[Congressional Record Volume 169, Number 44 (Wednesday, March 8, 2023)]
[Pages S680-S709]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. HAGERTY. Mr. President, I move to proceed to H.J. Res. 26.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the motion.
  The motion was agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the joint resolution by 
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A joint resolution (H.J. Res. 26) disapproving the action 
     of the District of Columbia Council in approving the Revised 
     Criminal Code Act of 2022.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There are now up to 10 hours of debate equally 
divided between the proponents and opponents.
  The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. HAGERTY. Mr. President, I am looking forward to a robust debate 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mrs. CAPITO. Mr. President, I am so glad the Senator from Tennessee 
is on the floor with H.J. Res. 26. I want to thank him for being 
insightful to know how important this is going to be to this Congress, 
to this city, to this country. So I thank the Senator for his steadfast 
work on this issue, and I look forward to supporting the resolution. We 
are also going to be talking a lot on the floor about this. So I thank 
him very much.
  I rise today to talk about an issue that I actually came to the floor 
on 3 weeks ago and that is just very, very relevant, especially today, 
and that is out-of-control crime and a disregard for law and order 
that, unfortunately, President Biden has enabled in his own backyard.
  Under the Biden administration's soft-on-crime agenda and rhetoric, 
Washington, DC, the capital of our beautiful country, has seen a 25-
percent increase in crime, a 33-percent increase in homicides, a 121-
percent increase in sexual abuse, and a 108-percent increase in motor 
vehicle theft--just this year, and we are just starting.
  To make matters worse, in the midst of ongoing crime, the DC Council 
thought that now was an appropriate time to rewrite the Criminal Code. 
Instead of enforcing law and order in light of all of these statistics 
and supporting our police officers and making residents and visitors of 
the District feel safe, the DC Council found it fitting to lessen the 
punishment for violent criminal offenses--hard to believe, isn't it?--
and embolden those who dare to break the law instead of heeding local 
calls for increased safety and policing from their residents.
  It really doesn't get any more tone-deaf than that. Believe it or 
not, when the DC Council originally passed their irresponsible Criminal 
Code overall,

[[Page S681]]

Mayor Muriel Bowser vetoed the bill--the Mayor of the city of DC--
claiming that ``this bill does not make us safer.''
  She knows. She sees these statistics every single day and talks to 
her police officers every single day.
  Well, Mayor Bowser, my colleagues and I could not agree with you 
more. It is obvious that the DC Council's legislation is the complete 
opposite of what is needed to control the out-of-control crime.
  Now, I am sure that you have seen that, in the face of an imminent 
bipartisan and bicameral rejection of their policy, the DC Council, 
then, has attempted to withdraw their Criminal Code revision 
legislation. That is a glaring--a glaring--admission by the council 
that they knew what they were doing is absolutely wrong.
  But do you know what? It is simply too little, too late. Regardless 
of this unprecedented and potentially unlawful move, the Senate is 
poised to reject the DC Council's sweeping and irresponsible ``Revised 
Criminal Code of 2022'' on a bipartisan basis. We certainly saw that in 
the House.
  This vote, led by my colleague Senator Hagerty of Tennessee, gives 
every Member of the U.S. Senate the chance to stand with law and order, 
the chance to stand with our law enforcement officers, the chance to 
stand with the people of our Nation's Capital, whose calls for safety 
have fallen on deaf ears.
  You think of all the visitors--springtime, Cherry Blossom Festival--
this is the time everybody is coming to this beautiful, gorgeous city 
that we are lucky enough to serve in. Our constituents are here. Many 
of us have our families here. We are here. All the staff and folks that 
work in and around these buildings every day--in and out of their cars, 
in and out of restaurants we hope--getting that revival post-COVID that 
we see. And certainly we see many, many more visitors. Our residents 
and visitors are living with what could happen. What kind of crimes can 
they see?
  There are a multitude of additional negative factors that impact the 
city when crime runs out of control and leaders are not held 
accountable. Often these issues go unseen, but they are just as 
impactful: factors like the education of our children, factors like the 
health of our residents--our DC residents--and the strength of the 
  According to research led by the professors at the University of 
Illinois, at Syracuse, and NYU, students face declines in standardized 
test scores following exposure to violent crime. What is that doing to 
the children of DC? They have to face this every day.
  The same decline was observed for students who attend schools that 
are perceived to be unsafe or schools that lack a sense of community. 
This study suggests that schools with stronger community bonds can 
shield students from the negative effects of neighborhood violence and 
directly show the disadvantages impacting our young people who are 
coming of age in dangerous communities.
  When it comes to health, researchers at the University of 
Pennsylvania have linked violent crime to negative health outcomes--it 
makes sense--finding that decreased violent crime in communities was 
significantly associated with a decrease in mortality rates from 
cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease. Community areas 
that experienced a similar decline in crime also experienced smaller 
improvements in cardiovascular mortality.
  The study also noted that the stress created by exposure to violent 
crime is tied with a lower intake of healthy foods and higher rates of 
substance abuse in a community. These aren't things that I am making 
up. These are validated in a study from the University of Pennsylvania.
  Further, the study noted that continued exposure to high rates of 
violent crime is associated with several additional negative health 
factors, like higher body mass index and even elevated blood pressure.
  So now let's look at the economics of this in crime. A study by the 
Urban Institute found that surges in violent crime, especially gun 
violence, reduced the growth of new retail and service businesses. You 
see that all over Washington. You see that all over Washington.
  It further notes that increases in violent crime slow home value 
appreciation and can be associated with fewer jobs and lower home 
values. It makes sense. In Washington, DC, this means surging crime 
leads to fewer job opportunities, fewer businesses opening, and more 
businesses closing. I mean we just saw that at Union Station. I think 
the Starbucks pulled out there because of the crime issue.
  The economic indicators of violent crimes are obvious. Walmart just 
announced it is closing all of its stores in Portland, OR, locations. 
The Walmart just over here in DC on H Street has announced that it was 
closing as well. The announcements come shortly after Walmart's CEO 
warned that stores could close and prices could increase due to, 
specifically, rocketing retail crimes affecting stores across the 
  Each of these aspects pile onto the obvious humanitarian effects of 
violent crime: the destruction, loss, and sorrow--actually, I think if 
you are subject to a violent crime and you manage to live through it, 
it doesn't just affect you that day; you carry it with you the rest of 
your life--and how each one of these offenses further rips apart the 
delicate fabric of our communities.
  Residents of our States and cities will not stand for the continuing 
devastation. We saw crime play a major part in Chicago's mayoral 
election just last week, and it was also a center of debate of the New 
York City elections in 2021.
  So, Mr. President, I am glad that our Nation's Capital and our 
complex are once again open to the public. It is so great to see the 
halls filled and the young people coming back, and I have enjoyed 
welcoming many West Virginians to Washington today and every day to 
talk about the issues they care about. It is important. Questions have 
also been raised by many residents about the safety of our streets here 
in Washington, DC.
  So today's vote to reject the DC Council's Revised Criminal Code Act 
of 2022 puts every Member on record. As some of my Republican 
colleagues highlighted last night and continue to highlight today, we 
intend to stand on the right side of this issue, and we will continue 
to heed the calls for increased safety that local officials in 
Washington are attempting to ignore or reshape and protect the 
communities that we serve.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi
  Mrs. HYDE-SMITH. Mr. President, I rise to express my support also for 
the resolution of disapproval of the new soft-on-crime law approved by 
the District of Columbia City Council. The resolution represents my 
chance to say: Enough is enough.
  Today, Americans feel increasingly unsafe. It is not hard to 
understand why, since it has become impossible to disregard or dismiss 
the unraveling of law and order across the country over the past few 
  Whether it is the lack of law enforcement on the border, anti-police 
rhetoric, or weakened punishments for the violent crimes, Americans 
know the shift away from law and order, right and wrong, is tearing all 
the fabric of their communities. Crime is at a 25-year high across the 
entire country.
  Unfortunately, my home State of Mississippi is not immune from this 
trend. Our capital, Jackson, has recorded more than 100 homicides for 3 
consecutive years.
  It is the same song, different verse in our Nation's very own 
Capital, where overall crime is up 25 percent since last year. In fact, 
Washington, DC's murder rate is 34 percent higher today than this time 
last year. Auto thefts are up 110 percent in this city.
  What has the response been from the Democratic leadership? Well, it 
certainly has not made public safety a priority. There is a good reason 
the Senate is considering a resolution of disapproval against the DC 
Council's Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022. With DC's growing record 
of lawlessness, the city council voted to eliminate mandatory minimum 
sentences and reduce penalties for crimes like robbery, carjacking, 
home invasion, burglary, and more. These are violent crimes that leave 
victims traumatized, injured, or worse--dead.
  So why is the instinct to protect the criminal--to signal that the 
penalties for violating the law are being eased?
  This law will put residents, constituents, tourists, Federal workers, 

[[Page S682]]

elected officials directly in harm's way. Rather than holding them 
accountable for their own actions, the DC Council would prefer to let 
these violent criminals go back to the streets and commit the same 
violent crimes. Is it any wonder Washington, DC, has a police 
recruitment and retention problem?
  At the same time, those responsible for enforcing our justice system 
seem more interested in carrying out ``justice'' based on politics. The 
Biden administration's Justice Department, for example, appears to be 
laser-focused on parents at local school board meetings, pro-life 
Americans exercising their right to protest, and spying on Catholic 
Americans, while taking a nothing-to-see-here approach to threats of 
violence against sitting Justices at the Supreme Court or attacks on 
pregnancy centers. If things continue this way, Americans will start to 
wonder if their safety and protection is determined by their political 
  Mr. President, public safety should not be a political issue. It is 
not virtue signaling to lessen punishments for violent criminals; it is 
just dangerous. It is not progressive to pretend the breakdown in 
border security and subsequent flood of fentanyl aren't contributing to 
the surges in the crime and death; it is nonsensical.
  Americans who live in the greatest Nation in the world at the very 
least deserve to feel safe. We deserve to live in a country of law and 
order. Yes, it is time to say ``enough is enough'' to the radical 
policies embraced by the Democratic Party that have only resulted in 
more crime, more fear and more tragedies.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.
  Mr. TILLIS. Mr. President, I rise today to voice my support for the 
resolution we are talking about on public safety in Washington, DC.
  The DC Revised Criminal Code Act is another example of how the far 
left is so out of touch that they want to reduce penalties for violent 
crime in DC while residents, Federal employees, Members of Congress, 
our visiting constituents, and even our visiting diplomats are facing 
greater risk.
  There are a number of concerns I have with the crime bill that the DC 
Council passed over the objections of the DC Mayor, many of which have 
already been discussed at length by my colleagues.
  But one of the most puzzling to me is why you would ever reduce 
penalties for carjacking. DC city officials saw from 2019 to 2020, the 
number of carjackings in DC more than doubled from 152 to 360. They are 
not following trends either. In 2021, it went up to 425; and in 2022, 
it went up to 485. Despite the fact that carjackings have more than 
tripled in the last 4 years, far-left radicals on the DC City Council 
thought now was the time to reduce penalties for carjacking. That is 
one of only several examples we can go to that my colleagues have 
talked about.
  That tells me that the DC City Council is blind to crime happening 
right in front of them--right outside their front door--or that the 
carjacking industry has some really good lobbyists here in Washington.
  Now, to make it worse, only a month ago, President Biden's Office of 
Management and Budget issued a statement opposing this resolution and 
in support of letting radical DC activists on the council let the bill 
go into effect. Not only that, but at least on two occasions, President 
Biden's U.S. attorney in Washington, DC, expressed support for letting 
the radical proposal proceed, even while raising concerns about how 
extreme the policies were.
  I am appealing directly to President Biden. First, I want to thank 
him for agreeing to sign this resolution when we send it to the 
President's desk after a successful vote. I am also asking the 
President to prove his commitment to public safety by working with my 
colleagues and me on commonsense, bipartisan proposals that keep 
communities safe. I think that I have a track record of bipartisanship 
here that the President should take as a good-faith offer. We need to 
get to work.
  One of the bills that I would like to get support for is a bill that 
I filed last Congress--and I am going to file again--called the Protect 
and Serve Act. We need to get it into law because it creates penalties 
for those who assault or kill a police officer, the brave men and women 
in law enforcement.
  We need to show our commitment to law enforcement and to law and 
order in this country, and I believe the Protect and Serve Act will 
send a clear signal to friends and foes alike that we care about law 
enforcement. We need the thousands of law enforcement jobs that are not 
being filled today because law enforcement feels like at least 
policymakers--I don't believe the American people--are working against 
  But now I also want to talk a little bit about how crime is getting 
worse. I consider the Presiding Officer a friend.
  You are on the other side of the aisle, but I see us having a lot in 
common. But, Mr. President, I have to tell you, for those of you 
watching this speech--my mother and maybe a few others--I think it is 
important to understand how campaign finance works here.
  Both the Republicans and Democrats have national organizations that 
work on supporting candidates. I think that is fine. Here is what I 
don't think is fine. It is actually something--I just made sure the 
subpage is still up. It is. I can't lift up my phone and show you all 
because it is a violation of Senate rules. If you Google ``ActBlue'' 
and ``all cops are bastards,'' you will go to a fundraising web page on 
ActBlue--the very same engine that my Democratic colleagues use for 
  I know most of my Democratic colleagues do not embrace that as 
anything that they would support or contribute to, but it is out there. 
If you go to their website, you are going to see the 13.12-mile run. 
They go on to explain why they specifically picked that distance--
because ``1-3-1-2'' translates into ``A-C-A-B.'' Do you know what ``A-
C-A-B'' translates into? ``All cops are bastards''--all.
  We know that in any area where you have tens of thousands of people, 
not all of them are angels, but all of them? Our law enforcement folks 
here on Capitol Hill--all of them? The ones who protected us on January 
6? They are raising money to convince people that all cops are 
  It will be interesting to see if anybody on the city council in DC 
has actually provided a contribution.
  More recently, I think that this sort of rhetoric is at least in part 
what occurred in Atlanta just about a week ago, where violent activists 
attacked a construction site for Atlanta's public safety training. At 
least 23 of the agitators were arrested and charged with domestic 
terrorism after conducting what the Atlanta Police Department is 
calling ``a coordinated attack on construction equipment and police 
  Here is what is ironic about that. I have been to several police 
officer training facilities, and do you know what they train there? 
They train them to protect themselves and protect innocent victims, but 
they also train them how to deescalate. They train them how to take a 
dangerous situation and let someone who may be a criminal be able to go 
and face justice but not die at a crime scene. They are teaching police 
officers to be better.
  In Atlanta, because of this sort of rhetoric, they are attacking the 
very people we all want to see at our doorstep when we dial 9-1-1. The 
violent activists destroyed multiple pieces of construction equipment. 
Thankfully, no police officers were harmed. These are not your run-of-
the-mill ``defund the police'' activists; these are radicals like the 
radicals who are raising money on it, who are willing to use violence 
to achieve their ends of abolishing the police.
  This DC crime bill that we are going to overturn today is another 
step in that direction--enabling and encouraging unsafe communities at 
the expense of the vast majority of police officers and citizens who 
simply want to live in peace.
  It is long past time for the Federal government to say enough is 
enough when it comes to crime in this country.
  I was proud to join President Trump in supporting the First Step Act, 
by the way. If you want to talk to me about criminal justice reform, if 
you want to talk to me about reducing sentences for nonviolent 
offenders, if you want to talk to me about early release of those who 
look like they have an opportunity to reform and get back to being 
active members of society, count me in. Do you know why? Because I have 
already done it. I have done it at

[[Page S683]]

the State level, and I have done it up here. That is smart criminal 
justice policy. This is dangerous.
  I want to thank my friend and colleague from a onetime home of mine 
in Tennessee for moving this resolution.
  You should be congratulated. You have done great work, and I think 
you have opened the eyes of several Members on the other side of the 
aisle here to why this is a sound bill. I am glad to see you carrying 
it all the way to the President's desk, and it will be successful.
  Thank you, Senator Hagerty.
  But let's not end with this vote. Go onto that website and see what 
we are up against. Talk to your local law enforcement and talk about 
how many unfilled positions there are and how morale is low, and do 
your part to thank every man and woman in uniform for their service.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Cortez Masto). The Republican whip.
  Mr. THUNE. Madam President, I, too, want to acknowledge the great 
work of the Senator from Tennessee, Senator Hagerty, on this matter on 
which we will be voting later this afternoon. It has to do with the 
issue of DC crime.
  I think he has touched a nerve in a way that I think is going to lead 
to a very big bipartisan outcome on this because it is a recognition 
that the issue he addresses with this resolution is one that the 
American people, I think, feel deeply about; one that is affecting our 
cities, both large and small, across this country; and one on which I 
think this United States Senate needs to be heard.
  The last weekend in February, eight men were fatally shot in 
Washington, DC--eight men in a single weekend. It was a tragic 
illustration of the current crime situation in our Nation's Capital. 
Homicides in Washington, DC, which had already reached disturbing 
heights in 2021 and 2022, are up 33 percent so far this year compared 
to this point a year ago. We are just 67 days into 2023, but so far 
this year, there have been 101 carjackings--that is a motor vehicle 
theft where the victim is actually present--66 percent of those 
involving guns. There have been a staggering 1,258 motor vehicle thefts 
to date this year--1,258. That is an average of roughly 19 motor 
vehicle thefts every single day--19 thefts every day.
  In the face of the crime surge DC has been experiencing for a while 
now, the DC City Council recently decided to pass legislation weakening 
penalties for a number of crimes. The bill the council passed late last 
year would reduce the maximum penalty for crimes like carjacking, 
robbery, and firearm offenses; remove mandatory minimum sentences for 
all crimes except first-degree murder; clog up the court system by 
substantially expanding access to trial by jury to individuals charged 
with misdemeanors; and more.
  Later today, we will be taking up legislation here in the U.S. Senate 
to block the bill. Congress, of course, has the legal authority to 
block DC ordinances thanks to Federal legislation rooted in the 
Constitution which gives Congress legislative jurisdiction over the 
seat of the U.S. Government--namely, Washington, DC.
  It looks like today's vote will receive strong support from both 
parties. That certainly was not looking like it would have been the 
case a week ago. Last month, the Biden administration issued a 
statement opposing the move to block DC's crime bill. When the House 
took up the measure, 82 percent of House Democrats voted against 
blocking the DC bill. But last week, the President changed his tune. He 
announced that he would not veto the attempt to block the DC bill. 
Since then, Senate Democrats have been lining up to announce they will 
vote to block DC's measure.
  I am pleased Democrats have recognized that weakening criminal 
penalties is not the way to address DC's crime surge. Blocking DC's 
crime bill will be a victory for common sense and for the people of DC, 
who deserve a safe city in which to live.
  While I am pleased at the expected outcome of today's vote, I remain 
deeply concerned about how we got here in the first place. How have we 
gotten to the point where some people think that an appropriate 
response to a surge in crime is to weaken criminal penalties, to a 
point where ideology has overtaken common sense, to the detriment of 
public safety? Part of the answer lies in the deeply troubling surge in 
anti-law enforcement rhetoric over the past few years and the 
accommodation of it by members of the Democratic Party.
  There has been talk of defunding our most essential public servants--
the police; characterization of our justice system as fundamentally 
unjust; an attitude that the answer to crime is not to try to stop it 
from taking place but to stop punishing criminals. The Democratic Party 
has been deeply complicit in this. One leading Democrat Senator and 
Democrat Presidential candidate had this to say a few years ago:

       Let's just start with the hard truth about our criminal 
     justice system. It's racist. It is. And when I say our 
     system, I mean all the way. I mean front to back.

  That from a leading Democrat Senator and Democrat Presidential 
  She is not the only prominent Democrat who has spoken that way. Many 
other Democrats, of course, have not been that explicit, but they have 
tried to have it both ways--attempting to say they support the police 
on one hand, while also accommodating the radical elements of their 
party who want to tear down our justice system and demonize not just a 
few bad police officers but a whole community of public servants who 
put their lives on the line for us every single day.
  President Biden is a striking example of this. As his about-face on 
the DC crime bill makes clear, he is eager to portray himself as a 
supporter of law and order, especially, I assume, given that polling 
has made it clear Americans are deeply concerned about crime. But at 
the same time that he is trying to portray himself as anti-crime, he is 
nominating individuals to serve in his administration who have engaged 
in anti-police rhetoric.
  The President can't have it both ways, and his attempt and Democrats' 
attempt to do so has helped a troubling anti-law enforcement, anti-
justice system narrative to gain hold in our communities.
  One thing I always think about when I hear anti-law enforcement 
rhetoric is how little attention is paid to the victim. People speak 
negatively about criminal penalties or overpolicing, but they don't 
talk about the victims of violent crimes and what it is like to live in 
a place where you literally fear for your safety.
  As DC's Mayor recently said:

       We have to think about victims of crime as much as we think 
     about perpetrators.

  I would argue, more than we think about perpetrators.
  But, too often, the focus of discussions is almost entirely on 
perpetrators, with little attention paid to the victims of crime or the 
consequences of tolerating criminal activity.
  As the DC police chief recently said of DC's bill:

       Where's the victim in all of this? Who does this actually 
     help? Is the victim being helped or is it the person who 
     victimizes? I don't think victims win in that space. And 
     again, that is a nonstarter for me.

  That from the DC police chief, speaking of the very bill we are going 
to block today.
  Bills like the DC City Council's bill should be a nonstarter for 
everyone. Democratic politicians need to stop accommodating the common 
ideology that thinks reducing criminal penalties is an appropriate 
response to crime.
  I am thankful, as I said, for the Senator from Tennessee's leadership 
and that later today we are going to vote to block legislation that 
would endanger DC residents and visitors to our Nation's Capital. I 
hope--I sincerely hope--this bill will mark a return to common sense as 
we work to battle crime in DC and around the country.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. HAGERTY. Madam President, I just want to convey my thanks and 
deep respect to our Republican whip for his thoughtful comments and my 
other colleagues who have been here today to speak on this serious 
matter. Thank you, all.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Dakota.
  Mr. HOEVEN. Madam President, I join my colleagues today to speak 
regarding the rising crime rate in our country. Crimes, specifically 
violent crimes, are exploding at troubling rates nationwide. Crimes are 
at a 25-year high across the country.

