(Senate - September 14, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 149 (Thursday, September 14, 2017)]
[Pages S5712-S5727]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of H.R. 2810, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 2810) to authorize appropriations for fiscal 
     year 2018 for military activities of the Department of 
     Defense, for military construction, and for defense 
     activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military 
     personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other 


       McCain/Reed modified amendment No. 1003, in the nature of a 
       McConnell (for McCain) amendment No. 545 (to amendment No. 
     1003), of a perfecting nature.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I want to thank my friend from New York. I 
thank him for the cooperation we have gotten in the consideration of 
this important legislation.
  I would just ask the Democratic leader, is it reasonable to assume 
that we could finish this up today or set a time for it on Monday?
  Mr. SCHUMER. Absolutely.
  Mr. McCAIN. Good. I hope we can do that.
  I again thank the leader from New York, who has been very cooperative 
to me and to the Senator from Rhode Island as we have moved forward 
with this legislation. I thank him.

                  Training Accident at Camp Pendleton

  Mr. President, I wish to begin by offering my thoughts and prayers to 
the marines who were injured yesterday when their amphibious assault 
vehicle caught fire during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton in 
California. With 15 marines hospitalized and 5 in critical condition, I 
join all of my colleagues in hoping for a full and speedy recovery for 
each of these brave young servicemembers.
  Last night, unfortunately, the majority leader was required to file 
cloture on the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018. We have 
gotten a lot done in the short time this legislation has been on the 
floor. I know I speak for many of my colleagues when I say that it is 
my hope that we will be able to do more.
  I thank my friend from Rhode Island. I thank Members who have been 
very helpful and cooperative in this effort, as we have considered a 
27-to-0 vote through the committee. It passed unanimously. We have 
engaged in spirited, thoughtful debate, and we have ultimately adopted 
277 amendments from both Republicans and Democrats.
  I sound like a broken record, but this is the way the Senate should 
conduct business. The authorizing committee reports out legislation 
that has been examined with hearings and debate and amendments, and it 
appears on the floor, and we have additional debates and amendments, 
and people can vote yes or no, but they are informed.
  It is a violation of our oath of office when we are told that one-
fifth of the gross national product--i.e. healthcare--is going to be 
decided by a ``skinny repeal'' that none of us had seen until an hour 
or two before. That is not the way the Senate should do business.
  We are not perfect. We are going to have to invoke cloture on this 
bill. We are not going to have some debate and votes on some very 
important--at least four--issues. But while we have been on this bill, 
we have adopted 277 amendments. We had hours and hours of hearings. We 
had a week of putting this bill

[[Page S5713]]

together on a bipartisan basis, and it was reported out by over one-
quarter of the Senate, to zero. That is the way we should be doing 
  I will freely admit that national security probably is at a higher 
level of importance--and should be--than the average legislation, but 
shouldn't we learn from this that if we sit down together, we argue, we 
fight, we debate, and then we reach consensus, we come to the floor of 
the Senate and to the American people with something that we are proud 
of and that we can defend?
  As I mentioned, there are still some issues that we are negotiating 
on, back and forth--and we are negotiating--and hopefully we can get 
those done before cloture is invoked. I hope the majority leader and 
the Democratic leader will agree to a time certain for final passage.
  Let me just say that I support beginning to move toward final 
passage, which will provide our Armed Forces the resources they need.
  By the way, again, I want to emphasize that on the Armed Services 
Committee, we have had dozens of hearings on topics such as the global 
threat environment, the effects of defense budget cuts, and military 
readiness and modernization. Those hearings informed the work of the 
committee as we moved toward the legislation.
  I know that all of us from time to time like to take credit for 
accomplishments that maybe we are not as responsible for as we would 
advertise, but I want to say that I am not just proud of John McCain 
and Jack Reed, I am proud of the 27 members of the Armed Services 
Committee who--and the debate was spirited. It is not the Bobbsey 
Twins. We fight in a spirited fashion. We defend what we believe in. 
But once the committee is decided, then we move on.
  So my colleagues have embraced the spirit of that process, and we 
have submitted more than 500 amendments for consideration this week. 
The Senator from Rhode Island and I negotiated a number of very good 
amendments that have the support of both Republicans and Democrats. We 
still have some hard issues that are remaining, and I will be talking 
more about them. We are still negotiating to see if we can find 
agreement on those, and I am guardedly optimistic we can get most of 
that agreement done. We will know more later on this morning or early 
this afternoon.

  Let me also point out to my colleagues what we are talking about. We 
have seen Navy ships, Army, and Marine Corps helicopters, Air Force 
planes crashing during routine training and operations, and these 
incidents have cost the lives of dozens of our men and women in 
uniform. There are many reasons for these tragedies, but the one this 
body cannot avoid responsibility for is that we are failing to provide 
our military with the resources they need to perform the missions we 
are asking of them. We are asking them to do too much with too little. 
The result is an overworked, strained force with aging equipment--and 
not enough of it.
  We can point fingers and assign blame all we want, but at the end of 
the day, the constitutional responsibility to raise moneys and maintain 
Navies lies with us, with the Congress. That, of course, brings up 
sequestration, which I will address later on.
  I just want to point out, again, the men and women who wear the 
uniform of our country are the best of our country, and they do 
everything we ask of them with great courage. It is time for this body 
to show a similar measure of courage and end the threat sequestration 
poses to their mission and their lives.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I again thank the chairman for his 
leadership. It has been critical, as has been demonstrated throughout 
the process during our subcommittee hearings and our committee 
hearings, but even before that, the chairman insisted upon hearings 
that were comprehensive so, as we prepared for this NDAA, we had a 
sense of the threats we faced, the resources we needed, and, as a 
result, as the chairman pointed out, we were able to send to the floor, 
with a unanimous vote, a very strong defense bill.
  Since that time, working together, we have been able to incorporate 
over 100 amendments which improve the bill. As the chairman pointed 
out, we are still working on issues we hope we can bring forward for 
either adoption or, through debate, a vote, and I hope we can do that. 
Again, as the chairman pointed out, this is a rare instance of regular 
order--of the committee report coming to the floor, moving to it by a 
strong vote, taking up and working to get amendments that are not 
controversial into the package, and then going ahead and, we hope, 
setting up debate, discussion, and votes on more difficult and 
challenging issues. I was encouraged by Senator Schumer's comment that 
we can anticipate a date for final passage of this bill.
  We are confident we will have a national defense bill leaving the 
Senate and going to conference now. The final outline of that bill is 
still to be determined, and I hope we can add more to it. That is a 
very principled process of talking back-and-forth.
  Again, I don't think any of this would have been done without the 
leadership of the chairman and his insistence that we adhere not only 
to regular order but that we don't forget this is ultimately about the 
men and women who serve us overseas.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, the Senator from Rhode Island, my dear 
friend, Jack Reed, is too kind. It takes two to tango. The partnership 
we have developed over the years has made it possible for us to get to 
the place we have in the past and we are today. He has not only my 
gratitude but that of the men and women who are serving because of his 
advocacy and his leadership.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  Mr. REED. I thank the chairman.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I first thank Senator McCain and 
Senator Reed for their leadership, a model of bipartisanship at this 
incredibly important time with the rest of the world and the need to 
have a strong military. We know that. I think that is why we see this 
bill proceeding, but this bill will be so much stronger if we make sure 
that we not only defend our shores and stand by our troops but if we 
also defend the security of our democracy.
  I so appreciate Senator McCain and Senator Reed supporting this 
amendment I have with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. This 
must be included in this bill. We are having a situation where one or 
two Members on the other side of the aisle are not allowing it to 
proceed. The timing is critical. The 2018 election is only 400-some 
days away, which is why you see us pushing this bill and doing 
everything we can to get it either included in the managers' package or 
to get a vote.
  This amendment is supported by the Freedom Caucus, and in the House 
is led by the head of the Freedom Caucus. You may ask why. There are a 
lot of Republicans who would like to see States be able to keep running 
their own elections. I agree with that. I like the fact that we have 
decentralized elections, but the hacking was so real in this last 
election that our intelligence agencies have now established there were 
21 States where there were attempts made to hack into their election 
software. We know this is going to happen again, and we must stand 
ready. We must protect our democracy.
  Instead of having a successful hack attack in this next election, why 
don't we prepare ourselves so we can keep the decentralized nature of 
our elections? That is why we see such broad support for this 
  I came to the floor yesterday to fight for a vote--a simple up-or-
down vote--on the bipartisan Klobuchar-Graham amendment. I also thank 
Senator Lankford of Oklahoma, as well as Senator Harris of California, 
for their bipartisan work and support for this amendment. This 
amendment has support, but one or two Members are blocking it--an 
amendment which has the support of the chairman and ranking member of 
the Armed Services Committee because they understand that election 
security is national security.
  This provision simply says that it is the policy of the United States 
to defend against and respond to cyber attacks on our democratic 
system. You

[[Page S5714]]

have to have your head in the sand if you don't know that this has been 
a problem, whether you are in business and have had information stolen, 
whether you are someone who has been scammed or have had stuff sent to 
you on your email, or whether you are a voter who is concerned simply 
that when you are exercising your freedom to vote, someone is going to 
come in and steal your own private information or--worse yet--change 
what you did and change the result of an election.
  In the words of Bruce Fein, a former Reagan official, ``Passing the 
Klobuchar-Graham amendment is imperative because public confidence in 
the reliability of elections is a cornerstone of national security.''
  I am stunned we weren't simply able to include this amendment. I 
still have hope that we can. I am here to fight for this amendment so 
vigorously today because we need to get this done now. We need to get 
the authorization done now so we can start the process of putting 
grants out to States so they can upgrade their election equipment, have 
backup paper ballots, and simply employ the best practices that we 
believe we need to protect ourselves from the perpetrators in Russia or 
in any other foreign entity.
  We need to make sure our election equipment in every big city and in 
every small town in America, in every county is as sophisticated as the 
bad guys who are trying to break into it. That is all this is about. I 
don't think anyone can go home to their constituents and say they 
blocked this. How on Earth can we pass a bill which authorizes billions 
of dollars in spending and refuses to simply authorize a relatively 
smaller amount of money to upgrade our election equipment?
  Predictions are that this would cost about the same amount of money 
we spend on military bands every year--bands--music bands. I love 
military bands. There is nothing I like better, and I want to keep our 
military bands strong, but all Senator Graham and I are saying is, I 
think maybe the protection of our entire election--guaranteeing the 
freedom of Americans to pick the candidate they choose, whether 
Republican or Democratic or Independent--is just as important as the 
music they hear celebrating our democracy. You can't have music 
celebrating our democracy if you don't have a fair democracy.
  U.S. national securities have been sounding the alarm that our voting 
systems will continue to be a target in the future. The idea that we 
would pass the Defense authorization bill and not address this threat 
is mind-boggling. It is literally congressional malpractice.
  According to the Department of Homeland Security, now run by the 
Trump administration, Russian hackers attempted to hack at least 21 
States' election systems in 2016. Earlier this year, we also learned 
that Russia launched cyber attacks against a U.S. voting software 
company and the emails of more than 100 local election officials.
  The former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, recently 
testified that Russia will continue to interfere in our political 
system. This is what he said:

       I believe Russia is now emboldened to continue such 
     activities in the future both here and around the world, and 
     to do so even more intensely. If there has ever been a 
     clarion call for vigilance and action against a threat to the 
     very foundation of our democratic political system, this 
     episode is it.

