tv U.S. Senate CSPAN November 17, 2021 1:30pm-5:31pm EST
i want to make two basic points at the beginning and then discuss some of the specifics of the bill. the first is the word deterrence. the cornerstone of our defense policy is deterrence. the best battle is the one that doesn't occur. the best war is the one that doesn't occur. and there are those who will say that this bill authorizes a very large amount of expenditures. mr. president, i can assure you that war would dwarf the expenditures in this bill. and deterrence is the whole idea of having a force which will convince any potential adversary that attacking the united states is a losing proposition, that it will cost them more than they would ever gain. that has been our strategy for many years. it is our strategy going forward. and i will talk about it in some specific terms with regard to
this bill. but it's important to understand that that's why we're doing this defense bill, is to provide and strengthen and ensure that this country has the forces and the weapons that are necessary to deter any potential adversary. the second concept that generally i want to discuss is consensus. when i go home to maine, people are amazed that we do anything together because all they see on the tv news and read in the newspapers is about conflict, bickering, arguing, differing. why can't they get anything done? what they don't know is that we do get a great deal done, and a lot of it is by unanimous consent, is by consensus. and this bill is a good example. this is the 61st year that the national defense authorization act has come to the congress, and we hope it's going to pass this year. for the past 60 years, every
single year, we have passed a national defense authorization act. we have usually -- almost -- well, usually, not almost always, always passed them on a bipartisan basis. this bill came out of the committee 25-1. that's pretty close to unanimous. and we always get substantial support in our committee, the armed services committee, but also on the floor of the united states senate. why? because the members of this body, just as the people across this country, are committed to those who serve in uniform and they're committed to the idea of peace and the idea of deterring adversaries and avoiding conflict and war. they all think that all we do is argue, and this bill is proof that that's not the case. when i first got here, my first
two chairs of this -- of the armed services committee were carl levin and john mccain, senators who represented in my mind the best of the tradition of this senate. argued fiercely in favor of their positions. worked hard to resolve conflicts within the committee and were absolutely committed to the values of the united states of america. despite all the partisan differences that exist in the country, this bill is an example that we are still united when it comes to the defense of the united states. it comes on the heels of monday's signing of the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill. i think it's interesting that that bill has in its name -- it has a name, i'm not even sure what it is, but everybody refers to it as the bipartisan infrastructure bill because it was supported by bipartisan majorities in both houses.
and in this bill, we're coming together to do something similar to support our country and particularly to support those who put their lives on the line to defend this country. and i want to stop there for just a second. we all go through life getting various jobs, signing up for jobs, applying, and then you sign a form and you join the company. there are very few jobs in our society when you sign on the dotted line, you are literally putting your life on the line. members of the military and first responders are the only people i can think of that do that. and it's something that we need to remind ourselves. in addition to all the other responsibilities that you're taking on when you join the military, you are literally signing to commit your life, if necessary, in defense of this country. i believe this bill is essential to protecting our servicemembers, the industrial base which serves the defense of
our country and collectively our national security. the armed services committee has produced a bill that will make our nation safer and stronger. for example, taking care of our servicemembers. 2.7% pay raise for military servicemembers and the department of defense civilian workforce. that pay raise is important. if this bill doesn't pass, it won't happen. so that's one of the immediate reasons that we need to pass this bill, to provide a pay raise to our military personnel. they will also receive 12 weeks of parental leave for birth, adoption, and foster care placement of a child. one of the provisions that i am interested in is that there is substantial support in this bill for our naval infrastructure. it authorizes funding for
example, two destroyers which bath ironworks in the state of maine will be able to compete for, and in furtherance supports our navy's ability to deter adversaries around the world. it's no secret that the pacific is an important area of potential conflict, and the pacific is an ocean and it requires ships in order to project power. those ships are built here in america. this bill demonstrates congress' intent to support the navy, to support shipbuilding, and to support the industrial base. one of the things the bill does is provide for a new -- what they call a multiyear contract where the navy commits to buying more than one ship at a time which gives them a better price per ship. that's good for the taxpayers. it also gives some assurance to the industrial base that the jobs will be there, that the work will be there in order to
maintain the support. we often forget that the companies that do these amazing -- produce these amazing products cannot be turned off and on like a switch. i have visited shipyards. i visited in norfolk, i visited in maine, in portsmouth, and at brunswick -- at bath ironworks many times. and these are amazingly complicated pieces of machinery. i believe that the destroyers built at bath ironworks are quite possibly the most complex product built in america. and the people that build them have to know that they're going to have a job a year from now and two years from now. we can't go herky-jerky from one year to the next. one you lose a welder who goes somewhere else, it's hard to get him back. and so the maintenance of the industrial base, whether it's in
shipbuilding, aircraft, humvees, whatever the vehicles are, whatever the platforms are that support our military, it has to be done on a consistent and predictable basis so that they will -- those factories large and small -- and by the way, there are thousands of small businesses that support these larger industries -- they have to know that there is some future, and that's why things like a multiyear procurement is very important. this industrial base is not something that you can turn off and on. there's research -- a research provision in this bill that is very important. the university of maine is one of those universities that provides vital research to the military. because we always have to be thinking not about the last war or the last conflict, but the future, and everybody in this
room knows that the future is going to be based upon newer and newer and newer technologies. so research is an essential part of building the strength of this country. i worked for the last two years on something called the national cyberspace solarium commission. our job was to come together to form and recommend, recommend a national strategy in cyberspace to defend this country, which we did in march of 2020. a number of the recommendations of our commissions -- commission were enacted last year, either in the national defense authorization act or in other areas of legislation that we passed, and this year there are some really crucial ones in this year's national defense authorization act. crucial provisions to defend this country in cyberspace. mr. president, the next 9/11 will be cyber.
and if we are not ready for it after all the warnings that we've had, shame on us. worse than shame on us. it will be destructive of this country. and that's why i'm so proud that there are provisions in this bill that will help us to respond, that will help us to understand what's going on, will help the private sector and the federal government to work together to meet and defeat this 21st century challenge. in many ways, cyber, mr. president, is a new manner of conflict. we have to reimagine conflict. traditionally, we think of conflict and wars as army versus army, navy versus navy, air force and coast guard. and now the space force. but cyber is all about the private sector. 85% of the target in cyberspace is in the private sector.
and they're not going to have their own army, so that's where there has to be a new relationship of trust and confidence between the private sector and the public sector in order to successfully defend this country in cyberspace, and indeed there is a provision hopefully that will enter this bill through the manager's package that will deal exactly with that subject. this bill also secures the future of the nuclear triad. strategic forces, otherwise known as nuclear weapons, are hard to talk about. they're hard to think about because they're so horrendous. but to go back to the beginning of my remarks, the issue here is deterrence, and we have had a deterrent strategy virtually since 1945, and it has worked. thank god there has not been a use of nuclear weapons since 1945.
why? because of the strategy that every adversary knows that they will pay an awful price if they attack us using nuclear weapons. as chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces, we have had hearings, we have had discussions, we have had readings on how do we successfully modernize our nuclear triad, bombers, submarines, and missiles, in such a way as to ensure the vitality of the deterrent strategy, and the problem is, mr. president, that all three of those legs of the triad have basically been unattended to for 30 or 40 or sometimes 50 years, and as they degrade in capability, so also degrades the capability of our deterrence. if the adversaries look and say they're trying to fly
50-year-old airplanes or they're trying to defend themselves with missiles that are unsure of whether they will work, then the adversary says well maybe we can get away with an attack, and therein lies a path to a horrendous nuclear conflict. which has to be avoided. the best way to avoid it is to be sure that our deterrence is credible. the only way to make it credible is to be sure that it's modernized, and that's exactly what this bill contemplates. another provision of this bill that i think is critically important is a substantial change in the military code of justice with regard to sexual assault that puts in place an independent prosecutor system to take the decisions about moving forward on sexual assault claims
out of the chain of command and puts it in a special professional prosecutor's decision. i think that's important not only for the practical effect but for the message that it sends to soldiers and sailors and airmen and guardsmen that we're serious about this, that they can feel comfortable reporting violations, that they can come forward and that there is no danger that the complaints that they make will be swept under the rug. i think this is an important provision of this bill, and i want to commend my friend, senator gillibrand, who has spent as long as i can remember, as long as i have been on the committee, which is nine years, working on this issue and in many ways this is a culmination of her work. another provision of this bill that i'm particularly interested in is that we learn the lessons from 20 years in afghanistan.
senator duckworth has proposed the creation of an afghan war commission, an independent commission not made up of generals, not made up of people who were in afghanistan, but people who can take a clear-eyed look at the successes and mistakes concerning our engagement in afghanistan. i think this commission is an important idea. i was delighted to support senator duckworth's proposal. another proposal that we hope will be included with the national defense authorization act is the united states competition act, which we have already passed in this body, but we put it in this bill and it will go to the other body and there will be consideration there. this is a critical piece of legislation to enable competition with china. and make no mistake, we are in
competition with china. so passing that bill as part of the national defense bill, to me, makes total sense because we're talking about national security and being competitive in areas like a.i. and chips and quantum computing is as much a part of national security as bombers and submarines. it also includes a provision about competition in the artic, which is one of the areas of the world that is opening to competition, potentially to conflict, we don't want that to happen. and, finally, the bill reasserts the fundamental congressional responsibility -- i almost said prerogative, but it's not. it's a responsibility of congress to make the decision as to when this country is committed to war.
in recent years -- well, let me give a little history. the last time congress declared war was in 1942. we have had aumf, authorization for the use of military force. this bill will repeal two of the earlier aumf that has been used as a blank check to engage in conflicts around the world in 1991 and 2002, aumf's involving iraq. mr. president, if you go back to the debates at the constitutional convention, i think it was august -- i want to say august 17, 1787, there was a debate about the war power and there were those who said the executive has to have the power to declare work. congress is too cumbersome. others said we rebelled against the king of england because we
didn't like the king or prince being able to unilaterally take us into war. the compromise was to divide the responsibility. the president is the commander in chief, but congress has the responsibility to declare war. this power has not been usurped by modern presidents, it has been abandoned, it has been given up by modern congresses. this bill is a steb away -- is a step away from what i think is a serious gap in ouradherence to the -- our adherence to the constitution. there is plenty of good in this bill. there is plenty to celebrate. i'm delighted to be able to support. i only just scratched the surface, but it's a kind of truism that you will never be successful in a military context
if you're fighting the last war. you have to think about conflict in the future. in maine sometimes people say we've never done it that way before. i'm sure you hear it in colorado and around the country, we've never done it that way before. if that's our way, we're sunk. we have to think about what is coming at us, what is in the future, cyber will be part of any kind of conflict we may be engaged in. i hope we will never be in a serious conflict, and, again, that's the purpose of this bill is to deter any potential adversary from thinking that they can successfully attack this country. this bill defends the interest of america, it defends the interest of our military -- our wonderful military people who are deployed around the world and as i say who are putting
their lives on the line for this country. we can come together, hopefully in the next few days in a partisan way, -- bipartisan way to pass this bill, to pass this bill in the words of john f. kennedy, to accept the burdens of leadership and that we will meet our responsibility to john mccain, to carl levin, to all those who have come before us, and to the people of the united states of america. thank you, mr. president, i yield the floor.
