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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  December 2, 2021 10:00am-2:01pm EST

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undersecretary of treasury for financial crimes. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, the fountain of every blessing, provide our senators this day reverence to realize your presence, humility to know their own needs, and trust to ask for your help. give them also the courage to obey your precepts and to live for your glory.
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lord, walk with them as they work, giving them the wisdom to believe that there is no purity without vigilance, no learning without study, that there is no crown without a cross. strengthen their resolve to choose the right and shun the wrong. we pray in your holy name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., december 2, 2021. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable maria cantwell, a senator from the state of washington, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will consider h.r. 4350. the clerk: h.r. 4350, an act to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2022 for military activities for the department of defense, and so forth and for other purposes.
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mr. schumer: madam president? the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. schumer: madam president, i begin this morning with some good news. i'm happy to say that last night, i reached an agreement with leader mcconnell, the speaker, and the chair of the house appropriations committee and the senate appropriations committee on a continuing resolution that will keep the federal government funded through mid-february of next year. this is a good compromise that allows an appropriate amount of time for both parties in both chambers to finish negotiations on appropriations. this morning, the house -- excuse me. as i said, this is a good compromise that allows an
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appropriate amount of time for both parties in both chambers to finish negotiations on appropriations. this morning, the house will start the process to take up this government funding measure, and we hope they can have it passed through their chamber by the end of today. unfortunately, it seems republican dysfunction could be a roadblock to averting an unnecessary and dangerous government shutdown. democrats and most republicans, including the republican leader, have said they don't want to see a republican shutdown. we hope cooler heads will prevail. but just as we saw with the ndaa, a few individual republican senators appeared determined to derail this important legislation, because of their opposition to the president's life-saving vaccine guidelines, critical to healing our country in the middle of a pandemic. let's be clear -- if interest is a shutdown, it will be a republican anti-vaccine
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shutdown. democrats wants to get the government funded as soon as possible. it was not easy to reach this deal. it took a while to get republican leadership on board. but i'm glad that we've got at any done. i thank my colleagues on the over side of the aisle for working with us to find a path forward. now all that's left are a few lone holdouts raising objections that are doom to fail and which can be debated elsewhere. there's no reason we should have a republican shutdown. i have worked with the republican leader on an agreement that will avoid one. now again, i hope cooler heads will prevail on the other side so we can keep the government funded before tomorrow's deadline. now on the ndaa. once again, madam president, republican dysfunction. that seems to be what's going on on the other chamber. not by all republican members but by some who seem to run the show. republican dysfunction has sadly -- the republican show, that is.
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republican dysfunction has sadly caused immense damage on another routine, important and largely bipartisan priority, the ndaa. democrats have been working in good faith with the other side for weeks since before the thanksgiving holiday to secure an agreement to approve our annual defense bill. last night because of the objections of one republican, the ndaa has once again been prevented from moving forward. as i said last night, the amendment pushed by my colleague would certainly raise a blue slip objection in the house and thus kill the entire ndaa. now, the senator from florida says there are no blue ship issues, -- slip issues. but this isn't a matter of opinion. the authority here rests with the ways and means committee in the house and they have stated unequivocally that his proposal would raise blue-slip issues. there's no objection that the substance -- there is no objection to the substance of
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the amendment presented by the senior senator from florida. but it simply would violate the provision in our constitution that requires revenue measures to originate in the house. other members had amendments with similar issues, but they worked with the ways and means committee in the house to resolve them because they are the arbiter. senator rubio has not done the same. it's unfortunate that this misguided demand of a single republican senator is preventing this important legislation to support our national security from moving in the senate, particularly in light of the fact that so many amendments were allowed to be offered by the senator reed and senator inhofe. the number of amendments that would be voted on -- let me repeat -- would exceed the total number of amendments, total number of amendments that were offered on the ndaa -- that were allowed on the ndaa under the four years of republican
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leadership during donald trump's presidency. so to say we are in a process that is unbalanced or unfair would be -- is totally false. it's simply one person holding it up. for the sake of our troops and our families, i hope this republican dysfunction can be addressed. i yield the floor and note the -- i do not yet yield the floor. i understand that there is a bill at the desk due for a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: s. 3299, a bill to prohibit the department of defense from discharging or withholding pay or benefits from members of the national guard based on covid-19 vaccination status. mr. schumer: in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provision of rule 14, i would object to further proceeding. the presiding officer: the objection having been heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar.
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mr. schumer: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: two-thirds of americans are worried about inflation. about half of the middle class and 70% of low-income families j,rising prices have been a personal hardship for their households. that's why 67% of the american people say that washington needs to cut back on spending and printing money. but here in washington democrats are bound and determined to do just the opposite. they want to try the crazy strategy of inflating their way out of inflation, another massive reckless taxing and spending spree. even though its generous
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estimates when the c.b.o. has to swallow all, all of the democrats' accounting gimmicks at face value will say their proposal would entail $800 billion in new deficit spending over the next five years alone. just five years. outside experts who are allowed to reject democrats' obvious budget gimmicks find the real cost, the real cost of the bill would actually be close to $5 trillion. that's with a t, trillion dollars. and after a decade, it would increase deficits by $2.8 trillion. but the reckless price tag actually isn't the only problem. what is remarkable is that the democrats want to spend all of these trillions but not leave citizens with any impressive enduring national project in
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return. there's no hoover dam, interstate highway system, or moon landing on the other side of their mountains of borrowed money. nothing like that. just a giant catalogue of socialist mediocrity. new entitlements here, new transfer of programs there, new ways to let bureaucrats run families' lives, and shameless, shameless goodies for specific interest groups who support the political left. a giant muddled mess that would leave families with fewer child care choices and higher costs, with fewer new prescription drugs and cures, with higher prices for less reliable energy, literally a reckless taxing and spending spree that hurts american families and actually, believe it or not, helps china. there are a lot of big, sweeping
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radical changes in their proposal that would change families' lives dramatically and enentirely for the worst -- entirely for the worst. in between the sweeping wishful fulfillment for people who call themselves democratic socialists, there's also a remarkable amount of just pure waste, absurd, literally absurd little giveaways and interest group goodies. a billion here. a billion there. and hope the american people won't notice if it's buried in enough bureaucratic jibber issue. so let me -- jib -- jiggerish. let me give you a few charms. this bill would help colleges to indoctrinate students with even more left-wing propaganda and billions more to give them madeup jobs in a make work program they're calling a civilian climate core.
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this, this at a time when industries already cannot find workers. their bill would set aside multiple billions of dollars to put the federal government employees like i.r.s. agents and postal carriers into brand new electric vehicles. earlier this year the biden administration make sure that luxury teslas with a sticker price up to $97,000 were on the list for government procurement. $97,000 per vehicle. so working families might be having to choose between heating costs and new shoes for the kids but don't worry, they'll make sure that they can cruise around in silicon valley finance. it would be a slush fund that activists are applauding for something called, now listen to this, a national green bank.
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can you say sew lend ra -- solindra oner is roidz. it is -- steroids. they are planning to spend multibillion dollars to spend on, listen to this, tree equity. i will let that one speak for itself. of course, madam president, the green new deal folks aren't the only constituency that democrats want to pay off. this tax-and-spending spree is to help ivy league administrators and blue state millionaires all in one fell swoop. there is the state and local tax carve out, the salt gimmick that
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would give an extra tax cut to those making a million dollars or more a year. democrats have included a $1.6 billion bailout for the news media. i'm not making this up. we're essentially talking about government welfare for newsrooms -- for newsrooms. oh, listen, it goes on and on and on. this is -- these are new special tax breaks for universities massive endowments and there is the pure pork of the old school kind, the speaker tried to sneak in billions of dollars for a special park and the democratic leader has tried to double the bill's funding for public housing so mismanaged authority in his hometown could get $40 billion to clean up its messes. and then there's pure pork of the old school kind.
