[Congressional Record Volume 167, Number 217 (Thursday, December 16, 2021)]
[Senate]
[Pages S9219-S9231]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                          MOTION TO DISCHARGE

  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, pursuant to S. Res. 27, the Committee 
on the Judiciary being tied on the question of reporting, I move to 
discharge the Senate Committee on the Judiciary from further 
consideration of the nomination of Holly A. Thomas, of California, to 
be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit from the Committee 
on the Judiciary.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the provisions of S. Res. 27, there will 
now be up to 4 hours of debate on the motion, equally divided between 
the two leaders or their designees, with no motions, points of order, 
or amendments in order.
  Mr. SCHUMER. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays are ordered.


                          Tribute to Jack Reed

  Mr. SCHUMER. Now, Madam President, I want to begin today with some 
celebrations.
  Recently, our dear colleague and friend Senator Jack Reed of Rhode 
Island cast his 8,000th vote as a Senator--a remarkable milestone for 
one of the most beloved and respected Members of this body.
  A lifelong Rhode Islander, a graduate of West Point, and the dean of 
the Rhode Island congressional delegation, Senator Reed is one of 
America's best examples of doing politics and public service the right 
way: no fuss, no nonsense--just results.
  Over the years, he has been a mentor, a friend, and an invaluable 
resource for countless Members on both sides of the aisle. Few in this 
Chamber can match his expertise on matters of national defense, 
veterans affairs, and the military. I would also add that the same can 
be said about matching his attendance. Over the years, he has missed 
just 38 votes on his way to 8,000--good for an attendance percentage of 
99.5 percent. Wow.
  As the Senate has undergone change over the years, Senator Reed has 
remained the same: focused on Rhode Island, focused on our country, 
focused on keeping this Chamber working on behalf of the American 
people. We are lucky to call Senator Reed our colleague and friend.
  And so congratulations, Jack, on this milestone, and here is to 8,000 
more votes to come.


                              Nominations

  Madam President, last night, I filed cloture on 22 of President 
Biden's nominees who, to date, have been pointlessly stalled by 
Republican obstruction--22. We are going to work until they are all 
confirmed by this Chamber, and we may need to add more.
  In past years, many of these nominees would have sailed through with 
consent and cooperation, but, this

[[Page S9220]]

year, a handful of Republicans have hijacked the rules of the Senate to 
slow the process down. It is cynical; it is entirely pointless; and 
worst of all, it is damaging--seriously damaging--to our national 
security.
  This is the consequence of Republican obstruction. We are going to 
work on getting these nominees confirmed as long as it takes, and we 
could be back here in the near future doing this whole thing over 
again.
  For all the tortured logic we hear coming from the other side for why 
these nominations remain frozen, the fact is that my Republican 
colleagues who are holding these nominations up are deliberately making 
the American people less safe and making it harder for the 
administration to address the national security and economic challenges 
that face our Nation.
  It is unacceptable, and we are going to work to confirm these 
important nominees.


                             Voting Rights

  Now, on voting rights, Madam President, as we continue working to 
bring the Senate to a position where we can move forward on Build Back 
Better, Senate Democrats have spent the past few weeks engaged in a 
separate discussion on addressing another critical and urgent 
priority--protecting the right to vote and safeguarding our elections.
  Yesterday, I joined with a number of my colleagues in detailed 
conversations about how the Senate will get voting rights done in time 
for the 2022 elections, including advancing the Freedom to Vote Act and 
the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
  In State after State, Republican-led legislatures are approving the 
most draconian voter registration laws that we have seen since 
segregation, and they are doing it on an entirely partisan basis. Let 
me repeat that. Republicans at the State level are passing the most 
egregious restrictions on voting rights that we have seen since 
segregation, and they are doing it on an entirely partisan basis.
  Senate Democrats are working to find a path forward to respond to 
these attacks by passing legislation like the Freedom to Vote Act and 
the Voting Rights Advancement Act. Part of that conversation involves 
finding ways to restore the Senate so it can, once again, work as it is 
supposed to, as it has worked for generations before the gridlock of 
the past decade or so.
  These conversations are ongoing. The fight to protect voting rights 
is far from over in the Senate. Just because Republicans will not join 
us to defend democracy does not mean that Democrats will stop fighting. 
This matter is too important not to act, even if it means we must act 
alone to get the Senate working.


                      Tribute to Sara Schwartzman

  Madam President, finally, a farewell--as anyone who has been here a 
while knows, the U.S. Senate is more than just the sum of its elected 
Members. Making this institution work is a daunting and awesome 
responsibility, and while the spotlight often falls on the men and 
women who stand behind these desks, this place would quickly unravel 
without the staff who work their magic behind the scenes.
  Today, we say goodbye and thank you to one of those incredible 
staffers, Sara Schwartzman, who will soon leave the Senate to pursue an 
opportunity with NASA.
  I join with all of my colleagues and with the rest of the Senate 
staff in saying thank you, Sara, and best of luck on the road ahead.
  Thirteen years ago, Sara came to the Senate as a legislative support 
clerk with the executive clerk's office. Over the years, she climbed up 
the ranks, thanks to her skill and to her dedication, eventually 
becoming bill clerk in 2015.
  For those who don't know, the bill clerk is one of the first 
gatekeepers for all new bills and resolutions that are introduced to 
the Senate. It is the bill clerk who brings order and sequence to the 
actions of this body, recording the Senate's legislative activities, 
assigning numbers to every bill and resolution, cataloging the status 
of each.
  In good times, this is difficult and precise work. But over the last 
few years, as we all know, Sara fulfilled her duties in the midst of a 
global pandemic and has had to adapt in unprecedented ways. Through it 
all, she never missed a beat.
  After 13 years, Sara deserves her gleaming sendoff as she pursues her 
next adventure in life. And as we say goodbye, we hope she knows she 
can always call this place home, and we will forever be grateful for 
all she has done to make this Chamber come to life.
  So to Sara, thank you. Thank you for everything. We will miss you, 
and we can't wait to see what the future has in store for you.
  (Applause.)
  I yield the floor.


                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Republican leader is recognized.


                                Kentucky

  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, Western Kentucky is still reeling 
from last weekend's devastating storm, but support is rolling in from 
around the Commonwealth, our region, and the country as well.
  Yesterday, I spoke with the CEO of LifePoint Health. They operate 10 
hospitals in Kentucky, including one in hard-hit Mayfield. 
Miraculously, their Jackson Purchase Medical Center survived the 
tornado mostly intact. Now it is offering much needed medical services 
right there in Mayfield.
  Nurses and doctors have worked literally day and night. LifePoint 
Health shipped water tankers to their facility to bolster local supply, 
and the company has pledged a million dollars to help Kentucky rebuild.
  Across our region, individuals and companies are opening their 
hearts, homes, and wallets to help.
  We have received important assistance from here in Washington as 
well. Yesterday, the President announced the Federal Government will 
fund the entire cost of debris removal and emergency protective 
measures in the eight counties hardest hit by the storm for the next 
month. Local officials won't need to worry about overstretching 
budgets. They can just focus on rebuilding.

  My team and I are working hard to continue connecting Kentuckians 
with the resources they need. I have set up a portal on my Senate 
office website to help my constituents access government assistance. It 
has a full list of services provided by our disaster response Agencies.
  Because of the Federal Government's swift action in the past week, 
victims of these tornadoes can access housing assistance, legal aid, 
crisis counseling, and more.
  I recommend every impacted Kentuckian take advantage of these 
resources, and my office is here to help you navigate.
  I will travel back to Kentucky tomorrow to visit several of the 
communities that were hit hardest and meet with local leaders who are 
spearheading recovery efforts. I will listen to their concerns and 
bring their stories back to Washington to ensure that they get the help 
they desperately need.
  The scene on the ground in Western Kentucky is still devastating and 
quite discouraging. For far too many families, this Christmas will be 
tragically abnormal. But we will continue to work together to provide 
Kentucky with the resources it needs to recover, bigger and better than 
before.


                         Build Back Better Act

  Now, Madam President, on an entirely different matter, two in three 
Americans want the Federal Government to ``cut back on spending and 
printing money.'' That is two out of three Americans want the Federal 
Government to cut back on spending and printing money. But our 
Democratic colleagues spent the last several months trying as hard as 
possible to do exactly--exactly--the opposite.
  Washington Democrats have spent months trying to borrow, print, and 
spend trillions more dollars, right into the teeth of the worst 
inflation in almost 40 years.
  They have sought to turn their monthly welfare entitlement with no 
work requirements from a temporary COVID measure into a permanent 
policy--cash welfare with no work requirements, literally forever.
  Seventy-six percent of Americans say these handouts haven't helped 
their families at all. Yet Democrats want to dump many billions more.
  Just step back and look at all the ways their leftwing wish list 
could hurt a young family in middle America.
  First, they would need to cross their fingers that the private or 
employer-sponsored insurance they chose to

[[Page S9221]]

meet their family's specific needs isn't shoved off a cliff in 
Democrats' latest lurch toward more socialized medicine. And they will 
have to hope their war on the medical innovation sector doesn't prevent 
the development of lifesaving cures their family might have relied on 
some years down the road.
  Say the family has one or two young kids. Maybe their ideal 
arrangement is a church-based daycare. They would need to say a prayer 
their faith-based center isn't sued and chased out of business thanks 
to Washington Democrats' toddler takeover.
  Their plan would give nothing to full-time parents, grandparent 
caregivers, nanny shares, or neighborhood co-ops. It would push faith-
based providers out of the public square by design, and it could 
inflate daycare costs--listen to this--by up to $12,000 or $13,000 per 
child per year.
  If Democrats get their way, let's hope neither parent is one of the 
many Americans who work in our domestic energy sector. Our colleagues' 
bill has a huge pile of new redtape aimed at putting their industry 
literally out of business.
  But no matter where they work, they will face inflated prices to heat 
their homes and fill up at the gas pump.
  For all of these bad ideas and many more, our colleagues wanted to 
spend trillions upon trillions more dollars right into the teeth--into 
the teeth--of runaway inflation that they have already caused.
  Yesterday, we got indications the far left's slapdash sprint may be 
hitting the pause button. Well, that would certainly be great news for 
the American people. The best Christmas gift Washington could give 
working families would be putting this bad bill on ice.


