(Senate - June 16, 2015)

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[Pages S4171-S4173]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I move to proceed to Calendar No. 118, 
H.R. 2685.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.
  The bill clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 118, H.R. 2685, a bill 
     making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the 
     fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other 

                             Cloture Motion

  Mr. McCONNELL. I send a cloture motion to the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to 
     proceed to H.R. 2685, an act making appropriations for the 
     Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 
     30, 2016, and for other purposes.
         Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, James Lankford, Roger F. 
           Wicker, John Barrasso, Thom Tillis, Steve Daines, Tom 
           Cotton, Kelly Ayotte, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, John 
           Thune, Jerry Moran, Richard C. Shelby, Daniel Coats, 
           Jeff Flake, Rob Portman.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.

                   National Defense Authorization Act

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, later this afternoon, the Senate will 
decide whether to advance or filibuster the Defense authorization 
legislation which is before us. Senators will take a vote and Senators 
will make a choice. One option is for Senators to follow the bipartisan 
example of the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services 
Committee, both of which passed Defense authorization legislation with 
bipartisan backing.
  It means reaching across the aisle to support the men and women who 
support us every single day. It means voting to transform bureaucratic 
waste into crucial investments for brave troops and their families, 
raises they have earned, quality-of-life programs they deserve, and the 
kind of medical care and mental health support they should expect when 
injured on the battlefield or haunted by memories at home.
  It means ensuring our military has the tools it needs to help America 
navigate a treacherous world beset by an ever-growing array of 
challenges. It means advancing a bill that contains ideas and 
priorities from both parties and one that gives President Obama the 
exact level of funding authorization he asked for in his own budget 
  It also means endorsing the Senate's return to considering Defense 
authorization bills through the regular order, allowing real bipartisan 
debate and a real bipartisan amendment process as we have done this 
year, as opposed to the bad old days of ramming it through at the last 
minute. That is one option: voting for cloture, voting for a bipartisan 
bill that is good for our troops and our country.
  But there is another option too: voting to filibuster, voting to 
raise the curtain on this truly bizarre filibuster summer, a strategy 
we hear Democratic leaders boasting about in the press. Democratic 
leaders are apparently so passionate--passionate--about dumping more 
cash into gargantuan DC bureaucracies like the IRS that they now seem 
prepared to block and filibuster the benefits owed to our troops and 
their families or even--even--shut down the government altogether if 
they can't get their way.
  As one newspaper reported this morning, ``Democrats appear eager to 
return to shutdown politics.'' The minority leader seemed to put it 
plainly enough the other day: ``We're headed for another shutdown,'' he 
said. But that can only happen if commonsense Democrats allow their 
party leaders to advance the shutdown-seeking filibuster summer gambit.
  Today is every commonsense Democrat's chance to say, Enough. This is 
a bad strategy. Today is every commonsense Democrat's opportunity to 
help pull their party back from a senseless

[[Page S4172]]

path of forcing endless filibusters and a shutdown no one wants but the 
hard left. That is what they want. Because here is what every Senator 
knows deep down: Voting to filibuster would mean allowing Democratic 
leaders to take from every soldier, every sailor, every marine, and 
every man and woman in the Air Force the pay raises they have earned, 
so Democratic leaders can use it as an ante in the game of shutdown 
  Voting to filibuster would mean allowing Democratic leaders to hold 
our military hostage at a time of unprecedented global threats as part 
of some partisan ploy to extract--extract--a few more bucks for 
Washington bureaucrats. I just cannot imagine serious-minded Democrats 
feeling comfortable going along with their leaders' plan. It is just 
too callous. It is just too extreme. So I hope they will not. I hope 
every one of my colleagues, no matter which party they are in, will 
stand together instead for bipartisanship, for regular order, for the 
idea that we should support the troops who support us.
  I thank Chairman McCain for all of his hard work to get us to this 
point. He did a marvelous job working across the aisle to craft a 
serious defense bill, with input and amendments from both sides. The 
Senate, our military, and our country stand to benefit immensely from 
his dedication. So I hope every Senator of good will will stand up and 
vote to advance this bipartisan bill later today.

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.

