Maine Delegation Presses Dept. of Transportation to Help Alleviate Bus Driver Shortage

Source: United States Senator for Maine Angus King

WASHINGTON — In response to a serious and sustained shortage of school bus drivers across Maine, the state’s congressional delegation is pushing the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to take steps to safely address the urgent need for additional drivers. The lawmakers, in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, called for the agency to delay or temporarily waive certain training and certification requirements that could keep prospective bus drivers from quickly filling open jobs.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit both the education and transportation sectors especially hard, and this is distinctly true for the school bus drivers who bridge these two sectors,” wrote Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (ME-01) and Jared Golden (ME-02) in their letter to Buttigieg. “First, in 2020, extended suspensions of in-person learning reduced the work available for drivers, leading many to seek other jobs. Now that demand has returned, many school districts are facing short-staffed bus fleets, forcing difficult decisions about canceling bus routes, which undermine children’s ability to access the educational opportunities they need and deserve. The federal government must work with states to grant temporary regulatory flexibilities to ease these pressures for school bus providers and drivers while continuing to ensure road safety.” 

The Maine delegation’s letter follows an earlier request from Governor Mills to the DOT, a request that has not received an official response in over two months. 

In the last year, the shortage of school bus drivers in Maine has led to school cancellations, last-minute notifications that parents would have to drop off their children, limited high school sports, and more.

Read a copy of the letter here.

After Senate Vote to Alter Filibuster Falls Short, King Says It Is Time to “Pick Ourselves Up and Keep Fighting”

Source: United States Senator for Maine Angus King

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) voted to adjust the Senate’s procedures to defend the democratic process and voting rights after a GOP filibuster blocked key voting rights protections. Long reluctant to change the filibuster, Senator King signaled in March 2021 that he would change his thinking if the tactic was used to “simply obstruct” rather than in good faith as a negotiating tool.

Earlier this evening, he spoke on the Senate floor urging this limited reform, but the measure failed to meet the 50 vote threshold. In his full statement below, Senator King reflected on how the new threats to American democracy changed his longstanding opposition to filibuster changes and urging proponents of voting rights legislation to continue pushing forward.

“I have long opposed changes to the filibuster, because I believe that bipartisan work produces better, longer lasting results for the American people,” said Senator King. “I also believe that today’s annoying nuisance for a member of the majority will become tomorrow’s priceless shield when the balance of power shifts and that member finds him or herself in the minority.

“However, the benefits of the filibuster do not outweigh the benefits of a functioning democracy. As partisan state legislatures across the country used simple majorities to enact laws making it harder for Americans to vote, Congress had a responsibility to exercise its explicit Constitutional power to ‘make or alter’ elections laws and protect access to the ballot box. We repeatedly invited Republican leaders to join us at the table to build consensus on a bill that could address these threats. Time and time again, we were rebuffed. Taking a step back here, you realize that state legislatures are passing voting restrictions on a strictly party-line basis, while we in the Senate are forced to defend our constituents’ access to vote while playing by a different set of rules.

“In less than two decades, protecting voting rights has shifted from an obvious, unanimous move to strengthen our democracy to a partisan wedge issue. Here’s an example of how bad it’s become: one of the bills under discussion today, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would reauthorize the Voting Rights Act. The VRA was last reauthorized in 2006 by a vote of 98-0; this time around, only one GOP Senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, supported the legislation. This sudden change has, without doubt, weakened the fabric of our nation.

“To be truthful, I’m discouraged right now. With the majority of my colleagues dug in against either changing the filibuster or supporting commonsense voting rights protections, it’s hard to see where we go next. But even as I am saddened that these votes fell short, I know that giving up is not an option. America’s experiment in self-government has endured unimaginable trials throughout its existence, pushing through challenges expected and unforeseen to create a stable democratic system that bucks the historical norms of kings, pharaohs, and czars. Our forefathers would not be deterred from fulfilling the Constitution’s instruction to form a more perfect union. Now it is our turn to pick ourselves up and continue carrying the flame of American democracy forward to the next generation.”