                              Senate Rules

  Madam President, now, on another matter, as cracks keep forming in 
the Democrats' reckless taxing-and-spending spree, some of our 
colleagues seemed to channel their frustration into even more radical 
attempts to attack our government institutions.
  In the span of a few hours, one Senate Democrat had renewed calls to 
``nuke'' the Senate and break the rules, and another published a 
national op-ed arguing that Democrats should attack the rule of law and 
pack the Supreme Court--two frontal assaults on two branches of 
government proposed in the space of about 2 hours. Entire generations 
of statesmen would have seen either one of these unhinged proposals as 
Armageddon for our institutions. Ah, but apparently today's Democrats 
try both at once and just call it Wednesday.

  We have heard false claims that the Senate obeying our rules to 
address the debt limit somehow paves the way for radicals to break the 
rules.
  Madam President, I would ask unanimous consent that an additional 
statement on that subject be printed in a different place in the 
Record.


                               Elections

  Madam President, so, look, we have discussed over and over again why 
Democrats will not be allowed to federalize our elections and lord over 
all 50 States like a self-appointed board of elections on steroids. My 
colleagues across the aisle have pushed absurd bills that would do 
things like neuter voter ID laws; make every State legalize ballot 
harvesting; turn the Federal Election Commission into a biased, 
partisan body; and even send taxpayer money to political campaigns.
  It isn't about ``voting rights''; it is a naked power grab. Democrats 
have been pushing the same kinds of bills literally for years, even as 
their stated justifications have changed wildly. When Republicans win 
elections or start polling well, Democrats and the media say our 
democracy is badly broken, on death's door, and needs a radical 
overhaul. The answers presented are these policies. When Democrats win 
elections, Democrats and the media say our democracy is sterling, 
beyond reproach, and just needs modest safeguards to protect the status 
quo, but, again, the answers presented are the very same policies.
  Lately, their pretext has been demagogic attacks on State voting laws 
and proposals. If any State scraps any of the temporary pandemic 
procedures that Democratic operatives favor, the radical left says the 
sky is falling. But outside of the liberal bubble, nobody buys this 
nonsense. The country is not buying the hysteria.
  On election day last month--listen to this--even in deep-blue New 
York, voters rejected liberal ballot measures that would have 
liberalized no-excuse absentee voting and loosened up the rules on 
voter registration. Both those were voted down in New York. Not even 
blue New York wants these policies to weaken their elections. But some 
Democrats want to break the Senate and trash its rules to force these 
sorts of things on all 50 States? It is beyond absurd.
  I understand my colleagues are frustrated they may not get to spend 
$4.9 trillion on the way out the door for Christmas, but, believe me, 
lashing out at our democracy, at the Supreme Court, and at the Senate 
itself is not going to solve anything.


                              Senate Rules

  Madam President, last week, bipartisan majorities in the Senate and 
House passed S. 610 and the President signed the bill into law.
  This law prevented painful Medicare cuts and established a one-time, 
expedited, simple-majority process to make Senate Democrats raise the 
nation's debt limit with only Democratic votes.
  This week, some far-left activists and Senate Democrats who have 
spent months agitating to ``nuke'' the Senate are pretending that S. 
610 represented some novel watershed for the Senate that gives them 
license to attack the institution.
  These are factual claims, and they are false.
  First, S. 610 needed to clear and did clear a 60-vote threshold. 
Sixty-four Senators voted to invoke cloture on the motion to concur in 
the House amendment. The Senate's consideration and passage of the bill 
fully obeyed the Standing Rules of the Senate.
  By contrast, ramming through a different fast-track procedure--or any 
other piece of legislation--with 50 votes over the objections of 
Senators requesting the 60-vote threshold would mean ``going nuclear,'' 
shredding the rules, and destroying the filibuster.
  Last week, the Senate followed the rules. The far left wants 
Democrats to break the rules. There is no comparison.
  Second, there was nothing novel about S. 610 establishing a new, 
limited, expedited, simple-majority Senate procedure via statute.
  The Senate has passed many such laws creating many such procedures. 
Examples date back at least to the 1930s.
  The much-used budget reconciliation process--with its limited, 
expedited, simple-majority Senate procedure--is a statutory creation of 
the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and its 
amendments.
  Other examples include the Trade Act of 1974, the Defense Base 
Realignment and Closure Act of 1990, the Congressional Review Act of 
1996, the Budget Control Act of 2011, and the Bipartisan Congressional 
Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. In all these 
instances, the Senate passed laws that set up new, limited, expedited, 
simple-majority Senate procedures for considering specific issues 
within specific parameters.
  In this historical context, the one-time Senate process that S. 610 
created was notably limited and minimalistic. It could only be accessed 
once, during a narrow stretch of time, for one specific purpose, with 
no other provisions or amendments permitted.
  In sum, the Senate's recent action on the debt limit did not change 
the filibuster any more than BRAC, TPA, or the Budget ``Super-
Committee'' changed the filibuster--which is to say, not at all.
  As the widely admired and acclaimed expert on Senate procedure Marty 
Gold summarized last week, ``this expedited procedure will be created 
in accordance with the Standing Rules of the Senate, through passage of 
a regular order bill. The entire process must begin with 60 votes. 
[And] if it becomes law, it will be the narrowest expedited procedure 
ever passed.''
  Last week's episode did not give radicals any pretext to wreck the 
Senate. Just the opposite. The Senate's functioning confirmed again 
that the current Senate rules generate bipartisan compromise when the 
country needs it.


                      Tribute to Sara Schwartzman

  Madam President, now on one final matter, when the Senate does 
adjourn

[[Page S9222]]

for the holidays, we will also bid farewell to a talented Senate staff 
leader who has kept our institution running.
  Sara Schwartzman is one of the Senate's finest. Sara has been a 
familiar face around the Senate and on the dais for more than a decade, 
and the most visible parts of her work as the Senate's bill clerk have 
certainly made her ``C-SPAN famous.''
  For years, she was among the foremost experts on the pronunciation of 
``Mr. Alexander.'' More recently, she has become well practiced in the 
delivery of ``Ms. Baldwin.'' But Sara's speaking role barely scratches 
the surface of her crucial responsibilities as the bill clerk. Day in 
and day out, she and her team are the traffic cops for mountains of 
legislative text and amendments. Sara tracks the paper and the records. 
Before the Senate can formally pass anything, it has to make a stop at 
her desk.
  As if these core duties weren't enough to keep even the most 
meticulous multitasker busy, Sara has generously made herself available 
to folks throughout the institution as an informal resource. Bill 
status? Procedural hurdles? Sara's encyclopedic expertise has been just 
a phone call away. It is safe to say her colleagues will miss this 
other sort of Senate hotline.
  As for Sara, one might worry that someone whose job is a part of 
every late-night vote and weekend session would struggle to fill her 
newfound free time, but I understand that, in this case, the Senate's 
loss is another storied institution's gain. Sara is leaving Washington 
but staying in public service, working in an exciting role with NASA.
  So, Sara, thank you for your years of service, and good luck in the 
exciting chapters ahead.
  (Applause.)
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic whip.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, let me first echo the comments of 
Senator McConnell, as well as Senator Schumer earlier, in wishing Sara 
Schwartzman the very best in her next undertaking.
  Whatever the challenge may be, I hope the hours are better because I 
know that the sacrifices made by you and members of our staff because 
of our peculiar scheduling in the Senate have caused some strains and 
stress and pressure and hardship.
  But thank you so much for making the Senate better with your service 
every single day.


                         Lithuania and Belarus

  Madam President, I have tried to visualize this experience so many 
times: It was in July of 1911, and a ship arrived in Baltimore from 
Germany. A family came down the gangplank. One of the members of the 
family was my grandmother, and she brought her three children. One of 
them was a 2-year-old little girl--blonde-haired--named Ona, my mother.
  How they managed to navigate their way through Baltimore and catch a 
train to East St. Louis, IL, I will never know because there were 
virtually none of them able to speak English, but they did. They 
arrived, and I grew up the son of a Lithuanian immigrant who was proud 
of what her family left behind and prouder still of what they found in 
this great country as Lithuanian Americans.
  I have had a special attachment and interest in the Baltic States--
and particularly Lithuania--ever since. It has been my good fortune to 
follow their history from Soviet occupation and oppression to freedom 
and democracy today.
  If you go on a search engine on your computer and type in the word 
``fearless,'' don't be surprised if the map of Lithuania pops up. This 
small nation, 2.6 million in population, has done some remarkable 
things in history and remarkable still in modern history.
  For half a century, millions lived under the tyranny and oppression 
of the Soviet Union. Before I was elected to public office, I went to 
visit Vilnius in Lithuania in 1978, and I saw Soviet rule firsthand. I 
am glad I did because it is such a sharp contrast to the Lithuania of 
today.
  In the late 1980s, things began to change, particularly in the Baltic 
States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Who can forget when 2 million 
people--2 million people--joined hands across these three nations to 
form a 420-mile Baltic Chain of Freedom in August of 1989. Not 
long thereafter, in February of the following year, Lithuania held its 
first free elections since World War II, voting for the country's first 
post-war noncommunist government. Immediately thereafter, the new 
Parliament voted to make Lithuania the first occupied Soviet republic 
to declare independence. Lithuania's bold move was followed later that 
year by Latvia and Estonia.

