EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 192
(Senate - November 27, 2017)

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[Pages S7319-S7328]
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                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the following 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Dabney 
Langhorne Friedrich, of California, to be United States District Judge 
for the District of Columbia.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the time until 5:30 
p.m. will be equally divided between the two leaders or their 
designees.
  If no one yields time, the time will be equally divided.


                   Recognition of the Majority Leader

  The majority leader is recognized.


                               Tax Reform

  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, during the last decade, our complex 
Tax Code left hard-working families behind and allowed the wealthy and 
well connected to get ahead. It is so bad that one small business owner 
in Paducah, KY, recently wrote to my office asking for relief because, 
as he said, ``Taxes are suffocating my company, and me personally.''
  The pain isn't just being felt in Kentucky. It is an urgent problem 
nationwide. Families and job creators are doing their best to get 
ahead, but too often our Tax Code keeps them from reaching for the 
American dream. Working families and small businesses in our country 
deserve better than our outdated Tax Code, and that is what we are 
trying to deliver.
  Tax reform represents the single most important thing we can do right 
now to spur economic growth, help support good jobs, and boost the 
middle class. This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity, and we 
should meet the challenge.
  Overhauling our Tax Code can mean more money for small businesses to 
hire, to invest, and to expand. It can mean families keeping more of 
what they earn to save for a rainy day or an emergency. This relief can 
even mean getting one step closer to sending a child to college, buying 
a new car, or saving more for retirement.
  This week, the Senate will continue our years-long effort toward tax 
reform. Under the leadership of Chairman Hatch, the Senate Finance 
Committee reported out legislation to replace our noncompetitive, 
complex, and outdated Tax Code.
  Through dozens of hearings, substantial hard work, and an open 
amendment process, the committee has produced a bill that would 
prioritize the middle class and small businesses so they can keep more 
of their hard-earned money.
  Our plan doubles the child tax credit, preserves the adoption tax 
credit, and roughly doubles the standard deduction to reduce how much 
income is taxed in the first place.

[[Page S7320]]

  Put it all together, and a typical middle-class family of four making 
a median family income could see a tax break of around $2,200. As 
families sit around the table to balance their budgets and plan for the 
future, this money will make a significant impact.
  In addition, our tax reform proposal will provide much needed relief 
for low- and middle-income families by repealing ObamaCare's individual 
mandate tax. By ending an unpopular tax from an unworkable law, this 
plan can help those who need it most.
  The bottom line is this: We want to take more money out of 
Washington's pocket and put more money into the pockets of American 
families. To accomplish this goal, we will continue to consider the 
plan under regular order. Every Member will have a chance to offer 
amendments on the floor, and then we will vote.
  There are many places in this legislation where we should all--
Republicans and Democrats--be able to agree. For instance, our 
Democratic colleagues have the opportunity to help us end tax 
incentives that contribute to American jobs going overseas. That sounds 
like something our friends across the aisle should support. In fact, 
many of them have identified those incentives as the fundamental 
problem in our current Tax Code. This is our chance to put an end to 
it. I hope they will join us in our effort to help jobs and investments 
stay right here at home.
  I am proud to continue working with my colleague to get this 
legislation one step closer to the President's desk. Let's keep working 
together to deliver tax relief for the American people.
  Now, Madam President, on another matter. Later today, the Senate will 
consider two more talented nominees to the Federal judiciary. First, we 
will vote to confirm the nomination of Dabney Friedrich to serve as 
district court judge for the District of Columbia.


                      Nomination of Gregory Katsas

  Next, we will vote to advance the nomination of an exceptionally 
well-qualified nominee to the Federal judiciary, Gregory Katsas to 
serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia 
Circuit. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Mr. Katsas clerked 
for Judge Edward Becker of the Third Circuit and Justice Clarence 
Thomas, both on the DC Circuit and on the U.S. Supreme Court. He then 
joined the litigation group at a prominent law firm focusing on State 
and Federal appellate litigation, including arguing before the Supreme 
Court.
  In 2001, Mr. Katsas became the Deputy Assistant Attorney General 
supervising the Justice Department's appellate staff of the Civil 
Division. The Senate later confirmed him by a voice vote to serve as 
Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, where he was 
responsible for overseeing hundreds of lawyers and some of the 
government's most complicated litigation. For his work, he was awarded 
the Edmund Randolph Award for outstanding service, the highest award 
given by the Department.
  In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, former Attorney 
General Michael Mukasey expressed his support for Mr. Katsas's 
nomination. This is what Attorney General Mukasey had to say:

       It was my great privilege to work with Greg when he headed 
     the civil division and argued many of the most difficult and 
     challenging cases the Department faced at that time. Greg 
     worked tirelessly to defend the interests of the United 
     States in court, whatever his personal views about them may 
     have been.

  Former Attorney General Mukasey, who has also previously served as a 
Federal district court judge, went on to say that ``it is Greg's 
character, temperament and virtue that most set him apart, and that 
suit him to serve as a Circuit Judge. There are many smart lawyers in 
Washington, and probably many nice ones,'' he concluded, ``but I know 
of no others who have Greg's unique combination of legal skill coupled 
with humility, integrity, and good judgment.''
  That high praise was echoed by many of the other officials who knew 
Mr. Katsas well at the Justice Department. A large group of them wrote 
to the Senate Judiciary Committee supporting his nomination.

       Greg is an exceptionally talented and brilliant fellow 
     lawyer. His commitment to public service and academic 
     qualifications are impeccable. In addition, we can attest to 
     Greg's thoughtfulness, temperament, and character.

  Furthermore, a group of distinguished attorneys who have, in their 
own words, ``worked with Greg or litigated against him in the Supreme 
Court or federal courts of appeals, or are otherwise familiar with his 
work'' penned a letter of support for Mr. Katsas's nomination.
  ``We hold a broad range of policy and jurisprudential views'' they 
wrote, ``but [we] are united in our view, based on our experience and 
knowledge of Greg's work, that he is highly qualified to serve on the 
D.C. Circuit.''
  Once he completed his time at the Department of Justice and returned 
to private practice, Mr. Katsas continued to impress his colleagues 
with his legal skill and judgment.
  His firm's managing partner wrote a letter, also signed by partners 
from around the globe, recommending his nomination. Here is what they 
wrote:

       Greg is a truly great legal thinker with a well-earned 
     reputation for integrity, fair-mindedness, and respect for 
     others. He has been a brilliant, conscientious advocate--

  They continued--

     for the firm's clients in the Supreme Court and appellate 
     courts throughout the nation in a wide variety of difficult, 
     high-profile cases.

  Mr. Katsas is an impressive individual who is well-qualified to serve 
on the DC Circuit.
  I thank Chairman Grassley, once again, for his outstanding work in 
moving President Trump's judicial nominees to the floor. I look forward 
to confirming the nomination of Ms. Friedrich and advancing the 
nomination of Mr. Katsas later today.
  I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting their 
nominations.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The Democratic leader is recognized.


