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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  April 25, 2018 5:59pm-7:33pm EDT

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the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tillis: mr. president, i ask consent notwithstanding the provisions of rule 22 at 12 noon on thursday there be four minutes of debate equally divided and the senate then vote to invoke cloture on the pompeo nomination and if that motion is invoked, all time be considered ex binder the senate -- expired and the senate vote on confirmation. i further ask following disposition of the pompeo nomination, the senate resume consideration of the grenell nomination with the time until
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1:45 p.m. equally divided in the usual form and at 1:45 p.m. the senate vote on the nomination. if cloture is invoked that the senate vote on the confirmation without intervening action or debate and with respect to both nominations, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, and the president be immediately notified of the senate's actions. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. mr. schatz: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. mr. schatz: thank you, mr. president. in his confirmation hearing last january, e.p.a. administrator scott pruitt said there was evidence that climate change had actually leveled off over the past two decades. in response to mr. pruitt's comments, an atmospheric scientist in california pulled together some colleagues to
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study satellite data from around the world. they found, predictably, that mr. pruitt was wrong and they prepare to publish their findings in "nature scientific reports," but then something weird happened. a few of the scientists said they didn't want their names listed on the research. they were worried about their ability to get a green card in the united states. mr. sander told the new yorker that this was the first time he saw colleagues feared putting their names on research because they were worried about the negative consequences fors themselves and their families. in this country scientists should not work in fear, they should not worry about their work being politicized, but this is where we are, and it is a moment that has been carefully planned by a small group of people who do not want the
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united states to act on climate, and because of these groups the united states is home to the oanlt major -- the only major political party who opposes climate action. because of these groups, scott pruitt, a man who denies that climate change is real and that it is caused by humans, is running the federal agency charged with dealing with climate change. for too long, these groups have gone unchallenged. their web of deceit untouched. and so i'm joining with my colleagues to shine a light on these groups and how they have worked our ability to make good choices. the heartland institute was started in 1984 ostensibly by a group of libertarians. each of those positions boils down to the idea that the government has no role not to work on ending tobacco use or defining what health insurance should look like, but they are
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especially focused on keeping the government from doing anything about climate change. the heartland institute denies that climate change is happening, and i disagree with them. 97% of all climate scientists disagree with them. but they are not playing by the average think tank's rules because they are not your normal think tank. over the years the heartland institute has gained a reputation, as one website put it, being a mouth pease for corporations -- mouthpiece for corporations that fund it. the heartland keeps its donations secret. but we know that the koch brothers, exxonmobil, and the mercers are some of the biggest funders for heartland. if the government does what heartland wants and stops protecting the environment, these people will profit. it's almost as if the heartland
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institute exists to promote the interests of its donors. last year they mailed a package to hundreds of thousands of science teachers that had pamphlets, a d.v.d., and a book called "why scientists disagree with global warming." it was to introduce fossil fuel talking points for teachers. they tried to send it to every high school and college in the country. they have done everything they can to keep mr. pruitt from being investigated for a number of lapses. the heartland called on the president to continue supporting mr. pruitt. the letter said that the ten ethical investigationings into mr. pruitt amounted to, quote, an orchestrated political campaign by the president's enemies. heartland also supports a new proposed e.p.a. rule, and get
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this one, it's a new e.p.a. rule that will restrict the use of scientific studies in e.p.a. decision making that will restrict the use of science in e.p.a. decision making. the american association for the advancement of science, the american chemical society, the american lung association, the national council for science, and the environment are some of the 50 science organizations and higher education institutions that oppose the new rule, but the heartland institute is for this rule. and i want to be really clear about this. this isn't about someone having a conservative ideology or different view of what our energy future ought to be than mine. there is no left-wing equivalent of the institute that acts like this, brookings, the center for american progress, other left-leaning think tanks have dissents. others have legitimate academic
