tv U.S. Senate CSPAN June 15, 2022 6:00pm-7:48pm EDT
the presiding officer: the yeas are 29, the nays are 67. the motion is not agreed to. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of state. alan m. leventhal of massachusetts to be ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the united states of america to the kingdom
of denmark. the presiding officer: there will now be ten minutes of debate on the nomination. without objection, all time is yielded back. the question is it on the nomination. a senator: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
the presiding officer: the yeas are 63, the nays are 32, and the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table. the president will be immediately notified of the senate's actions and the senate will resume legislative session. mr. sullivan: mr. president.
mr. kelly: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kelly: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination, calendar number 903, ventris c. gibson, of virginia, to be director of the mint for a term of five years. that the senate vote on the nomination without intervening action or debate, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, that any statements related to the nomination be printed in the record, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of the treasury, ventris c. gibson, of virginia, to be director of the mint. the presiding officer: the question occurs on the nomination.
all those in favor say aye. all opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. mr. kelly: i ask unanimous consent that the help committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 1098, and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 1098, a bill to amend the higher education act of 1965 to authorize borrowers to separate joint consolidation loans. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed. mr. kelly: i ask unanimous consent that the warner substitute amendment at the desk be agreed to, the bill, as amended, be considered read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. kl -- mr. kelly: i ask unanimous consent that that if the -- i
ask unanimous consent that the senate now proceed to the en bloc consideration of the following senate resolutions introduced earlier today, s. res. 679, s. res. 680, s. res. 681. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding en bloc? without objection, the senate will proceed en bloc. mr. kelly: i ask unanimous consent that the resolutions be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, all en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. kelly: i ask unanimous consent that if the senate receives a message from the house, that it is passed h.r. 1057, and if the text of h.r. 1057, is passed identical to s. 1596, at a time to be determined by the majority leader or his designee in consultation with the republican leader, the bill will be
considered read a third time and the senate vote on passage of the bill and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kelly: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. on thursday, june 16, and that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. that upon the conclusion of morning business, the senate resume consideration of calendar number 388, h.r. 3967, postcloture. further, that all time during adjourn nment, recess -- adjournment, recess, morning business, and leader remarks count as postcloture and all time be considered expired at
11:30 a.m., that the senate vote on the motions to invoke cloture on the alba and boyle nominations, be and if cloture is invoked, all postcloture time be expired and the postcloture votes occur at a time to be determined by the majority leader or his designee in consultation with the republican leader. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kelly: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand aid understand under the previous order, following the remarks of senators sullivan and lankford. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sullivan: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. sullivan: mr. president, i'm going to talk a little bit about the bill that we've been debating here all week on the
senate floor, the sergeant first class heath robinson honoring our pact act of 2022. now, it's a very important bill. it's named after after sergeant first class heath robinson, a national guard who died in 2020, as a result of service-connected toxic exposure. that bill that we're going to be voting on for final passage tomorrow, would give immediate access to health care for toxic exposure for veterans, give the v.a. -- and streamline the process for toxic exposed veterans seeking disability compensation for their illness that they gained while serving
overseas defending our nation. mr. president, i have supported the intent of this bill for years, and i intend to vote in favor of this bill tomorrow when it comes up for final passage. there is nothing in my mind that is more important than taking care of our veterans, but i do want to raise some concerns about how we got to this point, the process of this bill, which in my view undermined the likelihood of this massive new program being implemented in a way that benefits all american veterans so we can take care of all american veterans. let me explain.
