(Senate - July 12, 2016)

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[Pages S4955-S4962]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of the conference report to accompany S. 524, 
which the clerk will report.
  The assistant bill clerk read as follows:

       Conference report to accompany S. 524, a bill to authorize 
     the Attorney General to award grants to address the national 
     epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the time until 12:30 
p.m. will be equally divided between the two leaders or their 
  The Senator from Illinois.

                           Zika Virus Funding

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, 5 months--5 months--that is how long it 
has been since the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for 
Disease Control and Prevention formally asked the U.S. Congress to 
respond to a public health emergency to combat the Zika virus--5 
  In that time, we have seen the number of Americans infected with Zika 
soar to 3,667. Of those, 599 are pregnant women. In Illinois, there are 
26 confirmed cases of Zika--5 months. To date, seven infants have been 
born with Zika-related birth defects in the United States. Five 
pregnancies have ended because of Zika-related birth defects--5 months. 
Last week, Utah health officials announced the first U.S. death related 
to the Zika virus--5 months. In Puerto Rico, where this situation gets 
worse by the day, officials reported a 1-week jump of 40 percent in the 
number of pregnant women on the island diagnosed with Zika--5 months. 
Three thousand, six hundred sixty-seven Americans to date are infected 
with Zika that we know of, 599 pregnant women, 7 babies born with 
severe birth defects, 5 ended because of the virus, and the first Zika-
related death--5 months since the President of the United States said 
this was a public health crisis.
  The Republican-controlled Congress has waited 5 months to respond to 
this crisis, and now we are on the verge of leaving town for 7 more 

[[Page S4956]]

September, after the conventions--and we will leave without providing 
our Federal health agencies the money they urgently need to fight Zika. 
By the time Congress returns, it will be 7 months since the President 
asked Congress on an emergency basis to deal with this public health 
crisis of Zika. Every single American should be disgusted by this, and 
every single Member of Congress should be embarrassed.
  What is perhaps most infuriating about this situation is that we have 
a bipartisan Zika funding bill ready to go, and the President would 
sign it tomorrow if he could. In May, the Senate passed a bill. I will 
concede, it was 3 months after the President asked for it, but we did 
pass a bill. We had 89 votes supporting a bill to provide $1.1 billion 
to fight this public health disaster. It was less than the President 
asked, but was a good-faith, bipartisan effort supporting mosquito 
control programs, lab capacity, surveillance efforts, and maternal 
health services. It wasn't the bill that Democrats would have written 
or the President asked for. It wasn't really the bill that the 
Republicans wanted to start with. It was a bipartisan, good-faith 
  But what happened to that bill after it left the Senate? Instead of 
that bipartisan bill moving through the House and quickly to the 
President, it went into a conference committee, and that is when things 
went terribly bad. Right before adjourning for the Fourth of July 
recess, the House Republicans decided to take our bipartisan bill with 
89 votes and load it up like a right-wing Christmas tree. They decided 
to attack environmental protection by overturning the clean water 
regulations. They decided to block money to women's health providers. 
Most people remember when the Republicans were prepared to shut down 
the government of the United States over the funding of Planned 
Parenthood. Now, in this bill that they have sent back to us from 
conference, they are prepared to shut down our response to this public 
health crisis of the Zika virus in order to defund Planned Parenthood.
  It also undermines the Affordable Care Act, which has been a 
traditional whipping boy of the rightwing, and it raids Ebola funds. 
They knew the Democrats wouldn't accept these riders. They made it as 
disgusting and repugnant politically as it could be. They said: 
Remember, we don't need Ebola funds. It turns out we do.
  To this day, the CDC still has 80 disease specialists stationed in 
West Africa. A few months ago, there was an Ebola cluster in Guinea. In 
order to respond to that unexpected outbreak, the CDC had to vaccinate 
1,700 people, track 20,000 people through surveillance, and open five 
emergency operation centers in two different countries.
  The Republicans say: Well, we will just take the money away from 
Ebola, maybe things will work out fine in Africa.
  The Republican bill proposes decimating our Ebola prevention funding 
and diverting the resources. The majority leader and majority whip 
claim the House Zika bill is a compromise and bipartisan. Let me be 
clear. It is neither. It is not a compromise, and it is not bipartisan. 
Not a single Democrat signed the conference report that came out of the 
House. Despite the fact that 89 Senators of both parties had voted for 
bipartisan funding in the Senate, when they took it into conference, it 
turned into a political football.
  This is a cynical attempt by the Republicans in the House to hijack a 
public health crisis and push a grab bag of their favorite unrelated 
poison pill riders. That is why their bill, as shown by the vote here 
last month, is a nonstarter in the Senate, and it is a nonstarter with 
the American people.
  What is being lost during this entire posturing and politicizing is 
the very real toll Zika is taking. During the past 5 months, we have 
discovered new and alarming things about Zika. We know the Zika virus 
can be transmitted through sexual contact. Women infected with Zika in 
their first trimester can face a 13-percent likelihood of a baby born 
with a serious problem. Even if a pregnant woman doesn't show any signs 
of infection, her baby can be born with serious, physical, and 
neurological disorders.
  It has been 5 months since the President asked for funding. This 
Republican-led Congress just can't get it right. Eighty-nine Senators, 
Democrats and Republicans, came up with a bipartisan answer, they 
couldn't get it through the House of Representatives, and we sit here 
today languishing in this political mess.
  Researchers are examining the links to other negative health 
consequences: eye infections that lead to blindness, autoimmune 
disorders that cause paralysis related to Zika virus.
  What about the impact of maternal stress on the baby? I spent the 
last several weeks meeting with maternal and fetal health care 
providers and community health leaders in Chicago. Yesterday I was in 
the Belleville area. They shared with me the fear and stress their 
patients are experiencing. Hundreds of pregnant women in Illinois are 
seeking care and advice from doctors. They have undergone tests to make 
sure their babies are safe. Sadly, three of those Illinois women have 
learned they are already infected with Zika. I am sick and tired of 
this political game being played by the House and Senate Republicans 
when it comes to a public health crisis.
  The President got it right 5 months ago. Why can't this Congress get 
it right now before we leave for this 7-week vacation? Enough is 
enough. It is time for the Republican majority in the House and the 
Senate to do their job: respond to this public health crisis in a 
sensible, bipartisan way, just as our bill that passed the Senate with 
89 votes addressed, instead of making this a political test for the 
most outrageous claims.
  Did I mention the fact that in conference, the House and Senate 
Republicans decided to add another provision when it came to this 
public health crisis? That provision would allow the display of 
Confederate flags in veterans cemeteries. Give me a break. What does 
that have to do with this public health crisis or honoring our men and 
women in the military or our veterans who have served our country well?
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.

