tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN January 9, 2019 2:15pm-6:43pm EST
with only one exception -- >> we leave this here but you can see the rest on a website, the spirit at work. right now we take your life to the senate where lawmakers are considering a bill dealing with the literary aid to israel. most of today's debate is focused on the government shutdown in the president's demand for a wall with us, next the border. live coverage of the u.s. senate here on the fan too. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 12 submitted earlier ga. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 12 to constitute the majority party's membership on certain committees for the 115th congress or until their successors are chosen. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider
be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 13 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 13 to constitute the minority party's membership on certain committees for the 116th congress or up their successors are chosen. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hirono: mr. president, this shutdown is not a negotiation situation. this is a hostage situation. the president of the united states has taken 800,000 federal
workers, tens of thousands of federal contractors and thousands of small businesses hostage to extort money for his vanity wall. we've all heard from our constituents about the pain the shutdown is causing. this friday many government employees will miss their first paycheck as a result of the shutdown. now, most of us live in a world where people need paychecks and it's obvious that our constituents shouldn't have to make adjustments as the president frames it for the president's showdown -- shutdown. our 800,000 federal workers aren't the only people in our country feeling the impact of this shutdown. the situation is inflicting unnecessary pain on our government contracting community and small businesses that rely on the day-to-day operations of the federal government, not to mention the millions of americans who request government
services. let me just tell you one story. michele baker is a federal contractor in waikiki who helps the national oceanic and atmospheric administration, the fish and wildlife service, and other agencies write reports in a way that's accessible to the public. michele told honolulu civil beat that she and her husband have resorted to taking out a payday loan with an exceptionally high interest rate to pay for their food this week. let me be clear. there are two people who can end the pain of the shutdown right now. donald trump and senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. the president has demonstrate repeatedly that his word is not good. he is an amoral hostage taker and you cannot and should not negotiate with a hostage taker. senator mcconnell on the other hand has not held back in
exercising his power when he saw fit to do so. senator mcconnell had no problem using his power to unilaterally deny considering judge merrick garland to serve on the united states supreme court. senator mcconnell had no problem using his power to lower the number of senators it would take to confirm nominees to the supreme court starting with neil gorsuch. senator mcconnell had no problem using his power to force the senate to come within one vote of denying health care to millions of americans by bringing forth a bill to repeal the affordable care act. and senator mcconnell had no problem using his power to ram through a huge tax cut for the wealthiest americans and corporations at the expense of middle-class families. senator mcconnell has the power to end the shutdown by bringing up the legislation that the house has sent us, the same legislation that passed the
senate last congress to get the full government open and running again. we should all be asking why won't senator mcconnell use his power to help 800,000 federal workers and tens of thousands of government contractors get their paychecks? no one needs to remind senator mcconnell that congress is a separate branch of government. the senate can act without the hostage taker president's consent or assent. since the amoral president has hunkered down with his hostage strategy, i call on senator mcconnell to use his power to do his job as senate majority leader. more members of his own caucus are coming forward every day and calling on him to act regardless of whether the president threatens or promises a veto. it's time for senator mcconnell to stand up to donald trump and for the senate to do our job.
mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. i come to the floor today on what is now day 19 of the trump shutdown, an epic presidential temper tantrum that forces the rest of us to once again plead with the president to stop hurting the american families he promised to represent. this time it's because president trump marched our country right into a government shutdown paralyzing federal agencies and preventing them from carrying out the most basic government functions. and what does this president have to show for it?
800,000 hardworking americans, some off the job and some still asked to come in. their bills mounting and no money coming in. and that clause the air traffic controllers in my state of washington who wrote my letters. they don't question whether they'll keep showing up to do the job they love, the jo be that does the -- the job that keeps the public safe. but they have no idea when they'll get their next paycheck, and that means stress, stress about providing for their families, pay their mortgages and post-christmas bills. they are forced to bear the brunt of this trump shutdown. thousands of senior citizens and individuals with disabilities facing possible eviction as h.u.d. scrambles to figure out how to make housing payments.
our national parks, the crown jewels of our country, no longer adequately maintained for public use while the small businesses right outside the parks that rely on visitors, like those outside mount rainier national park in washington, are feeling the pain and cutting back on staffing. our farmers, our tree fruit growers, are unable to get their applications processed through the shuttered farm service agency. millions of low-income families are now unsure if they'll receive the help they need to put food on the table for their children in the coming weeks. mr. president, i could go on, but i don't need to. with each passing day, it is very clear just how much this trump shutdown is hurting families in every community, in every state of our country. and no prime-time address or fear-mongering trip to the border is going to change that reality. so to president trump, enough with the tweets.
enough with the fact-twisting. it's time to stop playing politics and finally agree to end the shutdown that you began. stop trying to bully your way out of this mess, and to my senate colleagues, in case it's not crystal clear, ending this nightmare is not complicated. three weeks ago in this very spot, we passed a bill that kept the federal government open without funding trump's wasteful wall, the one he promised mexico would pay for. that bill was very simple. it was all about keeping our government open and avoiding a completely unnecessary crisis. democrats supported the bill. republicans supported it. in fact, it passed unanimously. because we know the people we represent have no interest in elected officials playing games with their lives and livelihoods. and now the democratic house has followed suit. they'ves pad a bill that would
-- they've passed a bill that would do the same thing. yet that simple solution -- keeping our government funded, on schedule, without interruption -- has been stopped in its tracks by president trump. who apparently sees no problem with keeping the government shutdown for months or even years, as he said -- all to fulfill a shallow campaign promise that everyone knows will do nothing to truly address our broken immigration system and keep our country safe. so what we have here is a crisis of the president's own making, from top to bottom, and i, force one, find it simply -- and i, for one, find it simply outrageous that instead of work looking for real solutions, the president is dug in and demanding american taxpayers bail him out to save his face. mr. president, members of this congress were elected to make decisions to help the american people. we were not sent here to provide
cover for the president. so i urge my republican colleagues, make it your priority to work with us, to find our government and end this completely unnecessary crisis. this started out as a trump shutdown, but with every day that passes, the republican senate won't act, republican leaders take more and more ownership alopping with every republican -- along with every republican senator who supports them. some in the senate are already standing up, and i commend them. they want to work with us to stand up to president trump and end this shutdown, and they would like the opportunity to vote to do just that. but not enough yet and the clock is ticking. so i say this to republican leaders -- work with us to restore certainty to the american people, from the hundreds of thousands of federal workers who are being forced to forego their paychecks, to the small business owners, to the farmers, to the seniors and low-income families, to the air
traffic controllers, and all those people whose lives are being unnecessarily thrown into chaos and who deserve a fully functioning government. the president of the united states may be throwing a tantrum and playing political games, but the people that we represent in our country as a whole deserve a whole lot better. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. leahy: mr. president, we're now in day 19 of the trump shutdown. 19 days that the federal government, the oldest democracy and the world's only superpower, has been functioning on only half of its cylanders. i've spoken many times about this the impact this shutdown is having on the federalworkforce and domestic agencies. departments like agriculture and justice, interior, and commerce, agencies like customs and border patrol, the drug enforcement agency, and of course the national park service -- these departments and agencies have furloughed and stop paying hundreds of thousands of
employees who, as a result, are either no longer to do job that millions and millions of taxpayers depend on. hundreds of thousands more are working without pay until the shutdown ends. the president, who is a billionaire, who's never had to worry about being able to pay the rent or the groceries, says he can relate. well, if he actually believes he can relate to what they're going through, he's probably the only person in the world that believes that. programs are on hold, contracts are being canceled. incidentally, when these contracts are being canceled, the federal government is liable for penalties.
government shutdowns don't save money. they cost billions of dollars, and they have lasting consequences. and who pays for the shutdown, the billions of dollars? the american taxpayers. it's a disgrace. it's made even more so by the fact that it's entirely avoidable. were it not for the intransigence, indifferent obsession of one person, president trump. that obsession is not with border security. we're all for that. republicans and democrats are for border security. and there's already m.d. 1 billion in prior appropriations for border security just waiting for spent. in fact, we offered another $1.3 billion for fiscal year 2019. and of course the white house says nothing about that. no, the president's myopic obsession repeated on national television last night is for
building a 30-foot high wall, mostly on desolate lands that the government is going to have to seize from private owners along our southerner border. the price tag would be at least $18 billion, likely more, a price tag that campaign rally after campaign rally he promised the american people that mexico would pay. he gave his word mexico would pay. well, of course we know mexico won't pay. but there are multiple reasons why this is a terrible idea. i won't stop -- it won't stop -- why it won't stop illegal immigration, why it would be a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars. i've discussed that before and will again. but i want to talk about the impact a trump shutdown is having not on the federal government's domestic programs
and workforce but it's impact on u.s. national security and global leadership. it's worth asking, what made the united states the world superpower and a global leader in the first place? one reason of course is our superior armed forces. that's, i suspect, the only answer president trump would give. but it would be only partly correct. even more important, the ideals enshrined in our constitution, our bill of rights, our democratic institutions, our coequal branches of government, our diverse citizenry, our regional global alliances, and partnerships. and without these, our men and women in uniform would have precious little to defend. today the global supremacy influencing the united states is being challenged like no time since the cold war, with the former soviet union.
