(Senate - May 22, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 88 (Monday, May 22, 2017)]
[Pages S3051-S3060]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the Branstad 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Terry 
Branstad, of Iowa, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary 
of the United States of America to the People's Republic of China.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the time until 5:30 
p.m. will be equally divided in the usual form.

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The Democratic leader is recognized.

                          Russia Investigation

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, since last week's all-Senators briefing 
with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, some of my friends on the 
other side of the aisle have alleged that his appointment of a special 
counsel impedes the congressional investigation into Russian 
interference in our elections and whether the Trump campaign was 
involved. Nothing could be further from the truth.
  The executive branch investigation under the special counsel looks at 
criminal wrongdoing. The congressional investigation takes a broader 
approach. The two can proceed on parallel tracks, as has happened many 
times in the past. If anything the congressional investigation is doing 
potentially interferes with the special counsel's activities, the two 
parties will discuss it. It is a process called deconfliction. They 
know how to do it. They have done it before. There is no reason 
whatsoever for the congressional investigation to slow down or stop.
  Mr. Mueller's appointment as special counsel in no way diminishes the 
need for Congress to play an active role in helping to get to the 
bottom of all the recent events. Let me repeat. This is our solemn 
constitutional duty, the very bedrock of the separation of powers and 
coequal branches of government designed by our Founding Fathers to 
preserve something we all cherish: American liberty and American 
democracy. Let me outline three things that should happen.
  First, Intelligence Committee Chair Burr and Ranking Member Warner 
should continue to pursue their committee's investigation into these 
matters with just as much vigor. That investigation has been proceeding 
in a bipartisan way, and it absolutely should continue as such. For 
example, my friends Senators Burr and Warner have recently requested 
financial records of key Trump campaign officials from the Treasury 
Department. They should be given that information and continue to 
pursue whatever other avenues they view as helpful to the committee's 
  Second, Mr. Comey should testify in both the Judiciary and the 
Intelligence Committees to discuss the events surrounding his 
dismissal. The committees should be given access to memos he reportedly 
drafted following interactions with President Trump, and Congress 
should also be provided any transcripts or tapes the White House might 
have of Mr. Comey's conversations with President Trump.
  Third, the Intelligence Committee must be provided the details of 
transcripts relating to President Trump's reported disclosure of 
information to the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador. There is a 
great deal of dispute about what was said at that meeting. The 
committee should have access to both Mr. Comey's notes and the White 
House's notes.
  Finally, the Senate must demand the next FBI Director be nonpartisan, 
independent, fearless, and of unimpeachable integrity, just as Mr. 
Mueller is. A career politician of either party or anyone who suggests 
a lack of impartiality should not be considered a fit choice for that 
office. Every one of these, by the way, deals with congressional 
oversight--some directly, like the appointment of an FBI Director; some 
a little

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more indirectly, such as figuring out what exactly was said in the room 
with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador, but all of it is 
clearly within what the Constitution requires and the Founding Fathers 
wanted Congress to be. So the congressional committees have really an 
obligation to our democracy to continue their role.


  Mr. President, on another matter--healthcare. Today, the Trump 
administration delayed for another 90 days their decision on whether to 
defend the administration's position in a lawsuit filed by the House 
Republicans about the cost-sharing payments in the Affordable Care Act. 
It is a decision that greatly increases the uncertainty in our 
healthcare system.
  The cost-sharing program keeps healthcare costs low for working 
Americans and helps insurers stay in the marketplace, giving Americans 
more choices. It keeps the average person's premiums down, keeps their 
deductibles low. It makes it a lot easier for many working Americans to 
afford healthcare. That was its purpose, and it is succeeding in its 
purpose, but by continuing to sow uncertainty about this program, both 
by refusing to defend the lawsuit and by making outright threats to end 
it, the Trump administration has already caused insurers to flee the 
marketplace or propose rate increases for the next year. Let me repeat. 
Right now, the Trump administration's actions are sowing great 
uncertainty that causes insurers to pull out of States and increase 
their costs, making it more likely that working Americans won't be able 
to afford coverage next year.

  A spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans, AHIP, the 
industry's main trade group, said the following, and this is their 
quote, not mine:

       We need swift action and long-term certainty on [the cost-
     sharing program]. It is the single most destabilizing factor 
     in the individual market, and millions of Americans could 
     soon feel the impact of fewer choices, higher costs and 
     reduced access to care.

  The insurance industry itself is saying that the No. 1 thing that 
could be done to keep costs down, to keep other insurers in the 
marketplace, is to make permanent cost sharing.
  President Trump's attempt to blame what is happening on ObamaCare is 
totally contradicted by what the health insurance plans say when it 
comes to cost sharing. So refusing to guarantee the cost-sharing 
payments is sabotage, plain and simple, and the Trump administration 
knows it.
  The administration made the last cost-sharing payment but refuses to 
say they will continue to make them permanently. They know they will 
get blamed for the chaos that would ensue should they end these 
payments. They are afraid to do that. But they also want to threaten 
the stability of the healthcare system in order to get Democrats to 
work with them on their healthcare bill. So what they tried to do is 
have their cake and eat it too. They said: We are going to delay the 
lawsuit, but we are still going to have that uncertainty that hurts 
Americans out there. That is profoundly irresponsible.
  Threatening to defund healthcare in order to win political leverage 
is hostage-taking at its very worst because it holds hostage millions 
of innocent Americans who very much need healthcare costs to be lower 
and affordable. It is already causing massive uncertainty. It will only 
get worse if the administration continues to kick the can down the road 
3 months at a time.
  There is one very simple solution: Instead of delaying the decision 
every 3 months, the White House ought to step up to the plate and say 
once and for all that they will make those payments permanently--
payments which help millions of Americans pay less for their 
healthcare, payments which the insurance industry itself says would 
help stabilize markets and help people gain healthcare.

