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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  January 28, 2021 9:59am-2:00pm EST

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long run by saying now it's time to get to work. white house, time to wake up run, farewell. white house on time to wake up, out. [applause] you're watching c-span2, your unfiltered group of cable television companies. today provided by these cable television companies provided as a public service. >> the senate's about to gavel in. senators will consider the
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nomination of alejandro mayorkas, a vote set for 1:45 p.m. eastern. that requires a simple majority. now live to the senate floor. 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. lord, we look to you for refuge. you are master of oceans, earth and sky. every good thing we have comes from you.
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your wisdom is worth much more than silver or gold. though troubles multiply in our nation and world, you simply need to speak to bring order from chaos and harmony from discord. lord, use our lawmakers and instruct them in your precepts. inspire them to live for your glory. use them to hasten the day when your will will be done on earth, even as it is done in heaven. we pray in your loving name. amen.
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the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance. 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. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, january 28 , 2021. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable jacky rosen, a senator from the state of nevada, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: are we in a quorum? i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: now, madam president, over the past week the senate has been confirming president biden's cabinet nominees with significant cooperation between both parties. today, however, the republican minority has forced the senate to jump through a series of procedural hoops that will further delay the confirmation of one of our country's chief national security officials, the secretary of homeland security. it's now been eight days since president biden was sworn into office, and as a result of the objection from one member, just one member, the republican minority it will be another four until we can complete the nomination of mr. alejandro mayorkas to be our next secretary of homeland security. what could have been the tidy work of a few hours on president biden's first day will drag on
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for a week and a half. make no mistake about it, he will be confirmed. this dilatory action will not succeed, but it will prevent the senate from doing other important business. it's become a point of pride for the republican leadership to say that they are treating president biden's nominee more fairly than mr. trump's, but i'd remind my colleagues that former president trump had his first d.h.s. secretary, secretary kelly, confirmed on his inauguration day. there's a reason that there has been bipartisan cooperation in the past to confirm the homeland security secretary. whatever our differences on policy, both parties have agreed that the prolonged delay of these nominations is no good, no good for our national security. and now that's particularly the case right now. our government recently suffered an unprecedented cyberattack. in the wake of january 6, the threat of violence and domestic
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terrorism remains of great concern. but because of the tactics of some republican members, particularly the junior senator from missouri, mr. mayorkas' nomination is being needlessly stalled. my friends on the other side don't have to agree with mr. mayorkas on the finer points of every policy. i'm sure they don't share the exact views of every appointment to a democratic president's cabinet, but that is not a sufficient reason to oppose a nomination, especially one as important as homeland security. you don't have to take my word for it. listen to michael chertoff, president bush's former d.h.s. secretary. he said, quote, if members of congress want done test elements of biden proposals they are free to do so but hostage taking is not an appropriate way to do this, particularly if the result of that is to put the lives of the american people in jeopardy. chertoff went on to say that
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actions to thwart mayorkas' nomination were, quote, irresponsible and unconscionable. irresponsible and unconscionable. that president bush's -- that's president bush's former secretary of homeland security. not a democrat. well, the senate is not going to tolerate this irresponsible and unconscionable delay. despite the tactics from the republican side, the senate will begin work on this crucial nomination today, and he will be confirmed. now on covid. quickly, though, this chamber must also consider additional relief for the american economy and the american people suffering from the prolonged effects of covid-19. congress must pursue a bold and robust course of action to defeat the disease, recover our economy, get our country back to normal. again, our country requires
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bold and robust action. a trio of economic news items this week has underlined the glaring needs in the country. first, the federal reserve issued a sobering warning yesterday that the pace of economic recovery is weakening, and as a result they decided to leave interest rates low. second, the unemployment report this morning reminded us that jobless claims are still extremely high, at or near one million per week. that's a lot larger than usual. third, and maybe most astoundingly, most strikingly, the bureau of economic analysis this morning revealed that last year the economy shrank by 3.5%, the worst year for economic growth since world war ii. and the first time our economy has contracted since the great
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recession. given these economic numbers, the need to act big and bold is urgent. given the fact that the g.d.p. sunk by 3.5% last year, we need recovery and rescue quickly. everywhere you look alarm bells are ringing. mortgage deferrals are increasing, businesses are still closing, schools are closed in many states, restaurants and bars, travel are in crisis. our new secretary of treasury, janet yellen, who was days ago confirmed with the support of 84 members of this body and a large majority of our republican colleagues, just told us that, quote, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big. that's what yellen said. the smartest thing we can do is act big. given these numbers, given the weakening state of the economy,
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only big, bold action is called for to cut things dramatically at a time when the economy needs a boost would be irresponsible and hurt millions of people. we are in the midst of a once in a century crisis. it requires a once in a century effort to overcome it. the dangers of undershooting our response are far greater than overshooting. we should have learned the lesson -- we should lesson the lesson, 2008 and 2009, when congress was too timid and constrained in its response to the global financial crisis, and it took years, years for the economy to get out of recession. we must not repeat that mistake today. so the senate, as early as next week, will begin the process of considering a very strong covid relief bill. our preference is to make this
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important work bipartisan, to include input, ideas, and revisions from our republican colleagues or bipartisan efforts to do the same. but if our republican colleagues decide to oppose this urgent and necessary legislation, we will have to move forward without them. we have a responsibility to help the american people fast, particularly given these new economic numbers. the senate will begin that work next week. i yield the floor. mr. schumer: i notice the absence of a quorum, madam president. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: madam president.
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the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: normally today and tomorrow, we would be welcoming many thousands of americans to the capitol for the annual march for life. every year, the march is one of the most important things that happens here in washington. americans of all ages, diverse backgrounds, and many faiths speak up peacefully and powerfully for the most fundamental human right. they make our nation confront the fact that even the most modest protections for innocent life are still not secure. the pandemic has taken this year's march online. that's a particular pity given signs that the new administration may be poised to steam roll even the most limited, limited safeguards for conscience, let alone for life itself. the new washington needs to hear
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the marchers more than ever. a case in point, the word is out our new administration is planning to rescind the mexico city policies this very day, run over the consciences of american taxpayers, and put them back on the hook for funding abortions overseas. an administration that wanted to pursue unity might observe that 77% of americans, including a majority of democrats and 85% of independents, don't want taxpayer dollars to fund foreign abortions. this and many other commonsense pro-life policies enjoy broad support from the american people, but the radicalism of the modern democratic party seems dug in. fortunately, political dynamics dynamics -- unfortunately, political dynamics change but the moral truth does not. executive orders cannot alter the basic science of human life. so i thank my fellow kentuckians
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and all americans who are participating. we will see you in person next year. now, on a totally different matter, the country has waited to see whether the new administration would follow a pro-job, pro-worker, pro-working family approach or give in to the far left and put ideological concerns before kiffin table ones. unfortunately, we didn't have to wait long. as recently as october, now-president biden said you can't legislate by executive action unless you are a dictator. well, in one week, he signed more than 30 unilateral actions and working americans are getting short shrift. the president abruptly canceled the keystone pipeline, a massive setback for energy security in north america. the canadian leader called it a gut punch. i imagine the 11,000 american workers, including 8,000 union workers who were counting on that work feel the same way.
