EXECUTIVE SESSION
(Senate - October 02, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 157 (Monday, October 2, 2017)]
[Pages S6237-S6250]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the Pai 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Ajit 
Varadaraj Pai, of Kansas, to be a Member of the Federal Communications 
Commission for a term of five years from July 1, 2016.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.


                        Las Vegas Mass Shooting

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, there are a number of issues I wish to 
speak on today, but first I wish to extend my most sincere condolences 
to the victims of violence in Las Vegas.
  What we witnessed last night was a tragedy without precedent. Today, 
our thoughts are with all those folks who have lost--the families, 
loved ones, and

[[Page S6238]]

friends whose lives will never be the same as a result of this 
shooting.
  Our hearts are with all of you, and so are our prayers. We love you. 
We stand by you today. We ask that God will stand by you always.


                   Remembering Elder Robert D. Hales

  Mr. President, I wish to pay tribute to Elder Robert D. Hales, a 
member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus 
Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  With his family gathered around his bedside, Elder Hales passed away 
peacefully yesterday afternoon in between sessions of LDS General 
Conference. More than a beloved leader, he was a caring family man, a 
powerful role model, and a close friend whom I will miss dearly. Today, 
I wish to pay tribute to Elder Hales as we remember a life well-lived.
  Elder Hales was born on August 4, 1932, to Rulon and Vera Hales. He 
grew up on Long Island in a diverse neighborhood, which allowed him to 
become familiar with a variety of different cultures. Although raised 
on the east coast, Elder Hales always maintained strong western roots. 
He would speak fondly of the summers he spent in Utah bailing hay, 
riding horses, tending sheep, and herding cattle in the mountain 
pastures. Although Elder Hales would later become an accomplished 
businessman, he was no stranger to manual labor, and he credited his 
early days working on the farm as the source of his strong work ethic.
  During his teenage years, Elder Hales distinguished himself as a 
student and excelled as a pitcher for his high school baseball team.
  After enrolling at the University of Utah, he returned home to New 
York for the summer and met Mary Crandall. It was love at first sight. 
They married a year later in the Salt Lake Temple on June 10, 1953.
  Following his graduation from college, Elder Hales joined the U.S. 
Air Force, where he served as a fighter pilot. His squadron's motto was 
``Return With Honor.'' In his own words, ``The motto was a constant 
reminder to us of our determination to return to home base with honor 
after we had expended all of our efforts to successfully complete every 
aspect of our mission.''
  ``Return With Honor'' would become the credo by which Elder Hales 
lived his life, expending every effort as a faith leader, father, and 
friend to better himself, bless others, and build the Kingdom of God.
  Yesterday afternoon, after decades of dedicated service as a minister 
of Jesus Christ, he completed his mortal mission and returned with 
honor to our heavenly home. The challenge he leaves behind is for all 
of us to do the same.
  To the very end, Elder Hales was a model of selfless service. Even in 
his later years, beset by illness and old age, he continued to carry 
out the responsibilities of his apostolic office without hesitation and 
without complaint. Elder Hales decided when he was still a young man 
that he would never let anything get in the way of his church service.
  Following his career in the Air Force, Elder Hales enrolled at 
Harvard Business School, where he was called to serve as Elders Quorum 
president, one of the most demanding leadership positions in the LDS 
Church. Because of his heavy course load, Elder Hales could have easily 
declined the calling, but he gladly accepted it. His wife Mary guided 
him in making this decision. When Elder Hales said he might fail his 
classes if he agreed to serve as the Elders Quorum president, Mary 
said:

       Bob, I would rather have an active priesthood holder than a 
     man who holds a master's degree from Harvard. We'll do both.

  With Mary's unwavering support, Elder Hales served successfully as an 
Elders Quorum president in addition to earning his MBA. He would later 
go on to work as a high-level executive at multiple national 
corporations.
  From this formative experience, Bob and Mary learned that God would 
provide for them as long as they put the gospel first. That is why 
Elder Hales did not hesitate to leave his business career behind when 
he was called to serve as a mission president and later as an apostle 
in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  Elder Hales provided a model of servant-leadership for all of us to 
follow. He was a true disciple of Jesus Christ, putting the welfare of 
others before self and the Kingdom of God above all. He was gracious 
and loving, thoughtful and kind. In all things, Elder Hales exemplified 
humanity and humility, which was the hallmark of his life.
  While millions of us grieve his passing, we take peace and comfort in 
knowing that his service continues on the other side.
  I knew him very well, played golf with him, thought he was one of the 
great men in my life. I am going to pay tribute to him and his family 
here today in front of the whole United States Senate and the country. 
He was one of the most worthwhile people I ever met. We are going to 
miss him.


                 Reform of Criminal Intent Requirements

  Mr. President, with the time I have remaining, I wish to address an 
issue that remains critically important as well--overcriminalization 
and the need to reform criminal intent requirements in our Federal 
criminal code.
  Like many of my colleagues, I believe Congress has criminalized far 
too much conduct and has mandated overly harsh penalties for too many 
crimes. A number of my colleagues have sought to address these problems 
by cutting prison sentences, altering statutory minimums, or releasing 
prisoners early for good behavior. But as we seek to reform the 
criminal justice system, we must be careful not to overlook one of the 
major roots of the problem: the lack of adequate criminal intent 
requirements in Federal statutes.
  ``Mens rea'' is a Latin phrase meaning guilty mind. One of the time-
honored, fundamental features of our criminal law is that for a person 
to be found guilty of a crime, he or she must have committed the act 
with criminal intent or mens rea. In the English common law, this 
principle was summarized in the idea that the act is not culpable 
unless the mind is guilty. Mens rea requirements protect individuals 
who commit an illegal act without knowing that their action was wrong 
or unlawful.
  To give an example, a person who mistakenly retrieves the wrong coat 
from a coatroom does not become a thief merely because he took 
something that wasn't his but looked like his. Only if he knows that 
the coat belongs to someone else does he commit a criminal act.
  Unfortunately, many of our current criminal laws and regulations 
contain inadequate mens rea requirements, and some contain no mens rea 
requirement at all. This leaves individuals--innocent individuals--
subject and vulnerable to prosecution for conduct they believed to be 
lawful at the time.
  In recent years, as Congress and Federal agencies have criminalized 
more behavior, they have often been vague about mens rea requirements 
or even silent about mens rea altogether.
  In a 2014 Tennessee Law Review article, Michael Cottone investigated 
how many Federal criminal statutes there are in the U.S. code. Mr. 
Cottone explained that ``tellingly, no exact count of the number of 
federal statutes that impose criminal sanctions has ever been given.'' 
Most scholars agree that there are approximately 5,000 Federal statutes 
that impose criminal sanctions, but those criminal statutes do not 
include the nearly 300,000 Federal regulations that also carry criminal 
penalties.
  With so many criminal laws on the books, it is far too easy for 
Americans to break Federal laws unwittingly, with no understanding 
whatsoever that their behavior happens to be illegal. For example, did 
you know it is a Federal crime to write a check for an amount of less 
than $1 or that it is a Federal crime to allow a pet to make a noise 
that frightens wildlife on Federal land? Even more incredibly, did you 
know it is a Federal crime to keep a pet on a leash that exceeds 6 feet 
in length on Federal land?
  These are only a few examples of unlawful activities that reasonable 
people could not reasonably be expected to know. What is worse, many of 
these unlawful activities are punishable by time in prison. This is not 
only ridiculous, but it is immoral. The lack of adequate mens rea 
requirements in our Federal criminal code subjects innocent people to 
unjustified punishment.
  To address this issue, I reintroduced the Mens Rea Reform Act of 
2017. Today I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the Heritage 
Foundation and the Federalist Society for highlighting the need for 
mens rea reform

[[Page S6239]]

and for supporting my efforts to protect innocent people. They are not 
the only ones. Anybody who looks at this has to say: Are we going to 
send people to jail when they didn't know what they were doing was 
wrong? It makes anybody stop and think: Is that right? Should we do 
that? Is that fair?
  Likewise, I wish to thank Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and 
David Perdue for joining me as cosponsors on this bill. Our bill sets a 
default intent requirement of willfulness for all Federal criminal 
offenses that lack an intent requirement. Additionally, the bill 
defines willfulness to mean that a person acted with knowledge that his 
or her conduct was unlawful.
  Naturally, our bill does not apply to any offenses that Congress 
clearly intended to be strict liability offenses. Our proposal has 
garnered widespread support from a variety of organizations, including 
the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Koch Industries, 
the Federal Defenders, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Heritage 
Foundation--just to name a few.
  Importantly, our bill does not remove any crimes from the books, nor 
does it override any existing mens rea standards written in statute. 
Moreover, it does not limit Congress's authority to create new criminal 
offenses, including strict liability offenses.
  Mens rea really is a simple issue. Individuals should not be 
threatened with prison time for accidentally committing a crime or for 
engaging in an activity they did not know was wrong. If Congress wants 
to criminalize an activity and does not want to include any sort of 
criminal intent requirement, Congress should have to specify in statute 
that it is creating a strict liability offense.
  I believe this simple legislative solution will go a long way in 
reducing harsh sentences for morally innocent offenders. It will also 
push back against the overcriminalization of innocent behavior. As I 
have said many times, any consideration of criminal justice reform or 
sentencing reform is incomplete without reforms to mens rea 
requirements.


