Skip to main content

Trump Administration
  U.S. Senate Debates Rex Tillerson Nomination  CSPAN  January 31, 2017 6:00pm-8:01pm EST

6:00 pm
permanent legal residents, wondering what it meant for them. there have been media reports that relevant agencies, including the state department, were not consulted before this order was signed by president trump. president trump says we need extreme vetting of refugees fleeing war-torn nations. refugees, the vast majority of whom are women and children, already go through an extremely strict screening process before they are allowed to enter the country. what we really need extreme vetting of is president trump's executive orders before he signs them. with the stroke of a pen,
6:01 pm
president trump's orders will make isis stronger, weaken america's counterterrorism efforts and likely cost lives. it is wrong to turn our back on our american values, and the rest of the world. we are better than this. president trump and republicans in congress should reverse these shameful actions immediately, and i am proud to be cosponsoring legislation that would do just that. and we need to know where rex tillerson stands on these very same issues. does he oppose welcoming refugees into the country which strengthens america's connection
6:02 pm
with freedom, the foundation of who we are as a people? was mr. tillerson consulted by the president before these orders were issued? mr. tillerson owes it to the american people to answer these questions before the senate votes on his confirmation. now what happened the day after president trump issued these executive orders? on saturday, president trump called vladimir putin to discuss a more cozy relationship with russia. what does mr. tillerson think about this call which according to reports was a warm conversation and resulted in preparations for a meeting between president trump and vladimir putin. the same vladimir putin who
6:03 pm
illegally invaded the ukraine and actively seeks to divide and destroy nato, our most important security alliance. the same vladimir putin who is responsible for directing cyberattacks meant to influence and undermine our elections and our democratic process. the same vladimir putin who fights alongside the murderous syrian dictator bashar al-assad and is responsible for war crimes, indiscriminately bombing innocent civilians in aleppo. the same vladimir putin who gave rex tillerson the order of friendship following his business dealings in russia.
6:04 pm
we need a secretary of state who understands the threat posed by nations like russia, not someone who is cozy with vladimir putin. we need a nominee with experience in foreign affairs and foreign policy, not a billionaire oil tycoon who has spent his career fighting to ensure that government policies help the oil industry. rex tillerson is not this nominee. and for all these reasons, i oppose the nomination of rex tillerson to serve as united states secretary of state, and i would urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do the same. mr. president, i yield back.
6:05 pm
mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i would like to address some of the very serious concerns posed by the nomination of rex tillerson for secretary of state along with several of president trump's cabinet nominees. but first i do want to briefly address what unfolded this weekend at airports across the country following president trump's appalling and un-american ban on muslims and refugees from entering the country. with the stroke of a pen, the trump administration caused chaos and heartbreak for
6:06 pm
hundreds of families, many of whom are our friends, our neighbors and our coworkers. on saturday night members of this congress, including myself, were denied answers to even the most basic questions from border enforcement officers, questions that affect the people that we represent. and while i am glad that a federal judge quickly issued a stay and that the department of homeland security has since provided further guidance on the executive order, many questions remain and too many lives hang in balance. i'm going to keep fighting as hard as i can, and i encourage everyone who's listening and watching right now to continue making their voices heard, because president trump is already governing the way he campaigned by dividing our country and pushing extreme policies that hurt families across the country. again, we saw this so clearly
6:07 pm
in the executive orders he signed this past week, but it's also something we have seen in the cabinet nominees he's put forward since his election. as we all remember, president trump said he was going to -- quote -- "drain the swamp." but he seems to think the way to do that is by filling it with even bigger swamp creatures. he said he was going to stand with the working class and fight wall street and big business, but he has nominated a cabinet full of wall street bankers and billionaires and millionaires and friends and insiders and campaign contributors. mr. president, as many of my colleagues have discussed today, one clear example of president trump's broken promise to drain the swamp is the nomination of rex tillerson, c.e.o. of exxonmobil, for secretary of state. this is a nominee who is not only a known friend and business partner to russia, but someone who publicly spoke against
6:08 pm
sanctions on russia after the invasion of the ukraine and crimea. people in my home state of washington have significant concerns about who he plans to work for, and so do i, concerns that mr. tillerson failed to adequately address in his hearing. now i said before, reports of russia meddling in our elections should disturb and outrage every american, democrat, republican, or independent who believes that the integrity of our elections is fundamental to the strength of this democracy. and that is why it is so critical we have a secretary of state who will stand up to protect those values. mr. president, along with rex tillerson, i have serious concerns with the nominees that are going through our senate help committee as well as the vetting process that has taken place. my republican colleagues rushed us into a hearing on president
6:09 pm
trump's nominee for secretary of education, betsy devos, for example. when we started the hearing, the republican chairman, the senior senator from tennessee, preemptively declared he would be limiting questions to just five minutes per member, a shocking and disappointing breach of committee tradition clearly intended to limit public scrutiny. and when the questions began, it quickly became clear why republicans felt the need to protect her. ms. devos refused to rule out slashing investments in or privatizing public schools. she was confused about the need for federal protections for students with disabilities. she argued that guns needed to be allowed in schools across the country to -- quote -- "protect from grizzlies." and even though she was willing to say that president trump's behavior towards women should be considered sexual assault, she would not commit to actually
6:10 pm
enforcing federal law probing women -- protecting women and girls in our school. i would say i was shocked at this candidate's lack of qualifications to serve but at this point, you know what, nothing surprises me when it comes to president trump's new administration. mr. president, as was the case with ms. devos, democrats were also unable to thoroughly question president trump's nominee for health and human services, congressman tom price. now i can understand why republicans wouldn't want congressman tom price to defend his policies which would take health care coverage away from families, voucherize medicare and undermine women's access to reproductive health services. despite president trump's promise to make health care better for patients and even provide -- quote -- "insurance for everybody," but these are issues that families in communities do deserve to hear about, and they also deserve a thorough investigation into serious questions about whether
6:11 pm
congressman price had access to nonpublic information when he made certain medical stock trades while he was in the house. and lastly, mr. president, i have to say i've grown increasingly concerned that president trump's nominee for secretary of labor, andrew puzder. he has made clear he will do what's best for big businesses like his own at the expense of workers and families. he have has spoken out against a strong increase in the minimum wage. he's been one of the most vocal opponents of our efforts to update the rule so that millions more workers can earn their overtime pay. puzder has even talked about replacing workers with robots because they -- quote -- "never take a vacation, never show up late. there's never a slip or fall or an age, sex or race discrimination case."
