tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN March 4, 2019 2:59pm-6:43pm EST
differences for policy and voting strategy. i think they're still feeling it all out. >> host: from jeremy, joined us from washington dc, independent line. >> caller: hello, thank you for this morning's show. as a demonstration of freedom and speech in a dark era, it's absolutely priceless. there has been lots of news going on in the past week centered on trump kim summit and perhaps the testimony which by the way over 15 million viewers forcing them to work -- >> watch the rest of the discussion by going to a website washington journal .org emma search week ahead in washington. as we look live at the us capitol building where the senate is about to dabble in to start ledges and work for the week. lawmakers expect to continue demolitions on allison jones rushing judicial nomination. a procedural vote scheduled for 5:30 p.m. eastern today.
bill considered the reservation terminating the emergency decoration for border security. that resolution coming to the floor next week. live to the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. black, will open the senate with prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, we praise your greatness, might, and majesty, for you are exalted above all.
we receive power because of your presence and your compassion never fails. today, guide our lawmakers as they strive to do your will. deliver them from the strain and stress of the demands of daily duties. give them wisdom and courage for the living of these days. lord, unite them in the common endeavor to make america a beacon of freedom for our world. may all they think, say, and do truly honor you. we pray in your powerful name.
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. 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,
mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: now, this week, the senate will vote on another of president trump's hard-right judicial nominees, chad readler of the sixth circuit for the court of appeals in ohio. let me just say -- anyone who thinks that the republican party
has abandoned their embrace of eliminating protections for preexisting conditions should see how everyone votes on chad readler. it will be a surprise to no one to know this nomination is proceeding over the objection of senator brown, yet another example of republicans discarding the blue slip. mr. readler stands out in his own way. a vote for this nomination is to end protections for people with preexisting conditions. mr. readleer was with behind mre with texas suing to repeal our health care law. mr. readleer was not just somebody who worked on the case, he was the lead lawyer filing the department of justice brief declaring the administration refusedded to defend the laws of our country. in a brief so outlandish that
attorneys refused to sign it. mr. readler argued that coverage for people with preexisting condition should be eliminated. we will see what everybody feels about preexisting conditions and their plo tests to the -- pro tesses to the contrary. mr. readwiller was awarded by mr. trump on the very next day. day one, readler files the lead suit to eliminate protections for those with preexisting conditions, day two, he's nominated to the bench, lifetime appointment. all democrats are united in opposing this nomination. we urge our republican colleagues who claim to support protections for preexisting conditions to join us to vote to reject his nomination.
he's not just some lawyer who participated. he's the chief, cook, and bottle washer of the case that hurts hundreds of millions of americans. if you have a daughter with cancer and you can't get insurance, if you have a wife or husband who has a serious condition and the insurance company pulls back, you're losing your protection if readler has his way and now he's going to get on the bench with a lifetime appointment unless our republican colleagues have the sense and courage to block him. on this vote every republican will be forced to show their constituents and the american people whether or not they stand for preexisting condition protections for more americans having health care coverage, protecting medicaid and all insurance plans covering maternity care and prescription drugs. having failed in congress to repeal these vital health care protections that american families count on each day,
president trump has turned to the courts. the decision by mr. readler and others in the trump administration to side with republican attorneys general who have declared our health care law unconstitutional is the latest example of the president and republicans trying to repeal our health care law. the texas lawsuit is working its way through the courts now. if mr. readler's argument prevails in the court, access to health care for children with asthma, adults with arthritis, cancer survivors would no longer be guaranteed. mr. readler argues that preexisting condition protection is unconstitutional. we democrats think that is outrageous an extreme, which is why we are calling on republicans to join us in opposing his nomination. in short, any republican senator who supports mr. readler's
nomination is supporting the trump republican lawsuit to get rid of preexisting condition protections and take away health care from tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of americans. now, on on the national -- on the national emergency. over the weekend rand paul announced his support for the resolution to terminate the president's national emergency, giving it the needed 51 votes to pass this chamber. it's clear that members of both parties know there is no actual emergency at the border. the president himself made that clear when announcing the state of emergency that he didn't need to do -- to do this. when the president says i don't need to do this, he is saying there is no emergency. an emergency by definition is something you need to do. it's an emergency. in the president's own words, this is not an emergency, it's a political bone, a face-saving
device to the president to throw to the right wing to show he is still fighting for the wall, but it goes way beyond simply how you feel on the wall, pro or con. it goes to the fundamental building blocks of how this country was structured. congress has the power of the purse. congress is a check on the executive. the founding fathers feared above all anything else, having dealt with king george and the revolution, that an overreaching executive was one of the greatest dangers to our democracy, and that's why so many presidents have respected and done emergencies only in the rarest of times. the last bunch of emergencies, either a war, 9/11, desert storm, diseases, real emergencies, climate things, real emergencies. i mean, you know, disasters,
