Speeches

03.29.17

Whitehouse remarks on urgent need to invest in infrastructure

Mr. President, with the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act defeated, President Trump says he wants to move beyond health care to focus on other priorities. One area he's often highlighted is investing in our nation's crumbling infrastructure, a priority I share and something I'll discuss today. Every kid dreads having to bring home a bad report card. My kids knew that if their grades dropped off, we'd be having a serious talk. Every four years, the American Society of Civil E… Continue Reading


03.21.17

Time to Wake Up: Melting Glaciers and the Warming Arctic

Mr. President, back in 2015, on a trip to Ohio, I met Ellen Mosley-Thompson and Lonnie Thompson. They've been married 45 years-which is about as long as they've been research partners. Ellen and Lonnie are glaciologists who run the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at the Ohio State University. They have spent their lives studying the world's glaciers, leading expeditions all over the planet, to incredible places-the North Pole, the South Pole, the Greenland icecap, the high mountains of… Continue Reading


03.14.17

Time to Wake Up: The Effects of Climate Change on our National Security

Mr. President, I rise today for my 160th time to wake up speech, this one focused on the security consequences of our failure to deal with carbon emissions and climate change. My remarks at the Munich Security Conference pointed out that climate change presents several orders of security risk to society. The first order of security risk is physical damage: damage that science and our senses are already perceiving and measuring in our atmosphere, oceans and environment. This security risk-r… Continue Reading


03.02.17

Time to Wake Up: It's Basic Chemistry

Mr. President, this is my 159th "Time To Wake Up" speech. In giving these speeches, I've realized some of my colleagues seem to have a hard time wrapping their heads around the basic understanding of climate change. Some of President Trump's cabinet nominees seem to have the same problem. They say the scientific community is split on the issue. (It's not.) They say the climate's always been changing. (Not like this, it hasn't.) They say we can't trust projections and complex computer m… Continue Reading


03.01.17

Time to Wake Up: Financial Effects of Climate Change

Mr. President, I am here today for the 158th time to ask this Chamber to wake up to the mounting evidence of climate change. The sad truth is that, in Congress anyway, this issue has turned starkly partisan thanks to a torrent of dark political money that the fossil fuel industry uses to both threaten and reward the Republican Party in a dirty, dark money game of "stick and carrot." Republicans in Congress ignore climate change for the simple reason that the fossil fuel industry has become thei… Continue Reading


02.13.17

Time to Wake Up: Will the new Treasury Secretary show common sense on climate change?

Mr. President, I, too, will be voting no on the candidacy of Mr. Mnuchin to become Secretary of the Treasury. Rhode Island got hit so hard by the mortgage meltdown that Wall Street created. Frankly, I can never forget the Rhode Islanders who lost their homes in the course of that debacle. We were able to help some of them in my office. As the Presiding Officer knows, when you come to the Senate, you put together a constituent office, and your constituent people work on usual constituent busine… Continue Reading


02.06.17

Whitehouse on Education Secretary Nominee Betsy DeVos

Mr. President, I wish to add a few Rhode Island voices to the voice of the Senator from Minnesota. By the way, I am not cherry-picking my correspondence to find the rare letters in opposition to this nominee. We have had an unprecedented avalanche of opposition to this nominee. It is running well more than 100 to 1 against her, and it is people from all walks of life. Here is a letter from William, a 12th grader in Pawtucket, RI. William took the trouble to write to me. Let me start with the to… Continue Reading


02.01.17

Time to Wake Up: Trump's Nominees

Mr. President, we are gathered here this evening to seek to defend against the Congressional Review Act effort to overturn the clean stream protection rule. It is interesting that this first Congressional Review Act measure that we are taking up should be one that puts money into the pockets of the fossil fuel industry and lifts their obligation to clean up public streams that they have ruined with their pollution. As I have been in the Senate, I am in my second term, and I am more than halfway… Continue Reading


01.24.17

Introduction of the CHOICE Act

Mr. President, Republicans in Congress have been on the warpath for a long time to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In fact, in this new Congress, their first order of business has been to pave the way for dismantling this law. Despite the fact that 20 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage thanks to this law, despite people no longer being denied coverage for preexisting conditions, despite big savings in health care costs, and despite everyone with insurance being able to acces… Continue Reading


01.24.17

Time to Wake Up: What is Scott Pruitt Hiding?