                      Foreign Judicial Proceedings

  Mr. President, on a final note, I wish to express my concern about a 
provision in U.S. law that allows foreign litigants to come into U.S. 
courts and gain access to documents and other evidence for use in 
foreign judicial proceedings.
  Under current provision, 28 U.S.C. 1782, an American citizen can be 
subjected to invasive requests by a foreign entity even when the 
citizen has no ability under the laws of the foreign jurisdiction to 
obtain similar information from the foreign entity itself. This gives 
foreign entities an unfair advantage over their U.S. counterparts.
  Equally problematic, U.S. persons may be compelled under Federal law 
to turn over business information or trade secrets for use in Federal 
judicial proceedings without any guarantee that such information will 
be adequately protected in the foreign jurisdiction. This places U.S. 
businesses at risk and, again, creates an unfair playing field.
  Such unfairness and lack of reciprocity is deeply concerning. Our 
laws should not disadvantage our own citizens and companies. Rather, we 
should ensure a level playing field.
  In the coming weeks, I will be introducing legislation to do just 
that. These are important bills, and these are important ideas. I 
appreciate having this time to be able to express them for the country 
at large.
  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. SCHATZ. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                        Las Vegas Mass Shooting

  Mr. SCHATZ. Mr. President, before my planned remarks on the Federal 
Communications Commission, I want to say a few words about the awful 
events that happened in Las Vegas. Our hearts are with the families 
affected by the tragedy and with the city of Las Vegas, and we do send 
them our best wishes and our prayers. But we can do more than send our 
thoughts and prayers to the grieving. We can do more than thank the 
first responders. We can do more than lower the flag to half mast.
  We can take a stand against gun violence by passing commonsense gun 
safety laws. Otherwise, this becomes a ritual of mass murder, mourning, 
and moving on. Let's stop this awful ritual. Let's stop the violence. 
Let's do something about it.
  Mr. President, I wish to talk about the nomination of Chairman Ajit 
Pai to lead the Federal Communications Commission for another 5 years. 
When it comes to Chairman Pai, personally and professionally, I want to 
say that I believe in his integrity as a public servant, and I believe 
he is smart and qualified. But the FCC is supposed to create 
competition and protect consumers, and Chairman Pai isn't doing that.
  First, Chairman Pai's FCC is trying to get rid of net neutrality. Net 
neutrality is a Federal rule that says ISPs--internet service 
providers--must treat all content equally. They can't discriminate by 
making certain kinds of content slower, charging more for other kinds 
of content, or blocking some content altogether.
  That is the basic premise of the internet. Once you pay for your 
broadband internet access and then you jump on a browser, everything 
comes down to the same speeds. It is so foundational to the way we use 
the internet that it is actually hard to describe a future without net 
neutrality, but it could be that you pay your ISP, and certain websites 
download fast.
  Certain websites are almost impossible to find. For certain websites, 
you have to pay a premium just to be able to capture their content. 
Forget what you may have to pay Hulu, Netflix, and others. The ISP will 
essentially control your access to the internet. That is why net 
neutrality was so important. It is not that, in that moment, things 
were necessarily undermining the current internet but that, without a 
firm rule, these companies may have incentives to change the internet 
as we know it.

  When Chairman Pai announced that the FCC would review the rules on 
net neutrality, he said: ``This is a fight we intend to wage, and it is 
a fight that we are going to win.'' But that is not how the FCC is 
supposed to work. This is a quasi-judicial agency. They are supposed to 
propose a rule, allow the public to weigh in, and then the agency 
considers the comments before making a decision. Chairman Pai had made 
it clear from the beginning that he had already made up his mind. Even 
though there were 22 million individual comments from American citizens 
about what we should do with the free and open internet, he had decided 
in advance of that.
  Unfortunately, this is part of a pattern. Right after Congress took 
away the FCC's ability to protect people's privacy online, he wrote an 
op-ed that essentially read that this is good news. It is pretty 
unusual to have a chairman of a quasi-judicial body weigh in on 
something that the legislative branch does or to completely disregard 
the process for public input. Chairman Pai has not yet demonstrated a 
willingness to stray from the party line.
  One of the things I like about him is that I know that he has a big 
brain. We have talked policy, and when we have had private 
conversations, I have seen that he has liked the engagement, that he 
likes the job, and that he likes public service. The challenge is that 
there has been no instance in which he has done anything that was other 
than predictably Republican. That is OK for now, as it has been a 
relatively short tenure, but what we need in an FCC Chairman is someone 
who takes his own views and the facts, as the record becomes 
established, and makes up his own mind. He is not a Republican while he 
is on the FCC. His job is to apply the facts and his own judgment.
  During the confirmation hearing, I asked him about the President of 
the United States calling the media the ``enemy of the state.'' He 
would not say one way or another what he thought of those comments or 
how he would guide the FCC based on those comments. At some point, he 
needs to demonstrate some independence from his party and from the 
President.
  With this vote, the Senate has a chance to say that the person who 
leads the FCC should understand, at a bare minimum, how to run a quasi-
judicial agency in a nonpartisan fashion,

[[Page S6240]]

that he or she should value public input, and that he or she should not 
simply go along with what the party is asking and implement it no 
matter how it stacks up against the statute.
  Here is another example. Earlier this year, Chairman Pai rolled back 
a rule in order to allow local TV stations to be bought up without any 
limits by one single company. This decision seemed to be for the 
benefit of one company, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which just 
happens to be a company with strong conservative leanings. Sinclair is 
already the largest owner of local broadcasting stations in the United 
States, but now it is trying to buy another company, Tribune Media, 
which would expand Sinclair's reach into 72 percent of the households.
  For decades, both Congress and the FCC have taken steps to protect 
local broadcasting because it has benefited the public interest. So, 
under normal circumstances, Sinclair would not be able to buy up these 
other stations, but Chairman Pai has changed the rules so that this 
company will have even more power and reach. The secondary beneficiary 
of this change will be the Republican Party, because Sinclair has a 
decades-long history of pressuring its local stations to broadcast 
certain news that helps the Republican cause.
  We need an independent Chairman at the helm of the FCC. We need 
someone who will make decisions based on statute, not based on 
political affiliation. That is why I will vote no on Mr. Pai's 
nomination, but I hope that I will be proven wrong.
  I yield the floor.


                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.


                    Thanking the Senator from Hawaii

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, first, let me thank my friend from Hawaii 
for his words.
  I will make a statement for the record with regard to Mr. Pai, as I 
agree with Senator Schatz' vote and will be voting no, but I want to 
first speak about the horrible situation in Las Vegas.


                        Las Vegas Mass Shooting

  Mr. President, there are precious few words for days like this. Last 
night, as everyone now knows, at a concert in Las Vegas, NV, a gunman 
opened fire on a crowd of 22,000, killing at least 58 and sending 
hundreds more to the hospital. It was the deadliest mass shooting in 
the history of our country.
  Our collective hearts, so hardened now by the absurd frequency of 
these mass shootings, are broken once again. We mourn for the families 
of the fallen, and we pray with the families of the wounded. We have 
the deepest gratitude for every first responder, cop, and firefighter 
who rushed to the scene, as their heroism in the moment of this 
national tragedy has been an inspiration. Yet today we are filled with 
shock and horror, with sadness and rage.
  The horrific massacre was perpetrated by an American on his fellow 
Americans and the visitors from every corner of the world, who are the 
very lifeblood of Las Vegas. We are left with many questions, the 
answers to which we will seek in the coming days and weeks.
  How did this monster acquire the arsenal that he used to rain down 
death on a crowd of innocents? Were these guns purchased and compiled 
legally? What was this person's perverted motive? Was there any history 
of mental health issues?
  What circumstances could lead a man to commit such violence upon his 
fellow human beings--complete strangers--what twisted reasoning, what 
demented logic?
  There is much more that we do not know than what we do know. Some of 
the questions that we have today will not have clear answers. Others 
are, perhaps, beyond our fathoming. Yet some will have answers, and we 
will have to reckon with the fact that this man was able to assemble an 
arsenal of military-grade weapons.
  As much as we might hope to, we cannot banish evil from the Earth. 
Congress cannot do that, and the President cannot do that. What 
Congress can do and what Congress must do is to pass laws that keep our 
citizens safe, and that starts with laws that help prevent guns, 
especially the most dangerous guns, from falling into the wrong hands.
  We will take care of the injured--their bodies and their hearts--and 
nurse them back to health. We will mourn those lost with all of our 
collective love and support. We will bind up this new national wound. 
Then, we will aggressively ferret out the facts, and based on that 
reality, we will confront--we must confront--the deeply troubling 
issues that have been raised by this atrocity.


          Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Recovery Effort

  Mr. President, our friends and relatives and fellow Americans in 
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands should know that, even while we 
mourn and process the incomprehensible events in Las Vegas, we remain 
laser-focused on the needs of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, 
and we will continue our advocacy for a more comprehensive, more sure-
footed, and better coordinated response to their crisis.
  Mr. President, shortly the Senate will vote on the nominee to be 
Chairman of the FCC, Mr. Ajit Pai.
  I cannot support this nominee for the office of Chairman. The FCC is 
tasked with the critical role of protecting consumers and promoting 
innovation in the telecommunications and technological fields that are 
becoming more and more integral to our day-to-day lives. However, over 
his time at the FCC and particularly in his tenure as Chairman so far, 
Mr. Pai has established a clear record of favoring big corporations at 
the expense of consumers, innovators, and small businesses.
  He supported congressional attempts to reverse the FCC's 2016 
broadband privacy rule, which would have prevented big cable and 
internet companies from profiting off of personal internet data. Now, 
internet service providers no longer have to obtain consumer consent 
before they sell or share sensitive personal data.
  Most disturbingly, Chairman Pai is currently attempting to dismantle 
the open internet order, the net neutrality rules under which millions 
of consumers currently have access to a free and open internet. Net 
neutrality has had a huge impact on everyone who uses the internet--on 
communities of color, on small businesses, on schools, on civic 
engagement, and on our economy.
  Net neutrality is not the only issue where I disagree with Chairman 
Pai's agenda. In his first 2 weeks on the job, Chairman Pai stopped 9 
companies from providing discounted high-speed internet to low-income 
individuals, and he jammed through nearly a dozen industry-backed 
actions, including some to begin curtailing net neutrality. The most 
alarming part: these clandestine moves to clip the public's fundamental 
right to a free and open internet were done without seeking public 
comment first.
  It is no surprise, therefore, that Chairman Pai would be willing to 
further undermine the FCC's protection of net neutrality, 
notwithstanding the views of the nearly 22 million American citizens 
who have commented in opposition to his net neutrality proposal.
  The open internet order is working well as it is and should remain 
undisturbed. Mr. Pai, however, seems bent on rolling back the open 
internet on behalf of a few corporate friends, rather than serving the 
American consumer and the American economy by keeping the current 
protections in place.
  For these reasons, I feel very strongly that I must oppose his 
nomination; I cannot support this agenda, which I believe imperils 
consumers and the internet itself.
  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. MORAN. 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. MORAN. Mr. President, thank you very much.
  Today, I am here to speak on behalf of a good friend and an 
exceptional public servant, Chairman Ajit Pai of the Federal 
Communications Commission.
  I have admired his work throughout his service within the Commission, 
which dates back to 2007, when he was in the Office of General Counsel. 
Over

