(Senate - July 14, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 114 (Thursday, July 14, 2016)]
[Pages S5099-S5113]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Chair lays 
before the Senate the House message to accompany S. 2943, which the 
clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       Resolved, That the House insist upon its amendment to the 
     bill (S. 2943) entitled ``An Act to authorize appropriations 
     for fiscal year 2017 for military activities of the 
     Department of Defense, for military construction, and for 
     defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe 
     military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for 
     other purposes,'' and ask a conference with the Senate on the 
     disagreeing votes of the two Houses thereon.

                   Recognition of the Majority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader is recognized.

                            Compound Motion

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I move to disagree in the amendment of 
the House, agree to the request from the House for a conference, and 
appoint the following conferees: Senators McCain, Inhofe, Sessions, 
Wicker, Ayotte, Fischer, Cotton, Rounds, Ernst, Tillis, Sullivan, Lee, 
Graham, Cruz, Reed, Nelson, McCaskill, Manchin, Shaheen, Gillibrand, 
Blumenthal, Donnelly, Hirono, Kaine, King, and Heinrich.

                             Cloture Motion

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I send a cloture motion to the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  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 
     disagree in the House amendment, agree to the request from 
     the House for a conference, and the appointing of the 
     following conferees: Senators McCain, Inhofe, Sessions, 
     Wicker, Ayotte, Fischer, Cotton, Rounds, Ernst, Tillis, 
     Sullivan, Lee, Graham, Cruz, Reed, Nelson, McCaskill, 
     Manchin, Shaheen, Gillibrand, Blumenthal, Donnelly, Hirono, 
     Kaine, King, Heinrich.
         Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Tom Cotton, Kelly Ayotte, 
           James Lankford, John Thune, Orrin G. Hatch, Johnny 
           Isakson, Mike Crapo, Thom Tillis, John Hoeven, Joni 
           Ernst, Deb Fischer, Jeff Sessions, David Perdue, 
           Richard Burr, Dan Sullivan.

  Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum call 
be waived.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                               H.R. 4901

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I understand there are four bills at 
the desk due for a second reading.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will read the bills by title for the 
second time.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 10) to reauthorize the Scholarships for 
     Opportunity and Results Act, and for other purposes.
       A bill (H.R. 4465) to decrease the deficit by consolidating 
     and selling Federal buildings and other civilian real 
     property, and for other purposes.
       A bill (H.R. 4487) to reduce costs of Federal real estate, 
     improve building security, and for other purposes.
       A bill (H.R. 4901) to reauthorize the Scholarships for 
     Opportunity and Results Act, and for other purposes.

  Mr. McCONNELL. In order to place the bills on the calendar under the 
provisions of rule XIV, I object to further proceedings en bloc.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection having been heard, the bills will be 
placed on the calendar.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.

                     Legislation Before the Senate

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, it is hard to understand why our 
Democratic friends continue to filibuster the funding needed to fight 
  We have already shown the reality behind various claims and half-
truths about the compromise anti-Zika conference report: the idea that 
it would underfund Zika; the idea that it would prohibit funding for or 
deny access to birth control; the idea that it would actually weaken 
clean water protections;

[[Page S5100]]

the idea that its offsets don't have any bipartisan support; the idea 
that it would cut funding for veterans. We have shown that all of these 
claims just don't stand up to scrutiny.
  Despite all this, Democrats now say they will only accept the Zika 
bill if it limits health care funding in the territories that need it 
most, drops critical funding for our veterans, and even restricts the 
ability to kill mosquitos. That is apparently their position. My friend 
the Democratic leader warns that these mosquitos are ``vicious,'' 
``awful,'' and ``ravaging.'' He is just not all that interested in 
killing them.
  So I would like to echo the words of the senior Senator from Texas, 
who said that our Democratic colleagues seem to be operating in a 
``logic-free zone'' when it comes to Zika. It is time to get back to 
reality. This is a serious crisis that demands serious solutions. It is 
time for our friends to start worrying less about pleasing outside 
political groups and start worrying more about actually helping the 
Americans who are counting on all of us.
  We have a conference report. It is before us. It contains the exact 
level of funding to fight Zika that Democrats already agreed to--$1.1 
billion. It includes more health care funding than the bill that 
originally passed the Senate. It does not prohibit funding for or deny 
access to birth control. It contains bipartisan offsets that move money 
from lower priorities to higher priorities. It contains temporary but 
meaningful reforms that actually allow us to fight mosquitoes in an 
effective way. It also honors our veterans with record levels of 
  This compromise conference report offers the only way to get this 
done now. The only way to achieve the outcome is to pass this 
conference report now. We could pass it today.
  I am urging our colleagues to please look within themselves and make 
the right decision. Otherwise, what will they say to pregnant mothers 
this summer? What will they say to our veterans the rest of the summer?
  I hope our friends will think about what they will say to our Active-
Duty troops as well. As every colleague knows, there are two types of 
bills necessary to fund our military. First is the Defense 
authorization bill, which authorizes the many things our military 
needs. Democrats voted with us to pass that important bill last month. 
Second is the Defense appropriations bill, which actually funds the 
things the Defense authorization bill authorizes. That is the bill 
Democrats have been filibustering since last week. In other words, 
Democrats are happy to make promises to our men and women in uniform 
with the Defense authorization bill, but they are not prepared to keep 
those promises by actually passing the Defense appropriations bill.
  Both the current and incoming Democratic leaders essentially just 
made this point themselves. Here is what the senior Democrat from New 
York said just yesterday:

       [A bill] without actual appropriations . . . is like a 
     Hollywood movie set: Something that appears real on the 
     surface but has no substance and no life behind its false 

  Here is what my friend the Democratic leader said:

       Authorizing legislation is a start, but without resources, 
     it's very, very meaningless.

  Very, very meaningless. A false facade. Harsh words from Democrats 
about their own actions on defense funding.
  In an attempt to make a misleading political point about the CARA 
bill--a point that doesn't hold water, of course--these Democratic 
leaders inadvertently stepped on their own party's message for opposing 
the funding bill our military needs. If they really believe what they 
said to be true, then why are Senate Democrats blocking the Defense 
appropriations bill when they talk about how important it is to 
actually provide ``real funding''? This is a defense funding bill that 
the top Democrat on the Defense Subcommittee called ``a responsible 
approach to protecting our country.'' It is a bill that every single 
Democrat and every single Republican supported in the Appropriations 
Committee. It also respects the budget caps in place. It is the epitome 
of regular order--the epitome of regular order. Senate Democrats may 
try to spin their actions now, but it all boils down to one thing: This 
is just a partisan game.
  At a time when we face an array of daunting challenges around the 
globe, it is imperative that the Senate take the next steps today to 
provide the resources and training our servicemembers need.
  The CIA Director recently said he would be surprised if ISIL isn't 
trying to carry out an attack in the United States like the one we saw 
recently in Istanbul. And we are continuing to see terrorism hit home 
in Orlando and San Bernardino and across the world in places like 
Bangladesh and Baghdad and Saudi Arabia. These factors only underscore 
the importance of taking up and passing this defense funding bill as 
soon as possible. They also underscore the importance of our Commander 
in Chief finally leading a campaign to defeat ISIL, which is the only 
way to end ISIL-directed and ISIL-inspired terrorism once and for all.
  It is clear that preventing future attacks inside our borders 
requires defeating ISIL where it exists--beyond our borders. Passing 
this defense funding bill is crucial to achieving that goal, just as it 
is crucial to fulfilling the commitment that President Obama made last 
week regarding the 8,400 troops who will remain in Afghanistan through 
the end of his administration. The President's statement represents 
another glaring example of why the Senate must pass this Defense 
appropriations measure. It is what is needed to fund the training to 
prepare forces for deployment to Afghanistan and the weapons they will 
carry and the spare parts and fuel consumed in training and operations 
and the ammunition they will need to execute their missions. It also 
includes resources to fund basic pay, deliver necessary medical 
services, and support quality-of-life programs that military families 
count on. The President has made a commitment to our allies, and we 
must meet our commitment to the force.
  Our men and women in uniform courageously put themselves in harm's 
way to help keep our country safe. They do so willingly. They do so 
voluntarily. They don't ask for much in return, and they never ever 
forsake their commitment. Senators shouldn't forsake their commitment, 
  Today, our Democratic colleagues will have the opportunity to join us 
in meeting the first part of that commitment by voting to go to 
conference on the Defense authorization bill. Then they will have the 
opportunity to join us in meeting the second part of that commitment by 
voting to end their filibuster of the defense funding bill so we can 
pass it.
  America's men and women in uniform don't need ``false facades'' or 
``very, very meaningless'' gestures from our Democratic colleagues. 
They need Democrats to put politics aside and join us in advancing a 
strong Defense authorization bill and a strong Defense appropriations 
bill because our servicemembers and our national security depend on 
both of these bills.
  Despite Senate Democrats' efforts to put partisan politics before 
pressing issues like national security and Zika, the Republican-led 
Senate is working hard to advance solutions for the American people.
  One newspaper recently declared that the Senate ``has settled into a 
new normal'' under Republican leadership, ``passing bills at [a] rate 
not seen in decades.'' That is good news for the American people, and 
here is why.
  The new normal includes more than 225 bills that have been passed, 
along with more than 140 bills that have become law, and I am not just 
talking about bills from Republicans but bills from Democrats as well. 
For instance, the senior Senator from Delaware who has seen four of his 
bills become law; for instance, the senior Senator from California who 
has seen three become law; and, for instance, our Democratic colleagues 
from Rhode Island and Minnesota who saw the CARA bill they worked on 
with Republican Senators like Senator Portman, Senator Ayotte, and 
Senator Grassley pass yesterday.
  CARA is a comprehensive legislative response to the prescription 
opioid and heroin epidemic that is ravaging our country. Legislation to 
address this epidemic languished under a previous Judiciary chairman, 
but Senator Grassley worked to change that. He made it a priority, and 
he moved it swiftly. CARA wouldn't have been possible without him, just 
as it wouldn't have been possible without Members