hurricanes, tornadoes in terms of how -- in terms of what's happened with our weather and our climate. so if this coequal branch of government allows governments, wharm every they may be whenever they want to achieve a partisan policy goal, it will fundamentally alter the balance of power in this country in a way that the founding fathers would be aghast at. my guess is if benjamin frank lynn or george washington or thomas jefferson were looking down on this chamber, they would rise to this occasion. that is the democracy they wanted. i don't know if we will. well, the founders of this nation gave the congress one of the greatest powers any government ever has, the power of the purse. president trump is trying to take these powers away even after congress explicittedly
rejected several times the money for his wall. so we democrats know this. and now it's clear a growing number of republicans know it as well. to allow this emergency to persist, it's a change in the fundamental, necessary, and often exquisite balance of power that marks the genius of the american constitution. i know many of my friends on the other side of the aisle understand that. if you're a true conservative realize that there should not be too much power centralized in any place because conservatism is maximizing the freedom of the individual and minute miedzing -- minimizing anything that encroaches on it. so to look the other way because president trump wants this,
because he's almost sometimes in a temper tantrum about this issue, it is so shortsighted, so dentmental to the long-term health and stability and viability of how this balance of power works. so let us come together on this issue, democrats, republicans, house and senate rise to the occasion. if congress stands up, it will be reaffirmation of our democracy. it will be a date historians note proudly decades from now, it will be a reaffirmation of the democracy the founding fathers wanted. on climate change, for decades we've known that climate change is not only a major national challenge but an existentialal threat to our planet and the future. despite the gravity of this challenge, one political party in the united states, and that would be the republican party, has largely denied the problem
even exists. denied the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community and denied most attempts in congress to tackle climate change. today marks day 18 since i first challenged our republican leader, and all of my republican colleagues to answer these three questions. one, is climate change real? two, is it caused by human activity? and, three, should congress act immediately, strongly, to deal with this issue? we haven't heard an answer from the leader or from almost every republican in this body. so let me repeat them again. leader mcconnell, do you believe that climate change is real? leader mcconnell, do you believe that it is caused by human activity? and leader mcconnell, do you believe congress should take
immediate action to address the crisis of climate change. -- change? i supposes to not a -- it's not a surprise that republicans are fearful to answer these questions. they know that the public is on our side on this issue, overwhelmingly, two to one. but the oil industry, which funnels tons of money into republican coffers, much of it dark money, undisclosed, that's on the other side. that's why they are afraid to answer the question one way or the other. today's "washington post" details how the denial of basic scientific facts surrounding climate change to -- is amounting to a political litmus test for president trump. perhaps republicans are avoiding answering the questions i've posed for fear the president would retaliate for siding against him and his radical views. because there's no real rational
explanation. finally, china trade. now, we've seen reports in today's newspapers that president trump is close to cutting a deal with china. i have given the president credit for bringing china to the table by his strong action with tariffs. he has done more to keep american businesses out, causing tens of millions of americans to lose income and millions of americans to lose jobs. he's done more than previous presidents. i give him credit. but if now at the end of the day he sells out, he backs out, he just looks at trade balances and doesn't deal with the fundamental structural ways china takes advantage of us, it doesn't matter that he put in the tariffs in the first place. the bottom line is very simple.
china is our economic rival and they don't play by the rules. they steal intellectual property even though they promised that they won't by cybertheft. they don't let american companies come in and compete fairly in china even though their companies come here. my grandfather, who was a cab driver, said when it comes to certain things, america isn't uncle sam, we're uncle sap. that's where we are when it comes to china. we've let them take advantage of us for two decades. now president trump has the time to stop them and the news reports today say he's going to back off -- back off because china will buy some more products. china buying more products will not change the structural problems. it will not change the basic
erosion of american wealth and jobs as it flows to china. it's a temporary salve and nothing more. i care about our farmers. we have a lot of them in new york state. i care about companies in a might be hurt in the short run by this. but unless we take some tough action against china, the hurt will be much greater and much longer. so i say to president trump, you stayed tough in north korea and to your benefit, the democrat leader of the senate praised you for doing it. stay tough on china. don't let march be the month when it comes to china when it is said that president trump went in like a lion and went out like a lamb and president xi, a darned good negotiator, eats our