[[Page S6241]]

time, he was promoted to become the Deputy General Counsel of the 
Federal Communications Commission. In 2012, by voice vote, he was 
confirmed by the Senate to serve as a Commissioner, and he has 
continued to embody integrity, honesty, and dedication in this role, 
something we would expect from a Kansan.
  As only the second Kansan ever to be nominated to serve on the 
Federal Communications Commission--the first being Bob Wells of Garden 
City, KS, who served from 1969 to 1971--Ajit Pai has proven himself to 
be a capable and talented leader and one of the smartest people whom I 
have ever met, especially when it comes to public policy.
  I have worked with him and his staff throughout my time on the Senate 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and have traveled with 
him throughout our home State. My getting to know him on a personal 
level has really been a delight, something that has been a highlight of 
my time while serving in the Senate. He is a native of Parsons, KS, 
which is a small town in the southeast corner of our State, and he 
brings with him an understanding of the challenges that face rural 
America. He understands the importance of access to high-speed 
broadband and wireless connectivity, and I believe that his roots as a 
small town Kansas kid make him exceptionally qualified to advocate for 
rural America.
  Ajit came to Wichita just this past week to explore ideas and explain 
policy opportunities to close the digital divide within local broadband 
providers that work in Kansas communities I serve. The lack of 
broadband connectivity in parts of rural Kansas has lasting economic, 
educational, and public health impacts, and Ajit Pai has prioritized 
incentive-based solutions like the Connect America Fund and Mobility 
Fund to close this divide in a fiscally responsible and competitively 
driven way.
  Outside of supporting high-speed broadband build-out to unserved or 
underserved areas, Ajit created the Broadband Deployment Advisory 
Committee to promote broadband deployment across America, including 
removing regulatory burdens and barriers and improving permitting and 
the right-of-way process through regulatory reform.
  While in Kansas, he was also able to see the great work that was 
being done to implement the Next Generation 9-1-1 technology in our 
home State. As we know, improving these communications systems is 
absolutely necessary to ensure adequate emergency services to rural and 
urban Americans alike, and we see that today and over the last several 
months with the disasters and tragedies that have occurred in our 
country.
  Ajit has also proven himself to be a leader who is committed to free 
markets, clearly understanding that regulations should be balanced with 
pro-growth economic principles that do not unduly harm employers or 
stifle innovation. To this end, Ajit Pai announced his intentions to 
stand up a new Office of Economics and Data within the FCC to provide 
economic analysis of the policies and functions of the agency. We are 
looking for thoughtful, data-backed input to the agency that should 
lead to market-driven policy decisions the Commission can then hang 
their hat on.
  Critical issues before the FCC today require this type of expertise; 
things such as efficient and effective broadband deployment, quality 
spectrum management that schools and libraries desperately need, as 
well as hospitals that also desperately need this spectrum, and 
fostering innovation just in the general sense. If we want a growing 
economy with more jobs, better jobs, higher paying jobs, we need access 
to the latest technologies across the country.
  As the currently appointed Chair of the FCC, Ajit has improved 
openness and transparency within the Commission, eliminated onerous and 
duplicative regulations holding up that innovation, and has protected 
consumers from illegal and fraudulent robocalls. One recent decision 
under his leadership that has received so much attention from consumer 
advocates, industry representatives, and policy academics is the FCC 
order Restoring Internet Freedom Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
  Under Chairman Pai's leadership, the Commission has collected tens of 
millions of comments regarding the agency's proposal to roll back the 
2015 open internet order and has extended the deadline so more 
interested parties can be heard. This input collection, coupled with 
fundamentally improving the rulemaking processes, has increased the 
Commission's culture of openness and transparency, something I 
certainly support and would continue to encourage.
  I believe the Federal Government must ensure a fair and open internet 
that is not blocked or slowed. I do not want outdated utility-style 
regulations to the internet that were established for telephone 
companies in the 1930s. Instead of leaving this important regulatory 
framework open to interpretation and change with every new 
administration, Congress--the U.S. Senate--and our Commerce Committee 
should and must craft bipartisan legislation that preserves the fair 
and open internet.
  Chairman Pai has taken thoughtful steps toward a long-term solution 
by seeking to eliminate the harmful 2015 regulations hindering 
broadband deployment and harming an innovative internet ecosystem.
  Ajit Pai has repeatedly proven himself to be a public servant of the 
highest caliber, with strong integrity and character. I am proud to 
recommend his swift confirmation to the Federal Communications 
Commission and call on my colleagues to support his nomination. Ajit 
Pai is an intelligent, articulate public servant who has the character 
and integrity that is required at the Federal Communications 
Commission. I support his nomination and ask my colleagues to do the 
same.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. McCONNELL, Mr. President, as I noted last week, the nominee 
before us, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, has led a fascinating life with two 
defining features: hard work and success.
  He understands communications policy from just about every angle--no 
wonder, given his deep and impressive resume.
  He comprehends the needs of rural communities in states like mine, a 
product of his own rural upbringing.
  He has dedicated himself to issues like advocating for Americans' 
First Amendment rights and bringing-more openness and more 
accountability to the FCC, an agency that, too often, has earned a 
reputation for secrecy.
  Chairman Pai is just the kind of person we need over at the FCC.
  I was glad to see the Senate advance his nomination last week.
  I look forward to confirming him to a new term later this afternoon.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to voice my 
concern regarding the nomination of Ajit Pai to serve as a Commissioner 
of the Federal Communications Commission.
  Many of my colleagues are planning to speak about the threat Mr. Pai 
poses to a free and open Internet, but what brings me to the floor is a 
different looming threat to the public interest: the proposed Sinclair 
Broadcast Group merger with Tribune Media Company. If approved, the 
Sinclair-Tribune merger would create the Nation's largest television 
broadcast company in history, reaching over 70 percent of households 
nationwide. There is reason for concern.
  Mr. Pai's track record at the FCC has shown that he will not hesitate 
to put the needs of industry ahead of the best interests of consumers. 
Under his leadership as Chairman, the FCC acted to reinstate an 
outdated loophole known as the UHF discount that would make it easier 
for companies to get around rules limiting national media ownership. 
These rules are essential in maintaining the trust Americans have 
placed in their local broadcasters and ensuring consumers benefit from 
programming representing diverse viewpoints.
  What was Mr. Pai's motivation for putting this loophole back in 
place? I will just say this: The loophole was reinstated in April, and 
Sinclair announced its acquisition of Tribune in May.
  My concerns about the merger are not solely grounded in Sinclair's 
practice of mandating its stations distribute its self-produced 
conservative content, as troubling as that is. Rather it is that no 
single company should be

[[Page S6242]]

able to decide what 72 percent of the country's news looks like. The 
Sinclair-Tribune merger undermines competition and threatens local 
broadcasting as a trusted and diverse voice for its viewers in Illinois 
and across the country.
  Because of Mr. Pai's deregulatory campaign and repeated failure to 
put the best needs of the consumer first, I will oppose his nomination 
to serve a second term as a Commissioner for the Federal Communications 
Commission.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, in 2015, the Federal Communications 
Commission, FCC, did something that can be all too rare Washington: It 
listened to the American people. After a record number of Americans 
spoke in favor of clear rules to protect a free and open Internet, the 
FCC voted to adopt strong net neutrality protections that accomplished 
this goal. These protections, which ensure that innovation and free 
speech can flourish online, are currently under threat as the FCC now 
moves to repeal them. On net neutrality and on many other key 
telecommunications policy issues, Chairman Pai has stood against 
consumers, startups, and small businesses. Today I choose to stand with 
them and with millions of Americans who support net neutrality by 
opposing his reappointment.
  Vermonters have been clear that they want strong FCC rules in place 
to ensure that the Internet remains the ultimate platform for economic 
opportunity and free expression. These protections are particularly 
important for small businesses, which compete on the internet's global 
stage against the largest companies in the world. The Vermont Country 
Store is a great example of a small company that has taken advantage of 
the promise of an open Internet. Family-owned with a rich history 
dating back to 1897, the internet offered new opportunities to extend 
the company's reach. As fifth generation storekeeper Cabot Orton said 
when he testified in Vermont about the FCC's effort to craft net 
neutrality protections in 2014:

       We don't want to imagine an America with two Internets: a 
     fast one for giant corporations and a slow one for everybody 
     else. We don't want to imagine being held for ransom by 
     telecom behemoths and cable monopolies just to reach our 
     customers with the same speed and convenience that global 
     conglomerates enjoy . . . A small business website that is no 
     longer protected from giant Internet toll-keepers would have 
     one choice: pay to play. Failing that, a company becomes the 
     proverbial tree falling in the forest with no one there to 
     hear it.