mr. blunt: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: madam president, one of the most striking things i think we're beginning to notice this year is that the holidays are really taking on a really different look than we've seen in a long time. actually for about a generation now, we've seen more choices and more often than not declining prices, which made it possible for american families to have things that the past they hadn't thought were possible for them to have. the pandemic, of course, was a big obstacle a year ago as people were forced to alter or cancel their plans for their families to get together and i think many of us were really looking forward to a more traditional holiday season this year. hopefully that season still
allows people to get together, but i think we're also beginning to see people think they are going to have to scale back their celebrations or be prepared to pay a lot more for them. maybe just simply paying a lot more to get there to start with as gasoline costs have gone up dramatically. i think we're about 46% higher in our gas costs than we were a year ago. for a lot of families, that's a deciding item of whether you can actually get to grandma's house or not. this time the change in plans isn't because of the virus, it's because of inflation and supply-side issues that, frankly, the government has done a lot to help cause. jason furman, who was the chairman of president obama's council of economic advisors said, this is his quote, the original sin was the size of the american rescue plan. it contributed, according to jason furman, he said it
contributed to both higher output and also higher prices. now, what he was talking about, the american rescue plan, this was the so-called covid relief plan from march. it was a law that democrats passed entirely by themselves despite a lot of warnings that the economy was already beginning to recover and putting another $2 trillion into the economy, including, madam president, a lot of money that went to state governments that clearly didn't need it and local governments that maybe needed it a little more than the states did. but states were having all-time high revenues. we already helped states in a number of different ways, and then suddenly we had to beat all of that by sending money to states, sending $2,000 to everybody, almost, and think that wouldn't have any impact. i'm not sure who we were trying to save in this effort for
relief. there was no reason to believe in march that the economy wasn't headed on the way back. what we did in march with that legislation was just pour more fire on an economy that was already about to roar back in a good way. the warnings were right on the money. in october inflation rose 6.2% over the cost a year ago. that's the highest increase in inflation in 30 years. a lot of americans alive today, a -- certainly a lot of americans who are in the workforce today don't remember the inflation of the 1970's and early 1980's that made it hard for families to keep up, made it hard for families to buy a house, made it hard for families to pay the basic bills. i hope that we're not going to get a strong reminder of that, but it certainly looks like we
are. the prices for many of the things that will be on the thanksgiving table are going up. "the new york times," about two weeks ago, had a front-page article that this would be the most expensive thanksgiving ever. and then they went through that last list to talk about that. the price of turkeys, by the way, has gone down a little bit in the last few days. it was projected at 20% higher, it's only 18% higher. so your principal protein on the thanksgiving table will cost 20% more than it did a year ago, other protein is even higher than that. potatoes are 17% higher than they were in a year ago, green beans were 30% higher than a year ago. i don't know if you see a pattern, but there is one, butter is 30% higher than it was a year ago. if your grandmother's recipe for
stuffing, or as my grandmother called it, dressing, if it includes onions, onions are 51% higher than they were a year ago. between labor shortages, the high cost of raw materials and more expensive transportation, the food supply chain is just about as mefd up as the rest of -- messed up as the rest of the supply chain. we don't import as much food as other things, but that food supply chain isn't working for us either. shoppers are already beginning to see bare spaces on grocery store shelves. places you were going six months ago and you had a choice or even six weeks ago and you had a choice, suddenly there's one item there of what you're trying to buy or maybe no items of what you're trying to buy. they're just simply not a choice that you can make at the store because the product you want to get is not there and not just a
brand name product. the product is not there in growing cases. what are we going to see when the christmas holiday, the holiday season shopping really begins right after christmas. black friday or whatever other day you're going to do that shopping in, i think you're going to see as american families and american individuals are going to see lots of challenges. wait times for ocean freight, we've all seen those pictures now of the backup of ships waiting on the -- to get to the port in every port in the country, every port in the country. wait times about 45% longer than it was last year at this time. shipping rates from china are around 400 times, 400%, four times higher than they were a year ago. things that cost $2,000 a container now are much more
likely to cost something like $12,000, $15,000, or even $20,000 just for moving the container from where it's filled up to where it gets off the boat at one of our ports. traffic jams at the big ports are a problem in every place. there's a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers to move things once they get unloaded. you know, we made it so appealing for some people to stay home from work that they have at this point still decided not to go back to work or decided to retire early. they were getting that enhanced unemployment check for a couple of years, decided that maybe that life in the truck which is a hard life or that life on the dock which is a hard life or that life at the grocery store stocking shelves which can be challenging every single day or any other job was just not a job
that they were going to go back to. i mentioned president obama's economic adviser earlier, said another pretty revealing thing in the same time when he talked sup -- talked about supply side problems. this is his quote. it would be a fool -- it would be foolish to count on a return to normal within the next year, within the next year. so things are not going to get better if we don't get back to -- they're likely to get worse. then he said inflation is likely to remain uncomfortably high. now, i'm not going to talk about what his personal economic circumstances may be, but if they're uncomfortably high for him, they're painfully high for lots of families. so here we go again, by the way. not only was the $2 trillion bill done just by one party, not a single republican voted for it in march, not only did that feed
the flames of inflation but now we're right back talking about a bill that if every program was extended through the ten years would be a $4 trillion or $5 trillion bill. it's impossible to understand how you wouldn't see that as another thing that's going to really create great risk. we've had every warning sign we could possibly have. when washington pays people not to work, it gets awfully difficult to fill all the open jobs. when washington gives people money that washington has borrowed or just simply kind of made up, that's awfully hard. you know, the predictions that have been made about what happens in excessive unemployment payments, the predictions that have been made about money borrowed and put into the economy that we don't have have actually turned out to be right on target.
and so republicans are warning again if our colleagues on the other side continue to plan to move forward with another, however number you want to describe t. i think it's very fair if all these programs are extended, to describe it as $4 trillion or $5 trillion. if people will like having government take this new responsibility and then think they could actually stop after one year or for years or three years. nobody believes that and frankly i don't know anybody on the other side who thinks that's the plan. they understand the plan is to have a $2 trillion price tag and a $5 trillion ultimate pay qowt for -- payout for the things that that price tag starts to pay for. nothing about being uncomfortably high. let's talk about the pain that
you can have as you tighten your belts not just for the holidays but for the foreseeable future. transportation. transportation, food, home heating in the winter. it doesn't get much more basic than that. and if transportation costs go up, gasoline goes up 46%, food goes up 15% to 20%, home heating costs are projected in many places to go up somewhere between 50% and 100%, even if you got a little bit of a raise at work, that raise is immediately taken away by just the basic fundamental things you have to have. we need to work with our friends on the other side, and we need our friends on the other side to see the warning signs of what's happened with what we've done -- what's been done this year already and exactly understand what will happen if we do more of the same, we're going to get
more of the same and more of what's happening right now is not what the people we work for need or deserve. i hope we get serious about the things that our action, create. -- that our actions create. with that, madam president, i'd yield back. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mrs. blackburn: i appreciate my colleague from missouri with his remarks about how we need the other side to work with us. and that is so very true because this administration, the biden administration has refused to drag themselves away from the political posturing and move toward actually governing and addressing the problems that the american people would like to see addressed. they have sent this economy into
the gutter. now think about it. a year ago we had the best economy that we had had in decades. unemployment for women, for african americans, for hispanics hit an all-time low. wage growth at an all-time high. now the economy is in the gutter. our southern border is now in shambles. the hearing we had yesterday with secretary mayorkas was so dissatisfying because he did not have facts and figures and answers. and we see a country that is incredibly divided. but at least the american people now know just how in denial the white house is about what it takes to be living in the real world. their constant attempts to downplay the mess they've made have had the opposite effect, and now everyone knows just how
out of touch they are with anyone who regularly pulls in at the gas station to fill up their own car or darkens the door of a grocery store to buy the groceries that they need. yesterday i came to the senate floor and asked the question. what will it take for the biden administration to take the threat of chinese aggression seriously. the evidence is staring them in the face and yet they refuse to acknowledge that there is a danger, that china is our adversary. certainly the president's phone call did not give us any comfort in knowing that he understands they are an adversary. and today i have a similar question. what will it take for the biden add in, -- for the biden administration to take the
american people seriously when they repeatedly warn us that the economy is in trouble? they are living the warning signs every single day. but try as they might to convince us otherwise, this administration's talking points are all about happy talk, better jobs numbers and the pockets of growth. but this is not anything that is representative of the economy at large. still every policy that they've proposed this year assumes that the cost of inflation are a myth, that inflation is concocted by republicans, that it is there. it is a talking point to scare american families. madam president, how completely out of touch can this administration be? they're proving the point that
they're elitists, that they live in a bubble. what they keep saying to people is oh, you know, it's a dollar here. it's a dollar there. it doesn't really matter that much. but of course it does matter. anyone who has taken the time out of their life to rear a family and any mother that gets up in the morning and she's trying to feed the kids and get them to school and shuttle kids into the minivan and she's off to work and then they're off to activities in the afternoon, she knows that pennies add up to dollars which adds up to hundreds of dollars and it goes quickly, in a hurry. i talked to someone last weekend. they were talking about how a manageable trip to the grocery
store now has the potential to just blow their budget. they're somebody who likes to use cash, not credit cards. and they put it all in envelopes and they plan out their expenditures. and they are seeing firsthand what this budget is doing to their monthly budget for their family. and the sad thing is, this is all happening just in time for thanksgiving, just in time for the christmas holidays. but, you know, madam president, you don't need to take my word for it. my colleagues don't need to take my word for it. let's look at the bureau of labor statistics to tell the story. now, this is a federal bureau, and they keep this data.
and their data tel telling quitn interesting story. i have a poster here that actually shows you the percentage increase you're going to see. the thanksgiving turkey will cost you 6.1% more that year than last. if you want to get a ham, that's going to be an extra 12%. if you're serving veggies with the turkey and ham, that's an extra 8.2%. the price of a cup of coffee for after dinner, that's up 5.7%. and the grand finale, that homemade apple pie is up 4.1%. and i hope you weren't planning on driving out of town for your thanksgiving dinner because gas prices are up $1.23 a gallon since last october. think about that.
$1.23 a gallon. a gallon. now, this is sticker shock. every time you pull into the gas pump, it is sticker shock every time you go to the grocery store. and as you can see what it was last year, you're seeing these stickers on gas pumps all across tennessee. yes, the biden administration, they can say i did that. decisions that the president has made, stopping the keystone pipeline, moving us from being energy independent and exporting oil to making us dependent on opec of all things so that we
can drive our cars and heat our homes. it is outrageous. i would encourage president biden and my democratic colleagues to remember that when it comes to budgets and families managing their way through this inflation, they can't have it both ways. back in january they told congressional republicans that their bipartisan bailout bill was the only thing standing between the average american family and financial ruin. now, the very idea that pricing and spending power matters seems extremely unpopular with our friends on the left. suddenly they expect the american people to put on a brave face, to treat shortages like a minimalist trend, and to cut back where they can. you know what, madam president? the american people don't want to live in austerity. the american people want to go
to the grocery store and find the food that they need. it is stunning the attitude of the left. it is stunning the disregard that they have for average american families who are working hard every single day. of course people who are now struggling to make ends meet could stay home. they could stay right at home this holiday season. they could park the car, cook a small meal, and swallow their disappointment. but, you know who won'ting doing that this holiday season in preyed joe biden you won't see him making sacrifices to sustain the narrative. i have a feeling i won't see many of my democratic colleagues passing on thanksgiving dinner to show solidarity with families who couldn't stretch their paycheck far enough for that thanksgiving turkey. i would hope that something here in all of this data remind you
the bureau of labor statistics, that's where i'm getting the data. i'm hoping it would remind my friends across the aisle that this is not about proving a point. this is about the average american's growing inability to put food on their table. you may not have to worry about an extra $30 or $40 on the grocery bill, but most tennesseans do worry about that, and for some people spending more isn't even an option. it's time to adjust the priorities of the democrats. it is time for this administration to adjust their priorities. it is time for them to meet the people where they are and not where they think that the people should be forced to go by their socialist agenda. i would encourage my colleagues, pay attention to what the people of this country are telling you.
mr. bennet: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you. i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you. i come to the floor talk about our nation's defense. last week america marked veterans day. i was in wyoming and started veterans day the way i do every year, which is in douglas, wyoming, converse county, at the american legion. we raised the flag at 7:00 a.m. kicked off a day of veterans day
sir moneys all around wyoming. last week as i visited with veterans all around the state, i will share with you the things i hear all across wyoming. what i continued to hear is since joe biden took office, our nation has become weaker, weaker and the world has become more dangerous, and our nation is now less safe. in august joe biden oversaw the tragic and failed withdrawal from afghanistan. because of the president's weakness, incompetence, and mismanagement, the taliban took over afghanistan in just a matter of weeks. just before the withdrawal, terrorists killed 13 of our troops. it was the deadliest day for our military in a decade. one of those fallen heroes was ryely mccollum of wyoming.
