Congressional Dish

By Jennifer Briney

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Subscribers: 640
Reviews: 5

 Jan 24, 2022

 Jul 30, 2021
Thorough, thoughtful, and reasonable discourse about the US Congress. Great job by Jen. Very necessary conversations and I wish more news sources would do this much research. Please support to keep it ad free.

 Nov 12, 2019
objectively great breakdowns in policy that only a value for value business model can assure. that said, her political opinions can get a bit waffly but never extreme or in bad faith, so if you get mad its your problem.

 May 2, 2019
Simply the best podcast/information to learn what's really going on in Congress. 7 stars!!!!!

 Jan 17, 2019
This is a great podcast to learn about what's going on in Congress.


Congressional Dish is a twice-monthly podcast that aims to draw attention to where the American people truly have power: Congress. From the perspective of a fed up taxpayer with no allegiance to any political party, Jennifer Briney will fill you in on the must-know information about what our representatives do AFTER the elections and how their actions can and will affect our day to day lives. Hosted by @JenBriney. Links to information sources available at

Episode Date
CD262: Inside C-SPAN with Howard Mortman

As we wait for the final results of the midterm elections to determine which party will control the House, enjoy Jen's interview with C-SPAN Communications Director, Howard Mortman. Jen and Howard discuss all things C-SPAN, including what C-SPAN crews are and are not allowed to film and the network's funding sources and distribution, as well has Howard's podcast, the Weekly, and his book, When Rabbis Bless Congress.

Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links

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Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish

Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

View the shownotes on our website at

Executive Producer Recommended Sources

Ecomodernist Society of North America

CD261: Inflation Reduction Act

CD258: Gain of Function Research

Background Sources

Howard Mortman

Howard Mortman Bio

C-SPAN's The Weekly Podcast

Book: When Rabbis Bless Congress: The Great American Story of Jewish Prayers on Capitol Hill

On Twitter @HowardMortman

Jen on C-SPAN

Washington Journal, August 9, 2019

Washington Journal, September 10, 2022

Alzheimer’s Testimony Seth Rogan's and Charity

“Alzheimer's Disease Research.” February 26, 2014. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services.

Hilarity for Charity (HFC)

Origins of COVID-19

Katherine Eban and Jeff Kao. October 28, 2022. “COVID-19 Origins: Investigating a ‘Complex and Grave Situation’ Inside a Wuhan Lab.” ProPublica.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Nov 12, 2022
CD261: Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act is a new law designed to hasten the United States’ energy transition (and do nothing about inflation). In the last episode before the midterm election, learn about the energy path the Democratic Party has plotted for us and learn how this new law can possibly save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links

  • Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal
  • Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode)
  • Send Zelle payments to:
  • Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney
  • Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or
  • Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North, Number 4576, Crestview, FL 32536.

Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish

Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

View the show notes on our website at

Jen Podcast Appearances

EP 63 Honest Government Analyst Jennifer Briney talks Privilege, White House & Hotels. The Living Numbers Podcast with Tony Rambles.

Disaster - Jennifer Briney. A Word with Tom Merritt.

Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD259: CHIPS: A State Subsidization of Industry

CD250: Congress Saves the Postal Service

CD246: BIF: Appalachian Chemical Storage

CD240: BIF The Infrastructure BILL

CD218: Minerals are the New Oil

CD205: Nuclear Waste Storage

CD146: Repeal & Replace

CD048: The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Tax Credits and Refunds

Home Energy Efficiency Tax Credits

“Tax Credits for Energy Efficient Home Improvements.” eFile.

Rocky Mengle. Sept 16, 2022. “Save More on Green Home Improvements Under the Inflation Reduction Act.” Kiplinger.

“Federal Income Tax Credits and Other Incentives for Energy Efficiency.” Updated Aug 18, 2022. Energy Star.

Electric Appliance Rebates

“Quick Facts: United States.” U.S. Census Bureau.

Electric Car Tax Credit

26 U.S. Code § 30D - Clean vehicle credit. Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute.

Alternative Fuels Data Center. “Electric Vehicles with Final Assembly in North America.” U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Kelley R. Taylor. Oct 18, 2022. “EV Tax Credits Are Changing: What’s Ahead.” Kiplinger.

Greg Iacurci. Oct 15, 2022. “The 'bummer' of the $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit: Its full value may be hard to get.” CNBC.

John Bozzella. Aug 5, 2022. “What If No EVs Qualify for the EV Tax Credit? It Could Happen.” Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

John Bogna. Jun 22, 2022. “Hydrogen-Powered Cars: Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles Explained.” PCMag.

U.S. Geological Survey. “Mineral Commodity Summaries 2021.” U.S. Department of the Interior.

“OFAC Sanctioned Countries.” Princeton University Research & Project Administration.

Alternative Fuel vehicle refueling property credit

Kelley R. Taylor. Sept 14, 2022. “The Federal Tax Credit for Electric Vehicle Chargers is Back.” Kiplinger.

26 U.S. Code § 30C - Alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit. Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute.


Catherine Clifford. Sep 8, 2022. “The clean hydrogen energy economy was a dream. The climate bill could make it a reality this decade.” CNBC.

Emma Ochu et al. Jun 17, 2021. “Hydrogen Fact Sheet: Production of Low-Carbon Hydrogen.” Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, Center on Global Energy Policy.

“Lisa Murkowski.” Open Secrets.

Jay Bartlett and Alan Krupnick. December 2020. “Decarbonized Hydrogen in the US Power and Industrial Sectors: Identifying and Incentivizing Opportunities to Lower Emissions.” Resources for the Future.

24/7 Wall St. Feb 16, 2020. “How Many Gas Stations Are In U.S.? How Many Will There Be In 10 Years?” Market Watch.

Health Care

“The Inflation Reduction Act Lowers Health Care Costs for Millions of Americans.” Oct 5, 2022. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“Inflation Reduction Act: CMS Implementation Timeline.” 2022. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Carbon Capture

Angela C. Jones and Ashley J. Lawson. Oct 5, 2022. “Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) in the United States.” Congressional Research Service.

Emily Pontecorvo. Aug 22, 2022. “Will the Inflation Reduction Act jumpstart carbon capture?” Grist.

“Global Status of CCS 2021.” 2021. Global CCS Institute.

“Carbon capture and storage could also impact air pollution.” Nov 17, 2011. European Environment Agency.

Offshore Wind Leases

Abby Husselbee and Hannah Oakes. Aug 25, 2022. “The IRA Offshore Energy Leasing Provisions’ Potential Impacts.” Harvard University Environmental & Energy Law Program.

“Memorandum on the Withdrawal of Certain Areas of the United States Outer Continental Shelf from Leasing Disposition.” Sept 8, 2020. The White House.

Fossil Fuels

David Jordan. Oct 6, 2022. “Interior moves forward with oil and gas drill site leasing.” Roll Call.

“Inflation Reduction Act Fossil Fuel Provisions.” Aug 18, 2022. Enersection.

30 U.S. Code § 226 - Lease of oil and gas lands. Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute.

The Associated Press. Apr 16, 2022. “Biden increases oil royalty rate and scales back lease sales on federal lands.” NPR.


Kelley R. Taylor. Oct 10, 2022. “The Inflation Reduction Act and Taxes: What You Should Know.” Kiplinger.

“Inflation Reduction Act includes 15% corporate minimum tax on book income.” August 16, 2022. EY.

Jacob Bogage. Aug 12, 2022. “The new Wall Street tax key to Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act.” The Washington Post.

Peter Warren. Aug 11, 2022. “‘Inflation Reduction Act’ Holds the SALT.” Empire Center.

“Lobbying: Intuit Inc.” Open Secrets.

“CBO Cost Estimate: H.R. 1 - the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” November 13, 2017. Congressional Budget Office.

The Law

H.R.5376 - Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

“Summary: Estimated Budgetary Effects of H.R. 5376, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.” Revised August 5, 2022. Congressional Budget Office.

Audio Sources

Full Committee Hearing On Opportunities and Challenges in Deploying Innovative Battery and Non-Battery Technologies for Energy Storage

September 22, 2022 Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Tim Hemstreet, Managing Director for Renewable Energy Development, PacifiCorp
Spencer Nelson, Managing Director, Research and New Initiatives, ClearPath
Ted Wiley, President and Chief Operating Officer, Form Energy

19:19 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): When it comes to storage, there has rightly been a focus on the supply chain, particularly for lithium ion batteries that power electric vehicles and phones in our pockets and many other modern technologies. While we have benefited from the use of this important battery chemistry, the fact that China is responsible for 75% of global lithium ion battery production, including 60% of the world's cathode production and 80% of the world's anode production, should give everyone pause. That is why I was proud to champion Inflation Reduction Act which incentivized the onshoring of the entire battery supply chain, from the production and processing of raw materials, to the battery pack assembly and everything in between.

Full Committee Hearing On Domestic Critical Mineral Supply Chains

March 31, 2022
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Dr. Steve Fortier, Director, USGS National Minerals Information Center, U.S. Department of the Interior
Scott Melbye, President, Uranium Producers of America
Julie Padilla, Chief Regulatory Officer, Twin Metals Minnesota
Abigail Wulf, Vice President, Critical Minerals Strategy and Director of the Center for Critical Minerals Strategy, Securing America's Future Energy
Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, Director, West Virginia Water Research Institute, West Virginia University

24:14 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): It makes no sense to remain beholden to bad actors when we have abundant resources in manufacturing know-how here in the United States. And make no mistake, we are beholden, particularly when it comes to many of the minerals that go into clean energy technologies. That is why I've sounded the alarm about going down the path of EVs alone and advocated for equal treatment for hydrogen

45:08 Abigail Wulf: As things stand, without some significant course corrections on America's critical minerals enterprise, the leading automobile power won't be the United States. It will be China. Not because of superior design or technology, but because of their massive head start and established market power, if not utter dominance, in all aspects of the supply chain that powers these [electric] vehicles. But simply mining alone does not begin to address the fundamentals of America's mineral supply chain challenge. Where we are most lacking and where China is most dominant is in that crucial but largely hidden processing phase and midstream component production. We simply can't dig up a rock and stick it in a Tesla. You have to crush it, smelt it, and refine it into precursor material that has been sold to somebody else to turn it into battery guts, namely cathodes, anodes and electrolytes. Today, the United States has less than 4% of all minerals processing capacity and makes 0% of the world's cathodes and anodes. By contrast, China is the world's largest processor of copper, nickel, cobalt, lithium and rare earth elements, and they control 60% of anode production and 40% of global cathode production. Consider that in 2019, about 70% of the world's cobalt supply was mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but more than 70% of that cobalt was refined in or controlled by China.

Full Committee Hearing On Clean Hydrogen

February 2, 2022
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Dr. Sunita Satyapal, Director, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office, Hydrogen Program Coordinator, U.S. Department of Energy
Dr. Glen Richard Murrell, Executive Director, Wyoming Energy Authority
Jonathan Lewis, Senior Counsel and Director of Transportation Decarbonization, Clean Air Task Force
Michael J. Graff, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc.
Brian Hlavinka, Vice President, New Energy Ventures, Corporate Strategic Development, Williams

21:07 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): However, we have some challenges to tackle in order to build a clean hydrogen economy. Producing hydrogen without emissions is two to six times the cost of current production methods. Also, retrofitting end-use applications to use hydrogen as a feedstock, from chemical plants to cars and trucks, will take huge investments from both public and private sectors. This is the demand that we need to develop hydrogen markets that can sustain themselves. The other big challenge is the safe and efficient transport and storage of large volumes of hydrogen, given its physical properties. There's a lot of promising work being done in this space and will allow us to leverage our vast natural gas pipeline network to transport hydrogen to market.

22:00 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): That is why I made research, development, and demonstration of these technologies a central part of the Energy Infrastructure Act, which this committee reported with bipartisan support last year, and which was subsequently included in the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In that bill, we fund $9.5 billion in research, development and demonstration of clean hydrogen, and we tasked the Department of Energy to develop a national strategy and a roadmap to get us to a clean hydrogen economy.

27:25 Sen. James Lankford (R-OK): I'm concerned that the conversation around green versus blue hydrogen will pit technologies against each other rather than working together to establish a robust hydrogen marketplace. The simple truth right now is that 95% of hydrogen produced in the United States is made from natural gas.

1:42:00 Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): Can you share what the administration's policy is with regards to converting natural gas to hydrogen? We recognize that there are some within the [Biden] administration, certainly some groups that may have influence on the administration, who are very firm about not using fuel sources like natural gas. So the question is, is there a role for conversion to play? And what might we anticipate with regards to support and funding that might come with it? Dr. Sunita Satyapal: Thank you again for the question. And as mentioned, with hydrogen shot, we're really looking at all of the pathways. It's really about clean hydrogen. So whether it's natural gas, carbon feedstocks, nuclear renewables, you know, any pathway to get to the low carbon intensity, we're really pivoting away from the colors. There's a lot of complexity: green, blue, purple, turquoise….Pyrolysis is another approach. In fact, our loan program office just announced financing of $1 billion solid carbon, which is another value added product, no need for the CCS portion. So definitely an all-of-the-above strategy needed to meet all of our goals.

Full Committee Hearing to Examine Development and Deployment of Large-Scale Carbon Dioxide Management Technologies

July 28, 2020
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Steven Winberg, (Former) Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy at the US Department of Energy
Shannon Angielski, Executive Director of the Carbon Utilization Research Council
Dr. Julio Friedmann, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University

25:06 Dr. Julio Friedmann: Net zero means that any residual emissions must be balanced by removal, as Secretary Moniz said. It means that reduction of co2 emissions and removal of co2 emissions are complementary but distinct actions and that both are necessary. The National Academies and the IPCC find that this must be done at enormous scale exceeding the size of the global oil and gas industry today. We are not where we need to be to make this real.

48:35 Shannon Angielski: In addition, the International Energy Agency modelled the contributions of different technologies to meet that mid-century 2 degree scenario. And it shows that CCUS accounts for approximately 100 Giga tons of needed global co2 emissions reductions by 2060. To put this into perspective, this would be achieved by the operation of 1100 carbon capture systems on the equivalent of 500 megawatt coal fired units, or 3200 natural gas combined cycle units, which would need to be operating for the next 30 years.

1:59:00 Steven Winberg: The rest of the world is going to continue using fossil energy, whether it's coal or oil or natural gas. And that's why we have moved forward quickly on the coal first program, because it offers the opportunity for what I think of as 21st century coal. Right now the Chinese own the space in power generation — coal fired power generation. We have an opportunity to take technology and springboard over what the Chinese are building, which is basically 1970s vintage technology that we built, and they now have improved slightly, but they're selling it around the world, to countries that have coal under their feet, and they're going to continue using that coal. But with the coal first program, we can move into power generation, and we can move into hydrogen production, because these countries also, as they build out their transport sector, may not do it the same way that developed countries, they may move more swiftly into hydrogen. And so there's an opportunity there to take our technology using their natural resources that are under their feet, and produce zero emitting power generation and zero emitting hydrogen and perhaps even net negative hydrogen and net negative electricity and they can use that hydrogen in the transportation sector as well as the industrial sector.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Oct 30, 2022
CD260: Failure to Fund with Graham Elwood

Congress has failed to fund the government on time again. In this episode, Graham Elwood joins Jen as she geeks out on all the dingleberries attached to the new law extending Congress’s funding deadline until December 16th.

Episode Transcript

Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links

  • Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal
  • Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode)
  • Send Zelle payments to:
  • Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney
  • Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or
  • Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North, Number 4576, Crestview, FL 32536.

Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish

Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

View the shownotes on our website at

Graham Elwood

Government Secrets Podcast with Lee Camp and Graham Elwood

Political Vigilante Podcast

Executive Producer Recommended Sources

“From the Archive: Joe Hickman Blew the Whistle on Burn Pits 5 Years Ago.” August 8, 2022. The Peter Collins Show.

Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD248: Understanding the Enemy

CD244: Keeping Ukraine

CD238: Losing Afghanistan

CD176: Target Venezuela: Regime Change in Progress

CD087: Run for Congress with Chris Clemmons

FDA User Fees

Katie Hobbins. Oct 3, 2022. “FDA User Fee CR Passed, Questions on Policy and Reform Riders Remain.” Medical Device + Diagnostic Industry (MD+DI).

New Mexico Fire

Ryan Boetel. Sept 29, 2022. “$2.5 billion for fire damage relief included in spending bill.” Albuquerque Journal.

Associated Press. Jun 21, 2022. “US Forest Service admits ‘multiple miscalculations’ caused New Mexico fire.” The Guardian.

Elizabeth Miller and Jason Samenow. May 5, 2022. “Large fires are raging in New Mexico, and the worst may be coming.” The Washington Post.

Republicans and Disaster Relief Funding

Sharon Zhang. Oct 3, 2022. “Every Single Florida House Republican Voted Against Disaster Relief Funding.” Truthout.

Zach Schonfeld. Oct 3, 2022. “Gaetz asks for Florida hurricane aid after voting against CR with FEMA funding.”

Lauren Book. Oct 3, 2022. “Today, President Biden included additional Florida counties as those considered major disaster areas…” [tweet]

Sanjana Karanth. Oct 2, 2022. “Florida Senators Request More Federal Aid Despite Not Voting For Hurricane Relief.” HuffPost.

Anna Skinner. Sept 30, 2022. “Matt Gaetz Votes Against Disaster Relief Days After Hurricane Ian Hits.” Newsweek.

Sergio Bustos. Sept 30, 2022. “Marco Rubio, Rick Scott urge Senate leaders for more funds to recover, rebuild Florida after Hurricane Ian.” Tallahassee Democrat.

Patrick Leahy. Sept 9, 2022. “Hurricane Ian shows reason for FEMA Disaster Relief Fund.” Vermont Biz.

Jackson Water Crisis

Anthony Warren. Sept 30, 2022. “$20 million federal allocation for Jackson water clears House of Representatives.” Jackson WLBT.

Michael Goldberg. Sept 27, 2022. “Funds to aid Jackson's water system held up as governor rose.” Yahoo News.

Annie Snider and Lara Priluck. Sept 21, 2022. “House appropriators eye as much as $200M for Jackson water crisis.” Politico.

James Brasuell. Aug 20, 2022. “Water Supply Failure in Jackson, Mississippi.” Planetizen.

Continuing Resolution

Aidan Quigley. Sept 30, 2022. “Stopgap funding bill clears House; next stop is Biden’s desk.” Roll Call.

David Hawkings. Sept 7, 2016. “What Is a Continuing Resolution?” Roll Call.


James Bradley. Oct 4, 2022. “Why does a hurricane relief bill have money for Ukraine in it? Seriously.” [tweet]

Emily Cochrane. Sept 29, 2022. “Senate Passes Bill to Aid Ukraine and Avert Government Shutdown.” The New York Times.

Chelsey Cox. Sept 29, 2022. “Senate passes stopgap funding bill to avert government shutdown, provide more Ukraine aid.” CNBC.

Jackie Walorski Crash

Marek Mazurek. Sept 16, 2022. “Crash that killed U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, 3 others due in part to 'excessive speed.'”


“Appropriations Status Table: FY2023.” Congressional Research Service.

Jeff Sachs

Jeff Sachs on Bloomberg Global Financial News LIVE. Oct 3, 2022. “This is a path of dangerous escalation.”

Bono. Apr 18, 2005. “The 2005 TIME 100: Jeffrey Sachs.” TIME.

Peter Passell. Jun 27, 1993. “Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Shock Therapist.” The New York Times.

Campaign Contributions from the Defense Industry

“Defense: Top Recipients: 2020” Open Secrets.


Craig Whitlock. The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War. Simon & Schuster: 2021.

Spencer Ackerman. Apr 29, 2013. “How the CIA's Bags of Cash Undermined the Afghanistan War.”

U.S. Infrastructure and Global Rankings

“United Nations Sustainable Development Report Rankings.”

“The Global Competitiveness Report, 2019.”

Contaminated Water in the United States

Gloria Oladipo. Sep 6, 2022. “Toxic arsenic levels make tap water unsafe for thousands in New York City.” The Guardian.

Emily Holden et. al. Feb 26, 2021. “More Than 25 Million Americans Drink From the Worst Water Systems.” The Guardian.

Maura Allaire. Feb 12, 2018. “National trends in drinking water quality violations.” The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 115(9).

Paul Pelosi Chip Stock

Caroline Vakil. Jul 27, 2022. “Pelosi’s husband sells off up to $5 million worth of chipmaker stock ahead of semiconductor bill vote.” The Hill.

Starbucks Unionization

“Current Starbucks Statistics.” Union Election Data.

Laws and Treaties

H.R.6833: Making continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2023, and for other purposes

Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 on the accession of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic

Vote breakdown

Audio Sources

Jeff Sachs on Bloomberg Global Financial News LIVE

Oct 3, 2022

Jeff Sachs: The main fact is that the European economy is getting hammered by this by the sudden cut off of energy. And now to make it definitive the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline, which I would bet was a US action, perhaps the US and Poland. This is a speculation — Bloomberg Host: That's quite a statement. Why do you feel that that was a US action? What evidence do you have of that? Jeff Sachs: Well, first of all, there's direct radar evidence that US helicopters, military helicopters that are normally based in Gdansk, we're circling over this area. We also had the threats from the United States earlier in this year that one way or another, we are going to end Nord Stream. We also have a remarkable statement by Secretary Blinken, last Friday in a press conference, he says this is also a tremendous opportunity. It's a strange way to talk if you're worried about piracy on international infrastructure of vital significance. I know this runs counter to our narrative, that you're not allowed to say these things in the West, but the fact of the matter is, all over the world, when I talk to people, they think the US did it. And by the way, even reporters on our papers that are involved tell me privately, “Well, of course,” but it doesn't show up in our media.

House Session

September 30, 2022
Jen’s Highlighted PDF

Senate Session

September 29, 2022

Jen’s Highlighted PDF

Senate Session

April 30, 1998

Jen’s Highlighted PDF

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Oct 10, 2022
CD259: CHIPS: A State Subsidization of Industry

A new law, known as the CHIPS Act, provides over $50 billion to existing, profitable companies to fund new semiconductor production facilities in the United States. In this episode, we examine why Congress decided to gift these companies our tax money now and explore the geopolitical implications of this funding decision. Beyond semiconductors, the law provides further corporate welfare for the creation of things that many of us tax payers likely support. This law is complicated; let's get nuanced.

Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links

  • Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal
  • Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode)
  • Send Zelle payments to:
  • Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney
  • Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or
  • Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North, Number 4576, Crestview, FL 32536.

Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish

Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

View the show notes on our website at

Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD230: Pacific Deterrence Initiative

CD218: Minerals are the New Oil

CD215: COVID-19 Testimony

CD205: Nuclear Waste Storage

CD187: Combating China

CD186: National Endowment for Democracy

CD128: Crisis in Puerto Rico

Semiconductor Industry

“Pass the CHIPS Act of 2022 Fact Sheet.” July 2022. Semiconductor Industry Association.

“Global Semiconductor Incentives.” February 2022. Semiconductor Industry Association.

“2021 State of the U.S. Semiconductor Industry.” September 2021. Semiconductor Industry Association.


Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Medha Singh. Aug 2, 2022. “Chip stocks slip as Taiwan tensions mount.” Reuters.

Karen M. Sutter. Mar 7, 2022. “U.S.-Taiwan Trade Relations” [IF10256]. Congressional Research Service.

Yimou Lee, Norihiko Shirouzu and David Lague. Dec 27, 2021. “T-DAY: The Battle for Taiwan.” Reuters.

PRISM Program

Derek B. Johnson. Aug 27, 2018. “Court case puts PRISM back in the spotlight.” FCW.

Wealthy Shareholders

Juliana Kaplan and Andy Kiersz. Oct 19, 2021. “The wealthiest Americans now own almost all of the stock market — 89% to be exact.” Insider.

National Endowment for Democracy

“Board of Directors.” National Endowment for Democracy.

National Science Foundation Directorate

Mitch Ambrose. Mar 17, 2022. “NSF Stands Up Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships.” American Institute of Physics.

“Chairwoman Johnson and Ranking Member Lucas Welcome NSF Director Panchanathan’s Announcement of New Directorate Aligned with Bipartisan Committee Proposal.” Mar 17, 2022. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Fusion Research

“Nuclear Fission and Fusion.” Diffen.

“Client Profile: Commonwealth Fusion Systems: Summary.” Open Secrets.

“Client Profile: Commonwealth Fusion Systems: Lobbyists.” Open Secrets.

“Barton Gordon: Partner. K&L Gates.

American Exception Book

Aaron Good. 2022. American Exception: Empire and the Deep State. Skyhorse Publishing.

The Law

H.R. 4346: CHIPS Act of 2022 / Research and Development, Competition, and Innovation Act / Supreme Court Security Funding Act of 2022

GovTrack Overview

Congressional Budget Office: Estimated Budgetary Effects of H.R. 4346

Bills Later Added to the CHIPS Act

S. 3740: Micro Act of 2022

H.R. 4863: Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act

S. 1359: Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act of 2021

Audio Sources

President Biden on Taiwan

Sept 18, 2022
60 Minutes

Scott Pelley: What should Chinese President Xi know about your commitment to Taiwan? President Joe Biden: We agree with what we signed on to a long time ago, that there's a One China policy and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving, we're not encouraging their being independent. That's their decision. Scott Pelley: But would US forces defend the island? President Joe Biden: Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack. Scott Pelley: [overdub] After our interview, a White House official told us US policy has not changed. Officially, the US will not say whether American forces would defend Taiwan. But the Commander in Chief had a view of his own. [interview] So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, US forces, US men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion? President Joe Biden: Yes.

Senator Bernie Sanders’ Senate Session Speech

Jul 27, 2022

Jen’s Highlighted PDF

The Future of U.S. Policy on Taiwan

Dec 8, 2021
Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs

30:45 Sen. James Risch (R-ID): A unilateral change in the status quo regarding Taiwan would not only threaten the security and liberty of 23 million Taiwanese, but also significantly damage vital US interests and alliances in the Indo Pacific. We would lose a model of democracy at a time of creeping authoritarianism. It would give China a platform in the first island chain to dominate the Western Pacific and threaten, indeed, US homeland. The consequences for Japan security, and therefore, the US-Japan alliance, are hard to overstate. Semiconductor supply chains would fall into China's hands, and it would emboldened China in other territorial disputes, including with India, and in the South China Sea.

Fostering a New Era of Fusion Energy Research and Technology Development

November 17, 2021
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Energy

Dr. Troy Carter, Director, Plasma Science and Technology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles and Chair, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee Long Range Planning Subcommittee
Dr. Tammy Ma, Program Element Leader for High Energy Density Science, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Dr. Robert Mumgaard, CEO, Commonwealth Fusion Systems
Dr. Kathryn McCarthy, Director, U.S. ITER Project Office
Dr. Steven Cowley, Director, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory


Robert Mumgaard: However, from where I sit, I see three reasons why I'm very optimistic the US can create a definitive lead in this new industry. First, the growth of the private sector. Over $2.4 billion in private capital has been invested in the fusion companies that now number nearly 30. This is a similar amount of capital as in all the nuclear fission small modular reactor companies. This is coming from a large range of investors across venture capitalists, to university endowments, to large energy companies. And they're putting capital at risk in fusion because they understand that the world needs a fundamentally new source of clean energy if we are going to meet our decarbonization goals. And these companies are highly ambitious, with a recent survey stating that 84% of them believe that fusion will be on the grid in the 2030s or earlier.

Robert Mumgaard: We will proceed with the commercialization of our first fusion pilot plant called ARC. We hope to have that online in the early 2030s.

Robert Mumgaard: The second reason I'm optimistic is that the public program has produced a consensus plan. Detailed in the National Academies and FESAC (Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee) Recommendations is a transition of the public funded program towards the US developing commercial energy. We need to stop some activities and transition to others. But the researchers are enthusiastic and they are ready. We have a new generation of leaders at national laboratories and universities hungry to develop that technology. And that plan has been authorized but has not yet been implemented.

Robert Mumgaard: And we're not alone. The other companies like TAE and General Fusion, Helion, Tokamak Energy, are looking at similar timeframes and experiencing similar growth. All these companies are looking to see which governments are going to be the best partners. And unfortunately, we are already seeing defections, with a major facility that could have been built in the US, instead being built in the UK. It'd be much better if the US public program leveraged the private sector, aligning with the technical goals and timelines to keep it happening here.

Robert Mumgaard: The third reason I'm hopeful is the movement towards public private partnerships and we know that when the public and private sectors work together and recognize what each side is good at, we create vibrant ecosystems. We saw this in commercial space, with NASA and SpaceX. We saw it even more recently with the COVID-19 vaccine

Supply Chain Integrity

October 1, 2020
Senate Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support

Watch on CSPAN

Witness: Ellen M. Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment

1:22:10 Ellen Lord: I believe there may well be a lot of this, frankly: not continuing to engage with these Chinese companies on sensitive issues, but in turn, developing industrial bases here that makes us not reliant on that back and forth. There's quite a bit of discussion within the inner agency right now about constraining Chinese involvement from everything from investments to specific commodities. But again, I think one of the areas where we could have the most impact on China broadly, is reshoring microelectronics. And right now, my team is working very closely across DOD, as well as the inner agency to come up with a very specific recommendation for some public-private partnerships in order to develop the capability here domestically. We at DOD are only about 1% of the overall microelectronics market, however, we have some critical needs.

Attorney General Barr’s Remarks on China Policy at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

July 16, 2020

15:20 Attorney General Bill Barr: “Made in China 2025” is the latest iteration of the PRC’s state-led, mercantilist economic model. For American companies in the global marketplace, free and fair competition with China has long been a fantasy. To tilt the playing field to its advantage, China’s communist government has perfected a wide array of predatory and often unlawful tactics: currency manipulation, tariffs, quotas, state-led strategic investment and acquisitions, theft and forced transfer of intellectual property, state subsidies, dumping, cyberattacks, and industrial espionage.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Sep 23, 2022
CD258: Gain of Function Research

On August 3rd, Senate Republicans held a hearing examining gain of function research: its possible role in creating the COVID-19 pandemic; the problems with oversight of this dangerous research; and recommendations to Congress for how to fix those problems.

Episode Transcript

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Background Sources

Gain-of-function Research

Talha Burki. Feb 1, 2018. “Ban on gain-of-function studies ends.” The Lancet Infectious Diseases 18(2): pp 148-149.

“Framework for Guiding Funding Decisions about Proposed Research Involving Enhanced Potential Pandemic Pathogens.” 2017. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Michael J. Selgelid. Aug 8, 2016. “Gain-of-Function Research: Ethical Analysis.” Science and Engineering Ethics 22(4): pp 923-964.

Sara Reardon. October 22, 2014. “US suspends risky disease research.” Nature 514: pp 411-412.

“Doing Diligence to Assess the Risks and Benefits of Life Sciences Gain-of-Function Research.” Oct 17, 2014. The White House Blog.

Board on Life Sciences; Division on Earth and Life Studies; Committee on Science, Technology, and Law; Policy and Global Affairs; Board on Health Sciences Policy; National Research Council; Institute of Medicine. April 13, 2015. “Potential Risks and Benefits of Gain-of-Function Research: Summary of a Workshop.” National Academies Press.

Marc Lipsitch. Jun 29, 2014. “Anthrax? That’s Not the Real Worry.” The New York Times.

COVID-19 Origin Theories

Gary Ruskin. Sep 14, 2022. “Key articles on origins of Covid-19, gain-of-function research and biolabs.” U.S. Right to Know.

Alina Chan. Jul 30, 2022. “The evidence for a natural vs lab origin of Covid-19.” Medium.

Maria Cheng and Janey Keaten. Jun 9, 2022. “WHO: COVID origins unclear but lab leak theory needs study.” AP News.

“WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO): preliminary report.” Jun 9, 2022. World Health Organization.

Carl Zimmer and James Gorman. Updated Oct 13, 2021. “A Group of Scientists Presses a Case Against the Lab Leak Theory of Covid.” The New York Times.

Richard Muller and Steven Quay. Oct 5, 2021. “Science Closes In on Covid’s Origins.” The Wall Street Journal.

Steven Quay and Richard Muller. Jun 6, 2021. “The Science Suggests a Wuhan Lab Leak.” The Wall Street Journal.

“TWiV 762: SARS-CoV-2 origins with Robert Garry.” May 30, 2021. This Week in Virology [Podcast].

Glenn Kessler. May 25, 2021. “Timeline: How the Wuhan lab-leak theory suddenly became credible.” The Washington Post.

Jorge Casesmeiro Roger. Mar 24, 2021. “An Interview with Richard Ebright: The WHO Investigation Members Were ‘participants in disinformation.’” Independent Science News.

Josh Rogin. Mar 8, 2021. “In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Risky Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab. No One Listened.” Politico.

Jane Qiu. Jun 1, 2020. “How China’s ‘Bat Woman’ Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus.” Scientific American.

EcoHealth Alliance and Funding for Coronavirus Research

Katherine Eban. March 31, 2022. “‘This Shouldn’t Happen’: Inside the Virus-Hunting Nonprofit at the Center of the Lab-Leak Controversy.” Vanity Fair.

Sharon Lerner and Maia Hibbett. Sep, 23 2021. “Leaked Grant Proposal Details High-Risk Coronavirus Research.” The Intercept.

Glenn Kessler. May 18, 2021. “Fact-checking the Paul-Fauci flap over Wuhan lab funding.” The Washington Post.

Meredith Wadman and Jon Cohen. Apr 30, 2020. “NIH's axing of bat coronavirus grant a ‘horrible precedent' and might break rules, critics say.” Science.

National Institutes of Health. May 27, 2014. NIH grant to EcoHealth Alliance for Wuhan research. NIH RePORTER.

NIH Database Data Removal

Amy Dockser Marcus. Jun 23, 2021. “Chinese Covid-19 Gene Data That Could Have Aided Pandemic Research Removed From NIH Database.”

The Hearing

Revisiting Gain of Function Research: What the Pandemic Taught Us and Where Do We Go From Here

August 3, 2022
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight


Richard H. Ebright, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Laboratory Director, Rutgers University Waksman Institute of Microbiology

Steven Quay, CEO and Founder, Atossa Therapeutics, Inc.

Kevin M. Esvelt, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Sep 18, 2022
CD257: PACT Act - Health Care for Poisoned Veterans

After decades of our government denying healthcare to veterans they exposed to poisonous toxins, the PACT Act - which will eventually provide this hard-fought-for care - is now law. In this episode, learn exactly who qualifies for these new benefits and when, discover the shocking but little-known events that led to their poisonings, and find out what exactly happened during those 6 days when Senate Republicans delayed the passage of the PACT Act.

Executive Producer: D. Leonard

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Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

View the shownotes on our website at

Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD249: A Few Good Laws

CD205: Nuclear Waste Storage

CD195: Yemen

CD161: Veterans Choice Program

CD124: The Costs of For-Profit War

CD107: New Laws & Veterans’ Health Care

What the PACT Does and Doesn’t Do

“BREAKING NEWS! Huge Step Forward for Veterans: PACT Act 2022 Adds New Presumptive Conditions for Burn Pit, Agent Orange, and Radiation Exposure.” Aug 10, 2022. VA Claims Insider.

Abraham Mahshie. Aug 10, 2022. “Biden Signs PACT Act to Expand VA Coverage for Toxic Exposure, but Some Are Left Out.” Air Force Magazine.

Leo Shane III. Aug 4, 2022. “Now that PACT Act has passed, how soon will veterans see their benefits?” Military Times.

“The PACT Act and your VA benefits.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VA

Sidath Viranga Panangal, Jared S. Sussma, and Heather M. Salaza. Jun 28, 2022. “Department of Veterans Affairs FY2022 Appropriations” [R46964]. Congressional Research Service.

“VA health care.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Eligibility for VA health care.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Your health care costs.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Toxic Exposures

Burn Pits

“Ten things veterans should know about burn pits.” November 20th, 2014. VAntage Point.

“DoD concedes rise in burn-pit ailments.” Feb 8, 2010. Military Times.

“Operation Desert Shield.” U.S. Army Center of Military History.

“Operation Desert Storm.” U.S. Army Center of Military History.

Agent Orange

Donnie La Curan. April 1, 2021. “Agent Orange Laos Victims Never Acknowledged by U.S.” Veterans Resources.

Charles Dunst. Jul 20, 2019. “The U.S.’s Toxic Agent Orange Legacy.” The Atlantic.

Patricia Kime. May 11, 2020. “Report Claims Vietnam-Era Veterans Were Exposed to Agent Orange on Guam.”

“Clinic Issues Report Confirming Guam Veterans’ Exposure to Dioxin Herbicides Like Agent Orange.” May 11, 2020. Yale Law School.

“Agent Orange - Johnston Island Atoll, AFB.” Vietnam Security Police Association.

Susan E. Davis. Apr 9, 1991. “The Battle Over Johnston Atoll.” The Washington Post.

Enewetak Atoll

Chris Shearer. Dec 28, 2020. “Remembering America's Forgotten Nuclear Cleanup Mission.” Vice.

“The Radiological Cleanup of Enewetak Atoll. March 2018. U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Dave Philipps. Jan 28, 2017. “Troops Who Cleaned Up Radioactive Islands Can’t Get Medical Care.” The New York Times.

Palomares, Spain Nuclear Accident

“New Federal Suit Filed Against VA on Behalf of Veterans Exposed to Radiation at Palomares Nuclear Cleanup.” November 1, 2021. Yale Law School Today.

Dave Philipps. June 19, 2016. “Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident.” The New York Times.

“Palomares Nuclear Weapons Accident: Revised Dose Evaluation Report.” April 2001. United States Air Force.

U.S. Department of Energy. February 1966 “U.S. Position on Minimizing Soil Removal.” U.S. Department of Energy Archives.

Thule, Greenland Nuclear Accident

Robert Mitchell. Jan 21, 2018. “Cataclysmic cargo: The hunt for four missing nuclear bombs after a B-52 crash.” The Washington Post.

MAAS v. U.S. 897 F.Supp. 1098 (1995). United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division.

“Project Crested Ice: The Thule Nuclear Accident Volume 1 [SAC Historical Study 113].” June 1982. History and Research Division, Headquarters, Strategic Air Command.

Captain Robert E. McElwee. “Project Crested Ice: USAF B-52 Accident at Thule, Greenland, 21 January 1968.” U.S. Defense Technical Information Center.

South Carolina Nuclear “Storage”

Doug Pardue. May 21, 2017 (Updated Jun 28, 2021). “Deadly legacy: Savannah River site near Aiken one of the most contaminated places on Earth.” The Post & Courier.

Gulf War Illness

“What is Gulf War Syndrome?” Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“UTSW genetic study confirms sarin nerve gas as cause of Gulf War illness.” May 11, 2022. UT Southwestern Medical Center Newsroom.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

“Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claims | Veteran Owned Law Firm.” The Carlson Law Firm on YouTube.

“Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.” Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

“Summary of the water contamination situation at Camp Lejeune.” Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

“Health effects linked with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride exposure.” Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

“Camp Lejeune Water Contamination History.” Oct 18, 2009. St. Lawrence County Government.

St. Louis Area Nuclear Contamination

Chris Hayes. Jul 27, 2022. “Flooding around nuclear waste renews residents’ fears.” Fox 2 Now - St. Louis.

Jim Salter. Mar 19, 2022. “West Lake Landfill cleanup slowed after more nuclear waste found.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Jesse Bogan. Dec 20, 2021. “Concerns linger as completion date for Coldwater Creek cleanup pushed to 2038.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Evaluation of Community Exposures Related to Coldwater Creek.” Apr 30, 2019. U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Robert Alvarez. February 11, 2016. “West Lake story: An underground fire, radioactive waste, and governmental failure.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

“Westlake Landfill, Bridgeton, MO.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Atomic Homefront.” HBO Documentaries.

Hanford Waste Management Site

“Hanford’s Dirty Secret– and it’s not 56 million gallons of nuclear waste.” Jul 26, 2019. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Biden Drone Bombing

“'Cutting-edge technology used to eliminate Zawahiri.'” Aug 7, 2022. The Express Tribune.

Jon Stewart

People Staff. August 11, 2022. “Jon Stewart Shares His Emotional Reaction to Signing of Veterans Health Bill: 'I'm a Mess'” People.

Republican F*ckery

Ryan Cooper. Aug 3, 2022. “Republicans Just Exposed Their Greatest Weakness.” The American Prospect.

Jordain Carney and Anthony Adragna. August 1, 2022. “Senate GOP backtracks after veterans bill firestorm.” Politico.

“Roll Call 455 | H. J. Res. 114: To Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.” Oct 10, 2022. Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Foreign Wars No One Talks About

Ellen Knickmeyer. Jun, 16 2022. “GAO: US Failed to Track if Arms Used Against Yemen Civilians.”

Joseph R. Biden. June 08, 2022. “Letter to the Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate regarding the War Powers Report.” The White House.

Muhammad Fraser-Rahim. Oct 16, 2017. “The Deaths of Four Elite U.S. Soldiers in Niger Show Why Trump Must Wake Up on Terrorism in Africa.” Newsweek.

Overseas Contingency Operations

Emily M. Morgenstern. Updated August 13, 2021. “Foreign Affairs Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Funding: Background and Current Status” [IF10143 ]. Congressional Research Service.

Todd Harrison. Jan 11, 2017. “The Enduring Dilemma of Overseas Contingency Operations Funding.” Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Law

S. 3373: Honoring our PACT Act

Jen’s Highlighted PDF of S. 3373 - Final Version

Timeline of Votes and Changes

June 16, 2022 Senate Roll Call Vote

July 12, 2022. “Comparative Print: Bill to Bill Differences Comparing the base document BILLS-117hr3967eas.xml with BILLS-117S3373ES-RCP117-56.” U.S. House of Representatives.

July 13, 2022 House Roll Call Vote

July 27, 2022 Senate Roll Call Vote

August 1, 2022. “Amendments Submitted and Proposed.” Congressional Record -- Senate.

Audio Sources

President Biden signs the PACT Act, expanding healthcare for veterans exposed to toxins

August 10, 2022
PBS NewsHour on YouTube

"Justice has been delivered": Biden says top al-Qaeda leader killed in drone strike

August 1, 2022
Global News on YouTube

“Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claims | Veteran Owned Law Firm.”

The Carlson Law Firm on YouTube

Senator Toomey on State of the Union with Jake Tapper

July 31, 2022


7:00 Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): Here's what you need to keep in mind, Jake. First of all, this is the oldest trick in Washington. People take a sympathetic group of Americans — it could be children with an illness, it could be victims of crime, it could be veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals — craft a bill to address their problems, and then sneak in something completely unrelated that they know could never pass on its own and dare Republicans to do anything about it because they know they'll unleash their allies in the media and maybe a pseudo-celebrity to make up false accusations to try to get us to just swallow what shouldn't be there. That's what's happening here, Jake.

10:40 Jake Tapper: So one of the questions that I think people have about what you're claiming is a budgetary gimmick is, the VA budgets will always remain subject to congressional oversight, they can't just spend this money any way they want. And from how I read this legislation, it says that this money has to be spent on health care for veterans who suffered exposure from toxic burned pits. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): This is why they do this sort of thing, Jake, because it gets very deep in the weeds and very confusing for people very quickly. It's not really about veteran spending. It's about what category of government bookkeeping, they put the veterans spending in. My change, the honest people acknowledge it will have no effect on the amount of money or the circumstances under which the money for veterans is being spent. But what I want to do is treat it, for government accounting purposes, the way we've always treated it for government accounting purposes. Because if we change it to the way that the Democrats want, it creates room in future budgets for $400 billion of totally unrelated, extraneous spending on other matters.

Senator Toomey on Face the Nation with John Dickerson

July 31, 2022
CBS News


4:10 John Dickerson: 123 Republicans in the House voted for this, 34 Senate Republicans voted for it. Same bill. This week, the bill didn't change but the Republican votes did. Why? Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): Now, the Republican votes didn't change on the substance of the bill. Republicans have said we want an amendment to change a provision that has nothing to do with veterans health care. The Republicans support this. The Democrats added a provision that has nothing to do with veterans health care, and it's designed to change government accounting rules so that they can have a $400 billion spending spree.

6:25 Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): Honest Democrats evaluating this will tell you: if my amendment passes, not a dime change in spending on veterans programs. What changes is how the government accounts for it. John Dickerson: I understand, but the accounting change, as you know, is a result — the reason they put it in that other bucket is that it doesn't subject it to the normal triage of budgeting. And the argument is that the values at stake here are more important than leaving it to the normal cut and thrust of budgeting.

Jon’s Response To Ted Cruz’s PACT Act Excuses

July 29, 2022
The Problem with Jon Stewart on Youtube


00:20 Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): What the dispute is about is the Democrats played a budgetary trick, which is they took $400 billion in discretionary spending and they shifted it to a mandatory one. Jon Stewart: What Ted Cruz is describing is inaccurate, not true, bulls ** t. This is no trick. Everything in the government is either mandatory or discretionary spending depending on which bucket they feel like putting it in. The whole place is basically a f * ing shell game. And he's pretending that this is some new thing that the Democrats pulled out, stuck into the bill, and snuck it past one Ted Cruz. Now I'm not a big-city Harvard educated lawyer, but I can read. It's always been mandatory spending so that the government can't just cut off their funding at any point. No trick, no gimmick, [it’s] been there the whole f**king time.

1:50 Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): What's the Republicans made clear is, if we leave that spending as discretionary — don't play the budgetary trick — the bill will pass with 80 or 90 votes. Jon Stewart: I don't know how many other ways to say this, but there was no budgetary trick and it was always mandatory. And when they voted in the Senate on June 16, they actually got 84 votes. And you know who voted for that? Ted f*cking Cruz and every other one of those Republicans that switched their votes. There was no reason for them to switch the votes. The bill that passed the Senate 84 to 14 on June 16 has not had one word added to it by Democrats, or spending fairies, or anybody else. It's the same f*cking bill.

‘I Call Bullshit!’ Jon on the PACT Act Being Blocked in the Senate

July 28, 2022
The Problem with John Stewart on YouTube


3:20 Jon Stewart: June 16, they passed the PACT Act 84 to 14. You don't even see those scores in the Senate anymore. They passed it. Every one of these individuals that has been fighting for years, standing on the shoulders of Vietnam veterans who have been fighting for years, standing on the shoulders of Persian Gulf War veterans fighting for years, Desert Storm veterans, to just get the health care and benefits that they earn from their service. And I don't care if they were fighting for our freedom. I don't care if they were fighting for the flag. I don't care if they were fighting because they wanted to get out of a drug treatment center, or it was jail or the army. I don't give a shit. They lived up to their oath. And yesterday, they spit on it in abject cruelty. These people thought they could finally breathe. You think their struggles end because the PACT Act passes? All it means is they don't have to decide between their cancer drugs and their house. Their struggle continues. From the crowd: This bill does a lot more than just give us health care. Jon Stewart: It gives them health care, gives them benefits, lets them live. From the crowd: Keeps veterans from going homeless keeps veterans from become an addict, keeps veterans from committing suicide. Jon Stewart: Senator Toomey is not going to hear that because he won't sit down with this man. Because he is a fucking coward. You hear me? A coward.

5:15 Jon Stewart: Pat Toomey stood up there — Patriot Pat Toomey, excuse me, I'm sorry. I want to give him his propers, I want to make sure that I give him his propers. Patriot Pat Toomey stood on the floor and said “this is a slush fund, they're gonna use $400 billion to spend on whatever they want.” That's nonsense. I call bullshit. This isn't a slush fund. You know, what's a slush fund? The OSO, the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund. $60 billion, $70 billion every year on top of $500 billion, $600 billion, $700 billion of a defense budget. That's a slush fund, unaccountable. No guardrails? Did Pat Toomey stand up and say, this is irresponsible. The guard rails? No, not one of them. Did they vote for it year after year after year? You don't support the troops. You support the war machine.

7:10 Jon Stewart: And now they say, “Well, this will get done. Maybe after we get back from our summer recess, maybe during the lame duck…” because they're on Senate time. Do you understand? You live around here. Senate time is ridiculous. These motherfuckers live to 200 — they’re tortoises. They live forever and they never lose their jobs and they never lose their benefits and they never lose all those things. Well, [sick veterans are] not on Senate time. They're on human time. Cancer time.

8:20 Jon Stewart: I honestly don't even know what to say anymore. But we need your help, because we're not leaving. These people cannot go away. I don't know if you know this, you know, obviously, I'm not a military expert. I didn't serve in the military, but from what I understand, you're not allowed to just leave your post when the mission isn't completed. Apparently you take an oath, you swear an oath, and you can't leave, that these folks can leave because they're on Senate time. Go ahead, go home, spend time with your families, because these people can't do it anymore. So they can't leave until this gets done.

Senator Toomey PACT Act Amendment Floor Speech

July 26, 2022
Senate Session

Representative Mark Takano PACT Act Floor Speech

July 13, 2022
House Session

3:38:20 **Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA): The way this country has dealt with toxic exposure has been piecemeal and inadequate. President Biden recognizes this, too. Shortly after he was sworn in, I met with the President about our shared priorities for veterans. Upon learning of my goal to pass comprehensive legislation to help toxic-exposed veterans, the President leaned over to me and talked about his son, Beau, who served near burn pits in Iraq and Kosovo. It might be hard for most Americans to imagine what a burn pit looks like because they are illegal in the United States. Picture walking next to and breathing fumes from a burning pit the size of a football field. This pit contained everything from household trash, plastics, and human waste to jet fuel and discarded equipment burning day and night. Beau Biden lived near these burn pits and breathed the fumes that emanated from them. President Biden believes that con- stant exposure to these burn pits, and the toxic fumes they emitted, led to Beau’s cancer and early death. It was during that meeting when I knew I had a partner in President Biden.

Atomic Homefront

HBO Documentaries

“This Concrete Dome Holds A Leaking Toxic Timebomb.”

November 27, 2017
Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Foreign Correspondent

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Aug 21, 2022
CD256: Poisonous Pet Collars

Seresto Flea and Tick Collars for dogs and cats have been sold to Americans since 2013. During that time, the EPA has received approximately 100,000 reports of illnesses and 2,500 reports of deaths of animals that wore a Seresto Flea and Tick collar, by far the most reports received about any flea and tick treatment on the market. In this episode, hear testimony from scientists about the Environmental Protection Agency’s disturbingly lax review processes for pesticides in pet products and learn why your vote in November is likely to determine if these popular but dangerous products will stay on American shelves.

Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links

  • Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal
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  • Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney
  • Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or
  • Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North, Number 4576, Crestview, FL 32536.

Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish

Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

Listen to the latest episode of Jen's new podcast with Andrew Heaton and Justin Robert Young — We're Not Wrong Episode 12: About The Never Ending Ukraine War, Biden's COVID and Mike Pence (LIVE FROM BERLIN)

To report an incident directly to the EPA via email

View the shownotes on our website at

Executive Producer Recommended Sources

CD200: How to End Legal Bribes

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith. The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics. Public Affairs: 2011.

Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD254: Baby Formula Shortage

CD234: AWOL Recall: The Rock and Play Sleeper

Reports on Seresto and Pesticides

“Oversight Subcommittee Report Reveals EPA Failed to Protect Pets, Owners From Dangerous Flea and Tick Collar.” Jun 15, 2022. House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. June 2022. “Staff Report: Seresto Flea and Tick Collars: Examining why a product linked to more than 2,500 pet deaths remains on the market.”

Lauretta Joseph. May 19, 2022. “Notification of Evaluation: The EPA’s Response to Reported Incidents of Unintended Effects from Pet Collar Pesticides, Project No. OSRE-FY22-0120”

Johnathan Hettinger. Sept. 24, 2021. “Is your pet wearing a Seresto flea collar? Company reports thousands more adverse incidents.” USA Today.

Jordan Liles. Mar 8, 2021. “Did Seresto Flea Collars Cause 1,698 Dog and Cat Deaths?” Snopes.

Johnathan Hettinger. Mar 2, 2021. “Popular flea collar linked to almost 1,700 pet deaths. The EPA has issued no warning.” USA Today.

Lawrence J. Dyckman et al. July 1995. “Pesticides: EPA’s Efforts to Collect and Take Action on Exposure Incident Data, GAO/RCED-95-163.” U.S. Government Accountability Office.


“Lobbyist Profile: Ryan Canfield.” 2022. Open Secrets.

“Employment History: Ryan Canfield.” Open Secrets.

“Elanco Animal Health.” Open Secrets.

The Hearing

Seresto Flea and Tick Collars: Examining why a product linked to more than 2,500 pet deaths remains on the market

June 15, 2022
Committee on Oversight and Reform, Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy


Faye Hemsley & Omarion Hemsley, Owners of Deceased Pet
Thomas Maiorino, Owner of Deceased Pet
Jeffrey Simmons, President and Chief Executive Officer, Elanco Animal Health Incorporated
Nathan Donley, Ph.D, Environmental Health Science Director, Center for Biological Diversity
Karen McCormack, Former Scientist, Policy Analyst, and Communications Officer (ret.), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency
Carrie Sheffield (minority witness), Senior Policy Analyst, Independent Women’s Voice


1:20 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): As early as 2015, just a few years after the collar entered the US market, an EPA investigation found that among similar products, the Seresto collar “ranked number one” by a wide margin in terms of total incidents, major incidents and deaths, even after factoring in companies’ relative sales. Those findings weren't enough to drive the makers of Seresto collar or the EPA to act.

1:50 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): In 2016, Canada's equivalent of the EPA known as the PMRA, concluded based on a review of the same American data available to the EPA that the collar posed too great a risk to pets and their owners to be ever sold in Canada.

2:10 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Even as the death count rose, the EPA allowed Seresto to remain on the market here without even so much as requiring additional warning labels that regulators mandated in places ranging from Australia to Colombia to the European Union.

2:30 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): The companies that manufactured the Seresto collar first Bayer animal health and then later Elanco were also aware of the risks, the incidents and the deaths, but they too failed to act. Instead, they hired third party industry insiders to conduct so-called independent reviews of the incident data, which ended up protecting their $300 million a year market but ended up endangering pets. So the Seresto collar stayed the same and so did the consequences.

4:15 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): This particular collar has caused 100,000 incidents reported to the EPA and over 2500 pet deaths reported to the EPA.

4:30 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): The steps that we are asking for today are crucial, because it's important to protect our pets and our families, too. I now call upon my distinguished colleague, Mr. Cloud for his opening statement. Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX): Thank you, Chairman. This is the first hearing of the Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee this year, and we've been in session for 52 days this year. And our first hearing is on pet collars. And I do realize that our pets are a huge part of our lives, they enrich our families, they provide companionship for my kids, they've helped foster responsibility and compassion and care, important ethics we need in our society. Just recently, our family mourned the loss of our guinea pig, biscuit. And so pets are a huge part of our family lives. But I have to admit that when I saw that this was going to be on the agenda for this week, I cannot help but be concerned, especially coming from South Texas about the 1000s 10s of 1000s of human lives that have passed away due to fentanyl and due to an open border and due to the policies of this administration to continue to aid and abet cartels. And I realized that this is the economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee. And so I think about economic policy happening right now and where the minds of the American people are. Gas is now averaging $5 A gallon nationwide. For the first time in history. We have not had a hearing. Inflation is at a 40 year high. We have not had a hearing, the American people cannot find baby formula. We still haven't had a hearing. I've mentioned fentanyl is killing Americans, especially our teens at unprecedented rates. We have not had a hearing. Biden's systemic elimination of the safe and secure border he inherited has led to the worst humanitarian and national security crisis in this country's history. We have not had a hearing this term, we could talk about how inflation is affecting the cost of owning a pet, including the increased cost of food, toys, accessories, but we're not talking about that either. Instead, we're holding a hearing on the pet collar, which fights fleas and ticks. And as any pet owner knows fleas and tick management is an essential part of pet care. But I'm not sure it's an essential part of congressional oversight, especially when we take in mind where the American people are at. And frankly, I've talked to a number of people in my district and others who live in other parts of the country and they are really surprised that this has risen to one of the top priorities of commerce at this time in juncture. The subcommittee Republicans would rather explore efforts to help American consumers during these trying times, we would gladly have joined the chairman in holding a hearing on the shortage of baby formula. Moreover, we have welcomed the chance to explore TikTok’s troubling practice of showing dangerous content to minors, an investigation you all started last year. In fact, it's now come to light that teenagers are using tick tock and other social media platforms to purchase illicit drugs including unknowingly in many cases, in most cases, fentanyl. Social media platforms are also using it to recruit young people into the gig economy of human trafficking. A hearing on that crisis could be incredibly important. And on the subject of our nation's youth, CDC bureaucrats have actively pursued an agenda to close schools during the pandemic instead of following the science damaging our children's financial, mental, physical, emotional, and also their learning for years to come. But we still have not had a hearing. Americans are facing incredible economic issues which require us as elected officials to listen and to respond. I do appreciate the fact that our pets play an important part of our lives. We should be kind to animals and we should teach our children to do the same. But I do care immensely more about the human lives that we were elected to serve.

10:20 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): A recorded vote has been requested — we will pause while the we will get the clerk out.

12:00 Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL): Mr. Chairman, it's already been about what? A minute and a half. Where's the clerk? Is the clerk on lunch and not here today? Rep. Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): I think the clerk is on the way Mr. Donalds, thank you. Rep. Donalds: Is the clerk sitting in the side office just hanging out? I mean, come on, Mr. Chairman.

21:20 Clerk: Mr. Cloud? Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX): Yes Clerk: Mr. Cloud votes yes. Mr. Keller? Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA): Yes Clerk: Mr. Keller votes yes. Mr. Franklin? Rep. C. Scott Franklin (R-FL): Yes Clerk: Mr. Franklin votes yes. Mr. Clyde? Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA): Yes. Clerk: Mr. Clyde votes yes. Mr. Donalds? Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL): Yes Clerk: Mr. Donalds votes yes.

26:31 Thomas Maiorino: My name is Thomas Maiorina. I reside in Mount Laurel, New Jersey with my wife Monica. I am the father of three boys. My youngest son, Robert turned 12 in 2011. After years of asking for a dog, he wore us down and we decided to rescue a dog from a southern shelter for my son's birthday. After researching online, we adopted a mixed breed mutt that Robbie and his two other brothers named Rooney. Rooney swiftly became a loved member of our family. A bit rambunctious, she was just what a 12 year old boy needed. She loved the run and chase anything the move in the yard. By all measures, we took great care to ensure Rooney had a healthy and happy life. We took her on daily walks, sometimes three a day, hikes on park trails. We monitor her diet and made sure she was seen by the veterinarian as needed, and she received all of her shots. Because she was a bit rambunctious and we lived in a wooded area where there's a lot of wildlife, we were constantly concerned about the problems of fleas and ticks. We consulted with a veterinarian after getting Rooney to determine the best way to protect her against this. We use a variety of prevention methods for the first few years and when we changed veterinarians in approximately 2013 or 14, the new veterinarian strongly recommended that we use the Seresto flea and tick collar, based on all of our options. We heeded that advice and purchased Seresto collars from our local PetSmart. The collars were intended to provide protection for up to eight months. We noticed that after fixing a collar to Rooney’s neck, she began to itch and first had that treated and tested for allergies. We took her to the vet several times during 2018 seeking to find the cause for the ever increasing itching. After several visits and multielement medications, they were unable to determine the cause and we switched to a specialist in 2019 to seek further assistance, where they provided allergy shots and other medications to address the worsening itching and related symptoms. Rooney's behavior then became more erratic as the months wore on she began linking her paws so feverishly they would bleed. She also developed bleeding patches on her stomach. Ultimately, in October 2020, Rooney suffered horrendous grand mal seizure in the presence of myself and my wife. The damage done by the seizure was irreversible. She was a shell of her former self and ultimately, the family decided the most humane thing would be to put Rooney to sleep at the age of nine. In early March 2021, I read an article online about Seresto pet collars resulting in the deaths of 1700 Pets without any warnings from the EPA or the manufacturer. I sought out legal representation not because I wanted financial compensation, but because I took great pains to care for Rooney. The final 18 months of her life were agonizing to watch if I could help prevent another family from going through what my family went through. I wanted to act. I'm here today in furtherance of that effort. I appreciate the committee taking the time to investigate this matter. And thank you for your time.

33:30 Jeffrey Simmons: There are a few points I'd like to emphasize upfront. First, the EPA approved Seresto following more than 80 safety and toxicity studies, all of which show that Seresto and its ingredients have a strong safety profile. Second, more than 80 regulatory bodies around the world have approved Seresto. Seresto is widely used and more than 80 million collars worn over the past decade to protect dogs and cats from fleas and ticks around the world.

34:00 Jeffrey Simmons: Third, adverse event reports are not intended to be, and in fact are absolutely not, proof of causation. Reports require further investigation and analysis to determine cause. And after years of review, our pharmacovigilance team made up of veterinarians and other experts who study adverse event reports has not identified a single death caused by the active ingredients in the collar.

36:45 Jeffrey Simmons: No product is without risk. What matters is whether those risks are reasonable. And in light of the benefits and numerous studies and the incident report data for Seresto demonstrate the product does not pose an unreasonable risk and has a strong safety profile, which is why the American Veterinary Medical Association opposed canceling Seresto’s EPA registration.

38:05 Nathan Donley: My name is Dr. Nathan Donley. I'm the science director for the Environmental Health Program at the Center for Biological Diversity. I have a PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology from Oregon Health and Sciences University. The last seven years of my professional life have been spent researching how pesticides impact people and the environment and the regulatory failures that can actually facilitate harm rather than prevent it. I published three peer reviewed scientific articles and five technical reports on this subject. I've authored over 100 technical scientific comments to the EPA on pesticide documents, including flumethrin and imidacloprid, the two active ingredients in the Seresto collar. I've read through 1000s of pages of FOIA documents I requested on matters related to the approval and continued use of Seresto.

39:40 Nathan Donley: While other agencies like the FDA have robust systems in place to surveil harms from products under their purview, EPA only requires minimal information be submitted four times a year and they delegate this responsibility to the pesticide industry itself. The limited information that is collected includes only the pesticide product name, where the incident occurred, and the severity of the incident. That's it. Oftentimes, the agency doesn't even know if the incident involves a dog or a cat. Even though the EPA determines what incident information it collects, it then turns around and laments that the incident data are insufficient to take regulatory action to protect public health, the environment and our pets. It's a system designed to achieve nothing other than maintaining the status quo. Worse yet, reported incidents significantly underestimate the true scope of harm. The EPA recently estimated that only one in 25 pesticide incidents involving another pesticide called Kamba was actually reported to the authorities. That's only a 4% reporting rate. Given that 100,000 people have reported their concerns about Seresto, this is very alarming because the true number of harmful incidents to pets could be potentially far higher.

41:05 Nathan Donley: The EPA’s counterpart in Canada was so concerned about Seresto incidents and harms of pets and humans that it denied Seresto approval in 2016. Canada analyzed U incident data and determined that Seresto collars had an incident rate 50 times greater than the average flea collar and 36 times greater than Canada's trigger for review.

41:25 Nathan Donley: EPA has no trigger for review of any pesticide product, no matter how much harm is being reported. And because the agency has no mandated trigger for reviewing pesticides like Seresto, rather than choosing to use incident reporting data to inform a robust regulatory process and take dangerous products off the market, EPA routinely chooses to do nothing at all. And that's especially troubling when you consider that Seresto is just one of 18,000 pesticide products currently approved by the EPA.

42:40 Karen McCormack: My name is Karen McCormack. At the present time I am a retired government employee after working over 40 years at the Environmental Protection Agency. During my career at EPA, I first worked in an EPA laboratory as a research coordinator. And in that capacity, I conducted research on numerous pesticides. Later I transferred to EPA headquarters in Washington DC, and worked in various positions in the pesticide program as a scientist, policy analyst, and a communications officer. I also worked in a number of offices at EPA including the Office of the Assistant Administrator for Pesticides and Toxins. Although I'm retired from EPA, I'm still closely following a number of environmental topics and one of those topics of interest to me has been the impact of flea and tick pet products on cats and dogs.

43:30 Karen McCormack: The US Environmental Protection Agency is charged with regulating products that contain pesticides and in ensuring that all pesticide products are safe to use. Before 1996, EPA did not consistently require manufacturers to conduct animal safety studies for pet products containing pesticides. Because pet products with pesticides were available readily in commercial stores, consumers thought they must be safe. This is not necessarily the case. Flea and tick products are designed to kill insects, and they often contain poisonous chemicals. When combined with pesticides that are used outside the home and in the water and food that people drink and eat, the aggregate risks from all these sources of pesticides can be high, especially for children who are vulnerable to toxic chemicals -- much more vulnerable than adults. And it wasn't until the passage of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act that EPA began to examine the risks from sources other than food, including risks from pet products containing pesticides. After the passage of FQPA, pesticide manufacturers were required to submit to EPA animal safety studies and incident reports showing harm to animals and humans exposed to pesticides and pet products. Between 2012 and the present time the EPA received an increasing number of incident reports related to the use of flea and tick pet collars for dogs and cats. The toxic effects that were described in these many incident reports from the use of certain pet collars ranged from mild effects, such as skin irritation to more severe effects such as intense tremors, seizures, paralysis, organ failure and death. The largest number of incident rate counts that EPA received during this period were from the use of pet collar called Seresto.

45:35 Karen McCormack: Between January 2012 and the present time, EPA has received over 100,000 incident reports, and these incident reports include human incidents as well as pet incidents. These reports also include at least 2300 reports of pet deaths. The number is most likely a very low estimate of the actual number of incidents that are occurring since many pet owners do not know that they can report incidents to EPA and they may not know how to correlate the adverse effects in their pets with a particular pet product.

46:30 Karen McCormack: There are no independent organizations that rank the safety of pet products. And the sales data which is needed to rank the safety of pet products is considered confidential business information by the manufacturers. EPA’s risk assessments also do not tell the full story of what pet products are safe, as they rely heavily on industry generated studies that were conducted on mice and rats rather than dogs and cats. And EPA’s risk assessments also are based mainly on studies that were conducted with only one pesticide in Seresto rather than the combined pesticides in this pet product.

47:10 Karen McCormack: Although the original manufacturers of Seresto, Bayer, did conduct a number of efficacy and safety studies in dogs and cats treated with Seresto, the company did not conduct two very critical studies that are important for determining the safety of a pet product. These tests include a pet transferable residue study, a petting study, to determine the exposure of humans to Seresto. And they did not conduct a study that measures the amount of pesticide that gets in the blood of treated dogs and cats.

48:45 Carrie Sheffield: My name is Carrie Sheffield and I'm a senior policy analyst at the Center for Economic Opportunity at Independent Women's Forum. We are a nonprofit organization committed to increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty.

2:44:20 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): Let me just show you some analysis that was conducted by Elanco, which we would just refer to as well as the EPA, as well as the Canadian equivalent of the EPA, which is called the PMRA. Essentially, we look at this chart here, and we see that at the top Elanco computed that 0.51% of pet deaths were “possibly or probably” caused by the Seresto collar. The PMRA in Canada, looking at a sample of pet deaths concluded that 33% of those pet deaths were possibly or probably caused by Seresto collars. And the EPA here, concluded that 45% were possibly or probably caused by pet by the Seresto collar. Now, sir, I think originally, you said that there is no scientific evidence, no evidence of a causal link, this is clearly evidence, it was so compelling that the Canadian equivalent of the EPA never allowed for Seresto collars to be sold in Canada, correct? Jeffrey Simmons: Yes, I'm aware of that decision. I would also add that 80 other countries have approved this product, we've had over 80 million collars actually used. I'm not familiar with this data comparison, but what I can say is following the EPA regulatory process around the oversight, that we have pharmacovigilance, close to 200 veterinarians and staff on our team, looking at the data through the way the EPA wants us to we have not seen a linkage from the active ingredients. Rep. Krishnamoorthi: I understand that sir, I understand you haven't seen the linkage, although other authorities have and their scientists who are not paid by you have done so.

2:46:25 Nathan Donley: This is what we commonly see, quite frankly, when the regulated industry is doing their own research. It commonly finds that their products are safer than when government agencies or academic scientists take on a similar analysis.

2:46:55 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): We have FOIA documents from the EPA, and emails internal to the EPA talking about the Seresto collar. Here's just one of them. This is from an employee who basically voiced their opinion about recent coverage of the Seresto controversy, he said, “looks like the sh*t has hit the fan….will be interesting seeing where this goes. I hope there is a FOIA for all communications on this so that our emails are made public. We have been screaming about Seresto for many years.” I presume that you've heard some of these screams and concerns, correct, Ms. McCormack? Karen McCormack: That's correct. A number of EPA employees have contacted me and given me detailed descriptions about what's happening with Seresto and they were very upset that EPA refused to do anything about it.

