For too long, the federal government has been borrowing and spending money that it simply does not have. This is not just a problem facing us in the future – we are facing the consequences right now.
Because politicians in Washington vote for enormous spending packages in exchange for short-term praise and political gain, hardworking families in Utah and across America are forced to pay the price through inflation which makes life more expensive – especially for the poor and middle class.
Every day, it’s getting more expensive to fill cupboards, refrigerators, and bellies. Every day, it’s getting more expensive to buy gas to drive to work, to the doctor, or to drive the kids to school. Every day, it’s getting harder to buy a house, buy a car, or pay for the heat and air conditioning.
There are difficult decisions ahead. We might have to say “no” to proposals and spending packages that are not truly necessary, so that everyday Utahns and Americans can say “yes” to what is truly necessary. I am working to ensure they can do just that.
This past week, we marked the anniversary of a deadly day in American history that has resulted in the loss of millions of innocent American lives: the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Since January, 22 1973, more than 60 million unborn children have been lost to the scourge of abortion.
Today, we honor and remember those lives, as well as those who have been hurt by the pains of abortion.
In a normal year, tens of thousands of Americans would be marching down Constitution Avenue this Friday to do so. This year, as with so many things, the March for Life will instead be virtual.
But nonetheless, Americans will continue to march – whether virtually, or in person where they can.
The theme of this year’s March is “Together Strong: Life Unites.”
A fitting theme following a year rife with division, violence, and loss. Now more than ever, we must unite as a nation, turning with hope towards the future.
Hope that our nation will heal.
Hope that justice will prevail.
Hope that the grievous act of abortion will be forsaken.
And, given our country’s history – in which we have stubbornly made mistakes, but thankfully, come around in the end – there is much reason for hope.
But we cannot heal and unite if we do not honor and respect all of the American people – born, and unborn.
Through our laws and with our lives, we ought to affirm the truth that the lives of both the mother and the baby matter…. and that healthcare should heal, protect, and preserve both those lives.
That is why I introduced legislation this week to help our laws and taxpayer dollars affirm that truth.
Through my bill, the Abortion is Not Healthcare Act, we have the chance to stop the tax deductibility of abortions, which are currently categorized as “medical care” by the IRS.
Because we must be serious: whatever else it may be, of course elective abortion is not health care. That’s why physicians literally take an oath “to do no harm.”
The government should not offer tax benefits for a procedure that kills hundreds of thousands of unborn children each year.
And we also have the chance to permanently stop the use of American foreign aid money from funding or promoting abortions overseas; perpetuating violence against women and children abroad – especially, baby girls.
The Protecting Life in Foreign Assistance Act will save countless lives across the globe, and affirms the truth that the lives of all unborn children – regardless of where they are from – have dignity and worth.
As the lyrics of a children’s song in my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, say about each one of us, “I am a child of God.”
We are one human family, all children of God… these littlest among us, too, who cannot yet sing for themselves. But they will soon. They will soon.
This week as the Senate negotiated a COVID relief package, I met virtually with Utahns from around the state to hear what was on their minds in these difficult times.
Our hospitals are looking forward to getting their frontline workers vaccinated but they are also worried that these vital individuals will experience symptoms and feel sick for a day or two after being vaccinated. They are strategizing on how to ensure they can get all the workers vaccinated but still have enough staff feeling healthy and able to work at any given time.
Utah’s businesses were also eager for the vaccine to be distributed and in the meantime, they were looking for a liability shield from Congress as well as an easier process for Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness.
Our medical equipment producers had some frustrations about the complicated process when working with the Food and Drug Administration and other entities within the Department of Health and Human Services. They also described difficulties in selling their goods on various internet marketplaces.
Our energy industry continues to experience fluctuations in demand and worries that necessary regulatory flexibility will not continue in the new year.
After each of these calls, I felt more informed about the implications of the pandemic on Utahns and the efforts being made to safely recover. The participants gave me a great deal to think about and areas of reform to consider.
Utah has handled this pandemic far better than most states, we have the 5th lowest unemployment rate in the country, and we should be proud of that. But there is still much work that needs to be done and my door is always open to you to hear how my staff and I can help you.
Few ideas are more central to who we are as Americans than the notion that people should be judged based on their own merits as an individual with God-given rights, not on the basis of the color of their skin or where they come from.
As our Founders wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” Those words are as much a part of our national creed in this moment as they were when they were written two hundred and forty three years ago, and our laws should reflect their enduring truth.
That is why I have been working to end nationality discrimination in our nation’s employment-based green-card system ever since I arrived in Congress. This Wednesday we took a big step towards ending that discrimination by passing HR 1044, a bill designed to fight discrimination in our nation’s immigration system while also increasing protections for American workers.
Specifically the legislation would:
- End country of origin discrimination by eliminating annual country-of-origin caps on green-card visas without increasing the total number of green cards issued each year.
- Forbid all employers with workforces consisting of more than 50% temporary visa workers from sponsoring any new temporary visa workers.
- Close the B-1 temporary business visitor visa loophole used by many employers to avoid H-1B visa caps.
- Levy new fees on all H1-B applications that would be dedicated to investigating fraud in the H-1B system.