                     Welcoming Our Colleagues Back

  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, I welcome you and the Senator from 
Texas, and all of our colleagues, back after our Thanksgiving break. I 
had my parents, 94 and 89, at our Thanksgiving dinner with all of their 
children and grandchildren and cousins and ``thises and thats,'' so I 
have a lot to be thankful for. I am blessed to have my mom and dad see 
their whole family and be so happy about it.


                         Work Before the Senate

  But now, Madam President, we are back, and we have a lot of work to 
do before the end of the year and precious little time to do it. 
Funding for the government expires a week from this Friday. Eight 
hundred thousand Dreamers are waiting to hear whether they can live and 
work in the only country they have ever known. Almost 9 million 
children are waiting for us to reauthorize the Children's Health 
Insurance Program, and millions more are waiting for us to restore 
funding for community health centers--the most cost-effective, and 
often only, healthcare lots of people can get.
  We also need to fund the cost-sharing program that holds down 
premiums and out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans because the 
administration refuses to do so. Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto 
Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are desperately in need of additional 
aid to recover from the natural disaster that God brought on them.
  Also, the debt ceiling must be raised again, and in short order.
  So we need to come to agreements on all of these issues, and quickly.
  To that end, the four leaders will meet with the President tomorrow. 
Hopefully, we can make progress on an agreement that covers those time-
sensitive issues and keeps the government running and working for the 
American people.


                          Republican Tax Plan

  We could be working on all of these issues this week, but, instead, 
the majority is pursuing a partisan tax plan at a breakneck pace. Since 
the Republicans released their first draft of the tax bill a few weeks 
ago, we have had 1 week of markup in the Senate Finance Committee 
during which the bill shape-shifted on several occasions.

[[Page S7321]]

  Aside from the testimony of one representative from the Joint 
Committee on Taxation, the Senate hasn't heard from any expert witness 
in a hearing room. Can my colleagues believe that? A major tax bill in 
front of the American people, changing lives dramatically--no expert 
witnesses, except the JCT witness. And the bill is likely to change 
drastically again on the floor of the Senate, with little time for 
Senators of either party to grapple with the consequences.
  The Republicans are moving so fast, the Joint Tax Committee will not 
have time to produce a full analysis of the economic impact of the bill 
until after the bill is voted on. Is that backward--or what?
  The Republican tax bill will affect every taxpayer and business in 
America, and my colleagues will not know many of its impacts before 
they vote on it.
  Two things about this bill, however, seem certain. First, it will 
raise taxes on millions of middle-class families in every State of the 
Union. Second, it will explode the deficit. Every independent analysis 
of the Senate tax bill shows that millions of families making under 
$200,000 a year will eventually pay more, not less, in taxes under the 
Republican plan. The most recent Tax Policy Center analysis showed that 
about 60 percent of middle-class families--those making between $28,000 
and $155,000--would see a tax increase at the end of the day. Most 
middle-class families, by the time the 10-year window is up, will see a 
tax increase of 60 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center.
  While middle-class people are struggling--they either get a small 
decrease in taxes or an increase--folks making over $1 million a year 
will get an average tax cut of over $40,000--more than many Americans 
make in a whole year.
  The tax breaks for individuals all expire; the tax breaks for massive 
corporations are permanent. Because the individual mandate is repealed, 
the tax bill would cause 13 million fewer Americans to have health 
insurance; meanwhile, couples with estates worth over $11 million get a 
tax break.
  This bill is terrible for the country. It is a massive transfer of 
wealth to the already wealthy. It would exacerbate inequality and set 
the middle class back at the worst possible time.
  At the same time, it would increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion, at 
the very least. Some of my Republican friends are saying that future 
consequences will extend the middle-class tax breaks that are now set 
to expire. Well, that would increase the deficit even more 
significantly. You can't have it both ways. Either the bill socks it to 
the middle class or it blows a giant hole in the deficit--a ``Scylla 
and Charybdis.'' No one wants either. The tax bill gives us that awful 
choice.
  Some of my Republican friends say the tax bill will unleash such 
economic growth that the tax cuts will pay for themselves and the 
deficit will evaporate. It is curious to me that those same Republicans 
are rushing the bill so fast through the Joint Committee on Tax that it 
will not have time to assess the economic impact. Of course, they are 
afraid of what it will say. They know it is going to say nothing close 
to what our Republican optimists are predicting. According to a former 
JCT economist: ``There is good reason to expect the estimate of current 
legislation will show less than flattering growth affects.'' So one has 
to wonder: Are the Republicans afraid that the experts will find that 
the Republican promises of economic growth are pure fantasy? It sure 
seems that way.
  The majority shouldn't be ramming through such an ill-conceived, 
backward bill. They shouldn't be breaking all the traditions of this 
body--busting the deficit, hurting millions of middle-class families--
when there is so much potential agreement between our two parties on 
tax reform. We could come up with a good, bipartisan bill--not through 
reconciliation, through regular order--and we would all be the prouder 
for it.
  We Democrats want to lower middle-class taxes. We Democrats want to 
reduce the burdens on small businesses. We Democrats want to encourage 
companies to locate jobs here instead of shipping them overseas, and we 
want to do all of these things in a deficit-neutral way. Those thoughts 
probably have a majority on each side of the aisle. It is a shame that 
the Republican leadership has chosen reconciliation, which means no 
regular order, no hearings, no sunlight, and no Democratic input into 
the bill. If Republicans turn their backs on a deeply flawed approach--
and I plead with the handful who haven't committed yet--we can work 
together on bipartisan tax reform that delivers real relief for 
everyone in the middle class.


                  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

  Madam President, finally, on the matter of the directorship of the 
CFPB--the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau--there should be no 
dispute about who is the Acting Director of the agency. The process for 
succession laid out in Dodd-Frank is clear: Leandra English, not Mick 
Mulvaney, is the Acting Director of the CFPB.
  Let me underscore that point: I was involved when Dodd-Frank was 
written. The clear intention of Congress was to establish a clear line 
of succession for the CFPB, separate and apart from the Federal 
Vacancies Act. I remember; I was here.
  The language in question wasn't a part of the House version of Dodd-
Frank, but we included it in the Senate version for an explicit 
purpose. We wanted the CFPB to be an independent agency, free from 
political considerations of the White House, free of the influence of 
lobbyists, who we knew would not like that consumers were finally 
protected in the financial area. We wanted a watchdog whose only job 
was to look out for consumers. That was the whole structure of the 
bill. That is why it has such a unique structure--to shield it from an 
administration, whoever it would be, that would be influenced by 
lobbyists.
  That is why we expressly stipulated that if the Director were not 
available, the Acting Director should be the highest ranking member of 
the CFPB, not whoever the White House believes is in their political 
interests.
  By attempting to install Mr. Mulvaney as the Director, the Trump 
administration is ignoring the established, proper, legal order of 
succession that we purposefully put in place, in order to put a fox in 
charge of the henhouse.
  Mr. Mulvaney has, throughout his career, criticized the mission and 
purpose of the CFPB. The man the President chose for Director of the 
agency called it a sick, sad joke. He doesn't believe in the agency. He 
would prefer that it didn't exist. That is not speculation; those are 
Mulvaney's own words. In 2015, he said: ``I don't like the fact that 
the CFPB exists.'' The only reason the Trump administration would put 
Mr. Mulvaney forward for this position would be so that he can rot the 
agency from the inside.
  There is a clear pattern in this administration. Rather than trying 
to scrap agencies that the administration doesn't like--a tactic that 
would never fly with Congress or the American people, who know how 
important these agencies are--the administration will put in charge the 
people who will undermine them.
  To head the Environmental Protection Agency, the Trump administration 
chose an industry advocate who was against just about every advance in 
the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
  To head the Department of Energy, the Trump administration nominated 
someone who called for its abolishment.
  To head the Ex-Im Bank, which helps exports throughout this country--
new jobs--the Trump administration nominated someone who called for it 
to be disbanded.
  Mr. Mulvaney is only the latest in a long line of Trojan-horse 
candidates selected by the White House to undermine Federal agencies 
from within. The CFPB should be led by someone who believes in its 
mission, someone who is committed to working around the clock on behalf 
of consumers, not by a part-time Director who clearly disdains the 
agency. President Trump must nominate a permanent Director, and 
eventually that person will take charge of the agency, if confirmed. 
Whoever is nominated must have a demonstrated record of standing up on 
behalf of consumers. Former Director Cordray and Leandra English fit 
that mold. Mick Mulvaney certainly does not.
  For the interim, the law established under Dodd-Frank dictates that 
Ms.