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speaker of the house tried to sneak in hundreds of millions of dollars, as i indicated earlier, for the park. there's even what appears to be a $33 million kickback that is largely for one democratic congressman whose vote speaker pelosi literally had to lock down. out of nowhere one mostly dormant government commission that is important to this particular democrat's district gets a funding increase of 1,300%. you heard that right. a funding increase of 1,300%. what a terrific coincidence for this particular house member. so take a step back. our colleagues' proposal isn't some big national leap into the 21st century. it's an endless -- endless
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hodgepodge of this nonsense. partisan back scratching, interest group giveaways and shameless -- shameless waste. and through tax hikes and inflation, working american families will foot the bill. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: it has been a great source of debate, how was jeffrey epstein able to take his own life in federal prison august 10, 2019? last week we found some answers in "the new york times." it pointed out a series of stunning failures within the bureau of prisons. according to the times, the newly obtained records offer no support to the explosion of conspiracy theories that mr. epstein's death was not a suicide, but they do paint a picture of incompetence and sloppiness by someone within the bureau of prisons. it was evident from the moment he entered the corrections
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center. on his intake form, he was described as, quote, a black male, close quote, with no prior record of sex offense convictions. a five-second google search would tell you that not only was jeffrey epstein white, he was one of the most notorious sex traffickers in history. on the night he died, he had attempted suicide in the weeks leading up to his death, you would think the officials in the bureau of prisons would keep watch over this potentially suicidal inmate. the opposite happened. he was left alone, unmonitored in his cell. the two officers on duty were dozening off and the next morning epstein was found dead. inspite of his despicable crimes, we will not see him
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brought to justice. mike ca vajal was picked to lead the prisons, he would have held the parties responsible accountable. since day one he has shown no intention of reforming that institution. consider the case of the warden who ran the metropolitan correctional center the night epstein died. how did he respond to that warden's failure of leadership? if you can imagine it, he actually rewarded him. the director appointed the same warden to lead a different facility, the largest federal prison in the united states in new jersey and it seems that warden hasn't learned any lessons in leadership since mr. epstein's death. last month an inmate in fort dix was attacked from behind and
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stabbed in the eye. these are not isolated incidents. for years the bureau of prisons has been plagued by corruption, chronic misunderstanding and misconduct by high-ranking officials. in the two years since the director took control of the bureau, he has failed to take care of the crisis in the bureau. a few weeks ago the associated press published a breathtaking investigation into the bureau. they said that is it a hotbed of abuse and has turned a blind eye to employees accused of misconduct. since 2019, madam president, more than 100 federal prison workers have been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of crimes including sexual abuse, murder, and introducing contraband into prison. all together these crimes account for two-thirds of the criminal cases against all department of justice personnel,
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even though b.o.p. employees comprise less than a third of the workforce. i want to share a few stories from the associated press report. at one prison in mississippi, one person who -- was accused of stalking employees, he was authorized to continue to investigate one of his accusers. in california, a warden of a federal prison -- women's prison was arrested and indicted earlier this year for arresting an inmate and kept lewd photos of the victim on his government-issued cellphone and told the woman not to report the assault because he was close friends with the official who would investigate it. the list goes on. it's a recurring pattern of misconduct by those who believe they can abuse inmates and break
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the laws with impunity. in some cases that's what they have done. the details are shocking and for those of us who have been following the director's tenure, they are the latest disturbing examples of failed leadership. time and again he has categorically failed to uphold his chief responsibility as director. what is that responsibility, protecting the health and safety of inmates and correctional officers. today the bureau suffers from chronic and significant understaffing. the director has failed to contain outbreaks of covid-19 which has led to tens of thousands of inmates and staff contracting the virus. when it comes to the federal prison system, he has failed. in 2018, congressional democrats and republicans have come together to enact the first step act. it was an historic piece of reform legislation to create new path ways for prison inmates to better themselves while they
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serve their time so they can return to society once released. nearly three years later, the bureau of prisons still hasn't implemented most of these reforms. under the first step act low-risk inmates are eligible to earn time, they can do this by being involved in programs. the bureau of prisons has not applied these earned time credits to any of the approximately 60,000 eligible inmates. now the senate judiciary committee, which i chair, is charged with overseeing the bureau of prisons. we've tried to get answers from director cavval and his team and asked for information and details about the inmate banking system. there's a heck of a story. purportedly has little oversight by the bureau of prison, has allowed inmates to avoid paying child support and other obligations.
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the bureau reportedly allowed larry nassar, the doctor who abused hundreds of gymnasts, to spend thousands of dollars from his bureau prison account on himself but pay only $300 to the debt that he owes his victims. the bureau has yet to respond to our questions. it is past time to replace director carval. lives are literally at stake. i know attorney general garland understands the urgency. i am calling on him toll move immediately to dismiss director carvajal from the bureau of prisons. i yield the floor.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are
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not. mr. cornyn: mr. president, in my lifetime, the people's republic of china has gone from a poor and isolated country to one that now accounts for 20% of global domestic product. mr. cornyn: there's no question that the driving force behind this dramatic shift is the ruthlessness of the chinese communist party led by president xi. the c.c.p.'s ruling strategy can best be described as a win at all costs which means that china never thinks twice about disregarding basic values and international norms. but there's no question that the most immediate and grave threat are against countries close to
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china's borders. last month i led a congressional delegation to visit the indo-pacific to learn more from the people on the ground doing the hard work about the challenges they face and that we face in the indo-pacific. in my conversations with leaders in the philippines, taiwan, and india, i noticed they used a different vocabulary to describe china's behavior than what we here in washington, d.c. they didn't just talk about china's ambitions. they warned of its threat, of aggression -- threats of aggression. they didn't just share concerns about china's unification with taiwan. they spoke of the potential for an invasion. they didn't just bring up human rights abuses. they condemned the blatant genocide committed against the uighurs and other ethnic
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minorities in china. words matter, of course, and the soft lexicon that's often used to describe the chinese communist party and the people's republic of china here in the united states and particularly inside the beltway has the potential to create a false impression about china's objectives. and it plays right into their hand. i think we should not continue to downplay the risks to the global world order and to peace itself by what china is doing. this isn't just a government interested in competing with the united states and other countries by playing by the rules of the international order. the chinese communist party is an aggressive, even belligerent and hostile power that has made economic gains through stealing intellectual property and other
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activities that belie its ambitions, its stated ambitions to become part of the liberal world order. for example, it squashes opposition by committing genocide against its own people and muzzling, even murdering dissidents. china has literally become a police state where the volumes of data that they have vacuumed up in that country and the ubiquitous technical surveillance as mainly cameras that chronicle every aspect of the lives of their citizens and the use of things like artificial intelligence have allowed them to essentially control everything that goes on in china. and these are the same tools that they intend to use on other parts of the world. well, we know china has spent a lot of money developing its
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military resources. it is -- it has come a long way while the united states and other countries were focused post-9/11 on the global war on terror, while we were focused on the middle east, the p.r.c. and the c.c.p. wasted no time in rebuilding their capabilities from a military standpoint. and they are now aggressively claiming other parts of the region, not just taiwan but contested islands in the south china sea that are claimed by japan, by the philippines, and other countries as well. well, as i mentioned, one of the greatest looming threats in the region is a potential invasion of taiwan by the people's republic of china. of course, as you can see,