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discussions within the content of their philosophy. that is not what this is. these other think tanks do not ignore scientific fact because they are real think tax, but heartland is not a think tank in any true sense of the word. their work is focused not on analysis based on science, but trashing work based on science. the heartland institute sends a monthly newsletter about climate issues to every legislator in the country, state and federal. it's actually a pretty good-looking product. this is a copy of it. it's actually well done, well laid out, color, so it's not immediately obvious that it is not scientific. the people that quote on or rely on for data are almost from think tanks or front groups
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funded by the same people. this week they highlighted one of the policy analystses that said that oklahoma should not subsidize wind power. they claimed that wind energy is far less reliable and far more expensive than the power derived from fossil fuels. who benefits from that analysis. but the fact is that wind energy is now the largest source of renewable, reliable electricity generating capacity in the united states, and in oklahoma alone at least 30% of all power consumption coming from wind farms. subsidies for fossil fuels are 30 times those for clean energy. also in the april newsletter, heartland claims that natural gas has little effect on global temperatures, but recent studies show that it is vastly undercounted. the temperature data on the back cover is from a climate denier
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at university of alabama whose data is considered unreliable and bias by a vast majority of the scientific community. this is not natural normal dissent, this is not normal political dissent about what our energy future should be. these people are propagating propaganda. this is not the work of a legitimate think tank. a legitimate think tank does not ignore facts, it does not publish data from a denier who is known in the community for publishing workloaded with errors. they are pushing us away from science and doing the hard work of protecting our country's clean err and -- air and water so their donors can make as much money as possible. i was pleased with president macron's speech today. there was so much that he reminded us that we had in common, not just between america
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and france, but between democrats and republicans. as he reminded us of our great history together, as he reminded us of our cultural exchange, as he reminded us of our military cooperation, he also reminded us that our great democracies believe in science. we have to believe in science. we have to believe in expertise. and it is absolutely appropriate, i'm looking at the presiding officer, we do not share the same political philosophy, but we have to share the same set of facts. and that's what's so damaging about a so-called think tank like heartland. they are not aei or cap or brookings, they are not like any other think tank in washington, d.c., that on the level from the standpoint of their own political philosophy and their
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own objectives tries to get the right answer. that is an absolutely appropriate function for an institution to serve in this city. but what these guys do is not that, and i think it is very important that we draw a distinction between those that are relying upon facts and science and those that are not be that's why i wanted to point out what heartland was all about. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent to vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: mr. president, it is hard to find the words that will
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truly reflect what an abomination the campaign finance system in america has become. the fact is, the only people who seem happy with the current state of campaign finance are billionaires that have phones full of contact information of the most powerful people in the land. otherwise, if you're a typical american putting in on hard day's work, supporting your family, you just probably have a sense that the campaign finance laws are rigged for the big and the powerful. now, there was an era when running for office was as simple as putting your name out for the public. you'd go and get a few local
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civic groups in your concern. you'd bring in a few modest donations to get your campaign off the ground. certainly it's not that way anymore. it has now been well chronicled how a wave of money, particularly from a few secretive, powerful individuals like the koch brothers have flooded american politics in the last few decades. and that has grown exponentially in the years since the citizens united decision. the fact is there has been a titltidal wave of dark money bug influence across america's political system. this isn't just about too many political ads on television and
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radio. voters know that unless they unplug entirely and pretty much settle for a life out in the woods, they're going to see a lot of ads. but even beyond ads in the election season, there is this deluge of money buying the support of beltway think tanks, currying favor among lobbyist, funding so-called welfare organizations that, frankly, aren't doing a whole lot of social welfare. the bottom line is for those like the koch brothers having deep pockets means you can buy the right to grab hold of the levers of power of american government. and you can create a whole lot of noise that virtually drowns out the constituents back home.