[[Page S7322]]

English is the Acting Director of the CFPB. The White House should 
abandon any efforts to circumvent that succession process.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.


          Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Tax Reform

  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, the Senator from New York is my friend, 
and we have worked together on a number of occasions, but I must 
disagree with a number of things he said today.
  First of all, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was a partisan 
creation by Democrats during the Obama administration that had 
virtually no Republican support. What they did is that they created a 
modern-day emperor, somebody immune from congressional oversight and 
the appropriations process. Now that Mr. Cordray is leaving, following 
the election of a Republican President, they are taking exception to 
the fact that this President has the authority under the law to appoint 
his successor. Instead, they are insisting that somebody chosen by Mr. 
Cordray--this modern-day financial emperor--should be able to make a 
choice and foist that on this administration when, clearly, this 
administration was elected to office in part in response to the 
overreach of the previous Obama administration.
  This is a perfect example of how nimble my colleague can be with the 
facts. The fact is that he comes here and complains about the fact that 
this tax bill we will be taking up is not partisan enough for him, when 
Senate Democrats have made it clear that they don't want to do anything 
that would give any credit to this administration or the Republican 
majority.
  Rather than taking the opportunity to find common ground and govern, 
they, essentially, have taken up the resistance, leaving the results of 
the election last November basically unresolved, in their minds, at 
least, even though the American people have clearly moved on and expect 
this administration, which was elected to office, along with a 
Republican majority in the House and the Senate, to actually govern.
  I remember days and times when, after we had elections, we actually 
figured out that we needed to govern and weren't focused then on the 
next campaign. Apparently, our colleagues across the aisle have simply 
forgotten that. That is the bad news. The good news is that it is not 
too late for them to change their ways and join us and bring historic 
tax reform to the American people.
  This week, we will be considering the Senate's version--voted out of 
the Senate Finance Committee last Thursday night--of our Tax Cuts and 
Jobs Act, which is the first major overall of our Nation's Tax Code in 
more than 30 years. It cuts tax rates across the board, reducing the 
burden on American job creators and middle-class families alike.
  Under our proposal, it has been estimated that folks back in my home 
State of Texas will see more than 76,000 new jobs created. After-tax 
income for middle-class families should rise by nearly $2,600. Now, 
that may be chump change here inside the beltway; our friends across 
the aisle may turn their nose up and say: Who would want to do this for 
$2,600 additional tax savings. But I can tell you, my 28 million 
constituents in Texas don't believe that $2,600 in tax savings for a 
family of four is chump change. They think of that as ways to increase 
their take-home pay, improve their standard of living, prepare for 
retirement, and help their children go to college. That is what that 
means to them.
  This bill will also reduce the tax burden on small businesses and put 
American companies on a level playing field with their foreign 
competitors, ultimately growing our economy here at home.
  Ironically, we heard some of the same old tired rhetoric in the 
Finance Committee, where we were talking about corporate giveaways and 
things like that, only to remind our colleagues on the Senate Finance 
Committee that they themselves had proposed similar tax cuts for 
American businesses so they could get more competitive in an 
international global economy. We had to remind them, after they derided 
this idea that we would want to be more competitive in the global 
economy, that it was Barack Obama, in 2011, who called for Democrats 
and Republicans to come together to cut the corporate tax rate because 
it was the highest one in the world and it was causing businesses to 
invest abroad--indeed, to leave the United States to set up their 
headquarters abroad just to avoid the highest tax rate in the civilized 
world.
  There has been a lot of disinformation and misinformation out there, 
which I would like to take the opportunity to correct on a couple of 
accounts.
  One major reform we have included in the latest version of our tax 
reform bill is the repeal of ObamaCare's individual mandate. Make no 
mistake, the individual mandate penalty is literally a tax on low-
income Americans. It is a tax because Chief Justice Roberts and the 
U.S. Supreme Court called it a tax.
  Democrats have made two arguments: first, that repealing this mandate 
is a tax increase. Only in the parallel universe known as Washington, 
DC, would cutting the tax be called a tax increase. Second, they said 
the repeal kicks people off their insurance coverage, which is 
demonstrably not true.

  But let's start with the first argument, that the repeal somehow 
represents a tax increase on the poor. It is a pretty strange thing to 
say that eliminating a financial obligation simultaneously entails an 
additional fiscal burden; in other words, that a tax cut is really a 
tax increase. Only here in the parallel universe of Washington, DC, 
could that possibly be true. It defies all logic.
  What actually happens under our plan is that certain low-income 
individuals do get a tax cut. If they voluntarily decide not to buy 
ObamaCare coverage, they will receive an additional tax cut because 
they will no longer be penalized by their own government for failing to 
buy an insurance policy they can't afford. It is worth noting that, in 
2015, 80 percent of people paying the ObamaCare individual mandate tax 
made less than $50,000 each year. Eighty percent made less than 
$50,000.
  There were 6.7 million people in 2015 alone that paid this additional 
tax mandate because they couldn't afford to purchase the government-
mandated coverage. If the mandate is repealed, these folks would have 
more money to spend, and they will benefit from income tax rate 
reductions in addition. If our colleagues across the aisle would work 
with us, these same people would find more affordable coverage that 
suited their needs rather than have to buy a one-size-fits-all policy 
that prices them out of the market. But that is another story.
  The second ridiculous argument is one you may recall the minority 
leader saying shortly before Thanksgiving. He made the statement that 
we are kicking 13 million people off of their health insurance. But 
that is just not true, and it doesn't tell the whole story.
  First of all, no one is being kicked off of their health insurance 
coverage. Instead, people will no longer be fined by their own 
government for not buying government-approved health insurance. That is 
based on the correct view that people shouldn't be coerced by their 
very own government to buy something they may not want and can't 
afford. Like I said, in a more rational world, Democrats and 
Republicans would work together to come up with an alternative that 
would provide people with more choices at a better price.
  Democrats might say: Well, what about premiums? Will they not rise if 
the mandate is eliminated and people drop out of the market because of 
this problem? This is one of the problems created by the Affordable 
Care Act at its very beginning. But the issue of rising premiums is 
significant. A recent proposal offered by the senior Senator from 
Maine, Ms. Collins, along with Senators Alexander and Murray, would 
attempt to stabilize the health insurance marketplace. It would reduce 
the risk for insurance companies by providing funds to insurers for 
high-risk enrollees. Their bipartisan stabilization proposal would 
appropriate money for something called cost-sharing reduction 
subsidies, and these payments could provide short-term certainty to 
insurers and prevent premiums from rising. In fact, premiums would go 
down. It has been scored by