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we have headed back into an international pact that would have us self-inflict serious pain on working families. it's failed to curb china's emissions and without which our own emissions have been dropping anyway. yesterday, the administration slammed the brakes on further domestic energy development on the huge swaths of land owned by the federal government. no new oil, gas, or coal leases on federal land. our responsible use of these lands accounts for more than a fifth, one/fifth, of our -- one-fist of our domestic production, about 2.8 million barrels per day. that is almost the equivalent of kuwait's daily oil production from our federal lands alone. plus more than 10% of domestic natural gas. 2019 marked the first time in nearly 70 years when u.s. energy exports outpaced imports. for the first time since the
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1950's, our nation ran an energy surplus, not a deficit. that has been great news, but some left-wing elites are not happy. the sources of this affordable domestic energy are not sufficiently trendy. as john kerry explained yesterday on behalf of the administration, he wants the large numbers of american workers in those sectors to find, quote, better choices. better choices than their good jobs that feed their families and strengthen our independence. remember, with the pipeline cancellation, the president effectively closed the door on thousands of american jobs with the stroke of a pen. according to one news report, one welder from pipe fitters local 798 who had been working in nebraska says he has already had to lay off his whole team before losing his job himself. he said he sat down in his truck
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and simply cried. this latest new prohibition will replicate that heartbreak many times over. according to one study, the decision on federal lands will leave us down nearly one million american jobs by next year alone. one million lost jobs by next year alone. it's a heck of a way to kick off a presidency. mass layoffs of our own citizens, working americans in other sectors will pay as well. one analysis found this decision could increase household energy costs by almost $20 billion over the next decade. and president biden, john kerry, and the whole gang company to be just getting warmed up. mr. kerry admitted yesterday that even if the united states somehow brought our carbon emissions to zero, it wouldn't make much difference in the global picture. that's because our competitors, including china, have already gone roaring past us. but there is one kind of cooling
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these policies will achieve. they will affect the job markets in communities all across america. in the state of new mexico, 65% of oil and gas production is tied to federal lands. by one estimate, 16,000 jobs will be on the chopping block in that stayed alone. that state alone next year if president biden's ban holds up. in colorado, it costs another 3,000 jobs and more than 40% of the state's natural gas production. as a kentuckian, i'm also familiar with the ways these democratic policies can hurt communities. kentucky paid dearly for the first round of these liberal policies under president obama. we have no desire to be subjected to a sequel, especially when john kerry says we should take the rate at which coal is already declining and quintuple it. in our confirmation hearing
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yesterday, the president's nominee to be energy secretary referenced, quote, jobs that might be sacrificed. yeah, that's absolutely right. well, she gets some points for con city. that's what happened the last time these folks called the shots. jobs were sacrificed, ultimately some of the jobs of the democratic politicians who backed these policies. the concept in sports that a coach or a manner should never make a decision that will make the opposing team happy. if they are torn about a risky play call, if they are overthinking a pitching change, they should ask themselves which decision their opponents would rather see and do the opposite. our new administration is failing that test on domestic energy. china, russia, and our other competitors must be thrilled, absolutely thrilled that our new government is essentially declaring war on some of our own economic foundations to satisfy
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a craving for symbolic gestures. willfully throwing our own people out of work, reducing our domestic energy security, raising costs and prices for working families, all for no meaningful impact on global temperatures. just the applause at those international conferences where participants all assemble by private jet. it shouldn't be this way, not with a president who campaigned on protecting the lunch pail union jobs that his left flank wants to eliminate. the president was not elected to enact policies that prompted certain young congresswoman from new york city to boast online that her radical ideas are shaping his energy policies. the last four years proved that growing our prosperity, reducing emissions, and expanding domestic energy are actually not intentioned. we can achieve all three. there is nothing green about a tsunami of pink slips for american workers or carting canadian crude around in trucks
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and trains instead of a pipeline. this piecemeal green new deal is the wrong prescription, wrong for the environment, wrong for national security, and most of all for the working americans who will soon be formerly working americans if this keeps up. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: madam president, as i came to work this morning to the capitol, i saw the national guard troops outside. i want to thank them on behalf of the senate and the people of america for coming to our assistance during the
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inauguration ceremony, some are still on the job making sure we maintain order on the streets of washington, d.c., and we conduct the business of the american people here in the capitol building. i want to thank them again, particularly the 250 national guard forces from my home state of illinois. i had a chance to meet many of them, sacrificing time from their family for our nation, it is job well done and we thank you again. heather cox richardson does a column each day that is a source of information that is important. she reminded us in her column this morning about what happened here in this capitol building just three weeks ago on january 6. let me read what she said. in testimony yesterday, the acting chief of the metropolitan police department in washington told the house appropriations committee that at least 65 officers filed reports of injury after the january 6 attack.
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the chair of the capitol officers union put it closer to 40. i have police who did not have helmets and have brain injury, two have smashed spinal disks, another is going to lose his eye, another was stabbed with a metal fence stake. he said one officer died of injuries sustained on january 6 and two officers have since taken their own lives. i want to put that in the record because in a week with the beginning of the impeachment trial, we are going to reflect again on what happened january 6. some of my colleagues and many people on their side are saying we shouldn't spend time talking about what happened january 6. in the words of former governor of south carolina niki haley,
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with we ought to get over it. get over it. it's hard to get over it when you consider the facts that i just read into the record. for the families of those officers who lost their lives and those who were seriously jrtd injured -- injured, they won't get over it for a long, long time. i don't know what the impeachment trial will find in terms of the role of the former president of the united states, but i believe it's an important milestone in america's history for us to stop and recount what actually happened in this building on january 6, where a mob, incited by the president, stormed this capitol, broke through, smashing windows and doors and literally took control of this capitol building for several hours. here in the senate chamber, we were evacuated. thank goodness we returned that
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same evening to complete our business and complete our work. there's ample evidence of what happened that day by video, photograph, and testimony. i hope it's part of the record of this impeachment hearing so that this generation and future generations will have no doubt what happened that day. already we have those who are in denial, who are arguing this was really some far-left group that was taking over the demonstration, a ludicrous argument on its face and we have many who are in complete denial that it happened or it had anything to do with right-wing politics. they are wrong. we saw it. we recorded it. we're going to put it in as part of the record so that america knows what happened on that day. and yesterday we had a warning that this may not be the end of it. there may be more activity. let me say at the outset that i condemn extremism and violence on any part of the political
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spectrum, but yesterday the warning was to the right who apparently are going to continue in their efforts to disrupt life in america and endanger the lives of fellow americans and law enforcement officers. we need to stand up as a nation and say enough. whatever your political stripe, there is no room for extremism and violence in the exercise of the constitutional responsibility of right. i wanted to make that as part of the record to open the statement. and now on another issue. this morning i went on a radio show in bloomington normal, illinois. wjbc, scott miller, and the topic was the vaccines, the covid-19 vaccines and why so many people in that part of central illinois can't get access to vaccines. i -- vaccinations.
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i listened as people in frustration called in and the announcer waiting on the phone for hours trying to get through, unable to make an appointment. and i called the governor of illinois to ask him what was happening. he gave me some numbers in our part of the world which probably reflects our country's status at the moment. he said we are receiving 120,000 first doses of covid-19 vaccine each week -- 120,000 a week. we have approximately 10 million people eligible to be vaccinated in illinois. those under the age of 16 are excluded for reasons determined by medical professionals. so we start with 10 million. we anticipate that at least 50% are currently hoping to get a vaccine as quickly as possible. so we have to get 5 million
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people vaccinated in our state with two doses. 10 million doses and we're receiving 120,000 a week. is it any wonder that the new president, joe biden, is looking for new sources of covid-19 vaccine in large numbers. i support that completely. in part of his request for the american rescue plan, which has come before the united states senate and house of representatives, in that request he spells out what he thinks are the priorities of this country and i believe he's correct. we talk about $160 billion to provide the supplies, emergency response testing and workforce for our country to stop the spread of covid-19. could there be any higher priority? $170 billion for scols -- for schools and higher education so
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they can safely open and operate. every parent and grandparent knows how urgent that need is. $30 billion for paid leave, includes 14 weeks of paid family leave through the end of september. certainly people need to that have option available either because of their own illness or an illness in the family. the direct payments, already $600 has gone out to families in direct payments, another $1,400 is included in the biden proposal. unemployment insurance, we still are finding record numbers of people who are filing for unemployment. $290 billion extends the current benefits and eligibility and a $400 supplement per week until the end of september, snap benefits, child care, relief to families, such as a child tax credit. the list is lengthy and i've read through it carefully.
