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  U.S. Senate Confirms HUD and Energy Secretary Nominees  CSPAN  March 2, 2017 1:29pm-3:30pm EST

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mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. corny cornyn: i ask unanimos consent that the quorum call be dispensed with and at 12:45 p.m.
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all postcloture time equally divided in the usual form be considered expired on executive calendar no.9, the nomination of rick perry to be secretary of energy and following the yielding whac back of time the e vote. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. -- mr. president, rick perry will be confirmed shortly as the next energy secretary. i know personally as do 28 million texans that rick perry has dedicated his life to public service. he's best known perhaps for serving our state as governor for a record 14 years. before that, he served in the air force. he served as a state representative in the texas legislature. he was elected as our agriculture commissioner and then served as lieutenant governor. mr. cornyn: as you can tell, the
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man was born to lead. and during his governorship, texas became known throughout the country as the economic engine that could pull the train of the u.s. economy and could weather even the toughest national economic downturn. under governor perry's leadership, the state promoted cutting edge innovation and sensible regulation in order to foster an all of the above energy strategy that revolutionized the texas energy and economy. the state became not just an oil and gas powerhouse but the top wind producing state in the country. we really do believe in an all of the above strategy when it comes to energy. in short rick perry created an environment where all energy producers could not just succeed but really prosper and that continues to serve the people of our state well. texans still benefit from policies that continue to create
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more energy options for families across our state. put another way, governor perry has a very strong track record when it comes to promoting energy in a way that makes everybody better off. i have no doubt that governor perry will take these same principles that led to the texas success story to the rest of the country and open up america to a new energy renaissance. i look forward to voting to confirm him here in just a few minutes. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut.
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mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. in the minutes remaining before this vote, i want to briefly call attention to an impending constitutional crisis that we are facing in this chamber and in this country as a result of recent revelations coming to our attention literally within the last 24 hours about contacts between now attorney general jeff sessions, our former colleague, and the russian ambassador. nearly two months ago my judiciary colleagues and i were told by then senator sessions and the presiding officer is on the judiciary committee, we were told in no uncertain terms that he, quote, did not have communications with the russians, and we took him at his word. last night we learned that senator sessions' statement was inaccurate.
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these inaccurate, possibly intentionally false statements misled us. they misled me personally and i feel failed to provide the whole truth about his communications and ties to the russians likely on behalf of the trump campaign. these contacts were in the midst of an unprecedented attack on our democracy, an act of cyber warfare against our democratic institution, that not only violated our law but subverted our electoral process. the potentially false statements on this topic by then senator sessions were not only deeply relevant and critically important in their own right but they leave us with the question what else is missing or
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misleading in that testimony? and the consequential question about his fitness to lead the department of justice must be answered unless attorney general sessions can provide a credible explanation, his resignation will be necessary. senator sessions' likely false statements heighten my concern about credible allegations that the trump campaign and the transition team and administration officials have colluded with the russian government not only in actions prior to the election but possibly since then in what may amount to a coverup. unless the whole truth is uncovered and if there is a coverup, truly the adage will be
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fulfilled that the coverup is as bad as the crime. the only way to deter russian aggression and continued cyber attacks on our democracy is to uncover the truth and deter this kind of aggression in the future. at the time of his meetings with the russian ambassador, senator sessions was chairman of the trump campaign's national security advisory committee. ambassador kislyka is of course the same individual whose repeated covert contacts with former lieutenant general michael flynn, president trump failed to disclose both to the american public and to his own vice president, and general flynn's failure to make those disclosures led to his own termination as national security advisor. contacts between these two men would raise concerns under any circumstances, but senator sessions' decision to in effect
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conceal them makes them even more troubling. and i use that word with regret because i sat in the committee hearing as he answered those questions, and personally i can reach no other conclusion than to say he must have intended to conceal them and hide them from us as committee members. the attorney general who is the most important law enforcement official in our country must be held to an even higher standard. the stunning disclosure that he met repeatedly with the russian ambassador after denying under oath any such contacts gives us all the more reason, indeed compelling evidence that a special council is necessary and necessary now to investigate
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russian ties and contacts with the trump campaign. i have called for such a special counsel or prosecutor for weeks now, and led a letter with more than ten of my colleagues asking that attorney general sessions designate such a special prosecutor. and -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. blumenthal: may have two more minutes? the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: i just want to make sure we have locked in at 1:45 a vote on the confirmation of rick perry to be secretary of energy? the presiding officer: we do. ms. murkowski: as long as i still have about a minute prior to that vote, i would have no objection plumb i will end my remarks within a minute. in short over the past weeks, i have called repeatedly for a special counsel.