  Vigilance, that is what we need right now. This is not about one 
party or the other. I think Senator Rubio said it best when he said, 
well, one election it might affect one party and one candidate; the 
next election, it is going to affect the other. No one has any idea, 
when you are dealing with outside foreign entities that are trying to 
interfere with our democracy and trying to bring down our democracy in 
the eyes of the world--you don't know who they are going to affect. You 
just know they are trying to do it. So what do we do? We put in the 
necessary money in the Defense Authorization Act, an authorization for 
that to stop this from happening.
  In order to safeguard future elections, State and local officials 
must have the tools and resources they need to prevent hacks and 
safeguard election infrastructure. They don't need those resources in 2 
years. They don't need us debating this for 3 years. They need these 
resources now. Ask the secretaries of States--Democratic and 
Republican--who are supporting this bill all over the country, ask the 
local election officials, and they will tell you they need it now.
  The next Federal election in 2018 is just 419 days away. As we know, 
it takes time for them to plan, it takes time for them to get the right 
equipment, and it takes time for them to get the information from cyber 
experts to make sure whether their systems are secure.
  Experts agree that if we want to improve cyber security ahead of the 
2018 election, we must act now. That is why I am fighting so hard for 
this amendment. I don't think we can just wait around and see if there 
is another bill we can attach it to next summer. No, that will not 
work. In order to protect our election systems, we need to do three 
  First, we must bring State and local election officials, cyber 
security experts, and national security personnel together to provide 
guidance on how States can best protect themselves. These 
recommendations should be easily accessible so every information 
officer and election official in every small town can access them. As 
we know, a lot of the States themselves still don't have full 
information about the hacking in the 21 States. That is a problem.
  Many State officials I have talked to say they are still in the dark 
about threats to their election systems. That can't continue. We need 
our national security officials to be sharing information about the 
potential for attacks--not the day before the election, when they can't 
do anything, when they have a system that doesn't have paper ballot 
backups. No, they need that information now, and we need to help them 
not just get that information but make the changes they need. This 
means creating a framework for information sharing, which acts as an 
alarm system against cyber intruders. Our amendment would simply 
establish that alarm system.
  Second, the Federal Government must provide States with the resources 
to implement the best practices developed by States and cyber security 
experts. A meaningful effort to protect our election systems will 
require those resources. As I mentioned before, predictions are that it 
is about the same amount of money that we spend every year on military 
bands. I think that is a bargain when you are looking to protect our 

  I think most Americans would agree with me--Republicans or Democrats, 
which is why there is such widespread support for this amendment--when 
I say that protecting our democracy from foreign cyber attacks and 
letting Americans have the freedom to decide who they want to elect, 
instead of someone in Russia, are probably money well spent.
  Finally, we need better auditing of our elections. That means voter-
verified paper ballot backup systems in every State. That is 
fundamental to protecting our elections and improving public confidence 
in the reliability of elections. Our amendment would accelerate the 
move to paper ballots by providing States with the resources they need 
to get there. The vast majority of our States simply don't have that 
system in place.
  In short, our amendment would help States block cyber attacks, secure 
voter registration logs and voter data so that people don't get their 
addresses in the hands of a foreign government--or maybe even the data 
on whom they voted for or what party they belong to--upgrade auditing 
election procedures, and create secure and useful information sharing 
about threats.
  I am not alone in this fight. As I mentioned, Senators Graham, 
Lankford, and Harris are also pushing for the Senate to do its job and 
include this provision. Representative Meadows, the leader of the House 
Freedom Caucus, and Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin have introduced 
companion legislation in the House.
  Again, why is the Freedom Caucus strongly behind this bill? They are 
behind this bill because they want to preserve States' elections. They 
want to preserve the rights of States to have their own elections, and 
they are concerned enough because they have looked at the intelligence 
reports and have seen that this next election could blow it all up.

[[Page S5715]]

  Are we just going to look back at it then? People who are holding 
this up, whose names will be revealed--are they then going to say 
``Oops, I guess we made a mistake''?
  No, it is going to be on their hands. It is going to be on their 
hands. This is the moment to do it.
  I repeat: We need to get the authorization in place, so we can get 
the grant money out to the States so that they can upgrade their 
election equipment.
  Dozens of former Republican national security officials are pushing 
for the Senate to pass this amendment. They have written op-eds, called 
their representatives, and worked to inform the public about the need 
to take action now.
  Michael Chertoff, who served as Secretary of Homeland Security under 
President George W. Bush, published a piece this month in the Wall 
Street Journal, calling on Congress to take action and pass the 
Klobuchar-Graham amendment. He noted that our amendment would address 
the cyber security challenge in a way that is ``fiscally responsible, 
respectful of states' policy-making powers, and proactive in dealing 
with the most pressing vulnerabilities.''
  As I noted, Bruce Fein, a Reagan Department of Justice official, 
said: ``The amendment would enormously strengthen defenses against 
cyber-attacks that could compromise the integrity of elections in the 
United States and undermine legitimacy of government.''
  A bipartisan group of former national security officials sent a 
letter to Senate leadership pushing for a vote on this amendment. They 
noted that attacks on U.S. voting systems threatened the most basic 
underpinnings of American self-government. These attacks are growing in 
sophistication and scale.
  As we all know, States administer elections. If you talk to the local 
election officials--call any of them up--you will find that they are 
adamant about protecting States' rights in this area.
  We want to help them. A bipartisan group of 10 Secretaries of State 
sent a letter urging the Senate to pass this amendment. They want this 
amendment to pass because it would provide vital resources.
  How do you truly expect someone in a town of 1,000 people to be up on 
the latest cyber security attacks from some sophisticated hackers in a 
warehouse in Russia? Really? I don't think so. That is why we want to 
keep the decentralized nature of our elections. In some ways, one, we 
like it; two, it gives us protection because it is not all in one 
system. We know we have to realize that in these small towns and in 
these rural areas, they are not going to have the updated, 
sophisticated cyber security protection equipment unless we tell them 
how they can do it and give them help to get there.
  The National Association of Counties, a group that unites America's 
3,069 counties, also endorses this amendment. Why? Because in our 
country, most of our elections are run by county officials.
  As I noted, our decentralized system is both a strength and a 
weakness--a strength because we have multiple systems, so all of our 
information isn't in one place. American elections are increasingly an 
easy target because many local election systems are using election 
technology that is completely outdated.
  A survey of 274 election administrators in 28 States found that most 
said their systems need upgrades. Forty-three States rely on electronic 
voting or tabulation systems that are at least 10 years old. Whoa. Do 
you think the Russians and those other foreign entities that want to 
mess up with our democracy are not aware that this equipment is 10 
years old? I am not telling them anything new right now. Of course they 
are aware of it.
  What are we doing? We are letting people in these small towns in 
Alaska or in Iowa sit there and wait to see if it happens. Guess what. 
If they get into one locality or if they get into one State, do you 
think that doesn't undermine the integrity of our whole democracy in 
our country? Of course it does.
  Local election officials who are passionate about keeping the Federal 
Government out of State elections support our amendment because it 
strikes the balance that our Federal system demands when it comes to 
the administration of elections.
  As I said, despite the strong bipartisan support for this amendment--
the strong support and leadership of the Freedom Caucus--there are 
Members of this body who are still blocking a vote. They happen not to 
be on my side of the aisle, so I implore my friends the other side of 
the aisle to figure this out and let this either be included in the 
managers' package or come up for a vote where I know it would pass.
  Republican and Democratic Senators support this amendment. Cyber 
security experts support this amendment. Republican and Democratic 
former national security officials support this amendment. State and 
local officials support this amendment.
  I ask you, why is this not included? We don't have an answer. 
Actually, there is no good answer, except for a bunch of procedural 
gobbledygook, which, of course, if it had gone through the regular 
order and had been allowed a hearing--which it was not--then we would 
have had a hearing. We were blocked from having a hearing. Now, as is 
my right, I am bringing this before this body.
  The integrity of our election system is the cornerstone of our 
democracy. The freedom to choose our leaders and know with full 
confidence those leaders were chosen in free and fair elections--that 
is something Americans have fought and died for since our country was 
  Obstructing efforts to improve election security is an insult to 
everyone who has fought for freedom and those who work every day to 
protect our democracy. Members standing in the way of this bipartisan 
amendment to protect our election infrastructure are literally 
committing democracy malpractice.
  Our attitude must be to roll up our sleeves to get this done. The 
American people deserve nothing less.
  I see my friend Senator McCain is on the floor. Again, I appreciate 
his support and his and Senator Reed's work, not only on this bill but 
their work to try to include this amendment in the package.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Minnesota. She 
has been an advocate on this issue for a number of years. Obviously, as 
she stated with some articulation, we are talking about the fundamental 
of democracy, and the threat to it has probably never been greater.
  She also understands there is an issue of germaneness and committees 
of responsibility and all that, but I want to tell the Senator from 
Minnesota that I appreciate her advocacy. This issue is not going away. 
I look forward to continuing to work with her because this is really--
it may be in some ways one of the greatest threats to democracy we have 
faced, and I know she has been an advocate on this issue for a number 
of years. I thank her.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that Senators 
Portman and Warner be added as cosponsors to the Reed amendment No. 
939, relating to a strategy for countering malign Russian influence.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I would like to turn to discuss my amendment 
to counter malign Russian influence.
  Amendment No. 939, sponsored by Senators McCain, Portman, Cardin, 
Brown, Warner, Whitehouse, Durbin, and myself, would advance U.S. 
national security interests by requiring the President to submit to 
Congress a strategy for countering the threat of Russia's influence 
activities intended to undermine democracy in the United States, 
Europe, and across the world and to disrupt the global international 
  The amendment would require the President to provide Congress a 
strategy that is comprehensive, using every tool at our disposal to 
counter Russia's malign activities. The strategy would direct actions 
across the whole of government, including the following areas: security 
measures, the strategy would include actions to counter Russian hybrid 
warfare operations, building the capabilities of allies and partners to 
identify, attribute, and respond to Russian malign activities, short of 
conflict, and supporting the NATO alliance

[[Page S5716]]

