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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  November 29, 2018 9:59am-12:00pm EST

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promises. >> without objection. >> thank you. >> and just under the wire. so, the record will remain open until thursday and in including for members who may not have been present to submit questions for the record. thank you again, and thank you, senator merkley, for our continued partnership. this hearing is now adjourned. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the u.s. senate continues work on nominations today. one is for thomas farr a north carolina attorney to work on congressional redistricting and voter i.d. laws in that state.
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he's being considered to be a federal judge in north carolina's eastern district. also today votes to limit debate on a federal appeals court judge confirmation and for the next consumer financial protection bureau director. live senate coverage now here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. lord, through all generations you have been the source of our hope and strength. we are astounded by the majesty
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of your sovereignty for a thousand years for you are like a few hours. today, inspire our lawmakers to think your thoughts and follow your precepts, seeking always to be receptive to your guidance. may they strive to reach agreement on critical issues rather than simply to win debates. as they march to the drumbeat of your leading, strengthen them with your powerful presence. may they trust you to bring unity within their diversity. we pray in your great name.
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amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: this week the senate has taken important steps to fulfill our advise and consent sphonts on the -- responsibility on the president's nominees. we ended unnecessary delays that kept well qualified individuals from filling important posts at the departments of agriculture and commerce and confirmed both of them. now on an entirely different
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matter, madam president, i'm sorry to say it's time to begin offering thanks and farewells to members whose senate service will conclude at the end of the 115th congress. today i'd like to begin with our friend, the senior senator from nevada. it doesn't feel much like much of an exaggeration to say that dean heller may have been destined for public service. i don't just mean his eagerness to serve or his outgoing personality. there were other signs. for example, one of the stops on his childhood paper route in carson city was the governor's mansion itself. talk about early civic involvement. at every step of the way from successful businessman to his local and statewide races, all the way here to the capitol,
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dean earned the respect of his neighbors and constituents by following the hardworking example set by his parents. his mother worked as a cook in a school cafeteria. his father an auto mechanic who raced stock cars on the side. and their son grew up to be the only sitting senator i'd trust to replace my tran mission. -- transmission. when most politicians use phrases like rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty, they're usually referring to things like late night negotiating or taking tough votes. in other words, more talking. not dean heller. he means it literally. as dean likes to say, here in washington during the week he works with the people of nevada but at home on the weekends,
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there he works for his wife, lynn, on the ranch they keep up together. but let it not be said that even in the midst of hard labor, dean isn't cablable of -- capable of multitasking. after all, sometimes official duties just can't wait. so i have it on good authority that on one occasion dean had to field a surprise phone call from president obama on his cell while standing right in the middle of a ditch. and another time he took a call from president trump and talked business right there in the aisle of a home improvement store. something about this image seems just right. not talking, not posturing, doing. that's dean heller, isn't it? he didn't come to washington to court praise for rhetoric or
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become a tv star. he came here to do. in just seven years dean has authored or helped introduce 100 pieces of legislation that are now law. perhaps first and foremost, he's built a reputation as one of the senate's chief advocates for our veterans. dean shares his home state with more than 200,000 men and women who have served our nation, including one he calls dad. keeping the promise of topnotch v.a. services across nevada's widespread rural communities is no small task. the facilities in reno in particular weren't always up to the job. but day in and day out dean has made it his mission to right the ship. as a member of the veterans affairs committee, he's fought to expand access to care, contributing key provisions to the v.a. mission act, and spearheading the 21st century
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veterans benefits delivery act. it's a legacy that's already making a difference for our veterans. but these are hard lir the only vict -- hardly the only victories dean won for nevada and our nation. he came to the senate in 2011 representing a state that had been hit hard by the great recession and was trying hard to regain its footing. nevada communities faced ballooning foreclosure rates and persistent unemployment. fortunately their new senator was intent on hooking up the economic jumper cables and getting things humming once more. dean has seized opportunity to champion an economic agenda that puts workers and job creators back in the driver's seat. he was the driving force behind the once in a generation tax reform passed last december. it's put more money in the pockets of working families. it's pouring a new 21st
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century foundation for american businesses to compete when and create more jobs right here at home. so today nevada is doing better. our nation is flourishing. and dean heller was there every step of the way. he was especially instrumental in making sure that tax reform increased the child tax credit. dean knew that working parents need the money more than the i.r.s. does. nevada veterans, nevada workers, nevada families, dean never lost sight of the reason he came here to washington. he's been a happy warrior here in the trenches with a ready grin and an iron determination to do right by his friends and neighbors. also i have on good authority that seeing dean in action back home in his natural habitat is truly a sight to behold. his joy at every conversation,
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every handshake around carson city is palpable. nevadans are dean's people, always have been and he's always been theirs, too. according to some of the staff who travel around the state with him, it's practically impossible to make any brief stops anywhere at a fast food restaurant or a sporting goods store or even a gas station, dean would inevitably run into friends and set about swapping stories and carson city inside jokes. and on the rare occasions when dean didn't know the proprietor or fellow customers, no trouble. no trouble. he'd have a room full of new
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friends in about three minutes flat. i'm told it never got old for the people around dean to witness the energy he drew from his friend, neighbors, and constituents. he was delighted to be one of them and honored to be their employee, a man of the people. not a cliche in this case. a reality. you don't need to take my word for it. i hear there is objective evidence out there. his object -- photographs from the nevada day parade in carson city. suffice it to say it takes a certain kind of person to steal the show. riding horseback, dressed head to toe in full western ra gaylia like john wayne. no wonder his grand kids know
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him as duke. duke. his boss len might very well have put him up to it. i hear she rides right there alongside him but dean's no newcomer to the parade. in fact, it's the very same parade he marched in as a scout years ago. if you read that story in a book, you'd think it was almost too earnest and too all american to be true. but that is dean heller. he's the paper boy who started out delivering the headlines and wounded up making the headlines. the senator who still saddles up for the same parade from his childhood memories.
