(Senate - December 09, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 178 (Friday, December 9, 2016)]
[Pages S6932-S6995]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of the House message to accompany H.R. 2028, which 
the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       House Message to accompany H.R. 2028, a bill making 
     appropriations for energy and water development and related 
     agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and 
     for other purposes.


       McConnell motion to concur in the amendment of the House to 
     the amendment of the Senate to the bill.

[[Page S6933]]

       McConnell motion to concur in the amendment of the House to 
     the amendment of the Senate to the bill, with McConnell 
     amendment No. 5139, to change the enactment date.
       McConnell amendment No. 5140 (to amendment No. 5139), of a 
     perfecting nature.
       McConnell motion to refer the message of the House on the 
     bill to the Committee on Appropriations, with instructions, 
     McConnell amendment No. 5141, to change the enactment date.
       McConnell amendment No. 5142 (the instructions (amendment 
     No. 5141) of the motion to refer), of a perfecting nature.
       McConnell amendment No. 5143 (to amendment No. 5142), of a 
     perfecting nature.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The assistant Democratic leader.

                         Remembering John Glenn

  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, I wish to join in and echo the comments 
of the Democratic leader, Senator Reid, about the passing of John 
Glenn. I was just in high school when he was the famous astronaut who 
risked his life to prove that we could move forward in the space 
program. It wasn't just an achievement that came to science. It was an 
achievement America was hungry for.
  We were so afraid, after launching the Sputnik and two Russian 
cosmonauts, that we were falling behind in the space race. All of the 
astronauts, especially John Glenn, risked their lives to move us 
forward in the space program that ultimately landed a man on the Moon.
  I read this morning in the obituary columns about the risk that was 
attendant to this launch after it was scrubbed over and over because of 
mechanical problems and weather and the fact that 40 percent of the 
time the efforts to use this rocket had failed. Yet John Glenn put his 
life on the line in Friendship 7, in that tiny little capsule that was 
only 7 feet across and was launched into space. He almost died on the 
reentry when the tiles that were to protect him started failing and, as 
he termed it, there was a fireball as he came back into Earth.
  He made it. He was greeted with a hero's welcome all across the 
United States, and he addressed a joint session of Congress. That was 
the man I knew.
  He was also the man who then volunteered to come to Springfield, IL, 
in 1982 and campaign for me when I ran for Congress. I was just 
awestruck that this great man, this American hero and then a U.S. 
Senator, would take the time to come to my hometown and campaign for 
me. He did, and he was beloved. A large crowd gathered, cheering him 
on, as they should have. I was just kind of background noise to the 
real arrival of the real American hero--John Glenn.
  Many years later, when I was elected to the Senate, I was lucky 
enough to serve with John Glenn for 2 years and be on his committee. He 
was the ranking Democrat, and Fred Thompson was the Republican chairman 
of that Administration Committee.
  We held some very controversial hearings under Chairman Thompson. 
John Glenn would sit there very quietly, and I wondered if he was going 
to be outflanked by this trial lawyer, Fred Thompson, who was so gifted 
with his own oratory. But time and again, John Glenn rose to the 
occasion for our side of the aisle and did it in his own quiet, 
persuasive, Midwestern way.
  At the end of that 2-year period that I served with him when I first 
came to the Senate, he was launched again into space at age 76 or 77. 
He was the oldest astronaut and went up into space and came back 
safely. He always wanted to fly, whether it was his own beloved 
airplane or whether it was a space capsule. He loved flight, and he 
made history with his flights around the country and, literally, around 
the Earth.
  We should remember that he risked his life, too, in airplanes for us. 
In World War II, he had some 59 combat missions in the Pacific, earning 
the distinguished Flying Cross and many other decorations. But that 
wasn't the end of his service. When the Korean war started, he 
volunteered again and flew 90 combat missions there. Interesting 
footnote: His wingman in those Korean missions, at one point, was Ted 
Williams, the famous baseball player for the Boston Red Sox.
  His is such a storied career of what John Glenn gave to America, 
including restoring our faith in our own space program, risking his 
life to prove that we can move forward into space, and serving the 
State of Ohio and the Nation as a Senator for four terms. He was just 
an extraordinary man.
  We can't mention John without mentioning Annie, his wife of 73 years. 
They literally shared the same playpen when they were little toddlers. 
They grew up together in the same school. They got married at a very 
early age. It was a love affair that went on for decades. The two of 
them were inseparable.
  I am honored to have served with John Glenn. He truly did have the 
right stuff, time and again, to make America proud.
  (The remarks of Mr. Durbin pertaining to the introduction of S. 3542 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.
  (The remarks of Mr. Daines pertaining to the introduction of S. 3539 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')


  Mr. DAINES. Madam President, invasive mussels are wreaking havoc on 
our ecosystem in Montana. This is negatively impacting our economy, 
including our recreation and tourism industries.
  Watercraft inspection stations are one of the most effective ways to 
stop the spread of these invasive species and to protect neighboring 
and distant bodies of water. I am working to ensure that the needed 
resources are delivered.
  It is time to act now.

                       Tribute to Jesika Whittle

  Madam President, behind every Senator is an extraordinary scheduler. 
Since 2012, I have had the privilege of having Jesika Whittle as my 
extraordinary scheduler.
  As one of the very first staff members I hired, Jesika has literally 
been with me from my very first day, and I could not have asked for a 
better person for the job or one more willing and prepared to help me 
serve the people of Montana.
  Jesika played a critical role in setting up our House freshman 
office, which is not an easy task, helping me to learn the ropes of 
where to go and sometimes where not to go.
  Undoubtedly, there were times when it felt like a thankless job, but 
I can assure you that the countless meetings scheduled, emails sent at 
all hours of the day and night, and gentle reminders to wrap up a 
meeting did not go without notice or appreciation.
  Her love for and dedication to her family shines through everything 
she does. It is this love and dedication that has propelled Jesika and 
her husband Zak to return to their native State of Washington. Knowing 
the joy this will bring Jesika and her family makes the bitter pill of 
losing her easier to swallow, but only slightly.
  There isn't a member of my staff who has not benefited somehow from 
Jesika, whether it is a reassuring word, a baked good, or sage advice 
that perhaps she lifted from Star Wars. Speaking of Star Wars, I would 
say that Jesika has the wisdom of Yoda, the work ethic of Luke 
Skywalker, and the class of Princess Leia. Because of her, our staff is 
more than an odd assortment of public servants. We are a family, and 
this Senate family will sorely miss the extraordinary Jesika Whittle.
  Jesika, thank you for everything.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.


  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, the election of Donald Trump as our next 
President has ignited a rash of speculation about the future of U.S. 
policy toward Cuba.
  What we know is that the President-elect has said contradictory 
things about President Obama's decision to resume diplomatic relations 
with Cuba, as he has about some other issues. Among other things, he 
has tweeted that he plans to reverse the Obama administration's 
regulatory changes relaxing restrictions on U.S. engagement with Cuba 
unless the Cuban Government agrees to a ``better deal.''
  Despite that, we don't actually know what he will do. I hope, before 
making a decision, he listens to advocates on both sides of the issue, 
including Cuban-Americans, a growing majority of whom support the 
resumption of diplomatic relations. As someone who has

[[Page S6934]]

traveled to Cuba many times and seen firsthand the benefits of the 
policy of engagement for both the Cuban people and the American people, 
I will do whatever I can to encourage the President-elect to continue 
that policy.
  The decision to resume diplomatic relations has been enthusiastically 
supported here and around the world. One of our closest allies in South 
America--their Ambassador talked to my wife Marcelle and me the day our 
flag went up for the first time in over 50 years at our Embassy in 
  He said: You know, our country has always strongly supported the 
United States. But we are also friends of Cuba, and the relationship 
between the United States and Cuba was always like a stone in our shoe. 
Today, when your flag went up over your Embassy, the stone came out of 
our shoe.
  The number of Americans who travel to Cuba has risen dramatically in 
the past two years. U.S. airline companies and cruise ships are 
carrying passengers there. Hotel deals have been signed.
  But the same 5 Members of Congress--3 in the Senate, 2 in the House, 
of the 535 Members of the House and the Senate--these 5 Members have 
steadfastly opposed the new opening with Cuba. They continually say 
that the only Cubans who have benefited from the new opening are Raul 
Castro and the Cuban military.
  Of course the Cuban Government has benefited. That is unavoidable. It 
happens in any country with state-owned enterprises with which we also 
have diplomatic and commercial relations. There are many like that. But 
it is false and misleading to say that they alone have benefited. In 
fact, the Cuban people, particularly Cuban entrepreneurs, have 
benefited. So have the American people, and they overwhelmingly want 
this opening to continue.
  I have met many times with Cuban Government officials. I have also 
met with Cuban dissidents who have been persecuted and imprisoned. No 
one is a stronger defender of democracy and human rights there than I 
am. I raised the issue of dissidents being imprisoned, first face-to-
face with Fidel Castro many years ago, and later with Raul Castro. Like 
President Obama, we all want the Cuban people to be able to express 
themselves freely and to choose their own leaders in a free and fair 
election. But I resent the assertions of those who remain wedded to the 
old, failed policy that to favor diplomatic relations is a form of 
appeasement to the Castro government.
  I am as outraged as anyone when Cubans who peacefully advocate for 
human rights and democracy are harassed, threatened, arrested, and 
abused, just as I am when such violations of human rights occur in 
other countries, including countries by governments whose armed forces 
and police annually receive hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. 
  For 55 years we have tried the approach of isolating and pressuring 
Cuba that is still advocated by a dwindling, albeit passionate, 
minority in Congress. That approach has failed miserably. The Castro 
family and their shrinking circle of aging revolutionaries are still in 
power. Cuba is still a country where political dissent is not 
  No one who knows the Castro government expected the resumption of 
diplomatic relations to quickly result in an end to oppression of free 
elections. Those who label the policy of engagement a failure after 
just 2 years because the Castro government continues to persecute its 
opponents are either naive or not to be taken seriously. Change in Cuba 
will happen incrementally, as it does in most countries. But I have no 
doubt that in a lot fewer than 55 years, the Cuban people have a lot 
more freedoms than they have had in the past 55 years.
  The record is indisputable. Bullying the Cuban Government and making 
threats and ultimatums have achieved nothing in more than half a 
century. In fact, it isolated the United States and damaged our own 
  Consider for a moment what it would mean if we did what these five 
Members of Congress advocate. Not only would we have no Embassy in 
Cuba, but to be consistent we would have to withdraw our Ambassadors 
and impose a unilateral embargo against China, Vietnam, Russia, 
Ethiopia, and many other countries where human rights are routinely 
violated, where political opponents and journalists and defenders of 
human rights are imprisoned and tortured, where there is no such thing 
as a fair trial, where civil society organizations are threatened and 
harassed, and where dissent is severely punished.
  And when we withdraw, others will happily fill the vacuum, as they 
have in Cuba, which trades with countries around the world, including 
with many of our closest allies. In fact, I recall a meeting I had with 
the Ambassadors of at least a dozen European and Asian countries and 
with representatives of major companies from those countries. They told 
me: We love your embargo. Keep your embargo. Our companies can do 
business here and they don't have to compete with American businesses.
  Is that what these isolationist Members of Congress want, or are they 
just concerned about human rights in Cuba? Would they rather have 
Cubans buy rice grown in China or in Louisiana? Would they rather have 
Cubans buy milk from New Zealand as they do now or from the United 
States? Would they prefer that China and Russia build ports and 
airports in Cuba while we lower the flag at our Embassy, pound our 
chest, and demand the Cuban Government to relinquish power? That 
argument is as illogical as it is inconsistent.
  For 55 years, Americans have been free to travel anywhere--Iran, 
Russia, Vietnam, any country in the world--but not to Cuba, which is 
only 90 miles away. One of my fellow Senators, a Republican Senator, 
who has traveled often to Cuba, said: It is one thing if a Communist 
country tells me I cannot come to their country, but I don't want my 
country telling me I can't go there.
  Last year, more than half a million Americans visited Cuba. This 
year, the number is even higher. Even from my little State of Vermont, 
so many people just drive a few miles to the airport in Canada and fly 
down. These Members of Congress want to turn back the clock and make it 
a crime for Americans to travel to only one country in the world--Cuba. 
If North Korea will let you in, you can go there, but not to Cuba. If 
you go to Egypt, which is cracking down on dissent, that is fine, but 
not to Cuba. I could go on and on.
  Fortunately, more Republicans and Democrats in both the House and 
Senate support the right of Americans to travel freely to Cuba, the 
right of U.S. farmers to sell their products on credit to Cuban buyers, 
and the rights of Cuban private entrepreneurs who are already 
benefiting directly from the new opening with the United States. They 
will benefit even more when the U.S. embargo--a failed, self-defeating, 
vindictive policy if there ever was one--has finally ended.
  I have talked with the Cuban owners of these private businesses. They 
say they are now able to make far more money than before because as 
things have opened up, as more Americans travel there, these businesses 
have expanded to meet the growing demand. Those who continue to defend 
the embargo should listen to these people. I hope the President-elect 
will listen to them.
  The purpose of a policy of engagement is to protect and defend the 
interests of the United States and the American people and to promote 
our values and our products. Diplomatic relations is not a reward to a 
foreign government; it is what we do to protect our own interests. Do 
the isolationists think our Embassy in Russia is a reward to President 
Putin, or that having an Ambassador in Moscow somehow conveys that we 
agree with President Putin's corrupt and repressive policies? Does 
anyone think that Russia's Embassy here in Washington is somehow a 
reward to the United States or to President Obama? Does anyone think 
the Cuban Government regards its Ambassador here as a reward to us?
  The United States has interests in every country, even if it is just 
to stand up for the rights of Americans who travel and study or work 
overseas. But there are many other reasons, such as promoting trade and 
investment, protecting national security, law enforcement cooperation, 
and stopping the spread of contagious diseases. These are all in the 
interest of the United States but they are far harder to pursue without 
diplomatic relations.
  We either believe in the benefits of diplomacy or we don't. We either 
empower our diplomats or we don't. Cuba,

[[Page S6935]]

after a year of difficult negotiations, agreed to reopen embassies. 
Americans are traveling to Cuba in record numbers, including 
representatives of American companies, chambers of commerce, and State 
and local government officials. Our two governments have signed new 
agreements paving the way for cooperation on a wide range of issues, 
from the resumption of regular postal and commercial airline service, 
to cooperation on law enforcement and search-and-rescue.
  I urge Members of Congress to get briefed on the many ways our 
countries are cooperating, to our benefit. It might be an eye-opener.
  I understand this is an emotional issue for some Cuban-American 
families, including some who are Members of Congress. I have met with a 
number of these families. But I have also met with many who have gone 
to Cuba even though their property was confiscated by the Cuban 
government, even though they thought they would never go back, but now 
they can go and visit old friends, and they have changed their views.
  In fact, after 55 years, survey after survey, poll after poll shows 
that most Cuban-Americans support the new policy of engagement. They 
want the United States to have an embassy in Havana. They are not 
saying they agree with the Cuban government, but they are saying they 
want the United States to have an embassy in Havana.
  There is a time for family politics, and there is a time for what is 
in the best interest of the Nation as a whole, all 50 States. 
Diplomatic relations serve the national interest.
  I urge these Members of Congress to put what is in the interest of 
the American people above their personal interest. Listen to the 
overwhelming majority of the Cuban and American people. They want the 
policy of engagement to continue because they believe it is the best 
hope for a free and prosperous Cuba.
  Marcelle and I had a delightful time in Vermont a few months ago when 
we went and cheered on a group of Little Leaguers from all over our 
State. They were going to Cuba to play with Little Leaguers in Cuba. 
Marcelle and I gave them an American flag that had been flown over the 
U.S. Capitol. Those kids were grinning from ear to ear while holding 
it, and they sent me pictures of them flying the American flag on the 
baseball fields in Cuba where they were playing ball and being 
photographed, the Cuban teams with their flag and the Vermont team with 
ours. Only a few years ago that would not have happened--the U.S. flag 
flying in Cuba with the Cuban people cheering.
  One of the photographs I remember the most from that trip was taken 
by a member of my office, Lisa Brighenti. The picture was from the 
back, and one team wore red T-shirts and the other wore blue. There 
they were--so much like you see with Little Leaguers--walking off the 
field, their arms around each other's shoulders, and they just played a 
game together. You don't have to see their faces or which T-shirt says 
``United States'' and which one says ``Cuba.'' You know it is one of 
each, and they are together because of their shared love of the game.
  I think of the times during the worst part of the Cold War, and I 
have gone to countries behind what we then called the Iron Curtain. I 
would be talking to Foreign Ministers, Defense Ministers, people in key 
positions, and they would say ``My niece went to Stanford'' or ``My son 
is studying at the University of Kentucky,'' and some would tell me 
about my own alma mater, Georgetown.
  These were openings that everybody from our diplomatic corps to our 
intelligence community would tell me were very important because they 
would learn about us, and, just as importantly, we would learn about 
  So I urge President-Elect Trump to carefully weigh the pros and cons 
of this issue. I believe that if he follows his instincts, if he 
listens to Cuban private entrepreneurs, he, too, will conclude that it 
makes no sense to return to a failed policy of isolation. That policy 
has been used by the Castros as an excuse to justify their grip on 
power and their failed economic policies, it has divided the Cuban and 
American people, and no other country in this hemisphere supports it.
  As that Ambassador said to Marcelle and me: When your flag went up, 
the stone came out of our shoe.
  The Cuban and American people share much in common--our history, our 
cultures, our families, our ideals, our hopes for the future. We are 
neighbors. Our economies are increasingly intertwined. We should no 
longer be isolated from one another.
  As the Castro era ends, our policy today is focused on the next 
generation of Cuban entrepreneurs, activists, students, and leaders. 
They are Cuba's future. We should endeavor to engage with them in every 
way we can. I met with some of them, as did a bipartisan group of House 
and Senate Members, earlier this week. They are bright, motivated young 
people. They are starting their own businesses. What a refreshing 
attitude they have toward life. Will everything change overnight? No. 
But Cuba is changing.
  I want to yield the floor, but before I do, I will say that I will 
speak on this many more times. I think our relationship with Cuba is 
important not only for the United States but for the whole hemisphere. 
The stone has come out of the shoe; let's not put it back in. Let's 
work to help the Cuban people--not the Cuban Government but the Cuban 
people. By helping the Cuban people, we help ourselves.

  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.


  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Madam President, I have several topics to talk about 
today, but I will start with a very important letter that was sent to 
President-Elect Trump by members and friends of the Senate Ukraine 
Caucus. We had 27 Senators, including me, come together to advocate and 
make clear that we wanted to continue the strong United States-
Ukrainian relationship that our two countries have enjoyed for many 
years and to convey our support for Ukraine and ask the President-elect 
and the new administration to support our ally Ukraine and help it 
secure a peaceful and democratic future.
  Almost 3 years after Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and 
military aggression in eastern Ukraine, daily cease-fires along the 
line of contact make a mockery of the Minsk agreement and demonstrate 
that this conflict in the heart of Europe is far from over. Russia has 
yet to withdraw its heavy weapons. It continues to engage in sabotage. 
It has not halted its disinformation war against Ukraine and the West 
nor stopped the economic and political pressure aimed at undermining 
the Ukrainian Government.
  I was in Ukraine last year, and I saw firsthand the struggles that 
their government is having. They have their own internal issues with 
corruption and the like, but they are trying to make for a better 
country, and that is very difficult when you have an outside nation 
that is engaged in the kind of combat that we see from Russia and these 
kinds of interventions. According to conservative estimates from the 
United Nations, approximately 10,000 people have been killed, over 
20,000 wounded, and more than 2 million internally displaced since the 
conflict began.
  We said in our letter--27 Senators, Republicans and Democrats, led by 
Senators Durbin and Portman--that Russia has launched a military 
landgrab in Ukraine that is unprecedented in modern European history, 
and we asked the President-elect to work with us on this very important 
matter so that we may help the Ukrainian people secure their democracy.
  My State has a very strong tradition of Ukrainians. I actually live 
only a few miles from the Ukrainian center in our State. We have a long 
tradition of opening our arms to people from every corner of the globe. 
The people in my own city and State are concerned about the situation 
in Ukraine. There are a lot of people worried about what is going on, 
especially with the new administration coming in, so I think a strong 
statement, followed, of course, by actions from the President-elect 
would be very helpful.
  I have to mention one Ukrainian place that I adore, Kramarczuk, which 
is in my neighborhood. I actually held my first election celebration 
there when I was running for county attorney. Of course, it didn't end 
because we had to go into the next morning. The vote was a little 
close. We didn't know

[[Page S6936]]

the result until maybe noon, but that evening we were at Kramarczuk. 
They have a mural that is literally almost the size of the entire 
backdrop from door to door in the U.S. Senate, and it is a mural they 
have proudly hung of the Statue of Liberty. That mural is there because 
the Kramarczuk family has always believed in a country that brought 
them in as immigrants and refugees.
  I am proud to represent that community and join the other 26 Senators 
in asking the President-elect to continue to support Ukrainians here at 
home but, most importantly, the sovereignty of the country of Ukraine 
and their democratic values.

                               CURES Bill

  Next, I will turn to another issue that is of key importance to this 
body, and that is the passage of the CURES Act, which I know the 
President is going to sign into law. We are very excited about that 
bill. There are several things in that bill that the Presiding Officer 
and I have both worked on. The bill includes opioid funding. Both of 
our States, West Virginia and Minnesota, have seen way too many deaths 
and lives lost early, way too many people experiencing an overdose 
without the help they need for treatment.
  The bill authorizes $1 billion, $500 million a year, to help the many 
families struggling with prescription drug addiction. Senators 
Whitehouse, Portman, Ayotte, and I actually authored the original bill, 
the CARA bill, which set the national framework for dealing with opioid 
addiction. It didn't just include authorizing money for treatment; it 
also included some foundation steps for doing a better job of 
exchanging information among physicians in terms of who is getting 
opioids. I remember one guy I met--a rehab guy up in Moorhead, MN--who 
had a patient that had gotten opioid prescriptions from 85 different 
doctors and medical providers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, 
and Wisconsin. As a State with many States on its borders, we see this 
going on all the time.
  I have built on that with a bill I introduced for a national 
prescription drug monitoring program that I think is very important. 
Senator Cornyn and I did the original bill on a drug take-back program 
to make it easier to get drugs out of medicine cabinets. The CARA bill 
actually built on that, but what was missing from the CARA bill, 
because it was an authorization bill, was the funding. This effort at 
the end contained in the CURES Act is going to be very important in the 
form of grants to our States to get the money out there.
  Second is the research money. Nearly $5 billion will go to NIH to 
help them look for a cure for horrific diseases like cancer and 
Alzheimer's. That money will be critical. We are doing groundbreaking 
work in Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic and also at the University of 
Minnesota, which will be key to finding a cure to these diseases.
  The third thing in the bill that maybe hasn't gotten as much 
attention is the Anna Westin Act. The Presiding Officer and I worked on 
that bill together along with Senator Ayotte and Senator Baldwin--four 
women leading the bill, and we got it done. That bill has been kicking 
around for over a decade. It is a bill that actually came out of Anna 
Westin's untimely death. She was a young girl who struggled with an 
eating disorder and eventually died due to the circumstances related to 
her eating disorder. Her mother, Kitty Westin, has carried her torch. 
She first gave it to Paul Wellstone, her Senator. Paul died way too 
young in that tragic plane crash, and then it was passed on to Senator 
Harkin of Iowa. I was on the bill with him, and when Senator Harkin 
left, I took the bill over and was able to reach across the aisle and 
get the support of the Presiding Officer, Senator Capito, as well as 
Senator Ayotte and then Senator Baldwin. This bill builds on the 
Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to 
clarify that insurance companies must cover residential treatment for 
eating disorders the same way they cover treatment for other mental and 
physical illnesses.
  Over 30 million Americans struggle with eating disorders, including 
over 200,000 people in my State. It is actually the leading cause of 
death from mental illness. People don't realize that, but obviously 
anorexia is a very dangerous disease, as are other eating disorders. 
That one bill has a lot, but we know there is more work to do on 
prescription drugs.
  I see Senator Grassley here. He and I have worked very hard on what 
is called the pay-for-delay bill, which would tell the big 
pharmaceutical companies that they cannot pay the generic companies to 
keep their products off the market. That literally eliminates 
competition, and, from the estimates we have gotten, it would save 
billions of dollars over years. We think that is a really, really, 
really important bill and something we would like to get done.
  I have worked with Senator McCain on legislation that focuses on 
bringing in less expensive drugs from Canada, as well as a bill I have 
to allow for negotiations of prices under Medicare Part D.

                     Tributes to Departing Senators

  Madam President, I will close my remarks by turning to some of our 
retiring Senators and speaking briefly on each one of them.

                               Harry Reid

  We had a beautiful portrait unveiling for Leader Reid yesterday. He 
has been a leader who takes all ideas into consideration, even those of 
newer Members.
  In January of 2007, I began working on ethics reform, and, in fact, I 
asked him if that would be an important priority when he took over as 
leader. It was S. 1, and one of the first bills we passed.
  Senator Reid didn't give new Members the opportunity to lead just on 
big bills. When a little girl in Minnesota named Abbey Taylor was 
maimed while swimming in a pool with a defective drain, Leader Reid 
stood by my side and helped me work with Republicans to get a bill 
passed in honor of Abbey's memory and final wish.
  I met this little girl in the hospital. She went on to live for a 
year. She had been swimming in a kiddie pool when her intestines were 
pulled out by a defective drain due to the way it was installed.
  Her parents never gave up. Scott Taylor, her dad, called me every 
single week to see what was happening with the bill. Honestly, again, 
the bill was moving around and hadn't had any action for years. Ted 
Stevens, who at the time was a Senator from Alaska, helped me. In the 
end, it was Senator Reid, working with others, including Senator Lott, 
and we were able to get that bill on another bill, and we were able to 
pass it.
  To this day my proudest moment in the U.S. Senate was calling Scott 
Taylor and telling him that bill had passed, and then last year hearing 
from the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the Commerce 
Committee that not one child has died because of a defective drain 
since that bill passed. That bill, by the way, was named after James 
Baker's granddaughter, who had also perished in a pool incident. That 
is an example. I don't think it would have happened if Harry Reid 
hadn't been one of our leaders.
  Another example is when we were trying to build a bridge to 
Wisconsin, Senator Johnson and I were working on that issue along with 
House Representative Bachmann, Representative Duffy, and Senator 
Franken, and we had to get everyone signed off on an exemption to the 
Scenic Rivers Act. It was a Saturday, and no one was left in the Senate 
except two or three Members, and I had one Member I couldn't reach who 
had gotten on a plane, but we thought we could still reach him so I 
could get the last signoff to get the bill done. Harry Reid had just 
found out his wife had breast cancer and was waiting at home, but he 
wouldn't go home. He insisted on presiding for me. The leader of the 
Senate sat in the Presiding Officer's chair so I could be back in the 
Republican cloakroom trying to reach the Senator. That happened.
  We didn't get the bill done that day, but the minute we got back in 
January, Senator Reid worked with Senator McConnell, and we were able 
to get that on the agenda and get that exemption. That bridge is going 
up as we speak. It is a massive bridge that had to be built because the 
other bridge was so bad it closed down all the time. People would 
literally cross their fingers when they went over it. That is Senator 
  A lot has happened since he first came to work in Congress as a 

[[Page S6937]]

officer in the halls of the Capitol. But one thing has stayed the same 
about Leader Reid--the true spirit of him. It is the considerate leader 
who will sit up at the presiding desk just to help a freshman pass a 
bill that is important to her and her constituents. It is the kind of 
person who takes the time to talk to a little boy with leukemia and 
show him his favorite pictures right in the middle of the budget 
debate. That happened to me with a kid I brought in his office from 
Minnesota. It is the humble Senator who never forgets that he came from 
Searchlight, NV, and always serves with his home in mind.

  Thank you, Senator Reid, for your service. You will be missed.

                            Barbara Mikulski

  So there are two other Senators who are retiring this week, and one 
of them is Senator Barbara Mikulski. She has been, as the Presiding 
Officer knows, the dean of the women in the Senate for a very, very 
long time. She is the queen of one-liners, and one of my favorite ones 
is one she uses when she talks about women elected officials. She 
always says: We see things not just at the macro level but at the 
macaroni-and-cheese level.
  After a few years when I had been in the Senate, she called us into 
the President's Room--a number of the women Senators--to gear up for a 
debate that mattered to the women of this country. She, literally--
being short, as she is--stood on the couch in that room and said: Gear 
up. Square your shoulders. Put your lipstick on. Get ready for the 
  Now, at the time, I was not even sure what the revolution was. I was 
thinking all the time that she had probably used that line for maybe 
much weightier things. But that is her life. She is an advocate. She is 
a leader. She is someone who has championed the women of the Senate and 
all women in elected office. She is the one who was here first, of her 
own making. She is not someone who took over a seat after a husband or 
father had died. She ran, and she ran on her own merit, and she leaves 
on her own merit. She leaves on the merit of passing incredibly 
important bills for Maryland, incredibly important legislation for this 
country. I will miss her as a mentor, and we will always miss her 

                             Barbara Boxer

  Finally, there is Senator Barbara Boxer, who joined the Senate in 
1993. When I got to the Senate, I was on the Environment Committee. She 
was the new chair. I got to see firsthand her advocacy--her advocacy on 
climate change, her advocacy on transportation and waterway 
infrastructure--and the way she would just never give up when she 
decided something was right for her State and right for the country.
  But the one thing is that everyone talks about Barbara Boxer's fiery 
advocacy and her incredible humor and tenacity. Sometimes, I think 
people forget how productive she has been when she worked across the 
aisle. I saw firsthand how she was able to work with Senator Inhofe on 
the transportation bill and then later with Senator McConnell on the 
last transportation bill.
  She is someone who has credibility on our side of the aisle. When she 
says she is willing to make a compromise with the Republicans, people 
listen. She never gave up. She would have dinners at Italian 
restaurants. She would find ways, in kind of a mom's way, to get 
everyone together. She passed some really incredible legislation, 
including water infrastructure legislation with Senator Vitter over the 
last few years.
  That is what she has done. I can't think of anyone whom we are going 
to miss more in terms of that presence and that kind of hardscrabble 
advocacy, which is always coupled with the pragmatic way of getting 
important bills done. So we are going to miss Senator Reid, Senator 
Mikulski, and, also, Senator Boxer.

                              Kelly Ayotte

  I would also like to add that, of the Republican Senators who are 
leaving, I have enjoyed a very strong working relationship with Senator 
Ayotte. She and I have worked together on opioids. We have worked 
together a lot on the issue of the eating disorder bill. I am glad that 
in her final weeks in the Senate, we have been able to pass that 
important legislation that embraced so many of her priorities.

                               Dan Coats

  I also worked at length with Senator Coats. We both serve on the 
Joint Economic Committee. He has shown great leadership there, and 
also, again, an ability to work across the aisle. He believes strongly 
in civility and in getting to know your fellow Senators. We are going 
to miss him dearly for his pleasant way and his ability to cross over 
the aisle and work together. I also want to thank him for the work he 
did on an adoption bill that we worked on together.
  There are many other Senators whom we wish well to. There is Senator 
Kirk and the work he has done on the Great Lakes priorities. We have 
worked on that together, as well as all of his leadership in the area 
of international relations.
  Madam President, I see that the Senator from Iowa, Mr. Grassley, is 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.

                           Executive Actions

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, for the last 8 years, we have seen 
President Obama's administration take action after action and do it 
without regard for concerns expressed by the American people or their 
elected representatives in Congress, which amount to a great deal of 
unconstitutional or at least contrary-to-statute Executive overreach.
  The Obama administration used Executive fiat to push sweeping 
regulations with little thought about damage to American jobs. The 
Obama administration has repeatedly stretched its authority beyond 
limits set by Congress in law. It has twisted the same laws and even 
the Constitution itself to justify this Executive overreach. Despite 
early promises of transparency, it has kept the American people and the 
Congress in the dark about many of its most significant decisions.
  Americans are right, then, to be frustrated with what they see as 
more unnecessary burdens and unchecked abuses being handed down by an 
out-of-reach bureaucracy. In November, they made their voices heard. So 
now we are going to have a new President on January 20. President-Elect 
Trump has said that he intends to roll back the mess of harmful 
regulations and Executive power grabs of the last 8 years.
  He is certainly going to have his hands full, as we all know. But 
there is plenty that we can do to begin the process on January 20. 
President Obama's tenure has brought about an unprecedented expansion 
of the regulatory state. By some estimates, bureaucratic redtape now 
places a $2 trillion burden on the Nation's economy. You know who pays 
for that? The American people do.
  I don't doubt that there are some good intentions behind every new 
rule. But the notion that so-called experts in Washington, DC, need to 
regulate every aspect of our lives does not make much sense to many of 
the Iowans I talk to. They are hoping that a President Trump will bring 
common sense to Washington, DC.
  Take, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency's waters of 
the United States rule. It is often referred to by acronym WOTUS. This 
rule seeks to expand what the government can regulate under the Clean 
Water Act. Congress intentionally limited EPA's reach under the law to 
what is termed navigable waterways. But the WOTUS rule would subject 97 
percent of the land in my State of Iowa to EPA bureaucratic burdens.
  I assume it does the same in several other States. But I have only 
checked on Iowa. So 97 percent of the land to be regulated by the EPA 
bureaucracy is just an impossible situation. Think about that. Every 
homeowner, every contractor, and every farmer would need to seek a 
Federal permit for projects requiring the simple task of moving dirt, 
even if it is nowhere near an actual body of water. That, of course, 
means more paperwork, more time wasted, and, of course, more money 
spent to get Federal permits for activities that this Congress never 
intended the Federal Government to regulate.
  A bipartisan majority of both Houses of Congress has voiced its 
disapproval of the WOTUS rule, and a Federal appeals court has placed a 
nationwide stay on its implementation. Yet I continue to hear concerns, 
regardless of the court case, that some in the EPA

[[Page S6938]]

are going to move forward with the rule's implementation, causing 
unnecessary fear and confusion among farmers and landowners.
  So on day one, President Trump should direct his administration to 
stop defending the WOTUS rule in the Federal courts where it is now 
held up. He should also direct his EPA to immediately stop implementing 
or enforcing the rule while the Agency begins the rulemaking process to 
take it off the books once and for all. It is not just official 
regulations that have sparked concern over the last 8 years, the Obama 
administration has also used Executive actions, agency guidance 
documents, and legal interpretations to push its agenda, leaving 
Congress and the American people in the dark.
  Often this has been done with disturbing results. In 2014, the Obama 
administration acted unilaterally to release five senior-level Taliban 
commanders who were being held at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for SGT 
Bowe Bergdahl. Now, that is contrary to law.
  Despite the requirements of law, the administration never notified 
Congress, as the law requires, prior to this prisoner's transfer. The 
law required the administration to provide Congress with a detailed 
statement of the basis for the release, an explanation for why it is in 
our national security interests, and a plan to prevent the prisoners 
from returning to the battlefield.
  Instead, Congress heard only crickets. The administration provided no 
notice to the Congress, no legal justification for the release, and no 
plan to prevent these Taliban commanders from reentering a fight that 
has already spilled so much blood of America's sons and daughters.
  One reporter said the Taliban has been more transparent about this 
exchange than the Obama administration. Even the nonpartisan Government 
Accountability Office later concluded that the administration acted 
illegally. Well, it is pretty clear. The law says that you have to give 
Congress 30 days' notice. They didn't give any notice.
  There were and still are, then, serious questions about whether 
releasing these detainees from Guantanamo was a good idea, even to the 
extent to which the law was violated. So I asked this administration to 
disclose the legal advice that the Department of Justice apparently 
provided that justified its failure to notify Congress in a timely 
way--in other words, a justification for ignoring the law.
  But the Department of Justice refused to do that. The public deserves 
a full and transparent accounting of why the administration believed it 
could disregard the law. On day one, then, President Trump should order 
the Justice Department to produce any legal advice that it concocted to 
excuse the Obama administration from its obligation to notify Congress 
of this decision 30 days before the release, because that is what the 
law says.
  Unfortunately, this isn't the only legal opinion the Obama 
administration has used to avoid scrutiny of its actions. The Justice 
Department also brewed up a ludicrous legal opinion to block government 
watchdogs from accessing Federal records needed in the course of 
congressional oversight. If this year has taught us anything, it is 
that the government needs more oversight, not less.
  It is unbelievable that a handful of unelected bureaucrats would try 
to defy the Congress and the people it represents by ignoring that law. 
Unfortunately, it hasn't stopped with the case I just cited.
  The Obama administration practically treats a congressional subpoena 
as if it were a freedom of information request rather than a 
constitutionally mandated inquiry from a coequal branch of government. 
This very issue is now being debated in the courts.
  But it is not just Congress that can't get information; the press and 
private citizens have had their freedom of information requests 
regularly met with very long delays, if they get any response at all. 
You know it is bad when the New York Times calls this White House the 
most secretive in more than two decades.
  President Trump should take steps to reverse this trend of more 
secrecy in government because more transparency in government will 
bring more accountability. On day one, he should direct his agency 
heads to cooperate with congressional inquiries, inspector general 
investigations, and FOIA requests, and he should empower government 
  Whistleblowers expose facts about wrongdoing and incompetence inside 
the vast Federal bureaucracy, often at risk of their own career and 
their own reputations and, in some cases, I found out, even their 
  Without whistleblowers, Americans would be none the wiser that, for 
instance, the Justice Department walked guns that put law enforcement 
agents in jeopardy--that is the Fast and Furious investigation I did--
or that the EB-5 investor visa program is riddled with fraud, or that 
agencies spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars every year to pay 
employees under investigation for misconduct who simply sit at home on 
paid leave. Information provided by whistleblowers under the Securities 
and Exchange Commission Whistleblower Program has brought in more than 
$584 million in financial sanctions. The Internal Revenue Service has 
collected more than $3 billion in tax revenues since 2007 thanks to 
whistleblowers under a piece of legislation I got passed in 2006, I 
believe it was.
  Since I pushed to empower and protect whistleblowers under the False 
Claims Act way back in 1986, the Federal Government has recovered more 
than $48 billion in taxpayers' money lost to fraud. That simple, 
quantifiable information is a good deal. But these brave employees 
often face retaliation from their own ranks. So I am going to suggest 
that if President Trump is going to be very serious about fixing the 
Federal bureaucracy, he should empower these patriotic citizens to help 
us identify fraud, abuse, and misconduct so that we can get this 
government working again.
  I will propose to the President-elect, when I get a chance to talk to 
him, something I have proposed to every President since Reagan. And no 
President, of course, has done this, and maybe it is ridiculous for me 
to think President Trump will do it, but he is coming to Washington to 
shake things up. I will suggest to him, to empower whistleblowers, who 
know there is fraud and who are patriotic people who want fraud 
corrected, that he hold a Rose Garden ceremony honoring whistleblowers, 
and maybe do it once a year so that they know that the tone from the 
top--that the new Commander in Chief has the backs of these patriotic 
soldiers for good government whom we call whistleblowers.
  Of course, what I have gone through in these remarks as I finish is 
far from an exhaustive list, but the common thread in all of this is 
that the Obama administration frequently failed to take care that the 
laws be faithfully executed as required by our Constitution. When that 
doesn't happen and Congress lets a President get away with it, then we 
are not upholding our oath to the Constitution, which basically says 
that Congress passes the law and they ought to be a check on the 
executive branch to see that the laws are faithfully executed. The 
person coming to town to drain the swamp--a person by the name of 
Trump--should prioritize these failures and begin to restore the 
executive branch to its proper place in government consistent with the 
checks and balances outlined in our Constitution. These actions will 
help the new President make good on his pledge to fix the Federal 
bureaucracy and do what he said last night on television in Des Moines, 
IA--put Americans first.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Dakota.
  Ms. HEITKAMP. Madam President, before I begin my remarks on why I 
came down to the floor today, I would like to join with my colleague 
from Iowa in saying it is a very good idea to have a Rose Garden 
ceremony talking about whistleblowers, supporting people who want to do 
the right thing in the bureaucracy, and I am willing to work with him 
in any way that is appropriate to talk about what we need to do to make 
sure that whistleblowers in our bureaucracy have the protection and the 
appreciation. There are many great people in government who see things 
every day. We spend a lot of time in our Subcommittee on Homeland 
Security talking about what we can do to get those good ideas from the 
bureaucracy, those good ideas from

[[Page S6939]]

folks who actually work in the government percolated up to the Congress 
and implemented. So I applaud the work he has done on whistleblowers.
  Senator Grassley, I look forward to having another conversation about 
what we can do to put America first by making sure our public employees 
have an opportunity to feel pride in what they do every day, knowing 
that they are working for a cause in the most efficient, effective 
manner for the American people. I applaud your work.

        Coal Miners' Health Care and Pensions and the Ex-Im Bank

  Madam President, I want to talk a little bit about this past 
election. There has been a lot of Monday night quarterbacking about 
what happened. I guess you can't say that anymore now that they play 
football on Monday nights, but there has been a lot of backseat driving 
over what happened.
  For this Senator, the message of this election could not be clearer 
that people who go to work every day--particularly those people who 
shower when they come home at night or come home in the morning if they 
are working shift--feel like we left them behind. They feel like things 
happened to them that are unexplainable to them even though they are 
working as hard as they can. They think that the government and the 
people in Washington, DC, aren't working for them and they are getting 
left behind.
  Now there is an important opportunity to work in a bipartisan way to 
learn the lessons of this past election and to stand up and fight for 
American workers, to listen to American workers and hear about the 
challenges they have and to respond to those challenges, especially 
when those challenges clearly represent injustice. Every person in 
America being told these stories would say that shouldn't happen. There 
is no clearer indication of a ``that shouldn't happen'' story today 
than in the dialogue and debate in Washington, DC, and what is 
happening to the coal miners in this country.
  Last night, I stood with 20 to 30 coal miners from the Presiding 
Officer's State. These are good people who work hard--and I know the 
Presiding Officer has been fighting for them as well--who simply want 
what they have earned. They simply want the opportunity to take care of 
their families and the people in their communities. You know, it was 
pretty cold out when we were standing out there. A number of the 
reporters were giving me a hard time because, being from North Dakota, 
everybody assumes it is always 20 below zero there, even in July, and I 
had some choice words. I said: You know, we were only out there for 
about 20 minutes in the cold, but if we leave here without a clear 
message, without an opportunity for those miners to know not only that 
we care but know that we are making their concerns a top priority, then 
they will be left out in the cold for a lot longer than 20 minutes by 
this Congress.
  I made the point that there is a coal miner on the flag in West 
Virginia but there is also a farmer on the flag in West Virginia. That 
farmer, for me, represents the people who I know built the country in 
my State. We don't have coal miners who went underground, but we have a 
lot of coal miners who helped build our region. This is a moment where 
we can say to people who go to work every day, people who believe and 
built this country, whose ancestors built this country, that they are 
going to get what they earned--not what they deserve but what they 
  When you look at many of the miners in these communities, there isn't 
a lot of economic opportunity and there aren't a lot of other jobs 
available. They risked their health, but they took that risk knowing 
they were going to get something in return: financial stability for 
their families. Suddenly, they are told that all they bargained for and 
all they agreed to is gone. There is something wrong with that. There 
is something wrong when we don't learn the lessons of the last 
  The other reason I react personally to this is I see the string that 
goes back to what is happening with Central States Pension Fund in my 
State. My good friend from Minnesota has joined with me in many of the 
efforts that we had on Central States to hear the stories of people who 
worked hard at a time when people were lifting packages and delivering 
goods with much heavier weight requirements than we have today. They 
talk about the surgeries they had, the hip replacements and knee 
replacements, and they talk about why they did it--to put food on the 
table for their families. Will all of that go away because of an 
irresponsible financial sector that destroyed this economy and made it 
virtually impossible for these pension funds to cash flow?
  I think it is time that we stand up for these workers. I think it is 
time that we take the right fight.
  I came to the floor and listened as Presiding Officer when we were in 
the majority, and I wish I had a dollar for every time someone talked 
about the American people and the American worker and what they were 
going to do for them. We now have an opportunity to do a lot. We have 
an opportunity not only to give the people who earned financial 
security the financial security they earned, but we have an opportunity 
to make sure we have good American jobs.
  There is another provision that got left behind despite a lot of 
people who support it, and that is the ``Buy American'' provision, 
which is in the WRDA bill. The ``Buy American'' provision has broad-
based support throughout this country, but yet when we get into the 
Halls of Congress, we cannot negotiate and get it done.

  Finally, I wish to talk about something on the floor that I have 
spent a lot of time talking about; that is, the Ex-Im Bank. We started 
basically shutting down the Ex-Im to any new credit by not 
reauthorizing it. Guess what. We got it reauthorized by huge 
majorities, a huge majority in the Senate and over 70 percent in the 
  Victory, right? Well, guess what. We cannot make any deal over $10 
million at the Ex-Im Bank unless we have a quorum. We have 
singlehandedly seen this body hold up the quorum at the Ex-Im Bank. 
People want to say this is simply about: Well, why do you want to bail 
out or help out GE? Why do you stand for Caterpillar? Why do you stand 
for Westinghouse? Why do you stand for Boeing? Those are the big 
  That is an argument that so misunderstands what happens in America. 
To give you an example, Boeing has 16 suppliers just in North Dakota. 
Boeing, with the ability to sell airplanes across the country and 
across the world, means we get good jobs in North Dakota, good jobs we 
will lose out on.
  I have said it once, I have said it many times. I don't stand here 
and cry for the CEOs of GE or Boeing. That is not whom I am standing 
for. I am standing here begging this body to basically get the Ex-Im 
Bank approved once again. I will tell you why--because $20 billion or 
$30 billion of deals are waiting for us to get a quorum. What does that 
mean? That $20 billion supports over 116,000 jobs in America. If those 
CEOs are forced, by a lack of export credit assistance, if they are 
forced to take those jobs overseas--which they already have, thousands 
have already left this country--that means workers in this country 
don't get those jobs. Once again, people say: Well, what kind of 
government subsidy is this?
  In the face of the reality that the Ex-Im Bank actually returns 
dollars to the Treasury of this country, we are going to shut down the 
Ex-Im Bank and continue to keep it hobbled to the point where it cannot 
do its job, it cannot allow our manufacturing interests to be 
  As we leave this Congress and we open up the opportunity for further 
dialogue, I hope all the rhetoric we have heard over and over again 
about American jobs, American workers, and about American opportunity--
I hope we live up to that rhetoric. I hope we take the steps we need to 
take to guarantee that American workers come first whenever we set our 
policies. There is no better place to address these pension concerns, 
there is no better place than the ``Buy American'' provisions, and 
there certainly is no easier way to get an immediate result than to get 
the Ex-Im Bank up and running. It is a tragedy that we are so unwilling 
to do this, not because it doesn't make huge common sense but because 
it doesn't fit in with an ideological position that was taken by the 
hard right against the vast majority of American interests and 
certainly the majority of people in this body.

[[Page S6940]]

  With that, I turn to my colleague from the great State of Minnesota 
for her comments.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Madam President, I stand here today with two 
incredibly strong women, Senator Heitkamp of North Dakota and Senator 
Shaheen of New Hampshire--and of course the Presiding Officer as well 
from the great State of West Virginia. I think we all approach our jobs 
with a certain pragmatism about what matters. It is not about what is 
left or what is right, it is about what is right for the people of this 
country. The two issues the Senator from North Dakota has raised are 
both incredibly important for these workers. When people have felt 
nickel-and-dimed and pushed down by the system, they can't always put a 
bill number on what that means. They can always put a number on how 
things have changed and why they feel like, hey, my cable bill is 
eating me up or, hey, I can't get a mortgage or I can't send my kid to 
college, but we know that is happening now. We in this Chamber know 
what is going on.
  The two things the Senator from North Dakota mentioned are both 
things we could do for the people of America. The first is to stand 
with the coal miners of West Virginia, promises made should be promises 
kept. It was Barbara Jordan of Texas, who once said: What the American 
people want is something quite simple--they want a country as good as 
its promise. These coal miners were promised things. Over 70 years ago, 
President Harry Truman brokered an agreement that provided health and 
pension benefits for coal miners in the United Mine Workers of America 
Health and Retirement Funds. The Coal Act and its 2006 amendments 
showed the continuing commitment to the health and retirement security 
of our Nation's miners and their families. Yet, in October, 
approximately 12,500 retired coal miners and widows received notices 
telling them their health care benefits would be cut off at the end of 
this year--retired miners and widows. Then, in November, another 3,600 
notices went out. That is over 16,000 people who will lose their health 
care coverage. I know negotiations are going on as we speak, but we 
urge our colleagues and the leadership in the Senate to do all they can 
for these miners, many of whom are in the State of the Presiding 
  As Senator Heitkamp mentioned, we have a similar situation with the 
Central States Pension Plan, 14,000 Minnesotans. I just met with 300 of 
them this weekend. The plan that was originally proposed was actually 
rejected by the Treasury Department because it was so unfair to these 
workers. They are continuing to look for a solution.
  Lastly, I say about the coal miners, in Minnesota, we have iron ore 
miners. So while your miners might be covered in black soot, ours are 
covered in red iron ore.
  My grandpa worked most of his life underground in the mines in Ely, 
MN. He had to quit school when he was in sixth grade because his 
parents were sick and he was the oldest boy of nine kids. He went to 
work pulling a wagon. When he was old enough as a teenager, he went to 
work in those iron ore mines. In sixth grade he quit school. He had 
dreamed of a career in the Navy. Instead, every single day he went down 
in a cage 1,500 feet underground with a little black lunch pail that my 
grandma packed for him every single day. His youngest sister had to go 
to an orphanage, and he promised we would go and get her. In a year and 
a half after he got the job and married my grandma, he went back, got 
his little sister Hannah, brought her back and raised her. That is our 
family story. It is a mining story.
  I always think about what he thought when he went down in that cage 
every day--that career in the Navy, or out in the woods where he loved 
to hunt. Instead, he did that job. He did that job for his family, his 
two kids, and then the rest of his brothers and sisters because he knew 
if he worked hard, he would be able to support them because there would 
be a pension, because there would be health care, because he wouldn't 
die--like his own father--leaving behind kids, with the oldest one 
being 21 years old. That didn't happen. My grandpa raised two boys. One 
became an engineer. And my dad, the other boy, went to a 2-year college 
that was paid for at the time, went on to get a journalism degree, and 
became a reporter who interviewed everyone from Mike Ditka to Ronald 
Reagan, to Ginger Rogers. That is America, and these coal miners 
deserve that same support.
  Another part of our State which believes if you work hard every day 
you should be able to get where you want to go are those who work in 
manufacturing, those who work in the rural parts of our State. I don't 
think they would ever put together the Ex-Im Bank--that Senator 
Heitkamp has gathered us to talk about today--with their own 
livelihoods. That is a very complex matter about a guy getting 
confirmed on the Bank, but, in fact, it is true. Because while we have 
saved the Ex-Im Bank, which finances so many hundreds of small 
businesses in Minnesota that wouldn't be able to deal with going to a 
big major bank, we still haven't confirmed someone for that Board. 
Getting that person confirmed for that Board and through the Senate 
would mean the Ex-Im Bank could go back to its functional levels of 
financing major transactions.
  That is why we are here, to ask the Senate to support the nomination 
of J. Mark McWatters to serve as a member of the Board of Directors. I 
join my colleagues to do that.
  On January 11, the Senate Banking Committee received the nomination 
of McWatters to fill the Republican vacancy on the Board. This is a 
Republican candidate we are asking the Senate to confirm, but it is 333 
days and counting since he has been nominated.
  In 2015, I remember bringing together a group of small businesses 
from all over the country to talk about the importance of the Ex-Im 
Bank, to hear their stories of how they are going to go under if they 
are not allowed to continue their financing. Mostly, at a time when we 
are dealing with the winds of global competition being blown at us 
every single day, to be at such a disadvantage to other developed 
nations that have Ex-Im-type banks, that have financing authority--and 
it is not just China that is going to eat our lunch unless we can help 
businesses get over $10 million in financing. They must be laughing at 
us over there. There are about 85 credit export agencies in over 60 
other countries, including all major exporting countries. Why would we 
want to make it harder for our own companies to create jobs here at 
home and then allow these other countries to have financing agencies 
that compete with us. That is exactly what is going on right now. The 
Ex-Im Bank has supported $17 billion in exports. Those are American 
jobs, 17 billion. It has a cap of $135 billion. That sounds like a lot, 
but an article in the Financial Times showed that the China Development 
Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China combined had an estimated $684 
billion in total development finance. These two banks combined provide 
five times as much financing as the Ex-Im Bank, with its cap of $135 
  As Senator Heitkamp explained, this is about jobs, and it is as 
simple as that. In FY2015, Ex-Im financing supported 109,000 U.S. jobs. 
Since we reauthorized the Ex-Im Bank, nearly 650 transactions have been 
approved. Now it is about time that we put the person on the Board--the 
Republican nominee--so the Bank can go back to fully functioning and be 
able to make transactions that are worth over $10 million. Without a 
quorum and Board approval, Ex-Im is not able to adopt any of the 
accountability measures or update the loan limits so American 
businesses have access to the financing they need to compete globally.
  Here we are, three Democratic Senators on the floor simply asking the 
Senate to move ahead to confirm a Republican nominee. That may be 
irony, but it is irony that is on the backs of the American people and 
we need to get it done.
  Madam President, I yield the floor to the Senator from New Hampshire.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I am pleased to join my colleagues 
Senator Heitkamp of North Dakota and Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota. I 
represent New Hampshire so I think we have three major regions of the 
country represented to talk about why we need to make the appointments 
to allow the Ex-Im Bank to continue to do their transactions.