[[Page S7323]]

the Congressional Budget Office as reducing the deficit by $3.8 billion 
over the next 10 years. That is why this proposal deserves our serious 
consideration, and I hope we will turn to it following our debate and 
vote on the Senate's tax reform bill.
  Apart from the repeal of the mandate, there are other parts of the 
plan I would like to highlight. One involves another popular myth that 
certain provisions of our proposal are just disguised corporate 
welfare. I alluded a minute ago to the hypocrisy of some of our 
Democratic colleagues, claiming that this is corporate welfare or a 
giveaway, when they themselves supported a similar provision in 
previous proposals. This claim is completely and deliberately 
misleading. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out last week, the irony 
is that this bill would do more to stop corporate tax gaming than 
anything done by the Obama administration during the previous 8 years.
  First, if we cut corporate taxes, the incentive for companies to game 
the system and move capital, income, and intellectual property abroad 
is reduced. The bill institutes a territorial system that also includes 
so-called base erosion rules. These are safeguards against abuse that 
prevent companies from shifting domestic income through foreign 
affiliates to lower tax jurisdictions and then bringing the profits 
home without paying taxes.
  Our Senate bill would impose an effective 10 percent rate on 
intangible property of U.S. multinationals held overseas. That is on a 
one-time basis. In return, companies would be able to repatriate their 
future income from those places tax-free. In other words, they would be 
taxed once rather than twice. This lower rate will help to prevent the 
erosion of our corporate tax base and so will other provisions 
regarding patents and intellectual property, which will prevent the 
flight of intellectual property abroad and will entice foreign 
companies to move their patents to the United States, along with the 
associated economic activity and jobs. In sum, as I said earlier, this 
bill changes incentives, making it less likely that businesses will try 
to game the system and move capital to foreign, lower tax 
jurisdictions.
  We need to look at this proposal as a whole--not just one provision 
in isolation--because you can't judge the merit of the plan without 
considering it as a whole.
  Two days ago, we got a letter from nine world-class experts on tax 
policy and economics. They sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve 
Mnuchin. In that letter, they praised the plan's objectives to enhance 
the prospects of both increased economic growth and household incomes--
more take-home pay. Not only that, but they said that, based on their 
analysis, our plan is likely to achieve those objectives, too. The 
signatories include a former Treasury Secretary, as well as a former 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office and distinguished 
economists from Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford. I think that all agree 
with the bottom line, which is that the Senate bill cuts taxes for 
every income group and that it will increase economic growth and keep 
jobs and American companies here at home, all while making America more 
competitive.
  Those who argue otherwise, I think, are resigned to the status quo, 
which is a stagnant economy characterized by slow growth and wages that 
will never rise. That is what we have had for the last 11 years. Under 
no circumstances should we stand by idly and permit it to continue.
  Historically, the United States has seen growth of the economy hover 
around 3 percent since World War II, but right now it is roughly 1.9 
percent. What that slow economic growth means is fewer jobs, lower 
wages, and less competitiveness for the United States in the global 
economy. If we get back to 3 percent growth or higher, we can begin to 
solve multiple problems at once. For example, we can do something about 
our lackluster defense spending.
  It is something the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, 
Senator McCain, and others--including people like me and the Presiding 
Officer--care an awful lot about. We have simply tried again and again 
to cash the peace dividend when there is no peace, when, in the words 
of Gen. James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, he 
said: The array of threats is more profound than he has seen in 50 
years in the intelligence service of the United States. We can't spend 
the amount of money we need to keep America safe to fight our Nation's 
wars and to defend our shores at home unless we meet that need. We 
can't do it when our economy doesn't grow. Not only will economic 
opportunities increase for Americans of all stripes, we will also have 
additional revenue to address our national debt.
  If we can get our economy growing again, we can actually pay down 
that debt, but this debt is not a product of tax cuts and defense 
spending, as some would lead you to believe. It is a symptom of our 
inability to pass entitlement reform. In other words, we have a 
spending problem; we don't have an inadequate taxing problem.
  Indeed, during the 8 years of the Obama administration, when the 
national debt doubled, I didn't hear one peep out of our colleagues 
across the aisle on the national debt. It is refreshing to hear that 
they are concerned about that, once again, but we have a partial answer 
to that, which is getting the economy growing again so the Treasury 
will increase its returns, and we can begin to pay down some of those 
deficits and debt.
  To regain our standing in the world, we need to get our financial 
house in order. The first step is to pass this tax reform package, 
which will show our seriousness and determination in jump-starting our 
economy as a way to address our fiscal challenges.
  I hope our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me in 
supporting the Senate's version of this bill because America's future 
prosperity partially depends on our ability to get this done. What kind 
of country do we want? Do we want one that is vibrant and dynamic and 
full of energy or do we want one that simply putters along? A lot is on 
the line this week as we debate and vote on the Senate's tax reform 
bill.
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the 
Record the letter I referred to from nine prominent economists, which 
was published on November 26 in the Wall Street Journal, called: ``How 
Tax Reform Will Lift the Economy.''
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                  How Tax Reform Will Lift the Economy

[Editor's note: The following is a Nov. 25 letter to Treasury Secretary 
                            Steven Mnuchin]

       Dear Mr. Secretary:
       The present debate over tax reforms proposed by President 
     Trump's administration and embodied in bills that have passed 
     the House of Representatives and the Senate Finance Committee 
     has raised the basic question of whether the bills are ``pro-
     growth'': Would the proposals raise current and future 
     economic activity and generate federal tax revenue that would 
     reduce the ``static cost'' of the reforms? This letter 
     explains why we believe that the answer to these questions is 
     ``yes.''
       Economists generally think of fundamental tax reform as a 
     set of tax changes that reduces tax distortions on productive 
     activities (for example, business investment and work) and 
     broadens the tax base to reduce tax differences among 
     similarly situated businesses and individuals. Fundamental 
     tax reform should also advance the objectives of fairness and 
     simplification.
       The quest for such fundamental tax reform has been pursued 
     by policy makers and economists for decades. Examples include 
     the Tax Reform Act of 1986, proposals for reducing the double 
     taxation of corporate equity by the Treasury Department and 
     the American Law Institute (enacted in part in 2003), the 
     ``Growth and Investment Plan'' from President George W. 
     Bush's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform, and arguments 
     from President Obama's administration to lower corporate tax 
     rates. The proposals emerging from the House, Senate, and 
     President Trump's administration, fall squarely within this 
     tradition.


