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Sen. Coons delivers floor speech on Kigali Amendment, Ukraine, and the DISCLOSE Act

Government and Politics

September 23, 2022


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) delivered a speech on the Senate floor yesterday to highlight the Kigali Amendment, press for continued support for the Ukrainian people as they repel Russia’s invasion, and decry obstruction of the DISCLOSE Act.

“Mr. President, I rise to address three different topics, if I might. First, this week, the Senate of the United States did something important – something that is genuinely a big deal: We ratified a treaty. This is something we don’t do often enough, and it bears repeating what this Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol is. By a vote of 69 to 27, a big bipartisan vote,” said Senator Coons.

He continued, “The projections are there’ll be as many as 33,000 new manufacturing jobs in the United States, some in my home state of Delaware, but spread across the country, over a billion dollars in new exports that will impact just this year, the American economy, because of this, and a 25% increase in the exports of American-made refrigerators and air conditioners and so forth. This was a rare moment of bipartisan consensus, where we were able to come together and address a global challenge and create more opportunity here at home. And I thought it bore some celebration as we conclude this week.”

On September 22, Senator Coons – who co-Chairs the Climate Solutions Caucus – voted to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which passed the Senate by a vote of 69-27. On August 4, Senator Coons, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted to ratify the treaty to add Sweden and Finland to NATO, which passed the Senate by a vote of 95-1. Yesterday, Senator Coons voted to invoke cloture on the DISCLOSE Act to combat anonymous special interest spending in American politics, which he has also cosponsored.

Full audio and video available here. A transcript is provided below.

Senator Coons: Mr. President, I rise to address three different topics, if I might. First, this week, the Senate of the United States did something important – something that is genuinely a big deal: We ratified a treaty. This is something we don’t do often enough, and it bears repeating what this Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is. By a vote of 69 to 27, a big bipartisan vote, this Senate ratified a treaty that will reduce global warming by a full degree Fahrenheit, something critical to the future of the planet, and will do it in a way that is a win for American manufacturing, a win for American exports, and a win for our planet and creation. Some of you may remember a long time ago, we discovered a problem, a growing hole in the ozone layer that was being caused by propellants, by CFCs, and so the world came together to eliminate CFCs and replace them with a new generation of artificial propellants and refrigerants known as HFCs. That was good news.

The hole in the ozone layer has largely been addressed and the threat of skin cancer and being bombarded by radiation that that post largely resolved. Yet this next generation of chemicals, HFCs, had an unexpected additional problem. They are a thousand times worse for global warming, for climate change, than carbon dioxide. So much so, and they are so broadly used in every industrial setting, that it’s led to a rapid increase in global warming. Well, the solution was actually invented in Delaware. It’s a next generation of chemicals that are much less harmful to the climate and to the environment, effective as refrigerants being manufactured now in places across the United States, and that, if exported to the rest of the world, can grow thousands of manufacturing jobs. I just wanted to take a moment and celebrate.

The projections are there’ll be as many as 33,000 new manufacturing jobs in the United States – some in my home state of Delaware – but spread across the country, over a billion dollars in new exports that will impact, just this year, the American economy because of this, and a 25% increase in the exports of American-made refrigerators and air conditioners and so forth. This was a rare moment of bipartisan consensus, where we were able to come together and address a global challenge and create more opportunity here at home. I thought it bore some celebration as we conclude this week.

Mr. President, earlier this week, our President, Joe Biden, stood before the world at the United Nations General Assembly and continued his forceful, clear, and strong efforts to call on the world to enforce the U.N. Charter and to push back on Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Since February, when Putin’s forces swept into Ukraine and threatened to overrun the entire country, the West has pulled together, and allies and supporters of the Ukrainian people from around the world have imposed sanctions on Russia and Russian oligarchs, have provided funding and support and assistance to millions of Ukrainian refugees that have flooded throughout the rest of the world, and, critically, have provided financial support for the men and women of the Ukrainian armed forces, who just in recent days made a dramatic breakout in northern Ukraine, recapturing an area the size of Delaware — more than 3,000 square miles — in a rapid advance east of Kharkiv. President Biden has asked this body – in a bill we will take up in just a few days – to provide $11.7 billion in additional support for Ukraine. Mr. President, you and I are appropriators. We know how precious the resources of the American people are, and I am grateful that on a broad bipartisan basis, we have provided tens of billions of dollars in humanitarian relief for refugees, in support for the government of Ukraine, and in critically needed military support for the Ukrainian armed forces. It is because the Biden administration has delivered the most advanced and targeted long-range artillery systems we have, called HIMARS, that suddenly the Ukrainians are making real advances on the battlefield. We must continue this critical support. President Zelenskyy has pulled together and mobilized the Ukrainian people in a remarkable show of determination. A fierce resistance; despite being badly outnumbered by a much greater military force with advanced and sophisticated weaponry, the Ukrainians have fought bravely and with enormous determination. They deserve our continued support.

In just recent weeks, there have been some real signs of progress in opening the Black Sea ports of Ukraine so that grain can be exported to a dozen hungry countries, in making progress on prisoner-of-war exchanges between the Russians and the Ukrainians, and in protests in Russia. In an act of desperation, President Putin has called up hundreds of thousands of reservists in a mobilization to try and push back against Ukrainian forces. Russia is losing this fight. They’re losing on the ground in Ukraine. They’re losing in the court of public opinion, and they’re losing strategically.

My entire life, we had thought it was unlikely that Sweden or Finland would ever join NATO, the most successful multilateral security arrangement we’ve ever engaged in as a nation, but because of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine now, both Sweden and Finland are seeking admission to NATO. This body acted quickly to ratify their admission to NATO – we are down to just a few countries – and in New York, I had a chance to meet with President Erdogan of Turkey, to convey to him both our appreciation of his help in getting the grain out of the Black Sea ports of Ukraine, but the urgency of expanding NATO to secure it against further Russian aggression. It’s my hope that we will move quickly as a united NATO alliance, and that we here in this body will act quickly to provide the additional assistance to the Ukrainian people, government, and armed forces, that our president has sought.

Mr. President, earlier today, we took up a vote on the DISCLOSE Act. Since 2010, when the Supreme Court of the United States issued an ill-conceived opinion in the case of Citizens United, we have seen a flood of dark money steadily become more and more pernicious in its impact on our politics and our policies here in Washington and now around the country. Wealthy individuals and corporations and shadowy special interest groups have contributed hundreds of millions – now billions – of dollars, across several election cycles that have undermined the integrity and fairness of our elections that are at the very heart of our democracy.

This bill would do a simple thing: It would require full disclosure of all corporations, trade associations, and nonprofits engaging in electioneering. They would have to disclose any donors of $10,000 or more over any two-year period. It wouldn’t solve all the problems created by Citizens United, but sunshine is the best disinfectant, and it would allow the American people to know who is truly behind the dark-money-funded ads that now bombard citizens in competitive elections around our country.

Tragically, it was a straight party-line vote today, and we were not able to proceed to take up and vote on the DISCLOSE Act. In the end, one party continues to defend the practice of dark money flooding our elections, while another is seeking to open up clarity for the general public and for our electorate, on who’s giving money to whom. We should have had a vote on the DISCLOSE Act. Instead, we failed to get to that bill, because we could not get in this chamber 60 votes to move ahead. Mr. President, it’s my hope that the American people are paying attention and realize on whose side we are in this fight over transparency in our elections. With that, Mr. President, I offer my thanks, and I yield the floor to my colleague from Michigan.”