(Senate - September 07, 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 134 (Wednesday, September 7, 2016)]
[Pages S5302-S5310]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 2848, which the 
clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 523, S. 2848, a bill to 
     provide for the conservation and development of water and 
     related resources, to authorize the Secretary of the Army to 
     construct various projects for improvements to rivers and 
     harbors of the United States, and for other purposes.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The assistant Democratic leader.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I am going to--I believe I have an 
opportunity to speak on the floor now on the pending measure as in 
morning business, but I am going to yield as soon as the Democratic 
leader comes back, which I expect to be momentarily, and I would ask 
unanimous consent to then reclaim the floor. He has just arrived. I am 
going to yield to the Democratic leader for his leadership time.

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I appreciate very much my friend the 
assistant leader for always looking out for me, as he has for 34 years. 
I appreciate it very much. We came together here 34 years ago, to 
Congress, and I appreciate all he has done over the years and 
especially his friendship.

              Zika Virus Funding and Judicial Nominations

  Mr. President, quickly, it is hard for me to understand how my friend 
the Republican leader can stand here and talk about Zika. Let's just 
look back at what happened. We passed here, with 89 votes, a compromise 
Zika funding bill. Democrats and the President wanted more money. We 
agreed to $1.1 billion. It flew out of here and went to the House. The 
House decided they wanted to do a few things. They wanted to restrict 
funding for birth control provided by Planned Parenthood. Remember, 2 
million women visited Planned Parenthood last year. With all the 
problems with Zika now, there are a lot more who are going to be 
showing up at Planned Parenthood. That legislation exempts pesticide 
spraying from the Clean Water Act. It cuts veterans funding by $500 
million--half a billion dollars. That money was being used to speed up 
the process in the veterans' claims. It cuts Ebola funding by $107 
million. Yet it rescinds $543 million of ObamaCare money. It strikes a 
prohibition on displaying the Confederate flag.
  So, in effect, the Republicans in the House decided they would send 
back this bill loaded with poison pills. We had just passed the bill 
that I told you went over there--straight funding for research and 
taking care of the problems with Zika. That was it. It was very simple. 
Even though the Republicans voted--89 votes--with us a few weeks before 
that, they suddenly decided: Well, we will go along with flying the 
Confederate flag, cutting ObamaCare, and destroying Planned Parenthood. 
So how can he with a straight face talk about our having hurt Zika?
  Zika is a very dangerous virus. We are learning more about it every 
day. One of America's prominent scientists today said that now Zika 
affects everybody. The virus goes in people's eyes and leads to vision 
impairment and blindness. It is not just women of childbearing age; it 
is going to affect a lot of people.
  Please, please, Mr. Republican Leader, don't talk about this anymore. 
It takes away from your dignity.
  Yesterday I objected to committees meeting to bring attention to the 
fact that the Senate Republicans refuse to hold a hearing on Chief 
Judge Merrick Garland, this man who should go to the Supreme Court. As 
said by a senior member of the Republican caucus, Orrin Hatch of Utah, 
he was a consensus nominee, but they refuse to allow this man to go on 
the Supreme Court. They want to save that Supreme Court nomination for 
Donald Trump. Donald Trump picking who goes on the Supreme Court--a man 
who believes in waterboarding. He said that waterboarding isn't enough 
torture; we need to do more than just waterboarding. That is just one 
of the little snippets from this man.
  This morning, a number of Senators are going to go to the Supreme 
Court steps with former clerks of Judge Garland, and we are going to 
hear positive statements about Merrick Garland, as if we need more. We 
have plenty. This is a good man.
  I am glad to see that the Republican leader is talking about some 
movement on Zika. Maybe we have a path forward on that. We are going to 
continue to take steps to keep attention on this important nomination 
and on Zika and other things.
  The Republicans simply aren't doing their job. You have seen these 
charts we have, and we will continue to show them. It is very simple: 
Do your job. And the Republicans simply are refusing to do their job.
  In the meantime, I want to find other ways to focus attention on what 
they are not doing to help Chief Judge Garland. My friend the assistant 
Democratic leader is going to attend a meeting--which he does whenever 
they have one, with rare exception--of the Judiciary Committee. He 
loves that committee. He is the ranking member and was chair of the 
Constitution Subcommittee. Tomorrow, it is my understanding that we are 
going to try to do a markup of some district court judges. I look 
forward to what is going to happen at that meeting of the Judiciary 


  In this morning's Wall Street Journal--a paper not ever confused with 
being liberal or pro-Obama--there is stunning news--very positive 
news--about the number of Americans who now have health insurance. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control, our Nation's uninsured 
rate stands at 8.5 percent. From where it was before, that is stunning. 
Because of ObamaCare, almost 92 percent of Americans now have health 
insurance--92 percent of Americans. People no longer have to worry if 
they have a child with diabetes or someone has been in an accident or 
you are a woman--you can now get insurance. Insurance companies don't 
control what goes on.
  I remind my Republican colleagues, who love to come down here and 
berate ObamaCare, could ObamaCare be better? It could be a lot better 
if we had 5 percent help from the Republicans, 2 percent, 1 percent, 
but they have done nothing to help the health care delivery system in 
this country. In fact, they have done things to hurt it. Some 70 times 
they voted to defund ObamaCare and do away with it. It wasn't long ago 
that we talked about how many millions of people had no health 
insurance. That is no longer an argument. It has been 6 years and the 
Affordable Care Act has cut the number of uninsured Americans 
significantly. The Nation saw the sharpest decline in the number of 
uninsured people in 2014 when the ObamaCare coverage provisions kicked 
in. This is no coincidence. While the Republicans have been making much 
about the premium increases, the fact is, the vast majority of 
Americans are protected by ObamaCare provisions that safeguard against 
these huge tax rates and tax increases.

  These are the facts. All across America our constituents are getting 
the health coverage they were promised when Congress passed the 
Affordable Care Act. I repeat: It could be made better if a few 
Republicans would break away from the Trump mentality and try to help 
us. It is time for Republicans to stop denying the evidence. ObamaCare 
has worked and it is working.

   Nomination of Merrick Garland and the Judiciary Committee Chairman

  Mr. President, after 7 weeks, we are finally back working. We finally 
returned from a historically long and unprecedented long, long, long 
summer vacation. About 2 months were wasted by Republicans who could 
have been doing their jobs. We would have been happy to join with them 
in getting things done on the Senate floor and in our committees. If 
Republicans were serious about their constitutional duties, they would 
have spent some time giving Chief Judge Merrick Garland the hearing he 
deserves. He deserves to have a hearing.