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i'm heading home tomorrow, mr. president. i have about nine town hall meetings scheduled in rural communities. and they're always amazed that we're having those kinds of discussions. my colleague, senator merkley, does them as well because it seems that in most of the country, everything that resembles the government we know so well, direct contact, ope open-to-all town meetings, it's just getting drowned out, drowned out by a deluge of dollars that creates all of this noise, fake noise to use the language of the times, that drives out real discussion about subtaaboutsubstantive issues.
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i'm going to talk about an example and one that certainly has generated some real concern over the last few months. if you want to see what's wrong with the election system, in my view, you don't have to look much further than some of the letters that i have exchanged recently with the national rifle association. now, a few months ago, there were news reports of a potential financial relationship between a russian oligarch close to vladimir putin and the n.r.a. the big question was whether the russian money had been funneled into the n.r.a. to assist the trump campaign and influence the outcome of the election. in my view, i'd say that's a
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question that most right minded americans would like to have answered. i'm the ranking member of the senate finance committee. there we have jurisdiction over the federal tax code. that includes the rules that pertain to political groups and tax exempt 501c4 organizations like the ones that are maintained by the n.r.a. so i began in a series of letters that were sent to the organization, sent to the n.r.a., to ask questions about their foreign funding. and i will tell you the series of shifting answers i got in return from the n.r.a. was enough to give you whiplash.
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first, when we inquired, because we had seen all of these news reports, they said nothing to see here. then as we followed up and found that a little hard to square with these public news reports, they said, and i quote, well, we do get foreign funding. then they went on to say, but it's just one russian and that's it. then we heard another version of what was going on over at the n.r.a. they said it was a couple of dozen russians giving money to the n.r.a. so we continued to follow up,
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and they told the press and they told me, hey, we're done with the congress. we are annot interested -- we're not interested in answering any more questions. we're busy. we've got other things to do. and that pretty much sums up the problem that we heard described on the floor here this week with the campaign finance system. the information americans have access to in campaign finance reports is just the tip of the iceberg, just the beginning of unpacking this whole question of where the money comes from in our political system. everything under the water line is where it gets seedy but powerful interests have managed
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to figure out how to keep their handy work hidden. the powerful use shell companies to mask the identities of who is really funding campaigns and so-called independent expenditures. even simple questions asked of these powerful groups influencing campaigns, questions like do you get money from overseas. the congress and the american people cannot get a straight answer about. now, there are members who want to see real changes made to bring some sunlight into this system. and they see how important that this is giving the onslaught of attacks on the campaign finance laws that are coming from the supreme court. these attacks are one major
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reason why i've cosponsored legislation to create a constitutional amendment allowing congress and the states to regulate and restore faith in our campaign finance system. and i will say with respect to this approach, i didn't arrive at this judgment casually. constitutional amendments in my view ought to be reserved for those situations when the delicate balance set up by the founding fathers has been upset. or, in this case, jurisprudence that governs the system has also changed. that is the situation and the challenge our country faces today. i know that several members of this body have put policy ideas
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forward. many of them in my view have real merit. virtually all of them, in my view, would be an improvement on this rotten abomination of a campaign finance system that exists today. virtually every day, folks back home get inundated with these smarmy political ads sponsored by groups that have these names that are just nonsense. names like the american association for american values in america. there is one of these after another. i will hear what citizens think
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about this during those nine town hall meetings that i'm going to be having over the next few days at home. and citizens often say, it's really good to have our elected officials do this. sometimes they kid me we've got more cows than we've got voters, and still we're here to have this conversation. because that's what i think the american political system ought to be about, direct communication, ongoing discussion with voters, actually being there, having the people we have the honor to represent be able to look us in the eye, ask questions, and say, we want to hear your thoughts because we believe that's how we can hold you accountable. and the flip side of that judgment is, they don't think they can do it with the campaign
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finance system i've described today. and all of this is fed by these reports about lawmakers marching up to koch industries in order to plead for support for one proposal or another. and when people read these articles, they say, it sure feels like that's what the political system has become all about. and it's why i've done even more open all town hall meetings because that's one way that i can show that at least hon our watch that's what -- at least on our watch that's what we're doing to counter the fact that a handful of the most powerful, like the koch family, can generate a disproportionally
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loud voice in our system of government. the fact is the campaign finance system is broken. it is long past time to fix it. i have appreciated colleagues coming to the floor this week to speak out on it. i believe, as has been written, that this series of letters that i've exchanged with the n.r.a. just over the last few months is a textbook case of how broken the campaign finance system is. what happens when powerful organizations and individuals like the koch family can have a disproportional -- disproportionally large voice in the political system, and i
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think the senate ought to get about to the business of fixing this system and ending the current way in which political campaigns are financed, which as i said when i began my remarks is such an abomination that it doesn't pass the smell test. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. merkley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. we're at a critical moment in world history, filled with ee -- filled with dangers.
