DEFENDING PUBLIC SAFETY EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT ACT
(Senate - June 24, 2015)

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[Congressional Record Volume 161, Number 102 (Wednesday, June 24, 2015)]
[Pages S4559-S4582]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




           DEFENDING PUBLIC SAFETY EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT ACT

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of the House message to accompany H.R. 2146, which 
the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       House message to accompany H.R. 2146, an act to amend the 
     Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal law 
     enforcement officers, firefighters, and air traffic 
     controllers to make penalty-free withdrawals from 
     governmental plans after age 50, and for other purposes.

  Pending:

       McConnell motion to concur in the amendment of the House to 
     the amendment of the Senate to the bill.
       McConnell motion to concur in the amendment of the House to 
     the amendment of the Senate to the bill, with amendment No. 
     2060 (to the House amendment to the Senate amendment to the 
     bill), to change the enactment date.
       McConnell amendment No. 2061 (to amendment No. 2060), of a 
     perfecting nature.

  Mr. REID. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cotton). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                              Gun Violence

  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, we had a wonderful event last night here 
in Washington that I was able to attend. It was a night honoring 
champions for anti-gun violence measures across the country. It was put 
on by Sandy Hook Promise, which is an organization that has grown up 
out of the tragedy in Sandy Hook. A number of parents have become the 
organizers of an effort to try and learn from what happened at Sandy 
Hook and make sure we don't repeat the mistakes of the past.
  We actually got to honor two of our colleagues there. We honored 
Senator Pat Toomey for his work 2 years ago on the background checks 
bill, as well as Senator Stabenow, who, of course, has been a great 
advocate for increasing resources in our mental health system. And as 
wonderful a night as it was to honor these champions of change, it also 
was a night in which we were reminded about that terrible morning in 
December of 2012.
  We watched a short video of the news coverage, and we listened to the 
parents of Daniel Barden and Dylan Hockley. The husband of Mary 
Sherlach talked to us about what their lives have been like in the 
years since that shooting at Sandy Hook.
  I remember the hours and days after the shooting. I remember feeling 
like I needed to be really restrained about talking about the obvious 
policy issues that, to me, were due for airing and that sort of tumbled 
out of the facts surrounding that tragedy. I mean, this kid--this 
really troubled young man--walked into a school with a semiautomatic 
weapon designed for the military and shot 20 kids in less than 5 
minutes. This gun was designed for the military, designed to kill as 
many people as quickly as possible, and it killed every single kid it 
hit. There were 20 kids shot. Twenty kids were dead in a matter of 
minutes.
  So it seemed to me we should have an immediate discussion about why 
this kind of gun is still legal. But I held back because it felt like 
the mourning and the grieving should take precedence over action. It 
took me only up to the first wake that I attended to realize I was 
wrong. Senator Blumenthal and I went to every single wake and every 
funeral we could over the course of that first week--and there were 
dozens.
  At first, I remember waiting in a really long line, standing next to 
Senator Blumenthal. I remember as if it were yesterday, talking to a 
sobbing mother, who was standing in front of us waiting in that line 
and telling us about how her child survived the shooting only because 
she had been sick that day and she stayed home from school. But all her 
daughters' friends were dead. As we approached that family, I remember 
struggling with what to say. I am lucky that the senior Senator from 
Connecticut, who sits behind me in the Chamber, had the right words 
ready. He said to the parents something like this: If you are ever 
ready or willing to talk about how we make sure this doesn't happen 
again, we will be waiting. The dad didn't pause more than a few seconds 
before he said, clear as day: We are ready now.

[[Page S4560]]

  In the years since, these mass shootings have become as commonplace 
as rain storms. Since 2011, the number of mass shootings in the United 
States has tripled--tripled. After each one, the forces of the status 
quo--the defenders of the gun industry--tell us we can't talk about 
policy reform in the days after a shooting. One prominent commentator 
called those of us who dared talk about change in the wake of 
Charleston ``sick.'' How convenient that is. How convenient that, at 
the moment when the world is watching, when the country is asking 
itself what we can do to make sure another mass slaughter doesn't 
happen again, the rules say we can't say a word.
  But think about how these rules would work, because Charleston 
happens 10 times over, every single day, across this country. Eighty-
six people die, on average, every day because of guns.
  Last Thursday the families of Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, 
Tywanza Sanders, Sharonda Coleman Singleton, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee 
Lance, Susie Jackson, Daniel Lee Simmons, Sr., and DePayne Middleton-
Doctor mourned the loss of their loved ones in Charleston.
  But the day before, on Wednesday, the families of Angel Feliciano, 
Malik Mercer, Eric Ferguson, Michael Kidd, Jr., Thomas Whitaker, Roy 
Brown, Martarese Gentry, Keith Battle, and Ronald Collins mourned their 
loss. And those were just nine. There were dozens more on Wednesday, 
the day before the Charleston shooting, who were killed by guns.
  If we can't talk about anti-gun violence policy the day after a large 
number of Americans are shot, then we will never talk about anti-gun 
violence policy, because on average 86 people die from gun violence 
every single day. But even if we accept that there is never a bad time 
to talk about how we can end this carnage, then we also have to have 
the courage to take on all the other ridiculous arguments about why we 
can't act.
  Now, the first one is familiar because it comes right after the mass 
shooting happens. A former NRA board member trotted this one out within 
hours of Charleston: He said that the solution was to just arm more 
pastors and parishioners in churches so they can defend themselves. The 
more there are people who have guns, the less people will die from 
guns--so goes this logic. So don't act.
  The simple argument is that more good guys with guns equals less gun 
deaths. The problem with that argument is it is a boldfaced lie. Study 
after study shows that the more guns there are in a community, the more 
crime there is. The more guns there are, the more gun homicides there 
are. New evidence makes the case even clearer. As States more clearly 
separate between those with lax gun laws and those with stricter gun 
laws, we can look to see what happens.
  The second argument is one that I have heard from my Republican 
colleagues in the Senate just in the last few days--that these laws 
can't stop a madman such as Dylann Root or Adam Lanza from perpetrating 
violence. Some of my colleagues say the only recourse is to close our 
eyes and pray this doesn't happen again. But again, these stubborn 
facts betray that argument. As I said, now that we have States that 
have loose gun laws and States that have tougher gun laws, we can see 
what happens. Over and over research shows us that jurisdictions that 
make it a little bit harder for bad guys to get guns have less gun 
deaths.
  In my State of Connecticut, Johns Hopkins researchers concluded that 
our permit-to-carry laws have reduced gun crimes by 40 percent. 
Similarly, they concluded that in Missouri, the repeal of a similar law 
increased gun homicides by 25 percent. Now, both studies controlled for 
all other possible factors influencing gun crimes, and they still found 
these shocking results.
  While the facts are still fresh out of Charleston, there is evidence 
that a different set of laws could have--not would have--stopped Dylann 
Root without having any effect on law-abiding gun owners in South 
Carolina.
  Root had charges pending for trespassing and drug crimes. Alone, 
neither would have disqualified him from owning a gun. But what if our 
laws were different so that multiple misdemeanors--a pattern of 
criminal behavior--disqualified you from buying a firearm? Or what 
about a permit-to-carry law?
  Maybe local law enforcement knew enough about Root--his criminal past 
or his association with extremist rightwing organizations--to know he 
shouldn't carry a weapon. Now, maybe not, but if South Carolina had a 
permit-to-carry law, at least there would have been a chance law 
enforcement would have withheld a permit from a young man as plainly 
unstable as Root.
  But even if you don't believe that any specific law could have 
prevented the tragedy in Charleston or in Newtown, I am not sure that 
it matters, because separate and aside from the specific case-by-case 
impact of any law is the collective moral and psychological effect of 
nonaction. No matter how maligned Congress becomes, we still set the 
moral tone for the Nation. When we declare something to be morally out 
of bounds, especially when we do it in a bipartisan or nonpartisan 
manner, Americans listen. They take cues from our endorsements and from 
our approbations.
  That is why, in my heart of hearts, I believe that our silence has 
made us complicit in these murders. I don't care that an assault 
weapons ban or universal background check maybe wouldn't have stopped 
the slaughter in Charleston. When we do nothing year after year, our 
silence sends a silent message of endorsement to the killers. I am not 
saying we are in conscious alignment with these assassins, but when all 
we do in the wake of Newtown, Tucson, Aurora, and Charleston is 
rhetorical, then those on the fringe, those hanging on the edge of 
reason, those contemplating the unthinkable take a cue that we don't 
really mean it when we condemn mass violence, because if we did, we 
would, at the very least, try to do something--anything--to stop it, 
and we don't.
  Quite frankly, removing one flag from one building in South Carolina 
doesn't cut it, and neither does a handful of retailers ceasing to sell 
Confederate flag paraphernalia. Don't get me wrong. I actually think 
the tidal wave of sentiment to remove the last vestiges of this symbol 
of slavery and racism is significant. That flag has quietly endorsed 
conscious and subconscious racism, particularly in the South--but 
really all across the country--for as long as it has continued to be 
perceived as a mainstream American symbol.
  The events of the last few days are also important because they show 
that people of all political stripes--conservatives and liberals, 
Democrats and Republicans--have been so emotionally moved by the 
shooting in Charleston that they were inspired to some sort of action. 
That matters.
  But removing the Confederate flag is a necessary but totally, 
completely insufficient response to Charleston. Taking down a flag from 
a building is a pretty easy giveback. Deciding to spend billions of 
dollars to make sure that troubled young men get the help they need for 
their sickness is harder, and so is taking on the gun industry and 
listening to the 90 percent of Americans who want to make sure 
criminals aren't a continued profit center for the gun makers and 
sellers.
  Now, Walmart should be congratulated for ceasing sales of the 
Confederate flag, but they still advertise an assault weapon online 
that even their description concedes is designed for use by law 
enforcement and the military. Did you know that last year there were at 
least 92 shootings in Walmart? Some 16 people died, and 42 people were 
injured by guns in Walmart. Getting rid of the Confederate flag from 
their shelves isn't going to help that unbelievably disturbing trend.
  So we need real action, a real debate. We need a real, honest policy 
to happen here. And, no, it is not all about guns. It is about mental 
health, it is about law enforcement, and it is about a culture of 
violence and hate that we have just become immune to.
  In South Carolina, Reverend Pinckney knew something about real 
action. He supported things like expanded background checks and body 
cameras for police, maybe because he came from a family of action. His 
father and grandfather were both pastors who fought to end White-only 
political primaries and segregated school busing. He wasn't just about 
condemnation. He lived his life to effectuate political

[[Page S4561]]

change. Last night, at the Sandy Hook Promise dinner, I chatted with my 
friend Mark Barden. His son, Daniel, massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary 
School by a young man wielding a military-style assault weapon with 
cartridges of 30 bullets apiece, would have just finished third grade 
last week. Mark recalled how special Danny was and how Daniel, just 6 
years old, lived a life of action, too. Daniel was that kid who sensed 
when other children were hurting. His dad told me last night how Daniel 
would see little kids sitting alone at lunch with no one to talk to, 
and Daniel would go over, sit down next to them, and make a new friend, 
just because it was the right thing to do.
  Reverend Pinckney and little Daniel Barden knew the difference 
between words and actions. They understood that actions are what really 
count.
  The U.S. gun homicide rate is 20 times higher than that of our 22 
peer nations. And 86 people die every day from guns--that is 4 Sandy 
Hooks, 10 Charlestons every day. Since Sandy Hook, there has been a 
school shooting, on average, every week.
  How on Earth can we live with ourselves if we do nothing or, worse, 
if we don't even try.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.


                        King v. Burwell Decision

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I wish to spend the next few minutes 
speaking about the Supreme Court and particularly the fact that the 
Supreme Court has some big cases they are going to hand down probably 
tomorrow, Friday, and Monday, before they adjourn for the summer.
  I particularly wish to speak about King v. Burwell, which, as the 
Presiding Officer knows, could be the beginning of the end of 
ObamaCare. In the process, it also will potentially disrupt the health 
care coverage for more than 6 million Americans. The Court could issue 
its decision, as I said, as early as tomorrow. What they will decide is 
whether the IRS is bound by the law which Congress writes and which is 
signed by the President or whether they can make it up on their own.
  Specifically, the case challenges the legality of subsidies provided 
to 6 million people in up to 37 States that they have depended on to 
buy their ObamaCare-approved policies, including about 1 million in my 
State of Texas.
  If the Court rules against the IRS, it will literally be the third 
strike against ObamaCare from the Supreme Court of the United States. 
It would serve as yet another reminder of the administration's 
overreach of its authority under the Constitution--a practice that has 
become disturbingly routine.
  This administration and our friends across the aisle have failed to 
own up to the repeated demonstrations of the flaws of ObamaCare since 
it passed in March of 2010. The biggest problem is that this is 
partisan legislation jammed through Congress that no Republican in the 
Senate voted for, so the responsibility lies clearly at their feet.
  Through this law, the administration has wasted billions of dollars 
on exchanges that have failed to function properly. My colleagues may 
recall that the President even called the healthcare.gov exchange--
which was so broken and just didn't work--a disaster. The President 
himself said that.
  It is also based on a system that grows the bureaucracy at the 
expense of legitimate, needed health care delivery. I would have 
thought that if Congress was going to reform health care, it would 
certainly include reducing the cost and making it more affordable. 
However, time after time, we have seen that ObamaCare has actually 
driven up costs. Just last month, one study noted that nearly $274 
billion of projected ObamaCare spending will end up going to its 
implementation--bureaucratic and administrative costs--and not actually 
for health care. That is $274 billion. Do we think that money could 
have been better spent providing people with health care policies they 
can afford and access to the doctors and the hospitals they need?
  Today, ObamaCare has utterly failed to live up to the many promises 
the President and congressional Democrats made to the American people. 
Seeing the Presiding Officer in the chair reminds me that both he and I 
served as attorneys general in our States. One of my responsibilities 
in Texas--and no doubt the Presiding Officer's as well--was to enforce 
our consumer protection laws. Can my colleagues imagine, if anybody 
other than the Federal Government had made the series of promises the 
President and congressional Democrats made under ObamaCare that proved 
over time to be demonstrably false, whether a company in the private 
sector could withstand the flood of lawsuits by the Attorney General 
and other consumer protection officials against that company?
  I guess the fact is that there is very little recourse to the 
American people--certainly the courts--to enforce our consumer 
protection laws against the outright deceit and misleading promises 
that were made in order to sell ObamaCare, which are clearly, as time 
has demonstrated, not true.
  The President's trail of broken promises has instead led us to a 
damaged health care system and a limping economy. There is a reason why 
the economy shrunk last quarter by 0.7 percent. What that means is that 
fewer people can find work and their wages are depressed. We need our 
economy to grow. But as long as additional and heavy burdens, such as 
ObamaCare and unnecessary regulations, are imposed on the private 
sector, those jobs and those rising wages are simply not going to 
exist.
  This week, many are rightly concerned that, depending on what the 
Supreme Court decides, millions of people will lose their access to 
health care should the Court rule against the President. I must point 
out that is a feature of ObamaCare. That is not the fault of the 
Supreme Court, and it is not the fault of the opponents of ObamaCare; 
it is the fault of the President and of the people who passed ObamaCare 
because this will be a feature of ObamaCare, this failed law.
  Having said where the responsibility lies, while we didn't contribute 
to getting the country in this mess, we are ready, willing, and able to 
provide an off-ramp for the millions of people who may have their 
health care interrupted. My State, as I indicated earlier, is not 
immune. Close to 1 million Texans could suddenly see their costs shoot 
up. So I am here to emphatically say to the Texans whose health care 
coverage may be disrupted: We will not leave you out in the cold as a 
casualty of this flawed law, and we will no longer allow this flawed 
piece of legislation to cause additional hardship for hard-working 
Texas families.
  In order to protect Americans and Texans who may lose their health 
care coverage if the Court decides against the President and against 
the IRS, we are prepared, having worked for months now, to protect 
those who need it as they transition out of ObamaCare.
  Make no mistake about it--this will be the beginning of the end of 
ObamaCare if the Court rules for the plaintiff in King v. Burwell.
  At the same time, we plan to provide an end to the individual and 
employer mandates, the opportunity for States to opt out of ObamaCare, 
and finally, an end to government-backed health care that the American 
people don't want, don't need, and cannot afford.
  There is a better alternative. If the Supreme Court rules for King, 
we will offer the American people what ObamaCare never could--options, 
choices, and the freedom to choose the health care coverage they want 
at a price they can afford. Most importantly, we want to allow 
individuals as well as the States to opt out of this disastrous law all 
across the country. In doing so, Americans can get what they actually 
need and not what government tells them they must buy. By empowering 
States to opt out, we put the States back in the driver's seat. I must 
say, every public opinion poll I have seen indicates that the people 
have a lot more confidence in the ability of the States to deal with 
their health care needs than they do the Federal Government, 
particularly in light of the failed experiment over the last 5 years. 
We put the States back in

[[Page S4562]]

the driver's seat and allow them the flexibility they need to more 
effectively lower costs and increase choices.
  So while we didn't create this mess, we are ready to do our best to 
work together to protect the American people from any more harm caused 
by this legislation. The American people deserve real, patient-centered 
reforms which, again, lower costs, making it more affordable, and 
increase access to care--not the opposite.
  If the Court delivers what could be a third strike against ObamaCare, 
my colleagues and I are eager to provide the American people with the 
freedom and the options they need in order to get the best health care 
available at a price they can afford.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, as we are moving toward concluding debate 
on trade promotion authority, I rise to speak about what the Trans-
Pacific Partnership will mean for our Nation's global standing. As we 
have heard throughout this debate, the potential economic benefits from 
TPP for our Nation are simply enormous. According to the Congressional 
Research Service, total trade in goods between TPP member countries 
reached $1.6 trillion in 2014; that is, the nations represented in TPP, 
$1.6 trillion in trade between those countries, representing nearly 40 
percent of all global trade.
  In my own State of Colorado, trade with countries involved in TPP 
currently supports over 265,000 jobs. The nations represented by the 
TPP agreement--the negotiations that are taking place right now--
265,000 jobs in Colorado result from those nations. But we know the TPP 
is more than just an economic agreement. It is a critical test of U.S. 
strategic leadership in the Asia-Pacific region, a region that will be 
integral to our economic and national security for generations to come.
  As stated in the 2015 National Security Strategy:

       Sustaining our leadership depends on shaping an emerging 
     global economic order that continues to reflect our interests 
     and our values. Despite its success, our rules-based system 
     is now competing against alternative, less-open models. . . . 
     To meet this challenge, we must be strategic in the use of 
     our economic strength to set new rules of the road, 
     strengthen our partnerships, and promote inclusive 
     development.

