tv U.S. Senate Confirms Interior Secretary Nominee Ryan Zinke CSPAN March 1, 2017 4:00pm-4:36pm EST
senator from florida. mr. rubio: is the senate? a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate in a quorum call. mr. rubio: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. rube roberts-stabenow i ask unanimous consent that i be permitted to enter into a colloquy with the senator delaware. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: mr. president, i am here today to discuss along with the senator the issue of russia. i know it's been at the forefront of much of the debate that's on-going in this country, and about -- and i wanted to begin by commending the vice president and secretary of defense and secretary of homeland security, secretary of state for their strong message of support for nato. that includes the president last night, and their strong support, by the way, for the trans-at l.a.n. be particular alliance that these individuals outlined during their respective visits meeting with allies in february. at that munich security conference on the 18th of february, the russian foreign minister said, quote, i hope -- he means the world -- will choose a democratic world order,
a post-west one in which each country is defined by its sovereignty, end quote. i think that based on recent history, i think when a russian loord says -- leader says "post-west," we should interpret that to mean post-americans. i would ask the senator, what are his views with regard to putin's desires to create divisions with our allies? how should we view the russian world view as it compares to the interests -- the national interests of the united states? mr. coons: i'd like to thank my friend, the senator from florida, my colleague on the foreign relations committee and on the appropriations committee, and i'd like to answer his question by saying it seems clear to all of us on the foreigforeign relations committe who've had the opportunity to visit with our nato allies that vladimir putin has a world view and an agenda that is in sharp contrast with our own.
vladimir putin dreams of returning russia to the days of the russian empire, to reexerting influence over a broad geographic region and he has internally used the west and nato has a scapegoat for russia's internal economic woes. he has, as we know, launched invasions or extended his influence through forces and supported ill liberal forces in moll davoe and other former soviet unions. he has coordinated all of his tools against our neigh a lice in the baltic region and in central and western europe. all of these things represent a sirch set of values than we have here in the united states, a different set of values in a way that really worries me. as my colleague from florida has suggested, when foreign minister lavrov talks about a worltd order de-- world order, he's
challenging what we in the west stand forks what we in america stand for. i believe what we stand for is the universal values on which we forged the trans-atlantic alliance, for stobility and good in the world, which has secured peace in western europe, north america every since the close of the world war but a trans-atlantic alliance that is rooted in values of freedom of speech, freedom of press and on opposition to authoritytarian. we support american leadership because a stable and prosperous wrorld makes us safer and more economically secure. so i would ask my friend from florida what he views as the agenda or the objective of russia and whether or not we can be hopeful in any way that vladimir putin's russia as an agenda that is harmonious with ours, that can be put in the same direction as ours or whether it's fundamentally at odds? mr. rubio: i would begin my
reminding everyone that when we're talking about russia, we are not talking about the russian people. we're talking about vladimir putin and the cronies that surround him and their poles for the future. we have -- and their goals for the future. we have no quarrel with the russian people who i believe would want to live in a world in which their country was more like ours than the way their government now runs theirs. and the second thing i would point to is it's important to understand history. at the end of the second world washings the naziism had been concurred and the japanese empire had -- it's designs had ended. the u.s. and the world entered this period of a cold war -- a battle twoon communism and the free world. the united states and our allies stood for that from. at the end of the soviet block, the fall of the communism, the world we all hoped had entered into this new era where every nation had a different system, maybe some had a parliamentary system, maybe some had a republic such as ours, but in the end more people than ever would have access to a government responsive to their
needs. and that was the growing trend around the world up until about seven be, eight, fen years ago. we now see the opposite, we see a rising arc of tow tailtarians. within that context is where vladimir putin's screw is constructed. he views the values that we stand for, which some may call western values, but i believe they're universal values, the idea that people should a role to play in choosing their leaders, that people should have freedom to worship as they see fit, that people should express their opinions freely without fear of retribution or punishment by their government, these are the values i this i think we l. we have stood for and we had hoped russia would stand for. but vladimir putin viewed that as a threat. in particular in the last number of years, he has decided the best way for him to not just secure his place in russian politics, the best way for him to secure his way in russian politics is through an