[[Page S684]]

  Connected to the rise in crime is the Biden administration's open 
border policy, which is resulting in increased drug and human 
trafficking. At the same time, radical proposals to ``defund the 
police'' are the exact opposite of what we should be doing right now, 
which is supporting our men and women in law enforcement. We need to do 
that by giving them the resources, the tools, and training needed to do 
their job and protect our communities.
  We must strive to protect our communities, enforce our laws, support 
our men and women in blue, and keep criminals off the street. Our 
Nation's Capital is, unfortunately, a prime example of the problems 
that we are having with crime right now in our cities. Crime is up 25 
percent since March of 2022. In that same timeframe, homicides are up 
30 percent and motor vehicle theft is up 110 percent.
  As the center of our government and the symbol of our country, this 
is simply unacceptable. And instead of working to protect our Nation's 
Capital and all our constituents who visit here--and there are many of 
them here today--the DC Council has voted to ease violent crime 
  Last fall, the DC Council passed the Revised Criminal Code Act, which 
greatly weakens the criminal justice system here in the District of 
Columbia. This bill is so problematic that the Mayor of DC vetoed the 
bill, stating that ``it does not make us safe.''
  DC's law enforcement community is also deeply alarmed by the bill, 
raising concerns of overwhelming the court system and exploding the 
already-high violent crime rate here in the District of Columbia.
  We must get serious about protecting safety and addressing the 
nationwide rise in crime by supporting our law enforcement and ensuring 
they have the resources and training they need to protect our 
  That is why I helped to introduce the Resolution of Disapproval to 
prevent such a reckless rewrite of the DC Criminal Code from taking 
effect. And I thank the good Senator from Tennessee for taking the lead 
in this very, very important matter.
  As legislators, we should focus on keeping criminals off our streets, 
instead of attempting to weaken sentences for violent crimes and 
criminals. Let's get back to the basics and support our law enforcement 
and ensure they have the tools they need to keep our communities safe.
  Again, we have people visiting here from all over the country. This 
isn't just the District of Columbia where people live like another 
city. This is our Nation's Capital. People come here from all over the 
country. They should feel safe. They should feel safe in our Nation's 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.
  Mr. CRUZ. Madam President, crime is surging across this Nation. 
Murder rates have risen over the last 3 years, carjackings are rising, 
robberies are rising.
  Today, I want to discuss the resolution disapproving of the DC City 
Council's decision to eliminate mandatory minimums and to reduce 
maximum sentences for violent crimes, including robbery, carjacking, 
and burglary.
  The DC City Council made this decision to lower penalties late last 
year, despite the fact that crime has been skyrocketing in this city. 
In the past 12 months, overall crime is up 25 percent in DC. Car theft 
has increased 110 percent in DC. And homicides have increased 30 
  Who, in their right mind, looks to those rising crime rates and says 
the answer is to lower the penalties for violent crime?
  DC's spike in crime is hardly confined to the last 12 months. In 
2021, the number of murders in DC was the highest it has been since 
2003. The Mayor of DC, a Democrat, vetoed the city council's decision 
to rewrite the Criminal Code, saying:

       Any time there is a policy that reduces penalties, I think 
     it sends the wrong message.

  Unfortunately, the Democrats on the city council in DC overrode her 
  Time and time again, we have seen Democrats in major cities reducing 
penalties for crime; and we have seen, as a result, crime spiking. We 
have seen this in San Francisco. We have seen this in Los Angeles. We 
have seen this in Portland. We have seen this in Boston. We have seen 
this in Philadelphia. We have seen this in New York. We have seen this 
in St. Louis. We have seen this in Chicago.
  Crime is spiking in DC, and it is incredibly harmful to the men and 
women and children who live in DC to be lowering the penalties for 
violent crime. That is why I am proud to support the resolution to 
disapprove of the DC City Council's decision. And I thank my friend 
from Tennessee for his leadership in bringing this resolution.
  This has already passed the House. And I believe it will pass the 
Senate as well. And, despite being soft on crime his entire Presidency, 
President Biden has said he will sign it if it passes the Senate. Now 
that is remarkable given Biden's record on crime. That is remarkable 
given that Biden has nominated not one, not two, but three of the 
leading advocates of abolishing the police to senior positions in the 
Department of Justice.
  I am sorry to say that every Democrat in this Chamber voted to 
confirm not one, not two, but all three of those advocates of 
abolishing the police to senior positions in the Department of Justice. 
One of those was a George Soros-backed prosecutor in Massachusetts who, 
like the DC City Council, put out a list of crimes that she would not 
allow her prosecutors to prosecute, endangering the citizens she was 
charged to protect.
  What was her reward for refusing to prosecute violent criminals? 
President Biden nominated her to be U.S. Attorney for the Commonwealth 
of Massachusetts, and every Senate Democrat voted to confirm her as the 
U.S. Attorney, the chief Federal prosecutor, in the Commonwealth of 
  Now, once President Biden said he would sign this bill, the political 
pressure it has put on the DC City Council has had enormous impact. 
This week, the council tried to withdraw the legislation. ``Never 
mind,'' was their response. But simply withdrawing a bill doesn't 
permanently get rid of it under the Home Rule Act, which allows 
Congress to review legislation that comes out of the DC City Council.
  To permanently stop the DC Council's harmful bill, Congress should 
proceed and pass the Resolution of Disapproval and President Biden 
should follow through on his commitment to sign it.
  A recent poll found that 77 percent of Americans believe that violent 
crime is a major problem. Democrats, tragically, have been soft on 
crime for years; and crime has surged as a result.
  At the end of the day, it is not complicated: If you let violent 
criminals go, they commit more and more violent crimes. We have seen 
patterns all over the country of mass murders carried out by violent 
criminals who Democrat DA's have let out of jail, only to see them turn 
around and commit more violent crimes.
  Congress, right now, has an opportunity to come together and to speak 
in a bipartisan way and to say: Enough is enough is enough. Stop 
letting violent criminals out of jail. Let's protect our citizens. 
Let's do our job.
  I urge every Senator, Republican and Democrat, to support this 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. MARSHALL. Madam President, I rise today in support of H.J. Res. 
26, a resolution to overturn the recent law passed by the DC Council to 
revise the city's Criminal Code.
  I was pleased to join Senator Hagerty as an original cosponsor of the 
Senate's version he introduced in February.
  The Nation's Capital is a unique American city in that it was 
established through the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in order 
to host the Federal system of government established by our Founders, 
separate from the authority of any one single State. Founded in 1790, 
the city has grown immensely since its earliest years and, with a 
population of nearly 700,000, has become one of the largest cities in 
the region.
  In addition to the residents of this city and those who commute daily 
from neighboring Maryland and Virginia, Washington, DC, hosts nearly 20 
million visitors on an annual basis--one of the most visited cities in 
the United States--as Americans from all

[[Page S685]]

50 States, including my home of Kansas, come to the seat of their 
government to meet with their elected officials and visit the National 
Mall, memorials, and museums their tax dollars go to maintaining every 
  Sadly, as the Capital City has expanded, so, too, has the influence 
of the far-left politicians who serve as members of the council. 
Similar to their Democratic counterparts in the White House, Congress, 
and other U.S. metro areas, the DC Council has gone full tilt in giving 
the keys of this city to its criminals and vagrants and in failing in 
their duty to protect its inhabitants and visitors.
  This culture of lawlessness--the same that is on display at our 
southern border, where just yesterday we learned that two of the four 
Americans kidnapped by the Gulf Cartel were brutally murdered--is a 
product of cashless bail laws and efforts to defund the police.
  In DC, these efforts have come in the form of major cuts to the 
city's police department. In 2020, the council implemented a $15 
million cut to their own police force--$15 million. Since then, the 
number of sworn officers has decreased steadily year over year, and, 
predictably, crime has been running rampant ever since. In 2021, more 
than 200 homicides were committed. It was the first time homicides 
surpassed 200 since 2003. In 2022, DC topped its mark again, and the 
trend is continuing in 2023. Crime is up 25 percent from this time last 
year; murders are up 33 percent; sexual abuse crimes are up 120 
percent; and motor vehicle thefts are up 108 percent.
  Shockingly, despite these staggering numbers, the DC Council, over 
the objections of the city's police chief and chief prosecutor, moved 
in November of last year to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences and 
reduce maximum penalties for these very crimes.
  Thankfully, the same Constitution that established the Capital City 
gave Congress authority over the District, and while I am a strong 
supporter of local control, Republicans in Congress have taken an 
important stand to not stand by and watch as the radical DC Council 
further inflames the crimewave engulfing our constituents' Capital 
  I myself am afraid for my own wife to walk from our apartment to the 
Capitol. I am afraid for my own staff to walk from working here to 
their own homes. This last Christmas, I gave every woman on my staff a 
special device to be able to defend herself should she be attacked. 
This is real. We see it every day in this city. We see the crime 
everywhere we go. This city is no longer safe. This city no longer 
belongs to the people. This city now belongs to the criminals.
  I know the Democrats in the House did not get the memo from the 
President in time that he would sign our legislation into law--that of 
overturning the DC Council's overhaul--but I am glad our colleagues 
across the aisle here in the Senate will be joining him in passing this 
important bill in order to blunt the crime victimizing the residents 
and visitors of this city and the efforts of the DC Council to return 
the District of Columbia back to being the murder capital of America.
  Unfortunately, we know this is just a politically motivated move to 
protect their electoral chances in 2024. Lawlessness runs deep in the 
Democratic Party, and no matter how they vote today, much more must be 
done to turn back the harm they have done to our inner cities and at 
our southern border.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mr. RICKETTS. Madam President, we are here today to discuss the 
resolution disapproving the DC Council's efforts to water down the 
city's Criminal Code.
  Now, some might be wondering why the Congress has a say in the DC 
Criminal Code. The reason goes back to the founding documents of our 
country. DC's very existence is in our Constitution, which calls for a 
district not exceeding 10 square miles to be the seat for the 
Government of the United States so that, while DC is a place where 
people live and work, it belongs to the entire Nation.
  Citizens from all across this country come here--students, for 
example--to learn about American history. In fact, I was meeting with 
some students just earlier today. Citizens come here to interact with 
their elected officials. We are here today because the DC City Council 
is trying to make this District--this constitutionally mandated seat of 
government--a less safe place to be able to live, work, and conduct 
  In the rewriting of DC's Criminal Code, DC is trying to make things 
such as first-degree murder, carjackings, robberies, burglaries, home 
invasions--it is trying to reduce the penalties for all of those crimes 
at a time when the crime rate in DC is rising. For the first time in a 
couple of decades, DC has seen 2 years of 200 or more homicides. Over 
the last 5 years, carjackings have increased every single year. In 
fact, in the first 67 days of this year, reported carjackings have been 
at 100. Crime, year over year, in DC is up 22 percent, and the DC 
police chief has said, when they arrest a homicide suspect, that 
suspect, on average, has been arrested 11 times previously.
  Now, there are smart ways to think about criminal justice reform, and 
that is what we did in Nebraska back in 2015, but reducing the 
penalties and being soft on crime is not that approach. Rather than 
reduce the penalties for violent crimes, the city of DC should look at 
what Omaha, NE--my home city--has done and how they have used community 
engagement with the police force to reduce homicides. In fact, they 
have reduced homicides in each of the last 2 years. This is common 
  We need to stand with law enforcement and respect their work to put 
criminals behind bars. We need to stand with the law-abiding victims 
and give them the justice they deserve, and we need to make sure that 
government is fulfilling its obligation to keep people safe.
  That is exactly what we have done in Nebraska. We have rejected the 
woke politics of these soft-on-crime policies that reduce penalties. In 
Nebraska, we back the blue. We stand with law enforcement officers as 
they work to identify, investigate, and arrest criminals. As a seat of 
government, DC's rising crime is a threat to all Americans and to 
Nebraskans, which is why the House and the Senate have an obligation to 
  I am grateful to my esteemed colleague from the great State of 
Tennessee for introducing this resolution and for his leadership on 
this issue.
  I urge all of my colleagues to vote in favor of this as well.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. HAGERTY. Madam President, I understand that this was the first 
opportunity for my colleague from Nebraska to speak before the Senate. 
I want to commend him and thank him for being here to support my 
legislation today.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. HAGERTY. Madam President, just to set the stage before a few more 
of my colleagues come to speak on this resolution, just moments ago, 
over at Union Station, where there is a protest going on right now 
protesting our actions here, with people protesting in favor of this 
soft-on-crime position that the DC Council has taken, those protesters 
just witnessed an attempted carjacking. The assailant who was 
attempting the carjacking was confronted, and as that person fled, they 
ran right through the crowd.
  That is the situation that we are dealing with right now, and I so 
appreciate my colleagues being here to speak on it.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.
  Ms. ERNST. Madam President, about 20 million people a year visit our 
Nation's Capital, Washington, DC. They come to see our hallowed 
Capitol, DC's inspiring monuments and museums, and to experience the 
city's lively melting pot of cultures.
  As we have seen across many major cities in our country, bad 
policymaking has turned a once vibrant city into a scarcely 
recognizable shadow of its former self. The DC Council is throwing gas 
on the fire through its woke criminal policies, which will embolden 
criminals and victimize residents and visitors alike.

[[Page S686]]

  We are seeing a staggering increase in crime. The stats speak for 
themselves. For example, today is day 67 of 2023--day 67--and already 
this year, there have been more than 1,200 carjackings--it sounds like 
1,201 carjackings as of today--422 robberies, and a murder happening 
every 2 days--day 67, folks.
  These aren't just numbers. These crimes have victims, and those 
victims have families.
  The sad reality is that no one is off limits to criminals running 
rampant in our Capital. It is simply unsafe for everyone.
  Just last month, a 15-year-old tried to carjack an elderly woman on 
her way to chemotherapy. The victim, affectionately known as 
``Grandma,'' said:

       Baby, you better shoot me, because you're not taking my 

  Elsewhere, two children, ages 6 and 9, were shot while getting off a 
city bus--children who were just coming home from school.
  Again, the very evening DC's Mayor threatened to veto the council's 
ill-conceived crime bill, an 8-year-old was shot by a stray bullet.
  Despite the rise in crime and the chorus of opposition, the DC 
Council plowed forward with its lunacy.
  DC is seeing an explosion of carjackings, and what does their policy 
do? Reduce sentencing for carjackers.
  Similarly, murders are through the roof, and yet this new policy 
reduces penalties for murderers.
  As one commentator put it, ``serious crime is increasing in the 
District of Columbia. So the city council has decided to reduce 
sentences for those who commit serious crimes.''
  These ideas are crazy, folks. Even DC's very liberal Mayor says so:

       This bill does not make us safer.

  The law was so reckless--so irresponsible--that only those 
congressional Democrats in the most extreme wing of the ``defund the 
police'' crowd defended the code change publicly. In fact, most 
Democrats did a complete 180 when the spotlight shined on their 
preferred criminal justice policies.
  The Mayor opposes the policy. The DC police chief opposes it. And, 
most importantly, DC residents oppose it. So why is the DC Council 
doing it, and why are the far-left Democrats in Congress supporting it? 
Look no further than the policy's advocates, who say it will ``advance 
racial justice in the criminal legal system.''
  Folks, this is just one more of the woke nonsense which gave us 
``defund the police.''
  The DC Council is free to make their own policy, but we in Congress 
cannot sacrifice the safety and security of the residents and visitors 
to our Nation's Capital on the religious altar of the ultraprogressive 
social justice agenda. While it is foolish for radical, leftist 
Democrats on the DC Council to support this, it is not surprising. It 
is also unsurprising that 173 House Democrats support the policy.
  And, frankly, it is unsurprising that Biden quickly flip-flopped on 
his position when he realized the public and the press were not going 
along with this nonsense. That is right. When it became clear that this 
resolution was going to pass, President Biden reversed course. And now 
the DC Council has joined him in his flip-flop.
  I can only wonder: What changed? Was it the shootout a few short 
blocks from the Capitol? Or maybe it was the assault on a Member of 
Congress just 3 days after President Biden issued a formal statement 
supporting DC's law? Whatever the reason, his flip-flop is a welcome 
surprise to those of us with common sense.

  Welcome to the real world, Mr. President and DC Council.
  Perhaps the ``defund the police'' crowd has finally learned what 
everyone else has known for ages: Criminal penalties are not just 
suggestions; they protect the public.
  Folks, it is time to get serious about crime on our streets, and 
there is no better place to start than by blocking this reckless 
  I am proud to join my colleagues in supporting this resolution 
because, to paraphrase one of my House colleagues, ``this policy ain't 
  So my thanks to Senator Hagerty for his leadership on this 
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Rosen). The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Madam President, I, too, come to the floor today to 
talk about the soft-on-crime policies of Democrats in Washington, DC.
  In 2020, Democrats all across the country started their movement to 
defund the police. Almost immediately, we saw burning cities across the 
country, from the east coast all the way to Portland, OR.
  Democratic leaders turned their backs on police officers all across 
the country. As a result, police officers began to retire or resign, 
and they did so in record numbers. The results were as painful as they 
were predictable. Violent crime skyrocketed all across America. We saw 
the fastest murder rate increase in our history. Homicides rose to a 
25-year high. This is no surprise. If police officers are not able to 
do their jobs, then the streets of each town in America are not safe.
  Well, today on the floor, Madam President, Senate Republicans are 
going to act to stop this recklessness. Thanks to the leadership of 
Senator Hagerty, who is leading our discussion and our efforts, Senate 
Republicans are going to vote to stop Washington, DC's radical new 
legislation, this legislation that lets criminals get out of jail free. 
Senate Republicans are going to vote to make our Nation's Capital a 
safer place to visit, a safer place to live, and a safer place to work.
  Wyoming families ask me all the time if it is safe for them to visit 
Washington, DC, or if it is safe for their kids to come to Washington, 
DC, for something like History Day, an opportunity to see the Nation's 
Capital. Imagine that: many American families actually afraid to visit 
or have their children visit our Nation's Capital.
  Liberal cities all across the country have become danger zones. 
Families in Wyoming watch the nightly news. They can't believe their 
eyes. They see smashed storefronts in New York and in Chicago. They see 
innocent people getting mugged on the streets. They see it in New York, 
and they see it in Washington, DC. The cities run by liberals are not 
safe. Across the country, we have hit new records for carjackings, for 
assaults. But instead of backing the blue, Democrats are turning cities 
into safe havens for criminals. That is exactly what has happened here 
in Washington, DC.
  So the city council here in Washington, DC, recently voted to 
eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for every crime except for first-
degree murder. Well, there is a value in mandatory minimum sentences. 
It tells judges the bare minimum punishment for criminal behavior. 
Mandatory minimum sentences stop liberal judges from going soft and 
softer on crime. So it is no wonder that Democrats have waged war on 
mandatory minimums for at least the last decade.
  The new DC law would also reduce maximum sentences for violent 
criminals like carjackers. For some gun charges, the maximum sentence 
would go from 15 years down to less than 5. The new crime law in the 
District of Columbia would mean more violent criminals free to roam the 
streets of our Nation's Capital and prey on innocent people.
  Even the liberal Washington Post has said that the bill that passed 
the DC City Council is a bad idea.
  Carjacking is already a major problem in Washington. We are seeing it 
in liberal cities all across the Nation. Carjackings in DC have tripled 
since 2019, and we just heard on the floor of the Senate today that a 
carjacking has recently taken place right down the street from the 
Capitol Building. That is today. Under the new Criminal Code, the 
maximum sentence for armed carjacking would be cut almost in half.
  Why would the DC City Council reward the criminals who are creating 
this chaos in our Nation's Capital? These criminals and the liberal DC 
City Council members are driving away tourists from my home State of 
Wyoming who want to see their Nation's Capital. It is a part of 
education for so many young people.
  Democrats in the House got behind the DC soft-on-crime policies when 
over 170 Democrats in the House voted to protect the criminals, not the 
  So Joe Biden is now trying to hide his soft-on-crime record. He just 
very recently announced that he would now support our Republican 

[[Page S687]]

  This resolution we will soon be voting on will be a victory for every 
American who wants to feel safe when they visit their Nation's Capital. 
But Washington, DC, is just one city. It shouldn't stop here. 
Democrats' soft-on-crime policies remain in effect in liberal-led 
cities all across America. Democratic lawmakers and especially 
Democratic mayors need to take notice of this action by the U.S. Senate 
  It is time to start enforcing the law. It is time to get rid of 
prosecutors who are weak and prosecutors who are woke. They are not 
helping our country. We need to stand with law enforcement. We need to 
ensure police officers have the resources they need to protect our 
  The American people overwhelmingly reject the soft-on-crime policies 
of Democrats in Washington. America is based on the rule of law. 
Lawlessness should have no place in this Nation. It is time to stop the 
crime, time to stop the chaos we are seeing in cities all across our 
  Republicans are united by solutions--solutions to make American 
communities safer. That is what this body is going to vote on today: to 
improve the security and the safety of those in our Nation's Capital.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam President, I am so pleased to come to the floor 
today in support of Senator Hagerty's legislation. It is so appropriate 
that we take this up, and I look forward to supporting the legislation 
as we vote later today and seeing this move to passage, seeing this 
become law, and seeing this add to protection for the citizens who live 
here in DC.
  Over the past few years, our Nation has certainly witnessed a 
devastating increase in violent crime. Compared to mid-2019, America's 
largest cities have experienced a 50-percent increase in homicides and 
a 36-percent increase in aggravated assaults. It is unimaginable that, 
given the rise in violence in this country, the elected officials of 
the DC City Council think it is a good idea to reduce the amount of 
jail time for violent and deadly crimes. This includes carjackings, and 
Senator Hagerty referenced one that was taking place in front of the 
protesters who were out there because they opposed this bill.
  Now, these crimes are rampant here in our Nation's Capital. In fact, 
as of this morning, the Metropolitan Police Department tells us that 
motor vehicle theft is up more than 100 percent compared to last year. 
Homicides are up 33 percent. If you look at the direction those stats 
have gone over the past 10 years, it is not encouraging--incidences of 
sex abuse up 120 percent, property crime up 30 percent.
  You don't have to live in the District to know that something has 
taken hold here, and reducing penalties for terrorizing innocent 
civilians is not the way to break free. Citizens should not feel unsafe 
in their communities, no matter where they live.
  Today's vote is about protecting the people from this failed 
leadership, but it is also about holding the DC City Council 
accountable for prioritizing a cynical political maneuver over the 
safety of the very people they represent. This body has made a name for 
itself, this DC City Council, this legislative body for the District of 
Columbia. They have made a name for themselves because they have 
cherry-picked some violations and have chosen to impose some truly 
ridiculous restrictions on what District residents can and cannot do. 
They don't deserve the benefit of the doubt here.
  Right now, the council is ready to retreat, but it would be a 
dereliction of our duty as Senators to allow them to do that. That is 
why we are supporting Senator Hagerty in his resolution of disapproval 
and in his work to stop this foolishness from the DC Council.
  We also have a duty to update and improve existing laws to combat 
criminals as their tactics evolve.
  Earlier this year, I introduced the REPORT Act, which will go a long 
way in helping law enforcement tackle child exploitation online. The 
past few years of hearings with the Consumer Protection Subcommittee 
have made it clear that we need to modernize our child safety laws.
  The explosion of social media and the expansion of underage users is 
making these children vulnerable to predators, and law enforcement 
simply cannot keep up with what is happening online while they are out 
trying also to find the burglaries, the robberies, the carjackings.
  Once the Senate passes the REPORT Act, online platforms are going to 
be required to report all child sexual abuse material found on their 
sites to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's 
CyberTipline. Current law makes that step voluntary, but that standard 
is not working. We have to change it, and we have to make violating 
that new standard really hurt.
  The bill significantly increases fines imposed on platforms that 
refuse to do this bare minimum. It also requires platforms to report 
child sex trafficking and enticement crimes. Current law imposes no 
obligation--none, zero--on platforms to report those materials, which 
means that most of these crimes are, unfortunately, going undetected.
  The last two pieces of the bill will help law enforcement and 
advocates work together to bring down predators. It includes my END 
Child Exploitation Act, which extends the retention period for 
possession of abusive material to 1 year. This will ensure that law 
enforcement has enough time to access the evidence held by these 
companies and then prosecute the offenders. It also makes it clear that 
the vendors working with NCMEC, minors, and parents who report to the 
CyberTipline won't be held liable for possessing child sexual abuse 
  I am so pleased that so many of my colleagues have come to the floor 
today to talk about the rise in crime. The backlash against the DC 
crime bill highlights the fundamental difference between the left's 
priorities and the priorities of the American people. Anybody with a 
bit of common sense would look at the DC City Council's proposal and 
ask: Why would they even consider sending such a weak-on-crime message? 
It is an invitation to criminals to come and carry out their crimes.