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riewsh is attacking -- russia is attacking the foundation of democracy around the world, developing new tools to move public opinion in countries other than its own while hiding behind robotic machines. we have critical talks about to occur over the effort to denuclearize the korean peninsula. syria is not just in the grip of a civil war, it's in the grip of a fractured chaotic state that has resulted in destruction of cities and towns throughout the nation, leaving them as destroyed shells of buildings with infrastructure completely decimated. we have a humanitarian crisis in burma and bangladesh with
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massive ethnic cleansing. we have four famines unfolding in africa. there's more in everyplace you look of these challenges, challenges related to the corruption of foreign governments, to climate chaos, to civil conflict. we need a secretary of state who can help navigate our country in these difficult times. we need to be able to work with neighbors around the world, with allies around the world exercising diplomacy in partnership with the strength of the united states. i come do the floor -- i come to the floor to share that i have grave doubts that mike pompeo does not bring the right skills to this job. i'm concerned about his choice of military action over diplomacy in a position that is supposed to which are the art of
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diplomacy to its full execution. i'm concerned about his statements of disrespect and dishonor to the fundamental nature of our constitution under the first article that calls for congress to be able to open the door to the exercise of military power, not the president. and i'm concerned about his deep-rooted conflicts of interest that may prevent him from tackling one of the gravest threats to humans on this planet, namely climate change. so i will be voting against his nomination and felt testimony only appropriate to -- and felt it only appropriate to share more of my concerns. let's start with the issue of diplomacy. the united states led the world in working to stop the uranium uranium -- iranian nuclear program, working with other countries to say that this was
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absolutely unacceptable and bringing to bear such international pressure that iran said we will agree to that. we will agree to that. we will dismantle our nuclear power plant, our plutonium plant. we'll fill it with concrete. we will proceed to eliminate its -- their stockpile of uranium enriched up to%. they a -- 20%. they agreed to cut uranium by 98%, to profoundly reduce the gas centrifuges, shutting down two-thirds of them. on top of that iran agreed to the most aggressive and furthest reaching inspection that the atomic agency has had, giving us profound insights of the operations of their nuclear program or the dismantlement of
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their program. yet, director pompeo has condemned this effort in diplomacy to stop the uranium program. he told us it was unneeded because iran wasn't pursuing a nuclear weapon. quite interesting. but iran was pursuing, clearly developing all the elements necessary to have a nuclear weapon, and that was a significant threat to the united states of america and this agreement stops that threat in its traction. he condemned it, not just saying it wasn't necessary, but that it showed negotiations occurred where we should have shown strength, and he said the united states bowed when we should have stood tall. what did he mean about that? he meant that we didn't need an agreement to stop the iranian nuclear program, he meant that we could stop their nuclear
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program with, as he put it, 2,000 sorties, and said it is not an insurmountable task for the united states coalition forces. simply carrying the sword and saying that we can stop other nations from doing things by bombing them is not the expertise we need in a secretary of state. and then there is mr. pompeo's attacks on the muslim community, falsely claiming that islamic leaders were silent in the face of terrorist attacks like the boston marathon bombing. it was not true but he chose to attack muslim americans and single them out for assault. he said that they were complicit and failed in the commitment to
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peace, not even bothering to get the facts in advance. and then there is his longstanding opposition to the rights of the lgbtq americans. much of what we try to do around the world is lay out a vision of opportunity for all. that we should quit slamming doors in the face of individuals around the globe who are pursuing personal happiness and opportunity and success, just as we try to end the door slamming here at home, the discrimination, the prejudice, the hatred, the bigotry, but mrg the end of discrimination a shock and abuse of power when the supreme court ruled in obergerfel. not only that but when he went to the c.i.a. and the mother of matthew shepherd was scheduled to give a speech on hate crimes,
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he canceled at the last second her speech. he did not want the mother of a victim of hate crimes to talk about an lgbt american strapped to a wire fence left to die. shouldn't that be the sort of speech that should be given about our respect for all americans and about how much we stand against hate crimes? that's very disturbing when you go into a world where respect for people of every religion, from everier part of the world -- from every part of the world is part of the negotiating power and strength of america. if you disrespect people, they do not join us in partnership to solve problems. so that's my concerns on the diplomacy side. i'm also concerned that he expressed complete lack of interest in the constitutional