since my time here in the senate, i have focused on these issues. i serve on the veterans' affairs committee that was responsible, in large measure, for many aspects of this bill. i serve on the armed services committee. i still serve in the military myself in the marine corps reserves, and i am honored to represent the state in our great nation alaska, that has more veterans per capita than any state in the country. so veterans and military affairs and their families have been a core focus of mine since i arrived in the senate in 2015. and in particular, mr. president, i've been focused on this issue of toxic exposure of our service men and women during wartime. in fact, one of my commitments as a candidate for the u.s. senate in 2014 was to work to
ensure passage of the blue-water navy vietnam veterans act, which i cosponsored when i got here and was signed into law in 2019. that was an outstanding commitment to our vietnam veterans exposed to agent orange during their time, but it was belatedly fulfilled, years, even decades after their service in vietnam. and, mr. president, i took lessons from that. as a matter of fact, i think many senators took lessons from that. that when the next generation of veterans served overseas and were exposed to toxins during their service, that we needed to act. so that's what i've done in my
career here, mr. president. i've worked taking the vietnam veteran experience, particularly with agent orange, to make sure we don't repeat that, the mistakes of agent orange, where those exposed to toxic substances overseas during their service and later came down with diseases and suffered, that we needed to take care of them. we know that toxic exposure during military service can add serious complications to a veteran's health, years and even decades after their service has concluded. and there is science that can correlate certain diseases and symptoms to exposure. that's the model that we want.
veterans suffering from potential exposure understand too well that getting the v.a. to even recognize and concede exposure can remain a challenging, bureaucratic, and incredibly frustrating process. that leads to denials, often, from the bureaucracy. so early in my time here, mr. president, i have been a relentless advocate on these issues. i'll give you a few examples. i introduced, with senator manchin of west virginia, the veterans burn pit exposure recognition act. which was previously passed out of committee in the veterans' affairs committee and enjoyed broad bipartisan support. close to half of the senate, democrats and republicans, were cosponsors of our bill, and
almost all of the senate veterans' affairs committee was. this bill would recognize and concede exposure to toxic substances for those veterans who were deployed in areas where burn pits were in use -- in iraq, in afghanistan, in uzbekistan. all of these different areas and more. this bill would do away with the paperwork that made it almost impossible to prove exposure by these veterans and put the onus on the v.a. and that bureaucracy when crafting this bill with senator manchin, our offices worked extensively with the senate veterans' affairs committee and many of the veteran service organizations, particularly the disabled american veterans organization, and we worked with the v.a. on the language to make sure we
were not getting ahead of the science. making sure that what was exposed and what were the diseases connect with science. not always easy, but the v.a. does have expertise in that area. i then cosponsored with senator blumenthal the k-2 veterans advocacy act. this bill moved the needle on three things that are known systemically now -- the toxic substances at the base that we called k-2 in uzbekistan, the medical conditions that k-2 veterans have, and they're serious, something really bad was going on at the k-2 base in uzbekistan, and the links between the two. now, we worked with the trump white house, before president trump left office in 2020,
before our bill passed here on the senate floor, to get them to issue an executive order for the v.a. to essentially do those things for k-2 veterans. i introduced and had passed the bipartisan burn pits accountability act, with senator klobuchar, which directs the pentagon to include periodic health assessments and valleys of -- evaluation of whether servicemember has been exposed to open burn pits or toxic airborne chemicals in their deployments. this bill was included in the f.y. 2020 national defense authorization act. and i sponsored the pandemic care for burn pits exposure act of 2020, to ensure that servicemembers and veterans with previous exposure to burn pits received the care they needed
during the covid-19 pandemic. mr. president, i'm listing these bills and the work and time and the bipartisan nature of them because on the veterans' affairs committee there has been no issue i've been more focused on. we're going to take the lessons from vietnam, agent orange, and not say you're going to wait three, four, five decades while you die of cancer. and i am committed to this issue, and i have been, but i'm also committed to passing legislation that is worthy of all veterans that we are serving. so i have had some reservations about the current bill and the process by which it has come to the senate floor, because the process has thwarted
opportunities to make this a better bill, to make it serve our veterans in a better, holistic way. and again, this is an issue i've been focused on since my first days in the u.s. senate. so what are the issues, mr. president? well, as i mention, some of the things in there, a lot of the things in this bill, are very necessary. the bill that i just mentioned, that i cosponsored with senator manchin, the veterans burn pits exposure recognition act, was incorporated into the pact act that we will be voting on tomorrow, the sergeant robinson's honoring our pact act. in fact, many bipartisan bills from the veterans' affairs committee were included in the bill that we're going to be voting on tomorrow. but ultimately, what we had
