AMERICA'S SMALL BUSINESS TAX RELIEF ACT OF 2015; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 56
(Senate - April 13, 2016)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Pages S1985-S2019]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




            AMERICA'S SMALL BUSINESS TAX RELIEF ACT OF 2015

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of H.R. 636, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 636) to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 
     1986 to permanently extend increased expensing limitations, 
     and for other purposes.

  Pending:

       McConnell (for Thune/Nelson) amendment No. 3679, in the 
     nature of a substitute.
       Thune amendment No. 3680 (to amendment No. 3679), of a 
     perfecting nature.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I wish to speak briefly to the legislation 
before us, the FAA reauthorization.
  The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which I 
chair, was instrumental in bringing this bill to the floor. Our 
committee has a long and proud history of bipartisan cooperation on 
important matters under its jurisdiction. This extends to the bill 
before us today, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization 
Act of 2016, which I, along with my colleagues, introduced and marked 
up in front of our committee.
  The legislation before us today includes the most passenger-friendly 
provisions, the most significant aviation safety reforms, and the most 
comprehensive aviation security enhancements of any FAA reauthorization 
in recent history. This bill helps passengers and Americans who use the 
national airspace for many different transportation needs.
  For example, since the last reauthorization of the Federal Aviation 
Administration in 2012, the use of drones has increased dramatically. 
According to its most recent aerospace forecast, the FAA estimates that 
annual sales of both commercial and hobby unmanned aircraft could be 
2.5 million in 2016--a number they estimate may increase to 7 million 
units annually by 2020. But the FAA has an outdated legislative 
framework being used to shape the use of this rapidly growing 
technology for both hobbyists and commercial operators. This is slowing 
down innovation and advancements in safety. Our bill gives the FAA new 
authority to enforce safe drone usage. This includes efforts to make 
sure drone users know and follow basic rules of the sky to avoid 
dangerous situations.
  To support job growth in the aerospace industry, our legislation 
reforms the process the FAA uses for approving new aircraft designs. 
Our goal is to shorten the time it takes for U.S. aerospace innovations 
to go from design boards to international markets while maintaining 
safety standards.
  For the general aviation community, we are also streamlining redtape 
and adding safety enhancements for small aircraft by including 
provisions from the Pilot's Bill of Rights 2.
  Finally, we increase authorized funding for the Airport Improvement 
Program, which pays for infrastructure like runways, by $400 million 
with existing surplus funds. This allows us to help meet pressing 
construction needs without raising taxes or fees on the traveling 
public.
  We developed this bill through a robust and open process that allowed 
every member of the Commerce Committee to help guide the content of 
this critical aviation legislation. Last year the Commerce Committee 
held six hearings on topics that helped inform our legislation. At the 
committee markup last month, we accepted 57 amendments, 34 of which 
were sponsored by Democrats and 23 of which were sponsored by 
Republicans.
  Since debate began on the bill last week, we have successfully 
included an additional 19 amendments here on the floor of the Senate. 
Ten of these amendments are sponsored by Democrats and nine by 
Republicans.
  This bill deserves the Senate's support. I urge Members to remember 
all of the important improvements this legislation puts in place for 
aviation security, consumer protection efforts, American innovation, 
safety, and job

[[Page S1986]]

creation. I hope we will be able to send this bill to the House soon. 
We are on a pathway that will enable us to do that. As I mentioned 
before, we have had a number of amendments that have been disposed of, 
processed here on the floor already. Nineteen amendments have been 
added to the bill since it came to the floor, in addition to the 57 we 
adopted at the committee level.
  I want to credit the hard work that has been done by the staffs on 
both sides. The Commerce Committee staff obviously has been very 
involved on the majority side as well as the minority side in helping 
to shape this as it came out of the committee and to the floor. Lots of 
hours were put into getting us to where we are today. I think where we 
are is we have a bipartisan bill which has been broadly supported 
coming out of the committee, which has numerous safety enhancements in 
it--the most we have seen in a decade--and a bill which is worthy of 
all Senators' support.
  Having said that, there are other amendments that have been filed. I 
am not sure what the number is today, but we had 198 amendments filed 
to the bill, and we are continuing to work with the sponsors of those 
amendments to try to get additional amendments adopted. We obviously 
have to have cooperation from Members on both sides in order for that 
to happen. We have a list of another 10 or a dozen amendments we think 
could be cleared and could be added to the legislation, but we are 
going to need Members who currently have holds on that process to lift 
those holds.
  We are on a glidepath to getting this bill to votes coming up 
tomorrow, so we have today and perhaps part of tomorrow in which to 
process additional amendments. I hope Members will decide to work with 
us. We think this bill has obviously been very well vetted. As I said, 
it was debated heavily at the committee level, and we have now had 
opportunities to offer amendments on the floor. But there are always 
ways in which it can be improved. There are a lot of worthy amendments 
that Members have interest in adding to this legislation, some of which 
are germane to the legislation, some of which are not. Obviously, once 
we get to cloture on the bill, only those amendments that are germane 
will be able to be voted on, but we would like to get other amendments 
processed.
  So what I am saying is that throughout the day today, if Members will 
work with us, and for those who currently have holds on that process 
moving forward, if you would lift those, it will enable us to process a 
lot of amendments Senators are interested in having added to the bill.
  We will continue throughout the day to negotiate with Members and 
hopefully have an additional list of amendments that we can adopt. I 
would say again that my colleague, the ranking Democrat on the Commerce 
Committee, Senator Nelson and I have worked very carefully throughout 
this process to make sure it is an open process and incorporates the 
best ideas from both sides. Today we have in front of us a bill which I 
think does that, and that is the reason I think it is very worthy of 
our Members' support.
  We have had a lot of participation. Members of our committee on both 
sides have had ample opportunities to get amendments considered and 
voted on, 57 of which were adopted during the committee deliberations 
on this. It is the product of a lot of work.
  I think we are at a place that when we report this out, it is a 
product we can be proud of, and we can send it to the House of 
Representatives in hopes that they will pick it up or, if they decide 
to pass their own version of this legislation, meet us in conference 
where we can work out the differences but get these important safety 
measures--these important measures that will support jobs and 
innovation in our economy--onto the President's desk where they can be 
signed into law and can be implemented and put into effect.
  That is where we are at the moment. Again, I thank all of our 
colleagues for their cooperation to date and hope that we can see more 
of that moving forward because it will enable us, in my view, to 
continue to strengthen this bill before it gets to its ultimate 
passage, which I hope will be sometime later this week. We have been on 
it now for a couple of weeks, and it is time to get it off the floor, 
get it to the House, and, hopefully, eventually onto the President's 
desk.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.


                               Terrorism

  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, as I traveled all over Oklahoma during 
the State work weeks in March, I heard the concerns over and over from 
families in my State about terrorism. I talked with a gentleman in 
Coalgate, OK, who absolutely could not understand how the United States 
could release $1 billion to Iran the same month that rural hospitals 
across our State and across America were facing new cuts from CMS in 
new criteria there. That $1 billion that was sent by the United States 
to Iran could have bailed out every single rural hospital in America.
  I talked to a mom in Lawton who did not understand why there was a 
conversation in DC about closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility 
and bringing those individuals into the United States.
  I talked to a dad in Tulsa, a dad of a soldier, who wanted to know 
what is happening with terrorism and what is America's response.
  I talked to an Oklahoma business owner who is very concerned about 
cyber security and the threat of foreign governments attacking his 
network and other networks and businesses around the country.
  As details come out about what happened in Brussels in that terrorist 
attack, every American has their security and their family in mind. I 
continue to pray for the victims of those awful attacks and work to 
determine the best way our great Nation can confront this threat.
  As the only Member of this body who serves on both the Homeland 
Security and the Intelligence Committees, I have the privilege to 
ensure that Oklahomans and Americans have a strong voice in the 
discussion over our Nation's national security priorities. There is no 
simple solution, though, and there is no single method to confront 
terrorism. But we must be absolutely clear that terrorists will find no 
quarter in the land of the free, in the home of the brave.
  As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I walk behind a 
heavy door several times a week to hear the sobering details about 
foreign threats and the amazing work that Americans do to confront 
them. I wish we could talk about all those things here because I 
believe Americans would be very proud of the work that is going on.
  We can talk about disrupted terrorist plots and insight into 
adversaries' plans that allow us to adjust and to prepare and to 
confront those terrorists before they bring the fight here. There are 
hard questions behind those closed doors. Oversight should be expected, 
and open discussions should be expected.
  Let me say today how incredibly grateful I am for the people in the 
intelligence community who work hard every single day. Members of our 
military and members of law enforcement around the country wear 
uniforms, and we get a chance to say thank you to them personally when 
we see them. But members of the intelligence community are patriotic 
Americans who are working to protect their families and our families 
every day. We don't get to say thank you to them because we don't know 
who they are. But let me say thank you to them today from our country.
  Right now, members of radical Islamic groups around the world are 
calling out on social media, through encrypted messages and in public 
forums around the world, for the small minority of Muslims who believe 
as they do and who believe in their hate-filled doomsday mission. They 
tell people that if they believe as they do, they should kill as they 
do. ISIS is enraged by our views about free speech, freedom of 
religion, girls attending school, equal pay, equal opportunity, and 
even voting in elections. It is almost impossible for Americans to 
imagine their hatred for the modern world and for freedom and basic 
human rights.
  How do you win against an enemy like that? You confront them is how 
you do it, not ignore them. You deal with their ideology that spreads 
like a cancer around social media platforms around the world.

[[Page S1987]]

  Some people say poverty and lack of education creates radicalism. 
There are billions of people in the world who live in poverty, and most 
of them do not practice this particular form of radical Islam. The 
shooters in San Bernardino, CA, weren't living in poverty or lacking in 
education. The killers in Paris and Brussels were not isolated and 
poor. While refugees and isolated communities in poverty are 
undoubtedly breeding grounds for anger and frustration, that is not the 
primary cancer of terrorism. There are millions of people living as 
refugees in the world right now who are not extremists. They are not 
terrorists; they just want peace so they can go home and have a normal 
life again.
  We do have a moral and national security obligation to help the 
vulnerable when we can. The refugee crisis is immense, and it is 
affecting millions worldwide. Many countries are at the brink, and we 
need to stay engaged. But America has already given billions of dollars 
in aid. No country--no country has done more for the refugees than the 
United States. Our logistics, our support, and our financial aid have 
sustained most of the refugee communities there either through direct 
aid or what we are doing through the United Nations right now. But the 
people living as refugees need access to education and training so 
their children will grow up with skills and opportunity. We can help 
them have a second chance. But that is not the primary source.

  We need to engage with religious leaders around the world. We cannot 
and we will not define faith for them, but we can challenge any faith 
that promotes the death of people because of their race, their belief, 
or their gender. We should work to shut off terrorists' financing 
around the world, their illegal energy trade, their drug trafficking, 
their extortions, and persons in wealthy countries who send money with 
the implicit promise that those terrorists will not bring terrorism to 
their country if only they will send them money to do terrorism in 
other places.
  We must also fight and confront those individuals militarily. We must 
learn the lesson of 9/11. They are not just a group of radical thugs 
over there who we can ignore. They hate us, and they will find every 
way possible to attack us here and to attack our allies. No one wants 
war, but we cannot stand by and watch terrorists beheading Egyptian 
Christians on the beaches of Libya, killing Shia Muslims because of 
their faith in Iraq, blowing themselves up in an airport in Brussels, 
shooting people at a rock concert or a synagogue in Paris or just 
people enjoying a party at work in California. We can't put our heads 
in the sand and ignore what is really happening and assume it will just 
go away if we do nothing.
  As long as they hold territory, they call out to people worldwide to 
come join them in their caliphate to come fight for them or to fight 
where they are. We are Americans. We lose track of that at times, I am 
afraid. No one in the world has the same logistical capability as the 
United States of America. No one in the world has the most moral, most 
powerful military in the world like the United States of America. No 
one has our intelligence capability. No one in the world has our Tax 
Code planning capability. So the whole world is waiting on America to 
decide what we are going to do so they can decide if they are going to 
join us in this fight against this radical Islamic terrorism. It is not 
about massive troops on the ground; it is about a clear plan and a 
clear strategy to carry it out. It is why the Russians currently look 
more mobile and more capable than us all of a sudden.
  So the ``now what'' question rises large in this body.
  No. 1, there are multiple proposals in State and foreign operations 
for how we can engage in peaceful activities: helping refugees, helping 
those in poverty, helping to bring education to places, helping engage 
diplomatically with religious leaders around the world and with other 
countries to deal with terrorist financing. Those are things we could 
and should do and should do more aggressively.
  No. 2, the national defense authorization is coming, and it is coming 
soon. We need to give great military clarity--not only rules of 
engagement in the battlefield, but what is the clear purpose militarily 
for the United States in this battle against radical Islam?
  No. 3 is tougher for this Nation, apparently: Believe and understand 
that Iran is one of the key areas in this fight. I believe this 
administration has been too eager to believe good news about Iran and 
is ignoring the concerns that many of us hold. I have stood here 
several times in the past year to speak out against the President's 
reckless nuclear deal with the Iranian Ayatollah. I didn't like it 
then, I still don't like it, and I still don't believe Iran can be 
trusted to be able to carry out its end of bargain.
  I recently authored a resolution that clearly outlines to the 
administration how the United States should respond if Iran--and I 
believe when Iran--breaches the nuclear agreement. We should reapply 
waived sanctions and U.N. Security Council resolutions and limit Iran's 
ability to import defensive equipment so they can stop fortifying their 
nuclear capabilities over the next 10 years. When all the enrichment 
limitations are lifted, they will be well prepared to defend those 
facilities they have now created.
  As I have said many times, until Iran proves it is a peaceful, 
responsible player in the Middle East, the international community must 
be vigilant in pushing back against Iran's harmful and destructive 
influence among its neighbors.
  Last week I spoke with Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary of the 
Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, and he 
communicated to me exactly what everyone already knows and fears--that 
Iran has become even more of a destabilizing factor in the region after 
the nuclear deal was signed.
  This is clearly evident in Iran's continued, unabashed support for 
terrorism and terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, their propping 
up of the Assad regime in Syria--a government that continues to blow up 
its own people and butcher its own people--and Iran's shipments of 
weapons to rebels in Yemen to be able to fuel their civil war there, 
right on Saudi Arabia's southern border.
  We haven't even discussed Iran's testing of ballistic missiles in 
direct violation of international law. If Iran can't be trusted to 
uphold the law now, how can it be trusted to be able to uphold some 
agreement which it hasn't even signed? That is the Joint Comprehensive 
Plan of Action.
  Congressionally imposed sanctions on Iran is what brought the 
Ayatollah to the negotiating table. Let's be honest about this. 
Regardless of what some people may say about the momentum of the 
moderates and the reformists inside of Iran, Iran's foreign policy, 
especially in dealing with the United States, runs through the 
Ayatollah Khamenei. He has made it crystal clear that his regime is 
built on radical Islamist views, and this particular view of Shia 
Islam--though it is opposed to ISIS--is supportive of spreading their 
views around the world. It is absolutely anti-American.
  It is essential that the Treasury continue to completely shut down 
Iran's access to the U.S. dollar, and it is essential that Treasury 
rigorously enforce the still-standing human rights and terrorism-
related sanctions on Iran.
  I spoke with DNI Clapper in this administration just a few weeks ago. 
When I asked the Director of National Intelligence if there has been 
any change in Iran's focus on being the largest state sponsor of 
terrorism in the world, this administration's Director of National 
Intelligence said there has been no change in Iran's behavior since the 
nuclear deal was signed in relation to terrorism.
  We should not release known terrorists or bring them to U.S. soil. I 
can't believe I have to even raise this as an issue in this Nation. We 
should keep Guantanamo Bay, known as Gitmo--that detention facility--
open and operational rather than releasing known terrorists back into 
the battlefield or bringing them to the United States.
  In this era of growing threats, why would we irresponsibly release 
these individuals? Senator Kirk and I, along with four other members of 
this body, introduced a bill last week to prohibit the President from 
transferring terrorists detained in Guantanamo Bay to any other state 
where they may go and actually sponsor terrorism. It is not a hard 
decision; it is common sense.

[[Page S1988]]

  Our bill is very clear: If those individuals are transferred out of 
Guantanamo to some other state and then they later commit some act of 
terrorism, that state's foreign aid is cut off. The expectation is if 
these individuals go to that location, that location is actually going 
to monitor them. Americans assume that at this point, but it is not 
happening.

  Senator Inhofe and I will introduce a bill later today which 
prohibits the transfer to the United States or release of terrorists 
held in Guantanamo Bay. It also goes further than what we do with 
Senator Kirk's bill, and it actually prohibits the President from 
closing the facility entirely. The President should not risk our 
Nation's national security just to fulfill some campaign promise that 
makes absolutely no sense and puts our country at risk.
  The executive branch occasionally laments congressional engagement in 
foreign policy, but this is the way the American people speak out 
because the people in Oklahoma are absolutely concerned about what is 
happening in national security and they want this administration to 
hear it loud and clear. There seems to be no clear plan, and the plans 
that are clear seem to weaken our resolve on national security.
  Today I simply ask my colleagues to join me and do what the people 
who we represent sent us here to do--to assume the mantle of 
responsibility as leaders and to show them that we are not afraid to 
work with this administration or any administration. We need to take 
responsibility for setting the Nation's national security agenda. It 
must be done.
  It can't be done just militarily. It must be done in a broad method 
by reaching out, not only strategically and diplomatically through our 
State Department but also militarily with a clear focus to make sure we 
protect the Nation and that we don't release terrorists and actually do 
what we are supposed to do--guard this Nation's security.
  With that, I yield back.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                  For-Profit Colleges and Universities

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, if we ask most Americans: What is the 
difference between a for-profit college and university and a not-for-
profit college and university, a private university, most of them would 
say: I am not sure I can tell you.
  Well, certainly for-profit, by definition, is a business. It is 
primarily a business that generates a profit for the company if it is 
successful. It pays for the salaries and compensation of those who work 
for the company, and if there are shareholders, it tries to increase 
the value of shares and maybe even pay a dividend.
  The others--the not-for-profits--by definition don't do that, and 
most private universities are not for profit. Examples: University of 
Illinois, a public university, the University of Maryland. Private 
universities: Georgetown University, George Washington University. For-
profit universities: The University of Phoenix--people have probably 
heard of it--DeVry University out of Chicago, IL; ITT Tech; Kaplan, 
these are for-profit colleges and universities. Are they different? 
They are dramatically different.
  Let me give my colleagues three numbers that define the difference 
between for-profit colleges and universities and all the others. Here 
are the numbers: Ten percent of all of college students in America go 
to for-profit colleges and universities, like the University of 
Phoenix. These, many times online, universities including Kaplan and 
DeVry, 10 percent of the students go to them.
  Twenty percent of all of the Federal aid to education goes to for-
profit colleges and universities. Why is it twice as much as the 
percentage of students? They are darned expensive. They have tuition 
that is usually much more costly than other colleges and universities.
  So that is 10 percent of the students, 20 percent of the Federal aid 
to education, and the next number is 40. Forty percent of all the 
student loan defaults in the United States of America are students 
attending for-profit colleges and universities--10 percent of the 
students, 40 percent of the student loan defaults. Why? The answer is 
obvious. They are very expensive and the education they provide often 
isn't worth much.
  Students who enroll and start courses at for-profit colleges and 
universities get in over their heads and drop out--the worst possible 
outcome. Now they are deep in debt with no degree, and they default on 
their loan. Some finish, and for many of them, it is even worse. After 
they have stacked up all of this debt, they graduate from a for-profit 
college and university and find out the diploma is worthless. That is 
the reality of higher education in America today.
  For quite a long time I have come to the Senate floor and talked 
about these for-profit colleges and universities. I got into this by 
meeting a young woman from a southern suburb of Cook County. She went 
to a place called Westwood College, a for-profit college and university 
based out of Colorado. She had been watching all of these CSI shows and 
the rest of them. She was just caught up in law enforcement. She wanted 
to get into law enforcement. So she enrolled at this for-profit 
college--Westwood--and started attending classes. Well, it turned out 
to be expensive, and then it turned out to be a disaster.
  Five years later, she graduated and received her diploma from 
Westwood. She took the diploma to police departments and sheriffs' 
offices all around the region and they looked at her and said: Sorry, 
but that is not a real university. You have gone to school there for 5 
years, and I know you have the diploma, but we don't recognize 
Westwood. Westwood College is not a real university.
  So she found out her diploma was worthless, she couldn't get a job, 
but here is the worst part: At that point, she had $95,000 in student 
debt--$95,000 in debt--and a worthless diploma. Where do you turn?
  Well, let me tell you what happened to her. She moved back in with 
her parents, living in the basement. Her dad came out of retirement, 
took a job to try to help her pay off her student loans at Westwood, 
and she started to think about: How do I go to a real school now--a 
community college or something--so I can get an education. She wasted 5 
years of her life, and her decisions from that point forward will 
reflect the fact that she had this terrible experience.
  There are things which these for-profit colleges and universities do 
which other universities wouldn't do. I want to talk about one of them 
today. The abuses of this industry are clear. Hundreds of thousands of 
students have been deceived, misled, and harassed into enrolling in 
these schools where they end up with a mountain of debt and a worthless 
diploma. Every day seems to bring news about another for-profit college 
scam, and I have been giving these speeches for a while, and it keeps 
unfolding day after day. Here is the latest: the complaint the attorney 
general of Massachusetts filed recently against ITT Tech for abusive 
recruitment tactics. I know this ITT Tech because in my hometown of 
Springfield, IL, at White Oaks Mall, they have a big sign. They look 
like the real thing, but when Massachusetts took a look at their 
recruiting tactics, it turned out they were lying to the students. You 
see, they need to lure in students to sign up at ITT Tech, they make 
promises they can't keep, and many times they lure in students who are 
not ready for college. Why do they do that? Because the minute a low-
income student signs up at ITT Tech, the Pell grant, which goes to low-
income college students, flows through the student to ITT Tech. There 
is $5,800 just for being low income and signing up, not to mention what 
follows--the college student loans.
  If a student is lucky--if they are lucky--the for-profit college will 
lead them to the college loans originated by the government. Those are 
more reasonable. If they are unlucky, they get steered by these for-
profit colleges to private loans with dramatically higher interest 
rates and terms which are not the least bit forgiving.
  We say to ourselves: These students ought to know better. Well, how 
smart were you when it came to the ways of the world when you were 19 
years old?

[[Page S1989]]

How much did you know about borrowing $10,000 when you were 19 or 20 
years old, when they shoved across the desk a stack of papers and said: 
If you will sign these for your loan, you will be able to start classes 
Monday. You know what happens. The students sign up. They have been 
told their whole lives: This is what you need to do. When you finish 
high school, you go to college.
  Here is another part of it that is very important. Right now, the 
Department of Education is working on new Federal regulations so that 
when the students go to these for-profit schools--or any school for 
that matter--and the school engages in unfair, deceptive, or abusive 
conduct, there is some protection. The Department has set up a 
rulemaking, but because the negotiations with outside stakeholders 
haven't reached a consensus, they are still working on the rule.
  Let me talk about one issue that I think is critical that is under 
consideration by the Department of Education when it comes to these 
for-profit colleges: mandatory arbitration clauses. You are going to 
find at for-profit colleges--and at virtually no other college--a 
little paragraph stuck in that enrollment agreement, stuck in your 
enrollment contract, which says that if you have any grievance with 
that for-profit school, if you think they deceived you, defrauded you, 
lied to you, if you think that you got in debt for a promised degree 
that was going to lead to a job, you can't plead your case in court 
after you sign this agreement.
  You have to go to mandatory arbitration. Mandatory arbitration, for 
those not familiar with it, is a closed-door process. The company or 
school, in this case, sets standards about who will decide your fate 
and about what of anything that happened to you ever becomes public. 
Why do the for-profit schools do this? They don't want to be taken to 
court--no company does. They certainly don't want to face a class 
action lawsuit by students who have been defrauded by these for-profit 
schools, and they certainly don't want the Department of Education to 
know that a certain number of students of for-profit schools have a 
grievance about the way they were treated. So they have come up with a 
mandatory arbitration clause in documents a student has to sign to go 
to class. Students by and large don't even see them. They are buried in 
the document. If they did see them, they would find it hard to even 
explain. These clauses require students to give up their right to a day 
in court. It means, for example, that if a student is misled or 
deceived by the school's advertising or Web site and the student goes 
into debt and then can't find a job or can't qualify for a job that 
they promised you could, the student doesn't get a day in court. 
Instead, the student is forced into the secret arbitration proceeding 
where the deck is stacked against them. It allows schools to avoid 
accountability for misconduct. It prevents prospective students from 
knowing that there were an awful lot of other students at the same 
school that had the same bad experience.
  It is fine for schools to give students the choice of arbitration, 
but to say it is mandatory and that you have no other choice is wrong. 
Mandatory arbitration clauses are not used by legitimate not-for-profit 
colleges and universities. Not-for-profit colleges, public and private, 
are comfortable with being held accountable to the students. They don't 
require mandatory arbitration in order for the students to sign up for 
classes. The Association of Public Land Grant Universities, the 
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the 
Association of Community College Trustees, and the American Association 
of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers all confirmed what I 
just said. Unfortunately, mandatory arbitration clauses are a hallmark 
of the for-profit industry, used by nearly all major companies--DeVry, 
the University of Phoenix, and ITT Tech, just to name a few.
  These same clauses were used by a for-profit school called 
Corinthian, which went bankrupt. What happens when a for-profit college 
goes bankrupt? They have received the money through the student from 
the Federal Government. They have received all those Pell grants. They 
have received the money for government loans, and now they are 
officially out of business.
  Where does that leave the student if the school closes? Well, we give 
them a pretty tough choice. The first choice is to keep the credit 
hours they earned at the for-profit school and transfer to another 
school--too often another for-profit. Is that worth the effort? Well, 
the student has to decide or drop those credit hours of the for-profit 
school and get what is called a closed school discharge. You don't have 
to pay it back. Who loses in that deal? The taxpayers. The taxpayers 
who have sent thousands of dollars to these worthless for-profit 
schools.
  I am hoping the Department of Education will promulgate a rule that 
protects students and their families when it comes to these for-profit 
schools. There is one last thing I want to say about college loans, and 
it probably is the most important. If someone borrows money for a car 
or a home or a piece of property somewhere or to buy some goods and 
then they fall on hard times--somebody in the family gets sick, there 
are big medical bills, someone loses a job, or there is a divorce--and 
they are forced into bankruptcy court to clear their debts, they are 
going to find out if they have a student loan, they can't discharge a 
student loan in bankruptcy. It means, frankly, that it is with them for 
a lifetime. When grandma decides to cosign her granddaughter's college 
loan and her granddaughter defaults on the loan, the collection agency 
calls her grandmother. We have cases that have been reported where 
grandmothers have their Social Security checks basically garnished to 
pay off the granddaughter's student loan. It is a debt, frankly, that 
will be with them for a lifetime. That is why this conversation is so 
important.
  A few years ago, the for-profit colleges and universities ended up 
with the same treatment as every other college and university, and 
they, too, when it comes to student debt, have their investment 
protected because the student cannot discharge it in bankruptcy.
  This Senator thinks the Department of Education has the authority to 
clean this up.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
a legal analysis put together by Public Citizen outlining the authority 
the Department of Education has to ban mandatory arbitration.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                               Public Citizen,

                                Washington, DC, February 24, 2016.
     Dr. John B. King, Jr.,
     Acting Secretary of Education,
     Washington, DC.


                            CITIZEN PETITION

       The federal government spends more than $128 billion 
     annually on student aid distributed under Title IV of the 
     Higher Education Act (HEA), 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1070 et seq. This 
     aid, which includes Stafford, PLUS, and Perkins loans, as 
     well as Pell grants, is the largest stream of federal 
     postsecondary education funding.
       While profiting from U.S. taxpayers, some predatory 
     schools--particularly in the for-profit education sector--
     target underserved populations of students, including people 
     of color, low-income individuals, and veterans, with 
     fraudulent recruitment practices. These schools provide 
     students with an education far inferior to what has been 
     promised. They offer low quality programs and faculty, 
     provide few if any student-support services, and have abysmal 
     graduation and job-placement rates. Many students drop out 
     once they realize the extent of a school's 
     misrepresentations. Those who do not may find themselves with 
     a worthless degree. In either case, the school's wrongdoing 
     leaves many students with a debt to the federal government 
     that they cannot repay.
       Unfortunately, the courthouse doors are closed to many of 
     these students because they signed mandatory, pre-dispute 
     arbitration agreements at the time of their enrollment. Under 
     these agreements, students are required to use binding 
     arbitration to resolve any dispute they may later have with 
     the school; they are barred from the courts. As demonstrated 
     in this petition, these arbitration clauses are detrimental 
     to students, hamper efforts to uncover wrongdoing by 
     institutions receiving Title IV assistance, and place the 
     federal investment in Title IV programs at risk.
       Public Citizen, Inc., a consumer organization with members 
     and supporters nationwide, submits this citizen petition 
     under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 553(e) to request that the Department of 
     Education issue a rule requiring institutions to agree, as a 
     condition on receipt of Title IV assistance under the HEA, 
     not to include pre-dispute arbitration clauses in enrollment 
     or other agreements with students. This rule would be 
     consistent with the Department's legal authority under the 
     HEA

[[Page S1990]]

     and with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. Sec. 1 
     et seq. It would also be in line with a call by members of 
     Congress for the Department to condition Title IV funding on 
     a school's commitment not to use forced arbitration clauses 
     or other contractual barriers to court access in student 
     enrollment agreements.