all of wyoming felt the terrible loss of this 20-year-old. he was a statewide high school wrestling champ. on august 30, the biden administration left hundreds of americans behind enemy lines, in spite of the fact the president said he wouldn't leave anyone behind. the administration has admitted to the armed services committee that more than 400 americans are still behind enemy lines. joe biden's afghanistan surrender is a national disgrace. the consequences are being felt all around the world. our friends are furious. our enemies are emboldened. last month we saw a hypersonic missile being tested. we see an emboldened vladimir putin now has stationed 100,000 troops near the border with
ukraine. vladimir putin continues to speak of ukraine as if it is part of russia. north korea showed last month that it can launch ballistic missiles from submarines. iran will soon have much, much more cash than they did when president biden took office. how could that be? well, one reason is the influx of cash and the rising price of oil and a weak enforcement of the sanctions that we have against iran. easier for them to sell and more profitable to do so. the biden administration is trying to negotiate with iran from a position of weakness. the most alarming developments are the strides being made right now in china. since afghanistan fell, china has aggressively flown dozens of military planes over taiwan's air defense zones. the pentagon admitted recently
that china haw no, sir the largest navy in the world. china plans to build more than a hundred new ships over the next eight years. china is also building a 300 missile silos and plans to have 1,000 nuclear missiles in the next eight years. china recently tested a hypersonic weapon capable of use around the world. these are pressing challenges, madam president, challenges like we haven't seen since the cold war. this administration has been caught flatfooted. at the white house, utter incompetence. at the pentagon, complete mismanagement. at the state department, global weakness. no one has been fired. to one has been held accountable over the withdrawal infrastructure afghanistan. no one has resigned. there has been no accountability. it's astonishing but the president must still believe in
his statement where he said it was an extraordinary success. he may be the only one in america who believes that. our enemies are getting stronger, and the democrats are asleep at the switch. the pentagon press secretary was asked last week which is the bigger threat -- which is the bigger threat -- china or climate change. his response? they are equally important. this is the pentagon press secretary. this isn't somebody at the e.p.a. this is somebody responsible for the defense of this nation. this is not just false. it is absurd. it is absurd for this to be the policy of this administration. defense secretary lloyd austin is focused on fighting so-called disdidn't ideologies in our military. the chairman of the joint chiefs
of staff testifies in congress that he supports servicemembers studying critical race theory. our enemies are not following that path. oh, no ... they are focused on winning wars. the biden administration seems to be focused on liberal fantasies. i believe it's about to get a lot worse. that's because president biden's vaccine mandate will likely cause the discharge of thousands of servicemembers, certainly a concern of mine with our national guard in wyoming as it is with troops around the country and around the world representing and defending our nation. recruitment was difficult already. our troops are feeling the pain of inflation cutting into their paychecks, and now the president seems to be determined to decimate their ranks. i fully support vaccination. i am a doctor. i'm vaccinated. so is my family.
i am pro-vaccine. i am anti-mandate. at a time when our enemies are getting stronger, we don't need to drive the men and women who defend our nation out of the military. now, the senate has still not passed the national defense authorization act. the senate went independence day, memorial day, veterans day -- no action on the defense bill. the majority leader now says that the senate will finally get around to it. why did take so long? the senate has been debate ising a reckless taxing-and-spending spree blowout the american people did not ask for, do not want, cannot afford. as prices continue to grow and go up and up and up, when the cost of thanksgiving dinner is is going to be the most expensive in the history of our nation. and we here in the senate and
the house, what are we doing? they're debating taxpayer dollars for illegal immigrants instead of taxpayer dollars for american heroes. we've been debating taxpayer dollars for what democrats call tree equity. "the new york times" even wrote about it today. we ought to be debating national security. we should be talking about the u.s. army instead of democrats who have been talking about an army of climate activists and an army of i.r.s. agents. which just honor -- we just honored veterans last thursday. we will give thanks to all of them next thursday on thanksgiving day. it is time for the senate to do right by all of them. i urge my colleagues to focus on a bipartisan national defense
authorization act, the defense bill, for the defense of our nation. it is time we prove to our nation that we do support our troops and would do protect them and all of us against rising threats and keep this great nation safe. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: madam president, day after day here on the floor of the senate and back in their states, many of my colleagues talk to the american people about how deeply concerned they are about the deficit and the national debt. they tell us that we just don't have enough money to expand medicare, to cover dental care for seniors, to cover hearing aids, to cover eyeglasses. we just don't have enough money to do what every other major country on earth does, and that is guaranteed paid family and medical leave. at a time when hundreds of thousands of bright young people are unable to afford a higher education and millions are struggling with student debt, my colleagues tell us that we just don't have enough money to provide two years of free
tuition at community colleges. when we have over 500,000 americans sleeping out on the streets, including a few blocks away from the nation's capitol, we just don't have enough money to build a low-income and affordable housing this country needs. and at a time when the scientists are telling us that we face an existential threat in terms of climate change, we are told that we just don't have enough money to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and create a planet that will be healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations. just don't have enough money. yet today the u.s. senate will begin consideration of an annual defense budget that costs $778
billion. $778 billion for one year, and that is $37 billion more than president trump's last p defense budget and $25 billion more than what president biden requested. and, by the way, all of this money is going to an agency, the department of defense, that continues to have massive cost overruns year after year, wasting enormous amounts of money, and is the only major governmental agency in the federal government not to successfully complete an independent audit. now isn't it remarkable how even
as we end the longest war in our nation's history, the war in afghanistan, concerns about the deficit and the national debt seem to melt away under the influence of the military industrial complex. people sleeping out on the street, people dying because they don't have any health care, kids unable to get the early childhood education they need. not a problem, can't afford to pay for those things. but somehow when it comes to the defense budget and the needs of the military industrial complex, we just cannot give them enough money. but that is not all, and i want the american people to know this because i suspect many don't. it is very likely that in the defense bill, or attached to
the defense bill there will be a so-called competition bill, and this bill is a $250 billion bill that includes $52 billion in straight corporate welfare with no strings attached for a handful of extremely profitable microchip companies. now, is there a problem in that our country is not producing the kind of microchips and the number of microchips that we should? and the answer is yes. it's an issue that we have to deal with. but we can deal with it in a way other than simply handing money to a number of enormously profitable corporations with no protections for the taxpayer at all. by the way, i should also mention as part of the so-called
competition bill, there is also a $10 billion handout to jeff bezos, one of the wealthiest people in our country, for space exploration. combining these two pieces of legislation would push the price tag of the defense bill to over $1 trillion for one year. and i want people to remember that because when we talk about build back better, you talk about a ten-year bill. this is one year. meanwhile, while there is limited discussion about the defense bill or corporate welfare in the competition bill, congress has spent month after month discussing the build back better act which on an annual basis costs far left than the pentagon budget and discussing
whether or not we can afford to protect the working families of our country whose needs have been ignored decade after decade, who in many cases are living paycheck to paycheck, can't afford housing, can't afford prescription drugs, can't afford to send their kids to college. we can't address their needs. oh, no, no, no, because we're too busy about throwing money at the pentagon and large profitable corporations. madam president, if there was ever a moment in modern american history when we need to fundamentally review our national priorities, now is that moment. whether it is transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels, whether it's guaranteeing paid family and paid medical leave, whether it's providing health care to all of our people
as a human right as virtually every other major country does, whether it is taking on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, which charges us, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, whether it is addressing our crisis of affordable housing or providing child care and pre-k to the little kids, now is the time to assess our priorities, now is the time to fight for real change. but instead of addressing these major issues that impact the lives of working families all across this country and that the working class of this country desperately wants, congress comes together, democrats and republicans, with minimal debate to support an exploding pentagon
budget which is now higher than the next 13 nations combined and represents more than half of our discretionary spending. madam president, after adjusting for inflation, we are now spending more on military than we did during the height of the cold war or during the wars in vietnam or korea, and i would like to reiterate this is after the war in afghanistan has ended. madam president, that is why i have introduced an amendment with senator markey to reduce the military budget by $25 billion down to what president biden requested. let's be clear. this is not a radical idea. it is the military spending proposed by the president of the united states in the amount
requested by the department of defense. and i look forward to support on that amendment, especially from the deficit hawk, who i know are very, very concerned about the deficit. i should also point out that this extraordinary -- extraordinarily high level of military spending comes at a time when the department of defense is the only agency of our federal government that has not been to be able pass an independent audit and when defense contractors are making enormous profits while paying their c.e.o.'s exorbitant compensation packages. and let's not forget that in this so-called competition bill there will be a provision which
provides $53 billion in emergency appropriations for the microchip industry with no strings attached. let me repeat that. we're talking about more than $53 billion in federal funds, and by the way i suspect there will be more taxpayer money coming to these corporations from state and local government with no strings attached. do we need to expand the microchip industry in this country so that we become less dependent on foreign countries? yes, but we can accomplish that goal without throwing money at these companies with no protections for the taxpayer. in total my guess is that five -- one, two, three, four, five major semiconductor companies will likely receive the lion's share of this taxpayer handout. those companies are intel, texas
instrument, micron technology, analogue devices and invidio, these companies made $$35 billion last year combined and spent $18 billion buying back their own stock. and these five corporations combined paid their c.e.o.'s a combined $35 million in combined compensation last year. further, it is important to point out that this is an industry that received nearly $6 billion in government subsidies and loans over the years, and it is an industry that has shut down over 780 manufacturing plants in the united states and eliminated 150,000 american jobs in the last 20 years. 29% of its workforce while
moving most of its producing over -- production overseas. in other words, over the years in order to make more money they decided to outsource their operations, and in the process throw american workers out on the street. so let's be clear what is happening here. in order to make more profits, these companies took good government money and then offshored good american jobs. now for that bad behavior, these same companies are being rewarded with some $53 billion and no springs corporate welfare to undo the damage that they did that may make sense to somebody, not to me. that is why i have introduced senate amendment numbered 4722,
which would prevent microchip companies from receiving taxpayer assistance unless they agree to issue warrants to the federal government. if private companies are going to benefit from over $53 billion in taxpayer subsidies, the financial gains made by these companies must be shared with the american people, not just wealthy shareholders. in other words, all this amendment says is that if these companies want taxpayer assistance, we are not going to socialize all of the risks and privatize all of the profits. and let me be very clear. this is not a radical idea. these exact conditions were imposed on corporations that received taxpayer assistance in the bipartisan cares act, which passed the senate 96-0. in other words, every member of the u.s. senate has already voted for the conditions that
are in my amendment. and cares was not the first time that congress passed warrants and equity stakes. during a financial crisis, congress required all companies taking tarp funds to issue warrants and equity stakes to the federal government. the bottom line is that taxpayers should not just be handing out money to large profitable corporations and well-paid c.e.o.'s. they deserve the benefit as well. in addition to making sure that companies allow for warrants in equity states, this amendment would require that these companies cannot buy back their own stock nor outsource american jobs and remain neutral in every union organizing effort. here's something else. i think people think i'm kidding
he, but i'm -- here, but i'm not. here is something in the so-called competition bill that must be addressed. unbelievably this bill would provide and authorize some $10 billion in taxpayer money to jeff bezos, the second wealthiest person in america, for his space race with elon musk, the wealthiest person in america. this is beyond laughable, and i will be introducing an amendment to strike this provision. frankly, it is not acceptable. it is not an issue that we have discussed terribly much, but it is not acceptable, that the two wealthiest people in this country, mr. musk and mr. bezos take control of our space efforts to return to the moon and maybe even the extraordinary accomplishment of getting to the moon. this is not something for two billionaires to be directing. this is something for the american people to be
determining. let me just say a few words about why there is so much waste and fraud and abuse in the military. and, again, i always find it amazing that when it comes to programs directed to ordinary people, to low-income people, all kinds of investigations and all kinds of language about how we've got to protect the taxpayer from fraud, but when it comes to the massive amount of money we put into the pentagon, not a whole lot of attention to that. and one of the reasons that we have so many overruns -- cost overruns, and one of the reasons that we have so much fraud and to much abuse, is that the pentagon has been unable to pass an independent audit 30 years after congress required it to do so. 30 years. and i think one of the points that needs to be remembered is
that on september 10, 2001, one day before the terrible attack on our country, then-secretary of defense donald rumsfeld said, and i quote, our financial system -- talking about the pentagon -- our financial systems are decades-old we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions, we cannot share information from floor to floor in this building, i.e., the pentagon, because it's stored on systems that is inaccessible or incompatible, end quote. yet, 20 years after that statement -- a rather profound statement by secretary of defense donald rumsfeld, the pentagon has still not passed a clean audit despite the fact that the pentagon controls assets in excess of
$3.1 trillion or roughly 78% of what the entire federal government owns. just this week, the pentagon announced it will fail its fourth consecutive financial audit in a row. and that, madam president, is why i have introduced an amendment with senator grassley that would require the pentagon to pass a clean audit this year. if it fails to do so, 1% of its budget would be returned to the treasury each year until it obtains a clean audit operation. i think 30 years is maybe just enough time to make that demand. i think that at this moment in american history it is appropriate for the american people and for my colleagues here in the senate, to remember what former president -- former republican president dwight d.