                        Private Sector Pensions

  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, as chairman of the Budget Committee, I come 
to the floor on a regular basis and give some bad news, hopefully in 
small doses. If the small doses don't work, I am going to have to go to 
larger doses, but we do have a crisis of overspending. We are going to 
have some more opportunities to talk about that spending.
  Private sector pensions are what I am going to talk about today. 
Private sector pensions are relied upon by millions of Americans for 
retirement security. They are agreements that are made between an 
employer and its employees or a union and its members which allow the 
recipients to receive payments in retirement. Those payments are based 
on a formula that includes a number of factors, including years of 
  I have worked on pension policy for all of my professional life. I 
have dealt with pensions as a young accountant, as the mayor of the 
city of Gillette, as a member of the Wyoming Legislature, as a member 
of the Senate Pensions Committee, as chairman of the Senate Pensions 
Committee, as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, as chairman of 
the Senate Retirement Security Subcommittee, as chairman of the Senate 
Budget Committee, and as chairman of the conference committee on the 
2006 Pension Protection Act that saved pensions for thousands of 
workers without wholesale business bankruptcy.
  I also authored the 2006 Pension Protection Act, which dramatically 
altered the funding rules and made single-employer pension plans much 
more stable. The act also made significant changes to defined 
contribution plans that drastically improved participation. I believe 
it is safe to say I speak from my experience as a Member of this body, 
with a large background in pension policy, and I am concerned about 
where we are heading.
  Out of the 24,361 single-employer pension plans that we have 
information on, 4,486 are underfunded. The most recent actuarial 
estimations of the underfunding by the Pension Benefit Guaranty 
Corporation is over $758 billion. That should concern us because the 
assets of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's single-employer 
insurance program are $85 billion. Let's see. Single-employer pensions 
are underfunded by $758 billion. That is

[[Page S4957]]

rounding it down, actually. It should be $759 billion, with assets of 
$85 billion.
  Let me say that another way and say it again. The insurance program 
for that $758 billion only has $85 billion in assets. That is not even 
our biggest pension problem. Out of the 1,361 multiemployer pension 
plans, that means the collectively bargained agreements we have 
information on, 1,238 are underfunded. The most recent actuarial 
estimations of that underfunding is just over $611 billion.
  What are the assets of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation? They 
are $1.9 billion. In other words, the safety net for $611 billion is 
one and nine-tenths billion. I would equate that to trying to catching 
a whale shark with a net made for minnows.
  This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The PBGC wrote in its 
2015 annual report that ``it is more likely than not that the 
multiemployer program's assets will be depleted in 2025.'' The 
insurance policy for collectively bargained pensions is on track to 
become insolvent in less than a decade. In fact, if the Central States 
Pension Fund goes under, it will reduce that amount considerably.
  Altogether, private sector pensions are underfunded by $1.35 
trillion, or to put it in better perspective, $1,350 billion. On top of 
that, per the most recent actuarial data available for State and local 
pensions, the total amount of underfunding in public sector pension 
plans is $1.2 trillion, or $1,200 billion.
  The total amount of unfunded liabilities in both private and public 
sector pension plans is around $2,600 billion. That means these pension 
plans have agreed to pay out $2.6 trillion more than they have 
available. For reference, $2.6 trillion is $2,600 billion. It is more 
than double what our current annual spending is that Congress gets to 
make decisions on. That includes defense, transportation, agriculture, 
and education--twice what we spend on the things we get to make 
decisions on.
  I have heard from some of my colleagues who have come to the Senate 
floor and speak to the troubling predicaments of specific pension 
plans. Many of them are currently advocating for shoring up the United 
Mine Workers of America pension plan, which is just one of the 1,238 
union pension plans that are underfunded. I am concerned about this for 
several reasons.
  First, if we take the steps my colleagues are advocating for with 
regard to the United Mine Workers of America, what are we going to do 
with the next underfunded pension plan that comes around looking for 
assistance? What about the plan after that? There are hundreds of 
private-sector pension plans in critical and declining or endangered 
status throughout America today so I am not sure how Congress would 
help the United Mine Workers of America and not the others. 
Paraphrasing President Washington: We are walking on untrodden ground. 
There is scarcely any part of our conduct which may not hereafter be 
drawn into precedent.
  I have frequently heard my colleagues try to differentiate this case 
by speaking of a promise of a pension that was made to retirees in this 
particular union, but that agreement was between the members and the 
union. It was not an agreement with the Federal Government.
  Second, I find it necessary to remind my colleagues this country is 
$19 trillion in debt and consistently increasing its spending. We don't 
have the money to shore up pension plans. To be clear, despite 
proponents arguing that this legislation is paid for by coal companies' 
contributions to the Abandoned Mine Land Trust, in reality, it would be 
paid for by the taxpayers.
  The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act is funded by a tax 
levied on mining operators per tonnage of coal harvested. Interest from 
the abandoned mine land fund can be transferred to three trusts to 
support United Mineworkers' health care benefits of orphaned miners. 
Orphaned miners are those whose companies no longer exist but whose 
health plans still exist. If the abandoned mine land interest does not 
cover these health care costs, the three United Mine Workers' health 
care plans are entitled to payments from the U.S. Treasury.
  The AML interest payments are often not sufficient to meet the three 
United Mine Workers' health care plans' needs so the general fund of 
the Treasury provides the balance. For example, in fiscal year 2012, 
interest from the abandoned mine land fund paid $48.4 million toward 
the health care funds, and the U.S. Treasury general fund, the taxpayer 
dollars, provided $205.6 million. The AML interest cannot take on 
another obligation. Now my colleagues are asking taxpayers to pay even 
more than the health care for the United Mine Workers' beneficiaries.
  The portion of funds coming from the U.S. Treasury will only 
increase. As I mentioned, the AML trust is funded by a tax levied on 
coal harvested. The key word is ``harvested.'' It breaks my heart to 
say this, but according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 
U.S. coal production, or harvesting, is projected to be down over 25 
percent this year compared to 2014. In large part, that is due to the 
mercury air toxics standards rule, the stream protection rule, the 
Clean Power Plan, the freeze on Federal coal leases, the proposed 
increase in coal royalty rates, and everything else the administration 
is doing to shut down coal. Less coal being harvested means less taxes 
will be paid into the abandoned mine land trust fund. As those 
abandoned mine land dollars dry up, more and more of the money this 
bill proposes to use for United Mine Workers' health care and pensions 
will come from taxpayer dollars.
  Again, I will point out this agreement was made between the members 
and the union, not between the members and the American taxpayer. That 
bears repeating. The United Mine Workers of America agreement was made 
between the members and the United Mine Workers of America, not between 
the members and the American taxpayer.
  It is also worth noting that the AML fund is not unique in that it is 
comprised of fees paid by a specific industry or user base. One of the 
most significant pension problems we hear about today is the Central 
States Pension Fund, which I mentioned earlier and which includes a 
large number of truckers. That fund is going broke. So I will offer my 
colleagues an analogy using that fund. To be sure that there are roads 
to drive on, trucking companies pay a higher tax on their diesel fuel 
as well as taxes on truck and trailer sales, heavy tires, and heavy 
vehicle usage. Together with a tax that all consumers pay on every 
gallon of gasoline purchased, these taxes fund the highway trust fund. 
This trust fund for highways builds roads and pays for repairs and new 
bridges that the trucking industry and all drivers rely on. Using a 
dwindling AML trust fund to shore up the United Mine Workers of America 
pension would be like shoring up the Central States Pension Fund with 
the fund that builds highways because truckers pay into the highway 
fund. That is what the United Mine Workers of America is asking us to 
  My guess is that, if we examined all of the pension plans in critical 
and declining or endangered status, we could probably identify a fund 
that relevant employers or employees paid into in some way. If we go 
down this road, what is to stop those funds from being raided to shore 
up the quasi-related pensions? Where do we draw the line?
  Lastly, I worry about the claims that we are helping all coal miners 
with this proposal when, in reality, the policy does absolutely nothing 
for miners who are not members of the United Mine Workers of America. 
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 11,000 workers in the 
coal industry have lost their jobs in the last year, largely due to 
this administration's policies. Yet my colleagues have proposed a bill 
that would help only a portion of those people, and the bill wouldn't 
help put those folks back to work, developing the energy source that 
generated 33 percent of America's electricity last year. Instead, 
proponents of this bill are saying: If you are a member of the United 
Mine Workers of America, we want to help you with your health care 
benefits and pensions, but if you are not or if you want your job back, 
then too bad.
  I am not without sympathy for the United Mine Workers of America's 
coal miners. Remember, I helped the miners get their health care. Coal 
miners play an integral part in our economy, and my colleagues have 
heard me say time and again that America runs on coal. Nowhere is that 
more evident than in