                           Government Funding

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I have for many, many years--every Thursday, 
when we are in session, I have what I call ``Welcome to Washington.'' I 
look forward to those Thursday mornings at 8:30 visiting with people 
from Nevada, and there are guests and their friends who come from other 
places who want to visit with me. So I enjoy those very much.
  Last Thursday, I had a young man named Nathaniel visit. He had been 
an intern for me. His family is from Nevada. His grandfather is a very 
famous man by the name of John Squire Drendel. John Squire Drendel is 
now 93 but a wonderful lawyer and just a good person. The reason I 
recognized Nathaniel--they came back to one of my ``Welcome to 
Washingtons.'' I called him and I said: Hey, Nathaniel. Come on up 
here. I said: Let's show these folks some of your magic tricks. So that 
is what he would do. I would bring him in and he could do magic tricks. 
He is now going to law school. His magic tricks aren't as good as they 
used to be. He hasn't practiced very much.
  What I have heard my friend the Republican leader talk about today--
he is trying to do some magic tricks. It is not only on the Senate but 
the country. The Defense authorization bill is an important piece of 
legislation. We Democrats support our troops. No one can dispute that. 
We are just as patriotic as any Republican. My 46 Democrats are just as 
patriotic as the 54 Republicans. We support defense just as much as our 
Republican friends do. But we also support the rest of our country.
  We support the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice 
Department. We support the U.S. marshals who are now out looking for 
those two killers who escaped from prison in New York. We support the 
Drug Enforcement Administration. We support the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service, Social Security, VA. I could go on and on.
  To have a sound, secure homeland, we have to make sure we take care 
not only of the Pentagon's needs but the needs of the American people. 
My friend the Republican leader, as a little bit of his magic, always 
throws in the Internal Revenue Service, as if: Boy, we are doing great 
things. We are cutting the Internal Revenue Service. I am not here to 
throw bouquets to the Internal Revenue Service, but I am here to say it 
is an important part of our country.
  I met with the head of the IRS maybe a couple of months ago now. He 
came and said: You know, we made it through tax season and we did a 
good job. But he said: During the time that people were trying to file 
their income tax returns, if someone had tried to call the Internal 
Revenue Service, they would not have gotten an answer. We did not have 
enough personnel to even answer the phones.
  Is that what we want? Do we want people who call the IRS not to be 
able to have someone answer the phone? And a lot of that is happening 
  The Federal Government is being starved for resources. Why? Because 
of the Republican determination to try some magic. We know the 
Republicans are not really serious about the Defense bill. If they 
were, would they throw on this the Export-Import Bank--an amendment--
and move to table their own amendment? Of course not. Some 165,000 
people are working today because of the Export-Import Bank. It is an 
important function of our government.
  But a large number of Republicans are trying to kill this program, 
indicating how unserious they are about doing something about it, by 
focusing on the Defense bill an amendment that they filed and moved to 
table their own amendment just so they could check the box: Well, we 
tried to do something on Export-Import Bank.
  Cyber security. We are being hacked on a daily basis. They are not 
only hacking businesses, they are hacking our government--everything. 
To show how unserious the Republicans are about this issue, which we 
have been trying to do something as Democrats for years, the 
Republicans filed an amendment on this bill knowing the President has 
already said he is going to veto the bill.
  I am so disappointed in how the Republicans are being very ungenuine 
in trying to move forward on this legislation. The bill is going to be 
vetoed; the President said so.
  The other thing that I think is important for the American public to 
understand and to make sure all of the Members of the Senate and their 
staff understand is that this is an authorization.
  I can remember that as a boy in Nevada, in high school, I would see 
these big announcements--Senator Cannon and Senator Bible introduced 
this legislation. I wondered why nothing ever happened on it. It was 
because it was only to authorize. The important function of this 
government--and it has been since the beginning--is to have an 
Appropriations Committee. After something is authorized, it has to be 
  So of course this authorization bill is important, and we believe it 
is important. But my friend the Republican leader is treating it--
trying to perform some magic because he is really not serious about it 
for the reasons I have mentioned.

