Senator Cramer's Weekly Update March 1-7

Democrats Using COVID for Taxpayer-funded Liberal Shopping Spree

I voted against final passage of H.R. 1319, the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Reconciliation being used as a legislative vehicle for Democrats' $1.9 trillion spending package on Saturday.

Democrats are using a global health pandemic to go on a shopping spree with taxpayer dollars, buying as many items off their liberal wish-list as they can get their hands on. It is gross.

Deceitfully labeled COVID-19 relief, this bill incentivizes workers to stay unemployed even as the economy recovers, gives federal employees weeks of additional paid leave with virtually no stipulations, bails out cities and states facing financial ruin after years of mismanagement by Democrats, and authorizes funding for years down the road, even as much of last year's relief packages has yet to be spent. With Democrats rushing this horribly flawed bill through Congress using a process designed to ensure they do not need any input from Republicans, it is clear whatever President Biden meant when he promised unity, he has failed miserably. And it is the American people who will suffer for it as their tax dollars are spent on wasteful and harmful government programs.

When this proposed legislation came before the Senate, Republicans used the tools at our disposal to push back, offering a series of amendments to hold Democrats accountable and expose their extreme agenda. Some of those measures offered by Senate Republicans I supported include:

  • Rejecting Senator Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) $15 minimum wage proposal;
  • Stopping prisoners and illegal immigrants from receiving stimulus checks;
  • Ensuring states like New York are honest and transparent about the numbers they report involving nursing homes if they are seeking federal assistance;
  • Prioritizing funding for schools reopened for in-person learning;
  • Authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline;
  • Reinstating Hyde Amendment protections to prevent taxpayer funds from paying for abortions;
  • Canceling Democrats' extended federal employee leave program and replacing those funds with additional border security;
  • Putting national security and public safety above Democrats' pet projects;
  • Preventing any of the bill’s funds from going to sanctuary cities;
  • Requiring schools to return to in-person classes five days a week in order to receive COVID-19 funding;
  • Using funding meant for the arts for border security amid the growing crisis at the southern border;
  • Reducing the size of the proposed legislation by two-thirds; and
  • Using funds from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund and the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery fund to pay for a bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bill.

Washington Watch

I discussed the bill with Tony Perkins on his Washington Watch show on how this is a really bad deal for the American people.

Point of View with Chris Berg

I also joined Chris Berg on his Point of View show to discuss the bill and the latest in Washington.

Introducing Legislation to Stop Banks from Discriminating Against Legal Industries

On Wednesday I led my colleagues in introducing the "Fair Access to Banking Act," a bill to prevent discrimination by banks and financial service providers against constitutionally-protected industries and law-abiding businesses. The bill builds off the Trump Administration's Fair Access Rule and expands on legislation I introduced last Congress.

Fairness matters. There is no place in our society for discrimination, and big banks are no exception. Financial service providers do not have the right to circumvent the Constitution or the law to create de-facto bans on legally-compliant businesses like energy producers or firearms manufacturers when they believe it is politically convenient. Our legislation makes it illegal to do so and imposes serious consequences on those who choose to violate the law.

There are 27 Senators cosponsoring the bill, and it is supported by a wide array of outside groups like the National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Rifle Association, National Mining Association, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

Pressing President Biden's Nominees at EPW Hearing

On Wednesday the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on the nominations of Brenda Mallory to be Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Janet McCabe to be Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator.

Janet McCabe

I questioned Janet McCabe about the Clean Power Plan, which she has called her "proudest accomplishment." It proved to be the most overbearing, big government imposition on states ever, which is why 26 states litigated it, including North Dakota. She has a steep hill to climb and a lot to answer for.

Brenda Mallory

I also questioned Brenda Mallory about whether she supports pipelines and how her current work at a legal environmental group which regularly takes on litigation against pipelines would impact her work as Chair of CEQ.

Legislation to Strengthen Election Integrity

Instead of working with Republicans to craft reasonable election security improvements, Democrats have taken a two-pronged approach to enact an extreme vision for America’s elections. While Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats push a bill to federalize elections that tramples on free speech and states’ rights, liberal activists are working at the state level to undermine the Electoral College and take away the voice states like North Dakota have in choosing our president. Both efforts must be stopped.

Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and I have introduced a bill which protects the integrity of the Electoral College, preserves the constitutional duty of states to oversee elections, and ensures taxpayer dollars are not used to violate existing election laws. Enacting it would be a common sense way for Congress to help restore the American people’s trust in our elections.

Weighing in on a Carbon Tax and President Biden's Interior Secretary Nominee

I joined Larry Kudlow on Fox Business on Tuesday to discuss the impact of implementing a carbon tax.

A carbon tax will raise the price of everything we buy, everything we grow, everything we manufacture, everything we produce, and everything we sell. It's in the value chain of everything we do all day long as a capitalist system. It would have a disproportionately negative impact on lower-income people. Whether you make $50,000 a year or $500,000 a year, the price of gasoline is the same.

We also discussed Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of the Interior, Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM). She actually came to North Dakota and served meals at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest site. When asked point blank by Senator Hoeven in her confirmation hearing whether she would recuse herself from any issues related to the Dakota Access Pipeline, she refused. I have serious reservations about her nomination.

Paris Accord an Opportunity to Assert American Leadership, Hold China Accountable

On Tuesday the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on global security challenges. During the hearing, I outlined my support for the United States rejoining the Paris Climate Accord as a way to assert its leadership on the world stage and respond to the rise of adversaries like China. I would like to see us reform the Paris Accord by being in it instead of chirping from the sidelines.

France is another example of how we can leverage our leadership in the Accord. France recently cancelled a deal to purchase American Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and opted to import dirtier Russian LNG instead. You do not have to be an expert to realize that is both a national security and environmental problem.