going on in the veteran affairs committee was an agreement that when we brought this big bill, and it's big, to the senate floor, we would have the ability to bring amendments to try to improve it, to try to make it better for all veterans and the entire v.a. system, a system that we know has challenges implementing sweeping mandates from congress. and mr. president, this is a sweeping mandate from congress that we are voting on. as i mention, the issue of toxic exposure, which i have been focused on since my first year here in the u.s. senate, has always been a bipartisan bill. the four bills i just mentioned that i've led on have all had democrat cosponsors, leading with me as well. but what happened this week and last week was the bipartisan
nature of trying to tackle one of the biggest issues facing our veterans was shut down. for whatever reason, and i don't know why, somebody should ask the majority leader, all the amendments that bewere going to bring -- that we were going to bring to the floor to make this bill better were shut down. we've not had one amendment on this comprehensive bill. and like i said, mr. president, a number of us have been focused on this issue for years. what were we trying to do with these amendments? we're trying to make this a better bill. bring your ideas to the floor, debate them, vote on them. why wouldn't we want to do that? why wouldn't we want to do that? don't we owe it to all of our veterans to do that? mr. president, my primary
concern, as i've mentioned, is making sure that not just the constituent wantcy -- constituency impacted by this legislation, which with we need, those exposed to toxic exposure, primarily from burn pits, are taken care of, but that the whole v.a. system remains robust and strong. and i think some of the amendments -- i know some of the amendments that we were going to bring, as a matter of fact, on the veterans' affairs committee there was a commitment to make sure we were bringing these amendments to the floor, would have made this bill better. what are the biggest concerns? well, i pressed the secretary of the v.a. just yesterday, in his testimony before the veterans' affairs committee, on one of the biggest concerns i have, and one
of the biggest concerns that many senators have, and one of the biggest concerns our veterans' affairs committee has, and it's this -- this bill that i will be supporting tomorrow is estimated to bring an additional 2.5 million claims to the v.a. 2.5 million. my question to the secretary was simple, but really important -- mr. secretary, is the v.a. system ready to absorb the roughly 2 1/2 million additional claims that are likely to be generated in the next three years by the pact act? are you ready? we have some ideas and amendments that we think can make it ready.
but again, for whatever reason, the majority leader didn't want to hear about those. in an already stretched v.a., with a huge backlog already, and challenges as we speak -- the secretary testified about them yesterday -- about hiring qualified medical personnel across the countries, but especially in my state, in alaska, the concern that i raised with the secretary yesterday, the concern that we were trying to address through an amendment process here on the senate floor is this -- you bring in that many into a system that's not ready, and you could collapse the whole system. you could collapse the whole system. and then every veteran loses. a young marine with his legs amputated after an i.e.d. explosion in afghanistan, who needs help, he's going to be
delayed. a vietnam veteran who needs care, he's going to be delayed. a gulf war veteran, she's going to be delayed. if you're collapsing the whole system, every vet rap loses -- every veteran loses. every veteran loses. now, mr. president, i've actually seen this in my state, and i know your state has had some challenges with the v.a. several years ago, i held a field hearing in arizona, on some of the challenges in the v.a. but i've seen the system collapse in alaska. in 2015, my first year in the u.s. senate, due to legislation that had been passed the year before, we essentially had the system in alaska collapse. somehow, some way, legislation and ideas from the v.a. thought
it was really smart to remove the ability to actually make appointments from veterans -- for veterans in alaska, not by officials from the v.a. who lived in alaska, but somewhere in the lower 48. i think it was louisiana or somewhere. not a good idea. the whole system cratered. i've seen it. and no veteran benefits. no one benefits. my first year here, in 2015, that was my number one priority, get the v.a. to fix the broken system in alaska. and we made huge progress. but i've seen it firsthand when a system that is supposed to take care of veterans craters. of course, every veteran suffers
so, we don't want that to happen with the implementation of this important bill. and the secretaries of the -- the secretary of the v.a. assured me, assured senator tillis in questioning yesterday, that this won't happen, that the system won't be overburdened, that they are prepared for this. well, i hope he's right. i have my doubts, but i hope he's right. but here's the point, mr. president -- a bipartisan amendment process, particularly from senators, i'll give you one example, senator moran, ranking member on veterans affairs, been working this issue, like me, for years, particularly from senators who actually know the issue, a bipartisan amendment process would have helped ensure that this possibility would be