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mr. blumenthal: my view is now attorney sessions must be brought back before the judiciary committee and provide an explanation. the lack of a credible explanation makes his resignation necessary and his denial of contacts raises serious and troubling questions about the process that led to his confirmation, absent swift action by a counsel, evidence of this troubling conduct will be at high risk of concealment by the very agency, the department of justice, entrusted by the american people to seek and uncover the truth, an impartial, objective, comprehensive thorough investigation by a special prosecutor is unquestionably necessary now, and i hope we will have bipartisan support for it. i thank the president and i yield the floor.
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ms. murkowski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: thank you, mr. president. as we near the vote on the nomination of governor perry to be our next secretary of energy, i want to again reiterate my support for his confirmation. i would just do that one more time. as i mentioned earlier, governor perry has devoted his life to public service. during his 14 years as governor of texas, he championed an all of the above energy strategy and led his state to tremendous economic growth. he was a good steward of the environment as he worked to find ways to grow the economy, and received -- really worked towards achieving major reductions in emission levels in the state of texas. and as i said this morning, governor perry is a principled leader. he will set a good direction for the department of energy. i'm confident that he will pursue scientific discovery, promote innovation, to be a good
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steward of our nuclear weapons stockpile, make progress on the cleanup of our legacy site cls we recognize is very important, help us build the infrastructure we need to become a global energy super power and partner with states like my state of alaska that suffer from very high energy costs. he's got a strong record, governor perry gets results. he's a competent manager and i think a proven leader. so i am -- i'm fleeced to be able to -- i'm pleased to be able to support his nomination. i know that members on both sides of the aisle agree. i think he will be a good addition on our president's cabinet and together i would urge that all members support his nomination. with that i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: speaking in opposition to the perry nomination, i would say this. we need an energy secretary for the 21st century, one that will help us by fighting for an electricity grid and the cyber security that will make our
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entire internet economy safer and more reliable, and we need one who will invest in an energy efficiency strategy that will save our businesses money that will help make them competitive. we've had the last two presidents making energy efficiency a key priority. president bush by advocating for plug-in vehicles and president obama who made a major investment in smartgrid and taking the efficiency to the rest of the nation and creating clean energy jobs. governor perry has not committed to those same principles that are going to move us towards those 21st century jobs. we don't want to leave this part of the our economy left behind. i encourage my colleagues to oppose his nomination. the presiding officer: all time has expired. the question is on the nomination.
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is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber who wish to change their vote or who haven't voted? if not the yeas are 62. the nays are 37. the nomination is confirmed.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. mcconnell: the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the comeo order, please. we're not in order. could you come to order, please. the senators will cease their conversation, please. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to reconsider the vote on the nomination and i move to table the motion to reconsider. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to table. all in favor say aye. all opposed no. the yeas appear to have it -- the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to h. j. res. 37 and ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second?