lunch. this is an imperative to get this right. the president and his folks must not squander the chance to miss this chance. this chance will not come around for a long time and american wealth, income, and jobs will -- will ebb. this is one of the most important moments in the trump presidency. mr. president, stand tough. china can no longer be allowed to take advantage of us. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i know the entire senate joins me today in offering deep sympathies to the communities affected by yesterday's fate of tornadoes in east alabama and georgia. as first responders continue to search for survivors in the rubble, we know that at least 23 innocent lives were lost to this disaster all in lee county, alabama. our condolences are especially with their loved ones and our gratitude is with the emergency personnel and local officials who speaker headed evac -- spearheaded evacuation and rescue efforts. people in alabama are all too familiar with the pain caused by devastating storms like yesterday's. the entire region has been hit hard in recent years seemingly by one disaster after another. and they continue to brace against the threat of tornadoes and the flooding that so often
impacts communities in my state of kentucky. but at every step of the way from response and recovery to resilient achievement, alabama has benefited from the devoted leadership of senator richard shelby. on the specific issue of disaster recovery, his hard work and steady hand have helped lead the charge. when supplemental funding for natural disaster relief receives floor time here in the senate, it will be thanks to the hard work of our colleagues like senator purdue, senator isakson, and others and certainly chairman shelby. of course this is far from the only area in which richard shelby has delivered results for his state and for our nation. for years, he's made a personal mission out of restoring and improving our nation's infrastructure. he's brought wise and decisive leadership as our chief
appropriator, and the state of alabama bears countless signs of senator shelby's dedicated service. from supporting the missile defense and space exploration programs in huntsville to help establish the national water center in tuscaloosa where researchers forecast floods and work to mitigate water-related hazards. so it's fitting today to praise senator shelby's continued service but it also happens that over the weekend, the senior senator from alabama became the longest serving senator in the history of his state. i couldn't be happier to recognize my friend richard shelby on this occasion and i know each of our colleagues will join me in congratulating him on the years of faithful service to alabamians that have made this recognition possible. now, on entirely different matter, this week the senate is considering the nominations of three more well qualified
jurists to vacancies on our nation's federal courts. first is allison jones rushing of north carolina to serve on the fourth circuit. miss rushing is a graduate of wake foshest university and duke university school of law with high honors. in the years since, she's built a distinguished record in private practice, held prestigious appellate clerkships on two federal circuit courts and the u.s. supreme court. i'll have more on the state of our nominations process soon but i hope each of our colleagues will begin the weaning by voting to advance her nomination later today. now, one final matter, like many americans, i've spent the past several weeks watching with interest as prominent leaders in the democratic party have engaged in a political footrace. they're spreading, literally spreading as far left as
possible, as quickly as possible trying to outdo one another. the result is that one of our two major political parties has begun embracing one radical, half-baked socialist proposal after another. it's really a sight to see. first came the democratic politician protection act, the sweeping washington, d.c. takeover of what americans can say about politics and how they elect their representatives. speaker pelosi and her house colleagues were ready with that from day one in this new congress. they chose it as their number one ceremonial first bill of the year. h.r. 1. let me say, mr. president, this is quite a piece of legislation to hold up as the defining product, bear in mind, the defining product of a new democratic house majority. house democrats are championing
an unprecedented takeover of our nation's electoral system, one that would overhaul campaign rules and make it harder for private citizens to exercise their right to political speech. it would replace private money and political campaigns with your tax dollars. let me say that again. they take your private money contributed to the candidate of your choice out of the political process and replace that with your tax dollars. up to $5 million to any candidate that wants it, even, by the way, if it happens to be a candidate you disagree with. they're going to take your tax money and give it to candidates you don't agree with. and swing the partisan balance of the federal election commission which has the final say in election regulations. oh, oh, it all comes under the guise of, you guessed it, this is about restoring democracy.
of course, mr. president, this sprawling 622-page door stop is never going to become law. i certainly don't plan to even bring it to the floor here in the senate. there's always improvements and reforms to be made, but this certainly isn't. but it does give us a usual if signal of our democratic colleagues' really goals, what they really want to do. democrats look out over the landscape of america today and everywhere they look they see opportunity to seize money and power from american families and communities and palate up in their own hands -- you guessed it -- right here in washington, taxing more, spending more, and washington seizing more power away from the people. that is the democrats' hammer of choice and in every part of
american life, they see a nail. in every part of american life they see a nail. just look at the green new deal. from what we understand, the american people can expect a government-mandated overhaul of every four-walled structure in america. a government-mandated overhaul of every four-walled structure in america. if that were not enough, an end to american fossil fuel and energy production from nuclear power plants. of course along with all the jobs, it would make both of those possible. and according to background document, plans for a government guaranteed income. listen to this. a government guaranteed income for those unwilling to work.
