tv U.S. Senate CSPAN December 2, 2020 9:59am-2:00pm EST
four, russia, china, north korea and iran. they have the focus areas on what they do and why they do it. it's those four from cyber security and no one else is even close. >> no one is close. >> and domestically? >> you know, cyber criminals are both, you know in terms of ransomware, and we don't assess domestic, it's all 1's and 0's. >> matt, thank you so much. thank you for your service and it's important that we have these voices of truth. just accuracy, not just truth, let's not even use that load add word anymore, but accurate information is really valuable to the continued robustness of our democracy. >> thank you so much. >> all right, thank you very much and thank you, aspen institute and thank you for the questions, sorry i couldn't get to all of them. >> the u.s. senate is about to gavel in to debate several executive and judicial nominations with votes
scheduled for this morning at 11:45 eastern. this afternoon, mark kelly will be sworn in by vice-president mi pence. and now live to the floor of the u.s. senate. the chaplain: let us pray. righteous god, refresh our lawmakers as a river in the desert and as the cool shadows of large trees in a hot and weary land. may our senators find in you a hope that illuminates the paths
they travel, as you guide them with your great love. lord, fill them with such wisdom that they will solve our nation's most challenging problems, making the rough places smooth and the crooked places straight. deal favorably with them because of your great love and mercy. inspire them to live lives that will permit you to bless our nation and world. we pray in your mighty name. amen. the president pro tempore:
please joime in the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under g, indivisible, with liberty and juice for all. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: one minute for morning business, please. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i want to the tell my colleagues about a disappointment i have in some u.s. department of agriculture recent revisions of a proposed
rule. here's background. i've long fought to strengthen the safety net so that iowa family farmers and other farmers are protected from natural disasters or other unforeseen events that they have no control over, like flooding or windstorms. family farmers work hard to make sure that americans have food on the table. these same family farmers operate on very thin margins. these farmers ought to qualify for help during tough times since losing these operations would risk our nation's food supply. however, taxpayers and nonfarm state lawmakers may stop supporting a federal farm safety net if spending programs aren't held accountable or left unchecked. losing urban support for this
farm safety net is why i'm deeply concerned that the usda's recent proposed -- proposal to roll back rules that put teenage in the definition of -- put teeth in the definition of a legal term called actively engaged farming. long-lost relatives, by changing these rules, who have probably never lifted a finger on farm, should not get away with collecting farm payments. farm payments should only go to operators that i say have a definition that's a little facetious but somewhat realistic, unless they have dirt under their fingernails. a few weeks ago i complimented secretary perdue on what i thought were very strong rules that were being proposed at that time. now the usda's decision to backtrack on their rules means
more megafarmers won't take advantage of this loophole and people that aren't actively engaged in the farming will benefit from farm payments. i'm disappointed with this turnaround. once again, congress must do what it can to close these loopholes so that we have only family farmers benefiting from the farm program. i yid the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: when i opened the senate on monday, i repeated something republicans have stated for months now -- we need
to put partisanship aside and get more coronavirus relief out to the american people. dating back to the summer and all fall, senate republicans tried repeatedly to advance hundreds of billions of dollars to prevent layoffs, protect small businesses, fund vaccine distribution and continue assist workers who have already lost their jobs to the cries. every time the speaker of the house and the senate democratic leader blocked our efforts. it had to be entirely of their left-wing wish list or nothing at all. finally this week we're seeing cracks starting to form in the democratic leader's stonewall. and thank goodness for the country that that is finally happening. in the last several days the democratic leaders have signaled a new willingness to engage in good faith and yesterday a number of senate democrats proposed a different compromise.
but at the risk of repeating is something we all know, mr. president, making law will not just require the senate's approval but also the signature of the president of the united states. so after several conversations with the secretary of the treasury and the white house chief of staff, i put forward yesterday another proposal reflecting what the president is ready to sign into law. what we've proposed would give universities and nonprofits the legal certainty they need. it would create a second draw on the job-saving paycheck protection program to prevent more layoffs. and it would extend two important emergency unemployment benefit programs that were created by the cares act and which will expire in december without action. these programs have been championed by our democratic colleagues, particularly the senior senator from virginia. and we made sure they were included in the framework. i hope our democratic colleagues will final lay let congress pass a bipartisan bill that the president will likely sign into law and do so soon.
now, mr. president, on a completely different matter, the senate reinvolves around people. one of our key duties involves the personnel we examine and confirm. there are all the dedicated staff professionals who make this place go. today it is both my great honor and regrettable task to honor someone who secured our three parts of that senatorial triple crown. the senior senator from tennessee, the chairman of the committee on health, education, labor, and pensions, lamar alexander. lamar first set foot here as a talented young staffer. decades later he appeared before us as a super-successful former governor and university president with a nomination to
the cabinet. and for the past 18 years, the other 99 of us have gotten to serve along one of the most impactful senators in modern american history. i have known lamar for more than 50 years. we first met in 1969 when i was working for a freshman senator named marlo cook, and he worked down in the executive branch. we met at the suggestion of his previous boss and mentor, senator howard baker. either he suspected our paths might cross again later or he just saw two serious young guys in need of some livelier social lives. now, this may shock you, mr. president, but i am afraid young lamar alexander and young mitch mcconnell didn't go crazy and paint the town red. both of us headed back home to continue our careers. it was already clear that a
bright future likely lay in store for him. lamar's reverence for public service started early. i believe he was about ten years old when his father, himself a longtime local official, took him to meet his congressman, howard bake sr., the father of his future boss hand him a dime. i think lamar was hooked then and that. decades later when lamar announced his 1996 presidential run be, he was in his hometown of merriville. his people began with a story about his mother. she lovingly described his upbringing as lower middle class and she had taken umbrage to that. after all, lamar had a library card and music lessons. in her words, quote, everything you needed that was important, end quote. and i'd certainly add loving
parents to the list. this son of two educators grew up steeped in the importance of schooling. he'd later reference his mother's work in recallly childhood education -- in early childhood education by saying he is probably the only secretary of education in history -- in history -- who spent five years in kindergarten. that passion would remain throughout lamar's career. his cutting-edge focus on improving opportunities and reforming education benefited tennessee hugely in the 1980's. and our whole nation during his time in president bush 41's cabinet. but that's not the only way he has honored his roots. you couldn't walk across the entire state of tennessee in a plaid shirt and serve more years as governor in the history of the state without becoming
entirely intertwined with the place. every corner of the state is better for his service. his groundbreaking work to bring home good-paying auto jobs has paid dividends. so has his major focus on infrastructure and better roads. but alas, mr. president, even building a statewide and then national reputation does not always -- always -- translate into honest-to-goodness celebrity status. i understand that following lamar's governorship, a stretch of highway in merriville was fittingly named the lamar alexander parkway to honor him. i further understand that sometime later lamar was driving on that very road and stopped for breakfast. when it was time to pay for his food, he handed over his credit card. the woman on the other side of the counter glanced at the name on the card and back at lamar.
hey, she said. were you named after this road? now, as a man of faith, i'm certain that lamar knows luke chapter 4. no prophet is accepted in his hometown. apparently neither are statesman to be reckon their own highway. -- recognized on their own highway. here in the senate, too, lamar's impact has been massive and the convictions that fueled it have been straightforward. he starts with a very firm framework. the right-of-center principles that ronald reagan used to build america and beat communism. the federal government isn't meant to take over our states, neighborhoods, or our lives. but lamar's career has also confirmed that conservative governance is not a contradiction in terms. there are genuine public goods
it is the government's job to secure -- public roads, public lands, public education, certain aspects of public health. he's dedicated himself to making those things better and stronger, especially for those who need opportunity the most. this vision alliance with the greatest traditions of the republican party and indeed of american history. government that is limited but effective and smart. a system where power stays close to the people and working families can thrive and prosper. these principles made our colleague a nationally known leader long before he was sworn in as a senator. but i say they've reached full flourishing with chairman alexander's astonishingly effective leadership right here in this body. students, families, and teachers benefit every day from the every
student succeeds act. chairman alexander's historic bipartisan makeover following no child left behind. one report called it the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter century. millions of medically vulnerable americans also have their champion in our friend from tennessee. the overwhelmingly bipartisan cures act was the single most important law of the entire 114th congress. it's paving the way for more innovation and faster innovation to benefit patients who have no time to waste. another lamar alexander production. his leadership was instrumental in the landmark legislation we passed two years ago to combat the opioid epidemic. just this year, he was the driving force behind the great american outdoors act, the senate's historic project to secure our parks and public lands for generations to come.