why? well, let's not look any further than 1600 pennsylvania avenue. since his first days in office, president trump has disparaged long-standing friends and allies. he's withdrawn from international agreements negotiated by past republican and democratic administrations. he's announced plans to withdraw from the key nuclear nonproliferation treaty. he's proposed drastic cuts to the operations and programs of the state department and the u.s. agency for international development. which implement our foreign policy. and on top of all that, the state department, like other federal departments and agencies, is swept up in the trump shutdown. so our choice is obvious -- we can engage with the world, we can affirm our commitment to our ideals, engage by continuing to
strengthen our democratic institutions, by empowering our diplomats, by expanding our global alliances and partnerships, or we can withdraw even to the point of shutting down the federal government. we can cede the global stage to others whose interests are often adverse to our own. we can become the captors of simplistic campaign slogan, xenophobic anti-migrant hysteria and the manufactured national emergency the president said that we needed a good shutdown, well, there is no such thing, not with the greatest country on earth. he said it would be fun to take down the mantle blame of shutting down the government, when he realized he was being
blamed, he blamed the democrats. he rejected out of hand to pass the six appropriations bills that already received overwhelming bipartisan support in the republican-controlled senate. republican-controlled senate, which it seems these bills passed with democrats and republicans. most of these bills have nothing to do with border security, but the president is holding hostage thousands of federal programs funded in those bills, including the paychecks for the people that implement them, and that harms all americans. with the stroke of a pen, the president could reopen the government, he could continue negotiations on border security, but he refuses. he said flippantly, well, the shutdown could last months or even years. in the greatest nation on earth
he would diminish our nation every single day. what has this reckless abuse of power meant, what has it meant to our state department and our embassies overseas whose job it is to maintain our alliances and partnerships, to assist the millions of americans working, studying, and serving overseas to protect our security. as of yesterday, 34%, more than one-third of u.s. direct hire state department employees in washington and at our embassies around the world have been furloughed. 10,000 employees at the state department alone are unable to do a job, others are working without pay. what does that mean for our -- when our businesses want to seek
help from one of our embassies abroad? what does it mean when a citizen with a problem -- a u.s. citizen with a problem abroad seeks help? there's nobody there. if the shutdown continues, more paychecks will be withheld. the number of furloughed employees will increase. and then the parallel of shutting down diplomacy of contracts, our ability to engage with allies and adversaries. the affects are far reaching. the bureau of diplomatic security will run short of funds, forcing the state department to deplete resources to keep other programs operating in order to protect our diplomats and facilities overseas or eventually relying on unpaid contractors to protect
u.s. interest. roughly 85% of the employees at the state department at the office of inspector general have already been furloughed. so if you want to look into any questions of waste, fraud, and abuse, that has ground to a halt. vietnam is becoming a key security partner in the pacific region, but thanks to the trump shutdown, key employees at our embassy and usaid mission were furloughed. i'm told that the lights are still on and the american flag is flying, but that's about it. this is happening in every region in the world. the most powerful nation on earth is there with the lights on and nobody working.
this makes us a laughingstock of much of the world. for example, the state department and the u.s. embassies regularly use their social media accounts to update americans overseas of important developments that might potentially affect their safety. that was the case during the recent tsunami in indonesia. what happens when the next natural disaster happens, how does the state department respond when americans abroad rely on their social media accounts but they've fallen silent. what about the loss of u.s. influence on the world stage with most official travel suspended, how do we assure our priorities are protected in the next trade or arms control or international health summit? a lot of other countries might be happy to see the united
states not there because suddenly they are the influential ones, not our country. what do you suppose the leaders of china, russia, iran, syria, and north korea, not to mention allies like great britain, canada and japan think about this? i can almost see president putin or the ayatollah celebrating. what could be better than u.s. embassies operating on life support and u.s. diplomats sidelined when the u.s. government is shutdown over -- is shut down over building a wall across our southwest desert. just think about that. we're shut down.
we can't engage in critical diplomacy around the world. why? well, we're kind of distracted by building a wall somewhere in the desert. can you imagine how that makes us look to the rest of the world? in fact, if president trump thinks that the rest of the world is going to wait for the u.s. government to reopen, the opposite is going to happen. they will take advantage of way that's will not be short lived while massive humanitarian crises imperil the lives of people in yemen, burma, central america, the white house is embracing a diminishing role for the united states. while russia meddles in our elections and expands its influence in the middle east, while china buys the allegiance of countries in africa, asia, and our own hemisphere by
investing in ports and transportation projects, our state department is shutting down programs and sending our people home. and it's not just at the state department. the usaid, the peace corps, the millennium challenge corporation, the overseas private investment corporations are canceling activities. we are saying to countries that we should be competing with, we give up, you take over, you be the great country. what is happening? and with the exception of the u.s. military, if this drags on, the united states will be a super power in name only. exaggeration? well don't bet ton. while our nation is furloughed, rather than use the funds
provided for border security, funds that we have provided for border security that we haven't even spent, the president has ignored the legislative process, and wants the pentagon to pay for the wall, the wall that he gave his word and swore that mexico would pay for. well, not only did he break his word on that, of course, but it's such a flagrant misuse of authority that circumvents the process. of course it will challenge the congress, of course it will challenge the courts. regardless of what happens what does that say to the rest of the world about our commitment to democracy? how we're being perceived outside this country, particularly by autocrats in
syria, saudi arabia, brazil, egypt, hungary, poland or china, welshing the actions of the leader is fast becoming the leader of the former democracy in this world. it would be williamed as a -- williamed as a -- welcomed as a green light by some without regard of the legislature as we have seen some countries do in shutting down the independent press, arresting judges, arresting oppositional political leaders, using the army, closing the borders, all in the name of a manufactured national emergency, they are going to look at the united states. this is already happening.
look at guatemala. they pretend to be a democracy, but their president is openly defying the constitutional court magistrates who are courageously defending the institutions of justice. they are under assault, and the police are ignoring orders of their attorney general. in egypt, the president there has locked up tens of thousands of political opponents and other dissidents. in turkly -- turkey, president erdogan has done the same. who praises them when they do this? president trump praises them. in brazil, the president of bra glal, has -- brazil, has vowed to open up the amazon to mining, logging, and agricultural
business. he wants to give the police a free hand to use deadly lethal force with impunity. he's gearing up to crack down on civil liberties. and where does his applause come from? the white house. no one disputes that the united states has experienced national emergencies. we face potentially ex extensional threat, look at pearl harbor, or a future deadly disease that could affect thousands of americans, rapidly spreads out of control. that might qualify as an emergency. the president talks as though the sky is falling in texas, but any rationale person -- rational person recognizes that this is
not remotely a national emergency. to call central american families fleeing poverty and violence a threat to the security of the world's most wealthy and powerful country is wrong. it's an embarrassment especially when the border patrol's own data shows appear number of migrants apprehended at the border has plummeted. and the white house is grasping at the promise of the president to pay for the wall has played fast and loose with the facts and desperate attempt to insight fear among the american people and i guess to distract the american people from the fact that the president broke his word. the president and those -- vice president and others -- have
said all kinds misaccurate data about unaccompanied children and illegal drugs and these so-called facts are contradicted by their own agencies in our government. the white house says thousands of white house terrorists have been apprehended, falsely saying they were stopped at the mexican border. well, almost none of them were. we face a far more serious threat from al qaeda and isis using social media to commit terrorist acts. the last thing anyone would do is genuinely concerned about terrorism is to shut down our government and with hold funding from the very agencies whose job it is to track down and arrest those people. you can't say we fear terrorists, but we're going to
cut out the money and close down the agencies that are supposed to go after them. you know, the real threat to our national security is shutting down the government, furloughing 10,000 state department employees, telling our embassies to cancel programs, telling our diplomats to stay home. while we come to grips, we can more humanely and efficiently process the question of asylum, which we have to do, we ought to stay focused on the real threat to our national security. we need our embassies at full strength. we need our diplomats in the room with the european, russian, south korean, central american, european, middle eastern and african counterparts. we need to strengthen nato and other alliances so we can rely on our partners to support us in responding to real emergencies around the world. we need to expand our
cybersecurity, nonproliferation, international broadcasting, other public diplomacy, internet freedom programs, military education and training, maritime security, law enforcement, other international assistance programs. instead because of the president's obsession with this wall across the desert, these and other state department programs are stuck in neutral. the people who implement them are at home and our security is diminished. we need to act like a super power at the united nations and nato and many other regional organizations with decisions that may directly affect our interests and our security. but none of this is possible during a government shutdown. a shutdown that with each passing day erodes our democracy, weakens our global leadership and threatens our security. and we all know, republicans
and democrats alike in this body know this, the american people know this, the world knows this, the president needs to reopen the government, start act like the defender of the constitution and of our national security, the defender the country needs. how do we take care of this? i would again urge the republican leader, let the senate vote on the bipartisan six-bill minibus, and when it passes he and the entire republican caucus should urge the president to sign it, because it would pass. if the republican leader brought up this bill to open the government, it would pass. it is something that senator shelby and i have worked so hard on, and we've got almost unanimous agreement of republicans and democrats for. it would pass. all they have to do is have the republican leader bring it up.
because remember, that is our job. we're an independent coequal branch of government. we're supposed to vote and appropriate the funds so the federal government can work for all of the american people. it is not our job as senators to sit on the sidelines while the wheels of government grind to a halt because the president is recklessly holding it hostage. let's do our job. let the senate be the conscience of the nation. let us pass these bills. they would pass easily. let's urge the president to sign them if they do. we can get our government back and open. stop looking like a petulant child to the rest of the world. let us be the super power we can be. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk
will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from montana. the presiding officer: i would ask the --. mr. tester: i would ask the quorum call be viscerated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tester: thank you. i rise to set the record straight on the president's border wall. quite frankly, something he didn't talk about much last night during his speech to the country, but the truth is this is where the problem is. so i want to talk about it a little bit today. the president made it crystal clear dozens of times in fact that he was prepared to shut the
government down in order to get the $5.7 billion for the wall leading up to that speech last night. so here we are today, day 19 of president trump's shutdown. political gamesmanship, but that's nothing new in washington, d.c. but the fact is our debates need to be grounded in facts. so here are the facts. the president's demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall is tall on hyperbole and light on theatrics and short on facts. the president last night said congress refused to provide the resources needed to secure the border. that is not true. in fiscal year 2018 congress
gave the president $1.3 billion to construct fencing and other fixed structures along the southern border. i know so because i worked side by side with my republican colleagues to write that bill. today not one of thoses projects is under construction. not one. strong border security is much more than physical barriers. congress appropriated $21 billion for immigration enforcement and border security in last year's homeland security appropriations act. that includes money to exphand manpower -- expand manpower, increase technology and utilize communication services and resources on top of funding for physical barriers. here's another fact, hard narcotics like meth, cocaine and opioids are not coming over the border in backpacks.