2:48:25 Karen McCormack: A number of the scientists, and this is not unusual, feel that the decision makers are not considering the science and they're making decisions based on political reasons. I don't know if I have time to talk about this, but I did look at the science that the Canadian government did, the causality analysis. They looked at the consistency and toxicity of effects from exposure of pets to Seresto. And what they found was very disturbing. It was so disturbing that they decided the risks were too high to approve Seresto and they could not be mitigated by putting a label statement on the product or by issuing warning labels, so they refused to approve Seresto.

2:49:25 Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX): Thank you, Ms. McCormack, for acknowledging that the EPA sometimes makes political decisions, so that's something we'll definitely be coming back to next term.

2:55:05 Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): Are the active ingredients for Seresto in the United States different from the active ingredients for Seresto collars in other countries? Jeffrey Simmons: No, I do not believe they're any different than the other 80 countries. Rep. Porter: In other countries like in Colombia and Australia, the warning labels for Seresto collars classify the collar as highly toxic and as poison.

2:55:50 Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): Does the label in the United States have language? Like highly toxic or poison? Yes or no? Jeffrey Simmons: It does not. Rep. Porter: Okay. So the warning label here in the United States, though does say that mild reactions may occur and mentions hair loss, scratching and redness. The most severe symptoms listed are eczema and lesions. This is the warning label: does it mention the potential for death? Jeffrey Simmons: It does not. Rep. Porter: So a pet owner looking at this label that we're looking at would have absolutely no reason, no way to know that Seresto may have caused roughly 100 pet deaths. That's what both the Canadian Pest Management Agency, the PMRA, and the EPA found. Will you change this label, so that it includes deaths as a possible side effect? Jeffrey Simmons: Congresswoman, we do not believe the scientific data warrants a label change. And again, that is not just the 80 studies were submitted. There's been 20 additional added studies since and all of the oversight data that's been done on the 33 million pets over the 10 years. So again, following an EPA regulated process, we're always open if a data warranted, some need for a change, we would do that.

2:57:30 Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): The EPA encouraged both your predecessor, Bayer, and your company, Elanco, to update the warning label. Yet, you just said that you never have. So the federal government did in fact advise you to update the label and you failed to do so. Is that correct? Jeffrey Simmons: I do not believe that is correct. We are in regular engagement with EPA. We have not received any formal…there's no data that warrants that and there's been no formal engagement on that.

2:58:15 Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): The EPA asked Bayer, the predecessor here, in 2019 to help the agency collect data on adverse incidents for cats and dogs using the Seresto collar. EPA asked Bayer to split the registration for cats and dogs, so the agency could better understand and evaluate the risks for each type of pet. They refused, saying that change might have, “an adverse impact on sales” and they also said, “it would be a substantial increase in work.” Mr. Simmons, are you willing to make that change and split the registration for cats and dogs as the EPA requested? Or do you believe it's too much work? Jeffrey Simmons: I am willing to engage with the EPA on anything that the scientific data and the engagement under the regulatory body of the EPA merits the right thing to do. We believe the 80 studies and all of the pharmacovigilance data that we've submitted to them stands that this is a safe product.

3:00:10 Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA): I feel obligated to begin by stating the obvious this afternoon. Today's hearing is a colossal waste of time and resources.

3:13:25 Rep. Henry Johnson (D-GA): And the only reason that the public knew about the harm caused by this pesticide is because the Center for Biological Diversity publicly petitioned the EPA to cancel registration for Seresto flea collars. If they had not bought this to light, do you think we would even know of the dangers presented by these collars? Nathan Donley: No, we wouldn't. You know, the investigation that came out in USA Today in 2021 really brought this to the public attention. And if there wasn't that amount of pressure from the public, this would just still be completely unknown. EPA, for the last 10 years, has not done anything to alert consumers to the harms associated with this product or any other pesticide products where there are a very high number of incidents.

3:15:10 Karen McCormack: I think some of the people at EPA are programmed to go along with whatever industry says. It makes life easier for you, you can go home earlier and you can also get promoted easier if you go along with what industry says. It's unfortunate a problem there. And I've seen it over the years and it's very hard to do something about it.

3:15:40 Karen McCormack: Canada's analysis was very scientific. It was not only based on incident data and sales data, it was based on the toxicity of the two pesticides in Seresto. And they looked at the consistency and what happened eventually with the pets that were exposed to Seresto.

3:19:20 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL): And so because of the tremendous number of pet incidents, the tremendous number of deaths, even when factoring in sales, I sadly have no choice but to recommend that the EPA commence a notice of intent to cancel proceedings and to fully investigate what's going on with the Seresto collar, and I respectfully request Elanco to voluntarily recall these collars at this time, pending this further investigation.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Jul 30, 2022
CD255: Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs)

The recently signed gun law, S. 2938: Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, contained a surprise dingleberry postponing a regulation designed to save seniors money on their pharmaceutical drugs by prohibiting kickbacks to an industry few have heard of: Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). This little-known but extremely powerful industry deserves much of the blame for ever rising prescription drugs costs in the United States. In this episode, Jen gives you the scoop on PBMs and how they make their money at the expense of Americans who are most dependent on medications.

Executive Producer: Robyn Thirkill

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We’re Not Wrong Berlin Meetup

Contact Justin at

Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD134: The EpiPen Hearing

US Healthcare Landscape

Jessi Jezewska Stevens. Apr 23, 2020. “A Brief History of the Great American Healthcare Scam.” Bookforum.

Tanza Loudenback. Mar 7, 2019. “The average cost of healthcare in 21 different countries.” Insider.

Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden. 2019. “Insulin: Examining the Factors Driving the Rising Cost of a Century Old Drug [Staff Report].” U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

“Health Insurance Coverage of the Total Population.” Kaiser Family Foundation.

Sara R. Collins and David C. Radley. Dec 7, 2018. “The Cost of Employer Insurance Is a Growing Burden for Middle-Income Families.” The Commonwealth Fund.


What are PBMs?

JC Scott. Jun 30, 2022. “Drug manufacturers are root cause of high drug costs; PBMs drive costs down.” The Hill.

Zach Freed. Jun 22, 2022. “The Pharmacy Benefit Mafia: The Secret Health Care Monopolies Jacking Up Drug Prices and Abusing Patients and Pharmacists.” American Economic Liberties Project.

Adam J. Fein. Jun 22, 2021. “The Top Pharmacy Benefit Managers of 2020: Vertical Integration Drives Consolidation (rerun).” Drug Channels.

“Flash finding: How drug money from sick people really works.” Nov 11, 2021. 46brooklyn.

Adam J. Fein. Feb 3, 2019. “Don’t Blame Drug Prices on ‘Big Pharma.’” The Wall Street Journal.

How PBMs Make Money

“DIR Fees.” National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

“How PBMs Make Money: PBM Practices & Profits.” RxSafe.

True North Political Solutions. Oct 25, 2017. “White Paper: DIR Fees Simply Explained.” Pharmacy Times.

ACA “Vertical Integration” Loophole

Peter High. Jul 8, 2019. “A View From Inside Cigna's $67 Billion Acquisition Of Express Scripts.” Forbes.

Angelica LaVito. Nov 28, 2018. “CVS creates new health-care giant as $69 billion merger with Aetna officially closes.” CNBC.

David Dayen. Oct 12, 2018. “Why the Aetna and CVS Merger Is So Dangerous.” The American Prospect.

Jeff Byers. April 12, 2018. “Optum a step ahead in vertical integration frenzy.” Healthcare Dive. Graph: Optum opens up wider market for UnitedHealth Group Graph: Optum's pharmacy business contributes the majority of its revenue

Susan Morse. May 10, 2017. “Secret weapon: UnitedHealth's Optum business is laying waste to old notions about how payers make money.” Healthcare Finance.


“Client Profile: Pharmaceutical Care Management Assn.” Open Secrets.

The Demise of Independent Pharmacies

Christine Blank. Oct 17, 2019. “Independents Prepare to Close Up Shop.” Drug Topics.

Paulina Firozi. Aug 23, 2018. “The Health 202: Here's why rural independent pharmacies are closing their doors.” The Washington Post.

What Is a Formulary?

Ana Gascon Ivey. May 19, 2020. “A Guide to Medication Formularies.” GoodRx.

Previous Delays in Rebate Regulation

Paige Minemyer. Jan 29, 2021. “In a win for PBMs, Biden administration delays rebate rule.” Fierce Healthcare.

Paige Minemyer. Jan 12, 2021. “PCMA sues Trump administration over rebate rule.” Fierce Healthcare.

“Incorporating the Effects of the Proposed Rule on Safe Harbors for Pharmaceutical Rebates in CBO’s Budget Projections—Supplemental Material for Updated Budget Projections: 2019 to 2029.” May 2019. Congressional Budget Office.

The Gun Law

Passage Process

Office of the Clerk. May 18, 2022. “Roll Call 212 | Bill Number: S. 2938.” U.S. House of Representatives.

Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board. May 12, 2022. “Republican lawmakers should be ashamed for failing to honor Justice Joseph Hatchett.” Miami Herald.

Annie Karni. Apr 12, 2022. “House G.O.P., Banding Together, Kills Bid to Honor Pioneering Black Judge.” The New York Times.

Background on Most Important Provisions

Mary Katherine Wildeman. May 26, 2022. “Data show most school shootings carried out by young adults, teens.” CT Insider.

Jeffrey Pierre. May 26, 2022. “Experts say we can prevent school shootings. Here's what the research says.” NPR.

The Dingleberry

Erik Sherman. Jun 30, 2022. “Gun Safety Bill Extends Drug Middlemen Protection From Anti-Kickback Measure.” Forbes.

Molly Rutherford. Jun 28, 2022. “Gun legislation provision puts drug supply chain profits over patients.” The Hill.

Marty Schladen. Jun 22, 2022. “Deep inside the gun bill: a break for prescription drug middlemen.” Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Poland Train Station

Taylor Popielarz, Maureen McManus and Justin Tasolides. Mar 25, 2022. “‘The help given is remarkable’: Inside the Poland train station that’s become a hub for Ukrainian refugees.” Spectrum News NY1.

The Law and the Regulation

S. 2938: Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

Senate Vote: 65-33 (All Nos GOP)

House Vote: 234-193 (All Nos GOP)

Jen’s Highlighted PDF of S. 2938: Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

Fraud and Abuse; Removal of Safe Harbor Protection for Rebates Involving Prescription Pharmaceuticals and Creation of New Safe Harbor Protection for Certain Point-of-Sale Reductions in Price on Prescription Pharmaceuticals and Certain Pharmacy Benefit Manager Service Fees

U.S. Health and Human Services Department
November 30, 2020

Audio Sources

The State of Competition in the Pharmacy Benefits Manager and Pharmacy Marketplaces

November 17, 2015
House Committee on the Judiciary


Bradley J. Arthur, R.Ph., Owner, Black Rock Pharmacy

David Balto, Law Offices of David A. Balto PLLC

Amy Bricker, R.Ph. Vice President of Retail Contracting & Strategy, Express Scripts

Natalie A. Pons, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, CVS Health


  • 53:48 Bradley Arthur: The Big Three PBMs control almost 80% of the entire market and these PBMs have the upper hand both in negotiating the contract with the payer, as well as strongly influencing the actual plan design itself. The PBM industry typically states that they can use their economic power to harness enhanced market efficiencies, but for whom? However, the staggering annual revenues that continue to grow each year of the big three suggests that these efficiencies are going directly to their corporations’ bottom lines. Small community pharmacies like mine are faced on a daily basis with the impact of the PBMs’ disproportionate market power. Community pharmacies routinely must agree to take-it-or-leave-it contracts from the PBMs just to continue to serve our long-standing patients. As if that weren't enough, the PBMs also directly set the reimbursement rates for pharmacies, the very same pharmacies that stand in direct competition of some of these PBM-owned mail-order and specialty pharmacies. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the PBMs present employer and government payers with carefully tailored suggested plans designs that steer beneficiaries to these PBM-owned entities.

Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part I

January 29, 2019
Senate Committee on Finance


Kathy Sego, Mother of a Child with Insulin-Dependent Diabetes

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Ph.D., President, American Action Forum

Mark E. Miller, Ph.D., Vice President of Health Care, Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Peter B. Bach, MD, MAPP, Director, Memorial Sloan Kettering Center for Health Policy and Outcomes


1:57:30 Sen. John Cornyn (R - TX): Can anybody on the panel explain to me why we have a general prohibition against kickbacks — they call them rebates — under the Social Security Act, but we nevertheless allow it for prescription drug pricing? What's the sound public policy reason for excluding prescription drug pricing from the anti-kickback rule under federal law? Douglas Holtz-Eakin: I can't explain that and won’t pretend to. [laughter] Sen. Cornyn: I thought I was the only one who didn't understand the wisdom of that. Well, it's not a transparent arrangement and it does produce upward pressure on drug prices. And obviously, the negotiations between the PBM and the pharma in terms of what the net cost is, is not transparent, nor is it delivered to the consumer. Is it Dr. Miller? Dr. Bach? Peter Bach: It's delivered to the consumer indirectly through the reduction of the total cost of the benefit, but it is not delivered to the actual consumer using the drug, and that is a disassociation, that is a problem. Because it essentially reverses the structure of insurance. Lowering the total costs are people who use it the least, and raising the costs are people who use it the most, relative to if you allowed the rebate to be used at the point of sale, including all discounts.

1:59:49 Douglas Holtz-Eakin: If we had the negotiation be about the upfront price, so instead of a high list price and a rebate, you just negotiate a lower price, that would be the price that Ms. Sego would pay and insurance companies would look at that and say, okay, she's not paying as much as she used to, we're going to have to make up that money somewhere else and they might raise premiums. That means that people who don't have extreme insulin drug costs would pay a little bit more in a premium every month, and people who have extremely devastating medical conditions and high health care costs would get less costs. That's exactly what insurance is supposed to do. And so the rebate system is more than giving strange incentives on pricing. It's undercutting the purpose of insurance in general.

Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part II

February 26, 2019
Senate Committee on Finance


Richard A. Gonzalez, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AbbVie Inc.

Pascal Soriot, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca

Giovanni Caforio, M.D., Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

Jennifer Taubert, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Chairman, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson

Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Merck & Co., Inc.

Albert Bourla, DVM, Ph.D., Chief Executive Office, Pfizer

Olivier Brandicourt, M.D., Former Chief Executive Officer, Sanofi


1:22:03 Albert Bourla: Adverse incentives that favor higher cost biologics are keeping biosimilars from reaching patients. In many cases, insurance companies declined to include lower cost biosimilars in their formularies because they would risk losing the rebates from covering higher cost medicines. I can't think of a more concerning example of a broken system and we need to do something about it.

1:33:35 Sen. Chuck Grassley (R - IA): So many of you have voiced support for the recent rebate rule proposed by the administration. Should the administration finalized this rule, will you commit to lowering your drug prices?

Richard Gonzalez [CEO, AbbVie]: Mr. Chairman, we are supportive of the rule. We'd like to see it in its final form, obviously, to make a final decision, but we are supportive of taking the discount to the patient at the point of sale. Sen Grassley: Okay. AstraZeneca? **Pascal Soriot [CEO, AstraZeneca]**The same for us Senator, I would go one step further: if the rebates were removed from the commercial sector as well, we will definitely reduce our list prices. Sen Grassley: Okay. And Bristol? Giovanni Caforio [CEO, Bristol-Myers Squibb]: We have the same positions. Sen Grassley: Okay. Johnson and Johnson? Jennifer Taubert [EVP, J&J]: Yes, we're supportive, and that definitely would be my goal. We would just need to see the final legislation, provided that there aren't additional fees that are added into the system to compensate for the rebates. Sen Grassley: Merck? **Kenneth C. Frazier: I would expect that our prices would go down if we change the system. Again, on the commercial side as well as the Medicare side. Sen Grassley: Okay, Pfizer? Albert Bourla [CEO, Pfizer]: It is a very clear intention that we will not keep a single dollar from these rebates. We will try to move every single penny to the patients and we think if this goes also to the commercial plants that will be even better for more patients. Sen Grassley: Okay. Sanofi? Olivier Brandicourt [Former CEO, Sanofi]: Lowering list price has to be linked to better access and affordability at the counter for the patients.

1:35:20 Sen. Ron Wyden (D - OR): Is it correct that your company, and nobody else, sets the starting price for all drugs sold by Pfizer? Yes or no? Albert Bourla: It is a negotiation with PBMs and they are very powerful. Sen. Wyden: But you still get to set the list price? Albert Bourla: Yes, but we set this price and the rebate limit(?).

1:35:40 Sen. Ron Wyden (D - OR): Is it correct, when a hypothetical patient, let's call her Mrs. Jones, goes to pay for her drug at the pharmacy counter, her coinsurance is based on the price of the drug you set? Albert Bourla: It is correct in many cases. Sen. Wyden: Okay. I just want you all to know that the number one reason consumers are getting hammered, is because these list prices, which you have the last word with respect to where they are, are unaffordable. And the high prices are tied to what the consumer pays at the pharmacy counter. And all this other stuff you talk about, the rebates and the discounts and the coupons, all this other stuff is window dressing, all of that. And the fact is on Part D, 40% of the drugs don't even have a rebate. So I want it understood, particularly because I've asked you, Mr. Borla, I think you and others in the industry are stonewalling on the key issue, which is actually lowering list prices. And reducing those list prices are the easiest way for American consumers to pay less at the pharmacy counter.

2:12:45 Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE): First is eliminating rebates to PBMs. That's the first one, eliminating rebates to PBMs. The second is value based arrangements. And the third is increasing transparency industry-wide on how you set your prices.

2:13:20 Richard Gonzalez: We clearly support providing the discount at the patient level, eliminating rebates essentially.

2:14:10 Pascal Soriot: If the rebates, as I said earlier, were to be removed from Part D and the commercial sector, we would actually reduce our list prices.

2:15:10 Giovanni Caforio: I would say that not only do we support all three elements that you mentioned, but I do believe those three elements together with the continued effort to develop a generic and biosimilar market would mean significant change, and would clearly alleviate the concerns that patients have today.

2:14:44 Jennifer Taubert: We are very supportive of all three elements that you outlined

2:15:52 Kenneth Frazier: We too support all three.

2:15:55 Albert Bourla: All three elements are transformational for our industry, will disrupt it. However, we do agree that these are the three things that need to be done and also I believe that will have significant meaningful results if we do.

2:16:10 Olivier Brandicourt: We support the three Senator, but we want to keep in mind at the end of the chain the patient has to benefit, so if rebates are removed it has to be to the benefit of patients. Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE): Good, thanks.

2:18:10 Albert Bourla: 50% of the American people are in commercial plans and these rebate rules apply to Medicare. If the rules apply to all, definitely the list price will go down. 2:18:30 Albert Bourla: The list price is not irrelevant, it's very relevant for a lot of people because they have to pay list price during the deductible period. However if the rebate rule is applied, then they become irrelevant because the patients will not be paying the list price at the purchase point.

2:19:10 Sen. John Thune (R-SD): How would manufacturers respond if the rebate rule were finalized for government programs? I mean, what does that what does that mean for the commercial market? Albert Bourla: Senator, as I said before, all these proposals that they're discussing, [undistinguishable], eliminating the rebate rule, are transformational and will disrupt the way we do business. I don't know exactly how the system will evolve, and I really don't favor a bifurcated system. I would like to have a transparent single system across both parts. So we need to see how the whole thing will evolve.

2:25:26 Johnny Isakson (R-GA): Who sets the discount and who sets the rebate?

2:26:20 Richard Gonzalez: We negotiate with payers, so managed care and PBMs— Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA): You’re a supplier though, so you have to go negotiate with the PBMs and those people, is that right? Richard Gonzalez: Correct, and they negotiate aggressively. Sen. Isakson: Is that pretty much true with everybody, that they're the major component between the end retail consumer price and the origin of the product? Richard Gonzalez: Yes, Senator. Sen. Isakson: Well, that seems like that's someplace we ought to focus, because that's where the distorted numbers come in. Johnson & Johnson, Janssen, in your testimony, you talked about your average list price of 8.1%, up, but an average net price change of only 4.6%. So while your gross went up 8.6, your net went down 4.6 In the same pricing period. How does that happen? If you're setting the price, how does it not go up on the bottom? Jennifer Taubert: Yeah, and in fact, in 2018, our net price actually declined 8.6%, so even more than that. The intermediaries in the system are very, very effective negotiators— Sen. Isakson: Tell me who the intermediaries are. Jennifer Taubert: Those would be the PBMs and the insurers. Sen. Isakson: …and the insurance companies? Jennifer Taubert: Right, and they set the formularies for patients. Sen. Isakson: And they're not the same. They're two different people? Jennifer Taubert: Yes, correct.

2:40:45 James Lankford (R-OK): All of you have mentioned the rebate issue has been a problem and that insurance companies and PBMs are very effective negotiators. Part of the challenge of this is, health insurance companies pay their PBM based on the quality of their negotiation skills, cutting a price off the list price. And so if a list price is higher and a rebate is higher, that also gives preference to them. So the difficulty is, as you raise list price, and the rebate gets larger, the insurance company gives that preference, making it harder for biosimilars. Am I tracking this correctly?

2:43:00 Albert Bourla: Here in the US, the penetration of biosimilars is much lower than in other places, but it is disproportional to different parts of the US healthcare system. For example, in open systems, systems where the decision maker it is a PBM, the one biosimilar we have has a market share of 5% in the US. In closed systems, in systems like Kaiser, for example, integrated healthcare systems where the one who decides has the whole cost of the healthcare system in its interest, we have 73%. 5% and 73% for the same product. I agree with what Mr. Fraser said that we need to create incentives, but I would add also that we need to break this rebate trap that creates significant disincentives for providers, and the healthcare system, and insurance companies.

3:19:25 Kenneth Frazier: If you went back a few years ago, when we negotiated to get our drugs on formulary, our goal was to have the lowest copay by patients. Today the goal is to pay into the supply chain the biggest rebate, and so that actually puts the patient at a disadvantage since they're the only ones that are paying a portion of the list price. The list price is actually working against the patient.

3:19:50 Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT): Why do we have a system today? Where you all are setting, I'll just say very, very high list prices, which is the starting point for negotiation. Why? Olivier Brandicourt: Senator, we're trying to get formulary position. With those list prices. High list price, high rebates. It's a preferred position. Unfortunately the preferred position doesn't automatically ensure affordability at the end. Kenneth C. Frazier: Senator, If you bring a product to the market with a low list price in this system, you get punished financially and you get no uptake because everyone in the supply chain makes money as a result of a higher list price.

Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part III

April 9, 2019
Senate Committee on Finance


Steve Miller, MD, Former Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, Cigna Corporation

Derica Rice, Former Executive Vice President and President, CVS Health and CVS Caremark

William Fleming, Pharm.D., Segment President, Healthcare Services, Humana Inc.

John Prince, Chief Executive Officer, OptumRx

Mike Kolar, JD, Interim President & CEO, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Prime Therapeutics LLC


Sen. Ron Wyden (D - OR): Pharmaceutical Benefit Managers first showed up decades ago, back when prescription drugs were being utilized more extensively. The PBMs told the insurance companies, “we're the ones who know drug pricing, we will handle the negotiations for you.” But there is little evidence that the pharmaceutical benefit managers have actually held down the prices in a meaningful way. In fact, most of the evidence shows just the opposite. Pharmaceutical Benefit Managers actually make more money when they pick a higher price drug over a lower price drug. Colleagues, let's remember that all the way through this discussion, benefit managers make more money when they pick a higher price drug over a lower price drug. The logic on this isn't exactly complicated, graduate-level economics. PBM profits are based on taking their slice of the prescription-drug pie. More expensive drugs means there's a bigger pie. When there's a bigger pie, [there are] bigger slices for the pharmaceutical benefit managers.

50:24 Mike Kolar: Rebates and the role they play have been key areas of focus in the drug cost debate. In our view, rebates are a powerful tool to offset high prices, which are set by pharmaceutical companies, and pharmaceutical companies alone. The fact that rebates are not offered on many of the highest cost drugs, and that studies show no correlation between prices and rebates underscore that rebates are a key to mitigating rather than causing high drug prices. We pass rebates through fully to our plans, and we believe our plans should be able to choose how to apply these rebates in ways that best serve their members and market needs by balancing premiums and cost sharing.

56:05 Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): I'd like to talk about consolidation, including the recent integration of PBMs with insurance companies. Last year I wrote to the Justice Department on the issues, it reported that the three largest PBMs who are before us today now covers 71% of Medicaid, Medicare Part D enrollees and 86% of standalone Drug Plan enrollees.

57:45 Derica Rice: This is a highly competitive space. In addition to the three that you've pointed out here, CMS has noted there are over 60 PBMs across the US. Therefore, the competition, there's many options for the employers that are out there, government entities, as well as unions to choose from given their specific needs.

1:10:35 Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI): So when we look at Express Scripts has 100 million Americans covered, CVS 90 million, OptumRx 65 million, Prime Therapeutics 27 million, Humana 21 million, and yet Americans still pay the highest prices in the world. Even though you are negotiating for millions of people. The VA has its own pharmacy benefit manager service, they negotiate for 9 million veterans, and they pay, on average, 40% less for the same drugs that the rest of the healthcare system pays for. Despite greater volume, you are unable to secure these kinds of low prices. With all due respect, you guys are pretty bad negotiators. Given the fact that the VA can get 40% less. And so I'd like to know from each of you why that's the case. Dr. Miller? Steve Miller [Former EVP and Chief Clinical Officer, Cigna Corporation]: Yes. Part of the equation is giving patients choice. At the VA, they actually limit their formulary more than any of us at this table do. So oftentimes, they'll have one beta blocker, one ace inhibitor. And so if it's going to get to that level of choice, then we could get better prices also. Sen. Stabenow: Let me jump in, in the interest of time. I know you create nationwide drug formularies, you have pre-authorization, you give preferred status to certain medications. So you don't use any of those tools that the VA is using? Because you do. Steve Miller: We definitely use those tools, but we also give people choice. It's crucial for both physicians and patients to have the choice of the products they want to be able to access. Many of our plans want us to have broad formularies and when you have more products, it means you move less market share. Sen. Stabenow: So basically you’re saying a 40% premium gives them more choice.

1:24:30 Sherrod Brown (D-OH): If the administration's rebate rule were finalized as proposed, would you in some way be required to change the way you do business? Mike Kolar: Yes, Senator we would. John Prince: Yes. William Fleming: Yes. Derica Rice: Yes. Steve Miller: Yes. Sen. Brown: Thank you.

1:25:05 Sherrod Brown (D-OH): What percentage of prescriptions that you fill across Part D actually receive a rebate? Roughly what percentage? Mike Kolar: So Senator, approximately 8% of the prescriptions that we cover in Part D are associated with a rebate. Sen. Brown: Okay, Mr. Prince? John Prince: Senator, I don’t know the exact number, I know our overall business is about 7%. Sen. Brown: Okay, thank you. William Fleming: About 7-8%. Derica Rice: Senator, I do not know the exact number but we pass through 100% of all rebates and discounts. Sen. Brown: [Grunt] Steve Miller: 90% of the prescriptions will be generic. Of the 10% that are branded, about two-thirds have rebates. So it's about seven-- Sen. Brown: 7-8% like the others. Okay. To recap, PBMs do not set drug prices. Forcing you to change the way you do business -- as the administration's rule would — will not change that fact. And while the rule might impact a small percentage of drugs and Part D that receive a rebate, it does nothing to lower costs, as your answer suggests, for the other 90% of prescriptions you fill. Most importantly, absolutely nothing in the proposed rule would require Secretary Azar’s former employer or any other pharma company to lower the price of insulin or any other drug. It's important to establish that, so thank you for that.

1:41:40 Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV): Let me ask you, Dr. Fleming, in your testimony, you say Humana’s analysis of the rebate rule -- and we're talking about the administration's rebate rule now — found that approximately 17% of beneficiaries will see savings at the pharmacy counter as a result of this rule. Can you tell me a little bit more about who these people are? And what kind of conditions do they have? William Fleming: Senator, there will be a number of members who are taking brand drugs for which we get rebates and so it could vary all the way from the common chronic conditions, things like diabetes or hypertension or high cholesterol, all the way over to occasionally, not usually, but occasionally on the specialty drug side. When you think of some medications like treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, places where there's competition.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Jul 17, 2022
CD254: Baby Formula Shortage

After multiple formula-related infant deaths were reported to the FDA in February, samples from Abbott Laboratories' Sturgis, Michigan baby formula production facility tested positive for cronobacter, triggering a recall and a subsequent formula shortage. In this episode, Jen uncovers monopoly and neglect in the baby formula production industry, lack of oversight by the FDA, and the United States' refusal to adopt the World Health Organization's International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes.

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD234: AWOL Recall: The Rock and Play Sleeper

The Formula Shortage

Abbott. Jun 15, 2022. “Update on Abbott’s Sturgis Plant and Formula Production.”

“Testimony of Robert M. Califf, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, before the Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, Infant Formula Crisis: Addressing the Shortages and Getting Formula on Shelves.” May 26, 2022. U.S. Senate.

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. May 18, 2022. “Guidance for Industry: Infant Formula Enforcement Discretion Policy” [FDA–2022–D–0814]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Annie Gasparro and Jaewon Kang. May 12, 2022. “Baby Formula Shortage Could Leave Parents Scrambling for Months.” The Wall Street Journal.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Feb 2022. “FDA Investigation of Cronobacter Infections: Powdered Infant Formula.”

Baby Formula Monopoly

Matt Stoller. May 13, 2022. “Big Bottle: The Baby Formula Nightmare.” BIG by Matt Stoler on Substack.

Sam Knight. Apr 23, 2022. “Company Responsible for Tainted Baby Formula Has Monopoly Over Aid Program Sales.” Truthout.

FDA Failure

Letter from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf. March 24, 2022. U.S. House of Representatives.

Poisoned Baby Food

House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Staff. Feb 4, 2021. “Report: Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury.”

Operation Fly Formula

Brenda Goodman and Deidre McPhillips. Jun 10, 2022. “How far will Operation Fly Formula shipments really go to fill America's store shelves?” CNN.

The White House. May 22, 2022. “Biden Administration Announces Second Operation Fly Formula Flight.” White House Briefing Room: Statements and Releases.

60 minutes Segment

Bill Whitaker. May 22, 2022. “Medical Middlemen: Broken system making it harder for hospitals and patients to get some life-saving drugs.” 60 Minutes.

The WHO Code and Formula Marketing

The World Health Organization. Apr 28, 2022. “Scope and impact of digital marketing strategies for promoting breastmilk substitutes.”

The World Health Organization. Apr 28, 2022. “WHO reveals shocking extent of exploitative formula milk marketing.”

The World Health Organization. #EndExploitativeMarketing Petition.

La Leche League International. “International WHO Code.”

Bonnie Goldstein. Jul 13, 2018. Paper Cuts: No Match for Mother’s Milk. Project on Government Oversight.

Baby-Friendly USA website.

The World Health Organization. Jan 27, 1981. “International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes.”

Fisher-Price Update

Katie Porter [@RepKatiePorter]. Jun 15, 2022. “Following yesterday's news of previously unreported infant deaths in Fisher-Price products, I'm calling on the company to immediately recall all…” Twitter.


H.R.7791: Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022

Jen’s Highlighted PDF of Public Law 117–129

H.R.3182: Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2021

Audio Sources


May 26, 2022
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

The committee concluded a hearing to examine the infant formula crisis, focusing on addressing the shortage and getting formula on shelves.


Robert M. Califf, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Food and Drug Administration


37:26 Dr. Robert Califf: Frankly, the inspection results were shocking. Standing water, cracks in key equipment that presented the potential for bacterial contamination to persist, particularly in the presence of moisture, leaks in the roof, a previous citation of inadequate hand washing and current poor foot sanitation, bacteria growing from multiple sides, and many signs of a disappointing lack of attention to the culture of safety in this product that is so essential to the lives of our most precious people.

38:14 Dr. Robert Califf: As soon as we receive positive cronobacter results from environmental samples at the facility that we collected during the inspection, we contacted Abbott to ask the company to issue a voluntary recall. The need to take urgent action to protect the most vulnerable of all of our people -- infants -- presented a dilemma. This was the largest plant of the dominant manufacturer, and it was the sole source of a number of metabolic formulas essential for viability of infants with no substitution possible, because Abbott had no backup plan. We knew that ceasing plant operations would create supply problems, but we had no choice given the unsanitary conditions.

50:50 Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): Why haven't you waived labeling requirements from trusted manufacturers in countries like the UK, Australia or Canada? Couldn't manufacturers provide temporary labels on imported formula? Cans if the label is printed in a language other than English until US manufacturing is restored? Some countries have higher nutritional requirements. Why can't we provide a waiver for their products to come into the country? Dr. Robert Califf: We've waived many of the requirements that are the ones that make sense, but the directions have to be clear to Americans in language that's understandable so the formula can be mixed correctly. An error in mixing up the formula for example, can lead to a very sick infant not getting the right nutrition.

2:16:18 Dr. Robert Califf: We saw the lack of quality in the system and the lack of accountability for the problems that were there. And so we had to invoke the Justice Department to negotiate a consent decree, which is essentially Abbott saying, “Yes, we had all these problems. Here's exactly what we're going to do to fix them.” For legal reasons, I can't discuss the exact details of the negotiation, but let's just say that it took a little armwrestling to get to the point where the Justice Department got Abbott to sign the consent decree.


May 25, 2022 Committee on Energy and Commerce: Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations


Robert M. Califf, Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner, Food Policy and Response, Food and Drug Administration

Susan Mayne, Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration

Chris Calamari, Senior Vice President of U.S. Nutrition, Abbott

Robert Cleveland, Senior Vice President of the Nutrition Business Unit for the US and Europe, Mead Johnson Nutrition

Scott Fitz, Vice President of Technical and Production, Gerber


41:55 Robert Califf: Because of the lack of the diversification of this market in the absence of a central hub for integrating supply chains, we concluded early on that getting the Sturgis facility up and running safely was a top priority. But we had no confidence in the integrity of the Abbott quality program at this facility. Accordingly, we initiated proceedings toward a consent decree, which requires Abbott to undertake steps to assure safe production of formula, including hiring an outside expert with reporting to FDA.

43:03 Robert Califf: Despite the overall numbers showing diminished but steady supply, we knew that distribution was an issue. Some areas were experiencing significant shortages, but overall, there was enough formula to go around. About a month ago, the reports of shortages on the shelf proliferated, although there was not a drop in production. This increase in consumption most likely represents heightened concern of parents and caregivers about shortages, leading to an understandable effort to purchase ahead to ensure adequate supply at home. This type of cycle has happened with other products throughout the pandemic, and we realize that the only solution is to have adequate supply to make sure shelves are stocked.

45:57 Robert Califf: Abbott's enormous market share left it with a responsibility for producing safe infant formula that was not met. We will do everything in our power to work with Abbott to make this happen as quickly and as safely possible, but this timing is an Abbott's control.

46:35 Robert Califf: Across the industry we regulate, we are seeing evidence that the just-in-time distribution system, market concentration, and sole-source contracting are leading to shortages. Multiple reports to Congress call for improved supply chain management. Until regulatory agencies have digital access to critical supply chain information and personnel to do the work, we will continue to react to supply chain disruptions rather than intervening to prevent them.

1:01:113 Robert Califf: It’s really important for people to go to the HHS website: There you'll find the hotline for all the manufacturers and helpful information about where to go.

1:04:12 Robert Califf: You would be surprised to know there's no just-in-time system where all the FDA employees can see what's going on. What we really need is access to the information that the manufacturers have about each of their individual supply chains. They each have their individual supply chains, but there is no national system to make sure the supplies getting where it needs to go.

1:05:11 Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): Did FDA not have a data analytics tool to monitor the supply chains of various products, including infant formula? Robert Califf: We requested funding for a tool and because we didn't get the funding, we cobbled it together. It's a start, but it's nowhere near — you know, again, I was at Google for five years. The technology at FDA, and in many federal agencies is outmoded and needs an upfit, there's just no question about.

1:07:33 Susan Mayne: We have been in discussion with infant formula manufacturers throughout COVID, but discussion is not the same thing as data and we do not have the authorities to demand data from the companies to get necessarily all the information that you would want to have to really monitor the supply chains as Dr. Califf indicated.

1:10:30 Robert Califf: But given what we saw, the only way we could have confidence was through a consent decree, where we literally have oversight of every single step. When we met with the CEO yesterday, there were hundreds of steps that they went through that they're having to do, many of which have already been done. So it's only if we have direct oversight over it that I would have confidence, but I do have confidence that we are seeing every single step both physically in-person, and also through following the documentation and the outside expert.

1:10:53 Rep. David B. McKinley (R-WV): How will the passage of last week's FDA Bill increase the production of baby formula? Robert Califf: Production is increasing already — Rep. David McKinley The criticism, that they said that on these various tweets — it was not just one there were several — that said it was unnecessary. So I want to know, how do we increase, how do we get back to production? How to put in $28 million? How would that how's that gonna increase production? Robert Califf: Well, remember, the Abbot plant needs to get up and running, we’ve got to oversee and micro detail to make sure that it's done correctly. And as we bring in supply from other countries, remember, we already have overseas plants that we import from on a regular basis, almost double digits. So as we bring that product in, we’ve got to inspect it, make sure it's of the quality that we expect in America of formula and we need to upgrade our information systems, as I've already said, to make sure that as all this goes on, we can keep track of it and make sure that we're coordinated.

1:44:55 Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA): Is there any early warning system for products like baby formula? And not just the ingredients but for formula itself or manufacturer would let you know if they're running short or anticipate a shortage? Robert Califf: First of all, let me thank you for being a pediatrician. I sometimes call the Academy of Pediatrics just for the positive vibes that you all exude as a profession. But no, there is not such a warning system. We've repeatedly asked for that authority and have not been granted it. The industry by and large has opposed it.

1:52:21 Susan Mayne: What the data show is, we can't rule in or rule out whether or not those infants, their cronobacter was caused by this plant. The data just simply can't be used to inform it. Rep. John Joyce (R-PA): But the genetic testing you did. It does not match from the plant, correct? Susan Mayne: That is correct. But what we did not have is any sampling done at the same time that the product was manufactured that was consumed by the individuals who got sick, so we didn't have that every director

2:08:57 Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH): I know that in this part of the country, I'm in New Hampshire, we have milk banks of mother's breast milk. And I'm wondering what is the regulation by the FDA? And can we assure our constituents that breast milk from milk bank is safe and is thoroughly vetted by the FDA? Robert Califf: You're asking some very good questions. I'm gonna refer this to Dr. Mayne who probably would have the best answer. Susan Mayne: Thank you, Congresswoman. So human breast milk is regulated as a food. And so that is reassuring and they have to have proper screening protocols and things like that in place to make sure that the donors that are donating the milk, get that, that's critical for human food safety. So that's how I would respond. Thank you.

2:26:28 Robert Califf: You would think that a critical industry like this would have resilience plans, redundancy, but we don't even have legal authority right now to require that the firms have a plan for potential failures and resilience. That’s something we've asked Congress for every year for a while, and we're asking for it again. So I hope that it happens this time. I'd also add that this is not unique to this industry. We are seeing this across the entire device and medical supply industry with frequent failures as exemplified by the 60 minutes show and the contrast medium problem that I talked about. We have gone to a just-in-time, large single source contracts that lead to lack of diversification in the industry and the industry has fought us tooth and nail on requiring that there be insight into their supply chains, so that the sum of all of the industries leads to the the avoidance of preemption. We'd like to be able to stress test and prevent these things from happening rather than waiting until they happen, and then scrambling.

2:58:58 Susan Mayne: What we've seen is, first the strain of the COVID 19 pandemic, then the strain of the recall, and now we've got the Russia-Ukraine conflict. And one of the things that we know is the Ukraine region is one of the world's biggest exporters of products like sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is used as an ingredient in many food products, including infant formula. And so we have been working with the manufacturers should they be unable to maintain their supply of sunflower oil, what they would replace it with and make sure that that would meet the nutritional requirements for infant formula.

3:26:28 Chris Calamari: We plan to start production at Sturgis the first week of June. We will begin with the production of EleCare, before turning to the production of other formulas and Similac. From restart, we estimate that it will take six to eight weeks before product is available on shelves.

4:28:51 Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY): Your testimony also mentions global supply chain challenges as a factor the company has had to contend with. What, if any, steps has Gerber taken to maintain its production and distribution supply? Scott Fitz: Thank you for the question. Certainly, our industry is not immune to the global supply chain challenges brought on by the pandemic. We struggled with materials supply issues, intermittent materials supply issues, whether it be ingredients or packaging components, we struggled struggled with the material quality issues related to the pandemic, we've had transportation and logistics issues, just getting trucks and truck drivers available to move the products and supplies that we need. And we've had COVID related labor challenges and higher turnover than normal are all things that have impacted us. Through the course of the pandemic though we've we've resolved these on an ongoing basis, one at a time as they've come up. We are putting trying to put in more robust business continuity plans in place for critical components and ones that we know we will have challenges with in the future.

4:30:50 Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY): Did you not think the FDA should be notified or at least aware of your struggle? Scott Fitz: Should FDA be aware of our struggle? Rep. Tonko: Yeah, should you have shared those concerns for supply chain? Scott Fitz: If it could help, we would certainly be willing to do that. Yes. Rep. Tonko: What should you have told us during the last year? Scott Fitz: Well, as I testified, the issues that have come up for us, we've been able to resolve. Through the last six months our in-stock rates have averaged 86%.

4:35:55 Chris Calamari: On the horizon, we see in the manufacture of infant formula agricultural oils are absolutely essential, paper is absolutely essential, the cost of fuel to supply and distribute the product is essential. So I would call out those key elements ranging from agricultural oils to the cost to deliver the product would be the biggest areas of focus.

4:41:42 Robert Cleveland: We reached out and spoke to the USDA almost immediately seeking flexibility, for example in the size format. And while that sounds small, it's very significant because what that means is the WIC consumer doesn't have to look for one particular size of product at the shelf. They can find any size of the shelf to fulfill their their benefits with and that's allowed us to continue production and step up to meet the requirements of those consumers. We've since worked with the USDA to find a number of other ways to flexibly administer the program, because really, the focus for the WIC consumer is the same as the others, making sure she has safe access to formula and doesn't have to compete with non-WIC consumers to get it. So the more sizes, the more formats, the more manufacturers that the program can support, the more likely she is to have her needs met.

4:47:35 Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA): The baby formula industry in our country is really unique in that about 90% of the product is made right here in the United States. And the vast majority is made by your three companies [Abbott, Gerber, and Mead Johnson]. And so it should be no surprise that when something goes wrong, like what happened in Sturgis, it really rocks the whole industry and the facility in Sturgis is responsible for 40% of Abbott's formula on the market and makes up about 20% of the total formula on the market in the US, and that is really significant, especially when this year Similac has the contract with WIC.

5:10:40 Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): Okay, the supply chain issues, is that because some of the ingredients were coming from other countries? Chris Calamari: Representative, yes, so global supply chains are such that we have ingredients coming from global sources and that is the nature of our supply chain.

5:19:29 Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO): Let's say my daughter, who has a six-week-old baby, called me up and said, “I need to get some formula for my baby. And my store shelves are bare.” What can we tell them between now and all of the emergency measures we put into place to start putting formula on the shelves? Who should they call? Where can they go to try to get some of this limited product right now? What's the practical suggestion? Robert Cleveland: It's very unfortunate that you have to answer that question or ask that question, but let me do my best to answer it. I think the shelves — the reality is they don't have anywhere near the product that they do. So one of the things I've often said during this crisis is it takes a village to raise a child. In this case, sometimes it's taking a village to find infant formula. So the first thing to do is work with your network of family and friends, and as they go to the stores, look for the product that's there. And I've seen many mothers and grandmothers and fathers and cousins doing this on the shelf. You can call our Consumer Response Center. Now to be fair, those folks are doing a phenomenal job of fielding waves and waves of calls. But we will help you if you call. That's one other resource. The physician's office is another. Sometimes they do have the samples that are required, and they can help transition between finding product on the shelf. And then I would be sure to look online as well as in-person at the store and be open to other formats. Many mothers and fathers have a particular type of format they like. You may need to be more flexible in the format that you use. But all infant formula regulated by the FDA is safe for your infant, whether it's a liquid or a powder or what size it's in. And so I would say shop widely. See your doctor or enroll your family friends, give us a call if you need to, and be flexible.


May 25, 2022
Committee on Appropriations: Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies


Ginger Carney, Director of Clinical Nutrition, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Sarah Chamberlin, Executive Director, National PKU News

Michael Gay, Owner and Manager, Food Fresh

Brian Ronholm, Director of Food Policy, Consumer Reports Linkedin


32:29 Michael Gay: WIC’s rigid rules have made it difficult for the program to be responsive to critical shortages throughout the pandemic and now during the formula crisis. Substitutions may be easily available when situations like this arise. The emergency waivers instituted by the USDA during the pandemic have provided flexibility in some states, but those waivers were only available because of the pandemic. To prevent this issue from happening in the future, Congress should allow WIC vendors operating during severe supply shortages, disasters or public health emergencies to automatically substitute limited WIC approved products impacted by supply chain disruptions. The USDA should direct states to include product substitutions for WIC in their emergency preparedness plan. These changes would have allowed families to immediately switch to another formula in states with shortages allowing for smooth continuation of feeding infants.

33:27 Michael Gay: Secondly, there's a significant need for USDA to examine the long term effects of cost containment, competitiveness and peer grouping formulas for WIC vendors. States operate a peer group system to monitor vendor prices and determine reimbursements are cost competitive. These cost containment measures have led to reduced retail embursement and reduced retailer participation in the program, leading to fewer locations for families to access formula.

33:55 Michael Gay: WIC infant formula cost containment measures have led to extreme consolidation in the formula marketplace, leaving it highly vulnerable to supply disruptions like we are experiencing now. These contracting policies must be reviewed to ensure future food security of the nation's babies and families.

41:50 Brian Ronholm: The evidence suggests that the agency was too slow to act, failed to take this issue seriously, and was not forthcoming with information to parents and caregivers. The infant formula crisis exposed a greater structure and culture problem that has long existed FDA. This was merely one symptom of the overall problem, and it is clear that confidence in the food program at the FDA is eroding. A big reason for this is the food program has second class status within FDA, and it's resulted in serious problems. The FDA also lacks a single, full-time, fully empowered expert leader of all aspects of the food program. As you know, in recent decades, most FDA commissioners have been medical specialists who naturally focus on the programs impacting medical products. This is certainly warranted considering the impact these programs have on public health. And the pandemic is a perfect example of this. However, this usually results in intense competition for the commissioner’s time and support and focus on the food program is typically what has suffered under this dynamic. It has become impossible for an FDA commissioner to possess the bandwidth to provide leadership and accountability to a set of offices that regulates 80% of our food supply.

51:45 Ginger Carney: I would want to warn parents not to make homemade formulas — the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against that — they should not dilute the formula, as both of these situations can lead to disastrous results and lead possibly to hospital admissions.

56:40 Brian Ronholm: Splitting out the food safety functions of the agency as it exists now and creating separate agencies while still remaining under the HHS umbrella would be an effective approach that would get to the issues that I think everyone has become aware of during this crisis.

59:32 Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT): We now have 15 agencies at the federal level who deal with some form of food safety, the principal ones are USDA and FDA. It should be one single agency!

1:06:30 Michael Gay: In a rural area such as ours, probably 85-90% of my formula is WIC formula, which is just down to one type of formula. So even like today, for example, or my truck Monday, I got about 20 cases of Gerber formula in a different variety, but that's not approved on what and the Georgia WIC office just approved some substitutions for formulas that were, you know, prescribed by the doctor with the contract formula. So therein lies the problem is there's no easy way to substitute that for the customer.

1:23:29 Brian Ronholm: Four companies that control 90% of the market and only three of them actually bid on WIC rebate contracts. Abbott is by far the largest one and I believe they have contracts in 30 or 31 states, I think it was the latest figure. So when those contracts come up, these companies submit based on their ability to meet the demand in a particular state, and Abbott is usually the only one that's big enough to do that. We mentioned that they have a large part of the market, I think when it comes to the WIC market, they have approximately 55 to 60% of the WIC market. So that's a significant size of the market that it really needs to be examined so when situations like this hit, how does it impact that particular….And it's obviously going to have a bigger impact because these companies use the WIC market to get into the overall non-WIC market to even increase the share of their market, so that creates further shortage problems.

1:40:35 Ginger Carney: One thing that we really haven't talked about is the WHO code for marketing breast milk substitutes. And that's what these formulas are, they’re breast milk substitutes. So if we look at the WHO code in other countries, other developed countries are abiding by the WHO code and this gives guidelines for how companies can market their infant formulas in a safe way. So maybe we should go back to that and think about what is it about the WHO code that would benefit all of our families in the country so that they are assured when they do have to reach for infant formula when breastfeeding cannot be an option or will not be an option? What are the things that are marketed directly to our families that tell them about the formula?

1:44:20 Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL): Half of all US formula consumption goes through the WIC program, which provides free infant formula as we've been talking about today, where states negotiate bulk discounts in exchange for market exclusivity. Now, I'll take you back to 1989 when Republican President George Bush enacted legislation requiring all state WIC programs to use competitive bidding for the purchase of infant formula. In practice, this means that the state of Florida for example is required to use a single supplier for the entire state supply of WIC baby formula. The competitive bidding process has yielded $1.3 billion to $2 billion a year in savings and allowing WIC to serve about 2 million more participants annually because of the discounts. However, when there's a supply shock caused by one of the four market participants, like what happened with Abbott in this case, it creates a serious risk to infant health across the country.

1:48:00 Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL): We know that in Europe, they consistently produce a baby formula surplus. But there are rigid labeling and nutritional requirements for formula containers here in the US that the FDA requires and they prohibit the sale of many European-made products, even though the formulas themselves meet FDA nutritional and purity standards. So what sort of policy changes would you like to see undertaken to ease restrictions on baby formula imports, while still ensuring that the product meets our safety standards? Brian Ronholm: Yeah, I think it's critical that we maintain those safety standards that FDA has set on infant formula, that's absolutely critical. There's a comfort level with consumers when they're able to purchase something that they know is an FDA inspected facility overseas. But to your point, sometimes these regulations, these really strict regulations are thinly disguised trade protection measures. And so you know, that's certainly an issue that we'd have to examine carefully to make sure that we can have that access.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Jun 26, 2022
CD253: Escalation of War

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Congress has signed four laws that send enormous amounts of money and weapons to Ukraine, attempting to punish Russia for President Putin’s invasion. In this episode, we examine these laws to find out where our money will actually go and attempt to understand the shifting goals of the Biden administration. The big picture, as it’s being explained to Congress, differs from what we’re being sold.

Executive Producer: David Kovatch

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Content

Ukraine and Russia

CD249: A Few Good Laws

CD248: Understanding the Enemy

CD244: Keeping Ukraine

CD229: Target Belarus

CD167: Combating Russia (NDAA 2018) LIVE

CD068: Ukraine Aid Bill

CD067: What Do We Want In Ukraine?


CD172: The Illegal Bombing of Syria

CD108: Regime Change

CD041: Why Attack Syria?

World Trade System

What Is the World Trade System?

CD230: Pacific Deterrence Initiative

CD102: The World Trade Organization: COOL?

Russian Blockade

Shane Harris. May 24, 2022. “U.S. intelligence document shows Russian naval blockade of Ukraine.” The Washington Post.

NATO Expansion

Jim Garamone. Jun 1, 2022. “Russia Forcing Changes to NATO Strategic Concepts.” U.S. Department of Defense News.

Matthew Lee. May 27, 2022. “US: Turkey’s NATO issues with Sweden, Finland will be fixed.” AP News.

Ted Kemp. May 19, 2022. “Two maps show NATO’s growth — and Russia’s isolation — since 1990.” CNBC.

U.S. Involvement in Ukraine

Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes. May 5, 2022. “U.S. Intelligence Helped Ukraine Strike Russian Flagship, Officials Say.” The New York Times.

Julian E. Barnes, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt. May 4, 2022. “U.S. Intelligence Is Helping Ukraine Kill Russian Generals, Officials Say.” The New York Times.

Private Security Contractors

Christopher Caldwell. May 31, 2022. “The War in Ukraine May Be Impossible to Stop. And the U.S. Deserves Much of the Blame.” The New York Times.

Joaquin Sapien and Joshua Kaplan. May 27, 2022. “How the U.S. Has Struggled to Stop the Growth of a Shadowy Russian Private Army.” ProPublica.

H.R. 7691 Background

How It Passed

Glenn Greenwald. May 13, 2022. “The Bizarre, Unanimous Dem Support for the $40b War Package to Raytheon and CIA: ‘For Ukraine.’” Glenn Greenwald on Substack.

Catie Edmondson and Emily Cochrane. May 10, 2022. “House Passes $40 Billion More in Ukraine Aid, With Few Questions Asked.” The New York Times.

Republican Holdouts

Glenn Greenwald and Anthony Tobin. May 24, 2022. “Twenty-Two House Republicans Demand Accountability on Biden's $40b War Spending.” Glenn Greenwald on Substack.

Amy Cheng and Eugene Scott. May 13, 2022. “Rand Paul, lone Senate holdout, delays vote on Ukraine aid to next week.” The Washington Post.

Morgan Watkins. May 13, 2022. “Sen. Rand Paul stalls $40 billion in aid for Ukraine, breaking with Mitch McConnell USA Today.

Stephen Semler. May 26, 2022. “The Ukraine Aid Bill Is a Massive Windfall for US Military Contractors.” Jacobin.

Biden Signs in South Korea

Biden signs Ukraine Bill and Access to Baby Formula Act in South Korea. Reddit.

Kate Sullivan. May 20, 2022. “Flying the Ukraine aid bill to South Korea for Biden's signature isn't unheard of. It also may not be totally necessary.” CNN.

How Much Money, and Where Will It Go?

Stephen Semler. May 23, 2022. “A breakdown of the Ukraine aid bill.” Speaking Security on Substack.

“CBO Estimate for H.R. 7691, Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022, as Passed by the House of Representatives on May 10, 2022.” May 11 2022. Congressional Budget Office.

Christina Arabia, Andrew Bowen, and Cory Welt. Updated Apr 29, 2022. “U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine.” [IF12040] Congressional Research Service.

“22 U.S. Code § 2346 - Authority.” Legal Information Institute, Cornell School of Law.

Representatives’ Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Stocks

Kimberly Leonard. May 19, 2022. “20 members of Congress personally invest in top weapons contractors that'll profit from the just-passed $40 billion Ukraine aid package.” Insider.

Kimberly Leonard. Mar 21, 2022. “GOP Rep. John Rutherford of Florida bought Raytheon stock the same day Russia invaded Ukraine.” Insider.

Marjorie Taylor Green [@RepMTG]. Feb 24, 2022. “War is big business to our leaders.” Twitter.

“Florida’s 4th Congressional District.” GovTrack.

“Rules Based Order”

Anthony Dworkin. Sep 8, 2020. “Why America is facing off against the International Criminal Court.”

“History of the multilateral trading system.” *The World Trade Organization

“Facts: Global Inequality”

“Timeline: Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.” Apr 23, 2007. NPR.


Kenneth Rapoza. Mar 20, 2015. One Year After Russia Annexed Crimea, Locals Prefer Moscow To Kiev Forbes.

“Crimea exit poll: About 93% back Russia union. March 16, 2014. BBC.

Shifting Strategies

Economic War

Larry Elliott. Jun 2, 2022. “Russia is winning the economic war - and Putin is no closer to withdrawing troops. The Guardian.

Nigel Gould-Davies. May 12, 2022. “We Must Make Sure Russia Finishes This War in a Worse Position Than Before” The New York Times.

Weapons Escalation

Jake Johnson. Jun 1, 2022. “'Slippery Slope... Just Got a Lot Steeper': US to Send Ukraine Advanced Missiles as Russia Holds Nuke Drills.” Common Dreams.

C. Todd Lopez. Jun 1, 2022. “Advanced Rocket Launcher System Heads to Ukraine.” U.S. Department of Defense News.

Greg Norman. Jun 1, 2022. “Russia stages nuclear drills after US announces rockets to Ukraine.” Fox News.

Christian Esch et al. May 30, 2022. “What's Next for Ukraine? The West Tries to Figure Out What Peace Might Look Like.” Spiegel International. See Image.

Alastair Gale. May 24, 2022. “China and Russia Sent Bombers Near Japan as Biden Visited Tokyo.” The Wall Street Journal.

Mike Stone. Mar 11, 2022. “Exclusive: Pentagon revives team to speed arms to Ukraine and allies, sources say.” Reuters.

Secretary Austin and the Pentagon

Jim Garamone. May 20, 2022. “Austin to Host Second Ukraine Contact Group Meeting Monday.” U.S. Department of Defense News.

Natasha Bertrand et al. Apr 26, 2022. “Austin’s assertion that US wants to ‘weaken’ Russia underlines Biden strategy shift.” CNN.

David Sanger. Apr 25, 2022. “Behind Austin’s Call for a ‘Weakened’ Russia, Hints of a Shift.” The New York Times.

Mike Stone. Apr 12, 2022. “Pentagon asks top 8 U.S. weapons makers to meet on Ukraine -sources.” Reuters.

Glenn Greenwald. Dec 8, 2020. “Biden's Choice For Pentagon Chief Further Erodes a Key U.S. Norm: Civilian Control.” Glenn Greenwald on Substack.

Democrats Still All In

Marc Santora. May 1, 2022. “Pelosi and Democratic lawmakers vow the U.S. will stand with Ukraine. The New York Times.

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service. May 1, 2022. “Civilians Evacuated From Mariupol; U.S. House Speaker Pelosi Visits Kyiv.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

“Ukraine war: Joe Biden calls for removal of Vladimir Putin in angry speech.” Mar 26, 2022. Sky News.

The Laws

H.R. 7691: Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022

House Vote: 368-57

Senate Vote: 86-11

Transcript of House Debate

S.3522: Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022

Passed by Voice Vote in the Senate

House Vote 417-10

House "Debate"

H.R.6968 - Ending Importation of Russian Oil Act

Senate Vote: 100-0

House Vote: 413-9

House Debate

H.R.7108: Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act

Senate Vote: 100-0 (amended the original House bill)

Final House Vote: 424-8

House debate 1 (on original version)

House debate 2 (final version)

Audio Sources

Joe Manchin at the World Economic Forum's meeting in Davos

May 23, 2022


  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): Speaking about Ukraine, first what Putin, Putin’s war on Ukraine and Ukraine's determination, resolving the sacrifices they've made for the cause of freedom has united the whole world, that it's united, US Senate and Congress, I think like nothing I've seen in my lifetime. I think we're totally committed to supporting Ukraine, in every way possible, as long as we have the rest of NATO and the free world helping. I think we're all in this together. And I am totally committed as one person to seeing Ukraine to the end with a win, not basically resolving in some type of a treaty. I don't think that is where we are and where we should be. Reporter: Can I just follow up and ask you what you mean by a win for Ukraine? ** Sen. Joe Manchin:** I mean, basically moving Putin back to Russia and hopefully getting rid of Putin.

The Ukraine Crisis: Implications for U.S. Policy in the Indo-Pacific

May 19, 2022
Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation

Charles Edel, Ph.D., Australia Chair and Senior Adviser, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Bonny Lin, Ph.D., Director, China Power Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Tanvi Madan, Ph.D.Director, The India Project, Brookings Institution
Dan Blumenthal, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Director of Asian Studies, American Enterprise Institute


  • 6:57 Tanvi Madan: One implication that is already evident, most visibly in Sri Lanka, is the adverse economic impact. The rise in commodity prices in particular has led to fiscal food and energy security concerns and these, in turn, could have political implications and could create a strategic vacuum.
  • 7:15 Tanvi Madan: A separate and longer term economic impact of the crisis could be renewed goals, perhaps especially in India, for self reliance and building resilience not just against Chinese pressure, but also against Western sanctions.
  • 7:28 Tanvi Madan: The second potential implication of the Russia-Ukraine war could be that Beijing might seek to take advantage in the Indo-Pacific while the world's focus is on Europe, between the Taiwan or the East or South China Sea contingencies. The contingency that would have the most direct impact in South Asia would be further action by the PLA at the China-India boundary, or at the Bhutan-China boundary that could draw in India. This potential for Sino-Indian crisis escalation has indeed shaped Delhi's response to the Russia-Ukraine war. Despite its recent diversification efforts, the Indian military continues to be dependent, if not over dependent, on Russia for supplies and spare parts for crucial frontline equipment. India has also been concerned about moving Moscow away from neutrality towards taking China's side. Nonetheless, there is simultaneously concern that Russia's war with Ukraine might, in any case, make Moscow more beholden to Beijing and also less able to supply India, and that will have implications for India's military readiness.
  • 10:10 Tanvi Madan: The fourth implication in South Asia could flow from the war's effect on the Russia-China relationship flows. The Sino-Russian ties in recent years have benefited Pakistan. However, they have been of great concern to India. If China-Russia relations deepened further, it could lead to increased Indian concern about Russian reliability. And a Dheli that is concerned about Moscow's ability and willingness to supply India militarily or supported in international forums will seek alternative partners and suppliers a potential opportunity for the US as well as its allies and partners.
  • 18:15 Bonny Lin: China has shifted its position on the Ukraine conflict to be less fully pro Russia. Xi Jinping has expressed that he is deeply grieved by the outbreak of war. China has engaged in diplomacy, called for a ceasefire, proposed a six point humanitarian initiative, and provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine. China's position on Ukraine, however, is far from neutral. China has not condemned Russia or called its aggression an evasion. Xi has yet to speak to President Zelenskyy. There is no evidence that China has sought to pressure Russia in any way or form. China has amplified Russian disinformation and pushed back against Western sanctions. To date, Beijing has not provided direct military support to Russia and has not engaged in systemic efforts to help Russia evade sanctions. However, China's ambassador to Russia has encouraged Chinese companies to quote "fill the void in the Russian market."
  • 19:14 Bonny Lin: The Ukraine crisis has reinforced China's view that US military expansion could provoke conflict in the Indo-Pacific. Chinese interlocutors have voiced concern that the United States and NATO are fighting Russia today, but might fight China next. China views NATO expansion as one of the key causes of the Korean conflict and sees parallels between NATO activities in Europe and US efforts in the Indo-Pacific. Beijing is worried that increasing US and ally support for Taiwan and other regional allies and partners elevates the risk of US-China military confrontation. This pessimistic assessment is why Beijing will continue to stand by Russia as a close strategic partner.
  • 19:56 Bonny Lin: The Ukraine crisis has reinforced and strengthened China's desire to be more self reliant. China is investing more to ensure the security of food, energy, and raw materials. Beijing is also seeking more resilient industrial supply chains, as well as PRC-led systems, including alternatives to Swift. At the same time, Beijing is likely to further cultivate dependencies on China, such that any potential Western led sanctions on China or international-community-led sanctions on China in the future will be painful to the West and difficult to sustain.
  • 21:15 Bonny Lin: China has observed that Russia put its nuclear and strategic forces on high alert and NATO did not send conventional forces to Ukraine. This is leading China to question its nuclear policy and posture.
  • 21:57 Bonny Lin: As Beijing watches the Western and particularly G7-led unity among advanced democracies, it is also seeing that a number of countries in the developing world are not joining in on the sanctions. As a result, Beijing has tried to increase its influence and in many ways building on Russian influence in developing regions. And Beijing is likely to try to get all that influence moving forward.
  • 24:24 Dan Blumenthal: China took the opportunity of Russia's invasion on February 4 to lay out a document that criticizes, very specifically, almost all aspects of United States global policy. Very specifically, including Oculus for NATO enlargement to Oculus to the Indo Pacific strategy. It got Russia to sign up to Xi Jinping's theory that we're in a new era of geopolitics that will replace US leadership, that US leadership is faulty and it's dividing the world into blocks such as NATO, that NATO expansion is the problem, that Indo-Pacific strategy is the same thing as NATO expansion.
  • 25:45 Dan Blumenthal: We should take very seriously what they say, particularly in Chinese, and what they're saying is very clearly pro-Russia and very clear, specific, searing critiques of the US-led world order.
  • 26:47 Dan Blumenthal: And frankly, while the West is unified, and the US and the West and some of our Asian allies are unified, most of the rest of the world is not with us on this issue of China and Russia being these authoritarian, revisionist great powers, and that's a real problem.

Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism

May 18, 2022
House Committee on Foreign Affairs: Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism


Dr. Hanna Notte, Senior Research Associate, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
Dr. Frederic Wehrey, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Caitlin Welsh, Director of the Global Food Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Grant Rumley, Senior Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy


  • 12:55 Hanna Notte: First, Moscow's military presence in Syria has given it a buffer zone on its southern flank to counter perceived threats from within the region, but also to deter NATO outside the European theater. And second, Russia has turned to the region to diversify its economic relations with a focus on arms sales, civilian nuclear exports and wheat supplies. And in building influence, Russia has largely followed what I call a low cost high disruption approach, also using hybrid tactics such as private military companies and disinformation. Now, these Russian interests in the region will not fundamentally change with the invasion of Ukraine. Today, Russia's regional diplomacy remains highly active, aimed at offsetting the impact of Western sanctions and demonstrating that Moscow is not isolated internationally.

  • 14:09 Hanna Notte: Starting with arms control and Non-Proliferation, though Moscow seemed intent on spoiling negotiations to restore the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] in early March. It subsequently dropped demands for written guarantees that its cooperation with Iran would not be hindered by sanctions imposed over Ukraine. But still, I think the geopolitical situation might make Moscow less willing to help finalize a nuclear deal. As in the past, Russia is also unlikely to support any US efforts to curb Iran's use of missiles and proxies in the region, because essentially, Iran's regional strategy pins down us resources while elevating Russia as a regional mediator, which serves Russian interests well.

  • 15:17 Hanna Notte: Just a few words on Syria. Security Council resolution 2585 on the provision of humanitarian aid to northwest Syria is up for renewal in July. Now, Rationally speaking, the Kremlin should cooperate to avoid a worsening of serious food crisis, especially if an end game in Ukraine remains out of reach. But considering the current level of tensions between Russia and the West, I think the United States should be prepared for a Russian Security Council veto regardless, alongside continued Russian stalling on the Syrian constitutional committee. Moscow has no serious interest in seeing the committee advance. It will instead try to foster a Gulf Arab counterweight to Iran in Syria through normalization, especially for the contingency that Russia may need to scale back its own presence in Syria due to Ukraine.

  • 16:14 Hanna Notte: First, unfortunately I think there's a widespread perception that the Ukraine war is not their war, that it's a Great Power NATO-Russia war, partially fueled by NATO and US actions visa vis Russia.

  • 16:27 Hanna Notte: Second, there are accusations of Western double standards. The military support to Kyiv, the reception of Ukrainian refugees, these are rightly or wrongly viewed as proof that the West cares significantly more about conflict in Europe's neighborhood than those in the Middle East.

  • 16:42 Hanna Notte: Third, regional elites worry about US conventional security guarantees. They fear that the threats posed by Russia and China will accelerate a decline in US power in the Middle East. And they also fear that the US will have limited bandwidth to confront Iran's missile and proxy activities. And with those fears, they feel they cannot afford to put all their eggs into the US basket.

  • 17:07 Hanna Notte: And then finally, each regional state has very distinct business and security interests with Russia. As a result, and I'll end here, I think us opportunities to get regional states to turn against Russia are circumscribed. loosening these ties that states have been building with Russia will require a heavy lift.

  • 18:57 Frederic Wehrey: This engagement is largely opportunistic and ad hoc. It seizes on instability and power vacuums and exploits the insecurities of US partners in the region about the reliability of US support, and their displeasure with the conditionality that the US sometimes attaches to its arms sales. Russian arms deliveries, in contrast, are faster and free from restrictions related to human rights. But Russia cannot provide the security guarantees that many Arab states have depended on from the United States.

  • 19:29 Frederic Wehrey: Now, in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia is trying to reap dividends from its investment in the region, call in favors, and capitalize on local ambivalence and hostility to the United States, both from states and from Arab publics. America's Arab security partners have differed on joining the Western condemnation of Russian aggression, and some of refuse to join efforts to isolate Russia economically.