[[Page S6941]]

  As my colleagues have said, Ex-Im has a five-member Board of 
Directors. In order to consider transactions that exceed $10 million, 
they have to have a quorum--three people. Right now, again, as Senator 
Klobuchar and Senator Heitkamp explained, there isn't a quorum so they 
cannot continue to do transactions worth over $10 million. That is 
having a real impact on companies across this country.
  After a period where Ex-Im was not reauthorized in 2016, where they 
were not able to do business, we finally got that legislation through. 
They were able to begin operating again.
  In 2016, they were able to support about 52,000 U.S. jobs by 
authorizing more than $5 billion in transactions--2,000, almost 3,000 
export transactions.
  At the same time, Ex-Im returned $283.9 million to the U.S. Treasury 
and maintained a default rate of 0.266 percent. That is a pretty good 
record, but, by comparison, the last year that Ex-Im was fully 
operational, they authorized more than $20 billion in almost 4,000 
transactions in 2014 when they were fully operational. Those 
transactions supported 164,000 U.S. jobs and returned $674 million to 
the Treasury.

  So one might ask: What is wrong with this picture? Why is the Senate 
Banking Committee holding up the person who would allow Ex-Im to 
continue to operate at its full capacity and allow it to continue to 
help with job creation?
  We have seen this very directly in New Hampshire. New Hampshire is a 
small State. We are a small business State. Yet we are the State that 
Ex-Im chose when they rolled out their small business program to help 
small businesses with the financing they needed to export. One of those 
first people to take advantage of that program was Boyle Energy 
Services & Technology. Their CEO, Michael Boyle, says that without Ex-
Im, he would have to consider offshoring production in order to 
continue to grow his business.
  Now, BEST does 90 percent of its business overseas, and it relies on 
Ex-Im for working capital guarantees. They are not doing a lot of 
transactions over $10 million, but we have a lot of companies in New 
Hampshire that are doing transactions over $10 million and that are 
subcontractors to big companies that are doing those transactions. So 
in New Hampshire, we have General Electric, which is very dependent and 
needs those exports and that financing. We have a growing aerospace 
industry that includes companies like New Hampshire Ball Bearings, and 
it includes companies like Albany Engineered Composites, which worked 
on the Dreamliner with Boeing.
  I talked to the CEO of Albany after he came back from the Paris Air 
Show a couple of years ago. He said: The people who are getting the 
jobs, getting the accounts, are the companies that can provide 
financing around the world.
  We make a lot of things in New Hampshire. We have a robust 
manufacturing industry because we have companies such as Boyle Energy 
Services & Technology, New Hampshire Ball Bearings, GE, and BAE. Yet we 
are hamstringing those businesses and their ability to continue to grow 
jobs, to continue to grow their business because we are not willing to 
make one appointment to the Ex-Im Bank that would allow us to create 
jobs in this country and that sends money back to the Treasury.
  For all of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are so 
concerned about the fiscal health of this Nation--and I think we share 
that concern on the Democratic side--why would you not reauthorize and 
make sure that an agency like the Ex-Im Bank is fully operational, can 
create jobs, and can return money to the Treasury? It boggles my mind 
that, because of this ideological battle, we are not willing to do what 
is practical, what is in the interests of our businesses, of job 
creation, of making sure that we can compete around the world with 
other companies that are making things.
  So I share the concern we heard from Senator Heitkamp and from 
Senator Klobuchar, which is that the longer we delay in approving the 
nomination of Mark McWatters, the longer we delay in making sure that 
Ex-Im is fully operational, the more jobs will be lost, the more 
difficult it will be for companies to compete, and the more money that 
will be lost to the U.S. Treasury.
  So I hope that under the new administration there is more of a 
willingness on the part of my colleagues to actually approve these 
nominations and to move government forward so that we can create jobs 
and we can address the economic challenges that too many people in this 
country are facing.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                         Remembering John Glenn

  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about the heroin and 
prescription drug epidemic that has gripped our country and my State of 
Ohio. But first, let me just say a word about John Glenn.
  I spoke on the floor yesterday about his passing. We lost him 
yesterday afternoon, at age 95. A true icon, his life was really the 
life of our country, over the time period from when he joined his 
fellow Mercury astronauts and was the first person to orbit the Earth 
to the time that he served here in the Senate and went on to found the 
Glenn College at Ohio State University--an amazing life.
  Later today we are going to ask the full Senate to vote on a 
resolution that Senator Sherrod Brown, my colleague from Ohio, and I 
are working on. We hope to have that resolution voted on successfully 
and allow the entire Senate to pay tribute to a remarkable American 
life--a former colleague of ours and one whose seat I am very humbled 
and honored to hold today--and that is John Glenn. We will be bringing 
that up later during the day.

                       Opioid Addiction Epidemic

  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, today I wish to talk about an issue that 
this Congress has focused on more in the last few months and to commend 
the Congress on that but also to continue to raise awareness of it and 
allow all of us the opportunity to figure out how we can do more--in 
our own way, in our own communities, in our own homes--to be able to 
address it. It is now to the point where we have somebody in our great 
country dying of an overdose every 12 minutes. One American is losing 
his or her life every 12 minutes. In my own State of Ohio, we have been 
particularly hard hit by this. We lose one Ohioan every few hours.
  The statistics are overwhelming. It is now the No. 1 cause of 
accidental death in our country. It has been the case in Ohio since 
2007. But behind those statistics are faces, families, and communities.
  A 4-year-old boy recently came into his bedroom in Cleveland, OH, in 
the Old Brooklyn neighborhood, and he found his dad dead of an 
overdose--30 years old. That was just in the news this week.
  A few weeks ago, there were two men in Sandusky, OH, who were found 
unconscious in a parking lot. Somebody was there and recorded both 
their overdose and the first responders coming. The Sandusky first 
responders found them barely breathing and brought them back to life 
with this miracle drug called Narcan, or naloxone. These first 
responders saved their lives, as they saved 16,000 lives last year in 
Ohio. This year it will be an even larger number, as we find out after 
the year closes. But this video is not for the faint of heart. It is 
now out on the Internet. Some have probably seen it. It has gone viral. 
But it shows what these first responders and our communities are 
dealing with every single day.
  I have talked to firefighters around the State, and the Sandusky 
firefighters are no exception. They tell me that they have responded to 
more overdoses than they have fires over the past year--more overdoses 
than they have fires. These are firefighters who are, again, saving 
lives every day.
  When I was in Canton, OH, last week, I was told there had been twice 
as many overdose deaths this year already as last year. Again, the 
firefighters and other first responders tell me it is their No. 1 focus 
and concern.
  When I talk to county prosecutors and sheriffs around Ohio, they also 
tell me it is the No. 1 cause of crime in each of their counties in 
Ohio, whether

[[Page S6942]]

it is a rural county, an urban county, or a suburban county. It is 
everywhere. It knows no ZIP Code. This problem is one that, 
unfortunately, has gripped our country like no other.
  I started off working on this issue over 20 years ago, when cocaine, 
marijuana, and, later, methamphetamines were an issue. Certainly, all 
those drugs are horrible. Our prevention efforts led to what was called 
the Drug Free Communities Act, which was passed to be able to help 
address this issue. Over 2,000 community coalitions have now been 
formed as a result of that. But this new wave of addiction, in my view, 
is worse. It is worse in terms of the number of overdoses and deaths. 
It is worse in terms of the impact on families, tearing them apart. It 
is worse than the crimes it creates, mostly with people creating more 
and more crime to be able to feed their habit. It is worse in terms of 
the ability to get people back on track, to help them with treatment 
and recovery. It is a very difficult addiction.
  The Congress, including this body, has taken action, and I appreciate 
that. Let me tell you why we need to take action.
  I talked about these two men in Sandusky, OH, who were found 
unconscious and had overdosed. This was something where someone video-
recorded the first responders coming and saving their lives. When one 
of these men was revived, Michael Williams, this is what he said:

       I have a problem. If I could get help I would. I need it 
     and I want it.

  I believe that if someone needs treatment for addiction and they are 
willing to get it, we ought to be able to provide it. That is why it is 
important that Congress be involved, that State legislatures be 
involved, that we be involved in our communities to ensure that when 
someone is ready to get that treatment, it is accessible.
  I have met with addicts and their families all over our State. I have 
probably met with several hundred addicts or recovering addicts just in 
the last couple years alone as we have put together this legislation 
and tried to work on something that is actually evidence-based and will 
help. So many of them tell me they are ready.
  One grieving father told me his daughter had been in and out of 
treatment centers. Finally, after several years of trying to deal with 
her addiction, she acknowledged that she was ready. He personally took 
her to a treatment center in Ohio. They told him and told her that they 
would love to help, but they were fully booked. They didn't have a bed 
available. They would hope to have one within a couple of weeks. During 
those 14 days, he found his daughter in her bedroom having overdosed, 
and she died.
  Those stories are heart-wrenching, yet they are stories from every 
one of our States. So access to treatment is important and access to 
longer term recovery is important so people can get back on track to 
lead healthy, productive lives once again.
  It is also really important that we do a better job on prevention and 
education. Ultimately, to keep people out of the funnel of addiction is 
the most effective way to deal with this issue. We need to redouble our 
efforts there and to raise awareness, among other things, of the 
connection between prescription drugs and heroin and these other 
synthetic heroins, these opioids, because four out of five heroin 
addicts in your State--you are representing a State here in this body--
probably started with prescription drugs and then shifted over to 
  There is an opportunity for us to do more about that by raising that 
awareness, because when people learn more about that connection, they 
are smarter about the danger that is inherent in taking these often-
narcotic painkillers that are sometimes overprescribed.
  To raise awareness about this issue, I have come to the floor every 
week we have been in session since February. This is now our 29th 
speech about this issue--the opportunity to talk about it, to raise 
awareness about it. I will say again that over the course of those 29 
weeks, a lot of things have happened by raising awareness.
  One is, this body passed legislation called the Comprehensive 
Addiction and Recovery Act, otherwise known as CARA. We passed it in 
this Chamber after taking it through committee after 3 years of work--
conferences, bringing people in from around the country, experts. The 
legislation focuses on how to come up with a better way to do 
prevention, education, treatment, recovery, and to help our first 
responders with naloxone--this Narcan miracle drug--provide training, 
help get the prescription drugs off the shelves, drug take-back 
  All of this resulted in CARA passing this body by a vote of 92 to 2. 
That never happens around here. It was overwhelming bipartisan support 
for legislation that is needed. This past summer, late this summer, 
President Obama signed that legislation into law, and it is now being 
implemented. I commend the administration for moving as quickly as 
  There are a couple of programs that are already up and running. We 
have now provided, for instance, for nurse practitioners and physicians 
assistants to be able to help with regard to medication-assisted 
treatment. That is something that was urgent in my home State of Ohio 
and other places, the need to have more people able to help recovering 
addicts get back on track. That is happening right now. That is already 
being implemented.
  Other aspects of the legislation, including some of the prevention 
programs and the national awareness campaign on connecting prescription 
drugs to heroin, are still being put into effect. Today, I again urge 
the administration to move as quickly as possible and for the 
administration-elect, the new administration, to be prepared to step in 
to ensure that this legislation moves quickly.
  I think the legislation, CARA, is probably the most important anti-
drug legislation we have passed in this body in at least two decades. 
It is evidence-based. It will improve prevention and treatment. It is 
the first time ever we have put long-term recovery into any 
legislation, which is incredibly important for success. We talked 
earlier about the difficulty of getting people out of the grip of 
addiction and having that longer term recovery aspect. Think of 
recovery housing and being supported by a supportive group rather than 
going back to the old neighbor or going back to a family who is 
suffering from this issue. That longer term recovery really helps to 
improve the rates of success. That is in our legislation.
  It also begins to remove this stigma of addiction. In some respects, 
I think that may be the most important part of the legislation. It 
acknowledges that addiction is a disease, and as a disease, it needs to 
be treated as such. When people come forward to be able to get 
treatment--and probably 8 out of 10 heroin addicts are not--you 
obviously see much better results for the person, for the family, and 
for the community.
  For example, think about Ashley from Dayton, OH. At just 32 years 
old, she died of a heroin overdose recently, leaving her three small 
children without a mom. After Ashley died, her mom went back and looked 
at her diary to see what she had said during her last several weeks. 
She found it, she read it, and what Ashley wrote in her diary will 
break your heart. It details her daily struggle with addiction. It 
talks about the pain and the suffering. Here is one passage:

       I am so ashamed. . . . I am an addict. I will always be an 
     addict. . . . I know I need help [but] I'm afraid to get it . 
     . . because I know I'll need to go away for it. . . . I'll be 
     away from my kids.

  CARA was designed to help women like Ashley. It not only helps erase 
the stigma of addiction and get women like her to come forward, 
acknowledge their illness, and get the help they need, but it allows 
women in recovery to bring their kids with them. You have family 
treatment centers and funding available for those kinds of treatment 
centers and for longer term recovery so we can keep families together.
  It authorizes $181 million in investments in opioid programs every 
year going forward, and it ensures that taxpayer dollars are spent more 
wisely and effectively by channeling them to programs that have been 
tested and that we know, based on evidence, actually work.
  Even with these new policies in place under CARA, we are going to 
have to fight every year for the funding as part of the appropriations 
process, and we are doing that today. In the most recent continuing 
resolution, which

[[Page S6943]]

funds the government until tonight, we were able to get $37 million in 
short-term funding to be sure CARA was fully funded during that 4-month 
period of time.
  We will soon be voting on the next 4 months or so of a continuing 
resolution, and once again, we have fought the good fight on both sides 
of the aisle. We have asked the Appropriations Committee to include the 
funding for CARA. We have been successful in doing that. There is full 
funding in the continuing resolution that will be voted on shortly that 
provides for the implementation of this legislation. That is very 
important because if that funding had not been provided for this short 
term, it would have been difficult to get the programs up and going on 
prevention, treatment, recovery, and helping first responders with 
regard to Narcan training and supply. That is important. If we fully 
fund it and we support getting more people into treatment, we will save 
lives, there is no question about it. If we fully fund the prevention, 
we will save lives.
  In addition to that funding, under the 21st Century Cures Act, which 
was just passed by the House and Senate over the past few days, there 
is additional funding, and it is immediate funding that goes to the 
States. It allows the States to use their own programs that they have 
through block grants to help address this crisis we face. I strongly 
support that. I think this epidemic is such that we need to do both--
have the longer term, evidence-based programs in place year after year 
for the future, but also immediately give our States an infusion of 
funds to be able to help with their existing programs.
  I believe that legislation is critical to my home State of Ohio, and 
I know how it is going to be used; it will be used well. Our Department 
of Mental Health & Addiction Services needs it.
  That legislation was an authorization in the 21st Century Cures Act. 
It was 2 years of funding--$500 million next year, $500 million the 
next year--to fund dealing with this crisis immediately. That funding 
is now shifted into the continuing resolution. So for this year, under 
this appropriations bill we are about to vote on, we now have that 
additional funding of $500 million. So we had to do the authorization 
and then the appropriation, and that is part of the CR.
  That is something people should think about as they look at this 
continuing resolution. We know this funding will help because we know 
prevention keeps people out of this funnel of addiction the most 
effective way, and the treatment can work. I have met so many people 
across Ohio who have taken advantage of treatment, of a supportive 
environment that comes with recovery programs, and have been 
  There are so many stories of hope. One is the story of Rachel Motil 
from Columbus, OH. As a teenager, Rachel abused alcohol. She then 
turned to pills, and then once the pills were too expensive--as we 
said, all too common--she switched to heroin. She stole from her 
family, even selling her mother's arthritis medication. She stole 
jewelry from her boyfriend's parents. She wrote herself checks from her 
mom's checkbook.
  For those who are watching and listening who have members of their 
family who are suffering from this illness, you know what I am talking 
  She received help, finally. Her help came from Netcare crisis 
services initially--detoxing and getting into treatment--and then 
Maryhaven Treatment Center.
  I visited Maryhaven in October. I had a chance to meet with some of 
the recovering addicts who were there and talk to them about what they 
had been through.
  Rachel is an example of a success story. She is now 2 years sober and 
studying finance at Columbus State Community College. She is a success. 
If we fully fund CARA and if we get this legislation in place with 
regard to these Cures appropriations, we will see more success stories 
like that. We will save lives across our country. For all those who are 
suffering from the disease of addiction--like Ashley from Dayton, 
Michael from Sandusky, or Rachel from Northland--let's do the right 
thing. Let's fight for them. Let's implement CARA quickly. Let's build 
on this commonsense law. Let's support additional funding now so we can 
help as many Americans as possible. By doing so, I believe we can begin 
to turn the tide on this addiction and not only save lives but help 
some of our constituents lead more productive and full lives.
  I yield back my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to proceed, but 
before I begin, I ask unanimous consent that the Senator from 
California, Mrs. Boxer, be recognized following my remarks.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, this resolution will provide government 
funding through April 28 at the level prescribed in last year's budget 
  I urge the Senate to support the resolution.
  It provides funding to continue counterterrorism operations in Iraq, 
Afghanistan, and Syria. It supports our allies through the European 
Reassurance Initiative. It includes funding for humanitarian assistance 
and to protect American diplomats.
  The resolution also funds important priorities here at home. It 
appropriates $872 million to fight opioid abuse and support innovative 
cancer research. These funds will begin to implement the CURES Act, 
which the Senate passed earlier this week by a vote of 94 to 5.
  The resolution also contains funding to respond to Hurricane Matthew, 
severe flooding in Louisiana and other recent natural disasters. In 
total, $4 billion is available under this bill and will be allocated to 
recovery programs that benefit 45 of our States.
  The resolution also provides funding to help Flint, MI, respond to 
the contamination of its water supply and to help communities around 
the country provide safe drinking water.
  Mr. President, I urge the adoption of this resolution.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I want to thank Senator Cochran for his 
courtesy in getting the time for me.

                Coal Miner Health Care Benefits and WRDA

  Mr. President, some people may wonder why on a Friday we are still 
here and we are still arguing and we are still debating. There are 
several issues that are troubling to many people in the Senate and in 
the country, and a couple of them have a focus on them today. How this 
all ends remains to be seen, but I feel it is important for the 
American people to understand that there are some people here who are 
willing to take the time to explain why we can't just go home right 
now. We are no different from any other American. We don't want to have 
to work on the weekend. We don't want to have to be here when we don't 
have to be, giving speeches that we don't have to give.
  I also want to give a shout-out to my friends who are calling 
attention to the plight of widows of miners--miners who went into the 
coal mines knowing full well they risked their lives every day. They 
knew that if something happened to them, their widows would be taken 
care of. If we can't take care of widows and children who are left 
behind because a coal miner risked his or her life, who are we fighting 
for and what are we doing here?
  Senator Manchin, Senator Heitkamp, Senator Casey, Senator Schumer, 
Senator Warner--several of my colleagues--have been very clear. They 
have been taking to this floor warning the majority, the Republicans, 
that we want to take care of these widows. The money is there. It is 
there for them. Instead, my Republican friends want to take it away. 
You know what? That is not happening without a fight. That is not 
happening without a fight.  If we can't defend widows and orphans, I 
have news for you, we don't deserve to be here.

  Two days ago, I gave what was to be my final major speech on the 
floor of the Senate. Believe me, I don't want to be here. I don't want 
to talk on the floor. I wanted to go out with a great big smile on my 
face after working in politics for 40 years, but instead I am here to 
explain an issue that is very troubling.
  If you asked the average person what troubles them about Congress--
they hate Congress. I think we get a 17-, 18-

[[Page S6944]]

maybe 12-percent rating. It is bad. It is hurtful. One of the things 
they hate about Congress is when we have a special interest rider 
dropped on a bill. No one has looked at it, there have been no 
hearings, and it has nothing to do with the bill. People are then 
forced into a situation where either they swallow that garbage or they 
can't vote for the underlying bill, which may be very important to 
their State, their constituents, and their country. That is what is 
happening on the continuing resolution to keep the government open. 
There is a paltry 4-month extension on the health care for the widows 
of coal miners. What good does that do? They are going to be frightened 
to death. What if they go to the doctor in that first month and the 
doctor says: I am watching a lump. It may be cancerous. Come back in 3 
months. They don't know if they will even have health care. It is a 
disgrace. The widows are not protected in the continuing resolution.
  What are we facing? Either we shut down the government or fight for 
the widows. OK. This is what people hate about Congress, and we don't 
have to do it--not at all. If you believe you have great legislation, 
then go through the channels, introduce the bill, and have a hearing. 
If you think the miners' widows deserve only 4 months, let's have a 
discussion about it.
  We have another situation on another bill. The bill is called WRDA. 
You may have heard about it. What does it stand for? It stands for the 
Water Resources Development Act. This WRDA bill is a beautiful bill. My 
committee has worked on it for more than a year. I am proud to be the 
ranking member on that committee. I was the chairman, but when 
Republicans took the Senate back, Senator Inhofe became the chairman. 
We worked hand in glove. We set aside our differences, we set aside 
poison pills, and we said we are going to put together a great bill, 
and we did. It is a great bill. It deals with flood control, ensures 
there is environmental restoration and that our ports are dredged and 
can, in fact, support the kind of commerce we need in the greatest 
country in the world. We have authorization for funding in there for 
desalination because we know we have droughts in the western States, 
and we need to work on that. We have authorization for ways to use 
technology to ensure we can increase our water supply, so we have 
authorization in there for water recharging and water recycling. It is 
quite a bill. It has authorization in there to move forward with all of 
the Army Corps projects that have been looked at up and down and inside 
  What we have in there for my State is incredible. I don't think I 
have ever had a bill that did more for my State. We have projects in 
Sacramento, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco area. We have projects 
from north to south, east to west. We have levee fixes and the Lake 
Tahoe restoration that Senator Feinstein and I worked on. We have very 
important ecosystem restoration. We have projects in Orange County and 
all over the State.
  Why do I say this? I say this to make the following point: If Senator 
Boxer has all of those great things for her State in the WRDA bill, why 
is she standing here saying, ``Vote no''? It isn't easy. It breaks my 
heart, but I will tell you why. In the middle of the night, coming from 
the ceiling and airdropped into this bill was a dangerous 98-page rider 
which will become law with the WRDA bill. What does it do? It attacks 
the Endangered Species Act head-on. It gives operational instructions 
on how to move water in my State away from the salmon fisheries and to 
big agribusiness, regardless of what the science says. If somebody says 
``Oh, my God, this is terrible; we will lose the salmon fishery,'' it 
will take a very long time to have that study, and it will be too late 
to save the fishery. This isn't just about the salmon; it is about the 
people who fish. They are distressed about this issue. They represent 
tens of thousands of families who rely on having enough water for the 
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the letter signed by this 
vast array of fishermen and some letters from all of those who rely on 
salmon fishery be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                GoldenGate Salmon Association,

                                                 December 6, 2016.
     Re OPPOSE--Anti-Salmon Provisions in WRDA

       Dear Congressional Leaders: I write from the Golden Gate 
     Salmon Association asking that you oppose the California 
     drought language in the Water Resources Development Act 
     (WRDA) bill.
       This language calls for severe weakening of existing 
     protections for salmon in California's Central Valley. 
     Although those protections are designed primarily to aid ESA-
     listed winter and spring run salmon and steelhead, they also 
     provide great benefit to unlisted fall run salmon which 
     supplies the west coast fishery.
       Tens of thousands of fishing jobs in both California, and 
     Oregon hang in the balance.
       The existing protections are based on the best available 
     science, which has been affirmed in multiple court cases up 
     to the Ninth US Court of Appeals as well as through an 
     outside scientific review by the National Research Council 
     requested by Senator Feinstein. The proposed language orders 
     science-based measures to balance water for agriculture, 
     municipal, industrial and fishing industry be tossed out and 
     replaced with a political prescription aimed at rewarding a 
     small group in the western San Joaquin Valley and points 
       California salmon fishermen, both sport and commercial, 
     have suffered from very poor fishing seasons over the last 
     two years. This is primarily due to the effects of drought 
     and poor water management, which have undercut the ability of 
     salmon to reproduce and survive in Central Valley rivers. Now 
     is the time to help these salmon runs recover, not tear them 
     down more.
       The economic value of salmon derives not only from 
     commercially caught fish, but also from the hundreds of 
     millions of dollars sport fishermen spend annually to pursue 
     salmon. These dollars breathe life into the not only the 
     California coastal economy, but also inland river communities 
     where recreational salmon fishing is big.
       Commercial fishermen have suffered after not only back to 
     back poor salmon seasons but also disruption in their other 
     main income source, the Dungeness crab fishery. Adding more 
     injury is not right especially when there are other, more 
     sustainable ways to address California's water future. The 
     drought bill language would allow far more diversion of 
     northern California water to the massive pumps that send it 
     south, especially at the sensitive time of year when baby 
     salmon are trying to migrate to the ocean. As water is 
     diverted from its natural course, so too are baby salmon 
     which mostly die along the way to the pumps. Those that 
     survive to the pumps usually die shortly thereafter.
       The National Marine Fisheries Service, which authored the 
     salmon protections currently in place, has tacitly 
     acknowledged the need to strengthen, not weaken them, by 
     calling for both amending the existing biological opinion as 
     well as formally reinitiating consultation on the opinion. 
     The last thing we need now is political interference in a 
     process best left to fishery scientists and biologists.
       Adoption of the Feinstein/McCarthy drought bill language 
     into law would undo some of the progress we've made restoring 
     our salmon runs since 2009, when the existing biop replaced a 
     prior one found to be illegally un-protective of salmon. 
     Under that prior, weak set of regulations, we saw our salmon 
     runs decline to the point where the ocean fishery was shut 
     for the first time in history in 2008 and 2009. The language 
     being considered now would send us back to a similar 
     desperate situation rapidly. It would almost certainly lead 
     to another steep collapse of Central Valley salmon runs.
       Please do what you can to stop this drought proposal from 
     becoming law, including opposing cloture in the Senate. We 
     have new and much better ways to address our water future in 
     California that some old thinkers simply refuse to consider.

                                                 John McManus,

                                               Executive Director,
     Golden Gate Salmon Association.

                                                 December 6, 2016.

    Salmon Fishing Industry Opposes California Drought Rider in WRDA

       Dear Honorable Members: The undersigned commercial fishing 
     industry groups strongly oppose Mr. McCarthy's California 
     water language inserted in the House version of the Water 
     Resources Development Act. King salmon was once the West's 
     most important fishery. It now hangs in the balance, as what 
     should be an infinitely renewable resource has consistently 
     lost political battles in the war over California's water. 
     This last-minute rider is a knife in the gut of the thousands 
     of commercial fishermen and fishery-dependent businesses that 
     harvest and supply local, wild-caught seafood to millions of 
     American consumers.
       The language purports to offer drought relief, but in so 
     doing, it picks drought winners and drought losers in 
     California and beyond. The winners are the handful of 
     industrial irrigators of the San Joaquin Valley that stand to 
     benefit from rollbacks of the Endangered Species Act and 
     other salmon protections, and the politically (not 
     scientifically) mandated operation of the federal water 
     system in California. The losers are the fishery-dependent 
     businesses, such as commercial and charter-for-hire 
     fishermen, seafood

[[Page S6945]]

     wholesalers, ice docks, fuel docks, shipwrights, 
     manufacturers, restaurants, hotels and direct-to-consumer 
     seafood purveyors that make a living on the availability of 
     salmon. It's a policy choice to sacrifice a naturally 
     sustainable food system for a food system that requires 
     government subsidies, massive publicly-funded infrastructure 
     projects, and continual litigation. It is the wrong choice 
     for the small businesses and families that harvest this 
     resource on the West Coast.
       West Coast salmon fisheries are in crisis. The salmon 
     fishing communities in all three states have requested or are 
     considering the need for fishery disaster declarations for 
     the 2016 due to extremely low productivity. We are a proud 
     community that wants to work, not resort to government 
     handouts. We ask that you do everything in your power to 
     prevent this language from becoming law.
       Thank you for your consideration.
       Mike McCorkle for Southern California Trawlers Association 
     (Santa Barbara), Stephanie Mutz for Commercial Fishermen of 
     Santa Barbara, Bill Ward for Port San Luis Fishermen's 
     Marketing Association, Lori French for Morro Bay Commercial 
     Fishermen's Organization, Mike Ricketts for Monterey 
     Fishermen's Marketing Association, Tom McCray for Moss 
     Landing Commercial Fishermen's Association, Joe Stoops for 
     Santa Cruz Fishermen's Marketing Association, Lisa Damrosch 
     for Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association, Larry 
     Collins for San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association, Don 
     Marshall for Small Boat Commercial Salmon Fishermen's 
     Association (at-large), Lorne Edwards for Bodega Bay 
     Fishermen's Marketing Association, Bill Forkner for Salmon 
     Trollers Marketing Association (Ft. Bragg), Dave Bitts for 
     Humboldt Fishermen's Marketing Association, Tim Sloane for 
     Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Joel 
     Kawahara for Coastal Trollers Association (Washington).

                                                 December 6, 2016.
       Dear Senator: On behalf of the undersigned organizations, 
     we are writing to urge you to strip the anti-environmental 
     rider regarding California water from the Water Resources 
     Development Act (WRDA) (Subtitle J of Title III of S. 612). 
     This poison pill rider would gut environmental protection in 
     California's Bay-Delta, threatening thousands of salmon 
     fishing jobs and worsening water quality conditions. These 
     provisions are inconsistent with California law and expressly 
     violate the requirements of biological opinions under the 
     Endangered Species Act, and as a result are likely to lead to 
     extensive litigation and undermine progress on long-term 
     solutions. The White House announced today that the 
     Administration opposes this language in WRDA. The broad 
     opposition to this rider demonstrates that its inclusion 
     threatens to scuttle enactment of WRDA.
       This rider would not only affect California, but also 
     threatens the thousands of fishing jobs across the West Coast 
     that depend on salmon from California's Bay-Delta watershed. 
     Moreover, the rider would authorize construction of new dams 
     across the 17 Reclamation states, without Congressional 
     review and authorization for these new projects.
       Drought, not environmental laws, is the primary cause of 
     low water supplies in California. The state of California is 
     working to protect the environment and the economy by 
     investing in sustainable water supply solutions including 
     water use efficiency, water recycling, urban stormwater 
     capture, and improved groundwater recharge and management. 
     The Federal government should not undermine environmental 
     protections under the guise of drought relief, but should 
     instead complement state investments in sustainable water 
       Adding a poison pill rider undermining the Endangered 
     Species Act and threatening thousands of fishing jobs sets up 
     a false choice between clean water in Flint and healthy 
     waterways in California. This is outrageous and unacceptable. 
     The people of Flint have waited too long for safe drinking 
     water to be victimized again by this kind of political 
     backroom dealing.
       We urge you to strike this anti-environmental rider from 
     the bill. If this language remains in the bill, we urge you 
     to vote to oppose cloture.
       Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation 
     Voters, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Sierra Club, 
     National Audubon Society, Clean Water Action, Greenpeace.


                                                 December 6, 2016.
       Dear Members of Congress: As business leaders focused on 
     policies that promote a growing economy and healthy 
     environment, we ask that you oppose cloture on the Water 
     Resources Development Act (WRDA) if it contains the recently 
     added language regarding California water.
       Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is a national, nonpartisan 
     group of business leaders who advocate for smart policies 
     that drive innovation in business while protecting the 
     environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 
     2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage 
     more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital. 
     In California, E2 has more than 500 members who belong to 
     three regional E2 chapters and who do business across the 
       WRDA is critical legislation that supports dozens of badly 
     needed water infrastructure projects in just as many 
     communities, including emergency funds to help alleviate the 
     crisis in Flint, MI. Moreover, it is unacceptable that this 
     controversial language, which undermines environmental 
     protections for wildlife and threatens the tens of thousands 
     of fishing and recreation jobs that depend on them, was added 
     to the legislation at the eleventh hour.
       Water shortages in California are due to a sustained 
     drought, overutilization of resources and a low groundwater 
     table. Unfortunately this newly-added language will not solve 
     any of those issues. What these short-sighted provisions 
     could do, however, is damage the large salmon fishing 
     industry that is fed from the Central Valley, and hurt 
     thousands of fishing and recreational jobs up and down the 
     West Coast.
       Though we agree there is an urgent need to address 
     California drought and competing needs in the state, we think 
     that should be done through a comprehensive process in stand-
     alone legislation that factors in the importance of the 
     fishing industry and other economic issues.
       E2 urges you to aid a consensus WRDA bill that solves 
     problems without putting jobs at risk.

                                                    Bob Keefe,

                                               Executive Director,
     Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

                                              Trout Unlimited,

                                                 December 8, 2016.
       Dear Members of the House and Senate: Trout Unlimited is 
     opposed to the drought provision that has been added to the 
     WRDA bill being considered by the House, as it undermines an 
     otherwise salutary Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 
     bill developed in a bipartisan manner by the House and Senate 
     authorizing committees. We urge Congress to strip this 
     drought provision (Subtitle J--California Water, 
     Sec. Sec. 4001-4014) and pass the WRDA bill before it 
     adjourns this month. We urge Congress to renew its efforts to 
     address California and western drought through an open and 
     collaborative process to arrive at solutions which work for 
     all stakeholders.
       Trout Unlimited works with agricultural producers, states, 
     counties, communities and other stakeholders throughout the 
     West to find solutions to pernicious drought. Durable and 
     fair drought solutions are best developed through open and 
     collaborative processes with all stakeholders. The Yakima and 
     Klamath pieces of legislation in the Energy bill are two 
     excellent regional examples, but in fact on the ground 
     throughout the West, there are many more local examples of 
     drought solutions which help rivers and fish, producers and 
       Right now drought is most severe in California. Thus, we 
     understand and appreciate the hard work that Senator 
     Feinstein, Representatives McCarthy, Valadao and others have 
     invested in trying to help interests in California deal with 
     the drought. But, the drought provision added to the House 
     WRDA bill in recent days is not the result of an open and 
     collaborative legislative process.
       Though California is the drought hardship epicenter, 
     drought is prevalent in other areas of the West, and may well 
     be coming soon to many others areas of the country. Congress 
     should reward open and collaborative processes for dealing 
     with drought. All of our interests must face drought 
     challenges together. All of our interests must be included in 
     fair and balanced solutions. Congress should not reward 
     legislation not developed in an open and collaborative 
     process--in California or any other state--that adversely 
     impacts so many stakeholders.
       Some sections of the ``Subtitle J--California Water'' 
     drought provision extend west-wide, and risk upending years 
     of local, watershed-based investment by stakeholders to 
     arrive at water scarcity solutions that meet agricultural, 
     environmental and municipal needs. Section 4007, for example, 
     authorizes the ``design, study, and construction or 
     expansion'' of new federal dams across the seventeen western 
     states without Congressional oversight. Sec. 4007(b)(1). 
     Section 4007(h)(1) also authorizes $335 million for new dam 
     building. Allowing the Interior Department to authorize 
     federal dams without Congressional oversight breaks with 
     decades of longstanding law and practice.
       Even more significantly, unilaterally favoring and 
     underwriting a federal dam sets back local, watershed-based, 
     collaborative efforts to find multi-pronged solutions to 
     drought and water scarcity that benefit all stakeholders: 
     agricultural, environmental, and municipal.
       The legislation would directly harm Trout Unlimited 
     members, fishing-related businesses, and the communities that 
     depend on them. Central Valley salmon, when healthy, 
     contribute $1.4 billion to the economy and support 23,000 
     jobs. This fishery constitutes 60 percent of Oregon's coastal 
     salmon catch and part of Washington's as well. It would be a 
     tragedy to have salmon disappear from the Sacramento and San 
     Joaquin rivers. The drought has been hard on everyone, but 
     nobody has been harder hit than commercial and recreational 
     fishing businesses.
       Finally, Congress should consider that the bill would 
     undermine actions taken under California water law. This will 
     lead to needless litigation, igniting more controversy and 
     threatening the progress that California and the Interior 
     Department has made toward finding sustainable drought 
     solutions. Federal policies should support rather than 
     undermine state water law.

[[Page S6946]]

       It is never too late in a Congress to renew efforts to find 
     lasting, fair, solutions to drought problems. Many members 
     have worked hard on important provisions of the WRDA bill 
     that deserve passage, including several provisions which will 
     restore watersheds and provide clean drinking water. We hope 
     Congress will not hold those meritorious provisions hostage 
     to an unworkable and unrelated drought measure. We urge the 
     House and the Senate to work together to find a better 
     solution to the California drought, eliminate Subtitle J--
     California Water, Sec. Sec. 4001-4014, from the House WRDA 
     bill, and approve the WRDA bill before adjourning this 

                                                  Steve Moyer,

                               Vice President, Government Affairs,
                                                  Trout Unlimited.

  Mrs. BOXER. I know it is a holiday. God knows I know that. This year 
Hanukkah and Christmas come at the same time, and my grandkids 
celebrate both. I want to go home, but the people who depend on the 
water to support the salmon fishing industry may not be able to 
celebrate this year because someone over there named Kevin McCarthy 
dropped--in the dead of night--a rider on a beautiful bill called WRDA 
and wrecked it. He never once thought about the people who rely on 
fishing. It is a disgrace. Who is signing the letter, saying, ``Don't 
do this, don't do this, don't do this''? The Pacific Coast Federation 
of Fishermen's Associations, the Golden Gate Salmon Association, the 
Southern California Trawlers Association of Santa Barbara, the 
Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara, the Port San Luis Fishermen's 
Marketing Association, the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen's 
Organization, the Monterey Fishermen's Marketing Association, the Moss 
Landing Commercial Fishermen's Association, the Santa Cruz Fishermen's 
Marketing Association, the Half Moon Bay Fishermen's Marketing 
Association, the San Francisco Crab Boat Owner's Association, the Small 
Boat Salmon Fishermen's Association, the Fishermen's Marketing 
Association of Bodega Bay, the Salmon Trollers Marketing Association, 
the Humboldt Fishermen's Marketing Association, the Coastal Trollers 
Association. I am putting those in the Record.
  In all of my lifetime serving, I have never seen such an outcry from 
one industry. There is no disagreement. The water will be taken away 
for agribusiness regardless of what the scientists think.
  You may say: Senator, what was controlling this before this power 
grab? It is a law. It is a law called the Endangered Species Act.
  You may then ask: What liberal politician or President signed that? 
Let me give you the answer. It was a Republican named Richard Nixon. 
What breaks my heart more than anything else--and I have said it 
before--is how the environment has become such a hot-button issue.
  I want to talk about the Endangered Species Act. We have landmark 
laws in our Nation. It makes our Nation great. We have the Clean Water 
Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Control 
Substances Act, and the Brownfields Law. These are landmark laws 
beloved by the people.
  If you went out on the street or if I asked up in the gallery how 
many people think we should protect our endangered species, I would be 
surprised if more than a few disagreed with that. Let me show you why. 
What has been saved by the Endangered Species Act? How about nothing 
less than the American bald eagle. This species was on its way to 
extinction, but because of the Endangered Species Act, we learned that 
there were only enough left for a few years, and so the endangered 
species law said: No, no, no, no. We have to change what we do and 
protect this species. The American eagle was protected because Richard 
Nixon, as well as Democrats and Republicans, believed we needed an 
Endangered Species Act. That was in the 1960s. Now we have a frontal 
assault on the Endangered Species Act.
  Let me show you what else we have saved under the Endangered Species 
Act. This is the California condor. It is a magnificent species. It is 
God's creation. We talk about our faith here, and I never ever doubt 
anybody's faith, but I am saying if you are truly a believer, then you 
work to protect God's creations. It is part of our responsibility. Here 
it is. What would have happened if this Endangered Species Act had been 
changed to say, ``Don't worry about the science, do whatever you want, 
and if it is bothering the hunters or fishermen, just throw it out the 
window''? We wouldn't have saved these creatures.
  I will show some others. This is the Peregrine falcon. Just looking 
at this magnificent thing makes you smile. Again, it is endangered. If 
there had been legislation like what was dropped at midnight from Kevin 
McCarthy on the Endangered Species Act, we might have lost this 
magnificent creature. So to say that we should just go home to our 
families, children, and grandchildren without calling attention to what 
is on the WRDA bill that I love--let me be clear. Personally, I win 
either way. One way I win is if we stop this bill and take off this 
horrible rider and pass it clean. That would be the most amazing thing. 
And if we don't, I bring home 26 incredible projects to my people. It 
is not about me.
  We have one more to show you. This is the great sea turtle. This 
beautiful creature was saved by the Endangered Species Act. If we had 
similar legislation about this magnificent creature and it said that 7 
out of 10 people believe it is harming their business, let's just 
forget about it, we don't really need it, we would not have saved 
this. So when you drop this--I call it a midnight rider--on a beautiful 
bill and say we are going to violate the Endangered Species Act unless 
somebody can prove it is really bad, you are destroying the Endangered 
Species Act. What right does anybody have to do that in the middle of 
the night, in the darkness, before Christmas, days before government 
funding runs out?

  I say nobody should have the right to do it. Since they did it, I am 
going to make noise about it. Believe me, I am on the way out the door. 
Did I want to do this? No. I did my speech. I was so thrilled to do it. 
My family was up there. I am in the middle of a battle now. Well, I 
guess that is how it is. You come in fighting, you go out fighting. 
That is just the way it goes.
  A lot of people say: Oh, Barbara, why do you want to do this? You had 
such a beautiful speech. It was a high note. I can't. I am alive. I 
know what is going on. I am going to tell the truth. The truth is, 
Kevin McCarthy has been trying to get more water for big agribusiness 
in his--water in my State is very contentious.
  My view about water is that everybody comes to the table. We work it 
out together. I don't like the water war. He has launched another water 
war battle for big agribusiness against the salmon fishery. It is ugly. 
It is wrong. It is going to wind up at the courthouse door anyway. Why 
are we doing this? It is not right. We don't need to fight about water. 
All the stakeholders just have to sit down and work together.
  I love the fact that my State produces more fruit and vegetables and 
nuts--it is the breadbasket of the world. Under most measurements, 
farmers use 80 percent of the water--80 percent of the water. In a 
drought situation, why would you then hurt the other stakeholders 
because an almond grower wants to do more almond growing? It takes 1 
gallon to produce one almond. I love almonds. Believe me, they are a 
fabulous food. There is a recent study that they are really healthy for 
you. I want everyone to eat almonds. But they export a ton of them. We 
have to preserve the environment in our State and not run these 
fishermen out.
  What has really been interesting is the editorials that have come 
about as a result of this midnight rider.
  I would like to highlight an editorial by the Sacramento Bee on 
December 7, 2016, titled ``Feinstein, McCarthy strike water deal, but 
war goes on.''
  This is it. This is what I am reading from.
  ``The Federal legislation almost surely will result in increased 
water exports, its basic point, and contains unfortunate language that 
would allow Federal authorities to override scientists and order water 
exports that could further damage the delta and fisheries.''
  What is the delta? The delta is a series of islands through which the 
natural rainwater runs. The water gets purified. It runs into our 
rivers and streams. It supports the salmon fishery, and it supports 
clean drinking water, but if you rip away that water, you are going to 
have more salt in the

[[Page S6947]]

water that remains. It is going to be more expensive for the people to 
get it to drinking quality.
  So what you have is a circumstance where you are not only running the 
salmon fishery out, but you are also destroying the water quality--the 
drinking water quality--for many users in the area who rely on the 
delta water and making it far more expensive to clean up the water 
because it has so much salt in it.
  Here is the Sacramento Bee saying that ``the unfortunate language 
would allow Federal authorities to override scientists and order water 
exports that could further damage the Delta and fisheries.''
  I think I have explained to you what that means. It destroys and 
harms not only the salmon fishery, but it also destroys and harms 
drinking water. Now, the bill, it says--this is the rider that is on my 
beautiful WRDA bill that I love so much, that I wrote with Jim Inhofe.
  ``The bill authorizes additional pumping unless fishery scientists 
can prove there will be damage to fish, virtually an impossible 
  So when those who support this say: Oh, don't worry, Barbara, yes, 
they will pump at the maximum ability constantly, but there has to be a 
report. Well, by the time they finish their report, there will be a lot 
of dead fish or no fish.
  It goes on to say: ``But no one should kid themselves. This bill will 
result in damage to the environment. And it won't end California's 
water wars.''
  Let me say that again. This is the Sacramento Bee. This is not known 
for any type of liberal editorializing.
  ``But no one should kid themselves. This bill will result in damage 
to the environment. And it won't end California's water wars.''
  So we put that in the Record along with all of the different fishing 
groups that strongly oppose this. So we are here, and everyone is 
calling me: Oh, let's go home. Let's go home. I want to go home. I 
really want to go home because this is the end of my last term, but I 
can't. Let the clock go. It will run out. But the fact remains, we have 
to take a stand against these midnight riders that drop from the 
ceiling that attack Richard Nixon's Endangered Species Act that we all 
supported forever until now. I guess it is easy to say, I support the 
Endangered Species Act until someone says: Oh, there is an endangered 
species. Then you say: Oh, never mind. No. No. No.
  You support it because you want to protect God's creatures, and then 
you keep supporting it. You don't attack it on a rider that was dropped 
at midnight, never had a hearing on a bill that has nothing to do with 
the subject matter. What they did belongs in the Energy bill, but they 
did not want to put it in there. They wanted to put it in WRDA because 
WRDA is so popular. WRDA is a beautiful bill, a beautiful bill that I 
worked on that is going to be my legacy bill.
  So here I am standing up making a big fuss on my own bill and saying 
vote no on it. That is really hard. I hope no one in this body ever has 
to do this. It is a very difficult thing. Now, you may ask: Who really 
cares about the salmon fishery? Who really cares about the Endangered 
Species Act?
  Well, how about every environmental organization that I know of in 
the country.
  So who are they? They are the Natural Resources Defense Council, that 
has clearly stated this is a violation of the Endangered Species Act; 
the League of Conservation Voters, an organization that follows this. 
They are scoring this vote. They are scoring this vote; Defenders of 
Wildlife, who are committed to protecting God's creatures; Earth 
Justice; the Sierra Club; National Audubon Society; Clean Water Action; 
Greenpeace; Trout Unlimited--that has a huge participation of 
fishermen, recreational fishermen; Environmental Entrepreneurs.
  These are actually business leaders in this country who care about 
what we do. I will read a little bit of the Trout Unlimited letter.

       Trout Unlimited is opposed to the drought provision that 
     has been added to the WRDA bill being considered by the House 
     as it undermines an otherwise salutary Water Resources 
     Development Act bill developed in a bipartisan manner by the 
     House and Senate.