  These brave efforts culminated a year later in February of 1991 when 
the Lithuanian people voted for independence. Those brave Lithuanians 
30 years ago, including my friend, music professor, and national leader 
Vytautas Landsbergis, led that country back to democracy.
  That Lithuanian effort three decades ago is still alive today. As a 
vibrant and vital member of the European Union and NATO, this small and 
brave nation is standing firm against renewed Russian aggression and 
now Chinese economic intimidation and defending heroic efforts to end 
tyranny in Belarus. It is one of the most vocal countries on Earth in 
defending democratic values and norms. Is it because they have a 
nuclear stockpile? No. A massive army? No. They are just determined, 
principled people who are courageous.
  Some years ago, I visited the Lithuanian town of Rukla, where U.S. 
and German forces were rotating through as part of the European 
Reassurance Initiative aimed at keeping the Baltic safe from Russian 
aggression. There was good reason for it. They knew they had to take 
seriously what Putin might do against them.
  Russia, under Vladimir Putin, has undertaken regular military, cyber, 
and political efforts to destabilize Lithuania and the Baltic States, 
but Lithuania will not be bullied. And I am glad that in the just-
passed National Defense Authorization Act, we reaffirmed our commitment 
to Baltic security in the amendment that I offered.
  Lithuania is also standing firm against the giant nation of China, 
which is trying to cut off supplies and punish the Lithuanian economy 
simply because the Lithuanians have established trade ties with Taiwan. 
Yet again, Lithuania will not be bullied.
  On Lithuania's immediate border, there is a heroic struggle to end 
the last dictator in Europe, Lukashenko in Belarus. Most of us remember 
last year when this Belarusian dictator, Lukashenko, once again, after 
the bogus election results were announced, proceeded to jail those who 
had the temerity to run against him in the election. That has become 
normal with this man. This dictator, if somebody shows the nerve to run 
against him, will announce that he has beaten them by 80 percent-plus 
and then put them in jail.
  When popular social media personality Sergei Tikhanovsky found 
himself arbitrarily jailed, his wife Svetlana Tikhanovskaya 
courageously stepped in to run in his place. She probably won that 
election, but of course Lukashenko would never allow those results to 
be announced. So what did she do after the election, her husband in 
jail? She fled Belarus. Where did she go for safety for herself and her 
children? Lithuania. Not surprisingly, Lithuania. She found a welcoming 
nation next door, and she continues her struggle for a free and 
democratic Belarus out of Vilnius, Lithuania.
  Belarus and Russia have retaliated against Lithuania with cruel and 
manufactured migrant flows and other intimidation, but once again, 
Lithuania will not be bullied.
  Secretary of State Blinken understands the importance of this 
Lithuanian nation and continues to make sure they know they have 
friends in the United States. He recently hosted Lithuanian Foreign 
Minister and grandson of Vytautas Landsbergis at the State Department 
and then traveled to the Baltic States to reaffirm American solidarity.
  Blinken said clearly at the State Department that Foreign Minister 
Landsbergis ``has been such a strong voice for democracy and human 
rights not just in Lithuania, but around the world.'' I couldn't agree 
more. I couldn't be more proud.
  So let's use this 30th anniversary of Lithuanian independence to 
stand firm with our brave ally and recommit to our continued support 
for our Baltic allies through economic and security cooperation. Doing 
so will help ensure

[[Page S9223]]

the next 30 years of the longstanding U.S.-Baltic friendship are 
equally strong and fruitful.
  In early 2011, a trip through these same Baltic countries gave me one 
more extraordinary experience in my Senate career. I went on a road 
trip from the free, democratic Lithuania back in time to the closed, 
totalitarian nation of Belarus. Crossing over that border was like 
driving onto a Hollywood movie set. I looked along the roads for 
telephone poles or evidence of electricity and found none. It looked 
like a bucolic, rural village, mile after mile after mile, indicating 
how economic development has still yet to arrive in Belarus.
  You see, this last dictatorship of Europe held a Presidential 
election in December 2010, and I wanted to be there in 2011 to meet 
with the families of those who had the temerity to run against 
Lukashenko and were in jail. So I drove from Vilnius to Minsk to meet 
with those family members. They had been arrested by the security 
services of Belarus, which are still called the KGB.
  It was a sobering meeting. Many tears were shed. Fortunately, over 
time, by working at it doggedly, we eventually saw the release of all 
the brave Belarusians who had been jailed at that time.
  Yet, tragically, the Belarusian people found themselves in the same 
outrageous situation last year when Lukashenko jailed these candidates 
with the courage to run, including Sergei Tikhanovsky.
  Some of you may have read the outstanding profile about his wife, 
Svetlana, in this month's New Yorker. It is entitled ``The Accidental 
Revolutionary Leading Belarus's Uprising.'' It describes how her 
campaign speeches galvanized boisterous crowds. She had a very simple 
message to the Belarusian people and the courage to say it. She said 
she was ``fed up with living in humiliation and fear'' in Belarus. 
Lukashenko, this mighty dictator, didn't even have the courage to 
debate this woman.
  She likely won that election, as we know, but we will never know the 
official outcome because Lukashenko wouldn't allow it.
  I was proud to host her last year with my Senate colleagues Senator 
Shaheen and Sullivan. And I am glad to see that President Biden met 
with her as well.
  She is a brave woman, soldiering on, despite the fact that the 
Belarusians announced just a week ago that her husband has now been 
sentenced to 18 years in prison.
  Tragically, since Lukashenko stole that most recent election, he has 
continued to double down on his outrageous behavior, including forcing 
down a commercial airline in May to arrest the Belarusian activists and 
just this week, after months of closed hearings, that 18-year prison 
sentence for her husband.
  Five other defendants, including another Presidential candidate and a 
journalist from Radio Free Europe, received an equally outrageous 
sentence from Lukashenko. What a waste; what an outright theft of the 
Belarusian people's future.
  These people must be freed, and we must continue to support Ms. 
Tikhanovskaya's effort, and her husband, and the thousands upon 
thousands who peacefully protest on her behalf.


                               Lithuania

  Madam President, this morning I was listening to the news, as I came 
in, on National Public Radio. And I will close by just noting that the 
most recent report led me to make this statement on the floor today.
  It seems that the Lithuanians have been compelled to close their 
Embassy in Beijing. The Chinese Government will no longer promise the 
most basic tenet of ambassadorial representation: diplomatic immunity. 
They are still angry because this little country of 2.6 million people 
is establishing trade relations with Taiwan.
  The Chinese have said they are cutting off all exports and imports to 
Lithuania, putting pressure on them for their political courage. It 
won't work, I might say, to Prime Minister Xi. These people are not 
going to be bullied or pushed around. They have shown an extraordinary 
amount of courage. And I hope all of the world, particularly their 
great allies here in the United States, understand that these Baltic 
States--and my mother's country of Lithuania--are standing up for 
values which we all treasure as Americans.
  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. THUNE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                                Economy

  Mr. THUNE. Madam President, Democrats' push to pass their tax-and-
spending spree continues to throw into sharp relief the difference 
between Republicans' and Democrats' vision of government. And it is 
about a lot more than just the amount of money we want to spend. Of 
course, the amount of money we are spending matters, but it is also 
about what that money represents.
  In general, more money means more government. And more government 
usually means less freedom. Republicans don't oppose Democrats' tax-
and-spending spree just because it would cost a lot of money or drive 
up our national debt.
  It would do both of those things, of course, with negative 
consequences for our economy and the prosperity of American families. 
And the negative economic consequences alone are sufficient reason to 
oppose Democrats' ``Build Back Bankrupt'' plan. But it is a lot more 
than just about excessive spending.
  With their ``Build Back Bankrupt'' plan, Democrats envision a society 
which government is intimately involved in nearly every aspect of 
Americans' life--from, to quote a New York Times article, ``cradle to 
grave.'' And that is not a vision Republicans share, primarily because 
a government that is intimately involved in nearly every aspect of your 
life is a government that is going to exert control over your life. 
More government inevitably means more government control.
  Take Democrats' childcare plan in their Build Back Better 
legislation. To hear Democrats talk about it, you might think this plan 
involves nothing more than cutting checks to American parents to help 
with their childcare bills, but that is not the case.
  First, of course, Democrats take the opportunity to add a lot of new 
childcare mandates and regulations. According to one estimate, 
Democrats' childcare subsidy measure could drive up the cost of daycare 
by somewhere around $13,000 per child. Good luck working that into your 
family budget.