                         The President's Budget

  Next, Mr. President, on the budget, the President of the United 
States will release his budget for 2018 this week. It could come as 
early as tomorrow. All indications are that it will be similar to his 
skinny budget from earlier this year. I want to remind everyone here in 
the Senate what a disaster that budget would be if it were ever 
implemented by Congress.
  The President told the American people he would help create jobs and 
provide greater economic security for families. This budget does 
exactly the opposite. It is not a jobs budget. It is not an economic 
security budget. It is a budget that takes a meat cleaver to the middle 
class by gutting programs that help them the most, including many that 
create jobs and power the economy. Transportation is cut. Education is 
cut. Programs that promote scientific and medical research are cut. 
Programs that protect clean air and clean water are cut. All of these 
programs are favored by the American people. They have been favored by 
a vast majority of my Republican friends across the aisle. But the 
President's budget is an outlier, way out there. It fits with Mr. 
Mulvaney's beliefs, but he was an outlier in the Congress when he 
called for the government to be shut down and when he wanted to have 
the government play so little a role in helping the middle class. That 
is harmful to America.
  Here is another one that really is worrisome: Recent reports say that 
the President's budget will target Medicaid for significant cuts--as 
large or larger than the $880 billion the House Republicans would cut 
in their TrumpCare bill. This would pull the rug out from so many 
Americans who need help--those suffering from opioid and heroin 
addiction, people in nursing homes and their families who care for 
them, the elderly, the disabled, and children.
  Medicaid has become a middle-class program. Opioid addiction. What 
about a 40- or 50-year-old couple who is trying to raise their kids, 
saving for college, and has a parent who needs to be in a nursing home. 
Right now, Medicaid pays for it. What are they going to do when that is 
cut? They have two choices: Shell a huge amount of money out of their 
own pockets, which they can't afford, or maybe bring mom or dad back 
home, where there may be no room for them. What a horrible choice. What 
a horrible choice. Well, that is what the President is proposing to do 
when he dramatically slashes Medicaid.
  I will repeat. Medicaid helps the very poor, but it also helps the 
middle class, and the majority of its money now seems to go to the 
middle class. I believe something like 60 percent goes to nursing homes 
or some high percentage like that.
  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a cut to Medicaid of 
this size would deprive roughly 10 million Americans of Medicaid 
benefits over the next decade. Medicaid has always benefited the poor, 
and that is a good thing, but I remind my colleagues that it has 
increasingly become a middle-class program. Here is where it goes: 
Medicaid provides benefits for 60 percent of Americans in nursing 
  Listen to this, Mr. President and my colleagues: Medicaid helps 1.75 
million veterans--1 in 10. It provides services for Americans 
struggling with opioid addiction, which is a problem that affects so 
  If the reporting is accurate, these cuts to Medicaid that are in the 
President's budget carry a staggering human cost. Once again, Donald 
Trump is breaking his promise to the working people of America.
  We have seen promise after promise broken as if they did not even 
matter. What he said in the campaign and what he governs as has almost 
no overlap in so many areas. Here is what Candidate Trump said when he 
campaigned: ``I'm not going to cut Social Security like every other 
Republican and I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.'' He promised 
he would help take care of those suffering from opioid addiction. If he 
cuts Medicaid, he is breaking that promise--boom--right in half.
  Candidate Trump campaigned as a populist and said he wanted to help 
the working people, but since he has taken office, he has governed like 
a hard-right conservative, pushing policies that help the uber-wealthy 
at the expense of the middle class. TrumpCare and the budget the 
President will be proposing tomorrow says one thing and does another.
  Many of my Republican friends come from States that have 
significantly expanded their Medicaid Programs over the past few years, 
insuring hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of their 
  Based on what we know about this budget, the good news--the only good 
news--is that it is likely to be roundly rejected by Members of both 

[[Page S3053]]

here in the Senate, just as the last budget was. Democrats and 
Republicans, on the 2017 budget, virtually ignored the President and 
his proposal. We got together, and we compromised. Not everyone got 
everything they wanted, but we produced a budget that America can be 
proud of and one that helps the middle class.
  We have shown Democrats and Republicans, the House and Senate, can 
come together to compromise on appropriations in 2017. We should follow 
that same blueprint in 2018. We should ignore the President's budget 
which would devastate the middle class and instead work across the 
aisle to advance reasonable compromise legislation later this year.
  I yield the floor to my good friend from Texas.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I came to the floor during the last part 
of the remarks of the distinguished Democratic leader, and it just 
reminded me of a headline I saw in this morning's newspaper that just, 
to me, exemplifies how dishonest, sometimes, the way questions are 
framed here when it comes to dealing with our financial 
responsibilities. The headline in the Washington Post talked about 
President Trump's proposal slashing Medicaid, like the Democrats have 
criticized the House healthcare replacement bill slashing Medicaid even 
though, as a factual matter, Medicaid would continue to grow year after 
year after year.
  As the distinguished Presiding Officer and I have previously 
discussed, one question is, What is a responsible rate of Consumer 
Price Index or inflation to deal with medical inflation so that when we 
return Medicaid to the States, spending at let's say 2016 levels, what 
is a responsible rate of continued growth to deal with medical 
inflation so that the States are not left with an unsustainable burden?
  But the idea that spending at current levels, plus an additional 
cost-of-living index year after year after year, means that Medicaid 
spending won't go up every year--next year it will be more than this 
year. The following year it will be more than next year. So only in the 
fevered imagination of, apparently, the headline writers at the 
Washington Post and in some of our Democratic friends could that be 
considered a cut. In the rest of the country, they would consider that 
as Medicaid growing, not being cut.
  It is true that one of the things the House did that I think is an 
important reform of one of our principle entitlement provisions was to 
put some sort of sustainable cap on the growth of spending on 
entitlements, which perviously had been uncapped.
  Some day there is going to be a day of reckoning in this country when 
it comes to spending. We have $20 trillion in debt. We know now that 
the Federal Reserve is loosening its hold on interest rates, that those 
are creeping up, and one of the estimates is that if interest rates due 
to improved economic performance were to reach historic norms, we would 
soon be paying more for interest on the national debt than we would be 
paying for defense spending. That is simply unsustainable, not to 
mention the fact that we would then be essentially appropriating 30 
percent of what the Federal Government spends and leaving 70 percent 
  We can't get the country on a sustainable financial path just dealing 
with 30 percent of what the Federal Government spends, and we need to 
have a serious conversation, not a misleading characterization of the 
problem. We need a serious conversation about the reality facing our 
country and future generations because right now we are spending their 
inheritance, so to speak. In other words, I consider it an act of 
immorality for me to be spending money and forcing my children and 
future generations to pay it back. That is just not fair to them, and 
we need to come to grips with that sooner rather than later.

                  North American Free Trade Agreement

  Mr. President, on another note, last week, the administration sent 
official notice to Congress of its intent to renegotiate the North 
American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. It was a big part of President 
Trump's campaign platform that the United States needed smarter, fairer 
trade deals that benefit more Americans. I certainly agree with that 
  I do think, in some quarters, NAFTA has been unfairly maligned. But 
it is true that it is 23 years old, and it needs to be modernized. I 
think all of us can rally around that, consistent with the principle in 
President Trump's campaign that America needs smarter, fairer trade 
deals that benefit more Americans.
  Free trade has, after all, been a boon to the American economy--and 
certainly the Texas economy because we are the No. 1 exporting State in 
the Nation. Our farmers, ranchers, and small business owners have 
benefited from trade agreements, particularly NAFTA, that help them 
send more of the products they raise, grow, and build to more markets 
around the world, principally to Canada and Mexico; but certainly, 
other trade agreements allow those manufactured goods, stock raised, 
and produce grown to go to markets around the world.
  We comprise in America about 5 percent of the potential markets in 
the world, so 95 percent is the rest of the world and a market to buy 
the things we make and grow and raise here. Why not help create more 
jobs and a stronger economy here at home by encouraging that kind of 
free and fair trade?
  There has been significant growth in exports since NAFTA was agreed 
to 23 years ago. Of course, Mexico continues to be an important 
economic partner, helping my State, Texas, grow and specifically 
creating a vibrant ecosystem along the border, but the rest of the 
country benefits too.
  The national Chamber of Commerce estimates that there are 5 million 
American jobs as a result of binational trade with Mexico. With Canada, 
it is about 8 million. Why in the world would we want to do anything to 
jeopardize that? I suggest we don't.
  Free trade doesn't just mean more opportunities for our agricultural 
sector or business owners, but it also helps American families buy more 
affordable products here at home, too, and that is why we need to make 
sure that any changes to NAFTA are improvements to the overall 
  I was encouraged just this last week when Ambassador Lighthizer, the 
U.S. Trade Representative, and Secretary of Commerce Ross met with 
members of the Senate Finance Committee. Essentially, what they said is 
that their first principle, when it comes to renegotiating NAFTA, is to 
do no harm. That is a pretty good rule of thumb. In fact, it reminds me 
of the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take when treating patients: 
First, do no harm. Well, I believe that is a good place to start.
  Over the last two decades under this agreement, the economy in my 
State of Texas--which has been the engine that has been pulling the 
national economy in many respects--has grown significantly because of 
the tremendous access afforded by trade. We have to be careful not to 
do any harm to that and to look for ways to improve it.
  There is no denying that this agreement is an old one created well 
before the digital and global economy of today. It was written before 
the energy renaissance in North America occurred, whereby instead of 
peak energy production--which is what we thought we had reached--we now 
have so much natural gas and oil that we export it to the world. That 
is great for jobs here at home. It is great to be able to do that for 
our allies around the world who need a dependable, alternative supply 
of energy in many respects, rather than being the victims of energy 
being used as a weapon against them. So the energy renaissance is 
another good reason that updating NAFTA makes sense.
  I look forward to working with the President and his team to take 
great care that any efforts to modernize NAFTA don't sacrifice the 
benefits we have enjoyed for the last two decades. Hopefully, we can 
modernize it in a way that will allow more Americans to take advantage 
of it, and our economy will continue to grow and prosper as a result.

