WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 2016--MOTION TO PROCEED--Continued; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 134
(Senate - September 07, 2016)

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[Pages S5310-S5324]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.


  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise to speak once again on the failures 
of the so-called Affordable Care Act and what they mean for hard-
working families and taxpayers.
  This is far from the first time I have come to the floor to talk 
about ObamaCare. Indeed, over the past several years, I don't think I 
have spoken as often about any other topic, and I am not alone. Since 
the time the Democrats forced the Affordable Care Act through Congress 
on a series of pure party-line votes, my Republican colleagues and I 
have been speaking about the poor judgment and shortsightedness that 
has unfortunately defined the trajectory of this law from its drafting 
to its passage and now well into its implementation. Quite frankly, we 
have had plenty of ammunition. It seems like we are treated to at least 
one new ObamaCare horror story every week.
  My friends on the other side of the aisle have done their best to 
downplay our criticisms and minimize every negative story written about 
the problems with ObamaCare. In fact, just this morning the Senate 
minority leader came to the floor and pronounced the Affordable Care 
Act a success, but the American people have long recognized the truth: 
ObamaCare isn't working and it never will. This isn't a matter of 
opinion. This is not just political rhetoric in an election year. By 
its own standards--and the standards of those who drafted, passed, and 
implemented the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare has been a historic 
  Case in point, the American people were promised that ObamaCare would 
bring down health costs, but in reality costs are continuing to go up. 
Over this summer, as we moved ever closer to the next open enrollment 
period for the ObamaCare insurance exchanges, we have learned that 
insurers throughout the country have submitted requests to raise 
premiums by an average of 18 to 23 percent over last year's premiums. 
For some plans, the requested rate hikes are significantly higher than 
that average, coming in at more than 60 percent according to some 
recent reports.
  Consider the following expected rate increases. In California, 
policyholders can expect a 13-percent average increase in premiums, 
which more than triples the increases seen in the past 2 years. In 
Florida, they can expect a rate increase over 19 percent on average 
over this year. In Nebraska, they can expect an average increase of 35 
percent, with some rates increasing by nearly 50 percent. In Wisconsin, 
rates are expected to increase on average by as much as 30 percent. 
These numbers are more staggering when you consider that when the law 
was passed, the Congressional Budget Office projected rate increases of 
only 8 percent at this point.
  By some estimates, premiums for silver plans--the standard metric--
are expected to increase 11 percent, more than they have at any point 
since ObamaCare was implemented.
  While some of my colleagues have claimed that the evidence of massive 
premium increases is mostly anecdotal and that tax credits help blunt 
the overall cost increase, they simply cannot ignore the facts. 
Premiums in the ObamaCare insurance exchanges are going up in markets 
throughout the country, and according to CBO, the Congressional Budget 
Office, 12 million individuals are estimated to have to pay the full 
price next year because they either are not eligible for credits or 
they would choose to purchase coverage outside the ObamaCare exchanges. 
What is more, the middle class is increasingly bearing the brunt of 
these increased costs.
  As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, middle-class families 
are spending 25 percent more on health care costs, which reduces their 
spending on other necessities. David Cutler, the health care economist 
from Harvard, is quoted in the article as saying, when it comes to 
health care, it is `` `a story of three Americas.' One group, the rich, 
can afford health care easily. The poor can access public assistance. 
But for lower middle to middle-income Americans, `the income struggles 
and the health-care struggles together are a really potent issue.' ''
  Our focus should no longer be on the question of whether premiums are 
going up. We should instead be trying to figure out why it is 
happening. In the end, there are a lot of reasons why Americans are 
paying more for health insurance under a new system that was supposed 
to help them pay less, but the overall explanation is actually pretty 
simple: The President's health care law was poorly designed, and they 
know it.
  Recall when my friends were drafting and passing the Affordable Care 
Act, they claimed that the system they were putting in place--complete 
with higher taxes, burdensome mandates, and draconian regulations--
would entice more people into the health insurance market. With the 
larger pool of insured individuals, my colleagues on the other side of 
the aisle argued that insurers would be able to keep pace with all the 
new requirements imposed under the law without passing costs on to 
patients. We now know that these projections were, to put it nicely, 
foolhardy. From the outset, enrollment in the ObamaCare exchanges has 
lagged behind the rosy projections we saw when the law was passed. As 
time has worn on, more and more people have opted to pay the fines 
rather than purchase health care on the exchanges.
  In February 2013, CBO projected that more than 24 million people 
would be enrolled in the exchanges. As of this

[[Page S5311]]

past March, the actual number was less than half of that number.
  My colleagues, in their desperate attempts to defend the health care 
law, tend to focus solely on the number of uninsured people in the 
United States--a number that has, admittedly, gone down in recent 
years. However, what they tend to leave out is the fact that the vast 
majority of newly insured people under the law haven't purchased 
insurance through the exchanges. They have enrolled in Medicaid, a 
fiscally unsound program that provides less than optimal coverage 
options for patients. In fact, there are over 30 million people without 
insurance, which was the reason we enacted the law--or at least that 
was the argument. Today there are at least 30 million people without 
  The Washington Post recently ran an article on the enrollment 
shortfalls in the exchanges, plainly spelling out the issues. They 

       Debate over how perilous the predicament is for the 
     Affordable Care Act, commonly called ObamaCare, is nearly as 
     partisan as the divide over the law itself. But at the root 
     of the problem is this: The success of the law depends 
     fundamentally on the exchanges being profitable for insurers, 
     and that requires more people to sign up.

  Long story short, people are not signing up on the exchanges in the 
numbers that were promised. As a result, health insurance plans have 
been forced to adhere to the law's burdensome mandates and regulations 
without the benefit of an expanded and healthier risk pool. So as we 
have seen in recent months, plans in many of the exchanges have 
reported massive losses, leading a number of major insurers in 
important markets throughout the country to terminate their plans 
altogether. The result: patients and consumers are being left with 
fewer and fewer options.
  According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 
one out of every three counties in the United States is likely to have 
only one health insurance option available on the exchanges in 2017. 
Another third of U.S. counties will only have two options available. 
Thus, what had been approximately 35 percent of the counties with two 
or less options on the exchanges is likely to double to around 67 
  Furthermore, more than 2 million individuals are expected to have to 
change plans for 2017 as a result of insurers leaving States, which is 
nearly double compared to those who had switched carriers at the end of 
last year.
  You don't need a Ph.D. in economics to know that, generally speaking, 
fewer options means higher costs for consumers and lower quality 
products being offered. That is exactly what the American people are 
dealing with when it comes to health insurance. This includes people 
from my home State of Utah. For example, one of my constituents, Mr. 
Chris Secrist, wrote to me. He said:

       Since the new health care law was forced on us my premiums 
     along with my deductibles have skyrocketed. With my premium, 
     deductible, and ``out of pocket'' expense . . . my total out 
     of pocket expense for insurance now tops $20,000 per year . . 
     . can anyone . . . explain how this can be considered 
     ``affordable health care''?

  Over the August recess, I met with the Utah board of directors of the 
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and there I heard from many Utahns about 
the skyrocketing cost of care over the past 3 years. These constituents 
repeatedly emphasized that they had initially hoped ObamaCare would 
help them, but in their experience, it had only made things worse and 
much more expensive.
  The downward spiral of ObamaCare is a circle that cannot be broken 
without some kind of intervention. While there are a number of ideas 
out there to address these problems, there are really only two major 
paths we can take. We can enact reforms that are patient-centered and 
market-driven or we can expand the role of government in regulating, 
mandating and, in the end, paying for more and more of our health care 
  Republicans in Congress, myself included, have proposed plans that 
would take us down the first path toward more patient-centered reforms. 
My friends on the other side, when they are not doubling down on the 
status quo under ObamaCare, are advocating for even more government 
involvement. Case in point, the Democrat's nominee for President has 
outlined a number of ``reforms'' she would like to add to the 
``progress we've made'' under ObamaCare. Each of her proposals amounts 
to an expanded role for the Federal Government, including the renewed 
idea of the so-called ``public option'' or a government-run plan.
  In other words, in this election season, the Democrats' answer to the 
failure of ObamaCare is more government control of our health care 
  It is funny, beginning in 2009, when the health care law was being 
finalized, I argued that Democrats intended to keep expanding the role 
of the Federal Government in health care to the point where they could 
argue that the only workable option after a series of failures would be 
to create a single-payer health care system; in other words, socialized 
  Some pundits and even my colleagues declared that I was paranoid, 
that I was trying to scare people into opposing ObamaCare. Yet 7 years 
later, those claims look relatively prescient, if I do say so myself.
  Faced with the failure of ObamaCare to live up to its many promises, 
my colleagues are not arguing for a change in direction. Instead, they 
are clamoring for more authority to dictate the terms of what had been 
a private health care marketplace before. In a world where the 
government dictates both the products on the market and the prices at 
which they are sold, the eventual result is a marketplace in which the 
government is the only available provider. In other words, while many 
of my friends on the other side will deny they want to create a single-
payer or socialized medicine health care system in the United States, 
that is the direction they have us headed.
  Fortunately, the march toward a single-payer system is not a fait 
accompli. We can take action to right this ship now. We can control 
costs. We can take government out of the equation and give patients and 
consumers more choices. Of course, to get there, more of my colleagues 
on the other side will have to acknowledge the failures of the current 
approach and agree on the need to plot a new course.
  Perhaps once the upcoming election is over, we can begin to make 
progress on these issues. It is my hope that with the current 
administration in the rearview mirror, people will be more willing to 
acknowledge the failures of the ObamaCare status quo. I recognize that 
the coming election may embolden those who support even more rigorous 
government involvement in the health care sector to try to take us 
further down the path of a single-payer system. If that is the case, we 
are looking at an even more contentious environment than the one we are 
in now.
  Don't get me wrong. I want to see more bipartisanship around here. I 
want us to find more opportunities to work together and get past the 
blind partisanship that currently fuels so much of what we do here and 
that caused 100 percent of the Democrats and not one Republican in 
either House to support ObamaCare. But make no mistake, if the next 
administration or the next Congress tries to take us further down that 
path, they are going to have a heck of a fight on their hands. It is a 
fight that I personally am prepared to win so that we can eventually 
have a health care system that works for everyone.