  It is time for the left to revisit their priorities and start paying 
attention to what the crime stats are telling them. The status quo 
isn't working, but surrendering to violence, lawlessness, and despair 
isn't the answer either.
  On the Federal level, my Democratic colleagues need to support 
Federal, State, and local law enforcement and demand that this 
President nominate experienced judges.
  Here in the Senate, we can help by making sure that police 
departments are able to hire, train, and equip officers with the tools 
that they need to do their job. Last Congress, Senator Hagerty and I 
introduced the Restoring Law and Order Act, which would have repurposed 
the billions of dollars the Democrats handed to the IRS and used that 
money to support law enforcement and eliminate the rape kit backlog.
  We can also modernize existing laws that are no longer working. I 
welcome my Democratic colleagues to come talk with me about how the 
REPORT Act will help catch child predators who are taking advantage of 
new technology to find their victims.
  I encourage them to join Senator Hagerty and me in restoring law and 
order, and I encourage each of them to stand today with Senator 
Hagerty, vote for his resolution, and take a stand against the warped 
priorities of the DC City Council.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Madam President, Washington, DC, is our Nation's Capital. 
There is perhaps no city in America more capable of demonstrating the 
idea of the United States as a melting pot than is the District of 
Columbia. Here, you find people from every walk of life. It is the seat 
of our national government, where people from across the country come 
to work, seek an education, engage with history, witness what goes on 
here, and take look at our Nation's monuments and historical venues 
that can be found here.
  Washington, DC, in short, belongs to all Americans. Tragically, a 
visible increase in crime has plagued DC. It is backed by numbers, felt 
by residents, and seen by millions of visitors.
  Since March of last year, crime in DC is up 25 percent. Homicides are 
up 30 percent, and motor vehicle theft is up 110 percent--110 percent.

[[Page S688]]

  Despite being in the midst of a crime wave, the DC City Council 
passed a bill that reduced criminal penalties for violent crimes, 
including homicide, robbery, and carjacking.
  Now, what message does that send?
  It is such poor logic that Mayor Bowser opposed the bill, admitting 
that ``this bill doesn't make us safer.'' She is absolutely right; it 
doesn't make us safer. Yet the DC City Council chose to override her 
veto and force this through to make it the law of the land, even though 
it doesn't make us safer. It makes things much, much worse, and it 
makes things worse in many of the same ways that DC residents are 
already suffering.
  When the DC City Council is to the left of Mayor Bowser, we have a 
serious problem. When carjackings are up 110 percent, this shouldn't be 
a partisan issue. Even President Biden telegraphed in a recent tweet:

       I don't support some of the changes D.C. Council put 
     forward over the Mayor's objections--such as lowering 
     penalties for carjackings.
       If the Senate votes to overturn what DC Council did--I'll 
     sign it.

  President Biden is right. Now is not the time to get soft on crime.
  This is, by the way, a good time to demonstrate that this is not or 
should not be a partisan issue. How fitting is it that this bill, once 
it is passed by the Senate, is expected to be the first piece of 
legislation signed into law by President Biden during this Congress. It 
is also fitting that the House sponsor of this bill is none other than 
second-term Congressman  Andrew Clyde, a Republican and a member of the 
House Freedom Caucus. So if this bill is able to unite the House 
Freedom Caucus and President Biden, it is doing something right.
  Now, it is not often that I find myself in the company of President 
Biden and Mayor Bowser. We have already seen this play out with the 
campaign to ``defund the police.'' Cities with this disposition quickly 
discovered that lawlessness begets anarchy. Since the campaign began, 
crime has skyrocketed, and police resignations have soared. What 
started as a series of calls for justice culminated at a 25-year high 
in the national crime rate. Let us not make the same mistake twice--not 
here, not now. We can't afford to make such a mistake.
  Voting for this resolution presents an opportunity for my Democratic 
colleagues to make a distinction. Will you join us in a bipartisan 
recognition that we cannot endanger the lives of DC residents by 
allowing this soft-on-crime bill to go into effect, or will you stand 
with the DC City Council and put politics above public safety?
  I emphatically support Senator Hagerty's resolution of disapproval 
because the residents and visitors of this city have a reasonable 
expectation of safety. I encourage my friends across the aisle to 
support this commonsense resolution and send a message that the 
Democratic Party is not beholden to its fringes, particularly where, as 
here, its fringes would lead to increased crime rate and additional 
unnecessary suffering.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. HAGERTY. Madam President, I would just like to say thank you to 
all of my colleagues today who have joined me. I thank Senator Lee for 
his thoughtful remarks. I am looking forward to a very robust showing 
this evening as we vote on my resolution.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.

                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 713

  Mr. COTTON. Madam President, Washington, DC, is in the middle of a 
carjacking crime wave. There have been more than 100 carjackings in our 
Nation's Capital so far this year. It is only March 8. I think that is 
more than one a day. Two-thirds of DC carjackers use guns to force 
their terrified victims out of their vehicles.
  What do the Washington Democrats do in response to this carjacking 
crime wave? Do they support ``fund the police,'' install more cameras, 
put more cops on the streets? No. They passed a law to reduce criminal 
penalties for carjacking--reduce criminal penalties for carjackings and 
other serious crimes. I wish I were joking; but, sadly, I am not.
  Washington's answer to higher crime is less prison time for violent 
criminals. The only reason this is not going to happen is because 
Congress retains its constitutional authority over our Federal city 
because Washington is not a State, nor should it ever be a State. But 
in this case, some Democrats--even President Biden--got skittish about 
the political price they would pay for being this weak on crime, so 
they broke ranks and headed for the hills.
  When House Republicans voted to disapprove Washington's soft-on-crime 
bill, 31 Democrats voted with them. I suspect something similar will 
play out later here today. President Biden says he will sign the 
resolution of disapproval once it passes because--and these are his 

       I don't support some of the changes the DC Council put 
     forward over the Mayor's objections, such as lowering 
     penalties for carjackings.

  Those are the President's words. I welcome the Democrats' rebuke of 
the Washington, DC, City Council. I hope it is more than a passing 
moment of sanity, but I do have my doubts.
  So let's put their new tough-on-crime attitude to the test. It is 
really not enough to stop carjackings just here in Washington, DC, 
because carjacking is not a Washington, DC, problem alone. Many cities 
are suffering from carjacking crime waves as well, just as they are 
suffering from increases in the murder rate and other terrible crimes.
  According to a recent report, carjackings rose an astonishing 29 
percent in seven major cities between 2020 and 2022. Why the increase? 
Well, one reason is the FIRST STEP Act, soft-on-crime bill that 
Congress passed in the final days of 2018. That bill let criminals out 
of jail early for even serious violent offenses like mild molestation, 
bank robbery, assaulting a police officer, and, yes, carjacking.
  The FIRST STEP Act wasn't the only effort to coddle violent 
criminals, but it is an egregious law that made clear too many of our 
elected officials no longer take serious crime seriously. The FIRST 
STEP Act increased, by about 15 percent, the amount of time that 
Federal criminals, even carjackers, can get off their sentences for so-
called good behavior. This is in addition to the extensive sentencing 
reductions and early release programs for other crimes in the bill. The 
result was that if a carjacker, say, got 6 years in prison, he could be 
back out on the street to offend again in as few as 5 years.
  It is time to rectify this mistake and to keep carjackers behind 
bars. That is why I am offering my bill, the No Early Release for 
Carjackers Act. The bill is as simple as its title. If you go to jail 
for violently hijacking someone's car, you should serve your entire 
sentence, not get time off for supposed good behavior.
  So if President Biden and congressional Democrats are really 
committed to getting tough on carjackers--not just here in Washington, 
DC, where they drive around a lot--then they should support this 
  I know that some of the defenders of the First Step Act will say, 
yes, carjackers should get out of jail early for good behavior. These 
criminals will, after all, get out of jail one day--or so the argument 
goes--so shouldn't we rehabilitate them by rewarding them, encouraging 
their good behavior?
  To which I answer: Sure, we can reward good behavior for carjackers 
in prison. We can encourage good behavior, but we shouldn't reward it 
in a way that endangers the public. Letting dangerous criminals out of 
jail early endangers the public.
  If the Members of the Senate are truly concerned with rewarding good 
behavior, we can offer well-behaved inmates other incentives, say, 
greater access to prison telephones, transfers to lower security 
facilities. And carjackers will remain eligible for other incentive 
programs that are so beloved by the soft-on-crime set like gardening 
classes or whatever else it is liberals think will turn supposedly 
hardened criminals into model citizens. But there is simply no good 
reason to release dangerous criminals from prison early, especially 
not in the middle of a violent carjacking crime wave.

  Crime is a policy choice and the choice is simple: If we put 
criminals behind bars, crime goes down; if we let criminals run amuck, 
crimes goes up. We have seen the consequences of letting carjackers run 
amuck. Now we

[[Page S689]]

have a choice to fix that terrible mistake.
  Therefore, Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to the immediate consideration of S. 713, which is at the desk. 
I further ask that the bill be considered, and read a third time and 
passed, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon 
the table with no intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. DURBIN. Reserving the right to object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, last year, as chairman of the Senate 
Judiciary Committee, I convened a bipartisan hearing on carjacking. It 
was the first-ever Judiciary Committee hearing on the subject. We heard 
from experts in law enforcement and the automobile industry. And since 
then, I have been working with Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican from 
Iowa, on a bill we are going to introduce soon on the subject.
  The Senator from Arkansas is a member of the Committee on the 
Judiciary. He did not attend our hearing, and he has never raised this 
issue with me. In fact, he introduced the bill we are considering at 
this moment yesterday.
  Why now? Well, he is very open when he said on the floor and what he 
said in his press release. Later this afternoon, there will be a vote 
on the DC Criminal Code. One of the issues is carjacking. He is trying 
to hitch a ride on this train in terms of the discussion of the 
penalties for crime. It is no coincidence.
  Senator Cotton has brought this bill to the floor because, today, we 
are voting on that resolution. The opponents of the resolution have 
focused on the bill's new sentence for carjacking, reducing the penalty 
from 40 years to 24, and ignored the fact that the resolution increases 
sentences for a host of other violent offenses and goes after crime 
guns--a source of gun crimes in many cities, including Washington and 
those I represent.
  Don't take my word for it. The Senator's own press release explicitly 
links his new bill to today's vote. The Senator knows this bill is not 
going to pass today. He wants a Democrat to object so he can falsely 
claim we don't care about carjacking.
  The reality is that the Senator's bill would not help prevent 
carjacking, and it would make our Federal prisons less safe.
  Let me explain. The Senator from Arkansas' bill is called No Early 
Release for Carjackers Act. Catchy title. But it fails to recognize one 
basic fact: Carjackers cannot get early release from the Federal 
system. Like every other Federal sentence, it is measured in years. 
Carjacking sentences have a full-term release date and a good conduct 
release date. If you go to Federal prison, you earn 54 days a year of 
good conduct credit if you follow the rules. If you break the rules, 
they take away your good conduct time. That has been the standard in 
the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, which abolished Federal parole.
  Every Federal judge knows about good conduct time when they impose a 
sentence. Earning good conduct time isn't getting released early. It is 
getting released when you really expected to, so long as you behave and 
follow the rules.
  I made it a point of visiting prisons regularly as a Member of 
Congress and Member of the U.S. Senate. I recommend it to all my 
colleagues. We spend a lot of time talking about criminal sentencing 
and criminals themselves and very little time actually visiting prisons 
to see what life is like behind bars. It is an educational experience.
  I can tell you one thing you will come to realize right off the bat: 
It is a dangerous place. The men and women who are corrections officers 
in the Federal system literally risk their lives every single day to 
keep those incarcerated who have been sentenced by the courts. They ask 
us for very little: enough people to do the job right, safety in the 
workplace, and those few incentives that make it possible for them to 
have a decent day at work and go home alive at the end of the day.
  One of those things is good conduct. If they can incentivize 
prisoners not to beat up other prisoners or the correction officers 
themselves with the promise of good conduct reductions in their 
sentences, it is a very important thing to do. We want these men and 
women, these law enforcement professionals, to have respect and also to 
have the law on their side.
  There are no Federal offenses that disqualify you from good conduct 
time--not a single one. And for good reason. Good conduct time is an 
incentive to follow the rules in prison. That is what we want people 
who have broken the law to do while they are in prison: learn to follow 
the rules. The threat of losing good conduct time is also a deterrent 
against breaking the rules. That helps prevent violence in prison, 
protects correction officers, and protects the other incarcerated 
people. Good conduct time is a critical tool for Federal prison 
officials to maintain order. That is why we don't disqualify anyone 
from good conduct time based on their offense of conviction. This bill 
would be the first time in history. We have never done it before, and 
we shouldn't start now.

  Now, this is not the first time that this Senator has opposed efforts 
to rehabilitate prisoners. The reason he is trying to dismantle good 
conduct credit is because carjackers are already excluded from an 
important rehab program created by the FIRST STEP Act. He comes to the 
floor regularly to criticize the FIRST STEP Act, which he didn't 
support, and it is his right not to. He fails to mention two things. It 
was a bipartisan measure introduced by the primary sponsor at the time, 
Senator Grassley, and myself and Senator Lee. It was signed into law by 
President Donald Trump. Soft on crime? This bill passed by an 
overwhelming vote of 87 to 12 in the Senate. It was signed into law by 
President Trump.
  Unlike most Republican Senators, Senator Cotton opposed the FIRST 
STEP Act. The FIRST STEP Act established earned time credits that 
allowed prisoners to earn time off their sentences in exchange for 
completing programs that help reduce the likelihood they will commit a 
new crime after their release. The bill included a compromise and 
excluded from the program individuals who had committed any of dozens 
of offenses. Carjacking is one of those offenses. So the criticism he 
is making of the FIRST STEP Act doesn't apply to the argument he made 
on the floor.
  No matter how many recidivism-reducing programs a carjacker 
completes, no matter how many classes he takes or how many skills he 
learns, he cannot earn a day off his sentence under the FIRST STEP 
Act--exactly the opposite of what the Senator from Arkansas just said.
  That compromise wasn't enough for the junior Senator from Arkansas. 
He offered an amendment to the FIRST STEP Act that would have excluded 
tens of thousands of low-level offenders for earned time credits. And I 
stood here on the Senate floor to oppose that amendment because I knew 
then and I know now the purpose of a recidivism reduction program is to 
reduce recidivism. Almost everyone in the Federal Bureau of Prisons 
will get out one day. And when we exclude people from these programs, 
we do not facilitate successful reentry, and we do not reduce 
  Now let's talk about what we can do to reduce carjacking. I have been 
working for months on a bill with Senator Grassley, a Republican from 
Iowa, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Our Combating Carjacking 
Act is based on recommendations from experts who came to our hearing 
last year.
  I have discussed one key provision many times with the sheriff of 
Cook County, Tom Dart, and here is what it does. Almost any car 
manufacturer today has some kind of vehicle location system built into 
it. It is a device that automatically calls for help if you have been 
in an accident.
  This system is a great way to locate cars right away in real time 
after they have been carjacked, and that should be a huge deterrent to 
carjacking. If you take a car by threat of violence, law enforcement 
should be able to find you right away, take back the car, and put you 
under arrest for your crime.
  But right now, law enforcement has a hard time getting auto 
manufacturers to provide that location data, even when the victim, the 
vehicle owner, is

[[Page S690]]

standing there saying: Please help the police find the person who just 
stole my car.
  Why? Some manufacturers are better than others about this, but they 
tell us that we are worried about violating the Federal Driver Privacy 
Act, and they are worried about liability.
  So the bill we are working on, on carjacking, creates an exception to 
the Driver Privacy Act. It says, if a car manufacturer gets a 
reasonable, good-faith request from law enforcement for vehicle 
location data after a carjacking, they can provide that location data 
without liability because we want to make carjacking a crime that never 
pays off, and it won't if carjacked vehicles can be immediately tracked 
and recovered. That is why we are pursuing this.
  As I said before, I agree with Senator Cotton, carjacking is a 
serious problem that needs local and Federal solutions. I invite him to 
join me and Senator Grassley in our bipartisan effort. I don't agree 
that wiping out good conduct credit for Federal prisoners is the way to 
do it.
  Madam President, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard.
  The Senator from Arkansas.
  Mr. COTTON. Well, Madam President, I am disappointed that our 
bipartisan bonhomie this week about carjacking only lasted as long as 
overturning Washington, DC's law.
  We should address how we can stop more carjackings. I don't think we 
should blame cars for carjacking the way some would blame guns for gun 
violence. The simplest way to stop carjacking is to lock carjackers 
away in prison for a long time and not to let them out early.
  And the Senator from Illinois, I will say, is right. I was the most 
implacable foe of the FIRST STEP Act, and I remain so. Guilty as 
charged. I will walk free, like most violent criminals in Washington, 
DC, who plead guilty as well, but continue my advocacy against that law 
which has led to hundreds and hundreds of its beneficiaries committing 
violent crimes. It was a mistake in 2018 when we passed it. Eighty-
seven Senators committed the mistake, including most Republicans. 
President Trump made a mistake in supporting the FIRST STEP Act. That 
law is dangerous to public safety.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Madam President, I rise in opposition to the 
resolution by Congress to overturn a law that was duly passed and 
enacted by the elected representatives of the people of the District of 
  I support self-determination. I support self-governance. I support 
full democracy for the nearly 700,000 residents of the District of 
Columbia. Citizens who pay more Federal taxes collectively than the 
people in 21 States, citizens who serve their country in the Armed 
Forces, citizens who live in the Capital of the oldest democracy 
deserve the same rights to full democracy and self-determination as the 
citizens who live in any other State or any other city in the United 
States of America.
  That is why I have long championed and supported the cause of DC 
statehood. But I want to point out, that is a fight not only for voting 
representation in the House and the Senate but also for the principle 
of local economy, the principle of self-determination also known as 
home rule.
  In my view, this resolution is an attack on the democratic rights of 
the people of the District of Columbia, which has its own duly elected 
democratic representatives: the Mayor and the DC Council. Its residents 
and citizens are fully capable of deciding their own law and deciding 
their own future.
  The Congress should not be overriding the will of the people of DC as 
reflected in their elected representatives. This process of directly 
overruling a law passed by the District of Columbia has not been used 
for 30 years--not for 30 years--and we should not start it now.
  This bill was passed by the DC Council. It was vetoed by the Mayor. 
And I share some of the concerns that have been expressed by the Mayor. 
But then, the city council overruled the Mayor's veto by a vote of 12 
to 1. And here is what the Mayor of the District of Columbia says; that 
while she had differences with what the council did, she strongly, 
strongly encourages this Senate to uphold the larger principle of 
democracy for the people of the District of Columbia.
  Here is a letter she sent to all of us on February 23.

       [A]s Mayor and the Chief Executive Officer of the District, 
     I call on all senators who share a commitment to basic 
     democratic principles of self-determination and local control 
     to vote ``NO''--

  Vote no--

     on any disapproval resolutions involving duly enacted laws of 
     the District of Columbia.

  The Mayor points out in this letter that she is in a back-and-forth 
with the council to try to address some of the concerns that she has 
expressed, concerns which I understand and which I share. But she is 
very clear that the U.S. Congress should not be bigfooting the 
decisions made by the elected representatives of the District of 
  No other jurisdiction in the United States of America has its laws 
subject to veto by the U.S. Congress. We all have Governors of our 
State. We all have State legislators. We have cities with mayors and 
elected councils. No one here would appreciate the U.S. Senate and 
House of Representatives interfering and overturning decisions made by 
their State representatives or their local representatives, even if we 
might disagree with some of those decisions from time to time. And yet 
that is what we are doing to the people of the District of Columbia 
having elected their representatives, the Mayor and the council, to 
represent them.
  We must ensure that the people who live in the Capital of the world's 
oldest democracy have the same democratic rights as the people who live 
in every other part of the country.
  Now, I do want to address some of the particulars here because we 
have heard from lots of people, especially our Republican colleagues, 
that what the DC Council did and the DC government did was so egregious 
that we have really no alternative but to make a decision we haven't 
made for 30 years, which is to overturn a law that was duly passed by 
the DC government.
  So let's take a look at it.
  Even opponents within the District of Columbia acknowledge that the 
majority--the great majority--of the revised Criminal Code is 
noncontroversial, providing essential updates and clarification to a 
criminal code that is in desperate need of modernization. The Mayor 
herself who vetoed the legislation says she supports 95 percent of it 
and has offered concrete proposals to address the other concerns that 
she points out that even though she disagrees with 5 percent, that is 
no reason for the U.S. Congress to overturn a law that was passed by 
the government of DC.
  Why did the District of Columbia revise its code? Because it is 
hopelessly outdated and confusing. It was written in 1901, more than 
120 years ago. Many of our States have updated our laws since then--
most of them, if not all of them--but in DC, while they made some 
changes to some parts over that 120 years, they had never taken a 
comprehensive look at the DC Criminal Code. We all know a lot has 
changed since 1901.
  And so the revised DC Criminal Code is the result of an exhaustive 
effort led by the Criminal Code Reform Commission, an independent DC 
agency established in 2016 and comprised of nonpartisan experts. The 
commission drafted the code over nearly 5 years in a fully public 
process that included 51 public meetings, extensive public feedback, 
and robust negotiations.
  The advisory group that unanimously approved the recommended changes 
included representatives from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the 
District of Columbia and the Office of the Attorney General for the 
District of Columbia.
  The new code removes some obsolete provisions. It ensures that 
sentences are more proportionate to the actual sentencing. It 
simplifies overlapping charges and addresses missing and inconsistent 
laws that create legal loopholes that people have been able to slip 
  Now, while I may not have supported every one of these hundreds of 
provisions in the revised Criminal Code if I were sitting on the DC 
Council--I am not sitting on the DC City Council and

