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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  April 10, 2019 5:44pm-7:16pm EDT

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quorum call:
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mr. brown: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. today on the other side of this building, the c.e.o.'s of the biggest wall street banks face tough questions about the way their banks have scammed and broken laws and gotten away with it as every american knows. our banking committee staff analyzed the data. it's pretty clear these banks
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are breaking the laws over and over and over again. watchdogs will take enforcement actions against a bank only to find out the same bank is breaking the rules in an entirely different way, in a different part of the bank at the same time. we need to hold these banks and the corporate executives who run them accountable for their actions, which we have simply not done. trump regulators haven't done t. the senate majority hasn't done it. we simply haven't done it. hardworking americans face real consequences when they break the law. so should wall street banks. the chair of the financial services committee maxine waters is doing the right thing in the house calling in these c.e.o.'s. we need to be doing the same thing in the senate. i've called for -- i've called on my counterpart on the banking committee chairman crapo to hold a hearing so we can question big bank executives about their law breaking. there are plenty of actions the president and his administration
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could take on their own to punish these banks when they break the rules. but instead this administration, this majority leader do exactly the opposite. last year congress passed president trump's signed legislation rolling back -- rolling back laws protecting working families from wall street greed. the big banks, of course, asked for weaker rules. they've forgotten what happened. they haven't forthen. -- forgotten. they hope the people and certainly the senate republicans have forgotten what happened ten years ago. so congress passed and the president signed legislation rolling back laws protecting working families from wall street greed, as i said. the big banks wanted weaker rules and they get them, even though it puts millions of families at risk of losing their jobs and losing their homes again. president trump said okay, let's do what the big banks want. we know that the white house looks like a retreat half the time for wall street executives and we know that the president
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of the united states does the bidding of wall street over and over again. the year before that, the year before weakening these rules, congress passed and president trump signed $1.5 trillion -- that's a thousand billion, $1.5 trillion tax cuts for corporations and big banks and the richest americans. since the republican tax bill passed, corporations have bought back $900 billion of their own stock. i was in the white house one day. a group of senators meeting with the president of the until. he said this tax bill that they were about to pass, that he hoped would pass would mean they wine vest -- the corporation would invest all these dollars into higher wages for workers and they -- and new factories nrks growing the -- factories, in growing the economy. what happened with a lot of this money, a lot of this money is they used this money to do corporate -- they used this money to do buybacks, stock buybacks. the eight companies with the
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most stock buybacks, with the most billion dollars of stock buybacks, half of them were wall street banks. we know wall street can never get enough, never enough power, never enough money. they always want more. one bank lobbyist said we don't want to -- want a seat at the table. we want the whole table. in this president, this president think that's just -- and this congress and this president think that's just fine. bank, haggle over the stress test results, take away the right to have the day in court when banks scam them. that wasn't enough for wall street. to days ago the fed announced they're going to roll back more rules on foreign mega banks. these are not just u.s. banks with u.s. employees. these are foreign mega banks. we're talking about banks that have broken u.s. law over and over and over again. i'm not growing to document all those but there are many, many cases of these banks, these foreign mega banks breaking the law, breaking u.s. law. banks like santander that illegally repossess servicemen's
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cars. so men and women overseas protecting our country, santander, a spanish-owned bank doing business in the united states actually repossessed these service members' cars. deutsche bank, we know deutsche bank is about the only big bank in the world that will finance the president because he has a history and habit of cheating banks and not paying back loans so deutsche bank because of the relationship that deutsche and president trump have, deutsche bank is doing just fine. we also know that deutsche bank laundered money breaking u.s. law, not even counting the president's insidious activities with them. deutsche bank broke u.s. law by laundering money. but you know what? the fed gives them rollback rules because we don't want to be too tough on the foreign mega banks. last year when the president signed the big bank bill, i warned it would mean looser rules on the foreign banks. they said no, that's not going to happen. federal reserve chair himself said it wouldn't happen.
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they're not going to weaken the rules on the foreign banks. eats they were naive at the time -- i think jay powell is an honest man. i didn't know he was this naive, that he and others would say they're not going to weaken foreign bank rules. well, now they have. when the fed made the announcement of its plan to go easy on foreign banks they said -- i'm not kidding. this is a quote -- this proposal should look familiar because it shares the same basic framework as the domestic proposal as if that's a good thing, as if they're bragging that we're treating the foreign banks the same way as domestic banks but they happen to break the law over and over again, deutsche bank, santander, other banks. that's not the only good news. we also got word that the fred and president trump's appointees are going to let the biggest wall street banks off the hook on another rule, the one that requires something called living wills. living wills doesn't sound like much, doesn't mean much to members of the senate and to the general public unless they're in the banking committee and spend a lot of time on this.
