(Senate - July 13, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 113 (Wednesday, July 13, 2016)]
[Pages S5020-S5022]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. REID. Mr. President, the Republican leader celebrates the opioid 
legislation and the FAA bill, but both are missed opportunities. There 
is no funding in the opioid bill. There were editorials all over the 
country yesterday about that. I read here on the Senate floor, it is in 
the Record, about The New York Times saying it was really wrong to try 
to claim credit for doing something on opioids when there is no money 
to do it.
  The FAA bill--I will talk about that in a little more detail in a 
little bit--is another missed opportunity to do what is right to help, 
to help the Republican leader keep his word.
  CARA, the opioid legislation, has no real funding to solve the real 
  Over the last week, Democrats have exhausted every avenue to try and 
work with Republicans on a Zika funding measure. Democrats had the 
audacity to expect the Republican leader to live up to his promise in 
April of bipartisan work on Zika. This is what the Republican leader 
said in April:

       We all are very much aware that this is a serious crisis. 
     We'll be working with the administration, with Democrats.

  But his actions, especially over the last couple of weeks, clearly 
illustrate that he was never really interested in a bipartisan 
solution. For example, the President offered a meeting with Senator 
McConnell, Speaker Ryan, Secretary Burwell, and Director of OMB Shaun 
Donovan, to work on the Zika crisis. The Speaker and the Republican 
leader refused that meeting. We offered to reintroduce the Senate's 
bipartisan Zika compromise from what we sent to the House. We would do 
it again as a freestanding bill. That bill had 89 votes. Eighty-nine 
Senators voted for it.
  We have offered Republicans legitimate compromises in the hopes they 
would join us at the negotiating table, but it is clear that they don't 
want to stay in DC. They want to rush to Cleveland and wave the flag 
for Donald Trump. That is why they are imposing imaginary deadlines on 
Zika legislation.

