(Senate - September 06, 2016)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 133 (Tuesday, September 6, 2016)]
[Pages S5229-S5240]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of the conference report to accompany H.R. 2577, 
which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       Conference report to accompany H.R. 2577, a bill making 
     appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and 
     Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the 
     fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other 

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, over the past several weeks, I spent a 
lot of time traveling around my home State of Wyoming. I know the 
Presiding Officer spent a lot of time traveling around his home State 
of Oklahoma. I talked to a lot of people in Wyoming, as he did in 
Oklahoma, about one of the top concerns of the things that are on their 
minds. To me, and I know to the Presiding Officer, that has been the 
Obama health care law and the disastrous problems that people are 
facing. People now tell me that some of them are paying more for their 
health insurance than they are for their mortgage. That is not just a 
problem in Oklahoma or in Wyoming; it is a problem all across the 
country. And that is now.
  What they are also doing is reading stories in the papers, front-page 
stories that are saying the rates next year are going to go up again--
not just a little but a lot. I know that my Senate colleagues from all 
across the country--Republicans and Democrats--are hearing that because 
of the disastrous problems that the Obama health care law is currently 
experiencing. In Wyoming, the Obama health insurance exchange has only 
one company selling insurance--only one. Wyoming is not alone. This 
wasn't supposed to happen.
  The Democrats in Congress who supported this health care law said 
that they were going to create more competition--bring down prices by 
lots of competition. I can still remember when the President gave a 
speech to Congress in 2009, and what did he tell us? He said that in 34 
States, 75 percent of the insurance market was controlled by five or 
fewer companies--five or fewer. Now in Wyoming we are down to one.
  The President said that without competition, the price of insurance 
goes up, and he said that the quality goes down. That is what President 
Obama said 7

[[Page S5230]]

years ago. He said that five options or fewer were such a threat to 
competition and to quality of care for American families that he needed 
to create his entire ObamaCare health care system.
  What is the situation today? One-third of America will have only one 
ObamaCare insurer in 2017. The color-coded map from the Kaiser Family 
Foundation came out just last week, and it shows all these areas in 
orange have only one ObamaCare insurer selling insurance in their 
locations. I note that Oklahoma and Wyoming are all in orange.
  Millions of Americans will have fewer choices in 2017 than they had 
in 2016, with one-third of the country having only one option for 
coverage next year. The Obama administration said that these were 
supposed to be competitive marketplaces. That is what President Obama 
said. When there is only one company selling a product in an area, that 
is not competition; that is a monopoly. The President ought to 
understand that, and so should every Democrat in this body.
  What do the national newspapers have to say about it? The Wall Street 
Journal, front page story, last week, August 29: ``Health-Plan Choices 
  It says that in 31 percent of U.S. counties, insurance exchanges 
appear likely to offer consumers only one option. It is a monopoly. 
That is the Wall Street Journal. You go through the article and it will 
tell you 2.3 million people currently on ObamaCare will have one option 
for when they shop next year.
  What are people expecting? They are expecting their insurance 
premiums to go up? When will they go up? November 1, a week before the 
election. When people start signing up for next year's insurance, they 
will see the incredible sticker shock and how that affects them. That 
is what competition looks like under President Obama. There is only one 
insurance company in all of those orange areas.
  I see the minority leader left to go back to his office--the same 
office, behind closed doors, where the health care law was written.
  He is from the State of Nevada. Let's look at the State of Nevada--
orange, orange, orange. All of those counties, other than this one 
area, have just one option because these very bright people--the 
architects of ObamaCare--wrote a health care law behind that closed 
door that says that one in three Americans will only have one ObamaCare 
insurer in 2017.
  It was what we predicted on the floor of the Senate as this bill was 
being debated. President Obama said: No, you are all wrong. It doesn't 
matter whether it was the minority leader, who was then the majority 
leader. They obviously lost the majority as a result of the poor 
judgment of the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi saying that first you have to 
pass it before you get to find out what is in it, or others who said 
this is going to be wonderful.
  This is what the American people are facing now. All the areas in 
blue have only two options to choose from. It is astonishing what has 
happened. When you are down to one choice, you basically have no 
choice. Except for the people in Pinal County, AZ--this area in red--
they actually have no choices. No one wants to sell ObamaCare insurance 
to the people who live there--none. It is an ObamaCare ghost town. The 
others may be ObamaCare wastelands or no man's land, but this is an 
ObamaCare ghost town.
  What does President Obama say about that? It has gotten so bad in 
some places that State insurance commissioners have said that some of 
the ObamaCare exchanges are very near collapse. Does President Obama 
hear any of these things? Do the Senate Democrats hear any of these 
things? You would think they would if they go home and talk to people 
who live in their home States, but the insurance commissioner in 
Tennessee described the situation in her State as very near collapse.
  Now, if you look at Tennessee on the map, there are actually some 
places where they have more than one choice, but the companies that are 
selling insurance are saying: We cannot do it; we cannot continue 
because of the losses that have been incurred by trying to comply with 
all of the rules and regulations of the Obama health care law.
  The people in Tennessee who get ObamaCare insurance will be paying as 
much as 62 percent more starting in January. When they go to sign up on 
November 1, they will pay 62 percent more in January.
  Our colleague from Tennessee, Senator Lamar Alexander, recently said 
that for a 40-year-old person who is a nonsmoker, lives in his home 
State of Tennessee, and buys the cheapest possible ObamaCare silver 
plan, comparing this year's plan to next year's plan, that same person 
is going to have to pay $852 more than they did this year--not $852 but 
$852 more than they did this year.
  I talked to Senator Kirk, our colleague from Illinois, about that, 
and they will pay 45 percent more next year. Georgia will pay 33 
percent more. These aren't just proposed increases. These are increases 
that have been approved by the insurance commissioner of those States.
  It is interesting that when the Democrats come to the floor, they 
say: Well, they are only proposed increases that will never happen. 
These are the increases that have been approved by the insurance 
commissioners of each of those States. Premiums are going through the 
roof. Americans are stuck with fewer options because the insurance 
companies just can't afford to sell on the exchanges due to the rules, 
regulations, and mandates of the exchanges.
  It is interesting to note that if you pick up a newspaper, you have 
to page all the way through to get to the stories. Here is the 
Washington Post, dated Sunday, August 28. The Presiding Officer can see 
it. It says: ``Health exchange sign-ups fall short.'' Well, if this is 
such a great deal, as the President says it is, why are the health 
exchange signups falling short? The American people know it is not a 
good deal. It is not a good deal for them personally. It goes on to 
say: ``Several firms opt-out citing losses.''
  When you go through the whole article, it goes on to say that the 
``Obama administration's promise''--promise of a menu of health care 
choices--``has been replaced by a grim forecast.'' Those are their 
words--``a grim forecast.'' This is the forecast right here on the map. 
This is what the country has gotten because of President Obama's plan 
and the demands by the Democrats that they take complete control of the 
health care in this country rather than leaving it in the hands of the 
men and women at home across the country who know what is best for them 
and their families. People living in one-third of the country won't 
have any choice next year. They will all have to deal with an ObamaCare 
health insurance monopoly and heading to ObamaCare no man's land.
  Companies are giving up because people don't want ObamaCare 
insurance. People can't afford it, and they are not buying it. They say 
that for them it is not a good deal.
  The Congressional Budget Office made some predictions. They predicted 
there would be about 24 million people signed up for ObamaCare by now. 
They made that prediction 1 year or so ago. The actual number is just 
11 million. They overestimated by more than 2 to 1. From the very 
beginning, the health care law has failed to live up to the hype and to 
all the promises that Democrats and President Obama have made.
  Remember when President Obama said: Under this law, if you like your 
insurance, you can keep your insurance. If you like your insurance, you 
can keep your insurance. That is what the President told the American 
people. One of the factfinders called it the lie of the year. But 
President Obama said: If you like your insurance, you can keep your 

  Here is USA Today of August 30, and the front page says: ``Health 
care choices choked further.'' More than 2 million people could be 
bumped from insurance plans in 2017. More than 2 million people 
currently on ObamaCare could be bumped from their plans, and the 
President looked the American people in the eye and said: If you like 
what you have, you can keep it. That is what the American people are 
facing today. So one in three only have one insurer to choose from.
  The situation is going to get worse. State insurance commissioners 
say things are very near collapse. What is the best thing the President 
can do and says about all of this? He says to the

[[Page S5231]]