  Those are important words from the National Security Strategy issued 
just this year. Defense Secretary Ash Carter echoed that sentiment when 
he said on April 6, 2015, the ``TPP is as important to me as another 
aircraft carrier.'' If we fail to pass the TPP, we know others will 
rush to fill the vacuum left behind with such ``alternative, less-open 
models,'' as the National Security Strategy laid out.
  So we should not be surprised when a rising China tries to fill the 
vacuum and that they would, indeed, exert efforts to fill that vacuum 
with policies and programs crafted from their own vision of what is 
beneficial for themselves and their region.
  Let's take China's recent establishment of the Asian Infrastructure 
and Investment Bank, the AIIB, as an example. On the face of it, the 
AIIB is a positive response to address the infrastructure challenges in 
the region. It is also the clearest evidence yet that the United States 
faces a very serious credibility gap in the Asia-Pacific region. The 
AIIB is envisioned as a $100 billion enterprise, with China as the 
largest shareholder that will hold veto power over major investment 
decisions. Its rules of governance and standards remain unclear.
  Yet 56 nations, including some of the strongest U.S. allies, 
including the United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea, have indicated 
they will join the Chinese-led AIIB. We need to understand why. Do they 
believe the AIIB is primarily an economic opportunity for their 
companies? They might. But I would contend that the reason is a lack of 
leadership from the United States, again going back to that credibility 
gap.
  China is also part of ongoing negotiations for another regional trade 
pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would join 
China, Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea with 
nations comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN. 
In addition to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Beijing 
is also entering negotiations to consider 6 agreements comprised of an 
additional 11 countries.
  That brings China's total trade agreement portfolio to 33 countries. 
While the United States should continue bilateral and multilateral 
economic engagement with China that brings high levels of transparency 
and accountability, the fundamental question before us today is this: 
Do we want the United States or do we want China writing the rules?
  It is clear that while our partners and allies in the region may 
welcome additional Chinese investment, they want more American 
leadership, not less. They want more American standards, not fewer.
  We know the standards TPP and U.S. engagement brings include not only 
important economic benefits, such as removal of tariff or nontariff 
barriers, but fundamental American values such as transparency, good 
governance, respect for the rule of law, and basic human rights.
  U.S. economic statecraft in the Asia-Pacific reflects our values and 
cements our leadership in the critically important region. We must look 
at TPP as just one step forward in this enduring commitment. Despite 
the crises of the day that are occurring in the Middle East, where the 
United States does and should play an important role, our Nation's 
future lies in Asia.
  Just consider the following estimates from the Asian Development 
Bank. By 2050, Asia will account for over half of the global population 
and over half of the world's gross domestic product. The Asian middle 
class will rise to a staggering 3 billion people. Per capita GDP income 
in the region will rise to around $40,000, making it similar to the 
Europe of today.
  We cannot miss the opportunity to be a part of this historic 
transformation. Working with Japan and regional partners, we must 
ensure that our policies strengthen existing friendships and build new 
partnerships that will be critical to U.S. national security and 
economic well-being for generations to come. Unfortunately, the 
administration's efforts to date with regard to the Asia-Pacific region 
have fallen short.
  While I commend the President's leadership on TPP and our Asia 
rebalance, which many of us agreed to, the Asia rebalance policy has 
yielded few tangible results, and it is in need of a serious overhaul. 
The administration has consistently stated that the rebalance 
represented a ``whole-of-government'' effort to redirect U.S. military, 
diplomatic, and commercial service resources toward the Asia-Pacific 
region.
  But in April of 2014, just a year ago, the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee released a report stating that ``while the United States has 
successfully moved forward with the initial phases of implementing the 
military aspects of the rebalance,'' the State Department and the 
Department of Commerce have not substantially prioritized their 
resources to increase engagement with the Asia-Pacific region.
  The report concluded that ``the administration can improve the 
effectiveness and sustainability of the rebalance policy by increasing 
civilian engagement, strengthening diplomatic partnerships, and 
empowering US businesses.''
  It is clear we need an integrated, multiyear planning and budget 
strategy for a rebalancing of the U.S. policy in Asia. That is why I 
was proud to offer an amendment to the National Defense Authorization 
Act that passed unanimously that would require the President to submit 
a strategy within 120 days to promote U.S. interests in the Asia-
Pacific region. Our partners in the region must know every day that the 
United States is here to stay. The TPP is the first step in the 
process.
  This is an important debate that we have this week. Later on today, 
we will have the opportunity to vote for trade promotion authority. I 
hope this Chamber will see the wisdom of passing that legislation--
265,000 jobs in Colorado from a region responsible for TPP,

[[Page S4563]]

responsible for increasing economic opportunity, increasing wage 
growth, and the number of jobs that we have not only in Colorado but 
around this country.
  I yield the floor.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I rise in opposition to fast-track trade 
promotion authority.
  I am a blue-collar Senator. My heart and soul lies with blue-collar 
America. I spent most of my life in a blue-collar neighborhood. My 
mother and father owned a neighborhood grocery store and when Bethlehem 
Steel went on strike, my dad gave those workers credit.
  Blue-collar workers in the labor movement stood with me during my 
first campaign for the House in 1976. I wish there were more of them 
left to stand with me now, but the great manufacturing unions have been 
whittled away. On this fast-track trade vote, and in my last years in 
the Senate, I will continue to stand with the unions.
  Let me be very clear that I support and encourage trade. Trade is 
very important to my State. It is vital to The Port of Baltimore and 
Maryland's agricultural industries such as poultry on the Eastern 
Shore.
  In the past I have supported bilateral trade agreements. We have 
leverage in those situations to get strong enforceable labor and 
environmental provisions into those agreements. We can improve living 
standards and stop child labor in sweatshops. And Maryland workers can 
compete successfully in a global marketplace if they are given a level 
playing field.
  But I have always been suspicious of multilateral agreements such as 
NAFTA. I have seen too many of these big deals fail to deliver the 
promises of new jobs and businesses. Every time somebody talks about a 
big multilateral trade agreement that will provide a cornucopia of 
opportunity, we lose jobs in Baltimore. And my constituents in Dundalk 
don't have a steel industry anymore. They wonder why Congress didn't do 
more to protect them from the effects of trade.
  I believe that a renewal of fast-track trade authority for the Trans-
Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment 
Partnership means more Americans will lose their jobs.
  We should use the leverage of our trade agreements to ensure fair 
competition. That means workers in other countries should have the 
right to organize into unions. Without the strength of collective 
bargaining, their wages will always be below ours. They should also 
have worker safety protection and retirement and health care benefits.
  We should use the leverage of our trade agreements to encourage 
countries to respect the basic human rights of their citizens. Everyone 
deserves the right to live in a healthy, clean, unpolluted environment. 
And every worker should be guaranteed fundamental rights at work.
  Why is the role of Congress so important in trade agreements? To make 
sure that the American people get a good deal. I am ready to support 
trade agreements that are good for America, good for workers, and good 
for the environment. Congress should consider trade legislation and 
amendments using the same procedures we use to consider other 
legislation.
  I have to base my decision on the facts and what I know to be true in 
my State. I know that proponents of fast-track say it is inevitable 
that there will be winners and losers. The problem with these big trade 
deals is that America's workers and their families always seem to be 
the losers. They lose their jobs. If they keep their jobs, or find new 
jobs, they lose the wage rates they have earned. Working people have 
faced the loss of jobs, lower wages, and a reduced standard of living, 
and a shrinking manufacturing base.
  I have to stand with my constituents who have felt repeatedly 
betrayed by the trade deals. I have to vote against fast-track trade 
authority.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.


                        King v. Burwell Decision

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, across the street from the Senate Chamber 
is the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court this week has several important 
cases pending. We are waiting anxiously for decisions, but probably the 
one that affects as many Americans as any other is a case called King 
v. Burwell. King is a case that was brought by someone who was 
objecting to the Affordable Care Act--ObamaCare.
  They are arguing that the bill we passed in the Senate and the House 
did not include a subsidy, a tax credit, for those who are under 
Federal marketplace plans. My State of Illinois is one of those States. 
In Illinois, there are about 232,000 individuals who receive a tax 
credit that allows them to pay for their health insurance. Their income 
levels are such that they need a helping hand, otherwise the health 
insurance premium would be too expensive.
  In my State, the average tax credit that goes to these 232,000 is 
$1,800 a year--not insubstantial--$150 a month. Now, those who brought 
the lawsuit say that the law does not provide this tax credit. I 
believe it clearly does. No one during the course of debating this bill 
ever suggested otherwise. In fact, there were many times when we 
calculated the impact of this law. We always assumed the tax credit 
would be there for families, whether their State had its own State 
insurance exchange or used the Federal exchange, as we do in the State 
of Illinois.
  But the big problem we have is that if the Court rules the other way, 
if those who are critical of the Affordable Care Act--and some of my 
colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been on the floor this 
morning talking about getting rid of the Affordable Care Act--if the 
Court rules in that direction, we are going to have a problem on our 
hands because at least in my State, 232,000 people will see their 
health insurance premiums go up 35 percent, on average, based on that 
Court ruling.
  There are not many working families who can face that kind of 
increase and say, well, it really does not make any difference. It 
makes a big difference--on average $150 a month. For families living 
paycheck to paycheck and struggling who qualify for this tax credit, it 
is a big problem. Many of them will not be able to afford health 
insurance.
  So what happens next? We go back to where we were before: More 
uninsured Americans. I don't know how many people in the Senate Chamber 
who serve here have ever been in a position in their lives where they 
did not have health insurance and needed it. I have. Newly married, my 
wife and I had a baby with a serious health issue. We had no health 
insurance. It is a humbling experience, as a father, as a husband, to 
be in that position. It means hoping you get the best medical care and 
hoping you can pay for it.
  For many families across America, that was the standard before the 
Affordable Care Act. But because of the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, 
we now have fewer people uninsured in America. That is a good thing, 
not just because it gives you peace of mind and access to quality 
health care but because uninsured people still get sick. When they get 
sick and go to the hospital, their expenses that they can't cover 
because they don't have health insurance are passed along to everyone 
else. How can that possibly be a good outcome?
  So the Affordable Care Act has increased the number of people across 
America who have health insurance by about 11 million people--not 
insubstantial. It has reduced the uninsured rate, as I mentioned, 3\1/
2\ percent in just a 1- or 2-year period of time. Six million receive 
these tax credits. So there are 6 million families who may not know it, 
but what happens across the street at the Supreme Court this week or 
next week could have a big impact on the family budget.
  I struggle to try to understand those who hate the Affordable Care 
Act like the devil hates Holy water. They cannot stand this notion that 
11 million people have health insurance. They want to get rid of it. 
There are proposals from the other side of the aisle to get rid of the 
Affordable Care Act. They want to eliminate the individual mandate. 
What does that mean? That is the part of the law that says: You have a 
personal responsibility to have health insurance.
  Now, do we run into any other aspect of life where we are required to 
have insurance? Drive a car in my State, you better have automobile 
insurance. Buy a home in my State, virtually every bank requires fire 
insurance. It is a matter of responsibility. So the individual mandate 
not only says to everyone: You need to buy health insurance, it helps 
those who are in low-income

[[Page S4564]]

categories, and it is a critical part of the big picture.
  Here is the big picture: If we are going to say, as we do in this 
law, that no health insurance company can discriminate against you 
because of a preexisting condition that you have or that someone in 
your family has--if we are going to say that, the only way it works in 
the insurance business is if you have a lot of people who are in that 
insurance pool. That includes people with preexisting conditions.
  So when the Republicans argue: We are going to get rid of the 
individual mandate, you can sign up if you want to, the people who run 
insurance companies say: It doesn't work. You have to have a pool with 
a lot of people in it: healthy and those not so healthy. Otherwise, you 
cannot write insurance that is going to work. What else has happened 
because of the Affordable Care Act? The rate of growth in health care 
costs has started--just started--to come down. It does not have to come 
down much to have a dramatic impact on our economy.
  This Affordable Care Act, incidentally, which many on the other side 
are cheering to have it abolished--this Affordable Care Act, according 
to the Congressional Budget Office, is going to cut $353 billion in 
deficit. How could that be?
  Because one of the largest drivers of cost to the Federal Government 
is the cost of health care. If the rate of growth in the cost of health 
care just takes a little dip down and you project it out, it is big 
dollars.
  We even used what many Republicans believe is holy writ called 
dynamic scoring. We even said: Take a look. Use dynamic scoring, and 
tell us what impact it has on the deficit.
  It turns out that even with dynamic scoring, our Affordable Care Act 
reduces the deficit by $137 billion. It works. More people are being 
insured. Folks cannot be denied insurance because of a preexisting 
condition. The overall cost of health care is starting to dip down. It 
brings down the deficit. What part of that isn't good news? I think it 
is all good news.
  For a lot of individuals who live in my home State of Illinois, it is 
pretty personal. I have met with them. Last week, in my newsletter I 
asked people to share with me their experiences with the Affordable 
Care Act. The response was overwhelming, and the majority was positive.
  Danny Blight lives in Germantown Hills, IL. He was diagnosed with 
bladder cancer in 2005. At the time, he was lucky enough to have a job 
with health insurance, but then he was fired and let go. He lost his 
health insurance, and he couldn't afford coverage because of his 
preexisting condition, his history of cancer, and he required surgery 
to treat his cancer. According to Danny, he relied on the local sisters 
of St. Francis to provide basic care for him and his family when he 
couldn't afford health insurance until the Affordable Care Act became 
the law. Now Danny Blight and his family have health insurance. Is this 
an important law for them? It may be the most important thing we have 
done in Congress when it comes to this family.
  I got in a debate back in my own hometown once with a group who 
opposes this law. They were of the opposite political faith, and I knew 
it. They had some pretty strong feelings about the role and the size of 
government, and they said as much. I would answer them by saying: Well, 
let me tell you about a family I met. Let me tell you about this 
family.
  Finally, one man stood, raised his hand, and said: Stop telling 
stories. We don't want to hear these stories.
  I know why they didn't want to hear it--because these stories are 
reality. These stories don't reflect political philosophy so much as 
the reality of life for a lot of people across America.
  We know that discriminating against families because of preexisting 
conditions is a real problem. We know there are many families, for 
example, with a history of some illness, even mental illness, who in 
days gone by had no chance to have health insurance.
  There were two other things we did in this law, and I don't 
understand why the other party wants to get rid of these provisions. 
The Affordable Care Act says that if you have a child graduating from 
college, your family health insurance plan can cover them until they 
reach the age of 26. Why is that important? Because many times young 
people coming fresh out of college have a lot of student debt and no 
job--no full-time job--and very few of them have health insurance 
immediately, and they think they are invincible.
  I remember reaching out to my daughter when she graduated from 
college.
  I said: Jen, what about health insurance?
  Dad, don't worry about it. I feel fine.
  Well, I did worry about it, and a lot of parents do. So our law says 
you can keep your recent college graduate under your family plan until 
they reach the age of 26. Why would you want to get rid of that? Why 
would someone want to eliminate that provision in the law?
  The other thing it says is that if you are a senior and you are on 
Medicare--the Part D, which provides your prescription drugs, used to 
have what is called a doughnut hole in it. What that meant was Medicare 
would cover your prescription drugs to a certain point and then stop, 
and you had to go to your savings account, pull out about $1,200, pay 
for your prescription drugs, and then coverage would start again. The 
doughnut hole is what we called it. We filled it. We filled it so 
seniors don't have to worry about going to their savings to make sure 
they can keep taking prescriptions that keep them independent, strong, 
and healthy. What is wrong with that idea? Why do they want to get rid 
of that? That is part of the Affordable Care Act as well.
  I just wonder sometimes if those who get all tied up over the 
philosophy of this legislation deal with the reality of family life in 
America.
  Jean Terrien and her husband Michael live in Evanston, IL. They are 
both cancer survivors. Jean had breast cancer at age 45, and Michael 
had prostate cancer at the same age. Neither could purchase insurance 
before the Affordable Care Act because of preexisting medical 
conditions in their family. Because of this law, they have an 
affordable policy, and Jean is able to do freelance work without having 
to worry about health insurance. She told me she worries about losing 
her coverage if the Supreme Court goes the wrong way or if the majority 
party here gets their wish and abolishes the Affordable Care Act. I 
think we owe it to them to strengthen the law and not to repeal it.
  The Affordable Care Act, incidentally, has been very good when it 
comes to Medicare. Because of the Affordable Care Act and the slowdown 
in the rate of growth in health care costs, Medicare will have an 
additional 13 years of solvency. How about that. I worried about it for 
many years. I still do. But it is good news to us, to know that we 
have, in the Medicare Part A trust fund, 13 years more solvency since 
the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The trustees of the Medicare 
Program in 2010 said that the Affordable Care Act ``substantially 
improved'' the financial status of Medicare. Is that a good thing for 
America? Forty million Americans think it is. Those are the people who 
depend on Medicare.
  The law is helping seniors with their prescription drugs, as I 
mentioned earlier, and it is a savings of about $925 a year for each 
senior in America.
  So for those who are cheering and hoping the Supreme Court will 
somehow derail the Affordable Care Act, my questions are very direct: 
What do you have to replace it? What will you do to deal with 
preexisting conditions and denying health insurance? What will you do 
to make sure parents can keep their kids under their health insurance 
plans until the kids reach age 26? What will you do to fill the 
doughnut hole? What will you do to replace the deficit reduction the 
Affordable Care Act has achieved? What will you do in terms of the 
long-term solvency of Medicare to make up for the 13 years the 
Affordable Care Act has purchased?
  And the answer is, they don't have an idea. They just don't like it. 
They don't like ObamaCare, and they don't want to hear these stories, 
just like the folks whom I debated with in my hometown, because these 
stories reflect the reality of life.


