tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN September 11, 2019 9:30am-11:30am EDT
eastern and start on debate of several more, including a federal reserve member and a number of federal judges. a number of nomination votes is set for this afternoon at 2:45 eastern and throughout the day remarks are expected on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, you are our defender and hope. on this 18th anniversary of
september 11, we thank you that you never give us burdens too great to bear. continue to remind us that eternal vigilance is the price for freedom. comfort the families of those who died on 9/11, surrounding them with your mercy and grace. lord, incline your ears to our intercession. teach us how to embrace the things that lead to peace as you instruct us on how to fulfill your purposes on earth. today use our lawmakers as
instruments of reconciliation. we pray in your merciful name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in the pledge of allegiance. 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: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask to speak in morning business for one minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: the chaplain opened our senate in prayer reminding everybody what happened 18 years ago today, a disastrous attack on the united states. so referring to that same 18 years, i say our nation changed forever following an act of cowardice from the enemies of freedom. the events of september 11 have left an indelible mark on american and world history and certainly on the lives of the victims' families. we pray now as we did then that
god may heal the wounds of those injured and the wounds left by those lost that day, that they may find peace on this solemn day. let us recall the sacrifices made that day to preserve our way of life and honor each day the pledge never forget. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from illinois is recognized. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you, madam president. this week, there was a significant development when it came to public health and our children in america. by way of preface to what i am about to say, i want to make it clear that i have during the course of my service in the house and senate focused a great deal of my effort on tobacco, the addiction that people have to tobacco cigarettes and the deadly consequences of that addiction. my family has been touched by it, as most have in america. i lost my father when i was in high school. two packs a day, lung cancer victim. we buried him at the age of 53. i remember to this day. but i'm not alone. literally thousands of
americans, millions perhaps, have a similar story to tell. so from the beginning of my service in the house of representatives, i started looking for ways to deal with this scourge of tobacco cigarette addiction. many years ago, over 25 years ago, i introduced a measure which banned smoking on airplanes, and to my great surprise, it managed to pass the house of representatives. senator frank lautenberg of new jersey who was on the appropriations subcommittee with responsibility, he took it on in the senate, passed it, we made it the law of the land, banning smoking on airplanes. i didn't realize, i'm sure senator lautenberg didn't that we had triggered a tipping point or a reaction that led to banning smoking at so many other venues. ultimately now we have reached a point now where no one would even consider walking into my office and lighting up a cigarette. even asking for permission to light a cigarette. it just is unthinkable.
but 25 years ago, it was common. so things have changed, but what has happened is big tobacco having lost its marketplace position and lost its profitability has moved to a new product, e-cigarettes and vaping. this company juul, which is the largest provider of these e-cigarette devices in the united states, has a huge stock ownership of tobacco companies. this is their new venue, their new approach, but much as with tobacco cigarettes, the vaping industry is counting on addicting children so that they can build their ranks. addicting teenagers. tobacco cigarettes did the same with joe camel and marlboro cowboy, and now we see the same thing occurring when it comes to e-cigarettes and vaping. the food and drug administration commissioner, dr. gottlieb -- previous food and drug administration commissioner, really characterized it properly when he called it an epidemic.
we now have 3% of american adults who are using vaping devices. 20% of america's teenagers and children using vaping devices. it's a new school year, and many of these students are heading off to middle schools and high schools with new backpacks and maybe new laptops and new lockers and new teachers and new classrooms, new friends, and a new addiction, the addiction of vaping. vaping targets kids. they are introducing flavors that can be mixed with this vaping experience that appeal directly to children and teenagers in this country. how in the world can you imagine that someone who is a 50-year-old chain-smoker trying to quit is going to go choose a flavor pod called unicorn milk or bubble gum or gummy bears? they're all out there. they are designed to lure children and sadly they are effective. for months now, i have been
begging this administration and the food and drug administration to do something about this epidemic. and until this week, they did little or nothing, but this week was a breakthrough. the food and drug administration announced early this week that they were going to stop juul from advertising that their vaping products were a safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes. the reason is obvious. we have hundreds and hundreds of vaping victims now showing up at hospitals. as of last night, the sixth victim in america died from a vaping experience. why? because they are ingesting into their lungs in these huge clouds of vapor and smoke chemicals that are killing them, chemicals that are stopping their lungs from functioning. they don't realize it at the time. it's just another wild experience. and they're told, by the way, by juul and others that it's safer than tobacco cigarettes. it's not safe. it's deadly.
