(Senate - October 03, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 158 (Tuesday, October 3, 2017)]
[Pages S6273-S6283]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                     EXECUTIVE CALENDAR--Continued

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.

                        Las Vegas Mass Shooting

  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, a tragedy took place in Las Vegas this 
week. It is a tragedy that has affected hundreds of families. It is a 
tragedy in which each and every one of us sends our prayers to those 
who have lost loved ones. And to those who have family members who are 
now hospitalized, we send our prayers to you as well, with the great 
hope that a full recovery is in their future.

[[Page S6274]]

  This was an unimaginable event that occurred in our country. It is 
now time for us to talk about this issue. There are many people who say 
this is not the time to talk about it, but the truth is, the only thing 
the National Rifle Association 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 prevention.
  So to anyone who says having this debate now is too soon, it is 
already too late for at least 59 people in Las Vegas and hundreds of 
others who were wounded. We should not wait another day.
  We need to pass commonsense gun safety legislation so that we can 
hold a moment of silence for the National Rifle Association's 
stranglehold on American politics. That is what must end in our 
  We need a debate on this floor on background checks. We need a debate 
in this Chamber on whether we are going to do research on the 
relationship between guns and violence in our society. We don't need to 
debate the issue of bringing silencers into our society that can be 
attached to guns and that would have made it infinitely more difficult 
for the police to find where the shooter was or for people to know that 
they needed to hide or move to a more secure location. That would not 
have happened. We would not have had 59 deaths; we could have had 259 
deaths, 559 deaths, or 959 deaths because a silencer would have given 
less notice to all of those people that they should be moving and 
hiding and protecting themselves and their loved ones.
  On concealed carry, the Republicans are moving a bill that allows for 
someone to conceal a gun under a law in one State--because that State 
allows you to conceal a gun, you would be able to move into any other 
State and continue to conceal a gun even though that State's laws 
prohibit concealing guns. They want that law to move through.
  So when the Republicans talk about debating gun control, what they 
are talking about is lessening the safety around these guns, lowering 
the standards that would protect people, and allowing for silencers to 
now be proliferating on these assault weapons, these weapons of war 
that should not be on the streets of our country and that have the 
capacity to kill people without people hearing them.
  They say they are needed because we need to protect people's hearing 
when they are firing assault weapons. Well, it is more important that 
the police hear the bullets and that the people who might be hit hear 
the sound of those bullets as they are leaving the gun. That is going 
to provide far more protection. It is far more important that the 
police in a State or in a city know that someone has a concealed 
weapon. It is critically important for police protection. But the 
National Rifle Association does not want those kinds of protections to 
remain on the books. That is who they are. That is what they want.
  What should we be debating? We should be debating background checks. 
We should be debating whether someone should be able to buy a gun on 
Instagram and turn it into an ``insta-gun'' without background checks. 
That is what we should be talking about out here.
  Over 90 percent of Americans want stronger background checks. Yet the 
Republican leadership turns a deaf ear to the request of the American 
people because the National Rifle Association does not want there to be 
background checks on people who are buying guns in our country.
  More Americans have died from gun violence in the past 50 years on 
the streets of America than have died in all of our Nation's wars 
overseas in our entire history. Let me say that again. More people have 
died from guns in our own country in the last 50 years than all of our 
soldiers, sailors, Air Force, and marines have died going all the way 
back to 1776. That is how much of an epidemic this is in our country. 
It is an epidemic that now kills 33,000 people every single year in our 
country, but the Federal Government's investment in researching gun 
violence is zero.
  Diabetes--76,000 U.S. deaths annually; they get $170 million at the 
Centers for Disease Control. Flu--57,000 deaths a year; they get $187 
million for research. Asthma--3,600 deaths a year; they get $29 million 
for research at the Centers for Disease Control. Gun violence--zero. An 
epidemic is ravaging our country, and the Republicans will not fund 
research to find this link between violence and the use of guns in our 
society, to do the research that can help us to reduce this carnage on 
the streets of our country. And because of an appropriations rider from 
the 1990s, the Centers for Disease Control hasn't conducted research 
into the causes of gun violence and how to prevent it. If 20 young 
children in Newtown had died of Ebola, we would have invested funding 
to study it. If 59 people in Las Vegas died of Zika, would we study it? 
Absolutely. But our country is suffering from an illness, and we have 
let it spread because we refuse to write a treatment plan.
  The American Medical Association supports ending the ban on research. 
The American Public Health Association supports ending the ban on 
research. More than 141 groups want to end this ban on researching the 
link between guns and violence in our society.
  The bill I have introduced with Representative Maloney gives $10 
million to the Centers for Disease Control every single year. Shouldn't 
we be studying how to stop people from firing guns and give the 
medical, the scientific, and the public health community the resources 
they need?
  We also need to develop new smart gun technologies that would improve 
safety and reduce accidental shootings. My bill would authorize grants 
to develop and personalize handgun technology to increase efficiency 
and decrease costs. If you can use a fingerprint to operate your 
iPhone, you should be able to do the same thing with your gun to make 
sure that safety is ensured, to make sure it is your thumbprint on that 
gun, that if your gun is stolen or lost, no one else would be able to 
use that gun. Does that make sense? Well, your thumb can work for your 
smartphone. Your thumb could also work for smart gun technology.
  So this is where we are. We are at this critical point where some 
people are saying: Not now. It is inappropriate. We shouldn't be 
raising these issues.
  But what we should be debating is what the American people want us to 
debate. Over 90 percent want background checks on anyone who buys a gun 
in our country to make sure they are qualified, to make sure they do 
not have something in their background that should disqualify them from 
owning a gun in our country.
  Our debate here should really be about one thing: making the NRA 
stand for ``not relevant anymore'' in American politics. The task for 
the Republican Party is different. It will be whether they will kill 
these bills that would legalize more fully silencers being put on 
automatic weapons in our country, kill the concealed carry law, which 
is moving through the House and Senate driven by Republicans, and, 
instead, debate the kinds of things that make our country safer, the 
kinds of things that poll after poll is showing that the American 
people want us to do. That is going to be our challenge in the days and 
weeks and months ahead.
  This is the time; this is the place. We are the people who must be 
conducting this debate to make sure we add an extra measure of safety 
that American families can rely upon.
  I yield back the remainder of my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, my colleague from Massachusetts has 
referred to the tragedy that we all watched unfold late on Sunday 
evening in Las Vegas, NV--the tragedy, the horror, the shock of so 
many. Alaska has felt the brunt of that tragedy as well. We lost two 
Alaskans; at least one other was injured. Mr. Adrian Murfitt from 
Anchorage, a commercial fisherman, lost his life that evening. Dorene 
Anderson, who is a mom and self-described hockey promoter, will not be 
returning to Alaska with her family. Rob McIntosh, who is a realtor

[[Page S6275]]

from the Fairbanks-North Pole area, was also injured. Our prayers are 
with him and with all of the families.
  Whether they are from Alaska or from around the country, the tragedy, 
the loss, is just a shocking emotion that has been brought to this 
Nation. It is really horrifying on so many different levels. I express 
my condolences not only to the families of the Alaskans whom we have 
lost but to all of those who are suffering.

          Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Recovery Effort

  Mr. President, I want to speak on another matter, and that is the 
tragedy related to natural disasters we have seen visited on our 
country, the devastating impacts that Hurricanes Irma and Maria have 
had on the U.S. Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico, the current relief 
efforts that are underway on those islands, and how we might help in 
the long term to rebuild, particularly as it relates to their electric 
grid and their power sector.
  Mr. President, as the Presiding Officer serves on the Energy and 
Natural Resources Committee, I have the honor of being the chairman of 
that Committee, and that is the committee of jurisdiction for our 
  Our committee's history dates back to 1816, when it was then called 
the Committee on Public Lands. The acquisition of Puerto Rico, the 
Philippines, and Guam in 1898, through the Treaty of Paris, led to the 
creation of the Committee on Insular Affairs in 1899. The U.S. Virgin 
Islands were included in that committee's jurisdiction following their 
purchase from Denmark in 1917.
  In 1946, the Committee on Public Lands and the Committee on Insular 
Affairs merged to form the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. 
In 1977, the committees were again reorganized, leading to the current 
structure of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  Our committee has had the proud distinction of working with the 
territories for the last 70-plus years. Certainly, following Hurricanes 
Irma and Maria, we are committed to upholding our responsibilities to 
the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  Perhaps it is because I was born in a territory--I need to actually 
look this up; it may be that I am the only Member of Congress or Member 
in the Senate who was actually born in a territory--but I feel an 
affinity. One would not think there is much connection between a small 
island territory like Puerto Rico and the large landmass that we have 
in Alaska, but in many ways, Alaska is also islanded in the sense that 
we are not part of the continental 48. So I do follow with great 
interest and care how Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are 
  With the current focus almost entirely on Puerto Rico right now, it 
can seem like a distant memory that only 2 weeks ago, before Hurricane 
Maria, we had Hurricane Irma, which hit the islands of St. Thomas and 
St. John as a category 5 hurricane. One category 5 is bad enough, but 
then to have a second category 5 hurricane hit just 2 weeks later, this 
time impacting the island of St. Croix, is almost unfathomable.
  The devastation we have seen in both the Virgin Islands and Puerto 
Rico can seem overwhelming. Relief operations for the islands are 
different from what you have with the mainland. When you recognize how 
you move to accommodate relief, everything has to be brought in by ship 
or by plane. You don't have the convoys of trucks rolling down the 
highway from an adjoining State. You don't have the ability to take 
alternative routes to reach the affected areas. Once goods are 
delivered to ports, for instance, it is another challenge, then, to get 
them from the port for inland distribution.
  Even under normal operating conditions, moving the amount of 
containers that have flooded into the territories would be a challenge, 
but when you add into it the debris, the downed power lines, the 
washed-out bridges and roads, the lack of power, and the driver 
shortages, the challenges become colossal.
  Then you have other limiting factors. You have competition for hotel 
rooms and other lodging as you bring in relief workers to go to the 
islands while refugees who have lost their homes try to leave. Again, 
the logistics are almost overwhelming; it is a logistical nightmare.
  Despite these very considerable hurdles, we do see that progress is 
being made. According to recent reports from the Army Corps of 
Engineers, Federal and local response crews have been working to reopen 
the ports and runways. In some cases, we have seen sunken ships that 
need to be removed before a port can begin operations again.
  In Puerto Rico, 13 of 16 ports are open or open with restrictions. In 
the U.S. Virgin Islands, five of nine ports are open or open with 
  In addition, 15 of 17 priority dams in Puerto Rico have already been 
inspected. In the case of Guajataca Dam, it is in the process of being 
reinforced. The dam's spillway continues to erode. Rainfall has 
increased the water level in the reservoir. We have seen that the 
debris and the downed power lines need to be removed to allow 
helicopters to place 44 concrete barriers within the spillway channel. 
In fact, 900 super sandbags are on their way. Pumps and piping are 
being procured to help decrease the water level. There are a lot of 
hands on deck there.
  For electricity, as of October 1, 5 percent of customers in Puerto 
Rico have had their power restored. The Puerto Rico electric utility 
expects to have power restored to 15 percent of customers over the next 
2 weeks.
  I looked at this aspect of it and recognize that it is still pretty 
warm in Puerto Rico. I checked the weather this afternoon, and it is 87 
degrees. Over the next couple of days, it will be 93 degrees. Making 
sure that folks have power, have an ability to keep fans, to have air 
conditioning--this is critical.
  Assessments show significant damage to the transmission and 
distribution systems, so, again, a great deal of work is yet underway 
  In the Virgin Islands, 15 percent of customers in St. Thomas and 10 
percent of customers in St. Croix have had their power restored. This 
includes the airports and the hospitals.
  On the hospitals, I would note that both the hospitals in the U.S. 
Virgin Islands--one in St. Thomas and one in St. Croix--have sustained 
heavy damage and may need to be replaced. Again, long term, moving 
forward, this is critical infrastructure.
  We do know that in the immediate term, the primary relief that 
Congress can provide is through our appropriations process. We will 
soon be considering another tranche of disaster relief funds so that 
those impacted by these hurricanes have the food, water, and medicine 
they need as recovery efforts continue.
  Other options, such as making the rum tax cover-over payments 
permanent and increasing or lifting the cap on community disaster loans 
may also need to be considered as ways to get the islands back on their 
  Another part of our responsibility, though, is to look at potential 
long-term solutions to persistent problems. In the case of Puerto Rico, 
it is their antiquated electric grid and power generation system.
  I have had many conversations with many colleagues in these past 
couple of weeks. I am concerned that current disaster recovery rules 
may mandate that the damaged or destroyed entity be restored with 
similar material, compared to its condition prior to the disaster. What 
may seem like a good, general rule of thumb in some scenarios, like 
this one--I don't think it makes a lot of sense. Why would we consider 
spending hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild what was an 
inefficient, unreliable electric power grid in Puerto Rico?
  Making sure that we do right going forward is important for us. I am 
going to be meeting with officials with the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers. They have been tasked by FEMA with rebuilding Puerto Rico's 
electricity grid. I am going to meet with the Army Corps and the 
Department of Energy to see if there is a way to modernize Puerto 
Rico's grid during its rebuild, whether by administrative or 
legislative action. I think we need to look at different considerations 
moving forward.
  There has been a discussion about whether it makes more sense to bury 
transmission lines rather than rebuild towers. We need to look at 
microgrids and consider whether they should be developed to provide 
power to communities throughout the island even if the

[[Page S6276]]

islandwide grid is down. This is something our committee has been 
keenly focused on--the application of microgrids and how they might be 
better utilized.
  I would note on this matter that the urban area of Mayaguez is 
currently receiving power from the hydro-gas plant that is located 
within its municipality. It is essentially its own microgrid. But the 
damaged transmission lines prevent electricity from moving to other 
municipalities across the island.
  There are other considerations, including the role that distributed 
generation plays. Can these Federal entities work with the Puerto Rico 
Electric Power Authority, PREPA, to develop a demonstration project for 
the island that would make the grid more efficient, more reliable, 
reduce the cost of electricity to consumers? These are all things that 
need to be considered. We had a hearing in the Energy Committee this 
morning on energy storage technologies, and it was mentioned there that 
regional technology demonstrations might be particularly helpful for 
Puerto Rico at this time.

  I intend to visit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands with other 
Members a few weeks from now. We know President Trump is there today. 
We are going to wait until the situation has stabilized just a bit more 
to allow for these relief efforts to continue. When we have an 
opportunity to observe the situation ourselves, I think it is worth 
noting that we will, on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, be 
holding a hearing on the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on both 
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and I anticipate we will be 
doing that in the coming weeks. We want to look at not only the damage 
caused and where recovery efforts stand but also lessons learned as 
well as opportunities moving forward as to how we can rebuild Puerto 
Rico's electric grid to better than it was before so it does have a 
resiliency and it does have a sustainability that I think is imperative 
moving forward.
  We recognize that the islands have faced a real tragedy in this 
natural disaster, but, from this, can we work quickly to stabilize 
things in the short term but allow this to be an opportunity to think 
about Puerto Rico's long-term energy future--an energy future that is 
more resilient and is more sustainable.
  So our thoughts and prayers are with all who were impacted by these 
incredibly powerful storms as they dig out, as they rebuild, as they 
restart their lives, and just as we will take care of the people of 
Texas and Louisiana and Florida, I want to make sure the people of 
Puerto Rico and the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands know we stand 
united with them during these exceptionally difficult times and that we 
will work with them as partners to make their islands stronger, more 
resilient, and better prepared for whatever the future may bring them.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, I would like to start by thanking Senator 
Murkowski for her leadership as chairman of the Natural Resources 
Committee, on which I also serve, in addressing some of the long-term 
needs of Puerto Rico.