  What a beautiful opening sentence. They get it. Trout Unlimited--they 
are not liberals or conservatives. They just like to go and have a good 
time with recreational fishing. There will not be a fishery left 
because of the bill that was dropped from the ceiling at midnight, 
because someone wanted to take water away from the salmon fishery and 
give it to agribusiness, disgraceful.
  Why don't we work together on getting more water? This is not a 
drought bill. It is called the California drought bill. It is 
ridiculous. It has nothing to do with increasing the water. All it does 
is move water from one place to another, and the additional 
authorizations on it--on the rider--are already in the underlying WRDA 
  We don't need this. It calls for desal. It calls for water 
recharging. It calls for recycling. So this is a phony name of the 
bill, California drought bill. It does zero, zero, zero to help with 
the drought. All it does is it attacks the fishing industry. That is 
  Thousands of jobs, because one Congressman over there represents a 
little district, and he is delivering to agribusiness. It is shameful. 
We stand here and we decry the fact that the widows of the miners are 
getting the shaft--and they are. I stand with them. I ask my colleagues 
to vote no on a bill that contains language that will undo the salmon 
fisheries on the entire West Coast.
  I speak for Maria Cantwell, who will also be down here to speak, I 
speak for Ron Wyden, I speak for Jeff Merkley, I speak for Patty 
Murray. We are apoplectic about this. You want to do in the salmon 
fishery, have the guts to have a hearing on it. Have the guts to look 
in the faces of those salmon fishery people, have the guts to tell it 
to their faces. Don't drop this thing at the last minute, 
Christmastime, and we are all going to be good little girls and boys 
and say: Oh, we are going to go home. No, we are not. We are not. It is 
not right. You know, I grew up, there was right and there was wrong. 
You can't turn away from wrong, even if it is inconvenient. It is 
  I have stood alone on this floor. I am not standing alone on this, 
but I would if I had to.
  Let's see what some of these environmentalists have said. How about 
E2, the environmental business leaders--what do they say?
  ``As business leaders focused on policies that promote a growing 
economy and healthy environment, we ask that you vote no on the cloture 
on Water Resources Development Act if it contains the added language 
regarding California water.''
  They say they are a nonpartisan group of business leaders, and they 
have funded venture capital and companies. They said that WRDA is 
critical and that this language will not solve any drought issues. Its 
shortsighted provisions could damage the large salmon industry that is 
fed from the Central Valley and hurt thousands of fishing and 
recreational jobs up and down the west coast.
  What I am telling you is the truth.
  Here is a bill that is called the California drought bill, and it 
does nothing--nothing at all--to bring water in because all of the 
language that would deal with desalinization and high technology is 
already in the WRDA bill. That is a phony bill, and there is no 
mandatory funding in it for those purposes. But what is mandatory is 
that, regardless of the situation, water will be pumped away from the 
salmon fisheries and toward big agribusiness. There are some who say: 
Oh, why don't we do this? It will be worse next year. Really? The 
agribusiness people have already said that this is just a start. So if 
we allow this to go on without people paying attention, we are opening 
up the door to more and more attacks.
  Mr. President, I would like to discuss an editorial in the San Jose 
Mercury News on December 8, 2016, titled, ``As Boxer retires, Feinstein 
sells out the Delta.''
  This editorial is very strong in favor of the salmon fisheries. They 
say that this rider sells out to Central Valley water interests. It 
guts environmental protections. We will have devastating long-term 
effects on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem. They talk about 
my stand on this, and they note that I will not be here, and that I am 
taking a stand on this.
  They call this rider, the one that takes the water away from the 
salmon fisheries and gives it to agribusiness, an ``80-page document 
negotiated behind closed doors [which] allows maximum pumping of water 
from the Delta

[[Page S6948]]

to the Central Valley and eliminates''--I am going to talk about this--
``important congressional oversight over building dams.''
  I am going to take a minute on this. I forgot to mention this. This 
bill--this rider that was added is called the California drought bill. 
It is way more than that; it is how to kill the salmon fisheries in the 
west coast bill because it doesn't only kill them in California, it 
kills them in Oregon and Washington. It kills thousands and thousands 
of jobs. That is why we put in the Record all the people in the salmon 
industry who oppose this rider.
  It also says--and this is amazing--that in 11 Western States over the 
next 5 years, the administration coming in will be able to 
singlehandedly authorize the building of dams, which, as you know, 
wreak havoc with the natural environment in our rivers and are very 
  Congress has always been involved in the authorization of dams 
because we hold hearings. We ask questions. Why should we do it? Why 
shouldn't we do it? We bring together all the parties, and we make a 
decision. This rider takes away the authority from Congress to 
authorize dams in the 11 Western States.
  So I say rhetorically to Mr. McCarthy: Do you really distrust your 
colleagues so much that you no longer trust them to have anything to 
say about whether a dam should be built or not? Do you really want to 
take away the authority from your colleagues to call experts together 
to ask why this dam is needed? What would the pluses be if this is 
built? What would the minuses be? What would happen to wildlife? What 
would happen to the environment if it is being built on an earthquake 
fault? You may laugh at that, but there was a proposal in Northern 
California to build enormous dams on earthquake faults. The only reason 
it was stopped was congressional hearings.
  Now President-Elect Trump will be able to determine in the 11 Western 
States that have BLM land whether or not dams can be built, and 
Congress will have no say.
  But the answer to that is: Oh, but they still have to fund it. Well, 
I have been in that dance before, and I know how that works. Allow just 
a few dollars in it, and it is on the books. This bill is awful. It is 
awful, and I am so grateful to these newspapers in California that have 
called them out on it.
  Mr. President, I have a Republican Senator complaining that I am 
talking too long. What is the situation on the floor? Can Senators 
speak as long as they wish?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There are no limitations.
  Mrs. BOXER. So I will continue to speak, and when I am done, I am 
done. It may be soon because I am getting a little tired, but I will 
keep talking for a while. I say to everybody that I am sorry, but don't 
drop a midnight rider on a beautiful bill that I worked on for 2 years 
with my colleague Senator Inhofe, and then say: I am really annoyed 
because she is talking too much.
  I am sorry. I apologize, but I am going to talk until I am done, and 
the Senator from Washington is going to talk until she is done.
  Don't drop a midnight rider and destroy the fishing industry and say 
that Congress will no longer have the ability to authorize the building 
of dams.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, will the Senator from California yield 
for a question?
  Mrs. BOXER. Of course I will.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, to the Senator from California, I thank 
her for being here in this discussion today about a very important 
public policy issue.
  It is December and most people know that high jinks happen in 
December around here. People want to go home. People are doing last-
minute deals.
  I don't know if the Senator from California knows, but the whole 
deregulation of Enron and the energy markets--that whole thing was a 
December midnight rider kind of activity.
  All of these things happen because they know that Members want to go 
home. They think it is the last deal and they can throw something in 
and everybody will go along with it and blame it on, oh, I didn't read 
the fine print.
  There are a couple of things in here that I just wanted to ask the 
Senator from California about. I am going to talk later. I wanted to 
get over here and ask her because she is a knowledgeable person on 
  First, this rider that was placed in the WRDA bill--is that in the 
jurisdiction of your committee?
  Mrs. BOXER. Absolutely not, my friend. As you know, it is in the 
jurisdiction of your committee. It has absolutely nothing to do with 
mine. I would say there are two pieces added that we have a little 
jurisdiction on, funding for desal, but that is already in the base 
WRDA bill. So I can honestly say to my friend that this is a horrible 
rider in and of itself. One of the other problems with it is it has 
gone through the wrong committee. That is right. It belongs in the 
jurisdiction of the committee which is yours and Senator Murkowski's.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I would ask unanimous consent to have 
printed in the Record an article from the San Francisco Chronicle that 
says, ``Stop Feinstein's water-bill rider.'' This is a great article 
about how it isn't the jurisdiction of this committee and how it is a 
rider, which is one of the most objectionable parts for our colleagues 
because regular order wasn't followed and it sets a bad precedent.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

              [From San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 7, 2016]

                   Stop Feinstein's Water-Bill Rider


       Sen. Dianne Feinstein calls her rider to a bipartisan water 
     appropriations bill a way to improve efficiencies and capture 
     more supply from ``wasted'' river flows for California 
     cities, agriculture and the environment. Sen. Barbara Boxer, 
     the author of the bill the rider amends, calls it a ``poison 
     pill'' and vows to filibuster it to death.
       A more temperate read from President Obama's Department of 
     the Interior: Feinstein's drought rider would further 
     complicate already very, very complicated federal water 
     operations in California with no clear gains. The department, 
     and the White House, are opposed, and rightly so.
       California's two senators, both Democrats, are expected to 
     battle it out in the Senate after the Water Resources 
     Development Act (S612) with Feinstein's California drought 
     rider sails through the House Thursday. The Senate fight may 
     be Boxer's last salvo before she retires, and it is unclear 
     she can marshal enough votes to block her own bill. The 700-
     page bill authorizes funding for dozens of water 
     infrastructure projects around the country and emergency aid 
     for Flint, Mich., which has lead-contaminated water.
       Feinstein defended her 90-page California drought 
     resolution as a needed defense against an anticipated 
     Republican effort to open up the Environmental Species Act 
     for major revisions next year. This might include allowing 
     water contractors to increase pumping to levels that would 
     benefit agriculture but devastate already threatened native 
     fish and essentially strip away hard-won protections for the 
     environment. She teamed up with House Majority Leader Kevin 
     McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, to squeeze the package which 
     authorizes $558 million for desalination, water recycling, 
     and storage (both dams and groundwater) projects, into an 
     end-of-the year bill. ``If California is going to grow, we 
     must be able to provide prudent amounts of water to our 
     people, and we can't do that right now,'' she said in a 
     telephone interview.
       Feinstein said she has drafted 28 versions during the three 
     years she has tried to pass such legislation.
       But is the rider a shield against worse legislation action 
     or a blueprint to gut the Environmental Species Act? McCarthy 
     described the rider as a modest package of provisions to 
     ameliorate the effects of California's drought, now in its 
     sixth year.
       Feinstein said the rider allows maximum diversions within 
     the legal protections of the Environmental Species Act and 
     the biological opinions (scientific findings) that guide 
     federal water policy. The environmental community and Boxer 
     see it as the first and immediate step of a larger plan to 
     divert more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers and Los 
     Angeles area water users.
       Drought and warming temperatures, one of the effects of 
     climate change, are tipping off mass extinction of the 
     species in the San Francisco Bay and its estuary. We have to 
     work to share water among people, farms and the environment 
     of California--not try to benefit one interest with a 
     midnight rider.

  Ms. CANTWELL. I would also like to ask the Senator from California if 
she is aware that in this legislation there is also language--and I am 
not sure this is in the jurisdiction of your committee either--giving 
the ability to have dams built in 17 States without initial overview by 
the U.S. Congress, without any other discussions. There would be 
blanket authority given to

[[Page S6949]]

build dams in 17 States without the input of cities, counties, 
constituents, interest groups, river constituents, fishermen.
  We have several projects we have been discussing in the Pacific 
Northwest that I have been involved with and have visited with many 
people to talk about. People go methodically through these issues and 
discuss them in a collaborative way because there are tradeoffs and 
every community has a different opinion. So the notion that we would 
forgo our own State's ability to raise questions here in the U.S. 
Senate about somebody building a dam in our State--why would any Member 
want to forgo their ability as a Member of the U.S. Senate or House of 
Representatives to provide their input on a dam being built on a river 
in their State? Is the Senator aware of this provision?
  Mrs. BOXER. Senator, I was just talking about it briefly, and I 
actually misstated it, so I am glad I was corrected. This rider, 
dropped at midnight, going on a bill that is a beautiful bill that I 
worked on for so long and that the Senator from Washington has worked 
on--and there are a lot of wonderful things in there. This rider went 
through the wrong committee. The issue you talk about, the ability of 
the President of the United States to, by himself, authorize dams in 
the Western States for the next 5 years anywhere in those States is 
unheard of, and it is in your committee's jurisdiction. It is in the 
jurisdiction of the Energy Committee. I hope Senator Murkowski is 
outraged as well.
  The fact is, the Senator is absolutely right. We have a Senator and a 
Congressman getting together and saying that the Congress should be 
bypassed and have no say in where dams should be put, whether dams 
should be built at all, and it is in the jurisdiction of the Energy 
Committee. It is not in the jurisdiction of Environment and Public 
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from California for 
that explanation.
  I also ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record another 
San Francisco story from just yesterday where an attorney, Doug Obegi, 
basically says, to my colleague's point about the midnight darkness of 
this, that the densely technical text ``explicitly authorize[s] the 
Trump administration to violate the biological opinions under the 
Endangered Species Act.''
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                    [From, Dec. 8, 2016]

   House OKs Bill To Increase Pumping From State Rivers; Fish at Risk

                         (By Carolyn Lochhead)

       Washington.--With the help of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-
     Calif., House Republicans moved closer Thursday to achieving 
     their long-sought goal of undermining the Endangered Species 
     Act to deliver more water to California farmers, with the 
     overwhelming passage of a popular water infrastructure bill.
       The bill, which moves to the Senate, contains a legislative 
     rider inserted by Feinstein and House Majority Leader Kevin 
     McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, that would allow the incoming Trump 
     administration to increase pumping from the state's rivers by 
     overruling biological opinions from fish and wildlife 
     agencies that protect salmon, smelt and other native fish 
     that are nearing extinction for lack of flowing rivers.
       The nearly 100-page rider, filled with dense, technical 
     language dictating operation of California's water system, 
     blindsided retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, who plans a last-
     ditch effort in the Senate to block the entire Water 
     Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, which she co-
       Boxer has rounded up support from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-
     Wash., and other West Coast senators but will need 41 votes 
     to prevent the bill from getting beyond the Senate.
       Killing the popular infrastructure bill is an uphill climb, 
     but Boxer said the vote will be close.
       On Thursday, the House passed the bill 360-61, with Bay 
     Area Democrats powerless to stop it. It authorizes billions 
     of dollars in water projects across the nation, including a 
     few for lead poisoning for the municipal water system in 
     Flint, Mich., and elsewhere. It also contains a raft of 
     California projects, including rebuilding levees to protect 
     Sacramento from flooding, restoring wetlands to reduce flood 
     risk around San Francisco Bay, and reducing pollution of Lake 
       House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., specifically hailed the 
     rider for delivering ``much-needed water relief to 
     Californians.'' McCarthy said the rider would prevent water 
     front being ``sent out to sea'' by being left to flow in 
     rivers, and ``will increase pumping.''
       Feinstein said she introduced the rider to forestall worse 
     legislation under the Trump administration. But McCarthy and 
     other San Joaquin Valley Republicans promised that more such 
     legislation can be expected next year, when it will no longer 
     face a veto from President Obama. President-elect Donald 
     Trump has promised to turn on the taps for the state's 
       The rider came out of years of closed-door negotiations 
     between Feinstein and powerful San Joaquin Valley Republicans 
     to address California's five-year drought. These efforts have 
     repeatedly foundered over GOP insistence on weakening 
     protections for endangered salmon, smelt and other fish.
       Feinstein and House Republicans insisted that the rider 
     does not violate the Endangered Species Act, because it 
     contains language saying that nothing within the legislation 
     shall violate existing environmental law.
       But Boxer and Bay Area Democrats said that such general 
     clauses will not override the bill's direct authorizations 
     that mandate higher water deliveries.
       ``When an act of Congress specifically supersedes peer-
     reviewed biological opinions that are the very mechanism of 
     how the Endangered Species Act gets implemented, that is a 
     grave undermining of the act,'' said Rep. Jared Huffman, D-
     San Rafael.
       Doug Obegi, a water lawyer with the Natural Resources 
     Defense Council, an environmental group, pointed to three 
     sections of densely technical text that he said ``explicitly 
     authorize the Trump administration to violate the biological 
     opinions under the Endangered Species Act.'' He said there is 
     no question that if the bill is enacted, ``it is going to be 
     headed to court. It is wholly inconsistent with state law.''

  Ms. CANTWELL. So in the dark of night--I think that is the part where 
the States are going to be told: You are just going to have to build a 
dam. That is it. We decided.
  Then everybody calls us and says: Wait a minute, wait a minute, I 
don't want to dam the river or I want that stream to produce fish or I 
want that to flow downstream for people further downstream, not right 
here. All of that has basically now been given over to someone else.
  I would also like to ask the Senator from California if she is aware 
of provisions of the bill, as people are referring to it, that jilt the 
taxpayers? I know there are a bunch of groups, Taxpayers for Common 
Sense and even the Heritage Foundation--all of these people are 
basically calling out the ridiculous spending aspect of this California 
  I wonder if the Senator from California is aware that this basically 
authorizes prepayment on construction obligations that basically are 
going to take millions of dollars out of the U.S. Treasury. Just by 
passing this legislation, we would be taking money out of the Treasury, 
resulting in basically $1.2 billion in receipts that we would have, but 
giving us a loss of $807 million.
  This is a provision in the bill that I think has had little 
discussion, and this sweetheart deal for people is going to rip off the 
taxpayers, in addition to all of this authorization that is in the 
  Is my colleague from California aware of this provision?
  Mrs. BOXER. I wish to say to my friend that I was aware of the 
provision, but I did not know the details of what you just said. My 
staff confirms that you are absolutely right. Are you saying to me that 
water contractors will be relieved of certain payments and the Federal 
Government will be on the hook--Federal taxpayers? Is that what you 
were saying?
  Ms. CANTWELL. What is happening here is that people who are under 
current contracts on water payments, they would be given a sweetheart 
deal in deduction of their interest, which would allow them to 
shortchange our Treasury on revenues we are expecting.
  That is a big discussion and if everybody wants to take that kind of 
money out of the Treasury and basically give a sweetheart deal to 
people, then we should have that discussion. We should have that 
discussion and understand that this is what we are doing, bless that, 
and hear from our appropriators that this is a worthy thing to do for 
some reason. I can't imagine what that reason would be, given that we 
are shortchanged here, and every day we are talking about how to make 
ends meet with so little revenue. So I don't know why we would give a 
bunch of contractors this ability to cost the Treasury so much money by 
giving them a sweetheart deal. I will enter something into the Record 
about this. As someone said, it would really cause very substantial 
headaches for Treasury, OMB, and various agencies.

[[Page S6950]]

  Again, I think, in the event of somebody thinking it is December and 
people want to go home for the Christmas holidays, people aren't going 
to read the details of this legislation. I hope our colleagues will 
read this detail because I don't think we can afford to cost the 
Treasury this much money.
  Mr. President, I also ask my colleague from California: I assume you 
have had a lot of discussion with our House colleagues about their 
earmark rules. I think one of the reasons the WRDA bill is something 
people support is that it is a list of projects that have been approved 
by various agencies and organizations.
  Mrs. BOXER. That is right.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Has this project been approved by any of those agencies 
or organizations?
  Mrs. BOXER. Well, not only is it this whole notion of moving water 
from one interest. I would call the salmon fishery a critical 
interest--not only in my State. That is why I hate that it is called 
the California drought. It impacts not only California's fishing 
industry, but it impacts Washington's and Oregon's. This is why--save 
one--all of our Senators on the west coast are strongly opposed to 
this. Don't call it California water.
  But the fact of the matter is that this has not been looked at in any 
way. Whether it is the money, whether it is what it does to the 
fishery, no one has really looked. There hasn't even been a hearing 
about this specific bill. I know your committee has looked at a lot of 
ways to help with the drought.
  I compliment my friend from Washington, Senator Cantwell, and Senator 
Murkowski. You have come up with real ways to work with every 
stakeholder and not continue these absurd water wars where we take 
money away from a fishing industry--that is a noble, historic fishing 
industry and tens of thousands of fishermen who support their 
families--and giving it over to big agribusiness. That is not the way 
you want to approach the drought, I say to the Senator. It is not the 
way I want to approach the drought.
  I would never be party to picking a winner and a loser. That is not 
our job. Our job is A, to make sure there are ways through technology 
to get more water to the State that needs it--mostly California at this 
point--and for all of us to work together to preserve that salmon 
fishery. The salmon doesn't know when it is in California, when it is 
in Washington, when it is in Oregon. Let's be clear. We need to protect 
  I am just so grateful to you for being on this floor today because 
your reasons for being here, first and foremost, are that you are 
protecting jobs in your State. Second, you are protecting the 
environment in your State. Third, you are protecting the rights of the 
States, the tribes, and the municipalities to have something to say 
over this. You are protecting the Endangered Species Act, which--as I 
pointed out before you came--was signed by President Richard Nixon, for 
God's sake. This is not a partisan thing. These are God's creatures. I 
will quickly show you this and then take another question. I showed the 
bald eagle and several other species. If there had been shenanigans 
like this, Senator Cantwell--oh, well, we are not going to listen to 
the science; we are just going to do what we want to do--we wouldn't 
have the bald eagle. We wouldn't have these creatures I showed.
  Senator, the fact is that what you are fighting for is not only your 
State, not only for jobs, but you are fighting for the larger point--
that in the dead of night, you don't do a sneak attack on one of the 
landmark laws that you and I so strongly support.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I wish to ask the Senator from 
California--because there is another element she is alluding to--about 
how to resolve water issues. While my understanding is your committee 
is very involved in basically the Federal Government programs that help 
communities around our country deal with water infrastructure and clean 
water, the larger issues of how a community settles these disputes 
about water on Federal land has really been the jurisdiction of the 
Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
  But my understanding is that this bill is also trying to weigh in on 
disputes as it relates to the larger Colorado basin. I know my 
colleague from Arizona is very concerned because his views weren't 
heard. I know this is a big fight as a result of the language that is 
in here on the southern part of our country, where there is also a 
water dispute, and various States are debating this.
  I remember when our former colleague Tom Daschle was here, and there 
was a whole big fight on a river issue that the Upper Midwest was 
concerned about. If my understanding is correct, basically what we are 
trying to do in this legislation is, instead of having the 
collaborative discussion among these various States to work together to 
resolve it, they are basically saying: No, no, no, we can just put an 
earmark rider in and instead make all the decisions for everybody and 
choose winners and losers. So it is not just a Pacific Northwest 
issue--of San Francisco, Oregon, and Washington--but also relates to 
challenges we have on the Colorado River and challenges in the 
southeast part of our country.
  Basically, it sets up a discussion in the future of why would you 
ever regionally get together to discuss anything if you could just jam 
it through in the legislation by, basically--as our colleague Elizabeth 
Warren said--putting a little cherry on top and getting people to say: 
Oh, this must really be good. Then the consequences of this are that 
the thorny, thorny issues of water collaboration aren't going to be 
about the current rules of the road or collaboration. It is going to be 
about earmarks and riders that Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Heritage 
Foundation, and all of these people object to as the worst of the worst 
of Congress.
  Mrs. BOXER. Right. I would say this: I did hear, along with my 
colleague, Elizabeth Warren describe it. She described it a little bit 
like this. You take a beautiful bill like WRDA. For the most part, it 
is not perfect, but it is a pretty darn good bill. Then you put a pile 
of dirt on top of it, which I call the McCarthy rider, and then you 
stick a little Maraschino cherry on top, which is Flint, and a couple 
of other good things, and you say: OK, eat the dirt. That is another 
way of explaining it.
  My friend is right. What is the message if we don't fight this darn 
thing, perhaps defeat it, and get it stripped out. We have an amendment 
to strip it out if we could get to it.
  What we are essentially saying to all the people, the stakeholders in 
the water wars, is this: You know, what is important is to your clout. 
Give enough money to this person, agribusiness and maybe you can 
control him, or give enough money to this person and maybe you control 
  The bottom line is we need to bring everybody to the table because my 
friend and I understand a couple of things. The water wars are not 
going to be solved unless everyone buys in. There are ways we can do 
this. We have done this work before. We can reach agreement, because if 
we don't, what happens? Lawsuits. Let me just be clear. There are going 
to be lawsuits and lawsuits and lawsuits because this is a clear 
violation of the Endangered Species Act. Some colleagues say: Oh, no, 
it isn't. It says in there it is not.
  Well, very good, let's say we loaded a weapon and we dropped it on 
another country, and they said: This is war; you just dropped a bomb on 
us. We said: No, it isn't. We said we weren't declaring war on you. It 
is the action that counts, not what you say. A rose is a rose, as 
William Shakespeare once said--call it any other name.
  This is an earmark. This is wrong. This is painful. This violates the 
Endangered Species Act. This is going to lead to the courthouse door. 
That is why my friend and I are not very popular right now around this 
joint because we are standing here and people want to go home. They are 
annoyed. Why is she still talking?
  Well, I am still talking. I don't want to.
  I say to my colleague, I ask her a question on my time, which is 
this: Does she think it is really painful for me to have to filibuster 
my own bill?
  Ms. CANTWELL. I thank you for your steadfast leadership in the 
Senate. As to the fact that you are retiring, you are certainly going 
to be missed. I am sure you would like to have legislation on the water 
resources pass. I think you brought up a very important point: Strip 
out language for which there is bipartisan support asking for it to be 
stripped out. And there

[[Page S6951]]

is bipartisan support asking for it to be stripped out because people 
with true water interests have not been allowed to have their say.
  We could get this done today--be done with this and be on our way.
  I think, for our colleagues who want us to be done, there is an easy 
path forward--a very easy path. Just strip out the language on 
California and send it back.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, since we are kind of reversing things, I 
ask unanimous consent that my friend control the time right now.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. BARRASSO. I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Mrs. BOXER. OK, I will just hold the floor forever. That is fine.
  I say to my friend, you have been through these kinds of wars before 
when you were standing alone trying to stop drilling in the Arctic. I 
remember all of our colleagues saying: Oh, my God, this is terrible. 
This drilling in the Arctic is on the military bill. Imagine--drilling 
in the Arctic. They put it on the national defense bill.
  My friend was approached, and she was told: Senator, you are going to 
bring down the entire defense of this country if you don't back off.
  My friend said: I don't think so. All you have to do is strip this 
Arctic rider, and we are done.
  Am I right in my recollection of that?
  Ms. CANTWELL. The Senator is correct. It was December and the same 
kind of scenario. Basically, jamming something onto a must-pass bill 
was a way that somebody thought this body would just roll over. In the 
end we didn't. We sent it back to the House, and the Defense bill was 
passed in very short order.
  In fact, it is the exact same scenario. The House had already gone 
home, and I think they basically opened up for business again and 
passed it with two people in the Chamber. So it can be done. It has 
been done. If people want to resolve this issue and go home, then strip 
out this earmark rider language and we can be done with it and we can 
have the WRDA bill and we can be done.

  So I think that what my colleague is suggesting--because it isn't 
really even the authority of the WRDA committee--is that she probably 
would be glad to get language that is not her jurisdiction off of this 
bill and communicate to our House colleagues that this is the approach 
that we should be taking.
  So I would like to ask through the Chair if, in fact, the Senator 
from California understands that that kind of approach on earmarks is 
something that she has heard a lot about from our House colleagues, 
about how opposed they are.
  Mrs. BOXER. Yes, I have. I wish to say, since our friend is here--I 
am not doing anything, an attack on anything, and I never would. It is 
not my way.
  I am going to ask unanimous consent right now, Senator Cantwell, 
without losing my right to the floor and making sure I get the floor 
back; is that correct? After I make a unanimous consent request, I 
assume I would still have the floor under the rules.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. It depends on what the unanimous consent 
request is.
  Mrs. BOXER. The request would be to strip the rider out. My 
colleagues look perplexed. We have been talking about a 98-page rider 
that was added to the WRDA bill, and we have filed an amendment to do 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. It is not in order.
  Mrs. BOXER. Excuse me?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. This request is not in order.
  Mrs. BOXER. A unanimous consent request is not in order?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. It is not in order to strip out House language 
by unanimous consent.
  Mrs. BOXER. Then I would ask through the Chair, what would the 
appropriate language be to get unanimous consent? Is it to allow an 
amendment to do that? Would that be the right way to go?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. A motion to concur with an amendment.
  Mrs. BOXER. So we could ask for that by unanimous consent--to have 
such an amendment, and I want to make sure that after I make that, I 
would not lose the right to the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. That is correct.
  Mrs. BOXER. Thank you.

                       Unanimous Consent Request

  So on behalf of my friend from Washington and myself, I ask unanimous 
consent that we be allowed to offer an amendment to strip a rider that 
was placed on the bill by Kevin McCarthy in the House, and it is 98 
pages, and it is in the House bill. It is called the California draft 
provision. I ask unanimous consent that we be allowed to have an 
amendment to strip out that language.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Mrs. BOXER. That was a good test.
  We can see where this is coming from, I say to my friend from 
Washington. All we are asking for is to go back to a bill that we 
worked on for almost 2 years, and now we are looking at a situation 
where we will be harmed in many ways by this rider.
  When I say ``we,'' I mean our States. We have thousands of salmon 
fishery jobs that will be lost. We have a frontal attack on the 
Endangered Species Act, which has been called out by every major 
environmental group in the country. We have letters from every salmon 
fishery organization saying that this is dangerous. Yet all we are 
asking for is a simple amendment to strip out a midnight rider, and the 
Republicans object.
  In that rider, it takes away the right of Congress to approve dams. 
So whether it is in Colorado or Wyoming or California or Washington or 
Oregon or Montana--and there are many other Western States--the 
President-elect will have the right to determine where to put a dam. He 
will have the ability, for the first time in history, to authorize the 
building of dams. And the answer comes back from those who support the 
rider: But Congress has to appropriate.
  Well, we know where that goes. I have been here a long time. All you 
need is a little appropriation every year, and the deal continues.
  So we have a circumstance on our hands. I know people in the Senate 
are really mad at me right now. What a perfect way for me to go out. I 
was a pain in the neck when I came, and I am a pain in the neck when I 
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I have a question for the Senator from 
  The irony of this situation--first of all, I appreciate the Senator 
from California, because she is such a stalwart in so many different 
ways on so many different issues. What people may not know about the 
colleague we love dearly is that she is greatly theatrical. She has a 
beautiful voice. She writes music. She obviously lives in L.A. and 
probably hobnobs with all sorts of people in the entertainment 
industry. She sang beautifully the other night at our goodbye dinner 
for the retiring Members.
  This reminds me of that movie ``Chinatown.'' There was a famous movie 
that Jack Nicholson was in that was all about the corruption behind 
  Mrs. BOXER. And Faye Dunaway, just so you know.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Yes, and Faye Dunaway. So Jack Nicholson and Faye 
Dunaway did a movie a long time ago about the water wars in California; 
am I correct?
  Mrs. BOXER. Yes.
  Ms. CANTWELL. So it was a movie about the fight between Southern and 
Northern California about who gets water, and then people found out 
that there was so much corruption behind the deal that basically people 
were trying to do a fast one.
  So the subject, if I am correct--that is what the subject of the 
movie is about. This is not a new subject; it is a very old subject. 
The question is, are people trying to supersede a due process here that 
consumers--in fact, I would ask--I hope the ratepayers and constituents 
of the utilities in Los Angeles would be asking the utility: What are 
they doing lobbying against the Endangered Species Act? My guess is 
there are a lot of people in Southern California that have no idea that 
a utility would lobby, spend their public

[[Page S6952]]

dollars lobbying against a Federal statute by undermining it with a 
rider in the dark of night.

  But I wanted to ask my colleague: This issue is a historic issue in 
California, correct? And when it is done in the dark of night, as that 
movie depicts, what happens is that the issues of public interests are 
ignored and consequently people are shortchanged. Is that the Senator's 
  Mrs. BOXER. Yes. I wish to yield my time to my friend. But here is 
what I am going to say right now. The Senator from Washington is 
absolutely right that this issue has been around California for a very 
long time. So I will yield my time to the Senator from Washington--I 
yield for a question. I can't yield the full time; I can yield for a 
  But the answer to the other question is of course the Senator is 
right. She talks about the movie ``Chinatown.'' Do you know what year? 
I think it was the 1980s, a long time ago. I remember it well. It was 
about the water wars, and it resulted in people dying. It was 
corruption. It was about who gets the water rights.
  Here is the deal: Here we have our beautiful State and, as my friend 
knows, because of the miracle of nature, Northern California gets the 
water; Southern California--it has been called a desert. So we have 
always had a problem.
  When I came to the Senate, we had 18 million people, and now we have 
40 million people. So we have urban users, suburban users, rural users, 
farmers, and fishermen. We have to learn to work together. Do we do 
that? Not the way Kevin McCarthy did it, which is a grab for big 
agriculture, which destroys the salmon fishery and is going to bring 
pain on the people who drink the water from the delta because it is 
going to have a huge salt content that has to be taken out before they 
can drink it. So this is the opposite of what ought to happen.
  I yield back to my friend for another question.
  Ms. CANTWELL. On that point, in the process for discussing these 
water agreements, the Senator from California is saying they don't 
belong in her committee, and they have been controversial over a long 
period of time, and the best way to do this is not through an earmark, 
which this is--the notion that the House of Representatives is jamming 
the U.S. Senate on a half-billion-dollar earmark is just amazing to me 
because of the water agreements that people have negotiated and that 
have passed through these committees and that have been agreed to. They 
are not letting those go, but they are letting this particular earmark 
go, and sending this over. But the normal process would be for these 
Federal agencies and communities to work together on a resolution, and 
then if resources were asked for, they would come through, I believe, 
the Energy and Natural Resources Committee for authorization because we 
are the ones who deal with the Bureau of Reclamation and the public 
land issues. Is that the understanding of the Senator from California 
as well?
  Mrs. BOXER. Absolutely. What is such a joke is that my Republican 
friends, who were just objecting to our having an amendment to take 
this earmark off, always give big speeches about how Congress is 
putting all of these earmarks in. Well, this is a clear earmark because 
it is directing a project to run in a certain way and diverting water 
to a special interest and taking it away from the fishery. Therefore, 
by its very nature, it is giving a gift of water to big agribusiness 
and letting the salmon fishery just go under.
  I would say to my friend that the reason she is down here is that 
this is not just about California. The provision is called California 
drought. It is not about the drought. It doesn't cure the drought.
  Yes, my friend is right. Every provision, including the one about 
giving President-Elect Trump the right to decide where a dam will be 
built and taking it away from Congress, that all belongs in the 
jurisdiction of the Senator's committee. I am surprised Senator 
Murkowski isn't here because this is a direct run at her as well as the 
Senator from Washington.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I would ask the Senator from California 
then, the question is on this process of deciding the authorization. I 
notice we had a few colleagues here who were--I don't know if they were 
coming to speak--but in the Senator's region, there is a lot of 
discussion among the Western States on how to balance issues on water; 
is that correct? There are a lot of meetings and discussions?
  Mrs. BOXER. Well, we have no choice, because, as the Senator from 
Washington knows, my State gets a lot of water out of the Colorado 
River. It is under a lot of stress. We have a lot of problems. My heart 
goes out to every single stakeholder in my State. That is why I am so 
chagrined at this, because we all have to work together, I say to my 
friend, in our State.
  We are all suffering because we don't have the water we need. But the 
way to deal with it is not to slam one complete industry called the 
salmon fishery, which not only impacts my State but the Senator's State 
of Washington and Oregon was well.
  Ms. CANTWELL. I have a question for the Senator from California 
because some of our colleagues that were here--my understanding is if 
you can get water from Northern California by just agreeing to kill 
fish and not meeting those obligations, then Southern California can 
take some of that water as well. Then, the consequence is these Western 
States, which might be supporting this bill, have less obligation to 
make more conservation efforts.
  So, in reality, if you are talking about the Colorado River and all 
the various resources that have to be negotiated, if somebody can be 
let off the hook because you are just going to kill fish instead, then 
you have more water. Sure, if you just want to kill fish in streams and 
give all the money to farmers, of course you have more water. Then, no 
one in the Colorado discussion has to keep talking about what are we 
going to do about drought.
  I think the Senator from California is going to tell me that drought 
is not going away; it is a growing issue of concern, and so we actually 
need more people to discuss this in a collaborative way than in an end-
run way.
  Am I correct about the partners and all of that discussion?
  Mrs. BOXER. My friend is very knowledgeable and very smart. People 
tend to look at a provision, I say to my friend, in a very narrow way. 
They say: Oh, what is the difference? It doesn't matter. But my friend 
is right on the bigger picture. If all the fishery dies and all of the 
jobs with the fishery die and there is no demand for the water for the 
fish anymore, my friend is right. That relieves the discussion.
  So, yes, you know what it reminds me of, I say to my friend. I don't 
know if she agrees with this analogy. But I remember once when they 
said: Let's raise the retirement age for social security because people 
are working longer and it will help the Social Security trust fund.
  Well, if you take that, my friend, to the ultimate, why don't we say 
people should work until they are 90? Then there won't be any Social 
Security problem because everyone will die before it kicks in. It is 
the same analogy here: You kill off all the fish and the entire salmon 
fishery, then all you have is agriculture demanding water, and then 
they will try to step on the urban users and suburban users and the 
rural users and say: We are the only thing that matters. And they are 
already using, under most analyses, 80 percent of the water in my 
  So you are right. You kill off the fishery, then that is one less 
stakeholder to care about. You tell people ``Don't retire until you are 
90,'' the Social Security trust fund will be very vibrant.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, as the Senator from California knows, 
one of the States concerned about this is Arizona because they have 
kind of been left out of that discussion. It also says to people: You 
don't have to have these discussions amongst everybody together; you 
can just write it into law. My understanding is that our colleagues 
from Florida and Alabama also have a similar concern. People are trying 
to use the legislative process to unbalance the negotiations so they 
can legislate instead of negotiate. Not only are they trying to 
legislate instead of negotiate, they are trying to use earmarks to do 
it and overrule existing law.
  So am I correct, to the Senator from California--are we going to get 
anywhere with getting California more

[[Page S6953]]

water if, in fact, this ends up in courts and it is stayed, and you 
really won't get any water in the next few years?
  I should make a footnote for my colleague from California. Thank you 
for your compliment.
  I had to chair a 3-hour hearing once on the San Joaquin River 
settlement. It was about 18 years of dispute on what to do about the 
San Joaquin water. Because of that, I learned a lot about the fights in 
California and all of the problems that California had then. This was 
at the time my colleague Tim Johnson was the chair of that subcommittee 
and had been stricken ill, and they asked me if I could step in. I had 
no idea I was going to spend 3 hours hearing about 18 years of 
litigation. That is right--18 years of litigation on the San Joaquin 
River. Basically, people came to that hearing that day--which is now 
probably 10 years ago--to tell me it was not worth the 18 years of 
litigation. They had determined that while they could sue each other 
all they wanted, that getting to a resolution about how to move forward 
on water had to be a much more collaborative solution to the process.
  Secondly, I would mention to my colleague from California and see if 
she knows about this--the same happened on the Klamath Basin, which is 
legislation we passed out of committee and tried to pass here. The 
Klamath Basin basically said: Let's negotiate.
  The various people in that dispute had a dispute and actually went to 
court, and the regional tribe won in the court and basically didn't 
have to do anything more on water issues but decided that, in the good 
interest of trying to have a resolution, it was a good idea to come to 
the table and try this collaborative approach.
  I was mentioning my time chairing a 3-hour hearing on the San Joaquin 
River settlement that people had come to after 18 years of fighting 
each other in court. They came and they said: Oh, we have a settlement. 
The point was, we tried to litigate and sue each other for 18 years and 
we didn't get anywhere, and now we have a settlement and we would like 
to move forward.
  My point is, the best way for us to move forward on water issues is 
to have everybody at the table and come to agreements because there are 
a lot of things you can do in the near term while you are working on 
water in a more aggressive fashion to get to some of the thornier 
issues. But if you basically try to litigate and legislate instead of 
negotiate, you end up oftentimes just getting litigation, like what 
happened with the San Joaquin. So you never get a solution and people 
don't have the water. You end up not having a resolution, and the whole 
point is to get people water.
  So does the Senator think that is where we are headed if we end up 
just trying to tell people: You can legislate.
  Well, it sounds interesting, and if you get somebody to write an 
earmark for you, you are in good shape, I guess, if you can get that 
out of the House of Representatives. But in reality, you are not in 
good shape if you don't actually get water because you end up in a 
lawsuit for so many years, like San Joaquin.
  Is that where we are going to head on this?
  Mrs. BOXER. I say to my friend, she is so smart on this. Of course 
that is where we are headed. And I encourage this. If this happens and 
the Senator and I are not successful and this winds up to be the law of 
the land--a provision added in the dead of night that forces water to 
be operated in a certain way that violates the biological opinions on 
fish, that violates the science--I hope they take this to court day 
one. I don't care; say whatever you want: Oh, this isn't a violation of 
the Endangered Species Act. Really? Clearly it is.
  The Senator is absolutely right. Eighteen years in court over an 
agreement. That is another reason I am totally stunned at this. But I 
think it is about what my friend said--who has the most juice, who has 
the most power to sit down and get someone who is a Senator or a Member 
of the House to add language? It is a nightmare.
  The reason we have been obstreperous, the reason we are standing on 
our feet, the reason we didn't yield to other people is we are trying 
to make a simple point. The Senator shows it with her chart.
  For all the people who said we shouldn't do earmarks, this is such an 
incredible earmark, it actually tells the Federal Government how to 
operate a water project--it is extraordinary--and to walk away from a 
biological opinion from the science. Of course it is going to wind up 
in court. I hope it does. What I would rather do is beat it. What I 
would rather do is get it out because it is only, as my friend said, 
going to encourage more similar types of legislating, where people have 
the power and the money and the ear of a Senator to call up and say: 
You know what. I am having trouble in my agribusiness. I need more 

  It is ridiculous. We are all suffering in this drought, I say to my 
friend. California is in a drought. There is a lot of rain coming down 
in the north, very little in the south, and I pray to God it continues. 
I do. We have been getting a lot of rain so far, but I don't trust it 
at all.
  There are two ways to meet this challenge. One way is to figure out a 
way to get more water to everyone. That means taking the salt out of 
water--and we do it. I have toured the desal plants, and it is very 
encouraging. One way is to take the salt out or put more water in the 
system. Another way is to recycle. Another way is conservation. Another 
way is water recharging. We know how to do it. The Senator is an 
expert. All of this is in her committee, which was bypassed.
  The other way to do is the wrong way to do it, which is take the side 
of one business group--agribusiness--versus a salmon fishery and 
destroy the salmon fishery. Then, as my friend points out, in years to 
come: Well, isn't that a shame? There are no more salmon fisheries, so 
we get all the water. In the meantime, we are eating farmed salmon, and 
all these people are out of work and their families are devastated 
after a way of life they have had for a very long time.
  So my friend is very prescient on the point, and she talks about the 
reality. We are here. We are not dreamers. We are realists. We know 
what happens in the water wars.
  I continue to yield to my friend.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I would ask my colleague--again, I don't 
think this is in the jurisdiction of her committee. That is why I am 
asking--if we did want to pursue with the Bureau of Reclamation the 
notion that we should do more underground water storage, again, that 
would be something we would authorize. That is what I want to ask the 
Senator, if that is, in fact, the case.
  My understanding--because we have to deal with this so much in the 
Pacific Northwest. We are a hydro State which has affordable 
electricity, but we get it out of a snowpack that comes in the 
wintertime. Now that the climate is changing and it is getting warmer, 
we don't have a large snowpack, so one of the ways to store that 
snowpack--which would be great to do--would be to have underground 
aquifer storage. I think that is an idea Stanford University has signed 
off on. They basically signed off on it because they said it was the 
most cost-effective thing for the taxpayer and had the most immediate 
  What the Senator was just saying about rain--if you get a lot of rain 
right now--because it is not snowpack. If it is rain, store it, just 
like we were storing the snowpack, but now store it in aquifers 
underground, and that would then give us the ability to have more 
water. Stanford is like: Yes, yes, yes, this is the best thing to do. 
And this is what I think your State is trying to pursue.
  In that regard, I don't even think that is the jurisdiction of the 
Senator's committee, if I am correct, but is that an idea that you and 
California would pursue as a way to immediately, in the next few years, 
start a process for getting water to the Central Valley and to various 
parts of California?
  Mrs. BOXER. Without a doubt. My friend is right. It is not like we 
are dealing with a subject matter that has no solutions, and science 
has shown us the various ways to do it. Certainly underground storage 
is fantastic, recharging. There are all these things we know--
recycling, conservation, and desal. These are just some thoughts.
  My friend is right: The jurisdiction is mostly in her committee. We 
may have a few things to do. Wonderful. But that is not the important 
point. To me, the important point is here we have--and I am going to 
sum it up and then I will

[[Page S6954]]

yield the floor and hope my friend will take the floor because I need 
to run and do 17 things, and then I will be back.
  Here is the situation. We have a Water Resources Development Act 
bill. It passed here with 95 votes. Nothing passes here with 95 votes, 
even saying ``Happy Mother's Day.'' It is a beautiful bill, my friend. 
Is it perfect? No. But it was very good. For my State, for the 
Senator's State, it was very good. Now, it is moving through the House, 
and in the middle of the night, without anyone even seeing it, this 
horrible poison pill amendment is added which essentially is a frontal 
attack on the salmon fishery and all the people who work in it not only 
in my State, but in the Senator's State and Oregon. So all of the 
Senators, save one, are apoplectic about what it means to jobs and what 
it means to tradition and what it means to have wild salmon. It is very 
important. So it is a frontal assault on the industry; it is a frontal 
assault on the ESA; and it is a frontal assault on the notion that 
there are no more earmarks.
  Then it has another provision cutting the Congress out of authorizing 
new dams in all of the Western States for the next 5 years. This is 
dropped from the ceiling into the WRDA bill.
  Now, I stand as one of the two people who did the most work on that 
bill saying vote no. It is very difficult for me. But I think it is 
absolutely a horrible process, a horrible rider. It is going to result 
in pain and suffering among our fishing families.
  With that, I thank my friend, and I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from California for 
her steadfast support of doing the right things on clean water and 
clean air and for focusing on this issue for her State because 
ultimately she wants water for her State. She knows litigation is not 
the route to get it. She knows that there are things we can be doing 
here but that we have to get people to support that. So I thank her for 
her obligation to making sure her constituents get real results.
  This rider is a giveaway to projects that are basically described as 
deadbeat dams, projects in California that are opposed by tribes and 
fishermen and sportsmen and environmental communities. Basically, it 
writes a blank check to them, allowing millions of taxpayer dollars to 
be used to construct dams throughout the West without any further 
congressional approval.
  That, in and of itself, should cause our colleagues to pause. You are 
going to go home and have to tell your constituents all of a sudden 
that someone is building a dam on a beautiful river in your State and 
you can't do anything about it. I would hope our colleagues in those 17 
Western States that would be impacted by this would do something to 
help tell our colleagues to strip out this controversial provision and 
send it back to the House in a clean bill.
  In addition, as I mentioned, section 4007 authorizes the Secretary to 
pay up to one-quarter of the cost of State water storage in any of 
these 17 reclamation States. The Secretary would have to notify 
Congress within 30 days after deciding to participate.
  These issues on our process are going to make it much harder for us 
in the future to not have the taxpayers paying for projects that are 
nothing but further litigation in the process. Why is collaboration so 
important? Collaboration is important because these are thorny issues. 
There are lots of different national interests at stake and a lot of 
local interest and a lot of jobs. My colleague from California, 
probably not in the last hour that we have been discussing this but 
probably earlier in the afternoon, mentioned the huge amount of Pacific 
West Coast fisheries that are also opposed to this bill, and Trout 
Unlimited which is opposed to this legislation, and various fishing 
groups and organizations because fishermen want to have rivers that are 
functioning with clean water and enough stream flow for fish to 
  The fishing economy in the Northwest, I can easily say, is worth 
billions. Anybody who knows anything about the Pacific Northwest--
whether you are in Oregon or in Washington, maybe even Alaska--the 
pride of our region is the Pacific Coast salmon. The Pacific Coast 
salmon is about having the ability to have good, healthy rivers and 
stream flow. For us in the Northwest, this is an issue I can easily say 
we have at least 100 Ph.D.s on; that is to say, the subject is so 
knowledgeable, so formulated, so battled over, so balanced that it 
would be like having 100 Ph.D.s in the subject. That is because we have 
a huge Columbia River basin, and because the Columbia River basin has 
many tributaries and because the salmon is such an icon, it needs that 
  We also have a hydrosystem, and we also have an incredible 
agriculture business in our State. I think we are up to something 
like--when you take varieties of agricultural products, something like 
70 different agricultural products--we, too, have to balance fish, 
farming, fishermen, and tribes, the whole issues of our environment and 
recreation and the need for hydro, and balance that all out. We have to 
do that practically every single day.
  It has been these kinds of decisions that have taught us as a region 
and a State that by collaboration, we can get results and move forward. 
I and one of my colleagues in the House who was the former leader on 
the Committee on Natural Resources, Doc Hastings, probably now more 
than 10-plus years ago, had regional discussions with then-Secretary of 
the Interior Salazar who came to the Northwest, and we sat down and we 
asked: What do we do about the Yakima Basin?
  It was Sunday morning, and you would think that everybody getting 
together on Sunday morning, is it that important? Well, it was. There 
were probably 50 or 60 different interests meeting with us--the Bureau 
of Rec, the Secretary of the Interior, Congressman Hastings, me, and 
many other interests, and we talked about what do we want to do with 
the Yakima Basin.
  There has been great pride that I have had to offer legislation, 
along with my colleague Senator Murray, on how to move the Yakima Basin 
project forward in the U.S. Senate. I say with ``pride'' because it was 
a collaborative effort. These are people who do not agree with each 
other, who have fought each other, who basically probably disagree on 
the most essential elements of their viewpoint, and yet reached 
consensus--delighted in their resolve--and came forward with 
legislation to say this is how you should deal with our water problems 
in a drought when your State has both farming and fishing needs.
  Our Governor got behind it, Governor Inslee. Other people got behind 
it. I have been at several forums. National organizations, California 
institutions are holding up the Yakima deal as the example of how water 
management should be done in the future. Why? Because it was holistic. 
That means it included everything on the table. It was a regional 
approach and everybody came to the table, and because it didn't try to 
solve every single problem up front but came to what we could agree to 
today and move forward--because it would claim some water that we need 
  The fact that the Yakima project became such a milestone, our 
colleagues in Klamath, OR, did the same things: They worked together in 
a collaborative fashion and tried to discuss these issues. I would say, 
for the most part, all of these issues have been, with these 
discussions in the past that our colleagues bring legislation to the 
U.S. Senate, very rarely has somebody brought language without 
everybody locally working together and agreeing.

  I don't know of times when my colleagues have brought legislation 
where they are basically just trying to stick it to one State or the 
other--except for now, this seems to be the norm. This seems to be what 
we are being encouraged to do today. The California project is one in 
which we wish that they would seek the same kind of collaborative 
approach to dealing with both fishermen, whose economy is immensely 
important in California, and farmers who also are important but should 
not have the ability to supersede these laws that are already on the 
  What they should do is learn from the San Joaquin River proposal. You 
can battle this for 18 years or you can resolve these differences and 
move forward. When you can write an earmark and send it over here as a 
poison pill on a bill, you are hoping that you don't have to sit down 
at the table and work in a constructive fashion.

[[Page S6955]]

  It is very disappointing to me that some of the partners in this 
deal, as we put ideas on the table to give 300,000 acre-feet to the 
farmers in the Westlands region over the next 2 years, give them 
300,000 acre-feet of water over the next 2 years while we are working 
with them on an aquifer recharge. Their answer back to us was: We want 
to play our hand here and see if we can jam this through first.
  Basically, they don't want to work in a collaborative fashion. They 
don't want to work with the region to find solutions. They want to 
legislate something that will lead to litigation. Litigation is not 
going to lead to more water, it is going to lead to longer delays in 
getting water to everybody who needs it.
  I wouldn't be out here spending this much time with our colleagues if 
it wasn't for the fact that this issue is just at its beginning. 
Drought has already cost our Nation billions of dollars, and it is 
going to cost us more; that is, drought is causing great issues with 
water, fish, and farming. It is also causing problems with fire. It is 
making our forests more vulnerable to the type of explosive fires that 
we have seen in the Pacific Northwest that wiped across 100,000 acres 
of forest land in just 4 hours. Those are the kind of things that hot 
and dry weather can do.
  Our colleagues need to come together on what would be the process for 
us dealing with drought. The fact that California has been the tip of 
the spear is just that; it is just the tip of the spear. Everybody else 
is going to be dealing with this in Western States. My colleagues who 
represent hot and dry States already know. They have had to deal with 
this from a collaborative process.
  I hope our colleagues who care greatly about the fact that drought is 
going to be a persistent problem for the future would come together 
with us and say: We can get out of town tonight. We can get out of town 
in the next few hours. All you have to do is accept our offer to strip 
this poison pill earmark, which is costing taxpayers one-half billion 
dollars, off the WRDA bill because it is not even part of the WRDA 
jurisdiction and send back a clean WRDA bill to the House of 
  That is what my colleagues on the other side of the aisle want, and 
that is what we want. The only people who are holding this place up are 
the people who want to jam somebody in December at the end of a session 
because it is the way to get poison pill ideas done.
  People are taking note. I know the San Francisco Chronicle had a 
story about the House OKs a bill to increase pumping from our rivers 
and putting fish at risk. There was a quote about undermining the 
Endangered Species Act.
  There was an editorial as well, I believe, from the same newspaper. I 
don't know that we have a quote from the editorial here, but I think I 
submitted that earlier for the Record. It basically said: Stop the 
Feinstein water bill rider. It basically said that we have to work to 
share water among people, farmers, and the environment, not try to 
benefit one interest over the other with a midnight rider.
  The press is watching. I think there was a story today in the San 
Jose newspaper as well. I don't know if I have that with me, but we 
will enter that later into the Record. Having other newspapers in 
California write editorials on this is most helpful because it is 
bringing to light the kinds of things that are happening in the U.S. 
Senate that people all throughout the West need to pay attention to.
  We wish that drought could be solved so easily by just giving one 
interest more resources over the other, but that is not the way we are 
going to deal with this. If we have colleagues in the House who would 
rather steal water from fish than fund aquifer recharge, then we should 
have that debate in the U.S. Senate in the committee of jurisdiction or 
even here on the floor as it relates to whose jurisdiction and funding 
it really is. To stick the taxpayer with the bill of paying for dams in 
17 States without any further discussion by our colleagues is certainly 
putting the taxpayers at risk, and that is why taxpayer organizations 
have opposed this legislation.
  If we want to get this done and if we want to get out of here, let's 
strip this language off and let's be done with it and send to our 
colleagues a clean WRDA bill and be able to say to people that we did 
something for water this year, but we didn't kill fish in the process 
of doing it.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.