[[Page S5101]]

like Portman and Ayotte, who have worked to drive this bill forward 
every step of the way. I would also like to thank Senator Alexander for 
his work in the conference committee to secure a strong final bill. The 
bill we passed will help protect Americans from addiction and overdose, 
and we expect the President to sign it into law soon.
  Here is another important bill we passed yesterday and also expect 
the President to sign into law soon. It is the most comprehensive 
aviation security reform legislation in a decade, and it contains 
significant consumer protections for airline passengers as well. This 
important bill will help protect Americans at our airports and in our 
skies, and it would not have been possible without the good work of 
Senator Thune, who worked with Senator Nelson to guide it through to 
  In just the past week or so, we saw the crisis in Puerto Rico, and we 
responded with responsible legislation designed to prevent a taxpayer 
bailout and at the same time help the Puerto Rican people.
  We saw the threat of rising food prices for middle-class families, 
and we responded with science-based legislation designed to prevent 
confusing and costly laws in one State from raising grocery bills in 
  While Senate Democrats are now trying to make it impossible to get 
the basic work of government accomplished with some filibuster summer 
sequel, we have been able to make progress there too. The full 
Appropriations Committee has approved all 12 funding bills--at a record 
early time and with broad bipartisan support--many of them with 
unanimous backing from both sides. The full Senate has passed some on 
the floor, and if our Democratic friends would work with us, we could 
pass the others as well.
  The Republican-led Senate set out to give these appropriations bills 
ample amount of floor time for Senators to debate the measures so more 
of the American people could be represented in the lawmaking process, 
and that is what we have done.
  The Republican-led Senate set out to give colleagues from both sides 
more of a voice, allowing amendments and bills from both sides because 
better process leads to better results for the American people, and 
that is what we have done. We did so because this Republican majority 
is following through on what we set out to do from the beginning: open 
up the legislative process, get committees up and running again, 
empower Members from both sides, find areas of common ground, and 
advance legislation that can make a difference for people all across 
our country.
  Just because Democrats are again reverting to their dysfunctional 
ways because they believe it suits them politically, it doesn't change 
the reality that we have made significant progress in restoring the 
Senate to significantly better health.
  We have clearly put the Senate back to work too. There are so many 
other measures we have passed besides those I have mentioned already: 
groundbreaking reforms in education and in transportation, permanent 
tax relief for families and small businesses, trading more of 
Washington's annual patches and punts for real solutions. All of these 
good ideas and so many more are now law, which benefit the people we 
  We have gotten so much done already, but there is much more we can 
do, as long as our Democratic colleagues aren't determined to obstruct 
for its own sake. I think many on the other side have much to ponder 
over this upcoming State work period. Think about Zika, my Democratic 
colleagues. Think about veterans over the summer. Think about our men 
and women in uniform. Then they will have to decide, do they want to 
continue with these partisan games on critical issues like Zika and 
National Defense or do they want to work with us to keep making 
progress for our country.
  We will certainly give them more opportunities to make progress on 
appropriations. We will certainly give them opportunities to make 
progress on important issues like Energy and Defense. Even if 
Democratic leaders might prefer dysfunction and partisan games, Members 
from both sides know the Republican-led Senate has given them more of 
an opportunity to move legislation and their constituents more of a 
  Let me say that again. This Republican-led Senate has given all 
Senators more of an opportunity to move legislation; thereby, giving 
their constituents more of a voice.
  With continued hard work and cooperation from our friends across the 
aisle, we can continue to add to that record of achievement for the 
people, the American people all across our country. After all, isn't 
that what they sent us here for?

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.

                        Issues Before the Senate

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I assume my Republican friend feels that if 
you say just the opposite of what is valid and true, some people will 
believe it. You talk about a logic-free zone, as my friend mentioned--
boy, we got one in the last half hour here. We do have a new normal 
here, and it is not a good new normal. Take, for example, defense. The 
Republican leader resorts to name-calling, trying to paint Democrats as 
weak on defense. He cites Democrats voting against proceeding to the 
Defense appropriations bill before we have a budget deal.
  Let me remind the American people, let me remind the Republican 
leader, the result of Democrats blocking the Defense appropriations 
bill three times last year was we got a better budget, a much better 
budget. We got a budget agreement that increased spending for national 
security by $33.5 billion over the sequester. It was their sequester 
level; that is, they wanted to cut it even more. That is the truth.
  The further truth is that the defense of our country, the security of 
our country, depends more on the Pentagon. We have every Democrat who 
is just as patriotic as any Republican. We believe in the security of 
this Nation just as much as they do. We look at that differently, 
though, in this sense: I repeat, the security of this Nation is more 
than bombs and bullets. It is also making sure we have an FBI that 
works and is adequately funded. It also means the Drug Enforcement 
Administration has the personnel to do their job. It also means the 
Department of Homeland Security, created by a Republican President, is 
up and running and able to do its job. They have tremendous 
responsibilities. The border security is their problem. They have to 
deal with that, and it has to be adequately funded.
  We have issues that relate to the security of this Nation. For 
example, the Centers for Disease Control has to be adequately funded. 
They don't do bombs or bullets, but they do take care of this Nation's 
  The National Institutes of Health, one of the premier organizations 
in the history of the world, helps us become a more secure nation. So 
we are going to continue--we will block today, if he brings it up 
again, the Defense appropriations bill. Why? Because he wants to do 
that. It is so obvious. He wants to do that and walk out of here and 
leave the other appropriations bills stirring in the breeze and meet 
the craziness we see out of the House of Representatives as it relates 
to spending.
  We want more resources for our troops, but if we get more resources 
for our troops, we are going to get more resources for those entities 
that keep us safe and secure that aren't Pentagon-related.
  Again, I assume my friend believes that if you keep talking about 
something that is absolutely untrue, people will think it is true. For 
example, let's take the Zika situation we have in America today. No one 
disputes the fact that these mosquitoes are ravaging and are 
horrendous. Mosquitoes have been very difficult and dangerous. They 
have been terrible since recorded history. They cause death and 
illness. It is hard to comprehend. For the first time in the history of 
the world, we have now the mosquito spreading a virus that causes women 
to have deformed babies--badly deformed babies.
  What we did, on a bipartisan basis, the senior Senator from 
Washington and the senior Senator from Missouri got together and they 
came up with a Zika funding measure. I felt it was inadequate 
dollarwise. We agreed with the Centers for Disease Control and the 
National Institutes of Health that it should be $1.9 billion. We said: 
OK. We will go along with this because it is an

[[Page S5102]]

emergency. It is like all emergencies, whether it is flood, fire, or 
wind, whatever it might be. This is an emergency, and it should be 
treated as such--$1.1 billion, no offsets. We passed that with 89 
votes. Every Democrat voted for it and virtually every Republican voted 
for it. It went to the House of Representatives.
  Now, here is where my friend's logic-free zone really pops in hard. 
Remember what we sent to the House of Representatives, and here is what 
they sent back to us. There is no disputing this, even though he can 
say it a million times if he wants. Under the bill we got back--and the 
Republicans in the Senate approved what happened in the House--Planned 
Parenthood, an organization where hundreds and hundreds of thousands of 
women go for their care, do you think they are going to have a little 
rush of business now? Because women in America today want to make sure 
they have the ability to not get pregnant. Why? Because the mosquitoes 
ravage pregnant women. Under the logic of my friend the Republican 
leader, they don't need to go to Planned Parenthood. They can go to 
their boutique doctor someplace in Las Vegas or Chicago or Lexington, 
KY. They can go to an emergency room and say: I am sorry, I didn't get 
birth control; will you help me? That isn't what emergency rooms are 
for. That is what Planned Parenthood is for. The vast majority of women 
who need help, that is where they go, Planned Parenthood. Under the 
legislation we got back from the House, there is no money to be 
provided for that.
  We know the Republicans don't like the people who wear the green 
eyeshades, the so-called environmentalists. So what did they send to 
us? They had to do something. The only thing they could get out of the 
House of Representatives--they have to do something to attack the 
environment so they said: Well, here is what we will do. With spring, 
we are going to eliminate the Clean Water Act, which makes it extremely 
dangerous. That is why the EPA looks at this so closely and all other 
Federal agencies. The Clean Water Act is the law of the land, and it 
has been for decades. They eliminate that.
  The Republican leader gets up here and talks about: I hope they are 
happy--words to that effect--what they are doing to veterans. The bill 
we got back as it relates to Zika takes $500 million from veterans--
from the Veterans' Administration. That is what they did. I can't make 
this stuff up. What was that money to be used for? Processing claims.
  The Presiding Officer has been out front on finding a way to speed up 
veterans' claims. They need to be handled more expeditiously. There was 
a provision in the original legislation to give them $500 million to 
speed it up, but now that money will be put toward the Zika bill. It is 
  Two years ago a ravaging epidemic swept Africa--Ebola. It was 
terribly hurtful to the people of Africa. People in America were 
afraid. We had nurses and doctors coming here to be treated because we 
had better facilities than they have in Africa. Well, it is still 
around, and they are still putting out fires as we speak. The bill we 
got back from the House took $107 million from the Ebola funding. 
Everyone knows that the $543 million they took from ObamaCare to help 
fund the Zika matter--I could raise a point of order right now and it 
would go out. No one disputes that.
  As Speaker Boehner said--just to demonstrate how crazy they are over 
there in the House--they couldn't get something passed there unless 
they did something to take care of the really, really, really rightwing 
crazies. What did they do? They struck a prohibition on displaying the 
Confederate flag. They wanted to be able to fly the Confederate flag at 
military cemeteries. That is the bill we have which also deals with 
Zika. How can anyone in good conscience vote for that? We can't, and we 
are not going to. Of course, it sets up the terrible precedent of 
offsetting emergency spending.
  It is July 14, and the Senate is going to take a short, 7-week break. 
As we heard the Republican leader say: It has all been done. We have 
done great things here. He scheduled the Senate for a 7-week summer 
break--vacation, time off, call it whatever you want. It is the longest 
Senate recess in more than 60 years. We would like stay and work. I 
would like to work for the people of Nevada and the rest of the 
American people, but the Republicans don't want to hear any of this. 
They want to go listen to Donald Trump. Some of them may not be there 
because they are kind of embarrassed to be seen with him, but they will 
watch it on TV.
  We will be back in September to tie up loose ends and make sure that 
the government gets funded, but that is about all we have the ability 
to do now.
  As we get ready to adjourn for 7 weeks, let's look at just a few of 
the things that are being left behind, such as Zika. The Republicans 
are choosing vacation rather than protecting pregnant women and their 
babies from these terrible birth defects that can be prevented.
  Have we done anything about guns? No, even though the Republican 
leader said we would have a vote on guns, we are not going to have a 
vote on guns. The legislation sponsored by the Republican Senator from 
Maine, joined by a significant number of Democrats--the Republican 
leader said we would have a vote on that. Why? Well, we thought it 
would be a good idea to make it so that suspected terrorists can't go 
out now and legally purchase a gun or explosives. No, we will not have 
a vote on that.
  What about criminal justice reform? Look at what is going on in the 
country today. Is there a need for justice reform? Of course there is. 
We have a bipartisan bill that is drowning in the Judiciary Committee. 
We understand there is only a handful of Republicans who don't support 
this. Democrats support it. They have refused to address the failings 
of our criminal justice system despite ample bipartisan support on and 
off Capitol Hill.
  How about the Supreme Court? Republicans still refuse to give Merrick 
Garland a hearing and vote. Do I need to say more about that? I don't 
think so.
  What about Flint, MI? The whole city was ravaged by lead. Thousands 
of boys and girls will now never be who they could have been because of 
lead in their water. There is no relief for them--zero relief. There 
are 100,000 people who live in that city. They were all adversely 
affected and poisoned.
  What about the opioid epidemic? We passed a bill, which is the first 
step, but they refused to fund it. They will make due with money they 
had from before, and now all these additional duties will be given to 
all of these agencies. We passed the conference report to address 
opioid addiction, but we don't have the money to do the things we are 
asking these agencies to do. These are just a few of the things. I 
guess they are the immediate issues.
  What about the other problems the Republicans have ignored for 19 
months? How about something for the middle class? How about creating a 
few jobs? How about building some roads or repairing our very delicate 
bridges, dams, and our water and sewer systems?
  Nothing has been done about the minimum wage, pay equity, student 
loan debt, job creation--nothing, nothing, nothing. We have crumbling 
roads and bridges.
  What about basic American rights? What has Senator McConnell done or 
said about ensuring justice for the American people? Nothing.
  This is the headline from today's Politico: ``Mitch McConnell's 
historic judge blockade.'' I didn't write the headline. I will read a 
couple of paragraphs.

       Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland may be the most 
     prominent casualty of the GOP-controlled Senate's election-
     year resistance on the Federal judiciary--but the pace of 
     overall judicial confirmations under Mitch McConnell is on 
     track to become the slowest in more than 60 years. Under the 
     McConnell-led Senate, just 20 district and circuit court 
     judges have been confirmed at a time when vacancies are 
     hampering the Federal bench nationwide.

  This is nothing to be proud of.
  The Republican leader instituted a blockade of judicial nominations. 
He did it last year. Last year they made history by confirming the 
fewest judges since the 1950s, but they will do even less this year. 
Because of their obstruction, judicial emergencies--those courts with 
more cases than judges can handle--have more than doubled. That means 
that Americans seeking justice are being denied their constitutional 
rights. Here is the issue. I have been

[[Page S5103]]

there. I spent a lot of time in courts. That is what I did. I was a 
trial lawyer. I can remember going to both the State and Federal 
courts, and they said: Sorry, but we are going to do criminal cases for 
the next few months and not do anything with civil cases. Civil cases 
are just as important as criminal cases, but because of what the 
Republicans have done, judges will be forced--because of the law--to 
take care of the criminal cases and put the civil cases in the back of 
the bus.
  What about voting rights? Senate Republicans have done absolutely 
nothing--zero--to protect Americans' right to vote. Time and again this 
Republican Senate has proven itself to be a colossal failure. Yet 
Senator McConnell has had the nerve to pat himself on the back every 
day for all he and the Republicans have done in this Congress.
  The bipartisan bills that have passed this Congress were blocked by 
Republicans in past Congresses. That is a fact. I, as the leader here, 
had to file cloture more than 500 times because of obstruction and 
filibusters by the Republicans.
  Let's be real honest here. Let's do the logic. These bills passed 
because Democrats have been a constructive minority. We have worked 
with the Republicans when they were willing to work with us, but there 
are too many reasons why this Republican Congress has been a flop. 
First, Republicans made a calculated decision to appease the most 
radical fringes of their party. Who do they have? They have Donald 
  Second, there has been a serious erosion of trust since the 
Republicans assumed the majority. Promise after promise to the American 
people has been shattered and broken. Senator McConnell promised to 
pass a budget every year. We have no budget.
  Senator McConnell promised a full Senate workweek. We have worked one 
Friday in 19 months.
  Senator McConnell promised no show votes. Yet today the Republican 
leader will force unnecessary revotes on Zika, and I am sure he will 
force a revote on Defense appropriations. This will be the eighth time 
in this Congress that the Republican leader has resorted to this 
tactic. It is his signature move. He is the record holder--it is not a 
good one--on revotes.
  Senator McConnell promised an open amendment process. I can remember 
him coming out here and saying: Reid filled the amendment tree. Well, 
he must have learned from me because he has gotten really good at it. 
He has filled the amendment tree 16 times. These are all commitments 
that the Republican leader made to the American people which have not 
been honored.
  There have also been a number of promises made within the Senate that 
have been broken. Both sides of the aisle have been left waiting for 
the Republican leader to keep his word--his personal word. This 
troubles me. I have been in this Congress for 34 years. I don't like to 
talk about this, but I have experienced his not keeping his word 
  I had a meeting right here regarding a woman by the name of Jessica 
Rosenworcel. She wanted to be renominated to the Federal Communications 
Commission. That was in December of 2014. Senator McConnell, Senator 
Thune, and I had an agreement that I thought was made in good faith. 
The agreement was simply this: I would agree to do a Republican. We 
always did them together. We paired them. They said: No, we have to do 
this. He worked for the Senator from Arizona. He wanted to make sure 
that they took good care of the Senator who just left the Senate.
  The agreement was that we would confirm Michael O'Rielly to the FCC, 
but in exchange, as soon as the new year came, they would go with 
Rosenworcel. That was supposed to happen in the next Congress. O'Rielly 
was a longtime staffer for Senator Kyl and had also worked for Senator 
  Jessica is a very talented lawyer who worked for Jay Rockefeller.
  It was very unusual to do what I agreed to do, but in good faith I 
accepted the word of two Republican Senators. We traditionally confirm 
members on bipartisan boards by pairing nominees--one Democrat and one 
Republican. I agreed to do this out of the goodness, frankly, of my 
heart. I have never had the experience where someone simply didn't keep 
their word, and that is what has happened. I wasn't alone. Somebody who 
works on the Senate floor--and has for years--was there when that 
conversation took place.
  The Republican leader asked me to make an exception, and I did. I 
agreed with his personal commitment that when the next Congress 
convened, Republicans would reconfirm Jessica Rosenworcel. I was 
promised that. I didn't have to agree to this, but I did it because the 
Republican leader said he would do his part and get Rosenworcel 
confirmed. Nineteen months have passed, and the Republican leader has 
yet to keep his word with me.
  We had a big, important spending bill last year. It did a lot, but--
no one disputes this--the staff of Senator McConnell made a mistake and 
didn't put language in dealing with section 48 of the renewable tax 
credits, and everybody acknowledged that it was too bad. He 
acknowledged the drafting error and that the staff made a mistake. 
Republicans committed to correct their drafting error in the next 
revenue bill that the Senate considered. This has been unfulfilled. We 
could have done it with the FAA bill, but it will not be done there. He 
told Leader Pelosi: We are going to do that. I promised Reid I would do 
it. Well, it hasn't been done.
  It is a sad Senate when people do not keep their word, but maybe they 
will address those two issues. A new day will come in September. This 
is what Democrats and the American people have come to expect from 
Republicans--promises not kept, commitments not honored, and work not 
done. ``Integrity'' is a simple word, but here in the U.S. Capitol, it 
is everything.
  I hope it turns around come this fall. If Republicans will stay and 
work instead of taking this 2-month break, we can do something to 
address all these issues, including Zika, Merrick Garland, and guns. 
But that is as much as we can do if they refuse to do their jobs.
  Mr. President, I am sorry that Senator McConnell and I have taken so 
much time, but we do that once in a while.
  I ask that the Chair announce the business of the day.

                       Reservation of Leader Time

  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rounds). Under the previous order, the 
time until 11:30 a.m. will be equally divided between the leaders or 
their designees.
  The Senator from Nevada.

                               VA Funding

  Mr. HELLER. Mr. President, I rise to speak today on an issue that 
Congress has always been able to rally around with bipartisan support. 
We don't hear that mentioned a lot recently in these Chambers, but 
something we have always been able to come together on is our Nation's 
  As a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, advocating on behalf 
of our Nation's and Nevada's brave heroes has been one of my greatest 
privileges, but it has also been a challenge, especially in recent 
years. Whether it is timely appointments for health care, eliminating 
the disability claims backlog, or addressing poor performance, I am 
constantly fighting for accountability within the VA.
  It has taken years of work on the local level in both northern and 
southern Nevada to get good leadership in our VA regional office and 
the Reno and Las Vegas VA hospitals; however, all of that work is in 
vain if Congress does not provide the VA with the robust funding it 
needs to deliver high-quality care and benefits in a timely manner.
  Under Republican leadership in the Senate, we have been trying to 
return to regular order and the appropriations process. You would think 
that for an issue as serious as veterans, the Senate would be able to 
come together to pass the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs 
appropriations act. Yet my colleagues on the other side of the aisle 
are continuing to play partisan politics and have rejected this effort.
  This important appropriations bill--something we will vote on later 
this afternoon--includes an increase of funding over the last year, as 
well as important provisions I have been advocating to help Nevada's 
veterans. First off, it includes an amendment I filed to ensure 
completion of the Rural Veterans Burial Initiative so that rural

[[Page S5104]]

communities like Elko, NV, have a veterans cemetery that honors our 
veterans and all of their service.

  Second, I secured an amendment to hold the VA accountable for the 
progress they are making to eliminate the disability claims backlog. As 
cochair of the VA Claims Backlog Working Group, I have been fighting to 
get this backlog to zero.
  But I am concerned that the VA isn't feeling the pressure to get that 
job done. A lot of progress was made, but for 10 months now the VA has 
been stuck with a 20-percent backlog. I haven't forgotten the 
commitment the VA made to give veterans a timely answer on their 
disability claims, which is why my amendment sends a clear message to 
the VA that Congress is still watching and still expecting results.
  It is not just my amendments that are important to this bill. It is 
the funding that will help those who have sacrificed the most--our 
veterans and their families. When I sat down with veterans and the 
military community at roundtables in both northern and southern Nevada 
just a few months ago, I was struck by how far we really have to go.
  Thousands of veterans are suffering from post-traumatic stress and 
struggling to find the care they need. Post-traumatic stress not only 
impacts veterans, but it impacts their family members who aren't always 
sure just how to get the help they need. Some of them fall into 
homelessness and don't know where to turn and, frankly, they just don't 
trust the VA. At its worst, we have more than 20 veterans committing 
suicide every day. Let me repeat that. We have more than 20 veterans 
committing suicide every day--20 a day.
  I had a Nevada veteran's wife tell me how she had to jump through 
hoops just to get her husband a cardiology appointment through the 
Choice Act. It took her 3 months--3 months--to get that appointment. 
She said to me how she would never give up fighting for her husband's 
health. I continue to see how veterans come to my office for help with 
getting an appointment or moving their disability claims along.
  We cannot expect the VA to solve these problems without funding. So I 
continue to urge my colleagues to pass the conference report today for 
VA appropriations so we can fix these problems. While funding can go a 
long way to providing resources for veterans, we cannot forget that the 
VA still struggles with accountability.
  There are plenty of high-quality VA employees working every day to 
help our veterans, and many of those employees are in the State of 
Nevada. These are the ones that cared for my father at the Reno 
hospital, and I give the VA credit for his health today.
  But then there are those employees who are gaming the system and have 
forgotten that the VA's mission is to serve the interest of veterans 
and their families and no one else. Yet the VA can't even fire these 
people because the Department of Justice says it is 
``unconstitutional.'' So think about that. There is nothing more 
disappointing to me than the Department of Justice preventing these VA 
employees from being fired or demoted after poor performance. Instead 
of siding with veterans, the Department of Justice sides with the 
bureaucrats who don't belong at the VA. I think it is an insult--an 
insult to veterans and an insult to the American public.
  I know that Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Isakson and other 
committee members share my concern about this, including the Presiding 
Officer. Rather than ignoring this issue and Congress's intent, it is 
time for the Department of Justice to step up and step forward to talk 
to Congress about what can be done to ensure that bad VA employees are 
quickly removed.
  Accountability has to be a priority of the VA. Secretary McDonald 
understands this, just as funding for the VA should be a priority for 
the Senate. Again, I call on my colleagues to move the appropriations 
bill forward so that we can keep our commitment to veterans and we can 
fix the long list of issues that plague our VA.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado.