Democrats: Forcefully defend and be proud. Where are the proud 
defenders? Where are they today? Why aren't they here on the floor of 
the Senate defending this monstrosity that has hurt so many American 
people who had insurance? If you want to help people who didn't have 
insurance, you shouldn't have to hurt people who do have insurance. Yet 
I don't see the Democrats who are supposed to be proud and forcefully 
defending this law coming to the floor. I challenge them to come to the 
floor and debate me about this law and the impact it has had on the 
American people.
  What does Hillary Clinton say? She is running for President. She 
says: Defend and improve. Why aren't her supporters here on the Senate 
floor defending it? These ideas have failed. The promises have gone up 
in smoke.
  Do they have any solutions? Do they have any recommendations? The 
recommendations are more Washington control. That is what Zeke Emanuel 
said the other day on television. He is the architect who sat behind 
the closed doors over there and came up with this plan, along with the 
Senate minority leader and a number of the Senate Democrats. That is 
what he says--more Washington control, more taxpayer money, and bigger 
taxpayer funded subsidies. That is what they said.
  Hillary Clinton talks about expanding the failing Medicaid Program. 
They want to hurt our seniors by cramming more people onto the Medicare 
Program, which is already headed for insolvency. Americans know that 
our health care system is in trouble. ObamaCare has failed. It is in 
the insurance death spiral, and Democrats cannot fix it by making it 
  People in one-third of the counties in America won't have a choice 
for where they buy their health insurance starting November 1. America 
does have a choice when it comes to fixing our broken health care 
system. We can choose to get rid of ObamaCare and put solutions in 
place that we know actually will work for people--not for unelected and 
unaccountable bureaucrats but for people who we talked to in our home 
States over the August break. It means letting people get out from 
under the burden of all the Washington mandates. It is the mandates 
that are really the cause of these devastating price increases. We want 
to create real competition, not ObamaCare monopolies. We should let 
people choose the coverage and costs that are right for them and their 
families, not what Washington says is right for them.
  When we are from a rural State such as Wyoming or from the Presiding 
Officer's State of Oklahoma, we know about rural medicine, we know 
about rural health care, we know about big distances, and we know what 
people need. The people there know a lot better than what people in 
Washington think they know about smalltown and rural America.
  The Republicans in this body and Republicans all around the country 
are going to continue to fight. We will not stop fighting for the kinds 
of reform that get the power out of Washington and gives the power back 
to the States so people can have more control of the decisions that 
affect them, their lives, their communities, and their future. 
Democrats don't have any ideas other than higher subsidies, more 
government control, more one-size-fits-all for the failed policies of 
the past. These policies, I will tell the Presiding Officer, have 
failed. From the President's first speech, where he was condemning the 
fact that there were only four or five choices, to now, where you are 
looking at one, two, or zero choices, this points to the failure of the 
ObamaCare health care law.
  It is time, as we get back here--and I hope that Democrats listened 
to people at home and heard their complaints--for Democrats to work 
with us and give the American people the health care they want, need, 
and deserve.
  I thank the Presiding Officer.
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. INHOFE. 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. INHOFE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 10 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I have a very personal interest in a vote 
that is coming up on Zika, and I wish to share my thoughts on that.
  Today we have the opportunity to provide the funding to help combat 
the mosquito-borne Zika virus that has hit Florida and some other 
southern States. As of this week, there have been 49 travel-related 
cases of the Zika virus in Florida and 576 travel-related cases 
altogether. Within those cases, 80 are pregnant women who have been 
infected with the virus. This is extremely concerning since the Zika 
virus has been linked to severe birth defects in children born from 
mothers who contracted the Zika virus. Zika has created a public health 
emergency that can't be ignored.
  This isn't the first time we have taken up this vote. In June, Senate 
Democrats blocked the passage of the conference report, claiming that 
funds did not need to be offset. The $1.1 billion provided in funding 
in the conference report will be used to fight the Zika virus and 
prevent it from spreading. This is the same amount as the Senate-passed 
bill in which every Democrat voted in favor. All the Democrats voted 
for it. Republicans have put together a responsible funding package 
that includes $750 million in offsets, with strong oversight and 
control to ensure that funds are being used properly.
  There has been a lot of discussion and a lot of things we are saying 
here on the floor and to the public that the public doesn't understand. 
They can't be expected to understand; they are too busy out trying to 
make a living. But when they hear things like this, they shake their 
heads and they say: What is wrong with that system up there?
  I say this because there is a little girl who happens to be my 
sister's granddaughter. Her name is Callie Hamilton. Callie Hamilton 
has lived for some time in Florida, and she is pregnant. She has called 
me several times. She said: I don't understand it. You have Democrats 
who are saying ``We don't want to do something to save the lives of 
these pregnant mothers in Florida and elsewhere unless you also fund 
Planned Parenthood and some of the other programs.'' Everything gets 
all mixed up, and because of the sense of urgency, it is now a vehicle 
for everybody else to hitchhike on.
  Let me tell my colleagues, when I was asked the question by my own 
great-niece, who is pregnant and living in Florida, saying, Why is it 
that people aren't too concerned about the political politics of a vote 
when this is different from any other virus vote we have taken? We have 
had many, and normally there is some question as to what caused it, 
some question as to whether the solution is a viable solution when, in 
fact, in this case, it is. There is no question about it.
  There are two things that are factual about this that we have not 
seen before. First of all, the virus is contracted through mosquitoes. 
We all know that. Nobody refutes that. The second thing is, you can 
kill mosquitoes, and everybody knows that. Now, whether the amount is 
$750 million or whatever the amount is--it doesn't really matter; even 
if you are out there with a very small amount and you just kill several 
million mosquitoes, that could save lives, and it could be my grand-
niece, Callie Hamilton.
  So this is different. I hope--and I am going to encourage my 
Republican and Democratic friends alike, when this vote comes up to 
consider, that this isn't something to put something else on. This is 
something that--we can immediately get in there and eradicate a bunch 
of mosquitoes and save lives and very likely prevent this from 
happening. I hope they will make an exception on this. It doesn't make 
any difference about offsets. It doesn't make any difference about the 
cost when we know we can save lives. This isn't something that is up in 
the air and debatable; these are facts we are aware of.
  I wasn't going to talk about that, but I do think it is necessary for 
us to concentrate on what we are really doing since we are now back 
here. We have been gone for several weeks. I think the country has 
probably benefited from that--I don't know--but we are

[[Page S5232]]

back now and we have an opportunity to do some things.