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one of northern nevada's favorite sons and a dedicated servant of the entire silver state. so, madam president, dean's colleagues are really sorry to see him go. for a leader with this much heart and this much talent, any departure would feel premature. this one certainly does. but i doubt dean will have trouble finding good uses for a little more spare time. i know he and lynne must be looking forward to saddling up their horses and setting out for the sierras a little more often than they've been able to lately. and i hear he could use a little bit of rehearsal time before he leaves the heller family band through its repertoire of christmas carols this year. lead trombone, lead properly
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bone -- lead properly bone is no laughing matter. maybe he'll even find time to get back in the driver's seat for a race or two. so whatever it is that dean does next, whatever it is, he should take with him great pride in all that he's accomplished here. in a policy legacy -- and a policy legacy that will continue lifting up our nation's veterans, workers, and middle-class families literally for years and years to come. and the sincere best wishes of the friends he's made here in this chamber for health, happiness, and every future success for himself, for lynne, and for their entire lovely family.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. schumer: madam president. are we in a quorum? the presiding officer: we are. the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: madam president, later this afternoon, the senate is scheduled to vote on the confirmation of mr. thomas farr for the eastern district of north carolina. i have made my opposition to this nominee clear on a daily basis, but allow me to remind my colleagues to recap before this vote just what we're doing here. we are being asked to confirm the go-to guy in north carolina if you need a lawyer to defend voter suppression. some might think that's hyperbolic, but i sincerely ask my colleagues not to go for
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hyperbole, but to look at the evidence. mr. farr was the lead lawyer in defending north carolina's discriminatory congressional maps drawn by the state's republicans which were struck down by the supreme court as unconstitutional. this is a very conservative supreme court, which is mostly -- which has been mostly unsympathetic to arguments of disenfranchisement, as evidenced by the shelby county case, but in this instance, they could not help but overturn the map for racial discrimination, despite the evidence provided by mr. farr. mr. farr was also the lead lawyer in defense of north carolina's insidious voter i.d. law which the supreme court ruled, quote, target african americans with almost surgical precision, unquote. targeted african americans with almost surgical precision. north carolina's republicans designed the law after asking
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for and receiving data sorted by race on voting practices. mr. farr not only defended the law, he described the voting restrictions, which forbade the use of government employee i.d., student i.d., and i.d.'s used for public assistance as, quote, a minor inconvenience. that's only mr. farr's recent history involving voter suppression. if we go back and look at campaign of senator jesse helms in 1990, mr. farr represented the helms campaign and defended it against accusations that it sent over 120,000 postcards almost exclusively to black voters that falsely warned them they could be charged with a crime if they tried to vote -- falsely, falsely warned them. the mailers were sent after statistics emerged that african american registration was outpacing white voter registration. the sordid history of mr. farr's
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efforts to suppress voting goes back even further. mr. farr was a member of senator jesse helms' 1984 campaign. in that campaign, he wasn't merely a hired gun. avenues close legal associate of senator helms, a man that david broder called, the last unabashed white racist in this country. in that 1984 campaign, according to memoranda by the voting rights section of the department of justice, mr. farr was involved in the so-called, quote, valid security, unquote, program run by the helms' campaign in the north carolina republican party. the ballot security program included sending postcards to minority voters in an effort to suppress voting. in 2006, mr. farr's association with this noxious voter
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suppression attempts was enough to deny him confirmation to this very seat. in the intervening years, he has not repented or even moved on to different issues. he's still defending attempts to disenfranchise african american voters. i'm not from north carolina, but if i were, i'd be embarrassed to have this man nominated and placed on the federal bench. it takes but an ounce of principle to say, no, i'm not defending discrimination and voter suppression. and yet time and time and time again, not just 1984, not just 1990, but 2013 and 2015, mr. thomas farr has stepped up to the plate to represent and defend voter suppression in the court of law. and we're being asked to reward him, reward him for these activities with a lifetime appointment as a federal bench
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in a district that's 20% african american, where he will have the power to make decisions on voting rights and civil rights for a generation. i prevail upon the conscience of my republican colleagues, who i know want to be fair to this man -- look at the body of evidence impartially. there is simply a preponderance of evidence that mr. farr was involved, often intimately, in decades of voter suppression in north carolina. the standard for this vote is not whether or how mr. farr should be punished or excoriated for what he did, but a much higher one -- whether a man with this history deserves to be elevated to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. whether you're a republican or democrat, a liberal or
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conservative, that has to be -- has to be -- disqualifying for a seat on the federal bench. now, on another matter, the special counsel's investigation. to date, the special counsel's investigation has produced no less than 35 indictments or plea deals -- 35. and that does not include two additional guilty pleas of people initially investigated by mueller but were handed off to other branches of the justice department. just this morning michael cohen has pled guilty to lying to congress about projects in russia. it's a reminder that there's been a remarkable volume of criminal activity uncovered by the special counsel's investigation. no one, especially not the president, can credibly claim that the investigation is a fishing expedition. calling mueller's investigation a witch hunt is just a lie, plain and simple -- a lie.
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the president's actions clearly show he has a lot to hide, that he is afraid of the truth. and he doesn't want mueller or anyone else to uncover it. but it hasn't stopped the president from repeating these lies. in fact, in recent days, president trump has escalated his attack on special counsel mueller, almost daily, the president's twitter feed is literated with baseless accusations about the investigation s president trump retweeted an image of several of his opponents, including deputy attorney general rosenstein, behind bars. can you believe that, the deputy attorney general behind bars? and this is the man, the president, our republican colleagues refuse to call out against? just yesterday president trump said this about a potential
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pardon for paul manafort, now accused of lying to prosecutors and violating his plea agreement. he said, quote, i wouldn't take it off the table. why would i take it off the table? that's a pardon. let's not forget, president trump has already fired the attorney general and replaced him with a lackey without senate approval. the nominee's only qualification seems to be that he has a history of criticizing the special counsel. so this idea that we don't need to pass legislation to protect the special counsel because there's no way president trump will interfere with the investigation is flat out absurd. i once again call on my friend, the majority leader, to schedule a vote on the bipartisan bill to protect the special counsel. if he continues to refuse, we will push for the bill in the year-end spending agreement.
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i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, thomas alvin farr of north carolina to be united states district judge for the eastern district of north carolina. mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, the clock is ticking and the days are passing us by, but we know we have a deadline to meet on december 7, and if we don't meet that deadline, then there will be a lot of lives disrupted and a lot of people will say, there they go again. congress is unable to work together to try to solve
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problems and just creating more distrust and undermining confidence in our ability to actually do our jobs, to govern. what i want to talk about specifically is this fight over border funding because that's what the deadline is on december 7. our democratic friends have said, we are not going to fund president trump's wall. on the other hand, we see caravans of people coming from central america, coming through mexico, closing down the ports of entry at the san i didn't see trowbridge between tijuana and san diego. and what i fear is we have made a parody out of what the problem is. we have thought about pentagon challenge of border security and immigration in too small a way and not given the complete picture of what the challenges really are. i just have to believe that if
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we were willing to acknowledge the facts that we would be more inclined to work together to solve the problem. and i feel like we're looking at these problems like we're looking through a soda straw. i've heard people talk about the humanitarian crisis at the border there in tijuana caused by this huge caravan of central americans that want to storm the barriers and enter the united states illegally. and people questioning, why would we want -- why would we stop them? why would they use nonlethal means like tear gas and pepperer spray, like president obama did during his administration, and which now customs and border protection is doing again in order to protect the sovereignty of our country and to protect our borders from those who would enter it illegally? so let's not look at this
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through a soda straw. let's open up the aperture and look at the large problem because it is a very serious problem and it affects many lives, both here, in mexico, and in central america. our democratic colleagues have offered a lot of criticism of the trump administration when it comes to border security, but anytime you ask them, well, what is your solution, what are you offering as an alternative, it's crickets, complete science's silence. in other words, they're not offering any constructive solutions, just criticism. our constituents deserve more than just for us to criticize one another. they deserve us working together to try to come up with solutions. this is a crisis that has arisen as a result of our inability to acknowledge that this is a
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failure to enforce our immigration laws, a failure to fix our broken immigration system and a failure to fix our borders. coming from texas, representing 28 million constituents in a state which has a 1,200 common border with mexico, this affects my constituents and my state directly. we're at ground zero. and i've tried my best to get educated about the problem and potential solutions. in my trips to the border, talking to people in border communities who live and work in those communities, talking to our heroic border patrol agents and visited our ports of entry where millions and even billions of dollars of commerce flow legally between the united states and mexico. that's important not only to our border communities but to jobs here in the united states. the border community whose rely on the flow of legal commerce
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through or ports know that without border security, legitimate trade can easily be brought to a standstill. in fact, that's exactly what's happened at san ysidro, the point of entry between san diego and tijuana. they had to shut down point of entry, so people whose jobs depend on those ports of entry and the trade and commerce that goes on between our countries, they are the ones who are being hurt by the uncontrolled disruption of legal immigration. any disruption of legitimate trade has an immediate impact on the businesses and the employees and affects the livelihoods of our border residents. an unsecured border creates avenues for the entry of drug cartels and transnational criminal gangs to exploit, because they're the same people who are facilitating the passage
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of migrants from central america to our borders. those are the same people who are transiting the heroin. 90% of which comes from mexico, which contributes to our opioid crisis here in the united states. and as i've mentioned before, last year the center for disease control estimates 72,000 americans died of a drug overdose. about 50,000 of those from some form of opioid, either prescription drugs, sunsettic, fentanyl -- synthetic, fentanyl, or heroin, coming across the same borders that these migrants are attempting to storm across. and the people who are organizing that, as i said, are the same people. they are the drug cartels who are getting rich because we have not found a way to come together to fix our border, to reform our
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laws, and come together to try to protect the people that we represent. -- in the process. we know that the gangs, the cartels, and the transnational criminal organizations are ever-evolving, and they're always adapting. they spread terror. they pray on the week. and they have taken control over large swaths of mexico and central america. they are, as i've said before, commodity agnostic. they don't really care whether they're trafficking children for sex or heroin that will cause an overdose in the united states or a migrant who just wants a better life in the united states because -- well, because they want a better life. the same people facilitate that for money. on average, i've read, that a migrant from central america has to pay about $8,000.