  Democrats' government subsidy program is set up to favor certain 
kinds of childcare and childcare providers. It is set up to favor 
institutional childcare, rather than home care or other models like 
neighborhood co-ops, and it is set up to place religious providers at a 
disadvantage.
  That is right. Despite the fact that a majority of working families 
who use center-based care opt for faith-based centers, Democrats' 
program is set up to put these providers at a disadvantage. It denies 
them facilities funding that is granted to secular providers.
  And it would disqualify--I should say, it could disqualify many 
providers with traditional religious beliefs like those shared by 
millions upon millions of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim 
families around the country.
  It could even disqualify a provider simply because the provider gave 
placement preference to families of its own faith. So if you are a 
Catholic Church with a childcare program and you give preference to 
families who attend your church, you could be accused of discrimination 
and disqualified from receiving government subsidies.
  And if you are a parent who can't afford that program without those 
government subsidies--thanks to government mandates and regulations 
that have hiked up the childcare bill--you are out of luck. If you need 
those government subsidies, you will have to send your child to one of 
the providers the government prefers.
  The childcare program in the Democrats' tax-and-spending spree 
provides a perfect example of what happens when government gets 
involved. And it is about a lot more than how much money the government 
is spending.

[[Page S9224]]

  With government money comes government control. The decision is no 
longer just in the individual's hands. And the more substantial the 
government involvement, the larger the government's role in decision 
making is likely to be--whether the issue is childcare, healthcare, 
education, or anything else.
  In his 1967 inaugural address as Governor of California, Ronald 
Reagan said:

       Freedom is a fragile thing and it's never more than one 
     generation away from extinction. It is not ours by way of 
     inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by 
     each generation, for it comes only once to a people.

  Freedom is a fragile thing.
  Here in the United States, we have enjoyed an unprecedented degree of 
individual liberty--a liberty that it is very easy for us to take for 
granted. But that liberty is not guaranteed. It is something that must 
be fought for and protected.
  And that doesn't involve simply safeguarding our liberty from 
external threats from foreign powers; it involves ensuring making sure 
that our government doesn't start to exceed its proper role.
  The loss of freedom can come dramatically or it can come quietly 
through a steady increase of government encroachment.
  And it is important to remember that freedom can be eroded or taken 
away by the well-meaning, and not just those who are actively hostile 
to it.
  I believe that my Democrat colleagues likely do not see their ideas 
for dramatic government expansion as threatening Americans' personal 
freedom. The problem is that when you expand the reach of government, 
the diminishment of liberty is inevitable. Expand the reach of 
government into Americans' lives, and it is inevitable that you are 
going to transfer some of Americans' decision-making power over to 
politicians and bureaucrats in Washington.
  Democrats' tax-and-spending spree--and its major expansion of 
government--is far from the only threat to Americans' liberties that we 
are seeing from the Democratic Party.
  I am increasingly disturbed by Democrats' tendency to play fast and 
loose with religious liberty and the First Amendment--whether that 
involves disadvantaging religious childcare providers, threatening 
individuals' right to live according to their conscience, questioning 
judges' fitness for office based on religious belief, or, as we learned 
recently from a courageous whistleblower FBI agent, even opening the 
door for the FBI to collect information on parents voicing their 
opposition to local school policies during school board meetings.
  I am also disturbed by Democrats' clear belief that Americans should 
defer to government and Democrat-approved experts, as spectacularly 
evidenced in the Virginia Governor's race, which was unquestionably 
decided based partly on the Democrat candidate's repeatedly expressed 
belief that parents shouldn't be involved in the content of their 
children's education.
  I am puzzled as to why Democrats are so convinced--so convinced--that 
Washington elites or Democrat-approved experts are better at making 
decisions than ordinary Americans.
  As Ronald Reagan said in that same speech:

       [I]t's hard to explain those among us who even today would 
     question the people's capacity for self-government. I've 
     often wondered if they will answer, those who subscribe to 
     that philosophy: if no one among us is capable of governing 
     himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone 
     else?

  I believe that the American people are capable of governing 
themselves--of making their own decisions--and that they are actually 
generally going to be better at it than a bunch of bureaucrats in 
Washington.
  And I strongly oppose efforts to substitute the judgments of 
Washington bureaucrats--or Democrat politicians--for the judgment of 
individual Americans.
  It states in the Declaration of Independence that governments are 
instituted to preserve our unalienable rights, including the rights to 
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
  Preserving liberty is a fundamental purpose of government, but, of 
course, before you can enjoy liberty, you have to enjoy the right to 
life. For a long time now, the Democratic Party has consistently denied 
the right to life to a whole segment of the American population: unborn 
Americans.
  There is no better example of their aggressive pro-abortion extremism 
than the so-called Women's Health Protection Act the Democrats in the 
House passed in September. This legislation, which would more 
accurately be termed the ``Abortion on Demand Act,'' would eliminate 
almost every democratically passed State abortion restriction, no 
matter how mild. It would endanger the religious and conscience rights 
of doctors and nurses, and, of course, it ignores the clear position of 
the American people, a strong majority of whom support restrictions on 
abortion.
  Apparently, Democrats are not content with joining repressive regimes 
like China and North Korea as one of a tiny handful of nations that 
allow elective abortion past 20 weeks of pregnancy. No, they want to 
remove even the mildest and most widely supported restrictions on 
abortion. That is yet another example of Democrats' tendency to think 
they know better than the American people.
  The Republican vision--the conservative vision, the vision that I 
share--is a vision that foregrounds liberty, not government; that 
believes individuals acting freely generally tend to do a better job of 
making decisions than a small handful of politicians and bureaucrats in 
Washington.
  We believe in government as a backstop, not Big Brother. A system of 
permanent government dependence erodes individual liberty, to say 
nothing of the ways in which it undermines prosperity, robs individuals 
of the purpose and pride that comes with work and achievement.
  Government should create the conditions in which freedom, 
opportunity, and prosperity can flourish, not attempt to secure 
particular outcomes or to dictate the paths that Americans should take.
  We are privileged to live in the freest country the world has ever 
known. It is not a privilege we can or should take for granted, and it 
is a privilege that we can all too easily lose. Our liberty is, as 
Ronald Reagan said, ever only one generation away from extinction.
  I will continue to make safeguarding that liberty that we have been 
given one of my most cherished priorities, whether that involves 
fighting for the right to life of unborn Americans, opposing attempts 
to restrict religious liberty, or fighting against an expansion of 
government that would push out parents and put the government in the 
driver's seat on way too many issues.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Baldwin). The senior Senator from 
Maryland.


             Unanimous Consent Request--Executive Calendar

  Mr. CARDIN. Madam President, on March 3 of this year, over 9 months 
ago, President Biden nominated Dilawar Syed to be the Deputy 
Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
  Mr. Syed has spent decades building and scaling successful 
businesses, as well as advocating for struggling entrepreneurs and 
small business owners in underserved areas. It is clear that he is 
eminently qualified to help lead the SBA at a time when the Agency is 
providing unprecedented assistance to help small businesses survive and 
recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  Last April, during Mr. Syed's hearing before the Senate Small 
Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, my Republican colleagues 
raised concerns about PPP and EIDL loans received by Lumiata, the 
company for which Mr. Syed served as CEO. As chairman of the committee, 
I gave a commitment to work in a bipartisan manner to secure additional 
information from the SBA about these loans.
  I kept my word. On June 8, the SBA made materials on the loans 
available for my review, for the ranking member's review, and for the 
review of every Member of the committee. The materials proved that 
there was absolutely nothing irregular about these loans. In fact, the 
company did the right thing and repaid the forgivable PPP loan after 
its lenders determined

[[Page S9225]]

that the company did not require that level of government assistance. 
You wish more companies would have followed the lead that this company 
did.
  But then, a week later, a new issue arose. Republican Members accused 
Mr. Syed of having anti-Israel bias because of his involvement with 
Emgage, a nonprofit organization that supports the Muslim American 
community. This accusation was completely unfounded. As the American 
Jewish Committee wrote:

       The unsupported accusation that somehow Jewish businesses 
     or those with ties to Israel may not fare as well under 
     Mr. Syed's leadership in the Small Business Administration 
     (SBA) has no factual grounding. Indeed, he has 
     specifically disavowed support for the boycott, 
     divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks the 
     dissolution of Israel.