6:12 pm
that's a quote from puzder. and he has aggressively defended his company's offensive ads leaving women across the country wondering whether he could be trusted in a role that is so critical to women's rights and safety in the workplace. now, all that makes a lot of sense coming from a millionaire c.e.o. who profits off of squeezing his own workers, but it is very concerning coming from a potential secretary of labor, someone who should be standing up for our workers and making sure they get treated fairly rather than mistreated. so, mr. president, now more than ever people across the country want to know how the trump administration will continue to impact their lives. and we democrats consider it our job to stand up when president trump tries to hurt the families that we represent. we are ready to stand with the families we represent to hold him and his administration
6:13 pm
accountable, and we refuse to back down and are prepared to fight back. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to express my strong opposition to president trump's nomination of rex tillerson to be the next secretary of state. there are many, many reasons to oppose this nomination, and my colleague from washington has just listed several of them. but the main reason for me is as simple as it is disturbing. tillerson's extensive and long-standing ties with russia mean that the united states of america simply cannot trust him to be a strong advocate for the interests of our country. here's what's been publicly reported: our intelligence agencies have concluded that the russian government conducted a successful series of
6:14 pm
cyberattacks on the united states designed to help donald trump get elected president. intelligence chiefs have p briefed the president on a dossier alleging that the russian government has collected compromising information on him, and in response the president has attacked the intelligence community. and this week he installed his political crony, stephen bannon, a man with ties to white nationalists, on the national security council while marginalizing the chairman of the joint chief of staffs and director of national intelligence. now, there is significant reason to believe that the president has extensive financial relationships with russia, but nobody actually knows any of the details because he has refused to release his tax returns. and apparently the president's own national security advisor is
6:15 pm
currently under f.b.i. investigation for his own interactions with the russian government. mr. president, this is only the 12th day of the trump presidency, and this is what's going on right now. i wish this are weren't happening. i wish things were normal, but this is not normal and we cannot simply ignore all of it as we evaluate the president's nominees to critical foreign policy and national security jobs. i have heard some people say that rex tillerson doesn't know anything about diplomacy or have any experience with foreign policy. i actually think that's wrong. for the last decade tillerson has served as the ceo of exxonmobile, a massive company that would have roughly the 42 largest economy in the entire
6:16 pm
world if it were its own country. and as the leader of that giant oil company, tillerson was an expert at diplomacy, spaoefbgly how to -- specifically how to advance the interest of his own fabulously wealthy oil company, and himself, no matter the consequences of american foreign policy toward russia. russia has vast oil resources and exxon is one of the world's largest oil companies. getting at that oil is a critical priority for exxon. such a high priority, in fact, that when it came time to pick a new ceo, exxon chose tillerson who spent years managing the company's russia effort. this is not a coincidence. tillerson has worked closely with putin's senior lieutenants.
6:17 pm
in 2003 he received the highest honor. tillerson's russia's projects ran into trouble because after russia invaded ukraine and started illegally annexing territory, europe and the united states slapped sanctions on russia. now, those sanctions made life more difficult for exxon, so tillerson ignored them. he forged ahead, despite the sanctions, signing more agreements with russia, and then he used his army of well-funded lobbyists to undermine our sanctions with russia. when confronted with the fact about this in his confirmation hearing, tillerson first pretended that he didn't know if the company had lobbied at all and then later he said, well, the company simply participated
6:18 pm
in discussions with lawmakers without actually taking a position. he's saying that they paid their lobbyists to show up and just talk generally not to advance what the company wanted. you know, when you hear something that lame, you wonder just how dumb he thinks we are. mr. tillerson has argued that in his job and at exxon he was advocating for the interest of his giant oil company and he understands that being secretary of state is a different job. really? at his hearing tillerson lamented how when sanctions are imposed, quote -- "by their design they are going to harm american businesses." as though the principal question for the secretary of state should be asking when deciding whether to hold russia accountable for hacking our elections or for annexing
6:19 pm
crimea, whether or might it might dent the bottom line for a powerful oil company. and as tillerson really -- has tillerson really separated himself from exxon? tillerson is receiving a massive $180 million golden parachute for becoming secretary of state -- $180 million. it is a special payout that he wouldn't get if he were taking some other job. he's only getting it because he's coming to work for the government. i have opposed these para chutes for many years now and many of us have worked on legislation to make them criminally illegal. many of us, and i have opposed nominees in my own party over them because if your employer offers you $180 million to go to work for the government, that
6:20 pm
looks an awful lot like a bribe for future services. this kind of payment raises questions about whether or not you work for the government, for a multinational oil company, or for both at the same time. america deserves a secretary of state who works for the american people, period. will tillerson help exxon while he's in office? will the law -- welshing the law requires -- well the law requires him to recuse himself from any matters involving this company for how long? for just one year. common sense requires tillerson, who, again, is receiving $180 million as special payment from the company where he has worked his entire adult life -- common sense requires him to recuse himself from all matters involving exxon for the entirety of his time in government.
6:21 pm
but when pressed by my massachusetts colleague, senator markey, tillerson flatly refused to do it. mr. tillerson's views, experiences, relationships, and compromising arrangements with russia aren't my only problem with his nomination -- not by a longshot. mr. tillerson's company has spent years lying about climate change. now, in massachusetts we have laws about consumer fraud, telling people lies about your product, lies that could make a difference about whether or not customers want to buy it. the massachusetts attorney general has been investigating whether exxon deliberately misled people about the impact of climate change on our economy, on our environment, on our health, and on our future. exxon didn't want to answer so they bullied and stolenwalled
6:22 pm
all the way, but it didn't work. in fact, our attorney general won a court ruling earlier this month and exxon is being forced to hand over 40 years worth of internal documents that will show what the company knew about climate change, when they knew it, and whether they lied to their customers, their investors, and the american public. now, tillerson bobbed and we'ved on climate change -- weaved on climate change at his confirmation hearing. i wonder if he is just trying to avoid accidentally saying anything that might help massachusetts finally find out and hold his company accountable for massive fraud. look, that may be okay for a c ceo, but that is not good enough for someone who wants to be our nation's secretary of state.