eisenhower said in 1953 when he was president, and as we all recall, dwight d. eisenhower was a four-star general, not a politician, who led the allied forces to victory in europe during world war ii. so this was no peace nick. this was a man who saw more death and military battles than probably any human being should have to. this is what eisenhower said and i quote. every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are called and -- cold and are not clothed. this world in arms is not spending money alone. it is spending the sweat of its
labors, the genius of the scientist, the hopes of its children. end of quote. that's like the -- dwight d. eisenhower and that's what he said some 68 years ago. it was true then. it is even more true now. if the horrific coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, a pandemic which has cost us now almost 700,000 lives, it is that national security means more than just building bombs or missiles or jet fighters or tanks or submarines or nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass destruction. national security also means doing everything that we can to protect the lives of ordinary americans, many of whom have been abandoned by their
government for decades. these are people right now who are struggling to put food on the table, people who are now experiencing a lower life expectancy than was the case in the past, and these are people who in many instances when they get sick can't even afford to go to a doctor. madam president, when we analyze the defense department budget, it's important to note that congress has appropriated so much money for the defense department that the pentagon literally doesn't know what to do with it. according to the g.a.o. of the costs of 11 years, the pentagon returned an astonishing $128 billion in excess funds back to the treasury. and over the past two decades, while we funnel out money to the defense contractors, it's important to note that virtually
every major defense contractor in the united states has been fined for misconduct and fraud all while making huge profits. since 1995, boe boeing-lockheed-martin have paid over $300 billion in fines or related settlements for fraud or misconduct. and meanwhile the c.e.o.'s of these large defense companies enjoy incredibly large compensation packages. in fact, on average over a hundred times more than does the secretary of defense. madam president, very also filed an amendment with senator markey and representative roy connor in the house to finally end all
u.s. support for the saudi war effort in yemen. this amendment simply codifies the prohibition on support for the saudi war that has already passed both houses of congress in 2019 in a bipartisan way. at that time and in 2019 various officials now in the biden-harris administration signed a letter supporting this measure. the house already passed this amendment for the third consecutive year. it is long overdue for this provision to be included in the final defense policy bill that is sent to the president's desk. in addition to yemen, i have long-standing concerns about the situation in gaza and that's why i've introduced an amendment to request the series of reports on the humanitarian crisis in gaza and on steps that the united states can take to ease that crisis and bring desperately needed humanitarian and reconstruction aid to the palestinian people in gaza.
i would also point out that when i talk about health care, i talk about dental care and i think most health care experts understand that dental care is part of health care. and in my home state of vermont, veterans who are eligible for dental care at the v.a. have no access to a v.a. dental facility and that is why i have introduced an amendment to the ndaa to require that the department of veterans affairs to obtain a dental clinic in every state of this country so that all veterans have access to the dental care that they need. madam president, i believe in a strong military but i do not believe that we can keep throwing more money into the pentagon than it needs at a time when working families all across
this country are struggling to put food on the table for their kids and when 140 million americans can't afford the basic necessities of life without going into debt. in 1967, dr. martin luther king, jr. warned us, and i quote, a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. end quote. dr. king was right. that was true in 1967. it is true today. let me just conclude, madam president, with another quote from one of the great republican presidents in american history. that is dwight d. eisenhower. this is what he said as he was leaving office back in 1961.
he said, and i quote, in the counsels of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence whether sought or unsought by the military industrial complex. the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. end of quote. that's dwight eisenhower. and what he was talking about is the incredible power then of the military industrial complex, the revolving door where people go from the military into defense companies. it was true then. it is truer now. and that truth is manifested in the fact that we have a bill which is now spending $25 billion more than the president of the united states requested. madam president, with that i would yield the floor.
mr. scott: madam president. the presiding officer: the junior senator from florida. mr. scott: madam president, as empty shelves grow more and more common, prices are surging higher and small businesses can't access the goods they need to serve their customers. joe biden's inflation crisis are devastating for so many americans. but families on low and fixed incomes that are hurt the most. just last week we saw the new c.p.i. inflation data come out. rates are the highest they've
been in more than 30 years. every month when i see the new inflation numbers come out and they're always worse than the month before, i think about my mom. growing up i watched my mom struggle to put food on the table and make ends meet for our family. countless families across america are dealing with the same struggle today all because of joe biden's reckless socialist policies like his unconstitutional vaccine mandates. these policies are fueling inflation and the current supply chain crisis but biden's administration does absolutely nothing to fix it. through my years in business and eight years as governor of florida, i learned when you're trying to solve a problem, the best place to start is by bringing people together. when hurricanes devastated florida, we had to deal with restoring power and communication services and getting resources where they were needed most. we brought people together and got to work solving problems. you don't see any of that with this administration. just look at inflation. i've been talking about inflation nonstop all year. and it's getting worse and worse
and worse. biden has totally ignored it. his administration attacks people like larry summers and me. larry summers is an obama appointee would learned early on that inflation would fuel a crisis. we see the same thing with biden's supply chain crisis. i've called on the commerce secretary and secretary buttigieg to come before the commerce committee and testify about what they're doing to resolve this problem. they haven't shown up. we haven't had a single hearing on this crisis in the commerce committee. i've seen them on tv dismissing the severity of the problem and i was suppliesed to see secretary buttigieg had time to attend a bill signing but still hasn't gotten to california to work on the massive supply chain issues that are stranding dozens of ships off the california coast. unlike the biden administration i'm not going to sit around and play tv commentator. families deserve more than that. i've partnered with my friend
and colleague congressman carlos menendez to get products flowing to american families and businesses again. our legislation is simple and common sense. congress passed the cures act to help our economy survive the effects of covid and the economic lockdowns. we know that much of that money remains unspent and could be used for far more important purposes. we also know that there are dozens of ships waiting to dock and be unloaded at california ports right now. so our bill would redirect $125 million of unspent, unobligated cures act funds to help pay for the cost of moving cargo ships waiting to dock on the west coast through the pang makan natural -- panama canal and they can dock along the east coast like the state of florida. this bill does nothing to mandate ships are redirected to the east coast. it simply provides an option and the funding to offset some of the cost. the bill would also allow governors to use their unspent and obligated cures act funds to
offset port fees and other expenses. it's a pretty simple idea using the money to help with economic recovery to actually help with economic recovery. just last week as the port of palm beach meeting with port and business leaders who are seeing the delays and effects firsthand. their businesses are hurting. they're left waiting for weeks and months on resources they need to run their businesses and serve their customers. we need a solution and florida is ready and able to help with this crisis. with the holidays getting closer and closer, we can't waste any more time. i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of senate 3224 which is at the desk. i ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and the motion be reconsidered and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: any objection? a senator: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the junior senator from washington. ms. cantwell: madam president, i know my colleague -- well, i can assume my colleague is sincere
about his interest in doing something about our issues of port congestion and supply chain issues, but i disagree with his approach here today. i personally worked very hard on increasing the amount of investment in port infrastructure that was in the bill just signed by the president on monday that helps increase port capacity around the united states. why? because we've seen even in a pandemic an increase in trade and port activities. so, yes, we have to invest in our infrastructure. and i take disagreement to my colleague's characterization that the president hasn't done anything because the president has helped at la long -- l.a. long beach at reducing the congestion. he has put in place a better covid response process which my
colleagues need to understand long shoremen died in the covid pandemic delivering goods and products to us in the united states of america. they died. and so getting a better response in vaccination for people working on our docks is incredibly important. so the president has done something. he's got a better covid response. he's basically helped at reducing congestion and he's got a plan to invest in our ports all over the united states of america. so i know my colleague wishes that it would be so simple, but these shipping companies are reporting more than $200 billion in profit. $200 billion in profit, even during the pandemic. so they're not lacking for money. and if they wanted to go to those ports, they would go to those ports. so we heard from one of the big
shipping associations that going anywhere just to say that you want to go there when there are logistical and cost reasons that don't likely bear out, eventually the customer really just wants to go where the customer wants to go. that is why it's so important to invest in our ports. that is why we led the charm for $2.25 million investment. why? because 95% of consumers live outside of the united states. and if we want to be involved in the trade economy, we should invest in our infrastructure to get product to and from our citizens to other citizens of the world. the 95% that live outside of the united states. so i don't think giving shippers who are having a record-breaking
profit year more money is going to make them to go to other ports. so i do hope that we continue to look at ways to catch up from the pack the fact that production in many areas of our economy were off. no more bigger example than the 8% reduction in oil from opec in 20. talk about something we need to address, my colleagues and i sent a letter to president trump on high oil prices in 2018, and we recommended these various things that the president should do -- leverage a relationship with the saudi crown prince to urge them to increase capacity in world oil supplies, make sure the energy secretary is communicating that with all -- with vienna and opec nations, initiate world trade disputes
regarding countries' anticompetitive practices, work p our european allies and china that last year -- make sure that they are working on this issue. director the f.t.c. we just had a hearing this morning asking the f.t.c. if we do see any kind of manipulation or moving of suppliers please investigate it. and in this case we said, abandon your administration, the trump administration's roll back of fuel economy standards, because guess what americans want? they want more fuel-efficient cars. and that also is what we just legislated. that is why we need to keep working on this issue because as long as we're in a world oil market and as long as we're under these pressures of opec, we are never going to win the day. the best way to win the day is to get an economy that is less dependent on those economies being impacted by opec. now, i may shock some people
here this afternoon, but i am for getting rid of the trump 301 tariffs. these have cost us enormous cost in the pacific northwest. higher seafood cost, higher equipment costs, higher cost on agricultural products, higher cost on aerospace. so we've had the two dilemmas of a covid pandemic taking a workforce out of production, literally -- i don't know if my colleague supported the aid to the airline industry or not, but when we basically hit covid, it ended up costing over 15,000 jobs in the aerospace sector in my state. gone, gone, gone. so not here today. so if you imagine, if that happened with airline production, why? because what airline was going to buy a new plane?
it wasn't going to happen. people are saying now they don't think it's going to happen until 2023 or 2024 even though there are announcements happening now. in general, people don't think the airline sec fer is is going to recover to -- sector is going to recover to where it was for several years. so just imagine every other sector that did the same thing, that reduced their workforce in response to covid and now we're seeing the impacts of that. so what do we do? let's be smart about each of these cost areas and figure out what we can do to reduce those costs. so giving $125 million to basically the shipping companies of the world who basically have made record profits -- one company said that was the biggest profit last year that they've made in 117 years. okay, so they don't need more money to just go from l.a. long beach to miami.