they are coming through our ports in cars and trucks. we have the technology to fix that, so let's appropriate the money towards real solutions at our ports to stop the drugs from entering our country, not the $5.7 billion for a wall. so again, let's stick to the facts. despite having more than $21 billion in border security and immigration enforcement funding, including funds for physical barriers, the president has shut down the government to demand another $5.7 billion exclusively for a wall. one would think to ask what would you possibly spend $5.7 billion on, especially after already having $21 billion to spend on border security and immigration enforcement. and we did ask him that.
we asked him for a plan. we told the president and homeland security secretary nielsen that if ner going to break their promise to have mexico pay for the wall and use american taxpayer dollars, they ought to produce a plan of action. the plan that we received in late december was incomplete. no analysis of alternative technologies, no analysis on the impact to communities, to landowners, to wildlife. and that plan only asked for $1.6 billion, not the $5.7 billion that the president is now demanding. the president has also failed to address private property rights and eminent domain. what is he going to do if a family refuses to sell off wide
tracts of their farm or ranch to allow a wall to go through and split their ranch, divide their ranch? are families going to see their water -- going to cede their water and mineral rights? is the administration prepared to enter into good-faith negotiations with literally thousands of families? and do we know how much that is going to cost the american taxpayer? these questions need answers. yet with these questions still unanswered, there are folks in this body, the united states senate, who are prepared to write a $5.7 billion check to the president right now. so here we are on day 19 of the president's shut down, during the president's speech last night he was right about one thing. there is a crisis taking shape in our country. but it is not the crisis on the southern border that he's trying
to manufacture. as a result of the president's shutdown, there are 19,000 border agents to date who are working without pay. there are 51,000 t.s.a. agents working without pay. these are hardworking folks. they have families, they have mortgages, and they're being forced by the president to secure our country's borders and ports and airports while not knowing when their next paycheck will arrive. i've heard from border patrol agents who moved across the country at their own expense so that they can be stationed along montana's northern border. how have they been repaid for their willingness to serve? well, they're not being paid. not only do they have to absorb the moving costs, but now they have to pay for rent and cover all essential costs without a paycheck.
and they are continually wondering when they will get paid next. look, at the end of last year c.p.b.'s recruitment efforts started to bear fruit. it began to achieve gains in hiring border agents. this shutdown not only could but i believe it will setback those efforts dramatically. who could blame a family for passing on a job that could force you to work for free? the president talked last night of a sacred duty to america. i can think of few things more un-american than withholding pay for someone for an honest day's work. it is not those just stationed at the border and at the airports who are hurting because of the president's shutdown. i'm going to give you a small sample of letters and e-mails that i've received since the shutdown began from the folks from the great state of montana.
ronald from western montana says this: i spoke to my son, a career coast guard member. he tells me that the coast guard is being directed to continue their duties without being paid due to this ridiculous shutdown. he writes to me, senator, that is not right. why do these brave men and women have to continue to risk their lives without being paid? my boy is worried about being evicted from his apartment with two young daughters and a wife because they won't receive their housing allowance. please help fix this un-american situation. shiloh from bozeman writes, i and other federal employees have been converted into political footballs for partisan politics. my christmas vacation was canceled and pay has been suspended during a time when some of us need the money the
most. we are being disadvantaged and made to suffer while the comfortable and other folks are unaffected and cling to their ash tarry political -- arbitrary political ideologies. darrin says i have farm equipment that is at a standstill because the usda is not picking up the phone. i have contractors and vendors who are waiting to be paid. the impact of this shutdown will last long after it ends. debra from indian country. my daughter is a federal employee serving the cheyenne tribe in montana through the indian health service. my daughters are enrolled members of the northern cheyenne tribe and both are single hardworking mothers. my granddaughters are afraid their moms won't be able to pay the bills or buy the groceries if the paycheck doesn't arrive. morale is poor. please stop this immoral shutdown. it is very unfair to hardworking
people, like my daughters. they must work and will not get a paycheck this friday if the shutdown continues. mr. president, this is what a crisis looks like, and this is a crisis that you have created. the president barely mentioned the wall last night in his address to the nation, yet we are here on day 19 of a government shutdown that is a direct result of his wish to build a wall from sea to shining sea. it is time for the senate to be the senate. it is time for the folks in this body to quit making decisions based on politics and start making them based on facts. and the facts in this place are clear. there is no plan for $5.7 billion for a border wall. mexico will not pay for it. and the dysfunction of this
administration is causing real turmoil in the lives of 800,000 workers and their families. i'm calling on the majority to bring some common sense to this situation. and to stand behind the partisan legislation that republicans and democrats have passed over the last semple months, over -- several months, over the last month in particular to reopen the government and put an end to this crisis. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mrs. fischer: i would ask that the quorum call be lifted please. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. fischer: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to deliver a message to the hardworking agriculture producers in nebraska and across america who feed the world. at the end of last congress, the house and senate came together and passed a five-year farm bill that provided the certainty and the predictability our farmers and ranchers needed during tough
economic times. president trump signed this important piece of legislation into law. as a proud member of the senate ag committee, i had the privilege of working on this legislation in securing key provisions for nebraskans. among these were measures that protected crop insurance, streamlined trade promotion programs, bolstered opportunities for producers to use precision ag technology, and unleashed broadband deployment throughout rural america. because of this bill, folks in agriculture were feeling more confident about planning for the future. now we find ourselves in the middle of a partial government shutdown and there is some anxiety in farm country as funding to the united states department of agriculture has lapsed. in that regard, i want to provide some important updates
to producers who are concerned. the year round sale of v15 is critical and it's a critical issue for nebraska's farmers. renewable fuel producers and our rural communities. our state has 25 ethanol plants that employ more than 1,300 hardworking nebraskans with high-paying jobs which are mostly located in rural communities. but for far too long, an outdated regulation that banned the sale of v15 during summer months has held our communities back. here in the senate, i worked closely with a group of farm state colleagues to demonstrate the benefits of higher blends of ethanol fuel. i also championed bipartisan legislation that consumer, fuel, and retailer choice act to allow for the sale of b15 year round.
our efforts got president trump's attention and i was proud to support him last fall when he announced he would direct the e.p.a. to initiate the year round sale of e15. through our continued efforts in the senate and the action by president trump to follow through on his promise, rural america is on the way to a major victory. this week some reports surfaced saying that the partial government shutdown is going to delay e.p.a.'s rule-making process for yearround e15. i would like to reassure our foul producers that this -- fuel producers that this is simply not true. in fact, the e.p.a. spokesman issued the following statement saying, quote, this is a priority for both president trump and acting administrator
wheeler. the ongoing partial shutdown will not impede e.p.a.'s ability to keep to our deadline. end quote. i was pleased to learn that this rule-making process is still on track and i want to make sure nebraskans are aware of that fact as well. additionally, secretary of agriculture sonny perdue announced he is extending the deadline for agriculture producers to apply for payments under the market facilitation program. these payments are provided by the usda's trade mitigation program which was a good-faith effort that recognized the economic hardship of our farmers and our ranchers and problems they were facing. i've heard from nebraskans who have applied for this program and received payments. per secretary perdue's recent
announcement, the agency will extend the application deadline for the period of time equivalent to the number of days that the farm services agency offices were closed during the shutdown. this should assist farmers who are interested in applying for the program but have been unable to do so during this partial shutdown. mr. president, i understand the concerns of nebraskans who are sincerely worried because usda farm service agency offices are closed. agriculture is the economic engine of the state of nebraska. across the state and in rural areas throughout our nation farmers are thinking about spring planting. they want to be able to plan ahead and make decisions about the future of their businesses. these hardships are real and they are impacting nebraska
families. and that's why i'm continuing to have conversations with my colleagues about how we can come together in a sensible way that properly secures our border and ends these lapses in government funding. nebraskans know full well that i have long supported securing our border because it is a critical national security issue. i have visited the southern border, and i've spoken with our border agents. i've seen areas where a wall is necessary and other areas where technology or adding more border patrol is appropriate. unfortunately, we've seen border security, an issue that has long had support from republicans and democrats become deeply politicized. as we continue to look and work
toward a way forward, i want to keep people updated and informed about the steps our government continues to take to provide certainty, stability, and peace of mind to nebraskans. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. brown: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thanks. i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. yesterday i left my home in cleveland and kissed my wife goodbye and headed to the airport early in the morning and started -- i worked -- went to gates a, b, and c in the cleveland airport and talked to t.s.a. agents who are all working and working without pay. then when i got to washington,
flew into national airport, went straight to a building in arlington where i talked to cafeteria workers. they're federal contract workers who serve food at our smithsonian museums and other federal facilities. they don't work for the federal government. their paychecks don't come from the federal government. they are contracted through a company and then paid by these companies. so they have lost their jobs during the trump shutdown. they're not only -- these workers making $12 is $13, $14, some with seniority make $is a an hour. they make two or three dollars more than the nonunion probable workers. but they're not getting paid. but unlike the 800,000 federal workers, some working without pay, some furloughed, unlike them, they, if here is the judge, they will not get paid those lost wages. so these are people making $12,
$13, $14 an hour who have lost already two weeks of work because of the trump shutdown, and they have no prospective unless -- prospect unless congress acts to get that back pay. and again their wages are at that level. then last night, to sort of cap the day, in my apartment here, i watched the president of the united states talk about his wall and dig in at that little more. you know, mr. president, i wish that -- i wish that president trump -- i wish donald trump would talk to the workers he's hurting with his shutdown. i wish he would -- he would go out and -- go out, as president lincoln used to say, to get his public opinion bath, to he would listen to these public workers, that he would leave mar-a-lago or the white house where he spends most of his time and talk to these workers that i talked to yesterday, the t.s.a. workers