Senator King is committed to increase voter trust and promote access to the ballot for all registered voters. In October 2021 he delivered an impassioned speech on the Senate floor urging action on voting rights, stating that we are currently “at a hinge of history” that will determine the future of the American experiment in self-government. He has recently made the argument for these bills in op-eds for the Boston Globe and TIME. In addition to the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement ActSenator King cosponsored the For the People Act and Senator Jon Ossoff’s (D-Ga.) Right to Vote Act, which would establish a first-ever statutory right to vote in federal elections — protecting U.S. citizens from laws that make it harder to cast a ballot.   

Wyden and Lummis Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Attorney-Client Privilege In the Digital Age

Source: United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore)

January 20, 2022

Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act Ensures Email Between Incarcerated Individuals and their Attorneys Is Protected from Unconstitutional Surveillance

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Senator Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., today introduced the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act, to protect the confidentiality of email communications between incarcerated individuals and their attorneys.

Although mail, phone calls and in-person meetings at federal prisons are currently protected against government surveillance, inmates at Bureau of Prison facilities must allow the government to review all attorney-client emails, under current federal policies. The Wyden-Lummis bill closes this loophole and ensures that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and attorney-client privilege applies to digital communications as well.

“This bill is the definition of common sense – attorney-client privilege that applies to snail mail and phone calls should absolutely apply to email as well,” Wyden said. I’m pleased to partner with Senator Lummis and Congressman Jeffries to close this loophole. Adding a computer to the equation shouldn’t mean a person’s Constitutional rights go out the window.”

“Attorney-client privilege is a key right of our Constitution. In the 21st Century, it’s frankly unacceptable that an incarcerated person and their lawyer can’t have a private email conversation free from government monitoring,” Lummis said. “I’m proud to work with my friend Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Van Taylor to make sure that Bill of Rights protections extend to all.”

The bill is a companion to legislation by Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Rep. Van Taylor, R-Texas, which was endorsed by the following organizations: American Bar Association, American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Prosperity, Dream Corps, Due Process Institute, Fair and Just Prosecution, Faith and Freedom Coalition, FAMM, Federal Public & Community Defenders, Freedom Works, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, National Action Network, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Prison Fellowship and Right on Crime.

“There are more than 135,000 individuals currently in BOP custody, many of whom are in pretrial detention and have not been convicted of a crime,” Jeffries said. “In our system, defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Like any person involved in a criminal proceeding, these individuals who are incarcerated must be able to communicate with their attorneys confidentially. The bipartisan Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act, which passed out of the House last year by an overwhelming vote of 414-11, would enable incarcerated individuals to communicate with their legal representatives privately, safely and efficiently by prohibiting the Bureau of Prisons from monitoring privileged electronic communications. I thank Senators Wyden and Lummis for their leadership on this issue and for introducing this incredibly important companion legislation.”

The legislation:

  • Requires the Department of Justice to ensure the BOP’s email system excludes from monitoring the contents of privileged electronic communications between incarcerated clients and their legal representatives; 
  • Stipulates that the protections and limitations associated with the attorney-client privilege — including the crime-fraud exception — apply to electronic communications sent or received through the BOP email system;
  • Allows BOP to retain the contents of the electronic communications of an incarcerated person, and make these accessible to the person, only until their date of release from custody, after which these privileged communications are to be purged; 
  • Establishes narrow procedures for an investigative or law enforcement officer, pursuant to a warrant issued by a court, to access privileged electronic communication; and
  • Allows for the suppression of evidence obtained or derived from access to the retained contents if such contents were accessed in violation of the Act.

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Cardin, Van Hollen Praise Judiciary Committee Approval of Judge Julie Rubin for Maryland U.S. District Court Seat

Source: United States Senator for Maryland Ben Cardin

January 20, 2022

Senators recommended Judge Rubin to President Joe Biden

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) today praised the Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan approval of Judge Julie Rubin to serve as U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Maryland.