but since i want the senator from florida to know, i actually believe in his port economy. i don't know what's going to happen to the port economies of the world. i don't know if we're going to switch dynamics. we've supported freight investment because freight can't wait. if you don't have good freight movement, you're going to lose to some other country. so we supported that. in fact, i see my colleague from maryland here, the director of the port of baltimore came and became the director of the port of seattle. i said, do you think if we invest in freight and moving freight somehow we might lose to the west coast and other places? he said, the buy is just going to continue to grow. everybody will lose if we don't increase more efficiencies. that is the objective, increase more efficiencies at every port. i know the presiding officer
from the great lakes wants to do the same thing, increase the capacity and efficiency of the great lakes. let's get an ice break area. let's invest in port infrastructure. led the charge? why? because i know that the president presiding today knows that the competitiveness of your state and wisconsin depends on manufacturers getting those products made and outside your state and on to a world market. that is what is going to help us with our economy and reducing price is to get production up and to get product moving efficiently. so if my colleague -- and i sincerely offer this -- wants to help me, because i guarantee you not everybody on my side is going to call for this. but i'm definitely for calling for a repeal of the 301 trump tariffs. i didn't approve them when he did it the first time because these kind of punitive tariffs just basically exacerbated the
problem with retaliatory tariffs. and those retaliatory tariffs are costing us right now. so i know that secretary yellen is looking at this. i know ustr is looking at this and i would just encourage the president to look at this. and i would encourage the president to do everything he can to work with our nation countries to put pressure on opec, just as would did before, to try to address this issue on price. but let's work not on reducing the cost to shipping companies that don't need anything because they have seen record profits, unless -- and let us instead invest in our ports and our ports economy. so, madam president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. scott: madam president? the presiding officer: the junior senator from florida. mr. scott: i appreciate my colleague and am glad to serve on the committee with her. just remember what we're talking here is the supply chain problem. let's not ignore a very
important fact. that committee has not held a single hearing on this crisis. i've been calling for secretary buttigieg on biden's supply chain crisis for weeks and haven't seen one by bit of actin taken to make that happen a american families can't wait any longer. biden's supply chain comprise is hurting american families everywhere right now. the president's failed policies and unconstitutional vaccine mandates are crippling our supply chain and fueling his inflation crisis. restoring our supply chain is critical toest going the american economy rolling -- to getting the american economy rolling again. we need solutions. i feel sorry that my democratic colleagues have to cover for the president's failures instead of helping the american people. passing this bill today would have given us the opportunity to provide some needed relief and help lower costs for american families who are worried about whether they will be able to afford thanksgiving dinner.
we need solutions now and today's a inaction is a perfect example why the american people don't trust washington to get anything done. i yield the floor. mr. cardin: madam president? the presiding officer: officer the senior senator from maryland. mr. cardin: thank you, madam president. earlier this afternoon i convened a meeting of the small business and entrepreneurship committee as its chairman. we had noted an agenda to work on the nomination nation of deputy administrator of the small business administration. this was not our first attempt and i am going to outline all the efforts that we've made to get a vote on my syed. but to my disappointment, the democrats were there ready to vote on the nomination. we also had two important pieces of legislation that we were scheduled to vote on and every republican refused to show up
denying us a quorum to be able to conduct business. so let me share with my colleagues the state of play on this individual and on this nomination. president biden nominated dell war syed to be the deputy administrator of the small business administration on march 3. he is well qualified entrepreneur and a small business advocate. after reviewing his paperwork and ethics agreement, the committee held a hearing on mr. syed's nomination on april 21. during that hearing, ranking member paul raised serious concerns about p.p.p. and economic injury disaster loan -- eidl loans received by a tech company from which mr. syed serves as the c.e.o. after weeks of negotiations, i
brokered a compromise between the ranking member paul and the s.b.a. that provided access to the company's loan applications. on june 8, i personally sat down with rank member paul and a representative of the small because administration outside of the senate chamber to review those documents and ensure that the loans were properly retained, which they clearly were. the following day the documents were made available to all of the committee members on the small business committee. now, what that record showed that those loans were taken out in regular order, that they were entitled to the p.p.p. loan and the eidl loan, but it also showed something that was quite remarkable. mr. syed returned the p.p.p. loan without forgiveness. he was entitled to forgiveness, but as he said, he was able to get access to additional capital and didn't need the government help.
and he thought it was the right thing to return the loan without forgiveness. what exemplary action. satisfied that we had resolved the issue, senator paul agreed to my request that the committee schedule a vote to report out the nominee on june 16. after achieving a quorum with senators, i moved to report the nomination by voice vote, as requested, a common practice in the senate. a few republican members asked to be recorded as voting no, which is also a common practice in the senate. however, we were later informed by the senate parliamentarian that the nomination could not be reported to the full senate because a republican staff member raised an action that there had not been a roll call vote in our committee. a new objection was then raised based on mr. syedst involvement in mgage, a
nonprofit organization that supports the muslim american community. one republican office circulated an e-mail that focused on mr. syed's muslim religion and place of birth. two weeks after the meeting, on june 30, i received from eight republican members suggesting that mr. syed's involvement in the organization was evidence of an israel bayias and support for sanction movement, the bds movement. this is after our first committee vote. now, mr. syed had a relationship with this company and this company had no record of this type of bias, and mr. syed responded to these concerns in a letter that he stated he is, quote, a proud first-generation muslim american but also pro-israel. he clearly stated that he does not support the b.d.s. movement
and believes israel to be a major partner in a n. supporting america's innovative small businesses. several jewish organizations have come to mr. syed's defense. for example, the american jewish committee wrote, the unsupported accusations that somehow jewish businesses or those with ties to israel may not fare well under mr. syed's leadership has no factual grounding. he has specifically disavowed support for the b.d.s. movement. a.j.c. rejected the charge that simply an affiliation with mgage would reflect negatively on an individual organization or agency. and they went even further and called the republican accusations against mr. syed un-american. on thursday, july 15, the committee again attempted to hold a business meeting to report out the nomination. we thought we had resolved all
the issues. we resolved the issues concerning the loans. everybody agreed they were proper. there was no concern about mr. syed's views in regards to israel. that had been resolved. so, mr. president, i was puzzled that on july 15 meeting, all ten republican members boycotted the meeting and reporting quorum was not achieved. we couldn't take action. i couldn't understand why because we had resolved the two issues, the first issue and then changed to a second issue. but it was not until a week later the committee republicans changed course again. and developed a new line of attack, this time linking the nomination to p.p.p. loans received by entities of planned parenthood. on july 22, all ten committee republicans released the following statement.
the saab has on os.a.b. has wrongly approved a hundred million in paycheck protection program loans to planned parenthood across the country. they approved four p.p.p. loans to planned parenthood affiliates despite a determination from the last administration that these entities were ineligible for the program. we will not allow a vote on this nominee until the s.a.b. takes action to recover the wrongfully acquired p.p.p. funds by the planned parenthood entities. now, mr. president, i'm going to go through in detail as to how these loans were not improperly given, that the ground rules we set up were followed by the planned parenthood and other nonprofits of similar type of organization, and where they came up with this line is still somewhat of a puzzlement to me since my republican colleagues were engaged with us in developing the p.p.p. program and the eligibilities for the p.p.p. program.
since that date i've tried several times to hold business meetings to report out the nomination but republicans would not end markups that i attempted to hold on september 21, november 4, and again today. on september 29, i attempted to discharge mr. syed's nomination from the committee by unanimous consent. that's after our voice vote that had already approved his nomination but ranking member paul objected to my request on the senate floor. the planned parenthood issue predates the syed nomination and even the biden administration. it goes back to march of 2020. when this committee took the lead, the small business committee took the lead in drafting the bipartisan cares act, i was proud to be part of a team that includes senator shaheen, senator rubio, senator collins. we sat down and went line by line drafting the p.p.p. legislation that we're talking about. we negotiated back and forth in
good faith on the provisions of this bill. it was truly a bipartisan ef effort. republicans controlled the senate. we worked with republicans. and we came up with a bipartisan bill to help america's small businesses. that legislation made 501( 501(c)(3)'s, nonprofits, and veteran nonprofit organizations with up to 500 employees eligible for the p.p.p. loans. this was a mutual decision. we knew it had some controversy associated with it. that are faith-base groups that people have concern about getting government support. there are different organizations that people might have concern. but we felt that during this pandemic, it was important to preserve our small business entities whether they were for profit or nonprofit. that was a bipartisan decision that was made by democrats and republicans. during the negotiations of march 2020, then chairman rubio add
language to an early draft that would have prohibited nonprofit entities that receive medicaid assistance from getting p.p.p. loans. this was presumably an effort to deny planned parenthood the opportunity to participate in the program. but because of the way it was drafted, it also affected a lot of nonprofits. it affected programs such as domestic abuse centers or homes for the disabled and it was resoundingly rejected in our group as not being a workable restriction, that we could not support that type of prohibition. so we negotiated back and forth. and we could not resolve the issue. and eventually this issue along with other issues that we couldn't resolve was taken up to the leadership, the joint leadership of the senate, republicans and democrats, who were trying to resolve issues that we couldn't resolve in our
committee deliberations. and it was at that level a compromise was reached to add language that applied the s.a.b. affiliation rules to nonprofits, not the medicaid language but the affiliate rules. we had no objection to that. we felt that nonprofits should be subject to the same restrictions as for-profit entities as far as whether they were truly independent or part of a -- just a national group. was there -- whether there was control on the affiliate. we thought that made sense. in april of 2020, the s.b.a. under the trump administration released guidance on applying the affiliation standards to nonprofits which is where we're getting to the determinations made by planned parenthood. the part of the affiliation that applies to nonprofits relates to common management. and i'm going to quote for the record. i have the full statement here of what the affiliate rules were. but let me just read into the
record the relevant section that applies to the controversy -- i don't think it's controversy. the republican controversy on planned parenthood. affiliation arises where the c.e.o. or president of an applicant concern or other officers, managing members or partners who control the management of the concern, also control the management of one or more other concerns, affiliation also arises where a single individual, concern or entity that controls the board of directors or management of one concern also controls the board of directors or management of one or more other concerns. affiliation also rises where a single individual, concern, or entity controls the management of the applicant concern through a management agreement. the question is, does the national group control the personnel and board of the
affiliate? that's what the rules apply. planned parenthood of america determined its entities were eligible because it does not exercise control over its member organizations and does not have a common management. each member organization is its own independent, not-for-profit tax exempt organization with its independent board of directors that's solely responsible for hiring and retention of its c.e.o. planned parenthood of america does not have the power to remove c.e.o.'s or directors from its individual member organizations. now, mr. president, at this type of federated structure is common in a nonprofit world. and it's the reason why nonprofits such as the ymca, boys and girls clubs also qualify and receive p.p.p. loans, forgivable loans. we recognize that they have a
large national structure, but the individual entities are small end tifs and -- entities and are independently managed and controlled. in may of 2020, under the trump administration, 38 planned parenthood entities received correspondence from associate administrator bill manger with a preliminary finding that entities may not be in compliance with the affiliation rules. to my knowledge mr. manger only sent letters to planned parenthood entities, not to any of the other similarly structured entities. i say that because we now learn that there was a list, a hold list of a much larger number of entities that there was concern as to whether they qualified under the affiliation rules. but only planned parenthood received the may 2020 letter, not the other groups that had a similar structure.