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power invested in article 1. that is the article for congress to declare war. he indicated that the president had unlimited power in article 2, the ability to conduct a war after congress has authorized it, but he seemed to completely overlook that first step of congressional authorization. we have tried to encapsulize that congressional authorization in the war powers act, making it clear that the president cannot take us to war without a declaration of war, or second without explicit authorizations through something like an authorization for the use of military force, or without a direct emergency involving an i am inept attack on the united states, our assets, or our forces. that's the war powers act that embodies the heart of the constitution about the conduct, the ability of the limitations
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on the president to start a war. it is given to congress to decide whether or not we can go to war, and mr. pompeo does not agree with that important, important congressional factor. i don't know, quite frankly, how one can take the oath of office and not respect the constitution as it delivers that power to this body, not to the president. my -- my third concern goes to the conflict of interest that he brought into consideration for this position. specifically -- and i will wrap this up in a moment so we can proceed with the closing pieces, but the lack -- the conflict of interest that he carries into his career through his very, very close association with the
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koch brothers. he has been given the nickname, the congressman from koch. the headquarters of koch industries is located in his district. the koch brothers gave him the money to start his business. the koch brothers were the biggest donors to his campaign. his entire career carefully intertwined with the koch brothers and advocating for whatever they wanted him to advocate for. and yet, what we see is that the koch brothers are advocating against us working with other nations to take on the challenge of climate chaos. now, mother nature sent us a big rude awakening last year with three powerful hurricanes tearing apart parts of our country, and with forest fires stretching from montana across the pacific ocean and down the pacific coast deep into california because of the carbon pollution that's warming the seas and changing the weather patterns, drying out our
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forests, and we suffered that. but we see so much more. we see the moose die. we see the lobsters migrating. we see the oysters unable to have babies. a billion of them died back about the time i took office here in the senate because of the acidification of the ocean coming from carbon pollution. the whole world is coming together to try to take on this problem, but mr. pompeo is uninterested in this major threat facing humanity. some ports are disengaging from the international community and taking this on. he is fine letting china take the lead and producing economic results of taking the lead instead of the united states taking the lead and being engaged in these partnerships. so, colleagues, those are my -- my concerns. we need an individual dedicated to the power of diplomacy, not someone who reaches first for the sword. we need an individual who
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respects different religions and respects the opportunity in the united states that we carry to the world as a beacon of freedom, not someone who disrespects it. and third, an individual whose career is not tied to a single industry and whose outlook is to continue to protect that industry even in taking this job. so for those reasons, this nomination should be turned down. thank you, mr. president. mr. tillis: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: i ask unanimous consent that the senate resume legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to immediate consideration of calendars 363, s. res. 429. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 363, senate resolution 429, commemorating the 59th
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anniversary of tibet's 1959 uprising as tibetan rights day, and so forth. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i further ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to immediate consideration of s. 2758, which is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 2758, a bill to amend title 36 united states code to provide for the display of the national league of families pow-mia flag at the world war i memorials. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. i further ask consent that the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening
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action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration and the senate now proceed to s. res. 401. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 401, designating may 5, 2018, as the national day of awareness for missing and murdered native women and girls. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged, and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and that the motions to consider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the senate now proceed to the en bloc consideration of the following senate resolutions which were submitted earlier today -- s. res. 483, s. res. 484, and s. res. 485. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, the senate will proceed to the measures en