                         Healthcare Legislation

  Mr. President, on another matter, as we all know, this Chamber 
continues to consider the best way forward to repeal and replace 
ObamaCare. The entire Republican Conference, all 52 of us, have been 
meeting regularly in small groups and larger groups so we can finally 
put ObamaCare behind us. I have to say it is a shame that none of our 

[[Page S3054]]

colleagues appear willing to lift a finger to help us do that, even 
though they know that ObamaCare is in meltdown mode.
  We have promised multiple times, at least in the last three 
elections, to do away with this disaster of a healthcare law so that 
American families can get the healthcare they need at a price they can 
afford. This isn't just a talking point. This is our goal. This is our 
  When I said that ObamaCare has been a failure, I am reminded of a 
letter written to me by one of my constituents from the Dallas-Fort 
Worth area. This gentleman is a small business owner. Since the 
implementation of ObamaCare, he has had to change his insurance each 
year, and every time, his rates have increased. He estimates they had 
gone up from roughly $350 a month now to $800 a month, not to mention 
his out-of-pocket costs. They have skyrocketed from $3,500 to $14,000. 
That is not affordable healthcare. At that price, I can't imagine it 
does him much good at all, particularly when you couple those high 
premiums with higher deductibles, in many instances $6,000 or more for 
the deductible alone. So even though you are paying premiums for 
insurance and those premiums are going up every year, you still have 
such a high deductible that it effectively makes you self-insured, and 
you don't benefit from the insurance you actually have.
  The first time this gentleman was forced to change his healthcare 
plan was because his insurance carrier completely pulled out of the 
marketplace, and that is something we are hearing across the country. 
It is not just a Texas phenomenon. I imagine there are similar stories 
in States like Indiana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, 
and Montana, just to mention a few. It is simply proof that the 
ObamaCare experiment is a failure, and the government-mandated, one-
size-fits-all approach to healthcare doesn't work very well.
  The next year, this same gentleman went with a different insurance 
company, but they canceled the plan he was already on. Then that 
insurance company pulled all individual healthcare plans from the 
State, so he had to find another health insurance plan.
  That is not where the bad news ends. The doctor he has had for 20 
years didn't accept the new health insurance plan, so instead of 
finding a new doctor, which he didn't want to do, he is now paying out 
of pocket so that he can keep the doctor he wants.
  Remember what President Obama said countless times: If you like your 
plan, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep your 
doctor. He said that a family of four would find, on average, a savings 
of $2,500 a year in their health insurance premiums. None of that has 
proved to be true. This is an experiment that has ended in failure. It 
didn't turn out to be the case for this constituent of mine; each time 
his plan changed, he saw a price increase and a coverage decrease.
  Even if Hillary Clinton had been elected President of the United 
States, we would still need to revisit the failures of ObamaCare 
because the situation is simply not sustainable for roughly about 11 
million people--about 6 percent of the people who get their insurance 
in the individual market.
  In spite of knowing that many of their constituents are being hurt by 
the failures of ObamaCare, our Democratic colleagues--even though they 
know it--refuse to do anything about it. Again, we invite them to work 
with us, not for our benefit but for the benefit of the people they 
  This is not making life any easier for my constituents in Texas, and 
I am confident that is the case for people across the country. That is 
why our efforts to replace ObamaCare are so important, and that is why 
we will keep fighting to get it done because families across the 
country need access to quality healthcare they can afford that is not 
chosen for them but is what they choose because it suits their needs.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that all quorum calls until 
5:30 p.m. today be equally divided.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. CORNYN. 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. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                   Recognition of the Majority Leader

  The majority leader is recognized.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, last week, we confirmed two well-
qualified nominees, Jeffrey Rosen as Deputy Secretary of Transportation 
and Rachel Brand as Associate Attorney General, and today we will have 
an opportunity to confirm another excellent nominee, Gov. Terry 
Branstad to be U.S. Ambassador to China.
  While I am pleased the Senate is working to fill these important 
positions, it has been disappointing to see so much pointless 
obstruction by our friends across the aisle. They have continuously 
forced procedural hurdles on nominees for no other reason than to stall 
confirmations, launching more filibusters against this President's 
Cabinet than any other in history. They have done so not to change the 
result but simply to eat up floor time that could be used for 
legislation to help our constituents.
  Take the floor vote they forced last week on the Branstad nomination. 
The Senate voted overwhelmingly, 86 to 12, on that motion, proving once 
again that our Democratic colleagues' tactics have little to do with 
the nominees themselves but are just delaying for delay's sake. It is 
really past time to stop the games.
  Once confirmed as Ambassador to China, Governor Branstad will be 
tasked with a portfolio that is important not only for our diplomatic 
relationship with China but also for our trade policies with that 
country. He has earned the support of Senators on both sides of the 
aisle and was reported out of the Foreign Relations Committee by a 
voice vote.
  Having served as the Governor of Iowa for more than two decades, 
Branstad has developed a strong understanding of agriculture, trade, 
and other key national interests. His experience on these issues will 
guide him as he works to strengthen our relationship with China and 
pursue trade policies that can benefit American workers and businesses. 
I look forward to confirming him as our Nation's next Ambassador to 
China so he can get started on the important tasks before him.