[[Page S691]]

neither is any Senator in this Chamber. None of my 99 other colleagues 
were there to hear all the testimony that was heard by those who made 
these decisions on behalf of their constituents as elected 
  Let's dig a little deeper into some of the changes that were made 
because listening to some of the public discourse, you would think--I 
know my friend, the Senator from New Jersey, has heard this--you would 
think that, boy, the DC Council just went wild with this leftist effort 
to loosen the laws and let criminals run free.
  Well, let's take a look at what they did. They raised some penalties. 
In some cases, they looked at actual sentences, not just in DC but 
other States, and lowered them, and in some cases, they closed legal 
  Here is where they raised penalties: attempted murder. The current 
maximum sentence in the District of Columbia is 5 years in prison for 
attempted murder; the maximum under the new DC law, 23\1/2\ years for 
attempted murder.
  How does this compare to other States?
  Well, there are at least seven of our States that have maximum 
penalties for attempted murder below the new DC maximum penalty for 
attempted murder.
  I see the Republican leader is not on the floor. The State of 
Kentucky has a lower sentence for attempted murder than the revised DC 
Code has. Maybe tomorrow I should introduce a piece of legislation to 
raise the penalty for attempted murder in the State of Kentucky because 
I just don't think that theirs is good enough for the people of 
Kentucky. That is what we are doing here. We are substituting our 
judgment for the considered judgment of the people of the District of 
  Let's look at another area: attempted sexual assault. The DC 
government increased penalties for sexual assault from 5 years to 15 
years. Again, I surveyed some of our other States. You know, we have 
Senators from a number of States--at least six--that have lower 
penalties for attempted sexual assault than the current, new, proposed 
DC law, including, once again, the State of Kentucky. The State of 
Kentucky has a lower maximum penalty for attempted sexual assault than 
the new, revised DC law has.
  For Federal assault on a police officer, they raised it from the 
current max of 10 to 14 years. For misdemeanor sexual assault, the 
maximum will now be 2 years, up from 180 days.
  The statute also includes new offenses. As I say, we are modernizing 
the code, including nonvehicular negligent homicide and reckless 
endangerment with a firearm and new penalties, such as for offenses 
against vulnerable adults, in order to strengthen public safety in the 
District of Columbia after having listened to their constituents.
  It also includes increased penalty enhancements for aggravating 
factors--such as the presence of a firearm, such as property damage or 
having prior convictions--in addition to the base penalties that are 
established for various crimes.
  Now, that is where they increase penalties, and that is where they 
close loopholes, but when you are doing comprehensive reform, you look 
at everything. You don't necessarily measure justice just because a 
maximum penalty for something goes up. Sometimes you measure justice by 
making sure that the penalty is proportionate to the crime.
  We have had lots of debates on this floor, and the Senator from New 
Jersey, my friend Mr. Booker, has been front and center in leading the 
charge when it comes to criminal justice reform because we have an 
absolute scandal in the United States of America about the mass 
incarceration of people of color.
  So when the DC Council passes some of these laws, people apparently 
ignore all of the cases they are increasing penalties for--things like 
attempted murder--and zeroing in on some areas where they are actually 
bringing sentences in line with what judges are doing based on their 
  A lot of attention has been given to the issue of armed carjacking 
because, in this case, the DC government lowered the maximum penalty 
for armed carjacking. They did that to bring the maximum penalty more 
in line with what the actual sentencing was. The current carjacking 
maximum after the change is 21 years. It went from 40 years down to 24 
  Now, here is the thing: I looked again, as I know my friend from New 
Jersey did, at what other States' laws are for armed carjacking, their 
maximum penalties. Once again, in many cases, they are lower than the 
new DC statute, the new DC penalty. In fact, a lot of States don't even 
have armed carjacking statutes. So if you want a point of comparison 
for those States, you would look at armed robbery.
  When you look at States with armed carjacking statutes and when you 
look at the penalties they apply for armed robbery in carjacking cases, 
you will find that 15 States have lower penalties than the new, lower 
DC maximum penalty for armed carjacking. Fifteen States represented by 
Senators in this Chamber who want to override DC law have sentences for 
armed robbery or armed carjacking lower than what DC's new penalty is. 
Those States include Alaska; they include Kansas; they include North 
Dakota; and yes, once again, they include the State of Kentucky. The 
State of Kentucky seems to be an outlier here in terms of low sentences 
for many violent crimes, lower than the newly revised code passed by 
the DC government.
  I am not going to go into all of the other details here. I think my 
colleagues get the picture, which is that the elected representatives 
of the District of Columbia, after an exhaustive review, made some 
decisions about criminal justice reform. I don't agree with every 
single one of them that they made, but I will tell you this: What they 
did is entirely defensible, and it certainly doesn't rise to the level 
of the U.S. Congress, for the first time in 30 years, bigfooting their 
  That is also the testimony we received from a number of attorneys 
general of our States. Everyone--including, I am proud to say, my 
attorney general, Anthony Brown, a former Member of the House--wrote to 
us all. They pointed out in their letter that the question of public 
safety is best left to those who are closest to the community and who 
are in the best position to decide these laws. They say: We know from 
experience that each of our jurisdictions is very different and at 
times requires different policy approaches.
  A law that makes sense for one community may not make sense for 
another. If the State of Kentucky wants to have lower criminal 
penalties than the District of Columbia, that is their decision. As I 
said, based on today's action, maybe I will get up tomorrow morning and 
introduce a bill to change the criminal penalties in the State of 
  The bottom line is this: The people who live in the District of 
Columbia deserve the same right as the people who live in every other 
part of our country--the right to self-determination and democracy. 
That is what they did in passing this new law, and we should not be 
substituting our judgment for that of the duly-elected representatives 
of the people of the District of Columbia.
  I now yield to the Senator from New Jersey, Mr. Booker.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Baldwin). The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. BOOKER. Madam President, I want to just say that I respect and am 
grateful for the generosity of the chairman, the Senator from Oregon, 
for allowing me to slip in and say some remarks.
  I want to thank Senator Van Hollen for his incredible leadership on 
this issue.
  I have the distinction of being the only one of the 100 Senators who 
was actually born in Washington, DC. This is the city my parents met 
in. This is the city they married in. My mom worked for the DC Public 
Schools. My father was one of the first Black salesmen hired in the 
entire DC region by the company IBM. I owe this city so much, and I am 
disappointed that there is nobody in this body who was officially 
elected to speak for this city.
  Washington, DC, is suffering, as it has, from a violation of one of 
our most sacrosanct principles of the country, which is this idea that 
this democracy is rooted in the ideal of representative democracy, the 
separation of powers, and most certainly the idea that you can't have 
taxation without representation. In fact, DC residents pay more

[[Page S692]]

per capita in Federal taxes than any other State, but yet they have no 
say in the Federal Government.
  Madam President, 700,000 Americans, in one of the only expressions of 
representative democracy available to them, have 13 council people who 
were part of a process. As was said already by my colleague, the 
council members completed the monumental task of modernizing the 120-
year-old DC Criminal Code to make it more consistent, clarifying 
conflicting provisions, and bringing it in line not just with current 
best practices reflected in the majority of States' criminal codes but 
in trying to address the urgencies of the moment wherein you have a 
city that is deeply concerned about the crime in its community.
  DC's efforts are not unique. There are 37 States that have gone 
through similar processes--so-called red States, so-called blue States, 
and purple States.
  The process was spearheaded, as my colleague said, by the independent 
DC Criminal Code Reform Commission, which was a nonpartisan agency that 
was very representative of prosecutors and victims' rights advocates. 
All of these nonpolitical people came and unanimously endorsed what we 
have before us today.
  Now, the first time any partisan politician got involved was with the 
City Council just voting to confirm this nonpartisan body's unanimous 
recommendations. It was to that process that the Republican leader 
said: Oh, it looks like, with what they did, they are in need of adult 
  Think of how patronizing and paternalistic that is for this body, not 
being any part of this process, now suddenly saying they need adult 
supervision as if they are children.
  The DC Criminal Code was about keeping DC safe. It is what the 
prosecutors involved said and what the U.S. Attorney's Office said: We 
need to do this to create a safer city because of the confusion in the 
code and the lack of having criminal penalties at all for certain 
crimes. All of these things opened up opportunities for DC not to have 
the security they wanted. So this was about DC's safety.
  Unfortunately, it is now embroiled in scare tactics, where political, 
opportunistic actions are taking place to try to use this as a way to 
win political points. Even the media, for whom I have tremendous 
respect for its role, has been more keen on asking questions about the 
political analysis than actually the facts of what DC has done.
  What DC has done in this bill is to actually create a tougher element 
on crime, tougher laws on crime. In looking at the totality of this 
bill, it is impossible to say that it isn't about making DC safer and 
having tougher penalties on crime.
  My colleague went through some of this. It actually quadruples the 
maximum penalty for attempted murder, and it triples the maximum 
penalty for sexual assault because people in DC see those as serious 
crimes, and they want to seriously increase the consequences for them.
  DC is pro-police officer, so what did they do? They doubled the 
maximum penalty for misdemeanor assaults on police officers, and they 
increased by 40 percent the maximum penalty for a felony assault on a 
police officer.
  Washington, DC, knows that there is too much gun violence and that 
they need to take action against it, so it quadruples the maximum 
penalty for the possession of assault rifles, for ghost guns, for 
restricted explosive devices. I know the NRA doesn't want laws like 
this, but DC residents do. It doubles the maximum penalties for 
possession of a firearm or a bump stock--tougher laws on guns, more 
serious penalties.
  DC's Criminal Code actually modernizes and creates new categories of 
offenses that aren't currently crimes. It creates new offenses for 
negligent homicide. It creates new offenses for reckless endangerment 
with a firearm. It creates new offenses by expanding liability for 
sexual assault, including for the sexual abuse of a minor. It expands 
liability for the possession of sexual images of children.
  This is a city that came together and said: We want to protect our 
children. We want to protect sexual assault victims. We want to better 
protect our police officers. We want to better protect people from 
murder. But no. This body now, in a rush of politics, is going to 
prevent a city from protecting itself.
  It actually increases the protections for domestic violence victims. 
It criminalizes strangulation as a felony, which is currently very 
difficult to even prosecute. In fact, every State but South Carolina 
has closed this loophole, but this body is going to stop them from 
doing it today. It criminalizes nonconsensual conduct as a felony and 
quadruples the maximum penalty. It helps the victims of domestic 
violence better obtain civil protection orders because the current law 
lacks clarity and makes it very hard to do this.
  Let me say this again. By rejecting this law today, by voting against 
this, people, in the name of being tough on crime, are actually the 
people who are preventing a city from better protecting itself--from 
better protecting its children, its sexual assault victims, its police 
officers. I mean, think about that.
  I have not, in my 10 years in the Senate, seen such a distortion of 
facts, such a misrepresentation of what something is. The RCCA sets new 
maximum penalties for armed carjackings--my friend talked about that--
and their carjacking laws now have a maximum penalty higher than 
Georgia, Kansas, North Dakota, and Kentucky. Maybe we should do a 
unanimous consent request right now saying that Kentucky is too soft on 
crime because DC wants higher maximum penalties.

  It sets new maximum penalties for unarmed carjackings higher than 
Georgia, higher than Iowa, higher than North Dakota, higher than 
Tennessee and Kentucky. The very Senators coming down here to criticize 
laws--Senators from Tennessee I have seen today, from Kentucky, from 
Iowa--actually, their States have lower maximum penalties than what DC 
is trying to do, but they are going to stop DC from doing it.
  Armed robbery, the same thing--higher maximum penalties than North 
Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio.
  The same thing for unarmed robbery--higher than Kansas, higher than 
South Dakota, higher than Tennessee, the sponsor of this bill, and 
  Yes, they may be lowering the maximum penalty, but it is still higher 
than so many States of the Republicans pushing this bill and not 
speaking to the facts of it.
  I am a former big-city mayor, and there are communities like 
Washington, DC, all over this country that are trying to fight crime. 
Many of them have significant numbers of African Americans as a 
percentage of their population who have higher rates of victimization. 
Those cities are grappling with this. They feel a sense of urgency.
  That is why this bill actually is raising penalties, putting in new 
criminal statutes, and making sure that so many of their laws are 
tougher than even many of the red States, like Kentucky and Tennessee 
  That is what happens in a city that has elected representatives that 
know that their No. 1 job is to protect the community because those 
communities often are being more victimized than Senators and their 
families are in their States.
  Give DC what we believe was a revolutionary idea then but not a 
revolutionary idea now, which is to let them protect themselves. Don't 
strip them of their ability to protect themselves. Don't take away 
their ability to protect their children. Don't take away their ability 
to create laws that protect their police officers. Don't take away 
their ability in this law to protect their citizens--700,000 residents 
who do not have a voice in this body, 700,000 residents who are about 
to have a law that will better protect them overturned because of 
politics, because of opportunism, because of the big divisions in our 
country that tear our Nation apart.
  But DC is united in its fight for self-determination, for 
representation, for safety, and security. Those are the ideals that 
started America, and this body shouldn't interrupt a city trying to 
live its American ideals that we take for granted but they, obviously, 
today, are still fighting for.
  I yield the floor, and I give my apologies to the great Senator from 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The senior Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. I thank my colleague, and I thank both of my colleagues 
for their very, very powerful remarks.

[[Page S693]]


                     Nomination of Daniel I. Werfel

  Madam President, the Senate this afternoon is going to vote on the 
nomination of Mr. Danny Werfel to serve as the next Commissioner of the 
Internal Revenue Service.
  I want to say that I believe Mr. Werfel is superbly qualified. He is 
a good-government nominee, and I urge my colleagues strongly to support 
  Mr. Werfel--and this is true of his professional life and at his 
hearing--has made it clear that he is going to make sure that the IRS 
does its job consistent with the law and that transparency will be a 
top priority for his service, which is focused on building trust.
  This means a lot because Mr. Werfel has done that at the IRS before. 
He stepped up when President Obama asked him to serve as Acting 
Commissioner during a very challenging time a decade ago.
  Now, the issues were different then. Danny Werfel came in after the 
public learned that the IRS had used some very sloppy methods of 
monitoring the political activities of tax-exempt groups. In the 
Finance Committee, particularly Chairman Hatch and myself, we did an 
extensive investigation, and we found that both left-leaning and right-
leaning groups were affected.
  While Mr. Werfel served in that acting role, he worked effectively 
with both sides of the Finance Committee. He helped right the ship and 
improve confidence in the IRS.
  The late-Senator Hatch, who was certainly conservative but somebody 
who always valued fairness and professionalism, spoke to me several 
times and to our colleagues about his high regard for Danny Werfel. In 
my view, that is a big reason why Danny Werfel has bipartisan support 
  I have a few comments on the big initiatives he is going to lead when 
he is confirmed.
  After a decade of Republican budget cuts, the Inflation Reduction Act 
finally gave the IRS the resources it needs to go after tax cheating by 
too many of the very wealthy and multinational corporations, and it is 
in a position to improve customer service for everybody else, the vast 
majority of Americans who follow the law.
  I will start with customer service, where the IRS is making 
significant improvements. Let's go back a few years when the IRS was 
able to answer only 11 percent of the phone calls it was receiving. In 
2022, it was 13 percent. This time last year, there was a backlog of 24 
million unresolved tax returns. As of a few days ago, the IRS was 
answering 90 percent of phone calls. It has processed more than 99 
percent of the returns filed so far this season. And the IRS has cut 
the backlog of individual returns by 92 percent.
  Now, they have achieved that by spending about 1 percent of the IRA 
funding. In my view, that is a record that we ought to put a lot of 
focus on because, if it continues, it will be an historic return on 
investment. We expect it to continue. We are counting on Mr. Werfel to 
maintain that progress.
  The long-term initiative is also stepping up the fight against, 
unfortunately, the fact that there are too many of those wealthy tax 
cheats and scofflaw corporations that rip off American taxpayers too 
easily today, and the Republican budget cuts over the years resulted in 
a double standard in tax enforcement. The IRS' ability to go after 
sophisticated wealthy tax cheats, who are employing armies of lawyers 
and accountants, was severely limited for years. The burden of tax 
audits shifted far too heavily onto working people and the middle 
  The reason that was the case is that for working people in Wisconsin 
and Oregon--nurses and firefighters and teachers--the government has 
most of the information about their lives. So it is very 
straightforward, if there is something to question there.
  The wealthy tax cheats use their accountants and the lawyers to pay 
taxes very differently. Billionaires tend, to a great extent, to pay 
little or nothing for years on end because they structure their affairs 
to knock out their annual income.
  Democrats have made clear from the very beginning that this isn't 
about increasing audits of people with incomes under $400,000. In fact, 
we wrote that limitation into the Inflation Reduction Act.
  Republicans struck the language from the bill during the debate. 
Nevertheless, Secretary Yellen has ensured the Congress and everyone 
concerned know that the Treasury will stand by that commitment. The 
plan laying out how the IRA funding will be used is in the works.
  I want to be clear this afternoon because I have been asked about 
this. Colleagues on the Finance Committee, of both political parties, 
are insisting that we get that report on how the funds are going to be 
used--that we get it soon.
  Frankly, that is one of the reasons to support Danny Werfel this 
afternoon, because he is experienced in this deal. He stepped in for 
President Obama. We are convinced that he is going to follow that 
directive and focus on getting us the plan and ensure that the focus is 
on better service and on wealthy tax cheats and multinational 
corporations paying their fair share.
  I think he is going to handle his position in a way that is 
transparent. He made it clear that he would be open to talking to 
Senators on both sides of the aisle and that he will strongly favor 
protections for confidentiality of taxpayer data. That is the kind of 
good-government approach that both sides of the aisle should support.
  This is a highly qualified, highly experienced nominee. He is the 
right choice to lead the IRS. He has earned bipartisan support. A 
number of our colleagues, both in the committee and here on the floor 
on both sides of the aisle, support him. I would just urge my 
colleagues, this afternoon--I think we will vote in a couple of hours--
to strongly support his nomination.

                  Remembering Bill and Dottie Schonely

  Madam President, I want to rise today on behalf of all the people 
that I have the honor to represent to honor the late Bill Schonely, the 
Portland Trail Blazers' radio voice for the better part of three 
decades, and his late wife Dottie.
  Bill passed in January, leaving a timeless legacy for all of us 
Blazer fans in ``Rip City,'' the name that Bill coined for my hometown.
  Dottie passed last month, leaving her own legacy as an accomplished 
woman who radiated smarts and kindness to everybody she met in Oregon.
  Bill and Dottie were the ultimate teammates, as the ``First Couple of 
Rip City.'' So perhaps it is fitting they could not be separated for 
  In fact, when Bill and I spoke last, before his passing in January, 
he made sure to ask me if I was doing my level best to protect Social 
Security. I have kept the message on my phone with his resonating voice 
saying: Ron, what are you doing to protect Social Security and the Gray 
Panthers? I am really concerned about it. And make sure you also do it 
for Dottie as well.
  That will be on my phone forever.
  Like storied broadcasters Johnny Most for the Boston Celtics fans or 
Chick Hearn for Los Angeles Lakers fans, my friend Bill was much more 
than an NBA play-by-play guy for us Trail Blazers fans in Portland and 
throughout Oregon. As the Blazers' first broadcaster, starting with the 
team's inaugural season in 1970--that was a world long before ESPN or 
even before the team's games aired on local TV--Bill became the 
soundtrack for generations of Portland fans. He connected our State's 
first big-league franchise with Oregonians in every nook and cranny of 
  I have logged lots of miles getting around Oregon for 1,040 open-to-
all townhall meetings. In fact, I have got two more scheduled this 
weekend in Jefferson and Deschutes Counties in Central Oregon. But I 
bet Bill covered just as many miles as the Blazers' ambassador in every 
part of Oregon.
  I can't tell you how many times I would show up at a radio station in 
a small Oregon town--you know, there are lots of those kinds of towns 
in Wisconsin--and I would see a photo of Bill there, from back in the 
day, when he was on a local golf course or some local community 
function. And any elected official in Oregon will tell you how 
fortunate we were that Bill Schonely never ran against any of us.
  In addition to coining the phrase ``Rip City,'' which is forever tied 
with my hometown, Bill had an expansive basketball lexicon in his 
unofficial role as professor of basketball English for Blazers fans.
  Unlike me, he had a baritone voice, and he taught all of us how 

[[Page S694]]

``climbed the golden ladder'' and how point guards dribbled ``lickety 
brindle up the middle.'' As a former player myself, I always nodded my 
head in agreement whenever Bill would intone, pausing theatrically with 
each word, ``You've got to make your free throws.''
  So as Rip City prepares to say good-bye to Bill and Dottie at a 
public memorial service in Portland, in which I will be at on Monday 
the 13th, I will close with this:
  Oregon is said to have ``Seven Wonders,'' including Mount Hood and 
Crater Lake. In my scorebook and the scorebooks of Blazer fans, ``The 
Schonz'' and Dottie are our State's ``Eighth Wonder.''
  So today, on behalf of all Oregonians, I extend my condolences to all 
Bill and Dottie's loved ones. I will always remember both with a smile 
and be forever grateful that they leave so many wonderful memories as 
part of their unforgettable legacy for our community.
  On behalf of all Oregonians, today, I close by simply saying: Thank 
you, Bill and Dottie Schonely.
  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. BENNET. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

             Unanimous Consent Request--Executive Calendar

  Mr. BENNET. Madam President, I wanted to come down here because a 
single Senator in this Chamber, a colleague from Alabama, has put a 
blanket hold on every pending nominee and promotion of flag officers at 
the Department of Defense.
  As far as we can tell--and this might be the intention of the Senator 
from Alabama; I don't know whether he knows this or not--there is no 
precedent for what the Senator from Alabama is doing. There is no 
precedent for what he has done. It has never been done, stopping the 
U.S. Senate from taking up promotions for uniformed military officers. 
These are promotions that happen to people as a group. These are flag 
officers at the Department of Defense that we have to ratify here in 
the Senate.
  And we asked the Senate Armed Services--I couldn't believe it when I 
heard it. I couldn't believe it. But we asked the Senate Armed Services 
Committee if this had ever happened in the history of America, the 
history of the Senate; and the answer was, they have no record of that 
ever happening before.
  And it is happening at an incredibly unusual and difficult time in 
the world's history with the biggest land war in Europe since the 
Second World War, China's saber-rattling in the Pacific. We just had an 
hours-long open session of the Intelligence Committee to hear the 
report from the head of the FBI, the head of the CIA, the head of the 
NSA, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. All of these folks 
were coming together to say: This is what the threat looks like. This 
is the global threat that America faces--a geopolitical landscape more 
unsettled than at any point in my lifetime, Madam President.
  My understanding is that the Senator from Alabama has placed this 
unprecedented blanket hold because he objects to the Department of 
Defense's new policies to help our servicemembers access reproductive 
care. And I will have more to say about that in a minute; but I don't 
think I should wait any longer to advance these personnel. We should 
get this done today.
  Therefore, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to 
executive session to consider the following nomination en bloc: 
Calendar Nos. 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52; that the nominations be 
confirmed en bloc; 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 any of the nominations; that the 
President be immediately notified of the Senate's action, and the 
Senate then resume legislative session.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The senior Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. TUBERVILLE. Reserving the right to object.
  The Senator from Colorado may have good intentions, Madam President, 
but he is wrong on the facts.
  I am holding the DOD nominations because the Secretary of Defense is 
trying to push through a massive expansion of taxpayer-subsidized 
abortions without going through this body, without going through 
  Three months ago, I informed Secretary Austin that if he tried to 
turn the DOD into an abortion travel agency, I would place a hold on 
all civilian flag and general officer nominees. Other than a couple of 
calls to my staff to ask whether I was serious, the DOD leadership has 
yet to call me directly and justify this action. In fact, they have not 
explained this decision to Congress despite multiple letters, more than 
a dozen from my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee.
  Secretary Austin's new abortion policy is immoral and, arguably, 
illegal. If he wants to change the law, he needs to go through 
  The DOD refused to answer questions or justify this policy for months 
last year. When they finally answered our questions after another 
nominee hold, the policy was exposed for what it really is: nothing but 
a political charade to appease the left. These holds have no real 
impact on military readiness or operation. The military wasting time 
and resources to coordinate abortion trips hurts readiness, not the 
Senate using regular order to vote on nominees.
  If my colleague cared about military readiness, maybe we would go 
after more of the ridiculous policies that have led to our lowest--our 
lowest--recruiting numbers in decades. But my hold does send a message 
that the Secretary is not--and I repeat--not above the law, and he 
cannot ignore lawmakers who are demanding his organization abide by the 
  I object, and I will continue to object to any nominees as long as 
this illegal new abortion policy is in place. I am holding the military 
accountable. Others are holding our national security hostage by 
forcing their agenda where it doesn't belong.
  Americans want a military focused on a national defense. And that is 
what I am fighting for. For these reasons, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The senior Senator from Colorado.
  Mr. BENNET. Madam President, I appreciate the words of the Senator 
from Alabama and his conviction. I will say he said I am mistaken on 
the facts.
  I think one thing you didn't hear was any dispute at all that this is 
the first time in American history that a U.S. Senator has held up the 
promotion of flag officers--the first time. It is the first time in 
American history that any of the more than 2,000 people that have 
served in this body--but less than 3,000 people--have seen fit to hold 
up the promotions of people at DOD. That is not a fact that is in 
dispute, Madam President, as we sit here today on the floor.
  You know, I have spent a lot of time when I come down to this floor--
and I am on the floor listening to people's speeches, or I am thinking 
about my own--thinking about the history of America. And broadly 
speaking--it has not always been true at every moment or at every 
juncture--but broadly speaking, the American story has been a story of 
expanding freedoms and expanding opportunity for the American people. 
It is the story of one generation after another putting their shoulder 
to the wheel to make our country more democratic, more fair, and more 
  It can be easy, when you are on this floor, to think about those 
victories as ancient history, as old as the marble in this Chamber. But 
it was only 100 years ago, our grandmothers' generation--our 
grandmothers' generation--when women in America didn't have the right 
to vote. That is just 100 years ago. It took 100 years for the people 
that were fighting for women to have the self-evident right to vote to 
vote, and they didn't get it until 100 years after they fought. And it 
was only 100 years ago that they got it.
  It was only when I was born in the middle of the 1960s that we 
attempted, finally--finally--after the Civil War in the United States, 
after Reconstruction and then the redemption that came after that, 
after the Jim Crow