                    North Central Illinois Tornadoes

  Mr. President, it was 2 months ago when I came to the floor and 
talked about tornadoes in my State of Illinois, the north central part 
of the State. We

[[Page S4565]]

had it again on Monday night. Nine twisters tore through the small 
towns in five Illinois counties Monday evening, accompanied by 
baseball-sized hail, flooding rains, and wind damage. Grundy, Lee, 
Kankakee, Will, and Whiteside Counties all experienced severe damage.
  One of the towns that was hardest hit was Coal City in Grundy County, 
IL. Here is a photo of Grundy County and some of the damage. You can 
see the destruction. The National Weather Service said the tornado that 
struck this town was an EF-3, winds of 160 miles an hour. Some of the 
homes had the roofs ripped off and others were just flattened. Debris 
was scattered across the town. Many roads were impassible. There were 
downed power lines and trees, and there was flooding. This is the 
second tornado to hit Coal City in 2 years.
  As soon as the twister passed Monday night, the first responders--God 
bless them--went door to door to try to make sure the 5,000 people 
there were accounted for. Thank goodness there were no fatalities or 
life-threatening injuries.
  This tight-knit community is pulling together to help the victims. 
One man who lives in Coal City, Rick Druse, said he was lucky that one 
of his neighbors came to find him and his family--they were trapped in 
a crawl space. The homeowner across from Rick also was trapped in his 
home, which had been flattened by the storm. Power was knocked out for 
roughly 61,000 customers, and some are still waiting for it to be 
restored.
  Yesterday, we reached out to Terri Halliday, the mayor of Coal City. 
We have spoken with Grundy County Board chair David Welter and Lee 
County Board chair Rick Ketchum.
  My staff connected with Sterling mayor Skip Lee and Whiteside County 
Board chair Jim Duffy about the tornado that struck Sterling. That is 
another town which is also dealing with flooding. I reached out to each 
of them last night and, not surprisingly, had to leave voice mails. I 
know they were out and about. But we are there to help them if we can.
  As is so often the case with disasters such as this, first 
responders, friends, and family waste no time helping their neighbors. 
It isn't just a Midwestern thing, but we are pretty proud of it in the 
Midwest. I have no doubt that the people in Coal City, Sublette, 
Sterling, and all of the others are going to stand up and help one 
another clean up, rebuild, and get on with their lives.
  My thoughts are with the many people today who have lost their homes 
and other property.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lankford). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                      Nuclear Agreement With Iran

  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, I wish to speak a little bit about an 
agreement that very well could be reached between now and the time that 
the Senate returns right after the Fourth of July. The agreement has 
been negotiated for 2 years now with Iran, although it seems to me that 
using the term ``negotiation'' is a stretch. As to most of what we said 
we wanted to achieve in this so-called negotiation, the Iranians have 
said they didn't want to achieve it. We seem then to move forward to 
the next point once we concede that point.
  Yesterday, I read in press reports that the State Department has now 
decided it will not demand a full accountability for the past nuclear 
research on the part of Iran before they conclude a deal. One of the 
early statements was: We want to know what Iran did, how long they had 
been doing it, what scientists were involved, what material, and what 
information they had achieved in their efforts to actually have a 
nuclear weapon.
  It appears now that we are happy if Iran is just nuclear-weapons 
capable, with a clock that would start at some time, and we seem to 
feel we suddenly have a new ability to monitor everything Iran does 
even though we don't appear to have the ability to get them to tell us 
what they have done.
  As I have said before, this is one of the areas where there is no 
question that no deal is better than a bad deal.
  According to the State Department, which recently reported again that 
Iran should still be considered a country that encourages terrorism; 
that, in fact, you can make the case that there is no greater 
encourager of terrorist activities in the world today than Iran--but 
all of those things seem to be off the table as we talk to Iran.
  The true nature of the regime, and why we want to have an agreement 
on just a nuclear program and not all of the other things Iran has 
going on, continues to be of great concern to me.
  The news reports today were that the Iranian Parliament, the Iranian 
legislature will now finalize legislation demanding that we not be able 
to look at military sites as part of our inspection. If the goal here 
is to stop Iran from having a nuclear capability, having a nuclear 
weapon, having a military capacity to use a nuclear weapon, why would 
we take military sites off the list of things we are supposed to pay 
attention to? Where would we expect them to be finally developing a 
weapon if not at a military site?
  The Iranian Parliament appears to have a whole lot more to say about 
this negotiation than the Senate. In fact, I am afraid we are going to 
find with the legislation that we did vote on that it is going to be a 
lot easier to prevent disapproval than it would have ever been to get 
approval of this agreement that looks like it is headed toward a very 
bad agreement.
  The Supreme Leader of Iran has ruled out any long-term freezes of 
nuclear activities and demands that sanctions be lifted immediately. A 
few weeks ago, when the United States said what our understanding of 
the framework moving forward would be--it seems to be about 180 degrees 
different from what Iran is announcing every day. They want immediate 
sanctions relief. We say they are only going to get sanctions relief 
when they begin to comply. They don't want to have inspections at 
military sites. We say one of the reasons we want to have this 
agreement is so we can ensure that nothing happens at military sites.
  Meanwhile, Iran advances violence and instability around the world. 
Supported by Iran, Assad in Syria is massacring his own people. So far, 
at least 190,000 Syrians have been killed in what is going on in Syria 
today. Iran is supporting that regime. Shiite militias support Assad. 
They promote division and wage violence outside of Syria, now into 
Iraq, encouraged by Iran. Supported by Iran, Houthi rebels have seized 
key territory in Yemen and seek to overthrow the government.
  By the way, I remind the President that this was something which less 
than a year ago President Obama said was a great example of how our 
foreign policy under his leadership was working, that Yemen was an 
example. Only a few months later, we are fleeing the country and 
closing our Embassy. Actually, the President may have been right. Maybe 
Yemen is a great example of how our foreign policy is working.
  Hezbollah and Lebanon wage terrorism against Israel, encouraged by 
Iran.
  Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, encouraged by Iran, continue to lob 
mortars and rockets into Israel.
  Last April, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard stopped a Marshall 
Islands-flagged ship in the Strait of Hormuz.
  Iran continues to hold hostages without any reasonable charge. Three 
American citizens--Pastor Saeed Abedini, former U.S. marine Amir 
Hekmati, and Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian--are being held 
by Iran. A fourth American, former FBI official Robert Levinson, is 
missing and is in Iran, with no assistance from Iran to find him. In 
fact, they don't know exactly where he is. I have repeatedly called, as 
others in the Congress have, on the administration to just stop 
negotiations until there is a show of good faith to let these Americans 
go.
  I saw a few days ago that Pastor Abedini was beaten again in the 
prison he has been put in, the most dangerous prison in Iran.
  How could we not get three people whom they are holding under charges 
that will not stand up to any public view? How could we allow them to 
continue to hold these people while we continue to have talks about 
something like letting this country become nuclear capable?

[[Page S4566]]

  Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was arrested after security 
forces raided his home. His case was referred to a Revolutionary Court 
on January 14 of this year, but details of his charges and details of 
his court date have not been released. His mother is concerned--as we 
all should be--about his health, which is deteriorating as he is being 
imprisoned. Recent reports would suggest that this Washington Post 
reporter is being charged with espionage.
  Pastor Abedini was imprisoned in September of 2012. In January of 
2013, he was sentenced to 8 years in prison for ``practicing his 
religion.'' That is his crime--practicing his religion. The Iranian 
Government charged that Pastor Abedini was undermining the Iranian 
Government by creating a network of Christian house churches and 
attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam. In August of 2013, 
his appeal was denied. He was then put in the worst prison in the 
country. He has been beaten up in prison. I think he was beaten in the 
hospital when he had to be taken there, as his life had almost ended 
with prison beatings. Why do they still have him?
  Why do they have Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. marine who was arrested 
while visiting his family in Iran in August of 2011? The Iranian 
Government sentenced him to death for espionage. Fortunately, his death 
sentence was overturned by an appeals court in March of 2012. However, 
he was still convicted of aiding a hostile nation--that would be us, by 
the way--and was found guilty of espionage.
  Bob Levinson, who is a retired DEA and FBI agent, disappeared in 
March of 2007 while visiting Iran's Kish Island. It is very likely, 
many people believe, that Mr. Levinson is currently a prisoner in Iran. 
Just 3 weeks after he disappeared, Iranian state television reported 
that he was in the hands of Iranian security forces.
  Why are we assuming that the Iranians will agree to something much 
more complicated when they will not let these four people go? Why 
wouldn't we insist on that?
  Finally, Iran is responsible for killing and maiming thousands of 
American service men and women in Iraq and Iran from deadly, armor-
piercing improvised explosive devices that originated in Iran. They 
don't deny it. I think they take pride in it.
  The destabilizing impact of a nuclear weapons-capable Iran is hard to 
overstate. If you want to do one thing to cast a huge shadow over the 
next decade and perhaps decades of this century--unless that shadow 
somehow is removed before the end of the decade, it is hard to imagine.
  Sanctions, with the credible threat of military force, were doing 
good until we decided we would ease those sanctions if Iran would come 
to the negotiating table. That began 2 years ago. Two years ago we said 
things we would insist on. Two years later, none of those things appear 
to be things that are still being discussed in these Iranian so-called 
negotiations.
  Sanctions should stay in place until Iran fundamentally changes its 
course and its behavior.
  I am greatly concerned that the agreement on Iran's nuclear program 
will not be presented to the Congress in a way that allows the Congress 
to really weigh in, and I am concerned that this program as it will be 
presented to the Congress will establish Iran as a nuclear-capable, 
nuclear-threshold state. When that happens, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the 
UAE, and Jordan have all stated they will claim the exact same rights 
to do whatever it is we allow Iran to do. If we come up with an 
agreement that says Iran will be within 6 months of having a nuclear 
weapon and that they have to tell us when they start that 6-month 
clock, other countries will also want to be within 6 months of a 
nuclear weapon.
  If we believe we can monitor Iran within 6 months or 12 months or 
whatever the number is, I think we are kidding ourselves, and most of 
the world doesn't believe we can do this either.
  Turkey and other countries outside of the immediate neighborhood will 
also want to view nuclear weapons capability as a new status quo in a 
dangerous world.
  An agreement that doesn't change the terror threat from Iran, an 
agreement that doesn't allow inspection of military facilities, an 
agreement that doesn't disclose past secret research for nuclear 
weapons, an agreement that doesn't ensure long-term inspections, an 
agreement that doesn't maintain sanctions in place until important 
compliance benchmarks are made is not an agreement that would be good 
enough.
  We are facing a dangerous time. Iran is one of the chief perpetrators 
of terrorism in the world today. How we let that country that has one 
example of bad behavior after another, one example of hatred for Israel 
after another, one example of contempt for the United States after 
another, how we let that country become nuclear capable is amazing to 
me, as it is to the world. That is why our friends question whether 
they can depend on the United States of America any longer and why our 
enemies aren't afraid of us, as you would want your enemies to be.
  I hope we don't settle for a bad deal. I will say again that a bad 
deal is worse than no deal at all.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.


                              Gun Violence

  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, last night a number of us from this 
Chamber and many of us from across the country gathered for a 
remarkable evening to support and honor an organization called Sandy 
Hook Promise. It is an organization that was created in the wake of the 
horrific, unspeakable tragedy in Newtown that involved the mass murder 
of 20 beautiful, innocent children and 6 great educators. Sandy Hook 
Promise was created to make some good come of this horrific evil, to 
protect children against violence and prevent more gun violence around 
the country, to advance the cause of mental health and wellness, and to 
make sure that no one is alone, no one eats alone, no one suffers 
alone, and no one endures mental illness alone.
  Sandy Hook Promise is a wonderful, inspiring organization, and I was 
proud to serve as the cochairman of this event, along with my great 
colleague, Chris Murphy, who has been a partner in efforts to stop gun 
violence in this Chamber and in Connecticut and around the country. I 
was also proud that the dinner and evening honored two of our 
colleagues, Senator Debbie Stabenow, a wonderful friend and 
distinguished Member of this body from Michigan, and Pat Toomey, our 
friend from Pennsylvania, who added his name and the weight of his 
support to a measure in the last session that seeks to protect children 
against gun violence by imposing a universal background check.

  The evening was designed to honor our two colleagues, but it was also 
so inspiring for me to hear from Nicole Hockley, Mark Barden, and Bill 
Sherlach, whose lives were transformed and changed forever on that 
horrific day.
  I will never forget that day when I arrived at the firehouse in Sandy 
Hook and seeing the grief and pain experienced by those families who 
learned for the first time that their beautiful children would not be 
coming home that night. The searing memory of their faces and voices 
will be with me forever. Their courage and strength in the wake of that 
tragedy will inspire me forever.
  It inspired many of our colleagues to vote for the commonsense, 
sensible measures that Senator Toomey and Senator Manchin of West 
Virginia helped to spearhead. It was a bipartisan package of measures 
that was advanced and advocated so ably by them and many of us 
tirelessly in those days before the vote. A majority of Senators voted 
in favor of that package of measures. Unfortunately, that majority did 
not reach 60 votes. But last night was a time to renew and redouble our 
efforts to prevent gun violence and to take positive, constructive, 
commonsense, sensible steps to help prevent it around the country.
  At the very outset of the evening, both Senator Murphy and I 
requested a moment of silence to honor the loved ones and families in 
Charleston, SC. Our hearts and prayers go out to them, as they have 
since that unimaginable tragedy. It was a violation of not only human 
life but the sanctity of a place of worship, just as Newtown involved 
the violation of a place we regard as among the safest, our 
schoolhouse--killing our schoolchildren.
  When we finished that moment of silence, I am sure all of us retained 
the

[[Page S4567]]

grief and pain. We in Connecticut know and understand that grief and 
pain and outrage because we remember that day when we felt it in the 
same way the people of Charleston felt it when nine people were killed. 
Their families were left with holes in their hearts just as we were on 
that day in Newtown.
  But the message of last night was not one of despair or desperation, 
it was one of hope and energy. That message came from Nicole Hockley, 
Mark Barden, and Bill Sherlach, the families of the Sandy Hook tragedy 
who came here to Washington. They have continued their work through 
Sandy Hook Promise and other organizations to make some good come from 
that evil.
  We can do it. We can make sure this country does more than grieve and 
remember. We need to redouble our commitment as a nation to make our 
Nation safer and better, not just for those 9 innocent people in the 
church in Charleston or the 26 innocent people in a schoolhouse in 
Sandy Hook but for the 11,000 people who are killed every year on the 
streets of Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, in our rural and suburban 
communities, and on our military bases. Every year, 11,000 people 
throughout our country die from gun violence.
  We will never eliminate all gun violence. We will never stop all of 
the deaths and killings, but we can save lives. That is what the 
families of Newtown said to me in the wake of their tragedy, and that 
is what I hope our Nation will say to itself in the wake of the 
Charleston tragedy. We will never stop all evil, but we can take a 
stand and stop some of it.
  Last night, I recalled the conversation I had with one of the moms 
when I was at the funeral of her child. When I approached her, I said, 
somewhat apprehensively: When you are ready, I would like to talk to 
you about what we can do together to stop gun violence in this country. 
And she said, with tears in her eyes: I am ready now. That was the 
spirit the families from Newtown brought to our Capitol. That is the 
spirit I hope we can honor with action and not just with words on the 
floor of the Senate or in the eulogies that will be given tomorrow.
  We need to have an answer for those victims of Charleston and Newtown 
and the 11,000 people who die needlessly and senselessly every year 
from gun violence. We need to answer the question that all of us have: 
What can we do to stop gun violence? And there are some answers, such 
as background checks, a ban on illegal trafficking, an end to straw 
purchases, mental health initiatives, and school safety. Those are some 
answers, and we should think of other solutions. We need to work 
together, just as Sandy Hook Promise has done, regardless of party, 
race or religion, where we live or what our interest is because we have 
a common, shared interest in making our Nation safer and better.
  That is why honoring both Pat Toomey and Debbie Stabenow was so 
meaningful, because they have given so much with their courage and 
leadership and have helped to make our Nation safer and better.
  The killer in Charleston was not just a murderer, he was a domestic 
terrorist. He meant to terrify, not just kill. He meant to start a race 
war. He was a racist and White supremacist, and, rightly, has been 
regarded as someone who came to that church not just to target innocent 
worshippers but an entire community. He targeted the town of 
Charleston, the State of South Carolina, and our Nation. His message 
was not about hate for specific individuals, it was hate for an entire 
race.
  We should recognize domestic terrorism and racism for what it is. We 
are not the only country with racists, but we are a country with a 
uniquely high number of gun violence incidents.
  The shooting in Charleston was a physical manifestation of ideas that 
go beyond this murderer. To prevent future shootings, we must 
understand and undercut the ideas for which he killed so he could 
advance. We need to call this problem for what it is and understand it 
and fight it. Hate-inspired domestic terrorism is an evil all its own.
  We can make progress against gun violence. We know we can, just as 
surely as 10 days ago no one thought the Confederate flag on State 
grounds in South Carolina would ever be removed. No one ever thought, 
plausibly, that the Governor of South Carolina would ever advocate it, 
and now that has happened, just as commonsense, sensible measures 
against gun violence can happen. We can prevail. Nobody thought before 
Ronald Reagan was almost assassinated and Jim Brady was paralyzed that 
the Brady bill would ever be passed. In fact, it took 10 years.
  So we are here in a marathon, not a sprint. We are here for the long 
haul. We are not going away, not giving up, not abandoning this fight, 
and not surrendering to the forces of domestic terrorism or racial 
hatred or gun violence. We are better than that as a nation.
  As we leave and go back home for this recess, I hope we will not only 
share the grief and pain of those brave and courageous families in 
South Carolina who were so heroic in the face of evil but resolve that 
we will redouble our efforts to raise awareness and organize people who 
are of good will and want to stop gun violence and who need to be heard 
because the vast majority of the American people want us to take 
commonsense, sensible measures to make America safer and better.
  I thank the Presiding Officer.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tillis). The Senator from Indiana.


                           Wasteful Spending

  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, today, I am back on the floor of the Senate 
for the 15th installment of the waste of the week. We all know the debt 
clock is ticking and that the Federal Government is racking up 
trillions of dollars of debt, which will have to be paid off at some 
point in the future by our generation and more likely our children and 
our grandchildren.
  It is unsustainable. It is going to cause immense harm. It is 
something that has been ignored as of late, but we are unable to move 
forward with any kind of constructive solution to this problem or 
putting us on a path to deal with this because the President of the 
United States simply refuses to come to an agreement in terms of how to 
deal with this and, in fact, doesn't even bother to mention it.
  We also have an issue that is part of the problem; that is, an 
inefficient, ineffective use of taxpayer money here in Washington. The 
money that was hard-earned by the people back home and then deducted 
from their payroll income and sent to the Federal Government. It is not 
always used in an effective, efficient way to address the necessary and 
essential issues the Federal Government deals with and that we talk 
about here every day. Instead, it goes into programs that can only be 
deemed as waste, fraud, and abuse, and that is what I have been trying 
to highlight for the past 15 weeks as we deal with the waste of the 
week.
  Today, what I would like to talk about is a sweet deal. Everyone 
likes a sweet deal, right? Well, no, not quite everyone and not always. 
But, unfortunately, in this case what is a sweet deal for some is 
actually a raw deal for the American taxpayer. I am talking about the 
sugar subsidy.
  Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the USDA, issues loans 
to sugar producers and allows them to repay those loans with raw sugar 
if sugar prices fall below a certain price. After obtaining the sugar 
through this so-called loan, the USDA ends up with a bunch of sugar 
that it needs to resell, and it resells that sugar at a discounted 
price. As a result, these loans function as a price support for sugar, 
ensuring that sugar producers never sell their product below the price 
determined by the government--not the fair market but by the 
government. This cost taxpayers nearly $300 million in 2013 alone. I 
don't have the figures yet for 2014. I assume that they are the same or 
that they may have fluctuated a little bit up or down, depending on the 
world sugar price.