and it's an epidemic in this country. this week, the american medical association stepped up as well, and i want to commend them. dr. patrice harris, the president of the american medical association, made the following release this week. quote, in light of increasing reports of e-cigarette-associated lung illnesses across the country, the american medical association urges the public to avoid the use of e-cigarette products until health officials further investigate and understand the cause of these illnesses. she goes on to say, the e-cigarette-related lung illnesses currently sweeping across the country reaffirm our belief that the use of e-cigarettes in vapings is an urgent public health epidemic that must be addressed. we must not stand by while e-cigarettes continue to go unregulated. we urge the u.s. food and drug administration to speed up the regulation of e-cigarettes and remove all unregulated products from the market. we also call on the f.d.a. to immediately ban flavors as well
as marketing practices that enhance the appeal of e-cigarette products to use. madam president, the food and drug administration commissioner has the authority today before the sun sets on this 9/11 anniversary, he has the authority today to ban these flavor pods that are attracting children and adding to this epidemic at our high schools and middle schools across the united states. this food and drug administration administrator, dr. ned sharpless, has the authority to take off the market scores if not hundreds of vaping devices that have been introduced to the public after the official date of deeming last year. he can do it today. it would have a dramatic effect starting tomorrow, and he could start enforcing it with the retailers across america. if he scared and if he was serious. now we have an opportunity to test him and to test this administration. will they go the next step in warning america's schools,
teachers, families, and children about this epidemic and the deadly consequences of ignoring it? will they take these products off the market this week? that's my challenge to them and every american parent who dearly loves their child and cares about their health i hope will join me in this effort urging this administration to take decisive action to protect the kids across america. i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: with only a few weeks to go until the end of september, we have no time to waste when it comes to appropriations. we have planned for the senate to consider bipartisan bills from the appropriations committee as soon as next week and make significant headway before a partial interim continuing resolution becomes necessary at the end of the
month. to this end, madam president, democrats and republicans in both the house and the senate, plus president trump, formalized an agreement a month ago. they set up funding levels to inform the appropriations process. and everyone on both sides agreed there would be no poison pills, no partisan wrenches thrown into the gears. unfortunately, yesterday brought some disturbing signals that democrats may be rethinking that commitment. new poison pills are apparently being discussed, but everyone knows what we agreed to last month. in fact, back on august 1, i asked consent to print the entire terms sheet that everyone agreed to in the record. so i maintain hope that chairman shelby and ranking member leahy can oversee a smooth process, that we can move all 12 appropriation bills in a bipartisan fashion.
both sides have every reason to want a smooth appropriations process to proceed as we have planned. i hope that's exactly what happens in committee this week and on the floor soon thereafter. now, on another matter, as he departs the position of national security advisor, i want to thank ambassador john bolton for his many years of valuable service to our country. personally, i have always appreciated john's candor and clear advice. he possesses something crucial -- the ability to understand the world the way it is. he knows there are many threats to american interests and that those threats will not recede if we retreat. he understands that american leadership is essential to keeping these threats and enemies at bay and that our partners and allies rarely act without us. john appreciates the need to
stand up to adversaries like putin's russia, approach them from a position of strength, and hold them accountable for their lies and their misdeeds. i wish him well wherever his career next takes him. of course the president deserves to choose his own team, and he has assembled a strong one. he and our nation are well served by leaders like secretary pompeo, expect esper and director haspel. these national security leaders have been chosen by the president and confirmed by the senate. now, on another entirely different matter, for 18 years, today's date has held a tragic meaning. september 11 is a day of mourning, a date stained by the terrorist murders of so many innocent people in new york, arlington, and pennsylvania.