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there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 51, the nays are 46. the motion to proceed is agreed to. the clerk will report the joint resolution. the clerk: house joint res. 37, disapproving the rules submitted by the department of defense and the national aeronautics and space administration relating the federal accusation. the presiding officer: the
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senator from wisconsin. mr. johnson: mr. president, i rise today to ask my colleagues to support h.j. res. 37, a resolution disapproving of the federal acquisition regulation, issued by the department of defense and the national aeronautics and space administration. mr. president, as is the face with so many of these rules and regulations, it has a really nice name. it sounds really good -- the fair pay and safe workplaces rule, but the bottom line, because of the substance of this rule, it has become known as the black listing rule. had it been up to me, i would have called it the blackmailing rule. it requires contractors and sub-contractors submitting bids on federal contracts to disclose any proven or alleged violations within the last three years of 14 different labor laws plus, and i quote, equivalent state
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laws. unquote. now, that may sound reasonable, but it is not, and it is entirely unnecessary. any competent purchasing manager, and again i come from the private sector, there are a lot of competent purchasing managers, could readily obtain the information. any account -- competent purchasing manager should have the past performance record of any kind of potential supplier. this rule also has are the very real potential of subjecting perfectly innocent contractors to blackmail any extortion contracts during union contract negotiations. in case anyone thinks i am overstating this threat, listen to this quote from one union describing, quote, ideal message, their -- to convey of a business negotiating a union contract. i quote, putting it plainly,
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unless you settle this strike within the next few days and the union withdraws its charges, that would be those allegations, unless the union with draws their charges, you are likely to be marked as a repeat labor law offender, one of the highest categories of wrongdoing under the president's order. cutting this division, this corporation has federal contracts in the hundreds of millions of dollars. do you really want to jeopardize this pot of gold to save a few hundred dollars to the union contract? unquote. this is the kind of negotiating tactic that illustrates exactly how this regulation would be used as a form of federally sanctioned blackmail. there would be no due process for contractors wrongly accused. there would be no way for them to defend themselves or void
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being black listed. as if the blackmail potential of the rule isn't enough, the obama administration admitted that the final rule would cost at leigh $3 -- at least $398 million to comply with every year. except for the benefit extortion provides to unions, i can think of no benefit to taxpayers or our economy, and neither could be obama administration as they were unable to quantify any financial benefit for this rule in their regulatory filings. in addition to the $398 million annual costs, the agencies detail the following burdens -- the rule will affect over 34,000 contractors. industry estimates are even higher. the rule imposes costly reporting requirements on small businesses that many simply cannot bear and it also reduces the availability and increases
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the price of much-needed supplies and services, including to our military. others have pointed out even more problems with the rule. for example, it does not define what the equivalent state laws are that have been included in the disclosure requirement. also, the definition of a violation that is reportable is incredibly broad. it is not limited to government contracts and include pending and other nonfinal disputes -- in other words, mere allegations of wrongdoing. in particular, this is a slippery slope. for example, in fiscal year 2016, the national labor relations board received over 21,000 unfair labor practice charges, but more than half of those were withdrawn or dismissed in less that -- and less than 6% resulted in a formal complaint *r complaint by the nlr -frpb -- nlrb.
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the equal opportunity commission received over 91,000 complaints but issued a reasonable determination of cause in over 113 and filed enforcement suits in only 114, about .1% of the 91,000 complaints filed. various reports show that it costs $22 million per year. of course, mr. president, no one writes a check for $14,800, instead those costs are realized in reduced opportunities, higher prices to consumers and stagnated wages and benefits for hard-working americans. economic growth is the primary component of a solution for many of our country's problems. yet washington continues to stifle growth by adding
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regulationings. the black listing rule is one harmful example. last october the u.s. district court for the eastern district of texas issued an injunction. the judge issuing the order noted that there was merit to the claims that this rule violates statute, exceeds executive authority and is unconstitutional. the court found that allowing this rule to go into effect would cause, quote, irreparable harm. until we act to repeal this rule, a significant burden hangs over our country's contractors and suppliers. through the use of the congressional review act, we have the opportunity to reduce that regulatory burden and repair a small portion of the damage done by president obama's regulatory overreach. mr. president, we owe it to the american people and american businesses to start providing
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them with regulatory relief. i urge my colleagues to vote yes to disapprove and repeal this very harmful, very costly, and completely unnecessary rule. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, on tuesday night, along with my colleagues, i listened to the president of the united states address the joint session of congress. as the ranking democrat on the senate foreign relations committee, i was particularly interested to hear what the president would be saying about american foreign policy. and i heard him say during the speech that american foreign policy would be based on the respect the sovereign rights of nations, which is something i strongly believe in. i then thought i would hear the president talk about one of our
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greatest challenges of a country that is not respecting the sovereign rights of the united states of america, that country being russia. but the president didn't mention russia at all in his state of the union address, which really surprised me. when you look at russia's most recent conduct and know what they did in regards to their attack on the united states' democratic election system, it is beyond dispute that they wanted to interfere with our free elections, they want to affect the credibility of our democratic hro*eugs system and in -- election system and influence the election. yet, the president did not mention that at all, a country that had attacked us as recently as just a few months ago, no mention in the president's state
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of the union address. it want an isolated attack by russia on the united states. we knew that before that we had seen that in montenegro's election and how they tried to influence montenegro's decision to join nato. we know russia is attempting to influence the elections in western europe. mr. president, we have a country trying to bring down our democratic system of government by using our democratic system of government in the way that we conduct opens elections to compromise our system. but that's not the only thing that russia has done that's contrary to the united states' national security and our foreign policy objectives. we know that they have physically incurred into other countries. they have physically incured into ukraine. today russia has annexed crimea.