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should we do it? there are some who argue, no, we don't need anymore stimulus. we've done all we need to do. i have to disagree with that conclusion. the news this morning that was alluded to by the democratic leader suggests that we're not out out of the woods by a longshot when it comes to the state of the economy. cnn reported this morning that the donald trump final economic report card could be very underwhelming, for example, the u.s. gross domestic product that brought us america of -- measure of economic activity is estimated to be 4% between october and december of last year. in normal year that would be a cause for celebration, an a plus, but 2020 was no normal year. america is still recovering from the worst economic shock in living memory. our gross domestic product shrank by a record 31.4% on an
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annualized basis in the fourth-quarter and came back with a 39% base in the third-quarter. i ask consent to put this article in the record with my statement. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you, madam president. the statistics are devastating as well when it comes to the number of people filing for unemployment. record-breaking numbers, and those are included in this article as well. so we're counseled by the new treasury secretary, janet yellen, we shouldn't take our foot off the accelerator. businesses will find it difficult to survive and even open, and their employees will be without work. we need to get this economy roaring back and that means making the investment that president biden is asking for. similarly we need to get our kids back in school. i know most parents would feel
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that's true. grandparents as well and the sooner we do it, the better, but do it safely -- safely for the teachers, administrators and everyone involved in that situation. madam president, it's hard to imagine what we've been through in the last calendar year, the year 2020. i'm glad it's behind us. we still have many challenges ahead. but it's hard it to believe that just one year ago this week in the state of illinois we confirmed our first case of coronavirus one year ago. the patient had returned from china to suburban chicago and transmitted the virus to her husband. she was treed successfully -- she was treated successfully, as was her husband. in the 365 days since then that transpired, 1.1 million covid-19 cases occurred in my state of illinois from one person a year
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ago, 1.1 million cases and almost 19,000 illinoisans have died. the story is repeated in every state in every community. what started as a worry ended up becoming a pandemic and one of the most deadly in american history. last year i came to the floor to ask unanimous consent for a resolution with a simple message, that the united states should work with other nations around the world to address the covid-19 pandemic. it seemed like a commonsense proposition to think that one case in wuhan, china has led us to where we are today tells us this is a shrinking world. we need to tackle that deadly communicable disease because it knows no boundaries. no nation is safe from covid-19 if it is raging in any part of the world. equally, no nation's economy is immune from the pandemic raging
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elsewhere. i'm glad that the senate eventually passed the resolution i introduced, affirming the need to join with others in fighting the pandemic. the first priority is obvious, take care of the american people and american families and everyone who lives in our nation. that is the first and highest priority for our elected officials in every -- at every single level. we're now debating measure to help the american people to gain access to vaccines, the biden rescue plan and the harsh economic impact it's had on america. president biden understands these needs and i hope congress does as well. as we respond to the covid crisis in america, though, we cannot ignore the need for a global response. this isn't a matter of being charitable, it's in our national interest and a reflection of our values to ensure that poorer nations have access to vaccines and tools to manage their
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impact. "the new york times" columnist nick chrisoff kron colled this problem in a piece called starving children don't cry. he noted while some have avoided high covid death tolls, there are many places that have pandemics of hunger, disease, and illiteracy. day laborers can't find work, campaigns to address polo and aids have been disrupted. it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of children in the developing world will die from malnutrition. many who survive will face lifetime disability. a study by the chamber of commerce found that the cost of unequal vaccines distribution will hit affluent countries as well. the study showed what would happen if wealthy nations were vaccinated but poor countries shut out, a likely scenario.
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this week, the world health organization noted that only one of 29 low-income countries has begun vaccination and in that particular country of beguny, only -- ginny, only 55 people have been reached. the study concluded that the global economy could lose more than $9 trillion with nearly half of the costs absorbed by the united states and other wealthy countries. we are already seeing how illness affects us. u.s. exports have resulted in lower profits and lower wages. that's why i'm reintroducing legislation to direct the united states treasury to use its vote at the international monetary fund to release what's known as special drawing rights. these are foreign exchange reserves, assets main taind by the i.m.f. used by developing
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nations during severe economic downturns as done during the 2008 global crisis. a release would not cost the american taxpayers a single dollar but help developing nations purchase and distribute covid vaccines. this proposal is supported by a broad coalition including the american farmer f farm leaders, business leaders and trade associations, leading economists, faith groups, labor unions and humanitarian groups. i want to thank my cosponsors in this effort, senator sanders, reed, cardin, merkley and leahy. we're joined by congressman garcia. three quarters of a century ago much of the world laid in ruins as a result of global war. the united states made an unprecedented commitment to help the nations of the world rise from the ashes of world war ii and rebuild.
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we did so because it was in keeping with our moral beliefs and it served our political and economic interests. the marshall plan and other international aid efforts by the u.s. helped make america the most powerful nation on earth politically and economically. this global crisis, covid-19, gives us another opportunity to strengthen america as we help repair a damaged world. of course our first priority is american families, and this effort would not take a single dollar away from buying the vaccines that are necessary to keep our nation safe. but by using these special drawing rights, we provide resources to some of the poorest nations around the world so that they too can start vaccinating their population. this world got sick, we believe, because of one person in china, and it spread around the world. that's at least the theory that has been backed up by evidence so far. so let's make certain that as we address this issue, we do it on
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a global basis. i urge the senate to support this measure as a way to not only do the right thing for our less fortunate brothers and sisters around the world, but as a way to help our own pandemic and economic recovery. madam president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. thune: madam president, is the senate in a qoirk -- quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. thune: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: yesterday i voted out of commission on pete buttigieg and the senate will vote to confirm him. i had a good meeting with mr. buttigieg last week. we talked about a number of south dakota transportation priorities. our nation is zhu for another -- is due for another transportation bill and i asked mr. buttigieg about rural transportation priorities as part of any infrastructure legislation. a strong rural transportation infrastructure benefits the
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entire national transportation system by connecting major highways and railways in regions that produce so many of the agricultural and industrial products we rely on. it's key to helping south dakota farmers and ranchers and farmers and ranchers around the country get their products to market. i also asked mr. buttigieg to work with me to improve tribal transportation infrastructure. right now prosperous tribes in populous areas receive a disproportionate amount of tribal transportation funding, even though their needs are often less pressing than those facing large rural tribes like those in south dakota. i'm committed to ensuring that rural tribes get their fair share of tribal transportation funding, and i was pleased that mr. buttigieg agreed to work with me on this issue. i also enjoyed discussing autonomous vehicle legislation with him. he shares my interest in the technological, environmental and safety benefits of self-driving vehicles that they
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can offer and look forward to working with him on this issue. highway bills have always been a place for bipartisan cooperation, and the bill released last congress by senators barrasso and carper was no exception. madam president, i hope that bipartisan tradition will continue in this congress and the democrats and republicans can work together to deliver a significant infrastructure package in the near future. madam president, on the subject of bipartisanship, i'm disturbed by the rumors the democrats plan to use reconciliation to force another covid bill through congress on partisan lines before, before even giving good-faith effort to bipartisan negotiations. republicans are more than willing to work with democrats on additional targeted covid relief legislation. now i won't pretend that we don't have reservations about some of the measures the democrats have proposed. for instance, i don't think an emergency covid relief bill is the place to push through a