now, the list doesn't end there. there have been other education wins like permanent funding for historically black colleges and universities and simplifying the student loan process. there have been laws like the music modernization act which lamar hammered out with our former colleague, senator hatch, a legislative duet from two musical virtuosos in their own rights. senator alexander knows about 50 different issues as well as most senators know three or four. he is hands-down one of the most brilliant, thoughtful, and most effective legislators any of us have ever seen. he likes to say this about the senate. it's hard to get here. it's hard to stay here. so while you are here, you might as well try to accomplish something. well, mission accomplished. and then some. if you reviewed senator alexander's resume on results
without knowing the man, you might suspect he arrived as an established hotshot and threw his weight around. but even as lamar has mastered the levers of power here, his character has never been captured by washington. lamar remained clear that he has just been on loan from tennessee the whole time. so we have had more than just a master legislator to call upon. we have been blessed with sober, honest, deliberate statesman, someone who cares as much about serving this institution as the near-term results he can wring out of it. from daily conversations to committee business to the most dramatic moments on the floor, whether in the minority or the majority, lamar has taken pains to treat his colleagues exactly as he would hope to be treated
in their shoes. he's worked to build consensus in a consensus-based body. he has cherished and defended the senate the framers designed. and it's no exaggeration to say lamar alexander is one of the most brilliant people i have met in my life. his mind is a steel trap. i understand he likes to keep his staff experts locked around a conference table for long sessions, turning a complex issue over and over until they have arrived at the best path forward for the country and the most precise, concise way to communicate it. mastery of policy, mastery of the english language, and i can't forget to mention my friend's good cheer. lamar really does live by the motto he inherited from his good friend and fellow ten indiana, the late author alex haley -- find the good and praise it.
mr. mcconnell: i myself have leaned on lamar's wisdom for many years, but i think i have learned just as much on his optimism, his can-do spirit, his ability to look on the bright side. and then to discern how more hard work can make it brighter still. so i am going to -- i'm going to miss our regular dinners. even with our week-night
scheduling and official one-drink limit. like i said, mr. president, we weren't exactly party animals in our 20's either. but here's something else that never changes, how reassuring it is to be weighing a thorny question and see lamar alexander sitting across the table. you know, the senate can be all-consuming. it's not our colleagues but our spouses and loved ones that all
get folded into the extended family around here. so, look, i'm grateful that it turned out mitch mcconnell was not the most important young person that lamar alexander met during his first stint in washington, not by a mile. honey alexander is a remarkable woman. she is a force of nature and an incredible partner for lamar. she raised a young family in the governor's mansion for eight years. she charmed and impressed more voters during lamar's various campaigns than lamar himself. and she devoted her own career to public health and philanthropy. they shared love and mutual respect. honey is just about the finest in-law the senate could ever have. so elaine and i are grateful to call her our friend as well. so as much as i'm dreading life in the senate without my brilliant friend, even i can begrudge him the silver lining.
the most distinguished public servant has more than earned the right to spend more days fly fishing or walking trails in the smokies, more mornings walking up in blackberry farm, and a much larger share of his time with honey and their family. now, about six years ago, it fell to lamar to eulogize his friend and mentor, howard baker. here on the floor, he quoted another senator who said that when he came to the senate, there was howard baker, and then there was the rest of us. well, my friend for 18 years has been lamar alexander, and there has been the rest of us. so i'm sorry that in a few more weeks, -- he is going to wish
mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the chair lay before the senate the message to accompany h.r. 6395. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the senate insist on its amendment, agree to -- the presiding officer: the chair lays before the senate a message from the house. th clerk: resolved, that the house disagree to the amendment of the senate to the bill h.r. 6395 entitled an act to authorize appropriations for fiscal yea2021 for military activities of the department of defense for military constructionnd for defense activities of the department of energy to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes, and at a conference for the senate with the disagreeing votes for the two houses thereon. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the senate insist on its
amendment, have a conference, and conferees on the part of the senate. the list is at the desk. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. first let me add my words of fond farewell to my friend lamar alexander and the touching moment between the leader and senator -- the senior senator from tennessee which was moving to all of us. now, senator alexander and i have not always agreed, but what an amazing and capable legislator and true statesman he has been. he has been the middle -- in the middle of things for much of his 18 years in the senate. that's because he is not some ideologue who stood alone in his
corner. it's because he is someone who has been always willing and insistent on reaching across the aisle, on hearing another senator's perspective, on searching for common ground, however narrow it may be. he searches to do the right thing. i remember when we did the immigration bill, and there was a lot of pressure on senator alexander to vote against it. and i watched him wrestle with it and turn and churn, and i sort of knew in my heart he would do the right thing, in my judgment at least, and vote for that bill, and he did. that's some real political consequence to himself, and that's who he was and is, a man of principle. we often would talk in the senate gym, almost every morning for a long period of time. i don't go to the senate gym post-covid. and more often than not, we found each other on opposite sides of the senate gym. we helped open up the amendment process on child care legislation. together we led the rules
committee for a number of years. and we come from very different backgrounds, but i will never forget the weekend that iris and i spent with honey and lamar at blackberry farms. and it was a beautiful weekend for us that we will always, always cherish and remember. given the opportunity to put a stamp on presidential inauguration, lamar and i said whoever is in the majority, we didn't know, we would give each other time to speak, and it served us both well. this is the kind of person he has been, someone who is willing to reach out, someone who is willing to see the other side, and someone, move all, in tumultuous and very difficult times for all of us is a man of principle and conscience. senator alexander will leave this chamber with a legacy that
every senator would be proud of. i wish him and his family the very best. now, on a few other words, since i want to make a few remarks about we have a going and we have a coming, and our coming is of a new senator who will be installed today, and that is captain mark kelly who will be sworn in as the next senator from arizona. it may not be the role he expected for himself earlier in his life as a u.s. navy captain and then an astronaut aboard the international space station. as mark likes to say, his wife gabby was already the member of the family in congress, but tragedy upended both their lives and changed so many of their plans. everyone continues to be inspired by gabby's recovery, by mark's devotion, and the courage it took for their family to reenter public life and public service. but that's who mark kelly is, a devoted and honorable man, and
we're delighted to welcome him to the senate democratic caucus and the wider senate family. so a fond adieu to my friend lamar. a fond welcome to my new friend, mark kelly. and, mr. president, i have some more remarks, more on the topics, but i think i will defer those with unanimous consent that i could talk about those later so we can get right to senator alexander's remarks at the 10:30 scheduled time. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will rept. the clerk: nomination, national credit union administration, kyle hauptman of maine to be a member.
mr. alexander: mr. president, i thank my friend mitch and my friend chuck for their remarks. i will have more to say to them later. on march 9, 1967, senator howard h. baker jr., the newly elected senator from tennessee, made his maiden address, his first speech on the floor of the united states senate. he spoke for too long. the republican leader of the senate, also baker's father in law, senator dirksen, walked over to congratulate him and then said, howard, occasionally you might enjoy the luxury of an unexpressed thought, which is good advice for a farewell address as well. as senator baker's legislative assistant, i was also his speechwriter for that maiden
address, or at least i thought i was. he developed a bad habit of not saying what i wrote for his speech, so i asked to see him and i said do we have a problem with our relationship? he said, no, we have a perfect relationship. you write what you want to write and i will say what i want to say. i learned a couple of of other things about saying what i want to say. one came from alex haley, the author of "roots" who heard me speak once and called me aside afterwards and said may i make a suggestion? he said if when you begin a speech, you would start by saying instead of making a speech, let me tell you a story, someone might actually listen to what you have to say. and then from david broder, who gave this advice to ruth marcus when she got her column for "the washington post," one idea per column, so here's my -- here's
a story about my one idea for this speech. in august of 1968, senator baker was in the republican leader's office where senator mcconnell is today. he overheard this conversation. senator dirksen was saying no, mr. president, i cannot come down and have a drink with you tonight. i did that last night. and louella is very unhappy with me. about 30 minutes later there was a commotion out in the hall, and in the door of the republican leader's office came two beagles, three secret service men and the president of the united states, and lyndon johnson said to everett dirksen, if you won't come down and have a drink with me, i'm here to have one with you and they disappeared into the back room. later that same year, around a long table in that same office the democratic president and the republican leader worked out the civil rights act of 1968.