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crimea is part of ukraine. russia is continuing to support the separatist in the eastern part of ukraine, compromising ukraine's sovereignty. the president did not mention that in his state of the union address. we know that russia is in georgia, in muldova and other sovereign countries. once again, no mention of that. then russia is very much engaged in the middle east. we know that russia's footprint in the middle east is growing. they have their military presence in syria, backing the assad regime, facilitating iran's participation in syria. we also know that the type of conduct that has been conducted0 under russian -- conducted under
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russian support where civilians have been targeted, humanitarian convoys have been attacked amount to war crimes, something that russia has culpability and yet we don't hear anything about that. so, mr. president, we have a role. congress has a role to play in making sure that we protect our national security interests. first and foremost, we've got to know what's going on. he we've got to know what russia is doing. we've got to know what russia's intentions were when they compromised our cybersecurity, used that information to try to influence our elections. we've got to know what usual's intentions are about and the contacts they have made with americans in their effort to influence this campaign. we have to understand what russia's intentions are as it relates to democratic countries.
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we saw in general flynn's case that contact was made and as a result of not coming forward with that, general flynn has left the trump administration and then we found out yesterday that the attorney general, as a united states senator, had contact with the russian ambassador and that information was not made available during the confirmation process. the timing of that meeting in senator sessions' office is concerning. it's concerning about it was right at the time that russia was the most active in trying to get information about -- that they could use to influence our elections. so this is an important aspect in order for us to understand. we need to understand why this meeting took place, what was involved in that meeting, and there's been calls by members on both sides of the aisle that we get that type of information.
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but i add one more dimension to this. why was the russian ambassador interested in meeting with senator sessions during the campaign period? was this part of an overall strategy by russia to try to influence the election? we need to get the answers to that. the only way that we're going to be able to get a complete account of what has happened by russia's attack of the united states is by setting up an independent commission. russia may not have used mig's to attack america. they may have used a mouse but it was an attack. and when we were attacked on 9/11, congress did the right thing. they set up an independent special commission to understand what happened, how we were so vulnerable to an attack so we could take steps to protect ourselves from future attacks and hold those responsible accountable. that was a bipartisan effort by
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the congress of the united states, sending up an independent commission, a commission where the members could devote their entire full time to the assignment because that's how serious it is being attacked, that there was no limit on their jurisdiction. they could take -- go where the facts lead. that they could give a report to the american people so threld be credibility -- there would be credibility that we, the policy-makers are going to have independent information in order to act to protect the national security of the people of this country. that's what that independent commission meant, and that independent commission met. they made many recommendations, eliminating a lot of stove piping and intelligence information, combining agencies together, and congress acted on those recommendations. and as a result, we are safer today than we were prior to 9/11. well, we need to be safer tomorrow than we are today from
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the attacks from russia, and the only way that we're going to be able to get that objective information with the credibility so that we can act in the best interests of the people of this nation is to have a nonpartisan independent commission take a look at what russia was doing, get all the facts, find ways and recommendations to make us safer, give the credibility to the american people and then congress needs to act in order to protect our national security. i know that we have some committees looking at this. i know the senate intelligence committee is doing some very important work, and i support that. we have our responsibilities in congress to take steps within the jurisdictions of our committee. i'm for the senate foreign relations committee looking into what russia was doing in order that we can protect the jurisdiction of our committee to do a better job in our bilateral relationship with russia or what russia's doing in europe or in other parts of the world which