  Chairman Pai has shown total disregard for the concerns of businesses 
like the Vermont Country Store. In proposing to repeal the existing net 
neutrality protections, he makes no mention of their importance to the 
small business community. Instead of recognizing the very real impact 
on small businesses of stripping away these protections, Chairman Pai 
claims that there are no possible harms these protections could be 
designed to prevent.
  This is particularly clear when he discusses the current rule banning 
harmful paid prioritization agreements that would create the type of 
two-tiered internet small businesses fear. Chairman Pai claims that 
there was no need for this rule because some large internet service 
providers, ISPs, said they ``had no plans'' to engage in this kind of 
behavior. This is despite the fact that at least one major ISP said 
outright in its 2014 FCC filing that it wanted the ``flexibility'' to 
charge websites for priority access and that, even though it had no 
plans for these arrangements, they ``should be permissible and should 
be tested.''
  I introduced legislation to ban pay-to-play deals online before the 
FCC adopted its rule because of the harm they would cause small 
businesses like the Vermont Country Store. I find Chairman Pai's 
failure to understand the importance of a level playing field for small 
businesses extremely disconcerting.
  Not only is Chairman Pai ignoring the small business community by 
barreling ahead to repeal net neutrality protections, he is also 
ignoring the clear will of the American people. Over 22 million 
Americans have submitted comments in the proceeding he started to 
repeal these critical protections, shattering records at the FCC. Poll 
after poll has found overwhelming bipartisan support for net 
neutrality. In Washington, Chairman Pai calls net neutrality 
protections burdensome and unnecessary. In Vermont, we just call them 
common sense.
  Vermonters also value their privacy rights and want basic protections 
in place to protect their personal data. In 2016, over Chairman Pai's 
objections, the FCC put in place important privacy protections to 
prevent ISPs from selling their sensitive information, including their 
web browsing history, without their consent. These rules also included 
basic data security and data breach notification requirements. We have 
seen how important it is to hold companies to basic data security and 
breach notification standards in the wake of the total disregard 
Equifax showed for protecting sensitive consumer information.
  Unfortunately, Chairman Pai was a strong supporter of the resolution 
of disapproval passed by this Congress that permanently repealed the 
FCC's privacy and data security protections. At a time when the 
personal information of every single American is under constant threat, 
Chairman Pai thought it was simply too much to ask for ISPs to take 
reasonable steps to secure their subscribers data and notify them if a 
breach occurs.
  Chairman Pai's approach to rural broadband, which is one of the most 
pressing issues for Vermonters, also raises cause for concern. Just 
recently, he has proposed to effectively lower the speed standard used 
to measure whether Americans have access to adequate broadband service. 
As someone who represents a rural State, ensuring that we accurately 
measure how many Americans lack this essential service is critical. 
Under the current standard set by the previous FCC, 39 percent of rural 
Americans lack access to true high-speed broadband service. In 
contrast, only 4 percent of urban Americans lack access.
  I supported the FCC's decision to set a high minimum broadband speed 
to use as the baseline for comparing rural and urban areas. All 
Americans deserve the same quality of broadband service, whether they 
live in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont or the heart of Kansas City. 
Rural Americans should not be held to a lower standard simply so that 
Chairman Pai can rig the numbers to falsely claim that he has closed 
the digital divide once and for all.
  Chairman Pai has shown far too often in his time at the FCC that he 
will side with Goliath over David and that he will ignore the 
overwhelming sentiment of the American people. With the fate of the 
open internet and many other critical telecommunications issues at 
stake, I must oppose Chairman Pai's nomination.
  Mr. MORAN. 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. 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.


                        Las Vegas Mass Shooting

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, today we mourn the loss of at least 50 
lives in Las Vegas, the victims of senseless violence at an outdoor 
concert near the Mandalay Resort and Casino. The lives of fellow 
Americans were taken in a barbaric manner that defies all 
justification, excuse, or even explanation. That these events have 
become almost commonplace in modern society makes them no less shocking 
or morally reprehensible.
  The date and location--a country music festival on a Sunday 
afternoon--make the act seem doubly cruel. Thousands of innocent 
spectators were there from around the country enjoying themselves, with 
security being the furthest thing from their minds, until the shots 
rang out.
  As news reports have now indicated, the event is one of the deadliest 
mass shootings in modern U.S. history. It and other forms of violence 
continue to tear apart the fabric of our country, and the scars left 
among the victims' families and loved ones will be painful and 
permanent.
  My prayers go out to all those in Nevada who have not slept since 
yesterday and who are still grappling with the aftermath of the 
shooting, the families tending to loved ones in hospitals, as well as 
the first responders and law

[[Page S6243]]

enforcement officers who ran toward, not away from, the gunfire and who 
are now nursing various wounds. Here in Washington, we will continue to 
monitor the situation. We will continue to keep the fallen in our 
prayers in the days ahead.


                               Tax Reform

  Mr. President, turning to the legislative business at hand, the last 
time Congress enacted tax reform was 1986. Back then, I was a State 
district judge in San Antonio, TX, the Spurs had a bad losing streak, 
and gasoline was 89 cents a gallon.
  A lot has changed since 1986. We have seen parties in Congress win 
the majority, lose it, and win again. We have seen six Presidents come 
and go, bringing us to this moment, this year, with the President 
committed to providing Americans with real tax relief and the promise 
of a resurgent economy. After countless meetings, hearings, and 
conversations amongst Members who represent varying and diverse 
constituents, Republicans in the House and the Senate and the 
administration have joined together to unveil a unified framework for 
tax reform.
  In the more than 30 years since our Tax Code has become overhauled, 
it has become the punch line in a bad joke. No one will defend it. 
Everyone knows it needs to be fixed. Over time, the code has become 
more complex and is now riddled with deductions, credits, and loopholes 
advocated by an army of lobbyists and special interests, so much so 
that the majority of Americans now pay somebody else to prepare their 
taxes because it is too complex for them to figure it out on their own, 
but with renewed focus and determination, we are committed to taking 
this framework and using it to enact real reforms to simplify a Tax 
Code that has grown so complex over the years, but that is not the main 
reason.
  The main reason we need tax reform is that the Tax Code has become 
the enemy of a growing, prosperous economy; the enemy of more take-home 
pay, and the enemy of America's competitiveness in a global economy. It 
is self-inflicted harm, and we can and must do better.
  Our first priority should be to reduce taxes for all American 
families, not one socioeconomic class or another--everyone. With a 
simpler, fairer, and more competitive Tax Code, we can raise living 
standards so people who earn the money can make decisions on how best 
to spend it themselves--on their children's education, on their home, 
on a car they need in order to get reliable transportation to get to 
and from work, or just maybe putting a little bit of money away for 
retirement.
  I think about the newly graduated teacher in Houston's public schools 
who is worried about stagnant wages, the entrepreneur in Austin with a 
great business idea who needs investors to succeed, or a single parent 
in San Antonio who is living paycheck-to-paycheck. Ultimately, this is 
about empowering all citizens to pursue the American dream. This is 
about reducing government's big bite out of our wages each month and 
about small businesses spending more time growing and creating jobs.
  By coming to the aid of hard-working American and Texas families, we 
will reawaken the sleeping giant that is our economy by reincentivizing 
investment and job creation.
  I know these are lofty goals. If it were easy, we would have done it 
more recently than since 1986. I know some of our colleagues across the 
aisle and some in the public are already questioning this framework. 
Some have wasted no time lobbing accusations, but they don't even 
bother to do their homework first. They are engaging in the same kind 
of class warfare many have come to love to wage here in Washington, DC, 
but those tactics are deeply cynical and deeply untrue.
  Here is their lie. They say our tax plan cuts taxes for the wealthy 
and hurts the poor, even though the actual plan hasn't been written 
yet. Some claim they already know what the bill says, and they don't. 
That is entirely predictable in this political environment and wholly 
false. Let me tell you why.
  First, we will cut taxes for all American families without shifting 
the burden from higher income households to lower or middle-income 
households. To accomplish this, the framework creates a large zero tax 
bracket by doubling the standard deduction. The first $12,000 of income 
for an individual and $24,000 for a couple would be tax-free.
  Let me say it again. If you are a couple who makes $24,000 or less, 
you will pay zero Federal income tax, which is effectively a zero tax 
bracket. Additionally, the proposed individual rates are collapsed into 
three, at 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent. So instead of seven 
tax brackets, which we have now for individuals, we will have four, 
including the zero tax bracket. This framework also enhances the child 
tax credit. It repeals the death tax that has hurt small businesses and 
their families; it has broken up family farms and ranches. And it 
repeals the special interest tax breaks that primarily benefit the 
wealthy.

  The other refrain some critics have already started making is the 
claim that our tax plan gives big tax cuts to job creators. As I said, 
in addition to closing the special interest loopholes, nearly everyone 
will see some sort of benefit, and job creators will take that benefit 
and invest in their businesses. They will hire more people, and they 
will improve wages and growth in the economy, from which we will all 
benefit. So why would our Democratic colleagues oppose that?
  Our unified framework is a template that will be used by the tax-
writing committees to put the nuts and bolts together for tax reform. 
As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I look forward to working 
with Chairman Hatch, Ranking Member Wyden, as well as colleagues in the 
House--Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, Speaker Ryan, and others--
on these ideas. I even look forward to working with our Democratic 
colleagues if they will join us.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Ernst). The Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. UDALL. Thank you, Madam President, for the recognition.