  If this sweet loan deal for sugar producers isn't enough--$300 
million a year in cost--there is more. In addition to providing a 
subsidy to sugar producers through the program I just described, the 
Federal Government also enforces a system of quotas and tariffs on 
imported sugar, thereby blocking Americans' fair-market access to 
cheaper sugar and resulting in a large difference between the 
international or global price of sugar and domestic sugar prices. In 
fact, the USDA's sugar program has caused the price of American sugar 
to be about 40 percent higher than the global price, resulting in an

[[Page S4568]]

estimated cost to consumers of $3.5 billion annually between the years 
2009 and 2012.
  So when we take these two programs and put them together, they 
effectively function as a mass Federal subsidy of sugar, which drives 
up prices for consumers and provides a double benefit to the sugar 
industry.
  As a result of these two sweet policies, thousands of jobs in sugar-
using industries, particularly candy manufacturers, have been lost, and 
the American taxpayer pays for it all.
  Now, why were these policies put in place in the first place? Well, 
the global price of sugar was much higher in the early 1980s. So the 
idea was that higher sugar prices would result in more sugar growers, 
and the more sugar growers we had, the more sugar would be produced, 
thus lowering the price. That is how fair and free markets work. It is 
a supply-and-demand issue. But government interference through 
subsidies distorts the free-market price of goods, and in the case of 
sugar, it results in a direct hit to the taxpayer and much higher costs 
for the consumer of sugar-based products.
  To this day, the sugar subsidy remains a giveaway to sugar producers 
and a raw deal for sugar consumers. Ice cream, doughnuts, cakes, pies--
we know they are not the healthiest foods to eat, but they are some of 
the more desirable foods that we like to eat, particularly after we 
have been forced to eat broccoli and greens. Our mothers raised us 
saying that you can't have ice cream or cake or pie after dinner unless 
you eat what is on your plate. And so we should suffer through eating 
some of that green stuff--I don't mean to belittle that, it is healthy 
and we should do that, but I'm not going to tell the public what to 
eat. Nevertheless, it is these products and many others that 
incorporate the cost of sugar in making the product that drive up the 
price of the product simply because of the subsidies that are provided 
by this government through its policies to sugar producers.
  The end result is companies not being able to provide the jobs they 
would like to provide or to be the dynamic industry they would like to 
be, and that puts them in a less than competitive position against our 
overseas producers. Many companies in my home State of Indiana have 
been affected by this subsidy. Let me give a couple of examples.
  The Albanese Confectionery Group, Inc., is a renowned Indiana-based 
manufacturer of confections, including the World's Best Gummi Bears--in 
Germany they call them Gooies; here we call them Gummis--Gold Label 
Chocolates, and other products. They are a very successful 
manufacturer. They estimate they could save $3 million annually by 
having access to sugar from the world market price. But, no, they are 
not allowed to do that. They are forced to buy it at the U.S.-
subsidized producer price, which is, as I indicated earlier, roughly 40 
percent more than what they could otherwise pay.
  Lewis Bakeries is headquartered in Evansville, IN, and is one of the 
few remaining independent bakeries in the Midwest and the largest 
wholesale bakery in Indiana, and they have the same issue.
  Artificially high sugar prices contribute directly to increased costs 
that hamstring budgets of businesses such as Lewis Bakeries and other 
bakeries throughout Indiana.
  Artificially high sugar prices affect the large companies also, such 
as Kraft Foods. It has a marshmallow and caramel plant in Kendallville, 
IN. They say that dismantling the sugar program would enhance the 
competitiveness of U.S. food manufacturers.
  If Congress were to terminate the sugar subsidy program, which we 
have tried to do year after year after year and have not succeeded in 
passing it, we could save billions of dollars for U.S. taxpayers, not 
just from the U.S. Treasury but also in the grocery bills of American 
families. These savings could have extremely positive consequences for 
our economy if they were allowed to be used to support the economy.
  According to an Iowa State University study, if the sugar program 
were abolished, domestic sugar prices would fall by roughly a third--
earlier we were talking about 40 percent--saving consumers, said this 
study, at least $2.9 billion to $3.5 billion a year. And according to a 
recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, 
eliminating this subsidy could save the Federal Government at least 
$116 million over 10 years.
  So here we have a subsidized program by the Federal Government that 
is costing consumers billions per year. And here we have a second 
subsidized program by the Federal Government that through its policies 
of pricing and unfair practices, in my opinion, is costing nearly $116 
million a year to American taxpayers. This is a perfect example of an 
outdated government program that is hurting consumers and wasting 
taxpayer dollars. The net effect of the program is that Americans are 
paying higher prices for sugar and more taxes to pay for the sugar 
subsidy.
  So what is a sweet deal for the sugar producers is a raw deal for the 
American consumer. It is a subsidy--a package of subsidies that only go 
to the producers and deny the consumers the right to have reasonable 
prices for sugar in accordance with international pricing.
  I have joined with a bipartisan group of my colleagues in supporting 
legislation, the Sugar Reform Act, introduced by Senator Shaheen from 
New Hampshire, that would end the sugar subsidy. If we could pass this 
legislation, it would result in a savings of at least $116 million, 
according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  So today I add to our chart $116 million of savings that the 
government can claim, moving our chart ever closer to our goal of $100 
billion of savings.
  How do we pay for some essential programs here, and where are we 
going to get the money? Why don't we start here? Why don't we start by 
eliminating some of these programs? Better yet, why don't we let the 
taxpayers keep their hard-earned money rather than send it to 
Washington to pay for waste and abuse that occurs almost on a daily 
basis.
  We are gradually creeping up to our $100 billion goal. I think we are 
going to have to go way beyond that, because these examples just keep 
rolling in. They are documented through nonpartisan agencies related to 
Congress and related to the Federal Government, including inspectors 
general and various programs. Why are we spending this money in the 
first place? The program is wasted, it is abused, and it is misused. It 
doesn't need to be in place.
  So we are going to keep coming to the floor week after week talking 
about the waste of the week. No. 16 is on the way. Stay tuned.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, in just a short period of time here in 
the Senate Chamber we will be voting on fast-track legislation designed 
to create a very quick path through the Senate for the Trans-Pacific 
Partnership and for trade agreements to come thereafter.
  So I rise now to share with my colleagues and to share with the 
American people my concerns about this course of action. It is 
President Kennedy who once said: ``The trade of a nation expresses, in 
a very concrete way, its aims and aspirations.'' What are our aims and 
aspirations in the context of this trade agreement and fast-track?
  From my perspective, the thing that really matters is whether this 
trade agreement will create good-paying jobs or will destroy good-
paying jobs. Will this trade agreement make the American economy work 
better for working Americans? I feel it fails the test. I am going to 
explain why.
  Now, it is true that the trade agreement is complex. It is 
multidimensional. It has a dimension that deals with intellectual 
property, with the extension of copyrights and patents and protections 
for trade secrets. That is certainly a win for protecting an innovation 
economy and innovation by Americans and American companies.
  It has an agricultural section. We have sought out an analysis of the 
agricultural section, but don't have one yet. But those in the know say 
there is a good chance that the tariffs that are

[[Page S4569]]

struck down and the nontariff barriers that are struck down as barriers 
to U.S. products may on balance benefit the U.S. agricultural economy. 
I look forward to an analysis to really examine that in detail.
  But the heart of the trade agreement is about manufacturing. We have 
multinational companies that are seeking to be able to make things at 
the lowest possible cost. That is the heart of this trade agreement, as 
with other trade agreements. That means being able to incorporate into 
an economic circle countries where the costs are very low to make 
things. That is certainly the case with this trade agreement.
  This trade agreement includes a couple of countries that have no 
minimum wage and others that have a very low minimum wage. We are 
really talking about Vietnam, Malaysia, and Mexico. In Vietnam they 
have a regional minimum wage. So it varies from place to place. You 
hear different amounts, but roughly it is 60 to 75 cents per hour. In 
Malaysia it is $1.54. In Mexico it is 66 cents. Well, those are all 
incredibly low compared to the American minimum wage of $7.25.
  Of course, many of our States have State minimum wages that are 
higher. But the minimum wage is only a part of the puzzle. When you 
include the cost of labor in the United States, you have to include 
such things as workers' compensation and set aside expenses for Social 
Security and disability insurance and the cost of maintaining safe 
working standards, which are rigorously enforced.
  So when you compare all of that, you probably have a labor ratio that 
is on the order of about 20 to 1. That is a playing field tilted 
against the American worker at a 20-to-1 ratio for manufacturing. That 
is certainly not a level playing field. Our companies will say time and 
again: Here in America, we will thrive with anyone in the world on a 
level playing field. But when the costs are 20 to 1--that is, when the 
costs overseas in countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Mexico are 
lower than in the United States on a 20-to-1 ratio--that is a playing 
field steeply tilted against the United States.
  So it is no wonder that in previous agreements we have seen an 
increase in trade deficits and a big loss of jobs here in the United 
States of America. Let's take a look at three of those cases.
  In 1993, we signed the North America Free Trade Agreement. That 
incorporated Mexico into our economic circle. So let's compare the 
trade deficit in 1992, a year before, with 2014. In the course of those 
years, the trade deficit increased from $5.3 billion to $53.8 billion. 
That is a massive, massive change. Now, by various estimates that 
translates into a job loss of between 480,000 to 680,000 jobs. So half 
a million Americans lost good-paying jobs as a result of NAFTA.
  Let's take a look at China. China came into the World Trade 
Organization, or WTO, in the year 2000. So let's compare 1999 with 
2014. The trade deficit went from $68.7 billion to $343 billion. That 
is an increase of one-quarter of a trillion dollars. That is not a 
collective amount. That is an annual amount. By various estimates that 
resulted in job losses of between 2.7 million and 3.2 million American 
jobs.
  Or let's look at South Korea. Remember how folks said that this would 
facilitate so much access to consumers in South Korea, and it would not 
have a big impact on our trade deficit? The South Korea agreement was 
signed in 2011 or ratified. So comparing 2010 to 2014--just 4 years--
the trade deficit ballooned. It ballooned from $10 billion to $25 
billion. The resulting job losses are estimated to have been between 
75,000 and 150,000 jobs. Now, when I say jobs, maybe that is abstract. 
So let's translate this to families. Between the low estimates and the 
high estimates, we are talking about 3.3 to 4 million American families 
losing their jobs--good-paying manufacturing jobs. You know, there is 
no better foundation for a family than a good-paying job.
  So when we pull away that foundation by striking agreements that send 
our jobs overseas, that is utterly devastating to families across our 
Nation and certainly to families in my home State of Oregon and 
certainly to families in every single State. So you cannot be pro-
family and also be for shipping our good-paying jobs overseas. There is 
no government program that substitutes for a good-paying job.
  That is why I am so deeply disturbed about the outline of the 
agreement that we are undertaking. Each and every time that 
improvements to wages here in the U.S. come up, the makers will say: If 
you raise your wages, if you add family vacation or family leave or 
sick leave or medical leave or help with daycare for your children--you 
know what--we may just have to move our manufacturing overseas or we 
may have to move our supply chain overseas or we may have to produce 
less at the factory here and more at the factory overseas.
  It does not stop there. The construction that is envisioned by our 
multinational manufacturers in pursuit of their low-cost production is 
not just to play off the United States against Malaysia or the United 
States against Mexico or the United States against Vietnam--although 
all of that will happen--it is also to play off each of those low-cost 
countries against each of them.
  So they can say to China, which has a certain cost structure and is 
not yet envisioned to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership but does 
benefit from WTO access: China, your costs are going up. Oh, you are 
enforcing those environmental laws, and your costs are going up. Oh, 
you are adding health standards, labor standards, and your costs are 
going up. You are paying overtime, and your costs are going up. We are 
going to shift more of our manufacturing to Malaysia, and if you keep 
at it, we will shift all of it.
  Or to Malaysia: You are just close by to Vietnam. Your costs go up, 
and we are going to ship more to Vietnam.
  Or to Vietnam: You raise your standards, you raise your costs, you 
raise your pay, and you raise your standard of living. So we are going 
to move those jobs to Mexico.
  This is tremendous leverage if you are an owner of a multinational, 
if you own stock in a multinational, if you are an investor in a 
multinational, because you can sell--you can produce your product at 
lower costs by playing off economy against economy--at the world market 
price and you make more money.
  But if you are a worker in the United States who is being played 
against a worker in Vietnam, it is a bad deal. If you are a worker in 
Vietnam being played off against a worker in Malaysia, it is a bad 
deal.
  That is not all that is wrong with this arrangement. Let's look at 
the various things that could have made fast-track stronger and that 
are not in fast-track. We have heard a lot of conversation and a lot of 
presentation that this is a gold-standard framework, that this is a new 
style of trade agreement. But the fact is that key provisions that 
could have made it a gold standard or a new strategy are not there.
  Let's start with the fact that there is no minimum wage required in 
this agreement--not even a minimum wage of $1 an hour, which would have 
certainly affected Mexico or Vietnam--and no mechanism for where there 
is a minimum wage, to increase it gradually over time to help lift up 
workers in our poorest nations and to reduce the gap and level out the 
playing field between low-wage countries and high-wage countries such 
as the United States.
  Second, the agreement does not address currency manipulation. 
Everyone in international trade understands that tariffs can be 
replaced by a pseudo-tariff through currency manipulation, through 
intervention in the currency market. In 2009, when I came to the 
Senate, our Congress estimated that the currency manipulation by China 
amounted to a 25-percent tariff on American products and a 25-percent 
subsidy to Chinese products. Why would we agree to an arrangement where 
currency manipulation can produce a tariff against our products and a 
subsidy to our competitors within that framework?
  Third, we have had a problem with the loss of our sovereignty on 
health issues, environmental issues, and consumer issues by giving that 
sovereignty away and that decisionmaking away to an international 
panel. Just weeks ago, under the World Trade Organization structure--
the WTO structure--we lost a case, and the outcome of that case was 
that here in America we are not allowed to label our meat ``Produced in 
America.''

[[Page S4570]]

  That is a loss of our sovereignty. I want to live in an America where 
if our consumers, if our policymakers, if our legislators believe it is 
in the best interest of this Nation for our consumers to be able to 
know where their meat is raised, if our consumers want to exercise some 
patriotic decisionmaking and support American ranchers, they ought to 
be able to do so. We ought to be able to have that law and not give 
away our lawmaking authority to an international panel.
  So this is an investor-state dispute settlement panel of three 
corporate lawyers, who can be advocates in one case and the judges in 
the next. It does not provide anything close to an appropriate 
mechanism to decide issues of health, safety, and the environment. We 
could have taken those off the table so that if we wanted to control a 
dangerous environmental toxin such as cancer-causing flame retardants 
in our carpets, we could do so without going afoul of trade agreements.
  But there was no effort to protect our health and safety here in 
America in this trade agreement. If we really believed that we were 
going to have a new-order agreement, we would have an enforcement 
mechanism for labor standards and for environmental standards. We have 
heard folks talk on the floor that there are such new enforcement 
standards. So I am aggrieved to report to you that that is simply not 
the case.
  Now, let's start with the fact that we could have required the 
passage of laws before countries are admitted into the trade agreement 
and required that they bring their environmental standards, their legal 
standards, and their labor standards up to snuff before admission and 
then show that they were actually implementing them and have a 2-year 
demonstration period to show that they were actually enforcing 
them. Because that is the easiest point at which to bring nations 
accountable before they are members of the trade agreement, before they 
get the lower tariffs. That is the point you have incentive. That is 
the point you have leverage. But there was no effort to force 
countries, to require countries to meet those minimum standards before 
being admitted into this trade agreement.

  We could have had some form of snapback provision that said: If you 
fail in bringing your laws into accordance on the environmental side or 
the labor side, if you fail to enforce your laws, then tariffs snap 
back. But there is no snapback provision in this agreement.
  We could have expanded the dumping provisions in international law to 
give a way to take on situations where countries are producing at low 
cost because they are not abiding by the goals in the environmental or 
the labor area, but there is no such provision envisioned or required 
in fast-track or anticipated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  In the course of our trade agreements, there has been only one 
situation where we challenged labor laws, and it was with Guatemala. We 
challenged them 7 years ago, and to date that case has never been 
adjudicated. It is virtually impossible, after a country has failed to 
come up to standards, to go back and retroactively enforce those 
standards without some new mechanism, some new strategy. But there is 
no new mechanism or strategy that applies in this situation, nothing 
that would solve the Guatamala case and actually end with it being 
adjudicated.
  To continue with the challenges to this fast-track, the failures of 
this fast-track, there is nothing in this that provides for Congress to 
be consulted when other nations dock; that is, tie on to the framework 
that will exist in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  We had an amendment here on the floor that if China was to try to 
dock with the TPP and become a TPP fully privileged member, it would 
have to come back to the United States for consideration. That would 
give us a chance to look at China's currency manipulation or China's 
cheating on international intellectual property. That would give us a 
chance to examine a whole facet of things. But no requirement like that 
exists.
  To add on to everything else, now, because of the way this process 
has proceeded, there is no guarantee that there will be trade 
adjustment assistance for families who lose their jobs when their jobs 
go overseas, no assistance in training.
  I find it absurd that the same folks who say that there will be 
virtually no jobs lost proceed to say that the cost of compensating 
families by giving some minimal training to them when they lose their 
jobs will be vastly expensive and that America can't afford it. So on 
the one hand they say there will be no jobs lost. On the other hand 
they say that so many jobs will be lost that it will be too expensive 
for our Nation to afford. So they are OK with leaving American families 
not only stranded without jobs but stranded with no training to try to 
find new jobs in the economy.
  If we go back to where I started with President Kennedy and his 
vision that the trade of a nation expresses in a concrete way its aims 
and aspirations, our aim should be to create good-paying jobs here in 
America. Our aspiration should be to create a trade agreement that 
works for working families. Unfortunately, this trade agreement is 
constructed around a different aspiration, one of maximizing the value 
of stock in the multinational manufacturing corporations, and that is 
done by shipping our jobs overseas. That is the wrong aim for this 
Nation. That is the wrong aim for our working families. We have seen 
the impact of Korea. We have seen the impact of China joining the WTO. 
We have seen the impact of Mexico and NAFTA. As a result, we have lost 
millions of good-paying jobs in our Nation and undermined the success 
of millions of American families.
  There is a lot of conversation on the floor of the Senate about 
inequality in our Nation. Do you know what drives inequality? Well, I 
will tell you. It is this: When you create trade agreements that are 
great for investors but are terrible for workers, that drives 
inequality. That is why I encourage my colleagues to vote no when it 
comes to the fast-track legislation being voted on later today. It is 
wrong for America because it is wrong as far as solving inequality. It 
is wrong for America because it is wrong for working families to have 
their jobs shipped overseas. It is wrong because it does not fulfill 
the vision of working for working Americans.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 
up to 15 minutes as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                             Climate Change

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I am on the floor today for the 104th 
time--one of these days, I am going to get it right--to urge that we 
wake up to the dangers of climate change.
  The scientific community has been sounding the alarm for decades. Our 
most respected scientific institutions are virtually unanimous in their 
verdict: Carbon pollution from humans' burning of fossil fuels is 
warming our atmosphere and oceans, raising and acidifying our seas, 
loading the dice for more extreme weather, and disrupting the natural 
systems upon which we all depend. They are not alone.
  Our defense and intelligence communities warn us of the threats these 
climate disruptions pose to our national security and to international 
stability.
  Public health officials warn that greenhouse gas pollution and its 
effects trigger human health risks.
  Economists--even very conservative ones--have long recognized the 
distortion of energy markets ignoring the true cost of carbon 
pollution.
  Our government's accountants now list climate change as one of the 
most significant threats to America's fiscal stability. The new 
Republican CBO chief even put sea level rise and increased storm 
activity from climate change into his budget outlook just last week.
  Of course, voices of faith call to us. They plead that we heed the 
moral imperatives of protecting God's creation, seeking justice for all 
people, and meeting our own responsibilities to future generations.
  His Holiness the Dalai Lama has called for us to ``develop a sense of 
the oneness of humanity'' and address climate change.
  The Archbishop of Canterbury recently issued a declaration, along 
with other British religious leaders, warning of the ``huge challenge'' 
of climate change and supporting an international climate treaty to be 
negotiated in Paris this December.