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you multiply that $8,000 times the thousands and thousands, last year 2017 there were almost 400,000 migrants detained at our southwestern border of the so just multiply that number times $8,000, and you get just a glimpse of what we're talking about in a huge criminal enterprise, and we're continuing to enrich these cartels and transnational criminal organizations when we fail to do our job when it comes to securing our border and fixing our broken immigration system. this is more than just about whether president trump gets his money for the wall. as a matter of fact, many of our democratic colleagues voted in i think it was 2006 for the secure fence act which calls for 700 miles of secure fencing along the southwestern border. so they've already voted for
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tactical infrastructure that is part of the piece of the puzzle of securing our border. yet they stand intransigent against an effort to try to improve border security now, even though they've supported a similar funding in the past. we know that the cartels, as i said, are very shrewd, they're adaptive, and they are always evolving. they know if they can tie up the border patrol with processing children and family units, that they can't -- those same border patrol aren't available to stop the drugs that come across the border. so it's a method of distracting the border patrol and law enforcement so they can exploit that vulnerability for the purposes of bringing those drugs into the united states. well, when i want to learn more
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about what's happening at the border, i talked to my constituents in the customs and border protection business, like chief manny padia who is the chief of the rio grande valley sector of the border patrol. and border patrol chief karla provo. customs and border protection does all it can do with the tools available to it to stop flows of illegal immigration and to stop illegal contraband including drugs from making it across the border. but they need our help. we have basically not given them the tools they need in order to do the job we've asked them to do. shame on us. we know the cartels, as i say, are cunning. i've seen vegetables that appear to be watermelons or other vegetables that basically contain heroin or fentanyl or some other illegal drug. it's amazing the creativity of the cartels.
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i've seen them put human beings, migrants into the up poll industry -- upholstery of the seat of a care or pack them in a truck or put them in an 18-wheeler. unfortunately, sometimes leaving them to die as a result of exposure to heat and other conditions. we also know that these same organizations traffic women and children through central america and enslave them essentially here in the united states. they traffic them for sex. again to generate money because that's all they care about. the operations of these cartels are increasingly sophisticated, and they're always diversifying their income streams to avoid detection and defeat our efforts to stop it. they're strategic about when and how they cross the border and they developed this strategy over many years. but to put it simply, they're
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taking advantage of and exploiting our inability to deal with our poorest border and a lot of innocent people are getting hurt in the process. so again this is more than just about funding president trump's border wall. this is about our pulling back and looking at the complexity of this problem and using our very best efforts in order to stop it. but somehow it becomes trivialized over a fight over tactical infrastructure that our democratic colleagues have already voted for in the past under the secure fence act. the instability and violence created by the criminal organizations in central mexico is part of the strategy. violence unfortunately is at an all-time high in mexico. that's one of the reasons president lopez obrador was elected. he said he wanted to decrease
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the violence in mexico. i learned recently that more people have died in mexico since 2007 than have died in the wars in afghanistan and iraq combined. it's terrible. and we need to work together to try to stop it. we know gangs control much of el salvador and as a result, many central americans have their lives and safety threatened daily. it's no wonder they try to flee. but the united states cannot bare the burden of this crisis alone. i believe that the united states is the most generous country in the world when it comes to legal immigration. we've always considered ourselves a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. and we see what happens when the law is ignored and when congress fails to fix the problem to the best of our ability. we see uncontrolled illegal immigration. we see thousands of people banning together in caravans
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trying to storm our ports of entry into the country, overrun our customs and border protection personnel. but until we deal with this problem, new caravans will continue to arrive on a daily basis. in fact, they have. it's just now that it's in the news because it's so large, these caravans. what we've had is literally many caravans show up on a daily basis but that doesn't make a lot of news. as i said, 400,000 people were detained at the southwestern border in 2017 alone. but what is so frustrating is the tools we need in order to address these problems are at hand. they're available to us. we can begin to work together to fight these gangs, the cartels and organizations, and secure our border by partnering with the governments in central america and mexico because our
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war on drugs, our effort to provide safety and security to our constituents is part of their war, too. it is a fact that border security doesn't begin at our southern border. it ends at our southern border. it starts in central america and mexico. i know it's sometimes difficult to grasp the complexity of these problems and why it's so tough to resolve them because they're social, political and moral aspects to all of them. many people are implicated. because of corruption and powerful criminal organizations in mexico and central america, a genuine rule of law is missing in many parts of these countries, and it has been for a long time. but that's why it's so important for us to work together with these countries, central america and mexico to help them
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stabilize the government, root out the corruption, stop the violence, which will benefit them and their economy as well as the united states. and these countries can in turn restore their relationship between their government and their law enforcement and their people. when their people begin to see opportunity and safety in their home countries making the long haul from central america to the united states becomes less of an imperative, less of a necessity for them. their' -- they're probably more happy staying at home if they can do so safely and enjoy some modest prosperity. we've already had some successes in partnering with our closest neighborhood in the crisis, and that's the government of mexico. and i believe we can and should continue to build on some of the things that we've already put in place. we've already partnered with mexico in recent years through programs like the merida initiative to combat drug
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trafficking, and empowering the mexican criminal justice system and judicial system to combat the rampant culture of impunity. we've collaborated on intelligence matters and cooperated on providing various forms of security. the bureau of international narcotics control and law enforcement continues to work to develop programs to combat international far cattics -- narcotics in crime, especially in central america, but u.s. funding for this program in mexico has stagnated. why? because we've somehow fixed the problem? well, no. it's because we've taken our eye off the ball once again. additional aid for these programs would help not only improve drug interdiction and train mexican law enforcement and judicial personnel, it would help them help us work together to combat the threats of these
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transnational criminal organizations. we should begin to look at the effectiveness of these programs always so we can take full advantage of the work they do and make sure they are modernized and a more efficient and more effective. i was encouraged to see that the state department and the department of homeland security in the trump administration have already begun to negotiate new partnerships with mexico to implement a strategy to address some of the migrant flows from central america. i appreciate secretary nielsen and secretary pompeo's work with mexican officials, primarily those associated with the incoming administration of president lopez obrador toward an arrangement where migrants can seek asylum in the united states but wait in mexico while their claims are being processed. i look forward to attending the inauguration of mexico's incoming president this saturday with vice president pence and other members of congress. and i think this is hopefully a
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gesture that will be appreciated and reciprocated when it comes to our desire to work closely with this new administration to address many of the problems that i've talked about this morning. ignoring this problem is not going to make it better. it's only going to get worse. working together not just here in congress but with the administration and our partners to the south to secure our borders is the only path forward. solving this crisis takes a whole government strategy and one that looks at all pieces of the puzzle. so instead of shutting down the government by refusing the president's request for border security measures, we need to get to work and fix our broken immigration system. and i hope our friends across the aisle are ready to leave their criticism behind and join us in solving the problem.