                        Las Vegas Mass Shooting

  Today is a day of mourning for Las Vegas and for America. My heart 
goes out to all those touched by the ruthless and cowardly shooting 
last night.
  One of the victims was Lisa Romero, a secretary at Miyamura High 
School in Gallup, NM. The students knew her well as Ms. Lisa, and she 
was adored by everyone at the school. Her loss will be deeply felt. I 
send my condolences and prayers to her family, as well as her school 
family, and to everyone in Gallup, NM.
  I also want to recognize the true bravery of first responders--the 
police, the fire fighters, the EMTs--some of whom risked their own 
lives to save others. There are heroes in America, and we saw them in 
action last evening.
  Las Vegas, NV, and New Mexico share a kinship. Nevada is a sister 
Western State. Many New Mexicans have family in Las Vegas, and New 
Mexicans are reeling because of this tragedy. As westerners and as 
Americans, we must always come together to support the victims, thank 
our first responders, and focus resources and policy on preventing 
future massacres.
  Madam President, I rise in opposition to the renomination of Mr. Ajit 
Pai to the Federal Communications Commission.
  Mr. Pai, both as FCC Commissioner and now as Chairman, has not been a 
vigorous watchdog for free speech. He has not put the people's right to 
information first. In fact, he has put corporate interests first, and 
he has opposed policies outright that ensure underserved communities 
have access to essential technology. I strongly oppose his renomination 
to the Commission.
  Let's begin with his responsibility to guard First Amendment rights. 
President Trump has relentlessly attacked NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, the New 
York Times, and the Washington Post. He called these established and 
esteemed news outlets ``fake news.'' He even called them ``the enemy of 
the people.''
  Earlier this year, in February, during a Senate Commerce Committee 
hearing--this was an oversight hearing--I asked Chairman Pai pointblank 
whether he agreed with the President that these mainstream news 
organizations were the enemy of the people. He refused to answer, 
refused to disagree with this patently outrageous and anti-American 
statement.
  His written answers were better, but even then Chairman Pai did not 
demonstrate that he could stand up to

[[Page S6244]]

power and defend First Amendment rights. Democrats on the Commerce 
Committee sent a letter asking again whether he believed the media were 
the enemy of the people, and he qualified his answer in the negative by 
writing that ``the President has made clear he was referring to `fake 
news' [as the enemy of the people].'' I wish that were true, but it is 
not. The President referred to well-respected, mainstream media 
organizations.
  The FCC must unequivocally stand up for the First Amendment, and the 
Chairman needs to strongly disavow the President's unfounded attack on 
the media.
  The FCC took a huge step forward in favor of consumers in 2015 when 
it passed the open internet order. That order, known as the net 
neutrality order, was codified. The principle underlying net neutrality 
is simple and fair. It means that internet service providers must treat 
all internet traffic equally. They cannot block access to particular 
websites, apps, or services. They can't give fast lanes or special 
treatment to websites or apps that pay more or are favored by some 
companies' executives.
  Consumers benefit because internet service providers can't ``pick 
winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas.'' 
Those are the words of President Obama.
  Our democracy benefits because the internet lowers the barriers to 
communication--but not if the massive companies that control 
infrastructure can erect new ones. As a Commissioner, Mr. Pai voted 
against that pro-consumer measure, and as Trump's Chairman, he has now 
moved to dismantle it. The American people are outraged with the 
Chairman's move to undo net neutrality. The Commission has received a 
record 22 million comments in that regulatory proceeding.
  Who is against net neutrality? The megaproviders like Comcast and 
Verizon--Chairman Pai's old employer--can benefit financially from 
giving advantage to selected websites. Chairman Pai's record is that if 
there is a choice between consumers and big corporations, corporations 
win.
  Let's look at what the Chairman did recently to allow the biggest 
broadcast company in America to become even bigger. Congress has put 
into law a limit on the market share that ultrahigh frequency or UHF 
stations can own, and that limit is 39 percent. The Commission had 
considered that Sinclair Broadcast Group, the largest broadcast 
company, holds a 38 percent market share. But Sinclair wants to expand 
its reach and merge with another big company, Tribune Media. The $3.9 
billion deal would give Sinclair control over 200 more local television 
stations and expand its market to 72 percent of the television-owning 
households. Here is a chart that shows how expansive Sinclair's 
proposed takeover would be. You can see here the current marks, and you 
can see down below the proportional footprint.
  Traditionally, the FCC has interpreted its rules to prohibit Sinclair 
from making that deal, but Chairman Pai authored an order in April 
reinterpreting FCC policy to allow Sinclair to grab almost three-
quarters of the market, and Sinclair happens to be well known for its 
friendly coverage of President Trump. It even requires local broadcast 
outlets to regularly carry national commentary from a former Trump 
campaign and White House media surrogate, and its executives have been 
complimentary of Chairman Pai personally.
  Congress intended for there to be a multiplicity and diversity of 
voices and opinions on the airwaves. Congress explicitly wants to 
prevent one media organization from having an outsized influence over 
the Nation.
  I have strong reservations about Chairman Pai's leadership and 
values. Free speech, media ownership rules, and net neutrality are 
essential to a healthy democracy, and the Chairman is equivocating or 
moving backward on all fronts. For these reasons, I oppose this 
nomination.
  Nevertheless, if he is confirmed, I hope we can find common ground 
and work together. One area where we could do that is rural and Tribal 
broadband in the West. In my home State of New Mexico, rural areas, 
pueblos, and Tribes do not have access to the internet that is anywhere 
near adequate. Approximately 63 percent of people living on Tribal land 
lack access to acceptable fixed broadband speeds, compared to only 17 
percent of the U.S. population as a whole. The gap is even higher for 
residents of Tribal lands in rural areas, with approximately 85 percent 
of Tribal people lacking access.
  We all know that in today's world, broadband internet is essential to 
virtually all successful economic and commercial activity. It is 
essential to everyday life in America. As a member of the Commerce 
Committee, I will continue to push the FCC to do all it can to close 
the digital divide.
  Broadband expansion is not a question of political ideology; it is a 
question of political will. The Federal Government played a big role in 
expanding electricity and telephone service to every American. We, as a 
country, have made major investments. We must do the same for rural 
broadband. Senate Democrats have made a number of concrete proposals 
recently. I hope we can work with our Republican colleagues on these. I 
urge Chairman Pai to take them seriously.
  Members of the Commission must be 100 percent committed to principles 
of free speech, to protecting consumers and the underserved. Mr. Pai's 
record does not give me sufficient confidence that he shares that 
commitment, and, therefore, I urge all of my colleagues to reject his 
nomination.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. CAPITO. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                        Las Vegas Mass Shooting

  Mrs. CAPITO. Madam President, I come here today to talk about the 
nomination of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, but before I begin, I think all of 
us have incredibly heavy hearts in our homes, in our States, in the 
country, and in the world, as the horrifying events of Las Vegas really 
begin to sink in.
  I just saw an article come across the news line in my home State of 
West Virginia with one of the first identifications of the victims. Her 
name was Denise Burditus. She is from Martinsburg, WV. She and her 
husband Tony were at the concert together. They have been married 32 
years. They were high school sweethearts and were there vacationing and 
at the concert. Tony wrote on his Facebook page that his wife died in 
his arms. So we have lost a mother of two, and soon to be a grandmother 
of five, to this horrible tragedy. My heart sinks for them and for 
everyone. I really don't have the words to say to comfort or explain or 
understand, except that I feel deeply sad and sorry, and I pray for 
them and their families.
  Today, Madam President, I want to talk about the nomination and 
reappointment of Ajit Pai as the Chairman of the Federal Communications 
Commission. Chairman Pai has been an important partner in my quest to 
bring rural America and much of my State online. I was very lucky to 
meet Chairman Pai several years ago. Without question, he has been a 
champion.
  Without question, high-speed internet access has allowed us to 
connect with one another on a scale we never could have imagined a 
decade ago. No other technology has become so critical to our daily 
lives. It is the backbone for our innovation, competition, and economic 
growth. From starting a business to digital learning and telemedicine, 
broadband access is critical to the strength of our economy and our 
communities. Unfortunately, for all the potential opportunities that 
broadband can offer, not having access to this important service can 
create insurmountable barriers.
  Better connecting States like mine--West Virginia--through improved 
broadband has become one of my top priorities. Without this, our rural 
areas risk being left behind. The digital divide exists in this 
country, and rural Americans are the ones who are on the wrong side of 
the divide. Small communities and businesses across West Virginia and 
elsewhere in rural America lack this fundamental infrastructure.
  No one understands these issues more than Ajit Pai. Chairman Pai grew 
up in rural Kansas. He told me that sometimes when he goes home to 
visit his parents, he cannot get connected in his own hometown. He 
knows the challenges facing rural communities.

[[Page S6245]]

  I have had the pleasure of hosting Chairman Pai and his staff 
multiple times in West Virginia. Most recently, Chairman Pai came to 
Wardensville in Hardy County, WV, where we have good connectivity and 
where we have actually been able to create new businesses and 
opportunities for a small town such as Wardensville. Following our 
visit, we traveled just 20, 30 miles over to Hampshire County, where 
getting high-speed internet has been far more challenging. There, 
Chairman Pai met Eric Hott of Kirby, WV, who has a small chocolate 
business. Eric is having trouble following up with orders and 
attracting new customers because he can't get consistent broadband 
access.
  Last August, I held a roundtable discussion with Chairman Pai in 
Fayette County, WV, focusing on the digital divide and the impacts on 
tourism. We visited Adventures on the Gorge. I even convinced him to 
join me on a bridge walk across the beautiful New River Gorge. This 
outdoor recreation destination is one of West Virginia's most beautiful 
and premier tourist destinations, but the small businesses there are 
hampered by the lack of connectivity.
  We heard firsthand from business owners who can't grow their business 
because of poor internet connectivity. It is hard to attract a talented 
workforce to live and visit in these more rural parts of our States. A 
local restaurant owner shared their difficulty in notifying customers 
of available tables through their online system. They lost business 
because of this.
  During each of the Chairman's visits, we discussed possible solutions 
to promote greater access and competition. Chairman Pai is a great 
listener. He listens to what the issues are, and those include reducing 
barriers to investment, streamlining the regulatory environment, 
encouraging public-private partnerships, and ensuring accountability on 
behalf of the taxpayer.
  Following his tour across the country, during which he stopped in 
West Virginia, Chairman Pai proposed a digital empowerment agenda right 
down the alley of the issues we just talked about--to grant Americans 
living in communities of all sizes, from urban cores to smaller, rural 
towns, with these online opportunities. Chairman Pai's agenda 
highlighted a variety of specific measures the FCC, Congress, and State 
and local governments could make to simplify broadband deployment.
  Broadband access will be the result of partnerships between private, 
local, State, and Federal agencies and organizations. We need to have 
this collaboration to eliminate duplicative and outdated programs so 
that States like mine can efficiently deliver broadband to our rural 
communities efficiently and cost-effectively.
  By listening to communities like ours--and remember, I said Chairman 
Pai is a great listener--the Chairman has built a plan for achieving 
widespread broadband access that meets the unique demands of our rural 
communities.
  The FCC plays an imperative role in addressing these issues in large 
and small States, particularly rural States like mine.
  In the 21st-century economy, robust telecommunication networks are 
increasingly important for today's users and the foundation of future 
innovations.
  Under his leadership at the FCC, he has already taken steps toward 
modernizing the Commission's role and promoting digital empowerment. 
Since the beginning of his tenure, the Commission has hit the ground 
running, enacting a broad strategic vision to close the digital divide, 
to modernize the Commission's rules, promote innovation, protect 
consumer and public safety, and improve the Commission's daily 
operations.
  Under Chairman Pai's leadership, the Commission has made significant 
investments to deliver broadband service to underserved and unserved 
areas of the country. I am confident that rural America will see more 
progress with his continued leadership, and today I am very proud to 
support his renomination to the FCC as he ascends and retakes the 
chairmanship of a very important part of our communications and 
telecommunications network.
  With that, I yield back.
  Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. WARREN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                        Las Vegas Mass Shooting