each passing day, the reality is still shocking. the wounds are still painful. each year, we remember the innocent men, women, and children who lost their lives, workers rushing to meetings, vacationers headed home, emergency personnel whose quick response immortalized them as heroes. and each year, we honor the memories of the heroes who have sacrificed their lives to bring the perpetrators of this evil to justice and to prevent similar attacks. 9/11 changed our way of life. it changed our approach to security. it awakened us to determined new enemies. the dangers of radical islamic terrorists remain real. al qaeda, its enablers and its allies still plot against america from afghanistan and pakistan to yemen, somalia,
libya, mali and beyond. isis persists in iraq and libya through a network of underground terrorists who have not yet given up the fight. we cannot walk away from these dangers. we must not leave our work undone. many nations have a stake in defeating the terrorists. nato allies have been with the u.s. since the early hours of this fight. 18 years ago this critical alliance invoked article 5 for the first time. since then many nato partners have fought side by side with us in afghanistan, in iraq, and in syria. we are not and need not be the world's policemen. winning this long war, like the cold war, will require sustained efforts and contributions not only from the united states, but from our allies, and especially from
local partners. in afghanistan, for example, the vast majority of the fighting is done by local security forces. but we must always remember the global coalition to defeat the terrorists will not leave us out. as we remember the tragedies of the past, we must reef new our commitment -- we must renew our commitment to leading the fight for the future. today may the memory of the nearly 3,000 victims who lost their lives on this day in 2001 serve as a lasting reminder of what's as state in the fight against terrorism, to continue the necessary work of defending our homeland. may we always keep in our thoughts the diplomats and first responders who have given their lives in pursuit of our nation's security. mr. president, i ask unanimous
consent that following the disposition of the akard nomination, the majority leader and the democratic leader both have a minute to speak and the senate then observe a moment of silence in remembrance of the events of september 11, 2001. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
morning, my city, our country, our world changed forever. in the span of a few hours, the twin towers fell, the pentagon was hit, smoke rose from an empty field in pennsylvania. more than 3,000 souls were taken from us that day. i knew some of them, a guy i played basketball with in high school, a businessman who helped me on my way up, a firefighter i did blood drives with. it was one of the bloodiest days on american soil since the civil war. each year we pause to remember that awful day. we mourn those we lost. but we also recognize that in the aftermath of september 11, the resiliency of the american people, the resiliency of new yorkers shone through one of the darkest hours in our country. looking back remains difficult, even after 18 years.
i ride my bike through the city of new york. every fifth or sixth street is named after a firefighter or police officer who died in parts of brooklyn and places like that. i'll never forget, i think of it all the time, the day after when president bush sent senator clinton and i to go to new york in planes. we were the only planes in the sky. an airlineer had us surrounded by f-18's and f-16's. and we landed, went down to the site. the smell of death and burned flesh in the air. it is a scene i will never forget. 1,000 people lined up. no one knew who had lived and who had died, with little signs, have you seen my mother mary? have you seen my son, bill? that stays with you.
i remember the generosity of new yorkers. a man who owned a shoe store right north of the towers gave out free shoes to everybody who was fleeing, and many of them had lost their shoes in the long trek down the stairs. i remember the valor of the first responders who rushed to the towers. i remember a firefighter from staten island based in brooklyn, went to his firehouse, put his full gear on, ran through the tunnel with about 60, 70 pounds of gear on him. went up -- he was on his day off but he knew he was called. went up the stairs of the world trade center and was crushed when the towers collapsed. so there's a lot. another way i think of this every day -- i'm sure you've noticed, i always wear this flag on my lapel. i called on americans to wear the flag the day after having
witnessed the site. and i've worn this flag every day since. and every time i look at it, i think of those who were lost and i think of the valor of new yorkers and the american people. for the first responders, this 9/11 carries additional significance. a few months ago some of the heroes that day were here in washington to celebrate the permanent reauthorization of the victim compensation fund. i want to thank the first responders who came to washington and helped secure this funding. especially those who are no longer with us. james adroga, luis alvarez and my dear friend ray phifer. wherever they are, i hope they're looking down with the knowledge that their brothers and sisters are being taken care of. god bless those good heroes. may god continue to bless this resilient nation. later this morning i'll return to the floor with the republican
leader and my colleagues as we will respect a moment of silence in memory of september the 11th. on a different subject, i want to return this morning to the topic of appropriations. we have until the end of this work period to figure out a way to continue government funding and there's good talk of a short-term continuing resolution so the government doesn't run out of money september 30. but the larger question is, how this chamber is going to proceed or not proceed with the 12 appropriation bills that fund our government. despite many disagreements between the majority and minority in this chamber, the senate has been able to produce several bipartisan budget deals even in the trump era. the reason we were able to do that was that both parties committed to working together throughout each stage of the appropriations process.