  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.
  Ms. HEITKAMP. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

             Unanimous Consent Requests--Executive Calendar

  Ms. HEITKAMP. Mr. President, I come to the floor today after spending 
the last 7 weeks traveling the beautiful State of North Dakota and 
working with communities on issues that matter the most to them, 
whether it is agriculture, opioid abuse--any number of issues involving 
urban and rural housing. But one common message occurs at every stop: 
Why can't Congress get its job done? Why aren't you doing what you are 
supposed to be doing?
  So the people of North Dakota and I think the people of this country 
have a simple message: They want us to do

[[Page S5312]]

our job. They are sick and tired of politics getting in the way of work 
getting done, and they don't understand why even the most basic issues, 
the most simple issues, issues where there are vast majorities that 
support them, get hung up in partisan politics.
  That got me thinking about three numbers that really sum up the 
inability of my friends in the majority to do their job. Those numbers 
are 90, 175, and 20.
  Let's start with 90. Ninety is the current number of judicial 
vacancies across our various Federal courts in the United States. 
Thirty-two of those vacancies have been deemed judicial emergencies. 
That means that justice is being severely delayed in those 
jurisdictions. Every day, Americans and American businesses have to sit 
and wait for resolution and certainty when we are capable of getting 
the job done, when we actually believe we have qualified nominees ready 
to take the bench and hear those cases.
  The majority has brought to the floor and confirmed only 20 circuit 
and district court judges during this Congress--20. How does that 
compare? Well, if you look at the last 2 years of the George W. Bush 
Presidency, the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was then chaired by 
Senator Leahy, actually approved nearly three times as many. In fact, 
68 judges were approved during that time period--68 judges compared to 
20. Last year the majority matched the record for confirming the fewest 
number of judicial nominees in more than half a century. That is just 
11 nominees for the entire year.
  These are not records that any of us should be proud of, not when we 
hear from judges, lawyers, and our constituents about the backlog of 
cases in the Federal courts and around this country.
  Right now, 31 nominees still have yet to either have a hearing or a 
vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Some of these nominees have put 
their lives on hold and are ready to serve their country in some of the 
highest positions a lawyer can hope to achieve. They are putting their 
lives on hold and delaying their economic viability, waiting to find 
  That leads me to the second number. The second number is 175. That is 
the number of days since the President nominated Merrick Garland to the 
U.S. Supreme Court. My friends in the majority will come down and claim 
they absolutely could not give him a hearing because of something 
called the Biden rule--something which I have never voted on and which 
I did not know existed. I went looking in the rule book to try to find 
out where this Biden rule exists, and I have yet to track it down. But 
I do know that when we talk about statements on the floor attributed to 
then-Senator Joe Biden and now-Vice President Joe Biden, we ought to 
look at not what he said but what he did when he chaired the all-
important Senate Judiciary Committee. So when we look at this from the 
lens of actions speaking louder than words and if we look at what Joe 
Biden was able to accomplish when he chaired the committee, he gave a 
hearing to every single nominee who came before him, whether that 
nominee was nominated by a Democratic President or a Republican 
  That brings me to my last number, which should be the easiest of all 
to address. That number is 20. Twenty is the number of circuit and 
district court judges who have had a hearing, who have been reported 
out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan basis--in fact, 
18 of them were unanimous--but they are still awaiting an up-or-down 
vote in the Senate.
  I think it is unusual that I should even have to come to the floor to 
explain how ridiculous this is. These nominees are all 
noncontroversial. They are noncontroversial enough to have received a 
hearing and been voted out of the committee with Republican and 
Democratic support. That means the majority of the committee that we 
charge with fully vetting these nominees found all of the nominees 
qualified to serve a lifetime appointment on the Federal district court 
bench. Well, 12 were nominated over 300 days ago and 6 others were 
nominated over 200 days ago, and still they wait. Several of these 
judges were nominated and have the support of both their home State 
Democratic and Republican Senators. Several of these judges were 
nominated by and have the support of all of their Senators. It is just 
unheard of that they should have to wait, given that we have gone 
through the process.
  One of those nominees I want to particularly point out is a woman by 
the name of Jennifer Puhl. Jennifer Puhl is from Devils Lake. Her 
family is a huge and important part of the community there. Her dad 
runs a small business, a plumbing business, and she worked her way up 
through the ranks and currently serves as an assistant U.S. attorney in 
North Dakota. She was appointed by a Democratic President, but she 
served initially and received her initial appointment as an assistant 
U.S. attorney from a Republican appointee. She is highly qualified and 
completely noncontroversial; yet she waits and yet the Eighth Circuit 
waits for another person to sit on the bench and carry the load of that 
important circuit court.
  So I think it is time to do our job. I think it is time to move these 
20 nominees and to get the court fully functioning.
  I make this point because when we look at the role Congress plays in 
the judiciary, we have a very significant role, given lifetime 
appointments, that we would, in fact, provide advice and consent. But 
beyond that, the judiciary is an incredibly important part of our 
checks and balances. When we don't have a functioning judiciary, we do 
not have a functioning democracy. I think it is very important that we 
look at this in the light of our responsibility to make sure these 
three branches of government are fully functioning and doing their job 
and able to do their job because we have people in place.
  So I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to executive 
session to consider the following nominations: Calendar Nos. 359, 362, 
363, 364, 459, 460, 461, 508, 569, 570, 571, 572, 573, 597, 598, 599, 
600, 687, 688, and 689; that the Senate proceed to vote without 
intervening action or debate on the nominees in the order listed; that 
the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table 
with no intervening action or debate; that no further motions be in 
order to the nomination; that any related statements be printed in the 
Record; that the President be immediately notified of the Senate's 
action and the Senate then resume legislative session.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, the 
Senate has treated President Obama very fairly with respect to his 
judicial nominations. By comparison, at this point in President Bush's 
Presidency, the Senate had confirmed 316 of his judicial nominations--
316. As of now, the Senate has already confirmed 329 of President 
Obama's judicial nominees. In fact, the Senate has already confirmed 
more of President Obama's judicial nominees than it did during the 
entirety--the entirety--of President Bush's 8 years in office.
  So at this point I am going to object to the request, but I am 
prepared to enter into an agreement to process a bipartisan package of 
four more judicial nominations that would include a California judicial 
nomination, two Pennsylvania judicial nominations, and a Utah judicial 
nomination. This would presumably be agreeable to the senior Senator 
from California, the junior Senator from California, and to the senior 
Senator from Pennsylvania, along with the junior Senator from 
Pennsylvania and both Utah Senators.
  So I am going to ask the Senator from North Dakota to modify her 
request as follows: Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
Senate proceed to executive session to consider individually the 
following nominations, at a time to be determined by the majority 
leader in consultation with the Democratic leader: Calendar Nos. 364, 
460, 461, and 569; that there be 30 minutes for debate only on each 
nomination, equally divided in the usual form; that upon the use or 
yielding back of time on the respective nomination, the Senate proceed 
to vote, without intervening action or debate, on the nomination.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, as the 

[[Page S5313]]

Senator from New Jersey, this is difficult for me because one of the 
judges the Republican leader is suggesting be skipped is the judge who 
has been waiting for the longest time. Judge Julien Neals has been 
waiting since February of 2015. He is someone who came out of the 
committee with bipartisan support and someone who has deep 
qualifications. In addition to this, he is suggesting that we skip 
another judge named Ed Stanton, who is the U.S. attorney for the 
Western District of Tennessee.
  I bring out those two judges who are next on the list. They are the 
two longest waiting judges for the district court--one from May and one 
from February. I single those two out not just because one of them is 
from New Jersey but, if you look at the list of the next 15 judges, 
these are the only two African Americans on the list. The two longest 
waiting district court judges and the only two African Americans are 
the two who are being singled out, among others, to be skipped over in 
what the Republican leader is suggesting.
  I know that for my colleagues in the Republican Party this is not a 
conscious thing. I know this is a coincidence and that it is not 
intentional that the two longest waiting judges--the only two African-
American judges on this list of 15--are being skipped over, but I do 
feel it is necessary to point out this fact. At a time when this Nation 
is looking at this judicial system as needing to confront judicial 
bias, at a time when judicial organizations of all backgrounds are 
pointing out the need for diversity on the Federal court, what is being 
suggested right now is that we come up with a bargain to skip over the 
two longest waiting district court judges, who happen to be the only 
two African Americans on the list of the next 15. That, to me, is 
unacceptable, especially when you look at the qualifications of these 
two judges and especially if you look at their wide bipartisan support 
within the Judiciary Committee. The perception alone should be 
problematic to all of us in this body.
  So I would like to object to this offer, especially given the 
tensions that exist right now in our country, the urgency for diversity 
on the bench, and the clear qualifications of these men, and, finally, 
the fact that they have been waiting since May and February of 2015.
  Thank you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection to the request of the 
majority leader?
  Mr. BOOKER. Yes, there is objection. I object to the modification.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Is there objection to the request of the Senator from North Dakota?
  Mr. McCONNELL. I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. President, before I returned home for the August 
recess, I came to the floor to call on the Senate to take up pending 
judicial nominations. Once again, today I join my colleagues in calling 
for action on the crisis that is facing our Federal courts.
  We had an unusually long recess--what is called the August recess, 
but it actually started in mid-July. We have a brief period of time 
when we are back in session before we are about to have yet another 
recess prior to the elections. I understand the Senate has been in 
session fewer days than the Senate has been in session in some 
decades--60 years.
  I feel it necessary that we step up and deal with this crisis in the 
Federal courts and do our jobs. I call on my colleagues in the majority 
to do our jobs.
  The obstruction that we have seen with regard to filling judicial 
vacancies is harming our Federal courts and our Nation, our economy, 
and individuals who come before those courts to seek justice.
  In this current Congress, only 22 judges have been confirmed by the 
Senate. As we have discussed today, we currently have 90 vacancies on 
the Federal courts. Thirty-two--one-third--have been declared judicial 
emergencies. Yet before the Senate right now, we have Presidential 
nominees for these vacancies--27 in number--that are available for our 
consideration. Each of those names has garnered a bipartisan majority 
from the Judiciary Committee. A bipartisan majority has supported those 
Presidential nominees. Each and every one of them deserve a vote in the 
full Senate. The American people fully deserve a functioning Federal 
judiciary--whether the Supreme Court, our circuit courts, or the 
district courts.
  From my home State of Wisconsin, we have a longstanding vacancy on 
the Seventh Circuit Court. This longstanding vacancy is absolutely 
unacceptable. This traditional Wisconsin seat on the Seventh Circuit 
Court has been vacant for more than 6 years. This is the longest 
Federal circuit court vacancy in the country. Today marks the 2,435th 
day--that is 6 years and 8 months--of this vacancy. The people of 
Wisconsin and our neighbors in Illinois and Indiana deserve a fully 
functioning court of appeals.
  During this long vacancy, the Seventh Circuit has been considering 
issues that face people of our State as well as our country. These 
issues include women's health, labor rights, campaign finance, marriage 
equality, and, most recently, voting rights. These are important 
issues, and the people of Wisconsin deserve better than an empty seat 
when judgments are being made on such consequential issues.
  We have a highly qualified nominee for this seat. Don Schott was 
nominated by the President on January 12. He has strong bipartisan 
support. Both Senator Johnson and I have returned our blue slips, a 
part of the process to advance one of these nominees. A bipartisan 
majority of the Wisconsin judicial nominating commission recommended 
and supported his consideration by the President.
  Don Schott also received the support of a bipartisan majority of the 
Senate Judiciary Committee when they voted to advance his nomination. 
Don Schott is very well qualified. He has the experience and the 
temperament to be an outstanding Federal court judge on the circuit 
court, and his nomination deserves a vote. The people of the State of 
Wisconsin deserve to have this traditionally Wisconsin seat filled.
  Nine judicial nominees who have been previously approved by the 
Senate Judiciary Committee prior to Don Schott still haven't had their 
up-or-down vote either by the Senate, and they deserve it. As is the 
tradition of this body, we vote on these nominees in the order they 
appear in the Executive Calendar. As such, I will request that the 
Senate Republican leader schedule votes on each of these nominees, as 
well as on Don Schott.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to 
executive session to consider the following nominations: Calendar Nos. 
359, 362, 363, 364, 459, 460, 461, 508, 569, 570, 571, 572, 573, and 
597; that the Senate proceed to vote, without intervening action or 
debate, on the nominations in the order listed; that the motions to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no 
intervening action or debate; that no further motions be in order to 
the nominations; that any related statements be printed in the Record; 
that the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action and 
the Senate then resume legislative session.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I have 
already pointed out that President Obama has already had more judges 
confirmed than President Bush in his entire 8 years.
  I offered a counter UC that would confirm four of the judges. I will 
not repeat the modification that I offered earlier.
  Therefore, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Toomey). Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Hawaii.
  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, there are currently 27 pending nominations 
on the Executive Calendar and 90 total judicial vacancies. More than 
half of these nominations have been waiting since 2015 for a 
confirmation vote.
  Hawaii's own Clare Connors was nominated to the Federal bench 1 year 
ago tomorrow. She is one of the nominees who would be skipped under the 
Republican leader's compromise offer, which is not a fair offer any way 
you look at it. Claire's resume is extensive and impressive.