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taiwan is just a small island of about 24 million people just off the coast of mainland china. it's not much larger than the state of maryland. in every possible way you can imagine, taiwan is a stark contrast with china. for one, it's a true democracy. voters go to the polls with the confidence that the election results are not predetermined. successful businesses and there are many of them are built on good, old fashion hard work, not government favoritism. and the people in taiwan, the republic of china, enjoy the same freedoms we do here in the united states. freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly. taiwan has been a self-governing entity for more than 70 years, but the chinese communist party falsely asserts that the island
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republic is part of its territory. indeed, taiwan faces china as the last outpost of democracy standing watch against authoritarianism. our congressional delegation met with the commander of the indo-pacific command who described the current power dynamic rather succinctly. he said it's not a question of if china moves on taiwan but a question of when. indeed, the language we heard from our military leadership and others in the region was far more urgent in terms of the threat of the people's republic of china against taiwan than anything i've heard here in washington, d.c. according to our top military leaders, we have an idea how long xi might wait. he himself has said he wants to be ready by 2027, but there's
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absolutely no guarantee that president xi and the communist chinese party of the people's republic of china, there's no guarantee they won't move at another time of their choosing. as i said, taiwan is not the only nation on the c.c.p.'s list. china has territorial claims against a number of its neighbors. if you closed your eyes and just threw a dart at this region, you'd likely hit one or more of those contested areas. japan, the philippines, vietnam, india, all of those countries claim sovereign territory that is also contested and claimed by the chinese communist party of the people's republic of china. of course, it hadn't been -- it hasn't even been 25 years since china took control of hong kong under the one country-two
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systems framework. china had promised hong kong would remain -- would retain a high degree of autonomy for at least a half a century, but obviously beijing eroded the freedoms and independence of hong kong to the point of basically hijacking that city and that entity. the indian minister of foreign affairs in delhi told our delegation that taiwan isn't the problem. it's a china problem. i think he's got a point. in other words, what's at stake here is much larger than the future of just one nation. it's the entire scope of beijing's power and its ambitions in the region. taiwan is not the final goal. it's the next step in a quest to reach regional dominance taiwan will likely be the first target
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because it's been identified by president xi and the communist chinese party, but it certainly won't be the last. i think it would be the ultimate naivety for us to think well, this is just about taiwan. it's not just about taiwan. china will continue to threaten, intimidate, and unfortunately, i think ultimately threaten and invade its neighbors. if that aggression goes unchecked, the c.c.p.'s power grab will reach further and further. plus, mr. president, i believe in the power of deterrence. what ronald reagan called peace through strength. nobody wants a military conflict in this region, nobody. if the c.c.p. can attain its goals without a shot being fired, they will try to do that. they're already trying to do that. but the fact of the matter is if the people's republic of china and the chinese communist party
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were to conduct a military invasion of taiwan, there are a multitude of risks of mistakes, miscalculations, and other dangers that could lead to a larger conflict. and i believe we have a responsibility in the united states to make sure to the extent humanly possible that that does not happen. we want peace but we also want to stand up to the kind of aggression that we are seeing in practice and being threatened in the indo-pacific region. i believe that countering and first confronting the threats from the p.r.c. is one of the greatest national security imperatives of our generation. russia obviously is a significant power mainly because it holds nuclear weapons. but it mainly tries to find places where the united states is having a hard time and tries to make those situations more challenging for us.
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it doesn't compare to the chinese communist party and the p.r.c. in terms of its regional ambitions. its attempt to project its power and its control over the region. we need to reorient the way that our country views and responds to this threat, and i believe that time is of the essence. as i said, some people have said that president xi could wait to as late as 2027 to try to take taiwan. but there's no guarantee that it couldn't happen earlier if they deem it an opportunity to exist for them to do so. the long e-bay jing is treated as a reasonnal goal oriented country by the international community, the more aggressive it will become. one seemingly small step we must take is to describe china's actions with accurate terms. we can't do the c.c.p. any favor
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using watered down euphemisms like human rights abuses when what we're really talking about is genocide. here in the senate as we know, words are important, but those words need to be accompanied with action. we'll soon vote on the national defense authorization act which will help us raise the issue and visibility of this potential conflict and raise the opportunity for deterrence in response to growing threats posed by china. we can do good work here on the defense authorization bill to raise the cost to the p.r.c. in the event they decided to invade taiwan. the defense authorization act includes a bipartisan bill i introduced with senator duckworth called the taiwan partnership act. this bill would establish a partnership, a formal partnership between the u.s.
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national guard and the taiwanese defense forces to strengthen taiwan's preparedness. should troops need to deploy quickly in the event of a crisis, they would be armed with the same knowledge and skills as our dedicated u.s. national guardsmen. this would also help taiwan build up much of its asymmetric defenses. the defense authorization act also includes legislation i introduced with senator king from maine to ensure that the united states and taiwan can improve defense intraop intraoperability. there shouldn't be any barriers it cooperating on important security measures like integrated air and missile defense systems. the defense authorization act includes other provisions to increase defense cooperation with taiwan and equip the u.s. indo-pacific command with greater resources. it also ensures that the united states will take a stronger approach and confront the
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threats being made by the chinese communist party. this is not a partisan issue, as you can tell. after the delegation i led to taipei, it was followed on by a bipartisan coalition mainly from members of the house, and i think it's absolutely critical that that spirit of bipartisanship and the reality of bipartisanship continue to exist when it comes to the threat posed by the people's republic of china and the chinese communist party. so i appreciate colleagues on both sides of the aisle who have championed the provisions i've mentioned and those who may have other ideas about how we can deter acts of aggression, not only against taiwan but against other countries in the region, when it comes to disputed islands and other territory. i want to thank chairman reed, ranking member inhofe and our colleagues on the armed services committee for all the work they've put into this bill so far.
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one of our most solemn responsibilities is to provide for the common defense, and this is the best way to ensure that our national defense is prepared to meet the challenges on the horizon. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. cotton: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: jerome powell was a better choice for federal reserve chair. he has presided over a series of
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failures at the fed but the fed's actions during his tenure have harmed working-class americans and worsened inequality. the senate should not support his renomination. the core mission of the federal reserve from the very beginning has been to foster stable prices and ensure sound currency. no one -- no one -- can seriously argue that the fed has accomplished this mission under mr. powell's leadership. after years of reckless policy and months of obfuscation, inflation now exceeds 6%, the highest rate of inflation in 30 years. the highest rate of inflation in 30 years. and inflationary economy rewards wealthy speculators. like, for instance, the federal government or giant corporations, but it ruins responsible citizens who are just trying to save for their
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retirements or maybe their kids' colleges. in the worst-case scenario, the value of the dollar can collapse endangering society itself. let catastrophic conditions, americans who have played by the rules for many years responsibly working and saving see the value of their money slowly erode over time. nearly half of all americans have no exposure whatsoever to the stock market. not a single stock or mutual fund or pension. no exposure to the stock market. their money is usually held in low-interest checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, even cash. so the fed's, extreme low-interest rate policy means their thrift and prudence earns them nothing. itest is them back every day with this inflationary spiral because money outside of the stock market loses money every
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day when inflation is at 30-year highs and interest rates at near record lows. 6% inflation has totally wiped out any nominal wage gains for workers. in fact, inflation-adjusted weekly earnings are down 1.6% compared to a year ago. down from last year when employers across the country report shortages of workers. that's because inflation is eating away at all those wage gains. and there's no guarantee that inflation at% is the ceiling. -- at 6% is the ceiling. still,ed fed has refused to change course, even as prices rose an everything from groceries to gasoline, chairman pollinosissed for months that the pain was -- chairman powell insisted for months that the pain was so transitory.