aggressive foreign policy in which he views is a zero-sum game. we view the world as a place where we can helped rebuild japan, germany. they're stronger and we're stronger. it isn't one or the other. he views the world as a place where in order for russia to be greater america has to be less. in order for him to be more powerful, we have to be less powerful and a world in which he has to undermine democratic principles and try to expose them as fraudulent. it's why you saw the russian intelligence services medal in our elections in 2016. one of the main designs they had was to create doubt and instability in our system of government, discredit it here at home and around the world. i returned from europe a week ago at this time in germany and france who have upcoming elections of their own. they're seeing an unprecedented wave of active measures on the part of russian intelligence to try to influence their elections. in the netherlands we've seen some of the same. this is very concerning and our european allies are very concerned about the
weaponization of cyber technology to strategically placed information in the public domain for purposes of undermining candidates, steering elections and undermining policy-making. i want everybody to understand this is not just about elections. the exact same tools that they used in the 2016 presidential election, they could use to try to influence the debate in the senate by attacking individual senators or individual viewpoints and using their control over propaganda to begin to spread that. i give you one example and that's in may of 2015 the german intelligence agencies reported an attack on the german parliament, energy companies, on universities. they attribute that to russian hackers. in montenegro the prime minister sought membership in nato, an action we supported in the senate foreign relations committee which both of us serve on. russian intelligence has plotted in a very aggressive level to disrupt their elections late last year. they used tv and internet outlets like russia today,
called r.t., and sputnik to launch propaganda campaigns, gallon -- there is no sornlg of them. -- shortage of them. we are in the midst of aggressive actions undertaken to medal in american elections and those throughout the free world and it is deeply concerning. i think another matter which i'd love to hear the senator's opinion on is on the issue of human rights violations. on top of being a totalirian state, there cannot be one without violating the rights of their people. i would ask the senator and would loof to have his comment on whether or not vladimir putin is a serial human rights
violator and what our policy should be in terms of outlining that to the world. mr. coons: let me respond to my friend, the senator, by saying that it is clear that vladimir putin's russia has been a serial human rights violator. when we talk about human rights we talk about things that belong to everyone and are necessary as a check on state power. and when nations break these rules we believe they should be held accountable. russia continues to engage in efforts, as my colleague said, that undermine democracy in free elections throughout europe. we have shared concerns about the upcoming elections, the dutch elections, french, german and french elections where there are overt actions and covert actions by russia to influence the outcome of those elections. but part of why they're doing that, part of why they're violating these norms around europe is because they're seeking to distract from their brutal rule at home. the reality is that many critics of putin's regime end up dead or incapacitated. a russian politician who
supported the introduction of capitalism into the russian economy and frequently criticized vladimir putin was assassinated two years ago on february 27 on a bridge just near the kremlin in moscow. a russian politician and journalist was apparently poisoned last month, the second time in recent years. he had been actively promoting civil society democracy and human rights in russia. and back in september of 2012, putin threw usaid out of russia altogether claij -- claiming u.s. efforts were undermining sovereignty when we had been working supporting human rights and promoting fair elections. most importantly, in my view, russia doesn't just violate the human rights of its own citizens. it exports brutality. and russia's support for bashar al-assad continues. their military targeted hospitals, schools and syrian first responders. they blocked the provision of food and medicine to starving families and children.
and russia's diplomats vetoed any effort at the united nations to act to stop the suffering in syria. russia also having illegally invaded ukraine and annexed crimea continues to promote violence and instability in eastern ukraine leading to the deaths of thousands. all of these human rights violations within russia and in countries around its sphere of influence in its region suggest to us that they need to be held accountable for these violations of basic human rights. like the senator from south florida, i led a codel to eastern and central europe. mine was not last week. it was last august. but with two republican house members and two democratic senate members, the five of us went to the czech republic to ukraine and toes -- toes stone i can't and heard concern about the record of disrespect for democracy in russia and about this aggressive hybrid warfare campaign that threatens ukraine stability andistence.