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  The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that ``Senate Majority 
Leader Mitch McConnell today rejected that offer, saying the time for 
such negotiations had passed''--talking about our offer, our latest 
offer. The Republican leader is saying there is no time to work on 
Zika. Well, I would suggest that I disagree with that.
  Starting this Friday--right here, July 15--we are going to begin the 
longest recess in the Senate in 60 years. Sixty years ago, there was 
not much going on in this country, relatively speaking. We had far 
fewer people, 100 million fewer people. We had a less complicated 
government in many ways, so there was an opportunity at that time to 
take the time off, but 60 years later, there is no time to do that.
  To say there is no time to work on Zika--give us all a break. There 
is plenty of time--7 weeks, to be exact. I guess a couple months of 
paid vacation is more important than protecting pregnant women and 
their babies from the terrible birth defects caused by Zika. There is 
no reason we can't stay here and work on protecting women and their 
babies, but Republicans are in such a hurry to coronate Trump in 
Cleveland, they are willing to sacrifice helping their constituents.
  The Republican leader announced yesterday that he will be speaking at 
the Republican convention next week. I guess the Republican leader is 
rushing for the exit without funding Zika so he will have time to 
prepare his speech and polish it because I am sure it will really help 
Donald Trump a lot in his election efforts. The Republican leader cares 
more about his time off and cheering Donald Trump than protecting the 
women of America and their babies from this horrible virus.
  Let's be clear. It is obvious that Republicans are choosing Trump and 
some time off over protecting American women from the Zika virus. This 
is a really bad, revolting set of priorities, and every Republican in 
this building and the office buildings surrounding this Capitol should 
be ashamed. They shouldn't fool themselves--every Republican in 
Congress should know that if they walk away without funding Zika, the 
repercussions are going to be severe.
  I can't recall ever, having been around here a long time--even before 
I came to Congress, I worked here--watching a party so willingly move 
to its own destruction. That is what Republicans seem to be intent on 
doing. Maybe they don't like being in the majority. It is hard to be in 
the majority. We are trying to save the Republicans from themselves, 
but they won't let us. We have pursued every avenue possible to find a 
bipartisan Zika bill path forward that can pass both Houses and be 
signed by the President. It shouldn't be hard. Women and babies across 
America are counting on Republicans to come to their senses and pass a 
bill before we leave here on a 2-month vacation, but if Republicans 
refuse, if they can't see the writing on the wall, we can't make them 
read the writing on the wall. It is up to them to open their eyes and 
read the writing on the wall.
  Look at the time we have to do something on Zika. Look at the time--
July 15, August. See all these big black lines? We are not here. We 
come back on September 6. July is gone, August is gone, and part of 
September is gone. We have a lot of time to be here and do some work.
  I say to my Republican colleagues, sit down with us. We have offered 
compromise after compromise. To hear my friend talk about, oh, I can't 
understand why they won't accept preventing Planned Parenthood from 
taking care of these women--if there were ever a time in the history of 
America where women wanted to do something about birth control, how 
about now?
  My Republican friend says: I don't understand why they are concerned 
about Planned Parenthood not being able to take care of these women. I 
don't understand why they are concerned about changing the 
environmental laws dealing with the Clean Water Act. I don't understand 
  Their legislation takes $500 million from veterans that we were going 
to use to process claims. For him to come and say we are increasing 
veterans money is just not true. Everyone knows that the $543 million 
they have here is an offset from ObamaCare. I could raise a point of 
order right now, and it would fall automatically. Everyone knows that. 
Taking money from Ebola--there is not much left there. Ebola is still a 
crisis. We know that. We remember that from 2 years ago.
  But what is always so interesting is why in the world, if they are so 
interested in doing something about this, would they stick a provision 
in their legislation that they reinstate the ability to fly the 
Confederate flag over military cemeteries? How is that for a 
  So this calendar is going to stay here. Let's look at it for a while 
and see what time we have left. The Republican Senate is being defined 
by its unfinished business. It is not just Zika; we could go on for 
quite some time. I will mention a couple things.
  How about giving serious consideration to protecting Americans by 
funding our military and our national security, addressing gun 
violence, or providing the necessary resources to attack our Nation's 
opioid crisis.
  Through their historic inaction, Republicans are refusing to treat 
the Federal judiciary with the respect it deserves and the Constitution 
demands. The senior Senator from Iowa has turned the once proud and 
independent Judiciary Committee--my friend--we have been together for 
34 years in the Congress of the United States--the senior Senator from 
Illinois is a member of that committee. He loves his work on that 
committee; he has told me numerous times. But that once proud and 
independent Judiciary Committee has been turned into a partisan 
Republican opposition research operation. The Republican Judiciary 
Committee now has a singular focus: winning the White House for Donald 
  The Judiciary chairman has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars trying 
to embarrass Hillary Clinton during her stalwart term as Secretary of 
State of this great country. They failed, of course. Senator Grassley 
wrote countless letters demanding State Department documents. He even 
once went after a woman who worked at the State Department and was 
having a baby. He wanted the records to make sure he could document 
that. He scoured sensitive records belonging to Secretary Clinton's 
aides. He was obsessed with digging up political dirt. He found none. 
But, like the Benghazi Committee in the House, Senator Grassley has 
wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and produced zero. Now that the FBI 
has closed the book on Secretary Clinton's emails, Senator Grassley is 
resorting to questioning the integrity of career FBI officials, calling 
their investigation ``suspect.''
  Senator Grassley's efforts to elect Donald Trump don't end with his 
partisan attacks regarding Secretary Clinton. The senior Senator from 
Iowa has obstructed qualified, consensus judicial nominees in the hopes 
that Trump will win in November and remake the judiciary in his image. 
Think about that. Unlike past Judiciary Committee chairs, Senator 
Grassley is content to put partisanship above a functioning judiciary.
  The number of vacancies under President Obama has skyrocketed. 
Republicans' obstruction is putting them in the history books--but for 
the wrong reason. Last year, Senate Republicans made history by 
confirming the fewest judges in a long time. This year, they seem 
determined to shortchange the judiciary even further. We have a myriad 
of judicial emergencies around the country, meaning the judges can't 
get their work done. These courts have more cases than judges can 
handle, and that has more than doubled.
  Justice is being denied for millions of Americans, but under Chairman 
Grassley, the Judiciary Committee spends its time playing politics, not 
confirming judges. It seems the only thing deserving the chairman's 
attention is electing Donald Trump, ensuring he gets as many judicial 
appointments as possible. Nowhere is that more apparent than with the 
current vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court and Grassley's obstruction of 
the highly qualified Chief Judge Merrick Garland. No one can find 
anything dealing with his education, his qualifications, his judicial 
temperament, his integrity--he is top of the line, as was indicated 
some time ago by Orrin Hatch.
  President Obama nominated Garland 100 days ago. He serves as the 
chief judge of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. He was unanimously 
rated as

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``well qualified'' by the American Bar Association--the highest rating 
possible. By any measure, he is exactly the type of fairminded, 
consensus nominee the Senate should be considering for the vacancy. But 
Judge Garland can't make his case to the American people because 
Senator Grassley refuses to even hold a hearing on the nomination. 
Chairman Grassley has come up with a myriad of excuses to block the 
nomination, none of which hold water. As the Des Moines Register said 
recently, ``Grassley's excuses are purely political.''
  Iowans aren't being fooled. They know that the chairman's real goal 
is holding the Supreme Court open for Donald Trump to do with what he 
wants. The Judiciary chairman has already said Trump would ``appoint 
the right type of people''--boy, I will tell you, that must be a real 
stretch--``the right type of people'' to the Supreme Court. The senior 
Senator from Iowa obviously places a high value on Trump's judgment, 
which has proven to be so good the last year. Senator Grassley is 
holding a Supreme Court vacancy for a man who accused an Indiana-born 
judge of being unable to do his job because of his racial heritage. His 
parents came from Mexico. Apparently he would like to see that brand of 
thinking brought to the Nation's courts.
  It is time for Senator Grassley to stop playing politics with his 
committee and give Judge Garland a fair hearing. It is time for his 
committee to address the numerous lower court vacancies and damaging 
judicial emergencies throughout the country. The American people 
deserve a functioning judicial system led by the Judiciary Committee in 
the Senate. They have had enough with Republican excuses. Iowans and 
the Nation are waiting. It is time for Senator Grassley and Senate 
Republicans to do their job.
  Mr. President, I would ask the Chair to announce what the Senate is 
going to do the rest of the day.