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inflation would simply vanish once we got the delta variant under control. but after months of skyrocketing prices, chairman powell's confidence looks not only misplaced and misinformed but reckless. this week mr. powell admitted that he would retire -- retire -- the word transitory, a very word that he helped to popularize. if only american families could only so easily retire the devastating effects of inflation on their monthly budgets. mr. powell has directly cricketed to this in-- directly contributed to this inflation. the federal had already exhausted the normal tools of monetary policy when the pandemic hit last spring. it had to prop up the economy through unprecedented levels of
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government intervention. these policies, while perhaps justified for a very brief period of uncertainty in the spring of 20 -- very brief -- policies which included huge purchases of government bonds, mortgage debt, and corporate debt, but they were not justified after that, just as they weren't justified before it. even as the fed was continuing unparalleled levels of quantitative easing. as a result, the fed's balance sheet has ballooned to $9 trillion, and it continues to grow by more than $100 billion a month. $9 trillion. let me put that in perspective. the fed's balance sheet after the financial crisis barely surpassed $2 trillion. the chief result of these policies during the pandemic has been to boost asset prices,
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especially the stock market valuations of giant corporations. but the price of these gains has been inflation, which especially harms work being-class americans. -- working-class americans. after releasing a torrent into the economy, it is no surprise that prices are rising in this flood of cheap money. this week chairman powell testified that he might, he might unwind these policies a little faster than previously planned. but even if the fed follows through -- and i will believe it when i see it, after the last many years of radical emergency monetary policy -- it will still be too little and too late. the simple fact is, the fed, under chairman powell's leadership, has forced millions of american families to choose whether to pay the mortgage for feed their families or heat their homes or fill up the gas
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tank or buy a couple other christmas presents. that is a failure. while inflation is the fed's worst failure under chairman powell, it's not their only failure, as a time when they cannot achieve their core mission of price stability, they are adopting ancillary missions, like woke activism at the fed. the fed has joined an international effort devoted to greening the financial system, whatever that means. fed branches around the country are even spreading critical race theory claiming that terms like founding fathers and blacklist are biased, and sharing radical materials that claim -- and this is a direct quote of some of the materials fed branches have shared -- race-neutral policies uphold racism. think about that. the fed's core mission is to maintain price stability. while they fail on that mission, they're teaching their employees that race-neutral policies are
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racist. now, we might chuckle and shake our heads and have a good laugh when this kind of nonsense happened at some college campus, but now it is happening at the nation's central bank which ends up determining whether we end up rich or poor. this mission-creep is alarming, especially when the fed is failing to fulfill its core mission. i know many people have made excuses for the fed and defending mr. powell's tenure. they said it is not his fault. it is true that the democrats have been spending trillions of dollars this year that we don't have, but as bill parcel said about nfl teams, you are what your record says you are. the fed's record is 6% inflation, the worst inflation in 30 years. most americans live in a world of accountability and consequences. the lack of which is one of the
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things they hate most about washington. failure in washington is too often rewarded. the fed has manifestly failed during chairman powell's tenure, further skewing our economy in favor of the wealth chit while the working -- in favor of the wealthy while the working class suffers. jerome powell is not the right choice to continue leading the federal reserve. mr. chairman, i yield the floor. and i notest -- and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i come to the floor to talk about the defense bill currently before the senate and i noticed the majority leader made some complaints about substantive, timely and important amendments that are being offered by my colleagues. he was particularly agitated it seems about an amendment dealing with communist china. the united states senate has a lot of work to do by the end of the year. we need to fund the government. we need to prevent a shutdown. we need to deal with the debt ceiling. democrats are going to need to lift that. we immediate to make sure that our -- we need to make sure our troops are funded and we deal with the defense bill. these are some of the important issues that are before the senate. here we are near the end of the year scrambling to get it all done in just a couple of weeks. no way to run the united states
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senate. we haven't had an appropriations bill brought to the floor all year. and the defense bill has been sitting in limbo for months. the armed serviceses committee actually finished marking up this bill in july. it's a bipartisan bill, passed the vote in the committee by 23-3. things don't get a lot more bipartisan than that. typically the senate starts working on the defense bill, and then negotiates over the next couple of months. we start in june. but instead we've gone months and months and months. we've seen the disastrous collapse and fall and withdrawal in afghanistan, and yet no defense bill on the floor of the united states senate. so what did the democrats try to do instead? they pushed a very partisan agenda, brought to the floor two bills on election takeovers takeovers, and the democrats also seem to be very obsessed
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with their own bill they want to call build back better, something like that. i tell you, it's a bill that's going to break the backs of american families. so now here we are just at the deadline. the majority leader has finally got around to a bill that has to do with supporting the troops. it seems to me that's like a kid with a term paper that's due tomorrow, it's the night before, going to start writing the term paper. if you want to get it right, it takes a longer process than that. it's a long process generally because it's that important for the nation. every senator wants to be involved. yet, through the procrastination by the majority leader, the defense bill has been delayed. now i made the case, mr. president, that frankly national security has been a very low priority of this president and this administration and this, and
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the majority party in the house and in the senate. and the reason i say that, exhibit a is the fact that the budget that president biden proposed when he came in to office -- and let's be frank, the budget he proposed was a massive super sizing of the size of the federal government. more money for this, more money for that, more money for everything except for two items alone. only two items in the entire federal budget came in to grow at a rate less than inflation. less than inflation. what were those two items? defense and homeland security. that tells me how this administration prioritizes the role of our nation's security for our country. so finally we've gotten to work on this bill, and there are some concerns because amendments need to be voted on, debated,
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brought to this floor. i introduced an amendment with the ranking member of the foreign relations committee to sanction the nord stream 2 pipeline. a bipartisan agreement that that pipeline needed to be sanctioned and we've been fighting for that together in a bipartisan way through multiple administrations. this is vladimir putin's pipeline which joe biden has given the stamp of approval. it is a weapon that putin is going to be using to hold half of europe hostage. and under what this administration has been doing on energy, penalizing american energy production and begging putin to produce more and sell it to us, this has been a jackpot for vladimir putin. our amendment would do the right thing and block this president, this president's present to vladimir putin, a christmas present. and this is at a time when joe biden inflation that we have many americans worrying if they're going to be able to
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afford to buy christmas presents. this is no time for our nation to give this present to vladimir putin. republican senator from ohio introduced an important amendment to provide lethal aid to ukraine. vladimir putin has 100,000 troops right now staged on the border with ukraine. we're going to stand by ukraine and pass that amendment. the senator from mt. montana has an amendment to block joe biden from sending $400,000 to the families of illegal immigrants. an open border is a threat to our national security and these payments would cause a mad rush, if not a stampede to the country and into the country the way the border has been left open. there are lots of important amendments, and we ought to be having a fair and open debate. this is supposed to be the greatest deliberative body in the world, and yet the majority leader has tried to cut off
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debate on some of the most important issues facing our nation. why? because we can hear the clock ticking. that's why. he dragged his feet for months, and now he wants to force us into a mad dash to close this. look, it's a disservice to our troops. it's a disservice to our allies. it's a disservice to the people of our nation. and yet, this morning the majority leader is pointing his finger. he came to the p floor, he attacked republicans. we didn't make him delay this bill for month after month after month. this is a choice that the majority leader has made. it does seem that the other democrats have basically higher priorities than our nation's defense. election takeovers, new entitlements, amnesty for illegal immigrants. it's no way to govern, no way to make important decisions, no way to run the united states senate. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i urge my colleagues to join me in confirming brian nelson to serve as under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes in the department of treasury. mr. nelson is highly qualified. he's had years of dedicated public service to our country. earlier in his career he clerked for two distinguished federal judges, he served at the national security division at the department of justice first as special counsel to the assistant attorney general for national security, later as the division's deputy chief of staff. in these roles, mr. nelson supported the development, the
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implementation, the coordination, and the review of u.s. intelligence, counterintelligence, counterterrorism and national security policies. he went to work for the california department of justice where he served as special assistant attorney general, and then as general counsel then-attorney general, now vice president harris. he worked to combat threats like human and drug trafficking by prosecuting international criminals, starving them of their financial resources. as under secretary, mr. nelson will be responsible for protecting our financial system from terrorists, from rogue states, money laundering, money launderers, weapons, proliferators and other criminals who threaten our national security. his nomination is another example of the biden administration's serious, underline serious efforts to protect both our economy and our national security. he takes on this job as a critical time for protecting our country's national securities. we work to rebuild alliances abroad while threats of domestic
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terrorism are on the rise at home. the treasury's office of terrorism and financial intelligence is one of the cornerstones of our country's efforts. that's the importance of this nomination of mr. nelson. one of our country's efforts to combat terrorist financing here and around the world. the f.b.i. director recently testified that racially motivated and antigovernment extremists are likely to be the biggest domestic threat this year and in 2022. think about that. the f.b.i. direct tor testified racially motivated and antigovernment extremists -- and we remember that day so well, just ten months ago, 111 months ago -- 11 months ago, are the likely biggest domestic threats to our country this year and next year. mr. nelson will be the first african american serving in this important position, when we have people in these roles who reflect the country they serve, we get better, more competent government. that's what always flummoxes me
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about hiring practices in this body and around the country, when you hire people that don't necessarily look like you, you get a better office that understands different perspectives, that understands better the way the country works, and helps us better to the people whom we serve. unfortunately we've seen far too many of this administration's nominees held up for months in the nomination process. you just heard an example in the speech just before me, not because of their background or experience or qualifications. those are unquestioned in mr. nelson. but for reasons completely unrelated to that nomination. that's what's happened here. it is the kind of partisan posturing that the american people hate. blocking nominees for months over unrelated policy issues is counterproductive, it is misguided and wrong for our country. going after international criminals of all kinds is a partisan issue.