                      Nomination of John Sullivan

  Mr. President, after we confirm Governor Branstad, we will vote to 
advance another well-qualified nominee to serve as our Nation's Deputy 
Secretary of State, John J. Sullivan. It is both a critical and 
challenging role, but Mr. Sullivan's extensive background has prepared 
him for the task ahead. Through the years, he has worked at the Defense 
Department and the Justice Department. He also served as the Deputy 
Secretary of Commerce. I am confident that his experience will serve 
him well as he works as a key adviser to Secretary Tillerson and helps 
lead our Nation in addressing the range of security issues we face. We 
look forward to confirming him soon.
  Having these key officials in place at the State Department is of 
great importance as we work with the administration on shaping our 
foreign policy and strengthening our posture in the international 

                   The President's International Trip

  As we know, the President is currently traveling on his first 
international trip as our Commander in Chief. The trip provides the 
President with an important opportunity to engage with key allies, 
discuss our shared interests, and continue conversations on issues 
where we can work together in the future. So we wish the President and 
the First Lady both a successful trip and safe travels as they return 
to the United States later this week.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that all quorum calls until 
5:30 p.m. today be equally divided.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Arkansas.

                       National Drug Court Month

  Mr. BOOZMAN. Mr. President, I rise to recognize National Drug Court 
Month and show my support for the positive impact drug courts have on 
cutting crime, saving money, and restoring lives.
  I have seen firsthand the impact of drug courts in Arkansas. This 

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approach has helped many Arkansans suffering from drug and alcohol 
abuse who have received the treatment and services they need to turn 
their lives around. For more than two decades, these courts have 
offered Arkansas' drug-addicted, nonviolent offenders an alternative to 
jail while rehabilitating them through a strenuous treatment program.
  We have nearly 90 specialty courts in Arkansas that are providing 
lifesaving treatment to more than 3,000 individuals with substance use 
disorders, and the results are impressive. Our State saves $45 million 
each year by diverting these offenders from prison to drug courts. 
Ninety percent of Arkansas drug court participants' drug tests come 
back negative for illegal substances, compared to 64 percent of those 
on probation and parole.
  Drug courts are a critical component of today's criminal justice 
system. They have proven to be an effective alternative to jail for 
individuals convicted of nonviolent drug charges. Holding offenders 
with substance use and mental health disorders accountable through 
strict supervision and treatment, drug courts and veterans treatment 
courts have saved taxpayer dollars and the lives of more than 1.5 
million people, including a remarkable man I recently met who shared 
his story.
  Blayne was facing 20 years in prison because of crimes he had 
committed to support a 10-year addiction to prescription opioids. This 
epidemic currently takes 94 American lives every single day, but Blayne 
is one of the lucky ones. His community had a drug court. The drug 
court program gave him the tools he needed to stop using drugs and 
helped him reconnect with his family, find employment, and get his life 
back on track.
  Instead of sitting in a jail cell on the taxpayers' dime, he is 
working as a teacher. Instead of breaking into homes, he owns one. 
Today, Blayne is a dedicated family man. He told me: ``Drug court was a 
chance to become the father and husband that I wanted to be.''
  His story is similar to hundreds of Arkansans who have drug courts to 
thank for turning their lives around. An Arkansas drug court gave a 
woman named Sammy a second chance. She became addicted to painkillers 
at the age of 22 when she suffered a back injury. Her addiction led her 
down a very dangerous path, where she also started using meth every 
day. It also led her into the criminal justice system, and she was 
facing 20 years in prison. Drug court helped Sammy change her 
lifestyle. Now she is a positive role model for her children, holding 
down a full-time job and giving back to her community.
  This is the power drug courts and other treatment courts have that 
change lives, heal families, and save money. The success of drug 
treatment courts has become a model tailored to the needs of different 
groups from veterans to juveniles. The willingness of the judicial 
system to adopt alternative methods to jail time is a cost-effective 
approach to changing the habits of drug addicts and saving the lives of 
people like Blayne and Sammy.
  As Washington pursues options for criminal justice reform, drug 
courts are a great example of a program that works. More than 25 years 
of research has proven they reduce crime and substance abuse, break the 
vicious cycle of recidivism, and keep families together.
  In Arkansas and every other State in the country, drug courts are 
making a real difference. I want to recognize and thank the more than 
30,000 drug court judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment 
providers, probation officers, court administrators, and other 
professionals who are on the frontlines of providing a path to 
recovery. As we recognize National Drug Court Month, this is a great 
opportunity to show our commitment for the Drug Court Discretionary 
Grant Program and the Veterans Treatment Court Initiative at the 
Department of Justice. While there are 150,000 Americans being served 
by drug courts and veterans treatment courts today, there are more than 
1 million individuals in our justice system who do not yet have access 
to these lifesaving programs.
  I ask you to join me in supporting resources for these programs to 
improve public safety, save taxpayer dollars, and, most importantly, 
save lives.
  With that, I yield back.
  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. President, the United States' relationship with 
China is one of our most complicated and consequential in the world. 
The United States must maintain a constructive partnership with China 
to address global threats ranging from climate change to North Korea's 
nuclear program. While our interests are often at odds, our 
relationship with China must be built on respect, not rebuffs--on tact, 
not tweets.
  On the campaign trail, President Trump's rhetoric about China was as 
caustic as it was hollow. He claimed that climate change was a ``hoax 
perpetrated by the Chinese.'' He contended that we could not ``continue 
to allow China to rape our country.'' He declared China was ``our 
enemy'' and that he would direct the Treasury Department to label China 
a currency manipulator on his first day in office. He said he would not 
honor the ``one China policy'' without extracting concessions from the 
Chinese on trade. None of these threats materialized when Trump assumed 
office, of course. When rhetoric met reality, Trump retreated.
  Even while he railed against China during his campaign, Trump 
simultaneously extolled his deep financial ties with the country. He 
credited the Chinese for much of his own personal fortune, saying, 
``I've made a lot of money with China,'' and ``I do great with China, I 
sell them condos, I have the largest bank in the world from China, the 
largest in the world by far. They're a tenant of mine in a building I 
own in Manhattan.''
  Trump is the only President in modern history who has not divested 
his financial holdings or established a blind trust, and his financial 
entanglements with China have grown since his inauguration. Earlier 
this year, China gave the Trump Organization preliminary approval for 
38 trademarks, paving the way for the President and his family to 
develop a host of branded business from hotels, to insurance, to 
bodyguard and escort services. On the very same night that Ivanka Trump 
and Jared Kushner dined with Chinese President Xi at Mar-a-Lago, China 
granted Ivanka Trump's company three new trademarks. All of this points 
to the very real possibility that Trump and his family are using the 
Presidency to increase their personal profit, in violation of the 
Constitution, and that the-Chinese are accommodating them.
  Governor Terry Branstad is far from an ideal choice for the U.S. 
Ambassador to China. His record on labor rights is deeply troubling, 
including his decision earlier this year to sign into law a bill that 
dramatically scales back the rights of workers to bargain collectively 
for their health insurance, evaluation procedures, and supplemental 
  However, in an administration that has put forward few qualified 
candidates for public office, Governor Branstad possesses some of the 
experience required for this critical diplomatic post. Governor 
Branstad has worked with the Chinese and with Chinese President Xi 
specifically for several decades. In his testimony before the Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee, he alleged he would use this longstanding 
relationship to press President Xi on the North Korean nuclear threat. 
He acknowledged the importance of opening Chinese markets to U.S. goods 
while recognizing the need to hold them accountable for unfair trade 
practices. He claimed that he would promote American values abroad, 
including human rights, the importance of a free press, and a rules-
based international order.
  Governor Branstad's recognition of the importance of these basic 
American values, values President Trump himself does not acknowledge, 
is vital in our engagements with China and countries around the world. 
Governor Branstad's longstanding relationships in China suggest he may 
be more responsible and disciplined in his statements and behavior than 
President Trump. Given the vast array of global issues that require 
China's cooperation, I hope Governor Branstad remains faithful to his 
testimony and attempts to foster a productive relationship with China. 
For these reasons, I support his nomination for U.S. Ambassador to 
  Mr. YOUNG. Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

