work as oil rig
operators, diesel mechanics, we have some extraordinary alaska women leaders leading our alaska corporations, oil companies, our advocates for seniors and children and domestic violence, they truly have helped not only our state but our country. the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage is a reminder of the progress that we've made as a nation, but we know that we have more to do, that inequities remain, whether in the workforce, pay equality. and so continuing that work is a matter that we have not relaxed on. and that work -- that work, mr. president -- includes getting the equal rights amendment signed into law. the equal rights amendment was first written and introduced by alice paul at a conference commemorating the 75th
anniversary of the seneca falls convention. but it wasn't until 1972 that the e.r.a. passed through congress and was sent to the states with a seven-year deadline for ratification that was eventually extended until 1982. it's a pretty simple amendment. it's pretty short. equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the united states or by any state on account of sex. that's the equal rights amendment. in addition to the implementing provisions following that. but that's -- that's the context in alaska i'm proud to say that we were one of the early adopters, having ratified the amendment on april 5 in 1972.
more recently, virginia became the 38th state to have ratified the amendment, which brings us to the three-fourths threshold needed for ratification. but, unfortunately, this milestone has been reached after the deadline for ratification had already expired. and so senator cardin and i have introduced a resolution, s.j. res. 6, which would remove the time limit from the joint resolution that passed the congress in 1972. i have asserted time and time again, like senator cardin, so many, we said, you cannot put a time limit on women's equality. it's been 100 years since women were granted the equal right of voting. women's equality is fundamental to the american way of life, and it's far past time to be
expressly recognized in the constitution. so i thank senator cardin for his leadership, working on this resolution with me, and all the members of congress who have fought with us in support of the e.r.a. i thank the advocates who continue to call their senators, call their congressmen, who lift their voices to support this important cause. we have work to do. we will continue that work. mr. president, i want to note that my colleague, senator cardin, was here on the floor, was planning to speak to this matter today, but our time schedule got compressed, so his statement was included as part of the record. but i want to recognize the good work and the partnership that we have on this. with this, mr. president, i thank you, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i have six requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. alexander: mr. president, i want to thank the senator from alaska for her eloquent remarks, and i'm glad i was here to have chance to listen to them, both of equal rights for all americans. it's not possible for us to make -- speak on any subject today without recognizing what's going on in the country. a couple of comments come to my mind as i think about what's happened as a result of the incident with george floyd in minneapolis where first the comment of the leader of the peaceful protests in nashville. there were more than 1,000 there. she said the next day she was disappointed by the rioters and
looters because they dishonored the memory of george floyd and dishonored the peaceful protests against racial discrimination. i thought she said that well and expressed the feeling of most tennesseans. and the other comment i thought about was that of our colleague, senator tim scott of south carolina, who is one of three african american members of the united states senate, who told us a couple of years ago in a private bible study -- and i asked him later if i could mention it. he said he was stopped seven times, an african american man, in his hometown, charleston, south carolina, for being, quote, a black man in the wrong place, even while he was the vice mayor of his hometown. i asked him about that again this week. he said, yeah, it happened against last month. i think most of us don't know that. we don't think about that, those of us who aren't african american, aren't black.
and to think about that i think, helps us do the -- begin the process of understanding the feelings that are going on in the country right now, most of which can't be solved by laws. they'll have to be changed by attitudes. i come tohe floor today to make brief comments on two other subjects,man. -- mr. president. the first is about a subject that's concerning about 70 million, 75 million families -- that is, going back to college, going back to school. the question is on the minds of many men's. will we be going back to college, will we be going back to school? we finished a hearing today on going back to college safely. the question is not whether we're going back to college in the united states of america. the question is how to go back
safely. and we heard -- because we all understand that when 70 million, 75 million students go back to college and go back to the school, that is the surest see inthat american life is regaining its rhythm, not just for the students themselves, but for their parents, most of whom work outside the home. but today's subject was about college, and we had excellent witnesses. we had the president of purdue university. he was introduced by the senator from indiana. mitch daniels. we had the president of brown university, christina paxton. we had logan hampton, who was president of a small historically black college in jackson, tennessee, lane college. and we had the president of of e american public health association, dr. benjamin. they talked with us about the various strategies and concerns
that existed. i will in a few minutes ask consent to put my opening statement in the record, but if i can summarize it, it would be this -- most of our 6,000 public colleges and universities -- or colleges and universities, some public, some private, some church schools, will be open in august for in-person students. not all of them. the university of california state system has said so far that it expects only to offer online courses. but at purdue, for example, an institution of 55,000 students, president daniels has decided, with the arizona approval of his board, and president paxton at brown, a different kind of institution in northeast, different than purdue, they both decided that it's their obligation to open up and to
create a safe environment for the students to come back. there are several reasons for this. there is some health risk of coming back, and of course wise leadership can address that. but i think as all of us have looked at our colleges, wise leadership can make colleges among the safest communities to live and work in in america over the next year. because colleges have certain advantages. in the first place, most of the campus community is young. and while we can't be cavalier about the affect of covid-19 an young people, as dr. fauci has warned us, the fact of the matter is that covid-19 seems to hurt the young much less. a second reason why it'll be easier to go back to college is because there's a lot of space in colleges that isn't used.