all at the low price of an estimated -- listen to this -- $93 trillion. and, of course, next came the massive one-size-fits-all government-run health care proposal medicare for none. strips everything from our seniors' medicare program but the name. slaps that name on a new government-run plan and they're so confident americans will love their democratic-designed insurance that they feel the need to outlaw competing private insurance altogether, just to make sure there's no competition. democrats want to strip existing health plans away from
middle-class families, even if they're happy with their current coverage and inevitably hike taxes almos for families to payr it. as i said, mr. president, none of these democrats have pulled off their far-left wish list have a chance of becoming law in 2019. a lot of it almost sounds like a standup comedy. but the underlying philosophy that all this represents is no laughing matter whatsoever. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, despite what you hear inside the beltway, the challenges along our southwestern border are real. and the people of texas feel that impact every day along the 1,200-mile common border that we have with mexico. last week, for example, the border patrol in the rio grande valley sector arrested 1,300
illegal immigrants in a single day, the second time in two weeks they exceeded that number. at the same time period, the lore ray dough point of entry seized $3 boy 2 million -- $3.2 million worth of cocaine and mairnlg and sadly a father -- and a father and son nearly drowned while attempting to cross the rio grande but were saved thanks to the border patrol. in small town near eagle pass, a small group was apprehended after crossing the rio grande river. and that was all in texas last week. last year alone, 400,000 people were detained coming across our southwestern border, 400,000. tens of thousands --
unaccompanied children and family units -- were detained as well. these stories have become so common, somehow we've become anesthetized to the human emergency and crisis occurring along the border. and frankly i do not understand why our democratic friends have become completely apathetic when this comes to border security or dealing with what president obama himself called a humanitarian crisis. a few weeks ago now, we know president trump declared a national emergency over this crisis, which would allow some funding to be shifted from other areas to support our border security missions. this decision was met with a great deal of pushback, some of which i believe is warranted and some of which is believe is not. and i'd like to explain what i think is warranted and what i think is not. for those like our -- some of
our colleagues across the capitol, including some of the texas democratic congressional delegation, they call this a fake emergency. i couldn't agree to more. just ask the folks who live alonged border and deal with this each day. the scenes i just described aren't isolated incidents. they are happening daily, weekly, monthly, and at a scale and at a volume that frankly are overwhelming the ability of officials and people along the border to deal with. let's just rewind to 2014. i alluded to this a moment ago. when president obama was president, we saw an unprecedented number of central americans coming across the border claiming asylum. that year 68,000 family units were apprehended at the southern border. family units meaning at least one adult and at least one child. that's what president obama
called a humanitarian crisis. today not much has changed except for the numbers, and it's gotten worse, not better. in the last four months alone, there have been nearly 100,000 family units apprehended at the border. these are people arriving en masse, of thousands, sometimes called a caravan. we know there are dangerous drugs that come in at the same time every day. young women and children being trafficked into sex slavery and migrants being abandoned by coyotes and left to die in the desert. so i don't see a whole lot of difference between what president obama called a humanitarian crisis in 2014 and what president trump in 2019 calls an emergency. and while i agree there is a crisis at our border and more needs to be done, i have been consistent about my concerns with the means by which this
fund something being provided. this whole episode is completely contrived by the fact that the speaker of the house, ms. pelosi, despite the fact we had bipartisan support for the secure fence act in 2006 and 2008, she all of a sudden decided, because the politics suited her, that building any additional physical barrier was immoral. the democratic leader here in the senate said, not one dollar was going to be spent for physical barriers along the border. and we saw an impasse that resulted in the federal government -- or at least 25% of the government being shut down for 35 days. this was completely unnecessary and contrived. this was all about politics and certainly not about trying to find solutions to the problem. i've said before, and i'll say
it again, that where we are now is not anybody's first choice, certainly not mine. we know since many legitimate concerns have been raised about the clear definitions of the role of the legislative and executive branch. and it's clear under the separation of powers that congress holds the check and ch. no -- holds the:00 -- holds the checkbook. we heard the speaker of the house, as i said, refuse to provide more than one dollar for border security. the minority leader said, no additional money would be provided for barriers. well, the reason they made these statements isn't because democrats are all of a sudden opposed to improved border security.
as we've seen in the past, democrats have supported those physical barriers. in 2006, the democratic leader himself and a number of of our current colleagues and then-colleagues, like hillary clinton, supported the secure fence act. but today somehow things are different. democrats refuse to come to the negotiating table, not because they're against border security, presumably; but because their political base dislikes the man sitting behind the resolute desk. that's right. this is not about the facts or the problem presented. this is about whether president trump will be defeated in his attempt to get additional money for border security. and, as the president found out, it's pretty tough to find a compromise when your negotiating partner -- the speaker and the democratic leader of the senate -- refuse to come to the stable at all -- to the table at all.
so the president found himself negotiating against himself. i believe the regular appropriation process should always be the approved method. but, of course, congress -- and this should be a wake-up call to each of us -- congress has approved emergency powers as an exception to the normal process by which money is appropriated. while some are trying to make this seem like a constitutional crisis and some groundbreaking breach of power by president trump, i don't believe those true. because he's using the power that was delegated to the executive branch by congress. in other words, he's not making this up out of whole cloth, like president obama did when he provided the deferred action to childhood arrivals. he said more than 20 times he didn't have authority to do it. there was no statute authorizing that. but he did it anyway, and it continues to be litigated now up
to the supreme court of the united states. but here's what i found when this controversy arrows, when we did -- arose, when we did some research. we found that congress has granted the presidency emergency powers under 123 statutes. 123 statutes. and this marks the 60th time that emergency powers have been invoked under the act since 1978. so congress is responsible for providing this exception to the normal appropriation process, and congress has done it 123 times. and presidents have used those powers 60 times. that ought to put what's happening today in some larger context. previous presidents have used them for things like prohibiting the importation of blood diamonds from sierra leone or
prohibiting new investment in burma. this is not a constitutional crisis, in my view, as some point are painting it to be. but i am concerned about the process, for a few reasons. one is a number of our colleagues have pointed out over the last few weeks that it does set a precedent, a use of these powers under which a conference committee has already come up with a dollar amount for border security that was ultimately signed by the president, and he declared a national emergency on top of that in order to gain access to additional money. and i do worry that this sets a precedent whereby a future president could abuse this authority. these 123 congressional grants of authority to presidents -- any president -- are broad, and they cover everything from the military to public health to
federal pay schedules. some are pretty unremarkable, like the one that allows the secretary of transportation to waive vehicle weight limits on a stretch of i-95 in maine. that's one of the congressional delegations of authority. some's others are more alarming, such as one that would allow the president to suspend the testing of chemical and biological weapons on human subjects. the definition of an emergency is very vague and subjective, which means it will end up being the subject of litigation. yes, lawsuits have already been filed in a federal district court challenging this declaration of an emergency under these circumstances. this gets to my basic problem that this is not a very productive way to actually accomplish the goal if you know that what you're going to do is going to end up being tied up in litigation for the next six
months or years. but i have to ask the question, under these broad grants of authority that congress has previously given to a president, or any president, what would stop a future president prosecute declaring a national emergency over climate change or global warming? i'm concerned that we're going to see these emergency powers used as a failsafe for powers favored by the executive, one who takes it further for a purely ideological role -- goal that in no way comes close to a crisis or emergency. and, yes, i also worry that some of the money that will be accessed under this declaration of national emergency are for military construction projects, many of which are located in texas. this is not a case of whether we need border security or do we need to provide the housing or infrastructure for our military. we need both.