and other security partnerships against Russian aggression; on 
information operations--the strategy would seek to counter Russia's use 
of disinformation and propaganda in social media as well as traditional 
media and to strengthen interagency mechanisms for coordinating and 
effectively implementing a whole-of-government response to Russian 
active measures; in the area of cyber, the strategy would require steps 
to defend against, deter, and when necessary respond to malicious cyber 
activities by the Kremlin, including the use of offensive cyber 
capabilities consistent with policies specified elsewhere in the act; 
in the political and diplomatic arenas, the strategy would be required 
to set out actions to enhance the resilience of U.S. democratic 
institutions and infrastructure and to work with countries vulnerable 
to malign Russian influence to promote good governance and strengthen 
democracy abroad; in the area of financial measures, the strategy would 
address the corrupt and illicit Russian financial networks in the 
United States and abroad that have facilitated and Russia's malign 
influence; and finally, on energy security, the strategy would include 
steps to promote the energy security of our European allies and 
partners, reducing Russia's ability to use energy dependence as a 
weapon of coercion or influence.
  The amendment would also require that the administration's strategy 
be consistent with prior legislation relating to Russia's malign 
activities, including the Russian Sanctions Act that recently passed 
with overwhelming support in Congress; the Ukraine Freedom Support Act 
of 2014, and the Magnitsky Act of 2012. This amendment would fill an 
important gap in our current approach to relations with Russia. To 
date, the Trump administration has been unwilling, for whatever reason, 
to articulate and implement an appropriate response to the threat to 
our democratic institutions and security posed by Russia's malign 
influence activities. This amendment would address this critical 
national security requirement.
  It is both appropriate and critically important that this requirement 
for a strategy to counter Russian malign influence be amended to the 
National Defense Authorization Act because ultimately this is 
fundamentally an issue of national security. The administration's 
failure to acknowledge the insidious interference by Vladimir Putin and 
his cronies for what it really is--an attack by a foreign adversary on 
Western democracies and the institutions underpinning the global 
order--has real implications to our national security. The 
administration's lack of action to counter this malign influence only 
encourages the Kremlin to continue its aggression against the United 
States and its allies and partners.
  The Russians know they cannot win in a conventional war, so they have 
adapted their tactics asymmetrically to leverage their strengths. These 
tactics pose a real threat, and we need to appropriately posture 
ourselves, using all tools of statecraft, to counter Russian malign 
  Before President Obama left office, he ordered an intelligence review 
of Russian interference in U.S. elections.
  On January 6, the U.S. intelligence community released a report on 
its findings on Russian interference in our democracy. This report 
included the consensus view of all 17 intelligence agencies, including 
the CIA, the National Security Agency, the FBI, and the Office of the 
Director of National Intelligence. Among the key findings were 
President Putin ``ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the 
U.S. presidential election''; ``Russia's goals were to undermine public 
faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and 
harm her electability and potential presidency''; ``Russia's influence 
campaign was multifaceted, combining old-fashion Russian propaganda 
techniques with cyber espionage against U.S. political organizations 
and mass disclosure of government and private data:; ``Russian 
intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US 
state or local electoral boards''; and ``Russia's state-run propaganda 
machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform 
for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.''
  These findings were made public on January 6--over 8 months ago--with 
the additional warning from our intelligence experts that ``Moscow will 
apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US 
presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including 
against US allies and their election processes.''
  Furthermore, with each passing week more evidence comes to light 
about the depths to which the Kremlin went to interfere with our 
  Just last week, we learned that a Kremlin-linked troll factory bought 
$100,000 worth of Facebook ads which were further disseminated through 
bot networks as part of Russia's attempt to influence our 2016 
Presidential election. The ads traced back to 470 fake accounts and 
pages on Facebook and mostly focused on pushing politically divisive 
issues such as gun rights, immigration, LBGT rights, and racial 
discrimination. Further reporting by the New York Times laid out in 
lurid detail how these fake accounts amplified other tactics of Russian 
malign influence and ginned up web traffic to DCLeaks--the site where 
Russian military intelligence first posted hacked emails.
  The New York Times also reported that hundreds or thousands of fake 
Twitter accounts regularly posted anti-Clinton messages and used 
Twitter to draw attention to hacked materials during last year's 
campaign. Cybersecurity firm Fireye concluded that many of these 
Twitter accounts were associated with one another and linked back to 
Russian military intelligence.
  This is just one tactic of influence that Russia is using as part of 
the wide ranging campaign it is waging against us.
  Again and again, Russia has used the range of coercive tools at its 
disposal--including political pressure; economic manipulation; 
collaboration with corrupt local networks; propaganda, deception and 
denials; and, increasingly, military force--to try to intimidate 
democratic countries and undermine the further integration of NATO, the 
European Union, and other Western institutions.
  It is clear that we need a strategy and we need it soon; yet what is 
surprising and disturbing is that the White House has failed to direct 
that a plan be developed to counter this Russian malign threat and to 
prepare our country for renewed Russian interference in the upcoming 
2018 and 2020 elections. Time is running out.
  We are now 8 months into the Trump administration.
  During this time, numerous administration officials have publicly 
reinforced the findings of the intelligence community's January 
assessment of the threat posed by Russia's malign influence activities.
  On May 11, Director of Central Intelligence Mike Pompeo said he hoped 
that we learn from Russian activity in the 2016 election and be able to 
more effectively defeat it.
  On May 14, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, ``I don't think 
there's any question that the Russians were playing around in our 
electoral processes.''
  On May 23, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats stated, 
``There clearly is a consensus that Russia has meddled in our election 
process . . . Russia's always been doing these kind of things with 
influence campaigns but they're doing it much more sophisticated 
through the use of cyber and other techniques than they did before.''
  On June 13, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis stated, ``We're 
recognizing the strategic threat that Russia is provided by its 
  On July 9, 2017, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley stated, ``Everybody 
knows that [the Russians] are not just meddling in the United States' 
election. They're doing this across multiple continents, and they're 
doing this in a way that they're trying to cause chaos within the 
  On August 5, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster described the 
threat from Russia ``as a very sophisticated campaign of subversion and 
disinformation and--and propaganda that is ongoing every day in an 
effort to break apart Europe and to pit political groups against each 
other to sow dissension . . . and conspiracy theories.''
  Yet, despite the assessment from the intelligence community and these 
acknowledgements from the President's

[[Page S5717]]

own national security team that Russian malign influence and 
interference in our 2016 election and the elections of our close allies 
in Europe pose a national security threat, the President has yet to 
direct that actions be taken to counter Russian malign influence. As 
far as we know, the Oval Office has not ordered the national security 
team even to formulate a strategy to address these pressing threats 
from Putin and his cronies. Time is running out.
  In fact, 8 months in, and despite the assessments of his Cabinet, the 
President can't even clearly admit that the threat is coming from 
  On January 11, President Trump stated, ``As far as hacking, I think 
it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and 
other people.''
  On April 30, President Trump said, ``It's very hard to say who did 
the hacking . . . I'll go along with Russia. Could've been China, 
could've been a lot of different groups.''
  On May 11, President Trump said, ``If Russia or anybody else is 
trying to interfere with our elections, I think it's a horrible thing 
and I want to get to the bottom of it.''
  On July 6, just prior to his meeting with President Putin, President 
Trump said, ``It could have very well been Russia but it could well 
have been other countries and I won't be specific but I think a lot of 
people interfered. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.''
  Let's stop and think about that for a minute. ``No one really knows 
for sure''? That this is even a question runs completely counter to the 
informed assessments of the entire intelligence community and the 
President's own national security team. It is time President Trump 
admits what the rest of us know to be true.
  We also know, from multiple administration officials' testimony to 
Congress, that the President has not directed his Cabinet or senior 
staff to work on a strategy.
  On May 11, when our colleague and vice chairman of the Intelligence 
Committee Senator Warner asked DNI Coats where we stand in terms of 
preparation against a future Russian attack, he couldn't think of a 
single thing. He replied, ``Relative to a grand [Russia] strategy, I am 
not aware right now of any--I think we're still assessing the impact.''
  On June 8, when our colleague Senator Heinrich asked whether the 
President had inquired about what the FBI Director, our government, or 
the intelligence community should be doing to protect America against 
Russian interference in our election system, former FBI director James 
Comey stated, ``I don't recall a conversation like that.''
  When I asked Defense Secretary Mattis on June 13 whether the 
President had directed him to begin intensive planning to protect our 
electoral system against the next Russian cyber attack, he was not able 
to point to any guidance indicating that the President recognizes the 
urgency of the Russian threat or the necessity of preparing to counter 
it next year during the midterm elections.
  On June 21, officials from the Department of Homeland Security 
testified that 21 States were potentially targeted by Russian 
Government linked hackers in advance of the 2016 Presidential election. 
When I asked these officials whether the President had directed them to 
come up with a plan to protect our critical elections infrastructure, 
they also responded no.
  On June 28, Representative Sherman asked U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. 
Nikki Haley whether she had even talked to the President about Russian 
interference in the 2016 Presidential election. She replied that she 
had not talked to the President about the subject.
  On July 7, in a press conference at the G-8 summit after the 
President's meeting with President Putin, Secretary of State Rex 
Tillerson stated, ``I think the relationship [with Russia]--and the 
President made this clear as well--is too important, and it's too 
important not to find a way to move forward.''
  It is long past the point where anyone can deny that Russia 
interfered in our election and the elections of our allies and partners 
in Europe. This should have been a priority on day 1.
  We need to formulate a strategy and take action across the whole of 
government to counter the threat from Russia.
  We cannot just ignore this problem or sweep Kremlin attacks on our 
elections and those of our close European allies under the rug and move 
forward. We need a strategy to counter Russian malign influence that 
leverages all our tools of power across the government.
  Though President Trump may be unwilling to confront or condemn 
Russian interference in our democracy, we in Congress have been willing 
and able to take a stand to put pressure on Russia and push back 
against Russian malign influence.
  As you are all aware, we took an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 98-2 
this summer and passed long-overdue Russian sanctions. That was an 
important first step, but more must be done. We must act because the 
Trump administration has refused.
  I am pleased to be joined in this effort by Members from both sides 
of the aisle in sponsoring this amendment. As former FBI director James 
Comey said when he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, 
``It's not a Republican thing or Democratic thing. It really is an 
American thing. They're going to come for whatever party they choose to 
try and work on behalf of . . . They're just about their own advantage. 
And they will be back.''
  This amendment will ensure the administration does take appropriate 
action. It will direct the President to formulate a comprehensive 
strategy to ensure that, when Putin and his minions come back in 2018 
and 2020, we will have appropriate measures in place to detect, deter, 
and counter this serious threat to our democracy.
  I urge my colleagues to support the adoption of this important and 
necessary amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.
  Mrs. ERNST. Mr. President, throughout my time as a Senator, I have 
heard our Service Chiefs testify time and again to the hollowing of 
America's military as a result of insufficient and unpredictable 
funding. Simultaneously, external dangers have grown in size and scope.
  Sadly, for the first time in decades, we are forced to confront not 
one but multiple existential threats to the American way of life. An 
expressive Russia, expanding China, nuclear North Korea, nefarious 
Iran, and relentless global terror networks put our lives and the lives 
of future generations at risk.
  America is once again in crisis. Inaction, obstruction, or partial 
commitment are not options. This year's National Defense Authorization 
Act provides us an opportunity to fulfill our duty--to provide 
America's soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and guardsmen the tools 
they need to accomplish all we demand.
  I find it particularly fitting that this bill came to the floor the 
week of September 11, an anniversary of unparalleled adversity but also 
one of national unity. On that day, and the days that followed 16 years 
ago, the best of America eclipsed the evil of terror. We came together 
for the sake of our security, demonstrating to the world America's 
  There is no greater symbol of that resilience than those who serve in 
uniform. Secretary Mattis reminded us of that on Monday when he said: 
``The men and women of America's armed forces have signed a blank check 
to protect the American people and to defend the constitution, a check 
payable with their lives.''
  The least the Senate can do in return is authorize and prioritize 
congressional efforts to keep faith with that promise. At the same 
time, we are under no obligation to fund overbudget, behind-timeline 
defense programs with a blank check of their own. To the contrary, we 
have an oversight obligation to the American taxpayers, those in and 
out of uniform, to ensure proper stewardship of their hard-earned 
  That is why I, along with my colleagues on the Armed Services 
Committee, crafted and passed unanimously the bill before you. In it, 
we have prescribed a clear and comprehensive plan to rebuild our 
military to decisively deter or defeat any adversary. However, we are 
also holding the Department accountable for each dollar it spends.
  For my part, as a member of the Armed Services Committee and chair

[[Page S5718]]

of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, I focused on 
three priorities.
  First, I supported our troops and their families by making senior 
enlisted pay scales commensurate with job requirements, by combating 
sexual assault and retaliation, and by facilitating Federal direct 
hiring authority for military spouses. I extended that support to the 
battlefield by promoting enhanced standards for things like parachutes, 
aircraft life support systems, and counterdrone technologies.
  Second, I advanced policy initiatives to increase cooperation with 
international partners, to codify a more comprehensive counterterror 
strategy, and to reaffirm America's support for our European friends by 
putting Russia on notice for its aggression in Ukraine and Crimea.
  Finally, I included measures to optimize existing institutions, such 
as our National Guard's cyber capabilities, and to ease regulatory 
burdens, so the best ideas and products from our universities and 
private companies can bolster national security at a lower cost. I have 
led important efforts to hold DOD accountable by requiring enhanced 
program management standards and by joining Senators Grassley and 
Perdue in demanding that the Department finally meet its 26-year 
overdue statutory obligation to complete a clean audit.