in cleveland working without pay, and the anxiety levels are going up and up and the up for these workers. this coming saturday, they will miss their first paycheck and beyond that, too. and these food service workers. last week president trump said his shutdown -- imagine this. this is a billionaire president. his shutdown, the trump shutdown, which he proudly as commander in chief said i'm proud of this shutdown. he said this shutdown has a higher purpose than next week's pay. imagine that. a billionaire president living in this beautiful house paid for by taxpayers, and having his estate in mar-a-lago that he would say this shutdown, this trump shutdown has a higher purpose than next week's pay. i wonder if he'd tell that to t.s.a. workers, the ones i met in cleveland including erin bankston who told me if you're the only breadwinner in your family and you have your kids looking up at you it's hard to tell them we don't have any way
to put food on the table. that's the hard part senator, is what he said. we have to get us back working. we're working diligently over here. we're trying to make sure people or the flying public is safe. or, mr. president, tell the cafeteria workers that i talked with, tell them that there's a higher purpose than their week's pay. because remember it's not just federal employees feeling the pain. it's also contractors. there are 800,000 federal employees. there are, we think, we can't get the number from the government yet -- iem not sure -- i'm not sure the administration wants to tell us these numbers. there are thousands and thousands and thousands of contractor works making $10, $12, $15, a little more if they have a union. a lot of americans don't realize it, thousands of janitors and cafeteria workers and security guards are out of work because of the president. it's all kinds of federal employees. it's people that process tax returns with the i.r.s. it's people that are helping farmers adjust to the new farm
bill we passed proudly senator roberts and senator stabenow and a bunchl of us. it's about people wanting to get a mortgage and can't get it approved because of this shutdown. it's people like that. it's also people making $8 and $10 and $12 an hour. unless we do something these workers won't get the back pay because they are employed by private contractors and they have no way at $12 and $15 without pay they have no way of making up lost hours and lost wages. i'm working with the relatively new minnesota senator, senator myth on legislation to try to come up -- senator smith to come up with a solution to get these workers back pay. fundamentally, mr. president, it comes down to respecting the dignity of work. and that means respecting the dignity of work that these workers make a decent wage with decent benefits. missing one paycheck may not seem like a lot to the billionaire president and the multimillionaire cabinet with their massive investment
portfolio. i'll say that again. missing one paycheck, one two-week paycheck or two two-week paychecks, or even if the president gets his way, three two-week paychecks may not seem a lot to a billionaire president and a multimillionaire cabinet with their massive investment portfolios but it means a whole lot to those people. missing a paycheck is a big, big deal that the president of the united states clearly either doesn't understand or doesn't care about. the president doesn't understand that working people can't just send a letter to creditors saying excuse me from paying rent this month or paying my mortgage or paying for my medications. you can't buy groceries or put gas in the car with an i.o.u. one of those cafeteria workers told me yesterday in arlington, i have to pay rent, i have other bills. i have a college student in community college in a second semester. he needs help with his books. she said president trump, i'm asking you, would you please open the government. everyone is going through hardship. we really don't want this wall that you want.
i'm guessing the president of the united states, the billionaire president, jetting back and forth between the white house and mar-a-lago in florida, i'm guessing that he will never talk to not just these workers i talked to in virginia or those t.s.a. employees in cleveland, i'm sure he won't talk to them, but i would hope he would talk to some people like them. he spends his time -- it is a resort but he doesn't see them. to him they're invisible. but, mr. president, mitch mcconnell could see them. he could -- mitch mcconnell is president, his office is down the hall on the right about 100 feet. i have shared on this floor before how lobbyists during the tax bill, when president trump and the majority in the senate, the majority in the house gave a $1.5 trillion tax cut, 70% of that tax cut to the richest 1%, people like themselves, the president, the cabinet, many members of this senate, many members of the house, and i documented and showed as i
looked out this door and opened these doors, showed this is the place where the lobbyists go in and out of the majority leader's office, talking to them about this special interest legislation. so i ask right now, senator mcconnell, senator mcconnell could come out of this office, his office. he could walk down this hall. i'd be happy to open the door with him if that's not contrary to senate rules. i'd be happy to open the door with him and welcome him. he could right now, he could right now talk to -- he could right now vote to reopen the government and get this process moving and tell the president of the united states. he also could go to virginia. he could also go to the airport in louisville or in cincinnati and listen to their stories. but he doesn't seem to be listening either. i'm guessing if he did he might be a little more inclined to let us vote to get these workers back on the job. i'm calling on senator mcconnell to come out of that office to walk down this hall, to come here and begin the process of opening the government. let's talk for a minute about
what the president said last night, mr. president. the president continued his record of telling lie after lie after lie after lie, misleading the people he's supposed to serve. facts matter. when you hear the president say we need a wall, remember, it's a fact -- it's a fact that illegal border crossings are at historic lows. it's not fake news. my wife says if it's fake, it's not news. if it's news, it's not fake. these are facts. it's a fact that illegal border crossings are at historic lows. another fact, apprehensions at the border are down nearly 80% since 2000. another fact, the president's wall would do nothing to stop opioids coming into our communities. first most illegal opioids are seized at legal ports of entry, not trafficked over some remote area of texas. fact the shutdown makes it harder for customs and border protections to do their jobs intercepting those opioids. last year another fact, we passed the interdict act, bipartisan bill. i worked with my colleague from
ohio, senator portman, on a bipartisan bill and senator markey from massachusetts fo get customs and border protection. the screening devices they need to test for opioids. why would we focus on the president's vanity project, building this wall, a promise he made -- remember his promise. i will build a wall and the mexicans will pay for it. he's now asking the american taxpayers over time to pay $25 billion or $30 billion. why would we focus on the president's avenatti project instead of -- vanity project instead of getting the agents and technology they need because we can do this with agents and technology and the things we need to protect the border because that's what we want to do. we don't want this vanity project. another fact most undocumented immigrants aren't committing criemtion. 50% to 60% fewer prosecuted criminals than native born texans. a native born texan percentage
is more likely to commit a crime than an undocumented person living in texas. keep in mind the facts of what this shutdown is costing the american people. 800,000 federal workers are without a paycheck. 400,000 of them are on the job without pay. thousands of workers, custodians, security guards not only getting a paycheck but will probably never will because of this lost work. the senate passed a bill unanimously to fund the government in december. that's a fact. we passed it. it's a fact. it was unanimous. it's a fact. the house passed bills to fund the government last week. it's a fact. senator mcconnell right now can come out of that office, could walk down this hall. mcconnell could put those house bills on the floor right now. we could vote to end this shutdown. we could send them to the president's desk. and if the president is going to continue his vanity project and continue his, the trump shutdown and he votes it, we have the ability -- and he
vetoes it we have the ability to override it. the president doesn't tell us what to do. he seems to be telling the majority what to do day after day. i applaud those who have stood up to him recently and said they want to open the government. but it's a fact also this president said i'm proud to shut down the government. this president, the commander in chief of the -- the commander in chief of the united states of america, the commander in chief, the top person in this country, in this country's government said i'm proud to shut down the government. facts matter. the fact is president trump is once again, as he betrayed the general motors workers in lordstown, as he betrayed the general motors, all the companies that supply building of the chevy cruzes, he bea trade those works, he betrayed federal workers, he betrayed contract workers making $10 and $12 and $15 an hour, he's betrayed the american worker.
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: mr. president, the senate is, what's before us right now is senate bill 1. and for those who are here today watching or home or will watch this later and are wondering what is it that the senate is doing other than coming down here and giving speeches, what we're trying to do is we're trying to start debate on a bill, on senate bill number 1. senate bill number 1 is the senate's effort to respond specifically not just to general events that are happening in the middle east, but in particular, the decision made a few weeks ago that the united states would be leaving syria and our presence there. at the time when that decision was made, i told everybody i thought it was a bad idea. a lot of people agreed and there's a lot of reasons why it is a bad idea.
although i do think it is important any time we ask the american people to send their young men or women abroad -- in the case of syria it's about 2,000 special operators working alongside tens of thousands of kurdish and syrian democracy forces, democratic forces, any time we spend money or send americans abroad and risk their lives, we deserve, the american people deserve for us to go to them and justify why it is we should do it or continue doing it and that's certainly the case with syria. i don't agree with the decision, but i do think it's given the senate an opportunity, and those of us who disagree with that decision an opportunity to go out and tell people why it is that it's important. and that's a broader topic, and i'll be having more to say about that in the days to come. but one of the reasons why it is important is because the u.s. withdrawal from syria will have a dramatic impact on the security of israel. now again, any time that we ask the american people to support another country with money or
diplomatic support or anything that might be, or weapons, we should justify it. we should never take it for granted why it is that it's important that we support that other country. in the case of israel, support for israel at a time when very few things enjoy bipartisan support, support for israel has wide bipartisan support. here in congress and across the country. and rightfully so. our support of the state of israel is founded both on morality and on our national interests. on the issue of morality, let me say the state of israel is very unique. it was founded for a very specific purpose. in the aftermath of the holocaust in which l millions of jews lost their lives, it was vowed that never again would the jewish people not have a place to go and seek refuge or live in peace and security. and the state of israel was established to be that homeland for the jewish people. so it's unique in the fact that the, it was given its birth by
an international organization, unique in the world in that regard. the second reason why we should support israel because it's in our national interest. israel is everything we wish more countries in the middle east and around the world were. they are pro-american, free enterprise democracy. and i ask you only for a moment to imagine what the world would be like, how much easier our foreign policy would be if there were more countries in that part of the world that were pro-american, free enterprise democracies. but we have one, the jewish state of israel, and that's why we should support it. from its very birth, israel has faced threats to its very existence. but i would say that today the threats it faces are the gravest ones it has had to confront in almost half a century. the impetus for much of that threat comes from one place, and that is iran, a country who
almost as a matter of course, its government chants death to america and death to israel on a regular basis. it is one of the stated purposes of that government, to destroy the state of israel. but they aren't just words. they are actions. i have here a map of iran, and of course you'll first notice israel is the tiny yellow area on this map. at its narrowest point israel is nine miles wide. this is not a large country in terms of mass size. it's unreal how much of the world's attention, international organizations and international debates focus on this one tiny country, but there it is, that very small nation that you see right there in yellow. and there's iran, clearly larger and in terms of of on the map and in reality. but iran isn't simply a rhetorical enemy of israel. it is taking action to encircle israel and to threaten its security. it begins with its engagement and its missile program.