so presidents and congress should not try to rob from peter to pay paul. i, a along with my colleagues, have fought for these appropriations for military construction because they're important to the ability to recruit and retain men and women who volunteer for the military and their families. they're important for our national security. i have and i will continue to push the administration not to let these critical projects get caught in the crosshairs of this dispute over adequate border security funds. and, third and finally, i suggest that congress needs to look in the mirror when it comes to the situation we find ourselves in. the only reason president trump had the authority to do what he did is because congress delegated it to him. just like it's delegated to future presidents and past presidents under these 123 separate grants of authority.
i worry that congress has delegated too much of its power to the executive branch. in the 1944 case korematsu v. united states, the supreme court upheld the internment of japanese americans, something unimaginable today. but in 1944 during the throes of the second world war, it was something that was the official policy of the united states. it went all the way to the supreme court of the united states. justive jackson, one of the three dissenters, said each emergency power, quote, lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need, close quote. i agree with justice jackson's warning. if our democratic colleagues are concerned about how this president or any other president will utilize the powers that this body has given him, perhaps
we should reexamine those powers rather than fault the president for using authorities that congress has already given to him. despite these concerns, i believe the president is operating within the authority that congress has delegated to him. it is strictly because of the dysfunction in the congress and our inability to work together to come up with solutions when it comes to border security or immigration that the president is desperate to find access to the funds he believes are necessary for the national security of our country. as i said, i think this situation reflects more on the dysfunction in washington these days and the inability of congress to work with the president to find bipartisan, commonsense solutions. i think we ought to return to those bipartisan, commonsense solutions rather than engage in some of the drama associated with this particular declaration under this -- these sets of
mr. alexander: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: madam president, on thursday, i suggested that president trump has sufficient congressional authority to spend $5.7 billion he asked for in his
january 6 letter to the senate appropriations committee chairman to build the 234 miles of border wall without resorting to a dangerous national emergency precedent that could upset the constitutional separation of powers that goes to the heart of our freedom. i believe the president has clear authority to transfer up to $4 billion among accounts within the over $600 billion defense budget in order to counter drug activities and to block drug smuggling corridors across international borders. the president said on february 15 that he plans to use $2.5 billion of this same transfer authority to build a -- to build 234 miles of wall along the southern brrd that he cd --
border that he asked for in his january 6 letter. if he would increase the transfer from $2.5 billion to $3.7 billion, then he will have, along with the other existing funding authority that he has, the full $2.57 billion that he said he needed. william e. nelson of new york university law school, one of america's foremost scholars of legal history, wrote an excellent op-ed last week explaining why it is so important that the president and the congress should not, in professor nelson's words, invert the entire constitutional order where congress appropriates and the president spends, unquote. i ask consent to place professor nelson's article in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: and i yield the floor.