it took 67 votes to break a filibuster, but when the bill passed and johnson signed it, the senators who voted no went home and said it's the law. we have to accept it. and it still is today along with many other civil rights laws. so that's the one idea i have for this speech. our country needs a united states senate to work across party lines to force broad agreements on hard issues, creating laws that most of us have voted for and that a diverse country will accept. in the 1930's we needed a senate to create social security. after world war ii the united nations, in the 60, medicare, 1978 to ratify the panama canal treaty. in 2013, more recently, to tie
interest rates for student loans, saving student borrowers hundreds of billions of dollars in the last several years. in 2015, to fix no child left behind. that bill had 100 alligators in the swamp. "the wall street journal" said when we finished that it was the largest evolution of power from washington to the states in 25 years. when president obama signed it, he said it was a christmas miracle because in the end 85 senators voted for it. in 2016, as senator mcconnell mentioned the 21st century cures act moving medical miracles faster into patients and doctors offices. that bill went off to track every two or three days. object one of those days i -- on one of those days i called the vice president, joe biden, and i said joe, i'm stuck in the white house. i've got the president's personalized medicine in this. i've got your cancer moonshot,
senator mcconnell's regenerative medicine proposal, speaker ryan worked out a way to pay for it. but i can't get the white house to move. i feel like the butler standing outside the oval office with a silver platter and nobody will open the door and take the order. and joe biden said, if you want to feel like the butler, try being vice president. well, in the next few weeks the senate rules literally forced us to come to an agreement, and in the end we almost all voted for it. senator mcconnell said then as he said today, it was the most important legislation of that congress. and today it is helping to create vaccines and treatments in record times. in 2018 the once in a generation change in the copyright laws to help songwriters be fairly paid. this year the great american outdoors act. everyone agrees that it's the most important outdoor environmental bill in 50 years. all that took a long time, a
lot of collaborating, many amendments, many years, too many years civil rights advocates, students, patients, songwriters, conservationists would say. but the point was those bills didn't just pass. they passed by big margins. the country accepted them and they're going to be there for a long time. and most of them were enacted during divided government. when the presidency and at least one body of congress was of different political parties. that offers an opportunity to share the responsibility or the blame for doing hard things, like controlling the federal debt. that's why our country needs a united states senate, to thoughtfully and carefully and intentionally put country before partisanship and personal politics to force broad agreements on controversial issues that become laws that
most of us will vote for and that a diverse country will accept. nearly 60 years ago i traveled from my home in the mountains of tennessee to new york university's law school in manhattan on washington square. it was my first trip ever to new york city, and i had asked for a roommate whose background was as different from mine as possible. one of those roommates turned out to be a tall skinny guy from new jersey who, when i would go to his home in new jersey and spend the night, his mother -- she was a seamstress, his dad was a contractor, they were italian immigrants. his mother would become so concerned about my frayed collar on my one dress white shirt that she would turn it while i slept. years later that roommate paul tagliabue invited me to go to the the italian american dinner
here in washington. they were bursting with pride for the italian american heritage at that dinner. cheers for scalia and pelosi and stall lone the actor and for tagliabue, the national football league commissioner. but what struck me was as proud as they all were of their italian heritage, they were most proud to say we are all americans. ken burns, whose films tell the story of who we are, reminds us that the late arthur schlesinger once wrote that our country needs less pluribus and more unum. that it, that the fact that we have attracted people from everywhere in the world has made our country richer and stronger. but it is more important and a greater achievement that we've combined all of that diversity into one country. that's why the motto above the presiding officer's desk is not one word pluribus.
it is e pluribus unum. out of many one. more than ever our country needs a united states to turn pluribus into unum, to lead the american struggle to forge unity from diversity. now some advocate operating the senate in a different way. end the filibuster. the senate's best known tradition. in the movie "mr. smith goes to washington" he calls it the right to talk your head off. don't worry about party lines. pass everything with a majority vote. presidents would like that. they've said so. they get their way more easily if we allowed the passions to roar through the senate like they roar through the house of representatives. so if the democrats are in charge, we could abolish every right to work law, repeal all limits on abortion, and pass restrictions on guns.
very appealing for the moment. but what about if the train roars in the other direction? and republicans say let's impose a right to work law on every state and pro-life laws and gun rights laws. is such back and forth and back and forth what we really want as a country? the framers didn't think so. they created this cooling saucer for those passions that washington talked about and the filibuster, the right to talk your head off, is the preeminent tool we use to force broad agreements on tough issues that most of us will vote for and that the country can live with. alexis de tocqueville, the remarkable frenchman who wandered through our country and who wrote the best book yet on derrick in america saw -- on democracy in america saw two great dangers for our future. one, russia. and two, the tyranny of the majority.
ending the filibuster would destroy the impetus for forcing the broad agreements i've been talking about and it would unleash the tyranny of the majority to steamroll the rights of the minority. well, you may say the senate isn't solving some big problems, and you would be right. we're not even voting on some big problems. sometimes because the majority doesn't bring it up and sometimes the minority obstructs if a carbon tax is a good idea, why aren't we voting on it? if we want to help the daca kids, were aren't we voting on it? if federal debts are out of control, why aren't we voting on it? it doesn't take a genius to figure out how to bum up the works -- gum up the works in a body of 100 that operates mostly by unanimous consent, but here's my different view of why we're here. it's hard to get here, it's hard to stay here, and while we're here we might as well try
to accomplish something good for the country. but it's hard to accomplish something if you don't vote on amendments. lately the senate has been like joining the grand ole opry and not being allowed to sing. it's a real waste of talent. think about this body. over the years we've had astronauts and former governors and supreme court law clerks, military heroes, turn turn-kr0e6789s. -- turn-around c.e.o.s. a group of that much talent should accomplish more. restore the senate to the time when it was working across party lines more often to solve big problems. not so long ago the senate worked monday to friday, considered hundreds of amendments, most votes were by majority, conferences worked out broad agreements.
that was under the existing rules. let me say that again. that was under the existing rules. so the senate doesn't need a change of rules. it needs a change of behavior. and the behavior to change first is to stop blocking each other's amendments. if you're against it, vote no. why stop the entire body from even considering it? why join the grand ole opry if you don't want to sing? i guarantee you that if 15 to 20 democrats and 15 to 20 republicans decided they wanted to change that practice, they could do it. now some governors don't like being a united states senator, but not me. the jobs are different. both jobs cause you to want to see an urgent need, develop a strategy to deal with it and try to persuade at least half the people you're right. the governor's job is more like moses. you say let's go this way.
the senator's job, if you want to get something done, is more like a parade organizer. you pick the route, you recruit the marchers, you select the music. you even pick the drum majors sometimes. and then you march in the middle ed of parade and hope it doesn't run off the road more than a half dozen times. i love the traditions of the senate, the hard marble floors, elaborate courtesies, barry black's prayers, scratching my name besides howard baker and fred thompson's name in this desk drawer. i made a lot of friendships in the senate. my best friend began at a softball game between senator john tower's staff of texas and senator baker's staff in 1967 when a 21-year-old smith college graduate named honey slid into first base wearing red shorts. i was not only surprised, but captivated. and 18 months later we were
married. and for 52 years she has been an unselfish and caring wife, mother, campaigner, advocate for parents and children, especially her own. in 1969, as the leader mention, senator baker said to me, you ought to get to know that smart, young legislative assistant for the new kentucky senator marlow cook. that smart, young legislative assistant was mitch mcconnell and it began a half-century of friendship. mario dee angelo first cut me hair in 197 when i came up for three months to work for senator baker when he was suddenly elected republican leader. some of my experiences in the senate haven't been so friendly, such as my confirmation hearing in 1991 when senator metzenbaum of ohio said, governor alexander, i've heard some very disturbing things about you, but i don't think i'll bring them up
here. and he then put a hold on my nomination for two months until i was mysteriously confirmed late one night, and i still don't know how. back then i found a new way to make senators -- friends among senators when i went to the republican retreat and they said, stop talking and play the piano. we'll support bush's education program. so i did and they did. i've strengthened friendships in the so-called intersanctum that chuck schumer sand i resurrect downstairs. it provides a private space for senators to have a snack and a confers. one-third of this body of the senators and their spouses have come to the smoky mountains to be our guests of honey and me at our home for the weekend. we don't talk about politics much there. we talked about lost hikers and told bear stories. and i've even learned here how to count. how to count my friends.
in 2006, i wrote 27 thank you notes for 24 votes when i lost the race by one vote to be the republican whip. having learned to count, i got to be the republican conference chairman. i enjoyed that, but nine years ago i left to focus on issues that i cared the most about. since then i've done my breast to leave footprints that i hope are good for the country. fixing no child left behind and 21st century cures and working with patty murray and michael bennet was there at the start for the fafsa. working with dianne feinstein building up our national laboratories and supercomputing. joining the bipartisan parade of portman and warner and guarder in and king and heinrich and burr and cantwell in a -- that created the american outdoors act. working with murray and jones
and tim scott on the one hand permanently funding black colleges. with blunt and shelby on the shark tank and the n.i.h. creating new diagnostics tests. with bur and mansion and king on the student loan law i mention the with casey and enzi on the perkins act. with harry reid and bill frist when they were leaders on the american competes act. none of this could have been done without an exceptional staff, but instead of thanking them in a rushed way now, i'm going to make a separate salute to the staff speech tomorrow. maybe i'll start a tradition. my favorite time in the united states senate has been with the american history teachers who i invite to come to the senate floor before it opens while they are attending the academies that were created by the legislation i introduced in my maiden address 18 years ago.