  Mr. President, I chair a committee and have chaired a committee that 
is called the Environment and Public Works Committee. It is a committee 
that--sometimes, somewhat jokingly, I say: Now we will hear from a 
committee that actually does things. We do. We had the bill that was 
the FAST Act, the highway bill, the first one we have had in 17 years. 
It is one on which we all got along. We had Democrats and Republicans 
and passed it almost unanimously out of our committee, and almost 
unanimously we had support on this floor.
  Then we came up with Frank Lautenberg's chemical safety act. That is 
an interesting one because there are a lot of Democrats who are opposed 
to that to begin with, yet there is no regulation over the use of 
chemicals--none whatsoever. So our manufacturing base has disappeared, 
many of them going to countries where they know they can define what a 
chemical is. There are a lot of liberals around who say: Let's just 
oppose all chemicals. Well, obviously, if we don't have chemicals, we 
can't manufacture, and that affects everyone. So we have people going 
overseas now. By the way, I have personally talked to them since we 
have that under control. For the first time in 4 years, we are getting 
people to come back to this country to manufacture. So we achieved that 
chemical bill.
  Working together with Senator Boxer--this is interesting because when 
they talk about the most conservative Members of the U.S. Senate, I am 
always in that crowd, and Barbara Boxer is in the most liberal group, 
and yet we worked together on the things we are supposed to be doing. 
We have that old, worn-out document that nobody reads anymore called 
the Constitution, and it says that we are supposed to be defending 
America and doing infrastructure. So that is what this is all about.
  We have the WRDA bill, the Water Resources Development Act. It is 
coming up. If we get on that, it is going to benefit everyone. I worry 
about it because we get to something that is good for everyone--Zika is 
a good example--and then all of a sudden opposition comes up, and you 
don't know what the source of that opposition is, but it is there.
  Briefly, I want to cover these things because of the significance of 
the WRDA bill, the water resources bill. We talk about five different 
areas. One is the Corps projects. We know about the Corps of Engineers 
and its projects. There is one Member of the Senate who has had efforts 
and dogs in that fight--dams and levees. Certainly the occupier of the 
chair and I both know some of these problems that exist in our State of 
  The EPA water infrastructure on both drinking water and wastewater is 
something that--particularly in my State, a State that is primarily 
rural, we have a lot of small towns. They don't know how in the world 
they are going to come up with the massive amounts of millions of 
dollars to somehow do something to stop the unfunded mandates that come 
from government, primarily the EPA. When I was mayor of Tulsa, that was 
the biggest problem we had because we had unfunded mandates. We needed 
things to be done, and we were not able to get them done.
  We also deal with the restoration programs and the coal ash programs.
  So let's start with the Corps of Engineers. In their part of the 
bill, we authorized 29 projects recommended by the chief of engineers 
that will provide benefits that significantly exceed the cost of the 
projects. These include important harbor-deepening projects for 
Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, FL; and Brownsville, TX, as well as 
significant flood protection projects in Kansas, Missouri, California, 
North Carolina, Louisiana, and elsewhere.
  Chart No. 1 shows--this happens to be the Port of Charleston, and it 
gives you an idea of what we have.
  We also authorized the next phase of the Everglades restoration 
project. Certainly the two Senators from Florida have this as a great 
concern. I have been on this road going through the Everglades, and 
they have problems there. It is one of the real gems we have in this 
country, and we do address that in a very cost-effective way.
  In addition to new projects, the bill modifies some existing projects 
that need additional congressional authority before they can continue. 
These include critical flood control projects in Missouri, Kansas, 
Kentucky, and Arizona, as well as critical navigation safety projects 
in Texas.
  The bill also makes policy changes on the recommendations of 
Senators, project sponsors, and the users of our water transportation 
infrastructure. This photo I have in the Chamber gives you an idea, and 
I have been not to the one in Ohio, but I have been to the one in 
Oklahoma. A lot of people don't know--I am sure both the Chair and I 
are aware of this, but a lot of people are not aware that we in the 
State of Oklahoma are navigable. We have ports, including the Port of 
Catoosa. It looks just like this when you go through the lock and dams, 
and they are about in that condition, and when that stops, everything 
  We have some ideas on how to do this using local sponsors. We have 
people who are users of the navigation way throughout America who want 
to be able to update and make sure that they are going to be safe and 
that they are going to continue to operate. But the law does not allow 
us to do that, so we correct that in this bill. So we talk about how 
local sponsors can make changes so levee districts are not caught in 
bureaucratic nightmares when they attempt to repair levees, which means 
everything stops. So drought-stricken communities can increase 
reservoir storage capacity.
  When the Corps rebuilds a levy after a disaster, we now allow local 
levy districts to increase the level of flood protection at their own 
expense. We actually did that 2 years ago in the last WRDA bill, and I 
might add that I was proud of us when we came back in and we were able 
to get back on a 2-year cycle. We are supposed to do a water resources 
development bill every 2 years. We haven't been doing it. We didn't do 
it during the years the Democrats controlled the Senate. But right now 
we are doing that, and that is one of the benefits that came from the 
last bill.
  In WRDA 2016, we expand the current authority of the Corps to accept 
funds from non-Federal interests to expedite permits for rail 
transportation projects. Overall, we estimate that the Corps of 
Engineers' section of the bill will cost about $6 billion over a 10-
year period.
  The second group is called dams and levees. We address this in the--
just imagine. This is the Ohio River. A minute ago, we showed one of 
the levees. This is just like that levee, except this one erupted. 
There is a term that is used called the ``high-hazard potential.'' When 
a classification of ``high hazard'' takes place--we have about 14,726 
potentially high-hazard dams in the United States. The definition of 
``high hazard'' is that if it breaks, people will die, and we can see 
that people will die. This is serious stuff. Anyway, we now have that 
in this bill so that we will be able to protect those and to do 
something about the high-hazard dams and infrastructure that we have, 
and the levee system.
  Under our legislation the Federal Emergency Management Agency is 
authorized to help rehabilitate dams in States where safety officials 
have determined them to have a high hazard potential. FEMA is 
authorized to come in and do the work. CBO estimates that implementing 
these dam and levee safety programs will cost $401 million over 10 
  In our substitute we have added the Bureau of Indian Affairs dam 
safety program for dams in Indian Country at a cost of $129 million. 
This is based on S. 2717, which Senator Barrasso moved through the 
Indian Affairs Committee with unanimous support. Senator Barrasso, whom 
we heard from just a few minutes ago, was one step ahead of everybody 
else when he moved this legislation through the committee that I 
chaired, the Indian Affairs Committee. We had unanimous support for 
this program to be expanded in Indian Country.
  The third issue is the drinking water and waste water infrastructure. 
I spent a lot of my time going into the small communities. As I said, 
years ago I had a hard job. I was mayor of a major city. At that time 
the biggest problem we had was unfunded mandates--the Federal 
Government coming along. We tried to stop that, but this bill goes a 
long way toward making sure that the

[[Page S5233]]

smaller communities, the poorer and rural communities, have access to 
resolving the problems of these mandates. It is primarily in the 
drinking water and waste water infrastructure. We are working on that 
  S. 2848 includes several million dollars to address lead emergencies 
and public health consequences for those emergencies. For example, we 
provide $70 million to capitalize the new Water Infrastructure Finance 
and Innovation Act, the WIFIA Act, so that we can provide secured loans 
for water and waste water. That is what we are in the process of doing.
  In the fourth area, restoration programs, we have four regional 
restoration programs that we reported out of committee. These include 
Senator Kirk's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Lake Those 
Initiative that was put forward by Senators Heller, Reid, Boxer and 
Feinstein. So we are addressing these restoration programs.
  The final area is coal ash. Some people don't know about coal ash. 
They think of it as being something that is dangerous and that 
environmentalists shouldn't like, when in fact coal ash is a critical 
ingredient for making concrete for roads and bridges. It is more 
durable and less expensive than the alternatives, and many States 
actually require fly ash to be used in their projects. We have a whole 
section on coal ash which includes consensus legislation to allow the 
EPA to review and approve the State permitting program for coal ash 
disposable units. This is something that is very effective. There is no 
other environmental regulation solely enforcing this very issue we are 
talking about. So this is our chance.
  I know the next vote is going to be on the Zika virus--I assume--and 
I do encourage people to keep in mind that when they vote on that they 
are voting on something I don't remember ever seeing before, but it is 
something where we know a government program will work. We know it 
comes from mosquitoes, and we know how to eradicate mosquitoes. So 
let's get with it and quit talking about who we are offending 
politically. Let's just get it done.
  In the meantime, let's be lining up for a major bill that we need to 
be doing. Hopefully, we will be doing it during this work period. It is 
the WRDA bill.
  With that I yield the floor.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                       Bipartisan Accomplishments