[[Page S3056]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Ernst). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                                Stop Act

  Mr. PORTMAN. Madam President, I came to the floor last week to talk 
about our police officers. It was during Police Week. We talked about 
the bravery and heroism of our officers back home. I talked about 
tragic stories of police officers who were gunned down in the line of 
duty and talked about what they do for us every day.
  Today I want to talk about an issue that is endangering their lives 
and the lives of so many in our communities but specifically law 
enforcement. This happens in every single State represented in this 
Chamber. This danger is this new epidemic of synthetic heroin, of 
  We know more about heroin and prescription drugs. Now we have these 
synthetic heroins coming in that are even more powerful. Being a police 
officer has always been a tough job, but it is becoming riskier today 
because of this. Some people have heard it as carfentanil or fentanyl 
or U4. Most of this synthetic poison coming into our communities is 
coming through the mail system. It is coming from overseas, primarily 
from China, where they have laboratories, where some evil scientist is 
mixing up this chemical mix and sending it over here into our 
  Let me tell you about something that happened last Friday in East 
Liverpool, OH. Some of you may know the name ``East Liverpool'' because 
it is the same city where there was a photograph that went viral on the 
Internet of a couple who had overdosed in the front of a car, with 
their 3-year-old grandson in a car seat behind them. It showed the 
grandson, and it showed the two who had overdosed passed out in the 
front of the car.
  In this same town of East Liverpool, OH, an officer by the name of 
Chris Green pulled over a car in a routine traffic stop. As he came up 
to the car, he noticed there was white powder sprinkled around the car. 
He took the appropriate precautions. He put on his gloves, he put on a 
mask, and he began to deal with the situation at hand. The people in 
the car apparently had spread the powder to try to avoid it being 
detected, but it was easily detectible.
  At the end of his arrest process, there was a small amount of powder 
that was left on his jacket, which he did not notice. He went back to 
the police station. When he got there, he noticed the powder on his 
shirt and instinctively he went like this to get the powder off of his 
shirt. This small amount of powder touching his hand caused him to 
overdose. Officer Green is not a small guy; he is about 6 feet 3 
inches, 225 pounds. He is a big, strong police officer who overdosed 
just by trying to get a few flakes of powder off of his jacket. Why? 
Because this fentanyl is so powerful. It is so deadly.
  Fortunately, his fellow police officers were able to save his life 
with naloxone. This is a miracle drug which reverses the effects of an 
overdose and which is being used on our streets every single day to 
save people from dying from overdoses. In this case, it was used to 
keep a police officer who was doing his duty and who had simply tried 
to get a few flakes of powder off of his uniform from dying of an 
  East Liverpool police chief John Lane put it this way:

       If he had been alone, he'd be dead. That's how dangerous 
     this stuff is.

  Chief Lane later made the point that if Officer Green had gone home 
in that shirt and unknowingly had this powder on his shirt or his 
jacket, he could have endangered the lives of his family. That is a 
scary thought. Obviously, that is true. That is how deadly these drugs 
  It only takes a few milligrams, just a few specks, to kill you. This 
chart will show you how much it takes. Here you see that 10 milligrams 
of carfentanil is powerful enough to sedate a 15,000-pound elephant. 
Here is the carfentanil over here, as shown on this chart. You will see 
why a fatal dose can be a very, very small amount--30 milligrams for 
heroin, 3 milligrams for fentanyl, even less than 3 milligrams for 
  By the way, for those of you at home, if you look at a penny, you 
will see Abraham Lincoln's profile on one side of it. The deadly dose 
of fentanyl that we are talking about here is enough to only cover up 
the face of Abraham Lincoln on a penny. That is how little we are 
talking about and how deadly this stuff is. You can see why our law 
enforcement officers are so concerned about this.
  Officer Green is not the only one to experience this. There was a 
famous case last year where two officers in Atlantic County, NJ--
Detective Dan Kallen and Detective Eric Price--overdosed on fentanyl 
just by breathing fentanyl in the air at a crime scene. As some of you 
have heard, fentanyl is so dangerous that they are afraid to use dogs 
to try to sniff it out because just by trying to sniff these packages 
to see whether fentanyl is included in them, the dogs could overdose 
and die. Fentanyl is dangerous stuff.

  By the way, it is taking up more and more of the resources of our 
police officers and other first responders. Earlier this year, I came 
to the floor and talked about Officer Ben Rhodes of Chillicothe, OH. 
Last year Officer Rhodes reversed more than 50 drug overdoses. This is 
one officer in one small town.
  Talk to the firefighters in your community and ask them whether they 
go on more fire runs or more heroin and fentanyl and carfentanil 
overdose runs. I almost guarantee you they will say they go on more 
overdose runs. As a result, in some communities, those firefighters are 
not there to be able to protect us as you would typically think from 
the fires that still continue to be a major problem. So this is a real 
issue. It is taking up more and more of their time and more resources 
and causing more and more crime.
  On Thursday, in Middletown, OH, which is a town in Southern Ohio, a 
family was getting ready to leave the house. In fact, they had already 
strapped their 3-month-old baby into a car seat. It is not clear 
whether they had shot up with heroin before they put the baby in the 
car seat or after, but they went back into the house and they overdosed 
in the house. They had the baby in the car seat in the car. They 
overdosed in the home.
  They have another son who is 5 years old. He ran out of the house 
barefoot. He went to a neighbor's house, to his stepfather's home, 
which is a few blocks away, and yelled at the door: Mom and dad are 
dead. Mom and dad are dead.
  The grandfather called the police, and they rushed to the scene. They 
were able to revive the boy's dad with naloxone. They used seven doses 
of naloxone on the mother, but she still couldn't wake up. From talking 
to police officers about this, they tell me that there is a very good 
sign this involved fentanyl, perhaps carfentanil, because after two, 
three, four, five, six, seven doses of naxolone, she still could not be 
revived. Fortunately, the police rushed her to the hospital, where they 
were finally able to bring her back.
  Again, this is what police officers are facing every day in my home 
State of Ohio, in your State, in your community.
  After this incident, the Middletown Police said on Facebook:

       It has to stop. Please get help before it's too late. Not 
     only to save yourself, but to save your kids. Give these kids 
     a chance by getting help. If you or someone you love has a 
     drug problem, please seek help right now.