                    Montenegro Membership Into NATO

  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, we have been running the hotline on the 
accession of Montenegro as a member of the NATO alliance. As a member 
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Presiding Officer knows 
we have held extensive discussions and hearings on NATO and the 
accession of Montenegro as a member into the NATO alliance.
  Quite frankly, this is a very important matter for us to try to 
complete before we adjourn this session of Congress, and let me say 
why. Montenegro has taken all of the necessary steps in order to be in 
full compliance for joining the alliance of NATO. We have very 
carefully reviewed their commitment in regard to their military, 
defense budgets, institutional changes they have made, their 
willingness to take on the responsibilities as a full NATO partner, and 
quite frankly, they have endured outside interference which has tried 
to compromise their ability to complete the process.
  What do I mean by that? Montenegro recently had parliamentary 
elections, and Russia tried to interfere with the parliamentary 
elections to try to instill some instability in that country as an 
effort to influence not only Montenegro but the international 
community's--the members of NATO--interest in completing the approval 
of NATO. Every member state of the alliance must approve any new member 
and requires votes in all states. Several have already voted to approve 
the accession of Montenegro into the alliance.
  The reason I say this is extremely important to get done now is 
because Russia does not hold a veto on the accession of new countries 
and new states into the NATO alliance. They have done everything they 
could to try to interfere with this process.
  I think the clear message is that the Senate is not going to be 
intimidated by Russia and that we are going to stand by this alliance. 
We have a chance to do that within the next, I hope, few hours before 
the Congress completes its work.
  I really wanted to underscore the importance of us taking action on 
the Montenegro issue. The Ambassador to Montenegro has attended our 
committee meetings frequently and kept us informed on everything that 
has taken place.
  I had a chance to meet with many of our partner states in regard to 
Montenegro. Many of these countries have already taken action, but 
quite frankly, it is U.S. action that will be the most significant.
  It is important that we speak with a very strong voice. If we don't 
get it done now, it will not be allowed to come up until the next 
Congress, and we have a new administration coming in on January 20. I 
think it is important that we complete this process now. It is strongly 
supported by the administration and by the Democrats and Republicans. 
The recommendation passed our committee with unanimous support.
  I thank Chairman Corker for handling this matter in a very 
expeditious and thorough way. We didn't shortcut anything. We have gone 
through the full process. It is now time for us to act. If we want to 
send a clear message that Russia cannot intimidate the actions of the 
Senate or our partners, then I think the clearest way we can send that 
message is to vote and make sure we complete action on the accession of 
Montenegro before Congress adjourns sine die.
  I think it is pretty much clear that both the Democratic and 
Republican hotlines--there have not been any specific objections I am 
aware of that have been raised by any Member of the U.S. Senate to 
taking final action on this issue. I know we have other issues 
interfering with the consideration of some bills. I urge everyone to 
resolve those issues so this very important matter can be completed.
  As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 
and again working with Chairman Corker, I can tell you this is a very 
important step for us to take in this Congress,

[[Page S6956]]

and I urge our colleagues to figure out a way that we can bring this to 
conclusion before Congress adjourns.
  As I said, I come to the floor to speak in support of the Senate 
providing its advice and consent to the Protocol to the North Atlantic 
Treaty of 1949 on the accession of Montenegro.
  I have been a strong supporter of Montenegro's bid to join NATO. It 
will enhance our security. It will strengthen the alliance. And it will 
send a strong message of resolve to Russia as it invades its neighbors 
and seeks to upend the international order. Montenegro may be a small 
country, but its inclusion in NATO will have positive repercussions 
across the continent and will send an important message of hope to 
other aspirant countries.
  Republicans need to take the modest steps my colleagues, including 
Senator Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Brown of Ohio, are asking 
for to take proper care of coal miners and their families in this 
country. And then we need to move on the Montenegro NATO resolution--
today. I am pleased to say that no one in the Democratic caucus has 
expressed any concern to me about this resolution, and they are ready 
to pass it once our coal miners are taken care of.
  I stand here today in support of NATO enlargement. The Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee recently voted by voice vote in support of this 
bid--unanimously with Republican and Democratic support. And so even if 
Republicans don't take care of our miners today, and as a result we 
cannot pass this resolution, I fully expect my colleagues across the 
aisle, and the President, to fully support this effort in early 
January. We can get this done. We must get it done.
  So what is the case for Montenegro's membership?
  Admission of Montenegro would mark another important step towards 
fully integrating the Balkans into international institutions which 
have helped to contribute to peace and stability over the years in 
Europe. Croatia and Albania joined the alliance in 2009 and have been 
valuable contributors to accomplishing NATO objectives since then, and 
I hope that Montenegro's admission will help to motivate the reforms 
necessary in other Balkan countries to join.
  Montenegro has made outsized contributions to NATO missions despite 
not being a full member. I understand that in Afghanistan, Montenegro 
has rotated 20 percent of its armed forces through the ISAF and 
Resolute Support missions. It also contributed to the peacekeeping 
mission in Kosovo and other NATO missions.
  This small country has clearly made significant contributions to the 
alliance's efforts around the world and made necessary internal reforms 
to address governance, rule of law and corruption issues. I will 
continue to monitor these issues closely and expect Montenegro to 
continue with these reforms.
  Montenegro has been subject to a wave of anti-NATO and anti-western 
propaganda emanating from Russia. There are also allegations that a 
recent coup plan has Russian ties. Blocking Montenegro's ability to 
join NATO will have real implications for how NATO is perceived--Russia 
does not get a veto over the decisions of the alliance. We need to send 
a strong message of resolve.
  No country outside the alliance gets a veto over who gets to join--
epecially Russia, so we must send a strong signal. I urge my colleagues 
to pass this resolution as soon as possible and get it to the President 
so the President can deposit the instrument of ratification at NATO in 
support for Montenegro's bid.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                 Calling for the Release of Austin Tice

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, recently I met with the parents of Austin 
Tice, a constituent of mine in Texas who unfortunately was abducted in 
Syria a few years ago. Of course, his parents have been keeping the 
flame alive, hoping that Austin has survived the situation of his 
  At their suggestion, last week when I was in Austin, they traveled 
over from Houston to visit with me about a briefing they had received 
recently from James C. O'Brien, the Presidential Envoy for Hostage 
  Earlier today, I had a chance to be briefed by Mr. O'Brien. He 
delivered some positive yet cautious news about Austin Tice, an 
American journalist who we know was taken hostage in Syria 4 years ago. 
Mr. O'Brien and his team informed me that they have high confidence 
that Austin is alive in Syria, along with other Americans who are being 
held captive.
  While this is certainly positive news, I can't help but think of his 
parents and what they have had to go through these last 4 years. They 
are not just counting the months, they are not just counting the days, 
but they are literally counting the minutes and the seconds since he 
has been gone and then counting these milestones that we typically 
observe in our family--birthdays and holidays--that they will never 
  So today's news should remind us that we cannot give up until we 
bring Austin Tice home. I renew once again my call for his immediate 
release by his captors, and I strongly urge the current and future 
administration to continue to utilize all possible means to secure his 
safe return. Nothing can bring those years and months back, but we can 
start the healing process by doing everything possible to find Austin 
and bring him home and to bring him home now.

                         Work Before the Senate

  Mr. President, we have gotten quite a bit done this week, but we are 
not finished yet. We passed a major medical innovation bill, which 
contains not only the Cancer Moonshot project advocated by Vice 
President Biden and the President but also other dramatic investments 
in the research and development of lifesaving drugs. It also contains a 
very important component of mental health reform.
  I was glad to contribute some to that effort, particularly the part 
that has to do with the intersection of our mental health treatment 
regime and our criminal justice system. As I have learned and as many 
of us have learned together, our jails have become the treatment center 
of last resort for people who are mentally ill, whose condition is not 
diagnosed. And if not diagnosed, these people tend to get sicker and 
sicker, until they become a danger not only to themselves but 
potentially to the communities in which they live.
  So we have made good progress, and perhaps thanks to the great 
leadership of Senator Alexander, Senator Murray, Senator Murphy, 
Senator Cassidy, Tim Murphy over in the House, and the leadership 
there, we can be proud of that accomplishment.
  Yesterday we finished up our work on the Defense authorization bill 
to help our troops both here at home and abroad, to make sure that they 
not only got a modest pay raise but that they continue to be supplied 
with the equipment and training they need in order to keep America safe 
here at home and abroad.
  I am hopeful we will continue our work and finish our work, actually, 
on the continuing resolution, a bill we need to get done today in order 
to keep the lights on. I know my colleague from Illinois, the 
Democratic whip, has been working on this. I am hopeful we can get 
everybody back to a position of voting yes on this continuing 
resolution and we can complete our work.
  There are folks across the aisle who want to keep the continuing 
resolution from moving forward and literally to shut down the 
government. I would have hoped we would have learned our lesson the 
hard way that that is not a way to solve our problems.
  Unfortunately, the senior Senator from West Virginia, Mr. Manchin, 
has taken a position that even though we have funded the health care 
benefit program for the miners whom he cares passionately about--we all 
certainly understand that--we have done it through the end of the 
continuing resolution into April. He is not satisfied with the length 
of that continuing resolution. He said he would like to have it up to a 
year. But, frankly, I think he is unwilling to take us up on my 
commitment, for example, to continue to work with him now that we have 
gotten that short-term extension, to work on a longer term extension 
once we get our work done.

[[Page S6957]]

  The truth is, this bill, the continuing resolution, passed the House 
yesterday with overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle. It 
received support of 87 percent of the House Republicans and 77 percent 
of House Democrats. The House of Representatives has now left town for 
the holidays, and it is up to the Senate to finish the job. So at this 
point, working all night and into the weekend will not change the 
inevitable outcome. Shutting down the government does not help anyone, 
especially those holding up the process.
  So we are not done yet, but we are close. With a little cooperation, 
we will be able to wrap up this Congress soon and turn our focus to the 
Nation's priorities.
  Let me just mention a couple of other aspects of the continuing 
resolution because I have heard, just among conversations with my own 
colleagues, some misunderstanding about what we are doing in terms of, 
let's say, defense spending, which is one component of it. This 
continuing resolution funds the defense sector by a $7.4 billion 
increase over the continuing resolution we are currently operating 
under. It is true that it is less than the Defense authorization bill 
has provided for, but, as we all know, an authorization is not an 
appropriation. And when you compare an appropriation or spending for 
defense under the continuing resolution we are currently operating 
under compared to the one we will pass soon, it represents a $7.4 
billion plus-up for defense.
  Now, I am one who believes that is the single most important thing 
the Federal Government does--providing for the common defense--and I 
would argue that is probably not an adequate number, but it is a plus-
up, and it is the number that was passed by the House, and frankly, the 
House having left town and gone back home for the holidays, we are left 
with a choice of either accepting that level or not doing our job on a 
timely basis.
  This funding supports troop levels of up to 8,400 in Afghanistan, 
$4.3 billion to support counterterrorism and forward operating 
missions. This was supported by Chairman Thornberry of the House Armed 
Services Committee. It provides a procedure for waiver for the next 
Secretary of Defense. This continuing resolution also provides $872 
million in funding for the 21st Century Cures legislation we passed 
just a few days ago, $500 million to deal with the scourge of opioid 
abuse but also to deal with prevention and treatment activities, as 
well as $372 million for the National Institutes of Health. It provides 
emergency flood and natural disaster relief for potentially up to 45 
States, including my own--$4.1 billion in emergency natural disaster 
relief. As I mentioned earlier, it does provide a short-term coal 
miners fix while we work on a longer term solution. So my hope is, 
again, we can get it done.


  Let me turn to what will be the business of the Senate when we return 
in January. One of the first orders of business when we reconvene next 
month will be to consider and vote on the new President's nominees to 
fill his leadership team, the Cabinet nominees we have been hearing a 
lot about in the last couple of weeks.
  Last week, I came to the floor to congratulate my friend and our 
colleague Senator Jeff Sessions on his nomination to be the next 
Attorney General. He is a man of strong conviction and real character, 
and I have no doubt whatsoever that he is the right man for the job. I 
know that many in our conference share my eagerness to start the 
confirmation process so we can give President Trump the team he needs 
to hit the ground running.
  But I am disappointed, I have to say, in the way some of our 
colleagues on the other side of the aisle are already posturing against 
the President-elect's nominees. Fortunately for us, they telegraph 
their obstruction in the news media, so we know about some of their 
nascent plans to obstruct President-elect Trump's Cabinet.
  Earlier this week, Politico said that this was the Democratic 
strategy: ``Delay tactics could sap momentum from the President's 100 
days'' was the headline. The articles goes on to cite conversations 
with several Senate Democrats who have already laid out a plan to slow-
walk--because they know they can't block--President-elect Trump's 
nominees in the new year. It is one thing to obstruct and to slow the 
Senate down, but it is even a bigger problem when they intentionally 
try to keep the President-elect from doing his job too. I would ask, 
for what? Just to delay progress? To drudge up partisan rhetoric and to 
do all they can to damage the administration of the next President of 
the United States before it has gotten started? This is absolute 
  I think this is the kind of activity the American people repudiated 
in the last election on November 8. They are sick and tired of the 
partisan rhetoric on both sides. They literally want us to get some 
things done on their behalf for the American people.
  Holding up the confirmation process for purely political gain is 
irresponsible and dangerous, but it is also ironic that some of our 
Democratic colleagues have changed their tune so much. Here is just one 
quote from our friend, the Senator from Michigan, part of the 
Democratic leadership. Senator Stabenow said on April 20, 2015: ``When 
a President wins an election, they have the right to have their team.''
  You know, one thing I have learned is, if you have been around here 
long enough, there is a great danger of being on both sides of an 
issue, so you have to try to be consistent, even with the temptations 
to change your position based on who is up and who is down. But I agree 
with the Senator from Michigan. No matter what side you are on, Donald 
Trump won the election to the White House. As President, he has the 
authority to surround himself with whom he sees fit to advise him for 
our country. For our Democratic colleagues to suggest that keeping the 
President understaffed is somehow in the best interests of the American 
people is absolutely ludicrous.

  Let me remind my friends on the other side of the aisle what happened 
when Barack Obama became President in January of 2009. Senate 
Republicans respected his nominees and gave them quick consideration. 
Seven Cabinet members were confirmed on his first day of office. Other 
high-level positions followed just days later.
  In other words, we came together, understood that the people had 
elected a new President, and went to the table ready to cooperate in 
good faith even though we knew there would be disagreements about 
policy. That is because we didn't want the President to begin his time 
in office without the support and the staffing he needed to do his job. 
But, at least so far, our Democratic colleagues--some of them--don't 
seem to share this same perspective now that they have lost this last 
election. I would just ask them to reconsider and to be consistent in 
the way they asked us to respond when President Obama won and treat the 
people's choice as the next President of the United States with the 
respect their vote deserves in terms of making sure he has the Cabinet 
necessary to get his administration up and running.
  The American people really are disgusted by the sideshows of 
dysfunction and obstruction. They want results, and they deserve 
results. They made clear, since giving this side of the aisle control 
of the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, that 
they really wanted the clear to way to making progress on behalf of the 
American people. But we all know we cannot do this as one party or the 
other; we have to find ways to work together for the common good.
  I hope those on the other side of the aisle who indicated they are 
determined to obstruct and block the President-elect's new Cabinet 
members, his nominees, change their tune and reconsider. Keeping the 
new President from the men and women he has chosen to serve alongside 
him only makes us less safe, our economy more fragile, and the 
government less efficient. In short, it doesn't serve their interests 
  We are ready to work with our colleagues across the aisle to roll up 
our sleeves and get to work next year. I only hope our Democratic 
colleagues decide to do the same.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Alexander). The assistant Democratic 
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, next to the Senator from Texas, who just 
spoke, is the Executive Calendar of the U.S. Senate. There are about 30 

[[Page S6958]]

of that calendar on his desk that contain the names of individuals 
nominated by the Obama administration, then sent to committee, approved 
by the committee, then sent to the calendar to be approved on the floor 
of the Senate. The Republican majority in the Senate refuses to call 
these names.
  The plea that is being made by the senior Senator from Texas is, why 
can't we just get along? Well, I hope we can, but this is a bad place 
to start, with all of these names sitting right in front of us, waiting 
patiently--some of them for over a year--to be called for a vote on the 
floor of the Senate. They all were reported out by committees that have 
a majority Republican membership.
  Of course, there is exhibit A in this, and that is Merrick Garland. 
Merrick Garland was President Obama's nominee to fill the vacancy on 
the Supreme Court after the death of Antonin Scalia. Since February of 
this year, the process has been going forward by the President and the 
White House to send a name to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. 
For the first time in the history of the Senate, the Republican 
majority refused to give the President's Supreme Court nominee a 
hearing or a vote. It has never--underline that word--never happened 
before. So we hear the plea from the Senator from Texas for 
cooperation: We have to get along here. Well, we should. We owe it to 
the country. But, for goodness' sake, let's be honest about where we 
stand. There are dozens of names here of men and women who are highly 
qualified to serve this Nation, who went through the process of being 
nominated by the administration, of being approved by Republican-
majority committees, who have been languishing on the floor of the 
Senate because of the refusal of the Republican leadership.
  Judge Merrick Garland, who was judged ``unanimously well-qualified'' 
to serve on the Supreme Court by the American Bar Association, never 
even got a hearing before this Republican-controlled Senate. In fact, 
the leader of this Senate and many others said: We will not even meet 
with him. We won't discuss it with him.
  What was their strategy? Well, it is one that paid off, I guess. They 
felt if they violated what we consider to be the tradition and duty of 
the Senate and not have a hearing and a vote on a nominee, they might 
just elect a Republican President. Well, they did. Now they want to 
fill their vacancies and they are begging us: Cooperate. Join in with 
us. Let's be bipartisan.
  I am going to try. I am going to give a fair hearing to each of the 
nominees. They deserve it. There are no guarantees on a final vote; it 
depends on whether I think they are the right person for the job. But I 
do hope there will be some reflection in the process about what we have 
just lived through.
  There are over 100 vacancies on Federal courts across the United 
States. Many of them--30--would have been filled with just the names on 
this Executive Calendar that have already cleared the Senate Judiciary 
Committee with a majority of Republican Senators. Yet they sit. They 
languish. In just a few hours and a few days, they are going to become 
part of history as we move to the new Senate on January 3. I wanted to 
make that point for the record.
  Mr. President, I also wish to say a word about where we are with the 
continuing resolution. What is a continuing resolution? Well, we are 
used to it around here because we have done it so often. Both political 
parties have done it. Here is what it basically says. Think about your 
family budget. Let's assume that last year you spent, on average, $100 
a month on your utility bills. What if we said to you: In this next 
year, we want you to spend $100 a month.
  You say: Well, I don't know if that is what it is going to cost. I 
hope it is less; it might be more.
  Well, the continuing resolution says: Stick with last year's budget, 
and you can make special provisions and special allowances if it 
happens to be wrong.
  You think, that is a heck of a way to run my family. That is what a 
continuing resolution does. It takes last year's budget and says: Let's 
repeat. Well, things change.
  I am on the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. It is the largest 
subcommittee in terms of the amount of domestic discretionary money 
that is spent. Things change with our military all the time. You know 
that. Presidents come forward and say: We need additional money for our 
troops, to prepare them, to equip them, to make sure they are where 
they need to be in this world to keep America safe.
  What we do with a continuing resolution is we say: Well, we are going 
to tell you that you have to live within the bounds of last year's 
budget--a continuing resolution.
  The people in the Department of Defense, of course, will do their 
best. They are not going to spend money this year on things that are 
finished. They are not going to repeat and keep building if they have 
already finished their building. They are not going to buy things they 
have decided are not valuable. But when it comes to making important 
budget decisions, their hands will be tied by this Congress.
  For the second time, we are going to come up with a 3- or 4-month 
budget resolution as we move forward. It is no way to run a government.
  Here is the good news: We didn't have to do that. On this 
Appropriations subcommittee, Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi and I 
worked a long time. Our staff worked even longer and prepared a 
Department of Defense appropriations bill. We are ready--ready to bring 
it to the floor, ready to debate it. And it is a good one. It keeps our 
country safe. On a bipartisan basis, we agreed on what it should 
contain. We can't bring it forward. All of the spending is going to be 
done under this continuing resolution. We will be halfway through this 
current fiscal year with continuing resolutions if we ever get around 
to the appropriations process.
  The Presiding Officer is also on the Appropriations Committee and 
works in a very bipartisan way in the authorizing Appropriations 
Committee on some critical programs for health and education. We should 
have brought that before the Senate on the floor, but we did not.
  We have this continuing resolution before us, and it has a few things 
in it that I think the American people should know. One of them relates 
to retired coal miners and their families.
  Coal mining has always been a dangerous job, and it is also a job 
that has diseases that come with it, such as black lung. So for those 
who retire from coal mining, health care is critically important.
  Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has a lot of coal miners, and 
they are worried about a cutoff on the health care benefits for retired 
coal miners and their surviving widows. He has come before the Senate 
over and over again begging the Senate to come up with a plan to make 
sure their health care is funded for this next year and for years to 
  In this continuing resolution, we managed to provide that health care 
protection for several months, 3 or 4 months--but not any longer. He is 
worried about it. I have talked to him twice today. He has spoken on 
this issue countless times on the floor of the Senate. We believe he is 
making the right fight.
  The fight to ensure that coal miners don't lose their benefits has 
been before Congress for 4 years. It has been through the regular order 
of committees. It was passed by the Senate Finance Committee with 
Democrats and Republicans supporting it. Even in the midst of 
dysfunction of partisanship in the Senate, this is apparently one 
measure that apparently both parties agree on. Despite all of this, the 
continuing resolution does not reflect the needs of and it does not 
provide the resources for these families.
  The other day, Majority Leader McConnell came to the floor and he 
insisted that the continuing resolution addressed the expiring benefits 
of retired workers. What he did was extend those benefits for 4 months. 
There is no indication of what is going to happen beyond that. It 
requires the United Mine Workers health plan to deplete its reserves to 
pay for this temporary extension, but then they are broke. There is 
nothing in the bank when the CR expires in April. It subjects the 
health plan to a reduction in funding from what they currently receive 
from the abandoned mine land funds, and it makes no mention of the 
pension shortfall that these same mining families face.

[[Page S6959]]

  We are looking for a real solution, and we are hoping to get one 
soon. Before the end of the day, I think Senator Manchin, Senator 
Sherrod Brown, Senator Casey, and others will come to the floor and 
speak to this specific issue, but it has been one of the things that 
has held us up.
  In Illinois, there are nearly 2,000 coal miners and their families 
whose health care benefits are in jeopardy, and I have heard from them.
  Linda Fleming of Taylorville, IL--that is about 30 miles from where I 
live. She is afraid her 86-year-old mother will lose the benefits her 
father, who worked at Peabody coal for 30 years, left for her mother 
when he passed away 2 years ago. Her husband, who retired from Freeman 
coal in Central Illinois after 33 years of service, also received 
notice that he was going to lose his benefits.
  Larry Garland, a retired coal miner in Millstadt, IL, worked in the 
coalfields because it was a good job--a hard job, a dirty job some 
days, but it had a promise of lifetime health care for him and his 
family. His wife has MS, and he is wondering how he is going to afford 
her medical expenses if this isn't funded properly.
  Karen Williams, a nurse and daughter of a retired coal miner in Du 
Quoin, IL, sees firsthand how important these benefits are to retirees 
like her dad, who has a lung disease directly related to his coal-
mining years.
  These are just a few of the stories in my State, of the 2,000 
affected by this decision, so we take it personally.
  There is another provision in here as well. The President-elect has 
designated General Mattis to be the next Secretary of Defense. James 
Mattis was the head of U.S. Central Command, an extraordinary general, 
given some critical assignments by previous Presidents, and every 
report that I have read is positive about his service to our country 
and his leadership skills in the Marine Corps. But the appointment of 
General Mattis is in violation of a basic law. The law, which was 
passed over 50 years ago, limited the availability of these retired 
military officers to serve as Secretaries of Defense.
  In America, we have always prided ourselves--and particularly since 
the reorganization of the military after World War II--on civilian 
control over the military. It is something that is really built into 
the American view about the military and the civilian side of the 
Federal Government.
  Here we have General Mattis, who is eminently qualified to lead in 
many respects, but he is going to be violating that basic law that says 
there must be 7 years of separation between your military service and 
your service as Secretary of Defense.
  There has only been one exception in history, and that was back in 
1950, when President Truman asked GEN George C. Marshall, a five-star 
general--there aren't many in our history--to come out of retirement. 
General Marshall had retired as Secretary of State. President Truman 
asked General Marshall to come out of retirement to serve as Secretary 
of Defense under the new reorganization plan of our government.
  Congress had to change that law. At that time, there was a 10-year 
separation. Congress had to change the law, and it took some time to do 
it--to debate it, to make sure the policy decision was the right thing 
for our country, and to make sure that whatever we did was consistent 
with this idea that civilians should control the military. They 
ultimately gave the waiver to GEN George C. Marshall, this hero of our 
World War II defense, Sectary of State, and a man who won the Nobel 
Peace Prize, I might add. So he was an extraordinary man.
  This bill that we have before us is going to ask us to expedite this 
decision. At the time it was debated before with General Marshall, the 
Senate took the time to really consider this. So expediting and 
changing the rules of the Senate in this bill is something that hasn't 
been done before.
  I worry about the impact it is going to have in the long term. It 
complicated what should have been a pretty simple and straightforward 
  Let me speak as well about the impact on the Department of Defense of 
this continuing resolution. A continuing resolution for defense might 
be harmful to our Armed Forces, and the longer we live under it, the 
worse it could get. If Congress were to pass a 3-month continuing 
resolution for the Department of Defense, they are going to feel it 
right away. The Pentagon has identified more than 150 programs costing 
tens of billions of dollars that will be disrupted by a continuing 
resolution. House Republicans fixed no more than a few of these. There 
are a lot of others in disarray.
  The Defense bill has provided $600 million, for example, for the 
Israeli missile defense programs, a substantial increase over last 
year's funding level of $487 million. This includes increased funding 
for the Arrow 3 program, which will protect Israel against new threats 
from long-range Iranian missiles. Under a continuing resolution, this 
new initiative is put on hold until we get around to passing a full-
year Defense appropriations bill.
  The impacts of the 3-month continuing resolution will also be felt by 
the defense industrial base. There is a similar story for the Air 
Force's new B-21 bomber. Funding for this program is planned to nearly 
double this year to more than $1.3 billion, in order to design the 
replacement for the decades-old B-52. The CR makes that difficult, if 
not impossible.
  The Pentagon's R&D efforts have already been hamstrung by continuing 
resolutions, and there the story gets worse. Important medical research 
will be postponed in the Department of Defense, and agencies like 
DARPA, which had planned to award contracts worth $24 billion, is on 
  Instead, due to putting defense funding in this continuing resolution 
on autopilot, less than $16 billion, instead of $24 billion, will be 
awarded. That is going to slow down innovation and impact untold 
numbers of suppliers for our Department of Defense.
  The old adage ``time is money'' certainly applies to the Pentagon. 
Every day, every week, every month that defense programs are delayed 
adds up to more costs to American taxpayers. When the government can't 
keep up its end of the contract because funding isn't available, costs 
go up, and taxpayers pay more for things they should pay less for. 
Every Member of Congress has criticized the Pentagon--I have been in 
that queue--for spending too much on weapons systems, but every time we 
do a CR, we raise the cost of weapons systems by delaying these 
  Our constituents didn't elect us to delay making decisions. They 
elected us to get things done. Months of bipartisan committee work and 
weeks of bipartisan negotiation shouldn't be cast aside. Putting 
government spending on autopilot is not responsible.
  Whether you work in a Fortune 500 company or in any agency of the 
Federal Government, budgets must adapt to innovation, new challenges, 
and new opportunities. Failure to do so is a waste. We owe it to the 
American taxpayer and we sure owe it to the men and women in uniform to 
do more than just kick the budgetary can down the road. We owe it to 
thousands of retired miners to keep our promise, to respect their years 
of hard work and give them the benefits they deserve.
  Now is not the time to give up and go home. Now is the time to 
rededicate ourselves to truly working together, as the Appropriations 
Committee has historically done, use their work product, and pass a 
bill and an appropriations spending measure that really reflects what 
is needed for the national defense of America.
  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. BARRASSO. 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. BARRASSO. Mr. President, in just a few hours, funding for the 
Federal Government will run out. It is going to run out in just a few 
hours. It looks like we are going to blow through that deadline right 
here in the Senate.
  POLITICO, one of the local newspapers, had an article this morning, 
and this is what the headline said. They ran an article with this 
headline: ``Democrats push government toward shutdown.'' Let me repeat 
that: ``Democrats push government toward shutdown.''

[[Page S6960]]

  The article says that Democrats are pushing the government to the 
brink of a shutdown. They are doing it with ``coal country Senate 
Democrats leading a strategy to oppose a GOP spending bill if their 
demands are not met for a longer extension of expiring health care 
benefits for coal miners.''
  We are talking about a continuing resolution that passed the House 
with overwhelming numbers, and it has bipartisan support. The vote was 
326 to 96--Republicans and Democrats joining together in the House to 
keep the government open--but not the Senate Democrats.
  I have been on this floor time and again with Democrats talking about 
shutting down the government, and they say that it is the Republicans. 
The headline today says: ``Democrats push government toward shutdown.''
  Now, the continuing resolution that is being asked to be voted upon 
actually includes money to help these miners well into the new year--
through April--and we are going to be looking at everything in the 
legislation again when it expires in April. So there is no rush to 
settle this issue today.
  But here we are in the Senate, with Democrats preparing to shut down 
the Government of the United States.
  Our goal should not be to bail out a union health plan--and it is a 
fund that does have problems. The solution actually ought to be to let 
coal miners mine coal again. Let them go back to what they know how to 
do--mine coal. That way they can take care of themselves and take care 
of their own.
  I want to be really clear on this point. The only reason we are in 
the position we are in today is because the Obama administration and 
Democrats in Washington have been waging a war on coal for the past 8 
years. That is the reason we are in the position we are in today.
  In 2008, when Barack Obama was running for President, he promised 
that this was what he was going to do. He said it. He said that under 
his policies, ``if somebody wants to build a coal-fired powerplant, 
they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them.''
  The President was very clear. So the Democrats should not be 
surprised with what we see happening today.
  Once he got into office, he did everything he could to keep that 
promise and bankrupt as many coal companies as possible. That is 
actually what happened. His administration has pushed out one 
unnecessary regulation after another on coal producers, on powerplants, 
and on customers.
  The Environmental Protection Agency wrote new regulations on 
powerplant emissions where the emissions go from one State over to 
another. The Agency put out extremely stringent rules on emissions from 
any new powerplants that were built in this country. Then they wrote 
tough rules on the powerplants that were already in existence--rules, 
not new laws but rules.
  The Obama administration hasn't just tried to bankrupt anyone who 
used coal, but they have been doing all they can to make sure the coal 
never gets out of the ground.
  The Bureau of Land Management imposed a moratorium on new mining 
leases on Federal land. In the Rocky Mountain West, that is a 
significant amount of the land, and, in many States, it is over half of 
the land.
  The Obama administration has been doing all they can to make sure 
that American coal can't be used not just here in America but can't be 
used anywhere in the world.
  The Department of the Interior wrote a new rule on coal valuation to 
discourage coal exports.
  Now, the Army Corps of Engineers has even delayed or denied permits 
for new coal export terminals so we could ship a product that is 
produced in the United States to people who want to buy our product 
overseas. So Americans can't sell the product that we have--that coal--
  The Obama administration even worked to get the World Bank--the World 
Bank and the International Monetary Fund--to stop financing new coal-
fired powerplants in developing nations, even though for them, it is 
the least expensive cost for electricity, for energy, for the people 
there who don't have energy and desperately need it. It has been one 
roadblock after another for the last 8 years.
  Layer after layer of redtape, strangling the coal industry and coal 
miners--the people who go to work every day.
  Now, someone wants to say the issue is bailing out one union health 
plan and pension fund. The Democrats have waged an all-out 
comprehensive war on coal. That is why we are in this situation.
  During the Presidential campaign, President Obama has said to 
Americans: Please elect Hillary Clinton. Vote for her to protect the 
Obama legacy. Well, candidate Hillary Clinton during the election, 
during the campaign, said that she would put a lot of coal miners out 
of business. So as to the actual people who work, she wants to put them 
all out of business.
  It has been a war on multiple fronts and a Presidential election all 
designed in many ways to keep Americans from using coal, from exporting 
coal, and even from mining coal.
  The administration has blocked coal production. They have made it 
more expensive. Then they have tried to use the smaller market for 
coal--since you can't mine it, you can't sell it, and you can't export 
it; so there is a smaller market for coal--as an excuse to impose even 
more burdens.
  The people who are hurt by these policies are hard-working Americans 
who just want to go to work, make a living, and support their family. 
That is what the coal miners have been up against by the Obama 
administration in the last 8 years.
  So any attempt by Democrats to blame someone else is just a 
distraction. They want to hide the simple fact that it is their 
intentional and intensive campaign against coal that has led us to 
where we are today--on the brink of a government shutdown tonight.
  Health and pension funds can pay benefits for retired workers as long 
as the mines are actually working and they can mine coal and sell coal 
and make money. If the money coming in goes down, then the money they 
need to pay out is not there. That is why we have this problem. 
Companies can't meet their obligations, and it is the Democrat's 
policies that have caused it. So if the Democrats want to help retired 
miners, they should let the other miners get back to work. That is the 
way to help the retired miners, let the other miners get back to work. 
Well, that is not what they have done. The Obama administration has 
done all they can to destroy the market for coal, to force mines to cut 
production and to put miners out of work.

  Now, I understand there are people in the home States of these 
Senators who are very worried, and they have a right to be worried, but 
let's just be honest about the real reason these people are hurting: 
Miners are struggling because President Obama has been standing on 
their necks for a straight period of 8 years. When Democrats focus on 
things like health benefits for retirees, they are missing the point 
entirely, and they are just trying to dodge the responsibility--the 
responsibility for their own disastrous policies.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, the distinguished Senator has just 
asked me if I would yield to her; that she has a very short set of 
remarks, and I am happy to do so.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to use a prop 
during my remarks.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. President, I have come to the floor to address a 
very important choice for this Senate and, frankly, for President-Elect 
  The time is now for Donald Trump to take a stand in support of 
American workers by calling on Republican leadership in Congress to 
support strong ``Buy American'' requirements in the Water Resources 
Development Act, also known as the Water Infrastructure Improvement 
  Just 1 week ago in Cincinnati, OH, President-Elect Trump said his 
infrastructure plan would follow two simple rules: ``Buy American and 
hire American.'' I support that position, strongly, but unfortunately 
the Republican establishment in Washington didn't hear him. They have 
removed my ``Buy

[[Page S6961]]

American'' standard from this very important water infrastructure 
legislation, and Trump Tower has gone silent on this topic since last 
  I believe the iron and steel used in water infrastructure projects 
should be made in America and that taxpayer dollars should go to 
support American jobs and manufacturers, not be spent on Chinese or 
Russian iron and steel.
  My provision to require this was included in the version of the bill 
that passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support on a vote of 95 
to 3. However, Speaker Ryan and House Republicans removed this ``Buy 
American'' reform from the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act, and 
there hasn't been a peep or a tweet from President-Elect Trump. It is 
clear to me, and it should be clear to President-Elect Trump as well, 
that congressional Republicans are allowing corporate lobbyists, 
working on behalf of companies who import steel from Russia and China, 
to write the rules in Washington. Importers of cheap foreign steel from 
China and Russia have sought to eliminate or loosen these rules for 
their own benefit. According to media reports, including the Wall 
Street Journal, the importers and their foreign suppliers have hired 
the Washington, DC, lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs to lobby the 
Republican leadership in the House against my ``Buy American'' 
standard, which would provide a long-term and solid commitment to 
American workers.
  The firm's strategy relies upon, oh, that old revolving door--the 
firm employs former House Speaker John Boehner and several former top 
Republican aides--to gain access and influence over Congress. These 
reports suggest that corporate lobbyists are using their influence over 
Congress to support clients that do business with Russian and Chinese 
steel companies at the expense of American workers. That is why I am 
calling on President-Elect Trump to turn his words in Cincinnati, 
spoken just a week ago, into action and to join me in demanding that 
Republican leaders in Congress restore our strong ``Buy American'' 
standard in the final water infrastructure bill.
  Together, with Senators Brown and Casey, we offered an amendment to 
restore this ``Buy American'' reform, and today we are demanding a 
vote. I come to the floor today to ask Majority Leader McConnell for 
that vote.
  American manufacturers and steelworkers, like the men and women at 
Neenah Foundry in Wisconsin who helped build our Nation's water 
infrastructure, support our amendment, and they deserve a vote and a 
solid commitment from us on a strong ``Buy American'' standard.
  Many people in the United States have seen this iconic symbol. Neenah 
Foundry--which supports the strong ``Buy American'' amendment--
manufactures, among other things, these manhole covers that we see all 
  Let us not ever see this.
  President-Elect Trump has said that we need to ``drain the swamp,'' 
and that he will take on lobbyists and special interests that are 
writing the rules and rigging the game in Washington against American 
workers. If he is serious about ``draining the swamp'' and supporting 
American workers, it is time for him to end his silence and speak out 
publicly supporting and restoring this ``Buy American'' standard to the 
water infrastructure bill that is before the Senate today. It is time 
for a vote on a ``Buy American'' standard that respects and rewards 
American manufacturers and American workers.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, are we going back and forth?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is no order at the moment.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. May I ask the Senator--because I thought Democrats 
had an hour at this time, I agreed to yield to Senator Baldwin. Senator 
McCain, do you know how long you will be?
  Mr. McCAIN. About 30 minutes.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Well, you go ahead. I will defer.
  Mr. McCAIN. I thank my friend from California, but if she had a 
shorter time--
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona is recognized.
  Mr. McCAIN. I say to my dear friend from California, if she had a few 
minutes she would like to take at this time, I would be happy to yield 
to her.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Senator, I have about 20 minutes.
  Mr. McCAIN. OK. I take it back.
  Mr. President, I understand that, as usual, as we get to the edge of 
the cliff or the edge of the weekend, that somehow we will have an 
agreement and we will vote and we will pass a continuing resolution and 
we will all go home. We will all go home for the holidays and 
congratulate ourselves on doing such a great job and passing a 
congressional resolution.
  Meanwhile, the 8,000 men and women who are serving in Afghanistan 
will be having a different kind of next couple of weeks. It will be in 
combat, it will be in jeopardy, it will be in fighting an implacable 
enemy that we have been challenging and fighting for the last 12, 14 
years. The 5,000 troops who are in Iraq and Syria, with their lives 
literally in danger--there has been a couple, a few casualties, tragic 
deaths in recent days. The siege of Aleppo continues and the slaughter 
continues of innocent men, women, and children. As the exodus, I am 
told, takes place from Aleppo, the Russians, Iranian Revolutionary 
Guard, and Bashar al-Assad's thugs are culling out the young men for 
special treatment and interrogation. God only knows what that is like. 
Of course, the flow of refugees continues, now adding to the 6 million. 
The 500,000 who have been killed, that continues. And we are about to 
pass an appropriations bill that reduces our ability to help those men 
and women who are serving our country in uniform get their job done. We 
are talking about a continuing resolution that is a reduction in 
spending, that freezes accounts in place, and does not give us the 
capability to move them around to meet the threats we are facing around 
the world. I must say to my colleagues, this is disgraceful. This is 
absolutely disgraceful.
  We are going to kick the can down the road because we failed to fund 
our troops. The fiscal irresponsibility of another continuing 
resolution will force the Department of Defense to operate for 7 months 
in the fiscal year without a real budget. Tell me one company or 
corporation in the world, small or large, that has their budget frozen 
for 7 months of the year and expects to operate with any kind of 
efficiency. You can't. You can't.
  Now, the incoming President of the United States says he wants to 
spend more money on defense. Are we doing that with this continuing 
resolution? Of course not. The incoming President of the United States 
says we don't have a big enough Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, 
and we are cutting the size of the military.
  Meanwhile, the President of the United States gives one of the most 
bizarre speeches I have ever heard in my life about what a great job he 
has done, what a fantastic job; and thank God ISIS does not pose an 
existential threat to the United States of America--never mind San 
Bernardino, never mind all the other attacks across the country and 
Europe. Never mind those. It is not an existential threat. This is the 
same Barack Obama who said ISIS was the JV and couldn't carry Kobe's T-
  So what are we doing? By God, we are going to be out of here. Thank 
God, we are going to be out of here. And what are we doing? We haven't 
passed a defense appropriations bill that funds our troops. Earlier 
this year we had a defense appropriations bill, approved unanimously by 
the Appropriations Committee, but Democrats put politics ahead of our 
troops, filibustered that legislation, and brought the Senate to a 
  Does anybody wonder about the approval rating of Congress when we 
will not even appropriate the money to defend this Nation and pay for 
the men and women in uniform who are sacrificing as we speak? Of course 
  Why haven't we passed the bill? Now, fresh off an election--the 
election is over. Republicans won control of the House and the Senate 
and the White House in part by promising to rebuild our military. 
Congress is about to cut defense spending again by passing another 
irresponsible continuing resolution.
  Let me be clear, this continuing resolution would cut resources to 
our troops, delay the cutting-edge equipment they need, and hamper the 
war in Afghanistan. A lot of my colleagues

[[Page S6962]]

may not understand, you authorize certain amounts of money for certain 
programs. With a continuing resolution, you can't shift that money 
around. Suppose there is a new product, there is a new weapon, there is 
a new ability we have. With a continuing resolution, now going on for 7 
months, we will do that. Congratulations. Congratulations.
  So this is Washington. Democrats filibuster funding for our troops in 
a political game to extort more funding for pet domestic programs. 
Republicans feign outrage. Then those same Republicans return months 
later to negotiate a continuing resolution that gives Democrats the 
domestic spending increases they always wanted, does so by--guess what. 
Guess what. There is an increase in this continuing resolution for 
domestic programs, some of them pork-barrel projects, and cutting funds 
for defense. I am not making that up. I wonder how many of the 100 
Senators who will be voting on this continuing resolution know that 
this continuing resolution increases domestic spending and decreases 
defense spending. What a sham. What a fraud. Is there any wonder the 
American people hold us in such contempt? We are down to paid staff and 
blood relatives.

  There is a lot wrong with this continuing resolution, but let me 
start with the rank hypocrisy embedded deep within its pages. Five 
years ago Congress recognized the need to rein in Federal spending, but 
instead of addressing the actual drivers of our deficits and debt, in 
one of the great copouts in history, it settled for a meat-ax approach. 
Congress passed the Budget Control Act, which cuts spending across the 
board. No matter how worthwhile, no matter how necessary, treat it all 
the same and cut it across the board, OK? It is designated to be so 
terrible, this sequestration--remember, it was 5 years ago--
sequestration would be so terrible it would force Republicans and 
Democrats to negotiate a more reasonable compromise.
  We know how that worked out. The Budget Control Act failed to force a 
grand bargain on the budget, but it was so genuinely terrible that 
Congress had to negotiate a series of short-term agreements to get out 
from under it. The latest of these was the Bipartisan Budget Act, which 
was passed last year and provided small increases for defense and on 
defense spending.
  This agreement was consistent with the principle articulated by many 
of my Republican and Democratic colleagues--that defense and nondefense 
were supposed to be treated equally. It does not matter when you see 
the world on fire, no matter when you see 6 million refugees out of 
Syria, no matter when you see 500,000 dead, no matter when you see the 
Chinese asserting control over the Asia-Pacific region, no matter that 
you see Vladimir Putin dismembering Ukraine and putting pressures of 
enormity on the Balkan countries, no matter that you see the Russians, 
now a major power in the Middle East for the first time since Anwar 
Sadat, threw him out of Egypt in 1973--no matter all that. No matter 
that we continue to increase because we react to the number of troops 
and the amount of equipment that we are having to send to Iraq and 
Syria and other places in the world--treat the EPA the same as the U.S. 
Marine Corps. Treat the IRS the same as our brave pilots who are now 
flying in combat in Iraq and Syria. Treat them the same. This was the 
so-called principle of parity.
  For the record, I never believed this trope. Instead, I held fast to 
another principle--that funding our troops would be based solely on 
what they need to defend the Nation. Isn't that an unusual sentiment--
to fund the troops with what they need to defend the Nation, to give 
them the very best equipment so that, in the testimony of the uniform 
service chiefs before the Armed Services committee, who said in 
unvarnished words--these great military uniformed leaders said: We are 
putting the lives of the men and women in uniform ``at greater risk.''
  Is no one in this body embarrassed that we are putting the lives of 
the men and women in the military at greater risk? What is happening 
  Many of my colleagues disagreed with me, which was their right. Over 
the last 2 years as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, 
having listened to the testimony of our most senior military commanders 
about the growing risk to the lives of our servicemembers, I have tried 
to break the hold of these arbitrary spending limits, increase defense 
spending, and give our troops the resources they need to defend the 
  Let me tell you what is happening to the military today. We have seen 
the movie before--after the Vietnam war. They have less ability to 
train. They have less ability to operate. Our pilots in the Air Force, 
Marine Corps, and Navy are flying fewer hours per month than Chinese 
and Russian pilots are. They are having to rob planes. They have even 
had to go to the Boneyard in Tucson, AZ, to find parts for their 
airplanes. They are that short of them.
  You know what is going to happen? The pilots of these services are 
going to get out in droves because the commercial airline pilots who 
were hired after the Vietnam war are all retiring. All these people 
want to do is fly airplanes. When they are in Syria and Iraq, yes, they 
fly a lot. When they get back, they don't fly at all. Why? They don't 
have the money. When you cut defense, the first thing that suffers is 
operations, maintenance, and training. Again, it is not as if it is a 
new phenomenon. We have seen the movie before.
  Here we are. We passed a defense bill last year that provided $38 
billion in additional resources to give our servicemembers the modern 
equipment and advanced training they need. President Obama vetoed that 
bill because, as his White House explained, he would ``not fix defense 
without fixing nondefense spending.''
  Think about that. The President of the United States puts defending 
this Nation on the same level as domestic programs. I am all for the 
domestic programs. I am not objecting to them, but to put them on the 
same level as the defense of the Nation partially explains the 
disasters over the last 8 years. America has decided to lead from 
behind, and America is now held without respect or regard throughout 
the world. We see all kinds of bad things happening, and I will not 
bother my colleagues because all I have to do is pick up the morning 
paper or turn on the television.
  This year I offered an amendment to the Defense authorization bill on 
the Senate floor to add $18 billion to the defense budget, an increase 
that would have returned defense spending to the level the President 
himself had requested and for which the Department of Defense had 
planned. The Senate Democrats and some Republicans voted against that 
amendment. One Democratic Senator objected, saying: ``If defense funds 
are increased, funding for domestic agencies must also be increased.''
  Got that? ``If defense funds are increased, funding for domestic 
agencies must also be increased.''
  Some Republicans, mainly on the Appropriations Committee, argued that 
the amendment would not adhere to the Bipartisan Budget Act and stall 
momentum to pass appropriations bills as we consider yet another 
continuing resolution. We see how well that worked out.
  So entrenched was this absurd notion of parity between defense and 
nondefense spending that when President Obama decided to keep more 
troops in harm's way in Afghanistan--finally recognizing a little 
reality--he refused to pay for them unless nondefense spending received 
an identical funding increase. Let me make that clear. The President of 
the United States--recognizing that the Taliban was not only not 
defeated but was gaining ground in parts of Afghanistan, the Afghan 
military sustaining unsustainable casualty rates--sent more troops to 
Afghanistan, sent more help to Afghanistan, but wouldn't pay for them 
unless we increased domestic spending.
  Is that some kind of nonsense? So entrenched was this absurd notion 
of parity between defense and nondefense spending that the bottom line 
is this: Congress has had multiple opportunities to give our troops the 
resources they need. Each time, aided and abetted by the President and 
his administration, we squandered these opportunities because of the 
so-called principle of parity--that ``any increase in funding must be 
shared equally between defense and nondefense.''
  After all that, it turns out that parity was merely politics 

[[Page S6963]]

as principle. Because, dear friends, now Congress is about to pass a 
continuing resolution that shatters any notion of parity, breaks the 
spending limits of the Bipartisan Budget Act, increases nondefense 
spending at the expense of our troops, and even creates a loophole that 
allows nondefense spending to skirt the law and avoid sequestration--
not defense spending, nondefense spending. It is crazy.
  Under this continuing resolution, nondefense spending--get this. I 
don't know how many of my colleagues know this. Under this continuing 
resolution, nondefense spending is $3 billion above the Bipartisan 
Budget Act. Where does this additional money come from? It was taken 
from our troops. Under the continuing resolution, defense spending is 
$3 billion below the Bipartisan Budget Act.
  As a result of increased funding, nondefense spending violates the 
Bipartisan Budget Act and would face sequestration at the beginning of 
next year to bring it back in line with spending levels allowed under 
the law. Not so fast, my friends--the continuing resolution contains a 
``get out of jail free'' card that allows nondefense spending to break 
the Bipartisan Budget Act to avoid sequestration.
  Here is what we are doing: We are cutting defense spending. We are 
increasing nondefense spending, even though it breaks the act and we 
have a provision in there that that is OK. I just hope that everybody 
knows what they are voting on in this.
  Am I missing something? Am I missing something? Do Republicans 
control the House of Representatives? They are the ones who put this 
provision in. It is the Republicans who control the House of 
Representatives. Do Republicans fill the majority of the seats in this 
Senate? The last time I checked, they do. Did the Republican candidate 
just win the White House?
  What on Earth are we doing here? Why are Republicans who complained 
for so long about runaway government spending about to vote on a take-
it-or-leave-it continuing resolution that increases nondefense 
spending? Why are Republicans doing that? Why are Republicans who 
proclaim that ours is the party of strong defense cutting funding for 
our military to plus up spending on domestic programs? What is going on 
  Why are Republicans who voted down increased funding for our military 
because of the Bipartisan Budget Act voting for a continuing resolution 
that allows nondefense spending to exceed that law and creates a 
loophole to escape sequestration?
  Why are Democrats who lectured for years--I got that lecture for 
hours and hours about the principle of fairness, of parity--who 
insisted that funding increases must be shared equally between defense 
and nondefense. Why are those Democrats about to support a continuing 
resolution that explicitly breaks that principle and that funds 
increases for nondefense by taking from defense?
  Regretfully, as I say about Republicans and Democrats, the answer, 
and the only answer I can offer is hypocrisy--rank hypocrisy. What is 
so disheartening about the hypocrisy of this continuing resolution is 
how unnecessary it is. We can pass an appropriations bill. The 
appropriations bill was passed out of the Appropriations Committee 
unanimously. We can pass it. We can do it tomorrow; we can do it 
tonight. But they don't want to do that. They want this continuing 
resolution with all this stuff hidden in it, with a lot of legislative 
things in it that we find out, guess what, 10 hours, 24 hours, maybe 
even 48 hours before we vote on it. That is when we find out what is in 
the bill.
  I would challenge--I would like to take a poll of my 100 colleagues 
here. How many of them have read the continuing resolution? I will bet 
you the number is zero. With this legislation, Congress has already 
done the hard work of negotiating a bipartisan compromise for defense 
spending. The Defense appropriations bill from earlier this year could 
easily be amended to reflect the compromise, and the Senate could be 
taking up the bill, but we are not. Instead, we are about to vote on 
another continuing resolution that would cut $6 billion from the level 
authorized by the NDAA.
  I want to point out again: Who is being harmed by this? My friends, 
obviously, as I have stated, absolutely the men and women who are 
serving. They are the ones who are suffering from this. In the Defense 
authorization bill, we have a 2.1-percent pay raise for the military. 
In the continuing resolution, it is not in there. We are not even going 
to reward our men and women in the military with a pay raise that they 
have earned.
  Some of my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee will argue that 
this continuing resolution is an increase to defense spending. That is 
a lie. I don't say this very often, but anyone who says there is an 
increase in defense spending in this continuing resolution is lying. 
For those of you who are not familiar with Washington doublespeak, let 
me explain how cut translates into increase inside the beltway. The new 
continuing resolution represents a modest increase over the previous 
continuing resolution passed in September, but that legislation 
contained a large cut to defense spending. Just as now, Members of this 
body were asked to go along with this cut with a promise that a Defense 
appropriations bill would soon follow. None appeared.

