[Congressional Record Volume 167, Number 213 (Thursday, December 9, 2021)]
[Pages S9053-S9080]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                          LEGISLATIVE SESSION



  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of the House message to accompany S. 610, which 
the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       House message to accompany S. 610, a bill to address 
     behavioral health and well-being among health care 


       Schumer motion to concur in the amendment of the House of 
     Representatives to the bill.
       Schumer motion to concur in the amendment of the House of 
     Representatives to the bill, with Schumer amendment No. 4871 
     (to the House amendment), to add an effective date.
       Schumer amendment No. 4872 (to amendment No. 4871), to 
     modify the effective date.
       Schumer motion to refer the message of the House on the 
     bill to the Committee on Finance, with instructions, Schumer 
     amendment No. 4873, to add an effective date.
       Schumer amendment No. 4874 (to the instructions (amendment 
     No. 4873) of the motion to refer), to modify the effective 
       Schumer amendment No. 4875 (to amendment No. 4874), to 
     modify the effective date.

  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Booker). Without objection, it is so 

                   Recognition of the Majority Leader

  The majority leader is recognized.

                       Remembering Robert J. Dole

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, earlier this morning, it was my honor to 
join with President Biden, the Vice President, Leader McConnell, the 
Speaker, and other congressional leaders in paying a final tribute to 
our former colleague, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas.
  From defending our country in World War II, where he fought the Nazis 
on the hillsides of Italy, to dedicating his final years advocating 
with disabled Americans and veterans, Senator Dole redefined and 
elevated what it means to serve our country. By 21, he had given more 
of himself than most of us give in a lifetime, and then he kept going 
for 70 years after that.
  Leader Dole, rest in peace. Thank you for all you did to make our 
country better. And I extend my condolences and prayers to his wife, 
Senator Elizabeth Dole, their family, and all who mourn the loss of the 
gentleman from Kansas.

                              Debt Ceiling

  Mr. President, now on the debt ceiling.
  Later today, the Senate is going to hold a crucial vote that will 
enable us to address the debt ceiling on a fast-track basis, avoiding 
the prospect of a catastrophic, calamitous default on our sovereign 
  The proposal I worked on with Leader McConnell will allow Democrats 
to do precisely what we have been seeking to do for months, what I have 
been coming down to the floor advocating since the fall: provide a 
simple majority vote to fix the debt ceiling without having to resort 
to a convoluted, lengthy, and ultimately risky process.
  The Nation's debt has been incurred on a bipartisan basis, so I am 
pleased that this responsible action will be taken today to facilitate 
a process that avoids a default.
  I want to thank Leader McConnell for working with us on this 
agreement. Our multiple conversations were fruitful, candid, 
  This is the responsible path forward: no brinksmanship, no default on 
the debt, no risk of another recession.

[[Page S9054]]

  We still have a few more steps to take before we completely resolve 
this matter, but I am optimistic that after today's vote we will be on 
a glide path to avoid a catastrophic default.

                         Build Back Better Act

  Mr. President, now on Build Back Better. In the first 9 days of 
December, Democrats have made very good progress on some of our largest 
priorities for the month. We successfully avoided a needless government 
shutdown. We cleared the path to address the debt ceiling and avoid a 
default. And now we are close to passing an annual Defense bill on a 
bipartisan basis, as we have done for decades.
  Last night, I filed cloture on NDAA and, for the information of my 
colleagues, we will vote early next week to move forward on this bill.
  Soon we will be able to turn to another crucial item on our December 
to-do list: passing Build Back Better in time for Christmas. We remain 
on schedule to bring this bill to the floor of the Senate before 
December 25. Yesterday, four Senate committees released their titles of 
the Build Back Better Act, and the Congressional Budget Office released 
scores for those titles. More titles and scores are scheduled to be 
released this week.
  For the knowledge of all Senators, the text and scores can be found 
online at the Senate Democrats' and CBO websites. So it is available to 
  Senate Democrats have also wrapped up all of our final meetings with 
the Parliamentarian's office. Those are the meetings where just 
Democrats talked to the Parliamentarian. Republicans also get their 
chance alone. And now we anticipate that the bipartisan Byrd bath--
where both sides are together to make their case to the Parliamentarian 
and argue back and forth--we expect those to start next week.
  I want to thank the Parliamentarian's office and all of our 
committee's staff for working so hard this week to bring us to this 
  For all the reasons we should pass Build Back Better, I want to talk 
about one in some detail this morning: extending the child tax credit.
  During the holiday season, American families are looking for every 
option to lower costs, make ends meet. So the best thing we can do is 
pass Build Back Better before some critical tax breaks from the 
American Rescue Plan--above all, the child tax credit checks--come to a 
premature end. That is one thing no American should want.
  COVID isn't over, and so these checks shouldn't lapse either. On the 
contrary, they should keep going. Roughly 35 million families will get 
their next $300-per-child check in the mail on December 15, and we need 
to assure that they will get their checks in January, too, without any 
glitch. As a number of outlets have reported, families are at risk of 
seeing these checks end after December, if we don't take action.
  So let's get this done. Let's pass and enact Build Back Better into 
law before Christmas so families won't see their checks come to a halt 
in the coming months, and families, as they are doing their Christmas 
shopping, can be assured that new checks will be coming over the next 
  For the tens of millions of families that have taken it on the chin 
during COVID, an extra $300 per month, per child could be what helps 
the parents stand on their own two feet. That is extra money for 
groceries, fill up the tank at the gas station, pay for diapers.
  These are not luxuries. These are not handouts. They are daily 
essentials that nobody should have to worry about in today's day and 
age. In an affluent society, no one should have to worry about these 
things, and that is what these checks do: they bring a little more 
fairness into our economy.
  They say to poorer people: You can have a chance and, more 
importantly, your children can have a chance. That is part of the 
American dream.
  Of course, Build Back Better will do more than that. It will, for 
example, provide the largest investments to date to fight climate 
  I have been working with my colleagues for months to make sure our 
climate investments will be robust, effective, and will lay a 
foundation for us to keep taking action to fight the climate crisis 
here in Congress in the future.
  Climate change costs our country tens of billions of dollars every 
time that storms we used to label ``once in a century'' slam us. Build 
Back Better will help us address the climate crisis by lowering 
emissions, making our communities more resistant to disasters, and 
protect our planet for the next generation.
  Our work on Build Back Better will keep going until we get the job 

                             STUDENT LOANS

  Finally, on student loans, Mr. President, as the year comes to an 
end, tens of millions--tens of millions--of Americans face another 
looming deadline they cannot afford. Soon, the Federal Government's 
moratorium on student loan payments will expire, and payments are set 
to resume in February of next year.
  Yesterday, I joined with my colleagues Senator Warren and 
Representative Pressley to call on the Biden administration to extend 
the pause on student loan payments. The pause expires in January, and 
it has been paused because of COVID. It ought to be extended. COVID is 
not over, and students still have these huge burdens. They are just 
readjusting to life, where they may have missed school or missed jobs 
or not gotten fully paid. So we need to certainly pause these payments. 
But we also urge the administration to take the next important step in 
granting borrowers relief by canceling student loan debt.
  As we keep recovering from COVID, as Americans are looking to cut 
costs and make ends meet, now is precisely the wrong time for us to 
allow this commonsense moratorium to end. According to one study, it 
could strip away more than $85 billion--$85 billion--from American 
families over the coming year. At a time like this, that just makes no 
sense. We should give student loan payers a break and keep the 
moratorium going.
  Should the moratorium be allowed to expire, the burden will fall the 
heaviest on those who are least prepared to shoulder it--on low-income 
borrowers and borrowers of color, who typically take out more loans 
than White Americans and end up paying them back over a much longer 
time horizon.
  On the flip side, the President's decision to extend the moratorium 
over the course of the year was precisely--precisely--the right thing 
to do. It has allowed borrowers to focus on saving up for these hard 
times, to save up for emergencies, and to pay down other forms of debt. 
We should keep it going.
  This is about taking one commonsense, easy step to save people costs. 
It is about racial equality. It is about giving people more 
opportunities to build wealth and achieve the American dream. The 
administration can do it on its own. They don't need any kind of 
congressional approval. We know how arduous those things are around 
  Should the moratorium be extended, the administration should take 
further action to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per 
borrower. Imagine the economic activity we can see if tens of millions 
of Americans are suddenly freed from crushing student loan debt. They 
can buy homes, start a business, buy a car, or help send their own kids 
to college. What a boom that would be for our country, especially at a 
time now when it is needed.
  For decades, higher education was considered a ladder up for tens of 
millions of people--for immigrants, people of color, and working-class 
families--but, today, it is an anchor weighing too many down. These 
Americans deserve relief. They deserve help. They deserve to have the 
moratorium extended and their student debt canceled.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The Republican leader is recognized.

                       Remembering Robert J. Dole

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, today, the Capitol is once again 
hosting a hallowed tradition. The U.S. Congress just solemnly welcomed 

[[Page S9055]]

late friend and colleague, Leader Robert J. Dole, one final time. This 
most distinguished soldier-statesman now lies in state at the epicenter 
of our democracy. Our Nation has bestowed this honor only 33 times in 
its history--to Presidents, to Senators and Representatives, to heroes 
of war.
  With today's ceremony, Bob's path aligned one last time with his Army 
hospital buddy's, turned longtime fellow Senator, Danny Inouye. It was 
amazing enough that Bob's and Danny's paths converged all the way from 
bedside bridge games in the 1940s to votes on this floor into the 
1990s, but now they have both rested on the exact same catafalque that 
has held up our great statesmen, dating back to President Lincoln.
  Bob Dole earned these honors many, many times over--through a heroic 
fight that began on Hill 913 and left lifelong scars, through 
accomplished service at both ends of this building, and in a bid for 
even higher office, conducted with integrity and grace.
  Bob Dole left this Chamber a quarter of a century ago, but service to 
his beloved Kansas and his fellow Americans remained the focus of his 
life until the moment he was called home on Sunday.
  The sting of losing our friend is still fresh, but we are proud to 
celebrate this extraordinary American--now draped in the colors to 
which his entire life was dedicated and already at home in eternal 

                         Build Back Better Act

  Now, Mr. President, on an entirely different matter, on Tuesday, I 
shined a spotlight on Washington Democrats' proposed toddler takeover. 
They want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in order to upend 
families' arrangements, create massive inflation in daycare costs, and 
attack faith-based providers.
  Now, Democrats say their plan would not hurt faith-based providers 
because it wouldn't explicitly block them up front. Ah, but that is 
only a small part of the story. The reckless taxing-and-spending spree 
might not ban faith-based providers on day 1, but their scheme of 
mandates and subsidies would slowly and quietly push them out.
  The Democrats' bill would deny religious providers an extra funding 
stream for upgrading their facilities, which their secular competitors 
would actually get, and their proposal would let woke bureaucrats 
persecute faith-based groups unless they leave their values at the 
door. If a Jewish daycare wants to prioritize Jewish families, they 
could get thrown out of the Democrats' scheme for engaging in 
discrimination. A Catholic facility could be kicked out if families who 
are registered parishioners get first dibs. If a faith-based provider 
decides not to hire somebody who fundamentally rejects their teachings, 
leftwing bureaucrats and lawyers would come after them as well. The 
woke mob that stalks cake bakers and florists is now coming for church 
  Twenty-one organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of 
faith-based daycares and preschools, signed an open letter to the 
Senate. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims all wrote to 
Chairwoman Murray and Senator Burr.
  Here is what they said:

       The Build Back Better Act will suppress, if not exclude, 
     the participation of many faith-based providers. . . . 
     [P]rovisions in the bill text make it virtually impossible 
     for many religious providers to participate.

  Let me say that again:

       [P]rovisions in the bill text make it virtually impossible 
     for many religious providers to participate.

  Now, the far left says that if you don't support the toddler 
takeover, you are somehow out of touch, but they are projecting, as it 
is their Big Government scheme that is out of touch with the diverse 
aspirations of different families.
  Last year, a nonpartisan survey asked families what childcare 
arrangements they would ideally like. Apart from the pandemic, if 
finances were no obstacle, what would American parents want? The share 
who said ``center-based childcare'' was 27 percent. This is the only 
route that Democrats want to subsidize--center-based childcare. Just 27 
percent of parents say that is their ideal world, and of that 27 
percent, a majority prefer the faith-based options that Democrats would 
push out.
  Now, a larger group, nearly 40 percent, said their ideal arrangement 
would involve full-time parenting in some form, either one parent stays 
home or the two trade off. Another 9 percent said they would ideally 
like an extended relative like a grandparent to be the caregiver. Other 
families would ideally want a nanny share or a neighborhood co-op.
  The Democrats' daycare scheme would give all these people nothing--
nothing. A family that has sacrificed so much so that a mom or dad can 
stay home will not get one penny for books or supplies or make up for 
lost wages. A grandparent who leaves a part-time job to spend weekdays 
with their grandkids will not get a dime under the Democrats' plan. A 
neighborhood nanny share gets zero help.
  Forget about diversity. Forget about choice and fairness. Families 
would either enroll in a specific pathway that Big Labor and Big 
Government like best or they get nothing. Meanwhile, even in the 
centers that Democrats do want to subsidize, parents would get a very 
mixed bag.
  Analysts agree the new regulations would send costs skyrocketing. The 
District of Columbia's local government estimates that these sorts of 
policies would increase the cost of daycare by roughly $12,000 per 
child per year. Their plan would supposedly use government subsidies to 
make up this new inflation, but that assistance would be confusing and 
  So this bill manages to be wildly inflationary and wildly unfair at 
the same time. That is pretty hard to pull off--wildly unfair and 
wildly inflationary at the same time. It insults the diversity of 
American families and their aspirations. It simply hands money and 
power to the same woke bureaucrats who are letting far-left propaganda 
into K-12 schools and then sending the Department of Justice after 
parents who speak up.
  This bill would give HHS Secretary Becerra, a hard-core culture 
warrior, a giant slush fund to start shaping the care of babies and 
toddlers. And facilities and families who make different choices would 
be left facing a massively inflated market with zero help.
  This would be an awful--awful--proposal for American families, even 
if it were free. But, of course, it isn't.
  Washington Democrats don't just have to explain to parents why they 
want to make childcare more expensive, more inflexible, and more 
unfair; they also get to explain why they want to print and borrow 
hundreds of billions of dollars to do it.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Schatz). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. ERNST. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                         Green Ribbon Campaign

  Ms. ERNST. Mr. President, I am glad to be on the floor today, joined 
by my colleague Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Lindsey Graham.
  We all saw and remember the horrific images from this past summer 
when Afghanistan fell into the hands of a brutal Taliban regime. It was 
a difficult time for many of us, especially our veterans, our Gold Star 
families, and the families of the 13 servicemembers we lost during that 
disastrous exit, including the family of Marine Cpl Daegan William-
Tyeler Page of Red Oak, IA, my hometown.
  These heroes must never be forgotten. While the tragic exit from 
Afghanistan may have moved off of the front pages, and while it may not 
be top of mind for many Americans here at home, the devastating 
situation in Afghanistan is all too real for the hundreds of American 
citizens and allies who were left behind.
  The reality is, right now, U.S. citizens, green card holders, and 
SIV-eligible Afghans are still stranded behind enemy lines in 
  I am furious over the mishandling of this administration's exit from 
Afghanistan. It was a disaster from start to finish. Now, America has a 
duty and an obligation to get these people home or brought to safety, 
plain and simple.
  To those who are stranded in Afghanistan today, my message to you is 
clear: I have not forgotten you. America has not forgotten you.

[[Page S9056]]

  As my colleagues pointed out already, we are trying to find ways to 
remind Congress, the administration, and the public of those Americans 
who are still stranded in the country and the importance of taking 
action to get them home.
  As a way to remind those around that our fellow Americans are still 
stranded and that we need to get them home, I am encouraging Iowans and 
all Americans to join me, to join Senators Graham and Blumenthal in 
wearing a green ribbon this holiday season.
  We must ensure that America does not forget those who this 
administration has left behind.
  I am proud to join my colleagues today, Democrats and Republicans, to 
ensure we keep the pressure on and to get these people, including our 
fellow Americans, home at last. We cannot and we will not let them be 
  I yield the floor to Senator Blumenthal.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I am honored today to join Senator 
Ernst and Senator Graham in this call on America to honor our 
  This effort is completely bipartisan, and it is about values and 
ideals that we share and that we should reemphasize at this time of 
year, at this moment in our history, at this challenging moment in 
world history.
  We are here to support a grassroots initiative called Honor Our 
Commitment. Our goal is very simply to keep this cause present and real 
for Americans, even as we complete the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, so 
that we keep faith with the Afghan allies and their families to bring 
them to safety, to evacuate them, to enable them to escape the danger, 
death, and torture that threatens them now.
  For 20 years, these men and women helped to protect our troops and 
our diplomats. They are the translators, civil servants, humanitarian 
workers, members of the judiciary, and others who supported the U.S. 
mission in Afghanistan. They were at our side, at significant risk to 
them, sometimes in combat. I know because one of my sons was a Marine 
Corps infantry officer in Helmand Province, and he felt so deeply that 
he had an obligation to bring to safety his translator, which he was 
able to do after years of effort. There are many other translators like 
him still in danger there who went into combat with our troops and 
helped to protect them. My other son is a Navy SEAL--was. He is out 
now. But he knows as well the importance of these people on the ground 
to protect them.
  I fear for other parents in the future who will know their sons and 
daughters are in harms' way and who need those folks on the ground, the 
people who speak the language, who know the culture, who have friends 
in the community. How can we ask them to serve us when we are engaged 
in the same kind of conflict, if we fail to honor our promises to these 
men and women in Afghanistan who now have targets on their backs only 
because they helped us in moments of danger and crisis?
  Most of my colleagues, I think, share these feelings of apprehension 
and anxiety on behalf of those men and women who now are in hiding, 
many of them with their families, trying to get out.
  I strongly believe that honoring our past commitments, keeping our 
promises, as every great nation does, means establishing a clear, 
consistent, compassionate strategy for the evacuation and settlement of 
all of these individuals and their families. That is why I have called 
repeatedly for an evacuation czar, with clear Presidential direction 
and authority to implement such a strategy and coordinate all of the 
numerous Federal Agencies, with all of their individual 
responsibilities and authority, to evacuate and resettle our at-risk 
Afghan allies and their families.
  Our at-risk Afghan allies deserve no less. That is what I have said 
to the President of the United States in a letter that I have written 
to him personally. That is the reason that I offered an amendment with 
Senator Graham and Senator Ernst, which, unfortunately, was not 
included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization 
Act. And that is why I enlisted colleagues to support it. And, indeed, 
it has broad bipartisan, broad bicameral support to establish a 
strategy--very simply a strategy--to support the mission of evacuating 
those at-risk Afghan allies.
  I am saddened that the Congress has failed to require this basic plan 
and fulfill our moral obligation. That legislation directed the 
administration to develop a plan that would provide for an initial, 
expedited security screening and vetting, conducted remotely, if 
necessary, to get our allies out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible.
  We need to encourage rapid departure by air charter and land passage 
because the United States has no presence diplomatically or militarily. 
Those charter flights, the on-land passage, are the only means of 
escape right now, and the situation of these at-risk Afghan allies and 
their families is increasingly dire and dangerous.
  There are numerous humanitarian flights, independently organized and 
funded by nonprofit organizations, to expedite the evacuation process 
in parallel to U.S. Government efforts. We ought to encourage that 
assistance, not create bureaucratic hurdles to hobble these efforts.
  We need a strategy to have our government engaged with relevant 
countries to facilitate transport to third countries--or lily pads, as 
they are called--where more rigorous and thorough security screening 
and vetting can be completed before onward movement to the United 
States or other locations for resettlement.
  So I am disappointed--in fact, I am angry--that this amendment was 
not included in the National Defense Authorization Act, but I am 
committed that we will honor this commitment to these at-risk Afghan 
allies and families, and I am heartened by this green ribbon 
  And that is why I am wearing a green ribbon today and why my 
colleagues, I hope, will do so as well and why I thank my friend Sid 
Goodfriend of Greenwich, CT, for initiating this effort--and all of his 
support network.
  I want to close by thanking our veterans. I have been inspired over 
these last weeks and months by their determination to enable those 
Afghan allies who served them to escape the danger in Afghanistan. 
Their steadfast commitment is a part of the reason why I feel we need 
to honor our commitment.
  Those veterans and NGOs, the network of people, the coalition of 
groups that has worked so hard to evacuate allies against all the 
odds--and my office has been proud to work with them--have inspired me.
  I call on my colleagues in both parties and in both Chambers of 
Congress and the executive branch to continue this work until we enable 
every at-risk Afghan ally to leave Afghanistan. To do any less is an 
immense tragedy, and it will forever stain the honor of this country if 
we fail to complete this mission.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Carolina.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I want to--before Senator Blumenthal 
departs--thank him so much for bringing this to my attention. And it 
came from his constituent--the idea--Sid Goodfriend, who has truly been 
a good friend to this cause.
  And Senator Blumenthal I find to be always willing to work with you 
where he can. And the fact that he has a son who served as a Marine 
infantry officer and a son who is a Navy SEAL speaks volumes to his 
family. And to those two young men, who served at the highest level in 
the military, thank you very much.
  Mr. Goodfriend came to us with the idea of what can we do to not let 
America forget. Afghanistan is hell on Earth right now. Twenty-three 
million people are virtually starving to death. ISIS is at war with the 
Taliban. Al-Qaida is growing in influence. And people inside of 
Afghanistan are living a miserable life. Those who helped us are being 
hunted down. Special operations commandos are now having to choose 
between joining ISIS or dying.
  And the point here is not to focus on how we got here. I have got my 
views; Senator Blumenthal has his. We have agreed, when it comes to 
going forward, we have to be together. And there is plenty of blame to 
go around, so we don't need to beat on one group versus the other right 
now. What we need to focus on is what is next.
  And Senator Blumenthal's legislation that I joined with to create a 
plan, an evacuation czar, is the bare minimum we need to be doing. Out 