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bloc. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the resolutions be agreed to, the preambles be agreed to, and that the motions to consider be considered made and laid upon the table, all en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 9:30 a.m. thursday, april 26. further, that following the prayer and the pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. finally, mr. president, i ask the following -- that following leader remarks, the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the pompeo nomination, with the time until 12:00 noon tomorrow equally divided between the two leaders or their designees. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order following the comments of senator blumenthal. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. tillis: thank you. mr. blumenthal: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i'm here to talk about money and politics and even more insidiously and potentially perniciously money in government. the money in politics begins with the president's nominee to be secretary of state, mike pompeo. and i want to suggest to my colleagues that they read an article that appeared in open, the center for responsive politics. i ask that it be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: with the headline trump picks top koch recipient for secretary of
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state. and it says, quote, former kansas congressman whose political career was paid by koch industries, end quote, received more money than others in similar situations. the reasons to vote against mike pompeo are many, but one of the principal ones is that he was one of the chief recipients of money from the koch brothers or their organization. in fact, since his first bid for congress in 2010, pompeo has received $400,000 from koch industries, $335,000 from
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employee contributions, and $65,000 from its corporate pac, the center for responsive politics. the pompeo nomination is a poster boy for the impact of money and politics. the influence of the koch brothers on this administration and the enduring effect of campaign contributions, of influence by and peddling in government. the koch brothers are blatantly using their influence in the trump administration to advance an agenda based on their own self-interest at the expense of our democracy, and they have reached into the uppermost
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level, an echelon of this administration through individuals they have supported like mike pompeo over years and years. the president said in july of 2015, two weeks before he kicked off his campaign for president through a tweet, quote, i really like the koch brothers, parenthesis, members of my palm beach club, end paren think sis, but i don't want their money or anything else from them. cannot influence trump, exclamation mark, end quote. well, they are good friends, they are members of the club, and nobody can deny their influence on donald trump and their impact on this administration and their enduring, egregious effects on
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public policy. if you ever wondered where republican ideological position originated on lowering corporate taxes, undercutting health care or loosening environmental regulations, look no further than a koch front group named americans for prosperity. american prosperity is the recipient of the largest grants made by another organization called freedom partners. "politico" describes freedom partners as, quote, the koch brothers' secret bank, end quote. the group pedals dark money to front groups who drum up public support for policies that benefit the richest of the rich. the americans for prosperity as an organization has been called
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by "the washington post", quote, the third largest political party in the united states, end quote. it was founded in 2004 by david koch who serves as the chairman of the board, and he's crammed the group with republican operatives, many of them work for the president. they operate in 36 states. they are heavily involved in electoral activity, spending millions of dollars on tv ads that spread information -- disinformation, i should say, falsely claiming that the middle class will benefit from policies designed to enrich the millionaire backers and billionaire backers of americans for prosperity. the organizations backed by these two groups and others have consistently claimed that tax cuts for the wealthy will
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benefit all americans. they have consistently argued for measures that cause environmental degradation. in fact, the koch's repeal regulations that protect the environment and put limits on polluting fossil fuel companies, repealing those regulations designed to accomplish that goal. americans for prosperity drives the koch energy agenda. the group spent millions lobbying for its industry-backed champion, scott pruitt, to head the environmental protection agency, as well as others nominated for e.p.a. and energy department position -- an energy department position. once they were in place, these cronies wasted no time in seeking to dismantle these
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environmental regulations, prohibiting oil and gas drilling on federal lands, withdrawing from the clean power plan aimed at cutting u.s. greenhouse gas emissions and revoking a moratorium on new coal leases. there are other examples of influence buying american political history but none so egregious as the koch brothers in this administration. we saw most recently their influence on the judiciary and suppressing the vote. the koch brothers are throwing a lot of money behind the nominations of judges who are poised to rule in their favor undermining judicial precedent and the rule of law.