much less. i'll give you a couple examples of what, for whatever reason, the majority leader didn't want to bring up on this important legislation. we had amendments to make sure that the v.a. didn't get ahead of the science. you need to connect the science and the exposure to the disease. that's simple, that's what expected. it's not simple. it's a complicated process. but it's just the rigor of a bill that you want to make sure those who are exposed and sick and with a disease are the ones who get the care. right now in this bill there are 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers that will be added to the list of presumptive ailments that will allow a veteran to be diagnosed with toxic exposure
and qualify for benefits and any other disease the secretary of the v.a. determines is warranted based on a positive association with certain substances, chemicals or airborne hazards. some of those 23 presumptives as we're calling them are based on science. some aren't. i've asked the v.a., i've asked the secretary, where do we get these 23? the answer i'm still waiting for. that's what the amendment process is for, mr. president, to make sure this bill has rigor to take care of all veterans. let me mention another amendment offered by senator moran, an amendment that he was promised to get a floor vote on but didn't happen, and i think would have made the bill stronger. it would have preserved the trump-era gains on community
care access standards and importantly serve as a relief valve for veterans to receive care as millions are going to be added into the system. so again, if you have 2.5 million additional claims and the v.a. is overwhelmed, and now there's a giant backlog for everybody, this amendment would have said, the veterans in the system can go out and get community care. that's a good idea. it's actually how it works in alaska, because we don't have a full-service v.a. hospital, one of only three states in the country. but that is a really smart idea, a safety valve. if the system looks like it's going to crater because it's overwhelmed, let some doctors in town help the veteran.
couldn't bring that amendment up. so i pressed the v.a. secretary on this, mr. president, because i've seen it when a system collapses and my veterans were really hurt in alaska when it did, the v.a. system in my state. and i'm going to take his word for it now that the v.a. can handle 2.5 million more claims in the next three years. but i'm going to be watching like a hawk, watching like a hawk in my oversight role. like i said, there's nothing i care more about than our veterans, our military, their family members. we had an opportunity on an important bill that i will be supporting to make it better, and we sat in the senate all week and didn't bring up one amendment to even try. the secretary is assuring you go, okay, all good, good to go. well, some of us had ideas to make sure it would have been better to go.
we couldn't bring them up. i hope there aren't problems with this implementation. if the system is in danger of collapsing as a result of this bill, i hope that whoever is majority leader at that time, two, three, four years from now understands that the care for all veterans is what the v.a. is all about. and i hope if we need it, we'll have the opportunity to bring good ideas to the senate floor to fix these kind of things. because, mr. president, veterans are not a partisan issue in the senate. they're not. i've seen it my whole career here. i sit on the committee. i sit on the armed services committee. but for whatever reason, our
a point and a half in two months, it's a pretty dramatic effect. it's going to be a situation where many people 40 and younger are about to face interest rates they've never faced in their lifetime. the cost of buying a car that's already high is about to get higher. the cost of buying a home that's already really high is about to get much higher. inflation is now at 8.6%. a lot of people are beginning to feel what that really means. this is not some strange anomaly. this is inflation over the last decade. it's bounced around about the same level basically for a decade until right there -- march of 2021. and then it just skyrockets at
that point. this is the reality that we're facing at this point. what does inflation really look like when you say it's 8.6%? people know what that feels like. the cost of eggs has gone up 32% in the past year. 32% for eggs. the cost of milk is up 16%. the cost of butter also 16%. the cost of coffee, 15%. and the cost of baby formula -- if you can find it -- is up 13%. and gas prices? oh, hello. gas prices, that really has had an effect. this is gas prices since january of 2017. again, we look and stay about
the same until january of 2021. i wonder what happened then. and then look at this. and in the conversation about gas prices, that from the administration lately has been it's all putin's fault, here's the rising gas prices since president biden's inauguration right there, and right there is the war that began in russia. so this little increase right here is the part that's actually there. this is consumer price inflation. this is on gas prices. same thing, to be able to see this flat line on gas prices, that spike. that's the invasion of ukraine happening right there to be able to see what's added on to it since then. so this is not just about the invasion in ukraine. this has been ongoing since late
january 2021. the challenge is now, is this something intentional? is this something accidental? well, quite frankly, i think it's a bit of both. we all remember very well this moment during the presidential campaign when president biden was campaigning, and he walks over to a young lady in the campaign stop and says, look at my eyes. i guarantee you we're going to end fossil fuel. i guarantee you. that was this moment that happened here. this is not something totally accidental. it was a drive to say we've got to shift to solar, got to shift to wind, got to shift to hydro, we've got to shift to other things and we're going to get rid of fossil fuels and accelerate that as fast as possible. i live in a state that we use a lot of wind power. we use a lot of solar power. we use hydro power.