  • 20:31 Frederic Wehrey: Russia's disastrous war in Ukraine is tarnishing its reputation as an arms supplier in the Middle East. Russian weapons have been shown to be flawed in combat and often fatally. So, Battlefield expenditures and attrition have whittled away Russia's inventory, especially precision munitions, and sanctions have eroded its defense industrial base, especially electronic components. As a result, Russia won't be able to fulfill its existing commitments, and potential buyers will be increasingly dissuaded from turning to Russia. This shortfall could be modestly exploited by China, which possesses large quantities of Russian made arms and spare parts, which you could use to keep existing inventories in the region up and running. It could also intensify its efforts to sell its own advanced weaponry like drones.

  • 23:50 Caitlin Welsh: The war has reduced supplies and increased prices of foods exported from Ukraine and Russia, namely wheat, maize and sunflower oil, driven up demand for substitute products and reduced fertilizer exports from the Black Sea. Today's high cost of energy puts further pressure on food and fertilizer prices. Most vulnerable to the impact of these price spikes are countries for whom wheat is a major source of calories that rely on imports to meet their food security needs, and that source a significant proportion of their imports from Ukraine and Russia.

  • 24:38 Caitlin Welsh: Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat, sourcing over 70% of its wheat from the Black Sea.

  • 25:42 Caitlin Welsh: The Russian Ukraine war is limiting access to wheat for Lebanon, already in one of the worst economic crises in the world. Lebanon has not recorded economic growth since 2017 and food price inflation inflation reached 400% in December 2021. Lebanon procures approximately 75% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine.

  • 28:48 Grant Rumley: Russia is one of the few countries in the world to maintain a relatively positive diplomatic standing with nearly every country in the Middle East. It does so through a combination of an active military presence, high level diplomatic engagement, and a concerted effort to position itself as a viable source of arms, should countries seek non-US material.

  • 29:08 Grant Rumley: Russia's military presence in the region is well documented by Russian MOD statements. Russia has deployed over 60,000 troops to Syria since intervening in 2015. From its two bases in Syria, Hmeimim and Tartous, Russia is able to project power into the eastern Mediterranean, influence the course of the Syrian civil war, and intervene in countries like Libya.

  • 29:47 Grant Rumley: Russia's invasion of Ukraine, however, threatens Russia standing in the region. Already reports indicate Russia has begun withdrawing some troops and mercenaries from the region to support its invasion of Ukraine. While we can expect these reports to continue if the war continues to go poorly for Russia, I'm skeptical of a full Russian withdrawal, and instead expect Russia to continue to consolidate its forces until it's left with a skeleton presence at Hmeimim and Tartous, its most strategic assets in the region.

  • 30:26 Grant Rumley: On arms sales, the Russian defense industry, which has struggled to produce key platforms following sanctions initially placed after its 2014 invasion of Ukraine, will likely have to prioritize replenishing the Russian military over exporting. Further, customers of Russian arms may struggle with the resources to maintain and sustain the material in their inventory. Still, so long as Russia is able to make platforms, there will likely always be potential customers of Russian arms.

  • 41:25 Grant Rumley: I definitely think customers of Russian arms are going to have several hurdles going forward, not only with simply maintaining and sustaining what they've already purchased, but in some of the basic logistics, even the payment process. Russian bank complained last month that it wasn't able to process close to a billion dollars in payments from India and Egypt over arms sales. I think countries that purchase Russian arms will also now have to consider the potential that they may incur secondary sanctions, in addition to running afoul of CAATSA [Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act-Related Sanctions]. I think from from our standpoint, there are many ways that we can amend our security cooperation approach. The Middle East, I think is a key theater for the future of great power competition, not only have we been competing with Russia in terms of arms sales there, but China increasingly has sold armed drones to the region. They've sold it to traditional partners, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE. And what they're doing is is oftentimes what we're not willing to do, our partners in the region seek co-production, they seek technology sharing. China and Russia are willing to work together to build these advanced platforms, Russia and the UAE inked an agreement several years ago to produce a fifth generation fighter. Nothing's come of that yet. China and Saudi Arabia, however, signed an agreement a couple of months ago to jointly produce armed drones in Saudi Arabia. And so I think the US may want to think creatively in terms of both what we sell, how we sell it, and what we're doing to make this more of a relationship and something beyond a strict transaction.

  • 43:39 Grant Rumley: Their presence in Syria has evolved from a modest airstrip in 2015, to a base at Hmeimim that by open source reporting can serve as a logistics hub, a medical hub, it has the runways to host Russia's most advanced bombers. There was reports before Ukraine that Russia was deploying two 22 bombers there and hypersonic missiles. Their facility at Tartous, likewise. Their ability to stage naval assets there has expanded to they can now stage up to 11 ships there. So it has grown from from a rather modest beginning to something much more challenging from a US standpoint. In terms of what we can we can do, I think we can continue to support Ukraine and the defense of Ukraine, and the longer that Russia is bogged down in Ukraine, the harder it will be for Russia's military to extend and maintain its presence in the Middle East.

  • 1:01:45 Grant Rumley: I think the US has several partners in the middle of major Russian arms purchases that we can, like Turkey and the S 400, that has requested the F 16, or Egypt and Sukhoi Su-35, that has requested the F 15. I'm not saying we have to make a deal right now for that, but I think it's clear that these countries are going to have gaps in their capabilities where they had planned on having Russian platforms to complement, and we can work with our partners and work with our own defense industry and see if there's ways in which we can provide off ramps for them to gradually disinvest these Russian platforms.

  • 1:03:00 Frederic Wehrey: When countries in the in the region buy US arms, they believe they're buying much more than the capability, the hardware, that they're purchasing an insurance policy. I think especially for states in the Gulf, there's a fundamental sense of insecurity. These are states that face Iran, but they're also autocrats. They're insecure because of their political systems. They face dissent from within. We saw that with Egypt. So they're purchasing a whole stream of US assurances -- they believe they are.

  • 1:06:00 Grant Rumley: The issue of of co-production is one means to address a common complaint, which is buying from America takes too long. That its too complicated, that if we get in line to buy something from the US, we're going to have to wait years to get it. A good example is the F 16. There are over 20 countries in the world that fly the F 16. We currently -- Lockheed Martin builds it out of one facility. That facility, if you get in line today, you're probably not getting the F 16 for five years from when you sign on the dotted line for it. In the 70s and 80s, we co-produced the F 16 with three other European countries and we were able to get them off the line faster. The initial order at those facilities was for 1000 F 16s. The initial order for the F 16 plant in South Carolina was for 90 F 16s for Taiwan and Morocco. And so from an industry standpoint, it's a question of scale. And so they're not able to ramp up the production because while the demand may get closer to 1000 over time, it's at 128. Last I checked, it's not there yet. And so I think we can use foreign military financing, longer security cooperation planning, working with our partners on multi-year acquisition timetables to then also communicate and send a signal to the defense industry that these are orders for upgrades, for new kits that are going to come down the road. You can start to plan around that and potentially address some of these production lags.

  • 1:17:52 Grant Rumley: China has a lot of legacy Russian platforms, and will likely be a leading candidate to transfer some of these platforms to countries that had purchased Russian arms in the past and may be seeking maintenance and sustainment for them. I think China's already active in the Middle East, it's already flooding the market with armed drones. It's already looking to market other platforms as well. It's sold air defense systems to Serbia. It's looking to advance its arm sales. And so if if we aren't going to be the supplier, China is going to step in.

  • 1:18:57 Caitlin Welsh: USDA has projected that 35% of the current wheat crop from Ukraine will not be harvested this year. So their exports are curtailed, at the same time Russia's exports are continuing. Russia has been exempted. Russia's agricultural exports and fertilizer has been exempted from sanctions for the United States, EU and other countries. So Russia continues to export. In fact, USDA is estimating that Russia's exports are increasing at this time. And I'm also seeing open source reporting of Russia stealing grain from Ukraine, relabeling it, and exporting it at a premium to countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Sen. Rand Paul: ‘We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy’

May 12, 2022 NBC News


  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): My oath of office is to the US Constitution, not to any foreign nation. And no matter how sympathetic the cause, my oath of office is to the national security of the United States of America. We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the US economy. This bill under consideration would spend $40 billion. This is the second spending bill for Ukraine in two months. And this bill is three times larger than the first. Our military aid to Ukraine is nothing new, though. Since 2014, the United States has provided more than $6 billion dollars in security assistance to Ukraine, in addition to the $14 billion Congress authorized just a month ago. If this bill passes, the US will have authorized roughly $60 billion in total spending for Ukraine

  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): The cost of this package we are voting on today is more than the US spent during the first year of the US conflict in Afghanistan. Congress authorized force, and the President sent troops into the conflict. The same cannot be said of Ukraine. This proposal towers over domestic priorities as well. The massive package of $60 billion to Ukraine dwarfs the $6 million spent on cancer research annually. $60 billion is more than the amount that government collects in gas taxes each year to build roads and bridges. The $60 billion to Ukraine could fund substantial portions or entire large Cabinet departments. The $60 billion nearly equals the entire State Department budget. The 60 billion exceeds the budget for the Department of Homeland Security and for the Department of Energy. And Congress just wants to keep on spending and spending.

U.S. Efforts to Support Ukraine

May 12, 2022 Senate Committee on Foreign Relations


Jessica Lewis, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs
Erin McKee, Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia, U.S. Agency for International Development
Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Beth Van Schaack, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, U.S. Department of State


  • Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): Are we making it very clear to Russia that we do not want to pose an existential threat to them, that our only goal is to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine? Karen Donfried: We are making it very clear to Russia that this is not a conflict between Russia and the United States. We are not going to engage directly in this war. President Biden has been explicit in saying we are not sending US troops to fight in this war. So I do believe we have made that clear. Our goal here is to end a war not to enlarge it.

  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): As you all are waking up every morning, I know with the thought in mind that America's role here is to help Ukraine win and I want to talk a little about how we define victory. When Secretary Austin said after meeting with President Zelenskyy, that we can win this war against Russia -- this happened a few weeks ago -- I thought that was positive. On Monday, the foreign minister of Ukraine, who all of us have had a chance to visit with said, of course, the victory for us in this war will be a liberation of the rest of the territory. So Assistant Secretary Donfried, first, just a yes or no. Do you believe Ukraine can win this war? Karen Donfried: Yes. Sen. Rob Portman: And how would you define victory? Would you define victory as requiring the return of all Ukraine sovereign territory, including that that the Russians seized in 2014? Karen Donfried: Well, Senator Portman, thank you for that question. And thank you for your engagement on these issues. Your question very much relates to where Chairman Menendez began, which is, are we in a position of believing that it is Ukraine that should be defining what winning means? And I agreed with Chairman Menendez's statement on that, and that is where the administration is. We believe Ukraine should define what victory means. And our policy is trying to ensure Ukraine success, both by — Sen. Rob Portman: So the administration's official position on victory is getting Crimea back and getting the Donetsk and Luhansk region back as well. Karen Donfried: Again, I believe that is for the Ukrainians to define.

  • Karen Donfried: Against this threat to regional security, global stability, and our shared values, we are supporting freedom, democracy, and the rules based order that make our own security and prosperity and that of the world possible.

  • Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): I believe we must also think about reconstruction efforts in Ukraine, the tools and ongoing governance and economic reforms, specifically in the judicial space, that will facilitate rebuilding critical Ukrainian sectors and attracting foreign investment.

The Impact of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine in the Middle East and North Africa

May 11, 2022
House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Defense held a budget hearing on the Department of Defense.

Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense
Michael J. McCord, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer
General Mark A. Milley, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff


  • 21:40 General Mark Milley: Alongside our allies and partners, at any given time approximately 400,000 of us are currently standing watch in 155 countries and conducting operations every day to keep Americans safe.

  • 21:56 General Mark Milley: Currently we are supporting our European allies and guarding NATO's eastern flank, in the face of the unnecessary war of aggression by Russia, against the people of Ukraine, and the assault on the democratic institutions and the rules based international order that have prevented great power war for the last 78 years since the end of World War Two. We are now facing two global powers, China and Russia, each with significant military capabilities, both who intend to fundamentally change the current rules based order.

Lindsey Graham declares, "let's take out Putin" and says there is "no off-ramp in this war"

May 9, 2022


  • Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC): If Putin still standing after all this then the world is going to be a very dark place China's going to get the wrong signal and we'll have a mess on our hands in Europe for decades to come so let's take out Putin by helping Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary ofDefense Lloyd J. Austin III Remarks to Traveling Press

April 25, 2022

Jen’s Highlighted PDF

Remarks by President Biden on the United Efforts of the Free World to Support the People of Ukraine

March 26, 2022

Jen’s Highlighted PDF

U.S. Policy and Russian Involvement in Syria

November 4, 2015
House Foreign Affairs Committee

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Jun 06, 2022
CD252: Women’s Health Protection Act
The Women’s Health Protection Act is a bill written by Democrats that would guarantee access to abortion services in the United States. While this bill is unlikely to become law, learning what exactly the Democrats are proposing is instructive, as many of us will be voting with abortion in mind later this year. Now that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn previous decisions that guaranteed access to abortion services for the past 50 years, what do Democrats hope to do in response?

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Links to We’re Not Wrong

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Executive Producer Recommended Episode

CD190: A Coup for Capitalism

Follow up reading: Tom Phillips, Patrick Wintour and Julian Borger. May 19, 2022. “Maduro glimpses political lifeline as US rethinks Venezuela policy.” The Guardian.

Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episode

CD032: The Abortion Bill

Abortion Background

Laura Temme. May 12, 2022. “Roe v. Wade Case Summary: What You Need to Know” FindLaw.

Grace Panetta, Shayanne Gal, and Taylor Tyson. Updated May 9, 2022. “The latest point in pregnancy you can get an abortion in all 50 states.” Business Insider.

Jon O. Shimabukuro. Feb 25, 2022. “Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response.” [RL33467] Congressional Research Service.

Katherine Kortsmit et. al. Nov 27, 2020. “Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2018.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

United Kingdom National Health Service. “Week-by-week guide to pregnancy” Start for Life.

A. Pawlowski. Nov 9, 2017. “'Miracle baby': Born at 21 weeks, she may be the most premature surviving infant.” Today.

Supreme Court of the United States. Jun 29, 1992. “Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833.” Justia.

The Draft Decision

Adeel Hassan. May 6, 2022. “What to Know About the Mississippi Abortion Law Challenging Roe v. Wade.” The New York Times.

Supreme Court of the United States. Feb 10, 2022. “1st Draft: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization”


H.R.3755 (117th): Women's Health Protection Act of 2021

Sponsor: Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)

Text of House Bill

House Vote Breakdown

S.4132 (177th): Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022

Sponsor: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

Text of Senate Bill

Senate Cloture Vote Breakdown

Bill Outline

Section 3: Permitted Services

  • Gives health care providers the right to provide abortion services and gives patients the right to receive abortion services "without any of the following limitations or requirements":
    • Requirements to perform specific tests or medical procedures prior to an abortion
    • Requirements that direct health providers to provide medically inaccurate information before or during abortion services
    • Limitations on the health care provider's ability to provide drugs to the patient
    • Limitations preventing the health care provider from performing abortion services via telemedicine
    • Limitations placed on abortion providing facilities that are not placed on hospitals and other facilities where similar procedures are performed
    • Requirements that the patient attend medically unnecessary pre-abortion in-person office visits
    • Limitations on abortions "at any point or points in time prior to fetal viability"
    • Limitations on abortions "after fetal viability when, in the good-faith medical judgement of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient's life or health."
    • Requirements that patients disclose the reason they want an abortion prior to fetal viability.
  • Allows the courts to consider the following in determining if a requirement illegally impedes access to abortion services:
    • If the requirement interferes with a health care providers ability to provide care and services or poses a risk to the patient's health or safety
    • If the requirement would likely delay or deter some patients from accessing abortion services
    • If the requirement is likely to increase the financial costs of providing or obtaining abortion services
    • If the requirement would likely limit the availability of abortion services in a State or geographic region
    • If the requirement imposes penalties on health care providers that are not imposed on or are more severe than penalties imposed on other health care providers for comparable conduct or failures to act

Section 4: Applicability and Preemption

  • This law would apply to the Federal Government and "each State government" and no State government can implement and enforce any law or regulation that conflicts with this law.
  • The law would not govern physical access to clinic entrances, insurance coverage for abortions, contracts, or bans on partial birth abortions.

Section 5: Effective Date

  • Immediately upon enactment.

Section 7: Enforcement

  • Allows the Attorney General to sue any State or government official who implements or enforcement limitations or requirements that would be prohibited by this law.
  • Allows individuals, "entities", and health care providers adversely affected by violations of the law to also sue the State that violates the law with illegal limitations and requirements
  • The costs of the trial and attorney's fees would be paid by the State if the State loses the case. The person suing could not be forced to pay for attorney's fees if the claim was judged to be "non-frivolous" even if they lose.

H.R. 1797 (113th): Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

Sponsor: Trent Franks (R-AZ)
Status: Died in 113th Congress

Audio Sources

Senate Session

May 10, 2022

View Clip Transcripts in Jen’s Highlighted PDF

House Session

September 24, 2021

View Clip Transcripts in Jen’s Highlighted PDF

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

May 22, 2022
CD251: BIF: Driving Dangers Sustained
The recently signed infrastructure law continues the United States’ over-reliance on the most dangerous way to travel: driving a vehicle. Did Congress make sufficient safety improvements to decrease the dangers posed by driving in the United States? This episode will examine all vehicle-related safety provisions to help you weigh your own transportation options.

Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links

  • Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal
  • Support Congressional Dish via Patreon (donations per episode)
  • Send Zelle payments to:
  • Send Venmo payments to: @Jennifer-Briney
  • Send Cash App payments to: $CongressionalDish or
  • Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North, Number 4576, Crestview, FL 32536.
Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish

Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

View the Show Notes on our Website at

Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD246: BIF: Appalachian Chemical Storage

CD247: BIF: The Growth of US Railroads

CD240: BIF: The Infrastructure BILL

CD021: Trailblazer vs. ThinThread

Why You Should Be Afraid of Cars

“Number of worldwide air traffic fatalities from 2006 to 2021.” Apr 12, 2022. Statista.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Mar 2022. “Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2020.” U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Number of deaths / injuries directly linked to boating accidents in the U.S. from 2002 to 2020.” Jun 2021. Statista.

Injury Facts. “Railroad Deaths and Injuries.” National Safety Council.

Jon Ziomek. Sept 28, 2020. “Disaster on Tenerife: History’s Worst Airline Accident.” Historynet.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Distracted Driving.” U.S. Department of Transportation.

Problems the Law Does (and Does Not) Address

Jake Blumgart. Nov 15, 2021. “The Infrastructure Bill May Not Be So Historic After All.” Governing.

Self Driving Cars

Neal E. Boudette. May 3, 2022. “Paying customers could hail driverless taxis in San Francisco later this year.” San Francisco Examiner.

Natasha Yee. Apr 1, 2022. “Waymo Bringing Driverless Vehicles to Downtown Phoenix ... Soon.” Phoenix New Times.

“24 Self-Driving Car Statistics & Facts.” Feb 20, 2022. Carsurance.

Neal E. Boudette. Jul 5, 2021. “Tesla Says Autopilot Makes Its Cars Safer. Crash Victims Say It Kills.” The New York Times.

Clifford Law Offices PC. May 5, 2021. “The Dangers of Driverless Cars.” The National Law Review.

Katie Shepherd and Faiz Siddiqui. Apr. 19, 2021. “A driverless Tesla crashed and burned for four hours, police said, killing two passengers in Texas.” The Washington Post.

Riley Beggin. Jan 15, 2021. “Self-Driving Vehicles Allowed to Skip Some Crash Safety Rules.” Government Technology.

Faiz Siddiqui. Oct 22, 2020. “Tesla is putting ‘self-driving’ in the hands of drivers amid criticism the tech is not ready.” The Washington Post.

Niraj Chokshi. Feb 25, 2020. “Tesla Autopilot System Found Probably at Fault in 2018 Crash.” The New York Times.

Michael Laris. Feb 11, 2020. “Tesla running on ‘Autopilot’ repeatedly veered toward the spot where Apple engineer later crashed and died, federal investigators say.” The Washington Post.

Alex Davies. May 16, 2019. “Tesla’s Latest Autopilot Death Looks Just Like a Prior Crash.” Wired.

Neal E. Boudette and Bill Vlasic. Sept 12, 2017. “Tesla Self-Driving System Faulted by Safety Agency in Crash.” The New York Times.

Rachel Abrams and Annalyn Kurtz. Jul 1, 2016. “Joshua Brown, Who Died in Self-Driving Accident, Tested Limits of His Tesla.” The New York Times.

Alcohol Detection Systems

Isaac Serna-Diez. Nov 23, 2021. “Alcohol Detection Systems Will Now Be Mandatory In All New Cars To Prevent Drunk Driving. YourTango.

Keyless Entry Carbon Monoxide Deaths

“Toyota Introduces Automatic Engine Shut Off to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Deaths.” Jun 20, 2019. Kelley Uustal Trial Attorneys.

“Toyota Has the Most Keyless Ignition Related Deaths, But Takes no Action.” Jun 7, 2019.

Kids Left in Cars

Morgan Hines. Aug 2, 2019. “There's science behind why parents leave kids in hot cars.” USA Today.

Scottie Andrew and AJ Willingham. July 30, 2019. “More than 38 kids die in hot cars every year, and July is the deadliest month.” CNN.

John Bacon. Jul 28, 2019. “'He will never forgive himself': Wife defends husband in devastating hot car deaths of twins.” USA Today.

Eric Stafford. May 6, 2019. [“Children Can Die When Left in the Back Seat on a Warm Day—and 800 Already Have. “Children Can Die When Left in the Back Seat on a Warm Day—and 800 Already Have.” Car and Driver.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Child Heatstroke Prevention: Prevent Hot Car Deaths.” U.S. Department of Transportation.

Motorcycle Helmets

“Motorcycle helmet use laws by state.” May 2022. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“Facts + Statistics: Motorcycle crashes.” Insurance Information Institute.
Adam E. M. Eltorai et. al. March 16, 2016. “Federally mandating motorcycle helmets in the United States.” BMC Public Health.

Truck Safety

“How Many Miles Do Semi Trucks Last?” Rechtien.

Non-motorist Safety

“Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2020 Preliminary Data.” Governors Highway Safety Association.

“Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2020 Preliminary Data.” [Full Report] March 2021. Governors Highway Safety Association.

John Wenzel. Jan 6, 2020. “Bollard Installation Cost.” Saint Paul Sign & Bollard.

Richard Peace. Feb 20, 2019. “Why You Don’t Want a Superfast Electric Bicycle.” Electric Bike Report.

911 System Upgrades

Mark L. Goldstein. January 2018. “Next Generation 911: National 911 Program Could Strengthen Efforts to Assist States” [GAO-18-252]. Government Accountability Office.

National 911 Program. December 2016. “2016 National 911 Progress Report.” U.S. Department of Transportation.

CD021: Trailblazer vs. ThinThread Followup

“Michael Hayden, Principal, Strategic Advisory Services.” The Chertoff Group.

“Board of Directors.” Atlantic Council.

Tim Shorrock. Apr 15 2013. “Obama’s Crackdown on Whistleblowers.” The Nation.

The Law

H.R.3684 - Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Senate Version

Law Outline



Subtitle A - Authorizations and Programs

Sec. 11101: Authorization of Appropriations

  • Authorizes appropriations for Federal-Aid for highways at between $52 billion and $56 billion per year through fiscal year 2026 (over $273 billion total).
  • Authorizes $300 million for "charging and fueling infrastructure grants" for 2022, which increases by $100 million per year (maxing out at $700 million in 2026)
  • Authorizes between $25 million and $30 million per year for "community resilience and evacuation route grants" on top of equal amounts for "at risk coastal infrastructure grants"
  • Authorizes a total of $6.53 billion (from two funds) for the bridge investment program

Sec. 11102: Obligation Ceiling

  • Caps the annual total funding from all laws (with many exceptions) that can be spent on Federal highway programs.
    • Total through 2026: $300.3 billion

Sec. 11111: Highway Safety Improvement Program

  • Adds protected bike lanes to the list of projects allowed to be funded by the highway safety improvement project
  • Adds "vulnerable road users" (non-motorists) to the list of people who must be protected by highway safety improvement projects
    • If 15% or more of a state's annual crash fatalities are made up of non-motorists, that state will be required to spend at least 15% of its highway safety improvement project money on projects designed to improve safety for non-motorists.
    • Each state, by the end of 2023, will have to complete a vulnerable road user safety assessment that includes specific information about each non-motorist fatality and serious injury in the last five years, identifies high-risk locations, and identifies possible projects and strategies for improving safety for non-motorists in those locations.

Sec. 11119: Safe Routes to School

  • Creates a new program to improve the ability of children to walk and ride their bikes to school by funding projects including sidewalk improvements, speed reduction improvements, crosswalk improvements, bike parking, and traffic diversions away from schools.
  • Up to 30% of the money can be used for public awareness campaigns, media relations, education, and staffing.
  • No additional funding is provided. It will be funded with existing funds for "administrative expenses". Each state will get a minimum of $1 million.
  • Non-profit organizations are eligible, along with local governments, to receive and spend the funding. Non-profits are the only entities eligible to receive money for educational programs about safe routes to school.

Sec. 11130: Public Transportation

  • Allows the Transportation Secretary to allocate funds for dedicated bus lanes

Sec. 11133: Bicycle Transportation and Pedestrian Walkways

  • Adds "shared micromobility" projects (like bike shares) to the list of projects that can be funded as a highway project
    • Electric bike-share bikes must stop assisting the rider at a maximum of 28 mph to be classified as an "electric bicycle"

Subtitle B - Planning and Performance

Sec. 11206: Increasing Safe and Accessible Transportation Options.

  • Requires each state, in return for funding, to carry out 1 or more project to increase accessible for multiple travel modes. The projects can be...
    • The enactment of "complete streets standards" (which ensure the safe and adequate accommodation of all users of the transportation system)
    • Connections of bikeways, pedestrian walkways, and public transportation to community centers and neighborhoods
    • Increasing public transportation ridership
    • Improving safety of bike riders and pedestrians
    • Intercity passenger rail
  • There's a way for State's to get this requirement waived if they already have Complete Streets standards in place

Subtitle D - Climate Change

Sec. 11404: Congestion Relief Program

  • Creates a grant program, funded at a minimum of $10 million per grant, for projects aimed at reducing highway congestion. Eligible projects include congestion management systems, fees for entering cities, deployment of toll lanes, parking fees, and congestion pricing, operating commuter buses and vans, and carpool encouragement programs.
  • Buses, transit, and paratransit vehicles "shall" be allowed to use toll lanes "at a discount rate or without charge"

Subtitle E - Miscellaneous

Sec. 11502: Stopping Threats on Pedestrians

  • By the end of 2022, the Secretary of Transportation needs to create a competitive grant pilot program to fund "bollard installation projects", which are projects that raise concrete or metal posts on a sidewalk next to a road that are designed to slow or stop a motor vehicle.
  • The grants will pay for 100% of the project costs
  • Appropriates only $5 million per year through 2026

Sec. 11504: Study of Impacts on Roads from Self-driving Vehicles

  • By early 2023, the Transportation Department has to conduct a study on the existing and future effects of self-driving cars on infrastructure, mobility, the environment, and safety.

Sec. 11529: Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program

  • Creates a grant program authorized for $1 billion total that will fund walking and biking infrastructure projects that each cost $15 million or more and connect communities to each other, including communities in different states, and to connect to public transportation.
  • The Federal government will pay for 80% of the project costs, except in communities with a poverty rate over 40% (the Federal government will pay 100% of the project costs in impoverished communities).


Sec. 23010: Automatic Emergency Braking: Automatic Emergency Braking

  • A Federal regulation will be created by November 2023 which will require new commercial vehicles to be equipped with automatic braking systems and there will be performance standards for those braking systems.

Sec. 23022: Apprenticeship Pilot Program

  • Creates a three year pilot program, capped at 3,000 participants at a time, for people under 21 to be trained by people over the age of 26 to become commercial truck drivers.
  • Drivers under the age of 21 are not allowed to transport any passengers or hazardous cargo

Sec. 23023: Limousine Compliance With Federal Safety Standards

  • A Federal regulation will be created by November 2023 requiring that limousines have a seat belts at every seating position, including side facing seats.


Subtitle A - Highway Traffic Safety

Sec. 24102: Highway Safety Programs

  • Prohibit the Federal Government from withholding highway safety money to the states that refuse to require helmets for motorcycle drivers or passengers who are over the age of 18.

Sec. 24103: Highway Safety Research and Development

  • Creates a grant program (by November 2023) that will fund states that want to create a process for notifying vehicle owners about any open recalls on their cars when they register their cars with the DMV.
    • The state receiving the money is only required to provide the notifications for two years and participation in general is voluntary.
  • Creates financial incentives for states to create laws that prohibit drivers from holding "a personal wireless communications device" while driving, has fines for breaking that law, and has no exemptions for texting when stopped in traffic.
    • There are exceptions for using a cell phone for navigation in a "hands-free manner"
  • Creates financial incentives for states to create laws that require curriculum in driver's education courses to include information about law enforcement procedures during traffic stops and the rights and responsibilities of the drivers when being stopped. The states would also have to have training programs for the officers for implementing the procedures that would be explained to drivers.

Sec. 24113: Implementation of GAO Recommendations

  • Requires the Secretary of Transportation to implement all of the national-level recommendations outlined in a 2018 GAO report by the end of November 2022.

Subtitle B - Vehicle Safety

Sec. 24201: Authorization of Appropriations

  • Authorizes a little over $1 billion total for vehicle safety programs from 2022 through 2026

Sec. 24205: Automatic Shutoff

  • By November 2023, the Transportation Department will have to issue a regulation requiring fossil fuel powered vehicles with keyless ignitions to have an automatic shutoff system to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • The amount of time that must trigger the shut off will be determined by the regulators.
  • If the regulation is issued on time, this would go into effect most likely on September 1, 2024.

Sec. 24208: Crash Avoidance Technology

  • The Secretary of Transportation must issue a regulation establishing minimum standards for crash avoidance technology that must be included in all vehicles sold in the United States starting on a date that will be chosen by the Secretary of Transportation.
    • The technology must alert the driver of an imminent crash and apply the breaks automatically if the driver doesn't do so.
    • The technology must include a land departure system that warns the driver that they are not in their lane and correct the course of travel if the driver doesn't do so.

Sec. 24215: Emergency Medical Services and 9-1-1

  • Repeals the part of the law that required the Transportation Department to publish criteria that established timelines and performance requirements for anyone who got a grant to implement the Next Generation 9-1-1 project.

Sec. 24220: Advanced Impaired Driving Technology

  • By November 2024, the Secretary of Transportation will have to finish a regulation that requires passenger motor vehicles to be standard equipped with "advanced and impaired driving prevention technology"
    • The technology must be able to monitor the performance of a driver and/or their blood alcohol level and be able to prevent or limit the car's operation if impairment is detected or if the blood alcohol is above the legal limit.
  • This will apply to new cars sold after November 2030 at the latest.

Sec. 24222: Child Safety

  • By November 2023, the Secretary of Transportation must finish a regulation requiring all new passenger vehicles to have a system alerting the driver visually and audibly to check the back seat when the car is turned off.
    • Says it will be activated "when the vehicle motor is deactivated by the operator"


The Road Ahead for Automated Vehicles

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
February 2, 2022

Overview: The purpose of this hearing is for Members of the Subcommittee to explore the impact of automated vehicle deployment, including automated trucks and buses, on mobility, infrastructure, safety, workforce, and other economic and societal implications or benefits.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

May 08, 2022
CD250: Congress Saves the Postal Service

Congress did a good thing! In this encouraging episode, learn about a new law that saved the Postal Service from financial doom without spending one extra penny in taxpayer money. Then, listen to the highlights from a recent hearing about the electrification of the Postal Service’s vehicle fleet. Louis DeJoy may not have sabotaged the 2020 election, but is he sabotaging the effort to transition the Postal Service away from fossil fuels?

Executive Producer: Stephen McMahan

Executive Producer: Jose Huerta

Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links

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Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish

Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD220: Postal Service Sabotage


Open Secrets. Bill Profile: H.R. 3076. “Specific Issues Reports for H.R.3076 by: Blue Cross/Blue Shield, 117th Congress.”

Open Secrets. Bill Profile: H.R. 3076. “Clients Lobbying on H.R.3076: Postal Service Reform Act of 2021.”

Open Secrets. Darrell Issa: Federal Congressional Candidacy Data “Contributors 1997 - 2022.”

Jon Stewart Podcast

“Jon Talks about the Media -- and It Talks Back.” March 24, 2022. The Problem with Jon Stewart.

The Law

H.R. 3076: Postal Service Reform Act of 2022

Full Text


Cost Estimate

House Vote Breakdown: 342-92 (All no votes GOP)

Senate Vote Breakdown: 79-19 (All no votes GOP)

H.R.6407 - Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act

Became law on December 20, 2006

Vote Breakdown

Audio Sources

It’s Electric! Developing the Postal Service Fleet of the Future

House Committee on Oversight and Reform
April 5, 2022

The Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing to examine the benefits, opportunities, and challenges of electrifying the Postal Service fleet through the acquisition of the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV).


Tammy L. Whitcomb, Inspector General, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General
Victoria K. Stephen, Executive Director, Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, USPS
Kenny Stein, Director, Policy, Institute for Energy Research
Jill Naamane, Acting Director, Physical Infrastructure Team, General Services Administration
Joe Britton, Executive Director, Zero Emission Transportation Association


10:00 Rep. James Comer (R-KY): While Republicans are not against the Postal Service acquiring electric vehicles, we're against mandates that ignore the business needs and the financial situation of the Postal Service. Republicans believe the postal service must be self funded. This means the Postal Service should pay for its own capital needs, like purchasing new vehicles. Meanwhile, Americans can't afford to fill up their gas tanks, let alone buy an electric vehicle. But that isn't stopping Democrats from demanding your mailman has one.

26:30 Tammy L. Whitcomb: Last February, the Postal Service awarded a contract to produce and deploy up to 165,000 new delivery vehicles over the next 10 years. While the contract allows for both electric and gasoline powered vehicles, the Postal Service's current plan is for most of the new vehicles to be gasoline powered. We have two recent reports related to this purchasing decision. One of our reports was a research paper that identified the opportunities and challenges for the Postal Service in adopting these electric vehicles. We found electric vehicles are well suited for most postal routes, and there are clear benefits to their adoption. For example, a large fleet of electric vehicles would help the Postal Service decrease its greenhouse gas emissions and encourage the growth of the electric vehicle market in the United States. Additionally, electric vehicles are more mechanically reliable than gas powered vehicles and require less scheduled maintenance. They would also result in the Postal Service incurring lower and more reliable and stable energy costs. However, there are challenges associated with adopting an electric vehicle fleet. The upfront costs are significantly higher than gasoline powered vehicles. The Postal Service would need to pay a higher per vehicle price and incur the cost of installing the charging infrastructure. The Postal Service has over 17,000 delivery units that may host electric vehicles and the cost and issues associated with installing charging infrastructure will vary by each depending on the parking layout, power availability and required upgrades. Good planning along with early and consistent communication with local governments and utility companies could help overcome these challenges. We found the Postal Service could save money in the long term by deploying electric vehicles on certain routes. For example on longer routes in in areas of the country where gas prices are traditionally higher. The Postal Service might also be able to lower the costs associated with electric vehicles by exploring different mixes of the type and number of chargers. Because many delivery routes are short, it is unlikely that every vehicle would need to plug into a charger every night. There are two other factors that could significantly change the cost benefit analysis of purchasing electric vehicles: federal funding and local incentives. The Postal Service has stated it could achieve full electrification of its delivery fleet if Congress provided $6.9 billion. Incentive programs by local utility companies might also help offset costs.

33:57 Victoria Stephen: Any mix of replacement vehicles will deliver significant reductions in emissions and improvements in fuel economy over our existing long-life vehicles. I would note, however, that we have 12,500 routes over 70 miles in length that are not candidates for electrification today, and another 5000 that require all wheel drive vehicles due to extreme climate conditions. Electrification also comes with the challenge of installing infrastructure at a multitude of postal facilities.

42:36 Jill Naamane: Last month, the Postal Service ordered 50,000 new delivery vehicles including about 10,000 that will be electric. To inform its decision, USPS conducted a total cost of ownership analysis of a range of types of vehicles. information in this analysis included the maintenance and fuel costs of each vehicle. It also developed a model that recommends the lowest cost vehicle for each delivery route, and a mix of vehicles to purchase each year. The model is based on a set of assumptions including information from the total cost of ownership analysis and details on individual delivery routes.

43:28 Jill Naamane: Our preliminary analysis of the model raises questions about the way in which certain assumptions estimate the costs and benefits of the gas and electric vehicles. I'll highlight a few examples. First, the model we reviewed used a 2020 gas price that is almost $2 per gallon less than the current national average.

43:57 Jill Naamane: Second, the model appears to assume maintenance would be more expensive for electric vehicles than gas. This is inconsistent with research we have identified, our interviews with private delivery companies, and Postal Service documents that show electric vehicles are expected to be less expensive to maintain.

44:16 Jill Naamane: Third, the total cost of ownership analysis does not include a reduction in emissions as a benefit of electric vehicles. A separate USPS Environmental Impact Statement found that with no tailpipe emissions, electric vehicles would have this benefit.

44:40 Jill Naamane: I'll turn now to factors that have so far affected the widespread acquisition of electric vehicles in federal fleets. We've previously reported that these factors include the higher upfront costs of electric vehicles and uncertainties around the cost and installation of charging infrastructure. Our ongoing work indicates that these factors remain relevant. For example, USPS officials said the higher upfront cost was a key factor in their decision making. They estimate that the new electric and gas delivery vehicles will not cost the same until 2031. In addition, USPS estimates a range in the cost of installing chargers depending on the site and it is uncertain whether older facilities have sufficient power capacity to support the charging infrastructure.

51:50 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): On March 24, the Postal Service placed its first purchase order of 50,000 vehicles with Oshkosh. And although the Postal Service initially insisted it could buy only 5000 electric vehicles in this first order, it doubled that amount to 10,000 after this committee and others began to ask questions. So I'd first like to ask Miss Steven, can you briefly explain what changed the Postal Service's analysis to allow for the increase of EVs in this purchase order? Victoria Stephen: Yes, thank you for the question. The first thing that that it's important to note is that the Postal Service has committed to continuing to reassess changes in the market. And so the point that you and some of the other speakers have made today about changing fuel prices…$2.19 was the price at the time that we prepared the analysis, we have continued to do ongoing analysis on changing fuel prices and sensitivity analysis to determine if that change is our mix. It certainly does. The gas prices are higher today than they were when we prepared the initial analysis. So that's one factor. The other key factor is that through the efforts of you and your colleagues, postal reform is making a big difference for the Postal Service. It allows us the flexibility to consider our capital position differently than prior to the passage of postal reform. So between those two key variables, we were able to go back and assess our ability to increase the proportion of electric vehicles within our financial resources and within our means, and we're happy to do that.

1:44:00 Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA): What would the Postal Service do right now if a postal service vehicle runs out of fuel on its route? Victoria Stephen: A conventional vehicle today? Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA): Yes, yes, ma'am. Victoria Stephen: Yeah, we will call our local team and they would— Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA): And you’d bring in gas pretty quick, wouldn’t you? Victoria Stephen: That’s right. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA): What do you what are you going to do it for the electric postal service vehicle runs out of juice? Victoria Stephen: It’s more challenging— Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA): You’re gonna have to tow it. So listen, I say to my colleagues across the aisle, maybe the time has come for this discussion, but let's have it honestly. It’s not going to work. We're spending billions of dollars of the people's treasury to accomplish some dream. Not to mention what my colleague has brought up: the raw materials for these batteries being mined by child slave labor overseas. That raw product bought by China is assembled into the finished product by slave labor in China. Do we support that? For God's sakes, let's take a step back. As a committee, we owe it to the American people that we serve to take a hard look at this thing.

2:01:06 Rep. Glen Grothman (R-WI): Some of my colleagues proposed requiring 75% of the vehicles to be electric. Do you think that's a reasonable possibility? Do you think that's really something that could be handled right now? Victoria Stephen: I think it's a bit beyond what our estimates say is possible. When we were asked by some of the congressional committee members and staff throughout the last year to assess how far we could go with our electrification, the response we provided was 70% of our delivery fleet acquisitions over the course of the decade could be electrified if resources were made available.

3:16:05 Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA): And then there's the problem with the Postal Service assumptions about EV range, a 70 mile vehicle range. In your extensive work in this field, including the vehicles that companies like GM, Ford and rivian? are providing to private fleets, did USPS use the correct assumption about battery range? Joe Britton: No, it is far inconsistent with what we're seeing in the marketplace and I'll give you a couple examples. The Ford eTransit van? gets nearly two miles per kilowatt hour in the battery pack. The workhorse C Series? gets one and a half miles per kilowatt hour in the battery pack. The Arrival van that is being contracted with UPS gets 1.7 miles per kilowatt hour in the battery pack. The USPS assumption is that this vehicle gets seven tenths of a mile per kilowatt hour in the battery pack. The only other vehicle that we have seen that has that inefficient of an electric drive train would be a Class A tractor trailer or semi truck fully weighted down. It is impossible [unintelligible] -- Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA): And if the model used the correct range assumptions, wouldn't that significantly affect the total cost of ownership analysis, including the number of charging stations needed to support these vehicles? Joe Britton: That's correct. You would not need nearly as many charging stations as the Postal Service is asserting.

3:20:12 Rep. James Comer (R-KY): It's a worthy cause to try to change to try to transfer from fossil fuels to electric vehicles. But the policies in the Biden administration are making that even more difficult than the economics of it. For example, the Biden administration war on coal is making it more difficult to mine coal and to burn coal. I know that from being from a coal burning state and a coal producing state. You have to have coal to make electricity. You also have to have natural gas to make electricity. We have a lot of problems with our energy policy in America from the Biden administration. And he's gonna make electrifying vehicles even more difficult.

Senate Session

February 8, 2022

Highlighted PDF


20:40 Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): Because the Postal Service is required to deliver to every American even on unprofitable routes. The postal service may be charging lower than market rates in its service contracts with private companies. This may not only shortchange the Postal Service making further taxpayer bailouts likely, but it could also distort competition in the package delivery market.

22:45 Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): Senator Scott's amendment would alleviate some of the financial burdens that this bill would impose on taxpayers and the Medicare program by forcing the Postal Service to reimburse Medicare for all of the additional costs that would be created by requiring future postal retirees to enroll in Medicare.

2:38:33 Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): I would also like to note what this bill does not do because there has been some misinformation out there. One, it does not appropriate new funds to the post office, period. Two, it does not change the accounting or costing structure for packages and letters so it does not disadvantage private-sector carriers. That is very important to me. This is the status quo that we are putting in place here. It does not change the accounting or costing structure for packages and letters. Third, it does not allow the Postal Service to enter into new commercial services like postal banking. That is also very important to me. And contrary to the claims of this bill’s opponents, this bill does not impact the solvency of the Medicare hospital trust fund. That is the trust fund we all talk about. It is going belly-up in 2026. It does not affect it, period. CBO has actually written us something saying that, but it just makes sense. People are already in Part A. And this bill does not increase the Medicare Part B and Part D premiums based on the CBO analysis. Why? Partly because it is such a small number of people. Only 25 percent of postal employees were not already in Part B and Part D, so additional ones make very little difference. But part of it is they are paying their premiums.

House Session

February 8, 2022

Highlighted PDF


37:10 Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA): The fact is they haven't made a profit since 2006 as they are mandated. The truth is, the post office isn't lacking liquidity, it is bankrupt and nothing in this bill will make the post office truly solvent. It simply wipes out and wipes away debts and shifts the burden onto taxpayers. The bill forgives $46 billion in debts owed by the Postal Service, forcing the taxpayers to pay it.

House Committee on Oversight and Reform Business Meeting

May 13, 2021


44:45 Rep. Speier (D-CA): Believe it or not, prohibition has been over for 90 years, but somehow, we never fixed it so that the US Postal Service could be in a position to mail and process liquor and wine. So for 90 years, they have had their hands tied, while others were able to do that task. We can't have the Postal Service break even or even become profitable if we keep tying its hands. So we also have an interest in protecting small businesses, micro breweries, small retail establishments, small wineries. They cannot ship their product because they either have to have the sanctions of the wholesalers or they don't ship.

Hearing: Examining the Finances and Operations of the United States Postal Service During COVID-19 and Upcoming Elections

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
August 21, 2020

Watch on YouTube


12:30 Louis DeJoy: Our business model established by the Congress requires us to pay our bills through our own efforts. I view it as my personal obligation to put the organization in a position to fulfill that mandate. With action from the Congress and our regulator, and significant effort by the Postal Service, we can achieve this goal. This year, the Postal Service will likely be reported loss of more than $9 billion. Without change, our losses will only increase in the years to come. It is vital that Congress enact reform legislation that addresses our unaffordable retirement payments. Most importantly, Congress must allow the postal service to integrate our retiree health benefits program with Medicare.

Hearing: Financial State of U.S. Postal Service

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
August 6, 2009


John Potter, Former Postmaster General
David Williams, Former Inspector General, USPS


46:10 David Williams: The Postal accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 requires the postal service to make 10 annual payments of $5 billion each in addition to the $20 billion already set aside for pre funding its retiree health benefits, the size of the $5 billion payments has little foundation and the current payment method is damaging to the financial viability of the Postal Service even in profitable times. The payment amounts were not actuarially based instead, the required payments were built to ensure that the Postal Act did not affect the federal budget deficit. This seems inexplicable since the Postal Service is not part of the federal budget, does not receive an appropriation for operations and makes its money from the sale of postal services. The payment amounts are fixed through 2016 and do not reflect the funds earnings. Estimates of the Postal Service liability as a result of changing economic circumstances, declining staff size or developments in health Care and pharmaceutical industries. The payments do not take into account the Postal Service’s ability to pay and are too challenging even in normal times.

1:10:10 John Potter: And when I look around the world and see what other posts are, if you’re in Australia and you want to update your driver’s license, renew it, you go to the post office. If you’re in Italy and you go into a bank, more than likely going to the post office, if you’re in Japan and you want to buy insurance, more than likely you’re going to the post office. And if you’re in France and you have a cell phone issue, more than likely, again, you’re going to the post office.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Apr 24, 2022
CD249: A Few Good Laws

We have some new laws! In this episode, a brief overview of the government funding law that (finally) funds the government for 2022 and provides money and weapons to Ukraine, a new law that protects drinking water, a new law that slightly reduces the corruption of Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board, and a new law that guarantees you rights that corporate contracts have been taking away.

Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links

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Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish

Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

Executive Producer Recommended Congressional Dish Episode

CD076: Weapons for the World

Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD248: Understanding the Enemy

CD244: Keeping Ukraine

CD229: Target Belarus

CD170: Electrifying Puerto Rico

CD147: Controlling Puerto Rico

CD128: Crisis in Puerto Rico

Recommended Congressional Dish YouTube Videos

What is the World Trade System?

Revolution of Dignity or Regime Change? Ukraine 2014 Explained.


Jamie Dupree on Twitter

Jamie Dupree. Mar 10, 2022. “Russian oil ban heads to Senate.” Regular Order by Jamie Dupree.

Continuing Resolution

Mary Ellen McIntire. Mar 9, 2022. “House Democrats’ retreat upended by spending bill delays.” Roll Call.

Ballotpedia. Updated February 11, 2021. “Election results, 2020: Incumbent win rates by state.”

Red Hill Water Contamination

Sophia McCullough. Mar 7, 2022. “Pentagon to permanently shut down leaking Red Hill fuel tank facility.” Hawai’i Public Radio.

Scott Kim. Mar 4, 2022. “Tap water declared safe for 3 more Pearl Harbor neighborhood zones.” Hawai’i Public Radio.

Sophia McCullough. Mar 1, 2022. “Confused about the timeline for the Red Hill fuel storage facility and contaminated water? Read this.” Hawai’i Public Radio.

Associated Press, HPR News Staff. Nov 22, 2021. “Navy says 14K gallons of fuel and water leaked from a 'drain line' near the Red Hill facility.” Hawai’i Public Radio.

Scott Kim and Catherine Cruz. Oct 27, 2021. “Navy says operator error was the cause of a May fuel leak from the Red Hill storage facility.” Hawai’i Public Radio.

Lead Pipes

Karen Pinchin. Sep 10, 2019. “The EPA Says Flint’s Water is Safe — Scientists Aren’t So Sure.” Frontline.

Brittany Greeson. “Lead Pipes Are Widespread and Used in Every State.” Natural Resources Defense Council.

Puerto Rico

Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico

U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. Feb 18, 2019. “Informative Motion Regarding Publication and Filing of Final Investigative Report – McKinsey & Company, Inc.” Case: 17-03283-LTS.

Forced Arbitration

Matt Stoller. Mar 7, 2022. “Monopolies Take a Fifth of Your Wages.” BIG.


H.R.2471 - Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022

House Vote
Senate Vote

Law Outline


Title VII: General Provisions

Sec. 8139: $300 million from the "Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide" account must be used for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative

  • The money can be used for "salaries and stipends" of Ukraine's military in addition to equipment and support

Sec. 8140: Prohibitions against Russia will not be lifted until "the armed forces of the Russian Federation have withdrawn from Crimea, other than armed forces present on military bases" agreed upon by the Russian and Ukrainian governments.

Sec. 8141: "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to provide arms, training or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.


Title VII: General Provisions

Sec. 7047: "None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be made available for the implementation of any action or policy that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea or other territory in Ukraine." This will end when the Secretary of State certifies that "the Government of Ukraine has reestablished sovereignty over Crimea and other territory in Ukraine under the control of Russian-backed separatists."


Title I: Department of Agriculture

  • $100 million for Food for Peace grants

Title III: Department of Defense

  • $195.5 million for US military personnel
  • $213 million for Air Force procurement
  • $5.5 billion for operations and maintenance
    • $3.5 billion of this is for replacing weapons given to Ukraine and for "defense services" and "military eduction and training" provided to the Government of Ukraine.

Title VI: Department of State

  • Authorizes $4 billion for direct loans to Ukraine and NATO countries, along with permission to reduce or cancel their obligations to pay us back. Amount provided this way "shall not be considered assistance for the purposes of provisions of law limiting assistance to a country"
  • $2.65 billion to countries housing Ukrainians refugees for emergency food and shelter
  • $1.4 billion for refugees
  • $1.12 billion for Ukraine and "other countries" - Poland and Hungary in particular - that are enacting IMF economic reforms and expanding the private sector
  • $650 million for the "foreign military financing program" for Ukraine "and countries impacted by the situation"
  • $647 million for the "Economic Support Fund" which can be transferred to fund activities "related to public engagement, messaging, and countering disinformation."
  • Expands the emergency powers of the President in 2022 to allow him to provide $3 billion in military equipment, services and money to foreign countries and international organizations, instead of the usual limit of $100 million per year
  • Increases the amount of weapons that are allowed to be exported from $2.05 billion to $3.1 billion
  • $120 million for "Transition Initiatives"

H.R.6617 - Further Additional Extending Government Funding Act

Law Outline


Sec. 101:

  • Extends government funding at 2021 levels until March 11, 2022.
  • Allows the Department of Defense to spend their Operations and Maintenance and emergency funds to respond to the Red Hill Bulk Storage Facility spill but caps the spending at $53 million.
  • Adds $250 million to their budget for 2022 to address drinking water contamination caused by the spill.
  • Adds $100 to their budget so they can comply with the Hawaii state order to remove the fuel from the Red Hill facility.

H.R.1192 - Puerto Rico Recovery Accuracy in Disclosures Act of 2021

House vote: 429-0
Senate: Unanimous Consent

Law Outline

Sec 2: Disclosure by Professional Persons Seeking Approval of Compensation Under Section 316 or 317 of PROMESA

  • Requires attorneys, accountants, appraisers, auctioneers, agents, and other professional persons to file a disclosure listing their conflicts of interest with debtors, creditors - or their attorneys and accountants - and the oversight board members, directors, and employees. Failure to file the disclosure, or an incomplete disclosure, will prevent that person from being paid. Being "not a disinterested person" or having an "adverse interest" will also disqualify that person from compensation.
  • This will only apply to cases filed AFTER enactment of this law (January 20, 2022)

H.R.4445 - Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021

Committee Report
House Debate

Law Outline

Sec. 2: Predispute Arbitration of Disputes Involving Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment.

  • Invalidates predispute arbitration clauses in contracts if the person alleging sexual harassment or sexual assault or a representative of a class action lawsuit elects to go to court instead of use arbitration. This will apply whether the case is to be filed in Federal, Tribal, or State court. The decision over where the case will be heard will be made by a court, not by an arbitrator regardless of what is in the contract.

Sec 3: Applicability

  • Will only apply to any dispute or claim that "arises or accrues" on or after the date of enactment.

Hearings and Debate

House Debate on H.R. 1192: Puerto Rico Recovery Accuracy in Disclosures Act of 2021

February 23, 2022

Highlighted PDF of debate on the house floor


  • 1:19:09 Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon: Representative Velazquez and myself have proposed this bipartisan initiative in the last two congresses having achieved passage in the house during the last session

  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX): In response to dire fiscal issues facing Puerto Rico at the time, Congress passed the Puerto Rico oversight management and economic stability Act, or Preska in 2016. That legislation established the financial oversight and management board with control over Puerto Rico's budget laws, financial plans and regulations and the authority to retain professionals to assist the board in executing its responsibilities.

  • Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY): The Puerto Rico recovery accuracy in disclosures act of 2021 or product eliminates a double standard currently facing Puerto Rico. On the US Code and federal bankruptcy procedure. Any conflicts of interest or even the perception of such conflict between those working on the bankruptcy and the debtor there are required to be disclosed. However, a loophole in the current law prevents this requirement from being extended to the people of Puerto Rico.

  • Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC): Most significantly the gap in the 2016 law created a potential for undisclosed compensation terms and undiscovered conflicts of interest visa vi parties and interest for professional serving in Puerto Rico's bankruptcy.

  • Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colon: Learning that someone was involved in businesses of one of the parties in the case only after they are named and working on the case does not create assurance of their commitment to the best interest of Puerto Rico or even managing the depth.

  • Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC): This builds disclosure and oversight requirements increase the likelihood that conflicts of interest will be caught and timely addressed before compensation decisions are made.

  • Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY): While we can have different opinions on how effectively the oversight board is carrying out its mission, one thing should be clear. The island's residents should be entitled to the same rights and protections of any debtor on the mainland.

House Debate on H.R.4445 - Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021

February 7, 2022

Highlighted PDF of debate on the house floor


  • 9:21 Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN): If H.R. 4445 becomes law contracts will be far less likely to include the option to arbitrate.

  • 10:28 Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN): Why are some in Congress so intent on taking this legislation forward today? For years, Democrats have tried to gut arbitration agreements for all kinds of different claims and plaintiffs. If Democrats had their way, everyone from consumers to civil rights plaintiffs, to those with antitrust claims, to individuals using financial service products and others would not be able to contract in advance to resolve disputes through arbitration.

  • 47:33 Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): We know that if parties can’t agree in advance to arbitrate then they are unlikely to agree to arbitrate after there has been a dispute. As a result, the plaintiff may never get to arbitration.

Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility: The Current Crisis, the Response, and the Way Forward

House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Readiness
January 11, 2022

This hearing conducted oversight into the Navy’s maintenance of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, the Navy’s investigation into and response to the November 2021 release of fuel from Red Hill facility impacting drinking water, its impacts on service members and civilians, clean-up and remediation efforts, and next steps forward.


  • Vice Admiral Yancy Lindsey, Commander, Navy Installations Command

  • Rear Admiral Blake Converse, Deputy Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet

  • Rear Admiral John K. Korka, Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Chief of Civil Engineers

  • Rear Admiral Peter Stamatopoulos, Supply Corps, United States Navy, Commander, Naval Supply Systems Command and 49th Chief of Supply Corps

  • Captain Michael McGinnis Pacific Fleet Surgeon, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet


  • 9:05 Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA): Why does Red Hill exist in the first place? Even before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States had grown concerned about the vulnerability of above ground fuel storage tanks in 1940. The construction began on the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility, a one in a kind engineering innovation that secured the fuel from enemy aerial attack. The facility holds 250 million gallons of fuel in 20 steel lined underground tanks encased in concrete. These tanks are connected to three gravity fed pipelines, running two and a half miles to Pearl Harbor fuel appears. However, a statistic less commonly quoted by the DoD is that the facility is also 100 feet above the groundwater aquifer that provides water to the residents of Oahu. Thus, it has always been the responsibility of the military to ensure that these tanks are maintained in a manner that not only protects the wartime fuel supply, but the people have a Oahu water supply

  • 18:45 Rear Admiral Blake Converse: I want to start by saying that the Navy caused this problem, we own it, and we're gonna fix it.

  • 19:45 Rear Admiral Blake Converse: Beginning on November 28, residents of certain neighborhoods on our Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam here in Hawaii in military housing began recording vapors, discoloration and contamination of the water provided by the Navy. The Red Hill shaft well, which sits near the Navy's Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility was immediately suspected to be the source of this contamination as that was the source of the drinking water for those affected neighborhoods. So it was shut down that evening, November 28. And it just remained isolated since that day. Later, samples from the Red Hill shaft well would confirm the presence of petroleum contamination.

  • 39:40 Captain Michael McGinnis: Medical teams have screened over 5900 patients during this event. The vast majority were conducted within the first two weeks of our response. patient's symptoms were consistent with an acute environmental exposure event. patient's symptoms consistent with the following nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, skin or eye irritation. Once patients were removed from the water source, the symptoms rapidly resolved.

  • 42:12 Rear Admiral Blake Converse: Our best information is that this recent spill was due to operator error.

  • 1:31:45 Rep. Kaiali'i Kahele (D-HI): Tanks number three, number four and number 11 have not been inspected for approximately 40 years. So my question to Navy Supply Systems Command is why are these tanks still in operation? And how can you assure this committee and the people of Hawaii that tanks three, four and 11, that have not even been looked at in the last 40 years, are safe to use and meet current API 653 guidelines for bulk fuel storage underground facilities. Rear Admiral Peter Stamatopoulos: Yes, sir. Thank you for the question. Yes, you are correct. There are tanks, as you mentioned, that have been out of periodicity for quite a long time.

  • 1:41:27 Rep. Jackie Speier: Are the commanding officers and our executive officers that are assigned to Red Hill trained in petroleum management? Rear Admiral Peter Stamatopoulos: I'll take that question ma'am. The answer is no.

Impact of Continuing Resolutions on the Department of Defense and Services

House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Defense
January 12, 2022


  • General David H. Berger, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps
  • General Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force
  • Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations of the U.S. Navy
  • General Joseph M. Martin, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army
  • Mike McCord, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)
  • General John W. Raymond, Chief of Space Operations of the U.S. Space Force


  • 29:51 Mike McCord: First, as I believe you're all aware a full year CR, we reduce our funding level below what we requested and what we believe we need. On the surface at the department level as a whole, the reduction to our accounts would appear to be about a billion dollars below our request, which would be significant. Even if that was the only impact. The actual reduction in practice will be much greater. Because we would have significant funding that's misaligned, trapped or frozen in the wrong places and unusable because we don't have the tools or flexibilities to realign funds on anything like the scam we would need to fix all the problems that the chiefs are going to describe.

  • 30:27 Mike McCord: I know all of you are very familiar with the fact that virtually all military construction projects in each year's budget including the FY 22 budget are new starts that cannot be executed under a CR.

  • 34:00 Mike McCord: The six longest CRs in the history of the Defense Department have all occurred in this last 12 year period. We have turned a 12 month fiscal year into an eight month fiscal year in terms of our ability to initiate new starts and enter contracts. This should be unacceptable and not the new normal. It's hard to see this full impact because or in the inefficiency from looking from outside because the organization has of course adapted to its circumstances just as organisms do. Nobody plans to enter into contracts in the first quarter of a fiscal year now because the odds that we would actually be able to do so are so low. Therefore we in turn, have no significant contract delays to report to you when we're under a CR.

  • 1:44:02 Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI): This is about decreasing domestic spending and increasing defense spending.

  • 1:44:20 **Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN):**This was my effort to quash those who are talking about year long CRs. No one on the Appropriations Committee is, yet you see things in the news. And unfortunately, sir, it's usually from your side of the aisle, and I'll pull it again. And it's a December 1 quote, and I can get you the gentlemen, the person who said it. Republicans should be in favor of a CR until Biden is out of office, so they're not going to talk about a one year CR. That would be the proper Republican thing to do. And anybody saying otherwise is deeply foolish. I know you and I, sir, do not agree with that sentiment. And my my goal here is to educate other members who don't understand the appropriations process as well as you and I, and many other of our colleagues that we serve alongside with.

Silenced: How Forced Arbitration Keeps Victims of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment in the Shadows

House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law
January 16, 2019


  • Eliza Dushku, Actor/Producer & Graduate Student
  • Myriam Gilles, Professor of Law, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
  • Lora Henry, Canton, OH
  • Andowah Newton, New York, NY
  • Sarah Parshall Perry, Legal Fellow, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation
  • Tatiana Spottiswoode, Law Student, Columbia Law School
  • Anna St. John, President and General Counsel, Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute


  • 30:59 Anna St. John: Instead, it's worth considering that taking away the possibility of arbitration for these victims is a top-down, heavy handed approach that denies them the advantages of arbitration as a means of adjudicating their claims.

  • 41:04 Sarah Parshall Perry: Since the 1980s, the progressive leadership of this and the upper chamber has sought to curtail the protections of the Federal Arbitration Act through bills including the Arbitration Fairness Act, Arbitration Fairness for Students Act, Consumer Mobile Fairness Act, Fairness and Nursing Homes Act, Sonsumer Fairness Act, Restoring Statutory Rights and Interests of the States Act, the Forced Arbitration Justice Repeal Act and many, many more.

  • 47:13 Sarah Parshall Perry: arbitration agreements are not mandatory. No one, and the Supreme Court has held, is forced to sign a contract. But curtailing access to arbitration would injure, in the end, the very people that Congress has sought for nearly a century to protect.

  • 54:50 Myriam Gilles: First, the entire regime is shrouded in secrecy. And not just because victims want to keep these issues confidential, which by the way is up to them, right? They should have the autonomy and the choice to decide. But because companies want to keep this stuff under wraps, they want to hide and shield sexual predators, and they don't want their business in the public eye. They don't want to deal with regulators or even with lawsuits. The secrecy here on its own just makes this a terrible way to deal with sexual harassment because it means that victims of sexual violence in the workplace who bravely tried to come forward are prohibited from telling their stories in a public forum. Instead, they're forced into this private process where everything is under wraps and siloed. Right, so this is the second bad thing. Victims can join together, even when their injuries stem from the same wrongdoing, even when they've occurred at the hands of the same perpetrator. Even when the company's tolerance for sexual harassment is structural and pervasive. Victims have to go it alone, never knowing about one another. They have to go into arbitration single file. I don't know where all these statistics are coming from about how great arbitration is how people win it all the time, because the truth is, no one goes into arbitration because it's siloed because it's secret because they don't know about what else is going on in the workplace. The secrecy that blankets these individualized proceedings prevents one victim from ever learning whether others right in the cubicle next to them might have experienced the same, the same tragedies, the same traumas and when vid when survivors are in the dark about cases filed by others in the workplace that makes coming forward that makes being the first person to come forward that much harder. As a corollary, and this is an important corollary, the relief that is available to the individual claimant doesn't prevent the wrongdoer from preying on other women doesn't prevent the predator from having all sorts of misconduct against other women in the workplace. The proceedings are one on one and the relief that arbitrators are allowed by contract to grant is individualized. They can't ever order any changes beyond what can help this one individual that happens to have the courage to come before them. I mean, can you imagine a worse system for dealing with toxic corporate culture because I can't. Third, and I think this is really important and all the survivors who've spoken about this forced arbitration is a system where the employers write the rules, and they pick the arbitral provider. Which means that victims of sexual harassment are shunted into a regime that stacked against them from the get go. First, because the arbitrators economic interest is to be very good to the repeat player employer so that they can be chosen for another arbitration next time. So the repeat player problem has been well documented, and I think it's alive and well in arbitration. And the secrecy protects that. And second, because the employer designs the entire arbitration process, it does so to serve its interests, not the interests of its workers, but its interests which again, are to keep discrimination and harassment under a veil of secrecy and out of the public eye. So given all of these things, given how bad this system is for victims of sexual harassment, it's no wonder that so few ever decide to go into private arbitration. I wouldn't. I think it sounds terrible.

  • 1:04:00 Myriam Gilles: When an arbitration complaint is filed, it's filed in secret. In other words, the only entities that know that the arbitration has even been filed are the the employer, the employer, the complaining employee and the arbitration entity. The AAA or JAMS are one of these arbitration providers. Nobody else knows. Contrast that with court. I go down to the DC District Court today and I file a complaint, that complaint is on the public record. Right. And so as the defendants answer or motion to dismiss all the pleadings, their public litigation in the public court system, it has power, and the power it has is the power of signaling, not only to the defendant that I've sued, but to all similarly situated defendants that this is a wrong. This person has complained about something she's told her story, and she plans to prove it. None of that happens in arbitration from the beginning. It is private throughout the entire proceeding, which is held in a secret location, no public no press. All of it is private. Arbitrators don't write decisions. There are only three states in the union that currently require minimal disclosure of arbitrations pretty redacted and hard to read. If you're a researcher like I am about these issues. Other than that, everything that happens in arbitration is a black box.

  • 1:32:18 Tatiana Spottiswoode: And the forced arbitration is so unfair. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA): I understand you you think forced arbitration is unfair, that's great. Most of the people on that side want to eliminate it for everything not just situations like this. Other representative: will the gentleman yield for a question? Rep. Darrell Issa: I will not.

  • 1:49:15 Myriam Gilles: The FAA was enacted in 1925. But it was enacted so that sophisticated business people could negotiate for arbitration provisions and those provisions would be respected by courts. It was never intended to be imposed via standard form contract. And in fact, if you read the legislative history, if you read the legislation, it accepts and exempts employees. So the idea that the FAA applies to employees is something that was created by a conservative majority of the Supreme Court in 1991, in a case called Circuit City, sorry, first actually was Gilmer and then Circuit City, I can't keep all the bad cases straight. And those are the cases in which the Court interpreted, I would say misinterpreted, the FAA to apply to employees like this. So that now employers can just stick these clauses into job applications, orientation materials, even an innocuous email from HR can include a forced arbitration clause. That was not what the 1925 Congress intended they they'd be rolled, they should be rolling in their in their grades. This is not what they intended. This is what a Supreme Court intent on protecting corporations intended beginning in the 1990s.

  • 2:39:26 Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN): You know what's happened to so many women and others in the workplace is terrible but I really am concerned that by involving the government in these contracts between adults in the area of sexual harassment and assault we're opening a door for more government involvement in other areas of contracts.

  • 2:42:09 Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN): And I would argue that you have you sign it it is not you know even though we use the it's forced arbitration as people are saying it's not really you you have signed something that you have agreed to it.

Justice Denied: Forced Arbitration and the Erosion of Our Legal System

House Committee on the Judiciary
November 16, 2021


  • Gretchen Carlson, Journalist and Advocate
  • Myriam Gilles, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
  • Phil Goldberg, Managing Partner, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
  • Deepak Gupta, Founding Principal, Gupta Wessler PLLC
  • Andrew Pincus, Partner, Mayer Brown L.L.P.
  • Lieutenant Commander Kevin Ziober, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy Reserves


  • 26:35 Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI): You'll hear a different view from me. Eliminating arbitration achieves one thing, it enriches trial attorneys.

  • 29:11 Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI): The AAJ, or American Association for Justice, is the nice sounding name of the plaintiffs attorneys lobbying organization. It also happens to be a huge donor to Democratic candidates, contributing millions of dollars each cycle to their campaigns.