that puts estonia on warning and czech independence and czech elections all across central and western europe. i've heard from, we have heard from ambassadors, experts, those who have testified in front of committees on which we serve about a russian campaign, a brutal campaign to undermine human rights within russia and to undermine democracy throughout western europe with a larger strategic goal of separating the united states from our western allies and of undermining the trans-atlantic alliance that has been so essential to our peace, security and stability for 70 years. we cannot let this stand. there is no moral equivalence between russia and the united states. and if we believe in our democracy and if we believe in our commitment to hiewm rights we -- human rights we must stand up to this campaign of aggression. i ask my colleague what he believes we might be able to do on the foreign relations committee and the appropriations committee or here in the senate, what we might do as voices working in a bipartisan way to stand up to these actions
undermining democracy and human rights. mr. rubio: the first of what we're doing now is an important part about shining the sunlight on all of this, making people aware of it. we know, for example, in france two of the leading candidates have views that i think the kremlin would be quite pleased with. that became the foreign policy of france. a third not so much. a very young candidate running as an independent, and suddenly as he began to surge in the polls, all these stories start appearing, ridiculous stories about his personal life and about his marriage, things that are completely false, completely fabricated. fortunately french society and the french press understands this and has reported as such. but it's important for us. this is happening and is real. and it is unprecedented at its scope and in its aggression. shining light on the reality, understanding this is, i always tell my colleagues, i said this last october, it is not a partisan issue. i'm telling you that to my republican colleagues who might
be uncomfortable about discussing russian interference, this is not about the outcome of the election. this is about the conduct. what they did last year in the fall in the presidential race they can do against any member here. if they don't like what you're saying, think you're getting too far on policy you could find yourself the target of russian propaganda in the hopes of undermining you, perhaps having you eliminated from the debate because they understand our political process quite well. the second is to do no harm. there is this notion out there, and i think on paper it sounds great, why don't we partner up with the russians to defeat isis and take on radicalism around the world? the problem is this. number one, that's what russia claims they are already doing. vladimir putin claims he's already doing that. so he's already doing it, why would we have to partner with him. he's already doing it. obviously the answer is because he hasn't been. this is about propping up assad. here's the other. when you partner up with someone you have to take responsibility for everything they do and the actions they undertook. senator coons said we talked
about the bombing in aleppo. if we had been partnered with russia in syria and they're bombing a -- aleppo, those are our partners. we have to answer to that as well. we would be roped into that. the third is to understand the strategic goal is not to defeat radical elements in the middle east. the strategic goal is to have inordinate influence in syria with iran, potentially in other countries at the expense of the united states. we have two presidents, a republican and a democrat previous to the current president who thought they could do such a deal with vladimir putin. both of them fell on their face because they did not understand what they were dealing with. it is my sincerest hope that our current president doesn't make the same mistakes. in addition to that, i know there are a number of legislative approaches we have worked on together as members of the senate foreign relations committee and the senate foreign operations appropriations subcommittee, and i would ask the senator from delaware if he could highlight some of those legislative matters we've been
talking about, resolutions, laws and public policy that we've been advocating. mr. coons: briefly if i could, two bills that are currently gathering, cosponsors and which i hope our colleagues will review and consider joining us in cosponsoring. one is s. 341 is, the russia sanctions review act of it 2017 which has 18 is cosponsors. the other is s. 94, counteracting russians hoes -- hostility act of 2017. in both cases we are, i think, proud to have a very broad range of both republicans and democrats engaged in important legislation. that ensures that russia pays a price for breaking the rules. it starts by taking actions to support the actions against the russian government for its occupation, illegal annexation of crimea and egregious human rights violations in syria and for meddling in the u.s. election. it prevents the lifting of sanctions on russia until the russian government seizes the very activities that cause these
sanctions to be put in place in the first place. and it supports civil society. pro-democracy, anticorruption activists in russia and across europe to show that we, that many of us are determined as members of the foreign relations committee, as members of the appropriations committee, as senators not as partisans that beintend to fund the tools that enable the united states and allies to push back on russian aggression. most tools cot from the state department and foreign assistance accounts. i want to commend you senator for giving a strong and passionate speech on the floor yesterday about the importance of keeping these tools in our cool kit so as we -- in our tool kit so as we confront our adversaries we have the resources and responsibility to confront. we have no quarrel with the russian people but we're here because there is nothing vladimir putin's regime would love more than to see his actions divide us in this chamber and in this country from our allies in europe and divide