   Reducing Corporate Tax Rates, as Proposed, Will Increase Economic 
                                Activity

       While the overall House and Senate tax plans contain 
     numerous household and business provisions, we focus on the 
     corporate tax changes, returning to other provisions before 
     concluding. A key concept in this context is the ``user cost 
     of capital,'' which essentially measures the expected cost to 
     firms of making additional investments in equipment. A 
     considerable body of economic research concludes that 
     reductions in the user cost of capital raise output in the 
     short and long run. Several of the proposals that have 
     emerged in the current debate are key to lowering the user 
     cost of capital. For example, expensing, which allows firms 
     to deduct the full cost of investment at the time it is made, 
     lowers the user cost of capital relative to depreciation over 
     time. A lower corporate tax rate also lowers the user cost of

[[Page S7324]]

     capital, which not only induces U.S. firms to invest more, 
     but also makes it more attractive for both U.S. and foreign 
     multinational corporations to locate investment in the United 
     States.
       There is some uncertainty about just how much additional 
     investment is induced by reductions in the cost of capital, 
     but based on an extensive body of scholarly research, many 
     economists believe that a 10% reduction in the cost of 
     capital would lead to a 10% increase in the amount of 
     investment. Simultaneously reducing the corporate tax rate to 
     20% and moving to immediate expensing of equipment and 
     intangible investment would reduce the user cost by an 
     average of 15%, which would increase the demand for capital 
     by 15%. A conventional approach to economic modeling suggests 
     that such an increase in the capital stock would raise the 
     level of GDP in the long run by just over 4%. If achieved 
     over a decade, the associated increase in the annual rate of 
     GDP growth would be about 0.4% per year. Because the House 
     and Senate bills contemplate expensing only for five years, 
     the increase in capital accumulation would be less, and the 
     gain in the long-run level of GDP would be just over 3%, or 
     0.3% per year for a decade.
       Is this estimate of the growth effect realistic? According 
     to one leading model using an alternative framework, the 
     proposal would increase the U.S. capital stock by between 12% 
     and 19%, which would raise the level of GDP in the long run 
     by between 3% and 5%. Yet another model, this one used in the 
     analysis of the ``Growth and Investment Plan'' in the 2005 
     President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform, found that 
     a business cash-flow tax with expensing and a corporate tax 
     rate of 30% would yield a 20.4% increase in the capital stock 
     in the long run and a 4.8% increase in GDP in the long run. 
     More conservative estimates from the OECD suggest that 
     corporate tax changes alone would raise long-run GDP by 2%. 
     In short, there is a substantial body of research suggesting 
     that fundamental tax reform of the type being proposed would 
     have an important effect on long-run GDP. We view long-run 
     effects of about 3% assuming five years of full expensing, 
     and 4% assuming permanent full expensing, as reasonable 
     estimates.
       Another advantage of the corporate rate reduction embodied 
     in the House and Senate Finance bills is that it would lead 
     both U.S. and foreign firms to invest more in the United 
     States. In addition, U.S. multinational firms would face a 
     reduced incentive to shift profits abroad, which would raise 
     federal revenue, all else equal.
       In the foregoing analysis, we assumed a revenue-neutral 
     corporate tax change. Deficit financing of part of a 
     reduction in taxes increases federal debt and interest rates, 
     all else equal. For the House and Senate Finance bills, this 
     offset is likely to be modest, given that the United States 
     operates in an international capital market, which means that 
     the impact of changes in interest rates resulting from 
     greater investment demand and government borrowing are likely 
     to be relatively small.


 Lowering Individual Tax Rates Also Offers Generally Positive Economic 
                                Effects

       The House and Senate bills also contemplate a number of 
     individual tax provisions that can affect economic activity 
     and incomes. In recognition of the fact that non-corporate 
     business income is substantial in the United States, both 
     bills would reduce taxation of non-corporate business income 
     and increase the amount of capital expensing allowed. While 
     difficult to quantify, as the bills specify different 
     effective tax rates, these provisions would increase 
     investment and GDP above the level associated with the 
     corporate tax changes discussed above. Also on the individual 
     side, both the House and Senate bills reduce marginal tax 
     rates on labor income for most taxpayers, increasing the 
     reward for work. Increases in labor supply, in turn, increase 
     taxable income and tax revenues. One should note, however, 
     that some taxpayers would face increases in effective 
     marginal tax rates because of base-broadening features of the 
     bills, such as limits on the federal tax deductibility of 
     state and local income taxes. On balance, though, we believe 
     that the individual tax base broadening embodied in the 
     proposals would enhance economic efficiency by confronting 
     most households with lower marginal tax rates. In addition, 
     fairness would be served by reducing differences in the tax 
     treatment of individuals with similar incomes, and 
     simplification by reducing the number of individuals who 
     itemize for federal tax purposes.


  Confirming a Pro-Growth Objective Is Important for the Path Forward

       You have consistently stressed that the objective of tax 
     reform should be to enhance prospects for increased economic 
     growth and household incomes. We agree with this objective, 
     which is consistent with the traditional norms of public 
     finance going back to Adam Smith. We believe that the reforms 
     embodied in the House and Senate Finance bills would achieve 
     this objective. The increased growth, in turn, would lead to 
     greater taxable income and federal tax revenues, which would 
     reduce the static cost of lost federal tax revenue from the 
     reform.
       We hope these analytical points of support for the growth 
     effects of tax plans being discussed are useful to you and to 
     the Congress as you complete the important economic task of 
     fundamental tax reform. We would be happy to discuss our 
     conclusions with you at your convenience.
       Robert J. Barro, Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics, 
     Harvard University
       Michael J. Boskin, Tully M. Friedman Professor of 
     Economics, Stanford University; Chairman of the Council of 
     Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush
       John Cogan, Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow, Hoover 
     Institution, Stanford University; Deputy Director of the 
     Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan
       Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum, 
     former director of the Congressional Budget Office
       Glenn Hubbard, Dean and Russell L. Carson Professor of 
     Finance and Economics (Graduate School of Business) and 
     Professor of Economics (Arts and Sciences), Columbia 
     University; Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers 
     under President George W. Bush
       Lawrence B. Lindsey, President and Chief Executive Officer, 
     The Lindsey Group; Director of the National Economic Council 
     under President George W. Bush
       Harvey S. Rosen, John L. Weinberg Professor of Economics 
     and Business Policy, Princeton University; Chairman of the 
     Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush
       George P. Shultz, Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished 
     Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Secretary of 
     State under President Ronald Reagan, Secretary of the 
     Treasury under President Richard Nixon
       John. B. Taylor, Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of 
     Economics, Stanford University; Undersecretary of the 
     Treasury for International Affairs under President George W. 
     Bush

  Mr. CORNYN. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.