  Colleagues, let's be clear--no one wants America's military to be our 
first or only option, but we must also acknowledge this truth: It is 
fundamental to our security that a ready military remains an option. 
The fiscal year 2018 NDAA is a vital step toward providing that 
security. Seeing it through to fruition as part of a larger effort to 
reassert our ``power of the purse'' is the next step. There will be 
time to debate nondefense policies and budgets later, and as 
legislators, our job is to have these very debates.
  Let's take the first step now. I urge all of my colleagues to support 
the NDAA. Follow through in the months ahead. Fulfill our obligation to 
realize its goal. We can do no less.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. 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. DURBIN. Mr. President, each year the Department of Defense funds 
billions of dollars in military-relevant medical research--research 
that offers our servicemembers concrete treatments for the particular 
diseases and afflictions that impact them the most, research that 
offers families hope, research that improves lives, and research that 
saves lives.
  Last summer, during consideration of the fiscal year 2017 Defense 
Authorization Act, there was a question as to whether Congress would 
permit this lifesaving research to continue or whether instead we would 
wrap it up in so much redtape that it would basically go away.
  I was proud that this Senate Chamber, on a bipartisan basis, voted 
resoundingly to continue medical research in the Department of Defense 
by a vote 66 to 32. It was an important, bipartisan vote, especially in 
a Senate where we have a difficult time finding common ground. When it 
came to medical research in the Department of Defense for members of 
the military and their families, we said unequivocally that we are 
committed to it on a bipartisan basis. I was proud to lead that fight, 
along with Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a Republican, to protect 
defense medical research. Altogether, 40 of my Republican and 
Democratic colleagues co sponsored our effort.
  That vote was not just a vote for medical research, it was a vote for 
the men and women in the military and their families. The vote 
recognized that right now, we are closer than ever to finding cures for 
dreaded diseases like cancer; closer than ever to understanding how to 
delay the onset of neurological diseases like Alzheimer's and 
Parkinson's; closer than ever to developing a universal flu vaccine. 
That vote recognized that now is the time to be ramping up our 
investment in medical research, not scaling it back. The Senate spoke, 
but unfortunately it didn't end the debate.
  This year, the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act 
now pending on the floor of the Senate repeats last year's research-
killing provisions and, for inexplicable reasons, adds two more. Just 
like last year, these provisions in the bill pending on the floor of 
the Senate would effectively end the Department of Defense medical 
research program. Like last year, these provisions wrapped this 
research in more redtape than you could possibly explain. And we face 
the prospect for the second year in a row of the end of this critical, 
lifesaving medical research.
  These provisions are dangerous, and by cutting medical research, they 
will cost lives--the lives of our military and their families. So I 
filed a bipartisan amendment, along with 53 additional cosponsors and 
my lead cosponsor, Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, to remove 
these provisions from this Defense authorization bill so that 
lifesaving research can continue.
  The underlying Defense authorization bill has four provisions that, 
if enacted, will end the DOD's research.
  The first provision, section 733, would require the Secretary of 
Defense to certify that each medical research grant awarded is 
``designed to directly protect, enhance or restore the health and 
safety of members of the Armed Forces''--not veterans, not retirees, 
not the spouses of military members, not the children of military 
  To make matters worse, after the Secretary makes this certification 
in writing to the Armed Services Committee, the Defense Department is 
then required to wait 90 days before awarding the grant. It is not only 
redtape, it is built-in delay.
  In my view, veterans, retirees, and spouses and children of 
servicemembers are all vital members of the Department of Defense's 
military community. They use the Department of Defense healthcare 
system. They deserve to be counted. When a member of the military 
deploys, the family deploys, and we ought to stand by all of them.
  The second provision, section 891, requires that medical research 
grant applicants meet the same accounting and pricing standards that 
DOD requires of procurement contracts. That sounds simple enough, 
doesn't it? But these are regulations that private companies have to 
meet to sell the Department of Defense goods and services, like weapon 
systems and equipment.
  The third provision, section 892, changes the ground rules for how to 
handle the technical data generated by this research--information 
related to clinical trials and manufacturing processes. How does this 
bill change it? This should sound familiar: by wiping away the existing 
regulations and imposing overly burdensome and unappealing regulations 
that would scare off research partners.
  I am sympathetic to what this section may be attempting to do. In the 
face of ever-increasing prescription drug costs, it does make sense for 
the Federal Government to have more rights when it comes to products 
and treatments developed with Federal taxpayer dollars. However, we 
must be more strategic about how to approach this. I look forward to 
working across the aisle on ways to beef up the government's role in 
helping to keep drug costs down, especially for products that would not 
have been possible without Federal investments.
  The fourth provision, section 893, requires the Defense Contract 
Audit Agency to conduct audits on each grant recipient.
  For those who aren't familiar with this audit agency, it is currently 
backlogged with tens of billions of dollars' worth of procurement 
contracts that it has to audit. This provision in the bill would add to 
this pile, requiring it to conduct an additional 800 audits per month 
on medical research grants--more redtape; no real reason.
  Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent, and the 
existing system does that. The grant application must show that the 
research is relevant to the military. No grant makes it through the 
first round without showing clear military relevance. If an applicant 
fails this test, that is the end of the story. If they clear the 
hurdle, then they are subjected to a long list of critical defense 

[[Page S5719]]

and issue experts in the disease in question to ensure that their 
research proposal is worth the investment. But that is not it. 
Representatives from the National Institutes of Health and the 
Department of Veterans Affairs also have input at that point to make 
sure it doesn't duplicate any existing research. These rules are in 
place to protect taxpayer dollars, and they work.
  This year's Defense authorization attempts to add redtape to the 
program in the name of protecting it but in reality ends it. Simply 
put, these provisions would strangle the Department of Defense medical 
research program in suffocating redtape. Don't take my word for it. The 
Coalition for National Security Research, representing a broad-based 
coalition of research universities and institutes, said:

       [These sections] could jeopardize funding for research 
     activities that have broader relevance to U.S. military, 
     including the health and wellbeing of military families and 
     veterans, and the efficiency of the military healthcare 

  We asked the Department of Defense how the new system proposed in 
this bill would work. Here is their analysis:

       This language would, in essence, eliminate military family 
     and military retiree relevant medical research, inhibit 
     military medical training programs, and impact future health 
     care cost avoidance. Impacts will take place across all 
     areas. . . . [Researchers] would most likely not want to do 
     business with the DOD. . . . [The provisions] may create a 
     chilling effect on potential awardees of DOD assistance 

  A ``chilling effect'' on medical research--is that what we want to go 
on the record to vote for with this bill? Is that what the Senate 
wants? Is that what we want to say to members of the military, their 
families, and retirees? I don't think so.
  These provisions are simply put in the bill to erect roadblocks to 
critical, important medical research.
  Let's talk for a minute about the medical research funded by DOD, the 
real-world impact.
  Since fiscal year 1992, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research 
Programs has invested almost $12 billion in innovative medical 
research. This medical research command determines the appropriate 
research strategy, filling research gaps, and creates a public-private 
partnership between the Federal Government, private universities, and 
those who desperately need this research.
  In 2004, the Institute of Medicine, an independent organization, 
looked at the medical research program that I have discussed, and what 
did they find? ``The CDMRP has shown that it has been an efficiently 
managed and scientifically productive effort.'' That is a pretty solid 
endorsement of $12 billion worth of medical research. They found that 
this program ``concentrates its resources on research mechanisms that 
complement rather than duplicate the research approaches of major 
funders of medical research in the United States, such as the National 
Institutes of Health.'' They also found that ``the program appears to 
be well-run, supports high-quality research, and contributes to 
research progress.''
  The Institute of Medicine also reviewed the program in 2016. This was 
their conclusion just last summer about the same program:

       CDMRP is a well-established medical research funding 
     organization, covering many health conditions of concern to 
     members of the military and veterans, their families, and the 
     general public. . . . In general--

  And this is highlighted--

     the committee found CDMRP processes for reviewing and 
     selecting applications for funding to be effective in 
     allocating funds for each research program.

  This program has been closely vetted, as it should be. It is a matter 
of medical research critical to members of the military and their 
families. It is a matter of life and death. It is a matter of the 
integrity of spending taxpayers' dollars. It is a good program, a solid 
program. It has not been wrought with scandal. There is no reason for 
us to turn it upside down or to turn the lights out in the offices of 
these researchers.

  The Institute of Medicine had this right. We have real results to 
back up the way we feel about this. What areas have they embarked on 
with critical successful research? One of the greatest success stories 
of this program is advances we have made in breast cancer treatment. In 
1993, the Department of Defense awarded Dr. Dennis Slamon two grants 
totaling $1.7 million for a tumor tissue bank to study breast cancer. 
He began his work several years earlier with funding from the National 
Cancer Institute. The DOD kicked in to help.
  Dr. Slamon's DOD-funded work helped to develop Herceptin, which is 
now FDA approved, one of the most widely used drugs to fight breast 
cancer. This research has not only saved the lives of countless women 
in the military, but it has had application far beyond the military. 
The same thing is true when it comes to prostate cancer and Parkinson's 
disease. What we found over and over is that money invested in this 
program for medical research is money well spent. Why, then, would we 
bury this program in redtape?
  I am happy that some 54 or 55 Senators from both sides of the aisle 
are going to stand with me, and I see I have other colleagues preparing 
to speak. I will return to speak more specifically about the programs 
of this agency.
  Is there a person in this country who believes that America is 
spending too much money on medical research? Well, perhaps there is, 
but I haven't met them. What I have found over and over is that Members 
of both political parties are committed to medical research. The 
Department of Defense does a great job with the resources given to 
  Let's continue this program as a salute to our men and women in the 
military, their families, and our veterans.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, let me state the bottom line up front. 
This year's NDAA, once again, focuses medical research dollars on the 
needs of servicemembers and military veterans, and it increases 
transparency on how these taxpayer funds are being spent.
  The amendment of the Senator from Illinois would take hundreds of 
millions of dollars away from defense needs to spend it on research 
activities totally unrelated to the mission of the military and shield 
these activities from critical oversight by the Department and the 
  Let me state this up front: If these medical research dollars were 
invested in the proper branch of government, I would be one of its 
strongest supporters. What we are seeing here--what we see so often--is 
the Willie Sutton syndrome. They asked Willie Sutton: Why do you rob 
banks? He said: That is where the money is.
  Why do you think medical research for autism, spinal cord injury, 
prosthetics, or many others have nothing to do with defense? Let's take 
it out. Let's appropriate the right amount of money to the right branch 
of government. So while we are watching the defense dollars--thanks to 
sequestration--going down over the last 20 years, Congress has provided 
more than $11.7 billion in medical research.
  According to--what is aptly named over in Defense--the 
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, 12 out of 28 
current research programs do not mention the military, combat, or 
servicemembers and their official mission or vision statements.
  So let me repeat this for the benefit of my colleagues. Spending on 
medical research at the Department of Defense, nearly 15 percent of 
which has nothing to do with the military, has grown 4,000 percent 
since 1992--4,000 percent. So in the meantime, the Budget Control Act 
is constraining the DOD budget. It has done great harm to our military. 
Every single service chief and combatant commander over the last 5 
years has testified to the Armed Services Committee that the budget 
caps imposed by BCA have hurt our military readiness and have made it 
more difficult to respond to the Nation's growing threats. Yet, during 
this time of severe defense budget restrictions, funding for the 
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs has nearly doubled. 
Is that our priority?
  I suggest to the Senator from Illinois: Why don't you go to the right 
place in the appropriations bill and allocate research funds there? Why 
don't you do that? You are not going there because it is the Willie 
Sutton syndrome.
  What you are doing is you are taking away from the men and women 

[[Page S5720]]

in the military what they need to defend this Nation.
  Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. McCAIN. No, I will not yield.
  The fact is that we have now had a rash of fatal accidents in the 
military--10 from the USS McCain and 17 more. We now have many more 
accidents due to the lack of readiness, training, and maintenance than 
we do in combat. So what do we do? Do we stop cutting the military? No, 
we add $11.7 billion for medical research.
  I am for medical research. I know of no one who opposes medical 
research, but do we take it out of defense? This is the directed 
spending on medical research at the Department of Defense.
  You may see that in 1992 it was a small amount of money for breast 
cancer research. Like other government programs, it has grown and grown 
and grown. If you will take a look at the pink side here, you will see 
that what also has grown is those programs that have no relevance to 
the military. I want to say it one more time. No, I will say it again 
and again and again. If the Senator from Illinois wants this money 
spent for medical research, then, take it out of the right place. Don't 
be Willie Sutton. Take it from where it belongs, instead of taking 
it from the men and women in the military who are undermanned, 
undertrained, underequipped, and in harm's way.