[[Page S695]]

laws and the redlining that had happened in the United States of 
America--it was only after that that we finally tried to secure the 
rights of African-American citizens to vote, a promise that had been 
made after the Civil War was over and never fulfilled. I would argue it 
hasn't been fulfilled to this day.
  By the way, when I was born in 1964--I was at the African American 
Museum the day before I got sworn into this body, this time with my 
family, and I said to one of my nephews--we were walking through the 
slavery exhibit--I said, I was born in 1964, which, to him, admittedly, 
that seemed like ancient history. But the year I was born was just 100 
years since the people in this country still enslaved human beings. 
Just two short lifetimes divided when I was born from when we still 
enslaved human beings.
  It was even more recent in our country's history--just 50 years ago, 
Madam President--before we secured the constitutional right to an 
abortion in Roe v. Wade, putting an end to the days when women in this 
Nation--when our mothers and our grandmothers--were forced into back-
alley abortions in the United States of America, forced to carry 
pregnancies to term, and forced to live without any freedom to chart 
their own course about their lives or their families' lives. That was 
just 50 years ago when the Court in Roe v. Wade said there is a 
constitutional right at stake here; there is a constitutional right 
that we are going to protect here.
  And in all of these cases, in my judgment, our fellow citizens have 
sought to broaden the horizon of freedom and equality in America. And 
our progress has never been in a straight line. The pages here should 
know that. We have always been in a battle. We have always been in a 
battle in this country between the highest ideals that have ever been 
expressed on the page by human hand, the words in the Constitution of 
the United States and the worst impulses in human history--the worst 
impulses in human history--in our case: human slavery and the genocide 
that was perpetrated on the Native American population that was here at 
a time when those incredible words were etched into the Constitution 
that are etched all over the walls of this beautiful building--a 
building, by the way, that itself, I say to the pages that are here, 
was built by enslaved human beings. And we are in that fight today.
  Today, we face a decades-long campaign that stretches back, at least, 
to when Ronald Reagan was elected President. It is a battle that has 
been mostly invisible until recently to the American people, even 
though it has transformed American life. While that campaign had many 
objectives over its 40 or 50 years or so--those four decades--one of 
those objectives was to confirm a majority of Justices on the Supreme 
Court who subscribed to a radical constitutional interpretation called 
originalism, a legal document that was invented in the 1970s.
  My colleague from Louisiana is here today. He is a distinguished 
lawyer. He might disagree with some things that I would say, but I was 
there at the origin of originalism. I was a lawyer trained a decade or 
so after this was something that was perpetrated by the Federalist 
Society and Anthony Scalia and the law-of-economics guys and Mark 
Feldstein and all these folks, as part of what they were trying to do 
with the Reagan revolution. And a huge part of that was originalism. It 
is the most amazing name. It is the most amazing name, I think, in 
political history. I don't think there has been greater branding in the 
history of mankind than ``originalism'' because it makes you think 
immediately: That is what the Founding Fathers must have set. It is 
their original intent, as if that could be divined across the decades, 
across the centuries, or across the ages, as if they even agreed with 
each other.
  You don't have to go to a musical like ``Hamilton'' to see the 
disagreements that these people had with one another. That is the 
beauty of the founding of our Republic, which is to see the 
disagreements that they had with each other and the way they sorted 
through them and the compromises they made as a result of this 
disagreement--some of them, American tragedies that we live with to 
this day.
  But they called it original. I just want the pages to know this and 
the law students that are out there today that might want to dispute 
this to just look up the history. There is a beginning of this. There 
is a beginning of this, and it does not start with John Marshall. It 
does not start with George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, who 
himself--Jefferson would be absolutely shocked to believe that there 
are people in the 21st century who think that we should be dictated to 
by the hand of the 18th century or the 17th century. There should be a 
revolution even less than in every generation.
  If you had told me--I mean, we all knew about originalism when I was 
in law school. We certainly did. I did. We had professors who 
subscribed to it. Certainly, there are political people who subscribe 
to it. But if you had told me when I was in law school that I would 
live to see the day when a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court would 
subscribe to the originalist position of the Federalist Society, I 
would have said: That is not believable. That is preposterous.
  I am not saying there wouldn't be people who wouldn't have 
fundamental constitutional disagreements with me on all kinds of 
things, but the idea that you would have a Court that would say 
originalism is where it is at? But that is what has happened, and it 
has been a 40-year campaign to do it.
  I actually had a moment on the floor of this Senate once when I 
congratulated the leader of the Republican Party for having achieved 
his dream, having achieved his vision. I wasn't congratulating him 
because I agreed with him or that I felt positive about what he had 
done, but he had set out to carry that water, and he did it decade 
after decade after decade.
  I said earlier that this wasn't really noticed by the American 
people, this battle. In many ways, it wasn't until 8 months ago. Eight 
months ago, we saw that majority take its most radical decision yet 
when it overturned Roe v. Wade, stripping the American people of a 
fundamental constitutional right to make their own reproductive 
choices--a right that Justices appointed by Republican and Democratic 
Presidents had upheld for half a century, for 50 years.
  I have a colleague in this Chamber whom I love named Jon Tester, who 
is from Montana. He is a farmer. He is one of the last farmers in this 
place. He said to me--this was even before this happened--he said to 
me: My daughter is having to fight for things her mother never had to 
fight for because her grandmother won these freedoms. Her grandmother 
won these rights, and she won these freedoms and these rights when Roe 
v. Wade was decided half a century ago.
  I read on the way home to Colorado--well, I guess in honesty, I read 
the decision--I am sure my friend from Louisiana read it earlier, too, 
when it got leaked by the Supreme Court somehow--something that should 
have never happened--something that should have never happened. That is 
when I first read Justice Alito's opinion. I had a chance, again, to 
read it on the plane back to Colorado, and I was hoping that it would 
be different because the opinion that I had first read as a draft 
opinion just dripped--dripped--with a cavalier dismissal of the right 
that it had destroyed. And when I reread it on the airplane, that is 
what I saw again.
  Justice Alito's opinion doesn't even have the courage to grapple with 
the fundamental nature of the right it was stripping the American 
people of. It didn't contend with the simplest questions like what it 
would mean for millions of Americans, including for millions of 
American women like my three daughters.
  Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor expressed this in their 
dissent. They wrote:

       [The majority opinion lacked] any serious discussion of how 
     its ruling will affect women. . . . It reveals how little it 
     knows or cares about women's lives or about the suffering its 
     decision will cause.

  That is a quote of the dissent in that opinion.
  Instead of grappling with the consequences of his ruling--which would 
have been, I am sure, painful even for Justice Alito to deal with, just 
as it is for women all over this country and their families to deal 
with the aftermath of this decision every single day since it has been 

[[Page S696]]

Alito essentially wrote that if it wasn't a right in 1868, it is not a 
right today.
  I mean, you have to give him credit. That is originalism, although he 
is not going back to the Constitution; he is going back to the 14th 
Amendment. If it wasn't a right in 1868, it is not a right today.

  We ratified the 14th Amendment in 1868. That is the depth of the 
analysis in that opinion, which, if you were guided only by originalist 
ideology, I suppose that would be what you would say. The dissenting 
Justice pointed out that Justice Alito completely ignored that the men 
who ratified the 14th Amendment in 1868--and all of them, obviously, 
were men--did not perceive women as equals, did not recognize women's 
  Quoting them now in the dissent:

       When the majority says we must read our foundational 
     charter as viewed at the time of ratification . . . it 
     consigns women to second-class citizenship.

  Of course it does. Women had no right to vote. Black Americans had no 
right to vote. The dissent continued:

       Because laws in 1868 deprived women of any control over 
     their bodies, the majority approves States doing so today. 
     Because those laws prevented women from charting the course 
     of their own lives, the majority says States can do the same 

  And that is exactly what we have seen with one State after another 
treating Dobbs as a green light to obliterate access to reproductive 
care for millions of American women and families. Many of us have 
spoken about how the ruling has harmed the privacy, the health, the 
freedom of our fellow Americans, and all of those are important.
  Let me say also, this is a difficult issue in my State. I want the 
Senator from Alabama to know that and everybody to know that. It is a 
difficult issue for all of the families across America. It is difficult 
for anybody who has been through this. And I am certainly not cavalier 
about how difficult this decision is and the fact that different people 
have different points of view, different people have different 
religious perspectives, different people come from different parts of 
the country.
  I thought about these things a lot over the years, and my conclusion 
is that it is best to leave this decision in the hands of a woman and 
her--well, whomever she chooses to consult--her doctor, her family. 
That is my opinion. I respect the opinion of other people who disagree 
about that. I realize that this is a heartfelt decision.
  But there is a reason why people have been out on this floor and 
other places talking about the effect on freedom, the effect on the 
right to privacy, the effect on the health of our fellow citizens 
because it has an unbelievable effect on all of those dimensions.
  But I don't think we have focused nearly enough on how the ruling 
will harm our national security, and that is what brings us here today. 
That is what brings us here today at this unprecedented moment, when a 
Member of this body, for the first time in American history, has said: 
No, I am not going to let a single person go through. I am not going to 
let any of these flag officers go through because I am upset with the 
policy that the DOD has pursued, that the DOD is pursuing a massive 
subsidy on abortion here, the abortion travel agency that the DOD has 
become. And because I don't like that--I am not accepting those 
characterizations of what the DOD is becoming--but because I don't like 
that, I am going to hold hostage the promotion of the flag officers at 
the Department of Defense.
  Over a million men and women serve in our Armed Forces, supported by 
over 700,000 civilians in the Department of Defense. These are 
obviously moms and dads, sons and daughters who volunteer to risk their 
lives to protect ours. But when our men and women in uniform volunteer 
to serve, when they heed the call and they say, ``Sign me up,'' they 
don't get to decide where they serve. When our men and women in uniform 
volunteer to serve, they don't get to decide where they are going to 
serve; the Pentagon decides that. You can't sign up and say: Well, I 
would like to be in Colorado, or, well, I would like to be in Alabama, 
or I would like to be in a State where my reproductive healthcare is 
going to be covered or a State where it is not.
  Before Dobbs was decided, our troops had at least some assurance that 
wherever the Pentagon sent them, they would have minimal access to 
reproductive care as a protected constitutional right. They knew that 
for 50 years--for 50 years, for 50 years--no matter where they served. 
That is no longer true. The Supreme Court stripped that right away, 
again, without even bothering to consider what it would mean for our 
troops based in States with no access to reproductive care. Justice 
Alito doesn't deal with that in his decision.
  After Dobbs, one of the first calls I received was from a woman who 
once served as a senior officer in the Air Force. She immediately 
grasped how Dobbs is going to affect our military readiness. And that 
is what this is about--our military readiness. She understood, as, I 
would say, thousands of women in this country understood, how 
disruptive it is to force women in uniform to travel from their duty 
station to access care, to say nothing of the cost to her privacy when 
every single person in her unit finds out about it, knows about it, 
unlike any other medical procedure that we give people leave for, that 
people can get paid travel for. The privacy issues here are seismic, 
and the military readiness issues as a result are seismic, too.
  Women are the fastest growing part of our military. They are about a 
fifth of our total force and over one-third of our civilian workforce. 
It is not hard to see why they might think twice before enlisting if 
they know they are going to be stationed somewhere that doesn't respect 
their reproductive freedom.
  (Senator MURPHY assumed the Chair.)
  The Senator from Alabama talked about how the DOD is having the worst 
recruiting they have had for generations. She is right. That is true. 
It is hard to see how this is going to help.
  You don't have to take my word for it. A recent study from RAND 
concluded that Dobbs could increase attrition, decrease readiness, and 
hurt national security. And that is after the Pentagon had its worst 
recruiting season, as the Senator from Alabama suggested, since the 
Vietnam war.
  In an attempt to deal with these issues 2 weeks ago, the Pentagon 
announced three new policies, and here is what they were.
  By the way, I apologize to my colleagues who are here because I know 
you are here to give this other speech. I delayed for 24 hours or more, 
so I am going to just continue, and I will beg your forgiveness.
  But these are the three things that have brought the Senate to a 
halt. These are the three things that have created an unprecedented 
objection to flag officers of the Department of Defense being approved 
in the common way that they have been approved in this body for 230 
  The first of these policies authorizes travel allowances for 
servicemembers to access reproductive care if it is unavailable at 
their duty stations. That is important because they may not be able to 
afford to travel, which is why we pay for other procedures, like LASIK 
eye surgery or to remove a bunion, none of which seem to have gotten 
the objection of anybody in this body.
  The second allows servicemembers to take absences without leave to 
access reproductive care. This recognizes, I think, the difficult 
choice a woman has to make in incredibly, profoundly challenging 
circumstances. LASIK surgeries aren't banned in Alabama or Connecticut.
  The last policy extends the time before servicemembers have to tell 
their commanding officers about a pregnancy. It gives them just a 
little bit more time to deal with the shock that can come when somebody 
has an unexpected pregnancy and is trying to make a decision about what 
to do. This says that rather than get you in a position where you might 
find yourself feeling like you can't tell your superior officer the 
truth, this says take a little bit more time so you can think of it.
  That is what these three provisions do, these guidelines do, these 
rules do, about giving the women in uniform the time and the privacy to 
decide if they want to carry a pregnancy to term or not--a decision 
that anybody on this floor, no matter what they think about this, 
surely can understand has become more complicated in the wake of Dobbs.
  So I applaud the Secretary of Defense, Secretary Austin, for taking

[[Page S697]]

these steps to protect our soldiers, our sailors, and our marines. He 
is in a difficult position. It is hard to do because, you know, I don't 
think many people were expecting that this would actually happen, and 
yet it has.
  Instead of welcoming this leadership from the Secretary of Defense, 
some of my Republican colleagues have attacked these proposals. They 
call them--I am now not quoting the Senator from Alabama; I am quoting 
others who have written about this. They have called them 
``disgusting.'' They have called them ``heavy-handed.'' They have 
called them ``disastrous.''
  I could be wrong--I have certainly been wrong before--but I don't 
think the American people would consider it disgusting or disastrous 
that women in uniform don't have to dig into their own paycheck and use 
their limited leave to seek care that is unavailable because of where 
our government required them to deploy. I think fundamental fairness 
would say that is a reasonable reaction to the disruption that has been 
caused by the Supreme Court.
  Now I am quoting the senior Senator from Alabama when I say:

       The Secretary of Defense is following through with his 
     radical plan to facilitate thousands of abortions a year with 
     taxpayer dollars, so I will follow through with my plan to 
     hold all DOD civilian, flag, and general officer nominations 
     that come before the U.S. Senate.

  OK. Let's just hold up here for one second. Thousands. The Senator 
was down here the other day saying this is not a readiness problem 
because it is only 20 abortions that DOD paid for last year. Well, I 
don't know the facts of every one of those abortions. I do know the 
facts of the DOD policy with respect to abortion on paying for it, and 
that is in cases where there has been rape, incest, or the life of the 
mother is at stake. And maybe that is what those 20 were.
  But the Senator from Alabama himself said that what we are talking 
about here in the context of the rule are what he calls thousands and 
thousands of abortions that he is saying are subsidized by DOD because 
the DOD is willing to pay for the travel of women to go from a State 
that has banned abortion to a State that hasn't. I don't see how--how 
could that not be a matter of readiness when you are talking about 
thousands of people?
  The Senator from Alabama said:

       The American people want a military focused on national 
     defense, not facilitating a progressive political agenda.

  I could not agree more--could not agree more--with the Senator from 
Alabama. The American people want a military focused on national 
defense, and for that reason, that is why I find it so hard to imagine 
that the American people would tolerate any Senator holding up critical 
national security personnel to impose their ideology.
  The Senator from Alabama correctly says that abortion is illegal in 
his State. I read the polling data that shows that 55 percent of 
Alabamians actually support a woman's right to choose. But that is 
neither here nor there. In terms of the law in Alabama, the Senator 
from Alabama is right about that--abortion is banned there. In Alabama, 
abortion is banned at any stage of a pregnancy. It has no exceptions 
for rape or for incest.
  Under Alabama law, doctors can face up to 99 years in jail if they 
perform an abortion. Last month, an Alabama State legislator announced 
a bill to treat abortion as murder. The State's attorney general 
suggested using a chemical endangerment law--a law designed to protect 
kids from methamphetamine--to prosecute a woman for taking a pill to 
terminate her pregnancy. That is the law. That is the debate that is 
going on in Alabama.
  I recognize that Alabama has made certain decisions about this issue 
that are different from the ones that Colorado has made. We were the 
first State in America to decriminalize abortion in 1967. That was the 
State of Colorado, a Western State, 5 years before Roe v. Wade was ever 
  In Colorado, we believe these decisions belong between a woman and 
her family and her doctor, and we don't accept that the government 
should impose itself on that private decision. And of course, that is 
not just what I believe; it is not just what Colorado believes; that is 
what the large majority of the American people believe. That is what 
the American people believe.
  I acknowledge that Alabama has made a different choice, but what I 
can't accept is that its Senator would impose that choice on every 
woman and family in our armed services who happened to be stationed in 
his State or any State that doesn't protect access to reproductive 
care, because it is not just Alabama. It is not just Alabama. Eighteen 
States have banned abortion. Nine of them--nine of them--have no 
exceptions for rape or incest.
  Many States have only begun their war on a woman's right to choose. 
Just yesterday in Florida, which is home to 22 military bases--22 
bases, where men and women in the United States who signed up to fight 
or to join our military have no choice about where they serve. Governor 
DeSantis committed just yesterday to sign a 6-week abortion ban. He may 
be unaware--I haven't talked to him about it. I don't know. He might be 
unaware that one in three women doesn't even know that she is pregnant 
until around 6 weeks--or maybe he does know that. I don't know which 
would be worse.
  Texas is posting $10,000 bounties to any resident who successfully 
sues a doctor or nurse for performing an abortion after 6 weeks or even 
someone who just drives their friend or relative or neighbor to have a 
procedure--a procedure that for the last 50 years--until this radical, 
originalist majority came into the Court--for the last 50 years, for 
almost my entire lifetime, has been a constitutionally protected right 
in this country.
  All of us who are in this Chamber can remember how, in the aftermath 
of Dobbs, State legislators all around the country wrote laws 
restricting the freedom of female citizens to travel from States like 
Texas or Alabama that had banned abortions to States like Colorado that 
had ratified a woman's right to choose.
  Now we have Senators here who aren't content to merely deprive 
servicewomen of reproductive care if they are based in a State where 
abortion has been banned; they want to make it even harder to travel to 
another State to avail themselves of that care.
  From the vantage point of my daughters, the nearly 6 million people 
who live in Colorado, and the vast majority of Americans who support a 
woman's right to choose, I think there is a real question here about 
whose position is radical.
  When the military pays for servicemen to travel from one State to 
another if they need LASIK eye surgery or a sinus procedure or to 
remove a bunion on their foot, is it really radical to imagine that 
servicewomen should have the right to travel--to have the price of that 
travel defrayed so they can get reproductive care?
  That is just the debate we are having. That says nothing about why we 
are actually here today, which is the vehicle that the Senator from 
Alabama is using to delay the vote of every pending nominee and 
promotion at the Department of Defense at a moment when we have the 
biggest land war in Europe since the Second World War and China saber-
rattling in the Pacific.
  If you told most Americans that a single Senator in this place was 
delaying every nomination and promotion at the DOD, all for the 
privilege of making it harder for servicewomen to travel for 
reproductive care or take leave for that care or shorten the time a 
woman has to make a choice about her reproductive health before she has 
to tell her commanding officer--and those are the facts of what these 
rules do. If you told Americans that is what was happening on the floor 
of the Senate, I don't think they would believe it. I don't think they 
would accept it. And maybe that is the reason why it has never 
happened. Coloradans wouldn't accept it.
  Like the Senator from Alabama, we in Colorado are honored to host a 
strong military presence in our State, from the U.S. Air Force Academy 
to Fort Carson, to Schriever, to Peterson, and to Buckley and Space 
Command, and we are honored to protect the reproductive care for the 
men and women who protect us.
  In the case of Space Command, we have a live example, I am sad to 
say, of how the Supreme Court's decision could harm our national 
security. I will not go through the whole story today. I will spare the 
Senators from Alabama and Louisiana and everybody else who is here this 
painful and, as I describe it, saddest story I know.