“We are pleased that today the Judiciary Committee favorably recommended Judge Julie Rubin,” the senators said.  “Judge Rubin brings tremendous experience to the federal bench having served as a Baltimore City Circuit Judge for nearly a decade, where she handles a busy and diverse caseload in our state court.  We’ll be pushing for her swift approval by the full Senate in the coming weeks, and we look forward to her continued public service to Marylanders in upholding the rule of law and providing equal justice for all.”

Judge Rubin was nominated to fill the future vacancy created when Judge Ellen Hollander, appointed by President Obama in 2011, announced her intention in January 2021 to take senior status.  President Joe Biden nominated Judge Rubin for this vacancy on November 3, and the Judiciary Committee held hearing confirmation hearing on December 15.  The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously rated her “well qualified” to serve in the federal judiciary, the highest possible rating. The ABA evaluates the integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament of nominees. 

BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT JUDGE JULIE RUBIN

Judge Julie Rubin has served as a judge on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland since 2013. From 2000 to 2012, Judge Rubin worked at Astrachan Gunst Thomas Rubin, P.C. in Baltimore where she handled intellectual property and employment law matters. From 1998 to 2000, Judge Rubin was an associate at another Baltimore law firm, Shapiro and Olander, P.A.

Judge Rubin received her J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1998 and her B.A., cum laude, from Mount Holyoke College in 1995.

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Rosen Leads Letter to President Biden in Opposition to Extending Job-Killing Solar Tariffs

Source: United States Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV)

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) is leading a bipartisan group of Senators in a letter to President Joe Biden urging him not to extend the current Section 201 tariffs on imported solar panels and cells, which are currently set to expire on February 6, 2022. As a result of these tariffs, first imposed by the Trump Administration, domestic prices for solar panels are now among the highest in the world and significantly above the global average, which has severely and negatively impacted clean energy job creation in the United States.

The bipartisan letter was signed by a group of eight U.S. Senators, including Rosen, and Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO). 

“As you know, in February 2018, the Trump Administration imposed Section 201 tariffs on imported crystalline silicon solar panels and solar cell imports above an annual 2.5-gigawatt tariff rate quota,” wrote the Senators. “According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), this led to the loss of more than 62,000 American clean energy jobs and 10.5 gigawatts of foregone solar deployment. The Section 201 tariffs are currently set to expire on February 6, 2022, and we believe that extending the tariffs will do nothing but add unnecessary costs to U.S. consumers, hurt American solar jobs, and artificially stymie the deployment of otherwise viable solar projects in the United States.”

“We write to request that you allow the Section 201 tariffs currently imposed on imported solar panels and cells to lapse,” the Senators’ letter continued. “At a minimum, we ask that you retain the Section 201 tariff exclusion for bifacial solar panels and not apply the tariffs to imported solar cells. Such actions will support good-paying jobs in the clean energy sector here in the United States and promote investments in clean, renewable energy at a time when our nation and our environment need them most.”

Senator Rosen has been a leader in the pushback against these job-killing solar tariffs. In 2018, as a member of the House of Representatives, Senators introduced the Protecting American Solar Jobs Act, bipartisan legislation to repeal the solar tariffs, which began under the Trump Administration. In December 2020, Senator Rosen joined a letter to the Biden-Harris transition team urging the Administration to repeal the prior Administration’s solar tariffs. 

Last September, Senator Rosen led a group of a dozen Senators urging U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to carefully assess the validity of a series of anonymously filed petitions to expand job-killing tariffs on solar panels. Then in November, following Senator Rosen’s call to action against this threat, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it would reject the petitions to expand the solar tariffs.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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Senator Markey and Rep. Bowman Introduce Legislation to Transform Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Source: United States Senator for Massachusetts Ed Markey

Washington (January 20, 2022) Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) introduced the Heating and Cooling Relief Act, legislation to invest in and expand the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to universalize energy assistance for all of those who need it. Currently, it is estimated that only 16 percent of households eligible for LIHEAP are actually served.