  • 29:52 Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD): Mr. Chairman, point of order. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) What is your point of order? Rep. Jamie Raskin: My question is just can we impute the policy positions that members of the committee take to campaign contributions? Because if so, I think I'd be doing it a lot more frequently. I thought that's something that we don't do. Rep. David Cicilline: It's an excellent point of order, I'm sure Mr. Sensenbrenner didn't intend to communicate that in that way. Rep. Jamie Raskin: We're gonna be hearing a lot more of that in our committee if that's permissible, but I'm just curious. Maybe we can have some research done. Rep. James Sensenbrenner: Will the gentleman yield? Rep. David Cicilline: I think we don't need to engage with you. I this is an important issue with strongly held beliefs on both sides. [crosstalk]

  • 36:00 Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY): We used to have a concept in law. When I went to law school they still taught it called contracts of adhesion where a contract was unenforceable if one party had no choice in entering into it. All of these arbitration clauses almost are contracts of adhesion. You try when you want to get a credit card, try crossing out the fine print if you can find it without the magnifying glass that that says that you will settle all all disputes in arbitration, cross it out, see if you get the credit card. See if you get the bank loans if you get the mortgage. You have no see if you get the car loan, you have no choice.

  • 1:42:00 Gretchen Carlson: arbitration means that you have no way of knowing that anyone else is facing the same thing within the confines of the workplace structure. There's no way to know because the whole process is secret. And as I described during my testimony, if you do muster up the courage to go and complain, and you have an arbitration clause, that's a good day for the company, because no one will ever know anything about your story. The worst ramification of all of this is that the perpetrator gets to stay in the job. And I think one of the reasons that we've seen this cultural revolution that we're experiencing right now is because the American public was actually so angry about hearing about these stories, and they were wondering, why didn't we know about this? And the reason they didn't know about it, is because of forced arbitration.

  • 2:00:30 Deepak Gupta: I've gone back and looked at the history of the act from 1925. People weren't blind to the possibility of abuse. They raised these concerns before this, this committee, in fact, and the and the architects of the legislation were clear, this is about letting businesses have equal bargaining power that want to resolve their disputes out of court, letting them do that, and I have no objection to that. That makes perfect sense. But but the the drafters were clear this is not about foisting this on people who don't consent through, take it or leave it contracts. And in fact, Congress put in a provision section one of the Federal Arbitration Act that says this shall not apply to any class of workers. Remarkably, the Supreme Court has read that language to mean precisely the opposite. And now it can apply to any class of workers. And so so we have just we've strayed so far away from what Congress intended in 1925. And that's why only this body Congress can set things right.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Mar 20, 2022
CD248: Understanding the Enemy

Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched an illegal, unjustified war against Ukraine and Putin himself is the only person who can stop the war immediately. In this episode, we seek to understand why President Putin has launched this horrific war in order to judge our country’s ability to bring the war to a quicker end.

Executive Producer: Alex Bilotta

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD244: Keeping Ukraine

CD186: National Endowment for Democracy

CD168: Nuclear Desperation

Ukraine Civil War

Alan MacLeod. Feb 22, 2022. “Documents Reveal US Spent $22 Million Promoting Anti-Russia Narrative in Ukraine & Abroad.” The Washington Standard.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Oct 8, 2021. “Conflict-related civilian casualties in Ukraine.” United Nations.

Andrew Higgins and Peter Baker. Feb 6, 2014. “Russia Claims U.S. Is Meddling Over Ukraine.” The New York Times.

NATO Expansion

Becky Sullivan. Updated Feb 24, 2022. “How NATO's expansion helped drive Putin to invade Ukraine.” NPR.

Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov. Dec 17, 2021. “Russia Demands NATO Pullback in Security Talks With U.S.” Bloomberg.

Joe Dyke. Mar 20, 2021. “NATO Killed Civilians in Libya. It’s Time to Admit It.” Foreign Policy.

NATO. Updated May 5, 2020. “Enlargement.”

NATO. 2020. “The Secretary General’s Annual Report.”

National Security Archive. December 12, 2017. “NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard.”

Arms Control Association. “The Debate Over NATO Expansion: A Critique of the Clinton Administration's Responses to Key Questions.”

“Record of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker in Moscow. (Excerpts.)” February 9, 1990. National Security Archive.

“Ukraine: The Orange Revolution and the Yushchenko Presidency.” In The Encyclopedia Britannica.

NATO in Ukraine

Xinhua. Nov 14, 2021. “Ukraine, NATO countries hold naval drills in Black Sea.” Chad Menegay and Aimee Valles. Sept 22, 2021. “US, NATO, Ukraine enhance interoperability with Rapid Trident exercise.”

Reuters. April 3, 2021. “Ukraine and Britain to Hold Joint Military Drills.” U.S. News and World Report.

NATO Allied Maritime Command. Mar 17, 2021. “NATO forces train with the Ukrainian Navy.”

European Deterrence Initiative

Paul Belkin and Hibbah Kaileh. Updated July 1, 2021. “The European Deterrence Initiative: A Budgetary Overview” [IF10946.] Congressional Research Service.

Weapons Treaties

TASS. Feb 21, 2022. “Europe won’t understand Kiev talking of regaining nuclear weapons — Russian diplomat.”

Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation. Updated March 2021. “Fact Sheet: Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.”

Arms Control Association. Last reviewed August 2019. “The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at a Glance.”

General Dynamics

General Dynamics. “Corporate Governance: Board of Directors.”

Russia-China Alliance

Chen Aizhu. Feb 4, 2022. “Russia, China agree 30-year gas deal via new pipeline, to settle in euros.” Reuters.

Robin Brant. Feb 4, 2022. “China joins Russia in opposing Nato expansion.” BBC News.


Matina Stevis-Gridneff. Feb 25, 2022. “European Leaders Agree to a Second Wave of Russia Sanctions.” The New York Times.

Congressional Response

Joe Gould. Feb 22, 2022. “Emergency funding proposal for Ukraine gets bipartisan backing in Congress.” Defense News.

Reuters. Feb 25, 2022. “U.S. providing $600 mln for Ukraine defensive weapons -House Speaker Pelosi.” Reuters.


State Property Fund of Ukraine USAID Partnership

Audio Sources

House Speaker Weekly Briefing

February 23, 2022

YouTube Version

Overview: At her weekly briefing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), along with several of her Democratic colleagues, talked about the situation in Ukraine and President Biden’s sanctions after Russia recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas region.


  • 10:25 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Putin is terrified by the prospect of a democracy at his border. A democracy, giving an example to the Russian people of the kind of life and economy they might enjoy if they cast aside their own autocrat. This is, I think, one of the preeminent motivations of Vladimir Putin.

  • 15:32 Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA): I chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign operations, which oversees many of the resources to assist the Ukrainian people through this crisis. This includes our economic assistance to Ukraine, including loan guarantees. Economic assistance would come through the economic support accounts for Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia, those of the accounts that would come through. Without getting in too many of the weeds, I wanted to just mention that because it's an effort that we're looking at now in terms of our funding. It also includes humanitarian plans, including funding for refugees, God forbid, and for those internally displaced by conflict. The administration has committed to us that in the event of conflict, there is a need over the next 12 months of at least $1 billion for humanitarian needs. So I support the efforts of the administration also to bolster Ukraine's economy, including the proposed $1 billion in loan guarantees to continue with Ukraine's economic reforms.

  • 22:08 Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): I will just close by saying this: I had the privilege of going with President Clinton, who invited four members of Congress House and Senate, Democrat and Republican, the Senate Democrat was Senator Joe Biden. And we went to the expansion of NATO meeting in Paris. And it was all the heads of state of the then NATO countries who spoke and it was so beautiful because they all spoke in such a positive way about NATO. We thought like we were NATO and they were also NATO, they had ownership and agency in possession of the NATO possibilities. The representative of Russia who was there was Boris Yeltsin. And he was very ebullient, but he was welcoming to what was called was the expansion we had supported in our own country, the Baltic States, Poland, others countries becoming what was called the Partnership for Peace and it included many countries. Now Putin is saying push it back to pre-1997. Don't ever try to add another country and remove weapons out of Eastern Europe. That's what he wanted. No, that was not going to happen.

  • 33:35 Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): What is this about? The people of Hung -- many of us have visited Ukraine and have seen that they love democracy. They do not want to live under Vladimir Putin. He does not want the Russian people to see what democracy looks like. And therefore he wants to bring them under his domain.

  • 35:15 Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): When we talk about the president, he's doing the sanctions. He has a full picture of all this. As I said, he was present there the day of the expansion of NATO. I saw the respect he commanded then, and that was 1997, by the heads of state of all those countries, and of course, that has only grown over time, by his leadership, but also the expansion of NATO. I think we're very well served, I respect his judgement. And again, it's not just about when you do the sanctions, or how you support the people. It's about how the world views what Putin is doing. This is a very evil move on the part of Vladimir Putin.

President Biden Remarks on Russia and Ukraine

February 22, 2022

YouTube Version


Overview: During an address, President Biden announced new sanctions against Russia in response to President Vladimir Putin sending Russian troops into separatist regions of Ukraine.


  • 1:57 President Biden So, today, I’m announcing the first tranche of sanctions to impose costs on Russia in response to their actions yesterday. These have been closely coordinated with our Allies and partners, and we’ll continue to escalate sanctions if Russia escalates. We’re implementing full blocking sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions: V.E.B. and their military bank. We’re implementing comprehensive sanctions on Russian sovereign debt. That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing. It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either. Starting tomorrow [today] and continuing in the days ahead, we will also impose sanctions on Russia’s elites and their family members. They share in the corrupt gains of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain as well. And because of Russia’s actions, we’ve worked with Germany to ensure Nord Stream 2 will not — as I promised — will not move forward.

  • 3:23 President Biden: Today, in response to Russia’s admission that it will not withdraw its forces from Belarus, I have authorized additional movements of U.S. forces and equipment already stationed in Europe to strengthen our Baltic Allies — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Let me be clear: These are totally defensive moves on our part. We have no intention of fighting Russia. We want to send an unmistakable message, though, that the United States, together with our Allies, will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the commitments we made to NATO.

  • 4:22 President Biden: Russian forces remain positioned in Belarus to attack Ukraine from the north, including war planes and offensive missile systems. Russia has moved troops closer to Ukraine’s border with Russia. Russia’s naval vessels are maneuvering in the Black Sea to Ukraine’s south, including amphibious assault ships, missile cruisers, and submarines. Russia has moved supplies of blood and medical equipment into position on their border. You don’t need blood unless you plan on starting a war.

  • 6:25 President Biden: I’m going to take robust action and make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at the Russian economy, not ours. We are closely monitoring energy supplies for any disruption. We’re executing a plan in coordination with major oil-producing consumers and producers toward a collective investment to secure stability and global energy supplies. This will be — this will blunt gas prices. I want to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump. This is critical to me.

  • 7:37 President Biden: Yesterday, the world heard clearly the full extent of Vladimir Putin’s twisted rewrite of history, going back more than a century, as he waxed eloquently, noting that — well, I’m not going to go into it, but nothing in Putin’s lengthy remarks indicated any interest in pursuing real dialogue on European security in the year 2022.

  • 8:04 President Biden: He directly attacked Ukraine’s right to exist. He indirectly threatened territory formerly held by Russia, including nations that today are thriving democracies and members of NATO. He explicitly threatened war unless his extreme demands were met. And there is no question that Russia is the aggressor.

Russian President Putin Statement on Ukraine

February 21, 2022

YouTube Version


Overview: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced after a Security Council meeting that Russia would recognize the independence of the separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine’s Donbas region.


  • 00:15 President Putin: I would like to emphasise again that Ukraine is not just a neighbouring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space. These are our comrades, those dearest to us – not only colleagues, friends and people who once served together, but also relatives, people bound by blood, by family ties.

  • 1:22 President Putin: I would like to start by saying that the modern Ukraine was completely created by Russia. To be more exact, Bolshevist, partially communist Russia. This process started almost immediately after the 1917 revolutions, leading and planning and his group of supporters did it in a rough way. If we talk about Russia, they were alienating parts of historical territories of Russia. And millions of people who live there, obviously no one asked anything. Then before the Great Patriotic War, Stalin added to the USSR and handed over some lands that belonged to Poland and Hungary, and as a compensation gave some ancient German lands to Poland. And the 1960s crucial decision to take Crimea away from Russia and also gave it to Ukraine. That's how the territory of Soviet Ukraine was formed.

  • 3:05 President Putin: We cannot help but react to this real threat, especially since I would like to reiterate that Western backers they can help Ukraine with getting this weapon to create yet another threat for our country because we can see how consistently they are pumping Ukraine with weapons. The United States alone starting from 2014 transferred billions of dollars including the arm supply training personnel. In recent months, Western weapons are sent to Ukraine given ceaselessly in front of the eyes of the entire world

  • 7:05 President Putin: Actually, as I have already said, Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks’ policy and can be rightfully called “Vladimir Lenin’s Ukraine.” He was its creator and architect. This is fully and comprehensively corroborated by archival documents, including Lenin’s harsh instructions regarding Donbass, which was actually shoved into Ukraine. And today the “grateful progeny” has overturned monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. They call it decommunization. You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine.

  • 9:31 President Putin: Everything seemed to be working well in conditions of the totalitarian regime, and outwardly it looked wonderful, attractive and even super-democratic. And yet, it is a great pity that the fundamental and formally legal foundations of our state were not promptly cleansed of the odious and utopian fantasies inspired by the revolution, which are absolutely destructive for any normal state.

  • 10:05 President Putin: It seems that the Communist Party leaders were convinced that they had created a solid system of government and that their policies had settled the ethnic issue for good. But falsification, misconception, and tampering with public opinion have a high cost. The virus of nationalist ambitions is still with us, and the mine laid at the initial stage to destroy state immunity to the disease of nationalism was ticking. As I have already said, the mine was the right of secession from the Soviet Union.

  • 13:55 President Putin: Even two years before the collapse of the USSR, its fate was actually predetermined. It is now that radicals and nationalists, including and primarily those in Ukraine, are taking credit for having gained independence. As we can see, this is absolutely wrong. The disintegration of our united country was brought about by the historic, strategic mistakes on the part of the Bolshevik leaders and the CPSU leadership, mistakes committed at different times in state-building and in economic and ethnic policies. The collapse of the historical Russia known as the USSR is on their conscience.

  • 14:39 President Putin: It was our people who accepted the new geopolitical reality that took shape after the dissolution of the USSR, and recognised the new independent states. Not only did Russia recognise these countries, but helped its CIS partners, even though it faced a very dire situation itself. This included our Ukrainian colleagues, who turned to us for financial support many times from the very moment they declared independence. Our country provided this assistance while respecting Ukraine’s dignity and sovereignty. According to expert assessments, confirmed by a simple calculation of our energy prices, the subsidised loans Russia provided to Ukraine along with economic and trade preferences, the overall benefit for the Ukrainian budget in the period from 1991 to 2013 amounted to $250 billion.

  • 21:24 President Putin: A stable statehood has never developed in Ukraine; its electoral and other political procedures just serve as a cover, a screen for the redistribution of power and property between various oligarchic clans. Corruption, which is certainly a challenge and a problem for many countries, including Russia, has gone beyond the usual scope in Ukraine. It has literally permeated and corroded Ukrainian statehood, the entire system, and all branches of power. Radical nationalists took advantage of the justified public discontent and saddled the Maidan protest, escalating it to a coup d'état in 2014. They also had direct assistance from foreign states. According to reports, the US Embassy provided $1 million a day to support the so-called protest camp on Independence Square in Kiev. In addition, large amounts were impudently transferred directly to the opposition leaders’ bank accounts, tens of millions of dollars.

  • 23:37 President Putin: Maidan did not bring Ukraine any closer to democracy and progress. Having accomplished a coup d'état, the nationalists and those political forces that supported them eventually led Ukraine into an impasse, pushed the country into the abyss of civil war.

  • 26:30 President Putin: In fact, it all came down to the fact that the collapse of the Ukrainian economy was accompanied by outright robbery of the citizens of the country, and Ukraine itself was simply driven under external control. It is carried out not only at the behest of Western capitals, but also, as they say, directly on the spot through a whole network of foreign advisers, NGOs and other institutions deployed in Ukraine. They have a direct impact on all the most important personnel decisions, on all branches and levels of government: from the central and even to the municipal, on the main state-owned companies and corporations, including Naftogaz, Ukrenergo, Ukrainian Railways, Ukroboronprom, Ukrposhta , Administration of Sea Ports of Ukraine. There is simply no independent court in Ukraine. At the request of the West, the Kiev authorities gave representatives of international organizations the pre-emptive right to select members of the highest judicial bodies - the Council of Justice and the Qualification Commission of Judges. In addition, the US Embassy directly controls the National Corruption Prevention Agency, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, and the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court. All this is done under a plausible pretext to increase the effectiveness of the fight against corruption. Okay, but where are the results? Corruption has blossomed as luxuriantly, and blooms, more than ever. Are the Ukrainians themselves aware of all these managerial methods? Do they understand that their country is not even under a political and economic protectorate, but reduced to the level of a colony with a puppet regime? The privatization of the state has led to the fact that the government, which calls itself the "power of patriots", has lost its national character and is consistently leading the matter towards the complete desovereignization of the country.

  • 31:04 President Putin: In March 2021, a new Military Strategy was adopted in Ukraine. This document is almost entirely dedicated to confrontation with Russia and sets the goal of involving foreign states in a conflict with our country. The strategy stipulates the organisation of what can be described as a terrorist underground movement in Russia’s Crimea and in Donbass. It also sets out the contours of a potential war, which should end, according to the Kiev strategists, “with the assistance of the international community on favourable terms for Ukraine.”

  • 32:05 President Putin: As we know, it has already been stated today that Ukraine intends to create its own nuclear weapons, and this is not just bragging. Ukraine has the nuclear technologies created back in the Soviet times and delivery vehicles for such weapons, including aircraft, as well as the Soviet-designed Tochka-U precision tactical missiles with a range of over 100 kilometres. But they can do more; it is only a matter of time. They have had the groundwork for this since the Soviet era. In other words, acquiring tactical nuclear weapons will be much easier for Ukraine than for some other states I am not going to mention here, which are conducting such research, especially if Kiev receives foreign technological support.

  • 33:47 President Putin: Foreign advisors supervise the activities of Ukraine’s armed forces and special services and we are well aware of this. Over the past few years, military contingents of NATO countries have been almost constantly present on Ukrainian territory under the pretext of exercises. The Ukrainian troop control system has already been integrated into NATO. This means that NATO headquarters can issue direct commands to the Ukrainian armed forces, even to their separate units and squads. The United States and NATO have started an impudent development of Ukrainian territory as a theatre of potential military operations. Their regular joint exercises are obviously anti-Russian. Last year alone, over 23,000 troops and more than a thousand units of hardware were involved. A law has already been adopted that allows foreign troops to come to Ukraine in 2022 to take part in multinational drills. Understandably, these are primarily NATO troops. This year, at least ten of these joint drills are planned. Obviously, such undertakings are designed to be a cover-up for a rapid buildup of the NATO military group on Ukrainian territory. This is all the more so since the network of airfields upgraded with US help in Borispol, Ivano-Frankovsk, Chuguyev and Odessa, to name a few, is capable of transferring army units in a very short time. Ukraine’s airspace is open to flights by US strategic and reconnaissance aircraft and drones that conduct surveillance over Russian territory. I will add that the US-built Maritime Operations Centre in Ochakov makes it possible to support activity by NATO warships, including the use of precision weapons, against the Russian Black Sea Fleet and our infrastructure on the entire Black Sea Coast.

  • 36:54 President Putin: Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine stipulates that deploying foreign military bases on its territory is illegal. However, as it turns out, this is just a conventionality that can be easily circumvented. Ukraine is home to NATO training missions which are, in fact, foreign military bases. They just called a base a mission and were done with it.

  • 37:16 President Putin: Kiev has long proclaimed a strategic course on joining NATO. Indeed, each country is entitled to pick its own security system and enter into military alliances. There would be no problem with that, if it were not for one “but.” International documents expressly stipulate the principle of equal and indivisible security, which includes obligations not to strengthen one's own security at the expense of the security of other states. This is stated in the 1999 OSCE Charter for European Security adopted in Istanbul and the 2010 OSCE Astana Declaration. In other words, the choice of pathways towards ensuring security should not pose a threat to other states, whereas Ukraine joining NATO is a direct threat to Russia's security

  • 38:10 President Putin: Let me remind you that at the Bucharest NATO summit held in April 2008, the United States pushed through a decision to the effect that Ukraine and, by the way, Georgia would become NATO members. Many European allies of the United States were well aware of the risks associated with this prospect already then, but were forced to put up with the will of their senior partner. The Americans simply used them to carry out a clearly anti-Russian policy.

  • 38:41 President Putin: A number of NATO member states are still very sceptical about Ukraine joining NATO. We are getting signals from some European capitals telling us not to worry since it will not happen literally overnight. In fact, our US partners are saying the same thing as well. “All right, then” we respond, “if it does not happen tomorrow, then it will happen the day after tomorrow. What does it change from the historical perspective? Nothing at all.” Furthermore, we are aware of the US leadership’s position and words that active hostilities in eastern Ukraine do not rule out the possibility of that country joining NATO if it meets NATO criteria and overcomes corruption. All the while, they are trying to convince us over and over again that NATO is a peace-loving and purely defensive alliance that poses no threat to Russia. Again, they want us to take their word for it. But we are well aware of the real value of these words. In 1990, when German unification was discussed, the United States promised the Soviet leadership that NATO jurisdiction or military presence will not expand one inch to the east and that the unification of Germany will not lead to the spread of NATO's military organisation to the east. This is a quote. They issued lots of verbal assurances, all of which turned out to be empty phrases. Later, they began to assure us that the accession to NATO by Central and Eastern European countries would only improve relations with Moscow, relieve these countries of the fears steeped in their bitter historical legacy, and even create a belt of countries that are friendly towards Russia. However, the exact opposite happened. The governments of certain Eastern European countries, speculating on Russophobia, brought their complexes and stereotypes about the Russian threat to the Alliance and insisted on building up the collective defence potentials and deploying them primarily against Russia. Worse still, that happened in the 1990s and the early 2000s when, thanks to our openness and goodwill, relations between Russia and the West had reached a high level. Russia has fulfilled all of its obligations, including the pullout from Germany, from Central and Eastern Europe, making an immense contribution to overcoming the legacy of the Cold War. We have consistently proposed various cooperation options, including in the NATO-Russia Council and the OSCE formats. Moreover, I will say something I have never said publicly, I will say it now for the first time. When then outgoing US President Bill Clinton visited Moscow in 2000, I asked him how America would feel about admitting Russia to NATO. I will not reveal all the details of that conversation, but the reaction to my question was, let us say, quite restrained, and the Americans’ true attitude to that possibility can actually be seen from their subsequent steps with regard to our country. I am referring to the overt support for terrorists in the North Caucasus, the disregard for our security demands and concerns, NATO’s continued expansion, withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, and so on.

  • 43:05 President Putin: Today, one glance at the map is enough to see to what extent Western countries have kept their promise to refrain from NATO’s eastward expansion. They just cheated. We have seen five waves of NATO expansion, one after another – Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were admitted in 1999; Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004; Albania and Croatia in 2009; Montenegro in 2017; and North Macedonia in 2020. As a result, the Alliance, its military infrastructure has reached Russia’s borders. This is one of the key causes of the European security crisis; it has had the most negative impact on the entire system of international relations and led to the loss of mutual trust. The situation continues to deteriorate, including in the strategic area. Thus, positioning areas for interceptor missiles are being established in Romania and Poland as part of the US project to create a global missile defence system. It is common knowledge that the launchers deployed there can be used for Tomahawk cruise missiles – offensive strike systems. In addition, the United States is developing its all-purpose Standard Missile-6, which can provide air and missile defence, as well as strike ground and surface targets. In other words, the allegedly defensive US missile defence system is developing and expanding its new offensive capabilities. The information we have gives us good reason to believe that Ukraine’s accession to NATO and the subsequent deployment of NATO facilities has already been decided and is only a matter of time. We clearly understand that given this scenario, the level of military threats to Russia will increase dramatically, several times over.

  • 45:07 President Putin: I will explain that American strategic planning documents confirm the possibility of a so-called preemptive strike at enemy missile systems. We also know the main adversary of the United States and NATO. It is Russia. NATO documents officially declare our country to be the main threat to Euro-Atlantic security. Ukraine will serve as an advanced bridgehead for such a strike.

  • 46:00 President Putin: Many Ukrainian airfields are located not far from our borders. NATO’s tactical aviation deployed there, including precision weapon carriers, will be capable of striking at our territory to the depth of the Volgograd-Kazan-Samara-Astrakhan line. The deployment of reconnaissance radars on Ukrainian territory will allow NATO to tightly control Russia’s airspace up to the Urals. Finally, after the US destroyed the INF Treaty, the Pentagon has been openly developing many land-based attack weapons, including ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 5,500 km. If deployed in Ukraine, such systems will be able to hit targets in Russia’s entire European part. The flying time of Tomahawk cruise missiles to Moscow will be less than 35 minutes; ballistic missiles from Kharkov will take seven to eight minutes; and hypersonic assault weapons, four to five minutes. It is like a knife to the throat. I have no doubt that they hope to carry out these plans, as they did many times in the past, expanding NATO eastward, moving their military infrastructure to Russian borders and fully ignoring our concerns, protests and warnings. Excuse me, but they simply did not care at all about such things and did whatever they deemed necessary. Of course, they are going to behave in the same way in the future.

  • 47:46 President Putin: Russia has always advocated the resolution of the most complicated problems by political and diplomatic means, at the negotiating table. We are well aware of our enormous responsibility when it comes to regional and global stability. Back in 2008, Russia put forth an initiative to conclude a European Security Treaty under which not a single Euro-Atlantic state or international organisation could strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others. However, our proposal was rejected right off the bat on the pretext that Russia should not be allowed to put limits on NATO activities. Furthermore, it was made explicitly clear to us that only NATO members can have legally binding security guarantees.

  • 48:35 President Putin: Last December, we handed over to our Western partners a draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on security guarantees, as well as a draft agreement on measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation and NATO member states. The United States and NATO responded with general statements. There were kernels of rationality in them as well, but they concerned matters of secondary importance and it all looked like an attempt to drag the issue out and to lead the discussion astray. We responded to this accordingly and pointed out that we were ready to follow the path of negotiations, provided, however, that all issues are considered as a package that includes Russia’s core proposals which contain three key points. First, to prevent further NATO expansion. Second, to have the Alliance refrain from deploying assault weapon systems on Russian borders. And finally, rolling back the bloc's military capability and infrastructure in Europe to where they were in 1997, when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed. These principled proposals of ours have been ignored.

  • 50:21 President Putin: They are again trying to blackmail us and are threatening us with sanctions, which, by the way, they will introduce no matter what as Russia continues to strengthen its sovereignty and its Armed Forces. To be sure, they will never think twice before coming up with or just fabricating a pretext for yet another sanction attack regardless of the developments in Ukraine. Their one and only goal is to hold back the development of Russia.

  • 51:06 President Putin: I would like to be clear and straightforward: in the current circumstances, when our proposals for an equal dialogue on fundamental issues have actually remained unanswered by the United States and NATO, when the level of threats to our country has increased significantly, Russia has every right to respond in order to ensure its security. That is exactly what we will do.

  • 51:33 President Putin: With regard to the state of affairs in Donbass, we see that the ruling Kiev elites never stop publicly making clear their unwillingness to comply with the Minsk Package of Measures to settle the conflict and are not interested in a peaceful settlement. On the contrary, they are trying to orchestrate a blitzkrieg in Donbass as was the case in 2014 and 2015. We all know how these reckless schemes ended. Not a single day goes by without Donbass communities coming under shelling attacks. The recently formed large military force makes use of attack drones, heavy equipment, missiles, artillery and multiple rocket launchers. The killing of civilians, the blockade, the abuse of people, including children, women and the elderly, continues unabated. As we say, there is no end in sight to this. Meanwhile, the so-called civilised world, which our Western colleagues proclaimed themselves the only representatives of, prefers not to see this, as if this horror and genocide, which almost 4 million people are facing, do not exist. But they do exist and only because these people did not agree with the West-supported coup in Ukraine in 2014 and opposed the transition towards the Neanderthal and aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism which have been elevated in Ukraine to the rank of national policy. They are fighting for their elementary right to live on their own land, to speak their own language, and to preserve their culture and traditions. How long can this tragedy continue? How much longer can one put up with this? Russia has done everything to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity. All these years, it has persistently and patiently pushed for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2202 of February 17, 2015, which consolidated the Minsk Package of Measures of February 12, 2015, to settle the situation in Donbass. Everything was in vain. Presidents and Rada deputies come and go, but deep down the aggressive and nationalistic regime that seized power in Kiev remains unchanged. It is entirely a product of the 2014 coup, and those who then embarked on the path of violence, bloodshed and lawlessness did not recognise then and do not recognise now any solution to the Donbass issue other than a military one. In this regard, I consider it necessary to take a long overdue decision and to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic. I would like to ask the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to support this decision and then ratify the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance with both republics. These two documents will be prepared and signed shortly.

  • 54:52 President Putin: We want those who seized and continue to hold power in Kiev to immediately stop hostilities. Otherwise, the responsibility for the possible continuation of the bloodshed will lie entirely on the conscience of Ukraine’s ruling regime.

Ukraine is 'longing for peace' says Zelensky at Munich Security Conference

February 19, 2022


Overview: Western powers should drop their policy of "appeasement" toward Moscow, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky told a security forum Saturday, as fears mount of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.


  • 13:37 Vladimir Zelensky: Ukraine has received security guarantees for abandoning the world’s third nuclear capability. We don’t have that weapon. We also have no security.

  • 14:37 Vladimir Zelensky: Since 2014, Ukraine has tried three times to convene consultations with the guarantor states of the Budapest Memorandum. Three times without success. Today Ukraine will do it for the fourth time. I, as President, will do this for the first time. But both Ukraine and I are doing this for the last time. I am initiating consultations in the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was commissioned to convene them. If they do not happen again or their results do not guarantee security for our country, Ukraine will have every right to believe that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and all the package decisions of 1994 are in doubt.

President Biden Remarks on Russia-Ukraine Situation

February 18, 2022

YouTube Version


Overview: Following talks with NATO allies, President Biden provided an update on Russia-Ukraine tensions and international efforts to resolve the crisis.


  • 3:04 President Biden: You know, look, we have reason to believe the Russian forces are planning to and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week — in the coming days. We believe that they will target Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people.War posturing - Biden US provided record security assistance to Ukraine

  • 4:00 President Biden: This past year, the United States provided a record amount of security assistance to Ukraine to bolster its defensive — $650 million, from Javelin missiles to ammunition. And we also previously provided $500 million in Ukrai- — in humanitarian aid and economic support for Ukraine. And earlier this week, we also announced an additional sovereign loan guarantee of up to $1 billion to strengthen Ukraine’s economic resilience.

  • 7:24 President Biden: Well, I don’t think he is remotely contemplating nuclear — using nuclear weapons. But I do think it’s — I think he is focused on trying to convince the world that he has the ability to change the dynamics in Europe in a way that he cannot.

President Biden Remarks on Russia and Ukraine

February 15, 2022

YouTube Version


Overview: President Biden gave an update on tensions between Russia and Ukraine, calling for diplomacy to resolve tensions.


  • 1:47 President Biden: The United States has put on the table concrete ideas to establish a security environment in Europe. We’re proposing new arms control measures, new transparency measures, new strategic stability measures. These measures would apply to all parties — NATO and Russia alike.

  • 2:14 President Biden: We will not sacrifice basic principles, though. Nations have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have the freedom to set their own course and choose with whom they will associate.

  • 3:17 President Biden: And the fact remains: Right now, Russia has more than 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine in Belarus and along Ukraine’s border. An invasion remains distinctly possible. That’s why I’ve asked several times that all Americans in Ukraine leave now before it’s too late to leave safely. It is why we have temporarily relocated our embassy from Kyiv to Lviv in western Ukraine, approaching the Polish border.

  • 4:12 President Biden: The United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia. Ukraine is not threatening Russia. Neither the U.S. nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine. We do not — do not have plans to put them there as well.

  • 4:26 President Biden: To the citizens of Russia: You are not our enemy. And I do not believe you want a bloody, destructive war against Ukraine — a country and a people with whom you share such deep ties of family, history, and culture.

  • 5:52 President Biden: Today, our NATO Allies and the Alliance is as unified and determined as it has ever been. And the source of our unbreakable strength continues to be the power, resilience, and universal appeal of our shared democratic values. Because this is about more than just Russia and Ukraine. It’s about standing for what we believe in, for the future we want for our world.

  • 7:25 President Biden: And when it comes to Nord Stream 2, the pipeline that would bring natural gas from Russia to Germany, if Russia further invades Ukraine, it will not happen.

  • 7:35 President Biden: While I will not send American servicemen to fight Russia in Ukraine, we have supplied the Ukrainian military with equipment to help them defend themselves. We have provided training and advice and intelligence for the same purpose.

  • 7:50 President Biden: And make no mistake: The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power. An attack against one NATO country is an attack against all of us. And the United States commitment to Article 5 is sacrosanct. Already, in response to Russia’s build-up of troops, I have sent additional U.S. forces to bolster NATO’s eastern flank. Several of our Allies have also announced they’ll add forces and capabilities to ensure deterrence and defense along NATO’s eastern flank. We will also continue to conduct military exercises with our Allies and partners to enhance defensive readiness. And if Russia invades, we will take further steps to reinforce our presence in NATO, reassure our Allies, and deter further aggression.

  • 9:12 President Biden: I will not pretend this will be painless. There could be impact on our energy prices, so we are taking active steps to alleviate the pressure on our own energy markets and offset rising prices. We’re coordinating with major enersy [sic] — energy consumers and producers. We’re prepared to deploy all the tools and authority at our disposal to provide relief at the gas pump. And I will work with Congress on additional measures to help protect consumers and address the impact of prices at the pump.

Hearing on U.S. Policy Toward Russia

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
December 7, 2021

Overview: Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, testified at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy toward Russia. She addressed President Biden’s earlier call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that Russia would suffer severe consequences if it attacked Ukraine. Other topics included the use of sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, the cooperation of NATO and U.S. allies, Russia’s use of energy during conflict, and the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline


  • 10:42 Victoria Nuland: Since 2014 The United States has provided Ukraine with $2.4 billion in security assistance including $450 million this year alone.

  • 30:55 Sen. Todd Young (R-IN): President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov have repeatedly indicated that they seek to deny any potential path to NATO membership for Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. Does the administration view this demand is a valid issue for negotiation? Victoria Nuland: No we do not and President Biden made that point crystal clear to President Putin today that the issue of who joins NATO is an issue for NATO to decide it's an issue for applicant countries to decide that no other outside power will or may have a veto or a vote in those decisions.

Foreign Affairs Issue Launch with Former Vice President Joe Biden

January 23, 2018


  • 24:30 Former Vice President Biden: I’ll give you one concrete example. I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Feb 27, 2022
CD247: BIF: The Growth of US Railroads

The infrastructure law provides the most significant investment in passenger rail in U.S. history, but substantial hurdles - including a powerful cartel - stand firmly in the way of a real national network. In this episode, learn the ways the infrastructure law paves the way for a better future for passenger rail along with the significant obstacles that it failed to address.

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish YouTube Video

What is the World Trade System?

Contributors to Supply Chain Issues

Matthew Jinoo Buck. February 4, 2022. “How America’s Supply Chains Got Railroaded.” The American Prospect.

“Cartel.” 2022.

“Energy Group Joins Shippers Alleging Price Fixing in Rail Transport.” January 6, 2020. The Houston Chronicle.

Testimony of Dennis R. Pierce. Passenger and Freight Rail: The Current Status of the Rail Network and the Track Ahead. October 21, 2020. 116th Cong.

U.S. Internal Revenue Service. December 31, 2019. “IRS issues standard mileage rates for 2020.”

Dangers of Monster Trains and Rail Profiteering

Aaron Gordon. Mar 22, 2021. “‘It’s Going to End Up Like Boeing’: How Freight Rail Is Courting Catastrophe.” Vice.

U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. Dec 29, 2020. “Accident Report: Collision of Union Pacific Railroad Train MGRCY04 with a Stationary Train, Granite Canyon, Wyoming, October 4, 2018” [NTSB/RAR-20/05 / PB2020-101016.]

Marybeth Luczak. Nov 30, 2020. “Transport Canada Updates Rail Employee Fatigue Rules.” Railway Age.

U.S. Government Accountability Office. May 30, 2019. “Rail Safety: Freight Trains Are Getting Longer, and Additional Information Is Needed to Assess Their Impact” [GAO-19-443.]

Christina M. Rudin-Brown, Sarah Harris, and Ari Rosberg. May 2019. “How shift scheduling practices contribute to fatigue amongst freight rail operating employees: Findings from Canadian accident investigations.” Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Jessica Murphy. Jan 19, 2018. “Lac-Megantic: The runaway train that destroyed a town.” BBC.

Eric M. Johnson. Dec 6, 2017. “Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO.” Reuters.

Cumberland Times-News. Aug 12, 2017. “Last of Hyndman's evacuated residents return home.” The Tribune Democrat.

Jeffrey Alderton. Aug 5, 2017. “Propane fire out at Hyndman train crash site, residents await news of when they can return.” The Tribune Democrat.

Jeffrey Alderton. Aug 3, 2017. “Train derailment destroys Bedford County home, forces evacuation.” The Tribune Democrat.

New Jersey Department of Health. Revised June 2011. “Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet: Sodium Chlorate.”

Stephen Joiner. Feb 11, 2010 “Is Bigger Better? 'Monster' Trains vs Freight Trains.” Popular Mechanics.

Lobbying and Corruption

“CSX Corp: Recipients.” 2020. Open Secrets.

CSX Corporation Lobbying Report. 2020.

“Union Pacific Corp: Summary.” 2020. Open Secrets.

“Union Pacific Corp: Members Invested.” 2018. Open Secrets.

Union Pacific Corporation Lobbying Report. 2020.

What you really pay for TV

Gavin Bridge. Oct 27, 2020. “The True Cost to Consumers of Pay TV’s Top Channels.” Variety.


H.R.3684 - Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Sponsor: Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)

Status: Became Public Law No. 117-58

Law Outline



Subtitle A - Authorizations and Programs

Sec. 11101: Authorization of appropriations

  • Authorizes appropriations for Federal-Aid for highways at between $52 billion and $56 billion per year through fiscal year 2026 (over $273 billion total).
  • Authorizes $300 million for "charging and fueling infrastructure grants" for 2022, which increases by $100 million per year (maxing out at $700 million in 2026)
  • Authorizes between $25 million and $30 million per year for "community resilience and evacuation route grants" on top of equal amounts for "at risk coastal infrastructure grants"
  • Authorizes a total of $6.53 billion (from two funds) for the bridge investment program

Sec. 11102: Obligation ceiling

  • Caps the annual total funding from all laws (with many exceptions) that can be spent on Federal highway programs.
    • Total through 2026: $300.3 billion

Sec. 11109: Surface transportation block grant program:

  • Allows money from the surface transportation block grant program to be used for "planning and construction" of projects that "facilitate intermodel connections between emerging transportation technologies", specifically naming the hyperloop

Sec. 11508: Requirements for Transportation Projects Carried Out Through Public Private Partnerships

  • For projects that cost $100 million or more, before entering into a contract with a private company, the government partner has to conduct a "value for money analysis" of the partnership.
  • Three years after a project is opened to traffic, the government partner has to review the compliance of the private company and either certify their compliance or report to the Secretary of Transportation the details of the violation. The certifications or violation notifications must be publicly available "in a form that does not disclose any proprietary or confidential business information."



Subtitle A - Multimodal Freight Policy

Sec. 21101: Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy

  • Restructures/eliminates offices at the Department of Transportation to create an Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy
    • The person in charge will be appointed by the President and has to be confirmed by the Senate
  • Authorizes "such sums as are necessary"

Subtitle B - Multimodal Investment

Sec. 21201: National infrastructure project assistance

  • Authorizes $2 billion per year until 2026 ($10 billion total) on projects that cost at least $100 million that include highways, bridges, freight rail, passenger rail, and public transportation projects.
  • The Federal government will pay a maximum of 80% of the project costs.

Sec. 21202: Local and regional project assistance

  • Authorizes $1.5 billion per year until 2026 ($7.5 billion) (which will expire after 3 years) for grants for local transportation projects in amounts between $1 million and $25 million for projects that include highway, bridge, public transportation, passenger and freight rail, port infrastructure, surface transportation at airports, and more.

Sec. 21203: National culvert removal, replacement, and restoration grant program

  • Authorizes $800 million per year through 2026 ($4 billion) for grants for projects that replace, remove, or repair culverts (water channels) that improve or restore passages for fish.

Subtitle C - Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Reforms


Subtitle A - Authorization of Appropriations

Sec. 22101: Grants to Amtrak

  • Authorizes appropriations for Amtrak in the Northeast Corridor at between $1.1 billion and $1.57 billion per year through 2026 ($6.57 billion total).
  • Authorizes appropriations for Amtrak in the National Network at between $2.2 billion and $3 billion per year through 2026 ($12.65 billion total).

Sec. 22103: Consolidated rail infrastructure and safety improvements grants

  • Authorizes $1 billion per year through 2026 ($5 billion total) for rail infrastructure safety improvement grants

Sec. 22104: Railroad crossing elimination program

  • Authorizes $500 million per year through 2016 ($2.5 billion total) for the elimination of railroad crossings

Sec. 22106: Federal-State partnership for intercity passenger rail grants

  • Authorizes $1.5 billion per year through 2026 ($7.5 billion total) for grants to states to expand intercity passenger rail grants

Subtitle B - Amtrak Reforms

Sec. 22201: Amtrak findings, mission, and goals

  • Changes the goal of cooperation between Amtrak, governments, & other rail carriers from "to achieve a performance level sufficient to justify expending public money" to "in order to meet the intercity passenger rail needs of the United States" and expands the service areas beyond "urban" locations.
  • Changes the goals of Amtrak to include...
    • "Improving its contracts with rail carriers over whose tracks Amtrak operates."
    • "Offering competitive fares"
    • "Increasing revenue from the transportation of mail and express"
  • "Encourages" Amtrak to make agreement with private companies that will generate additional revenue

Sec. 22203: Station agents

  • Requires that at least one Amtrak ticket agent works at each station, unless there is a commuter rail agent who has the authority to sell Amtrak tickets

Sec. 22208: Passenger Experience Enhancement

  • Removes the requirement that Amtrak's food and beverage service financially break even in order to be offered on its trains
  • Creates a working group to make recommendations about how to improve the onboard food and beverage service
    • The report must be complete within one year of the working group's formation
    • After the report is complete, Amtrak must create a plan to implementing the working group's recommendations and/or tell Congress in writing why they will not implement the recommendations
    • The plan can not include Amtrak employee layoffs

Sec . 22209: Amtrak smoking policy

  • Requires Amtrak to prohibit smoking - including electronic cigarettes - on all Amtrak trains

Sec. 22210: Protecting Amtrak routes through rural communities

  • Prohibits Amtrak from cutting or reducing service to a rail route if they receive adequate Federal funding for that route

Sec. 22213: Creating Quality Jobs

  • Amtrak will not be allowed to privatize the jobs previously performed by laid off union workers.

Sec. 22214: Amtrak Daily Long Distance Study

  • Authorizes $15 million for an Amtrak study on bringing back long distance rail routes that were discontinued.

Subtitle C - Intercity Passenger Rail Policy

Sec. 22304: Restoration and Enhancement Grants

  • Extends the amount of time the government will pay the operating costs of Amtrak or "any rail carrier" partnered with Amtrak or a government agency that provides passenger rail service from 3 years to 6 years, and pays higher percentages of the the costs.

Sec. 22305: Railroad crossing elimination program

  • Creates a program to eliminate highway-rail crossings where vehicles are frequently stopped by trains
  • Authorizes the construction on tunnels and bridges
  • Requires the government agency in charge of the project to "obtain the necessary approvals from any impacted rail carriers or real property owners before proceeding with the construction of a project"
  • Each grant will be for at least $1 million each
  • The Federal government will pay no more than 80% of the project's cost

Sec. 22306: Interstate rail compacts

  • Authorizes up to 10 grants per year valued at a maximum of $1 million each to plan and promote new Amtrak routes
  • The grant recipient will have to match the grant by at least 50% of the eligible expenses

Sec. 22308: Corridor identification and development program

  • The Secretary of Transportation will create a program for public entities to plan for expanded intercity passenger rail corridors (which are routes that are less than 750 miles), operated by Amtrak or private companies.
  • When developing plans for corridors, the Secretary has to "consult" with "host railroads for the proposed corridor"

Subtitle D - Rail Safety

Sec. 22404: Blocked Crossing Portal

  • The Administration of the Federal Railroad Administration would establish a "3 year blocked crossing portal" which would collect information about blocked crossing by trains from the public and first responders and provide every person submitting the complaint the contact information of the "relevant railroad" and would "encourage" them to complain to them too.
  • Information collected would NOT be allowed to be used for any regulatory or enforcement purposes
  • Reports to Congress will be created using the information collected

Sec. 22406: Emergency Lighting

  • The Secretary of Transportation will have to issue a rule requiring that all carriers that transport human passengers have an emergency lighting system that turns on when there is a power failure.

Sec. 22408: Completion of Hours of Service and Fatigue Studies

  • Requires the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration to start pilot programs that were supposed to be conducted no later than 2010, which will test railroad employee scheduling rules designed to reduce employee fatigue. They will test...
    • Assigning employees to shifts with 10 hours advance notice
    • For employees subject to being on-call, having some shifts when those employees are not subject to being on-call.
  • If the pilot programs have not begun by around March of 2023, a report will have to be submitted to Congress explaining the challenges, including "efforts to recruit participant railroads"

Sec. 22409: Positive Train Control Study

  • The Comptroller General will conduct a study to determine the annual operation and maintenance costs for positive train control.

Sec. 22418: Civil Penalty Enforcement Authority

  • Requires the Secretary of Transportation to provide notice and an opportunity for a hearing to "persons" who violate regulations requiring railroads to report information about railroad crossings.
  • Eliminates the minimum $500 fine for violating the regulations
  • Allows the Attorney General to take the railroad to court to collect the penalty but prohibits the amount of the civil penalty from being reviewed by the courts.

Sec. 22423: High-Speed Train Noise Emissions

  • Allows, but does not require, the Secretary of Transportation to create regulations governing the noise levels of trains that exceed 160 mph.

Sec. 22425: Requirements for railroad freight cars placed into service in the United States

  • Effective 3 years after the regulations are complete (maximum 5 years after this becomes law), freight cars will be prohibited from operating within the United States if it has sensitive technology originating from or if more than 15% of it is manufactured in...
    • "A country of concern" (which is defined as a country identified by the Commerce Department "as a nonmarket economy country"). Countries on the nonmarket economy list include...
      • Armenia
      • Azerbaijan
      • Belarus
      • China
      • Georgia
      • Kyrgyz Republic
      • Moldova
      • Tajikistan
      • Turkmenistan
      • Uzbekistan
      • Vietnam
    • A country identified by the United States Trade Representative on its priority watch list, which in 2020 included...
      • China
      • Indonesia
      • India
      • Algeria
      • Saudi Arabia
      • Russia
      • Ukraine
      • Argentina
      • Chile
      • Venezuela
    • State owned enterprises
  • The Secretary of Transportation can assess fines between $100,000 and $250,000 per freight car. A company that has been found in violation 3 times can be kicked out of the United States transportation system until they are in compliance and have paid all their fines in full.
  • These rules will apply regardless of what was agreed to in the USMCA trade agreement.

Sec. 22427: Controlled substances testing for mechanical employees

  • 180 days after this becomes law, all railroad mechanics will be subject to drug testing, which can be conducted at random.


H.R.1748 - Safe Freight Act of 2019

Sponsor: Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
Status: Referred to Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials 03/14/2019


Leveraging IIJA: Plans for Expanding Intercity Passenger Rail

House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials
December 9, 2021

During the hearing, witnesses discussed plans for expanding intercity passenger rail in their states, regions, and networks, and how the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was recently signed into law, will support these efforts.


  • Stephen Gardner, President, Amtrak
  • David Kim, Secretary, California State Transportation Agency
  • Kevin Corbett, President and CEO of New Jersey Transit, Co-Chair, Northeast Corridor Commission, On behalf of Northeast Corridor Commission
  • Julie White, Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation, North Carolina Department of Transportation, Commission Chair, Southeast Corridor Commission, On behalf of the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Southeast Corridor Commission
  • Ms. Donna DeMartino, Managing Director, Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency
  • Knox Ross, Mississippi Commission and Chair of the Southern Rail Commission


8:52 - 9:12 Rep. Rick Crawford: Finally, any potential expansion of the Amtrak system must include the full input of the freight railroads on capacity and track sharing issues. The ongoing supply chain crisis only further emphasizes the value of freight railroads and efficiently moving goods across the nation. The important work the freight railroads cannot be obstructed.

16:49 - 17:10 Rep. Peter DeFazio The law is pretty clear: preference over freight transportation except in an emergency. Intercity and commuter rail passenger transportation provided for Amtrak has preference over freight transportation and using a rail line junction crossing unless the board orders otherwise under this subsection. Well, obviously that has not been observed.

22:05 - 22:24 Stephen Gardner: With the $66 billion provided to the Federal Railroad Administration and Amtrak we and our partners can finally have the chance to renew, improve or replace antiquated assets like the century old bridges and tunnels in the Northeast, inaccessible stations around the nation, and our vintage trains.

23:44 - 24:11 Stephen Gardner: Additionally, we'll continue to work collaboratively with our partners where they see value in working with other parties to deliver parts of their service and with new railroad entities that aim to develop or deliver their own service. We simply ask that key railroad laws like the Railway Labor Act and railway retirement apply to new entrants, that the federal government gets equity and accountability for investments it makes in private systems, and that any new services create connections with Amtrak's national network

1:25:00 - 1:25:37 Stephen Gardner: We've been working very closely with a variety of host railroads on opportunities to expand, notably Burlington Northern Santa Fe and our work to expand the Heartland Flyer service between Texas and Oklahoma and potentially extend that North to Wichita, Newton, in Colorado along the front range also with BNSF, to look at opportunities there. With Canadian Pacific we've been having really good conversations about launching a new service between the Twin Cities, Milwaukee and Chicago. Similarly, I think there's opportunities for that Baton Rouge to New Orleans service that Mr. Ross mentioned.

1:54:24 - 1:55:10 Rep. Chuy Garcia: You've each had different experiences with freight railroads as the host railroad for your respective services. What can Congress do to help you as you discuss expanding and improving passenger rail service with your freight railroad? You'll have about 15 seconds each. Knox Ross: Congressman, thank you. I think it's enforcing the will of Congress and the law that set up Amtrak in the beginning is, as the Chairman talked about, in the beginning, that people have a preference over freight. Now we understand that we all have to work together to do that. But we think there are many ways that Amtrak and other other hosts can work together with the fright to get this done, but the law has to be enforced.

1:55:14 - 1:55:30 Julie White: I would say that the money in the IIJA is going to be really important as we work, for example, on the S Line it is an FRA grant that enables us to acquire that line from CSX and enables us to grow freight rail on it at the same time as passenger.

1:58:05 - 1:58:23 Rep. Tim Burchett: Also understand that Amtrak is planning to either expand or build new rail corridors in 26 states across the country over the next 15 years and I was wondering: what makes you think Amtrak will turn a profit in any of those communities?

1:58:43 - 1:59:29 Stephen Gardner: But I would be clear here that our expectation is that these corridors do require support from states and the federal government, that they produce real value and support a lot of important transportation needs. But we measure those not necessarily by the profit of the farebox, so to speak, even though Amtrak has the highest farebox recovery of any system in the United States by far in terms of rail systems, we believe that Amtrak mission is to create mobility, mobility that creates value. We do that with as little public funding as we can, but the current services do require support investment and I think that's fair. All transportation modes require investment.

2:00:12 - 2:00:24 Rep. Tim Burchett: Since you mentioned that you needed more funding down the line, don't you think it'd be better to make your current service corridors more profit -- or just profitable before you build new ones in other parts of the country?

When Unlimited Potential Meets Limited Resources: The Benefits and Challenges of High-Speed Rail and Emerging Rail Technologies

House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials
May 6, 2021

This hearing featured twelve witnesses from a range of perspectives, exploring the opportunities and limitations associated with high-speed rail and emerging technologies, including regulatory oversight, technology readiness, project costs, and available federal resources.


  • John Porcari, Former Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Transportation
  • Rachel Smith, President and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
  • Phillip Washington, CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
  • Danielle Eckert, International Representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • Carbett "Trey" Duhon III, Judge in Waller County, TX
  • Andy Kunz, President and CEO of the US High Speed Rail Association
  • Carlos Aguilar, President and CEO of Texas Central High Speed Rail
  • William Flynn, CEO of Amtrak
  • Josh Giegel, CEO and Co-Founder of Virgin Hyperloop
  • Andres de Leon, CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies
  • Michal Reininger, CEO of Brightline Trains
  • Wayne Rogers, Chairman and CEO of Northeast Maglev


8:37 - 8:48 Rep. Rick Crawford: Rail is also considered one of the most fuel efficient ways to move freight. On average freight rail can move one ton of freight over 470 miles on one gallon of fuel.

18:05 - 18:46 Rep. Peter DeFazio: You know we have put aggregate with the essentially post World War Two, mostly the Eisenhower program, $2 trillion -- trillion -- into highways, invested by the federal government, a lot of money. But post World War Two $777 billion into aviation, airports, runways, air traffic control etc. And, and we have put about $90 billion total into rail.

22:45 - 23:25 John Porcari: As I evaluated ways to increase capacity in the Baltimore-New York City corridor, these were my choices: I could add air capacity between BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and New York with 90% federal funding for runway and taxiway improvements, I could add highway capacity on I-95 to New York with 80% federal funding, or add passenger rail capacity with zero federal funding for that 215 mile segment. A passenger rail trip makes far more sense than driving or flying, yet passenger rail capacity was the least likely alternative to be selected. So if you wonder why we have the unbalanced transportation system we have today, follow the money.

23:26 - 23:54 John Porcari: It's an extraordinary statement of state priorities that the California High Speed Rail Authority's 2020 Business Plan anticipates 85% of its funding from state sources and only 15% federal funding for this project of national and regional significance. This is a remarkable state financial commitment and a clear declaration of the state's project priorities. Yet there's no ongoing sustained federal financial partner for this multi year program of projects.

23:54 - 24:28 John Porcari: To match the people carrying capacity of phase one of the high speed rail system, California would need to invest $122 to $199 billion towards building almost 4200 highway lane miles, the equivalent of a new six lane highway and the construction of 91 new airport gates and two new runways. The San Francisco-Los Angeles air loop is already the ninth busiest in the world, and the busiest air route in America. Doesn't it make sense to prioritize this finite and expensive airport capacity for trans continental and international flights?

24:28 - 24:40 John Porcari: For California the 120 to 209 billion of required highway and airport capacity as an alternative to high speed rail is double the 69 to 99 billion cost estimate for phase one of the high speed rail system.

25:05 - 25:18 John Porcari: Providing real transportation choices at the local and state level requires the establishment of a Passenger Rail Trust Fund on par with our Highway Trust Fund and Airport and Airway Trust Fund.

48:00 - 48:23 Trey Duhon: Texas Central promised this project was privately financed, and everything they've done today, including the EIS was based on that. So we say let it live or die in the free market and invest our tax dollars in more equitable transportation solutions. We should not have to pay for another train to nowhere while having our communities destroyed by the very tax dollars that we work hard to contribute.

49:48 - 50:42 Andy Kunz: High Speed Rail can unlock numerous ridership opportunities. Essential workers like teachers, police and firemen in the high price Silicon Valley could find affordable housing options with a short train ride to Merced or Fresno in California's Central Valley. Residents of Eugene, Oregon could access jobs in Portland's tech sector or booming recreational industry with a 35 minute commute. A Houston salesperson could prepare for an important client meeting in Dallas with dedicated Wi Fi and ample workspace while gliding past the notorious congestion on I-45. A college student in Atlanta could make it home for Thanksgiving in Charlotte while picking up grandma along the way in Greenville, South Carolina. International tourists visiting Disney World in Orlando could extend their vacation with a day trip to the Gulf beaches of the Greater Tampa Bay area.

51:41 - 54:58 Andy Kunz: High Speed Rail has an unmatched track record of safety. Japan, with the world's first high speed rail network, has carried millions of people over 50 years without a single fatality, in comparison as many as 40,000 Americans are killed every year in auto accidents on our highways.

52:22 - 52:45 Andy Kunz: China has invested over a trillion dollars in high speed rail, allowing them to build a world class 22,000 mile network in 14 years. Not taking a pause, China plans to construct another 21,000 miles of track over the next nine years. Modern infrastructure like this fuels China's explosive economic growth, making it challenging for us to compete with them in the 21st century.

52:46 - 53:10 Andy Kunz: On the other side of the globe, the United Kingdom is currently doubling their rail network with $120 billion investment. France has invested over $160 billion in constructing their system. Spain's 2000 mile High Speed Rail Network is the largest in Europe, costing more than 175 billion. These are considerable investments by nations that are similar in size to Texas.

1:08:00 - 1:09:00 Rep. Peter DeFazio: Are you aware of any high speed rail project in the world that isn't government subsidized? I know, Virgin in, you know, in Great Britain says, well, we make money. Yeah, you make money. You don't have to maintain the rail, the government does that, all you do is put a train set on it and run it. John Porcari: Yeah, that's a really important point, Mr. Chairman, virtually every one that I'm aware of in the world has had a very big public investment in the infrastructure itself, the operation by a private operator can be very profitable. I would point out that that is no different, conceptually from our airways system, for example, where federal taxpayer investments make possible the operations of our airlines, which in turn are profitable and no different than our very profitable trucking industry in the US, which is enabled by the public infrastructure investment of the highway system itself.

1:09:46 - 1:10:37 Philip Washington: The potential is very, very good to make that connection with the private railroad. And actually that is the plan. And we are working with that, that private railroad right now to do that. And that connection with the help of some twin bore tunnel will allow train speeds to be at anywhere from 180 to 200 miles an hour, getting from that high desert corridor to Los Angeles. And so it's a it's a huge, huge effort. It links up with high speed rail from the north as well, with the link up coming into Union Station as well. So I think the potential to link up both of these are very, very great. And we're working with both entities.

1:11:31 - 1:12:13 Philip Washington: Well one of our ideas very quickly is right now we have as you know, Mr. Chairman, assembly plants, assembly plants all over the country what we are proposing is a soup to nuts, all included manufacturing outfit in this country that manufactures trains from the ground up, forging steel, all of those things. So we have proposed an industrial park with suppliers on site as well to actually build again from the ground up, rail car passenger rail car vehicles and locomotives. It is the return of manufacturing to this country as we see it.

1:21:16 - 1:21:50 John Porcari: We have 111 year old tunnel in New York, we have a B&P tunnel in Baltimore, that Civil War era. Those are not the biggest obstacles. It is more a question of will. What we want to do as a country in infrastructure, we do, and we've never made rail, really the priority that that I think it needs to be. And we've never provided meaningful choices for the states to select rail and build a multi year rail program because we don't have the funding part of it.

1:21:55 - 1:22:19 John Porcari: Our passenger rail system in the US is moving from a survival mode to a growth mode. And I think that's a very healthy thing for the country. Whether you're talking about our cross country service, one of the coastal corridors or the Midwest service, all of that is really important. In just the same way we built the interstates, city pairs aggregating into a national system, we can really do that with the passenger rail system if we have the will.

1:27:13 - 1:27:41 Rep. Michelle Steel: My constituents are already taxed enough, with California state and local taxes and skyrocketing gas prices making it unaffordable to live. I just came back from Texas, their gas price was $2 something and we are paying over $4 in California. We must preserve our local economy by lowering taxes not raising them. And we must not continue throwing tax dollars into a high speed money pit.

1:30:53 - 1:31:11 Trey Duhon: The folks in Waller county the folks that I know, a family of four is not going to pay $1,000 To ride a train between Houston and Dallas, when they can get there on a $50 tank of gas an hour and a half later. It's just not going to happen. So it's not a mass transit solution, at least not for this corridor.

1:48:56 - 1:49:25 Andy Kunz: The other big thing that hasn't been mentioned is the the cost of people's time and waste sitting stuck in traffic or stuck in airports. It's estimated to be several 100 billion dollars a year. And then as a business person, time is money. So if all your people are taking all day to get anywhere your entire company is less competitive, especially against nations that actually have these efficient systems, and then they can out compete us

2:03:52 - 2:04:13 Seth Moulton: And I would just add, you know, we build high speed rail, no one's gonna force you to take it. You have that freedom of choice that Americans don't have today and yet travelers all around the world have. I don't understand why travelers in China should have so much more freedom than we do today. In America, high speed railway would rapidly rectify that

3:01:09 - 3:01:27 Josh Giegel: In 2014 I co-founded this company in a garage when Hyperloop was just an idea on a whiteboard. By late 2016 We began construction of our first full system test set, dev loop, north of Las Vegas. To date we've completed over 500 tests of our system.

3:01:38 - 3:01:48 Josh Giegel: Today we have approximately 300 employees and are the leading Hyperloop company in the world and the only company, the only company to have had passengers travel safely in a Hyperloop.

3:01:48 - 3:02:33 Josh Giegel: Hyperloop is a high speed surface transportation system. Travel occurs within a low pressure enclosure equivalent to 200,000 feet above sea level, in a vehicle pressurized to normal atmospheric conditions, much like a commercial aircraft. This, along with our proprietary magnetic levitation engine, allows us to reach and maintain airline speeds with significantly less energy than other modes of transportation. Not only is Hyperloop fast, it's a high capacity mass transit system capable of comfortably moving people and goods at 670 miles per hour with 50,000 passengers per hour per direction, on demand and direct to your destination, meaning no stops along the way.

3:02:54 - 3:02:58 Josh Giegel: We achieve all this on a fully electric system with no direct emissions.

3:11:34 - 3:11:53 Mike Reininger: Since our 2018 launch in Florida, we operate the only private high speed system in the US, showcasing the potential of American high speed passenger rail. We carried more than a million passengers in our first full year and learned a lot that is worth sharing from the investment of over $4 billion over the last 10 years.

3:12:45 - 3:12:57 Mike Reininger: We use existing road alignments and infrastructure corridors to leverage previous investments, reduce environmental impacts, lower costs, and speed execution as a basis for profitability.

3:13:00 - 3:13:28 Mike Reininger: In 2022, we will complete the extension into the Orlando International Airport, making our total route 235 miles, linking four of the largest cities in America's third largest state. 400 million annual trips occur between these cities today, 95% of them by car. By upgrading a freight railway first built in the 1890s and building along an Express Highway, we leveraged 130 years of previous investment to support our 21st century service.

3:13:31 - 3:13:51 Mike Reininger: Brightline West will connect Las Vegas to Los Angeles, where today 50 million annual trips and over 100 daily flights occur. Traveling on trains capable of speeds of 200 miles an hour using the I-15 corridor, but cutting the drive time in half, Brightline West's better option expects to serve 11 million annual riders.

3:14:56 - 3:15:08 Mike Reininger: Consider allowing private entities to become eligible parties for FRA grant programs by partnering with currently eligible applicants as a simple way to stretch direct government investment.

3:29:39 - 3:29:54 Rep. Rick Crawford: Amtrak announced plans to expand its routes including to several small cities where there doesn't appear to be enough demand or population to warrant those new lines. Can you guarantee that those new routes will be self sustaining and turn a profit or will they lose money?

3:38:42 - 3:38:55 Bill Flynn: 125 miles an hour on existing track infrastructure is high speed. The newest Acelas we ordered will have a top speed of 186 miles an hour.

3:36:46 - 3:37:05 Rep. Seth Moulton: What is the top speed of the Acela service? Bill Flynn: The Acela service in the southern network, Washington to New York, top speeds 135 miles an hour, and then in New York to Boston top speed of 150 miles an hour across different segments of the track.

4:11:57 - 4:12:30 Bill Flynn: When we think about NEPA and the other permitting processes that take place, and then ultimately into construction, on many major projects, we're talking a decade or more. So without the visibility and predictability and the certainty of funding, these projects are all affected, they ultimately become more high cost, and they take longer than they should. So if I were to recommend one policy action, creating a trust fund, or trust fund like structure, for intercity passenger rail would be key.

Full Steam Ahead for Rail: Why Rail is More Relevant Than Ever for Economic and Environmental Progress

House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials
March 10, 2021

The hearing explored the importance of rail to the U.S. economy and as a tool to mitigate climate change.


  • Shannon Valentine, Secretary of Transportation, The Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Caren Kraska, President/Chairman, Arkansas & Missouri Railroad
  • Greg Regan, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
  • Tom Williams, Group Vice President for Consumer Products, BNSF Railway


18:17 - 18:50 Shannon Valentine: One of the worst rail bottlenecks, mentioned by Chairman DeFazio, along the east coast is at the Potomac River between Virginia and DC and it's called the long bridge which is owned by CSX. The bridge carries on passenger, commuter, and freight rail, nearly 80 trains a day and is at 98% capacity during peak periods. Due to these constraints, Virginia has been unable to expand passenger rail service, even though demand prior to the pandemic was reaching record highs.

18:50 - 19:42 Shannon Valentine: Virginia has been engaged in corridor planning studies, one of which was the I-95 corridor, which as you all know, is heavily congested. Even today as we emerge from this pandemic, traffic has returned to 90% of pre-pandemic levels. Through this study, we learned that adding just one lane in each direction for 50 miles would cost $12.5 billion. While the cost was staggering, the most sobering part of the analysis was that by the time that construction was complete, in 10 years, the corridor would be just as congested as it is today. That finding is what led Virginia to a mode that could provide the capacity at a third of the cost.

20:34 - 20:43 Shannon Valentine: According to APTA rail travel emits up to 83% fewer greenhouse gases than driving and up to 73% fewer than flying.

20:58 - 21:22 Shannon Valentine: Benefits can also be measured by increased access to jobs and improving the quality of life. The new service plan includes late night and weekend service because many essential jobs are not nine to five Monday through Friday. That is why we work to add trains leaving Washington in the late evening and on weekends, matching train schedules to the reality of our economy.

52:23 - 53:06* Rep. Peter DeFazio: I am concerned particularly when we have some railroads running trains as long as three miles. And they want to go to a single crew for a three mile long train. I asked the the former head of the FRA under Trump if the train broke down in Albany, Oregon and it's blocking every crossing through the city means no police, no fire, no ambulance, how long it's going to take the engineer to walk three miles from the front of the train to, say, the second car from the rear which is having a brake problem. And he said, Well, I don't know an hour. So you know there's some real concerns here that we have to pursue.

1:23:25 - 1:24:15 Shannon Valentine: When we first launched the intercity passenger rail, Virginia sponsored passenger rail, back in 2009, it really started with a pilot with $17 million for three years from Lynchburg, Virginia into DC into the new Northeast Corridor. And, and I had to make sure that we had 51,000 riders and we didn't know if we were going to be able to sustain it. And in that first year, we had 125,000 passengers. It always exceeded expectations for ridership and profitability. And today, that rail service which we now extend over to Roanoke, and we're working to get it to Blacksburg Christiansburg is really one of our most profitable rail services. In fact, probably in the country. It doesn't even need a subsidy because they're able to generate that kind of ridership.

2:10:21 - 2:12:11 Shannon Valentine: Our project, in my mind, is really the first step in creating a southeast high speed corridor, we have to build the bridge. In order to expand access, we need to be able to begin separating passenger and freight. And even before that is able to occur, building signings and creating the ability to move. We took a lot of lessons from a study called the DC to RDA again, it's the first part of that high speed southeast corridor. For us, it was recommended that we take an incremental approach rather than having a large 100 billion dollar project we're doing in increments. And so this is a $3.7 billion which is still going to help us over 10 years create hourly service between Richmond and DC. It was recommended that we use existing infrastructure and right of way so in our negotiations with CSX, we are acquiring 386 miles of right of way and 223 miles of track. We are also purchasing as part of this an S line. It's abandoned. It goes down into Ridgeway, North Carolina from Petersburg, Virginia, just south of Richmond. Because it's abandoned, we have a lot of opportunity for development for future phases or even higher speed rail. And we actually included part of Buckingham branch, it's an East West freight corridor that we would like to upgrade and protect for, for East West connection. All of these were incremental steps using existing right of way and tracks and achieving higher speeds where it was achievable.