[[Page S9057]]

sight, out of mind does not work in this environment.
  ``Honor our commitment'' is a phrase we use to describe what we are 
trying to achieve. You can't fight these wars by yourself. If America 
has to go it alone in the war on terror, it is going to be a very dark 
period for the United States.
  The goal is to get people in the faith, in the region, to fight back 
against the radical Islamic movement that would take the whole world 
into darkness. And the good news is, for 20-something years, people 
fought. The Afghans died in large numbers in the last 5 years. I don't 
think we lost a soldier in 18 months. God bless the fallen and God 
bless the injured, but to say that the Afghans weren't fighting is just 
a dishonor to those who fell.
  And now we are out, and we have left behind people who had a choice 
between standing up to the Taliban and ISIS and al-Qaida and siding 
with us. They chose us, and now we are gone. We cannot forget them.
  I promise you, how we handle the next year or two in Afghanistan will 
determine what kind of a national security future America has. People 
are testing us all over the world right now.
  I would like to work with Senator Blumenthal and others when it comes 
to Ukraine. I want to introduce sanctions with a national security 
waiver that would allow President Biden to sanction the hell out of 
Russia based on the military buildup that threatens Ukraine, not the 
actual invasion; to give him tools where he can go to Putin and say: 
This is what Congress, in a bipartisan fashion, thinks about what you 
are doing. You go forward at your own peril.
  I would like to create legislation that would make sure this 
administration and other administrations have the direction and the 
tools they need to end this Afghan engagement with a sense of honor.
  Honorourcommitment.org--you can go to that site and get information 
about the status of people in Afghanistan. We have gotten some out, but 
we have got a lot left behind. And this green ribbon is an effort to 
remind ourselves and the Nation writ large what is at stake if we 
abandon those who fought along our side.
  I did my Reserve duty in Afghanistan on several occasions. My 
commitment was small in comparison to most, but I got to know the 
translators. I got to know the people who worked with the judges and 
the law enforcement officials to bring a rule of law to being in 
  I am sure all those who served relied upon their translators for 
their very life--not only ``What did the guy say?'' but ``Are we 
safe?'' And the bravery of Afghans to side with us should be respected 
and honored.
  And I am going to join with Senator Blumenthal and Ernst and others 
to introduce freestanding legislation. We will try to do it before the 
  And the one thing I like about Senator Blumenthal: He is the most 
tenacious guy I have ever met without being mean about it. He has a 
determination for his causes that is unparalleled.
  I can understand why your sons went in the Marine Corps and the Navy. 
I think they probably get those qualities from you and your wife.
  So we are going to take that quiet determination. We are not going to 
let this go. We are going to insist that this body vote to create a 
system to make sure that those who were with us get treated fairly.
  To the American people: You abandon those who helped us in 
Afghanistan at our own peril.
  This is a time of reckoning for the American people. It is a time of 
choosing. And I choose honor over abandonment. I choose to be a good 
ally, someone you can count on when the going gets tough. And I think 
that spirit really does describe our country.
  So the green ribbon campaign--I would like more of our colleagues to 
wear the ribbon during the holiday season to get people who are looking 
to America for hope see a demonstration of our will.
  If you travel abroad, you are shocked at how people view our country. 
We sort of fight with each other all the time that sometimes we lose 
sight of how important we are. When you travel throughout the world--I 
know the Presiding Officer does this--the people care what we think, 
and they watch what we do.
  We still, in spite of all our differences, represent the best hope of 
mankind. I really believe that. I think our military represents the 
best spirit of mankind.
  I think the men and women who fought on our behalf in Afghanistan 
wearing the American flag feel a sense of obligation to those who stood 
by them. That is why we wear the green ribbon.
  Go to honorourcommitment.org.
  To Mr. Goodfriend, thank you. The private sector is going to get 
involved. We are going to get major corporations advancing this cause.
  And what can we do beyond wear the ribbon and say a prayer?
  We can pass legislation that will make honoring our commitment real, 
not just a talking point.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. KELLY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                             Cloture Motion

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Pursuant to rule XXII, the Chair lays before 
the Senate the pending cloture motion, which the clerk will state.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to 
     concur in the House amendment to S. 610, a bill to address 
     behavioral health and well-being among health care 
         Charles E. Schumer, Tina Smith, Martin Heinrich, 
           Elizabeth Warren, Patty Murray, Tammy Duckworth, Tim 
           Kaine, Gary C. Peters, Angus S. King, Jr., Richard J. 
           Durbin, Brian Schatz, Margaret Wood Hassan, Jacky 
           Rosen, Chris Van Hollen, Jeanne Shaheen, Christopher 
           Murphy, Ron Wyden.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum 
call has been waived.
  The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate that debate on the 
motion to concur in the House amendment to S. 610, a bill to address 
behavioral health and well-being among health care professionals, shall 
be brought to a close?
  The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 64, nays 36, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 490 Leg.]


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen


     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. King). On this vote, the yeas are 64, the 
nays are 36.
  Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in 
the affirmative, the motion is agreed to.
  Cloture having been invoked, the motion to refer and the amendment 
pending thereto fall.
  The Senator from Utah.

                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 2846

  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, Pfizer released a study this week showing how 
antibodies from its vaccines respond to the Omicron variant in a lab.

[[Page S9058]]

  The company claims that three doses should provide some protection 
against the variant. It also showed that those who had previously had 
COVID and recovered demonstrated stronger immunity to the Omicron 
  While natural immunity comes at a cost, studies have shown throughout 
the pandemic that it works. Those who have recovered from COVID have 
significant protection from both catching the virus again and from the 
most severe symptomatic infections. While this is not always the case, 
and vaccination may improve immunity further, natural immunity is real. 
There are data to prove that.
  A study conducted in Italy showed that natural immunity is more 
effective than vaccines at reducing risk of future infection. Another 
study of half a million people in Denmark showed that natural immunity 
provides significant, lasting protection against infection.
  Finally, a study from three separate hospitals in Israel found that 
natural immunity from a previous COVID infection was ``twenty-seven 
times more effective than vaccinated immunity in preventing symptomatic 
  This, of course, is good news, especially considering that natural 
immunity is combining with vaccinated immunity in the general 
population. Recent data from the Nationwide Blood Donor Seroprevalence 
Survey shows that almost 92 percent of Americans over the age of 16 
have COVID antibodies from vaccination or infection. The vast majority 
of Americans have at least some protection against COVID-19--92 
  I believe the vaccines are generally safe and effective. I have been 
vaccinated, as has my family. I see these vaccines as a miracle, one 
that is helping protect many millions of Americans from the dangers 
associated with COVID-19.
  But I also recognize that millions of Americans are separately 
protected, separate and apart from anything else that might be there, 
as a result of immunity built up through their natural defenses because 
they have previously contracted and then recovered from COVID.
  Now, the science shows that this immunity is strong, that it is 
effective, and that it is really widespread in America. Astoundingly, 
that information is not frequently shared in the media and never 
mentioned by the Biden administration. In fact, the administration 
makes no effort to recognize natural immunity in its mandates or in its 
formal guidelines.
  I have asked the Biden administration to provide clarity on its 
research on natural immunity as well as meaningfully address the 
research being conducted by other countries that show natural immunity 
is strong and effective and valid. However, the Biden administration 
has yet to respond to my inquiries, inquiries that I asked, reasonably, 
to be answered no later than the beginning of this week.
  Tragically, tens of millions of Americans have superior protection 
against the virus, even from new variants, and yet this administration 
would still fire them if they don't comply with the administration's 
mandates regarding vaccination. It is as irrational as it is cruel.
  I have heard from hundreds of Utahns who are worried about losing 
their jobs due to the mandate. They are just a few of the half a 
million workers who are at risk of losing their jobs in my State. There 
are 45 million Americans altogether who could lose their jobs due to 
this unconstitutional, illegal, and immoral overstep.
  The Senate, thankfully, recognized that these jobs were worth saving 
last night. Fifty-two Senators, including Democrats and Republicans, 
stood with American workers. Now, that resolution could, of course, 
fail in the House, but it could, of course, be vetoed by the President. 
Nevertheless, regardless of that outcome, the Senate's statement last 
night rings loud and clear.
  Moreover, I hold out hope that the American people are being heard--
they are being heard in the Senate, as evidenced by last night's vote; 
they are being heard in the House of Representatives, which will take 
up this measure in the coming days.
  I hold out hope that the House, too, will pass this measure, and I 
implore the President to consider allowing it to become law.
  But regardless of what else happens, these workers need immediate, 
real, lasting protection from the threat of the mandates. One way to 
have a significant portion of these jobs protected is to recognize the 
benefits of natural immunity.
  So today I am offering a bill that would require that Federal 
Agencies recognize, accept, truthfully present, and include natural 
immunity in any regulation. This bill does not say that vaccines are 
bad or unhelpful; it merely asks the Federal Government to respect 
widely available science.
  I am glad to be joined in this effort by Senators Braun, Tuberville, 
and Sullivan, who are with me as cosponsors.
  This bill would keep Americans employed and help us beat the pandemic 
in a smart way. I urge my colleagues to support it.
  To that end, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on Health, 
Education, Labor, and Pensions be discharged from further consideration 
of S. 2846 and that the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration. 
I further ask that the bill be considered read a third time and passed 
and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, 
unfortunately, even though the Senate has had multiple exposures to 
nonsense ideas like this bill, they keep coming back.
  Agencies like the CDC and NIH are already looking closely at the data 
on COVID-19 infection and natural immunity; they have been since the 
earliest days of this pandemic.
  In an August ``Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,'' CDC actually 
assessed data from Kentucky and found that out of a group of people who 
had been infected with COVID before, those who were unvaccinated were 
twice as likely to get COVID again than people who were vaccinated.
  And a CDC report from October looked at multiple studies and 
concluded that vaccinating people who were previously infected 
significantly strengthened their immune response and reduced their risk 
from COVID.
  In other words, being unvaccinated puts you at higher risk of being 
reinfected, period. Getting vaccinated is a necessary step to protect 
you and to protect those around you.
  And now our Agencies are focused on a new variant, as we know, that 
appears to be spreading quickly throughout the world--Omicron.
  We are in the middle of the deadliest pandemic in American history. 
It has killed 785,000 people and counting. If we are going to end this, 
if we are going to reopen our economy, if we are going to save lives, 
we need to get everyone vaccinated when they are eligible.
  We certainly don't need politicians suggesting they know more than 
the experts and ignoring the data. We don't need bills meant to weaken 
one of our strongest tools to get this thing behind us, like the one 
that the Republicans have repeatedly been pressing for.
  Workplace safety standards are nothing new in this country. 
Immunization requirements are nothing new in this country.
  And let's be clear. The emergency temporary standard OSHA has put 
forward specifically provides employers the flexibility to offer 
testing as an alternative to vaccination.
  People are dying every day. Families are scared and they are tired 
and they are angry that, even as they try so hard to do the right thing 
so we can end this crisis, even after all the progress we have made to 
rebuild our economy and get students safely back in our classes, get 
people safely back to work, and get unemployment back to the lowest 
level since before this pandemic started--all that progress, all of our 
hard work is at risk of being undermined by bills like this.
  Can Republicans please stop wasting our time trying to take us 
backward and pretending they know more than the experts about this 
disease? Is that too much to ask? I think not.
  I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, it is important to remember that the fact 
that someone holds a government post and is an expert in a field does 
not make that person capable of making laws.

[[Page S9059]]

  Yes, there are lots of experts in our government; some of them hold 
high bureaucratic or other executive posts. It doesn't mean that they 
may make laws.
  By operation of the Constitution, we are the experts for purposes 
relevant to making law. We are the only organ of the Federal Government 
that may make law.
  And so anytime someone starts to say they are the experts, therefore, 
they get to make the law, that is a problem.
  To call this a ``nonsense idea,'' to refer to this as an idea that 
wastes the time of the American people, ignores the plight of almost 45 
million Americans whose jobs are being threatened right now.
  My friend and distinguished colleague, the Senator from Washington, 
has made an argument against this that doesn't match her conclusion. 
What she is stating is not that natural immunity makes no difference--
although her conclusion would seem to suggest that--what she is saying 
instead is that someone who has had COVID and recovered and therefore 
developed natural immunity could develop additional resistance to 
future infections by also being vaccinated.
  I understand this argument. In fact, it is an argument that I myself 
have used. I had COVID, I recovered from COVID, and I have been fully 
vaccinated. But the question is not whether you can gain additional 
protection from that; it is whether or not you can look at an original 
COVID infection from which someone has recovered and accept the fact 
that it offers at least a comparable degree of protection as one can 
obtain from a vaccine.
  So let's be honest about what we are and are not talking about here. 
We are talking about 45 million Americans whose jobs are being 
threatened as they head into the holidays at a time when economic 
conditions make that unusually intolerable--intolerable as a result of 
many conditions that the Federal Government itself put in place.
  In all events, this is really a bare minimum of what we can do for 
the American people. The burden should not be on them to prove why they 
should not be fired--fired by a company being threatened by the 
President of the United States with crippling fines. This is cruel. It 
is barbaric. It is not authorized by statute or the Constitution. And 
in this circumstance, they are ignoring science.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.

             Unanimous Consent Requests--Executive Calendar

  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I rise this afternoon to request 
unanimous consent to move qualified, uncontroversial nominees from the 
Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
  I ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding rule XXII, the Senate 
proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations: 
Executive Calendar Nos. 300, 348, 349, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 
421, 422, 423, 424, 425, 426, 427, 484, 485, 569, 570, 571, 589, 590, 
591, 592, 593, 594; that the nominations be confirmed and the motions 
to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no 
intervening action or debate; that no further motions be in order to 
the nominations; that any related statements be printed in the Record; 
and that the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action 
and the Senate resume legislative session.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I am sorry that we had an objection 
because right now, the HELP Committee has more than 30 nominees who are 
waiting on us to confirm them. These are qualified nominees, and they 
should be on the job and working, overseeing critical parts of the 
Department of Labor and the Department of Education, leading 
independent Agencies, and serving in very important roles. We need to 
confirm them so they can get to work on behalf of the American people, 
especially as we continue our economic recovery. If we are going to 
rebuild from this pandemic, we need all hands on deck.
  Many of the nominees whom I just tried to move by unanimous consent 
were voted out of the HELP Committee unanimously, and they have 
bipartisan support. But now my Republican colleagues are holding up all 
these nominations for manufactured reasons and in some cases, for 
absolutely no reason at all.
  That was, by the way, not our practice during President Trump's 
administration or any other administration, and it should not be the 
practice now.
  Obstructionism is not helping anyone. All this does is make it harder 
for Departments and Agencies to do their work and harder for our 
families and our communities to get the help they need.
  It should not be this difficult for the Senate to perform its 
constitutional duty and confirm nominees who are qualified and 
supported by both Democrats and Republicans. Republicans are blocking 
or have delayed nominees who received support from every Republican on 
the HELP Committee, nominees who received support from bipartisan 
groups and who will serve in nonpartisan roles, and privileged nominees 
who are supposed to be fast-tracked through the Senate as part of a 
longstanding bipartisan practice, and that, by the way, includes a 
former colleague of ours, Dennis DeConcini. Every one of these nominees 
has gone through the full process and cleared the HELP Committee.
  I am extremely frustrated that Republicans have blocked nominations 
despite their clear qualifications, the history of fast-tracking 
nominations like this in a bipartisan way, and most importantly, the 
critical challenge we are facing and the work that families are 
counting on all of us to get done. They have been blocking several 
other critical, noncontroversial nominees my colleagues have been 
pushing to confirm as well.
  We have heard plenty of excuses from across the aisle, but all we 
know is that there is no good reason for this. We know these are 
qualified nominees. We know the work they are being blocked from doing 
is important if we are going to rebuild our Nation stronger and better. 
I want my colleagues across the aisle to know that we are not going to 
give up on this side. We are going to keep pushing to get these 
nominees confirmed so they can do their jobs and get to work for the 
people and the communities of this Nation.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

             Unanimous Consent Requests--Executive Calendar

  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, shortly, I am going to be making a 
unanimous consent request in regard to the confirmations of several 
nominations that are currently pending before the U.S. Senate.
  My colleagues have been pointing out that these are unprecedented 
times with the number of Presidential nominations that have cleared our 
committee and cleared committees with overwhelming votes--in some 
cases, near unanimous votes--of people who are well qualified for the 
positions to which they have been nominated, but they cannot take their 
responsibilities, their oaths, until after we have confirmed them 
before the U.S. Senate.
  So, for reasons unrelated to their qualifications or the need to have 
confirmed nominees in positions, we have seen individual objections to 
allowing these nominations to go forward--objections from Republican 
Members of the U.S. Senate. I say that because these are unprecedented. 
We have never seen mass numbers like we have seen in this Congress.
  We have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to confirm 
Presidential nominations so that they can carry out the missions that 
we want them to carry out and the responsibilities that go with the 
reasons why we think it is important enough for the Senate to confirm 
those nominations. We then have a responsibility to take these 
nominations up in a timely way and act on them.
  Secondly, when we have a confirmed person in position, we get greater 
accountability on the responsibilities of

[[Page S9060]]

that Agency. We have a person whom we can hold accountable because of 
the actions that we have taken in confirming that individual. Both are 
missing in regard to not having these confirmed positions.
  I chair the subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 
that deals with the management of the State Department, and I am going 
to be asking unanimous consent in regard to seven nominees who passed 
out of our committees a long time ago and have been pending in the 
Senate for months. There is no question as to the qualifications of the 
individuals, but they are not able to take on the responsibilities for 
why we decided it was important enough to have nominations with the 
confirmations of the Senate. That is just not right, and I think we 
need to point that out.
  First, I want to just talk about the individuals, and then I will 
make my consent.
  One is Adam Scheinman, as the Special Representative of the President 
for Nuclear Nonproliferation, with the rank of Ambassador. The 
nomination has been pending before the full Senate since October 19--
for over 50 days.
  Adam Scheinman is the Special Representative of the President for the 
Nuclear Nonproliferation, a position that is essential to national 
security as a U.S. Special Representative on the nuclear 
nonproliferation treaties and the support of activities to strengthen 
global nuclear nonproliferation regimes. Can you think of a more 
important position?
  Mr. Scheinman is eminently qualified for the position to which he has 
been nominated, and there is no stated reason not to confirm his 
  The second is Jack Markell, to be Representative of the United States 
to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with the 
rank of Ambassador. Jack Markell is the nominee to be the Ambassador of 
the OECD, known as the heavy-weight multilateral organization in the 
area of anti-corruption and keeper of the OECD's anti-bribery 
convention, which is one of the most important international anti-
corruption treaties. We all talk about our commitment to fight 
corruption, and yet we are holding back a confirmed ambassador to that 
  Jack Markell is a former Governor and is eminently qualified for the 
position to which he has been nominated. There is no reason why we 
should not confirm his nomination.
  Marcela Escobari was appointed to be the Assistant Administrator of 
the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID. The Assistant 
Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean oversees all USAID 
activities in the region, including the 13 field offices for regional 
programs and 3 Washington, DC-based programs. Ms. Escobari served in 
the same position for which this nomination is being made under the 
Obama-Biden administration.
  I must tell you, I was on a call with Senator Blunt yesterday with 
regard to Colombia, the need to up our game in regard to USAID 
activities in that one country and so many more.
  Ms. Escobari is eminently qualified for the position to which she has 
been nominated. Indeed, she served in this position under the Obama-
Biden administration, and she should be confirmed today.
  Atul Gawande has been nominated as the Assistant Administrator of the 
United States Agency for International Development, another USAID 
appointment. He would lead the U.S. international health, development, 
and humanitarian efforts worldwide.
  Now, more than ever, we know we need a confirmed person in the USAID 
to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Our leadership is desperately 
needed. We are asking lots of international questions today from the 
Biden administration. Wouldn't it be nice to have a confirmed 
ambassador who is responsible for this?
  The nomination has been pending before the full Senate since 
September 29, for over 70 days.
  Dr. Gawande is eminently qualified for the position to which he has 
been nominated. There is no good reason not to confirm him today.
  Next will be Marcia Bernicat, as the Director General of the Foreign 
Service and Chair of the Board of the Foreign Service, Department of 
  The Director General of Foreign Service, who serves concurrently as 
the Director of Global Talent Management, is responsible for leading 
the GTM Bureau's mission of recruiting, retaining, and sustaining a 
diverse, talented, and inclusive Foreign Service and Civil Service 
workforce at the Department of State.
  The position is critical in the modernization of the State Department 
and making sure the Department is attracting and training the necessary 
talent needed to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.
  This nomination has been pending before the full Senate since 
September 13, over 86 days.
  I recently held a hearing in the subcommittee on the retention and 
training of our State Department personnel. We had lots of questions, 
lots of good things we need to do. We need a confirmed administrator in 
order to have a person responsible to carry out the changes that we 
need in regard to the personnel at the State Department. There is no 
reason why she should not be confirmed without any further delay.
  My next unanimous consent will be in regard to Julieta Valls Noyes to 
be Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and 
  Now, more than ever, with the administration dealing with a backlog 
that has been heightened by COVID and with the withdrawal from 
Afghanistan, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration needs to 
have a Senate-confirmed representative in place.
  This nomination has been pending for over 50 days.
  My colleagues on both sides of the aisle are questioning the State 
Department and asking what they are doing to get people out of 
Afghanistan. We are asking valid questions. There is no reason to hold 
up this nomination from the point of view of her qualifications.
  We need this position filled in order to carry out our responsibility 
to those Afghans who are at risk today and migrants who are at risk 
around the world.
  Lastly, I will be asking consent with regard to Anne Witkowsky, the 
nominee for Assistant Secretary for Conflict and Stabilization 
Operations and Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization.
  The Conflict and Stabilization Operation Bureau is responsible to 
anticipate, prevent, and respond to conflicts that undermine U.S. 
national interests. We are putting our national security at risk 
without leadership in the Conflict and Stabilization Bureau to assess 
how the United States will engage in emerging conflicts.
  We were trying to stop conflicts from happening. We all recognize 
that. The risk factors couldn't be greater around the world for 
conflict. We need to have a confirmed Assistant Secretary responsible 
for this portfolio in place immediately.
  This nomination was reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee on August 4. Her nomination has been awaiting confirmation 
for 126 days.
  Dr. Witkowsky is fully qualified and should be confirmed without 
further delay.
  So, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding rule 
XXII, the Senate proceed to executive session to consider the following 
nominations: Executive Calendar Nos. 323, 327, 328, 461, 462, and 528; 
that the nominations be confirmed, the motions to reconsider be 
considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or 
debate; that no further motions be in order to the nominations; that 
any related statements be printed in the Record; that the President be 
immediately notified of the Senate's actions; and the Senate resume 
legislative session.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Van Hollen). Is there objection?
  Mr. HAWLEY. Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. HAWLEY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, 
approximately 24 hours after the attack at Abbey Gate in Kabul, I had 
the privilege to speak with the father of one of the marines who lost 
his life there, a young marine from the State of Missouri, St. Charles 
County, named Jared Schmitz.
  His father, whose name is Mark, told me of the devastation of losing 
his son. He later spoke in public about his son in this way. He said:

[[Page S9061]]


       I am very honored--

  This is Mark talking about his boy Jared.