“Access to life-saving heating and cooling is a basic human right that ensures our health and safety and should not be reserved only for those who can afford it,” said Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.). “This winter, families should not have to choose between paying energy bills or suffering chills. I am grateful that Congressman Bowman and I are fighting to make sure that home energy funding—a critical lifeline for families throughout the country—will be available to all of those who need it. Our Heating and Cooling Relief Act would provide LIHEAP funding to millions more Americans and ensure that the program has all the support it needs to enhance outreach efforts and serve all eligible households. The bill also takes steps to reduce the energy burdens of LIHEAP recipients and cut down our fossil fuel use by increasing investments in weatherization. The Heating and Cooling Relief Act is the ambitious and comprehensive legislation we need to help ensure the health and safety of American families and support a just transition away from fossil fuel consumption.”

“There is no reason why, in the richest nation on Earth, people in our communities should be forced to choose between staying warm in the winter or cool in the summer and being able to make rent or put food on the table,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16). “Senator Markey and I are working toward an America that respects our collective humanity and our Heating and Cooling Relief Act makes it so that every family can afford their energy bills. This is a racial and economic justice issue, with Black, Latino and Indigenous households all experiencing disproportionately high energy burdens. The lack of energy assistance is also a public health crisis, with high energy burdens associated with a greater risk for respiratory diseases and heat strokes. The fact is that no one, anywhere in this country, should have to resort to using their stoves or turning on space heaters because of exorbitantly high bills. This legislation is a bold approach to energy assistance that meets the moment by making energy assistance much more accessible to tens of millions more people and I am proud to have a partner in Senator Markey as we take on this fight.”

“No person or family should ever go without adequate heat,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “This bill would ensure that low-income families never pay more than 3% of their annual income on energy costs, even in the coldest winter months. As New York continues facing extreme and potentially dangerous cold weather, we must ensure that every person has access to reliable, affordable, and sufficient heat to stay safe at home.”

 

“No family should have to choose between paying their energy bills and putting food on the table during the cold winter months. LIHEAP is a lifeline for our communities. The Heating and Cooling Relief Act will expand LIHEAP access and will save families from housing and food insecurity as they cope with high energy bills. It will also increase funding for weatherization, promote renewable energy use, and aid with climate adaptation – all crucial to our work tackling the climate crisis,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

 

A copy of the bill text can be found HERE.

Specifically, the Heating and Cooling Relief Act:

  • Increases annual funding for LIHEAP to $40 billion and expands eligibility to ensure that no household pays more than three percent of its annual income on energy costs;
  • Minimizes the barriers to administering and applying LIHEAP by allowing households to self-attest to eligibility criteria; increases the administrative cap for outreach, technological, and staffing purposes; and ensures LIHEAP coordinators are paid at least a living wage;
  • Protects consumers by ensuring that no eligible household has its utilities shutoff or pays late fees, that every household receiving funds can have its utility debt cleared, and that utility companies set up discounted payment plans to support consumers;
  • Ensures states can use LIHEAP to address climate adaptation by increasing funding for cooling assistance and ensuring households can access utility assistance during major disasters; and
  • Increases funding made available for weatherization through LIHEAP, and establishes a new Just Transition Grant for states and localities to help reduce energy burdens for LIHEAP-eligible households and promote renewable energy usage.

Senator Markey and Congressman Bowman have been champions for energy and utility justice issues throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. On January 5, 2022, Congressman Bowman, Senator Markey, and Congresswoman Schakowsky led a letter to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) urging the Biden administration to protect consumers from unfairly high heating and energy prices. Last year, Congressman Bowman introduced the Public Power Resolution with Congresswoman Bush to make power a public utility, and he also introduced the Broadband Justice Act to deliver accessible, free broadband to every subsidized household in the nation. As part of the American Rescue Plan, Senator Markey advocated for $20 billion in funding for Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) and $4.5 billion in additional funding to LIHEAP. Last Congress, he also introduced a bill that would have set the sense of Congress that states and utilities should issue a moratorium on gas and electric service disconnections, late fees, reconnection fees, rate hikes, and other penalties for all consumers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original co-sponsors of this legislation include Senators Gillibrand and Warren, and Representatives Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Mark Takano (CA-41), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), André Carson (IN-07), Gwen S. Moore (WI-04), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Grace Meng (NY-06) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07).

