CONCURRENT RESOLUTION ON THE BUDGET, FISCAL YEAR 2018--Continued; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 167
(Senate - October 17, 2017)

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[Pages S6427-S6445]
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  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.

                           Amendment No. 1116

       (Purpose: In the nature of a substitute.)

  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I call up amendment No. 1116.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Wyoming [Mr. Enzi] proposes an amendment 
     numbered 1116.

  Mr. ENZI. I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment 
be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  (The amendment is printed in today's Record under ``Text of 
  Mr. ENZI. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. 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the quorum call be rescinded.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, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I come to the floor to discuss the 
Republican tax reform plan and what impact it will have on the fiscal 
health of our Nation but especially the impact it will have on working 
families across the United States and in my home State of Illinois.
  I have represented Illinois in Congress both as a House Member and as 
a Senator for a number of years. I am proud to say that during my 
career, I have not shied away from tackling big issues.

[[Page S6428]]

  Maybe one of the toughest assignments I have ever had was in 2010, 
when President Obama created the National Commission on Fiscal 
Responsibility and Reform. It was known as the Simpson-Bowles 
Commission. I was one of 18 Republicans and Democrats given the 
responsibility of trying to find a way to balance America's budget and 
reform our country's largest spending programs and our Tax Code.
  This was no small task, but it was an important one. We spent month 
after month in bipartisan meetings working at it. Nearly a year after 
the Commission was created, we were asked to vote on the final report.
  Simpson-Bowles was not a perfect plan, but I decided to vote in favor 
of the report, and I knew it would be controversial, but I believed 
then, as I do now, that there is only one honest way to reduce debt: 
cut spending, raise revenues, do not ignore the Tax Code. Bowles-
Simpson did just that. It raised revenue by eliminating a lot of the 
exclusions and deductions and efforts of the Tax Code to reward certain 
companies and special interests, and it cut spending for both defense 
and nondefense. To say nothing of the months-long bipartisan process--a 
far cry from the current reconciliation that we have been going through 
this year on the healthcare issue--there simply is no comparison 
between the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan and what the 
Republicans want to bring to the floor of the U.S. Senate and House 
this year in the name of tax reform.
  Simpson-Bowles was about balancing our budget responsibly. It raised 
nearly $88 billion in revenue over the first decade, and unlike the 
Republican tax plan, it boosted the standard deduction and still 
retained the personal exemptions families claim on their taxes. It 
protected middle-income families from backdoor cuts, and--and I 
underline this--it ensured that the wealthy in America paid their fair 
share of taxes.
  If there is one thing I can never understand, it is why the 
Republicans, in the name of budget deficits or in the name of tax 
reform, always end up in the same place--always cutting taxes on the 
wealthiest people in America. Where in the world is that coming from? I 
have met a lot of wealthy people in the course of my life; not one of 
them, with a straight face, has said to me: Senator, I desperately need 
a tax cut. They don't. Yet that is the fallback default position on 
every Republican plan.
  Importantly, the Simpson-Bowles plan provided details of the hard 
choices necessary to reach our goal. There is simply no comparison 
between that comprehensive, bipartisan plan to balance the budget and 
the highly fiscally irresponsible Republican tax reform plan before us 
now that will literally add $2.4 trillion to the national debt.
  How many times have Members on the Republican side of the aisle come 
to the floor to pose for holy pictures and to preach to us about the 
deficit? Now that they are in the majority and they have a President of 
their party, what is the first thing they do? They propose adding $2.4 
trillion to the national debt.
  Where are my colleagues across the aisle who have been the first to 
speak out and admonish the Democrats about their failure to recognize 
the Federal debt? Where is my colleague the majority leader of the 
Senate who was so quick to rail on the ``alarming level'' of our 
national debt during the Obama years? He is silent now.
  Even the most stalwart of self-proclaimed fiscal hawks on the right 
are falling in line behind this phony plan, which would allow for $1.5 
trillion in unpaid-for tax cuts--clinging on to economic growth 
projections no responsible economist would dream of using. They used to 
call this economic theory of cutting taxes on the rich and economic 
growth the Laffer curve. I have never heard a better named description 
of an economic theory. It is a laugher. And this Laffer curve inspired 
the Governor of Kansas to bring that State to near fiscal ruin, trying 
to apply that great theory and watching his State crumble in the 
  History has proven that tax cuts simply do not yield economic growth. 
The economic growth promises of the Bush tax cuts turned out to be 
completely false. Those tax cuts for the wealthy ballooned our deficits 
and our debt and contributed to a scandalous rise in income inequality 
in the United States of America.
  Tax cuts don't pay for themselves, and I know my Republican 
colleagues know that.
  When Republicans' rosy estimates of economic growth do, in fact, fail 
and the deficit is sky-rocketing, the Republican budget spells out 
exactly how they plan to pay for the tax cuts on the backs of hard-
working Americans. Listen to this. To pay for the tax cuts for the 
wealthiest people in America, the Republican tax reform plan--now, get 
this--uses $1 trillion in cuts from Medicaid and more than $470 billion 
in cuts from Medicare.
  Think about it. Health insurance for the elderly in America will take 
a $470 billion cut under the Republican tax reform plan--for what? To 
give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country--go figure--and 
then $1 trillion in cuts in Medicaid.
  What is Medicaid for? Isn't it just health insurance for the poor? 
Well, in some respects, that is a good general description, but it is 
so much more. The Medicaid Program, which the Republicans return to 
time and time again to cut, is critically important for parts of 
America. Half of the children born in the State of Illinois are taken 
care of by Medicaid. Their mothers are taken care of before the baby is 
delivered and after. Plus, it is the No. 1 source of health insurance 
for the disabled across America. They want to cut $1 trillion out of 
it. I haven't even gotten close to the most expensive part of Medicaid. 
Two-thirds of seniors in America in nursing homes count on Medicaid to 
pay for their medical bills.
  The Republicans want to cut $1 trillion out of Medicaid to give tax 
cuts to the wealthiest people in America. What is going to happen to 
those folks in nursing homes? What is going to happen to the disabled 
who count on Medicaid? What is going to happen to those mothers and 
their babies? That is a legitimate question to ask.
  Make no mistake, the real answer for who pays for these cuts doesn't 
involve fake economics; it involves real families across America.
  Let's look at the plan for what it is. While claiming to fix our 
broken Tax Code, this Republican tax reform plan would instead provide 
nothing short of a windfall for the wealthiest in our country and stick 
hard-working families in Illinois and across the country with the bill.
  Under the Republican plan, no less than 80 percent of the benefits go 
to the top 1 percent of wealthiest Americans. Eighty percent of the 
benefits go to the wealthiest people in this country. That is more than 
three-quarters of all tax breaks going to people who make more than 
$730,000 a year. Is that why Members of the Senate were elected--to 
take care of people making more than $730,000 a year? Not in my State.
  What about the middle-income Americans this plan is supposed to help? 
The Republican plan would raise taxes on nearly one-third of Americans 
who make between $50,000 and $150,000 a year. One-third of them will 
pay higher taxes. That is not tax relief for working families. In fact, 
the Republican plan would eliminate the State and local tax deduction--
a deduction used by one-third of all taxpayers to reduce their tax 
bill. That has been part of our Tax Code from the beginning, and here 
is the theory: We believe, in the current Federal Tax Code, you 
shouldn't pay a tax on a tax. It is basic. If you are paying $1,000 in 
property taxes where you live right now, should you be taxed on that 
$1,000? Under the current Tax Code, no. You are able to deduct State 
and local taxes. The Republicans eliminate that deduction. If they have 
their way, families with homes, families who pay sales taxes will pay a 
Federal tax on the State and local taxes they pay. This deduction 
currently allows families who pay State and local income or sales taxes 
to deduct those taxes from their Federal income tax. In other words, 
this deduction prevents families from double taxation--once by the 
Federal Government and again by the State. Yet the Republicans 
eliminate this deduction.
  In Illinois, we rank fifth in the Nation for people who are helped by 
the State and local tax deduction. The taxpayers I represent will be 
hit especially hard. Nearly 2 million Illinoisans--roughly a third of 
the taxpayers of my State--claimed more than $24 billion in

[[Page S6429]]

State and local tax deductions in 2015. If Republicans have their way, 
almost 2 million people in Illinois would be double-taxed on an average 
$12,500 of earnings. That is just plain wrong.
  Republicans would have you believe that State and local tax deduction 
only helps the wealthy, but most people who take this deduction make 
less than $200,000 a year.
  Even families who do not claim the State and local deduction will see 
their taxes increase under the Republicans' so-called tax reform plan. 
The Republican plan eliminates the personal exemption worth $4,050 a 
person. A family of four making $50,000 a year in my State will pay 
$887 more under this part of the Republican tax reform plan. Getting 
hit by losing the State and local tax deduction and then turning around 
and losing a personal exemption, a family of four in Illinois making 
$50,000 will pay $887 more a year, just on that provision, in Federal 
  What are the Republicans raising taxes on my middle class for? They 
are raising taxes on middle-income families to provide massive tax cuts 
for corporations to the tune of $2.6 trillion over the first 10 years, 
and--Mr. and Mrs. America, sleep well tonight--we are going to take 
care of that with economic growth. Here is the reality: Corporate 
profits are soaring in America. Today, corporate profits in the United 
States of America as a share of gross domestic product are at record 
highs; corporate taxes paid to the Federal Government as a share of 
GDP, record lows. What is the Republican approach to those two facts? 
To cut more corporate taxes.
  Wouldn't it be good to have someone come to the floor and say: 
Instead of just looking at corporate taxes, why don't we look at 
corporate employees? How are they doing? We know how they are doing. 
They are falling behind. They are more productive than ever. The 
corporations are more profitable than ever. Yet the disparity in income 
in America gets worse. We have the best workers in the world--no 
apologies. They do great work. They don't get paid enough. The answer 
on the Republican side is to give the corporations more tax breaks. I 
say the answer should be something else.
  Why don't we address the fact that CEOs in America make 271 times the 
average wage of their employees? Two hundred seventy-one? Come on. If 
they are going to head up these corporations, of course they are 
entitled to be paid more--their profitability, their entrepreneurial 
spirit, their talent, and all the rest--but 271 times? American workers 
are still waiting for their pay raise, and they won't get it with this 
Republican tax reform plan.
  While American workers and their families continue to wait for their 
turn, the Republicans seemed determined to provide tax cuts to 
corporations and the wealthy rather than make the Tax Code work for 
working families. This has to stop. It is time we look at tax reform 
and economic growth in terms of the family room, not the boardroom.
  The very successful Warren Buffett said:

       My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a 
     billionaire-friendly Congress. It's time for our government 
     to get serious about shared sacrifice.

  Thank you, Warren Buffett. I agree.
  If Republicans want to get serious about fixing the faulty incentives 
in our Tax Code and provide working families some relief, it is time 
they stop clinging to the Laffer curve and this failed trickle-down 
policy that giving a tax break to the wealthiest person in America can 
only help the poorest person in America.
  I know these are difficult and complex issues. It is no secret in 
Washington how difficult tax reform can be. But these are issues that 
deserve robust, bipartisan debate. Now is not the time to abandon any 
semblance of fiscal responsibility and rush through this deficit-
exploding plan that has no prayer of paying for itself with growth.
  I hope my Republican colleagues will look beyond the boardroom and 
seize this opportunity to reward and incentivize businesses to make 
real investments in the United States and its workers. Look at this Tax 
Code. If you own a big business in my State of Illinois and want to 
move your business out of Illinois--to Mexico or China or you name it--
we are going to give you a helping hand. Our Tax Code says that the 
cost of the moving expenses are deductible. You don't have to pay taxes 
on those; we are going to give you a break to move your business. What 
are we thinking?
  For goodness' sake, why don't we have what Senator Sherrod Brown and 
I are submitting as an amendment--a patriot employers tax break, a 
patriot corporation tax break. You keep your business in Illinois. You 
keep your business in Ohio. When your workforce grows, it is American 
workers who get the jobs, and the wages you pay for 90 percent of them 
have to be at least $15 an hour. You have to provide health insurance 
and a basic retirement plan that is fair. Give a veterans preference, 
please, to the men and women who served our country. And then we will 
give you a tax break. We won't give it to the company that is ready to 
move overseas; we will give it to the company that is ready to invest 
in the United States and U.S. workers. I think that is a tax policy 
most Americans would say makes sense. Why aren't we talking about that 
kind of approach instead of finding a way to give a tax break to the 
  American workers and families are watching this debate, and they are 
still waiting for a better deal.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Portman). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, this week, the Senate will vote on a budget 
resolution for fiscal year 2018. While there are many elements to this 
particular resolution, most of this Chamber's and the public's 
attention are on the reconciliation instructions related to tax reform.
  Before I go too far, I first want to thank Chairman Enzi and all of 
our colleagues on the Budget Committee for their work on this 
resolution. Chairman Enzi has been a critical player in the ongoing 
effort to reform our broken Tax Code, and his work to craft this budget 
resolution and move it out of committee has been critical to this 
  For the next step, he is going to need help passing the resolution 
here on the floor. I think we will get there.
  Specifically, this budget resolution contains a $1.5 trillion 
reconciliation instruction for tax reform. That is a good number, 
putting meaningful tax reform within reach.
  As the debate over the budget and the instruction moves forward, I 
think it is critical that everyone understand what tax reform will do 
for our country and, perhaps more importantly, what will happen if we 
  Tax reform has been the chief focus of the Senate Finance Committee 
for years now. In the 6\1/2\ years that I have been the lead Republican 
on the committee, we have had about 70 hearings focused on the Tax 
Code. In the vast majority of those hearings, we have heard both 
Democrats and Republicans acknowledge the inefficiency of our current 
tax system, with very few members having spent their time and energy 
defending the status quo, which is not at all surprising.
  Our current tax system imposes undue burdens on middle-class 
families. Our current tax system is obscenely complex, riddled with 
credits, exemptions, and deductions, many of which were designed to 
benefit special interests. Our current tax system's complicated rate 
structure makes it difficult for families to plan and, for some 
workers, creates a disincentive to work for additional earnings. Our 
current tax system subjects American businesses and job creators to the 
highest tax rates in the industrialized world. Our current tax system 
creates incentives for businesses to move headquarters and operations 
offshore, eroding our Nation's tax base. And our current system has 
forced companies to keep trillions of dollars offshore, preventing 
further investment and growth here at home.
  Reform of this broken system is long overdue. The last major overhaul 
to our Tax Code was more than three decades ago. Even if the Tax Code 
hadn't changed dramatically since that time,