       I'm very honored that I could call him my son. His life 
     meant so much more. I'm so incredibly devastated that I won't 
     be able to see the man that he was very quickly growing into 

  Thirteen servicemembers lost their lives on that day and hundreds of 
civilians. As a result of the botched evacuation operation, hundreds, 
if not thousands, of American civilians were left behind to the enemy, 
where hundreds still remain.
  Now, I am not going to reveal the contents of my conversation with 
Mr. Schmitz, except to say something that he asked me, something that 
he told me. He told me, ``Go fight like hell,'' and that is exactly 
what I am going to do until there is accountability for the worst 
foreign policy crisis this country has suffered since the Vietnam war.
  We hear from our friends on the other side of the aisle that our 
insistence that we actually vote on nominees is unprecedented. I would 
humbly suggest that the crisis into which this President has led this 
country is unprecedented. In my lifetime, it is unprecedented.
  It is unprecedented for an American President to watch 13 
servicemembers lose their lives in an evacuation for which he is 
responsible and then to celebrate that operation as ``an unqualified 
success,'' ``an extraordinary success,'' I believe were President 
Biden's words.
  Really, an extraordinary success? Thirteen servicemembers dead, 
hundreds of civilians dead, hundreds of Americans left behind to the 
enemy--that is success? No, that is a failure. That is unacceptable.
  And who has been held accountable for this disaster? No one. Who has 
the President fired? Who has offered their resignation? Which of the 
planners at the Department of State or the Department of Defense or the 
National Security Council has been relieved of duty? No one.
  We have seen this movie before. Back to Vietnam. In Vietnam, we 
watched as the experts in Washington sent thousands and thousands of 
Americans to die, concealing the true state of the war, lying to the 
American people.
  And what happened to the people who planned that disastrous war over 
all those years? Nothing. They went on to their board seats. They went 
on to collect their fat pension checks. They went on to be celebrated. 
And who was left to pick up the pieces? It was the families of the 
fallen. It was those who lost their lives.
  Well, I, for one, am not willing to stand by and participate in that 
kind of theater again. I am not going to go back to the families of the 
fallen in my State and say that I didn't do anything while people in 
this body looked the other way. It is time that there was 
  So is this a protest that I am launching by asking the Senate to 
actually vote on these nominees? You bet it is. You bet it is because 
we don't need more leadership of the same kind in the State Department. 
We don't need more leadership of the same kind in the Department of 
Defense. We need a different kind of leadership. We need a different 
direction for this country.
  Until there is accountability, I am going to ask that the Senate do 
the simple task of its job, which is to actually vote on these 
nominees. The least we could do is observe regular order and vote on 
these leadership positions at the Department of State and at the 
Department of Defense.
  My colleague from Maryland says--and I think he is right--that we 
have got to put national security first. I agree with him about that. 
That begins at the top, with the President of the United States and the 
leadership of the Department of Defense and the Department of State. 
But I, for one, am not going to stand by and look the other way while 
this administration systematically endangers our national security, 
imperils the American people, and watches the sacrifice of our soldiers 
go by without any accountability, without any change in direction.
  I am not willing to look the other way and just pretend it didn't 
happen, which seems to be the posture that many in this body have 
adopted. I am not willing to do that. Frankly, I can't do that because 
I promised the parents of the fallen that I wouldn't do that.
  So I am going to discharge my responsibility. And as long as it 
takes, I will continue to draw attention to what happened at Abbey Gate 
and to demand accountability for it.
  If I am still here on the floor doing this in 2023, so be it; 2024, 
so be it, until somebody is held accountable. I don't care who the 
President is. I don't care what administration it is. I want to see 
accountability for what has happened in Afghanistan, what happened to 
those servicemembers, and what happened to those hundreds of civilians 
who are even now left behind enemy lines to the enemy.
  I would just note one other thing about the situation we are in, vis-
a-vis these nominees. While I can ask that there be a vote on the floor 
of the Senate, I certainly can't prevent that vote. So you might ask 
yourself: Why in the world, if these nominations are so important--and, 
by the way, I agree that these are leadership positions. That is, in 
fact, why I am asking for a vote. These are leadership positions to the 
Department of State, in this case, the Department of Defense in other 
cases. But why in the world we haven't voted? I can't prevent a vote. 
None of my colleagues can prevent a vote.
  The answer is, ask Senator Schumer. My friends control the floor. 
Senator Schumer is the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, and what has 
he had the Senate doing? Well, not much.
  Last week, over a 3-day period--3 days--how many votes did the U.S. 
Senate take? One. For 2 full days, we were in session. How many votes 
did the U.S. Senate take on any subject? Zero. If these were such 
pressing priorities, why isn't the Senate majority leader putting them 
on the floor for a vote? I have no earthly idea other than, apparently, 
he just can't get his act together to do it.
  Here we are. It is 2:15 in the afternoon on a Thursday.
  Are we voting?
  How many votes have we taken today?
  Will we be voting tomorrow?
  I doubt it.
  Will we be voting next week?
  Who knows. Apparently it is not that much of a priority.
  So Senator Schumer has a lot to answer for in many regards, not the 
least of which is his defense of the indefensible Afghanistan debacle 
and the loss of life there. But he also should take a look in the 
mirror. And I humbly suggest that my colleagues across the aisle might 
want to question him as to why these nominations that they insist are 
so important aren't being put on the floor to be voted on.
  I would be happy to vote on them anytime, but I am not going to 
consent to waving them through and waiving regular order until there is 
some accountability for the disaster that this administration has 
pushed upon this country and upon the people of my State.
  Now, I have one other--before I object--and I am going to object, Mr. 
President. Before I do, I want to pick up one piece of bookkeeping 
item, bookkeeping issue with my colleague, the Senator from Maryland. 
Let me just say this while I am on that subject. The Senator from 
Maryland is across the aisle. I want to be clear about this with my 
colleague, the Senator from Maryland, whom I have worked with many 
times before.
  I don't doubt for a moment his sincerity or his earnestness on this 
issue. And I know that he thinks that these nominations are pressing 
and that they are important, and I agree with him. And I am sure that 
he is frustrated by the fact that we disagree on the right way to get 
accountability in Afghanistan. I acknowledge that. It is an honest 
  So I don't want my remarks in any way to suggest in any fashion that 
I question the integrity or the uprightness or the sincerity of my 
colleague from Maryland, and I just wanted to say to him that two of 
the nominations that he read out I don't have any objection to: Adam 
Scheinman and Jack Markell. So if the Senator were willing to reoffer 
those separately, I think he certainly would encounter no objection 
from me.
  But with all of that, Mr. President, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard.
  The Senator from Maryland.

[[Page S9062]]


  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I would be willing to modify to get those 
two nominations approved. I want to be clear. I have been told that 
there may be other objections on the other side of the aisle. I would 
like to get them done right now, if possible. I would modify my request 
to get these two nominations done.
  I have been told that there is a Republican objection to the other 
two nominations.
  Let me just conclude this part of the discussion by saying I 
understand that you have a right to demand a vote, but you are 
requiring us to file cloture, which means basically it is a filibuster. 
And under the Senate rules, that requires an intervening day; it 
requires a vote and debate on the cloture motion; then debate time. And 
there are only a certain number you can get done within a period of 
time while other ones are pending.
  So the fact that we are not able to have a process to conclude these 
nominations is not the majority leader's fault. It is the fault of the 
massive objections that are being made en bloc to qualified individuals 
in regards to these appointments.
  And I understand the gentleman's concerns, but the American people 
have a right to demand that there is an accountable person to deal with 
nonproliferation, that there is a confirmed nominee to deal with the 
remaining individuals that are in Afghanistan that we are trying to get 
out of Afghanistan. And by denying the confirmations of these 
appointments, we are denying the rights of Americans to have 
accountable people confirmed by the Senate in regards to all of these 
important subjects.
  So, for all those reasons, I am disappointed. I will take back to my 
colleagues the offer in regards to the two individuals that the 
gentleman mentioned. And if we can clear those two, we will try to 
bring them back to the floor and get them cleared. So I appreciate that 
offer, and we will see what we can do about getting those two 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic whip.

                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 426

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, after Watergate, Congress passed the 
Inspector General Act, creating independent watchdogs who would ensure 
integrity, transparency, and accountability for executive branch 
Agencies and officials.
  Since then, inspectors general have played a vital role in exposing 
misconduct by administrations of both political parties. Over the 
years, IGs have proven indispensable--so much so that Congress has 
repeatedly expanded their ranks--originally 12 after the 1978 Inspector 
General Act, to now 74 separate, independent inspectors general in the 
Federal Government.
  In 1988, Congress created several new inspectors general, including 
an inspector general for the Department of Justice. The IG oversees 
Justice Department components ranging from the FBI to the Federal 
Bureau of Prisons and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
  But there is a problem. There is a loophole. There is one clear 
omission when it comes to the authority of the inspector general. 
Listen. The Justice Department inspector general cannot investigate 
professional misconduct by Justice Department lawyers. Let me repeat 
that. The Justice Department inspector general cannot investigate 
misconduct by Justice Department lawyers.
  This means the Department's independent inspector general cannot 
investigate allegations of misconduct by lawyers in the Department's 
National Security Division, Criminal Division, 93 offices of U.S. 
attorneys, or even the Attorney General himself.
  Well, what does this result in?
  All too often, Justice Department officials from the administrations 
of both political parties have escaped independent scrutiny by the 
inspector general.
  The IG was unable to investigate, for example, discovery violations 
during the prosecution of our former colleague Ted Stevens. The 
inspector general was unable to investigate the unethical non-
prosecution agreement with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. And absent 
approval by the Attorney General or his deputy, the inspector general 
cannot investigate professional misconduct by high-ranking Department 
of Justice political appointees.
  This lawyer loophole, of all places, is unique to the Justice 
Department. The Department of Justice--I want this clear for the 
record--is the only, only, Agency in the Federal Government whose 
inspector general cannot investigate professional misconduct by Agency 
lawyers. I hope that is clear.
  Inspectors general investigate the activity and conduct of lawyers in 
every other Federal Agency other than the Department of Justice. 
Instead, DOJ lawyers get special treatment. They aren't subject to the 
inspector general like every other Federal agency. Instead, they are 
under the supervision of the Department's Office of Professional 
Responsibility, known as OPR.
  Now, I don't dispute the skill or dedication of OPR. The problem is 
not their qualifications; it is their independence.
  Listen to this. Unlike the inspector general, OPR reports to the 
Attorney General, who can control and even terminate investigations. 
This doesn't happen in any other Federal Agency. This creates an unfair 
double standard where every other DOJ employee is subject to inspector 
general scrutiny.
  So if you are an FBI agent, the inspector general is going to be 
watching your conduct to make sure it is proper. Drug enforcement 
agents in the Department of Justice, subject to the inspector general; 
U.S. marshals, subject to the inspector general; Federal prison guards, 
inspector general. They can all be investigated by the independent 
inspector general, except for the lawyers. And it enables the 
appearance, if not the reality, of politicization in cases where the 
alleged misconduct involves high-ranking Department attorneys.
  For years, literally decades across administrations, other Senators 
before us and Senator Lee and myself now have worked to close the 
lawyer loophole with our Inspector General Access Act. He advocated for 
this bill when Bill Barr was the Attorney General of President Trump. I 
am advocating for this bill when Merrick Garland is the Attorney 
General of President Biden.
  You would be hard pressed to find a bill with broader-based 
bipartisan support. Our original cosponsors include--and he is here 
today on the floor--my colleague Senator Grassley, the ranking member 
of the Judiciary Committee; Senators Leahy, Feinstein, Rubio, 
Klobuchar, Cruz, Coons, Blackburn, Blumenthal, and Hirono, to name a 
  Last year, we considered this bill in the Judiciary Committee and we 
reported it out of the committee after a debate, and the vote was 21 to 
1 to bring this bill to the floor. Unfortunately, it didn't pass last 
year. It passed the House. It passed again this year in the House.
  This broad support reflects a basic principle: No Attorney General 
from either political party should be insulated from independent 
scrutiny by the inspector general; and no Attorney General should have 
veto power over the inspector general's authority to investigate 
Department of Justice attorneys, whether that Attorney General is a 
Democrat or a Republican.
  Mr. President, I would like at this point to yield to my colleague 
Senator Lee.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, it is important to remember every Agency 
within the Federal Government has an inspector general. Inspectors 
general play an important role in every Agency, and they are there for 
the purpose of independently reviewing the actions of those who operate 
that Agency.
  Everywhere you look, these inspectors general serve with 
independence, and what we see from them is work product that is 
publicly released and can be digested by the public. It is a helpful 
resource not only for the American people but also to us personally as 
Members of the U.S. Senate, who, in our capacity as Senators, have the 
ability and, in fact, the duty of exercising oversight over Federal 
  With respect to the U.S. Department of Justice, a body that really is 
all about law and has a lot of lawyers, to put it very mildly, you end 
up with a dichotomy--a dichotomy that can't be found anywhere else.
  In every other Federal Agency, the inspector general is able to do 
his or

[[Page S9063]]

her job, to conduct research, to do evaluations, issue public reports. 
And those reports allow us to exercise our oversight responsibilities. 
They also allow the American people to know what is going on in the 
Agency in question.
  We have got a difference within the Department of Justice. If you are 
a lawyer within the Department of Justice, you are covered by the 
Office of Professional Responsibility.
  Now, I want to point out a couple of differences within the Office of 
Professional Responsibility--between OPR, as it is called, and the 
Office of Inspector General. These don't reflect any idea that one is 
bad and the other one isn't. They are just different.
  The Office of Professional Responsibility does operate on a 
confidential basis. It operates in secret. And I don't use that term 
denigratingly. It is there to perform a specific, highly specialized 
  See, lawyers have a separate set of ethical rules and standards they 
are expected to abide by. The Department of Justice, employing a lot of 
lawyers, wants to make sure that there is some degree of consistency 
and discipline within the practice of law. They want to make sure that 
the relative interests, the privacy, and the professionalism of the 
attorney can be balanced with their other investigative demands.
  But the inspector general has a different function. The inspector 
general isn't there to evaluate whether or to what extent and in what 
way any of the highly specialized, sometimes complex, nuanced rules of 
professional responsibility affecting lawyers in the practice of law 
are concerned. No. The inspector general has a much different role.
  So that is one difference, is that one has a public-facing role; the 
other one has a private-facing role affecting the individual attorney 
or attorneys under investigation.
  Secondly--and this one is perhaps even more significant in its 
impact--the inspector general operates independently of the Attorney 
General. The head of the Office of Professional Responsibility, by 
contrast, reports directly to the Attorney General of the United States 
and can be fired by the Attorney General of the United States.
  This is a big difference, and it is a difference we don't see 
replicated in any other Federal Agency--not with lawyers, not with any 
other regulated professional class that I am aware of--nor should we, 
because, if we were to do that, we would end up creating problems.
  So this is not about a perceived inadequacy or a perceived culture of 
corruption within the Department of Justice created by the Office of 
Professional Responsibility.
  That is not at all what I am saying. In fact, I believe the people 
who operate the Department of Justice, the lawyers of the Department of 
Justice, including those who operate the Office of Professional 
Responsibility, by and large do their job and do their job well and 
faithfully. But insofar as we allow them to do their job in such a way 
that it precludes any ability by the inspector general of the 
Department of Justice to penetrate section 8E of the Inspector General 
Act insofar as it insulates the operations of the U.S. Department of 
Justice from investigation of the sort that we have come to expect and 
rely on from the Office of Inspector General, it is going to be a 
  Within the Department of Justice in particular, it is a big problem. 
I think it would be unwise in any Federal Agency for us to say: OK, the 
IG can do anything that the IG needs to do unless there is a lawyer 
involved. I think that would be dangerous anywhere because you do have 
lawyers involved, but it is especially dangerous at the Department of 
Justice because so much of what they do is law, is necessarily 
performed by people who are lawyers.
  What happens is that we see countless dead ends where, because the 
Office of Professional Responsibility has jurisdiction, the inspector 
general may not tread. They hit dead end after dead end. In the absence 
of evidence of actual criminal misconduct, they can't proceed, and 
nobody else can penetrate it. It ought not take evidence of criminal 
accountability--of criminal liability to enable the inspector general 
to do his or her job.
  There are myriad circumstances where someone might engage in 
unseemly, unethical, unwise behavior within the Department. Whether 
they are lawyers or whether they are not and separate and apart from 
whether those deviate from the professional standards imposed by the 
State bar of any State, by the rules of any court, or the professional 
standards for lawyers operating within the U.S. Department of Justice, 
there is an adequate, independent, freestanding interest that the 
American people have in being able to gain access to that information. 
But, alas, since 1988, section 8E of the Inspector General Act has 
precluded his visibility. This needs to stop.
  As my friend and colleague the Senator from Illinois stated so well 
moments ago, this bill is not either Republican or Democratic; it is 
not liberal or conservative. I have been a proud supporter of this bill 
and sponsored this bill during a Republican administration because I 
believe that regardless of who is in power, we need visibility into the 
Department of Justice--visibility that we have in every other Federal 
Agency, every one. We lack it here. We lack it here with respect to a 
whole lot of what the Department of Justice does because of this 
loophole in section 8E. What benefit does this bring to the American 
people? To the extent there are benefits there, I respectfully submit, 
they don't even come close to offsetting what we lose in terms of 
  We need this. We need it now as much as ever. I implore my colleagues 
to support it.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois is recognized.
  Mr. DURBIN. I thank the Senator from Utah for his cosponsorship of 
this bipartisan measure.
  I want to yield at this point to the ranking Republican member of the 
Senate Judiciary Committee. I can't think of a single Member on either 
side of the aisle who has been as outspoken as Senator Grassley of Iowa 
on the role and the importance of inspectors general.
  I yield the floor to Senator Grassley.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Thank you, Senator Durbin, and thank you, Senators 
Durbin and Lee, for bringing some common sense to the principles of 
checks and balances of government.
  In this particular case, it is not checks and balances between the 
legislative branch and the executive branch so much as it is injecting 
another level of checks on abusive authority within the executive 
  So I strongly support this act and the bipartisan work of you two 
Senators to bring greater accountability to the attorneys at the 
Department of Justice.
  Congress created the inspectors general to be independent. They don't 
just investigate whatever their Agency or Congress might want them to; 
the law says that inspectors general shine a light on waste, fraud, and 
abuse in Federal Agencies. Sometimes transparency is very 
uncomfortable, but it is extremely necessary.
  You are not going to get real accountability if you have an Agency's 
employees policing themselves. Right now, the only folks who can 
investigate the Justice Department attorneys are other Justice 
Department attorneys. This system erodes public trust and creates clear 
conflict of interest.
  For example, the Justice Department attorneys reviewed the plea 
agreement given to serial child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. I note 
that many of my colleagues here found that internal review 
``substantively inadequate.'' Those are words from my colleagues. Had 
the inspector general conducted the review, he might have gotten 
somewhere with it, just like he did with the behavior of FBI agents in 
the Larry Nassar case. What if we had left that investigation to the 
FBI to police itself?
  This is why the Justice Department inspector general has identified 
as the Agency's No. 1 top management challenge ``strengthening public 
trust'' in the Justice Department. One way to fix that is to make sure 
the independent inspector general has the same authority over all 
Department employees. Why do FBI analysts and DEA agents require more 
independent scrutiny than Department attorneys? This is so simple that 
even a lawyer could get this.