                             Net Neutrality

  Mr. MARKEY. Madam President, last year, Chairman Pai, of the Federal 
Communications Commission, threatened to take a weed whacker to the 
FCC's net neutrality rules. On December 14, Chairman Pai and the FCC 
are likely to make good on that promise. Last week, they issued their 
plan. They are quite proud of it. Chairman Pai is very proud of their 
plan. They got that done last week. Then, on December 14, they are 
going to execute their plan to execute the net neutrality rules of our 
country.
  Net neutrality applies the principles of nondiscrimination to the 
internet world, ensuring that broadband providers--America's internet 
gatekeepers--do not block, slow down, or prioritize internet traffic. 
In 2015, the FCC correctly adopted the open internet order, enshrining 
these net neutrality principles into law, but now net neutrality and 
the free and open internet--this diverse, dynamic, democratic 
platform--are under attack.
  Here is what Chairman Pai is proposing. No. 1, he would gut the rule 
against blocking. What does that mean? It means an internet service 
provider could block any website it wants. It could block something 
just because it decided to. That includes a website of a competing 
service or a website with a contrary political view. Whatever they 
want, they can block. The biggest companies--Comcast, AT&T--they can 
just block it.
  No. 2, Chairman Pai would gut the rule against throttling. What does 
that mean? That means the internet service provider could slow down any 
website it wants.
  No. 3, Chairman Pai would gut the rule banning paid prioritization. 
What does that mean in easy-to-understand language? That means the 
internet service provider could charge websites for an internet fast 
lane--meaning those websites would load quicker, while websites that 
can't afford the internet ``EZ pass'' would be stuck on a gravel path, 
taking more time to load and frustrating consumers with long buffering 
times.
  No. 4, Chairman Pai would gut the forward-looking general conduct 
rule. What does that mean in easy-to-understand language? That means 
whatever discriminatory conduct ISPs think of next in the coming months 
or years would be perfectly legal.
  No. 5, Chairman Pai would create an unregulated interconnection 
market. What does that mean, an unregulated interconnected market? In 
plain English, it means the Federal Communications Commission would 
lose authority to oversee places where the internet service providers 
connect to the internet and extract fees.
  No. 6, Chairman Pai would prevent States and localities from adopting 
their own net neutrality protections. If you live in Massachusetts or 
you live in California or you live in Alabama,

[[Page S7325]]

your State can't give you any protections. They can't say: Here's how 
we want the internet to be operating.
  What will replace these enforceable net neutrality rules? Nothing. 
Chairman Pai will leave it to the internet service providers--to the 
big companies we all subscribe to--to regulate themselves. We will just 
put them on the honor system. We know the broadband industry--your 
cable, your wireless or 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.
  What is Chairman Pai's silver lining in light of gutting all of these 
rules? He has proposed to keep some transparency rules, requiring the 
internet service providers--these broadband behemoths--to disclose 
their practices to consumers. What good is transparency when most 
Americans have little or no choice for high-speed broadband access? 
After all, 62 percent of Americans have one choice for high-speed fixed 
broadband. If a household's only choice for high-speed broadband is 
transparent about its plans to set up internet fast and slow lanes, the 
consumer has two choices: accept the internet provider's terms or live 
without the internet. That is not a real choice at all. People are not 
going to be living without the internet in the 21st century. You are 
going to pay whatever that company tells you, you are going to pay.
  It is clear that most Americans do not want what the FCC is 
proposing. A record number of people--over 22 million--made their 
voices heard at the FCC. Americans know the internet--the world's 
greatest platform for commerce and communications--is at stake. 
Consider that, today, essentially every company is an internet company. 
In 2016, almost half of the venture capital funds invested in this 
country went toward internet-specific and software companies. That is 
$25 billion of investment. To meet America's insatiable demand for 
broadband internet, U.S. broadband and telecommunications industry 
companies invested more than $87 billion in capital expenditures in 
2015. That is the highest rate of annual investment in the last 10 
years.
  We have hit the sweet spot. Investment in broadband and wireless 
technologies is high. Job creation is high. Venture capital investment 
in online startups is high. With these net neutrality protections in 
place, there is no problem that needs fixing, but under Chairman Pai's 
plan, broadband providers get exactly what they want--an unregulated 
Wild West where they can set up internet fast and slow lanes.
  Chairman Pai proposes to have the FCC completely abdicate its 
rightful role to oversee telecommunications networks under title II of 
the Communications Act. Chairman Pai claims that the FTC--the Federal 
Trade Commission--provides a sufficient backstop to discriminatory 
behavior by the big broadband companies. That is simply not true.
  Under the Federal Trade Commission regime, the big broadband barons 
would establish their own net neutrality policies, and if the internet 
service provider wants to block websites, slow down the competitors' 
content, or charge innovators and entrepreneurs to reach their 
customers, they will be free to do so. That is because the Federal 
Trade Commission can only step in if a broadband provider violates its 
own net neutrality policies, but what if the internet service provider 
has a written policy that charges websites for internet fast lanes? 
There is nothing the Federal Trade Commission can do about it because 
the broadband baron told you what they are going to do. They were 
transparent about what they were going to do, but you just have no 
recourse whatsoever going to the Federal Trade Commission. It is a 
false promise of protection that Chairman Pai is presenting.
  The only way to protect a free and open internet is with strong net 
neutrality rules of the road, not voluntary guidelines. Chairman Pai's 
proposal would put the future of a free and open internet in the hands 
of big corporations and the powerful few at the expense of ordinary 
consumers all across our country. Our consumers will be tipped upside 
down and have money shaken out of their pockets because they will not 
have the protection of net neutrality provisions that are now the law 
but are soon to be wiped off of the law.
  The Trump administration is waging an all-out assault on our core 
protections: the Affordable Care Act, the Paris climate accord, the 
Clean Power Plan. Now Trump's Federal Communications Commission has net 
neutrality in their sights. For all of those who rely on the free and 
open internet--whether it is for commerce, education, healthcare, 
entertainment--I urge you all to rise up and create a firestorm of 
opposition to this assault on net neutrality. This goes to the 
fundamental principles of nondiscrimination online. This is the 
greatest engine for commercial job development our country has ever 
seen. It is the engine for new companies to be started. It is the way 
in which young people are able to disrupt established companies, to 
take new concepts that create jobs but also benefit consumers across 
our country. That is the opportunity this represents, and it is also a 
powerful force for democracy, for everyone's voice being heard equally. 
That is what net neutrality is about. That is what the Trump-Chairman 
Pai Federal Communications Commission is about to end, and that is why 
we must fight. That is why I am so proud to be standing as part of this 
effort with our great ranking member of the Commerce Committee, Senator 
Bill Nelson from the State of Florida, because this is a fight worth 
having.
  I yield the remainder of my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. NELSON. Madam President, one cannot say it much better than the 
Senator from Massachusetts has said it. Everyone has come to expect a 
free and open internet--one that does not charge more for certain 
content and charge less for favorite content. It is supposed to be 
free. It is supposed to be open. It should be balanced. Hopefully, 
since it seems that the Pai regime is, in fact, going down this road, 
there will be immediate lawsuits that will be very time-consuming. At 
the end of the day, sometime in the future, there may be an opportunity 
for a legislative solution, but it has to be a balanced solution that 
protects the right of the public to a free and open internet.