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change that would more than double the federal minimum wage and directly increase expenses on businesses that have been decimated by the pandemic. that's a policy with a lot of economic consequences, and it shouldn't be pushed through congress in a hasty facial. republicans are also -- fashion. republicans are concerned about the enormous amount of money that democrats want to spend. we've already spent more than $4 trillion to address this pandemic, and we need to be very careful, very careful, madam president, about additional spending and appropriate only what is necessary to respond to this pandemic and with an eye to the burden that we're putting on the economy and on young americans as we increase our national debt. the higher our national debt, the greater the drag on economic growth and the more likely it is that young americans will face increasingly burdensome tax bills in the future to meet our debt obligations. but let me be very clear, while republicans certainly have
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concerns about some of the democrats' proposals, we are committed to defeating this pandemic and to getting americans vaccinated. and we are ready to work with democrats on any necessary legislation, covid-19 relief legislation that would achieve that objective. it would be very disappointing, madam president, if democrats decided to shove a partisan bill through congress without even attempting to work with republicans. madam president, before i close, i want to take a moment to recognize those south dakotans participating in the virtual march for life tomorrow. we've gotten used to saying it's going to be a little different this year during the pandemic, and that applies to the march for life as well. usually tens of thousands of americans travel to washington, d.c. every january to participate in the march. americans from every state in the union, of every political per sway significance, of everyy religion or none at all all
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united by their commitment to defending the dignity and value and humanity of the unborn child. this year the march will be virtual, but pro-life americans will still be united in spirit. to all those south dakotans virtually marching tomorrow and to all those americans united everywhere in the pro-life cause, thank you. thank you for standing, standing up every year on the anniversary of the roe v. wade decision. and most of all, thank you for everything that you do throughout the year. because the biggest work of the pro-life movement happens outside the march for life. it happens in churches around america where congregations collect money to support prenatal care for pregnant women in need or gather diapers and baby supplies to give to struggling mothers. it happens on college campuses where pro-life students educate their peers about the reality of abortion. it happens in crisis pregnancy
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centers where moms and dads facing unplanned pregnancies are met with resources and love and support. it happens at maternity homes where single moms get the support they need to have their babies and to build job skills or get an education. every day you are building a culture of life in this country with your work and your political action and your prayers. and i know that it's not always easy. but the race is not to the swift nor the strong. it is to those who endure. and i am confident that sooner or later, right and justice will prevail, because we have the truth on our side. the truth that every human being, no matter how old or how young, no matter their race or the color of their skin, no matter their religion or political persuasion is created
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in the image and likeness of god and has infinite dignity and worth. so ceem -- keep standing up for the babies. tomorrow i will be joining my prayers with yours that one day soon the right to life of unborn human beings lk protected in law. may god bless you all. madam president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the clerk will report. without objection. mr. rubio: our nation was founded on a very powerful, audacious idea. the idea was that every single human being was created equal, with the rights that come from their creator, from god. not from the government. not from the laws. not from the constitution or your leader. you are born with those rights. and inherent in that is our powerful national commitment. i think it remains to this day the belief that everyone should have freedom and that everyone -- because freedom comes with those rights, and
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that everyone be treated fairly. for 244 years, our story has been that of a nation on a continuous and a steady march to live up to those ideals. tomorrow, thousands will come to washington once again for a different march, but one that i believe is tied directly to this nation's ongoing quest to fulfill the promise of its founding. almost a half century ago, the supreme court of the united states decided that within our constitution there was the implicit right to end the life of an unborn child. since then, every single day in this country, unborn human beings have had their life ended before they even drew their first breath. they are in essence denied the freedom to live, not because they did anything wrong. they are denied this most basic of rights unfairly because of circumstances they have nothing to do with and do not control. that this occurs here is shameful enough, and i believe
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that is what history will regard it. that we used taxpayer money to promote it and export it abroad is outrageous. before we even passed a bill to deal with the pandemic or to bring back good jobs to the united states or any of the other major issues confronting our country, in one of his first acts as president, president biden decided to prioritize tearing you will the so-called mexico city policy, a policy which rightfully bans our taxpayer dollars from being sent to organizations that use it to perform or promote abortions overseas. abortion is a very difficult and uncomfortable topic. no one can pretend. some 15-year-old is pregnant, afraid, afraid of her parents, afraid of what others might think, afraid for her future, that she faces an easy choice. it is not. it also doesn't feel fair, doesn't feel like freedom to have laws that tell people what they can or cannot do with their
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body. but in this case, the challenge we have is that it is a case that puts the fundamental rights of two people into direct conflict. the right, as most definitely exists, of a mother to choose what to do with her body versus the right of an unborn child to live, and it forces us to decide which one of these two rights wins out in those circumstances. i personally for one and those who march tomorrow have chosen life. not because it's an easy choice but because to me it's the clear one. because the right to live is the one right upon which all the other rights we claim depend. without life, there is no speech to protect, there is no religion to practice. without life, frankly, nothing else matters. i would point out that being pro-life is not just about the right to be born. it also means the right to live and to thrive. once a child is born, that child depends on their parents or who are ever their guardians are
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that are raising them, and they have a moral and legal duty to care for them. not just to feed them, not just to clothe them, not just to house them. but also to promote a safe and stable home and a chance at a good education and a better future. that's why i also believe that pro-life must also mean being pro-parents. being a parent is the most influential role anyone will ever have. it's the most important job anyone will ever have. that's why i worked to and we were specifically in excannedding -- successful in expanding the child tax credit two years ago. that's why i work now with president biden to expand it even further. i am concerned about some of the details of the policy he has outlined. for example, his proposal appears to unfairly benefit parents who send their children to commercial child care over stay-at-home parents or grandparents or other caregivers. but this is an area where we have a common goal and one i believe we can find a way to work together. it's also why i support creating the opportunity for every parent in america to have access to paid family leave because no one
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should be thrown into welfare or debt or bankruptcy because they got pregnant, because they had a child. it is also by the way why i support school choice. in america, rich parents can afford to send their kids to any school they want, and they do. upper middle-class parents can move to neighborhoods with good public schools. but it is unfair that the only parents in america who are forced to send their children to the school the government tells them, even if that school is failing their children, are the parents who don't make enough money to have another option. for 21st century america to move closer to fulfilling our founding principle of equality, freedom, of fairness, every child deserves the right not just to be born, but also the right to live and to thrive, the right not just to exist, but the right to pursue and fulfill their potential. and i believe that what's at stake is nothing less than our identity as a nation. if we become a place where your right to be born and your
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ability to succeed is determined by who your parents are or by the circumstances of your conception, then we may remain indeed a rich and a powerful and an important country. we will no longer be a special one. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mrs. capito: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mrs. capito: thank you, mr. president. i would ask if we could vitiate the quorum call, please. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: thank you. and it's nice to see you in the chair, mr. president. i haven't seen that for a while, so congratulations to you. you know, i feel like yesterday i was in the movie "back to the future."
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i rise today to voice my deep concern with the lengthy executive order that president biden issued yesterday pertaining to climate and my larger concerns about where the biden administration is moving with regards to their energy and environment agenda. president biden very passionately, as we sat out on the steps, called for unity on january 20 inauguration speech. but as his first actions, president biden managed to kill thousands of jobs and paralyze america's industries. -- energy industries. his order yesterday put a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands. this is an economic, energy, and national security disaster, in my view. this order moves america from energy independence back to relying on foreign sources of -- for fuel and a lot of times these are the countries that have much laxer environmental policies than we have right here in the united states.