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madam president, on another matter, i ask consent that the order with respect to the vote on executive calendar 626 be vitiated and notwithstanding rule 22, it be in order to move to proceed to the nomination the week of december 3. and that the motion is agreed to, the senate vote on confirmation with no intervening action or debate. i further ask that if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and that the president be notified immediately of the senate's action. i further ask that the pending cloture on the kobes nomination occur at 12:00 noon today. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. cornyn: madam president, i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: madam president, the -- as we saw yesterday, this vote on the yemen war powers resolution has brought to light the broader issue of our alliance with saudi arabia. and this is an issue that people have heard a lot about obviously in the last few weeks with the murder of a journalist and this
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yemen resolution have become a proxy over that matter. and i have been outspoken in the past about why it matters that we speak out strongly about and against the murder of this journalist khashoggi but also that we talk more broadly about what we need to do about it. and how it applies to our alliance with saudi arabia. so i want to tailor my comments here today briefly by talking about exactly what the implications are based on the questions i get from people. first of all, why does it matter? why does the murder of khashoggi matter and why should we care about it? the first i will tell you is that this is part of a pattern. the crown prince who is effectively governing saudi arabia now has been continuously testing the limits of the world's patience but also the limits of our alliance. there is a pattern here. we saw it. he kidnapped for over two weeks the prime minister of lebanon. he has fractured an alliance
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that once existed with the gulf kingdoms. all of it has implications on u.s. national security. so this is just one more escalation in a pattern of testing the limits of our alliance. then there is human rights. why do human rights matter? well, for a practical reason, human rights matter. from a practical perspective, when human rights are violated, the result is a humanitarian crisis, as we have seen often around the world, g.h.b. often leads to mass migration. let me tell you something else a violation of human rights leads to -- radicalization. when you violate a group of people, when you mistreat them and abusive them, you have left them ripe for radicalization, for a radical group to come in and basically pull them in and say we're the ones with the power, the weapons, and the willingness to fight. join us to go after your oppressors. in fact, if you look at what's happening in yemen, much of it and the just human rightist coms of abuses.
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it doesn't explain that, as it does as we have seen in iraq and syria. here is one other thing that happens with human rights and abuses. the abusers often get overthrown. here's the problem. when an abusive government that violates human rights gets overthrown, the people who take over hate us because we have been supporting their abusers. these are practical reasons why human rights matter. and there is a moral one. perhaps in the ranking and order, that's the most important one, the moral one. because that's what makes us different from china and russia and other countries around the world. this is what makes america different. in fact, i would say that the murder of mr. khashoggi is more about us. when it comes to our debate, it's about us. it's not just about him. it's about us and who who we are and whether we as a nation are prepared to excuse, overlook, or sort of brush away this horrifying incident because somebody buys a lot of things from us or produces a lot of oil. assuming we can mostly agree on that, the question is what do we
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do about it? thisthere is this false choice t has been presented to us. this false choice is -- there are only two choices. we either ignore it or we abandon and fracture the saudi alliance. that's not true. there are other choices. it's not just either/or of those two. that's a false choice. what i do believe is the wrong thing to do about it is to pull and yank away our support for saudi operations in yemen, and let me explain why. the first is right now the only hope of ending that is not winning an armed conflict. it is a peace negotiation. and the people that have to be at that table aren't just the houthis but the deposed yemeni president who is in saudi arabia. if we yank our support, the chances of that peace happening diminished significantly. the houthis probably say that saudis no longer have u.s. support, they are not as strong as they used to be, i think we can beat them. we don't need a peace deal. so it actually makes peace less
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likely. the second thing from a practical perspective is we will have less influence over how the saudis conduct the war. meaning we will have no understanding whatsoever to influence on who they bomb, how often they bomb or who they target. some people will argue they will not have the weapons to do it with. that's not true. if you don't think you can buy weapons from immoral and amoral regimes around the world, you're wrong. they can. if you think somehow this will end their engagement, you're wrong. the reason why they are involved in yemen is because they feel it's an effort by iran, and rightfully so they feel this way to encircle them. where iran is their enemy, iran now controls large parts of syria and is probably the closest government in the world to the syrian regime. that's to their northwest. iraq is closer to iran than it's ever been in the last 20 years to the north. of course iran is to their east. now yemen would be to the south with the houthis operating there. they are going to fight whether we help them or not. we lose our influence over how
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to tell them to do it. if we pull our support, the chances of a broader catastrophic conflict increase dramatically. and i will lay one scenario out for you. we pull our support, the houthis get confident, they start launching pockets into saudi arabia, targeting civilian populations and even members of the royal family and killing people. the saudis respond with disproportionate force or even the same level of force, and we begin to escalate. and they won't just respond against the houthis. they may respond against the iran interests elsewhere. suddenly you have a real live shooting war that extends beyond this proxy fight we see now. the houthis and the iranians use their presence on the coast and that port city to close off an important cloak point, the bob al-mandeb, the choke point in the red sea that connects the mediterranean to the indian ocean where over 4.3 million barrels a day go through. they usually bomb oil tankers, hitting those, and all of a sudden the world has to get
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engaged to open that up. so this holds the real potential for a rapid escalation that could involve a much broader conflict than what we're seeing right now. what -- i know that many of my colleagues yesterday voted for this resolution out of deep frustration. it was a message to the administration that the way they have handled this khashoggi incident is unacceptable. i hope that message has been received. but i don't think that -- this is the wrong way to do the right thing, and that is to ensure that we recalculate our alliance with saudi arabia into one where they understand that they can't just do whatever they want. the crown prince cannot just do whatever they want. and we have leverage in that regard. there is legislation that the senator from new jersey, senator menendez and others have offered, and in addition to that, there are things we can do. the leadership of the foreign relations committee has already asked for the imposition of magnitsky sanctions. that's a powerful tool. i assure you that there are people in saudi arabia, around the royal family, around the government who deeply enjoy
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being able to invest and spend their wealth in the united states and around the world, and they are going to care a lot if as a result of this murder they lose access to their money, to their property, to their visas. that's a real, real leverage point that we have. we have additional tools, religious freedom sanctions and visa bans against other individuals that may not have been involved in the khashoggi incident. but again another leverage point. we could also -- we have leverage points in restricting u.s. investment. one of the biggest proposals that the crown prince is making is he wants to diversify their economy and encourage u.s. and western investment into their economy, placing restrictions on that investment is a significant leverage point. and we should use this opportunity to use those leverage points to achieve real changes in our alliance and real changes in their behavior. for example, the release of mr. badawi, an activist in saudi arabia who has been repeatedly flogged in the past and is unjustly held in prison, he