Examining the Surface Transportation Board’s Role in Ensuring a Robust Passenger Rail System

House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials

November 18, 2020


  • Ann D. Begeman, Chairman, Surface Transportation Board
  • Martin J. Oberman, Vice Chairman, Surface Transportation Board
  • Romayne C. Brown, Chair of the Board of Directors, Metra
  • Stephen Gardner, Senior Executive Vice President, Amtrak
  • Ian Jefferies, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of American Railroads
  • Randal O’Toole, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute
  • Paul Skoutelas, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Public Transportation Association


27:31 - 27:59 Daniel Lipinski: Unlike Amtrak, Metra and other commuter railroads do not have a statutory federal preference prioritizing commuter trains over freight trains. Additionally, commuter railroads generally do not have standing to bring cases before the STB. Therefore, commuter railroads have very limited leverage when it comes to trying to expand their service on freight rail lines and ensuring that freight railroads Do not delay commuter trains.

35:42 - 36:27 Rep. Peter DeFazio: In fact, Congress included provisions to fix Amtrak on time performance in 2008. That is when PRIA added a provisions directing the FRA and Amtrak to work to develop on time performance metric standards to be used as a basis for an STB investigation. Unfortunately, those benefits haven't been realized. It's been 12 years since PRIA was passed. If our eyes metric and standards for on time performance were published this last Monday 12 years later, for the second time, and after this long and unacceptable delay, I look forward to seeing an improvement on Amtrak's performance both in in my state and nationwide.

38:01 - 38:32 Rep. Peter DeFazio: Worldwide, I'm not aware of any railroads, passenger railroads, that make money, although Virgin claims they do in England because they don't have to maintain the tracks. Pretty easy to make money if all you have to do is put a train set on it, run it back and forth. That's not the major expense. So, you know, to say that we shouldn't be subsidizing commuter or we shouldn't be subsidizing Amtrak is, you know, is just saying you don't want to run trains. Because everywhere else in the world they're subsidized.

43:45 - 44:30 Ann Begeman: Most intercity passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak, which is statutorily excluded from many of the board's regulatory requirements applicable to freight carriers. However, with the enactment of the Passenger Rail Investment Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIA) which both Chairman Lipinski and Chairman De Fazio has have mentioned in their opening comments, as well as the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act of 2015. FAST Act, the board assumed additional Amtrak oversight responsibilities, including the authority to conduct investigations under certain circumstances, and when appropriate, to award relief and identify reasonable measures to improve performance on passenger rail routes.

1:02:24 - 1:03:07 Stephen Gardner: Congress created Amtrak in 1970 to take on a job that today's freight railroads no longer wanted. In exchange for contracts assumption of these private railroads common carrier obligation for passengers and the associated operating losses for passenger service, the freights agreed to allow Amtrak to operate wherever and whenever it wanted over their lines, to provide Amtrak trains with dispatching preference over freight, and to empower what is now the STB to ensure Amtrak's access to the rail network. It's been nearly 50 years since the freight railroads and agreed eagerly to this bargain. And yet today, many of our hosts railroads fall short and fulfilling some of these key obligations

1:03:28 - 1:04:38 Stephen Gardner: Since our founding, Congress has had to clarify and amend the law to try and ensure host compliance. For example, by 1973, the freights had begun delaying Amtrak train so severely that Congress enshrined this promise of Amtrak preference into federal law, and in 2008, delays had gotten so bad that Congress created a new process to set Amtrak on time performance and provided the STB with the authority to investigate poor OTP. But for several reasons, these efforts haven't remedied the problems. For Amtrak and your constituents that has meant millions of delayed passengers and years of impediment as we try to add trains or start new routes to keep up with changing markets and demand. As the AAR are made clear and its litigation opposing the PRIA metrics and standards rule, many hosts see supporting our operation not as their obligation to the public, but as competition for the use of their infrastructure. But Amtrak wasn't created to relieve host railroads of their requirements to support passenger trains. It was created to help them reduce financial losses and ensure that passenger trains could still serve the country

1:04:38 - 1:05:15 Stephen Gardner: We need this committee's help to restore your original deal with the freights. For example you can provide us as you have in the moving forward Act, a way to enforce our existing rights of preference. You can make real Amtrak statutory ability to start new routes and add additional trains without arbitrary barriers. You can create an office of passenger rail within the STB and require them to use their investigative powers to pursue significant instances of for OTP. You can require more efficient STB processes to grant Amtrak access to hosts and fairly set any compensation and capital investment requirements.

1:06:19 - 1:07:57 Stephen Gardner: A rarely heralded fact is that the U.S. has the largest rail network in the world. And yet we use so little of it for intercity passenger rail service. A fundamental reason for this is our inability to gain quick, reasonable access to the network and receive reliable service that we are owed under law. This has effectively blocked our growth and left much of our nation underserved. City pairs like Los Angeles and Phoenix, or Atlanta to Nashville could clearly benefit from Amtrak service. Existing rail lines already connect them. Shouldn't Amtrak be serving these and many other similar corridors nationwide?

1:12:34 - 1:12:57 Randall O'Toole: Last year, the average American traveled more than 15,000 miles by automobile, more than 2000 Miles, road several 100 miles on buses, walked more than 100 Miles, rode 100 miles by urban rail, transit and bicycled 26 miles. Meanwhile, Amtrak carried the average American just 19 Miles.

1:13:35 - 1:13:55 Randall O'Toole: In 1970, the railroads' main problem was not money losing passenger trains, but over regulation by the federal and state governments. Regulation or not, passenger trains are unable to compete against airlines and automobiles. A 1958 Interstate Commerce Commission report concluded that there was no way to make passenger trains profitable.

1:14:52 - 1:15:20 Randall O'Toole: The 1970 collapse of Penn Central shook the industry. Congress should have responded by eliminating the over regulation that was stifling the railroads. Instead, it created Amtrak with the expectation that it would be a for profit corporation and that taking passenger trains off the railroads hands would save them from bankruptcy 50 years and more than $50 billion in operating subsidies later, we know that Amtrak isn't and never will be profitable.

1:15:40 - 1:16:10 Randall O'Toole: When Amtrak was created, average rail fares per passenger mile were two thirds of average airfares. Thanks to airline deregulation since then, inflation adjusted air fares have fallen by 60%. Even as Amtrak fares per passenger mile have doubled. Average Amtrak fares exceeded airfares by 1990 despite huge operating subsidies, or perhaps as has well predicted, because those subsidies encouraged inefficiencies.

1:16:50 - 1:17:15 Randall O'Toole: Today thanks to more efficient operations, rail routes that once saw only a handful of trains per day support 60, 70 or 80 or more freight trains a day. This sometimes leaves little room for Amtrak. Displacing a money making freight train with a money losing passenger train is especially unfair considering that so few people use a passenger trains, while so many rely on freight.

1:17:15 - 1:17:25 Randall O'Toole: Passenger trains are pretty, but they're an obsolete form of transportation. Efforts to give passenger trains preference over freight we'll harm more people than it will help.

2:42:40 - 2:43:50 Stephen Gardner: We think that the poor on time performance that many of our routes have is a significant impediment to ridership and revenue growth. It's quite apparent, many of our passengers, particularly on our long distance network, that serves Dunsmuir, for instance, you know their routes frequently experience significant delays, the number one cause of those delays are freight train interference. This is delays encountered, that Amtrak encounters when freight trains are run in front of us or otherwise dispatching decisions are made that prioritize the freight trains in front of Amtrak. And the reduction in reliability is clearly a problem for passengers with many hour delays. Often our whole long distance network is operating at 50% or less on time performance if you look at over the many past years. Even right now, through this period of COVID, where freight traffic has been down and we're only at 60% over the last 12 months on time performance for the entire long distance network.

2:52:44 - 2:53:23 Stephen Gardner: The difference between the US system and most of the international examples is that the infrastructure is publicly owned, publicly owned and developed in all of these nations, the nations that Mr. O'Toole mentioned, there is a rail infrastructure entity and they're developing it for both passenger and freight in some of those locations are optimized for passenger service primarily, that's for sure the case. China is a great example of a nation that's investing for both as a massive freight system and an incredible amount of investment for passenger rail. And again, they see high speed as a means of dealing with their very significant population and efficient way.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Feb 13, 2022
CD246: BIF: Appalachian Chemical Storage

The Infrastructure Law that was signed in late 2021 funds the first phase of a huge infrastructure project called the Appalachian Storage Hub, which would consist of large gas processing plants, underground chemical storage facilities, and pipeline networks to connect them all together. In this episode, get the details - as many as are known - about the plans for this possible project. Is this a good idea for our country?

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD240: BIF The Infrastructure BILL

CD231: Lights Out: What Happened in Texas?

CD134: The EpiPen Hearing

Negative Impacts of Natural Gas

Susan Phillips. Dec 27, 2021. “Mariner East pipeline is set to be completed in 2022, after years of environmental damage and delays.” WHYY.

CBS Philly. Oct 5, 2021. “Attorney General Charges Pennsylvania Pipeline Developer In Mariner East 2 Pipeline Spill.”

Forty-Fifth Statewide Investigating Grand Jury. Oct 5, 2021. “Mariner East Presentment.”

Gunnar W. Schade. Aug 3, 2020. “The Problem With Natural Gas Flaring.” Texas A and M Today.

Emily Henderson. Jul 15 2020. “Exposure to flaring at oil and gas production sites linked to higher odds of preterm birth.”

James Bruggers. Apr 21, 2020. “For the Ohio River Valley, an Ethane Storage Facility in Texas Is Either a Model or a Cautionary Tale.” Leo Weekly.

Environmental Integrity Project. Jan 21, 2020. “Warnings for Appalachia in Texas Ethane Storage Hub.”

Britain Eakin and David Lee. Oct 31, 2017. “Emissions Settlement to Cost ExxonMobil $300M in Plant Upgrades.” Courthouse News Service.

Josh Fox. 2010. Gasland.

“Trinity River among most polluted waters in Texas.” Jan 13, 2010. Dallas Morning News.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay: PCBs TMDL Assessment.”

Lettice Stuart. July 15, 1990. “NATIONAL NOTEBOOK: Mont Belvieu, Tex.; A Gas Leak Prods Exodus.” The New York Times.

Peter Applebome. Nov 28, 1988. “Chemicals in Salt Caverns Hold Pain for Texas Town.” The New York Times.

Appalachian Hub

Kathy Hipple and Anne Keller. November 2021. “Poor Economics for Virgin Plastics: Petrochemicals Will Not Provide Sustainable Business Opportunities in Appalachia.” Ohio River Valley Institute.

Kathy Hipple and Anne Keller. November 2021. “Poor Economics for Virgin Plastics: Petrochemicals Will Not Provide Sustainable Business Opportunities.” Ohio River Valley Institute.

Kentucky Beyond Fossil Fuels. Last updated August 2021. “Appalachian Storage Hub: Latest News.”

Reuters Staff. Oct 9, 2020. “Shell says Pennsylvania ethane cracker about 70% complete.” Reuters.

Keith Schneider. Jul 31, 2019. “West Virginia Bets Big on Plastics, and on Backing of Trump Administration.” ProPublica.

U.S. Department of Energy. Dec 4, 2018. “Secretary Perry Announces Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub Report.”

U.S. Department of Energy. Nov 2018. “Ethane Storage and Distribution Hub in the United States: Report to Congress.”

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. “Who Really Stands to Profit from the Appalachian Storage Hub/Petrochemical Complex?”

Steve Horn. Feb 6, 2018. “China Is Financing a Petrochemical Hub in Appalachia. Meet its Powerful Backers.” DeSmog.

Open Secrets. “Clients Lobbying on S.1075: Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub Study Act.”

Appalachian Regional Commission

Baltimore Sun Editorial Board. Jan 07, 2019. “Larry Hogan, reluctant environmentalist.”

Appalachian Regional Commission. “Federal Co-Chair Gayle Conelly Manchin.”

The Manchins

Alex Kotch. Jul 20, 2021. “The Democrat blocking progressive change is beholden to big oil. Surprised?” The Guardian.

Liza Featherstone. 2021. “Meet Joe Manchin’s Appalling Daughter.” Jacobin.

Open Secrets. “Sen. Joe Manchin - West Virginia: Top Industries 2017-2022.”


U.S. Department of Energy. “Figure 9. NGL Pipelines, Existing and Announced, in and around the Appalachian Basin.” Ethane Storage and Distribution Hub in the United States: Report to Congress.

U.S. Department of Energy. “Table 3: Stages of Development of Market Hubs.” Ethane Storage and Distribution Hub in the United States: Report to Congress.

U.S. Department of Energy. “Figure 28. Projected Total Capacity, Total Production, and Real Consumption in the U.S. for Ethylene Products.” Ethane Storage and Distribution Hub in the United States: Report to Congress.

U.S. Department of Energy. “Figure 30. Historical and Projected Ethylene Production Capacity by Global Area.” Ethane Storage and Distribution Hub in the United States: Report to Congress.

The Law

H.R.3684 - Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Sponsor: Rep. Peter DeFazio

Overview of provisions funding Appalachian Storage Hub


Subtitle E - Miscellaneous

Sec. 11506: Appalachian Regional Commission

  • Allows the Appalachian Regional Commission (a planning body for the region) to make grants, "enter into contracts, or otherwise provide amounts to individuals or entities" for projects to increase affordable access to broadband networks in the Appalachian region.
    • Authorizes $20 million per year for the broadband projects through 2026.
  • Allows the Appalachian Regional Commission to make grants, "enter into contracts, or otherwise provide amounts to individuals or entities" for projects to research the economic impact of an "ethane storage hub in the Appalachian region... such as a project with the capacity to store and distribute more than 100,000 barrels per day of hydrocarbon feedstock with a minimum gross heating value of 1,700 Btu per standard cubic foot" that will "help establish a regional energy hub in the Appalachian region for natural gas and natural gas liquids, including hydrogen produced from the steam methane reforming of natural gas feedstocks."
    • Waives any other provision or law that limits Federal funding for this, and it allows the Appalachian Regional Commission to determine the Federal share.
    • Allows the funding from this law to be combined with money from "any other Federal program" and from "any other source"
    • Authorizes $5 million per year for analyzing this project
  • Almost doubles the Appalachian Regional Commission's funding to $200 million per year through 2026


H.R. 4152: Appalachian Regional Energy Hub Initiative Act

S. 1064: Appalachian Energy for National Security Act

S. 1340: Appalachian Energy and Manufacturing Infrastructure Revitalization Act

H.R. 2568: Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub Study Act

S. 1075: Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub Study Act

S. 1337: Capitalizing on American Storage Potential Act.


Field hearing to examine the economic importance of modern, reliable energy infrastructure to West Virginia and the United States

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
August 29, 2016


Dr. Brian J. Anderson
Director, West Virginia University Energy Institute

Dr. John Deskins
Director, Bureau for Business and Economic Research, West Virginia University

Mr. Chad Earl Director of Marketing and Business Development, Orders Construction Company, Inc.

Mr. Steven Hedrick
President and Chief Executive Officer, Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center

Mr. Jeffery Keffer
President and Chief Executive Officer, Longview Power, LLC

Mr. Dan Poling Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer, District Council 53, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

Sound Clip Transcripts:

6:32 - 6:59 Sen. Shelley Moore Capito: So using ethane from Natural Gas as a feedstock means that chemical companies can choose to operate in West Virginia due to the enormous benefits of being right on top of the resource. That's why, again, I included language in the energy bill that will require the Department of Energy and Commerce to conduct a study to look at the feasibility of an ethane storage and distribution hub here in Appalachia, in West Virginia or in the region.

11:34 - 12:00 Sen. Joe Manchin: In 2016 Annual Energy Outlook, the EIA projected that even in a clean power plan scenario, coal and natural gas will make up approximately half of our electric generation mix in 2040. We talk about deniers you know, there's those who deny that there's climate change going on. And there's those who deny that we're going to be needing fossil for the next two, three or four decades.

12:50 - 13:33 Sen. Joe Manchin: Infrastructure, we must put the necessary infrastructure in place to take advantage of the robust opportunities that come from our abundant natural resources, while ensuring the reliability of our electric grid. And I will mention one thing. I've spoken to a lot of our state legislators. And I said, we've got to start thinking in terms of regional energy have Mid-Atlantic energy, regions such as the southwest, we should be looking at Pennsylvania and Ohio as part of this region, not the borders that separate us but basically the ability that we have to work together, build these pipelines that basically keep some of this product in this market area. To attract it, they say, build it and they will come. I truly believe if you have it, they will come but you have to have access to it.

18:42 - 19:00 Brian Anderson: Over the last 10 years production of ethane and propane at the Marcellus and Utica Shales have driven the cost of these very valuable raw materials to a price point well below global and national prices. Connecting this valuable resource to the national and global markets will take modern, robust infrastructure, the topic of this hearing.

19:01 - 19:13 Brian Anderson: I contend that the types of infrastructure necessary to benefit both the region and the nation is not only a reliable modern network of pipelines but also a robust regional system with natural gas liquid storage and distribution

20:12 - 20:28 Brian Anderson: With current production rates in the in the basin, around 500,000 barrels per day, the resource is certainly sufficient to support a renewed and robust chemical industry. That is, as long as there is modern and robust energy transportation infrastructure to support that.

21:42 - 22:32 Brian Anderson: The goal of this project is to provide essential data to support the development of the chemical manufacturing industry, promoting economic development. As evidenced by the industry's commitment to our project, developing storage and transportation infrastructure is a critical pathway to developing the industry in the region. Subsurface storage and distribution and a network of pipelines will benefit both the raw material producers -- the upstream oil and gas industry -- as well as the chemical industry by fostering a readily available and reliable network and research and source of natural gas liquids, developing a predictable price point of the commodity in the region. Currently, there is only one spot pricing for natural gas liquids in the United States and Gulf Coast. And thirdly, promoting regional investment in a more robust ecosystem for the industry.

38:55 - 39:50 Steven Hedrick: Rather than exporting additional ethane available via pipelines in the United States Gulf Coast to Europe, Asia or even Canada, it could be utilized here in the Appalachian Basin, here in America, to maximize the value potential of our raw materials. According to the publication the Natural Gas Intelligence, ethane accounts for more than 50% of the typical barrel in the Appalachian region, with exports now leading market spoke near Philadelphia. I think production has been increasing in the region. In fact, administering company MPLX's CEO Gary Heminger recently said with incremental ethane takeaway projects and the projected completion of a regional cracker facility, we anticipate reaching full utilization of our existing facilities. In other words, we need more infrastructure and companies like Shell need more elasticity in the supply chain in order to maximize the benefit of ethane.

39:48 - 40:41 Steven Hedrick: We would propose that the corridors naturally created by the Ohio and Kunal rivers be utilized as a platform for a substantial pipe system that will support the distribution of key raw material and intermediate constituents, including but not limited to, methane, ethane, ethylene, propane, propylene, and chlorine all of which are significant building blocks to the petrochemical industry and hence our society. We therefore must add substantial underground storage to the highest value of broadly used raw materials, specifically ethane, ethylene and propane and butane if we're able to create a built for purpose Appalachian storage hub. This can be safely and efficiently done and naturally occurring underground caverns in depleted natural gas extraction points, or even in depleted salt domes. In fact, the brightest minds in geological formations are currently studying the best locations for the hub.

1:34:03 - 1:35:40 Sen Joe Manchin: So I've come to the conclusion of this, the only way that we're ever going to is follow the dollars, the tax credits, extenders. They've been pouring more and more tax credits and extenders into renewables. And the only thing I'm going to say if that's the policy direction, and we can't collectively stop some of this other thing, when you have an administration desire to do something as they've done, we could at least say this, it makes all the sense in the world, if you're going to use these tax extenders, they call them tax extenders, they're credits, they give them credits if they do certain things in certain fields. So for moving to solar, or hydro, or wind and all this, those credits should only be used in a germane energy, that's where the losses were. So if the losses came from areas such as West Virginia and such as southwest Virginia, and such as Kentucky, those credits have to be used there. It makes all the sense in the world. We're gonna do every -- I'm gonna do everything I can just to shut the system down the next time, because trust me, they love tax credits. The wind people ain't letting tax credits go, solar'snot letting tax credits go. So I'm saying how do you argue against at least using the credits if you're going to get them? We'll build the best windmills, Danny. Our guys can build windmills. We can build solar, we can build anything you want. Just give us a chance. And that's what I am most upset about is no plan. There was no plan for a major policy shift in energy. And that's what we've got to correct I think, as quickly as possible to give us all a chance to survive in this tough area.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Jan 30, 2022
CD245: New Year, Same Congress

Much media attention has been rightfully aimed at the recent failures of Congress, but there was, in fact, lawmaking happening at the end of 2021. In this episode, learn about some laws that didn't get much attention, including a law that solves a real problem and a few laws designed to economically punish China. We also take a look at what is happening in Congress as we start 2022 and look for opportunities for effective activism as we enter this Congressional election year.

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD236: January 6: The Capitol Riot
CD232: American Rescue Plan
CD155: FirstNet Empowers AT&T
CD096: Fast Tracking Fast Track (Trade Promotion Authority)

NDAA 2022

Jamie Dupree. Dec 9, 2021. “Who says bipartisanship is dead? It isn’t on defense.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Huawui Sanctions

Alessandro Civati. Jan 10, 2022. “Huawei Risks - A Government Security Review.” LinkedIn.

Craig S. Smith. Sept 29, 2021. “How the Huawei Fight Is Changing the Face of 5G.” IEEE Spectrum.

Federal Communications Commission. Mar 12, 2021. “FCC List of Equipment and Services That Pose National Security Threat.”

Hadlee Simons. Sept 15, 2020. “More Huawei sanctions go into effect from today. What does that mean?” Android Authority.

Julian E. Barnes and Adam Satariano. Mar 17, 2019. “U.S. Campaign to Ban Huawei Overseas Stumbles as Allies Resist.” The New York Times.

Build Back Better is Dead

Joe Manchin. Dec 19, 2021. “Joe Manchin: 'I cannot vote' for Build Back Better amid 'real' inflation.” Fox News.

Jamie Dupree. Dec 3, 2021. “No shutdown but little headway in Congress.” Regular Order.

2022 Spending

Department of Homeland Security. “Operation Allies Welcome.”

Paul Kane. Jan 12, 2022. “The E-word is poised for a Capitol Hill comeback.” The Washington Post.

Voting Rights and Election Reform

Cristina Marcos. “House passes voting rights package, setting up Senate filibuster showdown” Jan 13, 2022. The Hill.

Zachary B. Wolf. May 19, 2021. “The 5 key elements of Trump's Big Lie and how it came to be.” CNN.

The Filibuster

Lindsay Wise. Jan 10, 2022. “McConnell Issues Threat to Democrats on Filibuster Changes.” The Wall Street Journal.

Tim Lau. Apr 26, 2021. “The Filibuster, Explained.” Brennan Center for Justice.

Sarah A. Binder. Apr 22, 2010. “The History of the Filibuster”. Brookings.

The Electoral Count Act

Miles Parks. Jan 8, 2022. “Congress may change this arcane law to avoid another Jan. 6.” NPR.

Laws and Resolutions

S.J.Res. 33: A joint resolution joint resolution relating to increasing the debt limit.

Sponsor: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Status: Signed into law by the President on Dec 16, 2021

S. 610: Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act

Sponsor: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Status: Signed into law by the President on Dec 10, 2021

S. 1605: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022

Status: Signed into law by the President on Dec 27, 2021

S. 3377: Capitol Police Emergency Assistance Act of 2021

Sponsor: Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Status: Signed into law by the President on Dec 22, 2021

H.R. 6256: To ensure that goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China do not enter the United States market, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) Status: Signed into law by the President on Dec 23, 2021

H.R. 3919: Secure Equipment Act of 2021.

Sponsor: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) Status: Signed into law by the President on Nov 11, 2021

H.R. 6119: Further Extending Government Funding Act

Sponsor: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
Status: Signed into law by the President on Dec 3, 2021

H.R. 1319: American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Tax credits for COVID

Sec. 4006: Funeral Assistance
For the COVID emergency declared on March 13, 2020 “and for any subsequent major disaster declarations that supercedes such emergency declaration”, FEMA funds “shall” be paid for 100% of disaster-related funeral expenses.

Sec. 9631: Refundability and Enhancement of Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
For 2021, eligible taxpayers can get up to 50% of up to $8,000 in childcare costs (capped at $16,000 for multiple children under the age of 12) reimbursed via a refundable tax credit. The credit phases out for families with income higher than $400,000 per year.

Sec. 9642: Credit for Sick Leave For Certain Self-Employed Individuals
Allows self employed individuals to receive a tax credit for sick day related to COVID-19 from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, including getting tested, quarantining, illness, and getting the vaccine. The number of days is capped at 10 and its capped at $200 per day. (=$2,000)

Sec. 9643: Credit For Family Leave For Certain Self-Employed Individuals
Allows self employed individuals to receive a refundable tax credit for family leave for COVID-19 testing, illness, or vaccines. It’s capped at 60 days and $200 per day (=$12,000)


H.R.4 - John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021

Sponsor: Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL)

S.2747 - Freedom to Vote Act

Sponsor: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

H.R.5746 - Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act

Sponsor: Rep. Donald Beyer (D-VA)

Audio sources

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Jan 13, 2022. “Senator Sinema Announces Opposition to Changing Filibuster Rules.” C-SPAN.

Sen. Krysten Sinema: I rise at a challenging divisive time for our nation. For years, America's politics have spiraled steadily downward into increasingly bitter tribal partisanship and our democracy has been strained. While that may sound abstract, it is a problem that hurts Americans in real, tangible ways. These deepening divisions hurt our ability to work together to create new job opportunities, protect the health and safety of our communities and country and to ensure everyday families get ahead. Our country's divisions have now fueled efforts in several states that will make it more difficult for Americans to vote and undermine faith that all Americans should have in our elections in our democracy. These state laws have no place in a nation whose government is formed by free, fair and open elections. I share the concerns of civil rights advocates and others I've heard from in recent months about these state laws. I strongly support those efforts to contest these laws and court and to invest significant resources into these states to better organize and stop efforts to restrict access at the ballot box. And I strongly support and will continue to vote for legislative responses to address these state laws, including the freedom to vote Act, and the John Lewis voting rights Advancement Act that the Senate is currently considering. And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that were sent the underlying disease of division infecting our country. The debate over the Senate 60 vote threshold shines a light on our broader challenges. There is no need for me to restate my long standing support for the 60 vote threshold to pass legislation. There's no need for me to restate its role protecting our country from wild reversals and federal policy. Eliminating the 60 vote threshold will simply guarantee that we lose a critical tool that we need to safeguard our democracy from threats in the years to come. Our mandate, it seems evident to me work together and get stuff done for America.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Jan 16, 2022
CD244: Keeping Ukraine

Since the beginning of December, news outlets around the world have been covering a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. In this episode, get the full back story on the civil war that has been raging in Ukraine since 2014, learn what role our government has played in the conflict, and hear Victoria Nuland - one of the highest ranking officials in the Biden administration's State Department - testify to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee about the Biden administration's plans if Russia decides to use its military to invade Ukraine.

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD231: Lights Out: What Happened in Texas?

CD229: Target Belarus

CD206: Impeachment: The Evidence

CD186: National Endowment for Democracy

CD167: Combating Russia (NDAA 2018) LIVE

CD156: Sanctions – Russia, North Korea & Iran

CD068: Ukraine Aid Bill

CD067: What Do We Want In Ukraine?

CD024: Let’s Gut the STOCK Act

Articles, Documents, and Websites

Conflicted Congress. Insider.

TurkStream. “Project: The Turkstream Pipeline.”

Western Balkans Investment Framework. “Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) Project Financing.”

Amber Infrastructure Group. “About Us: Our People.”

Three Seas. “Three Seas Story.”

Three Seas. “Priority Projects.”

State Property Fund of Ukraine. “Large Privatization.”

State Property Fund of Ukraine. “How to buy.”

State Property Fund of Ukraine. “Ukrainian Government Assets for Sale.”

Stephanie. December 14, 2021. “Kiev mayor Klitschko warns of Russian invasion.” News in 24.

Kenny Stancil. December 13, 2021. “Groups Move to Uncover Why Biden Held Huge Drilling Sale That DOJ Said Was Not Required.” Common Dreams.

The Kremlin. December 7, 2021. “Meeting with US President Joseph Biden.”

Maxine Joselow and Alexandra Ellerbeck. December 6, 2021. “Biden is approving more oil and gas drilling permits on public lands than Trump, analysis finds.” The Washington Post.

Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies. November 23, 2021. “The US-Russia Confrontation Over Ukraine.” Consortium News.

International Monetary Fund (IMF). November 22, 2021. “IMF Executive Board Completes First Review Under Stand-By Arrangement for Ukraine, Approves Extension of the Arrangement, Press Release No. 21/342.”

Nathan Rott. November 17, 2021. “The Biden administration sold oil and gas leases days after the climate summit.” NPR.

Anatol Lieven. November 15, 2021. “Ukraine: The Most Dangerous Problem in the World.” The Nation.

John Vandiver and Alison Bath. November 12, 2021. “US Actions in Ukraine Backfiring as Risk of Russian Invasion Grows, Analysts Say.”

Andrew E. Kramer. November 3, 2021. “Weapons Tracing Study Implicates Russia in Ukraine Conflict.” The New York Times.

Anton Troianovski and Julian E. Barnes. November 2, 2021. “U.S.-Russia Engagement Deepens as C.I.A. Head Travels to Moscow.” The New York Times.

Anton Troianovski and David E. Sanger. October 31, 2021. “Rivals on World Stage, Russia and U.S. Quietly Seek Areas of Accord.” The New York Times.

David E. Sanger. October 25, 2021. “Ignoring Sanctions, Russia Renews Broad Cybersurveillance Operation.” The New York Times.

Artin DerSimonian. October 19, 2021. “Ice breaking? Russia waives ban on Victoria Nuland.” Responsible Statecraft.

Andrew E. Kramer. October 18, 2021. “Russia Breaks Diplomatic Ties With NATO.” The New York Times.

Mark Episkopos. October 16, 2021. “Victoria Nuland’s Mission to Moscow.” The National Interest.

Reuters. September 10, 2021. “Russia and Belarus launch 'hot phase' of huge war games.”

Antony Blinken. August 20, 2021. “Imposition of Sanctions in Connection with Nord Stream 2.” U.S. Department of State.](

Paul Belkin and Hibbah Kaileh. July 1, 2021. “In Focus: The European Deterrence Initiative: A Budgetary Overview, IF10946.” Congressional Research Service.

Henrik B. L. Larsen. June 8, 2021. “Why NATO Should Not Offer Ukraine and Georgia Membership Action Plans. War on the Rocks.

NATO. April 26, 2021. “Boosting NATO’s presence in the east and southeast.”

David E. Sanger and Andrew E. Kramer. April 15, 2021. “U.S. Imposes Stiff Sanctions on Russia, Blaming It for Major Hacking Operation.” The New York Times.

The White House. April 15, 2021. “FACT SHEET: Imposing Costs for Harmful Foreign Activities by the Russian Government.”

The White House. April 15, 2021. “Executive Order on Blocking Property with Respect to Specified Harmful Foreign Activities of the Government of the Russian Federation.”

Reutuers. April 13, 2021. “NATO, not Russia, will decide if Ukraine joins, Stoltenberg says.”

Vladimir Isachenkov. April 9, 2021. “Kremlin says it fears full-scale fighting in Ukraine’s east.” AP News. January 20, 2021. “Secretary-designate Blinken Says NATO Door Shall Remain Open to Georgia.”

Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda. January 12, 2021. “Nuclear Notebook: United States nuclear weapons, 2021.” The Bulletin.

Andrew Feinberg. January 9, 2021. “Two years after his infamous phone call with Trump, Zelensky comes to Washington.” The Independent.

David E. Sanger, Nicole Perlroth and Julian E. Barnes. January 2, 2021. “As Understanding of Russian Hacking Grows, So Does Alarm.” The New York Times.

David E. Sanger, Nicole Perlroth and Eric Schmitt. December 14, 2020. “Scope of Russian Hacking Becomes Clear: Multiple U.S. Agencies Were Hit”. The New York Times.

Mark Episkopos. November 11, 2020. “Ukraine’s Power Play on Minsk.” The National Interest.

Government Accountability Office. October 21, 2020. “Crude Oil Markets: Effects of the Repeal of the Crude Oil Export Ban, GAO-21-118.”

Anthony B. Cavender, Thomas A. Campbell, Dan LeFort, Paul S. Marston. December 23, 2015. “U.S. Repeals Longstanding Ban on Export of Crude Oil.” Pillsbury Law.

Robert Parry. July 15, 2015. “The Ukraine Mess That Nuland Made.” Truthout.

Robert Parry. March 19, 2015. “Ukraine’s Poison Pill for Peace Talks.” Consortium News.

“Full text of the Minsk agreement” February 12, 2015. Financial Times.

NATO. May 8, 2014. “Article 23.” Bucharest Summit Declaration

Seumas Milne. April 30, 2014. “It's not Russia that's pushed Ukraine to the brink of war.” The Guardian.

David Morrison. Updated May 9, 2014. “How William Hague Deceived the House of Commons on Ukraine.” HuffPost.

US Energy Information Administration. March 15, 2014. “16% of Natural Gas Consumed in Europe Flows Through Ukraine.” Energy Central.

Robert Parry. February 27, 2014. “Cheering a ‘Democratic’ Coup in Ukraine.” Common Dreams.

“Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call.” February 7, 2014. BBC News.

Adam Taylor. December 16, 2013. “John McCain Went To Ukraine And Stood On Stage With A Man Accused Of Being An Anti-Semitic Neo-Nazi.” Insider.

Brian Whelan. December 16, 2013. “Far-right group at heart of Ukraine protests meet US senator.” Channel 4 News.

Guardian staff and agencies. December 15, 2013. “John McCain tells Ukraine protesters: 'We are here to support your just cause.'” The Guardian.

International Monetary Fund (IMF). October 31, 2013. “Statement by IMF Mission to Ukraine, Press Release No. 13/419.”

Carl Gershman. September 26, 2013. “Former Soviet States Stand Up to Russia. Will the U.S.?” The Washington Post.

Amanda Winkler. November 14, 2011. “'60 Minutes' Exposes Congressional Insider Trading.” The Christian Post.


USAID and Ukraine Privatization Fund


S.1605 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022
Sponsor: Sen. Scott, Rick [R-FL]

Audio Sources

President Biden White House Departure

December 8, 2021

President Biden briefly stopped and spoke with reporters as he departed the White House for an event in Kansas City, Missouri. He began by addressing the Omicron variant, saying that the Pfizer vaccine is showing encouraging results against the COVID-19 variant. When asked about Russian President Putin and Ukraine, President Biden said if Putin were to invade Ukraine, there “will be severe consequences.” He went on to say that putting U.S. troops on the ground in Ukraine is currently “not in the cards.” close Report Video Issue


  • Biden: We hope by Friday, we're going to be able to say and announce to you that we're having meetings at a higher level, not just with us, but with at least four of our major NATO allies and Russia to discuss the future of Russia's concerns relative to NATO writ large. And whether or not we can work out any accommodations as it relates to bringing down the temperature along the eastern front.

  • Biden: We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if they were to attack under Article Five, it's a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend to NATO, I mean to Ukraine, but it would depend upon what the rest of the NATO countries were willing to do as well. But the idea of the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not in the cards right now.

  • Biden: Meeting with Putin. I was very straightforward. There were no minced words. It was polite, but I made it very clear, if in fact, he invades Ukraine, there will be severe consequences, severe consequences. Economic consequences, like none he's ever seen or ever had been seen in terms of ease and flows. He knows his immediate response was he understood that and I indicated I knew he would respond. But beyond that, if in fact, we would probably also be required to reinforce our presence in NATO countries to reassure particularly those on the Eastern Front. In addition to that, I made it clear that we would provide the defensive capability to the Ukrainians as well.

Hearing on U.S. Policy Toward Russia

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
December 7, 2021

Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, testified at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy toward Russia. She addressed President Biden’s earlier call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that Russia would suffer severe consequences if it attacked Ukraine. Other topics included the use of sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, the cooperation of NATO and U.S. allies, Russia’s use of energy during conflict, and the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

  • 00:20 Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): As we meet here today Russia is engaged in one of the most significant troop buildups that we have seen along Ukraine's border. To nyone paying attention, this looks like more than posturing, more than attention seeking. The Kremlin's actions clearly pose a real threat of war.

  • 00:40 Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): I want to be crystal clear to those listening to this hearing in Moscow, Kiev and other capitals around the world. A Russian invasion will trigger devastating economic sanctions the likes of which we have never seen before.

  • 00:59 Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): I proposed a suite of options last month in an amendment to the NDA. The Russian banking sector would be wiped out, sovereign debt would be blocked, Russia would be removed from the Swift payment system, sectoral sanctions would cripple the Russian economy. Putin himself as well as his inner circle would lose access to bank accounts in the West. Russia would effectively be cut off and isolated from the international economic system. Let me be clear, these are not run of the mill sanctions. What is being discussed is at the maximum end of the spectrum, or as I have called it the mother of all sanctions, and I hope that we can come together in a bipartisan way to find a legislative path forward soon, so that we can achieve that.

  • 1:51 Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): If Putin invades Ukraine the implications will be devastating for the Russian economy but also for the Russian people.

  • 2:24 Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): But is the Kremlin really ready to face a bloody, persistent and drawn out insurgency? How many body bags is Putin willing to accept?

  • 6:03 Sen James Risch (R-ID): This is a clearly clearly bipartisan matter.

  • 7:40 Victoria Nuland: First, let me review what we are seeing. Over the past six weeks, Russia has stepped up planning for potential further military action in Ukraine, positioning close to 100,000 troops around Ukraine's eastern and northern borders and from the south via the Crimean peninsula. Russian plans and positioning of assets also include the means to destabilize Ukraine from within, and an aggressive information operation and an attempt to undermine Ukrainian stability and social cohesion and to pin the blame for any potential escalation on Kiev, and on NATO nations including the United States. Russia's military and intelligence services are continuing to develop the capability to act decisively in Ukraine when ordered to do so, potentially in early 2022. The intended force, if fully mobilized, would be twice the size of what we saw last spring, including approximately 100 battalion tactical groups, or nearly all of Russia's ready ground forces based west of the Urals. We don't know whether President Putin has made a decision to attack Ukraine or to overthrow its government. But we do know he's building the capacity to do so.

  • 10:42 Victoria Nuland: Since 2014 The United States has provided Ukraine with $2.4 billion in security assistance including $450 million this year alone

  • 12:00 Victoria Nuland: Diplomacy remains the best route to settle the conflict in Donbas and address any other problems or grievances. The Minsk agreements offer the best basis for negotiations and the US is prepared to support a revived effort if the parties welcome that.

  • 15:16 Victoria Nuland: You might have seen a press conference today that commission Chairwoman van der Laan gave in Brussels in which she made absolutely clear that the EU would also join in very consequential economic measures of the kind that they have not employed before.

  • 23:26 Victoria Nuland: It's also important, I think, for President Putin to understand as the President conveyed to him today, that this will be different than it was in 2014. If he goes in you will recall then that our sanctions escalated somewhat gradually as he didn't stop moving. This time the intent is to make clear that the initial sanctions in response to any further aggressive moves in Ukraine will be extremely significant and isolating for Russia and for Russian business and for the Russian people.

  • 24:51 Victoria Nuland: As you know, energy is the cash cow that enables these kinds of military deployments. So Putin needs the energy to flow as as much as the consumers need it. But more broadly, we have been counseling Europe for almost a decade now to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, including our opposition to Nord Stream 2 and our opposition to Nord Stream 1 and our opposition to to TurkStream and TurkStream 2 and to have come to find alternative sources of hydrocarbons but also to continue their efforts to go green and end their dependencies.

  • 30:55 Sen. Todd Young (R-IN): President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov have repeatedly indicated that they seek to deny any potential path to NATO membership for Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. Does the administration view this demand is a valid issue for negotiation? Victoria Nuland: No we do not and President Biden made that point crystal clear to President Putin today that the issue of who joins NATO is an issue for NATO to decide it's an issue for applicant countries to decide that no other outside power will or may have a veto or a vote in those decisions.

  • 32:22 Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): Senator Portman and I offered an amendment to this year's NDAA in that vein to increase military assistance and raise the amount of assistance that could go to lethal weapons.

  • 33:21 Victoria Nuland: But we will not be shy about coming to you as we as we need support and the bipartisan spirit here is really gratifying.

  • 34:08 Victoria Nuland: At the NATO ministerial last week, there was a commitment among allies that we needed more advice and more options from our NATO military authorities with regard to the consequences of any move by Russia deeper into Ukraine and what that would mean for the eastern edge of the alliance and what it would mean about our need to be more forward deployed in the east.

  • 34:44 Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): Belarus now that it is seems to be totally within Russia's control also presents another front for the potential for Russia to invade Ukraine. Can you speak to whether we view what's happening in Belarus in that way? I know that Ukrainians view it that way because we heard that when we were in Halifax for the international security forum and met with some Ukrainian officials. Victoria Nuland: Well, as as you know, Senator, the situation in Belarus is just tragic and really concerning in many, many ways, which is why the administration along with the European Union in a multilateral way increased sanctions just last week, including blocking the sale to us or to Europe of one of the great sources of Lukashenko has money potash, etc, and sanction some dozens more Belarusians responsible for the violence and intimidation there and particularly now for the weaponization of migrants pushing you know, accepting them from third countries and then pushing them against the EU's border in a very cynical and dangerous way. But I think you're talking about the potential as Lukashenko becomes more and more dependent on the Kremlin and gives up more and more of Belarus is sovereignty, something that he told his people he would never do that Russia could actually use Belarusian territory to march on Ukraine and or mask, its forces as Belarusian forces. All of those -- Those are both things that that we are watching, and it was particularly concerning to see President Lukashenko would make a change in his own posture with regard to Crimea. He had long declined to recognize Russia Russia's claim on Crimea, but he changed tack a week ago which is concerning.

  • 39:08 Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): If there's one thing that Vladimir Putin aught to understand is how unified we are. I mean, there are many things that divide us politically in this country. But when it comes to pushing back on Russian aggression, supporting countries like Ukraine that are trying to develop their freedom, free themselves from their legacy of corruption from their former involvement with the Soviet Union, we are very strongly united.

  • 39:56 Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): What we impose on them and how and how harmful it would be to Russia, you know, unfortunately to Russian people.

  • 40:36 Victoria Nuland: What we're talking about would amount to essentially isolating Russia completely from the global financial system with all of the fallout that that would entail for Russian business, for the Russian people, for their ability to, to work and travel and trade.

  • 41:41 Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): I can't think of a more powerful way to punish Russian aggression than by rolling back what progress has been made, and if at all possible, prevent the Nord Stream 2 from ever being completed. Is that something that is being discussed with allies is that something's being contemplated? Victoria Nuland: Absolutely. And as if, as you recall from the July U.S.-German statement that was very much in that statement that if that any moves, Russian aggression against Ukraine would have a direct impact on the pipeline, and that is our expectation and the conversation that we're having. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): So again, direct impact is one thing, but I'm literally talking about rolling back the pipeline. Loosely define that but I mean, taking action that will prevent it from ever becoming operational. Victoria Nuland: I think if President Putin moves on Ukraine, our expectation is that the pipeline will be suspended. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): Well, I certainly hope that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would take up legislation to go beyond just suspending it but from ending it permanently.

  • 44:28 Victoria Nuland: I think we can, and I know this is close to your heart as well, need to do better in our Global Engagement Center and in the way we speak to audiences around the world and particularly on these kinds of subjects.

  • 55:04 Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): But something different has happened in that country since what has been referred to as the Revolution of Dignity. I got the chance to be there on the Maidan during the midst of that revolution with you and Senator McCain.

  • 58:56 Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): The Three Seas Initiative is a really important initiative linking essentially the ring of countries that are either former republics or satellite states of the Soviet Union together. They're begging for US participation in their projects necessary to make them more energy independent of Russia. Isn't this an opportunity for the United States to step up and take some of these customers away from Russia's gas station? Victoria Nuland: Absolutely, as we have been doing with our support for more LNG terminals around Europe for many years, as we are doing now in our support for, you know, green alternatives, not just in the United States, but in Europe as well. And many, many US companies are involved with that. But that particular belt of three C's countries is absolutely crucial, as you've said.

  • 1:11:19 Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): I visited to Maidan in 2014. The tires were still smoldering and the Revolution of Dignity changed everything. You know, Ukraine decided to turn to us and to the West, and to freedom and democracy. And it was a momentous decision. They chose to stand with us. And now it's our turn to stand with them. And we've done that over the years. I mean, if you look at what happened with regard to the Ukraine security assistance initiative, which I co authored. Over the past six years, the United States has transferred defense articles, conducted training with Ukrainian military. We have been very engaged.

  • 1:12:05 Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): This week we have the NDAA likely to be voted on and likely it will include an increase in that lethal defensive funding.

  • 1:12:14 Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): What defensive weapons has Ukraine ask for and what is the State Department willing to provide them under an expedited process?

  • 1:18:44 Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA): My concern is this: if the United States and the West's response to a military invasion is sanctions, but no military response, obviously, we're providing military aid to Ukraine. And we've been generous in that way. But if we are not willing to help a Ukrainian military, that's 50,000 people matched up against Russia, I would think that China would conclude, boy, the West sure, I'm going to come to the aid of Taiwan, if we were to do something on Taiwan. Because China would conclude, we're much more militarily powerful than Russia is. And the status questions about Taiwan and sovereignty are a little bit murkier than those about Ukraine. And there's no NATO in the Indo Pacific, we have allies in the Indo Pacific but we don't have a NATO with a charter, with a self defense article. I think China would determine, if the West responds to a military invasion went as far as sanctions but no further, that the United States and other nations would be extremely unlikely to use military force to counter a military invasion of Taiwan. And I think Taiwan would likely conclude the same thing. So I'm very concerned about that. And I wonder, is that a fair concern that I have about how the Chinese and the Taiwanese would view the West's unwillingness to provide more significant military support to stop an invasion by Russia? Is my concern a fair one? Or is my concern overwrought? Victoria Nuland: Senator, in this setting, I would simply say that this is a moment of testing. And I believe that both autocrats around the world and our friends around the world will watch extremely carefully what we do, and it will have implications for generations. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA): And those and those implications could go far beyond Ukraine. Victoria Nuland: They could go well beyond Europe. Yes.

  • 1:22:00 Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): Then I would imagine that he's already been publicly messaging what his asks are. The first is that we would pull back NATO forces from anywhere near their western border. The second is to completely rule out the admission probably not just of Ukraine, but Georgia as a member of NATO. And the third is to stop arming Ukraine. Of those three conditions that he's publicly messaged already, would the United States agreed to any of those three? Victoria Nuland: All of those would be unacceptable.

  • 1:41:11 Victoria Nuland: And in fact you could argue that in the Donbas he did take control of some 40% of Ukraine's coal reserves which were a major energy input

  • 1:42:04 Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): I hope the one thing that anyone in the world who is watching this hearing today takes away is that even on some of the most contentious issues of the day, on this one, there is overwhelming, broad, bipartisan support for Ukraine there is overwhelming bipartisan support for its territorial integrity, there is overwhelming bipartisan support for swift and robust action. And after conversations with some of the members of the committee, I look to galvanize that in some tangible way legislatively as we wait for the days ahead as to what may or may not happen.

Ukrainian President Zelensky Meeting with Secretary Austin at the Pentagon

August 31, 2021

  • Secretary Lloyd Austin: As you know sir, President Biden has approved a new $60 million security assistance package including Javelin anti-armor systems and more to enable Ukraine to better defend itself against Russian aggression.

  • Secretary Lloyd Austin: Now this department is committed to strengthening our Strategic Defense Partnership. The US Ukraine strategic defense framework that Minister Tehran and I will sign today enhances our cooperation and advances our shared priorities, such as ensuring that our bilateral security cooperation continues to help Ukraine countering Russian aggression and implementing defense and defense industry reforms in support of Ukraine's NATO membership aspirations, and deepening our cooperation in such areas as Black Sea security, cyber defense and intel sharing.

Russian President Putin Annual Call-In Program

June 30, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual call-in question and answer session with citizens from around the country. During this 70-minute portion, he answered questions on relations with Ukraine, the European Union, and the United States, reiterating that whatever sanctions are imposed against Russia, his country’s economy will prevail.


  • Putin: I have already said that it is impossible and it makes no sense to try to restore the Soviet Union by a number of reasons and looking at the demographic processes in a number of former Soviet republic, so it's unreasonable effort to do because we can face a lot of social problems that will be possible to resolve and some issues like the ethnic groups, in various regions, but what should we do about Russia itself without the geopolitical realities and about our internal development?

  • Putin: Why is Ukraine not on the list of countries who are Russia's adversaries? Another question: are you going to meet with Zelensky? Well, why Ukriane is not on the list of adversaries? That's because I do not think that the Ukrainian people are our adversaries. I said it many times and I will say it again. The Ukrainians and Russians, that's one people, one nation.

  • Putin: What I'm worried about is a fundamental thing. They are trying to open up military bases near or inside Ukraine. Making the territory of Ukraine, the territory that's close on the border with Russia a military platform for other countries is a threat to the security of Russia. And this is what worries us. This is what we have to think about.

Discussion: Foreign Affairs Issue Launch with Former Vice President Joe Biden Council on Foreign Affairs

January 23, 2018


  • 00:06:15 Joe Biden: They cannot compete against a unified West. I think that is Putin’s judgment. And so everything he can do to dismantle the post-World War II liberal world order, including NATO and the EU, I think, is viewed as in their immediate self-interest.

  • 00:24:15 Haass: In the piece, the two of you say that there’s no truth that the United States—unlike what Putin seems to believe or say, that the U.S. is seeking regime change in Russia. So the question I have is, should we be? And if not, if we shouldn’t be seeking regime change, what should we be seeking in the way of political change inside Russia? What’s an appropriate agenda for the United States vis-à-vis Russia, internally?

  • 00:24:30 Biden: I’ll give you one concrete example. I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

Confirmation Hearing: Defense Secretary Confirmation Hearing

Senate Armed Services Committee
January 12, 2017

  • 00:20:15 Sen. McCain: For seven decades, the United States has played a unique role in the world. We’ve not only put America first, but we’ve done so by maintaining and advancing a world order that has expanded security, prosperity, and freedom. This has required our alliances, our trade, our diplomacy, our values, but most of all, our military for when would-be aggressors aspire to threaten world order. It’s the global striking power of America’s armed forces that must deter or thwart their ambitions. Too many Americans, too many Americans seem to have forgotten this in recent years. Too many have forgotten that our world order is not self-sustaining. Too many have forgotten that while the threats we face may not have purely military solutions, they all have military dimensions. In short, too many have forgotten that hard power matters—having it, threatening it, leveraging it for diplomacy, and, at times, using it. Fairly or not, there is a perception around the world that America is weak and distracted, and that has only emboldened our adversaries to challenge the current world order.

Daily Briefing: Nuland Tape Press Conference

February 6, 2014.

Jen Psaki, State Department Spokesperson

  • 0:19 Reporter: Can you say whether you—if this call is a recording of an authentic conversation between Assistant Secretary Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt? Jen Psaki: Well, I’m not going to confirm or outline details. I understand there are a lot of reports out there, and there’s a recording out there, but I’m not going to confirm a private diplomatic conversation. Reporter: So you are not saying that you believe this is a—you think this is not authentic? You think this is a— Psaki: It’s not an accusation I’m making. I’m just not going to confirm the specifics of it. Reporter: Well, you can’t even say whether there was a—that this call—you believe that this call, you believe that this recording is a recording of a real telephone call? Psaki: I didn’t say it was inauthentic. I think we can leave it at that. Reporter: Okay, so, you’re allowing the fact that it is authentic. Psaki: Yes. Reporter: “Yes,” okay. Psaki: Do you have a question about it?

Phone Conversation: Nuland-Pyatt Leaked Phone Conversation

February 4, 2014

  • Nuland: Good. So I don’t think Klitsch [Vitali Klitschko] should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Pyatt: Yeah, I mean I guess, in terms of him not going into the government, just sort of letting him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of, sort of, the process moving ahead, we want to keep the moderate Democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok and his guys and I’m sure that’s part of what Yanukovych is calculating on all this. Nuland: I think Yatz [Arseniy Yatsenyuk] is the guy with the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the guy. What he needs is Klitsch [Vitali Klitschko] And Tyahnybok On the outside, he needs to be talking to them four times a week. You know, I just think Klitsch [Vitali Klitschko] Going in he’s going to be at that level working for Yatsenyuk it’s just not gonna work. Pyatt: We want to get someone out here with and international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing. And then the other issue is some kind of outreach to Yanukovych. We’ll probably regroup on that tomorrow as we see how things fall into place. Nuland: So on that piece, Jeff, I wrote the note, Sullivan’s come back to me saying “you need Biden,” and I said probably tomorrow for an attaboy and get the deeds to stick, Biden’s willing. Pyatt Great.

Press Conference: Senator John McCain on Ukraine at the Atlantic Council

December 19, 2013.

  • 00:16:45 McCain: If Ukraine’s political crisis persists or deepens, which is a real possibility, we must support creative Ukrainian efforts to resolve it. Senator Murphy and I heard a few such ideas last weekend—from holding early elections, as the opposition is now demanding, to the institution of a technocratic government with a mandate to make the difficult reforms required for Ukraine’s long-term economic health and sustainable development. Decisions such as these are for Ukrainians to make—no one else—and if they request our assistance, we should provide it where possible. Finally, we must encourage the European Union and the IMF to keep their doors open to Ukraine. Ultimately, the support of both institutions is indispensable for Ukraine’s future. And eventually, a Ukrainian President, either this one or a future one, will be prepared to accept the fundamental choice facing the country, which is this: While there are real short-term costs to the political and economic reforms required for IMF assistance and EU integration, and while President Putin will likely add to these costs by retaliating against Ukraine’s economy, the long-term benefits for Ukraine in taking these tough steps are far greater and almost limitless. This decision cannot be borne by one person alone in Ukraine. Nor should it be. It must be shared—both the risks and the rewards—by all Ukrainians, especially the opposition and business elite. It must also be shared by the EU, the IMF and the United States. All of us in the West should be prepared to help Ukraine, financially and otherwise, to overcome the short-term pain that reforms will require and Russia may inflict.

Discussion: Beyond NAFTA and GATT

April 20, 1994

Arthur Dunkel, Director General of the UN

  • 26:00:00 Dunkel: If I look back at the last 25 years, what did we have? We had two worlds: The so-called Market Economy world and the centrally planned world; the centrally planned world disappeared. One of the main challenges of the Uruguay round has been to create a world wide system. I think we have to think of that. Secondly, why a world wide system? Because, basically, I consider that if governments cooperate in trade policy field, you reduce the risks of tension – political tension and even worse than that.”

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Dec 20, 2021
CD243: Target Nicaragua

In mid-November, following the re-election of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Congress passed and President Biden signed the RENACER Act, which escalated an ongoing economic war against President Daniel Ortega. In this episode learn about what the RENACER Act does as we examine the situation in Nicaragua and find out and why Daniel Ortega has a target on his back.

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

Essential Background Episodes

CD102: The World Trade Organization: COOL?

CD167: Combating Russia (NDAA 2018) LIVE

CD186: National Endowment for Democracy

CD187: Combating China

Rabbit Hole Episodes

CD041: Why Attack Syria?

CD067: What Do We Want In Ukraine?

CD108: Regime Change (Syria)

CD131: Bombing Libya

CD156: Sanctions – Russia, North Korea & Iran

CD172: The Illegal Bombing of Syria

CD176: Target Venezuela: Regime Change in Progress

CD190: A Coup for Capitalism

CD191: The “Democracies” Of Elliott Abrams

CD208: The Brink of the Iran War

CD224: Social Media Censorship

CD225: Targets of the Free Marketeers

CD229: Target Belarus

U.S.-Nicaragua Relations

Maureen Taft-Morales. November 4, 2021. “Nicaragua in Brief: Political Developments in 2021, U.S. Policy, and Issues for Congress.” Congressional Research Service.

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. September 14, 2021. U.S. Relations With Nicaragua

William I. Robinson. August 19, 2021. “Crisis in Nicaragua: Is the Ortega-Murillo Government Leftist? (Part I)” North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)

Clare Ribando Seelke. March 17, 2008. “Nicaragua: Political Situation and U.S. Relations” [RS22836]. Congressional Research Service.

Maureen Taft-Morales. April 19, 2007. “Nicaragua: The Election of Daniel Ortega and Issues in U.S. Relations [RL33983] Congressional Research Service.

IMF Staff. May 16, 2006. “Nicaragua : Staff Report for the 2005 Article IV Consultation, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Reviews Under the Three Year Arrangement Under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, Requests for Rephasing and Waiver of Performance Criteria, Financing Assurances Review, and Request for Extension of the Arrangement.” The International Monetary Fund.

Author’s Name Redacted. May 16, 1997. “Nicaragua: Changes Under the Chamorro Government and U.S. Concerns” [96-813 F]. Congressional Research Service.

Edgar Chamorro. January 9, 1986. “Terror Is the Most Effective Weapon of Nicaragua's 'Contras.'” The New York Times.

Fred Hiatt, Joanne Omang, Michael Getler and Don Oberdorfer. April 7, 1984. “CIA Helped To Mine Ports In Nicaragua.” The Washington Post.

Nicaragua Relationships to Russia and China

100% Noticias. September 9, 2021. “Nicaraguan Parliament Ratifies Security Agreement with Russia. Havana Times.

“Russia, Nicaragua ink information security deal.” July 19, 2021. TASS: Russian News Agency. Frida Ghitis. June 8, 2017. “A Russian Satellite-Tracking Facility in Nicaragua Raises Echoes of the Cold War.” World Politics Review.

Cristina Silva. May 22, 2017. “New Cold War: Is Russia Spying on the U.S. From a Nicaragua Military Compound?” Newsweek.

Carrie Kahn. November 17, 2016. “U.S. To Monitor Security Agreement Signed Between Russia And Nicaragua.” NPR Morning Edition.

John Otis. June 4, 2015. “Nicaraguan Canal Plan Riles Landholders.” The Wall Street Journal.

Matthew Miller. May 4, 2014. “China's 'ordinary' billionaire behind grand Nicaragua canal plan.” Reuters.

2021 Sanctions

“Nicaragua Leaves the Organization of American States.” November 19, 2021. Telesur.

U.S. Department of the Treasury. November 15, 2021. “Treasury Sanctions Public Ministry of Nicaragua and Nine Government Officials Following Sham November Elections.”

Antony Blinken. November 15, 2021. “New Sanctions Following Sham Elections in Nicaragua.” U.S. Department of State.

Ned Price. August 6, 2021. “The United States Restricts Visas of 50 Additional Nicaraguan Individuals Affiliated With Ortega-Murillo Regime.” U.S. Department of State.

Antony Blinken. July 12, 2021. “The United States Restricts Visas of 100 Nicaraguans Affiliated with Ortega-Murillo Regime.” U.S. Department of State.

U.S. Department of the Treasury. June 9, 2021. “Treasury Sanctions Nicaraguan Officials for Supporting Ortega’s Efforts to Undermine Democracy, Human Rights, and the Economy.”

“Nicaragua Minimum Wage.”

2021 Nicaraguan Elections

“North Americans Debunk US & OAS Claims on Nicaragua Election.” November 10, 2021. Kawsachun News.

Monique Beals. November 7, 2021. “Biden slams Nicaragua's 'sham elections,' calls Ortegas autocrats.” The Hill.

Meta (formerly Facebook). November 1, 2021. “October 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report.”

Meta (formerly Facebook). November 1, 2021. “October 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report Summary.”

Nahal Toosi. October 26, 2021. “Tiny Nicaragua is becoming a big problem for Joe Biden.” Politico.

Antony Blinken. October 22, 2021. “The United States Applauds the OAS Resolution Condemning the Undemocratic Electoral Process and Repression in Nicaragua.” U.S. Embassy in El Salvador.

Carlos Dada. October 6, 2021. “La prioridad ahorita es que no nos maten; luego, la justicia y la democracia.” El Faro.

Kai M. Thaler and Ryan C. Berg. August 24, 2021. “To replace autocrats of Nicaragua, think beyond this fall’s election.” The Los Angeles Times.

Associated Press. December 11, 2020. “Nicaragua opposition figure seeks rule changes for 2021 vote.” The Associated Press.

Foreign Agent Law

Guy José Bendaña-Guerrero. May 2, 2021. “Changes in Nicaragua's Consumer Law.” Marca Sur.

“Nicaragua: National Assembly Approves Law To Defend Its People. December 22, 2020. Telesur.

LAND Staff. October 29, 2020. “Nicaragua Approves Cybercrime Law.” Latin America News Dispatch (LAND).

Associated Press. October 15, 2020. “Nicaragua passes controversial 'foreign agent' law.” ABC News.

Oretega’s Arrested Opponents

Felix Maradiaga Biography. World Economic Forum.

Felix Maradiaga Curriculum Vitae.

Cristiana Chamorro Biography. The Dialogue: Leadership for the Americas.

Cristiana Chamorro LinkedIn Profile.

Juan Sebastian Chamorro LinkedIn Profile.

Samantha Sultoon Biography. The Atlantic Council.

Jared Genser, Brian Tronic, Stephanie Herrmann, and Michael Russ. October 28, 2021. “Petition to United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.” Perseus Strategies.

Tom Phillips. October 22, 2021. “Nicaraguan business leaders arrested in Ortega’s pre-election crackdown.” The Guardian.

“Nicaragua: Police arrest 2 more opposition contenders.” September 6, 2021. Deutsche Welle (DW).

Ismael López Ocampo and Mary Beth Sheridan. June 9, 2021. “As election looms, Nicaraguan government arrests Ortega’s challengers.” The Washington Post.

“Ortega Holds Arturo Cruz Prisoner at Interrogation Jail.” June 7, 2021. Havana Times.

“Nicaraguan police detain another opposition presidential contender. June 5, 2021. Reuters.

“Nicaragua: Opposition Leader Linked To Money Laundering Scandal.” June 3, 2021. Telesur.

The Guardian Staff and agencies in Managua. June 2, 2021. “Nicaragua police detain opposition leader and expected Ortega challenger.” The Guardian.

Trump Era - April 2018 Protests

Paz Gómez. August 25, 2021. “The Break-Up: COSEP’s Love Affair with Daniel Ortega.” Impunity Observer.

Mary Beth Sheridan. August 4, 2019. “Nicaragua’s Ortega is strangling La Prensa, one of Latin America’s most storied newspapers.” The Washington Post.

U.S. Department of the Treasury. April 17, 2019. “Treasury Targets Finances of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s Regime.”

Samantha Sultoon. November 29, 2018. “Trump administration’s new Nicaragua sanctions strategically target the top.” New Atlanticist Blog from the Atlantic Council.

Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Nicaragua [Executive Order 13851] November 27, 2018. Federal Register Vol. 83 No. 230.

Rocio Cara Labrador. November 26, 2018. “Nicaragua in Crisis: What to Know.” Council of Foreign Relations.

Rafael Bernal. November 01, 2018. “Bolton dubs Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua the 'Troika of Tyranny'” The Hill.

Mabel Calero. July 26, 2018. “Daniel Ortega buries his model of alliance with private companies that lasted 11 years.” La Prensa.

Max Blumenthal. June 19, 2018. “US govt meddling machine boasts of ‘laying the groundwork for insurrection’ in Nicaragua.” The Grayzone.

“Pension reforms in Nicaragua leads to violent protests and opposition from business groups.” The Caribbean Council.

Foreign “Assistance” to Nicaragua


National Endowment for Democracy Grants Awarded to Fundacion Nicaraguense para el Desarrollo Economico y Social

National Endowment for Democracy Grants Awarded to Instituto de Estudios Estrategicos y Politicas Publicas

Associated Press. August 26, 2021. “Nicaragua Orders Closure of 15 More NGOs.” U.S. News and World Report.

William I. Robinson. August 20, 2021. “Crisis in Nicaragua: Is the US Trying to Overthrow the Ortega-Murillo Government? (Part II)” North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)

Elliott Abrams. June 9, 2021. “Biden and Democracy in Nicaragua.” Council on Foreign Relations.

Ben Norton. June 1, 2021. “How USAID created Nicaragua’s anti-Sandinista media apparatus, now under money laundering investigation.” The Grayzone.

John Perry. August 4, 2020. “The US contracts out its regime change operation in Nicaragua.” Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua [RFTOP No: 72052420R00004] “Section C - Statement of Work.” March-April 2020.

USAID OIG Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office. October 24, 2019. “Financial Audit of the Media Strengthening Program in Nicaragua, Managed by Fundación Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Para la Reconciliación y la Democracia, Cooperative Agreement AID-524-A-14-00001, January 1 to December 31, 2018 (9-524-20-004-R)” USAID.

IMF Western Hemisphere Department Staff. June 27, 2017. “Nicaragua : Selected Issues.” The International Monetary Fund.

Richard Falk. February 21, 2012. “When an ‘NGO’ is not an NGO: Twists and turns under Egyptian skies.” Al Jazeera.


S. 1064: RENACER Act

Sponsor: Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

Passed by Voice Vote in the Senate
November 3, 2021 House Vote Breakdown

Law Outline

Sec. 2: Sense of Congress

  • "Congress unequivocally condemns the politically motivated and unlawful detention of presidential candidates Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Felix Maradiaga, and Juan Sebastian Chamorro."
  • "Congress unequivocally condemns the passage of the Foreign Agents Regulation Law, the Special Cybercrimes Law, the Self Determination Law, and the Consumer Protection Law by the National Assembly of Nicaragua..."

Sec. 3: Review of Participation of Nicaragua in Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement

  • "The President should review" the continued participation of Nicaragua in the agreement.
    • The authority listed is Article 21.2 of the agreement that says, "Nothing in this agreement shall be construed... to preclude a Party from applying measures that it considers necessary for the fulfillment of its obligations with respect to the maintenance or restoration of international peace or security, or the protection of its own essential security interests."
    • President Trump issued an Executive Order on November 27, 2018 that said that the response to the protests that began on April 18, 2018 "and the Ortega regime's systematic dismantling and undermining of democratic institutions and the rule of law, its use of indiscriminate violence and repressive tactics against civilians, as well as its corruption leading to the destabilization of Nicaragua's economy constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

Sec. 4: Restrictions on International Financial Institutions Relating to Nicaragua

  • Directs the United States Executive Director at the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and the International Monetary Fund to "increase scrutiny of any loan or financial or technical assistance provided for a project in Nicaragua" and "to ensure" that the loan or assistance is administered through an entity with full independence from the Government of Nicaragua.

Sec. 5: Targeted Sanctions to Advance Democratic Elections

  • The Secretary of State and Secretary of Treasury, "in consultation" with the intelligence community, "shall develop and implement a coordinated strategy" for implementing targeted sanctions in order to "facilitate the necessary conditions for free, fair, and transparent elections in Nicaragua."
  • Targets sanctions specifically at...
    • Officials in the government of President Daniel Ortega
    • Family members of Daniel Ortega
    • High ranking members of the National Nicaraguan Police
    • Members of the Supreme Electoral Council of Nicaragua
    • Officials of the Central Bank of Nicaragua
    • Party members and elected officials from the Sandinista National Liberation Front and their family members
    • Businesses that conduct "corrupt" financial transactions with officials in the government of President Daniel Ortega, his party, or his family.
  • The sanctions are authorized by the 2018 law (outlined below) against "any foreign person" who, on or after April 18, 2018...
    • Used violence "or conduct" that "constitutes a serious abuse" against protestors
    • Taken "actions or policies" that undermine "democratic processes or institutions"
    • Any current or former government official that used "private or public assets for personal gain or political purposes"
    • Any current or former government official involved in corruption related to government contracts
    • Any current or former government official involved in bribery
    • Any current or former government official that transferred the proceeds of corruption
    • Arrested or prosecuted a person disseminating information to the public
  • The sanctions include...
    • Asset blocking of "all property and interests in property" if they are in the United States, come within the United States, or come within the possession or control of a "United States person."
    • Exclusion from the United States and revocation of visas and other documents.
  • Anyone who "violates, attempts to violate, conspires to violate, or causes a violation" of sanctions can be hit with a civil penalty of a $250,000 maximum fine or up to twice the amount of sanctions violating transaction and/or a criminal penalty of up to $1 million or up to 20 years in prison.

Sec. 6: Developing and Implementing a Coordinated Sanctions Strategy with Diplomatic Partners

  • Requires the Secretary of State to coordinate with other countries - specifically Canada, members of the European Union, and governments in Latin America and the Caribbean - to impose the sanctions together "in order to advance democratic elections in Nicaragua."