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I thought I had gotten to the point where 
I wasn't surprised at some of the rhetoric we hear from our colleagues 
on the other side of the aisle, particularly the Democratic leader when 
he claims that we haven't gotten anything done in the U.S. Congress 
since Republicans have been in the majority. I guess to the extent that 
he says that and there is nobody who corrects it, then people might 
actually believe it.
  I just want to point out from the beginning some of the important 
work we have been able to do on a bipartisan basis. I see our friend 
the Senator from Tennessee here. He has been the point man for so many 
of these pieces of legislation, such as the education reform bill, 
among others that I will mention, but the fact is that since 
Republicans have been in the majority after the election in 2014, more 
than 140 pieces of legislation have been signed into law, and 240-plus 
bills have passed the Senate alone. We have also had, by and large, an 
open amendment process where any Senator who thinks they have a better 
idea on a bill can come to the floor and offer an amendment and get a 
vote on it. So compare the 240 amendment votes in this Congress to the 
15 when Senator Reid was majority leader in the 113th Congress. People 
need to know that his representation isn't borne out by the facts. It 
is not even close.
  I was reminded of the quote from Abraham Lincoln. He defined a 
hypocrite as a man who murdered his parents and then pleaded for mercy 
because he was an orphan. It is true that we find ourselves in the 
current messy posture primarily because of the obstruction of our 
Democratic colleagues on the other side.
  We were hoping that we would get back to what we internally call 
regular order, which is a more transparent process where each of the 12 
appropriations bills can be passed out of the Appropriations Committee, 
come across the floor, be amended and voted on, then matched up with 
what our friends and colleagues in the House do, and then sent on to 
the President for his signature. Instead of that normally functioning 
Congress, there are the filibusters of our Democratic colleagues led by 
the Democratic leader who is claiming that the Congress has become 
dysfunctional all of a sudden. It is because of their actions. They are 
the ones that have blocked the appropriations process. This is why we 
find ourselves in the remaining few weeks of September trying to figure 
out how we pay the bills, how we keep the government up and running.
  I have a list of legislation that makes up that 240 bills and 140 
laws written that were signed into law. I will not waste the Senate's 
time by reciting those, but I ask unanimous consent that following my 
remarks it be printed in the Record.
  Mr. President, we find ourselves voting again on a $1.1 billion 
appropriation to combat the Zika virus. There has been a lot of 
discussion about the Zika virus. As we have come to learn, this is a 
virus carried by a certain species of mosquito and because of summer 
weather and because the Zika virus seems to be coming our way from 
Central and South America, we figured it was important for us to do 
something about it.
  On the high-tech end, our scientists need to come up with a vaccine 
to make sure that pregnant women don't have to worry about birth 
defects in their unborn children, typified by this chart that 
demonstrates a condition known as microcephaly, where literally the 
head is shrunken along with the brain. One can imagine the prognosis 
for this child to be very poor, and nothing but heartache is in store 
for this child's family. This is what our Democratic colleagues are 
risking by continuing to filibuster the spending that we have provided 
for in this appropriations bill--$1.1 billion.
  It is also important to do what sometimes is referred to as the low-
tech part of this as well. Recently I was in Houston, TX, with some of 
my friends from the Harris County Public Health district. They were 
demonstrating to me how they trapped mosquitoes. The Culex mosquito can 
spread other types of virus, but the Aedes aegypti mosquito carries the 
Zika virus. There is fantastic work being done at the local level by 
our public health districts to monitor the mosquito population and then 
test it to see whether they can detect the presence of the Zika virus. 
When they do, that of course directs the spraying effort by the public 
health district. One of the most important things to do is control the 
mosquito population. It cannot be eliminated entirely, and spraying 
without any particular target is a waste of time and money. But it can 
be targeted, and that is what is happening in places like Houston, TX, 
and in the Harris County Public Health district.
  I spent an afternoon with public health officials at what is called 
the mosquito and vector control unit. Of course, Houston is a big 
place. Harris County, where Houston is located, is the third largest 
county in the country by population, and it covers 1,777 square miles. 
It is bigger than the State of Rhode Island. The reason I mention that 
is to just consider the idea of going out to spray 1,777 square miles. 
That doesn't make any sense. That is why the work being done by the 
mosquito and vector control unit is so important--to actually target 
the spraying where it is needed most.
  The most important thing we can do as citizens is to educate 
ourselves and to prevent ourselves from being bitten by the mosquito in 
the first place. Some of that has to do with the clothing we wear and 
also wearing insect repellent, particularly for pregnant women. The 
danger of this particular birth defect is real, and it is important 
that women of childbearing age take care to protect themselves. Part of 
the reason I visited with the public health officials in Houston was to 
not only educate myself but to help raise public

[[Page S5234]]

awareness of what we can do as individual citizens to protect 
ourselves. I met with one of the surveillance entomologists; it is 
quite a title. A surveillance entomologist with the mosquito and vector 
control unit is a fellow I met who has a wonderful name. His name is 
Max Vigilant--what a great name for a surveillance entomologist in 
Harris County, TX. He gave me a glimpse of what he and his colleagues 
are doing every day to safeguard their communities, but they cannot do 
this alone. That is why this funding that has been blocked on numerous 
occasions by our Democratic colleagues over ridiculous objections makes 
no sense whatsoever.
  I happened to see that the senior Senator from New York, Mr. Schumer, 
sent out a tweet this afternoon urging Senate Republicans to pass Zika 
funding, to which I responded: Well, you blocked it, Chuck--which is 
true. And they continue to block it.
  It has unfortunately fallen to local leaders such as County Judge Ed 
Emmett in Harris County and people like Max Vigilant to take care of 
this pending crisis because frankly the dysfunction that is occurring 
in Congress is led by the Democratic leader. So I think it is important 
to set the record straight. I am grateful we have leaders at the local 
and State level who step up when the Federal Government seems incapable 
of doing so.
  But now it is time for the Federal Government to step up. Why our 
Democratic colleagues would risk this horrific birth defect for 
political reasons is just lost on me. It makes no sense whatsoever. I 
might add that not only is it spread by mosquitoes, there is now some 
demonstrated cases or proven cases of sexual transmission of the Zika 
  As we know, our friends in Florida in particular have had 
domestically transmitted cases of Zika virus and are working hard to 
combat the mosquito there and to contain the virus and to prevent this 
sort of terrible result, but for the health of our country and for the 
protection of all our children, let's get this compromise legislation 
  No one should doubt the gravity of the threat or the long-term health 
consequences of failing to get our work done. So I hope our Democratic 
colleagues put their words into action and vote to send additional 
resources to those communities across the country that are already 
working hard to defeat the Zika virus.
  I will conclude by saying, I implore our Democratic colleagues, 
including the senior Senator from Nevada, the Democratic leader, to 
quit saying things that are demonstrably not true. We have worked hard, 
many times over the Democratic leader's objection. I can think of two 
of them that stand out in my mind: for trade promotion authority and 
for a long-term highway bill, where he did not support it and he 
actively tried to block it. So we had to find other Democrats and work 
with the White House to get it done. We have been able to pass a number 
of important bills but very little with his help because, for some 
reason, he seems intent on trying to cause this Congress to be as 
dysfunctional as it was when he was the leader, but it is not going to 
happen. We are working with people of good faith on both sides of the 
aisle and, when we can, with the White House, to do the important work 
of the American people.
  So with that, I yield the floor.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                    Major Bipartisan Accomplishments

                      Addressing Important Issues

       First significant education reform since 2002, First major 
     Trade Promotion Authority bill since 2002, First significant 
     reforms to Social Security since 1983, First major 
     environmental law reauthorization (TSCA) since the 1990's, 
     Addressed the fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico, Acted to preempt 
     states from imposing costly, unworkable mandates on the food 
     supply, Protecting the homeland: National Defense 
     Authorization Act, Cybersecurity, North Korea sanctions.

                   Ending Management by Crisis/Cliff

       First multi-year Highway Bill since 2005--longest since 
     1998, First time enhanced small business expensing was made 
     permanent, First time a prohibition on Internet Access Taxes 
     is made permanent, First time cycle of patching Medicare 
     Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) since 1997, First major Energy 
     Bill passes Senate since the Bush Administration, First long-
     term FAA Bill in almost a decade.

                     Helping those Who Need it Most

       First major legislation confronting America's opioid crisis 
     (CARA), Protected Victims of Trafficking, Reauthorized Adam 

                        Conservative Priorities

       Bill to repeal Obamacare & defund Planned Parenthood to the 
     President's desk, Preventing an activist liberal majority on 
     the Supreme Court, NLRB ambush election CRA, Pain Capable 
     abortion ban, Sanctuary Cities/Kate's Law, Syrian refugee 
     pause, Audit the Fed, First time Senate passes measures 
     overturning Obama-era EPA overreach: Waters of the US 
     (WOTUS), Carbon rules on existing power plants, Carbon rules 
     on new power plants.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I am here for another reason, but I am 
listening to the distinguished majority whip, the Senator from Texas. I 
congratulate him on his remarks and make an observation.
  I was once the Republican Governor in a State that had a Democratic 
legislature. If I had gone around the State for the first 4 years of my 
term announcing that we could not get anything done because I could not 
work with the Democratic legislature, I think about half the people 
would have said: Well, maybe we need another Governor. Maybe we need 
someone who has the capacity to work with people and get results.
  So I have never understood the strategy that exists--I hope 
temporarily--on the other side of the aisle of telling the American 
people the Senate can't function. That does not bring any respect and 
credit to this body. It does not help the Democrats to say that. It 
does not help the Republicans. All it does is cause the American people 
to think that those of us whom they elect are not capable of working 
together to get a result, when, in fact, as the Senator from Texas 
said, that is not true.
  I know for a fact--he cited one example; that is, the bill we passed 
last December to fix No Child Left Behind. President Obama signed it. 
He said it was a Christmas miracle. It got 85 votes in the Senate. It 
was difficult to do, but I have been careful every time I talk about 
this to say, it would never have happened had Senator Patty Murray, the 
Democratic Senator from Washington, not been willing to work with me 
and other Republicans and Democrats on the committee to get a 
  In fact, every single Democrat on the committee worked that way. For 
example, the Senator from Minnesota, Mr. Franken, held back an 
amendment he cared a lot about in committee and agreed to offer it on 
the floor because he did not want to hurt the bill.
  We passed very important legislation in the Senate. The cyber 
security bill is important. It would not have passed without Democratic 
  The Wall Street Journal said the Education bill that was passed, with 
the support of not just the Governors but of the National Education 
Association and the American Federation of Teachers--usually Democratic 
constituents--it was the most significant devolution of power from 
Washington to States in 25 years. I hear from everybody I talk to in 
Tennessee--teachers, Governors. They like the bill we passed. They are 
proud we did it. They thank us for it.
  I have heard from physicians in Tennessee they are glad that for once 
now we have fixed the doc fix. In other words, every few months we are 
not leaving them in limbo about how they are paid for their Medicare 
patients. That has been taken care of, not just by Senator Hatch but 
also by Democratic Senator Wyden.
  Right out of the box last year, with a new Republican majority, we 
passed a trade bill. With whose support? With President Obama's 
support. That was a Democratic and Republican effort together. The 
chemical safety bill. Several Republican Senators worked hard on that 
but so did the Senator from California Mrs. Boxer. Without her 
leadership, it never would have passed.
  Our legislature in Tennessee has not been able to agree on a long-
term highway funding bill, but in Washington we have, again, because of 
cooperation between Republicans and Democrats.
  My practice always has been to give people credit when they do 
something good because I think often that credit reflects back on the 
institution and maybe even on the person giving the credit. That is a 
time-honored way of doing business in the Senate.