- Prohibit the adjustment of status for any member of the Chinese Communist Party or People’s Liberation Army.
The House still has to pass this amended version of their original bill, and President Trump still has to sign it. But if this legislation does become law it will be the strongest anti-abuse and anti-discrimination reform passed since the H-1B program was created 30 years ago.
In a closely contested election like the one we are still working through, our shared institutions become that much more meaningful.
That is why it was such an honor this week to begin the final interviews for the United States Service Academy nominations. Our nation’s service academies demand the highest academic and physical discipline and it is one of my great joys as a senator to see nominees graduate and succeed in their respective branches.
This week we also celebrated Veterans Day, a moment to thank our soldiers, bot past and present, for all the sacrifices they made for our country.
If you are a veteran or the loved one of a veteran, please remember that members of my staff stand ready to help you with: assistance obtaining military records and medals; assistance getting updates on benefit claims; assistance communicating with the VA; and many more services.
“That’s their job,” Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg responded when asked in 2016 if the Senate had an obligation to act on President Barack Obama’s nomination of U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
“There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president stops being president in his last year,” Ginsburg added.
Justice Ginsburg was right in 2016, and as we grieve her passing last week, we must acknowledge that she is still right today.
In 2012, the American people reelected Democrat Obama for another four-year term as president. In 2014, the American people elected a Republican majority in the Senate. And so, when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, the relevant institutions were split between the parties.
President Obama exercised his constitutional authority and nominated liberal Judge Garland to replace Scalia. The Senate exercised its constitutional authority and refused to confirm Garland.
This is the constitutional process and the historical norm. There has been a Supreme Court vacancy arising in an election years 29 times in American history. In 10 of those cases the presidency was held by one party and the Senate was held by a different party. Nine of those 10 nominees were rejected by the Senate, just like Garland was rejected.
On the other hand, there have been 19 times when a Supreme Court seat became vacant in an election year where both the presidency and the Senate were controlled by the same party. Only one nominee, Abe Fortas, was rejected.
Confirming Supreme Court justices when both parties control the White House and Senate in an election year is perfectly normal. Indeed, it may be the most normal thing Washington does in this most unusual year.
This week I chaired an Antitrust Subcommittee hearing into allegations that Google has violated our nation’s antitrust laws by forcing advertisers who want to advertise on one Google property (like YouTube), to also buy advertising on other Google products (like search).
The hearing was mostly productive, but I was not satisfied with many of Google’s answers which felt scripted and unresponsive.
My takeaway from the hearing was that Google has a commanding share of every piece of the online advertising market, and it appears to be using its leading market positions in search and online video to engage in tying on the advertiser side of its business, essentially forcing the vast majority of demand onto its platform. In turn, publishers are also forced to use Google’s platform because there really isn’t any other option.
Antitrust analysis depends heavily on the facts, and we simply don’t have them all here. I am glad that the Department of Justice is seriously investigating these allegations, and hope it will pursue an appropriate remedy if necessary.
A healthy family life is crucial to healthy child development. Children from stable families grow up to be healthier, better educated, and more likely to be employed then children who grow up in unstable environments. Sometimes birth parents, knowing they are ill-equipped to provide the emotional and financial security a child needs, place their children in foster or adoptive families that provide enriching relationships and a stable home environment children would otherwise lack.
We can and should do more for these children and the adoptive parents who sacrifice so much to care for them. That is why the Joint Economic Committee’s Social Capital Project released a report this Wednesday identifying five issue areas where state and federal governments can enact better policies that could improve the lives of foster children.
Congress recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. I am proud to announce several important amendments to the final bill that are sure to benefit Utah and the nation.
My Allied Burden Sharing Report amendment, adopted into the NDAA, will require the Department of Defense (DoD) to submit a report on the contributions made by our allies to our common defense. It will allow Congress to perform its oversight over U.S. defense agreements with our allies to know whether they are paying their share of the costs associated with our mutual defense strategy.
I worked successfully with Senator Lankford to adopt language in the NDAA that will allow the DoD to hire veterans into civilian positions without having to wait the arbitrary six months currently mandated. This destructive 180-day hiring restriction was an artificial barrier to entry for highly skilled veterans who are needed most and can least afford to wait.
I also worked with Senator Romney on an amendment requiring the DoD to report on our Chemical and Biological Defense Program. Much of this critical work is conducted at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. The passage of this amendment will ensure Congress better understands the mission-essential work done by this program to keep our troops safe from chemical and biological contaminants.
Finally, I also introduced a bipartisan amendment to include the ARTICLE One Act, which would re-assert Congress’ role in determining future emergency declarations. This could prevent millions of dollars of vital funds from being diverted away from important defense procurement and training projects within Utah and across the country. Diverting funds undermines the mission readiness of our Airmen and the Utah National Guard. While this was not adopted, I look forward to continuing to work on this priority so that Americans have a voice, through their elected Senators and Representatives, on determining when emergency authorities should be granted to the executive branch to reprioritize the federal government’s spending and actions.
I am committed to working for my fellow Utahns who bravely serve in the armed forces and ensuring their voices are heard in Congress. These amendments are win-wins for the State of Utah, the members of our nation’s armed forces, and the American taxpayers.