EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 90
(Senate - May 24, 2017)

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[Pages S3106-S3111]
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                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the 
Sullivan nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of John J. 
Sullivan, of Maryland, to be Deputy Secretary of State.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to proceed as in 
morning business.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 

                         The President's Budget

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, yesterday, we received President Trump's 
first budget submission. He calls it ``A New Foundation for American 
Greatness.'' Well, that might get an award for fiction, but it couldn't 
be further from the truth.
  Instead of building a foundation for the American people, it pulls 
the rug out from under them. This budget has to be understood as 
something more than just a photo op with a slogan.
  The President's budget displays a fundamental lack of understanding 
of the role of government of, by, and for the people in supporting the 
middle class, lifting up the most vulnerable among us and serving our 
values and interests as a Nation. It proposes to cut nondefense 
discretionary spending by over $1.5 trillion; that is, $1,500,000,000 
over 10 years, including a $54 billion cut in fiscal year 2018 and a 
$260 billion cut by 2027. This would be a 40-percent cut to nondefense 
programs in 10 years.
  This is not only shortsighted, it is irresponsible and unrealistic. 
We should be supporting opportunity, and we should be creating jobs, 
not eliminating them. What this country needs is jobs. We should be 
caring for our veterans. We should promote our health and the 
environment. These are important to all people. It doesn't make any 
difference what political party you belong to. We shouldn't be 
recklessly slashing vital lifelines to the American people.
  Sequestration has had devastating consequences for both defense and 
nondefense programs. These consequences are going to last a generation. 
The Trump budget would only extend and deepen those problems.
  We are nearing the Memorial Day break, and I ask Members of both 
sides of the aisle: Let's sit down, and let's have Republicans and 
Democrats work together, as the Senate is supposed to, and negotiate a 
budget deal based on parity. We did this in 2013; we did it in 2015. It 
worked well. Such a deal would allow the Senate to provide 
appropriations bills that reflect our true, enduring values as a 
  The Trump budget proposes over $1.7 trillion in cruel and 
unsustainable cuts to important mandatory programs that provide a 
safety net of health and nutrition programs to those who are struggling 
most in our communities. Can you imagine, in the wealthiest, most 
powerful Nation on Earth, we are going to cut out programs to help the 
people most in need?
  Many of the cuts in the Trump budget come from the Medicaid Program, 
where the President doubles down on the dangerous programmatic changes 
and cuts included in the TrumpCare bill. Not only would enacting this 
budget make it harder for low-income families to receive health 
coverage through Medicaid, but the proposal also cuts nearly $6 billion 
from the Children's Health Insurance Program, which would force near-
poverty children off health insurance.
  I know in my own State of Vermont--it is not a wealthy State; it is a 
small State. But when we started a program to make sure children had 
healthcare, it was costly at first. In the long run, it saved us all a 
great deal of money. We were rated every year as the first or second 
healthiest State in the Nation. You have to have people healthy from 
the time they are children. You cannot suddenly say: Oh, we are going 
to spend a fortune when you are adults on illnesses that could have 
been taken care of when you were children.
  The President's budget proposes significant cuts to the Supplemental 
Nutrition Assistance Program, which supports food assistance for 
individuals and families in need. How does the President expect to make 
America great again if there are hungry children in our schools? Every 
parent knows a hungry child cannot learn. How can we be the greatest 
country in the world if we do not offer a helping hand to the most 
vulnerable among us?

  It has been and continues to be my goal that we complete the 
appropriations process in the Senate the way it is supposed to be done. 
Each of the 12 appropriations bills deserves debate and an up-or-down 
vote on the Senate floor. All Republicans and Democrats vote for the 
things they support and vote against the things they oppose. That is in 
the best interest of this country, and I know Chairman Cochran shares 
this goal. As vice chairman, I will work with him to do this.
  This budget is an obstacle and not a pathway to this goal. The 
President's budget proposal is not bipartisan. In fact, I am willing to 
bet that, if you put the President's budget on the floor today and 
asked for a vote up or down, even though the Republicans are in the 
majority in the Senate, it would not pass because it does not make a 
hint of a gesture toward true bipartisanship. The appropriations 
process works best when you have bipartisan cooperation. This budget is 
not in the best interest of the country or of the real priorities of 
the American people. That is why it would not get even enough 
Republican votes to pass. It is unbalanced, needlessly provocative, and 
appallingly shortsighted.
  Rural America, including rural States like Vermont, is missing in 
action in the President's budget. His