Mr. President, what is Scott Pruitt hiding? Last week the Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on Trump's nominee to the Environmental Protection Agency. Today, I rise for my 155th "Time to Wake Up" speech with unanswered questions about Mr. Pruitt's fitness for that role. His evasiveness at his hearing signaled nothing good about his ties to the industry he would regulate if confirmed. And the lack of curiosity about these industry ties from my Republican colleagues speaks … Continue Reading


01.17.17

Time to Wake Up: Something Important

Mr. President, my "Time to Wake Up" speeches-this is number 154-sometimes feel like I'm out here banging hopelessly against a tightly locked, barred and soundproofed door. I make them anyway, because at a minimum I want history to know what happened here, when people look back and ask what the hell went wrong with American democracy. But I admit, it can sometimes be discouraging. Last week, however, something important happened. A public servant won a victory against a massive special inter… Continue Reading


01.11.17

Time to Wake Up: 2016 Recapitulation

Mr. President, sometimes people ask how I come up for material for these speeches, week after week. Well, it only takes reading the news. Look at the headlines and dubious milestones of 2016. Last year was hot. NASA and NOAA are expected to certify later this month that 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history, exceeding records set by 2015 and by 2014. What this actually means is that 2014, 2015, and 2016 have each succeeded the last as the three hottest years on record. The U.N. W… Continue Reading


01.05.17

Time to Wake Up: Climate Road Trips

Mr. President, this is the 152nd time I have come to the floor for my "Time to Wake Up" speech, warning about the perilous effects of climate change. I am going to continue this in the new Congress, continuing to present the latest and most compelling scientific evidence of the changes that are coming our way driven by carbon pollution. Nobody should take my word for it. I urge my colleagues to listen to their own home State's climatologists, their own home State's university researchers, their… Continue Reading


11.16.16

Time to Wake Up: President-Elect Trump and Climate Change

Mr. President, I appear to be on the floor for Utah Day, with the junior Senator presiding and the senior Senator speaking. I am delighted to follow the senior Senator. I think in the boisterous days and months we will see ahead, his longstanding reputation for collegiality and reason and the respect in which his colleagues all hold him could become valuable attributes in our Senate. Mr. President, I am here as the Senate reconvenes from the 2016 election recess to give my 149th climate speech,… Continue Reading


09.15.16

Time to Wake Up: Reaction to the Web of Denial

Mr. President, as the Senate reconvenes after several weeks of work in our home States, I am back for the 145th time asking my colleagues to wake up to the pressing reality of climate change. We are sleepwalking through this moment, willfully ignoring the warning signs of an already altered Earth, largely because of a decades-long corporate campaign of misinformation on the dangers of carbon pollution. Just last week, while we were back home, scientists at the International Geological Congress … Continue Reading


09.14.16

Time to Wake Up: Climate Change in Utah

Mr. President, I am here for the 146th time to wake this Chamber up to the consequence of climate change. The leading edge of consequence is already upon us, and it is threatening the people and economies of all 50 States. Because of the dark influence of the fossil fuel industry, we can't have an honest, bipartisan conversation here in the Senate about climate change. So I travel. I have been to 13 States. Last month, I visited Utah and met with local business, policy, and science leaders to le… Continue Reading


07.06.16

Time to Wake Up: The Denial Apparatus

Mr. President, I am here for the 143rd time now to urge Congress to wake up to the damage that carbon pollution is inflicting on our atmosphere and oceans and to make a record for when people look back at this time and at this place and wonder why Congress was so unresponsive in the face of all of the information. What are we up against that has prevented progress? What we are up against is a many-tentacled, industry-controlled apparatus that is deliberately polluting our discourse in this Nati… Continue Reading


06.21.16

Time to Wake Up: We the People

Mr. President, I am here for the 141st time to urge my colleagues to wake up, in this case more specifically to the political influence, particularly the dark money that perpetuates the climate blockade in Congress. In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville traveled the United States to write his famous Democracy in America. De Tocqueville described our American style of government as "quite exceptional." He wrote about it with affection and with fascination. He may have been the first American exceptiona… Continue Reading


06.14.16

Time to Wake Up: Chafee Hearings, Climate Change, and Trump

Mr. President, in a Chamber where the debate on climate change has become woefully one-sided and in a Congress where House Republicans just voted unanimously to oppose the only climate solution Republicans have come to, I want to use my 140th climate speech to remind us of a time when global warming concerns came from both sides of the aisle. Nearly 30 years ago this week, a Republican chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Environmental Pollution, who also served twic… Continue Reading


06.09.16

Gaspee Days

I rise as I do every year in the Senate to commemorate the anniversary of a brave blow Rhode Island struck for liberty and justice: The Gaspee Affair of 1772. On the night of June 9, into the morning of June 10, 1772, in the waters off Rhode Island, a band of American patriots pushed back against their British overlords-and drew the first blood of the struggle that would become the American Revolution. American school children learn in the history books of the Boston revelers who painted their… Continue Reading

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