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its network is helping donald trump stack the courts with far right ideologues. donald trump entered office with more than a hundred vacancies on the federal bench, an opportunity created in part by senate republicans who blocked many of barack obama's nominees before he left office. judges enjoy lifetime appointments. if the koch brothers succeed in rigging the judiciary against the needs of everyday americans, the effects will be felt for generations to come. americans for prosperity is also behind shameless efforts to suppress the vote. it has launched disinformation campaigns, sending out bogus registration mailings with incorrect deadlines in swing states like north carolina and wisconsin. and when challenged, americans
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for prosperity claim these blatant lies with a result of clerical errors. our nation needs prosperity, but not an influence-peddling organization that claims to be for prosperity but in fact leads to policies that undermine the prosperity of everyday americans. my reasons for opposing mike pompeo's nomination go well beyond the campaign contributions he has received. his views are contrary to american values. he has repeatedly devalued and dismissed religious tolerance. he's allied himself with antiislam and anti-lgbt groups at a time when the environment
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our children will inherit hangs in the balance. he's a career-long climate change denier, drowning in dark money from the koch brothers' oil industries, and his regressive views on reproductive rights jeopardize the health care of millions of women around the world. if confirmed, he will be responsible for executing donald trump's misguided policies, and he will reenforce donald trump's misguided instincts. expanding, for example, the global gag rule that prevents foreign aid from being provided to global health programs that discuss or provide abortion services, and he would cut programs covering everything from h.i.v. prevention to maternal and child health to epidemic disease response putting our lives in risk.
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money and politics has reached its apex in this administration. and not only in politics but in governance. just within the last day or so, the president's director of office and policy management gave a speech to a group of bankers in which he said, quote, we had a hierarchy in my office in congress. if you were a lobbyist who never gave us money, i didn't talk you to. if you were a lobbyist who gave us money, i might talk to you. that quote from mick mulvaney, the head of the office of money and budget was made to a group of bankers, about 1,300 of them
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in plain view and hearing by the american public. first, the idea that a lobbyist would have to pay in order to have access to a member of congress or this administration raises the potential of bribery, extortion, pay to play. and it is pay to play and the imagine of it that has -- this town and government in general that president trump swayed so many people by describing it as a swamp. well, the swamp has been
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deepened and it has been further polluted by exactly this kind of talk. and i will say to mick mulvaney, you are destroying the credibility and trust of the american people in many of the very honest and able of our colleagues who come to work every day and try to help and serve the american people. some of them still work in the federal government at high levels in fear of losing their jobs because they adhere to a standard of integrity that no longer prevails. in fact, the mind set and mentality of pay to play has become the new normal in this administration. it is filled with people at the
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highest levels who garner unbridled and unapologetic graph as the new normal. that's what that quote says to the average american. it's typical of the practices of the administrator of the e.p.a. who accepts virtually free lodging from a lobbyist who has access to him as well as taking luxury flights and staying in exorbitantly expensive hotels at the taxpayers' expense, conflicts of interest, ethical violation, and other kinds of betrayal of public trust have been commonplace at the top levels of the e.p.a. it is the mindset of the president of the united states
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who literally every day accepts benefits from foreign governments and payments in violation of the united states constitution, specifically in violation of the emollients clause that prohibits such payments without consent of congress. donald trump has never come to the united states congress seeking approval for the payments and benefits that go to the trump organization which he still owns. that failure is a violation of the emollients clause of the united states constitution. it is the reason that 200 of us, members of congress, have brought legal action to vindicate our trust, the trust of the american people that the constitution will be followed and that we will do our job and