                       Remembering Bill Armstrong

  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, on July 5, the United States lost a great 
public servant, and Colorado lost one of its fiercest advocates. Bill 
Armstrong's contributions to Colorado and the country embody the 
virtues of integrity, devotion, and kindness and reflect his priorities 
of liberty, faith, and family. His mark on this world will never be 
  Over the course of his life, Senator Bill Armstrong was known for 
many of his achievements and titles: U.S. Senator, U.S. Congressman, 
youngest majority leader in the State legislature, and, most recently, 
being elected president of Colorado Christian University, just to name 
a few.
  But what has been reinforced to me over the last number of days since 
his passing were not the titles he held or the bills and the amendments 
he passed through committee or the Senate, but the way in which he 
carried himself, the respect he gave his staff, his family, and his 
constituents. He was a thoughtful, peaceful, graceful individual, and 
he always interacted with those values in mind.

  It is the stories about how he treated his staff and how he listened 
to his constituents that stand out in our minds. Today, as we reflect 
on the impact he had on this country, it is the stories about the 
lasting effect his words had on impressionable young minds at Colorado 
Christian University and the relationships he built with Democrats and 
Republicans alike, despite the frequent bitter and partisan fights that 
riddled Congress while he served. He once described himself as 
``relatively inflexible on principles, but flexible on the details,'' 
never confusing the two when working toward meaningful solutions that 
required compromise, always listening, ever respectful of those he may 
have disagreed with.
  While I never worked for Senator Armstrong, a number of my closest 
friends, advisers, and so many of the elected officials in Colorado are 
a part of the Armstrong legacy and alumni of his great work. The 
stories they shared with me about their time with Bill Armstrong are 
  Sean Conway, a former staffer for Bill Armstrong, now a county 
commissioner in Colorado, talks about the time that Senator Bill 
Armstrong went to meet with the refuseniks, as they came to be known--
Jewish people living in the Soviet Union who were being persecuted for 
their views and wanted to leave the Soviet Union for a better life. He 
went there without contacting his staff, without letting them know how 
he was or where he was, because he was afraid that the KGB would find 
out the work that he was doing and the harm that it could cause the 
people he was meeting with and perhaps even to the staff back home. But 
he knew he had to bring that message of what was happening with the 
persecution in the Soviet Union back to his colleagues in the Senate to 
make sure they understood so they could put an end to the tragedy that 
was happening in the Soviet Union.
  His staff remember Bill Armstrong fondly--a number of whom got 
married as a result of having met while working for him. One former 
staff member, Roy Palmer, recounted this: ``Bill Armstrong was one of 
the brightest and most successful persons I've ever met. Yet he didn't 
have a college degree . . . He spent his life improving his education; 
reading, studying, debating . . . with a discipline I've never seen 
before. But he was reluctant to divulge the fact that he didn't have a 
degree not because he was embarrassed by it, or ashamed about it. 
Rather he thought it might set a bad example for young people to 
abandon their education. I think he knew God gave him a special gift of 
intellect, discipline and drive . . . but he was also extremely aware, 
compassionate and tolerant of others around him who didn't have the 
same gift. As he became more successful and older he also became more 
  And while there are likely hundreds of other stories about how Bill 
Armstrong embodied true Christian virtues, lived out the words he 
spoke, and touched people's lives on a very personal level, the work he 
did in Congress simply cannot go unnoticed. As one former staffer said, 
``Bill Armstrong should be known as the Father of Tax Indexing.'' And 
no doubt, every taxpayer should thank him for his work on tax indexing 
because without it, many Americans would be forced to go into a higher 
tax bracket because of inflation. He fought for it because he believed 
that just because someone got a

[[Page S5105]]

well-deserved cost of living adjustment--or COLA--increase they 
shouldn't have to pay more taxes because of it.
  Bill Armstrong was also instrumental in the passage of the Colorado 
National Forest Wilderness Act of 1980 that helped preserve 1,400,000 
acres of land in Colorado. The lands, which stretch across the entire 
State, are areas visitors and Coloradans alike enjoy each and every 
  We can all only hope that when we pass on from this life it is first, 
not the memories others hold of our earthly accomplishments, but what 
God knows in our hearts to bring us truly home, and then to know we are 
remembered for the good we have done in this world. Long after our 
crowning achievements in Congress have faded away from memory, we can 
all only hope that we are remembered for who we were and the things we 
did to help lift others up and help them find their purpose in life. As 
evidenced by the tributes and statements made over the last week since 
his passing, Bill is known for just that. He lived out the Christian 
faith he taught. He led hundreds of prayer breakfasts and served on the 
board of Campus Crusade for Christ and Christian Businessmen's 
Committee USA. But perhaps more importantly, he was a mentor--as 
evidenced by the countless stories of students whose lives were changed 
just because of thoughtful words from Bill Armstrong.

  A staff assistant in my office wrote an email to me after his passing 
describing his ``life-changing conversations'' with Bill Armstrong--
part of which I'd like to read: ``The first time I met President 
Armstrong was before I started attending CCU. I asked to meet with him 
for five minutes, but true to Armstrong form, he took an hour out of 
his day to talk about the school and shared why it might be a good fit. 
After I was convinced and started at CCU, a year later I got to have 
lunch with him to discuss my interest in economics; he told me to 
pursue that passion at George Mason for graduate school--his words from 
that conversation are the reason I'm in D.C. . . . President 
Armstrong's legacy is bound up in the life he led, walking the walk, 
adhering to principles and a devotion to serving others.''
  Alan Simpson, on the day that Senator Armstrong was giving his 
farewell speech, said: You have heard the saying that you would rather 
see a sermon than hear a sermon. Alan Simpson and all of us got to see 
that every day in Bill Armstrong.
  On the day Senator Armstrong came to the Senate floor to say 
farewell, he was joined by others, including our colleagues and many 
others. He left the Senate in his farewell speech to colleagues, and 
from my understanding in conversations with his family, he left this 
life hearing these words from the Scriptures read by his family, from 
the last verse of the last book of the Holy Scriptures: The grace of 
the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
  As Senator Armstrong walked off the floor of the Senate, he served 
his fellow man over the last 10 years at Colorado Christian University. 
He served in the House, in the Senate, and in the Colorado Legislature. 
He has now walked into a far better place, where we all hope to join 
him some day.
  I yield to my colleague from Colorado.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The senior Senator from Colorado.
  Mr. BENNET. Mr. President, it is indeed a privilege to be here with 
my colleague Senator Gardner as we recognize the life of a dedicated 
Coloradan, former Senator Bill Armstrong.
  Last week, Senator Armstrong passed away after a 5-year battle with 
cancer. He is survived by his wife Ellen, daughter Anne, and son Will.
  He was an accomplished businessman, a longtime public servant, a 
dedicated educator, and, most importantly, a husband, father, and 
grandfather. He held strong principles and beliefs that he conveyed 
with eloquence and clarity. No one ever could question Senator 
Armstrong's devotion to Colorado or to his students.
  As a young entrepreneur, Senator Armstrong bought his first radio 
station at the age of 22 and began a long and successful business 
career. Over the course of his life, he owned or operated more than a 
dozen businesses, including radio station KEZW in Denver, Ambassador 
Media Corp, and the Sun newspaper in Colorado Springs. He also served 
as chairman of Oppenheimer Funds in Denver.
  Much of Senator Armstrong's adult life was driven by service, which 
began when he joined the U.S. Army National Guard, where he served from 
1957 to 1963. Following his military service, he began his almost three 
decades in public service. He was a member of both the Colorado House 
and Senate and served, as Senator Gardner said, as Senate majority 
leader before being elected to Congress in 1972.
  After three terms in the House of Representatives, he was elected to 
the Senate in 1978. Senator Armstrong brought to this Chamber real 
world experience, which is often in short supply; a business acumen, 
which is also often in shorter supply; and a deep belief in the 
potential of those he served in Colorado.
  His business background and his knowledge of economic issues earned 
him spots on the Banking, Budget, and Finance Committees. Throughout 
his time in the Senate, Senator Armstrong brought important attention 
to the deficit and budgetary issues. He was a founding member of the 
Senate Deficit Reduction Caucus. He ultimately chaired the Finance 
Subcommittee on Social Security, and President Reagan selected him to 
serve on the National Commission on Social Security Reform. This 
commission was not like those we see around here these days. It 
actually produced meaningful proposals and extended the longevity of 
the Social Security Program for decades and served as a model of how 
Congress can work together to tackle difficult and complicated issues.

  While Senator Armstrong was deeply conservative, he often found ways 
to forge bipartisan compromise. His service on the commission was 
emblematic of this approach, and it is an approach that is sorely 
lacking in Washington today.
  Senator Armstrong was also a strong advocate for our military and the 
men and women in uniform. He fought to honor those who served in the 
Korean war and to create a permanent GI bill. He recognized the 
importance of providing access to postsecondary education, a passion he 
continued to pursue long after he left this Chamber.
  He pushed increased pay for our servicemembers, especially to ensure 
that military families had sufficient economic support. In an opinion 
piece in the New York Times, he wrote: ``With the G.I. Bill to boost 
recruiting and pay increases to ease the retention problem, the all 
voluntary military forces can be preserved and we can end the 
disgraceful treatment of Americans in military uniform.'' His 
impassioned advocacy led the Army Times to call Armstrong ``the 
military pay champion'' of the Senate.
  As a Western State Senator, he, of course, worked on wilderness and 
conservation issues that are so important to our State, including the 
Colorado National Forest Wilderness Act of 1980. Because of his 
integrity and work ethic, his colleagues asked him to serve as chairman 
of the Senate Republican Policy Committee for 6 years.
  President Reagan once referred to Senator Armstrong as ``one of the 
strongest voices in the United States Senate.''
  President Bush called him ``one of the finest men . . . in 
Washington'' and ``one of the best and brightest.'' The best testaments 
to Senator Armstrong came from his own colleagues in the Senate:
  Former Senator Dole described him as having ``been widely recognized 
as one of the most gifted and persuasive speakers.''
  Senator Hatch said ``Senator Armstrong has been one of the most 
eloquent advocates in the Senate for his point of view.''
  Senator Cochran said: ``I do not know of anyone in this body who is 
more respected for his integrity and ability than is Bill Armstrong.''
  Finally, former Senator Wirth, my predecessor and his fellow Senator 
from Colorado, said the following:

       I do not think any individual has expressed his own views 
     more articulately than has Bill Armstrong, nor has anybody 
     pursued them more passionately than he has.
       I have enormous respect for that passion, Mr. President. It 
     is precisely that sense of indignation that sometimes Bill 
     Armstrong shows on various issues. It is the kind of 
     indignation that drives this institution, and should.