[[Page S5235]]

  I would like to see us get back to that in the next Congress. Let's 
recognize the fact that there are a number of things that have not 
gotten done. I can cite all the reasons I am unhappy about the fact 
that we were able to pass 12 appropriations bill in committee, but we 
are blocked from bringing them to the floor by the Democrats.
  I would rather talk about the things we accomplished, the things we 
have gotten done, and show the American people that when they put us 
here, they were making a good decision.
  We have had a productive Senate these last 2 years. One newspaper 
said it was the most productive we have had since the early 1990s. 
Anytime you pass a bill that sends more power from Washington back to 
the States that has the support of the Governors, the NEA, and the 
American Federation of Teachers at the same time, I think we have done 
something pretty good.
  I am happy to give credit to the Democratic Senators who voted for 
it, because without them and without the President's signature, it 
would have not happened. So a little more of that spirit would help 
this Senate function and function in the way it traditionally has.
  We can finish our work this year, by the way.
  We have a mental health bill that Senator Cassidy and Senator Murphy 
have worked hard on. We have a 21st century cures bill that has broad 
support--19 bipartisan cosponsors. We are moving, next week I think, to 
a water resources development bill that Senator Boxer as well as 
Senator Inhofe are working on. Why do we not give other Members of the 
Senate due credit when they work together and get a result? No wonder 
the American people wonder whether we are getting anything done. The 
truth is, we are getting quite a bit done, and it is in their 
interests, and I am proud of it.

                   Honoring Officer Kenneth Ray Moats

  Mr. President, now, let me take 3 or 4 minutes, because I see other 
Senators here, on something that is very important to me, a completely 
different subject and important to the people of my hometown of 
Maryville, TN.
  Last Tuesday, I attended a funeral for Officer Kenny Moats, a 
Maryville, Tennessee, police officer who was killed in the line of duty 
responding to a domestic disturbance call.
  Kenny Moats was a young man with three young children, Mackenzie, 
Kamron, and Tyson. His wife, Britteni, and he are in their early 
  Nothing has so touched our community that I can remember in a long, 
long time. Maryville, TN, is a small town. Blount County is our county. 
Things like this are not supposed to happen where we live.

       An officer gets a call, he goes to deal with a domestic 
     disturbance, and he is ambushed from the house he was called 
     to by a person who is now in jail.

  There was a huge outpouring of support from our community, not just 
for Kenny Moats but also for the men and women in blue of the Maryville 
Police Department and of the Blount County Deputies who were there as 
  There was a procession before the funeral. The funeral was at 7 
o'clock last Tuesday. The church, Sevier Heights Baptist Church, began 
filling up at 4 p.m. It was nearly full with hundreds of people, and 
there were more than 1,200 who listened in on a Webcast.
  The next day, as I was driving to the airport, I found myself behind 
a procession of maybe 200 squad cars from many different police 
departments and sheriffs' offices around our State and other places. 
There was a flag of honor--the United States flag of honor--that is 
flown to honor first responders who are killed in the line of duty. It 
was driven from Texas so it could be there to honor Kenny Moats as 
  So today on the Senate floor, I come simply to express the feelings 
of the Senate--I am sure all of us--to his family and to those who 
served with him in the Maryville Police Department, to the Blount 
County Sheriff's Deputies, to the entire community who have all grieved 
over his loss.
  After the funeral, the police chief, Tony Crisp, gave a commendation 
to Officer Moats. It is called the ``Commendation of Valor.'' It is 
awarded to a police officer who demonstrates gallantry and 
extraordinary heroism. The act must have been so exceptional that the 
rules say that ``the officer while fully aware of the imminent threat 
to their own personal safety assumed a voluntary course of action above 
and beyond the call of duty, at the risk of his own life.'' This 
commendation is the highest decoration conferred by the department.
  I was moved, as was everyone in the church last Tuesday night, by 
Chief of Police Tony Crisp's reading of the ``Commendation of Valor.'' 
I would like to offer that ``Commendation of Valor'' to be printed in 
the Record and express once again to the family of Kenny Moats and to 
the Maryville Police Department and all of the law enforcement officers 
in the area, our respect for his life, his bravery and for what they do 
to protect us on a daily basis.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                             Chief Tony Jay Crisp,

                                  Maryville Police Department,

                                   Maryville, TN, August 30, 2016.
     Re Commendation of Valor

     Officer Kenneth Ray Moats.
       Officer Kenneth Ray ``Kenny'' Moats of the Maryville Police 
     Department and the Fifth Judicial Drug Task Force voluntarily 
     responded to a domestic dispute call involving a handgun on 
     the afternoon of August 25, 2016, where the perpetrator had 
     made threats to kill his father. Officer Moats was assigned 
     to the Fifth Judicial Drug Task Force when this event 
     occurred. The response of Officer Moats along with Deputy 
     Dave Mendez of the Blount County Sheriffs Office, was 
     predicated by their close proximity to the call, along with a 
     sense of voluntary service due to their positions as law 
     enforcement officers.
       On the scene, Officer Moats and Deputy Mendez positioned 
     their vehicle in the driveway of 3111 Kerrway Lane. Upon 
     their arrival, Officer Moats and Deputy Mendez were able to 
     make contact with the perpetrator's father, who had been able 
     to escape from his 625 Alcoa Trail residence, unbeknownst to 
     the perpetrator, who was still positioned in a makeshift 
     bunker located in the garage of the residence. Shortly after 
     speaking with the father, Officer Moats, Deputy Mendez and 
     the father came under gunfire from the perpetrator's 
     concealed location within the garage of the residence. At 
     this time Officer Moats and Deputy Mendez were able to place 
     the father behind the engine block and front wheel of their 
     service vehicle and placed themselves between him and the 
     perpetrator in an attempt to protect the father to the best 
     of their ability considering the fluidity of the evolving 
       The suspect fired multiple shots from his fortified 
     location, one shot fatally striking Officer Moats. The 
     suspect was successfully taken into custody, unharmed, after 
     an exchange of gunfire with Deputy Mendez and Deputy Craig 
     Flanagin, who had arrived on scene during the perpetrator's 
     initial assault.
       While knowing full well the risk and imminent threat to his 
     own personal safety, Officer Moats took a voluntary course of 
     action to confront an armed suspect. Officer Moats ultimately 
     lost his life in the line of duty.
       The quick actions of Officer Moats helped preserve the life 
     of the perpetrator's father and exemplified behavior above 
     and beyond the call of duty. Officer Moats' actions and 
     selfless sacrifice bring great honor upon himself and hold 
     true to the highest traditions and expectations of the 
     Maryville Police Department.
       Officer Moats demonstrated the extraordinary act of 
     courage, under dangerous circumstances, gallantly and 
     heroically giving his life in the service of the City of 
     Maryville Police Department and the community of Blount 
       It is my honor and privilege that I posthumously bestow the 
     highest honor conferred by the Maryville Police Department to 
     Kenneth Ray ``Kenny'' Moats.

  Mr. ALEXANDER. I want to express once again to the family of Kenny 
Moats, the Marysville Police Department, and all of the law enforcement 
officers in the area, our respect for his life, his bravery, and for 
what they do to protect us on a daily basis.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.