[[Page S5314]]

  In her time as a U.S. assistant attorney, Clare prosecuted Hawaii's 
most extensive mortgage fraud case. The case involved 15 criminals who 
were making it harder for Hawaii's families to obtain mortgages. This 
is only one example of Clare's nonpartisan commitment to public 
  During her career, Clare has worked for Attorney General John 
Ashcroft and Attorney General Eric Holder. She is impartial, she is 
qualified, and she deserves a vote.
  If Clare is not confirmed, the Hawaii district court seat would be 
left vacant for over a year. People who appear before our courts don't 
want to know or care if their judge is a Democrat or a Republican. They 
just want to know that when they get their day in court, there will be 
a competent and qualified judge sitting there. This goes double, of 
course, for the highest Court in the land, the Supreme Court, which, 
because of an unfilled vacancy, has resulted in a number of 4-to-4 
votes. That is not how the U.S. Supreme Court should operate. We need 
to do our jobs.

  Mr. President, I rise today, therefore, and ask unanimous consent 
that the Senate proceed to executive session to consider the following 
nominations: Calendar Nos. 359, 362, 363, 364, 459, 460, 461, 508, 569, 
570, 571, 572, 573; that the Senate proceed to vote without intervening 
action or debate on the nominations in the order listed; that the 
motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with 
no intervening action or debate; that no further motions be in order to 
the nominations; that any related statements be printed in the Record; 
that the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action and 
the Senate then resume legislative session.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I 
previously stated on two occasions that President Obama has already 
gotten 13 more judges confirmed than President Bush in all of his 8 
years as President. I offered a counter consent that was objected to 
that would have confirmed a district judge in California, two district 
judges in Pennsylvania, and a district judge in Utah. That was objected 
to, so I will spare the Senate the counter UC I offered earlier because 
I know it will be objected to. But with regard to the consent that has 
just been requested, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, Republicans who control the Senate are 
setting new records for obstruction by slowing the pace of judicial 
nominations to a crawl and leaving courts across this Nation 
overburdened and understaffed.
  I have listened as Senator McConnell has asserted that he is acting 
fairly on judges because more Obama judges have been confirmed than 
total George W. Bush judges. Here is my question: What kind of game 
does he think this is? At this point in time during the Bush 
administration, there were 42 judicial vacancies. Today, there are 90. 
At this point during the Bush administration, there were 13 judicial 
emergencies--vacancies in courts that are severely shorthanded and 
overburdened with cases. Today there are 32--more than twice as many 
vacancies, more than twice as many emergencies.
  Senator McConnell says, well, he just doesn't want to do his job, and 
neither do other Republicans. And we all know why. Republican leaders 
in Congress have made it abundantly clear that they want Donald Trump 
to be President so that he can appoint judges who will bend the law to 
suit his own interests and those of his wealthy friends, and if that 
doesn't work, then Republicans will settle for paralyzing the judicial 
system so that it cannot serve anyone at all.
  Judicial nominees stand ready to provide American individuals, 
families, small businesses, and entrepreneurs with the justice they are 
guaranteed by our Constitution. One of those nominees is Inga 
Bernstein, a highly regarded Massachusetts attorney who has spent years 
serving families, teachers, and workers. Ms. Bernstein is not 
controversial. She is supported by both Republicans and Democrats. Give 
Ms. Bernstein her vote. In fact, give these 10 noncontroversial 
nominees their votes.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to 
executive session to consider the following 10 nominations: Calendar 
Nos. 359, 362, 363, 364, 459, 460, 461, 508, 569, 570; that the Senate 
proceed to vote without intervening action or debate on the nominations 
in the order listed; that the motions to reconsider be considered made 
and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate; that no 
further motions be in order to the nominations; that any related 
statements be printed in the Record; that the President be immediately 
notified of the Senate's action and the Senate then resume legislative 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. ALEXANDER. I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, it is disgraceful that Republicans are 
blocking confirmation of these judges. It is even more disgraceful that 
18 additional nominees haven't even had hearings yet, including Merrick 
Garland, who has now waited longer than any Supreme Court nominee in 
the history of the United States to receive a confirmation vote, while 
our highest Court continues to deadlock on issue after issue of 
importance to this Nation.
  All we are asking for is the Senate Republicans to stop playing 
politics and do their job.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, to keep appropriate balance here in the 
Chamber, the Senate has treated President Obama fairly in terms of his 
judicial nominations. As the majority leader has pointed out, by 
comparison, at this point in President Bush's Presidency, the Senate 
had confirmed 316 of his judicial nominations. As of now, the Senate 
has already confirmed 329 of President Obama's judicial nominations. So 
President Obama is ahead of President Bush by that count. In fact, the 
Senate has already confirmed more of President Obama's judicial 
nominees than it did during the entirety of President Bush's 8 years in 
  Senator McConnell offered an agreement to process a bipartisan 
package of four more judicial nominations that would include a 
California judicial nomination, two Pennsylvania judicial nominations, 
and a Utah judicial nomination, but Democrats objected.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, I rise again to continue the plea to move 
forward when it comes to fulfilling the vacancies now pending in our 
courts. I don't know about the Constitution saying anything about a 
tit-for-tat--what one President got another should get--but to me the 
obligation of the Senate is clear, and that is, we have an obligation 
to do our job and to fill vacancies.
  During this Presidency, significantly more vacancies have come up 
because of retirements and other reasons. As we have already heard from 
the Senator from Massachusetts, not only are there double the 
vacancies, but the judicial emergencies being talked about now, which 
have nothing to do with party, are real. Around our country right now, 
there are many districts that are in crisis because of our failure to 
do our job.
  Relying on a tit-for-tat partisan understanding reflected nowhere in 
our Constitution is unacceptable when we are not supporting the proper 
functioning of the judiciary.
  We have nominations on the floor, ones that have passed out of the 
Judiciary Committee in a bipartisan fashion. One of those nominations--
to fill a vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the District of New 
Jersey--is Julien Neals, who is a well-qualified nominee and who has 
had to wait for over 19 months on his nomination--19 months. On this 
list, he is the longest waiting judge. Judge Neals has served as the 
chief judge of Newark Municipal Court, worked in private practice, and 
served his community as corporation counsel and business administrator 
for the city of Newark. The President nominated Judge Neals to the 
Federal bench over a year and a half ago. A hearing was held on his 
nomination in September 2015. The Judiciary Committee favorably 
reported his nomination by voice vote in November of 2015.
  The delay in confirming this nomination is unfair to the people of 
New Jersey, who expect their justice system to

[[Page S5315]]

be working in its full capacity. But we know this isn't just a burden 
for New Jerseyans; States across this country are being forced to 
shoulder the Senate's failure to confirm judges, precipitating a 
massive judicial crisis in our country.
  Continued judicial vacancies means that current Federal judges will 
be overworked and understaffed. Continued judicial vacancies means the 
American people must wait a year or two or longer to receive justice in 
a case. This goes counter to the very ideals we pledge allegiance to, 
this idea of liberty and justice for all. Without judges on the Federal 
bench, justice is denied for the woman who was fired on account of her 
gender. Without judges on the Federal bench, justice is denied for the 
transgender individual who is seeking to access a restroom or other 
public accommodation. Without judges on the Federal bench, justice is 
denied for the criminal defendant who deserves a speedy trial before a 
jury of their peers--fundamental constitutional ideas. The longer the 
Republican leadership delays filling our country's judicial vacancies, 
the longer justice is denied for Americans across our country.
  I ask the Senate to promptly vote on the next two nominees who would 
be up, nominees from Tennessee and New Jersey. The Western District of 
Tennessee nominee, Edward Stanton, is a former U.S. attorney and has 
been pending for over 16 months. It is important for me to point out, 
especially after the suggestion from the Republican leader that we skip 
these first two judges, the longest waiting judges--I know there was no 
intention here, but I think it is important that we point out that in 
the compromise suggested by the majority leader, these are the only 2 
African-American judges in the next 15.
  So here we have two of the longest waiting judges, two qualified 
judges, two judges who passed out of the Judiciary Committee, two 
judges who deserve Senate action and who are also African-American 
judges who can help create diversity on our Federal judiciary so that 
it better reflects our society as a whole.
  Given all of that--the totality of the crisis in our country, the 
urgency that is explicitly addressed in our Constitution that the 
Senate do its job--I now ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed 
to executive session to consider the following nominations: Calendar 
Nos. 359 and 362; further, that the Senate proceed to vote without 
intervening action or debate on the nominations in the order listed and 
that, if confirmed, the motions to reconsider be considered made and 
laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. CASSIDY. On behalf of the leader, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.


  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, the Americans I have talked with are 
tired of ObamaCare rhetoric. They are worried about the ObamaCare 
reality. And what is the reality today? The reality is that ObamaCare 
is unraveling at an alarming rate. There appears to be a very real 
danger that without structural changes there may be entire States with 
no insurer willing to sell plans on their ObamaCare exchanges in 2018.
  We are talking about 10.8 million Americans who buy health insurance 
for themselves or their families on the ObamaCare exchanges created in 
each State as a result of the law passed in 2010. What we are saying is 
there are whole States where these 10.8 million Americans may have no 
options to purchase health care with ObamaCare subsidies. This 
unraveling is happening sooner than anyone thought and will require us 
to act both in the short term and in the long term.
  If we don't take action in the short term, many Americans will have 
fewer options and no relief from skyrocketing premium costs. If we 
don't take action to address the longer term structural failure of 
ObamaCare, we could have a complete collapse of the individual 
insurance market. Again, what we mean is that you may be living in a 
State where you cannot buy health insurance if you rely on an ObamaCare 
  The reality of ObamaCare today is alarming even for those of us who 
have been critical of the law and its thousands of pages of 
regulations. Before ObamaCare even became law, Republicans warned 
President Obama and we warned Democrats in Congress that ObamaCare was 
bad news for Americans.
  In February of 2010, more than 6 years ago, I spoke for Republicans 
at a White House summit on health care and warned President Obama that 
premiums for millions of Americans with individual insurance would rise 
under his proposal. I was right about that. Republicans warned that 
ObamaCare would increase the cost of health care, that people would 
lose their choice of doctors, that policies would be canceled, that 
people would lose jobs, that taxes would go up, and that Medicare 
beneficiaries would be harmed. We were right about all of that. Today 
an alarming number of health care insurance companies are leaving 
ObamaCare exchanges. Americans are being forced to pay much more in 
premiums for the same health plans next year. This might be what 
Republicans predicted, but it is happening even faster than we 
imagined, and no one is happy about being right.
  Unfortunately, I don't need to look any further than my home State of 
Tennessee to see how bad things have become. When Tennesseans woke up 
on August 24 and read the front page of our State's largest newspaper, 
they saw this headline: ``Very Near Collapse.'' The story wasn't about 
a bridge or about a foreign dictatorship. ``Very Near Collapse'' was 
our State insurance commissioner's description of the ObamaCare 
exchange in Tennessee, which more than 230,000 Tennesseans--almost a 
quarter of a million Tennesseans--used to buy health plans last year.
  What does ``Very Near Collapse'' mean in the real world? This 
November, when Tennesseans are signing up for 2017 ObamaCare plans, 
there will be fewer plans to choose from, and they will be much more 
expensive. That is what it means. This picture will be the same for 
many Americans across the country.
  Next year, Tennesseans will be paying intolerable increases--on 
average, between 44 and 62 percent more for their ObamaCare plans than 
they paid last year. Even for a healthy 40-year-old, nonsmoking 
Tennessean with the lowest price silver plan on Tennessee's exchange, 
premiums increased last year to $262 a month. Next year, it is $333 a 
month. And if you, the policyholder, don't pay all of it, then you, the 
taxpayer, will because a large portion of ObamaCare premiums are 
subsidized with tax dollars. Surely, it is not a valid excuse to say 
that just because taxpayers are paying most of the bill, that justifies 
having a failing insurance market where costs are so out of control 
that we may soon have a situation where no insurance company is willing 
to sell insurance on an ObamaCare exchange.
  Tennessee had to take extreme measures to allow these increases 
because insurance companies told the State: If you don't let us file 
for rate increases, we will have to leave. And if that happens, 
Tennesseans might have only one insurer to choose from. That is what is 
happening in States all over the country as ObamaCare plans and rates 
get locked in for next year.
  According to the consulting firm Avalere Health, Americans buying 
insurance in one-third of ObamaCare exchange regions next year may have 
only one exchange to choose from. People buying on ObamaCare exchanges 
will have only one insurer to choose from in the entire State in five 
States next year: Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and 
Wyoming, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The same Kaiser 
Family Foundation report found that a growing number of States that 
have multiple insurers have only one insurer selling policies in a 
majority of counties.
  Tennessee is one of those States. Last year, Tennesseans could choose 
ObamaCare plans between at least two insurers in all 95 counties in the 
State. For the 2017 plan year, next year, it is estimated that 60 
percent of Tennessee's counties will have only one insurer offering 
ObamaCare plans--in other words, no choice.
  North Carolina is also experiencing a dramatic reduction in options 

