tv U.S. Senate Senate Judiciary Chair Durbin Floor Remarks CSPAN March 1, 2022 3:04am-3:22am EST
adventuresome, brave, and curious. for years he moved seamlessly between such things as creating major value in the highest rafergs of the private -- rank, of the private sector and studying tibetan buddhism. his passion for the himalayans led him to befriend both the dalai lama and -- he even made his own attempt on mount everybody rest. his appetite was for adventure, philanthropy, civic engagement and business success, all seemed to be truly boundless. he was full of life and kept impossibly busy with a wide array of projects that were both interesting and impacted his community for the good. so i know all senators are grieving with and praying for our colleague senator feinstein and their entire family at this
very difficult time. elaine and i join in those thoughts and prayers in a particular way. services. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the senior senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i want to begin my remarks by joining senator mcconnell by expressing my condolences to our friend and colleague senator dianne feinstein on the passing of her husband and partner richard blum. dick blum was a trailblazer in the senate family, one of the first men to join the senate spouses club. he was proud of senator feinstein's historic career in public service. he was a success at business and invested his wealth and easing human suffering from the streets of san francisco to some of the poorest corners of the globe. he founded the american himalayan foundation to assist the people of the himalayas. he also founded the blum center for developing economies at u.c. berkley to help teach students about microlending, social
enterprise and other ways for poor people in developing nations to lift themselves from poverty. his passing, the story includes an anecdote that captured his kind and generous spirit. he said in all the conversations he had over the years with buddhist friends in the himalayas, no one convinced him of the likelihood of incarnation. maybe that's why he worked so hard to achieve so much good in this one lifetime he was given. demore to ease human suffering than others might do in a dozen lifetime opportunities. to senator dianne feinstein, beloved daughters and grand children and all who knew and love him, loretta and i offer our condolences. dick blum's friendship was a gift and his memory will be a blessing. madam president, on another note, there was a historic announcement last friday when president joe biden announced that judge ketanji brown jackson
is his choice to serve as associate justice of the supreme court. i'm going to speak about her nomination at length tomorrow but a few words now. she's an extraordinary person to become the first african american woman to serve on the supreme court you have to be the best. and she's proven throughout her life that she is. she was a clerk to the retiring justice stephen breyer whose seat she now aspires to. she worked in the practice of law in so many different aspects and then on three different occasions, came before this united states senate for approval, advise and consent on all three occasions she emerged with bipartisan support. we certainly hope to see that revisited again. she's authored some 500 different opinions so there will be no mystery about her jurisprudence or her judicial philosophy. she's also been a person who has come before our committee just even as soon as last year.
she's recently -- as recently as last year when she was approved by the committee in june to serve on the d.c. circuit court. i think she's an exceptional choice. i want to make sure that the hearing that is given to her is respectful and fair and professional. i reached out to senator grassley, my friend and the ranking member on the committee, to work toward that goal. and i hope that all the members of the committee will join us. on a separate topic, madam president, i just returned from the munich security conference and a visit to our nato allies in poland and lithuania. on the latter part i was joined on the latter part i was joined i was joined by senator chris coons center jean shaheen of new hampshire. the fact that i cared about this country in a special ies such ash
saw such devastation during world war ii found themselves suffering decades of communist dictatorship. so it was no surprise that when the soviet union finally collapsed, these nations were determined to join the community of democracies and nato. in fact the baltic states lithuania, lafia and estonia that helped lead this historic path to freedom, i remember so many aspects of it. and the shivering cold winter of 1991, millions of people joined hands to form a human chain connecting all three nations in the baltic area. they called for change. then on january 1991, the soviets sent their tanks into lithuania and lafia and other places. the net result was deadly. those soviet tanks killed 13 innocent people and hundreds were injured. what were they asking for?
freedom, a chance to vote for their own future. well soon the baltic states stepped out even further. and courageously declared independence from the soviet union. they wanted to reclaim their freedom. i remember visiting lithuania in those days, seeing sandbags stacked up outside the parliament which they called the samist. and kids, schoolkids who were taking a break from class to come, pray the rosary in front of those barricades, light little candles, basically to be there for their country at that moment of testing. if this sounds familiar with what we're hearing in ukraine today, it is. those early days of independence had many brave souls coming forward with nothing but determination. their small arsenal of freedom which they brought me in the back door to show me consist itself of a broom class set with eight or ten rifles. i was so honored on that trip --
on this trip recently to visit with one of the champions of the restoration of freedom and lithuania's first post-independence leader. he is a music professor and a leerd of their revolution back to freedom in lithuania. at 95 years of age, he remains a fierce champion of democracy as he was in the early days confronting the soviets. i also met with former lithuanian president who left lithuania for chicago as a teenager and returned decades later to serve two terms as president and shepherded his nation lithuania into the european union and nato. i visited military bases in both poll lad and lithuania where i met u.s. troops supporting the mission to protect young democracies from russian aggression. among the several servicemembers were several if our state of illinois, near detator,
montgomery, illinois near aurora and they came and told stories of their service in the regular army and how they were now working in lithuania to prepare their armies for any possible battles in the future. it's been a wonderful strong relationship. in poland when you mention you're from illinois, virtually every military officer says they've been our friends for a long time and they have been because for over 20 years the illinois guard has been in direct contact with the polish military forces modernizing them and preparing them for any challenges that might come. eastern european allies know the russian threat far better than we do. look at these maps of russian troop movements in and around crearn and -- ukraine and the borders of our nato allies. as you can see here, keeve, they're in the news virtually on a constant basis.