            Ending the Threat of Unexploded Ordnance in Laos

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I suspect there are not many Americans who 
have either visited or know much about Laos. It is a poor country, 
geographically about the size of Utah, with less than 7 million people. 
It is wedged between Vietnam and Cambodia.
  I am sure that back in the 1960s and 1970s, even fewer Americans had 
heard of Laos, and virtually no one was aware that the United States 
was involved in a war in Laos.
  For nearly a decade, from 1964 to 1973, the United States military 
unleashed more than 2 million tons of ordnance on Laos during some 
580,000 bombing missions. That amounts to a planeload of bombs every 8 
minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years. Laos became,

[[Page S5236]]

and still is, the most heavily bombed country per capita in history.
  It was part of a U.S. war in Laos that was never declared or 
publicized. It was kept secret. It was done to support the Royal Lao 
government against the Pathet Lao and to interdict the Viet Cong along 
the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but the bombs destroyed many villages and 
displaced hundreds of thousands of Lao civilians.
  As is so often the case with landmines, cluster bombs, and other 
types of munitions, wars end but the suffering continues. The Vietnam 
War ended in 1975. In April of 1975, the Senate Armed Services 
Committee, by a one-vote margin, voted to finally end the authorization 
for that war. I remember it very well because that was the first vote I 
cast as a member of the Armed Services Committee.
  The war ended, but the casualties continue from the bombs that failed 
to explode. All this ordnance is scattered on or beneath the surface of 
the ground. A child is walking to school, a farmer is working in the 
field, a woman is collecting water or firewood, and they step on one of 
those and they are killed or maimed.
  Of the 270 million U.S. cluster bombs that were dropped on Laos 
during that period, it is estimated that as many as 80 million did not 
detonate, but they remain ready to explode if they are disturbed by an 
unsuspecting farmer or child.
  Nearly 40 years later, only a small fraction of these munitions have 
been destroyed. But progress has been made. Today there are just under 
50 new UXO casualties in Laos each year. That is down from more than 
300 a decade ago. The majority of the accidents result in death, and 
nearly half of the casualties are children.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to show a photograph to my 
colleagues on the Senate floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LEAHY. This photograph of a Laotian girl was taken a number of 
years ago. She was actually one of the lucky ones because she survived, 
but as you can see her left leg is gone and she uses a homemade crutch. 
This is what cluster munitions do to civilians. This happened after the 
war ended, and she stepped in the wrong place.
  I first became concerned with this problem in the late 1980s, and in 
1990 the first assistance from the Leahy War Victims Fund was provided 
to help victims of U.S. cluster bombs in Laos. Since then, the Leahy 
War Victims Fund, administered by USAID, has provided medical and 
related assistance for thousands of Laotians.
  Also, as either chairman or ranking member of the Appropriations 
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, I have included funding each 
year above the amounts requested by successive administrations, 
Democratic and Republican, to support programs to locate and destroy 
unexploded ordnance in Laos. Since fiscal year 1995, the United States 
has contributed more than $100 million for UXO programs in Laos. There 
is $19.5 million for UXO clearance in fiscal year 2016, which has 
bipartisan support, including the current chair of our subcommittee, 
Senator Graham, and of the House subcommittee, Representative Granger, 
and the House ranking member, Representative Lowey. I appreciate their 
support for this.
  But I have long felt that the United States should do more, and so I 
am very pleased that President Obama--the first American President to 
visit Laos--announced earlier today that the United States will 
increase its support for UXO programs in Laos.
  The President pledged $90 million over the next 3 years to continue 
clearance, victims' assistance, and risk education programs at the 
fiscal year 2015 level of $15 million annually. The balance of $45 
million is going to be used to support a national UXO survey. The 
survey is extremely important. As I said, Laos is about the size of 
Utah. The survey will establish a baseline for contaminated land that 
remains to be cleared so the Lao Government and international donors 
can plan their future clearance activities and accurately forecast how 
much time and money it will take to make Laos UXO impact-free.
  Earlier this year, in anticipation of President Obama's trip to Laos, 
Tim Rieser from my office met twice with White House staff. They 
discussed ways to increase funding for UXO programs in Laos. I applaud 
President Obama for publicly recognizing that we have a responsibility 
to do more to end this tragic legacy by accelerating our efforts.
  I will do all I can to ensure that Congress does its part to 
appropriate the funds, so that in the not too distant future all 
Laotians can walk in safety.
  I think what President Obama is doing is similar to what President 
George H. W. Bush did, the first President Bush. Even though we had 
fought a war with Vietnam, even though it divided this country, after 
the war he decided we needed to do something to begin to reengage with 
Vietnam and to show our appreciation for those who had helped us with 
MIAs in Vietnam. He worked with Bobby Muller, Tim Rieser, me, and the 
Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and used the Leahy War Victims 
Fund there.
  I visited it at the time and could see what a difference it can make. 
I look forward to going to Laos and seeing what a difference the Leahy 
Fund and our country's efforts will make there.

                          Judicial Nominations

  Mr. President, as most of us do in August, I traveled around my 
State. Vermont--the land area is only the second largest State in New 
England, which makes it not that large. I can travel all over it. I 
heard from Vermonters all around my home State about the issues that 
are important to them.
  One thing I heard at almost every stop I made--whether it was for a 
Republican group, a Democratic group, or an Independent group, whatever 
their age, whatever they did for work, they said: What about the 
Supreme Court? Why has the Senate failed to act on the nomination of 
Chief Judge Merrick Garland?
  I told them that the Senate is returning from the longest recess in 
nearly 50 years, and perhaps the Republican leadership was hoping that 
Americans had forgotten about the unprecedented obstruction of a 
Supreme Court nominee. But I can assure you that Americans--and 
certainly Vermonters--have not forgotten. They have not forgotten the 
fact that Senate Republicans have refused to hold a hearing for Chief 
Judge Garland, and they have not forgotten this unprecedented step in 
not allowing a hearing. They have not forgotten that some Senators 
still have not even afforded Chief Judge Garland the courtesy of a 
meeting. This means the Supreme Court continues to be hindered by the 
lack of a full bench of Justices.
  Chief Judge Garland's nomination has been blocked by Republicans in 
the Senate for 174 days. Nearly half a year has passed since President 
Obama nominated Chief Judge Garland to the Supreme Court after Justice 
Scalia's untimely death--and Senate Republicans have done nothing about 
it. At no time in the history of our country has something like this 
been done.
  I think the Senate should get to work and fulfill its constitutional 
duty of providing advice and consent on the nomination and then have 
the guts to vote either yes or no to ensure that we have a fully 
functioning Supreme Court. Instead of doing our job, we are voting 
``maybe.'' Over the recess, the Majority Leader bragged that one of his 
``proudest moments'' was when he unilaterally declared that he would 
not allow the Supreme Court vacancy to be filled by President Obama. 
Such cynical rhetoric is beyond disappointing. The partisan decision to 
refuse any sort of consideration of a highly qualified nominee such as 
Chief Judge Garland is an embarrassment. It is not an accomplishment of 
which the Senate can be proud.
  We must all be reminded that this stubborn refusal to consider Chief 
Judge Garland has real world consequences that go beyond politics. The 
Republican obstruction of Chief Judge Garland has diminished the 
Supreme Court. It has impacted millions of families across the country. 
This summer when the Supreme Court completed its most recent term, the 
damage became clear. In seven separate cases, the eight remaining 
Justices could not serve as the final arbiter of law when they were 
unable to issue a final decision on the merits. In another case 
involving a death penalty appeal--a matter of life and death--the Court 
also deadlocked. Just last week, the Court deadlocked on consideration 
of an election law