[[Page S4958]]

my home State of Wyoming, which produces 40 percent of the Nation's 
coal. In fact, we produce more coal than the second through the sixth 
States in coal production combined.
  I have the deepest respect for coal miners and am worried about those 
who have been laid off in Wyoming and across the country. I understand 
the unique health care needs of miners, and I respect the health care 
promise this country has made to the miners over many decades. I have 
supported those health care needs in the past, most specifically by 
working across the aisle to shore up the three United Mine Workers of 
America's health care funds back in the mid-2000s. I believe it is 
important that coal miners continue to receive quality health care. I 
also believe it is crucial that they, as well as all Americans, have 
the opportunity to live out their retirement years in financial 
solvency, but I also want America to remain financially solvent. I 
don't believe the efforts of my colleagues advocating for this United 
Mine Workers of America bill help the mine workers in a way that is 
fair to the Federal taxpayers or to the other coal miners across 
America. I also know the troubling truth about some of America's 
pension plans, as I pointed out on this chart, that are underfunded, as 
well as the faces of the participants within those plans. I have met 
with them and heard their stories throughout my professional life. 
There are facets of our retirement system that we can fix to help 
retirees, but I remain concerned about the use of Federal tax dollars 
to shore up specific pension plans and to make false promises.
  I thank the Presiding Officer, and I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Flake). Without objection, it is so 

                  Unanimous Consent Request--H.R. 5243

  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, I come to the floor for the purpose of 
making a unanimous consent request with regard to Zika.
  I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration 
of H.R. 5243, which is at the desk; that all after the enacting clause 
be stricken; that the substitute amendment, which is the text of the 
Blunt-Murray amendment to provide $1.1 billion of funding for Zika, be 
agreed to; that there be up to 1 hour of debate equally divided between 
the two leaders or their designees; that upon the use or yielding back 
of time, the bill, as amended, be read a third time and the Senate vote 
on passage of the bill, as amended, with no intervening action or 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

  Unanimous Consent Request--Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 2577