  In other words, the best we can say about the continuing resolution 
we are considering today in this body today--and I am sure it will be 
passed on a Friday night--is that it merely contains a smaller defense 
cut than its predecessor. Twist the figures all you want, and I 
guarantee you that somebody on the Budget Committee or the Budget 
Committee chairman will twist it. The fact is, this continuing 
resolution is $6 billion less than what Congress just authorized for 
defense spending. Yesterday, we passed a Defense authorization bill, 
and this is $6 billion less than what we authorized. That is what we 
should be grading ourselves on because that is what our military has 
told us they need and what this body has agreed to provide them.
  Let me emphasize that we go through weeks and months of hearings, 
markups, input, and debate, and we come up with a Defense authorization 
bill and provide this body in the Congress and the Nation with our best 
judgment of what America needs to defend this Nation and how much it 
costs. This continuing resolution will cut that number by $6 billion. 
That may not be much money among some, but it is one heck of a lot of 
money overall.
  The hypocrisy of this continuing resolution is nauseating. The 
defense cut it contains is blind to the needs of our military, but 
ultimately it is the basic fact that Congress has failed to pass an 
appropriations bill and will be forced to pass another continuing 
resolution that will have the most real and immediate consequences for 
our servicemembers. Our Nation asks a lot of the men and women serving 
in uniform. As I mentioned, we are going to go home tonight, I am sure, 
because of the pressures that always take place on a Thursday or 
Friday, and they will still be out there. They will still be out there 
on the front line. They will be in Syria, Iraq, and helping the Afghan 
fighters defend their nation. They won't be going home, but we will. 
And what will we leave them with? A $6 billion reduction in their 
ability to defend this Nation.
  The continuing resolution locks our military into last year's budget 
and last year's priorities. Tell me a company in the world where you 
have to stick with the priorities from the year before as you approach 
the coming year as to what you want to do and you are locked into the 
last year's provisions.
  Consider what happened to our counter-ISIL efforts under the 
continuing resolution that is about to expire. Last week, military 
leaders had to come to Congress hat in hand seeking relief from the 
constraints of a continuing resolution in order to keep up the fight 
against ISIL. Since the beginning of the year, the Defense Department 
requested money to support local forces in Syria who are fighting to 
drive ISIL out of Raqqa, but because we are on a continuing resolution, 
money wasn't there. The Secretary of Defense, the highest civilian 
leader of our military, had to spend his time searching couch cushions 
to continue our fight against ISIL. Every day that ISIL remains 
entrenched in Raqqa is another day they can plot attacks on our 
homeland. It is another day they can terrorize Syria. It is another day

[[Page S6964]]

they can call themselves a caliphate. It is another day they can 
attract foreign fighters to their murderous cause. All of the Defense 
authorization and appropriations bills included the money to fund 
Syrians fighting to remove ISIL from its sanctuary, but the continuing 
resolution did not. If we had done our jobs, this wouldn't be an issue, 
but it was.
  The same thing will happen under a new continuing resolution that 
does not fully fund the war in Afghanistan. The legislation will force 
the Department of Defense to pay for urgent requirements to deter 
Russian aggression in Europe by cannibalizing funds needed to help our 
Afghan partners take the fight to our common terrorist enemies. When it 
comes to national security, robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a 
strategy; it is a disgrace. This wouldn't be necessary under an 
appropriations bill, but it is under this continuing resolution, which 
is blind to the realities of our dangerous world, and the consequences 
will be felt on the battlefield.
  The Department of Defense had requested $814 million to provide our 
Afghan partners with the helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft they need 
to take the fight to the Taliban and ISIL. This continuing resolution 
contains none of that funding. If there is anything we need in this 
fight, it is airpower.
  General Nicholson, the commander of U.S. and international forces in 
Afghanistan, sent me a letter yesterday, and he warns that without this 
funding, ``the Afghan security forces risk losing the positive close 
air support momentum gained over the past year, which proved 
instrumental in enabling them to thwart the enemy eight separate times 
in its efforts to seize provincial capitals.''
  What are we doing here? With the continuing resolution, we are 
putting the lives of countless Afghans in danger because we are not 
giving them the air support that they need.
  Our failure to do our jobs and pass this bill and this irresponsible 
continuing resolution will make it even harder to achieve success in 
our Nation's longest war. This is shameful. A continuing resolution 
will also make the job of managing the government's largest agency even 
more difficult and at the worst possible time. The Presidential 
transition process currently underway is difficult enough on its own, 
but no incoming President has ever had to inherit a Department of 
Defense operating under a continuing resolution. I will repeat that: No 
President has ever had to inherit a Department of Defense operating 
under a continuing resolution, and this is not the time to break the 
  Under a continuing resolution of any duration, our military, by law, 
has to delay 78 new military systems and stall additional production of 
89 others. A continuing resolution delays major research and 
development initiatives. The latest continuing resolution provides DOD 
relief from these restrictions for the Ohio replacement program, the 
KC-46 tanker, and the Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, but that is 
only four programs out of hundreds. Worse still, this leaves DOD with 
the wrong mix of funding, causing shortfalls in important accounts 
totaling $22 billion. Let me repeat: The continuing resolution leaves 
the Department of Defense with a $22 billion shortfall across important 
accounts. Locking in funding at last year's level across all accounts 
is willful ignorance of the Department's plan to grow necessary 
programs and cut wasteful ones. This is not wise fiscal stewardship. 
This is reckless government on autopilot, and here are just a few of 
the consequences.
  The continuing resolution is totally blind to the military readiness 
crisis that is putting the lives of servicemembers at risk. We are 
asking our troops to be ready to defend this Nation at a moment's 
notice. We are asking our troops to be ready to take the fight to ISIL. 
We are asking our troops to be ready to deter, and if necessary, defeat 
aggression in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific. We are asking 
them to be ready today, but a continuing resolution would force 
tradeoffs that undermine readiness.
  We heard about the readiness crisis all year, but what does it really 
mean? It means the Navy doesn't have enough money to maintain ships and 
aircraft. It means that ships that taxpayers spent billions of dollars 
to buy will be anchored at docks instead of out to sea. It means our 
Navy and Marine Corps aircraft will be grounded and their pilot skills 
wasting away. It means the Air Force won't have the funding required to 
recruit airmen to keep its aircraft maintained and flying.
  The NDAA we just passed would have stopped the military from cutting 
soldiers, sailors, and airmen. But because of this continuing 
resolution, the Army will begin firing 3,000 qualified captains. That 
is 3,000 soldiers with families. That is 3,000 soldiers who want to 
stay in the military and continue to serve their country. That is 3,000 
soldiers willing to put their lives on the line for us, but because we 
refuse to do our jobs, 3,000 soldiers are going to get pink slips. That 
is shameful. It is madness.
  Every senior leader at the Department of Defense has warned Congress 
about the negative impacts of a continuing resolution on our troops.
  Secretary of Defense Ash Carter stated that ``a continuing resolution 
is a straitjacket'' that ``prevents us from fielding a modern, ready 
force in a balanced way.'' A continuing resolution, Secretary Carter 
said, ``undercuts stable planning and efficient use of taxpayer 
  The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Neller, warned that a 
long-term continuing resolution ``dramatically increases risk to an 
already strained fiscal environment and disrupts predictability and our 
ability to properly plan and execute a budget and a 5-year program.''
  The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Goldfein, warned that a 
continuing resolution would reduce procurement of critical munitions 
for the ISIL fight, affecting not only the United States but our 
coalition partners that rely on us to deliver preferred munitions.
  The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Richardson, warned that a 
continuing resolution would lead to wasted taxpayer dollars. Under a 
continuing resolution, the Navy would be forced to break up its 
contract actions into smaller pieces. As a result, Admiral Richardson 
warned that the Navy would not be able to ``take advantage of savings 
from contractors who could better manage their workload and pass on 
lower costs to the Navy. These redundant efforts drive additional time 
and cost into the system, for exactly the same output.''
  The Chief of Staff of the Army, General Milley, made a similar 
warning about waste and inefficiency resulting from budget uncertainty, 
saying, ``things like multiyear contracts''--et cetera, et cetera. 
General Milley is right.
  I say to my colleagues: This madness has to end. It is time for 
Congress to do its job. When it comes to doing our constitutional duty 
to provide for the common defense, there is no call for lazy shortcuts 
that shortchange our troops. We passed the Defense authorization bill. 
Now let's fund it by passing the Defense appropriations bill, which 
gives our troops the resources, predictability, and flexibility they 
need and deserve. Next year, with a new President and Congress, let's 
go to work immediately on ending sequestration once and for all and 
returning to a strategy-driven defense budget. That is what the 
American people expect of us, and it is what the men and women who 
serve and sacrifice on our behalf deserve from us.
  As I said, if I know my history--and I have been around here long 
enough--there will be an agreement. We will have a vote, and then go 
home and congratulate ourselves. For the next 15 days--or whatever it 
is--we are going to enjoy the Christmas holidays with our families and 
friends, pat ourselves on the back, and tell each other what a great 
job we have done.
  We shouldn't do that. There are men and women serving in uniform 
overseas away from their families and friends and putting their lives 
in danger. We haven't done our job. We haven't done our job to provide 
for their security and their defense. What we have done is miserably 
failed, and this is another--not the first--and maybe the most 
egregious, given the state of the world today as we watch thousands 
being slaughtered in Aleppo, as we watch the Syrian refugee crisis, as 
we watch the Chinese act more aggressively, as we watch a buildup of 

[[Page S6965]]

military in Kaliningrad, a place most people have not heard of, and we 
watch the continued aggression and advantage that our enemies and 
adversaries believe are appropriate action for them in light of our 
  What do we do? The message we send to the men and women who are 
serving in our military is that we care more about being home for the 
holidays than we do about you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Barrasso). The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, just to ensure that there is no confusion, 
I ask that I be recognized for such time as I may consume at the 
conclusion of the remarks of the distinguished senior Senator from 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from California.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, before I begin, I wish to say a few 
words about my colleague from California who is retiring. I very much 
regret that I was not able to be here for her remarks on the floor. 
However, I have written a rather extensive statement for the record. I 
want to say here and now that no one has fought for California or for 
this country harder. She has had a dedicated and long career of service 
to our country, and her accomplishments are many.
  Those are documented in the record, and I believe they will stand the 
test of time. So I want to offer my heartiest congratulations to her 
for 24 years of service to this country. We came to the Senate 
together. I have very much respected her, her work, and her diligence 
over these years.


  Now, Mr. President, I rise to speak about the Water Resources 
Development Act, which the House passed yesterday afternoon 360 to 61. 
My colleague Senator Boxer was the author of that bill. I believe it is 
a good bill. There is a whole litany of excellent projects that benefit 
the environment as well as the economy of so many of our States.
  I want to say something else about my remarkable colleague. We first 
arrived here in the Senate 24 years ago. She has accomplished a lot in 
that time, protecting the environment, defending the downtrodden and 
vulnerable, and fighting for California. She is a tremendous Senator, 
and I believe her record will withstand the test of time.
  Mr. President, I would like to focus on two provisions in this bill, 
the water infrastructure provisions and funding for Lake Tahoe 
restoration and protection.
  First, this bill includes many vital water infrastructure projects 
that will limit the risk of flooding, restore critical wildlife habitat 
and keep our ports running smoothly.
  The bill authorizes $177 million for the South San Francisco Bay 
Shoreline. I have been working on this project for decades, alongside 
the local sponsors and Army Corps of Engineers.
  With nearly 200 square miles of communities in low-lying areas along 
the shoreline, some that are more than 13 feet below sea level, this 
area faces a significant threat of major tidal flooding.
  Coupled with the restoration of more than 15,000 acres of wetlands, 
this project will protect vulnerable communities and improve wildlife 
refuges and public and private infrastructure valued at more than $50 
  The bill also authorizes the Los Angeles River Project. At a cost of 
$1.42 billion, this project will restore 11 miles of the Los Angeles 
River from Griffith Park to downtown Los Angeles.
  The bill also authorizes $880 million to reduce floods along American 
and Sacramento Rivers near Sacramento, $780 million to reduce flooding 
in West Sacramento, and expands eligibility of an existing Federal 
program increasing funding for harbor maintenance to include the ports 
of Hueneme and San Diego.
  The bill also includes a piece of legislation that deals with a 
passion of mine, saving Lake Tahoe.
  This summer, more than 7,000 people joined together for the 20th 
Annual Lake Tahoe Summit.
  I proudly shared the stage with Senators Reid and Boxer, California 
Governor Jerry Brown, and President Obama.
  This summit was an impressive bookend to Senator Reid's efforts to 
save Lake Tahoe.
  In 1997, he invited President Clinton for the first Lake Tahoe Summit 
to highlight the declining health of the lake and to announce a major 
Federal restoration effort.
  That summit launched an impressive public-private partnership that 
has since invested $1.9 billion in restoration projects in Lake Tahoe 
and the surrounding basin.
  This remarkable partnership brought Federal, State, local, tribal, 
and private interests together to help save the lake.
  Their work got a real boost in 2000 when we passed the original Lake 
Tahoe Restoration Act, which authorized $300 million over 10 years.
  That $1.9 billion has been invested in nearly 500 completed projects 
and 120 more that are in the works. These include erosion control on 
729 miles of roads, 65,000 acres of hazardous fuels treatment, more 
than 16,000 acres of wildlife habitat restored, and 1,500 acres of 
stream environment zones restored. And 2,770 linear feet of shoreline 
has been added, creating or improving 152 miles of bike and pedestrian 
  But we still have more work to do.
  The Tahoe Environmental Research Center at UC-Davis recently released 
their annual State of the Lake report.
  Their research highlighted several threats to the lake: Climate 
change and drought are creating increasing the potential for a 
catastrophic wildfire in the Tahoe Basin, sedimentation and pollution 
continue to decrease water quality and the lake's treasured clarity, 
and invasive species threaten the economy of the region.
  The time to act to is now, and the Federal Government must take a 
leading role--close to 80 percent of the land surrounding Lake Tahoe is 
public land, primarily in more than 150,000 acres of national forest.
  This bill authorizes $415 million over 10 years to help address those 
  This bill authorizes $150 million for wildfire fuel reduction and 
forest restoration projects, $45 million to fight invasive species 
including a successful boat inspection program, $113 million for 
projects to prevent water pollution and help improve water 
infrastructure that helps to maintain the lake's water clarity, $80 
million for the Environmental Improvement Program which prioritizes the 
most effective projects for restoration, and $20 million for the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service to help with the recovery of several native 
fish species.
  The bill also requires an annual report to Congress detailing the 
status of all projects undertaken to make sure dollars are expended 
  We have an opportunity to ensure the future of Lake Tahoe by passing 
the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 and, thus, passing the Lake 
Tahoe Bill of 2015.
  I want to speak today about the California drought language in this 
bill, which represents 3 years of effort on my part. I believe these 
provisions are both necessary and will help our State. I think it is 
noticeable that both Democrats and Republicans in the California House 
delegation voted for this bill. In fact, a substantial majority of 
California House Democrats--21 out of 37--voted yes for the bill.
  I particularly want to thank Representatives Costa and Garamendi for 
their help in this bill throughout this effort. They really made a 
major effort. Overall, 35 of the 51 California representatives from 
both parties who voted, from up and down our very big State, voted for 
this bill and its drought provisions.
  California is now entering into our sixth year of drought. Experts 
have indicated that even if this is the final year of drought, which 
many doubt, it will take an additional time of 4 years to recover. The 
effects of the drought have been devastating. In the past 2 years, 
35,000 people have lost jobs; $4.9 billion has been lost to the 
California economy; 1 million acres of farmland were fallowed in 2015; 
69 communities have little or no water; and 2,400 private water wells 
have gone dry. We had 102 million trees on Federal land die during this 
period of time. Parts of the Great Central Valley have seen as much as 
1 foot of land subsidence. That is where the ground actually sinks 
because of groundwater depletion. This

[[Page S6966]]

means cracks in canals, bridges, and pipelines. I have seen those 
photos. We have had 95- and 98-percent salmon mortality in the past 2 
years because of problems with cold water temperature valves and probes 
at Shasta Dam, which provides the cold water to the Sacramento River.
  To address the devastating impacts of this drought and to create a 
long-term new infrastructure that moves away from dams, the bill 
contains two key parts: short-term provisions and long-term provisions. 
Before I go into them, I want to say that the drought part of the bill 
is supported by 218 cities, 6 county governments, 446 water districts, 
both urban and agricultural.
  I ask unanimous consent that that information be printed in the 
Record directly following my remarks.
  Those operational provisions are short term. They last just 5 years. 
They don't contain any mandatory pumping levels. This bill does not say 
that if the water flow is such and such, the pumps that move that water 
must pump at X, Y, or Z. There is none of that. Instead, what this bill 
does is require daily monitoring for fish when water is turbid.
  This monitoring also takes place more frequently and closer to the 
pumps than it does today. Today, it is at 17 miles from the pumps, and 
the change is 12 miles from the pumps. It also requires agencies to 
explain their decisions when they reduce pumping. This will bring about 
transparency, provide solid reasoning for decisions, and, I think, 
reduce the angst that exists out there about how those systems are 
  Those provisions simply require the agencies to use the best 
available science based on real-time monitoring so that we can save 
some water from those heavy flows, as you see on the chart next to me. 
These are the heavy flows that came in February and March, and we were 
not able to hold this water and use it later in the year.
  What we have done here is tracked every single day from the beginning 
of the year and what the pumping level was and what the water level 
was. We also talk about the numbers caught, which are very small: adult 
smelt, 12; juvenile smelt, 8, and winter-run salmon, 56. So this can be 
improved, and we seek to do that.
  We also provide provisions that simply require the agency to use the 
best available science based on real-time monitoring, so, again, we can 
save water from the heavy flows, as you have just seen. Even if this 
sixth year is a bumper crop of water, UCLA predicts that it is going to 
take 4\1/2\ years to recover from the drought.
  Other short-term provisions include extending the time period for 
voluntary water transfers by 5 months; ending the winter storm payback 
requirement, which says: If you save this water, you must put it back 
into the ocean; allowing a 1-to-1 ratio for voluntary water transfers 
that can help both fish and farms; and allowing expedited reviews of 
transfers and construction of barriers to protect water quality.
  These water supplies are not for big corporate agriculture, as some 
would have you think; this water is for the tens of thousands of small 
farms that have gone bankrupt, like a melon farmer who sat in my office 
with tears in his eyes and told me how he lost a farm that he had 
struggled to pay for and that had been part of his family for 
generations. There are also small towns in the Central Valley, where 
people are still bathing with bottled water and some 2,500 wells have 
run dry.
  We worked for 2 years with Interior, NOAA fisheries, and the Council 
on Environmental Quality to make sure there were strong environmental 
protections, including a very comprehensive savings clause, and we will 
get to that in a minute.
  So the bill in this measure requires agency scientists to review 
every proposed action. That is right. Scientists must review and 
approve every proposed action under this bill. These are agency 
biologists and experts in endangered species. The bill requires them to 
carefully review every proposal to move water under the provisions of 
this bill. That is what they do today, and that is what they would do 
under the bill. That is what the ESA requires, and that is what this 
bill will require.
  The savings clause in this bill also makes clear that the provisions 
will not override existing environmental law, like the Endangered 
Species Act and biological opinions.
  The bill also makes clear that nothing in this bill will affect water 
quality. Drinking water will still be available at the same levels of 
quality as before. The State will have the same ability to regulate 
water in the delta as it always has had. To make this even clearer, 
each individual section also requires consistency with the 
environmental laws and biological opinions.
  These protections are referenced in the bill no less than 36 times 
throughout. In fact, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation 
wrote on June 27. He wrote about the savings clause: ``[The savings 
clause] leads me to conclude that the directives in this legislation 
are to be implemented in a manner consistent with the ESA and the 
current biological opinions for federal and state projects.''
  I ask unanimous consent to have this letter and my memo concerning 
the drought savings clause be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                  U.S. Department of the Interior,

                                        Bureau of Reclamation,

                                    Washington, DC, June 27, 2016.
     Hon. Dianne Feinstein,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Feinstein: Thank you for your letter of 
     February 24, 2016, addressed to President Barack Obama 
     regarding your legislation entitled the California Long-Term 
     Provisions for Water Supply and Short-Term Provisions for 
     Emergency Drought Relief Act, numbered S. 2533 and H.R. 5247. 
     I apologize for the delay in this response.
       As you know, I testified on S. 2533 before the Senate 
     Energy and Natural Resources Committee's Water and Power 
     Subcommittee on May 17, 2016. Your legislation authorizes 
     significant new investments in proven water supply and 
     conservation activities that will help make California's 
     water supplies more resilient in the face of drought. Locally 
     supported projects such as water recycling, water efficiency 
     improvements, desalination, groundwater storage, distributed 
     treatment systems and surface water storage are given 
     thoughtful consideration in S. 2533, with allowance for 
     robust non-federal cost-sharing for new projects.
       In addition, the bill contains an important savings clause 
     in section 701 which states that the bill shall not be 
     interpreted or implemented in a manner that ``overrides, 
     modifies, or amends'' the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or the 
     application of the biological opinions governing operations 
     in the Bay Delta. The combination of these provisions leads 
     me to conclude that the directives in this legislation are to 
     be implemented in a manner consistent with the ESA and the 
     current biological opinions for the federal and state 
       While S. 2533 and H.R. 5247 codify the flexibility 
     Reclamation has exercised in its drought contingency plans 
     over the past several years, I also wish to be clear that 
     there is little, if any, operational flexibility remaining in 
     the biological opinions beyond that already being exercised. 
     Consequently, as indicated by the 2015 Statement of 
     Administration Position on H.R. 2898 (Valadao), the 
     Department would be concerned about, and would likely oppose, 
     any subsequent change in the authorizations contained in S. 
     2533 or H.R. 5247 that purport to create additional 
     flexibility in the biological opinions by amending those 
     opinions or the ESA itself.
       I believe that on balance, S. 2533 is a beneficial piece of 
     legislation and will help California's water supply in the 
     near- and long-term. I appreciate your ongoing efforts to 
     work with Reclamation and the Department on this bill. 
     [intend to continue this partnership moving forward.
                                                 Estevan R. Lopez,

     From the Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein, Dec. 9, 2016
     Re Drought language savings clause

                            Savings language

       The drought language included in the Water Resources and 
     Development Act of 2016 contains a comprehensive savings 
     clause. The savings clause states that nothing in this 
     legislation overrides, modifies, or amends, the Endangered 
     Species Act or the relevant provisions of the smelt and 
     salmonid biological opinion that govern the coordinated 
     operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water 
     Project, located in California.
       In fact, the Interior Department (responsible for 
     developing and implementing the smelt biological opinion) and 
     the Commerce Department (responsible for developing and 
     implementing the salmonid biological opinion) drafted 
     sections that govern impacts to these endangered species. The 
     intention behind three years of work with the federal 
     agencies responsible for enforcing the Endangered Species Act 
     was clear: To prohibit any federal agency, under any 
     administration, from taking any action that would violate the 
     Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C.

[[Page S6967]]

     Sec. Sec. 1531-1544 (2012) or the relevant biological 
       That the Act is to be implemented in a manner that complies 
     with the protections within the Endangered Species Act is 
     highlighted by a June 27, 2016 letter from the Commissioner 
     of Reclamation. In that letter, the Commissioner states the 
     savings clause and other environmental protections contained 
     in S. 2533 (upon which this savings clause was based) ``leads 
     me to conclude that the directives in the legislation are to 
     be implemented in a manner consistent with the ESA and the 
     current biological opinions for the federal and state 
       To make clear this legislation's goal of consistency with 
     the Endangered Species Act and biological opinions, each 
     individual section of the bill likewise requires consistency 
     with the environmental laws and biological opinions. These 
     protections are referenced no less than thirty-six times 
     throughout the bill.
       The argument that a savings clause--of the kind that is 
     routinely included in bills passed by Congress--may be 
     rendered ineffective by more specific provisions of an act 
     misses the mark. As a general matter, the Supreme Court has 
     made clear that it will take its guidance from a ``common-
     sense view'' of the language of the savings clause itself. 
     And the language here is unmistakable and clear: Nothing in 
     the Act ``overrides, modifies, or amends the applicability of 
     the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) 
     or the application of the smelt and salmonid biological 
     opinions to the operation of the Central Valley Project or 
     the State Water Project.''
       In fact, the Supreme Court concluded that language in a 
     savings clause worded almost identically to the clause in S. 
     2533 did, in fact, govern in the event of conflicts between 
     the act and already-existing legal standards. The statute 
     there made clear that nothing in the act could be construed 
     to ``modify, impair, or supersede'' the applicability of 
     antitrust laws and any other federal, state, or local law. 
     That reading led the Court to the logical conclusion that 
     nothing in the act (much like the language here) could be 
     read to alter already-existing standards (the analogue here 
     would be the biological opinions and the ESA).
       Moreover, the argument for applying the savings language to 
     each individual provision of the bill is even stronger in 
     this case, because each individual provision repeats the same 
     environmental protections. Rather than conflicting, the 
     savings language and the individual sections reflect the same 
     intent: that any action implementing the bill must be 
     consistent with the environmental laws, including the ESA and 
     the biological opinions.

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. In fact, the savings clause here is drafted to be 
nearly identical to the savings clause in a case called Verizon 
Communication v. Trinko. This is a Supreme Court case in which the 
Court took a commonsense view of the same clause as we have in this 
bill and concluded that clause prevented any modification to existing 
  I also want to talk about process. The bill before you today is the 
result of 3 years of painstaking and public work. I first introduced a 
version of this bill in July of 2015. That bill received significant 
public input, including a Senate energy committee hearing last October. 
Based on feedback, I revised that bill and then circulated a public 
discussion draft in December of that year. We incorporated feedback 
from a variety of stakeholders, including environmentalists, water 
districts, and State and Federal agencies. We made dozens of changes.
  Incorporating all of this, I then introduced a revised bill in 
February of 2016. That revised bill received a second Senate hearing in 
the committee in May. The administration testified at that time that 
the bill complied with the Endangered Species Act and relevant 
biological opinions.
  The short-term operational provisions in this bill are largely the 
same as the bill I introduced in February. We also made the savings 
clause and environmental protections even stronger, referencing them no 
fewer than 36 times. I truly believe the long-term provision, as well 
as the environmental protections, would not be included in any bill 
under a Congress that we might expect in the future.
  While the short-term provisions will alleviate some suffering, I 
believe that the most important part of the bill is actually the long-
term section. In California, we have depended on a water system that is 
overallocated and overstressed. I want to explain that.
  We have two big water systems. One is the State water system, put 
forward by Governor Pat Brown in the middle 1960s, when California had 
16 million people. The other is the Central Valley Water Project, 
bonded and paid for by agriculture water contractors. That was put 
forward in the 1930s.
  By census, California today is 39.1 million people, and the number of 
undocumented in addition to that is estimated to be 2.5 million. I 
often say, and it is conservative, the State today is 40 million people 
with a water infrastructure created when we were 16 million people.
  To address the demands of a growing population and changing climate, 
we have long-term provisions that include $550 million in 
authorizations for programs, including fish and wildlife protection, 
desalination, storage, recycling, and water grant programs. Over the 
course of 3 years of work, we heard the concerns of many people about 
the loss of salmon. And I've been told that the pumps actually were not 
to blame for the high mortality rates of salmon in the past 2 years. In 
fact, only 56 out of an allowable 1,017 salmon were caught at these 
pumps. I said I was disappointed. The word is surprised. The problem 
has been a malfunctioning cold water valve at Shasta Dam that meant 
there was not enough cold water for fish in the Sacramento River. 
According to NOAA Fisheries, these mistakes resulted in a salmon kill 
of 95 percent in 2014 and a salmon kill of 98 percent in 2015. Of the 
$150 million in the energy and water appropriations I have acquired the 
past two years, we have used some to fix this problem and Shasta, in 
addition to other infrastructure problems. We also have $43 million of 
environmentally beneficial bills, some of which can be used to make 
sure we avoid a devastating loss to salmon.
  Let me tell you what that $43 million includes: $15 million for 
habitat restoration projects, $15 million for fish passage projects, $3 
million for a long-wanted delta smelt distribution study requested by 
Fish and Wildlife, and a program to reduce predator fish. Let me tell 
you what a big problem that is in the delta. People add predator fish 
such as striped bass to be able to encourage a fishing industry. The 
smelt go where the turbid waters are. The fishing magazines say if you 
want to catch fish, go to the turbid water. So fishermen go to the 
places where the striped bass are feeding on the endangered species. 
Additionally, in this bill, we have money to eliminate what has been a 
huge growth of water hyacinth, which drain the nutrients from the 
  I would also say we have about a dozen sewage treatment plants that 
put millions of gallons of 1.75 million gallons of ammonia per year 
into the delta. The delta is a troubled place, and let there be no 
doubt about it. There are a lot of islands, there is farming, and the 
soil is peat. When the levees leak, the peat soil goes into the delta, 
throws off trihalomethanes, and pollutes the water further.
  We add $10 million to connect important wildlife refuges to sources 
of water, and the bill also includes $515 million that can go to a new 
kind of water infrastructure for California.
  This includes $30 million for design and construction of desalination 
plants. These projects actually do work. What I am told is what we need 
to secure is a third-generation membrane because the energy coefficient 
of desal has been negative. With a third-generation membrane, you can 
turn that deficit into a positive coefficient.
  The bill also includes $335 million for storage and groundwater 
projects. The only way we will be able to weather future droughts is by 
holding water in wet years for dry years, and that means more storage, 
including groundwater storage. We have money in there for WaterSMART, 
and this will help fund water supply and conservation. We have $50 
million included for the existing Colorado River System Conservation 
Program. To date, this popular program has resulted in 80,000 acre-feet 
of water saved throughout the West, including through projects in 
Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming.
  I wish to address my colleagues' concerns that this bill will allow 
the next administration to build dams all over the country without any 
congressional approval, and this is simply not true. Let me set the 
record straight about how storage projects work under this bill. The 
drought language here gives Congress veto authority through control of 
appropriations for any storage project. This means that reclamation 
will do the same rigorous studies it has

[[Page S6968]]

always done, including feasibility studies and environmental impact 
  Reclamation would then submit a list of recommended projects to 
Congress, and Congress would decide how to fund them. If Congress has 
concerns, it doesn't fund the project. It is that simple. This will 
allow Federal funding to go to qualified, environmentally mitigated, 
and cost-beneficial projects on the same timeframe as projects funded 
under the California State water bond. That is just common sense, 
making sure the Federal Government partners with States such as 
California to ensure the best projects get funding but only with 
Congress's approval.
  It was said on this floor that groundwater projects are the best 
solution for California water problems, and this bill helps build those 
groundwater projects. Again, this proposal made so much sense 1 year 
ago that my colleague from California cosponsored the measure. 
Moreover, this is not the Federal Government building projects that 
States and local governments oppose. To the contrary, the bill sets up 
a process where the Federal Government can contribute up to 25 percent 
of the cost of projects built by States or local agencies in 
collaboration with a broad range of local agencies.
  The Federal Government cannot contribute more than 25 percent of the 
cost. They have to work with the States and local agencies that would 
fund the rest.
  This provision has also been the subject of two public hearings and 
the Obama administration supported it.
  The Obama administration stated the following in relationship to the 
water storage programs in the bill at the May 26 hearing in the Energy 

       We are finding that State and local jurisdictions are 
     developing their own funding for many of these types of 
     projects and would like to have a federal partner but are 
     unable to wait for an authorization for Reclamation to 
     participate in such a project. Consequently, we are of the 
     view that in addition to the traditional Reclamation paradigm 
     for study, authorization, then participation in federal water 
     projects, Congress should revisit a standing authorization 
     that allows some kind of investment in the state and local 
     projects as contemplated.

  I want to talk about the offsets on the bill. On this floor, it has 
been said that this is a sweetheart deal that would cost the taxpayers 
billions of dollars, and that is simply flatly untrue.
  In fact, the CBO budget office has said that the bill will save 
Treasury $558 million, and that is the truth.
  As I said, California is home to more than 40 million people and our 
major water infrastructure hasn't been significantly changed in the 
past 50 years when we had 16 million. We must modernize the system, 
both the infrastructure and operational flexibility, or I fear we risk 
eventually becoming a desert State.
  To the best of our ability, we have addressed concerns raised by 
environmentalists, water districts, Federal and State agencies, and the 
ag sector. This bill has bipartisan support in both Houses, and I 
believe these provisions will place California on a long-term path to 
drought resiliency.
  I wish to say thank you. A lot of people have had a very hard time 
through this drought. It is my hope that we can get this bill passed 
and then, on a bipartisan basis, this Congress, both Senate and House, 
can see that we do what we can to abate this drought and also begin to 
build a new water infrastructure in California.
  I thank the Chair.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record as follows:

                       California Drought Relief



                Endorsed Bill & Voted for Final Passage

       House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy,
       Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA3),
       Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA16),
       Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA42),
       Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA22),
       Rep. David G. Valadao (R-CA21),
       Rep. Douglas LaMalfa (R-CA1),
       Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA4),
       Rep. Darrell E. Issa (R-CA49),
       Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA45),
       Rep. Stephen Knight (R-CA25),
       Rep. Edward R. Royce (R-CA39),
       Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA8),
       Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA10),
       Rep. Scott H. Peters (D-CA52).

                  Letters of Support & Press Releases

       Metropolitan Water District of Southern California,
       Ducks Unlimited,
       California Waterfowl Association,
       City of Fresno,
       City of Pasadena,
       Water Infrastructure Network,
       San Francisco Public Utilities Commission,
       Gateway Cities Council of Governments (list of members 
     available at
       Southern California Association of Governments (list of 
     members available at
       Association of California Water Agencies (list of members 
     available at

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I stayed on the floor and listened to all 
of the remarks of the senior Senator from California. While doing that, 
we did some checking. My staff informs me that probably this bill has 
more benefits for the State of California than any bill since I have 
been here for 22 years so I think it is very important the people 
understand that if for some reason this bill doesn't pass, none of the 
things, the provisions the Senator was talking about, will happen so it 
is very significant.
  Since we are going to have a vote on a continuing resolution, I think 
at this point we need to make sure our government does not shut down. 
It is very important that it not shut down right in the middle of--
arguably, three wars--but that could be as late as 1 a.m. tomorrow 
morning. After that is when we will be considering the WRDA bill. That 
is the Water Resources Development Act. It is one of which I am very 
proud, as the current chairman of the Environment and Public Works 
Committee, to be involved in this bill that has been so eloquently 
described by Senator Feinstein.
  For the last several months, our committee has been working to put 
together the final WRDA package with our counterparts in the House, 
actually, the House Energy and Commerce, the House T&I Committee, and 
the Natural Resources Committee of the House. This legislation is truly 
a win for America. While we just heard of many things that be of 
benefit for the State of California, there is not one State that 
doesn't have benefits there. They are long overdue and coming from this 
  WRDA authorizes 30 new navigation, flood control, and environmental 
restoration projects and modifies eight existing projects based on 
reports submitted to Congress by the Secretary of the Army. These 
projects support our Nation's economic competitiveness and our well-
being by deepening nationally significant ports, providing protection 
from disastrous floodwaters, and restoring valuable ecosystems.
  Let me just list a few: the Little Diomede Harbor and Craig Harbor in 
Alaska, the Upper Ohio River in Pennsylvania, Port Everglades in 
Florida, and 17 flood control and hurricane protection projects in 
California, Florida, Mississippi, New Jersey, Illinois, Wisconsin, and 
Oregon. This bill also includes ecosystem restoration in the Florida 
Everglades, which will fix Lake Okeechobee and stop algae blooms on the 
Florida coast.
  The bill also includes ongoing flood control and navigation safety in 
the Hamilton City project in California, the Rio de Flag project in 
Arizona, and in critical fixes for the Houston Ship Channel. The bill 
includes programs to help small and disadvantaged communities provide 
safe drinking water and will help communities address drinking water 
emergencies, such as the one facing the city of Flint, MI.

  Let's ensure that we all understand that without the authorization of 
this bill, there will be no Flint relief. That is very important. I 
want to repeat that. People don't seem to understand. There is a lot of 
support in this Chamber to try to help out with the problems, the 
disasters that took place in Flint, MI, so we have a relief package 
that is included in this bill, but if the bill for some reason doesn't 
pass, there will be no relief for Flint, MI.
  The House has voted to authorize Flint funding in the WRDA bill and 
spending in the continuing resolution. Both of these bills provide the 
benefit for Flint, MI, passed by over a three-fourths majority. We 
could not have worked closer with Senator Stabenow

[[Page S6969]]

and Senator Peters to ensure we keep relief for Flint. I appreciate 
their partnership and their persistence. They were very persistent, 
because these provisions were in here before, but the relief is 
delivered. But if for some reason the bill doesn't pass, Flint gets 
nothing, and people have to understand that. We could not have had a 
closer working relationship with Senator Stabenow and Senator Peters, 
and I really appreciate the fact that we all worked together to 
accomplish this one thing. There is unanimity, and that is help for 
Flint, MI.
  The bill includes the Gold King Mine spill recovery. This section, 
championed by Senators Gardner, Bennet, and Udall, requires EPA to 
reduce costs incurred by States, tribes, and local governments to 
respond to the Gold King Mine spill.
  This bill includes rehabilitation of high-hazard potential dams. This 
section of the bill authorizes FEMA assistance to States to 
rehabilitate unsafe dams. There are 14,726 high-hazard potential dams 
in the United States. What that means is--the definition means that if 
a dam fails, lives are at stake. So the program will prevent loss of 
  The WRDA bill is bipartisan. It will play a critical role in 
addressing problems faced by communities, States, and our country as a 
  Earlier this week, Senator Boxer said that the House Republicans 
ruined a beautiful bill because some of them ``wanted to flex their 
muscles.'' I don't know about that, but I do agree with her that this 
is a beautiful bill because it does things that we haven't had the 
courage to get done before, so we want to make sure it passes.
  The House passed the WRDA bill with the drought provisions by a 
three-fourth vote--360 votes. I can't think of another time the House 
has passed something with 360 votes. But that is the popularity of this 
WRDA bill and all the work that has gone into it.
  However, there is something I don't think anyone has heard. This 
drought provision was drafted by the U.S. Department of the Interior 
and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The savings clause prohibits any 
Federal agency under any administration from taking any action that 
would violate any environmental laws, including the Endangered Species 
Act and biological opinions. Don't just take my word for it; ask 
Senator Feinstein. She articulated this very well. People have to 
realize that this came from the Department of the Interior and the 
Department of Commerce; it was not just stuck in there by the 
  We have heard claims that these operational provisions would violate 
environmental laws. Let's look at the actual text. Under this section 
4001, any operations to provide additional water supplies can only be 
implemented if they are consistent with the applicable biological 
opinions and only if the environmental effects are consistent with 
effects allowed under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, 
and the California Water Quality Control Act.
  Section 4002 and section 4003 reiterate the requirement to comply 
with the smelt biological opinion and the salmon biological opinion. 
Senator Feinstein also covered that.
  Finally, section 4012 includes a savings clause--a savings clause 
written by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Department of 
Commerce--that ensures that the entire subtitle must be implemented in 
accordance with the Endangered Species Act or the smelt and salmon 
biological opinions.
  So that is significant. I think that documents well enough that all 
of these environmental provisions are complied with.
  How I would rather spend my time on the floor is talking about the 
positive things in the bill because there is much more to say. Coal ash 
State permitting is something that has been desired for a long period 
of time. It is finally allowed in this bill. SPCC--that is, spill 
relief--for our Nation's small farmers is included thanks to Senator 
Fischer. And that provision is not just good for her State, it is 
certainly good for my State of Oklahoma. To say that this violates 
environmental law and regulations is simply not the case.
  Many Senators have contributed to this piece of legislation, and 
there is literally crucial infrastructure and accomplishments in every 
State contained in this bill.
  Let me just repeat--it is very important because there has been a lot 
of discussion about what has happened in Michigan. If the bill is not 
passed, Flint, MI, gets nothing.
  I was going to talk about some of the other provisions in the bill, 
but since there is some concern expressed by one of the Senators from 
Washington State, I want to mention--just Washington State; I won't 
mention anything more about California because Senator Feinstein has 
already done that. But in Washington State, for the Skokomish River, 
Mason County, WA, the bill authorizes $20.26 million to remove a levy, 
which has the economic benefit of restoring 40 miles for salmon habitat 
and for the fishing industry. So the fishing industry--for those 
concerned with the salmon, this is a huge thing for them.
  For Puget Sound, the bill authorizes $461 million to provide refuge 
habitat for 3 listed species and 10 threatened species, including 5 
species of Pacific salmon. The project is part of the Puget Sound 
Chinook Salmon Recovery Plan. It is in this bill for Washington State.
  The Columbia River ecosystem restoration. The bill increases the 
authorization ceiling for ecosystem restoration studies and projects 
for the lower Columbia River in Oregon and in Washington State, 
authorized by section 536 of our WRDA bill that we passed in 2000.
  Watercraft inspection stations, Columbia River Basin. The bill 
clarifies that the watercraft inspection stations to protect the 
Columbia River Basin from invasive species may be located outside the 
basin if that is necessary to prevent introduction of invasive species. 
Again, Washington State.
  Tribal assistance. This bill authorizes relocation assistance to 
Indian families displaced due to the construction of the Bonneville Dam 
and requires a study of Indian families displaced due to the 
construction of the John Day Dam and the development of a plan to 
provide relocation assistance associated with that dam.
  Additional measures at donor ports and energy transfer ports. This 
section permanently extends the authority to provide additional funds 
for donor ports and energy transfer ports.
  Harbor deepening. The bill aligns the cost share for construction of 
harbors with the change in WRDA 2014 modifying the cost-share for 
maintenance of harbors--a huge thing, and it is certainly of great 
benefit for the State of Washington.
  Implementation guidance. The bill requires the Corps to issue 
guidance to implement section 2107 of WRDA 2014 relating to maintenance 
of emerging ports and Great Lakes ports.
  Columbia River ecosystem restoration. The bill increases the 
authorization ceiling for ecosystem restorations studies and projects 
for the lower Columbia River in Oregon and Washington, authorized in 
section 536 of WRDA 2014, the last WRDA that we passed.
  Watercraft inspection stations, Columbia River Basin. This bill 
clarifies that the watercraft inspection stations to protect the 
Columbia River Basin from invasive species may be located outside of 
the basin if that is necessary to prevent introduction of invasive 
  The oyster aquacultural study requires the GAO to study the different 
regulatory treatment of oyster hatcheries across the Corps districts.
  Everything I have mentioned was in Washington State. I could go State 
by State, but there certainly isn't the time.
  I would remind my colleagues that the next vote that takes place that 
everyone has been concerned about is going to pass, and it is going to 
pass to stop us from having to shut down the government. But after that 
is when we are going to bring up the bill that we have been talking 
about all day today that the Senator from California was talking about, 
and it is something that--I know we have only been working on it for 
about a year, but we have been working on some of the projects in there 
for as long as 3 years.
  This is a chance to get it all done. If something happens and we 
don't do it, none of the stuff we are talking about is going to take 
place. Certainly all of the efforts that Senator Stabenow, Senator 
Peters, and I have spoken

[[Page S6970]]

about in Michigan--the problems they are having up there--that is not 
going to happen; there is no help for Flint, MI. I have no reason to 
believe it is not going to pass. I believe it is. But I have to stress 
the significance of this legislation.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Boozman). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          Coal Miners Benefits

  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to support 
Senators from both parties and in particular West Virginia Senators Joe 
Manchin and Shelley Capito in their fight to protect health and 
retirement benefits for over 100,000 American coal miners and their 
  Seventy years ago, the Federal Government made a simple promise to 
these union coal miners: America--our country--promised to provide 
health insurance and retirement benefits to miners who went down in 
those mines and put their lives at risk to power this great Nation.
  We recognize that this was dangerous work, but we believed it was 
essential to our economic growth and the national security of our 
country, and because of that belief, we promised that if these men 
would go down into the mines, our country would make sure they have 
some protection in case of injury, disability, or death. We promised 
that after a lifetime of backbreaking work, they would have a dignified 
and secure retirement. And we promised that if the worst happened, that 
their wives, their widows, and their families would still be provided 
  When the American Government made this deal with the United Mine 
Workers of America 70 years ago, coal generated more than 50 percent of 
our power. Today, coal generates only about 30 percent of our power. 
Coal prices have plummeted and other sources of energy, like natural 
gas, have become cheaper and more prevalent.
  Automation has also transformed this industry, and there are critical 
environmental reasons to transition, but make no mistake, these changes 
have drastically altered the coal industry and have left thousands of 
coal miners out of work. Every month there are more reports of coal 
companies filing for bankruptcy, and the layoffs are never far behind. 
More than 25,000 miners have lost their jobs in the last 5 years alone.
  As a country, we all benefited from the decades of work put in by 
coal miners. Every Member of Congress and everybody we represent back 
home, we benefited from the work of the coal miners. We made a deal to 
keep these men in the mines, and now we must honor the commitments we 
  Congress is on the verge of turning out the lights and going home for 
the rest of the year, but 100,000 coal miners face a reckoning. If 
Congress does not act, more than 16,000 mine workers will lose their 
health insurance by the end of this month, another 2,500 coal miners 
will lose their coverage by March, by July another 4,000 miners will be 
without insurance, and on and on and on. This is not right.
  Losing health insurance is tough for anyone, but for coal miners it 
is a killer--literally. Coal miners face far higher rates of 
cardiopulmonary disease, cancer, black lung, and other injuries than 
most other Americans. They need their insurance.
  Our coal miners knew what they were getting into. They knew they were 
taking on work that was dangerous and risky to their health. That is 
why they fought so hard for guaranteed health coverage, and that is why 
they gave up a portion of their paycheck every month, month after 
month, year after year, to pay for it.
  It is not just health care coverage. About 90,000 miners and their 
families will also soon lose their guaranteed monthly pension benefits. 
These benefits aren't some Cadillac deal. The average monthly benefit 
for these mine workers is about $586, about $7,000 per year for their 
retirement. Now, that doesn't sound like much, and let's be honest, it 
isn't much, but for thousands and thousands of retired miners and their 
families, Social Security and these $586 payments are all they have to 
show for a lifetime of going into those mines. We cannot back out on 
our promises.
  There is bipartisan legislation written and ready to go to fix this 
problem. It would not add a dime to the deficit. We could pass it right 
now, today. The Senators who serve here come from every corner of the 
country. We don't agree on everything, and I certainly don't agree on 
every issue with Senator Manchin or Senator Capito, but I don't 
understand how anyone can disagree with this.
  A lot has changed in 70 years, but the fact that America makes good 
on its promises to American workers is one thing that should never 
change--and we should not leave here until this Congress makes good on 
America's 70-year-old promise to our miners.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.

                      Attorney General Nomination

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, before the 114th Congress adjourns, I want 
to take a moment to put on the record my strong support for the 
nomination of our distinguished colleague, Senator Jeff Sessions of 
Alabama, to be the next Attorney General of the United States.
  Thomas Jefferson once wrote, ``The most sacred of the duties of a 
government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its 
  This idea was also reflected in the Justice Department's own mission 
statement, which I have here: ``To enforce the law and defend the 
interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public 
safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal 
leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment 
for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial 
administration for all Americans.''
  No one believes in this mission more and no one understands better 
what this mission requires than Jeff Sessions.
  Unfortunately, the Justice Department has lost its way, becoming 
partial rather than impartial, political rather than independent, and 
partisan rather than objective. The Justice Department has enabled the 
executive branch's campaign to exceed its constitutional power while 
ignoring Congress's proper and legitimate role of oversight.
  This decline undermines the American people's trust in government. 
According to the Pew Research Center, public trust in government is at 
a record low. Fewer than one in five say they trust government most of 
the time. Reversing this decline and rebuilding this trust will require 
getting back to the essential ingredients in the Justice Department's 
mission and its mission statement.
  Senator Sessions will bring more hands-on experience to the 
leadership of the Justice Department than any of the 83 men and women 
who have occupied the post of Attorney General. He was a Federal 
prosecutor for 18 years, 12 of them as U.S. attorney. He has also 
served on the Senate Judiciary Committee since he was first elected two 
decades ago. In other words, he has been directly involved in both the 
development and implementation of criminal justice policy, a 
combination unmatched by any Attorney General since the office was 
created in 1789. His service in this body and on the committee of 
jurisdiction over the Department is especially important because a 
respectful and productive working relationship with Congress has never 
been more important.
  No one knows more what the Office of Attorney General requires than 
those who have actually served in that office. I have a letter signed 
by 10 former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General who have 
served over the past three decades. I ask unanimous consent that this 
letter be printed in the Record following my remarks.
  Some of these officials knew and worked with Senator Sessions when he 
was U.S. attorney, others since he joined us in the Senate. They all 
share the same conclusion: ``All of us know him as a person of honesty 
and integrity, who has held himself to the highest ethical standards 
throughout his

[[Page S6971]]

career, and is guided always by a deep and abiding sense of duty to 
this nation and its founding charter.'' I think that is really true, 
and these 10 former leaders have said so. I ask my colleagues on both 
sides of the aisle whether there is a better description of the kind of 
person we want in public office, generally, and leading the Justice 
Department, in particular.
  Let me say a word about Senator Sessions' work on the Judiciary 
Committee. I worked with him in that capacity for 20 years, including 
when he served as the ranking member. We have worked together on dozens 
of bills to improve forensic science services for law enforcement, to 
promote community policing, help child abuse victims, and prevent gun 
crimes. He is a serious legislator who knows that prosecutors and law 
enforcement need commonsense workable policies from lawmakers to help 
keep communities safe and protect the rights of all Americans.
  I also received a letter from a bipartisan group of eight men and 
women who have served as Director of National Drug Control Policy or as 
Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. I ask unanimous 
consent that this letter appear in the Record following leader remarks.
  Here is what they say:

       His distinguished career as a prosecutor . . . earned him a 
     reputation as a tough, determined professional who has been 
     dedicated to the appropriate enforcement of the rule of law. 
     His exemplary record of service in law enforcement 
     demonstrates that he is the protector of civil rights and 
     defender of crime victims.

  Again, I ask my colleagues whether there is a better description of 
the kind of leader America needs at the Justice Department. I ask my 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle, Who would have a better 
informed, more comprehensive knowledge of Senator Sessions' fitness to 
be Attorney General?
  Before I conclude, I want to address what is already shaping up to be 
an ugly propaganda offensive against this fine nominee--this fine 
person--whom I know very well and have served with virtually every day 
for the last 20 years.
  I have served in this body under both Republican and Democratic 
Presidents, under both Republican and Democratic Senate leadership. I 
have actively participated in the confirmation process for 12 Attorneys 
General, in both parties, and have seen before the tactics that are 
already being used in a vain attempt to undermine this nomination.
  The critics do not challenge Senator Sessions' qualifications. They 
can't. Instead, they traffic in rumor, innuendo, and--I hate to say 
it--smear tactics. They take a comment here, a decision there from 
years or even decades in the past and use their media allies to 
transform these bits and pieces into what appear to be full-fledged 
stories--and they are not. They are counting on people not knowing the 
whole story. Such a cynical, dishonest campaign. It is not about the 
truth or fairly evaluating the President-elect's nominee to be Attorney 
General. And it is despicable, and it is beneath the dignity of us here 
in the U.S. Senate.