[[Page S5106]]

  That is quoting Tim Wirth.
  Like many of his predecessors and successors from Western States, the 
pace and discourse of the Senate was often confounding and frustrating, 
but he believed it to be ``the greatest legislative body in the 
world.'' He appreciated the role the institution plays in our country 
and felt it was an honor to serve here. But, more than just the 
institution, he loved his fellow Members. He loved the people of the 
Senate. He called them a family, brought together by ``shared 
experiences and ideals and great love of our country and aspirations 
for the future.''
  His respect and appreciation for the Senate, for the work we do here, 
and for the people here showed in his approach to the job. As Senator 
Wilson noted, ``in his zeal as an advocate he has been respectful of 
those who oppose him.'' More than that, he was, Senator Wilson 
believed, ``generous in terms of his own personal conduct, even in 
heated debate.''
  The Durango Herald called Senator Armstrong ``civil and patient in 
interacting with fellow members of Congress,'' and the Denver Post 
recognized Senator Armstrong's ``statesmanship.'' These are words and 
descriptions we don't often hear around this Chamber much anymore.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have these editorials 
printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                [From the, July 7, 2016]

     Bill Armstrong's Conservatism Allowed Room for Bipartisanship

                  (By the Denver Post Editorial Board)

       Bill Armstrong was a man of strong convictions. No one who 
     knew the former U.S. senator, who died this week at 79, would 
     quarrel with that statement, or with the fact that his 
     beliefs were both deeply conservative and religious.
       And yet Armstrong's most memorable accomplishment during 
     his 12 years in the Senate was almost certainly his service 
     in 1983 on the National Commission on Social Security Reform, 
     which recommended a bipartisan package of reforms that 
     Congress would ultimately enact. The deal involved sacrifice 
     on both ends of the political spectrum, including higher 
     payroll taxes, more benefits subject to taxation, a hike in 
     the retirement age, and a delay in the cost-of-living 
       The settlement didn't fully resolve Social Security's long-
     term funding woes, but it was a milestone compromise 
     nevertheless. And it remains instructive, since a similar 
     deal is unthinkable, unfortunately, in today's political 
       In today's Washington, a firebrand conservative as 
     dedicated to small government and low taxes as Armstrong was 
     would surely spurn such a commission as unworthy of his 
     time--if not an insult to his principles. But not only did 
     Armstrong participate, he became the panel's conservative 
     conscience in terms of insisting that any entitlement fix not 
     rely solely on additional payroll taxes. And his efforts paid 
     off in extracting concessions from Democrats even as he 
     reluctantly accepted more taxes.
       Such statesmanship on major issues is sorely lacking in 
     today's Congress--and yet the need to address entitlements' 
     mounting long-term liabilities, as well as complex issues 
     like immigration, has seldom been greater. Fortunately, such 
     stalemate is nowhere ordained as inevitable. Armstrong's 
     example on the 1983 commission provides reason for hope even 
     in today's divisive political culture.
       This newspaper did not always share the former senator's 
     political agenda--his vocal opposition to gay rights, for 
     example, was especially regrettable. But even those who 
     disagreed with him on major issues had to admire the 
     eloquence and civility with which he often framed his case. 
     And meanwhile, his signature concerns about the impact of 
     spending and taxes on average Americas led to significant 
     achievements, such as the indexing of the income tax--a 
     reform that loomed much larger when the memory of the 1970s' 
     high inflation was still fresh.
       Armstrong left the Senate on his own terms while still in 
     his 50s, an age when many career politicians are just hitting 
     their stride. And he would go on, years later, to put his 
     stamp on Colorado Christian University, spearheading 
     ambitious redevelopment plans to expand and update the campus 
     with state-of-the-art educational facilities. That he would 
     contemplate such a grand goal in his 70s surprised no one who 
     knew him well. Colorado has lost a giant in its political and 
     civic life.

                [From, July 10, 2016]

    Former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong Remembered for Approachability, 

       At a time when everyone is speculating as to how Congress 
     became so dysfunctional, with both parties refusing to 
     communicate and to compromise on almost every issue, we can 
     remember political figures in years past when that was not 
     the case. Bill Armstrong, who served two terms in the U.S. 
     Senate beginning in 1978 and who maintained deep fiscal and 
     social principles, was someone who was civil and patient in 
     interacting with fellow members of Congress and his 
     constituents and in advocating for what he believed. We 
     remember Armstrong during his visits to Southwest Colorado as 
     being approachable and a listener.
       Armstrong died last week at 79.
       Armstrong was unusual in attending but not graduating from 
     college, and he grew up and had his first business successes 
     in Nebraska before moving to Colorado. He was skilled at 
     owning and operating radio stations in that state initially, 
     and then radio and television stations in Colorado.
       Nor did Armstrong make a career out of politics. After 
     retiring from the Senate in January 1991, he left Washington, 
     and he eventually became president of Colorado Christian 
     University in Denver.
       Armstrong is best known for his fiscal discipline, and on 
     the social front for opposing gay rights initiatives. In the 
     latter, he was out of tune with the country and what was 
     right. He challenged President Ronald Reagan's proposed 1981 
     budget as too generous in future years, and succeeding in 
     having it reduced. In 1983 he was a member of a bipartisan 
     entitlement review commission that advocated higher Social 
     Security taxes for individuals and employers, reduced 
     benefits and a higher age eligibility, all in order to put 
     Social Security on stronger financial footing. Two of the 
     three were adopted (the higher age eligibility failed).
       Democrats were a part of the commission and needed to pass 
     the legislation, and Armstrong had both the political respect 
     and skills to help bring them on board.
       (Thirty-three years later, Social Security still requires 
     more of the same adjustments, and it was Republican plans in 
     that direction that have played a role in Donald Trump's rise 
     in popularity.)
       Sen. Bill Armstrong's demeanor and his willingness to join 
     with members of the other party to craft legislation for the 
     country's benefit is a reminder of what used to take place in 
     Congress. That is something that does not occur today.

  Mr. BENNET. Senator Armstrong once described himself as ``relatively 
inflexible on principles'' but ``flexible on the details.'' A former 
high school debater, he always spoke with passion and knowledge in an 
attempt to sway people his way. But when it came time to get the job 
done, he understood how to make a deal.
  Senator Armstrong had a fiercely passionate, strongly principled yet 
pragmatic, respectful, and constructive approach to his work. We could 
use a lot more of that around here.
  Later in life, Senator Armstrong decided to give back to his country 
and community in a different way--by serving as president of Colorado 
Christian University. He called his work at the university ``the most 
significant, energizing, and rewarding work I have ever undertaken.'' 
He had a vision for the college and for his students, and he devoted 
all his energy to their success.
  Under his leadership, Colorado Christian University has flourished. 
Enrollment more than doubled and freshman retention increased. The 
school has been ranked in the top 2 percent nationally for its core 
education and was named a ``college of distinction.'' The university's 
endowment has almost doubled. The school has begun substantial 
redevelopment plans to expand and update the campus. He cared deeply 
for his students and will be greatly missed by the CCU community.
  In fact, I recently asked Senator Armstrong for his input and 
perspective as part of a task force on higher education. I knew I could 
count on him to provide thoughtful advice on how to improve our system 
of higher education. He was glad to assist in our efforts.
  Senator Armstrong had a deep respect for democracy and our country's 
future. He represented a time when Members of Congress held true to 
their convictions but knew when to forge compromise for the greater 
good. His is a legacy that will benefit Americans for generations to 
come. His example will be missed and cherished by those of us who still 
serve in the Senate.
  There is one last point. None of us is going to be here forever, and 
we should keep that in mind. I think Senator Armstrong understood that. 
He was committed to stewardship when he was here in the Senate, and 
that is an example we should all follow.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.
  Mrs. ERNST. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to engage in a 
colloquy with my colleagues for 20 minutes, with the remaining time 
reserved for Senator McCain.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

[[Page S5107]]


                      Defense Appropriations Bill

  Mrs. ERNST. Thank you, Mr. President.
  I would like to thank my colleagues here today who are joining in 
this colloquy. We have the junior Senators from Alaska and Montana, and 
we hoped to be joined by the junior Senator from North Carolina as 
  As I stand here today, my brothers and sisters in arms are deployed 
overseas. Regardless of what the President tells us, our servicemembers 
are at war. They are in combat, and their combat boots are on the 
  I think our colleagues across the aisle have forgotten that as they 
continue to filibuster our Defense appropriations bill. We have men and 
women serving overseas. They are serving for us overseas. They also 
seem to have forgotten that all of those servicemembers are paying 
attention. I know because I was once one of those servicemembers 
deployed overseas, paying attention to the actions of the folks here in 
  Right now our servicemembers are watching the minority leader, and 
our enemies are watching just as closely.
  This bill appropriates $515.9 billion for our national security, and 
$900 million of this funding is for the National Guard, a critical arm 
to the security of the United States, where I served for 23-plus years.
  My National Guard unit is in the Middle East right now. My Iowa Army 
National Guard unit, the unit that I commanded as a battalion 
commander, is serving in the Middle East right now.
  The minority leader doesn't care about their safety while they 
selflessly serve to ensure ours. He doesn't care that this bill has 
funding for equipment critical to their mission. He doesn't care that 
their families are depending on them to come home safely, and he 
doesn't care that his actions once again make America look weak. The 
minority party is filibustering this bipartisan Defense appropriations 
bill solely at the expense of our men and women in uniform. Those are 
the facts on the ground today.
  I know the importance of this bill firsthand, and I stand here today 
ready to vote in favor of it, and I know my colleagues understand that 
as well.
  Once again, I want to thank the Members that are joining us in this 
colloquy today: the junior Senators from Alaska, Montana, and North 
Carolina. I know this is a very important issue to all of us.
  With that, I would like to turn to the junior Senator from Alaska, 
who also is a fellow in arms, Lt. Col. Dan Sullivan, U.S. Marine Corps, 
to hear his comments.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Iowa who has 
distinguished military service and just retired. We are honored that 
she is leading this colloquy today.
  I am honored to be here with some of my colleagues. Our freshman 
class sees this as a critical issue, and many of us have been on the 
floor all week to stress the importance of what Senator Ernst just 
spoke about--funding our troops and stopping this filibuster that 
denies our troops funding.
  Although we have been out here all week, I am not sure I have seen 
any of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle coming to the floor 
to try to explain to the American people why they have filibustered 
funding for our troops not once, not twice, not three times but four 
times in the last year. Hopefully, they will not do it again today for 
the fifth time.
  It has been a good week for the Senate. We passed the Comprehensive 
Addiction and Recovery Act, which was bipartisan. Senator Whitehouse, 
Senator Portman, and Senator Ayotte led that. We passed the FAA 
authorization, led by Senator Thune and Senator Nelson, which will 
protect the American people in the aviation space.
  But we have more important work today on defense issues and on 
national security issues, and much of it is dealing with supporting our 
troops. This is not a partisan issue. They need the support.
  This past week, the President and Secretary of Defense have made many 
more commitments with regard to our troops, with 8,400 troops in 
Afghanistan, 560 additional troops in Iraq, 1,000 additional troops in 
Poland and a battalion headquarters, and two carrier battle groups in 
the South China Sea. They are protecting us, they are supporting us, 
and we should be doing the same. It is that simple.
  Along with my colleagues, I find it amazing, remarkable, and, to be 
quite honest, I find it sad that the minority leader is encouraging a 
filibuster of the Defense appropriations bill again for the fifth time 
in a year.
  I think my colleagues on the other side of the aisle should reject 
this approach. They are going to have the opportunity in the next hour 
to come down here and actually vote to fund our troops, and I guarantee 
that regardless of what State they are from, regardless of what 
political party they represent, the American people in every State of 
the United States support funding our troops and dropping this 
ridiculous filibuster against the men and women in uniform who are out 
there right now protecting us.
  I call on all of my colleagues to do the right thing by our troops 
and by the American people and to vote today to fund our troops.
  All of my colleagues have been very focused on this, but no more so 
than my colleagues from Iowa, North Carolina, and Montana. All of us 
have significant military populations and experience.
  I yield the floor to my colleague from Montana, Senator Daines, to 
further discuss this important issue.
  Mr. DAINES. I thank Senator Sullivan.
  What an honor to stand here today next to two lieutenant colonels--
Lieutenant Colonel Ernst and Lieutenant Colonel Sullivan.
  Lieutenant Colonel Ernst was the first woman to ever serve in combat 
and also serve in the U.S. Senate. I am truly grateful for their 
  I thank them also for organizing this colloquy and bringing us 
together. The leadership they provide as Members who have worn and do 
wear the uniform of the U.S. military and also serve in the Senate is 
critical in this most perilous time for our Nation as we face the many 
threats around the world--and to think that the Senate is going to 
recess tonight for an extended summer recess and leaving the very 
important unfinished business of funding the U.S. military and our 
  Today the Senate Democrats are expected to once again block the 
consideration of the Defense Appropriations Act of 2017, denying our 
troops proper funding and support they deserve. What kind of message 
does that send to the men and women who are today putting their lives 
at risk to protect our country? What message does that send to them?
  As Senator Sullivan said, and Senator Ernst, this is not the first 
time. It is not the second time. It is not the third time. It is not 
the fourth time. It is the fifth time we will see our friends across 
the aisle, Senate Democrats, filibuster the funding of our troops. This 
reminds me of ``Goundhog Day.''
  What is even more frustrating, the Senate Democrats are refusing to 
even debate the issue. I spent 28 years in the private sector. I will 
tell you, one way to assure you don't get anything done is to not even 
discuss it. That seems to be the road the Senate Democrats are taking. 
It is the low road, not the high road.
  They would prefer to once again obstruct what we call regular order 
in this body, much in the same fashion they did during the past few 
years, which became the hallmark of a failed Democratic-led Senate 
majority. While our troops are actively engaged in multiple theaters 
across the world, and they need the critical support for our growing 
mission overseas, my friends from across the aisle are actively 
blocking our troops from being combat-ready.
  Let's remember--just remember this: A few short weeks ago, the House 
of Representatives passed this bill on a solid bipartisan vote, 282 to 
138--48 Democrats supported that bill. It passed with strong bipartisan 
support. Then, over here on the Senate side--I serve on the 
Appropriations Committee. We passed this bill out of the Appropriations 
Committee by a vote of 30 to 0--30 to 0. That is called a shutout, that 
is called running up the score.
  I remember that clearly. Not one Democrat opposed this bill to fund 
our troops when it passed out of committee. Yet, when it comes to the 
floor, the Senate minority leader now is instructing the Senate 
Democrats to filibuster getting the bill even debated