[[Page S698]]

  Here is the essential point: In the waning days of the last 
administration--I think Donald Trump, President Trump, had 9 days 
left--our top generals recommended Colorado as the top choice for Space 
Command's permanent headquarters, but President Trump overruled them 
and said it should go to Alabama. He later went on the radio and said: 
They all were against me. They all said it ought to go to Colorado, but 
I overruled them, and I said it should go to Alabama.
  Now, look, I do not think that is how we should be making basing 
decisions in this Nation. Every single person who has looked at this 
Space Command issue knows what the generals recommended, and they know 
they were overruled by the President of the United States for his own 
political purposes. We need to make these decisions according to the 
national security interests of the United States, not in the political 
interests of a President.
  That is why, over and over, I called on the Biden administration to 
restore integrity to this process and honor the generals' original 
recommendation. They should have made that decision 2 years ago after 
President Trump made this decision, in the last few days of his 
administration, overruling these generals, the experts who know where 
Space Command should be.
  But my specific issue with Space Command has led me to a much broader 
concern as I have studied this issue. In the wake of Dobbs, we 
literally have no policy to account for the harm of moving a base from 
a State that protects access to reproductive care, like Colorado, to a 
State that does not, like Alabama. We are now living in a world where 
the Pentagon makes basing decisions according to criteria like the 
number of parking spaces or the quality of schools or the availability 
of childcare. All of those are relevant decisions, important decisions, 
questions to ask. But one question they are not asking is about basic 
reproductive healthcare in a country where it has been legal, where it 
has been a fundamental constitutional right for the last 50 years, that 
the majority of the American people and the majority of the people in 
Alabama supports.
  They are not asking whether a State prosecutes women who seek an 
abortion or imprisons doctors for 99 years for performing abortions or 
turns residents into bounty hunters against women. It is ridiculous 
that they would be counting parking spaces and not reflecting on what 
this world looks like for the people in our armed services, especially 
women and their families, post Dobbs. I can't agree that the Pentagon 
should care about how much it costs to house a family when it makes 
basing decisions but not whether the family has the freedom to plan its 
  The Supreme Court, because of its ideology, may not have had the 
courage to grapple with the consequences of its ruling on our men and 
women in uniform and on our national security, but that doesn't give us 
the ability or give the Department of Defense reason to shirk its 
responsibility. We have to stand on the side of expanding rights and 
expanding opportunity for Americans, not restricting them.
  So, today, I am calling on the Pentagon to codify the policies it 
announced last month and develop a new framework that accounts for 
access to reproductive care in its basing and its personnel decisions.
  I call upon my colleague from Alabama to lift his holds so the Senate 
can advance these national security personnel, because if our men and 
women in uniform can spend every day defending our freedom, surely, we 
can defend theirs.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. TUBERVILLE. Mr. President, I think we got a little offtrack here.
  In getting back to the objection a little bit, I don't think there is 
anybody here who said it has anything to do with doing away with 
abortion. The Department of Defense has had, for years, a policy about 
abortion in the military. My problem is, they have changed it. And the 
last time I looked, the people who make the laws are not on the Supreme 
Court and not in the Pentagon--it is this place right here. We make the 
laws. They have done abortions for years in the military for rape, 
incest, and harm to the mom--through health. They want to change this 
to where a third party has said thousands and thousands would start 
getting abortions and not just military personnel but also their 
  This is about who is paying for this. The American taxpayers 
shouldn't be told they have to pay for abortions. That is not the way 
it is written. The military should not be paying for abortions. So, as 
we got offtrack there a little bit about what we were talking about, we 
are talking about a new policy based not on facts but on conjecture 
from the Department of Defense that they are going to do it on their 
own without coming through this body.
  Now a little bit about SPACECOM, as the good Senator from Colorado 
brought up.
  You know, it is unfortunate that Members from States that weren't 
really even running for SPACECOM headquarters are trying to tack on 
completely unrelated political issues to a fact-based decision. 
SPACECOM's and the DOD's abortion policies have nothing to do with each 
other. I don't recall abortion being part of the Air Force's selection 
process a couple of years ago when they called me and said: Coach, we 
are going to put SPACECOM in Huntsville, AL. The decision to put 
SPACECOM in Huntsville was based on facts and facts alone and evidence 
of what was best for the military and for our country and our national 
defense. That is the reason they chose it. That decision was then 
reconfirmed by multiple independent studies over the last couple of 
  The DOD's inspector general and the GAO confirmed that Huntsville was 
the No. 1 location for SPACECOM based on things like workforce, 
existing infrastructure, education, and the cost of living. Redstone 
Arsenal in Huntsville is, far and away, the best place for SPACECOM. 
This is not my opinion. It is fact. It is fact from several studies. 
Attempts to change that with progressive talking points are shameful 
and purely political. It is really a shame.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado.
  Mr. BENNET. Mr. President, first of all, I would say, with respect to 
my colleague from Alabama, I appreciate his arguments here.
  He first says that he clearly doesn't have the ability to do this; 
that, somehow, this is up to Congress to pass a law to make sure that 
servicemembers who need to travel for reproductive healthcare have it 
paid for them, not the abortion, by the way, which is what the Senator 
from Alabama said--that is inaccurate--but the travel is his argument.
  The reality is that the DOD, it is clear, can pay for servicemembers' 
travel for LASIK eye surgery, but current law doesn't say that. It can 
pay to have a bunion removed, but current law doesn't say that either. 
All of that has happened without complaint from this body because it 
makes sense that the DOD has the discretion to provide the care it 
believes its servicemembers require. And they are making those 
regulations as part of the law that they have been granted from our 
branch of government to make sure they care for our servicemembers. I 
think that is point 1.
  Point 2, the Senator from Alabama talked about, you know, this being 
about who is paying for abortion. This is not about who is paying for 
abortion. This is about those three changes to the law I mentioned 
earlier. I won't go into them because I know my colleagues are going to 
lose their minds over my staying here. But those are the three things. 
One is travel. One is, you know, being able to take a little bit of a 
longer time to talk to your supervisor, and those kinds of things. So 
it is not about paying for abortions.
  Although, I will say that the Senator from Alabama has another piece 
of legislation that he has introduced that objects not to the DOD but 
to the VA. He says this is radical. The VA has said: We have noticed 
that our policies that allow us to pay for abortion when the life of 
the mother is at stake don't also include exceptions for rape and 
incest, and we are going to add those exceptions for rape and incest. 
The Senator from Alabama has brought that to the floor and said he 
wants to have a vote.
  I want to have a vote on that too. I can't wait to see how every 
single Senator in this Chamber stands on the Senator from Alabama's 
position that

[[Page S699]]

having the VA add cases of rape and incest to the exception to allow it 
to pay for abortion is not somehow abortion-on-demand or abortion--as 
some people say, abortion after people have already had the child but 
is simply adding two things that probably 80 percent of the American 
people agree with.
  On the last point, on Space Command's being decided on the facts, let 
me tell you something. Here are the facts as I understand them: The 
generals said they thought Space Command should stay in Colorado. The 
generals and the Secretary of the Air Force went to the White House 
with the recommendation of Colorado. The President of the United 
States, Donald Trump, overturned that recommendation on their advice. 
He went on the radio--the Rick & Bubba Show, I think it is called--in 
Alabama, where he said: Everybody was for Colorado, and everybody was 
against me on Alabama, but I made the decision to send it to Alabama.
  Those are the facts on Space Command. And it is not off-topic. You 
know, it is not off-topic. That was a political decision that should 
never have been made. If the politics had not entered into that 
decision, the generals would have gotten their way, and Space Command 
would be in Colorado, and we wouldn't be having the conversation we are 
having today because no one in Colorado would be having their abortion 
rights stripped from them and being sent to another State that has 
banned abortion, where doctors can go to jail for 99 years because they 
perform an abortion, where laws that are meant to bring down folks who 
traffic in methamphetamine are being threatened to be used against 
women who use a chemical version of abortion.
  This is not a complaint I have with the Senator from Alabama. This is 
my complaint with the White House. You should have dealt with this 2 
years ago. And now I hope this administration will deal with, in the 
wake of Dobbs, this daily gray area that is tearing at the emotions and 
the well-being of members of our Armed Forces, who don't get to decide 
where they are stationed.
  Alabama can have whatever law it wants. That is not up for me to 
decide. I respect that there are differences in this country, but 
people in this body have a duty and a responsibility to the men and 
women of the armed services, and we have a duty and responsibility to 
fulfill our duty and responsibility, which is not to hold up the 
promotion of flag officers at the Department of Defense because I have 
a position that is different from what others may think. That is what I 
  I yield to the Senator from Louisiana.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I want to thank my colleagues from 
Colorado and Alabama for a very interesting and robust debate, but I 
would like to change the subject slightly.


  Mr. President, Germany and America are dear friends, and friends tell 
each other the truth.
  On the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, German 
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany plans to continue supporting 
Ukraine ``as strongly and as long [as possible and] as necessary.''
  I regret to observe that based on where we are today, that would 
certainly be a change of pace. By all measures, Germany's so-called 
strong support is more lamb than lion. The numbers don't lie. Germany's 
current spending to help Ukraine by share of gross domestic product--if 
you compare the spending of one country to another, it is not fair to 
use raw numbers because some countries are wealthier than others. So if 
you look at the current spending by our friends in Germany to help 
Ukraine, by share of gross domestic product, Germany wouldn't even be 
in the top 10 nations in terms of financial support for Ukraine. And 
those are just the numbers.
  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and the United Kingdom have all 
outspent Germany by share of gross domestic product. Our neighbors in 
Canada have outspent Germany, too, both in raw dollars and by share of 
GDP. And the same is certainly true of the American people. The 
American people have spent roughly double--double--what our friends in 
Germany have spent in Ukraine, fighting for freedom, by share of 
domestic gross product.
  With an entire ocean and most of Europe between America and Ukraine, 
Americans are wondering why the United States and Canada have dug 
deeper to deter Russian aggression than Germany has. That is a fair 
  Germany, as we all know--and I am very proud of them for this--is the 
economic leader of Europe. Germany has the fourth largest economy in 
the world. Germany has the fourth largest economy in the world. But the 
fact is--friends tell friends the truth--that Germany is failing to 
pull its weight in Ukraine. And if we look back on the past year, it is 
very clear that Germany's support of Ukraine has been heavy on words 
and short on action. And I hate to have to say that.
  Somehow, Germany's leadership has lost the urgency it had when Putin 
began his march into Ukraine. At that time, if we think back a year, 
Germany could not have been in a more vulnerable position. The 
Bundeswehr, Germany's armed forces, were dilapidated.
  At the end of the Cold War, Germany had nearly 500,000 soldiers. 
Roughly 3 percent of its spending by GDP was allocated to Germany's 
defense. When Putin invaded Ukraine, Germany's military was roughly 
one-third of that size, about 183,000 soldiers, and spending on defense 
by our friends in Germany had plummeted to 1.3 percent of gross 
domestic product.
  Its airplanes couldn't fly. Its tanks were unusable. Its bloated 
military bureaucracy appeared to be the only thing the German 
Government properly maintained.
  Were it not for the United States of America, Putin would be in 
Paris. But we stepped up, and so did others. God bless them.
  It wasn't just Germany's armed forces that were unprepared for 
Putin's invasion. Germany's energy grid relied on Russian natural gas, 
as we both know, Mr. President. For several decades--this goes back 
many years--Germany became increasingly reliant on Russia's energy. 
Germany appeared to believe, foolishly--``naively,'' maybe, is a better 
word--that its energy trade with Putin would yield friendship. Instead, 
it yielded dependency.
  In this trade, these weren't some cupcakes that friends were 
exchanging as neighbors. What we are talking about here is the very 
security and dependability of the fourth largest economy in the history 
of the world--or, rather, in the current history of the world--and its 
power grid. Germany placed its power grid in Russia's hands, and Putin 
knew that. Putin knew that Germany's energy dependency would make it a 
lot easier for him to march into Ukraine, not harder. Everybody knew 
  Now, with winter coming, I want to give our friends in Germany a lot 
of credit. Germany did have some urgency in correcting its energy. 
Germany built LNG terminals to expand its gas reserves. The United 
States sold energy to our friends in Germany. We were happy to do it.
  Germany expanded its renewable energy efforts. It still has not 
embraced nuclear energy, as I hope it will, but Germany did expand its 
renewable energy efforts. It has now as a goal reaching 80 percent 
renewable by 2030, and that is good.
  But there is just one problem. Even that effort could leave Germany 
exposed to reliance on an adversary because, according to a report from 
the International Energy Agency, China is on track to be responsible 
for 95 percent of the global production of solar panels. China 
currently makes up 80 percent of the world's supply. If it is not 
careful, Germany may realize the new boss is the same as the old boss.
  But that same urgency that our friends in Germany showed to address 
the power grid is nowhere to be found on the military front--nowhere.
  In the wake of Putin's rapid invasion, Chancellor Scholz made big 
promises. He called it a turning point in German history. He said 
defense spending is going to increase to 2 percent. He said he was 
going to create an extra military fund valued at $107 billion. He said 
his military was going to increase by 30,000 women and men by 2025. I 
regret that Germany's urgency seems to have disappeared.
  Military spending has barely nudged above 1.5 percent, still short of 
the 2

[[Page S700]]

percent commitment that Germany made to NATO.
  Germany did purchase 35 American F-35 fighter jets. Do you know when 
they are going to be ready? 2027.
  Experts much smarter than me doubt that Germany will reach its 30,000 
promised new troops by the date that it said it would.
  The truth is--the cold, hard, unvarnished truth--since the invasion 
began, Germany has been slow to provide weapons to Ukraine. Friends 
tell friends the truth. Germany only agreed to send its Leopard 2 tanks 
after weeks of haggling with President Biden, during which Chancellor 
Scholz refused to send the tanks--his own tanks--unless the United 
States also committed to sending its M1 Abrams, after all we had done 
and will continue to do. Even when offering up so little, the German 
Chancellor demanded the United States of America do more.

  One year ago, as Putin's invasion commenced, Chancellor Scholz vowed 
to ``invest much more in the security of our country'' and ``guarantee 
a secure energy supply.''
  On the energy front, Putin turned off the gas, and our friends in 
Germany, demonstrating extraordinary ingenuity, managed to pivot. But 
on the defense front, Germany has failed to show any serious steps to 
grow its military. The fourth largest economy in the world has fallen 
short in its support for Ukraine.
  Promises to recruit more troops, spend more money, and reinvigorate 
its Bundeswehr--they are nice, but those are only words. Germany seems 
to acknowledge that the barbarians are at the gate. I don't know how it 
could be any clearer. So why aren't our friends in Germany willing to 
act? I just don't understand it.
  In every way--in every way--Putin poses a larger threat to Germany 
than he does to the United States. That is saying a lot because Putin 
poses a threat to the United States. But he is a much larger threat to 
our friends in Germany. Yet the United States of America, the people of 
this country, have outspent Germany sevenfold in helping our friends in 
Ukraine. It is not right.
  Mr. President, you and I both know that what you do--not what you 
say, what you do--is what you believe, and everything else is just 
cottage cheese.
  Talk is cheap, and, in this case, it is literally cheaper than 
funding the Bundeswehr. But Germany's natural gas was also cheap, and 
that didn't end very well.
  If Germany wants to be a leader in Europe--and, gosh, I hope they 
do--it needs to lead. That starts with footing the bill for its own 
defense--we are willing to share that burden, but the American people 
can't do it alone--and it starts with helping Ukraine.
  We have wasted a year. It is long past time for our friends in 
Germany to step up and meet the defense promises it made when Putin 
  I end as I began: Germany and America are dear, dear friends, and 
friends tell friends the truth.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.

                     Women's Health Protection Act

  Ms. BALDWIN. Madam President, across the country, people are 
experiencing the ramifications and women are feeling the pain of Roe v. 
Wade being overturned and having lost fundamental rights and freedoms 
  In my home State of Wisconsin, women are living with dire, real-life 
consequences. Two constituents, Erica and Scott, have been trying to 
get pregnant for years--something many Americans can relate to--and, 
finally, they were successful.
  But 13 weeks into her pregnancy, Erica learned the heartbreaking news 
that the fetus had a rare condition that caused the skull not to fully 
develop and the fetus could not survive--an absolute nightmare for 
expecting parents.
  Instead of being able to get immediate care and mourn their loss, 
Erica and Scott had to figure out the logistics of how to get the 
healthcare they needed--an abortion--out of State. Let me say that 
again. Expecting parents learned that they lost the baby they had tried 
years to conceive, and instead of being able to mourn their loss, they 
had to navigate a complicated legal and medical landscape and play 
travel agent.
  They had a challenge even to get somebody on the phone and struggled 
to find an appointment sooner than 2 to 3 weeks out. In the end, Erica 
was forced to stay pregnant for a week with a fetus that she knew could 
not survive.
  She said:

       Every day I was still pregnant was just an ongoing reminder 
     of our loss.

  Sadly, Erica is not alone. One Wisconsin woman bled for more than 10 
days from an incomplete miscarriage after emergency room staff said 
they would not treat her. Another, whose water broke at 17 weeks, was 
sent home without the abortion care she needed, only to return 2 days 
later with a life-threatening infection.
  All of this is because Wisconsinites have really been sent back to 
the year 1849. What do I mean by that? In 1849, Wisconsin's 1-year-old 
legislature banned abortion, making it a felony to provide abortion 
care in almost all circumstances. At the time of the vote, exactly zero 
women were present to debate that misguided law, let alone vote for or 
against it. In fact, it would be 70 years before women even had the 
right to vote.
  Yet, 174 years later, an activist Supreme Court ripped away the 
constitutional rights of millions of Americans, and, last year, this 
abortion ban in Wisconsin that predates the Civil War went back into 
effect, denying hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites the right and 
freedom to control their bodies.
  This archaic law has doctors and medical professionals afraid to 
administer the lifesaving care they are trained to provide for fear 
that they might be prosecuted. In fact, lawyers are now deciding what 
care can and cannot be provided. This law is leaving women with no good 
options and wondering how, in 2023, they could have found themselves in 
a position with fewer rights than their mothers and their grandmothers.
  Women who have the means and the ability can seek care out of State, 
sometimes traveling hundreds of miles and often being forced to take 
off time from work. Some others are being forced to self-administer 
medication abortions without medical supervision. Those who cannot 
afford the cost of travel and lodging, childcare, or time off work--a 
reality for so many Americans, especially women of color and those in 
rural areas--are being forced to carry pregnancies that they did not 
  Wisconsinites are not alone, unfortunately. Across the country, 14 
other States have already implemented near total bans on abortion, 
leaving one in three American women without access to a safe and legal 
  And anti-choice extremists in States across the country are 
continuing their crusade. They are continuing to try to take away 
bodily autonomy by pushing bills that include medically unnecessary 
restrictions that limit access to abortion care. This all flies in the 
face of an overwhelming majority of Americans who support women having 
control over their own bodies and their futures and their families.
  That is why I, alongside a record number of my colleagues, am proud 
to be leading the introduction of the Women's Health Protection Act. 
This legislation would protect the right to perform and access abortion 
care, free from arbitrary waiting periods, biased and scientifically 
inaccurate counseling requirements, mandatory ultrasounds, and absolute 
bans on abortion earlier in pregnancy.
  Our legislation makes sure that the life and health of the mother are 
paramount, just as it was prior to Roe being struck down by the U.S. 
Supreme Court and as the American people overwhelmingly support.
  The Women's Health Protection Act would return the life-altering 
decision to have a baby to women and their doctors, without 
interference from politicians.
  For Wisconsinites like Erica, whose rights and freedoms have been 
stripped away, this bill is not just a political exercise; it is a 
necessary response to a very real crisis.
  Having the freedom to control your healthcare, your body, and your 
future, free from government interference, is a fundamental right, but 
in Wisconsin, it is no longer a reality. It is time to pass the Women's 
Health Protection Act.
  I yield the floor.

[[Page S701]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Cortez Masto). The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Madam President, I rise today, on International 
Women's Day, in support of the Women's Health Protection Act. I would 
like to thank Senator Baldwin for her leadership, from my neighboring 
State of Wisconsin; Senator Blumenthal for his longtime leadership of 
this bill; as well as Senator Murray and so many others, including 
yourself, Madam President, for your work on this. I also wanted to 
mention Erin Chapman, of our Judiciary team, who is here with me, who 
has worked on this as well, and my colleague Tina Smith, who is the 
only Senator to have worked at Planned Parenthood in the U.S. Senate.
  Last year, the Supreme Court issued a ruling shredding nearly five 
decades of precedent protecting a women's right to make her own 
healthcare decisions, against the wishes of 70 to 80 percent of 
Americans who believe this is a decision that should be made between a 
woman, her family, and her doctor.
  In this past year, we heard that majority loud and clear in States 
where access to reproductive healthcare was directly on the ballot. 
From Montana and Michigan to Kentucky and Kansas, voters turned out to 
protect a woman's right to choose. It was almost as if those who 
authored some of these resolutions--like in Kansas--that tried to limit 
a woman's right forgot that women were going to show up and vote; and 
in Kansas they did, in record numbers, right in the middle of the 
  This doesn't come down to red States or blue States or purple States. 
As you know, this is about freedom. As voters across the country have 
made clear, it is unacceptable for women to be left to the mercy of a 
patchwork of State laws governing their ability to access reproductive 
care, leaving them, as Senator Baldwin just pointed out, with fewer 
rights than their moms and grandmas. That is right; my daughter has 
fewer rights right now than her mom and her grandma did.
  And you think about what has been happening. You think about the 
heartbreaking story of that 10-year-old girl in Ohio who had to go to 
Indiana after being a victim of rape and had to go to Indiana just to 
get her healthcare. I remember when that story came out. People, 
including news organizations--some of them said it was a hoax, and then 
they had to go back. They had to go back and apologize to that little 
girl because it wasn't a hoax. It really happened. And those are the 
stories we are, sadly, seeing across the country.
  So what can we do in the face of this threat to women's health and 
freedom? All three branches of government have a responsibility to 
protect people's rights. And if one branch doesn't do its job, then the 
other branch is supposed to step in. That is why we are introducing 
this bill. Congress must act to codify the principles of Roe v. Wade 
into law, and we have the opportunity and the obligation to do that 
with the Women's Health Protection Act.
  We have updated this bill to make clear Congress's intent to restore 
the rights the Supreme Court took away in the Dobbs decision. The bill 
also protects a woman's right to travel to another State to receive 
reproductive healthcare, something that I know you, Madam President, 
have been leading on during this past year.
  All of this comes down to one question, and I will end with this: 
Who--who--should get to make these personal decisions for women: a 
woman herself or politicians?
  I think the answer is clear. I do not think that women making these 
decisions want to see our Republican colleagues in the waiting room. 
That is why I urge every Senator to get behind the majority of 
Americans who support a woman's right to choose and support the Women's 
Health Protection Act.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. WELCH. Madam President, I rise today to express my strong support 
for the Women's Health Protection Act, to restore abortion access to 
women all across our country.
  Now, I first want to address what the Court did in Dobbs, a truly 
astonishing and tragic decision. What the Court did is, for the first 
time, take away a constitutional right--in this case, a right that 
women had enjoyed to make their own decisions about reproductive 
choice, something that the Court had enshrined in Roe v. Wade.
  The whole history of making a more perfect Union in this country has 
been about expanding that we all are created equal, that we all have 
rights under the law that will be protected. And the Supreme Court, in 
the Dobbs decision, reversed that, where the Court played this 
destructive role of taking away the constitutional right that our women 
in this country have enjoyed.
  The reasoning in that case, referred to by Justice Thomas, suggested 
that if there wasn't a right that was enumerated very specifically in 
the Constitution at the time it was written, then that right cannot be 
protected. It really implies, according to that reasoning, that 
interracial marriage could be struck down, that contraception should be 
struck down.
  So the decision that the Court made in Dobbs and the reasoning in 
Dobbs is a real threat to the privacy rights that each and every 
American enjoys to make decisions about their own autonomy.
  We have reacted around the country, with some States stepping up to 
protect abortion rights and other States enacting significant abortion 
restrictions. So what has happened with the Court decision in Dobbs is 
that we have created this immense division. For 50 years, all the women 
in this country had a right to make their decision and respect the 
decision that another woman made. That might be to terminate a 
pregnancy; it might be to take that pregnancy to term. But that was an 
individual decision that the individual woman had to make herself, in 
consultation with whomever it is she chose to consult.
  It created the opportunity for unity and for acceptance by respecting 
the individual nature of that decision and the individual right of that 
person affected to make that decision, not to have a decision made, as 
Senator Klobuchar mentioned, by politicians.
  Now, in Vermont, we voted across the State to constitutionally 
protect the right of a woman to make her own decision. So we enjoy, in 
Vermont, on a bipartisan basis--something that was supported by our 
Republican Governor as well as all our constitutional officers--we have 
protected the right of a woman to choose.
  When I talk to Vermont women, as happy as they are that Vermont 
stepped up to protect their right to make their decision, they believe, 
as I do, that any woman's right should not be based on the ZIP Code 
they live in. It should be universal.
  The Women's Health Protection Act makes it the right of every woman 
in every ZIP Code to make her own personal decision. By the way, that 
creates unity because it is not telling a person what decision they 
should make; it is accepting their right to make the decision and 
respecting the decision they make.
  Now, women have been the leaders in this--and rightly so--because the 
women in this country have been most affected, but men have a very big 
responsibility to stand up in solidarity with our women, who have a 
right to protect their own bodily autonomy and to make their decision.
  What we have seen with this patchwork of laws is not just confusion 
but peril and anxiety. It is peril and anxiety for a woman who may run 
afoul of that State law made by politicians. It has also created 
enormous uncertainty and anxiety for our providers who have to navigate 
whether the decision they have to make about providing a service is 
legal, and whatever decision they make can be challenged by some 
citizen seeking a bounty to hold that person to account for essentially 
stepping forward and providing services to a woman that they are 
entitled to receive.
  So the Women's Health Protection Act is absolutely essential--both to 
protect the individual right of that woman to make her own decision, 
and it is also essential for us to create unity rather than division on 
something that is so essential, so personal, and so important.
  So, along with my colleagues who are speaking on behalf of this 
legislation today, I urge all of our colleagues in the Senate to 
support this bill and protect and preserve the right of women in this 
country to make the decision that they deem best for them.

[[Page S702]]

  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Madam President, I join my colleagues this afternoon 
who come to the floor and speak about the introduction of the Women's 
Health Protection Act and codifying access to reproductive freedom for 
women in America.
  It has been a little over 8 months since a radical Supreme Court 
overturned the 50-year-old landmark ruling guaranteeing the right to 
privacy and the right to obtain an abortion.
  I want to take this time to highlight the impacts that this decision 
has had, not just on our country but even in my State, in the State of 
  We in Washington voted in 1991 to codify abortion as a legal right. 
We did that by a vote of the people. But we still need to worry about 
this issue because the problems that are causing the erosion of 
abortion rights in some parts of the United States are even causing 
hardship in our State.
  Abortion clinics in Washington are facing rising caseloads and rising 
costs. Planned Parenthood in Spokane reported that in January, their 
clinics saw a 75-percent increase in the number of Idaho patients who 
were traveling across the line to get abortions. Physicians are rightly 
concerned that they could be arrested or sued for providing 
reproductive care to patients from abortion-restrictive States.
  Pregnant women have it worst of all. If they go to a reproductive 
clinic for whatever reason, they can face a gauntlet of protesters. 
Yes, there are protesters right outside the Planned Parenthood clinic 
in Spokane. They are trying to set up fake clinics with fake names to 
divert women into their facilities instead of the actual care that they 
  I will note that it wasn't that long ago--just a few years ago--that 
the Planned Parenthood clinic was bombed in Whitman County, just south 
of Spokane. So these issues are a problem.
  We even have had healthcare officials tell us that Washingtonians 
trying to get access to the morning-after pill had to go to four 
different pharmacies, only to find that it was not available. This drug 
has been an FDA-approved drug for decades, but all of a sudden, in 
Washington, it is not available.
  Since this ruling was released last summer, 24 States have enacted 
near-total bans or stringent restrictions on the ability to get an 
abortion. People are still getting pregnant, and they are coming to 
Washington to exercise that opportunity, and we want to make sure we 
have a healthcare system that can deliver.
  You know, employers are starting to avoid these abortion-restrictive 
States. I don't know if someone has thought through this issue. But I 
recently spoke to the cofounder of a very successful aviation company 
that just had one of the best demonstrations of the future of aviation. 
They are building a new facility, and he told me point blank he won't 
even consider locating in a State that doesn't provide reproductive 
freedom. He said he couldn't imagine having to ask an employee, who was 
enjoying that right in the State they live in now, to transfer to a 
State where that freedom was lost. He said it is absurd.
  We know that people are aggressively trying to restrict access to 
abortion. They are aggressively pursuing even more anti-choice 
policies, such as restricting the use of the FDA-approved abortion drug 
even though 5.6 million patients in the United States have used that 
drug successfully since the year 2000.
  It is plain to see that they are not going to stop, and that is why 
we are introducing this legislation and continuing the fight and 
awareness for reproductive health for women in the United States of 
America. We must put an end to these practices by passing the Women's 
Health Protection Act, which would make this a decision left up to 
women and their families and allow the future to be decided by them and 
not the interference of our government.
  Madam President, I know you know--because you have been a law 
enforcement officer in the State you represent--you know the challenges 
of having individuals' privacies protected. This now is up to us to 
make sure we are protecting these rights and protecting women's access 
to reproductive freedom.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Madam President, I am pleased to be on the floor today 
with my colleagues expressing my strong support for protecting women's 
access to basic healthcare and reproductive rights.
  Since the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs, we have seen our worst 
fears realized. A wave of abortion bans have been passed by Republican 
State legislatures and signed by Republican Governors. These bans put 
at risk, as we have heard so eloquently from those who have spoken, the 
health of women across this country.
  We have to look no further than my home State of New Hampshire, where 
our Republican Governor has ensured that women are banned from 
accessing an abortion after 24 weeks. Our doctors face jail time for 
helping women access an abortion. Our family planning providers can't 
make ends meet because elected officials continually block access to 
Federal and State funding that is vital to ensuring that vulnerable 
populations have access to care. That care includes basic reproductive 
education, breast cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted disease 
treatment--all of which are at risk because those family planning 
clinics are in financial difficulty because the Republican legislature 
and the Republican Governor continue to deny them funding.
  Just today, Republican representatives in New Hampshire's State 
Legislature are considering new abortion bans--bans that are so early 
that most women don't even know they are pregnant. These bans don't 
include exceptions even for rape or incest.
  The Women's Health Protection Act ensures that a woman's access to 
care is not unnecessarily restricted by where she lives. I want to 
thank Senators Baldwin and Blumenthal, Senator Murray, and so many 
others who have been such strong supporters over the years for their 
leadership in drafting this legislation.
  I know you know, Madam President, and certainly all women know that 
one of the most important personal decisions a woman faces in her 
lifetime is if and when to start a family. That decision should be made 
by a woman with her family, with her medical provider, and with 
whomever else she wants to include in that decision, but it should not 
be made for her by her State representative, by her Governor, by a 
Member of Congress, by her President, and certainly not by any 
unelected jurist. That decision belongs to a woman and a woman alone. 
It is time for us to restore that right to women all across this 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Madam President, I am proud but I am also saddened 
and angry to be here introducing a measure that should never be 
necessary in the United States of America.
  The Women's Health Protection Act will, yes, offer protection to 
women who need and deserve it, but it is only because of a hideously 
misguided decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that we are here today.
  When I first introduced this measure 10 years ago, the thought of 
overruling Roe v. Wade was unimaginable. It was a figment of fear 
dismissed by realistic scholars and advocates. It was unthinkable. And 
here we are.
  The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down a death sentence to women 
across America. It has overturned 50 years of precedent, which I know 
well because I was a law clerk to the U.S. Supreme Court Justice who 
wrote that opinion in the year afterward.
  We thought then--and so did most people in America--we have dealt 
with this issue, we have disposed of it, and it is done in terms of 
juris prudence. But this measure is now necessary to protect the rights 
of all people to seek the healthcare they need and deserve.
  I will tell you why I believe this measure should be passed. I trust 
women. I trust women to make decisions about their own future. I trust 
women more than I do elected officials or judges or government 
bureaucrats to decide what is right for them individually.
  This measure is necessary to stop all of the bans, prohibitions, and 
medically unnecessary restrictions that

[[Page S703]]

have no purpose except to cut off care and stigmatize women seeking 
healthcare services and the dedicated healthcare providers who serve 
  Now, I have a message to the men of America. This fight is yours, 
too. This isn't a women's issue. This is an American issue. It is a 
family issue. And if you think you are spared the conscience and 
conviction that should require you to stand up and speak out, you are 
wrong. This issue is yours, too.
  We have seen horror stories just in the month since Dobbs. You heard 
one from my colleague Senator Baldwin. I have a similar one--Amanda 
Zurawski in Texas, who sadly learned that her baby would not survive, 
but doctors would not treat her as she might have done in other States. 
They told her to go home. She almost died of sepsis. They brought her 
back to the hospital and rushed her to intensive care.
  Her husband Josh learned that, as a result, they might never have 
children. He said:

       Amanda almost died. That's not pro-life. Amanda will have 
     challenges having more kids. That is not pro-life. He called 
     it ``barbaric.'' That is the Texas law--barbaric, inhuman.

  Protecting access to abortion through the Women's Health Protection 
Act would not only help people like Amanda--women--it would help 
families. It would help countless people who simply choose access to 
abortion care because it is right for them and for their families, for 
other children who are already part of those families. A woman simply 
should not be forced to carry a pregnancy to term because some 
government bureaucrat decides she should.
  There is a kind of dirty little secret here, and that is that Black, 
Latina, indigenous, and other people of color have always faced 
inexcusable inequities in healthcare access and outcomes due to 
longstanding systemic discrimination and racism and oppression. The 
result of it is the practical effect of these abortion restrictions and 
needless requirements fall disproportionately on them and communities 
of color.
  This point is so important because it goes to the heart of the 
Women's Health Protection Act. At its core, this bill is about justice. 
It is about reproductive justice. It was a term that was conceptualized 
in 1994 by a group of Black women who rightfully saw a national need to 
highlight and focus on women, families, and communities. Abortion bans 
and restrictions continue to force women in communities of color who 
don't wish to carry and deny them the care they need and deserve in 
moments when their healthcare is at risk.
  This bill is critical for communities that are disproportionately 
harmed by the bans and medically unnecessary restrictions that the 
Women's Health Protection Act would prohibit. It supports those who 
face the greatest barriers to care.
  I want to, finally, thank in this fight some of the healthcare 
providers, advocates, lawyers, and staff who have been on the frontline 
in these past 10 years--people like Jackie Blank, Sara Outterson, and 
Liz Wagner of the Center for Reproductive Rights; Monica Edwards at 
URGE; Dr. Jamila Perritt at Physicians for Reproductive Choice; Amy 
Williams Navarro at NARAL; Karen Stone and Nina Serrianne at Planned 
Parenthood; Leila Abolfazli at the National Women's Law Center; and so 
many across the country, including, in Connecticut, Amanda Skinner and 
Gretchen Raffa at Planned Parenthood, and Liz Gustafson at NARAL Pro-
Choice Connecticut.
  Make no mistake, this fight will continue. The Women's Health 
Protection Act will pass. It may not be in the next couple of weeks or 
couple of months--maybe not even in this session--but it will pass 
because the conscience of America demands it. That is why referenda 
have won across the country on this issue. That is why voters went to 
the polls and showed with their feet where they stand. And that is why 
we need to fight rulings from the courts, with hard-right Republican 
judges who have declared a war on women.
  As soon as next week, a judge in Texas may rule that mifepristone, 
the most common form of abortion care in this country, is illegal 
despite 20 years of safe, effective use with approval of the FDA of 
that drug. A nationwide ban will affect women in Connecticut if he does 
  We have seen also that Walgreens will not sell or make available 
mifepristone in 21 States whose State attorneys general have threatened 
to sue Walgreens if it makes that drug available. They have succumbed 
to bullying. They said to those attorneys general: OK, women lose; you 
  I urge consumers to vote with their feet and do their business 
elsewhere and show where they stand.
  I am proud to be here with my colleagues to continue this fight for 
the Women's Health Protection Act.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, first, I want to thank Senators Murray, 
Baldwin, Blumenthal, and so many of the others who have spoken on this 
issue. It is so vital to our country, to the women of our country, and 
to all of us in this country.
  For nearly 50 years, Roe v. Wade safeguarded Americans' fundamental 
right to choose. From the moment Roe was decided in 1973, the most 
extreme elements of the Republican Party made it their mission to 
reverse Roe and eliminate the freedom of choice.
  Last summer, tragically, that doomsday scenario became true when the 
MAGA Supreme Court overturned Roe and declared that there was no 
constitutional right to access abortion. Eight months later, the 
consequences of the Court's decision have been severe. One in three 
women has lost abortion access, and over 17 million individuals can no 
longer access the full range of reproductive care.
  The MAGA Supreme Court's decision means our children will grow up in 
a world where they have fewer liberties than previous generations.
  Today, as I mentioned, Senators Baldwin and Blumenthal, along with 
many others of us, are reintroducing a salve to this terrible 
injustice: the Women's Health Protection Act.
  This legislation only dropped this morning, but Senate Democrats 
already have a record number of cosponsors, 49 in total. Let me say 
that again. The legislation only dropped this morning, but Senate 
Democrats already have a record number of cosponsors, 49 in total. This 
is the most united Senate Democrats have ever been on pro-choice 
legislation, while Republicans remain hell-bent on eliminating women's 
  After Americans rejected MAGA Republicans' anti-choice agenda last 
fall, you would think they would have gotten the message, but they have 
not. Today, 14 States have enacted near-total abortion bans. Florida 
Republicans, meanwhile, introduced a bill this week to ban abortions 
after just 6 weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant.
  How can you say the Florida bill is anything but cruel and inhumane?
  And for those who think Republicans' abortion hostility is about 
States' rights, nearly every Republican in the Senate sponsored and 
voted in favor of a nationwide abortion ban. That is what this is all 
about. Republicans, deep down, want to ban abortions for everyone, 

  As bad as all this is, the worst injustice is that those who suffer 
most are often low-income Americans, rural Americans, people of color, 
LGBTQ Americans, particularly the trans community, and especially Black 
Americans. In fact, research shows that States with the harshest 
abortion bans have some of the highest rates of Black maternal death, 
as much as 38 percent higher in States with abortion restrictions. 
There is only one word to describe this: shameful. It is a stain, a 
blot, a blemish on America's soil.
  So passing the Women's Health Protection Act is the right thing to do 
for our country.
  I want to thank all of the Senators who helped lead this bill--the 
women Members of our leadership and all of our women Senators and so 
many others, including Senator Blumenthal, Senator Whitehouse, and many 
more who worked so hard on this legislation. I will work with them to 
push this bill forward.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, I am delighted to follow Leader 
Schumer, for whom this has been such an important issue. I am confident 
that we will gather our caucus together to be as effective as we can.

[[Page S704]]

  Today is International Women's Day, but this year it is shadowed by 
the freedom that women have lost in America to make their own choices 
and to shape their own lives. A radical Supreme Court captured by deep-
pocketed special interests has shredded this constitutional right. It 
is a whole separate story how that happened, how big dark money 
interests went into back rooms at the Federalist Society, handpicked 
Supreme Court Justices, put them on the Court, spent millions and 
millions of dollars orchestrating all of that and putting TV ads on 
behind them--all run through phony front groups--and now instruct them 
what to do through a whole bunch of other phony front groups, also dark 
money funded, that go in as amici curiae and present these arguments in 
orchestrated flotillas to the Court--a separate issue but a very 
unfortunate situation behind this horrible decision.
  What I want to talk about is how hurtful and harmful this is when 
things go wrong. Everybody hopes and prays that their pregnancy will be 
successful and there will be a healthy birth. But it is not uncommon in 
a pregnancy for things to go wrong. And when things go wrong, these 
extreme abortion restrictions put the doctors and the patient into 
impossible and wrong situations.
  We hear about doctors who have postponed care until a patient's 
health or pregnancy complication had deteriorated so much that their 
life was in actual immediate danger.
  You could have predicted it. You could have taken the prudent course, 
but the shadow of these criminal penalties--this assault on women's 
freedom--has made doctors postpone that decision, and it does, in fact, 
put patients' lives at risk.
  There are committees that have been set up to determine whether a 
doctor making a decision about a woman's care should be allowed to 
proceed. You have to go through the hospital committee because of the 
risk of liability. Sometimes these things happen fast and sometimes 
people feel very privately about them. And the idea that this has to go 
to a committee is both a cause for delay and a huge lack of privacy for 
the women and the family involved.
  So in Texas, oncologists have said they wait for pregnant women with 
cancer to get sicker before they treat them. Imagine being on the 
receiving end of that.
  Some doctors have reported that they are unable to get other 
professionals to come and assist them with procedures because the other 
professionals are frightened of liability. And that, too, fouls up the 
ability of the patient to get care--even the forensic nurses who care 
for sexual assault victims.
  So you are battered and you are raped, and the police respond and the 
EMTs respond, and they take you to the emergency room. There are 
forensic nurses who provide specified care for sexual assault victims. 
They do the rape kit. They know how to deal with patients who are still 
very traumatized. And they usually also provide morning after 
contraception, right?
  The woman has been raped. Why would you not do that?
  Now, they are anxious about doing that for fear that it will be 
considered an abortion drug.
  That woman who has been through that experience deserves far better 
than to have politics intrude into her care on that terrible night. It 
is not just me saying this. An emergency physician in Houston who was 
the chair of the board of the American College of Emergency Physicians 

       We're no longer basing our judgment on the clinical needs 
     of the woman, we're basing it on what we understand the legal 
     situation to be.

  The President of the American Medical Association says:

       This is happening every day, all the time in these 
     [freedom-burdened] states.

  He says that ``some others have said that these are incredibly rare 
situations.'' He says: No, that is not true. ``This is happening every 
day, all the time in these states.''
  I had a grim meeting with a group of OB-GYN doctors who practice in 
Rhode Island who are hearing from colleagues in States that have been 
burdened by this freedom being removed from women in those States, that 
their professional colleagues, fellow doctors, are beside themselves at 
the way this has interfered in their practice, particularly at those 
most dangerous time, when a pregnancy is in trouble and the woman needs 
the full attention of the doctor and the care that is determined based 
on her medical needs, not on something that some Republican legislature 
hobbled together.
  So it is really important for us to get together and pass the Women's 
Health Protection Act. I want to thank all those who have shown so much 
leadership getting us to this day.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Ms. HASSAN. Madam President, I rise today to join Senator Baldwin and 
Senator Blumenthal and all of my colleagues who are speaking in support 
of the Women's Health Protection Act. And I want to thank Senator 
Whitehouse for his eloquence just now in describing the real life and 
death consequences of the Dobbs decision.
  I want to thank advocates from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other 
organizations who have been tirelessly pushing for this legislation and 
standing up and speaking out for reproductive freedom. The grave threat 
to the health and freedom of women all across our country makes clear 
that it is more important than ever for Senators, regardless of 
political parties, to come together and support this critical 
legislation. Nothing less than the freedom of American women and the 
future of our democracy itself depends on us doing so.
  For more than two centuries, each successive generation of Americans 
has enjoyed more freedoms than the last. By extending the promise of 
our democracy to all Americans, our country has only become stronger. 
But the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade brought that 
story of progress to an abrupt halt, taking away a fundamental freedom 
from millions of women--a freedom that most have known for their entire 
  Now, when women across the country raised the alarm following the 
Supreme Court's decision, there were those who suggested that we were 
overreacting. They suggested that life for most women would continue as 
it did before. Well, it has become very, very clear that those who 
espoused that view were wrong.
  Since the Supreme Court's decision, legislatures across the country 
have passed abortion bans into law. Just last week, Wyoming's 
Legislature passed a new law which will ban abortion in all trimesters, 
in nearly all cases, and would threaten doctors who perform abortions 
with jail time. Other States have imposed even harsher criminal 
penalties. This has had a chilling effect on women's healthcare 
providers and countless women can no longer access reproductive care 
that they need.
  Partisan politicians who believe women are incapable of making their 
own critical healthcare decisions have made clear that their ultimate 
goal is to ban abortion in all 50 States. In statehouses and here in 
Washington, these partisan politicians have demonstrated that they are 
not only committed to dismantling women's healthcare but that they do 
not believe that women have the capacity or conscience to make their 
own personal decisions.
  Like many of you, in the last 10 months, I have heard from women at 
rallies, in letters, and in quiet conversations who are fearful of 
these attacks on reproductive freedom. The question before this Senate 
is whether or not we believe that we have an obligation to listen to 
their voices, whether or not our government should be accountable to 
the people, including women. What is at stake is the principle that 
American women are free and equal citizens in our democracy and that 
they should be able to chart their own futures. That is why I urge my 
colleagues from both sides of the aisle to join me in supporting the 
Women's Health Protection Act, which would once again protect a woman's 
fundamental freedom in every part of the country.
  We can't stand idly by as women across America have become second-
class citizens. We should stand united in the belief that our daughters 
deserve the same freedoms as everyone else.
  If we want to ensure that our country remains a place where the 
promise of our democracy belongs to all, where our daughters are free 
to make their own choices and reach their fullest potential, where we 
remain a government

[[Page S705]]

by, of, and for the people, then we must listen to American women and 
support the Women's Health Protection Act.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I rise with my colleagues today to 
continue to fight for women in every part of our country to once again 
be able to make their own healthcare decisions because ever since 
Republicans succeeded in their decades-long effort to overturn Roe v. 
Wade and drag our country back a half a century and rip away the right 
to abortion for women across the country, we have heard one horror 
story after another: women left suffering, waiting for the care that 
they need; doctors worried that they could face jail time for doing 
what is best for their patients; abortion providers who are overwhelmed 
by patients who are having to wait weeks for limited appointments and 
travel hundreds of miles for care.
  Republicans have ushered in a crisis. It is a nightmare for women, 
for patients, and for doctors alike. And make no mistake, it is a 
choice extreme Republicans have made.
  They fought for decades to overturn Roe. They passed the dangerous 
abortion bans that are causing this pain for women and families, and 
they are choosing to continue their nonstop efforts to strip women of 
control over their own bodies. Every day, extreme Republican 
politicians come out with some new awful idea to make women's lives 

  Here in Congress, Senate Republicans introduced a national abortion 
ban last year. This Congress, one of the first bills the Republican 
House voted on was a Federal abortion ban. In just the few months since 
Roe was overturned, extreme abortion bans have gone into effect in 14 
of our States, stripping over 20 million women of reproductive age of 
the ability to get abortion care in their own State.
  And, by the way, transgender and nonbinary patients who already face 
so many challenges getting the healthcare they need in this country are 
being harmed by these bans as well. We are talking about truly cruel 
bans that set bounties for information about anyone who gets an 
abortion or helps provide one and bans that even lack exceptions for 
rape or incest or the life and well-being of the mom.
  Republican bans have tripled the average travel time for patients to 
get the abortion care they need since Roe was overturned. And they have 
been especially challenging for communities that already face barriers 
for the care they need: patients with tight budgets who cannot afford 
to pay for travel and lodging hundreds of miles away from where they 
live; Black women who already suffer much higher maternal mortality 
rates; patients in rural and Tribal areas who aren't close to providers 
to begin with; and patients with disabilities, to just name a few.
  Now they are going further, seeking to pass new bans to try to get 
around State court rulings and laws to get around the fact that their 
own constituents backed the right to abortion in statewide votes just 
last year. When extreme Republicans can't convince the American people 
to get on board with their extreme agenda, they have shown that they 
will try to force it on women across the country with threats and 
intimidation and outrageous lawsuits.
  Extreme Republican attorneys general, for example, are suing the 
Biden administration because they told pharmacists they can't 
discriminate against pregnant patients and because they made it clear 
when a woman's life is at stake, doctors are required to provide 
lifesaving abortion care. And, of course, there is the extreme 
Republican lawsuit that seeks to take away an important abortion 
medication for patients nationwide--nationwide--effectively creating a 
nationwide ban on the most common way patients get an abortion. Twenty-
two Republican attorneys general and, by the way, 67 Republicans right 
here in Congress have filed a brief supporting that lawsuit, supporting 
overriding experts at FDA to take a safe, effective abortion medication 
away from women nationwide, to take it away from my constituents in 
Washington State.
  People across the country have already made it crystal clear they 
will not stand for Republicans' extreme agenda. In fact, last November, 
abortion rights won in every single place they were on the ballot--
every single place they were on the ballot.
  Democrats won't stand for Republican attacks either. We are committed 
right here to being a firewall in the Senate against the House 
Republicans' extreme attacks on abortion. We refuse to accept a future 
where our daughters and granddaughters have fewer rights than we did.
  We refuse to accept that any patient's right to control their own 
body depends on a State that they live in or the money in their bank 
account. That is why today Democrats are reintroducing the Women's 
Health Protection Act because the Dobbs decision was not the beginning 
of this fight, and it was not the end--far from it. We have to restore 
Roe for women in every corner of our country, and that is exactly what 
this bill does. It follows the Constitution and nearly half a century 
of precedent and gives patients the right to get an abortion and 
doctors the right to provide that care no matter where they are in 
  Some Republicans want us to just get used to women being forced to 
stay pregnant, no matter their circumstance, no matter what it means 
for their health or their family or their hope for the future. Some 
Republicans are hoping that this will all become normal.
  Well, I have got news for them. Never, never will that happen. We 
will not be quiet. We will not give up. We are going to keep coming 
back as many times as it takes to end this chaos and return control of 
women's bodies to women. I promise, every single time we have to come 
back to this floor to lay bare the horrors of these extreme abortion 
bans they are inflicting on women and patients in this country, we will 
get louder.
  So I urge all my Republican colleagues, start listening to the 
American people, start acknowledging the pain that these abortion bans 
are causing. Let's pass this critical bill to make things right.
  I can't say that I expect them to listen to us, but I can guarantee 
you, if they don't, we will be back.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Madam President, I rise in strong support of the Women's 
Health Protection Act.
  This legislation needs to be a centerpiece in the battle to defend 
privacy rights in America. This is the third week I have stood on the 
Senate floor to talk about this extraordinary assault on privacy and 
bodily independence that is taking place in America, and it started, of 
course, with the horrendous Dobbs decision.
  When that decision came down, Republicans all over America said that 
this was going to be a matter of State's rights. They weren't telling 
the truth to the American people.
  Shortly after the decision, there was a full-court press by 
Republicans at the local level, State level, and, yes, the national 
level to claw back the rights of women and deny access to reproductive 
care. Months after the Dobbs decision, a bill to enact a 6-week 
abortion ban, to ban abortion before most women even know they are 
pregnant, was introduced in this body.
  That was a national ban--every single State--every single State. So 
much for State's rights.
  Anti-abortion activists are not only working Senate Republicans, they 
are working the court system as well. I call it court washing. It goes 
way beyond the issue--and I know we have got an expert lawyer in the 
Chair. It goes way beyond so-called judge shopping that everybody has 
heard about in the past. It is not simply a matter of looking at a 
judge's long record of soundly reasoned opinions and hoping for an 
  Republicans--particularly talking about this Texas case, this one in 
Amarillo, TX. Republicans picked him because he was a lifelong 
rightwing activist who was planted in a district court to deliver the 
decision they wanted, the verdict that they have been scheming to 
deliver. We are talking about banning mifepristone nationwide, a drug 
approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This is something I care 
about deeply because I held the first congressional hearing on the role 
of the FDA, particularly with

[[Page S706]]

mifepristone. It has been safe and effective, and it has been the law 
of the land for years and years. If you throw that out, you take away 
women's independence, and the government puts itself front and center 
in the exam room and in the private decisions about whether and when to 
start a family.