  To be honest, these tactics are really not about Senator Sessions at 
all but about the power of those who are using these tactics. They have 
to mark their territory, flex their muscle, and show that they are 
still a force to be reckoned with. If such things as fairness, 
integrity, truth, and decency have to be sacrificed in that power 
struggle, so be it, I guess.
  I hope my colleagues will not only resist these tactics but that they 
will join me in exposing and rejecting them. They degrade the Senate, 
they mislead our fellow citizens, and they corrode our democracy. Let's 
stay focused on our role here, which is to evaluate whether the 
President-elect's nominee is qualified. We know that he is. We know 
that he is superbly qualified and that he will be a strong and 
principled leader for the Justice Department.
  In closing, I want to quote from that letter by bipartisan drug 
policy officials. They say this about Senator Sessions:

       His prudent and responsible approach is exactly what the 
     Department of Justice needs to enforce the law, restore 
     confidence in the United States' justice system, and keep the 
     American people safe. We support the nomination of Senator 
     Sessions to be Attorney General of the United States, and we 
     ask you to do the same.

  I could not have said it better.
  I have known Jeff for 20 years now, every year he served here, and I 
knew him before then. I remember the despicable way he was treated many 
years ago as a nominee. I don't want to see that repeated, and I 
personally will hold accountable anybody who tries to repeat it.
  Jeff Sessions is a wonderful man. He is a good person. Even though 
any one of us here may have some disagreements from time to time with 
policy--we do with each other--that doesn't denigrate and shouldn't 
denigrate him as a decent, honorable man who deserves to be Attorney 
General of the United States.
  I am very proud of Donald Trump doing this, giving this really fine 
man an opportunity to serve, and I believe he will straighten out the 
Department of Justice to be the Department that it should be, that we 
all want it to be. I think it will elevate the Department of Justice in 
ways that it hasn't been in many of the years I have been in the U.S. 
Senate. That is not to denigrate everybody who has served in the 
Department of Justice. But let's face it--it has been used politically 
by both parties at times for no good reason. I will tell you this: Jeff 
Sessions will make sure that will not be the case, and that will be a 
pleasant change from what we have had in the past in some 
administrations, Republican and Democratic.
  I have a strong knowledge of his background. I have a strong feeling 
about Jeff as a person. I believe he will be a great Attorney General, 
and I hope our colleagues on both sides of the aisle treat him with 
respect as he goes through this nomination process. If we do, we will 
be able to walk out of here at least with some sense of pride that we 
did what was right.
  I think you will find, as Jeff serves--and he is going to serve--as 
he serves in the Justice Department, he will do a very good job, and it 
will be a job done for everybody in America and not just Republicans 
and not just for the new administration that is coming in, but for 
everybody. That is what I think you will find from Jeff Sessions. He is 
a tough guy. He has the ability to stand up. He has the ability do what 
is right, and he will do it. I have great confidence in Jeff.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                 December 5, 2016.
     Hon. Charles E. Grassley,
     U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Dirksen Senate Office 
         Building, Washington, DC.
     Hon. Dianne G. Feinstein,
     U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Dirksen Senate Office 
         Building, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein: The 
     signers of this letter served in the Department of Justice in 
     the positions listed next to their names and, in connection 
     with that service, came to know Senator Jeff Sessions through 
     his oversight of the Department as a member of the Judiciary 
     Committee or in his work as U.S. Attorney for the Southern 
     District of Alabama. All of us worked with him; several of us 
     testified before him during his service on your Committee. 
     All of us know him as a person of honesty and integrity, who 
     has held himself to the highest ethical standards throughout 
     his career, and is guided always by a deep and abiding sense 
     of duty to this nation and its founding charter.
       Based on our collective and extensive experience, we also 
     know him to be a person of unwavering dedication to the 
     mission of the Department--to assure that our country is 
     governed by the fair and even-handed rule of law. For 
     example, Senator Sessions has been intimately involved in 
     assuring that even as the Department combats the scourge of 
     illegal drugs, the penalties imposed on defendants do not 
     unfairly impact minority communities. He has worked 
     diligently to empower the Department to do its part in 
     defending the nation against those intent on destroying our 
     way of life, adhering throughout to bedrock legal principles 
     and common sense.
       Senator Sessions' career as a federal prosecutor also has 
     provided him with the necessary institutional knowledge, 
     expertise, and deep familiarity with the issues that confront 
     the Department, insofar as it is an army in the field. As the 
     United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, 
     Senator Sessions worked hard to protect vulnerable victims, 
     particularly children. He carried this commitment to the 
     Senate, where he championed legislation to provide the 
     Department with the tools it needs to fight online child 
     pornography, to close rogue internet pharmacies that have 
     contributed to the opioid epidemic, and to end sexual assault 
     in prison.

[[Page S6972]]

       Senator Sessions' career, both as a United States Attorney 
     and as a Senator, well prepares him for the role of Attorney 
     General. In sum, Senator Sessions is superbly qualified by 
     temperament, intellect, and experience, to serve as this 
     nation's chief law enforcement officer. We urge his swift 
         John D. Ashcroft, Attorney General, 2001-2005;
         Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General, 2005-2007;
         Michael B. Mukasey, Attorney General, 2007-2009;
         Mark R. Filip, Deputy Attorney General, 2008-2009;
         Paul J. McNulty, Deputy Attorney General, 2006-2007;
         Larry D. Thompson, Deputy Attorney General, 2001-2003;
         William P. Barr, Attorney General, 1991-1993, Deputy 
           Attorney General, 1990-1991;
         Edwin Meese, III, Attorney General, 1985-1988;
         Craig S. Morford, Deputy Attorney General, 2007-2008 
          George J. Terwilliger III, Deputy Attorney General, 

                                                 December 5, 2016.
     Hon. Mitch McConnell,
     Majority Leader, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
     Hon. Chuck Schumer,
     Minority Leader, 115th Congress, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
     Hon. Chuck Grassley,
     Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 
         Washington, DC.
     Hon. Patrick Leahy,
     Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 
         Washington, DC.
     Re Nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General 
         of the United States.

       Dear Leader McConnell, Senator Schumer, Chairman Grassley, 
     and Ranking Member Leahy: As you prepare for the upcoming 
     Congress and for the impending nominations of President-elect 
     Trump's Cabinet members, we write to express our strong 
     support for the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be 
     Attorney General of the United States. Senator Sessions' 
     exemplary record during his long career in public service 
     speaks to the leadership and sober dedication he would bring 
     to the Department of Justice.
       As former government officials involved in the development 
     and administration of the United States' drug policies, we 
     understand the importance of a Department of Justice that is 
     committed to the just and fair enforcement of the laws that 
     Congress has written. In this respect, Senator Sessions would 
     make an excellent Attorney General. His distinguished career 
     as a prosecutor, including as the Reagan-appointed U.S. 
     Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama and as Attorney 
     General of Alabama, earned him a reputation as a tough, 
     determined professional who has been dedicated to the 
     appropriate enforcement of the rule of law. His exemplary 
     record of service in law enforcement demonstrates that he is 
     a protector of civil rights and defender of crime victims.
       Senator Sessions brought that same dedication to his 
     service in the Senate. As an example of his fair-minded 
     approach to tough law enforcement, he, together with Senator 
     Durbin, passed the bipartisan Fair Sentencing Act, which 
     increased fairness in sentencing by reducing the disparity in 
     crack cocaine and powder cocaine sentences, while also 
     strengthening penalties for serious drug traffickers. His 
     prudent and responsible approach is exactly what the 
     Department of Justice needs to enforce the law, restore 
     confidence in the United States' justice system, and keep the 
     American people safe. We support the nomination of Senator 
     Sessions to be Attorney General of the United States, and we 
     ask you to do the same.
         William J. Bennett, Director of National Drug Control 
           Policy, March 1989-December 1990;
         Robert Martinez, Director of National Drug Control 
           Policy, March 1991-January 1993;
         John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control 
           Policy, December 2001-January 2009;
         Peter B. Bensinger, Administrator, Drug Enforcement 
           Administration, February 1976-July 1981;
         John C. Lawn, Administrator, Drug Enforcement 
           Administration, July 1985-March 1990;
         Robert C. Bonner, Administrator, Drug Enforcement 
           Administration, August 1990-October 1993;
         Karen Tandy, Administrator, Drug Enforcement 
           Administration, July 2003-November 2007;
         Michele Leonhart, Administrator, Drug Enforcement 
           Administration, December 2010-May 2015.

                             114th Congress

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, as we approach the end of the 114th 
Congress, many here in the Senate have been taking the time to reflect 
on what we have been able to accomplish and, more importantly, plan for 
what we hope to be able to accomplish in the near future.
  This was a tumultuous 2 years for our country, punctuated by a fierce 
and unpredictable political campaign and results that were, to some, 
beyond surprising.
  Before the start of the 114th Congress, the Senate had for years been 
languishing in partisan gridlock. Very little got done around here, and 
far too often, we spent our time fighting out the political sound bites 
of the day and voting on whatever partisan issue happened to be 
grabbing headlines.
  While some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have 
attempted to argue otherwise, the Senate has been remarkably productive 
during the 114th Congress. And that goes far beyond just a list of 
bills we have been available to pass. The Senate has changed in ways 
that numbers really can't quantify. For example, committees in the 
Senate have functioned more effectively than in the past. The debates 
on the Senate floor have been fuller and fairer than they were before. 
And, of course, the focus has returned to actually governing rather 
than simply adding more noise to the political echo chamber.
  Most astonishingly, given the tone of the country's overall political 
discourse, most of the Senate's accomplishments have been bipartisan. 
As I have noted on a number of occasions, the Senate Finance Committee, 
which I have been privileged to chair for the past 2 years, has, to a 
historic degree, been able to ride this new wave of bipartisan 
productivity. In this Congress, our committee has reported 41 separate 
bills, all of them bipartisan. These include priorities throughout the 
committee's jurisdiction. That is remarkable. These weren't itty-bitty 
bills; they were very important bills. That is remarkable. Honestly, I 
wish I could take credit for it, but the success we have enjoyed has 
been due to the work of every Senator on our committee. To a member, 
they have all been committed to working on a bipartisan basis to move 
ideas forward and produce results. We haven't agreed on everything, 
that is for sure, but we found enough common ground that the desire to 
work together has remained strong through this Congress.
  I want to thank the members of our Finance Committee for their 
efforts this year. They have all been exemplary colleagues to work 
with. Even when we disagreed, we have had good discussions.
  Today, I want to particularly thank Senator Coats, who is, as we 
know, retiring at the end of this Congress. We will miss the senior 
Senator from Indiana's stalwart presence on the Finance Committee and 
in the Senate as a whole. I wish him the best of luck.
  I want to take a moment to delve deeper into the substance of our 
committee's work. Let me give the highlights or else we will be here 
all day.
  Early on in the 114th Congress, the Senate and the House passed 
legislation produced in the Finance Committee to repeal and replace the 
broken Medicare sustainable growth rate, or SGR, formula, putting an 
end to the ritual of cobbling together the SGR patches at the last 
minute behind closed doors. This bill was one of the most significant 
bipartisan reforms enacted in the history of the Medicare Program.
  We made once-in-a-generation advancements in U.S. trade policy by 
renewing and updating trade promotion authority, reauthorizing vital 
trade preferences programs, and modernizing our trade enforcement and 
customs laws. All of these are important strides in the ongoing effort 
to promote U.S. leadership in the world marketplace in order to benefit 
our workers, our farmers, our ranchers, and inventors, just to mention 
a few.
  We acted decisively to prevent benefit cuts in Social Security 
disability insurance and put into place the most significant 
improvements to the Social Security system since the 1980s.
  We came up with enough offsets to extend the life of the highway 
trust fund for 5 years, something nobody thought we could do. That is 
the longest such extension in nearly two decades. This was accomplished 
despite the cries of naysayers who said it couldn't be done without a 
massive tax increase. We did not increase taxes.
  We also made serious strides to advance a number of the committee's 
long-term improvements, including improvements to Medicare benefits for 
patients dealing with chronic illnesses, overdue reforms to our 
Nation's foster

[[Page S6973]]

care system, a series of measures to protect taxpayers from the ever-
increasing threat of identity theft and tax refund fraud, and 
legislation to help more Americans save adequately for retirement.
  Not all of these measures have yet been signed into law, but in every 
case we have been able to move the ball significantly forward.

  In addition, we continued the Finance Committee's long tradition of 
conducting robust and exhaustive oversight. Our bipartisan report on 
the IRS targeting scandal, which we released last year, was a great 
  In addition, the committee's work to shine a light on the inept 
implementation of ObamaCare was second to none. And, of course, we made 
real progress in the ongoing effort to reform our Nation's Tax Code.
  I would like to talk about tax reform in a little more detail because 
that has been the focus of so much of our efforts in this Congress, and 
that is not likely to change when we gavel in the 115th Congress.
  Among other things, the members of the Finance Committee produced a 
number of bipartisan reports outlining the key challenges we face with 
our Tax Code after working together in the tax reform working groups we 
established last year. Also, the Finance Committee, working with our 
leadership here in the Senate and our colleagues in the House, drafted 
and facilitated passage of a massive tax bill that made permanent a 
number of oft-expiring tax provisions, providing real certainty to 
businesses and job creators and setting the stage for even more 
significant reforms in the future. That bill also delayed a number of 
ObamaCare's burdensome health care taxes.
  In addition, I have spent much of the 114th Congress hard at work 
developing a tax reform proposal to better integrate the corporate and 
individual tax systems. Under current law, the United States not only 
has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, we also 
subject many of our businesses and the individuals who invest in them 
to multiple levels of tax on what are essentially the same earnings. 
This system results in a number of inequities and economic distortions, 
including undue burdens on U.S. workers and incentives for businesses 
to finance their operations with debt instead of equity.
  These problems have troubled policymakers for years, particularly 
recently as the combined effects of these misguided policies have 
resulted in waves of corporate inversions and foreign takeovers of U.S. 
  This is a serious set of problems. My idea to address this problem 
was relatively simple: Allow corporations to deduct from their taxable 
earnings any dividend they distribute to shareholders. Currently, our 
system taxes a business's earnings once at the company level--at an 
astronomically high rate, no less--and again when the earnings are 
distributed to shareholders. My proposal has been to eliminate one 
level of taxation on these distributed earnings and require only a 
shareholder-level tax on dividends, which is similar to the way debt is 
treated. Forms of this proposal have been put forward by Treasury 
Departments and congressional tax writers from both parties in the 
  In addition to a dividends-paid deduction, in order to bring more 
balance to the system and eliminate even more distortions, I have 
looked for ways to equalize the tax treatment of debt and equity under 
our system. Those monitoring the tax world undoubtedly know that I have 
spent quite a long time working on this proposal, including a number of 
months going over the numbers with the Joint Committee on Taxation. At 
this point, I can say that the feedback I have received from JCT on 
this matter has been very positive. For example, in its preliminary 
assessments, JCT indicated that the proposal would increase economic 
growth and activity relevant to current law. They found that it would 
increase wages for U.S. workers through increased productivity. Their 
analysis also showed that the proposal would increase capital 
investment and reduce effective tax rates for American businesses. 
Interestingly, JCT also found that the proposal would alleviate some of 
the pressures that drive corporate inversions and help prevent erosion 
of the U.S. tax base overall. It sounds pretty good, and it is true.
  These concerns--economic growth, wages, and U.S. companies moving 
offshore or being acquired by foreign companies--have a real-world 
impact on American workers and employers, and they were at the heart of 
this year's campaign debates. Thus far, the feedback we have received 
shows that a dividends-paid deduction, combined with equalized tax 
treatment for debt and equity, would help address these concerns. And 
according to JCT, all of this could be done without adding to the 
deficit or shifting more of the overall tax burden from those with 
higher incomes to middle and lower income taxpayers.
  I know the DC tax community has been speculating on this matter for a 
while now, and I can attest today that the idea of better integrating 
the corporate and individual tax systems through a dividends-paid 
deduction wouldn't just work but could actually work very well. Once 
again, the numbers we have seen thus far have been quite favorable.
  I will note that we have heard some concerns from those in the 
charitable and nonprofit community as well as retirement security and 
stakeholders regarding the potential impact of equalizing the treatment 
of debt and equity. I think my history in the Senate has demonstrated 
pretty clearly my commitment to both charitable giving and retirement 
security. I want to make clear that my staff and I are prepared to 
address these kinds of concerns when this takes legislative form.
  I suppose that for most of the people who have been monitoring our 
efforts on corporate integration, their biggest question is about 
timing: When will we try to move this for? After any big election 
campaign, particularly after the one that was as unpredictable as the 
one we saw in 2016--although I thought it was predictable, but most 
people didn't--it is important to acknowledge the realities on the 
  I remain very interested in the concept of corporate integration and 
continue to believe it would have a positive impact on our tax system 
and our economy overall. Let's be honest, after this election, the 
ground has shifted, and while we don't know how everything will play 
out in the coming months, it is safe to assume that the tax reform 
discussion is shifting as well. Right now, we are seeing more momentum 
for comprehensive tax reform--that is reform that deals with both the 
individual and business tax systems--than we have seen in a generation 
or more. If we are going to do right by our economy and the American 
people, we need to think in those comprehensive terms. At the very 
least, I think it is fair to say that with the changing circumstances, 
the assumptions and parameters that have, for some time now, governed 
the tax reform debate will have to be modified, if not thrown out 
  I believe corporate integration can and should be part of the 
comprehensive tax reform discussion that appears to be on the horizon, 
but given the current reality, any substantive tax reform proposal will 
need to be considered and evaluated in the context of what has quickly 
become a much broader discussion. Let me be clear: I am not walking 
away from the idea of corporate integration. On the contrary. I am 
excited to see how the debate over comprehensive tax reform plays out 
in the near future and where this concept might fit in that broader 
  Going forward, we have a real opportunity to make significant, 
perhaps even fundamental, changes to our entire tax system in order to 
encourage growth, create more jobs, and improve the lives of 
individuals and families around our country. As the chairman of the 
Senate's tax-writing committee, I am very excited for this opportunity, 
and I am committed to doing all I can to make sure we succeed in this 
endeavor and that we do it in a bipartisan way. We are working right 
now, today, in a bipartisan way to try and resolve some of these 
problems. I have been meeting with every member of our committee, 
Democrats and Republicans, to see how we can work better together.
  This discussion about comprehensive tax reform promises to be one of 
the big-ticket items in the coming Congress, and I am excited to be a 
part of it. In addition to tax reform, the Senate and Senate Finance 

[[Page S6974]]

will have a number of other tasks to perform in the early days of the 
115th Congress. For example, early on, I expect that we will finally be 
able to repeal ObamaCare and begin a serious process of replacing it 
with reforms that are more worthy of the American people. We also need 
to take a serious look at our broken retirement programs like Medicare, 
Medicaid, and Social Security. I am sure that simply because I am the 
Republican who just happened to mention the name of those programs out 
loud, I will be scorned and labeled a ``privatizer'' in certain policy 
and advocacy corners after this speech. However, reductive labels 
aside, no one seriously disputes the fact that these programs are in 
fiscal trouble. We need to work toward finding solutions, and they need 
to be bipartisan solutions.
  I have put forward a number of potential solutions to help address 
the coming entitlement crisis. I hope policymakers in Congress, the 
incoming administration, and elsewhere will take a look at my ideas. I 
think they will find they are ideas that will help this country out of 
the problems and the mess it is in.
  On top of tax and health care, we need to consider the future of U.S. 
trade policy. While this was a matter of some fierce discussion during 
the campaign, I remain committed to doing all I can to ensure that the 
United States continues to lead the world in trade, including the 
establishment of high-standard free-trade agreements.
  All of these matters, and many others as well, fall within the 
jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee. Fortunately, I am joined 
on the committee with a host of capable U.S. Senators from both 
parties. It is a great committee with great members, and I feel very 
privileged to be able to lead that committee.
  Over the past 2 years, we have demonstrated that by working together, 
we can overcome some pretty long odds and accomplish a number of 
difficult tasks. I hope that continues this next year. I am going to do 
all I can to make sure it does.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.

             Mine Worker Health Care Benefits and Pensions

  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I rise and stand here today fighting for 
the working men and women each one of us--whether Democrat or 
Republican, whether you belong to a 100-Member Senate or a 435-Member 
House--use in our commercials. Every one of us goes out and basically 
tries to attract working men and women to vote for us because we say: 
We are coming here to fight for you. We are going to stand up for you. 
No one is going to walk over you, push you aside, or forget about you. 
Every one of us has done those ads.
  Our 435 House Members had to go home yesterday because it was time 
for Christmas. I remind all of my colleagues that we have basically 
missed 100 working days this year. Do you think we have been 
overworked? I don't think so, but I guess my House Members did because 
they had to go home. They never even gave us the courtesy of giving us 
a 3-day extension. We can work through these problems. We have said 
that, but that is not even there. I guess they think they want to jam 
  We are here fighting for the United Mine Workers pension, people who 
have given this country everything they had. These are people who said: 
I will go down there and get the energy you need to win the war and the 
energy you need to build this country. I have the industrial might--the 
middle class. We will build it. We are the middle class. That is who 
they are. That is all they said. We made commitments to them.
  For the first 50 years after they energized this country and won two 
world wars, they got nothing. My grandfather was one of them. They got 
nothing--no pension, no health care. They got nothing.
  In 1946, they finally got something. We have been fighting ever since 
then just to keep it, and now all of a sudden it is going to evaporate 
and nobody will say a word because we have to go home for Christmas. We 
have to go home for vacation.
  Well, we have been working, fighting, and really clawing for this. We 
have it. If it came to the floor, it would pass, and we know that, but 
we have some friends on the other side--435 over there--who, for some 
reason, didn't believe it was of urgency. They said, we are going to 
give you a 4-month extension on the health care benefits that 16,000 
miners lose December 31. We will give you 4 months, and I guess we are 
supposed to be happy with that. Well, I am not. I am sorry, but I am 
  We fought for the Miners Protection Act. We went through the regular 
order and we got an 18-to-8 vote out of the Finance Committee at the 
Senate, and we thought we would be right here having that vote and 
showing the people we support them and that hopefully the House would 
take it up, but that never happened.
  Where we stand today, right now, is, we are asking what is our 
pathway forward. Well, we have been working and talking, as you are 
supposed to. We tried to basically negotiate, we tried to find 
compromise, and we tried to find a pathway forward. It has been hard 
for me to see a pathway forward right now.
  I am going to have to oppose this CR and oppose, not only the cloture 
but the passage of the CR for many reasons, and I will give you one 
example that probably galls me more than anything else that we have 
done here or over in the House. My Republican colleagues didn't even 
know about it. It is not from this side. It came from that side, and 
what they did was say, not only are we going to add insult to injury 
and only give you 4 months, we will make you pay for it with your own 
money. We will make you pay for it with money that has been set aside 
through bankruptcy courts to give retirement to miners who worked for 
companies that declared bankruptcy, went through the bankruptcy court, 
had money set aside so they would at least have health care for a 
while. The people we are talking about were supposed to have health 
care until July. Guess what. Because of what we are doing, they lose 3 
months. Now, grant you, we have people--16,000--who have health care 
until December who get 4 months, if you consider that a victory, but 
how about the couple thousand who were supposed to have it until July 
are only going to have it now until April? What do you tell them? I am 
sorry. We fought like the dickens for you, but you lost 3 months. Where 
I come from that doesn't fly. I can't explain that. I really can't.
  I am encouraged, to a certain extent. My friend the majority leader, 
Mitch McConnell from Kentucky, said he was confident the retirees would 
not lose benefits next year, including more than 3,000 in his home 
State of Kentucky. I think it is highly unlikely we will take that 
away, he said. It has been my intention that the miner benefits not 
expire at the end of April next year. I believe him. And he pledged: I 
am going to work with my colleagues to prevent that.
  I am ready to go to work. I am not sure if my colleagues on the other 
side--435 in the House--are as committed. I appreciate the majority 
leader making this commitment. I do appreciate that very much. 
Unfortunately, it is not enough because I don't have the commitment 
from the other side, and I am going to fight for that. For that reason 
and many more, I am going to be unable to vote for cloture, and I 
encourage my colleagues not to vote for cloture on this CR.
  With that, I yield the floor to my friend from Ohio, Senator Brown.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio is recognized.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I thank Senator Manchin, Senator Warner, 
and Senator Casey, who all represent a lot of these mine workers. Some 
of them are in the Gallery. We attended a rally with some of them the 
other night. Some of them we see in Zanesville, Cambridge, Southwest 
Pennsylvania, and Southwest Virginia.
  I thank Senator McCaskill for her work on this.
  Let's point out, again, to our colleagues what happened here. Early 
this year, the Senate majority leader, the Republican leader from 
Kentucky, said: Before we do this, you have to come up with a 
bipartisan bill. We came up with a bipartisan bill. We did exactly what 
he wanted. We had Senator Capito, Senator Portman, Senator Toomey, and 
a lot of support on both sides, even people who didn't sponsor it. That 
wasn't enough.
  Then he moved the goalposts and said: You have to come up with the 

[[Page S6975]]

through regular order. We went through regular order in the Finance 
Committee. Senator Warner, Senator Casey, and I in the Finance 
Committee called Cecil Roberts, the head of the mine workers, people 
like Norm Skinner from Ohio, Dave Urtest, Dave Dilly, and others came 
and talked to us. We had testimony. It was brought to a vote and it 
passed on a bipartisan vote, 18 to 8. Every Democrat voted for it and a 
handful of Republicans voted for it. We did that, and then the 
Republican leader moved the goalposts again and said: That is not good 
enough. You have to do something more. You have to find a way to pay 
for it. We found a way to pay for it with money out of the abandoned 
mine fund to pay for this.
  This legislation would have permanently taken care of much pensions 
and health care. It would have meant that mine workers don't have to 
take valuable time and spend money and come to Washington and lobbyists 
to talk to us, educate us, and do what they do so well in telling their 
stories. It would have solved that, but now week after week after week 
has passed. Before the election, people were talking a good game, now 
they are not talking such a good game, except for my colleagues with me 
on the floor today fighting for them.
  So what happens now? The majority leader in the Senate is pointing 
fingers down this hall, blaming the Speaker of the House, and the 
Speaker of the House back there is pointing fingers at the majority 
leader saying: Well, I want to do a year. No, I want to do a year.
  Well, the fact is, neither of them has offered anything. They could 
bring this bill up to pass out of the Finance Committee. Senator 
McConnell tonight could bring this to the Senate floor. We could pass 
it. We would get how many votes: 75, 80 votes? We would get at least 
70, probably 75 or 80. We would get every single Democrat, and we would 
get probably close to half of the Republicans. They will not do that. 
They are too busy pointing fingers back and forth.
  So I am going to vote no on the continuing resolution because I just 
don't think that this is the deal we should get. This 4-month deal 
where the majority leader said he is helping the miners with a 4-month 
deal--it means that the retired miners and the widows who got a notice 
in late October, early November that their insurance would run out 
December 31--if we do this 4-month deal, they are going to get another 
notice in January or February saying it runs out again.
  Particularly if you are sick, particularly if you have a sick 
husband, can you imagine that you are going to get a notice every 3 or 
4 months saying your insurance is going to run out? How do you deal 
with that? How do you make doctor visits? How do you make appointments? 
How do you do that? It is just cruel and unusual punishment.
  Instead, the other night, we saw our colleagues coming to the floor, 
offering resolutions. There was one honoring Pearl Harbor victims. 
Senator Manchin and I were on the floor. We were objecting to all this. 
Of course, I have been on the Veterans' Affairs Committee for a decade, 
and so has Senator Manchin. Of course we are not objecting to honoring 
Pearl Harbor victims any more than we are objecting to one of the other 
resolutions that said we feel bad about the people who died in Oakland 
in that fire; of course we do. But what we were doing and what we will 
continue to do is fight for those mine workers, both the retirees and 
the widows.
  Next year that is what we are going to do. We will get a good vote 
today in opposition to this because Democrats--people on this side--and 
a handful of more courageous Republicans will vote no on the continuing 
resolution. That should send a message to Senator McConnell on how 
important it is that come January we vote, not on another 4-months and 
another 4-months, not even voting for a year, but we vote for a 
permanent fix on pensions and a permanent fix on health care that is 
paid for out of the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. That needs to be 
what we do the first of the year.
  This place is not going to operate very well if the leadership in 
this body does not stand up and give us a vote on a bill that protects 
mine worker retirees, that protects pensioners and health care, that 
says that we are going to fix this permanently. They should not have to 
come here month after month after month to lobby us.
  This is something we should do. It has been an obligation since Harry 
Truman. Senator McCaskill is always talking about Harry. Harry Truman 
in the 1940s, seven decades ago, made this pledge, made this promise. 
We all want to live up to the promise. Presidents of both parties, 
Members of Congress in both parties were living up to that promise 
decade after decade. Now they don't want to live up to it.
  It is important that we enforce that come January. I am voting no. I 
want to send that message. This is just too important to back down 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, at this time, to put things in 
perspective, because a lot of people don't really know--people say: Why 
do you even use coal anymore? Why do we even need coal? Let me explain 
to the 300-plus million people living in America today that if you are 
alive today, for most of your life, over 50 percent of your energy that 
has been given to you has been delivered to you because of coal. So to 
put it in perspective, what 12 hours of the day do you not want 
electricity? What 12 hours of the day do you not want heat, air 
  We need to bring attention to the people who have done the work. That 
is all we have said. They are forgotten heroes. In West Virginia, we 
feel like a Vietnam returning veteran. We have done everything our 
country has asked of us, and now you will not even recognize us. You 
don't even understand what we have done.
  Well, that is what we are doing. That is what we are fighting for.
  At this time I would like to recognize my good friend from 
Pennsylvania, Senator Bob Casey, who comes from the tremendous State of 
Pennsylvania, which has provided an awful lot of energy for many years. 
Senator Casey.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I want to thank my colleague from West 
Virginia for his leadership on this issue, going back not just days and 
weeks but months and even years. I think we should start with the word 
``promise'' tonight. We have a matter that came before the Senate that 
Senator Brown indicated was the subject of a bipartisan consensus that 
went all the way through the Finance Committee, a vote of 18 to 8 
earlier this year. The question before the Senate today and the 
question before the Senate in 2017 will continue to be: Will the 
Senate--and I would add will the House of Representatives--keep our 
promise to these coal miners and their families? It is really not more 
complicated than that. We have to ask ourselves whether we are going to 
fulfill our promise.
  Just to give you a sense of what this means to individuals, I have 
three letters in my hand. We have all gotten hundreds of them, if not 
more, maybe thousands at this point. But I have three letters from 
three different counties from which I will read excerpts.
  The first one is from Johnstown, Cambria County, with a great history 
of coal mining but also a great history of a diverse economy. This 
individual wrote--actually two; it is a husband and wife writing to 
me--saying: ``We are in our late 70s and desperately need our pension 
and hospitalization.''
  Cambria County, PA, alone has 2,483 pensioners. Just that one county 
has that many pensioners who happen to be families who had a loved one 
working in the coal mines. This is one of those families who wrote to 
me. If you look at the health care issue and you look at it county by 
county, sometimes the numbers are lower, but it is in the hundreds and 
hundreds in many counties.
  The next letter is from an individual in Green County. She is writing 
about her husband, and she says:

       My husband was only retired about 1 year when he found he 
     had cancer. One of the reliefs that he had while battling 
     cancer was knowing he had his pension and good health 
     benefits. So it was one less worry.

  Green County is a small county in Pennsylvania, in the deep southwest 
corner, right on the corner next to West Virginia and Ohio. In Green 
County, there are 1,436 pensioners and many depending upon the health 
care promise that our government made.
  The third and final letter is from Westmoreland County, from an 
individual talking about his time in the coal mines. He said:

[[Page S6976]]


       My 33 years in the mining industry are testimony to the 
     fact that I provided a needed service to my country and my 

  Then, later in the letter, he goes on to say:

       Now, thousands face an uncertain future. A promise was made 
     and a promise needs to be kept.

  In Westmoreland County, PA, there are 1,067 pensioners. Across our 
State, just on health care, almost 1,400 Pennsylvanians are affected by 
health care. Some of them have cancer. Some of them have a family where 
the husband is dead and the wife has cancer. Some face the kind of 
health care circumstances that none of us can identify with because 
everyone who works--every Member of the Senate and the House--we have 
health care. We don't have to worry about next week or next month or 
next year.
  So the question becomes, as I said, whether we are going to keep our 
promise to these coal miners. There is no excuse for putting in the 
continuing resolution as pathetic a proposal as we got this year in 
this continuing resolution, which basically says: You have health care 
for just 4 months, and you are supposed to be satisfied with that. In 
fact, I think there was one Member of the Senate who said, ``They 
should be satisfied with that''.
  They should not be satisfied; coal miners and their families, retired 
coal miners, nor should anyone here be satisfied with that. Also at the 
same time, the proposal--or I should say now the policy in the 
continuing resolution--has no fix at all for pensions, so these 
counties, just three counties, that have thousands and thousands of 
pensioners who earned that pension, who gave up a lot to get that 
pension, who gave up a lot to get those health benefits--there is no 
fix in the CR, the continuing resolution, for the pension problem.
  We are supposed to be satisfied, and they are supposed be satisfied, 
I guess, according to the line of argument from some on the other 
side--not all, but some who said they should be satisfied. Well, here 
is a news bulletin. We are not satisfied. These miners and their 
families are not satisfied. We are not going to stop fighting on this. 
We feel so strongly about this issue that many of us, including me, 
will vote no on cloture on the CR, will vote no on the CR itself 
because we feel that strongly.
  As the presiding officer knows, usually when a continuing resolution 
comes before the Senate, it gets overwhelming support. This is how 
outrageous this is for these families. So you are going to see a number 
of people on the floor here do something they probably have never done 
before. They are going to register a protest in a very direct and 
formal way, to say no to the CR tonight.
  I know some people will be offended by that. I understand why they 
might be across the country. But we have to ask ourselves: If it is 
going to take a no on this resolution to get people to focus on what 
these miners were promised and what this government has not done to 
meet that promise, then we are willing to go to that length and to that 
extent to vote no tonight because we have to keep a focus on this.
  We are not going away, so for anyone who thinks that tonight is the 
end of a chapter, we are just getting warmed up. We are just getting 
warmed up on this because this is a promise we must keep.
  These miners and their families kept their promise. The miners kept 
their promise to their family that they would work and work in the 
depths and the darkness of the coal mines, put their lives at risk 
every single day. That is the first promise they made--and that they 
would bring a home a paycheck so their family could eat every night and 
afford a mortgage. So they kept their promise to their family. Many of 
them kept their promise to their country. They fought in World War II, 
they fought in Korea, they fought in Vietnam and beyond, in every war 
we have had in the modern era. So they kept their promise.
  It is not too difficult for a Senator or for a House Member to keep 
their promise. All they have got to do is put their hand up and say 
aye. I agree with keeping the promise to these miners. It is about time 
that our government, including everyone here, kept our promise to these 
coal miners.
  So we are doing something that many of us have never done. We are 
going to vote no on a resolution tonight to make it very clear that we 
don't agree with what is in this continuing resolution with regard to 
these miners, No. 1, and the other massage we are sending is that we 
are coming back. We are going to come back week after week, month after 
month, if not longer, to make sure that they get their health care and 
they get their pensions.
  So, this kind of solidarity, at least on this side of this aisle, 
will remain intact. It will remain fortified and strong going forward.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, as you can see, I am extremely proud. I 
can't tell you how proud I am of my colleagues. This is why we are 
here. We are standing for the people who work every day to provide a 
better living for themselves and to provide a better country for all of 
us to live in.
  With that, I am happy to be here with my good friend, my colleague, 
and my dear friend from Virginia, Senator Mark Warner.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.
  Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, first of all, let me echo everything that 
Senator Casey and Senator Brown have said. But the reason we are here, 
beyond the justness of our cause, is the fact that the Senator from 
West Virginia, Mr. Manchin, has been absolutely relentless. He has not 
let this issue die. For 18 months, he has gone through every hoop that 
has been put in front of him. It is getting through. The fact is, 
Senator Manchin today reintroduced the Miners Protection Act. In 1 
day--in 1 day--he picked up 49 cosponsors of this legislation.
  We are going to have a vote later tonight. Let me be clear. I am 
going to join in that protest. But as somebody who has one heck of a 
lot of Federal employees, we are not going to shut down the government 
on this issue. We should not even be thinking about choices where we 
have to trade off Federal workers and miners. That is not what we are 
sent here to do. But we are going to make sure that this fight does not 
end tonight. The 49 who signed up today will be in the 50s and in the 
60s when we come back.
  Let me just close. I know we have other colleagues, and others have 
commented. I went through these talking points at other times, but you 
have to hear the voices of people who are being affected. I got a 
letter recently from Sharon. Sharon is from a coal miner's family in 
Dickenson County, not too far from West Virginia and Kentucky.
  Sharon wrote:

       My father is a retired coal miner. For many years he worked 
     at Clinchfield Coal Company's Moss #2 mine. He gave them his 
     time, sweat, hard work, and even his health. In return, he 
     expected nothing more than a paycheck and a little pension, 
     and health care when he retired. He was promised that. He 
     deserves that.

  She went on to talk about the fact that her dad grew up in the 

       He grew up in a time when you took care of your things--and 
     he believed that you paid for what you got. He's paid dearly 
     for his pension and his health care. Please don't let that 
     get taken from him.
       He's also a man who takes care of his money.

  She said he was always tight with his money:

       He planned for years for his retirement. He saved and 
     budgeted so that he would have enough with his pension to be 
     able to support himself through the rest of his years and not 
     be a burden on anyone.

  Sharon, her coal miner family, and countless thousands of other 
Americans are waiting for us to honor our commitments. We are taking a 
step forward tonight. But echoing what other Senators have said before, 
this issue will not go away until these miners get their justice.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The leader, the Senator from New York.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Senator McCaskill and my colleagues are waiting.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that immediately after Senator 
McCaskill speaks, I be given 3 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. MANCHIN. We have Senator Coons, Senator McCaskill, Senator 
Schumer, and I am going to say something, and we will be finished.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Is that OK?

[[Page S6977]]

  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that after McCaskill, Coons; 
after Coons, Schumer; and then Manchin. It won't take more than 10 to 
12 total minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SCHUMER. I thank the indulgence of my colleagues.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.
  Mrs. McCASKILL. Mr. President, let me make very clear that when we 
get these benefits for these coal miners and their widows--when that 
happens, not if but when--make sure no one misunderstands who is 
responsible for it.
  I want the coal miners in West Virginia to know one thing, there is 
only one person who will be responsible for those coal miners getting 
their benefits and their promises being kept, and that will be Senator 
Joe Manchin. It won't be President Donald Trump. It won't be the 
minority leader or the majority leader. It won't be any of us. There is 
only one man who is responsible for these coal miners getting what they 
are due, and that is Senator Joe Manchin, who has fought.
  I am so sick of Joe Manchin talking to me about the coal miners. You 
can't see him in the hall when he doesn't grab you about the coal 
miners. He feels this in his heart. These are the people he grew up 
with. These are the people he knows and loves, and he is the one who is 
going to make this happen.
  The other one I am fighting for tonight is a guy named Harry. Every 
time I open my desk, I get goosebumps because I look in my desk, and I 
see the name Harry Truman scrawled in my desk.
  If you are a student of history and you know anything about Harry 
Truman, you know that he was very plainspoken. He got himself in a lot 
of trouble with his mouth, but, boy, did he believe in keeping his 
  When he was President of the United States--Louie Roberts told me, a 
man from Willard, MO, who has been in the mines and is a third-
generation coal miner and has been in the mines all of his life:

       John L. Lewis and Harry Truman--President of the United 
     States of America signed an agreement guaranteeing lifetime 
     medical benefits to UMWA miners. So Mr. & Mrs. Senators & 
     Congressmen would you please keep your Promise.

  Would you please keep your promise.

       We only ask that the Promise be kept that was made in that 
     1948 agreement.

  I am also fighting for the word of Harry Truman. This debate reminds 
me of a fight we had in Congress a couple of years ago. Back then, 
Congress had approved a $1 trillion spending package. Oh, man, the 
elves get busy around Christmastime. Omnibus package is code for ``you 
have no idea what is in it.''
  We looked and poked around in it, and we found they were cutting the 
pensions of thousands of Missourians who drove trucks for a living. We 
are talking about the people who take a shower after work, not before 
work. This place is really good at taking care of the people who take a 
shower before work. We are really good at that.
  When they repeal the ACA, they are going to give a big old tax cut to 
the 1 percent again. We are going to do that. We are going to throw 22 
million off of health care. But boy oh boy, we are going to take care 
of the 1 percent, but we are not so good at taking care of the people 
who take a shower after work.
  That bill allowed those truckdrivers to have their pensions cut. I 
was the only Member of the Missouri congressional delegation to vote 
against it. By the way, in the same bill, we gave a car and driver to a 
Member of Congress. Really? A car and a driver to a Member of Congress 
and in the same bill we cut the Teamsters' pensions. Now I hear the 
House Members had to go home.
  I don't know how many people who shower after work get 3 weeks off 
for Christmas, but I am pretty sure there are none. I am pretty sure 
they are trying to figure out if they have to cover a shift on 
Christmas. I am pretty sure they have to figure out how they can make 
ends meet so they can buy Christmas presents. But we have to get out of 
here so we can have 3 weeks off for Christmas--what nerve, doing that 
to these coal miners and taking 3 weeks off for Christmas.
  On the way out the door, they did another Christmas present. They 
made sure that the Russian oligarchs get to sell us steel. They took 
out the ``Buy American'' provision in the WRDA bill. I think the guy 
who just won the Presidency said we are going to buy American. Then 
what did the Republicans in the House do? They take out the ``Buy 
American'' provision less than a week after he said it on his victory 
tour in Cincinnati.
  I just know this. I am proud to vote no on the CR. Frankly, I am 
probably going to vote no on WRDA because of what they did with ``Buy 
American.'' I am sick of the games being played. We are going to fight. 
We are going to fight until we get this done. We may not win this fight 
tonight, but I guarantee you we are going to win it. As Harry Truman 
would say--and I am quoting; so I can't get in trouble: ``Come hell or 
high water, we are going to get it done.''
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Grassley). The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I know there is not a lot of coal mining 
in Delaware, but we sure do have a lot of friends in Delaware.
  I yield to my dear friend, Senator Chris Coons.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I rise in support and recognition of the 
tireless efforts of my friend and colleague from West Virginia. We were 
sworn in the same day, moments apart, and we were sworn in by a man who 
held this seat and this desk for 36 years. Born in Scranton, PA, Joe 
Biden, our Vice President, served Delaware for 36 years. I know Joe and 
I know one of the things he tirelessly fought for, and that was the 
working men and women of this country--just like my colleague from 
Missouri, who speaks from the desk long held by Harry Truman and in 
whose honor she spoke about our keeping our promises that date back to 
a law passed by this Congress and signed into law by Harry Truman that 
promised pensions and health care to 100,000 coal miners.
  I too have to keep faith with my predecessor in this seat, Joe Biden, 
and our neighboring State to the north, Pennsylvania; my great and good 
friend, Joe Manchin from West Virginia; Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota; 
and many others who have spoken before me and simply say: I understand 
that large, complicated appropriations bills never include every item 
that every Member wants. I wanted a provision that would help a 
manufacturing company in my State, the 48 ITC provision. The investment 
tax credit would help keep a company that manufactures fuel cells in my 
State alive and running. I heard an awful lot of talk in this campaign 
about saving American manufacturing, about doing the things we need to 
do to help working people and to help manufacturing. I am as upset as 
my colleagues about the ``Buy American'' provision being taken out of 
WRDA and our not keeping our word to buy American steel.
  But what all of us are here to stand for in common today is to keep 
our promises to the coal miners and their widows, for whom the Senator 
from West Virginia has fought so tirelessly.
  When told that is a provision that can't be taken care of, that can't 
be done, when they were sent back 30 yards, they dropped back and said: 
Fine, we will work on the Miners Protection Act. They held hearings. 
They held a markup. They found an offset. They moved through regular 
order, and they found bipartisan support. It got out of the Finance 
Committee by 18 to 8.
  Yet here we stand, likely on the very last night of this Congress, 
with a promised path being blocked and a 4-month extension, rather than 
a permanent solution--seemingly, the only option before us--and 16,000 
miners and their families would lose health care this December 31 
without a longer extension. Four months--that is all we can do--4 
months, when these good Senators worked so hard and so tirelessly to 
find a bipartisan solution that doesn't take money out of the Federal 
checkbook, that has a proper path? This is a sad day when we can't keep 
our promises to the widows of coal miners, to folks who did dirty, 
dangerous, and difficult work for decades,

[[Page S6978]]

to the people who built this country. I think in some ways this is just 
a symbol of so many other ways we have failed to keep faith with those 
who have worked in this Nation for us.
  I have not ever voted against a CR. I have always taken, I believe, 
the responsible path of making sure that we are able to craft a 
responsible compromise and get it done.
  But as an appropriator in this year and in this instance, it was 
upsetting to me that we were kept completely out of the process of 
crafting and finalizing this appropriations bill.
  So without hesitation, I will vote against it tonight because it is 
important we send a signal that we and many other Senators are 
determined to fix this problem. As the Senator from West Virginia said, 
there are no coal mines in my State, but there are many retired coal 
miners and their widows.
  I have joined as a cosponsor of the Miners Protection Act, and I am 
determined to support the great and good work of my friend, the Senator 
from West Virginia, my friend the Senator from North Dakota, and so 
many others--from my neighboring State of Pennsylvania, Senator Casey, 
and from States across the country and regions that are determined to 
do right by the people who built this Nation for us.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, as you can see, there is a lot of passion 
here and a lot of passion for people who have hard-working men and 
women in their State also. I am so proud to have the incoming leader of 
our caucus, Senator Schumer from New York, who has been a stalwart on 
this. He has fought. He has stayed with us every step of the way, and 
he will continue to lead this fight until we are successful. At this 
time, I wish to make sure Senator Schumer gets recognized.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New York.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Thank you, Mr. President.
  First, let me pay tribute to the steadfastness, the strength, and the 
courage of my friend from West Virginia. As Senator McCaskill said, not 
a day goes by where he doesn't remind us of the coal miners and their 
  Last night, through his good offices, I met with some of these 
miners. They are not from my State either.
  I looked into their eyes--hard-working people, many of them tired, 
not from the day, not from lobbying here--that is easy work for them--
but from working in those mines for so many years. They are America. 
They are the people we owe so much to.
  Having met them, seen them, and looked into their eyes, I understood 
why my dear friend from West Virginia and my friends from Virginia, 
Missouri, Pennsylvania, and North Dakota have such passion for these 
people. It is real.
  I hope some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle in the 
next month will be visited by these very miners. Look them in the eye, 
and tell them you can't help them? I bet you can't. I bet you can't.
  We are here to live up to a promise made by Harry Truman, backed up 
by legislation in this body over and over. I don't care what your 
ideology is. I don't care if you are a big government cutter. This is 
not the place to cut. This is the place to recognize hard work, a 
promise, and America, because we say to people: If you work hard, we 
are going to be there for you. But tonight, we are barely there for 
you. We are not cutting it off, but we are not doing right by the 
people I met last night through the auspices of the Senator from West 
Virginia, fine people who got to my heart.