  The AJC went on to say that Republican accusations against Mr. Syed 
were ``un-American.''
  Two weeks later, after the AJC released its statements, Republicans 
on the committee concocted yet another reason to block Mr. Syed's 
nomination. This time it was Planned Parenthood. Committee Republicans 
announced that they would boycott all votes on the nomination because 
Planned Parenthood affiliates received loans under the Paycheck 
Protection Program, despite the fact that these loans were made during 
the Trump administration and had nothing to do with Mr. Syed.
  In response to Republican demands, on November 24, Administrator 
Guzman sent the committee a detailed four-page response that gave a 
full explanation of SBA's policy on providing PPP loans to nonprofits, 
including Planned Parenthood. The SBA provided the specific data on the 
number of loans to Planned Parenthood affiliates, as well as the total 
dollars loaned and forgiven. The Administrator's letter makes clear 
that the SBA is implementing affiliation standards for Planned 
Parenthood in the same manner it is implementing the affiliation 
standards for other nonprofits such as United Way, Boys and Girls 
Clubs, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Goodwill.
  Then there was another request for information and, once again, the 
SBA sent another detailed letter to our committee to the ranking 
member, Senator Rand Paul, dated December 15, 2021. That letter spells 
out the specifics on every loan given out by the SBA--again, under the 
Trump administration, initially--to the Planned Parenthood affiliates: 
the numbers that apply for PPP; the numbers that withdrew those 
applications; the total dollar amounts; the loans that were forgiven 
under the original PPP amount and the total dollar amounts; the amount 
of PPP No. 2 loans given out requested by Planned Parenthood; the 
number that were withdrawn; the dollar amount that was given out; the 
dollar amount that has been forgiven. All that has been made available 
to our committee by the Small Business Administration.
  Quite frankly, I don't know what else we can do. The SBA is required 
to carry out the laws that Congress passed. We made it clear we wanted 
nonprofits eligible for the help under the small business loan programs 
that we created. We made it clear that the affiliation rules would be 
applied, and the affiliation rules were applied the same way they were 
applied to all nonprofits that have a national affiliation. And the 
initial determination made under the Trump administration was reviewed 
under the Biden administration to make sure that those affiliate rules 
were applied and they were applied fairly to all nonprofits.
  Thanks to the hard work of the SBA personnel, tens of millions of 
small businesses and nonprofits have received Federal assistance to 
keep their doors open and their employees on staff. The SBA has 
provided relief through multiple rounds of the Paycheck Protection 
Program, EIDL loan program, targeted grant programs, the Shuttered 
Venue Operators Grant Program, and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
  Unfortunately, the SBA has had to implement these programs without 
the benefit of a Deputy Administrator, the person whose job it is to 
oversee the day-to-day operations of the Agency, and it gives us an 
opportunity to have a confirmed person at the SBA who is answerable to 
Congress and the American people.
  Many nonpartisan, small business organizations support the nomination 
of Mr. Syed, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business 
Investor Alliance, and the Small Business Entrepreneurship Council. I 
could read into the record numerous recommendation letters from the 
whole gambit of the stakeholder community.
  In April, the Chamber of Commerce wrote to the committee stating:

       The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the nomination of 
     Dilawar Syed to be Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small 
     Business Administration (SBA). We believe that it is 
     essential for SBA's senior leadership team to be in place to 
     deliver on the agency's COVID-19 small business emergency 
     relief responsibilities and we believe Mr. Syed is well 
     qualified for this position.

  I agree. That is why, again, I am going to ask that the nomination be 
discharged from the Small Business Committee and Mr. Syed receive an 
up-or-down vote on this nomination. I might tell you that we have had 
action in our committee. So this is not inconsistent with the action of 
our committee.
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the Small Business 
Committee be discharged and the Senate proceed to the following 
nomination: PN231, Dilawar Syed, of California, to be Deputy 
Administrator of the Small Business Administration; that the nomination 
be confirmed; that the motion 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 nomination; that any related statement be 
printed in the Record; and that the President be immediately notified 
of the Senate's action.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The junior Senator from Kentucky.
  Mr. PAUL. Reserving the right to object, the Hyde Amendment was 
passed in 1976. This amendment prohibits Federal funds from going 
directly to pay for abortion. For 40-some-odd years, this has had some 
effect on trying to prevent money directly going from the taxpayer to 
fund abortion.
  The reason for this amendment was that many people have profound 
religious beliefs that their money, their taxpayer dollars, shouldn't 
go to kill the unborn. This is a big deal, the Hyde Amendment.
  Right now, currently, appropriations for the last 40 years have 
always had Hyde Amendment protections. But now we discover, under 
duress, the Small Business Administration admits that $100 million has 
been given to Planned Parenthood without Hyde protections.
  So this $100 million, which is essentially about one-third of what 
they get every year from the Federal Government, has no Hyde 
prescriptions, no Hyde restrictions, and this money can go directly to 
those performing abortions. So the abortionist that does thousands of 
abortions each year is getting money directly from the Federal 
Government to pay his or her salary. This is a first in 40 years, and 
it is not a small matter.
  This is an extraordinary thing that the Federal Government, for the 
first time in 40-some-odd years, is directly paying for abortions. This 
shouldn't happen.
  This is worth a debate, and we only discovered this because of 
holding up a nominee to try to get information. The Small Business 
Administration has steadfastly hidden this information, tried not to 
reveal it and is slowly, little by little, giving some, which they gave 
yesterday a little bit more, but they have been resisting and resisting 
and resisting.
  The Small Business Administration originally ruled that Planned 
Parenthood was a big business--an extraordinarily big business, a 
business with 16,000 people. Planned Parenthood themselves calls them 
``affiliates.'' They count their income all together. They pool their 
income and put out documents saying this is how much we have all 
together.
  Thirty-eight of these Planned Parenthoods were sent a notice saying: 
You have illegally obtained this money. You are not a small business, 
and you should return it.
  Supposedly, these entities then protested and appealed the process.
  The Small Business Administration, after months and months and 
months, still refuses to reveal the appeals process or what the 
complaints were. We have not gotten those documents, although we asked 
repeatedly for these documents.

[[Page S9226]]

  This nomination does directly have to do with this because, whoever 
is in charge of PPP, you would want someone to be an honest broker who 
says: By golly, this looks suspicious. How come this information is not 
being revealed to Congress? How come Congress is not allowed to see 
this?
  The Small Business Administration will say it is confidential. That 
does not apply to Congress's oversight. That might apply to releasing 
it to the public, but that doesn't apply to Congress's oversight of the 
Small Business Administration.
  This is an extraordinary thing that has happened--$100 million given 
directly to pay for people to do abortions. It is outside the scope and 
contrary to the scope of the Hyde Amendment, and it is something worth 
having a significant and prolonged and protracted battle until all the 
documents are revealed.
  Madam President, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The senior Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. CARDIN. I certainly regret that an objection has been made, but 
let me at least correct the record. PPP money, Paycheck Protection 
money, does not go to healthcare services. It goes to personnel costs. 
It goes to related expenses. It does not go to healthcare services.
  The law that we pass is the law that the administration implemented. 
There were no restrictions referenced to what Senator Paul is referring 
to included in the Paycheck Protection Program. The restrictions on a 
nonprofit dealt with affiliation rules. Those affiliation rules were 
applied to Planned Parenthood as they were applied to similar 
organizations that I already put into the Record.
  What Senator Paul is complaining about could have been taken up 
during the debate of the Paycheck Protection Program, but it was not.
  The bill was passed with Republican majorities in this body and with 
President Trump signing it into law. It would have been against the 
will of Congress for the Trump administration under the SBA or under 
the Biden administration under the SBA to use its own judgment and not 
the judgment of the policymaking branch of government--the legislative 
branch of government.
  So I just want to put on the record that the response by Senator Paul 
is not the factual circumstances that we are dealing with. We are 
dealing with a qualified person who should be confirmed by this body, 
and the administration is carrying out the will of Congress in the way 
that it has implemented the Paycheck Protection Program.
  With that, 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. CORNYN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                                Ukraine

  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, the eyes of the world are on Russia as 
it stages a military buildup on the Ukrainian border. Russia could 
literally invade Ukraine at any time. And the United States and the 
international community need to take strong, decisive action to 
dissuade a Russian offensive from invading Ukraine. I was glad to see 
the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, 
denounce Russia's action earlier today, but clearly words are not 
enough. Statements of support are not enough to counter an invasion. 
The United States and our NATO allies must provide additional support 
to Ukraine as they defend their borders, and time is of the essence.

  Senator Durbin, the Senator from Illinois, and I have introduced a 
resolution to provide complete clarity on the U.S. Senate's position on 
this imminent conflict. Our resolution affirms the unwavering support 
of the United States for a secure, democratic, and independent Ukraine, 
but it also asserts the need for action. Our resolution calls on the 
Biden administration to provide additional lethal aid to Ukraine to 
counter ongoing Russian aggression.
  Senator Durbin and I have been proud to notch a long list of 
bipartisan cosponsors, and I hope the Senate will pass this resolution 
before we break at the end of the year.