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should be released. the release of saudi women activists who have been tortured and sexually harassed while in custody. they should be released. education reforms that finally saudi arabia stops publishing these textbooks that are encouraging and teaching anti-semitism and radicalization and dangerous religious notions and theologies that encourage violence against others. we should require them to restore the gulf alliance and restore their relationship with qatar, and if they don't, we will. we should stop -- we should force them to stop funding these wahabi schools around the world in which they are exporting radicalization. all of these things need to happen. and there may be other conditions we haven't thought of. these are real consequences that begin to realign this alliance and make very clear that this is an important alliance, but it is not one that's unlimited or without restrictions or expectations on our part. if we fail to do this, the crown prince will take further he is
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ca latory -- esculatory and outrageous actions in the future. this is a young man who has never lived anywhere else in the world. this is a crown prince who that not only tells you he is wealthy, he has never faced disappointment in his life. he is largely naive about foreign policy. thinks he can get away with whatever he wants because at home he can. we have to make clear that with us he can't. you don't have to blow up the alliance to make the message clear. if we don't make that message clear, he will do more of this in the future, and one day he may pull us into a war. one day he may fracture the alliance himself because he goes too far. he needs to be stopped now. he needs to understand there are limits or he will keep testing those limits. if we fail to do that at this moment, we will live to regret it and its implications will be extraordinary. it will be a gift to iran. that's my last point. what's happened here has been a gift to iran. what they have done has been a gift. instead of weakening their economy, they have empowered
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them. we do need to take positive action on this. we do need to do things that change and recalibrate this relationship. but yanking support at this moment from the yemen campaign is the wrong way to do the right thing. i hope that many of my colleagues who yesterday voted to discharge this bill onto the floor to send a clear message to the administration that they are unhappy with the response so far, i hope that they will reconsider an alternative way forward that doesn't lead to these consequences i've outlined but allows us in the senate to lead the way with the administration to reset this relationship in a way that avoids these problems in the future and lives up to our heritage as a nation whose foreign policy is infused and supports the defense of human rights all over the world. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, i rise today in opposition to the nomination of thomas farr to the eastern district of north carolina. those who sit on the federal
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bench are bound to uphold the constitution for all americans, regardless of race or gender, ethnicity, or political leaning. but mr. farr cannot be trusted to defend equal justice under the law. working to disenfranchise voters with a particular hostility towards african american voters has been his lifelong passion. consider his work for jesse helms' 1990 senate campaign. we all know helms' record on race. when the justice department brought a lawsuit against the helms' campaign for sending over 100,000 postcards to mostly african american voters, falsely warning them that they were ineligible to vote and could be prosecuted for casting a ballot, it was mr. farr who defended the scheme. yet despite serving as the helms' campaign attorney, farr
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denied having any involvement with the postcards in his senate question -- questionnaire. mr. farr claimed he did not, quote, participate in any meetings in which the postcards were discussed before they were sent. but according to the former head of the justice department's civil rights division, gerald hebert, the answers in farr's questionnaires are contrary to the facts. mr. hebert took contemporaneous notes while investigating the helms campaign, notes that placed mr. farr at a meeting on the postcard scheme just three weeks before they were sent. years later, farr led a three-year legal battle to defend north carolina's law that disgracefully shortened early voting, instituted onerous government i.d. requirements,
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and eliminated same-day voter registration and out-of-precinct voting, all, all of which are known to disproportionately suppress minority, elderly, and disabled voters. federal courts ruled the law unconstitutional for targeting african american voters, quote, with almost surgical precision. surgical precision. purposeful, surgical precision. calling it the most restrictive law since the era of jim jim cr. i know americans want to confirm as many judges as possible, but why this judge when there are so many other qualified jurists to choose from? i think it is because they know the g.o.p. agenda of enriching big corporations at the expense of everyday working families is incredibly unpopular with the american people.
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consider that while the republicans held onto the senate this year, they lost by 16 million votes nationwide. democracy is supposed to be a battle of ideas, but when it comes to health care or student loan debt or climate change, they don't have any, and when you can't win a fair fight, what do you do? you tilt the playing field in your favor. republicans want to stack the court with judges who will do their bidding, ideologues grossly out of step with the american people on everything from voting rights and redistricting to health care and climate change to the constitutionality of whitaker's appointment to lead the justice department. that's what leader mcconnell meant about nominations being republicans' best chance of having a long-term impact on the nation's future. it is their best chance at denying minorities from voting
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and forcing their bad ideas on the american people. republicans are so intent on confirming judges with shameful records on voter suppression that they shredded the blue-slip process here in the senate which allowed senators to glean light or prevent hearings on nominees from their home states. a process that senator hatch once called the blue slip process the last remaining check on the president's judicial appointment power. ironically, back in 2013, when president obama nominated an african american assistant u.s. attorney named jennifer may packer to this very seat to this very seat, democrats respected senator burr's decision not to return a blue slip and then chairman pat leahy chose not to hold a judiciary committee hearing.
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then in 2016 president obama nominated patricia timmons goodson, the first african american woman on the north carolina supreme court to the same seat. if confirmed, either of these trail blazing women would have become the first african american to serve in the eastern district of north carolina, a district that is 27% african american. yet neither senator burr nor tillis returned tillis and thus chairman grassley did not act on her nomination. yet today president trump's nominees are being confirmed despite objections from home state senators. paul matey, a nominee from new jersey, will likely become more example. neither myself nor senator booker were meaningfully consulted by the white house regarding new jersey's open seat on the third circuit. and for several reasons we
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haven't returned blue slips. yet they moved ahead with a hearing. so it's been eviscerated -- totally. and it's gone little by little. first, if one of the 0 two senators turned in a blue slip, that was enough. now doesn't matter that neither senator turns into a blue slip. they go ahead with a hearing and probably a vote. so the precious check and balance that senator hatch talked about as the last vestige of a check and balance on judicial nomination nominations has large by been lost. republicans claim to be the party of conservatism, yet i see nothing conservative in their willingness to sweep aside center-old procedures for policy gain. they put their party before their country. and have shown no fidelity to the institutions that have truly made this country great.
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something is wrong when any political party makes the suppression of voters its chief electoral strategy. mr. farr is just one more card in their deliberate effort to stack the deck against our democracy, to disenfranchise voters, and force their unpopular, bad ideas on our country. for the sake of our democracy, i urge my colleagues -- in this case particularly -- to do the decent thing, to the the right thing, to stand up for the voting rights of all americans and to reject this nominee. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mrs. feinstein: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: mr. president, i ask to speak as if in morning business. is there a time limit?