colleges are the most notorious wasters of space in our society. it's rare that a class is taught in the early morning or late evening or on saturdays or in the summers. there's plenty of time and plenty of space to spread out on most college campuses. and as we learn more and more about covid-19, it looks like there are three things we really need to do -- keep six feet apart, wash our hands, and wear a mask. do those three things and we could probably go back to school, back to works and out to eat and most of the things that we'd like to do. well, president daniel says he plans to wear a mask. concerts and parties and large gatherings are out. flu shots and grab-and-go meals are in. testing will be done in
different ways. the president of brown would like to test every student she said in an article in "the new york times" a few weeks ago. the president of purdue said, well, maybe systematic testing. there will be different strategies for testing but the goal of testing is two things -- one is containing the disease -- that is,ic the sick and the -- that is, identifying the sick and the exposed so they can be quarantined so the rest of us don't have to be; and the others is to build confidence. when i took a last week after i was exposed to covid-19, i went home for two weeks of self-isolation, as the attending physician said i should do, that should have been it, but i went to my local public health department and took a test which turned out to be negative. it gave me more confidence to go back home and be with my family. so the anticipation is that there will be plenty of it testing. and admiral giroir, the
assistant secretary of health, has told our city that we're doing about 10 million tests a month now. that states are submitting to the federal government a plan each month about their testing needs. the federal government is helping fill in any gaps and that over the next two or three months, the number of tests tesl go from about 10 million a month to about 40 million or 50 million a month. that's a lot of tests. we're already testing more than any country in the world. so my guess is that colleges and universities, even though there's 6,000 of them, 127 different institutions in tennessee, if they'll be in touch with their governor and be part of the state testing plan, that they can have adequate tests, not only to contain the disease and isolate those who should be isolated, but to give peace of mind to other students who -- and faculty and members of the community who come on board. finally, we talked a little bit about the role of the federal government. we have a classic discussion
about that here. some want to say washington should do it. some want to say the states should do it. generally, our friends on the democratic side trust washington, d.c. generally we on the republican said trust the states. but there's a role for both. i mean, the federal government, through the centers for disease control, can provide advice. the federal government, as it's doing through the shark tank, as we call it at the national institutes of health, can accelerate the number of rapid tests that are available at a low cost for campuses. the federal government can provide additional funding for campuses, as we did in the cares act. those are some of the things that we can do from here. but the things we ought not to try to do from here are to order california to open its campuses, if california doesn't want to. or to tell purdue and notre dame and brown and the university of tennessee and vanderbilt that we cannot open their campuses if
they do want to and think they can do it safely. we should not be trying to tell each of those campuses exactly how many tests they have, what kind of tests they have any more than we can tell them what the faculty ought to be paid or what student admission policies ought to be or what the curriculum ought to be. so while the federal government needs to create an umbrella in which individual campuses can go back to school safely, we need to be careful about telling everybody exactly what to do. we had a very big event here four, five years ago when we fixed no child left behind. everybody wanted it fixed. democrats, republicans, labor unions, governors, teachers. why? because after a while, everybody got tired of washington, d.c., telling 100,000 public schools exactly what to do, what teachers to hire, what curriculum to have, all of these things. same is true with our cleanse. our system of colleges and
universities is the best in the world. everyone concedes that. it's not gotten there by washington ordering what it should do. and washington shouldn't order what it should do about this disease. it should advise, it should help, it should help send money, but the autonomy of each campus ought to be respected. and one other things about -- that the colleges and universities have asked for from us is liability protection. i would like to ask consent to include following my remarks a letter from the american council on education with a number of things in it that they ask of congress. this is the umbrella organization for higher education, and it includes liability protection. next week in our committee, we will take a look at going back to school safely. k-12, that's a lot more families. 20 million college students, 75 million children in k-12.