  So you have a choice here, my dear friends. Yes, who could be against 
medical research? Nobody who I know. But who could be in favor of 
taking money from the men and women and their training, equipment, and 
readiness, when every single service chief has testified before the 
Armed Services Committee that we are putting the lives of men and women 
serving in the military at greater risk? So we are going to see these 
billions of dollars taken out of defending the Nation and the arms, the 
training, and the equipment that the men and women in the military 
  Now, if the Senator from Illinois wants to fund those that are 
militarily relevant, I would be glad to go along with that, but see 
what has grown and grown and grown from 1992, when it was $25 million. 
Now it is billions of dollars. Let's see. Funding has increased by 
4,000 percent from $25 million in 1992 to over $1 billion last year.
  Spending on medical research--nearly 50 percent of which has nothing 
to do with the military--has grown 4,000 percent since 1992. So let's 
not say that we are shorting the men and women in the military when 
that spending has increased by 4,000 percent.
  Again, I would like every one of my colleagues to listen to the 
leaders of our military and to the men and women who are serving. They 
don't have enough training. They don't have enough equipment. They are 
not ready, and it is being reflected in these kinds of accidents where 
we are killing more members of the military in training than we are in 
combat, and every one of the service chiefs will tell you that it is 
because of lack of funding for training and readiness and maintenance. 
This has to stop.
  The NDAA this year prohibits the Secretary of Defense and the service 
Secretaries from funding or conducting a medical research and 
development project unless they certify that the project would protect, 
enhance, or restore the health and safety of members of the Armed 
Forces. Is that an outrageous requirement that we should spend tax 
dollars that are for defense that would actually be used for defense? 
Wouldn't that be outrageous?
  So it requires that medical research projects are open to competition 
and comply with other DOD, or Department of Defense, cost accounting 
standards. So we are not only asking them to be responsible but to 
comply with other Department of Defense cost accounting standards. So 
why that should be unacceptable, I don't know.
  So the Senator from Illinois has submitted an amendment that would 
strike these requirements--it would strike these requirements--to 
adhere to the Department of Defense cost accounting standards. Why? Why 
would you not want to go along with cost accounting standards?
  So it is certainly not an accident that the largest spike in 
congressionally directed medical research funding coincides with the 
tenure of the Senator from Illinois as chairman and ranking member of 
the Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee, in which, I say, he 
has done an outstanding job. Hundreds of millions of dollars in the 
defense budget will be used for medical research unrelated to defense, 
and it was not requested by the administration.
  If this amendment passes, hundreds of millions of dollars will be 
taken away from military servicemembers and their families. If this 
amendment passes, hundreds of millions of dollars will not be used to 
provide a full 2.1-percent pay raise for our troops. It will not be 
used to build up the size of our Army and Marine Corps. It will not be 
used to buy equipment so that our airmen don't have to steal spare 
parts of airplanes in the boneyard to keep the oldest, smallest, and 
least ready Air Force in our history in the air.
  So I say to my friend and colleague from Illinois, it is not that he 
is wrong to support medical research. We all support medical research. 
It is that he has proposed the wrong amendment to support medical 
research. Instead of proposing to take away hundreds of millions of 
dollars from our military servicemembers, he should be proposing a way 
to begin the long overdue process of shifting nonmilitary medical 
research spending out of the Department of Defense and into the 
appropriate civilian departments and agencies of our government.
  I want to emphasize again that this debate is not about the value of 
this medical research or whether Congress should support it. I, of all 
people, know the miracle of modern medicine and am grateful for all who 
support it, and I am sure every Senator understands the value of 
medical research to Americans suffering from these diseases and to the 
family and friends who care for them and to all those who know the pain 
and grief of losing a loved one. But I will repeat again that this 
research does not belong in the Department of Defense. It belongs in 
civilian departments and agencies of our government.
  So I say to my colleagues that the National Defense Authorization Act 
focuses the Department's research efforts on medical research that will 
lead to lifesaving advancements in battlefield medicine and new 
therapies for recovery and rehabilitation of servicemembers wounded on 
the battlefield. This amendment would harm our national security. The 
amendment of the Senator from Illinois would harm our national security 
by reducing the funding available for militarily relevant medical 
research that helps protect servicemen and servicewomen on the 
battlefield and for military capabilities they desperately need to 
perform their missions. It would continue to put decision-making about 
medical research in the hands of lobbyists and politicians, instead of 
medical experts where it belongs.
  I would like to repeat for at least the fifth time that I strongly 
support funding for medical research. I do not support funding for 
medical research that has nothing to do with the Department of Defense. 
The dollars are too scarce. You can see the way that it has gone up and 
up and up. So what we are trying to do is to preserve medical research 
where it applies to the Department of Defense and not use it for every 
other program, which should be funded by other agencies of government. 
I am very aware of the power and influence of the lobbyists who lobby 
for this kind of money, knowing full well that this is the easiest 
place to get the money.
  I just hope that some of us would understand that 10 sailors just 
died onboard the USS John S. McCain. They died because that ship was 
not ready, not trained, not equipped, and not capable of doing its job 
because they didn't have enough funding. Let's get our priorities 
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for 2 minutes.
  Mr. McCAIN. I object.
  Go ahead.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senator 
from Illinois be recognized for up to 2 minutes and then, following 
that, that I be recognized, and then, following that, Senator 
  Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I object. I was next in line.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I believe I am recognized and have the 

[[Page S5721]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip is recognized.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, the men and women of our military defend 
us on a daily basis without a doubt, but now, today, is our time to do 
the same for them.
  One thing I cannot defend is how we continue to tie our own hands 
when it comes to funding the U.S. military.
  This week we are considering, of course, the Defense Authorization 
Act that will help ensure that our military has the resources it needs 
to achieve the mission of today and rise to the challenges of tomorrow, 
but there is a fundamental problem with the way we equip the men and 
women we task with defending us. It is called sequestration. The 
sequester was called for by the Budget Control Act, which puts annual 
caps on defense and nondefense discretionary spending, and enforces 
those caps with a kind of budget cleaver. In other words, any spending 
that exceeds the caps automatically gets axed.
  That sounds like a good idea in the abstract. Who doesn't want to 
treat our addiction to spending? Who doesn't want to put the Federal 
Government on a diet? I certainly do, but I am not willing to sacrifice 
our national security and the No. 1 priority of the Federal Government 
when it comes to providing for our mutual defense. In the words of the 
junior Senator from Arkansas, himself a veteran, he said: ``Rather than 
attack America's spending problem at its root, the law only clipped a 
few stray leaves off the branches.''
  If we are going to be serious about reducing our deficit, we must 
address our budget priorities by looking at and addressing all 
government spending, not just the 30 percent or so that is 
discretionary. The reason we are not serious about dealing with our 
looming deficits and debt is not because of defense spending, it is 
because of mandatory entitlement spending, which is the political third 
rail of our government, and politicians are so afraid to deal with that 
mandatory spending that we cut defense spending into the muscle, to the 
bone, and it leads to the sort of dangers the Senator from Arizona 
talked about, in terms of a lack of readiness and training.
  The caps in sequester, mind you, do not represent any defense policy; 
instead, they were driven by our failure to get serious about the real 
budget threat: explosive growth in government-funded entitlement 
programs. Appropriated necessary funding for our Armed Forces should 
not be held hostage because of our inability to tighten our belts in 
other areas where the real runaway growth has occurred. It is past time 
to annually pass appropriations to fund the Department of Defense. It 
is past time to objectively assess and fund the actual and ever-
changing defense needs of our country.
  What are the results of the Budget Control Act? Well, we are not 
really saving money, but we are wasting time. We repeatedly raise the 
Budget Control Act's budget caps at the last minute, meaning they 
really don't keep spending down. Meanwhile, our military's ability to 
plan and forecast is severely hampered. When you can't plan, you are 
not ready, and it is no exaggeration to say that we now find ourselves 
in a true state of a readiness crisis. Our military, already under 
great stress and stretched thin around the world, has suffered from 15 
years of continued operations, budgetary restrictions, and deferred 
  According to General Walters, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine 
Corps, more than half of the Marines' fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft 
were unable to fly at the end of 2016--more than half of the Marines' 
fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft were unable to fly at the end of 
2016. That is outrageous. The Navy fleet currently stands at 277 of the 
350-ship requirement.
  The Air Force had 134 fighter squadrons in 1991, when we drove Saddam 
Hussein out of Kuwait. Now it has only 55--in 2017, 55, and in 1991, 
134, and we have 1,500 fewer fighter pilots than we need.
  Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force, put it earlier this week, 
when she said, ``We have been doing too much with too little for too 
long.'' We need to hear these words, and we need to remember how they 
spell out in the real world--how they affect our sailors, our pilots, 
and our troops on the ground.
  This summer, the Nation mourned 42 servicemembers who died in 
accidents related to readiness challenges. Mr. McCain, the Senator from 
Arizona, the distinguished chairman of the Armed Services Committee, 
pointed out the death of 17 sailors aboard the USS John S. McCain and 
USS Fitzgerald alone, plus other separate actions claimed the lives of 
19 marines and 6 soldiers.
  Meanwhile, the world has not become a safer, more peaceful place. We 
keep trying to cash that peace dividend, but there is no peace. In 
fact, when our adversaries see us retreating from our commitment to 
fund, equip, and train our military, it is a provocation. They see an 
opportunity, whether it is Vladimir Putin in Crimea, Ukraine, or China 
in the South China Sea, or Kim Jong Un in North Korea, they see our 
retreat, in terms of our financial commitment to support and train our 
military, as a provocation and an invitation for them to fill the void.
  I am reminded of a sobering quote from the former Director of 
National Intelligence during a hearing last year. Former Director James 
Clapper said: ``In my time in the intelligence business''--and he 
served for 50 years in the intelligence business--``I don't recall a 
time when we have been confronted with a more diverse array of 
  In 50 years, he didn't recall us being confronted with a more diverse 
array of threats. On top of these threats, never before has our country 
been at war for such an extended period of time, and never before have 
we done so much with an All-Volunteer military force strained by 
repeated deployments while defense spending was cut nearly 15 percent 
over the last 8 years under the previous administration.
  So here is what I say. Let's pass the national defense authorization 
bill, which authorizes $700 billion for our Nation's defense. Let's 
give our troops the pay raise they deserve. Let's address our readiness 
problems by authorizing increases in the overall number of soldiers and 
marines. When doing that, let's also do away with the sequester on 
defense spending. Reductions to defense spending should be targeted--
think scalpel, not meat cleaver--and our focus on cutting should be 
where the bulk of our spending is: outside of the military on mandatory 
spending, growing at a rate in excess of 5 percent a year, out of 
control and threatening the solvency of these important safety net 
  Colleagues, while we take the fight to ISIS, while we seek to deter 
aggression in the Pacific and support our emergency responders here at 
home, including the military, we can't postpone our problems. Our 
challenges can't be postponed and are not disappearing.
  As I said a moment ago, our adversaries are watching closely and 
modernizing while at home our readiness wavers. Sequestration causes 
our aircraft to age, our soldiers to tire, and our national security to 
deteriorate. Trouble is not going to wait on us getting our act 
together. Whether our military is ready or not, here it comes.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. 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. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I thank the leaders of the Armed 
Services Committee. I know the Presiding Officer serves on that 
committee so he is well aware of the extraordinary work and service 
done by Chairman McCain and Ranking Member Reed and our colleagues on 
the committee who have cooperated so collegially, in a bipartisan way, 
to produce a defense bill that supports our military men and women and 
their families and, more importantly, supports the United States of 
America in continuing to be the greatest and strongest power ever on 
the planet.
  I want to talk about some of the specifics of that measure but first 
want to honor the 17 sailors who perished on the USS McCain and USS 
Fitzgerald. Two of them were sailors from Connecticut, and I want to 
pay tribute to ET2 Dustin Doyon of Suffield and ST2 Ngoc Truong Huynh 
of Watertown, CT. They were true patriots. Their families

[[Page S5722]]

should be proud of them. All of Connecticut celebrates their 
extraordinary service and sacrifice to our Nation, even as we are 
struck by the grief and share the sadness of their families as best we 
  I know we also feel we owe it to them, their families, and all 
families of the men and women in uniform to be safe. The investigation 
is proceeding into the circumstances surrounding the crash that caused 
their deaths. I will be interested, and I hope that investigation will 
be expedited.
  The NDAA is a vital measure that preserves our national security in 
an uncertain era of unprecedented threats and delivers support 
necessary to sustain our servicemembers and our national defense. A 
number of the provisions I helped craft in this measure will improve 
opportunities for veterans, military sexual assault survivors, help 
with the Ukrainian soldiers, and extend the Afghan special immigrant 
visa program. Those measures, among others, I am proud to have 
participated in crafting and supporting.
  This year's bill invests billions of dollars in submarines, 
helicopters, and the Joint Strike Fighter engine, all produced by 
Connecticut's highly skilled and dedicated workforce.
  The bill includes over $8 billion for Virginia and Columbia class 
submarines, including over $1 billion above the President's request for 
Virginia funding and full funding for the Columbia class program 
following a successful amendment I led to secure our undersea 
superiority and grow Connecticut jobs. Nothing is more important to our 
national defense than our undersea superiority. The stealth, strength, 
and power of our submarine force is vital to our national security.
  The measure also includes $25 million for undersea research and 
development partnerships which Electric Boat and the University of 
Connecticut are well poised to take part in.
  This defense measure provides, as well, $10.6 billion for 94 Joint 
Strike Fighters across the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, adding 24 
above the budget request submitted by the President. Those 24 are 
necessary, and they are important now.
  It includes $1 billion for 48 Army Black Hawks, $1.3 billion for six 
Marine Corps CH-53Ks--two more than requested--and $354 million for the 
Air Force Combat Rescue Helicopter Program.
  Today our Active and Reserve components are deployed together in 
Afghanistan, and the National Guard brings unique capabilities to the 
fight. I am very proud of the Connecticut National Guard. I am proud to 
be a supporter, to work to protect and secure their vital mission as 
they work for us.
  This year's NDAA authorizes $7 million in military construction for a 
new base entry complex, bringing the 103rd Airlift Wing into compliance 
with the Department of Defense's antiterrorism and force protection 
requirements to support their C-130 mission.
  For all of these reasons, I urge my colleagues to support this bill. 
For these reasons and many others, this bill keeps faith with our 
military men and women. It secures our national defense. It provides 
the assurance going forward that we will remain as strong as we need to 
be as the world's only superpower, guaranteeing not only our own 
freedom but that of others around the world.
  As we consider amendments on the floor, I urge my colleagues to 
reject the new BRAC proposal that was introduced by Chairman McCain and 
Ranking Member Reed as McCain amendment No. 933. With all due respect, 
I support the intent. Again, I thank them for all of their work on this 
bill, as it has been an extraordinary accomplishment to bring it this 
far and to, hopefully, within the next few days, get it over the finish 
line. The intent is good. Our military is capitalizing on future 
savings where they exist, and it must continue to do so. Base closings 
will be necessary, as that is a stark fact of life, but I cannot 
support the BRAC effort they have proposed.
  The BRAC amendment would set in motion a long and time-consuming and 
convoluted base closure process. Connecticut is all too familiar with 
that process. We had a near-death experience with our base not all that 
long ago. It was an experience that should sound alarm bells not only 
for Connecticut but for other States my colleagues represent. As a 
Senator who represents one of the last military bases in New England, I 
am deeply concerned that there may be harm to civil-military relations 
and harm to our national security that will be caused by closing bases 
in our region.
  The first obligation of Congress is to do no harm to these military 
bases. Connecticut has seen this process before. It took almost a 
decade for the Connecticut Air National Guard to be assigned the C-130 
flying mission that was the outcome of the last BRAC round. To carry 
out this mission, the Connecticut Air National Guard began deploying in 
support of operations in the Middle East this year.
  I know personally about that BRAC process. I was involved in the BRAC 
Commission proceedings, and afterward I was involved in literally suing 
the Secretary of Defense to preserve the flying mission of our base at 
the Air National Guard in Connecticut. Closing that base to the Air 
National Guard, to the C-130, or to other planes like it would have 
been a disgraceful outcome, but we succeeded in reaching a result, 
through settlement, that preserved it.
  The submarine capital of the world, also known as the ``First and 
Finest Submarine Base,'' is in Connecticut. The fate of that base, the 
Naval Submarine Base of New London, was unnecessarily put in jeopardy 
in 2005 as it endured unnecessary questions over its viability and 
military value that delayed investments and the homeporting of 
submarines there. Given the importance and prominence of our submarine 
fleet today, as well as the $17 million since 2005 that the State has 
invested in this base--$17 million invested by the taxpayers of the 
State of Connecticut--it is inconceivable that we would close this 
asset. It is home to 16 submarines as well as to a submarine training 
  BRAC is long on unrealized returns and short on increased readiness. 
In 2005, BRAC was anticipated to cost $21 billion and save over $35 
billion in the next 20 years. In reality, costs have ballooned to $35 
billion, and savings will be less than one-third of what was initially 
projected--just $10 billion. That is the 2005 BRAC verdict; that it 
costs more than it saves. Simply put, BRAC cuts capabilities, and we 
can never get those capabilities back. At a time of global uncertainty 
and an expanding threat environment, we should be investing more, not 
less, in our readiness.
  As a first step, I would welcome an independent study on where excess 
capacity exists today, but I am concerned that this amendment sets into 
motion a BRAC authorization before Congress is provided with the 
justification for doing so and where and how it should be set in 
motion. I am concerned this amendment employs a force structure 
baseline that has not been adequately assessed by the Department of 
Defense. That force structure baseline is the lifeblood of our future 
military, and moving forward without it provides a distorted view of 
where excess capacity may exist.
  The BRAC amendment eliminates the independent commission that was 
previously designed by Congress in an effort to take politics out of 
the process. I deeply respect my colleagues who support this measure, 
but I have no confidence that they will be able to set aside the impact 
closures will have on their individual States. Let's be very blunt. 
This measure will exacerbate the role of politics in this process, not 
diminish it.
  While an independent commission is by no measure completely above 
politics, removing it will aggravate the roles that parochialism and 
politics play in deciding the future of military installations. Under 
the rules of the Senate, this body stripped itself of the ability to 
even make requests for individual military construction projects at 
specific bases. It follows that deciding the fate of entire military 
bases should also be a power we keep from ourselves.
  I urge my colleagues to reject this amendment, for our own sake, as 
Members of a body that should support our national defense, keep it as 
free as possible from politics and parochialism, and make sure we 
insulate it as much as possible from the currents and forces of special 
interests. I admire and respect the time and effort our committee 
leaders have devoted to this amendment. If it is defeated, I will

[[Page S5723]]

work with them to address the issues I have outlined. Base closing must 
be considered. There are bases that can and should be reduced and 
perhaps completely eliminated, but I cannot support the BRAC amendment 
before us, and I urge my colleagues to reject it.
  Again, I thank the chairman of the committee, Senator McCain, and the 
ranking member, Senator Reed, for all of their great work on this very 
important measure, which I hope will be passed shortly.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Fischer). The Senator from Alaska.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Madam President, this week, we are debating the 
National Defense Authorization Act of 2018. It is very important, and 
Members of both sides have contributed to this very important 
legislation we pass every year. It funds our military and authorizes 
its spending and training. It is really one of the most important 
things we do in the Senate.
  As have many others, I thank the members of the Armed Services 
Committee. I have the privilege of serving on that committee. I thank 
Chairman McCain and Ranking Member Reed for the hard work they and all 
of the members of the committee have put into this and for how 
seriously we take this responsibility.
  You have heard the discussions. This bill is needed now more than 
ever. We are seeing accidents, in terms of training, that are killing 
the lives of young men and women who are serving in the military, and a 
lot of it is due to readiness. In fact, in the past 8 years, the U.S. 
military has seen its budget decline by almost 25 percent. It is a huge 
decrease--just pick up the paper and see what is going on in the 
world--when we know that the national security threats to the United 
States have dramatically increased. We have decreasing budgets and 
increasing national security challenges, and this NDAA begins the much 
needed process of changing that.
  I would like to focus on one such threat that we need to address 
right now that is at the doorstep of our great Nation and what the NDAA 
is doing specifically about that threat. The threat is North Korea's 
nuclear intercontinental ballistic activity and capability. As the 
Presiding Officer knows, that has now literally become a threat to 
every city in the United States, not just to frontline States like 
mine, which is the great State of Alaska, or Hawaii, as they are closer 
to Asia than is any other place in the United States. This threat is 
now on the doorstep of every American city.
  For years, a lot of the ``experts'' and intel officials were saying: 
Hey, don't worry about this. They are trying, but this threat is a long 
way off into the future.
  Some of us were skeptical of those estimates, and now we know those 
estimates were wrong. It is no longer a matter of ``if'' but ``when'' 
the North Korean regime will have the capability of launching a nuclear 
intercontinental ballistic missile that will be aimed at the United 
States of America.
  Recently, there was a disturbing article written in the Washington 
Post, the lead paragraph of which reads:

       North Korea will be able to field a reliable, nuclear-
     capable intercontinental ballistic missile as early as next 
     year, U.S. officials have concluded in a confidential 
     assessment, that dramatically shrinks the timeline for when 
     Pyongyang could strike North American cities with atomic 

  This assessment was leaked by someone within the Pentagon's Defense 
Intelligence Agency, and it shaves almost 2 full years off of what we 
thought North Korea's capability was. Right now, the threat is here. 
Think about this threat with regard to who is leading North Korea--an 
unstable dictator who has shown that he is not rational.
  Let me go into a little bit more of the threat here. When you look at 
the different regimes--Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un, who 
is the current dictator of North Korea--in just the 5 years since he 
has come to power, he has conducted more than 80 missile tests and over 
twice as many nuclear tests as both his father and grandfather did in 
their 60 years of ruling North Korea. Look at this chart. It shows 
missile tests, nuclear tests--5 years--way more than his father and 
grandfather ever did.