[[Page S3107]]

budget eliminates key investments in rural communities and leaves them 
without Federal partnership support for everything from infrastructure 
development and affordable housing to programs that preserve the 
environment and provide food for the elderly.
  It is a compilation of broken promises to working men and women and 
struggling families, and it frays the lifelines that help vulnerable 
families lift themselves into the middle class. This Vermonter does not 
find that acceptable, and I doubt others do.
  Eliminating the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which we 
call LIHEAP, would leave thousands of Vermonters and thousands 
throughout this country out in the cold. The government should not be 
in the business of saying to families: OK, you have a choice. It is 10 
degrees outside. You can either have heat, or you can eat. You can 
either have enough warmth so that you do not freeze to death, or you 
can have food so that you do not starve to death, but you cannot have 
  We are the most powerful, wealthy Nation on Earth. What a choice to 
force on people.
  From LIHEAP, in my own State, Vermont received nearly $19 million to 
help more than 21,000 households in all 14 counties last year. This is 
a vital lifeline, and it is especially important in rural communities. 
We cannot slash investments in our rural communities.
  We cannot abandon Federal support for cleaning up Lake Champlain. 
Eliminating the Sea Grant and Geographic programs would be foolish, as 
it would waste the investments we have already made. It would mean that 
the money we have put in to clean our lake would end up being lost, and 
we would have to start all over again.
  The large and dynamic ecosystem in Lake Champlain is the largest body 
of freshwater in the United States outside of the Great Lakes. It 
borders Vermont, New York, and Canada and is a treasure, but we cannot 
stand still. We do not want it to become polluted like other bodies of 
water throughout our country. You either advance or you slip behind, 
and once you start slipping behind, it becomes an escalating matter.
  The budget is full of cuts that advance the administration's 
antiscience, know-nothing-ism agenda. It eliminates thousands of 
scientists and shuts off funding for research into cures for everything 
from Alzheimer's to cancer. You cannot say to people who are trying to 
find a cure for cancer and so many other diseases: Oh, we are going to 
cut your money for a few years, turn everything off, send the 
scientists home, and maybe in a few years we might give you money 
  You cannot do that with medical research. The University of Vermont 
would lose millions of dollars for valuable research--research that you 
cannot pause and hope to resume. We are so close to finding a cure for 
most kinds of cancer, just as we did years ago with polio. Are we going 
to turn that off? Are we going to say to the American people: We want 
to have a sloganeering budget. Sorry. When your grandchildren come 
along, maybe someday, somebody will restore this science and will find 
a cure for cancer.
  This budget not only denies the reality of climate change, but it 
eliminates all of the Environmental Protection Agency's climate 
programs, from voluntary incentives to programs that seek to prevent 
further damage to public health and environmental quality. Climate 
change is very real, and we are at a critical moment. Now is not the 
time to turn back the progress we have been making.
  The President has promised jobs, jobs, jobs. I would love to see 
jobs, jobs, jobs in this country, but under his budget, an estimated 4 
million people, including veterans, would lose access to employment and 
training services next year. Four million Americans would lose that 
promise of a job. He would eliminate almost $4 billion from Pell 
grants. You do not create jobs by denying young people access to 
affordable higher education or by slashing job training.
  Cutting the State Department's budget by more than 30 percent shows a 
clear lack of understanding of the vital role of soft power in our 
national security. The Secretary of Defense said: If you are going to 
cut the State Department's budget this way, you had better give me 