[[Page S5237]]

case that will impact the constitutional rights of millions of voters 
ahead of this year's election.
  Notwithstanding that, Senate Republicans, who are in the majority, 
have taken this unprecedented step--the only time in the history of the 
country. For months, in poll after poll, two-thirds of the American 
people want a public hearing for Chief Judge Garland. They continue 
their blockade in the hope that their party's Presidential nominee wins 
in November. It is disappointing that they continue to hold our highest 
Court hostage in support of an intemperate political candidate who has 
demonstrated contempt for the rule of law and who has said that some 
judges aren't qualified because their forebears were Mexican.
  The Republican nominee for president is a man who opposes the bedrock 
principle of freedom of the press. He is a man who attacked a Federal 
judge based on his race and heritage. He is a man who repeatedly 
attacked the gold star parents of a brave, selfless Army captain who 
was killed in Iraq while protecting his fellow soldiers. Despite these 
and several additional episodes demonstrating that the Republican 
nominee represents an unacceptable risk to our country, Senate 
Republicans continue to block Chief Judge Garland in the hope that 
their nominee is elected and can appoint judges.
  The Republican obstruction and disregard for a coequal branch of 
government also extends to the lower Federal courts. Since taking over 
the majority last year, Senate Republican inaction has allowed judicial 
vacancies to more than double and to reach 90 vacancies. This amounts 
to more than 10% of the Federal bench. Vacancies have reached what the 
Congressional Research Service calls ``historically high'' levels. The 
American people are left waiting for justice as the number of vacant 
seats pile up. Yet the Republican leadership refuses to allow a vote on 
any of the 27 judicial nominees who are already pending on the 
Executive Calendar. These nominees are the result of the President 
working with home State Senators, Republicans and Democrats, to make a 
nomination. Each of these nominees was voted out of the Judiciary 
Committee with bipartisan support.
  For example, the next Federal district court nominee ready for a vote 
is Edward Stanton from Tennessee. Mr. Stanton is the U.S. Attorney for 
the Western District of Tennessee. He has the support of both of his 
Republican home state senators and was voice voted out of the Judiciary 
Committee. Yet this excellent nominee, who has been serving the people 
of Tennessee as one of the state's top Federal prosecutors, has been 
languishing on the floor since last October. I think both Senators from 
Tennessee will agree with me that there is no good reason why Mr. 
Stanton should have waited this long for an up-or-down vote.
  In 2008, George W. Bush was President. He was in the last year of his 
term. Democrats controlled the Senate. I was chairman of the Judiciary 
Committee. All Senators, whether Republican or Democratic, actually 
worked together to fill these lower court vacancies. In September 2008, 
we confirmed 10 judicial nominees in 1 day. We actually did it in 
September. And not a single nominee was left on the Executive Calendar. 
Of those 10 nominees, nine had support from home state Republican 
Senators. I was proud to work with Senators Arlen Specter, Pat Roberts, 
Sam Brownback, John Warner, Mel Martinez, Wayne Allard, Bob Bennett, 
and Orrin Hatch to confirm nominees to fill vacancies in their states, 
and help ensure that the people of those states had access to justice 
in our Federal courts.
  Today, 13 judicial nominees from States represented by 16 Republican 
Senators are ready for confirmation votes. These nominees have been 
waiting two, three, even 10 months for a simple vote. I hope that these 
16 Republican Senators are able to impress upon their leadership just 
how important it is to allow the Senate to do its job and vote on these 
nominees who would serve their States. I despair somewhat because even 
though they are nominees from their States and are here with their 
approval, they are not getting their leadership to move forward, just 
as not a single Republican Senator has been able to get their 
Republican leadership to allow a hearing and a vote on Judge Garland.
  I hope the Republican leadership will reconsider their outright 
refusal to allow a hearing and vote for Chief Judge Garland's 
nomination on the Supreme Court. This unprecedented, unwarranted stance 
has already undermined one term of the High Court, but there is still 
time to avoid harming another term.
  It is good that we actually show up now and then in Washington to do 
our work. There is plenty of time to have a hearing and vote on Chief 
Judge Garland's nomination. It is time for the Senate to get back to 
  I hope my friends on the other side of the aisle will realize what 
they have done to the Supreme Court and will reverse this. It is able 
to be blocked only because all Republicans stood with their leader and 
blocked the Supreme Court nominee. I think that is wrong. It has never 
been done before. In fact, the last time there was a vacancy--I mention 
this for the young pages who are here. They will get a little history 
lesson, and it is something the Senators should know. The last time 
there was a vacancy in a Presidential election year, there was a 
Republican President and Democrats were in control of the Senate. We 
confirmed that nominee in the Presidential election year, and the vote 
was unanimous.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum, and I ask unanimous consent that 
the time be equally divided.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Ayotte). Without objection, it is so 
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. NELSON. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. NELSON. Madam President, we have a vote coming up at 5:30 on the 
Zika crisis. Unfortunately, it is not the vote we voted on in the 
bipartisan bill which there were 69 votes in favor of out of 100 
Senators and which we then sent to the House. The House then added a 
number of political messages that don't have anything to do with Zika, 
such as the display of the Confederate flag. There are some people who 
want that displayed in certain areas. What does that have to do with 
Zika? There are others who definitely don't want that.
  Here is another one: Defund Planned Parenthood. Well, there are 
clearly people in the House of Representatives who want to defund 
Planned Parenthood, but what does that have to do with Zika, save for a 
lot of women who are pregnant and who suspect they might have the Zika 
virus and might go to a Planned Parenthood clinic? That would suggest 
we shouldn't defund Planned Parenthood.
  What about cutting back on Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico? Now, 
that has something to do with Zika because Puerto Rico and Brazil are 
the two places that are the most infected. The CDC estimates that 25 
percent of the population of Puerto Rico is infected with the Zika 
virus. So why would we want to cut Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico? 
Well, that is not only ridiculous, it is silly.
  So once again--now multiple times--at 5:30, we will have that vote, 
and those who desperately want the funding to meet the emergency crisis 
of Zika are being asked to do so by having to take these political 
riders that people who are in the extreme spectrum of politics in the 
House of Representatives want and think they can force us to take. 
Well, it is not going to happen.
  Is there a crisis? Well, let me tell you what the latest is in my 
State of Florida. There are 67 non-travel-related cases of Zika that 
have been established. There are 577 in the State of Florida that are 
travel-related. What does that mean? That means that 577 people have 
contracted Zika someplace else and they have come to Florida. But they 
are there. There are 67--maybe over 70--who have contracted Zika in the 
State of Florida.
  You can contract it one of two ways. You can contract it from a 
mosquito that is infected. The Aedes aegypti strain of mosquito is not 
a normal mosquito. He lurks in the back, dark corners of the house. She 
can lay her eggs in stagnant water in something as little as a bottle 
cap. That is one way

[[Page S5238]]