after that address, ted kennedy, without my knowing it, went around and got 20 democratic cosponsors. in the house, roger wicker and marsha blackburn helped pass the bill there where they were then. the teachers who come to the floor before we open invariably go to our desks and try to find daniel webster's desk. they look for the kennedy brothers'-esque did -- brothers' desk. they ask where is jefferson davis' desk because they've heard the story there is a chop mark on the desk that was imposed by a union soldier when they captured washington and the soldiers was chopping the desk until his commander said, stop that. we're here to save the union, not to destroy it. invariably a teacher will ask a senator, what would you like for us to take back to our students about being a united states senate.
my reply is always the same -- please suggest to your students that they look at washington, d.c., as if it were a split-screen television. on one side are the confirmation hearings and the tweets. and on the other side you have democratic and republican senators working together to strengthen national defense, national laboratories, national parks and the national institutes of health. please remind them of what a remarkable country this is, the strongest military, the best universities, producing 20% of all the money in the world for just 4% of the people. tell them we're not perfect, but as our constitution says, we're always working to form a more perfect union. as samuel huntington wrote, most of our arguments are about conflicts among principles with which most of us agree. and most of our politics is about disappointments in not
being able to reach the noble goals we set for ourselves, such as all men are created equal. the late naacp president ben hooks used to teach his university of memphis students, america is a work in progress. we've come a long way. we have a long way to go. please remind your students that the rest of the world wishes they had our system of government and that the united states senate has been and i hope continues to be the single most important institution that helps to unify our country by creating broad agreements that most of us can vote for and that the citizens of the united states will accept. and finally, please tell them that i wake up every day thinking i might be able to do something good to help our country and that i go to bed most nights thinking that i have. please tell them that it's a great privilege to be a united states senator.
paying tribute to senator alexander today. and as you can see, there are many that want to speak and have a few words to say. now, i think all of us wish that we could do this to a background of music with lamar playing the piano. that would definitely be the proper -- the proper setting. but i am so pleased to stand and to honor the three terms of service that he has had here in this body and the way he has touched the lives not only of individuals in this body but millions of tennesseans. and we know that he has -- and he's talked about it in his remarks -- he's worked with educators, he's worked with innovators, he has worked with the health care community, and
he he has worked, yes, with entertainers, many of whom hold him so dear and who call tennessee home. in fact, when i was serving in the house and representing tennessee's seventh congressional district, so many times i would look over here and i would think, what is lamar not working on today because he always had such a broad portfolio of issues that were demanding his attention. and what we know is he accepted that work to address that broad portfolio of issues. his commitment for caring for the needs of all tennesseans has really manifested itself in what
tennesseans like to see as a lifelong legacy that has really changed lives. it has worked -- as governor he worked to streamline our state's government. ithe was very successful in thoe effort -- he was very successful in those efforts and he brought in a -- brought that desire to streamline government when he came to the senate. indeed, this is work that has benefited all tennesseans and all americans. as governor of tennessee, he was very successful in working to persuade nissan automotive to come into our state. this started a new impact on our state with the auto industry. then as the auto industry needed
suppliers, he turned his attention to infrastructure, to make certain that the roads, the highways, the access that was necessary was there to encourage this business. and, as the former secretary of education under president george h.w. bush, he could not -- couldn't not put his personal touch on education policy. working tirelessly, as he said, to fix no child left behind. and this earned him the first ever james madison award. he has a reputation for indeed being a go-to lawmaker and as chairman of help here in the senate, he put a spotlight on the issues that affect the most sensitive aspects of
tennesseans' lives. again, benefiting all americans. and i like the fact that he talked about bipartisanship and productivity. between 2015 and 2019, during his term of service at help, he has reported 45 bills out of his committee that have become law. 45 bills. as he mentioned, one of those was 12st century cures. and as a member in the house and working on originating this bill, we had said we're going to make this bipartisan. and indeed we did. and we moved it from the house to the senate. and yes indeed, there were some
days we thought this is never going to happen. but, indeed, senator alexander insisted and, yes, it did happen. he mentioned the music modernization act, and i will tell you, this is vitally important to tennesseans. and as we worked this through the house and then it hit some butches in the road -- some bumps in the road, senator alexander and senator hatch did such a great job of pushing this forward here in the senate and then last september the nashville songwriters association international awarded him the white hat award, which is what they give to legislators who have been -- who have made a significant impact
on the entertainment and music community. well, the highlight reel would be too long to cover in one speech. there are many that are waiting to express their thanks, so with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from california. the senator from california is recogned. mrs. feinsteinthank you, mr. president. i rise today to honor senator lamar alexander, a friend and a colleague who served in this body for some 18 years now.
i've had the pleasure of serving with this senator on both the rules committee and the appropriations committee. and we've sat next to each other as chairman or ranking member on two appropriations subcommittees, first interior and energy and water, and we've done that since 2009. it has been through these experiences that i truly have come to appreciate senator alexander's fairness, his interest in solving problems, and his bipartisanship, and most of all, lamar, i so appreciate your friendship and the time we have had to talk together. i do believe that the senate is going to be diminished by the absence of this senator. working closely as chair and ranking member of the energy and water subcommittee, we have always been able to find agreement on the annual appropriations bill.
that's because we share a willingness to find common ground, and that's no small thing. we have consistently held comprehensive subcommittee hearings on a wide range of issues, from nuclear power and nuclear waste to dam safety to devastating droughts in the west and the future of renewable energy. we are also often among the first, if not the first, subcommittee to negotiate our bill, draft it, and get it marked up by the full committee. and that includes four years of record level funding for clean energy, the national laboratories, supercomputing, and water projects. the focus has always been on a fair, open process that seeks compromise, and that track record speaks to the value we place on the process. but more than anything, senator
alexander will be remembered as someone who dedicated his life to serving the people of tennessee. between his eight years as governor and 16 years as a senator, he served longer than any tennessean who has held both jobs, and that doesn't include the two years he served as president george h.w. bush's secretary of education. his priorities have always been of great importance to tennessee, whether the army corps of engineers' funding for inland waters, particularly his favorite, chikamaga. this is the first time i ever heard the word pronounced, chikamaga lock he be often talks about in our hearings or updating the way musicians are paid for their work. he has also led efforts to pass every student succeeds act in
2015, which president obama called a, quote, christmas miracle, end quote. and as we hear promising news about coronavirus vaccines, we're reminded of the 21st century cures act. that is senator alexander's landmark 2016 bill that streamlined the drug and device approval process to bring treatments to market faster. he has a long record of work he can be proud of. lamar, you have been a great colleague and a dear friend all these years in the senate. i am proud of what we have achieved together. i will miss our dinners together and sitting next to you on the dais. i hope you enjoy a well-earned retirement with honey and your beautiful family. thank you so much for your
servic the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: mr. president, i first met lamar alexander when he was a candidate for president 25 years ago. he was campaigning in the state of maine, and after giving an articulate speech outlining his priorities and his policies, he proceeded to charm everyone by playing the piano. little did i know then that we would one day serve as colleagues and friends in the united states senate. lamar, as you have heard already today, is an extraordinary legislator. he has the ability to bring people together even on very contentious issues and hammer out a compromise.
his extremely -- he is extremely effective because he is always well informed, focuses on the issue at hand, never gives up, and is willing to work across the aisle. he gets things done that matter not only to his constituents and his beloved tennessee, but also to citizens across this great country. he has been an extraordinary leader on important issues that many of us care deeply about, such as biomedical research, education, and combating the opioid crisis. he is that rare individual who is far less interested in who gets the credit than in getting the job done. but in fact, each of us who has had the privilege of working with lamar knows that he is the
one who deserves the credit. i have served for years with lamar on the health, education, labor, and pensions committee which he chairs. on one challenging issue after another, when others would throw up their hands and say this is impossible, it simply cannot be done, lamar never gives up the search for a solution and for common ground. lamar has been so prolific as a legislator that it is difficult to single out one accomplishment among so many, but if forced to do so, i would say that the 21st century cures act is his signature achievement. as the name implies, this law is
a lasting legacy for him, and it is already providing lasting benefits for our country. whether it's the brain initiative that will finally help us to make progress on diseases like alzheimer's, parkinson's, and other neurological illnesses, or the cancer moonshot that was done in honor of beau biden. or the funding that was included to look at the impact of life tiles on our health. all of the provisions of this landmark law will improve the health of the american people far into the future, and it will be lamar alexander who deserves the credit. as as a close second, i would cite the educational reforms he drafted to replace and improve
no child left behind to give more autonomy back to the states and local school districts. that law, the every student succeeds act, was a momentous bipartisan achievement, and lamar has already explained what it took to get the job done. it's not surprising that in 2016, the nation's governors named lamar the first recipient of the james madison award to recognize members of congress who support federalism, and as we have heard today, "the wall street journal" called essa the largest evolution of federal control to the states in a quarter century. in addition to being a skillful legislator, lamar is also a wonderfully talented musician as both a pianist and a singer.