[[Page S5303]]

  Why are they afraid to give him a hearing? They are afraid to give 
him a hearing because if they did, this good man's credibility, 
competence, experience, and just the simple fact that he is such a nice 
man would be overwhelming. They don't want to do that. The American 
people would know they are trying to hold up somebody who should be on 
the Supreme Court.
  The American Bar Association said he was unanimously ``well-
qualified.'' They can't give a higher rating. If they could, they 
would. Senator Hatch said there is ``no question'' he could be 
confirmed and that he would be a ``consensus nominee,'' but Senate 
Republicans will not even give this good man a hearing. It is nothing 
short of being shameful.
  As a USA TODAY editorial last month said, ``Flat-out ignoring a 
vacancy on the nation's highest court, which Senate Republicans have 
vowed to do while President Obama remains in office, is an abrogation 
of its constitutional duty.''
  The people we represent across this great country cannot believe 
their representatives have put partisan interests above their 
constitutional duties. They cannot believe the chairman of the 
Judiciary Committee has gone along with this scam, and that is what it 
  Over this recess, the Des Moines Register, Iowa's largest newspaper, 
published another letter to the editor. There have been lots of 
editorials. Here is what one Iowan said:

       I am a 60-year-old registered Republican and this year I am 
     not voting for Chuck Grassley. Senator, you have tossed 225 
     legal years of tradition in the trash heap and have made this 
     country weaker. . . .
       I think the people of Iowa are not served by waiting over a 
     year for a judicial hearing. Where is the senator I first 
     voted for 40 years ago?

  I have been in Congress for 34 years, and this is something that is a 
familiar refrain that we hear from people all over Iowa, and that's how 
I feel. Where is the Senator I first started serving with in the 
Congress those many decades ago?
  I admit, as I consider all of the unprecedented obstruction of 
Merrick Garland's nomination, I am again forced to ask: Where is the 
Chuck Grassley I have come to know over the last three and a half 
decades? I can't imagine this man who we always thought was an 
independent person would refuse do his job on the Judiciary Committee. 
As chairman, he failed to schedule a hearing on this qualified nominee.
  The first speech I gave on this floor those many years ago was 
talking about the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The Presiding Officer was 
the Senator from Arkansas, David Pryor. Senator Grassley heard my 
speech. He agreed to help me. With the help of Senator Grassley and 
Senator Pryor, we got that passed my first year in the Senate. It was 
really quite a big victory. We put the taxpayer on more equal footing 
with the tax collector, and Senator Grassley worked with both Senator 
Pryor and me. That is the way Grassley used to be--independent. I could 
not have imagined--but I have to accept it--that he would refuse to do 
his job by blocking a vote on Garland's nomination, but that is 
precisely what the chairman of the Judiciary Committee has done. He has 
blocked his nomination. He was nominated 175 days ago. For 175 days, 
this senior Senator from Iowa has refused to lift a finger in 
consideration for this nominee.
  The Senator I knew would not cede the independence of this very good 
committee--famous committee. It has been around forever in the Senate. 
I could never have imagined what he has done. Since he became chairman, 
we have seen the independence and prestige of the Judiciary Committee 
manipulated by Senator Grassley's boss, the Republican leader, for 
narrow, partisan warfare.
  We all know where the Republican leader stands on President Obama's 
Supreme Court nominee. Long ago, Senator McConnell decided to abandon 
any degree of bipartisanship or decorum just to spite President Obama. 
We heard that within hours of Scalia having passed away. The Republican 
leader admitted as much last month when he told a gathering in 
Kentucky, ``One of my proudest moments was when I looked at Barack 
Obama in the eye and I said: `Mr. President, you will not fill this 
Supreme Court vacancy.' ''
  Isn't that something to be proud of? One of the Republican leader's 
proudest moments was the time he abandoned his constitutional duty and 
failed to do the job he was elected to do. Republicans' proudest 
moments are not accomplishments, they are obstruction. What a shame 
that he is putting Senator McConnell's political vendetta against 
President Obama over the will of the people of Iowa and the other 49 
States. It is disappointing that Senator Grassley is going along with 
this obstruction. Where is the Senator I have known for such a long 
  I am not mad at Senator Grassley. I remember who he used to be--what 
he used to be--and that is going to overcome any animosity I have 
toward Senator Grassley. My only concern is that I think the great 
record of this man from Iowa is being tarnished--some say beyond 
repair. His legacy is going to be damaged, and we have seen that in 
editorials out of Iowa as well as letters to the editor out of Iowa--
lots of them.
  Donald Trump is the American nightmare. He is the most unqualified 
major party Presidential candidate anyone can remember. He is a bigot 
and a scam artist. He will not show us his tax returns, and Senator 
Grassley is holding the Supreme Court vacancy for this man.
  Just last week, the chairman of the committee even compared Donald 
Trump--listen to this one--to Ronald Reagan. Wow. I served with Ronald 
Reagan for a little bit, and I didn't agree with everything he did, but 
I admired him as a person. I thought he had a good administration. I 
thought what he did in bringing the Cold War to an end and swallowing a 
little bit of pride, which you have to do sometimes in order to do 
important things--he met with Communist leaders on more than one 
occasion. He, more than anyone else, brought the Cold War to a close. 
He didn't have an unblemished record. There was the commerce fiasco 
which had a lot of problems, but he was a good person.
  With all due respect to the Senator from Iowa, I know President 
Reagan and I worked with him and, as I indicated, had a few differences 
with him, but I can say unequivocally that Donald Trump is no Ronald 
Reagan. That is the most significant understatement I have made on this 
floor in a long time. The fact that my colleague from Iowa would lump 
Ronald Reagan in with an egomaniac--a selfish person like Donald 
Trump--should scare the people of Iowa. This is not the Grassley we 
have come to know all these many years. Instead of spending his days as 
Trump's fan, the Judiciary chairman should perform his constitutional 
duty and give President Obama's Supreme Court nominee due 
consideration. That is the job the people of Iowa elected him to do, 
and it is simple common decency and fairness.
  Senator Grassley should do his job and give Merrick Garland a hearing 
and a vote, and it should be now. Don't make another Iowan question: 
Where is the Senator I first voted for 40 years ago?
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The assistant Democratic leader.

                           ZIKA Virus Funding

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I listened carefully to the statement made 
by the Republican leader, Senator McConnell, about the Zika crisis we 
face. I would like to give the Members of the Senate and those who are 
following this debate an update of what occurred in the United States 
of America between the time we adjourned and now returned to this 
session of the U.S. Senate.
  The last time I came to the floor to speak in July to talk about 
Zika, there were 3,667 people in the United States and U.S. territories 
who had Zika infections. Included in that number, 599 pregnant women. 
As of late last week, that number has skyrocketed. There are now 17,000 
people infected with Zika in the United States and its territories. 
That is a fourfold increase over the 7 weeks since we left for recess. 
It included 1,595 pregnant women.
  I say to the Republican majority: You have been warned by the 
President, by public health experts, and others that your failure to 
respond to the President's request for resources would endanger people 
living in the United

[[Page S5304]]

States and its territories and especially pregnant women. Yet the 
Republican leadership has refused the President's efforts to provide 
the resources necessary to fight this deadly Zika virus.
  The numbers are devastating but not surprising. It was last 
February--7 months ago--when the President asked Congress for $1.9 
billion in emergency funding so public health experts would have the 
resources they needed to fight Zika. Here we are almost 7 months 
later--200 days later--and Congress still has refused to provide the 
resources necessary to protect American families from this virus. This 
is a disgrace. It is an outrage.
  Our Federal health agencies, including the Centers for Disease 
Control and Prevention, have been doing everything they can to move 
money around within their agencies to try to make do in this fight 
against Zika. They are out of options.
  Last week, Dr. Frieden, Director of the CDC, said:

       The cupboard is bare. Basically, we are out of money, and 
     we need Congress to act to allow us to respond effectively.