6:23 pm
climate change is a defining issue of our time and the last thing we should do is hand our foreign policy over to someone who cares more about lining his own pockets than the survival of our planet. i could go on at length about the glaring problems with mr. tillerson's nomination. it is amazing how far we have fallen. to go from john kerry, an accomplished statesman, combat veteran, presidential candidate, long-time public servant, and son of massachusetts, to a billionaire with a golden parachute and no record of public service or putting -- and putting foreign policy interest ahead of corporate interest. ped handing foreign policy over
6:24 pm
to the leader of a giant oil company is not something we do in the united states. it is something vladimir putin would do in russia. drum is building his presidency in the image of vladimir putin, and that's good for russia, but it is a real problem for america. thank you, mr. president. i yield. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i rise to speak in opposition to the confirmation of rex tillerson, the president's nominee to be secretary of state. and i'll tell you why -- two words, vladimir putin. mr. president, rex tillerson's ties to russia have been widely reported. the senator from massachusetts has outlined a number of them
6:25 pm
specifically -- specifically his ties to president putin who awarded him the order of friendship after signing deals with the state-owned oil company rosnef. now isn't the time to cozy up to russia. now is the time to stand up to russian aggression in crimea, in eastern ukraine, and syria. just yesterday we heard reports of another outbreak of fighting between ukrainian forces and russian-backed separatists in war-torn eastern ukraine. all you have to do, mr. president, is speak to a ukrainian and let them tell you, as i met with the former prime minister yesterday, and i will be meeting with a former member
6:26 pm
of their parliament -- let them tell you of what it's like to have the russian army march on your country and take part of it away as they did with crimea and then come in under the disguise of little green men as if they did not have ties to the russian army, and that's going on in eastern ukraine right now. and our own intelligence community has told us that the russian president personally ordered a campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election right here in the u.s. that campaign -- that campaign, a mix of covert russian operations, cyber attacks and cyber operations and prop tpwapbda was
6:27 pm
only -- propaganda was only the latest in a series of efforts to undermine american leadership and democracies around the world. and what's coming next for the elections in europe in the next few months. russia is testing us. mr. president, i am concerned that mr. tillerson cannot stand up to the russian president who i am afraid thinks of himself as the next russian stkpwhra*r. so -- c z ar. as mr. tillerson's past ceo, he lobbied sanctions for -- the very sanctions that we and our allies have put on russia for taking over sovereign territory of another independent country.
6:28 pm
and now it's not clear, as our nation's top diplomat, that mr. tillerson would fight to keep the sanctions in place even as president trump is not considering lifting them and despite the clear evidence of russia's continued aggression. and during his confirmation hearing, mr. tillerson refused to condemn russian and syrian bombings in aleppo as war crimes. a question that was proffered to him by the senator, my colleague who happens to sit in the chair right now. mr. president, i also have serious concerns that mr. tillerson doesn't understand the urgent need to combat
6:29 pm
climate change. you don't have to remind us about climate change in florida. south florida is ground zero of climate change. miami beach is awash at the'ssonnal high -- seasonal high tides as the water washes over the streets, causing miami beach to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to install pump stations, raise the roads, and address all kinds of flooding and saltwater intrusion. other south florida communities have had to move their water well locations further west because of the intrusion of south florida into the fresh water aqu being a aquafer.
6:30 pm
climate change is a daily struggle for our communities along our coast all over america. the state department -- the united states state department is responsible for engaging with other countries to confront both the cause of climate change and the devastating impact of drought, sea level, an sea-level rise -- and sea-level rise and severe weather. and by the way, speaking of sea level rise, this senator convened a meeting of the senate commerce committee in miami beach a couple of years ago. we had testimony from a nasa scientist that measurements, not forecasts, not projections, but
6:31 pm
measurements in the last 40 years of sea level rise in south florida was five to eight inches higher. that is sea level rise. that's why even the department of defense is concerned. climate change has the potential to destabilize nations about bangladesh. it has the potential to drastically reduce potable water supplies and result in crop loss and food shortage and to create climate refugees. we simply cannot play fast and loose with the science that will help save our planet. the top diplomat of our country
6:32 pm
has to confront the reality of climate change today and to work on it immediately. mr. tillerson has not adequately laid out a plan to address that global climate crisis. and so for all the reasons that i have outlined, including many more, mr. president, i will vote no. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
6:33 pm
6:34 pm
6:35 pm
mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you,
6:36 pm
mr. president. as the presiding officer well knows, the secretary of state is one of the most important positions in the president's cabinet. he is the nation's chief diplomat, and he champions american values. he is the symbol, in a sense, the chief voice and advocate around the world of america. and the secretary of state is, in a sense, our representative to the world, embodying and promoting hopefully the best in america to billions of people around the globe, proving to the world yet again that america is exceptional, that we are the greatest country in the history of the world, and that we have a respect for the rule of law for human dignity and rights for all, including the right to live in a safe and free environment.
6:37 pm
past secretaries of state have changed history, averted and navigated wars, brokered peace, championed human rights and fought to make the world a better place. in this time of immense uncertainty, we must demand nothing less of our next secretary of state than he be a great reflection and representative of the united states to the world. the likes of hillary clinton, colin powell, madeleine albright, george marshall, charles evan hughes, all have held this position, to join these titans or even to aspire to their position is no small challenge. we need a candidate who will continue to embody what is right, even in the face of resistance from adversaries and
6:38 pm
foes who do not admire and in fact seek to do harm to our way of life. as exxonmobil c.e.o., the president's nominee, rex tillerson, has worked hard and successfully for his corporation. in fact, he has put that corporation's interests ahead of america's interests. that may have been his job. and i understand that that was his job description. but doing that job well does not qualify him to be our nation's chief diplomat and to assume the mantle of defending our national interests. having worked for four decades for this oil giant without any
6:39 pm
government experience, i am unconvinced that mr. tillerson has shown that he is able to reverse this oil interest mind set and put america's needs before his former employer. i do not have faith that he can rise to the paramount challenge of representing us on the world stage, and i share my colleague's concern -- my colleagues' concern. we have heard numerous of our colleagues express the same view, that his oil interests will harm the progress we have made to protect the environment and slow the impact of climate change. i say that reluctantly because i hope i am wrong. he is likely to be confirmed, but i hope my colleagues think hard and long and join me in
6:40 pm
opposing rex tillerson. and i am hopeful also that a number of his other stances, such as enforcing sanctions that hold our adversaries accountable, notably russia and iran, will change as well. these stances have been troubling. i have little confidence that mr. tillerson will vigorously enforce these sanctions and even less confidence that he will guide president trump to provide the crucial advice our demonstrably rash and ill-advised president needs. i want to point particularly to some of the tactics that exxonmobil used in its litigation against legal challenges that were brought based on climate change information that allegedly was concealed by exxonmobil. these tactics are deeply