you can see the troop movements, the hundreds of thousands of troops that are moving from the russians front into ukraine these days. with the russian troops now flooding into belarus in the area up in the far corner here, they are essentially taking over that country, too. and the nations on the other side, poland you can see on that map, poland, lithuania, and lafia understand the threat today is very real for them. they share a 60-mile border that connects the russian territory with belarus. and that's -- that corridor is one they're very concerned about keeping peaceful. it's a real threat. and they worry that the russians are going to take this opportunity in ukraine to extend their forces into poland and into lithuania and into lafia. poland is particular live hosting hundreds of thousands of
ukranian refugees crossing the border. it is an inspiration to me to see this country of poland reach out to accept these ukranian refugees. the united states has to step into this picture with humanitarian assistance for poland and all the other countries, moldovia, romania and others taking ukranian refugees. we've got help them feed and clothe these people during the period of the invasion by the russians. russia is unleashing a brutal war of choice against a free nation that wants to choose its own path, the path of democracy of the result is sickening. this shows what's going on in the subways of ukranian cities. people bringing their children to escape the bombing that putin is initiating above. we have many millions of people in that country under -- in peril and some are taking their kids and trying to escape to a safe place like poland. there's been terrible
destruction that's gone on there as well. we've seen it on television regularly. this lady was in front of her own home at the time a rocket attacked it on february 25. this is a picture which i saw in this morning's "washington post." it is the most touching scene. you can barely see this father down here covered in blood bringing his daughter to this paramedic. the paramedic really tried to perform c.p.r. on this little girl who was injured in the shelling by putin and his troops. unfortunately she did not survive. that is the reality of what vladimir putin is doing today. the american people know it. and the strength and courage of the people of ukraine resisting his advances is an example to the world. we are seeing celebrations across all of the world for the people of ukraine. eiffel tower, empire state
building. i'm going to move some of these charts around. this is impressive in berlin. look at the crowds. supporting the people of ukraine. and it isn't lost on us, madam president, because we have a wonderful ukranian community in chicago. here they are at the church on chicago avenue just this last week and they've been coming back on a regular basis. i was there on friday and i spoke to many of these same people about the situation which they're facing in ukraine. they would come up to me afterwards and say they'd been on the telephone with members of their family who are frightened for their lives, didn't know if they could survive this aggression by vladimir putin. when you think about what he has done, sadly he has failed on so many fronts. how can he get so many things so wrong? he has unified nato and support for nato in a way which was unimaginable just a few years
ago. nato stands unified now in defense of ukraine in confronting the aggression of vladimir putin. he's also unified the european union, countries like sweden, switzerland which -- famously had been neutral in most of these conflicts are now openly supporting the european union's efforts to put pressure on vladimir putin, sanctions that will stop him from this aggression in ukraine. and he is certainly in the process to destroy the reputation of his country as a reliable partner in the future. the germans had entered into an agreement for a gas pipeline. many of us questioned it from the start but that was their decision. nord stream 2, to bring natural gas from russia into germany. well, that pipeline is closed down now. chancellor schultz announced he's looking for other sources such as l.n.g. to replace the gas sources which were supposed to be sent in from russia for a
long time to come. it's going to lead to more energy independence in europe, independence certainly from the unpredictable and unimaginable vladimir putin. madam president, i remember not so many years ago, 30 as a matter of fact, when countries like the baltics, poland were finally getting an opportunity for freedom. there were extraordinary examples of courage in each of those countries. i was lucky to be there to witness some of it. what we're seeing now today in ukraine is exceptional. the military experts thought they would last a matter of hours. now it's days. maybe it's weeks. i hope it's months and even longer, because they have the courage to stand up. ordinary citizens who are showing up at recruiting office for homeland defense, being given weapons and sent out to stop the russians. you can see that they are inspiring the world as they
should. and it's a reminder to all of us that vladimir putin and his brand of aggression has been seen so many times in history, when someone like him or lukashenko in belarus think they are so powerful they are above accountability, that is not the case. we've got to make certain as we go forward that we stand with the people of ukraine, that they know we are their friends, that we aspire to the same values. and i want to thank president biden for his leadership. i'm going to be calling on him with many others. the first thing i'm going to do is send a letter which will be headed out this evening, signed by colleagues on both sides of the aisle. what we are asking the president to do is to grant temporary protected status to ukrainians now on visas in the united states. some of them are tourists, some of them are students, some are on work visas, but oftentimes they expire and they're supposed to return to their home countries at the moment of
expiration. if there are circumstances in those home countries, the president has the authority to give temporary protected status to allow them to stay in the united states. the senators who are joining in this letter will ask president biden to extend temporary protected status to the people of ukraine who are on visas in the united states and are present in our country. that, to me, is a way to give them some peace of mind. we certainly wouldn't want them to return to that war scene that we've seen over and over broadcast on television. and there's more to do, whether it's humanitarian assistance to countries like poland or lethal aid to help the