we have a very diverse energy portfolio. but right know -- now the people in my state are paying much higher prices for gasoline, much higher prices for natural gas, much higher prices for it electricity because the policies that have been put in place are driving up the cost, and people feel it. this is what it looks like at this point. this is the last 24 months of retail average prices. right there -- january 2021. and then to be able to see what's happening in prices all over the country. the administration's response just in the past couple of weeks has been this statement -- president biden said my administration is going to continue to do everything it can to lower prices for the american people. i love the word continue to be in there. they're going to continue to do everything that they can. they're going to keep doing these things that clearly have
driven up prices overwhelmingly on the american people. it was, let's say, putin's fault. it's been oil company's fault. it's been refinery's fault. that's the new one they actually put out in the last 24 hours. this is all the fault of refineries that are taking too much profit. the challenge has been an ongoing attack on american energy from the very beginning. literally day one, when president biden canceled the keystone pipeline he started his process of fulfilling his promise he made in the campaign that i guarantee you i'm going to end fossil fuels. day one was canceling the keystone x.l. pipeline, getting crude oil from canada, about 800,000 barrels a day. what he didn't announce this day is we still have to have that same 800,000 barrels a day from somewhere, because it's heavy crude. we purchase some of our heavy crude from other places, so we still have to get it.
his announcement, though, on day one was we're not going to get it from canada. what people don't realize is this announcement day one was we're not going to get it from canada. we're going to get it from russia. how did that foreign policy work out? terribly. day one, we're not going to get oil from canada. we're going to get it from russia, we're going to get it from other places instead. he put a moratorium on new federal oil and gas leasing. that moratorium, by the way, still stays in place in multiple areas. 24% of our oil and gas in the united states comes from federal lands and waters. 24%. so what this did was say for the future of however we're going to develop, we're not going to to develop in those areas anymore. i'm going to cut off 24% of the supply coming in. again, this goes back to his campaign promise -- i guarantee you i'm going to end fossil fuels. he declined to defend the gulf
lease sale. an environmental group went in and sued and said we don't think they followed the process. the administration said we're not going to challenge that. we're going to let the environment group take this thing down and not increase our supply of oil coming from the gulf. he limited seismic studies for new production in the gulf. what does that matter? he opened some areas and said you can drill for more oil in these rears. by the way, you're allowed to do that. but if you want to do seismic testing, oh, we're not doing anymore seismic testing this whole year. we're not going to allow you to actually prepare a site. we're just going to tell you you can do it. that's this mode the administration is in, produce more oil but i'm not going to actually allow you to do that with the permitting. he's failed to implement a five-year offshore leasing program. what difference does that make? by law the administration is
required to be able to put a five-year offshore leasing proposal in place of the current one expires on june 30 of this year. that's days away. there is no present plan in place to be able to replace it. in fact, i personally asked the secretary of interior and we shade we -- and she said we plan to by june 30, we plan that day to be able to put out a comment of what we could do if we do a new plan. and i said, when will that be complete? her response to me was we don't have a deadline when that will be complete. so what is required by law to have a plan for how we're going to do offshore leasing, they're going to begin discussing when they might do in the days ahead. again, it goes back to we're going to talk about it but we're actually not going to put in
lease sale plan in place. he canceled a lease sale in alaska's cook inlet where oil comes from, he cut off half the petroleum reserve in alaska to any future energy development. he pushed regulations that would slow or halt a build-out of liquefied natural gas, this is a ferc piece that they put a new leader in place in that spot and the first action they took was to make putting pipelines heading to the gulf to sell natural gas to europe harder to do and more expensive to do. and if we want to do natural gas pipelines across our country, he would make it more expensive, more complicated. literally as the price is going up for natural gas, he made it even more expensive to be able to transport natural gas and harder to be able to sell it to our allies. he proposed legislation to