  This is a cry from our police officers saying that this can't 
  Talk to the firefighters and police officers who have administered 
naloxone to the same individual time and time again, overdose after 
overdose. These brave officers and police officers around the country 
are feeling overwhelmed.
  Drug overdoses are now the No. 1 cause of accidental death in the 
United States of America. It has now surpassed car accidents. It has 
way surpassed gun violence. In the last 3 years, more Americans have 
died of drug overdoses than died in the Vietnam war. More Americans are 
dying of drug overdoses now than died of AIDS at the peak of the AIDS 
epidemic in 1995. This year, 2017, more people will die from overdoses 
from opioids than died from AIDS at the peak in 1995--another tragedy. 
According to an article in the New

[[Page S3057]]

York Times, more than four times as many people are dying every day 
from this epidemic than were dying of drug overdoses at the peak of the 
crack cocaine epidemic. When I say it is the worst drug crisis we have 
faced in this country and that it is an epidemic, that is not 
overstating it.
  The Fraternal Order of Police and the Major County Sheriffs of 
America are actually focused on this issue, and they want better tools 
to be able to at least try to stop some of this poison--the fentanyl 
and the carfentanil--from coming into our communities.
  I mentioned earlier the fact that this actually comes by the mail 
system. Unbelievable. It doesn't come by all mail systems. It comes 
through the U.S. mail system, as opposed to the private carriers, such 
as FedEx, UPS, DHL, or others. One reason is because our mail system in 
the United States does not require the kind of advanced notice of where 
the package is from, what is in it, and where it is going that the 
private carriers require. So where do the traffickers go? They go to 
our mail service, the U.S. Postal Service, and the postal service in 
the country that interacts with and connects with our postal service.
  This is why the Fraternal Order of Police, the Major County Sheriffs 
of America, and other law enforcement are saying: Help us by passing 
legislation called the STOP Act. The STOP Act is to help stop 
traffickers from bringing these deadly poisons into our communities, 
the kind of stuff that caused Officer Green to overdose.
  Fentanyl and these other synthetic drugs are not just coming in from 
overseas; they are coming in through our mail system. What we are 
saying in the STOP Act is, let's close the loophole. Let's say that the 
mail system in the United States has to say the same thing that other 
private carriers say, which is, if you want to ship something through 
our system, that is fine, but you have to tell us what is in it. You 
have to tell us where it is from and where it is going. Otherwise, they 
can't effectively stop these packages. It is like finding a needle in a 
  I talked earlier about the difficulty of detecting it and how 
poisonous it is, and sniffing dogs can't be used because of the 
potential of them overdosing and dying. It is also very difficult for 
our officers to find these packages without some information. Expert 
testimony, including that from the Secretary of Homeland Security, 
General Kelly, from Customs and Border Protection, and from the folks 
at DEA all reach the same conclusion, which is that this policy change 
would make it easier for law enforcement to detect suspicious packages 
of fentanyl, carfentanil, and other synthetic drugs and help keep this 
poison out of our country.
  Support for this legislation is bipartisan, and it is growing. We now 
have 16 cosponsors in the Senate--8 Democrats and 8 Republicans. 
Completely bipartisan. In the House, Congressman Pat Tiberi of Ohio and 
Richard Neal of Massachusetts--a Republican and a Democrat--have 
introduced bipartisan companion legislation. They now have 128 
cosponsors. Support is building. It is an obvious way to help push 
back. Is it the silver bullet? No. There is not one silver bullet. We 
need to do more in terms of prevention, treatment, and recovery, and 
help our law enforcement more to make sure they have naloxone to be 
able to save lives.
  At least, let's stop some of this poison from coming in, and let's at 
least increase the cost of the fentanyl because one reason you see this 
big increase in overdoses from fentanyl and carfentanil and traffickers 
using more of it is because of the cost. At the very least, by helping 
our law enforcement, giving them the tools they need, we can stop some 
of it and increase the cost on the street.

  I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the STOP Act. We have a 
hearing on this legislation on Thursday of this week in the Permanent 
Subcommittee on Investigations. We have experts coming in--law 
enforcement officers who care a lot about their colleagues. They talk 
about what a danger this is to them, what a danger this is to our 
communities. It is time for us in the U.S. Senate to stand up and take 
this important step, not the silver bullet but the important step to be 
able to help save lives and make our communities safer.
  Thank you, Madam President.
  Mr. NELSON. Madam President, will the Senator from Ohio yield for a 
  Mr. PORTMAN. Absolutely.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. NELSON. Thank you, Madam President.
  I say to the Senator, I appreciate what he is doing. I am a supporter 
and one of the cosponsors of his bill. This fentanyl problem is just 
devastating communities all over the country, including in my State of 
  What was surprising to me to find out was that fentanyl is so much 
more addictive and so much more lethal than so many others of these 
drugs that ultimately lead to a person becoming addicted so badly that 
they just crave fentanyl.
  I appreciate very much what he has spoken about and given leadership 
to. I just want him to know there are a lot of us who are trying to 
raise the flags of awareness of this situation before it is too late.
  Mr. PORTMAN. I thank my colleague from Florida. He has been a 
stalwart on this issue. We have never made this a partisan issue, have 
we. We always kept this a bipartisan issue because this is a danger to 
our country, our communities--all Americans. The Senator is absolutely 
right. It is 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. A flew flakes 
can kill you, as you see here.
  It is absolutely necessary we figure out a way together, as 
Republicans and Democrats. With the recovery efforts the Senator 
supported and the Cures Act he already supported, this is the next 
logical step to deal with the new threat, which is this synthetic 
heroin coming to our country.
  I thank my colleague from Florida.
  I yield back.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Moran). The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. NELSON. In passing, I would say to the Senator from Ohio, what 
was so surprising to me was, just a few grains of this deadly drug, 
just by being touched by someone, is absorbed into the system through 
the skin, and it can be lethal--just that innocent act of touching a 
few grains. So, indeed, we have to get our arms around this problem.


  Mr. President, I want to address the Senate on a different subject. 
If you will recall the devastating earthquake in this little country of 
Haiti--the poorest nation in the entire Western Hemisphere--you can 
imagine what that earthquake did. Just as people are beginning to get 
their lives back together, here comes a hurricane, and it devastates 
even more. As a result, over the course of those years, a number of 
Haitians were admitted into the United States under TPS, temporary 
protected status. That is a special entry into the United States, 
usually because of a natural catastrophe that has occurred in another 
nation in the world, but it is with the understanding that, indeed, as 
the first word of TPS says, it is ``temporary.''
  So into the United States--allowing some relief on all of the 
stresses on the local economy and the government because of that 
devastating earthquake, and then later the hurricane on top of it--are 
approximately just less than 60,000 Haitians here legally on TPS. So 
the Government of the United States is making a decision and has just 
announced earlier today that it will extend TPS. I might say, that is a 
bipartisan request from many of us from the Florida delegation--to 
extend TPS until the nation of Haiti can, in fact, absorb 60,000 people 
back into its little island economy.
  These are people who generally want to go back. Their families are 
there. These are people who have now earned a substantial savings that 
they send back as remittances to their families. These are people with 
skills that Haiti, as it continues to rebuild from a poverty-stricken 
nation, will want to have back because of their skills.
  I might say that when I knew the Department of Homeland Security was 
considering this--whether to revoke the TPS status or to extend it--I 
felt quite confident that the Secretary of DHS, General Kelly, the 
former commander of Southcom, the U.S. Southern Command--that in his 3-
year stint as commander of Southcom, he in fact would understand all 
the nuances because he had lived with that problem. He understood it. 
He understood not