  Mr. President, the American people are relieved that the latest 
version of TrumpCare went down in defeat last week. We won this battle 
because millions of people made their voices heard, but the danger 
remains. We cannot grow complacent.
  The President and his allies in Congress are hoping that in our 
relief, we will move on and pay attention to other things. With this 
President, I have to say, and this administration, there is always a 
fresh outrage to contend with. After his latest failure, the President 
has turned to sabotage and neglect to accomplish his goal of denying 
millions of people access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act.
  The danger is real. The President's continued threats to eliminate 
cost-sharing reduction payments that help reduce out-of-pocket costs 
for consumers under the ACA, for example, are already destabilizing 
health insurance in Hawaii and across the country.
  This year, HMSA and Kaiser--two of Hawaii's largest providers of 
health insurance--proposed large rate increases for customers on the 
exchange in response to the uncertainty posed by the President's 
threats to eliminate the cost-sharing payments. These companies have 
been told to submit two rate proposals, one if cost-sharing remains in 
place and the other if these cost-sharing provisions are eliminated.
  If the President eliminates cost-sharing payments, Hawaii residents 
could see an 8-percent increase in their premiums on the individual 
markets. This translates into millions of dollars more that Hawaii 
residents will need to pay. This is irresponsible, unacceptable, and 
completely within the President's power to prevent.
  Unfortunately, the President isn't the only member of his 
administration intent on sabotaging the Affordable Care Act. The 
Secretary of Health and Human Services resigned in disgrace last week, 
but the work he set in motion at the Department to make it more 
difficult for people to sign up for insurance continues apace.
  The administration has already shortened the open enrollment period 
from 90 days to 45 days and proposed massive cuts for advertising and 
call centers during this shortened window. To make matters worse, they 
are taking healthcare.gov down for so-called maintenance at peak times 
on the weekends so people have even less time to sign up for coverage.
  The sabotage doesn't end there. The administration is also calling 
for a 40-percent cut in funding for navigators who help vulnerable 
communities find and secure coverage. In the past, organizations in 
Hawaii like We Are Oceania and the Legal Aid Society have received 
navigator grants to help enroll low-income Hawaii residents, COFA 
citizens, individuals with disabilities, and other underserved 
communities in programs under the ACA.
  Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Josie Howard, We Are 
Oceania's program director. Josie and her team navigate a multitude of 
language and cultural barriers to help COFA citizens who have been 
unfairly disqualified from Medicaid to enroll in the exchange. 
President Trump's determination to sabotage the ACA undermines the hard 
work Josie and organizations like We Are Oceania are doing to expand 
healthcare access to underserved communities.
  We need to keep fighting back against the President's sabotage 
campaign, but we can also work together in Congress to improve our 
Nation's healthcare system and renew programs that millions of people 
depend on every year in our country.
  On Saturday, Congress allowed funding for the Community Health Center 
Fund--CHCF--to lapse without being renewed. CHCs across the country 
will be forced to lay off staff, reduce hours of operations, scale back 
investments, or even close, denying healthcare coverage or services to 
millions of people in need all across the country.
  Through the ACA, the CHCF provided increased funding for community 
health centers across the country to modernize facilities, hire new 
staff, and expand services in underrepresented communities. If Congress 
does not renew the program, community health centers will face a 70-
percent cut in their Federal funding, and this will have a devastating 
impact for community health centers in Hawaii, like Malama I Ke Ola in 
Wailuku on Maui.
  Thanks to the CHCF funding and the ACA's Medicaid expansion, Malama I 
Ke Ola has been able to expand the services it provides to Maui 
residents and improve outcomes for thousands of people--particularly in 
the area of women's health.
  In the years following the passage and implementation of the ACA, 
Malama I Ke Ola has worked to expand OB-GYN services at the clinic. 
With increased funding, the clinic has purchased new, high-definition 
ultrasound machines, hired new physicians, and upgraded its prenatal 
care facilities. The center recently signed a new contract with the 
University of Hawaii to provide overnight fetal medical services at the 
clinic instead of having to refer patients to large public hospitals on 
Oahu. Keeping these patients on Maui not only reduces overall 
healthcare spending but also allows patients to stay close to home and 
their families.
  If Congress does not renew CHCF funding, this program--and hundreds 

[[Page S6277]]

others across the State and country--will be at risk.
  Congressional inaction has also threatened the future of the 
Children's Health Insurance Program--or CHIP--which provides health 
insurance to 9 million low-income children and mothers across the 
country and 27,000 in Hawaii. We should act as soon as possible to pass 
a bipartisan reauthorization that Senators Hatch and Wyden negotiated 
in the Senate Finance Committee.
  It seems as though every day the President tweets something new and 
outrageous to distract us from the true issues facing our country, 
whether it is the Mueller investigation or his decision to rescind DACA 
and place hundreds of thousands of DACA Dreamers at risk for 
deportation. This is a tactic the President has used to great effect 
during our many debates on healthcare. The President hopes we will be 
paying more attention to his attacks on NFL players or demeaning 
comments about the mayor of San Juan instead of his dangerous proposals 
to take healthcare away from millions of people in our country. We have 
to keep paying attention and keep our eyes on the ball. We have to keep 
speaking up and fighting back.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hoeven). Without objection, it is so 

                               The Budget

  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, after failing to throw 32 million 
Americans off of the health insurance they currently have last week, 
the Republicans are continuing their attack against the working 
families of our country with one of the most destructive budgets in 
American history.
  I know the American people today, for very good reason, are 
preoccupied with the horror of what happened in Las Vegas, and people 
are horrified about what has happened in Puerto Rico, but I would beg 
of the American people to please pay attention to the budget proposal 
and the so-called tax reform ideas brought by the Republican leadership 
in the Senate, as well as in the House.
  This proposal would cause devastating economic pain for tens of 
millions of Americans by, on the one hand, giving incredibly large tax 
breaks for the wealthiest people in the country, while at the same time 
making it harder for our children to get a decent education, harder for 
the families of this country to get the healthcare they need, harder 
for families, literally, to put food on the table, harder to protect 
our environment, and harder for the elderly to live their retirement 
years with dignity.
  This is the Robin Hood proposal in reverse. The Robin Hood principle 
in reverse is that instead of taking from the rich to help the poor, 
this proposal makes massive cuts in programs desperately needed by the 
middle class and working families of our country, precisely to give 
unbelievably large tax breaks to the people on top--the people who 
least need those tax breaks.
  At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, where we have more 
inequality today than at any time since the 1920s and more inequality 
than almost any major country on Earth, where the very, very rich are 
becoming much richer and we have 40 million people living in poverty 
and tens of millions of middle-class families are going nowhere in a 
hurry, this Republican budget, according to the Tax Policy Center, at 
the end of 10 years, would provide 80 percent of the tax benefits to 
the top 1 percent.
  Right now, today, the rich are doing phenomenally well. Everybody 
understands that. The middle class is shrinking. But according to the 
nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, by the end of the decade, nearly 80 
percent of the tax benefits in the Republican plan would go to the top 
1 percent--under this plan, this Republican plan. The top one-tenth of 
1 percent, the richest of the rich, would receive a tax break of over 
$1 million a year.
  At a time when so many of our families are struggling to put food on 
the table, struggling to figure out how to send their kids to college, 
struggling to figure out how to pay for childcare, we have a Republican 
tax proposal that would provide trillions of dollars in tax breaks to 
the richest people in this country.
  This is a budget that would increase the Federal deficit by $1.5 
trillion over the next decade. We have heard on the Senate floor my 
Republican friends talking about how worried they are about the $20 
trillion national debt and how high the deficits are. This proposal, 
designed to give tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country, 
would increase the Federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 
decade, and, by the way, this is a conservative estimate. There are 
those who think the deficit would go up a lot more than that.
  This is a Republican proposal that eliminates the estate tax. What is 
the estate tax? Republicans name it the ``death tax,'' but let us be 
clear about what this tax is and who benefits from it. Despite 
Republican efforts trying to find farmers or ranchers who would benefit 
from it, this is not legislation designed to help farmers or ranchers. 
This is legislation designed to help the top two-tenths of 1 percent. 
So 99.8 percent of the American people will not benefit one nickel from 
the repeal of the estate tax. Only the wealthiest of the wealthy will 
benefit. If this Republican proposal to repeal the estate tax would go 
through, the Walton family of Walmart, the wealthiest family in 
America, would receive a tax cut of up to $52 billion.
  Does anybody for one second think that, at a time when so many of our 
people are struggling and when we have a $20 trillion national debt, we 
should be passing legislation that gives the wealthiest family in this 
country up to a $52 billion tax break by repealing the estate tax?
  But it is not just the Walton family, of course. This is a budget 
that says that if you are the second wealthiest family in America, the 
Koch brothers--and this, by the way, is just coincidental, no doubt. I 
know it is amazing how these coincidences take place. The Koch brothers 
are a family who contributed hundreds of millions of dollars year after 
year to the Republican Party to elect candidates who represent the 
wealthy and powerful. Just coincidentally, that family would receive a 
tax break of up to $38 billion.
  People ask why the Koch brothers are contributing hundreds of 
millions of dollars every campaign cycle. That is a huge amount of 
money. That is a huge amount of money for normal families, but when you 
are the second wealthiest family and you have a tax break of $38 
billion, contributing a few million dollars every campaign cycle is 
pocket change and is a good investment.
  This is a budget that will cut Medicare by $450 billion. Right now in 
this country, we have millions and millions of seniors who are 
struggling to make ends meet. They can't afford their prescription 
drugs. They can't afford to keep their homes warm in the wintertime. 
Yet this Republican budget would cut Medicare by $450 billion.
  Now, the Republicans tried, time after time, despite massive 
opposition from the American people, to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 
In every one of their pieces of legislation, they made devastating cuts 
in Medicaid. Well, they are back again. Ostensibly, this is not a 
healthcare piece of legislation. It is a budget. It is so-called tax 
reform. There is $1 trillion of cuts in the Medicaid Program. So if you 
were worried last week, 2 weeks ago, and 1 month ago about what the 
terrific Republican healthcare bills would do, stay worried because 
this bill will cut $1 trillion over 10 years in Medicaid, resulting in 
at least 15 million Americans losing their health insurance.
  Can you imagine a set of priorities that says that we are going to 
throw 15 million people off of health insurance in order to give tens 
of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest families in this 
country? Unbelievable.
  It really is unbelievable.
  This proposal not only adds to the deficit, not only makes massive 
cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, it also impacts the American people in 
many ways. We have a program in this country called the Women, Infants, 
and Children Program, and at a time when the United States has the 
highest rate of infant mortality of any major country on