  Dr. Frieden came to see me before the recess. In my office, he said 
he was incredulous. He said: You mean you are going to leave without 
Congress responding to the President's call for emergency funding to 
fight Zika? And I said: Unfortunately, that is the case. And that is 
what happened. For 7 weeks, we have said to the public health leaders 
across America that the Republican-led Congress will not respond to the 
President's call for emergency funds. It didn't have to be this way.
  In May, the Senate approved a bipartisan compromise funding bill 
supported by 89 Senators, including many who have come to the floor on 
the Republican side. It was negotiated by Senators Blunt, Murray, and 
others. It provided $1.1 billion in emergency funding to fight Zika, 
not what the President asked, which was $1.8, but $1.1 billion. Instead 
of voting on this bipartisan measure after it passed the Senate with 89 
votes, the House Republican leadership put forth an inadequate proposal 
to fight Zika in the range of $622 million, about one-third of what the 
President asked for. Then when that bill was a nonstarter, the House 
Republicans decided to double down, so they drafted the special House 
Republican Zika funding bill. What an outrage. This bill included a 
litany of poison pill riders that the House Republicans knew didn't 
have a chance in the U.S. Senate.
  They threw in a provision--listen to this--at a time when women, 
fearful of becoming pregnant and infected by the Zika virus, were 
seeking family planning advice and counseling, the House Republicans 
threw in a provision on the Zika funding bill to block funding for 
Planned Parenthood. They knew with no vaccine available to protect 
these women, women's health clinics like Planned Parenthood were on the 
frontlines of giving women who faced a pregnancy the opportunity to 
delay that pregnancy so they wouldn't be infected and give birth to a 
child with serious problems.

  Did they stop there? No. The House Republicans had more. They threw 
in provisions to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency on key 
provisions of the Clean Water Act. Then they added provisions to cut 
Affordable Care Act funds to reduce the opportunity in Puerto Rico, 
which is ground zero in our territories, to fight the Zika virus. 
Essentially, the Republicans are putting red meat for the right wing of 
their party ahead of protecting the people living in America and our 
territories--and especially pregnant women--from this public health 
  It is no surprise that this hyperpartisan bill coming out of the 
House went nowhere.
  Now, Senator McConnell comes to the floor and blames the Democrats--
blames the Democrats--after the Republicans put in the provision to 
block funding for family planning at Planned Parenthood.
  Let me be clear. Democrats were committed from the start to fund this 
effort that the President asked for at $1.9 billion so that we had the 
resources to fight this public health emergency. The Republicans 
decided to play politics with it.
  I have been in Congress for a while, in the House and in the Senate. 
We have had a lot of disasters--natural disasters and others. Time and 
again we put party aside to respond to the real needs of the American 
people. That has all changed. With the arrival of the tea party and 
this new spiteful spirit that we see in the Congress, even a public 
health crisis like Zika has become a political football in this 
Republican-controlled Congress.
  When it became clear the Republicans were not going to approve the 
funding level the President asked for, we agreed to a compromise of 
$1.1 billion. This bipartisan bill passed the Senate overwhelmingly, 
and all the House had to do was to approve that bill so that we could 
provide funding to fight Zika. They refused.
  I worry that my Republican colleagues are underestimating the threat 
that this virus poses. Local transmission of Zika has now occurred in 
Florida, with more than 35 Floridians contracting the virus without 
having traveled overseas. And, for the first time ever--for the first 
time in the history of our country--the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention is warning Americans that there are certain parts of the 
continental United States that are not safe to travel in. They are 
advising pregnant women to avoid neighborhoods in Miami, FL. That has 
never happened before. When the President warned us in February of the 
danger of this crisis, did any of the Republicans who opposed him think 
there would be parts of America that we would be advising Americans not 
to visit because of the danger of this public health crisis? Certainly, 
if they did, they would have paid closer attention to the President's 
  During the past 6 months, we have discovered new and worse 
information about Zika. Here is what we know. Zika can be spread 
through sexual transmission. We also know women with Zika in their 
first trimester face a 13-percent chance that their baby will be born 
with microcephaly. And even if pregnant women don't show any signs of 
infection, the baby can be born with serious physical and neurological 
disorders. Researchers are also examining the links to other negative 
health outcomes: Eye infections that can lead to blindness, autoimmune 
disorders that can cause paralysis. And what about the impact of 
maternal stress on the baby? I can't imagine the anxiety that pregnant 
women must feel right now, especially in Florida, and as a result of 
the looming crises in Texas, Louisiana, and certainly in Puerto Rico. 
If you call yourself a pro-life Congressman or Senator, wouldn't you 
want to do everything in your power to protect these babies from this 
elevated risk?
  In July I met with maternal and fetal health medicine specialists and 
community health leaders in Chicago who shared with me their fear about 
what parents were going to go through. Illinois has now had 47 cases of 
Zika, but with Chicago being a major transportation hub, hundreds more 
of pregnant women have sought care and advice from providers and have 
undergone tests to make sure their babies are safe.
  I am tired of the partisan games being played with the health of 
pregnant women and babies but, to date, that is exactly what has 
happened with this partisan response to the Zika crisis. It is time for 
this to stop.
  I am heartened that some House Republicans--only a few--have had the 
courage to step up and say what is obvious. Florida Republican 
Representative Ted Yoho recently said: ``Take everything out except 
Zika funding and don't put any riders in it'' when he was asked how we 
should respond to the Zika crisis. He basically said to Speaker Ryan 
and the House Republicans: You have to reverse course and take the 
politics out of the Zika public health crisis.
  Well, I hope the Republican leadership is listening. Let's not wait 
for another 17,000 infected by Zika. It is time for the Republicans to 
stop playing these political games, to come back and approve the 
measure that passed with 89 votes in the Senate.