his hilarious performance at the annual alfalfa club dinner back in 2011 is legendary, and thanks to youtube, it is also immortal. lamar was a great friend, as he mentioned today, of the writer alex haley, the author of "roots." mr. haley's personal motto was find the good and praise it. lamar quotes that often, and he lives by it. optimism and gratitude, effectiveness and skill are his defining characteristics. to lamar, the good isn't simply what is pleasant. it is what is worthwhile, what makes us better people, better citizens, a better nation. and if we follow the advice he gave us today, we will be a
better senate. not long ago, i was interviewed by a journalist for a retrospective on lamar's service in the senate. she said that she happened to be in the senate dining room on december 17, 2018, the day that lamar announced his attention td that a room usually alive with chatter was unusually quiet and tinged with sadness. that somber atmosphere was genuine and bipartisan. lamar, i can't tell you how much personally i will miss serving with you. you're not only a great senator, an extraordinary legislator, but a wonderful friend. thank you so much for your many
years of public service. i feel very honored to have served with you, to have learned from you, and i wish you and honey all the best. thank you, mr. president. mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the assistandemocratic leader. mr. durbin: thank you, mr. president. his name was the answer to a frequently asked question. it's a question that used to come up in almost every democratic meeting when we talked about legislative ideas and we talked about making progress on the floor of the senate. and the question was this -- well, who can we call on the other side of the aisle? and the answer was almost always lamar alexander. we knew that if we presented an idea to him, he would not only be receptive and respectful, we knew that if he came on board, it would lend credibility to our
effort, maybe even get a bill passed around here. but it would always have to wear a red tartan badge with it because there was an idea that he wanted to bring to the party, but it was worth it. it was worth it not only for the progress that you could make in terms of legislation but it was worth it because it was part of developing a friendship. harry truman used to recommend famously if you want a friend in washington, get a dog. i thought of that, i told you about it a few months ago when you were on one of those sunday morning talk shows, and you were broadcasting i think from your living room or family room at your home in tennessee. i couldn't get over that stuffed animal that was on the coffee table behind you. it just seemed like it was such an odd little piece of maybe personal pride to have that stuffed animal with you, and it
turned out it wasn't stuffed at all. it was rufus, your dog, who slept through your entire performance. he wasn't a bit moved by the fact that you were on a sunday morning talk show. i want to thank you for many things, and i will mention a few of them in terms of legislation, but i especially want to thank you when i brought a group of friends of mine down to nashville, tennessee, and you made a recommendation list of places to stop, including the bluebird, and then came by and joined us for lunch. you couldn't have been more gracious, and i thank you for that. it's just the trademark of lamar alexander's life and service to this country. i could talk about many things, but i want to reflect on one that i think is timely and significant. it's the reason a lot of us are wearing these masks. we're facing a pandemic with the covid-19 virus. it has claimed 273,000 american lives and i'm afraid many more to follow.
millions, almost 13 million or more, have been infected by it. we want it to end. we want it to end as quickly as possible. the really shining ray of hope here is the pability that a vaccine will be available soon. i pray it will be. i like to think that some of the things that we did together with others created an opportunity for that vaccine to be discovered. it was five or six years ago that i approached you and i approached senator patty murray and roy blunt with the idea that we ought to make a concerted, consistent effort of increasing the n.i.h.'s budget by at least 5% per year. senator blunt i see on the floor here, and i want to thank you. you took that cause to heart, along with senator alexander. we had the right appropriator and the right authorizer. patty murray served in both capacities so effectively. we have dramatically increased the n.i.h. budget over the last
several years, and i'm hopeful, and i would like to think that some of those researchers and the work that they did was laying the groundwork for the discovery of these vaccines so quickly in the united states and around the world. that's a legacy you won't soon forget. do you remember when we first got wind of this covid-19 and i walked across this chamber here and said to you i'm worried about this protective equipment issue and how much we're relying on overseas for it. would you join me in at least an effort to find out whether we're dependent on foreign sources at a time we might desperately need this protective equipment for our own? you said sure and we did it together and the investigation is underway. it may not serve us in this particular crisis but it will serve in many generations to come to make sure we have reliable domestic sources in the united states. i'm not going to catalog all of the items that were mentioned
earlier by your colleagues senator blackburn, senator collins and senator feinstein. the list goes on and on. but that increase of, by 38% of the national institutes of health was something that our little quartet did together. i'm particularly proud to be part of it. it wasn't by far the only thing that you've done. you championed the increase in the department of energy office of science as chair of the energy and water appropriations committee, which senator feinstein noted. under your leadership with her, that office budget has increased by 38% since 2015. you worked with the national labs oak ridge, argonne, those are near and dear to me as well. your support for research infrastructure provided essential help to this lab, labs across america. i want to just close by saying this -- most of us were moved by your speech. i'm sure that it was a perfect
illustration of your view of this chamber and the good memories you have and it challenged all of us to do better. i think the honest answer is it's not the rules of the senate that make the difference. it's the senators who make a difference. and if we came to be -- to the chore of lebltion slating with the inspiration of lamar alexander we'll get a lotone for america. thank you for your great service to our nation. mr. thune: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. thune: mr. president, the senate is going to to miss lamar alexander, and listening to his farewell address just now made the fact that he's leaving all too real. i don't like to think of a united states senate without lamar. he's a senate institution and a national leader and his leaving is a loss for this body and the american people.
mr. president, any tribute to lamar has to mention his incredible career, which a lot t has been alluded to already. his walk across the state of tennessee. his eight years as tennessee governor, his time as secretary of education under president george h.w. bush, his stint as president of the university of tennessee system and his time as a professor at harvard. and then of course his 18 years in the u.s. senate marked by significant legislative accomplishments on everything from education to opioids. all that, and he makes a plaid shirt look good. although these days he's switched to a plaid fiscal mask. mr. president -- a plaid face mask. i first met lamar when he attended a lincoln day dinner in south dakota in 1995 when running for president. i started to get to know him when i came to the senate in
2005. lamar had been here for a couple of years by that time and already had an extraordinary career behind him. i know i was not the only young senator who regarded him as something of a mentor and a role model. i shared a couple of things with lamar. one is the fact that we were both senate staffers long before we came to the senate as elected officials. we weren't here at the same time. he was a little ahead of me. i came to the senate the year that howard baker left. but like lamar, i have a great appreciation for the contributions that staffers make to the work that we do around here. and i know many of lamar's staffers are in the gallery today as he leaves. also we lose a tremendous amount of brainpower and talent that has contributed so significantly to the successes and accomplishments that he's had as united states senator. the other is that he and i both have served as chairman of the
senate republican conference, which is the messaging and communications office for republicans in the senate. i succeeded lamar as chairman of the sate republican conference in 2012. and i will tell you he's a very tough act to follow. but an inspiring one because he did such a tremendous job in leading our messaging in the conference. lamar has an ability to break down complex subjects and communicate them clearly. he can sum up an issue in one succinct phrase. and he mentioned earlier in his remarks the idea that there ought to be one column, o idea, one speech, one idea. he really did master that. and i can recall his summary when we were talking a lot about the energy issue. we need to find more and use less. that's about as clear a smary of our energy priorities as you can get. and l many of us used a phrase
he popularized around here too in describing policies of the other side that we thought would be harmful to the economy as casting a big wet blanket over the economy. i don't know how many times you heard that coming out of our mouths, but it all originated with lamar alexander. and i think that ability to really break down complex issues and clearly explain them is one of the reasons that he was such a good conference chairman and one of the reasons that he's been so successful legislatively. and he has been successful legislatively. you've already heard a number of my colleagues talk about his many successes. but he's gotten, managed to get things passed around here that i don't think anyone thought could get passed particularly in the polarized political environment we've been in. lamar has an ability to bring people together from across the aisle. you've heard our colleagues on both sides speak to that. he's very practical about the business of legislating. he focuses on what is actually
possible to do and he finds the common ground, and he gets things done. you heard the american competes act, the every student succeeds act, the 21st century cures act, the opioids crisis response act, the copyright act, the great american outdoors act. and i could go on and on. those, ladies and gentlemen, are major, major pieces of legislation, tremendous accomplishments of the congress, united states senate, signed into law by the president, all of which couldn't have happened without the leadership of lamar alexander. he's held multiple leadership positions in the senate, chairman of the health, education, and pensions committee, as i said, senate republican conference chairman. but he's always been a leader, whether or not he's in an official leadership position, simply by virtue of who he is. mr. president, as said before, lamar has been a mentor and role model to me and i know to many others here in the senate, but i also have to
mention his personal warmth and hospitality to me and my wife when our daughter was studying at belmont university in nashville, tennessee. he and his wife honey opened their home to us in nashville. they hosted us. i'm fortunate to be among those that he mentioned at their place in the smokies which was a fabulous experience. they took us to a tennessee titans game. they went above and beyond, and to believing day we are grateful for their warmth and generosity and for the chance to see lamar in hislement and his beloved tennessee. lamar has dedicated much of his life to his state and country and nobody could be more deserving of retirement but i will be surprised if he fully retires. i'm pretty sure that even while sitting on his porch he's still going to be dreaming up ways to make our country better. lamar, thank you for your leadership and for your mentorship. thank you for being a role model to so many of us.