[[Page S6278]]

Earth, what we do to try to deal with that issue is provide help to 
low-income pregnant women and their babies after the babies are born. 
This Republican budget would make about $6.5 billion in cuts to the WIC 
Program, eliminating nutrition assistance to over 1.2 million pregnant 
women, new moms, babies, and toddlers in Vermont and all over this 
  Here are the priorities: Tax breaks for the Walton family, for the 
Koch brothers' families, who are billionaires, and cuts in programs for 
low-income, pregnant women who want to have healthy babies.
  At a time when the cost of childcare has skyrocketed all over this 
country--in the State of Vermont, it is a very serious problem; 
families cannot find affordable childcare--the Republican budget 
eliminates Head Start services for 25,000 children each and every year 
by cutting this program by about $3 billion. In total, the Republican 
budget would cut more than $5 trillion from education, healthcare, 
affordable housing, childcare, transportation, and other programs the 
working families of this country desperately rely upon.
  Let's be clear about something else. This is not me talking; 
Republican economists are saying the same thing.
  What is the theory underlying this whole approach of giving tax 
breaks to billionaires? The theory is that when you give tax breaks to 
billionaires and large, multinational corporations, somehow or another, 
they are going to start using the new revenue they acquire to invest in 
the economy and create decent-paying jobs. This is the so-called 
trickle-down economic theory, and this is a theory that Senate 
Republicans and President Trump have embraced with this budget.
  The fact is that anyone who looks at history understands that whole 
theory is a fraud. It has always been an abysmal failure. Since Ronald 
Reagan and George W. Bush slashed taxes on the wealthy and deregulated 
Wall Street, trillions of dollars in wealth have been redistributed 
from the middle class and working families to a handful of millionaires 
and billionaires. That is what trickle-down economics results in--a 
transfer of wealth from the middle class to the people on top--and that 
is exactly what this Republican proposal will do.
  Today we have more wealth inequality than at any time since the 
1920s. Unbelievably, the top one-tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as 
much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. This budget would make a very bad 
situation worse, and it would increase the level of wealth inequality 
in America today.
  As the ranking member of the Budget Committee, I intend to do 
everything I can to oppose this absurd set of priorities, and when I do 
that, I am speaking for the vast majority of the American people. Poll 
after poll after poll tells us that the American people do not think 
billionaires need more tax breaks. Poll after poll after poll tells us 
that the American people do not agree with the Republican leadership 
when they want to throw millions of people off of the health insurance 
they have. This is not a budget for the American people. This is not a 
budget for economic growth. This is a budget paid for and fought for by 
the Koch brothers and a handful of billionaires who will gain very 
handsomely if this budget were to be passed.
  I would remind my Republican colleagues--and this is not a very 
radical idea--that we were elected to the Senate not just to represent 
a handful of billionaires; we were elected to the Senate to do our best 
for the middle class and working families of our country. This should 
not be legislation designed as payback for hundreds of millions of 
dollars in campaign contributions. We need to pass legislation that 
protects the interests of working families and the middle class and 
lower income people.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  (Mr. STRANGE assumed the Chair.)
  Mr. UDALL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Johnson). Without objection, it is so 

                       Remembering Pete Domenici

  Mr. UDALL. Mr. President, I am joined today by my colleague from New 
Mexico, Senator Heinrich. We thought we would come to the floor 
together and talk about Senator Domenici, our former colleague who 
passed away recently.
  Pietro Vichi Domenici was born to Italian immigrants in Albuquerque, 
NM, in 1932. He was a grocer's son. He worked in his parents' store and 
attended Catholic school. He graduated from our own University of New 
Mexico. He pitched in college on the Albuquerque Dukes' farm team, and 
he taught high school mathematics. He went to law school and built a 
law practice. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1973 and became New 
Mexico's longest serving Senator.
  He was a husband, father, and grandfather. He married Nancy Burke 
right out of law school, and his beautiful wife of 59 years was key to 
his long and successful career. She is a good friend of ours, and we 
spent an hour with her in Albuquerque a little over a week ago. She is 
still very strong, and she is still very focused, as one would expect 
as a mother and grandmother of her children and grandchildren.
  Pete Domenici was a statesman. He worked across party lines to find 
pragmatic solutions for the American people. New Mexicans will always 
remember him as one of the strongest fighters our State will ever know.
  Senator Domenici and I belonged to different political parties, and 
we didn't always agree on things, but I always appreciated that he 
cared deeply about the issues, and he put the Nation and New Mexico's 
interests first as he saw them. I join all of New Mexico in thanking 
him and in mourning his passing.
  Senator Domenici's math skills and his beginnings in local government 
served him well during his 36 years in the U.S. Senate. Anyone who has 
served in city government knows the importance of a budget. Sitting as 
chair or ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee for 22 years, he 
held the Federal Government to the same rigorous, logical standard. He 
mastered the complexities of the Federal budget and served longer in a 
leadership position on that committee than any other Senator. He was a 
budget deficit hawk and a realist. He understood that supply-side 
economics do not work and that big tax cuts will not result in growth 
leading to a balanced budget. He went up against his own party, and he 
went up against President Ronald Reagan on the same budget issue.
  In the 1990s, he worked with President Clinton to produce a budget 
surplus for fiscal year 1998--the first surplus in our budget since 
1969. His willingness to work with Democrats, his pragmatism, and his 
stature with his own party made it possible.
  On the Budget Committee, he understood how to align New Mexico and 
national interests.
  He recognized the potential of our National Labs--Los Alamos and 
Sandia--and the potential they had for our State. He understood their 
importance to the national interest. He championed their work for 
decades. Our Labs provide thousands of good jobs in central and 
northern New Mexico, and the breadth and depth of their research and 
scientific contributions to our Nation are nothing short of 
astonishing. Pete Domenici played a critical role in the Labs' 
  He also had a key appreciation of the importance to New Mexico and 
the Nation of our military bases. In 2005, Cannon Air Force Base in 
southern New Mexico was slated to close. This would have cost New 
Mexico lots of jobs and would have had a devastating impact on the 
overall economy of the State. Senator Domenici, along with the entire 
delegation and Governor Richardson, worked to secure a different and 
critical mission for Cannon Air Force Base. Today, the 27th Special 
Operations Wing is going strong at Cannon. Six thousand men and women 
are employed, and rural Roosevelt and Curry Counties benefit from the 
base's $500 million economic impact.
  Senator Domenici's fingerprints are not only all over the Budget 
Committee but are all over the Energy and Natural Resources Committee--
which he chaired for 4 years in the early 2000s--and the Indian Affairs 
Committee, which I am fortunate to sit on today. He helped position the 
United States to be energy independent through the Energy Policy Acts 
of 2005 and 2007--the last time we really had bipartisan energy acts. 
He was a strong advocate on behalf of Tribes, working