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, let me 
just walk through this one more time in case anybody is confused about 
where we are.
  As I said yesterday, Republican Senators are eager to pass the 
conference report which is before us and send it to the President's 
desk for signature. We should do that today--this very day. That would 
accomplish several important things before we leave for the week. 
First, it would provide $1.1 billion in immediate funding to combat 
Zika. That is the exact amount of money in the Democrats' request. 
However, the Democrats' request includes only funding for Zika and 
leaves the rest of the important priorities behind.
  The conference report that the House passed includes full funding for 
Zika, funding for military construction, funding for veterans programs, 
and temporary but meaningful reforms to ensure that we are able to 
combat mosquito-borne illnesses during the summer months, which are 
upon us.
  We should pass the conference report today--this very day. Therefore, 
I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of 
the conference report to accompany H.R. 2577 and that the conference 
report be agreed to with no intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, reserving the right to object--first of 
all, did I hear an objection from the majority leader to my unanimous 
consent request?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader has not yet objected.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I believe I reserved the right to 
object and then offered an alternative unanimous consent request to 
which I think the Senator from Florida is about to respond.
  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, now here we 
are in the same old political games. With a much needed bill, MILCON-
VA--a very good bill--attaching a Zika bill that is loaded down with 
poison pills, that takes away family planning funds and also takes 
money out of the Affordable Care Act. So here again it is the same 
political games, and for that reason, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard to the majority leader's 
  Is there objection to the request of the Senator from Florida?
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object--and I 
will be objecting--let me just say to my good friend from Florida that 
regardless of the substantive arguments he is making, as a practical 
matter, if we were to repass the Senate bill, it would not pass the 
House, so it would not achieve the result we are looking for. So I 
guess who is playing political games is in the eye of the beholder.
  If we want to get an outcome, if we want to get $1.1 billion 
appropriated to combat Zika and do it now, and if we want to fund the 
military construction bill, the proposal the Senator from Florida is 
asking for will not achieve that; therefore, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, I would just say to the majority leader 
that one of the items in his proposal takes money away from Puerto 
Rico. By seeing the unanimous vote we had--not unanimous--the 
overwhelming vote last week for the financial assistance plan to help 
Puerto Rico get out of its financial woes--part of those financial woes 
is in the health care sector. We know that experts have told us that 20 
percent of the population of Puerto Rico is estimated to be infected 
with the Zika virus by the end of this summer. So there is just one 
example of why we should not take an approach that is taking money out 
of the Affordable Care Act and taking money away from family planning, 
but specifically with regard to its effect upon Puerto Rico.

  As I shared with the Senate last week, I represent the State that had 
11 new cases of the Zika virus last week. Well, lo and behold, we now 
have 13 more new cases, bringing the total in our State to 276, which 
includes 43 pregnant women, and that is just one of the 50 States in 
the Union, not including the territories. The number of cases being 
reported across the country continues to rise. There have been seven 
infants born in the United States with Zika-related birth defects, and 
you know what I am talking about because you have seen the pictures of 
how, when the virus attacks the fetus in its development, it does not 
allow the development properly of the head and of the brain.
  Right now in America, the CDC is monitoring 599 pregnant women. 
Public health experts estimate that caring for a child born with Zika-
related microcephaly could amount to $10 million in medical costs over 
that child's lifetime. That is just speaking about the dollars; that is 
not talking about the tragedy. By that estimate, it would cost up to $2 
billion to care for 200 children born with microcephaly. That is $100 
million more than the amount this Senator and the minority leader had 
asked for in the first place, reflecting the President's request of 
$1.9 billion that the experts say is needed to curb the spread of the 
virus. That request was made 4 months ago, and we still haven't done 
anything about it.
  At what point do the majority and the majority leader decide to stop 
playing these games and simply do what is needed?
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, will my friend yield for a question?
  Mr. NELSON. Of course.
  Mr. REID. Is it true that your family first came to Florida in 1829 
or somewhere in there--a long time ago?

[[Page S4959]]