design naturalling energy projects. this body will remember nominees put by the biden administration to go to the federal reserve that stated out loud their goal of coming to the federal reserve was to cut off access to capital for any kind of energy development that was a fossil fuel. literally saying you can't get loans and money to get access to that. make it harder to move it if you can get it, if you can get it at all on federal lands and harder to access capital. remember, the comment about -- or his comment saying he's going to continue to do everything he can to lower prices for the american people for energy? well, what he's actually done is proposed a whole new set of taxes on all energy companies. in fact, even recently a conversation about a windfall's profit tax on energy companies. now, here's the basic economics that this group knows well. if you tax it more, you get less
of it. if you get less of it, the price goes up. this is not hard. this is basic economics. but, yet, this administration has proposed multiple new taxes in their budget that they just put out in the previous month at the same time he said, i'm going to continue to do what i can to lower prices at the same time he put out proposals to dramatically increase oil and gas costs. now -- not an energy activist, turned to hostile nations like iran and venezuela to meet the u.s. energy demand instead of u.s. producers. it's been interesting. i heard several people say, we've got high number of productions of oil and gas here in the united states. but the fact is weaver still half a million barrels less now of production than what we were
pre-pandemic. we've not caught up on actual production here. and the biden administration has made it even harder to go get it. while the biden administration is planning a trip to saudi arabia to talk to them about getting more oil, our friends in canada are saying, what don't you come to canada and talk to us about production? we can increase supply to the united states, and american producers are saying we can increase supply to the united states if you will lift regulations, allow us to get permits, stop making it harder to move it, stop making it more expensive to get it, stop adding more taxes on to us. we can produce more in the united states. listen, the price of oil right now is about $117 a barrel.
there's plenty of incentive to go get it, but the administration makes it harder and harder and more and more unpredictable to actually go get it and so folks are not going to get more. and while the biden administration blames speculators on wall street and rich oil companies and everyone else, the basic facts are the administration policies are what are driving this problem. now is there a solution to this? of course there are. there are ways to resolve this. we can start federal leasing onshore and offshore. and i'm not talking about having massive rigs everywhere. we do oil drilling and gas drilling better than anyone else in the world. while the administration's going over to saudi arabia to go get oil to be able to use in the united states, don't you think that we produce it cleaner than saudi arabia does? what in the world? if we're going to need to use
it, then why aren't we producing it here in the united states? if this is all about a global climate challenge, then why aren't we focused on production here rather than running overseas and trying to get it there? restart the permitting process, restart the leasing onshore and offshore. stop all the regulation that's are designed to limit and punish oil and gas production. the administration just did a moratorium on this, it would make a significant difference. put a timeline on permitting and litigation. if there is a mine in canada for lithium for things that we need and the whole world needs, they have deadlines and time lines, it takes 15 years do that in the united states if you can get it done at all. because there's no timelines and deadlines. the same thing on production of
oil and gas. when there's this constant litigation challenge all the time, it makes it more difficult to go get it. people need to be engaged in the process. the community needs to be heard, tribes, local governments, people need to be heard and consulted in the process, but with to this deadlines out there, there's no incentive to be able to actually go after it. promote projects that enhance mutual security like the keystone xl pipeline, like other pipelines. we learned when there was a security problem on the colonial pipeline coming out last year to north carolina and north carolina suddenly didn't have refined products gasoline, the whole east coast discovered we're dependent on one pipeline, one. if that one pipeline actually has a structural failure, what happens to the east coast?
listen, you can multiply that all over the country and while this administration fights every pipeline company trying to put in a pipeline, they increase our risk of having a major problem in large sections of the country losing access to energy. they're gambling with our future at this point while we're watching prices exceed $5 a gallon. focus on the solutions that don't raise taxes on energy or limit u.s. energy production. i did have to laugh last week when the president made a speech and said he's working on bringing down the cost of energy and so the announcement was, i'm going to bring down the cost of energy by dropping tariffs on solar panels coming from the far east.