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affects our national security under the jurisdiction of senate foreign relations committee. we need to do that work. the intelligence committee needs to do its work. armed services needs to do their work. judiciary needs to do their work. but we need one central investigation that includes the broad jurisdiction that can get to answer why the russian ambassador may have wanted to see a united states senator who was active in one of the campaigns that close to the elections. who has an opportunity to understand why russia was so active in their cyber attacks in america, getting so much information, so much political information, why russia was trying to understand our election system. there's no evidence that they tried to manipulate individual votes. that the didn't happen. at least we don't believe that happened. but we know that they were looking into how we do that. was that for some future use? we need to understand that to
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protect our democratic system of government. that's what an independent commission will allow us to be able to receive. so i would just urge my colleagues to respond to the national security challenge of russia and let's establish an independent commission. there's other things we need to do. there are two bills that i have filed with my republican colleagues to make it clear that we are not -- it's not going to be business as usual with russia. there's going to be consequences to what they've done to the united states and our national security interests. so, one, the bill that i filed and which senator graham is the principal sponsor is to make sure that congress carries out its responsibility of oversight in regards to our bilateral relationship with russia. it's a russia review act that would require the president of the united states to submit to congress for review any attempt
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to eliminate or modify the current sanctions against russia. he would be required to submit that to the congress of the united states, hopefully working with us and consulting with us before he makes decisions but giving us an opportunity to weigh in before that decision could take effect. now for my colleagues who remember the iran nuclear agreement, it sounds very familiar. senator corker and i and senator menendez and senator kaine and others worked on an iran nuclear agreement review act, and it passed near unanimously in the united states congress. and it required a president to submit that agreement to us before it could take effect. it made the negotiations much more transparent. and as a result, i believe we had a stronger agreement, but we also had a more open process, and congress had a chance to carry out its responsibility. in a similar vein, it's
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important that we pass the russia review act so that we can carry out our responsibilities before -- preventing the president from taking unilateral action without consulting with us. this is bipartisan. we got democrats and republicans working on this. and i hope we'll be able to pass this bill in a timely way. and the third bill i just want to bring to my colleagues' attention as it relates to russia's activities here in the united states is legislation i have filed with senator mccain and many others. we have a large number of democrats and republicans who have cosponsored this bill that would increase the sanctions against russia because of their attack against us. it would expand the options for imposing sanctions to different sectors that could affect russia's energy, that could affect the ability of russia to finance their sovereign debt, that could affect russia's
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ability to privatize their industries by making it clear we're not going to allow americans or companies to help finance these activities because in reality, they're financing activities against our interests, such as the cyber attacks as we saw last fall. this legislation is comprehensive. it deals more than just with sanctions. it deals with another major problem that we have found. through nato and u.s. leadership, we have made it clear that we will defend the countries of nato and we have deployed troops to make it clear to russia that they better not try to compromise the territorial integrity of the member states. this initiative has been well received by europe and has countered russia's attempts to cause a fracture within the european community. but we need a similar initiative on democracy, a democracy initiative because not only is there a threat against europe
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from their geographical boundaries, there's a threat against europe in regards to their democratic institutions. we know that. we saw that here in america. it's being challenged in europe. so this democratic initiative would allow us to participate until strengthening the democratic institutions in europe so that we don't allow russia to use the democratic institutions to try to bring down the democratic institutions. there's another part of this legislation which i think is extremely important. we're all getting to better understand the tactics being used by russia, this fake news news, inventing news and then using the social media to make it look like it is the hottest news in town. we know that they're good at that. we also know they're very good at propaganda, and they go in directions that we prior to this election thought we would never see in our own country. well, we're seeing it now more frequently. part of this legislation is for
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us to develop a capacity to be able to counter this propaganda and fake news so that russia's deployment of it will not compromise our national security. mr. president, i think all three bills, i hope, will be considered shortly and favorably by this body, to set up the independent review commission, to require the president to submit any changes in the russia sanctions to congress and strengthening our sanction regime against russia including strengthening our commitment to democratic institutions in fighting this new cycle of fake news. but i also listened to the president during the state of the union address when he said, our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world. well, that's another statement that i happen to agree with. but then i thought about what i heard a little bit earlier that