money to buy more bullets, because I am going to need them.
  The budget would eliminate lifesaving nutrition programs. It would 
impede our ability to promote stability in increasingly volatile 
regions of the world. America is not made safer by failing to feed the 
  As Defense Secretary Mattis has said, soft power is fundamental to 
our national security, which has been said by Secretaries of Defense 
and military leaders in both Republican and Democratic administrations.
  The Trump budget would have serious and harmful consequences for our 
economy, for working families, for those who are struggling, for our 
environment, for health, for the seed corn of cutting-edge scientific 
and technological research, and for our national security. This is 
foolish, and it is not acceptable. You do not turn these things on and 
off to make a sound bite. Sound bites do not make America strong, and 
sound bites do not continue the greatness of America. Tough choices 
keep America great and help the American people.
  I would remind the White House that the power of the purse rests with 
Congress. As vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I 
intend to exercise that power, and I will work with Chairman Cochran in 
laying out a bipartisan path forward.
  Mr. President, there are far too many illogical, arbitrary, and 
harmful cuts in spending and wholly unbalanced priorities in the 
President's proposed fiscal year 2018 budget to list at one time. I 
will have plenty more to say about that in the weeks and months ahead, 
but I do want to take a moment to highlight one, as it illustrates the 
foolhardy way this Administration has sought to appease right-wing 
ideologues rather than do what is truly in the national interest.
  For fiscal year 2017, the Congress--Republicans and Democrats--agreed 
to appropriate $607.5 million for international family planning 
programs. Under our law, none of those funds can be used for abortion. 
They are for contraceptives and services like education and counseling 
to promote voluntary family planning in the world's poorest countries 
and, by doing so, to reduce reliance on abortion, reduce child 
mortality, improve maternal and child health, and increase 
opportunities for women and girls.
  These programs have a long track record. There is abundant, 
indisputable data to show they are effective and they save lives, and 
they illustrate that, while we may have fundamental differences about 
whether women should have the right to abortion, there is broad 
agreement about the importance of family planning.
  For fiscal year 2018, the Trump Administration proposes to eliminate 
funding for international family planning as a way to ``protect life.'' 
That may be an appealing sound bite, but that's all it is. For every 
$10 million reduction in funding for family planning and reproductive 
health programs, the data shows that approximately 440,000 fewer women 
and couples receive contraceptive services and supplies, resulting in 
95,000 additional unintended pregnancies, including 44,000 more 
unplanned births, 38,000 more abortions, and 200 more pregnancy-related 
  How does that protect life? The evidence is overwhelming that the 
absence of family planning not only means more unsafe abortions but 
higher birth rates, 95 percent of which occur in the poorest countries 
that cannot feed or provide jobs for their people today.
  I would say to the ideologues in the White House who think that the 
way to protect life is to cut off funding for family planning: They 
don't know what they are talking about. These are the same people who 
support vastly expanding the Mexico City Policy beyond President Ronald 
Reagan and both President George H.W. Bush and President George W. 
Bush, to all global health funding. In fact, they will be responsible 
for more abortions, higher rates of child mortality, higher rates of 
maternal death, and greater suffering.
  This is a shocking proposal. They either don't realize how much harm 
and suffering it would cause, or they don't care. Can you imagine if 
our government, in addition to trying to outlaw abortion, tried to take 
away the contraceptives Americans rely on to prevent unwanted 
pregnancies? Tens of millions of Americans depend on access