[[Page S9064]]

  I heard rumors that my friend Senator Cotton may be objecting to 
this--a person I agree with 90 percent of the time. It seems to be very 
uncharacteristic. He and I believe alike that there are two ways of 
doing business in the United States: life, liberty, and the pursuit of 
happiness or let the bureaucrats run everything. And I know Senator 
Cotton is a person who doesn't think bureaucrats should run everything. 
In this case, nothing is reviewable by people who make a decision not 
to produce this. That is the height of irresponsibility.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Iowa for his 
spirited support of this effort. I am glad he used that classic 
example. Of all the hearings--and we have had many good ones and many 
important ones--in the Senate Judiciary Committee this year. The one we 
all remember is when the gymnasts came, the Olympic gymnasts came. 
These wonderful, young women came before us and summoned the courage to 
tell us about the abuse that took place by a man who purported to be a 
doctor, Larry Nassar.
  Sitting next to them during the entire presentation was the head of 
the FBI, taking the medicine he should have taken, because the 
inspector general gave us a graphic report of how the agents at the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation let those young women down. When they 
summoned the courage to come forward and tell the world what had 
happened to them, it was virtually ignored by the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation. Thank goodness the inspector general was there to be 
critical, to produce the evidence, and to make it clear to the American 
people that this conduct was disgusting and deplorable and 
  The inspector general was critical for the administration of justice. 
Why is it any different if, instead of an attorney who works for the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation, we are talking about an attorney who 
works in a U.S. Attorney's Office somewhere in the United States or in 
the Department of Justice itself? It shouldn't make a difference.
  As Senator Grassley and Senator Lee have made clear, all we are 
asking for is the same level of accountability for attorneys in the 
Department of Justice that applies to every other Federal Agency. Why 
are we treating these attorneys any differently?
  Senator Grassley makes the point--we are succumbing to bureaucratic 
deference at a time when we ought to have our eyes wide open, and wide 
open, we would see that this bill, which was extensively debated and 
discussed last year and reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee 
under the chairmanship of Senator Graham by a vote of 21 to 1, wasn't 
called on the calendar. We are bringing it back this year in the same 
manner. The bill has not changed. We are bringing it back this year, 
and I believe now is the time for us to do what is right for the cause 
of justice.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on the 
Judiciary be discharged from further consideration of S. 426 and the 
Senate proceed to its immediate consideration; further, that the bill 
be considered read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider 
be considered made and laid upon table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Arkansas is recognized.
  Mr. COTTON. Mr. President, I oppose passage of the Inspector General 
Act. This bill or similar versions of it have been around for at least 
a decade now. To my knowledge, the Judiciary Committee hasn't had a 
hearing on this specific issue--certainly hasn't had one this year.
  As my colleagues have said, this bill has bipartisan support, and 
they have a principled position on the bill. The Senator from Illinois 
pointed out that he supports the bill now that Merrick Garland is the 
Attorney General, just like the Senator from Utah supported it when 
Bill Barr was the Attorney General, just like the Senator from Iowa 
supported it when Bill Barr was the Attorney General. So it is true it 
has bipartisan support. Bipartisanship can cut another way as well.
  To my knowledge, every Attorney General, both Democratic and 
Republican, has opposed this bill since the very beginning of the 
inspector general for the Department of Justice.
  Both the Senator from Illinois and the Senator from Utah used the 
word ``loophole''--a loophole that an inspector general can't 
investigate attorneys in the Department of Justice. That implies it was 
an unintended consequence. That simply is not the case.
  In 1988, when Congress created the inspector general for the 
Department of Justice, Congress had detailed negotiations with the 
Department of Justice under the leadership of Attorney General 
Thornburgh, and they reached a compromise to keep investigations of 
allegations of attorney professional misconduct within the 
responsibility of the Office of Professional Responsibility.
  In 2007, Eric Holder--not someone whom I usually cite as an 
authority--after he had been the Deputy Attorney General, called an 
earlier version of this bill ``deleterious and unnecessary,'' and he 
said he ``believe[s] strongly'' that it ``would create additional 
opportunities for improper political concerns to influence law 
enforcement decisions.'' In other words, Eric Holder thought the bill 
would compound the problem it purported to address.
  In 2017, the Department of Justice once again articulated similar 
concerns with the bill.
  Just yesterday, I can relay, the esteemed Judge Michael Mukasey--also 
a former Attorney General--said that he opposed the expansion of 
inspector general authority into allegations of attorney professional 
misconduct, which has always been handled competently by the Office of 
Professional Responsibility. Judge Mukasey also relayed that he would 
be happy to testify at a hearing at a later date on such legislation.
  I share some of those same concerns raised about this bill, and I 
think at the very least we should have a hearing on what would be a 
significant change in the way the Department polices allegations of 
attorney misconduct to study its relevance and its impact.
  I want to note that the Office of Professional Responsibility 
historically has conducted its investigations with integrity and 
competence. I did not hear any allegations to the contrary today 
either. That is in part because it is composed of attorneys--both 
former prosecutors and former defense attorneys--who have decades--
decades--of experience and a special expertise in legal ethics rules 
and the many complicated decisions any Department attorney makes in the 
process of charging grand jury proceedings or jury trials. The 
inspector general and his investigators simply do not have that 
expertise. The inspector general is charged with investigating waste, 
fraud, and abuse.
  We also heard some today about independence and alleged conflicts of 
interest. I have to say I am also concerned that this bill would create 
a serious conflict of interest itself if the inspector general is given 
broad authority to investigate allegations of attorney professional 
  The inspector general can and does refer criminal matters to 
Department prosecutors. Let's say a prosecutor declines to prosecute 
one of these referrals. An inspector general could then come up with 
any reason to investigate that prosecutor.
  I think we all agree that the determination of who will be prosecuted 
or not be prosecuted lies with and must constitutionally lie with the 
Attorney General and that the inspector general should not be able to 
influence who is prosecuted or not prosecuted with the looming threat 
of potential investigation.
  I, of course, as the Senator from Iowa said, do not want to see a 
government of the bureaucrats. But I would point out that the inspector 
general is a bureaucrat. The Attorney General is a politically 
accountable officer of the United States.
  I also have concerns that this bill could empower criminals.
  Criminals can additionally use the inspector general to try to harass 
Federal prosecutors by making unfounded targets of Federal 
investigations. With the wrong inspector general and with the wrong 
political climate, a career prosecutor could be under pressure by 
leftwing jailbreak advocates into dropping cases against violent 

[[Page S9065]]

pursuing cases against police officers who have broken our laws. It is 
not surprising that this bill is supported by leftwing groups such as 
the ACLU, Demand Progress, and the Brennan Center.
  The inspector general could easily weaponize professional misconduct 
investigations also to defeat anti-crime policies the executive branch 
chooses to pursue. Imagine, for instance, an inspector general who 
refused to dismiss allegations of racism when the U.S. Attorneys' 
Office simply chooses to prioritize gun prosecutions in high-crime 
areas. Such investigations have a chilling factor, of course, on other 
offices for prioritizing similar prosecutions.
  We also heard some about transparency. But I would note this bill 
does not necessarily provide more transparency, because, just like the 
Office of Professional Responsibility, the inspector general is 
governed by the Privacy Act, rules pertaining to grand jury materials 
and court orders sealing documents. This bill would not change that.
  If it is punishment and sanctions that the bill is concerned about, I 
would also note that the Office of Professional Responsibility is not 
responsible for the legal level of discipline imposed. That falls, 
instead, to the Professional Misconduct Review Unit, the unit created 
by then-Attorney General Eric Holder in 2014. Expansion of inspector 
general jurisdiction would not change where that responsibility falls.
  I, of course, share concerns with my colleagues about politically 
motivated prosecutions or prosecutions pursued by so-called glory 
seekers. But I do not want to proceed down a path where we 
unintentionally exacerbate the very problem we are trying to solve. 
Therefore, Mr. President, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. I am disappointed by the objection by the Senator from 
  This has overwhelmingly bipartisan support in the House and in the 
Senate, and we had an opportunity to make history today and we missed 
that opportunity for the moment.
  The suggestion that inspectors general are not up to the job of 
inspecting attorneys, I am afraid if you look at the fact that every 
other Federal Agency's lawyers are subject to review and scrutiny by 
the inspector general of their departments, it certainly says that 
particular observation is not accurate.
  The argument that the Attorney General, because he is approved by the 
President directly and by Congress, should be the person to make this 
decision overlooks the obvious. Each inspector general goes through the 
approval process, the nomination process, and advise and consent of the 
Senate. So they are subject to the same level of scrutiny.
  I might also add that what we are suggesting has been an evolution 
that I think really calls for this change that we have asked for in 
this measure. In the course of that evolution, in the year 2002, the 
inspector general's responsibilities were extended within the 
Department of Justice to apply to both the FBI and DEA agents who are 
involved, obviously, in significant law enforcement operations within 
the Department. The inspector general has handled that responsibility 
without jeopardizing any prosecutions. So I think that argument is 
certainly a weak argument when you look at the facts since 2002.
  We will return with this. I am glad to have bipartisan support of 
Senators Lee and Grassley, who will have more to say on the subject.
  I believe if we are going to apply this standard of IG responsibility 
for lawyers' activity across Federal Government, there is no reason to 
make an exception for the Department of Justice.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, I agree with and echo the observations made 
by my friend and distinguished colleague, the Senator from Illinois. I 
would like to add a couple of things in response to the observations 
and remarks presented by the Senator from Arkansas.
  One of the points that he made that I feel compelled to respond to is 
he expressed concern about what he describes as potential weaponization 
of--I feel compelled to respond, in particular, to his argument that 
the Inspector General Access Act could result in the weaponization of 
allegations of attorney misconduct within the Department of Justice and 
that this could be used in circumstances to intimidate, threaten, and 
harass Department of Justice attorneys, including prosecutors, for 
either taking or not taking actions in retaliation to the same.
  This is always a concern. It is a concern that follows government, 
generally. It is, in particular, a concern that follows Federal 
prosecutors. It is also not a concern that is unique to the Inspector 
General Access Act.
  With or without passage of this, there is always a risk of that 
happening. Nothing about that risk that we immunize ourselves from by 
leaving intact the loophole--and it is a loophole. It is a deliberate 
carve-out in Section 8E of the Inspector General Act. It is a loophole. 
And my friend from Arkansas is right, it is not unintended. It is 
intentionally created. It was there for a reason. I don't mean to 
suggest any nefarious motive on the part of those who created it, but 
it might have been a shortsighted move at the time. It has, at least, 
in time, exposed a vulnerability in Democratic and Republican 
administrations alike.
  If the risk is weaponizing allegations of professional misconduct 
against Department of Justice lawyers, that is not something that we 
are immune from today. It is something that I am certain the Office of 
Professional Responsibility deals with all the time. It doesn't mean we 
make ourselves more vulnerable to it. It is simply by allowing the 
inspector general of the Department of Justice to do his or her job 
without regard to who is a lawyer and who is not, and without regard to 
this special carve-out for this one Federal Agency that makes it 
different from every other Federal Agency, including what makes 
Department of Justice lawyers different from attorneys in every Federal 

  If the risk is that you might have people who, for bad reasons, might 
make up allegations of misconduct, there is no more risk of that with 
an inspector general than there is with the Office of Professional 
  Here, again, they perform different functions. One of them is there 
specifically to deal with the rules of professional responsibility 
within the practice of law by Department of Justice lawyers. That is 
their focus. Their focus is not a broad one. Their focus does not 
include or extend to issuing a public report to inform the public about 
abuses of power.
  My friend from Arkansas is right. They can go in--if there are 
allegations of criminal misconduct and if they have evidence of the 
same that they have to pursue--yes, they can do that. That doesn't mean 
we don't need an inspector general capable of doing the job of the 
inspector general.
  He also made the argument that there is no expertise among and 
between inspectors general with regard to handling allegations of 
attorney misconduct. If that is true, the same can be said of all other 
attorneys and all other departments.
  My friend from Arkansas does correctly point out that attorneys 
within the Department of Justice--at least some of them do--perform 
different functions than what we see from attorneys in other Federal 
Agencies. That part is true. But that doesn't mean inspectors general 
assigned to the Department of Justice don't have the expertise 
necessary to investigate the types of allegations that they typically 
  My friend from Arkansas also points out inspectors general tend to 
focus on allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse. Yes, this is 
absolutely true, and this is absolutely why we should not limit the 
access that inspectors general in the Department of Justice have to 
attorneys. Remember, this is a department that is all about law. It is 
focused on law. It is, therefore, not surprising that they have an 
unusual abundance of lawyers.
  You know what the Office of Professional Responsibility is not 
focused on--is not really their role; they are not involved in; they 
are not trained in--their focus is not on issuing public reports and 
informing the American

[[Page S9066]]

people of allegations of things like waste, fraud, and abuse, 
generally. They have a much narrower function and perform that function 
especially well. They perform it laudably, and they do a great job of 
doing it.
  It is not the same thing as an IG. We need IGs with access to 
visibility into the Department of Justice. We don't have it now. We 
haven't since 1988. Thirty-three years is long enough. Let's close the 
8E loophole and give the Department of Justice inspector general the 
access needed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.

                          Biden Administration

  Ms. ERNST. Mr. President, do you hear what I hear?
  Before the prancing and pawing of each little hoof of Santa's eight 
tiny reindeer will be heard on the roof, there is a joyful sound that 
denotes the coming of the yuletide season in just a few instantly 
recognizable notes.
  Of course, I am talking about Mariah Carey's ``All I Want for 
Christmas Is You.'' While it has become a holiday classic, the song is 
taking on a whole new meaning this season.
  If, like Mariah, you don't want a lot for Christmas and don't care 
about the presents underneath the Christmas tree, this may be your 
year. That is because Bidenomics is causing everything to be back-
ordered, delayed, unavailable, or just plain unaffordable. Even 
Christmas trees are in short supply. So don't be surprised if your only 
option to deck the halls this year looks like Charlie Brown's sad 
little twig of a fir tree branch.
  Whether shopping at a store or online, we are all experiencing it. 
With the cost of gifts up 20 percent and consumer prices surging to the 
highest level in over 30 years, you are paying a ho ho whole lot more 
for a ho ho whole lot less; that is if you can even find what you are 
looking for.
  Perhaps the most telling sign of the times, the Dollar Tree--which 
had to discontinue selling some of its popular products due to cost 
constraints--is raising prices to $1.25.
  President Biden's contribution to this year's season of giving could 
best be summed up by an elf on an empty shelf. After all, the Biden 
administration has ignored, dismissed, and even contributed to the 
conditions causing these economic hardships.
  Speaking at the White House just last week, the President actually 
claimed his efforts have resulted in ``shelves across the country being 
well-stocked.'' That may be true at his White House gift shop, but not 
in the stores in Iowa and across the country. The supply chain problem 
is such a mess, not even Rudolph with his nose so bright can guide all 
of the barges stuck at sea into port by Christmas night.
  The Democrats' out-of-control spending spree and misguided economic 
policies, like paying people not to work for most of the year, have 
decreased both the availability of goods, as well as the value of the 
money in your wallet.
  For folks in Iowa and the rest of the Nation who are working longer 
hours due to labor shortages or just to keep up with the skyrocketing 
prices, this has created a real-life ``Nightmare Before Christmas.''
  As a result, a record number of Americans say they won't be buying 
gifts this year. But rather than addressing these concerns, ``Bare 
Shelves Biden'' is pushing his so-called Build Back Better Act, which 
itself is a Christmas tree bill adorned with something for every 
leftwing special interest group and topped off with a massive $300 
billion tax break for coastal elites.
  For those millionaires on their wish list who literally have 
everything, DC Democrats are wrapping up a generous tax cut worth 
nearly $17,000. To no one's surprise, those benefitting the most from 
this tax giveaway live in or around the San Francisco Congressional 
District represented by Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and the State of New 
York, home of the Senate majority leader. It is a lot like a plot twist 
to Charles Dickens' classic, ``A Christmas Carol.''
  But instead of learning to embrace the giving spirit of Christmas, 
Scrooge receives a tax handout paid for out of the pockets of essential 
workers struggling to provide for their own families. What a bunch of 
  Santa Claus, I don't know if you are listening, but if you are, when 
you're making your list and checking it twice, remember that President 
Biden promised taxpayers that his Build Back Better plan costs zero 
dollars, doesn't waste any money on tax breaks for the wealthy, and 
adds--you guessed it--zero dollars to the national debt.
  To no one's surprise, that promise ended up being a fa-la-la-la-lot 
of malarkey. The truth is the Biden bill costs $1.7 trillion, adds $376 
billion to our debt and gives a huge tax cut to millionaires.
  While the President certainly deserves a stocking full of coal for 
breaking his promises to taxpayers, even coal is in short supply at the 
moment, and the price has soared to the highest level in more than 12 
  Other energy prices, whether to warm your home or fill up the gas 
tank of your car, are also up sharply. The President has done his part 
to limit fuel supplies by signing Executive orders to further restrict 
access to oil and gas.
  After enduring nearly 2 years of making sacrifices, folks should not 
have to now choose between heating their house, buying food for their 
families, or putting gifts under the tree.
  So rather than passing another one of President Biden's budget 
busting bills, the best gift that Washington can give taxpayers is to 
keep this from being a blue Christmas and simply stop making matters 
  Folks who have worked hard all year desperately deserve a break from 
the economic pressures being caused by Bidenomics so they can enjoy 
some time with their families. And unlike last Christmas, we can once 
again rediscover the true meaning of this holiday season by spending 
time with those we love the most, just like Mariah sings about, ``Make 
my wish come true, all I want for Christmas is you.''
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Cortez Masto). The Senator from Iowa.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Well, following on the Christmas season message that we 
just heard, this season is around the corner, and Democrats are 
scrambling very, very hard to deliver on their liberal wish list before 
the end of the year. And that's not a Christmas list that people--or an 
agenda that people are going to accept very well, from what I've heard 
about the opposition to the trillions of dollars that they are trying 
to spend.
  This grab bag of long-sought, new government programs is a top 
priority for Washington Democrats. Meanwhile, the bigger concern that I 
hear around Iowa is rising prices on everything from gas, to food, to 
home goods.
  Americans doing their holiday shopping this year are finding items 
out of stock and, when in stock, paying far more for less. Even the 
Christmas tree is no exception. Christmas tree prices are up 30 
  Overall, consumer prices were up 6.2 percent on an annual basis in 
the month of October--a 31-year high. Economists polled by the Wall 
Street Journal expect November inflation to shoot up to 6.7 percent. 
Even some analysts are saying that it could be closer to 7 percent.
  Americans are experiencing the highest inflation in a generation. The 
last thing they need for Christmas is another Democrat spending 
boondoggle further fanning the flames of inflation.
  They ought to listen to their own Democrat economists. Larry Summers, 
former Secretary of Treasury in the Clinton administration, Council of 
Economic Advisers in the Obama administration, warning us in January, 
again in April, again in August, again in October, I saw on television. 
They're pouring fires on the--gasoline on the fires of inflation.
  Unfortunately, unless our voices of reason within the Democratic 
Party prevail, that's exactly what they are going to get, more 
inflation. Democrats say there is nothing to worry about because--to 
quote Treasury Secretary Yellen--their bill is, ``fully paid for.''
  We know that's not true. But even the Washington Post isn't buying 
Yellen's statement, and they said that by awarding the Secretary two 
Pinocchios for her comment. The reality is Democrats pull every budget 
trick in the book in an attempt to cloak the reckless tax-and-spending 
spree with the illusion of fiscal responsibility.
  However, even their budget sleight of hands fail to mask the upfront 
inflationary pressures embedded in that

[[Page S9067]]

very bill. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office--
CBO, as we call it around here--their bill contains hundreds of 
billions of dollars in deficit spending in each of the first 5 years.
  That means that, regardless of what Democrats say, their bill will 
add to inflation pressures now when it matters most. Under honest 
assumptions, the deficit spending never stops.
  According to the Penn Wharton Budget Model, their analysis, if their 
spending proposals are permanent, as they intend, their plan would 
increase debt and deficits by more than $2 trillion over 10 years. As a 
result, by 2050, government debt would be 24 percent higher, economic 
growth will be 3 percent higher, and wages of the middle class would be 
1.7 percent less than they would otherwise be.
  Now, they go by the bill, building back better. Sounds to me like all 
of this is building back worse. So I urge my Democratic colleagues to 
pursue and rethink the approach. Securing a near-term ideological win 
is not worth the risk of spurring unchecked inflation, sapping the 
value of America's hard-earned dollars.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The minority whip.
  Mr. THUNE. Madam President, one thing you can say for the Democrats 
so-called Build Back Better plan is that it provides a never-ending 
supply of bad proposals to talk about. And the bad Build Back Better 
measure I want to discuss today is Democrats' plan to double the size 
of the IRS--yes, double the size of the IRS.
  The IRS is not exactly the most popular government Agency, and with 
good reason. The Agency has gained for itself a reputation for poor 
taxpayer service and, most seriously, for mishandling the confidential 
information--taxpayer information it has access to.
  In fact, the IRS was subject to a massive leak or hack of private 
taxpayer information mere months ago--information that somehow ended up 
in the hands of advocates at ProPublica. And neither Treasury nor the 
IRS has provided meaningful followup about the data breach, much less 
any accountability.
  For months, Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee have pressed 
the administration for details about the breach of private taxpayer 
information. I would have hoped by now that my friends on the other 
side of the aisle would have shown similar concern for the privacy of 
the American taxpayer.
  And who could forget the IRS scandal during the Obama administration, 
when the IRS targeted a number of organizations based on their 
political beliefs?
  Those are two notorious examples of IRS misconduct, but there are 
plenty of others.
  The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has repeatedly 
found instances of IRS agents violating taxpayer rights. And then there 
is the Agency's record of irresponsibility or incompetence, or both--
losing track of laptops that may have contained sensitive taxpayer 
information, rehiring employees who'd been fired for bad behavior, work 
delays due to a lack of simple printer maintenance, hanging up on 
taxpayers who call the IRS for information.
  Customer service departments, in general, can be frustrating, but at 
least at many companies you can reach an actual person in a fairly 
reasonable amount of time. If you call the IRS, you have a 1-in-50 
chance of reaching a human being--1 in 50.
  I could go on, but suffice it to say that there are good reasons why 
Americans tend not to be big fans of the IRS and why they think this 
Agency already has too much power.
  But Democrats would like to double the size of the Agency. The 
Democrats' bill would add 87,000 new IRS employees--87,000. That's 
enough employees to fill an entire football stadium with some left 
over; 87,000 is more than the population of Rapid City, SD, the second 
largest city in my home State.
  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that increasing the size of 
the Agency in this way would result in significantly higher audit rates 
of American taxpayers. Many of those audits would hit middle-income 
taxpayers and small businesses; in other words, individuals without 
easy access to an army of accountants to help them navigate the process 
and ensure that their rights are protected.
  Democrats' primary reason for the IRS expansion is to raise revenue, 
to help pay for their partisan tax-and-spending spree. They claim that 
hiring all these new IRS agents and employees will allow them to close 
or reduce the tax gap--the difference between taxes owed and taxes 
  But there are a couple of problems with that. In the first place, it 
is extremely doubtful that they will be able to raise the money they 
claim they will be able to raise. In fact, the Congressional Budget 
Office doesn't even score hoped-for revenue from enforcement since it 
considers the acquisition of that revenue to be so uncertain.
  And even if Democrats are able to raise a meaningful sum from 
increased enforcement, what exactly is it going to cost Americans for 
Democrats to recapture this money?
  Increased scrutiny and costly audits of law-abiding taxpayers. IRS 
intimidation and harassment.
  And just in case anyone thinks I am exaggerating about that 
intimidation, I would note that a provision in the House version of the 
Democrats' reckless tax-and-spending spree would repeal a measure 
requiring written approval of a supervisor before an IRS agent can 
access--or I should say, can assess any penalties.
  The provision was intended to prevent overreaching IRS agents from 
threatening Americans with unjustified penalties. And it is hard to 
imagine why Democrats are trying to repeal this measure if they are not 
trying to pave the way for much more aggressive IRS pressure and 
  And I haven't even mentioned the provision that was in Democrats' 
proposal for a long time and which some Democrats, including the 
President's Treasury Secretary and other administration officials, 
would still--still--like to see included, and that's a provision that 
would empower the IRS to snoop on the details of Americans' bank 
  Under one version of this provision, the IRS would be able to sift 
through the bank records of any American with just $600 in annual 
transactions. In other words, the IRS would be able to look through the 
bank records of just about every American and find out just how much 
you spent on Starbucks or your last doctor's bill or that new winter 
  It is staggering that the Democrats could even contemplate giving 
that much power to an Agency that has a track record of mishandling 
sensitive taxpayer information. But that is the kind of power the 
President's Treasury Secretary, for one, would like this Agency to 