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day, that the president's budget was going to have about a 30% to 35% cut -- it wasn't exactly clear, but it was a large number cut to the state department. and i said how are you going to have a robust and meaningful engagement in the world if you cut our diplomacy budget, you cut our development assistance budget? this is how we keep the world safe. this is how we get our goals accomplished globally. we've had so many hearings in our committee where there's much greater need. we need to do more in africa in promoting democracy. we need to do more in the middle east in promoting good governance and inclusive governance, we don't have to have as many wars. we need to do things in our own hemisphere. we just heard today in venezuela hearing, what's happening there. there's a lot of work for america to do. 30% cut? is that a more direct, robust, and meaningful engagement within the world? it didn't sound that way to me.
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so i was concerned about that and how we're going to be able to gauge. it was secretary mattis who said if you don't give the secretary of state more resources, you better give me more soldiers and they're more expensive. we have the best fighting force in the world and we're going to support them. the way we show respect for our soldiers is to use them only as a matter of last resort. diplomacy is critically important for america's national security. mr. president, a strong, credible office of the president is equally important if we're going to be able to be the type of country to influence our values globally. and the president of the united states has put that at risk. and that is why i am reintroducing my resolution to try to avoid a constitutional crisis. i introduced it before president trump took the oath of office. i'm introducing it again to
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avoid a constitutional crisis. it deals with the emolument clause of the constitution of the united states. every modern president of the united states prior to president trump, in order to avoid conflict, in order to do what is ethically right and to comply with the constitution of the united states, the emolument clause has either divested their financial holdings or have set up a blind trust. some have done both. that's the way that the ethics officers tell us you can comply with not just the constitution, but with the highest ethical standards so that there is no real conflicts and you don't have any perceived conflicts which can be just as damaging to the credibility of a public officeholder. president trump, by not
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dwefgget, by not -- not divesting, not setting up a blind trust put the office of the presidency, our country, in a promising position. let me -- in a compromising position. let me give you some specific examples, if i might. i'll mention three countries. i could mention more. saudi arabia, very interesting country saudi arabia. in august 2015, the trump organization filed eight separate business companies to do business in saudi arabia. as we all know, the president's executive order that was originally issued that excluded immigrants from seven muslim countries from visas did not include the kingdom of saudi arabia, i-though, as we all know, many of the participants in the 9/11 attack against the united states originated from the country of saudi arabia. president trump has vast
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business interests in saudi arabia. let me just quote from president trump. saudi arabia, i get along with all of them. they buy apartments from me. they spend $40 million, $50 million. am i supposed to dislike them? i like them very much. it's not the question, mr. president, of whether you -- they like you or don't like you. the question is that under our constitution they cannot give you any favors. and if they give you a business favor, that's an emolument and violates the constitution of the united states and violates your oath of office. in regards to turkey, turkey has two large-scale developments in the country that are under the trump organization. the trump organization has a partnership with a luxury furniture company, dora international, to build pieces to be sold under the trump home
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collection brand and a multimillion-dollar branding deal with dowan group. the dowan group is run by one of the most political influential families in turkey for a two tower complex municipal. according to president trump's may 2016 financial disclosure, he receives as much as $1 million in royalties from the first venture and as much as $5 million from the second venture. because president trump has not properly divested himself from his business he will continue to receive royalties from both ventures. this is not unknown to turkey's leadership. the president of turkey presided over the -- president trump praised the president of turke turkey's partners. there is substantial interest