  Mr. NELSON. Can the Senator ask that again? I cannot hear.
  Mr. REID. Is it true that your family came to the State of Florida 
around the turn of the 19th century?
  Mr. NELSON. Through the Chair, Mr. President, I would answer the 
Senator. Yes, my family came to Florida right after Florida was 
acquired as a territory from Spain.
  Mr. REID. Is it true that during your lifetime, you have served in 
various elected offices in the State of Florida. You were, as I recall, 
the State treasurer, which included insurance commissioner, and you 
represented the State of Florida in the House of Representatives; is 
that true?
  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, that is true.
  Mr. REID. And you have been in this body since 2000; is that true?
  Mr. NELSON. For 15\1/2\ years, that is true.
  Mr. REID. Is it also true that during your tenure as a Floridian, you 
had the good fortune to be an American astronaut?
  Mr. NELSON. Not only the good fortune but the great privilege, and 
now I have the opportunity to work on the policy for the Nation's space 
  Mr. REID. The point I am trying to outline here for the Senator from 
Florida, I think, without any stretch of the imagination, that you know 
the State of Florida pretty well, don't you?
  Mr. NELSON. The good Lord willing, I know it pretty much like the 
back of my hand.
  Mr. REID. And you understand as much, if not more, than anyone else 
the dangers of these mosquitoes that are ravaging your State and other 
States and, of course, the American citizens of Puerto Rico; is that 
  Mr. NELSON. Yes, sir. And I know that mosquitoes are all over 
Florida, but now this one strain of mosquito, the aegypti, for dinner 
feeds not on one human but on four. If the mosquito has the Zika virus, 
each of those four would then be infected with the virus after the 
mosquito has had its dinner.
  Mr. REID. And you understand, I ask the Senator from Florida, that 
for generations of time, mosquitoes have caused all kinds of medical 
problems for people who are infected from different bites from 
mosquitoes; is that right?
  Mr. NELSON. If you think of the building of the Panama Canal, 
mosquitoes transmitted malaria. So mosquitoes are a vector which 
transmits a lot of diseases. This strain of mosquito can lay its larvae 
in stagnant water contained in something as small as a bottle cap.
  Mr. REID. It is true, is it not, that in generations past, mosquitoes 
have caused death and illness that we have tried to handle for the last 
100 years?
  Mr. NELSON. That is correct, and we usually meet those emergencies 
with emergency funding.
  Mr. REID. Isn't it true that this strain of mosquito is now causing, 
for the first time in history that we know of, not only death and 
sickness but also causing women to give birth to babies who are very 
  Mr. NELSON. There is a direct link, I would say, Mr. President, in 
response to the Senator, between a pregnant woman being infected with 
the Zika virus and the probability that she will deliver a child who is 
  Mr. REID. Is the Senator aware that what we passed out of here by 89 
votes was $1.1 billion in emergency funding for the State of Florida 
and the rest of our States and, of course, the citizens of Puerto Rico?
  Mr. NELSON. Not only that, but with bipartisan support early on in 
this whole dialogue. And now we are seeing the resistance of the 
majority leader to take up the very bill that passed with those 
overwhelming numbers of bipartisan support.
  Mr. REID. And the Senator is aware that what we got back from the 
House of Representatives and what this Republican Senate signed on to 
is a bill that is an abomination. Is the Senator aware that what it 
does, among other things, is it allows the flying of Confederate flags 
at cemeteries; it takes $543 million from ObamaCare; it takes money 
from emergencies we have today with Ebola? Is the Senator aware that 
they are taking a whack at the Clean Water Act with our inability to 
spray? Is the Senator aware that there are so many women who go to 
Planned Parenthood to handle the problems that women have, including 
wanting help to not get pregnant? Are you aware that the legislation 
they sent back to us prevents Planned Parenthood from being involved in 
  Mr. NELSON. It is a political message that is so reviled by the 
people of America. They want us to get down to the business.
  If Senator McConnell had a flood or an earthquake in Kentucky, we 
would all support him with emergency funding to meet that emergency. We 
have an emergency now. Why are they adding all of these poison pills, 
such as those the Democratic leader has just enumerated, in this bill?
  Mr. President, I think the Senator from Nevada has with his cross-
examination exposed exactly what the problem is, and it is too bad. The 
clock continues to tick. At the end of this week, we will go out. We 
won't come back until the day after Labor Day, which is in the first 
week of September. And all along, the Government of the United States 
is going to have to figure out how it will get the money to the local 
mosquito control districts and how it will get the money to the drug 
companies to continue the R&D to find and produce a vaccine and all the 
other health-related expenses.
  Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield through the Chair for a question?
  Mr. NELSON. I certainly will yield to the Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Through the Chair, I would ask the Senator from Florida 
whether it is true that it has been 5 months since President Obama 
declared this public health emergency and asked the Congress to respond 
to that emergency in a timely way. He asked for emergency funding of 
$1.9 billion for mosquito abatement, for medical research, for 
expanding lab facilities, and for investing in developing a vaccine to 
protect Americans, if not this year, next year.
  Mr. NELSON. It is true, and not only is it true that the President 
requested it, but immediately, a whole bunch of us out here filed a 
bill and brought it to the attention of the Senate, and it is now 5 
months later.
  Mr. DURBIN. I ask the Senator through the Chair, in dealing with a 
public health emergency, a public health crisis, the potential of an 
epidemic that we now think could infect 25 percent of the population of 
Puerto Rico, is a timely response an important part of the 
congressional response?
  Mr. NELSON. Amen to that, and here we are dithering with these 
political games. We wonder why the American public is so turned off 
when they see what is going on up here, and here is one of the very 
best examples of an emergency.
  Mr. DURBIN. I ask the Senator--and I see my colleague, Senator Murray 
of Washington, on the floor, who is in a very important position, and 
she is going to address this issue in a few moments. But is it not true 
that we worked out a bipartisan compromise in the Senate--not to give 
$1.9 billion, which, on the Democratic side, is our aspiration, but at 
least to agree with the Republicans in the Senate to $1.1 billion to 
respond to the President's request for an emergency response; and that 
we passed the bill in the Senate with 89 votes--an overwhelming 
bipartisan vote--with an agreement and a compromise in May, and this 
was sent over to the House of Representatives in May of this year?
  Mr. NELSON. Not only is it true, but with 100 Senators, when 
something passes with 89 votes, that is a pretty strong consensus.
  Mr. DURBIN. I would ask the Senator through the Chair--so we have the 
President identifying a public health emergency and the President 
telling us--and the CDC as well--that delaying this makes a possibility 
or probability of an epidemic even worse. We have a response by the 
Senate, on a bipartisan basis with 89 votes, to provide over $1 billion 
for the President to get to work to protect America and to develop a 
vaccine. And is it not true that the House was given this measure with 
89 votes and failed to send it back to us on a timely basis?
  Mr. NELSON. Not only is that true, those four things, but then the 
House of Representatives put it on a very good bill, the MILCON 
appropriations, and they sent it down here thinking that we were going 
to have to take it at the eleventh hour with all of those poison pills, 
which include the Confederate flag.

[[Page S4960]]