[[Page S5316]]

ObamaCare. Next year, 90 percent of counties in North Carolina are 
estimated to have only one insurer offering ObamaCare plans, up from 23 
percent of counties last year. A similar picture exists in West 
Virginia, in Utah, South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi, 
Missouri, and Florida.
  Just last week, the Concord Monitor, a newspaper in New Hampshire, 
published an article with this headline: ``Maine health insurance 
cooperative leaves N.H. market, reeling from losses.''
  The story goes on to describe how the Maine-based Community Health 
Options insurance plan will no longer be operating in New Hampshire 
after experiencing over $10 million in losses in the ObamaCare exchange 
over just the first two quarters of this year alone. This move will 
leave 11,581 individuals in the Granite State looking for new health 
  Politico reports that one Arizona county is ``poised to become an 
ObamaCare ghost town''--those are Politico's words--because no insurer 
can afford to sell health plans on the ObamaCare exchange. That leaves 
9,700 people in Pinal, AZ, with no ObamaCare plan options in 2017.
  Millions of Americans need relief from ObamaCare. Here is the action 
that is needed: First, Americans need immediate relief from the cost of 
health insurance and the lack of options on the ObamaCare exchanges. We 
could do that by giving States more flexibility to give individuals and 
their families options to purchase lower cost private health insurance 
plans outside of ObamaCare, and we could do that now. I intend to offer 
legislation that would provide that relief. That is only to deal with 
the emergency of next year.
  Second, we need big, structural change in order to avoid a near 
collapse of our Nation's health insurance market. If there is a 
Republican in the White House next year, we need to repeal ObamaCare 
and replace it with step-by-step reforms that transform the health care 
delivery system by putting patients in charge, giving them more 
choices, and reducing the cost of health care so that more people can 
afford it. But if there is a Democrat in the White House, broad 
systemic, structural changes will still be necessary.
  Republicans didn't create this problem, but we are prepared to solve 
it. Democrats want to spend more taxpayer dollars to prop up the 
exchanges. They want to expand the role of government in your private 
health care decisions.
  In an article last month in the Journal of the American Medical 
Association, here is what President Obama wrote: ``I think Congress 
should revisit a public plan to compete alongside private insurers in 
areas of the country where competition is limited.''
  Of course, the President's proposal means more money and more 
government, but Republicans know and Americans have seen over the last 
6 years that more money and more government are not the solution; they 
are the problem. We saw the problem ahead of time. We warned about it. 
We criticized the poor regulations that made a bad law even worse. Now, 
we are ready to take action. We are ready to do something about this 
emergency--both for next year and for the longer term.
  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.
  Mr. CASSIDY. Mr. President, I rise to speak about ObamaCare and the 
incredibly negative impact it is having on millions of Americans. Let's 
just speak about its impact upon the middle class. There was a recent 
article in the Wall Street Journal, dated August 26, which spoke about 
how ObamaCare is pushing the burden of health care costs to the middle 
class. It speaks about how deductibles have risen 256 percent, but 
wages have only increased 32 percent. It also goes on to say how folks 
are spending 32 percent more on health care, but they are having to cut 
back on groceries, restaurants, entertainment, and clothing. Everything 
else is being cut back as health care consumes more and more.
  ObamaCare was supposed to change health care. The President promised 
that premiums would fall $2,500 per family. The logical question is, 
Why didn't that happen?
  I have a good example. A physician friend I know who happens to be a 
neurologist in Baton Rouge texted me. She had a couple in her office 
who were paying $1,600 a month for insurance. They have a $10,000 
family deductible. They are middle class and don't get a subsidy. Let's 
think about this. They are paying $1,600 a month and have a $10,000 
family deductible. Let's do a little quick math. That is roughly 
$16,000 a year plus $3,200, which comes to $19,200 a year, if my math 
is correct. When we add $10,000 for a deductible--let's say they both 
get in a car wreck and they are taken to the emergency room at the same 
time--they will be out $29,000 before they see a benefit from their 
insurance. They will have to pay $29,000 before they see a benefit from 
ObamaCare which is supposed to hold down costs.
  These are statistics and anecdotes. Let's speak in a different sense. 
Let's speak about premium hikes. Premiums are up 31 percent this year 
in Louisiana, but premium increases are rising as high as 67 percent in 
Arizona. There is a 69-percent premium increase in Tennessee, and that 
is consistent across the Nation.
  As it turns out, there is one county now which doesn't have any 
insurance company providing coverage, but there are many other counties 
in our Nation in which there is only one insurance carrier. I can tell 
you, the less competition you have, the higher costs will go. As this 
continues, competition decreasing--and insurance companies like Aetna, 
Humana, and Blue Cross are pulling out of the exchanges in some 
States--we can expect these premiums to continue to rise.
  The situation we are in is that people are either going to be 
insurance poor or they will be forced to go without insurance. There is 
an incredible irony. The bill which passed, the Affordable Care Act, 
had the stated goal of making health care affordable. It is becoming so 
unaffordable that people are going without insurance. I think this will 
only worsen.
  Up to today, ObamaCare has received $10.5 billion in Federal tax 
dollars as subsidies, and there were a series of co-ops set up. The co-
ops were going to foster competition. As it turns out, 16 out of the 23 
co-ops have gone out of business, health expenditures are on an alltime 
rise, and the subsidies are going away--some of them have been ruled 
illegal by the Federal courts--and so only the beneficiary will be 
paying the premiums. Despite $10.5 billion in subsidies, insurance 
companies have lost $2.7 billion. Again, if these subsidies go away 
because they are illegal, we can expect premiums to rise even more.
  I am a big believer that if you are going to criticize something, you 
should offer an alternative. I would like to point out that this 
Republican and another Republican have offered an alternative. We call 
it the World's Greatest Healthcare Plan. We have kind of a cheeky title 
to draw attention to it, but it is serious legislation. Under the 
World's Greatest Healthcare Plan, we change the paradigm of ObamaCare. 
If under ObamaCare the presumption is that government knows best and 
folks in Washington can make better decisions for the folks in Baton 
Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Shreveport, the Presiding Officer's 
hometown in Pennsylvania, or any other place in the Nation, and knows 
what to tell them and what they should buy--therefore how much they 
should spend--under the World's Greatest Healthcare Plan, we take the 
opposite approach.
  We assume that the woman in the household--usually it is a woman. I 
am a physician so I know this. Usually, the woman makes 95 percent of 
the decisions on health care for a family--let's use the feminine--so 
she knows what is best for her family. There is kind of a humorous 
anecdote. On the campaign trail 2 years ago, I had two different women 
speak to me in a very memorable way. One of them came up and said: You 
know, I am 58 and my husband is 57. Our two boys are 18 and 19. Unless 
my name is Sarah and my husband is Abraham, we are not having more 
children, we do not need pediatric

[[Page S5317]]

dentistry, and I do not need obstetrical benefits, but that is 
included in my policy, which I am forced to pay for, and my husband and 
I are paying $28,000 a year for insurance.

  Another woman from Jefferson Parish walked up to me and said: My name 
is Tina. I am 56 years old, and I had a hysterectomy. My husband and I 
are paying $500 more a month for insurance--$6,000 more a year--and I 
am paying for pediatric dentistry and obstetrics. I do not need these 
benefits, but I sure as heck would like to have my money.
  Washington is making the decision that these two women in Louisiana, 
and women across the Nation should pay for benefits they don't need, 
therefore paying far more. By paying far more, they have less to spend 
on other things they might need to purchase, for example, flood 
insurance in my State, clothing, restaurants, entertainment, a night 
out in their own State, wherever that State might be, but they cannot 
make that decision.
  Under the World's Greatest Healthcare Plan, we take the power away 
from Washington and give it to the family. We allow them to choose the 
benefits they wish, those they need, making the decisions between 
pocketbook and health care that they are uniquely qualified to make. By 
the way, we also do away with the individual mandate. We know that 
individual mandate. It is the ObamaCare provision saying that you shall 
buy insurance or the Federal Government will fine you.
  Under the World's Greatest Healthcare Plan, we take all the money a 
State would receive from the Federal Government for health care and we 
allow the State to give a credit to each individual in that State who 
is eligible, and that would be most folks. The State legislature would 
have the option to say that everyone in the State who is eligible is 
enrolled unless they choose not to be--unlike ObamaCare, where you have 
a 16-page online form where you have to get on and have your W-2 and 
check it off. If you don't have a W-2 with you and are a poorer person 
and have to go to the library for your Internet access and you go home 
by public transportation to get the right form and have to take public 
transportation back, it is not going to happen. Under our plan, you are 
enrolled unless you choose not to be. We expect to have 95-plus percent 
  We don't provide the bells and whistles of ObamaCare, but what we do 
is give first-dollar coverage. Instead of a $6,000 deductible per 
individual or a $10,000 deductible per family, every family will have a 
health savings account with which they have first-dollar coverage. If 
they need to take their daughter to the urgent care center to have an 
earache treated, they have first-dollar coverage. There is not a $6,000 
deductible to work through. They have a pharmacy benefit and a 
catastrophic coverage on top. If they are in a car wreck and admitted 
to the hospital, they will be protected from medical bankruptcy by that 
catastrophic coverage.
  Another thing we do by giving power to the patient is price 
transparency. Under ObamaCare we have seen prices rise and rise and 
rise even more. Part of the problem is the consumer has no power. She 
does not have the ability to know that if a doctor orders a CT scan for 
her child--if she goes to this place and pays cash, it is $250 or if 
she goes to that place, it is $2,500. I picked those numbers, by the 
way, because the Los Angeles Times had an article a few years ago and 
found that the cash price for a CT scan in the L.A. Basin varied from 
$250 to $2,500, and there would be no way someone would know. With the 
World's Greatest Healthcare Plan, the power of price transparency is 
given to that mom so she knows where she can take the child for the 
best cash price and the highest quality and balance that with her 
budget. If the family wishes to really take matters into their own 
hands, they can put their family credits all together in a pool and buy 
a group policy for their family or they can give it to their employer 
as the employee's contribution for an employer-sponsored plan and 
buying into the richer coverage that employers typically give.
  I could go on, but, if you will, the premise I learned as a physician 
is that if you give the patient the power, she will make the right 
decision for her family, both for their health and their pocketbook--
unlike ObamaCare, which says: Family, you are not as wise as folks in 
Washington. We are going to tell you what you have to buy, therefore 
what you have to pay, and if prices escalate even more and you decide 
you can no longer afford insurance, we are coming after you to make you 
pay a penalty. It is wrong, I think it is un-American, and it is 
certainly bad for families.
  The principle under the World's Greatest Healthcare Plan, which I 
like to say in a phrase is giving the patient the power, but the 
academic literature would call it the activated patient--someone who is 
now fully engaged in managing her and her family's health care. Not 
only does that result in lower costs, statistically it gives you better 
  There is a physician Congressman on the other side in the House of 
Representatives who tells a story of someone he worked with. They went 
through a health savings account, and the manager came up and said: Dr. 
Fleming, I don't particularly care for this plan because it doesn't pay 
for my inhaler. He said: Well, your health savings account can pay for 
your inhaler, I suppose, if it is not covered by your pharmacy benefit, 
but if you stop smoking, you don't need an inhaler, and he walked away 
not thinking about it. She later approached him and she said: Dr. 
Fleming, let me tell you. He said: Yes? She said: You are right. He is 
thinking: What was I right about? She said: I stopped smoking and no 
longer need an inhaler. That is a personal story, if you will, of that 
which statistically is demonstrated. If people become engaged in their 
health care, they are not only healthier, but they save money. Under 
the World's Greatest Healthcare Plan, we take that Republican principle 
of believing in the power of the individual to shape her life and her 
family's destiny in a much more positive way than you would expect from 
a bureaucrat telling you to be passive and to otherwise obey.
  I will return. Unfortunately, the President's health care law, the 
Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare, is crushing the middle class with 
ever-higher premiums, higher deductibles, higher copays, an inability 
to pay, and becoming insurance poor as they cut back on everything else 
to avoid paying the penalty for the needed health insurance.
  Republicans have offered an alternative. One alternative is the 
World's Greatest Healthcare Plan, and in our alternative we give the 
patient the power. I suggest that would be an important area of 
compromise; that we all see that giving the patient the power, the 
individual American the responsibility, is a better way to go.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mrs. CAPITO. Mr. President, I wish to thank my fellow Senator from 
Louisiana, Mr. Cassidy--Dr. Cassidy--for his really creative ideas--the 
World's Greatest Healthcare Plan and the way he frames it, in terms of 
his years of practice and the sincerity with which I know he has 
practiced in all kinds of health care settings and has done a lot of 
work with folks who never could or never would have afforded health 
insurance. So I thank the Senator for what he is doing and for working 
with us to try to solve this issue.
  I rise today to join many of my colleagues in sharing the realities 
of ObamaCare. We have heard a lot about this. In my home State of West 
Virginia, for many, this law has been nothing short of devastating. 
While the number of people insured has increased because of the 
expansion of Medicaid in my State, the way these policies were put into 
place has created possible catastrophic fiscal cliffs for States. My 
State, by the way, last fiscal year was over $300 million in the hole 
because of other issues, and now they are looking at this fiscal cliff 
of having to pay the full rate of Medicaid expansion.
  There is now a segment of our population that is falling through the 
cracks when it comes to health reform. They make too much money to 
qualify for aid or subsidies and end up paying the full cost of 
increasing individual coverage premiums. These working families are 
being faced with sky-rocketing premiums, copays, and deductibles. Talk 
to any health care