                  For-Profit Colleges and Universities

  Mr. President, I have come to this floor for many years now to alert 
the American people to a looming crisis. It is a crisis involving for-
profit colleges and universities. Many people were not even aware that 
there was a difference between public and private universities

[[Page S5305]]

in the for-profit sector, but there is a big difference. I have said it 
repeatedly and sadly it is still the case.
  There are three numbers that tell the story about for-profit colleges 
and universities. Ten. Ten percent of students enrolled in post-
secondary education go to these for-profit schools--schools like the 
University of Phoenix and DeVry and Rasmussen and Kaplan--10 percent of 
the students. Twenty. Twenty percent of all of the Federal aid to 
education goes to these for-profit schools. Why so much? Because they 
charge so much in tuition. But the big number is 40. Forty percent of 
all student loan defaults are students who attended for-profit colleges 
and universities. Ten percent of the students, 40 percent of the 
defaults. Why? For several reasons.
  First, these for-profit colleges and universities are recruiting 
young people who are not ready for college. They don't care. Sign them 
up. Sign them up so that these for-profit schools can walk away with 
their Pell grants, can lure them into student loans that send thousands 
of dollars for each student back into these for-profit schools. Many of 
the students finally wake up to the reality that they are not ready for 
college or that the debt they are accumulating is too high, and they 
make a terrible choice but an inevitable one--they drop out. So they 
sit there with a debt and nothing to show for it but wasted time. Or, 
they stick with the program. For-profit schools take them to 
``graduation'' and then they find out the reality that the diploma from 
for-profit colleges and universities in many cases is worthless, 
despite all the debt and all the time wasted.
  Yesterday, one of the worst actors in the for-profit sector, ITT 
Tech, announced it was closing after years of exploiting students and 
fleecing taxpayers. In the post mortem, many are focused on the 
Department of Education's decision a couple of weeks ago to prohibit 
ITT Tech from enrolling any new students using Federal student loans, 
in addition to other restrictions. But the root of the ITT Tech demise 
stretches back much further than that. This is a company that literally 
rotted from the inside.
  The story of ITT Tech, like that of Corinthian, another failed for-
profit college, is really the story of the for-profit college 
industry--for-profit education companies consumed by greed, fed by 
students who are understandably trying to make a better life for 
themselves, and enabled for too long by poor Federal oversight and 
congressional inaction. Like Corinthian before it and many for-profit 
colleges still today, ITT Tech charges students too much in tuition, 
provides them too little in the form of meaningful education, and 
leaves them with crushing debt.
  In my hometown of Springfield, IL, we have a mall called White Oaks 
Mall. Every time I would drive out there and take a look at the huge 
ITT Tech sign on the side of that mall, I would think to myself, I know 
what is going to happen here. This school is going to lure in hundreds 
of unsuspecting students from this area, saddle them with debt, and 
give them worthless diplomas, and probably ITT Tech one day would go 
out of business. It happened. In my hometown, an ITT Tech student 
seeking an associate's degree in information technology, computer and 
electronics engineering technology, computer drafting and design, and 
parallel studies could sign up with ITT Tech and expect the 2-year 
program to cost them $47,000--$47,000 for 2 years at ITT Tech in 
Springfield, IL, for an associate's degree. If they went a few miles 
away to Lincoln Land Community College, they could get an associate's 
degree in fields like information technology, computers and electronics 
for $3,000, so $47,000 at ITT Tech and $3,000 at Lincoln Land Community 
College a few miles away. And here is something to think about: At 
Lincoln Land, only 1 in 50 students ends up being unable to pay back 
their Federal student loans--1 in 50. At ITT Tech: One in five. 
Students are 10 times more likely to default on their student loans if 
they went to ITT Tech instead of Lincoln Land Community College for the 
same degree. Why? The difference in tuition: $47,000 in debt at ITT, 
$3,000 in debt at Lincoln Land.
  According to one recent Brookings study, ITT Tech students 
cumulatively--cumulatively, these students owe more than $4.6 billion 
in Federal student loans, and now ITT Tech is going out of business.
  How much is being paid back on that accumulated debt to ITT Tech, 
this for-profit college? According to the same Brookings study, minus 1 
percent of the balance has been repaid in 2014. How is that possible? 
How can it be a negative number? Because the interest on the cumulative 
debt is accruing faster than the payments being made by students 
nationwide. These students are being fleeced--fleeced by a fly-by-
night, for-profit college that should have been closed long ago.
  Individual students often have no chance of paying back their debt. 
They have taken on huge debt for a worthless diploma from ITT Tech.
  In 2009, ITT Tech's 5-year cohort default rate on student loans was 
51 percent. More than half their students defaulted.
  Marcus Willis from Illinois understands it. He was recruited by ITT 
Tech with two or three phone calls a day until he finally signed up. He 
relented from the pressure and signed up for classes. Marcus graduated 
in 2003 from ITT Tech and spent months looking for a job. Of the 
student debt he incurred, he says: ``It's too much to even keep track 
of; I will never be able to pay it back.'' He says he wouldn't wish ITT 
Tech on his worst enemy.
  ITT Tech and many of these for-profit colleges are approved by our 
Federal Government to issue Pell grants and student loans. Is it any 
wonder that students like Marcus Willis think they are legitimate 
schools and they turn out to be nothing but fleecing operations by 
these people who are raking in millions of dollars?
  Like Corinthian before it and many more for-profit colleges still 
today, ITT Tech has engaged in unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices 
to lure students into their programs--false promises, high-pressure 
tactics, flashy advertisements.
  Yesterday, when it announced it was going to close, ITT was under 
investigation by--listen--18 State attorneys general. It is being sued 
by Massachusetts and New Mexico at this moment. The New Mexico attorney 
general found ITT placed students into loans without their knowledge, 
falsely stated the number of credits a student needed to take in order 
to push them even deeper into debt, failed to issue refunds in tuition 
and fees in compliance with Federal law, and many other deceitful 
  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is suing ITT Tech for 
predatory lending. This was a for-profit college with the blessing of 
the Department of Education. There are many more, sadly, just like it.

  Despite what happens to students and their families, the executives 
who worked at ITT Tech are not going to suffer in this closure. Kevin 
Modany and Daniel Fitzpatrick were two ITT execs. Modany received 
$515,048 and Fitzpatrick received $112,348 in big bonus checks as 
recently as January. In 2014, Modany was paid more than $3 million in 
total compensation. I think that is more than any college president in 
America. This man was paid that amount of money by ITT Tech because 
students came in and signed up for their worthless courses. These are 
the same two individuals the SEC say violated numerous securities laws 
in their fraudulent private student loan scheme at ITT Tech.
  Accreditation for ITT Tech? The for-profit industry takes care of 
that. They accredit their own schools. It is time for us and the 
Department of Education to stop playing ball with that.
  Yet for all of this, in its swan song, ITT Tech is engaging in a pity 
campaign for itself--blaming everyone but its own greedy executives and 
shady practices for its collapse.
  True to form, the Wall Street Journal calls the collapse of ITT Tech 
an ``execution'' carried out by the Obama administration. The words 
``for-profit'' as used in the term ``for-profit colleges and 
universities'' are such a siren song for the Wall Street Journal that 
they don't even have the good sense to recognize crony capitalism when 
it comes to the for-profit colleges and universities. These colleges 
and universities are the most heavily federally subsidized businesses 
in America today.
  ITT Tech's irresponsible actions now leave tens of thousands of 