[[Page S6279]]

to advance Indian healthcare and resolve longstanding water rights 
disputes, protecting Native art from counterfeiting, and improving 
reservation roads.
  My Uncle Mo talked a lot about the importance of being able to 
disagree without being disagreeable and to work together, if possible. 
Senator Domenici understood that while the delegation was divided by 
party, it was united in its love for New Mexico. He knew that New 
Mexico would be stronger if everyone worked together. It is partly 
thanks to him that our delegation continues a tradition of working 
together regardless of party.
  Senator Domenici's commitment to bipartisanship did not end in 2009 
with his Senate tenure; he continued to try to find solutions that 
worked for everyone as a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center 
in Washington.
  The Pete V. Domenici Institute for Public Policy at New Mexico State 
University in Las Cruces carries on his tradition through scholarship. 
The Senator said:

       It's time for us to join together and take these [partisan] 
     issues out of politics. The problems we face are so big, 
     people from both sides need to sit down and say, ``We can't 
     approach this the normal way.'' Some great leadership is 

  We could really use that commitment to bipartisanship in the Senate 
halls today.
  Senator Domenici was in Washington for many years, but he never was 
out of touch with everyday New Mexicans. Whether it was the acequia 
repairs in the Espanola Valley, creating a port of entry at Santa 
Teresa, funding new fighter jets at Kirtland Air Force Base in 
Albuquerque, establishing the Petroglyph National Monument, protecting 
Valles Caldera, forming the Hispanic Cultural Center and Museum in 
Albuquerque, Pete Domenici identified New Mexico's needs and came up 
with solutions.
  Pete and Nancy had a special passion for people who live with mental 
illness, borne from his own family's experience. This is an issue that 
he and I talked a lot about and that our two families shared. He worked 
across the aisle for many years to achieve parity in insurance coverage 
between mental healthcare and medical services. Any family who 
experiences serious mental illness understands that the two should be 
treated the same and that adequate mental healthcare is absolutely 
  In 2008, Congress passed the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental 
Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. That Federal law means that 
millions of persons with mental illness and substance abuse disorders 
have better access to the care they really need.
  Senator Domenici spoke passionately and personally about mental 
health. He also did so on immigration. His mother originally immigrated 
to the United States illegally. During World War II, she was taken in a 
raid aimed at ``Italian sympathizers.'' Those of us who were here 
during the immigration debates in 2006 remember his plainspoken and 
moving speech on the floor of the Senate, where he said:

       I understand this whole idea of a household with a father 
     who is American and a mother who is not, but they are living, 
     working, and getting ahead. I understand that they are just 
     like every other family in America. There is nothing 
     different. They have the same love, same hope, same will and 
     same aspirations as those of us who were born here have.

  I couldn't agree more.
  Pete Domenici, my good friend, son of Italian immigrant grocers, a 
great Senator, a great American, and a great New Mexican, thank you for 
your remarkable contributions. You leave an exceptional legacy for New 
Mexico and for the Nation.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. HEINRICH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. HEINRICH. Mr. President, I am really proud to come to the floor 
today to join my fellow Senator from New Mexico, Tom Udall, to 
recognize the life and service of the longest serving Senator from our 
incredible State of New Mexico, Senator Pete Domenici.
  Senator Domenici dedicated his entire life to the State and to the 
people he loved. He served our State in the Senate for 36 years. His 
decades of service to New Mexico left a lasting impact that will 
continue to be felt in every corner of our State for many years to 
come. Many in New Mexico called him Saint Pete because of how 
relentlessly he fought on the Appropriations and Budget Committees to 
secure resources for the people of New Mexico. We can still see the 
fruits of his labors at our State's National Labs, at our military 
installations, at our colleges and universities, and in water systems 
and community centers all over our State. That is because, while he 
worked on the forefront of major policy debates here in the Senate, 
Pete Domenici always put the interests of New Mexico above all else.
  Like myself, Senator Domenici's first public service experience came 
on Albuquerque's City Council, then called the City Commission. And, at 
least in my experience, I know that working at that local level was an 
invaluable way to learn how to hear from diverse viewpoints and 
stakeholders and find ways to build consensus and get the results for 
your constituents that you hope to achieve. I have tried to bring that 
approach with me into the Senate, and I know that Senator Domenici was, 
in part, so successful because of the skills he learned there.
  I am grateful for the example Senator Domenici set for all of us here 
in this body on how to advance important and complex policy goals in 
Washington with civility for our colleagues. Republicans and Democrats 
alike who worked with him on issues like the budget, energy, national 
defense, nuclear deterrence, and mental health parity still point to 
his dedication to bipartisan cooperation and compromise.
  Although they didn't always see eye to eye, Senator Domenici, a 
Republican, and Senator Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat, who served New 
Mexico alongside him for the vast majority of his time in the Senate, 
always made a point of improving the lives of New Mexicans by working 
together. It set a great example for people like me to watch how the 
two of them worked together. Their spirit of cooperation across party 
lines is still present in our State's congressional delegation, and I 
believe Senator Domenici's focus on putting policy results above party 
politics still resonates today.
  One of the greatest examples of this was Senator Domenici's work 
alongside two progressive Democratic lions of the Senate--Paul 
Wellstone and Ted Kennedy--to pass mental health parity legislation. 
Senators Domenici and Wellstone didn't agree on many issues, but they 
found they both had close, personal experience with and a passion for 
mental health parity. Both Senators had close family members who had 
experienced the great challenges of finding a way to pay for mental 
health treatment. Insurance companies were not required to cover mental 
health and addiction treatment in those days in the same way they 
covered treatment for so many other illnesses and diseases. Because of 
that, most insurance companies simply didn't cover these essential 
services at all.
  Starting in the mid-1990s, Senators Domenici and Wellstone worked 
together with mental health advocates to advance legislation to finally 
change that.
  After Senator Wellstone was killed in a tragic plane crash, Senator 
Domenici kept up the fight for 6 more years with a new partner in 
Senator Kennedy. The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health 
Parity and Addiction Equity Act was finally passed in October of 2008, 
only a few months before Senator Domenici's retirement from the Senate.
  That is the type of bipartisanship, legacy, and statesmanship on 
behalf of the American people that I hope we will all remember for a 
long, long time to come. We should all try better to keep that spirit 
alive in the Senate today.
  I join all New Mexicans and all Americans in mourning the passing of 
Senator Pete Domenici. Our thoughts, our deepest condolences, and our 
prayers are with his wife Nancy and all of his family and loved ones at 
this time of great loss, for their family and for the State. I am 
certain that Senator Domenici's legacy will not be forgotten in New 
Mexico and will not be forgotten in the U.S. Senate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.