[[Page S5108]]

here as well as passed on the Senate floor. What has changed? What has 
changed? Nothing has changed, except for the fact that our troops are 
not getting the funding and support they need. Is that what you really 
want, Mr. Minority Leader?
  The passage of this legislation is critical to carrying out the 
missions in an increasingly dangerous world. I can tell you one thing: 
Our enemies are not waiting for Senate Democrats to fund our troops and 
make it a fair fight. This bill pays the salaries of 1.2 million 
military Active Duty, 800,000 Reservists. The Senate Democrats are 
saying no to almost 10,000 troops engaged, right now as we speak, in 
combat in Afghanistan, an additional 5,000 troops in harm's way in 
Iraq, and many more throughout the globe.
  I come from Montana. We have one of the highest per capita vet 
populations in the United States. I am proud of the Malmstrom Air Force 
Base. We have one-third of our Nation's ICBMs ready at any moment here 
to defend our freedom. They silently sit across the plains of Montana. 
Senate Democrats are failing them. It is unacceptable.
  As the Senate heads home for the work period, I challenge my 
Democratic colleagues to go back home and look at those veterans and 
those Active-Duty troops in the eyes and ask: Did I serve these 
selfless men and woman or did I let the minority leader of the 
Democrats play cheap party politics with funding their pay? The 
minority leader's constituents in Nevada deserve more, Montanans 
deserve more, and the American people deserve more.
  I want to now recognize the junior Senator from North Carolina Thom 
Tillis, who has an amazing group of Active military and veterans there 
in North Carolina. I am proud to stand here with Senator Tillis. I look 
forward to what Senator Tillis has to say.
  Mr. TILLIS. I thank Senator Daines for all the work he does in 
supporting our troops, and Lieutenant Colonels Sullivan and Ernst, I 
thank them for their service to the Nation--their continued service. I 
thank Senator Sullivan for continuing to pound on this. It is 
  Yesterday, or earlier this week, I talked about how this is 
approaching personal with me. I am going to try and not get as loud as 
I got a couple of days ago, but I want to talk about what this means. I 
want to talk about the process, an appropriations process where all 30 
members of the Appropriations Committee, including 14 Democrats, voted 
for this bill.
  What we are trying to do now is have the broader membership vote for 
it and send it out of the Chamber. All Democrats--and I would not be 
surprised, if you went on their social media presences or if you took a 
look at press releases, that they rightfully announced to their 
constituents how they voted to support a bipartisan appropriations bill 
coming out of committee.
  Now, I want them to follow up with a press statement that says Harry 
Reid tells me I have to vote no now. I have to say no to troops. I am 
not going to support providing critical funding for training and 
readiness and overseas contingency operations. I don't know about you 
all--in the Gallery or people watching on C-SPAN--I don't feel 
particularly comfortable with the situation around the globe. I don't 
like what Russia is doing.
  So we have to put resources in portions of Europe to make sure we can 
counter the potential threat there. I don't like what China is doing in 
the South China Sea. So we are having to pay more attention to that and 
have resources looking at it to protect that region. I generally don't 
like what Iran is doing. I mean, they have welched on commitments they 
made in the Iran nuclear deal. They are funding Hezbollah and Hamas and 
the Iran terror network across the world, including this hemisphere. I 
don't like what is going on in Syria. I think Iraq has problems, much 
of it created as a result of the President's withdrawal. Well, good 
news. He recognizes that maybe we need to increase our presence there. 
How are we going to pay for those extra 564 soldiers that are going to 
secure the airstrip that was won over by the Iraqi forces? Where does 
it come from?
  That is a commitment he has made so it is going to come from 
somewhere else. It is certainly not going to come from the increased 
funding we are trying to get through this appropriations bill. I don't 
know about you all, but I believe the generals and the intelligence 
community that come before our committee and say we are in some of the 
most dangerous times in their lives. The threats are everywhere. 
America has to lead because when America doesn't lead, the world is a 
less safe place. America leads. The tip of the spear is our armed 
services, our presence across the globe to protect the freedom of other 
nations and to protect our own freedom. Failing to vote for this bill 
is failing to make sure they are trained, equipped, and capable of 
defending freedom.
  I want to talk about the personal side of things for the folks down 
at Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune and Seymour Johnson and New River and 
Cherry Point--marines, airmen, people in the 82nd Airborne, the 18th 
Airborne Corps, and the conversations I bet they are having with their 
husbands or wives.
  When they come home from training and they hear the commanders down 
at Fort Bragg say: We are just not getting enough repetition in. We are 
trying to teach these men and women how to jump out of planes in 
hostile situations with 100 pounds of equipment connected to them and 
do that safely.
  I don't know about many people, but I don't think I would want to do 
that if I weren't trained and ready and had the muscle memory to make 
sure I was going to do that safely. The Global Response Force down at 
Fort Bragg takes it to another level. They not only have to drop 1,000 
or so men and women out of planes, they also have to drop entire cities 
out of planes: earth movers, weather stations, medical hospitals, all 
the things you need to provide relief in the event of a disaster or 
that you need to support a combat operation. We are sapping the 
resources to be able to do that.
  So here is how the discussion, I think, goes with the men or women 
who go home before they get deployed:
  Honey, I am about to be deployed somewhere.
  Maybe it is Iraq, maybe it is Afghanistan, some other part of the 
  I am a little bit nervous because I only got about 80 percent of the 
training I really needed, that the Army or the Air Force or the Marines 
deem necessary for me to be able to do that job safely and be certain I 
can complete the mission. I am sorry, Hon, I have sworn to defend this 
country. So I am going to do it, but I know I am not at the level of 
training and capability I should be.
  Then they say goodbye and that spouse, hopefully, sees that person 
come home again. So, you know, guys, politics is an interesting thing. 
Debate is an interesting thing. We have heard the theater on the floor 
today that has nothing to do with the vote we have before us. We have 
heard global warming. We have heard all of these other things. What we 
have not heard is from the Democrats who voted for this precise bill.
  Some people lead you to believe it has changed since they voted for 
it. It has not changed. It is precisely the same bill, but they have a 
minority leader who says: Don't vote for it. Play my game. Let us then 
come down here and say: Do your job.
  We are doing our job right now. Joni Ernst is doing her job. Dan 
Sullivan is doing his job. Steve Daines is doing his job. I am doing my 
job by saying: You guys went into a committee and you voted for this 
bill. You went home and told everybody you are supporting our troops. 
Now you have a minority leader who is telling you: Don't do your job 
and let's go on the floor and pretend those of us who want to support 
our troops are not doing our job.
  It is disingenuous, at best, and it is dishonest, at worst. My 
colleagues here, we need to pound this issue. I need to go home and be 
able to tell the story and say: We support you, Fort Bragg. We support 
you. We are going to do everything we can to get this bill passed.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, parliamentary inquiry: How much time is 
remaining on the Republican side?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is a total of 6 minutes remaining on the 
Republican side. Senator Ernst has 1 minute left in her colloquy.
  Mrs. ERNST. Mr. President, I yield back my time.