Sec. 7: Inclusion of Nicaragua in List of Countries Subject to Certain Sanctions Relating to Corruption

  • Adds Nicaragua to an annual report that gets submitted to Congress. The people identified in the report who are accused of corruption in regards to government contracts, bribery, extortion, money laundering, or "violence, harassment, or intimidation directed at governmental or non governmental corruption investigators" will have their visas revoked and be prohibited from entering the United States.

Sec. 9: Classified Report on the Activities of the Russian Federation in Nicaragua

  • The Department of State - working with intelligence officials - will submit a classified report to Congress within 90 days about...
    • Cooperation between the Nicaraguan military and Russian military, intelligence, security forces, law enforcement, and Russian security contractors.
    • Cooperation between Russia and Nicaragua in telecommunications and satellites
    • Economic cooperation, specifically in banking
    • Threats that cooperation between Russia and Nicaragua pose to "United States national interests and national security."

Sec. 12: Supporting Independent News Media and Freedom of Information in Nicaragua

  • The Secretary of State, Administrator of USAID and the CEO of the United States Agency for Global Media will submit a report to Congress listing all media "directly or indirectly owned or controlled by President Daniel Ortega, members of the Ortega family, or known allies of the Ortega government" and it will access the extent to which Voice of America is reaching the Nicaraguan people.

Sec. 13: Amendment to Short Title of Public Law 115-335

  • Renames the "Nicaraguan Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018" the "Nicaragua Investment and Conditionality Act of 2018" or "NICA Act"

H.R. 1918: Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018

Signed into law on December 20, 2018
Sponsor: Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

Law Outline

Sec. 2: Sense of Congress on Advancing a Negotiated Solution to Nicaragua's Crisis

  • Congress wanted the Catholic Church of Nicaragua to negotiate for early elections on behalf of "civil society", the student movement, private sector, and the "political opposition"
  • Congress did like that the Government of Nicaragua was refusing to negotiate

Sec. 4: Restrictions on International Financial Institutions Relating to Nicaragua

  • Forces the Treasury Secretary to instruct our representatives at the World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank to oppose "any loan or financial or technical assistance to the Government of Nicaragua for a project in Nicaragua."
    • We can support loans "to address basic human needs" or "promote democracy in Nicaragua"

Sec. 5 : Imposition of Targeted Sanctions with Respect to Nicaragua

  • Authorizes sanctions against "any foreign person" who, on or after April 18, 2018...
    • Used violence "or conduct" that "constitutes a serious abuse" against protestors
    • Taken "actions or policies" that undermine "democratic processes or institutions"
    • Any current or former government official that used "private or public assets for personal gain or political purposes"
    • Any current or former government official involved in corruption related to government contracts
    • Any current or former government official involved in bribery Any current or former government official that transferred the proceeds of corruption
    • Arrested or prosecuted a person disseminating information to the public
  • The sanctions include...
    • Asset blocking of "all property and interests in property" if they are in the United States, come within the United States, or come within the possession or control of a "United States person."
    • Exclusion from the United States and revocation of visas and other documents.
  • Punishes anyone who "violates, attempts to violate, conspires to violate, or causes a violation" of sanctions with a civil penalty up to a $250,000 fine or up to twice the amount of sanctions violating transaction and/or a criminal penalty of up to $1 million or up to 20 years in prison.
  • The asset blocking sanctions do not authorize the blocking of goods imports.

Sec. 6: Annual Certification and Waiver

  • Allows the President to waive the travel restrictions and sanctions.

Sec. 10: Termination

  • The sanctions authorized by this law expire on December 31, 2023.

Audio Sources

Kawsachun News - Nicaragua 2021 Election Observer Press Conference

November 10, 2021

  • Moderator: I present Paul Pumphrey from Friends of the Congo.
    Paul Pumphrey: Here in Nicaragua, I saw a free and fair election. I talked to many people who were not a part of the Sandinistas party. And yet they themselves said they were willing to accept whatever result happened in the election.
    Moderator: Next we have Craig Pasta Jardula who is a journalist based in the United States.
    Craig Pasta Jardula: Mainly, I want to talk about the process, meaning the chain of custody, because that's something that we really saw that was great here in Nicaragua, it made this election a home run. The chain of custody is very strong here, including the fact that in Nicaragua, we have something that is awesome that a lot of countries need to adopt, which is where the vote is cast, it is counted, that ensures a strong chain of custody.
    Moderator: Next is Rick Cohn from Friends of Latin America.
    14:57 Rick Cohn: I want to speak just a little bit though a group of 11 of us went to Bilwi on the Caribbean coast. And in the United States, one of the things they'll use to say this election is fake, is that a high percentage of people voted, and a high percentage of people voted for the FSLN. And that can't happen, because American politicians that would never happen. Well, so I want to say something about why the voters told us they were voting. They told us that basically, they had two Category Four and Category Five hurricanes last year, and the government came and saved their lives, saved many, many lives. And, you know, people have trust in that government. And then the government came in and made sure the electric was up. In Puerto Rico from a year earlier, electric still isn't isn't working, because they, you know, are making money selling electric, but it still doesn't work. They told us they had new roofs put on almost immediately they were delivered. They told us that the schools were rebuilt. All of the schools were in good condition. Oh, the schools and some of them have new buildings. So we had a situation where they were very happy with the performance of the government. And that is why -- oh, they also told us they had one kilometer of road before the FSLN came into power from the neoliberal period, now they have 500 kilometers. And with 70 more kilometers, they'll be able to drive from all the way to Managua, which they've never been able to do in history. So they told us these things. And the FSLN party received the highest percentage of votes, but that's not strange, because they really support the government. They received 86.7% of the vote. You know, there's no way that's made up - it's not fake. It's where they're at. It is certainly the biggest deficiency in democracy in Nicaragua is the interference that there is so much interference from the US government and the media, and the censorship and the lies that they tell. That's the interference that's occurring in this election.
  • 33:52 Rick Cohn: Corporate media like Facebook, well, all of the corporate media including Facebook and Twitter, but social media, are actually just part of the US system and they're contracted to provide information back and forth, they're actually an aspect of the government and they close 1000s of people's accounts, who are people, and I met some of them, they're actual people, and they close their accounts. And they weren't, you know, anyone who was saying anything other than the fact that they may have been supporting the Nicaraguan people or opposed to the the sanctions on Nicaragua.


September 21, 2021 House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration and International Economic Policy

*Hearing not on C-SPAN


  • Emily Mendrala
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
  • Laure Chinchilla
    • Former President of Costa Rica
    • Co-Chair at The Inter-American Dialogue
  • Ryan Berg, PhD
    • Senior Fellow in the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
    • Oct. 2018 - Apr. 2021: Research Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
    • Apr. 2018 - Oct. 2018: Research Consultant at The World Bank
    • July 2014 - Oct 2014: US State Department negotiator at the Organization of American States (OAS)
    • 2009: Intern for Paul Ryan
  • Berta Valle
    • Wife of Felix Maradiaga

  • Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ): The regime has rounded up nearly every potential challenger to Ortega and has not even tried to hide these arrests and forced disappearances under the veneer of legality.

  • 05:42 Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ): Having written the NICA Act with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), I am frustrated that the International Monetary Fund recently provided $350 million to the regime. The IMF should not take Ortega's us word for it that these funds will be used to address the COVID pandemic.

  • 06:53 Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ): We should also begin preparing a number of severe diplomatic consequences, assuming Nicaragua's election in November becomes a coronation for Ortega. Nicaragua should be suspended under the International Democratic Charter on November 8, and its participation under the Central America Free Trade Agreement should be reconsidered.

  • 10:39 Rep. Mark Green (R-TN): On November 7 a political farce will be held, claiming to resemble elections. No one should be fooled about the outcome -- any hope of unseating the socialist dictatorship is sitting inside of Ortega's prisons.

  • 13:56 *Emily Mendrala: As you are well aware, the Ortega-Murillo government has carried out a ruthless crackdown over the past several months, canceling the registration of opposition parties, incarcerating journalists, opposition leaders, potential presidential candidates, students, private sector leaders and others who defend free and fair elections, attacking the free press, closing long standing NGOs that provide humanitarian and medical assistance to Nicaraguans in need.

  • 15:06 Emily Mendrala: In the face of sham elections in Nicaragua, we and our international partners must continue to denounce and push back against the Ortega-Murillo government's anti-democratic rule as well as its use of Russian-inspired laws to carry out repression.

  • 17:56 Emily Mendrala: Through USAID we continue to support Nicaraguan civil society, independent media and human rights defenders. Our continued support assures Nicaraguans that the outside world has not forgotten them.

  • 19:06 Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ): Are we using our voice? Is the administration using its voice and vote with international financial institution to oppose loans and other financial assistance to Ortega? Because I have to tell you, it's very upsetting to me that we do all this work here. We asked the administration to put sanctions on different people. And yet the IMF, which we probably contribute the largest amount of money, or if not, one of the largest amounts of money, they seem to just ignore what's going on in Nicaragua. And it has to -- I intend to write a letter to the IMF. And hopefully we'll have them before this committee, because this is not acceptable.

  • 20:22 Emily Mendrala: We are using our voice and our vote and every opportunity in front of multilateral institutions to oppose lending to the Ortega-Murillo government. We will continue to use our voice, vote and influence to advocate against lending from international financial institutions to the Ortega-Murillo government and we will also continue to collaborate with international partners where appropriate: EU, Canada and others to do the same.

  • 30:43 Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): The upcoming November 7 elections will be neither free nor fair

  • 1:04:30 Berta Valle: Even though Félix [Maradiaga] has dedicated his life to serving our country, the regime has charged him and others with a conspiracy to undermine national integrity. The government is alleging that Félix and others were part of a global conspiracy to use foreign resources, including from the US Agency for International Development, the International Republican Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy to harm the interests of the nation.

  • 1:16:33 Ryan Berg: As well as November 7, I think we need to declare Nicaragua's elections illegitimate under current conditions.

  • 1:27:16 Ryan Berg: Thank you, Congressman Green, for the question. Yes, the two countries that I would point out as extra-hemispheric actors who have have come into the hemisphere to shore up the Ortega regime are Russia and Iran. Russia, we've seen with a significant presence in Nicaragua for a while. Its increased its presence in past years, to an extent that I think should be very alarming for the US government. Not only does it have a number of port agreements with Nicaragua, and access to the Caribbean, where it can engage in anti access and area denial capabilities, potentially. But also in cyberspace. We saw recently the Russians and Nicaraguans sign a major agreement in the cyberspace, particularly to help the regime not only increase its domestic security apparatus, but to spy potentially on the opposition on our own citizens, and indeed, potentially on on other governments in Central America, depending upon the strength of the equipment transfers that we'll see in future. So they have a whole number or whole range of capabilities that they are developing within Nicaragua, that there are signals intelligence stations that are actually quite close to the US Embassy in Managua. And so that's that's Russia, Russia has an interest in shoring up this regime on the cheap. And I think Iran has approached the regime in a number of ways, most specifically, in offering partnerships to circumvent US sanctions architecture, in which it excels, because of the sanctions architecture that it has been under for so long. And we haven't seen as deep I would say, as a presence of the Iranians in Nicaragua, but it's it's there and it's also concerning. I think, in general, Congressman, part of the Ortega regime's plan for survival is to sort of recreate a situation of rivalry and enmity in Central America again, and lend a platform for major geopolitical competitors to the United States to increase their capabilities on the US doorstep and I think that's a significant aspect of this political, economic and social crisis here.

  • 1:35:50 Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ): If the Ortega regime moves ahead was stealing this November's elections the international community must come together to impose a very steep price.

John Bolton: Miami Dade College’s National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower

November 1, 2018

  • John Bolton: The "Troika of Tyranny" in this hemisphere -- Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua -- has finally met its match.

  • John Bolton: Today in this hemisphere we are also confronted once again, with the destructive forces of oppression, socialism and totalitarianism. In Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, we see the perils of poisonous ideologies left unchecked.

Nicaraguan President Speech at the United Nations General Assembly

September 25, 2007

  • 16:50 President Daniel Ortega: The General Assembly is simply a reflection of this world where a capitalist and imperialist minority is imposing global capitalism to impoverish the world continue to enslave us all and promote apartheid against Latin American immigrants and against African immigrants in Europe. This global capitalism is one beast and it has tentacles everywhere.

  • 25:30 President Daniel Ortega: They have to understand once and for all, that just as they have managed to profit from privatizations that have given rise to these huge multi-nationals that then set up in developing countries, they say that they are helping us. No business person provides assistance, they simply go to earn as much money as they can, they don't go to invest. Developing countries are considered to be insecure countries, and we are simply being ransacked. If we compare the volume of riches that they're extracting from our countries -- the capitalists in developed countries I'm talking about -- through their major companies, the globalized multinationals. If we can compare that wealth with what the Latin American immigrants send back to their families from the U.S. or the Asian and African families in Europe send back to their families, it is a miserable amount compared to the volume of wealth that is extracted on a daily basis by these forms of institutionalized oppression.

  • 28:30 President Daniel Ortega: These companies are simply using cheap labor. They are benefiting from clauses in free trade agreements. I've got us free trade, why not? Free trade for societies and nations. But clearly in that system, it's the law of the jungle the strongest will impose themselves on the rest. What well the world needs is fair trade. What the world demands is really a genuine change in the capitalist, globalized, imperialist economies, that is where we need to have a change. They have to change this concept that they have of a free market. They have to change the slant of these free trade agreements.

Nicaraguan Presidential Address to Congress

April 16, 1991

  • 20:00 President Violetta Chamorro: My government is committed to radically reducing government intervention in the economy and the enormous bureaucratic apparatus that we have inherited. Our Congress approved a law that authorizes private banks to operate and encourages foreign investments and is studying the privatization law in order to convert government to businesses. We are rapidly advancing towards the establishment of a social market economy. Restrictions on prices and salaries must be lifted. Likewise, we have initiated a serious economic stabilization program accompanied by the corresponding tax reforms in order to discipline and improve and decrease public spending to encourage domestic production and to stimulate private domestic and foreign investment.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Dec 06, 2021
Goodbye Thank You Episodes

This show wouldn't exist without its producers who have paid for Congressional Dish to keep it going and growing for 9 years and counting. In this last public bonus Thank You episode, hear about the changes coming to your podcast as it enters its 10th year. It's time to refocus and give you more of what you're paying for: Deep dives into what Congress is doing with your money and in your name.

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Background Sources

CD118: How to Get Your Name on the Ballot

Producer-recommended Sources

Kevin Carney. October 26, 2021. “Renewable energy: How can it replace fossil fuels?” An Interesting Blog.

Andi Davis. October 22, 2021. “First-ever U.S. zero-carbon green hydrogen storage hub to be developed in MS.” Super Talk: Mississippi Media.

Business Wire. October 19, 2021. “Hy Stor Energy Developing First-Ever U.S. Zero-Carbon Green Hydrogen Storage Hub.”

Zoe Schiffer. October 18, 2021. “Netflix trans employees and allies release a list of demands ahead of the walkout.” The Verge.

Cristan Williams. “Why I support #CancelNetflix. It’s not because Chapelle is offensive.” The Trans Advocate.

The Energy Gang. October 14, 2021. “Where Green Hydrogen is Headed [Special Content]” Wood Mackenzie.

J.K. Rowling. June 10, 2020. “J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues.”

Patrick Bedard. October 1, 2005. “The Case for Nuke Cars - it's Called 'Hydrogen.'” Car and Driver.

BMW Group. November 5, 2000. “BMW Introduces World’s First Production-based Hydrogen Powered Car.”

Donate to Jill Stein

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Nov 22, 2021
CD242 The Offshore Drilling Police

On October 1, 2021 an oil pipeline that was likely struck by a cargo ship's anchor leaked tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean and onto the beaches of Orange County, CA. In this episode, examine how the oil spill happened by listening to testimony provided to both the U.S. Congress and the California State Senate, and learn about the disturbing lack of policing that is taking place under the sea.

Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links

  • Contribute monthly or a lump sum via PayPal
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  • Use your bank’s online bill pay function to mail contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North, Number 4576, Crestview, FL 32536.

Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish

Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

Background Sources

Articles and Documents

Nicole Charky. April 7, 2021. “LA City Council Urges Newsom To Close Playa Del Rey Oil Storage.” Patch.

Nicole Charky. March 23, 2021. “Is It Time To Shut Down The Playa Del Rey Oil Storage Facility?” Patch.

U.S. Government Accountability Office. Offshore Oil and Gas: Updated Regulations Needed to Improve Pipeline Oversight and Decommissioning. GAO-21-293.

Heal the Bay. June 24, 2015 . “Confirmed: L.A. Tar Balls Linked to Santa Barbara Spill.”

Heal the Bay. August 20, 2012. “What Are Those Black Clumps on the Beach?”

Sarah S. Elkind. June 1, 2012. “Oil in the City: The Fall and Rise of Oil Drilling in Los Angeles.” The Journal of American History, Volume 99, Issue 1.

Tom Fowler. February 21, 2012. “U.S., Mexico Sign Deal on Oil Drilling in Gulf.“ The Wall Street Journal.

APPEL News Staff. May 10, 2011. “Academy Case Study: The Deepwater Horizon Accident Lessons for NASA.” APPEL News, Volume 4, Issue 1.

Offshore Technology. “Projects: Macondo Prospect, Gulf of Mexico.”

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. November 23, 1970. Treaty to Resolve Pending Boundary Differences and Maintain the Rio Grande and Colorado River as the International Boundary.

Open Secrets Profiles

Rep. Yvette Herrell - New Mexico District 02

Rep. Paul Gosar - Arizona District 04

Rep. Bruce Westerman - Arkansas District 04

Rep. Katie Porter - California District 45

Rep. Pete Stauber - Minnesota District 08


Playa del Ray in the 1920s

2021 Huntington Bay Oil Spill Image 1. CA State Senate: Natural Resources and Water Committee Informational Hearing Southern California Oil Spill: Preparation response, ongoing risks, and potential solutions.

2021Huntington Bay Oil Spill Image 2 CA State Senate: Natural Resources and Water Committee Informational Hearing Southern California Oil Spill: Preparation response, ongoing risks, and potential solutions.

Mileage of Decommissioned Pipelines Removed Relative to Those Left in Place. GAO Analysis of Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Data, GAO-21-293.

Potential Effects of Currents on Pipeline Leak Identification. GAO-21-293.


Southern California Oil Spill: Preparation response, ongoing risks, and potential solutions

California State Senate: Natural Resources and Water Committee
Thursday, October 28, 2021


Chuck Bonham
Head of California Department of Fishing and Wildlife
Tom Cullen
Administrator of OSPR (Offshore Spill Prevention and Response)
Kim Carr
Mayor Pro Tem, City of Huntington Beach
Brian Nowicki
California Climate Policy Director at the Center for Biological Diversity
Pete Stauffer
Environmental Director for the Surfrider Foundation
Jennifer Lucchesi
State Lands Commission


  • 3:44 Senator Henry Stern: But the pipeline that runs to Amplify and Beta Offshore’s platform is the source of the oil production that runs through the pipeline in question. That pipeline is in federal jurisdiction but it brings that produced oil onshore into the state waters and eventually on state lands.

  • 21:05 Chuck Bonham: What we now know is about four and a half miles offshore, so in federal waters, there's a pipeline that runs from one platform, which is a collection of three platforms operated by a company called Beta Offshore, owned by a company called Amplify Energy. That last platform, Ellie, has a pipeline which delivers the product 17.7 miles inland, where the pipe comes on shore just below the Queen Mary more or less, to land based infrastructure. That pipe had a rupture in it. And we now know based on visual and diver and other evidentiary efforts, that about 4000 feet of that pipeline was moved about 105 feet off of center. And in that stretch is about a 13 inch horizontal, almost like a hairline fracture. If you could imagine a bone break in a pipe, which is, I think, about 13 inches in diameter, concrete on the outside and metal on the inside. That's the likely source of the leak.

  • 22:25 Chuck Bonham: From the very beginning moments, all of us involved assumed a worse case. At that moment in time we had a planning number of a spill of about 3,134 Barrels which is 131,000 gallons rounding as a maximum worst case.

  • 30:59 Chuck Bonham: A month later we now think the likely spill number is 24,696 gallons

  • 41:13 Chuck Bonham: Fortunately given the size of the spill, there were not as many wildlife casualties as could have occurred during a higher migration cycle.
    1:25:47 Mayor Kim Carr: So starting off on Saturday, October 2, it's been brought up that yes, we did have a very large air show happening that day. About 1.5 million people were on the beach that day to see the Pacific Air Show. And around nine o'clock that morning, there were city personnel that heard an announcement on VHF channel 16 by the Coast Guard of a possible oil spill in the area, but nothing very specific. At that time, no major details, it wasn't anything to really worry about. By 10:30 in the morning, the Coast Guard had advised us that the spill was larger than originally thought. However, we didn't have a whole lot of information as to where the location of the spill was nor of the scope of the situation. By 11 o'clock that same day, the Coast Guard had announced that it was now going to be a major spill, and that the incident management team was being activated.

  • 1:28:00 Mayor Kim Carr: At two o'clock, the Coast Guard had advised us that the oil spill would not be reaching the shores of Huntington Beach until Monday, October 4. And again, we didn't have a whole lot of information as to where the spill was. We knew it was off our coast, but we didn't know exactly where or exactly how large the spill was. But then interestingly enough, just a half hour later, we started to receive messages that there were boats that were experiencing oil damage just outside of the air show flight box. And so that became a concern for our city. So then we activated our fire crews, our hazmat team, or the oil spill response trailer and started to do the mitigation efforts. Then this is where it gets to be very, very interesting. At 2:45 the city was notified by the Newport Beach rescue vessel that there were private contractors conducting oil spill cleanups outside of the air show flight box.

  • 1:32:42 Mayor Kim Carr: What we could have done better, what would have been an opportunity was perhaps if the Coast Guard had some sort of awareness, the night before or when that nine o'clock notification came through, we could have been even more proactive because as I said before, every hour during these crises matters.

  • 1:34:00 Mayor Kim Carr: The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve was spared. The Talbert Marsh does have oil damage and again looking back, if we could have had maybe a few more hours notice, we probably could have mitigated that damage even more than what we did.

  • 1:43:17 Brian Nowicki: Like all of you, we at the Center for Biological Diversity are heartbroken by every oil and seabird and are alarmed at the miles of marshes and coastline that will be poisoned for years by this bill. We're angry that yet again, the oil industry has proven its inability to contain its toxic pollution. The structure of pipeline funding to beach proves yet again, that every piece of fossil fuel infrastructure is yet another disaster waiting to happen. And there is a lot of that infrastructure in California. It's increasingly old, outdated in disrepair and poorly located, like the 40 year old pipeline that gave us this most recent spill, all of which makes it increasingly dangerous. Looking beyond the nine oil platforms and islands in state water, there are 23 platforms in federal waters off California. But the fact that those 23 platforms are a little farther from shore should not give us much comfort. First, because oil spills from those operations still end up in our water, our beaches and our wildlife. But also as we've heard today, further from shore also means longer stretches of aging and dangerously vulnerable infrastructure, like the 17 mile long pipeline we're discussing today are clean, reliable federal regulations to protect us from oil spills in federal waters. Federal regulators continue to prove that they are perfectly willing to allow those platforms to continue operating to the last drop of oil despite the mounting dangers of decaying infrastructure well beyond its intended lifespan, outdated drilling plans, numerous violations and insufficient bonds to pay for decommissioning.
  • 1:45:15 Brian Nowicki: But I want to be clear that this is not a problem unique to offshore platforms. At the exact same time that 10s of thousands of gallons of oil were rolling up onto beaches and marshes in Orange County, there was an oil spill in Kern County that is now approaching 5 million gallons of fluid, a mixture of crude oil, toxic wastewater, that includes 600,000 gallons of crude. In fact, in just the last few years, there have been many oil spills in California greater than the spill off Huntington Beach. In the Cymric field alone there were three huge spills in 2019 at 550,000 gallons, 836,000 and 1.2 million gallons respectively. 159,000 in Midway in 2019, 250,000 at McKittrick in 2020. There is another ongoing spill at a separator plant in Cymric that has been leaking since 2003 and has reportedly released as much as 84 million gallons of fluid to date. Now these numbers reflect total combined volumes of crude and produced water and mud, which constitute a toxic mix. As state agencies have testified before this legislature in the past, these dangerous onshore oil operations have contaminated groundwater, land, and wildlife.
  • 1:46:32 Brian Nowicki: After more than 150 years of the oil industry drilling at will in California, the oil is gone and the bottom of the barrel that's left is harder and more dangerous to extract. There's also some of the most carbon polluting crude in the world. With the easy stuff taken, the oil industry is in decline in California, with production down 68% since 1985. The only question is how much more damage will this dying industry do on its way out?
  • 1:49:10 Pete Stauffer: Now with the oil deposit seen as far south as the Mexico border, there are concerns that San Diego wetlands are also being impacted. Moreover, while birds, fish and marine mammals have been the most visibly impacted, the full scale of the ecological damage will take some time to become clear. In the week since the spill event, the oil slick has transformed into an incalculable number of tar balls in the ocean, while tar balls typically float, they can also find their way into underwater sediment or near shore habitats where their impacts on ecological health and wildlife may persist for years or even decades.
  • 1:52:51 Pete Stauffer: According to the federal government there have been at least 44 oil spills since 1969 that have each released more than 10,000 barrels of oil into US waters
  • 2:02:36 Mayor Kim Carr: Just to give you an idea of how much TOT we do receive in Huntington Beach, we receive about $16 million a year. We don't receive anything from those offshore platforms, nothing. And as far as the drilling that we currently have here in Huntington Beach, it's less than $700,000 a year.
  • 2:05:54 Brian Nowicki: What I can't say though, for sure is that it's going to take longer than one season to see what the full impacts are to the local wildlife. And of course, it is wetlands and marshes that often are the most difficult and take the longest to recover from the sorts of impacts.
  • 2:21:11 Jennifer Lucchesi: In 1921, the legislature created the first tidelands oil and gas leasing program. The existing offshore leases the commission is responsible for managing today were issued over a 30 year period between 1938 and 1968. Importantly, I want to highlight a specific act in 1995. The Cunningham shell Act, which serves as a foundational law for the existing legacy oil and gas leases the commission currently manages. Importantly, this Act required the commission to issue oil and gas leases for term not based on years, but for so long as oil and gas is produced in paying quantities. Essentially, this means that Alessi can produce oil and gas pursuant to their state lease indefinitely as long as it is economic for them to do so.

  • 2:58:13 Jennifer Lucchesi: For pipelines that are solely within state waters and under lease with the State Lands Commission, we require the pipelines to be externally and internally inspected annually. And we have engineers on staff that review those inspections and consult with the fire marshal as well with our federal partners on any type of remedial action that needs to happen based on the results of those inspections. For those pipelines that cross both federal and state waters our authority is more limited because the federal government's regulatory authority takes precedence. And PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) is the primary federal agency that regulates those interstate pipelines. They require inspections externally and internally every two years. And that's what this pipeline at issue was subjected to, the platform Elly pipeline.

  • 03:01:20 Senator Dave Min: Let's say you have a pipe and the lease term ends. What powers do you have? What are the considerations you have to follow either statutory or contractually to renew those permits, issue a new permit? Or alternatively, do you have any leeway contractually, statutorily to end those permits prematurely and say, you know, we don't think that, you know, the upkeep is appropriate, you're violating certain provisions, we're just gonna take away your permit prematurely. Do you have any leeway like that? So I'm just trying to get a sense of your flexibility, both in issuing new right of way permits, but also yanking away existing permits.
    Jennifer Lucchesi: Certainly. So I can give an example of our lease compliance and enforcement actions most recently, with a pipeline that served platforms Hogan and Houchin in the Santa Barbara Channel. Those are two federal platforms in federal waters, that pipeline that served those platforms did cross into state waters and connected on shore. That pipeline lessee of ours was not compliant with our lease terms and the commission took action to terminate those leases based on non compliance and default in breach of the lease terms. And essentially, that did terminate production on those two federal platforms. And they are part of the eight federal platforms that BOEM just announced they were going to be looking at as part of a programmatic EIS for decommissioning. The Commission does not have the authority to unilaterally terminate an existing valid lease absent any evidence of a breach or non compliance


House Committee On Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and the Subcommittee
October 18, 2021


Dr. Michael H. Ziccardi
Director, Oiled Wildlife Care Network
Executive Director, One Health Institute, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis
Scott Breneman
Commercial Fishing, Retail Market, and Restaurant Owner Newport Beach, CA
Vipe Desai
Founding Member, Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast
Dr. David L. Valentine
Norris Presidential Chair, Earth Science Professor of Marine Science, UC Santa Barbara


  • 15:44 Rep. Katie Porter: As of October 10, workers had recovered 250,000 pounds of oily debris and 14 barrels full of tar balls from the Orange County shorelines. That is a small fraction, though, of the oil that was released, most of which is being distributed in the ocean, making its way into the food chain or falling to the ocean floor. Some of that oil is now heading south. And we will not learn the long term consequences on the environment for many years to come.
  • 17:39 Rep. Katie Porter: The witnesses here with us today will reveal a different kind of subsidy for oil and gas companies, an involuntary subsidy that occurs when the community bears the costs of oil drilling’s pollution. When a locally owned business like Mr Brennaman that has been in the family for four generations loses tens of thousands of dollars because of the leak. That's his subsidies to oil and gas. When a hotel loses its bookings overnight. That's its subsidy for oil and gas. When the fragile decades-long effort to recover a species under the Endangered Species Act is finally showing progress, but an oil spill puts it all at risk. That's a cost of oil and gas to these subsidies and so many others are the reasons that oil wells like the ones behind this leak are still active. Getting rid of the subsidies is the first step to get rid of the problem.

  • 27:52 Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA): We know that the spill was not reported by the responsible oil company until the next day, despite the company's knowledge. We also know that Orange County residents recognize that there was a problem in part due to the smell caused by this bill and actually reported it before the oil company did so, clearly something wrong with that.

  • 28:35 Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA): In my congressional district, which is just the south of here, the spill shutdown businesses and beaches in Dana Point in San Clemente. Tarballs that are likely caused by the spill have also been found as far south in my district as Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas and Del Mar in San Diego County.

  • 29:03 Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA): It'll come as no surprise that more than $2 billion in wages and $4 billion in gross domestic product are generated by Orange County's ocean and marine economy, including tourism. So we have a lot to lose every time there's a spill, not just to our beaches but to our economy.

  • 39:30 Dr. Michael H. Ziccardi: In Birds, the primary issue we are concerned mostly about are the acute effects due to hypothermia. If you think of feathers almost as a dry suit in animals, if oil gets on that dry suit, it creates a hole that allows cold water to seep next to the skin. Birds can get very cold in the environment and start to waste away, they have to come ashore to stay warm, but they can no longer eat. So these birds actually can waste away in a matter of days unless proactive capture occurs. There can also be chronic effects in animals as well due to printing of oil off of the feathers or ingestion in their food items. Those chronic effects can include, in essence, effects on every organ system in an animal's body from reproductive effects liver, kidney, respiratory tracts, depending on the dose and the exposure and the toxin itself.

  • 42:50 Scott Breneman: We were fishing on Friday, October 1, and we were coming in the harbor and I detected a distinct odor of oil and it was about midnight we're heading in. Kind of search around the boat. I thought maybe it was a spill on the boat or a hose broke. I went in the engine room, searched all the hatches where I keep all my extra fluids and everything, didn't find anything. Come the next day the press released that there was an actual oil spill, and my fish sales and my fish market, once that was released, they dropped drastically down, 90% this past few weeks since it was released. I've seen the same effect -- my family's been fishing for four generations and in the 90s my dad went through the oil spill that was off Seal Beach, in our fish market, the same exact response from the public scared, worried the products contaminated. A huge ripple effect all the way up to the wholesalers I deal with outside of Orange County there. They had concerns from their customers, their restaurants. And to rebuild that business when it happened in the 90s, I watched my dad struggle for months to get back to back to where it was and it's...I’m seeing the same exact thing happen here. A couple of days after the oil spill they had closed Newport Harbor. And so my boat was actually trapped inside of the harbor so I wasn't even able to go service my accounts. And it's just been, to tell you the truth, a very difficult couple of weeks and I'm not sure how long this is going to last. I'm not sure how the public's going to respond to it long term if there's still going to have some fear that the fish is contaminated.

  • 46:20 Vipe Desai: In fact between 2007 and 2018 there were over 7000 oil spills in federal waters, an average of about two every day.

  • 46:50 Vipe Desai: The first impact came from the much anticipated Pacific Air Show. As oil began to wash ashore, beaches were deemed unsafe for activity. On Saturday October 2nd, 1.5 million visitors saw the show from Huntington Beach, but the show's triumphant conclusion on Sunday was cancelled with little fanfare. Cancellations hit hotels and resorts almost immediately and their surrounding retail and restaurants suffered. Wing Lam, co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish tacos, informed me that the Saturday before the oil spill felt like a busy summer day. But the following day, once word got out about the spill, it was a ghost town. In addition, as the spill moved south, their locations in Laguna Beach and San Clemente started to feel the impacts. Bobby Abdel, owner of Jack's Surfboards, had a similarly bleak weekend. He told me that once the oil spill was announced customer traffic plummeted. Their stores are facing a stockpile of unsold inventory from the US Open of Surfing and the Pacific Air Show. All nine of Jack's Surfboards locations were impacted in some form or another because of the spill. Later in the week, I received a call from a colleague, Wendy Marshall, a full time hard working mother of two who shared with me that her upcoming Airbnb reservations, a form of income to help her offset college tuition costs for her children, had mostly been cancelled. From Dana Point though dolphin and whale capital of the world and the first whale Heritage Site in the Americas. Giselle Anderson from local business Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari shared losses from trips and bookings into November could be down as much as 74% because of the oil spill.

  • 52:15 Dr. David L. Valentine: I want to invoke my privilege as a university professor to start with a little bit of a history lesson. Many people think that the largest spill in US history occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This is not correct. The largest spill in US history occurred in California. It was not the October 2021 spill that we're here to talk about today. Nor was it the 2015 refugio beach pipeline rupture on the gaviota coast. It was not the 2007 Cosco, Busan spill and San Francisco Bay. And it was not the 1997 platform Irene pipeline rupture of Annenberg Air Force Base. It was not the 1990 American traders spill off the coast of Huntington Beach. It was not the 1969 platform, an oil spill off of Santa Barbara, the one that helped spawn the environmental movement. Nor was it the sinking of the SS Montebello, an oil freighter that was hit by a Japanese torpedo off the coast of Cambria and World War Two. It was called the Lakeview Gusher. It occurred in Kern County, and it's estimated to have released around 380 million gallons of oil over an 18 month period starting in 1910. And I tell you this bit of California history because it punctuates five important points. First, oil production carries inherent risk. Second, California has suffered more than its fair share of spills. Third, the size of a spill is only one factor in determining its impact. Fourth, responsiveness and context matter. And fifth, every spill is different and that includes the impacts.

  • 54:24 Dr. David L. Valentine: For the current spill, I have honed in on three key modes of exposure that concern me most: floating oil slicks that can impact organisms living at or near the sea surface, coastline areas such as wetlands where oil can accumulate and persist, and the sea floor, where oil can easily hide from view but may still pose longer term risks. Among these three, the fate of impacts of submerged oil is especially relevant to California, is the least well understood, and requires additional research effort.

  • 59:40 Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): So recently I asked the Department of Interior about the specific kinds of subsidies that Beta Operating received. Beta is a subsidiary of Amplify Energy, and that's the company that owns the platforms and the pipelines that leaked off our coast. It turns out that they got nearly $20 million from the federal government, specifically because the oil wells are at the end of their lives and are not producing much oil, which makes them less profitable. So taxpayers are being asked to pay to encourage oil production in the Pacific Ocean by giving oil companies millions of dollars to do it.

  • 1:00:39 Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): Beta operating is in line to get another $11 million to drill for new wells off the coast because that $11 million is needed, in their words, “to make production economic.” So taxpayers are being asked to pay Beta to drill new wells. That means wells that would otherwise not be drilled without our taxpayer subsidy.

  • 01:02:52 Dr. Michael H. Ziccardi: What we have found, during and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, is that dolphins can be significantly impacted by oil, primarily through inhalation of the fumes at the surface and ingestion of the oil substances themselves. What we found is that it affects their immune system, it affects their reproductive tract, and it affects their gastrointestinal tract, so very significant changes. And that's information that is just now starting to come out in the publications from the Deepwater Horizon incident.

  • 1:06:51 Vipe Desai: Had this oil spill moved north, it would have impacted two of the busiest ports in the nation, which account for billions of dollars of goods flowing in and out of both ports of LA and Long Beach. And that would have had an even larger impact to other communities across the US.

  • 1:08:21 Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA): The annual oil production off the coast of California is about 1/3 of what our nation produces in a single day. So it really is a drop in the bucket when you consider the overwhelming potential for economic damage for environmental damage, the risks simply aren't worth it.

  • 1:09:34 Vipe Desai: California's ocean economy generates $54.3 billion in revenue and supports 654,000 jobs.

  • 1:25:15 Dr. David L. Valentine: In Orange County, the areas that I would look at most closely as being especially vulnerable on the environmental side would be the wetland environments. Places like Talbert Marsh where oil can surge in with the tide. And it can get trapped in those environments and it can get stuck and it won't come back out when the tide recedes. Those are especially vulnerable because they're these rich, diverse ecosystems. They provide a whole host of different services, whether it's flyways, or fisheries, or in keeping the nutrient levels moderated in coastal waters. And that oil can stick there and it can have a long term impact. And furthermore, cleanup in those cases can be very difficult because getting into a marsh and trying to clean it up manually can cause as much damage as oil can cause.

  • 1:26:24 Dr. David L. Valentine: And then the other environment that I worry a lot about is the environment we can't see, that is what's going on under the surface of the ocean. And in that case, we can have oil that comes ashore and then gets pulled back offshore but is now denser because it's accumulated sand and other mineral matter. And that can be sticking around in the coastal ocean. We don't really understand how much of that there is or exactly where it goes. And that concerns me.

  • 1:29:18 Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA): But Dr. Valentine, how concerned Do you think California should be that companies that own the offshore platforms, wells and pipelines might go bankrupt and pass decommissioning costs on to taxpayers?
    Dr. David L. Valentine: I think that we need to be very concerned. And this is not just a hypothetical, this is already happening. There are two instances that I can tell you about that I've been involved with personally. The first stems from the pipeline 901 rupture, also known as the Refugio, a big oil spill that happened in 2015. When that pipeline ruptured, it prevented oil from being further produced from platform Holley, off the coast of Santa Barbara just a few miles from my home. That platform when it was completely shut in, all 30 wells, was unable to produce any oil and the company, a small operator, went bankrupt. And then shortly thereafter, they went bankrupt again. And this time, they just gave up and they did something called quit claiming their lease back to the state of California. Meaning that the plugin abandonment and property commissioning fell into the lap of the State of California in that case, and that is an ongoing, ongoing saga. The second example I would give you is in Summerland. In 1896, the first offshore oil wells in this country were drilled from piers in Summerland. Those have been leaking over the years. And as recently as last year, there were three leaky oil wells coming up in Summerland. The state of California has found money to try alternative plug in abandonment strategies because anything traditional is not going to work on something that is 125 some odd years old. So that would be the second example where this is now falling into the taxpayers lap yet again.


House Committee on Natural Resources: Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
October 14, 2021


Dr. Donald Boesch
Professor and President Emeritus, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Dr. Greg Stunz
Endowed Chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health, and Professor of Marine Biology Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies Texas A&M University
Robert Schuwerk
Executive Director, North America Office Carbon Tracker Initiative
Ms. Jacqueline Savitz
Chief Policy Officer, Oceana


  • 10:34 Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN): I can certainly provide a summary of things that will help keep energy prices down: issue onshore and offshore lease sales; reinstate the Presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline; renew our commitment to exporting American energy, instead of importing foreign energy; reform a broken permitting process; and stop burdening domestic producers.

  • 16:08 Dr. Donald Boesch: Oil and gas production from wells in less than 1000 feet of water declined as fuels discovered in the 80s and even earlier were depleted. Crude oil production in these relatively shallow waters declined by over 90% both in the Gulf and and in Southern California. Natural gas production in the OCS, which mainly came from the shallow water wells, declined by 80%. Offshore fossil energy production is now dominated in the deep water off the Gulf of Mexico, up to 7500 feet deep. Deepwater production grew by 38% just over the last 10 years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

  • 17:05 Dr. Donald Boesch: Since the lifting of the crude oil export ban in 2016, last year there was 78% more crude oil exported from Gulf terminals, exported overseas, than actually produced in the US OCS and three times as much natural gas exported, than produced offshore.

  • 18:06 Dr. Donald Boesch: So, the depletion of shallow water gas has left this legacy of old wells and declining resources and the infrastructure requires decommissioning and removal. Much of this infrastructure is not operated by the original leaseholders, but by smaller companies with lesser assets and technical and operational capacity.

  • 18:40 Dr. Donald Boesch: Off Southern California there are 23 platforms in federal waters, eight of which are soon facing decommissioning. In the Gulf, on the other hand, there are 18,162 platforms and about 1000 of them will probably be decommissioned within this decade.

  • 19:46 Dr. Donald Boesch: According to the GAO, as you pointed out, there are 600 miles of active pipelines in federal waters of the Gulf, and 18,000 miles of abandoned plant pipelines. The GAO found the Department of the Interior lacks a robust process for addressing the environmental and safety risk and ensuring clean up and burial standards are met. And also monitoring the long term fate of these, these pipelines.

  • 20:54 Dr. Donald Boesch: At recent rates of production of oil and gas, the Gulf’s crude oil oil reserves will be exhausted in only six or seven years. That is the proven reserves. Even with the undiscovered and economically recoverable oil that BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) estimates in the central and western Gulf, we would run out of oil about mid century. So unless some miracle allows us to capture all of the greenhouse gases that would be released, we really can't do that and achieve net zero emissions, whether it be by resource depletion, governmental or corporate policy, or investor and stockholder decisions. Offshore oil and gas production is likely to see it see a steep decline. So the greenhouse gas emissions pathway that we follow and how we deal with the legacy and remaining infrastructure will both play out over the next decade or two.

  • 25:16 Dr. Greg Stuntz: In fact, these decades old structures hold tremendous amounts of fish biomass and our major economic drivers. A central question is, how do these structures perform in relation to mother nature or natural habitat and I'm pleased to report that in every parameter we use to measure that success. These artificial reefs produce at least as well are often better than the natural habitat. We observe higher densities of fish, faster growth and even similar output. Thus, by all measures, these data show artificial reefs are functioning at least equivalent on a per capita basis to enhance our marine resources.

  • 28:54 Rob Schuwerk: When a company installs a platform and drills well, it creates an ARO, an obligation to reclaim that infrastructure when production ends. This costs money. But companies aren't required to get financial assurance for the full estimated costs today. Money to plug in active wells today comes from cash flows from oil and gas production. But what happens when that stops? The International Energy Agency sees peak oil and gas demand as early as 2025. This will make it harder to pay for decommissioning from future cash flows. Decommissioning is costly. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) data indicate that offshore AROs could range from $35 to over $50 billion while financial assurance requirements are about $3.47 billion. That is less than 10% of expected liability. The GAO believes these figures may actually underestimate the true costs of retiring the remaining deepwater infrastructure.

  • 30:05 Rob Schuwerk: Only about a third of the unplug wells in the Gulf of Mexico have shown any production in the last 12 months. Why haven't the other two thirds already been retired? Because of uncertainty as to when to close and poor incentives. Infrastructure should be decommissioned when it's no longer useful. But the regulator has difficulty making that determination. This uncertainty explains why BSEE waits five years after a well becomes inactive to deem it no longer useful for operations with years more allowed for decommissioning. These delays increase the risk that operators will become unable to pay or simply disappear. We've seen this already with a variety of companies including Amplify Energy's predecessor Beta Dinoco off California and Fieldwood recently with Mexico.

  • 30:55 Rob Schuwerk: There's also a problem of misaligned economic incentives. As it is virtually costless to keep wells unplugged, companies have no incentive to timely plug them. AROs are like an unsecured, interest free balloon loan from the government with no date of maturity. There's little incentive to save for repayment because operators bear no carrying cost and no risk in the case of default. If the ARO loan carried interest payments commensurate with the underlying non performance risk, producers would be incentivized to decommission non economic assets. The solution is simple, require financial assurance equivalent to the full cost of carrying out all decommissioning obligations. This could take the form of a surety bond, a sinking fund or some other form of restricted cash equivalent. If wells are still economic to operate, considering the carrying cost of financial assurance, the operator will continue production, if not they’ll plug. In either case, the public is protected from these costs.

  • 32:11 Rob Schuwerk: A key risk here is operator bankruptcy that causes liabilities to be passed on to others. And we could see this in the recent Fieldwood bankruptcy. Fieldwood was formed in 2012 and in 2013 acquired shallow water properties from Apache Corporation. It went through chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018, and then undeterred, acquired additional deepwater platforms from Noble Energy. Fieldwood returned to bankruptcy in 2020. It characterized the decommissioning costs it shared with Apache as among the company's most significant liabilities. The bankruptcy plan created new companies to receive and decommission certain idle offshore assets. If they failed, prior operators and lessors would have to pay. Several large oil and gas companies objected to this proposal. They were concerned that if Fieldwood couldn't pay they would. Ultimately the plan was proved. The case illustrates a few key dynamics. First, if bankrupt companies cannot pay, others, including taxpayers, will. How much of the possibly $50 billion in offshore decommissioning liability is held by companies that are only a dragged anchor, a hurricane a leaking pipeline or oil price shock away from default? And second, as detailed in my written testimony, private companies who face liability risks understand them better than the government does. When they transfer wells, they demand financial protections that are in fact greater than what the government requires today.

  • 36:02 Jacqueline Savitz: Supplemental bonds are necessary to protect taxpayers from the risk of spills but BOEM is overusing the waiver provisions that allow a financial strength test to waive requirements for supplemental bonds. BOEM regulations require that lessees furnish a relatively small general bond and while BOEM has discretion to acquire supplemental bonds, it generally waives those. General bonds that lessees are required to furnish don't come close to covering the cost of decommissioning and haven't been updated since 1993. Since that year, the cost of decommissioning has gone up in part because development has moved into deeper waters, only about 10% of offshore oil production in the Gulf was in deepwater in 1993. But by 2014, that figure rose to 80%. Regulations need to be updated to ensure the federal government and taxpayers are not left picking up the tab on decommissioning. According to GAO, only 8% of decommissioning liabilities in the Gulf of Mexico were covered by bonds or other financial assurance mechanisms, with the other 92% waived or simply unaccounted for.

  • 38:06 Jacqueline Savitz: BSEE does not conduct oversight over decommissioning activities underway and it does not inspect decommissioned pipelines so the Bureau can’t ensure that the industry has complied with required environmental mitigation.

  • 38:17 Jacqueline Savitz: Leak detection technologies that the oil and gas industry touts as safer have not been proven to prevent major leaks. All pipelines in the Pacific region are reportedly equipped with advanced leak detection equipment. Though two weeks ago we saw exactly what can happen even with the so-called “Best Technology.”

  • 42:00 Dr. Donald Boesch: In Hurricane Ida, all of a sudden appeared an oil slick, and it lasted for several days. And apparently it was traced to an abandoned pipeline that had not been fully cleared of all the residual oil in it so that all that oil leaked out during that incident.

  • 47:59 Dr. Donald Boesch: One of the challenges though, is that this older infrastructure is not operating in the same standards and with the same capacity of those of the major oil companies that have to do that. So for example, when I noted that they detected this methane being leaked, they didn't detect it from the new offshore deepwater platforms which have all the right technology. It's in the older infrastructure that they're seeing.

  • 54:14 Rob Schuwerk: There's actually one thing that exists offshore, joint and several liability, that only exists in certain jurisdictions onshore. So in some ways the situation onshore is worse. Because in some states like California you can go after prior operators if the current operator cannot pay, but in many jurisdictions you cannot. And our research has found that there is about $280 billion in onshore liability, and somewhere around 1% of that is covered by financial assurance bonds so, there is definitely an issue onshore rather than offshore.

  • 55:04 Rob Schuwerk: The issue is just really giving them a financial incentive to be able to decommission. And that means they have to confront the cost of decommissioning and internalize that into their decision on whether continuing to produce from a well is economic or not. And so that means they need to have some kind of financial insurance in place that represents the actual cost. That could be a surety bond where they go to an insurer that acts as a guarantor for that amount. It could be a sinking fund, like we have in the context of nuclear where they go start putting money aside at the beginning, and it grows over time to be sufficient to plug the well at the end of its useful life. And there could be other forms of restricted cash that they maintain on the balance sheet for the benefit of these liabilities.

  • 1:15:38 Jacqueline Savitz: Remember, there is no shortage of offshore oil and gas opportunity for the oil industry. The oil industry is sitting on so many, nearly 8.5 million acres of unused or non producing leases, 75% of the total lease acreage in public waters. They’re sitting on it and not using it. So even if we ended all new leasing, it would not end offshore production.

  • 1:22:35 Rob Schuwerk: Typically what we'll see as well to do companies will transfer these assets into other entities that have less financial means and wherewithal to actually conduct the cleanup.
    Rep. Katie Porter: So they're moving once they've taken the money, they've made the profit, then they're giving away they're basically transferring away the unprofitable, difficult, expensive part of this, which is the decommissioning portion. And they're transferring that. Are they transferring that to big healthy companies?
    Rob Schuwerk: No, often they're transferring it to companies that didn't exist even just prior to the transfer.
    Rep. Katie Porter: You mean a shell company?
    Rob Schuwerk: Yes.
    Rep. Katie Porter: Like an entity created just for the purpose of pushing off the cost of doing business so that you don't have to pay it even though you've got all the upside. Are you saying that this is what oil and gas companies do?
    Rob Schuwerk: We've seen this, yes.
    Rep. Katie Porter: And how does the law facilitate this?
    Rob Schuwerk: Well, I suppose on a couple of levels. On the one hand, there's very little oversight of the transfer. And so there's very little restriction from a regulatory standpoint, this is true, offshore and also onshore. So we see this behavior in both places. And then secondary to that there are actions that companies can take in bankruptcy that can effectively pass these liabilities on to taxpayers eventually and so some of it is to be able to use that event, the new company goes bankrupt.

  • 1:25:01 Rob Schuwerk: Certainly no private actor would do what the federal government does, which is not have a security for these risks.


House Committee on Natural Resources: Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
May 19, 2021


Laura Zachary
Co-Director, Apogee Economics & Policy
Tim Stretton
Policy Analyst, Project on Government Oversight (POGO)


  • 27:10 Laura Zachary: There have long been calls for fiscal reforms to the federal oil and gas program. Compared to how states managed oil and gas leasing, the federal government forgoes at least a third of the revenue that could have been captured for taxpayers

  • 27:25 Laura Zachary: On January 27 of this year, the Biden administration signed Executive Order 14008 that pauses issuing new federal oil and gas leases. And importantly, the language implies a temporary pause, only on issuing new leases, not on issuing drilling permits. This is a critical distinction for what the impacts of a pause could be. Very importantly, federal permitting data confirms that to date, there has been no pause on issuing drilling permits for both onshore and offshore. And in fact, since the pause began, Department of Interior has approved drilling permits at rates in line with past administrations.

  • 37:08 Tim Stretton: Because taxpayers own resources such as oil and gas that are extracted from public lands, the government is legally required to collect royalties for the resources produced from leases on these lands. Project on Government Oversight’s investigations into the federal government's oversight of the oil, gas and mining industries have uncovered widespread corruption that allows industry to cheat U.S. taxpayers out of billions of dollars worth of potential income. Given the amount of money at stake and the oil and gas industry's history of deliberately concealing the value of the resources they've extracted with the intent of underpaying royalties, the government should be particularly vigilant in ensuring companies pay their fair share for the resources they extract.

  • 46:28 Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR): We are here today for the majority's attempt, which I believe is more of a publicity stunt to criticize the oil and gas industry than to talk about real facts and data. The playbook is a simple one: recycled talking points to vilify the industry and to paint a distorted picture of so-called good versus evil. I'm sure that we'll hear more about corporate subsidies that aren't. We'll hear about unfair royalty rates that aren't and we'll hear many other meme worthy talking points that fail the logic test.

  • 47:35_ Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR): What we're -really talking about today is an industry that provides reliable and affordable energy to our nation. This isan industry that contributes to almost 10 million jobs and plays a vital role in our daily lives. In fact, we cannot conduct virtual hearings like this without the fossil fuel industry. And of course, when myself and my colleagues travel to Washington, DC, we rely on this industry to fly or to drive here.

  • 49:33 Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR): But they ignore the real world consequences of demonizing this industry. The results are devastating job loss and the loss of public education funding to name just a few.

  • 54:05 Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN): I also had a roundtable discussion and learned how New Mexico schools received nearly $1.4 billion in funding from oil and gas just last year.

  • 55:08 Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): Mr. Stretton, how long has your organization been conducting oversight of oil and gas production on federal lands?
    Tim Stretton: For decades, I mean, we started doing this work in the early 90s. And actually, some of our earliest work in the space was uncovering in excess of a billion dollars in unpaid royalties to your home state of California.
    Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): And you mentioned, what are some of the patterns? You've been doing this for decades? What are some of the patterns that you observe over time?
    Tim Stretton: The oil and gas industry working with each other to really undervalue the resources they were selling, fraudulently telling the government the value of those resources, which left billions of dollars in unpaid revenue going to the federal government.

  • 1:01:09 Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ): There are some people who have made environmentalism a religion. Rather than focus on solutions that can make lives better for people, some would prefer to vilify an industry that provides immeasurable benefits to people's livelihood in the function of modern day society.

  • 1:04:21 Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ): The other side looks at globalism, you know this environmental movement globally. So it makes more sense to me at least and folks I come from that we produce it cleaner more efficiently than anybody else in the world. And so that geopolitical application, if you're an environmentalist, you would want more American clean oil and gas out there versus Russian dirty or Chinese dirty gas.

  • 02:37:23 Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT): In January state education superintendents in Wyoming, Miami, North Dakota, Alaska, and Utah submitted a letter to President Biden outlining their concerns with the administration's oil and gas ban which has reduced funding used to educate our rising generation.

  • 02:43:35 Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM): I'm glad to be able to highlight the true success story of the oil and gas industry in my home state of New Mexico. To put it simply, the oil and gas industry is the economic backbone of New Mexico and has been for decades. The industry employs 134,000 People statewide and provides over a billion dollars each year to fund our public education.

  • 02:44:30 Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM): Many of my Democratic colleagues have stated that green energy jobs can replace the loss of traditional energy jobs, like the 134,000 Oil and Gas jobs in my state. Many also say that we need to be transitioning to a completely carbon free energy grid. Can you tell me and the committee why both of those ideas are completely fantasy?

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Nov 15, 2021
CD241: 20th Anniversary of the Patriot Act

The Patriot Act: A law that is still governing us after 20 years despite being almost universally hated. In this episode, we take a close look at the lesser known parts of the Patriot Act that became permanent immediately, examine the status of the few provisions that had to be reauthorized over the years, find out how the law was crafted in the first place, and see what happened to the members of Congress who voted for this rights-destroying legislation.

Executive Producer: Stephen McMahan

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD236: January 6: The Capitol Riot
CD235: The Safe Haven of Sanctions Evaders
CD160: Equifax Breach
CD105: Anthrax
CD098: USA Freedom Act: Privatization of the Patriot Act
CD048: The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Patriot Act Overviews

Charles Doyle. April 18, 2002. The USA PATRIOT Act: A Sketch, RS21203.” Congressional Research Service.

Charles Doyle. December 10, 2001. Terrorism: Section by Section Analysis of the USA PATRIOT Act, RL31200. Congressional Research Service.

Indefinite Detention

Anna Mulrine Grobe. October 7, 2021. “Guantanamo: A former prosecutor’s solution to an ‘unsolvable problem.’” The Christian Science Monitor.

Jessica Corbett. July 22, 2020. “ACLU Says Release of Adham Hassoun Confirms US Government Lacks Power to 'Lock Someone Up Without Due Process.'” Common Dreams.

Carol Rosenberg. June 29, 2020. “Judge Rejects U.S. Effort to Hold Palestinian Man After Prison Term.” The New York Times.

Nino Guruli. February 24, 2020. “The Unreasonableness of the Citizenship Distinction: Section 412 of the USA PATRIOT Act and Lessons from Abroad.” The University of Chicago Law Review Online.

Jennifer K. Elsea and Michael John Garcia. March 14, 2016. Wartime Detention Provisions in Recent Defense Authorization Legislation, R42143 Congressional Research Service.

ACLU. December 31, 2011. “President Obama Signs Indefinite Detention Bill Into Law.”

ACLU. October 23, 2001. “How the Anti-Terrorism Bill Permits Indefinite Detention of Immigrants.”

Credit Reporting Agencies

Ken Sweet. October 6, 2017. “Equifax Collects Your Data, and Then Sells It.” Inc.

“Experian Revenue.” Craft.

“Equifax Revenue 2006-2021| EFX.” Macrotrends.

“TransUnion Revenue 2011-2021 | TRU” Macrotrends.

15 U.S. Code § 1681v - Disclosures to governmental agencies for counterterrorism purposes. Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute.

Reauthorizations and Expirations

Charlie Savage. August 14, 2020. “McConnell Appears Set to Quietly Suffocate Long-Debated F.B.I. Surveillance Bill.” The New York Times.

India McKinney and Andrew Crocker. April 16, 2020. “Yes, Section 215 Expired. Now What?” EFF.

Charlie Savage. March 27, 2020. “House Departs Without Vote to Extend Expired F.B.I. Spy Tools” The New York Times.

Office of the Press Secretary. March 9, 2006. “President Signs USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act.” The White House.

Steven M. Martinez. April 21, 2005. “Testimony Before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.”

Brain Duignan. “USA PATRIOT Act: Reauthorizations.” Britannica.

ACLU. “The Sun Also Sets: Understanding the Patriot Act ‘Sunsets.’”


Charlie Savage. January 22, 2021. “Intelligence Analysts Use U.S. Smartphone Location Data Without Warrants, Memo Says” The New York Times.

Charlie Savage. December 3, 2020. “U.S. Used Patriot Act to Gather Logs of Website Visitors” The New Times.

Charlie Savage. March 31, 2020. “Problems in F.B.I. Wiretap Applications Go Beyond Trump Aide Surveillance, Review Finds.” The New York Times.

Byron Tau and Michelle Hackman. February 7, 2020. “Federal Agencies Use Cellphone Location Data for Immigration Enforcement.” The Wall Street Journal.

Charlie Savage. December 11, 2019. “We Just Got a Rare Look at National Security Surveillance. It Was Ugly.” The New York Times.

Sharon Bradford Franklin. July 25, 2018. “Carpenter and the End of Bulk Surveillance of Americans.” Lawfare.

Adam Liptak. June 22, 2018. “In Ruling on Cellphone Location Data, Supreme Court Makes Statement on Digital Privacy.” The New York Times.

International Impact

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Bill Weinberg. June 15, 2018. “USA PATRIOT Act Threatens Uruguay Banks Over Legal Cannabis System.” Cannabis Now.

Bills and Laws

The Patriot Act

United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA Patriot Act) of 2001

House Vote
Senate Vote

Law Outline


Sec. 106: Presidential Authority

  • Expanded the authority of the President to "investigate, regulate, or prohibit" financial transactions to include "any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."
  • Expanded the authority of the President to block transactions and property of "any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" "during the pendency of an investigation".
  • Expands the authority of the President to confiscate property "of any foreign person, foreign organization, or foreign country" when the US has been "attacked by a foreign country or foreign nationals" and the President can then decide what to do with that property "for the benefit of the United States."
  • These provisions remain in current law as of 10/18/21


Sec. 201: Authority to Intercept Wire, Oral, and Electronic Communications Relating to Terrorism

  • Expands the list of suspected actions that can justify the Attorney General and some subordinates obtaining judicial permission for wiretaps (a list that has since been expanded further) to include terrorism related crimes.

Sec. 203: Authority to Share Criminal Investigate Information

  • Allows grand jury information to be shared with "any Federal law enforcement, intelligence, protective, immigration, national defense, or national security official" if the matter involves "foreign intelligence or counterintelligence"
  • The government official who receives the information has to notify the court that it got the information, but that notification can be in secret and they have to submit it "within a reasonable time after such disclosure", which is not defined.
  • The government official who receives the information is authorized to share it with "any other Federal law enforcement, intelligence, protective, immigration, national defense, or national security official" if it includes "foreign intelligence or counterintelligence"
  • The procedures for sharing the information was left up to the Attorney General to decide.

Sec. 205: Employment of Translators by the Federal Bureau of Investigation

  • Authorizes the FBI to speed up the hiring of translators

Sec. 206: Roving Surveillance Authority Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978

  • If a person is a "foreign power or an agent of a foreign power", the government can authorize wiretapping a "common carrier, landlord, custodian, or other specified person" if the court finds that the target is using communications that "may have the effect of thwarting the identification" of the target.

Sec. 207: Duration of FISA Surveillance of Non-United States Persons Who Are Agents of a Foreign Power

  • The warrants can be issued for up to 120 days fi they are for targeting individuals and can be for up to a year if targeting a "foreign power"

Sec. 209: Seizure of Voicemail Messages Pursuant to Warrants

  • Allows the government to seize the contents of voicemails using a warrant instead of a surveillance order, which is a faster method for authorization.

Sec. 210: Scope of Subpoenas For Records of Electronic Communications

  • Expands the information that can be subpoenaed from telecom companies to include connection records, records of call times and duration, types of services used, telephone numbers, IP addresses, and method of payments included credit card or bank account numbers.
  • This provision had no sunset.

Sec. 212: Emergency Disclosure of Electronic Communications to Protect Life and Limb

  • Allows the telecom companies to provide customer data to the government if it "reasonably believes that an emergency involving immediate danger of death or serous physical injury to any person requires disclosure of the information with delay"
  • Allows the telecom companies to provide customer data "to any person other than a governmental entity"
  • Allows the government to require a telecom company to disclose customer records, which was previously an option decided by the telecoms.

Sec. 213: Authority for Delaying Notice of the Execution of a Warrant

  • Allows the government to delay notifying their target about a warrant if they court finds that the notification "may have an adverse result" such as an individual fleeing prosecution, endangerment of someone's life, tampering with evidence, witness intimidation, or jeopardizing the investigation.
  • This provision allowed "sneak and peek" warrants, which allowed the government to secretly enter - physically or electronically - a target's property to search, take pictures, copy documents, download files, etc. as long as they didn't take any property with them.
  • This provision had no sunset.

Sec. 214: Pen Register and Trap and Trace Authority Under FISA

  • Eliminates the requirements that trace devices only be applied to devices and facilities used by foreign persons, so that now they can be used on devices belonging to US citizens so long as the devices are likely to provide information related to a foreign intelligence investigation.

Sec. 215: Access to Records and Other items under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

  • Authorizes the FBI to order "the production of any tangible items" for their investigations into international terrorism, as long as the investigation of a US citizen or company is "not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution."
  • The entity turning over the property can not tell anyone that they gave the FBI whatever they requested or tell anyone about the investigation's existence, and in return, the entity that produced the items "shall not be liable to any other person for such production."

Sec. 216: Modification of Authorities Relating to Use of Pen Registers and Trap and Trace Devices

  • Requires that the court "shall" authorize the installation of trace devices "anywhere within the United States" if the court finds that the government has shown that the information likely obtained from the devices "is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation." The order "shall apply to any personal or entity providing wire or electronic communication services in the United states"
  • A record must be kept of which officers installed the device, the date and time it was installed and uninstalled, the date, times, and durations that the device is accessed for information, and the information collected from the device. The record must be provided to the court "under seal" within 30 days "after termination of the order".
  • There was no sunset for this provision.

Sec. 217: Interception of Computer Trespasser Communications

  • Allows companies to voluntarily request law enforcement monitoring of intruders on their networks and authorizes the government to intercept information transmitted by a "computer trespasser"

Sec. 219: Single-Jurisdiction Search Warrants for Terrorism

  • Allows judges to issue search warrants outside of the districts where the property to be searched is located.
  • There was no sunset for this provision.

Sec. 222: Assistance to Law Enforcement Agencies

  • Requires that companies that help the government install tracing devices authorized by Section 216 on their network be "reasonably compensated for such reasonable expenditures incurred in providing such facilities or assistance."

Sec. 223: Civil Liability for Certain Unauthorized Disclosures

  • If a court finds that an employee of the United States has disclosed information collected improperly, the government has to conduct a proceeding to determine if discipline is warranted. Damages can be awarded of at least $10,000 plus litigation costs.

Sec. 224: Sunset

  • Sets an expiration date of December 31, 2005 for Sections 203(a), 203(c), 205, 208, 210, 211, 213, 216, 219, 221, and 222.

Sec. 225: Immunity for Compliance with FISA Wiretap

  • Provides immunity to anyone who complies with a FISA wiretap, including private and government persons.


Subtitle A - International Counter Money Laundering and Related Measures

Sec. 311: Special Measures for Jurisdictions, Financial Institutions, or International Transactions of Primary Money Laundering Concern

  • Authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to require domestic financial institutions to maintain records and file reports, including personally identifiable information, about transactions in a location outside the United States or between foreign financial institutions.
  • Authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prohibit or impose conditions upon accounts being opened in domestic financial institutions by people from foreign jurisdictions.

Sec. 312: Special Due Diligence for Correspondent Accounts and Private Banking Accounts

  • Requires banks that open accounts for non-US citizens to investigate the background of the account opener or owner for money laundering red flags.

Sec. 313: Prohibition on United States Correspondent Accounts With Foreign Shell Banks

  • Prohibits domestic financial institutions from opening or maintaining accounts for a foreign bank that doesn't have a physical presence in any country.

Sec. 314: Cooperative Efforts to Deter Money Laundering

  • Orders the Secretary of the Treasury to write regulations that encourage law enforcement and financial institutions to share information about individuals, entities, and organizations, with a specific focus on charitable organizations, non-profit organizations, and nongovernmental organizations.
  • A financial institution that shares information that "may involve terrorist acts or money laundering activities" can not be held liable "under any law or regulation of the United States" or of any state or contract and they can not be held liable for failing to inform their customer that their information was shared.

Sec. 315: Inclusion of Foreign Corruption Offenses as Money Laundering Crimes

  • Expands what qualifies as "money laundering" to include "bribery of a public official, or the misappropriation, theft, or embezzlement of public funds by or for the benefit of public official" and some smuggling and firearm offenses.

Sec. 316: Anti-Terrorist Forfeiture Protection

  • An owner of property that is confiscated under US laws that allow the seizure of assets of suspected international terrorists can contest that confiscation, but the government can use evidence against them to justify the confiscation that is "otherwise inadmissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence" if it finds that "compliance with the Federal Rules of Evidence may jeopardize the national security interests of the United States."

Sec. 319: Forfeiture of Funds in United States Interbank Accounts

  • If funds are deposited by suspect into an account at a foreign bank that has an account in the United States, the money in that bank's account -up to the amount deposited in the target's account - can be held or seized from the bank's account.
  • If a foreign bank doesn't terminate their relationship with the suspect, that foreign bank can be fined up to $10,000 per day until that relationship is terminated.
  • If a convicted criminal hides their property, the court "shall" order other property up to the value of the missing property to be seized.

Sec. 320: Proceeds of Foreign Crimes

  • Expands the government's power to seize property held inside the United States if the property was obtained via felony drug offenses if the offense would be punishable by death or more than one year in prison under the foreign nation's or the US's laws.

Sec. 323: Enforcement of Foreign Judgments

  • The government can apply for and the courts can grant restraining orders to hold property that is the subject of investigations being conducted by foreign governments as long as the offense would have been illegal if committed in the United States. No one can object to the restraining order. The defendant is no longer required to have received notice of the proceedings in time to act but instead the foreign court has to "take steps" to notify the defendant.

Sec. 326: Verification of Identification

  • The Secretary of the Treasury has to write regulations that require banks to verify the identity of their customers and check a list of suspected terrorists to make sure that those people are not trying to open accounts at their bank.

Sec. 328: Criminal Penalties

  • Any official or employee of the US Federal Government, or any one who helps them, commit fraud on the United States "shall be fined in an amount not more than 3 times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value, or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both.