  Ms. WARREN. Madam President, I wish to begin by offering my 
condolences to the victims of the massacre in Las Vegas last night and 
to their loved ones. I am heartsick for the residents of Las Vegas and 
everyone around the country who woke up to the horrendous news of last 
night's attack and who is worried sick about whether their family 
members, friends, and neighbors are OK.
  Thoughts and prayers are good, but they are simply not enough. 
Thoughts and prayers are not enough when more moms and dads will bury 
their children this week. Thoughts and prayers are not enough when sons 
and daughters will be forced to grow up without their parents.
  Attacks like the one last night have happened all too often in 
America. Enough is enough. We have to have a conversation about how to 
stop gun violence in America, and we need to have that conversation 
right now.
  Madam President, I want to take some time to discuss the vote we will 
be taking shortly on the nomination of Ajit Pai to serve as the Chair 
of the Federal Communications Commission, or the FCC.
  One thing that last night showed us is the importance of connections. 
Every day, moms and dads pick up their phones to check in on their 
kids, students go online to do research on homework assignments, and 
families sit together to watch the newest hit television show or movie. 
It is just a fact--media and telecommunications services play a vital 
role in helping American households connect with their loved ones, 
communities, and the world around them.
  The FCC makes sure those services are available and accessible to all 
Americans, whether they live in a rural community or in a large city--
at least that is what the FCC is supposed to do. There are a lot of 
powerful companies that want to change that picture, companies that 
want to change the rules so they can line the pockets of their 
corporate executives and their wealthy investors. Those powerful 
companies have launched an all-out assault on every branch of our 
government with only one goal: to make sure the government works for 
them and for their buddies. If it leaves everyone else in the dirt, 
they don't much care.
  As powerful companies know, it is good to have friends on the inside, 
and they have invested a lot of money in making friends. Giant 
corporations have spent unlimited amounts of money to elect politicians 
who will promote their views and to flood Congress with lobbyists who 
will work around the clock to destroy laws and rules that the industry 
doesn't like and to reshape those laws to suit corporate interests. But 
electing politicians and inflating Congress with lobbyists isn't 
enough. Their Republican buddies in Congress can only do so much. 
Powerful corporations need weak agencies that will not hold them 
accountable, so they work to fill those agencies with their allies--
friends who can undo the rules that giant corporations don't like, 
friends who will not go after those companies when they throw the rules 
out the window to make an extra buck.

  The FCC is one of the agencies that have been on their hit list for a 
long time, and now they see their opportunity to execute a corporate 
takeover of the FCC. They started at the top with Ajit Pai, President 
Trump's pick to chair the FCC.
  Since his appointment as Chair of the FCC, Chairman Pai has worked at 
breakneck speed to transform the FCC from an agency that works in the 
public interest to a big business support group.
  Chairman Pai started with net neutrality protections--rules that help 
keep the internet free and open by preventing giant broadband companies 
from discriminating against certain internet users and turning the 
internet into another service that caters to those who can pay top 
dollar. Like his big broadband buddies, Chairman Pai

[[Page S6246]]

opposes net neutrality. Once President Trump was elected, Chairman Pai 
declared that the days of net neutrality protections were numbered, and 
now he is working hard to reverse those rules.
  Chairman Pai has more items on his agenda. He is working to weaken 
the FCC's Lifeline Program, which helps low-income households across 
the country pay for phone and broadband service. Chairman Pai has also 
halted the FCC's efforts to demand some accountability from private 
prison phone companies that charge sky-high rates to prisoners and 
their loved ones. Chairman Pai thinks it is just fine for private 
companies to make it harder for prisoners to stay connected to their 
families and their communities by charging exorbitant phone fees.
  Chairman Pai defends killing these strong, public-centered rules by 
repeating a version of the same old, tired refrain that we have heard 
over and over from industry: Government should stay out of the way and 
let big corporations do as they please because when big corporations 
make lots of profits, that benefits everyone. Yeah, right. That worn-
out theory has been disproved time and time again. Americans know that 
when government is asleep at the wheel and big companies get to make 
the rules, those giant companies make out like bandits, while everyone 
else gets stuck with the bill.
  That is not all. When government doesn't do its job, when it fails to 
protect the public interest, the big guys can grow even larger and more 
powerful and can translate greater economic power into greater 
political power, and that is where it gets very scary. Just look at 
Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair is the largest television station 
owner in America, and it has made a name for itself by aggressively 
promoting ultraconservative views. It is infamous for forcing its 
stations to regularly run rightwing segments, and it melds its radical 
ideology with a take-no-prisoners profit-making mission, finding more 
and more creative ways to reduce news coverage and instead promote its 
sponsors' products.
  Being the biggest isn't enough for Sinclair--it wants to become even 
more powerful, so it has put in a bid to purchase Tribune Broadcasting, 
another large television station owner. If government regulatories 
don't stop the merger, Sinclair would have access to over 70 percent of 
American households. If the alarm bells haven't already gone off, this 
is where they should start ringing like crazy.
  During the Presidential campaign, Sinclair was a huge supporter of 
then-Candidate Trump. It used its power in local television markets to 
spread slanted, pro-Trump news stories. Jared Kushner, President 
Trump's son-in-law, even bragged about reaching a deal with Sinclair to 
get more positive news media coverage of Trump.
  The day before Trump's inauguration, Sinclair's chairman met with 
Pai--who was then an FCC Commissioner but who was expected to be 
promoted to Chairman--he met with him to urge him to change the rules 
so Sinclair can grow even more powerful. When President Trump nominated 
Pai to chair the FCC, Sinclair got exactly what it wanted: Chairman Pai 
immediately got to work changing the rules so it would be easier for 
Sinclair to acquire Tribune.
  Local media is sacred to many Americans. It is where we catch up on 
what is happening in our communities from people who know and care 
about our communities. A merger between Sinclair and Tribune would 
allow Sinclair to change that dynamic. With more local programming 
coming from a centralized source, there would be less information and 
less diversity of ideas in local reporting. That kind of concentrated 
power is bad for competition, and it is worse for democracy. Whether 
the Sinclair agenda is on the political right or the political left, no 
single, centralized corporation should control access to local 
programming for so many households.
  We need a strong Chair at the FCC, a Chair who understands that the 
government's role is to work for American families and to hold giant 
corporations accountable. We do not need a Chair at the FCC who is 
working for the most powerful communications corporations in this 
country. That is why I will vote no on the nomination of Chairman Pai 
to be Chairman of the FCC.
  Thank you, Madam President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.


             Tribute to Lyle E. Strom and William J. Riley

  Mrs. FISCHER. Madam President, I rise today to recognize two 
Nebraskans who are retiring after long careers of service to the 
American people: the Honorable Lyle E. Strom and the Honorable William 
J. Riley. Both of these judges have spent years upholding the rule of 
law, and their professionalism has established a strong reputation for 
their respective courts. They are true role models for current and 
aspiring lawyers and judges, and their exceptional work should be 
acknowledged.
  Lyle Elmer Strom was born on January 6, 1925, in Omaha, NE. His 
mother was a schoolteacher. His father worked as an oil trader. Judge 
Strom has said that he didn't much care for school while he was growing 
up. Instead, he found himself causing more trouble than good, 
especially when he played football on top of the nearby grain silo with 
some friends.
  In 1943, after being rejected by the Navy because of weak eyesight, 
Strom enlisted in the Merchant Marines as a radio signal operator. 
During his time in the Naval Reserve, he was inspired to become a 
lawyer after being impressed by his fellow Merchant Marines who had 
obtained college and professional degrees.
  After serving his country in the military, Strom graduated from 
Creighton University with a B.A. in 1950. That same year, he married 
the love of his life, his wife Regina. Together, they had seven 
children. In 1953, Strom graduated from Creighton University's School 
of Law, finishing at the top of his class. He soon joined the 
prestigious firm of Fitzgerald, Schorr, Barmettler, & Brennan.
  Strom started his career believing he would be a business type of 
lawyer. Shortly after joining the firm, however, Bob Hamer brought 
Strom into his litigation group because he was smart and a hard-working 
professional. By 1958, Strom led the litigation practice for the firm.
  Over his years of private practice, Lyle Strom became a well-known, 
well-liked litigator in Nebraska, especially in Omaha. In 1985, after 
32 years of law practice and with encouragement from Congressman Hal 
Daub, President Ronald Reagan appointed Strom to the U.S. District 
Court for the District of Nebraska. He served as chief judge of the 
court from 1987 until 1994 and in 1995 took senior status, allowing him 
the ability to continue sitting as a judge on cases over the past 22 
years.
  Judge Strom has always been dedicated to the craft of practicing law. 
He served as the president of the Omaha Bar Association from 1980 to 
1981 and as president of the Nebraska State Bar Association from 1989 
to 1990.
  One of his biggest joys has come in the form of mentoring aspiring 
lawyers and young people--something he has done throughout his career. 
In his first decade as a lawyer, he worked as a professor at Creighton 
University. In his fifth, after becoming a Federal judge with a full 
caseload, Judge Strom served as the Creighton Law School internship 
program director and clinical professor of law.
  Strom has also dedicated decades of service to the Boy Scouts of 
America and was the founder of the Inns of Court organization in 
Nebraska and has been closely involved with the Nebraska Mock Trial 
Program.
  During his 64 years of practice, Judge Strom has been a model for 
dedication to the rule of law. His hard work and mentoring to both 
aspiring lawyers and young people across Omaha have made him a staple 
in our communities.
  He has also had an eye for talent. In 1973, while still working as a 
litigation lawyer, Strom hired a new lawyer to the firm--William J. 
Riley. This began a great professional relationship between two of the 
top lawyers in Nebraska.
  Born in Lincoln in 1947, Bill Riley obtained both his B.A. and his 
juris doctorate from the University of Nebraska, graduating from the 
law school in 1972. While in school, Riley served as the editor and 
chief of the Nebraska Law Review, and he graduated at the top of his 
class.
  From 1972 to 1973, Riley clerked for the Honorable Donald P. Lay with 
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, a court he would 
later serve on 30 years later.