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let's come together today, confirm mr. nelson, he is exceptionally well-qualified. he is joined today by his wife and his son. i urge this body to support mr. nelson's nomination, getting in place right away an important part of our national security team. mr. president, under the agreement reached by the two leaders on november 16, the senate will now vote on confirmation of the nelson nomination. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the nelson nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of the treasury, brian eddie nelson of california to be under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes. the presiding officer: the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
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vote:
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the presiding officer: on this vote, the yeas are 50, the nays are 49. the nomination is confirmed. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, pursuant to senate res. 27, the senate judiciary committee being tied on the question of reporting, i move to discharge the senate judiciary committee from further consideration of the nomination of rachel rollins to be the united states attorney for the district of
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massachusetts. under the provisions of s. res. 27, there will now -- sorry, i don't want to be the chair. the presiding officer: under the provisions of s.r.27, there will now be four hours of debate on the motion equally divided between the two leaders or her designees with no motions, points of order or amendment in order. mr. schumer: for the information of all senators, we expect the vote on the motion to discharge to occur later this afternoon. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, as always happens near these kick-the-can funding deadlines we're now approaching, there's controversy surrounding what will and what will not make it into the continuing resolution. that is, the legislation funding the government for a finite period of time upon the expiration of the spending
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period. in the house of representatives, the debate and the controversy continued late into last night and may well still continue later today. here in the senate, there are a number of senators, including me, who are not inclined to give consent to expedite a funding measure that supports and funds president biden's unconstitutional and sweeping very much mandate without -- vaccine mandate without holding a vote on that mandate and whether we should fund that part of the government charged with enforcing it. now, to be very clear about all of this, senator schumer, as the majority leader, could have done this without our help if he had started this process weeks ago or even days ago. he could have held votes and passed this resolution without needing to ask for the help of
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those of us who feel this way. who are not inclined to help him do it. senator schumer is in a biden due to his own delay and denial. he's asking all of us to help him. i'm offered a very simple solution, a very reasonable solution. i'm not asking that a poison pill or a pet project be included. no, i'm not asking for dramatically reforms. or draconian cuts. far from it. i just want to vote on one amendment. i want the members of this body to go on record on whether p they support funding in this bill, president biden's vaccine mandate. the american people have right to know through our votes where we stand and where we stand in connection with this bill 0en a germane amendment, one that pertains to that. a simple up-or-down, yes or no, a simple majority vote. that's all i'm asking. let me first explain a little
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bit about the recent history of this situation. while those involved in this effort have been accused by many in elected office and in the press of brinksmanship, we've been nothing but consistent and clear and open about our position for weeks now -- in fact, for a month. on november 3, a group of senators, 15 of us, in fact, declared our intentions, sending this letter to senator schumer. and in this letter, we made very clear that we, quote, will not support and will use all means at our disposal to oppose legislation that funds or in any way allows the enforcement of president biden's employer vaccine mandate, close quote. now, 15 senators have signed this letter, and there it is right there in black and white,
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the words that i just read in that letter from a month ago. the letter, again, written back in the beginning of november, specifically mentioned this funding deadline, the one that we're now approaching, the one that's hitting us tomorrow night. as one for senator schumer and our colleagues to be aware of that we made our intentions clear. we did so out of courtesy to the majority leader and to those we represent, the american people, those who will be affected by these matters. now, as a matter of political convenience, he and others are saying that their unwillingness to come to the table, which is the reason we're now approaching the deadline without an agreement, somehow amounts to an act of brinksmanship on our part. that portrayal is disingenuous,
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and it's wrong. after running out the clock, knowingly, deliberately not come coming to the table to negotiate and ignore our clear public position, new hampshire schumer is now accusing us -- senator schumer is now accusing us of wanting to shut down the government because we refuse to help him cram through a bill that we've already specifically stated we're against. we're providing every opportunity to avoid a shutdown, and all we ask for is a simple up-or-down vote. now, i stand by the commitment i made not to support, grant consent to pass or expedite a measure that funds, supports, our allows for the enforcement of the president's vaccine mandates. now, it's true that the u.s. court of appeals for the fifth circuit has issued an order halting enforcement of the osha
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mandate and that osha has temporarily halted the enforcement of that particular mandate but it does not remove our obligation here in congress to protect our constitutional role and to prevent unconstitutional measures, laws, and regulations from afflicting the american people. we still don't know the final outcome of that litigation. and, in any event, we have an independent responsibility, constitutionally and morally, to make sure that what we do here as our oversight and that we don't spend money on things that most americans find abhorrent. each of us did in fact swear an oath to the constitution, and the constitution does not grant the federal government the authority to implement a mandate of this sort. it just doesn't. you can search it. you will not find that authority. the constitution certainly does
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not grant the president of the united states the authority to implement such a mandate without the explicit authorization of the people's elected lawmakers in congress. make no mistake, this mandate is not only immoral, it's also unconstitutional. for that reason alone, i must oppose it. but, mr. president, the harms certainly don't stop with the damage that's being done to our constitutional order. millions of americans are at risk of losing their jobs due to this mandate. while court orders are offering at least a temporary protection, these americans are still anxiously awaiting lasting protections from congress. and currently could receive at a moment's notice the final ultimatum to be vaccinated or
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lose their jobs. in fact, in fear of the huge fines that the biden administration is threatening against businesses that don't comply against the mandate is enforced, many companies are already enforcing these requirements 0en their workers. countless businesses and hundreds of utahans are at risk of dismissal have reached out to me. their stories are heart-wrenching. they're good people, our friends and our neighbors. they're neighborhood businesses and american manufacturers, mothers and fathers trying to get by in increasingly difficult economic times. there are millions of them across the country, over a half a million workers in utah alone, who are at risk of unemployment due to this mandate. as i've said each time i've spoken on this, i'm not against
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the vaccine. in fact, i've gotten the vaccine. my family has gotten the vaccine. i've encourage people to get the vaccine. i am against the mandate. i recognize that these vaccines are protecting americans from the harms of covid-19 and that the government has no business, no authority, and no justification to make millions of americans second-class, unemployable pariahs. even if the federal government did have that authority -- which it doesn't -- the president of the united states could not exercise it unilaterally, not without an act of congress. our economic condition is increasingly dire. inflation is becoming long lasting. the supply chain crisis has shown the prime value of american workers. you know, i can't think of a worse time to kick them to the
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curb. i want to be very clear. i don't want to shut down the government. the only thing i want to shut down is congress funding enforcement of an immoral, unconstitutional vaccine mandate. however, if the choice is between temporarily suspending nonessential functions, on the one hand, and on the other hand standing idle as up to 45 million americans lose their jobs, their live lynnhoods and their ability to -- their livelihoods and their ability to work, i'll stand with american workers every time. that's not a close question. so, mr. president, i stand with american workers. throughout utah and across america. i stand with moms and dads needing gifts and paychecks before the holidays.