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the order also usurps our states' rights, the states' rights which is to manage their own energy industries. as you know, i come from an energy-producing state, a proud heritage of that. so what about the states who rely on tax revenues from the energy industry to fund education? we see what's happening with education now under the pandemic. more headwinds into how do we deliver a great education product is a question we're going to be answering over the next several months and years. so any ideas? i wonder if president biden actually talked to any of the governors of these states to see what the impacts of what he was doing might have. but what we saw yesterday in the press conference was president biden and gina mccarthy and john kerry, their ultimate goal, which is to ban fossil fuels. they're pretty upfront about that. so my skepticism when i her that the administration going to give
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industry time to transition and give workers clean energy jobs, that's where i found myself thinking, i'm back -- i'm in "back to the future" i've heard this before because i've heard the promises in the past. this is a deeply personal issue for me because i've lived through this had i've seen this playbook before. so we're back to the future. the obama administration said the very same things to west virginians. in fact, i remember the same people saying the same things. and i remember the utterly unachievable regulatory requirements that gina mccarthy created as head of the e.p.a. that decimated my state. i think remember the thousands of jobs lost and still lost and the hopelessness and then the succeeding opioid epidemic that followed. i remember begging the obama e.p.a. to come to west virginia to see how the regulations with
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no time to transition were destroying more of our state's economy. they were destroying our families. they really didn't seem to care. the only response i got in one of my hearings was, well, they'll come to pittsburgh. well, that's not coming to west virginia. look, i'm not here to just put down the biden administration. i want to work with the administration, and i'm going to be in a position to do that, as ranking member on e.p.w. i want to be part of the solution. i am not a climate denier. we all need to take care of our planet. we must be good stewards of our earth and our water. we know it is the right thing to do. the free market is already moving in that direction, which was part of the presentation yesterday. private companies are cutting their emissions. that's awesome. as we see the emissions figures, they've gone way down over the last 15 years. consumers moving towards greener products? that's great. i think find myself doing that in my everyday living.
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and it's great. i feel like in some ways i'm doing my small part at home. but a national energy transition really needs time, and the biden administration needs to be very clear about what their timetables really are. they also need to be very clear about who's really in charge here. this is another one of my concerns. president biden's nominee michael regan -- his nominees, michael regan, jennifer granholm, brenda mallory, janet mccobb and even pete buttigieg have all been tasked with addressing climate. they're going to be tripping all over each other before even considering the senate confirmation process this all together. a whole host of czars who aren't accountable to congress. so who's really going to be making the decisions? i think from yesterday's press
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conference it is pretty clear what the answer to the question could probably be. will this cabinet actually wield any power or will the decisions be made in the white house in an effort to avoid public and congressional scrutiny? the american people really need to know. west virginians need to do. new jerseyans need to know. and i'll definitely be asking those questions in it the upcoming hearing. in closing, i'd like to say that america is a great and very proud energy producer. west virginia has powered the country for docks, and we're -- for decades and we're incredibly proud of that fact. coal, natural gas, oil, wind, solar power. useing all of them keeps americans safe and keeps our country running. eliminating fossil fuels from our energy mix will lead to higher utility costs and less reliability, so who does that really hurt? that hurts those in the lower-
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and mid-income category, the ones that are hurting right now because of this pandemic. you can just ask california about the rise in cost and the rise in unreliability of the grid. renewables can't power our country at 100% all the time. right now, maybe in the future, but right now they can't. and battery technology hasn't been able to fill that gap a -- fill that gap. but we can address it through innovation and technology. we already have new markets for coal, carbon products. we know investing in carbon capture and utilization and storage is critical for a lot of reasons. this is a win-win on both sides. we know knew technologies are progressing every single day and we've been working on this issue in a bipartisan way. senator whitehouse and i, we're the main proponents of the 45-q credit for capturing carbon and reusing it. so -- but i am very concerned that president biden's executive order yesterday really alienated
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some of the key players in the conversation, and i don't think that's the way to build unity. that's -- here, we go. back to the future, picking winners and losers. that's pitting american jobs against one and the other and that can create and will create resentment across the country. so i urge the president, let's tackle these climate challenges together, not through overreaching presidential orders and federal regulations. this country has risen to every single challenge that we have had. this climate challenge is no different. i understand the urgency. i understand the issue. but with our american ingenuity, we can find these solutions together. so let's make our future one that we build together. and i yield the floor. thank you. and i request a quorum, absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from texas. mr. cornyn: thank you, madam president. i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, it's been more than a year now since the first covid-19 case was confirmed here in the united states. as the war against this virus has been fought, it's evolved over the last 12 months, and our country has been challenged like never before, in my memory. health care workers across the country have herro ceam -- heroically battle thd cruel virus often with insufficient equipment and personnel. frontline workers and delivery trucks, grocery stores and other essential businesses have kept
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the cogs of society running. as a whole we've hunkered down and tied to stop the spread of the virus until enough americans could get vaccinated. we all have come to realize that is really the gold standard in defeating this virus. the trump administration launched operation warp speed to accelerate the research and development of therapeutics and vaccines to move us toward that goal as soon as possible. just last summer when president trump predicted we would have an effective vaccine by the end of the year, there was some serious skepticism and you might even call it blowback from some of the critics. one media outlet published a fact-check saying it would require nothing short of a, quote, medical miracle, to have a vaccine by the end of last year. thanks to the leadership on a bipartisan basis here and the
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marvels of science and human ingenuity, that so-called miracle came true not once but twice and we're expecting more vaccines to eventually be approved in the near term. the world's brightest scientific minds used the foundation built by decades of vaccine research to craft life-saving and in fact world-changing vaccines. less than 11 months after the first covid-19 case was discovered in the united states, the very first vaccine was administered after it was approved, 11 months. the number of americans who have been vaccinated against covid-19 is growing every day, and so far more than 24.5 million doses have been administered nationwide. nearly two million of those doses have gone into the arms of my fellow texans.
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texas became the first state to administer one million doses, an accomplishment that underscores the hard work of our state and local leaders and our public health officials, our private partners and health care workers. every day our public health experts are evaluating the current distribution process to make improvements and speed up the vaccination process. the states now set up mass vaccination hubs to expedite distribution and administer as many doses as they can as quickly as they can. while these sites are an efficient way to administer vaccines to texans, we need to do more in rural parts of the country. i was glad to see in my state governor abbott's announcement that the state's launching a mobile vaccine pilot program to ramp up vaccination efforts in rural parts of the state. those vaccinations kick off today and with the support of
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our incredible texas national guardsmen, more at-risk texans will be vaccinated against this virus. with currently two approved vaccines and potentially more along the way, we're beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. and it's getting bigger and brighter every day. but we can't take our foot off the gas. we all know that. just as we led an aggressive effort to develop vaccines, it's time to redouble our efforts to distribute those vaccines. i worry we're not starting off on a strong footing. in december president-elect biden announced his administration's goals to get a hundred million shots in the arms of americans within the first hundred days of his presidency. that announcement came about a week before the first doses of vaccine were distributed, before we had a real world test of the processes that had been in planning for months.