[[Page S3058]]

only TPS for the Haitians, but he also understood the TPS that even 
years before had been given to a number of Central Americans when they 
came into the country under temporary protected status, which they 
likewise had been extended, and that status has not been revoked. I 
felt quite confident that General Kelly, as the Secretary of DHS, would 
extend TPS from ordering immediate removal to the Nation of Haiti of 
60,000 people. Indeed, General Kelly announced that decision earlier 
today, and he has granted a 6-month extension.
  Now, therein lies the problem. I have just spoken to General Kelly, 
who is really a tremendous, lifelong marine, very decorated, a true 
hero. He is someone that has comported with his duties, whatever it has 
been in his service to America, in the most exemplary manner. What I 
wanted to discuss with General Kelly was that there is just no way in 6 
months that the Nation of Haiti can absorb 60,000 of its people back. 
It would be like trying to swallow a bite of food that is way too big 
in order to do it.
  So what I urged General Kelly after this announcement was made, which 
has caused alarm in the Haitian-American community--it certainly caused 
alarm in the nation of Haiti, the Government of Haiti. Indeed, the 
Ambassador was asking for an extension of at least 18 months. I don't 
think it is out of the question that General Kelly will consider that. 
Therefore, I asked him to please confer with the leadership in the 
Haitian-American community in South Florida, a community he is well 
aware of since he lived in Miami for 3 years as the commander of U.S. 
Southern Command. I think he will follow that suggestion and meet in 
the not-too-distant future with the leaders.
  General Kelly also told me he was planning a trip to Haiti to discuss 
this directly with the Government of Haiti. That is important because 
how can they reasonably absorb them back into society, utilize their 
skills--and over what period of time can that be done? Therefore, I 
commend General Kelly, the Secretary of DHS, on the way he has 
approached it. I would urge our Haitian-American communities in America 
to just be patient. Understand that General Kelly is going to do a 
comprehensive overview and that in 6 months, come January, suddenly 
60,000 people are not going to be kicked out of the country.
  The truth is, I am not sure the Government of the United States knows 
exactly where all the 60,000 are. So that is going to be another 
question of locating them, once the decision is made, which this 
Senator has certainly urged at least 18 months before that would start. 
I have spoken to the Haitian Ambassador. He told me it is a newly 
formed government in Haiti and is working on a plan to further rebuild 
and develop the country so its people can make their lives there again. 
They have asked for the extension of TPS up to 18 months while they 
continue to rebuild. I think that by Secretary Kelly indicating he is 
going to Haiti very soon, that he has indicated he is going to 
reconsider the decision that was made about 6 months, suddenly revoking 
all of their TPS status. As Haiti continues to rebuild, repatriating 
60,000 Haitians here in the United States needs to be pursued according 
to a plan that will not destabilize the new government's efforts.
  Remember, this is a government that had a temporary government 
because there was a question about chicanery in the election. There was 
actually a temporary President that governed the country, and then new 
elections were held with an overwhelming winner who is now the 
President of Haiti. So in this newly formed government, you don't want 
to destabilize their efforts, which would divert precious resources to 
just reintegrating the people who would be sent back from the United 
States. It could cause a severe overburden on the government. 
Therefore, what this Senator is asking for--what I think, at the end of 
the day, will probably be 18 months, given that time, and then start an 
orderly transition of those TPS Haitians back to their own country.
  Thus, the United States can continue to be focused on helping Haiti 
recover from all of these disasters they have suffered. Therefore, I 
feel quite confident Secretary Kelly will do that.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.
  Mrs. ERNST. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that if the 
Branstad nomination is confirmed, the motion to reconsider be 
considered made and laid upon the table, and the President be 
immediately notified of the Senate's action.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mrs. ERNST. Mr. President, I rise today to encourage my colleagues to 
support Iowa Governor Terry Branstad's nomination to be U.S. Ambassador 
to the People's Republic of China. The position of U.S. Ambassador to 
China is one of the most important ambassadorial positions in the 
world. I am confident that my friend and Governor, Terry Branstad, is 
the right person for the job.
  Having worked alongside the Governor for many years, I know he will 
exemplify the same leadership, thoughtfulness, and dedication in his 
role as Ambassador to China on behalf of the United States as he did 
for the people of Iowa. Importantly, Governor Branstad also knows China 
and its leaders well. He first met President Xi Jinping while he was 
visiting Iowa on an agricultural research trip in 1985.
  They have kept in touch over the years, and Governor Branstad has 
visited China a number of times on behalf of the State of Iowa. Iowa's 
extensive trade relationship with China has given Governor Branstad a 
front-seat view of the complexities of our country's broader trade and 
economic relationship with China and will provide him with the 
foundation to effectively advocate for U.S. interests, as evidenced by 
his successful confirmation before the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee, which approved his nomination by voice vote.
  Governor Branstad will not only work tirelessly to foster our trade 
and economic interests with China, but he is also prepared to tackle 
the many other complex, bilateral issues we have with China, from North 
Korea to the South China Sea to human rights. It has been an honor to 
serve the people of Iowa alongside Governor Branstad, the longest 
serving Governor in U.S. history, and I am thrilled to continue to work 
with him in his new role serving the American people.
  I thank Governor Branstad for his service to Iowa, and I wish him and 
his family the best as they prepare to depart for Beijing.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I join the Senator from Iowa in supporting 
Governor Branstad as our next Ambassador to China. I have the 
opportunity of being the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee. I knew of Governor Branstad's reputation as the 
Governor of Iowa--that he was well thought of and that his leadership 
was recognized not only by the people of his State but in our Nation.
  So I was, before the nomination was made, impressed by his dedication 
to public service. I then had a chance to meet with him in my office. I 
must tell you that I was extremely impressed about how he was prepared 
to move on to be the Ambassador to China and how he spoke in favor of 
our strong ideals.
  We then had a confirmation hearing in our committee, and that very 
much confirmed his knowledge of the challenges that he has, his 
dedication to public service, and that he would be a strong advocate 
for American values. So I support his nomination and I urge my 
colleagues to confirm Governor Branstad. As Senator Ernst pointed out, 
our mission in China is a particularly important international 
  We know that China plays a significant role--maybe even a dominating 
role--in regard to North Korea and in trying to get North Korea to give 
up its nuclear arsenal. We also know that China has a very checkered 
record on protecting the human rights of its own citizens. We have 
major trade issues between the United States and China, in which our 
Ambassador needs to be engaged to protect American commercial 
  We have the continuing saga between Taiwan and China and living up to 
our commitments to protect the integrity of Taiwan. Then, we have a 
very dangerous situation in the South China

[[Page S3059]]