                          Biden Administration

  Madam President, on another matter, the first year of the Biden 
Presidency and the Democratic-majority controlled Congress is quickly 
coming to an end. Looking at everything that has happened so far this 
year, it is tough to imagine the American people are happy with how 
things are going.
  President Biden raised all of our hopes and expectations during his 
inauguration, as he built his campaign and then spoke at his 
inauguration on a simple theme: unity. He talked about the need for 
people across the country to come together and empathize with one 
another and to work together. He promised to be a uniting force in 
Washington, DC, and pointed to his service in the U.S. Senate as 
evidence of his ability to work across the aisle to broker bipartisan 
deals.
  Clearly, this message was welcomed by the American people. After all, 
they gave him the job in the first place. But just because voters 
picked a Democratic President doesn't mean they signed off on a radical 
transformation of our country. The American people elected a 50-50 
Senate and lessened the Democratic majority in the House.
  In short, Americans selected a President who promised to work across 
the aisle and a closely divided Congress--and gave us a closely divided 
Congress to ensure that he kept his word, but the American people have 
not gotten what they expected.
  Right from the start, there were clear signs of where things were 
headed. At the beginning of the year, the two party leaders negotiated 
an organizing statement to determine how the 50-50 Senate would 
function. In light of the far-left's newfound obsession with 
eliminating the filibuster, Leader McConnell asked for assurances from 
Leader Schumer that the filibuster would remain intact. After all, it 
is not unreasonable to ask your negotiating partner to commit to not 
breaking the rules.
  Even though Senator Schumer once said we should ``build a firewall 
around the legislative filibuster,'' he refused to agree to leave it 
alone, which was not very encouraging. Fortunately, two of our 
Democratic colleagues have committed to protect the filibuster, which 
ensures that there will be something that maybe is a little unnatural 
for human nature--to try to force us to work together to build 
consensus to do things like we did yesterday: pass the National Defense 
Authorization Act. That is not necessarily our first instinct.
  But protecting the filibuster is important. It provides stability and 
continuity and predictability in our Nation's laws and to make sure 
that we don't add to the chaos by, every 2 years, after every election, 
reversing everything that had been done the previous 2 years.
  We saw how tempted our Democratic colleagues were to use their 
newfound powers in the majority. That meant, unfortunately, forget 
working across the aisle or striking bipartisan deals--Senator Schumer 
made clear he wanted an easy path for purely partisan legislation.
  The first item on his agenda was a $2 trillion liberal wish list 
unconvincingly disguised as pandemic relief. It included things like 
backdoor funding for Planned Parenthood, a blank check for mismanaged 
union pension systems, and money for climate justice. This had very, 
very little to do with COVID-19 and the pandemic, which is how it was 
sold.
  The Democratic leader got a taste of partisan legislating and decided 
that he wanted more of it, so he tried to break the two Democratic 
Members on his side of the aisle who were protecting bipartisanship and 
consensus building. He lined up votes on some of our colleagues' most 
controversial bills, all of which were designed to fail. There was a 
bill that exploited the cause of pay fairness to line the pockets of 
trial lawyers. Unsurprisingly, it did not pass.
  Senator Schumer forecasted votes on two bills that were so unpopular 
among Democrats that they didn't even make it to the Senate floor. One 
was to erode the American people's Second Amendment rights, and another 
would punish

[[Page S9227]]

schools and hospitals that refused to comply with ``woke'' social 
norms.
  But without a doubt, the most dangerous legislation Democrats have 
pushed is to overhaul America's election system. The version of the 
bill we voted on this summer was so bad that I was surprised Democrats 
even had the gall to hold a vote on it.
  The bill would have turned the bipartisan Federal Election Commission 
into a Democratic-controlled, partisan body. It would have seized 
States' constitutional authority to draw their own congressional 
districts, instead handing all the power to independent redistricting 
commissions. It would have federalized ballot harvesting--literally 
vacuuming up ballots and delivering them to a paid campaign staffer and 
political operatives who had a stake in the outcome of the election. 
The only thing it would have done for the people is decide the outcome 
of virtually every future election and--spoiler alert--make sure that 
Democrats would never lose.
  If this bill weren't so dangerous, it would have been laughable. It 
is no surprise that the only bipartisan thing about this bill was the 
opposition. In both the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats 
joined together to defeat this bill.
  Still, our Democratic colleagues refused to throw in the towel. They 
rewrote the bill, tried to rebrand it, and brought it up for another 
vote in October. Once again, it failed. The Democratic leader has said 
this partisan legislation will resurface again sometime before the end 
of next year, but I don't expect the outcome to change.
  Of course, amid all the partisan jockeying, there has been a large, 
dark cloud looming overhead known as the Build Back Better--or, rather, 
I think more accurately, ``Build Back Bankrupt''--bill. This 
legislation would drive up the cost of childcare for families and cut 
healthcare for the uninsured. It would hurt our energy security and 
increase the already sky-high energy costs. It would put taxpayers on 
the hook for massive handouts to blue State millionaires, organized 
labor, trial lawyers, wealthy media corporations, and a host of 
powerful friends of the Democratic Party.

  Our Democratic colleagues have used every trick in the book to make 
the price of this spending spree look as small as possible. One of our 
Democratic colleagues even acknowledged the disingenuous advertising.
  Fortunately, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Tax 
Committee have provided an honest score of the bill that passed the 
House and that has been proposed here in the Senate--one which ignores 
the gimmicks our colleagues initially tried to use. The Congressional 
Budget Office says that this bill would cost $4.9 trillion in the first 
10 years alone--not zero, as President Biden has disingenuously 
claimed; not $1.75 trillion, as our Democratic colleagues have claimed; 
but $4.9 trillion, nearly triple the price Democrats have previously 
been willing to acknowledge. And deficits--money that would have to be 
repaid by the next generation and beyond--would increase by a 
staggering $3 trillion over the next decade.
  As it turns out, spending trillions of dollars on unnecessary 
programs and dolling out handouts for the wealthy is not an easy sell. 
Senator Schumer apparently can't convince all 50 Democrats to vote for 
the bill.
  While our colleagues have focused on these wholly partisan endeavors, 
they have ignored clear opportunities to work together in a bipartisan 
effort.
  For example, Members of both parties agree that something must be 
done to bring down prescription drug prices for the American people. 
This was a major focus last Congress, and there are a range of 
bipartisan bills that support this goal, including one I have 
introduced with Senator Blumenthal from Connecticut. So far, we have 
made no progress for the American people on high prescription drug 
costs.
  Then there is the crisis at the border. On President Biden's watch, 
annual border apprehensions have hit an alltime high. For most of the 
year, though, Democrats refused to acknowledge that any sort of problem 
actually existed at the southern border. They adopted the same rules as 
``Fight Club''--they just didn't talk about it. Vice President Harris, 
named ``border czar'' by President Biden, didn't even visit the border 
until late last June, long after the humanitarian crisis had ballooned 
to unimaginable heights, and even then, she stayed away from the 
hardest hit sectors.
  Senator Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, and I have introduced 
legislation with commonsense reforms to address the crisis, but the 
chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Durbin, has declined to 
mark up the bill or even convene a hearing of the Judiciary Committee 
to investigate the border crisis and explore possible responses to it.
  Democrats and Republicans have shown a willingness to work together 
to put DACA recipients on a strong legal footing. These are young 
people known as Dreamers but frequently referred to as DACA, deferred 
action on childhood arrival, which is the name of the administrative 
process used by the Obama administration to provide them some legal 
standing in which to stay in the country. But they have been embroiled 
in 10 years of unnecessary litigation, and they are uncertain about the 
outcome of their case. I think this is an area where we could work 
together to provide them some certainty and some finality.
  There are other things we could and should be doing, like securing 
our most critical supply chains, encouraging innovation in the energy 
sector, and solving many of the challenges American families are facing 
every day. But rather than work across the aisle to address these 
bipartisan priorities, our colleagues have wasted a year on purely 
partisan exercises. Again, this is not what the American people thought 
they were getting when they elected Joe Biden President and when they 
gave the Senate a 50-50 split.
  The 2020 election wasn't an invitation to codify a liberal wish list; 
it was a call to work together. And there is no better place for the 
work that can be done than in the U.S. Senate. There is a lot we can 
and should accomplish next year, but this sort of partisan, unilateral 
approach to governing has made that nearly impossible. You can only 
hope for better next year.
  Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle got what they wanted, 
which was a Democratic majority, given the tie-breaking vote of the 
Vice President. They have been given the keys to the kingdom, and now, 
next year, we will see how long they can hold on to them, or perhaps 
they can change course and return to bipartisan legislating and 
consensus building for the benefit of the American people.
  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. BARRASSO. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                                 Crime

  Mr. BARRASSO. Madam President, I come to the floor today to talk 
about the rising crime in America and specifically in Democrat-run 
cities.
  This year, 12 American cities have already broken records for murder, 
and the year isn't even over. Every one of those cities is run by 
Democrats.
  Last summer, Democrat cities adopted a rallying cry, and that cry was 
``defund the police.'' Joe Biden said America was ``systemically 
racist.'' He said police funding should be ``redirected.'' Nancy Pelosi 
talked about ``shuffling . . . money around.'' Kamala Harris, our Vice 
President, said America should ``reimagine public safety.''
  Well, lots of Democrat cities put those slogans into practice. Bill 
de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, cut the New York City Police 
Department by $1 billion. The Los Angeles City Council voted to cut 
police funding by $150 million. San Francisco cut $120 million from 
police over 2 years. Nearly two dozen cities across the country 
defunded the police. Again, these are all cities run by liberal mayors 
and administrations. As a result, last year, America experienced the 
largest surge in homicide ever recorded.
  According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, 63 of America's 66 
biggest cities saw at least 1 category of violent crime go up last 
year. Minneapolis cut police funding, and homicide nearly

[[Page S9228]]

doubled. New York City police funding and homicide went in opposite 
directions: The funding for police went down, and homicide went up by 
half. Last year's historic increases in homicides was evident. This 
year, homicide has gone up even more. The number of police killed in 
the line of duty is also up.
  Here in Washington, DC, President Biden has effectively endorsed the 
``defund the police'' movement. He did that by stacking his 
administration with supporters of defunding the police.
  The Secretary of Labor of the United States, confirmed by this 
Senate, cut funding for police when he was mayor of Boston.
  The No. 3 official at the Department of Justice, confirmed by this 
Senate, the Democrats in this Senate, testified that she supports 
``calls from Black Lives Matter . . . activists to decrease police 
budgets and the scope, role, and responsibility of police in our 
lives.''
  Joe Biden's Secretary of the Treasury called for an economics 
professor to be fired because the professor said he opposed defunding 
the police. It had nothing to do with what he was teaching. It wasn't 
because of a problem with his work in the classroom. But Janet Yellen 
said his comments against defunding the police were ``extremely 
troubling.''
  She went on to say:

       It would be appropriate for the University of Chicago . . . 
     to review [that professor's] performance and suitability.