6:41 pm
troubling. and i would hope that maybe the toughness of exxonmobil in those tactics would be replicated in the toughness that is brought to bear in enforcement of sanctions against iran and russia. because he has shown a troublesome trend of opposing sanctions that have held iran accountable, sanctions that pushed iran to the table to negotiate the iran nuclear agreement, which has made our world a safer place. across decades and administrations, the senate reached an overwhelmingly bipartisan consensus that the iran regime should be aggressively sanctioned for its covert nuclear and missile program, state sponsorship of terrorism and gross human rights violations. exxonmobil directly and together with other global oil firms and
6:42 pm
through the financing of third party advocacy organizations has persistently sought to stop congress from passing sanctions legislation. exxonmobil has been a board member of u.s.a. engage since its founding in 1997, and from 2003-2007 held the chairmanship of that organization. for two decades, it has actively lobbied congress to oppose iran-related sanction bills, including last year, for at least four such pieces of legislation. and exxonmobil has worked to prevent the authorization and extension of the iran sanctions act, which i am proud to say was renewed for another ten years by congress, becoming law just a few weeks ago, and i was proud to support it, and yet, during mr. tillerson's hearing, he
6:43 pm
denied that exxonmobil ever lobbied against iran sanctions. in the face of facts to the contrary. as ronald reagan said, facts are stubborn things. foreign policy experts and military leadership have explicitly identified russia as a growing threat and a violator of international law. many of us in this body -- in fact, i'd say the majority -- have recognized that fact. yet, mr. tillerson does not seem to treat russia with the same gravity. we need a secretary of state who is going to work with our nato allies and stand up to russia, not give punitive -- putin a pass. and we are all aware of mr. tillerson's inappropriate stance toward relations with a country responsible for assaults on the world order through cyber
6:44 pm
attacks, illegal land grabs and war crimes. we are the victim of a cyber attack by russia, an act of cyberwar. the secretary of state must be somebody who regards that kind of attack as intolerable and unacceptable, and mr. tillerson's affinity for russia is alarming because he adds to the growing list of putin admirers in this administration. and that list, unfortunately, includes the president himself and national security advisor michael flynn. mr. tillerson's opposition to sanctions imposed on russia for its illegal annexation of crimea in 2014 was not the result of national security concerns, but rather because exxonmobil stood to make millions, even billions of dollars from a business deal that corporation had recently
6:45 pm
made with russia to develop its oil and gas interests. what is good for exxonmobil is not necessarily good for the united states of america. these sanctions were put in place because of russia's invasion of ukraine was unacceptable and has now led to at least 10,000 deaths, 20,000 wounded, and 2 million people displaced, hard numbers, hard facts, the result of russian aggression that must be countered. as a member of the armed services committee, i have fought to include in past ndaa's robust funding for crainian security assistance. i am proud to say that this nish was successful and -- this initiative was successful and i
6:46 pm
also urged successfully a provision that terminated u.s. contracts with the russian arms export agency. mr. tillerson made it clear during his nomination hearing that his stance was unchanged. he could not admit that vladimir putin is a war criminal despite these deaths and the torture involved in this aggression and other similar acts or to say that the sanctions against putin's russia are necessary and appropriate. his views are inconsistent with the interests of the united states of america. given this troubling trend and his dodging of questions during his testimony, i cannot confidently say that he will follow the clear direction of congress concerning sanctions
6:47 pm
policy and i will say bluntly and frankly to my colleagues, my particular concern is that sanctions laws contain waivers. those waivers are provided to the president for the rare requirement that such sanctions may be waived when it is in the national interest or national security. this exception must be used exceedingly sparingly and judiciously. sanctions without enforcement are worse than no sanctions at all. they are meaningless and they raise false expectations and my fear is that under mr. tillerson if he's advising president trump, those exemptions and exceptions will swallow the rule. and talking about rules, if
6:48 pm
confirmed, mr. tillerson will be responsible for executing president trump's extremely misguided policy expanding the global gag rule which prevents foreign aid from being provided to global health programs that discuss or provide abortion services. the result will be to obstruct programs that cover everything from h.i.v. prevention to material and child care and epidemic disease responses putting lives at risk. this is just the opposite of what we ought to be doing. it makes the world less safe as does this weekend's executive order that bans refugees and muslims. we need someone willing and able to voice resistance and opposition to policies that flagrantly fly in the face of everything that we've -- that we value, our american values.
6:49 pm
a secretary of state ready to stand up for the most vulnerable people and speak truth to power, even when that power is the president of the united states. the fact is, sadly, that mr. tillerson has never taken strong stances on these issues leaves us getting -- leaving us guessing as to what he will do when and if he's in office. i cannot support anyone to be secretary of state who fails to condemn the suspension of our refugee resettlement program directly under his purview. when we target refugees, we target people who are victims of the same oppressors and tyrants and murderers that we call enemies. refugees are not our enemy. many are fleeing the murderous syrian regime and isil who are
6:50 pm
our enemies, and we are at war with isil and we must win that war, and we are disadvantaged by a policy that excludes refugees on the basis of religion because we alienate our allies who are the source of intelligence and troops on the ground, and we lead to the misimpression, and it is a misimpression, that we are at war against islam or our muslim neighbors when in fact our enemy is violent extremists. these refugees and immigrants see america as a beacon of hope, but they are now receiving the message that whoever they are and however strong their claim to come here, their religion will bar them.
6:51 pm
their religion denies them the right to come to this country. their religion will ban them. mr. tillerson has never denounced this strategy when it does so much to damage our international credibility, our values at home, and our constitution. four judges have stayed the president's executive orders, and my respectful opinion is that the president's orders are in fact illegal. the question is, will he defend career diplomats who have spoken out against these policies? will he take a stand himself against them? will he stand up for american values? one story in particular struck me because it involves my own state of connecticut. last saturday a syrian refugee who settled in milford, connecticut, two years ago,
6:52 pm
anxiously awaited the arrival of his wife and two daughters, ages 5 and 8. he has not seen them since resettling in this country. his family was turned away before they could board a flight to the united states. they were told they were not going to be allowed to enter this country following the president's refugee ban despite having been granted refugee asylum three days before the refugee ban. they would no longer be renighted with mr. -- reunited with mr. kasar. i am hoping the homeland security may be listening, if not at this moment at some point in the future to my entreaty that he do the right thing, that he make their entry possible. because they have gone through all of the necessary screening submitted to all the necessary
6:53 pm
forms yet under the president's executive action, they are denied refuge in the united states based only on their nationality and their religion. mr. kasar's family is now back in jordan without luggage, without clothes and without the new home that they were so close to having. my office as offered assistance to mr. kasar's lawyers and they are willing to help in any way they can, the united states, connecticut in particular, has a proud heritage of aiding refugees who need our help when their own homelands are in turmoil. prusm's egregious act -- president trump's egregious act contradict our values, contradict our constitution, and should be rescinded immediately.