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the presiding officer: there is no time limit. mrs. feinstein: thank you. i know there are others waiting, so i don't estimate i'll take more than 10-12 minutes. thank you. i rise today in opposition to the nomination of tom farr to the eastern district of north carolina. i do so as the ranking member of the judiciary committee. the vote for mr. farr's nomination, as members know, had been scheduled for today but has been postponed. i want to say that mr. farr's long career indicates that his history raises serious questions about his ability to safeguard voting rights for all americans. in fact, he has a history involving voter suppression efforts, which leads me to question his qualifications to even be a federal judge. farr's hostility toward voting rights can be traced back to the
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1980's and 1990's when he worked as a lead attorney for senator jesse helms' reelection campaign. media reports indicate that he was not truthful in his response to questions for the record about his involvement in voter suppression efforts orchestrated by the helms campaign and the republican party of north carolina. and here are the facts -- in 1990, helms was in a tight race with the mayor of charlotte, harvey gant, and the campaign implemented the strategy to suppress and confuse african american voters. the helms campaign and the north carolina g.o.p. implemented a so-called ballot security program. that program included sending more than 120,000 postcards
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almost exclusively to african american voters, saying they were required to live in a precipitophore at least 30 days prior to election -- precinct for at least 30 days prior to election day and could be subject to criminal prosecution. this information was in fact false. in fact, one african american voter in the state who received a postcard informing him that he could not vote if he hadn't lived in his poeting precinct for at least 30 days had lived at the same address for more than 30 years, and he was registered to vote that entire time. so, clearly, these postcards were designed to intimidate african american voters. i asked mr. farr in committee about this program and his participation in it. he told me that he did not provide any counsel and was not aware of the postcards until
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after they were sent. former federal prosecutor gerald hebert, who worked on voting rights issues at the time, contradicted these statements. to get to the bottom of it, democrats on the judiciary committee requested a copy of the justice department memo that reportedly detailed farr's role in this voter suppression incident. but the department would not provide a copy of the memo. now "the washington post" has obtained the memo which clearly shows that farr was, in fact, involved in these voter intimidation efforts, and i'd like to put the appropriate parts of "the washington post" memoranda in the record, please. the memo includes fairs own retaling of meetings, where
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sending cards to postcards to voters was discussed. in fact, far told colleagues that postcards might not be effective in kicking voters off the rolls, as they had been in 1984. it's impossible, though, to square this memo with farr's denial to the judiciary committee that he had any knowledge of these actions. in addition, since that time, mr. farr has remained active in efforts to depress and dilute african american voting. in several cases, farr defended north carolina's congressional and legislative districts, drawn after the 2010 census against allegations the state legislature drew them to dilute the vote of african americans. farr has defended these districts before north carolina
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state courts, federal courts, and the supreme court. however, in each instance, his arguments have been rejected. in the covington v. north carolina, a three-judge panel in the middle district of north carolina found this -- and i quote -- race was the predominant factor motivating the drawing of the challenged state legislative districts, end quote. in harris v. mccrory, two of three federal judges on a panel held that the state's congressional redistricting plan violated the 14th amendment's equal protection clause. farr in 2016 also defended north carolina's restrictive voter i.d. law in the north carolina
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state conference of the naacp v. mccrory he had served as an advisor to the state legislature as it was considering that legislation. arguing before the fourth circuit, farr strongly denied that racial animus towards african americans was a motivation for the voter i.d. law. the court, however, strongly disagreed, and here's what they said. in striking down the law, the court strongly rejected farr's arguments, noting that the law's requirements, quote, target african americans with almost surgical precision, end quote. that's the fourth circuit denying that racial animus -- or confirming that racial animus
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was part of this. the congressional black caucus foundation expressed its strong opposition to farr's nomination, writing that -- and i quote -- farr has amassed a record that puts him at the forefront of an extended fight to disenfranchise african american voters, end quote. opposition to farr's nomination has been compounded by the history of this particular vacancy, which has been open for a long time -- actually, since 2006. president obama nominated two highly qualified african american women to fill the vacancy. they would have been the first african americans to serve on the court, a long overdue milestone in a district where more than 25% of the population is african american. the first nominee, jennifer
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may parker, served as chief of the appellate division at the united states attorney's office in the eastern district of north carolina. she had served time in the u.s. attorney's office for 14 years -- let me repeat that. she had served in the u.s. attorney's office for 14 years at the time. her nomination did not move forward because she didn't receive a blue slip from the state's republican senator, even though he had initially recommended her to the white house as a potential nominee. the second nominee, patricia timmons goodson, served as vice chair of the united states commission on civil rights. she had previously served as an associate justice on the north carolina supreme court and as
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associate judge for the north carolina court of appeals. again, republicans did not allow her nomination to move forward. while republicans have undermind the blue slip policy to confirm president trump's judicial nominees, it's important to know that the only reason tom farr's nomination is under consideration today is because republican blue slips were honored by democrats during it the obama administration. in short, republicans blocked two highly qualified african american women from filling the vacancy in order to hold the seat open for a white nominee with a history of disenfranchising black americans. i'm sorry to say that, but that's the way it was. it's impossible to see how the
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people tom farr would serve in the eastern district of north carolina would ever believe they were getting a fair shot in his courtroom. the senate should reject this nominee. thank you very much, mr. chairman.
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mr. lankford: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, on may 5 of this year, nasa launched the unsight rocket -- the insight rocket. that the pressuring the inside probe has traveled 300 million miles since may of this year and touched down safely on mars. it's a remarkable achievement. the united states is the only country in the world that has any probes on mars and we have several now, both moving around and stable. the technology behind that, the thought, the design, the engineering, the work is a remarkable achievement for the science community. 300-plus million miles that it's traveled since may is a remarkable achievement and to be able to land safely. now i compare that 300 million-mile journey of the
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insight probe and safely landing on mars to our now two decade-long conversation trying to solve immigration. we as americans have figured out how to travel 300 million miles, but we've not been able to figure out how to be able to manage our own immigration policy. this is the tenth time i've come to this floor to talk about immigration in just the last three years. earlier this year, in february, we had a tremendous amount of work that was happening here in the senate to try to come to a set of agreements about how we can manage immigration policy in the united states. and those agreements failed. and while insight was traveling 300 million miles, this senate still did nothing to be able to resolve the issue of immigration. and we watched today, several thousand people in tijuana living in a soccer stadium after they left out from honduras,
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traveled into guatamala, guatamalans deporting several thousand of them and saying you didn't cross legally from honduras into guatamala and then they approached the border between guatamala and mexico and mexico put their law enforcement and their military on the border and said you can't just cross the border illegally from guatamala into mexico, and then they charged the bridge, overran the law enforcement and the military of the mexico -- mexican police, went around into the river and regrouped again and continued to move forward through mexico, to which mexico offered them asylum, which i thought that was incredibly gracious based on the way that they crossed into mexico, offered them asylum and the ability to be able to stay in mexico, offered them assistance all the way along the way, and did arrest some troublemakers along the way. and now they made their way all the way through mexico, and they're just outside san diego. and a few days ago the same
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group rushed our border to be able to see if our border would cave the same way the southern border of mexico did. yet, we did not. instantly enough, that group of people that rushed the border and that are now parked on that border are literally living within a few hundred yards of the largest legal border crossing in the world, the san diego crossing. 100,000 people a day legally crossed the border from mexico into the united states within feet of where they charged the border and demanded to get entry into the united states. now let me just set that for you again side by side. 100,000 people every single day legally crossed the border from mexico into the united states at the tijuana-san diego crossing,
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yet the attention is not on the 100,000 legally crossing the border. the cameras are turned toward the few thousand that are trying to rush the border illegally. our perspective is out of whack. we're not a closed country to immigration. we're an open country to immigration. 1.1 million people last year became citizens of the united states. 1.1 million. but we're a nation that has order and structure. we have a million people every single day that leave the united states coming in legally either through canada or through mexico or based on flights. our law enforcement folks that handle all the issues there with border patrol, customers, all the folks from i.c.e., they do a
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tremendous job every day. secretary nielsen has done stellar leadership because the cameras want to focus on a few people crossing illegally and refuse to turn the cameras just 15 degrees and focus on 100,000 people coming across the border legally. we do have to do something about our immigration policy. we are a nation that has been open to immigrants our entire history as a nation, and we remain so and should remain so. but the question seems to get spun up on this one issue. what do we do about someone who intentionally breaks the law to come into our country? how do we treat them versus the person who has gone through the process, who is legally coming into the country? are they to be treated the same whether you illegally cross the border at san diego as someone who legally crossed the border at san diego? or do we treat them differently?