iran is developing and has developed ballistic missiles with a range that reach every part of israel. here's the bottom line, iran can launch ballistic missiles that reach any city in israel right now. which is why their nuclear am ambitions is dangerous. imagine if iran attached a nuclear warhead and -- that can reach israel, that's a proposition no one wants to see come about. that's why their ability to have nuclear weapons is dangerous. they don't just target israel. they hide behind surrogates in the region who do their bidding. these surat -- surrogates have been found in hezzbollah. they are a surrogate that basically works at the behest of
the iranian government, and there have been conflicts, in fact, wars between israel and hezzbollah in which there have been massive military attacks coming from lebanon, rocket strikes into israel and control's -- israel's response, the last one in the 2006 time period, and it could happen again. i believe the conditions are ripe for it to happen again. suffice it to say it is a dangerous proposition much how does hezzbollah get this weaponry? they get the weaponry from iran and it is shipped through syria -- through syria. the u.s. disengagement from syria will make it easier for iran and the irgc, which is from the iranian government, and hezzbollah to bring in those weapons to southern lebanon to
strike at israel at some point in future. iran is also present on the ground in syria, which you can see borders israel. hezzbollah an and iran are in syria in the same region in the south. a u.s. withdrawal will make it easier for iran to grow their presence there. now israel faces a threat from hezzbollah, a threat from iran in hezzbollah from syria. we see the iranian influence has grown in iraq, the second-leading party, political movement in the current iraqi parliament is a shia group directly aligned are iran with growing political influence. they want to kick america out of there. and, believe me, they want to turn iraq into another base of operation in which israel can be targeted. down here in yemen, the houthis are an agent of iran.
you say that is kind of far, it isn't as far as the rockets and missiles can reach there as well, but it also allows them opportunity to shut off the transit, the choke point, which would affect trade and commerce for israel and the region at large. we can see a growing iranian presence in bahrain and kuwait. they are looking to circle who it views as its enemies, the sunnies, but more than anyone else, the israelis. this is not the only threat that israel faces. it faces growing violence along the west bank and also down here by gaza where there's been upticks in violence. in southern lebanon, hezzbollah routinely builds tunnel from lebanon to israel. the purpose is to sneak fighters into israel so they can conduct
commando raids so they can kill civil yangs, not -- civilians, not the military, but civilians. i want to talk about the missile threat to israel. here are the ranges of the rockets. there was an israel-hezzbollah war. the next one will be far deadlier and it will be far deadlier for a couple of reasons. the first is hezzbollah can build the rockets. they no longer have to ship them in. they have built the capability to construct these rockets themselves. the second, is they have more of them. and that matters because israel has a very good missile defense system, but you can overwhelm a missile defense system with volume, meaning you launch 100 rockets, and you knock down 99 of them, but one of them gets through and hits a population center and kills 10,000 people. hezzbollah now has that capability. these rockets are also precision
guided. they are not just lobbing them over and it hits what it hits. they can launch munition- -- guided munitions. and the ranges of the rockets they pose are stunning. if you look at this little ring here, it tells you how much seconds it would take from launch to impact. meaning 10 to 25 seconds before they could hit, for example, the area of nazareth, and moving down, you see 50 seconds, further down around tel aviv, 75 seconds, jerusalem, south of that is, you know, probably another 10 seconds, 85 seconds, 120 seconds, 155 seconds. so imagine for a moment if you are visiting israel or a student studying there and one of these launches comes in, a barrage of 1,000 rockets launched, you have less than two minutes.
there is no country in the world that with mobilize people to get out of the way in two minutes, and these are their population centers. and this is the threat that faces them right now, and that's just from lebanon. imagine that same capability i just described also existing in syria, and imagine it all being launched simultaneously from syria, from lebanon, and from iran, and now you begin to see the constructs of a plan to destroy this tiny nation and why it is so critical that the united states support them in fighting for their existence. the threat is extraordinary. the second thing -- and, you know, you talk about this. there is one more element to it. there is a global effort, it is called boycott, divestment, and sanction, that is, in essence to pressure companies to boy dot israeli -- boycott israeli companies and people who do business in israel until they
stop, to pressure investment funds and banks to no longer do investments on anything related to israel and pressure governments around the world to sanction israel. that's what this effort is about. it is to undermine them economically as well. it's economic warfare, and it is being waged at every level and it is working. people are adopting this around the world and there are some that advocate for it here. we've recently seen in the news a number of companies that have decided not to do business in certain parts of israel because of the pressure from that moment. they are not just boycotting the economy. they don't do concerts, they won't play the israeli sports team, they want israel kicked out of the international committee for different sports, including soccer and the olympic committee, they boycott universities, they pressure universities to cut ties with israel. it is an effort to destroy israel culturally, economically,
in a way it is with the effort to throw it -- destroy it physically. it is a real threat. we have tried to confront both of these issues in bipartisan legislation. i have up here a chart, and i will talk about it in a moment because 26 states in this country have tried to do something to condemn b.d.s. i just told you why it is that it is so important that we stand with israel and the threats that israel faces. now i will describe what this bill does. it has four components. one deals with the human rights violations in syria. we'll discuss that further, perhaps tomorrow. the second component of this bill deals with jordan, which is one of the neighbors that israel has that is actually critical to its security, one of the best things that happened to israel's security was the deal with jordan and egypt that allowed them at their periphery to have countries that at least recognize them and not out to threaten them.
jordan faces its own threats by some of the same actors and add to it isis. we took these two bills that had bipartisan support, cosponsored by democrats and republicans, combined them with the other two bills that also had such support into one bill, and that is senate bill 1. we viewed it as an opportunity for the u.s. congress to weigh in on foreign policy at a time when we believe that all of these threats are made worse by the decision to withdraw from syria and that is the bill before us. today i want to talk about the two components that impact israel directly. the first is basically the united states-israel security assistance authorization act. a fancy title for a bill that i coauthored with senator chris coons of delaware who sits on the other side of the aisle. i told you this is a bipartisan issue. this bill has 72 cosponsors here in the united states senate --
72. it passed overwhelmingly by a voice vote. we didn't even have to have a roll call vote. it was voice voted. no one objected on august 1 of last year. it passed in the house with an amendment on september 12, and then it was hotlined for a potential voice vote here on october 11, 2018. what does this bill do? it lays out a statement of policy. let me tell you why that is important. words, why do they matter? they matter in the region because one of the things that would encourage hezzbollah or any of israel's enemies to attack it is the beef that -- belief that the united states is no longer committed to israel as we once were. they can miscalculate. they read headlines of one or two americans saying something about israel and this they think we're weakening in our resolve. they read into this and
miscalculate and make errors and a miscalculation could lead to an all-out war and could potentially lead to the destruction of israel, along with other associations -- nations in the process. it is important to us to make very clear that our commitment to israel is unwaferrerring. it is especially important in light of the decision to withdraw from israel. what a lot of countries is reading into this, the united states commitment to the middle east is no longer very strong they are withdrawing any of assets they could be using to be supportive of their allies in the refugeeon r -- region. it says, quote, it shall be the policy of the united states to support israel and support funding for cooperative programs to develop, produce, procure rocket projectile and other defense capabilities to help israel meet its security needs and help develop an enhance
united states defense capabilities. end quote. this is a cooperation. israel may be developing some of these technologies because they have an immediate need. we benefit from that technology. if israel develops the next generation of missile defense systems, we would use it as well. the bill also authorizes u.s. security assistance in foreign military financing at no less than $3.3 billion a year for the next decade. that is the language from a memorandum of understanding signed by the obama administration and israel. we put that in the statute. we authorized it. this is really important. it extends a war reserve stockpile shorty and loan guarantees to israel through 2023. israel has never defaulted on loan-back guarantees and this provides rainy day insurance given the threats it's facing. it will transfer munitions and
services to reserve stocks for israel as necessary for legitimate self-defense. what that means is these weaponry wouldn't be sent but put on reserve status assuming it doesn't impact our readiness and they would be made available to israel in case a war broke out and their reserves were quickly depleted. they run out of rockets, munitions and defense apparatus and the united states has set aside weaponry that we are ready to rapidly send to them so they can defend themselves. they pay for this. they know it's sitting there. we don't have to scramble to find it and it takes two weeks to go there and by then the war is over. it expresses the sense of congress that the president should provide to us procedures for rapidly acquiring and deploying to -- what we need to support production of these precision-guided munitions for our u.s. counter terror mission. it requires the president no a letter than 120 days to appropriate committees on
strategic trade authorization for israel -- strategic trade authorization exception, including the reasons as to why israel has not yet been included in the countries eligible for the strategic trade authorization exception. it authorizes the president, this is critical, this is a new threat emerging, it authorizes the president to enter into a cooperative agreement, meaning it benefits them and us, to develop counter, unmanned aerial vehicles and the threat they pose. and the reason why that is because on february 10 of last year an iranian drone was shot down by israel and everyone has every reason to believe these unmanned aerial vehicles are the next threat that will be deployed both in the battlefield and potentially by terrorists and we will work with israel who faces an immediate threat to develop counters to that. today we don't have good counters to that. it makes one more clear policy statement which has been a linchpin of our support for
israel. it is the policy of the united states to ensure that israel maintains its ability to counter and defeat any credible military or emerging threat from any state or possible coalition of states or from nonstate actors while sustaining minimal damages and casualties through the use of superior military means possessed in sufficient quantity, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of other coalition states or nonstate actors. it means it is the policy of the ?aith to ensure that israel's weapons and systems are better than anyone else in the region. whatever anyone else has, we will sell them and allow them to access something better, so that they always have an advantage. because if everyone in that region believes it could beat israel in a war, they will try to beat israel in a war. that was the history from its very birth. that was the history, and that's
the lesson in 1967 and 1973. we do not want that to happen again. that's what this bill does. that's why it has so much support. that's why it's so important for us to move to debate on this issue. but it also tackles this economic warfare. what's included in this is a bill we filed last year with senator manchin called the combating b.d.s. act. by the way, last year, the banking chairman, senator crapo of idaho, and the ranking member, senator brown of ohio, they discharged this bill from their committee. they didn't even require a hearing. they did it late last year by running it past all their members. we tried to pass it in the senate by voice vote. we were unable to because of one senator who blocked it. let me start by thanking senators crapo and brown for working hard to advance this bill last year as well as co-authoring with me the new hezbollah sanctions law known as the hezbollah financing prevention amendments of 2019. we strengthened sanctions on
hezbollah as we have the past two years previous. so what it does is it basically says that any state or city in america -- first of all, let me tell you what it doesn't do. it doesn't outlaw b.d.s. if you're an american company and you want to boycott or divest from israel, it doesn't make it illegal. it doesn't stop you from doing it. the only thing it says is if there is some city or county or state in this country who wants to support israel, they have a right to say we are not going to buy services or goods from any company that's boycotting or divesting from israel. that's all it does. it gives cities and counties like these 26 states the opportunity to have their elected officials who respond to the people of those states or cities or counties that elected them to make a decision that they are not going to do business with people who don't do business with israel and boycott israel. in essence, it allows us to boycott the boycotters. now, some say that's an infringement on the first amendment. first i would tell you the first