6:54 pm
mr. tillerson, join me in urging president trump to rip up this order. it is the only solution. i am not confident until i hear him say so that he's ready to be the leader we need in the department of state to ensure america's values of acceptance and assistance hold strong an administration that directly challenges these most cher yirked traditions -- cherished traditions and values. our secretary of state must be cleareyed about threats facing our nation both from adversaries abroad and others who would do us harm inside our borders. i regretfully conclude that mr. tillerson has failed to demonstrate that ability to do so and i urge my colleagues to join me in opposing his nomination. mr. president, i yield the floor
6:55 pm
and i subject the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
6:56 pm
6:57 pm
6:58 pm
6:59 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. mr. schatz: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schatz: mr. president, american history has been shaped by united states secretaries of state. secretary dean afterrerson guided the united states through the cold war. secretary madeleine albright proved that diplomacy does not depend on gender and that protecting refugees and human rights are core american principles. secretary henry kissinger laid the groundwork for peace between egypt and israel. and forgive me for using such a recent example, but secretary john kerry helped to bring the international community together to tackle climate change.
7:00 pm
as our nation's top diplomat, the secretary of state is the highest ranking cabinet member and the president's top advisor on u.s. foreign policy. the secretary balances relationships with some 180 countries and is responsible for tens of thousands of americans working at more than 250 posts around the world. in other words, it takes a remarkable knowledge base and skill set to be secretary of state, particularly as the united states takes on a complex and complicated set of issues. at the top of the list is climate change. the global changes that we've seen in the climate are affecting almost every part of the world, from droughts in sub-shasub--- in sub-say heron . we've not seen this rise in
7:01 pm
migrants. they are fleeing war, violence, persecution and instability. globalization and technology has affected economies leaving governments, company, and worker trying to figure out how to keep up with the times without being left behind. a understand terrorism and violent extremism haunt parts of the globe from the middle east to europe and our own borders. the secretary of state has to take on all of these challenges and do it in a way that advances u.s. interests and values. after reviewing his record and his testimony before the senate, umnot satisfied that rex tillerson is the right person to lead the state department. on each of these criteria -- views, knowledge base, and skills -- i have concerns about his nomination at this point in the process. first, i am not satisfied with mr. tillerson's views. there has been a clear consensus among both parties on the
7:02 pm
foundation of united states foreign policy. throughout the confirmation process, however, mr. tillerson indicated that his views did not necessarily align with that consensus. during discussions on international human rights, the hearing record shows that mr. tillerson was vague about oppressive governments, extra judicial killings and the bombings of hospitals. he demured when given the opportunity to rule out a muslim registry, a concept that is an a they ma to -- anahtema to american values. yet most concerning mr. mr. tillerson's views. i don't mean to be the umpteenth person to list the many concerns we have about a country that is not america's ally. for decades there has been bipartisan consensus about u.s. relations with russia, and i am uncomfortable with confirming a secretary of state who does not
7:03 pm
share that bipartisan view. secondly, i am not satisfied that mr. tillerson has the knowledge base to lead united states diplomacy. his vision for the state department seemed to confuse the rules of the department of state and the department of defense. during his confirmation hearing, mr. tillerson responded to a question on the south china sea, but his answer focused on military solutions instead of the long list of diplomatic options which we should first explore, and that is not to say that as a secretary of state can't recommend military solutions. there's slairn long history of a state department doing just that but it should always be as a last resort. it always comes after a long pursuit of peace through diplomacy. finally, i am not satisfied that mr. tillerson will be able to translate the considerable skills that he has from exxonmobil to the state department. his long career at exxon is certainly impressive, but its
7:04 pm
the only -- i.t. the only international job on his resume. let's be clear, the company's record does not at all align with u.s. foreign policy, from accusations related to human rights abuses to exxon's business operations in countries that are not friendly to the united states. i'm not arguing that this makes mr. tillerson a bad person. as the c.e.o. after big company, he had his own imperatives and his own obligations and i understand and respect that. but it is not enough to say that i used t useed to care only abot exxonmobil's interests, but now i only care about the united states' interests. the next leader of the state will need to argue for our values and priorities with friends and adversaries alike. he or she will need to balance business interests with national security and american values. i approach this nomination process with an open mind, but mr. tillerson's confirmation hearing left me with too many doubts about his views, his
7:05 pm
knowledge set, and his abilities. i will be voting no on his nomination. i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
7:06 pm
7:07 pm
7:08 pm
7:09 pm
7:10 pm
7:11 pm
7:12 pm
7:13 pm
7:14 pm
mr. peters: mr. president? the presiding officer: the the senator from michigan. mr. peters: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. peters: mr. president, i rise to express my opposition to the nomination of rex tillerson as secretary of state. the position of secretary of state was one of the original four cabinet positions created by president george washington. even after we declared, fought
7:15 pm
for, and won our independence as a new country, our founders knew that this world is interconnected. they understood that what we needed was to engage with other countries and to manage our affairs all across the world. our first secretary of state, thomas jefferson, had previously been our minister to france, our closest ally at the time of our nation's founding. today the role of secretary of state is as important as ever. we need a secretary who will reassure our allies, project strength and competence around the world and push back against the president's worst impulses. having reviewed his qualifications and testimony before the senate foreign relations committee, i'm unfortunately convinced that mrt person to lead the state department and to represent the united states abroad. mr. tillerson has spent decades at exxonmobil where he rose
7:16 pm
through the ranks from an engineer to chairman and c.e.o. mr. president, we should value hard work and success in the private sector, but we should also ask what the president's nominees were working toward. mr. tillerson's success at exxon in large part can be attributed to deals that he struck and connections that he made with russian plutocrats and gocht officials including -- and government officials. over the years mr. tillerson's views have been toward vladimir putin have been in a word flexible. mr. tillerson has always put exxon first cozying up to putin's authoritarian regime and when it suited his own business interests. in 2008 he spoke out against russian government's disrespect of the rule of law and its judicial system. but in 2011 after reaching a