  Mr. DURBIN. I ask the Senator from Florida, through the Chair, is it 
also true that the bill sent to us by the House, after we passed a 
bipartisan bill with 89 votes, had no Democratic signatories--no House 
Members of the Democratic Party signing onto this conference report 
that was sent over to us--so it was a totally Republican conference 
  Mr. NELSON. Not only is that true, but it is also indicative of how 
ideologically driven and how partisan driven so much of the activity 
here in this Capitol building is, which is what is very distasteful to 
the American people.
  Mr. DURBIN. I ask the Senator from Florida, through the Chair, is it 
also not true, based on the statements made by the Republican majority 
leader, Senator McConnell of Kentucky, that he is going to give us one 
last chance in the next 48 hours to either take this partisan version 
of the bill, addressing this public health crisis, or do nothing for 
the next 7 weeks?
  Mr. NELSON. That, of course, I say to the Senator from Illinois, is 
such a poor, poor choice.
  Mr. DURBIN. I would ask the Senator from Florida my last question. I 
know my other colleagues are waiting to ask questions. Your State, the 
State of Florida, appears to be vulnerable--more vulnerable than most 
States--because of your proximity to Puerto Rico and other places and 
the number of travelers coming into the State of Florida from areas 
where we know for certain that the Zika virus is starting to be 
manifest. I ask the Senator from Florida: What are you hearing back in 
your State about the need for a timely, bipartisan effort in Congress 
to deal with the public health crisis of the Zika virus?
  Mr. NELSON. I say to the Senator from Illinois, with 276 cases of 
infection, with 43 pregnant women that we know of just in the State of 
Florida, is it any wonder that 5 months ago, when we filed the $1.9 
billion request of the administration, my colleague from Florida, my 
friend who I get along with, the junior Senator, Mr. Rubio, cosponsored 
the bill with me.
  Mr. DURBIN. Well, I said it was the last question. I will ask one 
more, if I may, through the Chair. I would ask the Senator from Florida 
this: So you have Senator Rubio, a well-known Republican from Florida, 
and Senator Bill Nelson, maybe the best known Democrat from Florida, 
agreeing that this is an emergency that needs to be dealt with on a 
timely basis, that the President's request for $1.9 billion is a 
reasonable request, that we pass a bipartisan measure--Senate Democrats 
and Senate Republicans--and that we are moving toward solving this 
problem and responding to it. Is it not true that this measure fell 
apart or broke down when it ended up in the Republican-controlled House 
of Representatives, where they did not take a bipartisan approach to 
the issue?
  Mr. NELSON. Not only is that true, I say to the Senator, but there is 
the fact that this is an emergency, which has always been dealt with in 
the history of this Senate as a bipartisan thing to meet the situation 
of the emergency, and now this has been used--because it is so urgent 
to get the appropriations--as a political message and ideological, 
partisan-driven bill.
  Mr. DURBIN. I thank the Senator
  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New York.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I want to thank my colleague from Florida 
for his leadership on this issue and the Senators from Nevada and 
Illinois for their great questions illuminating us.
  I am just going to sum up here in a minute. If the Republican leader 
wants to get something done, instead of putting this bill on the floor 
again, he would go over to the House and tell them to vote for the 
bipartisan bill that he voted for and we all voted for of $1.1 billion. 
I say something else to my friend from Kentucky. When he was in the 
minority, he kept saying to us: Leadership means working together.
  Well, he is in charge now. We have a crisis. Instead of working 
together, he is putting a bill on the floor that had no input from our 
side and that doesn't do the job and is loaded with poison pills. Is 
that leadership? Does that show that the Senate is working again? He is 
back to the old ways when we have a crisis. Again, if the majority 
leader of this body wanted to get something done about Zika, he would 
ask the House to pass our bipartisan bill.
  Instead, he puts the same political document on the floor that shows 
no leadership, that shows no bipartisanship, and that will not pass. So 
there is no drama. There is no suspense. I don't even know why he is 
doing it again, but probably because he knows there is a crisis and he 
is unwilling, reluctant, afraid, to confront the House with their 
gamesmanship that was driven by 40 Freedom Caucus members who don't 
believe the government should spend money on anything.
  The only way he could get the votes was to put in all these poison 
pills which he knew would kill the bill to begin with. So the bottom 
line is very simple. If the House would put our bipartisan bill on the 
floor of the House it would pass right now. We would get something 
done. Instead, the very bipartisanship that the majority leader is 
trying to make as a hallmark of his leadership is being made a joke of 
by his putting a partisan bill that has failed once on the floor once 
again in the closing days of this session.
  I would urge the majority leader--it is really on his shoulders--to 
reconsider. I would urge him to make a good faith effort to get 
something done. I would urge him not to play the game of putting this 
bill, laden with poison pills, not doing the job, on the floor, and, 
instead, go call Speaker Ryan and say: We have to get something done. 
Let's do something in a bipartisan way.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I too want to thank the Senator from 
Florida for his strong effort to get this done. I thank my colleagues 
who are here speaking as well. There are just a few days left in this 
legislative session. I am so frustrated that instead of finally coming 
out of their partisan corner and getting to work to fight the Zika 
virus, Republican leaders, as we just saw, have doubled down on their 
politics-first approach.
  It has been more than 5 months since President Obama first put 
forward a strong emergency funding proposal to respond to Zika. Rather 
than giving that proposal a serious consideration, Republicans simply 
refused to even consider it. Instead, they found excuse after excuse, 
delay after delay, and refused to listen to public health experts and 
women and families who made it clear that Congress needed to act.
  They tried to jam a partisan, political bill through Congress on the 
way out of town on the Fourth of July. Now, look, as we just heard, it 
was a bill that included harmful, political provisions on everything 
from women's health to the Confederate flag to the environment.
  Now, as this Republican-controlled Congress is headed out of town 
again, Republicans are somehow trying to claim that they have done 
everything they need to do when it comes to Zika. They are saying that 
by putting forward now a partisan bill full of harmful and unnecessary 
policy riders, they can throw up their hands and go home.
  Well, that might be how Republicans in Congress want it to work, but 
the women and families I talk to could not disagree more. They are 
worried about what this virus could mean to their families. They want 
Congress to take action. Republicans should know that Democrats are 
going to keep pushing until that happens. It is especially frustrating 
that, despite all of the partisanship and tea party pandering we have 
seen from the other side of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats in 
this Senate did reach an agreement on Zika 2 months ago that got the 
support of every Democrat and nearly half of the Republicans--89 votes.
  It did not provide the full amount President Obama requested, but it 
would have been a strong down payment. It would have helped to 
accelerate the development of a vaccine. It would strengthen vector 
control in communities across the United States and the territories and 
critically expand access to desperately needed family planning and 
other health care services.
  Had Republicans been willing to stay the bipartisan course that we 
set and push aside the extreme members who insist on using women's 
health every time as a political football, that agreement would now 
have been signed into

[[Page S4961]]

law, and it would be on its way to communities, as we speak. I am 
deeply frustrated that has not happened.
  This is truly urgent. In fact, just last week, the Puerto Rico 
Department of Health noted a 40-percent increase in the number of 
pregnant women with Zika on the island. So, frankly, it is appalling 
that given what we know about the impacts of this virus, Republicans 
would put an ideological, partisan bill in front of us and say: My way 
or the highway. That is why today Democrats are here giving Republicans 
another chance to do the right thing. We are urging them to support 
women and families instead of the tea party and Heritage Action and 
join us to get a strong bipartisan emergency funding package to 
communities at risk because of the Zika virus.
  This bill has already passed the Senate, as we know, with 89 votes. 
Democrats supported it. Most Republicans supported it. So we are here 
to urge Republican leaders: Don't waste another minute. Join us in 
moving a bipartisan bill forward. Women and families across the country 
have waited long enough for action on Zika. Let's not make them wait 
any longer.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.