                      Puerto Rico Recovery Effort

  Madam President, I want to discuss another issue.
  What do you think it would be like to be in your home for 3 months 
without electricity when all of your home appliances and all of your 
daily routines have been built around the fact that electricity has 
provided the power to run your home in the way that you would expect?
  Do you know that half of the people of Puerto Rico, 3 months after 
Hurricane Maria, still do not have electricity? Is it any wonder that 
160,000 people--our fellow citizens from Puerto Rico--have now chosen 
to get on an airplane and go to the State of Florida? Is it any stretch 
of the imagination that there will not be hundreds of thousands more? 
They see a land that was devastated by a category 4 hurricane--that 
verged on a category 5--and that covered the entire island, with remote 
parts of the island having been completely cut off for 2\1/2\ weeks 
from transportation to get there, except by air, like the town of 
Utuado, which is up in the mountains, that I visited shortly after the 
hurricane.
  Is it any wonder that people like them are now being very creative 
and very inventive? There are neighbors helping neighbors. They are all 
coming together. But they have been without electricity for such a long 
period of time that the opportunities for jobs are drying up, 
businesses cannot open, and commerce has slowed. With a $250 plane 
ticket, in 2 hours they can be in Florida, and, indeed, that is what 
has happened--160,000, as of now, just to Florida. How many have gone 
to New York and to other States? We do not have that calculation, but 
we expect several hundred thousand more to go.
  For all who come here, the island of Puerto Rico is their home. They 
want to return, but is there going to be a quick resumption of 
business? In its contracting through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 
is FEMA going to get the electricity back up? Are there

[[Page S7326]]

going to be jobs? Are we going to change the tax law so that Puerto 
Rico does, in fact, have the incentives that it used to have in the 
past that had taken pharmaceutical companies there and rum companies 
there? A lot of those tax incentives have gone away, and we ought to be 
considering that in this tax bill. We ought to be considering the long-
term cost that it is going to take to help restore the island. Until 
that is done, what do you think people have done? This is exactly what 
they have done, and they are going to continue to come.
  As a result, we have a different problem in a State in which so many 
of their families already live and where they have been living with 
relatives. Now it is time for them to be able to have their own 
families and their own places to live. Yet we do not have the 
provisions in order to give them the financial support to be able to 
afford housing. Suppose 300,000 Puerto Ricans go to Florida alone. Do 
they have the money? Are they able to get jobs right away so that they 
will have the money for housing? That is why we are going to have to 
have financial incentives.
  That is why, in a bill that was filed last week by this Senator, 
along with several others, there is a provision--if we can pass this 
legislation--for HUD, or the Department of Housing and Urban 
Development, to have the financial wherewithal to then supply housing 
needs, many times through subsidized housing, in the case of an 
incident like this hurricane, in which an emergency has occurred and 
has caused a huge dislocation of people to another State.
  Since it is going to be hard to get legislation like this passed in a 
timely fashion and the need is desperate right now and since the last 
supplemental emergency appropriation for all of the hurricanes did not 
include the housing part for the ones who are going to Florida, in the 
meantime, in this next supplemental that will come just before 
Christmas--emergency supplemental funding--we will need to provide 
that.
  Then the question will be this: Where, for example, in Central 
Florida--in the Orlando metro area--will they actually be able to find 
housing that will be available without their having to drive hundreds 
of miles to find housing that will be affordable, even with additional 
assistance? The people who can work this problem out are in the local 
governments. They are the ones who know best the situation.
  As we get ready before Christmas for a final appropriations bill with 
emergency supplemental funding because of all of the hurricanes, which, 
indeed, will come--it will just be the next installment of many 
installments to come in the new year--let us remember that housing is 
going to be critical for a huge number of people who have been 
dislocated and have to strike out and find new lives, new jobs, and new 
places to call home, which clearly means that they will have to have 
places to call home, and those are places to live--housing. It is an 
urgent need, and it is one that is critical. This Congress has to face 
it before the holidays.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Moran). The Senator from Ohio.


                               Healthcare

  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, right now, as we all return from 
Thanksgiving--some of the American people did not have to work over 
Thanksgiving weekend, but many, many people in this country do and 
struggle and continue to work two jobs--and as Congress returns from 
Thanksgiving, the priorities of this Congress are becoming pretty 
darned clear to the American people. People want to know the answer to 
a fundamental question. In this body we all stand up for election every 
6 years--in some cases, a little more often--and people fundamentally 
want to know which side you are on. Are you on their side? Are you on 
the side of Wall Street or the side of corporations that outsource 
jobs?
  So the question is this: Whose side are you on? The question is this: 
Are you going to stand with multinational corporations that ship jobs 
overseas, all to pad their own executives' fat bonus checks? Are you 
going to stand with banks that rip off consumers or that steal their 
information and get off scot-free? Maybe some of their executives give 
their bonuses back, but that is about the only penalty they pay. Are 
you going to stand with American workers who have been working too hard 
for too long for too little pay and who are just looking to catch a 
break? Are you going to stand with children whose parents work two jobs 
to put food on the table when, unfortunately, both jobs that they work 
do not pay for health insurance? These are the choices we face.
  Right now, the leader of the Senate--the majority leader, who works 
in that office down the hall, the majority leader back in that office 
there--negotiates with lobbyists, negotiates healthcare bills, and 
writes healthcare bills in the back room with drug company lobbyists 
and insurance lobbyists. Now he has written a tax bill in the back 
room. We voted on it last week in committee, but it just keeps 
changing. That is all done in the back room with Senator McConnell, the 
Republican leader, and his lobbyist friends from corporate America--
with the corporate America that ships jobs overseas, with the Wall 
Street banks that fleece Main Street taxpayers, and with other 
corporations, which are the drug companies and oil companies and the 
Koch brothers and all of that. These are the choices that we face. The 
leaders of the Senate have made it really clear whose side they are 
on--period.
  While the Senate spends its time on a bill to cut taxes for 
corporations that send jobs overseas--that is the bill that Senator 
McConnell is negotiating, is writing, is drafting with his lobbyist 
friends in that office down the hall--children here in America, pure 
and simple--there is no other way to say it--are about to be kicked off 
of their health insurance through the Children's Health Insurance 
Program. As soon as this week, families of young children are going to 
get letters in the mail that will bring devastating news--that their 
children will lose their health insurance--period. There are 209,000 of 
them who live in my State of Ohio--209,000 of them alone.
  This is what this program is. It was founded more than two decades 
ago. Senator Hatch--I give him credit as chairman of the Finance 
Committee--doesn't seem as interested, frankly, in this bill today as 
he was when he started, when he wrote the bill, because it has passed 
out of his committee, and Senator McConnell is too busy to put this 
bill on the floor so that we can pass it.
  The bill works this way: If there is a family and the parents lose 
their insurance, as many families do, the children still get insurance. 
That is why 209,000 children--tens of thousands of families in my 
State--rely on the Children's Health Insurance Program. But this fall, 
because this Congress is too busy giving tax cuts to rich people, 
because this Congress is too busy giving all kinds of breaks to the 
Nation's banks, because this Congress is too busy doing the bidding of 
the drug companies and the health insurance companies and the bidding 
of the oil companies, this Congress let CHIP expire.