in every one of those families and every one of those homes, i can tell you those families are worried about whether those children can go back to school and whether they can go safely. i believe they can be and all across the country governors, classroom teachers, mayors, principals are working just as we heard today from the college presidents to make sure they go back safely. now, if i may switch gears to another subject, mr. president, briefly. on monday, the senate will be casting the most important vote on conservation legislation, outdoors legislation, that we have had in 50 years. now, that's quite a statement to make because we do lots of legislation here in the united states senate. but i'm not exaggerating when i say this. this is a piece of legislation that will do more for our public federal lands, our national parks, our fish and wildlife lands, our bureau of reclamation lands, the lands that hunters
and fishermen use, than any piece of legislation we have passed in at least 60 years. in addition, it will create permanent funding for the land and water conservation fund which has been a goal of congress since it was passed first in 1964, reaffirmed by the reagan commission on americans outdoors which i chaired in 1985 and 1986, and finally we're getting around to doing both of those things. this piece of legislation that i'm describing has the strong support of president trump. in fact, it couldn't happen without president trump because the office of management and budget has to approve the method of funding we're using, and they have approved it, and it's in the president's budget. it has the support of 59 cosponsors in this body, democrats and republicans who are working together on it in a remarkable way.
people say that we're divided. well, we are in lots of ways, but in other ways, we're not. i mean, ask senators burr and cantwell and daines and gardner and heinrich and king and manchin and portman and warner. they are all in the middle of this. they will all take credit for it and i will give them credit for it, but no one -- everyone recognizes it takes all of us. and why are we all in the middle of it? we have more than 800 sportsmens and outdoors groups who have endorsed this bill. more than 800. so you tell me the last time you saw president trump, 800 outdoors and environmental groups and 59 united states senators on both sides of the aisle in favor of a piece of legislation that has this policy that i believe is the most important piece of outdoors legislation in a half century. here's what we're talking about. we're talking about leaky roofs. we're talking about access roads
with potholes. we're talking about trails that are worn out so you slip and fall down when you go to hike. we're talking about sewage systems that are broken, shutting down whole campgrounds like the shahawee mountain campground at the great smoky national park which is shut down for two years. the sewage system is shut down. we're talking about dilapidated visitors' centers from washington, d.c., to pearl harbor. we're talking about the mall here in washington, d.c. we're talking about our national treasures. we're talking about where we like to go. one of the organizations supporting this or a group of them represent 55 million fishermen and hunters. they would like to have roads to get to the fishing hole. they would like not to break the axle on their tire on the way. families would like to be able to go to pearl harbor and see a
good visitors' center. and they would like to be able to camp in the smoky mountains and find out it's not shut down because the bathroom doesn't work. that's what we are talking about here. this isn't exotic stuff, but it's what creates an environment for us to use this great american outdoors that we all love. now, exactly how does it do that, briefly? well, one part simply says that we're going to take the -- the national parks, the 419 national park properties, the national crests, the national wildlife refuges, and the bureau of land management and bureau of indian education -- that's indian schools -- and we're going to take the deferred maintenance, that's all those things i talked about that are broken, and over the next five years, we're going to pay for half of that.
we have about $14 billion -- it's about $12 billion that is deferred maintenance, and over the next five years we will reduce half that. now, in the great smoky mountains, for example, next to where i have, we have $235 million worth of deferred maintenance. the park has a $20 million a year budget. now, how much of that $20 million -- how long do you think it's going to take a $20 million annual budget to deal with $235 million of deferred maintenance? it's never going to happen. it's never going to happen without this piece of legislation or something like it. so that's the first part. and president trump, to his credit, said well, go ahead, put in the bill the national forests, the national wildlife refugees, the bureau of land management, and the bureau of indian schools. we have a lot of indian schools in this country that are broken down and need to be fixed.