7:17 pm
$500 billion deal with the russian state owned oil company, he changed his views. under vladimir putin, the russian government silences dissent. they murder political rivals and journalists. many of putin's political opponents have been poisoned or shot. since 2000, at least 34 journalists have been murdered in russia, many by government or military officials. mr. tillerson was awarded russia's order of friendship by putin in 2012, one of the highest honors that russia conveys to foreigners. and when congress was working in a bipartisan manner to enact sanctions on russia for its illegal annexation of crimea in 2014, exxonmobil was lobbying against the bill under the leadership of mr. tillerson. during his confirmation hearing, his answers
7:18 pm
demonstrated either a lack of understanding or a willful ignorance of the destabilizing role russia plays around the world. last year i traveled to ukraine and estonia, countries that are on the front line of russian aggression. they are genuinely concerned about president trump's desire to embrace russia. i heard firsthand how important the support and presence of the united states is to our allies in the baltics. in recent years, russia's belligerence has only grown. russia has conducted a cyber attack against estonia, seized territory in georgia, kidnapped an he is stonean border -- a border guard and illegally annexed crimea. russia approached neighboring territory and have come recklessly close to u.s. military vessels. these irresponsible actions can have severe, dangerous
7:19 pm
consequences. but what should be most disturbing to any american is that the last year russia interfered with our election to undermine public faith in our democratic process. the intelligence community reported that vladimir putin himself ordered the interference, a significant escalation of russian attempts to sow chaos in the west. i recognize the president's right to choose his appointments to the cabinet, but as the senate provides its advice and consent, there are still too many unanswered questions for me to support this nomination. we still have not seen president trump's tax returns, breaking a 40-year tradition adhered to by nominees of both parties. this lack of transparency means that we don't know about the trump family's possible past or current business ties to russia. what message do we send to our
7:20 pm
allies if the secretary of state and potentially even the president have a history of significant business dealings with a corrupt regime? how will this impact our moral authority as a country to take action against corruption worldwide? the secretary of state is the united states ambassador to the world. it is essential that the secretary is someone who can provide unquestioned leadership and represent american values. there must be no question that the secretary of state is acting in the best interest of the united states and is willing to take strong action to advance our interest. he must put the american people first and not his former shareholders and friends in the exxon board room. i am concerned that mr. tillerson will prematurely lift the sanctions that have been put in place against
7:21 pm
russia. sanctions are not meant to be permanent but they should never be removed until they have achieved their purpose. when our secretary of state looks at a map of the baltic region, we need a statesman who sees allies that contribute to nato, not a new opportunity for offshore drilling. the senate must ensure that we are a moderating voice and approval moderating voices in the trump administration. i supported nominations of secretary mattis to lead the department of defense, secretary kelly to lead the department of homeland security and ambassador healy to serve as ambassador to the united nations. i believe they will serve as a positive influence against the worst instincts be and erratic tendencies of president trump and his political advisors. america must stand by its allies and serve as a shining example
7:22 pm
of democracy. i cannot support a secretary of state nominee if there is any doubt as to whether they will be strong, independent voice within the trump administration. the events of the past week have made the need for such leadership abundantly clear. that is why i will vote against the nomination of rex tillerson as secretary of state, and i urge my colleagues to do the same. mr. president, i yield the floor. or i urge a quorum call. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
7:23 pm
7:24 pm
7:25 pm
7:26 pm
7:27 pm
7:28 pm
7:29 pm
7:30 pm
quorum call:
7:31 pm
7:32 pm
7:33 pm
7:34 pm
7:35 pm
ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i rise today -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: i rise today to talk a bit about the secretary of state nominee as well as
7:36 pm
president trump's recent executive order on refugees. i believe that we need a secretary of state who will clearly stand up to russian aggression. i'm concerned about the nominees' -- nominee's past statements and his relationship with russia, and i am not going to be voting for him. i am -- if he is confirmed, i hope that we can work with him and some of his newer statements have been positive on taking that on as well as some of the many issues confronting our world. the reason that i'm so focused on russia is, first of all, we have a significant ukrainian population in minnesota. we're very proud of them. and also i was recently in ukraine and georgia as well as lithuania, latvia and estonia with senators mccain and graham, and i saw firsthand the meaning of russian aggression on
7:37 pm
a daily basis. in these countries, the cyber attack is not a new movie. they have seen it many times before. it is a rerun. in estonia in 2007, they had the audacity to move a bronze statue of a russian fight frer a town square where there had been some protests to a cemetery, and what did they get for that? well, they got their internet service shut down, and that's what they did. in lithuania, they decided, something you could imagine happening in our own country, that on the 25th anniversary of the celebration of the intelligence of their country, they invited as an act of solidarity the members of ukrainian parliament who were in exile in kiev from crimea which had been illegally annexed from russia, and they invited to meet with them and celebrate in lithuania. what happened to them?
7:38 pm
again, cyber attacks on members of parliament. this is not just about one political candidate. what we saw in the last election in the united states where now 17 intelligence agencies have collectively said that there was an infringement that there was an attempt to influence our elections in america, and it's not just about one candidate, it's not just about one political party, as senator rubio has so eloquently noted. it is really not even just about one country. it is an assault on democracies across the world. and i think that we need to take this very seriously, not just from an intelligence standpoint but also from a foreign relations standpoint. that is why i introduced the bill with senator feinstein, cardin, leahy and carper to create an independent and nonpartisan commission to uncover all the facts. it is also why we have a sanctions bill which is nonpartisan led by senator mccain and senator cardin.