                           Tragedy in Dallas

  Ms. AYOTTE. Mr. President, I rise today to offer my thoughts and 
prayers to the five Dallas police officers and their families who were 
killed in the line of duty on July 7, 2016. I want to recognize them on 
the Senate floor for the sacrifices they have made, for their heroic 
service to protect the people of Dallas, and also to recognize our law 
enforcement officers for what they do every single day on our behalf.
  On July 7, 2016, unfortunately, killed in the line of duty--adding to 
the rollcall, and whose names will be added to the Law Enforcement 
Memorial in Washington--are Sergeant Michael Smith, a former Army 
Ranger who also served our Nation and who had been with the department 
since 1989; Senior Corporal Lorne Ahrens, 48, who had been with the 
department since 2002; Officer Michael Krol, 40, who had been with the 
department since 2007; Officer Patrick Zamarripa, 32, a former Navy 
Seal and Iraq war veteran, who had been with the department since 2011; 
DART Officer Bart Thompson, 43, a former marine who had been with the 
department since 2009. Thompson was the first DART officer who was 
killed in the line of duty since the department's inception in 1989.
  Having served as attorney general for the State of New Hampshire, we 
have, unfortunately, been through this with our law enforcement 
officers in New Hampshire when we lose an officer in the line of duty. 
This is such a tragedy for the Dallas community, but it is a tragedy 
for our country. So, today, we stand with those mourning in Dallas. We 
stand with the law enforcement community. We stand with all of those 
who serve our Nation because they go out every single day when we are 
home with our families and on holidays.
  When we are home late at night, when we are sleeping, they are out in 
the streets patrolling, keeping us safe, the ``Thin Blue Line'' between 
us and those who want to do us harm.
  So, as we look at what is happening around our Nation, law 
enforcement is the solution to bringing us together. They work in our 
communities every single day. I have seen the phenomenal work that our 
law enforcement community does in New Hampshire. I have been to the 
Police Athletic League and seen what they are doing with the youth in 
our community. I have seen the outreach they do every day on this 
horrible drug epidemic that we are facing in the State of New 
Hampshire. I have seen the difficult situations they face with those 
struggling with mental illness--every single challenge they are taking 
on in our communities.
  So, today, let's remember those five brave officers who gave their 
lives in the line of duty, and let's remember all those who have given 
their lives in the line of duty to keep us safe every single day. 
Without our brave law enforcement officers, we would not be able to 
enjoy the freedoms we have and not be able to enjoy our own families 
and our way of life. So we are grateful to all of those who serve. We 
stand with you. We thank you for what you do every single day on our 
  To your family members, we say to you as well, thank you, because 
families do serve as well. And when your loved ones go out on our 
streets to keep us safe, we know you worry about their safe return. So 
we stand with you as well, and we say thank you for your service and 
sacrifice to keep the rest of us safe.

  Mr. President, I would also like to speak today about a very 
important piece of legislation that I hope we will be considering on 
the Senate floor this week. I rise in support of the conference report 
for a critical piece of legislation called the Comprehensive Addiction 
and Recovery Act, otherwise known as CARA. I have now been working on 
this piece of legislation with Senators Portman, Whitehouse, and 
Klobuchar for about 2 years, and I thank them for their leadership on 
this legislation and their partnership in the work we have done, along 
with hundreds of coalition groups that have helped us put this 
legislation together.
  CARA passed this body in March by a vote of 94 to 1. Not much passes 
the Senate with a vote of 94 to 1. Numbers like that speak volumes to 
the fact that every community is facing a heroin and opioid epidemic 
right now, and we need to take national action. And after conferencing 
the Senate version with a package of House bills related to opioid 
abuse, just this past Friday the House of Representatives passed the 
conference report by an overwhelming vote of 407 to 5--407 to 5 in the 
House of Representatives.
  Those are very powerful numbers in support of this legislation, but I 
want to touch on the numbers that matter the most and why we need to 
act on this legislation--numbers like 129, the number of people who die 
each day in our country from a drug overdose; or 248, the number of 
stakeholder groups who have endorsed the final version of CARA because 
they know it takes the right legislative approach to fighting back 
against this public health crisis. That number includes some groups 
from my home State of New Hampshire whom I have had the honor of 
working with. I appreciate so much their phenomenal work on the 
frontlines in helping those struggling with addiction, including HOPE 
for New Hampshire Recovery; Hope on Haven Hill; the Kingston Lions Club 
in Kingston, NH; and Project Recovery in Newton, NH. And I know there 
are many other individuals and groups on the frontlines in New 
Hampshire who are making a difference.
  CARA is also supported by nearly 40 chiefs of police from across our 
State, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, and the 
National Fraternal Order of Police because our law enforcement knows we 
need a comprehensive response. I have heard so many times from our 
police officers that we cannot arrest our way out of this public health 
  Another number never far from my mind is 439--the number of 
individuals in my home State of New Hampshire who died from a drug 
overdose last year. And just this year alone, 2016, 161 have died. So 
unfortunately we are looking at even greater numbers with what we see 
happening on the streets of New Hampshire.
  I will never forget those numbers because they are so much more than 
numbers; they are the lives of loved ones we have lost, and they 
represent the overwhelming heartbreak felt by too many families.
  Every time I am out in New Hampshire, I have another family, 
unfortunately, whom I meet and who tells me about their story of losing 
someone they loved or a loved one they are trying to get help for who 
is struggling with addiction. That is why in this debate we must give a 
voice to those who no longer have a voice of their own. We must put 
faces, names, and stories to this epidemic because it is affecting 
families and communities all across our country.
  I want to share some stories from those in New Hampshire who are 
driving us to take action. In passing CARA, we are remembering them, 
and we are honoring them and making a change that can help save lives. 
We are making sure we have the right legislative framework in place as 
we push for more funding to get to the States to address this epidemic. 
I am spurred to action by these stories, and it is my hope that by 
sharing this here today, my colleagues will join me in passing this 

