Whitehouse Reflects on Successes of Biden Administration’s First Year

Source: United States Senator for Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse

01.20.22

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today issued the following statement on the first anniversary of President Joe Biden’s inauguration:

“Our nation opened a new, hopeful chapter one year ago. With President Biden at the helm, Democrats quickly passed our American Rescue Plan, sending a lifeline to Rhode Island families and small businesses that had been knocked around by the pandemic. Today, lifesaving vaccines are free and plentiful, and the nation has added 6.4 million jobs. We also passed a historic bipartisan infrastructure law that will upgrade Rhode Island’s roads, bridges, ports, and airports, and set up our economy for long-term growth.

“There’s no question COVID-19 has thrown the entire world some curveballs, but we have competent, steady leadership in the White House that is addressing new challenges as they come. I look forward to working with President Biden this year to continue delivering on the issues that matter to Rhode Islanders, like lowering costs for families, making health care more affordable, and leading the planet to safety in the race against climate change.”

Whitehouse Issues Statement on Republican Blockade of Voting Rights & Democracy Protection Legislation

Source: United States Senator for Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse

01.19.22

Senator’s DISCLOSE Act – included in the Freedom to Vote Act – would clean up dark money in American elections

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) released the following statement on Senate Republicans’ refusal today to advance the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—bills to protect Americans’ right to vote and safeguard our democracy from special-interest influence, including by ridding elections of dark money.

“We must all recognize the courage, suffering, and sacrifice – the love, energy, and passion – that so many of our fellow Americans have devoted to protecting our democracy. When one group of citizens purposefully makes it harder for another group of citizens to vote, they thrust a dagger into the heart of that democracy. We cannot allow voter suppression to stand.

“Among the most important voting rights is citizens’ ability to understand who seeks to influence their vote. Citizenship is an office and American voters must have the information necessary to exercise that office. They can never do that when the truth of who is spending in elections is hidden behind a cascade of dark money.

“The legislation under consideration today would have protected Americans’ hard-fought access to the ballot, and their ability to participate in their democracy unencumbered by unlimited, anonymous, special-interest spending. The overwhelming majority of Americans support my DISCLOSE Act, which is included in the Freedom to Vote Act. That legislation and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act ought to have received an up-or-down vote.

“Instead, Republicans sided with the dark-money interests pushing voter suppression in statehouses around the country and filibustered to block these bills. I voted in favor of a rule change that would have allowed us to overcome the Republican blockade. I will continue to support whatever rule changes are necessary to move this important legislation.”

Whitehouse’s DISCLOSE Act would require organizations spending money in elections – including super PACs and 501(c)(4) dark money groups – to promptly disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle. It also contains a number of other safeguards, including measures to prevent political operatives from using layers of front groups to hide donor identities and strengthening the foreign money ban by prohibiting foreign nationals from participating in decision-making about contributions or expenditures by corporations.

A version of the DISCLOSE Act was included in Senate Democrats’ Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping package of pro-democracy reforms announced last fall.

Fischer Welcomes Over $1 Million Investment in Scottsbluff’s Western Nebraska Regional Airport

Source: United States Senator for Nebraska Deb Fischer

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, today announced that the Western Nebraska Regional Airport will receive $1.01 million in federal funding. This investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will go toward airport improvements. Senator Fischer voted for the bill, which passed Congress and was signed into law by the president.

“Our state’s airports ensure Nebraskans can stay connected and deliver our world-class products to market. I’m pleased to see the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill make a significant investment in the Western Nebraska Regional Airport. These funds will address a host of critical improvements,” said Senator Fischer.

“Western Nebraska Regional Airport is very appreciative of all the hard work that Senator Fischer has done for our airport and we appreciate the additional funding that we will be receiving because of that hard work. The additional funds are coming at a very crucial time with so many high priority projects in the works.  Again, we are thankful for all the work that all our Representatives in Washington, D.C. do on our behalf,” said Raul Aguallo, Executive Director of the Western Nebraska Regional Airport.

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, the Department of Transportation is making significant investments in airports across the country. A list of the breakdown of initial investments in Nebraska’s airports is below.