[[Page S5318]]

center. Talk to the hospitals. This rising amount of deductibles is 
influencing their bottom line because they are not chasing the 
uninsured. They are chasing now people's deductibles. In my State and 
across this country, we have little, if any, choice in insurers.
  I know we have all heard that often-repeated phrase, and I will say 
it again. It is the claim that if you like your doctor, you can keep 
your doctor. This has been pure fiction. The provider and hospital 
networks have shrunk and insurers have shifted away from options to 
give patients the choice they were promised and that they counted on, 
and they are now being pushed into much more restrictive plans.
  One of our local papers recently ran a story about a West Virginian 
in just this situation, a small business person who labeled this plan 
accurately, calling it the ``Un-Affordable Care Act.''

       Since ObamaCare, my premiums have increased at least $450 
     per month in the last couple of years. The plan I had was 
     celed. . . .

  So if you like your health care, you can keep it. His was canceled--
false statement. He had to enroll in a new plan. His premiums are 
currently over $1,350 a month. Between the high deductible and meeting 
the out-of-pocket maximum, this West Virginian has to pay 20 percent--
all out-of-pocket--and the situation is likely to get worse.
  In West Virginia, we, like many other States, are currently waiting 
to see what our premium increase is going to be for 2017. It hasn't 
been approved yet by the State insurance commission. The question is 
not whether there will be an increase; that is a given. The question 
is, How enormous will it be?
  If nearby States are any indication, there is much to be concerned 
about. In the State of Tennessee, the State insurance commissioner 
recently sounded the alarm saying that the ObamaCare exchange in 
Tennessee is very near collapse. Rates there are skyrocketing to 
between a 44- and 62-percent increase. Sadly, the story is the same 
whether one is in Arizona, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nebraska, or West 
Virginia. All too often, these rate increases are coming with much less 
coverage as well.
  I recently spoke with a West Virginia small business person who has 
absorbed the cost of increased premiums for their employees, realizing 
they can't afford it but, at the same time, that employees are getting 
much less coverage, higher deductibles, and higher copays. Attempting 
to switch to a lower cost plan comes with its own perils. The average 
bronze plan deductible in 2016 was $5,700. This is assuming you have 
  A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that one-
third of all counties in the United States will only have one ObamaCare 
insurer next year. This is up dramatically from the 7 percent of 
counties in 2016, and it is largely the result of major insurance 
companies scaling back or withdrawing their participation on the 
marketplaces. Unfortunately, there is nothing that indicates that this 
trend will not continue. Many counties are becoming ObamaCare ghost 
  In Pinal County, AZ, 10,000 people bought exchange coverage this 
year, but no insurers are planning to offer plans on the exchange next 
year. What are they supposed to do? I fear this scenario could all too 
easily play out in West Virginia. Traditionally, over the course of 
ObamaCare, we have only had one insurer for the entire 55 counties. 
This year we happen to have 1 insurer for 45 of the 55 counties.
  This lack of competition in the marketplace is not new for our State. 
This has been the reality for the vast majority of our residents, and 
now we are seeing it just expanding all across the country. This lack 
of choice, along with unaffordable premiums, copays, and high 
deductibles, has prompted most Americans to reject ObamaCare plans and 
not even join.
  Nationwide enrollment in ObamaCare exchanges is only half what was 
originally planned. We owe it to those we represent to do better. We 
have heard Senator Cassidy talk about his ideas. We have great ideas on 
this side of the aisle to improve it, and we have asked and voted many 
times to throw out ObamaCare and start over. I think that is the 
direction we need to go, because Americans deserve a health care system 
that works for them, every day, from year to year. It is becoming 
clearer and clearer that ObamaCare is not that plan.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I wish to thank my colleague from West 
Virginia for her comments on this health care law, as well as my 
colleague from Louisiana.
  I have just returned, as we all have, from our time in our State and 
traveling in our State. I know my colleague from West Virginia heard 
the same stories that I heard in Nebraska. People are worried. They are 
afraid. They are very concerned about their futures and what they are 
going to see this fall with regard to this health care law. So I thank 
my colleagues for their comments that they have given today on this 
very important issue.
  I, too, rise to address the stark reality of President Obama's failed 
health care law. The evidence of its failure continues. The latest 
example is the relentless increase in premium rates across our country. 
In Nebraska, health care plans under ObamaCare will see premium rates 
rise more than 30 percent. Nearly every week, I hear new stories of the 
pain caused by this law. It breaks my heart because it has led hard-
working people to the brink of despair. We have sunk to the point where 
some Nebraskans, like many Americans across our country, are now asking 
themselves: Why bother?
  Karen in central Nebraska shared that most of her paycheck goes to 
her plan's premium and deductible costs. She is faced with two terrible 
options: quit her job to qualify for more government subsidies or opt 
out of insurance coverage and then pay the penalty.
  Meanwhile, Peter, a small business owner in western Nebraska, faces 
the gut-wrenching decision of raising prices to offset the rising 
premiums and other unaffordable costs of his ObamaCare plan.
  Stephen in eastern Nebraska, another small business owner, bluntly 
told me: ``Enough is enough.'' For Stephen, it made more sense to pay 
the penalty than to budget for his ObamaCare plan. If that wasn't 
enough, Stephen's longtime family doctor, the medical professional who 
he trusts, is no longer in his network. So now Stephen has to travel 
just to see an in-network provider.
  Because of a law forced upon them, Americans are left with difficult 
choices. Mothers and fathers are being forced to choose between what is 
in the best interest of their families and what health insurance costs 
they are going to be able to afford.
  Hard-working Americans are keeping less of their paychecks. They are 
spending more on these uncontrollable health care costs. They can no 
longer afford and, in many cases, they no longer even have the option 
to see the doctor they trust. They are not saving money, and they are 
not better off. They are living a real American nightmare.
  Nebraskans are all too familiar with the failures of ObamaCare. The 
co-op established for Nebraska and Iowa was one of the first ones to 
fail, and that was in December of 2014. In my letter at the time to 
then CMS Administrator Tavenner, I sought answers. I received an answer 
much later from Acting Administrator Slavitt. His response was 
disappointing, and it clearly demonstrated what we have known for a 
long time now: The government is incapable of successfully 
administering health care coverage. These Nebraskans were left with few 
options and very little support because of the government's 
shortsightedness in continuing a doomed co-op.
  We have witnessed similar disasters with other ObamaCare co-ops 
across the country. They keep failing. They include Colorado, 
Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Oregon, to name a few. 
At a cost to taxpayers of more than $1.7 billion of the original 23 co-
ops, only 7 now survive. That is a failure rate, people, of more than 
60 percent. The surviving seven are now being evaluated for their 
financial health, but one thing is clear: To prop them up through the 
next enrollment period only to delay their really inevitable failure 
would be incredibly dishonest to the American people.
  Nebraskans are a trusting people. We like to give people the benefit 
of the doubt, but there is no doubt any

[[Page S5319]]

longer. ObamaCare was built on certain promises and those promises have 
been broken.
  It is time for the government to be honest with the American people. 
It is time to come clean, face up, and act responsibly. We have already 
taken some positive steps to get our people out of this mess--steps 
which the vast majority of the Members of this Senate have approved. 
The medical device tax and the Cadillac tax are clear examples. The 
majority of this Chamber agreed on a bipartisan basis that delaying 
these taxes was a necessary step to alleviate some of the harm that has 
been caused by this health care law. In voting to delay these taxes, 
the Senate chose the American people over a failed law. That was a good 
day, and that was a good vote. We must take more actions like that in 
the future--action, not just talk--actions that will help the American 
people lighten this law's heavy load and bring families back from that 
brink. We must keep doing this until Americans like Karen, Peter, and 
Stephen are no longer forced to make those unreasonable choices.
  At the same time, I want solutions for those Nebraska families still 
struggling to find quality and affordable health care. But let's be 
honest. These solutions are not more bailouts and tax subsidies. No 
more one-size-fits-all Federal mandates. We must all conclude that 
ObamaCare is a clear failure. We must, once and for all, scrap it and 
then replace it with patient-centered solutions. I want to have that 
conversation, and I am ready and willing to do so.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  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. CARDIN. 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 

                     Ellicott City, Maryland, Flood

  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, the first order of business in this return 
to session is for us to pass an appropriations bill to keep the 
government open on October 1. I know that people are physically at work 
in order to make that a reality.
  I was on the floor yesterday talking about the need to fund Zika. To 
me, that is urgent. We have to get that done now. I explained then that 
there are real risks to the general population of Maryland and Colorado 
and every State in this country from the Zika virus.
  Today I am going to talk about two episodes--two disasters--that 
occurred in Maryland during the recess. I mention that in this context 
because we need our Federal agencies fully functioning and fully funded 
in order to deal with the things that just happen in America.
  In my own State we had two horrible disasters during the recess, and 
I would like to talk a little bit about that.
  Marylanders are heartbroken by the devastation that has hit our 
community in Ellicott City. My condolences go out to the family and 
friends who lost loved ones in the tragedy.
  I want to especially thank the first responders who worked tirelessly 
to save lives and property after the historic flooding in Ellicott 
  Ellicott City is a historic Maryland treasure, founded in 1772 and 
known for its vibrant business community and its culture of kindness 
and resilience. It suffered significant flooding throughout the intense 
rainfall on the evening of July 30, 2016. The National Weather Service 
predicts that a rainfall of this magnitude should statistically occur 
once in every 1,000 years. Six inches of rain poured down on Ellicott 
City--an amount of rain that normally falls over the course of one 
month--in the period of only 90 minutes.
  Shortly after the storm hit, I toured Ellicott City with Howard 
County Executive Allan Kittleman, officials from the Maryland Emergency 
Management Agency, MEMA, and other Federal, State, and local officials. 
The devastation is truly frightening in terms of damage to property, 
businesses, homes, vehicles, and infrastructure in Ellicott City.
  As the Baltimore Sun reported, Saturday, July 30, began unremarkably 
for a summer day in the mid-Atlantic, with thunderstorms expected. 
Joseph Anthony Blevins was out on a date night with his girlfriend 
Heather Owens, and he suggested they stop at Main Street in Ellicott 
City. They had just left a matinee at a movie theater in Laurel and 
were heading home to Windsor Mill. With a roll of her eyes, she agreed 
to stop in the city's historic district.
  Let me continue with the Baltimore Sun's reporting of this story:

       It was raining when [Heather Owens and Joe Blevins] pulled 
     into a parking lot off Main Street around 7:30 p.m., and they 
     sat in the car to wait out what they expected to be a short 
     downpour. They didn't know that the weather service had 
     issued a flash flood warning for much of central Maryland 
     about 12 minutes earlier. When they realized the rain was not 
     going to let up, they decided to go home. They pulled back on 
     to Main Street, but within five minutes, their car began 
     floating. The car struck a guardrail and plunged into the 
     swollen Patapsco River.
       Owens was able to get out of the passenger side window, and 
     thinks she grabbed something, perhaps a branch of a tree on 
     the river bank, as the current pulled her downstream.
       She looked for Blevins and saw him in the river, gasping 
     for air and reaching in vain for something to hold on to. She 
     scrambled up the rocky bank onto nearby railroad tracks, 
     heading toward houses on higher ground to get help. The 
     rushing waters had torn her pants and shoes off, but she 
     survived with a fractured jaw. . . . Residents and first 
     responders later looked unsuccessfully for Blevins. Blevins, 
     38, died during the flooding, leaving behind Owens and his 
     three children.

  A confluence of meteorological and geographical factors turned this 
hard summer rain into a destructive torrent. In less than 2 hours the 
river rose 14 feet above its normal flow. Shops and restaurants that 
line Main Street were swamped and flooded as water rushed down the 
street and rose underneath it. The Tiber, usually just an inch or two 
of water running through a reinforced channel below some of the 
buildings, swelled during the storm.
  You can see a little bit here of the damage that we are talking about 
in this photograph. I had a chance to see this firsthand, and it was 
incredible that buildings had been completely washed away. The river 
normally flowed underneath that and has for a long time, but because of 
construction and because of the amount of water that fell, the water 
was funneled into Main Street, and it became a force of itself going 
down Main Street, as well as the river rising below it, causing major 
  Jessica Lynn Watsula also died in the flood. Again, as the Baltimore 
Sun reports, she was a 35-year-old mother who lived in Lebanon, PA, and 
had gone to Portalli's in Ellicott City that night with three women for 
a girls' night out.

       Watsula dropped off her 10-year-old daughter at her 
     brother's home and drove two hours from Pennsylvania for 
     dinner and painting Saturday in Ellicott City--a chance to 
     share an evening with her sister-in-law and two other 
       As the four women left Portalli's Italian restaurant on 
     Main Street in the historic district, a wave of flood water 
     began to sweep their car away. They got out and clung to a 
     telephone pole as waist-high water rushed over them.
       Watsula was swept away and died in the flood.

  As we mourn the loss of Joseph Blevins and Jessica Watsula, let me 
thank the citizens of Ellicott City who undoubtedly saved many lives 
with their heroic actions during this historic and deadly flood.
  I am pleased that our congressional delegation has moved quickly to 
facilitate the emergency help for families, communities, homeowners, 
and small businesses to recover from this disaster.
  I want to recognize and praise the Federal agencies who stepped up to 
the plate and worked hand-in-hand with our State and local officials.
  Let me start by thanking the Small Business Administration and 
specifically SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet for her tremendous 
help to the people of Ellicott City. The SBA's survey of Ellicott City 
found more than the 25 structures--with 40 percent or more of uninsured 
damage--required to recommend an SBA physical declaration. At least 60 
homeowners, renters, and businesses in Ellicott City and surrounding 
areas sustained major damage or were destroyed. More than 80 structures 
sustained minor damage as well.

  In this case, the Federal disaster declaration from the SBA was 
necessary to ensure Howard County business owners got the physical 
disaster loan assistance and economic injury disaster

[[Page S5320]]

loan assistance they need to repair or replace real estate, personal 
property, equipment, or inventory damaged or destroyed in the 
disturbance. I know many of these shopowners. These are not chains; 
these are small business people who have set up their own unique 
businesses providing retail services in a way that reminds us of how 
retail used to be in this country. Main Street in Ellicott City is Main 
Street America. These people are very resilient, but when you have this 
type of damage and you know how long it is going to be before you can 
return the structure to its use, it requires a helping hand.
  I was pleased that the SBA came through for the citizens of Ellicott 
City by approving a formal disaster declaration which will allow the 
homeowners, businesses, and nonprofit organizations impacted by this 
epic storm and resultant floodwaters to apply for economic injury 
disaster loans, which provide low-interest assistance to help 
businesses meet their financial obligations and pay ordinary and 
necessary operating expenses.
  The SBA has repeatedly proven its willingness and ability to help 
Marylanders struck by crisis. I express my sincere thanks to the SBA 
for the assistance extended to our neighbors in need, and I will 
continue to work with Team Maryland, including Senator Mikulski and 
Congressman Cummings, to identify additional resources to aid Ellicott 
City. The Maryland delegation has come together to support the State's 
request for a Federal disaster declaration for Howard County after the 
deadly and devastating flood in Ellicott City.
  Given the massive impact this flooding had on our State and our local 
resources, I have joined my colleagues in the Maryland delegation in 
writing a letter to the President urging him to approve the Federal 
disaster declaration at the request of our Governor, Larry Hogan.
  I also acknowledge the extraordinary help from officials from Region 
III of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and in particular 
MaryAnn Tierney. Region III offices are headquartered in Philadelphia 
but include the State of Maryland. So I appreciate Administrator 
Tierney coming down for a site visit to oversee the joint preliminary 
assessment. She was there immediately. I met with her. She understood 
the urgency and the importance of being on the ground. I was pleased to 
have the opportunity to meet with her and others during her site visit 
to Ellicott City. I thank her for her coordination with State and local 
officials in responding to this disaster.

 Flower Branch Apartments Explosion and fire in Silver Spring, Maryland

  Mr. President, I also want to share with my colleagues another major 
disaster that occurred in Maryland over the Senate recess. On August 
10, a massive explosion and fire took place at the Flower Branch 
Apartments in Silver Spring, MD. Seven individuals died in the 
catastrophe, which caused dozens of injuries and displaced over 100 
  I was at this scene also. We lost life. People lost their lives, and 
I am going to mention their names. I was surprised to find that there 
were survivors when I took a look at the amount of damage that was done 
by this explosion. The first responders showed me parts of the building 
that were found hundreds of yards away, mangled by the force of the 
explosion. There was immediately a fire that consumed the rest of the 
premises. As the Washington Post reported, the destruction was so 
devastating that authorities were unable to immediately determine how 
many people died. There was difficulty in making identifications.
  Among the victims were two little boys, Deibi Morales and Fernando 
Hernandez, who had become friends as their mothers undertook new lives 
in the United States; a couple, Augusto Jimenez and Maria Castellon, 
who built a house-cleaning business; and a retired painter, Saul 
Paniagua, who doted on his grandchildren. We mourn all their lives, and 
we extend our deepest condolences to their families.
  I toured this site recently with Montgomery County Executive Ike 
Leggett and other Federal, State, and local officials, including 
officials from the Montgomery County, MD, Fire and Rescue Service. Our 
hearts go out to the families who have been impacted by this horrible 
tragedy in Montgomery County.
  I want to thank the first responders, State and local officials, as 
well as a wide range of nonprofit, faith-based and community groups who 
have answered the call to help victims, families, and loved ones begin 
to put their pieces back together as best they can. It was heartwarming 
to see the community outpouring to help those who were homeless 
immediately as a result of this disaster and to provide whatever they 
  They provided help to the first responders. The temperature was over 
100 degrees during the period of time this occurred. There were 
oppressive temperatures and very difficult working conditions. The 
community came together to help the first responders. We had a team 
come in from out of town who is expert in this type of accident to help 
us in dealing with this tragedy.
  I thank everybody for their help in trying to do what we could to 
help those who are fighting and helping to locate the survivors and to 
those who were victimized by this explosion.
  At the Federal level, I commend the work of the Bureau of Alcohol, 
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in helping with the investigation of 
this massive explosion and fire.
  I am pleased that the National Transportation Safety Board has 
launched a formal investigation into this incident, and that is because 
there is an expected gas line issue involved in the explosion. I am 
hopeful that the National Transportation Safety Board investigation 
will uncover the causes of the explosion and fire and hold individuals 
accountable for any wrongdoing, as well as lead to additional safety 
recommendations as to how to help prevent these types of devastating 
explosions in the future.
  We should also examine our outreach and education efforts to the 
immigrant community to make sure that all residents are aware of the 
rights and government services available to them. This community is an 
immigrant community. For many, English is not their first language. It 
was an additional challenge to make sure they understood that we were 
there to help and that we wanted to make sure we did everything we 
could to make sure they were properly taken care of.
  Again, I thank the Federal, State, and local government agencies that 
helped the citizens of Ellicott City and Silver Spring respond to these 
terrible disasters. Working with our nonprofits and faith-based 
communities, we can recover and rebuild from these tragedies.
  As I said in the beginning, this is just another example of why it is 
critically important that we do our job here and that we pass the 
necessary appropriations bills so that our Federal partners can help 
our State and local governments help those who are victimized by these 
types of disasters, that they knew they have the Federal agencies fully 
tooled, fully budgeted to help them respond to these tragedies.
  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. COATS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

         Ending U.S. Aid Used for Palestinian Acts of Terrorism

  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, in June I spoke on the floor about the 
appalling practice of the Palestinian Authority to reward terrorists 
and encourage more terrorism against Israeli citizens and Americans. My 
purpose then was to draw attention to these payments and especially the 
fact that U.S. taxpayer money was being used in this disgusting way. I 
had hoped that others would share my outrage. Unfortunately, that has 
not yet occurred, although I think it will.
  Already, the country of Norway has raised this issue through its 
Foreign Minister. Just recently, a German parliamentarian of the Green 
Party raised this issue. Countries are becoming aware of the fact that 
they are subsidizing terrorist acts by Palestinians against Jews and 
against Americans in Israel and that aid money which is going to that 
country from our countries--from a number of foreign countries--is 
being used for that purpose.