[[Page S3108]]

to modern family planning services every day. The outcry would be 
immediate, and it would be deafening.
  I am confident that the Congress will reject this unwise and cruel 
proposal. It would be unconstitutional in this country, and it should 
not be imposed on millions of impoverished people in the developing 
countries who depend on our assistance.
  I would note the importance of it. We had a man whom I admired 
greatly in this body, a Republican chairman of the Senate 
Appropriations Committee, Mark Hatfield. He was strongly anti-abortion 
but was an honest and good man who said that we had to have these 
family planning programs because without them, the number of abortions 
would skyrocket, that the number of deaths at birth would skyrocket, 
and that we would have higher birth rates, 95 percent of which would 
occur in the poorest countries that could not feed or provide jobs for 
their people.
  Let's not do that again. Let's not make policy by sound bite. Let's 
make policy as to what is best for our country and that best respects 
the values of America--values that we have tried to demonstrate 
throughout the world. We also try to demonstrate that to our own 
country no matter where you are, whether you are Republican or Democrat 
or Independent, whether you are poor or rich, rural or urban. Let's 
work on what is the best for America, not on a budget that tries to 
polarize America and pits one group against another.
  Mr. President, on this table I have on the floor, I note that it 
shows how we, at the Pentagon, have money to put into a border wall at 
the cost of the Department of Agriculture, clean energy, climate 
change, the environment, education, foreign aid, infrastructure, 
healthcare, the middle class, civil rights, labor unions, nutrition 
programs, child nutrition, and community investments. If we want to 
spend $40 billion on a wall that will make no sense and have the 
taxpayers pay for it--easy--let's vote it up or down. I do not think 
the American people want it. They would rather see that money be spent 
on programs that educate people, that create jobs, that improve science 
and find cures for cancer and others, not for a wall that we will pay 
for and that nobody else will pay for.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant 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 ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that all 
postcloture time on the Sullivan nomination expire at 3 p.m. today and 
that, if 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 ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). Without objection, it is so 

                America's Surface Transportation System

  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I rise to discuss problems that affect 
almost every aspect of our everyday life no matter who we are, where we 
live, our level of income, or any other distinction that might be 
possible to make. These problems have to do with America's surface 
transportation system.
  Like most Nebraskans, I believe infrastructure is a core duty of the 
Federal Government. It represents investment in our economy, public 
safety, and national security. In the Senate, much of my work has been 
focused on removing unnecessary obstacles to the flow of goods, 
materials, and, most importantly, people along our Nation's surface 
transportation networks. Through legislation and with Executive orders, 
we did lower the coefficient of friction on these systems. We can lower 
that enough that people and products can get where they need to go 
quicker and at a lower cost. I have been proud to support several 
pieces of legislation to do just that.
  In 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation 
Act--the FAST Act. It was our first long-term highway bill in more than 
a decade. As chairman of the Surface Transportation Subcommittee in the 
Senate, I was glad to help steer it to final passage.
  I am also proud to have authored a significant number of its 
provisions. For example, the bill includes a new national strategic 
freight program that provides every State with annual guaranteed 
funding. Because of the freight program, States will have greater 
flexibility to work with key stakeholders and local officials to 
develop strategic investments in transportation. The program funnels 
transportation funds to States and allows them to decide on their terms 
how to use it. By dedicating funding for rural and urban freight 
corridors, the program enhances the flow of commercial traffic, and it 
increases safety on our Nation's roads.
  The true beauty of this program is that it offers States the 
opportunity to make critical investments to best meet their specific 
geographic and their specific infrastructure needs. Nebraska can elect 
to invest in a rail grade crossing or a truck parking lot along a rural 
road. California could choose to invest in ondock rail projects at our 
Nation's largest port complex located just outside of Los Angeles. It 
works for all States without leaving any behind.
  The FAST Act was an important first step, but there is more to be 
done. President Trump has spoken frequently about the need to invest in 
our transportation infrastructure. Just yesterday, the administration 
released a set of principles for reexamining how we do that. I am 
encouraged to see these proposals that will give States greater 
flexibility to develop our infrastructure as well as reduce unnecessary 
regulations that delay these very important projects.
  The proposal also talks about providing long-term solutions, which is 
something I have long supported. This is critical for States to 
develop, construct, and maintain infrastructure. Last week, at a Senate 
Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, we heard an update from 
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. She committed to working closely 
with Congress as we continue to develop commonsense solutions for our 
infrastructure needs. She outlined some of the proposals the Department 
of Transportation is reviewing to include in this infrastructure 
package. During that hearing--the Presiding Officer was there as well--
the Secretary told me she is committed to working closely with my 
colleagues and me to develop a national infrastructure policy.
  I also brought up the issue of delays due to burdensome regulations 
like the National Environmental Policy Act permitting process that 
directly affects Nebraska projects. To address these delays, the 
Nebraska Unicameral unanimously passed legislation that would allow the 
Nebraska Department of Roads to assume the NEPA permitting process. 
NDOR has sent a letter to the Federal Highway Administration to begin 
the implementation of this program, and that could take up to 18 months 
to complete.