[[Page S4962]]

  I just spoke to a woman yesterday from Plaistow, NH--Kathy. Kathy's 
son Thomas was a hero in his local community. He was compassionate and 
caring to his peers and even helped a fellow student who was living 
alone in the woods rededicate himself to studying and eventually 
graduate. He literally went out in the woods to find a homeless student 
and brought him into his home.
  Around 7 years ago, this bright young man became addicted to 
painkillers. This is a story we hear all too often. He had an injury, 
he became addicted to painkillers, and his family was shocked at how 
many pills he was legally prescribed for his back pain. It wasn't long 
before he turned to something else--heroin.
  In fact, the national data shows that four out of five people who 
turn to heroin actually started with misusing or overusing prescription 
  Thomas's life, unfortunately, took a turn for the worse, and he spent 
time in jail before eventually passing away from an overdose.
  When I spoke with Kathy, she told me that more needs to be done to 
help others struggling with a substance use disorder. She wants to see 
more resources for early education. She wants to fight back against the 
stigma associated with addiction.
  In having this debate on the Senate floor, that is something we need 
to turn around--the stigma. This is a public health crisis. This is a 
disease, and we need to get help for those struggling with addiction.
  But Kathy is not alone. A woman in Goffstown wrote to me after losing 
her brother to a heroin overdose:

       From here forward, we will never have another holiday where 
     our family is complete. At Thanksgiving, when our close, 
     loving family gathers, there will be an empty seat where he 
     once sat. An unfilled stocking at Christmas will remind us of 
     the void we feel each day. Come his 25th birthday this year, 
     we will visit his grave site where he is buried instead of 
     hugging him in our arms and wishing him another wonderful 

  A father in Brentwood, NH, lost his son to an overdose and told me:

       I cannot describe the pain, feeling of helplessness and 
     grave despair [my wife] and I went through upon finding our 
     son dead. This has been a tragedy we in the end were not able 
     to fix, and a war we were not able to win. Our son is now 
     part of the statistics.

  A woman in Wakefield wrote that her niece's dreams were crushed when 
she became addicted to heroin. She wrote:

       Her death has left the family heartbroken, and we have 
     chosen to tell everyone the truth in hopes that her death 
     will not have been in vain.

  A mother in Manchester said:

       I wake up every morning with the fear of finding my son 
     dead. I am crying out for help.

  A mother from Greenville, NH, who spends her days helping people 
living with substance abuse disorders only to come home and see her own 
son struggling with using heroin, told me:

       As I tried to comfort those who have been affected by this 
     tragedy, I think that my son will be next.

  In Laconia, a man helps those struggling to get treatment, but he 
feels helpless when he is faced with a 5-month waiting period to get 
into a facility. He wrote:

       In 5 months, these individuals will be dead.

  A parent from Salem contacted me and told me her son is struggling 
with heroin addiction, and she needed help finding a treatment program 
for him since she couldn't afford to pay for treatment herself, like 
the mother of these three children who had to revive her son from an 
overdose before the paramedics could arrive, or like the Griffin 
family, Pam and Doug and Shannon Griffin from Newton, NH, whom I have 
gotten to know well. The Griffin family lost their beautiful 20-year-
old daughter Courtney to a fentanyl and heroin overdose. Courtney's 
father, Doug Griffin, and his wife, Pam, have made it their life's 
mission to raise awareness about this terrible epidemic to help save 
lives and help others going through the same difficulty and tragedy.
  Doug and so many other dedicated people in New Hampshire are working 
tirelessly to turn the tide against this epidemic. Earlier this year, I 
met with families from New Hampshire who actually traveled to 
Washington to urge Congress to take up and pass CARA. If we don't act, 
what kind of message are we sending to these families who need our help 
and need us to act? That is why we need CARA and we need to ensure this 
framework is passed.
  CARA authorizes resources for treatment, prevention, recovery, and 
first responders--critical facets of a comprehensive approach. And CARA 
is an authorizing vehicle. Some have made this argument around here: 
Why should we pass an authorization vehicle if the funding is not 
attached? Under that reasoning, we wouldn't have passed the Violence 
Against Women Act, we wouldn't have passed the Head Start Program, we 
wouldn't have passed a program for vaccines for children, we wouldn't 
have passed the Second Chance Act, and there are so many more. The 
reality is that in the appropriations bill there have been increases in 
funding for CARA, and we are going to fight for even more increases in 
funding. In fact, at the end of the day, the Senate appropriations 
bills include a 46-percent increase in spending on opioid addiction 
programs since last year. So we can do more, but if we don't pass CARA, 
then we will do a great disservice to the American people.
  President Obama's Director of the Office of National Drug Policy, 
Michael Botticelli, told me at a hearing in New Hampshire last year: 
``Certainly the CARA Act, I think, highlights many of the issues and 
fills really critical gaps not only in terms of funding but in terms of 
policy around this issue.''
  Mr. President, I hope this is not a partisan issue. Unfortunately, we 
know, whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent--it 
doesn't matter what your political background is--we have so many 
families in New Hampshire and across this country who are struggling 
with addiction, and it is time for us to rise above the politics and 
pass this important legislation.
  I again thank Senator Portman. I thank Senator Klobuchar and Senator 
Whitehouse for the passion and leadership they have shown on this 
  There is an urgent and pressing need for this legislation, and I call 
on my colleagues to come together and make sure we duplicate what 
happened in the House of Representatives, where there was an 
overwhelming vote to pass this legislation, so we can get it to the 
President's desk and make sure this legislation is funded.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Republican leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, before the Senator from New Hampshire 
leaves the floor, I just want to say again what I said previously. We 
wouldn't be where we are today on the Comprehensive Addiction and 
Recovery Act without the Senator from New Hampshire, who made an 
extraordinary contribution to this early on and played an important 
leadership role. So on behalf of all Members of the Senate, Republicans 
and Democrats, I want to thank the Senator from New Hampshire for all 
she did to bring this forward.