  With their so-called Build Back Better plan, Democrats are proposing 
a massive expansion of government, and we are apparently just supposed 
to take it on faith that the government will be able to handle all 
these new responsibilities.
  Well, I have to say, I--and I would say many other Americans--have my 
doubts. And the IRS provides a perfect example of why.
  The IRS can't even properly handle the staff and responsibilities it 
already has, and yet Democrats think it is a good idea to double the 
size of this Agency and give it new enforcement powers and, if some 
have their way, expanded access to Americans' personal information.
  Doubling the size of the IRS is a terrible idea, and it is one more 
reason why Build Back Better is a bad deal for the American people.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Madam President, when the Grinch stole Christmas, it was a 
relatively simple operation, one that required a relatively simple 
  Unfortunately, cold, unfeeling regulations and entrenched 
bureaucracies do not have undersized hearts; hearts that can somehow 
grow three sizes.
  Protectionist laws and labor support shortages do not warm to holiday 
  The COVID-19 pandemic has caused our already deeply troubled economy 
problems, and it has caused our already deeply troubled supply chain to 
become mired with challenges of all sorts, including truckdriver 
shortages, outdated port technology, lack of container storage 
capacity, port labor difficulties, and scarce freight equipment.

[[Page S9068]]

  In fact, as situations become more dire with the supply chain crisis, 
with inflation, and with shortages all over the country, our own 
regulations do a whole lot to delay and disrupt solutions that we need 
the most at the time we most need them.
  Americans are feeling the pain of skyrocketing prices, of shipping 
delays, and empty shelves as our laws and bureaucracies fail to respond 
to shipping backlogs and labor shortages. The system just is not 
working. And President Biden's press release policies have not fixed 
it. In fact, they have made it much, much worse.
  Like so many problems during his Presidency, President Biden is not 
touching them with a 39\1/2\-foot pole.
  As the holidays are here, we see the problems continuing to mount. 
And these problems needed solutions many, many months ago, but there is 
still hope. My STOP the GRINCH Act can help us fix the supply chain 
crisis and save Christmas.
  This is a bill that focuses on the problems that are actually slowing 
down our supply chain, and it is a bill that, if enacted, would get 
products off of ships, onto trucks, and into stores so that people in 
Utah and across the Nation could get the things they need for everyday 
life and especially for Christmas.
  By suspending a number of Federal restrictions on ports, on ships, 
and on trucks, we can help clear the backlog at our ports, get products 
onto shelves, and get the presents under the trees.
  The bill will help solve our truckdriver shortage by temporarily 
lowering the commercial driver license age to 18 for interstate travel, 
and it would waive for 1 year the hours-of-service requirements, 
specifically, for those involved in transporting containers into and 
out of ports.
  The bill would allow for more ships to move more freely and to move 
cargo between American ports by waiving the Jones Act, and it would 
also allow for Federal land that has been designated as appropriate for 
multiple use to be used to temporarily store cargo containers. That 
would do a lot in and of itself to help us break our port logjams. A 
combination of these things would do so masterfully.
  And, finally, my bill would help ease the lack of freight equipment 
by allowing excess Department of Defense equipment to be used to help 
move cargo. A lot of our problems can be traced to a lack of available 
truck chassis, and if we open up those that are deemed excess, we can 
do a lot to move freight.
  While this bill doesn't address every challenge with our supply 
chain, it does provide tangible solutions that, if enacted into law, 
would solve real problems right now.
  Look, we can end this nightmare before Christmas. We can stop the 
Grinch, save our holidays, and secure our economy.
  My STOP the GRINCH Act is the start to a merry Christmas and a happy 
new year.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida is recognized.
  Mr. SCOTT of Florida. Madam President, we are less than 3 weeks away 
from Christmas, and Joe Biden has run this country into the ground.
  I know President Biden thinks that Santa can solve his problems, but 
our supply chain is such a mess not even Santa Claus, with all of his 
Christmas magic, can fix it.
  There are nearly 100 ships waiting to dock in California ports. About 
40 of them are a few miles off the coast, but more than 50 are holding 
back farther in the Pacific. It looks to me like the Biden 
administration didn't like the visual.
  I recently received a letter from a grandmother in New Smyrna Beach, 
FL. She is retired now but was a small business owner who has spent her 
life working hard to support her kids and grandkids.
  I have the letter with me. In her letter she writes:

       I am worried about inflation. I see prices of fuel, 
     groceries, and staples going through the roof. I see the 
     American standard of life declining. It is getting harder and 
     harder for families to make ends meet, buy a home, afford 
     medical care and higher education for their children.

  She also tells me that Joe Biden's unconstitutional vaccine mandate 
is putting her husband at risk of losing his job, despite the fact that 
he worked throughout the pandemic as an essential worker.
  She is not alone. She shares the exact same concerns as millions of 
Americans and businesses right now that are reeling from the impacts of 
Biden's socialism.
  The Pantry of Broward County, FL, usually supplies meals to 500 
families each month, but they weren't able to donate as many 
Thanksgiving turkeys this year because of skyrocketing prices.
  And there are other terrible stories in the news across my State 
every day.
  I heard about a single father of three in Clearwater, FL, who lost 
his job due to COVID, and at his new job he is having to stretch each 
dollar as far as it can possibly go as prices for meat, food, rent, 
everything goes up and up and up.
  I heard about a woman who delivers groceries in South Miami. She is 
seeing prices going up and having to send pictures of empty shelves to 
her online customers to show grocery stores are out of so many 
products. She can hardly ever find any juice boxes for her own 
  These are the stories of real Floridians, and I could keep going 
because Florida families and families all across our great country are 
struggling as Biden's inflation and supply chain crisis rages on.
  Now, most people, when they are in charge, they want to do something 
positive when a problem arises. When the families are struggling, 
leaders should want to solve a problem.
  What is shocking is that even as ships wait in docks, in ports--wait 
to dock in ports and families are forced to count their pennies and 
sometimes even go without certain products, the Biden administration is 
doing absolutely nothing.
  Secretary Raimondo and Secretary Buttigieg would rather play TV 
commentator than actually travel to California and solve some of these 
problems facing our distributors. Instead of coming to the Senate 
Commerce Committee to testify about what actions they are actually 
taking, they would rather stay silent. If they don't want to show up 
and do the job they signed up for, I have heard there is an opening at 
  Energy prices are up, and families who are simply trying to stay warm 
during the winter season are going to face higher bills, just as gas 
prices and food prices continue to climb.
  The American people are fed up with President Biden's utter lack of 
leadership. Time and time again, I have come to the floor to try to get 
some information about this crisis, but Senate Democrats have stood in 
the way.
  When I came down to demand notes from internal meetings the Biden 
administration held about the signs of inflation they were seeing, 
Democrats blocked--blocked--it. When I walked down here to request a 
report about the factors causing the energy prices to rise, Senate 
Democrats blocked it. When I came down here to pass bicameral, 
commonsense legislation that would alleviate the supply chain crisis 
facing our ports, Senate Democrats blocked it.
  This isn't how Washington should be working. I came here to make 
Washington work for Florida families, but Democrats in this body are 
joining hands with the White House to institute policies that make life 
more difficult and more expensive.
  This isn't government for the people; this is Big Government that 
hurts the people.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. YOUNG. Madam President, in case anyone was wondering, there are 
16 days left before Christmas--16 shopping days.
  Now, I know I still have some shopping to do, and I look forward to 
that, but it seems as though some of my colleagues have a jump on me. 
Seems as though President Biden has a jump on me, and that is good 
thinking because this year you can't start too early, with the supply 
chain as bad as it is and the price of presents rising.
  So why don't we gather around the Christmas tree to see what gifts 
national Democrats are prepared to pass out on Christmas morning, 
thanks to their reckless tax-and-spending spree.
  To the leftwing labor unions, what do they offer? Democrats are 
gifting billions of dollars in handouts to strengthen this core 
constituency of

[[Page S9069]]

theirs. While they are letting charitable deductions expire in Build 
Back Better, they have gift wrapped an above-the-line tax deduction for 
union dues.
  Let's see what we have here.
  Well, that is a car. That is a car. And this is the labor union 
present. Hmm. As a special Christmas surprise, it seems that the 
Democrats have put under the tree a shiny new tax credit for electric 
vehicles but only if those vehicles are made in a union shop--only a 
union shop.
  You see, if you are naughty, and you buy an electric vehicle from a 
nonunion shop, like those that are made in my State of Indiana, you 
will miss out on the Democrats' $4,500 holiday giveaway in this bill. 
Apparently, during the Christmas season, the impact of electric 
vehicles on climate change only matters if the workers' contracts are 
collectively bargained.
  Which brings us to another gift we have, and that is China. China has 
a gift under the tree. Why don't we just open this China gift. Well, 
that is a lot of money. The tax hikes on businesses large and small in 
this bill will give China an unfair competitive advantage. Increasing 
taxes on American employers by more than $800 billion, when they are 
already struggling with supply chain issues and worker shortages--this 
is going to do very little to bring jobs back home, jobs of the future 
here in the United States of America, which is exactly why the Chinese 
Communist Party and all of its leaders will love this very expensive 
  And the largest gift under the Washington Democrats' tree goes to--is 
that--could that be? It says ``the rich.''
  I am going to see what is in there.
  Well, this must mean--it says SALT. By dramatically increasing the 
cap on the State and local tax deduction, or what is known around here 
as SALT for short, the once-proud party of the working class is giving 
a tax cut to two-thirds of people earning more than $1 million a year. 
Now, the average size of that tax cut is almost $17,000 a year for 
millionaires. This is the new Democratic Party.
  Merry Christmas. This is the single most expensive tax expenditure in 
the Build Back Better Act, and it is the second biggest component of 
the entire bill.
  So, evidently, the national Democrats believe it is better to give 
than to receive from millionaires so they proposed a tax cut for the 
wealthiest Americans from the wealthiest cities in the wealthiest 
States, gift wrapped from the Democratic Party.
  So after the handouts and giveaways and entitlements and earmarks, 
what is left for regular, middle-class working stiffs?
  Well, we know that really big gifts come in smaller packages. So I 
see this stocking here that says ``taxpayers'' on it. Let me see what 
is in here.
  Oh, my word. That looks like coal--a lump of coal. That lump of coal 
must represent the massive $367 billion that will be added to the debt 
by the Democrats' reckless tax-and-spending bill, according to the 
nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, not to mention the 10 years of 
tax increases included in the bill to pay for only a few years of 
policy changes.
  Of course, we all know that figure is going to be much higher in 
reality. If all the temporary provisions in this bill are made 
permanent, it will increase our budget deficit by nearly $3 trillion in 
this decade. It seems the Democrats want our children and grandchildren 
to pay for this bundle of goodies through the layaway plan.
  GDP is expected to fall because of Build Back Better. The cost of 
living is expected to rise even more because of Build Back Better. And 
despite the promises of President Biden and my Senate Democratic 
colleagues, despite their votes right here on this floor, if Build Back 
Better were to become law, taxes would be raised on lower and middle-
class Americans who are just trying to get by this Christmas season.
  Ho, Ho, Ho. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this Christmas 
season Democrats are not offering holiday jobs or good cheer. Instead, 
this feels more like the nightmare before Christmas.
  Colleagues, the best present that all of us can give the American 
people is to do whatever is in our power to stop the Build Back Better 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio is recognized.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Madam President, I appreciate the comments of my 
colleague from Indiana. What he didn't have under that Christmas tree 
or in the stocking was a lump of coal because I guess a lump of coal is 
not something we would find in Build Back Better. Even though there is 
a lot of stuff in there that is really bad for our economy right now, 
bad for our families, bad for our workers. And when you think about it, 
right now, we are in a time of high inflation, supply chain 
difficulties, record levels of debt and deficit, and an uncertain 
economy due largely to the uncertainty regarding COVID and particularly 
this variant, the Omicron.
  So this is not a time for us to be putting forward a massive new 
spending bill and a massive new tax increase on the American economy. 
In fact, it is the time for us to retrench a little bit and try to help 
to get back to where we were before COVID-19.
  Remember, that was the time when after the 2017 tax reforms, we had a 
great economy, by any measure. And it was an opportunity time. It was 
the lowest poverty rate in the history of our country since we started 
keeping track in the 1950s.
  As of February, just before going into the COVID-19 period, February 
2020, we had 19 straight months of wage gain of over 3 percent. By the 
way, that was over inflation because inflation was so low. So people 
were feeling it. They were actually getting a wage increase. In my 
State of Ohio, that was the first time in probably a decade and a half.
  Now, it is just the opposite. Wages are actually down when you take 
inflation into account. And inflation is high, as everyone feared 
because we have dumped so much on the demand side of the economy, and 
the supply side is restricted, in part, because of what has happened 
with COVID, and it creates this inflation. This was warned by not just 
Republicans like myself, but back in March, when President Biden and 
the Democrats put $1.9 trillion into this economy--the most ever, the 
biggest bill ever--it was Larry Summers, former Secretary of the 
Treasury under President Clinton, and NEC, National Economic Council, 
Chair under President Obama, who said: You know, this is going to stoke 
inflation. It is going to overheat the economy.
  And that is exactly what it did.
  So we have this high inflation. We have these record levels of debt 
and deficit. We are talking about extending the debt limit right now, 
and people think the number is going to be--just to extend it for about 
a year--over $2 trillion; meaning that we are spending so much more 
than we are taking in. And yet there is this discussion that somehow 
before Christmas we are going to put forward this Build Back Better 
legislation that we just talked about.
  It is not building back America better. Unfortunately, it is building 
us worse off than we were and adding to inflation, adding to the supply 
chain difficulties, adding to the debt and deficits at record levels, 
and certainly doing nothing with regard to COVID-19.
  So why would we do this? And certainly why would we do this now? It 
makes no sense. Well, because I guess there was a promise made that we 
are going to have this massive new spending and these massive new tax 
  What is in there? Well, on the spending side, when you look at it, it 
is the largest spending bill ever put forward by the U.S. Congress, 
unless you believe that it is really only $1.7 trillion instead of two 
or three times that. In that case, it is the second biggest ever. But 
the analyses I have seen from the Penn Wharton study, from the 
Committee for a Responsible Budget, and from others said: You know, 
there are a lot of sunsets in there.
  As an example, the child tax credit lasts for 1 year. Does anybody 
believe it only lasts for 1 year? That wouldn't be the history of this 
place. So it will continue.
  So these sunsets are not going to be effective so the spending will 
continue to increase. The tax increases don't cover them so there will 
be a big gap accrued to the deficit, and the projections are it is more 
like $4\1/2\ trillion in spending. So it is the largest increase in the 
history of our country by far.

[[Page S9070]]

  We are talking about doing this, again, at a time when already we 
have record levels of debt and deficit and high inflation and driven by 
COVID, a lot of uncertainty in our economy.
  On the tax side, I could argue it is even worse because the tax 
increases are going to be hard on workers because they are taxes on 
businesses. What the Joint Committee on Taxation says--which is the 
nonpartisan group here in Congress that advises us--what CBO says, the 
Congressional Budget Office says, what other outside groups say is the 
same thing, which is when you tax these businesses, who gets taxed? 
Well, it is workers--lower wages, lower benefits.
  Seventy percent of the benefit of our tax cuts in 2017 went to 
workers, and 70 percent of this increase in taxes will be coming out of 
workers' pockets. So it is a bad idea. But let's look a little deeper 
at what these taxes actually are. There is a 15-percent minimum tax--a 
new alternative minimum tax, which is always complicated for everybody 
to figure out what that is. But in this case, it is called the book 
  Now, I don't know if this was on purpose or not. I assume it wasn't. 
But the book tax, as you apply it to our economy, will result in real 
damage to things that most people think are important like defined 
benefit plans, pension plans. Democrats and Republicans alike have 
supported defined benefit plans. I support them. Unfortunately, there 
aren't as many as there used to be. But there will be even fewer if 
this passes. Why? Because when you calculate your taxes under the book 
tax, you now have to take into account whatever your asset increase is 
in your pension. And if you are one of these companies caught up in 
this, you could well find yourself in a situation where, for the first 
time ever, you get no deduction for your contribution to your pension. 
Why would we do that? And then you are taxed on the asset increase, 
which may be caused by higher interest rates, may be caused by the 
market going up, but you get no benefit in your company, and your 
profits in your company may not be enough to pay those taxes.
  Here is an example of this. There are some companies that have 
figured out this problem. By the way, there are some unions figuring it 
out, too, because a lot of union workers are caught up in this as well 
because they have defined benefit plans, typically. The company is 
saying: OK. If I make $100 million in profit and if I have a $2 billion 
or $1 billion increase in my pension assets and you apply a 15-percent 
tax to that, I am not going to have enough money to pay my taxes.
  So what are they going to do? Well, they could declare bankruptcy. 
They could get a loan, which again hurts workers. So that, I hope, is 
an inadvertent part of this, but that is in this legislation.
  Why do we want to hurt defined benefit plans?
  I think it was an effort to say: OK. We are going to raise taxes, but 
we are going to do it in a sort of convoluted way so that it doesn't 
look like we are really raising taxes. But it is real taxes, and it is 
going to hurt, again, workers in America.
  Another thing it would disqualify companies from doing is taking what 
is called bonus depreciation. All of us, I thought, were kind of 
supportive of that.
  In 2017, that tax bill, this put in place where you can immediately 
write off expansion of plant equipment. Retailers love it, restaurants 
love it, and so do manufacturers. And they use it a lot. And those 
manufacturers are telling me: OK. Now, under the book tax, you have to 
go back to the regular depreciation so you are not writing things off 
that first year as you can now under bonus depreciation. Why would you 
want to do that right now, again, with all the economic uncertainty out 
there, with COVID, with inflation fears? We want to encourage people to 
expand plant equipment, and there are a lot of people hesitating. That 
is in this legislation.
  Now let's talk quickly about the SALT provisions. We already know 
what that is because it has gotten a lot of play. But the State and 
local tax deduction means that in States like mine, Ohio, we are 
subsidizing high-tax States. So if you are from Missouri--Senator Blunt 
is here on the floor--or if you are from Ohio, by having a deduction 
for your State and local taxes at the Federal level, you are not only 
encouraging those States to continue to have high taxes and even have 
further taxes if you are being subsidized by Federal taxpayers, but it 
is unfair to those States that have done the responsible thing to try 
to keep taxes under control.
  But in this legislation, Democrats say: No, we are going to increase 
this cap from 10,000 to 80,000 bucks a year; in other words, provide 
more help to the SALT beneficiaries. Guess what. There is an analysis 
out this week that says almost none of that benefit goes to Americans 
who are not in the top 10 percent of wage earners. Almost none of that 
benefit that is in this bill goes to people not in the top 10 percent. 
There is $285 billion devoted to this--$100 billion more than is 
devoted to the cornerstone social safety net program, the childcare 
credit in this bill. Over $100 billion more for this.
  So how does this all shake out in terms of whom it is helping and 
whom it is hurting?
  Well, here are what the numbers are. This is, again, the Joint Tax 
Committee, folks who are nonpartisan, looking at this. Almost 70 
percent--almost 70 percent--of people who make $1 million or more a 
year are going to get a significant tax cut because of this 
  Think about that. It is about 68 percent-plus are going to get a 
significant tax cut if you make a million bucks a year. If you are a 
millionaire, you are going to do very well.
  If you make between $500,000 and a million bucks a year, 90 percent 
will get a tax cut under this legislation.
  But if you make $30,000 a year--only 30,000--only 30 percent of 
people who make $30,000 a year are going to get tax relief under this 
legislation, and that is just in the first year.
  In the second year, it goes down below 30 percent to 12 percent; in 
the third year, 10 percent; and then it goes down to single digits. So 
the benefit is heavily skewed toward higher income Americans. Why would 
we do that? It just makes no sense. Are we worried about millionaires? 
But that is in this legislation.
  So, again, I would say, Build Back Better? I don't think so. We were 
building pretty well when we had the lowest poverty rate in the history 
of our country, when we had the lowest unemployment rate ever for 
Blacks, Hispanics, the disabled, when we had 50-year lows in 
unemployment overall in our economy, when we had a situation where 
wages were going up--again, 19 straight months of 3 percent or more 
wage gains. It was real wage gains above inflation.
  Let's get back to that. That is how you grow the opportunity economy. 
That is how you give people a chance. That is how you help everybody.
  But let's not do this massive new spending bill that will cause more 
inflation, massive tax increases that are going to hurt the economy and 
hurt workers, especially coming into the holiday season. Let's instead 
do something that gives the American people the gifts they deserve.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri is recognized.
  Mr. BLUNT. I think we are a little beyond our time on this side, but 
I am grateful for my friend from Rhode Island who is willing to let me 
have a chance to make the points I wanted to make. And I think, as is 
often the case here, many of them have already been made and were just 
made pretty well by Senator Portman, certainly, in the spending bill he 
was talking about and the tax bill that he was talking about.
  We keep hearing that a majority of all Americans like these programs; 
that if they could just know what was in the bill, they would like the 
bill. We are going to have some time now over the next few weeks, I am 
confident, to talk about what is in the bill. These are programs that 
are supposed to make life better for everyday Americans. Things like 
paid family leave, I am sure would be helpful in many, many cases.
  But what the Senator from Ohio was just talking about, you know, four 
times what this bill would spend on paid family leave it pays on tax 
cuts for the wealthiest families.
  When people begin to look at that, they are going to have to wonder, 
how is that priority established to where

[[Page S9071]]

the second biggest spending item in the entire bill would be tax cuts 
for the wealthiest families in America--$230 billion of that $1.7 
trillion is tax cuts for those families. The deductibility of State and 
local taxes goes from $10,000 as a cap to $80,000 as a cap.
  Let me just repeat what I think I just heard, which was that 70 
percent of this tax break--70 percent of that entire $230 billion--goes 
to the top 5 percent of all taxpayers; 94 percent goes to the top 20 
percent; and 85 percent goes to the top 10 percent.
  Those are pretty big numbers in a bill that is supposed to make life 
easier for everyday American challenges.
  Now, I am sure the top 5 percent of all taxpayers have their own 
challenges. I am also sure they are different than my challenges, but 
they are not the challenges that everyday Americans face. It is pretty 
amazing, I think, in all the discussion of what this bill is designed 
to do, that that is what would happen.