  I asked the Secretary for an update on the progress of the 
application, and she assured me the Department is following it closely. 
She said: ``We know the issue, we are tracking it, and we will continue 
to pay attention.'' Furthermore, Secretary Chao explained that the 
administration ``will not specify any list of projects'' in an 
infrastructure plan. States know their transportation needs best, not 
the Federal Government. The larger the role States have from start to 
finish in developing their own infrastructure, the more they can direct 
funding to the projects that directly affect their citizens.
  For the benefit of families across America in both our urban and our 
rural areas, we need to look for out-of-the-box solutions to ensure 
that our infrastructure is up to date. That is why I have introduced 
the Build USA Infrastructure Act, which looks to solve two major 
challenges to our transportation

[[Page S3109]]

system. The first is the near-term solvency of the highway trust fund's 
expiration of the FAST Act in 2020. The second is a lack of flexibility 
for States in starting and finishing major transportation 
infrastructure projects.
  According to the March 2016 Congressional Budget Office projections, 
by the year 2026, the highway trust fund will face a cumulative 
shortfall of approximately $107 billion. Meanwhile, we see construction 
costs climbing. The rise in the use of electric and alternative-fuel 
vehicles is causing trust fund revenues to fall. Heavy Federal 
regulations continue to eat away at that purchasing power of the 
highway trust fund.
  America needs a new plan to successfully meet the looming highway 
trust fund shortfall and to strengthen our transportation system. The 
Build USA Infrastructure Act gives us a plan.
  For 5 years following the expiration of the FAST Act, this 
legislation would direct the U.S. Treasury to dedicate approximately 
$21.4 billion in Customs and Border Patrol-collected fees and revenues 
to the highway trust fund. Now, CBP revenue collections on freight, 
cargo, and passengers include tariffs, duties, taxes, and user fees at 
U.S. land, water, and air ports of entry. CBP revenues from these 
sources amounted to nearly $46 billion in fiscal year 2015. Because of 
their nature as charges on freight and travelers, Customs duties and 
fees closely abide by the ``user pays'' principle that we look at in 
transportation funding. According to CBP, the agency only utilizes $2 
billion of that revenue for its operations, so the diversion of revenue 
would not negatively impact CBP's operating budget. By using an 
existing revenue stream which has a transportation nexus, we provide 
stability to the highway trust fund without increasing fees or taxes, 
and that is sound policy.
  The Build USA Infrastructure Act also offers greater flexibility to 
States so their limited highway dollars can go further for them. I 
served 8 years in the Nebraska Legislature. I know our States, 
counties, and cities face real challenges in starting and completing 
infrastructure projects because of excessive procedural costs, delays, 
and really an overall lack of transportation funding. According to the 
Congressional Research Service, major Federal highway projects can take 
as long as 14 years to complete from start to finish. It took less time 
to build the Panama Canal, and we did that more than a century ago.
  Greater flexibility, improved collaboration, and more autonomy can 
help States begin and complete their vital infrastructure projects in 
less time, which means lower costs. The Build USA Infrastructure Act 
would let them do that through State remittance agreements. This 
legislation would offer States more flexibility and control of 
infrastructure funding by establishing a new partnership between them 
and the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. Under this arrangement, 
States are permitted to enter into voluntary remittance agreements 
whereby they can remit 10 percent of their Federal aid highway dollars 
in exchange for State purview over design, permitting, and construction 
aspects of Federal aid highway projects. The State-remitted money to 
the Federal Highway Administration would be deposited into the highway 
trust fund to help further address its growing deficit. It would give 
States breathing room as they work to bring in projects on time and on 
  I am so confident in this bill because I have seen these concepts 
work at the State level. As a State senator in the Nebraska 
Legislature, I introduced the Build Nebraska Act. It directed a quarter 
of each cent of sales tax revenue toward maintaining Nebraska's roads 
and bridges. Because of it, more than $1 billion will be available to 
meet Nebraska's infrastructure needs over the next 17 years.
  I also introduced legislation that tasked the Nebraska Department of 
Roads with developing the Federal Funds Purchase Program. In exchange 
for giving up a portion of Federal transportation dollars, Nebraska 
counties and their towns can now receive funds with more reasonable 
regulatory requirements. Because of this program, major Nebraska 
transportation projects, such as the longstanding bridge replacement in 
Buffalo County and a major arterial street in South Sioux City, are up 
and running.
  Investing in infrastructure means so much more than just adding a few 
lines to a map. It means connecting our families and delivering goods 
and services. In Nebraska's case, it means feeding the world. With 
persistence and prudent planning, we can build for the future, we can 
give greater economic opportunity to rising generations, and we can 
connect communities--family to family, town to town, and coast to 
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  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. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Human Trafficking