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last year there were 400,000 people that were arrested illegally crossing our southern border. 400,000. now again, that may seem like ran incredibly large number, but let me put it back in perspective. half a million people, that would be 500,000 people, legally cross our border on the south every day. so we had 400,000 people arrested crossing our southern border illegally, 400,000, but yet over the total of an entire year, 400,000 people arrested, but every single day 500,000 people legally cross our entire southern border. as i mentioned, 1 hundred thousand of those just at san diego. these americans need to make decisions about how we're going to handle immigration and i think we've got to get some numbers and some perspective in
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place, because all the attention seems to be distracting us from the actual facts and numbers. so let me run through some things. there's been a lot of conversation about family units and about what does it mean for family units to be able to come in and should family units be separated. and let me make it very clear, i've been very outspoken to say family units need to stay together whenever possible. we are americans. we're very passionate about families. if a family unit crosses the border illegally as much as possible we need to keep that family unit together. that may mean we need to have them in a spot, in a detention unit or some place where they can actually stay together as a family as much as possible. but for whatever reason the courts have not allowed us to be able to go through that system. i think that's something that this congress needs to respond to and needs to be able to step up to, but this congress has been unwilling to be able to do the votes that it takes to be able to make sure family units actually stay together because the drama of tearing families apart looks so much better on
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tv. but what's been the result of that? what's been the result is a massive increase in the number of children that are coming to our border. this may sound familiar to you, and it should. in 2014, under the time of president obama, when he announced the daca proposal, that was deferred action for childhood arrivals, president obama looked at those individuals that were living in the country here that had been here for a long time, that came as children. their parents broke the law by crossing the border, but they were a child. in american law, we do not punish children for the actions of their parents. we don't do that. so president obama looked at these kids and said you've grown up in our country. your parents broke the law but you did not, we're going to give you deferred action. we're going to give you the opportunity to be able to work and be here. it wasn't citizenship but it was an opportunity to be able to stay and work. as soon as that was announced, within months the american border started being flooded
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with unaccompanied minors, with kids coming in. 17 years old and younger that would cross the border. they showed up in the thousands. they were brought by human smugglers from central america who make their living moving people from central america to the united states. and that business started traveling all through central america saying president obama is going to allow you to be able to stay in the country. he's just announced this program, and if you'll go now with me, you'll get to stay in america. and so parents were literally surrendering their teenagers, most of them boys, and saying to their boys, go to america, go find a job and work and send money back, and would send their kids with human smugglers. now president obama was saying time out, that's not what i said. president obama was very clear to say you had to have been here years ago. you are not eligible if you cross the border now. do not come. our state department actively worked to get the message out in central america.
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do not come, you will not be able to stay. but the human smugglers were telling them they're just kidding. i'm going to take you and we'll show you that we can get in. and what happened is they started bringing kids by the thousands up to the border. when they got there, they would introduce them to border folks. they would go in and they would get an opportunity to be able to stay, a piece of paper that said you can't being deported while they go through their paperwork. those kids then were taking a picture of that piece of paper saying i got in, i'm legal, snapping it, sending it back on social media to their friends in central america, and it just accelerated, and it blew up into huge numbers. in my state, in oklahoma, president obama used one of the military bases there in lawton, oklahoma, converted one of the dorms and were moving unaccompanied minors into this military base around a big, giant fence in the middle of the base. as he used other military bases to be able to house unaccompanied minors because they were coming in such large numbers, they couldn't be managed. that was under president obama
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of's time. and it took a long time, several years to be able to get the message out to central america, stop sending your unaccompanied minors because it's not just an automatic entry. then the conversation started about family units saying if you come as a family unit, you're going to be able to get in. that's not what everybody was saying here, but that's what the smugglers said back in central america. hey, the americans allow you to come in if you come in as a family unit, so bring a child with you, and you can get in. and we've watched over the last year the number of adults showing up with a child on our southern border dramatically increase by the tens of thousands. an unintended consequence. some may have noted over the weekend, a "washington post" story that was titled, "for central americans, children open a path to the u.s. and bring a discount." "the washington post" story was a story that they're doing
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research in central america, these human smugglers, what they're doing now in their business, and they detail the story that it will cost $10,000 if you travel as an adult. but if you bring a child with you, you and the child can come for $4,500. so it's half price if you bring a kid. and families are so desperate in that area to get some kind of assistance, literally adult males mostly are going to families and say let me take your child with me. i'll get a discount and then i'll send you some cash back, and i'll try to enroll this child in an american school or find somebody to be able to take care of them. and we have individuals showing up at our southern border now that are bringing a child they're not related to because they get a discount on their human smuggling time, and they get more expedited process to be able to actually get across the border to request asylum, though they're not actually requesting
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asylum. they're just getting across the border and then trying to be able to find a job. it's economics. do we not see what's happening? we are encouraging the human trafficking of children from central america from unrelated adults to come. it has a nickname in central america, now that "the washington post" story highlighted. it's called adoptions. that's the new nickname that i'm going to take my child and adopt them out to some unrelated adult and so they can get into america cheaper and faster and hopefully things turn out for that kid as well. a broken immigration system is encouraging this. and we need to address it. over the last two years congress has appropriated about $1. billion to build 124 millions of
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new fencing along the border. this funding is not some tall concrete tape worm running along the southern border. it's a fence. now in 2006 it wasn't controversial for the secure fences act. it built 650 miles of wall, fence along the southern border. that fence was very effective. for instance, earlier this year congress provided funding to replace 14 miles of fencing along the border between san diego and tijuana, mexico. for the last 20 years the border along san diego and -- between tijuana and san diego has been actually old metal sheets from the vietnam era that were used in vietnam to lay out on the jungle floor to be able to land helicopters on. they took that old sheet metal decades ago when they brought it back, and then they used it as the fencing between san diego and tijuana.