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known by the turkish government that mr. trump has in their country. mr. irtine is not shy about using the trump towers. he has bragged about it. we have a lot of foreign policy decision making that affect affs turkey. we need to know what the president is making those decisions, it's the -- it is america's interest which is at the -- which is at front and center, not the trump organization's interests that are affecting those decisions. that's why we have the emolument clause, and that's why president trump needs to divest of his interest or set up a blind trust. i'll mention one other country, if i might, and that country is
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china. china, for a decade the trump organization has been trying to get a trademark of its brand in china. i'm going to quote from mr. trump. on february 7, 2011, when he wrote to the american ambassador in china, this is what mr. trump said -- i spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to secure my own name for a brand for chinese individuals to seek -- 10 years he has been fighting to get that trademark protection. it was granted on february 14, 2017. february 14, 2017. a few weeks after president trump took the oath of office. shortly after president trump stated that he would support the one *pb china policy -- one china policy, something that the government of china strongly
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wanted him to say. look, we don't know connections. we can't draw connections. that's why the emolument clause is in the constitution so that you cannot accept any favors from another country. it's against our constitution, and yet we have concerns as to whether the president is acting under that interest. that is just wrong and it needs to stop. let me -- what the president has done is established a circumstance where there is an appearance of conflict, where it looks like he is -- that foreign governments are trying to influence his decisions. he's affected america's standing to advance good governance and anticorruption. i want to underscore that point. he's compromising america's moral authority on the values we hold so deal, our western
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democratic values are being compromised because leaders of autocratic countries can say, well, if it's all right for the president of the united states to keep his business holdings while he's president, what's wrong with me having an interest of some of our entities here. it takes away our ability, our effective ability to use diplomacy to solve problems or advance our goals. we are being compromised. the current arrangement is simply inadequate when president trump announces he will let his two adult sons handle his businesses, he still maintains his financial interest, he gives a couple of other things. he said he will donate the profits from his foreign hotels to charities. it sounds good. let me quote, if i might from steve carville a professor from the university of hotel, he said
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it is a monumental task to run this down even if the company is trying its hardest, it will be difficult to fulfill that goal. let's get serious about this. the arrangements he set out will not solve the conflict it will not comply with the constitution of the united states. the office of government ethics said of the president's proposal -- it is, quote, wholly inadequate. end quote. that's the office of government ethics. they go on to say, the plan the president has announced doesn't meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the last four decades have met. mr. president, i'm a lawyer, but i would not claim to be a constitutional expert. let me quote, if i might, from constitutional experts. richard painter, norm isen and
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laurence tribe wrote a comprehensive study. concluding since emoluments include profit from any employment as well as salary, it is clear that even renumerations fairly earned in commerce can qualify. richard painter, the chief ethics officer for president george w. bush stated in a blunter fashion. he said, and i quote, this is a for-profit hotel. trump is making profits over dealing with foreign governments, same with the loans from foreign government-owned banks. those are for a for-profit business. this is prohibited under the emoluments clause of the constitution. so, mr. president, let me just conclude on this. this is not about any one person. this is about the office of the president. this is about our constitutional form of government that depends
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upon the office of the president being respected. it's bigger than any one person. the framers of our constitution went on to say, we recognize -- we know that the faults of men, that's why we set up the constitution to protect against the greats of individuals. -- the frailties of individuals. this is about the office of the president of the united states, not about any one person who might occupy it for four to eight years, so we need to protect the office of the president, and that's why we need to act now to avoid this constitutional crisis of the president of the united states whose put our nation at risk because of his personal conflicts and because of his violation of the constitution of the united states. i call upon president trump to live up to the values of the constitution and give the american people the transparency they deserve and completely severe his relationship with the trump organization before we are embroiled in an ethical and constitutional crisis that will
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not serve the best interest of the president, congress, or the american people. with that, mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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