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living wills are blueprints from banks that are supposed to prove they won't wreck the economy and cost billions of dollars if they go bankrupt. pretty much it works like this. if a bank -- the federal government, the federal reserve goes to these banks and they require these banks to show what would happen if there was a significant downturn in the economy, like there was a decade-plus ago when the economy went south in 2007 and 2008, and 2009. these banks because they weren't strong enough, because they hadn't had these stress tests, because they hadn't gone through these rules because it wasn't federal law, it wasn't clear these banks would be able to withstand the plummeting of the which i when demand shrinks and all the things that happen in a recession and they weren't. that's why government bailed them out. that's why the lobbyists lined up and leader -- in leader mcconnell's office and i guess it was leader frist's office or leader lotts's office and got so
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much from senate republicans those days. the whole point of living wills is banks can show through a series of complicated tests, banks can show that even if the economy goes bad, these banks aren't going to tank. these banks aren't going to go out of business. these banks aren't going to need a federal bailout. that's the whole purpose, a big part of the purpose of dodd-frank. dodd-frank, the wall street reform bill. these living wills are blueprints that prove they won't wreck the economy and cost taxpayers billions if they go bankrupt. under the bill that passed a decade ago to fix this, they had to go through a stress test every year. this bill that the president signed said, we won't have to go through it quite every year and we figure the debate was -- i said we shouldn't do trks my republican cool seegz -- colleagues said it will probably be every other year, not so bad. i said probably is, it ought to be every year. now the federal reserve said it's going to be once every presidential four-year term,
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once every four years. nobody saw it coming. i guess the banks saw it coming because they had a whole lot of influence with them. the wall street reform law required them to file these plans every year. now they require them only every four years. and it said that if those plans -- if the plans didn't look credible, if the banks failed their stress test, in other words, they weren't strong enough to withstand a recession, then the federal reserve and others would have the power to go in and make -- make these problem banks simpler and smaller. in other words, if the banks couldn't withstand a bad economy, if these banks were too fragile and caused too much damage to the economy if they didn't pass the stress test, these banks then could be broken up into smaller units making them stronger. but now financial watchdogs only have to check in just once a presidential term, every four years. a lot can change, a lot can go wrong in four years. just ask any family or -- how
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their income or how their savings or rent change. they may not be the same month to month let alone every four years. the people in this town, especially especially republicans on the senate banking committee, have this collective am niece shah. they may have forgotten what the crisis meant. families who lost their jobs, their homes, their retirement savings and college funds haven't forgotten. they haven't recovered from the financial crisis. they haven't recovered from decades of bad trade policy, bad tax policy that make it harder and harder ford their-to-work pay off. mr. president, i don't think that members of this body -- i don't think too many -- there is a wonderful quote from breadth lincoln when he said to his staff, he said, i need to go out and get my public opinion bath. i need to go out and listen to what people are saying and look at how they're living and talk to them about their lives. it is not something people around here do much of, especially when it is people that might be vulnerable to losing their homes. mr. president, i live in
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cleveland, ohio, connie and i. we live in zip code 44105, our zip code in 2007, the first half of that year, there were more foreclosures in my zip code than any zip code in the united states of america. you can still see the urban plight and the residue in what's left, the remains of that -- those foreclosures. and you think about what it means 20 a family personally. first thing they got to do is get rid of their pet. their pet costs too much no matter how close they might be to their dog or cat. then they've got it make all kind ofs of decisions. we're going to have to move, go to a new school district. all kinds of heart ache because you have been foreclosed on. if we aren't careful, mr. president -- i am not predicting anything in the next fute months, but if we keep going down this path, if we keep weakening federal banking law, keep doing the bidding of wall street, if the lobbyists that go in and out of the republican
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leader's office, a lot of the bank lobbyists that go in and out and get their way, they don't -- if that happens and continues to happen, who knows what will happen again in the next two, three, five ten years. the more we roll back these rules on wall street, the more we give to the megabankers the greedier they get and more risks they take on, the higher chance that one of their big risks don't pay off. you know who pays the price when wall street bets don't pay off. it's you, the workers, the families. it is taxpayers. it is your mornings the american people's money they're gambling with. so instead of making it easier for wall street to make big bets and break the law without reaping consequences, why don't we make it easier for families to afford health care. why don't we make it easier to afford child care, why don't we make it easier to save for retirement, why don't we make it easier for students to pay for college, why don't we honor the dignity of work and make sure that hard work pays off for