  So we believe deeply in preserving these benefits, and we also 
believe in not hurting other people to preserve these benefits. So we 
are not going to shut down the government; we are going to keep it 
open. That would hurt millions of Americans as well and take millions 
out of the economy. So we are going to provide the votes to make sure 
we don't shut down, although there are so many people who want to stand 
with the miners. We never intended to shut down the government, but our 
intention is very real--first, to highlight the seriousness of this 
issue, not to let people think this is going to go away because they 
didn't live up to their promise. And I think we have made our point. I 
don't care if people don't like being here on a Friday night. I know 
people have other obligations, but those obligations are nothing 
compared to our obligation to these miners.
  Leader McConnell spoke to Senator Manchin a few hours ago and said 
that he would work hard to make the health benefits for miners not 
lapse in April. That is good, but it is not close to enough. It is a 
step forward, but we will go further, hopefully with the majority 
leader but even without.
  We need the finance bill, the Miners Protection Act, a bill that 
would move money from the Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation Fund into a 
fund to pay for the pension and health care benefits of tens of 
thousands of coal miners and retirees, not for 3 months, not for 1 
year, but permanently. To show how serious we are, every single 
Democrat within just a few hours cosponsored the miners amendment to 
the CR, and we did get two Republicans to join us. Welcome. We need 
more of you. Stand up for the miners.
  The fact that we have gotten so many people on this legislation bodes 
well for our chances of getting something significant done in the new 
year. So when we return in January, we are going to be looking at every 
way we can to make sure the miners receive full funding. The sooner the 
better, the stronger the proposal the better, and we will do it.
  Finally, I want to call on President-elect Trump to support our 
proposal. The President-elect ran on a campaign with explicit, direct 
promises to coal country, and he won coal country big; that is for 
sure. He held big rallies with coal workers. He said he would protect 
them. He talked to the miners and got to know them. So we are simply 
asking our President-elect to communicate to the people in his party to 
get on board and live up to the promise we made to miners many years--
  Tonight, we are putting our Republican colleagues on notice. We will 
not rest until we do right by our miners.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I thank my colleagues so much. I am so 
sorry. The patience you have had is appreciated very much. It is an 
issue, as my colleagues can tell, we are very committed to and very 
passionate about. So thank you. We are just wrapping up.
  I just want to say one thing to put it in perspective. I get to go 
around to schools in my State and really around the country talking to 
schoolkids, and I try to give a little history lesson. I always tell 
them: If you see a person in uniform, if your parent or your 
grandparent or your aunt or uncle, someone served in the military, I 
want you to say thank you because I want you to realize they were 
willing to take a bullet for you. They were willing to sacrifice their 
life for the freedom they are providing for you. Don't ever take it for 
  What we failed to teach in that history lesson is to say thank you to 
a coal miner who has provided the energy to allow us to be the 
superpower, the greatest country on Earth. Say thank you.
  Thank you to every one of my coal miners for what you do and what you 
have done for me in my little town of fewer than 500 people. I can't 
tell you how much I appreciate the life I have had because of the 
sacrifices and hard work you have given for me.
  With that, I want to say to all of my colleagues, God bless each and 
every one of you. Thank you for the fight. This is the right fight for 
the right reason for the right people.
  We will finish very quickly now with Senator Jeff Merkley.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, we heard a tremendous amount over the 
course of the past year about fighting for workers and working 
families. What does it take for a working family to thrive? It takes a 
good living-wage job, access to public education for children, and for 
those children to be able to pursue their dreams with affordable 
opportunities and education. It also takes health care.
  Take a profession like coal mining--far more dangerous than virtually 
any profession Members of the Senate have

[[Page S6979]]

had in the course of their lives. Health care is an essential element 
both for the miner and for their families. So how is it that we are at 
this point right now in which many miners don't know if they are going 
to have health care beyond April of next year? They don't know whether 
this body is going to stand with them. They are in limbo. They are in a 
state of anxiety, and it is absolutely unfair.
  So we know, as tonight progresses, we are in a situation where we 
have an extension through April, but, as Joe Manchin has said in his 
fight leading this effort to necessarily secure health care for coal 
miners and as our incoming Democratic leader has said, this is going to 
be something that we are going to stand together for in this coming 
year. We are going to make sure their health care does not expire in 
April. This benefit has been earned through hard labor, over difficult 
years, in ways few of us can imagine, and we are going to stand with 
the coal miners in getting that benefit.
  I am proud to sponsor this bill and stand with Joe Manchin and Chuck 
Schumer tonight.
  Mr. KAINE. Mr. President, I wanted to indicate how disappointed I am 
in the provisions affecting miners that have been included in the 
continuing resolution. While I will vote for final passage of the CR 
because we must not shut government down, the provisions contained are 
really an outrage.
  Sixteen thousand three hundred retirees have received a notice that 
their health benefits will expire at the end of this year. What the 
majority has included in the CR is to extend those benefits through 
April. But what was left unsaid is that now, 22,500 retirees will lose 
health coverage at the end of April 2017, and 4,000 will lose them 3 
months earlier than they otherwise would have. This plan also calls for 
taking money from a fund created to provide health coverage for retired 
miners whose employers went bankrupt. It ends the responsibility of the 
coal companies to contribute to this fund. This is a terrible giveaway 
cloaked in the provisions providing short-term health care for miners 
and their widows.
  The promise that we will deal with those consequences later rings 
hollow when we have a permanent bipartisan solution before us, the 
Miners Protection Act. I have supported this and previous versions of 
this fix since I began my service in the Senate 3 years ago. The 
majority leader wanted the bill to go through regular order before any 
floor consideration. Well, this legislation passed the Senate Finance 
Committee 18-8 and is paid for.
  I don't understand why we didn't take a floor vote on this bill 
months ago. It would receive strong bipartisan backing if it could get 
a floor vote.
  Many of us talk about helping the working men and women of our 
country, protecting seniors and respecting the dignity of a lifetime of 
work. Well, many of our constituents have been hard hit by the downturn 
in the coal industry. We cannot downplay what coal miners have 
sacrificed to fuel this Nation for over a hundred years--black Lung 
disease, physically disabling accidents, whole communities built around 
coal mining have vanished or are suffering.
  We say we want to support working families and protect seniors. We 
say we want to help Appalachia. I don't know what we are waiting for.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, a number of us have been waiting for 
several hours to speak. We understand the concerns of our colleagues 
across the aisle. We have been patiently waiting. I believe they have 
finished their remarks.
  I would say that there were a lot of remarks directed across the 
aisle. There are several of us over here who are in support and voted 
for the issue of the day here. If only our Republican friends could 
join us, they said, we wouldn't be in this situation.
  Several of us have supported this. Given the circumstances here at 
the end of the year with making sure we keep funding for government 
functions and not have it shut down, the agreement that has now been 
reached is a reasonable agreement that obviously will be taken up again 
in the next Congress. I won't be here. I supported it this year. I know 
a number of my colleagues have supported it. Many of us are from coal 
country and understand the concerns. But the larger issue for us is not 
to go into another shutdown.
  I have served in the Senate for many years, and there has been 
nothing more disruptive that produces more uncertainty among businesses 
and individuals and employees throughout this country than the Congress 
not doing its job and providing funding for them and shutting down the 
  Having said that, I ask unanimous consent that following what we have 
just heard, Senator Gardner have the opportunity to speak, I think for 
a relatively limited time, that I follow him, and I believe Senator 
Sullivan also wishes to come to the floor and speak.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, there has 
been a list that has been worked out for both sides. Many of us have 
been waiting many hours to deliver our speeches, and I believe what the 
Senator is proposing modifies that considerably.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I have 
been on the floor here waiting for 2\1/2\ hours to deliver my speech on 
WRDA, and I don't think my colleagues across the aisle have been here 
for that amount of time. Maybe we should stick to the list that has 
been worked out on both sides.
  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, if I could respond to my colleague, many of 
us have been on the list also, and we also have been waiting hours and 
hours and hours--patiently waiting. Again, working down through the 
list was not followed by the opposition.
  I am simply saying that what was asked just a few moments ago was not 
objected to. When Members on the other side of the aisle had their 
opportunity to speak, we were patiently waiting. They have left the 
floor. There is no one on their side who has not spoken.
  I don't see what the problem is. The Senator from Oregon wants to 
file a list, but no one on the list on the other side is here. We are 
going to speak for a limited amount of time, and we have been waiting 3 
hours to do so. So I am hoping my colleague would allow us to do that.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I believe 
my colleague makes a persuasive argument. Many did come to the floor to 
share in that important dialogue regarding extending health care for 
our miners, and given that, I take the Senator's point, and I look 
forward to speaking later.
  Mr. COATS. I thank my colleague.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Colorado.
  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Oregon for his 
accommodation in allowing us to speak, and I thank the Senator from 
Indiana, whom we will miss in the next Congress. The Senator from 
Indiana has been a great example for those of us who are new to the 
Senate in terms of his representation and statesmanship, and I hope and 
wish the Senator from Indiana nothing but the best for his future.

                       Tribute to Alan Lee Foutz

  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, I rise to honor the retirement and life 
and work of my dear friend Alan Lee Foutz.
  Alan has been a part of my congressional staff for 6 years, 
representing the eastern planes of Colorado, first in Sterling and now 
in my hometown of Yuma, CO. His devotion to Coloradans is nothing short 
of inspiring, and his accomplishments in the field of agriculture and 
food production are a true testament to his agricultural acumen. But 
beyond that, it is his passion for serving others, his ability to find 
the positive in any situation, and his genuine demeanor that make me 
grateful and honored to call Alan a true friend.
  Born on December 29, 1946, and raised in Akron, CO, Alan developed a 
penchant for agriculture. He was raised on his family farm, where they 
grew wheat and hay and raised turkeys, hogs, and a dairy herd.
  In 1968, Alan graduated from my alma mater, Colorado State 
University, and earned a master's degree in agronomy in 1970. Alan went 
on to earn his Ph.D. in agronomy and plant genetics on several 
innovative projects, such

[[Page S6980]]

as mapping out the barley genome. He then pursued and followed his 
passion to California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, 
where he accepted a job as an associate professor of crops. From there, 
he was able to impart his passion and expertise to his students, 
thereby cultivating the next generation of food producers for our 
  Without a doubt, it was Alan's enduring spirit and overall amiability 
that made him the perfect fit to inspire young minds, but it was his 
love of Colorado that drew him back to his home State and his roots. 
After 9 years in California, Alan returned home and put his academic 
credentials to the test by partnering with his dad, Lyle, to operate a 
10,000-acre family farm. But even that wasn't enough to satisfy Alan's 
insatiable appetite to advance Colorado agriculture. He became heavily 
involved in the Colorado Farm Bureau and in the year 2000 was elected 
president of both the Colorado Farm Bureau and the Colorado Farm Bureau 
Mutual Insurance Company. From there, his commitment to uphold and 
ensure Colorado's traditional farming and ranching values was 
fortified, guaranteeing a lasting impact on the agriculture community.
  But Alan's service was not confined to the borders of Colorado, nor 
to the shorelines of America. He dutifully served on the American Farm 
Bureau Federation Board for 6 years and made multiple trips overseas to 
help further U.S. agricultural markets and exports to other nations. 
Indeed, with this impressive record, it is easy to see how lucky I was 
to have such an accomplished staffer join my team.
  Over the years, while he was employed in my office, Alan demonstrated 
his tireless work ethic and commitment to Colorado agriculture. He 
played an influential role in ensuring that farmers and ranchers in the 
Republican River Basin who chose to conserve their land were being 
properly compensated by the USDA. Likewise, throughout the 2014 farm 
bill negotiations, Alan used his lifelong knowledge of agriculture 
policy to ensure that agriculture stakeholders across the State were 
being properly represented. And through the casework he does in my 
office, he has touched so many lives--likely more than he realizes. He 
has helped families navigate the adoption process to take home a child 
without a home. He has assisted countless veterans with getting the 
benefit they deserve and so much more. These are not just cases to 
Alan; these acts change people's lives, and he does them with humility 
and because he has a heart that is geared toward the service of others.
  Nonetheless, after all of his successes, after all of his degrees, 
and after all of his accomplishments in and out of my congressional 
office, it is Alan's devotion and absolute love for his family and his 
church that is most inspiring.
  He married his wife Val in 1966 and raised two children, Paula and 
Greg. When Al is not working on behalf of Colorado, he and Val enjoy 
spending time spoiling their grandchildren.
  According to Alan, the driving force that propels his ambition and 
unequivocal success in life is his family. That is the true mark of an 
honorable man.
  He wakes up every Sunday morning and drives almost 2 hours to serve 
as the only pastor at Kimball Presbyterian Church in Kimball, NE--
basically 100 miles one way from his hometown--a small church that 
relies on his commitment to their community each and every week, a trip 
he makes for funerals, for weddings, for home visitations, but Alan 
doesn't just keep his commitment to his faith within walls of his 
church, he brings it with him everywhere he goes--whether it is by 
lending an ear to a young staffer in need of advice or making hospital 
visits to those in need. Alan is a man that exemplifies true virtue and 
a devotion to service.
  Few people can honestly say they have made a long-lasting and 
meaningful impact on society. Alan is one of those.
  Thank you for your passionate zeal, Alan, you bring to our team day 
in and day out. Thank you for your dedication to Colorado's farmers and 
ranchers, and thank you for providing me an opportunity to learn from 
you and to help move our great State forward.
  God bless the Foutz family. I hope your good will, passion, and 
enduring spirit will continue to flourish.

          Honoring Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cody Donahue

  Mr. President, I rise to honor the legacy of Colorado State Patrol 
Trooper Cody Donahue.
  On November 25, 2016, Cody pulled his vehicle over to the side of I-
25 in Colorado to investigate and assist with a car accident. Cody was 
struck by an oncoming vehicle and tragically killed. Cody gave his life 
while nobly performing his duties as a Colorado State Patrol Trooper, 
and he--like all who walk the thin blue line--dedicated his life to 
protecting and serving his community.
  Cody was an 11-year veteran of the Colorado State Patrol, a loving 
husband, devoted father, and a wonderful son and brother. He grew up in 
Grand Forks, ND, and attended the University of North Dakota, during 
which time he married the love of his life, Velma, and eventually moved 
to Denver, where they gave birth to two beautiful girls, Maya and 
  Since his passing, it is evident, through the numerous stories shared 
by families and friends, that Cody was always quick to put others 
before himself. So it comes as no surprise that Cody joined the State 
Patrol. His courage, reliability, and selflessness made him a perfect 
fit for a unit dedicated to the safety of Coloradans.
  It is well known within the Colorado State Troopers' family that the 
badge represents distinct values that each trooper must possess: 
character, integrity, and honor are to name a few. Cody was, true to 
form, an embodiment of each one of these values.
  Character. Cody was a hard-working and equitable man. His fellow 
troopers were quick to point out that Cody would always treat each 
person he met fairly and with great respect and dignity. A true 
testament to his genuine character.
  Integrity. Those closest to Cody knew him as a man of profound 
honesty who possessed a natural aspiration to lead and serve others. 
According to a tribute, Cody ``was so honest that he once ticketed his 
  Honor. Cody was a genuine teamplayer, and would show up to work every 
day ready to serve, ensuring that his team was never a man down.
  Indeed, Cody's core values as a State Trooper extended beyond the 
department. He was known as a loving husband and caring father whose 
adoration for his family knew no bounds. He placed his family on a 
pedestal and strived to be the best father and husband that he could 
  As we celebrate the holiday spirit with family and friends, we must 
never forget the tireless efforts undertaken by Cody and all the 
courageous men and women in blue to uphold the law. Many of these brave 
officers do not have the luxury to spend holidays with family and 
friends. Instead, they answer the call to duty. They ensure the safety 
of those we love most. They are the force that watches over us. So, 
from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
  A hero is defined as someone who is ``admired for his or her courage, 
outstanding achievements, and noble qualities.'' Through his work and 
time spent with family and friends, Cody embodied each and every one of 
these characteristics. So although Cody is gone, his memory will live 
on. Character, integrity, and honor, these were Cody's core values--
values we must strive to emulate, values that will make Colorado and 
this world a better place.

                       Honoring Deputy Derek Geer

  Mr. President, when I was preparing this speech, I noticed there was 
a Christmas card on my desk today. I have it right here with me. It 
says, ``Merry Christmas.'' Inside it says: ``Wishing you all the beauty 
and joy of this peaceful Christmas season,'' and there was a note in it 
from David and Sandra Geer. Earlier this year, Derek Geer, their son--a 
law enforcement official--was also killed.
  So while we pay tribute to Cody today, we pay tribute to Derek and so 
many others who feel like they have been targeted, feel alone, who must 
know we care for them, must know we love them, and must know we keep 
them in our prayers, day in and day out. May it not just be this 
holiday season but every day that they stand on that thin blue line.

[[Page S6981]]

  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.

                           Wasteful Spending

  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, as my time in the Senate winds down, I find 
myself reflecting on many of the reasons I decided to return to the 
U.S. Senate.
  Without a doubt, one of the main factors for my return was the 
skyrocketing Federal debt and the harm Washington's excessive spending 
will have on future generations, including my children and 10 
  The day President Obama took office, the national debt was $10.6 
trillion. We are now closing in on $20 trillion. Clearly, this cannot 
be sustainable without extraordinarily negative consequences for the 
future. That debt clock continues to tick along, and we continue to 
roll into more and more debt as we spend more and more on government 
programs than the revenue coming in to pay for them.
  So when I returned to the Senate in 2011, I sought out opportunities 
to address this ticking timebomb. I worked with my colleagues, both 
Republicans and across the aisle with Democrats, on efforts to restrain 
Federal spending and stabilize our Nation's finances.
  There were a number of efforts made. We are all familiar with 
Simpson-Bowles, a bipartisan effort that tragically did not succeed and 
was not accepted by the President. The Committee of 6--the Gang of 6, 
the so-called Gang of 6, three Democrats, three Republicans, seriously, 
fastidiously worked to try to put together a formula to put us on a 
path to fiscal responsibility. Then there was the supercommittee, and 
there were outside groups led by both Republicans and Democrats.
  Ultimately, we hoped we were finalizing the efforts when the 
President, through his own initiative across the aisle, brought several 
of us into his venue and talked about how we could work together. I was 
part of that effort. Ultimately, eight of us, spending a considerable 
amount of time with the President's top people and the President 
himself, tried to find a solution or at least a step forward in the 
right direction. I am sorry to say that also did not succeed in the 
end, when even some of the President's own budget initiatives he had 
proposed were rejected by him later as part of a package.
  When it became clear to me that major reform efforts could not be 
enacted while the administration occupied the White House, I launched a 
new initiative which I called the ``Waste of the Week.'' I decided that 
each week when the Senate was in session, I would speak about 
documented and certified examples by nonpartisan agencies--those we 
turn to, to give us the numbers, those inspectors general who have 
investigated the situation and made recommendations, the Government 
Accountability Office--and all the material that is provided to us, not 
on a partisan basis but simply the numbers, just the facts in terms of 
how taxpayers' money is being spent.
  Today marks the 55th and final ``Waste of the Week'' speech. It may 
be fittingly so on what looks to be the last day of this session and my 
last day serving in the United States Senate.
  It is a little bit of walking down memory lane in terms of talking 
about the ``Waste of the Week'' and the various items we have proposed. 
It has been everything from the serious to the ridiculous, which grabs 
people's attention: Look, I can understand maybe this particular 
situation where we overspent, but, come on, clearly, surely, we weren't 
using taxpayer dollars for something as ridiculous or embarrassing as 
that. I will mention a few of my favorite examples here that we have 
talked about.
  Fraudulent double-dipping in Social Security disability insurance and 
unemployment insurance benefits to the tune of $5.7 billion that was 
spent through basic fraud by those who were submitting applications for 
and receiving payments for both. Look, if you can work but are thrown 
out of work, unemployment insurance is available to you. If you are 
disabled and can't work, Social Security Disability payments are made 
to you, but you can't collect both, and people were collecting both, to 
the tune of $5.7 billion.
  Fraud in the Food Stamp Program. People were fraudulently receiving 
up to a total of 3 billion documented dollars in that program.
  Department of Agriculture payments to dead people resulted in over 
$27 million of payments.
  These are the things that were presented. We were talking about 
several hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars. 
Something that grabbed the most attention was a study by a National 
Institutes of Health which was issued in which 18 New Zealand white 
rabbits received four 30-minute massages a day. The study was conducted 
at Ohio State University and designed to figure out whether massages 
can help recovery times after strenuous exercise.
  I raised the question: Did we need to bring over 18 white New Zealand 
rabbits? I don't know what the cost was, but I think we probably could 
have found some rabbits in the United States at much less cost. 
Nevertheless, the study went forward, and, guess what. The results were 
that after four massages a day after strenuous exercise, they felt 
better than if they didn't get the massages. I wanted to apply for that 
process there, but I learned they euthanized the rabbits after the 
study was done. So I thought, well, it is a good thing I didn't join 
that effort.
  Nevertheless, I was thinking, couldn't they just ask the Ohio State 
football team after a practice: Hey, guys, we are going to divide you 
in two categories. This category over here is not going to get massages 
after our strenuous practice sessions and this half is going to get the 
massages and we will see if the guys who get the massages feel better 
than the guys who didn't. I think they would have saved the taxpayers a 
considerable amount of money. I don't see why the National Institutes 
of Health can come to the conclusion that a grant request for massaging 
rabbits is a good use of taxpayer money.
  That is just 4 out of the 54 I have talked about. That is my walk 
down memory lane, but the total amount of the waste identified through 
these 54 examples adds up to more than $350 billion.
  We are down here arguing now about payments on a program, and we are 
talking about--well, we can't fund this, we can't fund that, that is an 
essential program, the Defense Department needs more money, the 
National Institutes of Health needs more money for cancer research, but 
we don't have any more money to give them.
  Why not take actions to stop this waste, fraud, and abuse or, better 
yet, why not, not ask the taxpayer for this money in the first place? 
Why should the taxpayer be sending money to Washington to see that the 
accomplishment is waste, fraud, or abuse?
  I am pleased to note we have actually had some success in addressing 
some of this wasteful spending highlighted in these speeches. Last 
year, the Congress approved legislation that will finally--finally--
phase out the so-called temporary tax credit for wind energy--a credit 
that was supposed to expire over 20 years ago. We were promised that 
this is a study to get it started and see if it works to get enough 
wind energy at a cost that the public could afford and see this as a 
way of providing alternative energy, but, boy, once something is on the 
books, it gets reauthorized and reauthorized over and over. And for 20 
years it is: Oh, we just need it 1 more year. We just need it one more 
time. On and on it goes.
  Finally--finally--we have seen action taken by the Congress to 
complete this phaseout program, which will essentially save taxpayers 
billions of dollars and reduce the government's involvement in picking 
winners and losers through tax policy.
  Congress also approved a measure I introduced to improve compliance 
in higher education tax benefits. By simply adding language to require 
proof of eligibility for certain tuition tax credits, we saved 
taxpayers over half a billion dollars in improper payments.
  Recent Defense authorization bills have included provisions to reform 
the defense contracting process, which will help cut down on billions 
of waste. Of course, more work is still needed in this area, as a 
recent report identified as much as $125 billion in wasteful spending 
at the Department of Defense. I am a strong proponent of a strong 
national defense, but when we find that well over $100 billion has been 
misspent, we are compromising our national security, and we are not 

[[Page S6982]]

our soldiers, sailors, marines, Coast Guard, and others all the 
resources they need to provide for our national security the way it 
needs to be provided for.
  Today I am here for my 55th and final ``Waste of the Week.'' I want 
to talk about relatively modest--it is amazing you can say this. Only 
here in this Chamber, only in Washington is $48 million called 
``modest'' because we talk in billions and trillions. Anyway, $48 
million in Medicaid funding for drugs to treat hair loss--not hair loss 
for therapeutic reasons, not hair loss as a result of cancer 
treatments, but for cosmetic purposes. Medicaid is paying out $48 
million to provide for measures that will help reduce hair loss.
  I want to stress that Medicaid is part of our Nation's safety net, to 
help those in need. That is all the more reason we have to ensure that 
Medicaid is run effectively and efficiently to have the financial 
resources to help low-income families gain access to medical care. This 
also means we have to protect Medicaid by ensuring that its finances 
are not used for medically unnecessary services.
  There are certain medical services that all State Medicaid plans are 
mandated to provide, and then there are a number of additional services 
that are optional for States to cover. One of these services includes 
drugs to treat cosmetic hair loss. This is not hair loss due to an 
underlying medical issue, as I mentioned; this is hair loss that just 
happens, often as we age. The treatments paid by Medicaid are for 
cosmetic purposes only.
  I think all of us would love to have a full head of hair, and I speak 
as one who falls in that category. As I look around the Senate Chamber, 
I see others who have joined me in watching the hair fall off their 
head and looking in the mirror and saying: How many hairs did I lose 
last night, and when is this going to end?
  Losing your hair is not always fun, but I promise you, as someone who 
has been through all of this--and you are not alone--soon enough you 
will simply accept the fact that while you won't make the finals in the 
50 Most Beautiful People in America, life will go on.
  According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Federal 
Government could save $48 million over 10 years by not paying for this 
cosmetic hair loss treatment. While this may seem like a small amount 
of money compared to our nearly $20 trillion national debt, it is yet 
another example of unnecessary use of hard-earned taxpayer dollars.
  Fortunately, the Senate recently passed legislation that included a 
provision to end the Federal reimbursement for cosmetic hair loss, and 
that bill, fortunately, is on the way to the President for signature 
into law. By bringing attention to some of these issues, we have been 
able to take legislative action to try to address and keep unnecessary 
spending off the charts.
  To conclude, while today marks the end of the ``Waste of the Week,'' 
I want to implore my colleagues in the House and Senate to keep going, 
to keep fighting to stop wasteful spending.
  I also want to acknowledge that my staff over the period of time, at 
different times, as they were working on this project, provided to me 
the examples, and they dug in and did their research so that I could 
come to the floor to make these points and hopefully, hopefully save 
the taxpayer hard-earned dollars that shouldn't have been sent to 
Washington in the first place but were not used wisely and efficiently 
when they came here. I particularly want to thank the following members 
of my staff: Paige Hanson, Ansley Rhyne, Aaron Smith, Amy Timmerman, 
Kristine Michalson, Matt Lahr, and Viraj Mirani.
  Our former Governor, my friend Mitch Daniels--former Governor of 
Indiana and the current president of Purdue University--famously said: 
``You'd be amazed at how much government you'll never miss.'' Indiana 
has set the example with significant cuts and reforms in spending to 
take our State from a deficit to a $2.4 billion surplus. There were 
significant cuts in many agencies through the growing of bureaucracy 
that took place, and we have yet to find what parts of government we 
  There are so many programs and so many ridiculous things that the 
government funds--like rabbit massages and cosmetic hair loss 
treatment--that most Americans don't even know about and have never 
heard of, and while I no longer will be here, I am hopeful that the 
next President and the next Congress will work in tandem to achieve 
these goals. They could use my 55 ``Waste of the Week'' examples as a 
starting point, and they can continue because we have just scratched 
the surface.
  Today, I would like to add $48 million to our total. And just in this 
cycle of the Senate alone, we have come up with a grand total of 
$351,635,239,536--money that can be used for a better purpose.
  With that, my final words addressed to my colleagues in this 
extraordinary experience I have been privileged to enjoy, I, for the 
last time, yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who seeks recognition?
  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, under the unanimous consent, Senator 
Sullivan was up. I notice the leader is on the floor, and I am sure he 
would yield to the leader for his leadership purposes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, let me give everyone the state of play. 
First, I will be offering a consent request to set the continuing 
resolution votes at 10 o'clock.
  Having said that, I ask unanimous consent that not withstanding the 
provisions of rule XXII, at 10 p.m., the Senate vote on the cloture 
motion with respect to the House message to accompany H.R. 2028. I 
further ask that if cloture is invoked, all time postcloture be 
considered expired and Senator McCain or his designee be recognized to 
offer a budget point of order, and that if the point of order is 
raised, the motion to waive be considered made and the Senate vote on 
the motion to waive without any intervening action or debate. I further 
ask that if the motion to waive is agreed to, the motion to concur with 
further amendment then be withdrawn and the Senate vote on the motion 
to concur in the House amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, let me explain before my colleague, the 
Democratic leader, addresses the matter. What this does is set up votes 
in connection with the CR at 10 p.m., but then I want everybody to 
understand that if we can't get an agreement to move the WRDA votes up 
to that series of votes, they will occur 3 hours later, at 1 a.m. 
Failure to consent to including WRDA will only delay the Senate until 1 
a.m. in the morning.
  Let me go over that again. At the moment, I understand there is an 
objection to adding the WRDA votes to the stack that we just agreed to. 
So without consent, we will be here another 3 hours or so, voting at 1 
a.m. Everybody should understand we are going to finish all of these 
votes tonight, and that is the schedule for the rest of the evening.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, we have now three hours until 10 o'clock. I 
hope that during that period of time, people will do whatever they need 
to do to make sure they get anything they want in, whatever they are 
trying to get.
  The reason I say that is that we are going to continue, as the leader 
has indicated, working on a way to get out of here tonight. If not, we 
will get out of here tomorrow. I hope that--if someone has something 
they want to talk to me about, I will be happy to carry that message to 
anyone, including the Republican leader, but I think right now we have 
3 hours to sit around, stand around, and talk about this and find out 
if there is anything more that can be done.
  I hope that at 10 o'clock, we will be in a position to let everybody 
know if we are going to have a vote before 1 o'clock in the morning 
because these votes will take at least an hour, the three votes that 
are scheduled, so that means 11 o'clock. By waiting around, you are 
delaying things by a couple of hours at a fairly late time at night. I 
think by now everyone has a pretty good idea of how they are going to 

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, my colleagues have been very gracious and

[[Page S6983]]

have gotten a little bit out of the queue, so I ask unanimous consent 
that I be allowed to address the body for 5 minutes; following me, 
Senator Sullivan will address the Senate for 10 minutes; and following 
him, Senator Coons will address the Senate for 5 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.


  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I rise to voice my opposition to the Water 
Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation Act. In my view, Senator 
Boxer and Senator Inhofe have done a lot of good, bipartisan work on 
this legislation. Infrastructure is hugely important to our country. I 
constantly say you cannot have a big-league quality of life with a 
little-league infrastructure, and this legislation in particular has 
some very important provisions that I and Senator Merkley have worked 
on for our home State. It includes assistance to help build homes for 
displaced Native American families, it provides funding to help restore 
fish and wildlife habitat in our rivers, and it particularly includes 
assistance for small ports in Oregon and across the country.
  The fact is that small ports provide crucial access to commercial and 
recreation fishing. They are home to ocean science and research 
vessels. In our part of the world, they are the gateway to the global 
  Year after year, these ports have faced uncertain funding that 
threatens good-paying jobs. I worked with other Members to make sure 
the WRDA bill includes stable, permanent funding--over $100 million 
annually--for small ports in Oregon and across the Nation.
  I highlight this to say what this legislation does for a number of 
crucial areas--to the economy and our quality of life. Senator Boxer 
and Senator Inhofe have done very good work, but my big concern is 
about the rider that was added on California drought, which threatens 
the west coast fishing industry and has put every single good provision 
in this legislation at risk.
  Water issues have never been easy, and I want to compliment my 
colleague from California for her hard and long work to get a deal on 
drought that addresses California's serious and ongoing issues. Oregon 
is no stranger to water challenges, but there has to be a 
collaborative, stakeholder-driven process, and this rider is not a 
product of the kind of compromise you get with a true collaborative 
effort. In effect, an entire west coast industry feels left out of the 
discussions. Fisheries and hard-working families in coastal communities 
that depend on a healthy stock of salmon stand to lose the most, and 
these stakeholders have told us they have had no meaningful seat at the 
  The rider is not just about water and agriculture in California; it 
threatens the health and sustainability of the salmon fishing industry 
up and down the Pacific coast. The drought provision, in my view, also 
threatens to undermine bedrock environmental laws, such as the 
Endangered Species Act, and it certainly would create the prospect of 
the new administration having power of its own volition to override 
critical environmental protections.
  I and my Pacific Northwest Senate colleagues have heard from 
concerned west coast fishery groups and coastal businesses for days. My 
constituents are concerned about the implication of pumping water out 
of the Bay Delta to support a small number--a handful--of very large 
agribusinesses in California. They believe that hard-working men and 
women in the fishing industry and coastal businesses are going to pick 
up the tab for this break for the large agribusinesses. That is not the 
way to manage water in the West for the long term.
  The water infrastructure bill, which is meant to provide support for 
water-dependent communities, doesn't do a whole lot of good if there 
are no fish in the ocean. If there are no fish in the ocean and no 
fishing families or fishing boats in the ports and no fish at the 
dinner table, the water infrastructure bill is going to be something 
that we regret. I believe we will regret it in this form.
  At a time when coastal communities need as much help as they can get, 
this provision threatens to do the opposite. As long as the Water 
Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act includes this California 
drought rider, I think it would be a mistake to go forward.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gardner). The Senator from Alaska is 

                         Remembering Mike Kelly

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, yesterday my State lost a great leader 
in a tragic plane crash. Mike Kelly was a former State legislator from 
Fairbanks. He was the patriarch of a wonderful interior Alaska family. 
He leaves behind a long and accomplished legacy of public service, 
leadership to his community, to the interior, and to our great State, 
which he loved so much. He also leaves behind a wonderful wife, 
siblings, and children who have also played and continue to play such 
an important role in Alaska. He will be sorely missed by all of us.
  Rest in peace, Mike.

  Supporting Alaska's Law Enforcement Community and Honoring Sergeant 
                              Allen Brandt

  Mr. President, the holidays are nearly upon us. It is the time when 
Christmas cheer descends on us, when hearts open and we reach out to 
our neighbors, friends, and even strangers, particularly those who are 
in need.
  Today I want to reach out to the police force in Alaska. These men 
and women put their lives on the line every day for us, and anyone who 
has seen the news in these past few months knows it has been a 
particularly difficult time for police officers all across the country, 
who have faced unprecedented levels of violence--deliberate attacks. 
Across our great Nation, our men and women who get up every morning 
with the mission to protect us are having their lives taken. As of 
December 5, there have been 134 fatalities against police officers this 
year alone. That is up by more than 20 percent from last year. Let's 
face it--they are being targeted. Some of them are even being ambushed.
  Just a few minutes ago, right here on the floor, the Presiding 
Officer gave some very eloquent remarks about what has happened in 
Colorado. These kinds of acts are happening all across the country--
Iowa, Massachusetts, Texas, California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, 
Georgia, and unfortunately more than once in recent weeks in my home 
State of Alaska.
  One brave Anchorage police officer, Arn Salao, was a victim of a 
cowardly ambush in Alaska, but thankfully he survived. The incident 
resulted in the arrest and the killing of an accused murderer who has 
now been accused of killing five others in Anchorage.
  Unfortunately, another officer involved in a shooting in Alaska--this 
time in Fairbanks--wasn't so fortunate. On the morning of October 16, 
Sergeant Allen Brandt, an 11-year veteran of the Fairbanks Police 
Department, responded to reports of shots being fired. After pulling 
his vehicle over to question a suspect, Sergeant Brandt was shot five 
times. After being treated for several days, Sergeant Brandt was 
expected to survive. He even came to testify in a remarkable act of 
courage in front of the Fairbanks City Council on October 21. His 
testimony was riveting, but in a devastating turn of events on October 
28, just a few days later, Alaskans learned that Sergeant Brandt had 
succumbed to the complications related to his injuries in recovery. The 
hopes of our entire State were crushed upon hearing that this brave, 
young public servant had passed away. Alaskans from every corner of our 
State held vigils and continue to mourn his loss.
  There was a memorial service in Fairbanks attended by thousands. I 
happened to attend that with my fellow Alaskans. It was one of the most 
moving services I have ever attended. At the memorial service, Sergeant 
Brandt's testimony from just a few days earlier in front of the 
Fairbanks City Council was played. There, he was speaking to all of us 
on these important issues. It was so powerful and so moving to see this 
young man so articulately speak about issues that don't just impact 
Fairbanks, AK, or Alaska, but the whole country.
  Sergeant Brandt left behind his wife Natasha and their four young 
children under the age of 8.
  I have talked about his testimony that he gave in Fairbanks that was 
played at his memorial service, which

[[Page S6984]]

was so powerful. Only a few days earlier, he had been shot. He gave his 
testimony, and then unfortunately he passed away. I wish to read 
several excerpts from his testimony because I think it reflects not 
only the importance of this issue, but it shows this young man speaking 
on something that impacts the whole country.
  Here is the testimony he gave at the Fairbanks City Council. There 
was thunderous applause, of course, when he walked in--a man who had 
been shot five times just a few days earlier. He stated:

       I am humbled by the honor, and I'm no exception to the 
     rule. We have many fine officers that are far greater and 
     have done better things than I have. I do appreciate the 
     community's support and I know sometimes it's hard for 
     officers to see whether or not the city supports us, but I've 
     always said that by-and-large, the city does support its 
     police officers. And you know we're never going to have the 
     support of the criminals . . . and to tell you the truth, 
     they don't have my support either. However, I do support 
     their constitutional rights and their free exercise of them.

  He continued:

       I've seen the hand of the Lord in my situation. Can you 
     believe I was shot five times through the legs and I walked 
     into this room. There's a bullet, it's almost healed up, but 
     right here over my heart where my vest certainly saved my 
     life there.
       I appreciate the support of the community, the Fairbanks 
     Police Department, the Anchorage Police Department, the 
     Alaska State Troopers, and other officers. But our officers 
     do a very hard job, and they need your support. 
     Unfortunately, when an officer gets shot or something bad 
     happens, it's just human nature--we don't think about things 
     that we need until something bad happens. I don't blame 
     anyone for that. But, you know, think about our officers. 
     I've worked for the city for 12 years, probably ten of those 
     years I worked weekends when my friends are off. I work at 
     night and sleep during the day. I don't sleep with my wife. 
     And the other officers, too. I was never called a racist 
     until I put the uniform on. You know, once you put a police 
     uniform on, you're a racist. I can't ever let my guard down, 
     not at Fred Myer and not at my house. I travel everywhere 
     armed. Always vigilant. Always watching. And the other 
     officers over there, they're the same way. So, we need your 
     support. Not just when bad things happen. But the officers 
     over there do a hard job. And most of the time it's 
     thankless. And we've really appreciated the outpouring of 
     support that's comes from this.

  He concluded his testimony. He called out to one of his buddies:

       I think Sergeant Barnett's here, and I want to thank him. 
     Sergeant Barnett was the first one on the scene, and until he 
     got that tourniquet on my leg, I didn't think I was going to 
     survive because I was bleeding a lot.

  But let me leave you with this last story that he told his fellow 
Fairbanksians: The night I was shot, I had my four kids and my wife on 
my bed. I read them a story like I always do. After the story, I told 
them, I think I am going to get shot tonight.
  Can you imagine saying that to your kids? He continued: And it 
happened. In the middle of the gun battle, that is all I could think 
  He concluded by saying this: Can you imagine telling your kids before 
you go to work that you are going to get shot? Well, that is what our 
police officers deal with every day. I am not complaining, but I just 
want you to know what it is like, the life of a police officer.
  Then he looked at the audience and said: But we appreciate your 
  That was his testimony. Only a few days later, he passed away. As I 
read that testimony again, I am struck by Sergeant Brandt's 
extraordinary selflessness. At the same time community members were 
applauding his bravery, Sergeant Brandt sought to remind us of the 
bravery of his brothers and sisters in blue, the unsung heroes who face 
the same dangers he did but without public fanfare or an outpouring of 
  Having met with first responders all over my great State, I know that 
Sergeant Brandt's extraordinary selflessness is not an outlier, and it 
is not an exception; it is a hallmark of our police force and the fire 
department. They wake up each morning knowing that today may be the 
last day they get their kids ready for school, the last day they kiss 
their spouse goodbye. Today they may be asked to lay down their life to 
save another. That is a heavy burden. It is a burden that is shared by 
the spouses and children who have seen too many sleepless nights, 
praying for the safety of their mom and dad.
  In conclusion, over the holidays we are all going to come together 
with family and friends to celebrate the holidays. We are going to 
remember our troops overseas. But let's keep in mind the sacrifices 
being made by our brave officers, as well as their families, who will 
be on the beat during the holidays just like our members of the 
military, protecting us.
  On behalf of my fellow Alaskans, I want to express my profound 
gratitude and thanks to our proud law enforcement community for all 
they do to keep our communities safe.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about the continuing 
resolution that is the business before the Senate. We are here once 
again today, as we have too often been in the 6 years that I have 
served here in the Senate, working at the last minute to avoid shutting 
down our Federal Government later tonight.
  As we have before, to avoid a shutdown we appear likely to pass yet 
another continuing resolution. As an appropriator, as someone who is on 
the committee that is responsible for putting together all the 
provisions that will help keep this government moving forward, it is a 
real disappointment to me that this continuing resolution fails to 
address issues of real concern to folks all over this country.
  Earlier this evening, I joined a number of my colleagues to draw 
attention to coal miners and their widows and the concerns we have 
about extending their health care through the adoption of the Miners 
Protection Act. Although that is an issue that dozens of Senators are 
concerned about, I wanted to speak tonight about another unacceptable 
omission in this legislation.
  This continuing resolution does not include a lesser known but, to 
me, no less important provision, one that my senior Senator Tom Carper 
and I have fought tirelessly for and one that is important to a 
manufacturing company in my home State of Delaware and dozens of 
companies in dozens of States. Last year, when Congress passed at the 
end of the year the omnibus spending package, we left on the cutting 
room floor, through an inadvertent staff error, provisions to extend a 
series of clean energy tax incentives known as the 48C investment tax 
credit, or ITC--not all of them, just for a few narrow and defined 
areas and, in a case that I care most about, for fuel cells. Those 
incentives have bipartisan support and have already proved successful 
at creating new technologies and good manufacturing jobs in this 
  We have heard a lot of talk in the last campaign about bearing in and 
fighting hard to save manufacturing jobs here in the United States. 
Well, extending the ITC is exactly the chance we had here today--we 
have had in the past year--to do just that. There are tens of thousands 
of jobs and hundreds, likely thousands, of companies across our country 
that rely on this ITC. In my home State, Bloom Energy, a company that 
manufactures in a number of States, has a significant presence. Built 
on the site of a former Chrysler plant, it was taken down when Chrysler 
closed its facility.
  Bloom Energy offers real promise for the hundreds of Delawareans who 
work there in a cutting-edge clean energy business that was growing. 
But without the benefit of that section 48 investment tax credit, they 
are not growing. They may even have to lay people off. In my home State 
and in States all over this country, that is a concern I wish we had 
worked together to address.
  These are incentives that have been proven to bring good jobs to the 
United States. If we don't extend section 48, as I think is very 
unlikely to happen tonight, tens of thousands of jobs across our 
country and dozens, at least in my home State, are at risk.
  All over the country, we have heard in writing from hundreds of 
companies in 48 different states that support this extension. These 
companies want to invest in the research and development, the scaling 
up of new clean energy technology. They require long-term certainty and 
stability. But the extension of those credits has been pushed into next 
year sometime, after a year in which it was promised over and over this 
would get addressed.
  The fault here lies predominately in the other Chamber, in the House, 
which did not respond to requests from

[[Page S6985]]

the leadership of this Chamber for this to be addressed. Republicans in 
the House are trying to push this issue, this extension, into a tax 
reform package planned for next year. But tax reform has been on the 
agenda here for year after year after year, and these credits expire 
this year, December 31.
  With countless jobs at stake across the country, punting this to next 
year after a year in which it failed to be brought up and addressed has 
real world implications in my State and States across the country. So, 
after mistakenly, admittedly by error, dropping this extension a year 
ago, leaders promised that this issue would be addressed. A year later, 
it has not been. So on the stack of reasons why I will cast an 
unprecedented no vote on the CR tonight, this is just one more reason--
a failure to fulfill a longstanding promise that these tax credits 
would be extended.
  Companies can't invest and grow if they can't have a predictable path 
forward for investment and know about what is the possibility for their 
incremental investment in R&D and manufacturing. Real American 
businesses today, like Bloom Energy in my State and hundreds of others, 
need this reliability. There is no reason this could not have gotten 
done. There is no reason promises made could not have been kept. There 
is no reason this could not have been resolved.
  So with real disappointment and regret, I am going to vote no for the 
first time on a continuing resolution that puts at risk keeping this 
government open because of a whole series of missed opportunities in 
this year's bill. It is my hope, it is my prayer, that next year, with 
a new Congress and with a new President, we will renew an attempt to 
find a bipartisan consensus around what it is we have to do to be 
competitive as a country, to sustain an all-of-the-above energy 
strategy, and to work together to find solutions that will grow 
manufacturing in our country.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.

                             Coal Industry

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, a number of my colleagues were down on 
the floor a little bit ago, talking passionately about the challenges 
our coal miners in the United States face. I want to mention Senator 
Manchin from West Virginia, in particular, who is someone who speaks 
with a lot of passion on this issue as was mentioned--so much so that I 
cosponsored the bill that he has been advocating, largely on the basis 
of his strong advocacy and, to be perfectly honest, the great respect I 
have for Senator Manchin.
  I do find it a bit ironic that what we have not heard from any of my 
colleagues on the other side of the aisle, when talking about coal 
miners' challenges, is that we have just had an 8-year war against the 
coal industry and coal miners, waged by the President of the United 
States Barack Obama, and all of his Federal agencies--8 years--
unprecedented, illegal from my perspective.
  Where is the outrage? There have been a number of us who have been 
trying to fight this war against coal miners for the last 8 years. 
Where is the outrage about that? The war on coal is what has hurt many 
of these miners. I am confident and hopeful that the incoming Trump 
administration will help those miners with real jobs, not continue to 
purposefully put them out of work as the Obama administration has done.
  So when we talk about coal miners, taking care of them, we also need 
to talk about who has been waging that war and who has been fighting 
against it. That is what we really need to do to protect coal miners.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Mr. FRANKEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 10 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. FRANKEN. Mr. President, first I wish to associate myself with 
Members who came to the floor this evening to talk about the CR. I will 
be voting against it. This isn't about shutting the government down. 
This is about the House putting forward a bill really without 
consultation with Senate Democrats--there was some, but at first there 
was none--and then leaving town. I feel that we could easily do a very 
short-term CR to hash out a few of these matters--the health care for 
miners and their widows being foremost in my mind. That easily could 
have been done. It is not as if we worked in this body too many days 
this year, and I think we could have worked next week to iron this out, 
to hash this out. I will be voting no because if we really care about 
the working people in this country, we really ought to be protecting 
their pensions and their health care.

                   Remembering Captain Luis Montalvan

  Mr. President, I rise today to honor a very special man and friend of 
mine, CPT Luis Montalvan, one of my personal heroes.
  On Monday I received the news that Luis had died last Friday. This 
has been a difficult week, and I am grieving Luis's death. Luis 
deserves to be honored because he dedicated his life to helping other 
veterans cope with the same struggles he faced after returning from 
war. I hope to do him justice because his story deserves to be told.
  I met Luis in January of 2009 at an IAVA event--Iraq and Afghanistan 
Veterans of America. Luis was there with Tuesday, his service dog. I 
love dogs, and so I immediately went to Luis and to Tuesday. He told me 
that he could not have been there if it weren't for Tuesday. I asked 
him what Tuesday did for him. He told me he had severe PTSD, and he had 
been an agoraphobic, which is why he couldn't have been there without 
Tuesday. I asked him what Tuesday did for him. He said Tuesday could 
anticipate when he was going to have a panic attack by the smell of his 
perspiration or changes in his breathing pattern and that Tuesday would 
nuzzle him, and he wouldn't have the panic attack.
  Luis talked about how he had debilitating nightmares. If he started 
thrashing in his bed, Tuesday would jump on the bed, wake him up, and 
he wouldn't have to endure a debilitating nightmare.
  He said he was agoraphobic, so he didn't go out. He got Tuesday as a 
service dog. He had been drinking very heavily, alcoholically, and he 
was offered this opportunity--this chance to have a service dog, to be 
paired with this service dog. He was trained with Tuesday. Tuesday had 
been trained a couple of years beforehand, including by a prisoner who 
had been serving a sentence for second-degree murder and had been a big 
part of Tuesday's training. That man was released from prison and now 
trains dogs for a living. He has a business doing it.
  He brought Tuesday back to his apartment in Brooklyn, a small 
apartment that he couldn't leave. He said he learned something about 
having a dog. You have to take a dog out at least twice a day. He 
learned something else, which is that people don't go up to scruffy-
looking wounded vets--he walked with a cane because of part of his 
wounds in Iraq--but they will go up to a scruffy-looking wounded vet 
with a beautiful dog. Having Tuesday broke his isolation. He got out of 
his apartment, into life, and starting attending Columbia University 
School of Journalism.
  I was so inspired by meeting Luis and Tuesday that, while I was 
waiting for my election to the Senate to be resolved in 2009, which 
took about 6 more months--I met him in January of 2009--I spent a lot 
of that time during my recount and then the legal actions after that 
researching service dogs and the benefits they bring to their owners.
  When I got to the Senate, the first piece of legislation I introduced 
was quickly passed into law. Johnny Isakson of Georgia was my lead 
cosponsor. The bill was designed to increase the number of service dogs 
for veterans. Luis inspired that.
  In 2011, after graduating from journalism school, Luis turned his 
story into a book entitled: ``Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the 
Dog Who Saved Him,'' which chronicled his journey after returning from 
Iraq. It was a very candid and deeply moving account of his struggle. I 
have always admired the bravery it took for Luis to share his story. In 
the year since the book came out, he had been traveling around the 
country, sharing his story with lots of people, giving speeches and 
interviews about his experience. He even had the chance to appear on 
the David

[[Page S6986]]

Letterman Show with Tuesday. It was something I know Luis really 
  Luis wrote two children's books about Tuesday. His book ``Tuesday 
Takes Me There: The Healing Journey of a Veteran and his Service Dog'' 
is one of my grandson Joe's favorite books. Luis wrote these children's 
books so kids could learn about how Tuesday changed his life and helped 
him by helping him through his daily activities.
  This year had been a difficult year for Luis. Despite Tuesday's 
steadying presence, Luis was still feeling pain in his leg when he 
walked. Sometimes that made it difficult to get around. To ease the 
pain, he had his leg amputated a few months ago, and he was in an 
intensive therapy program to relearn to walk with a prosthetic.
  He had other physical difficulties though. I talked to Luis's parents 
this week to call them and tell them how sorry I was for their profound 
loss, and they told me that among other health difficulties, he was 
suffering from very severe heart problems. So he was going through a 
difficult period.
  I wish to celebrate the legacy he leaves behind, his legacy of 
helping veterans cope with life after combat. Because of Luis, more 
veterans are now able to access service dogs.
  Let me tell you something about these amazing dogs. Obviously, a 
service dog can't do everything, but they do a lot to help. Service 
dogs raise their master's sense of well-being. They help reduce 
depression. They ward off panic attacks--as they did with Luis. They 
assist when their owner needs help standing back up after falling. They 
do so many things--and not just for veterans. They do it for diabetics. 
They can smell when the blood sugar is too low. They can be companions 
for autistic kids. The parents had told me that they could take their 
child to the mall now because they won't act out because they are 
taking care of their service dog while their service dog is taking care 
of them.
  For veterans living with service-related injuries, these dogs can 
make a tremendous difference between veterans having a very good life--
a decent life--and a very difficult one. My bill was a step in the 
direction to make sure that all veterans who need a service dog are 
able to get one.
  Still, we must realize that so many of our veterans still struggle 
mightily, sometimes years and decades after they come home. The hard 
truth is that in many ways we are family--our vets.
  The VA estimates that upwards of 20 percent of veterans of Operation 
Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan suffer from 
PTSD. Twelve percent of gulf veterans and 30 percent of Vietnam 
veterans have suffered PTSDs during their lifetime.
  These statistics should serve as a sobering reminder of the pain that 
so many veterans live with. It should remind us that unless you 
yourself have seen combat--which I have not--there is really no way to 
ever fully understand what they have gone through. I know I certainly 
don't, but I do know that these men and women put themselves in harm's 
way in service to our country, and it is our obligation to do 
everything we can to help them when they come back.
  As Members of Congress, it is our responsibility--more than anyone 
else's in this country--to do right by them. I certainly do not have 
all of the answers, but I do know we can do better.
  Luis was my friend. He was a good man who loved his country and 
wanted nothing more than to help ease the pain that so many of his 
fellow veterans experienced. I don't have the words to describe the 
sadness I feel knowing Luis is gone.

  There is a lot to learn from Luis's book about what these men and 
women endure when they come back from war, but learning about the 
relationship between Luis and Tuesday is really one of my favorite 
  Here is one of my favorite passages. And remember that one of the 
things Tuesday could do for Luis is anticipate panic attacks. Here is 
the quote, and this is from his book.

       Tuesday quietly crossed our apartment as I read a book and, 
     after a nudge against my arm, put his head on my lap. As 
     always, I immediately checked my mental state, trying to 
     assess what was wrong. I knew a change in my biorhythms had 
     brought Tuesday over, because he was always monitoring me, 
     but I couldn't figure out what it was. Breathing? Okay. 
     Pulse? Normal. Was I glazed or distracted? Was I lost in 
     Iraq? Was a dark period descending? I didn't think so, but I 
     knew something must be wrong, and I was starting to worry . . 
     . until I looked into Tuesday's eyes. They were staring at me 
     softly from under those big eyebrows, and there was nothing 
     in them but love.

  Luis, I want you to know that while you are not with us anymore, I am 
so proud of you. I am so proud that you were brave enough to serve your 
country for 17 years, and then brave enough to share the story of the 
hardship you faced afterward. I am so proud of you for giving hope to 
other veterans who faced the same struggles you did. Your book sits on 
my Senate desk still and always will. It will stay there as a reminder 
of the man I am proud to have called my friend.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.