bipartisanship, appropriations can only work with it and will not work without it. earlier this summer, democrats and republicans negotiated the broad outlines of a budget deal in good faith. we allocated the 302a's and came up with a side agreement. the very first step in the appropriations process after that now is we said were to agree in a bipartisan way with the allocations to the 12 subcommittees of the appropriations committee. that's what we did in 2018, and i believe it passed the committee unanimously or maybe with one dissenting vote. it was unanimously on a bipartisan basis the appropriations committee passed those 302-b allocations 31-0. that's how we thought it was going to work now but already we're running into trouble with those allocations this time around. the republican majority on the appropriations committee has
unilaterally proposed putting $12 billion addition -- 12 billion additional dollars to the president's border wall, taking away $5 billion of funding of health and human services, desperately needed programs like health care and fighting opioid addiction, cancer research, and putting it into the wall without our okay, without our acknowledgment, without our acceptance. they also reprogrammed funding from other sources and backfilled money the president proposes to pilfer from military construction which has affected, i believe, 30 states. my republican colleagues, my friend, the republican leader, know very well this will not fly with senate democrats. we're not going to vote for a budget that is partisan, attempted to be jammed down our throat. that puts an additional $12 billion in the wall. forget that. so here we are already at one -- step one in the appropriations
process and the spirit of bipartisanship necessary for this work might be, might be melting away. i just warn my republican colleagues this is not a way to produce a budget. this is the same path you tried to go down last year to -- year, shut down the government and had to walk it back. we all know what a partisan process looks like. president trump caused the longest government shutdown in american history by demanding funding for a border wall and then shutting down the government when congress didn't give it to him. let's not go down that exact path again nine months later. there's still time to get the process back on track. the republican majority should sit down with democrats on the committee and r, -- and in good faith come up with the 302-b allocation, come up with the order by which we bring bills to the floor, and we can get this
done. we don't have to go back to a c.r. and certainly our side wants to avoid a republican shutdown and we hope our republican colleagues will have the good sense not to let president trump lead them into that cul-de-sac once again. so let's sit down and make this work. that's what we want to do. not by unilaterally declaring something and saying take it or leave it but by working together where each side has to give. now on gun safety. in response to the scenes of senseless violence in america throughout the month of august, leader mcconnell promised that the issue of gun safety would be, quote, front and center when congress returned. democrats are eager to debate this issue, and we believe we have a great place to start. the bipartisan, house-passed bill on universal background checks. leader mcconnell has also suggested that president trump will determine if and what the senate will vote on. so we need to know what the
president might support. throughout the month of august, frankly, the president was all over the map saying he wanted strong background check legislation one day and then saying the next day we don't need them at all. makes no sense. the president doesn't seem to know what he wants. my republican colleagues met with the president yesterday and ostensibly discussed the issue of gun safety. i asked them where is the president on this issue? will he support universal background checks? we're eager to move forward with this debate. we want to vote on the h.r. 8 bill, simple bill of universal background checks, doesn't impede the rights of any legitimate gun owner, only gets in the way of felons and spousal abusers and those adjudicated mentally ill from getting guns and no one thinks they should get them. so the president needs to make his position clear and soon. if he continues to refuse to state his position or keeps flipping around, the senate
should proceed to debate this on its own. in any case, you can be sure democrats will not let the issue of gun safety fall by the wayside. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: 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, department of state, stephen akard of indiana to be director of the office of foreign missions. mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. thune: mr. president, as i begin this morning, i need to mention the tornado that tore through my hometown of sue falls
last night. thankfully there appears to be fatalities but there was a lot of structural damage. i'm grateful to all the emergency responders, the electric crews, and all those who worked through the night to keep residents safe. my thoughts are with sioux falls today and with all those who are dealing with the tornadoes after -- tornado's aftermath. i had the opportunity this morning to speak with mayor paul tenheadachen of sioux falls who was up throughout the night with his team and just expressed our support tom, to his team and community as they begin the process of cleanup and recovery from what was a very, very damaging storm. also talked with my wife and older daughter who lives in sioux falls, both of whom were in their basements last night as most i think residents were but glad to hear that people took the necessary steps to keep themselves and their families
safe. as i reported so far, knock on wood, we're not aware of injuries associated with that. i will continue to monitor the situation and my staff and i are available to help with whatever is needed as a result of this storm. mr. president, it's difficult to believe that it's been 18 years since the september 11 attacks. that bright september morning is seared in my minds as if it were yesterday. the shock, the horror, the sense of unreality. in the days that followed, the grief and loss. but also the resolve and the unity of purpose. and as always where there is great evil, good rolls up in response. the courageous passengers on flight 93 who lay down their lives to protect their fellow americans. vietnam veteran and morgan