amendment protects speech and actions that function in the form of speech. this is not an effort to silence speech, nor is this an effort, by the way, to defeat an effort per se. it is an effort to defend the right to counterspeak. the first amendment is a two-way street. you have your right to express your views on something, but others have a right to respond. you have a right to boycott a country and people have a right to boycott you. and that's what this law allows them to do. it's that simple. by the way, this is not some domestic debate. this is about -- they're not trying to influence some law that we're passing here in b.d.s. they're not trying to influence your opinions on a topic. they're trying to influence the foreign policy of another country. this is not traditional free speech. the courts have weighed in on this in the past and the courts have given congress and the executive branch extraordinary discretion on the setting of foreign policy, and when a company weighs in on b.d.s., they're not trying to influence a domestic debate or a topic of
opinion here in the united states political system. they are trying to punish a nation state so that that state changes its policies in another country. there's an open question about whether the first amendment even covers that, but the bill basically says notwithstanding whatever is in the bill, nothing in the bill shall be construed to invade or to hurt anyone's first amendment rights. so anyone who hides behind the idea that this is designed to silence speech isn't being truthful. this doesn't outlaw b.d.s. you want to boycott or divest from israel, you can. it's legal. we're not outlawing that. that would be an infringement. all we're saying is if you're going to boycott israel, those who support israel have a right to boycott you. that includes cities and counties and states who don't want to buy stuff from you. that's what this bill does. that's why it enjoys this broad bipartisan support. some have asked me to take it out of this bill. that's the reason why we're not moving to it. at least that's what i heard earlier. now there is another reason. but it's absurd. vote against it and then justify
it. but if you're trying to shield the boycotters, that's de facto support of b.d.s., in my opinion. i think it's important for us to pass that. and i emphasize again this wasn't overall controversial 72 hours or two weeks ago. look at the list of people who support this bill last year. the majority leader, the minority leader, the foreign relations committee chairman, the ranking member of the foreign relations committee, the senate finance committee chairman, and the ranking member of the finance committee. democrat and republican leaders and multiple committees and at the very top of this chamber support this bill. and yet somehow we can't even proceed to debate on this bill. now, you may say well, wait until the shutdown is over because that's the argument that is being used now. we shouldn't move to anything until we deal with the shutdown. i don't like the shutdown. i hope it ends tonight or tomorrow morning. but this is not just any other
issue. there is a credible argument to be made that there is a time sensitivity to this, because the enemies of israel aren't sitting around waiting. this could happen at any moment. these are not the kinds of things that build up. hezbollah's desire to destroy israel is long-standing. and what they choose to do about it will not wait for the u.s. senate to deal with the other topics. this is an immediate threat. it is right before us, and it deserves our immediate reaction. and this could rapidly escalate. and i'm not going to take up another 30 minutes to describe all the scenarios in which that could happen, but i'll give you one which is not out of the realm of possibility. now that they know that the u.s. is going to be withdrawing from syria, the israelis decide -- and i believe rightfully so -- that for their own defense, they need to start attacking even more inside of syria. those supply lanes that iran is using, every time they see a truck with rockets on it, they're going to blow up the
truck. every time they see irgc or hezbollah militias forming near their border, they will hit them. step up those attacks because we're not there anymore, and iran is going to fill that void. so they are going to have to step up their attacks. at some point, iran and/or hezbollah or both are going to react to those stepped-up attacks with attacks of their own at which point israel is going to respond with even bigger attacks. and then the cycle of escalation begins. and before you know it, very quickly in this region, we could have a shooting war, not a war of words, not a vote at the u.n. rockets and missiles being fired at one another from lebanon, from syria into israel, israel responding back into syria, israel responding back into lebanon. in fact, israel has said all of lebanon is on the target list since now hezbollah and the current president of lebanon have created a political
alliance. and you've got all these other countries running around including the russians now inside of syria and the turks up to the north. it's potential that their troops get caught in the firefight, illicitting a response back to israel. before you know it, we have a multistate, multiparty all-out war in the middle east. the possibility of that happening is not far-fetched. and i say this to you today with no pleasure. there will be another israel-hezbollah war. that's just a matter of time. and the next one will be far deadlier. but it is incumbent upon us to do what we can, and there is things we can't do, and there is things we can. it is incumbent upon us to prolong that and prevent that as long as possible. and one of the things that we can do to help prevent that or to extend the time before that happens is to make it very clear to hezbollah and iran and everyone else that if you take on israel, we will support them.
we will support them. and that's what this bill is designed to do, not just to send that message but to put in place that reality. and given the tinderbox that is the middle east and given the unpredictability of the various actors involved, particularly those who hate israel, why would we not move immediately to address something like that? why are we not capable of voting on something that would probably get 80 votes here and still deal with a government shutdown? because the last time we had a government shutdown, we were still voting on bills that had nothing to do with a government shutdown when the other party was in charge, we were doing that. there's no precedent for doing it. i believe that it is possible for us to do both, and that's what we should do. this isn't tax reform or health care reform. this is something that is urgent and immediate and requires our attention because of the unpredictability of foreign events today, because of the
unpredictability of this part of the world. and so i know at some point here soon that the leader will bring up for a second time a vote on the motion to proceed. it's not even a vote on the bill. it's a motion to begin debate on this bill. nothing else is going on around here. and let them continue to meet and have dialogue and talk about how to get us out of this shutdown. i hope we do, i hope that happens, but don't shut down the senate, particularly on a topic of this importance. because time -- these events will not wait for us. and it is important for us to act. and please don't go around asking people -- don't go around asking people to stand up to foreign policies of this administration that we don't agree with when we try to do it or at least offer a counter or something to diminish its negative impacts, and the response is obstruction. and not just obstruction because of policy. obstruction in order to make a political point or to avoid a vote that three or four senators
might not want to take. i don't think that makes a lot of sense. i think when it comes to national security and foreign policy, on those issues, we should try to the extent possible to remove them from the daily grind and back-and-forth of american politics because the repercussions are dramatic. that's the one thing that makes national security and foreign policy different from domestic policy. you can always go back and change a bad tax law. you can always go back and change a bad health care law. you can always go back and make changes to a bad banking law. you can't undo history. you can't undo wars once they started. you can't undo carnage once it's occurred. foreign policy is often irreversible. and once mistakes are made, you have to do the best you can with the hand you have been dealt. and that's why i hope that on this one, we stop playing games and we get on this bill and we pass it so that even as this debate about the shutdown
continues, we make clear to the world and we make clear to her enemies that we stand with israel. we always have, and we always will. across party lines. we may bicker and fight about many things, but when it comes to the support of israel, we are united. the house and senate, democrats and republicans and the white house, in support of our strongest ally in the region and one of our strongest allies in the entire world. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, first i would like to ask unanimous consent that dimitros wietros, a fellow in my office, be granted privileges of the floor for this session of the congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise to discuss president trump's ongoing shutdown of the federal government, how we got here, the impact to the people of my state, and how we can make some
progress. it's past time for the president to stop holding the american people for ransom through this government shutdown, to stop the misinformation campaign, and stop making unwarranted demands for the ill use of american taxpayers' dollars. the president needs to open the government. the senate did its work on the budget. we have bipartisan compromise bills ready for the president's signature. chairman collins and i worked together on a bipartisan basis to develop the fiscal year 2019 transportation-h.u.d. bill which was reported out of the committee unanimously. our bill was then approved by the full senate as part of a package that included three other bipartisan appropriations bills -- agriculture, financial services, and the interior bill. together these bills passed by a veto-proof margin of 92-6. i'm very proud of the work that chairman collins did and i was able to assist her during that process to provide an additional
$10 billion to build our roads, our bridges, and airports, and develop new affordable housing opportunities for more than five million low-income americans striving to make ends meet. these investments will grow our economy, spur job creation, and improve communities across america. on an issue that both chairman collins and i care deeply about, the t-hud bill, it would continue to make a major commitment to addressing homelessness among youth, veterans, and survivors of domestic violence. we are making real progress through the h.u.d. dash program, drinking down homelessness by 20% since 2010 and helping 64 communities in three states effectively end veterans' homelessness. in september, a house conference committee i served on had essentially reached an agreement on a final version of these four bills. they could have been passed and signed into law by the start of the fiscal year last october 1. it would have been a victory for the american people, both for
the smart investment these bills would make, and for the restoration of good government and regular order which chairman shelby and vice chairman leahy both have made a priority to achieve. instead, a final agreement was slow-walked and stalled by the house leadership, and then the white house in order to give the president greater leverage for the shutdown he had for many months been angling for.here weo the physicallal year and three -- fiscal year and three weeks into a shut down. 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed or forced to work without play. thousands of federal contract employees are also out of work and may not be compensated. trash is piling up at national parks. employers can't access e-verify to ensure that they are hiring legal residents. soon the shutdown may prevent --
press reports indicate that the shutdown's causing states to scale back in awarding highway and transit contracts. starting as soon as this highway, many federal district courts will start to feel the shutdown pinch more acutely with just skeleton crews, making it harder for businesses in america to get their day in court. like everyone else, federal employees from kawrdz coast guards to f.b.i. agents to air traffic controllers have rent, student loan, mortgages and child care bills to pay. many work paycheck to paycheck. the president said that he's willing to continue this shut down for months or even years without care about the effect it will have on their lives. during the speech last night the president didn't mention these federal employees. in congress we're hear their
stories. on monday air traffic controllers from t.f. green airport visited my office. they explained this shutdown not only creates financial hardship, but it stops the pipeline for those who will replace those eligible for retirement. i'm hearing from other constituents too. a usda meat inspector from ohio said, quote, i'm one of the federal employees that will be impacted by the federal government shutdown. i'm required to report to work without pay for the duration. i have three children under 5 and a stay-at-home husband with no contingency plan for lack of pay. i realize it's christmas and you all have families too and holidays are stressful enough without additional financial stress. unquote. i hope the president will act
and open the department of agriculture, the f.d.a., and other agencies that keep our food and medicine safe. a coast guard lieutenant from rhode island also wrote to me say, again, quote, i respectfully implore you to represent the needs and values of service members such as myself as well as the hardworking coast guard civilians who work alongside me. during the shutdown our missions are stunted and our dedication is disrespected. as the only household income and as i continue to fulfill my commitment to active duty service, my ability to meet financial obligation for myself and my two young children is at great risk if the shutdown continues. likewise, the government is not living up to its end of the contract made with me and my crew of both active duty and civilian members.