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I am happy to announce that soon I will be 
introducing legislation that reauthorizes several critical provisions 
to help fight human trafficking and bring us one step closer to ridding 
our country of this heinous crime.
  The Abolish Human Trafficking Act is chiefly a bill about getting 
human trafficking victims the help they need by focusing on ways to 
support them as they rebuild their lives. To me, one of the most 
shocking things about this terrible crime that victims of human 
trafficking need most is a safe place to live because without that, 
they will not be able to escape the people who have enslaved them, nor 
will they be able to begin the steps of the long road to recovery.
  This legislation reauthorizes the Justice Department's Domestic 
Trafficking Victims' Fund, which we established when we passed the 
Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, a bill I authored that was 
signed into law last Congress. This fund--like a crime victims 
compensation fund--provides critical resources to help victims get the 
services they need to recover.
  Part of the fund is financed through fines collected on convicted 
traffickers. It is a clear way we can use these fines to do some good. 
Last year, the fund provided almost $5 million in victims services. By 
reauthorizing it, it can continue to serve more victims.
  The bill also empowers victims by permanently reauthorizing the Human 
Trafficking Advisory Council--a group of survivors who annually advise 
the government on ways to combat this crime and lend a hand.
  This bill goes a long way to help victims who should be at the 
forefront of any of our conversations about human trafficking. There is 
also no question that our Nation's law enforcement officials need more 
support to track down the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to 
justice. Certainly, law enforcement needs more training to better equip 
them to serve victims too. This bill also does that.
  It requires the Department of Homeland Security to implement 
screening protocols across law enforcement anti-trafficking task 
forces. One of the hardest things about human trafficking may be, in 
fact, being able to identify that it is occurring when it occurs right 
in front of your eyes.
  This training will impact the work of law enforcement at the Federal, 
State, and local levels. That way, law enforcement at every level of 
government can learn how to better spot trafficking victims and will 
have the adequate training to connect victims to the services they need 
in order to recover.
  The legislation will also direct the Department of Health and Human 
Services to continue a pilot program to train healthcare providers 
about human trafficking. Healthcare providers, after all, are likely to 
come in contact with human trafficking victims as well, and they need 
to know the telltale signs that will alert them so they can report this 
to the appropriate authorities.
  I have noted before that so much of the battle is about educating 
professionals but not just professionals. I would say all of us as 
ordinary citizens need to be on the lookout for signs of human 
  Sadly, I learned a few years ago, when the Super Bowl was held in 
Texas, that one of the premier trafficking events in the Nation each 

[[Page S3110]]