the letter that was sent out is titled notice of investigation and request for records. this was sent out in may 2020 to 38 planned parenthood entities. the planned parenthood entities responded to these letters. they contested the finding. every flnders entity that -- planned parenthood entity that received correspondence in 2020 contested its findings. the letter is pretty detailed. and what it spells out. it spells out all the reasons why they comply with the affiliation rules and talks all about it, about all the different reasons why they were qualified to receive their funds. and, mr. president, it ends with this line. this is what the planned parenthood responded to the may 2020 letter. i trust that this response resolves the matter. may 2020. nine months later under the
trump administration, no additional action that we are aware of was taken by the s.b.a. to contest planned parenthood's eligibility for the p.p.p. money. so it was clear that the trump administration decided not to take action. so where are we now? it's also important to note that p.p.p. loans were not used by planned parenthood to provide any health services. we're not talking about providing health services here. the law is very specific as to what the funds can be used for. payroll costs, health care benefits for the employees. paid leave for the employees. allowance for dismiss al or separation. interest or mortgage expenses. rent and utilities. interest on debt prior to february 15, 2020. i was somewhat puzzled by all of
this, but in an attempt to broker another compromise, after dealing with the -- whether the p.p.p. loans or the business entity was proper, whether there was any semblance of concern about his attitude in regards to israel, having satisfied that, i made another effort to try to deal with senator paul and the members of the committee to see what they wanted. mr. syed had nothing to do with these loans. mr. syed is fully qualified. the s.b.a. needs a deputy administrator confirmed to deal with all of the programs that we have passed in the last two years to help small business. they need a confirmed manager to work between us and our constituents to make sure these programs are working effectivity. -- working effectively. so what else could i provide? yesterday i invited all of the republican members to come to my office, come to the small business office, and we would
make available ought the information s.b.a. has in regards to these planned parenthood loans. we're not -- they'll make it available, all the loans that were given out, when they were given out, what was forgiven, what was not forgiven, second-round p.p.p. loaps, all of that -- loans, all of that. i don't know what else we can do. not one showed up to review the information. i can appreciate the fact that this issue may make republicans who oppose planned parenthood politically uncomfortable. i can understand that. but democrats also disagree with views of many organizations that received p.p.p. loans. last december 14 organizations designated as hate groups by the southern poverty law center or the antidefamation league received p.p.p. loans. these are legal entities that qualify for the program because
we can't draft it based upon the mission of a particular organization. we have to draft it in a way that those that are legitimate businesses can -- and operations can qualify for the loans. and we did that. we don't judge who we're giving the money to, whether we like what they're doing or not. that's not would this is about. and as i said in the committee a little earlier today, it's important for the small business committee to get back to its bipartisan tradition. i hope my republican colleagues will accept the information that we have made available, work with us. let's get mr. syed confirmed. let's get him confirmed because he's the right person for this position at this time. s.b.a. desperately needs a confirmed deputy administrator with all the work that we put on them and all the help. our small business community needs to have an accountable
confirmed deputy administrator so they have an accountable person that can work with us to make sure our programs are not only administered properly but we get the information to modify these programs to make them work moving forward. we're already in the process of considering additional legislation. it's so important to have a confirmed deputy administrator and mr. syed's experience in order to help us with that. administrator guzman is doing a fantastic job. she's one person. she needs a deputy. it's time that we get this person confirmed. there has not been an articulated reason why this person should not be confirmed. and, mr. president, i know we've had this debate on nominations that are here on the floor. we're wondering why people vote against them. i can't even get a vote in our committee on this because republicans won't show up for a vote. i think the respect for the system, it's important that the small business committee have an opportunity to vote on mr. syed's nomination which i
hope then will be on the floor promptly for confirms. -- for confirmation. with that, mr. president, i will suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. mr. cardin: i withdraw that for one second. i'll -- i see that senator lee seems to be on the floor. i'll just -- i yield the floor. mr. lee: mr. president, yesterday i came to the senate floor and spoke on president biden's vaccine mandate. i explained that i've now come to this chamber a total of 16 times and offered 12 different
bills that would counteract, limit, or in one way or another restrain the vaccine mandate. i also explained that unfortunately each of these bills has been rejected by democrats in the senate. i've spoken to utahans and folks from across the country who have expressed to me their frustration at moving goalposts and changing expectations in the middle of the pandemic. president biden's vaccine mandate, which has been halted now by the u.s. court of appeals for the fifth circuit, happens to be among the latest attempts to force americans to make health decisions under the threat not just of unemployment but also under the threat of becoming unemployable. that's a taxing burden,
mr. president, for anyone to bear. anyone who's got kids at home or if they don't have kids at home, if they're just supporting themselves, these days all persons are helping someone or something that they love, that they care about, and they ought to have the opportunity to do that. they ought not have their ability to make a living threatened by virtue of a distinct religious belief or a particular medical concern or a particular desire not to receive a particular treatment. and i'll reiterate here what i've said before. i've been vaccinateed. my family has been vaccinate add. i believe that the vaccine is helping countless americans against the dangers of the covid-19 virus. just the same, there's a big difference between believing that the vaccine does good and receiving the vaccine, on the one hand, and on the other hand, saying that anyone who disagrees or thinks that it's not right for them for one reason or
another ought to be fired from their job and rendered unemployable as a result. that's something that very few americans would agree is right. in fact, according to a recent axios poll, only 14% of americans believe that someone who decides not to get the vaccine should be fired as a result of that decision. now, in some lines of work, this sort of thing is already coming into play. for example, our military servicemembers and frontline workers who sacrificed so much to care for and protect the american people during the pandemic are already being forced out of work. i've heard from many members of our armed armed services from uo
are being discharged under less than honorable conditions and under conditions that are in no way, shape, or form appropriate in light of their many, many years of faithful honorable service to this country. they're losing their jobs, and not just their jobs but also their benefits, their dignity, that's their ability to serve further. i've introduced and offered up a bill that would help them but democrats objected to that. on november 4 of this year, just a couple weeks ago, the centers for medicare and medicaid services, known as c.m.s., imposed a requirement that all health care workers at facilities participating in medicare and medicaid be vaccinated by january 4. this requirement, if it takes
effect, will affect millions of americans in tens of thousands of care centers across the nation. and unlike the mandate imposed by osha, which has now mercifully stayed, at least for the pendency of the litigation pending in the u.s. court of appeals for the fifth circuit, this mandate, this particular mandate gives no option for testing if someone has religious, moral, or medical objections to the vaccine. now, let's just think about this on an individual level. there are nurses in this country who worked faithfully and in fact tirelessly throughout the pandemic, without regard to their own circumstances, in some cases without regard to their own health, their own sanity, putting their lives at risk at times. they've gone to work caring for
others during a pandemic, and they've saved lives in the process. they accepted the risk, and they were rightfully heralded as heroes for doing that. they still are heroes, and they still should be herald as heroes. but many of these same nurses caught covid at work and have recovered. they are in fact heroes. but now the biden administration is giving them an extraordinary -- and i would add extraordinarily cruel -- ultimatum. one that i don't think i've ever seen in government, one that i didn't think i would ever expect to see in government. those very same doctors and nurses and other health care workers, the same people who we just appropriately described as heroes, can either get a medical procedure they don't want or
lose their current employment and any future realistic prospect of employment. let that sink in for a minute. what if this were you? what if this were your spouse, your child, someone you loved? what if this were your friend or neighbor? the truth is, these people fit into all those categories. they're not our enemies. they're our friends, family, loved ones, at a minimum, people who served valiantly during a pandemic and they should not be punished. they should be thanked. these heroes will be thanked for their service with a pink slip and a boot out the door as they become outcasts in the very profession that they've selflessly chosen, in the very profession for which they've spent a lot of money and a lot of time receiving training and the very profession to which
they've dedicated their lives. what a tragedy. what a needless, senseless tragedy. these, mr. president, are not abstract anecdotes. this isn't just hypothetical speculation. no, not at all. i've heard from hundreds of utahans who risked losing their employment if these vaccine mandates take effect. everyday americans. they're good americans. they're valiant americans. often the times they're struggling to make ends meet and to feed their families. they're our neighbors, our friends, our caretakers, our heroes. they deserve the respect that is necessarily implicit in the ability to make decisions for themselves, including these decisions for themselves. additionally, it's, as a
practical matter, just extremely foolish to be pushing health care professionals out of their jobs at the precise moment when our health care system is under such incredible strain. hospitals are understaffed as it is. i mean, a lot of places are understaffed. hospitals are particularly understaffed. even without this mandate. so requiring medical facilities to fire perfectly good nurses and doctors and technicians is only going to further strain our system and place more americans at risk of serious harm. so today i'm offering my 13th bill in the effort to curb the vaccine mandates. my respecting our frontline workers act would simply prohibit any federal agency from requiring that staff and health care facilities be vaccinated
against covid-19 as a condition of that facility being able to permit in medicare, medicaid, and chip. but this bill would provide certainty to our nation's health care heroes and honor the sacrifices that they've made to help americans in need at a time when we were as a country facing great need. it will keep our health care system strong during what is still a really difficult time. this bill is the reasonable, compassionate answer to the current situation, and i encourage my colleagues to support it. to that end, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. 3225, which is at the-esque -- desk. i ask that the bill be read a third time and passed and that
the the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. wyden: reserving the right to object -- the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president and colleagues, sadly, this is the third time i've had to come to the senate floor to object to republican proposals dealing with far-fetched claims about vaccines. and today i'm struck by one issue in particular because my background is working with senior citizens. i was the director of the gray panthers at home for almost seven years. i ran the legal aid office for the elderly. i went into public service, mr. president and colleagues, because of my passion for the cause of the elderly and trying to protect their well-being and keeping them safe.
it is almost as if this unanimous consent request ignores the extraordinary human toll covid-19 took on senior citizens in nursing homes across the country. nearly 200,000 dead in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities since the beginning of the pandemic. mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. that's roughly one in ten residents in those nursing facilities. according to an analysis of state and federal data by the covid tracking project. how many of those senior citizens died alone without being able to spend their final hours or days with their loved
ones? how many others, those fortunate enough to survive the pandemic, were still separated from their family members for months and months and months in 2020? we also know that the risks to nurses and doctors and e.m.t.'s were massive as well. one major investigation found that more than 3,600 health care workers died of covid in the first year of the pandemic. the worst pandemic in a century that our country is still wrestling with as we speak. nobody in this chamber should forget that just over the last week there have been more than 1,000 covid deaths per day, and in nigh view it doesn't do -- and in my view it doesn't do any good to unnecessarily suppress
access to highly effective vaccines while there is a deadly vaccine circulate understand and mew debating -- and mutating around the country and around the world. seniors who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are safer when the people around them get vaccinated. and i just hope that our colleagues will recognize the importance of that basic proposition. when americans are vaccinated, they and the people around them, based overwhelmingly on the factual evidence, are less likely to die of covid-19. and everybody ought to be interested in stopping this virus with these overwhelmingly effective vaccines. it shouldn't take a requirement
to get health care workers to protect themselves and their patients. and as i close, i think -- and again i'm sad to have to come to the floor and get into this issue. but because of my background working with senior citizens, i think it is bad for senior citizens, bad for the elderly to continue these frightening remarks about vaccines and vaccination policies. they prolong the pandemic. they have led to more infections and death. with respect to the proposal that's before the senate, i simply don't believe senators should oppose policies that would keep america's elderly
citizens safer after the pandemic has cost so many lives of america's senior citizens. therefore, i object. mr. lee: mr. president. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, i appreciate the thoughtful remarks from my friend and colleague, the distinguished senator from the state of washington. from the state of oregon. ?oam oregon and i -- the senator from oregon and i have spent a number of time working on issues together. he and i agree on a number of issues, and have worked together to ensure the privacy of the american people and make sure that they're protected from an overreaching government, one that sometimes has intruded on them in violation of the letter of the spirit, if not also the letter of the fourth amendment. i remember when i first came to the senate, the senator from oregon took me to lunch.
we had a good chat. he introduced me to a lot of concepts in the senate and has always been a good friend to me. i feel the need to respond to some of these issues. yeah, i too, like my friend and colleague, the distinguished senator from oregon, wish that we didn't have to come to the floor to discuss these things. i wish that it weren't necessary because i wish that we weren't even talking about firing people, about people losing their jobs, becoming unemployed and possible unemployable as a result of a federal policy that refuses to allow people to make decisions on their own. insofar as my friend, the senator from oregon, describes
the policy of firing people who refuse to get the vaccine as necessary to protect the elderly, i would respectfully submit that quite the opposite is true. we're actually imperilling those who might need medical treatment the most, including the sick and the elderly insofar as we destabilize our health care workforce, which, make no mistake, this vaccine mandate does. it does that unquestionably. and remember that the c.m.s. mandate that we're talking about, unlike the osha mandate, doesn't give any option to allow for testing. for example, if someone has a religious or a moral or a
medical objection to the mandate. and so what this really is going to do, it's going to take a lot of people out of health care workforce and sideline them. yes, this is going to be devastating to those individuals. you're suddenly taking away their means of providing for their needs and those of their family, absolutely devastating to them. as i mentioned a minute ago, this is also a field in which they have invested a lot of time and money, sweat, blood, and tears, into getting the education and certifications necessary to work in a field that has a lot of requirements attached to it, with good reason. it's not good for anyone, least of all, the elderly, to destabilize that same workforce.