[[Page S6430]]

the economy of 1986 was dramatically different from the one we have 
today. Of course, the code has undergone a number of piecemeal changes 
since the 1986 reform, but that approach has left us with a system that 
simply does not work.
  Fundamental change is what our tax system needs--change that takes 
the entire system into account and change that will create a tax code 
that, at the very least, looks as though it was designed on purpose. 
That is what we aim to provide once the Senate and the House have 
passed a consensus budget resolution.
  On the Finance Committee, we are working to craft legislation 
pursuant to the guideposts in the unified framework released last 
month. Our bill, based on the uniform tax reform framework, will give 
much needed relief to millions of low- to middle-income families. It 
will level the playing field for Americans and for American job 
creators and promote more investment in the United States.
  In the end, all of this will mean bigger paychecks for American 
workers, a more vibrant U.S. economy, and more American jobs. But 
without this budget resolution, we are unlikely to get there.
  Don't get me wrong, I would like to produce a tax reform product that 
could get 60 votes. I have spent years asking my Democratic colleagues 
to meaningfully engage in this effort. To be sure, there have been 
Democrats who have been willing to put themselves out there on tax 
reform in recent years, including the former Finance Committee 
chairman, Max Baucus, and our current ranking member, Senator Wyden. 
But they have generally been the exception.
  When President Obama was in office, many Democrats typically talked 
about tax reform only in the context of raising revenues to fuel 
additional spending, which isn't tax reform at all. It is simply 
raising taxes.
  Under President Trump, the focus, at least among many in the 
Democratic leadership, seems to be about preventing passage of anything 
that could be viewed as a win for the President and Republicans in 
Congress. Perhaps I am wrong about that--and I hope I am--but when we 
are talking about tax reform these days, most of the talk from my 
friends on the other side of the aisle has been about unreasonable and 
unprecedented process demands.
  That is unfortunate. There are a number of areas of tax reform where 
Democrats and Republicans are largely in agreement. Those areas include 
middle-class tax relief, bringing down the corporate rates, and fixing 
our international tax system to make American companies more 
  Given these shared concerns, I am still hopeful that some of our 
Democratic colleagues will join us in this effort. I remain willing to 
work with any Member of the Senate who wants to engage in this effort 
in good faith.
  Historically speaking, tax bills that pass through the budget 
reconciliation process tend to have support from both parties. In fact, 
when Republicans have held the White House and Congress, purely 
partisan tax reconciliation bills have not been enacted. That being the 
case, I think the unified framework envisions a tax reform approach 
that both parties can and should support.
  Long story short, I haven't given up on producing a bipartisan tax 
reform package. But, once again, we need to pass this budget resolution 
if we are going to move the ball forward. That being the case, I urge 
my colleagues to support the resolution before us this week and to work 
with us as we develop tax reform legislation that will help middle-
class families and job creators throughout the country.
  With that, 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. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, the first step to achieving our goal of 
overhauling our antiquated and uncompetitive Tax Code is passing a 
fiscal year 2018 budget resolution, and we have made the first step in 
that journey earlier today. No one should be confused about this. A 
vote for the budget is a vote for tax reform. In converse, a vote 
against the budget is a vote against tax reform.
  I don't know anybody in America who thinks that our Tax Code is a 
paragon of simplicity, efficiency, and virtue. To the contrary, I think 
most Americans realize that our Tax Code is simply too complex and that 
our Tax Code punishes taxpayers here at home by keeping overseas money 
earned overseas, rather than being brought back home and being invested 
in jobs and wages in America.
  The budget resolution will steer our Nation into a safer and sounder 
fiscal course through a combination of restraining spending, reducing 
tax burdens, and strengthening our economy. Strengthening our economy 
really needs to be the focus, like a laser, that we have on what we are 
all about here--trying to get the economy to grow again faster.
  We know that since the great recession of 2008, our economy has 
experienced anemic economic growth. Last quarter we saw that our 
economy, instead of growing at the annual rate of about 1.8 percent, 
grew at 3.1 percent. Why is that important? Well, when the economy 
grows faster, that means that people are finding more work to do and 
they are paying their taxes to the Treasury. That eases the financial 
burdens of the U.S. Government while allowing people to keep more of 
what they earn in their pockets.
  Here are some of the goals that we are attempting to accomplish by 
the 10-year budget resolution. First of all, we want to try to restrain 
Federal spending, parts of which go up at the rate of 5.5 percent or 
more a year and is about 70 percent of what the government spends. I 
know most people focus on the 30 percent that Congress appropriates, 
but, really, that is not the biggest part of the problem. That 30 
percent includes about $600-plus billion for defense spending alone. 
But the 70 percent of the money that is spent on auto pilot through 
mandatory spending programs grows at the rate of about 5.5 percent per 
year. That is the reason why we are seeing huge annual deficits and 
unsustainable debt. So restraining spending is an important goal of our 
  Reducing nondefense discretionary spending is also important. Part of 
having a budget is establishing our priorities. That is what we do in 
our household budgets. That is what we do in our individual budget. 
That is what countries need to do in their budgets. We need to 
determine what our No. 1 priority is.
  Well, I happen to believe that the safety and security of the 
American people is our No. 1 priority. That is why I believe defense 
spending is so important. While there are other things we would like to 
do, just like there are other things we would like to be able to buy as 
an individual or as a household, sometimes you simply can't afford it, 
recognizing the priorities that are important to you and to your 
family. Defense spending is the No. 1 priority of the Federal 
Government. Nobody else can do that. We can't do it as individuals. We 
can't do it as States. That is why it needs to be our national 
  This budget also provides for the maximum level of defense funding 
allowed under the law, while allowing for an adjustment if an agreement 
on revised funding levels is reached. It provides a glidepath to an on-
budget surplus, leaving aside Social Security entirely.
  Most importantly, the budget will provide Congress with the roadmap 
forward in the goal of being able to pass tax reform and ultimately 
allowing middle-class Americans to keep more of their hard-earned pay.
  Helping working families is one of the most important benefits of tax 
reform, but it is not the only benefit. Equally important is enhancing 
our Nation's competitiveness in a global economy and achieving growth 
for our job creators.
  We have a self-inflicted wound caused by our Tax Code when competing 
with other countries around the world. We have the highest corporate 
tax rate in the world. Why is that important? Why should we care what 
corporations pay in taxes? Because that influences how much money is 
paid to shareholders. It influences how much money can be paid in wages 
to people employed by

[[Page S6431]]

businesses. What we have seen frankly is a negative incentive for 
companies to move their businesses overseas.
  About a week or so ago I remember reading an article--I think it was 
in the Wall Street Journal--that said IBM now has more employees in 
India than it has in the United States. I am sure that is caused by a 
number of circumstances--perhaps access to the workforce, perhaps the 
markets that are available to the company--but I have to believe that 
at least some of that is caused by our Tax Code. It is cheaper, more 
efficient, and more cost effective to develop those jobs and that 
business overseas than it is here at home. Why in the world would we 
want to sustain that status quo? That is one of the things we are 
trying to do in our tax reform--enhancing our competitiveness and 
achieving growth for our job creators right here in America.
  It used to be that reducing the business tax was a bipartisan effort. 
In 2011, when President Obama was President of the United States, he 
gave a speech to a joint session of Congress where he called it a 
national priority, recognizing that having the highest corporate rate 
in the world moved business overseas and it hurt workers here in 
  The Democratic leader, our friend and colleague from New York, has 
previously advocated reducing that corporate tax rate because he 
recognizes the benefits to workers and working families right here in 
America. So, occasionally, we have to remind them, when they come out 
and say harsh and frankly untrue things about what we are trying to do, 
that they used to be for the very same things that we are now 
advocating for today.

  There are other significant pieces, too, such as those that affect 
the people in my State and those who work in the energy sector. It is 
no secret that Texas leads the Nation in energy production. I know 
people think that it is only about oil and gas, but we are actually the 
No. 1 electricity producer from wind energy in the country. So we 
believe, literally, in an ``all of the above'' policy when it comes to 
  We know that some parts of the energy sector, particularly those 
refiners in the oil and gas sector, spent the past month and a half 
trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey, and at least 25 refineries 
were closed temporarily because of the storm. Why should you or I care 
about refineries that were closed because of the storm? Because all you 
had to do after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas was to look at the price you 
pay for gasoline. It has skyrocketed because of the closed refineries. 
It actually benefits the entire Nation and consumers when energy prices 
are low.
  Operations have now resumed in some areas and, thankfully, some of 
those higher prices at the pump have dropped, but the hurricane 
underscored the need to ensure our energy sector's ongoing dynamism and 
vitality. That is where tax reform can help as well.
  One component of our proposal is a territorial tax system. Companies 
such as Apple, IBM, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil all have 
headquarters in the United States, and they have earned money overseas. 
One has to wonder: Why in the world wouldn't they want to bring that 
back to the United States and invest it in businesses and paychecks 
here in America? That is because under our current tax structure, they 
have to pay taxes on the money they earn overseas, but if they want to 
bring it back to the United States, they have to pay taxes again up to 
a 35-percent corporate tax rate on the same money. So they make the 
rational decision and keep the money overseas. They build their 
businesses there and hire more workers abroad and not here at home. Why 
in the world would we want to maintain that sort of self-destructive 
status quo?
  A new territorial tax system is going to be an important part of tax 
reform, and it is not to help big businesses. It is to help workers who 
are looking for work or people who are working who have had stagnant 
wages and are looking for a little extra in their paycheck each month. 
That is why it is so important.
  In addition, we plan to help decrease the cost of investing in things 
like new plants and equipment in America. Things like expensing rather 
than depreciating over many years investment in new equipment and new 
businesses are really important to encourage those businesses to 
modernize their plants and, again, to hire more workers.
  Tax reform represents an opportunity to cement America's position as 
the world's largest energy producer, as well, rather than one of those 
regulatory exercises that, unfortunately, happens far too often and 
ends up increasing the cost of creating jobs in the energy sector. I 
will continue to be an advocate for the countless number of Texans 
whose livelihoods depend on this sector of our economy while it 
continues to face challenges on a multitude of fronts.
  Getting back to my point about the price of gasoline, if we drive a 
car, we are all paying for gasoline. It just makes sense to do what we 
can to help that price get lower, and we all benefit. One of those ways 
we can do that is through regulatory reform and the second is through 
tax reform.


  Mr. President, I mentioned Hurricane Harvey earlier, but that is not 
the only challenge. Another potential challenge, I should mention, is 
NAFTA. This is the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is a 20-
year-old trade agreement that includes Canada, Mexico, and the United 
States. This is a topic I will have a chance to speak about further at 
the Hoover Institution this afternoon.
  As most of us know, the NAFTA negotiations are ongoing. President 
Trump has said--at least his administration, Ambassador Lighthizer, and 
the Commerce Secretary have said that their attitude toward 
renegotiating NAFTA is first to do no harm. I really appreciate that 
because NAFTA has been an important part of our trading relationships 
with Mexico and Canada, and it supports about 14 million jobs in 
commerce between our 3 countries in North America.
  Since the administration announced its intent to revisit NAFTA, I 
think it is important to revisit the critical role that NAFTA has 
played in all North American energy markets, including electricity, 
renewables, oil, and natural gas. As I wrote in a letter to Ambassador 
Lighthizer this summer, each market is highly integrated with and 
remains dependent on vital energy infrastructure and trade crossings 
that border the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
  Free trade and the free-trade agreements, such as NAFTA, allow the 
United States to maximize the benefits of being the world's largest 
energy producer. If you have been paying attention, you know that our 
energy industry has undergone dramatic changes over the past two 
decades. I remember when we were worried about having to import 
liquefied natural gas from places around the world to our own shores 
before the natural gas revolution took place here in America, thanks to 
improvements in technology and drilling techniques.
  Now we have such cheap and plentiful natural gas that we can export 
that gas around the world. It is just not an economic boom. It is a way 
for us to provide alternative energy resources to some of our friends 
and allies around the world, particularly in Europe, where Mr. Putin 
uses energy as a weapon, threatening to shut off energy supplies if 
countries in his neighborhood don't cooperate.
  So opening Mexico's energy market has positioned U.S. companies to 
meet Mexico's needs for technical expertise and capital. As my friends 
south of the border reminded me, they said the Eagle Ford shale, which 
is one of the most plentiful sources of natural gas in the world, 
doesn't stop at the Rio Grande. So as we provide additional technical 
expertise and capital to Mexico, we can expect for them to experience 
the sort of energy renaissance we ourselves have experienced in the 
United States.
  During the NAFTA negotiations, we should seek to promote North 
American energy security by maintaining and protecting rules that 
reduce or eliminate barriers to U.S. investment in Mexico and Canada. 
Opportunities like this are why NAFTA could benefit from an update 
rather than a repeal.
  Former Secretary of State George Shultz reminded us yesterday in the 
New York Times that NAFTA has helped a wide range of U.S. manufacturing 
industries like auto, electronics, and aerospace become more 
competitive relative to their foreign competitors. Secretary Shultz 
also pointed out

[[Page S6432]]