[[Page S5321]]

  Let me give some of the facts regarding that. I want to repeat these. 
Some of this is a repeat of what I said in June, but I think this is so 
unconscionable, such inhumane behavior that we are subsidizing, that we 
need to understand what it is and we need to take action to make sure 
this does not continue.
  Since 1998, the Palestinian Authority, which I will refer to as the 
PA, has been honoring and supporting Palestinian terrorists serving 
criminal sentences in Israeli prisons and rewarding the families of 
those terrorists, those who have committed these criminal acts, 
rewarding their families with financial support based on the severity 
of the crime.
  As we have learned through some documentation obtained, this system 
has now been formalized and expanded by President Abbas's Presidential 
directives. Palestinian terrorist prisoners are regarded by the PA as 
patriotic fighters, as heroes, and actually as employees of the 
government of the Palestinian Authority. While in prison, they and 
their families are paid premium salaries and given extra benefits as 
rewards for their terrorist actions. When they are released from 
custody, the terrorists then become civil service employees. 
Shockingly, monthly salaries for both incarcerated and released 
prisoners are on a sliding scale, depending on the severity of the 
crime and the length of the prison sentence. Thus, the more heinous the 
crime, the longer the sentence, and a longer sentence entitles the 
criminal and his family to a much higher premium salary. For example, a 
Palestinian prisoner with a 5-year sentence because they committed a 
criminal act against an Israeli or an American citizen or someone who 
is not a Palestinian receives about $500 per month, whereas a more 
serious criminal, say serving a 25-year sentence, perhaps for murder, 
receives $2,500 a month. It is an incentive to do an evermore criminal, 
heinous act against a human being. They are paid on a sliding scale 
basis. That, by the way, is six times the average income of a 
Palestinian worker. Where else in the world does a prisoner receive 
such benefits that actually increase with the severity and violence of 
the crime? U.S. Federal prisoners, for instance, earn between 35 cents 
and $1.15 per hour and certainly not on a sliding scale and certainly 
not to that level.
  In May of 2014, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a 
Presidential decree that moved this payment system from the PA to the 
PLO, the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The openly acknowledged 
reason for this shift was to sidestep the increasingly critical 
scrutiny of this payment system by foreign governments--including us, 
the United States--that are contributing so much of the money that 
keeps the PA afloat. So they were receiving criticism, and there were 
inquiries by countries providing aid, including ours, including our 
State Department, and including some legislation that was enacted by 
the Congress. They created a shell game. They simply took the money 
that was given to the Palestinian Authority, and because there was 
criticism of their use of it as to these payments, they shifted it to 
the PLO through a shell game process that they thought we would not 
discover, and we did. Fortunately, we did.
  Unfortunately, given these facts, given the fact that we now know 
what is happening with American taxpayer dollars and some of our 
allies' taxpayer dollars, there should not be any question in terms of 
what is happening and what we ought to do, but apparently many of our 
leaders have been intentionally turning a blind eye to this practice in 
the hopes that we will ignore what is going on.
  This nefarious scheme has been going on now for 18 years and almost 
no one has been saying anything about it. That is why I am on the floor 
today, that is why I was on the floor in June, and that is why I will 
be on the floor again to continue to bring these facts to light so we 
can take action to prevent this from happening.
  Where is the outrage--outrage over the fact that a government is 
deliberately encouraging and financially rewarding its citizens to 
engage in a criminal act.
  This administration has explicitly avoided criticism of the PA on 
this matter, and it is ignoring the misuse of taxpayer money and 
helping the PA reward its terrorists to honor its martyrs. It is time 
they stood up, acknowledged the facts, and put an end to this. How can 
this silence be consistent with our antiterrorist efforts and 
counterterrorist efforts? How can this silence be ignored?
  One answer is that the administration has ignored the misuse of 
taxpayer dollars simply because it doesn't want to stir the pot. There 
are problems in the Middle East. We are dealing with a number of them. 
I am just speculating, but maybe the conclusion is let's not raise 
another issue that could cause further conflict in the Middle East.
  Yet there are worse things here than just silence because not only 
does the State Department decline to actively oppose these terrorist 
payments, they even offer false excuses for the outrage, excuses no 
rational person would believe. For instance, the Department of State's 
Bureau of Counterterrorism said in a recent report that this payment 
system was ``an effort to reintegrate [released prisoners] into society 
and prevent recruitment by hostile political factions.'' This is simply 
an absurd interpretation of the terrorist rewards programs, and its far 
more sinister motives are obvious to anyone who is paying attention.
  At the same time, we must admit that this payment scheme has gotten 
little or no attention in the Senate. For 18 years, the PA has been 
using American taxpayer money to reward terrorists. Yet until I spoke 
about it in June, I am not aware this subject has even come up on the 
Senate floor in any of the recent years. We should be holding hearings 
on this issue in appropriate Senate committees, as there have been 
recently in the House of Representatives, and thank goodness for that. 
More of my colleagues should be demanding that we stop financing such a 
scheme and we should enact legislation to impose that solution, if 
  I can only speculate why outside groups that support Israel are also 
hesitant to press Congress to take action. Some may be reluctant to 
impose more pressure on a financially weak and dependent PA, believing 
that it would deprive Abbas of what little remains of his authority and 
status as a negotiating partner, thus making a negotiated settlement 
even less likely.
  Even some Israeli officials may share this view and have worked for 
years to act as a brake on efforts by Congress to cut off aid, 
presumably to preserve the PA's stability as a West Bank security 
provider. Well, we have seen where that has gone--nowhere.
  Despite possible consequences, we simply cannot give the PA a pass to 
support, to condone, and even reward terrorism, no matter what the 
consequences might be. The Palestinian Authority does not deserve 
immunity just because of its fragility. These payments provide rewards 
and motivations for brutal terrorists, plain and simple. To provide 
U.S. taxpayer money to Abbas and his government so they can treat 
terrorists as heroes or glorious martyrs is morally unacceptable.
  To tolerate such an outrage because of concern for Abbas's political 
future or preserving the PA's security role amounts to self-imposed 
extortion. If the PA's fragile financial condition requires U.S. 
assistance, then it is their policy--not our policy--that needs to 
  We need an immediate response to this outrage.
  First, I am working with my colleagues to end American financial 
support for incarcerated terrorists or the families of these so-called 
martyrs. We will identify the amount of money that flows from the PA to 
the PLO for this purpose and cut U.S. assistance by that amount, at the 
very least.
  Legislation to that effect is now in both the House and the Senate 
versions of appropriations bills, and we must work together to ensure 
that this language survives any future omnibus or continuing 
resolutions and is repeated in future appropriations bills.
  If this partial cutoff of U.S. aid is not sufficient to motivate the 
Palestinian Authority to end this immoral system of payments to 
terrorists, we should propose a complete suspension of financial 
assistance until they change their policy.
  I am aware that suspending assistance to the Palestinians will have 
other consequences that we and Israel

[[Page S5322]]

will have to address, but I believe the pressure that we and other 
like-minded governments could apply to this matter will bring President 
Abbas and other Palestinian officials to their senses.
  In any case--whether it does that or not--the moral imperative is 
clear: Payments that reward and encourage terrorism must be stopped and 
must be stopped now.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.

                        Prescription Drug Prices

  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I rise to bring attention to an urgent 
issue affecting all Americans. Actually, the No. 1 issue I heard about 
when I was home--and especially at our State fair, which, by the way, 
is the biggest State fair in the country because we don't count Texas 
because they are open for a month. But there were 2 million people, a 
record crowd, 1.9 million to be exact.
  I went out there most of the days, and I was able to talk to folks 
right where they were. The issue they are talking about is the high 
cost of prescription drugs in our country. The price of insulin has 
tripled in the last decade. The price of the infectious disease drug 
Daraprim has increased 5,000 percent overnight. The antibiotic 
Doxycycline went from $20 a bottle to nearly $2,000 a bottle in just 6 
months. Of course, the price for an EpiPen--which received so much 
attention over the last few weeks, which is used to treat life-
threatening allergies, my daughter carries one wherever she goes--shot 
up nearly 500 percent since 2007.
  It seems every week we hear another disturbing report of drug 
companies focused on profits. According to a 2016 Reuters report, 
prices for 4 of the Nation's top 10 drugs increased more than 100 
percent since 2011. The report also shows that sales for those 10 drugs 
went up 44 percent between 2011 and 2014, even though they were 
prescribed 22 percent less.
  I continue to hear from people across my State and the Nation about 
the burdensome cost of prescription drugs. There are heartbreaking 
stories about huge pricetags that are stretching families' budgets to a 
breaking point. This is just an example. I brought these examples home 
with me from the State fair and then brought them to Washington. These 
are from just a few days at our State fair booth, where people came up 
and filled out cards about their stories of increasing drug prices. 
These are just a few of the emails we have received since August 25 and 
calls we have received in our office every single day.
  For example, take the Dwyer family from Cambridge, MN. At 11 years 
old, Abby was diagnose with a rare form of leukemia. A few years later, 
her older brother Aaron was diagnosed with stage III lymphoma. 
Thankfully, both Abby and Aaron are doing much better, but the family 
faced astronomical out-of-pocket expenses during their treatment. Abby 
is on a drug with an average wholesale price in the United States of 
$367 per day, which is double the average price in other countries.
  Another example is a family from Elk River, MN. Due to their son's 
allergies, they must buy four EpiPens a year--two for home, one for 
school, and one for daycare. That is not overdoing it. I can tell you, 
having had a child with allergies since she was 4 years old, you don't 
just buy one. You have to buy one for school, then you also have to 
maybe buy one for grandma's house, and then one gets lost--so you end 
up not buying just one EpiPen. In reality, most families are buying 
four to six, which are two packs, three packs, sometimes even four 
packs. This family from Elk River, MN, buys four EpiPens a year: two 
for home, one for school, and one for daycare.
  This year the family paid $533 for a two-pack, even after using 
Mylan's coupon. They shouldn't be forced to spend over $1,000 each year 
just to make sure their son is safe every single day.
  I recently heard from a family in Lakeville, MN, whose daughter was 
diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She needs insulin on a daily basis. 
This means paying $100 a month for Humalog, which is a fast-acting form 
of insulin. This significant financial burden is on top of all the 
other costs they pay for their daughter's diabetes, including test 
strips, an insulin pump, and a glucose monitor.
  Unfortunately, these families are not alone. A recent study showed 
that one out of four Americans whose prescription drug costs went up 
said they were unable to pay their bills. One out of five were forced 
to skip doses of their medication. Seven percent of people even missed 
a mortgage payment due to rising prescription drug costs. That is just 
not right, and our country must do better.
  I think one of the most frustrating things about it, having heard 
about the EpiPen--all because of my role with this all during the last 
few weeks--is that I got screen shots of photos of this exact same 
product in Australia for $150 from someone who saw it online.
  In Great Britain, I was on a show broadcast out of Europe, and there 
the host had it right there on the screen at 150 bucks. In fact, the 
Canadian prices--Minnesota being so close to Canada--are, on average, 
50 percent of American drugs across the board.
  Of course, the burden extends beyond patients, the States, and the 
Federal Government. Programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the State 
Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, paid roughly 41 percent 
of the Nation's prescription drug costs. When drug prices increase with 
abandon, American taxpayers are left footing the bill. So people who 
think, well, I don't need one of those EpiPens, they are paying for it 
because Medicaid is buying them because SCHIP is buying them and 
because Medicare is buying them.
  Just last week, we learned that the company that manufacturers EpiPen 
and perhaps other companies have found ways to make taxpayers pay even 
more. Mylan marketed EpiPen like a brand-name drug, right? We heard 
about it this week because they just--and we will appreciate that--
introduced a generic version. However, their other version, their 
marketing version, controlled at least 85 percent of the market. They 
would claim they were having some innovations, and that is how they 
justified that enormous price increase from $100 to about $600 from 
2009 to the present.
  However, through the Medicaid Program--so, remember, they are 
marketing it not as a generic. Everyone knew that because they just 
introduced a generic. Well, in the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program they 
wrongly classified--we found out this week, when I sent a letter with 
Senator Grassley and Senator Blumenthal, that they wrongly classified 
EpiPen as a generic drug to the government. To the government, they 
claimed it was a generic drug. This classification means that Mylan has 
been paying lower rebates to Medicaid, increasing the burden on 
  So you think, OK, misclassification, what does that mean? Well, I can 
tell you what that means.
  In Minnesota alone--because I specifically asked about Minnesota--in 
1 year, my State overpaid an estimated $4.3 million. Why don't we 
multiply that out by all the States in the Union and all the years it 
has been happening? At this point, we do not know the total amount 
taxpayers have overpaid on EpiPen or how many other drugs from other 
companies are misclassified. That is why I have called on the 
Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a nationwide 
investigation to determine how much the misclassification of, first, 
EpiPen has cost States and the Federal Government, and, two, to 
identify other misclassified drugs from other companies.
  Take these examples from the Canadian International Pharmacy 
Association. In the United States, a 90-day supply of ABILIFY, a drug 
used to treat depression and other mental health disorders, costs 
$2,621. In Canada, a 90-day supply of the exact same drug is only $467, 
which is over 80 percent cheaper.
  So you see these examples of these high-priced drugs. I think one of 
the things we need to do--and I don't know how those are classified--is 
to see how these are being classified for Medicaid purposes.
  Working with the Department of Justice, HHS should use all the tools 
it has to recover any overpayments. We have asked specifically about 
EpiPen. Well, Mylan paid almost $120 million--I don't think this has 
been that well