stanley security chief rick riscora who successfully evacuated more than 2,000 of his firm's employees from the world trade center and died returning to help evacuate others. jason thomas and dave carne, two former marines who sped to the towers saving the lives of the to port authority officers they found trapped in the rubble. national guard pilots, heather penney and mark sasseville who scrambled their f-16's weaponless to meet the threat headed toward d.c. prepared to sacrifice their lives by ramming their aircraft into flight 93 before it could hit the capitol or the white house. the hundreds of first responders who ran toward the towers, toward the inferno and headed up the steps while civilians ran down. and then there were the countless ordinary americans far away from new york and washington who flooded blood
banks and overwhelmed organizations like the red cross with their donations, who stormed heaven with prayers for the missing and the injured and the suffering, who proudly flew their flags and reached out to their neighbors. and in the weeks and months and years to come, there was the 9/11 generation of soldier, those who signed up in the wake of september 11 to fight back against the terrorists and to those who are already serving. they deployed around the globe to fight terror and to defend freedom. and thousands of them laid down their lives. 18 years on we remember the horror of that september day but we are also lifted up by the memory of the heroes who came out of it. for those of us who serve here in congress, the anniversary of september 11 is also a reminder of the obligation that we have to provide for our nation's defense and to ensure that we are prepared to meet and defeat any threat. i'm proud that here in the
senate members of both parties have worked together over the pation couple of years to rebuild our nation's military after years of underfunding and the strains of the war on terror. september 11 is also a reminder of our obligation to care for those who stand between us and danger. our soldiers, our veterans, our first responders, our law enforcement officers. they take on a heavy burden so that the rest of us can live in peace and safety. we owe them a debt that we can never repay. this year congress overwhelmingly passed legislation making the september 11 victim compensation fund permanent to ensure that first responders whose health has suffered in the wake of their work at ground zero at the pentagon and in pennsylvania will have the resources that they need. mr. president, while we're on the subject of veterans like all my colleagues, i'm sadden thad senator johnny isakson is retiring at the end of this year. we're members of the same freshman class in 2004. he's been a tireless advocate
for veterans during these time here and he will be deeply missed but his hard work as the head of the veterans affairs committee here in the senate will continue to bear fruit and we will continue to work to implement the v.a. reforms that he shepherded to ensure our veterans we serve -- receive the care that they have earned. mr. president, i was here in washington, d.c. on september 11 and evacuated the capitol complex. one of the things i remember very clearly from that day is the capitol police officers who directed us out of the buildings. we were running from the danger. they weren't. they weren't going anywhere until they were sure every last man and woman had made their way out. against that spirit of courage and self-sacrifice, evil will never ultimately triumph. may god bless all those who stand between us and danger. may he bless the victims of september 11 and their families, and may he continue to bless the
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. the senate is in a quorum call. mr. crapo: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator is recognized. mr. crapo: i rise to speak on the nomination of governor michelle bowman to be a member of the board of governors of the federal reserve system and the nomination of thomas peter feddo as assistant secretary of treasury for investment security in the committee on foreign investment in the united states. first governor bowman. michelle bowman currently serves as a governor on the federal reserve board and was the first person to fill the federal reserve community -- federal reserve's community banking seat. after her confirmation last year by a bipartisan vote of 64-34.
her current term expires on january 30, 2020, and president trump has renommed her to the same position for a full 14-year term. prior to serving as governor, she was the state bank commissioner of kansas from january, 2017, to november, 2018. she also served as vice president of a kansas-based community bank, farmers and drovers bank between 2010 and 2017, and served in a number of government roles. confirming governor bowman to a new 14-year term will provide the needed stability on the board. during her current term as governor, she has played a crucial role at the federal reserve by providing the community banking perspective and highlighting their importance to people, households, and small businesses across this nation. as well as the united states
economy broadly. she has also contributed meaningfully toward appropriately tailoring regulations, in accordance with senate bill 2155. if confirmed, i'm confident her experience and skill will continue to benefit the board in promoting the effective operation of the u.s. economy and serving the public interest. i will be voting in support of governor bowman and urge my colleagues to vote in support of her nomination as well today. turning for a moment to another important issue regarding the federal reserve, i want to reinforce that maintaining the independence of the federal reserve is of the utmost importance in this country. the recent remarks made by former new york fed president dudley urging the federal reserve to sway an election by using monetary policy are incredibly troubling. the job of the federal reserve
is to provide this nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system. i continue to encourage the federal reserve to conduct its monetary policy while remaining independent of politics. now i'd like to turn to the nomination of thomas peter feddo as assistant secretary of the treasury for investment security in the committee on foreign investment in the united states. what we often call cfius. cfius plays an important role in the investment market by reviewing the national security implications of certain transactions involving foreign investment in the united states. congress recognized and underscored the importance of this national security job when it repurposed the previous assistant secretary slot with passage of frma last july.