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anyone, whether you swipe a badge or whether you're taking care of -- raising children or taking care of an aging parent? why don't we make it easier for them with a tax code and trade policy that works. instead all the administration's efforts -- as i said, the white house looks for a retreat for wall street executives -- so much of their efforts are to make it easier for corporations and to make it easier for the big banks. it is time, mr. president -- it is time that wen willed a little more to the americans we serve and a little less to the biggest wall street banks who have gotten enough handouts already. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from utah. a senator: i ask unanimous consent to suspend the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: mr. president, i know of no further debate on the nominee. the presiding officer: is there further debate? mr. lee: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: if not, the question is confirmation of the nominee. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber who would like to change their vote? anybody who has not voted? if not, the yeas are 56, the nays are 41. the nomination is confirmed. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. alexander: mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senator from tennessee. the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent with respect to the morales nomination, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. alexander: i ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum call be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. 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, do hereby bring to a close debate on the nomination of david bernhardt, of virginia, to be secretary of the interior, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of david bernhardt,
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of virginia, to be secretary of the interior shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: is there any senator in the chamber who wishes to vote or wishes to change their vote? if not, the yeas are 56. the nays are 41. and the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, department of the interior, david bernhardt of virginia to be secretary. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the senate resume legislative session and be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, very 14 requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to senate res. 155 submitted
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earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 155 relative to the death of the honorable ernest f. hollings, former united states senator for the state of south carolina. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate now proceed to an en bloc consideration of the nolg senate resolutions -- following senate resolutions which were submitted earlier today, 156, orders and -- daughters and sons to work, 157, parkinson's awareness, 158, use of the heart atrium. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the senate will proceed to the resolutions en bloc.
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mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent that the resolutions be agreed to, the preambles be agreed to, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table all en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h. con. res. 16 which has received -- which was received from the house. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: house concurrent resolution 16, authorizing the use of the capitol grounds for the national peace officers memorial service and the national honor guard and pipe band exhibition. the presiding officer: is there objection proceeding to to the measure? without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h. con. res. 19 received from the house.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: house concurrent resolution 19, authorizing the use of the capitol grounds for the greater washington soapbox derby. the presiding officer: there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of the calendar number 18, s. 94. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 18, s. 94, a bill to amend the pittman hispanic robertson wildlife restoration act to establish additional or expanded public target rapes in certain states. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent that the billen considered read a third time.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i know of no further debate on the bill. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, question is on passage of the bill. all those in favor, say aye. opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill is passed. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 58, s. res. 35. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 58, senate resolution 35, supporting democratic principles and standards in bolivia and throughout latin america. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i know of no further debate. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, the question is on the adoption of the resolution.
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all those in favor, say aye. opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the resolution is -- to proceed is passed. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i further ask that the committee-reported amendment to the preamble be agreed to, the preamble, as amended, 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. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 59, s. res. 67. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 59, senate resolution 67, expressing the sense of the senate on the importance and vitality of the united states alliances with japan and the republic of korea and our trilateral cooperation in the pursuit of shared interests. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i know of no further debate. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, the question is on the adoption of the resolution.
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all in favor say aye. opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the resolution is adopted. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i further ask that the committee-reported amendment to the preamble be agreed to, the preamble, as amended, be agreed to and the resolutions be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar 60, s. res. 95. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: 60, senate resolution 95, recognizing the 198th anniversary of the independence of greece and celebrating democracy in greece and the united states. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i further ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when
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the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. thursday, april 11. 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 bernhardt nomination. finally, that all time during recess, adjournment, morning business, and leader remarks count postcloture on the bernhardt nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned following the remarks of senator hirono and under the provision of s. res. 155 and do so as a further mark of respect for the late senator fritz hollings, former senator of south carolina. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator in hawaii. ms. hirono: mr. president, time and again over the past two years we've seen clear pattern in the types of people donald trump nominates to serve in his
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cabinet. they have extensive conflicts of interest. if confirmed, they work to advance the interest of attorney-clients and special interests. and in doing so, they are often hostile to the very mission of the department they've been nominated to lead. we've seen this time and time again with the same disastrous results. from scott pruitt at the environmental protection agency and ryan zinke at interior to andy puzder at the department of labor and tom price at health and human services. today the majority leader and the senate republicans are forcing through the nomination of david bernhardt to serve as secretary of the interior, another person that fits trump's pattern for conflicted, unethical cabinet nominees. bernhardt brings so many conflicts of interest to the job that he has to carry a list around in his pocket to remind