may god bless you in your retirement. i will miss you. mr. present, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. psident. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i was not planning on speaking today, but i was so inspired by what senator alexander had to say about his career and about the senate that i wanted to share a word or two of reflection on what, on what he said. anybody who spent any time around washington, d.c., or even around this capitol knows there are statues built all over this town of people nobody remembers. and when i go by one of those statues in washington, whether it's in a circle somewhere in a
traffic stop or in the hallway in the capitol, i think about the importance of dying at the right time. you want to die at a moment when statues are in vogue if you're going to have a statue. but there is know -- none of these people are going to be remembered in the long view of history. philosophers on who we attempt to base so much on what we do here had a solution for that. their solution was whether it was the greek or roman philosophers, their solution was do your best. show up and make a contribution. do your best. don't worry about how people are going to remember you. don't worry about your own
mortality. so few of us follow that advice. i think lamar alexander embodies that. as president of the university of tennessee, as governor, as the secretary of education, as a senator, in every one of those jobs, it's always been about doing his best. in a chamber filled with people who think they have a monopoly on wisdom, lamar has never stopped learning. he's always been curious. up to this day, i'll bet today he probably got up and asked somebody on his staff or one of his colleagues to tell him about something that he wants to learn more about so he can be more effective and make a greater
difference, so he can do his best. the senate is going to be diminished by lamar's absence. it's hard to believe that we could be any more diminished than we are, but we are going to be diminished by lamar leaving. susan and i were lucky enough to be invited to his home to spend a weekend there, and i'm going to say something now that i never said to lamar alexander. he gave us the great privilege of standing in the family cemetery in eastern tennessee in his beloved smoky mountains where he will forever keep the windmills out. and as i stood there a little awkwardly in the cemetery -- because that's not usually part
of a tour -- all i could think about was how lucky lamar and honey were, that that would be the place that they would be and that long after they were remembered by anybody that they would know that they had done their best, that they had always done their best. and so what i would say to my colleagues today is that we have an opportunity to follow lamar's example, take him up on what he said. we're not memorializing lamar today. he's going to to have a lot more years left to contribute to his state, to his community and to
the country. but he won't be in the senate. and we are in the senate. we could work in a senate that works five days a week, mr. president, or even six days a week, mr. president. sign me up for that senate. we could work in a senate that has 25 amendments a bill instead of 25 amendments in a year, as we did last year. because there is no other body in america or in this democracy, as lamar said, that's set up to decide the hardest questions that our country is facing and to make those decisions stick. that's what lamar alexander said to us today. he's left us with a challenge, and i hope we'll take him up on it.
because there is no excuse for the way this place works. and the american people are tired of hearing that it's the other side's fault. there are 100 people that can fix this place, and i hope we will. i can't think of a greater legacy for lamar to leave than a senate that's actually working. that's what the country deserves and that's the inspiration that lamar alexander has set for me. thank you, mr. presidt. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, we all know lamar alexander is a person of tremendous character and judgment, and it's not just because he asked that young woman in the red shorts that he met at that softball game so many years ago to marry him, who happens to be from victoria, texas. that demonstrates his enormous
good judgment and certainly we wish him and honey the best in this next chapter of their lives. when i think about lamar alexander, i think about all the lamarisms. we've heard some of them here today. but -- find the good and praise it, quotes his friend alex haley, which i think speaks to the optimistic, positive view of life that we could all use more of. then i remember the words he said -- he said if you want to get a standing ovation before any group of individuals, you need to say, it's time to put the teaching of american history and civics back into its rightful place in our schools so our children can grow up learning what it means to be an american.
well, he talked about alex haley, his friend who told him how to give a speech by tell ago story -- by telling a story. aristotle gave a great speech. one is the logical argument. the other is the emotional argument. the other is about establishing your authority. it's about the character of the speaker. when i think about lamar, as he is -- he has demonstrated again today, the thing he has aissued mr. here is not what he has accomplished here, but his incredible character and positive impact on our senate and on our country. and it's been because people know that his heart is in the right place. else a. doing for all the -- he's doing it for all the right reasons that we admire him so much. i would point out, as i told lamar previously, i was an admirer of lamar alexander long before i ever met him. when i voted for him in the
republican primary in 1996 for president. unfortunately, he dropped out of that race shortly thereafter. so i told him i wasted my vote obviously many but i have been an admirer for a long time. lamar and i also share something else in common. it's not about -- it is about his predecessor as well as mine. it is a person by the name of sam houston. i occupy the senate seat first held by sam houston when texas became a state. of course, he came originally from tennessee. he happened to be a governor of tennessee before he left and came to texas, later became governor of texas and seceded and basically stepped down because he was a union man recruited by andrew jackson. he wanted -- he loved the union.
he did not agree with secession. but of course he came to texas and became the victorious general at the decisive battle of san joe sin tow. he became president of the republic of texas. the same reason why the texas flag and the united states flag fly at the same height because we were an independent nation before we became part of the united states. well, i've heard it said that you can never write a novel based on the life of sam houston because nobody would believe it. i've read plenty about him, and i still find that to be true. but as i indicated, as proud as texans are of sam houston's contribution to our history and our state, we know we can't claim him entirely because he grew up in merriville,
tennessee, the same town that lamar alexander is and went on to become governor, as i mentioned. sam houston's portrait hangs above my desk here in the hart office building because it helps remind me of my responsibilities and of the incredible history and contribution that he made and that hopefully each of us can make. well, he -- you find sam houston's picture above my desk, but you find his walking stick in lamar alexander's office just down the hall. many have seen the words engraved on its gold cap. according to lamar, several texans have tried to run off with it. unfortunately, that hasn't been successful. the truth of the matter is, you
can't get through a texas history class or at least you shouldn't without hearing the role of the volunteer state in the history of my state. i always kid lamar and said, the tennesseans that came that tax deduction and fought at the alamo, they were just one step ahead of the a creditor or an aggrieved spouse. this was a rough-and-tumble group that came from tennessee to found texas. well, there are other tennesseans, people like davy crockett, others who came to texas who created our state. the state of texas has many reasons to be grateful to the contributions of the sons and daughters a of tennessee and one of those great sons is lamar. his dedicated life and public service has led him through an incredible number of important offices, but i think the thing that, to me, even more than his legislative accomplishments
that's made lamar so effective is because we know we can trust him. we know his character. we know when he saying is, it's true. -- we know when he saying is, it's true. we've seen time and time again when lamar has used that character and trust to pass historic legislation in this chamber. and as we've all come to know, when you're working side by side with lamar on legislation, you're bound to get things done because he's cracked the code. he knows how to do it. i've been proud to work with lamar on legislation to address the opioid epidemic, support our service members and veterans, protect health coverage and ensure folks across the country have the opportunity to take advantage of the american dream. his presence has been a constant -- has been constant throughout our time. we came to the senate at the
same time and, of course, his retirement makes that all bittersweet. so i want to thank our colleague from tennessee for his friendship over many years, for the for example, as we've heard from others, his example that he has shown for the rest of us how to be an effective member of the united states senate, and also to thank him for his decades of service to the country. so i don't expect lamar to follow in the footprints of sam houston and run for governor of texas, but i know he has many more contributions to make to our great country, and i want to wish him and honey all the best during had next chapter of their lives. and to make sure that -- and i'm sure he's looking ford to spending a -- and i'm sure he's looking forward to spending a little more time had in their beloved smoky mountains. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, thank you. i've learned in my time in the senate that if you want to get
something done across the aisle, you really need the following -- you need someone on the other side who's just as committed to working together as you are and that that member needs to have the trust of members on your side of the aisle and on their own, and you both need to be willing to set aside egos and listen and get a real lace stick understanding of -- a realistic understanding of whether the person an other side of the negotiating table can reach an agreement with you that helps your principles without compromising their own. what i've laid out might not sound that rare, it's actually pretty tough to find these days. so i've been really lucky that the senator we're honoring here today, my colleague and friend, chairman lamar alexander from tennessee, is someone who has managed it time and time and time again. i don't think anyone -- least of
all senator alexander himself -- would be surprised to hear me say that we are as likely to disagree as agree on many matters. i bring my washington state values to the table. he brings his tennessee values. so you can imagine how that has gone from time to time. but, despite our different perspectives and our different approaches, we take to policymaking. we've also been able to see where our values and the interests of our state and country converge. we both have understood the broken no child left behind law needed to be fixed and lamar listened to me, which i so appreciated. when i told him, we should write a bill together rather than amending the republican bill that he'd begun working on. when our help committee members, we were able to write and pass a new k-12 education bill that fixed the most broken parts of no child left behind, included federal guardrails so we could understand how the students
performed, dedicated resources to improving our schools and allowed for historic steps forward on early education. we laid the groundwork together for new investments in lifesaving biomedical innovation. and the cancer moonshot. we worked together to pass landmark legislation to boost outer response to the opioid epidemic and to strengthen our public health preparedness programs and to permanently fund historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. we not only passes -- passed each of these bills but did so with huge majorities in the senate. and even now we are working to get legislation to ban surprise medical bills across the finish line. what which i've just laid out is by no means a full list at all of senator alexander's
accomplishments as chairman. senator alexander's focus on working together has helped countless families -- countless families -- in his home state, in my home state and nationwide. my democratic completion and i want to thank chairman alexander for the tone and manner by which he has led the help committee over the past six years. some of them admit thely rockier than others, but throughout guided by his steady leadership and commitment to working together. and for myself as someone who shares the drive to not only fight for what you believe in but also to look for common ground, i want to thank my colleague from tennessee for the many opportunities to dig in and get to work that he's provided. for being willing to hear me and my colleagues out again and again and again when necessary.