a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: what is the pending business? the presiding officer: the pending business is the rushing nomination. mr. wicker: i ask to speak as if in morning business for no more than ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: thank you, madam president. on sunday, february 24, thousands of people marched in moscow and in cities across russia to remember boris nemsov. a russian statement and friend of freedom who was gunned down
within sight of the kremlin walls four years ago. these people were honoring a russian patriot who stood for a better future, a man who after leaving the pinnacle of government chose a courageous path of service to his country and his fellow russians. boris nemsov was a man who walked the walk. when others were silent out of fear or complicity, he stood up for a future where the russian people need not risk jail or worse for simply wanting a say in how their country is run. sadly, since mr. nemsov's assassination, the risks of standing up for what is right have grown in russia. with every passing month, ordinary citizens there become political prisoners for doing what we take for granted here in the united states. associating with a political
cause or worshiping god according to the dictates of one's conscience. last month alone, in a high-profile case, a mother was jailed for the crime of being a political activist in russia. she was kept from caring for her critically ill daughter until just hours before her daughter died. jehovah's witnesses have been sentenced to two years behind bars for practicing their faith, and the leader of a small anticorruption organization was beaten to death with metal rods on the outskirts of moscow. this was all just in february and is not even a comprehensive account of the russian state using its powers, not against real enemies but against its own people. peaceful citizens doing what peaceful citizens do. as to the nemsov assassination, four years later, justice has
yet to be served. it appears that president putin and his cronies have little interest in uncovering and punishing the masterminds behind russia's highest profile killing in recent memory. while a few perpetrators leaked to the kremlin-appointed leader of chechnya were convicted and sent to prison, mr. nemsov's family, friends, and legal team believe the organizers of his murder remain unidentified and at large. i understand that russia's top investigative official has prevented his subordinates from indicting a lows catarov associate, major ruslin garamaev as an organizer in the assassination, and the information linking mr. gamamaev to mr. nemsov's murder was a
credible ally to place garamaev on their surveillance list. russian security cameras continue to release the footage from cameras at the site of the assassination. they refuse to classify the assassination of a prominent opposition leader and a former deputy prime minister as a political crime, and despite all this, they have declared the case solved. given this pattern of deliberate inaction on the part of russian authorities, the need for some accountability outside of russia has grown more urgent. russia and the united states are participating states in the organization for security and cooperation in europe, osce, and have agreed that matters of justice and human rights are of enough importance to be of legitimate interest to other
member states. respect for these principles inside a country is often a predictor of the country's external behavior, so countries such as ours have a reason to be involved. at the recent meeting of the osce's parliament assembly, we began a formal inquiry into mr. nemsov's unsolved murder and have appointed a repertoire to review and report on the circumstances of the nemsov assassination, as well as the progress of the russian investigation. as chair of the united states delegation to the osce parliament assembly, i supported this process from its conception at an event i co-hosted last july in berlin. but as the united states of america, there is more we can do. to that end, i am glad to cosponsor a resolution with my senate colleagues calling on our own government to report back to congress on what we know are the
circumstances around boris nemsov's murder. this resolution also calls on the treasury department to use tools like the magnitsky act to sanction individuals linked to this brutal murder, such as garamaev. we hear constantly from russian opposition figures and civic activists that personal sanctions such as those imposed by the magnitsky act have a deterrent effect. and vladimir putin has made it abundantly clear that these sanctions based on personal accountability are more of a threat to his regime than blunter tools such as sectoral sanctions that often feed his propaganda and end up harming the same people we are trying to help in russia, innocent citizens. to its credit, the trump administration has done a better job than the previous administration in implementing
the new mandates and powers congress authorized in both the russia and global magnitsky acts. we are in a much different place than we were when these tools were originally envisageed nearly ten years ago. the administration is mandated to update the magnitsky act lists annually with a deadline in december that sometimes slips into january. now it is already march, and we have yet to see any new designations under the law that the late mr. nemsov himself called the most pro-russian law ever adopted in a foreign legislature. and while this law has been lauded by russian democrats, it is rightly despised by those like vladimir putin who abused abused -- who abuse and steal from the american people. recall it was at the helsinki summit late last summer between
the leaders of russia and the united states of america, perhaps the grandest stage in u.s.-russian relations in a decade where mr. putin himself requested that his investigators be able to depose u.s. officials most closely associated with passing and implementing the magnitsky law, as if they were criminals. we need to show the russian dictator that this sort of bullying will not stand and that we will continue to implement the magnitsky act thoroughly and fairly. madam president, a year ago i participated, along with many of my colleagues in the house and senate, in the unveiling of boris niment -- nimtsov plaza.
ms. ernst: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. ms. ernst: mr. president, i rise today to speak on russia's ongoing and illegal occupation of ukraine. two weeks ago i had the opportunity to travel to ukraine where i saw firsthand the effects of nearly five years of russian occupation, aggression, and hostilities suffered by the ukrainian people. since russia's illegal seizure of crimea in march of 2014 and
their subsequent invasion of eastern ukraine's region the following month, over 10,000 -- 10,000 people have been killed and many more have been wounded or displaced in the fighting. hiding behind so-called pro-russian separatists in eastern ukraine, the regime of vladimir putin has indiscriminately targeted both civilian and military targets across the line of contact in flagrant violation of the cease-fire and the law of war. in fact, shelling was occurring just one day prior to my visit
to the eastern front. the eastern front. even saying it now before my colleagues in the senate, the phrase seems almost surreal and hearkens back to a bygone era in which the cold war dominated our political landscape. the first time i visited ukraine was in 1989. 1989. as part of an agricultural exchange program. the soviet union was on the verge of collapse. and the spirit of independence, freedom, and self-determination was gaining steam. my gracious ukrainian hosts
didn't want to discuss farming. it wasn't agricultural exchange. but they didn't want to discuss farming. they wanted to know what it was like to be an american. they wanted to know what it was like to have freedom and be independent. just like the oppressive yoke authoritarianism dominated ukraine in 1989, it once again threatens a people who have fought hard to create a nation of laws accountable to its people and its champions of human dignity, free markets, and democratic values. with our help, ukraine has managed to hold the line against the russian aggressors. our security assistance in the
form of intelligent sharing, special operations capacity building, and most recently the delivery of jarv javelin antitak weapons have enabled to deter further russian advances into free ukraine and have caused the russian military forces in occupied donbass to pull their tanks farther away from the front line. unfortunately russia has found other ways to attack ukrainian interests. in november of 2018, just a few months ago, russian naval vessels opened fire and captured three ukrainian ships along with 24 sailors in international waters just south of the strait.