I also asked the witnesses whether China should continue to be treated as a developing country since it has increasingly become an adversary to the United States.

Senate Continues Considering President Biden's Cabinet Nominees

Opposing Miguel Cardona as Education Secretary

I voted against Miguel Cardona's nomination to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education on Monday.

The Democrats' education agenda is a disaster from start to finish. It makes teachers' unions the decision makers, encourages students to pursue higher-education even if better opportunities exist, and promises to forgive student loan debt by making everyone else pay for it. As Democrats like Mr. Cardona promulgate these harmful progressive policies in Washington, students across the country are sitting at home suffering because teachers' unions refuse to return to work, in complete defiance of what the science actually says and without rebuke from President Biden or his allies.

We need to reopen schools and enact reforms that increase competition and accountability, tailor students' educations to meet their needs, and improve outcomes. I voted against Mr. Cardona because he and the Biden Administration do not reflect the educational goals and values of North Dakota's students and families.

Opposing Gina Raimondo for Commerce Secretary

I voted against Governor Gina Raimondo's nomination to be U.S. Secretary of Commerce on Tuesday. President Biden and his Administration are too soft on the Chinese Communist Party. Huawei is a poorly-disguised vehicle to spy on Americans, which is why the Commerce Department under President Trump effectively blacklisted it, but during her confirmation Governor Raimondo refused to take a strong stand against Huawei and commit to continuing this common sense effort by the Trump Administration. Her lackluster commitment is nothing short of problematic. The Biden Administration needs to start treating the Chinese Communist Party and its many satellites as the serious threats they are.

Neera Tanden Withdraws Nomination for OMB Director

Neera Tanden withdrew her nomination to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Tuesday. Her nomination failed just as it should have. She has a history of being a poor manager and of supporting toxic far-left policies which would be detrimental to the nation if implemented. She was the wrong choice for this position, and I hope the next nominee President Biden puts forward will be a more qualified candidate with widespread support, rather than a polarizing one meant to appease his liberal base.

Serving as Ranking Member of EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee

During the 117th Congress, I will serve as the Ranking Member on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

It is past time Congress stopped viewing infrastructure as a talking point and started treating it as the national priority it is. I look forward to working with Chairman Cardin and my colleagues in both parties to use this subcommittee as an avenue to craft a bipartisan infrastructure package that sets partisan theatrics aside and delivers a significant, unifying win for the American people.

Introducing the Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act

I joined Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) in introducing the Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act, a bill to enable Congress to approve or block any effort by an administration to suspend or terminate U.S. sanctions against Iran.

If the Iranian regime wants to continue trying to build a nuclear weapon and supporting terrorism in the region, then the United States should keep our sanctions in place. Iran took advantage of the Obama Administration's weak approach, and our bill prevents President Biden from being able to make the same mistake.

Addressing Nuclear Modernization, Abraham Accords, and Energy Security at Armed Services Hearing

I questioned Dr. Colin Kahl – President Biden's nominee for Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, the third highest ranking position in the Defense Department - at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination on Thursday.

We covered nuclear modernization, the Middle East peace accords President Trump secured, and energy's role in keeping the United States safe and secure. I am grateful for Dr. Kahl's stated support of our nuclear efforts and his appreciation of the Trump Administration's achievements in helping increase peace in the world's most volatile region.

Introducing Bill to Protect American Workers

I joined Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) in introducing the Workforce Mobility Act, bipartisan legislation to limit the use of non-compete agreements.

Non-compete agreements stifle innovation and job mobility. I am glad North Dakota is a national leader in blocking these inhibitive practices. Our bipartisan bill makes non-competes virtually illegal and puts more power back into the hands of the American worker.

Call for Additional Assistance to Help Businesses Retain Employees

Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and I led a bipartisan letter to Senate leaders urging them to help businesses hit with major revenue losses because of the pandemic retain employees by improving access to the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC).

“Congress can provide urgently needed assistance that would help these employers keep workers on payroll through the economic recovery from COVID-19. This rule significantly limits the support that the ERTC can provide the hardest-hit businesses, such as those in the live entertainment and performing arts industries."

Grants for North Dakota

FEMA Awards $24 Million to NDDOH

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded $24,270,318.93 to the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH). The funds will be used to bolster North Dakota's management, control, and reduction of the COVID-19 pandemic across the state.

North Dakota Receives $14.4 Million to Support Hunting, Fishing, Outdoor Recreation

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service awarded North Dakota Game and Fish two grants totaling $14,446,919 through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program, which exists to help states properly care for outdoor recreational areas.

Through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program, excise taxes our hunters and anglers pay on their equipment returns to North Dakota for research and management of endangered species, maintenance on outdoor access infrastructure, and increased hunter education programs. North Dakota has a rich outdoor heritage, and I am glad to see this popular program delivering additional resources to ensure the state can successfully manage and maintain our recreational lands for this generation and future ones.

Southeastern North Dakota Community Action Agency Awarded $1.8 Million in Head Start Funds

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $1,828,290 to Southeastern North Dakota Community Action Agency. The funds come through the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, which promote school readiness for young children and toddlers from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development as well as early learning, health, and family well-being.

NDSU to Receive $1.1 Million for Biodiversity Research

The National Science Foundation awarded $476,889 to North Dakota State University (NDSU) Fargo with an intended total of $1,162,262. The funds will go toward biodiversity research for a project entitled, "CAREER: Coffee fungi below and aboveground: agroecological experiments for teaching and learning about fungal diversity and ecosystem function."

HHS Awards $1.1 Million through Head Start Programs in North Dakota

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $1,165,923 to Community Action Partnership. The funds come through the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, which promote school readiness for young children and toddlers from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development as well as early learning, health, and family well-being.

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