[[Page S6247]]

  It was Judge Lay who told Riley that the best tutelage he could 
receive as a trial attorney would be at the firm of Fitzgerald, Schorr, 
Barmettler, & Brennan, the firm where a legendary attorney, Lyle Strom, 
had led the Litigation Department since 1958. It was great advice. 
After Strom became a judge, it was Riley who took his place as chair of 
the firm's litigation department.
  In 2001, Riley's professionalism caught the eye of both Nebraska 
Senators and the President of the United States, George W. Bush. The 
new President nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth 
Circuit. Riley was confirmed unanimously in September of 2001, becoming 
one of President Bush's first circuit court appointments. He became 
chief judge for the Eighth Circuit in 2010.
  During his tenure, Riley was intimately involved in the governance 
and policy-setting for the entire U.S. Federal court system. He served 
on the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United 
States, an organization presided over by the Chief Justice of the 
Supreme Court.
  Riley also served as strategic planning coordinator for the Judicial 
Conference, helping enact greater cyber security measures throughout 
the Federal court system.
  Judge Riley has served our country well over the last 16 years, and 
on June 30, 2017, after 45 years of practicing law, Judge Riley took 
senior status on the Eighth Circuit. He said that now he is going to 
have time to relax with his wife Norma, their three children, and their 
nine grandchildren.
  Riley has served his local legal community by teaching trial practice 
at both Creighton University School of Law and the University of 
Nebraska College of Law. He is a decorated Boy Scout leader and served 
as a founding member of the Robert M. Spire American Inn of Court legal 
mentoring program.
  Before his appointment to the court, Riley served as president of the 
Omaha Bar Association from 2000 to 2001.
  Both of these judges deserve our respect for how they approach the 
justice system and the law. Both are role models that I hope future 
lawyers and judges follow. Their careers should be applauded and their 
commitment to our community should be honored. I wish them the best in 
their retirement.


                        Las Vegas Mass Shooting

  Madam President, now, if I may, I would like to express my sympathies 
and the sympathies of the people of Nebraska for those who have lost 
loved ones in Las Vegas. Our hearts are heavy. I am praying for them 
and for those who were injured and for their families as well.
  Thank you, Madam 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.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Madam President, I come to the floor today to speak 
about the vote we will have at 5:30 p.m., but I want to give my 
condolences to those who have been impacted by the horrific shooting in 
Las Vegas and to the families and the victims of this horrible 
incident. I want them to know that our thoughts and prayers are with 
them as the whole Nation turns to this situation.
  My thoughts and prayers also go out to at least one Washington family 
who was impacted and was at this event. We may find out that there are 
others. We are thinking and praying deeply for their recovery, and I 
hope everybody will take the time to say some thoughts and prayers for 
those who have been impacted by this incident.
  Madam President, I come to the floor to speak in opposition to the 
nomination of Ajit Pai to have a second term as the Chairman of the 
FCC. The reason why we are speaking about this vote that will happen in 
a short period of time is because we are concerned about the future of 
innovation, the future of where consumers play in the decision making 
of how they access content, and the future of our economy.
  What I am worried about is that, in the short period of time that 
Chairman Pai has been at the FCC, instead of the policies that would 
have enabled consumers, he has taken actions that, I think, will have 
consumers paying more for less access and with which media 
concentration will be more enabled and plans to protect net neutrality 
in an open internet will be reversed.
  This, in and of itself, is the biggest issue that I and the economy 
of Washington State could possibly see with this renomination; that is 
to say, the State of Washington and the internet and innovation that 
exists there could be greatly impacted by the rolling back of 
protections that we have now, which say that you cannot artificially 
throttle or slow down internet activity and hold consumers hostage to 
paying more.
  The mission of the FCC is to promote the use and deployment of 
communications in the public interest, and it is the job of the 
Chairman to make sure that mission is carried out. Undoing the existing 
net neutrality laws on the books, I do not think, is in the public 
interest, and it will not promote the access we need. Dismantling this 
rule that would preserve the diversity of content will negatively 
impact our marketplace for a long time.
  When we think about some of the issues that we have already seen and 
what we could see in the future, more consumers will have to pay a toll 
to use the internet. What we will see is that, if you want to get in 
the fast lane or if you want to have rapid access, you have to pay 
more.
  Today consumers are using mobile apps to preorder coffee, to get 
access to healthcare information, and to make sure that we protect 
ourselves from attacks on everything, from our electricity grid to 
people's homes and security systems. I am very worried that, if the 
internet's arteries are officially slowed down or clogged, critical 
information could arrive too late to help protect consumers.
  We are living in a world where people are seeing things happen then 
using their smart phones to collect and share information that can keep 
all of us safe. So this is another reason why we want to make sure that 
consumers can get access to and share information and are not slowed 
down or throttled in any way.
  When we think about this and the app economy that exists in 
Washington State, these are the fastest growing businesses. It is part 
of a large organization, where, today, 1.7 million Americans' jobs are 
because of these apps, and nearly 92,000 of them are in the State of 
Washington. They have grown at an annual rate of 30 percent. The 
average growth rate for all other jobs is 1.6 percent. Why would we 
confirm someone who has already pledged to roll back the rules of an 
open internet, which basically will create throttling and slowing down 
of content that will hurt the app economy and small businesses?
  Nobody wants to develop a new application that connects consumers--
whether it is in healthcare or protecting people in cyber or education 
or, for that matter, even the Senate--if they are going to have to pay 
a toll to get faster access to information or to get faster access to 
their customers.
  Dismantling net neutrality puts our economy in jeopardy. While I know 
some would say that it is necessary for investment, I would say that 
instead what we have seen in the last several years, while the open 
internet rules have been in place, is the type of increased investment 
in the internet infrastructure that is needed to support its growing 
importance.
  I do not agree with my colleagues who think this reversing the open 
internet rules is necessary to grow our investments. That's just what 
the large cable companies tell you they need so that they can build 
fast and slow lanes and charge consumers more if they want access to 
those fast lanes.
  I encourage my colleagues to vote no on Ajit Pai for a second term as 
FCC Commissioner. Let's get focused on making sure we protect an open 
internet.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Moran). The Senator from Massachusetts.


                        Las Vegas Mass Shooting

  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, I wish to start my remarks with my deepest 
condolences and prayers for the people of Las Vegas and for the 
families and loved ones of the victims of the worst

[[Page S6248]]

mass shooting in our Nation's history. The Nation's heart breaks that 
innocent concertgoers had to suffer such senseless violence. May you 
find the strength and love to overcome your grief, to heal, and to move 
forward.
  We owe our gratitude to the brave first responders for their efforts 
last night and to the medical professionals who are working tirelessly 
to heal wounds and save lives right now. But enough is enough. 
Americans are tired of living in fear that their community will be the 
next Newtown, Aurora, Orlando, or Las Vegas. We must act so that we do 
not become numb to this preventable carnage.
  This epidemic of gun violence in our country is not preordained. It 
is preventable. We can begin by banning these military-style assault 
weapons, like the AR-51, which are the guns of choice for those who 
seek to inflict mass casualties on civilians. These are weapons that 
belong in combat, not in our communities.
  Unfortunately, the gun lobby prevailed on Congress to let the assault 
weapons ban expire in 2004, but we need it now more than ever. We must 
also pass legislation to ensure that all gun purchases include a 
background check. Ninety-two percent of Americans support expanded 
background checks. No one should be able to purchase a gun through 
Facebook or Instagram without a background check. Instagram should not 
be ``Instagun,'' which it is in America today.
  Let's also close the gun-show loophole that allows anyone to go into 
one of these Kmarts full of killing machines and buy a gun without a 
background check. Let's close the loophole that allows domestic abusers 
to buy guns. Let's close the loophole that allows straw purchasers to 
buy guns and flood our streets with them. Let's repeal the Protection 
of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or the PLCAA, and take away the gun 
manufacturers' immunity from civil liability. PLCAA should stand for 
``protecting lives, creating arms accountability.''
  We must also recognize that this epidemic of gun violence is a public 
health emergency, and we must treat it that way. We must fully fund 
this critical research agenda at the Centers for Disease Control and 
give the CDC the resources it needs.
  We will hear lots of people say that now is not the time to 
politicize this tragedy, that talking about legislation is insensitive 
and wrong. The only thing the NRA wants more than to sell lots of gun 
silencers is to put a silencer on the debate about gun safety 
legislation. The only thing the NRA wants more than allowing nationwide 
concealed carry laws is to conceal the overwhelming support for 
background checks. The only thing the NRA wants more than to stifle 
smart gun technology is to stifle debate on gun violence protection.
  So to anyone who says having this debate now is too soon, it is 
already too late for at least 58 people in Las Vegas and the hundreds 
of others who were wounded. We should not wait another day. We need to 
pass commonsense gun safety legislation so we can hold a moment of 
silence for the NRA's stranglehold on American politics. We must make 
``NRA'' stand for ``not relevant anymore'' in American politics and in 
our country. That should be our agenda here on the floor of the Senate.
  What is wrong is leaving Americans in our communities unprotected yet 
again from gun violence. What is wrong is not having a debate and 
allowing the NRA to block sensible gun safety legislation. We must act 
so that we do not become numb to the preventable carnage for the people 
of Las Vegas and the people of Newtown, Aurora, San Bernardino, and 
every community in our country. That should be our responsibility now 
in this country.