is the Super Bowl, sad and as tragic as that sounds.
  There is a role for all of us to play as regular citizens in 
identifying the telltale signs of human trafficking, and then when we 
see something wrong, to say something about it so hopefully they can be 
  Through pilot programs like this one, my hope is that more people 
will better understand it. The more people who understand trafficking 
and its warning signs, the more we can do to help those trapped in this 
modern-day slavery.
  The legislation will also give law enforcement more resources to 
target criminal street gangs who profit from human trafficking. They 
view human beings as just another commodity that they can make money 
from, and going after criminal street gangs who profit from human 
trafficking is really important. We would also enhance the penalties 
for several human trafficking-related offenses as well.
  Finally, the Abolish Human Trafficking Act will improve and update 
the national strategy to fight human trafficking across the country by 
requiring the Department of Justice to add a demand reduction 
component. This will build on legislation passed in the last Senate by 
a vote of 99 to 0, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
  I know by reading the newspaper and watching TV, people think nothing 
happens in Washington that is truly nonpartisan or bipartisan in 
nature. This is an example of why that is wrong. Certainly, this is a 
cause that every Member of the Senate can get behind, and there is no 
reason we shouldn't be able to pass this legislation soon with similar 
strong bipartisan, literally overwhelming bipartisan support.
  I am grateful to our friend and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary 
Committee, Chairman Grassley, for his focus on doing all we can for 
victims of human trafficking. In addition to his support for the 
Abolish Human Trafficking Act, I know he also plans to introduce 
complementary anti-trafficking legislation, the Trafficking Victims 
Protection Act.
  I am hopeful both bills will be considered soon so we can prove the 
Senate is united in our opposition to human trafficking and so we can 
lend more support to the victims who so desperately need it.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  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. ALEXANDER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Ernst). Without objection, it is so 


  Mr. ALEXANDER. Madam President, here is the scorecard on 557 
Presidential nominations during the first 100 days of the Trump 
administration, through April 29. According to the Partnership for 
Public Service, in collaboration with the Washington Post, on Cabinet 
appointments, President Trump did his job, but Senate Democrats did not 
do their job. The President announced all of his Cabinet nominations 
before he was inaugurated on January 20, but Democrats delayed 
confirmation of Cabinet nominations more than those of any other recent 
President. On sub-Cabinet appointments, President Trump did not do his 
job. He was slower than any other recent President to send his 
nominations to the Senate.
  So here is what could happen. If Democrats continue their delaying 
tactics, when President Trump does send sub-Cabinet nominees to the 
Senate, the President would have every excuse to stop nominating and 
simply appoint acting officials to about 350 of the remaining key 
  An administration managed by acting Presidential appointees who have 
not been confirmed by the Senate would be a first in American history. 
Delaying the inevitable approval of nominations of a President you 
oppose might sound to your political base like good politics, but it 
would be supremely bad governing. Senate Democrats would actually 
diminish their influence and shoot themselves in both feet. They would 
be turning over to a President they don't like an excuse to staff the 
government with about 350 key appointees who are unconfirmed and 
unaccountable to the Senate. Now, this 350 number does not even include 
the Ambassadors in embassies all around the world, where there may be 
acting heads of the embassy.
  Now, what difference would it make to have an administration mostly 
unexamined and unconfirmed by the Senate? Well, it would mean that the 
Senate would be giving the Executive more power at the expense of the 
legislative branch.
  This undermines the checks and balances created by our Nation's 
Founders. Democrats complained that Republicans delayed some of 
President Obama's nominees, and that is true. In fact, that has always 
been true. My own nomination for U.S. Education Secretary in 1991 was 
delayed for 2 months by a Democratic Senator who put a hold on my 
nomination for unexplained reasons.
  President Ford's nomination of Warren Rudman to the Interstate 
Commerce Commission in 1976 was blocked by Democratic New Hampshire 
Senator John Durkin.
  The rest of the story is that Rudman eventually asked President Ford 
to withdraw the nomination, ran against Durkin, and defeated him in the 
next election. That is how Warren Rudman got to be a U.S. Senator. 
There is a better way to resolve differences between Senators and the 
  In December of 2015, President Obama seemed content to allow John 
King of New York to serve as his Acting Secretary of Education for the 
last year of President Obama's term. I told the President I thought it 
was inappropriate for a President to have an acting Cabinet member for 
so long and that, while I disagreed with Mr. King on many points, I 
urged him to nominate King and, if he did, I promised that I would hold 
a prompt hearing and see to it that he was confirmed.
  President Obama nominated John King on February 11, 2016. John King 
was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 14, 2016. I disagreed with 
Secretary King often, but the Secretary was confirmed. He was confirmed 
by and accountable to the U.S. Senate, as he should have been and as 
our Constitution envisions.
  All of President Trump's Cabinet nominees are now confirmed, but this 
is how long it took compared with his three immediate predecessors: All 
of President Trump's nominations were announced before his 
inauguration, but the Senate confirmed only two of those nominations on 
day one because Senate Democrats would not agree to any more than that. 
A third Cabinet nominee was confirmed on January 31st. To compare, by 
January 31st in prior administrations, President Obama had 10 nominees 
confirmed, and George W. Bush and Bill Clinton each had 13 confirmed.
  Please keep in mind that it is impossible for Democratic Senators by 
themselves to defeat a Trump nominee. Confirmation requires only a 
majority voting to be present; that is usually 51 Senators. There are 
52 Republican Senators and, in addition, Vice President Pence can vote 
in the case of a tie. There is no 60-vote filibuster available to block 
nominees because Democrats, when they were in the majority in 2013, 
changed Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster on nominations. So by 
their obstruction, Democrats are only delaying the inevitable, using 
various tactics to require the Senate to use nearly a week of floor 
time to approve even noncontroversial nominees.
  We don't know how Democrats will treat President Trump's more than 
350 remaining key nominees because the President has made so few of 
those. For example, I am chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and 
Pensions Committee. Aside from the Cabinet secretaries who come to our 
committee, of the 557 key positions identified by the Washington Post, 
35 of them within the Cabinet agencies require recommendations to the 
full Senate by the HELP committee. In the Department of Health and 
Human Services, we have eight. In the Department of Education, we have 
14. In the Department of Labor, we have 13.
  At the end of the first 100 days, April 29th, our committee had 
received just one sub-Cabinet nomination from the Trump 
administration--that of Dr. Scott Gottlieb for FDA commissioner. He was 
promptly confirmed on May 9th.