how that increased competitiveness is fostered. It has resulted mainly 
from the development throughout the last 24 years of strong vertical 
supply chains that take advantage of economies of scale. Thanks to 
NAFTA, economic production can take place wherever in North America it 
is most efficient.
  Let's remember all of this as negotiations continue. Let's seek to 
preserve all of the good we have inherited from NAFTA and update all 
that is outdated in NAFTA.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
  (The remarks of Mr. Flake pertaining to the introduction of S. 1974 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mr. FLAKE. I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Strange). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for up 
to 10 minutes, followed by the Senator from Washington, Mrs. Murray, to 
speak for up to 10 minutes
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, later this week, Senator Murray and I, 
with other Senators, will introduce bipartisan legislation to give 
States additional flexibility to create more choices of health 
insurance policies in the individual market and to extend cost-sharing 
reduction subsidies during 2018 and 2019. These subsidies pay for 
copays and deductibles for millions of low-income Americans who buy 
health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Our goal is to 
stabilize and then lower the cost of premiums and to enable all 
Americans to have access to health insurance.
  Our legislation will be based on the four hearings and other meetings 
that the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee held 
last month. I am chairman of that committee, and Senator Murray is the 
ranking Democratic member. These hearings and meetings were bipartisan. 
They were lengthy. They were remarkable in this sense: They engaged 
nearly 60 Senators from both political parties in extensive 
discussions. We not only had the four hearings, which involved the 23 
members of our HELP Committee, but we invited any other Senator who 
wished to come to a committee meeting ahead of time to meet the 
Governors and the State insurance commissioners and others who were 
testifying, and 37 did. So we have had extensive participation by 60 
Members of the U.S. Senate through four hearings and a variety of 
committee meetings in the process that developed this legislative 
proposal that Senator Murray and I have agreed upon.
  According to witnesses at our hearings, according to the 
Congressional Budget Office and Congress's Joint Tax Committee, without 
these cost-sharing payment reductions, premiums will rise, the Federal 
debt will increase to pay for the higher subsidies by $194 billion over 
10 years, and up to 16 million Americans may find themselves living in 
counties where no company sells insurance in the individual market.
  Imagine yourself as a 45-year-old songwriter in Tennessee who loses 
her job, has three kids, goes to the individual market, and finds that 
she can't buy health insurance; no company is offering it because we 
did not act. Those are the consequences we are talking about.
  Witnesses also testified that one way to lower costs for consumers is 
to give States more flexibility than the Affordable Care Act now allows 
to design health insurance plans that give consumers more choices.
  We have purposefully limited our proposal to two themes: first, 2 
years of temporary cost-sharing payments and, second, amendments that 
would give States meaningful flexibility in using the section 1332 
innovation waiver, which is already a part of the Affordable Care Act.
  The problem with the waiver is that while it was designed to give 
States the opportunity for innovation, it has been very restrictive. It 
limited the number of opportunities States could use. It would be like 
saying to someone: You can drive anywhere you want to in the United 
States as long as you end up in New York or in Nashville or in 
Birmingham, AL. Our goal is still to protect patients but to give 
States more flexibility in offering more choices.
  There are, of course, many other good and useful ideas that would 
improve Federal laws regulating health insurance. There are many on the 
Republican side, and there are many on the Democratic side. There are 
probably even ideas that both of us would agree on, but Congress has 
been stuck for 7 years in a partisan stalemate over the Affordable Care 
Act. Most of that stalemate is about the individual insurance market.
  Most people get their insurance from the government, Medicare, or 
Medicaid. Most of the rest of the people get their insurance from their 
employer on the job; that is 50 or 60 percent of Americans. Only 6 
percent of Americans get their insurance in the so-called individual 
market. It is about 350,000 people in Tennessee. Every single one of 
them is very important, and every single one of them is terrified by 
the skyrocketing premiums in that market and by the possibility that 
they might not be able to buy insurance at all in that market if we 
don't act.
  We concluded that the best course would be to take this limited, 
bipartisan first step, which would avoid the chaos that could occur 
during 2018 and 2019 if premiums continue to skyrocket and millions of 
Americans find themselves without a way to purchase health insurance. 
Once we complete this limited first step, then we can take the second 
and the third steps.
  I want to undersell this proposal rather than oversell it. It has 
significant advantages in terms of cost-sharing reductions, which make 
it more likely that premiums will stabilize in 2018 and actually go 
down in 2019. It has significant advantages in changing the law so that 
States will have more flexibility in offering choices, which is another 
way to lower costs, but it is only a limited first step.
  Senator Murray and I hope that by the end of the week we can present 
Senate leadership--Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer--with the 
support of a significant number of Republican and Democratic Senators. 
We then hope the Senate will pass the legislation, the House will agree 
to it, and the President will sign it.
  During the last several days, I have had encouraging discussions with 
President Trump, who called me on two different occasions, encouraging 
me to work with Senator Murray to come to a bipartisan agreement. I am 
grateful to him for that encouragement, and I am grateful to her for 
her patience and for working on this so diligently for such a long 
period of time. I see she has just come to the floor.
  I think one other thing Senator Murray and I can agree on is that we 
hope our next legislative assignment is easier than this one. I think 
we both also agree that the sooner we act, the better, so Americans 
will have the benefit of lower premium costs and the peace of mind of 
knowing that they will be able to buy insurance for themselves and 
their families.
  I would like to say through the Chair to Senator Murray that I asked 
for 10 minutes to speak, and then I asked for 10 minutes for her to 
follow me. I am about finished, and when I am through, then she has the 
floor, according to my request.
  I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a brief summary 
of the agreement that Senator Murray and I have.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

  lower premiums, more state flexibility, zero score, avoid chaos in 
                               2018, 2019

            Make Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers Work

       Amend law to provide meaningful flexibility for health plan 
       --Example: Iowa waiver
       --Example: higher co-pay opioids, lower co-pay statins
       --Example: Medicaid savings for Sec. 1332 costs (NH)
       --Repeal 2015 Regulation and Guidance
       ``Alaska for All'' (Maine, Minnesota)

[[Page S6433]]

       --State-based program to cover very sick
       --20% premium decrease for everyone
       --NO new federal spending; savings help pay for the fund
       Streamline approval process
       --Governors apply for waiver
       --Federal waiver approval time in half
       --Fast-track approval for emergency situations
       --Fast-track approval for ``me too'' waivers
       --Waivers can last longer (6 years)
       --Harder for future administrations to cancel waiver
       --Model waivers help states get approved faster

            New Copper Plan: Catastrophic Insurance All Ages

       Interstate Health Insurance Compacts: Texas Public Policy

   Redirect Existing User Fee Funding to States for Consumer Outreach

   2 Years Funding Cost Sharing Reduction Subsidies (Zero score), No 
                 Double Dipping by Insurance Companies

              Chaos Without Cost Sharing (CBO, JCT, CMS):

       --20% average premium increases in 2018
       --$194 billion new federal debt over ten years
       --50% counties with one insurer today--would get worse
       --Up to 16 million Americans with zero insurance options on 
       --Four-lane highway to single payer solution

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I have said repeatedly over the last 
several weeks that while it is important that the two of us, as the 
chairman and the ranking member of the HELP Committee, come to an 
agreement, that is not nearly enough because our real job was and is to 
see if we can find, among a significant number of Republicans and a 
significant number of Democratic Senators, a consensus that will cause 
this to be enacted, will cause the Senate to pass it and the House to 
pass it and the President to sign it. In my opinion, we wouldn't have 
come to an agreement ourselves unless we thought that was likely.
  I will not go into the specific provisions that are in this, except 
to briefly summarize them. The first group of them makes the section 
1332 innovation waivers work by giving more flexibility. In New 
Hampshire, for example, the State would like to use Medicaid savings to 
help pay for the cost of its Affordable Care Act waiver, and this would 
allow that. In Maine, for example, the State has applied for a waiver. 
The waiver has been approved, but the use of the funding has not been 
approved. This would allow that. Alaska, Oklahoma, Iowa, for example, 
all have waivers in line that they would like to submit to give a 
greater variety of choices in their States and hopefully lower premium 
costs, but it is too restrictive under the current conditions.
  About the only sort of waiver that the current Director of the 
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services can approve is the Alaska-
type waiver, which is a good idea. Alaska created a reinsurance fund, 
which helped the very sick Alaskans, immediately lowered premiums 20 
percent for all other Alaskans, and then used the savings from the 
lower subsidies as a result of the lower premiums to pay for 85 percent 
of the cost of the fund. Minnesota has tried a similar thing. Maine did 
that on its own a few years ago. We have streamlined the approval 
process for those waivers, so that can be done more easily.
  I would emphasize that a number of these, while they are limited 
proposals, could not be done in a budget reconciliation process. They 
had have to be done with 60 votes.
  The proposal also includes what we call a new copper plan, 
catastrophic insurance for all ages. We still keep the patient 
protections; that is, preexisting conditions, et cetera. We still keep 
the essential health benefits, but we allow someone who is healthy and 
young, for example, to pay a higher deductible and a lower premium if 
that is what they choose to do. We direct the Department of Health and 
Human Services to go ahead and write regulations to encourage 
interstate health insurance compacts. We compromised on the outreach 
funding and agreed that we will spend about twice as much as or more 
than President Trump wanted to expend, but we will do most of that by 
grants to the States. And of course we agree on 2 years of funding for 
the cost payments.

  Finally, I would say that if we do not do this, according to the 
Congressional Budget Office, the Joint Tax Committee, and CMS, premiums 
next year will increase 20 percent, there will be a $194 billion 
increase in the Federal debt over 10 years, and up to 16 million 
Americans might find themselves unable to buy insurance through the 
individual market. In my view, this agreement avoids chaos, and I don't 
know a Democrat or a Republican who benefits from chaos.
  I thank President Trump for his encouragement to me and to Senator 
Murray to try to succeed on this. I thank Senator Schumer, the 
Democratic leader, for creating an environment in which we could get to 
this point. I thank the majority leader, Senator McConnell--despite his 
focus on tax reform--for allowing us to work together and try to do 
this. I especially thank Senator Murray, who, whenever she sets about 
to get a result, I have found, she usually gets one. I could not have a 
better partner to work with on difficult issues in the Senate. In fact, 
the one thing we probably most agree on, we found the most difficult to 
solve; that is, in 2018, we want to make sure that the cost-sharing 
payments go to the benefit of consumers, not the insurance companies. I 
want that. Senator Murray wants that. The President wants that. My 
Republican colleagues want that. And I know Democrats want it. We 
believe we have strong language in our proposed agreement to do that, 
but we are going to make sure that it is the strongest possible 
  I thank the Presiding Officer. I look forward to working with Senator 
Murray over the next few days to see if we can find a consensus among 
Republicans and Democrats to present to the Senate leadership. I hope 
that we can then pass it, the House will pass it, and the President 
will sign it.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I wish to thank Chairman Alexander for 
his tremendous work on this. I am very grateful for his leadership in 
supporting a bipartisan discussion under regular order in the HELP 
Committee and his determination to see it to this point and beyond.
  I remember very clearly back in July when it was clear that the so-
called skinny repeal didn't have the votes to pass. We talked right 
then and there about getting to work on ways to stabilize the 
healthcare market and protect patients and families from premium spikes 
as a result of the uncertainty this administration caused. We were able 
to engage nearly half the Senate in our hearings and conversations on 
the HELP Committee, and we found that there was a lot more that we 
agreed on than we disagreed on when it came to strengthening healthcare 
and controlling costs in the near term.
  Since then, actions by this administration have made our work more 
urgent. So I am very glad Democrats and Republicans agreed to work 
together to address this, and I am extremely pleased that, with the 
input of Members on both sides of the aisle, as well as Governors and 
patients and advocates, we were able to reach an agreement that I hope 
will set the healthcare discussion in Congress on a very different path 
than the one we have all seen for the last 7 years.
  This agreement provides certainty on the reduction of out-of-pocket 
payments for the next 2 years. It will address attempts by this 
administration to keep people from getting enrolled in the care they 
need. It takes a number of very strong, bipartisan steps to offer 
States more flexibility to innovate in the way the Affordable Care Act 
intended, without undermining the essential health benefits, such as 
maternity care and mental health coverage, or burdening people who have 
preexisting conditions.
  This is an agreement I am proud to support, not only because of the 
important steps to strengthen our healthcare system but because of the 
message it sends about the best way to get things done in this 
Congress. The way to deliver results, as Chairman Alexander says, for 
patients and families is to work under regular order, to find common 
ground rather than retreating to partisan corners, and to hear from our 
experts and our families and our Members on both sides of the aisle 
rather than reciting talking points to each other. We know that is true 

[[Page S6434]]

just a month ago, the idea of an agreement between Republicans and 
Democrats on healthcare seemed impossible at best, if not improbable. 
Thanks to the strong, bipartisan work of Chairman Alexander and many of 
our Members, we have been able to bridge the divide.
  I strongly believe that patients and families in every State across 
our country will be stronger if we can get this agreement signed into 
law. I urge my colleagues to not only support it but to continue 
working together because there is no question we have work to do.
  I thank Chairman Alexander and all the Republicans and Democrats who 
have been so engaged in this effort, and I echo the comments of Senator 
Alexander about what is in the bill. I won't repeat them. I agree with 
his last comments that we both want to make sure the payments go to 
consumers. We are working on that language, and I wish to assure our 
colleagues that is our joint intent as we get this language finalized 
and put into place.
  I thank the Presiding Officer for this short amount of time during a 
busy day on the floor. I again thank Chairman Alexander, and I remain 
committed to him to get this done in the right way for the people of 
this country.
  Mr. President, 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. HEINRICH. 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. HEINRICH. Mr. President, I rise to oppose this deeply flawed 
budget that is terrible for America and particularly harmful to working 
  The Republican plan that we face today is a budget-busting first step 
toward issuing massive tax breaks to special interests and to wealthy 
individuals. This proposed budget fails to improve economic growth or 
to drive up wages. It should look awfully familiar to all of us because 
it is a retread of the failed trickle-down economics which exploded 
budget deficits in the 1980s and squandered the budget surplus we had 
briefly in the early 2000s. That trickle-down theory ruined our budget 
and failed to grow the economy then, and we cannot afford to relive 
those failed policies now.

  Our Nation faces significant economic challenges today that need to 
be addressed directly. Wages have barely improved in the past 20 years; 
the costs of education, childcare, and other essential living expenses 
continue to climb.
  Job creation is slowing. From February through September of this 
year, the economy added the lowest number of jobs in 7 years. Wages are 
also falling this year. Since the Trump administration took over, 39 
States and the District of Columbia have seen workers' wages decline, 
after adjusting for inflation. Nearly 4 in 10 rural families don't have 
access to high-speed internet and the opportunities it affords.
  We all know many of the communities we represent, in both rural and 
urban areas, still have not fully recovered from the great recession. 
Yet this budget only makes life harder for working families by cutting 
vital programs and critical services that invest directly in those 
communities. The Republican budget ignores our current reality and 
makes it tougher for American families to afford a college education or 
access quality healthcare coverage. As we saw through last week's 
executive actions, the Trump administration remains singularly focused 
on taking away healthcare from 20 million Americans and sabotaging the 
system for those left. This proposed budget would take us deeper down 
that destructive path.
  The Republican 2018 budget cuts more than $5 trillion over the next 
decade in healthcare, education, transportation, medical research, and 
other critical investments. It slashes Medicaid by $1 trillion and 
Medicare by more than $470 billion. When they are done, these budget-
busting tax giveaways will leave other Federal efforts with a gaping 
$660 billion hole, bringing our domestic Federal investments as a share 
of our Nation's GDP to the lowest levels since the Hoover 
  If you are at home listening, all of that sounds pretty unbelievable. 
Washington Republicans wouldn't really jeopardize our Nation's 
healthcare, our educational system, our rural communities, and bust the 
budget all at the same time, right? Unfortunately, all of that is true 
when we look at the details of this failing budget. Again, this is all 
based on a brazen theory that led to the failed and harmful tax 
policies of the past.
  The real question we should be asking now is, How do we improve our 
communities, grow our economy, and drive up wages for hard-working 
families? That is what I am focused on when I look at the budget.
  Republicans believe step one should be to take funds out of Medicare, 
out of education, out of infrastructure, and pull healthcare away from 
the working poor. Then step two of their plan is to give all that money 
to wealthy political interests under the ruse that regular people, 
someday, will be better off because America's elite investing class 
will have done something spectacular with the money we just sucked out 
of our communities.
  It is truly amazing that this idea continues to resurface because the 
promise of wild economic growth and trickle-down benefits has failed to 
materialize time and time again. What we have found is, working 
families, rural communities, and others who are robbed to finance this 
type of plan are the ones who suffer, all to put money into other 
people's pockets.
  Who exactly loses in this budget? For starters, senior citizens, who 
will see Medicare cut $470 billion, to be exact. Let me say that again. 
This Republican budget cuts Medicare to the tune of nearly half a 
trillion dollars.
  Children, working families, and people in need of opioid treatment 
will be pounded by Medicaid cuts of more than $1 trillion. Medicaid 
cuts will lead to millions losing their coverage. They will unravel the 
progress we have made fighting the opioid epidemic, jeopardize mental 
health coverage, and force many rural hospitals to close.
  The hit will be especially hard in rural areas, where more than 12 
percent of rural hospital revenue comes from Medicaid. In New Mexico, 
Medicaid actually accounts for more than 20 percent of hospital revenue 
in rural areas.
  For seniors, the Medicare and Medicaid cuts together will have 
devastating consequences. Let's look at one example, Alzheimer's 
disease. Medicare and Medicaid together pay for nearly 70 percent of 
care for those 65 and older with Alzheimer's. These deep cuts will 
force families to make a terrible choice between working and caring for 
their family members. Already, 15 percent of caregivers to someone with 
Alzheimer's have left their jobs or retired early in the past year due 
to their caregiving responsibilities. Cutting Medicare and Medicaid, 
when Alzheimer's costs are getting higher and no cure is in sight, will 
saddle individuals and their families with massive costs and hardship.
  The devastation this budget will create does not stop there. More 
than 8 million students will see their Pell grants cut by one-third. 
That is right. Republicans want to cut investments in education so they 
can give special interests a tax break. These are Americans who are 
striving for a college degree, who just want a fair shot at opportunity 
without being crushed by debt. Pell grants are the primary form of 
financial aid for so many students, giving them access to an education 
that might otherwise be out of reach.
  This chart pretty much sums up what I have been saying about the 
priorities reflected in this budget: tax cuts over investments in 
things like Medicare, Medicaid, education. The picture is pretty clear. 
They are taking direct investments away from our people and our 
communities and instead giving those dollars away as part of a 
convoluted plan that leaves the wealthy better off.
  What is more amazing about this plan is that Republicans have changed 
budget rules to allow them to add $1.5 trillion to the debt while doing 
it. For many years, the Conrad rule in the Senate specifically 
prohibited reconciliation legislation from increasing the deficit in 
the first 10 years. It was what reconciliation bills were designed to 
do--reduce the deficit. Then, Republicans repealed that rule in 2015 