he said put that in there, and there are a lot of travel nations and a lot of hunters and fishermen who appreciate that support, which is why we have 800 different groups, outdoors groups who are supporting it. and then there is the second part of the bill which is the smaller part, which is the land and water conservation fund. that's a very simple idea. it was recommended by president johnson's rockefeller commission in 1964. it said this -- let's set aside a certain amount of money every year, $900 million. half to the states, half to the federal government. and buy land that ought to be protected. it might be a city park. it might be an inholding in a national park. it could be any of those things. and that's been going on all that time. but what the agreement was in 1964 was we will use -- we will get the money to pay for it from
offshore drilling. we will create an environmental burden -- that's offshore drilling -- and we will use it for environmental benefit, that's the land and water conservation fund. that made a lot of sense, and every year, congress has appropriated a certain amount of money for that. but the idea was the amount would be certain. it would be $900 million every year, and that's never happened. in 1985 and 1986, president reagan appointed a commission to look at american outdoors. i was chairman of it. the principal recommendation was to make the land and water conservation fund permanent and have permanent funding. so for 60 years, presidents and congresses have been trying to do this but haven't gotten it done. monday is the day to get it done. monday is the day to get it done. so my hope is that all members of the united states senate are back here for votes on monday. some of us have been a little delinquent in our attendance on the monday votes. but we need 60 votes on monday to advance the bill.
and then we'll need 60 votes a couple of more times to pass the bill. and then it can go to the house of representatives where an identical bill has been introduced in the house. and it would seem to me that a bill like this at a time like this would be something we would all welcome and want to support. there's nothing any of us wants to do more than get outside of our homes and get in the fresh air, and these are the lands where we go. some of them are city parks, some of them are big parks like yellowstone and yosemite and the great smokies, but they are our treasures. they are run down. they are run down. the bathrooms leak. the sewage systems have closed campgrounds. the visitors' centers are embarrassing in some cases. the roads have potholes. and the access roads aren't built for the fishermen. this is a chance to take care of
that. so i'm looking forward to the vote on cloture on monday. i hope we get a big vote and send a strong signal to the american people that we in the congress have heard them, that even in a time of crisis like this, that we can work together and -- and do important work. and there's one more aspect to it. this is an infrastructure bill, and infrastructure means lots of jobs. there are various numbers that are thrown around, 40,000, 100,000, but any time you spend $14 billion over five years on projects that are ready to go in locations all over the country, especially in rural areas, that's going to help a country that has such a high unemployment rate. so most important conservation and outdoors legislation in 50 years.
an infrastructure in addition to that, that sounds like a pretty good vote for monday. i thank the president. i ask consent to include following my speech my opening statement from the hearing this morning on going back to college safely as well as the letter from the american council on education. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: and i yield the floor. mr. alexander: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
mr. mcconnell: are we in a quorum call? mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent is that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to calendar number 75, h.r. 1957. the presiding officer: the clerk will report.
the clerk: motion to proceed to calendar number 75, h.r. 1975, an act to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to modernize and improve the internal revenue service and for other purposes. the presiding officer: i send a cloture motion to the deck for the motion to proceed. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to proceed to calendar number 75, h.r. 1957, an act to amend the internal revenue code of 1966 to modern hice and improve the internal revenue service and for other purposes, signed by 17 senators as follows -- mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the mandatory quorum call be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the majority leader be authorized to sign duly enrolled bills or joint resolutions through monday, june 8, 2020. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous
consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 397, s. 886. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 397, s. 886, a bill to amend the omnibus public land management act of 2009 to make the reclamation water settlements fund permanent. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the committee-reported substitute be withdrawn and the udall amendment at the desk be agreed to and the bill, as amended, be considered read a third time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i node of no further debate on the bill. the presiding officer: is there further debate? if not, all in favor say aye. those opposed, say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill, as amended, does pass. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the motions to reconsider be considered made
and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask the chair lay before the senate the message to r. a company s. 3084. the presiding officer: the senate lays before the -- the chair lays before the senate the following message from the house. the clerk: resolved that the bill from the senate, s. 3084, entitled an act to amend title 38 united states code to modify the limitation on pay for certain high-level employees and officers of the department of veterans asurface-to-airs, dopas -- affairs do pass with the following amendment. mr. mcconnell: i move to concur in the house amendment and ask unanimous consent that the motion be agreed to and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 3:00 p.m., monday,
june 8. following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and that morning business be closed. further, following leader remarks, the senate resume consideration of the motion to proceed to calendar number 75, h.r. 1957, finally, notwithstanding rule 22, the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to h.r. 1957 occur at 5:30 p.m. the presiding officer:, would. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent -- i ask consent further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that action with respect to s. 3084 be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: so if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 3:00 on monday.t objection. mr. paul: mr. president,