[[Page S3111]]

  Compared with President Trump's one sub-Cabinet nomination sent to 
our committee in his first 100 days, President Obama made 13 sub-
Cabinet nominations in his first 100 days, President George W. Bush 
made 10, and President Clinton made 14 to our committee.
  There are actually nearly 700 more Presidential nominees requiring 
Senate confirmation who aren't considered key by the Washington Post 
analysis, so you can see this adds up to be a pretty big number of 
Presidential nominees whom we have a responsibility to consider and to 
confirm if we approve them.
  Unfortunately, there are ominous signs about how Democrats will treat 
non-Cabinet nominees. As the Presiding Officer is especially aware, 
Democrats required the Senate to take nearly a week of floor time to 
consider the nomination of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad to serve as 
Ambassador to China. There was absolutely no excuse for this other than 
  Governor Branstad is the longest serving Governor in American 
history. He has a well-documented relationship with the Chinese 
President. He was one of the first appointees that the President 
announced. He was approved by a voice vote by the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee, and ultimately approved by the full Senate earlier 
this week 82 to 13.
  Yet, as a delaying tactic, Senate Democrats forced us to use nearly a 
week of our floor time to consider Governor Branstad. If Democrats 
treat other noncontroversial Ambassadors and sub-Cabinet members the 
same way they treated Governor Branstad, requiring nearly a week of 
Senate floor time to consider a nominee, then I think President Trump 
would almost certainly bypass the Senate and name hundreds of acting 
heads of sub-Cabinet departments. Under our Constitution, he may do 
that whenever he chooses. There are flexible limits on the time one may 
serve in an acting position, but if that time expires, the President 
can simply appoint someone else.
  Hopefully, President Trump will speed up his nomination of sub-
Cabinet members, and hopefully Democrats will return to the common 
practice of routine floor approval of Presidential nominations when the 
confirmation process has determined that the nominee deserves to be 
  Our Founders created a system of government based on checks and 
balances of the three coequal branches of government. There has been 
much complaining recently about the rise of the executive branch at the 
expense of the legislative branch. Having an executive branch and 
embassies mostly staffed by acting personnel not confirmed by or 
accountable to the U.S. Senate undermines the principle of three 
coequal branches of government.
  The President should want his team in place and should speed up 
recommending key nominees to the U.S. Senate. And Senators, especially 
those in the minority, should want to have a say in the vetting and 
accountability that come with the Senate confirmation process.