Endorsing organizations include: National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA), National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), National Housing Law Project, Public Citizen, Sunrise Movement, Evergreen Action, Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), Sierra Club, Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC), Food and Water Watch, Rocky Mountain Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, Ecological Justice Initiative, Elevate, Dandelion Energy, Building Electrification Institute, Rewiring America, Association for Energy Affordability, Sustainable Westchester, New York Lawyers for Public Interest, Bloc Power, NY Geothermal Energy Organization, and NYC-Environmental Justice Alliance, Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP), and NY Renews.

“The Heating and Cooling Relief act would end energy poverty in the US by providing that no family would spend more than 3 percent of their family’s budget on home energy and would provide states with the flexibility to weatherize up to 1 million homes per year,” said Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA).  “The net result will be an end to the stubbornly high utility arrears and shut-offs that low income families have been struggling with for many years.”

 

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McConnell Welcomes Kentuckians and All Americans Marching for Life

Source: United States Senator for Kentucky Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding March for Life:

“Tomorrow, our nation’s capital will once again host many thousands of Americans gathering peacefully to support the most basic human right — the right to life.

“For 49 years, the March for Life has united people from diverse backgrounds, different faiths, and all 50 states. They celebrate the dignity of human life and confront the ways our society fails to protect it.

“This year, the marchers will arrive in a Washington controlled by a Democratic Party that has grown increasingly radical on this issue.

“Today’s Democrats work overtime to keep our country one of just seven nations on the planet that have abortion on demand even after unborn children can feel pain. Our shameful company includes China and North Korea. Fewer than 30% of Americans endorse this view, but Democrats have made it party dogma.

“On President Biden’s watch, Washington Democrats have even turned against the longstanding, bipartisan Hyde Amendment. Both parties used to agree that at least federal taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortions. Now Democrats on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue have declared war on even this.

“So I warmly welcome the marchers from Kentucky and across the country. This radical version of the Democratic Party needs to hear your voices more than ever.”

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365 Days of Bad Policies and Broken Promises

Source: United States Senator for Kentucky Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding President Biden’s first year in office:

“Today marks exactly one year since President Biden became our 46th president.

“This all-Democrat government has had 365 days to start delivering on their core promises.

“What were some of those promises, in their own words?

“‘Crushing the virus.’ ‘Strengthen[ing] our alliances.’ And above all else, ‘lower[ing] the temperature’ and reuniting a divided country.

“Now remember, upon taking office, this Administration had historic tailwinds at its back.

“President Biden inherited lifesaving vaccines and a distribution system that was already up and running. He inherited a string of bipartisan rescue packages including one that was only a few days old. He inherited an economy that was primed for a roaring comeback.

“Those were the promises. That was the inheritance. So let’s take a look at the progress report.

***

“Last spring, against expert advice, the Biden Administration dumped another mountain of borrowed cash on an already white-hot economy.

“As a result, we are now being hammered by the worst inflation in 40 years. Practically everything families need and want has gotten much more expensive. Constant shortages disrupt families’ shopping. Households are getting hit with soaring heating costs if they stay home and soaring gas prices if they go out.

“Our economic trajectory looks shakier today than it did when Democrats were sworn in.

“Of course we have continued adding back jobs from the COVID lockdowns. That was a given.

“But job creation has massively underperformed Democrats’ own projections for job creation with their super-costly springtime stimulus package.

“When 2021 was said and done, the country had added roughly the same number of jobs that we were on track to create before Democrats implemented one policy or spent one dime. They managed to blow $1.9 trillion but only barely beat the starting trajectory they inherited.

“They called that spending a COVID package. But less than 10% of the money went to the actual medical fight. And it shows.

“Americans are entering the third year of this pandemic with too few tests. Too few treatments. Too many new cases. Too many school closures.

“Muddled guidance on boosters that caused FDA experts to resign in protest.

“And needlessly divisive vaccine mandates that were not even constitutional.

“One year in, the coronavirus is decidedly un-crushed.

***

“And COVID wasn’t the only epidemic sweeping American streets.