Sea, where China has done many provocative activities that will require 
the diplomacy of our Ambassador in Beijing in order to encourage the 
use of the rule of law in direct negotiations between the parties and 
not claiming territory by provocative actions.
  So, for all of those issues, we need an experienced Ambassador in 
China to represent our interests. What really impressed me about 
Governor Branstad is that I do believe he has a passion for American 
  I particularly appreciated his willingness--and would even say he was 
anxious--to represent American and global interests for China's 
improving their human rights record and dealing with the right of 
religious minorities, dealing with the right of dissent, and dealing 
with the right of free expression and the press. He very much spoke 
about the need for the rule of law. So while we welcome the emergence 
of a prosperous China, we want one that follows international 
institutional laws and norms. That is going to be the challenge for our 
next Ambassador.
  Let me comment on what I believe the Trump administration is doing 
that is going to make our next Ambassador's responsibilities even more 
challenging than perhaps they should be; that is, that we have seen 
already that in the discussions between President Xi and President 
Trump with respect to North Korea, it seems like the Trump 
administration is prepared to give up some of our American values in 
order to make progress with regard to North Korea, such as our 
interests in our American workers, our interests in the South China 
Sea, in maritime security, our relationship with Taiwan, and human 
rights, et cetera.
  That would be a bad deal. Yes, we want North Korea to be under 
control and to give up its nuclear weapons. Yes, we want China to 
exercise a much stronger role in convincing North Korea that it is in 
their interests to give up their nuclear weapon program. We want to do 
that. There are ways we can. It is in China's interests that North 
Korea give up its nuclear weapon ambition. They want a nonnuclear 
Korean Peninsula. We should not trade our values in order for that to 
be able to occur.
  The second matter, which I have talked about on the floor before, 
that is going to make it more difficult for our next Ambassador is the 
President's continued unwillingness to comply with the emoluments 
clause of the Constitution.

  As I have said on the floor before, every President before President 
Trump either divested of their conflicted ownership of assets or they 
set up a blind trust, but Mr. Trump did not. Shortly after his 
election, the Trump organization received trademarks through the 
Chinese Government that they had been unsuccessful in obtaining for 
years, in which they have spent literally hundreds of thousands of 
dollars if not more in legal fees.
  All of a sudden, 1 week after the President is elected, the Chinese 
Government grants these trademarks. It is hard to believe that the fact 
that they were dealing with the President of the United States did not 
weigh into decisions made by the Chinese Government.
  But it does not end there. We also know that a member of his family 
was in China to sell the EB-5 visas. That, again, presented a direct 
conflict. We actually know that his daughter received three new 
trademarks in an incredibly speedy turnaround--the same night that the 
daughter had dinner with President Xi.
  These things don't look good. The emoluments clause is where a 
foreign government tries to influence our President through doing 
favors. It is going to be very difficult for the American people--in 
fact, very difficult for the international community--to believe that 
it was not, in part, due to the position that Mr. Trump holds that 
these actions took place.
  That violates our Constitution. That is wrong.
  The bottom line is that our next Ambassador is going to have to deal 
with those issues. We have a hard enough assignment in dealing with 
North Korea, trade, the South China Sea, Taiwan, and human rights to 
throw in these additional hurdles. So I urge my colleagues to support 
Mr. Branstad's nomination. I believe that he is well-qualified to 
represent this country. I hope the Trump administration will give him a 
stronger hand to play.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I think I will be done speaking before 
the time for the vote arrives, but I ask unanimous consent for 
permission to finish my remarks.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I am pleased that the Senate is finally 
considering the nomination of Governor Branstad of Iowa to be 
Ambassador to China. Before I speak about this very well-qualified 
nominee, I would like to express my great disappointment and great 
frustration with the seemingly endless obstruction on the part of the 
  This nominee received unanimous support in the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee more than a week ago. Yet the majority leader was 
required to file cloture on the nominee because there could not be 
consent given to move forward with it. We could have approved this 
nomination with just a few minutes of debate time. Yet the minority 
required that we have the cloture vote and the 30 hours afterwards, not 
because they wanted to debate the merits of the nominee but simply to 
delay the business of the Senate. It is unfortunate that their delay 
has kept an eminently qualified individual from getting into the job to 
promote America's interest in China sooner than it now will be.
  I am honored to have the opportunity today to speak to my colleagues 
about my good friend, Governor Terry Branstad.
  Governor Branstad is the longest-serving Governor in U.S. history. 
Let me make that clear. Out of 50 States for 230 years, no person in 
the United States has served their State as Governor of that State 
longer than Terry Branstad has now. He is a lifelong Iowan who has 
devoted his life to public service.
  After more than 22 years as my home State's chief executive, I am 
proud to support Governor Branstad's nomination to serve our country as 
the next U.S. Ambassador to the People's Republic of China.
  The fact is, Governor Branstad has been an ambassador for Iowa to the 
Nation and even to the world for his entire career. He has been a 
champion for Iowa and on behalf of Iowans around the globe. As 
Governor, he has been vigorous in promoting our State's economy and 
opening markets for our farm commodities, financial services, and 
manufacturing to the world marketplace.
  His nomination should come as no surprise to the people of Iowa. We 
have long known and benefited from the relationship Governor Branstad 
has had with the people of China. A sister state relationship in 1983 
has grown into a successful trade partnership that has benefited Iowa 
farmers and businesses.
  Perhaps most notably, Governor Branstad enjoys a 30-year friendship 
with President Xi. Their first meeting took place in 1985 in Iowa when, 
then a Provincial official, Xi led an agricultural delegation to Iowa. 
President Xi visited Iowa again in 2012, when Governor Branstad was 
back at the helm in his fifth term after a 12-year respite from being 
Governor. Their relationship reflects genuine goodwill and, more 
importantly, mutual respect.
  Governor Branstad has never stopped working to expand Iowa's trade, 
investment, and economic partnerships on the world stage, including 
many trips to China. He will bring midwestern humility and level-headed 
leadership to the job. He is a workhorse who is unafraid to get into 
the trenches to get the job done. I have no doubt that he will stand 
strong for American values, such as freedom of the press and religious 
liberty, and that he will work to strengthen peace, stability, and 
prosperity between our two nations.
  Once he is confirmed, I am confident that Governor Branstad will 
bring to bear his tireless commitment to solve problems and always move 
the ball forward. Although his heart will always

[[Page S3060]]

be in Iowa, I know Governor Branstad will throw himself into this job 
  Governor Branstad is uniquely qualified to help strengthen the trade, 
economic, cultural, and geopolitical relationships between our two 
countries. I am pleased that he has now been called to serve our entire 
Nation, not just the State of Iowa, as Ambassador to China. I have 
every confidence that he will represent the United States well and will 
excel, just as he has throughout his entire public career.
  Without reservation, then, I support this nomination. I also urge my 
colleagues to join me in supporting this nomination.
  Thank you very much.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, all postcloture time 
has expired.
  The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Branstad 
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Tennessee (Mr. Alexander), the Senator from Georgia (Mr. 
Isakson), the Senator from Utah (Mr. Lee), and the Senator from Alaska 
(Ms. Murkowski).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Tennessee (Mr. 
Alexander) would have voted ``yea'', the Senator from Georgia (Mr. 
Isakson) would have voted ``yea'', and the Senator from Alaska (Ms. 
Murkowski) would have voted ``yea.''
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from California (Ms. Harris) 
is necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lankford). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 82, nays 13, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 133 Ex.]


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen



                             NOT VOTING--5

  The nomination was confirmed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motion to 
reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, and the 
President will be immediately notified of the Senate's action.
  The majority leader.