                              FOOD SAFETY

  Mr. President, I have thought about this little girl for so many 
years, little Rylee, Rylee Gustafson. What a sweet, sweet spirit. I 
have thought about her so often. She was 9 years old. She ate a salad 
that almost killed her. There was spinach in that salad and E. coli in 
that spinach. She got so sick, she was hospitalized. Her kidneys began 
to fail. Her pancreas started to dysfunction. Before long, fluid 
swelled up in her brain, heart, and lungs.
  All told, Rylee spent 34 days in the hospital. She was a 9-year-old. 
I wish that were the only time she was in the hospital, but it was not. 
I wish that were the only time she needed medical care, but it was not. 
Eventually, she ``recovered,'' but the lasting effects on this little 
girl have been horrible. She developed diabetes because of the damage 
to her pancreas, and she now takes an insulin shot every day. She will 
need a kidney transplant before she turns 30; that is what the doctors 
have told her. As horrific as her account is, it is not unique. This 
little girl is now a teenager and still sick. Her growth was stunted.
  Unfortunately for many Americans, falling ill from contaminated foods 
has become all too regular. According to the Centers for Disease 
Control, one in every six Americans gets sick from food every year. 
That is about 48 million Americans who become sick from food in this 
great country.
  More than 3,000 people die every year from foodborne illness, and 
those who don't die can be forced to deal with a lifetime of health 
complications, just like Rylee. Yes, she is alive, but what horrible 
consequences followed her having a salad.
  At a recent Senate hearing on this issue, a woman named Lauren Bush

[[Page S4173]]

shared her experience with food contamination. Listen to an account 
that she shared of the ordeal.

       During my junior year of college, my life suddenly and 
     irrevocably changed when I almost died after eating a spinach 
       What the doctors initially thought to be nothing more than 
     a virus quickly escalated to a diagnosis of appendicitis. 
     Through clenched teeth and unbearable pain, I argued with the 
     doctors that something didn't feel right. It was like nothing 
     I had ever felt before. They began to suspect that I was 
     right when I quickly took a turn for the worse. I found 
     myself in class one day and in a hospital bed the next.
       I spent the next three weeks in and out of two hospitals, 
     two emergency rooms, and three urgent-treatment facilities 
     before I was well enough to go home and recover.
       I had lost nearly 20 pounds, and went from being an 
     otherwise young, healthy student to an emotional and physical 
     disaster--all in less than one month's time.
       I spent the next five months in recovery on continuous 
     antibiotics and vitamins from the resulting complications. I 
     almost lost my colon; and I lost my dignity when I was unable 
     to feed and care for myself. I was fortunate enough to return 
     to school the following spring, but it was several months 
     before I could walk to class without stopping to take a 
     breath. And in some ways, my body will never be the same.

  Sadly, there are far too many Americans with stories similar to 
Rylee's and Lauren's. Take, for example, the recent listeria outbreak 
in two brands of some of the food products millions of Americans 
enjoy--ice cream and hummus. To date, the outbreak has claimed the 
lives of three people and sickened hundreds of others. One of the ice 
cream factories is closed as a result of this.
  This is all the more tragic because each of these contaminations 
could have been prevented. The United States is the most advanced 
country in the world. We have the technology and the resources to 
ensure better food quality for people like Rylee.
  We have made progress. In 2010, for a lot of reasons but not the 
least of which was Rylee, Congress passed the most sweeping reform of 
our Nation's food safety laws since the 1930s. The law shifted the 
focus of food safety laws from responding to contamination to 
preventing it. The FDA is working hard to implement this critical law. 
But the Food Safety Modernization Act cannot work if it doesn't have 
any money. Current funding levels don't provide the resources necessary 
to adequately fund programs to stop food contamination and create a 
system based on prevention.
  It is that word again--``sequestration.'' This Agency has never 
recovered from the hit taken when the government was closed and then 
because of sequestration. By keeping sequestration in place, 
Republicans are hampering efforts to stamp out food borne illness.
  Nobody should ever have to worry about dying from eating ice cream or 
being hospitalized after consuming hummus or spinach. Congress must act 
to strengthen the food safety of our country and the Food Safety 
Modernization Act, and we must do it now. Let's stop sequestration. 
Let's go ahead and authorize the bills, but, remember, we cannot fund 
them with funny money.
  I can't imagine my Republican friends--and I have said before, my 
friend, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee--allowing this 
bill to go forward with this deficit spending that they call OCO. The 
Pentagon thinks it is wrong. All people who understand economics think 
it is wrong. Another $39 billion in deficit spending is just wrong. We 
need to fund the military, and we need to fund the nonmilitary--that 
is, nondefense programs--and we need to do it to make our homeland 
  I hope that programs like this--Rylee has suffered so that we would 
do something--I hope that we will take care of her and people just like 
her and do something to fund these programs and prevent illnesses that 
are caused by food.
  We need to act responsibly and raise the level of funding for these 
vital programs because for far too many Americans, this issue is a 
matter of life and death. All we need to do is ask Rylee and ask 
Lauren, and they will tell us.

                       RESERVATION OF LEADER TIME

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the leadership time 
is reserved.