[[Page S6280]]


                       The Budget and Tax Reform

  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, we need tax reform that helps small 
businesses close these tax loopholes that are taking jobs overseas. 
Instead, we need to create those jobs at home. We need tax reform that 
puts money in the pockets of middle-class families in Michigan and all 
across the country, and we need an American budget that shows what we 
value as Americans.
  Too often, we think of budgets as sterile numbers on a spreadsheet. 
In reality, budgets are about people. They are about the middle-class 
Cass City parents who are sitting down to do their taxes and feeling as 
if it is they, not the wealthiest 1 percent, who are carrying the 
heaviest burden. They are about helping small business owners in 
Pontiac, MI, family farmers in Cadillac, and Michigan companies that 
are creating good-paying jobs. They are also about ensuring that the 
most vulnerable among us--our children, senior citizens, people with 
disabilities--are valued and protected.
  We cannot consider a budget without considering people. Will it help 
middle-class families thrive? Will it help small business owners grow? 
Will it help protect people who cannot protect themselves? 
Unfortunately, the Republican budget and tax plan suggest that we do 
not value people, plain and simple.
  There are 47 million Americans who depend on Medicare--seniors and 
people with disabilities. Yet the budget resolution we will be 
considering tomorrow in the Budget Committee will cut $473 billion from 
Medicare. For the low-income children, parents, seniors in nursing 
homes, and people with disabilities who depend on Medicaid, in that 
budget resolution, Medicaid would be cut by $1 trillion.
  We just went through this debate twice in efforts to gut healthcare, 
to gut Medicaid, which would take away healthcare from tens of millions 
of people. The American people said no, and the Senate said no--twice. 
Yet we are right back again. Here they go again on the budget 
resolution, putting forward huge--even bigger--cuts in Medicaid. This 
time, it is not just Medicaid, it is Medicare, which was not in the 
last two proposals that we rejected, because they hurt too many people 
by taking away their healthcare.
  Now we have a budget resolution that will be coming to the floor of 
the Senate. I am assuming they will have enough votes. They certainly 
will not have mine or those of my Democratic colleagues, but if every 
Republican in committee votes for it, we will have on the floor a 
budget resolution that will cut Medicare by $473 billion and Medicaid 
by $1 trillion.
  Why is that being done? It is being done to pay for tax cuts for the 
wealthiest among us. In fact, 80 percent of the tax cuts would go to 
the top 1 percent. It would be 80 percent who would receive a cut of 
about $200,000 a year--a cut. The majority of people in Michigan do not 
make $200,000 a year, but this would be a tax cut of $200,000 a year, 
on average. This is not what I was talking about before in our helping 
small businesses and middle-class families and closing tax loopholes 
that are taking jobs overseas. This is a straight-up, trickle-down tax 
cut that has not worked before in creating jobs. It creates a lot of 
deficits but not jobs, and people in my State are still waiting for it 
to trickle down to them.
  Republicans are asking seniors, people with disabilities, children, 
and families to give up healthcare in order to fund a huge tax cut for 
the richest 1 percent, which will cost more than $2 trillion. To me, 
that sounds like backwards budgeting for sure.
  I do not often quote my friend from Kentucky, but Senator Paul was 
absolutely right yesterday. He tweeted this:

       This is a GOP tax plan? Possibly 30 percent of middle-class 
     families get a tax hike? I hope the final details are better 
     than this.

  I do too. I hope that the final details are a lot better than this if 
it is going to be something that the people of Michigan will support 
and benefit from.
  Under the Republican plan, a senior citizen in Saginaw, MI, who is 
making $20,000 a year would get a tax increase; a married couple with 
two kids and an income of $70,000 in Gaylord, MI, would get a tax 
increase; and a single mom with three kids in Battle Creek, MI, who 
works really hard every day in juggling and caring for her kids and who 
earns $50,000 a year, which never seems to stretch far enough, would 
actually pay $1,000 more in taxes because, under the plan, if you have 
more than one child, you will actually see your taxes go up because the 
personal exemption for each child will be taken away.
  Senator Paul is right. This is just plain wrong. I do have to give 
Republicans credit, though. They keep upping the ante. It wasn't even a 
week ago when they were trying to take healthcare away from people in 
Michigan and across the country with a plan that would increase costs 
and reduce healthcare. Now they are trying to take healthcare away from 
people who need it most by raising taxes on middle-income families and 
cutting Medicare, as well as Medicaid.
  We do need tax reform. I would like very much to see the code 
simplified, but any tax proposal needs to meet three basic requirements 
to get my support. First, tax reform needs to be bipartisan, rather 
than coming up with this proposal in the budget resolution which, once 
again, just like healthcare, would be jamming something through on a 
partisan vote. It needs to be bipartisan. It needs to be thoughtful.
  Those of us on the Finance Committee are thoughtful people. We worked 
for 2 years in bipartisan working groups on each section of the Tax 
Code, getting ready to have a thoughtful discussion and negotiation on 
real tax reform that would help small businesses grow--by the way, they 
are creating a majority of the new jobs--as well as making sure 
families in America who are struggling would be able to have a 
simplified Tax Code and a tax cut. So I am all for doing a bipartisan 
approach, but that is not what is happening here. That is not what will 
be put into the budget resolution tomorrow, and, unfortunately, it 
doesn't appear that it is what is going to happen in the Finance 
  The other reason for wanting to do this in a bipartisan way is that 
it is the only way to make sure it is permanent. If you use these 
truncated processes of reconciliation to try to jam something through, 
it is not permanent. I know from businesses in Michigan, large and 
small, as well as families, that to be able to plan, they want to see 
some permanent changes, and doing it this way is not permanent.
  Second, tax reform needs to help businesses create jobs right here at 
home. Over the last year, I visited more than 120 small businesses in 
Michigan, and I have seen for myself how they are driving my State's 
economy. I also know how challenging it can be for them to navigate the 
complex Tax Code. The owner of a small business shouldn't have to spend 
hours with an accountant instead of with her customers. We can fix 
that. At the same time, tax reform needs to preserve important 
incentives for manufacturers that are creating jobs here in Michigan 
and in our country.
  I don't believe we have an economy unless somebody makes something or 
somebody grows something. We need to make sure that the tax policy that 
supports capital intensive companies remains intact, and we need to 
close the gigantic loopholes that incentivize our jobs going overseas.
  I have one simple proposal. It is not everything, but it is a symbol 
of how bad the situation is. I have been trying to get it passed now 
for over 10 years here, and it keeps getting blocked and filibustered. 
It is called the Bring Jobs Home Act. It is very simple. The Tax Code 
right now allows a company moving overseas to write off all their 
moving costs. So the workers losing their jobs help pay for the move 
through their taxes. The community pays for the move through their 
taxes. It makes no sense to do that. My Bring Jobs Home Act would stop 
that and say that you don't get to write off the costs when you are 
leaving our country. However, if you want to come back, if you want to 
bring jobs home, we are happy to let you write off those costs, and we 
will give you an extra 20 percent tax credit to bring those jobs home. 
If you want to leave, you are on your own. That is what our Tax Code 
should say to businesses that are moving our jobs overseas.
  The third important measure in tax reform is that it needs to put 
money in the pockets of hard-working families. Michigan families are 
working hard every day to make ends meet. For too long, working-class 
and middle-class

[[Page S6281]]

families have watched as all of the benefits seem to flow to the 
wealthiest among us over and over and over. Middle-class families are 
stretched to the breaking point, and it is time they get a break.
  That is what the President originally said. This was going to be a 
middle-class tax cut. Yet, when we run the numbers, it is just not 
true. For too many, they are going to see a tax increase. As I said 
before, 80 percent of the Republican tax cuts go to the top 1 percent. 
You can even break that down more with 0.1 percent, and it is shocking 
that those individuals are going to get a million-dollar tax cut.
  When you look at the majority of people in Michigan who work hard 
every day and don't earn $200,000 or more, and you look at the fact 
that there would be a tax plan brought forward that would actually give 
a tax cut of $200,000 a year, and someone with three children or four 
children would actually see their taxes go up--wait a minute--what is 
wrong with that picture?
  Unfortunately, this budget and tax proposal falls short in a number 
of ways, beyond Medicare and Medicaid cuts and what is happening in 
terms of families. As I said before, it is far from bipartisan. As with 
healthcare, Democrats have been locked out of the process. Republicans 
have been meeting in secret--no Democrats allowed.
  The Republicans are having to use this reconciliation process to 
force something that will not be permanent. There is little reason to 
believe that this will help American workers. As I indicated before, it 
will not close loopholes that are taking jobs overseas.
  It doesn't benefit hard-working people and working families that are 
working really hard to make it every year, every week. It does not 
benefit them.
  The Republican budget and tax proposal targets the most vulnerable. 
It isn't bipartisan. It will not stop offshoring. It will not benefit 
the middle class. There is one thing that it will do. There is one 
thing that those who analyze this agree upon. It will explode the 
deficit. The independent analysis shows that these proposals would 
increase the deficit by $2.4 trillion. So there is $2.4 trillion in 
lost revenues that would go to increasing the deficit.
  Our friends across the aisle scoff at that. These tax cuts, they say, 
will pay for themselves. Although in our Finance Committee hearing 
today, when we asked both the Republican and Democratic experts who 
were testifying, no one said it would pay for the tax cuts--no one.
  President Trump said this huge tax cut will be rocket fuel for our 
economy. But when you look at the 2001 tax cuts, there was no rocket 
fuel there. In the 2003 tax cuts, there was no rocket fuel there. In 
2012, the State of Kansas had tax cuts that almost caused them to have 
to go to a 4-day school week for children because of the huge deficits. 
There was no rocket fuel there.
  There are two things to remember about rocket fuel. It is unstable, 
and, if you are not careful, you will get badly burned.
  Budgets aren't about numbers; they are about people. They are about 
middle-class parents wondering why the wealthiest get all the breaks 
and they get the bill. It is about a small business owner wondering why 
she can't run a bakery without hiring an accountant. It is about 
seniors on disability wondering if Medicare and Medicaid will be there 
for them while they watch the 0.1 percent get tax breaks and there are 
future generations being stuck with the bill for tax cuts that will not 
pay for themselves.
  Budgets are about people, and this budget fails them. It is time to 
work together across the aisle to do what is right, to make sure that 
the budget and tax proposals work for everybody, not just a privileged 
few, and that they help companies create jobs here at home and focus on 
policies to benefit our working families.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). Without objection, it is so 