[[Page S4571]]

  Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of Orthodox 
Christians worldwide, has called climate change ``a matter of social 
and economic justice.''
  More than 350 rabbis have signed a rabbinic letter on the climate 
crisis calling for vigorous action against climate disruption and 
global socioeconomic injustice, reminding us that ``social justice, 
sustainable abundance, a healthy Earth, and spiritual fulfillment are 
inseparable.''
  Last week, Pope Francis, the worldwide leader of the Catholic Church, 
which is the largest Christian denomination in the world, the largest 
Christian denomination in the United States, and the largest Christian 
denomination in my home State of Rhode Island, added his charismatic 
voice to the call.
  In the Roman Catholic Church, an encyclical is a papal letter sent to 
all bishops. It is considered among the most authoritative documents of 
Catholic teaching. Rather than just an internal communication to the 
clergy, however, this encyclical of Pope Francis on climate change is 
explicitly addressed to ``every single living person on this planet.'' 
It is entitled ``Laudato Si','' or ``Praise Be to You,'' a reference to 
the ``Canticle of the Sun'' by St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint 
of the environment, friend of the poor, and namesake of this Pope.
  This encyclical accepts and affirms what we know about climate 
change: that most is due to the greenhouse gases emitted by human 
activity; that seas are rising, oceans acidifying, polar ice melting; 
that weather is worsening at the extremes; and that basic systems of 
life on our planet home are being disrupted.
  He writes:

       [W]e need only take a frank look at the facts to see that 
     our common home is falling into serious disrepair. . . . 
     [T]hings are now reaching a breaking point. . . . [H]umanity 
     has disappointed God's expectations.

  The Earth herself, he says, ``groans in travail.''
  Pope Francis tells us that ``humanity is called to recognize the need 
for changes of lifestyle, production, and consumption, in order to 
combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or 
aggravate it.'' Specifically, he says that ``technology based on the 
use of highly polluting fossil fuels needs to be progressively replaced 
without delay.''
  The Pope reminds us that as we in power sleepwalk through this 
crisis, we are hurting people who have no voice today. First, we harm 
future generations, leaving them a world that, to use his own words, 
``is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.''
  ``[T]he world is a gift which we have freely received and must share 
with others,'' the Pope writes. ``Intergenerational solidarity is not 
optional, but rather a basic question of justice.''
  The Pope also emphasizes that when we damage that gift, we inflict 
particular harm on the poor, who live close to the Earth--outside of 
our privileged bubble of consumption. They rely on agriculture, 
fishing, and forestry for their livelihoods and sustenance. As climate 
change disrupts natural systems, the poor take the hit most directly. 
As a result, Pope Francis says, we who have profited most from burning 
fossil fuels owe a debt to the rest of the world. He calls it our 
``ecological debt.''
  The United States has produced more carbon dioxide than any other 
nation. Our historical responsibility calls us to help other nations 
develop cleaner energy, relieve their systematized poverty, and soften 
the blow of climate change. This responsibility, this call from Pope 
Francis matters particularly for America, the indispensable and the 
exceptional nation. Years ago, Daniel Webster described the work of our 
Founding Fathers as having ``set the world an example.'' From John 
Winthrop to Ronald Reagan, we have called ourselves a city on a hill, 
set high for the world to witness, to emulate.
  Should we ignore the climate disruption we have caused, Pope Francis 
warns, ``those who will have to suffer the consequences of what we are 
trying to hide will not forget this failure of conscience and 
responsibility.'' In saying that, Pope Francis aligns squarely with 
Daniel Webster's warning from that same speech--his warning about our 
American experiment in popular liberty: ``The last hopes of mankind, 
therefore, rest with us; and if it should be proclaimed that our 
example had become an argument against the experiment, the knell of 
popular liberty would be sounded throughout the earth.''

  Pope Francis's encyclical even has something to say directly to us in 
Congress. He says:

       To take up these responsibilities, and the costs they 
     entail, politicians will inevitably clash with the mindset of 
     short-term gain and results which dominates present-day 
     economics and politics. But if they are courageous, they will 
     attest to their God-given dignity and leave behind a 
     testimony of selfless responsibility.

  Remember the Pharisees. Remember the traders and the money changers 
in the temple. If we choose to ignore the call of the Pope and of 
leaders of faith around the world and choose to protect the side that 
is polluting and destroying, even when we see right before our faces 
its ravage of our natural world, its harm to the poor, its robbery of 
future generations, what are we then? What are we then? Jesus himself, 
the Lamb of God, lost his temper twice, the Bible tells us; once at the 
Pharisees and once at the traders and money changers in the temple. He 
went after them with a lash, actually. Are we to take their side now? 
Must we, in the Senate, serve Caesar in every single thing? Is there no 
light left here at all?
  Here in the Senate, the hand of greed lies so heavily upon us. 
Please, may the Pope's exhortation give us the courage to stand up 
against the power of these selfish forces and do what is right for our 
people and for our planet.
  The fossil fuel industry has been a particular disgrace, polluting 
our politics as well as our planet. Ever since the Citizens United 
ruling gave polluters the ability to inject unlimited and untold 
amounts of money into our elections, the tsunami of their slime has 
drowned honest debate on climate change. Senators who once supported 
commonsense legislation have gone silent as stones under the threat of 
the polluters' spending. Getting past the dark influence of the fossil 
fuel industry will indeed take some light and some courage, especially 
on the part of the Republican majority whom they so relentlessly bully 
and cajole. But we must do it. Again, mankind will not forget this 
failure of conscience and responsibility.
  Senator Schatz and I have even offered legislation rooted in 
conservative free-market principles. We would put a fee on carbon 
pollution and return all the revenue to the American people. It would 
reduce carbon pollution 40 percent by 2025 and be a significant 
downpayment on our ecological debt to the world and, by the way, it 
would generate significant tax cuts and economic benefits for American 
families and businesses in the process. I urge friends across the 
aisle, please, take a serious look at our bill.
  In seeking a solution to the climate crisis, Pope Francis asks each 
of us to ``draw constantly from [our] deepest convictions about love, 
justice, and peace.'' He dares us even ``to turn what is happening to 
the world into our own personal suffering''--into our own personal 
suffering--``and thus discover what each of us can do about it.'' He 
urges us to recognize the systems around us--the financial systems, the 
industrial systems, the economic systems, the political systems--are 
drawing us down a destructive and unjust path.
  But his encyclical to the world illuminates another path--a 
compassionate path, blazed with abiding faith in the human family, a 
path toward the preservation of our common home and our common decency. 
The choice of which path we take will be a fateful one.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cruz). The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, before he leaves the floor, let me just 
commend the Senator from Rhode Island. He has made a number of 
important points this afternoon, but I am particularly pleased my 
colleague has laid out, in such a thoughtful way, the implications of 
the Pope's encyclical. This was very important as a major new focus of 
the debate, and I really commend my colleague.
  I suspect we are now on 101 or 102--oh, 104. I was there for 100, so 
I must have missed one along the way. But I

[[Page S4572]]

commend my colleague and thank him for his commitment. He knows I share 
many of his views with respect to creating a fresh set of approaches to 
deal with this climate change question, and I look forward to working 
with him.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I thank the Senator very kindly.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, today the Senate is taking major steps 
toward a new, more progressive trade policy that will shut the door on 
the 1990s North American Free Trade Agreement once and for all.
  One of the major ways this overall package accomplishes this goal is 
by kicking our trade enforcement into high gear. Later today, the 
Senate is going to vote to go to conference with the House on strong 
bipartisan legislation that was passed by the Chamber only a few weeks 
ago by a vote of 78 to 20.
  It has long been my view that vigorous enforcement of our trade laws 
must be at the forefront of any modern approach to trade at this unique 
time in history. One of the first questions many citizens ask is, I 
hear there is talk in Washington, DC, about passing a new trade law. 
How about first enforcing the laws that are on the books?
  This has been an area I long have sought to change, and we are 
beginning to do this with this legislation and I want to describe it. 
For me, this goes back to the days when I chaired the Senate's 
Subcommittee on International Trade and Competitiveness. We saw such 
widespread cheating, such widespread flouting of our trade laws, my 
staff and I set up a sting operation. We set up a sting operation to 
catch the cheats; in effect, almost inviting these people to try to use 
a Web site to evade the laws. They came out of nowhere because they 
said: Hey, cheating has gotten pretty easy. Let's sign up. And we 
caught a lot of people.
  So we said, from that point on, that we were going to make sure any 
new trade legislation took, right at the center, an approach that would 
protect hard-working Americans from the misdeeds of trade cheats. In 
fact, the core of the bipartisan legislation that heads into conference 
is a jobs bill--a jobs bill that will protect American workers and our 
exporters from those kinds of rip-offs by those who would flout the 
trade laws.
  The fact is, when you finally get tough enforcement of our trade 
laws, it is a jobs bill--a true jobs bill--because you are doing a 
better job of enforcing the laws that protect the good-paying jobs of 
American workers.
  I guess some people think we are going to get that tougher 
enforcement by osmosis. We are going to get it because we are going to 
pass a law, starting today with the conference agreement that is going 
to have real teeth in it--real teeth in it--to enforce our trade laws.
  Foreign companies and nations employ a whole host of complicated 
schemes and shadowy tactics to break the trade rules, and they bully 
American businesses and undercut our workers. So what we said in the 
Finance Committee, on a bipartisan basis, is the name of the game will 
be to stay out in front of these unfair trade practices that cost our 
workers good-paying jobs. My colleagues and I believe the Senate has 
offered now the right plan to fight back against the trade cheats and 
protect American jobs and protect our companies from abuse.
  It really starts with what is called the ENFORCE Act, which is a 
proposal I first offered years ago that will give our Customs agency 
more tools to crack down on the cheaters. Then, we have a bipartisan, 
bicameral agreement on the need for an unfair trade alert. That is 
another major upgrade that responds to what we heard companies and 
labor folks say again and again. What they would say is that trade 
enforcement laws get there too late. They get there too late. The plant 
is closed, the jobs are gone, the hopes and dreams of working families 
are shattered. So what we said is we are going to start using some of 
the data and the information we have to have a real trade alert so we 
can spot what is coming up and get that information to our communities 
and our working families and our companies to protect our workers. So 
this unfair trade alert is another major upgrade in how we tackle 
enforcing our trade laws.
  My view is that any bill that comes out of that enforcement 
conference, the Customs conference, needs to reflect important American 
priorities, and that should certainly include smart protection of our 
environmental treasures. When our trade agreements establish rules on 
environmental protection, they have to be enforced with the same vigor 
as the rules that knock down barriers for businesses overseas.
  Our colleague from Colorado Senator Bennet offered, in my view, a 
very constructive proposal that is going to accomplish this important 
goal. It was overwhelmingly agreed to by the Committee on Finance and 
passed by the Senate, and I would like to note that much of the good 
work done by Senator Bennet mirrors what my colleague in the other 
body, Congressman Blumenauer, is doing on this issue as well.
  It is my view--and why it was important to hear from Senator 
Whitehouse--that climate change is one of the premier challenges of our 
time. It is critical to make sure this enforcement package sends the 
right message on environmental issues. Whether the issue at hand is 
climate change, fisheries or conservation, this package--the package we 
are going to be dealing with in the Customs conference--strikes the 
right balance for the environment.
  I also want to take a moment to build on what I discussed yesterday 
with respect to the Democratic priorities that my colleagues and I are 
going to fight for in conference. This stems from an important point 
made by our colleague from North Dakota Senator Heitkamp, who said we 
really need to go into this Customs conference with some markers--some 
strong markers that lay out a path for some of our priorities with 
respect to enforcing the Customs law.
  So after the pro-trade Democrats met on Monday night, I talked with 
Chairman Ryan with respect to these issues. We intend to champion 
provisions by Senator Shaheen which will help our small businesses take 
full advantage of trade. A lot of people say, oh, trade bills are for 
the big guys; the big guys are the ones who are going to benefit. I 
have always thought big guys can take care of themselves. They have 
lots of people to stand up for them. But what Senator Shaheen is 
saying--and it is particularly important in my home State, where we 
have mostly small businesses. Senator Shaheen is saying she is going to 
make sure, as part of the enforcement efforts, we beef up the effort to 
help small businesses, particularly at the State level--not at the 
Federal level, at the State level--promote these efforts to have more 
markets for our small businesses in the export field.
  In addition to Senator Shaheen's amendment, as far as those Customs 
markers are concerned, we are also going to make the environmental 
protection provisions I just described authored by Senator Bennet a 
priority and Senator Cantwell's trade enforcement trust fund. I am very 
hopeful about the trade enforcement trust fund as well. Suffice it to 
say, there is interest on both sides of the aisle because there is an 
awareness that, again, we can have some trade laws, but we are going to 
need some resources in order to make sure they are implemented. So I 
think that trade enforcement trust fund is another very important 
priority, and it is one that the pro-trade Democrats have said would be 
part of our short list in terms of our Customs markers.
  As I noted, when I have town meetings at home--I have had more than 
730 of them and am going to have more of them this upcoming week--I do 
find people say that everybody in Washington talks about new laws, new 
proposals, trade ideas: Enforce the laws on the books first. It has 
been too hard--too hard in the past--for our businesses, particularly 
our small businesses, to get the enforcement that matters, enforcement 
with teeth, enforcement that serves as a real deterrent to cheating.
  So this legislation is our chance to demonstrate that strengthening 
trade enforcement--enforcement of the trade laws--will now be an 
integral part of a new modern approach to trade, an approach that says 
we are not part of the 1990s on trade, where nobody had Web sites and 
iPhones and the like. We have a modern trade policy with the 
centerpiece enforcing our trade laws.
  Our policies are going to give America's trade enforcers the tools 
they

[[Page S4573]]

need to fight on behalf of American jobs and American workers and stop 
the trade cheats who seek to undercut them. I strongly urge my 
colleagues to vote yes later today on the motion to send the 
enforcement bill to conference and work on a bipartisan basis, as we 
did in the Finance Committee, to put strong trade enforcement 
legislation on the President's desk.
  Now, I would also like to briefly make some remarks on the trade 
adjustment assistance package. As we have said, later today, the Senate 
is going to take a series of votes that again speak to how we kick off 
a new progressive era in trade policy that closes the books on the 
trade ideas of the 1990s once and for all.
  Once again, a key part of that effort is protecting our workers and 
ensuring that more trade means everybody has an opportunity to get 
ahead. That is why the package of legislation under debate expands and 
extends the support system for America's workers called trade 
adjustment assistance.
  Now, this program dates back to the days of President Kennedy. 
President Kennedy, during his push for the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, 
called it ``a program to afford time for American initiative, American 
adaptability and American resiliency to assert themselves.'' Since 
then, this program has been extended by Republican and Democratic 
Presidents. The program is now a lifeline for more than 100,000 
Americans, including 3,000 Oregonians who receive job training and 
financial support. The heart of it is to provide a springboard to new 
opportunities, and it guarantees that workers and their families don't 
get knocked off stride when times are tough. In my view, it is a core 
element of what I call trade done right.
  As I noted yesterday, Tim Nesbitt, former past president of the 
Oregon AFL-CIO, essentially said our legislation was a blueprint for 
trade done right.
  Now, for 1\1/2\ years, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program has 
been running at reduced strength. But that is going to change once this 
legislation becomes law. The funding for trade adjustment assistance 
goes back up to a level that will cover everybody who qualifies. Once 
again, service workers will be eligible for the program because in 
today's economy they are facing competition from overseas as well. 
Trade adjustment assistance would take into account competition from 
anywhere in the world, not just from our trade agreement partners.

  These are significant improvements that I will tell the Presiding 
Officer and colleagues I fought very hard for in what were negotiations 
that really lasted well over 6 months with Chairman Hatch and Chairman 
Ryan. I believe these changes are going to make a big difference for 
workers across our Nation who fall on tough times. If China manages to 
lure a manufacturer away from the United States, for example, now those 
workers will be covered. They will have a chance to learn new skills 
and find a job that pays good wages, and they will not have to worry 
about whether the bills will get paid or if they are going to have food 
on their table.
  Along with trade adjustment assistance, this legislation will 
reinstate the health coverage tax credit that expired at the end of 
last year. The majority of workers in this country--tens of millions of 
middle-class people and their families--get health insurance through 
their employer. The health coverage tax credit guarantees that workers 
and families affected by trade are going to still be able to see their 
doctor. If they get sick or suffer an injury, they aren't going to face 
colossal medical bills or the threat of bankruptcy. They get 
protection, and they get it until they are back on their feet.
  In the process of bringing this legislation together, my friend and 
colleague on the Finance Committee Senator Brown offered a proposal 
that goes a long way, in my view, to strengthening our enforcement of 
key trade laws. It is called the Leveling the Playing Field Act. I urge 
the Senate majority leader to include this important legislation in the 
TAA bill, both because it is a good policy and it is a sign that both 
parties are working on issues that are logical bipartisan priorities. 
Leveling the playing field--and I can say this at this point in the 
debate. If we look at the Senate Finance Committee files, leveling the 
playing field was a top priority for those in the unions--the steel 
unions and others--and it was also a top priority for their companies. 
So having this policy in trade adjustment assistance is exactly the 
kind of bipartisan work the American people want done--business, labor, 
Democrats, Republicans--a strong record of evidence as to why it is 
needed. This legislation is going to be the difference between 
steelworkers and paper workers being on the job or being laid off 
because it ensures that the remedies of trade law--what is called 
countervailing duty law, anti-dumping law--is going to be available to 
workers and their companies earlier and in a more comprehensive way. It 
is going to protect jobs, which is a priority of both political 
parties.
  I made mention how important this was to me. My first hearing--my 
first hearing when I became chairman of the Finance Committee's trade 
subcommittee--was on trade enforcement. So I could have chosen a lot of 
topics. We could have talked about exports, hugely important to my 
State. We could have talked about the fact that the trade laws haven't 
kept up with the digital age, hugely important to my State. I said my 
first hearing was going to be on trade enforcement.
  My good friend from United Steelworkers, Leo Gerard, together with 
the U.S. Steel chairman, Mario Longhi, spoke at length about how 
American workers wanted to see the Senate and the Finance Committee 
stand up for them and finally fix the shortcomings in our trade remedy 
laws. That is what we have done now. Getting behind Sherrod Brown's 
proposal to strengthen our trade laws, to stop unfair trade so foreign 
companies do not undercut American workers and manufacturers ought to 
be an American priority--a red, white, and blue priority, a priority 
for every Member of this body.
  I am proud to have worked with Senator Brown on this important issue. 
I thank him for the fact that he has brought this up again and again 
and again. I said quite some time ago that we weren't going to let this 
package become law without the Leveling the Playing Field Act authored 
by Senator Brown at the outset. That is going to be the case, and I 
thank him for his work.
  The three programs--the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, the 
health coverage tax credit, Senator Brown's Leveling the Playing Field 
Act--are now moving through the Senate alongside legislation that 
creates new economic opportunities for impoverished countries in Africa 
and other places around the world. This trade package will extend the 
biggest of these programs, the African Growth and Opportunity Act--what 
is called AGOA--for 10 years. I am a strong believer in AGOA. It works 
for our country, it works for Africa, and it builds a stronger economic 
future for so many around the world. We worked hard again on a 
bipartisan basis in the Finance Committee to find ways to strengthen 
AGOA. That was the point of our hearing, to find ways to strengthen it, 
extend it for another decade, and the committee came together on a 
bipartisan basis to make smart improvements.
  Once again, we see the value of a progressive trade policy. Two of 
our very outstanding colleagues--my colleague Senator Coons on this 
side of the aisle and our friend Senator Isakson on the other side of 
the aisle--are always working in a bipartisan way, pointing out that 
this is what our country is all about, and certainly creating 
opportunities for impoverished parts of the world is a core American 
priority. Hearts and minds around the world are hoping we will have 
this kind of leadership.
  I will close, and I think this will be my last comment before the 
vote. It is my view that for all who want to see trade done right, for 
all who want American workers to thrive in the 21st century, getting 
behind these key programs is an ideal way to do it. By supporting this 
legislation, the Congress reaffirms what President Kennedy really 
rhapsodized over half a century ago: You get behind these programs, and 
it reaffirms America's commitment to American initiative, to 
adaptability, and resiliency.
  I encourage all of my colleagues to vote yes to support these 
important programs when we vote later today.