the whole north atlantic community that for seven decades has brought peace and stability to europe, brought prosperity to the united states not as an act of charity but as investment in the best interest of security. we are here to say with one voice that we will stand up to russian aggression that undermines democracy and violates human rights. i'm grateful for my colleague for the chance of joining him on the floor today. i look forward to working together with any of our colleagues who see these issues as clearly as my friend and colleague, the senator from florida. mr. rubio: it is important we speak out with this. in a moment the majority leader will be here with procedural matters that will, i guess, take the senate into a different posture. before that happens, i wanted to close by not just thanking him for being a part of it but making more points. first, i want you to imagine for a moment if you're sitting at the kremlin and watching on satellite television the debate going on in american politics, you're probably feeling good about yourself. you've got one group arguing
that maybe the elections weren't legitimate because russians interfered. you have another group arguing with the intelligence committee. there's been news reports about tension. you have reports back and forth. you're looking at this chaos and saying to yourself we did a pretty good job. if what we wanted to do was divide the american people, sowing chaos into their process, i think you look at the last six weeks or six months if you were in the kremlin you say our efforts were pretty successful at that. the second thing is this should be about partisanship. i am a member of the senate intelligence committee. it is probably known we're undertaking an investigation into russian interference in the 2016 elections. i speak for myself and if not all of my colleagues to say on the one hand i'm not interested in being a part of a witch hunt. on the other hand, i will not be part of a cover-up. we want to get to the truth.
we want to be able to deliver to this body and to the american people a document with truth and facts wherever they may lead us because this is above political party. our system of government and this extraordinary republic that's been around for over two centuries is unique and it is special. and with all its blemishes and flaws i wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. i want people to think about that. the next time you say to yourself things are so tough in america, who would you trade places with? i'm not saying we don't have problems because we do, but i ask you what country would you rather be? i promise you you won't say china, if you know anything about china. i promise you you won't say russia, if you know anything about russia. there isn't a nation on earth we wouldn't trade places with, and there is no process of government that i would trade for ours. it is not perfect, and one of the strengths of our system is our ability to stand up here in places like this in the senate and discuss our differences and our problems and make continuous progress forward, even if sometimes the pace is slower and more frustrating than we wish, and that is what's at stake here
in this process. that is what's at stake here in this debate. that's what none of us can allow to see erode because of interference by foreign government, especially one whose leader is a thug and a war criminal in every sense of the word. and so, again, our quarrel, as my colleague said, is not with the russian people, it is not with russia. i have extraordinary admiration for the russian people. i have extraordinary admiration for the sacrifices and the contributions that they have made throughout history to our culture and to the world, but unfortunately today their government is run by an individual who has no respect for his own people and has no respect for the freedom and the liberty of others, and it is important for our policy maybers on both sides of the aisle to be clear-eyed and clear voiced in what we do moving forward. and i thank the senator for being with us here today and allowing us to engage in this discussion. i hope we'll see more of that in the weeks and months to come so that we can speak clearly and firmly with one voice. that on issues involving america and our sovereignty and our
system of government and the decisions we must make, we will speak with one voice as one nation, as one people, as one country. i thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. mcconnell: mr. president? are we in a quorum call?
the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i have eight requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: without objection, so noted. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. res. 77 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 77, supporting the goals and ideals of multiple sclerosis awareness week. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the appointment at the desk appear separately in the record as if made by the chair. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that following leader remarks on thursday, march 2, there be 20 minutes of debate equally divided prior to the confirmation vote on executive calendar 5, the nomination of ben carson to be secretary of housing and urban development, followed by up to ten minutes of debate equally divided prior to the cloture vote on executive calendar 9, the nomination of rick perry to be secretary of energy, and if cloture is invoked, time to be counted as if invoked at 7:00 a.m. that day. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 9:30 a.m. thursday, march 2. following the prayer and pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. and morning business be closed. further, that following leader remarks, the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the carson nomination as under the previous order. the presiding officer: without
objection. mr. mcconnell: so if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned to be -o be secretary. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. a senator: mr. president, i applaud my colleagues for voting in favor of cloture on the nomination of dr. benjamin carson to be