and for looking so often for common ground for another problem we could solve and for being willing not just to keep talking but to keep listening as well. and finally i know, mr. president, that none of this would be possible without the support and strength senator alexander has received from his wife honey. and i want to acknowledge and thank her for her contribution as well. lamar, you'll be thrilled to be back full-time in the state you love so much. i know that. but i and members of the help committee want you to know we are going to miss you terribly here in the senate. thank you so much for all you have done. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. wick welcome i ask unanimous consent -- mr. wicker: i ask unanimous consent that senators cantwell, blunt, romney and schumer be able to complete our remarks before the next vote. the presiding officer: the is there objection? without objection. mr. wicker: i thank you, mr. president.
and i don't want to prolong this discussion except to make one additional point about the unselfishness and humility of this hero of the senate whose remarks we will long remember today. there is a framed piece of legislation hanging on the wall in my conference room in the dirksen building. it is in fact a piece of legislation that senator alexander chose to mention as one of his signature accomplishments, and that is the american civics and history education act, signed into law by preyed george w. bush. -- by president george w. bush. there is a story about how i came to have that piece of legislation that senator alexander worked so hard on in my conference room on my wall.
i was -- i live in north mississippi, and as such, i listen to memphis television a lot. and during lamar alexander's first race for senator, on came a commercial and basically it said just what my friend from texas just quoted; that this candidate for senator, former governor lamar alexander, wanted to pass an american civic education bill to teach our children what it means to be an american. and i stopped at that moment and i pointed at that television screen, and i said if that man gets elected, i want to be part of that bill, because that's exactly what we need. and so senator alexander introduced the bill here in the senate. i introduced it in the house of representatives. we make public appearances together, one in memphis, tennessee, that i will always remember. and eventually, the bill gained a lot of support over here, and
senator kennedy has been mentioned as someone at the forefront of that effort. we were able to pass it in the house. it went to conference to iron out the details, and the decision had to be made as to which one would actually be enacted in both houses and go to the president for his signature. and lamar alexander allowed the piece of legislation introduced by relatively -- by a relatively junior member of the house in roger wicker to be that piece of legislation that went on to the white house and the oval office to be signed by the president of the united states. and so that is how that piece of legislation hangs on my wall as a bill authored by representative roger wicker, but passed very much with the efforts of senator alexander also. and so i just wanted to mention
that, not to prolong this discussion, but to mention that act of selflessness and humility as another attribute to this great senator who we say farewell to today. i think, mr. president, that the remarks we heard from senator alexander will be taught at civics classes, college level government classes for decades and decades to come. it was so profound, and it is a real honor that a piece of legislation that he and i worked on together will always be a part of what i consider to be those immortal remarks. and so i thank you very much, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i come to the floor, too, to thank the senator from tennessee for his service to our nation and for his work here in the united states senate. some of my colleagues have already mentioned that the
brevity of words at which senator alexander can deliver a message. i, too, remember his comments ae member, the inaugural address, really capturing the moment of why a transition of power is so important to our nation. and it struck me that we really had a poet or a writer among us, someone who could sense and feel the moment of what we were going through and express it into words. so i have no doubt that some writing is in lamar's future here, and i look forward to seeing that. but i wanted to rise today to thank him for his service and what it has meant to my state and to our nation. my colleague from washington talked about their work together on the health committee. i, too, want to thank you for the cares act. i remember your recognition on fox news about stem cell research and the great work that that has led to. so we are appreciative of those research dollars. but i want to focus on a role that maybe has not gotten as much attention, the historic
role you have played on our energy budget and our national laboratory budget. i so appreciate the background of your state and the background and focus, but energy funding, both from the national laboratory perspective has had to have a constant flow. constantly it has been challenged, yet it has put every step forward because of the level of investment in helping us make our nation more secure, create more innovation, and create more jobs. so thank you for holding steadfast on the national laboratory budget. i also want to thank you for your work on the manhattan historical park that we worked together on that both commemorated the history of our nation and our manhattan project at both oakridge and richland, washington, and hanford, and to just thank you for the constant focus on the cleanup budget that we have had to have in the energy department as it related to hanford. you know, there was a time when we had many cleanup projects
around the nation and it was very easy to come together and say we had to get savannah river, we had to get oakridge, we had to get colorado, we had to get idaho, and we had to get hanford. but as those projects made progress, a lot of people forget about what it took to clean up hanford. and i so appreciate your constant focus on helping us get the dollars necessary for cleanup at hanford. and i also appreciate recently your help on making sure the people didn't overstep on the national nuclear security agency and turn that over to a defense oversight of people but kept it within the department of energy. i so appreciate that. but i will be forever grateful for your focus on public lands. you know, we have a saying in my state, environmentalists make great ancestors. i don't know if you want that environmentalist term associated with your name, but i'm pretty sure you do want stewardship. and the man from the great smoky
mountains helped us deliver a monumental piece of legislation by convincing the president of the united states to support the budgetary impact of combining both the national park enhancement program, which is basically taking care of the national park's backlog, which was in the billions of dollars, and also fully funding the lapped and water conservation fund, a battle that had been going on for more than a decade. so i want to thank you for that, lamar. i want to thank you on behalf of the washingtonians who go to so many special places, who will be able to visit and commune with their families, who will be able to have outdoor experiences, who will be able to really understand the grandeur of mother earth. and so thank you for pulling off what seemed to be like an impossible effort to convince people to make that level of investment. we're going to miss the harmony of your voice and the harmony of
your legislative skills, but we are not going to say permanently goodbye to you because we hope that you will be sending us messages just like the one you sent today and reminding us that we can do better. so thank you, lamar, for your contribution in a lot of your life to these very important issues that affecto many of us. thank you. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. romney: i first met lamar alexander in 1995 when i spoke at boston's lincoln day dinner. like today, he was folksy, good humored, thoughtful, and impressive. i remarked to ann that he was surely going to go places. of course, he had already gone places by then, but he ran for president the next year. one thing lamar and i agree on is the best candidate for president does not always win. i think he may well have been just that. you all know thate served as president of a university, governor, senator, and a secretary of education. i have watched firsthand as he
has led the senate's committee on health and education. i don't know any person who has worked longer, harder, and more effectively for the well-being of america's children than lamar alexander. his service extends of course beyond children as we have endured the covid-19 pandemic. he has led the senate as we have helped to guide and fund our national response. his health care expertise and his determination to keep each of us informed and involved has been invaluable. while america's response to the pandemic may not have been exemplary, lamar alexander's leadership in the senate's role has been superb. the speed at which we will have a vaccine is in no small measure a testament to his determination and vision. but lamar is much more than a senator. i have seen the devotion he has for his wife and family. i have watched him entertain rooms full of celebrating republicans with his piano and singing. and i have experienced very personally the kindness and
graciousness that have long characterized this man. he was the first senator to come to meet me when i joined this body. had his enact on the senate, on the state of tennessee and the nation extends well beyond his legislative accomplishments and leadership. his greatest impact has been that of his personal character. he is a man without guile. he's true to his conscience. he speaks and acts with truth and honesty. he cares about people and endeavors to help others. he's a genuine friend, as is evidenced by the many members of his team wearing plaid masks around this room. he's used his talents and energy not to aggrandize himself, but to serve. it can be said of lamar alexander that he is a great american of exemplary character. we are a better people because
of lamar alexander. mr. blunt: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: i think mark twain said, among many other things, that there is nothing more troubling than a great example. and as we have had all of these speeches today, i have felt less and less adequate as the speakers talked about the great things that lamar has done, the great things he stands for, the incredible character that defines his life and his work, and it has been wonderful to be here and to see the appreciation that senators have for somebody who's proud to be a senator. not that often you get to start
a maiden -- a last speech on the senate referring to somebody else's maiden speech almost over 50 years ago, but that kind of sense of the senate, that sense of community, that split screen that lamar talked about with educators where you do have the one screen where it appears that nobody can get along and get anything done, and particularly in the senate, you have this relatively small community of people, all of whom got here by figuring out how to -- normally how to get along with other people as one of their -- one of their attributes of getting to the senate. and then you have rules in the senate that require you to get along to get anything done, and so you have that other screen that doesn't get nearly the attention, but when you do look at the accomplishments even at a time of great frustration, those accomplishments have been significant, and so many of them have included lamar.