[[Page S4574]]

  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Mr. FRANKEN. Mr. President, I rise today to talk briefly about trade 
adjustment assistance, or TAA, and about trade enforcement. I will be 
supporting the TAA bill.


                     Tribute to Casey Aden-Wansbury

  But before I talk about that, I would like to recognize my chief of 
staff, Casey Aden-Wansbury, who has never been on the floor before. She 
asked to be on the floor today, since she is leaving. Of course, I said 
yes.
  But I said that so that I could talk about you, Casey. You didn't 
know that. You have to sit through this.
  Casey has served in my office since I joined the Senate in July of 
2009. She is leaving Washington next week and is heading to San 
Francisco, where her husband will be starting an amazing new job. Jamo 
has a great job, and he has been so supportive of you, Casey, and also 
of Casey's parents. You will now be much closer to them.
  I am very excited for Casey, but I wish she weren't leaving. Everyone 
in my office is going to miss you--no one more than me.
  When my grandson was 30 minutes old, I held him in my arms, and I 
said to him: It is all staff.
  It is true. It is all staff. Casey has been an amazing chief of 
staff. She is the most focused, determined person I know.
  I am a member of the Writers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild. I get 
screeners. We got ``Zero Dark Thirty'' sent to me during the awards 
season. My wife and I were in our living room. We put ``Zero Dark 
Thirty'' on. At a certain point in the movie, I said to Franni: The 
lead character reminds me of someone. Finally, I said: It is Casey. If 
Casey had been in the CIA, I think we would have gotten bin Laden a 
little earlier.
  Casey deserves an enormous amount of credit for all the work that I 
and our office have been able to get done in my first term--the day-to-
day work that we do to improve the lives of people in Minnesota and 
across the country. Whether it was mental health in schools or 
improving workforce training or protecting net neutrality or defeating 
the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, I am so proud of the work we have 
done in the Senate. And it is all staff. Casey has led that staff 
brilliantly every step of the way. I will miss Casey more than anyone, 
including myself, really knows.
  Whoever gets Casey next will be very, very lucky indeed.
  Casey, I cannot express how deeply thankful I am for all you have 
done for me, for our office, and for the State of Minnesota. Thank you.
  Now, Mr. President, I would like to turn briefly to the trade 
adjustment assistance package. I believe that when trade is done right, 
it can benefit our workers, our communities, and our businesses. But I 
was concerned that the fast-track procedures set up by the trade 
promotion authority bill will not do enough to make sure that we do 
trade right. So I voted against that bill, and I will vote against it 
again later.
  Once we are done with that bill, we will consider the trade 
adjustment assistance bill that was originally packaged together with 
the fast-track bill. I will support TAA. It is far from perfect. For 
one thing, it simply does not provide enough assistance. But it will go 
a long way toward providing help for workers who are displaced by 
trade, as we know some will be.
  I also strongly support the Leveling the Playing Field Act, which is 
included in this package along with TAA. Senator Brown's bill, of which 
I am proud to be a cosponsor, would help strengthen our trade remedy 
laws--the laws that enforce our trade policies and protect our domestic 
industries from dumped and subsidized imports from other countries.
  In Minnesota, I have seen firsthand the damage that happens when we 
don't have--and just as importantly, can't enforce--strong trade 
protections. In the last few months alone, we have seen what happens 
when countries unfairly dump their goods here. Nearly 1,000 Minnesotans 
in the Iron Range are losing their jobs after a flood of dumped steel 
imports.
  The Leveling the Playing Field Act would help improve our anti-
dumping laws, including restoring Congress's original intent in setting 
the standard for when a domestic industry is materially injured by 
unfairly traded foreign imports. We need to be able to respond 
effectively when dumped imports are harming our domestic iron and steel 
industry and the workers in that industry or when those imports are 
harming other industries, as is happening now. This bill will be an 
important step in enabling that more effective response. With these 
provisions, we are standing up for American manufacturers by putting in 
place and enforcing fair trade practices.
  For these reasons, I will be voting for the trade adjustment 
assistance bill, and I look forward to its being enacted into law.
  Thank you, Mr. President, for allowing me to say a few words about 
Casey and about TAA.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I have come to this floor a number of times 
arguing against trade promotion authority. I have done that for months. 
This body should not give up its authority to amend trade agreements, 
and it should not pave the way for a trade deal that looks like it is 
going to be more of the same--corporate and worker sellouts.
  We have seen it with NAFTA, and we saw a similar kind of move on PNTR 
with China, where our bilateral trade deficit almost literally exploded 
since 2000, when this body and the other body moved forward on PNTR. We 
saw it with the Central American Free Trade Agreement, when President 
Bush had to wake in the middle of the night and get on the phone with 
Republican Member after Republican Member to get them to change their 
vote on fast-track so he could get the Central American Free Trade 
Agreement, which he sold in the name of counterterrorism. We saw it in 
the South Korean trade agreement, when this President made promises of 
more job creation and higher wages, neither of which has borne out.
  We have seen big promises and bad results on trade issue after trade 
issue after trade issue after trade issue. We have seen it through the 
Presidencies of George Bush 1, Bill Clinton, George Bush 2, and now 
Barack Obama.
  As I said, this body should not give up its authority to make better 
trade agreements. In essence, what we are saying in this body with this 
vote, which will take place within the hour or so, is that we are 
willing to give up these powers to the executive branch to give us more 
of the same, trade agreements that don't work for our communities, 
don't work for our workers, don't work for our families, and don't work 
for our small businesses.
  While this Chamber will vote on trade promotion authority today, so-
called fast-track, it doesn't mean we throw in the towel on the 
congressional oversight of our Nation's trade policy. Moving forward 
with fast-track means it is more critical than ever that we protect 
Congress's prerogative to have a say on a deal that could offset 40 
percent of the world's economy. Members on both sides of the aisle, 
Members on both sides of this debate, supporters and opponents, 
Republicans and Democrats, a good mix of each, have had conversations 
with me and many others about how this deal, the Trans-Pacific 
Partnership, is too secretive.
  We have had conversations about how the U.S. Trade Representative is 
not answering the concerns of Members, even supporters of TPA and TPP, 
on issues such as currency, workers' protections, workers' rights, 
tobacco, and public health. Starting today, we need to make sure any 
Trans-Pacific Partnership deal--and that is the deal we will vote on 
later. I am assuming TPA will pass today. I hope not. I assume it will 
pass, go to the President, and I assume he will sign it.
  The next question is, What happens with the Trans-Pacific 
Partnership, which is 12 countries coming together. It includes a 
handful of countries in the Western Hemisphere, including the three 
NAFTA countries--Canada, the

[[Page S4575]]

United States, and Mexico--a couple of South American countries and 
Asia and the Australian subcontinent countries will be part of this 
trade agreement. If China is added to it, we hope there is a vote in 
the Congress, although there is no promise of that from the 
administration--but we need to make sure any deal on the Trans-Pacific 
Partnership includes strong labor protections. There are always big 
promises about labor protections, but a President has yet to deliver on 
these labor protections.
  I am particularly concerned about Vietnam, a large country of tens of 
millions--approaching 100 million people. Vietnam is a country that has 
one labor union controlled by the Communist Party. It is a country that 
doesn't have collective bargaining rights. Yet we are assuming somehow 
that wages will come up high enough in Vietnam that they don't undercut 
U.S. wages, even though they don't have free trade unions, they don't 
have collective bargaining, and there is no mechanism so far in these 
trade agreements, whether it is TPA or Trans-Pacific Partnership, that 
Vietnam reach these wage levels and begins to move toward collective 
bargaining and free trade unionism prior to its admission to TPP.
  We need to figure out all of those questions. We need to make sure 
that any TPP deal has strong environmental protections. Again, there 
were big promises on other agreements, but there is never much on the 
delivery side of these promises.
  We want to see strong currency provisions. Again, there have been big 
promises on TPP but with little results in the past, and so far we have 
an administration that is not willing to carry it out.
  We need to make sure we protect Medicare and Medicaid from investor-
state dispute resolution, and we need to preserve access to medicines. 
We know citizens in the developing world simply can't afford the high 
cost of Western medicines. Much of the time Americans can't afford the 
high cost of medicines, and we are an affluent country.
  When we look at some of these TPP countries in South America and 
Asia, they can afford them even less. We need to make sure there are 
strong preserve-access-to-medicine provisions. We need to include 
protections that prevent this deal from being a tool for tobacco, which 
is perhaps the simplest to understand and one of the most troubling 
because of its moral bankruptcy.
  This body is about to vote for fast-track legislation. If we don't 
stop this train from going down the track on which it seems to be 
heading, we are handing Big Tobacco even more power to addict children 
to tobacco in the developing world and countries that don't have nearly 
the public health system we do and don't have the affluence to be able 
to fight back against Big Tobacco. We have been pretty successful in 
doing that and protecting our children.
  About 15 years ago when I was a member of the House Energy and 
Commerce Subcommittee on Health, I remember seven tobacco executives 
came to our committee. There was a picture on just about every front 
page of newspapers in the country, where the seven CEOs of the biggest 
tobacco companies in the country, some of the biggest in the world, 
raised their right hands and pledged to tell the truth, the whole 
truth, and nothing but the truth, and out and out lied to that 
committee about nicotine and cigarettes and the addictive qualities of 
nicotine.
  These same tobacco companies, over time, pledged that they would no 
longer put billboards near schoolyards, pledged that they would no 
longer hand out sample packages of cigarettes near schools, pledged 
that they would stop their Joe Camel promotions.
  I remember the ranking member of the Finance Committee, Senator 
Wyden, was as outraged as I was with Big Tobacco.
  I asked them a question at this hearing. I said: You are willing to 
do that in this country? You are willing to say that you will no longer 
have billboards near high schools, and you will no longer hand out 
samples of cigarette packs near schools, and you will stop your Joe 
Camel ads? I then said: Are you willing to do that in other countries 
around the world?
  The answer was: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
  When these tobacco companies go to the developing world and peddle 
their poisons, they know public health in the developing world is about 
fighting cholera, fighting AIDS, fighting malaria, and fighting 
tuberculosis. They simply don't have the public health resources that 
we do in our country to fight Big Tobacco. That is my concern about 
what could happen.
  I will talk for a moment about how Big Tobacco uses trade agreements 
generally to undermine public health. We know tobacco use is the 
world's leading cause of preventable death. It is why countries around 
the world are passing stricter laws to protect their citizens from the 
massive health risks tobacco poses. Big Tobacco has turned trade deals 
into a tool for defeating commonsense international public health 
efforts.
  How could that happen? Why would a trade deal be a vehicle to weaken 
anti-tobacco laws, the laws that especially protect children against 
addictive tobacco? Here is how it happens: It uses a trade agreement 
provision known as investor-state dispute settlement to attack a 
nation's public health law. Under this process, corporations use trade 
agreements to dispute domestic laws that they say undermine their 
investments.
  I will use the best example, but there are several. Not many years 
ago, Australia passed the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act. Big Tobacco 
challenged this law. First of all, they opposed it in the Australian 
Legislature. They lobbied against it, but they were unsuccessful. The 
Australian Legislature passed the plain packaging consumer protection 
anti-addicting children tobacco law in 2011. Then, they sued, and it 
went to the Australian supreme court. Big Tobacco lost that case too.
  So you know what they did? I give them credit for being pretty 
clever. They paid their lawyers a lot of money. Big Tobacco challenged 
this new law under the Australia-Hong Kong Bilateral Investment Treaty 
in a World Trade Organization dispute settlement proceeding. That means 
although Australian courts had ruled in favor of this law--their 
legislature passed it and the supreme court said it is constitutional--
Big Tobacco, from the platform of Hong Kong, sued the Australian 
Government, saying, fundamentally, that was takings, that would 
undermine their profits.
  I believe a three-person tribunal will hear this case. These are not 
Australian lawyers. Australia has nothing to do with this case except 
that they are going to be victimized.
  I know the Presiding Officer cares about sovereignty for our country. 
I know this cuts across party lines. Conservatives, as much as 
progressives, care about sovereignty and public health. What we are 
doing is turning over the sovereignty of our Nation to these tribunals 
that can undercut our sovereignty.
  Tobacco companies have launched similar cases against Uruguay and 
Togo over proposed laws. Cases like these can bankrupt small countries. 
Togo is one of the 10 poorest countries on Earth. It was forced to give 
up its tobacco labeling laws, bowing under pressure from Philip Morris, 
a company whose sales, I believe, are larger than the GDP of Togo--
bowing under pressure from Philip Morris, which threatened an 
``incalculable amount of trade litigation.''

  So here are some U.S. trade lawyers who threatened to sue a poor 
African government or, in some cases, Latin American government which, 
once it exercised its sovereignty to protect its children against 
potential addictive tobacco marketing--marketing that will lead to 
children being addicted to tobacco--but they back off because they 
can't afford to go to court against the deep pockets of Philip Morris. 
This is Big Tobacco's strategy: Litigate and bankrupt countries into 
submission.
  What we are facing is huge corporations using trade laws to blackmail 
countries--call it another word if you want; I think ``blackmail'' is 
about as close as it gets--into overturning laws that were passed by 
their legislature and usually ratified by their court system. People 
from another country--a

[[Page S4576]]

very rich country--and one of the richest industries in that country, 
represented by some of the most privileged Harvard- and Yale-trained 
lawyers, are saying: We are going to overturn your democratically 
elected law because our profits are more important than protecting your 
children in Togo or your children in Uruguay, than protecting your 
children's health. That is fundamentally what they are saying.
  So a vote today--since we haven't fixed tobacco--on fast-track is 
essentially saying--unless the people voting for it are going to go to 
bat, for a change, against Big Tobacco--fundamentally, we are saying it 
is OK for Big Tobacco and it is the privilege of the Big Tobacco 
lawyers to go to court and choose large tobacco profits over 15- and 
16--or may I say 12- and 13-year-old children's health in poor 
countries in the developing world. That is a rather uneven match. Yet 
we ratify that with a ``yes'' vote today.
  (Mr. TOOMEY assumed the Chair.)
  We also have a responsibility to look out for the American worker who 
we know will be hurt by this deal. We know that--while I may disagree 
with the Presiding Officer from Pennsylvania over whether these trade 
agreements produce net jobs or what he, I think, believes--I believe 
these trade agreements produce a net loss of jobs.
  That aside, people on both sides of this debate understand and have 
acknowledged that because of our actions, because of what we do here in 
this body and in the House and in the White House--what we do here with 
this trade agreement will throw some people out of jobs. We know there 
will be dislocation. People will lose their jobs because of our 
decisions. So how in the world could we possibly pass this without 
first taking care of those workers who lose their jobs? We make a 
decision; you get thrown out of work. My colleague makes a decision; 
you get thrown out of work. We are just going to turn our backs because 
we don't really care about helping you even though you lost your job 
because of our decision.
  So TAA is particularly important. It is not that we should pass the 
trade adjustment assistance; it is what we should do with it. I am 
disappointed that the TAA bill being considered today is significantly 
less generous to those workers than it should be. There will be many 
workers who lose their jobs. Even if we pass TAA, there will be many 
workers who lose their jobs who will not be taken care of under TAA. It 
does not make the program available to all workers.
  I am disappointed that the bipartisan funding levels--which almost 
every Democrat in this body cosponsored--in my legislation that 
included a more generous level for TAA--we agreed to it in 2011 in this 
body, but for no reason at all, those numbers were cut. I want to 
expand eligibility. I want to increase its funding.
  We are making it easier to pass TPP, but we are cutting the TAA 
Program by 20 percent. So how does that figure? We are saying we are 
going to pass this trade agreement--40 percent of the world's economy--
yet we are cutting the protection for workers, the aid for those 
workers who lose their jobs because of our decisions in this body. We 
are cutting those workers 20 percent.
  Last, we have an opportunity in this bill today to once again support 
the Leveling the Playing Field Act and ensure it gets to the 
President's desk. This will be the vote after the TPA vote. This bill 
is essential to protect our manufacturers from illegal foreign 
competition. We can't have trade promotion without trade enforcement. 
This is not controversial. It shouldn't be partisan. Regardless of how 
one votes on TPA, we need to make sure our deals are enforced.
  Leveling the playing field will increase U.S. companies' ability to 
fight back against unfair trade practices. It is critical for our 
businesses, and it is critical for our workers who are drowning under a 
flood of illegally subsidized imports. It has the support of businesses 
and workers, Republicans and Democrats.
  I want to particularly thank Senators Portman and Graham and Casey 
for their work in support of this issue. No matter where we stand on 
TPA, we should all be able to come together to demand enforcement of 
our trade laws. We cannot have trade promotion without trade 
enforcement and without protecting those workers who we know will be 
left behind.
  We know these agreements cause wages to stagnate. We know these 
agreements cause factories to close. They cause imports to increase. 
They devastate families and communities. This is a terrible mistake we 
will make--which we have made over and over and over and over--if we 
pass this today. If we pass TPA, it is the same mistake we made with 
NAFTA--big promises of job increases, wages going up. Bad results. We 
did it when we passed PNTR. We did it when we passed CAFTA, the Central 
America Free Trade Agreement. And we are about to do it again. Shame on 
us. At least take care of workers if we are going to pass this 
legislation.

  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.