to get Zika transmitted in Florida, and there have been upwards of 70 
of those cases. The other way is by sexual transmission. If one of the 
partners has Zika, they can transmit it to the other.
  The Zika virus lives in the male for about 2 months. The Zika virus 
itself manifests itself like a mild flu. That is not really the 
problem; the problem is the over 80 females in Florida who are pregnant 
and who also have the Zika virus. Madam President, you have seen the 
photos of these terribly deformed children. That is because as the 
fetus develops, the virus attacks the brain stem and lessens the 
ability of the fetus to develop a normal head and a normal size brain. 
As a result, we see these pictures of these terribly deformed babies. 
It is such a tragedy not only for the family, but it is a considerable 
expense. We have heard some authorities estimate that for the expected 
life of a child who is born with microcephaly, it may cost as much as 
$10 million. Where is that money going to come from? And in our State 
of Florida, there are over 80 females who are pregnant and who are 
infected with the Zika virus.
  I gave just the statistics of our State. We happen to be ground zero 
for the Zika virus. There are 12 flights a day into the Miami 
International Airport from Brazil and Puerto Rico. So you see the 
opportunity to keep bringing it in just into the State of Florida. It 
is elsewhere in the country as well.
  Some of our brethren and sistren around here--but especially in the 
other body, since we passed the bill here--still have their heads in 
the sand and are refusing to recognize that this is an emergency. If 
they continue, here is what is going to happen: An infected person 
doesn't necessarily stay in one place. They can get on an airplane or 
they can get on a train or in a car and go elsewhere in the country. 
Elsewhere in the country, if that infected person is bitten by an 
aegypti mosquito, now that mosquito is infected, and that mosquito 
feeds on an average of four people at one sitting for dinner. So now 
the infected mosquito has now infected four more people in another 
State because that person traveled to another State.
  It ought to be common sense. And how many times have folks like me 
and the Senator from Maryland come and pled with our colleagues to stop 
this monkey business? Let's stop these political games. Let's stop 
these political riders. Let's do what the Senate did 3 months ago when 
it passed--bipartisan--by 69 votes $1.1 billion in emergency funding 
and sent it to the House and asked the House to stop playing these 
  So it seems to me we are going to go through another exercise, now 
having done so multiple times. We are going to vote this down at 5:30. 
What is going to happen next? I hope reasonable heads will prevail.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. CARDIN. Madam President, first, I want to thank my colleague from 
Florida, Senator Nelson, for his comments in regard to the Zika 
funding. As the Senator from Florida, he knows firsthand of the locally 
acquired Zika virus in his own State. This is not just a matter of 
individuals traveling to other countries and obtaining the Zika virus 
and coming back to the United States; we have a locally acquired Zika 
virus here in the United States, and Senator Nelson has been an 
outspoken leader in the Senate and in the Congress for doing the right 
  He was absolutely right when he said that 3 months ago we passed a 
compromise bill that would have funded the NIH, USAID, and the other 
agencies and what they need for the remainder of the year. It would 
have done it in a way that was not all the money I thought or he 
thought should be provided, but it was a fair compromise. Instead, of 
course, we got a conference report that contained less funds, poison 
pills, and issues that are not related to the Zika funding to try to 
move forward a pretty extreme agenda. That is not what we should be 
doing with the health of the people of this country.
  So I take this time to support what Senator Nelson has said, and I 
rise to talk about the urgent need for us to provide full funding--full 
funding--for our response to the Zika virus.
  More than 6 months ago, President Obama submitted a request to 
Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency supplemental funding to address 
the virus. The request included $1.5 billion for the Department of 
Health and Human Services, $335 million for the U.S. Agency for 
International Development, $41 million for the Department of State, and 
support for several other Federal agencies.
  The administration's plan, which had the full weight of the 
scientific community behind it, represents a coordinated, well-funded, 
whole-of-government approach to combating the virus, with a focus on 
prevention, treatment, and research. But instead of listening to the 
experts, Republicans offered a Zika conference report that underfunded 
critical Federal, State, and global response efforts by more than $800 
million and included poisonous policy riders and pay-fors. The Senate 
rightly rejected the Zika conference report. We will have another 
opportunity, and I just urge my colleagues: Let's stop playing politics 
with this and let's bring forward clean funding for the Zika virus. 
Many Senators, including myself, were extremely disappointed that we 
adjourned for the summer recess before dealing with this public health 
  One thing is clear. Zika will not simply disappear on its own. When 
we left town in July, there were approximately 1,100 travel-associated 
Zika cases reported in the continental United States, including 31 in 
my home State of Maryland and 2,474 locally acquired cases across U.S. 
territories. As has been pointed out, people travel and they bring the 
virus back here to the United States. It can be transmitted via 
mosquitoes here, and it can be locally acquired here. Just 6 weeks 
later, the number of travel-associated Zika infections has more than 
doubled to 2,500 cases, including 77 cases in Maryland. The number of 
locally acquired cases across the U.S. territories has jumped fourfold 
in the last 6 weeks to more than 9,000 cases, and, perhaps most 
alarmingly, as Senator Nelson pointed out, it is documented here in the 
United States. Florida has documented approximately 30 locally acquired 
Zika cases.
  Zika isn't just a threat to us at home. It also threatens American 
service men and women and their families and other personnel who are 
serving abroad. Earlier this month, the Department of Defense 
officially confirmed that 33 U.S. servicemembers have contracted the 
virus abroad. Just last week, officials in Singapore--a country we 
haven't even considered in the context of Zika--announced that it had 
82 confirmed cases of the virus and had detected local transmission.
  We cannot play partisan politics with this virus. Because of Zika, 
babies are being born in the United States and throughout Central and 
South America with horrible birth defects. A recent study found that 
microcephaly is not the only birth defect resulting from this virus. To 
date, more than 1,300 pregnant women in the continental United States 
and territories are being monitored following laboratory evidence of 
possible Zika virus infection. This is according to the Zika Pregnancy 
  Without congressional action to fund our response to the Zika 
epidemic adequately, the efforts to better understand and combat this 
terrible disease are in danger of being derailed. Let me quote from Dr. 
Tony Fauci, the Nation's leading infectious disease expert and the 
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 
He is well known by all of us on both sides of the aisle, and he is 
frequently used by Democrats and Republicans here as the expert. This 
is what he said: ``The vaccine effort will be blunted if not aborted if 
we don't have the funding.''
  Dr. Fauci also emphasized that other vital HHS and National 
Institutes of Health programs will suffer if the agency is forced to 
focus funding primarily on vaccine development. Already, the National 
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has diverted funds from 
tuberculosis and malaria research to fund Zika efforts. These funds 
have not been paid back. Those programs are now suffering.
  While Congress has been away, the administration has been forced to 
rob vital research programs focusing on Ebola, kidney disease, and 
cancer. Earlier this month, Secretary Burwell announced that HHS will 
transfer another $81 million from other research

[[Page S5239]]

programs to NIH and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development 
Authority to continue Zika vaccine development. It is unconscionable 
that we are forcing our public health officials to make these kinds of 
decisions. Funding of NIH has always been a bipartisan priority, yet 
here we are not making the money available, requiring money to be 
diverted from other important NIH projects and inadequately funding a 
response to the public health emergency of Zika.
  Even with those additional funds that were made available, Dr. Fauci 
will still need $196 million to fully fund NIH's research of Zika. If 
Congress doesn't approve emergency funding for Zika research, NIH's 
Zika vaccine trials will once again be interrupted and treatments will 
be further delayed. How do we explain this to the millions of Americans 
at risk for contracting Zika here at home?
  Let me just point out that on August 30, just a couple of days ago, 
the Director of the Centers for Disease Control announced that the 
agency will run out of funding to fight Zika. We don't have the money 
there. It is up to Congress to provide those funds. As we know, from 
mosquitoes is how this virus is contracted. The peak mosquito season in 
the United States typically lasts through October. If local 
transmission spreads in other areas, the CDC is unlikely to have the 
resources to respond and send teams to support local and State health 
departments. That is what is at risk. Millions of Americans are at 
  State and local health departments also bear the brunt of the 
consequences of not fully funding Zika response efforts. Our Nation's 
health departments are on the front line, fighting the disease while 
working on grassroots levels to expand and enhance prevention efforts, 
including mosquito surveillance and control, promoting culturally 
conscious education programs to raise public awareness, and equipping 
our public health care workforce with the most medically accurate 
guidelines to help patients make informed decisions about their health 
  The first order of business for this Congress should be to pass an 
adequate and clean Zika funding bill. Neglecting to pass an appropriate 
Zika response bill is a failure to expectant mothers who are growing 
concerned about the lasting impact that mosquito bites this summer 
could have on the health of their unborn children, and it is a failure 
to the millions of Americans who trust us to do everything in our power 
to safeguard their health and well-being. If we expect to make adequate 
progress on combating this virus this year, if we want to protect the 
health and welfare of all Americans, Congress must pass a clean, well-
resourced funding bill without delay.
  Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. AYOTTE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gardner). Without objection, it is so 

                             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:

                             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 conference 
     report to accompany H.R. 2577, an act making appropriations 
     for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban 
     Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending 
     September 30, 2016, and for other purposes.
         Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, John Thune, Orrin G. Hatch, 
           Jerry Moran, Shelley Moore Capito, Johnny Isakson, Mike 
           Crapo, Thom Tillis, John Hoeven, Joni Ernst, Steve 
           Daines, Chuck Grassley, James E. Risch, John Boozman, 
           Cory Gardner, John Barrasso.

  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 
conference report to accompany H.R. 2577, an act making appropriations 
for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban 
Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 
30, 2016, 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 North Dakota (Mr. Hoeven).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from North Dakota (Mr. 
Hoeven) would have voted ``yea''.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Virginia (Mr. Kaine) is 
necessarily absent.
  I further announce that, if present and voting, the Senator from 
Virginia (Mr. Kaine) would vote nay. --
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 52, nays 46, as follows:--

                    [Rollcall Vote No. 135 Leg.] --

                              YEAS--52 --

     Wicker --

                              NAYS--46 --

     Wyden --

                            NOT VOTING--2 -

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 52, the nays are 
  Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted 
in the affirmative, the motion is rejected.

                             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:

                             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 
     proceed to Calendar No. 524, H.R. 5293, an act making 
     appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal 
     year ending September 30, 2017, and for other purposes.
         Mitch McConnell, James Lankford, John Thune, Orrin G. 
           Hatch, Jerry Moran, Shelley Moore Capito, Johnny 
           Isakson, Mike Crapo, John Boozman, Thom Tillis, John 
           Hoeven, Joni Ernst, David Perdue, Dan Sullivan, Steve 
           Daines, Chuck Grassley, James E. Risch
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Daines). 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 proceed to H.R. 5293, an act making appropriations for the 
Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, 
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 North Dakota (Mr. Hoeven).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from North Dakota (Mr. 
Hoeven) would have voted ``yea.''
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Virginia (Mr. Kaine) is 
necessarily absent.
  I further announce that, if present and voting, the Senator from 
Virginia (Mr. Kaine) would vote ``nay.''
  The result was announced--yeas 55, nays 43, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 136 Leg.]



[[Page S5240]]




                             NOT VOTING--2

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 55, the nays are 
  Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted 
in the affirmative, the motion is rejected.
  The majority leader.