(Senate - September 29, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 148 (Thursday, September 29, 2016)]
[Pages S6252-S6254]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, yesterday we finally were able to move 
legislation forward that would keep the lights on here in Washington, 
at least until December, and provided very important relief that I want 
to emphasize.
  There is flood relief for States like Texas, but not just Texas--
Maryland, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Iowa, all of which will benefit 
from the flood relief that is provided for in this continuing 
resolution that was passed yesterday and was passed by the House as 
  More importantly, perhaps, is the support for veterans programs and 
military construction. It is important that we pass legislation to meet 
our responsibilities to support our men and women in uniform wherever 
they may be serving, whether here at home or abroad.
  Thanks to the leadership of the Senator from Ohio and the Senator 
from New Hampshire, we passed legislation that will provide additional 
funds to deal with the opioid epidemic that is ravaging many parts of 
our country. As a medical doctor, the Presiding Officer knows that 
people unfortunately get hooked on opioid prescription drugs. 
Frequently, when that runs out, they often opt for cheaper, more 
plentiful heroin, which, when mixed with other ingredients such as 
fentanyl, makes it even more deadly and more likely that they will 
overdose with the use of this heroin laced with fentanyl. We have 
provided additional funds in this continuing resolution to deal with 
  Finally, but very significantly, we also were able to break the 
impasse over funding for Zika. As we have come to learn, Zika is a 
mosquito-borne virus that has the potential of causing terrible birth 
defects in children. We have seen pictures of children with shrunken 
skulls from the microcephaly caused by this terrible mosquito-borne 
  We had been trying since last May to get that Zika funding done. For 
some reason, even though the amount of the funding, $1.1 billion, was 
agreed upon, our Democratic colleagues wouldn't take yes for an answer. 
Finally, yesterday, they decided to give up their filibuster and allow 
this legislation and this important funding to be done. My point is 
that we could have done this a long time ago. In fact, we wouldn't have 
had to pass the continuing resolution taking us over to December--just 
10 weeks from now, when we will have to start all over again--if it 
weren't for the obstructionism and filibustering of our Democratic 
  Of course, the cause of this is a fight over Federal spending. We 
know there are caps on discretionary spending, and many of our Members, 
myself included, have become very concerned in this very dangerous 
world we live in that we have shortchanged our military and our 
national security support. So in order to get additional spending for 
our troops abroad and at home and to make sure that we are prepared for 
the next threat to our country, we increased spending for the 
Department of Defense, but the costs of doing that were increases in 
nondefense discretionary spending. Thus we get back into the same old 
fight, which unfortunately has left us $19 trillion in debt, where 
spending is simply out of control.
  That is the reason we ended up in this posture. It is highly 

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Nobody would have chosen this--certainly I wouldn't have--as a first 
option. Now we are going to be confronted with the responsibility in 
December of passing appropriations bills that will take us through the 
next year, through the end of the fiscal year. So we have this 
resolution taken care of. It is behind us now, and that looms large 
ahead of us.
  I want to mention some of the good work being done in Texas by folks 
like the Harris County Mosquito & Vector Control unit. A few weeks ago, 
I had a chance to go on the rounds with them and set some of the traps 
for various mosquitoes.
  Actually, I got this idea from listening to Mike Rowe, who has this 
``Dirty Jobs'' series, and I noticed one of them happened to be 
mosquito control. It occurred to me that maybe there was something for 
me to learn about how local leaders like those in Harris County 
identify these mosquitoes that bear this Zika virus and how they deal 
with it. I got a firsthand look at how much work it takes for our local 
public health officials to protect our communities from mosquito-borne 
  It is not just about Zika. It is also about the West Nile virus, 
which unfortunately has taken the lives of some Texans in the past, as 
well as other diseases such as dengue fever. The Presiding Officer 
knows all of them.
  Our folks at the local level do have their work cut out for them. 
They trap these mosquitoes every day to test them for the virus, and 
they spend a lot of time educating the public about how to better 
protect themselves. I walked around with them, and they pointed out 
places where water has been pooled in old tires or in swimming pools in 
the backyard or perhaps birdbaths or other places where mosquitoes, if 
they are given an opportunity, will simply breed.
  This is one way, by being better educated, that people can help 
protect themselves from these mosquito-borne viruses by eliminating the 
breeding ground for these mosquitoes. If you are a woman of 
childbearing age, being able to dress appropriately, spray yourself 
with mosquito repellant, and otherwise help yourself while we are 
waiting for the Federal Government to live up to its responsibility to 
provide the funds, which now we have finally done, would help.
  It became clear to me in our visits to Houston that our local 
officials need more help. More specifically, what they need is the 
research that will lead to a vaccine. We went through this experience 
in another context with the Ebola virus not that long ago. It is 
important that our scientists and researchers develop a vaccine to 
particularly protect women of childbearing age from the consequences of 
the Zika virus.
  We need a whole government response. We finally got one yesterday, 
one that deploys local, State, and Federal authorities.
  The funding bill we passed yesterday outlines a way forward for the 
Federal Government to do its part that will provide funding for 
communities in Texas and throughout the country. They are already 
working diligently to safeguard folks against the virus. As I 
mentioned, it will go a long way in helping local and State officials 
with prevention efforts and even working to create a vaccine. I am 
pleased we finally were able to get that done and overcome the impasse 
created by objections, obstructions, and filibusters of our friends 
across the aisle.