                        King v. Burwell Decision

  Mr. TILLIS. Mr. President, there is a lot of talk about the imminent 
decision of the Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell. I will get to 
that a little bit later in my speech, but I wish to start by talking 
about how we got here.
  I would like to review what Americans were told were the reasons for 
ObamaCare. It was supposed to help the 15 million people who are 
currently uninsured to get covered with quality, affordable insurance. 
Everyone else, we were promised, would be left alone. Remember that 
promise: If you like your doctor, you can keep him. If you like your 
health care, you can keep it. That is the first of several broken 
promises ObamaCare has ultimately produced. I will go through a few 
this afternoon.
  Let's take a look at what has happened since ObamaCare was 
implemented and where we stand. Most of the uninsured nationwide are--
and they were prior to ObamaCare--working families; 71 percent in 2013. 
They either couldn't afford the cost-sharing of their employer plan or 
their employer didn't offer a plan. Of those who got insurance under 
ObamaCare, too many were working families who actually didn't get 
private insurance under ObamaCare; they were ultimately forced into 
Medicaid, which is supposed to be a safety net, not a permanent 
solution for working families.
  Is Medicaid the quality, affordable insurance that we all want for 
Americans and that people thought they were getting with ObamaCare? I 
don't think so. The provider payment rates in Medicaid are so low that 
many doctors refuse to see patients and participate in the plans. I 
don't really begrudge the doctors and the health care providers for 
this because the cost of care oftentimes exceeds the Medicaid 
reimbursement rates, and the redtape that comes with it absolutely is 
destroying the administrative side of health care. That is why doctors 
don't participate in the plan. That is why the doctors are not 
available for the people who actually need good, quality health care.
  It is not for lack of investment though. States are drowning in 
unaffordable Medicaid Programs that eat more and more of their budgets 
at the expense of other essential services. States are throwing 
everything they can and then some at Medicaid, but it is still 
unacceptable in terms of cost, quality, and access. That is exactly why 
North Carolina refused to participate in ObamaCare's Medicaid 
expansion. I was speaker of the house in North Carolina at the time.
  We know that if we are going to solve the health care problem, it has 
to be a real solution. We have to bring back a vibrant, robust, 
patient-centered, private insurance system, customized for our State 
rather than dictated by bureaucrats in Washington.
  My constituents deserve a plan that pays doctors fairly so that 
provider networks are big enough to ensure that people don't get turned 
away at the door. Herding more of our hard-working, proud neighbors 
into a substandard welfare plan designed to be a temporary safety net 
is no solution at all, but that is exactly what ObamaCare has done. The 
President even brags about it.
  In North Carolina, prior to the implementation of ObamaCare, there 
were some 1.9 million of our citizens who were uninsured. Who are these 
people? Ten percent were already Medicaid eligible before ObamaCare. 
Most of them are children. We could have enrolled them without ever 
passing ObamaCare and disrupting and destroying health care for 
everyone else. About a third

[[Page S4577]]

were people who were eligible for subsidies on the exchange--almost 
half a million.
  So did all of those folks get help? It might look as though they did. 
After all, 459,000 have signed up through the Federal exchange in North 
Carolina. But wait. Are those the same people, the same ones who were 
insured before ObamaCare? It turns out that even more than that--
473,000 people--had their plans canceled by ObamaCare. Again, 473,000 
North Carolinians received a letter saying: The Affordable Care Act has 
determined you can't keep your plan. They didn't like it, even though 
those who were insured were satisfied with their plans.
  This was a nationwide trend. The Associated Press reported that 4.7 
million people had their plans canceled because of ObamaCare. There was 
such an outcry that the President, by Executive fiat, actually 
instructed the insurers to continue to allow the plans for a period of 
time. So how many people lost their plan this time is still not clear. 
But what is clear is that the individual mandate is going to cause 
problems down the road because those who lost their plan or who will 
lose their plan, are going to be required by law to buy a Washington-
approved insurance plan no matter how unaffordable ObamaCare has made 
insurance.
  Again, in North Carolina, more people received cancellation notices 
for plans they liked than have actually signed up for ObamaCare. 
Between the half million whose plans were initially canceled by 
ObamaCare and the 1.9 million people who were already uninsured prior 
to ObamaCare, we should end up with a wash--with no change in the 
uninsured figures for my State of North Carolina, but, actually, we 
don't. The uninsured rate has gone down 2.7 percent--from 19.9 percent 
in 2013 to 17.2 percent in 2014--after the first full year of the 
ObamaCare implementation, so roughly equivalent to about 200,000 people 
in North Carolina. But were all of those people getting quality, 
affordable plans on the exchange as promised by ObamaCare? Hardly. The 
reason is Medicaid enrollment. The majority of the people who the 
administration claims ObamaCare covered have been those who went to the 
exchange to get insurance but were then forced to enroll in Medicaid. 
And when I say forced, I mean forced. The law requires them to have 
insurance, but the exchange doesn't allow them to buy a private plan if 
they are eligible for Medicaid. It shows them one option: Medicaid.
  Well, wait. You said North Carolina didn't expand Medicaid, so how 
did this happen? It is true. Medicaid enrollment for my State has 
increased by 300,000 people--the biggest enrollment increase of any of 
the States that didn't expand Medicaid. What that means is much if not 
all of the drop in the uninsured rate is due to North Carolinians 
enrolling in Medicaid through the exchange. These are the same people 
who were eligible before ObamaCare was ever passed.
  Nationally, last year, nearly 90 percent of ObamaCare's net coverage 
gain was through Medicaid. A study from MIT released in April found 
that Medicaid enrollees receive much less value from the program than 
the cost of paying for services.
  So far, I have been talking about people who were targeted by 
ObamaCare, including the population of previously uninsured, as well as 
those who became uninsured because ObamaCare forced them into the 
exchange. Again, ObamaCare didn't really make a dent in our uninsured 
numbers--not to this point in North Carolina--and it actually harmed 
many who were forced onto the exchange. It turns out that ObamaCare is 
an equal opportunity wrecking ball. It hurt the people it was supposed 
to help. It forced working families who needed quality, affordable, 
permanent care into a program that provides the lowest quality access 
there is--Medicaid.

  ObamaCare took over and removed the insurance options, the individual 
market for people who didn't have employer coverage, leaving those 
Washington-approved ObamaCare plans with increased premiums, increased 
deductibles, and increased copays. You see, increased coverage doesn't 
necessarily mean better health care. If you can't afford your plan or 
you can't find the doctor, then your health care suffers.
  But that is not all. ObamaCare broke health care for everyone else. 
Those of us who were supposedly happy with our doctors and happy with 
our health plans have been affected and will continue to be negatively 
affected.
  What about the majority of Americans who actually have insurance 
through their employer? They haven't necessarily lost coverage yet, but 
they have been harmed. Despite the President's promise to lower 
insurance premiums, the average family premium for employer-sponsored 
coverage has risen $3,500 a year between 2009 and 2014.
  In North Carolina, during the first full year of the exchange 
rollout, premium price increases outpaced increases in wages and 
inflation, losing ground to the working family. Even worse, premium 
prices in individual insurance markets--a market my daughter was a part 
of--went up 147 percent as a result of a plan that promised to reduce 
our health care insurance costs.
  I know I am not the only one who remembers what President Obama said 
about ObamaCare. He said the average premiums would go down $2,500. The 
reality is they have gone up an average of $3,500 a year. All of this 
leads to the problem of people having insurance they can't afford, and 
they are not able to use it because their deductibles and copays are 
simply too high.
  Between this group and the people who are now on Medicaid who can't 
get appointments with the small number of doctors who accept Medicaid, 
what one gets is a dramatic increase in the use of emergency rooms. 
That is exactly the opposite of what supporters of ObamaCare predicted. 
They predicted that emergency room visits would go down. We were told 
that once everyone was insured under ObamaCare, people could go to 
their doctors in outpatient settings and not show up at the ER. 
Instead, people can't afford the copays and deductibles or they can't 
get an outpatient appointment, so they wait until their problem is 
critical and end up in the ER.
  In fact, Kaiser Family Foundation reports that emergency room 
utilization is up significantly among ObamaCare participants. In a 
survey of more than 2,000 emergency room doctors, three-quarters of 
them said emergency room visits have risen since January 1, 2014. 
Medicaid recipients covered under ObamaCare are struggling to find 
doctors who will accept their coverage, so they have no choice but to 
end up at an emergency room, where the costs skyrocket.
  A spokesman for the Emergency Room Doctors Association, Dr. Howard 
Mell, noted:

       There was a grand theory the law would reduce emergency 
     room visits. Well, guess what, it hasn't happened. Visits are 
     going up despite the ACA, and in a lot of cases because of 
     it.

  One of the most troubling elements of ObamaCare to me is the 
intergenerational wealth transfer from the young and the poor to the 
older and the wealthier. When I say ``older,'' I don't mean elderly and 
frail or the population who may be on Medicare; I am talking about a 
wealth transfer from young people in their twenties to people like me 
in their fifties. I would never ask my daughter, who is about to start 
a career in nursing, to pay for her mother's insurance or for my 
insurance, neither would any of you or any other American. That is not 
how parents are wired. But an impersonal law that empowers an 
impersonal bureaucracy does not have the same moral compass as a 
parent.
  For example, ObamaCare's mandates have jacked up premiums for young 
people to keep premiums down for older people like me. I am not sure 
``let's fleece our children and grandchildren'' is a winning talking 
point, so the supporters of the bill try to hide the truth in 
Washington-speak. They call this ``age rating bands.''
  Another talking point that tends to not fly too well with folks is 
``Let's kick seniors off of their Medicare Advantage plans.'' That is 
exactly what happened in North Carolina late last year. Many who know 
about Medicare Advantage plans know they are very important and popular 
among seniors. In my State last year, 57,000 seniors--more than any 
other State in the Nation--were sent cancellation letters from the 
Medicare Advantage plans they liked. Many of these seniors were offered 
a minimum benefit plan with

[[Page S4578]]

higher copayments and higher premiums instead, all because ObamaCare 
cut reimbursement for Medicare Advantage plans out of some bizarre but 
longstanding aversion to the program on the part of some of our friends 
on the other side of the aisle. I have never understood it. Does 
Medicare Advantage somehow give seniors too much control, stability, 
and convenience in their Medicare benefits? I suspect my mom is 
watching me right now in Nashville, TN. I bet if she was asked that 
question, she would say no.
  Just when you think it is really bad, realize that some of the 
toughest ObamaCare hits haven't even been taken yet.
  First, the individual mandate penalty. The penalty for not having 
insurance increases next year to almost $700 per adult or 2.5 percent 
of one's annual income, whichever is greater. This is a penalty which 
many people will be surprised to see when they get their tax return and 
they are expecting this amount and it is $700 or $1,000 less to pay for 
the mandated care. If an individual's income is $50,000, they will pay 
a penalty of $1,000. A family with two adults with an income of $50,000 
will pay $1,400. When adding a college kid to the mix, the penalty is 
$2,100. A lot of people are in for a shock when they open up that tax 
refund and they see the additional hidden costs of ObamaCare on working 
families. That penalty, however, is still dramatically lower than the 
out-of-pocket costs of an ObamaCare plan. So we are forcing Americans 
to pick between bad and worse.
  Second, the employer mandate and penalty. President Obama knows the 
devastation the employer mandate will cause not only for businesses 
but, more importantly, for workers. Employers will be forced to cut 
workers. They will be forced to reduce wages and drop employer-
sponsored health plans altogether and pay the penalty because the 
penalty will cost less than the mandates will to provide the care, and 
many employers simply can't afford it.

  So far, people with employer-sponsored coverage have been harmed only 
by rising costs and shrinking provider networks, but they haven't for 
the most part lost their plans yet. The day is coming when the 
President can no longer delay the employer mandate, and that is when 
the plans they were promising you can keep will be canceled. We will 
see a massive disruption in the group market where most North 
Carolinians get their health insurance.
  Premiums are going up every year because fewer younger, healthier 
people are enrolling than projected. This was completely predictable. 
Young people are no dummies. They know this is a terrible deal for 
them. As a result, insurance companies recalculate premiums based on 
the cost of the pool actually enrolled. The largest insurer in my State 
announced premium hikes for next year in the individual market of at 
least 26 percent. You know it is a bad thing when I felt better about 
the fact that our premium increases in North Carolina were only 26 
percent because in some States they were upwards of 50 percent, and 
there is more to come.
  ObamaCare relies on people paying into the pool to subsidize the 
sicker and poorer members of the pool. That is how insurance works. But 
virtually no one is signing up who isn't eligible for the subsidies.
  CMS released data yesterday showing that 2015 exchange enrollment is 
30 percent below projections made just 3 years ago. And of those who do 
enroll, they are doing it because of the lure of the subsidy. Ninety-
three percent of the North Carolinians who are on the exchange have 
received those subsidies. That means the plans are unaffordable without 
massive subsidies. Those ineligible for the subsidy don't bother to 
sign up. That is why we have seen almost no movement in our State for 
uninsureds.
  ObamaCare is forcing employers to cut jobs and move full-time workers 
into part-time positions. New data show a decline in the average hours 
worked per week by lower wage employees, and many workers are just 
below that 30-hour threshold, 30 hours per week.
  I was at a restaurant in North Carolina a couple months back, and I 
was talking with a manager, who said it was heartbreaking for her to go 
and talk to a single mom who was able to make ends meet between the 
tips and her salary at 40 hours a week and tell her that she can now 
only work 30 hours a week because the restaurant simply cannot afford 
to be exposed to the mandates.
  Now you have people who may have been able to make it on 40 hours a 
week or 45 hours a week having to get two jobs to make ends meet. I 
hear employers talking about how they are having to call each other to 
try to work out the schedules for these hard-working folks.
  The CBO projects that ObamaCare will reduce employment as a result of 
all this by 2 million full-time equivalent jobs in 2017.
  President Obama campaigned saying he wouldn't raise taxes on families 
making less than $250,000 a year. Let's talk a little bit more about 
that. ObamaCare broke that promise as well by creating or raising 20 
different taxes amounting to more than $1 trillion in the first decade. 
Several taxes directly punished families making less than $250,000 a 
year.
  University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan modeled the 
macroeconomic effects of ObamaCare and estimated that the damage would 
be twice as large. He expects Obamacare to cause a 3-percent drop in 
employment and work hours and a 2-percent drop in our gross domestic 
product and worker income. If he is right, the total loss of worker 
compensation caused by the President's health care law will exceed $2 
trillion between 2017 and 2024.
  Now let's talk about the King v. Burwell case that has everyone's 
attention, with the Supreme Court imminently in a position to issue a 
ruling, probably sometime next week. The question for the Supreme Court 
is this: Did the President break the law by going around the will of 
the people in the States that wanted to opt out of establishing a State 
exchange, like we did in North Carolina?
  Mr. President, what I just finished was a very long list of broken 
promises and the fiscal disaster we call ObamaCare. But now I want to 
talk about the King v. Burwell decision.
  The question is this: Did the President break the law by going around 
the will of the people in the States that wanted to opt out of 
establishing a State exchange, such as North Carolina?
  I am not interested in litigating this. I am not an attorney; I am a 
businessman. I will leave the lawyering to others. When I look at King 
v. Burwell, I don't see a legal battle; I see an opportunity. It may 
sound trite, but I see hope. The Court may give us the chance of a 
generation--the chance to fix health care once and for all. We can't 
fix ObamaCare, but we can fix health care.
  But here is the thing. We don't come up with the solution ourselves. 
The press is counting on us to come up with a solution. Others are 
pressuring us on the other side of the aisle. But here is what I think 
we need to do. I think we need to look beyond the traditional way of 
trying to solve health care to a new way, and it starts with something 
fairly simple--humility.
  I won't read the definition, but I think it is something that is 
sometimes missed in Washington. The solution is that we take the power 
out of Washington and we let the States do it. We give States, which 
are closer to the people, the chance--the privilege, really--to offer 
health care solutions that are local, accountable, and affordable.
  Every State is different. Let's respect those differences. I believe 
the solution is one that will give States the flexibility, the funding, 
and the control to decide how best to serve the people of their 
particular State.
  I just went through the long list of problems with ObamaCare. It has 
been problematic from the start, with higher costs, lower quality, less 
freedom, and people losing their coverage. It is a badly written law, 
and it hurts almost everyone.
  Washington had its chance. Now it is time to let the States decide 
what is best for their people, and let the people decide what is best 
for their health care. To do that, we are going to have to do something 
we don't always do up here. We are going to have to jump on this 
opportunity and work together--Republicans and Democrats, the Federal 
Government and the States--to find commonsense solutions that are truly 
patient-centered.
  That is the type of patient-first approach that will give patients 
more

[[Page S4579]]

freedom, more choice, and control over their health care. That is what 
will expand coverage--not bureaucratic power. That will promote genuine 
quality and innovation. It is also what is going to bring costs down. I 
do not think my responsibility is to my party. I do not think our 
responsibility is to the institution of the Senate or the prerogatives 
of the Federal legislative branch.
  I think our responsibility is to the patients who deserve the highest 
quality care; to the patients who want the best treatments for their 
children; to the nurses and doctors who deserve freedom to heal 
according to their wisdom, their experience, and their conscience; and 
to the businesses that deserve the freedom to design affordable 
coverage that fits their workforce.
  Finally, I think we are responsible to the seniors who have paved 
America's road to prosperity before us and who deserve a strong, secure 
Medicare program. The Court may just give us the opportunity to firmly 
and finally reject ObamaCare so that we can deliver what everyone in 
America deserves--a health care solution.
  The law has not worked. It cannot work. It is time we return the 
power of medicine to the people. It is time to stop fighting and to 
start cooperating and to find a permanent solution.
  Patients deserve portability in their health insurance, and they 
deserve affordability. They deserve their peace of mind when their 
parent or their child or they themselves are in their hour of crisis 
and when they can count on getting the best health care America has to 
offer.
  Sometimes politicians in Washington forget that health care is not 
about systems or rules and structure or even markets. It is about real 
people and real families and real lives. So my commitment is simple. 
Our commitment should be simple. No one who has ObamaCare-subsidized 
care today will lose that coverage tomorrow. We are equally committed 
to providing long-term, State-designed, patient-empowering solutions 
that deliver better long-term results, and safe, secure, and affordable 
health care and an improved economy.
  We commit that every patient with a preexisting condition will be 
able to find affordable coverage. No one will hit a cap on benefits. 
Anyone can renew their health plan. That is our commitment. Health care 
is about patients, not politics. It is about doctors and nurses, not 
politicians. For the millions who have been affected, from the 
cancelled plans to the higher costs, we are committed to real solutions 
to protect patients and make health care genuinely personal and 
genuinely affordable.
  Hard-working taxpayers deserve certainty, stability, and peace of 
mind when it comes to health care. A temporary extension of subsidies 
alone would not be enough. It would just be another Washington gimmick. 
It would not address the very real problems with the President's health 
care law. Let's commit to each other--Republicans and Democrats--that 
we will show a little modesty. We won't assume we know what is best for 
every American, and we will let the States come up with solutions. We 
will work together to return power to the States, to the people, and 
really to the kitchen table, where most health care decisions are made.
  I know what you are thinking: I am new and have been here for 6 
months. Maybe I am a little bit naive. But I have herded a lot of cats 
in the North Carolina legislature. I have stepped up to very serious 
challenges, and we produced a lot of good results for my friends and 
colleagues and citizens in North Carolina. I know it can be done at the 
State level when policies are on the line that have a real impact on 
our neighbors--neighbors we have to face in the checkout line and in 
the church pews.
  I am looking forward to providing a solution to the health care 
problems in the United States. I am looking forward to seeing 
bipartisan cooperation, to delivering on the promises that we make 
here, and to fulfilling the promise of fixing health care for our great 
country.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.