  Mr. President, I wish to turn my attention to the confirmation of FCC 
Chairman Ajit Pai, the subject of today's vote on the Senate floor.
  Last week, I took to the floor to explain how, in his short tenure as 
Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai has stood 
up for big corporations and ignored American consumers.
  Under Ajit Pai, the FCC now stands for ``forgetting consumers and 
competition.'' Here are the five reasons I gave.
  No. 1, on net neutrality, I explained how Ajit Pai wants to take a 
``weed whacker''--his words--to net neutrality, allowing broadband 
providers to serve as internet gatekeepers and pick online winners and 
losers.
  No. 2, on privacy, Chairman Pai has actively supported efforts to 
allow broadband providers to sell consumers' sensitive information 
without their consent, as well as eliminating requirements for those 
companies to put in place data security protections, despite the 
obvious need to protect personal information.
  No. 3, on megamergers, Mr. Pai has paved the way for massive mergers, 
which will squeeze out independent programmers and lead to higher 
prices for consumers.
  No. 4, on the E-rate, the education rate, Chairman Pai has refused to 
commit to protecting the E-rate, the most successful educational 
technology program in our country's history, which links up schools and 
libraries to the internet.
  No. 5, on the Lifeline Program, Mr. Pai has undercut the Lifeline 
Program, which provides access to voice and internet service for 
millions of low-income Americans.
  The case against Chairman Pai's nomination is clear. I want to spend 
a few more minutes today on the particularly critical issue of net 
neutrality, the chief governing principle of the internet.
  Net neutrality ensures that all internet traffic is treated equally, 
requiring that internet service providers like AT&T, Charter, Verizon, 
and Comcast do not block, slow down, sensor, or prioritize internet 
traffic.
  Today, essentially every company is an internet company. Every 
company has to deal with the digital revolution to be relevant in the 
21st century. In 2016, almost half of the venture capital funds 
invested in this country went toward internet-specific and software 
companies. That is $25 billion worth of investment--half of all venture 
capital in this country. That is good.
  To meet America's insatiable demand for broadband internet, the U.S. 
broadband and telecommunications industry--the big companies--invested 
more than $87 billion in capital expenditures in 2015. That is the 
highest rate of annual investment in the last 10 years. That is good.
  We have hit the sweet spot. Investment in broadband and wireless 
technologies is very high. Job creation is very high. Venture capital 
investment in online startups is very high. With net neutrality rules 
in place, the best ideas, not merely the best funded ideas, can thrive 
in the 21st century.
  Chairman Pai says he ``likes'' net neutrality, but then he says he 
wants to take an ax to the very order that established today's net 
neutrality rules. That is like saying you value democracy but don't 
really like the Constitution. It makes no sense. Net neutrality is the 
organizing principle of the internet.
  Chairman Pai and the ISPs--that is, internet service providers, the 
big companies--keep walking around, whispering how title II is some 
terrible word, some terrible thing.
  Let's understand how we landed here. What is title II? It gets very 
mysterious until you put it into very simple language. In 2010, the 
Federal Communications Commission attempted to put net neutrality rules 
in place without reclassifying broadband under title II of the 
Communications Act. The District of Columbia Circuit Court proceeded to 
invalidate those rules and said to the Federal Communications 
Commission: Here is how you can do it, and it will not be struck down. 
Here is a smart way for you to put net neutrality on the books, which 
will make it legal.
  So the Federal Communications Commission, in correctly reading the 
court decision, went back, and in 2015 adopted the open internet order, 
which reclassified broadband as a telecommunications service under 
title II--under this ability to regulate. They did it, and the circuit 
court of appeals upheld the rules in a 2016 decision.
  There it is: instructed by the court how to do it, follow the 
instructions, implement, done. It is now baked into the personality of 
the internet to have openness. The apertures are there for anyone to be 
able to get on, not to be discriminated against. That is what the 
internet should be like in the 21st century.
  Title II is appropriate because it was Congress's intent to preserve 
the FCC's

[[Page S6249]]

authority to forestall threats to competition and innovation in 
telecommunications services, even as those technologies used to offer 
those services evolve over time.
  We are not locked into one period of technology. As it evolves, so, 
too, does an evolution occur in terms of what openness means--the 
ability of everyone to be able to use the internet without being 
discriminated against.
  Broadband has become the single most important telecommunications 
service Americans use to transmit information to one another, and it 
has become clear that innovators, businesses, and consumers 
overwhelmingly view broadband as a telecommunications service.
  This is common sense to Americans around the country, with the only 
exception being big telecommunications lobbyists and lawyers who work 
to close this internet, who want to stop this incredible, 
entrepreneurial, democracy-enhancing set of rules that exists to ensure 
that this communications mechanism is not controlled by just a small 
number of companies.
  Ajit Pai has said that he likes net neutrality, but he thinks it 
should be voluntary. But voluntary regulations will not work. We know 
that the broadband industry--your cable, your wireless, your 
telecommunications provider--cannot regulate themselves. They struggle 
to even show up on time to install or fix your service.
  Do we really trust the broadband industry to resist leveraging their 
internet gatekeeper role and putting their online competitors at an 
unfair disadvantage? Of course not.
  Americans have made their voices heard about net neutrality. More 
than 22 million Americans have written to the Federal Communications 
Commission in the past several months, sending a clear message of 
support for net neutrality. Hear that again: 22 million Americans sent 
a message to the Federal Communications Commission that they do not 
want to see a change in the net neutrality rules for our country. Yet 
Ajit Pai will not listen. His plan will allow broadband providers to 
stifle innovation, stifle entrepreneurship. His plan will allow big 
broadband barons to crush competition, reduce choice, and then make 
consumers pay more.
  We cannot allow this to happen. That is why this vote we are about to 
take is so important. That is why I urge my colleagues to stand up for 
consumers and to vote no on Ajit Pai's nomination to be the Chairman of 
the Federal Communications Commission.
  I yield back the remainder of my time.
  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. THUNE. 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. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I be able to 
complete my remarks prior to the vote.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I rise to voice my strong support for the 
nomination of Ajit Pai to a second 5-year term as a Commissioner at the 
Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Pai has served as a Commissioner 
at the FCC since 2012, when he was first confirmed by a voice vote in 
the Senate. He was designated as Chairman earlier this year.
  A native of Kansas, Chairman Pai has focused on the expansion of 
rural broadband and the acceleration of next-generation infrastructure 
deployment. In recent weeks, he has worked tirelessly to help ensure 
that communications services are restored to the communities that have 
been affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. In just his 9 
months since becoming Chairman, Mr. Pai has also made much needed 
reforms to improve transparency at the FCC and to improve the agency's 
processes.
  I am particularly heartened by Chairman Pai's efforts to treat his 
fellow Commissioners fairly by instituting the process of sharing 
documents with other Commissioners before discussing them publicly. 
Additionally, under Chairman Pai's leadership, the public is now able 
to view the text of all agenda items in advance of Commission hearings.
  With respect to the thorny issue of internet regulations, I am 
pleased Chairman Pai has sought to hit the reset button on the 2015 
title II order because, as I had previously said, the FCC should do 
what is necessary to rebalance its regulatory posture under current 
law. At the same time, I continue to believe the best way to provide 
long-term protections for the internet is for Congress to pass 
bipartisan legislation.
  Rather than prolonging the back-and-forth debate on this issue, I, 
once again, invite my colleagues to work with me to find a lasting 
legislative solution that will resolve the dispute over net neutrality 
once and for all.
  As for the nomination before us, I can think of no better pick to 
lead the FCC as it works to address a host of issues at the heart of 
our interconnected economy. As I noted at the outset, Chairman Pai has 
already made much needed reforms to improve the processes at the FCC 
that empower fellow Commissioners. He has already shown a commitment to 
ensuring transparency and openness at the Commission. That gives me 
great confidence in the direction he will lead the agency.
  Chairman Pai's approach, I believe, will lead to more long-lasting 
and positive results at the FCC. That is why I believe the elevation of 
Ajit Pai to be the Chairman of the Commission is a much needed breath 
of fresh air and why I believe he should be confirmed promptly and 
without further delay. I urge my colleagues to support his nomination.
  Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  All time has expired.
  The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Pai 
nomination?
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Mississippi (Mr. Cochran), the Senator from Nevada (Mr. 
Heller), the Senator from Arizona (Mr. McCain), and the Senator from 
Pennsylvania (Mr. Toomey).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Nevada (Ms. Cortez 
Masto), the Senator from New Jersey (Mr. Menendez), and the Senator 
from Vermont (Mr. Sanders), are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lankford). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 52, nays 41, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 209 Ex.]

                                YEAS--52

     Alexander
     Barrasso
     Blunt
     Boozman
     Burr
     Capito
     Cassidy
     Collins
     Corker
     Cornyn
     Cotton
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Daines
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Fischer
     Flake
     Gardner
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hatch
     Hoeven
     Inhofe
     Isakson
     Johnson
     Kennedy
     Lankford
     Lee
     Manchin
     McCaskill
     McConnell
     Moran
     Murkowski
     Paul
     Perdue
     Peters
     Portman
     Risch
     Roberts
     Rounds
     Rubio
     Sasse
     Scott
     Shelby
     Strange
     Sullivan
     Tester
     Thune
     Tillis
     Wicker
     Young

                                NAYS--41

     Baldwin
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Booker
     Brown
     Cantwell
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Coons
     Donnelly
     Duckworth
     Durbin
     Feinstein
     Franken
     Gillibrand
     Harris
     Hassan
     Heinrich
     Heitkamp
     Hirono
     Kaine
     King
     Klobuchar
     Leahy
     Markey
     Merkley
     Murphy
     Murray
     Nelson
     Reed
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Shaheen
     Stabenow
     Udall
     Van Hollen
     Warner
     Warren
     Whitehouse
     Wyden

                             NOT VOTING--7

     Cochran
     Cortez Masto
     Heller
     McCain
     Menendez
     Sanders
     Toomey
  The nomination was confirmed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motion to 
reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the President 
will be immediately notified of the Senate's action.
  The Senator from Arizona.

[[Page S6250]]

  

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