                            Vaccine Mandate

  Madam President, let me talk about one other topic as I make way here 
for the Senator from Rhode Island. I want to talk a little bit about 
the vaccine mandate and what I am hearing about that.
  Yesterday, in a vote in the Senate on the Congressional Review Act, 
which is when we have an opportunity to look at regulations proposed by 
the administration, 52 Senators from both parties--Senators from both 
parties made up that 52--voted not to go forward with this mandate.
  It is very possible to be pro-vaccine and not pro-mandate. I am pro-
vaccine. Over and over again, I have recommended to my friends and my 
family that you get the first shot and, now, if you are available for 
the booster shot after you have had either one or two of the other 
shots, to get that one too. The vaccines have made a big difference. 
Frankly, my advice would be, unless your doctor tells you you shouldn't 
do this, I think you ought to do it.
  The mandate just appears not to be working. I am not even going to 
assume it was designed in a way that the administration thought it 
would have the impact it appears to be having, but it is clear and it 
is out there. You know it, and I know it.
  I have visited with Missouri hospital administrators, and they may 
have been at a place where, just a few days ago, if that mandate had 
gone into effect, you couldn't have gotten Medicare or Medicaid 
patients paid for at your hospital if you weren't 100-percent 
  Now, fortunately, a Federal court said: No, we are not sure the 
President has the authority to do that, so we are going to postpone 
  But as we approached that deadline, I kept hearing more and more 
hospital administrators say: We think we can get almost all of our 
professional staff vaccinated, but we are not even sure about that. We 
are absolutely sure we can't get 100 percent of the people--those who 
work in the cafeteria, who mop the floors, and who provide security for 
the building--vaccinated. So we wouldn't be able to participate in 
those programs, and that would create a serious problem, particularly 
in small, rural hospitals.
  There is the next mandate, the one for every group that has more than 
100 employees in it. All kinds of police officers, for whatever reason, 
either don't want to get vaccinated or don't want to be told they have 
to be vaccinated. You know, we have enough problems right now in 
finding police officers and firemen and first responders that, if you 
delete those forces, our current problems will be even bigger. That is 
what will happen.
  If you have got that 100-person force but you still want to be a 
police officer, in all likelihood, within driving distance, there is a 
20-person police force or a 5-person police force. It may be a little 
easier, safer job anyway, and you will not have to be told by the 
government what you have to do.
  I am hearing that from schools. We have schools where the National 
Guard is driving school buses. By the way, a lot of the people in the 
National Guard are thinking about leaving the National Guard if they 
have to do something like this.
  You know, what people really, I think, resent is when government 
tells them: You have to do this, and you have to do it for your own 
  If it is for your own good, that is probably a decision that you 
should be allowed to make.
  Whether you are allowed to make it or not, this is the response to 
all of these mandates, whether it is the Health and Human Services 
mandate on hospitals; the mandate on Federal contractors--and, by the 
way, we need those Federal contractors or we wouldn't have contracted 
with them--or the mandate on policemen and firemen and grocery store 
  I saw a number the other day of 50-some percent--I think it was 56 
percent--of the people who work in a grocery store would rather work 
somewhere else after what they have gone through in the last year: 
shorthanded; more people getting food at the grocery store than ever 
before. They are looking for a reason to say: OK. I am done with this.
  We need our grocery store workers. We need our healthcare providers. 
We need our policemen. We need our firemen. We need our school bus 
drivers. We need our schoolteachers.
  This is not working. Fortunately, up to now, Federal judge after 
Federal judge has said: We don't think you have the authority to do 
this, and we are going to suspend the implementation of these mandates.
  I think this gives the Biden administration a chance to look at this 
again and realize that the unintended consequences of what they were 
trying to do might be more significant than the consequences of what 
would happen if you forced compliance.
  I thank my friend for giving us a few extra minutes.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.

                           U.S. Supreme Court

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, it is a pleasure, and I appreciate 
my friend, Senator Blunt.
  I am here today to rise for the 10th time to talk about the rightwing 
scheme to capture our Supreme Court.
  As the Presiding Officer knows, I have delivered a lot of speeches on 
the Senate floor, and a majority of them--279 of them, to be precise--
addressed climate change. These were my ``Time to Wake Up'' speeches, 
many of which focused on the network of phony front groups and trade 
associations used by the fossil fuel industry to block any meaningful 
climate legislation.
  That vast web of climate denial and climate obstruction is one of the 
main reasons that we are in the climate crisis we face today. I am here 
today to report that there is common technique behind that smelly 
climate denial operation and the rightwing donor operation to capture 
the Court.
  They both rely on massive amounts of dark money. They both rely on a 
small number of ultrawealthy donors who supply that dark money. And 
they both rely on an armada of front groups and phony corporate 
entities, funded by those big donors, to hide their hands. At this 
point, it is, actually, depressingly, familiar.
  But it is worse than just common technique. It is the same entities: 
the Koch operation, Americans for Prosperity, DonorsTrust, the Bradley 
Foundation, the Scaife Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise 
Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The list goes on and on and 
on. These are the exact same players on both sides of the operation--on 
the climate-denying web and on the Court-capturing scheme.
  My colleagues and I showed in a number of Web of Denial climate 
speeches how a few ultrawealthy, rightwing foundations, corporate trade 
groups, and so-called donor-advised funds supply the bulk of the dark 
money for modern-day climate denial.
  Big oil companies used to do that directly, but they got burned and 
learned that it is bad for their public image, and I suspect they are 
hiding now behind those anonymizing entities and trade groups.
  The big funding guns included the Koch network; the Lynde and Harry 
Bradley Foundation; the Searle Freedom Trust; the Sarah Scaife 
Foundation; Donors Capital; and DonorsTrust, which has been called the 
rightwing's ``dark money ATM.''
  This is the Web of Denial graphic that we used in many of those Web 
of Denial speeches, and you will see these groups turning up over and 
over again. They are central in the web of climate denial.

[[Page S9072]]

  Now, if you look at the big funders behind the scheme to capture the 
Court, you will see this--in my last scheme speech, I talked about the 
flotillas of amici curiae--or ``friends of the court''--who come in and 
orchestrate phalanxes to file briefs for the rightwing in cases of 
significance to the scheme's big donors. Well, it turns out that those 
funders also inhabit the web of denial.
  This is an appendix that I filed in the case of Seila Law v. Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau--a case that was the rightwing's shot at 
weakening a consumer watchdog agency they hate. This appendix--a first 
of its kind in the Supreme Court, which was attached to my amicus 
brief--looked at some of the other amici who had filed briefs and 
cross-referenced where their funding had come from.
  My point then was that the Court was not told that there was this 
huge overlap of funding. Each brief came in as if it were independent 
rather than part of an orchestrated cascade. So nearly every one of 
these groups is part of the web of denial: DonorsTrust, Donors Capital, 
the Charles Koch Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Bradley 
Foundation, the Searle Foundation.
  But the overlay isn't just with the phony amicus flotillas that are 
orchestrated up at the Supreme Court; it is right in the cases 
themselves. Take the notorious anti-labor cases of Friedrichs and 
Janus. According to a trove of documents uncovered in 2016, legal 
groups funded by the Bradley Foundation brought those cases. They 
weren't just amici filing briefs; they were the litigating law group in 
those cases. The law group went out and found the plaintiffs--
plaintiffs of convenience, and they paid the plaintiffs' legal 
expenses. Those same donors, Bradley has shown in this, funded that 
whole boatload of amici who came in to support their also-funded group 
that was bringing the case on behalf of a nominal plaintiff. By the 
way, they funded a flotilla of amici in Janus. Seventeen Supreme Court 
amicus briefs came from groups funded by DonorsTrust, Donors Capital, 
and Bradley.
  The front groups in those labor cases actually played a little bit of 
switcheroo amongst themselves. Think of the pea-and-shell game. The 
group that brought the case in Friedrichs became an amicus supporting 
the plaintiff in Janus. The group that brought the case in Janus had 
been an amicus supporting the plaintiff in Friedrichs. All of those 
groups--the ones that brought the two cases and the groups that chimed 
in as amici--were funded by the same organizations. It is a little bit 
like that pea-and-shell game except, if you know the parties, it is 
being played with transparent shells; but for some reason, the Court is 
incapable of noticing this scheme that is being pulled in plain view, 
in their presence.
  Now, some front groups are invented shells--purpose built--just to 
hide whoever is behind them. Others are preexisting, captured, and co-
opted. The key common characteristic, whether invented or captured and 
co-opted, is that they got to hide the donors. The U.S. Chamber of 
Commerce is the easy example of a captured and co-opted group.
  According to the watchdog group InfluenceMap, the Chamber is one of 
the biggest climate obstructors in Washington.
  The Chamber has lots of members who don't support climate 
obstruction, but someone--someone--gave the Chamber enough money to 
become a worst climate obstructor. And guess what. The Chamber is also 
a major player in the scheme. It is the biggest filer of scheme amicus 
briefs; it campaigned hard for all three of Trump's dark money-chosen 
Supreme Court Justices; and way back, it commissioned the Lewis Powell 
memo that launched the entire scheme.
  Other major front groups serving both the web and the scheme include 
the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the Competitive 
  Again, the common thread?
  They all hide the donors so they can provide that vital screening, 
anonymizing function, which is key to the donors because they have to 
hide their identities and their motives in order to do their dark work.
  On the scheme side, each one of these groups gets gobs of scheme dark 
money, helps hatch hot-house legal theories to present to scheme 
Justices, helps locate plaintiffs of convenience to bring cases for 
and/or joins the orchestrated flotillas of scheme amicus briefs. You 
see the same players over and over and over again, and how the Court 
manages not to notice or be curious is a mystery.
  On the web side, each is also a central node in the web of denial. 
Here, for instance, is the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Here is 
the Donors Trust, Donors Capital. Here is Koch-affiliated foundations. 
Here is Searle Freedom Trust. Here is the Americans for Prosperity 
Foundation. These groups pretty notoriously represent the interests of 
Big Business and rightwing donors, so you at least know that much, if 
not the specific identity of who is funding the brief. But some of the 
web-scheme overlay gets a little bit harder to unravel, so let's drill 
into one: the Independent Women's Forum.
  This group was founded by rightwing donors in the very early days of 
the scheme to prop up the troubled nomination of Justice Thomas. It has 
accepted millions of dollars from a who's who of scheme and web-of-
denial donors--Bradley, Scaife, Koch, Donors Trust. Its stated mission 
is to ``improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of 
women who value free markets and personal liberty,'' but its real 
mission is to pop up anytime its dark money donors want to trot out a 
front group purporting to represent women. In practice, that means they 
pop up everywhere. They popped up in a pending Second Amendment case 
before the Court. They popped up in the Americans for Prosperity 
Foundation case that granted a constitutional right to dark money, 
signed off on by the dark money Justices. They popped up in the Little 
Sisters of the Poor contraception case. They popped up in a challenge 
to the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases.
  The Independent Women's Forum's work in that EPA case brings the 
overlay between the web and the scheme into focus.
  In 2016, the forum joined the dark money amicus flotilla asking the 
Supreme Court to strike down the EPA's Clean Power Plan, along with 
other web-scheme front groups like the Competitive Enterprise 
Institute, the Texas Public Policy Institute, and other groups opposing 
the EPA. These parties asked the Robert Court to stop the Clean Power 
Plan before it went into effect. Just days before Antonin Scalia died 
and their 5-to-4 majority evaporated, the Republican Justices obliged.
  This was ``shadow docket'' work, for those of you following the Texas 
abortion case ``shadow docket'' fiasco.
  In the EPA case, for the first time, the Court stepped in to stay a 
regulation before it went into effect and before the lower court had a 
chance to weigh in.
  By the way, it was a purely partisan decision, with all the 
Republicans behind it and none of the other Justices.
  Fast-forward to today. The Trump administration replaced the Clean 
Power Plan in 2018 with a Trump do-nothing, polluter-friendly rule. 
When the Biden administration came in, it completely abandoned the 
Trump do-nothing, polluter-friendly rule, so right now, there is 
actually no regulation to challenge. But the scheme has replenished its 
dark money Court and supercharged it with a sixth Justice.
  They are out to disable what they call the administrative state for 
the sake of their big donors, so they sued again, backed by familiar 
organizations--the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Texas Public 
Policy Institute, and other web-scheme groups--to ask, as they put it 
in their brief, that the Court ``finish what it started when it stayed 
the [Clean Power Plan].''
  There is no regulation to challenge. Yet the Republicans on the Court 
took the case--so much for the ``case or controversy'' principle of the 
Constitution. Now the Court, I guess, is going to make decisions based 
on what might happen. Where I come from, that is called an advisory 
opinion, which our Court is not supposed to do under the separation of 
powers. But the Federalist Society six on the Court are out for big 
game. The prize is to bring down the ``regulatory state'' altogether, 
and where better than where it most helps the fossil fuel industry--the

[[Page S9073]]

industry lurking behind this web of denial and likely also working 
behind the dark money that put the last Justices on the Court and 
likely also lurking behind the dark money millions that fund the 
Republican election groups.
  This Clean Power Plan challenge opens an avenue for scheme-appointed 
Justices to delight the donors behind both the scheme and the web. In 
the short term, it would hobble the EPA's ability to combat climate 
change--something very much sought by vested interests in the fossil 
fuel industry. Over the long term, it would accomplish rightwing 
donors' goal of kneecapping Federal Agency power across the board.
  For Donors Trust, the Chamber of Commerce, the Independent Women's 
Forum, and dozens of other groups that link the web and the scheme, 
winning cases like this one means big wins for their big secret donors.
  To go back to my early speeches about the scheme, they are following 
Lewis Powell's advice years ago to seize what he called the ``most 
important instrument for social, economic, and political change''--the 
Federal judiciary--and to control it with what he called ``an activist-
minded Supreme Court.'' The scheme has captured the Court. The scheme's 
captured Court will deliver for the web. It is the same donors and 
organizations behind both, and it has got to be cleaned up because this 
is not how courts are supposed to work.
  To be continued.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Warnock). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                       Unanimous Consent Request

  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to support a 
number of our nominees for Ambassadors and positions within the State 
  As the chair of the European Affairs Subcommittee, I am particularly 
concerned about the number of openings we have in Europe for 
  I want to support today Mark Gitenstein, again, to be U.S. Ambassador 
to the European Union; Kent Logsdon to be U.S. Ambassador to Moldova; 
Michael Murphy to be U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina; Clair 
Cronin to be U.S. Ambassador to Ireland; Denise Bauer to be U.S. 
Ambassador to France and Monaco; and Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon to be 
Ambassador to Spain and Andorra.
  Those are the Ambassadors in Europe whom I wanted to raise this 
afternoon, but I also want to raise concern about Rufus Gifford, who 
has been nominated to be Chief of Protocol for the Department of State.
  As I said, I am chair of the European Subcommittee, so I have had the 
opportunity to attend the hearings for these nominees and to see just 
how qualified they are and how important to American foreign policy 
they are.
  Earlier this week, Victoria Nuland, who is an Under Secretary at the 
Department of State, testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee that the U.S. foreign diplomacy is operating at quarter-power 
as a consequence of the numerous holds that have been placed on 
ambassadorial appointments by just a few of our Republican colleagues.
  I have some maps here that I think really very vividly demonstrate 
the consequences of this inaction in the Senate.
  The first map shows where we have U.S. Ambassadors to Europe. You can 
see that anything blue is where we have Ambassadors. On this map, 
everything from Spain to Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Iceland, 
Ireland--we have no U.S. Ambassadors approved in those countries.
  Compare that to what Russia and China have in terms of their 
diplomatic ability in Europe. The gold color is Russian Ambassadors, 
countries where Russia has their Ambassadors--virtually every country 
in Europe. Red is where China has its Ambassadors--virtually every 
country in Europe. Again, the United States, our Ambassadors in 
Europe--it is basically empty. Finland, Sweden, Norway, Spain, France, 
Germany, Poland, Ireland, the EU--we are desperately in need of 
Ambassadors because right now, we have very little presence in Europe.
  This is happening at a time when we know there are significant 
challenges taking place in Europe, particularly in Ukraine, where 
Russia is threatening to invade Ukraine, its sovereign territory, 
again, and where we need--if we are going to be successful in 
responding to Russia--where we need to take a unified approach among 
our allies. We need to be working with the EU, with NATO, with all of 
our European allies.
  Yet, in most of the countries where we need to be working, we don't 
have Ambassadors, and we don't have Ambassadors because of opposition 
from just a few of our Republican colleagues.
  I see Senator Cruz on the floor, so I know that he is going to be 
here to object to my effort to move these. But this is the impact of 
what is happening as a result of the holds of Senator Cruz. We can't 
put our national security in the hands of those people who don't have 
the status of Ambassadors. We know that our Embassies are doing a great 
job in all of those countries. They are working hard. But it makes a 
difference to have someone who has been approved by the Senate, who has 
been nominated by the President, who has the rank of Ambassador.
  As I think about the challenges that are facing this country, I can't 
think of anything that is more harmful to our foreign policy than 
deliberately hampering this country's ability to advance American 
interests on the international stage.
  I want to say a few words about each of these nominees before I move 
for unanimous consent. Again, I would like to begin with Mark 
Gitenstein, who has already served our Nation before. He was the U.S. 
Ambassador to Romania. He has spent over 25 years working on energy 
issues. And as we think about the negotiations that are happening 
around energy and Nord Stream 2 in particular, which I know is a 
concern for Senator Cruz because it is a concern that I have, we don't 
have an ambassador to the EU at the table for those discussions. Mr. 
Gitenstein's nomination is critically important in responding to 
Russia's weaponization of gas flows to Europe and strengthening the 
transatlantic alliance as we face escalating aggression from Russia.
  Similarly, Kent Logsdon's nomination as Ambassador to Moldova 
couldn't come at a more critical moment where Russia is, again, using 
energy there as a weapon.
  Maia Sandu--the newly elected, pro-EU, pro-reform President there--
has every intention of steering Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, 
toward a better path, and she is looking west to do that. But, of 
course, she has already faced pressure from Putin and his cronies, who 
have threatened to weaponize gas flows into Moldova.
  We can't allow Moldova to become the next Ukraine or the next 
Georgia, and we can only prevent that by conveying strong U.S. 
leadership to support its pro-European aspirations.
  I also want to say a few words on Michael Murphy's nomination as 
Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. America played a critical role in 
bringing peace to Bosnia through the Dayton Accords, but we are seeing 
now that peace and stability in Bosnia and unity in Bosnia are under 
increasing attack.
  Earlier today, I had a chance to meet with the Bosnian Foreign 
Minister, and I am seriously concerned by the deteriorating political 
situation there. It requires an expert career diplomat like Michael 
Murphy to provide the commanding leadership to help Bosnia through this 
  The same is true in Ireland. Claire Cronin's nomination as Ambassador 
to Ireland is not just a symbolic gesture to a longstanding ally of the 
United States. Peace in Northern Ireland is hanging by a thread as the 
UK, Ireland, and the EU handle the fallout from Brexit.
  I was concerned by the release of a report on Tuesday which indicated 
that the paramilitary gangs embedded in Northern Ireland's divided 
communities pose a ``clear and present danger'' of violence fueled by 
post-Brexit tensions. By stalling our confirmation of Ms. Cronin, we 
risk tarnishing our legacy in fostering peace in Northern Ireland 
through the Good Friday Agreement.