please share this plea with your fellow congress members. unquote. lieutenant, thank you for your service and for the additional sacrifice you and your colleagues are making today. as we think about border security, let's remember the important job the coast guard is doing to protect our border, particularly to prevent illegal drugs from entering the united states. in 2017 alone the coast guard seized illegal drugs valued at $ 6.6 billion wholesale an detained 708 suspected smugglers for prosecution. it's interesting to have the president talk about drug smugglers coming across the mexican border when the coast guard is out there unprotected. it is not just federal employees, an executive at a small ship yord in kingstown, rhode island, said, we do is a
great deal of work for the coast guard and for the last three weeks we have not been paid. we currently have $500,000 due with an additional $280,000 going in for review and payment in the next week or so. this is beginning to hinder our ability to pay our surrenders and created a cash-flow deficiency if not resolved will be difficult to manage. feel free to share this message with whomever needs to hear about this. this is a small business in rhode island building ships for our coast guard that is facing financial distress, in fact perhaps disaster. those are the people being harmed by this shutdown. certainly i hear this message and i know my colleagues are listening, but for whatever reason the president doesn't seem to be listening. so how does this get resolved in
well -- resolved? well, democrats have offered several -- the president who caused the shutdown and declared on television he would take full credit for it needs to commit to reopening the government without preconditions. i know many people say, why can't you just make a deal with the president? unfortunately the president can't stick to basic facts, numbers or a bargain. originally mexico was going to pay for his border wall. then he decided that american taxpayers should pay for it. so he asked congress for $1.6 billion to build 65 miles of wall. last sunday his request became $5.7 billion for more than 230 miles of wall. by monday he was considering declaring a national emergency and using national defense dollars without congressional approval. now, to the idea the president would use defense dollars to
build the border wall, let me say that his proposed wall has no core defense function. we are not at war with mexico. in fact, the pentagon's most recent national defense strategy doesn't mention the southern border as a national defense priority. meanwhile, the pentagon has billions of dollars in infrastructure backlogs ranging from military construction projects for new missions to deferred maintenance in facility sustainment restoration an modernization. there is no credible argument that a border wall takes priority over any of these. of course, the president doesn't have a real plan for building his border wall. in july, the government accountability office warned that the trump administration's approach increased risk that the wall, in their words, will cost more than projected, take longer than planned for or not fully perform as expected.
is it any wonder that congressional g.o.p. leaders rejected this wall when they controlled every branch of the government over the last two years? the president has not been honest with the american people. he hasn't even been straight with members of his administration or members of his own party in congress who are often hung out to dry. in fact, two days before the shutdown, then majority whip told cnn that the president would sign a clean continuing resolution to keep the government open until after christmas. less than 24 hours later, that position was reversed by a presidential tweet. even when the president makes a deal, he has trouble keeping it, especially when he's under criticism from right-wing radio and tv personalties. after negotiating overall funding levels for defense and nondefense spending last year, the president nearly vetoed the
final 2018 omnibus appropriations bill because he was criticized for the size and scope of the bill. secretary mattis had to be summoned to the white house to explain how important the bill was to the pentagon before the president begrudgingly decided to sign it. there is no secretary mattis or anyone to give the president good counsel. if the president remain implaquable about the wall, it will be up to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and democrats to pass the brp bill -- bipartisan bill we have already agreed on together and pass the bill. i hope they do so and soon as the lives of people and businesses are at stake. the answer we have to give is not to the president. the answer is to that young woman working every day without pay to protect the american public by inspecting food that we eat. the answer we have to give is to
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to a period of morning business. with senators permitted to speak thereiner to up ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i understand there are three bills at the desk. i ask for their first reading en bloc. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the titles understand bill for the first time en bloc. the clerk: h.r. at that 1, an act to extend by two years the
chemical facility antiterrorism standards program of the department of homeland security and for other purposes. h.r. 264, an act making appropriations for financial services and general government for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2019, and for other purposes. h.r. 269, an act to reauthorize certain programs under the public health service act and the federal food, deficit reduction and cosmetic act and so forth and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: now ask for a second reading and object to my own request all en bloc. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the built will receive their second reading on the next business day. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. thursday, january 10. following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. further, following leader remarks, the senate resume
consideration of the motion to proceed to s. 1. finally, not standing the provisions of rule 22, the cloture vote with respect to the motion to proceed to s. 1 occur at 1:45. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order, following the remarks of senator merkley. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, the most important words in our constitution are the first three -- we the people. with these three simple words our founders laid out the mission for our government. that is, a government tephras a form of legislation -- to produce a form of legislation that reflects the will of the american people. or, as lincoln summarized it, a government of, by, and for the people. but that mission is being corrupted and damaged in a significant and extensive fashion. it's being damaged with a goal of converting this vision of we the people to a government by
and for the powerful and the privileged. that corruption, that fundamental corruption of our government, comes in many forms, but it certainly includes gerrymandering, voter suppression and voter intimidation, and dark money in our campaigns flooding our system with unidentified resources to serve the powerful and the privileged rather than the people. so we here in this chamber, having taken an oath of allegiance to our constitution, ought to be defending it, but we're not. and the result is that we see many challenges facing our nation unaddressed, stagnant wages, soaring income inequality, huge wealth inequality, skyrocketing health costs, unaffordable higher
education, unaffordable homeownership, rents so high they drive people to live in tents, catastrophic climate chaos wreaking havoc on our planet with uncontrolled carbon pollution. we've been paralyzed on these issues because of this corruption of our constitution, because of the gerrymandering, because of the voter suppression, intimidation, because of the dark money p. it's allowed the hijacking of our constitution, and we need to end it. it's been hijacked by corporate and wall street executives swimming in record had breaking profits and trillion-dollar tax breaks, shuttering american factories and shipping jobs overseas. it's been hijacked by fossil fuel barons who exhibit a greed for profits that trumps the direct damage or concern about
the direct damage that they're inflicting on our beautiful blue-green planet. it's been hijacked by cabals of shadowy organizations using vast sums of dark money, no identified source to influence and buy elections, undermining our institutions at every level and driving massive cynicism among our youth. our youth look at our government and they see those beautiful words, we the people, and then they see the corruption, the corruption this body is doing nothing to address. not the gerrymandering, not the voter suppression, not the dark money. so it's time to change that. i have laid out a blueprint for our we the people democracy. i unveiled this document last week.