Subtitle B - Bank Secrecy Act Amendments and Related Improvements

Sec. 351: Amendments Relating to Reporting of Suspicious Activities

  • Provides immunity to "any financial institution" that makes a voluntary disclosure of a possible violation of law to a government agency
  • Prohibits the financial institution or anyone in it and the officers and employees of the Federal Government from notifying the customer that their suspicious transaction has been reported to the government.

Sec. 355: Authorization to Include Suspicions of Illegal Activity in Written Employment References

  • Authorizes employees of "any insured depository institution" (which includes "any uninsured branch or agency of a foreign bank") to "disclose in any written employment reference" of a current or former employee information about "the possible involvement" of that person in "potentially unlawful activity."
  • If the information is shared "with malicious intent", the institution sharing the information can be sued.

Sec. 358: Bank Secrecy Provisions and Activities of United States Intelligence Agencies to Fight International Terrorism

  • Consumer reporting agencies "shall furnish a consumer report of a consumer and all other information in a consumer's file to a government agency authorized to conduct investigations of, or intelligence or counterintelligence activities or analysis related to, international terrorism when presented with a written certification by such government agency that such information is necessary" for the agency's investigation.
  • The consumer reporting agency is not allowed to tell the consumer that the government requested the information or that the government received it.
  • Provides immunity for a consumer reporting agency that complies with the government request.

Sec. 361: Financial Crimes Enforcement Network

  • Transforms the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) into a bureau in the Department of the Treasury.

Sec. 363: Increase in Civil and Criminal Penalties for Money Laundering

  • The Secretary of the Treasury may impose civil money penalties equal to or more than 2 times the amount of the transaction but not more than $1 million on any financial institution that violates the money laundering laws and special measures.

Sec. 365: Reports Relating to Coins and Currency Received in Non-Financial Trade or Business

  • Requires that any coin or currency transaction that is over $10,000 be reported to FinCEN. The reports must include the name and address of the recipient, the amount, the date and nature of the transaction, and the name of the person filing the report.
  • This does not apply to any transaction if the entire transaction occurs outside of the United States.

Subtitle C - Currency Crimes and Protection

Sec. 371: Bulk Cash Smuggling Into or Out of the United States

  • Creates the crime of "currency smuggling", which is when someone knowingly conceals more than $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments on themselves or in their luggage or containers and transports it, or attempts to transport it, into or out of the United States.
  • Punishment: Up to 5 years in prison and forfeiture of the money involved in the smuggling, or an equal amount from the suspect's personal belongings.

Sec. 373: Illegal Money Transmitting Businesses

  • Anyone who "knowingly conducts, controls, manages, supervises, directs, or owns all or part of an unlicensed money transmitting business" can be imprisoned for 5 years, fined, or both.

Sec. 374: Counterfeiting Domestic Currency and Obligations

  • Expands the definition and punishments for counterfeiting to include analog, digital, and electronic images.
  • Lengthens prison sentences for a range of counterfeiting offenses.

Sec. 375: Counterfeiting Foreign Currency and Obligations

  • Dramatically expands prison sentences for counterfeiting foreign currencies from single digit year sentences to 20-25 years.

Sec. 376: Laundering the Proceeds of Terrorism

  • Expands the applicability of computer fraud offenses committed outside the United States if they involve devices issued by a company inside the United States, like a credit card, or if the defendant used any property within the United States to commit the crime.


Subtitle A - Protecting the Northern Border

Sec. 402: Northern Border Personnel

  • Authorizes unlimited funds to triple the number of border patrol agents, customs agents, and INS inspectors on our northern border along with an additional $50 million to update technology.

Sec. 403: Access by the Department of State and the INS to Certain Identifying Information in the Criminal History Records of Visa Applicants and Applicants For Admission to the United States

  • The Attorney General and the FBI will provide criminal history records to the State Department

Subtitle B - Enhanced Immigration Provisions

Sec. 411: Definitions Relating to Terrorism

  • Adds being a representative of a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the Secretary of State or being a representative of an organization that publicly endorses terrorist activity to the grounds to denial of entry into the United States.
  • If the endorsement of terrorist activity has occurred in the last five years, that person's spouse and children are also barred from entering the United States (this can be waived by the Attorney General if it can be proved that the spouse/children didn't know or has renounced the behavior).
  • Defines "terrorist activity"
    • "To commit or to incite to commit under circumstances indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily injury
    • To gather information on potential targets for terrorist activity
    • To solicit funds or other things of value for a terrorist activity, a terrorist organization (unless the solicitor can demonstrate that he did not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the solicitation would further the organization's terrorist activity).
    • To solicit any individual to engage in terrorist activity or membership in a terrorist organization (unless the solicitor can demonstrate that he did not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the solicitation would further the organization's terrorist activity).
    • To commit an act that the actor knows, or reasonably should know, affords material support, including a safe house, transportation, communications, funds, transfer of funds or other material financial benefit, false documentation or identification, weapons (including chemical, biological, or radiological weapons), explosives, or training for the commission of a terrorist activity, to any individual who the actor knows, or reasonably should know, has committed or plans to commit a terrorist activity, or to a terrorist organization (unless the actor can demonstrate that he did not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the act would further the organization's terrorist activity.)
  • Defines a "terrorist organization"
    • A group designated, upon publication in the Federal Register, by the Secretary of State in consultation with or upon the request of the Attorney General, as a terrorist organization, after finding that the organization engages in "terrorist activity" or that the organization provides material support to further terrorist activity
    • A group of two or more individuals, whether organized or not, which engages in "terrorist activity"

Sec. 412: Mandatory Detention of Suspected Terrorists; Habeas Corpus; Judicial Review

  • The Attorney General "may" certify that an "alien" is "engaged in any other activity that endangers the national security of the United States"
  • An alien who is certified "shall" be taken into custody by the Attorney General
  • "The Attorney General shall maintain custody of such an alien until the alien is removed from the United States... such custody shall be maintained irrespective of any relief from removal granted the alien, until the Attorney General determines that the alien is no longer an alien who may be certified"
  • If the alien is finally determined to not be removable, detention "shall terminate" but an alien who has not been removed "and whose removal is unlikely in the reasonably foreseeable future, may be detained for additional periods of up to six months only if the release of the alien will threaten the national security of the United States or the safety of the community or any person."
  • Judicial review of "any action or decision" relating to this section ("including judicial review of the merits of a determination") is available exclusively in habeas corpus proceedings. Outside of that, "no court shall have jurisdiction to review, by habeas corpus petition or otherwise, any such action or decision."
    • The habeas corpus proceedings that are allowed may be initiated only by an application filed with the Supreme Court, any circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, or "any district court otherwise having jurisdiction to entertain it."
    • The final order "shall be subject to review, on appeal, by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. There shall be no right of appeal in such proceedings to any other circuit court of appeals."

Section 413: Multilateral Cooperation Against Terrorists

  • Allows the Secretary of State to share information with other countries about "individual aliens" for the "purpose of preventing, investigating, or punishing acts that would constitute a crime in the United States"

Subtitle C - Preservation of Immigration Benefits for Victims of Terrorism

Sections 421-428: Provide leniency to immigrants who were either direct victims of 9/11 or whose US citizen spouse or parent died on 9/11.


Sec. 501: Attorney General's Authority to Pay Rewards to Combat Terrorism

  • Allows the Attorney General to offer rewards via public advertisements for assisting the Justice Department to "defend the Nation against terrorist acts"
  • The money can come from "any executive agency or military department"
  • "Neither the failure to of the Attorney General to authorize a payment nor the amount authorized shall be subject to judicial review"

Sec. 502: Secretary of State's Authority to Pay Rewards

  • Allows the Secretary of State to pay rewards - including rewards over $5 million - for "the identification or location of an individual who holds a key leadership position in a terrorist organization"
    • The reward limit has since been increased to $25 million, but higher amounts can be personally authorized by the Secretary of State
    • Rewards up to $100,000 do not need to be approved by the Secretary of State
    • Current law: "A determination made by the Secretary under this section shall be final and conclusive and shall not be subject to judicial review"

Sec. 504: Coordination With Law Enforcement

  • Allows Federal officers who conduct electronic surveillance or physical searches to coordinate with Federal law enforcement officers to "investigate or protect against" actual or potential attacks, sabotage, or clandestine intelligence activities by agents of a foreign power.

Sec. 505: Miscellaneous National Security Authorities

  • Authorizes FBI investigators to collect the name, address, length of service, and toll billing records of telephone, financial records, and consumer reports of US citizens as long as the investigation is "not conducted solely on the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States."
    • Allows the FBI to obtain records faster using National Security Letters instead of the previous process where they had to document specific and facts showing that the person is an agent of a foreign power

Sec. 507: Disclosure of Educational Records

  • Allows the Attorney General (or high ranking designee) to request a court order for educational records that are relevant to investigations into "an act of domestic or international terrorism"
  • The application to the court "shall certify that there are specific and articulable facts giving reason to believe" that the records will likely contain information related to their terrorism investigation.
  • Provides immunity to educational agencies and institutions that comply with the court orders


Subtitle A - Aid to Families of Public Safety Officers

Sec. 613: Public Safety Officers Benefit Program Payment Increase

  • Increases the death or severe disability payment amount from $100,000 to $250,000

Subtitle B - Amendments to the Victims of Crime Act of 1984

Sec. 621: Crime Victims Fund

  • Allocates money specifically to 9/11 victims and ensures that the payments do not count as income in order to reduce any government assistance that victim receives.


Sec. 701: Expansion of Regional Information Sharing System to Facilitate Federal-State-Local Law Enforcement Response Related to Terrorist Attacks

  • Funds new information sharing networks


Sec. 801: Terrorist Attacks and Other Acts of Violence Against Mass Transportation Systems

  • Sets penalties for attacking mass transportation systems
    • For attacks or plots that don't kill anyone or have passengers on board: Fines and up to 20 years in prison
    • For attacks on vessels carrying at least one passenger or that result in "the death of any person", fines and up to life in prison.

Sec. 802: Definition of Domestic Terrorism

  • "The term 'domestic terrorism' means activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States."
  • Current law maintains this definition

Sec. 803: Prohibition Against Harboring Terrorists

  • Establishes punishments for anyone who "harbors or conceals any person who he knows, or has reasonable grounds to believe, has committed, or is about to commit" a list of terrorism related crimes. They can be fined, sent to prison for up to 10 years, or both.
  • Any Federal judicial district court can prosecuted these offenses.

Sec. 804: Jurisdiction Over Crimes Committed at U.S. Facilities Abroad

  • Gives the Federal Government jurisdiction over crimes committed by or against Americans that take place on property used - not necessarily owned - by the United States in foreign countries and in the residences used by United States personnel assigned to foreign missions.

Sec. 806: Assets of Terrorist Organizations

  • Subjects to civil forfeiture "all assets, foreign and domestic of any individual, entity, or organization engaged in planning or perpetrating any act of domestic or international terrorism against the United States, citizens or residents of the United States, or their property, and all assets, foreign or domestic, affording any person a source of influence over any such entity or organization; acquired or maintained by any person with the intent and for the purpose of supporting, planning, conducting, or concealing an act of domestic or international terrorism... or derived from, involved in, or used or intended to be used to commit any act of domestic or international terrorism..."
    • The language 'any act of domestic or international terrorism' has since be changed to 'any Federal crime of terrorism'

Sec. 809: No Statute of Limitation for Certain Terrorism Offenses

  • Exempts terrorism crimes that result in or created a forseeable risk of death or serious bodily injury from an 8 year statute of limitations.

Sec. 810: Alternate Maximum Penalties for Terrorism Offenses

  • Increases penalties for crimes
    • Arson prison sentences increase from a maximum of 20 years to a maximum of life
    • Destruction of energy facilities increase from a maximum of 10 years to a maximum of 20 years
      • Arson or energy facility destruction crimes that result in a death can be given life sentences
    • Material support to terrorists and terrorist organization prison sentences increased from a maximum of 10 years to 15 years
      • Material support to terrorists or terrorist organizations that result in a death can be given life sentences
    • Destruction of national defense material crimes and sabotage of nuclear facilities or fuel prison sentences increased from a maximum of 10 years to 20 years
      • Destruction of national defense material crimes and sabotage of nuclear facilities or fuel that result in a death can be given life sentences
    • Damaging or destroying an interstate gas or hazardous liquid pipeline facility crimes prison sentences increased from a maximum 15 years to 20 years
      • Damaging or destroying an interstate gas or hazardous liquid pipeline facility crimes that result in a death can be given life sentences

Sec. 811: Penalties for Terrorist Conspiracies

  • Adds people who conspire to commit crimes including arson, killings in Federal facilities, destruction of communications lines, stations, or systems, wrecking trains, material support to terrorists, torture, conspiracy, sabotage of nuclear facilities or fuel, interference with flight crew members and attendants, damaging or destroying an interstate gas or hazardous liquid pipeline facility, and a few others to the list of those who can be punished with fines and prison sentences.

Sec. 814: Deterrence and Prevention of Cyberterrorism

  • Increases the penalty for intentionally damaging a federal computer from up to 5 years in prison to up to 10 years in prison (up to 20 years for a repeat offender).

Sec. 817: Expansion of the Biological Weapons Statute

  • Establishes a maximum 10 year prison sentence and a fine for anyone who "knowingly possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system of a type or in a quantity... that is not reasonably justified by a prophylactic, protective, bona fide research, or other peaceful purpose."


Sec. 901: Responsibilities of Director of Central Intelligence Regarding Foreign Intelligence Collected Under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978

  • Because only the President and Attorney General are able to initiate a FISA surveillance order, this provision facilitates information sharing from the Attorney General to the CIA in a way that ensures that the CIA "Director shall have no authority to direct, manage, or undertake electronic surveillance or physical search operations."

Sec. 905: Disclosure to Director of Central Intelligence of Foreign Intelligence-Related Information With Respect to Criminal Investigations

  • The Attorney General or the head of "any other department or agency of the Federal Government" with law enforcement responsibilities "shall expeditiously disclose" to the Director of Central Intelligence foreign intelligence gotten in the course of a criminal investigation.


Sec. 1005: First Responders Assistance Act

  • Creates a grant program where the Attorney General will fund States and local governments for hiring additional law enforcement personal dedicated to "intelligence gathering", purchasing spying equipment such as wire-tap, pen links, cameras, and computer hardware/software, protective equipment for patrol officers, and communications operations for improved interoperability among surrounding jurisdictions.

Sec. 1007: Authorization of Funds for DEA Police Training in South and Central Asia

  • Authorizes $5 million for fiscal year 2002 for "regional antidrug training in the Republic of Turkey" by the DEA for police and "increased precursor chemical control efforts in the South and Central Asia region."

Sec. 1010: Temporary Authority to Contract with Local and State Governments for Performance of Security Functions at United States Military Installations

  • "During the period of time that United States armed forces are engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom and for the period of 180 days thereafter", the Department of Defense is allowed to use their money to contract out security at their military bases in the United States to local and State governments.

Sec. 1012: Limitation on Issuance of Hazmat Licenses

  • The Attorney General will complete background checks at the request of the States on people applying for a license to transport hazardous material

Sec. 1016: Critical Infrastructure Protection

  • Creates the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC)


House Session - October 23, 2001

Sound Clip Transcripts

  • 1:26:29 Rep. Bobby Scott: First of all, I think it's appropriate to comment on the process by which the bill is coming to us. This is not the bill that was reported and deliberated on in the Judiciary Committee. It came to us late on the floor. No one has really had an opportunity to look at the bill to see what's in it since we've been out of our offices. The report has just come to us. And it would be helpful if we'd wait for some period of time so that we can at least review what we're voting on. But I guess that's not gonna stop us. So here we go.

  • 1:27:26 Rep. Bobby Scott: This bill makes three significant changes. One, it reduces s+tandards for getting a foreign intelligence wiretap from one where it is the reason you're getting it, to it is a significant reason for getting the wiretap, much less. Then you wonder, well, if it's not the primary reason, why are you getting the wiretap? Second, it allows the roving wiretap so once you find a target, if he's using cell phones, for example, you can go and find them wherever he is. And third, you can use the information in a criminal investigation and the combination gives you the situation where there's very little standard, and you can essentially conduct a criminal investigation without probable cause. If you have, for example, a target, who is using cell phones, you get the the wiretap, he uses a payphone, you can listen to anybody using the payphone. If he's in a club or organization, in a business, you can go on you tap the phones there, if he's visiting the democratic national headquarters, maybe you can tap all the phones there.

  • 1:29:47 Rep. Bobby Scott: There are provisions that allow attention under certain circumstances that may be indefinite, we expand the ability of the government to conduct secret searches and so called sneak and peek where you don't tell people they're even being investigated. And you can start targeting domestic organizations, designated domestic groups, as terrorist groups and you can start getting the CIA into designating these groups as targets for criminal investigations. There's a lot in this bill that we have not appropriately considered. And that's why we need more time to think of it because it goes way past terrorism. This is the way you're going to be conducting criminal investigations and therefore the bill ought to be defeated.

  • 1:39:09 Rep. Spencer Bachus: You know, we may not have understood and appreciated the word “terrorism” and what terrorists were before September 11. We certainly do today. We know who they are. We know what they're capable of. We may not have appreciated the need for this legislation before September 11, but surely today, we appreciate the need for this legislation and the urgency of such legislation.

  • 1:44:04 Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee: I'm concerned that the legislation still permits the Attorney General indefinitely to incarcerate or detain non-citizens based on mere suspicion and to deny readmission to the United States of such non-citizens. I'm also concerned that the AG and the Secretary of State have the power to designate domestic terrorists. You might simply be paying dues and be declared part of a terrorist organization. It has widespread investigation of Americans just on the basis of intelligence purposes. It allows searches of highly personal financial records, and allows student records to be searched. I would say this, Mr. Speaker, let us show America's character and bring forth a bill that all of us will find a good balance. We'll review this bill but I hope that we'll vote on a good bill and provide the leadership that we need to lead.

  • 1:46:41 Rep. Marge Roukema: I would like to say to some of the naysayers that complain about the provisions, the question as to whether or not they deny due process or whatever. The question has been asked, Are we endangering the rights and privacy of innocent Americans? The answer is no. But it does give our law enforcement officials the requirements that they need for their careful investigation. It gives our regulators and law enforcement officials what they need to get the job done.

  • 1:52:25 Rep. Zoe Lofgren: I would also like to note, however, that there's been a lot of loose language among people who oppose this bill, and people are perfectly free to disagree with it, but it's important that we not be incorrect about what's actually in the bill. I actually heard someone say that the bill would provide for indefinite incarceration on a mere suspicion by the Attorney General, that's simply not the case. The Attorney General may detain persons but he has to certify and he has to have reasonable reasonable grounds to believe that the individuals have involved in terrorism and that decision is reviewable by a court. So that is really the to say it's a mere suspicion and indefinite is certainly not the case.

  • 2:07:48 Rep. Mel Watt: Some groups in our country have had their rights violated, trampled on, by the law enforcement authorities in this country and so we don't have the luxury of being able to just sit back and give authority, more authority, than is warranted, the authority possibly to abuse due process, to law enforcement, even in the context of what we're going through now. This is a very difficult time. I acknowledge that it is. But I think we are giving the government and law enforcement too much authority in this bill.

  • 2:18:15 Rep. Barney Frank: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how I'm gonna vote on this bill yet, because I have this notion that in a bill of this weight, I ought to read it. So what I want to talk about now is my deep disappointment at the procedure. The gentleman from Wisconsin, the chair of the committee, has fought hard for a fair chance for the members to look at things. But on the whole, his efforts have not been honored. We now, for the second time, are debating on the floor a bill of very profound significance for the constitutional structure and security of our country and in neither case has any member been allowed to offer a single amendment. At no point in the debate in this very profound set of issues, have we had a procedure whereby the most democratic institution in our government, the House of Representatives, engages in democracy. Who decided that to defend democracy we had to degrade it? Who decided that the very openness and participation and debate and weighing of issues, who decided that was a defect at a time of crisis? This is a chance for us to show the world that democracy is a source of strength, that with our military strength and our determination and our unity of purpose goes to continued respect for the profound way in which our democracy functions. And this bill ironically, this bill which has been given all these high flying acronyms, it's the Patriot bill, it's the USA bill, it's that stand up and sing the Star Spangled Banner bill, has been debated in the most undemocratic way possible. And that's not worthy of this institution.

  • 2:21:13 Rep. John Conyers: The members of the judiciary committee, who had a free and open debate, and then we came to a bill that even though imperfect, was unanimously agreed on. That was removed from us and we're now debating at this hour of the night, with only two copies of the bill that we're being asked to vote on available to the members on this side of the aisle.

  • 2:22:18 Rep. John Conyers: Although I like the the money laundering provisions in the bill, I detest the work product that bears the name of my committee on it that has now been joined with this bill. And for this reason, as we close this debate, my inclination is not to support the bill.

  • 2:23:12 Rep. James Sensenbrenner: Mr. Speaker, this is the latest step in a long process to attempt to pass a bill and send to the president that is vitally needed. It is vitally needed by our law enforcement officials, who are fighting the battle at home. We don't know how this battle will be fought. We don't know what tactics the enemy will take. We don't know what agents the enemy will use. And what we need is we need to get the intelligence necessary to protect the people of the United States of America from whatever the enemy has planned up its sleeve.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Oct 25, 2021
CD240: BIF The Infrastructure BILL

Jen has been all over the internet lately telling the world that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework is a dumpster fire of a bill. In this episode, she backs that up by comparing the levels of investment for different kinds of infrastructure and examining the society changing effects the bill would have if it were to become law.

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Utilities Middle East Staff. September 13, 2021. “World’s largest carbon capture and storage plant launched.” Utilities.

Adele Peters. September 8, 2021. “The first commercial carbon removal plant just opened in Iceland.” Fast Company.

Hiroko Tabuchi. August 16, 2021. “For Many, Hydrogen Is the Fuel of the Future. New Research Raises Doubts.” The New York Times.

Robert W. Haworth and Mark Z. Jacobson. August 12, 2021. “How green is blue hydrogen?.” Energy Science & Engineering.

Emily Cochrane. August 10, 2021. “Senate Passes $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill, Handing Biden a Bipartisan Win.” The New York Times.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. June 3, 2021. “2020 Fatality Data Show Increased Traffic Fatalities During Pandemic.” U.S. Department of Transportation.

Nation Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). May 19, 2021. “What We Know—and Do Not Know—About Achieving a National-Scale 100% Renewable Electric Grid .”

Michael Barnard. May 3, 2021. “Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Are Mostly Bad Policy.” CleanTechnica.

Hiroko Tabuchi. April 24, 2021. “Halting the Vast Release of Methane Is Critical for Climate, U.N. Says.” The New York Times.

Grist Creative. April 15, 2021. “How direct air capture works (and why it’s important)” Grist.

American Society of Civil Engineers. 2021. “Bridges.” 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.

Open Secrets. “Sen. Joe Manchin - West Virginia - Top Industries Contributing 2015-2020.”

Savannah Keaton. December 30, 2020. “Can Fuel Cell Vehicles Explode Like ‘Hydrogen Bombs on Wheels’?” Motor Biscuit.
Dale K. DuPont. August 6, 2020. “First all-electric ferry in U.S. reaches milestone.” WorkBoat.

Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser. 2020. “CO2 and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” Our World in Data.

Jeff Butler. January 27, 2019. “Norway leads an electric ferry revolution.”

Our World in Data. Annual CO2 Emissions, 2019.

Hydrogen Council. 2019. Frequently Asked Questions.

Mark Z. Jacobson et al. September 6, 2017. “100% Clean and Renewable Wind, Water, and Sunlight All-Sector Energy Roadmaps for 139 Countries of the World.” Joule.

Kendra Pierre-Louis. August 25, 2017. “Almost every country in the world can power itself with renewable energy.” Popular Science.

Chuck Squatriglia. May 12, 2008. “Hydrogen Cars Won't Make a Difference for 40 Years.” Wired.

Renewable Energy World. April 22, 2004. “Schwarzenegger Unveils ‘Hydrogen Highways’ Plan.”

United States Department of Energy. February 2002. A National Vision of America’s Transition to a Hydrogen Economy -- to 2030 and Beyond.

The Bill

H.R. 3684: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

August 10, 2021 Senate Vote Breakdown
July 1, 2021 House Vote Breakdown

Jen's Highlighted Version

Bill Outline



Subtitle A - Authorizations and Programs

Sec. 11101: Authorization of Appropriations

  • Authorizes appropriations for Federal-Aid for highways at between $52 billion and $56 billion per year through fiscal year 2026.

Sec. 11117: Toll Roads, Bridges, Tunnels, and Ferries

  • Authorizes the government to pay up to 85% of the costs of replacing or retrofitting a diesel fuel ferry vessel until the end of fiscal year 2025.

Sec. 11118: Bridge Investment Program

  • Authorizes between $600 million and $700 million per year through 2026 (from the Highway Trust Fund) for repairs to bridges
  • If a Federal agency wants grant money to repair a Federally owned bridge, it "shall" consider selling off that asset to the State or local government.

Sec. 11119: Safe Routes to School

  • Creates a new program to improve the ability of children to walk and ride their bikes to school by funding projects including sidewalk improvements, speed reduction improvements, crosswalk improvements, bike parking, and traffic diversions away from schools.
  • Up to 30% of the money can be used for public awareness campaigns, media relations, education, and staffing.
  • No additional funding is provided. It will be funded with existing funds for "administrative expenses."

Sec. 11121: Construction of Ferry Boats and Ferry Terminal Facilities

  • Authorizes between $110 million and $118 million per year through 2026 (from the Highway Trust Fund) to construct ferry boats and ferry terminals.

Subtitle D - Climate Change

Sec. 11401: Grants for Charging and Fueling Infrastructure

  • Creates a new grant program with $15 million maximum per grant for governments to build public charging infrastructure for vehicles fueled with electricity, hydrogen, propane, and "natural" gas.
    • The construction of the projects can be contracted out to private companies.

Sec. 11402: Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities

  • Establishes a program to study and test projects that would reduce emissions.

Sec. 11403: Carbon Reduction Program

  • Allows, but does not require, the Transportation Secretary to use money for projects related to traffic monitoring, public transportation, trails for pedestrians and bicyclists, congestion management technologies, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technologies, energy efficient street lighting, congestion pricing to shift transportation demand to non-peak hours, electronic toll collection, installing public chargers for electric, hydrogen, propane, and gas powered vehicles.

Sec. 11404: Congestion Relief Program

  • Creates a grant program, funded at a minimum of $10 million per grant, for projects aimed at reducing highway congestion. Eligible projects include congestion management systems, fees for entering cities, deployment of toll lanes, parking fees, and congestion pricing, operating commuter buses and vans, and carpool encouragement programs.
  • Buses, transit, and paratransit vehicles "shall" be allowed to use toll lanes "at a discount rate or without charge."

Sec. 11405: Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Program

  • Establishes the "PROTECT program", which provides grants for projects to protect some current infrastructure from extreme weather events and climate related changes.
  • Types of grants include grants for "at-risk coastal infrastructure" which specifies that only "non-rail infrastructure is eligible" (such as highways, roads, pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, etc.)

Sec. 11406: Healthy Streets Program

  • Establishes a grant program to install reflective pavement and to expand tree cover in order to mitigate urban heat islands, improve air quality, and reduce stormwater run-off and flood risks.
  • Caps each grant at $15 million


Sec. 13001: Strategic Innovation for Revenue Collection

  • Provides grants for pilot projects to test our acceptance of user-based fee collections and their effects on different income groups and people from urban and rural areas. They will test the use of private companies to collect the data and fees.

Sec. 13002: National Motor Vehicle Per-mile User Fee Pilot

  • Creates a pilot program to test a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee.



Sec. 21201: National Infrastructure Project Assistance

  • Authorizes $2 billion total per year until 2026 on projects that cost at least $100 million that include highway, bridge, freight rail, passenger rail, and public transportation projects.
  • Authorizes $1.5 billion total per year until 2026 (which will expire after 3 years) for grants in amount between $1 million and $25 million for projects that include highway, bridge, public transportation, passenger and freight rail, port infrastructure, surface transportation at airports, and more.


Subtitle A - Authorization of Appropriations

Sec. 22101: Grants to Amtrak

  • Authorizes appropriations for Amtrak in the Northeast Corridor at between $1.1 billion and $1.57 billion per year through 2026.
  • Authorizes appropriations for Amtrak in the National Network at between $2.2 billion and $3 billion per year through 2026.

Subtitle B - Amtrak Reforms

Sec. 22201: Amtrak Findings, Mission, and Goals

  • Changes the goal of cooperation between Amtrak, governments, & other rail carriers from "to achieve a performance level sufficient to justify expending public money" to "in order to meet the intercity passenger rail needs of the United States" and expands the service areas beyond "urban" locations.
  • Changes the goals of Amtrak to include "improving its contracts with rail carriers over whose tracks Amtrak operates."

Sec. 22208: Passenger Experience Enhancement

  • Food and beverage service: Amtrak will establish a working group...

Sec. 22212: Enhancing Cross Border Service

  • Amtrak must submit a report...

Sec. 22213: Creating Quality Jobs

  • Amtrak will not be allowed to privatize the jobs previously performed by laid off union workers.

Sec. 22214: Amtrak Daily Long Distance Study

  • Amtrak would study bringing back long distance rail routes that were discontinued.

Subtitle C - Intercity Passenger Rail Policy

Sec. 22304: Restoration and Enhancement Grants

  • Extends the amount of time the government will pay the operating costs of Amtrak or "any rail carrier" that provides passenger rail service from 3 years to 6 years, and pays higher percentages of the the costs.

Sec. 22305: Railroad Crossing Elimination Program

  • Creates a program to eliminate highway-rail crossings where vehicles are frequently stopped by trains.
  • Authorizes the construction on tunnels and bridges.

Sec. 22306: Interstate Rail Compacts Authorizes up to 10 grants per year valued at a maximum of $ million each to plan and promote new Amtrak routes

Sec. 22308: Corridor Identification and Development Program

  • The Secretary of Transportation will create a program for public entities to plan for expanded intercity passenger rail corridors, operated by Amtrak or private companies.
  • When developing plans for corridors, the Secretary has to "consult" with "host railroads for the proposed corridor"

Subtitle D - Rail Safety

Sec. 22404: Blocked Crossing Portal

  • The Administration of the Federal Railroad Administration would establish a "3 year blocked crossing portal" which would collect information about blocked crossing by trains from the public and first responders and provide every person submitting the complaint the contact information of the "relevant railroad" and would "encourage" them to complain to them too.
  • Information collected would NOT be allowed to be used for any regulatory or enforcement purposes.

Sec. 22406: Emergency Lighting

  • The Secretary of Transportation will have to issue a rule requiring that all carriers that transport human passengers have an emergency lighting system that turns on when there is a power failure.

Sec. 22409: Positive Train Control Study

  • The Comptroller General will conduct a study to determine the annual operation and maintenance costs for positive train control.

Sec. 22423: High-Speed Train Noise Emissions

  • Allows, but does not require, the Secretary of Transportation to create regulations governing the noise levels of trains that exceed 160 mph.

Sec. 22425: Requirements for Railroad Freight Cars Placed into Service in the United States

  • Effective 3 years after the regulations are complete (maximum 5 years after this becomes law), freight cars will be prohibited from operating within the United States if more than 15% of it is manufactured in "a country of concern" or state-owned facilities.
  • The Secretary of Transportation can assess fines between $100,000 and $250,000 per freight car. A company that has been found in violation 3 times can be kicked out of the United State's transportation system until they are in compliance and have paid all their fines in full.

Sec. 22427: Controlled Substances Testing for Mechanical Employees

  • 180 days after this becomes law, all railroad mechanics will be subject to drug testing, which can be conducted at random.


Sec. 30017: Authorizations

  • Authorizes between $13.3 billion and $14.7 billion per year to be appropriated for transit grants.



Sec. 40101: Preventing Outages and Enhancing The Resilience of the Electric Grid

  • Creates a $5 billion grant distribution program to electric grid operators, electricity storage operations, electricity generators, transmission owners and operators, distribution suppliers, fuels suppliers, and other entities chosen by the Secretary of Energy.
  • The grants need to be used to reduce the risk that power lines will cause wildfires.
  • States have to match 15%. The company receiving the grant has to match it by 100% (small utilities only have to match 1/3 of the grant.)
  • Grant money be used for micro-grids and battery-storage in addition to obvious power line protection measures.
  • Grant money can not be used to construct a new electricity generating facility, a large-scale battery facility that is not used to prevent "disruptive events", or cybersecurity.
  • The companies are allowed to charge customers for parts of their projects that are not paid for with grant money (so they have to match the grant with their customer's money).

Sec. 40112: Demonstration of Electric Vehicle Battery Second-Life Applications for Grid Services

  • Creates a demonstration project to show utility companies that electric car batteries can be used to stabilize the grid and reduce peak loads of homes and businesses.
  • The demonstration project must include a facility that "could particularly benefit" such as a multi-family housing building, a senior care facility, or community health center.


Sec. 40201: Earth Mapping Resources Initiative

  • The US Geological Survey will get $320 million and ten years to map "all of the recoverable critical minerals."

Sec. 40204: USGS Energy and Minerals Research Facility

  • Authorizes $167 million to construct a new facility for energy and minerals research.
  • The facility can be on land leased to the government for 99 years by "an academic partner."
  • Requires the USGS to retain ownership of the facility.

Sec. 40205: Rare Earth Elements Demonstration Facility

  • Authorizes $140 million to build a rare earth element extractions and separation facility and refinery.
  • Does NOT require the government to retain ownership of the facility.


Subtitle A - Carbon Capture, Utilization, Storage, and Transportation Infrastructure

Sec. 40304: Carbon Dioxide Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation

  • Authorizes $600 million for 2022 and 2023 and $300 million for each year between 2024 and 2026 for grants and loan guarantees for projects for transporting captured carbon dioxide.
  • Each project has to cost more than $100 million and the government can pay up to 80% of the costs.
  • If the project is financed with a loan, the company will have 35 years to pay it back, with fees and interest. Loans can be issued via private banks with guarantees provided by the government.

Sec. 40305: Carbon Storage Validation and Testing

  • Creates a new program for funding new or expanded large-scale carbon sequestration projects.
  • Authorizes $2.5 billion through 2026.

Sec. 40308: Carbon Removal

  • Creates a new program for grants or contracts for projects to that will form "4 regional direct air capture hubs" that will each be able to capture 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
  • Authorizes $3.5 billion per year through 2026.

Subtitle B - Hydrogen Research and Development

Sec. 40313: Clean Hydrogen Research and Development Program

  • Changes a goal of an existing research and development plan for hydrogen fuels (created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005) from enhancing sources of renewable fuels and biofuels for hydrogen production to enhancing those sources and fossil fuels with carbon capture and nuclear energy.
  • Expands the activities of this program to include using hydrogen for power generation, industrial processes including steelmaking, cement, chemical feestocks, and heat production.
  • They intend to transition natural gas pipelines to hydrogen pipelines.
  • They intend for hydrogen to be used for all kinds of vehicles, rail transport, aviation, and maritime transportation.

Sec. 40314: Additional Clean Hydrogen Programs

  • Creates a new program to create "4 regional clean hydrogen hubs" for production, processing, delivery, storage, and end-use of "clean hydrogen."
  • At least one regional hub is required to demonstrate the production of "clean hydrogen from fossil fuels."
  • At least one regional hub is required to demonstrate the production of "clean hydrogen from renewable energy."
  • At least one regional hub is required to demonstrate the production of "clean hydrogen from nuclear energy."
  • The four hubs will each demonstrate a different use: Electric power generation, industrial sector uses, residential and commercial heating, and transportation.
  • Requires the development of a strategy "to facilitate widespread production, processing, storage, and use of clean hydrogen", which will include a focus on production using coal.
    The hydrogen hubs should "leverage natural gas to the maximum extent practicable."
  • Creates a new program to commercialize the production of hydrogen by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • The overall goal is to identify barriers, pathways, and policy needs to "transition to a clean hydrogen economy."
    Authorizes $9.5 billion through 2026.

Sec. 40315: Clean Hydrogen Production Qualifications

  • Develops a standard for the term "clean hydrogen" which has a carbon intensity equal to or less than 2 kilograms of carbon dioxide-equivalent produced at the site of production per kilogram of hydrogen produced."

Subtitle C - Nuclear Energy Infrastructure

Sec. 40323: Civil Nuclear Credit Program

  • Creates a program, authorized to be funded with $6 billion per year through 2026, that will provide credit from the government to nuclear reactors that are projected to shut down because they are economically failing.

Subtitle D - Hydropower

Sec. 40331: Hydroelectric Production Incentives

  • Authorizes a one-time appropriation of $125 million for fiscal year 2022.

Sec. 40332: Hydroelectric Efficiency Improvement Incentives

  • Authorizes a one-time appropriation of $75 million for fiscal year 2022.

Sec. 40333: Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives

  • Authorizes a one-time appropriations of $553 million for repairs and improvements to dams constructed before 1920. The government will pay a maximum of 30% of the project costs, capped at $5 million each.

Sec. 40334: Pumped Storage Hydropower Wind and Solar Integration and System Reliability Initiative

  • Authorizes $2 million per year through 2026 to pay 50% or less of the costs of a demonstration project to test the ability of a pumped storage hydropower project to facilitate the long duration storage of at least 1,000 megawatts of intermittent renewable electricity.

Subtitle E - Miscellaneous

Sec. 40342: Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land

  • Creates a new program, authorized to be funded with $500 million through 2026, to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of putting clean energy projects on former mine land. There will be a maximum of 5 projects and 2 of them have to be solar.
  • Defines a "clean energy project" to include "fossil-fueled electricity generation with carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration."


Sec. 41001: Energy Storage Demonstration Projects

  • Authorizes $505 million through2025 for energy storage demonstration projects.
    Sec. 41002: Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program
  • Authorizes between $281 million and $824 million per year through 2027 for advanced nuclear reactor demonstration projects.

Sec. 41004: Carbon Capture Demonstration and Pilot Programs

  • Authorizes between $700 million and $1.3 billion through2025 for advanced nuclear reactor demonstration projects.

Sec. 41007: Renewable Energy Projects

  • Authorizes $84 million through 2025 for geothermal energy projects.
  • Authorizes $100 million through 2025 for wind energy projects.
    • There is a clarification that this is definitely NOT in addition to amounts wind gets from another fund.
  • Authorizes $80 million through 2025 for solar energy projects.








Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Oct 11, 2021
CD239: The Enablers of Larry Nassar

In June 2015, the FBI in Indianapolis was notified that Larry Nassar, a doctor for Olympic caliber gymnasts, was sexually abusing his underage patients. In this episode, hear highlights from a riveting Senate hearing with testimony from Maggie Nichols, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Simone Biles and get all the details presented in an Inspector General report explaining why the FBI did nothing to stop Larry Nassar for over a year while he continued to abuse dozens of additional young girls.

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Background Sources


Athlete A. Netflix.

Hannah Shaw-Williams. June 24, 2020. “Athlete A True Story: What Netflix's Documentary Leaves Out” Screen Rant.

Government Documents and Reports

Office of the Inspector General. July 2021. Investigation and Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Handling of Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Former USA Gymnastics Physician Lawrence Gerard Nassar (21-093). United States Department of Justice.

Office of the Inspector General. 2021. “DOJ OIG Releases Report of Investigation and Review of the FBI’s Handling of Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Former USA Gymnastics Physician Lawrence Gerard Nassar.” U.S. Department of Justice.

Senator Jerry Moran and Senator Richard Blumenthal. July 30, 2019. The Courage of Survivors: A Call to Action. Senate Olympics Investigation.

Manly, Stewart & Finaldi. September 8, 2016. “Jane JD Doe Complaint: Case Number 34-2016-00200075.” Superior Court of California, Sacramento.

News Coverage

Grace Segers. September 15, 2021. “Gymnasts Rip the FBI for Its Failure to Stop Larry Nassar’s Serial Sexual Abuses.” The New Republic.

Rebecca Shabad. September 15, 2021. “FBI fires agent accused of failing to investigate Nassar sex-abuse allegations.” NBC News.

Kara Berg. September 8, 2021. “How much Michigan State has paid in wake of Larry Nassar scandal.” The Lansing State Journal.

Sayantani Nath. February 25, 2021. “Who owns Twistars USA gym now? John Geddert sold gym infamous for Larry Nassar's sexual abuse before suicide.” MEAWW (Media, Entertainment, Arts WorldWide).

Reuters. February 25, 2021. “Nassar Whistleblower Repeats Call for USAG Decertification.” U.S. News & World Report.

Dan Barry, Serge F. Kovaleski and Juliet Macur. February 3, 2018. “As F.B.I. Took a Year to Pursue the Nassar Case, Dozens Say They Were Molested.” The New York Times.

Matthew Futterman, Louise Radnofsky and Rebecca Davis O’Brien. June 2, 2017. “Former U.S. Gymnastics Chief Received $1 Million Severance Package.” The Wall Street Journal.

Tim Evans, Mark Alesia, and Marisa Kwiatkowski. September 12, 2016. “Former USA Gymnastics doctor accused of abuse.” The Indianapolis Star.

Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia and Tim Evans. August 4, 2016. “A blind eye to sex abuse: How USA Gymnastics failed to report cases.” The Indianapolis Star.

Matt Krantz. September 13, 2013. “2008 crisis still hangs over credit-rating firms.” USA Today.

Audio Sources

Dereliction of Duty: Examining the Inspector General’s Report on the FBI’s Handling of the Larry Nassar Investigation

Senate Judiciary Committee
September 15, 2021

Committee concluded a hearing to examine the Inspector General's report on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation, after receiving testimony from Michael E. Horowitz, Inspector General, and Christopher A. Wray, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, both of the Department of Justice; Simone Biles, Houston, Texas; McKayla Maroney, Long Beach, California; Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minnesota; and Aly Raisman, Boston, Massachusetts.

Sound Clips

  • 47:54 Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): By the time Nassar was convicted and sentenced in federal and Michigan State court, over 150 survivors had come forward to recount the impact of these horrific crimes. Today we believe Nasser abused more than 300 athletes before he was brought to justice.

  • 48:20 Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): Between 2018 and 2019, a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee led by our colleagues, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Jerry Moran conducted an 18 month investigation into this case. The investigation concluded that the US Olympic Committee in the USA Gymnastics knowingly concealed abuse by masseur between the summer of 2015 and September of 2016. The Senate passed two bills aimed at addressing the failures in the Nasser case with overwhelming bipartisan support that protecting young victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2017, sponsored by Senator Feinstein, and the umpiring Olympic Paralympic amateur athletes act of 2020 by Senators Moran and Blumenthal both extended the duty of certain adults to report suspected child abuse. These are good and important steps. But the reporting requirement in both laws is not worth much if law enforcement and the FBI failed to respond and immediately and aggressively investigate the abuse cases.

  • 51:57 Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): We'll also hear from the Inspector General and the FBI Director, who owe these young women in this committee an explanation of what the FBI is doing to ensure that this never happens again. And I'll add that I am disappointed. We asked the Justice Department to testify about their decision not to prosecute the two FBI officials who made false statements to the Attorney General. I understand it's a long standing department policy not to comment on decisions not to prosecute, but robust oversight of the Department of Justice is a core responsibility of this committee, committed to ensuring that committee members have an opportunity to question the Department of Justice about this issue at an oversight hearing in the fall.

  • 56:44 Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA): I suspect there's much more to that story. One issue not talked about much is that the FBI has a division in Washington DC, known as the Violent Crimes Against Children unit. This component of headquarters was notified by two of its field offices about the Nassar allegations way back in 2015, and 2016, respectively. The Children's unit employs subject matter experts so it is well position in FBI to guide those field officers on their duties in child exploitation cases. Because it's housed at headquarters, this children's unit also was uniquely positioned to play a coordinating role by supervising case transfers to the appropriate FBI field offices. And this unit was well positioned to offer qualitative supervision of field offices' work.
  • 58:19 Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA): The Children's unit helped develop a white paper, or more accurately, a whitewash, after the Nassar case attracted national attention. Ensuring that truthful information was provided about the FBI's role in this investigation was clearly not the main priority. This is a serious problem at the heart of the FBI. Not a case of a few errant agents.

  • 1:00:12 Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA): Finally, I want to mention that I'm working on legislation to close the legislative loophole in the sex tourism statute that the Inspector General flagged in his report. This gap in the law allowed Larry Nassar to evade federal prosecution for assaulting children while traveling abroad.

  • 1:26:34 Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): Our first witness Simone Biles, one of the greatest gymnast of all time. She is the first woman to capture five all round world championship titles and the most decorated gymnast, male or female, in World Championships history. 25 medals overall, she is a seven time Olympic medalist. Her extraordinary accomplishments have received widespread recognition including two Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year awards.

  • 1:27:18 Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): McKayla Maroney was a member of the American women's gymnastics team dubbed the Fierce Five at the 2012 Summer Olympics. She won a gold medal in team competition and an individual silver medal in the vault. She was also a member of the American team at the 2011 World Championships where she won gold medals in the team and vault competitions and the 2013 World Championships where she defended her vault title and we frequently see her on TV jumping on a roof.

  • 1:27:48 Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): Our next witness Maggie Nichols led the University of Oklahoma women's gymnastics team to Team national championships in 2017 and 2019, also winning six individual titles. She represented the United States at the 2015 World Championships where she won a gold medal in team competition and a bronze medal on floor exercise. She also holds several USA Gymnastics national championship medals.

  • 1:28:15 Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): Finally, Aly Raisman, one of the most accomplished American gymnast of all time, two time Olympian, team captain of the 2012 and 2016 women's gymnastics team captured six Olympic and four World Championship medals, including an individual silver medal in the 2016 Olympic all around and gold medals in team competition in 2012 and 2016. A leader on and off the floor. Reisman uses her platform to advocate for abuse prevention and education.

  • 1:32:25 Simone Biles: USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee knew that I was abused by their official team doctor long before I was ever made aware of their knowledge. In May of 2015, Rhonda Faehn, the former head of USA Gymnastics women's program, was told by my friend and teammate, Maggie Nichols, that she suspected I, too was a victim. I didn't understand the magnitude of what was happening until the Indianapolis Star published its article in the fall of 2016, entitled, "former USA Gymnastics doctor accused of abuse." Yet while I was a member of the 2016 US Olympic team, neither USAG USOPC nor the FBI ever contacted me or my parents, while others had been informed and investigations were ongoing. I had been left to wonder why was not taught until after the Rio Games. This is the largest case of sexual abuse in the history of American sport. And although, there has been a fully independent investigation of the FBI his handling of the case, neither USAG nor USOPC have ever been made the subject of the same level of scrutiny. These are the entities entrusted with the protection of our sport and our athletes. And yet it feels like questions of responsibility and organizational failures remain unanswered.

  • 1:34:30 Simone Biles: We have been failed and we deserve answers. Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable. If they are not, I am convinced that this will continue to happen to others, across Olympic sports. In reviewing the OIGs report, it really feels like the FBI turned a blind eye to us and went out of its way to help protect USAG and USOPC. A message needs to be sent. If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe.

  • 1:37:00 McKayla Maroney: As most of you are probably aware, I was molested by the US Gymnastics National Team and Olympic Team doctor, Larry Nasser, and in actuality, he turned out to be more of a pedophile than he was a doctor. What I'm trying to bring to your attention today is something incredibly disturbing and illegal. After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the Summer of 2015, not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report, 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said. After reading the Office of Inspector General's OIG report, I was shocked and deeply disappointed at this narrative they chose to fabricate, they chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester, rather than protect not only me, but countless others. My story is one which Special Agent in Charge Jay Abbott and his subordinates did not want you to hear. And it's time that I tell you. In the summer of 2015, like I said, I was scheduled to speak to the FBI about my abuse with Larry Nasser over the phone. I was too sick to go meet with anyone in person. And talking about this abuse would give me PTSD for days. But I chose to speak about it to try and make a difference and protect others. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor for nearly three hours as I told them what happened to me. I hadn't even told my own mother about these facts. But I thought as uncomfortable and as hard as it was to tell my story, I was going to make a difference, and hopefully protecting others from the same abuse. I answered all of their questions honestly and clearly. And I disclosed all of my molestations I had entered by Nassar to them in extreme detail. They told me to start from the beginning. I told them about the sport of gymnastics, how you make the national team, and how I came to meet Larry Nassar when I was 13 at a Texas camp. I told him that the first thing Larry Nassar ever said to me was to change into shorts with no underwear, because that would make it easier for him to work on me. And within minutes, he had his fingers in my vagina. The FBI then immediately asked, Did he insert his fingers into your rectum? I said, No, he never did. They asked if he used gloves. I said no, he never did. They asked if this treatment ever helped me. I said no, it never did. This treatment was 100% abuse and never gave me any relief. I then told the FBI about Tokyo, the day he gave me a sleeping pill for the plane ride, to then work on me later that night. That evening, I was naked, completely alone with him on top of me molesting me for hours. I told them I thought I was going to die that night, because there was no way that he would let me go. But he did. I told them I walked the halls of a Tokyo hotel at 2am, at only 15 years old. I began crying at the memory over the phone. And there was just dead silence. I was so shocked at the agent's silence and disregard for my trauma. After that minute of silence he asked "Is that all?" Those words in itself was one of the worst moments of this entire process for me, to have my abuse be minimized and disregarded by the people who were supposed to protect me. Just to feel like my abuse was not enough. But the truth is my abuse was enough, and they wanted to cover it up. USA Gymnastics in concert with the FBI and the Olympic Committee or working together to conceal that Larry Nassar was a predator. I then proceeded to tell them about London, and how he'd signed me up last on his sheet so he could molest me for hours twice a day. I told them how he molested me right before I won my team gold medal. How he gave me presents, bought me caramel macchiatos and bread when I was hungry. I even sent them screenshots of Nassar's last text to me, which was "Michaela, I love how you see the world with rose colored glasses. I hope you continue to do so." This was very clear cookie cutter pedophilia and abuse. And this is important because I told the FBI all of this, and they chose to falsify my report and to not only minimize my abuse, but silence me yet again. I thought given the severity of the situation, they would act quickly for the sake of protecting other girls, but instead, it took them 14 months to report anything when Larry Nassar, in my opinion, should have been in jail that day.

  • 1:42:00 McKayla Maroney: According to the OIG report, about 14 months after I disclosed my abuse to the FBI, nearly a year and a half later, the FBI agent who interviewed me in 2015 decided to write down my statement, a statement that the OIG report determined to be materially false.

  • 1:42:33 McKayla Maroney: What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer?

  • 1:42:55 McKayla Maroney: What's even more upsetting to me is that we now we know that these FBI agents have committed an obvious crime. They falsified my statement, and that is illegal in itself. Yet no recourse has been taken against them. The Department of Justice refused to prosecute these individuals. Why? Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco couldn't even bring herself to be here today. And it is the Department of Justice's job to hold them accountable.

  • 1:43:25 McKayla Maroney: I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing, because my abuse was enough and we deserve justice. These individuals clearly violated policies and were negligent in executing their duties. And in doing so, more girls were abused by Larry Nasser for over a year. To not indict these agents is a disservice to me and my teammates. It is a disservice to the system which was built to protect all of us from abuse. It was a disservice to every victim who suffered needlessly at the hands of Larry Nassar after I spoke up. Why are public servants whose job is to protect getting away with this? This is not justice. Enough is enough. Today, I ask you all to hear my voice. I ask you please do all that is in your power to ensure that these individuals are held responsible and accountable for ignoring my initial report, for lying about my initial report, and for covering up for a child molester.

  • 1:44:30 McKayla Maroney: I would like to express my deep gratitude to the United States Senate, a very powerful institution, that from the very beginning has fought for us rather than against us.

  • 1:46:47 Maggie Nichols After I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics, my family and I were told by their former president, Steve Penny, to keep quiet and not say anything that could hurt the FBI investigation. We now know there was no real FBI investigation occurring. While my complaints with the FBI, Larry Nassar continued to abuse women and girls. During this time the FBI issued no search warrants and made no arrests. From the day I reported my molestation by Nassar, I was treated differently by USAG. Not only did the FBI fail to conduct a thorough investigation, but they also knew that USAG and the USOPC created a false narrative where Larry Nasser was allowed to retire with his reputation intact and returned to Michigan State University, thus allowing dozens of little girls to be molested. As the Inspector General's report details during this time period, FBI agents did not properly documented evidence failed to report proper authorities and the Special Agent in Charge was seeking to become the new director of security for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. A job opportunity raised by Steve Penny.

  • 1:51:20 Aly Raisman: In 2015, it was known that at least six national team athletes had been abused by Nassar. There was even one of the athletes that was abused on film. Given our abusers unfettered access to children, stopping him should have been a priority. Instead, the following occurred. The FBI failed to interview pertinent parties in a timely manner. It took over 14 months for the FBI to contact me, despite my many requests to be interviewed by them. The records establish that Steve Penney, FBI agent Jay Abbott, and their subordinates worked to conceal Nassar's crimes. Steve Penney arranged with the FBI to conduct my interview at the Olympic Training Center, where I was under the control and observation of USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. The day of my interview, Steve Penny flew to the Olympic Training Center, and he made sure I was aware he was there. I felt pressured by the FBI to consent to Nassar's plea deal. The agent diminish the significance of my abuse and it made me feel my criminal case wasn't worth pursuing. Special Agent in Charge of investigating Nassar met Steve penny for beers to discuss job opportunities in the Olympic movement. Another FBI agent work with Steve penny to determine jurisdiction without interviewing the survivors. I've watched multiple high ranking officials at USAG, USOPC and FBI resign or retire without explanation of how they may have contributed to the problem, some of whom were publicly thanked for their service and rewarded with severance or bonus money. My reports of abuse were not only buried by USAG USOPC, but they were also mishandled by federal law enforcement officers who failed to follow their most basic duties. The FBI and others within both USAG and USOPC knew that Nasser molested children and did nothing to restrict his access. Steve Penny and any USAG employee could have walked a few steps to file a report with the Indiana Child Protective Services since they shared the same building. Instead, they quietly allowed Nassar to slip out the side door knowingly allowing him to continue his “work” at MSU Sparrow hospital, a USAG Club, and even run for school board. Nassar found more than 100 new victims to molest. It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter.

  • 1:54:33 Aly Raisman: USAG and USOPC have a long history of enabling abuse by turning a blind eye. Both organizations knew of Nassar's abuse long before it became public. Although you wouldn't know that by reading their press releases, which would have you and their corporate sponsors believe that athletes safety comes first. We have called for a fully independent factual investigation for years now, because I and these women who sit before you know firsthand, these organizations and their public statements are not to be trusted. They claim they want accountability, but then seek to restrict which staff can be interviewed, which documents can be examined and claim attorney client privilege over and over again. The so called investigations these organizations orchestrated were not designed to provide the answers we so critically need. Why are we left to guess why USAG and USOPC deliberately ignored reported abuse? Was it to protect the value of the sponsorships? The LA 28 bid? their own jobs? to avoid criminal liability, perhaps. But why must we speculate when the facts are obtainable and the stakes are so high?

  • 1:56:04 Aly Raisman: Why would duly sworn federal law enforcement officers ignore reports of abuse by a doctor across state lines and country borders for a future job opportunity? Or whether additional incentives and pressures? Why must we speculate when the facts are obtainable and the stakes are so high

  • 1:57:00 Aly Raisman: Without knowing who knew what when, we cannot identify all enablers or determine whether they are still in positions of power. We just can't fix a problem we don't understand

  • 2:04:28 Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA): I Hope this isn't something so sensitive, you don't feel you can talk about it. But do you have any thoughts or inputs to share about SafeSport, the national nonprofit entity that has been tasked by Congress with handling allegations from amateur athletes?
    Aly Raisman: Yeah, I personally think safe sport is...I'm trying to be respectful here...I don't like safe sport. I hear from many survivors that they report their abuse and it's like playing hot potato where someone else kicks it over to somebody else, and they don't hear back for a really long time. I think a really big issue is that safe sport is funded by USA Gymnastics or the United States Olympic Committee. I'm not sure exactly what the correct terminology is. But if you're SafeSport and you are funded by the organization you're investigating, they're likely not going to do the right thing. And so I think that it needs to be completely separate. And I personally think SafeSport needs a lot of work. And I know from many survivors and you know, my mom has personally reported things to safesport, but we've followed up so many times, they say we can't help you or they either ignore us or pass it on to somebody else and the person they pass it on to says they kick it back to them. It's just a complete mess and the priority doesn't seem to be safety and well being of athletes. It seems to be protecting USA Gymnastics and doing everything to keep the PR good.

  • 2:10:15 Aly Raisman: Because the FBI made me feel like my abuse didn't count and it wasn't a big deal. And I remember sitting there with the FBI agent and him trying to convince me that it wasn't that bad. And it's taken me years of therapy to realize that my abuse was bad that it does matter.

  • 2:11:33 Simone Biles: Okay, one more to add -- we also want to see them, at least be federally prosecuted to the fullest extent because they need to be held accountable.

  • 3:03:54 FBI Director Christopher Wray: I want to be crystal clear, the actions and inaction of the FBI employees detailed in this report are totally unacceptable. These individuals betrayed the core duty that they have of protecting people. They failed to protect young women and girls from abuse. The work we do certainly is often complicated and uncertain, and we're never going to be perfect, but the kinds of fundamental errors that were made in this case in 2015 and 2016 should never have happened.

  • 3:06:37 FBI Director Christopher Wray: When I received the Inspector General's report and saw that the Supervisory Special Agent in Indianapolis had failed to carry out even the most basic parts of the job, I immediately made sure he was no longer performing the functions of a Special Agent, and I can now tell you that that individual no longer works for the FBI in any capacity.

  • 03:07:01 FBI Director Christopher Wray: As for the former Indianapolis specialists in charge, the descriptions of his behavior also reflect violations of the FBI, his long standing code of conduct and the ethical obligations for all FBI employees, especially senior officials. Now that individual has been gone for the Bureau for about three and a half years having retired in January of 2018. Before any review launched and I will say I will say it is extremely frustrating that we are left with little disciplinary recourse when people retire before their cases can be adjudicated.

  • 3:11:10 Inspector General Michael Horowitz: Let me briefly just summarize the results of our investigation. In July 2015, USA Gymnastics reported the sexual assault allegations against Nassar to the FBI Indianapolis field office. USA Gymnastics officials described graphic information that had been provided by Ms. Maroney, Ms. Nichols and Ms. Raisman, and informed the FBI that all three athletes were available to be interviewed. However, it wasn't until six weeks later, on September 2, that the Indianapolis office interviewed Ms. Maroney by telephone as you heard, and neither Ms. Nichols nor Ms. Raisman were ever interviewed by that office. Moreover, the Indianapolis office did not formally document its interview of Ms. Maroney at the time, or its July meeting with USA Gymnastics. The Office also didn't formally open an investigation or an assessment of the matter. Immediately following that September 2 interview, the Indianapolis office and local federal prosecutors concluded there was no venue in Indianapolis for the federal investigation. Both offices also had serious questions as to whether there was federal criminal jurisdiction, as opposed to state or local jurisdiction. Yet the Indianapolis Field Office didn't advise state or local authorities about the allegations and didn't take any actions to mitigate the risks to gymnast that Nassar was continuing to treat. Further, that office failed to transfer the case to the FBI office that actually might have had venue, despite informing USA Gymnastics that it had actually done so.

  • 3:12:45 Inspector General Michael Horowitz: After eight months of FBI inactivity, in May 2016, USA Gymnastics officials contacted the FBI Los Angeles field office to report the same allegations that they had provided to the Indianapolis office. Following this meeting, the LA office opened a federal investigation and undertook numerous investigative steps. But, critically, it didn't contact state or local authorities and it didn't take action to mitigate the ongoing threat presented by Nassar.

  • 3:13:13 Inspector General Michael Horowitz: It wasn't until August 2016 when Michigan State University Police, that police department, received a separate sexual assault complaint from another gymnast. And in September 2016, the next month, the MSU Police Department executed a court authorized search of Nassar's residence. Among other things, they seized devices containing over 30,000 images of child pornography.

  • 3:13:42 Inspector General Michael Horowitz: According to civil court documents, approximately 70 or more young athletes were allegedly sexually abused by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment between July 2015, when the FBI first received these allegations, until September 2016.

  • 3:14:00 Inspector General Michael Horowitz: We further found that when the FBI’s handling of the Nassar matter came under scrutiny in 2017 and 2018, Indianapolis officials provided inaccurate information to make it appear that they had actually been diligent in their follow-up efforts, and did so in part by blaming others. In addition, it resulted in the Indianapolis Supervisory Special Agent drafting a summary of his telephonic interview of Ms. Maroney from 2015. That summary included statements, as you heard from Ms. Maroney, that didn't accurately reflect what she had told them and could have actually jeopardized the criminal investigations by including false information that could have bolstered Nasser's defense. Further, we concluded that that agent made false testimony statements to the OIG in two interviews that we conducted.

  • 3:14:55 Inspector General Michael Horowitz: We also learned during our investigation that in the fall of 2015, the FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge, Jay Abbott, met with USA Gymnastics president, Steve Penny, at a bar and discussed a potential job opportunity with the US Olympic Committee. Thereafter, Abbott engaged with Penny about both his interest in the US Olympic Committee job and the Nassar investigation, while at the same time participating in Nassar investigation discussions at the FBI. Abbott applied for the US Olympic Committee position in 2017. But wasn't selected. We determined that Abbott's actions violated the FBI's clear conflicts of interest policy. We also found that Abbott made false statements to the OIG and my agents in two interviews that we conducted.

  • 3:19:21 FBI Director Christopher Wray: So we have something called CAFI's, which are Child Adolescent Forensic Interviewers. These are interviewers who are specially trained in the unique sensitivities of what it takes to interview people, victims, survivors of these kinds of crimes. And one of the reforms that we've put in place is to make crystal clear in policy that interviews of individuals like Miss Raisman should be conducted with those kinds of interviewers and they should not be conducted telephonically, they should be conducted in person wherever possible. That was true before, we've made it more clear now, and we're putting training in place --mandatory training.

  • 3:20:12 Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): General Horowitz, did any of the FBI employees or agents involved in this case deliberately misrepresent any facts to you and your investigation?
    Inspector General Michael Horowitz: They did. We found both that the person who wrote the report that Ms. Maroney testified about falsely testified to us about what he did in connection with that report, as well as other matters that we asked him about and Special Agent in Charge Abbott made false statements to us about the steps he took in 2015 when these allegations came in, but also about his job seeking efforts with the US Olympic Committee.
    Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): Do these deliberate misrepresentations reach the level of criminal violation?
    Inspector General Michael Horowitz: Well, we found that they violated criminal law sufficiently that in what we do at that point is make the referral to prosecutors to assess them because that's who needs to make the decision whether or not there will be charges brought.
    Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): Director Wray, what happened next?
    FBI Director Christopher Wray: Well, as inspector general Horowitz said, those were referred to the prosecutors over at the Justice Department and they're the ones that made the decision. As I understand it from Inspector General Horowitz's report the prosecutors at the Justice Department on two separate occasions, both in 2020 and then again in 2021, declined to prosecute, but I really would defer to the Justice Department for those.
    Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): Are you personally aware or professionally aware of any facts or circumstances that would lead to that decision?
    FBI Director Christopher Wray: I am not.

  • 3:22:49 FBI Director Christopher Wray: So there's a whole bunch of things we've done differently. First, we've accepted every single one of Inspector General Horowitz’s recommendations, and then some. We've already begun implementing all of those. We are strengthening policies, we're strengthening procedures. We're taking training, we're strengthening our systems, all building in double checked triple checks, safeguards, oversight, different ways of making sure that we cannot have as occurred here, in certain instances, a single point of failure. That's one of the lessons here that is just totally unacceptable. And so part of what's built in is a bunch of, as I said, double and triple, even quadruple checks to make sure that that doesn't happen, both in terms of how the initial reports are handled with the appropriate urgency, but also in terms of communication. One of the important recommendations from Inspector General Horowitz is reporting to state local law enforcement, as well as communications between field offices, transfers between field offices.

  • 3:31:20 FBI Director Christopher Wray: My understanding of the most senior individual involved, based on looking at the thorough and independent investigation that Inspector General Horowitz conducted, was that the most senior individual with knowledge and responsibility was the Special Agent in Charge in Indianapolis, Mr. Abbott.

  • 3:32:23 Inspector General Michael Horowitz: FBI policies don't require the level of detail and reporting to the headquarters unit that would, for example, put the responsibility directly on them to have notified state local authorities.

  • 3:56:55 Senator Chris Coons (D-DE): My impression from what she'd said, and what I've read is that their concern is that USA Gymnastics and the Olympic Committee have thrown a variety of roadblocks into a genuinely thorough investigation into whether there had or hadn't been previous incidents similar to Dr. Nassar, either in USA Gymnastics or within sports more broadly. It is hard to believe that this is the only time that there's been a failing of this scale. Given, Director Wray, when you just said about the 16,000 arrests, we all know that the horror of child sexual abuse is tragically far more widespread in this country and around the world than any of us would like to see. So first. Mr. Horwitz, do you think there is still a pressing need? And who would be the appropriate entity to conduct that? And what if any advice do you have for us on respecting her request to this committee?
    Inspector General Michael Horowitz: It's a great question, Senator Coons. And, frankly, as you indicated, the reason we can do a report like this and other reports that we've been able to do is because of the statutory authorities that we've been given by the Congress that make us independent. And by the way, picking up on something Miss Raisman said, which was very perceptive, about who is funding the oversight, as you know, back in 2008, we were given an independent budget line so that our budget is not coming from the Justice Department, but is being set by an independent appropriator. I don't know, as I sit here, frankly, what the oversight mechanisms are currently on USOC and the other entities. But actually, one of the things I did have a chance to talk with Senator Blumenthal about during the break was the importance of given what I'd heard from these gymnast's, the very issue you just mentioned, which is thinking about what is the right independent oversight mechanism of those bodies, which are not just private entities, right? These are organizations that have been sanctioned by Congress to oversee our US athletes, and they need strong oversight as well and I'm happy to work with you as well Senator, and the committee, in thinking about how to do that because we are seeing the IG (Inspector General) model replicated in many places, as you know, across the country, including many state and local entities.

  • 4:04:55 Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): What steps are you taking to ensure that the agents communicate allegations of sexual assault with local law enforcement?
    FBI Director Christopher Wray: So we've enhanced our policies and procedures on the specific issue of reporting sake and local law enforcement built in. Now they have to document it, which they didn't have to before. And that builds in, as inspector general Horowitz referred to, an ability to hold them accountable. They have to alert their supervisors. So there's a second set of eyes. So that would help. We've also enhanced our training to make clear that it's mandatory and that's regardless of whether there's some question about potential federal jurisdiction. We can continue to investigate if we there's federal jurisdiction, but we have to do, on a parallel track, report to the appropriate state and local or, in some cases, social services agencies as well.

  • 4:06:36 FBI Director Christopher Wray: So I appreciate the question. There are two pieces of this one. The Child Adolescent Forensic Interviewers (CAFIs), which again, is a very specific discipline that requires very specific sensitivities and skill sets. And we've changed our policies to reinforce the use of those interviewers for these kinds of cases. Second is our victim services division. And one of the things that we changed even before receiving inspector general Horowitz his report on my watch is to make clear that the victim services that we provide, which is a little bit different from the forensic interviewing part of it, but it's also very important to handling these survivors with the appropriate sensitivity, that that is triggered at any stage. There is not just a full investigation, but we're in when we're in the assessment or pre-assessment phase. It has to happen there too.

  • 4:07:42 FBI Director Christopher Wray: The scale of this kind of criminality in the country, as reflected by the 18,000 investigations that we've had over the past five years and the 16,000 arrests that we with our partners have made over the last five years, I think goes to your question about resources. And I can assure you that if the Congress were to see fit to give us more resources for those programs, they would immediately be able to be put to good use.

  • 4:12:15 Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CN): Jay Abbott lied to you. Why do you in the course of your investigation of his Miss Congo 18 United States Code 1001. People get prosecuted for making false statements when they applied to a bank, federally insured bank for a mortgage. And here is a federal agent, the former Special Agent in Charge of the Indianeapolis office making a material false statement to you. In your investigation, you refer that for criminal prosecution, did you not?
    Inspector General Michael Horowitz: That's correct.