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we have standing to bring that action. because the president of the united states is preventing us from reviewing those payments and benefits that go to him which we have an obligation to review under the united states constitution. that case will be heard in court in june. i hope the courts will vindicate the rule of law. i hope that we will see an end to this corrosive and corrupting impact of money and poll tick -- money and politics and money and government. contempt of the rule of law that betrays the trust of the american people. the washington, d.c., that is
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conveyed by these quotes and action by officials at the very top of our government are not my washington. they are not the washington, d.c. of many of our colleagues, honest and hardworking in this chamber and the house of representatives and in the executive and judicial branches who continue to do their job. and among them are two of our colleagues, johnny isakson and jon tester. senator isakson of georgia and senator tester of montana have helped to lead the veterans affairs committee over the past few days as it raises concerns and questions about the serious allegation made by men and women in uniform or retired active duty military.
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these concerns go directly to the ethics and integrity and character and ability of the president's nominee to be v.a. secretary, ronnie jackson, a rear admiral in the united states navy. there is no realistic path at this point to confirmation of admiral jackson. he should have a hearing if he wishes. he should be considered if he chooses, but the administration owes the american people as we8l as the senate answers to questions raised by the chairman and ranking member of the v.a. committee. i have talked to both of them about this investigation as well as the staff and have participated in their thinking and support their efforts to uncover the truth. facts are stubborn things.
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that's what ronald reagan said. it remains true even more so today in this inquiry. the administration has failed to vet this nomination. it has failed abjectly to uncover the truth before it submitted this nomination. it owes the truth and the facts now to the senate before there is any hearing. documents and evidence should be provided and the administration should reverse course if necessary and make sure that full access is provided to all of these documents in evidence. as recently as years, members of the v.a. committee were barred from reviewing the f.b.i. background check. the inspector general's report of 2012 on rear admiral jackson
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was not provided to our committee. other relevant evidence and documents may exist but they have been denied. i urge the administration to provide the facts, respond to the question, address the serious allegations that have been made because they are consistent and credible and compelling. the more time goes on, the more serious and substantial these allegations become in their detail and depth and power. time is not on their side, and so far the administration has failed abjectly, failed to
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respond. i thank senators isakson and tester for their leadership, their insistence on integrity and character because our veterans deserve it. most important, our veterans deserve the very best leader, not one who will be encumbered by the baggage of allegations unrefuted and unrebutted so far. our veterans deserve the very best in health care and employment opportunities and skill training. our veterans deserve that we keep faith with them and choose the very best leader, with experience in management as well as a commitment to the high standards of integrity that befit the veterans administration. it has seen problems. it needs improvement and reforms. the path forward for the v.a. is
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with a person and a leader who has unimpeachable integrity, and i thank senators isakson and tester for their leadership in insistence on that high bar in the veterans administration, for the sake of our country. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the the presiding officer: the >> the senate continued to be of the nomination pale for secretary of state. at noon eastern tomorrow were expected a procedural vote and the final confirmation vote. later there'll be a few votes on the nominee to be u.s. ambassador to germany.
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the senate is live on c-span two. >> saturday, live coverage of the 16th annual annapolis book festival starts at 10:00 a.m. eastern. it includes chris matthews with his book, bobby kennedy. white house correspondent april ryan with her book. tech entrepreneur with a book in the coming age of artificial intelligence. watch live coverage of the annapolis book festival on saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span two on book tv


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