Grand Island Central Regional Airport – $1,045,720

The Lincoln Airport – $1,754,998

Kearney Regional Airport – $1,013,815

North Platte Regional Airport – $1,010,453

Omaha Eppley Airfield – $7,275,037

Western Nebraska Regional Airport – $1,011,482

Fischer On Attempt to Destroy Filibuster: “Institutional Arson at its Worst”

Source: United States Senator for Nebraska Deb Fischer

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) today released the following statement after Majority Leader Schumer and a group of Senate Democrats attempted to dismantle the Senate filibuster. The filibuster, long supported and used by both parties, is an important tool to facilitate compromise and prevent radicalism.

“For years, many Democrats have argued passionately for preserving the filibuster to protect the rights of the minority in our democracy. Tonight, Senator Schumer and others showed the country they are willing to trample over their own words if it helps them pass their deeply unpopular agenda. Burning down 200 years of history for a few temporary victories is short-sighted at best, and institutional arson at worst.

“Nebraskans understand the importance of consensus building. In the state Unicameral, a two-thirds vote is required to end a filibuster – not the simple majority that Sen. Schumer has proposed. The Nebraska way works.

“The American people elected a 50-50 U.S. Senate. They voted for bipartisanship – not partisan gimmicks to reshape our government in favor of one party. I will continue to call out this hypocrisy and defend the voices of millions of Americans who do not want to be silenced,” said Senator Fischer.

Earlier today on the Senate floor, Sen. Fischer discussed her opposition to any federal takeover of elections and the hypocrisy within Democrats’ arguments justifying a takeover (VIDEO HERE).

Last week, Sen. Fischer spoke on the Senate floor about the severe dangers of ending the filibuster (VIDEO HERE).

Over the years, a number of Democrat senators have argued passionately for the preservation of the filibuster.

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Despite Biden’s Disastrous First Year, Lankford Highlights Wins for Oklahomans

Source: United States Senator for Oklahoma James Lankford

01.20.22

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today recognized that, in spite of President Biden’s disastrous first year in office, his Republican colleagues and he were able to secure numerous successes for Oklahomans and the nation in 2021. 

“In spite of President Biden’s disastrous first year as president, I’ve worked all year to secure a number of successes for Oklahomans and the nation,” said Lankford. “One year ago today, President Biden started our nation on a roller coaster year that many Oklahomans and I saw as a disastrous 365 days for our economy, for COVID-19 recovery, for protecting life, for securing our southern border, for withdrawing from Afghanistan, and much more. Congressional Democrats and Biden spent the year trying to keep Americans’ attention on red herring after red herring while Oklahomans saw it as avoiding the obvious struggles our families have faced.

“Instead, I pushed Biden to finally finish the southern border wall, stop settlement payments to migrants, and keep a migrant ‘surge facility’ out of Oklahoma. Biden’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wanted to try to close Harmon Memorial Hospital in Hollis, and I helped keep it open and keep its 100 jobs in rural southwest Oklahoma. I worked to stop every part of Biden’s vaccine mandates, disastrous bills like ‘Build Back Broke’ and the Equality Act. We stood up for all American energy while Biden begged for oil and natural gas from OPEC+. Work remains, but 2021 was another year for our fight for more freedom, smaller government, and hopefully a better economic outlook in the days ahead.”

In 2021, Lankford authored 23 bills and 97 amendments. Lankford also coauthored another 214 bills and 85 amendments. Below are some of the many “wins” Lankford secured for Oklahomans in 2021:

Fighting Biden’s vaccine mandates 

Despite Democrats’ push for a more progressive agenda, Lankford introduced legislation to stop every part of Biden’s vaccine mandates—but Democrats blocked it—and successfully pushed the resolution of disapproval on the mandate for companies with 100 or more workers. Lankford sent a brief to the US Supreme Court to outline the constitutional issues with the mandate and urge them to block it, which the Supreme Court agreed with. 

Securing the southern border

When the Biden Administration blocked the media from visiting the southern border, Lankford flew there and released videos to expose the unfinished border wall in Arizona and Texas. Lankford exposed billions in federal waste paid to contractors to babysit wall materials while the Biden Administration “studied” it. After he called them out, they finally restarted construction on the border wall and ended their proposed $450,000 settlement payments to illegal migrants separated at the border under President Trump. 