[[Page S5109]]


  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I reserve the remainder of my time until 
just before the vote at 11:30.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum, and I 
ask unanimous consent that my time be preserved for the remaining 7 
minutes before the vote.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. McCAIN. 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. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that Senator 
Perdue be recognized for 5 minutes and that it not be taken from my 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Georgia.
  Mr. PERDUE. Mr. President, I appreciate the accommodation.
  I would like to add to what has been said here in the last few 
  We are at a very critical juncture during this Congress and, indeed, 
in our country. What I want to talk about today is the nonsense that is 
going on right now on funding our military. These are men and women in 
uniform around the world whose mission it is to protect our freedom.
  Let me remind everybody that there were only six reasons why the 
Thirteen Colonies got together in the first place to create this Union. 
One of those was to provide for the national defense. Yet here we are 
basically trying to do what the President has asked--fund the 
military--and we are being obstructed by the people across the aisle. I 
just don't understand that.
  Right now, we have people who are in danger of not being able to 
fulfill their missions around the world. A member of the Foreign 
Relations Committee, I have traveled extensively over the last 1\1/2\ 
years. Around the world, I have seen where dedicated men and women 
don't have the resources to fulfill their missions, and it endangers 
the very freedom we have here at home.
  I believe this is a critical point in this Congress to tell the 
American people that we are either going to break through this gridlock 
and move to do what is right or we are going to sit here on our hands 
and argue the political side of this while our men and women are in 
  One of the hardest things to understand right now is the fact that in 
the last 30 years, we literally have continued to disinvest in our 
military. This chart shows how we have disinvested in the military 
under the last three Democratic Presidents. This green line is a chart 
of the percentage of GDP we spend on our military. It has gotten down 
all the way to where today we are spending 3 percent of our GDP. It is 
the lowest point in the last 30 years. I will say this: The 30-year 
average here is about 4.2 percent. That differential is 100 basis 
points. What that means is, in the size of the economy today, it is 
about $200 billion. Put that in perspective. We are spending about $600 
billion on our military today. Can you imagine what a difference that 
would make?
  The last time a Secretary of Defense put a budget up based on a 
bottom-up estimate of need based on the missions around the world--it 
was Secretary Gates in 2011. In 2011, he estimated that for 2016 and 
2017--what we are talking about here in their budget--his estimate was 
some tens of billions of dollars more than what we are doing now. His 
estimate was prior to ISIS and prior to Russia's activity in Crimea, 
Ukraine, and Georgia.
  What happens now is that in the next 10 years, unless something is 
done--under the current Presidential plan of spending for the next 10 
years, not only are we going to add $9.5 trillion to our debt, but we 
are going to reduce military spending to 2.6 percent of GDP. That is 
another roughly $100 billion of cuts if the economy stays the same.
  I just don't understand this brinksmanship that we see. This is not 
the first time; I think this is the fifth time we are going to have 
voted on funding our military. The reaction of the other side befuddles 
me from the standpoint that they tell us they want to support our men 
and women. They give us these heart-wrenching stories, and yet they 
won't stand up and even let us get the bill on the floor.
  To be brief, it is time for the Democrats to stop the obstructionism 
and the political showmanship. This is about the security of our 
country, about the lives of our men and women abroad. They deserve 
better than this. We can do better than this.
  The world is more dangerous than at any time in my lifetime. It is 
time that we stand up and tell the world what we are committed to, and 
that is to provide for our own national defense. That means funding 
this Defense appropriations bill.
  Mr. President, I yield back the remainder of my time.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. McCAIN. 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. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask to be recognized, and if the Senator 
from New Hampshire, Mrs. Shaheen, comes to the floor, I would yield to 
her until the time that I already have reserved.
  Mr. President, we are about to vote on a couple of motions to 
instruct the conferees on the Defense authorization bill and the 
Defense appropriations bill to move forward on it. All of these votes 
are very vital to the future of this Nation in a time of turmoil, a 
time of the greatest number of refugees since the end of World War II, 
threats throughout the world, and attacks on the United States of 
  Very appropriately, Senator Sullivan's motion to instruct the 
conferees is for us to account for and authorize funding for the recent 
actions taken by the President of the United States and the Secretary 
of Defense--a force of 8,400 sailors, airmen, and marines within 
Afghanistan; the President's budget for the European Reassurance 
Initiative, which is additional funds sufficient to enable the air, 
ground, and amphibious force structure to fulfill the commitment that 
Secretary Carter made at the Shangri-La dialogue within the Pacific 
theater. The list goes on and on.
  Every time we turn around, we hear of another increase in our 
military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and buildups, for example, in 
Eastern Europe, which was recently decided at a meeting of the NATO 
nations. Yet, with all of these promises and commitments, we see no 
request for additional funding to take care of these new missions and 
new requirements for our military activities. So I think Senator 
Sullivan's motion is entirely in order.
  Does it really make sense to have these very large, when you put them 
all together--billions of dollars of increased requirements, announce 
them with great fanfare, and yet never come over--not yet once--to 
request additional funding for them? That is obviously, at best, 
  So I urge my colleagues' support for the motion by Senator Sullivan 
to disagree and insist that the final conference include authorization 
for the commitments that are described in the motion.
  The second, of course, is an issue that has been plaguing us or has 
been the subject of great discussion and debate and heartache, frankly, 
on the floor of the Senate, and that is the issue of the Afghan special 
immigrant visas.
  It is heartbreaking that Members of the Senate, for their own 
parochial interests--just a couple, actually--would block this 
legislation, which calls for us to be able to bring to the United 
States these people who literally risked their lives on our behalf and 
whose lives are in danger as we speak.
  My colleagues don't have to take my word for it. Ambassador Ryan 
Crocker--probably the most distinguished diplomat I know--speaking of 
these interpreters, recently wrote: ``This is truly a matter of life 
and death.''
  I repeat what Ambassador Crocker said:

       This is a matter of life and death. I know hundreds of 
     people who have been threatened because of their affiliation 
     with the United States. Some have been killed. Today, many 
     are in hiding, praying that the United States keeps its word. 
     We can and must do better.

  General Petraeus said:

[[Page S5110]]


       Many of our Afghan allies have not only been mission-
     essential--serving as the eyes and ears of our own troops and 
     often saving American lives--they have risked their own and 
     their families' lives in the line of duty.

  General Petraeus has stated eloquently that these individuals put 
their lives on the line to save the lives of American service men and 
women, and yet we have Members of this body who block a proposal to 
allow them to come to the United States of America. Remarkable. 
  General Nicholson, our commander in Afghanistan, said:

       It is my firm belief that abandoning this program would 
     significantly undermine our credibility and the 15 years of 
     tremendous sacrifice by thousands of Afghans on behalf of 
     Americans and Coalition partners.

  I say to my colleagues, this is pretty straightforward. This is a 
pretty straightforward issue. That we even have to do this is testimony 
to the nature of the way we seem to be doing business around here, and 
that is that people would literally put the lives of our allies in 
danger for their own parochial interests, for their own amendment, 
which they are demanding not only be taken up but passed, which has 
nothing to do with the lives of these great individuals who saved the 
lives of Americans and whose lives are in danger, according to our 
military leaders and our most respected diplomats.
  Retired GEN Stanley McChrystal, an individual known to all of us, 
said: ``Protecting these allies is as much a matter of American 
national morality as it is American national security.''

  In the view of General McChrystal, one of our great, outstanding 
leaders, we are talking about our moral obligation.
  I hope and pray we will get a unanimous vote on this motion to 
  Finally, we are going to again have a vote to move forward on the 
Defense appropriations bill. I understand that it probably will fail, 
and that is an unbelievable act. It is unbelievable, given the 
situation in the world today and the threats we face--in the words of 
the Director of National Intelligence, in the words of the Director of 
the CIA, there will be further attacks on the United States of 
America--that my friends on the other side of the aisle are refusing to 
take up the legislation that pays for the defense of this Nation. It is 
beyond belief.
  I don't like provisions in the Defense appropriations bill, and I 
have made it very clear, and I want us to be able to take it up and 
amend to make it better. Maybe some of us--maybe a majority of us have 
priorities that were not in the Defense appropriations bill. Suppose we 
don't like the fact that they appropriated $1 billion for an icebreaker 
that has nothing to do with defense or that they have this long laundry 
list of porkbarrel projects that they call scientific research 
projects. I want to debate and amend those.
  A lot has happened since the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee 
unanimously passed out the Defense appropriations bill. A lot has 
happened, and all 100 of us should have the ability to amend and make 
it better. Instead, we are being put down on the path to a continuing 
resolution and an omnibus bill on which there will not be debate and 
amendments to make it better for the men and women who are serving.
  The President just announced that we are going to have 8,400 men and 
women who are serving this country in Afghanistan instead of 5,400-
some. Shouldn't we take that in consideration in our deliberations on 
the appropriations bill? Shouldn't we accommodate for that, as is our 
role and obligation as the Congress of the United States? We have the 
power of the purse.
  We are now looking at a situation where we have a world that is 
literally on fire. That is apparent every day we pick up the newspaper 
or turn on the television. Instead of having a robust debate and 
discussion and amendments as to how we can best defend this Nation, we 
are going to again have my friends on the other side of the aisle stop 
us from taking it up. Why? The Appropriations Committee reported it out 
  The Democratic leader said that he didn't want another ``McCain 
amendment'' that would increase funding for defense without a 
commensurate increase in funding for nondefense. I have said to my 
colleagues: If you are talking about the CIA, if you are talking about 
homeland security, if you are talking about other agencies of 
government to protect this Nation, then fine.
  Mr. President, I note the presence of the Senator from New Hampshire 
on the floor. I ask unanimous consent that she be granted 5 minutes and 
that I be granted 2 minutes after that.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The time of the Senator from Arizona has 
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I am thankful to my colleague from 
  I am pleased to be here on the floor because in a few minutes I am 
going to be offering a motion to instruct the conferees for the NDAA to 
extend the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program and to authorize 
additional visas for deserving applicants.
  For those of us who remember the debates we had on the floor during 
the NDAA, we will remember that we had come to an agreement. The 
opponents of this program had agreed with John McCain and me that we 
needed to keep the promises we had made to so many of those Afghan 
interpreters who made a life-and-death difference in helping our 
service men and women on the ground in Afghanistan as they fought the 
  This is a program that Senator McCain and I have worked on for 
several years. We have been successful in previous years in getting 
this extension and keeping the word--the promise we made to those 
Afghan interpreters and keeping the word of the American Government 
that we are going to help those who helped us. Yet we go into this NDAA 
conference without an extension of the Special Immigrant Visa Program.
  Without congressional action, the Afghan SIV Program will largely 
sunset around December. It will leave thousands of Afghans who stood 
alongside our men and women and other government personnel at severe 
  I talked to a woman this morning who told me the story of an Afghan 
interpreter who just arrived in the United States last night. She said 
he had been waiting 3 years to get his special immigrant visa. During 
that time, he was so worried about his family that he slept in another 
room at night when he went to bed so that if the Taliban found them, 
they would kill only him and not the rest of his family.
  This country owes a great debt to the Afghans who provided essential 
assistance to our mission in Afghanistan, the thousands of brave men 
and women who, like this man who just arrived in the United States, put 
themselves and their families at risk to help our soldiers and our 
diplomats accomplish their mission and return home safely. Congress 
must not turn its back on these individuals. That outcome would be a 
moral failing, and it would also carry significant national security 
strategic costs going forward.
  So I would hope that when we have this vote on the motion to instruct 
that my colleagues will agree with Senator McCain and I that this is 
something we need to do. We need to make sure one of the things that 
comes out of that NDAA conference is an agreement to extend those 
special visas to those individuals who were still in the pipeline.
  Thank you, Mr. President. I thank my colleague from Arizona for all 
of his work to try to get this done, and I hope that by working 
together, we can make this happen.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I want to thank the Senator from New 
Hampshire for her leadership, her dedication, and tenacity in making 
sure this issue is not dispensed with until it is finished and we 
fulfill our commitment to the men and women who are serving, who have 
literally sacrificed their lives as interpreters for the good welfare 
and the safety of our members in the uniformed military, whom the 
Senator from New Hampshire and I hear from all the time on behalf of 
their interpreters. We hear from them all the time, saying: Don't 
abandon them. They saved my life.
  Can't we understand how important this moral obligation is?
  Finally, I hope my colleagues will not vote to block consideration of 
the Defense appropriations bill. We need to debate, we need to improve, 
and we

[[Page S5111]]

need to provide for the needs of the military and this Nation's 
security in an ever-changing environment.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.