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we're now several weeks into this nationwide vaccination campaign, and the biden administration is stuck by this initial benchmark. the president's repeated will i described this as an ambitious goal, a statement that's led to a fair amount of head scratching not because it's too aggressive, as some people thought president trump's proposed vaccine delivery date was, but was it's too modest. one physician in public health expert described this as a disappointingly low bar. an associated press headline evaluated the situation pretty well when it said that biden's earlier approach to the virus was underpromised and overdeliver. the truth of the matter is we are largely on track to meet president biden's ambitious goal even before he took the oath of office. on inauguration day, more than 1.6 million doses had been
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administered and over the last week, the average number of vaccinations has exceeded 1.5 million a day. it's hard really to frame this a goal when in reality you could throw the entire operation on cruise control and surpass it. on monday evening president biden appeared to be -- appeared to up the target to 150 million doses in the first hundred days, which would track with the 1.5 million doses we're currently seeing administered. but the white house press secretary walked back that claim the following day. a hundred million doses in a hundred days is certainly catchy and i have no doubt the administration has tried to underpromise so it can be seen as overdeliverring. it's not altogether a bad strategy. but the goal here isn't to set a target you're almost certain to meet. after all, we didn't see the previous administration set a target of a successful vaccine
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by the summer of 2021, which is what many experts believed to be the most feasible. so i would urge the administration and all of us to see to a truly ambitious vaccination schedule and motivate the newly assembled team at the white house to achieve it and to provide the resources that they may need from congress in order for them to execute that plan. there's no reason to stick to a goal we were on track to meet before president biden was even sworn in. president biden, of course it ran a campaign criticizing the previous administration's handle aing of the covid-19 virus, and he caned on the promise to lead us out of that -- and he caned on the promise to lead us out of that crisis. but this modest goal is not going to get us there fast enough. researchers at baylor college of medicine say we need to be vaccinating 3 million people a day. that's double the pace we're
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seeing right now and triple the biden administration's self-described ambitious plan. the past year has been full of scientific developments and bold action by congress and the administration to develop and distribute vaccines to the american people. we simply can't afford to put it in cruise control now. our only option to is to mobilize every resource and push as hard and fast as we can to get the american people vaccinated and to finally bring an end to this pandemic. madam president, i yield the floor. and i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes. mr. murphy: i ask that we dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. murphy: madam president, i have one request for a committee to meet during today's session of the senate. it has the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. murphy: thank you, madam president. madam president, this is a screenshot from a video taken during a school field trip on august 9, 2018. these are yemenies schoolchildren, go to school in a northern governorate inside the country. and they are on their way either to or back from a picnic that
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they were having with their classmates. as you can see, they're schoolchildren, elementary age, around 8, 9, 10 years old, and they don't look any different than what schoolchildren here in the united states would look like on their way to a fun-filled school field trip. a boy catching a little nap somehow amidst all of the din of the rest of his classmates, so excited -- excited because there isn't and there wasn't a lot of fun to be had for schoolchildren in yemen, today or in 2018. a civil war still plagues that country, plagues yemeni children who are too often facing starvation and disease. but 0en this day -- but 0en this
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day, there was fun -- but on this day there was fun to be had. this is that school bus hours later. 40 children died when a u.s.-made bomb dropped from the sky, hit this school bus. not every child on that bus died, miraculously, but 40 children on the bus and around the bus did. it was a war crime. the saudis in the aftermath of the incident defended it, saying that it was a legal action. they were targeting enemy leaders who were responsible for recruiting and training young
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children. they hit a school bus in the middle of the day, right next to a crowded marketplace. it wasn't on a loany road. it was in a -- it wasn't on a lonely road. twas in a crowded area. that's why not only people on the bus died, but families and children surrounding the bus died as well. this was a military strike done as part of a coalition campaign of which the united states is a member. it's not just that we sold the bomb that hit this bus. we participated and still do participate in this military campaign in a myriad of ways. for years we flew planes in the sky that put fuel into the saudi and emirati jets that dropped
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these bombs. we embedded u.s. personnel in the operations center that planned these bombing campaigns. and maybe most importantly of all, we lent moral authority to the saudi-led campaign inside yemen. but over the course of our time as a coalition partner with saudi arabia, the war in yemen has been a national security apocalypse for the united states. our bombs and our planes have been used to kill thousands of civilians, 17,000 civilians have died inside yemen since the beginning of this war. the war has cause the world's worst humanitarian catastrophe on the ground inside yemen, over 100,000 children have died of starvation and disease. yemen since 2015 has been the site of the world's worst
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cholera outbreak anywhere in the world during all of our lifetimes, likely caused by the targeting of water treatment facilities by the coalition of which the united states is a member. and inside this country, yemenis rightfully blame the united states for this cataclysm. they know that it's our equipment. they know that it's our bombs. and they know that it is that moral authority that the united states gives to this war through our decision to continue to take part in it, human rights crime after human rights crime. it is radicalized -- it has radicalized a generation of yemenis against the united states. it has made us part and parcel of repeated human rights violations, and it has created a chaotic environment on the ground in yemen that has allowed
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for aqap, the wing of al qaeda with the clearest designs to hit the united states, again room to govern and room to grow. aqap and isis are able to operate and control territory inside yemen because of the chaos created by this civil war. iran has grown stronger. at the beginning, iran and the houthis who were on the other side of this civil war, had a likely tenuous connection, but as the war has dragged on, the houthis have had to become more and more reliant on iranian assistance, iranian expertise. iran has grown stronger and stronger inside yemen and inside the region as this war persists. in every way it has been a nightmare from a security perspective for the united states. but with the election and
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inauguration of president biden, our participation in this national security cataclysm is coming to an end. and i come to the floor today to thank the biden administration, to thank incoming secretary of state tony blinken for their recognition that it is no longer in our security interests to be a part of this. the biden administration has been made several very important decisions. they have announced at the outset of their term in office -- one, the plan to withdraw from the military coalition. second, a decision to suspend arms sales to saudi arabia and the u.a.e., who are the primary participants in this coalition. the u.a.e. has dramatically
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scaled back their involvement, to their credit. the saudis continue to fight this war on the ground an in the air. -- and in the air. and lastly and perhaps most immediately importantly, the trump administration a nnounced that they were reversing an 11th hour decision by the trump administration naming the houthis a terrorist group. now, the houthis are incredibly bad actors. the houthis are also guilty of war crimes in and around this conflict. they recruit child soldiers. they deliberately hold up aid and don't allow it to get to the citizens in areas under which they control. the houthis have a lot to answer for as well. but by naming them a terrorist group, what the trump administration effectively did was stop the international aid community from being able to deliver any aid into yemen, because the houthis control some of the most important ports and
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80% of the aid is commercial food. that would have all stopped if you couldn't run aid through ports controlled by an organization named at the 11th hour by the trump administration as a terrorist organization. the biden administration has made the decision to suspend that designation to make sure that we are not going to end up with millions of people starving inside the united states -- inside of yemen because the united states makes the decision to eliminate the ability of humanitarian groups to get food on the ground in yemen. these are all incredibly important decisions that the administration has made, decisions supported by a majority of this body. we have voted here in the senate on a bipartisan basis to end the u.s. participation in the war in yemen. we didn't have a veto-proof majority, so we couldn't overcome the president's veto. but there is a bipartisan
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coalition that believes the united states shouldn't have anything to do with this and president biden is now effect weight -- effectuating that bipartisan consensus in policy. lastly, let me say this. sawrk is an important -- saudi arabia is an important security partner for the united states. the u.a.e. is an important security partner for the united states. we have an important counterterrorism relationship. the saudis and emiratis have been part of this groundbreaking detente with israel resulting in several recognition agreements that's great for u.s. security interests in the region. but it's time for us to reset those relationships to make clear that if our gulf partners
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are going to participate in actions inside the region that are terrible for our security interests, then we can't join them in those actions. a reset that includes an expectation that the saudis and the emiratis address what is a very disturbing downward trend in the ability of individuals inside those countries to have political space with which to contest grievances with the regimes. it's time for us to make sure that our relationships with our gulf allies are always consistent with u.s. national security endeavors. and the biden administration is off to a very good start in resetting those relationships by pulling ourselves out of a war inside yemen that has killed 17,000 civilians, caused
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100,000 kids to die of starvation and disease and ends up with our bombs doing this to a school bus full of eight, nine, and ten-year olds. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senior senator from iowa. mr. grassley: the senate is currently considering the nomination of mr. mayorkas to serve as secretary of homeland security, and i document floor at this point -- and i come to the floor at this point before we vote on that motion today to raise questions about whether or not he should be in that position as secretary of homeland security and the fact that i will be voting negative. i'm familiar with mr. mayorkas from my past oversight of the eb-5 investment visa program