“Take violent crime. Far-left rhetoric and anti-law-enforcement local policies have led major cities to set all-time records for homicides in 2021.

“Or take fentanyl. This deadly imported poison was the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45 last year. The number one killer of Americans in their prime. Fentanyl.

“Why aren’t Democrats treating this like an emergency? When was the last time President Biden even addressed it?

“And drug deaths are not the only consequence of our weak borders.

“Candidate Biden’s rhetoric incentivized an historic flood of illegal immigration and then President Biden’s weak policies lit the fuse. The result? The biggest surge in illegal border crossings in at least 60 years.

***

“All these issues are priorities for American families. But the Biden Administration spent most of 2021 focused on none of them.

“Washington Democrats spent months chasing a reckless taxing and spending spree packed with far-left policies that citizens never wanted. They spent half of 2021 trying and failing to blow $5 trillion on windmills and welfare.

“When that effort failed, Democrats abruptly pivoted and started shouting that American democracy is on death’s door.

“They propagandized that some evil anti-voting conspiracy is sweeping America.

“And the only solution to this grand crisis was a gigantic, partisan election takeover bill that Democrats had conveniently written years before the events which they say prompted it.

“The American people didn’t buy the fake hysteria. One half of one percent of the country thinks election laws are our top issue. In fact, more Americans believe voting laws are too loose than too tight!

“But Democrats went all in on this obsession.

“A few days ago, the sitting President of the United States called millions of Americans are his domestic ‘enemies’ and analogized United States Senators to Jefferson Davis.

“Last night, this fake panic drove 48 Senate Democrats to walk the plank on a failed effort to shatter the Senate itself for short-term power.

“And now Washington Democrats appear to be launching an absurd and reckless campaign to delegitimize the next election in advance in case they lose it.

“Yesterday the President told reporters that he might not accept the 2022 election results as legitimate if his election takeover bills do not pass Congress first.

“This morning, the House majority whip followed suit. He was asked if the legitimacy of our elections is contingent on Washington Democrats passing these bills, and he replied, ‘I’m absolutely concerned about that.’

“The Democrats who preached countless sermons about accepting voters’ decisions are now saying the midterms may be illegitimate unless they win.

“So America, after all of this — do you feel unified? Do you feel healed? Do you feel like our core institutions are being protected?

***

“Senate Republicans have met this Administration more than halfway.

“In 2021, the Senate built and passed a major infrastructure deal. We passed bipartisan legislation on competing with China.

“But beyond that, this Administration deliberately chose to build their whole governing strategy around the party-line reconciliation process.

“So the President cannot deflect blame for his disappointing first year.

“The American people know where the buck stops.

“And if our Democratic friends do not change course, before long, the buck will stop somewhere else.”

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Nearly Every Democrat Tried to “Shatter the Soul of the Senate for Short-Term Power”

Source: United States Senator for Kentucky Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Democrats’ radical Senate takeover:

“Well, I think we can all agree on one thing. It’s been a long day. Almost everybody’s had something to say. The reason for that is this is an important day in the history of the Senate. It could be argued this is the most important day in the history of the Senate, as an institution.

“This very day that we are just wrapping up, is in all likelihood, the most important day in the history of the Senate as an institution.

“This evening, fewer than 60 Senators voted to advance a piece of legislation, so it did not move forward. It’s pretty common around here. It happens frequently. In fact, it happened less than a week ago when our Democrat colleagues used the 60-vote threshold to block sanctions against Putin’s pipeline.

“In 2020, Democrats used the filibuster multiple times to delay the CARES Act; kill Senator Tim Scott’s police reform bill; and block bipartisan protections for unborn children.

“Senate minorities can apply the brakes to small majorities. This institution makes major changes earn major buy-in.

“For decades, Americans on all sides acknowledged this. Fifteen years ago — several of us were here 15 years ago — there were 180 civil rights organizations that weighed in in support of the filibuster. Because at that particular point, the filibuster was being used to stop judges appointed by Bush 43. So over 100 civil rights organizations wrote us a letter saying the filibuster is indispensable. It served their purpose at that particular time.