                        I. STATEment OF INTEREST

       Since its founding in 1973, Public Citizen has advocated on 
     behalf of its members and supporters for public access to the 
     civil justice system. As part of that work, it seeks to end 
     the use of forced arbitration clauses in consumer contracts 
     because these clauses are fundamentally unfair to consumers, 
     encourage unlawful corporate behavior, and weaken the utility 
     of enforcement efforts to protect the public. Public Citizen 
     is engaged in efforts to encourage the Consumer Financial 
     Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Securities and Exchange 
     Commission (SEC) to ban pre-dispute arbitration agreements in 
     consumer and investor agreements. Public Citizen's counsel 
     have represented parties in several major cases involving the 
     scope of the FAA and the enforceability of pre-dispute 
     arbitration agreements. Public Citizen also frequently 
     appears as amicus in cases involving these issues.
       In addition to its arbitration work, Public Citizen 
     supports robust regulation of predatory educational 
     institutions and student lending practices that leave 
     students saddled with debt for overpriced educations. It 
     participated in the Department's Gainful Employment 
     rulemaking, and its attorneys represent twenty-eight 
     organizations as amici in support of that rule in Association 
     of Private Sector Colleges and Universities v. King, No. 15-
     5190 (D.C. Cir.). Counsel for Public Citizen have also 
     represented parties and amici in numerous cases involving 
     misconduct by for-profit educational institutions.

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, countless veterans groups, consumer 
advocates, legal aid lawyers, and student organizations support a full 
ban on mandatory arbitration clauses in higher education. I hope the 
Department of Education responds to this. I hope they have the resolve 
and the political will to get this done.
  It is sad when students end up with a good diploma and a ton of debt. 
It is unforgiveable for us to be complicit when the students end up 
with a ton of debt and a worthless diploma from a for-profit college or 
university.
  Mr. President, the Federal Aviation Administration is now operating 
under its second extension. Like too many important issues, we just 
keep patching up the system. Last year, the Senate worked together to 
pass a 5-year transportation bill. Finally, after 30 patches of a 
national transportation program, both parties came together to pass the 
first long-term bill in over 10 years. This was an important step for 
the Nation and for my State of Illinois.
  Fixing and maintaining our infrastructure involves planning, and 
planning includes certainty. If we don't know we are going to be funded 
6 months from now, it is very tough to plan a highway, a bridge, or how 
we are going to administer an airport.
  We have an opportunity to do the same for the Federal Aviation 
Administration. Senators Thune and Nelson--Republican and Democrat--put 
together the bipartisan bill that we are currently debating. I hope we 
can give this bill careful consideration. One of the items we should 
carefully consider is security at airports.
  Since 9/11 we have focused more and more on the security of airports, 
and when we hear of these terrible terrorist incidents overseas, we 
understand that we can't drop our guard. There were 32 people who died 
in Belgium, and many were injured. The terrorists targeted people who 
were just going about their daily routine, catching an airplane. The 
terrorists took advantage of a vulnerable system. At the airport, two 
bombs were set off before any security screening took place. That 
should be a wake-up call for all of us.
  Last week Senator Heinrich offered an amendment that I was proud to 
cosponsor for commonsense measures to strengthen security at U.S. 
airports in places such as transit stops. I am pleased it passed with 
strong bipartisan support. It adds extra security in these areas where 
people take planes and trains where we were vulnerable before the 
checkpoints. It adds law enforcement officials, inspectors, specialists 
in explosives, dogs, and experts who can help with the screening 
process. It gives more flexibility to our States in cities like 
Chicago, which I am honored to represent, to grant security funding for 
better protecting these vulnerable areas, and it gives more flexibility 
in spending the money.
  O'Hare is one of the busiest airports in the world, with 77 billion 
passengers last year. Chicago is also host to many major national and 
global events with millions of travelers. We have one of the busiest 
networks of commuters and travelers by transit, with 1.6 million people 
riding Chicago's CTA every day, getting to work by bus or train. Nearly 
300,000 passengers take Chicago's Metra commuter rail every day. We 
must ensure we are doing everything we can to keep them safe.
  Communities such as Aurora, IL, that have experienced their own 
threat not long ago will remember September of 2014. I am filing an 
amendment which I hope will be considered on this bill to improve 
security in our air traffic control facilities after the experience we 
had back in 2014. There was a fire at the air traffic facility in 
Aurora. That center directs about 9,000 flights a day over 6 States, 
including, of course, the Chicago region. The fire grounded thousands 
of flights. Its impact was felt for 2 weeks. It caused $5.3 million in 
damages to the traffic control facility, and hundreds of millions of 
dollars in economic impact.
  The air traffic controllers, local police, and fire department did 
all they could do, but there turned out to be bigger issues at play. 
This was a case of arson by an employee at the air traffic control 
facility.
  I went in and actually saw the damage that he did. Following the 
incident, I worked with the FAA and called on the Department of 
Transportation to investigate what happened and to come up with 
recommendations on how to improve security. After the Department of 
Transportation investigation, FAA and DOT found there was not enough 
focus on insider threats, and, clearly, better equipment is needed to 
help communication from going down. Once again, we are dealing with an 
area that is not as secure as it should be.
  The amendment I have offered to this bill builds on some of the 
recommendations. It requires the FAA to make plans for law enforcement 
and other authorities in the event of an incident. It requires the FAA 
to develop guidelines for training and response to security threats and 
active shooter incidents and to ensure that, as the FAA makes 
investments in infrastructure and basic equipment such as electrical 
systems and telecommunications, they think about resiliency and 
survivability.
  We learned those lessons the hard way in Chicago. I hope the Senate 
will take up my amendment so other airports as well as Chicago will be 
ready in the future.
  These events are reminders of the damage that can be done. With a 
similar spirit of bipartisanship, we need to have a commitment to our 
security at our airports and around the United States.


                         Tribute to Ray LaHood

  Mr. President, while I am on the subject of airports, I want to 
recognize my friend and former colleague in the House, Congressman Ray 
LaHood. He was named Secretary of Transportation by President Obama. On 
Tuesday, the Peoria International Airport honored him by naming their 
new international terminal after him. Ray served the Peoria region 
proudly for 14 years as Congressman and for 4 years as President 
Obama's Secretary of Transportation. Secretary Foxx went out to Peoria 
to show support for his predecessor.
  Ray LaHood has been and continues to be a strong advocate for 
Illinois and for our Nation's infrastructure. This honor is certainly a 
fitting tribute, and I congratulate my former colleague, Congressman 
Ray LaHood.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.


                           Student Loan Debt

  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, first I have an item I want to speak about 
on the pending bill. There is another item I want to discuss, first of 
all, but even before that, I want to add that I caught the tail end of 
the statement of the Senator from Illinois about student loans. When I 
first arrived here in the Senate and I was sworn in right where our 
pages are sitting now, I had over $100,000 in student loans that I had 
taken on during my undergraduate but primarily my postgraduate 
education. I can state that had it not been for the blessings of the 
proceeds of a book that

[[Page S1991]]

I wrote called ``American Son,'' I am not sure I would have ever paid 
those loans off. I was fortunate. I went to law school and got a law 
degree and was employed. I know firsthand the struggle that millions of 
Americans are facing and the young people who have taken on substantial 
student loan debt, some of whom have never graduated from institutions 
and others who have graduated, frankly, with pieces of paper of degrees 
that, unfortunately, are not worth the paper they are printed on. As a 
result, they are stuck with a debt that can never be discharged.
  There are only two ways to get rid of a student loan--die or pay it 
off. For many people, paying it off is not going to happen. It is an 
issue that this Senator hopes Congress will confront. It is a looming 
crisis in America. There is over a trillion dollars of student loan 
debt. Quite frankly, it holds people back. When that student loan is 
sitting on your credit report, you won't get a loan to buy a home. If 
your wages are being garnished and other issues come up as a result of 
paying it off, it is a debilitating problem that people face. We have 
discussed throughout the years the hopes of steps we can take to 
address it, and I hope we will have a chance to do that before this 
Congress finishes its work.


         Honoring the 65th Infantry Regiment ``Borinqueneers''

  Mr. President, before I speak on the bill, I want to rise today to 
pay tribute to a distinguished group of American heroes. It is a group 
that for too long was denied the honors and benefits they were owed for 
their service to our Nation.
  The 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers, is a 
predominantly Puerto Rican regiment that is the only Hispanic 
segregated unit to fight in every global war of the 20th century. 
Historically, the Borinqueneers were denied equal benefits and equal 
honors for their service, despite the fact that their regiment 
experienced equal risk and equal duty in combat during World War I, 
World War II, and the Korean war.
  They have since been decorated for their extraordinary service on the 
battlefield. In the Korean war alone, the regiment earned more than 
2,700 Purple Hearts, 600 Bronze Stars, 250 Silver Stars, 9 
Distinguished Service Crosses, and 1 Medal of Honor.
  There is another medal, however, that has yet to be presented, but 
that will change later this afternoon when the Borinqueneers and their 
families will celebrate the unveiling of the long overdue Congressional 
Gold Medal. This is the highest civilian honor in the United States.
  The medal will be unveiled today at a ceremony in the Capitol. It 
will then be given to the Smithsonian Institute and placed on public 
display. It is my hope that the more than 1,000 Borinqueneer veterans 
living throughout the United States, as well as the family members of 
those fallen, departed, and missing in action, will know at last that 
their service has received the ultimate tribute from a grateful Nation. 
Over the years, even in the shadow of unequal treatment, the 
Borinqueneers never faltered and never failed to prove just how 
valuable they are to the cause of freedom.
  My favorite example is the story of Operation Portrex--a military 
exercise that occurred on the eve of the Korean war. It was intended to 
test how the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force would do as liberators 
of an enemy-controlled island. The Borinqueneers were tasked with 
playing the role of ``the enemy aggressors'' and attempting to prevent 
the more than 3,200 American troops from liberating the island in this 
exercise. It was a task that, quite frankly, they were not expected to 
accomplish. Yet, much to the surprise of the Army commanders, the 65th 
Infantry, badly outnumbered, was able to halt the offensive forces on 
the beaches.

  So it is no surprise that after seeing the tremendous skill of the 
Borinqueneers, our Army commanders quickly deployed them into the heart 
of the Korean war, trusting them with numerous important offensive 
operations. One of those operations occurred on January 31, 1951. It is 
credited as having been the last battalion-size bayonet charge by a 
U.S. Army unit. Of that charge, the commanding general, Douglas 
MacArthur, later wrote:

       The Puerto Ricans forming the ranks of the gallant 65th 
     Infantry regiment, on the battlefields of Korea, by valor and 
     determination and a resolute will to victory, give daily 
     testament to their invincible loyalty to the United States 
     and the fervor of their devotion to those immutable standards 
     of human relations to which the Americans and the Puerto 
     Ricans are in common dedicated. They are writing a brilliant 
     record of achievement in battle. I am proud indeed to have 
     them in this command. I wish that we might have many more 
     like them.

  Throughout the storied history of the 65th, there are countless 
examples of valor that have distinguished this regiment. Today, Puerto 
Ricans serve in our military at some of the highest rates of any 
demographic group in the Nation, which is no doubt a lasting legacy of 
the Borinqueneers.
  It has been one of my great honors as a Senator to be involved in the 
effort to secure the Congressional Gold Medal by cosponsoring the 
legislation that passed the Senate in 2014. I was also honored to stand 
in the White House as President Obama signed the bill into law.
  Today, I want to thank two congressionally designated liaisons who 
worked tirelessly to make this day a reality: San Rodriguez and Javier 
Morales. Both of them are Army veterans. They made it their mission to 
ensure that through the design of the medal and its unveiling ceremony, 
these men who have honored our Nation receive the honor they deserve in 
return. I thank both of them for their work.
  I would also like to say a special thank-you to the students at St. 
Luke's Lutheran School in Oviedo, FL, and to their teacher, Ms. Carla 
Cotto Ford, who is the granddaughter of two Borinqueneers. Ms. Ford and 
her students raised thousands of dollars in their community toward an 
ongoing national effort to ensure that every single living Borinqueneer 
would receive a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal.
  The passionate efforts of Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Morales and Ms. Ford 
and her students and so many others who have labored to make this day a 
reality are part of what makes this Congressional Gold Medal so 
special. It reminds us that the legacy of past Borinqueneers who have 
fought and died for America is indeed a living legacy.
  Today that legacy, alive and well, reminds us that America truly is 
an exceptional country. Ours is a nation made up of people from all 
different backgrounds and all different cultures who came together as 
one Nation because we share a common idea: that everyone deserves the 
freedom to exercise their God-given rights. Each member of the 65th 
Infantry Regiment fought for that freedom not just for themselves but 
for every man and woman and child in these United States.
  In closing, to the Borinqueneers, I would like to say congratulations 
on the unveiling of your well-deserved Congressional Gold Medal. More 
importantly, on behalf of my staff and my family and the people of 
Florida, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for your service. 
Thank you for your courage. Thank you for fighting to make this Nation 
the best it can be.
  Mr. President, on another topic, I want to briefly discuss an 
amendment I now have pending on the bill before us, the bill on the 
FAA. It is an amendment that is drafted to the finance portion of this 
bill and that deals with welfare reform.
  For two decades now, it has been the policy of the United States that 
new immigrants to the United States do not qualify for welfare and 
other public assistance programs for their first 5 years in the 
country. Just to lay out what that means, if you are a legal immigrant 
to the United States, for the first 5 years that you are in this 
country, you do not qualify for any Federal welfare or other public 
assistance programs. Of course, illegal immigrants do not qualify at 
all for Federal assistance programs. But there is an exception to this 
Federal law. The exception for this policy is for refugees and asylees 
who come to our shores seeking shelter from persecution. So while 
immigrants to the United States do not get Federal benefits, if you can 
prove you are a refugee fleeing persecution, then you do qualify for 
Federal assistance.
  For those people who can prove they are fleeing persecution, our 
compassionate country makes this financial

[[Page S1992]]

commitment so they can get a new start on life and a leg up. But there 
is a provision of existing law that many people are not aware of. A 
provision of this existing law basically says that anyone who comes 
from Cuba--regardless of why they come to the United States, they are 
automatically and immediately presumed to be a refugee, and therefore 
they are automatically and immediately eligible for welfare and other 
public assistance. In essence, our existing law treats all Cubans 
categorically as if they are refugees, whether or not they can prove 
it.
  As many of you know, I am the son of Cuban immigrants. I live in a 
community where Cuban exiles have had an indelible imprint on our 
country, on the State of Florida and in South Florida in particular. 
Yet I stand here today to say that this provision of law, this 
distinction, is no longer justified. This financial incentive, this 
notion, this reality that if you get here from Cuba, you are going to 
immediately qualify for Federal benefits has encouraged the current 
migratory crisis in which today thousands of Cubans are making 
dangerous trips to come to the United States of America. It is creating 
pressure for foreign governments--for example, in Central America--that 
simply cannot host them, and it is now adding pressure to our southwest 
border.
  Just to outline what is happening, traditionally, Cubans come to the 
United States on a raft, on an airplane, or on a visa, but now many are 
making to trip to Costa Rica or Honduras and they are working their way 
up to Central America, through Mexico, and crossing our southern 
border.
  It is my belief--and I think well-founded based on much of the 
evidence we have now received in testimony and in newspaper articles; 
the South Florida Sun Sentinel, one of our newspapers based in Broward 
County, has extensively documented this and other abuses that are going 
on--that a significant number of people are drawn to this country from 
Cuba because they know that when they arrive, if they can step foot on 
dry land, they will immediately receive status and they immediately 
qualify for a package of Federal benefits that no other immigrant group 
would qualify for unless they can prove they are refugees.
  This current policy is not just being abused, it is hurting the 
American taxpayers. There are reports that indicate that financial 
support for Cuban immigrants exceeded $680 million in the year 2014 
alone. Those numbers, by the way, have quite frankly grown since then.
  On top of the fundamental unfairness of the policy, recent reports in 
the media indicate that there is gross abuse of this policy. In 
Florida, we are now hearing many stories of individuals coming to this 
country and claiming their benefits regularly and repeatedly returning 
to Cuba--in essence, the country you are supposed to be fleeing because 
you fear for your life and your freedom. If you are a refugee, it means 
you are seeking refuge. It is difficult to justify someone's refugee 
status when after arriving in the United States they are traveling back 
to the place they are ``fleeing'' from, 10, 15, 20, 30 times a year.
  By the way, this places the Cuban act in particular danger. That is a 
separate topic not dealt with in my amendment and one that I have said 
publicly should perhaps be reexamined and adjusted to the new reality 
we now face. But I am not dealing with that right now. We are dealing 
with the benefits portion of this.
  It is difficult to justify refugee benefits for people who are 
arriving in the United States and are immediately traveling repeatedly 
back to the nation they claim to be fleeing. Others who are immediately 
traveling back to the island are actually staying there.
  Let me paint the picture for you. You come from Cuba on the Cuban 
Adjustment Act. You arrive in the United States because you crossed the 
southwest border with Mexico or you landed on a raft on a beach 
somewhere in Florida. You claim your status as a Cuban refugee, and 
then less than a year later or a year later, you travel back to Cuba 
and you stay there for weeks or months at a time. But because you 
qualify for Federal refugee benefits, you are receiving benefits from 
the Federal Government, but you are living in Cuba. And how this 
practice works is that while you are living in Cuba, relatives or 
friends in America are getting hold of your benefits, which are mailed 
to you or direct-deposited, and then they are making sure you get that 
money to subsidize your lifestyle.
  I can tell you today unequivocally that there are people living 
basically permanently on the island of Cuba, with an occasional visit 
back to the United States, who are living a lifestyle that is being 
subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer because of this abuse.
  This practice, quite frankly, is illegal under current law, but the 
responsible agencies seem to have failed to enforce this law. So I have 
offered an amendment to this bill that puts an end to this abuse and 
puts an end to the unfairness of the existing law. All my amendment 
would do is it would simply require those who come from Cuba--they 
would still be able, under the Cuban Adjustment Act, to receive 
permanent status in the United States, but they are going to be treated 
like every other immigrant. They are going to be ineligible for most 
Federal benefit programs for 5 years unless they can demonstrate and 
prove they qualify for refugee status.
  Let me paint a picture of what that would look like. If you come from 
Cuba and you can prove that you are fleeing oppression, that you are 
involved politically, that you are a dissident, that you are someone 
who the government is persecuting, then you are a refugee and you will 
be treated like a refugee and you will qualify for refugee benefits. 
But if you simply arrive from Cuba because you are seeing a better life 
for yourself from an economic standpoint, you will still be able to 
benefit from the Cuban Adjustment Act in that status, but you will not 
qualify for Federal benefits and you will be treated like any other 
immigrant who comes to the United States.
  We should be clear that the Castro regime does indeed repress 
hundreds of people every week. There is no question that there are many 
who still come here from Cuba who are refugees and are fleeing 
persecution. There is no doubt that there are people who will arrive 
this month and this year from Cuba who have left Cuba because they are 
being politically persecuted. There is no doubt about that. So we are 
not talking about excluding them. They will be able to prove they are 
refugees and they will be able to qualify for refugee benefits. While 
it is clear that there are still many people facing persecution in Cuba 
and fleeing, it is also clear that it is not everyone who is coming 
from Cuba.
  So all this amendment would do is bring parity between Cuban refugees 
and every other refugee. I say this to you as someone whose parents 
came from Cuba. I propose this amendment as someone who lives in a 
community where Cuban Americans comprise a significant plurality of the 
population. I see firsthand these abuses that are occurring. It is not 
fair to the American taxpayer. It is costing us money. Quite frankly, 
it is encouraging people to come here to take advantage of this 
program.
  By passing this amendment--if we pass it--Congress will not only save 
taxpayers millions of dollars, but I believe it will also help minimize 
the increase we have seen in migration of Cubans over the last couple 
of years by weeding out bad actors who only come to the United States 
in search of government benefits they can take advantage of for the 
first 5 years they are here.
  I believe this is responsible. I believe this is the right approach 
for our Nation fiscally but also from an immigration standpoint. I hope 
I can earn bipartisan support for passing this very sensible proposal.
  I encourage my colleagues to go on the Web site of the South Florida 
Sun Sentinel, a newspaper in South Florida. You can see they have 
extensively documented not just these abuses but a series of other 
abuses that are occurring as well as part of this overall program.
  So it is my hope that I can earn the support of my colleagues to 
convert this idea into law.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Ernst). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.

[[Page S1993]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                             Jessie's Story

  Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, I am rising to share Jessie's story. 
Jessie's story is the story of Jessie Grubb from Charleston, WV, who 
passed away. She was only 30 years old.
  After years of struggling with heroin addiction, she had been doing 
well. Her parents and family members and all her close friends were 
very proud of the progress she was making. She had been sober since 
August, but last month she had surgery for an infection. The infection 
was related to a running injury, and she died a day after leaving the 
hospital.
  Jessie's story with addiction is known to many. Her father David 
Grubb was a colleague of mine--a State senator, and a very good State 
senator, I might add. We worked together in the legislature. He shared 
their family's struggle with addiction with President Obama. I was very 
pleased President Obama came to a State where he probably has the least 
popularity but which has the greatest challenge with opioid addiction--
West Virginia. He came there and he heard the struggles. He saw it 
firsthand, and I think it moved him and made him more committed to 
fighting this drug abuse that is going on in America.
  As I said, David Grubb shared his family's story with President Obama 
when he came to West Virginia last October and, like I said, it has 
made a difference. In West Virginia, not unlike Iowa, we have been hit 
very hard. As a matter of fact, West Virginia has been hit the hardest 
by opioid addiction. It is an epidemic.
  When we think about an epidemic, pandemics--we talk about Ebola and 
the Zika virus and all the things we hear about, but we haven't heard a 
whole lot about opioid addiction. It has been a silent killer. It is 
one where we are all ashamed if it happens to us or our family. We 
don't talk much about it. We think we can handle it within our own 
structure. Yet it is an epidemic. I say there is not a person in our 
country who doesn't know someone in their immediate or extended family 
who hasn't been affected. That is an epidemic, and it is something we 
have to cure.
  Drug overdose in my little State of West Virginia has increased by 
more than 700 percent between 1999 and 2013. Last year alone, over 600 
lives were lost to prescription drug abuse--overdose. Now that is 
legal. These are products produced by legal manufacturing companies, 
pharmaceuticals. These are products approved by the Food and Drug 
Administration, a watchdog responsible for making sure our food and all 
of our drugs are safe. So this is something that is legal and that our 
doctors prescribe. Our most trusted people in America--our doctors--are 
prescribing something they think will help us. Yet it is something that 
is killing Americans everywhere.
  So this is Jessie's story and her family's pain, which is all too 
familiar and all too common in West Virginia and throughout the Nation. 
As I said, we lost 627 West Virginians last year, and 61,000 West 
Virginians used prescription pain medications for nonmedical purposes 
in 2014--nonmedical purposes. This includes 6,000 teenagers.
  Our State is not unique. Every day in the country, 51 Americans are 
dying--51 Americans die every day from opioid abuse. Since 1999, we 
have lost almost 200,000 Americans to prescription opioid abuse. Think 
about that: 200,000 in a little over a decade. That is unheard of. In 
any other category we would be doing something monumental.
  Jessie's story deeply impacted the President, and I spoke with him 
about her death and the pain her family is going through. When the 
President came to Charleston, Jessie was in a rehab facility in 
Michigan for the fourth time--for the fourth time. Before her life was 
taken over by addiction in 2009, Jessie's future was very bright. She 
was truly an unbelievable young lady. She was the beloved daughter of 
David and Kate Grubb, the beloved sister to her four sisters, and a 
beloved friend to family and to many others.
  Jessie was an excellent student and scored in the 99th percentile on 
every one of her tests. She was a cheerleader at Roosevelt Junior High 
School and was an avid runner. At the time of her death, she was 
looking forward to running in her first marathon. The only trouble she 
had ever gotten into in school was when she protested the Iraq war. 
Needless to say, she was a natural born leader. She truly was. She was 
one of those girls who was captivating.
  After graduating from Capital High School, she was thrilled and 
looking forward to her bright future at the University of North 
Carolina, Asheville. She was sexually assaulted during her first 
semester, which caused her to withdraw from school and return home to 
Charleston.
  That traumatic event caused Jessie to turn to heroin to escape her 
pain. Over the next 7 years, Jessie would battle her addiction. She 
would overdose four times and go into rehab four times, but up until 
her death, she had been sober for 6 months and was focused on making a 
life for herself in Michigan, and one her parents were very proud of.
  All of Jessie's hard work was ruined because of a careless mistake--
one mistake. Jessie's death is particularly heartbreaking because it 
was 100 percent preventable--100 percent. Her parents traveled to 
Michigan for Jessie's surgery and told her doctors and hospital 
personnel that she was a recovering addict. Jessie was having hip 
surgery that was caused by all her running, and they were treating her 
for an infection. However, after her surgery, the discharging doctor 
who said he didn't know she was a recovering addict sent her home with 
a prescription for 50--50--OxyContin pills. She should never have been 
given one--not one--for opioid medication.
  We must ensure this never happens again. Jessie passed away that 
night and think about how preventable this was. Because of a lot of the 
privacy laws, we can't tell. That doctor didn't know. Did someone mess 
up? We don't know. If you are allergic to penicillin or something, it 
is on your chart. They know all the way through if you are allergic to 
anything, but if you are an addict and you are allergic to opioids, 
because they will kill you, they can't reveal that.
  So, Madam President, I will be asking for your help, as always, and I 
know you will be compassionate about this. Next week I will be 
introducing Jessie's Law to make sure this type of careless mistake 
never happens to another daughter, a son, a nephew, a niece, anyone in 
America.
  The bottom line is, we need to go at this problem from every angle 
and with the help of everyone--family assistance, counseling programs, 
drug courts, consumer and medical education, law enforcement support, 
State and Federal legislation. We need to throw everything we have at 
this. With continued support and tireless work from everyone, we can 
beat this epidemic once and for all.
  Jessie's death is heartbreaking to anybody who knew her or the family 
or their contribution to society every day. This is a tremendous family 
who gives so much back. We all know someone who has been impacted. We 
do, every one of us. Every one of our young interns here know. Our 
pages know. They see it in their schools. Everybody sees what is going 
on, but we have to speak up. This is a fight we have to win.
  This opioid epidemic is claiming a generation and taking them away 
from us. I am committed to this more than I have been committed to 
anything. If I have one purpose of being in the Senate, it is to bring 
to light these young people whose lives have been changed, whose 
families' lives have been changed all over West Virginia, all over 
America. There has been silence for far too long, and we are not going 
to keep silent any longer.
  People are sending me letters from Iowa, letters from my State of 
West Virginia, and they are saying: Please use my name. Put a face and 
a name to a tragedy. They want us to know in Congress that something 
has to be done. We don't need all these drugs on the market. We don't 
need the pharmaceutical companies putting out more and more powerful 
opioids. We don't need a business plan that is destroying people's 
lives.
  I think this is something we agree on. This is something that will 
unite us like nothing else in Congress. It is not a Democratic or a 
Republican epidemic. It is not a disease that is killing Democrats and 
Republicans. It is killing Americans, and we are Americans.

[[Page S1994]]

So I am hopeful, and I have been very pleased with all of the support 
we are getting from both sides, Democrats and Republicans, coming 
together on this issue. We have important legislation coming forward. I 
believe this is going to allow us for the first time to make a 
monumental change. I thank VA Secretary Bob McDonald. He is trying very 
hard to change the culture of the VA, of treating pain with 
alternatives. There is so much more we need to do. I will be getting 
into that later.