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i stand by what i and others committed to as our word, that word given a month ago without response. i want support, a continuing resolution that funds president biden's grievous, immoral, unconstitutional vaccine mandate. i just want to vote on it in connection with this spending bill. all i'm asking for is a vote. it would take 15 minutes. we could do it right now in fact. if senator schumer wants to avoid this vote so badly that he will shut down the government rather than hold it, he should explain why. we can fix the situation right now. let's hold a vote. let's hold it right now. thank you, mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. i'm on the floor today to ask for unanimous consent from my
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colleagues to proceed to h.r. 8, the house-passed bipartisan comprehensive background checks bill, and i want to tell you why i'm making this request. i understand the low likelihood of success. but i hope many of my colleagues took a minute to watch cell phone video from the school shooting in michigan yesterday -- on tuesday, excuse me. absolutely terrifying to watch, in realtime, children fleeing their classroom in fear that their lives were about to be ended. 100 9-1-1 calls came in to the police during the shooting. surveillance shooting reportedly shows the shooter entering the bathroom with a backpack, then
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exiting without the backpack but a handgun. he started firing and then he quote quote methodically and deliberately aimed his gun at classrooms with students unable to escape. we think about the number of lives lost so far and those that were injured, but really the damage is so much broader because all of those kids who fleed that violence, all of those kids who now don't think of school as a safe place, they are going through trauma and will go through trauma that will take a lifetime to address. and multiply that times millions, because that's what is happening to kids all across this country who don't feel school is a safe place any longer, who don't think their neighborhoods are a safe place any longer, who grow up in parts of this country in which everyday gun violence is routine. they don't believe they'll live past the age of 25. the damage happening across this country is acute, it is real, it is pervasive. this is an epidemic of gun
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violence that exists in the united states and nowhere else. the risk, though, is that this country thinks about gun violence only when there is a mass shooting or only when there is a shooting at a school. on tuesday, the same day that the country was captivated by these terrifying images out of oxford high school, in taylor, texas, four bodies were found at a home in that town after an apparent murder-suicide. police said that anthony davis, 57-year-old, shot and killed his wife, his wife's stepchild stepchild, and the stepchild's romantic acquaintance. four people dead in taylor, texas. nobody knows about that nationally. nobody knows about the other 50 to 100 people who died of gun violence on tuesday. this happens every single day in this country at a rate ten times higher than any other country in the high-income world. it only happens in the united
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states of america. and we let it happen as a body. we let it happen as a body, because it is not that we are unlucky in the united states. this is a policy choice that we make. and let's be honest, the reason that we can't get anything done in the senate is not because there is a disagreement amongst our constituents about what to do. our constituents, republicans and democrats, support measures like universal background checks. in fact, there's almost nothing in the political world that enjoys such high support as universal background checks. 80%, 90% of americans, the majority of republicans, democrats, gun owners, nongun owners support universal background checks. but we can't get it done because it seems as if many of my colleagues here care more about the health of the gun industry and their profits than they do about the health of our kids. gun industry profits are being
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put ahead of safety of my children, of our children. shooting after shooting, republicans in this body have refused to do anything meaningful that would reduce this pace of carnage both in our schools, but on the streets of america. and as i said, it's not as if we don't know what the answer is. let me give you a remarkable statistic. so in 2020, we saw a pretty substantial increase in violent crime across the country. that increase was about 5%, and a lot of that was gun crime. gun crime went up by 25% during 2020. but let's break down that number between the states that have universal background checks and the states that don't have universal background checks. five percent overall increase in violent crime in the united states, but in 2020 in states
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that did not have and don't have universal background checks, meaning a criminal can get a gun at a gun show or online without any background check, in those states violent crime went up 8% higher than the national average. what about the states like connecticut that have universal background checks, where we make sure everybody gets a background check before they buy a gun? in those states, violent crime went up in 2020 by less than 1%. that's pretty stunning. on a percentage basis, violent crime goes up by eight times the level in states without universal background checks as in states with universal background checks. and i can just run through the litany of studies that show the difference in murder rates, in gun crime between states that have universal background checks and those that don't. one of the most recent stidz from 2019, a harvard study shows a 15% difference.