“For decades, Senators on both sides agreed. We’ve quoted each other back and forth. Eloquent filibuster defenses from my colleagues across the aisle when it benefitted them to make those speeches.

“But a leader’s true colors are not revealed when long-term principles and short-term power line up together. That’s easy — when what you’re trying to achieve lines up with the tactics.

“The measure of a leader is what he or she chooses when those two paths diverge. Go in different directions.

“Half the Senate, on this side of the aisle, just spent four years in the majority and we had a president of our party asking us to do what they’re trying to do tonight. We had a one word answer: No. No, we’re not going to fracture the institution to achieve some short-term advantage.

“And actually, astonishingly enough, in 1994 — the best off-year Republican election arguably in American history, we took the House for the first time in 40 years, got the majority back in the Senate — Tom Harkin, Chuck Grassley’s colleague from Iowa, a Democrat, on day one of that session, through the regular order, offered a rules change to lower the threshold to 51.

“Who would have benefited from that? This brand new enthusiastic majority, just having swept the country, would have been the principal beneficiaries of lowering the threshold to 51. But not one single Republican in the majority voted to give themselves an advantage that would break the Senate. Not one.

“So we’ve been consistent on this side of the aisle in support of this institution as long as I’ve been here.

***

“They [Democrats] face the same decision now. They have a choice. They can break the institution to achieve what they want, or defend the institution.

“So they’ve pivoted. And that’s why so many of them look so foolish. Because they’ve been on the opposite side of this — not a long time ago, but quite recently. So they’ve tried to carve out a special category, that somehow this issue is different from all the other issues and should be treated differently.

“Well on the merits, as we’ve discussed ad nauseam here, this is something they’ve been trying to do here for a long time. The rationale for it has changed periodically depending upon what seemed to make sense. But doll it up any way you choose to — this is a plot to break the Senate.

“Over the issue they’ve chosen: one half of one percent of the American people say election law is their most pressing concern.

“Actually, more Americans — as a number of you have said during the course of this long day —believe voting laws are actually too loose, rather than too strict.

“And — as you’ve said over and over again — Georgia’s new law is arguably more progressive than New York or Delaware.

“And this is the basis on which the President of the United States calls people like us racists and traitors? Over this? Over how many days of early voting you’re going to have? Really?

This is the basis on which 40-plus Senate Democrats want to not only break their word, but break the Senate?

“This so-called ‘talking filibuster’ proposal is smoke and mirrors. There’s really only one question we’re dealing with here: Would it take 60 votes to pass massive changes? Or could a simple majority ram them through?

“That’s what’s at stake here. Nothing else. Will slender majorities need to build coalitions across the aisle, or not? Will huge chunks of federal law reverse themselves whenever gavels change hands?

***

“But, colleagues, something even more fundamental is at stake tonight.

“Everyone in this chamber knows that factional fires are burning hot across our country.

“As I look around, I don’t know if this many of us have actually gathered in this chamber together since January 6th of last year. We were all in here then.

“I stood up that day and said self-government requires shared respect for basic ground rules. I said we couldn’t keep drifting into two tribes and delegitimizing the few institutions we still share.

“Yes, the divisions run deep. Compromise is certainly challenging. But it would not serve a divided country if two factions take turns ruling over one another with an iron fist.

“Here is the solution for a divided country: Thoughtful compromise everywhere we can agree… and when we can’t agree, it just doesn’t happen.

“The American people are closely divided. We’re reflected here with a 50-50 Senate for the longest time in American history. There’s not a mandate to fundamentally transform America into something it’s never been. That’s not what the voters voted for.

“We’ve got a narrow majority trying to jam through, one after another, proposals to fundamentally turn us into something we’ve never been.

“Well, here’s the good news: the Framers custom-built the Senate to stop this kind of thing. That’s why this institution was constructed in the first place. We’re sitting in the place designed to stop this kind of thing. And we have the opportunity to do it here tonight.

“This is the first time in history that a Senate Majority Leader who is supposed to safeguard this institution has convinced nearly all of his party to attack the institution. That hasn’t happened before.