  I thank the Presiding Officer for the great job she does for the 
great State of Iowa.
  Madam President, 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.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that 
amendments submitted to the previous substitute, Senate amendment No. 
3464, be considered to be submitted to the new substitute, Senate 
amendment No. 3679, as long as the instructions to the clerk are 
drafted properly.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Madam President, 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.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tillis). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I am trying to get a vote on an amendment 
that Senator Klobuchar and I have submitted. To explain it, I want to 
show you this graphic.
  These are two airplanes that are exactly the same size, they are 
flying across the same sky, and they are flying over the same homes. 
But there is a difference--a difference that I am trying to fix. This 
one is a passenger plane. Due to an FAA regulation that Senator Snowe 
and I were able to get in place through a vote in this Chamber several 
years ago, the pilots in the passenger plane can fly only up to 9 hours 
a day. After that, they have to rest because pilot fatigue is a very 
dangerous situation facing not only our pilots but their crews and 
everyone that is in their vicinity.
  What happened when Senator Snowe and I wrote our legislation? We 
assumed that the regulation that would be forthcoming from the FAA 
would cover both passenger and cargo planes because, again, these 
planes share the same skies, go over the same airspace, and go over the 
same homes. It is a straightforward point, and fatigue is fatigue. They 
are not less fatigued because they are carrying cargo rather than 
passengers. These pilots can fly up to 16 hours a day. We know from the 
pilots themselves--many pilots organizations have endorsed this--that 
this is a very dangerous disparity, and it needs to be fixed.
  I am asking the majority for an up-or-down vote on this amendment. It 
is real simple. It simply says the FAA should get rid of this disparity 
and make the cargo pilots have the same rules as the passenger pilots--
real simple.
  According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the No. 1 
safety issue is fatigue. This is what they cite as the No. 1 problem 
across the board. So we need to fix this. I have spoken to both of my 
friends, Senator Nelson, who supports this, and Senator Thune, who has 
been a little more subtle about how he feels about this. I asked them 
if I could have the up-or-down vote. I hope I can have the up-or-down 
vote. I am not asking for anything special. A 60-vote threshold is 
fine.
  If people want to vote against the amendment, fine; let them be held 
accountable. But it is a moral issue right now. The bottom line is, 
people are in jeopardy right now.
  I don't know exactly what is going to happen. The reason we are at a 
standstill is partly because I said I want a vote, and that promptly 
stopped things. I do it rarely, but I know if we pass this, we are 
going to save lives. It is written somewhere in the Old Testament that 
if you save one life, you save humanity. Saving lives is one thing we 
should do, and since we know about this disparity and we have proof 
that we need to fix it, we need to fix it.
  All I am asking for is an up-or-down vote. If people want to vote no, 
that is fine with me. Hopefully, most will vote yes, and hopefully we 
will get this done. We got it done before, and we should be able to get 
it done again.
  What could be happening is that we could get that vote. Of course, 
what I would love to death is if Senator Thune and Nelson just took our 
amendment and put it in the package. That would be wonderful. But if 
they don't want to do that, I want a vote.
  What I hope doesn't happen is that they will say: OK. We will give 
you a vote, but we are going to take two really poison pill amendments 
and force everybody to vote on those.
  This is not a game. I am not here to have a game. I am here to have a 
vote, up or down. This should not be tied to anything else.
  I want to read to you the incredible words that were spoken. These 
are excerpts from UPS Flight 1354. This is a cockpit conversation that 
took place minutes before a crash. These words are coming from the 
grave. Listen to these words and make up your own mind as to whether I 
am being unreasonable here in wanting to have a vote.
  Pilot 1: I mean I don't get it. It should be one level of safety for 
everybody.
  Pilot 2: It makes no sense at all.
  Pilot 1: No, it doesn't at all.
  Pilot 2: And to be honest, it should be across the board. To be 
honest, in my opinion, whether you are flying passengers or cargo, if 
you are flying this time of day, you know fatigue is definitely--
  Pilot 1: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
  Pilot 2: When my alarm went off, I mean, I am thinking, I am so 
tired.
  Pilot 1: I know.
  ``When my alarm went off, I mean, I am thinking, I am so tired.''
  This photograph shows what happened to that cargo jet. It happened 
over Alabama in 2013. This is what happened. The NTSB said it was 
definitely fatigue that played a role in this crash. So am I being 
unreasonable to say this is the FAA bill--this is the bill we do every 
couple years about air safety? Am I being unreasonable to ask my 
colleagues to vote up or down on whether there ought to be parity 
between passenger pilots and cargo pilots? I don't think so.
  Remember Captain Sullenberger, who was the hero? Captain Sullenberger 
was the hero who landed his plane in the water--the ``Hero of the 
Hudson.'' He is a superstar. He did this. He knows about safety. He 
knows it.
  A passenger on that flight said: I could feel the water running over 
the top of my feet, and that is what really scared me. ``I thought, I 
survived the impact and now I am going to drown.'' That was a passenger 
who said that--how the pilot saved them all. We all know who saved 155 
people as he landed the jet in the frigid New York Hudson River.
  Let's see what Sully Sullenberger says about the situation of 
fatigue. If we cannot listen to this, who are we listening to? By the 
way, these comments are not aimed just at my colleagues; they are aimed 
at the administration that has not done this, which is wrong. They are 
wrong.
  Listen to what Captain ``Sully'' Sullenberger, the hero of Flight 
1549, said: ``You wouldn't want your surgeon operating on you after 
only 5 hours of sleep, or your passenger pilot flying the airplane 
after only 5 hours sleep, and you certainly wouldn't want a cargo pilot 
flying a large plane over your house at 3 a.m. on 5 hours of sleep 
trying to find the airport and land.''
  So the question is: Who do we listen to? Do we listen to the 
companies that are afraid it is going to cost them a few dollars? Do we 
listen to the pilots? Do we listen to Sully Sullenberger, who is 
telling us fatigue kills? It is a killer. That is what he said at the 
press conference yesterday.
  I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record two articles 
that appeared recently in the news.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

[[Page S1995]]

  


             [From the New York Daily News, April 12, 2016]

Miracle on the Hudson Pilot Pushes Safe Skies Act To Grant Cargo Pilots 
                            Rest Protections

                           (By Nancy Dillon)

       Tom Hanks will play him in a Clint Eastwood-directed biopic 
     due out this summer, but Chesley Sullenberger isn't leaning 
     his seat back.
       The Miracle on the Hudson pilot was in Washington, D.C. 
     Tuesday, pushing lawmakers to pass the Safe Skies Act and 
     grant cargo pilots the same rest protections as passenger 
     pilots.
       ``This is not a partisan issue, it's a science-based, 
     commonsense issue, Sullenberger told the Daily News.
       He said cargo pilots generally fly at night and deserve the 
     same sleep standards already guaranteed to passenger pilots--
     flights limited to eight or nine hours and minimum 10-hour 
     rest periods.
       ``It's really just flat wrong (to exclude cargo pilots). 
     They're the ones who need it most. They have their natural 
     circadian rhythms disrupted the most,'' Sullenberger told The 
     News.
       ``If you're home in the evening when hundreds of cargo 
     airplanes are flying overhead, it doesn't matter if those 
     planes are carrying people or packages. It matters that their 
     pilots are alert enough to do their job safely,'' the retired 
     U.S. Airways captain turned author and aviation safety 
     consultant said.
       Sullenberger joined Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Amy 
     Klobuchar (D-MN) in Washington to close the ``dangerous 
     loophole'' in prior legislation that carved out the exception 
     for cargo pilots at the request of cargo carriers, he said.
       The Safe Skies Act would be an amendment to the FAA 
     reauthorization bill, according to a press release from 
     Boxer's office.
       Currently, cargo pilots can be on duty for up to 16 hours 
     at a time, the release said.
       At least one freight giant is against the proposal.
       ``Cargo and passenger pilots have very different schedules, 
     and one size does not fit all when it comes to air travel 
     safety. Forcing cargo pilots to fly according to a set of 
     rules developed for distinct conditions in a different 
     industry will make them less safe,'' FedEx said in a 
     statement to the Daily News.
       ``Safety is our top priority. That's why we oppose 
     legislation mandating passenger-pilot scheduling limits for 
     cargo pilots,'' the statement said.
       Sullenberger said its doubtful he and his crew could have 
     landed U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on 
     January 15, 2009--saving all 155 souls--if they were deprived 
     sleep.
       ``I've proven in the most dramatic way what I'm talking 
     about,'' Sullenberger said. ``Had (copilot) Jeff (Skiles) and 
     I been fatigued, we could not have performed at that level.''
       The legendary landing on the frigid Hudson--caused by a 
     bird strike the crippled the plane's engines after takeoff 
     from LaGuardia Airport--is something he still thinks about 
     constantly, he said.
       ``I get daily reminders of that remarkable day. So many 
     people rose to the occasion--the crew, all the rescue 
     workers,'' he said. ``It was the result of the efforts of 
     many people, but I've become the public face.''
       Asked about Warner Bros planned release of ``Sully'' this 
     September--a movie based on his autobiography ``Highest 
     Duty''--Sullenberger, 65, said he's grateful for all the 
     continued attention.
       ``I'm doing very well. I've been saying that for a long 
     time. If I was not doing well, it would be my own fault. I 
     get to travel the world, meet world leaders and leaders in 
     the fields of health, technology,'' and of course Hollywood, 
     he said.
       ``It's really been a fascinating education.''
                                  ____


                    [From The Hill, April 12, 2016]

               Dems Want Pilot-Rest Provision in FAA Bill

                          (By Melanie Zanona)

       Senate Democrats want to grant cargo pilots the same rest 
     standards as passenger pilots as a provision of a Federal 
     Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill.
       Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) 
     are leading the fight to attach an amendment to the FAA bill 
     that would limit cargo plane pilots to flying no more than 
     nine hours a day--the same standard for passenger pilots. 
     Cargo pilots can currently fly up to 16 hours a day.
       Captain Chesley ``Sully'' Sullenberger, the retired airline 
     captain who safely executed an emergency landing in the 
     Hudson River in 2009, is also backing the provision. He was 
     spotted talking to members about the amendment in the Senate 
     basement after a Tuesday press conference.
       ``Fatigue is a killer,'' Sullenberger said at the press 
     conference. ``It's time to right this wrong. It's time to fix 
     this rule.''
       Boxer said she would filibuster the FAA bill if the pilot 
     provision does not get a vote.
       ``I think this is an absurdity to block a vote on something 
     as important at this,'' she said.
       The comments come amid growing concern that pet interests 
     could bog down the entire FAA bill, including a push to 
     include renewable energy tax breaks. The agency's current 
     legal authority expires July 15.
       ``There are other problems with the bill that people are 
     weighing as well, so I think this bill has a very shaky 
     future,'' Boxer added.
       Boxer and Klobuchar first crafted legislation to make sure 
     passenger and cargo crews had the same flight- and duty-time 
     requirements after the Department of Transportation (DOT) 
     wrote new rules to address pilot fatigue following a deadly 
     passenger airline crash in 2009.
       The DOT standards require passenger pilots to be limited to 
     flying either eight or nine hours, with a minimum of 10 rest 
     hours and the opportunity for at least eight hours of 
     uninterrupted sleep. But cargo pilots were not included in 
     the rules.
       ``This doesn't make sense,'' Boxer said Tuesday. ``It's 
     dangerous.''
       A group of shipping companies wrote a letter to Senate 
     leadership explaining why they thought the amendment ``could 
     actually make our operations less safe and put our pilots at 
     risk.''
       ``Measures used to prevent fatigue must be different for 
     passenger carriers than they are for cargo carriers because 
     our work schedules are different,'' wrote FedEx, UPS, ABX Air 
     and Atlas Air.
       ``We fly fewer legs, have longer layovers, and have better 
     rest opportunities on our trips, including while technically 
     `on duty' waiting for our nightly sorts to occur.''
       Boxer beat back against the letter, accusing special 
     interests of intervening.
       ``The proof is in the pudding,'' Boxer said. ``Special 
     interests are doing what they always do: trying to get a 
     deal.''

  Mrs. BOXER. Thank you, Mr. President.
  Here it is. This one in The Hill is quoting Captain Sullenberger:

       ``Fatigue is a killer''. . . . ``It's time to right this 
     wrong. It's time to fix this rule.''

  Here is another quote in the New York Daily News, with a picture of 
Captain Sullenberger saying:

       ``This is not a partisan issue, it is a science-based 
     commonsense issue.''
       He said cargo pilots generally fly at night and deserve the 
     same sleep standards already guaranteed to passenger pilots--
     flights limited to eight or nine hours and minimum of 10-hour 
     rest periods.
       ``It is really just flat wrong (to exclude cargo pilots). 
     They're the ones who need it most. They have their natural 
     circadian rhythms disrupted the most.''

  Just standing next to the guy was a thrill for me. Captain 
Sullenberger told the News:

       ``If you're home in the evening when hundreds of cargo 
     airplanes are flying overhead, it doesn't matter if those 
     planes are carrying people or packages. It matters that their 
     pilots are alert enough to do their job safely,'' the retired 
     U.S. Airways captain said.

  Do you know what Sullenberger said? He said that ``it's doubtful he 
and his crew could have landed U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson 
River on January 15, 2009--saving all 155 souls--if they were deprived 
of sleep.''
  Look, we can all put ourselves in a situation, whether we are young--
and the young can take lack of sleep a lot better. As we age, it is 
tougher. I used to take the redeye all the time, and I can state that I 
felt it for days. Do we want to have a pilot in a circumstance where he 
or she is sleep deprived and they find themselves in an emergency? I 
don't think so. None other than Sullenberger said that he is doubtful 
he and his crew could have landed that flight if they were sleep 
deprived.
  He said again--this is in another article from the Daily News. He 
said:

       ``I get daily reminders of that remarkable day. So many 
     people rose to the occasion--the crew, all the rescue 
     workers,'' he said. ``It was the result of the efforts of 
     many people, but I've become the public face . . . and had I 
     been fatigued, we could not have performed at that level.''

  This is the classic case of a no-brainer. The people who fly the 
airplanes are telling us that fatigue is a killer. They are telling us 
in a circumstance of emergencies that they will not be able to 
function.
  We have an opportunity to fix it, but we don't have a vote right now. 
We don't have a vote. As I understand it, we might have a vote, but 
they may then say to vote on two other issues that are poison pill 
issues. That is the way it goes around here.
  Someday I am going to write a book called ``How a Bill Really Becomes 
a Law.'' The truth is that is how it goes around here. If one wants to 
vote on something, then they say: Swallow a porcupine, and maybe we 
will give you a vote.
  Now here is another one. ``Miracle on the Hudson Pilot Pushes More 
Rest for Cargo Crews.'' He and I are standing there, and all I am 
saying is:

       We just need a vote on this, and you know if people want to 
     come down in the well and vote the wrong way on safety, then 
     they have shown themselves . . . [but], frankly, they are 
     putting the lives of people at risk.

  And I am asking for a vote. Again, Sully Sullenberger is quoted:

       ``Let me be very direct: Fatigue is a killer. . . . It's a 
     ruthless indiscriminate killer that

[[Page S1996]]

     our industry and our regulators have allowed to continue 
     killing for way too long.''

  This is not partisan. I have a Democratic administration who did the 
wrong thing on this. I have a Republican Senate that is not giving me a 
vote on this. Come on. When people die in an airplane crash, we don't 
know if they are Democrats or Republicans; we just know we cry our 
hearts out for the families.
  I am going to show you the crashed plane again. This is what happens 
when there is fatigue. This is what can happen. There have been many of 
these crashes because the pilots are flying on 5 hours of sleep.
  All I am asking for is a vote. Give us a vote. If you want to vote it 
down, vote it down. You will be judged. That is OK. That is your 
problem, not mine.
  I want to praise Senator Klobuchar, who is the coauthor of this 
amendment. She was very effective in her comments both in the committee 
and at the presser yesterday.
  Sullenberger, the ``Hero of the Hudson,'' said this in this other 
article:

       ``This rule was written the way it was, not for scientific 
     reasons, but for economic ones, by those who are more 
     concerned about an additional burden that they consider an 
     additional cost. It's time to right this wrong. It's time to 
     fix this rule.''

  You know, those of us who have been around a long time remember the 
Ford Pinto. That car exploded when there was a crash. I think a lot of 
us remember it. When discovery was done by the attorneys for the 
victims, they found out the cold and calculating ways the corporation 
viewed these accidents and losses of life. Oh, they said, we can stand 
X number of accidents a year, no problem, because we have insurance. It 
will not affect us. But, gee, it will cost us X number of dollars to 
fix the problem.
  What could be more callous? What could be more cold? It is the same 
thing here. It is the companies.
  Do you know what is fascinating? The airlines that now operate under 
the 9-hour rule--I will put up the chart that shows the two planes with 
the different times. The airlines that now fly their pilots up to 9 
hours a day, compared to the cargo plane owners who permit their pilots 
to work up to 16 hours a day, they--the airline industry is doing 
great. They never said word one of a problem. They had rested pilots, 
they had happier crews, and they are doing fine. So why is it that we 
get letters from the corporations that fly these planes--God forbid we 
should tell them to give their pilots rest.
  I want to tell you who is on our side. The Southwest Airlines Pilot 
Association--this thrills me--just sent us a letter:

       On behalf of the more than 8,000 pilots--

  This is actually to Senator Thune--

       I urge you to include Senator Barbara Boxer's Safe Skies 
     Act in the FAA reauthorization.

  They say:

       It fixes a huge safety gap that exists in our air 
     transportation today.

  They talk about the Colgan Air crash in 2009. We took action to fix 
the problem on passenger planes, but it was inexplicable that it was 
left out of the cargo planes.
  As pilots, they say safety is their No. 1 priority.
  They say:

       ``We cannot do our job if we are not all held to the same 
     safety standard. A tired and fatigued pilot is a danger to 
     everyone in their path.''

  That is the point. These passenger pilots are rested; the cargo 
pilots are fatigued. They fly in the same sky, in the same airspace. 
They try to land at the same airports. Having this disparity is a 
nightmare.
  They say:

       ``Please, do not let another tragedy be the reason for 
     action. This is your chance to fix the cargo carve-out and 
     ensure safe skies in this nation.''

  I thank these pilots for weighing in on this issue. It means a lot to 
me that they did it.
  The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations talks about the 
Klobuchar amendment, which is this amendment, and they ask us to please 
allow this vote.
  They say:

       ``We cannot continue operating with two levels of safety 
     and we sincerely hope you are able to fix the cargo carve-out 
     once and for all.'' We urge your support for this amendment.

  I thank so much Captain Michael Karn, president of the Coalition of 
Airline Pilots Associations.
  You know, I want to say to my colleagues who might be listening from 
their offices: We get on planes all the time. We have 100-percent faith 
in the pilot. We all do. They have the responsibility of getting us to 
our families safely. Every single pilots association is saying to us: 
Fix this carve-out. It is dangerous.
  Any of us could be on a passenger plane just doing great with the 
rested pilot, and somehow a cargo plane crashes into us because that 
pilot had 5 hours of sleep.
  So we have all of these letters from the Independent Pilots 
Association, the Allied Pilots Association, the International Brothers 
of Teamsters, Teamsters Local 1224, Teamsters Local 357. They are all 
saying the same thing: We cannot do our job if we are not all held to 
the same safety standard. A tired and fatigued pilot is a danger to 
everyone. Don't let another tragedy be the reason for action.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
two letters I have referred to.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                              Coalition of Airline


                                          Pilots Associations,

                                   Washington, DC, March 31, 2016.
     Hon. John Thune,
     Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, 
         U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
     Hon. Bill Nelson,
     Ranking Member, Committee on Commerce, Science and 
         Transportation, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson: I am writing 
     you today on behalf of 28,000 professional airline pilots in 
     support of the Klobuchar Amendment to the FAA reauthorization 
     bill. As you know, during the committee mark-up Senator 
     Klobuchar respectfully withdrew consideration of her 
     amendment with the hope and committee leadership would work 
     with her to solve what is known as the cargo carve-out.
       As you are aware, Congress passed legislation in 2010 
     following the deadly 2009 Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash that 
     claimed the lives of 45 passengers, 4 crew members and 1 
     individual on the ground. As the details of the pilots' lack 
     of training and fatigue came to light, the American public 
     demanded that more be done to ensure safety in our skies.
       Congress heard these concerns and included a requirement in 
     the 2010 FAA reauthorization that the Department of 
     Transportation promulgate rules on pilot duty and rest hours 
     to prevent fatigue and ensure flights are safely operated by 
     pilots with adequate rest.
       As well-intended as those rules were, somehow through a 
     cost benefit analysis and other inexplicable changes to the 
     original rules as proposed, cargo pilots were carved out of 
     these new regulations, apparently because it was too costly 
     to ensure cargo pilots had adequate rest.
       Time and time again we see tragic, and avoidable, plane 
     crashes where fatigue is one of the factors contributing to, 
     or out right to blame, for these accidents. In fact, the 
     National Transportation Safety Board listed preventing 
     fatigue related accidents as their number one most wanted 
     improvement in transportation safety for 2016, citing a 2013 
     UPS plane crash in Birmingham, Alabama as an example.
       When the FAA reauthorization legislation reaches the Senate 
     floor for debate, we urge you to use this opportunity to 
     protect your constituents and all Americans across this 
     country. Please do not wait until faced with another tragic 
     accident to address this issue.
       We cannot continue operating with two levels of safety and 
     we sincerely hope you are able to fix the cargo carve-out 
     once and for all. We urge your support for the Safe Skies Act 
     and Senator Klobuchar's amendment to the FAA reauthorization 
     bill.
       Thank you for your time and consideration on this important 
     aviation safety issue.
           Sincerely,
                                          Captain D. Michael Karn,
     President.
                                  ____

                                                    April 8, 2016.
     Hon. John Thune,
     Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, 
         U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
     Hon. Bill Nelson,
     Ranking Member, Committee on Commerce, Science & 
         Transportation, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson: We the 
     undersigned unions representing more than 30,000 pilots 
     across the United States urge you to include Senator Barbara 
     Boxer's Safe Skies Act in the 2016 FAA Reauthorization 
     currently before the full Senate.
       Senator Boxer's bill, S.A. 3489, fixes a huge safety gap in 
     our air transportation system

[[Page S1997]]

     today. After the Colgan Air crash in 2009, Congress took 
     action to prevent future tragedies mandating that the 
     Department of Transportation issue science-based regulations 
     addressing pilot fatigue in our nation's airlines. After 
     substantial research and review of undisputed scientific 
     evidence on sleep cycles and fatigue, the draft rules created 
     a new set of requirements related to duty and rest time for 
     all pilots.
       Ignoring these irrefutable facts and the recommendations 
     from safety experts, the White House Office of Information 
     and Regulatory Affairs removed all references to cargo 
     airlines from the final rules suggesting that a cost of 
     imposing this safety regulation did not outweigh the benefits 
     to the public. Or more simply stated, preventing the death of 
     two pilots and the loss of some cargo does not exceed the 
     cost to a corporation to change their pilots' schedules.
       As pilots, safety is our number one focus. Rather than 
     argue and dispute the details of the process that created the 
     cargo carve-out, we are more interested in fixing the 
     problem. When we are behind the controls of an airplane 
     trying to get from point A to point B, we do not think about 
     the costs or the benefits of what we do in the cockpit. Our 
     work before, during and after our flights is 100% focused 
     ensuring safety. Our lives depend on it, the lives of those 
     on our planes depend on it and certainly the lives of those 
     who see us flying overhead depend on our commitment to 
     safety.
       We cannot do our job if we are not all held to the same 
     safety standards. A tired and fatigued pilot is a danger to 
     everyone in their path. Please do not let another tragedy be 
     the reason for action. This is your chance to fix the cargo 
     carve-out and ensure safe skies in this nation.
           Sincerely,
     Captain Keith Wilson,
       President, Allied Pilots Association.
     Captain Robert Travis,
       President, Independent Pilots Association.
     Captain David Bourne,
       Director, Airline Division, International Brotherhood of 
     Teamsters.
     Captain Daniel Wells,
       President, Teamsters Local 1224.
     Captain James Clark,
     President, Teamsters Local 357.

  Mrs. BOXER. I know people are saying: Barbara, why are you being so 
tough and not letting us vote on other things?
  I have to say this: If we don't use this occasion to fix a problem 
that is listed as the No. 1 safety issue by the NTSB, and we can do it 
in 2 minutes--I have spoken my piece. You know, one of my staffers said 
she explained to her 6-year-old child what the issue is because he is 
always interested in what she is working on. She said: Jacob, the fact 
is, the planes are the same size, and the man who is flying this one 
and the lady flying this one get different hours of rest.
  I see that my friend from Florida, the great ranking member of the 
Commerce Committee, might want to ask a question.
  Mr. NELSON. Will the Senator yield?
  Mrs. BOXER. Yes, I will.
  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, I thank the Senator for yielding. I just 
want to bring to the Senator's attention that I am very hopeful that we 
are getting an agreement that there will be a vote on the Senator's 
amendment and some other amendments. I thought the Senator would be 
happy to hear the news that it looks as if we are coming to an 
agreement where there will be a vote on the Senator's amendment.
  Mrs. BOXER. Well, if I could respond through the Chair, the words of 
my colleague are very hopeful. I just hope it is not tied to some 
poison pills that other people have a problem with. You never know 
around here what is going to happen. In my view--and I know the Senator 
shares it because I know his passion is with me on this--the fact is, 
this should be an up-or-down vote. It should not be related to other 
things. It is the No. 1 safety issue of the NTSB.
  My friend from Florida is like a brother to me, and we counsel each 
other on issues on which we have some expertise. I know he is in there 
fighting to get a vote. I am so grateful to him. I have added a whole 
bunch of support for this.
  I will close at this point because I think my friend has given me 
some hope. I am going to close reading the recording. I don't know--I 
ask Senator Nelson, did you ever hear this? I want to make sure you 
did. This will take just a moment. This is from the excerpt from the 
flight deck before a plane went down:
  Pilot 1: I mean, I don't get that. You know, it should be one level 
for everybody.
  These are words from the grave.
  Pilot 2: It makes no sense at all.
  Pilot 1: No, it doesn't.
  Pilot 2: To be honest, it should be across the board. To be honest, 
in my opinion, whether you are flying passengers or cargo, if you are 
flying this time of day, you know fatigue is definitely--
  Pilot 1: Yeah, yeah.
  Pilot 2: When my alarm went off, I mean, I'm thinking I'm so tired.
  Pilot 1: I know.
  Now, when this happened, I thought for sure that our administration 
would take care of this and change that rule. They didn't. That is why 
we are here.
  I wanted everyone to know this: Sometimes it is hard to look at 
something like this, but it is harder to look at the final result of 
what happened from fatigue. This is what happened within minutes of 
that conversation. People could not function. Captain Sullenberger said 
it well: Fatigue is a killer.
  We could fix it here today. We fixed it--Olympia Snowe and I--years 
ago for passenger aircraft. We need to fix it for cargo pilots. They 
deserve our support and the support of people who rely on them--all of 
us--because they share the sky with the passenger aircraft. We need to 
fix this.
  I thank the Senator from Florida.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Scott). The Senator from Georgia.


                                  Iran

  Mr. PERDUE. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about an issue that 
we too often forget about here after the fact. We move on to the next 
topic of the day. But it was just 1 year ago, on April 2, that actually 
marked the framework for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 
President's nuclear deal with Iran. That was the day it was announced. 
We were promised by this administration at all levels that this nuclear 
agreement would make the world a safer place. I have traveled the world 
quite a bit in the last year. I just got back from another trip to the 
Middle East. I believe the world possibly is more dangerous right now 
than at any time in my lifetime.
  Unfortunately, the message that the world is safer did not resonate 
with Iran. The world was given a false promise that this nuclear deal 
would serve as a catalyst for change and a moderation within Iran. We 
have seen change, but it has only been for the worse. Iran is both 
enriched and emboldened by this dangerous deal. The President's deal 
provided Iran with over an estimated $100 billion, approximately, 
windfall.
  The Secretary said just this January that Iran ``had massive needs 
within their country and we, the U.S., will be able to track where this 
money is going, what is happening with it.'' But instead of focusing 
these funds inward, as we were assured, on improving the lives of their 
people, Iran has chosen to use the money to bolster its conventional 
forces and cyber capabilities, to strengthen its proxies, to crack down 
on its own people, and to further destabilize the region.
  Iran has test-launched four ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal 
was announced. Most recently, these missiles were launched with the 
words ``Death to Israel'' emblazoned on their side. The most recently 
launched missiles were more advanced, by the way, precision-guided and 
more sophisticated.
  Iran has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle 
East capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. They continue 
in developing space-launch vehicles as well that are a transparent 
guise for seeking longer range missile capability.
  Iran humiliated and detained at gunpoint U.S. Navy sailors, in 
violation of international law.
  According to American officials, Iran is using cyber espionage and 
cyber attacks as a tool of influence with Iranian hackers, breaking 
into email and social media accounts of employees of our very own State 
Department who worked on Iran-related issues.
  Iran used American hostages for strategic and economic leverage from 
this administration, only turning over innocent Americans when the 
administration freed 7 Iranian sanctions violators and dismissed 
charges on 14 other Iranians, including 2 men who helped transfer 
soldiers and weapons to the Assad regime and to the terror group 
Hezbollah.

[[Page S1998]]

  Iran continues to spend millions to support the Houthi insurgency 
that is contributing to the security vacuum in Yemen. Just last week, 
the U.S. Navy confiscated another weapons cache from the Arabian Sea 
believed to be en route from Iran to Yemen in support of the Houthis. 
This shipment included about 1,500 Kalashnikov rifles, 200 rocket-
propelled grenade launchers, and 21 .50-caliber machine guns. That 
would be bad enough if it were the only one, but this is the fourth 
such seizure in the region just since September of last year. I think 
it is very clear what Iranian intentions are with regard to the rebels 
in Yemen and also to the terrorists of Hezbollah, Hamas, and others in 
the region.
  According to the State Department, Iran continues to be the world's 
leading state sponsor of terrorism. That is our own State Department. 
In its quest to dominate the Middle East and expel American influence, 
Iran has exploited terrorism as a tool of statecraft to oppose U.S. 
interests and objectives in Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Palestinian 
territories. Iran continues to spend an estimated $6 billion a year in 
support of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and millions of dollars and 
materiel to Hezbollah and Hamas.
  On a recent trip to the Middle East just a few weeks ago, I heard 
these concerns from our friends and allies in the region firsthand. 
Iran's domestic repression has also gotten worse. The crackdown on 
dissent is at its worst since the 2009 Green Movement, according to the 
NGOs. Iran continues to imprison those who disagree with the mullahs 
and imprisons those who are at odds with the regime. Executions are at 
their highest level since 1989. Further, the regime disqualified 
thousands of reformist candidates in its recently held parliamentary 
elections.
  When you look at the facts, it is clear the Middle East, and I would 
argue the world, is potentially worse off since the signing of the 
President's nuclear deal. What are we doing about it? I think that is 
the question the American people should keep their eyes on. According 
to Secretary Kerry, ``Iran deserves the benefits of this agreement that 
they struck.''
  Despite the four ballistic missile launches, the administration will 
not call them a violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 2231. 
This is the resolution that includes the nuclear deal, arms embargo, 
and ballistic missile prohibitions. Just last week, Ambassador Shannon, 
the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, told the Foreign 
Relations Committee that he believes these ballistic missile tests 
``violated the intent'' of the U.N. Security Council resolution but 
would not call it a violation. I am troubled by that. Iran's ever-
increasing support for terrorism and instability is going essentially 
unchecked. This is no way to handle a rogue regime. Instead, we need to 
take a tougher stance on Iran now that we see their intentions 
postdeal.
  On ballistic missile violations, we must go beyond the President's 
designation of 11 individuals and companies for the ballistic missile 
launches. The Iranians pay for that technology somehow. Yet no 
financial institution was sanctioned for this transaction. The 
technology arrived in Iran by boat or by plane. Yet no shipping line or 
airline or any logistics firm was included in the sanctions.
  We need to codify sectoral sanctions on Iran for ballistic missiles 
and impose tougher standards for mandatory sanctions, including 
acquisition or development of ballistic missiles as activity requiring 
sanctions. We need to show Iran we are serious about stopping their 
continued support of terrorism and human rights violations. We should 
impose stricter sanctions on the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps for 
their support of terrorism. We need to freeze assets owned by the IRGC, 
its members, and its affiliates. We should codify Executive Order 13599 
which prohibits Iran's direct and indirect access to the U.S. financial 
system. We need to improve new sanctions against Iran as a money-
laundering entity for terrorist groups and for its human rights abuses.
  We need to reauthorize the Iran sanctions act. This vital 
legislation, which is one of the most important linchpins in U.S. 
sanctions architecture on Iran, is due to expire at the end of this 
very year. Without the authorization of ISA, the Iran sanctions act, 
the threat of snapback for Iranian violations of the nuclear deal 
doesn't carry much weight. We need to have these sanctions reauthorized 
so we can use them swiftly in the event of any future Iranian 
violation. President Obama has already admitted that Iran has violated 
the spirit of the nuclear agreement.
  Finally, we must ensure that Israel is able to maintain its 
qualitative military edge--this is a standard that we have upheld for 
many years--and equip our gulf allies against increased Iranian 
aggression from proxies.
  Iran's behavior over the past year has proven they are not worthy of 
the trust bestowed upon them by this administration. While the 
administration refuses to admit reality, Congress must hold Iran's feet 
to the fire to get a stronger U.S. policy toward Iran. We cannot afford 
to give this rogue regime the benefit of the doubt any longer.
  Iran refuses to be an honest actor. It is clear from Iranian actions, 
just since the nuclear deal was announced, that they have not changed 
their behavior on missile testing, human rights violations, or support 
for terrorism. Our policies must change to reflect the dangerous 
reality.
  The Obama administration should work with Congress to strengthen our 
sanctions, reauthorize the Iran sanctions act, and stand up to Iran's 
total disregard for international restrictions and the original intent 
of this nuclear deal.
  The world is a very dangerous place. Iran needs to see a strong 
America stand up and lead again in the region. On this recent trip, the 
question we asked most of these leaders was: What do we need to do as 
America? The No. 1 answer by these heads of State was universal: 
America needs to lead again.
  We have created these power vacuums. It is time now to close this one 
with Iran.
  Mr. President, 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. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


              Welcoming Team 26 from Newtown, Connecticut

  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, the Senate has remarkable, even magic 
moments. Yesterday was one such time for my colleague from Connecticut 
and me. Senator Murphy and I had the great honor and privilege to again 
welcome Team 26 from Newtown, CT, at the end of a truly extraordinary 
journey--their fourth bike ride from Newtown--to commemorate and 
remember the 26 beautiful children and educators who were killed at 
Sandy Hook Elementary School.
  This incredibly searing and horrific moment in the life of our State 
in December of 2012 was marked by their first journey 3 years ago. This 
one was their fourth ride through rough roads and tough traffic, and 
snow and rain across the Northeast as they pedaled--literally pedaled--
to Washington, DC, from Newtown.
  We said goodbye to them on Saturday morning in some pretty cold 
weather. I was there. They braved some fierce storms to be here, but 
the memory they carried with them and the resolve and resilience they 
showed truly epitomizes the spirit of Sandy Hook and its wonderful 
people who not only survived that unspeakable tragedy of December 2012 
but also showed America a lesson with acts of kindness, unceasing 
advocacy, resilience, resolve, and--most importantly--a message of 
peace, love, and hope.
  I wear still on my wrist a bracelet I received then. Its lettering is 
worn out, so it is no longer readable, but it is that same message of 
hope, peace, and love they brought with them as they traveled here.
  Today a number of them came to the Capitol. I was proud to greet them 
with their leader, Monte Frank, who organized that first ride. He is 
responsible for the extraordinary leadership in keeping that together 
and keeping them going over those rough roads.
  With us at the Capitol today were Peter Olsen, Andrea Myers, Drew 
Cunningham, and Ken Eisner. They are among the 26 riders who came to 
Washington yesterday, met with us outside

[[Page S1999]]

the House of Representatives, then went to the White House and met with 
officials there--including Valerie Jarrett--and eventually with the 
Vice President of the United States, Mr. Biden.
  The members of Team 26 chose to ride to Washington, DC, not only for 
their personal reasons but to deliver a petition with a very clear 
message that guns have no place on campuses. They have no place on 
school grounds. They have no safety reason to be there. In fact, they 
aggravate the danger of firearms and other kinds of peril on school 
property. They also ride on behalf of commonsense, sensible measures 
that can be achieved--and we have an obligation to achieve. That is 
what they said to us as we met with them in front of the Capitol 
yesterday.
  Their message was that we can save lives, that we can work together. 
We can get things done across the aisle, on a bipartisan basis, to do 
what 90 percent of the American people want, which are universal 
background checks to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and 
criminals, making sure gun trafficking is a Federal crime and that 
straw purchases are against Federal law, ensuring that fewer guns get 
into the hands of dangerous people, particularly domestic abusers. When 
domestic abuse is combined with a gun in the home, death is five times 
as likely.
  This message ought to also include limiting the use of high-capacity 
magazines that can prevent all kinds of terrible rampages with assault 
weapons that have become all too prevalent in this country. Providing 
protection when temporary restraining orders are issued in domestic 
violence cases can help some of the most vulnerable members of our 
society, victims of domestic abuse, at a time when they need it most, 
and making sure the gun-manufacturing industry is not given an 
exemption from liability that every other industry has to defend 
against when it breaks the law. PLCCA ought to be repealed, and I have 
introduced legislation that would do it.
  This problem of gun violence affects all of us--not just through the 
mass shootings and massacres that occurred, such as Sandy Hook, but 
30,000 deaths every year. Many of them are suicides, preventable, 
senseless, and avoidable if we take action to tackle the problem of gun 
violence in this country. That is the message of the riders who braved 
those storms, who traveled those rough roads, and reminds us that 
Congress has been complicit in these deaths by its failure to act. 
Congress is complicit in gun violence and its deadly toll in this 
country.
  Monte Frank is a Sandy Hook resident who was one of the founders and 
leaders of Team 26. He rode here again this year and has ridden every 
year. I am proud he is a friend. He recently wrote:

       Team 26 will ride again because we promised the families in 
     Sandy Hook that we would continue to honor their lost loved 
     ones. We made the same promise to the many victims' families 
     we have met since then in Baltimore; Bridgeport, Conn.; 
     Harlem, N.Y.; and the District of Columbia. While we 
     established Team 26 for Sandy Hook, Team 26 could just as 
     easily be named for the victims of gun violence in Chicago 
     on a given weekend. In fact, gun violence is so prevalent 
     that we could be called Team 26,000 and that number would 
     fall short of the number of gun deaths each year in 
     America.

  I have with me the petition they brought here, but more important, I 
am here to tell my colleagues we must act. We must cease our complicity 
in this body. If tens of thousands of people in this country were 
infected with Ebola or the Zika virus or the flu, there would be 
drastic and urgent action to meet that public health crisis. The 
epidemic of gun violence in this country is no less a public health 
crisis. It is equally an epidemic, and it can be stopped. It must be 
stopped.
  I want to close with the words of Dennis Niez of Bethlehem, CT. 
Dennis rode here with Team 26 and wrote the following, entitled ``Why I 
Ride.''

       I ride for the kids who will never know the joy of riding a 
     bike, the feeling of freedom, the visits of their best 
     friends to their house. All of it taken away in a split 
     second with a firearm left loaded in the same house where 
     they're supposed to feel safe.
       I ride because the same people who have serious mental 
     health issues are able to purchase deadly firearms without a 
     background check because of a loophole.
       I ride because the same people who have a temporary 
     restraining order because of domestic violence are sometimes 
     able to keep a deadly firearm.
       I ride so our elected officials, regardless of affiliation, 
     will feel shame when they look at themselves for not doing 
     enough to keep guns away from people who should not have 
     them.
       I ride because kids in the U.S. are nine times more likely 
     to die from a gunshot than in any other western country.
       I ride because Dawn Hochsprung was my kid's principal in 
     Bethlehem, CT, someone they will always remember. She was a 
     friend to all the kids.
       I ride because doing nothing won't make the problems go 
     away.

  On that beautiful, sunny day yesterday, as remarkable and magic a 
time as it was, I thought of all those Sun-filled days that those 20 
beautiful children and 6 great educators will never have and that 
others also will be deprived of having because Congress is failing to 
act. We must act, and I hope we will act and carry with us in our 
hearts always the message of Team 26.
  I am proud to yield to my colleague and partner in this effort, 
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I thank very much my colleague Senator 
Blumenthal. I want to associate myself with all the remarks of my 
colleague from Connecticut.
  Let me congratulate the riders from Team 26 for making it through 
such inclement weather, making it through such a challenging ride to 
bring these messages to the Halls of Congress and to the White House.
  It strikes me that there are similarities between this ride and the 
challenges ahead of us. Every tough ride is a long stretch of both 
peaks and valleys. The challenge is knowing there is another hill 
coming before you and not giving up, knowing that at the end of that 
long ride, there is reward.
  When we talk about the scope of our fight to change the laws of this 
country to try to put a dent in this epidemic of gun violence, we have 
to view our journey the same way. There are going to be peaks and there 
are going to be valleys. There will be moments of triumph where we 
change the laws for the better, where we see progress, as we have in 
Connecticut, where a new State law has resulted in a 40-percent 
diminution in the number of gun homicides. Then there are the valleys--
moments like we had here in early 2013, where despite 90 percent of 
Americans supporting the idea that you should prove you are not a 
criminal before you buy a gun, we weren't able to pass that law because 
of a filibuster here. Every great change is defined not only by 
failures but by peaks and valleys, as was their ride. I join Senator 
Blumenthal in thanking them for focusing on this particular issue of 
guns on campuses.
  It is up to every individual as to whether they choose to buy a 
firearm, but they should make that decision imbued by the facts. And 
the facts are pretty clear that if you have a firearm in your home, it 
is much more likely to be used to kill you or to kill a family member 
than it is to kill an intruder, to kill someone trying to do harm to 
you.
  Nancy Lanza had guns in the home for a variety of reasons, but one of 
the reasons, apparently, was that as a single parent, she wanted 
firearms for protection. Of course, her guns were used to kill her and 
then 20 small first graders and their teachers. Similarly, on campuses, 
the data tells us that in areas that have more guns, you are more 
likely to have higher rates of gun homicides. This fiction that if you 
just arm all the good guys, they will kill all the bad guys is not 
actually how it plays out in real life.
  So I thank them for bringing these petitions here to shed focus on 
this movement to make sure we don't have students walking around 
campuses with concealed weapons. That doesn't make for a safer campus 
environment.
  Lastly because I know others want to speak, I want to talk about two 
things that struck me from our meeting at the White House at the end of 
the day yesterday. The first was when all the riders on Team 26 got to 
tell their stories about why they decided to join this ride. Many of 
them, frankly, were doing it for deep love and affection for Monte 
Frank, but they all shared a common cause with him. Around that table 
were individuals who had suffered gun violence in their immediate 
family. One woman's son committed suicide shortly after the murders in 
Sandy

[[Page S2000]]

Hook. Another husband and wife lost close friends in a mass shooting. 
But many of the individuals who were there were simply there because 
they had children who were in school, and they knew that there but by 
the grace of God, it could be their child.
  I have a first grader I drop off every morning at school, and I know 
there is nothing different about my child's school than Sandy Hook 
Elementary School. And I think about Nicole Hockley almost every 
morning when I drop off my 7-year-old. She said she never imagined that 
it would be her, and she doesn't know why more parents don't step up 
and try to do something about this before it is their child.
  The second thing I was struck by was their experience along the road. 
They noted that in over 4 years, they haven't run into anybody who has 
disagreed with their mission or who has given them a hard time about 
their advocacy. And that is really not surprising given the fact there 
is broad consensus among the American public as to what we should do.
  There really is no disagreement in any of our States--regardless of 
geography, race, or political ideology--on whether we should make sure 
that criminals don't buy guns, make sure that people who have a serious 
mental illness can't get their hands on firearms. This appears to be 
controversial and politically toxic, the way we talk about it, but the 
way it is talked about on the Main Streets that Team 26 rode down, it 
is not controversial at all. It is a settled issue: Criminals shouldn't 
buy guns. And there is no justification, in most Americans' minds, for 
a Federal law that today, on average, allows for four of six guns to be 
sold without a criminal background check. They want the law changed. We 
shouldn't pretend this issue is politically controversial. It might be 
amidst lobbying circles in Washington, but it is not in the communities 
Team 26 rode through, and they can tell you that because they were 
cheered everywhere they went.
  It is no small feat to organize this ride. It makes a difference in 
the communities in which they do events, the communities through which 
they ride, and it will ultimately make a difference here. Every great 
movement for change is a long journey made worthwhile at the end when, 
after you have ridden up lots of hills and down into valleys, you end 
up at the finish line.
  I thank Team 26 for their work.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, while my friend from Connecticut is on the 
floor, let me say that I have been here long enough now to realize it 
is hard to change things with just a speech. Indeed, it is hard to 
change things by just voting up or down on bills. The way we actually 
solve problems is by trying to find consensus.
  I know the Senator from Connecticut and I have different views on the 
Second Amendment, and that may be because there are different views 
around the country based on our experiences and the culture in which we 
were raised. I realize that in urban areas, particularly in the 
Northeast, the idea of people being raised around guns as a sort of way 
of life for recreation and self-defense and the like is just not their 
experience, but in other parts of the country--where the Presiding 
Officer lives and where I live--it is, and people feel very strongly 
about their rights under the Second Amendment.
  There is a common ground here, and the Senator from Connecticut and I 
have talked about this, and that has to do with the mental health 
issue, where I hope we can find that consensus because as long as we 
are talking past each other, we are never going to resolve any of these 
issues, and I do think there is some common ground. In the end, a gun 
is an inanimate object. The fact is, if we continue to ignore the fact 
that mental illness is very often a factor in acts of gun violence, I 
think we are going to continue to talk past each other.
  As the Senator and I have discussed, I actually have a bill that I 
have introduced--the safer cities and mental health reform bill--which 
includes a provision allowing people like Adam Lanza's mother to go to 
court and get a civil court order that would mandate that Adam Lanza 
take his prescribed anti-psychotic drugs.
  I don't know in this instance if it would have changed the course of 
events, but I do know it would have given Adam Lanza's mother--whom he 
murdered, and he stole her guns and then killed these poor, innocent 
children at Sandy Hook--an additional tool and may have just possibly 
averted the tragedy.
  I know there are many families in America today who would welcome 
additional tools by which they could then help loved ones become 
compliant with their doctors' orders to take their medication and 
become productive people.
  There is a gentleman named Pete Earley whom I know the Senator knows 
and who has testified here often. He is a journalist, but he wrote a 
book called ``Crazy.'' It is a book about his son's experience, who had 
mental illness. It is not about his son. The title is not for his son. 
It is about the so-called system that fails people like Pete Earley's 
son because it doesn't provide the options they need in order to deal 
with their mental illness.
  So I do think there are ways we can work together, but as long as we 
just keep making speeches to our respective constituents back home, we 
are never going to do that.
  I know we are working on the mental health issue now, and I would 
just say to my colleague: I am more than happy to try to find some 
common ground on this issue because I do think we need to improve the 
background check system for people who are adjudicated mentally ill, 
such as the shooter at Virginia Tech. This was a failure of the current 
system, where the Virginia law did not require that this mental health 
adjudication be uploaded into the background check system and then this 
terrible tragedy occurred.
  There are things we can do to improve the current background check 
system. There are things we can do to arm parents and families with new 
tools to help their mentally ill loved ones and maybe, just maybe, 
change the course of some of these incidents of mass violence, which 
are a terrible tragedy. So I make that offer.
  I know the Senator is not ready to cosponsor my legislation as 
currently written, but I would invite him to take a copy of it, mark 
through in a pencil the things he doesn't like and can't live with and 
give me what he can live with, and then we can perhaps begin that 
conversation.
  I thank the Senator for listening.


                     Bankruptcy, Not Bailouts Bill

  Mr. President, I came to speak on the FAA bill, the Federal Aviation 
Administration reauthorization bill, but I first want to commend our 
colleagues in the House for passing some important legislation 
yesterday called the ``Bankruptcy, Not Bailouts'' bill--a bill that 
will put to rest once and for all the concept that it is somehow the 
taxpayers' responsibility to bail out financial institutions when they 
fail, putting our financial system in jeopardy. Of course, the idea of 
too big to fail was an unfair and, I think, an erroneous concept made 
part of the law in the Dodd-Frank legislation that prioritizes large 
financial institutions over the needs of American families.
  We need to do everything we can to protect taxpayers from having been 
called upon to bail out banks. We need to let banks go bankrupt and use 
existing laws to restructure their debt and then to get back on track. 
So this is actually a very important step in the right direction.
  I commend Chairman Hensarling in the House of Representatives for 
passing this important piece of legislation. It is similar to 
legislation that I have introduced here in the Senate with Senator 
Toomey, the junior Senator from Pennsylvania, and I hope we can move 
forward soon.
  I have one other interjection on the whole idea of bankruptcy versus 
bailouts. I read in the press and I hear from some of our colleagues in 
the House that they think the bankruptcy laws are somehow a bailout. It 
is the antithesis of a bailout. It is the opposite of a bailout because 
what it does is it authorizes a court of law under established rules 
and laws to restructure the debt of the bankrupt person or business. In 
doing so, it allows them to get it behind them and then to get on and 
continue to live a productive life as an individual or to deal with a 
productive business if you are a business.

[[Page S2001]]

  But the idea that somehow taking advantage of the bankruptcy laws is 
a taxpayer bailout is flat wrong. I hope our colleagues in the House 
have the courage, particularly as we look at the Puerto Rico situation, 
to realize that at some point, unless we act in the House and the 
Senate to deal with the impending crisis in Puerto Rico, unless we act 
in advance of that crisis, we are going to be presented with an 
emergency situation, and we are going to be asked to bail out Puerto 
Rico using taxpayer dollars, and I want none of that.
  I think all of us who were here during the financial crisis in 2008 
would say the same thing: We want none of that. So let's do our work, 
whether it is ending too big to fail for large financial institutions 
or dealing with the impending bankruptcy and financial crisis in Puerto 
Rico.
  Mr. President, to the topic of the day, for the past few days we have 
been working on this legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation 
Administration. Chairman Thune of the Commerce Committee and his staff 
have been doing some good work and making a lot of progress toward 
completing the bill. I hope that cooperation continues and that we are 
able to conclude this legislation tomorrow.
  This legislation would do some very important things. It would 
streamline critical new investments in airport infrastructure and 
aviation safety to protect passengers and to help them get where they 
need to go more efficiently. It would also include the most 
comprehensive airline security reforms since President Obama took 
office. For example, it strengthens the vetting process for airport 
employees and addresses a growing number of cyber security threats 
facing aviation and air navigation system.
  Most important of all, it puts American consumers and safety first. 
It does so without raising taxes or adding fees to customers that feel 
like a tax. You may call it a fee. But if it costs money, it really 
doesn't feel any different than a tax.
  I would also like to point out the benefits to States like mine, 
Texas. It protects air traffic partnerships that supports dozens of 
Texas airports and directly responds to requests that I have gotten 
from Texas communities looking for new opportunities to improve 
regional air traffic management or expand service in order to meet 
demand--all crucial measures that help Texas communities move people 
and goods safely through airports.
  I have introduced an amendment to this legislation with the two 
Arizona Senators and the junior Senator from Nevada, Mr. Heller, that 
would do even more to help our ports of entry by strengthening public-
private partnerships at air, land, and sea ports. The fact of the 
matter is that financial resources--money--is always in short supply, 
and rather than always coming back to the taxpayer and saying you need 
to pay more, what we need to do is become more creative. That is why 
public-private partnerships are important.
  Local communities are willing to join in a partnership with the 
Federal Government to deal with these critical infrastructure needs at 
land, air, and sea ports, and that is what this amendment would do.
  We have already seen in my State time and again how important these 
partnerships can be to help reduce wait times at ports of entry--at the 
land-based ports of entry such as Laredo, which is the largest land-
based port of entry in the United States. If you have ever been there, 
you have seen the trucks stacked up coming from Mexico. There is 
important trade that goes on between our two countries that supports 6 
million jobs in the United States alone. But these public-private 
partnerships have been very successful in helping to deal with our 
infrastructure needs. It is not just about convenience. It has an 
economic impact as well.
  I mentioned that the 6 million people who benefit because of their 
jobs depend on binational trade between the United States and Mexico. 
For example, according to one study, each minute a truck sits idle at 
the border waiting to come to the United States, even though they are 
legally authorized to come here to bring goods manufactured or produced 
in Mexico, more than $100 million in economic output is lost or 
forfeited.
  Let me say that again. For every minute a truck sits at the border 
because we don't have the infrastructure to process the truck into the 
United States, more than $100 million in economic output is lost or 
forfeited.
  So this amendment would authorize more of these partnerships, which 
would also facilitate staffing and better protect legitimate trade and 
travel and keep our economy running smoothly and keep jobs being 
created. I hope my colleagues will consider this amendment and vote to 
build on the success of similar programs in the past, both in Texas and 
across the country.
  I want to mention one last amendment, one introduced yesterday, as 
well, that would target the world's foremost sponsor of terrorism. That 
is the country of Iran. Mahan Air is Iran's largest commercial airline, 
and it has repeatedly played a role in exporting Iran's terrorism.
  We all know Iran as being the No. 1 state sponsor of international 
terrorism, and Mahan Air is one of the ways they export that terrorism. 
We might call Mahan Air ``Terrorist Airways.'' That would perhaps be 
more precise. It not only supports the efforts of the Quds Force, a 
special unit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard, but of another 
Iranian-backed terrorist group, Hezbollah.
  To put it simply, Mahan Air enables the reach of Iranian personnel 
and weapons throughout the Middle East, as well as Iran's proxies, as 
the regime continues unabated to undercut the interests of the United 
States and our allies in the Middle East, such as Israel. 
Unfortunately, today Mahan Air is working to expand its international 
operations now that the Obama administration has lifted sanctions as 
part of the misguided Iran nuclear deal.
  Mahan Air is expanding its operations and adding more international 
airports to its flight patterns, including several in Europe in an 
effort to increase its bottom line. Mahan Air's unfettered support of 
terrorism in the worst aspects of the Iranian regime should give us all 
pause. I am concerned about the security risks of Americans who fly in 
and out of the same airports serviced by a Mahan Air aircraft.
  My amendment would require the Department of Homeland Security to 
compile and make public a list of airports where Mahan Air has recently 
landed. I think the public has a right to know that the airports they 
are flying into are being used to service an airline of the Iranian 
Government used to export terrorism. It would also require the 
Department of Homeland Security to assess what added security measures 
are needed. We must protect our country and our citizens from an 
airline that is complicit in terrorist activity.
  I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this commonsense 
amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill to help shine a light on this 
bad actor.
  I will close with this. Under new leadership, the 114th Congress has 
actually gotten the Senate back to work again. It is not just for the 
benefit of the majority party. It is not just for the benefit of the 
minority party. It is actually for the benefit of the constituents we 
serve, because they are the ones who benefit when we can try to work 
and find common ground and move legislation forward where we can find 
agreement, knowing that there are many areas where we will never find 
agreement because of fundamental principle differences of opinion. But 
this is another example of an important piece of legislation that will 
benefit the entire country. It definitely isn't a partisan piece of 
legislation. So it is something I am glad we have been able to move 
forward on, and I look forward to concluding this legislation tomorrow.
  It is time we upgrade our air transportation system for the entire 
country, and it is time to put the safety of airline customers first. 
This bill does that.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.


                        America's Coal Industry

  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about something very 
dear to me and to so many of my fellow Wyomingites, particularly those 
in Gillette, WY, where I used to be the mayor. It is the third largest 
town in

[[Page S2002]]

Wyoming. It has 30,000 people. That would be a very small town to the 
rest of the Nation, but here is an effect it is having. This 
administration has made no secret about its continuous efforts to 
whittle away at America's coal industry. Well, very sadly, 2 weeks ago 
those efforts resulted in unprecedented layoffs, as two of Wyoming's 
biggest coal mines let go of 15 percent of their workforce. My wife and 
I were heartbroken to see these 456 miners suddenly out of work.
  Besides the mines, there are railroad layoffs because that is how 
Wyoming coal is delivered to the other 40 States in the Nation. Outside 
of Gillette, there are 130 coal engines parked, not to mention trains. 
That means 1,200 railroad workers are out of jobs. Today, Peabody coal 
announced that they are filing chapter 11 bankruptcy. We will see more 
of that.
  I know the suffering of the 456 people and the 1,200 railroad people 
suddenly out of work may not sound so bad in places such as California 
or New York, but in Wyoming, whole communities feel that kind of 
impact. Folks I talked to in Wyoming are depressed and angry, and it is 
because the energy industries they support and rely upon have for too 
long been the target of bad Federal policies.
  People have been mining coal in Wyoming since the mid-1800s, but it 
wasn't until the 1970s that the industry really took off. The Clean Air 
Act of 1970 implemented the original restrictions on sulfur dioxide 
emissions, and, suddenly, the low sulfur content, the clean coal from 
Wyoming's Powder River Basin was in high demand. Wyoming went from 
producing just under 2 percent of our Nation's coal in the late 1960s 
to producing 9 percent by the end of the 1970s. That number rose to 31 
percent by the end of the 1990s.
  By the end of 2014, 39 percent of the Nation's electricity was 
generated by coal, according to the Energy Information Administration, 
and 40 percent of that coal was generated in Wyoming. That year, 
Wyoming's 20 mines directly employed over 6,500 workers who earn an 
average salary of nearly $84,000--almost twice the statewide average. 
The industry indirectly employs tens of thousands more contractors in 
jobs that support the coal industry. The coal industry paid over $1.14 
billion to Wyoming in taxes, royalties, and other revenue in 2014. That 
is money that was used for schools, roads, and community colleges 
across the State. Those are all in jeopardy.
  With all of this affordable energy, with all of these well-paying 
jobs, how did Wyoming find itself losing jobs last week? How did 
Wyoming wind up with the fastest growing unemployment rate in the 
Nation? Well, I recently ran across this 2011 editorial cartoon that I 
think helps explain how this administration is bringing down the coal 
industry.
  This cartoon was drawn and dedicated to the Wyoming Legislature when 
they were talking about some similar things. It is still pertinent, but 
we have to change the tattoo on the arm to say administration, and the 
dates need to be changed to 2012, when the Environmental Protection 
Agency issued its final Mercury Air Toxics Standard rule. This needs to 
be changed to 2015, when the Department of Interior piled on with its 
proposed stream protection rule and the EPA leased its final Clean 
Power Plan. We need to change this to 2016, when Interior froze the 
Federal Coal Leasing Program. If we imagine those changes, this cartoon 
can explain how we got where we are today. We are killing the golden 
goose, the producer of low-cost energy for the United States.
  Let me expand on those issues a bit further. It is a little hard to 
understand with only the titles. In 2012 the EPA finalized a standard 
that required a strict reduction in air emissions from electric-
generating units. It was known as the Mercury Air Toxics Standards--or 
MATS--rule, and like many of the rules from the EPA, the cost of this 
regulation was immense and the benefits were limited, even if the 
benefits are calculated over a much longer period of time than the 
costs. The EPA estimated that the rule would create $500,000 to $6 
million in benefits related to this mercury reduction. It would cost--
remember that this is $500,000 to $6 million in benefits--nearly $10 
billion annually to implement the rule.
  Luckily the Supreme Court rejected the MATS rule last year, stating 
that the EPA should have considered costs before setting out to 
regulate mercury from fossil-fuel fired power plants. But the 
administration wasn't deterred. Last year Congress disapproved of both 
the Stream Protection Rule and the Clean Power Plan--disastrous rules 
aimed at eliminating the extraction and use of low-cost energy--by 
using the Congressional Review Act. We did so with bipartisan support. 
Yet the President did not listen and instead chose to veto those bills.
  I believe U.S. Presidents should first and foremost seek to help the 
citizens of the United States, and that means the President must have a 
deep understanding of the people and the challenges they face. 
President Obama and others in his administration--and some seeking to 
replace him--have demonstrated how woefully little they understand 
about coal, the jobs that are related to coal, the people who produce 
it, and even the people who use it.
  Many folks in Wyoming who produce and use coal have reached out to 
me, and I want this administration to hear from them. The 
administration needs to hear from people like Nancy from my hometown in 
Gillette. She wrote last week to tell me about losing her job at a mine 
where she worked for 9 years. She is 64 years old, single, and takes 
care of her elderly father. She has a house payment--a house she worked 
very hard to keep after going through a divorce. Now she is worried 
about her house and just wants a job so she can keep her house and 
retire with a little money in her pocket.
  To understand the impact these policies have on not just energy 
workers but the communities in which they live, the administration 
needs to hear about Sarah from Newcastle, which is about 70 miles from 
Gillette and about 50 miles from any coal mines. Sarah and her husband 
started a carpet and flooring store and had been successfully managing 
it for over three decades. She is sad to see so many in her community 
out of work and fearful that the economic downturn will mean the end of 
a business she has devoted her life to creating.
  The administration needs to hear from Robert, again from Gillette, 
his and my hometown. He recently lost his job at a smaller coal mine 
and had to uproot his family to move to another State in order to find 
work. He knows that out West the media markets are small and the 
national news will never cover the heartbreaking stories of his 
colleagues and neighbors in this coal market. Robert needs to know that 
maybe the media won't cover his family's story, but I won't forget 
about him, and I won't stop fighting the bad policies this 
administration has created.
  America has the resources, America has the manpower, and America has 
the reserves to provide the energy we need for a strong economy and a 
healthy environment. Nobody knows that better than the folks in 
Wyoming, where people for generations have made a good living 
extracting energy from the same lands on which they love to hunt, fish, 
hike, and camp. People are dedicated stewards of the land and want 
their children and grandchildren to enjoy it in the same way. That is 
why Wyoming coal mines are recognized year after year for their 
outstanding reclamation efforts. You can see that in this photo of the 
beautiful land in Wyoming where a short time before a coal mine 
existed.
  On occasion, I take people out to view the coal mines, and usually, 
as we get close to the coal mine, they say: Oh, don't let them tear up 
that land over there. It is beautiful.
  We have to explain to them: That is where the mine used to be; this 
is where it is headed.
  They say: Oh. If you can change that into this, do it.
  There are some difficulties with replacing it like this. This hill 
had to be exactly the same as it was before the coal was removed. If 
there are stones in there, they have to be put back where they were 
before.
  The ranchers who border on these coal mines think, why would anybody 
move that much dirt and put it back the way it was?
  Well, it is the law, and they have been following the law and getting 
phenomenal results.
  What Wyoming and other States that produce and rely on fossil fuels 
need is

[[Page S2003]]

innovative policies that will encourage new ways to continue to develop 
and use America's huge reserves of coal, oil, and gas. We are the Saudi 
Arabia of coal, and that can displace some of what Saudi Arabia has 
been thrusting on us for decades. One of those options is carbon 
sequestration, which Senators from both sides of the aisle in this 
Chamber have historically supported. Using that technology, carbon 
dioxide emitted from combusting fossil fuels can be captured and routed 
to secure geological storage, preventing it from being released into 
the atmosphere, although plants need that. The carbon dioxide can also 
be used for enhanced recovery of oil and natural gas to help ensure 
that America efficiently utilizes these resources.
  When a well is drilled and pumped, you get about 25 percent of the 
oil out of the ground. There is some enhanced recovery that has been 
invented and since that time, and they can get about another 20 percent 
out of the ground. That means that 55 percent of our value is still 
underground. People are working to invent ways to take care of that and 
take care of the energy we are going to need to be energy independent.
  Even the White House supports investment in research and development 
projects to make carbon capture more accessible, deployable, and 
affordable.
  I hope my colleagues from any State that uses or produces fossil 
fuels will join me in supporting policies to encourage carbon 
sequestration and the use of carbon. There are a number of uses, and 
one of those is to get that enhanced oil recovery.
  Last week was a tough one for Wyoming, but I am proud to be from a 
State that has always found a way to bounce back from any bust. 
Actually, what we have is a leveling out, but it is a difficult 
leveling out because for the first time coal prices, oil prices, and 
natural gas prices are all down at the same time. When you have an 
economy that is building for growth and it levels out, it seems like a 
dramatic bust.
  This is not the end of coal's chapter in Wyoming history. I will keep 
working to make sure of that.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that an article that just came 
out today entitled ``The Powder River Basin: Creating a new future in 
Wyoming's biggest coal town,'' which talks about some of the innovative 
things people are doing and how it will help Gillette, be printed in 
the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

  Powder River Basin: Creating a New Future in Wyoming's Biggest Coal 
                                  Town

         (By E&E reporter, Brittany Patterson, April 13, 2016)

       Gillette, WY.--Laura Chapman's best-selling cupcake is the 
     ``Coal Seam Overload,'' a decadent chocolate cake topped with 
     rich chocolate frosting and dark chocolate toppings.
       It's a tribute to her home state's top export, a product 
     that eventually is used by 1 out of every 5 homes or 
     businesses in the United States.
       ``It does permeate the whole lifestyle here,'' she said, 
     from inside Alla Lala Cupcakes and Sweet Things, Gillette's 
     first and only cupcake shop, which Chapman opened in the 
     town's downtown district in 2013.
       On its face, a specialty store like Chapman's might seem 
     out of place in a town that since its founding has been 
     strongly rooted in producing coal, oil, natural gas and 
     methane.
       Located in the heart of the Powder River Basin, Gillette is 
     surrounded by 12 coal mines, some of the largest in the 
     country, employing some 5,600 people, according to 2014 data. 
     In a county just shy of 50,000, the mines provide jobs for 1 
     out of every 10 residents.
       On a recent March morning, charter buses, similar to the 
     ones that ferry tech workers to the Google and Facebook 
     campuses, head out of Gillette. Yet these buses aren't filled 
     with coders and app designers, but with miners. Pickup trucks 
     sporting long poles topped with bright orange flags follow 
     suit. The flags are to make sure those operating the living 
     room-sized coal trucks don't accidentally engage in an 
     unintentional monster truck brawl.
       On the south side of town at mining parts supplier L&H 
     Industrial, a 13,000-square-foot mural is devoted largely to 
     an image of inky black coal being scooped into a coal truck, 
     a train filled with coal passing by.
       Since 1990, the town's population has doubled to a little 
     more than 30,000, a respectable size in a state where 
     pronghorn antelopes outnumber people. But the promise of 
     plentiful, good-paying jobs has not only brought people to 
     the self-styled, ``Energy Capital of the Nation,'' but also 
     brought tax revenues and prosperity.
       Wyoming produces 39 percent of the nation's coal, or about 
     382 million tons in 2014, according to the Bureau of Land 
     Management. Because Gillette is so interconnected with coal 
     and other fossil energy resources, it faces a barrage of 
     assaults, both economic and regulatory. Production of Wyoming 
     coal has declined 14 percent since 2011. Late last month, 
     mass layoffs were announced.
       At the largest mine in the region, Peabody Energy Corp.'s 
     North Antelope Rochelle mine, 235 workers were told not to 
     come to work. Arch Coal Inc. cut 230 jobs. The reductions 
     represent about 15 percent of each company's workforce in the 
     state.
       A boomtown since its founding, Gillette is acutely aware of 
     the central role that natural resources, especially coal, 
     have played in its existence. And yet Gillette seems 
     determined to survive in a world that is pushing coal out. It 
     has invested in itself and planned for a future where coal is 
     not king.
       The question now facing Gillette is whether it has done 
     enough: Can this boomtown weather this bust?
       Shedding a boomtown stigma.
       Founded in 1892, the city was named after railroad surveyor 
     Edward Gillette. Today, between 80 and 100 trains speed out 
     of the region daily, carrying Wyoming coal to more than 30 
     states.
       In the 1960s, oil development about doubled the city's 
     population from about 3,500 to more than 7,000. The rapid 
     population growth spurred violence and crime, so much that 
     psychologist Eldean Kohrs in 1974 coined the term ``Gillette 
     Syndrome'' to describe the social problems that accompany a 
     boomtown.
       With the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1963 and 
     subsequent amendments in the years after, power plants began 
     turning to Powder River Basin coal. Gillette officially 
     became a coal town.
       It wasn't until the mid-1970s that then-mayor and now U.S. 
     Sen. Mike Enzi (R) crafted a city expansion plan aimed at 
     changing the public perception about Gillette. A major 
     component included investing in infrastructure to support the 
     growing population.
       Built on a 19-mile grid, present-day Gillette is an 
     amalgamation of strip malls newly filled with chain stores 
     like Petco and Buffalo Wild Wings. Rows of hotels and motels 
     advertise weekly rates, and newly constructed subdivisions 
     rise out of the hilly landscape. Shiny trucks, boats and 
     campers litter driveways. There are two frozen yogurt shops 
     and two golf courses.
       Recent growth has been steady since the mid-2000s, which 
     Chapman said has led to more boutique shops like hers opening 
     downtown.
       About a decade ago, the city and county began investing a 
     sizable portion of revenues from the energy sector back into 
     services for the community. For $53 a month, residents can 
     use the state-of-the-art recreation center featuring a six-
     lane indoor track and a 42-foot climbing wall designed to 
     resemble aspects of the nearby Devils Tower National 
     Monument.
       The Gillette that Chapman grew up in hardly resembles the 
     one that exists today, she said.
       ``Hell, when Applebee's opened 10 years ago, it was like 
     the town wanted to throw a party, because before then, the 
     only chains we had were fast-food restaurants,'' she said, 
     laughing. ``And I know that sounds weird, but that's an 
     exciting thing to realize, `Hey, we've gotten to this point 
     they're going to build an Applebee's.' ''


                  Reimagining a city with fewer people

       But as the coal industry feels the pinch, the city's 
     investments are being tested. Gillette is losing people as 
     mines make layoffs, supporting service companies shutter 
     their doors, and oil and gas production falls, said Wyoming 
     state Sen. Michael Von Flatern (R). About 1,500 people have 
     packed up and left in the last year, and he expects another 
     couple of thousand to move on before the summer is out.
       ``I expect we'll lose 10 percent of our population over the 
     next year,'' he said. Charlene Murdock, executive director of 
     the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce, embodies the 
     interconnectedness of the energy industry and business 
     community in Gillette. She spent nearly eight years with the 
     chamber in the 1990s and then did communications work for 
     energy companies, most recently working for four years with 
     Peabody Energy.
       She is generous with her laughter but also gives off a no-
     nonsense vibe, and she is quick to shoot down the word 
     ``bust'' as a descriptor for the current situation in 
     Gillette, preferring to call it a ``softer economic period.''
       ``Bust, to me, says something like `We have no jobs, we 
     have no people, we have no income,' '' Murdock said, noting 
     that Gillette's latest ``boom'' was more like steady growth 
     for the last 12 years.
       Murdock sees this period as one of ``leveling off'' in 
     Gillette, even a chance for the community to catch its 
     breath.
       At the height of the energy boom in the 2007-08, 
     unemployment was less than 2 percent. Houses were on the 
     market mere hours before being snapped up.
       And yes, she said, this downturn might mean the end of some 
     businesses and services. For example, Gillette might lose one 
     of its frozen yogurt shops. Perhaps, this year, housing 
     development will not occur, she allowed. But whether it's 
     growth or decline, she said, those who have made roots in 
     Gillette are aware that energy commodities drive the economy 
     and uncertainty isn't new.

[[Page S2004]]

       ``I really don't see us not having an energy industry in 
     two years' time,'' Murdock said. ``While I think certainly 
     people are apprehensive about what the future looks like, I 
     think they also are resilient, and we'll see that resiliency 
     really pay off for us.''
       Not everyone is convinced.
       Greg Cottrell, owner of the Big O Tires in Gillette, falls 
     into the worried camp. He worked for 14 years in the Cordero 
     Rojo mine when it was owned by Kennecott Energy, and he said 
     this downturn feels different.
       ``We've never had a war on coal before coming from the 
     administration,'' he said. 'We've had coal companies since 
     the '70s. So for 40 years, they've been a very big part of 
     this community and the growth and the reason we have very 
     good schools and hospitals and recreation centers for kids.''


                          Looking for a Plan B

       That phrase ``the war on coal'' isn't uncommon in Wyoming.
       Many in Gillette feel President Obama's environmental 
     policies targeting carbon emissions have doomed the industry.
       Concerns abound about a decision earlier this year by the 
     Department of the Interior to pause federal coal leasing for 
     three years while the agency conducts a review of the 
     program. All of the mines near here are part of the federal 
     coal program.
       Another fear is U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, which which is 
     expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 
     32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 nationwide.
       Gillette is surrounded by, and in some cases part owner of, 
     three coal-fired power plants. Some could be on the chopping 
     block in order for the state to meet its emissions cuts under 
     the rule.
       Some of the worry is tied to Gillette's deep financial 
     dependence on coal. Revenues from the resource are the 
     second-largest cash stream for state and local governments in 
     Wyoming. In 2014, the total amounted to $1.14 billion.
       In addition, since 1992, Wyoming has received more than $2 
     billion in coal bonus bids, which are paid to BLM and the 
     state over a five-year period once a lease is issued. The 
     money has been used to fund schools, highways and community 
     colleges across the state.
       Right now, Cottrell said, companies that supported the 
     energy industry, especially the oil industry, have closed 
     shop or aren't spending money, at least not on new tires.
       He concedes that the city is different, bigger.
       ``We don't have so much of an up-and-down economy now 
     because Gillette is a little more diversified,'' he said, but 
     added, ``I wouldn't call it self-sustaining yet, though.''
       Last month, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services 
     reported that Campbell County had experienced one of the 
     largest jumps in unemployment across the state. From January 
     2015 to January 2016, unemployment rose from 3.6 percent to 6 
     percent. That was before the huge mine layoffs were 
     announced.
       A population exodus means a loss of sales tax revenue for 
     the city, but a downturn in the energy sector also affects 
     the tax base significantly. Each living room-sized 
     coal truck, road grader or shovel is purchased by the 
     mines from businesses on the south side of town.
       The city, for its part, has recently re-evaluated how it 
     will invest in major capital projects over the next five 
     years, according to Gillette City Administrator Carter 
     Napier, but with no way to know if revenues from the energy 
     sector might rebound, the city is facing tough decisions.
       ``The further questions we need to have are with regard to 
     what services we may need to cut and what programs we may 
     need to curtail until we can feel comfortable that revenue is 
     back to at least an understandable level,'' he said.
       But if it doesn't come back, there might be a plan B.


               Meet the man trying to diversify Gillette

       Soft-spoken, with wire-rimmed glasses, Phil 
     Christopherson's current job is engineering, but of a 
     different kind than the former Boeing employee was trained to 
     do.
       As CEO of Energy Capital Economic Development, his job is 
     to help diversify the city's energy-intensive economy. The 
     two-person entity is both publicly and privately funded and 
     tasked with promoting, retaining and expanding business in 
     Gillette.
       The state-of-the-art sports complex, events center and 
     other niceties in Gillette were part of that calculation, the 
     idea being that they would foster community and help provide 
     reasons to stay even when times get tough.
       Expanding the community college is another form of economic 
     diversification, one that required the city, the county and 
     private industry to step up financially. Inside the Technical 
     Education Center, part of Gillette College, students can earn 
     associate's degrees in welding, industrial electricity, 
     mining machine tools and diesel technology. There's a popular 
     nursing program, as well. Inside the Peabody Energy Hall, 
     students rehearse for an upcoming musical performance. The 
     college is expanding and adding an arena, and more dorms are 
     under construction.
       In 2010, the group partnered with the city to revitalize 
     the downtown shopping district now home to the cupcake shop, 
     a brewery, boutique clothing stores and a meadery, among 
     others. Public art adorns the corners of South Gillette 
     Avenue. Art is also sprinkled throughout town--a lustrous 
     palm tree, a polar bear sculpture and a larger-than-life 
     spider.
       ``There's never not something to do,'' added Mary 
     Melaragno, director of business retention and expansion with 
     Energy Capital Economic Development.
       The group's newest endeavor, with help from a grant from 
     the Wyoming Business Council, is to purchase office space it 
     could then rent to new businesses looking to relocate, like 
     an incubator.
       In the wake of the historic layoffs, Christopherson sees 
     the role of diversifying Gillette as even more important.
       ``It's interesting,'' he said. ``You have some people that 
     are quite worried and quite fearful, but there's a segment of 
     the population that has stepped up.''
       Some residents have even started a ``Stay Strong Gillette'' 
     movement, he said.
       And why not Gillette, supporters say. The city has the rail 
     and road infrastructure, access to cheap and plentiful 
     electricity and a workforce that is used to working hard.
       Already, one company, Atlas Carbon LLC, has moved to town 
     with a business plan that includes using coal--in this case 
     manufacturing activated carbon (the stuff found in water 
     filters)--but not burning it for energy.
       Christopherson said he hopes it's enough. He concedes that 
     if the community had prioritized this effort five or 10 years 
     ago, ``we could have helped insulate against some of this.''
       Still, he doesn't see Gillette existing without coal 
     mining.
       And he's not alone. Most people in Gillette don't believe 
     coal will disappear from their lives anytime soon, if ever. 
     Instead, the consensus seems to be that the peak of coal 
     production in Campbell County has come and gone.
       ``There is a way to continue Gillette's economic success 
     and move us into a future that is not dependent upon coal and 
     oil and methane,'' said Chapman, back at the cupcake shop. 
     ``I just feel like there's a way to do it right, a way that 
     lessens the impact on the people who live and work here and a 
     way that lessens the impact on our future.''
       For now, Chapman said business is good and she is content 
     to continue whipping up cupcakes and baking birthday cakes. 
     Her husband is in the process of opening a whiskey barber 
     shop across the street.
       ``Of course I'm optimistic,'' she said laughing. ``I opened 
     a cupcake shop, didn't I?''

  Mr. ENZI. If we eliminate coal, it will force people across the 
Nation to pay more for their energy.
  Coal has a good base load. It runs all the time. It is not like wind. 
If the wind doesn't blow, you don't have it. It is not like solar. If 
the sun doesn't shine, you don't have it. Coal can work 24 hours a day, 
and it is low cost. There has also been more done to clean up coal-
burning power plants than anywhere else.
  We invite people to come to Gillette, WY, and look at the power 
plants and clean air that we have. The only time we get regional haze 
is when the forests burn in Oregon or Washington and blow into Wyoming 
and make our mountains disappear. You won't find coal dust around 
there, either, because people don't let anything blow away that they 
can sell.
  We hope everyone will come and take a look at the environment and the 
power plants so you, too, can say: You know, coal is not bad, and 
America needs it.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Toomey). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                           Wasteful Spending

  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, this is now my 39th edition of ``Waste of 
the Week.'' For 39 weeks I have been back on the floor when the Senate 
has been in session to talk about unnecessary, fraudulent, wasted, 
abusive spending of taxpayer dollars.
  We have run up quite a toll--more than I thought we would--but the 
more I dig into this and the more information we get from the agencies 
that are looking at how we spend taxpayers' dollars, the more alarmed I 
have been and the public should be and our colleagues should be over 
how these hard-earned tax dollars are spent in a wasted and abusive way 
or a fraudulent way. So I am going to keep doing this to alert my 
colleagues and alert the American people--in particular, people in my 
State--that there are ways we can better and more efficiently use their 
tax dollars or not require them in the first place.
  This week I am focusing on documented abuse of the Department of 
Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Most Hoosiers 
and

[[Page S2005]]

other Americans know this as the Food Stamp Program. The Food Stamp 
Program has had some ups and downs in terms of our support, and there 
has been a lot of bad publicity about the abuse of this program. I get 
many letters and contacts in my office describing standing in the 
grocery line and seeing someone use food stamps not for milk for their 
children or cereal or nutritious food but for junk food or tobacco or 
alcohol. The program is not supposed to be used for that kind of thing, 
but somehow we keep reading about potential misuse of what this program 
is intended to do.
  Now, the SNAP program, as it is now called--Supplemental Nutrition 
Assistance Program, S-N-A-P, the SNAP program--exists to provide low-
income individuals with their nutrition needs and food items. It is 
funded by the Federal Government, and it is administered by the States.
  Let me begin by saying I am not here to do a critique of the program. 
That is a topic for a different discussion. I am here to talk about 
whether this program is being effectively run by the States and 
effectively funded by the Federal Government. What we have learned is 
that--no surprise--as with so many other Federal programs, there has 
been gaming and fraudulent use of the program. There clearly are people 
who don't qualify and are not eligible for receiving these food stamp 
vouchers but are nevertheless receiving them through this program.
  The government has become modern with the digital age, and instead of 
food stamps they issue an electronic benefits transfer card. It is like 
a debit card that people carry in their wallet. Money is added to that 
card electronically and it can be used at grocery stores. People swipe 
it. Hopefully, it works better than Secretary Clinton's card worked at 
the subways of New York. Anyway, you can swipe this card, and it will 
deduct the amount you have, in terms of the cost of the food provided, 
and it is refreshed on a monthly basis.
  In looking at the program, the General Accountability Office got some 
tips about the fact that a lot of replacement cards were being sent 
out. We all leave our license on the counter in the kitchen or our 
credit card and we wonder, ``Where is that credit card,'' and then we 
need a replacement. This happens. We understand that. So there is a 
replacement card program available through SNAP. You say you lost your 
card and they send you a new one. The problem is that GAO--the 
Government Accountability Office--learned from the program that a 
tremendous amount of replacement cards were going out to people--
sometimes over four. Then, they say: Wait a minute. Maybe we ought to 
look at this because this person has been asking for replacement cards 
on a regular basis. Are they really losing those cards or are they 
using them for other purposes?
  So they set up a trial program. They looked at three States--
Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nebraska--and found that more than 7,500 
households receiving these SNAP benefits had suspicious transactions 
and were using four or more EBT cards in a year during key times, such 
as when cards were credited with benefits, and all of a sudden the 
request came in, saying: I lost my card--and by the way this is the 
fifth time or sixth time or whatever.
  In totaling all of this, the General Accountability Office said this 
accounted for more than $26 million of suspicious transactions. Now, 
that was just from the three States. These are sizable States--
Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nebraska--but they pale in comparison to 
say Florida, Texas, California, and New York. So if it was $26 million 
of suspicious transactions for just these three States that were looked 
into, imagine what it would be if they checked all 50 States.
  So we did some calculations using the same proportion of SNAP 
households as those identified by GAO as affecting the whole country, 
and we came up with roughly $3.2 billion of waste over a 10-year period 
of time. That is not small change. A lot of people work awfully hard to 
accumulate the kind of money needed to total $3.2 billion and then only 
to see it wasted.
  People said: Maybe these suspicious transactions were legitimate. So 
we did a quick search on Craig's List. Craig's List is this list you go 
into--I know all of the young pages understand this. We old people 
aren't necessarily up to speed on all of these new electronic 
transactions and processes and so forth. I got into it with the help of 
my young staff. We got into Craig's List and we found that what was 
being advertised--see, on Craig's List you put up something that others 
will want to buy, and it can be anything from a washing machine to a 
lawn mower, to a picture frame or whatever. We found some people 
advertising these SNAP cards, these EBT cards. For instance, a mechanic 
named Marco could--this was not Marco Rubio, by the way--a mechanic 
named Marco will accept EBT cards as payment for auto care, he said. In 
other words, if you have a problem with your car, come over to my shop. 
I will fix it for you, and instead of cash, you can give me EBT cards. 
So probably that is pretty tempting. How much to fix my automobile? 
Thirty-five bucks. I have an EBT card. It has $33.47 left on it. How 
about I pay you with that? He says: OK. I can take that in payment. 
Then they apply for a replacement card. That is probably one of the 
ways it adds up.
  Another person advertised two Beyonce tickets. I haven't been to a 
Beyonce concert, but I actually know who she is. I actually realize, 
even at my age, that she is a star and everybody wants these tickets. 
So they advertised two tickets for $1,200 and said: We can accept EBT 
cards for payment. Somebody has to accumulate a lot of these cards to 
come up with a payment for two tickets to a Beyonce concert.
  Another post on Craig's List reads: ``I have around $1,300 in food 
stamps and have no need for it at all.'' I will sell this card with 
$1,300 in credits if you will send me $300. I guess that raises 
questions about how these cards are being used, and these are just a 
few examples.
  This kind of fraud obviously needs to be addressed. As all of the 
other 38 weeks of ``Waste of the Week'' I have put up here continues to 
accumulate, these cards obviously are not being used--all of them--for 
those who need it and for its intended purpose. It is clear that we 
ought to be adopting GAO's methodology of tracking both the number of 
recipients that receive more and more EBT cards at specific times of 
the year and those with suspicious transactions, and I think a lot of 
this abuse could be eliminated.
  So what we are doing today is we are adding another $3.2 billion of 
waste, and we continue to raise the amounts. It is now $162 billion of 
waste, fraud, and abuse. This is going to continue as we alert the 
American people, inform my colleagues in the Senate and the Congress, 
and inform the administration that there are ways to better use, and 
hopefully not even have to request in the first place, the kind of tax 
dollars we are paying for a clearly dysfunctional Federal Government 
program.
  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. HATCH. 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. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the FAA 
reauthorization legislation before us, as well as the managers' 
amendment filed yesterday on this key piece of legislation.
  This is an important bill that will ensure the airport and airway 
trust fund will remain solvent and that our Nation's airway system--and 
the countless jobs that are impacted by the system--do not have to deal 
with a funding shortfall or a lapse in authorization.
  The airport and airway trust fund finances many of our national 
aviation programs. Currently, expenditures from the trust fund are 
authorized through July 15 of this year. The provisions that ensure 
adequate funding for the trust fund expire at the same time. That means 
that, absent congressional action, national airway programs and 
projects will come to a screeching halt about 3 months from now.
  Make no mistake, this bill is about protecting jobs and consumer 
interests across the country. No one would benefit from a lapse in 
funding or authorization as either one would threaten

[[Page S2006]]

the livelihoods of people throughout the country. While from time to 
time the passage of what should be considered routine legislation can 
get weighed down by unrelated issues, no one seriously disputes the 
need to get the bill over the finish line.
  As the Presiding Officer knows, the Senate Finance Committee, which I 
chair, is responsible for the tax title of the FAA bill. The trust fund 
is paid for through a number of tax provisions that are set to expire 
in July along with the authorization of expenditures from the trust 
fund. These provisions include longstanding taxes on domestic and 
international airfares, taxes on jet fuel, and others.
  In years past, the Finance Committee has introduced and debated 
legislation to renew and, if necessary, update those provisions. We 
typically have a markup and report the legislation out of committee. I 
had intended to follow a similar course with this year's FAA bill. 
Unfortunately, that isn't how things worked out.
  As we were working through the process in committee to set up an FAA 
markup, it became clear that my friends on the other side of this aisle 
saw the bill as an opportunity to add a number of extraneous items--
provisions that had nothing whatsoever to do with the FAA--to the bill 
and set the stage for a politically charged debate in the Finance 
Committee.
  Now, I am not one to shy away from controversy, but with an item of 
this importance--one that is a priority for Members on both sides--I 
didn't see the benefit for either side in turning the FAA tax title 
into another wide-ranging tax extenders bill and reducing the robust 
debate process in the Finance Committee to a series of controversial 
votes. Moreover, given the small lead time before the authorizing bill 
was to be up for floor debate, a markup that addressed anything more 
than the Finance Committee's basic responsibility to fund the FAA would 
have prejudiced Members on both sides in terms of preparation. For all 
of these reasons, we decided not to mark up the bill in committee, and, 
instead, to resolve the matter here on the floor.
  It appears that it has been resolved. There will be voting before the 
end of the week on a simple extension of the taxes dedicated to the 
airport and airway trust fund through the end of Fiscal Year 2017. 
Ultimately, a clean extension of the FAA taxes like the one before us 
is probably the best approach. My main priority in developing this 
legislation was to ensure adequate funding for the FAA and airway 
projects and programs throughout the country and to do so in a fiscally 
responsible manner.
  Over the past few weeks, we heard a lot of talk about adding 
additional provisions to the tax title and there were some efforts to 
once again stack this legislation with extraneous items. Indeed, 
leading up to yesterday, lobbyists and special interest groups all over 
town were waiting with baited breath to see what was in the tax title.
  Don't get me wrong. I am not a purist or foolhardy idealist. While I 
have made it clear that I would prefer that the Senate pass a clean FAA 
bill, I know that none of us can reasonably expect to get everything we 
want out of every piece of legislation, particularly when the goal is 
bipartisan compromise. I am very much in favor of practicing the art of 
the doable, which sometimes means accepting things I don't want to see 
happen. I have been willing to work with my colleagues to include other 
provisions in the tax title in order to get a deal on the overall FAA 
bill.
  I will leave it to others to characterize what happened in those 
negotiations, as none of the items under discussion were high 
priorities for me. I will just note that after weeks of discussion, 
finger-pointing, and a little bit of grandstanding, the decision was 
made to move forward on a clean 18-month extension of the FAA funding 
provisions, which once again, was my preference from the outset.
  Needless to say, I am pleased with the outcome. I wish we could have 
taken a less contentious path to arrive at this conclusion.
  Still, this is a good outcome for the American people and for all the 
industries that rely on a fully functional airway system. The 
legislation before us will extend the programs for a year and a half 
and provide greater certainty for people and businesses around the 
country. On top of that, it will improve security on planes and in our 
Nation's airports while also providing much needed improvements to help 
consumers and airline passengers.
  I know that the people of Utah in my home State are particularly 
interested in seeing Congress finish its work on the FAA 
reauthorization. Over the last few months, I have heard from many 
groups and businesses from Utah and elsewhere on a number of issues 
addressed by this bill, including airport funding, drone safety, rural 
airport needs, and general aviation.
  Many people, when they think about Utah's airways, probably think 
that we just have the one airport in Salt Lake City. Make no mistake, 
that is an important airport, not only to Utah but to air travel and 
shipping all across the country and other parts of the world. But my 
State's interest in the FAA bill extends well beyond the Salt Lake City 
International Airport. All told, we have 47 total airports in the State 
of Utah, varying greatly in purpose, size, and overall capacity, all of 
which would benefit from this legislation. Many of these airports have 
new development or expansion projects either underway or in the 
planning stages. The legislation before us will give assurances to 
these airports and allow them to plan for future needs.
  The bill also includes important provisions from the Treating Small 
Airports with Fairness Act, which constitutes section 5028 of the FAA 
bill. This legislation will help a number of smaller rural airports, 
such as some of those in Utah, to bring back TSA staff and security 
screening equipment if certain conditions are met.
  Under subtitle F of the bill, we have language taken from Pilot's 
Bill of Rights 2, a bill that the Senate passed with unanimous consent 
last year but was not yet passed in the House. The general aviation 
community in Utah will benefit tremendously from these provisions, 
which could potentially help thousands of general aviation pilots in 
Utah, saving them time and money in managing their health and fitness 
to fly. There are other provisions in the bill that will benefit Utah 
and most States throughout the country.
  In short, this is a good bill. From the FAA reauthorization 
provisions to the tax and funding title, it is the right approach to 
addressing these particular needs, and we need to get it done. 
Therefore, I urge my colleagues to support Senator Thune's managers' 
amendment as well as the overall FAA bill.


       Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act

  Mr. President, I would like to talk for a few minutes on S. 483, the 
Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act. The Senate 
unanimously passed this crucial legislation last month, and just 
yesterday the House passed the bill as well. The bill now goes to 
President Obama for signature.
  I would like to begin by thanking Senator Whitehouse for his 
important work on this legislation. He and his staff have been crucial 
partners in helping to move it forward. I am also grateful for the 
support of our other cosponsors--Senators Rubio, Vitter, and Cassidy.
  S. 483 is not a long bill, but it is an important one. It clarifies 
several key provisions of the Controlled Substances Act in ways that 
will strengthen efforts to fight prescription drug abuse while ensuring 
patients retain access to needed medications.
  As we all know, prescription drugs play a crucial role in treating 
and curing illness, alleviating pain and improving quality of life for 
millions of Americans. Unfortunately, these drugs can also be abused. A 
balance is necessary to ensure that individuals who need prescription 
drugs for treatment receive them but that such drugs are not diverted 
for improper purposes. To this end, S. 483 makes three important 
changes to the Controlled Substances Act.
  First, it clarifies the factors that the Attorney General is required 
to consider when deciding whether to register an applicant to 
manufacture or distribute controlled substances. The current text of 
the Controlled Substances Act instructs the Attorney General to 
consider factors that ``may be relevant to and consistent with the 
public

[[Page S2007]]

health and safety,'' but it does not provide any guidance as to what 
those factors might be. This vague language creates uncertainty among 
advocates regarding the standards they must meet to obtain a 
registration.
  S. 483 reduces this uncertainty by tying those standards to 
Congress's findings in section 101 of the Controlled Substances Act 
regarding the benefits, harms, and commercial impact of controlled 
substances. This change will bring clarity to the registration process 
and provide better guidance to regulators as they consider applications 
to manufacture or distribute controlled substances.
  The second change S. 483 makes is to delineate the standards under 
which the Attorney General may suspend a Controlled Substances Act 
registration without a court proceeding. Under the terms of the 
Controlled Substances Act, the Attorney General may suspend a 
registration to manufacture or distribute controlled substances without 
court process if she determines there is an imminent danger to the 
public health and safety. But the Act does not define what constitutes 
an imminent danger, leaving the Attorney General's authority under this 
provision essentially open-ended. This in turn leads companies to 
operate in the shadow of uncertainty regarding when and whether a 
registration might be summarily suspended.
  S. 483 clarifies the Attorney General's authority to immediately 
suspend a registration by specifying that such a suspension may be 
appropriate where there is a ``substantial likelihood of an immediate 
threat that death, serious bodily harm, or abuse of a controlled 
substance will occur in the absence of an immediate suspension of the 
registration.'' This will permit the Attorney General to issue 
immediate suspension orders when necessary to protect against an 
imminent threat of harm, while at the same time ensuring that this 
power does not become a sword constantly hanging over the head of law-
abiding companies.
  In addition to these important clarifications, S. 483 will also 
facilitate greater collaboration between distributors, manufacturers, 
and relevant Federal actors in combatting prescription drug abuse. In 
particular, the bill provides a mechanism for companies that violate 
the Controlled Substances Act to correct their practices before the 
Attorney General suspends or revokes their registration. Even 
inadvertent violations may lead to suspension or revocation, disrupting 
the supply chain for the company's prescription drugs. This in turn can 
cause hardship for patients who rely on the company's drugs for 
treatment and cure.
  S. 483 alleviates this problem by allowing companies to submit a 
collective action plan to remediate the violation before suspension or 
revocation, thus ensuring that supply chains remain intact. This 
provision will also encourage greater self-reporting of violations and 
promote joint efforts between government and private actors to stem the 
tide of prescription drug abuse.
  S. 483 takes a balanced approach to the problem of prescription 
drugs. It clarifies and further defines the Attorney General's 
enforcement powers while seeking to avoid situations that may lead to 
an interruption in the supply of medicine to suffering patients. It 
reflects a measured, carefully negotiated compromise between 
stakeholders and law enforcement that will enable both to work together 
more effectively. Most importantly, it will make a meaningful 
difference in our homes and communities.
  I want to thank my colleagues for their support of this legislation, 
and I urge the President to sign it into law.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.


                        Remembering Ray Thornton

  Mr. COTTON. Mr. President, Arkansas lost a political legend today 
when former Congressman Ray Thornton passed away at the age of 87.
  Ray Thornton grew up in Sheridan, the child of two teachers. Ray's 
intellect and quick wit was evident from an early age. He graduated 
from high school at just 16 years old. He then headed off to the 
University of Arkansas, eventually winning the Navy Holloway Program 
scholarship to attend Yale University. After college, Ray heeded what 
would be the first of several calls to serve his country and joined the 
U.S. Navy, where he served 3 years with the Pacific Fleet during the 
Korean war.
  After leaving the Navy, Ray returned home to Arkansas, earned a law 
degree from the University of Arkansas, and married Betty Jo, with whom 
he raised three daughters.
  Ray began a successful legal career before being elected attorney 
general in 1970. After one term, Ray was elected to the House of 
Representatives from Arkansas's Fourth District. Ray served with 
distinction, including on the Judiciary Committee, where he helped 
draft the articles of impeachment against President Nixon.
  In 1978, he narrowly lost an epic Senate primary fight, featuring 
him, fellow Congressman and later Governor Jim Guy Tucker, and 
Governor, later Senator, David Pryor. He then returned to the family 
business of education, becoming the only man to serve as president of 
both Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas.
  Ray returned to politics in 1990, winning election to the House of 
Representatives again, this time from Arkansas's Second District, 
serving another three terms. Representing the Little Rock area, Ray was 
President Clinton's Congressman, yet he voted against the President's 
signature budget in 1993. Also, around this time, Arkansans passed an 
amendment to our State's Constitution limiting the terms of Federal 
officeholders.
  In the ensuing landmark case, U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, the 
Supreme Court held that States cannot add additional qualifications to 
Federal offices, including a limitation on terms. Ray was the named 
defendant and believed in this constitutional principle. But shortly 
after the decision, he announced his retirement from Congress, proving 
that the case was never really about him but rather his devotion to the 
Constitution.
  On a personal note, I got to know Ray as he prepared to retire from 
Congress. Thanks to the recommendation of a family friend who worked 
for Ray, I interned at Ray's Little Rock office for a few weeks in the 
summer of 1996. Rather than the usual intern routine of ``clips''--for 
you pages down front, that is when interns literally clip stories out 
of the newspaper--I spent days and days at a storage unit in southwest 
Pulaski County, sorting through more than a quarter century of Ray's 
public papers and preparing them for the archives under the supervision 
of his longtime, matchless advisor, Julie Baldridge.
  It was a fascinating history lesson in Arkansas politics, and it 
highlighted a common theme of Ray's career: his commitment to do the 
right thing, as he saw the right, even when it was the tough thing. 
Whether it was impeachment, that 1993 budget vote, or the term limit 
case, Ray stood his ground. But Ray did not leave public life after 
Congress, for he answered another call to service, this time on the 
Arkansas Supreme Court, where he served until 2005.
  Now Ray has gone home to his Maker. While we join his family and 
friends in mourning the loss, we also celebrate his long, well-lived 
life in service to our country and Arkansas. Rest in peace, Ray 
Thornton.
  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. ROUNDS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gardner). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  The Senator from South Dakota.
  (The remarks of Mr. Rounds pertaining to the introduction of S. 2796 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mr. ROUNDS. Mr. President, 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.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, as we are trying to determine whether 
we

[[Page S2008]]

have a path forward for an energy bill we have been working on for 
months, as well as the FAA reauthorization, I thought I would take the 
time to come to the floor to speak about the importance of this much 
needed Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, recognizing the 
importance of what the FAA does. It is just a reminder to us that when 
we delay needed reforms and those initiatives that provide some 
certainty of funding for airport improvements, it doesn't help us out 
here, and that making sure we are attending to these matters in a 
timely manner is important.
  I think it is fair to say that all of us in this body travel a fair 
bit. Most everyone, seemingly, will fly home to their respective 
States, visit with their constituents, and be with their families on 
weekends. Some of us who are from farther away make efforts to be back 
home as often as we can, but the distances might complicate it a little 
bit more. But I think it is fair to say that we see firsthand the 
inside of many of our Nation's airports and see firsthand those areas 
where improvements can certainly be made.
  In my State of Alaska, for some of us the airport is almost as common 
and matter-of-fact as going to the grocery store. It seems as though we 
are in and out of our small airports so much because it is how we get 
around. In a State where 80 percent of our communities are not 
connected by a road, how do you get around? How do you get to 
Dillingham? How do you get to Fort Yukon? Well, you can take a boat. 
You could take a snow machine in the winter. But the fact is, we fly. 
We are a flying State. And it is not a matter of flying because it is a 
vacation or a business trip. It is to go see the doctor. It is to go to 
high school. It is to go to the grocery store--literally to the grocery 
store. So many of the people in the outlying rural parts of the State 
will fly to Anchorage so they can shop at Costco, and instead of taking 
luggage back home with them, they take toilet paper, diapers, canned 
goods, and their grocery items. In one community, we have kids who 
literally instead of a schoolbus to get to school, they take a small 
plane to fly across the river that separates their community from the 
school.

  We are working to get them a bridge. Some might suggest these are 
bridges to nowhere. We think this is about connecting people. Right now 
it is pretty limited in our ability to move in and out. When we talk 
about flying, for us in Alaska, it is a very matter-of-fact way to 
travel. It is no frills.
  You come from a cold State, Mr. President. You know that if you and 
your family are going on a long trip out on the road and you are going 
to be in the high mountains and the roads might be treacherous and it 
is cold, you will be smart and you will pack some snow gear in the 
trunk. You might have some emergency supplies there. We do that when we 
are flying on the airplanes too. Make sure you have snow pants and 
boots on because sometimes these airplanes are cold, and unfortunately 
sometimes things happen. This is a fact of life, and I think the Alaska 
delegation probably logs as many miles as any Members out there--
perhaps our friends from Hawaii just a little bit more. It is a part of 
who we are. We have come to rely on that access with a pragmatism that 
perhaps some others don't necessarily appreciate.
  I can be at Reagan National, and if a plane is canceled or there is a 
mechanical problem, the tension is almost so thick you can cut it with 
a knife. People are so frustrated. If your flight gets grounded in 
Alaska, it is like, well, the weather has set in. My sister lived on 
the Aleutian Islands for many years in a community called Unalaska. 
When she needed to take her family into Anchorage some 800 miles or so 
away for medical care or any other issues that presented themselves 
that she would have to go to town, she basically planned for 3 days on 
either end of her trip because weather shuts you in.
  I was in Fairbanks, AK, on a field hearing for the Energy and Natural 
Resources Committee 2 weeks ago, and it was a quick day trip up and 
back, but there was no plane that came my way. In fact, all the planes 
were grounded in Fairbanks because a volcano blew about 800 miles to 
the south and the winds were strong. It picked up the volcanic ash and 
deposited it all the way from Pavlof Volcano, down in the Aleutians, up 
to Barrow and down into the interior of Fairbanks. So what do we do? We 
don't panic. I was able to spend the night with my sister, catch up on 
family stuff, rent a car, and drove the 7 hours to Anchorage the next 
day. It messed up my schedule, but it is a matter-of-fact part of 
flying in Alaska. At the end of that week, I took a quick supposedly 
day trip to Kodiak to attend our commercial fishing symposium. Halfway 
through the day, weather kicked up again. It wasn't a volcano, but it 
was pretty tough winds, rain, and fog. While the airport wasn't shut 
down, the airplanes weren't flying. You find a friend's house to go 
camp out for the evening, and you hope the skies are favorable the next 
day. You don't want to press the weather because when you are in the 
air and you are flying, you want to be safe.
  I don't tell you these stories to be dramatic about what happens with 
volcanos and weather in Alaska but to speak to how integral air 
transportation is to people in my State. A good airport, a reliable 
flight schedule, this is the equivalent of having a good road and a 
good car on the road.
  I look very critically and very carefully at things such as the FAA 
Reauthorization Act because some of what we deal with in this measure 
is effectively a matter of life safety for many of my constituents. 
Some of those for whom flight is the only option in my State live in 
the small community of Little Diomede. Little Diomede is about 16 miles 
off the coast of Alaska. It is in the middle of the Bering Strait. You 
may have heard of Little Diomede because it is 2\1/2\ miles from Big 
Diomede. Little Diomede is owned by the United States. Big Diomede is 
owned by Russia. So when you hear that statement about you can see 
Russia from Alaska, when you are on Big Diomede, that is a true 
statement.
  When you are sitting in this small island community of some 110 
people, your hub community for food, for health care, for pretty much 
anything is Nome, AK. That is where you go. During the summertime, 
during the time when the ice is not frozen over in the Bering Strait, 
literally the only way to get in and out is by helicopter because the 
island is so small and it is such a peaked island--basically a big rock 
coming out of the water--there is no flat space for a runway. So you 
have a helicopter that provides for medical in and out and travel in 
and out. In the winter, the residents will actually carve a runway into 
the ice so planes can land on the ice to deliver essential products, 
whether it is food or medicine or the such. Sometimes you can't put the 
runway on the ice because the ice has been so compressed and jumbled 
and you have ice ridges that don't allow for a place to land. Again, 
you are back to helicopter.
  The good news for the residents of Little Diomede--and this is thanks 
to the good work of my colleague Senator Sullivan--Little Diomede will 
be joining the other 43 communities in the State that are part of the 
Essential Air Service, and this will help provide funding to keep the 
airport open so people can continue to live in a place they have lived 
for generations.
  Nowhere in this country is Essential Air Service so vital. The reason 
they call it Essential Air Service is because it is essential. In a 
place like Little Diomede, it is essential. Forty-three communities in 
the State of Alaska, compared to 113 across the rest of the country, 
are in Alaska. Many of these locations are only accessible by air. As 
with Little Diomede, you don't have a road in, you don't have a road 
out. It truly does make the phrase ``Essential Air Service'' have 
meaning.
  Another community you have heard me speak about at great length--and 
in fact we are going be having a hearing focused on King Cove, AK. King 
Cove is a community that is at the beginning of the Aleutian chain. 
This is a community that has no road access in or out. It is accessible 
only by plane. It is an area that suffers from some very difficult 
weather conditions because of where it sits on the peninsula--the 
mountains, the ocean. The dynamics are such that it doesn't allow their 
small airport to be open for about one-third of the year. Think about 
that--getting goods in and out, getting people in and out, getting to 
safety if there is a medical emergency. There is a small airstrip there 
in King Cove. It

[[Page S2009]]

is about 3,500 feet long. It is made of gravel. We have been working to 
try to get access for the people of King Cove for about 25 years, 
access to the State's second longest runway, which is in Cold Bay.
  We have an opportunity tomorrow morning in the Committee on Energy 
and Natural Resources to shine a spotlight on this issue, to remind 
people that since 1980 we have had 19 people die due to plane crashes 
or injured residents who have waited for a safe way out. I have brought 
up this issue with Secretary Jewell so many times I can't count it, but 
she continues to be a blockade and refuses to allow a road to be built 
so these people can gain safe passage.

  Since 2013, there have been 42 medevacs out of King Cove; 16 of them 
carried out by the Coast Guard. This is one of those examples where if 
you have people who live in a place where the elements and their 
geography dictate a level of concern for safety, where we can provide 
for safe transportation systems, where we can provide them the access 
to the best air transportation possible, which is over in Cold Bay, 
then we should be trying to do that.
  The last issue I want to raise with the FAA bill that is very 
important is all that is going on with unmanned aerial systems. Alaska 
is home to one of the six official FAA sites for unmanned aerial 
systems. It is managed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Pan-
Pacific UAS Test Range Complex is huge. It covers an area from the 
Arctic all the way down to the tropics. In Alaska, we have six test 
ranges. I think it is fair to say that provides some pretty unique 
range for an opportunity to conduct experiments.
  In addition to incredible range, the Arctic itself offers a unique 
opportunity for testing our UAS. It is vast. It is remote. You are away 
from the congestion of the lower 48. You are in different climate 
conditions. So this is something where Alaska truly has been leading 
and pioneering, and we are very proud of that.
  I am encouraged that this bill requires the Department of 
Transportation to develop a plan allowing UAS to operate in designated 
areas of the Arctic 24 hours a day and beyond line of sight. I think 
this is important not only from the research perspective but hopefully 
for the commercial purposes as well.
  I think it is fair to say there is good work, strong work that has 
gone into this FAA reauthorization. I commend the chairman of the 
Commerce Committee, Senator Thune, for his leadership, and I look 
forward to its passage in the very short term. I will certainly stand 
in support of that measure.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  MS. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I rise to speak in support of the 
Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016. I wish to 
thank Senators Thune and Nelson for their work on this bipartisan bill. 
The Presiding Officer also serves on the Commerce Committee. Thank you.
  I also thank Senator Murkowski because in 2013 we worked together to 
pass the Small Airplane Revitalization Act, and the law requires the 
FAA to move forward with modernizing the Part 23 safety certification 
process for small airplanes. Updating the Part 23 process--why we 
brought the bill together and passed it--will improve safety, decrease 
costs, and encourage innovation for American small airplane 
manufacturers.
  The bill before us actually builds on those efforts by requiring the 
FAA to finish the Part 23 rulemaking by the end of the year and make 
further reforms to the certification process. It will also help to 
ensure greater coordination with FAA regional officers when they 
interpret and implement FAA rules and regulations so that the aviation 
industry has certainty. There are also are provisions to help the FAA 
and industry maintain global leadership on safety at a time when the 
aviation market is becoming increasingly competitive and global.
  Senator Murkowski and I have similar but different interests here. In 
Alaska, of course, people fly on a lot of small planes to get places, 
and in Minnesota we do the same thing, but we also make planes. We have 
one of the biggest domestic manufacturers, Cirrus, in Duluth, MN, and 
so we share an interest in the safety of small planes and also in 
expediting these safety regulations and getting them approved. It has 
been taking the FAA a while to do that, so we are really glad this bill 
before us, the FAA reauthorization, actually includes a deadline so 
that this can get done.
  Last week I spoke about the security elements of this bill. I am a 
cosponsor of the amendments that we passed to strengthen airport 
security, improving security in nonsecure areas of the airport, such as 
the check-in and baggage claim, and also tightening airline employees' 
access to secure areas of our airport. Those are important security 
advancements and show how we can make bipartisan progress on an 
important issue.
  My airport has been experiencing significant delays in processing 
passengers. There has been a bit of an improvement since the Homeland 
Security TSA Administrator actually came out and saw for himself what 
was going on, and as a result, they gave us additional dog teams--
similar to what we are talking about in this bill--to help us with 
security. In this case they also walk the longer lines of passengers. 
Once they are able to use the dogs, which are highly efficient and 
good, it will help to expedite the lines because the passengers become 
the equivalent of a precheck passenger, and they can move them along 
faster.
  When I first heard we were getting a few dog teams, I wasn't sure if 
that would actually solve our problem when the average line was up to 
45 minutes, and as a result many people would miss their planes. We 
have seen some improvement, including adjusting to the reconfiguration 
at our airport.
  Another issue the bill addresses that I think is really important is 
human trafficking. During the Commerce Committee markup, we adopted my 
Stop Trafficking on Planes Act as an amendment. This bill, which 
Senator Warner and I introduced, will require training for flight 
attendants so they can recognize and report suspected human 
trafficking. Flight attendants are on the frontlines in the battle 
against trafficking, and this amendment will ensure they have the 
training they need to help prevent the horror and violence women and 
children suffer as victims of human trafficking. Obviously, Senator 
Cornyn and I led a significant bill last year on this issue to give our 
law enforcement some better tools to be able to go after these 
perpetrators, and this is really a continuation of that work.
  There is another important safety priority which I am concerned this 
bill does not address. I filed an amendment with Senators Moran and 
Inhofe to clarify that the Oklahoma City aircraft registry office 
provides essential services and should remain open during a government 
shutdown. One might wonder why the Senator from Minnesota is concerned 
about the Oklahoma City aircraft registry office. The reason for the 
concern is that every aircraft sold domestically, exported, or imported 
to the United States must be registered and obtain FAA approval. These 
registrations are vital to the safety of our national airspace system, 
and they are all processed by the Oklahoma City aircraft registry 
office.
  In addition to the safety risk from closing the registry office--and 
that is what occurred during the shutdown--we saw that it had a 
devastating economic impact. The company I am talking about, Cirrus, 
which makes these jets, had jets lined up in a warehouse for weeks and 
weeks and weeks--multimillion dollar products that were supposed to be 
sold around the world. They were unable to ship them out because this 
particular office in Oklahoma had been shut down. The General Aviation 
Manufacturers Association estimates that $1.9 billion worth of aircraft 
deliveries were delayed during the last shutdown, putting a severe 
strain on many general aviation manufacturers and their employees.
  The Oklahoma City aircraft registry office is vital to the safety of 
our national airspace system and the economic well-being of our 
aviation sector. An entire sector was shut down because they couldn't 
get approval to keep selling their planes for a number of weeks. I urge 
my colleagues to support my amendment to ensure that this important 
office remains open in case we have another shutdown, which we all hope 
does not occur.

[[Page S2010]]

  The last issue I came to the floor to speak about in terms of a 
grouping of provisions in this bill is the Safe Skies amendment. I am 
on this amendment with Senator Boxer. She is leading this amendment, 
which is based on her bill, the Safe Skies Act. This bill will close 
the so-called cargo carve-out. There is absolutely no reason to exempt 
cargo pilots from the stronger pilot fatigue rules that we all passed 
and Congress mandated after the tragic 2009 crash of Colgan Flight 3407 
outside of Buffalo.
  I met those family members, I have seen the tragedy, and I have 
talked to others who have been in other crashes that were the results 
of pilot fatigue. We had our own tragic air crash in Minnesota when 
Senator Paul Wellstone and his wife Sheila died in a small airplane, 
not a commercial airplane, due to pilot error. That pilot supposedly 
had not slept for a long time, and so we have seen this in my own 
State.
  Cargo airline operations share the same airspace as passenger 
airplanes, the same runways, and the same airports as the rest of the 
airline industry and the flying public. A tired pilot is a danger not 
only to himself or herself but to others in the air and to those on the 
ground.
  This issue is a top priority at NTSB. They want to have this loophole 
closed, and I don't know how it could be more telling than this 
dialogue. This happened in 2013 when two cargo airline pilots were 
tragically killed in a crash near the airport in Birmingham, AL. I will 
read an excerpt, which is right here on the chart, from the cockpit 
voice recorder on that flight. These were the two pilots speaking to 
each other just 20 minutes before this flight went down.

       Pilot 1: I mean, I don't get that. You know, it should be 
     one level of safety for everybody.

  They are actually discussing the fact that these rules don't apply to 
them. They are not protected. They don't have the 8-hour flying rule, 
and then they can rest.

       Pilot 2: It makes no sense at all.
       Pilot 1: No it doesn't at all.
       Pilot 2: And to be honest, it should be across the board. 
     To be honest in my opinion whether you are flying passengers 
     or cargo . . . if you're flying this time of day--

  They often fly in the evenings--

     you know fatigue is definitely . . .
       Pilot 1: Yeah . . . yeah . . . yeah . . .
       Pilot 2: When my alarm went off I mean I'm thinkin' I'm so 
     tired.
       Pilot 1: I know.

  Twenty minutes later, this plane crashed, and both of the pilots were 
killed. We shouldn't have to wait for more tragedies before we close 
this gap in aviation safety.
  I urge all my colleagues to support Senator Boxer's amendment and 
create a uniform rest standard for all pilots. I don't know how much 
clearer it can be when the actual pilots who crashed were discussing 
the fact that they were too tired because of the way the cargo rules 
work.
  This bill--the general bill that is before us--makes great strides in 
aviation security and safety. I think there are some things we can add 
to this bill. By the way, Captain Sully Sullenberger did an event 
yesterday with Senator Boxer and me. He feels strongly about this 
issue. He was the one who made that miraculous landing in New York. He 
stood with us and a bunch of pilots and said there is absolutely no 
difference between flying cargo and flying people; it is just a 
different kind of cargo.
  I look forward to continuing to work on these amendments, and I urge 
my colleagues to support this long-term FAA reauthorization and avoid 
the uncertainty of further short-term extensions. I hope we will be 
able to have a vote on this very important safety amendment.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.


               Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Bill

  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I rise once again to talk about the 
urgency of our passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act in 
the House of Representatives. This is legislation that passed the 
Senate with a 94-to-1 vote about a month ago. In fact, the Senator from 
Minnesota, who just spoke, Ms. Klobuchar, is one of the four original 
cosponsors of this legislation. She is one of those who feels so 
passionately about it, along with Senator Whitehouse and Senator 
Ayotte.
  When this came bill came up for a vote, all but one Senator said that 
this is important, it is urgent, and we need to address it. Passing it 
in the Senate with that kind of a vote meant that the House of 
Representatives would likely take it up quickly, partly because over 
the last 3 years we worked with the House. We didn't just make this 
bipartisan, we made it nonpartisan. We didn't just make it a Senate 
project, we made it a House-Senate project. It was bicameral. We 
introduced the same legislation in the Senate that they introduced in 
the House. I believe there are 119 cosponsors of that bill in the 
House.
  It has been subject to a lot of hearings over here. It has been 
subject to five different summits here in Washington, DC. We brought 
experts from all over the country to tell us what to do. We don't have 
all the best ideas here in Washington, so we got the ideas from around 
the country. One reason the legislation got this strong vote of 94 to 1 
in the Senate is that it does address the problems people see in their 
communities.
  I want the House to act on this because it is so urgent. This 
legislation will help right away in terms of helping to prevent drug 
abuse, helping young people to make the right decisions, and helping 
people get into treatment and recovery which is evidence-based and 
works, rather than people overdosing and dying from this heroin and 
prescription drug epidemic.
  It has been more than a month since we voted on this bill in the 
Senate. Every day it is estimated that 120 Americans die from drug 
overdoses. That means we have lost more than 3,800 Americans to drug 
overdoses since the legislation passed the Senate. We can't wait. We 
have to move, and we have to move quickly on this because it is an 
epidemic.
  The experts say that from 2000 to 2014, the rate of overdose deaths 
doubled, leaving nearly half a million Americans dead from drug 
overdoses. That is why we call it an epidemic.
  In Ohio alone, we have lost 160 Ohioans since the Senate passed CARA. 
Since 2007, drug overdoses have killed more Ohioans than car accidents. 
Car accidents used to be the No. 1 cause of accidental deaths in Ohio, 
and now it is drug overdoses. It is probably true in your State too.
  According to the Centers for Disease Control, CDC, Ohio now has the 
fifth highest overdose death rate in the country--top five, not 
something to be proud of. Statewide, overdose deaths more than tripled 
from 1999 to 2010. We have been told that over 200,000 Ohioans are 
addicted to opioids right now. It is not slowing down. Unfortunately, 
this crisis continues, and therefore our response cannot slow down. In 
fact, it needs to speed up.
  Washington is not going to solve this problem. It will be solved in 
our communities back home, but we can help. We can be better partners, 
and that is what the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, CARA, 
does. It makes Washington a better partner to be able to save lives.
  Last week I talked about how it is affecting one of our cities in 
Ohio--Cleveland, OH. I would like to update everybody here and my 
colleagues in the House about what is happening in Cleveland, OH. From 
March 10, which was the day we passed CARA, to March 27, the latest 
date for which we have statistics, 29 people died from overdoses, and 
that is in one 17-day period in one city. Over the course of one long 
weekend during that period, eight men and four women died of overdoses. 
During one long weekend in one city, 12 Ohioans overdosed, which 
included a 21-year-old and a 64-year-old. Some of the victims were 
White, some of the victims were African American, some of the victims 
were from the suburbs, and some of the victims from were from the inner 
city. This is affecting all ages, all races, all backgrounds, and all 
ZIP Codes.
  Some of you may have heard the story of Jeremy Wilder. He is from 
Portsmouth, OH, one of the areas that is hardest hit in Ohio.
  In Portsmouth, OH, we had a townhall meeting 6 years ago. I brought 
in the drug czar and law enforcement officials to deal with the 
prescription drug epidemic that was exploding at that point. As we made 
more progress on

[[Page S2011]]

prescription drugs, heroin started to come in, which is a cheaper 
alternative, and unfortunately more and more people got into the grip 
of that heroin addiction.
  Jeremy Wilder of Portsmouth, OH, said he became addicted to heroin 
and sold drugs to pay for his own use. He told National Public Radio 
this:

       I sold dope to cops, I sold dope to lawyers, I sold dope to 
     doctors. I had a cop that used to drive me to my drug 
     connection--rich kids. I had two good friends that were very 
     wealthy, and because of their addiction, their parents have 
     nothing today because their children just drained them.

  That was on National Public Radio.
  There is no demographic, no State, no city, no county that is safe 
from this epidemic.
  One of the big issues we have now in Ohio is heroin laced with what 
is called fentanyl, which is an even more powerful drug. In 2013, five 
people in Cleveland died of overdoses of fentanyl, which we are told is 
up to 100 times more potent than heroin, depending on the fentanyl. In 
2014, that number increased by more than 700 percent. So from 2013 to 
2014, a 700-percent increase to 37 people dying. Last year, by the way, 
that number more than doubled to 89 people dying of fentanyl overdoses.
  Over the weekend--4 weeks after the Senate passed CARA--in the middle 
of the day, a man overdosed and died at a McDonald's in a suburban 
community outside of Cleveland in front of a lot of people, and there 
was a lot of media coverage as a result.
  In Franklin County, annual overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled in 
the last decade.
  In Toledo, we lost 214 people to overdoses last year--a 50-percent 
increase in just 1 year. We think now that some 10,000 people in the 
area are addicted to heroin or opioids.
  People in Akron have been heartbroken over the story of Andrew Frye. 
Andrew's mom was a heroin addict. Andrew, his mom, and his grandmother 
all did heroin. Last week, Andrew's mom found him dead at the age of 16 
in a Summit County hotel room. That was his last week, 16 years old.
  Summit County, by the way, where Akron is located, has seen its 
overdose death rate double in just 5 years.
  I think we get the picture. This is clearly a growing epidemic. It is 
a problem that must be addressed. As I have said, no ZIP Code, no 
congressional district is safe from this threat. In Ohio, we understand 
that. Just in the last few weeks, there have been summits on this issue 
in Cincinnati, in Middletown, in Cedarville, OH. Again, suburban, 
rural, and inner city communities are all affected.
  On March 23, nearly 2 weeks after CARA passed, the Franklin County 
coroner, Dr. Anahi Ortiz, convened the Franklin County Opiate Crisis 
Summit. She says she has seen children as young as 14 die of drug 
overdoses. She has seen toddlers and seniors alike die of overdoses as 
the coroner in that community.
  There is a sense of urgency across Ohio about this, a sense that it 
has gotten out of control. It is in the headlines. People understand 
it. Washington could use that sense of urgency too. Communities are 
taking action. Ohio is taking action. Other States are taking action. 
The Senate has taken action by a 94-to-1 vote. That means it is now 
time for the House of Representatives to take action. Right now, the 
House version of CARA has 113 cosponsors.
  This bill was written together with us, on a bipartisan, bicameral 
basis, to ensure that we could get this legislation through to the 
President for signature and get it out to our communities to begin 
helping to avoid not just these overdose deaths but all the 
dislocations occurring because of this epidemic, all the families and 
all the communities that are being torn apart and devastated. 
Prosecutors in Ohio told me 80 percent of crime is related to this 
opiate addiction issue.
  I know the House majority leader has said he wants the House to take 
on this drug epidemic and pass legislation sometime this month. I 
appreciate that, and I know he is sincere. I watched the Republican 
weekly address by Congressman Bob Dold of Illinois. He did a very good 
job. It is clear to me that he is passionate about this issue, and I 
appreciate his advocacy on behalf of those who need our help. But I 
would say that I didn't notice any hearings or markups this week.
  We passed this legislation in the Senate. It has been subject to all 
kinds of scrutiny and hearings, and it passed with a 94-to-1 vote. Are 
there other ideas? Of course there are, and that is fine. But we know 
these ideas work: better prevention; better education; more people in 
treatment and in recovery that is actually evidenced-based, and it 
works; helping police officers to have the Narcan they need to save 
lives--this miracle drug that can stop an overdose from turning into a 
death; helping to ensure that prescription drugs are taken off the 
bathroom shelves; stopping this overprescribing by having a drug-
monitoring program because most people who are hooked on heroin started 
with prescription drugs. We know these things. This legislation does 
this.
  It provides around $80 million in additional funding going forward. 
That funding is needed, again, to be a partner with State and local 
governments and nonprofits, not to take their place. We know this.
  Let's get this legislation passed. Let's move this legislation 
separately. It can be sent to the President's desk next week. We can 
begin to make progress now. If there are other ideas, that is great; 
send them over here and we will work on them. We will work on our own 
ideas. There is always more to do on this issue. Unfortunately, there 
is always more to do.
  We know the bill we passed here works. We know it is bicameral, and 
we know it has cosponsorship in the House to be able to get it done. We 
hope the House will simply put CARA on the floor, pass it by a large 
bipartisan margin, just as the Senate did, and get it to the 
President's desk for his signature. This is close to being a historic 
achievement for this Congress and, much more importantly, for the 
American people. It is really one vote away--one vote away--on the 
floor of the House of Representatives.
  I will tell my colleagues why it is going to pass. It is going to 
pass because Senators from every State in the Union representing every 
single congressional district supported this bill. It has the support, 
more importantly, from groups all over the country, including 130 
different organizations, stakeholders, the people who represent those 
who are in the trenches dealing with treatment, in the trenches dealing 
with prevention. Our law enforcement community--the Fraternal Order of 
Police, the National Sheriffs' Association--they all endorse this 
legislation. These groups understand what is needed, and they want this 
help now.
  This is a unique opportunity for us to move forward. In this 
political year, in this partisan atmosphere, this is one issue that 
should not have any partisanship to it at all. It should just get done.
  Senator Whitehouse and I crafted this legislation together, again 
working with others in the Chamber, as we talked about earlier. We 
drafted it with a lot of different stakeholders from around the 
country, holding five forums on various aspects of this debate. These 
forums were here in Washington, but we brought in experts from all over 
the country, knowing that is where the best ideas are going to be.
  The best practices around the country are represented in the 
legislation. We have done this. We have done the factfinding. We have 
consulted with the experts--with the doctors, law enforcement, the 
patients in recovery, with the drug experts in the Obama 
administration, including the White House Office of National Drug 
Control Policy, including the Department of Health and Human Services 
and the Department of Justice. We brought in people from all over, and 
they agree that this is where we can make progress and make progress 
now.
  That work is important. It should not be ignored. But much more 
important is the fact that people out there are waiting for us. They 
are waiting for us to act. Thousands of veterans, pregnant women, and 
first responders are waiting because this legislation affects all of 
them. Every single one of these groups would benefit from CARA, and 
they want it now.
  Think about the peace of mind we could give parents by expanding 
prevention and educational efforts to prevent prescription and opioid 
abuse and the use of heroin so that their kids

[[Page S2012]]

don't make that tragic mistake of experimenting one time--one time--
which is sometimes all it takes. CARA could give them some peace of 
mind.
  CARA would increase drug disposal sites to keep these medications--
these prescription drugs and pain killers--from getting into the wrong 
hands. We are already told by the Centers for Disease Control that the 
amount of prescription opioids sold in the United States nearly 
quadrupled since 1999; yet there has not been an overall change in the 
amount of pain Americans report. So how do we explain this dramatic 
increase in prescriptions? Some of these drugs are being abused, or 
sold on the street to addicts. A survey in 2013 found that 4.5 million 
Americans use opioids for nonmedical purposes. CARA would help make 
sure that prescription drugs don't get into the wrong hands. And set up 
the drug-monitoring program to better know who is getting these drugs 
and why and be able to stop the inappropriate use.
  CARA would create law enforcement task forces to combat heroin and 
methamphetamine and expand the availability of naloxone and Narcan to 
our law enforcement and first responders. They know how important that 
is. They know that if they had more training and more availability, 
they could save more lives. Again, that is why law enforcement, 
including the Fraternal Order of Police, supports this legislation. 
Thank God we have them out there. If you talk to your police officers 
and firefighters, you will find that they are doing this work every 
single day. They are intervening and saving lives every single day in 
your community.
  They know that this addiction epidemic is driving lots of other crime 
too. It causes thefts, violence, and human trafficking. Last month in 
Columbus, I met with a group of trafficking victims. These were women. 
They all told me the same thing, which is that their pimps, their 
traffickers, got them hooked on heroin and then trafficked them, and in 
each case they were trafficked on this Web site: backpage.com. This 
drug issue and human trafficking are definitely related.
  We are told by law enforcement that so much of the crime--the 
majority of the crime in our State has been driven by this drug 
addiction.
  There are so many heartbreaking stories, but there are also stories 
of hope. I have heard them firsthand. I have met people who have been 
in recovery, who have made it through to the other side. So part of 
what this legislation is saying is that this addiction issue is an 
illness. Addiction is an illness and, like other illnesses, needs to be 
treated that way. It is a disease. But also, part of our legislation is 
saying that there is hope. We have seen where treatment and recovery 
that is evidenced-based can work to get people's lives back on track, 
to bring families back together.
  I have heard so many stories. I was in a treatment center in Athens, 
OH, a couple of weeks ago meeting with women who are now reunited with 
their children for the first time in years because they have taken the 
brave and courageous step to get into treatment. This grip of addiction 
is very difficult. It is very difficult to escape from, but they have 
done it. They are now in long-term recovery. They are back at work. 
They have the dignity and self-respect that come with taking care of 
their family and being at work.
  On March 29, 19 days after we passed CARA, the President spoke at the 
National Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, GA. At 
that summit we heard from Crystal Oertle of Shelby, OH. She told her 
story of trying Vicodin because someone offered it to her. She became 
addicted because she tried it once. Eventually she needed something 
stronger and stronger, and pills weren't always available and they were 
more expensive. Heroin was more readily available and cheaper, so she 
started using heroin. She would drive an hour to Columbus, OH, with her 
2-year-old daughter every day to get her heroin. Her addiction drove 
her to theft. Her family supported her and begged her to get help. She 
is now being treated. She is more than 1 year sober. She is part of an 
outreach program, the Urban Minorities Alcohol and Abuse Outreach 
Program. She is taking opiate blockers, drugs that actually block the 
effects of opiates. This is exciting new medication. She is getting 
counseling. She is part of a support group with other people in 
treatment. It is working. It is working for her, and it is working for 
many other Americans. She is dedicating herself to eliminating the 
stigma around addiction to get more people to step forward and to get 
into treatment because she knows that if you treat addiction like other 
diseases, it will have an impact on that stigma, more people will come 
forward, and more people will be able to get their lives back on track.
  There is hope. Addiction is treatable. We are told that 9 out of 10 
people who need treatment aren't getting it. Again, this is one reason 
CARA is so important: It will get more people into treatment.
  As I said before, I take the House leadership at their word when they 
say they would like to move this legislation and move it through 
regular order. I understand that, but I will say this: They need to 
move and they need to move quickly because of the urgency of this 
issue, because of the fact that in their communities and in the 
communities represented here on the Senate floor, which is every 
community in America--every single State here has a U.S. Senator who 
supports this legislation.
  People are waiting. They need the help. We can provide the help. We 
can make the Federal Government a better partner. We can deal with this 
crisis.
  I am going to do everything in my power to protect the people of 
Ohio, even if that means continuing to come out here on the floor every 
week and continuing to do everything I can, including making calls, as 
I did yesterday, over to the House of Representatives; including 
talking to my colleagues personally; and including telling some of 
these stories I have told today. People's lives are at stake. We have 
to move this legislation. We need to get it to the President's desk. He 
will sign it. And it can then begin to make a real difference for the 
families we represent who are so affected by this epidemic.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lee). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 2200

  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, yesterday many Members of the Senate 
came down to the floor to discuss the importance of equal pay for equal 
work.
  Republicans remain committed to enforcing our equal pay laws and 
preventing discrimination. We all believe wage transparency is an 
important tool, and we agree that employees have a right to freely 
discuss their compensation without the fear of retaliation. This 
transparency will allow employers and employees to identify what trends 
or factors exist and how they are actually contributing to wage 
disparities.
  No meaningful change to overcoming the opportunity gap can occur 
without this knowledge. We have bipartisan agreement that preventing 
retaliation will empower American workers and will enable them to 
negotiate more effectively for the wages that they have earned. 
Protecting employees from retaliation is an issue that all of us, 
Democrats and Republicans, can agree on. Today we have a unique 
opportunity to pass a bill that will strengthen our Nation's equal pay 
laws for the first time in over 50 years. Today we have a chance to 
make a difference for American workers.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the 
immediate consideration of Calendar No. 278, S. 2200. I ask consent 
that the bill be read a third time and passed and that the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mrs. MURRAY. I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Washington.


                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 862

  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, the bill my colleague from Nebraska is

[[Page S2013]]

asking to bring to the floor falls far short of closing the wage gap. I 
want to speak for a few minutes about why. At the end of my remarks, I 
have a unanimous consent request.
  If we really want to offer working women solutions for wage 
discrimination, we should instead pass Senator Mikulski's Paycheck 
Fairness Act because today women across the country make just 79 cents 
for every $1 a man makes. This is an issue that Democrats have been 
focused on for years. I am glad at least some Republicans finally 
recognize there is a wage gap problem, and I welcome their support for 
fixing this systemic problem. Unfortunately, the Republican proposal 
that is offered today will not provide the solutions working women 
need.
  Many companies prohibit workers from discussing their pay. So if a 
woman talks with her male colleague about their salary and discovers 
there is a wage gap, her employer could fire her or retaliate in some 
other way. The Republican bill would make it illegal for an employer to 
retaliate against workers for discussing salary but only when those 
conversations are for the express purpose of finding out if the 
employer is providing equal pay for equal work.
  Nonretaliation is only one small part of the wage gap problem. It 
doesn't provide nearly enough protections to actually make a difference 
in closing the pay gap. In today's workplace, many workers find out 
about pay discrimination by accident. Maybe they see a spreadsheet that 
was left on a copy machine or maybe a male colleague's salary comes up 
in casual conversation, but in these circumstances, any worker who 
attempts to address the problem would have no protections from 
retaliation under this bill. The only way to qualify for these limited 
protections is if a woman uses the magic words that pass a legal test 
when discussing equal pay with her colleagues.
  It is even worse than that. This bill can give workers a false sense 
of security that their conversations about equal pay are protected, 
when instead women can still be reprimanded or, worse, lose their jobs 
altogether for finding out their male colleagues earn more than them. 
So this Republican bill wouldn't even solve the one narrow problem it 
is trying to address.
  Thankfully, we do have a bill that would address the wage gap. It is 
the Paycheck Fairness Act that Senator Mikulski has championed. The 
Paycheck Fairness Act would make it unlawful for employers to retaliate 
against workers for discussing pay, period. It wouldn't involve a 
complicated legal test like the Republican proposal, and the Paycheck 
Fairness Act would help close the wage gap in so many important ways.
  If a woman finds out her male colleagues are paid more for the same 
work, the Paycheck Fairness Act backs her up. It would empower women to 
negotiate for equal pay, it would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, 
and it would create strong incentives for employers to provide equal 
pay.
  I want to make one thing very clear. The Republican bill being 
offered today has zero Democratic cosponsors. It is not bipartisan. By 
contrast, before Republicans politicized equal pay for equal work, the 
Paycheck Fairness Act actually passed the House of Representatives in 
both 2008 and 2009 with bipartisan support. Unfortunately, since then, 
some Republicans have decided to make the wage gap about politics and 
blocked it in the Senate. So today I am glad Republicans do agree with 
us that this is an urgent problem. We need real solutions to address 
it.
  That is why I object to the Fischer bill, and I urge my colleagues to 
support the Paycheck Fairness Act that would tackle pay discrimination 
head-on.
  Therefore, I ask unanimous consent that the HELP Committee be 
discharged from further consideration of S. 862, the Paycheck Fairness 
Act; that the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration; that the 
bill be read a third time and passed; and that the motion to reconsider 
be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action 
or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, reserving the right to object.
  I have heard many times from my friends on the other side of the 
aisle that my proposal doesn't go far enough. Respectfully, I believe 
some of the provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act go too far. I take 
issue with the accusation from those who wrongly assert that my bill 
will make it harder for women to discuss wage discrimination. I 
understand that my nonretaliation language is different from the 
Paycheck Fairness Act, but the intent and the effect are the same. My 
bill will protect women and men from retaliation when they learn about 
or seek out information about how their compensation compares with 
other employees.
  It is clear there is common ground to make progress on equal pay when 
it comes to wage transparency. Every Senate Republican is on board with 
this proposal. It is a needed update to our equal pay laws. In 2014, 
every Senate Democrat welcomed a more limited but similar Executive 
order that was issued by President Obama that pertained only to Federal 
workers.
  My Workplace Advancement Act goes further. It protects all Americans. 
Moreover, it is bipartisan. Five Senate Democrats are already on the 
record in support of this plan. So why do my friends from the other 
side of the aisle not now support my bill?
  Colleagues, this is an issue we can agree on. It is clear my 
legislation enjoys bipartisan support, and it can make meaningful 
progress for American women. While I am disappointed in today's 
objection to my bill, I hope we can move beyond sound bites because 
this issue is too important to politicize year after year.
  The Paycheck Fairness Act that my colleague speaks of will inhibit 
employers' ability to establish merit-based pay systems, and it will 
inhibit employees' ability to negotiate flexible work arrangements.
  The Independent Women's Forum recently conducted a study on what 
matters to women when they choose a job. They found that flexibility 
was a common theme. Whether providing flexible scheduling or offering 
alternatives like telecommuting, women value flexibility, and they 
value it at about the same level as receiving 10 paid vacation and sick 
days or receiving $5,000 to $10,000 in extra income. This is important 
to women. We should be doing it.
  The survey showed what many of us already know. Every situation is 
different, and by providing more options, workers can negotiate work 
arrangements that can suit their own particular needs.
  With these concerns in mind, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Mrs. FISCHER. 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. COONS. 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. COONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to enter into a 
colloquy with the Senators from Minnesota and Connecticut.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                                  Iran

  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, in the months since world powers reached an 
agreement to block Iran's pathway to building a nuclear weapon, Iran's 
behavior has given the international community reasons for both some 
optimism and continuing, serious concern. The positive news has been 
that Iran has taken some real steps to restrain its nuclear programs. 
It has disabled two of its short-term pathways to producing weapons-
grade material by shipping nearly its entire stockpile of enriched 
uranium out of the country and by filling its plutonium reactor with 
concrete.
  Iran has reduced its number of functioning uranium-enrichment 
centrifuges by two-thirds, and the country has provided international 
inspectors 24/7 access to continuously monitor all of Iran's declared 
facilities. These are positive developments. Yet, at the same time, 
Iran continues to engage in deeply concerning activities, such as 
support for terrorism and efforts to foment instability in the Middle 
East, to

[[Page S2014]]

conduct illegal ballistic missile tests, and to continue to violate its 
citizens' most basic human rights.
  Today, my colleagues and I come to the floor to draw attention to 
some of the more grave, more concerning developments of recent weeks. I 
am honored to have the company of my friend, the senior Senator from 
Connecticut, Mr. Blumenthal, who joins me in addressing why Russia's 
refusal to condemn Iran's bad behavior--and, in fact, in some ways 
encouraging it--poses huge security risks for our allies in the Middle 
East.
  I would now like to yield, if I could, to my colleague from 
Connecticut.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I want to express my gratitude to my 
friend from Delaware, who is truly an expert on this issue, as a member 
of the Foreign Relations Committee. He has been a leader in this area, 
and I am delighted and honored to join him on the floor today to 
discuss the ever-evolving and concerning cooperation between Russia and 
Iran, particularly in recent months. He has very eloquently and 
persuasively described a number of the concerns that we share. I want 
to associate myself with what he has said here this afternoon.
  As we all know, Iran has conducted multiple ballistic tests in the 
last several months. That is beyond question. I have continuously 
condemned both Iran's ongoing ballistic program and Iran's failure to 
uphold its international obligations under the U.N. Security Council 
resolutions by calling for sanctions enforcement at the Armed Services 
Committee hearings and in letters to the administration and in public 
statements.
  We have been steadfast in this effort. While the administration has 
heeded my calls by enforcing sanctions against 11 entities and 
individuals supporting Iran's missile program, clearly more must be 
done. The United States and the international community must vigilantly 
enforce sanctions on Iran's ballistic development, as well as its state 
sponsorship of terrorism and human rights violations which continue day 
in and day out.
  These steps must be taken to hold this regime accountable and prevent 
Tehran from believing it can violate international law with impunity. 
Nothing less is at stake here than that principle. Yet Russia has 
refused to punish Iran. As a world power and permanent member of the 
U.N. Security Council, Russia can and must be doing more to counter 
Iran's destructive deeds, including ensuring that Iran abides by U.N. 
Security Council Resolution 2231.
  This resolution calls on Iran ``not to undertake any activity related 
to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear 
weapons, including launches, using ballistic missile technology.'' That 
is a quote. That mandate applies for up to 8 years from the JCPOA's 
adoption day, October 18, 2005.
  In March, one of Iran's defiant tests notoriously involved a missile 
that had a disturbing and alarming message scrawled on the side: 
``Israel must be wiped off the face of the Earth.'' This explicit 
message, by the way, written not only in Persian but in Hebrew, was 
designed to directly threaten Israel. That is hardly speculation.
  It should not be tolerated by any Nation. Even worse than Russia's 
refusal to condemn Iran's ballistic missile tests, is that Russia has 
essentially rewarded Iran for its bad behavior by continuing--even 
increasing--its cooperation with Iran through military deals.
  In February, Iran's Defense Minister visited Moscow to discuss 
purchasing an array of weapons. Any sale of major combat systems to 
Iran in the next 5 years would require approval by the U.N. Security 
Council under Resolution 2231. But the United States has made it clear 
that such a sale will not be supported. Therefore, it will not be 
approved by the U.N. Security Council.
  Media reports in recent weeks have highlighted Russia's shipment of 
parts of an S-300 air defense system to Iran. In addition, Russia and 
Iran are supposedly in talks over Sukhoi fighter jets. If such sales 
are finalized and the systems are delivered, Russia would be directly 
defying U.N. Resolution 2231.
  Supplying weapons to Iran is particularly dangerous and potentially 
damaging because it is not done in a vacuum. Russia's growing 
partnership has far-reaching ramifications because Hezbollah, Iran's 
terrorist proxy in Lebanon, also benefits, at least indirectly, from 
Russian arms and military operational experience in Syria.
  The flow of support from Russia to Iran to Hezbollah feeds into yet 
another threat that deeply concerns me and our greatest ally in the 
Middle East and one of our greatest in the world, Israel. Coupled with 
continued chaos in the region, the Russian-Iranian cooperation, which 
strengthens Hezbollah, only adds to the urgency and importance of 
ensuring that Israel remains secure, stable, and independent.
  Last November, Senator Bennet and I co-led a letter to the President 
concerning the need to renew the memorandum of understanding on U.S. 
military assistance--the MOU, as it is known--with Israel to help that 
nation prepare for, respond to, and defend against threats in an 
uncertain regional environment and to ensure its qualitative military 
edge. There is nothing original or novel about that policy or 
principle.
  The current MOU provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel through 
fiscal year 2018. As threats in the region continue to evolve, 
including Iran's malign influence, reinforced and enabled by Russia, 
the administration must engage at the highest levels to continue to 
develop a shared understanding of threats confronting Israel by 
strengthening the MOU that serves as the foundation of our bilateral 
security efforts. Those efforts support not only Israel, they are in 
the national interests of the United States of America. Indeed, they 
are essential to our national interests in the region and in the world.
  While negotiations remain ongoing between the United States and 
Israel regarding the historic renewal of the MOU, I want to express 
that I continue to support making the MOU a truly transformational 
investment to deepen the U.S.-Israel strategic partnership. It is based 
on a shared understanding of the environment that confronts Israel and 
the United States together. Russia is only exacerbating the threats in 
the region to our partnership--the United States and Israel--as well as 
to each of our nations.
  The Russian-Iranian cooperation legitimizes and strengthens Tehran's 
adventurism, as well as the Assad regime in Syria, and threatens 
international security. Moscow's affair with Tehran and beyond has 
brought Russian military might to a network of terrorism that we must 
continue to monitor closely and work to combat for the safety and 
security of the United States. It is our security and it is Israel's 
security that is at stake, and the entire international community's 
security.
  I again thank my colleague from Delaware for giving me this time and 
his patience in hearing me out. I look forward to working with him and 
other colleagues who are concerned about the Russian-Iranian 
cooperation. They are certainly deeply concerning. I thank him again 
for his leadership and vision on this topic.
  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Connecticut--who 
has been determined, engaged, and thoughtful--for his wise words today 
and for his persistence and his efforts in making sure that our 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle are aware of alarming 
developments in the region and continuing to do everything we can in a 
responsible and bipartisan way to support Israel's security through the 
MOU, which he has referenced and on which he led a letter about the 
importance of a prompt and supportive renegotiation of that MOU, and 
calling attention to Russia's destabilizing actions.
  As Senator Blumenthal just referenced, recent reports convey that 
Iran is reporting that Russia has already delivered parts of this S-300 
weapons system--a defense system, they claim, but a weapons system that 
would significantly change the regional balance of power.
  I again thank my colleague from Connecticut for being shoulder-to-
shoulder with me on the floor today and in the months and years behind 
us and the months and years ahead of us because it will be a 
longstanding challenge to keep the Members of this body and folks in 
Washington focused on the very real threat to America's security and 
Israel's security that is presented by Iran and its actions.