i am happy to provide copies to anyone. it is on the web. it takes on the corrupting influence of dark money. takes on the corrupting influence of gerrymandering, takes on the corruption of voter suppression to ensure equal representation for every american. well, let's start by looking at dark money. we need to pass senator udall's constitutional amendment that overturns citizens united and thereby ends the corruption of the unlimited dark money. according to one analysis, the top 15 dark money groups in america have spent over $600 million on campaign-related activities in the last few years. that's just the top 15 groups. writing check after check to drown out the voice of the people. it's kind of like the dark money as a stadium sound system cranked up to top volume so that
voices and concerns of millions of ordinary americans are wiped out, unheard, unlistened to. thus driving decisions of this body in favor of the powerful instead of the people. its why we need to -- it's why we need to give congress the ability to set reasonable limits on campaign spending and donations through that constitutional amendment. and it's why we need to increase transparency on all money in the campaign system through senator whitehouse's disclose act. his act calls for robust disclosure for corporate, union, pacs, 51c3's that contribute over 10,000. it's why we need transparency through senator klobuchar's honest ads act which addresses the transparency of online ads which are becoming a bigger and bigger part of our dialogue over
campaigns in this country, the social media side. it requires that those who purchase and publish those online ads to publicly disclose their financing. thomas jefferson laid out how important an equal distribution of power is among the voters. he called it his equal voice principle. and he said this -- he said, a government is republican in proportion as every member composing it has an equal voice in the direction of its concerns, equal voice. he said in this letter after he was president, if we lose this -- which he called the mother principle of our democracy -- we would not have laws that reflect the will of the people. so here we are with the mother principle, a distribution of power among voters, a distribution of voice among
voters, and that as the securing factor for a government that reflects the will of the people. this is in complete opposition to the concentration of power through citizens united. let us turn to the corruption from gerrymandering. now, there's a bit of a challenge to define what gerrymandering is. but let's try putting it in way -- the drug of funny-shaped districts in order to unbalance fair representation of voters in a state. now, here are some of the warning signs if you want to say, is it gerrymandered? first, look to the districts and see if they're of funny shapes like these. like nebraska, like the fifth congressional district in
florida, like the seventh congressional district in pennsylvania, like the maryland third congressional district, north carolina, district number one, texas district number 33, blue states, red states, all exhibiting varieties of gerrymandering. another way to look at gerrymandering is to look at an unbalance in wasted votes. that is, you take the number of votes required to elect someone in a particular congressional district and add up the surplus of those votes. and you add those up on the democratic side and you add those up on the republican side. and if there is a huge imbalance in the wasted votes, then probably these districts have been drawn to unbalance fair representation for people in the state. a third way to look at gerrymandering is to look at whether the congressional
representation in the house of representatives is proportional to the popular vote totals in each state. so those three things are warning signs and how should this be addressed? it should be addressed through having national standards for independent redistricting commissions so that the citizens united states across the entire united states get fair representation in congress. and the rigging of gerrymandering in the united states of america. in 2016, north carolina republicans had 53% of the state's popular vote in the house races but 77% of the congressional seats. that's a sign of gerrymandering. the same year pennsylvania democrats won 48% of the popular vote in their state but only had
27% of the house seats. and so these are signs of a rigged system. and if you want to drive sin cinches keep a rigged system. the house of representatives is supposed to stand for equal representation for people, not for a bil. biased, corrupted, rigged system that we get from gerrymandering. so we need to take the power for redistricting out of the hands of partisan elected officials and put it in the hands of independent commissions to draw fair, competitive congressional districts to truly reflect the voters' voices. now, that pennsylvania gerrymandered seat that i referred to, after the 2016 election the state supreme court stepped in and redrew the district lines to make them more fair and representative. so what happened? let's compare 2016 to 20 s&l.
-- to 2018. in 2016, you had the democrats -- in 2016, you had the democrats receiving 48% of the popular vote and 27% of the congressional districts. a gap of more than 20%. after the redrawing, you had democrats receiving 53% of the popular vote across the state and winning 50% of the contested seats. so a gap of 21% goes down to just a gap of 3%. that's a sign is that the state has been more fairly drawn to reflect the distribution of voters. it shows the voters are being heard, that the corruption of gerrymandering is being ended, but it shouldn't just be ended in pennsylvania. it should be ended across the country. now, the u.s. supreme court has punted on gerrymandering.
in fact, it's been at the heart of each of these three corrupting practices. unleashing dark money through citizens units, striking down the voting rights act of 1965, allowing unlimited set of strategies, a huge set of strategies for voter expression and voter intimidation, and never taking on the issue of gerrymandering, maybe the u.s. supreme court should read the constitution. and realize what jefferson was talking about and realize that it's his job that he found the integrity of the united states of america and take on these corrupting forces that they themselves have unleashed in two instances and failed to take on in the third. well, voter suppression and voter intimidation is certainly alive and well as a corruptive
force. that's why the blueprint for democracy calls for the passage of senator leahy's voting rights advancement act. the bill would restore and modernize the voting rights act of 1965 that the supreme court tore down in 2013 with their decision in shelby county vs. holder. now realize that the voting rights act reauthorization had vast bipartisan support here in the senate. this wasn't a partisan bill. voting rights, the fundamental foundation of our democratic republic, had broad bipartisan support, as it should. but the supreme court, in the interest of the powerful and privileged, tore down. they are no longer the defenders of the vision of our constitution. but the destroyers of the vision, of the we the people vision of our constitution. and that should concern every
member in this body. we have seen rampant voter suppression in national elections used to block entire groups of people from exercising their constitutional rights at the ballot box. just this last november we saw thousands of native americans living on tribal reserves in north dakota kept from casting a ballot. in georgia, we saw the former secretary of state who was running for governor attempt to block 53,000 georgians, predominantly african americans, from voting because of what were described as minor clerical inconsistencies. we saw thousands of ohio voters purged from voting rolls on the order of the secretary of state of ohio and done so in a way disproportionately benefiting one party over the other. that's just scratching the
surface of the list of deplorable schemes to disenfranchise american voters. there was one positive development. that was in florida, where florida restored the ability of felons to vote after they have served their sentences. now, this process of taking away the ability of felons to vote has a deep, deep history of racism in our country. it was used after the civil war to disenfranchise black americans so that white americans could control areas that were predominantly african american. so this use of the disenfranchisement, failure to restore the right to vote after you have served your sentence, is something that has to be put away, and florida set a great
example in doing so. there's much more that we could do. we can have a polling place protection act, because the manipulation of polling places is just an i are i resistible -- is just an irresistible strategy for election clerks. they move the polling places. they cut the hours of polling. disinformation is put out about where they're at. you have a process where some polling places that serve predominantly one community that may vote primarily on one party suddenly don't have enough clerks or enough voting machines, so they have long lines here and short lines there to warp the outcome of an election. so how about a polling place protection act? isn't that something democrats and republicans can come together and do? how about predatory purging of
voter lists, where you analyze the voting list and decide for rules on purging voters in order to disproportionately favor one party over the other. why not have standard policies across this country so that purging in a predatory partisan fashion is done away with? shouldn't that be something democrats and republicans can come together and do to defend the integrity of american elections? how about requiring paper ballots so that every election be recounted. i've always heard about electronic voting machines with no paper ballots. in oregon we insist on paper ballots. we want people to have confidence that the election has not been messed with, that the voting machines have not been hacked. i remember listening to a radio news story where a person went in and hacked the voting machine
while they were on the radio with the reporter and changed the vote totals. so shouldn't we require paper ballots that can be recounted to give confidence in america that the vote is not being hacked? isn't that something that democrats and republicans can come together to support? isn't it something that helps to make sure foreign agents, russian agents, chinese agents, who knows who is not trying to hack our elections? and while we're at it, how about a standard, national standard for early voting to ensure that people have the flexibility to come to the polls, make sure the hours are not manipulated in a fashion to try to favor one party over the other. better yet, how about senator wyden's vote by mail act? in oregon we have a special
affection for this. back when i was first running for the oregon house of representatives 20 years ago, my first election, half the people in oregon voted by mail and half at the polls. and i started going door to door to campaign, and i didn't really like this whole vote by mail idea because i felt it's important for the community to do something together on election day. and as i knocked on one door after another, one senior after another said, no, i really low-this ability to vote by -- i really love this ability to vote by mail because if it's rainy or icy, if there's snow that makes it hard to get to the polling place, no problem. and moreover, i love to be at the kitchen table with my children or with my grandchildren. and the ability then to talk with them about these issues as we vote and inculcate them in the civic responsibility of voting. and others said, you know,
here in oregon we have initiatives that can be very complicated. i love to sit at my kitchen table and study these initiatives and vote. and so i realized how popular it was. so there it was, vote by mail, very important contribution to the possibility of high integrity in elections in the united states of america. this last november we had nation wide about 47% of the eligible adults voting. about 47%. that was better than 2014 when we had 37%. so that's pretty good, 47%. in oregon with vote by mail, we had 68% of the eligible adults voting. 20% over the national standard. so that gives you a little sense
of how automatic voter registration and vote by mail can make a difference in enabling people to fully participate. if you believe in the vision of a democratic republic, don't you want to be on the side of voter engagement, not voter intimidation, not voter suppression? a fourth area is equal representation. so we have had a number of elections where we created discrepancy between the popular vote and the outcome for president. another factor driving citizens, the whole electoral college was set up in a world in which communication was very difficult. it might take weeks to get the votes to the capitol, but that's not the world we live in any longer. so at no time it time to go to a direct vote? -- so isn't it time to go to a direct election. in the 2000 election 48% of the
voters picked al gore for president. but that was the majority, but we had eight years of george bush. electoral college is antiquated. an antiquated idea based on an historical factor of communication that no longer exists. so let's move to direct vote, either through the national popular vote which can be done state by state by state by sending their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the majority or through a constitutional amendment. and while we're at it let's give voting representation in the house and senate to the four million people who currently are american citizens who do not have a vote in the presidential election, do not have -- excuse me. do not have a vote in the house or senate. the people of puerto rico and guam, a number of other territories, virgin islands. shouldn't there at least be one
person in this chamber here representing them? i went down to puerto rico eight months after the big hurricane to look at the restoration, and the restoration program was horrific. i came away thinking if there was somebody who stood in this chamber with a vote or in the house chamber with a vote and could speak to the abysmal restoration of infrastructure after that hurricane, it would not have been such a disaster. we would all have listened and responded and helped. but there was nobody here that represented them. a number of us tried to carry their message, their plea. but it's different than having somebody who carries a vote. so let's figure out a system, some system. no system will satisfy everyone. it would give at least a vote in the senate and votes in the house proportional to population
for those american citizens that do not have the vote. so, mr. president, our constitutional system is in very deep trouble. when i came into political life, we had a system, a voting rights act that had taken on the issue of voter intimidation and voter suppression and we don't have it today thanks to the supreme court. corruption inhabiting our we the people constitution. when i came in, we had a system that was much more transparent with people making donations to candidates. and today we have vast dark money corrupting the system. gerrymandering has been with us for a long time. isn't it time that we address that?