  And while several of these missile tests have been failures, we have 
obviously seen clear successes. In fact, while many Americans were 
celebrating the Fourth of July holiday--our patriotism, our liberty, 
our military--Kim Jong Un launched a successful test of an 
intercontinental ballistic missile.
  On the nuclear side, we have seen activity even more recently, 
allegedly a test of a hydrogen bomb with an estimated yield of 120 
kilotons--their third nuclear test since January 2016. It was eight 
times more powerful than their last test.
  The bottom line with regard to this threat from a very unstable 
regime is they are making very significant progress.
  So that is the threat. It is very real--on our shores--led by an 
unstable dictator who has threatened to use these weapons.
  What are we doing about it? Well, we have the capability to defend 
against this threat, and that capability is through much more enhanced 
missile defense for the homeland of the United States--for our cities. 
That is what this National Defense Authorization Act does.
  Unfortunately, over the past several years, the Federal Government 
has not taken homeland missile defense very seriously. One study 
recently found that in its history, our homeland missile defense has 
been characterized by a ``trend of high ambition followed by increasing 
  The ``high ambition'' has been largely driven by the threats to our 
Nation, but the modesty component has been largely a function of 
decreasing budgets for the Missile Defense Agency. In fact, from 2006 
to 2016, the Missile Defense Agency's budget has declined nearly 25 
percent. Homeland missile defense testing has declined by nearly 83 
percent. So when our adversaries are testing and advancing, we have 
been going in the opposite direction.
  I am glad to say that this year's NDAA reverses this long-term trend 
of homeland missile defense neglect.
  Earlier this year, with a number of my colleagues in this body, we 
introduced the Advancing America's Missile Defense Act of 2017. This is 
a bill that we worked on for months, with experts in missile defense, 
the military experts, the civilian experts, to say: What do we need to 
better protect the United States of America? What are the key elements? 
We put this together in a bill that we introduced several months ago, 
focusing on the following key areas:
  First, the Advancing America's Missile Defense Act would dramatically 
increase our capacity for what are called our ground-based missile 
interceptors--up to 28 more interceptors--and require our military to 
look at fielding 100 more--up to 100 missile interceptors--to fully 
protect the United States.
  Second, our bill would advance the technology to not only have more 
ground-based missile interceptors but the kill vehicles on top of those 
missiles--the bullets from which the missiles could shoot additional 
warheads. This is technology that is advancing, but it needs to advance 
much more quickly.
  Third, our bill looks at integrating the different missile defense 
systems throughout the world. So in theater, for example, in South 
Korea, we have the THAAD system, and we have that on Guam. We have 
Aegis systems with our Navy ships, and then we have our ground-based 
system back home, in the homeland of the United States. Our bill looks 
at integrating these systems with a space-based sensor, to have an 
unblinking eye, in terms of the technology, that can track and shoot 
down missiles coming to the United States and integrate with regional 
defenses and our homeland defenses.
  Fourth, our bill focuses on more testing for missile defense.
  As I mentioned, the decline of the testing has inhibited the 
development of these systems. It focuses on the testing but also doing 
the testing with our allies that are also advancing missile defense in 
different areas of the world.
  As I mentioned, we worked on this bill for months. One of the key 
elements I am most proud of in this bill is the strong bipartisan 
support it has received in the Senate and in the House. Importantly, 
when we introduced it as part of the NDAA markup, we had over one-
quarter of all of the Members of the U.S. Senate who were already 
cosponsors--Democrats and Republicans

[[Page S5724]]

from literally every region of the United States.
  This is a first and important development in a long time with regard 
to missile defense. Unfortunately, for years, that has been viewed as a 
partisan issue, not a bipartisan issue. And what we were trying to do 
as we developed this bill was to say this shouldn't be partisan. This 
is a threat that every city in America is going to have to deal with. 
Let's work together and get a bipartisan bill together.
  I was proud when the Wall Street Journal editorial wrote about this 
bill and emphasized that bipartisan nature. A few months ago they 

       [The Advancing America's Missile Defense Act] has united 
     conservatives such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and liberal 
     Democrats such as Gary Peters and Brian Schatz, no small feat 
     in the Trump era. . . . Mr. Sullivan's missile-defense 
     amendment would be a down payment on a safer America in an 
     ever more dangerous world.

  Why did they write this? Because they understand the importance of 
having bipartisan support for missile defense but also the importance 
of making sure that Congress leads on this important issue. Thankfully, 
that is what the NDAA does this year--both versions--the Senate version 
and the House version.
  The vast majority of our bill that we introduced we debated in the 
markup for the NDAA this year. Again, I thank Senators McCain and Reed 
and other members of the committee for the way in which the broader 
NDAA came together. But we debated this bill, and the vast majority of 
our bill on advancing America's missile defense is now in this NDAA--
one of the many reasons I am encouraging all of my colleagues in the 
Senate to vote to pass it.
  Something else that I think is important for my constituents to know 
but also for all Americans to know is the role that Alaska plays in 
America's missile defense. For those of my colleagues who sit on the 
Armed Services Committee, they have heard me say this many, many times. 
There is a famous quote in congressional testimony back in the 1930s by 
the father of the Air Force, Gen. Billy Mitchell. His quote in front of 
Congress was: Alaska is the most strategic place in the world because 
of its location on the top of the world. Whoever owns Alaska literally 
controls the world.
  Fortunately, the United States owns Alaska. So we are, because of 
that strategic location, the cornerstone of our Nation's missile 
defense. If there were a missile launched from North Korea or Iran or 
anywhere else in the world, the trajectory would take it over Alaska. 
It would be tracked by radars in Alaska. It would be shot down by 
missiles based in Alaska. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion located at 
Fort Greely, AK, is a National Guard unit. They have a fantastic motto: 
300 protecting the 300 million--young men and women serving in the 
Guard on duty 24/7, protecting the entire country--300 of them 
protecting the entire United States. That is a worthy mission that we 
are glad is done so well by the members of the Alaska National Guard.
  So this bill does a lot. The NDAA this year, which we are debating on 
the floor now, finally takes seriously this important mission of 
missile defense. As I have noted, it does a lot to advance it.
  We have a couple of additional amendments that we are working on and 
hopefully are going to get passed out of the managers' package that 
would make even more advances to missile defense. We are going to 
continue to work those, and, hopefully, we will continue to have the 
bipartisan support that we did when this bill was marked up.
  I remain hopeful that we are finally starting to reverse the trend in 
missile defense that, as I noted earlier, was one of high ambition 
followed by increasing modesty.
  Today we need ambition, and we need action. The threat warrants it. 
The American people demand it. The Congress must step up and deliver 
it. That is what is happening in this NDAA, along with many other 
important and critical provisions for our Nation's military. I 
encourage all of my colleagues to vote in favor of passage of this 
important bill.

                       Tribute to Micah McKinnis

  Madam President, Micah McKinnis began working for me 2 years ago as 
my military legislative correspondent. He is actually sitting with me 
right now, and today is his last day in my office. It is a sad day for 
everyone in my office, but Micah is going on to do bigger and better 
things with that unit I just talked about, the Alaska National Guard.
  While in my office he has done amazing work, including championing my 
India policy and fighting for more resources for our combat rescue 
squadrons and playing an important role in helping us develop this 
missile defense bill. I am genuinely happy for him and his wife, and I 
look forward to seeing them up in Alaska, as he is getting ready to go 
join the military himself. He is going to head out for training. He is 
looking to be a pararescue member of the military. It is some of the 
toughest training we have in the U.S. military, but I know he is going 
to do very well.
  So Micah, thanks for all you have done, all the things you have done 
for Alaska. You will always be part of our family. Good luck to you and 
your family.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New York.
  Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Madam President, I rise to urge my colleagues to 
vote for a bipartisan amendment, No. 1051, to protect transgender 
servicemembers in our military.
  I want to thank my dear friend and colleague, Senator McCain, the 
chairman of the Armed Services Committee and his staff, for working 
with us on this bipartisan amendment to protect transgender 
servicemembers and for agreeing to support it here on the floor today.
  The amendment, which I was so proud to write with my Republican 
colleague from Maine, Senator Susan Collins, would prohibit the 
Department of Defense from discharging members of the military or 
denying them reenlistment opportunities because of their gender 
identity. It is essential that this Congress does not break faith with 
these brave servicemembers who have served their country honorably and 
with great sacrifice.
  As Members of the Senate, one of our most serious responsibilities is 
to stand up for the men and women who serve in our armed services. We 
have an obligation to represent their interests, to value and respect 
their service, and to give them the tools and resources they need to 
defend our country. Kicking out thousands of servicemembers simply 
because of their gender identity doesn't make our military stronger, it 
makes our military weaker. It doesn't save taxpayer money, it wastes 
taxpayer money. We have spent millions recruiting and training these 
highly skilled servicemembers.

  I want to be clear to those who misunderstand our U.S. military 
members, to those who somehow think our military cannot handle 
diversity among its servicemembers: Do not underestimate the men and 
women who serve in uniform. They represent the best and strongest among 
  An argument against diversity in the military is wrong. We heard this 
argument during the fight to end racial segregation. We heard it during 
the fight to allow women to serve. We heard it during the fight to end 
don't ask, don't tell, which I was proud to work on with the Republican 
Senator from Maine once again. And here, once again, this argument is 
wrong. Our military is strongest when it represents the Nation it 
  Rather than shrinking the talent pool and telling patriotic Americans 
that they cannot serve, we should be doing everything we can to 
encourage and support them. We should thank them for their devotion to 
service, for their willingness to leave their families for months at a 
time and risk their own lives and safety to protect us.
  This transgender ban affects individuals who were brave enough to 
join the military, men and women who were tough enough to make it 
through rigorous military training, men and women who love our country 
enough to risk their lives for it, to fight for it and even die for it. 
To suggest these brave, tough, and selfless transgender Americans 
somehow don't belong in our military is harmful to our military 
readiness, and it is deeply insulting to our troops.
  Don't tell me that U.S. Air Force SSgt Logan Ireland, who deployed to 
Afghanistan and has earned numerous

[[Page S5725]]

commendations since the ban on transgender service was lifted, should 
be kicked out of our military. Don't tell me a young recruit like U.S. 
Marine Aaron Wixson, who left college to enlist in the field artillery 
and worked diligently with his chain of command during his gender 
transition to meet every requirement asked of him, should be kicked out 
of the military. Do not tell me that Navy LCDR Blake Dremann, who 
identified as transgender while serving in Afghanistan and has deployed 
11 times and won the Navy's highest logistics award and now shapes our 
military policy at the Pentagon--don't tell me he should be kicked out 
of the military. Any individual serving in our military today who meets 
the standards should be allowed to serve, period.
  I urge my colleagues to join me, the Republican Senator from Maine, 
and Senator John McCain, on our bipartisan amendment to allow 
transgender men and women to stay in the military and continue to serve 
our country and keep us safe.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Ms. WARREN. Madam President, I rise today to urge my colleagues to 
support my bipartisan amendment with Senator Lee calling for a ``think 
first'' assessment of recent Russian violations of the Intermediate-
Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the response of the United States.
  The INF Treaty has been the bedrock of European security for nearly 
three decades, and Congress must ask a few reasonable questions before 
we fund a missile research and development program that our military 
leaders have not asked for, that our allies do not want, that would 
undermine the spirit and intent of our longstanding treaty commitment, 
and that would make the world a more dangerous place.
  No one is more concerned about Russia's recent aggression than I am. 
From their annexation of Crimea to their meddling in our election and 
the elections of our allies, Russia's behavior must be met with a firm 
and unequivocal response.
  Last month, I traveled to the Baltics to see firsthand the threat 
Russia poses to NATO allies and to meet with senior U.S. Army officials 
and local political leaders. On that trip, one thing was abundantly 
clear: We need to be tough in the face of Russian provocation, but we 
also need to be smart. That is what our amendment is about today. It 
isn't about playing politics; it is about smart, strategic, informed 
toughness that advances the interests of the United States of America.
  The INF treaty, negotiated and signed by President Reagan nearly 30 
years ago, erased an entire class of nuclear weapons from the European 
continent. It eliminated ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 
to 5,500 kilometers--roughly up to twice the distance between Moscow 
and Paris. This is also the same class of missile that Russia deployed 
earlier this year, in violation of the treaty.
  Russia's treaty violations have been widely reported. There is no 
question that bringing Russia back into compliance with the treaty must 
be a top priority. Russian compliance is in the best interest of the 
United States, it is in the best interest of our European and Asia 
Pacific allies, and it is ultimately in the best interest of the 
Russian Federation. But this is a tough job. Our military leaders have 
told us they see no indication that Russia plans to resume honoring its 
treaty obligations anytime soon.
  In the short term, we must ensure that Russia does not gain a 
military advantage from its violation and that Russia--Russia--takes 
the blame on the world stage for breaking this treaty. We cannot 
accomplish these goals by signaling to the world that we have lost 
faith in the very treaty we seek to preserve. But that is exactly what 
section 1635 of the NDAA would do. This section calls for the 
``establishment of a research and development program for a dual-
capable, road-mobile, ground-launched missile system with a maximum 
range of 5,500 kilometers''--or, in plain language, the development of 
a new nuclear missile that we have publicly sworn never to test or 

  The proposed R&D program is in itself not a violation of the INF 
treaty, which only bans testing and deployment, but there is no denying 
that such a missile program is a violation of the spirit and intent of 
our treaty commitment, and that is exactly how our allies and 
adversaries alike will see it.
  The reality of this proposal is crystal clear: Either we are 
authorizing millions of taxpayer dollars to be wasted on research and 
development of a missile we never intend to build or test, or we are 
pushing the door wide open to an upcoming violation of the INF Treaty.
  In opening that door, we would be signaling not only to the Russians 
but also to our treaty partners around the world that the United States 
is preparing to walk away from a nuclear treaty commitment. In sending 
that signal, we are basically giving Russia the excuse it is looking 
for to shed remaining international constraints, to justify an 
acceleration of its intermediate-range nuclear program, and to spark a 
new contest of nuclear escalation. Such a move can quickly increase the 
number of nuclear weapons deployed throughout the world and send the 
globe into a second cold war reality--a reality where we live with the 
constant threat that one preemptive move, one miscalculation could wipe 
away everything we hold dear.
  Supporters claim that a new missile is needed not only to compete 
with Russia but also to counter a more assertive China, which is not 
bound by the agreement. But I have seen no evidence to support these 
arguments. If anything, a tit-for-tat response is more likely to 
embolden Putin to up the ante by deploying some more missiles and 
perhaps withdrawing from the INF Treaty altogether.
  The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Paul Selva, has 
already told us that a new intermediate-range missile is not necessary 
to hold targets in China at risk.
  To ensure that our response to Russian treaty violations is based in 
international strategy rather than just in knee-jerk responses, Senator 
Lee and I are offering a commonsense amendment requiring that before we 
spend a dime of taxpayer money on the proposed missile program, the 
Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State should work together to 
address a few critical questions.
  First, what is the status, capability, and threat posed to our allies 
by Russia's new ground-launched cruise missile?
  Secretary Mattis has stated that Russia's treaty violation would not 
provide Russia with a ``significant military advantage.'' Is this still 
the Secretary's assessment? General Selva has said: ``Given the 
location of the specific missile and the deployment, [the Russians] 
don't gain any advantage in Europe.'' Is this still the general's 
assessment? We should not blindly commit taxpayer money and undermine 
our treaty commitment without understanding the threat.
  Second, does our military believe that a new ground-launched, 
intermediate-range missile that is not compliant with our treaty 
obligations is our most effective response to Russia?
  The Pentagon did not request funding for a new intermediate-range 
missile. According to a report by the Pentagon just last year, there 
are multiple options on the table to pressure Russia back into treaty 
compliance, including enhancements to the European Reassurance 
Initiative and additional active defenses. That is in addition to the 
other available tools of national power that could strengthen, rather 
than weaken, the INF Treaty.
  The Pentagon advocated for just such a multipronged approach, writing 
that ``Russia's return to compliance with its obligations under the INF 
treaty remains the preferable outcome, which argues against unilateral 
U.S. withdrawal or abrogation of the INF treaty at this time.''
  With the Pentagon reviewing options, Congress's proposed playground 
approach of ``if you build a ground-based missile, I will build one 
too'' is not the strategic response of generals and statesmen. In fact, 
the administration has said that this new program would ``unhelpfully'' 
tie them ``to a specific type of missile system . . . which would limit 
potential military response options'' at a time when DOD, State, and 
Treasury are ``developing an integrated diplomatic, military, and 
economic response strategy to maximize pressure on Russia.'' We must 
let our military leaders and our diplomats

[[Page S5726]]

do their jobs and inform Congress before we act.
  Third question: Will our NATO allies stand with us in this response, 
and will any of our allies even be willing to host such a missile 
system if we decide to deploy it?
  Given our geographic advantages, a missile of this range does no good 
on U.S. soil; it only works if it is installed on the ground of our 
NATO allies.
  The last time the United States weighed a land-based escalation in 
Europe, millions of citizens took to the streets in protest, and in the 
21st century, that call for nuclear disarmament of the European 
continent has only grown. As General Selva recently acknowledged, we 
don't even know whether any of our European allies would permit the 
deployment of a nuclear-capable ground-launched missile on their 
  During the Cold War, Russian deployments of land-based cruise 
missiles targeting Europe were, in part, a ploy to cause division among 
the NATO countries, and the same could be said today. It is critical 
that we respond as one indivisible NATO coalition, unshaken by Russia's 
  So that is it--three must-ask questions deserving of must-have 
answers: What is the nature of the threat? What is the Pentagon's 
recommended military response? What action unites us with our NATO 
allies? Until we have those answers, heading down the path of 
destroying the INF Treaty is grossly irresponsible.

  Support to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and prevent their 
spread to more nations has always been a nonpartisan issue.
  When President Reagan signed this treaty into law, he said that 
``patience, determination, and commitment made this impossible vision 
[of the INF Treaty] a reality.'' Ever since then, the treaty has served 
as the bedrock of our efforts to build a safe and peaceful world in a 
nuclear age; to build a world where schoolchildren spend their days 
learning to read and write, not practicing duck-and-cover drills; to 
build a world where families live in hope for what tomorrow may bring, 
not in fear that a flash of light may sweep away everything they love; 
to build a world that looks to the United States to steadily lead 
toward sustained peace and security. This amendment continues in that 
  I thank Senator Lee for his leadership on this bipartisan effort. 
When we announced this amendment, he said that the amendment ``would 
set the precedent that the [United States] should not immediately react 
to an adversary's treaty violation by violating the same treaty 
ourselves. That's not how working in good faith in the international 
community is done.'' He is right.
  I want to acknowledge Senator Cardin, the ranking member on the 
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Feinstein, a longtime 
arms control champion, and thank them for their leadership to prevent 
nuclear proliferation and ensure that America upholds its international 
obligations. I thank Senator Reed, the ranking member of the Armed 
Services Committee, for his strong support on this issue. We are all 
grateful for his efforts.
  On the 30th anniversary of the treaty, we must give no cause to doubt 
that the United States stands by its word, that it is committed to this 
treaty, and that it is committed to working with allies to bring Russia 
back into compliance.
  The INF Treaty removed thousands of nuclear weapons from the face of 
the globe, and we must be certain that we have exhausted all options 
before we walk away from it.
  Rather than simply dusting off a nuclear escalation play from the 
early 1980s, I ask my colleagues to join us in allowing the Secretaries 
of Defense and State to do their jobs, to weigh the options, and to 
recommend a course of action. I ask them to join us in allowing 
information and strategy to guide our policy. I ask them to join us in 
supporting this amendment to the NDAA.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  Mr. TILLIS. Madam President, I would like to express my support for 
the ongoing deliberative process to address the very valid concerns 
raised with sections 881 and 886 of the fiscal year 2018 National 
Defense Authorization Act. Earlier today, I filed an amendment that 
seeks to clarify the committee's intent with respect to open source 
requirements and intellectual property rights and protections for U.S. 
technology vendors who collaborate with the Department of Defense. I 
want to be clear that this language does not represent the ultimate 
fix, but rather a step in the right direction as we embark on a longer 
policy discussion in conference.
  I want to thank the chairman, my colleagues on the Senate Armed 
Services Committee, and my counterparts on the House Armed Services 
Committee for their commitment to continue this conversation in 
conference. It is essential that we provide both the Department and 
industry the proper tools, protections, and incentives necessary to 
continue these mutually beneficial partnerships on the commercial off-
the-shelf and the custom-developed software side. I am confident we can 
reach consensus and send the President language that clearly 
articulates a fair and sustainable model for existing and future 
  Madam President, as chairman of the Senate Armed Services 
Subcommittee on Personnel, I would like to make a statement for the 
record about an item of special interest related to the Department of 
Defense's use of its intellectual property rights in certain drug 
products within the committee report on the National Defense 
Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018.
  The committee report contains language that directs the Defense 
Department to exercise its rights under the Bayh-Dole Act ``to 
authorize third parties to use inventions that benefited from DOD 
funding whenever the price of a drug, vaccine, or other medical 
technology is higher in the United States'' as compared to prices in 
foreign countries.
  This language is of concern to me for several reasons. The DOD and 
other Federal agencies face significant obstacles such as low 
procurement quantities, high regulatory risk, and complex Federal 
contracting regulations when working to attract the top vaccine and 
drug developers as partners in medical countermeasure development to 
protect the warfighter and America's citizens. Diluting intellectual 
property protections as a means of price control will not only fail to 
meet its objective, but it could significantly hamper the government's 
efforts to develop these critical medical capabilities. The report 
language could lead to decreased investments in medical countermeasures 
development and a drop-off in industry partnerships with DOD that can 
ultimately result in few new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics.
  Bayh-Dole has created a fragile ecosystem of collaboration among 
Federal agencies, public research institutions, and private industry, 
resulting in the commercialization of inventions for use by the 
American people, especially in the area of medical countermeasures 
often developed specifically for our servicemembers and veterans. The 
idea of regulating the price of a commercialized invention was never 
contemplated by Congress when passing the Bayh-Dole Act.
  I have concerns that the committee report language could chill 
medical innovation by raising the risk of a Federal partnership to a 
level that is unacceptable for many private entities. This is 
problematic for small businesses that have less capital to risk on 
products subject to unpredictable price controls. While the 
availability of medical innovations to the American public remains an 
area of great interest to me, I strongly believe that we should pursue 
more appropriate and effective ways to achieve this goal without 
stifling innovation or discouraging public private partnerships.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I have just spoken with Chairman 
McCain about the status of the Defense bill. He and Senator Reed have 
already processed more than 100 amendments to the bill with broad 
bipartisan input. Unfortunately, the two sides have now reached an 
impasse on further amendments. Senator McCain has offered a reasonable 
list that could have been voted on this afternoon, but it appears we 
are not able to enter that agreement because of issues unrelated to 
NDAA. Therefore, it is my hope that we can move to finish the bill 
sooner rather than later and vote to invoke cloture this afternoon.

[[Page S5727]]

  The Senate will vote on a critical HUD nomination after lunch, and it 
is my hope that we can move the cloture vote on NDAA to occur in that 
stack after lunch.
  Our next order of business will be, following the Defense 
authorization bill, the nomination of the Solicitor General. This is 
the person in the Justice Department who argues before the Supreme 
Court, and the Supreme Court October term begins shortly.

                           Order of Procedure

  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that at 1 p.m. today, the 
Senate proceed to executive session for the consideration of Calendar 
No. 109, as under the previous order, and that following disposition of 
the nomination, the Senate resume legislative session and consideration 
of H.R. 2810.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.