up until that time, the assistant secretary split his time between cfius and work on international markets, and today the assistant secretary for investment and security is dedicated 100% to cfius responsibilities. mr. feddo's nomination comes at an important time in history when china's ambitions forced congress to reevaluate the reliance of u.s.-china commerce and the laws and regulations governing that connectivity. frma expanded the jurisdictional reach of cfius to better protect u.s. cutting edge technology companies from hostile foreign takeover and influence, based on a couple of concerns. first, that cfius did not have this ability into many investments from china that might provide coercive influence over u.s. cutting edge
technology companies. second, these investments were resulting in technology transfers that could convey capabilities advancing chinese economic and security interests while restricting the u.s. military and national security structure from leveraging that technology. frma not only increased the bandwidth of cfius will yous about expanded the resources given to it to meet the new level of today's challenges. the time is now to fill this sensitive vacancy. thomas feddo is the ideal candidate to take up the mantle because he has the keen intellect and natural suspicions of a dedicated financial warrior. he currently leads the u.s. department of treasury's office of investment security in executing treasury's statutory role as the chair of cfius during one of the most trying times that investment markets have seen.
for over a year now, he has led the cfius team at treasury, but before that, he put in a seven-year tour at the treasury department's office of foreign assets control where he oversaw implementation and enforcement of some 29 u.s. sanctions programs. as a graduate of the u.s. naval academy, with a degree in naval engineering, mr. feddo served as a lieutenant in the navy's nuclear submarine force and as an officer at the navy antiterrorist alert center. because of his unique experience and his technical education, once confirmed, mr. feddo will hit the ground running, moving cfius forward in pursuit of its continuing mission to guard u.s. technology leadership from foreign adversaries. i look forward to continuing conversations with him on opportunities to improve america's foreign investment review system which requires constant vigilance.
i also look forward to working with him on how we can make cfius programs more effective and efficient and be a faithful steward of u.s. taxpayer dollars. mr. feddo enjoys nearly unanimous support from stakeholders which speaks volumes to his strong track record of experience and expertise. thomas feddo's nomination was advanced by a voice vote in the senate banking committee on june 18, 2019, with overwhelming bipartisan support. i ask my colleagues once again to vote to confirm him to this critical post. thank you, mr. president. mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, before i begin, i would like to take just a moment to remember the thousands of innocent lives lost 18 years
ago today and to thank the first responders who so bravely sacrificed their lives in the service of others. september 11 is a day that will always weigh heavily upon our nation, but it is also a day that shows the strength and resiliency of the american people. in response to tragedy, we saw beyond our differences and came together as a country. that is a lesson we must never forget. now today, mr. president, i come to the floor as a voice for families in my home state of washington who have had enough of just, quote, thoughts and prayers, and as a mother and a grandmother who has had enough of them too. my heart breaks with every report of another horrific mass shooting. like my colleagues here today and the rest of our country, i watched in horror last month as devastating gun violence claimed dozens of innocent lives and threw our communities into a
state of panic yet again. this heartbreak has become all too familiar to so many of us, from el paso and odessa to dayton, to merriesville in my home state of washington, in schools, in theaters, in community spaces across our country. so what we are doing here today is refusing to accept this as normal and demanding the change that so many families are crying out for democrats are committed toeding the voices of -- to heeding the voices of leaders to address this crisis. that's why i'm joining my colleagues on the senate floor throughout today to call on leader mcconnell to take up commonsense gun safety legislation, starting with universal background checks. we know universal background
checks save lives by closing dangerous loopholes to help keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. that's why more than 80% of americans support universal background checks and are demanding immediate action from congress to make universal background checks the law of the land. and there certainly are other steps we can take as well. we could strengthen the extreme risk protection orders which have worked in my home state of washington. we can revive the assault weapons ban or invest in gun violence research prevention and regulate firearm magazine limits. all of those steps could save lives and prevent more families from enduring the horrific pain and trauma too many already have. but h.r. 8, the universal background check legislation that has already passed the house, is literally sitting here in the senate, waiting to be called up for a vote.
so as i close, i want to be clear. passing universal background checks must be this body's first order of business if we are serious about protecting people and helping to keep guns out of the wrong hands. and i and all of my democratic colleagues and so many others are going to keep up the pressure as long as we have to to get this done. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: