(Senate - December 08, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 177 (Thursday, December 8, 2016)]
[Pages S6898-S6907]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                         MINERS PROTECTION ACT

  Mr. President, last night Senator Manchin and I were on the floor of 
the Senate with Senators Wyden and Donnelly and Casey, and we were 
again asking our colleagues to honor the commitment Harry Truman made 
seven decades ago to the mine workers of this country, to the retired 
mine workers, and to their widows. We all know that the life expectancy 
of mine workers is often less than the life expectancy of a teacher or 
an elected official or an insurance agent or someone who works in many 
other kinds of businesses. They are more likely to be injured on the 
job. They are more likely, in some cases, to perish on the job. They 
are more likely to contract an illness from the air they breathe and 
the conditions in the mines, whether it is black lung or whether it is 
some kind of heart disease. So this is particularly important to mine 
workers and the widows, that we take care of their insurance.
  Most of the mine workers I know got a notice in late November or 
early this month saying their insurance would be cut off at the end of 
December. What a Christmas present. We have asked Senator McConnell, 
the Republican leader, who seems to be the only one standing in the 
way, month after month after month to fix this so these widows and 
these retired miners don't get this notice saying: Your insurance will 
be cut off.
  Finally, Senator McConnell, the Republican leader, asked us to make 
it bipartisan. We did. We have a number of Republican cosponsors, 
including Senator Portman from my State, Senator Capito from West 
Virginia, and a number of others. We did that.
  Then Senator McConnell said: Go through regular order; put a bill 
through committee. We did that 18 to 8 in the Senate Finance 
Committee--every Democrat joined by a third or so of the Republicans. 
We did that.
  Then he said: That is not good enough; now we want you to find a way 
to pay for it. We did. No tax dollars involved. This is money in the 
abandoned mine funds assessed against the mine companies, accumulated 
over the years.
  We did all three of those things. Still, Senator McConnell, because 
of his antipathy, apparently, toward the United Mine Workers union--if 
he wants to have antipathy towards the union, if he

[[Page S6899]]

hates unions, that is his business. I would rather he didn't, but that 
is his business. But to stand in the way of these widows and these 
retired mine workers because of his animosity toward the union is 
pretty troubling.
  Last night, Senator Manchin and I, issue after issue after issue, 
continued to object to other generally noncontroversial bills that we 
support--some I cosponsored--until this body does its job. But if this 
Senate doesn't act--it looks like a number of Senators, as House 
Members, apparently have already gone home for Christmas, so I will 
have plenty of colleagues go home and celebrate the holidays. 
Regardless of their faith, they will celebrate the holidays in the 3 
upcoming weeks. But these thousands of mine workers and thousand of 
mine worker retirees and thousands of widows of mine workers--their 
Christmas isn't going to be so good because now--Senator McConnell 
offered a little bit and said: We will give you a 4-month extension. 
But do you know what that means? That means they will get the letter. 
They have already gotten the first letter saying their insurance runs 
out at the end of December. Now they will get a second letter, if we do 
the 4-month extension, in January or February saying: Sorry, it is 
going to run out again in April.
  How would we like to live that way? You are going to have insurance 
until this date, and then we will give you a little extension and you 
can have it until that date. That is simply not fair. Maybe it is OK 
for us because we have good benefits and we have good insurance, but it 
is not OK with them.
  So I am hopeful that Senator McConnell and Republican leaders will 
bring this to the floor, will support a 1-year--we want more. We would 
like to see the pension problem fixed too. But before the holidays, 
let's do a 1-year extension on the insurance. It is a commitment 
President Truman made and Presidents of both parties for seven decades 
have honored. It is the least we can do. I think we should stay here 
and work up until Christmas if it doesn't happen.
  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. GRAHAM. 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. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to enter into a 
colloquy with Senator McCain when he arrives.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Right on cue, so I will start off here.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for a colloquy 
between myself and the Senator from South Carolina.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Just to make sure.


  Very briefly, I will let Senator McCain lead off, but I want to talk 
about the way forward regarding JASTA.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I would like to join my friend and 
colleague on this issue that is of transcendent importance to America's 
relationship with our friends and allies--literally placing Americans 
and American companies and corporations and governments in great 
danger--particularly governments.
  I would just like to mention in passing, if my colleague will indulge 
me very quickly, because I have here in front of me--and I will ask 
that it be included in the Record--statements from the President of the 
United States, the Director of the CIA, the Chairman of the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense, 
all on this issue we are talking about.
  The leaders of our government, from the President on down, including 
the heads of our most important defense agencies, have expressed--and I 
will quote them in just a minute.
  My friends, Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism 
Act, or JASTA. It was well-intentioned to allow claims against foreign 
governments that might be complicit in terrorist attacks against the 
United States. The spirit behind the legislation is noble. Any foreign 
government behind the attack on our homeland or our citizens must be 
held accountable. But it has become clear that the unintended 
consequences of this legislation are quite grave.
  As it exists now, JASTA presents a significant risk to the United 
States and our military and diplomatic personnel serving across the 
  As it currently exists, as my colleague from South Carolina will 
explain in greater detail, JASTA undermines a fundamental international 
norm of sovereign immunity that protects governments from being sued in 
court except in narrow circumstances. If this law is not narrow--and 
please, my colleagues, understand, the Senator from South Carolina and 
I are not for abolishing this law; we are for putting in a scope that 
protects the United States of America; that is, if we allow our laws to 
target governments indiscriminately, we will expose our country to 
grave risk and undermine our ability to pursue justice in a complex 
  No country in the world stands to lose more from an erosion of these 
legal standards than the United States of America. The United States 
has more bases and more forward-deployed personnel protecting peace and 
security than any other country. JASTA now gives these countries an 
incentive to bring these brave men and women to court to answer for 
U.S. counterterrorism policies.
  If other countries pass similar legislation, it means the United 
States and American soldiers, diplomats, and intelligence officers 
serving in some of the world's most dangerous and difficult countries 
will be forced to justify their actions and defend the policies we have 
made to defend this country before courts that may not share our 
standards of due process and fairness. Our allies will wonder if it is 
wise to join our coalitions to fight terrorism if they, too, will face 
legal liability in courts around the world. Thus, we are faced with the 
twisted irony that the men and women who put themselves in harm's way 
to bring the 9/11 attackers to justice and to defeat those who still 
seek to attack the United States are the people placed directly at risk 
  We must be concerned with the diplomatic and economic fallout of this 
law. Our allies and partners around the world, particularly those who 
struggle with terrorism at home, now wonder when they might be hauled 
in to courts for terrorist actions. They face potential court-ordered 
damages and asset seizures. Their citizens and companies doing business 
in the United States are at risk. It is only reasonable that these 
countries will consider pulling their assets and resources out of the 
United States out of fear.
  In short, JASTA could cause our allies in the fight against terrorism 
to distance themselves from us as a country that most needs their 
support against those who mean to do us harm.
  Now I would like to provide some quotes. Our Nation's top national 
security officials have issued statements and written to Congress to 
warn us about the unintended consequences of JASTA.
  Let's begin with President Obama. I will quote from his letter from 
White House. He wrote:

       JASTA . . . would neither protect Americans from terrorist 
     attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such 
     attacks. Doing so would instead threaten to erode sovereign 
     immunity principles that protect the United States, including 
     our U.S. Armed Forces and other officials, overseas.

  I will admit that Senator Graham and I have a special relationship 
with the men and women who are serving--his 22 years as a member of the 
U.S. Air Force Reserve and every year going to Iraq or Afghanistan; I 
obviously have sons who have served. I don't want to see my sons or 
anybody else's sons in court because they might have violated a 
sovereign nation the way that we are saying JASTA affects our country.

       Enacting JASTA into law, however, would neither protect 
     Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the 
     effectiveness of our response to such attacks. Doing so would 
     instead threaten to erode sovereign immunity principles that 
     protect the United States, including our U.S. Armed Forces 
     and other officials, overseas.

  The Secretary of Defense wrote:

       U.S. Servicemembers stationed here and overseas, and 
     especially those supporting our counterterrorism efforts, 
     would be vulnerable to private individuals' accusations that

[[Page S6900]]

     their activities contributed to acts alleged to violate a 
     foreign state's law.

  He continued to say that, whether guilty or innocent, ``the mere 
allegation of their involvement could subject them to a foreign court's 
jurisdiction and the accompanying litigation and intrusive discovery 
process that goes along with defending against such lawsuits. . . . Our 
servicemembers might be required to testify about or provide documents 
on operations that they are obligated under U.S. law not to disclose, 
exposing them to punishment for contempt by the foreign court, 
including imprisonment.''
  According to the Secretary of Defense, we could be risking 
imprisonment for the men and women who are serving in our military 
  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff--I think we all respect the 
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Here is his view:

       Any legislation that risks reciprocal treatment by foreign 
     governments would increase the vulnerability of U.S. 
     Servicemembers to foreign legal action while acting in an 
     official capacity.
       In those cases . . . the Servicemember could be held in 
     civil, or criminal, contempt should he or she refuse to 
     appear or otherwise comply with the foreign court's orders.

  The Secretary of State, John Kerry, wrote:

       JASTA could encourage foreign courts to exercise 
     jurisdiction over the United States or U.S. officials.

  The same thing.
  The Director of CIA wrote:

       (JASTA) will have grave implications for the national 
     security of the United States. The most damaging consequence 
     would be for those US Government officials who dutifully work 
     overseas on behalf of our country. The principle of sovereign 
     immunity protects US officials every day, and is rooted in 
     reciprocity. If we fail to uphold this standard for other 
     countries, we place our own nation's officials in danger. No 
     country has more to lose from undermining that principle than 
     the United States--and few institutions would be at greater 
     risk than the CIA.

  Which certainly makes sense.
  So here we have the Director of the CIA, the Vice President of the 
United States, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President 
of the United States, the Secretary of Defense--all want us to narrow 
the interpretation of this law. What does it require? Whose word more 
do you want?
  All I am saying is that we need to narrow the law. We must make it 
clear that countries will not be held responsible for rogue actions of 
their citizens. Unless we can show that a nation knowingly assists a 
terrorist group, sovereign nations should not be dragged into our 
  If we don't fix JASTA, our ability to defend ourselves will be 
undermined and the people we ask to go into harm's way on our behalf 
will be placed in jeopardy. America must pursue justice, but in the 
long run, JASTA will make it harder, not easier, to bring terrorists to 
justice and prevent terrorism in the first place.
  We need to fix this law.
  I ask my colleague, let's make it clear, are we asking to have this 
law repealed? Are we asking that people in countries that are 
responsible for acts of terror to be let off the hook? Are we trying to 
say committing acts of terror can be sponsored by any nation and we 
will turn the other way? That is basically the argument that is being 
mounted in sometimes hysterical fashion, and what we are trying to do 
is to ensure that a government must knowingly--maybe not even have done 
it themselves but knowingly. Isn't that the key, particularly coming 
from someone with your background as an officer trained in the Uniform 
Code of Military Justice and the International Rule of Law?
  Mr. GRAHAM. Thank you, Senator McCain. Your overview was excellent 
about the perils we face as a nation if we don't modify the law. I will 
try to give you a couple of minutes of how did we get to here. After 9/
11--the most horrific attack on our homeland, maybe ever, I guess, 
since the Civil War--the bottom line was that we responded as a nation 
in many ways. The 9/11 families have a special place in American 
history and our hearts. They have been pursuing legal claims against 
those responsible for the attack.
  Sovereign immunity is a concept that protects our government and 
every other government from doing business because if you don't have 
the sovereign immunity, you can't function as a government. There are 
waivers to that concept--a tort. If somebody in Saudi Arabia is driving 
a car down the streets of New York and they are working for the Embassy 
and consulate and they hit you, there is a process where you can sue. 
You can sue your own Federal Government--the Federal Tort Claims Act--
if you are injured as a result of being hit by a military vehicle. Even 
though sovereign immunity applies, we waived that to allow citizens who 
have been injured torturously to bring claims in a very controlled 
  The 9/11 families, for well over a decade now, have been pursuing 
nation-states like Saudi Arabia in court, trying to hold them liable 
for the act of terrorism of the 19 hijackers. Under our law, a tort 
does not include acts of international terrorism. I was very open-
minded to say, certainly, that is a tort. If you are injured or killed 
because of an act of international terrorism, you have been harmed, and 
I don't mind holding somebody responsible who caused that harm.
  Now you are getting into the operation of a nation-state. If you 
believe the Saudi Government collaborated with the 19 hijackers and 
they knew or should have known about the attack and assisted in the 
attack, not only should they be held liable in our courts as probably 
an act of war under international law. Unfortunately, the way we have 
structured this law, that requirement does exist.
  Let me give you an example of how that can come back to haunt us. We 
are engaged in a conflict in Syria today. We are training, providing 
weapons, and training a lot of groups inside Syria to destroy ISIL. One 
of those groups is the WPG Kurds. They are literally the cousins of the 
PKK, a terrorist organization inside Turkey. There is friction between 
the Kurds and Syria and the Turkish Government, and it is beginning to 
bubble up.
  We are knowingly providing training to Kurdish elements inside Syria 
for the express purpose of enlisting them in the fight against ISIL. 
What I don't want to have happen is that the CIA officer, the special 
forces soldier, anybody in our government who is working in the 
training, equipping process to be held liable if that training and 
those weapons are used to go into Turkey or some other place where we 
didn't intend for it to happen and didn't know about it.
  As this law is written now, it is my fear the very act of helping 
them do one thing could make you liable for everything they do. We are 
trying to narrow the scope, and we are trying to make sure that 
whatever claim against a foreign government lies for the 9/11 attack, 
that we don't open the door to lawsuits, imprisonment, criminal 
complaints, liability by us as a nation-state for all of the activities 
we are doing throughout the world.
  We are training people in Mosul, in Iraq today. We have been training 
the Iraqi Security Forces. We have been training tribal militia. The 
one thing I don't want to have happen is the people who provide the 
weapons and training--that if a Sunni group, for some reason out of our 
control, goes into a Shiite village and commits a genocide or the 
reverse or we are helping the Shiites and they go on a sectarian binge, 
I don't want us to be held liable unless you can prove that we 
knowingly engaged in the act in question; that it wasn't enough just to 
help the tribal leaders, Sunni tribal leaders, fight Al Qaeda; that if 
they do something outside of what we intended, the only way we can be 
liable and people working for us can be liable is if we knew about it 
and we are involved in it. That is what is missing.
  It may be harder for the lawyers representing the 9/11 families to 
prove the case, but if we don't make the standard as I described, we 
are opening ourselves up as a nation and all of those throughout the 
  Nobody understands the world better than Senator McCain. I promise 
you, we are providing aid and assistance to groups who are very 
questionable at best, but that is the world we live in. The Mideast is 
a complete mess. I don't want my country, our country, and those who 
serve under our flag to ever be hauled into a foreign court because 
they were doing the training and the equipping that our Nation ordered 
them to do, and I don't want us as a nation to be responsible for acts 
we did

[[Page S6901]]

not know about or intend to happen. Just simply helping somebody 
doesn't make you liable for all the things they might do down the road.
  If there is evidence that the Saudi Government knowingly or should 
have known about the attacks of 9/11 and aided that attack, you can 
bring a claim. If it is any less here for the 9/11 attack, then that 
lesser standard would be used against us because countries, as I speak, 
are adopting their version of JASTA. The one thing we don't want to do 
is open up the international legal system to claims against America 
based on what we did here at home and not have thought it through very 
  I would end on this. We all voted for it because we are sympathetic 
to the cause and want to make sure the 9/11 families can proceed in 
court to hold those accountable for the horrific acts against their 
families. I don't think we are helping those families by passing a law 
that is not well thought out and putting other families at risk who are 
in the fight today.
  This is not suing for a war that is over. The damage is done after 
the war. The war on terror is very much alive and well. As far as the 
eye can see, America is going to be involved in equipping, training, 
aiding, and assisting groups. I don't want our country to be held 
liable and the people we ask to do the training and equipping to find 
themselves in a foreign court unless we as a nation knew and intended 
the consequence in question.
  If we don't change this law, we will have not served those in the 
fight very well. We can modify this law in a way to allow claims to go 
forward post-9/11. All of us agreed to a process to allow the 9/11 
families to move forward. I hope all of us can agree, or at least most 
of us, to modify that process to make sure we don't have unintended 
consequences that everybody in the national security infrastructure of 
the United States is telling us we created.
  No Member of the Senate, in wanting to help 9/11 families, I believe, 
wants to expose other families and those who serve this Nation to being 
hauled into foreign courts and being accused of a crime and being sued. 
We have a chance to fix it. I will tell you this. If we don't fix it, 
we are going to regret it because the activities we are engaged in 
today, I am afraid, could be a basis of action against our Nation under 
the law we passed.
  If you did exactly what this law allows in another country and the 
terrorist organization was helped by the United States, even if you 
view them as terrorists, even though we didn't know about what they 
did, we could be liable, and I don't want that.
  Mr. McCain. May I ask my colleague one additional question?
  We have heard from literally every Middle Eastern country on this 
issue. No threats have been made. The conversation between us and 
Ministers of various countries in the Middle East have been of grave 
concern of support for the fundamentals of this law but also a deep 
concern about the ramifications my colleague from South Carolina just 
  Let's for a moment put yourself in their position. You face now the 
possibility of a lawsuit brought against your country because some acts 
of terror have taken place by citizens of your country without your 
knowledge or assistance. You are about to go into court in the United 
States of America, and you have significant assets--and you are the 
lawyer and I am not, but it seems to me the first thing a good lawyer 
is going to want to do is freeze the assets, pending the outcome of the 
suit that is being brought. By the way, I have received no threats in 
our conversations with these countries. Wouldn't anybody in their right 
mind say, Hey, I am not going to risk having my assets frozen there and 
maybe spend years in litigation in the courts.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Yes. I think the foreign policy of nations and the 
willingness to assist us as a nation is very much up in the air if we 
don't somehow modify this law because if you are doing business in the 
United States--let's pick Saudi Arabia. The claims can be brought 
against the Saudi Government. If there is a judgment, those assets can 
be attached and they can be taken. If you are not doing business here, 
you don't have to worry about your assets being taken by a court.
  I want to stress this. There can be a claim, but that claim has to be 
able to prove that the nation-state--example, Saudi Arabia--knew or 
should have known of the attack itself and aided the attack. If you can 
prove that, we not only should allow all lawsuits, we should rethink 
our relationship with Saudi Arabia.
  Here is what the Saudis tell me. If we actually did that, I don't 
blame you for rethinking the relationship with us. What you say is very 
true, Senator McCain. If this law stands in the United States--and this 
is an emotional time in the world. Juries render justice, but 
Mideastern nations are not very popular right now, for sometimes good 
reason. The Saudis are helping people in Yemen. They are helping people 
in Syria. Sometimes they are helping people differently than we are 
helping because they are more worried about Iran than Assad.
  It is a complex world, and I think nation-states are going to be 
reluctant to do business in America if they come from a complex part of 
the world if we don't modify this law because all of their assets are 
subject not only to being confiscated through a court process, it would 
no longer be a safe place to do business.
  I would stress this. The same thing could happen to us in other 
countries. If some groups we are helping in Syria somehow want to take 
on Saudi Arabia because they don't like their government, I don't want 
us to be sued in Saudi court and the American business assets that lie 
in Saudi Arabia be seized or attached if we didn't know the people in 
question were actually going to attack Saudi Arabia and collaborate in 
that attack.
  Mr. McCAIN. I have another scenario--drone strikes. We commit drone 
strikes literally everywhere in the Middle East where we find there are 
terrorists who are capable of mounting attacks on the United States of 
America. They are precision strikes, but on many occasions, civilians, 
as collateral damage, have also been killed. Those are just facts.
  What exposure are we subject to now?
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, that is a really good question because the 
purpose of this legislation is to hold nation-states responsible for 
aiding terrorist organizations. The YPG Kurds, in the eyes of Turkey, 
could be a terrorist group. Al Qaeda is certainly considered a 
terrorist group in the eyes of everybody. We are now chasing terrorists 
all over the world. We are receiving information from one organization, 
taking that information, militarizing it, using it in a lethal fashion, 
and hitting people we don't intend to hit.
  Here is what would solve this problem. For a liability to exist on 
any nation-state, including the United States, the only time you can be 
sued is if you intended and knowingly engaged in the activity, 
partnering with a terrorist group or separately, with the knowledge 
that you meant for this to happen. If we don't have that knowing 
requirement, we are going to open ourselves up to a lot of heartache 
throughout the world.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, isn't it logical to say that you shouldn't 
hold a government of a country liable if something happened by attack 
from their country or by one of their citizens that we didn't know 
about? I mean, this is why I am confused as to why that just doesn't 
have a logical aspect to it. We don't want to hold people who are not 
guilty liable for damages.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, this is a really good question. One of the 
concepts we want to introduce into the new modification is 
discretionary decisions by nation-states. The original bill said you 
couldn't sue based on a discretionary decision--a planning activity, a 
strategic decision. Apparently, there is some evidence that lower-level 
Saudi officials or people in Saudi Arabia provided some money, helped 
people get passports, helped people do this, helped people do that. We 
don't want to be held liable if we have a rogue employee in a consulate 
somewhere. It has to be that the nation-state at the highest level of 
government--to be liable for the torturous act--knew or should have 
known. If we don't want to be guilty by association, you don't want to 
be held liable as an entire nation-state because you have one part of 
the government doing a function that was not approved by the government 
as a whole.
  All I can say is we are making strategic decisions today. I don't 
know how

[[Page S6902]]

much money we have given to the Kurds and other allies in Syria 
fighting ISIL, but I can tell you some of these groups in the eyes of 
other people in the region are terrorists, and they have an agenda 
outside of fighting ISIL. I don't want to be liable because we helped 
them in the cause of fighting ISIL if they go and do something else to 
harm somebody else, some other nation, unless we knew about it, because 
it will stop our ability to have partners. Unfortunately, in the war on 
terror, you are not going to win the war if you don't make alliances, 
and sometimes these alliances are with pretty unsavory people.
  Saudi Arabia is in the same position we are. If you open the 
floodgates and the United States is liable because of the activity that 
occurred, people from your country are involved, but you don't have the 
requirement of saying you knew about it and you wanted it to happen. 
Then we are opening ourselves up to a liability all over the globe 
because, unlike Saudi Arabia, we are all over the place. We are 
everywhere--in the Philippines. I can't think of a region in the world 
where there are not American operatives, intelligence officials, or 
military officials who are not somehow joined in the fight against 
different forms of terrorism, and all I am asking is that we modify 
this law. You can bring a claim against anybody you think caused 9/11, 
including a country like Saudi Arabia, but you have to prove that the 
government knew about it, should have known about it, and aided in the 
actual act. That is not in the law, and if we don't put that in the 
law, it will bite us all, and everybody fighting this war is trying to 
tell us we have gone too far.
  Next year Senator McCain, Senator Graham, and hopefully others, will 
make it a top priority to modify this law so we can conduct foreign 
policy as a nation and not put our warfighters at risk and those we 
rely upon to win this war, because we are not helping the 9/11 families 
by putting people at risk for no good reason who are out there all over 
the world trying to protect us. That is exactly what we have done if we 
don't modify this law.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, this is not the opinion of the Senator 
from South Carolina and myself. This is the opinion of the President of 
the United States. This is the opinion of the Secretary of Defense. 
This is the opinion of the Secretary of State. This is the opinion of 
the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. This is the opinion of 
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  I have had a lot of support in my time on various issues. I cannot 
remember a time in the last 30 years where literally every leader in 
government has come out in the strongest possible fashion not to do 
away with JASTA but to fix it so the United States of America itself is 
not put in jeopardy as other nations adopt this same law.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the letters from the 
President of the United States, the Secretary of State of the United 
States, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of 
Defense be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                              The White House,

     Hon. Harry Reid,
     Minority Leader, U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Reid: Thank you for speaking with me about the 
     Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA. As I 
     noted in my message vetoing the bill and reiterated on our 
     call yesterday, I strongly believe that enacting JASTA into 
     law would be detrimental to U.S. national interests.
       I am firmly committed to assisting the families of the 
     victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11. 2001 (9/11) 
     in their pursuit of justice. Over the last eight years, my 
     Administration has continued and expanded upon the U.S. 
     Government's unprecedented response to the 9/11 attacks. We 
     have relentlessly pursued al-Qa'ida, killed Osama bin Laden, 
     supported and signed legislation that provides treatment for 
     first responders and other survivors, and declassified 
     additional information on the attacks so the families of 9/11 
     victims can better understand the information investigators 
     gathered following that dark day.
       Enacting JASTA into law, however, would neither protect 
     Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the 
     effectiveness of our response to such attacks. Doing so would 
     instead threaten to erode sovereign immunity principles that 
     protect the United States, including our U.S. Armed Forces 
     and other officials, overseas. This is why I vetoed the bill 
     and why I believe you should vote to sustain that veto.
       In general, JASTA would allow lawsuits in U.S. Federal 
     Courts against foreign countries for actions taken abroad 
     that are alleged to have contributed to acts of terrorism in 
     the United States, notwithstanding long-standing principles 
     of sovereign immunity. We already have ways of addressing 
     state-sponsored terrorism. In fact, under existing law, 
     lawsuits may be brought for actions taken abroad that 
     contribute to acts of terrorism only against countries that 
     have been designated as state sponsors of terrorism. Under 
     JASTA, this very limited class of potential foreign state 
     defendants would be expanded to encompass every country in 
     the world. JASTA therefore threatens to upset immunity 
     protections that benefit the United States more than any 
     other Nation.
       The consequences of JASTA could be devastating to the 
     Department of Defense and its Service members--and there is 
     no doubt that the consequences could be equally significant 
     for our foreign affairs and intelligence communities, as well 
     as others who work in furtherance of U.S. national security. 
     The United States relies on principles of immunity to prevent 
     foreign litigants and foreign courts from second-guessing our 
     counterterrorism operations and other actions that we take 
     every day. Other countries could attempt to use JASTA, 
     however, to justify the creation of similar exceptions to 
     immunity targeted against U.S. policies and activities that 
     they oppose. As a result our Nation and its Armed Forces, 
     State Department, intelligence officials, and others may find 
     themselves subject to lawsuits in foreign courts--for 
     example, Service members stationed here and overseas, 
     including those supporting our counterterrorism efforts, 
     would be vulnerable to accusations that their activities 
     contributed to acts that allegedly violated foreign laws. 
     Without immunity, we could be forced to defend ourselves in 
     foreign courts regardless of whether the United States or its 
     officials had in fact provided support for terrorist acts or 
     committed acts in violation of foreign laws. Such lawsuits 
     could subject the United States and its officials to 
     intrusive and time-consuming discovery, including demands 
     from foreign litigants and courts for sensitive U.S. 
     Government information or intelligence. Such lawsuits could 
     also lead to sizeable money damages and efforts to attach 
     U.S. Government property to satisfy those judgments--efforts 
     to which we would be particularly vulnerable given our 
     substantial worldwide presence. And foreign states could 
     create exceptions to sovereign immunity that do not directly 
     mirror those created by JASTA, which would exacerbate these 
       The JASTA also threatens to expose even our closest allies 
     and partners to litigation in U.S. courts. JASTA would go 
     well beyond 9/11 or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and a number 
     of our allies and partners have expressed serious concerns 
     about the bill. I am concerned that the enactment of JASTA 
     would risk eroding the cooperation we must have from partners 
     and allies to defend the Nation. And as I noted in my veto 
     message, JASTA threatens to take decisions concerning 
     potential foreign state involvement in terrorist attacks out 
     of the hands of national security and foreign policy 
     professionals and to place such decisions instead in the 
     hands of private litigants and courts. This is neither a 
     coordinated nor an effective way to respond to such concerns.
       To be clear, my opposition to JASTA is based primarily on 
     its potential impact on the United States. Sovereign immunity 
     principles do protect all Nations. But the United States has 
     a larger international presence, by far, than any other 
     country--we are active in a lot more places than any other 
     country, including Saudi Arabia. This means we benefit more 
     from the principles that JASTA threatens to erode than any 
     other country and have more to lose if those principles are 
     eroded than any other country.

                                       The Secretary of State,

                                       Washington, April 15, 2016.
     Hon. Lindsey O. Graham,
     Chairman, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and 
         Related Programs, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. 
         Senate, Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. Chairman: I am writing to express the Department 
     of State's concerns regarding S. 2040, the Justice Against 
     Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).
       We deeply sympathize with all victims of terrorism and 
     appreciate the motivation behind this legislation. The U.S. 
     government condemns all acts of terrorism, and the Department 
     has long supported efforts of U.S. terrorism victims to 
     pursue compensation while also leading international efforts 
     to combat terrorism and prevent more attacks and more 
       However, as it presently stands, JASTA would strip 
     sovereign immunity protections from all nations (not just 
     designated state sponsors of terrorism as under current law) 
     for a wide range of actions taken outside the United States 
     that lead to injury or loss in the United States, including 
     but not limited to acts associated with terrorism. This broad 
     expansion of the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act's 
     jurisdictional provisions will be of deep concern to many 
     foreign governments with potentially grave repercussions for 
     U.S. national security interests. The United

[[Page S6903]]

     States benefits significantly from the protection afforded by 
     foreign sovereign immunity given its extensive diplomatic, 
     security, and assistance operations around the world. JASTA 
     could encourage foreign courts to exercise jurisdiction over 
     the United States or U.S. officials--including members of our 
     military and intelligence community--for actions taken here 
     which may cause injury outside our borders. JASTA could also 
     expose U.S. allies and partners to litigation in U.S. courts 
     that will raise significant foreign policy sensitivities and 
     could limit their cooperation on key national security 
     issues, including counterterrorism initiatives. It could also 
     generate concerns about the security of foreign state assets 
     in the U.S. financial system.
       I ask you to consider the unintended consequences of 
     passing this legislation in its current form. We remain 
     prepared to work with Congress on appropriate changes that 
     would mitigate the harmful impacts on U.S. foreign policy and 
     national security.
       Thank you for your leadership on so many critical national 
     security issues.
     John F. Kerry.

         Department of Defense, Chairman of the Joint of Chiefs of 
                                  Washington, DC, 7 December 2016.
     Hon. John McCain, Chairman,
     Committee on Armed Services,
     U.S. Senate, Washington. DC.
       Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for the opportunity to offer 
     advice on congressional efforts to mitigate concerns I 
     expressed regarding legislation that may expose U.S. Service 
     members to the jurisdiction of foreign courts.
       On 27 September 2016, I forwarded concerns regarding the 
     potential second- and third-order consequences of legislation 
     that erode the long-standing principle of sovereign immunity. 
     These were:
       Any legislation that risks reciprocal treatment by foreign 
     governments would increase the vulnerability of U.S. Service 
     members to foreign legal action while acting in an official 
       In those cases where a foreign government decides to 
     exercise jurisdiction over a U.S. Service member, the Service 
     member could be held in civil, or criminal, contempt should 
     he or she refuse to appear or otherwise comply with the 
     foreign court's orders.
       If a U.S. Service member were to be sued in a foreign 
     court, it would be up to the foreign court to decide whether 
     classified or sensitive U.S. Government information would be 
     required as part of the litigation process. This could put 
     the United States in the position of choosing between the 
     disclosure of classified or sensitive information. and 
     subjecting a U.S. Service member to an adverse foreign court 
       While any attempt to alleviate the above risks is 
     commendable, increasing the burden of proof required to 
     prevail in a civil matter would not alleviate the above 
     concerns as victims may still file suit against a foreign 
     state. If a foreign government enacted reciprocal 
     legislation, suits could be brought against the United States 
     and may implicate U.S. Service members. While at the end of a 
     trial such a suit may not prevail if the victim is not able 
     to meet a heightened standard of proof--a heightened standard 
     may not stop a suit from being filed. In such a situation. 
     Service members may be subpoenaed to appear in court and 
     prevented from departing the country.
       My concerns would only be hilly alleviated by legislation 
     that restores the principle of sovereign immunity and 
     protects U.S. Service members from reciprocal legislation 
     that may subject them to the jurisdiction of a foreign court.
                                           Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.,
     General, U.S. Marine Corps.

      Statement Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, December 7, 2016.

       I appreciate the opportunity to provide views on the 
     potentially harmful consequences that the Justice Against 
     Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) may have on the United 
     States, the Department of Defense, and Service members.
       As I stated in my testimony before the Senate Armed 
     Services Committee on September 22, 2016, I agree with the 
     intent of JASTA, which is to honor the families of 9/11 
     victims. However, the potential second-and third-order 
     consequences of JASTA could be devastating to the Department 
     and its Service members and could undermine our important 
     counterterrorism efforts abroad.
       In general terms, JASTA allows lawsuits in U.S. Federal 
     Courts against foreign states for actions taken abroad that 
     are alleged to have contributed to acts of terrorism in the 
     United States, notwithstanding longstanding principles of 
     sovereign immunity. Under the law that existed before JASTA 
     was enacted, similar lawsuits were available for actions only 
     against designated state sponsors of terrorism. JASTA has 
     extended the stripping of immunity to states that are not 
     designated sponsors of terrorism, potentially subjecting many 
     of the United States' allies and partner nations to 
     litigation in U.S. courts.
       We have concerns that JASTA may cause foreign governments 
     to enact legislation to create exceptions to immunity for 
     conduct by the United States and its personnel. Such 
     legislation may not directly mirror, and may be more 
     expansive than, the exceptions created by JASTA. This is 
     likely to increase our country's vulnerability to lawsuits 
     overseas and to encourage foreign governments or their courts 
     to exercise jurisdiction over the United States or U.S. 
     officials in situations in which we believe the United States 
     is entitled to sovereign immunity. U.S. Service members 
     stationed here and overseas, and especially those supporting 
     our counterterrorism efforts, would be vulnerable to private 
     individuals' accusations that their activities contributed to 
     acts alleged to violate a foreign state's law. Such lawsuits 
     could relate to actions taken by members of armed groups that 
     received U.S. assistance or training, or misuse of U.S. 
     military equipment by foreign forces.
       The implications of JASTA are severe. I will highlight a 
     few of them.
       First, whether the United States or our Service members 
     have in fact provided support for terrorist acts or aided 
     organizations that later commit such acts in violation of 
     foreign laws is irrelevant to whether we would be forced to 
     defend against lawsuits by private litigants in foreign 
     courts. Instead, the mere allegation of their involvement 
     could subject them to a foreign court's jurisdiction and the 
     accompanying litigation and intrusive discovery process that 
     goes along with defending against such lawsuits. This could 
     result in significant consequences even if the United States 
     or our personnel were ultimately found not to be responsible 
     for the alleged acts. For example, our service members might 
     be required to testify about or provide documents on 
     operations that they are obligated under U.S. law not to 
     disclose, exposing them to punishment for contempt by the 
     foreign court, including imprisonment.
       Second, there would be a risk of sizeable monetary damage 
     awards in such cases, which could lead to efforts to attach 
     U.S. Government property to satisfy those awards. Given the 
     broad range of U.S. activities and significant presence 
     around the world, including our Department's foreign bases 
     and facilities abroad, we would have numerous assets 
     vulnerable to such attempts.
       Third, it is likely that litigants will seek sensitive 
     government information in order to establish their case 
     against a foreign state under JASTA in U.S. courts or against 
     the United States or U.S. personnel in a foreign court. This 
     could include classified intelligence data and analysis, as 
     well as sensitive operational information.
       Furthermore, if the United States or U.S. personnel were to 
     be sued in foreign courts, such information would likely be 
     sought by foreign plaintiffs, and it would be up to the 
     foreign court whether classified or sensitive U.S. Government 
     information sought by the litigants would be protected from 
     disclosure. Moreover, the classified information could well 
     be vital for our defense against the accusations. Disclosure 
     could put the United States in the difficult position of 
     choosing between revealing classified or otherwise sensitive 
     information or suffering adverse rulings and potentially 
     large damage awards for our refusal to do so, and could even 
     result in the imprisonment of U.S. personnel for refusing an 
     order of a foreign court to disclose such classified or 
     sensitive information.
       Finally, foreign lawsuits will divert resources from 
     mission crucial tasks; they could subject our servicemembers 
     and civilians, as well as contractor personnel, to 
     depositions, subpoenas for trial testimony, and other 
     compulsory processes both here and abroad. Indeed, such 
     personnel might be held in civil or even criminal contempt if 
     they refused to appear or to divulge classified or other 
     sensitive information at the direction of a foreign court.

  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to pay attention to 
the most respected individuals in this country and pay attention to why 
they object, not to the entire bill but to the provisions that would, 
as Director Brennan said, cause the most damaging consequences for 
those U.S. Government officials who dutifully work overseas on behalf 
of our country.
  The Director of the CIA said that the principle of sovereign immunity 
protects U.S. officials every day and is rooted in reciprocity. If we 
fail to uphold the standard for other countries, we place our own 
Nation's officials in danger. No country has more to lose from 
undermining that principle than the United States. Mr. Brennan adds 
that few institutions would be at greater risk than the CIA.
  I urge my colleagues not to abolish JASTA, but let's fix it because 
the people we respect and admire the most and to whom we give the 
responsibilities to defend this Nation have unanimously argued that we 
need this fixed.
  I say to the President: I fear the profound consequences that may 
arise if we, with the best of intentions, do great, great damage to 
this Nation and its security.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I thank my colleagues for their 
thoughtful and informed analysis of an important national security 

[[Page S6904]]

  I ask unanimous consent to speak briefly, and I thank my colleague 
from Delaware for allowing me to do so.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                         Remembering John Glenn

  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I rise today on a sad occasion, and that 
is to talk about the loss of an American icon. He is a fellow Ohioan. 
He held this seat in the Senate. He is one of our true heroes, as an 
astronaut, fighter pilot, successful business person, Senator, and 
later someone who helped young people throughout the State of Ohio by 
establishing his own school at Ohio State University. I am talking 
about John Glenn. We lost him today at age 95.
  I was watching some of the coverage on television about his career, 
and it focused a lot on his being the first to orbit the Earth on 
Friendship 7, a capsule you can see at the Air and Space Museum. It is 
not much bigger than two of these desks put together, but somehow he 
wedged himself in and did something heroic and important at the time. 
In a spaceflight competition with the Soviets, he was one who 
  What I didn't hear too much about was his career before being a 
famous astronaut and that amazing flight that ended up with him 
addressing a joint session of Congress or what he did after that 
amazing feat. So I want to talk about that for a second and say that I 
appreciate that tomorrow my colleagues will help me in joining to pay 
tribute to him through a Senate resolution.

  But prior to his being a famous astronaut, he was a famous American 
hero in my mind because he was a fighter pilot who signed up after 
Pearl Harbor, the 75th anniversary of which we celebrated this week. He 
flew 59 missions as a fighter pilot in World War II. He later flew 
about 90 missions in Korea. He was highly decorated as a fighter pilot. 
He then was a test pilot, and actually he broke the transcontinental 
flight time record as a test pilot. Then he decided to join the 
astronaut corps. He was part of that group of friendship astronauts who 
became famous later as being called ``The Right Stuff.'' He was the 
right stuff.
  He then had a successful career in business. He decided he loved 
public service, and he wanted to be in the Senate. He won election to 
the Senate and was actually reelected with historic numbers in my home 
State of Ohio. I got to serve with him during part of his time here. I 
was in the House; he was in the Senate. We worked on projects together.
  He was on the same committee my colleague from Delaware was on, and 
both of them have chaired it, the Governmental Affairs Committee. He 
loved good government. One of his big issues was stopping unfunded 
Federal mandates. I was the House sponsor on the Republican side; he 
was the Democratic sponsor here. We ended up in the Rose Garden 
together for a ceremony. He was tenacious. This was, by the way, an 
issue that not all Democrats agreed with him on; yet he did what he 
felt was right in the name of good government.
  We also worked on other projects together, and I always found that 
his focus was on his State, the people he represented, and how to make 
their lives better.
  After his Senate career, he started a new project. It was called the 
Glenn School of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University. I had the 
honor of teaching there for a few years before running for the Senate. 
I was a co-teacher for four different courses and got to know John 
Glenn in an entirely different way. He asked me to join their advisory 
board, which I did join. I am still on the advisory board for now the 
Glenn College. Last year we elevated the school to a college. This was 
John Glenn's greatest single accomplishment in the latter years of his 
life--creating an institution where young people can go and be inspired 
to go into public service and given the tools to be able to succeed. He 
loved that school. He loved those students. He chaired a board meeting 
only last month. He did it with humor, as he always did, and passion.
  One of his big issues he talked about last month was how he wanted to 
have a leadership institute to ensure that more young people could 
understand the importance of government service, which he felt was a 
noble undertaking--military service, government service, service for 
your country, service greater than yourself. We lost an American icon.
  He was also a man who loved his family. His wife, Annie Glenn--many 
of us here in this Chamber know her, and we love her because she is an 
amazing woman in her own right. For 73 years, they were married. They 
knew each other as little kids. They virtually grew up from the crib 
until now together. Annie Glenn was at his side constantly. That 
relationship, their partnership, is an example for my wife Jane and me 
and for all of us here in this Chamber.
  Earlier this year, my staff and I had a retreat in Ohio. We brought 
all of our DC staff and Ohio staff together to talk about how to better 
serve our constituents, how to define the mission. I asked John Glenn 
to come address that group. What a treat. Our staff had the opportunity 
to sit and talk to John Glenn about his career, but more importantly, 
to talk about his passion for public service. The mission he gave us 
was one of honor and respect and decency for our constituents and to 
serve the people. That was his life.
  John Glenn's life story touches our hearts today, and his life story 
is also part of American history.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sasse). The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I just want to thank our colleague from 
Ohio for recalling the memory, the life of John Glenn and his wife 
Annie. I was privileged to know him. I am an Ohio State graduate, Navy 
ROTC. I am a retired Navy captain and a huge admirer of John Glenn and 
his bride.
  One of my fondest memories of them was at an Ohio State football game 
a few years ago. As the Senator from Ohio knows, one of the big 
attractions at an Ohio State football game at halftime is to script 
``Ohio,'' where the band spells out the word ``Ohio.'' Usually one of 
the tuba players kind of dances around for a while and then dots the 
``i.'' So fans are used to that happening. On this particular occasion, 
no tuba player came forward to dot the ``i,'' but John Glenn and Annie 
went onto the field and dotted the ``i,'' to the amazement and delight 
of 100-and-some-thousand fans. Later on, they came up. I was up in the 
President's box with President Gordon Gee. I am not sure; maybe my 
friend from Ohio was there as well. But what a joyous memory that was.
  He ran for President briefly too. I was pleased to support him. He 
didn't stay in the race for long. I thought he was a great marine, 
great pilot, great astronaut, great Senator, and would have been a 
great leader for our country.
  The last thing I will say is this. Who is it that said this? Maybe--
Alan Simpson, former Senator from Wyoming. He used to say this about 
integrity: If you have it, nothing else matters. If you don't have it, 
nothing else matters.
  When you look up the word ``integrity'' in the dictionary--and 
``courage'' as well--you see John Glenn's picture.
  Thank you for your kind and wonderful words about John Glenn and 
Annie. Thanks for letting me say a few words as well.

                      Tribute to Federal Employees

  Mr. President, I have been coming to the floor, as the Senator from 
Ohio knows, for months--a couple of years, actually. I come maybe once 
a month. The Presiding Officer and I serve together, along with Senator 
Portman, on a committee called Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs. Part of our job is to do oversight over the Department of 
Homeland Security.
  I started doing something a couple of years ago. Instead of coming to 
the floor to talk about some controversy or things we disagree on with 
our colleagues across the aisle, I came to the floor for a different 
purpose. I came to the floor in order to say thank you to some of the 
240,000-some men and women who are part of the Department of Homeland 
Security, who work hard to help secure our country and make it safer in 
many ways.
  Over the last 4 years, I have been privileged to serve with our 
Presiding Officer and a number of others--Senator Portman and others--
as the senior Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs Committee, first as chairman for a couple of years with Tom 
Coburn from Oklahoma as our ranking member and for

[[Page S6905]]

the last 2 years as ranking member of the committee while Ron Johnson 
has been our chairman.
  I am incredibly proud of the fact that our committee is filled with 
hard-working men and women, Democrats and Republicans, who work across 
the aisle and party lines to bolster our national security and to help 
agencies and programs across government work better. We follow what I 
call the three C's: Communicate. Compromise. Collaborate.
  Those are things we do in Delaware, and on our committee I am happy 
to report that the three C's hold forth as well.
  Serving as the senior Democrat on our committee has truly been one of 
the great honors of my 16 years in the Senate. During my time as 
chairman and ranking member, I have had literally thousands of 
Department of Homeland Security employees--I have seen firsthand the 
exceptional work they do 240 hours a day--it probably feels that way--
24 hours a day, 7 days a week across our country and even around the 
world. I am pictured here with some of them. They do extraordinary 
things that some of us don't even know about.
  What we do is every week we come to the floor, and one of the best 
things you can do when people do great work is thank them. That is what 
I like to do. Since my first speech on this front a couple of years 
ago, I have come to the floor almost every month the Senate has been in 
session just to say thanks to a lot of deserving individuals, to teams, 
even entire agencies at the Department of Homeland Security that are 
doing extraordinary work quietly, behind the scenes, without a lot of 
attention, to enable the Department to carry out its vital missions--
actually its many vital missions.
  To everyone who has allowed me to share their stories with our 
colleagues here in Congress and the American people, thank you so much. 
To all of those folks at DHS who I have not had an opportunity to talk 
about or any agency I have missed, I want you to know that the work you 
do every day makes a real difference and is truly appreciated. While 
some of your accomplishments are hard to measure, they are nonetheless 
important. They are reflected in lives saved, tragedies prevented, and 
a sense of security that Americans feel as they go about their day.
  Across the Department of Homeland Security, there is so much good 
work going on each and every day that if I stood here every day for the 
next 2 years, I would have no shortage of remarkable public servants to 
  As some of you may recall, the Department of Homeland Security 
employs over 240,000 Americans doing everything from securing our cyber 
network from cyber attacks, to guarding our ports of entry, to helping 
communities recover from natural disasters. Their mission is one of the 
most diverse and challenging, I think, of any agency, any department in 
the Federal Government. The diversity of the employees I have 
highlighted these past many months is the best illustration of the 
challenges facing the Department of Homeland Security every day and 
facing our country every day.
  Last month, I highlighted a U.S. Secret Service officer named Codie 
Hughes, who patrols the White House grounds as a uniformed Secret 
Service officer, and also Special Agent Tate Jarrow, who protects 
Americans from cyber criminals and financial schemes that are designed 
to cheat those Americans out of their hard-earned dollars.
  In January, I highlighted a fellow named Milo Booth who serves as the 
Federal Emergency Management Agency's tribal affairs officer, ensuring 
our Native American communities are prepared for natural disasters too.
  In September, I thanked Tito Hernandez, who travels around this 
country--and he does that about 9 months out of the year--in the 
aftermath of natural disasters to coordinate the support of State and 
local officials as they work through some of the most trying 
  Last year, last July, I spoke of the Department of Homeland Security 
Science and Technology Directorate and the state-of-the-art research 
work being done by Dr. Michelle Colby and Jon McEntee, who are 
researching how to protect us against, among other things, emerging 
diseases, such as avian flu and foot-and-mouth disease, while helping 
the Department develop the technologies of tomorrow.
  This past July, I thanked LCDR Tiana Garrett and Ingrid Hope with the 
Office of Health Affairs for their work to prepare our border agents, 
doctors, medical professionals, and first responders for the emerging 
threats posed by the Zika virus.
  From the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, which tracks radiological 
materials across our country, to the National Cybersecurity & 
Communications Integration Center, which monitors cyber security 
attacks and coordinates Federal cyber security efforts with the private 
sector, the Department of Homeland Security is truly remarkable in its 
ability to work together as one cohesive unit to achieve its common 
  While it has not always been easy, the Department of Homeland 
Security has matured by leaps and bounds in order to become more than 
the sum of its parts in the 14 years since its creation. The Department 
remains the youngest Cabinet-level agency in the Federal Government. It 
is also the third largest agency in our Federal Government, behind only 
the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. It 
was created by bringing together more than 22 different Federal 
agencies. Let me say that again--22 agencies sort of glommed together a 
dozen or so years ago into one big Department, DHS.
  The sheer scope of the extraordinary challenge DHS and its employees 
face means that leadership across the Department is vital to the 
success of that organization, as it is to any other organization but 
especially one this large and unwieldy. I have always said that the key 
to success for any organization, no matter what size, is leadership. 
Just like integrity--if you have it, nothing else matters; if you don't 
have it, nothing else matters.

                         Secretary Jeh Johnson

  Thankfully, the Department of Homeland Security has been blessed with 
enlightened, committed leaders since its creation. I, for one, cannot 
begin to say enough about the leadership shown these past 3 years by 
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, pictured here on my left.
  Soon after being sworn in, Secretary Johnston immediately made clear 
that his highest priority would be management reform--he called it the 
Unity of Effort Initiative--intended to promote the coordination and 
cohesion throughout the Department. He also focused on employee 
engagement and the Department's hiring practices. He wanted to make 
sure that the good work at the Department was not going unnoticed.
  Through his steady leadership, DHS has begun to slowly but surely 
turn--kind of like an aircraft carrier in the Navy--improving morale by 
3 percent across the Department in the last year alone--the first 
increase in the Department I think in some 6 years. We are happy to see 
them bottom out and the improvement of the morale--the Department is 
heading in the right direction again. Jeh Johnson and his team deserve 
a lot of credit for that. I think, frankly, so does our committee, the 
Homeland Security Committee, and the good work we have done to try to 
make sure there is a good leadership team in place at DHS and that we 
convoy clearly our gratitude to those men and women who work there--
240,000 of them.
  Being a change agent in the Federal Government can oftentimes be 
difficult, but I am confident that Secretary Johnson's dedication and 
his perseverance will make a lasting impact on the agency's greatest 
assets--its dedicated employees.
  To Secretary Johnson, to his family, to his bride, I just want to say 
thank you for your extraordinary service. Every American is safer 
thanks to your leadership and your tireless efforts. Thank you, Jeh.

                           Alejandro Mayorkas

  Until recently, Secretary Johnson's right-hand man was a fellow named 
Alejandro Mayorkas, a native of Cuba who came here a long time ago with 
his family, on the run, if you will. I like to call him Ali; so do most 
other people.
  Ali recently stepped down as Deputy Secretary of the Department of 
Homeland Security--that is the No. 2 slot there--but for 7 years, 
including one-third or so as the No. 2 person, Ali was working 
tirelessly to improve the security of our Nation and improve the 
operations of the Department before he

[[Page S6906]]

became Deputy Secretary. In that role, he was instrumental in 
strengthening the Department's cyber security policies, as well as 
developing critical immigration programs that cut down on fraud and 
helped promote economic growth.
  Ali was a dedicated and thoughtful leader. His impact on the 
Department will continue to be felt for years to come in streamlined 
DHS operations that allow employees to spend less time on paperwork and 
more time on protecting Americans.

                               Russ Deyo

  When Ali left the Department a month or two ago to return to the 
practice of law, the Department's Under Secretary for Management, a 
fellow named Russ Deyo--rhymes with Rio--stepped in to fill his shoes.
  As Under Secretary for Management, Russ has proved to be an effective 
leader also. With a strong but quiet demeanor, he is not afraid to make 
tough decisions.
  Russ has been responsible for overseeing the Department's efforts to 
get the Department off of GAO's high-risk list. What is that? Well, the 
high-risk list is something the GAO puts out every other year. It is a 
high-risk list of wasting taxpayer money.
  DHS, as well as a lot of other agencies, has been on it for quite a 
while. Russ has made very clear, with the support of Jeh Johnson and 
Ali Mayorkas, that they want to get off of that list the best they can. 
I think one of the greatest accomplishments may have been overseeing 
the creation of employee satisfaction programs in each and every 
component. I think they also got a clean audit. I think the Department 
of Defense, which has been around since the late 1940s, has never 
gotten a clean financial audit. I think for each of the last 4 years, 
the Department of Homeland Security has set a great example. It has 
gotten a clean financial audit.
  I wish to say if you can't manage your finances, how do you expect to 
manage your whole department? That is just one aspect of the 
improvements being made.
  With this information, Secretary Johnson and his leadership team 
across the Department can ask every single DHS employee: How are we 
doing? How can we help? What can we do better?

                              Craig Fugate

  Another DHS leader whom we all admire for his leadership and steady 
hand during some of those challenging times is the Administrator of 
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. His name is Craig Fugate 
and he hails from Florida.
  For the last 8 years, Administrator Fugate has admirably led Federal 
responses and efforts through numerous disasters, including Superstorm 
Sandy, which landed a direct hit on the east coast, including a hit to 
my own State of Delaware. Throughout his tenure, Craig has used his 
whole community approach to strengthen our national resiliency and help 
millions get back on their feet after a disaster. I know I speak for 
countless Americans when I say: Craig, thank you for your dedication to 
the mission of FEMA, for your years of leadership to our country, and 
the leadership you provided for a very good team across America.

                            Peter Neffenger

  At the Transportation Security Administration, affectionately called 
TSA, retired Coast Guard VADM Peter Neffenger has helped his agency 
respond quickly and effectively to a historic surge in airline travel 
and navigate some of the busiest travel days in American history. Last 
month, over the course of just 7 days, TSA helped 16.5 million 
Americans travel safely to visit family and friends over the 
Thanksgiving holiday. His continued efforts to innovate while ensuring 
uniform training for all TSA officers--we call them TSOs--have 
streamlined security screening at our airports and ports of entry 
without compromising passenger security. The millions of Americans who 
travel through our airports each week are measurably safer, thanks to 
Vice Admiral Neffenger's service and that of the men and women he 
  I just wish to say about the folks at TSA that whenever I go through 
airport security, I always thank them. I tell them who I am, tell them 
who the Senator is--the junior Senator from Nebraska--and tell them how 
much we appreciate the work they do. When you see people doing a good 
job, when you are going through an airport, just take a minute and 
thank these folks. Thank these men and women. It goes a long way. They 
have had a very tough job because over the course of Thanksgiving 
weekend, they had 16.5 million people trying to get through security--
actually, get to the airport, get their families packed up, in their 
vehicles, cab, Uber, or a transit bus, and try to get to the airport, 
get a place to park, get through security, get on a plane--make their 
  For the folks at TSA, their job is to make sure that nobody with 
malintent gets through security. You have all these people trying to 
get through as fast as they can, get on their plane, and get going. 
Then you have folks at TSA who are trying to make sure that nothing 
tragic happens in the meantime. That is a tough job. It is a tough job, 
and I urge you to give them a little bit of love and thank them for 
what they are doing from time to time.
  Every time I speak on the floor about TSA, I encourage people to say 
thank you, and I have just done it one more time.
  Our Nation is truly fortunate to have the Department of Homeland 
Security we have today. The few men I mentioned just now are the tip of 
the iceberg when it comes to truly great public servants at the helm of 
DHS. There are many more. A number of them are charged with 
organizations that work behind the scenes, quietly accomplishing their 
missions so that the rest of us can go about our lives uninterrupted 
every day.

                  Suzanne Spalding and Phyllis Schneck

  At something called the National Protection and Programs Directorate, 
Under Secretary Suzanne Spalding works with her great team to protect 
our Nation from ever-evolving cyber attacks. Her diligent team includes 
her deputy at the Directorate, Deputy Under Secretary Phyllis Schneck. 
I kid her. She is from Georgia Tech. I call her ``Ramblin Wreck''--
Phyllis Schneck, the Ramblin Wreck from Georgia Tech. She is a dynamo. 
She left the private sector where she was making a lot of money to come 
to serve her country and help lead the cyber security efforts of the 
Department of Homeland Security.

                             Joseph Clancy

  Also over at the Secret Service, we have a Director named Joe Clancy, 
who leads an organization of men and women who performed flawlessly as 
the agency has protected dozens of officials during the recent election 

                            Kathy Brinsfield

  Over in the Office of Health Affairs, Chief Medical Officer Kathy 
Brinsfield leads some of the best and brightest scientists in the world 
in their cutting research into emerging diseases.

                            Reggie Brothers

  At the Science and Technology Directorate, Reggie Brothers has led 
efforts across the Department to make smart investments in research and 
development for DHS and their State and local partners.
  To all of you and to your agencies, again, a big thank you. These are 
just a few of the incredible leaders at the Department of Homeland 
Security, just a few.

  Sarah Saldana, Gil Kerlikowske, Leon Rodriguez, Admiral Paul Zukunft

  There are so many more who deserve our thanks for steady leadership, 
leaders such as Sarah Saldana, who leads Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement, known as ICE.
  Gil Kerlikowske at Customs and Border Protection is a terrific 
  Leon Rodriguez--I call him ``Leon Red Bone''--is director of U.S. 
Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  We have the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, ADM Paul Zukunft, 
whom everyone understandably simply calls ``Admiral Z.''
  We say a very big thank you to all of you for your service and the 
hard work of those across your agencies. A retired Navy captain salutes 
the Coast Guard.
  After 4 years as the lead Democrat on the Homeland Security and 
Governmental Affairs Committee, having met thousands of DHS employees, 
I believe our country is in many more ways more secure today than it 
was yesterday. However, given the evolving nature of the threats we 
face, this is not the time to spike the football; this is not the time 
to become complacent. We need to remain vigilant, continue

[[Page S6907]]

to work smarter, and continue to work harder.
  With that thought in mind, I close by expressing the gratitude of all 
Americans to the Presiding Officer and to everyone at the Department of 
Homeland Security. I wish you and your families a very merry Christmas 
and a joyous holiday, as well as a more peaceful New Year for all of 
us. Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. Stay safe. God bless 
you all.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.
  Mr. ROUNDS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business for up to 10 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                  National Defense Authorization Bill

  Mr. ROUNDS. Mr. President, my friend the Senator from Delaware has 
spoken very eloquently about the need to say thank you to our Members 
who work within TSA. I wish to speak in terms of members of the Armed 
Forces and to remind the people of America that we are free and we will 
be able to enjoy a very precious holiday season coming up because the 
men and women who wear that uniform are on the frontlines. It is their 
families who are making that sacrifice as they are away from home. We 
should keep all of them in our prayers and remember to say thank you to 
their families for the sacrifices they have made. Thank you to the men 
and women on the frontlines who keep us safe.
  With that, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am 
pleased that we came together once again to pass the National Defense 
Authorization Act, a vital piece of legislation. It is a testament to 
the leadership of the chairmen and ranking members in the House and 
Senate that Members on both sides of the aisle have continued to work 
together to pass the NDAA again this year, and I thank them for their 
  It is important to continue this 55-year-plus tradition of passing 
the NDAA to show our troops and their families that they have our full 
support. As in years past, this year's NDAA includes policies to 
support our wounded warriors, our troops, and their families. It also 
provides our military with the tools needed to combat our enemies 
around the globe.
  However, it is also the most significant defense reform legislation 
in decades. An example is its significant provisions to reform how the 
Department of Defense acquires new weapons.
  Given that the No. 1 responsibility of the Federal Government is the 
defense of our Nation to keep Americans safe, it is reassuring that 
Congress has continued to pass the NDAA every year for over half a 
  To many Americans and even Members of Congress, the most visible 
manifestation of our NDAA is our combat vehicles, ships, and combat 
aircraft that have, with our outstanding servicemembers, made our Armed 
Forces second to none. Less visible are things such as training, 
maintenance, and adequate munitions, without which success on the 
battlefield would be in doubt.
  I am pleased that this year's NDAA adequately authorizes funds for 
the DOD's operations and maintenance account, which provides the 
dollars for these vital but less visible functions.
  The NDAA also stops the Department of Defense's proposed drawdown of 
an additional 15,000 soldiers, 2,000 marines, and approximately 4,000 
airmen for fiscal year 2017.
  Additionally, it addresses munitions shortfalls and provides funds 
for depot maintenance and facilities sustainment.
  Importantly, it does not require women to register for the Selective 
Service and does not contain TRICARE prescription drug co-pay 
increases, both of which have been of concern to me and many other 
South Dakotans.
  I am pleased it includes a number of provisions which I offered to 
address the serious cyber threat our Nation faces. One of those 
requires the President to define when an act in cyber space requires a 
military response. Another requires training for DOD hiring officials 
on how to use the special authorities Congress gave them to expedite 
the hiring of cyber security professionals and pay these civilian 
employees more than what is normally authorized for civil service.
  I am also pleased that the conference report includes my mental 
health measure requiring the Department of Defense to more carefully 
monitor prescriptions dispensed at military treatment facilities for 
the treatment of PTSD.
  I join my colleagues in urging the President to continue the decades-
long tradition of signing the NDAA into law. While we champion this 
year's bill, the most significant defense reform legislation in 
decades, we must extend our view beyond fiscal year 2017.
  For the past 2 years, I have served as a member of the Senate Armed 
Services Committee, bearing witness to potential challenges that could 
threaten our national security if we do not address them now, including 
arbitrary budget caps. These arbitrary budget caps have forced the 
kinds of false choices that are potentially so devastating for our 
Armed Forces. In particular, we must avoid the false choice of paying 
for readiness while assuming risk for modernization or vice versa.
  The American people expect us to adequately defend America next year 
and for every year to come. Job one in that regard is to remove the 
arbitrary budget caps and the threat of sequestration. Only by doing so 
can Congress fulfill its No. 1 responsibility--keeping Americans safe.
  In closing, I thank Chairman McCain, Ranking Member Reed, my Armed 
Services Committee colleagues, and all of our staffs for the great 
legislation we had the honor to vote for today.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I would like to associate myself with the 
objections raised by my colleague from Arizona, Senator Jeff Flake, 
concerning the 2016 Water Resources Development Act, WRDA, conference 
  I must express my dissatisfaction with the WRDA conference agreement. 
While I applaud the hard work by the conferees to advance a number of 
worthwhile flood control projects--some of which are located in my home 
State of Arizona--my objection centers around the inclusion of a 
massive drought relief package for California at the expense of drought 
priorities for Arizona.
  For the past 2 years, Senator Flake and I have been negotiating with 
the committees of jurisdiction and certain offices of the California 
delegation to ensure that any drought legislation that comes to the 
Senate floor would be applicable to all Western States. We won 
provisions in the Senate-passed WRDA bill and the energy bill to 
expedite salt cedar removal and increase storage capacity for 
reservoirs across the West. Unfortunately, our WRDA provisions have 
been stripped by the conferees.
  I cannot support a drought package that is overly California-centric 
while my home State and other Western States are also suffering under 
an oppressive 16-year drought.