  Well, Janet Yellen is not known for being a crime expert. She is a 
well-connected, well-known liberal. The university bowed to Janet 
Yellen and put the professor under investigation. This is Janet Yellen, 
who was confirmed to be Secretary of the Treasury under Joe Biden.
  In October, Joe Biden was asked if police officers should be fired if 
they weren't vaccinated. He didn't hesitate. He immediately said: Yes, 
fire them. These are officers who have been putting their lives on the 
frontline every day since day one of the pandemic. Joe Biden's mantra 
for the police: Vaccinate or terminate.
  This is happening all across America. For example, more than 150 
Massachusetts State Police have resigned over the vaccine mandate. Joe 
Biden would rather see unvaccinated police sit at home than let them 
continue doing the job they have done all through the pandemic. The 
last thing we need to do right now is reduce the number of police 
officers on our streets.
  Last week, Democrats in this body gave another promotion to an anti-
police liberal. Every Democrat--every Democrat--in this Senate voted to 
confirm Rachael Rollins as the top prosecutor in the State of 
Massachusetts. Why does this matter to anybody outside of 
Massachusetts? Well, because Rachael Rollins is the face of the rogue 
prosecutor movement. This is the movement led by George Soros and other 
powerful liberals. They have invested millions of dollars in electing 
radical prosecutors. They have succeeded in major cities. We have seen 
it in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Once these 
prosecutors get into office, they impose radical leftwing policies. The 
result has been chaos and carnage from coast to coast.
  As the district attorney in Boston, Rachael Rollins announced she 
would not prosecute 15 different crimes, laws on the books. She would 
not prosecute 15 different crimes, including shoplifting, trespassing, 
and resisting arrest. Rachael Rollins is supposed to be a prosecutor. 
Her job is to enforce the law. Instead, she has nullified the law.
  Joe Biden saw this lawlessness, and he was so impressed that he gave 
her a big promotion. Every single Democrat in this Senate has given her 
their stamp of approval. So has Vice President Harris. Every Republican 
voted no on this radical nominee, so the Vice President was needed to 
come to the Senate to break the tie. There is already talk of Rachael 
Rollins' getting even more promotions in this very radical, extreme, 
dangerous, and scary Democratic Party.
  Mark my words: Rachael Rollins is the first rogue prosecutor to be 
given a Federal job. She will not be the last. With Democrats in charge 
in Washington, Rachael Rollins' policies are coming to a neighborhood 
near you.
  So it is worth asking, how are these policies working out in liberal 
big cities? Not well, no. San Francisco followed the Rachael Rollins 
model. They tried legalizing shoplifting; how about that? Now San 
Francisco looks like a city from the Dark Ages.
  Here is how the Associated Press described it last week:

       San Francisco residents and visitors scurry past scenes of 
     lawlessness and squalor.

  In August, San Francisco broke city records with 3,700 reports of 
retail theft. Now there is a mass exodus of retail stores from San 
Francisco.
  Last year, twice as many people in San Francisco died from drug 
overdoses than from coronavirus. The local news reported this week 
about people leaving their cars unlocked in San Francisco to prevent 
their windows from getting smashed out. Even the Democrat mayor spoke 
recently about the ``rein of criminals who are destroying our city.''
  San Francisco is one of the wealthiest cities in the world. It is the 
hometown of the Speaker of the House and is now a homicide haven on the 
west coast. Yet, in just a few years, liberal policies have turned what 
had been a beautiful city into a war zone.
  Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, admitted just yesterday that 
``there is an attitude of lawlessness in our country'' today. Then she 
added, ``It springs from,'' as she said, ``I don't know where.''
  Well, Nancy Pelosi should look at her own city. It is painfully 
obvious. The fact that roars out from liberal city to liberal city is 
this: The lawlessness comes from the policies of the Democratic Party. 
Criminals seek opportunity, and when criminals see that opportunity, 
they pounce.
  Look at Los Angeles. This is another city with a rogue prosecutor. In 
just 10 days last month, looters stole $340,000 worth of goods from 
stores. In one case, police arrested 14 of the looters. And then what 
happened? They were all released. Now they are all walking free.
  Austin, TX, made some of the largest police funding cuts last year. 
This year, Austin has seen a 70-percent increase in murder. It is one 
of the largest increases in homicide in America.
  In Kamala Harris's hometown of Oakland, the city council voted to 
defund the police in June. Now murder in Oakland, the Vice President's 
hometown, is up by two-thirds since just 2019.
  Last month, a toddler was shot and killed while he slept in the back 
of his mother's car on the Oakland freeway. Even leftwing Oakland has 
now had enough. The city is now planning to reverse the cuts to police. 
For the toddler, it is too late. The damage that took that innocent 
life from that family can't be undone, can't be repaired. The family 
will never be reunited.
  It is time for the Democrats to wake up, to wake up before it is too 
late for so many others.
  Democrats have controlled the Senate now for 10 months. Yet they have 
done nothing to improve law enforcement in America. They have done 
nothing to reduce crime. In fact, Senate Democrats have only tried to 
reward criminals. Forty-nine Senate Democrats sponsored a bill to give 
voting rights to felons as soon as they walk out of their jail cells.
  The American people reject this bill and Democrats' entire agenda. 
Voters are speaking out. Just last month, voters rejected defunding 
police in the cities of Buffalo, New York, and even in Minneapolis.
  New York City has just elected a former police officer as its mayor 
who used the issue of crime and law and order as a winning issue in the 
campaign. People are tired of what the Democrats are force-feeding the 
American people.
  The lessons should be screamingly obvious. The American people don't 
want Democrats' soft-on-crime agenda. Americans want safe communities. 
They want Democrats and all Americans to stop coddling criminals, to 
stand for public safety, and to stop this reckless Democrats' war on 
police.
  I yield the floor.
  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. HIRONO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

[[Page S9229]]

  



                             Voting Rights

  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, the foundation of American democracy is 
built upon the sacred right to vote, and there is no doubt that right 
is under attack today.
  This year alone, 550 voter suppression bills have been introduced in 
State legislatures across the country. In Texas, it is now illegal to 
compensate workers who help voters who don't speak English and for 
election officials to encourage eligible voters to apply to vote by 
mail.
  In Fulton County, GA, a county that historically votes Democratic, 
the number of ballot boxes has been reduced from 38 to 8. That is one 
ballot box for every 100,000 voters.
  And in Florida, ballot dropoff boxes can only be utilized during 
early voting hours, and boxes must be located at either a county's 
elections office or early voting sites.
  Before President Trump, Republicans at least tried to pretend their 
laws weren't blatantly discriminatory, but now they aren't even 
attempting to hide the fact that they are purposefully trying to make 
it darn near impossible for Black people and other people of color, 
elderly individuals, students, working families, and people with 
disabilities to vote.
  The fact that Republicans continue to claim that these voter 
suppression tactics are necessary to protect election integrity would 
be laughable if it weren't so deeply dangerous to our democracy. We all 
know that countless investigations have uncovered absolutely no 
evidence of systemic or widespread voter fraud. We all know that the 
2020 election was the most secure election in our country's history. 
And we certainly all know this is not about voter fraud. It is about 
advancing a political agenda by denying large swaths of Americans their 
fundamental right to vote.
  If this isn't un-American, I don't know what is, which is why voter 
suppression is the most urgent crisis facing our country today and 
which is why it is the single most pressing issue the Senate must 
address.
  Yes, we need to pass Build Back Better, and we need to fight against 
attacks on a woman's right to make decisions about her own body, 
attacks on the LGBTQ community, attacks on unions, and much more 
because battles for rights that we thought we had won don't stay won. 
But we won't succeed in preserving these hard-won rights if we don't 
protect the right to vote.
  To quote my friend and colleague Senator Warnock, ``Voting rights are 
preservative of all other rights.''
  We are nearing the 1-year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. 
Capitol. This violent insurrection and mob violence was the direct 
result of blatant lies told by the former President and his supporters 
about systemic fraud and a stolen election.
  We are still learning the consequences of what happened that day, but 
we know for certain this act of domestic terrorism was an attack on 
free and fair elections in this country. Yet Republicans continue to 
spread the same lies about election fraud and continue to push through 
legislation at the State level to silence Americans across the country.
  Congress must take action to restore the integrity of our voting 
system and make sure every American's voice is heard and counted. And 
we have tried. We have tried four times to stop these unconstitutional, 
State-level laws from undermining our elections.
  We have tried to pass commonsense reforms that would, for example, 
allow all eligible voters to vote by mail; make election day a Federal 
holiday so all working families can vote; and establish Federal 
criminal penalties for deceiving voters with false and misleading 
information about voting.
  And most importantly, we have tried to pass the John Lewis Voting 
Rights Advancement Act, which would give the Department of Justice the 
tools to keep these blatant voter suppression laws from being enacted 
in the first place.
  Only one Republican joined us in voting for this bill--the same bill 
that was being touted as bipartisan.
  It is crystal clear by now that Republicans have absolutely no 
interest in protecting the right to vote. For Republicans, voter 
suppression and gerrymandering is their path to victory
  Democrats cannot sit back and allow a political party to maintain 
power by denying Americans their right to vote.
  I want to quote Senator Warnock again. He said:

       [A]s we cast that vote to begin addressing the debt 
     ceiling, this same Chamber is allowing the ceiling of our 
     democracy to crash in around us.