                     United States v. Sanchez-Gomez

  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, last week I filed an amicus brief calling 
on the U.S. Supreme Court to hear and then overturn the ruling of the 
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Sanchez-Gomez. I am 
proud to have been supported in this effort by all 15 sheriffs in my 
home State of Arizona, as well as the Western States Sheriffs 
Association and the National Sheriffs' Association.
  I should mention that this is not a partisan issue we are talking 
about. We have sheriffs representing both parties in Arizona. Every 
sheriff in Arizona has supported this amicus--all 15.
  This decision by the Ninth Circuit is just another example of a 
ruling that is well outside of the judicial mainstream. Unfortunately, 
in this case, their ruling dramatically undercuts effective border 
enforcement, and it creates a dangerous situation for law enforcement 
and the public. In this case, the Ninth Circuit ruled that it violates 
the rights of prisoners for marshals and other sheriffs or other 
courtroom personnel to employ commonplace, thoughtfully crafted 
courtroom safety policies in which prisoners appear before a judge, 
fitted with appropriate restraints. This is a significant change from 
common practice, and it conflicts with two other courts of appeals.
  More troubling, the decision has prompted public safety concerns for 
Arizona and throughout the West. First, law enforcement will have no 
choice but to increase the number of officers needed to maintain the 
safety of individuals inside courtrooms. This means that more U.S. 
marshals and sheriffs will be spending their days in courthouses 
instead of pursuing violent fugitives or preventing street crime. Even 
with these increased numbers, law enforcement officials have expressed 
concern over the high threshold they are now forced to attain in order 
to get permission to fit dangerous prisoners with restraints.
  By putting these restraints on law enforcement rather than prisoners, 
this ruling limits the ability of sheriffs and U.S. marshals to ensure 
the safety of the judges, jurors, lawyers, prisoners, victims, and 
members of the public inside these courthouses around the country.
  This decision also dramatically undercuts the ability of the Federal 
courts to process illegal immigration border crossing cases as part of 
Operation Streamline, the very successful border enforcement program 
that has worked so well in some parts of Arizona. By establishing a 
zero tolerance approach to illegal border crossings, Operation 
Streamline has made a dramatic difference in the number of illegal 
border crossings in communities like Tucson and Yuma.
  This year, the Operation Streamline Program averaged around 45 
individuals per hearing. Even with these high caseloads, the program 
could remain efficient, thanks in part to traditional courtroom safety 
procedures. They could take 40 prisoners at a time and process them if 
they were allowed to use the current courtroom practices. These old 
policies allow law enforcement to bring up to 75 individuals into the 
courtroom at once, but under the Ninth Circuit's decision to relax 
courtroom safety protocols, law enforcement officers are now forced to 
limit groups of prisoners before the court to no more than a handful at 
a time. This makes it increasingly impractical for judges to hear cases 
due to the amount of time required for law enforcement to move small 
numbers of prisoners in and out of the courtroom. There simply aren't 
the hours in a day.
  I take the independence of the courts very seriously. That is why, 
when every sheriff in my State comes to me and says that there is a 
court ruling that is endangering their deputies and the public, I am 
going to urge that the decision be overturned by the proper authority.
  This makes a difference in Arizona for another reason as well. We 
have a lot of older courthouses. Some of them are historic courthouses. 
These buildings simply aren't built for today's needs in terms of 
access for prisoners and the public within these courthouses. Sometimes 
they have to go in the same doorways and in the same hallways. If law 
enforcement and courtroom security personnel are not allowed to have 
standards in terms of prisoner restraint, then you endanger

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the safety of individuals visiting the courthouse and others. You are 
simply unable to process the number of cases that we have in Arizona, 
particularly near the border with regard to immigration cases.
  I hope that the High Court, the Supreme Court, will grant cert here 
and examine this ruling. It really makes a difference in a State like 
  With that, I yield back the remainder of my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 
up to 15 minutes as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                             Climate Change