[[Page S5306]]

across the country wondering what is next.
  Many who recently attended ITT Tech will be eligible for closed 
school discharges, but must weigh their options carefully.
  If students use ITT Tech credits to transfer to a similar program of 
study, they may not be eligible for a closed school discharge.
  Those who decide to transfer should look at community colleges or 
other not-for-profit options. I have asked Illinois community college 
presidents to assist ITT Tech students to continue their educations. I 
urge my colleagues to do the same in their States.
  The last thing we want is these students to fall into the open arms 
of other for-profit colleges facing State and Federal investigations or 
  In addition, there are countless ITT Tech students who likely qualify 
for Federal student loan relief under a defense to repayment given the 
voluminous evidence of ITT Tech's unfair, deceptive, and abusive 
  The Department of Education should work with State attorneys general 
and other Federal agencies who have evidence of this wrongdoing to 
ensure ITT Tech students who were defrauded receive the relief to which 
they are entitled under the law.
  Of course, all of this will cost taxpayers dearly. The Department 
estimates that the outer limit of potential closed school discharges 
could be around $500 million. Potential defense to repayment claims 
pushes the price tag higher.
  In addition to the $90 million the Department currently holds from 
ITT Tech, the Department should seek the full $247 million it required 
ITT Tech to post in August and explore other ways to ensure that ITT 
Tech and its executives pay for as much of the relief as possible.
  But the high cost can't mean being stingy with relief to students. As 
I said with Corinthian, we can't leave them holding the bag.
  We also can't continue to rely on a policy of oversight that only 
protects students on the back end, after a major collapse.
  We have to reform our accreditation system so that there is 
meaningful accountability with respect to student outcomes on the front 
end. I will be introducing legislation with several of my colleagues in 
the coming weeks to do just that.
  We need earlier and more aggressive enforcement from the Department 
of Education, including expanded use of letters of credit to ensure 
taxpayers are protected. I am pleased that the Department has created 
an enforcement unit to identify and respond to wrongdoing early and is 
working through the Borrower Defense Rule to establish triggers that 
will require a school to post a letter of credit.
  We also must ensure that students can hold schools directly 
accountable in court by banning the use of mandatory arbitration. I am 
hopeful that the coming Borrower Defense Rule will also include a 
strong ban on this practice which hides wrongdoing and leaves taxpayers 
as the only option for relief when students are wronged by schools.
  I am going to close by saying that there is more work to be done. 
This is not the last shoe to drop. Corinthian left so many thousands of 
students with worthless diplomas and, sadly, worthless student debt. 
They didn't earn anything for it. The same thing is happening at ITT 
  Who are the losers? The students, their families, and the taxpayers 
are. When these students can't pay back their loans, the taxpayers of 
America lose. This ITT Tech could be a billion-dollar baby when it 
comes to penalties for America's taxpayers. When will this Senate and 
this Congress wake up to the reality of the disgrace of the for-profit 
college and university industry?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.
  Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I rise today to highlight the importance 
and urgent need of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 and the 
urgent need to bring it to the Senate floor and to act and pass it in 
the Senate.
  Unfortunately, there are many events, floods, and disasters around 
the country in recent times that highlight the need for this. The most 
recent--even more unfortunately, from my point of view--is in South 
Louisiana--the devastating thousand-year flooding in greater Baton 
Rouge and parts of Acadiana.
  WRDA 2016 addresses many of the needs that events like this 
highlight. It builds on the necessary commonsense reforms we made in 
2014. It reinforces why Congress should be passing these water resource 
bills every 2 years. This is one of the reasons why WRDA has come out 
of both Senate and House committees with overwhelming bipartisan 
support. We can't continue to rebuild neighborhoods and cities time and 
again after disasters. We have to become more proactive in protecting 
life and property, more diligent in our oversight of the Corps of 
Engineers to ensure that projects are delivered on time, as well as 
more focused on creating real paying jobs that help grow our economy 
with the important work contained in these bills.
  Some of the highlights of WRDA 2016 that particularly impact 
Louisiana are as follows:
  First of all, let's go to the disaster area with this devastating 
flooding. As chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and 
Infrastructure and in light of that recent flooding, I added to this 
bill language that would expedite construction of the Comite River 
diversion and additional flood protection measures along the Amite 
River and tributaries in East Baton Rouge and adjoining areas.
  The Comite River project was first authorized by Congress in 1992, 
and it is one project that I have been pushing forward for several 
years. Had this project been completed, it absolutely would have 
dramatically reduced the flooding we recently saw in greater Baton 
Rouge. Constructing the remaining phases of the Comite River Diversion 
Project must be an absolute top priority, which means getting it ready 
to go, encouraging State and local officials to acquire the necessary 
footprint and mitigation lands.
  In addition, the WRDA 2016 bill authorizes the West Shore Lake 
Pontchartrain Hurricane Protection Project and the Southwest Coastal 
Louisiana Hurricane Protection Project. These projects will provide 
necessary protection for residents outside of the New Orleans Hurricane 
Protection System along I-10 and throughout communities in southwest 
  We authorized the Calcasieu Lock, another vital project to 
reconstruct an aging lock to ensure safe, reliable transportation along 
the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, a vital shipping lane.
  In the bill, we have additional reforms to the harbor maintenance 
trust fund. This extends vital programs for ports that move much of our 
Nation's energy commodities, that modernize cost shares to maintain our 
Nation's competitive advantage in the global economy and provide for 
additional operation and maintenance needs for small agricultural ports 
along the Mississippi River.
  We give authority for ports to get limited reimbursement for 
maintenance they perform using their own equipment for Federal 
navigation channels. This will help clear the bureaucratic logjam for 
routine maintenance and operations of our waterways in a very cost-
effective way.
  We provide increases in beneficial use of dredge material. That is 
critically important for the restoration of our coast, including the 
placement of dredge material in a location other than right next to the 
existing project.
  We provide for local flood protection authorities to increase the 
level of protection after a disaster and rehabilitate existing levees 
to provide authorized levels of protection and meet the National Flood 
Insurance Program requirements.
  We provide for allowing locals to get credit for money they spend for 
operations and maintenance of multipurpose protection structures and 
work they have already completed on coastal restoration projects.
  Finally, in WRDA 2016 we also have vital studies to look at 
improvements to the Mississippi River, flood protection and ecosystem 
restoration in St. Tammany Parish, and other measures.
  It is vital that we better protect our communities all across 
America, including in Louisiana, from disastrous floodwaters. We must 
be proactive, aggressive, and hold everyone accountable, certainly 
including the Corps of Engineers, as well as State and local partners, 
to ensure that these flood

[[Page S5307]]

protection projects get constructed on time. Congress and the 
bureaucracies cannot continue to drag their feet on authorization, 
construction, and oversight of these vital projects.
  It is my hope that all of us take this into consideration and that 
all of us move forward with this WRDA 2016 measure, bringing it to the 
Senate floor, acting on it expeditiously, and getting on with the vital 
work of maintaining our ports and waterways and building important 
flood protection for communities all across Louisiana and America.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia.


  Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, on Christmas Eve 2009 on the floor of the 
Senate, I and the other 99 Members of the Senate voted on what is known 
as the Affordable Care Act, which later became known as ObamaCare. It 
has been 7 years since that debate, and a lot has happened.
  When it passed on the floor of the Senate and in the House, I voted 
against it because I feared it would limit access, cost more, and limit 
  It was sold as doing the opposite. It was sold as costing less, 
expanding choice, and expanding access. But facts are stubborn things. 
It is now time for us to look at ObamaCare and the Affordable Care Act, 
realize what it has done to us, and realize time is running out for us 
to correct the imperfections of that legislation.
  On choice, remember what the President said: If you like your policy, 
you can keep it. Because of what we are doing, there is going to be 
more access for those who don't have a policy.
  But, in fact, those who liked the policy they had didn't get to keep 
it. In fact, a lot of their coverage went away or became more limited.
  The cost was going to be less expensive because everybody was going 
to be covered, but, in fact, everybody was not covered and costs have 
gone up. In fact, in our charity hospitals, our inner-city hospitals, 
and our high-trauma, level-1 centers around America, the payments for 
the disproportionate share of costs were going to be eliminated because 
ObamaCare was going to have everybody covered and there would be no 
uninsured people going to hospitals, but, in fact, that didn't take 
  Access was going to increase because there was going to be more 
coverage, more insurance, more things like that. But what has been the 
fact is the following: Choice is limited or nonexistent, cost is more 
expensive than ever, and access is gone.
  As to my State of Georgia, I want to read you a few facts. Just last 
month after Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, and Cigna announced they would 
leave Georgia's marketplace, Blue Cross filed its third premium 
increase for the third time this summer--an increase of 21.4 percent. 
Earlier in the summer, Humana announced average premium increases in 
Georgia of a whopping 67.5 percent. This year, all 159 counties in 
Georgia had at least two provider options. In 2017, 96 counties in 
Georgia will have one option and one alone.
  The numbers do not lie. ObamaCare is forcing insurance carriers to 
leave the market, eliminating competition and choice, all the while 
placing the burden of higher costs on the backs of working taxpayers in 
this country. Worst of all, the inevitability of the Affordable Care 
Act as a single-payer government system, which is on the horizon, is 
what I feared the most in the debate of Christmas Eve 2009--something 
all of us in the Senate hoped would never happen. It is going to be on 
our doorstep if we don't act now to correct ObamaCare, repeal the 
portions of it that are wrong, keep the portions of it that are right, 
but bring about choice, access, and quality to our residents. That is 
what we promised them 7 years ago, and that is what they deserve today.
  It is time for the Senate, the House, and this administration and the 
next administration to realize that our No. 1 priority was to bring 
about the promise of a program that has more access, lower costs, and 
more choice for American citizens. We cannot rely on going to a 
government single-payer system. It will bankrupt the country, destroy 
health care, and eliminate the choice we all love as Americans.
  So with that, I challenge the Senate to get down to business, correct 
the inequities in the law that was passed and do the right thing for 
the people of Georgia who I represent--give them insurance that is 
accessible, affordable, and accountable to the American people.
  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. COTTON. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). Without objection, it is so 

                       Tribute to Marvin Williams

  Mr. COTTON. Mr. President, I would like to recognize Marvin Williams 
as this week's Arkansan of the Week for his work as the UCAN 
coordinator at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. UCAN 
stands for Unlocking College Academics Now, a program at UCA aimed at 
helping students facing their first academic suspension to improve 
their grade point average and continue their education. Students who 
participate in UCAN are permitted to stay in school during their first 
suspension rather than withdrawing for the semester.
  As the program coordinator, Marvin works with students to help 
identify their academic weaknesses and find ways to accommodate them. 
Under Marvin's leadership, the program has helped 347 students obtain 
their college degrees. Without UCAN, it is possible that many of these 
students would have taken their semester suspension and not have 
returned to complete their degree.
  The impact Marvin has on students' lives cannot be overstated. One of 
his colleagues wrote:

       [Marvin] meets with students on a daily basis to encourage 
     them to take control of their lives and their education, so 
     they can improve their future. On a regular basis he 
     experiences the difficulties of life as students bring him 
     their circumstances, and he walks with them when they have no 
     one else to turn to. Along with that, when they need 
     correction, he does it with empathy, and leads them back to 
     the path they need to be on.

  But Marvin's compassion does not end with his work in the classroom. 
Marvin was also instrumental in establishing the Bear Essentials Food 
Pantry, the UCA on-campus food bank. The food pantry idea was born out 
of a meeting Marvin had 2 years ago with a student who had very little 
to eat. He provided the student with a list of nearby food pantries, 
but she lacked the transportation needed to visit the off-campus 
locations. Marvin responded by taking the student to the cafeteria and 
paying for her meal and then springing into action. He recruited a few 
other UCA employees to help him, and the group successfully opened a 
food bank on UCA's campus.
  In conclusion, I would like to quote again Marvin's colleague, who 
concluded his nomination with these words:

       I don't think I can accurately describe the work that 
     Marvin has done. I'm sure in the past he's received 
     recognition, awards, and the like. However, I believe that 
     this week, this month, maybe even this year he is the type of 
     Arkansan that we should aspire to be in our communities.

  I am pleased to recognize Marvin Williams as this week's Arkansan of 
the Week, and I join all Arkansans in thanking him for his positive 
impact on those around him.
  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. THUNE. 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. THUNE. Mr. President, as President Obama's Presidency draws to a 
close, talk tends to turn to his legacy. What will President Obama 
leave behind? Internationally, of course, he will leave behind a 
growing terrorist threat and an emboldened Iran on its way to becoming 
a nuclear power. Domestically, the President will leave behind a weak 
economy, as the recent economic growth numbers for the second quarter 
made clear. We grew at a

[[Page S5308]]