  Beyond getting this funding for the Zika research and prevention 
done, I wish to identify a few other things that we have been able to 
accomplish. As I came to the floor and said a couple of days ago, the 
senior Senator from Montana, who happens to head up the Democratic 
Senatorial Campaign Committee, was caught basically telling the truth 
when he said that one of the things they are depending on is a 
narrative to help Democrats in the selection, this false narrative that 
under the Republican majority, under Republican leadership, we simply 
hadn't been getting many things done.
  We have been doing a lot to take care of the Nation's business during 
the events of the last 2 days, including the Water Resources 
Development Act that passed with 95 votes, which includes additional 
funding for Flint, MI, and their lead pipe water challenges.
  I mentioned the opioid crisis and heroin crisis. Recently, we passed 
a bill called the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act by more than 
90 votes. As I mentioned, the junior Senators from Ohio and New 
Hampshire have provided such great leadership in that area.
  We also passed other reforms for chemical safety, the so-called TSCA 
bill, which provides companies with regulatory certainty so they can 
continue to create products Americans use every day. This bill proves 
we can responsibly protect the environment at the same time we are 
growing our economy. This legislation passed the Senate by a voice vote 
and received more than 400 votes in the House.
  We also passed legislation to impose stronger sanctions on North 
Korea in February. It sailed through this Chamber with one ``no'' vote.
  Of course, we also took care of intractable problems that we had 
trouble getting any traction on for a long time, major reform bills 
such as the Energy Policy Modernization Act to help bring our Nation's 
energy infrastructure up-to-date, as well as to expedite the permitting 
of liquefied natural gas exports, which the Presiding Officer has 
worked on a lot. I was just at Sabine Pass. Cheniere has a huge export 
facility for natural gas. Golden Pass and others are in the process of 
trying to get their permits, but they have been waiting a long time. 
This legislation will provide a shot clock, which will hopefully 
expedite that process. The energy we have been able to produce in this 
country is a great natural resource for the United States and a great 
economic engine. To make it available to our friends and allies around 
the world is very important. The Energy Policy Modernization Act as 
well as lifting the ban on crude oil, which we did last December, have 
been very important steps.
  I was discussing with the senior Senator from Tennessee, Mr. 
Alexander, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions 
Committee, the important work we did reforming the bill known as No 
Child Left Behind with the Every Student Succeeds Act. This legislation 
was very important because many people had the impression that 
Washington had simply taken control of our K-12 education system. Under 
his skillful leadership, working with Senator Murray in the Health, 
Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, they were able to write a 
piece of legislation that passed with overwhelming bipartisan margins 
that would devolve the control of K-12 education back to the States, 
local school districts, parents, and teachers. It literally removed the 
common core mandate that so many people had chafed under.
  We also finally have passed a Medicare payment reform system that had 
long plagued our medical community. I know many physicians in Texas 
told me they simply would not be able to take any more Medicare 
patients--which of course are our senior citizens--because the Federal 
Government kept cutting their payment rate and the uncertainty created 
by that. We finally fixed that on a bipartisan basis.
  Under the new majority in this Congress, we also saw President Obama 
sign other important laws, such as the Freedom of Information 
Improvement Act, a bill that will make our government more transparent 
and more accountable to the people we serve. By an overwhelming 99-to-1 
vote, we passed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, a bill that 
will help victims of human trafficking recover.
  We will support law enforcement in their fight against active 
shooters by passing and signing into law the POLICE Act, legislation 
that allows existing grant programs to be used for police training to 
deal with active shooter situations. I have traveled all around Texas 
with local police departments in both urban and rural areas, and they 
find this training very useful and timely.
  Unfortunately, it is necessary, in times such as these where we have 
had to learn from hard experience--if an active shooter is loose, they 
will continue to kill and people will continue to die unless the police 
can crash that site, stop the shooter, and then rescue, with emergency 
medical people, the people who are injured.
  By all accounts, I have to say the Senate, under Republican 
leadership, with cooperation from our Democratic

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colleagues--because of course nothing happens around here unless it is 
bipartisan. That is the way this place is constructed. That is the way 
the Constitution is written. I am grateful that under the leadership 
and steady hand of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, we have 
gotten back to work and taken care of the country's business.
  Of course, we still have disagreements like we had over spending 
bills that led up to this continuing resolution, and in the lameduck it 
will leave us with having to deal with the long-term spending bills 
this December, but I simply want to make the point that leadership 
matters. Under the leadership of Senator McConnell, our committees are 
now actively producing legislation on a bipartisan basis that is then 
available to the majority leader to bring to the floor for us to 
debate, for Senators to offer suggestions for improvement by way of 
amendment and allow everybody to participate in that process to vote on 
the legislation and then bring it to the President's desk.
  I hope we can continue to put sound policy over the sort of partisan 
politics that left us in the uncomfortable and unenviable position we 
were in yesterday, trying to meet a deadline to keep the government up 
and running. With a little cooperation and a little elevation of 
responsibility to our constituents and the people we serve, rather than 
partisan politics, I think we can continue to do better.
  Mr. President, with that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  (The remarks of Mr. Alexander, Mr. Lankford, and Ms. Collins 
pertaining to the introduction of S. 3464 and S. 3462 are printed in 
today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint 
  Mr. LANKFORD. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tillis). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.