“Tonight, for the first time in history, almost an entire political party will write in permanent ink that they would shatter the soul of the Senate for short-term power.

“But a brave, bipartisan majority of this body is about to stop them. We will stop the Democratic Leader from silencing the voices of millions upon millions of Americans who have a right to be heard in this chamber. Many of them represented by us, who come from small states.

“They derisively look down on us as flyover territory. A place nobody wants to stop. The Senate was designed to represent those people. Every state gets two Senators. Some states have only one House member, but two Senators. We are here to protect middle America and the supermajority threshold in the Senate makes that more possible, so they can’t run roughshod over us. They can’t run roughshod over us and the people we represent.

“When our country needs leaders to fight the fires of factionalism, almost half the Senate wants to dump more gasoline right on top of it.

“When our institutions needed defending, a sitting President and a Majority Leader have made smashing the Senate an unofficial part of their party’s platform.

“Thanks to the courageous decision of at least a few of their members, they will not succeed. The country will be shielded from their radicalism tonight. And make no mistake about it, this is radicalism designed to fundamentally change America in every conceivable way to the disadvantage of virtually all the constituents represented on this side of the aisle. And theirs as well, if they were willing to admit it.

“So the Senate will be saved tonight. America can breathe a sigh of relief. This radicalism will have been stopped. And it’s a good day for America.”

McConnell Announces $465 Million to Fully Complete the Kentucky Lock and Dam Project

Source: United States Senator for Kentucky Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will provide $465,492,000 to fully complete the construction of the Kentucky Lock and Dam Project in its Fiscal Year 2022 Work Plan. Since Congress authorized this project in 1996, Senator McConnell has delivered over $1 billion to construct a new and larger lock.

According to the USACE, the incomplete Kentucky Lock creates among the longest shipping delays in the country, hindering the more than $5 billion worth of commodities that flow through the lock every year. Once completed, the new lock addition will effectively eliminate these delays well into the future.

Congress appropriated the funding for this project through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed last year with Senator McConnell’s support. In addition to helping fully complete the Kentucky Lock and Dam Project, this bipartisan legislation will provide the largest infrastructure investment in a generation, helping Kentucky improve its roads, bridges, railroads, riverports, rural broadband, and more.

“For decades, I have used my leadership roles in the United States Senate to advocate for improvements to Kentucky’s infrastructure, with a special focus on the long-awaited Kentucky Lock and Dam Project. Last year, I supported a landmark bipartisan infrastructure bill because it would help fund these projects fully and speed up their completion. With today’s announcement, those years of hard work, investment, and advocacy are finally coming to fruition,” said Senator McConnell. “Once finished, the new Kentucky Lock and Dam will allow the Commonwealth to take full advantage of our location at the heart of America’s inland waterways system and provide numerous advantages to Kentucky businesses and families. I am committed to continuing my partnerships with our local, state, and federal leaders to ensure the Army Corps can finish the job and finally complete this overdue improvement.”

“Thank you to Senator McConnell for securing the money needed to finish the Kentucky Lock. Senator McConnell has seen this project through to the end. The KY Lock project is a major economic boost to our state and surrounding counties,” said Lyon County Judge-Executive Wade White.

“This is great news to see the KY Lock addition project budgeted for completion. It’s job security for the men and women who currently work the project. Once completed, the river industries and local communities will benefit from faster waterway transportation giving them competitive commerce opportunities. I want to thank Sen. McConnell for his continued support of this project,” said Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal.

“With release today of the Corps of Engineers’ spend plans outlining specific inland waterways projects to be funded from the Infrastructure Package, we are gratified that the modernization of Kentucky Lock is funded to completion at over $465 million. With more than 110,000 jobs supported by Kentucky’s ports, inland waterways, and related industries, this project will increase efficiency for the transport of key commodities the Commonwealth and the nation depend upon and benefit the multitude of recreational users as well. We are grateful to Senator McConnell for his strident and unwavering support of this important project and his longstanding efforts as a champion of the inland waterways industry,” said Matt Ricketts, of Paducah, Chairman of Waterways Council Inc.

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