                 Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Bill

  Mr. DAINES. Mr. President, today the Senate can make history in 
Montana. The Senate has the opportunity to send the Blackfeet Water 
Rights Settlement Act to the President for his signature with the 
passage of this WRDA bill, an issue I have been working on since I 
first came to Congress.
  Modern efforts to settle the Blackfeet tribe's water rights date back 
to 1979. After long negotiations and after being introduced four times 
in the Congress since 2010, this year, the compact passed the Senate 
for the very first time, and with the passage of this bill, it will 
finally become law. The Blackfeet Tribe has waited long enough. It is 
time to get this compact across the finish line, and we are very, very 
  This compact will not only establish the tribe's water rights but 
irrigation for neighboring farmlands. We call that area Montana's 
Golden Triangle. It is some of the most productive farmland in our 
State. In fact, it is where my great-great-grandmother homesteaded.
  Today is a historic day for the Blackfeet Tribe, for Montana farmers, 
and for Montana families. The Blackfeet water compact will update 
decades-old infrastructure, and it will strengthen irrigation for 
agriculture, while also protecting habitat.
  I want to commend the Blackfeet Tribe and its chairman, Harry Barnes, 
who have been diligent and patient in seeing this settlement forward. I 
commend our State for its commitment to the Blackfeet Tribe and Indian 
Country in Montana. I urge the support of my colleagues in passage of 
this WRDA bill.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, today the Senate will vote to put the 
government on autopilot for the next 4 and a half months. Coupled with 
the continuing resolution we are currently under, that is 7 months of 
fiscal year 2017 priorities funded--or not--under the terms of the 
fiscal year 2016 omnibus bill. Freezing in place an earlier year's 
priorities--ignoring the many hearings and the committee work and the 
debates and the oversight that the Appropriations Committees have 
invested in genuine, full-year funding bills for next year--by 
definition means this stop-gap bill is chock-full of great mismatches 
between our current priorities and those set long ago for an earlier 
fiscal year. By definition it means wasted diversion of funds to past 
priorities and giving short shrift to changing circumstances, needs and 
  What does that mean to Vermonters? It means cuts to food assistance 
needs. It means halted homeland security preparedness grants. It means 
uncertainty for affordable housing developers and transportation 
planners. It means we here in Congress didn't get our job done.
  What makes the vote on this continuing resolution all the more 
frustrating is the fact that we didn't need to be in this predicament 
today. The Senate Appropriations Committee carefully considered 12 
individual appropriations bills. All but one were reported with broad 
if not unanimous support. Through September, October, and into 
November, we negotiated in good faith and in a productive way with our 
counterparts in the House of Representatives. That is until the order 
came to stand down. The word was that the President-elect didn't want 
us to pass a responsible, full-year budget. The word was that he wanted 
Congress once again to kick the can

[[Page S6987]]

further down the road. Then Democrats in both the Senate and House were 
shut out of the process--no consultation and no negotiations.
  In the absence of what could have been an achievable omnibus 
appropriations bill, this continuing resolution does fulfill a few key 
priorities. It avoids a government shutdown, just before the holiday 
season. It provides the millions of dollars authorized earlier this 
week in the 21st Century Cures Act to fight opioid abuse and cancer. It 
rejects the National Defense Authorization Act's proposal to increase 
base defense spending through an increase in overseas contingency 
operations funds. It provides billions of dollars in emergency disaster 
assistance for recent natural disasters. It supports additional funds 
to care for unaccompanied children from Central America and Mexico. And 
at long last, it provides overdue funds--fully offset through the Water 
Resources Development Act authorization--to address the shameful lead 
contamination crisis in Flint, MI. The people of Flint have waited far 
too long, while Congress has dragged its feet, to finally have access 
to the needed resources for the children and families suffering there.
  These are, surely, all reasons to support this continuing resolution. 
But, as with most things, there is another side to this story.
  The continuing resolution extends, without desperately needed 
reforms, the EB-5 immigrant visa program. I opposed the current 
continuing resolution for this same extension. As I have said numerous 
times, the EB-5 program has become mired in fraud and abuse. Almost 
everyone agrees it is broken. It is time we fix it. If EB-5 cannot be 
reformed due to a paralysis of leadership, the time has come for it to 
end, not be extended, without debate, in a continuing resolution.
  This continuing resolution--again, negotiated behind closed doors by 
Senate and House Republicans--does nothing to resolve the questions 
about how to sustain health care for miners and miners' widows. The 
Senate Finance Committee approved legislation in September to address 
this crisis in a bipartisan vote of 18 to 8. The Republican leadership 
has chosen--chosen--to not bring that legislation forward. Instead, now 
mine workers will be forced to spend the last dollars in their 
multiemployer health plan to cover this 4-month extension. What 
promises do we have that there will be a real commitment to provide for 
these men and women come next May? None. These mineworkers cannot 
afford thousands of dollars in monthly health care bills on the small 
pension payments they receive.
  Further, the continuing resolution includes a troubling, precedent-
setting provision to expedite consideration of waiver legislation for 
the President-elect's announced nominee to serve as Secretary of 
Defense. The Framers of the Constitution provided that the Senate 
should provide advice and consent in the appointment of such Cabinet 
nominees. Congress subsequently sought to implement limitations on who 
could serve as Secretary of Defense, thereby ensuring that America's 
military would remain under civilian control. Circumventing these 
limitations requires an act of Congress. It has been done just once 
before and not with any deal of levity. This continuing resolution, 
however, seeks to truncate the Senate's debate over granting, for only 
the second time in history, such a waiver. My opposition to the 
inclusion of this language stands apart from the nominee himself, as 
well as the legislation granting such a waiver, each of which should be 
debated fully. I oppose limiting the Senate's debate over the granting 
of such a waiver. That is what this language does. The Senate is the 
most deliberative body in the world. With this provision, we cede that 
designation, at least a bit, and pave the way for further erosions.
  Nonetheless, we face what is ironically both a complicated and 
straightforward decision: allow for a government shutdown, 2 weeks 
before the winter holidays, or approve this continuing resolution that 
casts aside Congress's responsibility to enact meaningful 
appropriations bills for the fiscal year. As the incoming vice chairman 
of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I don't take this decision 
lightly. I want the record to be clear. To Senate Republican leaders 
and Republican leaders in the House; to the President-elect and the 
Vice President-elect: Democrats will not rubberstamp a partisan agenda 
in the 115th Congress. We will not tolerate being shut out of 
negotiations about how our taxpayers' dollars are spent. And we will 
not allow Congress to continue to buck its constitutional duties to 
quite simply do its job.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I had hoped to offer two amendments to the 
continuing resolution, CR, we are considering to fund government 
operations through April 28, 2017. I want to say from the outset that I 
am disappointed the Republican majority has decided to consider another 
CR rather than pass full appropriations bills.
  This is an abdication of our responsibility to govern, and there are 
real negative effects for the American people. As vice chairman of the 
Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I can tell you that 4 more months 
of a CR poses significant funding issues for the Department of Defense, 
  Given the thousands of funding lines that make up the DOD budget and 
the changing needs from one fiscal year to the next, it does not work 
to simply continue spending from year to year. For example, rolling the 
fiscal year 2016 DOD budget into fiscal year 2017 means that 
procurement accounts are overfunded by $6 billion, while operations and 
maintenance accounts--those primarily concerned with maintaining 
military readiness--are underfunded by $12 billion. This is not the 
support our men and women in uniform deserve.
  To mitigate the worst of these effects, the bill before us contains a 
very small number of changes to particular funding needs, so-called 
anomalies. The two amendments I filed today suggest two more such 
changes, to ensure that important DOD medical research efforts and 
significant increases in spending for Israeli missile defense programs 
move forward.
  Just this summer, during the consideration of the fiscal year 2017 
National Defense Authorization Act, the Senate voted in a strong, 
bipartisan fashion to maintain a comprehensive DOD medical research 
program. We debated at great length the important contributions DOD 
medical research continues to make for our Active Duty personnel and 
their families, as well as our military retirees, veterans, and the 
American public.
  Under a CR, because the bulk of DOD research dollars--over $1 
billion--are added by Congress, much of this work will stop cold. No 
new projects will be funded, with impacts on fiscal year 2016 research 
projects as well. Passing this amendment will ensure that this critical 
work and medical advances for our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and 
marines are not delayed by allowing $1.8 billion contained in the 
fiscal year 2017 Defense Appropriations bill to be spent.
  At the same time, over the last decade, Congress has overwhelmingly 
supported significant increases for Israeli missile defense programs, 
including Iron Dome, David's Sling, and Arrow. The fiscal year 2017 
Defense Appropriations bill includes a $113 million increase for these 
programs--totaling $600.7 million--and this spending is necessary to 
get new technologies into the field in a timely manner.
  I think we can all agree that 7-month CRs are not the way we should 
be funding our government. While we should be considering all of our 
appropriations bills, passing both of these amendments would enable 
important programs to maximize their impacts in fiscal year 2017.
  Mr. PETERS. Mr. President, today I wish to speak, once again, about 
how critically important it is to pass legislation that will finally 
help the people of Flint repair their devastated drinking water system. 
We have before us a water resources bill that was identified a long 
time ago as the vehicle to assist Flint during their still-ongoing 
water crisis. We have been working for months and months on this. We 
have had strong commitments from leaders in both parties and on both 
sides of the Hill.
  The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, formerly 
known as the WRDA bill, includes funding authorizations for communities 
that have had a drinking water emergency, as well as language 
authorizing increases in health funding and

[[Page S6988]]

lead exposure prevention. But the actual appropriations funding for 
these provisions are contained in the Continuing Resolution.
  The bottom line is this: For Flint and any other future communities 
with drinking water emergencies to receive money, this body must pass 
both the water resources bill and the continuing resolution. This may 
be the last, best chance to secure the long-overdue assistance that the 
people of Flint deserve.
  The families in Flint have suffered through unspeakable hardships 
over the last couple years. To this day, many are still using bottled 
water to drink, cook, wash their dishes, and even take sponge baths. 
After Thanksgiving, it broke my heart to see the famous ``Little Miss 
Flint'' post on social media about how it took 144 bottles of water to 
prepare Thanksgiving dinner.
  Can you imagine having to open 144 bottles of water simply just to 
cook your Thanksgiving meal? These same people have heard promise after 
promise that they will get the help that they need to put new pipes in 
the ground. Some of that work has started, and the water quality is 
slowly starting to improve. Still, the fact remains that Flint 
residents still cannot access clean drinking water directly from their 
  We shouldn't forget that the Flint provisions in the water resources 
and the CR also contains language to set up nationally significant 
programs and policies to help prevent and respond to any future 
emergencies that are similar to the Flint water crisis. The bills 
include money for a lead monitoring registry and an associated expert 
advisory committee, as well as for a childhood lead prevention and a 
better public notification process.
  The water resources legislation also has nationally significant, 
bipartisan provisions to restore some of our Nation's great bodies of 
water, such as the Great Lakes, Everglades, Lake Tahoe, the Delaware 
River Basin, and more. Not to mention this bill contains critical 
projects for reducing the risk of flood damage, as well as maintaining 
our navigational waterways and harbors. But I must recognize that this 
bill is flawed and imperfect. I was very disappointed to see last-
minute changes to provisions that threatened the bill's strong, 
bipartisan support.
  The WRDA bill passed the Senate by a vote of 95-3 just a few months 
ago, but these new changes to the text threaten to dismantle that 
support. We must make tough decisions in Congress, and the vote on this 
compromise bill will certainly be a hard choice for several of my 
colleagues. But I would ask you think hard about the balance of this 
bill and measure all the benefits of the many positive provisions. And 
I would ask you to think about our responsibility to care for 
communities in crisis.
  We will soon have a chance to deliver on a long-standing promise for 
some unbelievably resilient and strong people. I urge you to follow 
through on that promise by voting in support of the water resources 
bill and continuing resolution. Thank you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.

                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 290

  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, I wish to call to the attention of my 
colleagues S. 290. S. 290 is a piece of legislation passed unanimously 
by the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. It is a bipartisan bill 
that was crafted by the ranking member, the Senator from Connecticut, 
Mr. Blumenthal, and me, and it deals with accountability at the 
Department of Veterans Affairs.
  This legislation has a number of components, but the one I wish to 
focus on this evening is one that has a consequence to those in senior 
executive positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs who commit 
felonies in the scope of their employment at the Department of Veterans 
Affairs. This legislation, S. 290, would eliminate their pension if 
convicted of a felony in a court of law and only that portion of their 
pension that was accrued after the conduct that resulted in the felony 
  That is the circumstance that was approved by the Veterans' Affairs 
Committee a year ago this month. That bill has yet to come to the 
Senate floor. During that time in which we have been waiting for 
consideration of this legislation, certain terribly unfortunate events 
occurred at the VA hospital at Leavenworth, KS.
  I have been on the Senate floor speaking to this issue previously, 
but the basic facts are that a physician's assistant committed sexual 
acts with his patients--veterans who came to the VA hospital at 
Leavenworth, KS, for care and treatment, and we learned of this 
reprehensible conduct from newspaper reports in 2015.
  That conduct has affected many veterans in Kansas and in Missouri who 
sought the care and treatment of a physician's assistant and who relied 
upon the VA to provide that care for them. In fact, Mr. Wisner was 
never discharged from the VA; he resigned a month after the conduct was 
reported to the inspector general. Veterans have now sued Mr. Wisner in 
court, and at least a dozen veterans are seeking redress, and criminal 
proceedings are pending in the District Court of Leavenworth County, 
KS, against Mr. Wisner.
  One of the things the veterans who have called our office to talk 
about this circumstance--and we believe there are many other veterans 
who have suffered the consequence of this sexual abuse by a VA employee 
who is a health care provider--one of the consequences has been phone 
calls to our office asking for our help. One of the common 
conversations is: It is so difficult for me to get my pension, my 
benefits from the VA. Why would Mr. Wisner, if convicted of these 
crimes, receive his?
  So I have authored an amendment to S. 290 that would add an 
additional category of Department of Veterans Affairs employees who 
also would suffer the loss of their pension should they be convicted in 
a court of law for conduct they committed in caring for patients at the 
VA, and that reduction in pension would occur from the point of time of 
the conduct that resulted in the felony conviction of that VA employee.
  What we are talking about is adding positions such as physicians, 
dentists, podiatrist, chiropractors, optometrists, registered nurses, 
and physicians assistants to the language; the theory being if it is 
appropriate to remove the pension benefits of a member of the upper 
echelon--the executive team at the VA for conviction of felony 
conduct--why would it not be appropriate to also add those who can do 
even more damage to a veteran by felony conduct against them while 
seeking care and comfort and treatment from the VA?
  So what we now present to the Senate--in fact, we have asked for 
unanimous consent on two previous occasions for this to be considered. 
We have hotlined this legislation. It has cleared the Republican side 
twice but has yet to clear the Democratic side of the Senate. So the 
request soon will be that S. 290, as amended by a Moran amendment, the 
language of which was negotiated between me and the ranking member, 
Senator Blumenthal of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, be added to the 
original S. 290, the bill that Senator Blumenthal and I created to 
create accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on 
Veterans' Affairs be discharged from further consideration of S. 290 
and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration; I further ask 
that the Moran substitute amendment be agreed to; the bill, as amended, 
be considered read a third time and passed, and the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Democratic leader.
  Mr. REID. Reserving the right to object, we have to be back here in 2 
hours anyway. I would ask my friend if he would be willing to come to 
the floor at about 10 minutes to 10 again to renew his request. I have 
a few calls I need to make to make sure the matter about which this 
side has raised a concern is valid.
  So if Senator Moran would be willing to come back in a couple of 
hours, we can take a look at it.
  Mr. MORAN. I appreciate the remarks of the distinguished leader, and 
I am happy to accommodate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection to the request?
  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, based upon the conversation and dialogue 
that occurred with the Senator from Nevada, I withdraw my unanimous 
consent request. I will renew my request

[[Page S6989]]

later and look forward to the majority leader being present at that 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cruz). The request is withdrawn.
  The Senator from Colorado.

                          United States Energy

  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, over the past several years, we have 
heard from our allies around the globe about the need for U.S. energy. 
The fact that the United States can produce abundant and affordable 
energy is the envy of the world, and allies from Eastern Europe to Asia 
look at the United States as a place where they can achieve and get 
that abundant, affordable energy supply they need to help grow their 
economy so our allies aren't dependent on countries in the Middle East 
that aren't necessarily friendly to them for their energy supply and 
energy sources.
  When it comes to energy production, we know across this country the 
shale revolution has created hundreds of thousands of jobs. In my home 
State of Colorado alone, it has created over 100,000 jobs. It is an 
incredible opportunity that we have to gain North American energy 
independence and security.
  We also know we have an overabundance of natural gas supplies right 
now. At the very same time that our allies are asking for American 
energy supplies, we have an abundance of American energy. Especially in 
the Rockies, we have the potential for an asset to become stranded--an 
asset that we can produce a lot of but lack the markets to send it to.
  As energy developments have occurred in the Northeastern part of the 
United States, we have seen that Northeastern States are now able to 
get their energy resources, natural gas, and others, from right in 
their backyard instead of relying on the Western United States. Those 
of us in the West have urged the construction of LNG terminals in the 
gulf along the west coast so we can export that natural gas through LNG 
terminals to our allies who desperately need it.
  That not only gives our allies the energy they desire, but it also 
makes sure we can continue producing energy in Colorado and the West 
and not result in a stranded product that can no longer go east but has 
an outlet to the west. Because of this demand by our allies and because 
of the incredible success we have had producing that energy, the Jordan 
Cove LNG terminal has been proposed for construction in Oregon. Jordan 
Cove would provide an outlet for Colorado and other States' energy 
productions to have an outlet to Asia.
  I am chairman of the East Asia Subcommittee on Foreign Relations. 
When I visited across and throughout the region, one of the key 
conversations I have had with leaders, government leaders, and business 
leaders in those nations is the conversation surrounding energy, and 
they talk about what we can do to expedite and to increase energy 
exports from the United States.
  This Senate has made great progress, this Congress has made great 
progress when it comes to exporting energy. In fact, earlier this year, 
we allowed for the export of crude oil for the first time since Jimmy 
Carter made it impossible decades ago. We also know we continued to 
work on LNG Exports expediting the permanent approval process for LNG 
terminals. Legislation that was included in the Energy bill would have 
allowed those approvals, required those permits to be approved in an 
expedited fashion. Unfortunately, the Energy bill did not get approved. 
It does not look like it is going to move at the end of this Congress, 
but I certainly hope it will next year, and I certainly hope we will 
get language expediting LNG terminals.
  One of the most clear outrages, though, of this administration's 
policies over the last year--8 years has been its outright hostility to 
energy development. Unfortunately, many of our commissions and agencies 
in our government continue to reflect that hostility toward the 
development of our energy resources.
  Let's just take a decision that was announced mere hours ago as it 
relates to Jordan Cove. Once again, FERC denied the application of 
Jordan Cove to exports, shutting down their pipeline, preventing them 
from getting the resources they need to open the facility to be able to 
export to our allies in Asia.
  They claim that Jordan Cove has not demonstrated a market. They don't 
have enough of a market proven to approve the pipeline necessary to 
feed the terminal to export to LNG. Jordan Cove has substantial 
customer base in Asia. They have proven it to FERC. This is nothing but 
the continuation of a denial in March that FERC made to shut down 
exports of LNG, to shut down our ability to get energy out of the 
Rockies and send it to our allies in the West.
  Over the next several years, luckily we will be asked to confirm a 
number of nominees from commissions and agencies across the government, 
including FERC. It is my hope this body, as it looks to these 
nominations and approvals, will start asking some very difficult 
questions to those people who are going to be filling these commissions 
about whether we are serious about energy production in the United 
States and whether we are serious about allowing States such as 
Colorado the ability to produce energy and then to export it to our 
allies around the globe.
  If people--like FERC right now--have their way, their answer is, no, 
shut it down, keep it in the ground. That is extreme and an activist 
point of view, and it is an outrage. It is denying the people of 
Colorado economic opportunity. It is denying the people in the West 
economic opportunity, and it is letting the government decide what is 
right and wrong in the marketplace.
  FERC, this government shouldn't be in the business of picking winners 
and losers. Yet that is what it continues to do. Jordan Cove has 
tremendous bipartisan support. Republicans and Democrats alike believe 
that facility is important to Japan, that facility is important to 
opportunities in Korea, that facility is important to our allies 
throughout Asia, throughout the West, and it is my hope that as this 
process moves forward, we can get a deep expression and understanding 
from FERC about why they continue to deny these jobs, deny these 
  The demand is there. The need is there. The economics are there, and 
we certainly need the jobs there in Colorado with the approval of this 
pipeline and that facility at Jordan Cove.
  I thank you for the time this evening, and I certainly hope we can at 
least make some progress over the next few years with people in 
agencies and people in commissions who believe in the American economy 
instead of the American bureaucracy.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.

                 Accomplishments Of The 114th Congress

  Mr. HELLER. Mr. President, as we approach the end of this Congress, I 
rise to discuss not only what we have accomplished in this Chamber but 
also specifically what we have accomplished for the State of Nevada. I 
am especially proud that many of my priorities have been able to move 
forward to help Nevadans thrive--from veterans to health care, to 
  These accomplishments prove that this majority was prepared to work 
and produce lasting results. I look forward to advancing even more 
priorities that benefit Nevada in the 115th Congress. As a member of 
the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I have been proud to 
advocate on behalf of Nevada's brave heroes. My focus has always been 
on issues impacting Nevada's veterans most. I will give you some 
examples: guaranteeing our veterans have access to care, ensuring they 
receive care quickly, working to hire more VA doctors, providing health 
care for rural veterans, and addressing the disability claims backlog 
we have been working on for years.
  In this Congress, there has been a lot of progress. As a cochair of 
the Senate VA Backlog Working Group, I have been holding the VA's feet 
to the fire on the disability claims backlog. The VA has adopted many 
of the working group's policy recommendations, and this pressure has 
helped reduce the backlogs from 405,000 claims in 2014 to 92,000 today.
  Although, clearly, there is much more room for improvement, Nevada's 
veterans are far better off submitting a claim to our Nevada VA 
Regional Office today than they were 2 years ago. Nevada was once the 
worst in the Nation and now it is in the top 25 percent for 
  Another issue plaguing veterans in Nevada and nationwide is VA doctor

[[Page S6990]]

shortages. It is hard for VA to recruit and retain medical 
professionals, and that impacts how quickly our veterans can get their 
  I have asked the Government Accountability Office to examine the VA's 
current policies for recruitment and retention and report back to me on 
what improvements can be made. I look forward to receiving that report 
next year and enacting to ensure we address this issue that affects 
urban areas, such as Las Vegas, and our rural veterans in Elko, Ely, 
and Winnemucca.
  When it comes to bringing high-quality care to Nevada, I am also 
proud that the VA finally opened a brandnew VA clinic in Pahrump. While 
there have been many positive steps forward for Nevada's veteran 
community, clearly there is more to accomplish in the next Congress.
  In fact, I am working to pass legislation through the Senate right 
now that would bring greater accountability to the VA by reporting each 
year on bonuses awarded to critical positions like VA hospital 
  We still have a 20-percent disability claims backlog and a growing 
appeals backlog. The VA Choice Program must be revisited in 2017 for 
reauthorization and improvements. The VA still struggles to fire 
employees who are poorly performing. Rural veterans still struggle to 
find doctors to serve in their area. These are priorities for Nevada's 
veterans that I am committed to advancing every day that I am in the 
U.S. Senate.
  I am also particularly proud of the work we have done in the 114th 
Congress on infrastructure. Those efforts yielded major results for the 
State of Nevada. Last year, we enacted the first long-term highway bill 
in nearly a decade called the Fixing Americans Surface Transportation 
Act, or better known as the FAST Act.
  This 5-year bill provides States with resources and the tools to 
advance high-priority projects, such as the new Interstate 11 
connecting Phoenix to Las Vegas, the Carson City freeway, and the 
widening of the Las Vegas busiest freeway, Interstate 15 in Las Vegas.
  The bill also included in my top infrastructure priorities the 
expansion of Interstate 11 to Northern Nevada. I have been working for 
years to improve mobility from Las Vegas to Reno. Surface 
transportation projects like these spur economic development 
opportunities. It reduces congestion and increases safety--the recipe 
for creating short-term jobs and long-term economic growth.
  In July, the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act was enacted into 
law. This important legislation implemented important reforms that make 
U.S. air travel safer, more efficient, essential to tourism 
destinations, such as Las Vegas, Reno, and Lake Tahoe.
  Again tonight, we will debate yet another important infrastructure 
bill--the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. 
Included in that package is a bill I sponsored and have been working on 
with my Nevada and California colleagues for nearly a decade--the Lake 
Tahoe Restoration Act. This initiative will reduce wildfire threats, 
jump-start transportation and infrastructure projects, combat evasive 
species at Lake Tahoe, and ensure the jewel of the Sierras is preserved 
for generations to come.
  It also includes a provision I crafted with Senator Heinrich that 
improves the water security of rural western communities. I hope my 
colleagues will agree to quickly take up and pass this critical, 
important legislation for my State, sending it to the President's desk 
before the end of the year.
  With a new majority in the Senate, we were also able to make good on 
a number of promises to the American people on the health care front. 
First and foremost was being able to be send an ObamaCare repeal bill 
to the President's desk within the first year of our new majority. One 
of my top priorities in our ObamaCare repeal efforts was to repeal the 
40-percent excise tax on employee health benefits.
  In Nevada, 1.3 million workers who have employer-sponsored health 
insurance plans will be hit by the Cadillac tax. I knew the devastating 
impact this tax would have on Nevadans, but I also knew that in order 
to get anything done, we needed a bipartisan effort. My friend Senator 
Heinrich from New Mexico and I teamed up to successfully include a 
delay of the Cadillac tax in the omnibus bill at the end of last year. 
Rest assured, I will continue to fight for a full repeal in the next 
  This week, we were able to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, which has 
a 2-year process to work in a bipartisan way to advance medical 
research and clear out government redtape at the Food and Drug 
Administration. I was very pleased two of my bills that focus on mental 
health and protecting seniors' Medicare benefits were included in this 
health care package.
  First, my bill, Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows 
Act, was included in the mental health title of the bill. After working 
with mental health care providers in my home State, I learned that 
Nevadans lack access to the appropriate treatment, screenings, and 
community support needed to provide effective care for new mothers 
struggling with postpartum depression.
  I worked with Senator Gillibrand and HELP Committee Chairman 
Alexander on this important piece of legislation, which builds upon 
existing State and local efforts by providing targeted Federal grants 
to assist States in developing programs to better screen and treat 
maternal depression.
  Another bill we were able to pass as part of the Cures Act was my 
legislation, the Medicare Advantage Coverage Transparency Act. This 
legislation requires more transparency of the Medicare Advantage and 
prescription drug benefits enjoyed by seniors throughout the State.
  It will also ensure that these benefits continue to provide 
meaningful coverage to seniors and will help us protect important 
health care benefits for current and future retirees.
  More than 30 percent of Nevada's seniors enjoy their Medicare 
Advantage benefits, and enrollment continues to grow in my State. 
Successfully passing a number of health care bills will surely set the 
tone early next year when the united Republican government finally 
repeals ObamaCare.
  I am optimistic that with a willing partner in the White House, we 
can build on these successes. I plan on using my role on the Senate 
Finance Committee; Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation 
Committee; and the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs to tackle the 
challenges facing Nevadans across the State.
  I know we will do everything in our power to protect our 
constituents' access to care as we transition out of ObamaCare and into 
a new era of a 21st century care system that works for patients.
  I know we will honor our veterans by improving the quality of care 
and benefits they have earned.
  We will invest in roads, bridges, clean water, a modern and reliable 
electricity grid, telecommunications, and other pressing domestic 
infrastructure needs.
  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the U.S. Senate on 
these important priorities in the coming year.
  I thank the Presiding Officer and yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SHELBY. 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--H.R. 3394

  Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I will take just a few minutes. I rise to 
call up for consideration H.R. 3394, the CAPTIVE Act. I have long 
advocated for the Senate to pass the CAPTIVE Act, which passed the 
House by unanimous consent in July.
  In 2003, a group of Department of Defense contractors were on a 
counternarcotics mission in Colombia when their plane crash-landed. 
These Americans were captured by members of the Revolutionary Armed 
Forces of Colombia, which we know as FARC, which is a violent guerrilla 
group that is heavily involved in drug trafficking.
  My fellow Alabamian Thomas J. Janis, the pilot of the plane, 
tragically lost his life at the hands of these terrorists on February 
13, 2003. The three

[[Page S6991]]

other Americans abroad the flight were kidnapped, held hostage, and 
tortured for more than 5 years until they were finally rescued by the 
Colombia military. These heroes are now seeking justice for themselves 
and their families against those who carried out unthinkable acts of 
  The CAPTIVE Act is simple. It would make it easier for all U.S. 
victims of terrorism to recover court-awarded damages. I believe that 
the family of Tom Janis and all of the victims of terror deserve 
nothing less than for the Senate to swiftly pass the CAPTIVE Act. I 
urge my colleagues to join me in supporting that.
  I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate 
consideration of H.R. 3394, which was received from the House; I 
further ask that the bill be considered read a third time and passed 
and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Ernst). Is there objection?
  The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. BROWN. Madam President, reserving the right to object, I share 
Senator Shelby's and other colleagues' strong desire to ensure that 
this small group of Americans who suffered such violence at the hands 
of FARC is compensated for their ordeal. Earlier this week, at the 
behest of Senator Nelson and others, I met with some of those former 
hostages. I heard of their suffering firsthand. I have read about it. I 
have talked to them. I cannot imagine what they went through. While the 
victims have already received a portion of the compensation awarded 
them by Federal courts--around $16 million so far--out of a total of 
$318 million awarded, they still have a long way to go.
  The administration, including the Treasury Department, which overseas 
our efforts to combat the narcotics trafficking that is having such a 
devastating impact on our country and others around the world, has 
expressed serious concerns that the CAPTIVE Act would undermine our 
successful anti-narcotics efforts.
  I want to help these victims. It is terrible what happened to them. 
They were trying to serve our country--they were serving our country 
when this happened. But I have serious concerns about this legislation 
written in this way, how it would undermine successful anti-narcotics 
  Since the administration's concerns and the risk to our anti-
narcotics efforts have not been addressed--and I think we can address 
them, I hope early in January once we have coordinated and gotten this 
information in a way to present it back to Congress in another piece of 
legislation that preserves these anti-narcotics efforts and at the same 
time fulfills our commitment to compensation. But because of all of 
that, I must object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Mr. SHELBY. 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.
  Mr. MERKLEY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


  Mr. MERKLEY. Madam President, I rise to share a few thoughts on the 
Water Resources Development Act, or, as it is referred to, the WRDA 
Act. This is a bill which has a tremendous number of water projects 
across America that in general will work to make many communities' 
economies work far better. These are widely distributed across the 
country, and they are widely needed. It was worked out through a 
tremendous amount of effort on the Senate side and on the House side. 
There are certainly projects there I have fought for that will be of 
assistance on the Columbia River and to the tribes who were affected by 
the dams on the Columbia River and on the WIFIA, the Water 
Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act--a vision I have been working 
on for years to put in place.
  All of that is very good, but I have real concerns about a provision 
that was airdropped into the conference. This is not just a little one-
sentence rider; this is 90 pages called the California Drought Act.
  Picture the big vision here. For years, the Central Valley of 
California has been a massive consumer of water for agriculture. We 
have had years of drought. During those years that the Central Valley 
was a massive consumer of water, they planted a lot of crops that 
consume a lot of water. Crops like almonds--it takes a gallon of water 
for every almond. There are crops like rice, where you have to flood 
the paddies of rice and there is massive loss to evaporation. But the 
agricultural community there wants to continue growing the same crops 
even throughout the drought, and so they are looking for ways to pull 
more water out of the Northern California rivers and ship it to the 
Central Valley.
  Why is this a concern? This is a concern because these rivers in the 
northern part of the State are key rivers for salmon. If you drain 
these rivers to fulfill the water needs of the Central Valley, you will 
do enormous harm to the salmon and to the salmon fishermen.
  When salmon go downstream and head out to sea for 5 or 6 years, they 
swim north. They have a huge impact and role to play off the Oregon 
coast and off the Washington coast. That is why during the course of 
this debate you have seen two Senators from Washington State, Maria 
Cantwell and Patty Murray, talk about how concerned they are and why 
you have seen my colleague from Oregon, Ron Wyden, talk about how 
concerned he is--because we have at play here a battle between the 
salmon fishermen and that industry and its iconic species and all it 
provides to the Northwest and the agricultural growers of the Central 
  It isn't as if the growers in the Central Valley haven't benefited 
from taking water from north California--from the northern rivers; they 
have been doing it for decades. They have been increasing the amount of 
water for decades. Now they are asking to use this drought, through 
this California drought bill, to give them authority to take even more 
water despite a negative impact on the salmon.
  That is why I am troubled, and there are some key provisions that I 
thought are worth talking about specifically because some folks have 
come to this floor and said: Don't worry, be happy. Nothing in here is 
going to change the provisions and applications of the biological 
opinions that control how we make sure we sustain a healthy environment 
for the fish. Others have come and said: Don't worry, there is nothing 
that changes the application of the Endangered Species Act. But 
unfortunately that is just not accurate. I thought I would give some 
insight into how this works.
  Section 4001 in the bill provides an opportunity to bypass biological 
opinions by setting up a pilot project and then studying the outcome of 
the pilot project. It uses the pilot project as a way to do an end run 
around the biological opinions and the Endangered Species Act.
  Just to share a little bit of the language, quoting directly from the 
bill, ``[T]he California Department of Water Resources . . . [will] 
implement a pilot project to test and evaluate the ability to operate 
the Delta cross-channel gates daily or as otherwise may be appropriate 
to keep them open to the greatest extent practicable . . . and maximize 
Central Valley Project and State Water Project pumping.''
  Here is the thing. What you have is a river coming down, and salmon 
that are coming back from the ocean swim up that river in order to 
spawn. But along the way are these gates that control water that can 
move into the delta toward the Central Valley. If those gates are 
opened, the salmon, instead of going upstream to spawn, get diverted, 
and it has a big impact on the species, so those gates are kept closed 
in order to protect the success of the spawning salmon.
  This basically says: Do a pilot project and open the gates. Then it 
proceeds to say that what we will do about that is to collect data on 
its impact. I will quote again:

       [W]ith respect to the operation of the Delta cross-channel 
     gates described in (1), collect data on the impact of that 
     operation on . . . species listed as threatened or 

  So it is a direct impact on the Endangered Species Act. It gives 
permission through this so-called pilot project to

[[Page S6992]]

open the gates and then to collect data on how much harm it does to the 
fish. That is very unlike the information that has been presented by 
some on this floor.
  Here is another provision within the 4001 section. It instructs 
adoption of ``a 1:1 inflow to export ratio for the increment of 
increased flow,'' and it gives a bunch of details about that, and it 
says this must happen ``unless the Secretary of the Interior and 
Secretary of Commerce determine in writing that a 1:1 inflow to export 
ratio for that increment of increased flow will cause additional 
adverse effects.''
  It doesn't say you can do this 1:1 flow unless it causes adverse 
effects; it says you can't do this 1:1 flow unless the Secretary of the 
Interior and Secretary of Commerce say it will cause bad effects. So 
essentially here is another end run around the biological opinion and 
around the Endangered Species Act by just giving the Secretary of 
Commerce and Secretary of the Interior of the incoming administration 
the power to just let this water be diverted unless they act. That is 
not something that can be challenged in court because there is no 
standard being applied for violating the biological opinion, no 
standard being applied for violating the Endangered Species Act, except 
the opinion of the Secretary of the Interior and the opinion of the 
Secretary of Commerce.
  Those two things are in section 4001. Let's turn to section 4002.
  Section 4002 says essentially there is a range at which a biological 
opinion allows you to drain a river. When you normally think of water 
being taken out of a river, you picture the river flowing down, and 
maybe there is a place where some of that water is pulled out of the 
river, but the rest of the river keeps flowing on down. But in this 
case, the amount of water taken out is called a negative flow because 
it actually ends the river. It pulls the water back. That is very 
  This bill has specific instructions, and in that range of 
possibilities that might be considered within a biological opinion, 
they are instructed to pump at the maximum rate, a rate that will not 
be less negative ``than the most negative reverse flow''--I am reading 
from this bill--``the most negative reverse flow rate prescribed by the 
. . . biological opinion.''
  So they are instructed specifically not to find the right space 
within the judgment of the scientists and the biological opinion, but 
if there has been an estimate--as it could be from here to here--to 
take the very maximum rate, and this rate is so high that it causes 
this negative flow of water, which is why they talk about rivers 
running backward to feed water to the Central Valley.
  So that is a precise instruction that changes the normal application 
and work of scientists who are evaluating the effect, under all the 
various conditions, of how much water to pull out, and so it very much 
affects the biological opinion and very much affects the Endangered 
Species Act.
  There is a way that this can be overridden recent, but not by 
challenging it in court--the only way it can be overridden is if the 
Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Commerce shall document 
in writing that it is going to go have a very bad impact. So, again, 
this is giving no recourse to those who see enormous damage to the fish 
because they have no power. All the power is given to the Secretary of 
the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce.
  Let's go to another section, 4003. The language itself essentially 
says that the Central Valley projects and the State water projects 
should take the absolute maximum flow rate that is allowed and then go 
beyond that.
  In section 4002, it was like: Here is the range. Take the top end of 
the range. Don't use your scientific judgment about where you should 
really be to protect the fish and the salmon industry. This one says: 
Here is the range from here to here, but you have to go further, take 
even more. This is almost unbelievable. I have never seen anything like 
  I will quote: ``authorize the Central Valley Project and the State 
Water Project, combined, to operate at levels that result in OMR flows 
more negative than the most negative reverse flow rate prescribed by 
the . . . biological opinion.''
  So when some of my colleagues have come to this floor and said this 
doesn't affect the biological opinion a bit, yes it does. It says it in 
plain language. Here is the opinion; you have to be between here and 
here. And the law, if passed, if adopted, says: No, no, no. Go further, 
go beyond the range of the biological opinion.
  This language is unambiguously inconsistent with the requirements of 
the biological opinion. It just says in plain, straight language: 
Ignore it. Go beyond it.
  It also says that these transfers through delta water for the State 
water project can occur even if they violate the 1992 Central Valley 
Improvement Act--even if they violate it.
  So what is in that section (a)(1)(H) of the Central Valley 
Improvement Act that can be violated? I pulled up that language. Let's 
just check this out. It refers to contractual obligations or fish and 
wildlife obligations under this title.
  So, in other words, this bill says you can ignore the obligations 
related to fish and wildlife. So, once again, we see a provision aimed 
at ignoring the impact upon fish or upon wildlife and authorizing the 
raiding of water from Northern California for more almonds in the 
Central Valley.
  Now, 20,000 people work in the salmon industry, and a huge part of 
this are the salmon that come out of these streams--streams that are 
already compromised. So the reason there is such a profound objection 
from Senator Boxer of California, from Senator Murray of Washington, 
from Senator Cantwell of Washington, from Senator Wyden of Oregon, and 
from me is that this is a blueprint for running over the top of 
carefully crafted biological opinions designed to prevent the 
extinction of key species. In this case, it is not just the extinction. 
It is also a key commercial enterprise--the salmon industry.
  So I am offended that this overrun of the salmon, this permission 
slip to drain the rivers of the north to feed the Central Valley, is 
being presented as having no impact on the biological opinions for the 
Endangered Species Act. It is a full-fledged bulldozer running over the 
top of the poor protections for the salmon.
  This is a terrible precedent for Congress because each time an 
industry is threatened, there will be those who will point to this 
precedent and say: Look, when the almond farmers were threatened 
because they didn't have enough water in the Central Valley, we gave 
them permission to destroy the salmon. So when something else is 
threatened, let's give permission to run over some other aspect of the 
Endangered Species Act or some other aspect of the biological opinion. 
This is an unacceptable precedent for anyone who cares about the 
balance between our commerce and the diversity of species in our States 
and other competing industries. This is not just almonds against the 
survival of a species; it is almonds against 20,000 fishermen who 
depend upon the salmon runs that will be so grievously impacted by this 
  So I encourage folks to read it. Read the fact that it lays out 
specific instructions that require the maximizing of water beyond the 
highest levels already existing within a biological opinion. This is 
  I will be opposing closing debate on this bill because this air-
dropped provision did not go through the House side, and it did not go 
through the Senate side. It sets a precedent that should be fully 
debated in committee. The American people should have a chance to 
respond and know about this air-dropped provision--an attack on the 
Pacific salmon--before this Chamber votes on this bill.
  Thank you, 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. McCONNELL. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           The 114th Congress

  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, the day after the election I said 
that we had two main priorities for this postelection session of the 
Senate: Pass the 21st Century Cures bill and fund the government.

[[Page S6993]]

  We passed the Cures bill already, and we will be voting shortly to 
keep the government running. Soon after that vote, we will pass the 
bipartisan water resources bill, which directs assistance to families 
in Flint and supports important waterways projects in nearly every one 
of our States. It is testament to the hard work of so many and Chairman 
Inhofe, in particular.
  Under the leadership of Chairman McCain, this week we also passed the 
Defense authorization conference report, which addresses many of the 
national security challenges facing our country. I would also like to 
point out that the Cures bill, which passed earlier this week, simply 
would not have happened without Chairman Lamar Alexander. And it is 
impossible to overlook the unending, unyielding work of Senator 
Murkowski on the Energy bill, as well, or our indispensable Finance 
Committee chairman, Senator Hatch, who has been involved in almost 
every bill from the doc fix to the tax extenders that come through this 
  I would like to note the great work of the Appropriations Committee, 
specifically for its efforts to ensure that individual bills and an 
omnibus were prepared for consideration. We know they have been putting 
in long hours, especially this week, and for that we are certainly 
  This Congress, the Senate has passed nearly 300 bills, and nearly 200 
of those are now law. But what really matters isn't the number of bills 
passed; it is what we can achieve on behalf of the American people, and 
by that standard, I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to 
accomplish for our country.
  Over the past week I have had the opportunity to pay tribute to many 
colleagues who have made such a lasting impact on the Senate during 
their tenure. But as the 114th Congress comes to a close, I would like 
to take a moment to recognize another set of individuals whose work 
makes the business of the Senate possible in the first place.
  It goes without saying that keeping the Capitol running is a vast 
undertaking. It requires a passion for service, round-the-clock work, 
and great sacrifice by everyone employed. The legislative process 
simply wouldn't be possible without the dedicated work of so many. On 
behalf of the Senate, I would like to acknowledge their efforts and say 
thank you to the following:
  To my leadership team for their wise counsel; to our committee chairs 
and ranking members for so much great work over the past 2 years; to 
the many, many colleagues in both parties for working so hard to make 
this Senate a success; and, to those we are saying farewell to--
Senators Coats, Boxer, Mikulski, Reid, Vitter, Kirk, and Ayotte--for 
your service to our country, I say thank you.
  To my chiefs of staff, Sharon Soderstrom and Brian McGuire, for their 
indisputable talent and for leading a team that is second to none, 
every member of which I would thank individually if I could, I say 
thank you.
  To the floor staff, Laura Dove and Gary Myrick and their teams, for 
keeping the floor running, for running it smoothly, and for making it 
look effortless every single time--even though we know it is anything 
but; to the Parliamentarians and clerks who sit on the dais whenever 
the Senate is in session, making sure our operations are smooth and by 
the book; to the Secretary of the Senate and her team for protecting 
the rich history of this body and for overseeing so many different 
legislative and administrative operations, I say thank you to all of 
these folks.
  Off the Senate floor there are so many more to thank too: the Capitol 
Police, for putting themselves in harm's way to protect everyone who 
works in or visits this institution; the Sergeant at Arms staff for 
overseeing a dizzying range of efforts--from setting up rooms and 
enacting security protocols to preparing for next year's inauguration; 
the Architect of the Capitol staff, which is always hard at work making 
the Capitol the best it can be--from the conservation of these 
illustrious hallways to the extensive restoration of the Capitol dome; 
and to literally countless others: the doorkeepers, the legal counsels, 
the committees and their staff, the pages, and all those whom I have 
not mentioned, we appreciate what you do. Please know that your service 
and your dedication does not go unnoticed.
  Let me also again recognize the Democratic leader for his more than 
three decades of service. As I said yesterday, Harry and I clearly have 
had some different views on many things throughout the years, but we 
have shared similar responsibilities as the leaders of our respective 
parties, and I think we can both agree that none of this would have 
been possible without the support of our staff. I want to recognize 
Harry's team, past and present, and thank them for many years of 
partnership with my office.
  We now turn the page on one Congress and get ready to write a new 
story in a different one.
  I am proud of the work this Republican-led Senate has done the past 2 
years. My colleagues should be proud of their work as well. It has been 
incredible to see what we have been able to achieve already. We know 
our work doesn't end here, though, and I know each of us is eager to 
get started in the 115th Congress. For now, I want to thank my 
colleagues for a productive Congress, and I want to wish each of you a 
happy holiday season and a happy New Year.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Madam President, I rise for a final time as the vice 
chair of the Appropriations Committee. Tonight, as we get ready to 
vote, these will be the last votes I will cast in the U.S. Senate. The 
ones we do today and possibly tomorrow will write my final chapter as a 
voting Member of the U.S. Senate.
  I am very proud to be the first woman and the first Marylander to 
chair the Appropriations Committee. I am going to thank my fellow 
members of the Appropriations Committee and especially Chairman 
Cochran, who has been my friend and ally on moving these bills forward.
  I wish to also express a special thanks to my colleague and partner 
on the Commerce-Justice Subcommittee, Chairman Richard Shelby, for his 
steadfast advocacy for the important needs facing this country.
  The Appropriations Committee is a problem-solving committee. Our 
markups are vigorous and rigorous, but at the end of the day, we do try 
to find compromise without capitulating on our principles. That is why 
I wish I was standing here today presenting the Senate with a full-year 
funding bill instead of a temporary bill through April 28.
  Throughout the year, I have come to the floor seeking additional 
funding for fighting heroin and opioid abuse, helping the people of 
Flint, MI, and also dealing with the Zika response treatment. I am 
happy to report to my colleagues the Zika bill did pass in September, 
and this continuing resolution would have done all three.
  This bill includes important needs for our country. First of all, it 
meets our national security needs. There is funding in here for our 
troops overseas and money to enhance humanitarian relief and also very 
crucial needs related to embassy security. There are also other needs 
facing the people, and this goes to the disaster relief for victims of 
floods and Hurricane Matthew. While we are looking at the disasters of 
floods and hurricanes, there is also help for Flint, MI--$170 million, 
subject to authorization.
  We also looked at the other challenges facing our communities. One of 
the things we see is the big challenge of opioid abuse. I have heard it 
in my State and from my Republican Governor. I know the Presiding 
Officer has heard it in the great State of Iowa, and this terrible 
scourge and challenge knows no party, nor any geography, and we have an 
important downpayment in fighting that with $500 million.
  Also in the Cures Act, there is money to deal with the dreaded ``c'' 
word, cancer. With the advocacy of the Vice President and again working 
across the aisle and across the dome, we have come up with something 
called the Cancer Moonshot. In other words, if we could send someone to 
the Moon and return them safely, as our beloved John Glenn pioneered, 
then we can also have a Moonshot to find a cure for cancer. I am so 
pleased that as we wrap up our time here that that is there, although I 
am disappointed the funding for Flint is subject to authorization in 
the Water Resources Development Act

[[Page S6994]]

and that the extension of the miners' health benefit lasts only through 
April 30. I believe promises made should be promises kept, and the 
miners deserve permanent extension of these benefits. I also support 
Senator Manchin's efforts on his behalf.
  I am disappointed our Republican colleagues wrote the CR behind 
closed doors and that we began to have to fight between coal miners 
versus Flint, MI, and others, pitting one group against another. I hope 
we can have a different approach in the next Congress. I will not be 
here, but I am here now as we try to finish this work.
  We hear a lot of Washington words, words that people don't 
understand--CR, stopgap, shutdown. I want to talk about what 
appropriations are, not in the technical bills but saying that we fund 
government doesn't mean anything. It means that we tried to find 
solutions, we tried to make sure we stood up for national security, 
that we promoted economic growth, and that we met compelling human 
needs and invested in what we as a nation value.
  This appropriations bill does pay for our troops in the field and the 
people back home to make sure they have the equipment and supplies they 
need to do their job. It also supports diplomacy, our Foreign Service 
Officers, and also our foreign aid to make sure we meet compelling 
human needs in our own country and around the world.
  It does fund the Homeland Security, while at the same time looking 
out for our Coast Guard, clearing the ice and keeping our ports open. 
It is the FBI, and here we make a downpayment on the new, much needed 
FBI facility to meet the new changes they have--fighting domestic 
terrorism and cyber security.
  We all want to put people back to work. That is why the 
Appropriations Committee does make investments in transportation 
because we know transportation not only moves goods and cargo, but it 
provides good jobs today: airports, seaports, roads, bridges, transit, 
and rail.
  To develop new ideas, we need to continue to lead the way. That is 
why we have made major efforts in innovation: in energy, agriculture, 
weather, climate, and astronomy. I am not going to sound like an 
accountant. I am ready to give an accounting to the people of Maryland, 
to this Nation about how we are spending their money. We want to spend 
the money to give the people of Flint safe drinking water, give people 
treatment to kick their prescription drug habit, to find cures for 
disease from cancer, Alzheimer's, and I am proud of the resources we 
provide to make our communities better and safer.
  I am proud of my service as the Democratic leader of the 
Appropriations Committee. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues. 
I have the best subcommittee chairs or rankings that anyone could have. 
We have an excellent staff, and we have all tried to work together.
  Today, as I bring this bill--the continuing resolution before the 
Senate--I say to you, I ask you to vote for the continuing resolution. 
It has parity for defense and nondefense. It doesn't have poison pill 
riders, and it has additional money for Flint, heroin, and opioid 
abuse. This continuing resolution accomplishes the goals we set out for 
this year. I am sorry that it only funds the government to April.
  This is my last set of votes. I hope you vote for the continuing 
resolution, and I hope in March, with the good work of Senator Leahy, 
who will then be the Democratic vice chair of the Appropriations 
Committee, working with Senator Cochran, who is so able and so skilled 
and yet such a man of principle, you will be able to arrive at a full-
year funding for the Appropriations Committee.
  I do hope in the next Congress we do return to regular order. This 
committee is capable of it if the Senate is capable of it. In other 
battles, I have always said to my colleagues, and you know this when I 
have said to the women of the Senate: Let's put our lipstick on, square 
our shoulders, and get out there and fight.
  As we get here to vote on this continuing resolution, my final sets 
of votes, I want the people of Maryland to know and the people of 
America to know, I have my lipstick on, my shoulders are squared, and I 
am ready to get out there and vote, and although this will be my last 
fight in the U.S. Senate, it will not be my last fight to help America 
be the great country it is.
  God bless you, God bless this honorable body, and God bless the 
United States of America.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  (Applause, Senators rising.)
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
mandatory quorum be waived.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I yield back time on our side.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the time is yielded back.

                             Cloture Motion

  Pursuant to rule XXII, the Chair lays before the Senate the pending 
cloture motion, which the clerk will state.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to 
     concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to 
     Calendar No. 96, H.R. 2028, an act making appropriations for 
     energy and water development and related agencies for the 
     fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other 
         Mitch McConnell, Roger F. Wicker, Orrin G. Hatch, Johnny 
           Isakson, John Cornyn, Thad Cochran, Mike Crapo, Pat 
           Roberts, Bill Cassidy, John Hoeven, John Barrasso, Thom 
           Tillis, John Boozman, John Thune, Daniel Coats, Marco 
           Rubio, Roy Blunt.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum 
call has been waived.
  The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate that debate on the 
motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 
2028 shall be brought to a close?
  The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Arkansas (Mr. Cotton).
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 61, nays 38, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 160 Leg.]





                             NOT VOTING--1

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 61, the nays are 
  Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in 
the affirmative, the motion is agreed to.
  Cloture having been invoked, the motion to refer falls.
  Under the previous order, all postcloture time has expired.

           Motion to Concur With Amendment No. 5139 Withdrawn

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw the 
motion to concur with further amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that there now be 2 minutes of 
debate equally divided before a vote on adoption.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

[[Page S6995]]

  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, what we are doing here is we are cutting 
defense spending, we are increasing nondefense spending, and we are 
locking in the legitimacy of the nondefense spending according to the 
Budget Control Act. So what we are doing by passing a continuing 
resolution is putting in sequestration again, while even reducing 
defense spending.
  In the words of the four uniformed chiefs of our military, you are--
and I quote them directly--``putting the lives of the men and women 
serving this Nation in uniform at greater risk''--at greater risk. You 
are putting the lives of the men and women who are serving in the 
military at greater risk because we want to get out of here for 
Christmas. Shame on you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.

                           Order of Business

  Mr. McCONNELL. For tonight's schedule, we hope to have the WRDA vote 
around midnight, and we will seek to get a limited time agreement 
during the vote that is about to occur.

                        Vote on Motion to Concur

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there further debate?
  If not, the question is on agreeing to the motion to concur in the 
House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 2028.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There is a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Arkansas (Mr. Cotton).
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Fischer). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 63, nays 36, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 161 Leg.]





                             NOT VOTING--1

  The motion was agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.