[[Page S6435]]

threw any illusion of fiscal responsibility out the window.
  Remember when Republicans believed in fiscal responsibility and 
balanced budgets? Under President Trump, Republicans barely give these 
values lip service--and this year's budget goes even further than 
before to reject fiscal reason. It removes a Senate requirement for the 
CBO--the Congressional Budget Office--to issue a cost estimate a day 
ahead of votes on the Senate floor, the so-called 28-hour rule. Why? 
Because they want to hide how fiscally irresponsible these votes are 
from their constituents and the American people.
  Finally, the Republican budget assumes far faster growth than the CBO 
could possibly justify under even the rosiest assumptions. This 
backward math says that their budget magically delivers $1.24 trillion 
in deficit reduction. According to the Tax Policy Center, the 
Republican tax plan will reduce revenues by $2.4 trillion over the 
first 10 years and another $3.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The 
actual cost far exceeds the Republican estimates.
  Where do all the tax cuts go? Most of them go to wealthy folks who 
are doing just fine without them. We don't need to be doling out tax 
breaks to wealthy trust-funders when families in Las Cruces, Gallup, 
and Santa Rosa are struggling to make ends meet, don't have high-speed 
internet, and haven't gotten a raise in years, in some cases.
  Under this Republican plan, the top 0.1 percent will receive a tax 
cut of more than $700,000 a year. It would take a typical household in 
my State nearly 15 years--15 years of work and earning--just to match 
the giveaway being provided to a single wealthy investor under this 
budget. That is not just wrong, it is downright sickening.
  Part of this massive benefit to the rich comes from the creation of a 
special rate for passthrough income of 25 percent. This plan is 
designed to help large law firms and hedge funds that, in my mind, 
don't need a special tax break to further enrich themselves. Millions 
of working families will actually face higher taxes as a result. Under 
the Republican tax plan, nearly 8 million working households will 
actually see an average tax hike of $794. Now, $800 may not seem like a 
lot if you are working on Wall Street, but $800 is a lot for people 
working hard on relatively modest incomes in New Mexico.
  Unfortunately, as I said earlier, we have seen this movie before. We 
don't need another bad sequel.
  This Republican plan delivers higher deficits and fewer community 
investments. Tax cuts in 1981 and the early 2000s led to less revenue 
as a share of GDP and higher deficits. The national debt nearly tripled 
under President Reagan and nearly doubled under President George W. 
  We have also seen the dangers of reckless tax cuts for the wealthy at 
the State level. In Kansas, Republicans slashed individual rates by 
more than 20 percent and abolished taxes on passthrough income. Sound 
familiar? Since the tax cuts were enacted in 2012, the State's revenue 
plummeted, and Kansas has buckled under an economy that has trailed the 
United States in job, wage, and economic growth.
  A recent study found that for tax cuts to pay for themselves, the 
economy would have to grow $5 to $6 for every single dollar of cuts. 
Yet the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation found that tax cuts 
generate nowhere near that amount. According to them, each dollar of 
tax cuts would lead to only 4 cents to, at best, $1.25 in new economic 
  The evidence is clear. Large tax cuts for special interests and for 
the rich simply don't pay for themselves. As we have seen, time and 
time again, trickle down only works in fake, so-called think tank 
models, not in real life.
  Rather than rely on disproven theories, we should be investing in 
what we know actually works in increasing wages and accelerating 
economic growth. Expanding the earned-income tax credit, for example, 
has proven to be effective at increasing the living standards of 
working families. It effectively raises their wages. Let's strengthen 
and make fully refundable the child tax credit.
  Instead of slashing infrastructure spending, as this budget does, we 
should be investing to prepare our Nation to compete. Investing in 
infrastructure is proven to create good-paying jobs and stimulate our 
overall economy. President Trump talked about infrastructure investment 
incessantly on the campaign trail. Where is that rhetoric today? Where 
is that commitment today? Sending kids to high-quality pre-K is shown 
to improve both theirs and, for that matter, their parents' economic 
  We need to invest in clean energy because it is cheaper, because it 
is good for the economy, and because all of our future livelihoods 
depend on addressing climate change. The renewable energy sector is a 
place where jobs are growing rapidly in New Mexico--and not just in 
urban metro areas but especially in rural communities.
  We need to invest in Federal research and development that has led to 
the internet, to the GPS, to the laser, and to lifesaving medical 
breakthroughs. We must ensure that startups can access the capital they 
need to launch and grow their businesses, whether they are in rural New 
Mexico or downtown Detroit. We need to close the digital divide so that 
every person in America, regardless of ZIP Code, has access to high-
speed internet that connects people and communities to financial and 
educational opportunities.

  Democrats have a plan to grow the economy, to increase wages, and to 
improve the lives of folks who work on Main Streets across this 
country. Our plan connects people with the opportunities that will 
exist tomorrow.
  The Republican plan is very different. It is written by the lobbyists 
on K Street, with much of the benefit flowing to the investment bankers 
on Wall Street. Regrettably, Republicans are pursuing the same partisan 
process with the budget and with tax reform that failed when they tried 
to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  The cost of Republican chaos and backward thinking is growing by the 
day, and this budget will continue that process. We need bipartisan, 
pragmatic solutions to the challenges that our country faces.
  To all of my colleagues, we are asking simply to do what we know 
works. Let's work across the aisle through regular order to get things 
done for our constituents.
  Mr. President, I yield back.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, I wish to thank my colleague, the Senator 
from Wyoming, chairman of the Budget Committee, Mr. Enzi, for allowing 
me, as the vice chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, some time on 
the Senate floor to discuss the budget.
  Our budget process is important, and it has long been in a period of 
neglect. It needs reform. That is what I am here to talk about today. 
There are so many areas that are affected by our budgeting process or, 
at least, that should be. In fact, it is difficult to conceive of any 
aspect of the Federal Government that couldn't be or shouldn't be 
addressed through the budgeting process.
  When we look at the budget process, it is important for us to focus, 
to one degree or another, on the Budget Act of 1974. This is an old 
law. Forty-three years in statute has not exactly improved it. It 
hasn't matured into something better. In other words, rather than a 
piece of art that has appreciated in value over time, this is something 
more akin to the 8-track tape player that you might have purchased in 
1974 to go inside your Ford Pinto, which would explode upon impact. 
This is something that didn't really improve in the 43 years since it 
was passed, especially not the way we have followed it or, better said, 
the way we have utterly failed to follow it.
  One of the best ways to describe the budgeting process, prescribed by 
the Budget Act of 1974, is that it is nonbinding. It is less 
legislation than it is legislative fiction. It is aspirational in the 
sense that it aims for what could be and what should be, except no one 
actually aspires to it. In Congress, we don't get to the aspiration, 
basically, ever. It is reminiscent almost of the immortal words of St. 
Augustine. When he was undergoing his transition to Christianity, he 
famously said: ``Lord, grant me chastity . . . but not yet''--always 
wanting to restrain oneself later and not now, even though the need for 
restraint, the need for reform is present now, is calling out for 
reform right now. That is why it is important to remember that what 
comes next is

[[Page S6436]]

important, and next is now. We are discussing the budget this week, and 
it is important that we focus on these issues right now.
  We do have a system that has to be kept carefully in balance. That 
balance depends on Congress keeping the national interest front and 
center. It depends on Congress being willing to restrain itself and 
follow the dictates of our constitutional structure. We have failed on 
these scores.
  Congress collectively, actively, almost defiantly avoids the very 
type of accountability built into our constitutional structure--the 
type of accountability called for by article I of the Constitution. 
Article I, the very first clause of the first section of the first 
article of the Constitution, makes clear that if you are going to make 
policy within the Federal Government, if you are going to establish 
norms that will be enforceable as generally applicable laws within our 
Federal Government, you have to go through Congress.
  ``All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress 
of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of 
Representatives.'' Article I, section 1 tells us that.
  Article I, section 7 tells us that in order to make a law in our 
Federal system, you first have to pass something through the House of 
Representatives and the Senate, and then you have to submit it to the 
White House. You cannot make law without going through that process. 
That process is also worked in for a budgeting process.
  The way the Budget Act of 1974 is supposed to work, the way our 
budget process is supposed to operate is that we will pass a series of 
laws appropriating money in various aspects of the Federal Government. 
We have a budget that gets passed first, which is an aspirational 
statement not submitted to the President. It is a resolution passed 
jointly by both Houses of Congress that sets budgeting priorities. 
Then, following from those priorities, there are supposed to be 13 
separate appropriations bills that spend money, that allocate the 
scarce resources of the Federal Government, understanding that they are 
finite to each of the major areas of government spending.

  There will be one bill, for example, that funds National Defense. 
There is another bill that will fund our Justice Department or Federal 
court system. There is another bill that will fund, for example, our 
national parks, and so on and so forth. When you follow that formula, 
you avoid the kind of circumstance in which we push all spending 
decisions into one legislative package, setting up a potential for 
  A common analogy that I sometimes use to describe this is, imagine if 
you live in an outlying area, in an area where there is only one 
grocery store for 100, maybe 200 miles around. Upon moving there, 
suppose, on your way home from work, you receive a phone call from your 
significant other telling you to stop by the store: Don't come home 
without bread, milk, and eggs. You don't need everything else. Just get 
bread, milk, and eggs.
  You go to the grocery store. You get your shopping cart, and you put 
in your bread, milk, and eggs. You get to the checkout counter. You put 
out your bread, milk, and eggs.
  The cashier says to you: Excuse me, there is a problem. You can't buy 
just bread, milk, and eggs. This is a special kind of store where you 
can't buy bread, milk, and eggs unless you also buy a bucket of nails, 
one-half ton of iron ore, a Barry Manilow album, and a book about 
cowboy poetry. In fact, for that matter, this is the kind of store 
where you have to buy one of every item in order to buy anything else. 
That is kind of what it is like every time we pass a spending bill 
lately because, even though the Budget Act of 1974 contemplates 12 or 
13 separate appropriations bills, each addressing one discreet aspect 
of the Federal Government's spending, we end up, more often than not--
in fact, basically every single time for the last 6 of \1/2\ years I 
have been serving here, and even longer than that, we end up passing 
either a continuing resolution, which basically is a reset button 
saying that we will continue to spend next year at the same rate we 
have been spending this year, subject to these minor exceptions or, 
alternatively, we might pass an omnibus spending bill, which can be 
1,000, maybe 2,000 pages long, sometimes longer, and identify all the 
areas in which we will be spending but put into one unified bill.
  The problem with these bills, the way we have tended to do continuing 
resolutions and omnibus spending bills, is that we tend to consider and 
pass them under a compacted time agreement in the final hours or 
minutes before a cliff. By ``cliff,'' I mean an arbitrary deadline, 
after which a spending measure already in place will expire. So if 
there is a spending bill that expires on September 30 of a particular 
year, it is not uncommon for us to address a spending bill on September 
30, sometimes late in the day on September 30 or in the days leading up 
to it.
  It is not uncommon for Members of Congress to be told at that moment: 
You have two choices. You can either pass this as is and have 
everything funded more or less as it has been or you can shut down the 
  Nobody really wants to cause a government shutdown. Certainly, nobody 
wants to be accused of shutting down the government.
  Most Members tend to vote for it, and then the American people 
continue to get what they have been getting. They continue to operate a 
Federal Government that spends about $4 trillion a year, with little or 
no control, even by the people's own elected Representatives in 
Congress, whose job it is to do these things over their own government. 
This is wrong.
  We shouldn't be governing this way. Yet there is a touch of irony in 
this in that we govern this way, I think, at least in part, because of 
a fear of public outcry against the process or criticism about the 
process in which we might engage. Yet, as we undertake this process, 
which undercuts that process altogether and sidesteps it, as we have 
avoided that studiously in order to avoid criticism, we have seen 
Congress's approval rating plummet. In fact, if you look at most 
opinion polls these days, it puts our approval rating as an institution 
right around 10 percent. The last time I checked, in the United States 
of America, that makes us less popular than Fidel Castro. It makes us 
only slightly more popular than the influenza virus, which is rapidly 
gaining on us.
  If what we are wanting to do is avoid criticism, then the last thing 
we ought to do is continue to do what we have been doing, which is to 
consolidate all spending decisions into one legislative package to be 
addressed at the end of the fiscal year, telling Members they have to 
either vote for it or be blamed for a government shutdown. That is 
wrong. That shuts out the American people, and it makes their 
government unaccountable to them.
  In the process, we avoid reforming a lot of programs that need 
reforming. Among other things, we avoid reforming entitlement spending. 
It is important when we think about entitlement spending and how it 
needs to be reformed to remember the immortal words of President John 
F. Kennedy, who said that ``to govern is to choose.'' But today, to 
budget is not to choose or to choose in advance not to choose, to avoid 
choosing altogether.
  We are $20 trillion in debt, and we choose to ignore that. Twenty 
trillion dollars is an enormous amount of money, as is the interest we 
pay on that sum every single year, which is about $250 billion a year--
an enormous sum of money in and of itself. But that isn't the scary 
part. The scary part is that $250 billion, which is what we spend every 
year on interest on our national debt, is roughly the same interest 
payment we had about 20 years ago. I believe our national debt was one-
sixth or one-seventh of its current size. The only reason it is even 
that low is because our Treasury yield rates--the interest rate at 
which the U.S. Government pays its creditors--is at an all-time 
historical low.
  Laws of mathematics are such that what goes down must inevitably come 
back up. As soon as it does come back up, even if it comes up only to 
its historical average and doesn't rebound above that average, in a 
short period of time, within a few years after that, we will find 
ourselves going from about $250 billion a year in interest on debt to 
about $1 trillion a year in interest on debt, leaving ourselves with 
the uncomfortable, darned-near impossible

[[Page S6437]]

prospect of having to cover a $750 billion shortfall--this on top of 
our existing sprawling national deficit--without any clear means of 
doing so.
  Congress, in many cases, fears reform, but reform remains necessary 
to make programs structurally reliable and fiscally sustainable. In 
other words, we are fearing the wrong thing. A lot of people in my home 
State of Utah fear snakes, understandably. We have rattlesnakes in 
parts of Utah. Rattlesnakes can do a lot of damage to you if they bite 
you. You don't want to mess with a rattlesnake. But sometimes we fear 
the wrong things, at least in the sense of, in addition to a lot of 
rattlesnakes, we also have a lot of deer. They should actually fear 
deer more than rattlesnakes. More people die in the United States every 
year as a result of deer causing automotive accidents than they do from 
rattlesnake bites altogether. Sometimes we fear the wrong things.

  We fear making reform. But reform is not what we should fear; we 
should fear the consequences of failure to do that.
  In some ways, the central unifying problem isn't just about the debt 
or dysfunction but the distrust. Congress has squandered the trust of 
the American people, and we as an institution have a responsibility to 
work hard to win back that trust. The only way to win back that trust 
is through real reform. We have to put the national interest ahead of 
our own interests, our own political interests and the special 
interests that are constantly moving here in Washington, DC. That work 
can begin with this very budget. It should begin with this budget. 
Budgets provide us with an opportunity to discuss our priorities. Those 
priorities always need to be all about reform.
  This budget is far from perfect, but in understanding that it is not 
perfect, it is a vehicle to begin the real process of reform. Nowhere 
is this more important than with tax reform, and this will set in 
motion those events that can culminate in real, genuine, and much 
needed tax reform.
  There are a couple of odd quirks within our Federal Tax Code. First 
of all, its sheer length and complexity are a problem. Arthur Brooks 
from the American Enterprise Institute said that complexity is itself a 
subsidy--a subsidy that disproportionately benefits the well connected, 
the wealthy, the well educated, the specialists who handle the 
complexity and profit from it. One hundred years ago, our Tax Code was 
only a few hundred pages long. Today, our Tax Code, depending on what 
you count, can fairly be described as much closer to 100,000 pages than 
to a few hundred.
  Among the many problems we can find in the Tax Code is the marriage 
tax penalty, which many Americans are familiar with, whereby a hard-
working American couple might pay higher taxes only because of the fact 
that they happen to be married. This is wrong, and it needs to be 
  There is a related point--a related flaw--that is much less well 
known than the Tax Code marriage penalty, and that is the Tax Code 
parent penalty. Let me explain what that is. Imagine two couples--
couple A and couple B. Imagine that couple A and couple B are identical 
in every respect but one. In other words, they both have the same 
income, they both have the same pattern of charitable contributions, 
mortgage interest, State and local taxes, and so forth. Everything that 
affects their taxes is the same except one thing: Couple A has three 
children and couple B chooses to remain childless. Because of the way 
our Tax Code interacts and intersects with our senior entitlement 
programs--namely, Social Security and Medicare--we end up penalizing 
parents, creating this parent tax penalty. Let me explain that a little 
  Let's call couple A--the couple with three children--Jack and Julie. 
According to very modest assessments made by the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, Jack and Julie, with their three children, will incur 
costs of about $700,000 as they raise their children. These are the 
costs of raising children. I believe it is a little faulty--there are a 
number of things it doesn't include--but it is an estimate produced by 
the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jack and Julie, our hypothetical 
couple A, will spend $700,000 raising their three children to maturity. 
It doesn't take into account the non-economic costs associated with 
parenting or the myriad benefits that go along with that--but $700,000. 
That is the amount they will put into raising these three children. 
That cost doesn't benefit just Jack and Julie, it doesn't benefit just 
their three children--no, the way our system works, the way Social 
Security and Medicare work, it also goes to stabilize, to shore-up 
entitlement benefits for tomorrow's retirees, because Social Security 
and Medicare operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. Today's retiree benefits 
are paid by today's workers. Today's workers will be tomorrow's 
retirees. Today's children will be tomorrow's workers and will be 
paying the retirement benefits of today's workers, tomorrow's retirees.
  Let's look at couple A, back to Jack and Julie. Jack and Julie 
operate solely with Julie's income. Jack is a stay-at-home father. 
Meanwhile, Julie has a good job that pays $75,000 a year. As you look 
at this chart, it shows how the pay stubs Julie receives twice a month 
might look.
  I would imagine many Americans look at this the same way I do. People 
approach their pay stubs with a degree of trepidation. It is almost 
easier not to look at it when you see all the things the government 
does to your paycheck each time it goes through.
  Jack and Julie look at Julie's pay stub when it comes out twice a 
month, and they see a few things, including the fact that, in addition 
to the $205 that is withheld from her Federal income tax twice a month, 
she also sees $41.84 withheld for Medicare, $178 withheld for Social 
Security, and $144 withheld for State income tax.
  So when we look at Julie's pay stub, we see that what Julie is paying 
into Social Security and Medicare is roughly the same as what we will 
see from couple B, who chooses to remain childless. Couple B has every 
right not to have children. We don't want to penalize anybody regarding 
their decision on whether to have children. But the point here is that 
the investment Jack and Julie are making into the Social Security 
system comes twice--first as they pay their taxes, including their 
Social Security and Medicare taxes--and with Social Security taxes, by 
the way, that is also going to play a role in determining the Social 
Security benefits for which Jack and Julie will one day be eligible 
when they retire. Yet the Tax Code doesn't adequately take into account 
the $700,000 they are investing into their own children and that those 
children will make it possible for couple B to receive their Social 
Security and Medicare benefits when they retire. That is why we need to 
fix the parent tax penalty.

  The parent tax penalty consists of this unique interaction between 
our tax system and our senior entitlement programs and doesn't take 
into account the intense investment in financial terms that America's 
moms and dads make in their children.
  By increasing the child tax credit, we could offset this penalty. One 
of the proposals out there would involve raising it to, say, $2,000 per 
child. I think that would be great. I could even go higher than that, 
but $2,000 wouldn't cover the whole problem, it wouldn't undo the whole 
penalty, but it would go a long way toward offsetting that. I would 
welcome that. That would be a good development. There are people just 
like Jack and Julie Jones all over this country who would benefit from 
that, and the American people as a whole would benefit from it. Social 
Security and Medicare would be more stable and made more sustainable by 
this change.
  The next step we need to make with tax reform involves making the Tax 
Code more pro-worker. A lot of people criticize the Tax Code for the 
fact that it has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized 
world at 35 percent. I believe that the best reform we could achieve 
would be substantial. There are a lot of people who are talking about 
reducing the corporate tax rate to maybe 15 percent or 20 percent. I 
hope we can get to something like that, and that would be a great first 
step. What I would really like to do is to bring that down not to 25 
percent or 20 percent or 15 percent, I would like to see it brought 
down to zero. Let me explain why I believe that.
  A corporation consists of and is animated by two things: capital and 
labor, investors and workers. Investors and workers join together and 
form partnerships to make profits. Both of them

[[Page S6438]]

pay a share of the corporate tax. In the United States, forces of 
globalization have benefited from this arrangement between workers and 
investors. The forces of globalization have benefited the investor 
class more than the workers. In this new global economic environment, 
we need to think about how to increase the returns to workers.
  Globalization has helped the investors, and policy now needs to go 
out of its way to help the workers. One way to do that would be to 
eliminate the corporate tax altogether and tax investment income the 
same way we do regular income. That would shift the worker share of 
business tax to business owners. This would immediately do two things: 
It would give a raise to American workers, who really need it, and it 
would turn the United States into an irresistible magnet for foreign 
investment in the United States of America. In one stroke, the most 
profitable, favorable tax strategy in the global economy would be 
creating American jobs.
  The current code gives preferential treatment to U.S. investors 
sending their money overseas. While this is their right to do, this is 
not something we should be incentivizing and pushing them into, which 
is exactly what the status quo does. Reform would give preferential 
treatment to international investors coming here, which is, after all, 
what we want. Let's level the national playing field between the 
working class and the investor class, while tilting the global playing 
field toward the United States rather than pushing it outward, away 
from our great country.
  If these tax reforms could be set in motion through this budget or at 
least set in motion indirectly if not directly, the Tax Code would 
finally start working again for American families and finally start 
benefiting hard-working American mothers and fathers.
  Another issue that we struggle with significantly in the Federal 
Government involves Federal regulations. This, too, is something we 
could start to address through the budgeting process. Our Federal 
regulatory system is economically damaging. This is something that 
strangles small business. It inherently--by its very nature, it inures 
disproportionately to the benefit of large, established, incumbent 
businesses, those that can afford an army of lawyers, accountants, 
lobbyists, and compliance specialists, that benefit from a heavy system 
of regulation, which is often made heavier still at the urging of the 
largest, wealthiest, most established companies because these Federal 
regulations provide a natural restriction on entry, a natural barrier 
that disincentivizes and in some ways disables would-be competitors 
from joining and entering into the marketplace. One thing we know about 
competition is that it brings down costs and it raises quality, and 
that is a good thing.
  Federal regulations also create a sort of constitutional distrust. 
They themselves represent a harsh deviation from the natural 
constitutional order. I mentioned a few minutes ago the provisions of 
article I. Article I, section 1, and article I, section 7 require that 
Federal laws be passed by Congress. Federal regulations get around 
  Sometimes Congress chooses voluntarily to delegate to someone else 
the task that we, by operation of the Constitution, are supposed to 
perform and not to delegate to someone else. This administrative action 
makes things easier on occasion for Congress, but that is a bug, not a 
feature. The Constitution never was intended to make life easier for 
Members of Congress.
  Let me explain how this happens and how it shows up here. It happens 
sometimes with good intentions. Congress wants to approach a particular 
issue, solve a particular problem without necessarily having to go into 
the difficult, painstaking, line-drawing process that inevitably is 
brought into question anytime we are trying to solve a problem through 
lawmaking. In other words, Congress will identify a problem and pass a 
law that says, for instance: We shall have a good law in area X, and we 
hereby delegate to agency Y the power to make and enforce rules 
carrying the force of generally applicable Federal law that will carry 
out the objectives we have outlined in our legislation.
  In other words--let's get to something more approximating a real 
example. Congress, for instance, passes a law that says: We shall have 
clean air. We hereby delegate to the EPA the power to decide what clean 
air is, what pollution is, what acceptable limits on pollution might 
be, and what penalties will befall polluters. And then those same 
regulators, those same people at that same agency who made all the 
rules defining pollution and defining acceptable limits for pollution, 
prescribing penalties, they are the same people who also enforce them. 
You have the lawmakers who are also the law enforcers, and none of them 
are subject to an election.

  Now, I don't mean to disparage the character or the capabilities of 
any of the fine people who work at the EPA or any of our other Federal 
bureaucracies. For the most part, these are well-intentioned, hard-
working, well-educated, and highly specialized public figures or 
government employees, we might say, but there is a difference.
  People in Congress are not magically empowered with any gifts for 
coming up with good legislation any more than any other American is, 
but there is a difference. We are elected, and we are subject to the 
people at regular intervals. You can fire your U.S. Senator every 6 
years, you can fire your Representative every 2 years. You cannot fire 
a government bureaucrat. As Ronald Reagan said, the closest thing we 
see to eternal life on this Earth is a new government program. The 
closest thing you can find to a lifelong career is in government, in 
many government bureaucracies.
  What this has produced is a profound proliferation of Federal law. We 
have been able to make more things Federal, and we have been able to 
make more Federal laws as a result of the fact that Congress now 
delegates away far more of its legislative power than it actually 
exercises. Let me explain what I mean.
  I keep in my office two sets of documents. I welcome any of you to 
come by. In my office, we serve Jell-O every Wednesday at 3:30. For 
reasons I don't entirely understand, Utah consumes more Jell-O than any 
other State in the Union on a per capita basis. The Utah Legislature 
has actually designated Jell-O as Utah's official State snack. Now, I 
will be clear that these are not Jell-O shots. They are not tainted 
with alcohol or anything like that, but we serve Jell-O every Wednesday 
at 3:30. You are all invited to join us any time you would like. If the 
Senate is in session and if it is Wednesday at 3:30, it is time for 
  When you come by my office for Jell-O Wednesday, you will see two 
stacks of documents that I have represented in this graph. One stack of 
documents is a few inches tall, it is about 3,000 pages long, and it 
consists of the laws passed by Congress last year. The other stack is 
13 feet tall, it is about 96,000 pages long, and it consists of last 
year's Federal Register.
  For those of you who are fortunate enough not to know what the 
Federal Register is--and I really do envy you--it is the annual index, 
the compilation of Federal regulations. First is their release for 
public notice and comment, and then later is their finalized Federal 
  These are laws. These are not just rules exclusively deciding what 
time the lights will go on and off at the Commerce Department or what 
times the gates will be staffed at this or that Embassy. No. Many of 
these are regulations that impose affirmative obligations on the 
American people, sometimes with criminal penalties, often with 
substantial civil penalties attached to them, and yet they are not 
passed by anyone who is elected. In many cases, they are not even 
written by people who are accountable to anyone who is, in turn, 
elected. This is a problem.
  During 2016, Congress enacted 214 laws; whereas, the agencies issued 
3,853 rules. Those are 18 rules that were put in place by Federal 
agencies for every 1 law that was enacted by Congress. This is not 
without consequence. This is not just an abstract constitutional 
  This costs the American people a lot of money, and it costs them 
money in a way that is kind of invisible. You have the Tax Code. You 
have your pay stub. I showed you that chart earlier from Julie's pay 
stub showing how much the government takes out of each paycheck. That 
is visible. That is tangible. That is something she can see each week. 
There is another bite that

[[Page S6439]]

gets taken out of each and every one of her paychecks that is 
invisible, and that bite is taken out by these Federal regulations, 
meaning everything that Jack and Julie, everything that every one of 
you, everything that every American purchases, every good or every 
service is made more expensive by these Federal regulations. In fact, 
it is fair to say really that the costs of compliance with these 
Federal regulations are passed on disproportionately to America's poor 
and middle class who pay for those regulations through higher prices on 
goods and services, diminished wages, unemployment, and 
underemployment, and it is not insignificant.
  Twenty years ago, when I first started studying this problem, I was 
shocked to learn that this backdoor, invisible, highly regressive form 
of tax--that is the cost of compliance with Federal regulations--stood 
at $300 billion a year. That was astounding to me, stunning. Today that 
number stands at about $2 trillion a year. In 20 years, we have seen 
the cost of complying with Federal regulations multiply nearly 
sevenfold. That is troubling.
  If the cost of complying with U.S. Federal regulations were a 
country, if it were the GDP, the $2 trillion in compliance costs, that 
is roughly the same as the gross domestic product of India and Italy. 
The cost of complying with Federal regulations is slightly less than 
the GDP of India and slightly more than the GDP of Italy. That is sad, 
that is stunning, that is a constitutional problem, and it is a public 
policy problem. The 2016 Federal Register contains 95,894 pages--the 
highest level in its history and 19 percent higher than the previous 
year of 2015, which contained 80,260 pages.
  In the absence of trust, we need an abundance of transparency, and 
that is what constitutional lawmaking is all about. We need to restore 
that constitutional order by passing reforms like the REINS Act, 
which would require congressional assent before major rules are put 
into place. It would require Congress to affirmatively enact a 
regulation into law before an economically significant regulation could 
take effect.

  There are some other areas where we need transparency--in higher 
education and healthcare. These things appear to have little in common 
at the outset, and yet, in many ways, they have a lot in common in that 
they are two areas where there has been a lot of Federal involvement 
where there probably shouldn't be and where that Federal involvement 
has made things more opaque and less transparent and resulted in higher 
  In higher education, I highlighted the need in the last Congress for 
reforms through my introduction of the Higher Education Reform and 
Opportunity Act, which would have opened up the accreditation process. 
Currently, the higher education system in America has been commandeered 
by the iron triangle, consisting of the U.S. Department of Education, 
Federal accreditation bodies, and institutions of higher education in 
this country. Unless you are part of that iron triangle, you can't 
really break into the higher education market because you can't get 
Federal higher education assistance.
  As a result, things like apprenticeships, distance learning, massive 
open online courses--or MOOCs, as they are sometimes described--suffer. 
They get left out. The upshot is, if we reformed this area, we would 
have more opportunities to get postsecondary skills and training, we 
would lower the cost of higher education, we would save money for both 
borrowers and taxpayers alike, and we would have more people able to 
pursue their chosen vocation.
  With healthcare, as in higher education, Federal influence is driving 
up prices while outcomes are flatlined. In 2009, Congress doubled down 
on what wasn't working when they passed ObamaCare. The results were 
instability, lost coverage, new plans, higher premiums, and higher 
deductibles at the same time.
  Meanwhile, you had a whole lot of concentration of market power in a 
few companies. The top 10 health insurance companies in 2008--the year 
President Obama was elected President--had combined profits of about $8 
billion a year. Last year, that number skyrocketed to $15 billion a 
year. The difference was ObamaCare.
  ObamaCare made it easier for those companies to see their profits 
skyrocket, but they did so on the backs of America's poor and middle 
class. With ObamaCare, we also had the unsustainable expansion of 
Medicaid, a failed program we should be trying to rescue people from, 
not trap them in. We need to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
  As we look toward reform, a guiding principle should always be 
restoring the constitutional principal of federalism or some might call 
it localism or the principle of subsidiarity. The idea is that you 
should govern locally, as locally as possible. There is a reason for 
this. The Constitution requires it, but it is also the case that we all 
benefit when we follow that constitutional system. It allows more 
Americans to get more of the kind of government they want and less of 
the kind of government they don't want. Bad things happen when we 
ignore federalism, as we have over the last 80 years and increasingly 
so over the last decade. There are some examples of that.
  One involves transportation. Our Interstate Highway System was 
created by the Federal Government in the 1950s under the leadership of 
President Eisenhower. He acknowledged that for national security and 
interstate commerce reasons, it would be a good idea to have an 
interstate highway system. So we proposed--and Congress passed into 
law--a gasoline tax that would fund the establishment, the creation of 
an interstate highway system. The idea was always to hand that 
interstate highway system back over to the States after the project was 
completed, which it has been now since the 1980s. Yet we are still 
collecting a Federal gasoline tax--18.4 cents per gallon, to be 
precise. Yet that 18.4 cents per gallon still doesn't ever seem to be 
sufficient, even though the Interstate Highway System has been 
completed since the 1980s and even though, stunningly, you could 
maintain the existing Interstate Highway System for about 4 cents per 
gallon. So where is the rest of it going? Well, it is going to purely 
local projects: surface roads, bike paths, all sorts of other things, 
many of which might well be worthy but aren't necessarily Federal in 
  Another example involves public land. A lot of people were surprised 
to learn this--especially people from the East--but the Federal 
Government owns and controls about 30 percent of the land in the United 
States. A lot of people in the East aren't aware of this because, in 
every State east of Colorado, the Federal Government owns less than 15 
percent of the land. In no State west of Colorado does the Federal 
Government own less than 15 percent and, in many States like my own, 
that number is much larger. In fact, in my State, the State of Utah, 
the Federal Government owns 67 percent of the land.
  Let's set aside the question, for a minute, of why the Federal 
Government needs to own that much land at all and why it needs to own 
30 percent of the landmass in the United States. If it is going to own 
that much, why does it disproportionately own so much land in States 
like mine, especially when that harms people in States like mine?
  You see, in Utah--this map shows Federal land. Anyplace you see 
white, that is non-Federal land. If you see any of these colors 
represented here, that is one type of Federal land ownership or 
another. Where you see color on this chart, that is where the Federal 
land is owned and controlled by the Federal Government and the local 
taxing authorities can't tax it. As a result, people have to go to the 
Federal Government for a ``Mother May I'' in order to even cross the 
property or utilize the property for some legitimate business or 
personal need, and the local taxing authorities can't tax it. This 
harms westerners disproportionately, and it is wrong. We need reform in 
this area.
  We also need to get the Federal Government out of the business of 
thinking it needs to own this much land and into the business of 
thinking, if it is going to own that much, then it needs to allow 
taxing authorities to collect at least a rough equivalent of property 
  Also, in the area of primary and secondary education, because public 
education is so important, the Federal Government needs to stay out of 
the K-12 education arena. In other words, what is taught in the K-12 

[[Page S6440]]

needs to be decisions made by teachers in consultation with parents, 
principals, local school officials and, in some cases, State officials, 
not from Washington, DC. That is not an appropriate decision to make 
from Washington, DC, unless you are talking about educational 
experiences perhaps in the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory or 
on a military base or something like that.
  The Federal Government should have no role in K-12 public education. 
That is not our job. We have to remember the text of the 10th Amendment 
echoing the structure of the original Constitution: that powers not 
granted to Congress and not prohibited to the States are reserved to 
the States respectively or the people. That has to mean something. In 
order for it to mean something, there has to be some limit to what 
powers are, in fact, granted to the Federal Government.
  Over the last 80 years, we gradually drifted away from this idea. We 
concluded that every problem in society is a government problem and 
that every government problem is a Federal problem. That is wrong. That 
has harmed the American people.
  We need to restore federalism, localism, and subsidiary. This will 
free the people of the tyranny they feel as the result of a lost 
election. At any given moment in America, there are people who are 
disappointed about the last election, especially so with House 
elections, Senate elections, and the occupant of the White House. At 
any given moment, the people who feel as if they are not well 
represented in Washington--either at the U.S. Capitol or at the White 
House or both--can be counted in the tens, if not hundreds of millions. 
We will end this tyranny if we return a lot of that power.
  In other words, let's say someone living in Connecticut might not 
quite be on the bandwagon of ``make America great again.'' If they 
don't want to make America great again, they can want to make 
Connecticut great again. In other words, federalism allows more people 
in America to get more of the kind of government they want and less of 
the kind of government they don't want. It allows more people to have 
more of a say because local governments, while not perfect, are more 
responsive to their local constituencies. It better protects both the 
minorities and majorities. It lowers the temperature of our national 
politics. One of the reasons national politics have become so 
contentious is because everything has been centered in Washington, DC. 
There is no reason it has to be that way. In fact, the Constitution 
says it should never be that way.
  Finally, with regard to federalism, there are a few things that only 
the Federal Government can do. Those things include national defense, 
establishing a uniform system of weights and measures, coming up with a 
uniform system of laws governing immigration and naturalization and a 
uniform system of laws governing interstate and foreign trade or 
commerce. Those things that can be done only by Congress must be done 
well. When we are so busy doing the things we are not supposed to do, 
we fail to do those things that only we can do. That is yet another 
reason to restore federalism.
  Then, whatever is left over, whatever remains, whatever we can't 
bring back, needs to be fixed. It needs to be made to work. Whatever we 
don't return to the States can be made more effective and more 
efficient, and we should do that.
  The 1974 Budget Act, as I explained at the outset of my address 
today, is outdated. We have to reform it. The Congressional Budget 
Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation use formulas that are opaque 
and unknown, that are effectively a black box. This is wrong, and we 
have to get rid of those.
  That is one of the reasons I introduced the CBO Show Your Work Act, 
so they can't just tell us anymore: You can't know why we reached the 
conclusions we reached that have stunning implications for law and 
public policy.
  From budget, to taxing, to spending policy and policymaking, the 
constant theme is inertia. One could argue that the consistent theme is 
nostalgia. We are stuck in that era of the Ford Pinto and the eight-
track cassette player. Americans are being held back, not only by 
outdated policies but by a process that is out of date too.
  We met the challenges of the 20th century with policies that met the 
moment, but we have to be constantly updating, constantly overseeing 
and tweaking and improving. Government may well move at the pace of a 
turtle, but it can move, nonetheless, and move it must because the only 
way to get to next is to focus on now.
  In our increasingly personalized, customizable society and economy, 
government's obsession with centralization is making these things 
worse, not better. We need to govern locally and not nationally in 
every single instance. We need to empower individuals and local 
  In Washington, we have to embrace accountability, especially the kind 
of accountability prescribed by the Constitution. We can do better, but 
we have to first recognize the need to do so.
  The budget is indicative of all the problems we face in Washington. 
It is also indicative of Congress's authority and its ability to create 
solutions. We can do this. We can. We must. And together, we will.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Johnson). The Senator from Virginia.
  Mr. KAINE. Mr. President, I also rise to speak about the budget. I 
find many points of agreement with my colleague from Utah.
  Just to sort of jump into it, normally we wouldn't be having this 
budget discussion in the fall. The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 
suggests that the President would give us a budget in February, that we 
would pass a budget by April, and that budget would then set top-line 
numbers that would be given to the committees, that would then write 
their authorizing bills with those budgetary numbers. Then it would be 
handed over, and the appropriators would ultimately fashion 
appropriations bills that were responsive to the budget and the 
authorizing bills. We are into a new fiscal year, and the many of the 
authorizing committees have already done their jobs.
  I am on the Armed Services Committee. Probably the biggest piece of 
legislation we do every year is the NDAA. We have already written it 
without having a budget. We didn't have a budget top-line number this 
year. We have gone ahead and written the bill, and the appropriators 
are already working.
  I think what everybody on this floor understands is that this really 
isn't a budget debate; it is an effort to set up a set of instructions 
around which to do tax reform via budget reconciliation. In my view, 
this budgetary document fails as a budget, and it also fails as a good-
faith beginning to a tax reform discussion.
  I want to talk about each of these: why this document fails as a 
budget--I voted against it in committee, and I am going to vote against 
it on the floor--and why it fails as an effort to initiate the 
necessary process for reforming the Tax Code for the first time since 
  If you look at this document, the budget that is on the floor has a 
whole set of priorities that are either wrong or completely 
unrealistic. As an example, the budget proposes over $5 trillion in 
spending cuts, $470-plus billion cut to Medicare, and an over $1 
trillion cut to Medicaid. That would not only be a bad idea, but it is 
completely unrealistic and unlikely to occur. These cuts are not going 
to happen, and so it is just artificial.
  Second, the budget does not address the primary budgetary reality--a 
dangerous reality we are living under--of sequestration and budget 
caps. It continues to gut domestic discretionary programs, to the tune 
of over $600 billion over the decade.
  Finally, just a particular item that I think is very important: The 
budget proposes a fast track, a 50-vote process, to open up drilling in 
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That is really not a budgetary 
matter; it is shoehorned into the budget because we like to assume we 
are going to get a big chunk of revenue by drilling in the Arctic 
National Wildlife Refuge. But this is a fundamental matter of 
environmental policy that shouldn't be squirreled away in a tiny detail 
on the budget.
  I opposed drilling in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge when it was 
last on the floor in the mid-2000s. We were dealing with high oil 
prices and overreliance on Middle Eastern oil. The energy situation has 
completely changed.

[[Page S6441]]

We are moving to low- and no-carbon energy sources, and oil prices are 
significantly lower. We are not relying on Middle Eastern oil. I would 
also argue that the cost-benefit calculation now makes drilling in the 
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a particularly poor idea. I went to the 
Refuge two summers ago and saw the environmental damage that would be 
caused by drilling there, and I opposed it.
  So the budget--from the unrealistic expense cuts to Medicaid and 
Medicare that would really hurt people, to other cuts--is unrealistic. 
The fact that it was being done after the authorizers and appropriators 
were generally done with their work demonstrates that the budget isn't 
that serious. What this is really about is coming up with an 
instruction to begin the process of tax reform.
  Tax reform done through the reconciliation process is a bad idea for 
at least two reasons. First, it begins as completely partisan. If you 
are going to do tax reform for the first time since 1986, you ought to 
try to get the best ideas of both parties. But that is not what is done 
with reconciliation. When you say ``We are going to do it through 
reconciliation,'' you are saying ``We, the majority, have 52 votes. All 
we need is 50 plus a tiebreaker. We are not going to listen to 
Democrats. We are not going to meaningfully entertain the ideas you 
have. We are going to do it on our own.''
  I would venture to say that the same outcome as was achieved with the 
effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act via reconciliation is going to 
be the end result here. Trying to do something this important all on 
your own, without meaningfully including the public and the minority, 
almost destines it for failure.
  The second reason it is a bad idea to do tax reform via 
reconciliation is this: Matters in reconciliation are temporary, not 
  I went to the Chamber of Commerce in Northern Virginia with Senator 
Warner a couple of weeks back. We talked about tax reform. We talked 
about the fact that it was needed to grow the economy, that it hadn't 
been done for a long time. But what my business leaders want is tax 
reform that is permanent. They don't want a tax reform bill where the 
provisions expire, and because of the rules of reconciliation, that is 
what happens. So to do tax reform via reconciliation is a mistake.
  But let's go further and look at the tax reform ideas that have been 
discussed by the administration and others that we will likely embark 
upon if this budget passes. The budget sets up a mechanism for partisan 
and temporary tax cuts that would increase the deficit by $1.5 
trillion. The first page of the GOP's own budget talks about the 
challenges of deficits:

       ``Continual overspending and its resulting deficits will 
     expand the Federal debt. During the next 10 years, debt held 
     by the public is slated to rise from 77 percent of GDP ($15 
     trillion) to 91 percent of GDP ($26 trillion).''