and so insofar as we're going to talk about what's better for the health care system, i just would respectfully reach the exact opposite conclusion of that proposed by my friend from oregon. this just isn't going to make things better. it's going to make things worse. my friend from oregon also described this approach, the approach that i'm taking of protecting the individual health care workers' right to make an appropriate decision and without government interference, described that, and as i understood it my other efforts to try to curb the more egregious impacts of the vaccine mandates imposed by the biden administration is somehow unnecessarily suppressing access to the vaccine. i want to make very clear that
just is not accurate. i would state that as not at all consistent with what i'm doing. not a single one of my proposals would suppress access to the vaccine. and each time i've come to the floor and talked about these things, i've made very clear i've been vaccinated. every member of my family has been vaccinated. i've encouraged everyone i know to get the vaccine. the vaccine really is a medical miracle of sorts, and it's one that's protecting a lot of people. not everyone agrees with me, but the fact that they don't agree with me, the fact that they don't agree with president biden or anyone else in government doesn't mean they should lose their job for it. but it sure as heck doesn't mean that firing them because they won't get the vaccine and then
opposing the effort to force their firing would somehow amount to an act of suppressing access to the vaccine. that is a logical syllogism that just doesn't work. in no way, shape, or form would we be suppressing access to the vaccine if we liberated the american people from an overreaching executive who's insisting that people be fired if they don't agree with the president's officially sanctioned view on vaccines. my friend also noted that people are safer when they get vaccinated, and i believe this is generally true. i don't think it's going to encourage more people to get
vaccinated by telling them that they're going to get fired if they don't. particularly with the subject matter we're covering today where we're talking about the c.m.s. end of the vaccine. these are people who work in health care. these are people who are highly educated, who have professional certifications, in many cases graduate degrees in health care. they can make their own informed decision as to what to do. i tend to believe that people are generally safer when they get vaccinated, but that doesn't mean that firing them is the right thing to do. my friend from oregon -- and i don't use that term loosely, he and i talk regularly. he was in my office earlier today and we were talking about an upcoming game between the university of utah and oregon.
when he refers to frightening remarks regarding the vaccine, i'm not sure what he's referring to. i hope he's not referring to remarks debating the merits or lack there have of vaccine mandates, nothing about these racks that should -- about these remarks that should strike anyone as frightening. what i think would be frightening would be if tens if not hundreds of millions of americans are threatened with getting fired based on their refusal to get the vaccine. i don't think we'll ever reach a point where there are that many people who decide not to get vaccinated. it's certainly not going to be hundreds of millions of people declining to be vaccinated. but whatever the number is, it still doesn't make it right for the president of the united states to just decide arbitrarily that they either have to follow his medical advice and that of his
administration or get fired. choose between getting an undesired medical procedure or, on the other hand, losing their opportunity to put bread on the table for their children. it's not constitutional. it's not within congress' power. congress hasn't exerted that power, hasn't given that power to the president of the united states. regardless of those statutory and constitutional arguments, this is fundamentally morally flawed proposition that says everyone has to get this. and if you disagree, you will get fired. we will render you unemployed and unemployable. this is wrong, and it's especially wrong to do to our health care workers. let's not do this. i urge my friend and colleague from oregon to reconsider. we can do better than this. the american people expect more. they demand better. and we need to listen to them. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president.
the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: i have 14 requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mrs. shaheen: thank you. mr. president, i came to the floor today to discuss what are sadly the harmful impacts of ongoing partisan obstruction in the senate. earlier today at the small business committee, our colleague, senator cardin, who is chair of the senate committee on small business and entrepreneurship, held a business meeting, i think about the fifth one, to try to advance the nomination of mr. dilawar syed to be deputy administrator of the small business administration. as we know, the small business administration is a very important agency, and under the best of circumstances, it does great work. but during this pandemic for the past year, it has become absolutely indispensable as we try to address the continuing
economic impact of covid on our small businesses. and in order for it to operate effectively, in order for us to hold the agency accountable for administering the small business relieve programs that congress has designed and passed, we have an obligation to ensure that the small business administration has a fully functioning and senate-confirmed leadership team. unfortunately, as senator cardin, chairman cardin, and others witnessed just a few hours ago, republicans again on the small business committee, all of the republicans on the small business committee have orchestrated a complete blockade of mr. syed's nomination, preventing it from even coming to the floor of the senate for debate and consideration. and what's so confusing, mr. president, is that there doesn't seem to be a reason to
the republicans' objections to mr. syed. it keeps changing. and no one has raised any questions about mr. syed's competence, his experience or his suitability to serve as deputy s.b.a. administrator. in fact, several months ago we tried to advance the nominee in our first effort in a business meeting, by a voice vote, and several of the republican members of the small business committee who are now participating in this obstruction voted yes at that time, including the ranking member. now it appears that this boycott is part of a pattern by just a handful of members who simply want to stop any action that would allow the biden administration to have a full complement of senate-confirmed officials at critical federal agencies so they can then carry out their work as directed by congress.
and unfortunately, i would also note that this partisan brinksmanship and obstruction doesn't end with domestic and economic matters. i want to point out again the dangerously slow confirmation process of our state department nominees and ambassadors. again, we have a few members, republican members of the senate who are not just threatening our economic recovery and the health of our small businesses, they're threatening our national security by slowing the process to schedule nomination hearings for qualified nominees and by placing holds on their confirmation because of their own personal political issues. now i appreciate that some of those issues are very important. nord stream 2, i support, but holding these ambassadors, holding these state department officials is not going to change what happens with nord stream 2.
all it's going to do is make the united states less effective and less secure in the world. today only 30 ambassadors have been confirmed by the senate. this administration had to wait over 200 days, 200 days for its first ambassador to be confirmed, compared to only 62 days for the previous administration. for the first 300 days of the previous administration, 55 state department nominees were confirmed by the senate. in the first 300 days of biden's presidency, the senate has confirmed one-quarter of that number. actions speak louder than words. if our colleagues care about our national security, they would match deeds with words and swiftly confirm the 59 state department nominees who are
awaiting confirmation on the senate floor. unfortunately, the holdup is not only on the floor of the senate but also in the foreign relations committee. 11 nominees in committee are awaiting business meetings, and 21 haven't even been able to have a hearing to abdicate for themselves and their qualifications. and what's worse from my perspective, the nominations that are being affected by this obstruction are disproportionately women. and in the foreign service where men still outnumber women and where we are trying to become a more diverse state department, it's critical that we confirm these qualified women. amid increased russian aggression toward our ukrainian allies, it's particularly important that we confirm without delay the nominee to be ambassador to nato, julie smith. how can we advocate for american interests abroad? how can we represent american citizens abroad?
how can we support our economic interests if we don't have people in place who can do that? and when we look at the increasing global threats to the united states, operating with a depleted diplomatic corps jeopardizes our national security. it jeopardizes u.s. interests and the safety of americans at home and abroad. the political games that are being played by a few members of this body are risking very serious consequences, and i see my colleague from ohio who is the cochair of the ukrainian caucus has come in. perhaps he would work with me to try to get julie smith, our ambassador to nato, confirmed so that we have somebody there who can help as we are looking at the crises that are happening in eastern europe. i know we can work together in a rational bipartisan way to address our country's basic needs because we have just seen it. we saw it with the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was just signed this week.
confirming presidential nominees is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of the senate. it's the heart of article 2 in the constitution. what we have seen today is no substantive objection to the nomination of dilawar syed to be deputy s.b.a. administrator or to the nominations to fill numerous critical national foreign policy and security positions. this is obstruction for obstruction's sake, and it has real, very real consequences for our country, for our small businesses, for our national security, and foreign policy. and i hope that we will be able to work together on both sides of the aisle to address those nominees who must be confirmed if we're to represent american interests at home and abroad. again, i want to thank chairman cardin for his hard work as head of the small business committee
and for the work that he has done on the foreign relations committee as we have tried to address those people who need to be confirmed, and obviously he's worked very closely with senator menendez, the chair of the foreign relations committee. and these are two committees that i have the honor of serving on, and they have historically operated in a very bipartisan, very collaborative basis, so that's why it's so disheartening to see the breakdown that's occurring. so i hope our colleagues will have a change of heart, we'll be able to move forward, we'll be able to work together, and i look forward to doing everything i can to make that happen. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, i rise today to pay tribute to drd celebrate her investiture as the 16th president of the ohio state university. dr. johnson brings more than 30 years of experience and leadership in the academic, business, and public policy sector to ohio state, along with some very ambitious goals she has got for the university. although the formal investiture was postponed until this friday, november 19, due to covid, dr. johnson actually assumed the presidency in august of last year, and her leadership has already helped the university community to come together during the past year of the
pandemic. ohio state is in full swing, classes, research, other activities. and they have a darned good football team under her leadership as well, currently number four in the country and on its way up. go bucks. ohio state university was founded in 1870 as a land grant university, the first of its kind in ohio. over the years, the university has grown into one of the largest and best respected institutions in the country. dr. johnson actually has close family ties to ohio state. family lower has it that -- family lore has it that dr. johnson's grandfather who graduated from ohio state in 1896 met dr. johnson's grandmother on the columbus campus. i would like to think those close ties to o.s.u. and deep family roots to ohio have made her a buckeye in spirit all along. she comes to ohio state university after a long academic and business relationship. she previously served as the
chancellor of the state university of new york and has founded and served as c.e.o. of several successful science and technology companies, served as the under secretary of energy, at the department of energy, and held academic leadership positions and institutions -- at institutions such as johns hopkins university, duke university, and the university of colorado at boulder. her breadth of experience from academic leadership, business, and public policy gives her the important tools to successfully lead the ohio state university. i have enjoyed getting to know dr. johnson over the past year and a half, and i have been impressed with how the students have embraced her. it's a great student body. i've seen that firsthand at ohio state having taught four courses at the glenn school of public affairs, now the glenn college of public affairs before being elected to the united states senate. and i'm proud to have been a member of the advisory board of the exciting glenn college for the past 12 years. i believe the students, the faculty, the alumni and the
friends that make up the ohio state university are very fortunate to have dr. johnson at the helm at this time. i wish her the very best as she continues to guide ohio state into the future while focusing on academic excellence and building a strong and passionate community of buckeyes. and i look forward to continuing to work with dr. johnson to ensure her success and the success of the great institution, the ohio state university. i yield back my time. mr. kennedy: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. kennedy: thank you, mr. president.
gosh, mr. president, i wish i didn't have to give this -- give this talk. i think it's a bipartisan observation that unfortunately americans are paying a lot more for just about everything. i asked my staff to put together some inflation numbers. they're just breathtaking. gasoline up 50%. rental cars up 42.9%. you need a used car or a truck, they're up 26%. a turkey, 20.2%.
bacon 20.2%. beef, 20.1%. pork chops, 15.9%. bedroom furniture, 12% higher than last year. eggs, 11.6% up. televisions, up 10%. frozen fruits and vegetables, up 7.5%. chicken, up 8.8%. shoes, up 8%. baby food, up 8%. children's clothes, up 6 -- 7.6%. and i could keep going. unbelievable. now, mr. president, i believe in calling them like i see them. i think most fair-minded americans know that president biden is responsible for this
inflation. you -- you don't have to be einstein's be cousin to figure that -- einstein's cousin to figure that out. but put the politics aside. the shame of all this is that the burden of these price increases are falling on the backs of the american people. and while washington is obsessed with the politics of it, the american people and the people in my state have to bear the cost. a lot of people, mr. president, as you well know, just can't afford to pay 50% more to fill up their gas tanks. they can't afford to go -- to have to stop and go arrange a bank loan to go to the gas station or to the grocery store. and unfortunately for americans in my state and your state and across the country, here with
winter coming on, the cost of heating homes is also going up. just in time for temperatures to fall. so the cost of heating is going up and the temperatures are going down. a lot of families are going to have to shell out up to 30% more for natural gas than they did this past year. ask them if their income went up 30%. as our days grow shorter, the economic landscape unfortunately is getting darker. thanksgiving is just around the corner. it's a cherished american holiday. but even the holiday that americans observe in order to count our blessings is coming with new hardships. according to the "new york times," mr. president,
thanksgiving 2021, and i quote, could be the most expensive meal in the history of the holiday. as i just mentioned pa few seconds -- a few seconds ago, a frozen turkey will set you back 20% more than it did last year. if you like gravy with you turkey, get ready to pay 7% more for your gravy. maybe you don't eat meat. maybe you're a veeg ann, -- vegan, frozen vegetables will cost you 7% more and the high prices only apply only if you -- if you can find them in the supermarket. some you can't even find with google. there's no guarantee that the
cranberry sauce will be in the grocery store. this is america. this is 2021, this isn't the soviet union 30, 40, 50 years ago. my god. washington ought to hide its head in a bag. now, the official general inflation rate is 6.2% higher than it was last october. and that happens to be the largest increase in over 30 years. but we all know, and i can tell you real people in the real world who go to the grocery store and the clothing store and pay their insurance bill and go try and buy an automobile know that it is not 6.2%. it is a lot higher. now, i need to ask a question, though. are you really surprised?