vladimir putin is using his naval supremacy in the region to slowly strangle the ukrainian economy which relies in part on steel and grain shipping from ports in the sea of azoff. while our military aid has been successful in assisting ukrainian efforts along the line of contact in donbass, future military aid must take into account ukraine's need for defensive weapons and assem metric capabilities to counter russian aggression both on land and at sea. only then can ukraine adequately defend its people and sovereignty. in addition to hostile military action, russian intelligence has
been working to undermine the upcoming ukrainian presidential and parliamentary elections much like the interference in our own elections in 2016, putin is seeking to sow discord, spread confusion and undermine the democratic system that has taken root in ukraine. this is indicative of russia's global strategy which seeks to drive a wedge between the united states and our allies, undermine democratic governments, and return to an era of power politics in which brute strength rather than the rule of law governs global interactions. china has adopted a similar albeit more subtle and increasingly aggressive strategy in asia with an overarching goal of displacing american global
leadership. it is thus more important than ever for the united states to work by, with, and through our allies around the world to ensure a future in which our values of freedom, the rule of law, human rights, and free markets prevail for generations to come. today freedoms frontier runs through the line of contact in eastern ukraine. we must never turn our backs on a people yearning for the same freedoms we enjoy here in the united states. doing so not only legitimatizes the actions of thugs, yes, thugs around the world but will inevitably threaten our own rights and freedoms tomorrow which many of us take for granted today.
we are americans and we will always answer the call to preserve freedom while reaching out a hand to those who are fighting to achieve it. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: will the senator withhold. the senator from alabama is recognized. mr. jones: thank you, mr. president. people around the world today have seen the images of the terrible devastation left by tornadoes that touched down in lee county, alabama. lee county is the home to auburn university and so many of the wonderful constituents there have suffered mightily over the last 24 hours. as of right now we know that 23 people have lost their lives,
23. and as we speak, rescue teams and first responders are still out there searching for others who may have been hurt. we pray that we have seen the last of the loss of life, but that is to be determined. already this is one of the deadliest storms in our state's history and louise and i want to offer our most sincere condolences to all of those who have been affected by this horrible event. the youngest victim that we know of was only 6 years old. my heart goes out to all the folks who have lost loved ones, who suffered damage to their homes, and their businesses. and i ask that everyone pray for their comfort and healing. i also want to thank the courageous first responders who put their lives on the line time and time again to help folks in
need. our rescue crews are working around the clock and we're so grateful for them for the work that they do every day but especially on days like today and yesterday after tragedies like these strike. these are our friends and neighbors who step up in the wake of a disaster to help their community sometimes while struggling with the tragedy on a very personal level themselves. unfortunately, mr. president, this is an all-too familiar sight in alabama. we have seen our fair share of natural disasters. on a single day in 2011, an estimated 60 tornadoes devastated so many towns and cities, including coleman and hackleburg, pratt city and tuesday looks came -- tuscaloosa
killing over 20 people. that day was personally personal for my wife louise. i was out of town that day attending a judicial conference and called her as she was watching on television how her town was being destroyed. debris flying everywhere and she could barely speak. she can still barely speak about it today. as u.s. attorney in april of 1998, i saw firsthand the devastating damage to oak grove and edgewater communities where 32 people lost their lives. that destruction in edgewater was especially personal to me because that is where my grandparents lived for so, so many years and where my parents lived when i was first born. i can remember walking across the slab that was left of the little church where my parents attended when i was born that day, walking across with president clinton. it is unbelievable to witness
that kind of damage. jacksonville, alabama is still rebuilding after a tornado severely damaged their city last year, including the campus of jacksonville state university. last fall hurricane michael ravaged our farm lands and the wire grass in south alabama destroying cotton crops that were ready for harvest and 30-year-old timber. yesterday's tornadoes touched down at a time when north alabama is already dealing with historic flooding in cherokee county. you know, mr. president, i mentioned it seems all too often these have a personal note. as i checked in with my staff last night, i realized that two of my staffers who are here with me on the floor today, jared and michael, they also are from that area. they were concerned. it's a horrible situation to be this far away and know that
what's going on in your hometown and not knowing whether your loved ones are in the path of that destruction. alabama, however, is a resilient place, and we have an incredibly capable disaster preparedness and response agency, one that works round the clock when needed. but given all that we have faced over the past year, we will still need help. while there is much yet to be done in the immediate aftermath of this storm, we know that a full recovery will take a great deal of time and resources. so i'm here tonight to ask my colleagues in the senate to stand ready to help lee county rebuild and heal. disasters will strike all of our communities at some point or another, and that makes it all the more important that we work together when they do. to the folks in lee county, alabama, who've lost everything,
who've lost loved ones in this disaster, i'm in this for the long haul with you. i promise you that. i know things will never be the same for many folks. but i do promise that i'll do everything i can to help. i've already been working with senators purdue and isakson sand others to secure disaster funding for the 23018 storms that hit -- for the 2018 storms that i think had the southeast last year. we're hoping we can get an agreement on that bill very soon and get it on to the president's desk so the farmers can be ready for the next crop they're about to go into, the next planting season. in the days ahead, i will be working closely with colleagues in the senate to secure federal disaster funding that includes lee county, alabama. despite the fact that we're in the early staples, it is early to see from the photographs and the video, the devastation, that they will need it.