little more than 1 percent. If you look at the historical average since 
World War II, average growth has been 3 percent, 3.5 percent. In fact, 
President Obama will be the only President in history--at least since 
they started keeping these sorts of numbers--who will not have had 1 
year in his Presidency where the growth rate exceeded 3 percent.
  Under his Presidency, we have averaged about 1.5 percent, so it is a 
sluggish, anemic economy that continues to keep wages at lower levels 
for American workers, the highest number of people who have left the 
labor force and lowest labor participation rate literally in 40 years. 
That is the economic legacy of the President.
  Of course, the President will leave behind his signature law, 
ObamaCare. Many Democrats would still like to think of ObamaCare as the 
President's signature domestic achievement, but you can ask anybody to 
scan any newspaper, and you can see it is well on its way to being a 
  This is just a small sampling of recent ObamaCare headlines. From the 
New York Times, this headline read: ``Think Your ObamaCare Plan Will Be 
Like Employer Coverage? Think Again.''
  From the Chicago Tribune: ``Illinois ObamaCare rates could soar as 
state submits insurance premium increases to feds.''
  From the Washington Post: ``Health-care exchange signups fall far 
short of forecasts.''
  From a Lancaster, PA, newspaper: ``Lancaster residents will have 
rising premiums, fewer choices from 2017 ObamaCare health plans.''
  From the Wall Street Journal: ``Insurers Move to Limit Options in 
Health-Care Exchange Plans.''
  From The Tennessean, quoting the Tennessee insurance commissioner: 
``Tennessee insurance commissioner: Obamacare exchange `very near 
collapse.' '' That is a headline from The Tennessean.
  I could go on. In fact, I could go on for a long time. Those are just 
a few of the headlines from the past 3 weeks. I could literally fill an 
entire speech with the negative ObamaCare headlines just this summer. 
Just to reiterate, these are newspaper headlines. These are not 
conservative talking points. ObamaCare is failing so badly that even 
those who might like to deny it cannot.
  But let's get into the specifics. What exactly are consumers on the 
exchanges facing for this coming year? For starters, they are facing 
huge premium increases--36 percent, 43 percent, 19 percent, 22.9 
percent, 89 percent. Those are some of the average rate hikes that 
Americans are facing around the country.
  Let's break that down for just a minute. Let's say that your health 
care plan for 2016 costs $10,000. Let's say you are facing a 43-percent 
rate increase, which is the average rate increase facing Humana 
customers in the State of Mississippi. A 43-percent increase means you 
would have to pay an additional $4,300 for your health insurance next 
year--$4,300. That is a massive increase for so many individuals and 
families, and that is just the rate hike for 1 year.
  Many people facing these kinds of increases already faced a 
substantial rate hike for 2016. Now they are expected to pay even more 
in 2017. Who knows what they will face in 2018. These kinds of rate 
hikes are completely unsustainable. Can you imagine? Just imagine if an 
individual's mortgage payment increased at a similar rate. Within a 
couple of years, most people wouldn't be able to afford to pay for 
their homes. While health insurance may seem like a significantly 
smaller part of the budget than a mortgage payment, the truth is, for 
many families it is not.
  I have heard from at least one South Dakota family whose health 
insurance payments exceeded its mortgage payments. In Tennessee, 
individuals are facing average rate hikes ranging from 44.3 percent to 
62 percent for 2017. How many families can absorb a 62-percent increase 
in their health care costs--and for just 1 year, a 1-year increase.
  Residents in my State of South Dakota are also facing huge rate 
hikes. A 40-year-old nonsmoker in South Dakota faces a whopping 36-
percent rate hike for a silver plan in 2017--36 percent in my State of 
South Dakota. I have to tell you that is simply not affordable for most 
South Dakotans.
  What are consumers getting in exchange for their premium hikes? Too 
often the answer seems to be not much. For starters, many customers who 
are already paying massive premiums face thousands of dollars in 
deductibles on top of that--before their coverage even kicks in.
  Then there are the increasingly narrow networks of doctors and 
hospitals on the exchanges. As the Wall Street Journal reported 
recently: ``Under intense pressure to curb costs that have led to 
losses on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, insurers are accelerating 
their move toward plans that offer limited choices of doctors and 
  The days of the President's ``if you like your doctor, you can keep 
your doctor'' promise are long gone. Nowadays you have not only lost 
your doctor, you may have very few options to replace them. Of course, 
all of this is assuming you still have your health care plan.
  Countless Americans this year are once again discovering the 
hollowness of the President's ``if you like your health care plan, you 
can keep it'' promise. Because the other side of the story is that 
insurers are dropping out of the exchanges in droves.
  In August, insurance giant Aetna announced it is pulling out of 11 of 
the 15 States where it offers plans on the exchanges. Meanwhile, Humana 
is exiting several exchanges, while megainsurer UnitedHealthcare is 
pulling out of a whopping 31 States. What does this mean for consumers? 
Well, for many people it means they have lost their health care plan 
and their insurance company and that they may have very few options for 
replacing them. The President promised that choosing a health insurance 
plan would be like buying a TV on Amazon. For many people nowadays, 
going on healthcare.gov is akin to choosing a TV on Amazon if Amazon 
only offered one or two TVs.
  According to a report released in August, one-third of the country 
may have just one insurer to pick from on the exchanges for next year. 
Well, if you don't like that insurance company, apparently it is your 
tough luck.
  One county in Arizona may actually have no insurers from which to 
choose, not a single one. It is abundantly clear ObamaCare is failing 
American families, and even Democrats are starting to indicate they 
realize the current situation can't continue. Of course, Democrats' 
answers rarely involve going back to the drawing board to consider a 
better solution. Instead, Democrats generally offer proposals that 
involve throwing good money after bad. Democrats claim that more 
government is the solution. Throw more taxpayer money at the problem or 
let the government run all of health care--all health care plans to be 
government run. That is what we are starting to hear.
  Of course, maybe government-run health care for all was the plan all 
along, but would you trust the Federal Government to run your health 
care plan after seeing how it is doing with ObamaCare? Then, of course, 
there is the administration's solution, what the New York Times calls 
``a major push to enroll new participants in public marketplaces.''
  Previous recent pushes have been of limited effectiveness. Enrollment 
in the exchanges currently stands at roughly 12 million, just over half 
of what was projected to be at this point in the law's implementation, 
but leaving that aside, the administration is unlikely to have a lot of 
success with a new enrollment push because it is abundantly clear it is 
pushing a broken program.
  How does the administration think it is going to make high premiums, 
high deductibles, and limited choices look attractive to Americans? If 
I were the administration, I wouldn't hold out too much hope for an 
advertising campaign coming to the rescue. If we wanted to coin a 
phrase to describe the Obama Presidency, it might be the ``Presidency 
of diminished expectations.'' This, after all, is the Presidency in 
which Americans started to doubt the cornerstone of the American dream, 
something we all grew up with, that their children will have a better 
life than they do.
  It is the Presidency in which we were asked to start looking at weak 
economic growth--as I mentioned, a little

[[Page S5309]]

more than 1 percent in the last quarter and 1 percent in the quarter 
before that--weak economic growth as the new normal. This is good 
enough. Obviously, it is the Presidency in which we were asked to look 
at a future of high premiums and few choices as the new standard for 
health care.
  I don't believe or think for a minute we need to resign ourselves to 
the diminished expectations of the Obama Presidency. We don't have to 
be stuck in the Obama economy for the long term, and ObamaCare doesn't 
have to be our health care future.
  ObamaCare's goals of affordable, quality care were noble goals, but 
this law has utterly failed as a way of getting us there. We need to 
start over. We need to lift the burden ObamaCare has placed on American 
families. We need to replace this law with health care reform that will 
actually drive down costs and increase access to care. I have to say, 
Republicans have a lot of ideas to bring to the table, we are ready to 
start working on a new solution, and I hope Democrats and the new 
President will join us.
  The American people have been stuck with ObamaCare for long enough.