  As women grapple with restrictive State laws that take away their 
right to privacy and threaten their health, they are also facing a 
crisis of digital privacy and--what I call--the threat of uterus 
  We have long been concerned about location data leaching from phone 
apps and how ripe for abuse it is. In States where extremists have 
restricted or banned abortion, the whole issue of women having their 
personal data weaponized against them is now front and center. Shady 
data brokers have already tracked women to and from Planned Parenthood 
health centers and have sold their information, basically, to anybody 
who has got a credit card. In States where abortion is illegal, 
anything women say or read online can be used against them. Researching 
birth control online, updating a period tracking app, or even carrying 
a phone into a doctor's office may become weaponized against you. It 
could be evidence for the prosecution--the most personal and private 
data about women's bodies and their health. Just imagine how much worse 
it could get if more States pass draconian laws or Republicans get 
their nationwide ban.
  That is why we are here to pass this legislation: to ensure that 
every woman in every State is in a position to make private medical 
decisions, where that woman is in the driver's seat with respect to her 
privacy and her independence. To do otherwise is going to keep 
healthcare providers from doing their jobs. To do otherwise is going to 
mean more delaying care for women and more bullying pharmacies out of 
providing medications that are completely legal and FDA-approved.
  These providers ought to be able to do their jobs based on science. 
That is what the FDA decision was all about. It wasn't a political 
decision. It wasn't made here on the floor of the U.S. Senate and 
having people go back and forth about their opinions. It was an FDA 
decision based on science. These policies are common sense, and they 
are popular.
  I am going to close with just a couple of quick points.
  Once women lose the ability to make private healthcare choices about 
their reproductive healthcare, I think we ought to make sure everybody 
understands that there will be women who will die.
  I think we need to understand that what this is about is whether 
freedom is going to mean the same thing for women as it does for men. 
Women do not have the same privacy rights right now. They don't have 
the same freedom. If women are subjected to uterus surveillance, they 
don't have true freedom. If Republican politicians dictate what goes on 
in an exam room, they don't have true freedom. If women can't control 
their own bodies and make their own decisions about when and whether to 
get pregnant, they don't have true freedom. If women are forced to give 
birth--and in some cases, Republicans want to force women to give birth 
even after cases of rape and incest--those women do not have true 
  So if there is one word--one word--that this debate is all about for 
women as to what is at stake, that one word is ``freedom,'' and our 
legislation ensures they will have it. I urge colleagues to support it.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Ossoff). The Senator from Hawaii.
  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, I rise today, on International Women's 
Day, to urge my Republican colleagues to join us in protecting our 
individual rights and freedoms and to support the Women's Health 
Protection Act.
  You have heard from a lot of us on the floor today, and we are going 
to repeat certain things, but these are things that bear repeating 
because this issue of abortion is all about who gets to decide. Is it 
the individual or a bunch of politicians? You can see where I am coming 
from. When the rightwing, ideologically driven Supreme Court overturned 
nearly 50 years of precedent of abolishing an individual's right to get 
an abortion, that was just the beginning. The Dobbs decision opened the 
doors for extremist Republicans who have made clear they will stop at 
nothing to control our bodies.
  It hasn't even been a year since the Supreme Court upended our right 
to bodily autonomy, and, already, abortion is entirely banned in 12 
States, meaning more than 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in 
States where abortion is illegal. There are 21 States that have enacted 
36 bills to restrict or ban abortion; and in 12 States, constitutional 
amendments have been proposed to limit abortion access. Just this week, 
Florida Republicans filed a 6-week abortion ban--6 weeks--which is 
before many women are even aware they are pregnant.
  After the Dobbs decision, the Republicans claimed abortion would be 
dealt with in the States as States' rights. This is what we in Hawaii 
would call a shibai argument. Clearly, abortion has never been about 
States' rights. So their unrelenting efforts to limit bodily autonomy 
is about taking away the very individual rights and freedoms that 
Republicans claim to care so much about.
  Beyond State legislatures, Republicans in the Senate have introduced 
a nationwide abortion ban. Any day now, we are waiting for one 
extremist, Trump-appointed Federal judge in Texas to decide whether to 
institute a nationwide ban on mifepristone, which is the safe and 
effective medication that Americans have relied on for more than 20 
years--for more than two decades--and that accounts for more than half 
of the abortions in our country.
  Regardless of this decision in Texas, after threats from GOP 
Attorneys General from 20--20--conservative States, Walgreens stated 
they would no longer dispense medication abortion pills in numerous 
States, including in States where medical abortion remains legal, 
although they now appear to be walking that back after provoking a 
public outcry. What is next--banning contraception? There are even 
Republican State lawmakers who are introducing bills to allow the death 
penalty--the death penalty--for women who have abortions.
  There is no end to what extremist Republicans will do to control our 
bodies. Whether you live in States like Hawaii, California, or New 
York, or in States where Republican legislatures have already passed 
laws, our freedom is at risk. Our bodily autonomy is at risk. For 
pregnant people across the country, that means their health, and even 
their lives, are at stake.

  Pregnancies carry many risks, and the United States already has the 
highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country. It is 
unbelievable that a country like the United States has the highest 
maternal mortality rate in the world. These risks are even greater for 
women of color, women with disabilities, and transgender and gender 
nonconforming individuals. People will die without access to safe, 
legal abortions. A recent study found, if Republicans institute a 
nationwide abortion ban, maternal deaths will rise by 24 percent across 
the country.
  So, today, I urge my colleagues to stop pandering to the political 
extremism in our country and join us in passing the Women's Health 
Protection Act to codify the right to an abortion in Federal law and 
protect all people across the country.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I am really proud to join today with my 
colleagues to speak on behalf of American women of the fundamental 
rights of all pregnant persons and our freedom to make our own 
healthcare decisions.
  Thanks to a radically conservative Supreme Court, reproductive 
freedom is no longer a constitutional right in the United States for 
any American. Roe v. Wade protected our freedoms for 50 years, until it 
didn't, and now today's young women have fewer freedoms than their 
mothers and their grandmothers ever did. And we are furious. Do you 
want to know how furious?
  In Michigan, we turned our anger into action. In November, we had the 
largest voter turnout for a midterm election ever. One of the measures 
on the ballot enshrined the right to reproductive freedom in our 
State's constitution. It passed by a strong 13-point

[[Page S707]]

margin, because Michiganders understand that health decisions should be 
made by individual people, not by judges and not by politicians.
  Unfortunately, a lot of folks didn't get the message. Republicans in 
Congress have pushed for a nationwide abortion ban. State legislatures 
across the country are making it harder and harder for people in their 
States to receive reproductive care. There are 24 States that have 
already banned abortion or probably will soon, and any day now, a 
Federal judge--one man in Texas--let me repeat that. One man in Texas 
is expected to hand down a ruling that could ban a medication that has 
been used to safely end pregnancies for 23 years. That decision would 
prevent patients from getting the healthcare they need even in States 
where abortion is legal.
  That is why it is so incredibly important that we pass a law that 
says, once and for all, that women in America have the freedom to make 
our own healthcare decisions. That is just what the Women's Health 
Protection Act will do, and I am very proud to join my colleagues in 
introducing this bill.
  It will protect all Americans from State laws that limit access to 
abortion services. Right now, your freedom to make your own healthcare 
decisions depends on the ZIP code you happen to live in, and that is 
simply wrong. Women in Michigan and Mississippi and Montana all deserve 
to make decisions about our own healthcare, our own lives--not extreme 
Republican lawmakers, not extreme members of the Supreme Court, not one 
extreme judge in Texas. It is critical that we pass the Women's Health 
Protection Act now. Our freedom depends on it.
  Let's be clear. We will continue to fight until our reproductive 
freedom as Americans is restored.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.
  Ms. CORTEZ MASTO. Mr. President, I have had the opportunity now to 
listen to all of my colleagues as they rightfully come to the floor 
here to, really, talk about the erosion of women's rights in this 
country by the far-right extreme.
  I have to thank Senators Baldwin and Blumenthal and so many of my 
colleagues--Senator Murray and so many--who have been on the forefront 
of protecting women's rights and freedoms.
  Let's not mistake this. This is about women's freedom. That is what 
this is about. It has been less than a year since the Supreme Court 
overturned Roe v. Wade, and it has been a dark time for women in 
America since then, because, by dismissing 50 years of precedent that 
protected women's freedom, the Supreme Court emboldened far-right 
Republicans to go after women's rights in increasingly extreme ways. 
One of the first things some of these Republican leaders did in 
Congress after the Dobbs decision was to work on legislation to ban 
abortion nationwide. Until they can pass that legislation denying 
States their ability to keep abortion legal, they will continue their 
attacks on reproductive freedoms and make it as difficult as possible 
for women to access essential reproductive healthcare.
  In Texas, Arizona, Wisconsin, and other States with strict abortion 
bans, doctors who provide women with reproductive care could be 
prosecuted, heavily fined, or imprisoned--and in some cases, all three. 
These States have threatened to revoke providers' medical licenses, 
putting their politics over what is best for patient health.
  For women, confusion and fear over abortion bans have led to denied 
access to necessary and potentially lifesaving reproductive care. 
Imagine the distress, the burden these women and their families carry. 
Pregnancy decisions are deeply personal. It is not a legal debate up 
for discussion in the courts.
  We must do everything we can to ensure that women have the tools they 
need so they can decide what is best for their lives, for their health, 
and for their families.
  Since the Court overturned Roe, women have begun traveling, as you 
have heard today, to pro-choice States like Nevada for the abortion 
care they need, but that is not enough because anti-choice policymakers 
are working on ways to take that freedom away. States' rights aren't 
  Their latest attack on women's rights is through a lawsuit to 
restrict nationwide access to the abortion pill, even for women in 
States where medication abortion is one of the few legal options left.
  Extremist Republicans' war on reproductive freedom didn't stop with 
overturning Roe, it didn't stop with punishing doctors, and it won't 
stop with going after medication abortion.
  Let's get one thing clear: For the far right, this is about 
controlling women.
  I trust women, and so do a majority of Americans, including Nevadans. 
Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe women should have the right to 
make their own choices about their reproductive care, and I stand with 
them. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues today to reintroduce 
the Women's Health Protection Act.
  As you have heard, this bill defends women against the extreme 
politicians who are working to strip away those rights, guaranteeing 
that women can seek the vital reproductive care they need without 
having to answer to the government.
  Under this bill, women would see an end to abortion bans and 
burdensome restrictions to accessing abortion. Women would be able to 
get the healthcare they need without being subjected to medically 
unnecessary ultrasounds, excessive waiting periods, and other obstacles 
that far-right politicians have put in their path. Women and their 
families would be able to plan for their futures on their own terms.
  The alternative is to watch a minority of extremists continue to 
strip away women's rights across the country. We must protect a woman's 
right to choose and pass the Women's Health Protection Act.
  I will say one final thing, and I would hope my colleagues on the 
other side would listen to this. We have heard conversations about the 
impact that this issue has had on this past election cycle. I am proof. 
I am back here because not just Democrats but Republicans and 
Independents, nonpartisans in my State, care about this issue. They 
care about the rights of women and their freedom to make this decision, 
and a majority of Americans do as well.
  That is why it is important for all of my colleagues--I don't care 
what aisle you sit in; I don't care what party you are--or you are not 
a party; the goal here is, when we come to this Congress, when we stand 
here together and we try to solve the problems that matter to this 
country, we are listening to the American people, and we are not 
letting a minority determine, and we are not about taking away the 
freedoms and rights of people in this country, including women, and 
turning them into second-class citizens. That is not who we are.
  I invite my colleagues at all times--I don't care where you are, what 
party you stand with, where you are--to stand with women in this 
country. This is such an important issue. Pay attention to the American 
public and what is at stake here. I ask you to support us with the 
Women's Health Protection Act.
  I yield the floor.

                              H.J. Res. 26

  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, the joint resolution we are considering 
tramples on the right of DC citizens to manage their own affairs, plain 
and simple. In fact, it is so intrusive, it provides a compelling 
argument for DC statehood.
  DC statehood is long overdue. There is no justification for the 
denial of rights and representation for the 700,000 citizens of the 
District of Columbia. They deserve to have their voices heard in our 
democracy; they deserve true self-governance and the right to have a 
say in the policies that will affect their lives.
  Our Nation's Capital is home to more than 700,000 fellow Americans 
who, despite our Nation's founding mantra--``no taxation without 
representation''--pay their share of taxes without full voting 
representation in either Chamber of Congress. In fact, despite paying 
more in Federal taxes per capita than citizens of any of the 50 States, 
DC residents have no say in how those taxes are actually spent.
  This isn't a Republican or Democratic issue; it is an American issue 
because the lack of fair representation for DC residents is clearly 
inconsistent with the values on which this country was founded. It is 
therefore incumbent upon all of us who enjoy the right and

[[Page S708]]

the privilege of full voting rights and representation to take up the 
cause of our fellow citizens in the District of Columbia.
  We must use our voices to call out this historic injustice and right 
this wrong.
  DC has more residents than two States, Wyoming and Vermont. It has a 
population comparable to Alaska and Delaware. DC pays more in Federal 
taxes than 23 States. Yet it has no representation here in the Senate. 
Along with my colleagues who make up the informal ``National Capital 
Area'' delegation, I have worked over the years to advance the 
District's interests given its proximity to the two States and 
significant cross-border commuting and business activity.
  Statehood for DC is not about taking away the power and 
representation of residents of other States. This is not and should 
never be interpreted as a zero-sum game. Instead, what we have here is 
a situation that clearly conflicts with our democratic ideals.
  The District includes people of all backgrounds. However unique the 
District might be, its residents are hard-working people who do not 
differ from other Americans in their basic entitlement to 
representation. Taxation without representation is a compelling 
argument for statehood. It should be enough to move Congress to act. 
Instead, we are regressing here.
  Rubbing salt into the wound of this intrusion is the fact that 
proponents of the joint resolution deliberately mischaracterize what 
the Criminal Code revision does, or fails to do. The Revised Criminal 
Code Act of 2022--the RCCA--comprehensively revises DC's Criminal Code, 
which had not been updated since its creation in 1901. We may agree or 
disagree with some of its provisions, but it is a matter that should be 
left to the elected officials of the District.
  Congress has passed joint resolutions disapproving DC legislation on 
three occasions; the last time occurred in 1991. A resolution of 
disapproval has not received a floor vote in either Chamber since 2015.
  In recent years, it appears that our friends across the aisle have 
introduced joint resolutions of disapproval to undermine DC self-
governance as a means for advancing partisan policy narratives around 
controversial topics such as crime, COVID-19 vaccinations, reproductive 
health, and harm reduction programs such as needle exchange.
  Although DC Mayor Muriel Bowser vetoed the council's Criminal Code 
revision--the Council voted 12-1 to override the veto--she also 
indicated her staunch opposition to Congress intervening in the city's 
affairs. I agree with Mayor Bowser.
  The District's Attorney General, Brian L. Schwalb, sent a letter to 
the Senate on February 23, 2023, in which he eloquently stated:

       Ironically, many who have expressed support for overriding 
     these two D.C. local laws have long espoused the virtues of 
     freedom from federal government interference and respect for 
     states' rights . . . I am well aware of the Constitutional 
     power granted to Congress in Article I, Section 8, Clause 17. 
     However, merely because Congress has the power to act does 
     not mean that it should exercise that power. Particularly 
     given Congress' stated intent when passing the Home Rule Act 
     to empower the District ``to the greatest extent possible'' 
     with the responsibility of ``legislating upon essentially 
     local District matters,'' I urge the Senate to reject calls 
     for disapproval of D.C. local laws, and instead, to stand up 
     for democratic values, stand against disenfranchisement, and 
     stand with the residents of our Nation's capital.

  I agree with Attorney General Schwalb. I deeply regret that Congress 
is intervening in the affairs of people who have no representation, 
especially here in the Senate, and I urge my colleagues to defeat this 
misguided measure.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. HAGERTY. Mr. President, the Senate will soon take up my 
resolution to nullify the Revised Criminal Code Act recently passed by 
the DC Council--a measure that becomes more central every day as the 
harrowing reports of lawlessness and deadly violence in our Nation's 
Capital steadily accumulate.
  Carjackings in DC have increased for 5 consecutive years and have 
more than tripled in the past 3 years. For the first time in 20 years, 
DC has experienced back-to-back years with more than 200 homicides. Car 
thefts are up 111 percent this year. It has gotten so bad that the city 
recently announced that it is giving away free steering-wheel locks to 
owners of frequently stolen cars here in the District. Instead, how 
about just enacting laws that stop crime in the first place?
  Sadly, violent crime has become an epidemic in our Nation's Capital, 
where our constituents, Americans from across the country, and people 
from around the world come to live, come to work, and come to visit, 
from schoolchildren to World War II veterans. Yet, unbelievably, 
despite escalating crime and palpable unease from all who visit or live 
in DC, the DC Council recently passed legislation to reduce penalties 
and eliminate minimum sentences for violent criminal offenses, 
including carjackings, robberies, and even homicides.
  DC's crime bill also dramatically expands jury trials in misdemeanor 
cases, which may sound good to a law school classroom but in practice 
will overwhelm the system and force dropped charges and crippling 
delays in countless criminal cases integral to preserving order and 
public safety. The DC crime bill reduces penalties on violent crime in 
the midst of a violent crime wave. It is the opposite of good policy 
and will make the crime wave even worse. It sends the wrong message--
that DC is not serious about fighting crime.
  DC's own police chief recently concluded that one of the main reasons 
for rising crime in the District, especially among youth, is the 
perception among criminals that they will suffer no consequence. Yet 
the council proposes to reduce the consequences even further.
  Make no mistake, this DC crime bill will deliver the wrong results. 
Under these soft-on-crime policies, public safety will deteriorate 
  This is common sense to most people. It should be no surprise, then, 
that Mayor Bowser recently vetoed the DC crime bill just this January. 
She said:

       This bill does not make us safer.

  I couldn't agree more.
  Yet, putting woke ideology over public safety, the DC Council 
overrode the Mayor's veto. That is why I am bringing forth this 
resolution to block the DC crime bill.
  Washington is a Federal district, and the Constitution puts Congress 
in charge of governing it. This makes sense. Countless Americans from 
all over the country visit our Nation's Capital each week to meet with 
their Federal representatives and to enjoy our national history. 
Congress has a constitutional obligation to make sure these visitors 
can walk down the sidewalk or enjoy a meal without fear of becoming 
  This resolution passed with significant bipartisan support in the 
House of Representatives, and I am confident that an even larger 
bipartisan majority of this body will support it tonight. Numerous law 
enforcement groups, including the DC Police Union, are supportive. 
Polling shows that 72 percent of DC residents believe that the DC crime 
bill sends the wrong message.
  A few weeks ago, the White House put out a statement of policy 
opposing my resolution--based on the President's support for DC 
Statehood, I presume--but last week, the President indicated he would, 
in fact, support my resolution. I am glad the President has recognized 
that Congress has a legitimate, constitutional role in reviewing and in 
rejecting DC's harmful legislation.
  To this point, given the now-widespread recognition that this is a 
bad bill, imagine if Congress did not have the authority under the 
Constitution and the DC Home Rule Act to block DC laws. This dangerous 
bill would become law.
  Apparently seeing the writing on the wall this week, the chairman of 
the DC Council cooked up a desperate and legally baseless ploy to ``un-
submit'' the bill to Congress in an attempt to avoid a vote of 
disapproval. But the DC Home Rule Act is clear: There is no valid 
action of this nature. No matter how hard they try, the council cannot 
avoid accountability for passing this disastrous, dangerous, soft-on-
crime bill.
  Violent crime has become an epidemic in America. This resolution is a 
referendum on it. Do you want to decrease jail time for violent 
criminals? Do you want to prioritize the interests of law-abiding 
citizens or the interests of criminals? This will be one of the

[[Page S709]]

only opportunities during this Congress for this body to send a broad 
message on violent crime--a message that may impact the safety and 
security of Americans throughout our Nation.
  I appreciate that many of my colleagues have cosponsored or indicated 
their support for this resolution, and I urge all of my colleagues to 
support it tonight.
  Stopping violent crime should not be a Republican or Democrat 
objective; it should be a commonsense one. I hope the Senate sends that 
message today by adopting this resolution and by sending it to the 
President's desk.
  I yield back all time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, all time is yielded back.
  The joint resolution was ordered to a third reading and was read the 
third time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The joint resolution having been read the 
third time, the question is, Shall the joint resolution pass?
  Mr. HAGERTY. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Delaware (Mr. Carper), 
the Senator from California (Mrs. Feinstein), and the Senator from 
Pennsylvania (Mr. Fetterman) are necessarily absent.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Idaho (Mr. Risch).
  The result was announced--yeas 81, nays 14, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 49 Leg.]


     Cortez Masto
     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)


     Van Hollen

                        ANSWERED ``PRESENT''--1


                             NOT VOTING--4

  The joint resolution (H.J. Res. 26) was passed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Hassan). The Senator from South Dakota.