WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor denounce the nomination of Xavier Becerra to serve as the Secretary of Health and Human Services and to criticize the effort to re-join the Paris Climate Accords.
To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.
You can read the transcript recorded in the Congressional Records below or click here.
Mr. President, I wish that we could write off this nomination as an
anomaly, but we can't. It is part of a pattern of behavior on the left
that has destabilized our already fragile political discourse and
convinced the American people that the Biden administration will
prioritize their radical liberal agenda above the rights of the people
they were elected to serve.
I have to tell you, I hear about this every single day as I am
talking with Tennesseeans. Since the earliest days of the Republic, our
Union has managed to survive because of the people's willingness to
return to our founding principles--those first principles upon which we
However much that they disagreed, they knew that they were stronger
united than they were divided. So they would come together in the
public square. They would have robust, respectful debate. They would
agree to disagree, but they respected the fact that they lived in a
free country, and they could do this without fear of persecution,
without fear of being ostracized, and without fear of losing a job.
Today, Americans are looking for that same commitment to unity. Oh,
they heard about it during the inaugural address. Unity--we are going
to work for unity. But what has happened is a cord of panic and fear
has been struck in their hearts as they see Executive order after
Executive order and as they see Executive orders that are preferencing
other countries and not the U.S.A. And as they hear from the left words
that are, We are not looking for unity; what we are looking for is you
to submit to our agenda, conform to our way of doing things. What they
are doing is leaving no room for discussion, even on issues of
For decades, the various schools of thought represented in this
Chamber have advocated for different approaches to foreign relations.
Some revere international bodies and sweeping multilateral agreements,
and others approach these constructs with caution, prioritizing
national sovereignty over surface-level diplomacy.
When former President Trump formally withdrew from the Paris climate
accords in 2019, economists, business owners, and budget watchdogs all
breathed a sigh of relief because they knew that adherence to the Paris
climate accords would put the United States at a competitive
disadvantage. This wasn't a partisan debate, mind you; this was U.S.-
based companies--U.S.-based companies that were saying thank you for
withdrawing because adhering to this, when other countries that are our
competitors will not adhere, puts us at a disadvantage.
Now, with the climate accords, by 2035, we would have seen hundreds
of thousands of people lose their jobs, household electric bills go up
as much as 20 percent, and an aggregate GDP free fall of $2\1/2\
trillion. That is the cost. That is the cost of my way or the
highway. That is the cost of putting other countries and their agenda
ahead of us, the cost of their noncompliance.
Fast-forward to a little over a year later, and the Biden
administration has thrown us back into the accords and back into that
predicted economic free fall.
This week, I worked with my colleague Senator Daines to introduce two
pieces of legislation that will hopefully do a little bit of damage
control on that issue.
The first is a bill that would prohibit taxpayer dollars from being
used to rejoin the Paris Agreement. It makes sense. The reason it does
is you are taking jobs away from U.S. employers. You are causing
employees to become former employees or the unemployed. So it makes
sense. If you want to do this, don't use taxpayer dollars. Don't make
people pay for things that are going to take away their jobs.
The second is a resolution that would call on President Biden to
submit the Paris Agreement to the Senate for approval. It makes sense.
Where are treaties to come? Here. If you want unity,
send things to the Senate. If you are proud of the step you are taking,
send it to the Senate. Let there be a vote of the people's
representatives. Let there be discussion. Do we fear discussion? Do we
fear debate? Are we so given to the cancel culture that we just say it
is our way or the highway?
I would note that submitting these types of agreements for
consideration is a bare minimum standard set out in the Constitution,
and there is no legitimate reason anyone in this Chamber should object
to that. They should welcome respectful, robust debate.
I think we can all agree that this oversight duty is an important
one, and I would ask my colleagues to join me in letting the
administration know we are not going to abandon it simply because it
would make things more convenient for them.
Freedom and preserving freedom are not always convenient. It takes a
lot of hard work. It takes this body doing its job. It doesn't take
``my way or the highway'' Executive orders coming out of the White
On Inauguration Day, President Biden promised unity: all for it,
wanted to see it, going to work for it--nice words. But so far he has
done nothing but hide behind those Executive orders and force through
policies that even members of his own party object to.
In Tennessee, I have talked to many who have, for most of their
lives, been Democrats, and they are stunned--indeed, they are very
concerned--about this authoritarian approach to running the country.
Sign an Executive order and be done with it, hearing that the Speaker
of the House has a few people who can vote proxy for people, seeing all
this fencing around the Capitol causes Tennesseans to say: What in the
world is going on up there? This is not how we are supposed to act.
And I will tell you, to my friends across the aisle, one day this
tactic is going to backfire on the millions of Americans who are
standing up. They are contacting us. They are speaking out. They are
having buyer's remorse. It will be something that will backfire because
this is not the way we should be running our country.
I yield the floor.