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known--back in 2009 to correct a misclassification of drugs. That was 
in 2009. Now we find out with EpiPen, which is about 10 percent of 
their profits, that this has been misclassified for years and years and 
  Misclassification is just one way the government and, as a result, 
taxpayers are paying more than necessary for prescription drugs. One 
thing is absolutely clear: We must act now to make the cost of 
prescription drugs more affordable for all Americans. There is not one 
silver bullet that will fix the problem across the board, but there are 
some commonsense solutions to address the problem. Today I am going to 
offer four such solutions, any one of which would provide real relief, 
but the best way is to do all of them.
  The first is this. I mentioned Canada a few times. In fact, I just 
mentioned some of the Canadian prices for the drugs. In Minnesota we 
can see Canada from our porch. They spend a lot less money than we do 
on prescription drugs. As I mentioned, last year average prescription 
drug prices in Canada were less than half as expensive as they were in 
the United States--a price gap that has expanded significantly over the 
last 10 years. I mentioned a few of them--Abilify. There is Celebrex, 
an anti-inflammatory drug, which costs $884 in the United States for a 
90-day supply. In Canada it is $180. That is nearly 80 percent less. I 
mentioned EpiPen, at $623. Of course, now we are going to get the 
rebate and the generic introduced after a public outcry, which is not 
the way it should be working. A two-pack in Canada costs 62 percent 
less, at $237.
  These staggering differences are why I introduced bipartisan 
legislation with Republican Senator John McCain to allow Americans to 
safely import prescription drugs from Canada. The Safe and Affordable 
Drugs from Canada Act would require the FDA to establish a personal 
importation program that would allow Americans to import a 90-day 
supply of prescription drugs from an approved Canadian pharmacy.
  Now, there may be other safe drug suppliers in other countries. I 
think we know that. But we thought, in order to get the noise down, 
let's focus on one country, our neighbor and one of our best trading 
partners, and why not just go with the friendly people of Canada for an 
experiment to see how this works to allow some competition by allowing 
these drugs in from Canada.
  To provide needed safeguards, the FDA would publish an online list of 
approved Canadian pharmacies so people know where they can purchase 
safe drugs. These approved pharmacies would need to have both a brick-
and-mortar and an online presence, and they must have been in business 
for at least 5 years. Also, these pharmacies would not be permitted to 
resell products purchased outside of Canada. The drugs from Canada 
would need to be dispensed by a licensed pharmacist and be required to 
have the same active ingredient, route of administration, and dosage 
form and strength as an FDA-approved drug.
  There would also be safeguards to ensure that the personal 
importation program is not subject to abuse. Patients must have a valid 
prescription from a doctor. Certain types of drugs, including 
controlled substances, would not be permitted.
  This is a safe and commonsense step that would save families real 
money and inject greater competition. We are about competition in this 
country. That is how we bring prices down. We have a friendly neighbor 
to the north that clearly has lower priced drugs than ours, and that is 
why Senator McCain and I have joined, along with Senators Susan Collins 
and Angus King of Maine and many others, to say: Let's do this. That is 
one solution.
  A second solution is this: Pay for delay. This is of one of those 
things that, when I told our citizens in Minnesota about this at our 
State fair, they could not believe it. Beyond the drug importation 
legislation, we can crack down on illegal pay-for-delay deals that 
prevent less expensive generic drugs from entering the market.
  Pay-for-delay agreements occur when a brand-name drug company--a 
pharmaceutical company--pays a generic drug competitor--a potential 
competitor--not to sell its products. This is going on in the United 
States of America.
  My booth at the State fair is next to Bob's Snake Zoo, and sometimes 
people come out yelling and screaming because they get a little scared 
from the snakes, but this is scarier than that. In fact, pharma 
companies are paying generic companies to keep their products out of 
the marketplace.
  That is why I have introduced the Preserve Access to Affordable 
Generics Act with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. This gives 
the Federal Trade Commission greater ability to block these anti-
competitive agreements.
  By allowing generic drugs to enter the market more quickly, the 
government would save money through the purchase of lower cost generic 
substitutes. That is why it is estimated that limiting these sweetheart 
deals would generate over $2.9 billion in budget savings over 10 years 
and save American consumers billions on their prescription drug costs.
  Who can be against this? You literally have two competitors, one 
accepting money and one paying them off to keep their products off the 
market. The Supreme Court heard a case which made some difference. The 
SEC has a bunch of open cases, but it has been agreed at hearing after 
hearing that Senator Grassley and I have held that this would be a 
smart thing to do. Remember, it would save the government $2.9 billion, 
but it would also save the consumers.
  The third good idea is allowing Medicare to negotiate prices. This is 
another thing where Minnesotans and Americans cannot believe this is 
the case, but in fact the combined incredible market power of the 
seniors of America has not been unleashed in terms of getting good 
deals for the seniors of America.
  Under current law, prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries are 
provided through private prescription drug plans. The plans are 
responsible for crafting benefit packages and negotiating with 
pharmaceutical companies for prices and discounts. The Department of 
Veterans Affairs and Medicaid can currently negotiate drug prices with 
pharmaceutical companies, but the law bans Medicare from doing so. This 
makes no sense, and it is a bad deal not just for our seniors but for 
all taxpayers.
  That is why I introduced the Medicare Prescription Drug Price 
Negotiation Act. This legislation would allow Medicare to directly 
negotiate with drug companies for price discounts. The Federal 
Government would leverage its large market share to negotiate better 
prices for more than 30 million seniors--that is market power--covered 
under Medicare Part D.
  Last and finally, there is the CREATES Act. I worked on this bill 
with Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Grassley, and Senator Mike Lee to 
introduce the bipartisan Creating and Restoring Equal Access to 
Equivalent Samples Act. That is a mouthful, but what it would do is to 
put an end to strategies that delay generic competition and cost 
American consumers billions of dollars.
  To receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration, a generic 
must test its products against the brand name product to establish 
equivalence. You would want that. Without access to brand name samples, 
there can be no generic product.
  For a long time, generic companies would simply buy these samples 
from a wholesaler. Now, some brand name companies prevent generic 
companies from obtaining samples, or the brand name company simply 
refuses to negotiate safety protocols with the generic company. In 
either case, the longer the brand name company can delay the generic 
company's approval, the longer the brand name maintains its monopoly.
  The CREATES Act would allow a generic drug manufacturer facing one of 
these delay tactics to bring an action in Federal court in order to 
obtain the needed samples or stop a branded company from dragging its 
heels on negotiating safety protocols. The bill would also allow a 
Federal judge to award damages in order to deter future delaying 
  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this bill would save 
the government $2.9 billion over 10 years. The savings to consumers and 
private insurance companies would likely be far greater.
  So let's review this, as my colleagues come to the floor. Solution 
No. 1 is to

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allow for safe drugs from Canada. It would bring down the prices and 
would bring in competition. This is a bipartisan bill--Democrats and 
Republicans--that I have with Senator John McCain.
  Solution No. 2 is to allow for more generic competition by passing 
the CREATES Act, which I just mentioned. That bill is with Senators 
Leahy, Grassley, Lee, and myself. That is a bipartisan bill that allows 
for samples to go quickly to the generic companies so they can actually 
create the drugs that will compete and bring the prices down.
  Solution No. 3 is to stop those pay-for-delay deals that are 
unbelievable. That would bring in, according to CBO estimates, $2.9 
billion over 10 years, by saying to the generics and the pharma 
companies: You can't pay each other to stop competition. Competition 
helps consumers.
  And here is the final idea, which I think is the biggest idea: 
negotiation under Medicare Part D. This would finally take the kind of 
negotiation we see at the Veterans Administration, which has brought 
down the prices for the veterans of America, and harness the bargaining 
power of 39 million seniors so that we get better prices.
  These are four ideas, and three of them have Democratic and 
Republican sponsors. I want to vote on these proposals because I 
believe, based on what I saw at our State fair booth--again, with just 
a few days of the cards we received--that these anticompetitive 
practices have to stop and we need to bring down the prices of 
prescription drugs for the hardworking Americans in this country.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lee). The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, first of all, being one of the managers of 
the bill, the WRDA bill that we are all anxious to consider, along with 
Senator Boxer--she and I as well as the leadership, are in agreement, 
that we should take this bill and consider it. I do have a talk I want 
to give concerning the bill but with the understanding that I have been 
asking for amendments to come forward from the Republicans primarily. 
She has done the same with Democrats. I believe there are a number of 
amendments that have come forward. However, the way we are going to run 
this is that any amendments that are going to be considered, No. 1, 
must be germane and, No. 2, have to be acceptable by both managers of 
the bill--Senator Boxer and myself.
  With that, I ask that we move forward on this bill and yield to the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I am in full agreement with the remarks of 
my chairman, Senator Inhofe. Once again, I think we have proven we can 
get this done. We can get infrastructure done. I think the way the 
agreement came together with the two leaders is excellent. We are going 
to go to the bill and any amendments have to be looked at by the two 
managers, and we have to agree before those amendments go into the 
managers' package.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, we have given everyone our amendments. There 
are seven. I think that everything can be worked out on all of them. 
There is one that is relevant to the underlying legislation that is 
offered by the Senator from Connecticut, Mr. Blumenthal. I am not sure 
that I want to go into this deal where both of you have to approve that 
amendment. I think he should at least be allowed to have a vote. We 
have agreed that a half-hour debate on it is plenty, at least on that 
one. If you can't work something out, I want to have a vote on 
Blumenthal. That doesn't sound unreasonable. On six of them, Senator 
Boxer can do what she thinks is appropriate. On Blumenthal, if you 
can't work something out to his satisfaction, I want a half-hour debate 
and a vote on it.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I think we have a broad bipartisan 
agreement here that we would like to pass the bill. Nobody wants to be 
unreasonable. We have heard from both the chairman and the ranking 
member that whatever interest there is in the bill is related to the 
bill. What I am going to propound here is an opportunity for us to get 
onto the bill and to move forward. I think this is as close to a good-
faith situation as I can imagine, and I hope we trust each other enough 
to go forward and complete a bill that almost everybody seems to be in 
favor of. I don't know how to reassure my good friend, the Democratic 
leader, but I hope I have.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I do not understand why we can't have the 
two managers agree that they will do their best to work out these 
amendments of ours and of theirs. But if we can't, I want to at least 
have a vote, and you can vote it down if you have to, but I want to 
make sure that Blumenthal is protected. If we can't work something out, 
then we have a vote on it--one vote.
  Mr. McCONNELL. All I would say is there may well be some votes. I 
would recommend people talk to the chairman and the ranking member, and 
let's process the bill.
  Mr. REID. Why can't we have a vote on Blumenthal? That is all--one 
vote, 30 minutes. If you work it out to satisfaction, we don't need to 
have that vote. What could be more reasonable than that?
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, my understanding about this amendment is 
that it is a jurisdictional dispute between Democratic Senators. I 
think the best way to go is to see if we, Jim and I, can do what we 
have done before when we have had conflict among our colleagues. We 
worked it out with Senators on the other side of the aisle last time we 
did WRDA. We should have a chance. I don't think that----
  Mr. REID. If I can interrupt my friend from California----
  Mrs. BOXER. I will stop.
  Mr. REID. I don't object. Let's go ahead with the bill.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, what is the pending business?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The motion to proceed to S. 2848.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I know of no further debate on the motion to proceed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there further debate?
  Hearing none, the question is on agreeing to the motion to proceed.
  The motion was agreed to.