                           Zika Virus Funding

  Mr. President, I wish to take a moment to talk about one other health 
care issue; that is, Federal funding to combat the Zika virus.
  Democrats blocked $1.1 billion in Zika funding for the third time 
this week, despite the fact that every single Democrat in the Senate 
supported the exact same level of funding this spring. That is right. 
Every single Senate Democrat supported this exact level of funding this 
spring. Republicans were all ready to pass a final version of the bill 
and get this funding into the hands of the people fighting the virus, 
and then Senate Democrats changed their minds. They have offered a lot 
of different excuses. The Zika bill attacks women's health care, they 
claim, despite the fact that the bill actually increases women's access 
to care.
  It threatens clean water protections, they say, despite the fact that 
the bill lifts just a handful of redundant regulations for a brief 
period of 180 days so mosquitoes can be sprayed--to kill the mosquitoes 
that are carrying the virus. They also claim to dislike the way the 
bill is paid for, despite the fact that the majority of the money used 
to fund the bill has been sitting around unused.
  Either Democrats are so beholden to special interest groups that they 
cannot make decisions for themselves or they cannot take yes for an 
answer. The Zika funding bill provides expanded funding for community 
health centers, public health departments, and hospitals. The bill 
funds research into a Zika vaccine. It funds research into Zika 
treatments, and it streamlines mosquito control efforts, as the best 
way to protect people is to make sure they don't get bitten in the 
first place.
  The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead 
government agency for fighting diseases, has said $1.1 billion--the 
exact amount we are talking about--will take care of immediate Zika 
  So the question is, What are the Democrats waiting for? The number of 
Zika cases in the United States is rapidly increasing. More than 2,700 
people within the continental United States are infected and many more 
in the territories. Democrats have talked and talked about the 
importance of addressing this crisis. Yet they just rejected their 
third opportunity to act.
  How big does this problem have to get before Democrats decide to stop 
playing politics with the Zika funding? I hope they will act soon, work 
with us, and answer the calls and demands we are getting from the 
American people to provide a solution to this problem.
  I yield the floor.
  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. CASSIDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Louisiana Flooding

  Mr. CASSIDY. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the thousand-year 
flood that hit my State of Louisiana a few weeks ago. It is not named, 
so we call it the Great Flood of 2016, in which 13 people lost their 
lives and $8.7 billion in damage occurred in just a few days.
  As an example of the enormity, here are the power outages that 
followed the flooding. This is baseline before the flood. The lights 
went out, and all of this reflects homes substantially flooded. There 
is no substitute for witnessing the aftermath of the disaster yourself, 
but I will try to paint a picture of the damage of this terrible event 
and the situation from which my constituents are currently trying to 
  Again, it was an unprecedented weather event. The National Weather 
Service deemed it a once-in-a-thousand-year event. There was no way to 
prepare. It was not as if there was a storm system off the coast of 
Africa that was proceeding across the Atlantic Ocean. Less than a 
quarter of the population had flood insurance and not because they were 
supposed to and didn't. Most weren't supposed to because it wasn't 
supposed to flood, and they were not required to have flood insurance. 
Again, the flooding occurred in areas more than 50 feet above sea level 
where folks were told they were not in a flood zone or were at low 
risk. That is one example.
  Thursday afternoon, residents were warned of a possible flash flood 
from a weather system moving into the area, but even the National 
Hurricane Center had no expectation of how devastating the storm would 
be. It was missing key cyclone characteristics, and these parishes, 
never having been hit by a flood such as this, felt all was well. The 
first parishes to be hit by flooding had no time to evacuate or 
  In just the first 2 days, as much as 2 feet of rain fell in South 
Louisiana. This record rainfall statistically had a 0.1-percent chance 
of occurring; thus, it is described as a thousand-year weather event. 
Again, this is baseline--grass, trees, roads. This is the same street. 
All that brown is water.
  In parts of Livingston Parish, within 15 hours, 31 inches of rain 
fell. By the end of the third day, Baton Rouge, the capital city, had 
19.14 inches of rain; Denham Springs, within Livingston Parish, had 
about 25 inches of rain; Watson, LA, saw over 31 inches of rain.
  We received more than three times the rain that Louisiana saw from 
Hurricane Katrina. The recordbreaking rainfall led to recordbreaking 
river crest. For example, the National Weather Service recorded the 
Amite River's height at 46.2 feet--5 feet higher than the previous 
  Again, this is all pretty apparent. This is baseline where you have 
dry land with some lakes in between and now that is water. This would 
be the river, and the river bleeds out into the surrounding land. The 
Comite River was at 34 feet--4 feet higher than the previous record. As 
water poured out of these overflowing river systems, currents were so 
strong that 14 stream gauges, used to measure the height and current of 
the river, were broken.
  When the rain ended, 13 were dead: William Mayfield, Linda Bishop, 
Brett Broussard, William Borne, Richard James, Samuel Muse, Kenneth 
Slocum, Earrol Lewis, Stacy Ruffin, Alexandra Budde, Ordatha Hoggatt, 
and two others who have not been identified.
  Many were swept out into the current of the water. Most were caught 
completely off guard by the speed at which the flooding occurred. These 
parishes are more than 50 feet above sea level, and they were not 
prepared. The majority of the 20 parishes that were declared Federal 
disaster areas were considered low risk for flooding. In Louisiana, 
only about 12 percent of homeowners living in low-risk areas have flood 
insurance. FEMA has already documented over 60,000 homes that were 
significantly damaged. The number is expected to increase to more than 
110,000 homes. Less than 20,000 of those families and individuals had 
flood insurance.
  This is debris piled up in front of homes. After 3 days of heavy 
rain, 20 parishes--one-third of the State--were declared Federal 
disaster areas. Among these, East Baton Rouge had 35 percent of its 
homes and businesses damaged. Ascension and Livingston Parishes had 
about 90 percent of their homes significantly damaged or declared a 
total loss.
  You walk the streets, and entire lives are lined up by the curb. 
Imagine almost 100,000 people having to start from scratch. Imagine 
right now owning only the clothes on your back and

[[Page S5310]]

a waterlogged home, which may cost more to repair than you can hope to 
repay. It is fair to say that this region is in crisis.
  A significant portion of our State's population has lost everything. 
In many cities, thousands had to be rescued by boat or airlifted--
taking nothing with them and forced to leave everything behind.
  The good news is our community is strong. Neighbors are helping 
neighbors slowly put pieces back together, but there are challenges 
repairing infrastructure, sending kids to school, and disposing of 
large amounts of debris.
  Aside from that, we are still in hurricane season. We don't know what 
might come next, but another storm hitting Louisiana before recovery is 
complete would be devastating.
  Right now my office is working in tandem with the entire Louisiana 
congressional delegation and our Governor on securing expedited 
authorization and funding to build the Comite River Diversion and other 
mitigation projects to keep this from happening again. This is critical 
for rebuilding and preventing this level of damage from occurring with 
future storms. Remembering that our State has experienced severe 
flooding in 36 parishes in less than 6 months, our delegation is 
requesting a 90-percent to 10-percent cost share between FEMA and the 
State of Louisiana. We are also asking for supplemental appropriations 
of disaster recovery community development block grant funds to help 
with the long-term recovery.
  Louisianans will work tirelessly, as we have for weeks, to rebuild. 
We are so lucky that we have had volunteers from out of the State come 
to help. Hopefully today, by increasing the awareness of this disaster, 
more people are encouraged to volunteer and donate in order to help 
fellow Americans recover.
  Mr. President, I yield back.
  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. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Ernst). Without objection, it is so