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now that's surprising because no matter how strong connecticut's background checks law is, states that don't have background checks end up allowing people to buy guns there, and they come into connecticut. until we have a national requirement that everybody go through a background check before they buy a gun at a sale, there is nothing connecticut can do to make itself completely immune to the epidemic of illegal guns. so that's why we're on the floor today, myself, senator blume blume -- senator blumenthal and senator durbin to ask our colleagues to pass into law a bipartisan piece of legislation that has already passed the house of representatives. this is a bill that would expand background checks to all sales in this country, with certain exceptions for transfers between
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immediately family members. this is a bill, as i mentioned, that is supported by the vast majority of americans, one of the most popular policy proposals that exists in this country today, and it will save lives. i mentioned the shooting in texas because one of the critiques of this proposal often is, well, it wouldn't have stopped the last mass shooting. i don't claim that this proposal nor any other proposal to change the nation's gun laws will have an effect on every single shooting, but the data is the data. these are the statistics. this proposal is the most impactful when a state takes it. universal background checks save lives, decreases gun violence, decreases violent crime. the loss of life when it's a shooting on the streets of new haven, one person being shot, that is just as shattering to the lives of the people who love that victim as is a mass shooting. and so i am hopeful that the senate will make the decision
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today to pass this bill into law. i understand the chances are slim to none, that this unanimous consent request will be adopted, but i am at my wit's end. i'm at my wit's end. i'm prepared to use whatever means i have as an individual senator to come down here and try to press this case forward. so i will ask at this point, knowing the senator from iowa is on the floor, as if in legislative session, i would request unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 8, the bipartisan background checks act of 2021 which was received from the house. further that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. grassley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: reserving the right to object, and i'd like to give some remarks, i want to start out with a process
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question to all 100 senators. obviously this is an important issue with a lot of people. democrats control every committee in this body, and this bill is being offered when it could be brought up in the committee under regular order because they control the agendas of, in this case the judiciary committee. so why hasn't that come up? then i would remind people in 2013 that we actually had a vote on a grassley-cruz amendment that got the most votes so far of any gun issues in, i think, the year 2013. so now let's get to the issue that was brought up today by the
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senator from connecticut, and let me say that we've got to have real regard for the position he takes because of the tragedy that happened in his state in 2012. nobody's going to justify that. if they did, they would be crazy for trying to say that something bad like that happened, that it's not a crisis for everybody. so let me start off by saying in regard to what happened in michigan, the senseless tragedy that we saw in that state should not have happened. the shooter, as we've been told, killed four and injured others in a shocking act of violence. i cannot imagine what those families of victims are going through, because i guess you'd have to go through it to try to
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get their feeling about it. you see it expressed on television, but it doesn't make the same impact on the people that are listening that it makes on the family of the victims. difficult topics require across-the-aisle conversations, particularly when you have to have 60 votes to get anything done in this body. and i'd invite my colleagues across the aisle to have a bipartisan conversation on this topic and a lot of related topics to it. violent crime and violence at schools are serious problems. i've supported legislative efforts to improve the national instant criminal background check system which we call nics. for example, i introduced the eagles act, a bipartisan bill that would help reauthorize the u.s. secret service's national
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assessment center where they study targeted violence and probe -- proactively identify and manage threats before they result in tragedies. ho -- however in regard to the motion before us, i have serious concerns about the bill raised by the senator from connecticut. this bill is hostile towards lawful gun owners and lawful firearm transactions. this will not solve the problems that it seeks to solve. so-called universal background checks will not prevent crime and will turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals. i've introduced legislation, along with senators cruz and tillis, called protecting communities and preserving the second-amendment act. our bill will be much more effective than the underlying
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bill and has been supported by a majority of the senate in the past, and i think that's the same thing i was referring to, a vote that got a majority but not 60 votes in 2013. but the democrat leadership has blocked that approach, which i assume they will do again today. this legislation, s. 1775, would reauthorize and improve nics, increase resources for prosecution of gun crime and address mental illness in the criminal justice system, which if it had been addressed properly in the case of the parkland florida shooting, that individual that had been identified, i think somewheres between 30 and 40 times, as having serious mental issues. if he had been identified, he
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would have been in the nics system and not able to buy that gun. and that's just one thing, mental illness being a problem and this legislation would also strengthen criminal law by including straw purchasing and illegal firearms trafficking. it does that without burdening any second-amendment rights of americans. in addition, this bill would require a commission to study and report to congress the underlying causes and triggers for mass shootings. the commission and study proposal could not come at a more important time, and i urge my colleagues to support this legislation that i will suggest to the senate on a u.c. request. therefore, mr. president, i ob to the motion that you've asked -- you -- you ask u.c. on.
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the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: mr. president, i know the senator has his own u.c. request. i will say two things quickly. not -- surprised, but disappointed by that objection. we need 60 votes to pass legislation like h.r. 8 before this body. but i think as the senator knows, with senator durbin's guidance, i've been involved in multiple rounds of talks with republican senators throughout the year about trying to find some common ground. i think anyone who has been a part of those talks, i've been willing to bend, i've been willing to compromise, i will not let perfect be the enemy of the good. if the senator would like to join those talks or sit down, count me in. but so far, a year into maybe
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the most deadly year in my political lifetime with respect to gun violence, i haven't been able to find one republican taker for a compromise on the issue of background checks. and i will gladly send to the senator the reames of data showing that background checks do make a difference as i cited just in 2020, we see the difference between states that have background checks and those that don't. i look forward to continuing that conversation. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: as if in legislative session, i would ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 62, which is s. 1775, the protecting communities and preserving the second amendment act of 2021. further, that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and that the the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.
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the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. murphy: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: reserving the right to object. let me concede there are some laudable pieces to this legislation. it's not new to the body as senator grassley mentioned. this is something that has received a vote. but in large part it is a massive contraction of the universal background check system, rather than what americans support, which is an expansion of the background check system. let me give you two examples. in this legislation there would be a change in law made such that for individuals who are subject to psyche at rick -- psychiatric confinement, the minute they leave that, they get their gun rights restored. the law says that if you were so mentally ill, you have been in-patient, you don't get the gun rights restored unless
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petitioned. those judged mentally incompetent, this is a regulatory term, not my term, for individuals determined mentally incompetent by a government agency, they would have their gun rites re -- gun rights restored. this amendment, while it has important pieces to it, in large part is a massive contraction of the number of background checks done in this country. and for that reason, i would object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. grassley: i made the request. there isn't any objection so the bill passes. the presiding officer: no, objection is heard. mr. grassley: before i give up the floor, i'd like to suggest that we could start sitting down with the senator from connecticut and a lot of other senators that are interested in this issue, both on the
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republican side and the democratic side, with the legislation that i've suggested. the other thing i'd like to comment on, just to clarify the senator's statement about the recapture of gun rights under our bill, he's right but you've got to look at why those second-amendment rights were taken away in the first place. and i think it's the same principle that applies to people that have gone through the social security system and the people that have gone through the v.a. system. that as simple as a little thing that you've got to have a third party handle your finances for your family or whatever finances you are, you've got to have a third party to do it. that name gets put in the nics system and it shouldn't be there because you can't handle your finances, that has nothing to do that you ought to be denied your second-amendment rights.
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and so our legislation provides a process to make sure that the due process of the second-amendment rights have been denied can be recaptured so they can have the bill of rights as was intended. i yield the floor. mr. blumenthal: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thanks, mr. president. i wish i could end this exchange on a hopeful note. i've come here so many times wishing an exchange like this one could lead to progress. and we've offered again and again and again the senator from connecticut on background checks, myself on red flag or emergency risk orders, on ethan's law on safe storage, on a myriad of proposals to sit down with our colleagues and engage in the kind of constructive and positive
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dialogue that senator grassley has suggested. and have yielded nothing. and the reason they've yielded nothing is essentially that, unfortunately our republican colleagues remain in the grip of a lobby -- the gun lobby, which is waning in its impact across the country but still maintains its grip in this chamber. that's the grip we need to break. that's the grip that will be broken through the democratic process if the american people have their way. and the american people are changing in their view. in fact, there is now a political movement. it is composed of the young people, march for our lives, hoff suffered in parkland,
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florida, when they saw the same kind of shooting and suffered the same kind of trauma that those students did in oakland county, michigan. and again and again and again this tragedy has been repeated in schools across our country. we are here again in grief and sorrow for the lives taken by gun violence, needlessly and violently four young people madisyn baldwin, 17, just inn sylvan, tate meyers, 16, shot multiple times as my colleague from connecticut has described it in that video, among many others, trying to escape. six other students and a teacher
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were injured and their community is reeling from this horror, a horror of blood and flesh and lives cut short forever. and their loved ones have joined a club, as it has been called, a club nobody wants to join, nobody wants to be admitted. in just 12 days -- in just 12 days from now it will be the ninth anniversary of a tragedy whose survivors joined that club, the families of the sandy hook children, 20 beautiful, innocent children and six dedicated, courageous educators at sandy hook elementary school
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in newtown, connecticut. whenever i talk about this subject in this chamber, i see them in the gallery. i see them in the gallery on the day that we failed. we failed by just a handful of votes to reach the 60 that we needed to pass a background check proposal. and one of them shouted, shame. shame. and it was shameful and disgraceful that we failed to act on that day. think of how many lives we could have saved. you know, in this body we talk endlessly and sometimes we act in a way that can affect real lives and real people. we could have saved real lives and real people on that day.