we've been in touch with the governor and other local officials who how we in the senate can best help. as the dust settles, we will be down there to try to make sure that our offices do what is necessary to help those fine people. mr. president, in the face of all these terrible tragedies, the thing that gives me hope is the strength of my fellow alabamians. they're an amazing, amazing citizenry, amazing people from one end of that state to the other who see tragedy but build on that tragedy and always never lose hope. even though an event like this can be incredibly difficult, i've seen the resolve of the people of alabama, around inside know that we'll be -- and i know that we'll be able to rise and rebuild. thank you, mr. president. i will conclude my remarks on that, but i would like to take one other moment. at this point, i will want to
take this opportunity to congratulate my friend and my senate colleague, richard shelby. yesterday on sunday, march 2, he became the longest-serving alabama senator in history. beating the record of the late-senator john spartmouth, a vice presidentdential nominee. senator shelby's legacy in alabama is unparalleled. beginning over in the house of representatives and first elected to this body in the election of 1986, taking office in january of 1987. he is leaving a remarkable mark on alabama every day that he is in the united states senate. there are so many things that the people of bam about a are thingful for, and, mr. president, i can assure that you i am both thankful and honored to be in the senate with him and to serve alongsighted of him. thank you -- alongside of him.
minutes, i ask unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: mr. president, i am from georgia. last night in georgia and alabama, throughout the southeast, some of the worst tornadoes went through that have ever gone flew in history. 23 alabamians were killed last night. a number of homes in georgia are wiped out and ruined. i don't think we had a death, but we had 23 in alabama. it continues, the rise of tragedies that are happening in the southeast. in a few weeks we're going to ask the senate to pass disaster bill to reinstate some of the agricultural money for the last two years, to help our pecan crop, our apple, blueberry crop and others. i just want to on behalf of the georgia people say we're having a tough time. our agricultural community is having the most difficult time it could possibly be. we're going to ask the senate to work with us to make an appropriation that will make sense to bring back those pecan
and blueberry farms in georgia and alabama. but also say a prayer for thanksgiving for the great opportunity we have to live in the southeast but also recognize that we are now ground zero for tornadoes and those type of death-defying actions that are taking place. we want to know all the people in georgia and alabama, that our prayers go out to them and we'll do everything we can to make them right. i yield back my time, mr. president. thank you. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
purr purr mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. perdue: i. mr. isakson: i would like to yield back the balance of our time and call the previous question. i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of allison joan rushing of north carolina to be united states circuit judge for the fourth circuit, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of allison joan rushing of north carolina to be the united states circuit judge for the fifth circuit shall be brought to a close.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader yield. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that all postcloture time on the rushing nomination expire sat 4:00 p.m. tuesday, march 5. further, if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the 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. mcconnell: i have one request for a committee to meet during today's session of the senate. it has the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. mcconnell: i understand that h.r. 1112 has been received from the house and is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the titler bill for the first time. the clerk: h.r. 1112, an act to amend chapter 44 of title 18,
united states code, to strengthen the background check procedures to be followed before a federal firearms licensee may transfer a fire armto a person who is not such a licensee. mr. mcconnell: i ask for a second reading and object to my own request. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will be read for the second time on the next legislative day. mr. mcconnell: i understand there are two bills at the desk due a second reading en bloc. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the titles of the bill for the second time. the clerk: s. 617 is a bill to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to extend certain expiring provisions to provide disaster tax relief and for our purposes. -- and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the bills on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i would object to further proceedings en bloc. the presiding officer:
objection having been herbed the bills will be placed on the calendar. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the committee on armed services be discharged from further consideration of s. 252 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. reservation 92, -- s. res. 92 -- s. 252, a bill forbe the robert j. dole to the grade of colonel in the regular army. the presiding officer: without objection. committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the bill be read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. is reserve 92 submitted earlier
today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: designating the first week of april 2019 as national asbestos awareness week. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i have know of no further debate on the measure. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, the question is on adoption of the resolution. all those in favor, say aye. all opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the resolution is adopted. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the preamble be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection.
the presiding officer: the clerk will read for the second time the title of h.r. 8. the presiding officer: the presiding officer: h.r. 8, aen act to require a background check for every firearms sale. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate -- proceedings on the bill just reported. the presiding officer: objection having been,the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. tuesday, march 5. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour 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, morning business be closed, and the senate proceed to executive
session and resume consideration of the rushing nomination under the previous order. finally, that the senate recess from 12:30 until 2:15 to allow for weekly conference meetings. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: so if there is no further business to come before the snarks i i ask is it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until