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from 2009 until 2013, mr. mayorkas served as director of u.s. citizenship and immigration services which administers that eb-5 visa program. during that time more than 15 whistle-blowers approached my office to raise questions about mr. mayorkas and his management of the eb-5 program. the whistle-blowers alleged that mr. mayorkas was intervening in routine and technical matters that were not typically handled by the director of that division. they also alleged that he was doing so with the request of well-connected democratic politicians and other politically connected stakeholders. as my colleagues are aware, i have long cri sized the --
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criticized the fraud and abuse rampant in the program and continually introduced bipartisan legislation with senator leahy to reform the program, so it shouldn't be a surprise to any of my colleagues when i hear from 15 different whistle-blowers about anything about the eb-5 program that i would further investigate it. i've also conducted consistent oversight of the eb-5 program across presidential administrations, whether they were democratic or republican. so when whistle-blowers approach my office with these serious allegations, as i said before, i'm determined to get to the bottom of these matters. one of the cases in which whistle-blowers said mr. mayorkas had intervened
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involved a company with ties to former secretary clinton's brother, anthony rodham. mr. rodham's company wasn't happy with the speed with which its applications were being conducted by the customs and immigration service, so company representatives made repeated inquiries to the department of health and human services, or the department of homeland security. and they did this in an effort to get mr. mayorkas to speed things up. my investigation found that between 2010 and 2013, mr. mayorkas had nearly a dozen contacts with that company, including direct communications
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with its attorneys. mr. mayorkas forwarded requests from the company along to his team, marking at least one of those forwarded messages as highly, high priority. he became heavily involved in the process of revising a draft of a technical decision from his division's administrative appeals office that was initially unfavorable to the company. so because of his involvement, in the end the opinion was rewritten that manner that was much more favorable to mr. rodham's company. in 2013, i wrote to mr. mayorkas five letters about
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his management of the eb-5 program. in those letters i asked him detailed questions in order to get his side of the story. and when he didn't answer my initial questions, i wrote him repeatedly to follow up. at this point it's been more than seven years, and i still have not received answers to more than 25 specific questions that i asked during that 2013 investigation. following his nomination to serve as department of homeland security secretary, i wrote to mr. mayorkas again on january 15 to raise my concerns and to provide him yet another opportunity to answer my questions. he sent me a very short response
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on january 19 that -- can you believe this -- still failed to answer most of the questions that i was trying to get answers for. it's very important for nominees confirmed by this body to be responsive to congressional oversight requests. mr. mayorkas consistently refused to respond to my questions, and that should concern all of us in the united states senate, because no senator should be denied answers to his questions doing proper oversight of the executive branch. furthermore, we now know that many of the whistle-blower allegations made to my office were accurate. many whistle-blowers who approached my office raised
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similar concerns with john roth, the obama-appointed inspector general at the department of homeland security at that time, who released his office's report detailing its investigation into these matters way back in 2015. in that 2015 report, inspector general roth found that, quote, employees believe that mr. mayorkas' favored certain politically powerful eb-5 stakeholders was reasonable, end of quote of the inspector generals report. the i.g. also said that the number and variety of witnesses who came forward to his investigation was ,quote-unquote, highly
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unusually. allegations didn't come from one or two disgruntled employees. according to the inspector general, they came from current and retired career and noncareer members of the senior executive service, as well as all levels of supervisors, immigration officers, attorneys, and employees involved in fraud detection and in national security. according to inspector general roth, the fact, quote, that so many individuals were willing to step forward and tell what happened was evidence of deep resentment about mr. mayorkas' actions related to the eb-5 program, end of quote from the i.g. report. the i.g. also found that mr. mayorkas' actions, quote,
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created an appearance of favoritism and special access in some eb-5 adjudication matters, and that he created special processes and revised existing policies in the eb-5 program to accomplish, accommodate specific parties, end of quote. in addition to the case involving mr. rodham's company, other cases reviewed by the inspector general involved well-connected democrats, including former pennsylvania governor ed rendell, and then senate majority leader harry reid. in each of the cases reviewed by the inspector general where mr. mayorkas had intervened, the i.g. found that, quote, but for mr. mayorkas' intervention,
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the matter would have been decided differently, end of quote. witnesses were also fearful, and some only spoke to the i.g. after being assured of anonymity. one whistle-blower told my office they were extremely uncomfortable in meetings with mr. mayorkas. mr. mayorkas' actions raised serious concerns in 2013 when he was nominated to serve as deputy secretary of homeland security during president president obamd term. it's why he couldn't be confirmed to that role until after then-majority leader harry reid invoked the nuclear option on nominations. not a single republican senator was willing to support his confirmation then, and no
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senator should support it at this time. finally, i'm concerned that mr.o express any regret whatsoever for his previous actions during his recent confirmation hearing before the homeland security committee. instead he appeared to take the view that interfering in eb-5 cases on behalf of well-connected politicians and stakeholders was somehow the same as casework help offered to americans who experienced problems with international adoption systems. it was a baffling comparison. now every one of us senators know that when a nominee for the cabinet or subcabinet comes before our committee, they're always asked questions by
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senators. for sure i do it. will you respond to our oversight letters, phone calls, or appearing before our committee? and every one of them says yes, but not every one of them, not every one of them -- how would you say it? not every one of them keeps your word i guess is what i should say. so i suggest to them, if you really want to be honest when you take that oath to answer in an honest fashion, maybe when you get that question asked, will you respond to requests from committee members in our oversight work, you ought to say maybe instead of saying yes. anyway, i think it's very clear that i strongly oppose
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mr. mayorkas' confirmation, and i urge all of my colleagues to reject it as well. thank you, and i yield the floor.
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mr. king: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. mr. king: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that upon the conclusion of morning business on tuesday, february 2, the senate proceed to
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executive session to consider the nomination of calendar number 5, peter buttigieg of indiana, to be secretary of transportation. further that the time until 12:00 noon be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees and that at 12:00 noon the senate vote without intervening action or debate on the nomination. that if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
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mr. daines: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator for montana. mr. daines: mr. president, tomorrow is the 48th annual march for life. although this year's march will
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primarily be virtual, standing together for the unborn and all life is as important now as it's ever been. 48 years ago our country started down a dark path. 48 years ago the supreme court tragically ruled in roe v. wade. and since then, we've lost the lives of 62 million people -- 62 million and counting, unborn babies, precious lives by abortion. i believe every human being is born with god-given dignity and potential. no court, no legislature, no law can take that away. nevertheless, today with babies with down syndrome are the most endangered on earth. and for me this is very personal. just under three years ago our world was blessed with a sweet
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baby boy named andrew. he has down's. his parents are very close friends. andrew is a true joy and his family celebrates his life every single day. our world truly would not be the same without him. but in the united states 67% -- 67% of babies diagnosed with down's syndrome are aborted, two out of three. for every person with down's syndrome alive today that you know or you meet are friends, family members, loved ones, two more are gone from this world because of abortion. this is chilling. in europe the numbers are even worse. in fact, in iceland, because of abortion, the population of
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individuals with down syndrome is virtually being eradicated. as prenatal screenings increase in availability, mothers frequently learn before birth if their baby has down syndrome. rather than giving supportive resources, these vulnerable moms are often pressured to abort the baby. we all too often hear of a false compassion, that it would be better for unborn babies with down's syndrome or other disabilities to not be brought into this world rather than live a life that might be different from other children. but that is not who we are as americans. i'm deeply concerned that for babies born with down's syndrome, abortion has become, and i quote, a tool of modern
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day eugenics, the supreme court clarence thomas has said. it pains me to think about it. but we can't just think about this pain and the pain that it causes. we've got to do something. we've got to protect those precious lives at all costs. it's the duty of this body to end this injustice. and that's why i'm joining my colleague from oklahoma, senator inhofe, in introducing the protecting individuals with down's syndrome act, which will prohibit abortions that are sought because of a diagnosis that an unborn child has or may have down's syndrome. this effort has the overwhelming support of the american public. in fact, just yesterday a new knights of columbus poll found
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that 70% of americans oppose aborting a child on the basis the child will be born with down syndrome -- 70%. in fact, that includes over half of those who identify as pro-choice. this issue also sadly exposes a terrible hypocrisy we're seeing among supporters of abortion on demand. in fact, today most republicans and democrats here in congress are unified -- unified in their support for the special olympics and for protecting individuals with disabilities. yet, many of my colleagues across the aisle will oppose this commonsense legislation to stop the most lethal kind of discrimination imaginable, and that's being singled out and brutally killed because of a down syndrome diagnosis. it's shameful.