  Why would we propose to increase the debt by $1.5 trillion in a 
partisan, temporary tax reconciliation bill? If folks--especially the 
GOP--are so focused on the deficit and debt, and we should be, why are 
we including a mechanism in this instruction to raise the debt by $1.5 
trillion? I think, again, the answer is that this is not a serious 
proposal, and it is only the vehicle for partisan and temporary tax 
  The initial analyses I have seen of this tax proposal suggests a 
couple of things. First, the tax benefits would overwhelmingly be for 
folks at the top, the wealthiest, the folks who least need a break in 
taxes. To give an example, the Republican proposal calls for the 
elimination of the estate tax. That would cost more than $270 billion 
over 10 years. The estate tax has high thresholds already. It affects 
an extremely limited number of Virginians and a limited number of folks 
in virtually every State. Giving up $270 billion to get rid of the 
estate tax is enough to provide every child from a low- or moderate-
income family with access to free preschool. That is about 7 million 
kids. You would still have enough money left over to take every student 
off Head Start waiting lists. Which would you rather do--cut the estate 
tax $270 billion for a few families or provide access to free preschool 
to every low- and moderate-income kid in this country and take every 
child on a Head Start waiting list off the list?
  Second, the proposal has some gimmicks and special quirks that I 
think need to be brought to attention. I hope we will bring it to 
attention on the floor. Here is an example: The budget that is before 
us repeals a rule that is currently in place that requires the CBO to 
issue scores on legislation coming out of reconciliation at least 28 
hours in advance of a vote. Now, 28 hours isn't that long, but at least 
it is enough time for a Senator and staff to read a bill and understand 
the consequences of the bill before voting. This Republican budget 
repeals the transparency rule that forces the CBO to issue a score. I 
have an amendment to not repeal the rule but to restore it and make it 
stronger. There should be a CBO score to let every Senator and 
especially the public know what we are voting on with respect to these 
  I will conclude and say this: Tax reform is important. Let's not 
sugarcoat this. We are not really debating a budget on the floor. If we 
were really going to debate a budget, we would have done it last 
spring. This is all about setting the stage for tax reform. We haven't 
done it for a long time. It is important. We should promote tax reform 
that makes the Tax Code simpler and fair and that focuses on middle-
class working families and makes it easier to start businesses and grow 
them. We shouldn't be doing tax reform that is partisan, that is 
temporary, that increases the deficit, and that produces the 
overwhelming benefit of a tax reform package to those at the top of the 
income scale who don't need it.
  It is my hope that we will have that debate in earnest on the floor 
of the Senate. I would love to join my colleagues in a good-faith 
effort to reform the Tax Code. Reconciliation and this particular 
proposal is not the way to do that.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, before I read from my remarks, I would 
like to make the point that I get the impression that what some Members 
of the other political party--but more often editorials and think 
tanks--believe and want the public to believe is that there is actually 
a tax bill produced by the tax-writing committees of the Congress, 
something that is very definitive in what it does to the tax policy. I 
want to make clear that there is no such document. All we have so far 
is what is called a framework agreed to by the leaders of the two tax-
writing committees and the Treasury Department and the leaders of the 
House and the Senate. You cannot draw conclusions about who is going to 
pay what taxes just from the framework.
  I will get into real detail on this, but the other thing I would like 
to make clear is the fact that there are a lot of people drawing 
conclusions about who is going to get tax benefits and who is going to 
be hurt as a result of all this information that is out there, from 
which no one can draw conclusions because there isn't any bill before 
the Congress at this point. There will be in a matter of weeks.
  The budget that we are debating this week paves the way for 
fundamental tax reform. For more than a decade, both sides of the aisle 
have talked about the need for tax reform that provides tax 
simplification, tax fairness, and gives us the ability to increase our 
economic competitiveness so that we can grow the economy.
  Under President George W. Bush, we had a bipartisan tax reform panel. 
Under President Obama, we had the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission. 
We have had individual Members also authoring tax plans, including a 
bipartisan bill authored by Finance Committee Ranking Member Wyden, the 
Senator from Oregon, and former Senator Coats, then representing the 
State of Indiana.
  In addition to these high-profile plans that have been out there over 
the years, the Senate Finance Committee has also had countless tax 
reform hearings over this extended period. The

[[Page S6442]]

committee also held a series of bipartisan options papers discussions 
under then-Chairman Baucus. Additionally, under Chairman Hatch, we had 
bipartisan tax reform working groups. All of this work over the years 
has laid the foundation and informed the unified framework released by 
the Big 6. That is the framework I previously referred to.
  The influence of these prior discussions and proposals on the Big 6 
framework is evident. In other words, all of that work that has gone on 
over the years in different environs is bearing fruit now in getting a 
consensus of what we ought to do in a broad way of moving forward on 
tax simplification, tax reform, and tax cuts.
  The framework is nothing but a framework and will be filled in with 
details by the tax-writing committees. It is at that point that any 
think tank, any Member of the other political party, any Member of our 
political party, any college professors, any economists anyplace can 
make some sound judgments as to the extent to which certain people 
benefit or don't benefit from the legislation before us.
  I think they ought to take into consideration that you have to think 
about the country as a whole, which hasn't grown by more than 1.6 
percent in each of the 8 years of the previous administration. If you 
are going to have jobs created, you have to grow at about twice that 
amount, at 3 percent or more. That is some of the thinking behind this 
budget that is before the Senate right now and the thinking behind the 
tax reform measures that will follow our adoption of the budget.
  I will be repeating myself to some extent here, but for illustration, 
I have a chart here comparing the Big 6 framework, the Wyden-Coats 
bill, and the Simpson-Bowles plan to which I have already referred. You 
can see here the main point about putting these three plans together is 
to show similarity. All proposals would consolidate the current tax 
brackets down to three. That is one point the chart makes.
  Two plans provide for a top rate of 35 percent, while one provides 
for a top rate of 28 percent. Yet the Big 6 framework, the framework 
that will evolve into a piece of legislation called tax simplification, 
tax reform, and tax cuts, is being criticized for having a 35-percent 
top rate that somehow is a giveaway to the wealthy, whereas you can see 
from this chart that plans that have been bipartisan in the past have 
had the 35-percent top rate or less. Of course, the 35-percent tax rate 
that is said to be a giveaway to the wealthy is not even the one that 
proposes a lower 28-percent rate. The 28-percent rate is reserved for 
the Simpson-Bowles plan. That Simpson-Bowles group was put together by 
none other than a Democratic President.
  Let me ask: Were Democratic members of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, 
which voted for that plan, voting to give huge tax cuts to the wealthy? 
Do our Democratic colleagues expect us to believe that a 35-percent top 
rate is a sensible bipartisan compromise when offered by Democrats but 
a giveaway to the rich once it is associated with this administration 
or with Republican Members of Congress?
  Well, another thing is the same: All three plans would repeal the 
alternative minimum tax. This is very surprising. From listening to my 
Democratic colleagues, I thought repealing the alternative minimum tax 
was some nefarious plot to benefit President Trump, but that just 
doesn't square with the reality and what has gone on in the Congress 
over the last decade and a half with regard to tax reform. Repealing 
the alternative minimum tax has had strong bipartisan support.
  While serving as either chairman or the ranking member of the Finance 
Committee, Senator Baucus and I introduced bipartisan, stand-alone 
legislation to repeal the alternative minimum tax. We did that across 
several Congresses. Of course, we were not successful. I hope this 
Congress will be successful in doing that.
  Our legislation eliminating the alternative minimum tax garnered 
bipartisan support from across the political spectrum. The current 
ranking member of the Finance Committee and the current minority leader 
of the entire U.S. Senate even joined Senator Baucus and me at that 
time in these efforts as cosponsors of that legislation.
  At the time, a few years ago, the current ranking member even went so 
far as to say that ``the alternative minimum tax should be Congress' 
number-one priority for tax reform.'' I agree with what the current 
ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee said a few years ago, 
which I just quoted. The alternative minimum tax repeal should be a top 
priority, and it seems as though it is going to be a top priority this 
year because the alternative minimum tax adds needless complexity to 
the Tax Code and often hits middle-income taxpayers rather than the 
wealthy, as originally intended.
  Let me give a history of the alternative minimum tax. I think it was 
passed in 1969. Studies of wealthy people showed that about 150 people 
who were very wealthy paid no income tax, and there was a feeling that 
everyone ought to pay some tax. The alternative minimum tax was set up 
to hit those 150 and some other people, but it wasn't ever indexed. Now 
it hits millions of middle-income taxpayers. To help those middle-
income taxpayers who should have never been hit by the alternative 
minimum tax--that is the rationale for doing away with it.
  We even have the Internal Revenue Service's Taxpayer Advocate Service 
repeatedly calling for the repeal of the alternative minimum tax, 
noting that it ``does not achieve its original goal'' and ``stealthily 
increases marginal rates for middle-income taxpayers.''
  I want to move now to the corporate tax part of the framework. I am 
back at the chart now. Similarity between these plans exists for reform 
of corporate taxes. For instance, each one of these three plans seeks 
to significantly lower our corporate tax rate.
  The Wyden-Coats bill calls for an 11-percent reduction in the 
corporate rate, bringing that rate down from 35 to 24 percent. The Big 
6 framework aims for 20 percent as the highest corporate tax rate. Yet, 
according to the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, the 
corporate rate reduction in the Big 6 framework is ``a massive 
corporate tax cut that overwhelmingly benefits shareholders.''
  The last time I checked, the distribution of the benefit from a 
corporate rate reduction is the same no matter what party or what 
President proposed it. This chart shows that similarity between the 
bipartisan plans and the Big 6 framework. I don't think the Senate 
Finance Committee ranking member proposed a 24-percent corporate rate 
when that Wyden-Coats plan was developed because he wanted to provide a 
massive benefit to the shareholders he now talks about. I also know for 
certain that isn't why the Big 6 framework aims for 20 percent.

  The truth is, there has been a really big, growing, bipartisan 
consensus that our corporate tax rate is out of step with other major 
trading partners. Now, at 35 percent--and it has been at 35 percent for 
decades--our corporate tax rate is the highest among developed 
countries. While we have been at 35 percent, our major trading partners 
have been lowering their rates. On average, their rates are more than 
10 percent lower than ours, so averaging maybe about 24 percent.
  Now, that obviously has a great impact on jobs in America because it 
puts American companies at a competitive disadvantage globally, costing 
American jobs. It has also strained our corporate tax system to its 
breaking point as we have battled corporate inversions and foreign 
takeovers. Now, how much in the last several years have we heard 
Members of this body complaining about foreign takeovers and inversions 
to skip the country, to save taxes? Well, that is one of the reasons 
for reducing the corporate tax rate so that doesn't happen.
  Moreover, a growing body of economic literature is showing that a 
significant portion of the corporate tax does indeed fall on workers in 
the form of lower wages. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation as 
well as the Congressional Budget Office assumes 25 percent of corporate 
tax falls on workers. So if you reduce the corporate tax rate, 
according to congressional researchers here who work for us, one would 
assume that workers are going to get 25 percent of that benefit to 
their wages. We even have other studies--many--finding that workers 
could bear more than 70 percent of the burden of a high corporate tax 
  While the exact burden borne by workers may be debated, the economic

[[Page S6443]]

research is very clear. A corporate rate reduction means a significant 
wage increase for workers. In fact, the Council of Economic Advisers 
very conservatively estimates that workers could see their wages 
increase by more than $4,000 due to lowering the corporate rate to 20 
  In reality, there is very little in this tax framework that has not 
had bipartisan support in the past or is not well within the mainstream 
of bipartisan proposals before us. Once again, that statement I just 
made is the purpose of this chart, to show that this bipartisan 
agreement and what we have before the Congress coming up--the Big 6 
framework--have so many likenesses in it that there is absolutely no 
rationale for the partisanship we are having in the news media and on 
the Senate floor talking about this framework. This is why the 
accusations that the Big 6 tax framework is nothing more than a 
giveaway to the rich--why that statement we hear so often is so 
  I want to move on to another issue about whether these are tax cuts 
for the rich, and I want to show how one of the proposals before the 
Congress will help the rich. More perplexing is that those who are 
screaming ``tax cuts for the rich'' and saying it the loudest have also 
been the most ardent supporters of maintaining one of the largest 
loopholes for the wealthy; namely, the State and local tax deduction.
  I know the minority leader was on the floor last week, I think, 
citing IRS statistics to claim that the deduction was really a middle-
class benefit, but the minority leader told only part of that story. I 
would like to look at some estimates by the liberal Tax Policy Center 
that my Democratic colleagues like to cite so often. According to the 
Tax Policy Center, 90 percent of the tax increase from eliminating the 
deduction would fall on taxpayers with incomes exceeding $100,000, and 
40 percent of the total would be paid just by taxpayers with incomes 
exceeding $500,000 a year.
  Think of it this way. Those with incomes exceeding $500,000 make up 
less than 1 percent of all tax filers, yet receive 40 percent of the 
deduction benefit of claiming the State and local tax deduction.
  I would like to illustrate it a better way. I have a chart based on 
IRS data that looks at the benefit of the deduction by adjusted gross 
income. Prior to going to the chart, I think it is important to point 
out that only about 30 percent of the taxpayers even itemize and have 
the State and local tax deduction available to them because you have to 
itemize to get that. This chart is going to focus on that 30 percent.
  The first group I have highlighted on this chart are taxpayers with 
incomes below $50,000. As we can see on the chart, only about 12 
percent of the tax filers in this group claim the deduction. In other 
words, 88 percent of the taxpayers in this category receive no benefit 
from the State and local tax deduction. That 12 percent does get a 
fairly nice benefit from it. They are deducting an average of a little 
over $3,000 in State taxes for a State benefit of just under $500, 
assuming they are in today's 15 percent bracket.
  From further down the chart, we can see that the benefits afforded to 
low- to middle-income taxpayers are very much dwarfed by the benefits 
afforded to the wealthy or, as some of my Democratic colleagues might 
have become accustomed to referring to them, the millionaires and 
billionaires. Where only 12 percent of taxpayers with incomes under 
$50,000 have any benefit from the State and local tax deduction, over 
90 percent of filers with incomes exceeding $500,000 claim the 
deduction. Tax filers in the $500,000 to $1 million range are, on 
average, deducting more in State and local taxes--$53,000--than the 
incomes of the taxpayers in the first group.
  If we assume taxpayers in this second group are, under the current 
law, in the 39.6-percent tax bracket, that translates into a tax 
benefit of nearly $21,000. For those with incomes exceeding $1 million, 
there is an average tax benefit of about $100,000.
  So if you are truly interested in eliminating tax loopholes for the 
rich, look no further than the elimination of the State and local tax 
deduction. This elimination provides an opportunity to better target 
more tax relief where we want to target it--to the middle class--making 
up for any benefit the middle class may lose from deductions and then 
some. In other words, the income tax would remain much more 
  The Big 6 framework provides the tools to do a middle-income tax 
reduction, including nearly doubling the standard deduction, reducing 
the current 15-percent rate to 12 percent, and significantly increasing 
the child tax credit. The framework also grants significant leeway to 
the Finance Committee and the Ways and Means Committee to explore 
additional options to ensuring middle-income tax relief.
  In addition to being a benefit that overwhelmingly goes to the 
wealthy, the State and local tax deduction also has the effect of 
disproportionately benefiting States with high State and local taxes. 
Essentially, the deduction allows wealthy individuals in high-tax 
States to then offload some of their State and local tax burdens onto 
taxpayers in other States.
  This new chart lists the top 10 States that benefit the most from the 
State and local tax deduction. The States are listed, and we can see 
the extent to which they benefit from it. We see we have New York at 
the top, a little lower is California, and a little bit below that is 
Massachusetts. It would seem to me that our Democratic colleagues like 
to talk a big game about eliminating loopholes for the wealthy, but 
when it comes down to actually doing it, they are more interested in 
holding on to a tax subsidy that favors the tax-and-spend policies of 
overwhelmingly blue States.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, I rise to speak about the Arctic National 
Wildlife Refuge and the obscenity that will be the attempt by the 
Republicans to insert into the budget bill an ability for the big oil 
companies of our country to be able to drill for oil in this sacred, 
pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  I first wish to thank Senator Cantwell from the State of Washington, 
our great Democratic leader on the Energy and Natural Resources 
Committee, for her leadership not just on this issue but on so many 
other issues in the energy and environment area that we are having to 
confront during this era of Donald Trump.
  Let me just tell my colleagues that the Republican budget is 
ultimately all about massive handouts to the 1-percent richest people 
in our country and to huge corporations, while doing almost nothing for 
working and middle-class Americans in our country. In this bill, the 
Republicans will slash Medicaid and Medicare while at the same time 
blowing a $1.5 trillion hole in the deficit to finance tax cuts for the 
superrich. But if that weren't bad enough, tucked inside of the 
Republican budget is a poison pill, one more massive corporate 
handout--a giveaway of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to 
Big Oil.