[[Page S9074]]

  Of course, Denise Bauer's nomination to France is necessary as the 
country prepares for national elections next year. These elections have 
significant implications for our bilateral relationship, in addition to 
the role France will play in the EU and NATO.
  Similarly, Julissa Reynoso's nomination to Spain requires swift 
confirmation. Spain will host the Madrid Summit next year, where NATO 
will elect the next Secretary General and finalize the strategic 
concept. What happens in NATO is critical to America's national 
security, and we want to have an ambassador on the ground there who can 
monitor what is going on with those talks, in addition to the other 
officials we need to send.
  Finally, Ambassador Rufus Gifford has been nominated to be the Chief 
of Protocol for the Department of State. He previously served as our 
Ambassador to Denmark, where the Queen there acknowledged him for his 
meritorious service to the Kingdom of Denmark. His background and 
service will make him an excellent Chief of Protocol, and we urgently 
need him in place to assist Secretary Blinken.
  Combined, these nominations are all critical to immediate challenges 
facing our national security interests.
  With that in mind, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that 
notwithstanding rule XXII, the Senate proceed to executive session to 
consider the following nominations: Executive Calendar Nos. 320, 440, 
447, 448, 450, 454, and 519; that the Senate vote on the nominations en 
bloc without intervening action or debate; that the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no 
intervening action or debate; that any statements related to the 
nominations be printed in the Record; and that the President be 
immediately notified of the Senate's action and the Senate resume 
legislative session.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there an objection?
  The Senator from Texas.
  Mr. CRUZ. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, you know, in 
Washington, there is always political rhetoric that goes around. The 
Senator from New Hampshire just moments ago described the Embassies in 
Europe that are missing Ambassadors. She said they are missing 
Ambassadors because of Republican objections, and she highlighted in 
particular Ukraine.
  I would like to point out there is some irony in her doing so because 
actually the reason there is no Ambassador in Ukraine is because of one 
thing and one thing only: President Biden has not nominated anybody to 
serve as Ambassador to Ukraine. We are in December of the first year of 
his Presidency, and Biden has yet to name an ambassador. So there are 
no Republican holds, there are no Republican objections to an 
ambassador that Biden has not even named.
  In addition, there were multiple Ambassadors who have been named whom 
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has yet to hold a hearing on. 
For every one of those nominees on whom there hasn't been a hearing, 
again, there are no Republican objections; it is simply that the Senate 
Democrats have failed to move forward with hearings.
  But there are a number of nominees who have been nominated and who 
have had hearings on whom I have holds. And we are here today once 
again because the Democrats in this Chamber have been unwilling to do 
the one thing that would stop Vladimir Putin from potentially invading 
Ukraine, which is sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline and making 
sure that it never becomes fully operational.
  Now, Senator Shaheen, along with every other Senator in this Chamber, 
knows exactly why I have holds on these nominees. Right now, as we 
speak, over 100,000 Russian troops are massed on the border of Ukraine, 
waiting to invade. And it is Joe Biden's fault because it is a direct 
consequence of President Biden's surrender to Vladimir Putin on Nord 
Stream 2.
  For those watching at home asking ``What is Nord Stream 2?'' it is a 
pipeline being constructed from Russia to Germany to carry natural gas. 
Putin is building Nord Stream 2 to go around Ukraine because right now, 
Russian gas gets to Europe through Ukraine.
  Putin didn't just wake up one day and decide to invade Ukraine; he 
has wanted to invade Ukraine for years. He did it in 2014, but he 
stopped short of a full invasion because he needed to use Ukrainian 
energy infrastructure to transport Russian gas to the European market. 
Ukraine's energy infrastructure is their insurance policy against a 
Russian invasion.
  Nord Stream 2 is all about Putin building an alternative avenue to 
get Russian gas to Europe. So if Nord Stream 2 comes online, it leaves 
Ukraine exposed to Russian aggression.
  Just 2 years ago, we had a bipartisan consensus in the Senate that we 
needed to stop Nord Stream 2. Now, Senator Shaheen knows that well 
because she and I authored the legislation together. She and I worked 
together to get the support of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate 
and the support of Democrats and Republicans in the House. The Cruz-
Shaheen legislation sanctioning Nord Stream 2 passed both Houses of 
Congress overwhelmingly and was signed into law. The Cruz-Shaheen 
legislation worked marvelously well, so well that Putin stopped 
construction of Nord Stream 2 the day that President Trump signed our 
legislation into law--not even a week later, not a month later, but the 
very day that our sanctions were signed into law.
  It was an incredible, bipartisan national security victory that we 
won together, and that victory continued for over a year. For over a 
year, Nord Stream 2 lay dormant on the bottom of the ocean, dead, 
until, unfortunately, Joe Biden became President.
  Almost from the moment of election day, Biden and the incoming 
administration began projecting weakness to Russia and Putin, and to 
understand just how much that message was received: Joe Biden was sworn 
in as President on January 20, 2021. Putin began building the Nord 
Stream 2 Pipeline again on January 24, 2021, 4 days after Biden was 
sworn in.
  In the Senate, I introduced legislation again in the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee that passed in the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee--in this Senate--with overwhelming bipartisan support to 
sanction Nord Stream 2 yet again. But this summer, the Biden White 
House made a political decision to surrender completely to Putin on 
Nord Stream 2, and President Biden waived the sanctions on Nord Stream 
2. He did so overruling the recommendations of his own State Department 
that argued that this protects U.S. national security interests, this 
stands up to Russia, and this protects Ukraine. The Biden White House 
didn't care about any of that--overruled it all.
  Then, unfortunately, Senate Democrats lost their willingness to hold 
Biden to account. This is an issue on which Democrats and Republicans 
are agreed on the substance. But it can be difficult to stand up to a 
President of your own party, and on Nord Stream 2, Senate Democrats 
have not been willing to do so. They were eager to do so when Donald 
Trump was in the White House, but when a Democrat was in the White 
House, suddenly their willingness to stand up to the President 
  So the holds that I have placed are directly in order to try to force 
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to follow the law and stand up to Russia 
and stand up to Putin.
  So I will offer my colleague Senator Shaheen a deal that I have 
offered many times to the White House, to the State Department, to the 
Department of the Treasury, and to Senate Democrats--a deal that if we, 
as the Senate, will impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2, CAATSA 
sanctions--yet another Russia sanctions bill that both Senator Shaheen 
and I voted for, that we both advocated and supported, and that the 
Biden administration is refusing to apply--if the Senate will impose 
those sanctions, I will happily, enthusiastically lift my holds on 
these nominees, and Senator Shaheen can take her map of Europe and 
color in all of those countries. We can do that right now by doing the 
right thing substantively.
  By the way, this is the one step which has a real possibility of 
stopping a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  This past weekend, the Biden administration declassified their own 
internal projections that an invasion is imminent; it could happen as 
soon as January or February. And if we see Russian tanks in the streets 
of Kiev, it will

[[Page S9075]]

be because Joe Biden surrendered to Putin and Senate Democrats weren't 
willing to hold him to account.
  I hope that is not the case. We can act right now to sanction Nord 
Stream 2 to stop the pipeline from being operational, to stop Putin and 
the soldiers at the border to prevent the invasion, and to clear these 
ambassadorial nominees that my Democratic colleagues want.
  Accordingly, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on Banking, 
Housing, and Urban Affairs be discharged from further consideration of 
S. 3322 and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration; I 
further ask that the bill be considered read a third time and passed; 
and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there an objection?
  The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, reserving the right to object.
  My colleague and I agree on our opposition to Nord Stream 2, but I am 
not looking at it, despite your accusations, through the same partisan 
lens that you are, Senator Cruz.
  And I would go back--I think you threw out a lot of red herrings in 
your initial objection there, one of which was to suggest that I said 
that you had a hold on our Ambassador to Ukraine, and I actually agree 
with you. I think this administration needed to appoint that Ambassador 
to Ukraine 8 months ago.
  And if you agree with me right now, then will you agree that you will 
not put a hold on the Ukraine nomination, once we get it--if we get it 
within the next couple of weeks, before the end of this year?
  I will ask you to think about that for a minute because I do think we 
need to have an Ambassador there. And that is certainly on my list of 
places in Europe where we need Ambassadors.
  But I think the bigger question now, you suggest that the mere action 
of sanctioning Nord Stream 2 would be enough to deter Putin and his 
ambitions in Ukraine. Sadly, I think that is a simplistic analysis of 
the situation that we are in because the biggest deterrent we can 
provide right now to what Putin is thinking about is to let him know 
that we are united with our allies in Europe on our opposition to any 
action he might take in Ukraine, that we are united with our NATO 
allies, that we are united with our European allies. And, 
unfortunately, one of those major allies is Germany.
  And I don't think it would be good for the unity message that we need 
to give to Putin to, at this point, sanction Nord Stream 2 because I 
think the Germans are going to come to that conclusion on their own. 
They have a new administration. They have a new administration that has 
issued some contracts--what they call contracts in developing their 
coalition government--that have a very different tone with respect to 
how they are talking about Russia and China, for that matter, and so I 
think it is more prudent.
  I also have real concerns about the current legislation on Nord 
Stream 2. But I think it is more prudent for us to continue to work 
with our allies to make clear to Putin what is at stake. And Nord 
Stream 2 is at stake if he goes into Ukraine. There is no about that. 
And right now, as we know, the certification of the pipeline has been 
delayed, and it has been delayed until well after the first of the 
year. We are not sure what the timetable is, but it is going to be 
sometime after the spring.
  So I just came to a different conclusion than you did, Senator Cruz, 
about the best way to deter Putin at this point. I think it is to work 
together. It is not to poke a finger at our most prominent ally on this 
issue and suggest that we create those divisions, which is what you 
would like to do.
  And I think, furthermore, that the efforts to undermine our 
appointment of Ambassadors and our ability for the State Department to 
conduct foreign policy further weakens our ability to negotiate with 
Putin. And it sends a message about divisions within Congress that is 
really not helpful. It is not helpful as Putin is watching us; it is 
not helpful as China is watching us.
  So you and I just have fundamentally different views of how best to 
address this issue and how we can achieve the goal that we both want, 
which is to end Nord Stream 2 and reduce Europe's dependence on Russia 
and to prevent Putin from invading Ukraine.
  So, Mr. President, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Is there objection to the original request?
  The Senator from Texas.
  Mr. CRUZ. Mr. President, reserving the right to object. You know, I 
would note that Senator Shaheen said it was simplistic to say that 
sanctioning Nord Stream 2 would stop a Russian invasion of Ukraine. And 
in that, Senator Shaheen may well be right.
  I cannot guarantee that Nord Stream 2 sanctions would prevent an 
invasion of Ukraine. What we do know is, it has in the past--what we do 
know is that in 2014, when Putin invaded Ukraine in the Crimea, that he 
stopped short of a full invasion because he needed the Ukrainian energy 
  And we also know that, during the more than a year in which the Cruz-
Shaheen sanctions were in effect and Nord Stream 2 was dead, that Putin 
didn't amass troops in preparation for an invasion. So we know that it 
has been effective.
  And we also know, although I cannot promise that sanctioning Nord 
Stream 2 would prevent an invasion--we know the obverse is true, which 
is that allowing Nord Stream 2 to go online and become operational 
would invite an invasion.
  Senator Shaheen noted that the certification process is expected to 
be concluded in January or February of next year.
  I would note that according to the Biden administration's own 
documents, the Russian invasion is expected, potentially, in January or 
February of next year. I do not believe it is coincidental that the 
instant Putin can turn on the switch of Nord Stream 2 is when the tanks 
are preparing to invade.
  If the Senate Democrats continue their partisan blockade of 
sanctions, they are inviting a Russian invasion.
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Will my colleague let me ask a question?
  Mr. CRUZ. I would happily consent to a colloquy.
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. I just want to correct what I said because I think the 
Senator mischaracterized it.
  What I said was, we know that the certification has been delayed 
until after the first of the year, and it is not likely to happen until 
after the spring, which is well later than January, February, So I just 
want to correct for the record that. And I think if you look at what is 
being proposed, you will find that it is even later than that.

  Mr. CRUZ. Well, I will accept that correction. I don't believe the 
Senator said the spring. I think the Senator said after the first of 
the year, but--
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Then I went on to say, after the spring, as well. I 
just want the Senator to listen to what I said.
  Mr. CRUZ. I do not think it is coincidental that the timing of Nord 
Stream 2 and the timing of an invasion are intertwined.
  Now, Senator Shaheen also suggested the way to prevent an invasion is 
to be united with our allies. I actually agree with that.
  I would point out that this summer, when President Biden waived the 
sanctions on Nord Stream 2, do you know what our allies said? Ukraine 
and Poland put out a joint statement. I would encourage you to read the 
joint statement from the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Poland 
because they denounced the Biden administration for waiving sanctions 
on Nord Stream 2.
  And do you know what Ukraine told us? That waiving those sanctions 
makes a military attack on Ukraine much more likely. That is what 
Poland told us.
  Senator Shaheen knows that. She has spoken with the governments of 
both countries, I am sure. I have spoken with the governments of both 
countries. And they adamantly believe that waiving those sanctions is a 
major force increasing the likelihood of a Russian invasion.
  You know, one of the things that is striking in the debates we have 
had in Nord Stream 2, throughout the course of all of this, we have yet 
to see a single Democrat stand up and defend the Biden administration's 
waiver of sanctions on Nord Stream 2 on the merits. They all know it is 
  The only arguable benefit that the Biden White House claims is they

[[Page S9076]]

earned some good will with Angela Merkel. Angela Merkel had been the 
leader of Germany. But, as Senator Shaheen noted, she is no longer the 
leader of Germany. The German people voted her party out of office. And 
the new administration is expected to oppose Nord Stream 2.
  So we literally have a situation in which the Biden White House 
surrendered to Russia, gave a multibillion-dollar pipeline to finance 
the Russian military, abandon our Ukrainian allies, and did it all in 
search of good will from a leader who is no longer in office.
  Do you want us to be united? The European Parliament voted to condemn 
Nord Stream 2. The last vote was roughly 500 to 50 to condemn Nord 
Stream 2. Do you want to be united? How about if we stand with the 500 
and not the 50?
  If Senate Democrats would not object to my motion, we would be 
standing with the whole of Europe, and we would be united.
  And a final observation, Senator Shaheen decried the holds as an 
effort to undermine Ambassadors. I would note that I have offered here, 
as I have offered many, many times--as I have offered in writing as far 
back as August of this year--to lift the holds if we adopt policy that 
actually stands up to Russia.
  Senator Shaheen says her changed position is not partisan. I 
understand why one would want to say that. But her substantive argument 
is, now, she doesn't want us to disagree with Germany.
  Well, when Senator Shaheen and I authored Cruz-Shaheen in 2019, when 
we authored the second Cruz-Shaheen in 2020, when we passed both of 
them, we were disagreeing with Germany. The German Government was very 
unhappy with it. But it was the right thing for American national 
security. Nothing has changed.
  And by the way, when there was a Republican President in the White 
House, I repeatedly took on the Trump administration and pressed them 
on this issue. The only thing that has changed--one thing has changed: 
the letter behind the name of the person in the White House. Now, it is 
a ``D'' and not an ``R.'' And all the Democrats who gave speeches on 
Nord Stream 2, suddenly, we hear crickets. That needs to change.
  I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard.
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I just want to clarify a couple of 
things that Senator Cruz said. One is that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline 
was completed, despite those sanctions, because what Russia did was to 
employ their own ships with Gazprom and complete the Nord Stream 2 
pipeline despite the sanctions that we had threatened. And it was, in 
fact, not until right before he left office that President Trump 
actually invoked some of those sanctions.
  So, again, I think the response has been somewhat simplistic in terms 
of what we really need to do now to address what is happening with 
Russia and Ukraine. And I certainly applaud our allies: Poland and 
Ukraine. But I think we need to stand united with many more of our 
allies in Europe in order to deter Putin that the United States, 
Poland, and Ukraine probably are not going to do it on our own, and we 
need all of us to act together.
  Also, you know, maybe if we had our Ambassador to the EU, he could 
have reported to the Senate what the vote was in the EU about Nord 
Stream 2, but because he is still on hold, we haven't had a chance to 
hear from him.
  I would also point out that at this time in the first year of the 
Trump administration, 44 of his Ambassadors had been confirmed, 
compared to 13 for the Biden administration. And, you know, it seems 
like there ought to be a number of things we can agree on. And by the 
way, there was going to be a vote on Nord Stream 3 before some of your 
colleagues objected to the process under the Defense bill. If that 
hadn't happened, we would have actually had a vote on Nord Stream 2 and 
we could see what the view of this body is. But, unfortunately, it was 
because of those objections that we didn't get that vote.

  I think, again, if you look at our ability to conduct our foreign 
policy and to be effective against Vladimir Putin, one of the most 
important things we can do is to put in place our diplomats so that 
they can help advance American foreign policy.
  What is happening right now, in addition to those people you have on 
hold, we have over 50 State Department nominees on hold because of your 
objections and the objections of some of your other colleagues. Again, 
I don't think that is where most of the Members of your caucus are. I 
think most of them, while they may not agree with all these 
Ambassadors, they would agree that we should go forward and allow our 
foreign policy to move forward with diplomats.
  I understand your objection to Nord Stream 2. As I said, I have 
objected to Nord Stream 2. But I think at this point what we need to do 
is look at how we can conduct our foreign policy in a way that best 
puts pressure on Vladimir Putin, and I just disagree with you that that 
is going to do it right now.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.
  Mr. CRUZ. Mr. President, a brief moment of clarification. Several of 
the facts that I said in my remarks are undisputed because they are 
  No. 1, it is a fact that Putin stopped construction of Nord Stream 2 
the day--the exact day--that President Trump signed the Cruz-Shaheen 
sanctions into law--that day--and the pipeline was dormant for over a 
  Now, Senator Shaheen said Putin ultimately went back to building the 
pipeline even with the sanctions on the books. That is true--after Joe 
Biden was sworn into office. Putin began building the pipeline on 
January 24, 2021, 4 days after Biden was sworn in. Not a foot of the 
pipeline was built between December of 2019, when the sanctions were 
signed into law, and January 24. Putin began building the pipeline 
because Biden telegraphed his surrender.
  Secondly, Senator Shaheen suggested that if only we had an 
ambassador, we might know what the European Parliament did. Thankfully, 
we have these magic little devices that let us cross the Atlantic in 
the twinkle of an eye, so we actually know that the European Parliament 
voted roughly 500 to 50 to condemn Nord Stream 2. So if we want to 
stand united with Europe--not just Ukraine and Poland; Europe--we want 
to stand up to Nord Stream 2.
  A final point I will say to Senator Shaheen perhaps is a word of 
encouragement, which is that I have right now pending an offer with the 
Democratic leadership to lift a number of these holds--a significant 
number of these holds--if the Democratic leadership will agree to a 
vote on Nord Stream 2 sanctions. We are engaged in productive 
negotiations on that issue. If the Democrats cease obstruction, we can 
have that vote, and a number of these holds can be lifted. But that 
ultimately is going to be a decision for Senate Democrats.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.

                        Honoring Brian Bourgeois

  Mr. CASSIDY. Pretty handsome guy, huh? Real handsome guy in his dress 
blues. Today, the citizens of Lake Charles in the State of Louisiana 
and our country mourn the loss of this U.S. Navy SEAL and commander of 
SEAL Team 8. Commander Bourgeois, Brian Bourgeois, died from injuries 
suffered during a training accident Saturday. We lost a SEAL, a 
dedicated patriot, a son, husband, father, and hero.
  Commander Bourgeois was born 43 years ago in Lake Charles, LA. He 
dedicated his adult life to family and to service to our country. He 
began by enrolling in the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he graduated 
in May 2001. During his two-decade-long career, Commander Bourgeois 
served honorably, led his men bravely, and made our country proud.
  The long list of honors and medals Commander Bourgeois earned for his 
service to our country includes a Bronze Star marked with a ``V,'' 
denoting heroic acts performed during combat; two Defense Meritorious 
Service Medals; a Joint Service Commendation Medal; two Marine Corps 
Commendation Medals; two Marine Corps Achievement Medals; a Combat 
Action Ribbon; a National Defense Service Medal; an Iraq Campaign 
Medal; and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He was as decorated 
as he was loved.
  At the annual Army-Navy game scheduled for this weekend, to honor

[[Page S9077]]

Commander Bourgeois--a brother and former member of the Midshipmen 
football team--the Navy team will run out onto the field with a flag of 
SEAL Team 8. That banner, representing his spirit, will fly alongside 
the American flag, the Navy flag, and the Marine Corps flag.
  The Navy Football Brotherhood, a nonprofit organization aimed at 
supporting the families of their fallen teammates, is leading 
fundraising efforts to help support the Bourgeois family.
  Our country has and always will depend on our most noble answering 
the call to serve. To his wife Megan and five children, your father 
represents the best of our Nation. He is a hero who dedicated his life 
to defending our country and protecting the lives of every American. 
For that, we will be forever grateful and shall never forget his 
service and sacrifice.
  Please join me in taking this moment in silent prayer for Commander 
Bourgeois, his family, and all who loved and knew him.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.