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that fencing is being replaced. congress provided the funding and d.h.s. as done 18-foot high fencing, open fencing that you can see through, not the solid sheet metal that's up there. and the actual final results haven't been released on it yet. the border agents on the ground said they used to have 10 illegal crossings a day through the old-style fencing, now they have one illegal crossing a month through that fencing. and for all of the whining and all of the conversation that i hear, if you build a fence, there's just a ladder, it's dropped from ten a day to one a month just when the fencing changed, and it allows our agents to be able to see a danger or risk on the other side and to be able to respond to it. by the end of the next fiscal
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year d.h.s. will have completed 120 new miles of fencing, california, nevada, texas. they will have also installed video towers. it is not just about fencing, it's about technology and the ability to be able to see what's happening at the border. we don't need fencing in every area of the 2,000-mile border. since early january 2017 to now, d.h.s. has put up 31 fixed surveillance tower units along the southern border. they've been 74 different remote video centers, they put up a tunnel threat program. they've done what's called a linear detection system and fiberoptic detection system in the southern border and in tunnels where they move illegal
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narcotics. they put up mobile surveillance systems. this is not just about fencing, it's also about technology and d.h.s. has done both, and it is a making a difference. but while the cameras are focused on children coughing with tear gas at our southern border, we need to ask ourselves a question. what are we doing in the policy here that's encouraging people to bring children to the border thinking they are going to get faster access if they can illegally cross? why is this happening? how do we stop it with our policy? this nation should continue to be open. we should continue to receive immigrants from around the world, including from central america and from mexico. i have neighbors and friends all through my community that are from central america rn from mexico. they are welcomed snens of our
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country. -- citizens of our country. that's part of the fabbri of who -- fabric of who we are, people from all over the world. i have a difficult time saying that 100,000 people at the san diego crossing who are crossing legally should be ignored for the sake of a few,000 that want to crash -- few thousand that crashed the barriers in southern new mexico and crashed the barriers here. we need to have a reasonable response to this. listen, if you've never been to a naturalization service, you ought to go. one staff member said i have never been at a naturalization service i don't cry at. it is exceptionally moving. to watch people from all backgrounds and pledge allegiance to a brand-new
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country, to set aside their old path and to realize for many of them this was years in the process to legally go through all the right checks and to be able to get to that point. for the 1.1 million people who do that every year, we honor those individuals and welcome them openly. let's honor people who do it the right way. let's fix broken areas of the system where parents are bringing children illegally across the border. let's deal with issues like temporary protected status that needs to be resolved. let's deal with the issues of your immigration, but let's not continue to stall. if the mars insight probe can travel 300 million miles in five months, surely this congress can sit down and resolve the immigration issue in a few months. i look forward to that in the next congress and the days ahead
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to finally getting this resolved. with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. van hollen: thank you, mr. president. there's been a lot of activity in the senate today, and i want to cover a couple of topics, starting with the nomination of thomas farr to be a united states district court judge for the eastern district of north carolina. i understand, mr. president, we will not be voting on that nomination today and i really hope our colleagues will take the time between now and whenever we may cast a final vote on that nomination to take another look at the record because a number of very informative things have come out in recent days about mr. farr's record. and i just want to take us back
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to a moment where this senate chamber was back in 2006. because back in 2006, the united states senate passed the voting rights reauthorization by a vote of 98-0. 98 senators in favor of the voting rights act reauthorization, none opposed. the house passed the same bill by a vote of 390-33. president bush signed that bill into law. fast forward to 2013, you have a case in the supreme court, shelby v. holder. the supreme court, by a vote of 5-4, took a big bite out of the enforcement provisions of the voting rights act. they eliminated the preclearance provisions. and what you saw within a matter of weeks and months were states around the country who had
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previously been subject to the preclearance provision, beginning to enact laws putting up barriers to people's ability to vote, especially minority voters. texas enacted legislation and north carolina enacted legislation, among others. and i want to focus for a moment, mr. president, on what happened in north carolina. because in north carolina the state legislature passed a bill that put up all sorts of obstacles, obstacles that made it much harder for african american especially to cast area that vote, to exercise their right to vote. and when that bill was appealed to the fourth circuit, the fourth circuit found that north carolina state legislation had targeted african american voters with almost surgical precision, and they threw out that north
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carolina law. well, just a few days ago this senate confirmed a nominee to be legal counsel to the department of agriculture, stephen vaid vader supported the north carolina law that was overturned. the senate acted, we did that. it turns out a few days later we now have a nomination not for a general counsel of the department of agriculture but somebody to be on the u.s. courts who was the architect and the defender of these north carolina laws, thomas farr. that same law, which the court said targeted african americans with almost surgical precision, trying to deny them their right
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to vote was also found by the court to be, quote, the most restrictive voting law north carolina has seen since the era of jim crow. now, thomas farr wasn't just a key player in that case -- in defending north carolina's discriminatory law. he had also been a key player in passing other north carolina laws that had been thrown out because of their discriminatory impact. he was in the middle of north carolina's effort to redraw state legislative lines for state house districts and state senate districts that the united states supreme court threw out on the grounds that it was racially discriminatory. but as history in trying to put up barriers to minority voting rights goes back even farther. i have in my hand, mr. president, a memorandum
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dated june 19, 1991, it's in the justice department. it said during the administration of george herbert walker bush. it's a memo recommending that the united states bring a lawsuit against the north carolina republican party and the helms for senate committee, that would be jesse helms, former senator, for conducting a postcard mailing program designed to intimidate and threaten black voters throughout the state of north carolina in order to discourage them from participating in the november 6, 1990 general election. and and i would urge all my colleagues to read this memorandum from the justice department during the time that george bush was president, and i would especially direct them to page 12, and there's a footnote on page 12, that talks about
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thomas farr's work in this area of trying to put up barriers to voting, going way back, not just in the 1990 election, but back to the 1984 election of senator jesse helms. in fact, this department of justice memorandum states, and i quote, farr was the primary coordinator of the 1984 ballot security, in quotes, program conducted by the north carolina g.o.p. in the 1984 helms for senate committee. he, referring to thomas farr, coordinated several, quote, ballot security activities in 1984, including a postcard mailers to predominately black precincts which was designed to challenge voters on election
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day. mr. president, i don't know what's happened to the senate between 2006 when it unanimously voted to extend the voting rights act and today when we have on the floor the nomination of thomas farr who has a history of being the point person in trying to limit the ability of americans to exercise their right to vote and according the fourth circuit of the united states did so with the surgical precision in denying african american voters. how can we in good conscience put someone on the federal court of the united states who has that history? how can people who come before that court have the confidence that person -- that judge is really going to uphold their rights? i urge my colleagues to oppose
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his nomination. and, mr. president, i also want to take us back to 2006 for another reason. back in 2006, we had many of our republican senate colleagues recognizing the dangers of doing nothing about the mounting cost of climate change. back in 2006 there was a bill in the united states senate by senators mccain and lieberman, a bipartisan group, designed to finally take action, and here we are so many years later in 2006, and my goodness, have we regressed. we now have a president of the united states who said in response to a report that came out from 300 scientists in the united states government about the dangers of climate change. the president says, well, i don't believe it. they tried to bury this report
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releasing it the day after thanksgiving, but it backfired because it was a slow news day and people realized what was up. they realized it was a deliberate attempt by the administration to deep six something that's important to all americans and something that all americans can see with their own eyes, which is the escalating impact of doing nothing about climate change, whether it's wildfires, floods, rising sea levels. if you look at the report if you live in the chesapeake bay area, you have to be worried. cleefg storm events -- increasing flooding. in annapolis, if you talk to the superintendent, he's worried about the impact. as this report makes clear, if you have a rising chesapeake bay, you will see islands in the chesapeake bay disappearing all because this body refuses to
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