  Senate Republicans have included instructions for the fiscal year 
2018 budget resolution that would open the door for drilling in one of 
America's greatest natural resources. This GOP budget sets the stage 
for Republicans to ram drilling in the crown jewel of America's 
National Wildlife Refuge System through the Senate's using only a 50-
vote threshold. This is nothing more than a Big Oil polar payout. This 
cold-hearted Republican budgetary scam only underscores the backward 
priorities of President Trump and congressional Republicans.
  As our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico look desperately for relief 
from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, there has been no refuge in 
the Trump administration. When tens of millions of Americans wanted to 
be sure that their healthcare would be protected, there was no refuge 
in the Republican Party. But the instant billionaires and oil companies 
look for a tax cut, a refuge suddenly appears. That is when the 
Republicans can find a refuge. Unfortunately, it is the Arctic National 
Wildlife Refuge.
  But the Republican plan to offset $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the 
superwealthy will only result in $1 billion being able to be raised 
from allowing the oil companies to drill in this pristine refuge. That 
plan neither makes any sense nor will it actually bring in any cents 
sufficient to pay for this

[[Page S6444]]

huge tax break and the deficit they are creating.
  Maybe my colleagues on the other side of the aisle think there is a 
different exchange rate above the Arctic Circle, but down here those 
numbers don't even come close to adding up. This is exactly the kind of 
polarizing politics we need to get away from--giveaways to Big Oil and 
billionaires at the expense of the American people and our planet.
  There is a long, bipartisan history of fighting to protect the Arctic 
Refuge for future generations. It was Republican President Dwight D. 
Eisenhower who began this bipartisan legacy by setting aside the core 
of the Arctic Refuge in 1960. It was further protected by President 
Kennedy and Senator Tom Udall's father, Secretary of Interior Stewart 
Udall, during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Then, 
Representative Mo Udall succeeded in doubling the size of the Refuge, 
protecting even more of this untrammeled wilderness. Protecting this 
special place has always been an issue that rose above party lines, and 
it should continue to do so.
  In 2015 the Interior Department recommended that Congress designate 
this area as wilderness and not open it to drilling. In making that 
wilderness recommendation, the Department of the Interior concluded 
that the ``Arctic Refuge exemplifies the idea of wilderness--to leave 
some remnants of this nation's natural heritage intact, wild, and free 
of the human intent to control, alter, or manipulate the natural 
  The Coastal Plain is the biological heart of the Refuge. The Fish and 
Wildlife Service has called it the ``center for wildlife activity'' in 
the Refuge. It supports more than 250 species, including caribou, polar 
bears, and migratory birds, but that is exactly where this Republican 
legislation would allow Big Oil to drill, forever despoiling this 
  Two years ago, we lifted the four-decades-old ban on exporting 
American crude oil. As a result of that giveaway to the big oil 
industry, we are now exporting more U.S. crude oil--nearly 1 million 
barrels a day--than we could ever produce from drilling in the Arctic 
  We have a fracking revolution taking place in our country right now. 
We hear it over and over from President Trump. We hear it from the 
Republicans: There is a fracking revolution. We are on our way to 
energy independence. We should lift the ban on exporting oil out of the 
United States. We should start selling it around the world to the 
highest bidder. We have so much oil that we can afford to send it out 
of our own country. Don't worry about it; there is no problem with 
exporting American oil.
  As a matter of fact, what the Trump administration also says is this: 
Don't worry about the fuel economy standards in America. We are going 
to start to review them so we can lower--lower--the goals for our 
country for making the vehicles that we drive in our country more 
  Where do we put the oil in our country? We put 70 percent into 
gasoline tanks. We don't have to be a detective to figure out what 
happens if, instead of having our cars continue to get more and more 
efficient in terms of reducing the amount of oil that we need, we have 
our standards get lower and lower, and, as a result, we need to consume 
more oil.
  What does the Trump administration say? They say they are going to 
review the fuel economy standards. They are going to take a ``we can't 
do it'' stand. They are going to take an ``it's too hard to improve the 
economy standards'' stand. That is what they said for four decades: It 
is too hard.
  But during the Obama administration they were able to put on the 
books a standard that moves America to 54.5 miles per gallon by the 
year 2025 in the United States of America--54.5 miles per gallon. That 
is where the plug-in hybrid revolution comes from. That is where the 
all-electric vehicle revolution comes from. That is where Elon Musk 
comes from. That is where all of these statements coming from the 
Chinese, the Indians, Volvo, and others come from. It is this movement 
toward plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles, reducing the amount 
of oil that we consume,--not just here in the United States, but around 
the globe.
  What does the Trump administration say? We can't do it. It is too 
hard. We are going to review those standards. So they are saying: We 
don't have the technological capability to accomplish something 
that avoids the necessity of having to drill in a pristine wildlife 
refuge--to put a gasoline station on top of something that should be 
preserved for generations to come. They are saying: We can't improve 
the fuel economy standards. We are going to export 1 million barrels of 
oil a day. Guess what. We are going to go up into the Arctic Refuge in 
order to find the oil so that the gas guzzlers can stay on the road and 
so we can export oil to China. We are going to allow, finally, for the 
Big Oil cartel--which is now taking over the Department of the 
Interior, the Department of Energy, and the EPA--the ability to be able 
to despoil one of the last untrammeled, perfect, pristine areas in our 

  That is just fundamentally wrong, and we are going to have a vote on 
it on the floor of the Senate during this budget debate. To raise $1 
billion total as they run up a deficit of $1.5 trillion, they despoil 
this sacred part of our country. It is immoral. It is wrong. It says 
that the Trump administration is handing over the keys of our 
government to the big oil companies. It is saying: No matter how many 
hurricanes hit our country, no matter how warm the water is off the 
coast of our country, they are going to remain in climate change 
denial--that it is really not a problem. Therefore, you don't have to 
increase the fuel economy standards. You don't have to reduce the 
fossil fuels going into the atmosphere. You don't have to worry. 
Climate change--ignore it. Fuel economy standards--we are not going to 
do it. What is the one thing we will do? For the oil industry, we are 
going to allow them to drill in the pristine Arctic wilderness. It is 
immoral--fundamentally immoral.
  For 60 years, going back to Eisenhower, we figured out how to protect 
it. But now, at the height of a fracking revolution, with millions of 
new barrels of oil; at the height of an incredible plug-in hybrid and 
all-electric vehicle revolution, as we are reducing the amount of oil 
we are consuming in our country; at the height of storms that are 
assaulting every part of our Nation with an intensity we have never 
seen in our history, the President says: I am going to ignore all of 
those issues and just focus upon what Big Oil wants.
  This is going to be a monumental debate we will have on the floor of 
the Senate this week. I am looking forward to that debate because I 
think the American people are going to want to know who has voted which 
way on this critical environmental issue--the environment issue, in my 
opinion--which will be taken on the floor of the Senate this week and 
will be led by our great leader on energy and environment issues, 
Senator Maria Cantwell, from the State of Washington. She has been a 
clear, consistent, insistent voice on these issues.
  I think this week we are going to have the kind of historic debate 
the American people will want us to have on this issue.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I come to the floor to speak against the 
budget resolution's containment of language that might direct our 
colleagues in the future to open up drilling in the Arctic National 
Wildlife Refuge. I thank my colleague from Massachusetts for his 
leadership on this issue and for being on the Senate floor tonight to 
talk about how important it is that we continue to maintain this 
Wildlife Refuge as it exists.
  Our public lands have been under assault from this administration. It 
comes in all forms. It certainly comes in the form of trying to use the 
Antiquities Act in reverse and, basically, to say: You can open up 
public lands for drilling.
  This really caused a controversy in Utah with the Bears Ears National 
Monument. There are Tribes, sportsmen, fishermen, and hunters who value 
the public lands in this national monument and who don't want to see it 
turned over to companies or individuals who want to mine or drill for 
oil and gas to the detriment of the monument resources. Now the budget 
resolution will allow for a ``for sale'' sign on

[[Page S6445]]

some of our public lands to give a tax break to millionaires.
  It is not that this is the only issue. As I said, there is the notion 
that the administration is taking our public lands and trying to turn 
them over to be developed, the notion that they are giving land to coal 
companies so they can harvest coal off of Federal lands and then not 
charging them a royalty rate which is compensatory and fair to the 
American public. We tried to fix that. Obviously, this Secretary of the 
Interior is trying to roll that back and give coal companies a 
sweetheart deal.
  Now we have an EPA Administrator who, basically, has had a mining 
company CEO walk into his office and say: By the way, we want to 
develop a mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay in Alaska, home of the 
largest salmon run and probably responsible for 50 percent of sockeye 
salmon around the world. Immediately after the mining executive left 
the EPA Administrator's office, the EPA Administrator sent out a letter 
saying: Let's toss aside Clean Water Act safeguards to protect Bristol 
Bay, move forward on this idea of allowing the mine application to 
  So much for due process, so much for preserving what has taken the 
American public more than a hundred years to put together so that the 
public can recreate on public lands--so, yes, hunting, fishing, Native 
American, and recreational communities are all upset.
  What is the latest play? Let's stick in the budget resolution 
language providing for the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife 
Refuge to oil and gas development--something that has been so precious 
to the United States of America--basically a Serengeti for wildlife, an 
intact arctic ecosystem that doesn't exist in other places in the 
United States. Yet people are trying what I call a sneak attack, just 
like they did 12 years ago, just as people tried to open up the Arctic 
refuge for development before and on its own merits couldn't get it 
enacted into law. They put it in the Defense appropriation bill, 
thinking that there is no way people could vote against money for the 
troops--that is how we can get the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge open 
for mineral development.
  But it didn't work then, and it is not going to work now. The 
American people are not for legislative sneak attacks, backdoor ways to 
move legislation that could never pass on its own merits. I know the 
President wants to get a big budget package together, get healthcare in 
there, throw in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling, hope that 
people can't vote no, and move forward. I would say, if this is such a 
wonderful idea, let it stand on its own merits.

  This area, as we can see, is a very pristine part of the United 
States. And now some people are saying: Oh, well, we could do some sort 
of drilling. Why do you want to have drilling in a pristine wildlife 
refuge? When people say: Oh, well, there are refuges that have had 
drilling--if that was prior to it being declared a refuge, yes, but 
this is a pristine area that we decided to set aside. Why? Because, as 
I mentioned, it is a Serengeti, it is an arctic Serengeti of caribou 
and other wildlife, over 200 different species of birds that come to 
the area, to say nothing about the population of polar bears in the 
region. Why do we want to destroy this? It is not that we are somehow 
thinking that we are going to get oil reserves out of it for our 
Nation. In fact, the issue is really, with the price of oil and the oil 
export market that has now been created, oil produced here is going on 
to the larger world market. So why is it that we think this is going to 
help us in the United States?
  People are trying to use a budget process to increase the deficit by 
$1.5 trillion to pay for tax cuts for wealthy people. They are willing 
to degrade the environment as a way to pay for tax cuts for the 
wealthy. I don't agree to it. I don't think the American people agree 
to it. They know that this iconic wildlife refuge has been attacked 
many times. They know that every time, someone has had to come up with 
some backdoor way of trying to get the refuge opened. I think my 
colleagues should understand and take note that these have all failed. 
They failed in the past because this idea is not the brightest, most 
brilliant idea in America. It is not the thing that is going to turn 
the U.S. economy around. It is not the thing that is going to help us 
get tax reform. It is not an idea that is even going to help us with 
the bipartisan effort to move forward on an energy package. If you 
think about it, we passed an energy bill out of here last Congress with 
85 votes. If this was something that could be done in that package, it 
would have been done in that package.
  I know that we are going to have more oil and gas exploration in 
Alaska. I know there is going to be more exploration in many parts of 
the Arctic. There is going to be a rush of Arctic nations to look at 
oil drilling off of our coast and in the Arctic Circle. The United 
States should get ready and participate in those discussions. I am 
first in line to say that we need a fleet of icebreakers to be prepared 
and be ready for the advent and the change in the Arctic. There will be 
many discussions about where responsible drilling should take place. I 
guarantee you, even if you opened up the Arctic National Wildlife 
Refuge, it would not stop this debate about more drilling in Alaska.
  Let's remember that we set aside this pristine area for a very 
specific purpose: to keep the uniqueness that has existed in this part 
of the world--just a very small piece of it. Continue to have the 
debate in other parts of Alaska and in the Arctic about what the 
development of oil resources are going to be.
  I encourage my colleagues not to fall prey to another backdoor 
attempt at trying to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Don't 
fall for a cynical bill where somehow somebody is going to try to cram 
everything in it and say: You can't vote against it because it has too 
many things for your State. Let's do the work that it takes to do 
bipartisan work--work together, agree on the things that we can agree 
on, and move forward. I guarantee you, our energy policy will be better 
in America for doing that.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rounds). If no one yields time, then time 
will be charged equally.
  The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that following 
leader remarks on October 18, 2017, that it be in order to call up the 
following amendments; that the time until 3 p.m. be for debate on the 
amendments, equally divided between the managers or their designees; 
and that following the use or yielding back of that time, the Senate 
vote in relation to the amendments in the order listed, with no second-
degree amendments in order prior to the votes: Hatch amendment No. 1144 
and Sanders amendment No. 1119.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, Senators should be prepared for additional 
amendment votes to occur during the series at 3 p.m.