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himself of what they are. okay, i'm going to put this up myself. this is -- that is the card that he carries around in his pocket to remind himself of the people he's not supposed to be interacting with or helping. in normal times, a president would not nominate someone with david bernhardt's background as a super-lobbyist who represented interests before the department he was nominated to lead. in normal times, the majority party would push back against a nominee that brings so many obvious conflicts of interest to the job. but these are not normal times, and the senate is moving in an all-fired rush to confirm someone who shouldn't have been nominated in the first place. during his tenure as deputy secretary of interior, mr. bernhardt was well-placed to deliver results for the special interests who paid his firm
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millions of dollars to lobby on their behalf over the past decade. mr. bernhardt, for example, spent years lobbying on behalf of an organization with a misleading name -- the center for environmental science accuracy and reliability, or cesar. if aer from being a nonpartisan group, cesar is dedicated to attacking and weakening the endangered species act, the e.s.a. as a lobbyist at brownstein farber is this recognize, he spearheaded an effort to gut the e.s.a. through a campaign to list the american eel as a threatened or endangered species. here's what they did. first, cesar petitioned the fish and wildlife service to designate the american eel, a
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species whose habitat spans the entire east coast of the united states, as a threatened or endangered species. these agencies are required to complete their review of such a petition within 90 days. both agencies were unable to complete their review on such a short time line and cesar filed a lawsuit in d.c. district court. cesar did not undertake this campaign with the objective of protecting an endangered or protected species. instead, as a report made clear, cesar attempted to undermine the law by making it merely impossible to enforce. why was this the case? because the american eel has habitats all along the eastern seaboard and to make a listing and conduct critical habitat designations would be a paralyzing undertaking that might force congress to undergo
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a rewrite of the e.s.a. mr. bernhardt did not just represent cesar, but he has also served on their afford many years. -- on their board for many years. it was reasonable to conclude, therefore, that his sustained personal advocacy on behalf of his client to undermine the he e.s.a. would carry over to his work at the department of the interior and indeed it has. last summer the national marine fishery service and the fish and wildlife service proposed some of the most drastic changes to the e.s.a. in 30 years. these changes include allowing economic estimates during the listing process, changing the definition of foreseeable future to not allow for the consideration of climate change. when determining whether or not to list a species and removing a blanket rule that protects endangered species. certainly doesn't seem like a coincidence that the department
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is considering such radical changes to the e.s.a. under the leadership of mr. bernhardt, someone who was paid by his clients to challenge it. over the past few weeks we've also learned from reporting in "the new york times" about mr. bernhardt's efforts to suppress a fish and wildlife service report on pesticides on endanger the species. this report was to be religionsed more than a year and a half ago and it has yet to be released. last week i, along with several of my colleagues, sent a letter to the department's deputy inspector general requesting that she open an investigation into these allegations. based on mr. bernhardt's attempts to he can with aen the e.s.a., i think it is prudent that we get to the bottom of what is going on at the department before confirming him.
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if the department of the interior's mission is to provide scientific and other information about natural resources, then isn't it, mr. president, it's job to ensure that scientific reports on the impacts of chemicals on endangered species are released in a timely manner, especially knowing that these species are threatened and endangered? yet this report has been kept back for over a year. unfortunately, i don't think he considers this a priority of his job. instead he seems to prioritize moving the levers within the department that he was unsuccessful in moving while representing his clients at a -- as a lobbyist. the pattern of activity also extends to his former clients in the oil and gas industry. during the government shutdown, for example, mr. bernhardt recalled furloughed employees in order to have them process and approve 267 offshore oil
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drilling permits and 16 visas for drilling on public land. this decisive action on behalf of oil and gas interests came as thousands of d.o.i. employees went without pay and critical federal services services were d for over a month. is it really any wonder that executives from the independent petroleum association of america were caught on tape bragging about the unprecedented access they have to mr. bernhardt at the department? the the american people deserve an interior secretary devoted to the mission of the department, not the special interests of his former lobbyist clients. i urge my colleagues to oppose this nomination, await the i.g. report before voting on his nomination, and one would hope, with all these conflicts that he has to carry around in his pocket, surely we can come up with someone to lead this
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department who actually has a mission of the -- the mission of the department as his calling. that is not the case with mr. bernhardt. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, and pursuant to senate res. 155, the senate stands adjourned until 10 clock a.m. on april 11. clock a.m. on april 11.
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>>.
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>> prime minister may was in brussels asking the european union for a second delay to britain's exit before that meeting the prime minister took questions from the british house of commons several members also acknowledge the 21st anniversary of the good friday agreement, the 1998 pact between the british and irish governments on how northern ireland should be governed

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