Within hours of hearing a rumor about it, Lankford stopped Biden’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office from trying to open a “surge overflow temporary facility” in Hinton. 

Protecting Oklahomans’ access to health care 

When Harmon Memorial Hospital in Hollis was on the verge of closing, Lankford worked to ensure the community hospital remained open to save jobs and maintain healthcare for SW Oklahoma. After hearing from an Oklahoma veteran, Lankford helped push CVS to rejoin the TRICARE network for prescriptions to make processing claims simpler and more efficient for veterans.  

Standing up for American energy producers

Lankford stood up for American energy producers against Biden’s progressive and irresponsible activism that raised our prices of energy and sought to “cancel” traditional energy. I stood up for all forms of America energy.

Protecting life 

Lankford stood up against the Biden Administration when they’ve tried to force Americans to pay for abortions through their tax dollars and force health providers to participate in abortions against their conscience and religious beliefs with his Conscience Protection Act gaining momentum. In a very close vote, Lankford’s amendment passed to save the vital Hyde Amendment protections for taxpayers from being forced to pay for abortions.

Blocking Biden’s radical, progressive agenda

Lankford helped stop Democrats’ attempts to federalize our elections and stopped disastrous bills like the Equality Actfrom becoming law, which would take away protections for Americans to live their faith in their workplace, and stopped “Build Back Broke” that would make inflation worse and add to our national debt. Lankford and Senate Republicans pushed in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to stop the requirement for women to register for the draft and block a requirement for service members to receive controversial critical race theory or “extremism” training.

Holding Biden accountable for the botched Afghanistan withdrawal 

After Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal, in the NDAA Lankford prevented the closure of the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and prevented moving any detainees to the US or giving money to the Taliban. 

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Warner Seeks More Information From Major Retailers on Supply Shortages & Rising Costs

Source: United States Senator for Commonwealth of Virginia Mark R Warner

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) yesterday requested more information from major retailers regarding omicron-related supply chain problems and shortages that are contributing to inflation and rising costs. In a letter to the National Retail Federation – the world’s largest retail trade association, representing large retail companies like Target and Wal-Mart – Sen. Warner expressed concern with the ongoing supply chain disruptions and stressed that companies and the government must work together to tackle the problems that are leading to higher prices and directly hitting Americans’ pockets.  

“Despite the unprecedented challenges associated with reopening the nation and fighting the Delta and Omicron variants, our economy has recovered significantly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, increasing prices continue to threaten our progress. I understand that persistent supply/demand imbalances and supply chain disruptions are contributing to inflation and urge you to continue working with me, my colleagues, and the Biden Administration to identify ways to alleviate these supply chain issues as quickly as possible,” Sen. Warner wrote.  

He continued, “I am also continuing to advance legislation that addresses targeted supply chain issues that have shown to have sweeping impacts on our economy, including the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act which includes $52 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing. However, it is clear that these efforts will likely take time to bear fruit, and that more needs to be done now to help Americans facing raising prices.”

In the letter, Sen. Warner asked companies what they are doing to resolve the supply chain problems and what more the federal government can do to support those efforts. Specifically he posed the following series of questions to better understand the steps being taken by companies to alleviate supply chain pressures and to inquire about any additional measures that Congress can take to assist with this effort:

  1. Alleviating existing backlogs continues to be an immediate priority for the private sector as well as the government. Can you please explain what your companies are doing to alleviate backlogs and what challenges you are facing? Are there any constraints that lend themselves to policies that Congress should pursue?
  2. How long do you see supply chain pressures lasting? Do you believe the supply chain problems we are seeing will begin to soften in 2022?
  3. What more can Congress, or the federal government, do to support your efforts to clear these backlogs and strengthen our nation’s supply chains?

A copy of the letter is available here and below. 

Dear National Retail Federation Board Leadership and Board of Directors:

I write today concerned with the challenges posed by elevated levels of inflation in our economy.  Despite the unprecedented challenges associated with reopening the nation and fighting the Delta and Omicron variants, our economy has recovered significantly sine the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, increasing prices continue to threaten our progress. I understand that persistent supply/demand imbalances and supply chain disruptions are contributing to inflation and urge you to continue working with me, my colleagues, and the Biden Administration to identify ways to alleviate these supply chain issues as quickly as possible.

The latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that prices increased seven percent from a year earlier, the fastest pace in decades.[1] As you know, these price increases are particularly harmful for low-income Americans who have smaller economic cushions to absorb them. Many factors are contributing to the current bout of inflation, but widespread supply chain issues are of particular concern. That’s why I am grateful to President Biden for engaging with the private sector, making supply chains a key priority, forming the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force and directing a whole-of-government approach to address the vulnerabilities and problems facing the country’s supply chains.[2]

Congress has also taken decisive action to reduce friction in the economy by passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to make historic investments in infrastructure. I am also continuing to advance legislation that addresses targeted supply chain issues that have shown to have sweeping impacts on our economy, including the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act which includes $52 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing. However, it is clear that these efforts will likely take time to bear fruit, and that more needs to be done now to help Americans facing raising prices.

To that end, I am writing to request answers to the following questions from the organizations you represent:

  1. 1.     Alleviating existing backlogs continues to be an immediate priority for the private sector as well as the government. Can you please explain what your companies are doing to alleviate backlogs and what challenges you are facing? Are there any constraints that lend themselves to policies that Congress should pursue?
  2. 2.     How long do you see supply chain pressures lasting? Do you believe the supply chain problems we are seeing will begin to soften in 2022?
  3. 3.     What more can Congress, or the federal government, do to support your efforts to clear these backlogs and strengthen our nation’s supply chains?

During these past two years, our nation has faced tremendous costs and dislocations from the pandemic, which required bipartisan and public-private cooperation. While the country has made substantial economic progress since the spring of 2020, this cooperation and focus will continue to be vital, particularly as we face rising prices and additional waves of the virus.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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Durbin, Bipartisan Colleagues Urge President Biden To Include Funding For Emergency International Food Aid In Any Supplemental Request To Congress

Source: United States Senator for Illinois Dick Durbin

01.20.22

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) led 17 of his Senate colleagues today in a bipartisan letter to President Biden urging him to include funding for emergency international food aid in any upcoming supplemental request to Congress.  Recently, the Biden Administration provided an additional $308 million in aid and eased procedures for humanitarian groups.  However, the Senators noted in their letter that both the United Nations and World Food Programme (WFP) indicate far more is needed to prevent mass starvation in multiple countries, particularly in Afghanistan where nearly half the population is at severe risk.

“Despite progress in recent decades to prevent and alleviate global hunger, 2020 and 2021 have seen the highest levels of hunger in more than ten years with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating conflict areas and severe droughts,” the Senators wrote.  “Nowhere are the humanitarian needs more acute than in Afghanistan, where freezing winter weather is only worsening acute hunger… As such, we urge you to include robust funding for emergency international food aid as part of any upcoming supplemental request to Congress.  These additional funds… would go a long way toward preventing starvation around the world.” 

According to the United Nations’ 2021 report, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, close to 12 percent of the world’s population, representing 928 million people, faces severe food insecurity and 30 percent face at least moderate food insecurity.   The impact is particularly significant on women and children, with more than 149 million children under the age of five affected by stunting and nearly 30 percent of women around the world between the ages of 15 and 49 affected by anemia.  

Along with Durbin, today’s letter was signed by the following Senators: Jerry Moran (R-KS), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). 

Full text of today’s letter is available here and below:

January 20, 2022

Dear President Biden:

We write to convey our great concern with mounting global food insecurity, particularly in Afghanistan where nearly half the population is at severe risk.  We welcome your recent decisions to provide an additional $308 million in aid and ease procedures for humanitarian groups to help meet these desperate conditions, and hope other international donors will take similar actions.  However, given that both the United Nations and World Food Programme (WFP) indicate far more is needed to prevent mass starvation in multiple countries, we strongly urge you to include funding for emergency international food aid in any upcoming supplemental request to Congress. 