i knew lamar before i came to this senate, but particularly the last ten years of working with lamar in the senate have been great for me. the time that abby and i have been able to spend with he and honey have been great. the things that he says in passing that really define the opportunity to be here in such a significant way. we've heard many of them today. there are others i think of often. lamar told me not too long ago when i was talking about how well our staffs worked together, he said, well, it always seemed to me that when the senators obviously got along, the staff figures that out, and they understand they are supposed to get along, too. and lamar is blessed with a great staff. it will be interesting to see the new standard of having that other speech that so significantly talks about the staff and what the staff means. i have a great staff, many of us do, but when those staffs work together, as opposed to looking
for reasons they shouldn't work together, things happen. i remember lamar told me one day they always remember the last thing you do. and if that turns out to be the case, at least the last senate year of senator alexander has been extraordinary as others have been, but this year i had a chance, as the appropriating chairman of the committee that lamar is the authorizing chairman for -- and by the way, he also sits right beside me on the appropriating committee in most of our hearings when senator shelby isn't -- isn't able to be there, the chairman of our full committee, but in this last year, particularly from march on, we have done so many things together. in march, april, may, june, there was almost never a day when we didn't have at least one call with somebody who's running a laboratory or someone at the f.d.a. or someone who understood
this investment arm we had, barda, that had been designed about ten years earlier but never used as we have used it to bring the private sector and public sector together in partnership in a way that advances both tests and vaccines, and we would spend sometimes hours a day in a series of 30-minute phone calls trying to put the pieces of this puzzle together. and i remember one day, we were talking to someone at the white house, and the comment from his part of the conversation was knowing how many other conversations we had had that day, if people had any idea how much the senate and the two of you say at that moment are committed to get things done, they would be surprised because that's a story that never gets told. so so much of the story of lamar and his work here, the good
spirit he brings to that work isn't told, but it's so very obvious. certainly for me, one of the great gifts of my working life has been for lamar alexander to be such an important part of it for the last ten years. i'm grateful for it, i'm grateful for him. i look forward to his continued friendship and advice. i think senator alexander like many of us is more of a next chapter guy than a last chapter guy. he's neither shy or retiring. i expect him to continue to have great impact in his state and in our country. and in my case, i hope he continues to have great impact in my life. mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader.
mr. schumer: first -- and i spoke earlier about senator alexander. i'd like to compliment my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. this was a fine and rare moment of bipartisanship and support of somebody who we all admire and respect. now back to regular senate business, i'd like to conclude my remarks from earlier this morning on the senate business, but first i want to mention that i just met with another of president-elect biden's exceptionally qualified slate of cabinet nominees over video conference, and that was alejandro mayorkas for the department of homeland security. no one exemplifies the hope and promise of america better than that him. an immigrant from cuba who has risen to the highest echelons of public service in his adopted country. we had an excellent conversation about how to restore integrity and trust at d.h.s., how to make this a department that is not just anti-immigrant but
relishes the fact that immigrants are so important to the future of america. now i will note that in previous administrations the secretary of homeland security has been confirmed by the senate on inauguration day for president obama and for president trump. the senate should continue the tradition and quickly confirm alejandro mayorkas so he can get to work on day one of the biden administration. on senate business, before the end of the year the senate has three major priorities, fund the government, pass the annual defense bill and deliver another round of significant covid relief. the appropriators from both sides of the aisle continue to have good discussions, and i hope on the funding of the government to final agreement can be an announced soon. the other two priorities,
unfortunately are a bit murkier. yesterday president trump issued over twitter a renewed threat on the annual about defense bill. previously the president threatened to veto this important legislation over a provision to rename military installations named after confident traitors. now president trump has issued a veto threat by tweet over a policy concerning social media companies, section 230, which is in neither version of the ndaa already passed by both houses of congress. president trump must have realized that voting a pay raise for -- vetoing a pay raise for our troops in order to defend the honor of confederate traitors wasn't the best move. after four years of four years of absurd comments on social media, i wonder if our republican colleagues will say they didn't see this particular tweet. the truth is section 230 may
actually need some reform, but that's a serious undertaking that should be done in a regular order and can be left for another day. and it's certainly not an acceptable reason to veto the annual defense bill which includes policies to keep our military prepared, well resourced and equipped to do a difficult and vital job. nonetheless, it's silly season at the white house. the president seems intent on filling each of his remaining days in office with petulance, grievance, self-interest. the president is reportedly asking his staff about whether he can -- the president is reportedly asking his staff whether he can issue preemptive pardons for himself, his family members, rudy giuliani. there's a simple answer -- no. no, mr. president. that would be a gross abuse of the presidential pardon authority. but i have a more important question.
just how long are our republican colleagues going to indulge the president in this nonsense? many republican colleagues gave the president space to express the validity of our elections poisoning america's faith in our democracy. now he's threatening a pay raise for our troops and considering pardoning the entire trump family. when are our republican colleagues in the senate going to say enough already? at the very least, with respect to the defense bill. senate republicans ought to find the courage to ignore the president's 11th ram belings and pass the ndaa. regarding another covid bill, we all know that successfully passing legislation through congress means that a bill must get through the democratic house and get democratic votes in the senate. passing a law takes a measure of
bipartisanship and compromise. that's why speaker pelosi and i sent the republican leader a new offer on a covid bill. it was an effort to jump-start serious negotiations. but yesterday leader mcconnell announced that rather than respond to our offer or the bipartisan offer of the so-called gang of eight, that he will pursue another partisan proposal before the end of the year. he said he was going to talk to the republican leader in the house, the republican president, and that's it. not a word with democrats. from early reports in the press, the latest republican offer will be even more insufficient than the previous two attempts, so insufficient that according to one press report, a republican senator said it was offensive, his words, to struggling americans for the republican majority to focus on another messaging bill. apparently the latest republican proposal will not include
another dime of unemployment assistance background check according to the republican -- because according to the republican whip it was something the president likely wouldn't sign. the latest republican offer on covid will include immunity for corporations who put their workers at risk for covid but not a dime for workers who lost their job because of the pandemic. the republican leader should not waste the senate's time on another inadequate partisan proposal and instead should sit down with democrats to begin a true bipartisan effort to quickly meet the needs of the country. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: all postcloture time has expired. the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? the clerk will call the roll.
their vote? if not, the yeas are 56, the nays are 39, and the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's actions. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: clotu motion, we, accordance with the provisions of rule 22, do hereby brg to a close debate on the nomination maryland, to be judge of the united states court of federal claims, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense
their vote? if not, the yeas are 51, the nays are 44, and the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: of cloture motion, we, the undersned senators, in accordance with the provisions of re 22, do hereby bring to a close debate on the nomination christopher waller, of minnesota, to be a -- kathryn c. davis, of maryland, to be a judge of the uted states court of federal claims. a senator: mr. president. mr. president. a senator: could we have order? a senator: mr. president. mr. thune: i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding at 2:00 p.m. the chair lay before the senate a certificate of
election for the state of arizona. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the motion tonvoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we, accordance with the provisions of rule 22, do hereby brg to a close debate on of christopher waller, of minneso, to be a member of the board of governors of the fedal reserve system. signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of christopher waller, of minnesota, to be a member of the board of governors of the federal reserve system shall be brought to close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will ca the roll.