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not all the lives lost to gun violence, the tens of thousands who have perished since then, but some of them. when you save one life, you save the world. that's an adage in my faith. we had it within our grasp to save lives and to help save the world. but we failed then and again today we failed. even with the impetus with that horror in our minds and before us played again and again and for me the voices of those survivors resonate their faces are forever with me as they will
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be for all who knew the survivors of the oakland, michigan, tragedy. they've become friends. they have become almost members of my family, and they relive their own tragedy when they see what happened in these shootings. and the trauma affects not just the children in that school on tuesday, it affects children everywhere. somebody said to me the other day, you know, the three best words in the english language these days, back to normal. we want to go back to normal after a year and a half of the pandemic, we want to go back to
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normal, put kids back in school, put teachers back in the classroom, back to normal. we are back to normal in gun violence. in fact, we are worse than normal. we are back to normal with school shootings because kids are back in school. but the rate of gun violence has if anything explosively increased. this normal cannot be normalized. it cannot be made the new normal. the benality of evil cannot be taken for granted. the shame that that vote nine years ago brought to this body
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is a stain that will forever haunt us and haunts us ever more when we fail, as we did today, to provide real action. and there isn't any panacea. my colleague from connecticut is absolutely right. no single proposal is the solution. and there are others that we've advanced and tried to make a matter of bipartisan support. senator graham and i have worked on a red flag or emergency risk protection order statute that separates people from guns when they are dangerous to themselves or others, separates them when they are under a protective order and they buy those guns or when a family member knows they are about to commit or take
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their observe lives, not to mention other people's lives. more than half of all the gun deaths in this country are suicide. we can save those lives. a large number of these deaths occur when children are playing with guns in their own homes because the guns have been unsafely stored. ethan song was killed in connecticut because a parent failed to safely store a gun. ethan's law requiring safe storage would save lives. holding manufacturers accountable and depriving them of the sweetheart deal that led -- giving them immunity from any legal accountability. reversing that immunity would help to save lives in repealing placa. there are more than one proposal
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that we need to seriously consider if we're going to have the kind of dialogue that my colleague senator grassley suggested. but the simple fact is the house of representatives did its job back in march when it passed that bipartisan legislation to expand background checks. we're trying to do our job today seeking unanimous consent from our colleagues to move forward on h.r. 8. and there is no rational explanation, none when the vast majority of american people, gun owners as well as n.r.a. members, all background, all walks of life, all geographic areas, all demographic areas support this measure.
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so back to normal. we're back to normal. we cannot tolerate this normal. and as we approach that ninth anniversary of the sandy hook elementary school shooting and i recall that bleak day in december when we gathered at a firehouse with parents who were waiting to find out, waiting to know whether their children were still alive. no matter what the ages of our children -- i have four -- we can relive that moment in our own minds, in our own hearts,
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and we can see in this gallery those parents who came to speak truth to us, speak truth, and who will call us to account. the american people should call us to account for our failure to act today, our complicity in those deaths. this congress is complicit. the members who vote against these measures are complicit in the tragedies that follow. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, i rise in support of my connecticut colleagues in their effort to pass the bipartisan background check bill, h.r. 8. i want to thank my friend
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senator mufer if i and nor -- murphy and senator blumenthal for their leadership on this issue. i'm sure as senator blumenthal just recounted that tragic experience at sandy hook elementary school nine years ago is still fresh in their minds and motivates them to stand up time and again and to speak out on behalf of the families that lost their children and those wonderful educators and administrators who gave their lives that day. what will it take? is there a crime involving guns in america so horrific that finally we'll say enough? other countries have. australia did. they had a terrible shooting. they came to the conclusion that this is just unacceptable in their nation. they wouldn't let it become normal. some states have done that.
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connecticut did after sandy hook. they said our state will be different. we're not going to just stand idly by. but when it comes here to washington in this national legislature in this senate, it appears there is nothing sufficiently awful, so specifically outrageous that it will move us to act. this last week it was oakland county, michigan, oxford high school, four children gut up in the morning, blurry eyed, brushed their teeth, grabbed hair lunches, headed off to school and never came home. that was the reality. as senator murphy has said, those other students lucky enough to survive will never forget that day as long as they live. they'll be telling their grandchildren about the day they had to dive out of a window to
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escape this gunman who was going through their school. i have always thought of the most terrible gun crimes that have happened and there have been so many, so many, sandy hook is the worst. i can't imagine a classroom of 20 first graders and their teachers being gunned down at their desks. oh, my god. for every parent and grandparent, it's the worst nightmare in the world and it happened there. 20 of them. certainly many of us believe that would be the moment that america would come to its senses and say let's do something. if we can't do everything, let's do something to show that we care. but as a national legislature, we failed. and the proposal that we brought to the floor that was objected to today is the most basic thing in the world. okay. you have second amendment rights
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unless, unless you've given those up by committing a felony crime and being convicted of it. unless you were so mentally unstable that you shouldn't own a gun. that's basically it. that's all we said. are those unreasonable? i think not. 84% of americans happen to believe that's a pretty sensible thing to do. 84%. but when it comes to the united states senate, we can't get 51% to vote that way. at least not yet. so i thank my colleagues, senator murphy, senator blumenthal, for reminding us of the terrible tragedy in their lives and in their states just nine years ago. but i will tell you that as horrible as sandy hook was, 900 people died by gunfire in cook county, illinois, which i represent just last year. 40,000 americans lost their lives to guns last year.
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we can't do anything about that. they're gone. but what about tomorrow's victims? what about next week's victims? what about the next high school? we can do something about that. and this bill would pass today if republican senators would allow it. let's be very candid about this. this is a partisan issue. it shouldn't be. those gunmen i don't think anyone reports their political status and certainly the victims are not identified that way. but in this chamber it's an article of faith, political faith that republicans won't touch anything related to gun safety, anything. the bill that was objected to by senator grassley, the protecting communities bill, first let me say chuck grassley is my friend. i mean it. i don't just say that as political idle talk. he's my ranking member on the
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senate judiciary committee. we disagree on a lot of things. we sure do agree on a lot of things, too. the bill that he described is a step in the wrong direction as was mentioned by senator murphy. that bill doesn't fix the gaping holes in the background check system. it makes them worse. to say that people who have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital can leave that hospital, walk out the door and buy a gun, that doesn't even make sense. you would certainly want to ask someone, some medical expert what is their state of mind? have they fully recovered? are they ready? can they make a basic decision that we can trust? that's not too much to ask for those who are involuntarily committed at a psychiatric hospital. unfortunately the grassley bill which we objected to would automatically restore a person's right to buy a gun the minute they walked out of the hospital.
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the bill also wipes away the nics background check system for the records of -- listen -- 175,000 people in this country who have been found in the words of the statute mentally incompetent. this bill would allow them to -- permit them to buy guns immediately. how can that make any sense at all? surely the definition may not be the best, but let's work on that instead of just saying on a blanket basis go out and buy a gun if you want to. the bill also weakens gun laws on the books. the bill would allow gun dealers to sell handguns directly to people from other states. how does that make us safer? and it would bar a.t.f. from requiring gun dealers to submit reports of multiple purchases of long guns, a key indicator of gun trafficking in many border states.
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we're a long way from where we should be. but senator grassley has challenged me as chairman of the senate judiciary committee to hold a hearing, mark up a bill. i accept the challenge. we may not get to first base on this, but we are not going to stay in the stands and in the bleachers as kids are being gunned down at oxford high school and we're celebrating, if that is the word, all of the gun deaths of the past with anniversaries that bring back bitter memories and tragic occurrences. so yes, the senate judiciary committee will have a hearing. we're going to move forward as best we can. maybe there's common ground out there. i pray for the victims and their families. i pray that there is. i yield the floor.
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