Despite progress in recent decades to prevent and alleviate global hunger, 2020 and 2021 have seen the highest levels of hunger in more than ten years with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating conflict areas and severe droughts.  According to the United Nations’ 2021 report, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, close to 12 percent of the world’s population, representing 928 million people, faces severe food insecurity and 30 percent face at least moderate food insecurity.   The impact is particularly significant on women and children, with more than 149 million children under the age of five affected by stunting and nearly 30 percent of women around the world between the ages of 15 and 49 affected by anemia.   Such severe and rising levels of food insecurity impact nearly every region of the world.  In fact, the WFP warned in November that 45 million people are on the brink of famine across 43 countries, a devastating figure that is nearly 67 percent higher than the estimated 27 million in a similar dire situation in 2019.  

Nowhere are the humanitarian needs more acute than in Afghanistan, where freezing winter weather is only worsening acute hunger.  According to the WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization, while Afghanistan has suffered from malnutrition for decades, recent factors put an estimated 23 million people, around 55 percent of Afghanistan’s population, at potentially life-threatening levels of food insecurity.   In addition, the United Nations Development Programme warned that as much as 97 percent of Afghanistan’s population is at risk of sinking below the poverty line by this summer.  

As such, we urge you to include robust funding for emergency international food aid as part of any upcoming supplemental request to Congress.  These additional funds, through the International Disaster Assistance account, Food for Peace Title II, or others as appropriate, would go a long way toward preventing starvation around the world.

We stand ready to help with such a request and appreciate your attention to this timely issue.

Sincerely,

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Durbin Statement On Senate Republicans’ Filibuster Of Historic Voting Rights Legislation

Source: United States Senator for Illinois Dick Durbin

01.20.22

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following statement after Senate Republicans filibustered the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act:

“Sadly, many Republican lawmakers would rather repeat the twice impeached former President’s ‘Big Lie’ than face his wrath.  And tonight, that revealed itself as Senate Republicans used the filibuster once again to kill legislation that would protect Americans’ fundamental right to participate in our democracy. 

“The Republican-led attacks on voting rights and the fair administration of our elections are shaking the pillars of our democracy.  Without federal action to combat this threat, the credibility of our elections and the peaceful transfer of power are at stake.”

Ahead of tonight’s vote, Durbin spoke on the Senate floor and called on his Republican colleagues to support this critical voting rights legislation.

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Durbin Votes For Rules Change Following Senate Republicans’ Filibuster Of Historic Voting Rights Legislation

Source: United States Senator for Illinois Dick Durbin

01.19.22

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today voted to support a change to Senate rules that would allow for a talking filibuster on the historic voting rights legislation—the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act—after Senate Republicans filibustered it earlier in the evening:

“Unfortunately, a majority of Senators have pledged allegiance to the filibuster.  But I believe there is something more critical than a Senate rule that has been changed 160 times in the history of this body.  The integrity of our free elections, the right to have your vote counted, and our oath to uphold and defend the Constitution count for more.  I’m sorry more of my colleagues don’t agree with that basic premise.”

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Heinrich Applauds Progress On Recovering America’s Wildlife Act As House Bill Advances

Source: United States Senator for New Mexico Martin Heinrich

WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2022) – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is applauding the House Natural Resources Committee for advancing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act by a vote of 29 to 15. 

Senator Heinrich’s landmark bipartisan legislation, that now has over 32 bipartisancosponsors in the Senate, will be among the largest, most significant investments in wildlife and habitat conservation.

“Preserving the health of our outdoors and wildlife has proven time and time again to be one of the most successful, nonpartisan issues to advance through Congress,” saidHeinrich. 

Heinrich added, “This bill strikes a positive balance on priorities from both sides of the aisle and has become one of the most important wildlife bills in decades. From Missouri to New Mexico – from bison to bumblebees – this legislation creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity to save thousands of species with a solution that matches the magnitude of the challenge.”

U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) leads the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Heinrich introduced the legislation in the Senate alongside U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in 2021. 

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will invest in proactive, on-the-ground conservation work led by states, territories, and Tribal nations to support the long-term health of fish and wildlife habitat all across America. These science-based strategies would restore populations of species with the greatest conservation need.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is supported by over 1,500 organizations representing state fish and wildlife agencies, sportsmen and women, conservation groups, and industry associations and businesses.

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