                             Cloture Motion

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. 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:
  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 disagree in the House amendment, agree to the request by the 
House for a conference, and to appoint conferees with respect to S. 
2943, an original bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2017 
for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military 
construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, 
to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for 
other purposes, shall be brought to a close?
  The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Utah (Mr. Lee).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Minnesota (Mr. Franken) 
and the Senator from Minnesota (Ms. Klobuchar) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 90, nays 7, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 130 Leg.]





                             NOT VOTING--3

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 90, the nays are 7.
  Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in 
the affirmative, the motion is agreed to.
  Under the previous order, the compound motion to go to conference is 
agreed to.
  The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the next 
two votes be 10 minutes in length.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from New Hampshire.

                           Motion to Instruct

  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I have a motion to instruct which is at 
the desk, and I ask for its consideration.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.
  The bill clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from New Hampshire [Mrs. Shaheen] moves that 
     the managers on the part of the Senate at the conference on 
     the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on S. 2943 (the 
     National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017) be 
     instructed to insist that the final conference report include 
     language to extend the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program 
     through December 31, 2017 and authorize additional visas to 
     ensure visas are available for applicants who meet the 
     criteria under the program.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I rise in support of my motion to 
instruct the Senate National Defense Authorization Act conferees to 
extend the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program and authorize 
additional visas for deserving applicants. The SIV Program allows 
Afghans who supported the United States mission in Afghanistan to seek 
refuge in this country because they face grave threats as a result of 
helping our men and women on the ground there.
  I just wish to point out that when we had the debate on the NDAA, we 
had an agreement on what an amendment to extend the Special Immigrant 
Visa Program would look like. That amendment would have allowed for 
2,500 additional special immigrant visas to cover those people still in 
the pipeline who are facing threats because of helping American 
soldiers. And while we had agreement from the majority of the body, 
unfortunately, because of an unrelated issue, we were not able to get 
this amendment passed.
  This is an opportunity for us to come back at this and do what is 
right, do what our commanders and our diplomats say we need to do for 
the national security interests of America. So I hope all of my 
colleagues will join me in supporting this motion to instruct.
  I would like to now ask my partner in this effort, Senator McCain, if 
he would say a few words.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 2 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, as soon 
as Senator McCain speaks in favor of this, I ask unanimous consent to 
speak for 2 minutes in opposition.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is 2 minutes in opposition remaining, 
and the Senator from Arizona is asking for 2 additional minutes.
  Mr. SESSIONS. I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Arizona has 25 seconds remaining.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, please don't take my word for it. How 
about general David Petraeus. Many of our Afghan allies have not only 
been mission-essential, serving as the eyes and ears of our own troops 
and often saving American lives, they have risked their own and their 
families' lives in the line of duty.
  This program falls far short and has serious national security 
implications. Ambassador Ryan Crocker: This is truly a matter of life 
and death. I know hundreds of people who have been threatened because 
of their affiliation with the United States.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The time of the Senator has expired.
  Mr. McCAIN. I ask for an additional 30 seconds.
  Mr. SESSIONS. I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Who yields time in opposition?
  The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I worked with Senator McCain and Senator 
Shaheen, and we agreed to 2,500 new refugees who would enter under this 
program, and we had some language in there that tightened it up. This 
legislation allows an unlimited number to come here under the program 
and does not have the language that tightens up the program and brings 
it to an end eventually. That is the difference of opinion at this 
  I am disappointed this was brought up, and last night we first 
learned about it.
  I would just note, there are 7,000 visas authorized over the last few 
years; only 3,500 have been used and 3,500 remain. The House extends 
the program. It does not add any additional number. They considered it 
at length. Chairman Goodlatte opposes this.
  Also, the motion fails to acknowledge the need to pay for and 
prioritize the visas. These visas will cost, according to CBO, $281 
million over 10 years. Just 2,500 would cost that much so this has an 
unlimited number.
  I think the right thing for us to do is to not agree to this motion 
to instruct.
  I would be glad to work with Senator McCain and Senator Shaheen and 
support the agreement we reached last time that got blocked by other 
Members for other reasons, but I oppose this because it is unlimited, 
it is unpaid for, and I don't believe it is necessary based on the 
facts on the ground.

[[Page S5112]]


  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Point of order, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, may I ask for a clarification? The vote 
we are having is not on a particular piece of legislation; is that 
correct? This is on a motion to instruct the conferees so it does not 
deal with the particular piece of legislation Senator Sessions has 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. That is correct. The vote before the Senate is 
on the Senator's motion to instruct the managers on this matter.
  All time has expired.
  The question is on agreeing to the motion.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Idaho (Mr. Crapo) and the Senator from Utah (Mr. Lee).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Minnesota (Mr. Franken) 
and the Senator from Minnesota (Ms. Klobuchar) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Fischer). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 84, nays 12, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 131 Leg.]





                             NOT VOTING--4

  The motion was agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.

                           Motion to Instruct

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Madam President, I have a motion to instruct at the 
desk and ask for its consideration.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Alaska [Mr. Sullivan] moves that the 
     managers on the part of the Senate at the conference on 
     the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on S. 2943 (the 
     National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017) 
     be instructed to insist that the final conference report 
     include authorization for the following commitments 
     recently made by the President and Secretary of Defense:
       Maintaining a force of approximately 8,400 soldiers, 
     sailors, airmen and Marines within Afghanistan into 2017 as 
     announced by President Obama on July 6th to continue to train 
     and advise Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism 
       The President's budget request for the European Reassurance 
     Initiative to establish increased rotational presence in 
     Europe, provide ample United States Armed Forces end strength 
     and combat capability to meet all regional contingency plans, 
     increase operational responsiveness of the North Atlantic 
     Treaty Organization, and to fulfill President Obama's 
     commitment to move forward with ``the most significant 
     reinforcement of collective defense anytime during the Cold 
       Sufficient naval, air, ground and amphibious force 
     structure and weapons systems to fulfil the commitment made 
     by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter at the Shangri-La 
     Dialogue that within the Asia-Pacific theater ``the United 
     States will remain the most powerful military and main 
     underwriter of security in the region for decades to come'';
       Sufficient levels of military forces, munitions, logistics 
     support, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance 
     assets, and other enabling support, and the deployment of 
     sufficient operational capabilities to meet President Obama's 
     commitment to go after ISIL aggressively until it's removed 
     from Syria and Iraq and finally destroyed.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Madam President, I rise to support my motion to 
instruct in relation to the NDAA of 2017. In the past few weeks the 
President and the Secretary of Defense have made additional military 
commitments across the globe for our men and women in uniform, and we 
have read about these. These include 560 troops to Iraq to help 
reinforce the fight against ISIS, a decision to keep 8,400 members of 
the military in Afghanistan fighting against terrorism, 1,000 troops in 
Poland and a headquarters to beef up NATO's eastern flank, as well as 
two carrier strike groups in the South China Sea to protect freedom of 
the seas.
  I believe many of us are supportive of these commitments. However, in 
order to support these pledges, we need to make sure we fully authorize 
these commitments so our brave men and women in uniform have everything 
they need to fight and win these battles.
  When our service men and women train here and deploy abroad, they 
need to know that the Congress of the United States and the Senate of 
the United States stand with them. Supporting this motion to instruct 
lets them know we have their back, as we should.
  I yield to my colleague from Rhode Island, Senator Reed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. REED. Madam President, we worked with Senator Sullivan on this 
instruction. It is consistent, as the Senator has indicated, with the 
President's proposal with respect to force structure in Afghanistan and 
with our European Reassurance Initiative, where we are increasing our 
presence and cooperating more closely with our European allies. It is 
consistent with our position in the Pacific as articulated by Secretary 
of Defense Ash Carter. It is consistent with proposals that have been 
made in other areas, and it does not expand the authority of the 
President. It simply recognizes what he has asked not just of our 
Congress but more importantly of the men and women who wear the uniform 
in the United States. This instruction will help us in our 
deliberations, and I would thank the Senator and urge its passage.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Madam President, as you can see, there is bipartisan 
support for this measure. I ask that all my colleagues support it now.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, the motion offered by Senator Sullivan 
to instruct conferees to the Defense authorization bill includes 
several important proposals.
  First, it urges conferees to fully fund the cost of overseas military 
operations, including our commitment to Afghanistan. This stands in 
sharp contrast to the irresponsible House proposal to cut off war 
funding on April 30, 2017. This provision is reckless and short-sighted 
and is the subject of a veto threat by the administration.
  Second, it endorses full funding of the European Reassurance 
Initiative. This is the administration's most important response to 
Russia's aggression in the Ukraine and threatening behavior towards our 
European friends and allies.
  The President's budget request quadrupled spending on this effort, 
from $789 million this year to $3.4 billion next year. In light of the 
recent NATO conference, full support for the European Reassurance 
Initiative is critical to demonstrating the American commitment for the 
security of the people of Poland, the Baltics, and many other countries 
who are worried about Vladimir Putin.
  Third, the motion endorses statements made by Secretary of Defense

[[Page S5113]]

Ash Carter that highlight the U.S. commitment to maintaining the 
strongest, most capable Armed Forces in the world.
  The commitment calls to mind the testimony of Vice Chairman of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva, earlier this year, before 
the Senate Armed Services Committee: ``I will take umbrage with the 
notion that our military has been gutted. So I stand here today a 
person that's worn this uniform for 35 years. At no time in my career 
have I been more confident than this in saying we have the most 
powerful military on the face of the planet.''
  Finally, the motion endorses all the necessary military tools to meet 
the President's commitment to destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria. So far, 
our campaign against ISIL has resulted in their loss of nearly half 
their territory in Iraq, and nearly a quarter in Syria.
  The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency warned that ISIL 
remains very dangerous and is likely plotting or inspiring more 
terrorist attacks. We must keep up the pressure on ISIL, using not only 
our military but all of our intelligence, law enforcement, diplomatic, 
and financial enforcement tools that our Nation has.
  I have concerns that our government can do more to stop the ISIL 
threat that is not limited to our military campaign. For example, after 
the tragic shooting in Orlando, the American people heard stories of 
the labor-intensive effort that is required for the FBI to track the 
many tips relating to domestic terrorism sent in by the public.
  Defeating ISIL will require the use of every tool at the disposal of 
our government, not just our Armed Forces. We should ask ourselves: if 
ISIL is squeezed out of Syria and Iraq, where are they going to go? And 
are we doing enough intelligence, law enforcement, and diplomatic work 
to catch ISIL terrorists as they cross international borders?
  It is my hope that Congress will be able to negotiate an omnibus 
appropriations bill this fall, and we should reject one-sided solutions 
that only address one part of the ISIL threat. I hope we can address 
that issue in the same bipartisan way that I expect the Senate to 
support these motions made by the Senator from Alaska.