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, this week on an island nation one-
tenth the size of Rhode Island, more than 60 countries will gather at 
the fourth international Our Ocean Conference. Catalyzed by then-
Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States hosted the premier 
international ocean conference in 2014 and 2016. Secretary Kerry's 
legacy continues with the Malta Conference now going on, hosted by the 
European Union, and that will be followed by scheduled conferences in 
Indonesia in 2018 and Norway in 2019.
  Nations come to these conferences to share ocean conservation 
achievements and to pledge future efforts in sustainable fisheries, 
marine debris prevention, marine protected areas, maritime security, 
and climate change. At last count, conference organizers in Malta are 
anticipating more than 150 separate pledges from governments, NGOs, and 
the private sector. Since Secretary Kerry started it, the Our Ocean 
Conference has produced hundreds of commitments, totaling nearly $10 
billion and protecting nearly 4 million square miles of ocean. Though 
the oceans cover more than 70 percent of our Earth, they are often 
taken for granted. Oceans drive our weather, cool our planet, provide 
food and income for billions of people, and absorb much of our carbon 
dioxide emissions.
  So for my 181st ``Time to Wake Up'' speech, I will return to the 
topic of what we are doing to our oceans. The oceans provide a hard-to-
deny reminder of what is happening, thanks to greenhouse gas emissions, 
climate change denial, and America's legislative paralysis.
  Physics and chemistry don't care about fossil fuel industry 
propaganda. It doesn't affect them at all. Science measures how our 
carbon pollution continues to drive unprecedented change in the Earth's 
  The oceans have absorbed about one-third of all the excess carbon 
dioxide emitted by human activity since the Industrial Revolution; that 
is, around 600 gigatons of carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean. The 
effect of absorbing all that carbon dioxide is chemical, making ocean 
water more acidic at the fastest rate in 50 million years. Humankind 
has been on the planet only about 800,000 or so years, so 50 million 
goes way back.
  This acidification is potentially calamitous for the ocean ecosystem. 
Off Washington, Oregon, and Northern California, 50 percent of 
pteropods were measured to have ``severe shell damage,'' mostly from 
acidified sea water. If that species collapses, the bottom falls out of 
the oceanic food chain, with a cascading effect up to us at the top of 
the food chain.
  Ocean acidification is causing real economic concerns on coasts all 
around the country. It is affecting Florida's reefs, for instance. 
Rhode Island's clammers, lobstermen, and aquaculture growers watch with 
real alarm the damage acidified seas are doing on America's northwest 
coast. Oyster hatcheries there experienced significant losses when new 
hatches were unable to grow their shells in the acidified seawater. 
Those hatcheries now need to buffer ocean water to keep the pH at a 
survivable level for baby clams, oysters, and other shellfish. Well, 
you can do that for your aquaculture lab, but you can't do that for the 
ocean. So it bodes well for the future of these shellfish.
  In addition to the CO2 the oceans have absorbed--30 
percent of that--they have also absorbed heat. They have absorbed over 
90 percent of the excess heat that climate change has trapped in our 
atmosphere, thanks to the operation of the greenhouse gases we have 
emitted. The oceans, in doing that, have conferred on us an 
extraordinary blessing because without their absorbing more than 90 
percent of that heat--forget the 2 degrees Centigrade cap that we worry 
about--we would likely be already more than 36 degrees Centigrade 
hotter. That isn't just life changing; that is species-changing 
variation in our planet. When oceans absorb all of this heat, which is 
equivalent to more than a Hiroshima-style nuclear bomb per second going 
off, the principle of thermal expansion kicks in. As oceans warm, they 
expand, and as the world warms from the remaining heat, ice melts. So 
between the two, sea levels rise.
  NOAA, in January, updated global sea level rise estimates based on 
the latest peer-reviewed scientific literature. Ice sheets and glaciers 
are melting faster than previously expected, raising global sea level 
rise estimates in this century--under the ``we do nothing on climate 
change'' scenario--by around 20 more inches on average.
  Apply these findings to the U.S. coast, and the news gets 
particularly harsh for the northeast Atlantic coast, including my home 
State of Rhode Island. Rhode Island's Coastal Resources Management 
Council is now telling us that we need to plan for as much as 9 to 12 
vertical feet of sea level rise by the end of this century. The refusal 
of the Republican majority to do anything serious about climate change 
is going to have a big effect on the very map of my State.
  This is the present Upper Narragansett Bay, including Providence up 
here, our capital city, down to Greenwich Bay down here, and Warwick on 
the west side. Over here, we have Bristol and Warren on the east side 
of the image, and it still looks actually very much like it did when 
early explorers first came to Rhode Island in the 1600s. And it looked 
very much like that for centuries before, when the Narragansetts and 
the Wampanoags lived here. But as climate change raises sea levels, all 
of this is changing rapidly.
  The Coastal Resources Management Council has developed something 
called STORMTOOLS, which is an online simulation to model sea level 
rise and storm surge, so we can see how rising sea levels will affect 
my State.
  This is the same image as that one. I will put one over the other so 
that you can see the match. Everything that is blue is land and is now 
submerged on these 9-to-12-foot sea level estimates. It all has changed 
quite dramatically. Warwick Neck breaks off and becomes Warwick Neck 
Island. Much of the town of Barrington here becomes a new salt lake. 
This is a bedroom community with a lot of wealthy people living in very 
nice homes, and it all goes under water. Down here, Bristol and Warren 
become an island, and off of them, Poppasquash Point becomes two 
islands. This continues all around the State. The map changes, and we 
become a Rhode Island archipelago. Look at Newport, Little Compton, 
Tiverton, Providence, Jamestown, Point Judith. Flooded areas in my 
State represent billions of dollars in losses to Rhode Islanders.
  Of course, around the visibly flooded areas are the less visible 
areas where legal setbacks, flood zones, velocity zones, and other 
building restrictions prevent construction. In those areas that are 
still above water, it is still unbuildable because the property has 
become uninsurable, unmortgageable, or unsellable. That is a pretty 
hard hit to expect my State to take without objection.
  It is not just Rhode Island; all sorts of changes are happening along 
America's coasts. Up in the Gulf of Maine, ocean waters are warming 
faster than nearly any other place on earth. A study published in 
Elementa last month found that summer temperatures in the Gulf of Maine 
last two months longer than in the 1980s. Longer, warmer summers 
benefit some species, but others get hurt, including what little is 
left of the iconic cod.
  Native villages in Alaska and island communities in Louisiana and 
Maryland are facing tough decisions about abandoning traditional 
shorelands and islands and relocating. Around the world, entire nations 
are planning for relocation as the ocean steadily rises over their 
island homes.
  Layered on top of this sea level rise is the worsening risk of storm 

[[Page S6283]]

and flooding from hurricanes and other storms. The Presiding Officer 
does not need to be told about this. His State has experienced it 
  This satellite image is a snapshot of this particularly destructive 
2017 hurricane system. From the left to right, we see Hurricane Katia, 
Hurricane Irma--at category 5 strength--and Hurricane Jose down here.
  As the recovery efforts continue for our citizens in Puerto Rico, 
Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, and we look at hundreds of billions of 
dollars in disaster relief emergency spending, here in Washington we 
might want to think about helping coastal States around the country get 
serious about predicting what is coming, shoring up our coastlines, 
fortifying coastal infrastructure, and preparing for what climate 
change has in store for us.
  Climate change is not the only way we are damaging the oceans. Each 
year, around 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters our oceans 
from land. By 2050, we could see as much plastic in the oceans as fish 
in the oceans by weight, since plastics do not fully degrade in the 
ocean. They just break down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic, 
and those travel the globe on ocean currents.
  Plastic is now everywhere; on our beaches, in our oceans, ingested 
and entangling our wildlife. It is even in tapwater, salt, and other 
foods that we humans consume. Plastic waste has been found on remote 
islands, in deep-sea sediments, and in sea ice.
  In an area previously inaccessible to researchers due to that sea 
ice, the Arctic is apparently releasing frozen plastic back into the 
oceans. That is how badly we are polluting our oceans. An international 
research expedition to the North Pole even found chunks of plastic 
littering that remote region.
  Thankfully, there is interest in solving our ocean trash problem in 
the Senate. At last year's Our Ocean Conference, over $1 billion was 
pledged to combat marine debris. Additional commitments are expected 
this year. Our Senate Oceans Caucus work parallels work around the 
world. The Senate Oceans Caucus is a bipartisan group. There are 36 of 
us. We have made marine debris one of our focus areas.
  In August, by unanimous consent, we passed the Save Our Seas Act, a 
bipartisan bill to reauthorize NOAA's marine debris program and expand 
its ability to deal with severe marine debris events, where tsunamis or 
huge storms sweep enormous amounts of plastic garbage into the oceans 
and then ultimately onto our shores.
  The bill asks the President to increase U.S. international efforts to 
reduce marine debris, including improving international waste 
management practices and improving research on plastics that will 
actually biodegrade in the ocean. It also directs the U.S. Trade 
Representative to start considering marine plastic debris--much of 
which comes from just a few countries--when dealing with them in future 
trade agreements.
  We reinforced this piece of the bill recently in the National Defense 
Authorization Act, which we passed just last month.
  The Save Our Seas Act garnered support from environmental NGOs, from 
corporations, from chemical trade groups, but there is still much more 
work to do. We have abused and ignored our oceans for far too long. The 
oceans are warning us in every way they know how, and we can't afford 
to ignore those warnings any longer. We must start taking serious 
action to respond to what we are doing to our oceans. I promise you, 
anybody who knows anything about oceans hears those alarm bells 
ringing. It is time for us to wake up.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Order of Procedure

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that, 
notwithstanding the provisions of rule XXII, the cloture vote on the 
Hargan nomination occur at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, October 4, and that if 
cloture is invoked, the Senate vote on confirmation at 3:15 p.m. with 
no intervening action or debate; that if confirmed, the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the President 
be immediately notified of the Senate's action.
  I further ask that, upon disposition of the Hargan nomination, the 
Senate vote on cloture on the Quarles nomination, and that if cloture 
is invoked, the Senate vote on confirmation of the nomination at 10 
a.m. on Thursday, October 5; that if confirmed, the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the President 
be immediately notified of the Senate's action; further, that the time 
on Wednesday evening be for debate on the Quarles and Cissna 
nominations, concurrently.
  I further ask that the cloture vote on the Cissna nomination occur 
upon disposition of the Quarles nomination, and that if cloture is 
invoked, all time postcloture be considered expired and the Senate vote 
on confirmation with no intervening action or debate; that if 
confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon 
the table and the President be immediately notified of the Senate's 
  I further ask that following disposition of the Cissna nomination, 
the Senate resume consideration of the Gingrich nomination, with a vote 
on cloture at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday; and that if cloture is invoked, 
the Senate vote on confirmation at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, October 16.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. For the information of all Senators, we have now 
locked in the following vote schedule: one vote at 11 tomorrow morning, 
two votes at 3:15 tomorrow afternoon, three votes at 10 a.m. on 
Thursday, and one vote at 1:45 on Thursday afternoon.
  This will allow debate time on all of the pending nominations and 
accommodate important committee hearings that will be occurring off the