  We figured out a way to save our economy; we can surely figure out a 
way to save our democracy.
  Filibuster reform is the path Democrats need to take to fight back 
against the Republicans' all-out voter suppression assault on our 
democracy. I call on my Democratic colleagues to act.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.


                               Inflation

  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, there are so many problems going on 
right now in the country. As I interact with people in Oklahoma, they 
are frustrated with where things are going with the economy. The rising 
inflation is literally inflation we have not seen for 40 years.
  People who are 40 years old and younger have never experienced an 
economy like we are experiencing right now. But for those who lived 
during the time of Jimmy Carter, they all remember extremely well what 
it was like--what it was like to literally every single week when you 
go to the grocery store for prices to be higher, to be able to watch 
prices accelerate month after month after month.
  The policies that have been put in place this year by the Biden 
administration and folks in this body have led directly to rampant 
inflation across our Nation and are causing a major problem.
  The debt ceiling was voted on just days ago here in this body. It was 
$2\1/2\ trillion. That $2\1/2\ trillion has been set aside for the next 
13 months or so.
  There is an enormous gathering of debt. We continue to be able to see 
the inflation continue to rise. And in the middle of it is a 
conversation about this bill that is called Build Back Better.
  Now, we haven't seen all the bill yet. It is 2,000-plus pages. But 
the pages change every week, and they have for weeks and weeks. We 
still have large sections of the bill that is being dropped out that 
just says: ``We will add in more information here later.''
  But the sections that we do have, and that have been scored, there 
are major problems here. This is not just a Republican-Democrat 
conversation; this is the direction-of-the-country conversation. Is 
this really what we want to do and the direction that we want to go?
  This bill--it was scored independently by CBO, looked at this bill 
and said if it looks out over 10 years with these policies in place, it 
would add $3 trillion more in debt.
  Now, as it is written, with all the budget gimmicks and everything in 
it, they say: Well, it actually will only add $365 billion in debt--
though the White House continues to claim that it is all paid for; it 
is all paid for; it is free; it is free; it is free.
  The more we dig into it, the more problems we see. Some of those are 
philosophical changes. This bill changes what has been entitlements in 
the past. Entitlements have been connected to actually work to 
incentivize people to be able to work, knowing that people don't grow 
out of poverty by constantly getting government benefits. You are 
trapped in poverty. Work is what actually helps people escape out of 
poverty.
  That is what Bill Clinton talked about often, about changing welfare 
as we know it. This bill actually changes it back to welfare as we knew 
it and shifts back entitlements to say you don't have to actually be 
working to receive all these government benefits. In fact, this bill 
even says you don't even have to be an American citizen to receive all 
these benefits; that if you are illegally present in the country, you 
get thousands and thousands of dollars in government benefits. If you 
are not working, but you are able to work and you choose not to, you 
get thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in benefits.
  I have to tell you, for the folks I know who leave for work at 6 a.m. 
and head to work, they are a little frustrated that their tax dollars 
are going to people still in bed, who are not engaging. But that is 
what this bill does;

[[Page S9230]]

it changes us from a situation where we incentivize work to we 
incentivize not working.
  Part of that is in the child tax credit that is being discussed. I 
and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle voted to change the 
child tax credit for this year that was already in place, that already 
incentivizes work, that helps individuals with small children who need 
help. That has been in place in the Tax Code. In fact, Republicans also 
voted for that in the past with a work incentive.
  That was changed in March of this year in a straight partisan vote. 
And it was done for a temporary basis because of COVID, to actually 
allocate dollars to families, regardless of if they are working or not 
during the time of COVID.
  Now, the conversation is, that needs to be extended, not just through 
COVID but to just keep extending it, to take away the work 
requirements, to take away the requirement to be a citizen of the 
United States to receive these dollars, and to actually make it where 
you are getting a monthly check rather than just a tax incentive at the 
end of the year based on if you were working or not.
  And the working requirement is not high. It is, literally, if you 
worked and earned $2,500 in a year, you qualify for the tax credit. But 
they take away even that requirement for your family.
  The childcare piece has been interesting because I have heard a lot 
of my Democratic colleagues talk about, well, we are going to give free 
childcare to folks.
  The problem is--a multitude of issues with this. One is, if you are a 
faith-based entity for childcare, you are excluded from this, which 
about half of the childcare facilities around the country are provided 
by churches and faith-based nonprofits--rural and urban areas, they are 
all cut out.
  The other challenge is, while they talk about free childcare, free 
childcare, free childcare, a very liberal think tank just did the math 
on this, what it would mean for middle-class families who actually do 
childcare at that same facility. Middle-class families who are paying 
right now for childcare would, after this bill is put in place--they 
estimate that it would cost $13,000 more a year for childcare if you 
are not getting the subsidies.
  So if you are getting the subsidies, it is free. If you are a dollar 
past the subsidies, you are going to pay $13,000 more a year for your 
childcare.
  I hope you are tracking the cost of natural gas as it is raised 
because it is about to go up again. If this bill--what I call the 
``Build Back Broke'' bill--passes, the cost of natural gas and the cost 
of heating across America will go up because there is a new fee on 
methane.
  I could go on and on and on with the issues that are in this bill 
that are content, that are philosophical issues, that are issues that 
affect people who live in my State and will raise the cost for them.
  Some people ask me: Who are the folks who actually like this bill?
  Well, there are quite a few folks who like this bill. The folks who 
are in wealthy Democrat-run States, they love this bill because the 
wealthiest individuals in the highest tax States--and those are the 
blue States--the wealthiest individuals in the highest tax States, they 
get a huge tax break in this bill. For the wealthiest individuals, they 
get an $80,000-a-year cut in their taxes, what they call State and 
local taxes. So if you are in New York or New Jersey or Illinois or in 
California and you are in the top 1 percent, you get an $80,000 cut in 
your taxes. They like this bill.
  Somebody else who likes this bill are the wealthy who actually buy 
electric vehicles--incredibly expensive, beautiful vehicles, many of 
them, but they get $12,500 off of their vehicle based on this bill.
  The environmental activists love this bill because billions of 
dollars actually go directly to these environmental activist groups. 
Many who were active in the Biden campaign, they get additional 
billions of dollars coming in. In fact, there are billions of dollars 
to create a new Civilian Climate Corps--a group of young people who 
will travel around the country actually promoting environmentalism, 
paid for with Federal tax dollars. They like this bill. Unions like 
this bill because, currently, if you donate to a nonprofit, you are 
able to take some of that off of your taxes. But under this bill, that 
goes away, and it is replaced with if you pay union dues, you get to 
write this off your taxes. So unions definitely like this bill.
  And the folks who really, really like this bill--reporters and 
journalists. Reporters and journalists love this bill. So some of them 
are not talking about the content of this bill. The reason I say that, 
because this bill pays half the salary for reporters and journalists 
all over the country. This bill puts in place that half the salary of 
reporters and journalists in every city and every community across 
America will get half of their salary paid for by the Federal tax 
dollars.
  Let's see, government-paid reporters and journalists--what could go 
wrong with that?
  There are a lot of issues in this bill. And as we talk through this 
bill, and as, thankfully, this bill is slowing down dramatically so 
that people are able to see the contents of this bill, I have more and 
more people who catch me and say: I have a major concern with this bill 
and, I have to tell you, I have had for months. And we continue to be 
able to speak out on issues that change the direction for our Nation 
that are actually built into this bill.


                               Christmas

  Mr. President, it is the middle of December, and we are still hanging 
out in DC. We are actually past the date that we were supposed to not 
be here any longer, according to our official calendar, but there is 
work to be done. And we continue to be able to do the work. It is a 
contentious body and, at times, a contentious nation.
  I was with a group of folks yesterday for an early morning breakfast. 
And as we prayed together, one of them looked at me and said: I need a 
little ``Prince of Peace'' right now.
  So can I just for a moment in this Chamber pause and just do a quick 
reminder of what is coming over the next couple of weeks, not about the 
heat of battle in this room but where we are in this season?
  Reading from the Book of Isaiah, Isaiah 9:6 says: For a child will be 
born to us. A son will be given to us; and the government will rest on 
His shoulders, and His Name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty 
God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. And there will be no end to the 
increase of this government or of his peace. It sounds like this in 
Luke, Chapter 2:

       Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, 
     that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was 
     the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 
     And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each 
     to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the 
     city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is 
     called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of 
     David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged 
     to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days 
     were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to 
     her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid 
     Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the 
     inn.
       In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the 
     fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an 
     angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory 
     of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly 
     frightened. But the angel said to them, ``Do not be afraid; 
     for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be 
     for all the people; for today in the city of David there has 
     been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will 
     be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and 
     lying in a manger.'' And suddenly there appeared with the 
     angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and 
     saying, ``Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace 
     among men with whom He is pleased.''
       When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the 
     shepherds began saying to one another, ``Let's go straight to 
     Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which 
     the Lord has made known to us.'' So they came in a hurry and 
     found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in 
     the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the 
     statement which had been told them about this Child. And all 
     who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by 
     the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering 
     them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and 
     praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as 
     had been told to them.

  A little peace on Earth will be helpful to this body and to our 
Nation on this day.
  Merry Christmas to you.
  I yield the floor.

[[Page S9231]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.

                          ____________________