  • 4:42:30 Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA): Could you please elaborate on the nature of the discussions between Mr. Abbott and Mr. Penny, regarding potential employment for Mr. Abbott at institutions associated with USA Gymnastics or the US Olympic Committee?
    Inspector General Michael Horowitz: I can. They began, as I mentioned in a discussion that they had when they met at a bar in 2015, where Mr. Penny and Mr. Abbott discussed a future job opening, Head of Security at the US Olympic Committee, that Mr. Penny expected to occur. That initial discussion led to Mr. Abbott's interest in the position. And then there are ongoing discussions between the two of them, as we outlined in the report, in emails that we've seen, where Mr. Abbott expresses his interest in the job. And equally troubling, acknowledges that it would be inappropriate for him and a conflict of interest for him to pursue the position because of the ongoing Nassar investigation. Yet, as we found in 2017, that is precisely what he did in applying for the job, which he was never ultimately interviewed for.
    Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA): And who initiated the discussion about employment prospects? Was that an opportunity dangled by Mr. Penny? Or was it solicited by Mr. Abbott?
    Inspector General Michael Horowitz: That was an opportunity mentioned first by Mr. Penny, because of his understanding that there might be a future retirement or an upcoming retirement at the US Olympic Committee.
    Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA): So just to be clear, Mr. Penny, the Chief Executive at USA Gymnastics, while there is an ongoing FBI inquiry into gross misconduct, criminal activity and sexual abuse by at least one USA Gymnastics employee, raises with the Special Agent in Charge at the field office that is steering this investigation, the prospect of potentially lucrative and prestigious employment at a parallel organization where Mr. Penny may have influence. Is that correct?
    Inspector General Michael Horowitz: That's correct. And at the same time, writing in emails for example, how he's looking for additional information about the Nassar investigation and events as they occur.

  • 4:46:06 Inspector General Michael Horowitz: The challenge on Mr. Abbott, with regard to the criminal issue here, which is 18 USC 208, which is the federal criminal statute is a, I think I mentioned this earlier, challenging one and that's being generous with speaking about how it's written to determine whether there was a criminal violation. The challenge here was, and I'm focused on the law here as to how 208 is because Mr. Abbott was looking for a job at the US Olympic Committee, and Mr. Penny was employed by the US Gymnastics Federation Association, two different entities, that situation is not clearly covered by 208. No matter how clear it would be to a layperson the interactions between those two entities.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Sep 27, 2021
CD238: Losing Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan is over. In this episode, we document how and why the Biden administration finally admitted defeat in our 20 year attempt to create a new government in Afghanistan and we take a hard look at the lessons we need to learn. Afghanistan is a country in a far away land, but there are disturbing similarities between the Afghanistan government that just collapsed and our own. We'd be wise not to ignore them.

Executive Producer: Rachel Passer

Executive Producer: Anonymous 

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD236: January 6: The Capitol Riot
CD218: Minerals are the New Oil
CD210: The Afghanistan War
CD124: The Costs of For-Profit War

How We Got Here

Craig Whitlock. The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War. Simon and Schuster, 2021.

Patrick Tucker. August 18, 2021. “Trump’s Pledge to Exit Afghanistan Was a Ruse, His Final SecDef Says.” Defense One.

Eugene Kiely and Robert Farley. August 17, 2021. “Timeline of U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

Eric Schmitt and Jennifer Steinhauer. July 30, 2021. “Afghan Visa Applicants Arrive in U.S. After Years of Waiting.” The New York Times.

Craig Whitlock, Leslie Shapiro and Armand Emamdjomeh. December 9, 2019. “The Afghanistan Papers: A secret history of the war.” The Washington Post.

Mark Landler and James Risen. July 25, 2017. “Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals.” The New York Times.

John F. Harris. October 15, 2001. “Bush Rejects Taliban Offer On Bin Laden ” Washington Post.

The Evacuation: Those Left Behind

William Mauldin. September 2, 2021. “Afghanistan Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Staff Left Behind.” Wall Street Journal.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Annie Karni. August 29, 2021. “Series of U.S. Actions Left Afghan Allies Frantic, Stranded and Eager to Get Out.” The York Times.

Sami Sadat. August 25, 2021. “I Commanded Afghan Troops This Year. We Were Betrayed.” The New York Times.

Marjorie Censer. August 18, 2021. “US contractors rush to get former employees out of Afghanistan.” Defense News.

Siobhan Hughes. August 18, 2021. “Afghanistan Veterans in Congress Trying to Prevent ‘a Death Warrant’ for Helping America.” Wall Street Journal.

Alex Sanz and Tammy Webber. August 18, 2021. “US friends try to rescue brother in arms in Afghanistan.” AP News.

Seth Moulton. June 04, 2021. "Moulton, Bipartisan Honoring Our Promises Working Group to White House: Evacuate our Afghan Partners.”

Contractors in Afghanistan

Matt Taibbi. August 18, 2021. “We Failed Afghanistan, Not the Other Way Around.” TK News by Matt Taibbi on Substack.

Jack Detsch. August 16, 2021. “Departure of Private Contractors Was a Turning Point in Afghan Military’s Collapse.” Foreign Policy.

Matt Stoller. July 15, 2021. “‘A Real S*** Show’: Soldiers Angrily Speak Out about Being Blocked from Repairing Equipment by Contractors.” BIG by Matt Stoller.

Lynzy Billing. May 12, 2021. “The U.S. Is Leaving Afghanistan? Tell That to the Contractors.” New York Magazine.

Oren Liebermann. March 29, 2021. “Pentagon could open itself to costly litigation from contractors if US pulls out of Afghanistan this year.” CNN.

Lucas Kunce and Elle Ekman. September 15, 2019. “Comment Submitted by Major Lucas Kunce and Captain Elle Ekman.” [

Aaron Mehta. Oct 25, 2016. “30 Years: William Perry — Reshaping the Industry.” Defense News.

Jared Serbu. August 22, 2016. “DoD now awarding more than half its contract spending without competitive bids.” Federal News Network.

41 U.S. Code § 3307 - Preference for commercial products and commercial services.

Money: Lost and Gained

David Moore. August 23, 2021. “Lawmakers Benefit From Booming Defense Stocks.” Sludge.

Lee Fang. August 20, 2021. “Congressman Seeking to Relaunch Afghan War Made Millions in Defense Contracting.” The Intercept.

Anna Massoglia and Julia Forrest. August 20, 2021. “Defense contractors spent big in Afghanistan before the U.S. left and the Taliban took control.”

Stephen Losey. April 16, 2021. “The Bill for the Afghanistan War Is $2.26 Trillion, and Still Rising.”

Eli Clifton. February 16, 2021. “Weapons Biz Bankrolls Experts Pushing to Keep U.S. Troops in Afghanistan.” Daily Beast.

Open Secrets. 2021. Defense: Lobbying, 2021.

Open Secrets. 2021. Defense: Money to Congress.


S.1790 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020

Sponsor: Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Status: Became Public Law No: 116-92 on December 20, 2019

H.R. 3237: Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021

Sponsor: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
Status: Signed into law, 2021

May 20 House Vote Breakdown
Congressional Budget Office Score

Law Outline




Sec. 401: Amends the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 to expand eligibility to include Afghans who worked not only for the US Government for more than 1 year but also our allies as an off-base interpreter or if they performed "activities for United States military stationed at International Security Assistance Force (or any successor name for such Force).

Increases the number of Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) to Afghan partners by 8,000, for a total of 34,500 allocated since December 19, 2014.

Sec. 402: Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security and Secretary of state to jointly waive for 1 year (maximum 2 years with an extension) the requirement that Afghan partners eligible for SIVs get a medical exam before they can receive their visa. The Secretary of Homeland Security has to create a process to make sure Afghan SIV holders get a medical exam within 30 days of entry into the United States.

Sec. 403: Allows the surviving spouse or child or employee of the United States Government abroad to be eligible for immigration into the United States if the employee worked for our government for at least 15 years or was killed in the line of duty. It also expands entry permissions for Afghan SIV applicants in addition to those who have already been approved. This is retroactive to June 30, 2021.

Policies for Visa Processing:

Audio Sources

Gen. Mark Milley: "There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days."

August 18, 2021

  • General Mark Milley: The time frame of rapid collapse that was widely estimated and ranged from weeks to months, and even years following our departure, there was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days. Central Command submitted a variety of plans that were briefed and approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense and the President. These plans were coordinated, synchronized and rehearsed to deal with these various scenarios. One of those contingencies is what we are executing right now. As I said before, there's plenty of time to do AARs(After Action Reviews) and key lessons learned and to delve into these questions with great detail. But right now is not that time. Right now, we have to focus on this mission, because we have soldiers at risk. And we also have American citizens and Afghans who supported us for 20 years also at risk. This is personal and we're going to get them out.

President Biden on Afghanistan Withdrawal


July 8, 2021

Sound Clips

  • 01:30 President Biden: When I announced our drawdown in April, I said we would be out by September, and we're on track to meet that target. Our military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on August 31. The drawdown is proceeding in a secure and orderly way, prioritizing the safety of our troops as they depart

  • 3:40 President Biden: Together with our NATO allies and partners, we have trained and equipped nearly 300,000 current serving members of the military, the Afghan national security force, and many beyond that are no longer serving. Add to that hundreds of thousands more Afghan national defense and security forces trained over the last two decades.

  • 04:04 President Biden: We provided our Afghan partners with all the tools, let me emphasize, all the tools -- training, equipment -- of any modern military. We provided advanced weaponry, and we're going to continue to provide funding and equipment and we'll ensure they have the capacity to maintain their Air Force.

  • 5:54 President Biden: We're also going to continue to make sure that we take on Afghan nationals who worked side by side with US forces, including interpreters and translators. Since we're no longer going to have military there after this, we're not going to need them and they'll have no jobs. We're [sic] also going to be vital to our efforts. they've been very vital, and so their families are not exposed to danger as well. We've already dramatically accelerated the procedure time for Special Immigrant Visas to bring them to the United States. Since I was inaugurated on January 20, we've already approved 2,500 Special Immigrant Visas to come to the United States. Up to now, fewer than half have exercised the right to do that. Half have gotten on aircraft and come commercial flights and come and other half believe they want to stay, at least thus far. We're working closely with Congress to change the authorization legislation so that we can streamline the process of approving those visas. And those who have stood up for the operation to physically relocate 1000s of Afghans and their families before the US military mission concludes so that, if they choose, they can wait safely outside of Afghanistan, while their US visas are being processed.

  • 8:13 President Biden: For those who have argued that we should stay just six more months, or just one more year, I asked them to consider the lessons of recent history. In 2011, the NATO allies and partners agreed that we would end our combat mission in 2014. In 2014, some argued one more year. So we kept fighting. We kept taking casualties. In 2015, the same, and on and on. Nearly 20 years of experience has shown us that the current security situation only confirms that just one more year of fighting in Afghanistan is not a solution, but a recipe for being there indefinitely. It's up to the Afghans to make the decision about the future of their country. Others are more direct. Their argument is that we should stay with the Afghans and Afghanistan indefinitely. In doing so they point to the fact that we we have not taken losses in this last year. So they claim that the cost of just maintaining the status quo is minimal.

  • 9:19 President Biden: But that ignores the reality, and the facts that already presented on the ground in Afghanistan when I took office. The Taliban is at its strongest militarily since 2001. The number of US forces in Afghanistan had been reduced to a bare minimum. And the United States and the last administration made an agreement that they have to with the Taliban remove all our forces by May 1 of this year. That's what I inherited. That agreement was the reason the Taliban had ceased major attacks against US forces.

  • 9:55 President Biden: If in April, I had instead announced that the United States was going to go back on that agreement, made by the last administration, the United States and allied forces will remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, the Taliban would have again begun to target our forces. The status quo was not an option. Staying would have meant US troops taking casualties, American men and women back in the middle of a civil war, and we would run the risk of having to send more troops back in Afghanistan to defend our remaining troops. Once that agreement with the Taliban had been made, staying with a bare minimum force was no longer possible.

  • 10:34 President Biden: So let me ask those who want us to stay: how many more? How many 1000s more Americans' daughters and sons are you willing to risk? How long would you have them stay? Already we have members of our military whose parents fought in Afghanistan 20 years ago. Would you send their children and their grandchildren as well? Would you send your own son or daughter? After 20 years, a trillion dollars spent training and equipping hundreds of 1000s of Afghan National Security and Defence Forces. 2,448 Americans killed, 20,722 more wounded, and untold 1000s coming home with unseen trauma to their mental health. I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome.

  • 11:51 President Biden: Today the terrorist threat has metastasized beyond Afghanistan. So, we are repositioning our resources and adapting our counterterrorism posture to meet the threats where they are now: significantly higher in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

  • 12:07 President Biden: But make no mistake, our military and intelligence leaders are confident they have the capabilities to protect the homeland and our interests from any resurgent terrorist challenge emerging or emanating from Afghanistan. We're developing a counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed at any direct threat to the United States in the region and act quickly and decisively if needed.

  • 12:38 President Biden: We also need to focus on shoring up America's core strengths to meet the strategic competition competition with China and other nations that is really going to determine our future.

  • 14:58 Reporter: Is the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?
    President Biden: No. It is not. Because you have the Afghan troops, 300,000. Well equipped, as well equipped as any army in the world, and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.

  • 15:45 President Biden: Do I trust the Taliban? No, but I trust the capacity of the Afghan military who is better trained, better equipped, and more competent in terms of conducting war.

  • 18:07 Reporter: Your own intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government will likely collapse
    President Biden: That is not true

  • 18:53 President Biden: And I want to make clear what I made clear to Ghani, that we are not going to walk away and not sustain their ability to maintain that force. We are. We're going to also work to make sure we help them in terms of everything from food necessities and other things in the region. But there is not a conclusion that in fact, they cannot defeat the Taliban. I believe the only way there's going to be -- this is now Joe Biden, not the intelligence community -- the only way there's only going to be peace and secure in Afghanistan, is that they work out a modus vivendi with the Taliban, and they make a judgement as to how they can make peace. And the likelihood there's going to be one unified government in Afghanistan, controlling the whole country is highly unlikely.

  • 21:30 Reporter: Mr. President, how serious was the corruption among the Afghanistan government to this mission failing there?
    President Biden: First of all, the mission hasn't failed yet.

  • 22:00 President Biden: There were going to be negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan national security forces, and the Afghan government that didn't come to fruition. So the question now is where do they go from here? The jury is still out, but the likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.

  • 23:20 Reporter: Mr. President, "speed is safety," as you just said in your remarks. Are you satisfied with the timeline of relocating Afghan nationals? Is it happening quickly enough to your satisfaction if it may not happen until next month at the end?
    President Biden: It has already happened, there have already been people, about 1000 people have gotten on aircraft and come to the United States already on commercial aircraft. So as I said, there's over 2500 people, that as from January to now, have have gotten those visas and only half decided that they wanted to leave. The point is that I think the whole process has to be speeded up -- period -- in terms of being able to get these visas.
    Reporter: Why can't the US evacuate these Afghan translators to the United States to await their visa processing as some immigrants of the southern border have been allowed to?
    President Biden: Because the law doesn't allow that to happen. And that's why we're asking the Congress to consider changing the law.

President Biden Remarks on Afghanistan Strategy


April 14, 2021

Sound Clips

  • 00:38 President Biden: I'm speaking to you today from the Roosevelt -- the Treaty room in the White House -- the same spot where in October of 2001, President George W. Bush informed our nation that the United States military had begun strikes on terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. It was just weeks, just weeks after the terrorist attack on our nation that killed 2,977 innocent souls, that turned Lower Manhattan into a disaster area, destroyed parts of the Pentagon and made hallowed ground in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and sparked an American promise that we would never forget. We went to Afghanistan in 2001, to root out al Qaeda to prevent future terrorist attacks against the United States planned from Afghanistan. Our objective was clear, the cause was just, our NATO allies and partners rallied beside us. And I supported that military action along with the overwhelming majority of the members of Congress. More than seven years later, in 2008 weeks before we swore the oath of office -- President Obama and I were about to swear -- President Obama asked me to travel to Afghanistan and report back on the state of the war in Afghanistan. I flew to Afghanistan to the Kunar Valley, a rugged, mountainous region on the border of Pakistan. What I saw on that trip reinforced my conviction that only the Afghans have the right and responsibility to lead their country. And that more and endless American military force could not create or sustain a durable Afghan Government. I believed that our presence in Afghanistan should be focused on the reason we went in the first place: to ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again. We did that, we accomplished that objective. I said, along with others, we would follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell if need be. That's exactly what we did. And we got him. It took us close to 10 years to put President Obama's commitment into form. And that's exactly what happened Osama bin Laden was gone. That was 10 years ago. Think about that. We delivered justice to Bin Laden a decade ago. And we've stayed in Afghanistan for a decade since. Since then, our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan have become increasingly unclear, even as the terrorist threat that we went to fight evolved. Over the past 20 years, the threat has become more dispersed, metastasizing around the globe. Al Shabaab in Somalia, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, on Al Nusra in Syria, ISIS attempting to create a caliphate in Syria and Iraq and establishing affiliates in multiple countries in Africa and Asia. With the terror threat now in many places, keeping 1000s of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country at a cost of billions each year makes little sense to me and our leaders. We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdraw and expecting a different result. I'm now the fourth United States President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan: two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth. After consulting closely with our allies and partners, with our military leaders and intelligence personnel, with our diplomats and our development experts, with the Congress and the Vice President, as well as with Mr. Ghani and many others around the world. I concluded that it's time to end America's longest war. It's time for American troops to come home.

  • 5:01 President Biden: When I came to office, I inherited a diplomatic agreement, duly negotiated between the government of the United States and the Taliban, that all US forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1 2021, just three months after my inauguration. That's what we inherited. That commitment is perhaps not what I would have negotiated myself, but it was an agreement made by the United States government. And that means something. So in keeping with that agreement, and with our national interest, the United States will begin our final withdrawal beginning on May 1 of this year.

  • 8:11 President Biden: You all know that less than 1% of Americans serve in our Armed Forces. The remaining 99%, we owe them. We owe them. They've never backed down from a single mission that we've asked of them. I've witnessed their bravery firsthand during my visits to Afghanistan. They've never wavered in their resolve. They paid a tremendous price on our behalf and they have the thanks of a grateful nation.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) High-Risk List

Center for Strategic and International Studies


March 10, 2021


  • John Sopko - Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

Sound Clips

  • 7:40 John Sopko: But right now, that state is under threat. In the wake of the February 2020 withdrawal agreement, all is not well. Compromise appears in short supply on either side. Taliban attacks have actually increased since the agreement was signed. Assassination of prominent officials, activists, journalists, aid workers and others have also increased, including an unsuccessful attack on one of the female members of the peace negotiating team. And the Taliban offensive on Kandahar city last October, as peace negotiations were ongoing, may well have succeeded, were it not for U.S. air support. Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have achieved little for Afghanistan so far, and only time will tell as to whether the new Biden administration initiative will bear fruit. And the Afghan people's fears for its own government survival are exacerbated by the knowledge of how dependent their country is on foreign military and financial support.
  • 12:56 John Sopko: Another equally serious threat to Afghanistan’s stability has also largely been ignored as we focus on the boots on the ground in Afghanistan. And that is the provision of last year's U.S.-Taliban agreement that stipulates that in addition to the departure of U.S. and coalition troops, or non-diplomatic civilian personnel: private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and supporting service personnel also must leave the country by May 1. Should this come to passSIGAR and many others believe this may be more devastating to the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces than the withdrawal of our remaining troops. Why is that? Because the Afghan government relies heavily on these foreign contractors and trainers to function. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 there are over 18,000 Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan, including 6000 Americans, and 7,000 3rd country nationals, 40% of whom are responsible for logistics, maintenance, or training tasks. Now, it is well known that the Afghan security forces need these contractors to maintain their equipment, manage supply chains, and train their military and police to operate the advanced equipment that we have purchased for them. For example, as of December, the Afghan National Army was completing just under 20% of its own maintenance work orders, well below the goal of 80% that was set and the 51% that they did in 2018. So that's actually going down. The Afghan National Police were just as bad if not worse, undertaking only 12% of their own maintenance work against a target of 35% and less than the 16% that we reported in our 2019 high risk list. Additionally, and more troubling. The Department of Defense does train, advise and assist command air, or commonly called TAC air recently reported that since late 2019, they have reduced their personnel in Afghanistan by 94%, and that the military drawdown now requires near total use of contract support to maintain the Afghan Air fleet. They assess that quote “further drawdown in the associated closure basis will effectively end all in country aviation training contracts in Afghanistan.” Again, why is this significant? Why do we view this as a high risk? Namely because contractors currently provide 100% of the maintenance for the Afghan Air Force, UAE 60 helicopters and CE 130 cargo aircraft and a significant portion of Afghans Light Combat Support aircraft. TAC air this January gave a bleak assessment, namely, that no Afghan airframe can be sustained as combat effective for more than a few months in the absence of contractor support.

  • 17:51 John Sopko: Continued funding for U.S. reconstruction programs aimed at promoting economic development, rule of law, respect for human rights, good governance and security for the Afghan people may be more significant, because it may be the primary lever left for the US and other donors to influence that country. It appears that even the Taliban understand Afghanistan's dire need for foreign assistance. Because, as one of the few commitments that the US had to make last year was, “to seek economic cooperation for reconstruction, with the new post settlement, Afghan Islamic government.” Now how much the donor community wishes to stay involved will of course depend on what that government looks like and how it behaves. Numerous officials, including then Secretary of State Pompeo and Ambassador Halley, have stated that the US will be able to advance its human rights goals, including the rights of women and girls with the Taliban by leveraging or conditioning this much needed financial assistance. But unfortunately, as SIGAR has long reported, even when conditionality involved only dealing with the Afghan government, donors do not have a stellar record of successfully utilizing that conditionality to influence Afghan behavior.

  • 27:19 John Sopko: Today our report suggests the donor community should realize the Afghan government is focused on a single goal, its survival. Afghanistan is more dependent on international support than ever before. It may not be an overstatement that if foreign assistance is withdrawn and peace negotiations fail, Taliban forces could be at the gates of Kabul in short order.


House Committee on Oversight and Reform: Subcommittee on National Security

February 19, 2021

Testimony was heard from the following Afghanistan Study Group officials:

Sound Clips

  • 3:13 Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA): I'd also like to take a moment to thank the nonpartisan US Institute of Peace for the support and expertise they provided to the study group during the course of its work.

  • 3:23 Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA): In the fiscal year 2020 omnibus bill Congress led by Senator Graham Senator Patrick Leahy and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee of state foreign ops and related programs. They tasked the independent and bipartisan Afghanistan study group to quote, consider the implications of a peace settlement or the failure to reach a settlement on US policy, resources and commitments in Afghanistan. After nearly nine months of review and consultation with current and former US and Afghan government officials, allies and partners and other key stakeholders, the Afghanistan study group issued its final report earlier this month.

  • 15:12 Kelly Ayotte: We recommend that US troops remain beyond may 1. We believe a precipitous withdrawal of US and international troops in May, would be catastrophic for Afghanistan, leading to civil war, and allow the reconstitution of terror groups which threaten the United States within an 18 to 36 month period.

  • 15:41 Kelly Ayotte: Let me be clear, although we recommend that our troops remain beyond may 1, we propose a new approach toward Afghanistan, which aligns our policies, practices and messaging across the United States government to support the Afghan peace process, rather than prosecute a war. Our troops would remain not to fight a forever war, but to guarantee the conditions for a successful peace process and to protect our national security interests to ensure that Afghanistan does not become a haven again, for terrorists who threaten the United States of America.

  • 37:15 General Joseph F. Dunford: Do we need to increase forces if the Taliban don't accept an extension past the first of May, and if they then would re initiate attacks against US forces? and Chairman, we heard exactly what you heard. In the fall. What we were told by commanders on the ground in the department of fence was that 4500 US forces, in addition to the NATO forces that are there was the minimum level to address both the mission as well as protection of our forces in the context of the conditions that existed in the fall in as you've highlighted, those conditions have only gotten worse since the fall so in in our judgment 2500 would not be adequate. Should the Taliban re initiate attacks against the United States

Hearing: Examining the Trump Administration’s Afghanistan Strategy

House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Subcommittee on National Security

January 28, 2020


  • John Sopko - Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)

Sound Clips

  • 48:54 John Sopko: We've almost created a system that forces people in the government to give happy talk success stories because they're over there on very short rotations. They want to show success. The whole system is almost geared to give you, and it goes up the chain of command, all the way to the President sometimes. He gets bad information from people out in the field because somebody on a nine month rotation, he has to show success, and that goes up.

  • 54:24 John Sopko: Maybe incentivize honesty. And one of the proposals I gave at that time,be cause I was asked by the staff to come up with proposals, is put the same requirement on the government that we impose on publicly traded corporations. Publicly traded corporations have to tell the truth. Otherwise the SEC will indict the people involved. They have to report when there's a significant event. So put that onus, call it The Truth in Government Act if you want, that you in the administration are duty bound by statute to alert Congress to significant events that could directly negatively impact a program or process. So incentivize honesty.

  • 1:10:25 John Sopko: Over 70% of the Afghan budget comes from the United States and the donors. If that money ended, I have said before and I will stand by it, then the Afghan government will probably collapse.

Wartime Contracting

Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

September 21, 2011


  • Charles Tiefer: Commissioner on the Commission on Wartime Contracting
  • Clark Kent Ervin: Commissioner on the Commission on Wartime Contracting

Sound Clips

  • 1:11:30 Charles Tiefer: Our private security in Afghanistan appears to be a major source of payoffs to the Taliban. Our report has the first official statement that it’s the second-largest source of money for the Taliban. Sen. Carl Levin: After drugs. Charles Tiefer: After drugs, that’s right.

  • 1:25:18 Clark Kent Ervin: It’s critical that the government have a choice, and that means that there needs to be at least a small and expandable, organic capacity on the part of these three agencies to perform missions themselves, so the next time there’s a contingency, the government has a choice between going with contractors and going in-house and the determination can be made whether it’s more effective to do it either way, whether it’s cheaper to do it either way. As we said at the inception, right now the government doesn’t have an option. Contractors are the default option because they’re the only option.

President George W. Bush announces U.S. Military Strikes on Afghanistan

October 7, 2001

  • President George W. Bush: Good afternoon. On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against Al-Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime. More than two weeks ago, I gave Taliban leaders a series of clear and specific demands: close terrorist training camps, hand over leaders of the Al-Qaeda network, and return all foreign nationals including American citizens unjustly detained in your country. None of these demands were met and now the Taliban will pay a price by destroying camps and disrupting communications. We will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans. **

International Campaign Against Terrorism

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

October 25, 2001


  • Colin Powell: Secretary of State

Sound Clip

  • 27:00 Colin Powell: Our work in Afghanistan though, is not just of a military nature. We recognize that when the Al Qaeda organization has been destroyed in Afghanistan, and as we continue to try to destroy it in all the nations in which it exists around the world, and when the Taliban regime has gone to its final reward, we need to put in place a new government in Afghanistan, one that represents all the people of Afghanistan and one that is not dominated by any single powerful neighbor, but instead is dominated by the will of the people of Afghanistan.

Executive Producer Recommendations

Elect Stephanie Gallardo 2022

Krystal Kyle and Friends. August 21, 2021. “Episode 35 Audio with Matthew Hoh.”

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Sep 13, 2021
CD237: Hunting Domestic Terrorists

In the aftermath of January 6th, Congress passed a "Capitol Security" law and is considering other measures to deal with "domestic terrorists". In this episode, after we examine the new law, we take a look at the domestic terrorism related bills making their way through Congress, we analyze the laws already on the books which allow way too many Americans to be branded as "domestic terrorist" suspects, and we take a close look at the Biden administrations disturbing plans for investigating, preventing, and prosecuting American citizens for crimes they haven't committed yet.

Executive Producer: Christopher Grizzle

Executive Producer: Jose Huerta

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD236: January 6: The Capitol Riot

CD235: The Safe Haven of Sanctions Evaders

CD228: The Second Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump

CD224: Social Media Censorship

Domestic Terrorism Policy and Strategy

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. August 13, 2021. “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin”.

U.S. National Security Council. June 2021. National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism. The White House.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. May 11, 2021. “DHS Creates New Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships and Additional Efforts to Comprehensively Combat Domestic Violent Extremism”.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. September 19, 2019. "Fusion Centers."

"John D. Cohen: Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention Policy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security." No date. U.S. House of Representatives Document Repository.

John Cohen LinkedIn profile

U.S. Department of Defense Security Cooperation Agency. No date. "Humanitarian Assistance".

Perspectives on the "Domestic War on Terror"

Branko Marcetic. July 28, 2021. “The FBI’s Domestic 'War on Terror' Is an Authoritarian Power Grab.” Jacobin.

Ken Bensinger and Jessica Garrison. July 20, 2021. "Watching the Watchmen." BuzzFeed News.

Harsha Panduranga. June 21, 2021. “Why Biden’s Strategy for Preventing Domestic Terrorism Could Do More Harm Than Good.” Los Angeles Times.

Glenn Greenwald. June 2, 2021. “The New Domestic War on Terror Has Already Begun -- Even Without the New Laws Biden Wants.” Glenn Greenwald Substack.

Faiza Patel. February 16, 2021. "We Don’t Need More Terrorism Laws After the Capitol Riot. Just Look At Our 9/11 Mistakes." Brennan Center for Justice.

January 6 Capitol Riot Aftermath

Natalia Gurevich. August 24, 2021. “After Jan. 6 attack, US Capitol Police choose San Francisco for new field office.” KCBS Radio.

Barbara Sprunt. July 27, 2021. “Here Are The 9 Lawmakers Investigating The Jan. 6 Capitol Attack.” NPR.

Glenn Greenwald. July 8, 2021. "The Capitol Police, Armed With $2 Billion in New Funding, Expanding Operations Outside of D.C." Glenn Greenwald Substack.

United States Capitol Police. July 6, 2021. “After the Attack: The Future of the U.S. Capitol Police.”

Lexi Lonas. June 30, 2021. "Nearly 70 House lawmakers ask leadership to reimburse National Guard for Jan. 6 response.” The Hill.

Jacob Pramuk. May 20, 2021. "House passes $1.9 billion Capitol security bill that faces Senate roadblocks." CNBC.

Corporate and Government Partnerships

Rachael Levy. August 15, 2021. “Homeland Security Considers Outside Firms to Analyze Social Media After Jan. 6 Failure."

Anti-Defamation League. July 26, 2021. “PayPal Partners with ADL to Fight Extremism and Protect Marginalized Communities.”

Danny O'Brien and Rainey Reitman. December 14, 2020. “Visa and Mastercard are Trying to Dictate What You Can Watch on Pornhub.” Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Gillian Friedman. December 10, 2020. “Mastercard and Visa stop allowing their cards to be used on Pornhub.” New York Times.

Shannon Souza. October 12, 2020. “Credit and Debit Card Market Share by Network and Issuer.” The Ascent: A Motley Fool Service.

New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Christchurch Call.

“Anti-Defamation League.” Last edited March 30, 2012. SourceWatch.

Valens Global. "Who We Are."


H.R. 3237: Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (Capitol Police Funding)

Sponsor: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)

Status: Signed into law, 2021

May 20 House Vote Breakdown
Congressional Budget Office Score

Law Outline


Emergency funding appropriated...

  • $600 million for the National Guard
  • $500 million for the "Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid" account


Emergency funding appropriated...

  • $25 million for Refugee and Entrant Assistance for Afghans



Emergency funding appropriated...

  • $11.6 million for the House of Representatives for coronavirus related expenses.
  • $ 8 million for the Senate Sergeant at Arms for coronavirus related expenses
  • $346 thousand for the families of late members of Congress Ronald Wright and Alcee Hastings.

Emergency funding appropriated...

  • $37.5 million for "Salaries" account for January 6 related expenses

    • $3.6 million is for retention bonuses
    • $6.9 million for hazard pay
    • $1.4 million for a wellness program for the Capitol Police officers
  • $33 million for "General Expenses" account for January 6 related expenses

    • At least $5 million must be spent on "reimbursable agreements with State and local law enforcement agencies"
    • At least $4.8 million for protective details for Congress
    • $2.6 million for physical protection barriers and other civil disturbance unit equipment
    • $2.5 million to the US Marshalls Service for providing counseling to Capitol Police officers.
    • $800,000 for coronavirus expenses
  • $35.4 million for mutual aid and training

    • $9 million for payments to other local law enforcement partners who responded on January 6
    • Leaves $25 million for Capitol Police training

Emergency funding appropriated...

  • $22 million for coronavirus expenses

Emergency funding appropriated to the Capitol Police and Architect of the Capitol Police...

  • $300 million to repair January 6th damage
    • $281 million for windows, doors, and enhances physical security
    • $17 million for security cameras

Sec. 310: No Permanent Fencing

  • No funds now or in the future can be used to install "permanent, above ground fencing around the perimeter, or any portion thereof, of the United States Capitol Grounds.



Emergency funding appropriated...

  • $100 million for "humanitarian needs in Afghanistan and to assist Afghan refugees"
  • $500 million for the "United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund"

Extension and Modification of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program (See episode CD238)



Emergency funding appropriated...

  • $1.1 million for reimbursements for protecting Joe Biden between his election and inauguration


Sponsor: James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI)

Status: Signed into law, 2001


S. 1896: Algorithmic Justice and Online Platform Transparency Act

Sponsor: Doris Matsui (D-CA)

Status: Introduced, May 28, 2021

S. 937: COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

Sponsor: Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

Status: Enacted, March 23, 2021

H.Res. 272: Calling for the designation of Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization

Sponsor: Lauren Boebert (R-CO)

Status: Introduced to the House, March 26, 2021

S. 963: Domestic Terrorism and Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Sponsor: Richard Durbin (D-IL) Status: Sent to the Senate for consideration March 25, 2021

S. 964: Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021

Sponsor: Richard Durbin (D-IL)

Status: Introduced, March 24, 2021

H.R. 657: District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act

Sponsor: Eleanor Norton (D-DC) Status: Introduced, February 1, 2021

S. 130: District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act

Sponsor: Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Status: Introduced January 28, 2021

H.R. 350: Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021

Sponsor: Brad Schneider (D-IL)

Status: Introduced January 19, 2021

H.R. 4192: Confronting the Threat of Domestic Terrorism Act

Sponsor: Adam Schiff (D-CA)

Status: Died in 116th Congress

The Hearings

Resources and Authorities Needed to Protect and Secure the Homeland

Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
July 27, 2021

Testimony heard from Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security

37:00 DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas: Domestic terrorism is the most lethal and persistent terrorism related threat to the United States today. That is why we are requesting $131 million to support innovative methods to prevent domestic terrorism, while respecting privacy, civil rights and civil liberties.

2:27:00 Sen. Jon Ossoff (GA): According to DHS, FBI data from 2015 to 2019, 65 Americans were tragically killed in domestic terrorist attacks. And I want to put that in context by referring to CDC homicide data over the same period of 2015 to 2019. 94,636 Americans killed by homicide over that same period.

2:27:15 Sen. Jon Ossoff (GA): What leads you to the conclusion that the level of threat from domestic violent extremists and the level of threat posed by potential domestic terrorists has risen to the extent that it justifies this bureaucratic focus and this budgetary focus you've requested, for example, resources to establish a new dedicated domestic terrorism branch within DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

2:28:00 DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas: What we see is an increasing amount of social media traffic that is based on ideologies of hate, and extremism, false narratives, and an increasing connectivity to violence - intention to commit violent acts. And so that is what causes us to conclude that this is the greatest terrorist related threat that we face in our homeland today.

2:28:15 DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas: What we seek to do is more effectively disseminate what we learn about those trends - mindful of rights of privacy and civil rights and civil liberties - disseminate that information to our state, local, tribal, territorial partners on the one hand, and importantly, to equip local communities, to empower them to address the threat in their own neighborhoods.

Terrorism and Digital Financing: How Technology is Changing the Threat

House Committee on Homeland Security: Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism
July 22, 2021

Testimony was heard from the following Department of Homeland Security officials:

3:15 Rep. Elise Slotkin (MI): Some of the online platforms and online tech allow easy access for thousands, if not millions of users to donate money through online campaigns. For example, crowdfunding through PayPal, GoFundMe, and Amazon have become popular ways in recent years for extremist groups to raise money. To put this in context, according to the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, from about 2005 to 2015, just about every extremist group they tracked featured a PayPal button on their website. Now, even though PayPal and other payment processing platforms became aware of the issue and began to ban extremists from their flat platforms, which is a great first step, these groups have persevered and maintained a strong online presence.

5:00 Rep. Elise Slotkin (MI): But just as nefarious groups have changed their fundraising tactics after crackdowns by payment processors like PayPal, when law enforcement begins following and cracking down on illicit Bitcoin use, terrorist fundraisers advise supporters to use other cryptocurrencies to avoid detection. This was the case of a pro ISIS website that requested its supporters send money via Monero, another cryptocurrency instead of Bitcoin because of its privacy and safety features.

6:00 Rep. Elise Slotkin (MI): But we know we have an uphill battle. Our subcommittee really stands ready to help the department with what you need. If you need changes to legislation, if you need resources, we want to hear more from you, not less.

56:55 Rep. Tom Malinowski (NJ): I hear the phrase that it enables the democratization of currency. And every time someone says we're democratizing something, it kind of ends the conversation. That's sort of good. I don't really understand what that means in this context. I think it's an abstraction, whereas ransomware attacks are not an abstraction. They're hurting people, every single day. So I'm not sure if I see it. And I think we do need to expand this conversation to ask that fundamental question, whether the challenges that you are facing - that we are asking you to deal with - in protecting us against all of these social ills, are challenges that are necessary, inescapable and inevitable. And I think we have to ask, what is the good? What is the positive social value of this phenomenon that is also creating all of this harm? And you know, I think when you look at the history of how we built modern economies in the United States and around the world, we started three or 400 years ago with multiple currencies that were unregulated and not controlled by governments and in every modern economy, we built what we have today when government decided no, we're going to have one currency that is issued and regulated by government. And I think I could ask you - we don't have time - how we can better regulate cryptocurrency, but I think if we regulated it, it wouldn't be crypto anymore. And so what would be the point? So I come back to the question, should this be allowed? Thank you. I yield back.

Examining the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, Part II

Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Committee on Rules and Administration
March 3, 2021
Hearing on C-SPAN Day II, Part I Hearing on C-SPAN Day II, Part II

Testimony was heard from:

  • Robert Salesses, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense and Global Security at the U.S. Department of Defense
  • Major General William Walker, Commanding General of the DC National Guard
  • Jill Sanborn, Assistant Director, Counterterrorism Division Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice

06:42 Sen. Gary Peters (MI): But the January 6 attack must mark a turning point. There can be no question that the domestic terrorist threat and concluding violence driven by white supremacy and anti-government groups is the gravest terrorist threat to our homeland security. Moving forward, the FBI, which is tasked with leading our counterterrorism efforts, and the Department of Homeland Security, which ensures that state and local law enforcement understands the threats that American communities face must address this deadly threat with the same focus and resources and analytical rigor that they apply to foreign threats such as ISIS and Al Qaeda.

State and Local Responses to Domestic Terrorism: The Attack on the U.S. Capitol and Beyond

House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism
March 24, 2021

Testimony was heard from:

  • Dana Nessel, Attorney General, Michigan
  • Aaron Ford, Attorney General, Nevada
  • John Chisholm, District Attorney, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

07:19 Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI): The post 9/11 era of security where the threats come from abroad is over. In the 20 years of the post 9/11 era, they came to an end on January 6th, the new reality is that we have to come to terms with is that it's our extremists here at home, seeking to explain internal divisions that pose the greatest threat.

Dollars Against Democracy: Domestic Terrorist Financing in the Aftermath of Insurrection

House Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy
February 25, 2021

Testimony was heard from:

  • Iman Boukadoum, Senior Manager, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Lecia Brooks, Executive Director, Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Daniel Glaser
    • Global Head Jurisdictional Services and Head of Washington, DC Office at K2 Integrity
    • Senior Advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
    • Board member at the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority
    • Former Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • Daniel Rogers Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer at Global Disinformation Index
  • Daveed Gertenstein-Ross, CEO of Valens Global

03:28 Rep. Jim Himes (CT): In the wake of the attacks of September 11th, we recast the entire federal government and worked feverishly to defund terrorist streams. To effectively disrupt domestic extremist groups, we need to better understand their financing.

23:11 Daniel Glaser: Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to talk about how the US government can employ similar tools and strategies against white nationalists and other domestic terrorist groups as it has employed against global jihadist groups over the past two decades.

27:42 Daniel Glaser: Potential measures in Treasury's toolbox include the issuance of guidance to financial institutions on financial type policies, methodologies and red flags, the establishment of public private partnerships, the use of information sharing authorities, and the use of geographic targeting orders. Taken together these measures will strengthen the ability of financial institutions to identify, report and impede the financial activity of domestic extremist groups and will ensure that the US financial system is a hostile environment for these groups.

30:10 Daniel Rogers: These groups leverage the Internet as a primary means of disseminating their toxic ideologies and soliciting funds. One only needs to search Amazon or Etsy for the term q anon to uncover shirts, hats, mugs, books and other paraphernalia that both monetize and further popularize the domestic violent extremist threat. Images from that fateful day last month are rife with sweatshirts that say, Camp Auschwitz that until recently were for sale on websites like Teespring and cafe press. As we speak at least 24 individuals indicted for their role in the January 6 insurrection, including eight members of the proud boys have used crowdfunding site gifts and go to raise nearly a quarter million dollars in donations. And it's not just about the money. This merchandise acts as a sort of team jersey that helps these groups recruit new members and foment further hatred towards their targets. We analyze the digital footprints of 73 groups across 60 websites, and 225 social media accounts and their use of 54 different online fundraising mechanisms, including 47 payment platforms and five different cryptocurrencies, ultimately finding 191 instances of hate groups using online fundraising services to support their activities. The funding mechanisms included both primary platforms like Amazon, intermediary platforms, such as Stripe or Shopify crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, payments facilitators like PayPal, monetized content streaming services, such as YouTube, super chats, and cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. All of these payment mechanisms were linked to websites or social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, telegram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, gab, picshoot and others. The sheer number of companies I just mentioned, is the first clue to the scale and the scope of the problem.

43:25 Rep. Jim Himes (CT): Mr. Glaser, you you, though suggested something new that I'd like to give you a maybe 30 seconds, 42 seconds I have left to elaborate on you said you were taught you were hopeful for sanctions like authorities against domestic actors. You did nod to constitutional civil liberties concerns. But give us another 30 seconds on exactly what you mean. And perhaps most importantly, what sort of fourth amendment overlay should accompany such authority?

43:52 Daniel Glaser: Well, thank you, thank you for the question. The fact is, the Treasury Department really does not have a lot of authority to go after purely domestic groups in the way that it goes after global terrorist organizations that simply doesn't have that authority. You could imagine an authority that does allow for the designation of domestic organizations, it would have to take into account that, the constitutional restrictions. When you look when you read the a lot of the court decisions, there's concerns could be addressed in the statute, there's concerns. A lot of the scrutiny is heightened because sanctions are usually accompanied with acid freezes. But you could imagine sanctions that don't involve asset freezes that involve transaction bounds that involve regulatory type of requirements that you see in Section 311 of the Patriot Act. So there's a variety of ways that both the due process standards could be raised from what we see in the global context.

48:21 Rep. French Hill (AZ): On 314 in the Patriot Act, is that a place where we could, in a protected appropriate way make a change that relates to this domestic issue? Or is that, in your view, too challenging? Daveed Gertenstein-Ross: No, I think it's a place where you could definitely make a change. The 314-A process allows an investigator to canvass financial institutions for potential lead information that might otherwise never be uncovered. It's designed to allow disparate pieces of information to be identified, centralized and evaluated. So when law enforcement submits a request to FinCEN, to get information from financial institutions, it has to submit a written certification that each individual or entity about which the information is sought is engaged in or reasonably suspected of engaging in terrorist activity or money laundering. I think that in some cases 314-A, may already be usable, but I think it's worth looking at the 314-A process to see if in this particular context, when you're looking at domestic violent extremism, as opposed to foreign terrorist organizations, there are some tweaks that would provide ability to get leads in this manner.

1:15:04 Iman Boukadoum: What we submit is that the material support for terrorism statute, as we know, there are two of them. There's one with an international Nexus that is required. And there's one that allows for investigating material support for terrorism, domestic terrorism, in particular, as defined in the patriot act with underlying statutes that allows for any crimes that take place within the United States that have no international nexus. And we believe that that second piece of material support for terrorism statute has been neglected and can be nicely used with the domestic terrorism definition as laid out in the Patriot Act. And we hope that statutory framework will be used to actually go after violent white nationalists and others.

The Capitol Insurrection: Unexplained Delays and Unanswered Questions (Part II)

House Committee on Oversight and Reform
June 15, 2021
Testimony was heard from:

  • General Charles E. Flynn, Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific
  • Lieutenant General Walter E. Piatt, Director of the Army Staff, U.S. Army
  • Christopher Wray, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

2:51:19 Chris Wray: Among the things that we've taken away from this experience are a few. One, as you heard me say in response to an earlier question, we need to develop better human sources, right, because if we can get better human sources, then we can better separate the wheat from the chaff in social media. Two, we need better data analytics. The volume, as you said, the volume of this stuff is, is just massive, and the ability to have the right tools to get through it and sift through it in a way that is, again, separating the wheat from the chaff is key. And then the third point that I would make is we are rapidly having to contend with the issue of encryption. So what I mean by that is, yes, there might be chatter on social media. But then what we have found and this is true in relation to January 6th, in spades, but it was also true over the summer in some of the violence that occurred there. Individuals will switch over to encrypted platforms for the really significant, really revealing communications. And so we've got to figure out a way to get into those communications or we're going to be constantly playing catch up in our effort to separate as I said, the wheat from the chaff on social media.

3:16:54 Chris Wray: As for social media, I think there's, there's it's understandable that there's a lot of confusion on this subject we do not we have very specific policies that Ben at the Department for a long time that govern our ability to use social media and when we have an authorized purpose and proper predication, there's a lot of things we can do on social media. And we do do and we aggressively do but what we can't do, what we can't do on social media is without proper predication, and an authorized purpose, just monitor, just in case on social media. Now, if the policies should be changed to reflect that, that might be one of the important lessons learned coming out of this whole experience. But that's not something that that currently the FBI has the either the authority or certainly the resources frankly, to do.

Executive producer contact information 

Robyn Thirkill

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Aug 30, 2021
CD236: January 6: The Capitol Riot

Congress has conducted at least eleven bipartisan hearings to investigate the security failures that permitted a mob of American citizens to riot inside the Capitol Building and successfully disrupt Congress while they certified the 2020 election results on January 6, 2021. In this episode, hear key highlights pulled from over 30 hours of testimony to understand exactly what happened that day.

Executive Producer: Forrest Pttman

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Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

Q: Into the Storm, HBO

CD226: Lame Duck


H.R.1090 - District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act

S.964 - Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021

H.R.4192 - Confronting the Threat of Domestic Terrorism Act

S.2043 - Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act

H.R.4187 - Domestic Terrorism Penalties Act of 2019

Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act U.S. Department of the Treasury


Additional Resources

Sound Clip Sources

Hearing: USCP OVERSIGHT FOLLOWING JANUARY 6 ATTACK, Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, June 16, 2021

Watch on C-SPAN


  • Michael Bolton
    • Inspector General of the US Capitol Police

36:40 Michael Bolton: To me the biggest failure is that because we have allowed certain elements within the Capitol Police to be autonomous, they conduct their own training, okay? That's the issue. Whereas you if you have a Training Services Bureau and let's call it an office of training that is fully incorporated, they handle all the training they conducted. They make sure you get the training, they hold your officials accountable, your people doing your training, guess what, we're sending a letter to the chief and they can no longer work until they get required or what have you.

Hearing: The Capitol Insurrection: Unexplained Delays and Unanswered Questions (Part II), House Committee on Oversight and Reform, June 15, 2021

Watch on Youtube


  • Lt. General Walter Piatt
    • Director of the Army Staff
  • General Charles Flynn
    • Commanding General of the US Army Pacific
  • Chris Wray
    • FBI Director

30:41 Lt. General Walter Piatt: My involvement with our response to this emergency began shortly after entering the Secretary of the Army's office at 2:20pm to provide a report of a suspicious package. While I was there, a panic call came in reporting several explosions in the city. To understand the situation, to indentify, what was needed from the army Secretary McCarthy convened a conference call. During this call DC and Capitol authorities frantically requested urgent and immediate support to the Capitol. We all immediately understood the gravity of the situation. Secretary McCarthy went down the hall to seek approval from the Acting Secretary of Defense. Before departing, she directed me to have the staff prepare a response. I communicated this on the conference call. But those are more and more convinced that I was denying their request, which I did not have the authority to do. Despite clearly stating three times that we are not denying your request, we need to prepare a plan for when the Secretary of the Army gains approval.

1:46:02 General Charles Flynn: There's four things in planning that we could have done. And we should have done. The first one there should have been clearly a lead federal agency designated. The second one is we should have had an integrated security plan. The third one is and much of this has been talked about already is information and intelligence sharing on criminal activities before the sixth of January. And then the fourth one would have been, we should have pre-federalized certain National Guard forces so that they could have immediately been moved to the Capitol and had those authorities in place before this happened.

2:09:30 Rep. Kweisi Mfume (MD): So that's what we are trying to do, keep our republic and to keep it from those who tried to overthrow this government who wanted to kill members of Congress, who wanted to hang Mike Pence.

2:43:37 Rep. Michael Cloud (TX): You mentioned domestic terrorism that this would qualify as that, would the riots that we saw across the cities for nights and nights and weeks and weeks on even months on end, qualify as domestic terrorism as well? Chris Wray: We've been treating both as domestic terrorism and investigating both through our Joint Terrorism Task Force.

2:51:19 Chris Wray: Among the things that we've taken away from this experience are a few. One, as you heard me say in response to an earlier question, we need to develop better human sources, right, because if we can get better human sources, then we can better separate the wheat from the chaff in social media. Two, we need better data analytics. The volume, as you said, the volume of this stuff is, is just massive, and the ability to have the right tools to get through it and sift through it in a way that is, again, separating the wheat from the chaff is key. And then the third point that I would make is we are rapidly having to contend with the issue of encryption. So what I mean by that is, yes, there might be chatter on social media. But then what we have found and this is true in relation to January 6th, in spades, but it was also true over the summer in some of the violence that occurred there. Individuals will switch over to encrypted platforms for the really significant, really revealing communications. And so we've got to figure out a way to get into those communications or we're going to be constantly playing catch up in our effort to separate as I said, the wheat from the chaff on social media.

3:01:00 Chris Wray: We consider the attack on capital on January 6 to be a form of domestic terrorism.

3:16:00 Chris Wray: As for social media, I think there's, there's it's understandable that there's a lot of confusion on this subject we do not we have very specific policies that Ben at the Department for a long time that govern our ability to use social media and when we have an authorized purpose and proper predication, there's a lot of things we can do on social media. And we do do and we aggressively do but what we can't do, what we can't do on social media is without proper predication, and an authorized purpose, just monitor, just in case on social media. Now, if the policies should be changed to reflect that, that might be one of the important lessons learned coming out of this whole experience. But that's not something that that currently the FBI has the either the authority or certainly the resources frankly, to do.

4:06:00 Rep. Pat Fallon (TX): Has anyone been charged with inciting an insurrection? Chris Wray: I think I responded to an earlier question. I don't believe that that has been one of the charges us so far. But again, with that many cases, I want to build a little room for the fact that I might not know all the cases. Rep. Pat Fallon (TX): So right as of right now, the answer would be no, fair to say? Chris Wray: That's my understanding. Rep. Pat Fallon (TX): Okay. Has anybody been charged with sedition to your knowledge? Chris Wray: Same answer. Rep. Pat Fallon (TX): Okay. No, again, Has anybody been charged with treason? Chris Wray: I don't believe so. Rep. Pat Fallon (TX): Okay, has anyone been charged with illegal possession of a firearm inside the Capitol? On that day? Chris Wray: I believe there has been at least one instance of someone arrested with a firearm in the Capitol. And there have been a number of arrests of individuals either en route to the Capitol or near the Capitol for the for the siege.

4:11:00 Rep. James Comer (KY): On December 31, Mayor browser requested DC National Guard assistance with the planned protest for January fifth and sixth, correct? Lt. General Walter Piatt: Correct, sir. Rep. James Comer (KY):And was that request for assistant ultimately approved by the Secretary of Army? Lt. General Walter Piatt: It was approved by the Acting Secretary of Defense as well. Rep. James Comer (KY):Were restrictions placed on that authority upon the request of Mayor browser and if so, what were those restrictions? Lt. General Walter Piatt: She had requested that they be unarmed and it did not take a place in any law enforcement activities.

Hearing: The Capitol Insurrection: Unexplained Delays and Unanswered Questions, Committee on Oversight and Reform, May 12, 2021

Watch on Youtube


  • Chris Miller
    • Former Acting Secretary of Defense
  • Robert Contee
    • Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department

00:22 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY): Today the committee will examine one of the darkest days in our nation's history. The January 6th insurrection at the United States Capitol. On that day, a violent mob incited by shameless lies told by a defeated president launched the worst attack on our republic since the Civil War.

00:42 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY): We watched as the temple of our democracy, a building whereas familiar with as our own homes, was overrun by a mob bent on murdering the Vice President and members of Congress.

21:21 Chris Miller: I want to remind you and the American public that during that time, there was irresponsible commentary by the media about a possible military coup or that advisors the president were advocating the declaration of martial law. I was also very cognizant of the fears and concerns about the prior use of the military in June 2020 response to protests in the White House. And just before the electoral college certification 10 former Secretaries of Defense signed an op-ed published in The Washington Post warning of the dangers of politicizing inappropriately using the military. No such thing was going to occur and my watch, but these concerns and hysteria about them nonetheless factored into my decisions regarding the appropriate and limited use of our armed forces to support civilian law enforcement during the electoral college certification. My obligation to the nation was to prevent a constitutional crisis. Historically, military responses to domestic protests have resulted in violations of American civil rights and even in the case the Kent State protests of the Vietnam War, tragic deaths. In short, I fervently believe the military should not be utilized in such scenarios, other than as a last resort, and only when all other assets had been expended.

26:02 Chris Miller: I stand by every decision I made on January 6th and the following days. I want to emphasize that our nation's armed forces are to be deployed for domestic law enforcement only when all civilian assets are expended and only as the absolute last resort. To use them for domestic law enforcement in any other manner is contrary to the constitution and a threat to the Republic. I ask you this consider what the response in Congress in the media had been if I had unilaterally deployed 1000s of troops into Washington DC that morning against the Express wishes of the Mayor and the Capitol Police who indicated they were prepared.

40:52 Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY): Mr. Miller, you were the Acting Secretary of Defense on January 6th, did President Trump as the commander in chief of the US Armed Forces call you during the January 6 attack to ensure the capital was being secured? Mr. Miller? Chris Miller: No, I had all the authority I needed from the president to fulfill my constitutional duties. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY): Did you speak with President Trump at all as the attack was unfolding? Chris Miller: On January 6th? yes. Chris Miller: No, I did not. I didn't need to I had all the authority I needed and knew what had to happen. I knew what had to happen. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY): Did you speak with Vice President Pence during the attack? Yes or no? Chris Miller: Yes. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY): According to a defense department timeline, it was Vice President Pence and not President Trump, who called during the siege to say the Capitol was not secure. And to give you the direction to quote, 'clear the Capitol.' What specifically did Vice President Pence say to you that day? Chris Miller: Vice President's not in the chain of command, he did not direct me to clear the capital. I discussed very briefly with him the situation. He provided insights based on his presence there, and I notified him or I informed him that by that point, the District of Columbia National Guard was being fully mobilized and was in coordination with local and federal law enforcement to assist in clearing the Capitol.

1:05:28 Chris Miller: I think I'd like to modify my original assessment. Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA): Why am I not surprised about that? Chris Miller: Based on as Chief Contee said, we are getting more information by the day by the minute about what happened and the highlight some other observations that were made. It's clear now that there were organized... Although we're going to find out through the Department of Justice process in the law, and the legal system, it seems clear that there was some sort of conspiracy where there were organized assault elements that intended to assault the Capitol that day. Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA): Reclaiming my time, I'm just asking you the same question you've answered before. Did did the President's remarks incite members to march, the people in the crowd to march on the Capitol, or did they not? Chris Miller: Well, he clearly said offered that they should march on the Capitol. So it goes without saying that his statement resulted in that... Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA): Reclaiming my time. Let me just share with the committee what you have said before. This is your quote. This is your quote. What anyone? Would anybody have marched on the Capitol and tried to overrun the Capitol without the president speech? I think it's pretty much definitive. That would not have happened. Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA): I think now, I would say that this is not the unitary factor at all. What's that? Chris Miller: I would like to offer I have reassessed. It was not the unitary factor at all. There was's seems clear there was an organized conspiracy with assault elements. Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA): In your testimony for today. Reclaiming my time again, for your written testimony for today. For today, this morning, you stated the following about the President's quote, I personally believe his comments encouraged the protesters that day. So this is that this is that there's a very recent reversal of your of your testimony. Chris Miller: Absolutely not. That's ridiculous. Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA): You're ridiculous. Chris Miller: Thank you for your, your thoughts. I also want to highlight... Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA): No wait a minute, reclaiming my time, reclaiming my time.

2:06:30 Rep. Glenn Grothman (WI): Has there been any progress made it all on on? Who would have put these bombs there? Robert Contee: No arrests have been made no suspects identified, working without partners on the federal side. There's been surveillance videos that have been released publicly showing that individual placing the pipe bombs, but no arrests have been made at this point.

3:01:05 Rep. Andrew Clyde (GA): Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes, taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the sixth, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.

3:12:18 Sen. Hank Johnson (GA): Were you ordered to delay deployment of troops? Chris Miller: 110% Absolutely not. No, that is not the case.

4:41:42 Chris Miller: If we had a valid request and a necessary requests from your body, I guarantee you that the Department of Defense would have been there in strength as required. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): So when you would acknowledge we lost the battle we lost for the first time since 1814... Chris Miller: Horrifying. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And it was everybody else's fault but DoD. Chris Miller: I absolutely disagree with the statement that it was... Rep. Mike Quigley (IL) I'm paraphrasing you the only way that makes sense when you say 'you wouldn't do anything differently, you wouldn't do anything differently.' Okay, that implies what I'm saying that it was everybody else's fault in your mind, because it was a catastrophic failure. Chris Miller: And I just had an obligation to protect and defend the Constitution and guarantee that the armed forces were used appropriately, and not in a manner that would be seen as extraconstitutional. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL) Look, the Constitution is not a treaty of surrender. It affords you the opportunity to do what's necessary to defend the people in the democracy of the United States. I mean, if looked upon the destruction afterwards, looking back, you say, 'well, at least I defended the Constitution' is another perverse way of looking at this. Nothing was DoDs fault. And at least you did, in your own mind, defend what you thought was right for the Constitution. Never mind how many people got hurt and how much damage was done to our government in the meantime. Chris Miller: I will absolutely take that on and take that as a compliment. Because the armed forces of the United States was completely prepared and ready to respond to any valid request from any department or agency or local or federal law enforcement office. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL) You lost and you don't have the Intellectual fortitude to own up to your part of the responsibility. And I get it, a lot of people screwed up, you're one of them. I yield scaled back. Madam Chairman. Chris Miller: I respectfully disagree in that. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL) I was in the room, you weren't.

Hearing: State and Local Responses to Domestic Terrorism: The Attack on the U.S. Capitol and Beyond, House Committee on Homeland Security: Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, March 24, 2021

Watch on Youtube


  • Dana Nessel
    • Attorney General, Michigan
  • Aaron Ford
    • Attorney General, Nevada
  • John Chisholm
    • District Attorney, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.

07:19 Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI): The post 9/11 era of security where the threats come from abroad is over. In the 20 years of the post 9/11 era, they came to an end on January 6th, the new reality is that we have to come to terms with is that it's our extremists here at home, seeking to explain internal divisions that pose the greatest threat.

Hearing: JANUARY 6 ATTACK ON THE CAPITOL, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Committee on Rules and Administration, March 3, 2021

Day 2 (March 3, 2021)

Day 2, Part 2 (March 3, 2021)


  • Robert Salesses
    • Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense and Global Security at the U.S. Department of Defense
  • Major General William Walker
    • Commanding General of the DC National Guard
  • Jill Sanborn
    • Assistant Director, Counterterrorism Division
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • U.S. Department of Justice

06:42 Sen. Gary Peters (MI): But the January 6 attack must mark a turning point. There can be no question that the domestic terrorist threat and cluding violence driven by white supremacy and anti government groups is the gravest terrorist threat to our homeland security. Moving forward, the FBI, which is tasked with leading our counterterrorism efforts, and the Department of Homeland Security, which ensures that state and local law enforcement understands the threats that American communities face must address this deadly threat with the same focus and resources and analytical rigor that they apply to foreign threats such as ISIS and Al Qaeda.

30:19 Robert Salesses: Over the weekend of January 2nd and third, my staff contacted the Secret Service, the Park Police, the marshal service, the FBI, the Capitol Police to determine if they planned to request DoD assistance. None of these law enforcement agencies indicated a need for DoD or DC National Guard Support.

30:45 Robert Salesses: After consultation with the Department of Justice, the Acting Secretary of Defense approved the DC government request for National Guard personnel to support 30 traffic control points and six metro stations from January 5th to the sixth. The Acting Secretary also authorized a 40 person quick reaction force to be readied at Joint Base Andrews.

31:17 Robert Salesses: On January 5, the Acting Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army received a letter from the mayor of DC, stating MPD is prepared and coordinated with its federal partners, namely the Park Police, the Capitol Police and the Secret Service. Based on these communications with federal and local civilian authorities DoD determined that no additional military support was required on January 5th, and 6th.

32:20 Robert Salesses: At approximately 2:30pm, the Secretary of the Army met with the Acting Secretary of Defense and other senior leaders of the Defense Department. After this meeting, the Acting Secretary of Defense determined that all available forces of the DC National Guard were required to reinforce the DC Metropolitan Police and the US Capitol Police and ordered the full mobilization of the DC National Guard at 3:04pm.

33:08 Robert Salesses: After reviewing the DC National Guard's missions, equipping and responsibilities to be performed at the Capitol Complex and supported the Metropolitan Police and Capitol Police, and conferring with the DC Metropolitan Police at their headquarters, at 4:10pm, the Secretary of the Army received the Acting Secretary of Defense's approval at 4:32 and ordered the DC National Guard forces to depart the armory for the Capitol Complex

49:59 Major General William Walker: The District of Columbia National Guard provides support to the Metropolitan Police Department, the United States Park Police, the United States Secret Service, and other federal and district law enforcement agencies in response to planned rallies, marches, protest, and other large scale first amendment activity on a routine basis. The standard component of such support is the stand up of a off site quick reaction for us, an element of guardsmen held in reserve with civil disturbance response equipment, helmets, shields, battons, etc. They are postured to quickly respond to an urgent and immediate need for assistance by civil authorities. The Secretary of the Army's January 5th letter to me withheld that authority for me to employ a quick reaction force. Additionally, the Secretary of the Army's memorandum to me required that a concept of operation be submitted to him before the employment of a quick reaction force. I found that requirement to be unusual, as was the requirement to seek approval to move guardsmen supporting the Metropolitan Police Department to move from one traffic control point to another.

54:50 Major General William Walker: So the memo was unusual in that it required me to seek authorization from the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Defense, to essentially even protect my guardsmen. So no civil disturbance equipment could be authorized, unless it was came from the Secretary of Defense, now the Secretary of the Army, to his credit, did tell me that I could have force protection equipment with the guardsmen. So we do have helmets. shin guards, vest, we did have that with us. But that came from the Secretary of the Army. The Secretary of Defense told me I needed his permission to to escalate to have that kind of protection.

55:50 Major General William Walker: What it says, without my personal authorization, the District of Columbia National Guard has not authorized the following to be issued weapons, ammunition bayonets, batons or ballistic protection equipment such as helmets and body armor. Now, again, to be clear, the Secretary of the Army told me to go ahead and issue that equipment. So we never were going to have weapons or ammunition and we no longer have bayonets. But we do have ballistic protection equipment, helmets body armor, and so I did have that with each guardsmen.

57:02 Major General William Walker: And at that time, Chief Conte and Chief Soon passionately pleaded for District of Columbia National Guard to get to the Capitol with all deliberate speed. So the Army senior leaders did not think that it'd look good. It would be a good optic, they further stated that it could incite the crowd. So their best military advice would be to the Secretary of the Army who could not get on the call. So we wanted the Secretary of the Army to join the call, but he was not available. We were told that he was with the Secretary of Defense and not available. But the Army Senior leadership, expressed to Chief Conte, Chief Sohn, Dr. Mitchell, the deputy mayor and others on the call, that it would not be their best military advice to have uniform guardsmen on the Capitol.

58:26 Sen. Gary Peters (MI): General Walker was the issue of optics ever brought up by army leadership when the DC National Guard was deployed during the summer of 2020. Was that discussed? Major General William Walker: It was never discussed. The week of June it was never discussed July 4, when we were supporting the city was never discussed August 28th when we supported the city. Sen. Gary Peters (MI): Did you think that was unusual? Major General William Walker: I did.

1:00:32 Major General William Walker: So I had them ready to go shortly after the phone call. So I brought, at 1500, I directed that the quick reaction for us that was based at Andrews Air Force Base, leave the base, get to the armory at all deliberate speed. I had a police escort bring them to the armory. They returned to the Armory in about 20 minutes. So we had them sitting there waiting. And then, in anticipation of a green light, a go, we put guardsmen on buses, we brought them inside the armory, so nobody would see them putting on the equipment and getting on the buses, and then we just waited to get the approval. And that's why we were able to get to the Capitol in about 18 minutes. Sen. Gary Peters (MI): What time were they on the buses Ready to go? Do you recall? Major General William Walker: By five o'clock, but at five o'clock, I decided, hey, you know, there's got to be an approval coming. So get on the buses, get the equipment on, get on the buses and just wait. And then a few minutes after that we did get the approval. I was on a secure video conference when the army leadership conveyed to me that the Secretary of Defense had authorized the employment of the National Guard at the Capitol. So my timeline has 1708, 5:08pm is when is when we wrote down that we had approval and read was about eight people in the office with me when I got that. Sen. Gary Peters (MI): How many guardsmen were ready. You said write a video earlier and they have gotten 155. So you could have sent 155 much, much earlier, what would have been the impact of sending those 155 right around that two o'clock timeframe? Major General William Walker: Well, based on my experience with the summer and I have 19 years, I have 39 years in the National Guard, and I was in the Florida guard Hurricane Andrew I've been involved in civil disturbances. So I believe that number could have made a difference. We could have helped extend the perimeter and help push back the crowd.

1:13:49 Robert Salesses: The only decision makers on the sixth of January were the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy. There was a chain of command from the Secretary of Defense, to Secretary McCarthy to General Walker. That was the chain of command.

1:15:39 Sen. Rob Portman (OH): This morning, you have testified that you received this letter from our secretary McCarthy on January 5, so just the day before the attack on the Capitol. In that letter, did Secretary McCarthy prohibit you from employing the National Guard's quick reaction force without his authorization? Major General William Walker: So I have the letter in front of me, and his letter does not but it is the Secretary of Defense says that I have to use it as a last resort. But the Secretary of the Army told me and it's, I have the letter that I couldn't not use the quick reaction force. It would it would he with I'll just read it. Yeah, 'I withhold authority to approve employment of the District of Columbia National Guard quick reaction force, and will do so only as a last resort, in response to a request from an appropriate civil authority. I will require a concept of operation prior to authorizing employment of a civil- of a quick reaction for it.

1:16:05 *Major General William Walker:** Now a quick reaction force normally is a command was tool to go help either a civilian agency, but more typically to help the National Guardsmen who are out there in need, need assistance.

1:16:58 Major General William Walker: Just to be clear, the Secretary of Defense said I could use it as a last resort, right. But the Secretary of the Army says that I could only use it after he gave me permission. And only then after a concept of operation. Sen. Rob Portman (OH): Right, and we talked about the chain of command earlier, so your chain of command is both of these gentlemen. In other words, you you didn't have the authority to deploy that quick reaction force based on either the letter or the earlier memo that went from the Secretary of Defense, Acting Secretary defen