7:39 pm
what we do matters, and i think you see that not only with regard to our relations with those countries in the baltics but also with what we have seen in just the past few days because of this executive order. i hope that having a secretary of state in place would help as well as more involvement from other agencies, so something like this would never happen again. as a former prosecutor, i have long advocated for thorough vetting. i have supported strong national security measures. i believe that the number-one purpose of government is to keep people safe. but i don't believe that is what this executive order did. in fact, it created chaos. i'm on the bill to reverse and rescind this order. i hope that the administration -- i know they have taken some steps to respond to all of the problems that havy
7:40 pm
state in this nation, but what really happened was with the stroke of a pen, the administration excluded entire populations from seeking refuge. and i do think that it's gotten a bit forgotten, that it is not just the seven or so countries that were identified by the administration. the refugee program has been stopped all over the world, and on sunday, i met, along with senator franklin, with a number of our refugee populations. to give you some background, we have the biggest population of somalis in the nation in minnesota, and we are proud of our somali population. we have the second biggest hmong population. we have the biggest liberian population. we have the biggest arromo population. we have the population from
7:41 pm
burma. these are all legal workers. they come over as refugees. they are legal when they come over. many of them get green cards. many go on to become citizens. we have people who are on work visas, people who are on student visas. and the faces that i saw and the people that i met, these were their stories. an engineer from 3-m who doesn't think he can go back to visit his father. a marine, a former marine from one of the affected countries who doesn't believe his brother can now come in and visit him. two little girls in bright pink jackets who stood with us because they had waited for years for the arrival of their sister. the mother, a somali woman within a refugee camp in uganda. and she was pregnant, and she finally had gotten her papers to be able to come to america, get out of the refugee camp with her two children, but because she was pregnant when the papers
7:42 pm
came through, she wasn't able to apply for what would be her third child. the baby was born, and she had a sophie's choice. was she going to stay in the refugee camp with the two older girls, or was she going to bring them to safety in america, in minnesota, with so many friends and relatives that she knew and then having to leave the baby behind? she decided to leave the baby with friends at that refugee camp, and for four years, she worked to get that baby to minnesota. and she got it done. and that baby was supposed to get on a plane and come to minnesota this week, courtesy of lutheran social services in minnesota that had worked with the family. right now, the latest news our office has had, that's not happening. why? this 4-year-old is not a green card holder. this 4-year-old have a refugee,
7:43 pm
a refugee that's coming to finally be with her mom and her sisters. and to explain to a -- what looked like about an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old why this is happening is really there's no words to explain why it is happening. i truly appreciated that some of our republican colleagues joined the chorus to say that the vetting rule had not been vetted. many of them pointed to the implementation problems with this rule, and others such as senator mccain and senator graham also talked about the fact that this was simply a self-inflicted wound in our fight against terrorism. and we've heard much of that, i know, from my colleagues about what this means to moderates that we are attempting to work with in these muslim nations, as well as our allies all across the world. so i think i leave you with this, mr. president. this is about our economy.
7:44 pm
i remind our friends and i know i see senator rubio here who understands the economic value of immigration, that over 70 of the fortune 500 companies in america are led by immigrants, including in my state 3m, best buy, mosaic. that 25% of our u.s. nobel laureates were born in other countries. that at one point i had to figure that 200 of our fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or kids of immigrants. that's our economy. there is the moral argument best reflected in the story i just told of those two little girls in their bright pink jackets in the middle of a minnesota winter. but then there is also the security argument. so we plead with the administration to reverse this rule, to rescind it. certainly we can work on more vetting measures. as we know, the refugee vetting already takes 18 months, two
7:45 pm
years, three years. more work with biometrics. but there is no reason to do this on the backs of people that have followed the rules, that have followed the regulations and have done what's right and simply want to be part of our country, or in most cases are already part of our country. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. rube mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: mr. president, we are here in the senate debating tonight what i believe is the most important cabinet position that the president has to nominate, the secretary of state. it comes at an important moment in american foreign policy history. there's so much uncertainty and debate about our role in the world these days. a lot of our allies have questions. our adversaries are obviously watching very closely. i hope that all of us, and i mean from the executive branch to the congress, recognize that as people around the world are
7:46 pm
as people around the world are television, they see an america that is deeply divided and fractured right now. i think this needs to be a moment of restraint, both in action and in word. as we work through our differences. these vibrant debates are important to our system of government. it's one of the reasons that led me to ultimately support the nomination of mr. tillerson. i believe that despite some of the concerns that i had and have about his answers to some of my questions, it is vitally important for this country to have a secretary of state in place at this moment. i never had any doubts about mr. tillerson's qualifications, his intellect, his background. i had some concerns about his answers to some very important questions, at least important questions to me and what i hope will be important questions for a lot of americans. and that's what i wanted to come to the floor and speak about in conjunction with his nomination and that's the issue of human rights. because to me human rights is critical both to our national identity but it's also important to our national security.
7:47 pm
in america today, we have as we've done now for the past two centuries contentious debates all the time about policies and about what kind of country we want to be. and if you're watching the proceedings on the senate floor and committee over the last few days, you've seen a lot of that. even as we debate these things among ourselves and even as is the american political rhetoric has become so incredibly heated and we'll have more about to say about that in the weeks to come, i don't know ever any other time where we've now gotten to the point where we disagree with people, we just don't disagree with them, we question their motives and their character. in fact, it's almost automatic today in political discourse. you don't just disagree with someone, you immediately jump to why they're a bad person. in the weeks to come, i'll have examples about why that's a bad idea. as we're having these contentious debates i hope we never take for granted sometimes as i think we do that we live in
7:48 pm
a place where losing an election, losing an election, losing a vote, losing on an issue does not mean you end up in jail or disappeared or executed because that's the kind of stuff that happens in other places all over the world, even now in the 17th year of the 21st century. as we've seen in recent weeks, this dissent, this political dissent is part of our way of life. it has come to define our country. we protect it in our constitution. and it has made us an example to the rest of the world. i was reminded of this just a couple of months ago right here in washington, d.c. after our most recent election, i had a chance to visit with my opponent congressman patrick murphy or former congressman patrick murphy of florida. when i was finished with that meeting, i walked into another meeting and that other meeting was with a cuban dissident. he's an opponent of the castro regime, an individual who risks
7:49 pm
his life in the pursuit of freedom, ab individual who doesn't -- an individual who doesn't just get bad posts or a bad article or bad editorial or nasty campaign ad run against him. no. this is an individual who routinely gets thrown into jail and he has the scars to prove the beatings he's taken from the cuban state police over the last few years. i was a little bit late to this meeting, and i apologized to him and i explained that i had just been in a meeting with my opposing candidate, the man i had just ran against in the election. and i could see the look on his face. it kind of struck him. he immediately, i believe, appreciated what that represented. he said, and i'm paraphrasing but he said that's what we want for our country, too. this is the essence of what has been america's example to the world. the essence of how our principles and our values have inspired others to seek their own god-given rights and how we have a moral duty to support in
7:50 pm