are you really surprised that prices are rising when the biden administration is printing money , when the biden administration is exploding our debt, when the biden administration is forfeiting america's energy independence, when the biden administration is paying people to watch netflix instead of to produce the goods we need, when the biden administration is ignoring gridlock in our supply chain? the american people aren't surprised. for months -- for months the white house has turned gaslighting americans about the inflation crisis into an art form, madam president. white house officials pretend inflation, if you ask them, oh,
it's just temporary. it's just a temporary problem. temporary, a rat's rear end. it's actually a soul crushing, job-killing tax on working americans. that's what inflation is. every time you go to the grocery store, your taxes go up. and inflation hits lower income and middle income families the hardest -- the hardest. and anyone who doesn't believe that should ask secretary kerry whether fuel prices have grounded his private jet. of course not. he's rich. he's got at private jet. doesn't feel it. you know who feels it? the moms and dads in this country who get up every day and go to work and obey the law and
pay their taxes and try to do the right thing by their kids and try to save a little money for retirement, that's who pays this tax that the economists call inflation. and this inflation didn't just appear out of nowhere. i mean, any economist with a pulse knows where this inflation came from. inflation comes from too much money chasing too few goods. and when you have an administration, as we do with the biden administration, that spends money like it was gully dirt, whose mantra is we can't possibly spend enough taxpayer money, there's just not enough hours in the day, of course you're going to have inflation -- of course you're going to have inflation. now, what's president biden
doing about it? well, i've noticed that the biden administration, when it comes to economics, another area, they never make the same mistake twice. they make it five or six times just to be sure. so how is the biden administration going to deal with this economic cancer of inflation which is killing the american people? their idea is let's go -- let's go pass a spending orgy bill, they call it reconciliation, of epic proportions, full of welfare programs when we can't afford the social programs we have now. are you kidding me? are you kidding me? and a white house official claimed earlier this week that
the president's -- he calls it $1.75 trillion bill, it's going to end up, we all know being a lot more than that, he says it will actually reduce inflation. right. and those weren't hogs in the hog line. just wait. the fact is, and unless you were in the -- in the quad playing frisbie during econ101, you know this isn't the truth, the fact is massive government spending has kept workers on the sidelines and has fueled inflation. but the only comfort that permanent washington types are sending to folks gathering around an historically expensive thanksgiving table is that more, not less -- more insane policies
are coming down the pipeline through what the president calls the build back better bill and i think most americans call the build back broker bill. have you looked at the bill? i started reading it. i'm probably going to go broke just reading the thing. now neosocialists love this bill. they love it like the devil loves sin. but the american people aren't going to love it. louisianans aren't going to love it. louisianans love their families and they just want to provide for them, especially at thanksgiving and at christmas, and they can't do it with inflation raging. this thanksgiving, what many americans -- what most americans need the most is relief, not just relief from inflation but
relief from bad leadership. now, i want my friends in the biden white house to know that i am genuinely interested in working with them to solve america's inflation problem. but you're not going to do it by spending more money. you're not going to do it by throwing gasoline on the fire. the first rule is to do no harm -- do no harm, and by that i mean my democratic friends should stop trying to ram this multitrillion-dollar tax-and-spend bill through congress, and they should stop it for two reasons. americans don't want it and americans can't afford it. so this thanksgiving, madam president, and i hope you have a good one, i hope my democratic
friends will give up on tying mill stones around the neck of the american economy. i hope they will give up fueling inflation with another extremist spending orgy bill. and if they would do that -- if they would just do that, americans could sit down to eat next thursday and give thanks that compassion and common sense have finally prevailed in washington, d.c., where, frankly, on most issues common sense is illegal. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, yesterday the secretary of homeland security, mr. mayorkas, testified before the senate
judiciary committee. it's the first time he has been before the judiciary committee for an oversight hearing. of course our minds were all on the crisis that is currently under way and has been since the beginning of this year at the border when our colleague senator lindsey graham, ask him how he would rate his own performance so far, he gave a bizarre answer. he said i'd give myself an a for effort. that's the type of rating you would give yourself if you offered to cook dinner and completely bungled the recipe or if you ordered a really thoughtful christmas gift for your spouse but it didn't arrive on time. give yourself an a for effort. but when you're talking about the person who's responsible for some of our nation's most critical responsibilities for which they are -- which there are life and death consequences,
an a for effort is hardly acceptable. and in this case it's an overly generous assessment. over the last year, customs and border protection has encountered more than 1.7 million migrants along the southern border, the highest on record. in one month alone, more than 213,000 migrants crossed the border, including 19,000 unaccompanied children. the secretary may think he is worthy of an a for effort, but the numbers certainly do not reflect that. and the american people are clearly concerned about the way things are going. a recent poll found that more than 80% of voters think illegal immigration is a serious issue. nearly two-thirds believe that the president's executive orders actually encourage more illegal immigration. and as a result, only 35% of voters approve of the president's handling of the
border. leaders in the administration have tried to play the blame game saying, well, they inherited policies from the previous administration that led to the crisis. that seems to be part of the playbook. let's blame trump. let's blame the previous administration and absolve ourselves of any responsibility. but they simply failed to provide an explanation for why those policies led to 460,000 less encounters in fiscal year 2020. but more than 1.7 million in 2021. there's no question at all that this crisis is a direct result of the biden administration's words and deeds. back in february, just a few weeks after president biden took his oath of office, my grants interviewed in their trek from their home across our border
said as much. one woman who crossed the rio grande river said she and her 1-year-old son only came to the united states because of the biden administration. she said, quote, that gave us the opportunity to come. and the administration has signaled that it's not only okay with the record of illegal immigration, it's actively encouraging more people to make the trek. prior to the biden administration's border crisis, there was a clear and sensible process for migrants who crossed our border to claim asylum. that individual would be processed by the border patrol and undergo a credible fear assessment which is to claim asylum, to determine at least as a preliminary matter, whether they would qualify for asylum. if so that person would be issued a notice to appear at a future court hearing, a critical document that tells asylum
seekers when and where to show up for their day in court. but under secretary mayorkas' leadership, that's not happening anymore. i've heard from many folks in texas about the fact that huge numbers of migrants are now being released without a notice to appear. thousands of migrants have been released with what's now called a notice to report, essentially a document that says when you get where you're going, turn yourself in to your local immigration and customs enforcement office. well, these migrants haven't undergone a credible fear screening, so we have no way of knowing how many of them were likely potentially qualify for asylum. we do know based on decisions from immigration court, only about 10% of the people who claim asylum actually qualify under the prevailing legal standard. because these migrants haven't undergone a preliminary
screening, we have no information about the validity of their asylum claims, and it's unclear whether the administration has given any teeght at all -- any teeght at all to -- any teeth at all that failure to contact the local i.c.e. office may result in your arrest. in other words, there are no consequences for not showing up. the department of homeland security is now telling us they stopped issuing notices to report, but the truth is they've just changed the title. they're stale paroling migrants into the united states without issuing a notice to appear. and when these migrants inevitably fail to turn themselves in to the nearest i.c.e. office, an i.c.e.'s internal figure suggests the compliance rate is unsurprisingly low, it isn't clear the department of homeland security will do anything at all to locate them and remove them from the united states, even though they haven't complied with the process that they've been told they must comply with.
the biden administration has made it even easy whyer for migrants -- easier for migrants to disappear into the great american heartland. several weeks ago secretary mayorkas gave migrants another reason to believe they can make it across our borders and be able to stay. according to secretary mayorkas, illegally entering our country is no longer a reason enough for i.c.e. to begin removal proceedings. the secretary's guidance provided a few exemptions. in theory, illegal border crossers are a priority for enforcement but only if they're apprehended in the united states after unlawfully entering after november 1, 2020. it's unclear what the magic is with that date. but in other words, i.c.e. agents can't touch them unless another law enforcement agency picks them up first. it says individuals convicted of serious criminal conduct who pose a current threat to public safety should be a priority for
removal. but it's unclear what crimes meet those criteria. is distributing or receiving child pornography considered serious criminal conduct? what about crimes like embezzlement, larceny, breaking and entering, sex offenses? it's unclear exactly what the standard is, and i think that's on purpose because clearly secretary mayorkas does not want the border patrol and immigration and customs enforcement to actually enforce the law that congress has written. we're the ones that make the policy, and the border patrol and immigration and customs enforcement simply executes that policy. but clearly secretary mayorkas is trying to confuse things such that no apprehension and detention takes place at all. what if the distribution of child pornography, let's say, happened four years ago? is the perpetrator no longer a priority for apprehension and
removal now that the threat isn't, quote, current? in fact, the secretary explicitly says the threat shouldn't be determined according to bright lines or categories. in other words, he wants to continue to fuzz it up and make it ambiguous. i don't understand why. if you're actually serious about enforcing our laws. is there a reason that any migrant convicted of possessing or distributing child pornography should be allowed to remain in the united states? the secretary indicates that even certain migrants like those who are elderly or provide for their families should be exempt from the law. that clearly is not within the authority of the secretary. to decide against whom the laws should be enforced. does that mean someone who committed a sexual assault 20 years ago but now has a facility that depends on them should be able to remain in the united
states? it defies all common sense to ask our law enforcement officers to turn a blind eye when they encounter individuals who clearly have broken the law. imagine calling the police to report an intruder in your home and being told unless this person is young, childless, and murdered a family member -- a member of your family, we can't do anything or we won't do anything. the reality of the situation, however inconvenient it may seem for our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, is that entering the united states illegally, by doing that migrants have broken the law and there have to be consequences. the secretary cannot consistent with his oath of office refuse to enforce those laws in order to appease his party's political base. in fact by clearly outlining who will and who will not be able to remain in the united states
notwithstanding what the law says, the administration is actually encouraging even more migrants to put themselves in harm's way to come to the united states. this is known as pull factors that actually encourage more illegal immigration. under this guidance, visa overstays aren't a priority for enforcement at all. if someone comes in on a visa but overstays that visa, they are illegally present in the united states, but they don't have to worry about the biden administration actually enforcing the law and removing them. in other words, the guidance is an open invitation for migrants to disregard the terms of their entry into the united states. when president's nominee -- biden's nominee focus toms and border -- for customs and border protection testified before the senate finance committee, i asked the police chief from arizona if he agreed that the biden administration's policy of
nonenforcement is a pull factor encouraging more illegal immigration. he admitted that, yes, it is. so yesterday i asked secretary mayorkas the same question. does this guidance of nonenforcement send a signal to criminal organizations, human smugglers, and migrants that if they illegally enter the united states and commit no other crimes, that they can stay? he said no, that's a hundred percent false. but i disagree with secretary mayorkas. he's clearly not telling the truth. there's a clear correlation between the biden administration's reckless policies and the record level of illegal migration. any administration, of course, has a certain amount of discretion when it comes to enforcement, but what we're seeing from secretary mayorkas isn't an exercise of discretion and it's certainly not an a for effort worthy.
i don't think anyone expected secretary mayorkas to lead the charge to secure our borders and crack down on illegal immigration. but he's not even doing the bare minimum that this job description requires. the truth is the biden administration has fumbled the border crisis at every turn. the president sent smoke signals about open borders before he even took office, and his administration has rolled out incentive after incentive for migrants to continue to break the law. and it's tied the hands of dedicated law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to protect the american people. we've got a border czar who once compared i.c.e. to the ku klux klan and a d.h.s. secretary who gives himself an a, even though more than 1.7 million migrants have crossed the border since he took office in february. so while secretary mayorkas thinks he's entitled to an a for