  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to talk about 
the threat that is posed by communist China.
  China's economy has grown sevenfold in just the last two decades. 
China already has a million members in terms of active-duty soldiers. 
China also has the largest navy in the world. That is right--it is now 
larger than ours, and the Chinese military is not stopping. China plans 
to build more than 100 new ships in the next 8 years, and in those same 
8 years, China is also building about 300 missile silos and plans to 
have 1,000 nuclear missiles. Several times this year, China has tested 
hypersonic weapons capable of use around the world. At the same time, 
the world has witnessed increasing Chinese aggression. China's goal is 
unmistakable: It truly wants to become the world's one dominant power.
  Since day 1, the Biden administration has been caught flatfooted as 
President Joe Biden has been soft on China. This is no surprise given 
the fact that Joe Biden has been soft on China for 50 years. When he 
was Vice President, he said:

       A rising China is a positive . . . development, not only 
     for China but for America and the world writ large.

  During his run for President, Candidate Joe Biden said China was not 
a threat to the United States. During his announcement speech when he 
was announcing he was going to be a candidate for President, he said:

       They're not bad folks. They're not competition for us.

  Joe Biden should tell that to the working families in factory towns 
who have been put out of business by communist China. He should tell 
that to the families who lost loved ones to fentanyl and other opioids 
made in China. He should tell that to the Uighurs and ethnic minorities 
persecuted and used as slave labor by the Communist Party.
  I have to tell you, leaders on both sides of the aisle here have been 
shocked by those comments by then-candidate for President Joe Biden. 
Many Democrats recognize the danger posed by communist China. 
Regrettably, our President, Joe Biden, is not one of them.
  On issue after issue, the Biden administration's policies are only 
making China stronger, and at the same time, that makes America weaker. 
I want to just mention a few.
  President Biden's first budget proposed to basically supersize the 
Government of the United States--huge budget increases in every 
government Agency you can think of except for two. The two were Defense 
and Homeland Security.
  His political appointees at the Pentagon seem more focused on climate 
change and ``dissident ideologies'' and vaccine mandates than on 
security threats to our Nation.
  While China's military is growing, ours is going broke and ours is 
going woke. That is the difference fundamentally today.
  Joe Biden has stopped America's policy of helping developing 
countries use fossil fuels to eliminate poverty and grow their 
economies. Who are these other countries turning to for help now? Well, 
they are turning to communist China.
  Joe Biden seems to be doing everything he can to shut down coal 
production here in America. Wyoming is proud to be America's leading 
coal producer, and we have been for 35 years straight. Coal is the most 
affordable and reliable energy source known to man. Yet Joe Biden is 
determined to drive down coal production and drive energy jobs 
  China is not making this same mistake. China is acting in its own 
self-interest. China is producing and using more coal than ever before. 
China is also funding the construction of coal-fired powerplants as 
part of their Belt and Road Initiative.
  The Biden administration and the Democrats have also put a big 
Christmas present to China in their reckless tax-and-spending spree 
because the bill includes trillions of dollars in new taxes on American 
businesses. As a result, some of our tax rates are going to be higher 
than those in China. It is going to make it cheaper to do business 
overseas, and that is exactly what many companies will do.
  According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, the taxes in this bill 
that the Senate is trying to push on the Democrats' side of the aisle 
and Republicans are trying to stop--the taxes in the bill will 
eliminate 125,000 American jobs.
  Democratic giveaways for electric vehicles will also send additional 
money directly to China. Electric vehicles use lithium batteries. A 
critical mineral necessary for those batteries relies on child labor in 
cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and slave labor in 
China. At the same time, Democrats' spending bill would virtually end 
mining on Federal lands here at home. Instead of getting the minerals 
we need at home in Wyoming, we are going to get them from China.
  More than a million Muslims in the western part of China have been 
put into slave labor camps. In many cases, those people are forced to 
make solar panels.
  Last week, Senator Rubio offered an amendment to the Defense bill to 
ban imports from Chinese companies using slave labor. This is the same 
legislation that this Senate passed unanimously in July.
  Yet now Democrats are kowtowing to an administration weak on China, 
and are blocking Senator Rubio's proposal.
  Why have the House Democrats failed to move forward on this critical 
  According to the Washington Post, it is because the Biden 
administration asked them to.
  The Washington Post reports: ``While the administration supports the 
legislation in public, they are asking Democrats to essentially water 
it down in private''--that from the Washington Post.
  On issue after issue, Democrat policies are only making America 
weaker and making China stronger. It is no wonder only a quarter of 
Americans approve of how President Biden is handling China.
  On Monday, the President announced the United States will boycott 
next year's Olympics in Beijing. This is a good first step, but it is 
not enough. Symbolism is not enough. It is time for Democrats to wake 
up from this threat from communist China before it is way too late.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.


  Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. President, on Tuesday, at 3 in the morning, the 
people at Instagram published a blog post describing another laundry 
list of product updates they claim will make their platform less toxic 
for children and teens.
  And I am sure they thought that the dead of night was the right time 
to make this announcement, and I don't blame them. If I wanted to pass 
off something and just give a little lip service and a little 
deflection and make it look like some type of meaningful reform, I 
might try a 3 a.m. news dump also.
  Because what they did was to put up changes on how to handle things 
on their site with drug use and self-harm and violence and eating 
disorders and low self-esteem and human trafficking and bullying.
  What they told us is they know there is violence and adverse content 

[[Page S9078]]

their site. And, yesterday, at the hearing at our Consumer Protection 
Subcommittee of the Commerce Committee, Senator Blumenthal and I made 
it fairly clear to our friends from the Silicon Valley that they cannot 
escape accountability for what is happening on their site--not from 
Congress and not from the American people. I am talking about the moms, 
the dads, the teachers, the pediatricians, who approach me every single 
day that I am in Tennessee.
  They are worried about their kids, and the concern is not the product 
of generational differences. When they were growing up, drugs and 
eating disorders and bullying were problems, but--you know what, Mr. 
President--they weren't inescapable.
  Now these horrible things follow our children every minute of every 
day, all courtesy of Big Tech. So, yes, when a company like Instagram 
claims that they are going to do more to support parents and to keep 
kids safe, Tennesseans listen, but they don't take their word for it. 
They test it out. They look for evidence of accountability.
  And with all of these updates that they posted, they didn't give us 
transparency. They didn't give a timeline for when they are going to be 
implemented. Basically, they said: We know this is a problem, and we 
will get around to fixing it at some point in the future.
  They are still not making changes.
  I do want to thank Chairman Blumenthal and other members of the 
subcommittee for staying focused on this issue. This time around, we 
had Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri on the witness stand, and it really was 
perfect timing.
  You know, yesterday's hearing was the fifth time this year that the 
subcommittee has met to discuss what Congress and Big Tech should do to 
protect our precious children online. It was the fourth time I have 
personally spoken to someone from Meta, as they now call themselves, 
which is Instagram's parent. And by this point, I felt like maybe they 
would come forward with something concrete for us: This is how we are 
going to get things done.
  But, no, nothing changes.
  This week, my staff put themselves through yet another deep dive into 
the dark corners of Instagram and confirmed that there has been no 
crackdown on dangerous content, as Instagram has previously claimed.
  We searched for posts that glorified eating disorders and drug use, 
and it took them about 30 seconds to find those posts glorifying drug 
use and eating disorders. And they are not nearly as good at this as 
the 14- and 15-year-olds who are on this platform are at finding this 
  If they can find this content given half a minute and a decent 
internet connection, then why can't Instagram find this? Why do they 
continue to deny that it is there?
  One of the things that shocked me the most with Mr. Mosseri's 
testimony was his refusal to admit that this content is still 
pervasive. He was absolutely sure that we were hitting him with 
anecdotal evidence, and he said as much.
  But it wasn't just me finding this terrible content on the platform; 
it was everyone on our committee, Democrat and Republican. There was 
agreement. We all came to the table with evidence of what we had found 
  I will still stipulate that we all share the same goal of protecting 
our children and teens online, but nothing has made me question that 
more than watching executive after executive from platform after 
platform deny the existence of these problems.
  The time for talking through these problems is over. The people who 
work for Big Tech at Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Google are 
all aware of this problem. They don't need congressional hearings to 
tell them that there are platforms--their platforms--that are hotbeds 
for trafficking, drug use, bullying, and the glorification of eating 
  They don't need me to come to the dais with evidence that their 
current protections don't work and that more of the same won't 
magically turn the tide. They know it, and we know that they know it. 
And their knowledge, it hasn't changed a single thing about their 
business model.
  Fortunately, we have bipartisan momentum to put some guardrails back 
on these companies. We are working on children's privacy, data 
security, and Section 230 reforms. We are also working on a national 
consumer privacy bill and kids' specific policies to keep minors safe 
online. No more half measures; no more empty promises.
  I have been working in tech policy for quite a while now, and I 
watched companies like Instagram grow from these tiny, great ideas and 
startups into multibillion-dollar corporations, the largest in our 
country. Their platforms are integrated into our lives, our culture, 
our politics. They are upstream from everything.
  Unfortunately, they are also places where teens can go to buy drugs, 
bully their classmates, find human traffickers, sex traffickers, and 
where girls waste away. If anyone deserves an explanation from Big 
Tech, it is the children and teens and their parents who are suffering 
because of these companies.
  I invite my colleagues to join me in holding these companies 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.

                      Unanimous Consent Agreement

  Mr. SCHATZ. I ask unanimous consent that, at 6:15 p.m., all 
postcloture time on the House message to accompany S. 610 be expired; 
that the motion to concur with amendment be withdrawn; that if cloture 
is invoked on the Koh nomination, the Senate vote immediately--vote 
immediately--on the motion to invoke cloture on the Sung nomination; 
further, that if cloture is invoked on either nomination, all 
postcloture time be expired and the confirmation vote on the Koh 
nomination occur at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, December 13, and the 
confirmation vote on the Sung nomination occur at a time to be 
determined by the majority leader in consultation with the Republican 
leader; further, that the cloture motions on the Elliott nomination and 
on the House message to accompany S. 1605 ripen on Tuesday, December 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SCHATZ. For the information of Senators, there will be three 
rollcall votes beginning at 6:15.

                       Unanimous Consent Request

  Mr. SCHATZ. Mr. President, I want to rise today to support the 
nominations of Victoria Wassmer to be Chief Financial Officer of the 
Department of Transportation, and Mohsin Syed to be the Department's 
Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs.
  Right now, we are facing supply chain issues. The reason for this 
includes unprecedented demand for goods, market disruptions caused by 
the pandemic, and greater demand.
  But the biggest issue is the lack of investment in our Nation's 
infrastructure over the past half century. Simply put, we need better 
infrastructure to move things in, out, and across the country. And that 
is why it is so important that we pass the bipartisan infrastructure 
  The bill provides a historic $567 billion to the Department of 
Transportation, including $37 billion for freight investments. It 
creates new programs to reduce bottlenecks and ease supply chain 
  The $1.5 billion for my home State of Hawaii will give a massive 
boost to our local economy. But DOT needs staff to make this investment 
  Ms. Wassmer is well qualified to serve as CFO, with private- and 
public-sector experience, including as CFO of the FAA.
  The same goes for Mr. Syed as Assistant Secretary for Governmental 
Affairs. He spent 6 years on Capitol Hill, including in my office, and 
worked in the DOT general counsel's office. That is why he passed out 
of the Commerce Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support, and 
that is why it is so maddening that Republicans are now refusing to 
move these nominations forward.
  These are not controversial individuals. This is basically a blanket 
hold to stop the government from functioning, to stop the 
infrastructure bill from being implemented. And nobody wins here. We 
don't win passing a huge bill and then kneecapping it. And the American 
people who sent us here to serve certainly don't win.
  So let us do our job and move these nominees forward. And so, 
therefore, I

[[Page S9079]]

ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding rule XXII, the Senate 
proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations: 
Executive calendar Nos. 468 and 469; that the nominations be confirmed; 
the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table 
with no intervening action or debate; that no further motions be in 
order the nominations; that any related statements be printed in the 
Record; and that the President be immediately notified of the Senate's 
action, and that the Senate resume legislative session.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. SCOTT of Florida. Mr. President, reserving the right to object.
  I am sure my colleague is aware that, last month, I sent a letter to 
the Commerce Committee--a committee on which we both serve--informing 
the chair that I would be holding all Department of Transportation and 
Department of Commerce nominees until the Senate-confirmed leadership 
from these Agencies testify about the supply chain crisis.
  Right now, there are nearly 100 ships waiting to dock in California 
ports to unload their goods, but they are unable to do so because of 
President Biden's supply chain crisis. Christmas is just a couple weeks 
away, and families and businesses are facing empty shelves, shortages 
on goods, and higher prices. And, so far, Secretary Raimondo and 
Secretary Buttigieg have been too busy playing TV commentator to 
actually go to California and solve the problem.
  It is long past time for the Biden administration to tell us what 
they are actually doing to solve this crisis and help American 
  I appreciate my colleague's partnership with me on the issues under 
the purview of the Commerce Committee. In fact, I am looking forward to 
next week, when the bill we are putting together will be considered 
during a Commerce markup hearing.
  Given that we will be in session next week, I would urge my 
colleagues to join me in urging leadership from the Commerce and 
Transportation Departments that come before the committee and testify 
on what those Agencies are doing to combat and mitigate the supply 
chain crisis that is hurting so many families and businesses in Florida 
and across the country.
  This isn't an unreasonable request. The Senate has oversight 
authority, and we can't allow Agency leadership to just ignore their 
responsibility to report to us on these issues impacting our 
  But if that is too much to ask, I am inviting Secretary Raimondo and 
Secretary Buttigieg to even just have an open, public meeting with me 
and my colleagues. But until we hear from Senate-confirmed officials 
responsible for this crisis in the Commerce committee, I will be 
objecting to all Commerce and Transportation nominees going through an 
expedited process here in the Senate.
  This isn't personal. It is about accountability for Florida families. 
Therefore, Mr. President, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.

                    Tribute to Judge Patrick Carroll

  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I rise--I want to thank Senator Schatz for 
making that motion and his fight for these nominees to get the 
government running, when the chairman of the Senate Republican Campaign 
Committee and others continue to block one nominee after another 
nominee after another nominee.
  I rise to honor an Ohio public servant who is retiring this month 
after 32 years of service on the bench in Northeast Ohio.
  Judge Patrick Carroll, whom I knew 30 years ago before he was on the 
bench, as a--just a good citizen of Cuyahoga County, has dedicated his 
life to serving Ohioans, including serving as Lakewood Municipal Court 
Judge for some three decades.
  He grew up in Northeast Ohio. Judge Carroll spent his life in the 
community, from Cleveland State to the Cleveland-Marshall College of 
Law, to the county prosecutor's office, to the local bench.
  He not only served the public in the courtroom, he has been a 
lifelong teacher--by many different definitions--mentoring young 
attorneys and judges at his law school and then on the faculty of the 
Ohio Judicial College.
  Twice in the last 3 years, Judge Carroll received the President's 
Award for Judicial Excellence from the Association of Municipal and 
County Court Judges of Ohio.
  I had the privilege of joining him earlier this fall, along with Ohio 
Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, for a bipartisan event of 
highlighting the innovative work that they were both doing.
  Judge Carroll--the innovative work that they have done preventing 
evictions during the pandemic helped get the word out to more Ohio 
judges about what they can do to connect Ohio with the emergency rental 
assistance that we provided back months ago from the Congress.
  In the American Rescue Plan, we provided grants to State and local 
governments for emergency rental and utility assistance to families 
across the country. The last thing we wanted was a wave of evictions 
during the health crisis. We know people move in with family members, 
the COVID spreads even faster. We know that happened too often.
  This eviction prevention effort was a lifeline for so many families 
that that might have happened to.
  We know what it does to families even during normal times. Think 
about the upheaval that that causes, especially for children. Their 
health suffers. They may get pulled out of their school to go to a 
different school. They may have to give up their pet because the pet 
costs too much money. You can't bring them to a new apartment. They 
don't feel stable. It is much harder for their parents to get back to 
work using public transportation, if they are even served, and to earn 
a living.
  As all of us know, when people are evicted, they end up in crowded 
shelters or moving in with family. It makes them more vulnerable to 
coronavirus. It makes it more likely to spread, especially among people 
who are not vaccinated.
  We know that 90 percent of the hospitalizations--whether it is 
Columbus, GA, or Columbus, OH--90 percent of patients in hospitals with 
COVID are unvaccinated.
  Finding another place to rent after an eviction is much, much harder.
  After we passed the American Rescue Plan, not enough people knew help 
was available to them. That is where Judge Carroll came in. That is 
where Chief Justice O'Connor came in. The work they have done to divert 
eviction proceedings and connect people with help is literally 
lifesaving for many.
  He taught courses to the State judiciary on eviction law. He worked 
with tenants and landlords to divert eviction proceedings. Judges can 
work to connect both renters and landlords with the help available to 
  Ohio leads the way because of Judge Carroll and because of Chief 
Justice O'Connor in preventing evictions and connecting people with 
their potential emergency rental assistance. These actions by the 
judges encourage them to--tenants to explore all rental assistance 
options before the judge proceeds with an eviction case.
  Since the start of the pandemic, more than 1,000 households in 
Lakewood, OH, a suburb west of Cleveland, have been connected with some 
form of rental help--more than 1,000 households. That is because of the 
work that Judge Carroll did and the work that Justice O'Connor has done 
around the State. It is the kind of success we want to see replicated 
in Ohio and across the country.
  In September, Judge Carroll told us that judges need to ``recognize 
eviction cases are more than civil cases for disposition. An eviction 
order impacts a person's life, home and property, and in many cases, 
the lives of children who are uprooted from school when forced to 
  He is a judge that--as President Lincoln used to tell his staff, I 
have got to leave the White House and go out and get my public opinion 
bath. That is what Judge Carroll as a judge does. It is not necessarily 
something most judges do, but when he does that, he finds out what he 
can do as a judge to prevent families from being evicted.
  We need more judges in Ohio and around the country to follow his lead 
in a final push to get rental assistance to Americans in need.

[[Page S9080]]

  The Biden administration has worked throughout the year with us on 
eviction--on help for evictions, on emergency rental assistance, 
cutting redtape, encouraging State and local governments to move faster 
to get this help to families and landlords. That work has delivered 
impressive results. More than 520,000 renters received emergency rental 
assistance in October alone.
  It means those families were able to keep their homes, keep their 
lights on in October, work to get back on their feet, and recover from 
the pandemic.
  In total, more than 2\1/2\ million payments have gone out to tenants 
and landlords. Now, with the end of the year approaching, we need that 
final push to get funding to the renters and the landlords who need it.
  As Judge Carroll prepares for a well-earned retirement, it is my hope 
that this will be an important part of his legacy--of the work Chief 
Justice O'Connor does and the work that they do in Ohio and we can do 
around the country--as an example to public servants in Ohio and all 
over the United States, showing how we can keep a roof over families' 
heads, allow landlords to pay their bills, and emerge stronger from 
this pandemic.
  I urge my colleagues--ask them to join me in honoring Judge Patrick 
Carroll and a lifetime of service to the people of my great State.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.

                      Nomination of Jennifer Sung

  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, the Senate will soon vote on President 
Biden's nomination of my neighbor and fellow Oregonian, Jennifer Sung, 
to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  I guess I ought to save everybody some suspense. I am proud to 
support her nomination, and I just want to take a few minutes to talk 
about why she deserves the support of all Senators.
  First, with respect to her qualifications, Ms. Sung is a graduate of 
Oberlin College and Yale Law School. As a student, she volunteered to 
represent low-income patients at a local hospital. As a legal fellow at 
the Brennan Center for Justice, she fought on behalf of workers who 
toiled in poor conditions for little pay. In private practice, she 
defended the rights of all people in our country to work in safe and 
fair conditions, to get the healthcare they need, and to freely 
exercise their constitutional rights.
  Currently, Ms. Sung serves as a member of Oregon's Employment 
Relations Board. That is the board that adjudicates disputes over labor 
practices and employment law. She has decided more than 200 cases in 
that role. She has proven her impartiality, which I think we all 
understand is fundamental to what we need in a justice. And she has 
certainly shown her diligence and her commitment to justice. Her 
qualifications, in my view, simply cannot be questioned.
  Second, I have had the chance to get to know Ms. Sung personally 
since her nomination, and what struck me is we both have a family story 
that is only possible here in our great country. Members of her family 
fled political persecution and violence in China in the 1940s--the 
Wydens fled the terror or Nazis just a few years earlier--and they 
barely spoke any English when they arrived here in their new home.
  Our country provided safety and opportunity for my family and for Ms. 
Sung's family. And I have always found that so many who have that 
family story take a special interest in protecting the rights and the 
freedoms Americans enjoy. That has been a hallmark of Ms. Sung's legal 
career, and it is something, in my view, that all Senators ought to 
  So I am proud to describe my Southeast Portland neighbor, Jennifer 
Sung, as a talented, committed individual who will be a great asset on 
the bench. She is going to be a superb judge.
  I urge all my colleagues to support Jennifer Sung when we vote soon 
on President Biden's nomination, Oregonian Jennifer Sung, to serve on 
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Utah.

                              Debt Ceiling

  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, the Senate, today, will pass a bill that, 
quite literally, gives a blank check to President Biden and the 
Democrats. They will use it to pass the ``destroy America bill,'' which 
they call Build Back Better.
  There is literally a blank check in the bill. It is literally a blank 
check. The Senators who gave that blank check don't want you to know 
that they did it. They used procedural jiujitsu to hide their votes. 
Republicans are hiding behind Democrats, and Democrats are hiding 
behind Republicans, but the American people see through it.
  They closed the doors, held their noses, and created a new way to 
pass bad bills and claimed that it was just this one time.
  Mark my words: This bill will be one more tool repeatedly used to 
abuse the American people.
  This debt ceiling increase is a blank check for the Democrats' 
reckless tax-and-spending bill. It should have never happened.