our words, in our foreign policy and in our actions those as pir ritions of people -- aspiration, of people all over the world, in a way that dictators and tyrants never had it worse today because we live in this high-tech information age. we often get to see the images of oppression within minutes of it happening, if not in real time we can monitor it, catalogue the status of human rights in every city on every continent. as americans we're called to do much more than observe and record these atrocities for history. with this knowledge it's our duty to act and do what we can to support the people demanding their rights and we must hold those who are violating their rights accountable. i believe this is more important than ever because of the totalitarian resurgence under way in many parts of the world as democracy in every continent is under attack. even as i stand here now before you, there are political
7:51 pm
prisoners on this planet. they whrang gish in chinese -- languish in chinese prisons. journalists are being silenced. those who seek democracy in syria are being massacred. the united states has a unique responsibility to highlight, to expose and to combat these grave human rights abuses around the world. historically we've been a compassionate country that has welcomed people seeking refuge from oppression and atrocities. and that's why i understand. i understand the concerns about refugees from certain failed states or governments that sponsor terror, places where very often it's difficult if not impossible to verify the identities of people seeking to come to the united states. i say this to people all the time. when you talk about changes in policy, there's a legitimate argument and a credible argument to be made that there are people we cannot allow into the united states not because we don't have
7:52 pm
compassion for their plight but because we have no way of knowing who they are. you can't just call 1-800 syria and get background information about the individuals that are trying to enter the united states and we know for a fact that there are terrorist groups around the world that have commandeered passport making machinery and are producing passports that are real in every way except the identity of the person in the picture. and so i do believe that we need to have very careful and rigorous screening more than ever before of all people entering the united states but especially those who are coming from areas that we know do not have reliable background information available to us. but at the same time i can't help and i think we should not help but to be worried about the impact of a 120-day moratorium on every single refugee from anywhere on the planet. refugees from places like the democratic republic of congo,
7:53 pm
ukraine, colombia, el salvador, vietnam, burma and of course cuba just to name a few places. these are among the most vulnerable people on the planet living often in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances imaginable. i remind everyone this is a moratorium. it is not a permanent policy. i understand that there are provisions available for waivers and i find that to be promising, but i also want everyone to understand that 120 days for someone who is trying to get out of a place where they might be killed, maybe one day may be too many for some of them. i hope that does not turn out to be the case. that's why i urge the administration, that's why i urge soon to be secretary tillerson to exercise great caution in making sure dissidents and others are not being turned away. by the way, i'm pleased to see that the administration is heeding some of these calls already early this week. we must understand that when tyrants and dictators oppress
7:54 pm
their people, we are all paying a price. it's happening all over the world. vladimir putin continues to institute draconian laws targeting the freedom of expression and assembly. earlier this year my office and i highlighted the case of human rights activists il dar dean who was the first imprisoned. in china rights lawyers are tortured. labor activists are arrested. tibetan buddhist nuns are expelled there their homes and their churches are being demolished. i met the wierchs of two chinese advocates who both pleaded for the united states to champion their husbands' cases in the hopes that they can see their husbands again. in iran dissent, freedom of expression and freedom of press is nonexistent, heavily restricted. many continue to be jailed for simply exercising their fundamental human rights. the government of iran targets religious minorities, often
7:55 pm
jailing christian pastors and those who gather to worship together in private homes. in syria one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in modern history, the assad regime with the assistance of vladimir putin and the iranian military and government is committing war crimes against innocent women, children, men, civilians, and a-- in aleppo and beyond n. iraq we've seen agent christian communities on the verge of extinction all because of isis. in venezuela the maduro regime continues to imprison political opponents while the country descends further into economic chaos and what has now become on the verge of a total humanitarian catastrophe in the western hemisphere and one of the richest countries on the planet, we are at the point of people literally starving to death. saudi arabia, an ally of the
7:56 pm
united states on many geo political issues and we'll have to continue working with them on those shared causes but they remain one of the most censored countries in the world. the government has intensified its repression of activists and journalists. women in saudi arabia remain ready the male guardianship system. they're banned from evening driving. globally assaults against press freedom around the world are a major problem because ultimately the cause and champions of human rights, they need the information to expose abuses and call for reforms. without independent journalists, without information, tyrants and dictatorships can get away with so much more. according to the committee to protect journalists, in 2016, 48 journalists were killed and 259 journalists were jailed world wild. in 20 # 16 turkey, a nato member, again an important geo political alliance of the united states but sadly they became the leading jailer of journalists on the planet following a widespread crackdown on the press. the abuses and threats to human rights around the world are
7:57 pm
many. we could be here all night trying to break senator strom thurmond's filibuster record going country by country, case by case and it it still wouldn't be enough time to do justice to all the heroic figures around the world. but it is my hope that more of my colleagues will join me in doing so over time because it is important. our voices here in the u.s. senate give people all over the world confidence and motivation to stay the course. as famed soaf yacht dissident sharasnsky had said of them, he said, quote, we never could survive even one day in the soviet union if our struggle was not the strug of the free -- struggle of the free world, end quote. he's saying that these tyrants and dictators when they jail these people, the first thing they tell them is no one even remembers you anymore. no one talks about you anymore. you've been abandoned.
7:58 pm
today i want to highlight one particular human rights case as part of the weekly social media campaign my office has been doing the last couple of years. it's called expression, not oppression. here you see a picture of a named dr. eduardo cardet of cuba. he's a medical doctor and part of a group which advocates for democracy and freedom. he assumed the role of national coordinator after the suspicious death of castro critic of waldo. after allegedly stating in an interview that fidel castro was hated by the cuban people, he was savagely beaten in from of us two young children and wife on the 30th of november of last year and he's been in jail ever since. he has been charged -- get this -- he has been charged with challenging authority and he faces a three to five-year prison sentence. let me repeat that he's officially charged with challenging authority. that is a crime in cuba. his father has written to pope
7:59 pm
francis begging for his intervention. by the way this is a reminder just because fidel castro is dead, his authoritarian system still lives on. dr. cardet's persecution and overall increase and oppression in cuba over the past two years is a reminder that the policy of rewarding the castro regime under the guys of engagement with cash and concessions has not worked and must be strategically reversed here in the coming months. and so i come here today in the hope that our president and our state department and especially mr. tillerson in whom i am entrusting me vote for confirmation and all members of congress for that matter who will add their voices in solidarity with dr. cardet, with all the cuban people yearning to be free, for those who look to america for leadership and often nothing more than for us to lend our voice to their cause. as we move forward here with our
8:00 pm
nation's work, we must continue to highlight these cases and raise awareness of them. we must never forget that there are people all over the world who are challenging authority because they want a better life for themselves and their families. they should be able to challenge authority peacefully. and then go home to their families, not be thrown in jail or tortured or killed. today i ask all to pray for those who are victims of their own government. i pray for the release of prisoners of conscience and their families, and i pray that our own country at this moment of extraordinary division on so many key issues can reaffirm its founding principles in calling for the sacred right of every man and woman and child to be free. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that all time during recess or