talk about out of touch. that's out of touch. not only because if we're going to produce solar panels, why aren't we incentivizing the production of solar panels here in america rather than encouraging the production of solar panels overseas in the far east? but how in the world is dropping tariffs on solar panels from the far east going to help folks filling up their tank with gas next week? the president said he was going to solve energy issues on the price at the pump by increasing the amount of ethanol that we use. remember that one? that was five months ago. and that we'll have more ethanol and went to iowa and said we'll do more ethanol and the prices continued to skyrocket and rise. the president then came on and said, all right, i have -- we still have a higher and higher
and higher price, so the ethanol whole thing didn't work when he put that you out here and so he came back and said we're going to do the strategic petroleum reserve. we're going to release a million barrels a day from the strategic petroleum reserve. remember that announcement? it was made right about there on this chart when that announce yt was made. how has it gone for gas prices since he announced we would release a million barrels a day from the strategic petroleum resnoif the. the presiding officer: price -- reserve. mr. lankford: this is based on long-term supply. that's basic economics. it became a -- now the talk has been a temporary tax gas -- gas tax holiday and that will give people relief. can i remind everyone we're at over $5 a gallon. the temporary gas tax holiday
would drop the price 18 cents. 18 cents is what it would drop the price. we're not trying to get an 18-cent drop, we're trying to get it back down to where it was over here or over here when we were at $2 a gallon, not 18 cents. if you drop the gas tax holiday 18 cents just for this year, as it $20 billion hole in our infrastructure, in our building for bridges, highways and roads to get an 18-cent bump. there's also been the proposal that's out there that he's going to take over refineries. that was today. this -- this, again, it seems like every week there's a new thing that they throw out. now there's a letter he sent to the major refineries and in the letter the president sent, he wrote, my administration is prepared to use all reasonable and appropriate federal government tools and emergency authorities to increase refinery
capacity and output in the near term to ensure that every region of this country is appropriately supplied. great. so the president is going to go into the refineries and he's going to take them over, the same administration that's managing our baby formula is now going to manage our refineries. that's going to work out terrific. our refineries right now are running at 95% capacity. 95%. the interesting thing about our refineries, america's not built a new refinery since 1977. in just -- and just in the past three years, we've lost almost a million barrels a day of refining capacity in the united states from refineries shutting down. maybe the better question the president could ask is, how do
we start increasing our ability to refine, not how is he going to take over refineries and run it himself? -- himself. we have a major structural problem right now. this is just evidence of what going on across the whole economy. there are answers. there are solutions. but they're not raising taxes and taking over refineries and putting oil out from the strategic petroleum reserve or running to saudi arabia. that's not going to solve our energy problems. and i can assure us we're not going to solve our 8.6 inflation rate until we solve the price of energy because the price of energy is baked into every
single product that we buy, everything. and if this doesn't get solved, this doesn't get better. mr. president, do what needs to be done to increase supply in america so that the price will go down. we all believe, we all believe in the decades ahead we're going to have more electric vehicles, we'll have more renewable energy, we all believe that. but 98% of the vehicles on the road right now run on oil and gas, and fulfilling your promist you're going to get rid of fossil fuels right now by making it harder to do pipelines, hard her to get capital, harder to do permitting, more complicated regulations is causing this mess 30 years from now, we may all be driving electric vehicles. great. we don't today.
and today we need solutions for how we're going to move in the country. that involves increasing supply. that will get down inflation. that will help us as a nation. with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the the presiding officer: the expanding access for veterans exposed to toxic substance on the va build expected tomorrow. next week lawmakers are expected to work on bipartisan gun
legislation. an executive and judicial nominations. when the senate returns watch live coverage here on cspan2. ♪ c-span is your unfiltered view of government funded by these television companies and more including media come. >> the world changed in an instant. media com was ready and internet traffic soared and we never slow down. schools and businesses went virtual and we powered a new reality. because at media, we are built to keep you ahead. >> immediate com support c-span as a public service along with these other television providers. giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> texas republican senator john cornyn gave an update on efforts of gun safety legislation by next week. he said there are specific to the bipartisan framework that's only to be worked out
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