                           Order of Procedure

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that 
notwithstanding rule XXII, at 4 p.m. today, June 24, all postcloture 
time on the motion to concur with respect to H.R. 2146 be considered 
expired, the pending motion to concur with amendment be withdrawn, and 
the Senate vote on the motion to concur; that if cloture on H.R. 1295 
is invoked, all postcloture time be considered expired, all motions and 
amendments be withdrawn except the motion to concur with amendment, and 
the Senate immediately vote on the motion to concur with amendment; 
further, that following the disposition of H.R. 1295, all time on the 
compound motion to go to conference under rule XXVIII on H.R. 644 be 
yielded back and the Senate vote on the motion to invoke cloture with 
the mandatory quorum waived.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, we are now one vote away from final passage 
of our bill to renew trade promotion authority. One more vote and we 
can finally, and at long last, send this important bill to the 
President's desk. That vote is expected to take place within the next 
25 minutes.
  This is a critical day for our country. In fact, I would call it a 
historic day. It has taken us a while to get there, longer than many of 
us would have liked. But we all know that anything worth doing takes 
effort. Believe me, this bill has been worth the effort. This is, I 
believe, the most important bill we will pass in the Senate this year. 
It will help reassert Congress's role over the U.S. trade negotiations 
and reestablish the United States as a strong player in international 
trade.
  Renewing TPA has been a top priority for me for many years, and as 
chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I am pleased that with the 
help of Ranking Member Wyden, we have been able to deliver a robust and 
bipartisan bill. It has also been a high priority for the Senate 
majority leader. Thanks to his strong support and leadership, we are 
one step away from completing this important task.
  This bill will help farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and our 
entrepreneurs throughout our country get better access to foreign 
markets and allow them to compete on a level playing field. This bill 
will help give these job creators and the workers they employ greater 
opportunities to grow their businesses, which will help create a 
healthier American economy. The business and agricultural communities 
understand the importance of strong trade agreements. That is why they 
came together in strong support of this important legislation. We have 
heard from all of them throughout this debate. I appreciate their 
enthusiasm and support.
  This has, from the outset, been a bipartisan effort, and I am glad 
that it has remained that way. Throughout this entire debate--here in 
the Senate and over in the House and here in the Senate again--we have 
been able to maintain a bipartisan coalition in support of TPA, fair 
trade, and expanded market access to U.S. exporters. This is no small 
feat. I am appreciative of everyone who has worked so hard to make this 
possible.
  With this final vote, we can complete the work we began so many years 
ago. But let's be clear. Passing TPA is not the end of the story; it is 
just the beginning. As chairman of the Finance Committee, I intend to 
remain vigilant in our oversight as the administration pursues the 
negotiating objectives that Congress has set with this legislation. If 
they fall short, I will be among the first to hold them accountable. 
But that is for another day.
  Today, I urge my colleagues to help us finalize this historic 
achievement and join me in voting in favor of this bipartisan TPA bill. 
If the vote moves the way I think it will, today will be remembered as 
a good day for the Senate, the President, and the American people.
  Once we vote to pass TPA, we will then be voting to invoke cloture on 
the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015. This bill will reauthorize 
and improve three of our trade preference programs: the Generalized 
System of Preferences, or GSP; the African Growth and Opportunity Act, 
or AGOA; and tariff preferences for Haiti. I want to take some time to 
reiterate why each of these programs is important.

[[Page S4580]]

  First, the GSP promotes trade with developing nations by providing 
duty-free tariff treatment of certain products originating in those 
countries. The program helps beneficiary countries advance their 
economic development and move toward more open economies. It also helps 
manufacturers and importers in the United States to receive inputs and 
raw materials at lower costs.
  Approximately three-quarters of U.S. imports under the GSP are raw 
materials, parts and components, or machinery and equipment used by 
U.S. companies to manufacture goods here at home.
  The program expired in 2013. As a result, businesses that would 
typically benefit from this program have had to deal with high tariffs 
on these imports for the last 2 years. Last year alone, American 
companies paid over $600 million in tariffs that would otherwise have 
been eliminated with the GSP in place. Once we finally pass this bill, 
we will take a long overdue step toward solving these problems.
  The preferences bill also includes a long-term renewal of the AGOA 
Program, which lowers U.S. tariffs on the exports of qualified sub-
Saharan African countries, encouraging them to further develop their 
economy. Since AGOA was enacted in 2000, trade with beneficiary 
countries has more than tripled, with U.S. direct investment in 
beneficiary countries growing more than sixfold during that time.
  The program has also helped to create more than 1 million jobs in 
those countries. The AGOA authorization in this preferences bill will 
improve on this past success.
  Some of our colleagues here in the Congress have voiced concerns 
about the AGOA Program and the failure of some beneficiary countries to 
live up to their commitments. I share many of these concerns. We tried 
to address them with this bill. Most notably, the bill creates a 
mechanism under the AGOA Program to allow for benefits to be scaled 
back if a country is found not to be making good faith progress on 
eligibility criteria. We expect the administration to use this new tool 
aggressively.
  Finally, the preferences bill will also extend preferential access to 
the U.S. market for Haiti. As we all know, Haiti is one of the poorest 
countries in the Western Hemisphere. The Haiti preference programs 
support the creation of jobs and stability in a country dealing with 
debilitating poverty and unemployment. I hope this extension will 
encourage continued economic development and democracy in Haiti.
  It is easy to see why these programs have all received bipartisan 
support. I expect that support to continue. In addition to those 
preferences programs, the bill we will be voting on includes 
legislation introduced by Senators Portman and Brown to strengthen the 
enforcement and administration of our antidumping and countervailing 
duty laws. As I have noted in the past, antidumping and countervailing 
duty laws are among the most important trade tools we have to protect 
U.S. companies from unfair foreign trade practices.
  A number of Utah companies do benefit from these laws, which allow 
them to compete against imports that unfairly benefit from the support 
of foreign governments. I am pleased we were able to include this 
legislation in the preferences bill.
  Finally, also included in this bill is an extension of the trade 
adjustment assistance, or TAA, Program. I think I have said enough 
about my opposition to this program here on the floor over the past 
several weeks. I will not delve too deeply into that issue here. 
However, I do understand that for many of my colleagues who want to 
support TPA and free trade, passage of TAA is a prerequisite.
  From the outset of this debate over trade promotion authority, I have 
committed to my colleagues to working to ensure that both TAA and TPA 
move on parallel tracks. I plan to make good on this commitment, and 
today will show that. That is why, despite my misgivings about TAA, and 
with the entire picture in view, I plan to vote for this latest version 
of the trade preferences bill.
  Back in April, the Senate Finance Committee reported four separate 
trade bills. All of these bills have enjoyed bipartisan support and are 
priorities for many Members of Congress. I committed to doing all that 
I could to get all of these bills through Congress and onto the 
President's desk. While the path has taken some unexpected turns, I 
think the light at the end of the tunnel at this point is very visible. 
Once again, we will shortly be voting to pass our TPA bill and send it 
to the President. Shortly thereafter, I expect that we will pass our 
trade preferences bill, which includes TAA, and send it to the House, 
where I think it will pass, hopefully, without much difficulty.
  Then we expect to appoint conferees on the Customs bill, which will 
get us closer to the finish line on that important legislation. 
Needless to say, I am pleased with these developments. I think they 
speak well of what Congress is able to do when Members work together to 
address important issues and solve real problems.
  Once again, I thank my colleagues for working with us on the 
bipartisan effort to update and improve U.S. trade policy. Most 
notably, I once again thank Senator Wyden for his assistance and 
support throughout this effort and on all of these trade bills. He has 
been a great partner and deserves much of the credit for getting us 
this far. I also thank our distinguished majority leader for his 
unwavering support, even in the most difficult times. I also need to 
thank Chairman Ryan of the House Ways and Means Committee, who has been 
a coauthor and a key partner in this endeavor. Of course, I thank 
Speaker Boehner and the House Republican leadership for their efforts 
in getting us through all the twists and turns we have had to take to 
get to this point.
  We also need to give credit to President Obama and Ambassador Froman 
for their work in building and maintaining a coalition of support for 
this entire undertaking.
  Ultimately, I need to thank everyone who supported our work on these 
bills in the Senate, in the House, in the administration, and 
elsewhere, but that list is too long for me to go through on the floor. 
I just hope everyone who had a hand in today's success knows I am 
grateful for the work they have put in. I hope we can build on this 
success and that we can find more ways to work together to help the 
American people solve our Nation's problems.
  I also praise my chief trade counsel on this matter, Everett 
Eissenstat, who with his vast foreign policy experience and trade 
experience has been nothing but a tremendous help to me.
  Chris Campbell, who is our chief of staff on the Finance Committee, 
has played another role; Jay Khosla, who is one of my chief policy 
advisers; and the rest of my staff: Mark Prater, Jeff Wrase, Bryan 
Hickman, Shane Warren, Rebecca Eubank, Kevin Rosenbaum.
  I compliment Senator Wyden's staff as well: Joshua Sheinkman, Jayme 
White, Elissa Alben, Greta Peisch, Anderson Heiman, and Michael Evans. 
They have worked long and hard and, really, we have had a lot of good 
days together and a lot of tough days together, but hopefully it will 
come out all right.
  I can say without reservation that I look forward to tackling the 
bipartisan challenges that lie ahead.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.


                               ObamaCare

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, it has been said that there is nothing 
certain in life but death and taxes.
  I would suggest there is a third item that can be included in that 
saying, and that is bad news about ObamaCare, because if there is one 
thing that can be counted on, it is the regular revelation of new 
ObamaCare failures.
  This past week, we learned that the Obama administration cannot 
verify whether almost $3 billion in subsidies that it paid to insurance 
companies during the first 4 months of 2014 was properly paid. Thanks 
to the government's failure to ensure that a reporting system was in 
place by the time exchange plans went into effect in 2014, the 
government made payments to insurance companies without any way of 
verifying if the payments were correct or if the people it made 
payments for were still enrolled in their plans.
  Unfortunately, missing systems are just par for the course when it 
comes to the President's health care law.
  I don't need to remind anyone of the massive breakdowns that occurred

[[Page S4581]]

when the partially finished healthcare.gov kicked off 2 years ago. The 
President himself referred to healthcare.gov last week as a ``well-
documented disaster.''
  But as bad as these problems have been for a health care law that the 
President once claimed would make purchasing health care as easy as 
shopping on Amazon, they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes 
to ObamaCare.
  Two weeks ago, I came to the floor to talk about the massive rate 
hikes customers on exchanges are facing for 2016. Let me just read a 
couple headlines from the first week in June. CNN: ``Obamacare sticker 
shock: Big rate hikes proposed for 2016.'' From the New York Times: 
``Many Health Insurers Go Big With Initial 2016 Rate Requests.'' From 
the Wall Street Journal: ``More Health-Care Insurers Seek Big Premium 
Increases.'' From the Associated Press: ``8 Minnesota Health Plans 
Propose Big Premium Hikes for 2016.'' From the Newark Star-Ledger: 
``Premiums to jump more than 10 percent on many Obamacare policies.''
  I could go on. Nationwide, insurers have requested double-digit 
premium increases on hundreds of individual and small group plans for 
2016. More than 6 million people are enrolled in plans facing average 
rate increases of 10 percent or more. Around the country, rate 
increases of 20, 30, and even 40 percent are common.
  Yet the President promised that his health care plan ``would bring 
down the cost of healthcare for millions.'' Well, in fact, the 
President's health care law has been driving up the cost of health care 
for millions since its inception. The average family health care 
premium has increased by almost $3,500 since 2009, despite the 
President's promise that health insurance costs for families would 
decrease by $2,500 if his law were passed.
  I could go on about ObamaCare's many failures. I could talk about the 
State exchanges that are failing or those that have already failed. I 
could talk about the individuals who lost their health insurance 
plans--plans, I might add, that they liked--as a result of this law. I 
could talk about the people who no longer can see doctors they saw for 
years because their new ObamaCare plans have severely limited the 
network of doctors they can see. I could talk about the small 
businesses that are struggling with the costs imposed by ObamaCare or 
the fact that the Congressional Budget Office has stated that the law 
will reduce work hours equivalent to 2 million full-time workers by the 
year 2017.
  I think every American gets the point. ObamaCare is broken. It has 
been broken from the beginning. It has failed to deliver on the 
promise--the President's promise--of more affordable, accessible health 
care, and it has made things worse for American families.
  In the next few days, the Supreme Court will release its decision in 
the King v. Burwell case. If the Supreme Court abolishes or phases out 
the ObamaCare subsidies, Republicans will take action to provide 
effective assistance to Americans to repeal the mandates that forced 
these Americans to buy government-approved insurance in the first 
place. Our plan will protect families while we move away from costly, 
top-down, government-mandated health care and toward a system that will 
actually drive down costs and increase choices for American families.
  President Obama promised that his health care law would be a solution 
to the problems plaguing our health care system. The last 5 years have 
proved that ObamaCare is anything but. Not only did ObamaCare fail to 
solve the existing problems in our health care system, it has created 
entirely new ones, and American families are those who are suffering as 
a result.
  It is time for Democrats to stop defending this broken law and start 
working with Republicans to replace it with real health care reform 
that will lower costs, put patients back in charge, and provide greater 
access to quality care. That is what we should be working on. That is 
what the American people expect, and it is long overdue.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.
  Mr. PERDUE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to be able to 
speak for up to 4 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. PERDUE. Mr. President, I rise to speak about the greatest 
domestic policy train wreck we have seen in our lifetime, a 
fundamentally flawed law that is holding back our economy and limiting 
people's freedom when it comes to choices in health care. Of course, I 
am talking about the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare.
  ObamaCare was the creation of a Democratic supermajority that crammed 
ObamaCare through Congress without open debate by the American people. 
In the last 5 years since ObamaCare became law, the American people 
have not yielded in their strong opposition to ObamaCare. In fact, 
today, more than a majority of Americans continue to disapprove of this 
law, and there is no wonder why.
  When I am back home in Georgia, one of the most frequent and sobering 
concerns I hear about is the insidious, negative economic impact of 
this law. The consequences of ObamaCare are hurting Georgians in many 
ways and millions of Americans.
  First, the individual mandate is forcing people onto ObamaCare, 
whether they can afford it or not. Like my wife Bonnie and I, many 
people have had their insurance plans actually canceled, lost access to 
their preferred doctors or were forced onto insurance plans that cost 
more, not less. In Georgia alone, dozens of ObamaCare plans are 
expected to have double-digit rate hikes next year, with some people's 
plans skyrocketing over 60 percent. That is just unacceptable.
  Second, ObamaCare's employer mandate is causing small businesses to 
cut back workers' hours and, in some cases, businesses have actually 
stopped hiring completely. Due to the 30-hour workweek rule inside 
ObamaCare, many people are being forced to move from full-time to part-
time work. This is devastating the families already struggling to get 
from payday to payday. Without a full workweek, many moms and dads are 
juggling multiple part-time jobs to provide for their families and try 
to save for the future. Next year, for example, 2.6 million people are 
in danger of having their hours cut because of ObamaCare. Sixty percent 
of those individuals are female and over 60 percent are the young, 
first-time workers between 18 and 35 years of age.
  Third, given the growing, aging population, ObamaCare is contributing 
to a dangerous doctor shortage. The Association of American Medical 
Colleges is predicting a shortage of as many as 90,000 doctors by 2025.
  Another survey by the Physicians Foundation found that 81 percent of 
doctors describe themselves as either overextended or at full capacity, 
and 44 percent said they planned to cut back on the number of patients 
they see, retire, work part time or actually close their practice to 
new patients.
  Ultimately, ObamaCare is raising costs, not lowering them; cutting 
workers' wages, not growing them; decreasing access, not expanding it; 
and making it harder on the middle class, not easier.
  While the sentiment of the Supreme Court on ObamaCare is still to be 
determined, one thing is crystal clear: ObamaCare is hurting people and 
our economy. It must be fully repealed and replaced.
  We have to stop allowing Washington to dictate what is best for 
individuals and their families. Putting bureaucrats between patients 
and their doctors, between patients and their insurance provider, and 
between doctors and the insurance providers is what created this 
catastrophe in the first place.
  ObamaCare was wrong from the start. We have seen the growing 
unintended consequences of this flawed law in its implementation over 
the last 5 years. We now have the power to change course and create a 
better health care system for all Americans. I remain committed to 
using every tool at our disposal to repeal ObamaCare.
  Achieving consensus on repealing ObamaCare with a patient-based 
alternative will require diligence and robust debate, but I am hopeful 
we can achieve that goal. I urge my colleagues to continue to work not 
just to fight against ObamaCare but to fight to protect the millions of 
people who are hurt by it every day.

[[Page S4582]]

  We can create a health care system that offers the American people 
affordability, transportability, and yes, insurability. We can create 
commonsense health care policy that lowers costs and doesn't harm the 
economy like ObamaCare. And yes, we can create a bipartisan solution 
that helps people by putting patients first and getting Washington out 
of the way.
  It won't be easy, but is achievable. It must be achievable. For the 
sake of our kids and grandkids we must do this. We must get rid of 
ObamaCare once and for all.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gardner). Under the previous order, all 
postcloture time is expired.
  Under the previous order, the motion to concur in the House amendment 
to the Senate amendment to H.R. 2146, with an amendment, is withdrawn.


                        Vote on Motion to Concur

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the motion to 
concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 2146.
  Mr. HATCH. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Utah (Mr. Lee) and the Senator from Florida (Mr. Rubio).
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 60, nays 38, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 219 Leg.]

                                YEAS--60

     Alexander
     Ayotte
     Barrasso
     Bennet
     Blunt
     Boozman
     Burr
     Cantwell
     Capito
     Carper
     Cassidy
     Coats
     Cochran
     Coons
     Corker
     Cornyn
     Cotton
     Crapo
     Daines
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Feinstein
     Fischer
     Flake
     Gardner
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hatch
     Heitkamp
     Heller
     Hoeven
     Inhofe
     Isakson
     Johnson
     Kaine
     Kirk
     Lankford
     McCain
     McCaskill
     McConnell
     Moran
     Murkowski
     Murray
     Nelson
     Perdue
     Portman
     Risch
     Roberts
     Rounds
     Sasse
     Scott
     Shaheen
     Sullivan
     Thune
     Tillis
     Toomey
     Vitter
     Warner
     Wicker
     Wyden

                                NAYS--38

     Baldwin
     Blumenthal
     Booker
     Boxer
     Brown
     Cardin
     Casey
     Collins
     Cruz
     Donnelly
     Durbin
     Franken
     Gillibrand
     Heinrich
     Hirono
     King
     Klobuchar
     Leahy
     Manchin
     Markey
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Mikulski
     Murphy
     Paul
     Peters
     Reed
     Reid
     Sanders
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Sessions
     Shelby
     Stabenow
     Tester
     Udall
     Warren
     Whitehouse

                             NOT VOTING--2

     Lee
     Rubio
       
  The motion was agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Carolina.
  Mr. SCOTT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that Senator Graham 
and I be allowed to speak for about 5 minutes, equally divided.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          ____________________