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as henry hyde famously said, and i quote, the promise of america is not just for the privileged, the planned, and the perfect. it is our duty to protect every innocent life no matter how small, no matter how many chromosomes they may have. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator for nevada. a senator: mr. president, i stand before you and my colleagues today to speak in support of the nomination of alejandro nicholas mayorkas to serve as secretary of the department of homeland security. there is no question that ali mayorkas is equal fade for this
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position. he previously served as a director of u.s. customs and immigration service and as deputy secretary at d.h.s. ms. rosen: today i want to tell you about ali mayorkas's story and why he's the right pick for this position and why we can achieve what we need to with mre department of homeland security. during his committee meeting, my fellow committee members and i had a chance to hear from mr. mayorkas and his family history. he told us the harrowing story of his family fleeing persecution, traveling to a new country in search of freedom, acceptance and a safe place to call home. during the holocaust, mr. mayorkas's mother lost her paternal grandparents and seven of her uncles simply for being
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jewish, simply because of the faith they practiced. his mother and his maternal grandparents fled, but they fled in order to survive. but the story of mr. mayorkas's family was far from over. his parents fled cuba during castro's revolution, bringing mr. mayorkas and his sister here to the united states in 1960. they came here as refugees searching for freedom, searching for acceptance, searching for safety. ali mayorkas is an american success story. he came here as a child. his family made a life here. he pursued an education, he dedicated his life to public service. he worked hard to give back to the nation that gave his family so much. and now mr. mayorkas has volunteered to serve his country once again in this new role he will work to keep our nation safe and secure while ensuring
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that we treat all human beings with dignity that they respect. under the last presidential administration, we saw unimaginable cruelty, family members separated from each other, children taken from their mother's arms. we saw a total disregard of the struggles of refugees facing persecution in their home countries and making the hard breaking -- heartbreaking choice to leave and make the dangerous journey to the united states. i know that under the leadership of secretary mayorkas our department of homeland security will strive to uphold the values of our nation. it will also bring much-needed stability to the department. it will work to reverse the cruel and heartless policies of the previous administration. it will work to protect dreamers and t.p.s. holders. he will work on smart solutions
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to secure our border and he will work with congress to finally past comprehensive imagination reform. that's not all he'll do at d.h.s. under mr. mayorkas's leadership, he will work to ensure the safety and security of our homeland. the homeland he was brought to as a child. the homeland that he and his family have made their own. i spoke with the persecution that ali mayorkas' family faced during the holocaust, a threat of an ti semitism and white -- anti-semitism and white supremacy. it still persists today and it's growing right here in the united states and everywhere across the globe. last year a d.h.s. assessment concluded, and i quote, racially and ethically motivated violent extremists, specifically white supremacist extremists will remain the most persistent and
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lethal, lethal threat in the homeland. we've seen that violent extremism in action. we saw it on january 6 in this very city against this legislative body and in in very chamber. when i asked ali mayorkas about this issue during our committee hearing, he made clear that he understands the threat that white supremacy, anti-semitism, and extremism pose to the health of our nation, to the health of our democracy. if we're going to fight hatred and violent extremism, we need someone leading the charge who understands and takes seriously the threat to all americans, the threats to our children, the threats to our school, to our workplaces, to our places of worship. he's committed to addressing online radicalization and strengthening the nonprofit
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security grant program to ensure that houses of worship and other nonprofit organizations are kept safe from potential terror attacks. so whether it's combating extremism, foreign or domestic terrorism, cyberattacks, or adversaries from abroad, mr. mayorkas expressed a clear commitment to keeping our nation safe and as fully prepared and qualified to serve as the head of d.h.s. mr. president, ali mayorkas is the right pick to lead this department, and i urge swift confirmation so he can get to work immediately for us and our country. i will vote for ali mayorkas and i urge my colleagues to do the same. i yield back.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. a senator: mr. president, i rise in support of alejandro mayorkas' nomination to be secretary of the department of homeland security. mr. peters: as recent events have shown, our country is facing dangerous threats to our security and to our national security. violence and domestic terrorism spurred on by white supremacy, ideology, and anti-government sentiment and conspiracy theories continues to rise. we saw the tragic and deadly result of that growing threat right here in the capitol just three weeks ago. and just yesterday the department of homeland security issued a counterterrorism
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bulletin warning of possible further violence in the coming weeks. earlier this year we learned that hackers likely backed by a foreign adversary, carried out the largest cybersecurity breach of our federal government. we still do not have all the answers on how they were able to infiltrate our networks or what information they had access to. all this is happening while we are struggling to control a once in a century pandemic that has tragically taken over 425,000 american lives so far. the department of homeland security should be leading a forceful response to these complex and significant threats and protecting americans, but the department and its more than 240,000 employees need a qualified, experienced, and
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senate-confirmed leader at the helm, a leader like alejandro mayorkas. mr. mayorkas has built an extensive national security record throughout his career in public service. he has been confirmed by the senate three times, including twice for senior roles at the department of homeland security. not only did he help lead the obama administration's successful responses to the ebola and zeka epidemics, he also played a critical role in protecting the homeland from foreign and domestic terrorism, strengthened our national cybersecurity, and increased cooperation between the federal government and local law enforcement agencies. not only does he stand ready to lead the department as he tackles these serious and challenging national security threats, mr. mayorkas also understands that the department and its mission have a real
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effect on people and their families. his own family's journey to the united states, first fleeing nazi occupation in eastern europe and later immigrating to the united states from cuba has given him a unique perspective on the very heart of the department's mission. something that was certainly lost during the previous administration. mr. mayorkas is uniquely qualified to make sure the department of homeland security is working to protect people from all backgrounds, all communities, and all walks of life. mr. mayorkas has the qualifications, the experience, and the record of accomplishments to provide steady leadership, to help restore trust in the department, and to safeguard our national security. that's why it's no surprise that
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his nomination has been endorsed by four former homeland security secretaries and a former acting secretary from both democratic and republican administrations. he also has the support of more than 30 cybersecurity experts, 34 former homeland security officials, and multiple law enforcement organizations, including the fraternal order of police. within this body there are certainly very different views on the role of the federal government, but one thing i think we can all agree on is a top -- as a top priority, keeping americans safe. it is our number one job. and that's why i am asking my colleagues to join me today in supporting the confirmation of mr. mayorkas as secretary of homeland security so that he can quickly begin the important and
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essential task of working to strengthen our national security and safeguarding all americans. mr. peters: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that the cloture vote begins immediately. the presiding officer: is
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there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of alejandro nicholas mayorkas to be secretary of the department of homeland security signed by 18 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of alejandro nicholas mayorkas of the district of columbia to be secretary of homeland security shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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