[[Page S2015]]

  As Senator Blumenthal mentioned, when it comes to countering Iranian 
aggression in the Middle East, a number of Russia's recent actions do 
threaten to do more harm than good.
  Last summer, when the United States came together with the United 
Kingdom, France, Germany, and Russia to reach an agreement with Iran to 
block their pathway to build a nuclear weapon, the international 
community was clear that the success of this deal relied on every 
signatory keeping its word and doing its part to prevent Iran from 
violating the deal.
  The responsibility to enforce the terms of the JCPOA goes hand-in-
hand with an understanding that world powers must also push back on 
Iran's bad behavior outside the four corners of this agreement--
specifically, its support for terrorism, its continued illegal 
ballistic missile tests, and its human rights violations.
  Despite its participation in the negotiations that led to the 
agreement, Russia reportedly plans to sell missile systems to the 
still-dangerous Iranian regime, as well as--as referenced by Senator 
Blumenthal--advanced fighter jets. Russia also continues to block the 
U.N. Security Council from taking action--necessary and responsible 
action--after Iran's recent illegal missile tests, which contravene its 
commitments under U.N. Security Council resolution 2231.
  Despite the divisions that have brought Congress to a standstill in 
recent years, I am confident that we all agree on one thing: that Iran 
must not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. I continue to believe 
the JCPOA represents the least bad option for blocking Iran's pathway 
to a nuclear bomb.
  In recent months, as I have said, Russia has repeatedly undermined 
the spirit of that agreement, using the JCPOA as an excuse to proceed 
with dangerous and provocative sales of allegedly defensive equipment 
to Iran. According to news reports, as I said, Russia has begun 
delivering parts of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran. 
Although it is unclear how much of that system has already been 
delivered, the five S-300 systems Russia has promised to Iran would 
contain 40 launchers, which could shoot down missiles or aircraft as 
far as 90 miles away. One version of the S-300 currently in use by the 
Russian military can travel nearly 250 miles at five times the speed of 
sound. In a worst-case scenario, if Iran backs out of the nuclear deal, 
this S-300 system would substantially limit the international 
community's options to act to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear 
weapon.
  That is not all, though. Recent news reports indicate Russia and Iran 
are actively negotiating an agreement to allow Iran to purchase an 
unknown number of Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets--similar to the one 
pictured here--some of the most advanced fighter jets available in the 
world. Although it is unclear what specific version of this aircraft 
Iran is seeking to obtain, these advanced weapons would significantly 
enhance the capabilities of Iran's Air Force.
  Currently, Iran fields an outdated mix of antiquated Russian, Iraqi, 
American, and Chinese-built aircraft. Many of these planes date from 
the Cold War. One particularly advanced variety of this Russian jet, 
for example, is armed with air-to-air, anti-ship, and land attack 
missiles and bombs--precision munitions that would significantly 
increase the performance capabilities of the Iranian Air Force. They 
could target other fighter aircraft, stationary military facilities, 
and naval vessels. In the hands of Iran, these fighter jets would 
fundamentally change the balance of power in the Middle East and pose a 
threat to U.S. facilities and our local allies.
  More concerning, according to some reports, Iran is seeking not just 
to buy these aircraft but also to license their production in Iran, 
which would greatly strengthen Iran's industrial base and its technical 
knowledge. It would also leave the international community with even 
fewer options to prevent Iranian access to this technology in the 
future.
  At a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Tom Shannon, 
the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, said the United 
States would ``block the approval of fighter'' aircraft sales from 
Russia to Iran. I urge the Obama administration to use all diplomatic 
measures available to it to ensure that we fulfill Under Secretary 
Shannon's commitment.
  As my colleagues know, Iran could use these weapons to threaten U.S. 
assets in the Persian Gulf region, challenge the safety of our vital 
ally Israel and other close partners, or to protect illicit nuclear 
sites within Iran's borders. These threats are not just hypothetical. 
Iran remains a rogue and unpredictable regime that supports terrorism 
in the region and is publically committed to the destruction of valley.
  The international community cannot stand by while Iran continues to 
threaten our allies and destabilize the Middle East. Its illegal 
ballistic missile tests in March served as yet another example that the 
Iranian regime is not a responsible member of the international 
community. These tests help Iran to further develop missiles capable of 
reaching most of the Middle East and even parts of Europe, and they 
destabilize the region and belie Iran's supposedly peaceful intentions, 
stated often by both its President and Foreign Minister. They claim 
Iran's intentions are to serve as a responsible member of the 
international community, but these provocative missile tests clearly 
contradict their commitments under U.N. Security Council resolution 
2231 and demand a response.
  Last week I met with Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Ambassador to the 
United Nations. While Ambassador Churkin reiterated Russia's commitment 
to the JCPOA and our shared goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a 
nuclear weapon, I left our conversation convinced that Russia will 
continue to stand in the way of the international community's efforts 
to penalize Iran for its ballistic missile tests.
  Russia's military sales to Iran and intransigence at the U.N. 
Security Council are disappointing, to say the least, in light of 
Russia's agreement to the terms of this nuclear deal and the importance 
of all of us working together in the international community to 
constrain Iran's bad behavior.
  The challenge for American diplomacy is to convince Russia that its 
military sales to Iran, its refusal to engage in multilateral action to 
punish Iranian ballistic missile tests, and its hesitancy to sanction 
Iran for supporting terrorist groups harm not only American interests 
but Russian interests as well.
  Enabling Iran to strengthen its military capabilities makes it easier 
for Iran in the future to one day return to an effort to develop a 
nuclear weapon. Ballistic missile tests foment instability in the whole 
Persian Gulf and southern Europe, both of which lie close to Russia. As 
we have tragically seen in recent weeks, the scourge of modern 
terrorism does not abide by international borders and poses a real 
threat to Russia as well.
  In the coming months and years, the United States must continue to 
pursue action at the Security Council and work with our European allies 
to punish Iran for its bad behavior.
  With that, I yield to my friend the senior Senator from Minnesota, 
who has just joined me for the colloquy. Senator Klobuchar has joined 
me to talk about the importance of continuing to work to hold Iran 
accountable under the JCPOA, to urge a need to confirm senior national 
security nominees, and the imperative to support our regional partners, 
especially of our ally Israel.
  Senator Klobuchar.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I thank Senator Coons for his work. As 
he stated, Russia's actions are very harmful in the effort to bring 
peace in the Middle East. Russia reportedly plans to sell advanced 
aircraft and missile systems to Iran, as Senator Coons noted, and may 
begin making these shipments in the next few days. These weapons could 
be used to destabilize the region and threaten the security of our 
allies, especially Israel.
  Russia also continues to block the U.N. Security Council from taking 
action in response to Iran's recent illegal missile tests. These 
actions can only embolden Iran and encourage Iran to disregard its 
commitment.
  Russia, as a JCPOA country, a world power, and a member of the U.N. 
Security Council, needs to be convinced that it is in its best 
interests and in

[[Page S2016]]

the interests of the international community that Iran stick to its 
commitments under the JCPOA. I thank Senator Coons for making those 
points.
  As he noted, I also stress the need to enforce Iran's commitments 
under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and also to confirm 
nominees for positions vital to national security and to support our 
allies in the Mid East. Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon 
is one of the most important objectives of our national security 
policy.
  I strongly advocated for and supported the economic sanctions that 
brought Iran to the negotiating table over the last few years. Those 
sanctions resulted in a nuclear nonproliferation agreement between Iran 
and the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and 
China that was implemented in January. But our work is clearly not 
done. As we have seen over the past few months, Iran continues to 
conduct ballistic missile tests and continues to support terrorism and 
threatening regional stability. Now we are reading news reports, as I 
noted, that Russia is selling a long-range surface-to-air missile 
defense system to Iran.
  All of this means we have to remain vigilant in our monitoring and in 
our verification. That is why I sponsored the Iran Policy Oversight Act 
and encourage my colleagues to pass it. The bill does three important 
things to hold Iran accountable. First, it allows Congress to more 
quickly impose economic sanctions against Iran's terrorist activity. 
Second, the bill expands military aid to Israel. Third, the bill 
ensures that agencies charged with monitoring Iran have the resources 
they need.
  We also have to reauthorize the Iran Sanctions Act in order to ensure 
that we can hold Iran accountable if it violates the deal. The Iran 
Sanctions Act is up for reauthorization this December and has been a 
pivotal component of U.S. sanctions against Iran's energy sector, and 
its application has been steadily expanded to other Iranian 
industries. Given Iran's history, we can anticipate that it will 
continue to test the boundaries of international agreements, and we 
have to be ready to respond when it does so.

  In summary, we must hold Iran accountable every step of the way. 
Imposing harsh sanctions, as the administration must do, against those 
responsible for Iran's ballistic missile program, which threatened 
regional and global security, is, of course, a good start, but we must 
continue to sanction Iran's ballistic missile program as well as its 
sponsorship of terrorism and abuse of human rights.
  Any person or business involved in helping Iran obtain illicit 
weapons should be banned from doing business with the United States, 
have their assets and financial operations immediately frozen, and have 
their travel restricted. Minimizing the threat Iran poses also means 
working to ensure that the money flowing into Iran now that nuclear 
sanctions are lifted is not used to further destabilize the region and 
spread terrorism. We must monitor the flow of terrorist financing and 
use every tool available to punish bad actors who seek to do harm. But 
it is also important for Iran to understand that we will not hesitate 
to snap back sanctions if Iran fails to comply its commitments under 
the JCPOA. Sanctions were effective at getting Iran to the table and 
they will continue to be a tool that allows the United States and our 
allies to minimize the threat posed by Iran.
  We must also continue to work with our partners, including the United 
Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, and Russia to ensure that 
the agreement is strictly enforced. Iran must know that if it violates 
the rules, the response will be certain, swift, and severe. As Senator 
Coons mentioned, when the agreement was reached, its success is 
ultimately dependent upon every country keeping its word to keep Iran 
from violating its commitments under the agreement. We need the support 
of the international community to ensure that Iran sticks to its 
commitments. As we just heard from Senator Coons, Russia's actions are 
harmful to this effort.
  Russia reportedly plans to sell advanced aircraft and missile systems 
to Iran and may begin making these shipments in the next few days. 
These weapons could be used to destabilize the region and threaten the 
security of our allies, especially Israel. Russia also continues to 
block the U.N. Security Council from taking action in response to 
Iran's recent illegal missile tests. These actions can only embolden 
Iran and encourage Iran to disregard its commitments. Russia, as a 
JCPOA country, a world power, and a member of the U.N. Security 
Council, needs to be convinced that it is in the best interest of the 
international community that Iran sticks to its commitments under the 
JCPOA.
  We also need to make sure that we fill vacant frontline positions 
that hamper our ability to protect our country and work with our 
allies. While I was pleased that the Senate Banking Committee voted 14-
8 last month to approve the nomination of Adam Szubin as undersecretary 
for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Department of Treasury, 
the fact remains that it should not have taken 325 days for the 
committee to vote. This position is essential to national security as 
it tracks the source of terrorist funding around the world and should 
be filled as soon as possible.
  We cannot delay confirmations if the reasoning has nothing to do with 
policy and everything to do with politics. Senator Shaheen came to the 
floor several times to call for swift action on his confirmation, and I 
join her to urge my Senate colleagues to vote on his confirmation as 
soon as possible. Our allies and our enemies need to see a united and 
functional American frontline. And in order to hold Iran accountable, 
we have to have these positions filled. It is that simple.
  The United States needs to limit Iran's destabilizing activity in the 
region. We need to give our allies in the region the support they need. 
As the Administration negotiates a new Memorandum of Understanding for 
security assistance to Israel, I, along with many of my colleagues, 
support a substantially enhanced agreement to help provide Israel the 
resources it requires to defend itself and preserve its qualitative 
military edge. Israel remains America's strongest ally in this troubled 
region. A strong and secure Israel remains a central pillar of our 
national strategy to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East.
  Those of us who supported the Iran nuclear agreement have a special 
responsibility to ensure that it works. In fact, this whole Senate has 
a responsibility, regardless of whether Members supported it or not. It 
is in the best interest of our country. We cannot shirk from our duties 
and we must be vigilant. We owe it to the American people, to Israel, 
and to our allies.
  Our mission here is clear: We must protect our own citizens by 
exercising our authority to enact strong legislation to ensure that 
Iran does not cheat on its international commitments. Because we know 
from experience that Iran will test the international community, we 
must be ready to respond when it does. We must also minimize the threat 
Iran poses to our citizens and the world by doing everything in our 
power to stop Iran from funding the world's terrorists.
  It is critical that we take additional steps to stop countries like 
Iran from funding terrorism and destabilizing the world. Stopping 
Iran's support of terrorism protects us here at home, but it also helps 
millions of refugees fleeing Syria, the children that are starving in 
cities like Madaya, and the families fleeing mortar fire in Yemen. Our 
values of justice, democracy, and freedom for all demand nothing less.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I want to thank Senators Klobuchar and 
Blumenthal for joining me in this colloquy, and I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tillis). The majority leader.


                  Unanimous Consent Agreement--S. 2012

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that at a time 
to be determined by the majority leader, in consultation with the 
Democratic leader, the Senate proceed to the consideration of S. 2012 
and that it be in order to call up the following amendments en bloc, 
and that the amendments be called up and reported by number: amendments 
Nos. 3276, Cantwell, striking certain provisions; 3302, as modified, 
Klobuchar, modifying a provision; 3055, Flake; 3050, Flake; 3237, 
Hatch; 3308, Murkowski; 3286, as

[[Page S2017]]

modified, Heller; 3075, Vitter; 3168, Portman-Shaheen; 3292, as 
modified, Shaheen; 3155, Heinrich; 3270, Manchin; 3313, as modified, 
Cantwell; 3214, Cantwell; 3266, Vitter; 3310, Sullivan; 3317, Heinrich; 
3265, as modified, Vitter; 3012, Kaine; 3290, Alexander-Merkley; 3004, 
Gillibrand-Cassidy; 3233, as modified, Warner; 3239, Thune; 3221, 
Udall-Portman; 3203, Coons; 3309, as modified, Portman; 3229, Flake; 
3251, Inhofe.
  I ask consent that immediately following the reporting of the 
amendments, it be in order for the Senate to vote on these amendments 
en bloc, as well as the Murkowski amendment No. 2963, with no 
intervening action or debate; further, that it be in order to call up 
the following amendments en bloc and that the amendments be called up 
and reported by number: amendments Nos. 3234, as modified, Murkowski-
Cantwell; 3202, Isakson-Bennet; 3175, Burr; 3210, Lankford; 3311, 
Boozman; 3312, Udall; 3787, Paul; that there be 2 hours of debate, 
equally divided in the usual form, on the amendments concurrently; that 
no further amendments to these amendments be in order; and that 
following the use or yielding back of that time, the Senate vote on the 
amendments in the order listed, with a 60-affirmative-vote threshold 
for adoption of each of the amendments with no intervening action or 
debate; further, that following the disposition of the Paul amendment 
No. 3787, the Senate vote on the Cassidy amendment No. 2954, with a 60-
vote-affirmative threshold for adoption; that following the disposition 
of the Cassidy amendment, the substitute amendment No. 2953, as 
amended, be agreed to, and that notwithstanding rule XXII, the Senate 
vote on the motion to invoke cloture, upon reconsideration, on S. 2012, 
as amended; that if cloture is invoked, all postcloture time be yielded 
back, the bill be read a third time, and the Senate vote on passage of 
S. 2012, as amended; finally, that budget points of order not be barred 
by virtue of this agreement.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. To clarify, amendments Nos. 3055 by Flake and 
3229 by Flake.
  The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I want to take a moment here to 
congratulate Chairman Murkowski for what could best be described as a 
long march. Her persistence and determination to pull this very 
important bill together with a lot of Senators with different views at 
points along the way has been a really extraordinary accomplishment 
and, frankly, has been fun to watch because she certainly knows how to 
manage a bill, how to get to a conclusion, and she did that in an 
extraordinary fashion.
  I also want to thank Senator Cantwell, her ranking member. The two of 
them worked well together, and I think we are on the cusp here of 
something very important and very much worth doing for the American 
people.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The minority leader.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I am very happy we are at this point. This 
legislation has taken 3 years. It has been hard to get to where we are 
today. We can go back to a lot of hurdles that we have had to jump to 
get to where we are now, and we can affix blame to a lot of different 
people, but there is no need to do that today. We are where we are, and 
we should accept that with glee.
  I am gratified we are able to reach this agreement, and that is an 
understatement. It is an important piece of legislation. Is it perfect? 
Of course not. But nothing we do legislatively is. We are trying to 
work things out through compromise. This is a good opportunity for us 
to show we can do that.
  We have tried to move this legislation for 3 years, and I really 
appreciate the patience of Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire. She has 
worked on this and has been so disappointed so many times. I hope she 
feels as good as the rest of us.
  I also want to thank the ranking member of the Energy Committee. She 
has had other responsibilities before, but those of us who have worked 
with Senator Cantwell know how persistent she can be. She is tireless 
in advocating for what she thinks is appropriate. So I appreciate what 
she has done in the last few days to get us to this point.
  I am grateful that we are done with this and that we are going to 
finish this bill. We will have to work it out timewise. It will not be 
the easiest thing, but we should be able to do that. We have other 
things we need to do. We have an appropriations bill coming up. We are 
going to finish with the FAA, I hope, pretty soon. I hope nobody is 
going to be demanding a lot of postcloture time on that.
  So I would hope, Mr. President, we can use this as a pattern for what 
we can do in the future to get things done for the American people.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I would like to acknowledge and thank 
the majority leader and the minority leader for their cooperation and 
their help in getting us here and specifically recognize the good work 
of Senator Cantwell. You do not get to a point in this body with 
significant legislation if you don't have a willing partner on the 
other side.
  We have not taken up energy reform or any real energy legislation in 
over 8 years now, and in those intervening 8 years, much has happened 
in the energy space. Our policies as they relate to energy, whether it 
is LNG exports or renewables, haven't advanced. And the commitment that 
Senator Cantwell and I made to one another over a year ago to try to 
move legislation--not just to move messages but to move legislation--
was a commitment that held us through a lot of hearings, a lot of 
discussion, a lot of debate going back and forth, but to the point 
where we are today with an agreement to move forward to final passage 
on a very significant energy bill for the country.
  So I thank Senator Cantwell, and I would also like to recognize her 
staff, led by Angela Becker-Dippmann, and my energy team, led by Colin 
Hayes, who have put in yeoman's work to get us to this point.
  I would like to think we could kick this whole thing out tonight, but 
we are not going to be doing that. We do, however, have the glidepath 
forward, and I thank not only those on our respective teams but also 
those here on the floor who have helped us with this as well.
  With that, 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. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


    Congratulating the University of North Dakota Men's Hockey Team

  Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I rise to talk about the University of 
North Dakota men's hockey team, which won a national championship last 
Saturday. Undoubtedly, like everybody else, the Presiding Officer was 
glued to his TV set watching the exciting game between the University 
of North Dakota men's hockey team and Quinnipiac. The UND hockey team 
prevailed 5 to 1 in an exciting game in front of about 20,000 fans. It 
was just fantastic.


 =========================== NOTE =========================== 

  
  On page S2017, April 13, 2016, in the middle of the third 
column, the following language appears:CONGRATULATING THE 
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA MEN'S HOCKEY TEAM Mr. HELLER. Mr. 
President, . . .
  
  The online Record has been corrected to read: CONGRATULATING THE 
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA MEN'S HOCKEY TEAM Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. 
President, . . .


 ========================= END NOTE ========================= 

  So I am here to read a resolution into the record from the United 
States Senate congratulating the University of North Dakota men's 
hockey team for winning the 2016 National Collegiate Athletic 
Association's Division I Men's Hockey Championship.

       Whereas the University of North Dakota (referred to in this 
     preamble as ``UND'') Men's Hockey Team won the 2016 National 
     Collegiate Athletic Association (referred to in this preamble 
     as the ``NCAA'') Division I Men's Hockey Championship Game in 
     Tampa, Florida, on April 9, 2016, in a hard fought victory 
     over the Quinnipiac University Bobcats of Connecticut by a 
     score of 5 to 1;
       Whereas the UND men's hockey team and Coach Brad Berry had 
     an incredible 2015-16 season and became the first head coach 
     to win the National Championship in his first season as head 
     coach;
       Whereas UND has won its eighth NCAA Frozen Four 
     Championship--

  Second only to Michigan. Michigan has won nine. We hope to remedy 
that next year and get our ninth, and then pass by the University of 
Michigan--

     ending the season with a 34-6-4 record;
       Whereas Coach Berry and his staff have instilled character 
     and perseverance in the UND players and have done an 
     outstanding job with the UND hockey program;
       Whereas the leadership of Interim President Ed Schafer and 
     Athletic Director Brian Faison has helped further both 
     academic and athletic excellence at UND;

[[Page S2018]]

       Whereas thousands of UND fans attended the championship 
     game, reflecting the tremendous fan base of the University of 
     North Dakota that showcases the spirit and dedication of UND 
     hockey fans, which has helped propel the team's success; and
       Whereas the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four Division I Hockey 
     Championship was a victory not only for the UND men's hockey 
     team, but also for the entire State of North Dakota--

  We take great pride in our hockey and our tremendous UND hockey 
team--

       Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the Senate--
       (1) congratulates the University of North Dakota men's 
     hockey team, the 2016 National Collegiate Athletic 
     Association Division I Men's Hockey champions;
       (2) commends the University of North Dakota players, 
     coaches, and staff for their hard work and dedication; and
       (3) recognizes the students, alumni, and loyal fans for 
     supporting the UND men's hockey team on their successful 
     quest to capture another NCAA National Championship trophy 
     for the University of North Dakota.

  We are very proud of our university, of the leadership there at the 
university, of the coaches, the staff, and these tremendous student 
athletes. They conducted themselves so well both on and off the ice. 
They had an absolutely impressive run through the postseason.
  I think Quinnipiac only lost about three games all year, so they had 
an incredible record. They were rated No. 1 in the country. Our hockey 
team came in and played a fantastic game. It was an exciting game to 
watch, but on both sides tremendous athletes. Congratulations to 
Quinnipiac on a great year and on an outstanding program.
  We played Denver in the semifinals. They also had a great year. 
Boston College was in the other bracket. They were outstanding hockey 
programs. It was a great hockey tournament. There was a fantastic fan 
base from all the schools. Again, back to the quality of the athletes, 
the student athletes who were competing--great character. They handled 
themselves well and had great sportsmanship. It is exactly the kind of 
thing we like to see not only for our State but the other States that 
were there and the teams that were representing.
  It was a great tournament all around. Also, thanks and 
congratulations to everyone in Tampa for hosting the tournament and 
doing an absolutely fantastic job. We had thousands of fans outside the 
arena after the game savoring the victory and having a great time. The 
city of Tampa and the arena could not have been more hospitable, so we 
want to say thank you and express our appreciation. Again, 
congratulations to a great team on a great year.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 
up to 20 minutes as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                             Climate Change

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, this is the 133rd climate speech that 
I have delivered, and it has been an amazing week. On Saturday, the New 
York Times posted its cover story about dying coral reefs in our 
oceans. On Sunday, the cover story in the Providence Journal was about 
drowning salt marshes in Rhode Island. Both are the handiwork of 
climate change.
  Even more amazing, listen to what a Koch brothers operative said last 
week: ``Charles has said the climate is changing. So, the climate is 
changing.'' That was Sheryl Corrigan speaking, of Koch Industries, the 
massive fuel conglomerate led by Charles and David Koch, and the 
Charles was Charles Koch.
  She went on: ``I think he's also said, and we believe that humans 
have a part in that.''
  Climate change is real, it seems, and manmade if even they say so.
  What this really means is that the denial shtick has collapsed 
entirely. We saw this coming with the oil and gas CEOs. In the runup to 
the Paris climate summit, the chief executive officers of 10 of the 
world's largest oil and gas companies declared their collective support 
for a strong international climate change agreement.
  ``We are committed to playing our part,'' they professed. ``Over the 
coming years we will collectively strengthen our actions and 
investments to contribute to reducing the GHG intensity of the global 
energy mix.''
  So if the oil and gas CEOs will not do it and now even the Koch 
brothers will not do it, it looks like denying climate change is no 
longer acceptable--even to those who most cause it.
  As we know, Big Coal took another path, denying to the end, and for 
many players in the coal industry it really is the end. The industry is 
being devastated by market forces and is in precipitous decline. As I 
noted in my last climate speech, the Wall Street Journal reported that 
the ``war on coal'' was a war on coal by the natural gas industry, and 
the natural gas industry has won.
  Appalachian Power president and CEO Charles Patton told a meeting of 
energy executives last fall that coal was losing a long-term contest 
with natural gas and wind power. Today we learned America's largest 
coal company, Peabody Energy, filed for bankruptcy, as Arch Coal did in 
January.
  In recent years, one report found 26 U.S. coal companies have gone 
into bankruptcy. Some of the most notable bankruptcies include James 
River Coal and Patriot Coal Corporation, which had combined assets that 
totaled $4.6 billion.
  Denial was not a winning strategy for the coal industry. If outright 
denial of manmade climate change is no longer a viable strategy, what 
is left? It is an old classic: Dissembling--saying one thing and doing 
another. The polluters say climate change is real and they say that a 
carbon fee makes sense, but they put their entire massive lobbying and 
political operations to work to prevent Congress from actually 
acknowledging that climate change is real or from working on 
legislation to establish a carbon fee--even a carbon fee that would 
dramatically reduce the corporate income tax rate.
  For example, USA TODAY reported this week that oil titan Chevron has 
pumped at least $1 million into the super PAC set up to keep the Senate 
in the hands of the climate denial party. I don't know of a penny that 
Chevron has put into supporting climate action in Congress. Say one 
thing; do another.
  A new report from the nonprofit research organization Influence Map 
shows that two other major oil companies, along with three of their 
industry trade groups, spend as much as $115 million a year to lobby 
against the very climate policies they publicly claim to support. Say 
one thing, do another.
  This chart shows the streams of money from ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch 
Shell--whose CEO, by the way, signed the oil-and-gas Paris 
declaration--as well as the American Petroleum Institute, the Western 
States Petroleum Association, and the Australian Petroleum Production & 
Exploration Association. That is Shell and that is Exxon.
  This money deluge--total spent, $114 million--includes advertising 
and public relations, direct lobbying here in Congress and at State 
houses, and political contributions and electioneering. Don't think any 
of this goes to support a solution to climate change.
  What this chart doesn't show is the dark money these corporate 
behemoths funnel through phony-baloney front groups, often untraceable, 
to undermine public understanding of the climate crisis and to 
undermine action in Congress. Front groups have been testifying this 
very week in the Environment and Public Works Committee against climate 
action. Was there any pushback from Charles Koch or from the oil CEOs? 
No. Nor does this chart show the undisclosed fossil fuel millions 
dumped into our elections thanks to the regrettable Citizens United 
Supreme Court decision.
  Academic researchers like Robert Brulle at Drexel University, Riley 
Dunlap at Oklahoma State University, Justin Farrell at Yale University, 
and Michael Mann at Penn State University, among many others, have 
studied and are exposing the precise dimensions and functions of the 
corporate climate denial machine. It is quite a piece of machinery. 
Investigative writers like Naomi Oreskes, Erik Conway, Naomi Klein, and 
Steve Coll are also on the hunt.
  Jane Mayer of The New Yorker has put out an important piece of 
legislation--her new, aptly titled book ``Dark Money,'' about the 
secret but massive

[[Page S2019]]

influence-buying of rightwing billionaires led by the infamous Koch 
brothers. Mayer's book catalogs the rise and the expansion into a vast 
array of front groups of this operation and the role in it of two of 
America's more shameless villains Charles and David Koch.
  If you want a little more history on this unholy alliance, you can 
read ``Poison Tea,'' a new book out by Jeff Nesbit. Mr. Nesbit was a 
Republican who worked in the Bush 41 White House. He was there at the 
creation. He has reviewed an enormous array of documents and he has 
written an amazing expose.
  The Koch brothers' say one thing, do another strategy is every bit as 
bad as the say one thing, do another strategy of their oil and gas 
allies. Remember, here is what they now say:

       Charles has said the climate is changing. So, the climate 
     is changing. . . . I think he's also said, and we believe 
     that humans have a part in that.

  Again, that is the Koch Industries' rep.
  Here is what they still do: They threaten that Republicans who 
support a carbon tax or climate regulations would ``be at a severe 
disadvantage in the Republican nomination process. . . . We would 
absolutely make that a crucial issue.''
  That is the President of Americans for Prosperity, the juggernaut of 
the Koch brothers-backed political network, which has promised to 
spend, believe it or not, $750 million just in this 2016 election. What 
on Earth could they possibly want to spend $750 million on?
  Americans for Prosperity's president also takes credit for the 
``political peril'' they are proud to have created for Republicans who 
cross them on climate change. This threat is not subtle. Step out of 
line and here come the attack ads and the primary challengers all 
funded by the deep pockets of the fossil fuel industry, powered up by 
Citizens United.
  The result? The issue of climate change is completely absent from the 
Republican campaigns. They really don't want to talk about it. Every 
Republican candidate has gone into silence or outright denial. Their 
silence or outright denial is exactly paralleled on the floor of this 
body.
  Just this week, a bipartisan effort to extend tax incentives for 
renewable energy fell apart after it was reported that the Kochs and an 
array of their front groups told the Senate majority to cease and 
desist from allowing an extension of renewable tax credits the majority 
had already agreed to.
  So down came the FAA bill compromise. Of course, the Big Oil tax 
credits have been baked into the Tax Code, and there is no contesting 
them that is allowed. We now have a field in which renewable tax 
credits that were agreed to are not in place, but Big Oil protects its 
own tax breaks as the fossil fuel industry attacks the renewable tax 
breaks.
  Look at what fossil fuel influence has done to the business lobby 
groups. The Chamber of Commerce, which is probably more accurately 
defined now as the chamber of carbon, the American Petroleum Institute, 
even the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Federation 
of Independent Business, and the Farm Bureau--Big Oil and the Koch 
brothers have locked them all down. It is a wall of opposition among 
those groups to any sensible conversation about carbon pollution.
  I have spoken before about the well-defended castle of denial 
constructed by the big polluters to attack and harass their opponents 
and to keep out the unwelcome truths of climate science. Built as it is 
on a foundation of lies, the denial castle is bound to crumble. We have 
seen cracks begin to appear in the edifice. This revelation on the part 
of the Koch brothers that they finally see that climate change is real 
and manmade is another collapse. It is a big collapse. But don't 
believe they are surrendering their position entirely. What we see here 
in Congress is that they are still fighting as hard as ever. They are 
just conceding some of their more extreme positions because they know 
some of their nonsense is now simply beyond the pale and is not 
acceptable. This is just a strategic retreat from a preposterous 
stance.
  Every major scientific society in America agrees on the cause and 
urgency of climate change, and, I think, so do every one of our major 
State universities--certainly every one I have looked at--all of our 
National Labs, NASA, NOAA, America's national security and intelligence 
community, and all the corporations that signed the American Business 
Act on Climate Pledge, which includes major corporations from a lot of 
our Republican colleagues' home States. That is a lot of information to 
deny and ignore, and that is an awful lot of legitimate people to claim 
our part of the hoax.
  Here it comes--the whole structure of deceit and denial erected by 
the fossil fuel interest is creaking and crumbling. More than a dozen 
attorneys general are starting to poke and probe. My Republican 
colleagues may want to consider getting out of the way of this because 
the day is coming--and soon--when the whole denier castle collapses, 
and that day cannot come too soon.
  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. INHOFE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          ____________________