Sen. Blackburn Decries HHS Secretary Nominee Xavier Becerra and Paris Climate Accords

February 23, 2021

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

international importance.

  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.