  States are beginning to run out of money for CHIP. States are 
preparing to shut down this lifeline for 9 million children in Kansas, 
Ohio, Florida, and all over the country. Folks in this body--don't 
forget, we all get our health insurance funded by taxpayers, but we 
haven't done our job. As a result, families of 209,000 children in Ohio 
and 9 million children in the United States are going to pay the price.
  Think about how devastating it would be to get that letter in the 
mail. It is already an expensive and stressful time of year. Parents 
are worried about all kinds of things--higher heating bills, visits to 
their families for the holidays, the cost of childcare when kids take 
off from school for the holidays. They are scraping together what they 
can for gifts. They are already stressed enough. Imagine having to tell 
your daughter: I am sorry, honey, Santa probably isn't bringing much 
this year. We won't have any presents under the tree.
  You try not to let the child see the worry in your eyes because you 
are wondering how you are going to afford the debt for regular checkups 
each year, or God forbid she gets an ear infection or something happens 
and she needs to go to the doctor. But, oh my gosh, no, we got this 
letter in the mail that says--and I don't know if the letter will say 
it this way, but it should--that because Congress failed to do its 
job--a bunch of elected officials who have insurance paid by taxpayers 
failed

[[Page S7327]]

to do their job to reauthorize and fund this bill so that 209,000 
children in Ohio will be protected, as well as 9 million people in the 
country--Ohio, Arizona, California, Minnesota, and Oregon are all 
expected to run out of CHIP money by the end of the year, early 
January. Some States will need to start notifying families right now 
that they could lose their coverage. Virginia will have to start 
sending out notices as early as this week. Many other States expect 
funds to run out the first of the year.
  This is not just a few children whom maybe we don't want to think 
about; this is 9 million children--209,000 children in my State, tens 
of thousands of children in Kansas, and it is hundreds of thousands of 
children in Senator Nelson's Florida. These are working families who 
don't qualify for Medicaid but can't afford private insurance. They are 
families with two working parents who often aren't lucky enough to work 
for companies that provide health insurance. They are families with 
children who have special needs. CHIP helps provide access to specialty 
providers so the kids are never faced with a situation where their 
family can't afford the therapy or the expensive prescription drugs 
they need.
  Healthcare for all of our children is something on which we ought to 
be able to come together, wouldn't you think--especially at the holiday 
season. Leading into Christmas, wouldn't you think we could agree on 
that, that we ought to take care of the Children's Health Insurance 
Program?
  There has never been a gap for funding in the CHIP program. It was 
created in a bipartisan way. Senator Kennedy, who sat over here, 
Senator Rockefeller, who sat over here, and Senator Hatch, who is still 
in this body, all worked to create this program.
  In those days, Senator Hatch said: ``As a nation, as a society, we 
have a moral responsibility'' to ensure our children have healthcare. 
We have maintained that bipartisanship ever since, until now--until 
Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell, who would rather worry about tax 
cuts for the rich, would rather worry about helping banks keep 
consumers from having their day in court, would rather worry about 
helping the Koch brothers and the drug companies. That is way more 
important than taking care of 209,000 children in Ohio. I guess it is 
more important for Senator McConnell to go back in that room and write 
a bill with his lobbyist friends from the Koch brothers, oil companies, 
drug companies, and Wall Street--all his special interest buddies. He 
can write a bill for those big tax breaks for those companies but just 
not get around to taking care of these kids.
  Two years ago, with the support of advocates all over the country, we 
extended funding for CHIP with bipartisan support. We did it for 2 more 
years. We put kids first in this body, acted early to extend CHIP so 
families wouldn't have to worry. This year, in committee--and I give 
credit to Senator Hatch in this case, as well as Senators Portman, 
Wyden, and others. We passed a 5-year extension of CHIP, and almost all 
my colleagues voted for it, but passing it out of committee and patting 
ourselves on the back doesn't get the job done.
  I ask all my colleagues who sit here--again, with health insurance 
paid for by taxpayers--for one time this Christmas season to set 
partisanship aside and actually do the right thing. Let's forget the 
tax bill for just a few days. Let's forget helping the Wall Street 
banks for a few days. Let's forget about helping the oil companies and 
billionaire contributors on whom Senator McConnell and his colleagues 
rely. Let's forget about that just for a few days, and let's take care 
of 209,000 children in Ohio and tens of thousands of children in Kansas 
and 9 million children around the country.
  My friend Bill Considine is the CEO of Akron Children's Hospital. He 
is the longest serving CEO of any children's hospital in the country. 
He said: ``The fact that this reauthorization has been delayed for 
political reasons, for shallow campaign promises, is inexcusable.'' I 
have known Bill Considine for 25 years. I don't know if he is a 
Republican or a Democrat. Certainly, I don't think he cares much about 
that. What he cares about is taking care of kids. He says that the fact 
that we are putting these children and families at risk in the country 
we live in--there are no words we can use to justify it. He is right. 
There is no way to justify Congress's negligence. We need to 
reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program this week--now.


                  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

  Mr. President, another test we face right now to make it clear to the 
American people whose side we are on is unfolding at the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau. Our job is to look out for the people we 
serve, not Wall Street banks and corporations trying to scam consumers. 
That is why we must protect the independence of the Consumer Financial 
Protection Bureau.
  In 2008, when the big banks crashed the economy, which cost millions 
of Americans their homes and jobs, it was obvious that no one was 
looking out for the public. While predatory lenders were getting rich 
on families who were taking out a second mortgage to make ends meet, 
the people who were supposed to be looking out for those families were 
asleep at the switch. That is why we passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street 
reform law and created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with 
one mission: to protect consumers, to stand up for bank customers, 
homeowners, servicemembers and veterans, student loan borrowers and 
seniors, and all the millions of Americans who, when it comes to the 
financial marketplace, need somebody on their side.
  With these transactions that people do in an increasingly complex 
financial world, with all the fine print and all the documents people 
sign to buy a home or get a credit card or sign up for an account with 
a bank or insurance company, the public needs somebody on their side. 
They need someone to look out for them who is not obedient to the Wall 
Street bottom line.
  Some in this body have tried to roll back the Dodd-Frank rules that 
protect taxpayers and homeowners from Wall Street abuses. It is all the 
more important that Americans have a strong, independent consumer 
protection bureau on their side.
  The Bureau's actions have resulted in $12 billion in relief for more 
than 29 million American consumers who had been ripped off by debt 
collectors, for-profit colleges, and payday lenders. Some were cheated 
by almost iconic American companies, such as Wells Fargo and Equifax.
  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a special Office of 
Servicemember Affairs run by Holly Petraeus. They took on the payday 
lenders and car title lenders that targeted servicemembers on military 
bases across the country. I know firsthand. I know up close how they do 
that. At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base--the largest single site 
employer in the State of Ohio, near Dayton--the predators, payday 
lenders, and financial service predators set up shop right outside the 
base. They can't set up shop on the base. They prey on people who are a 
little less sophisticated financially. They don't have a lot of money, 
they are young, and in many cases, they are servicemembers who aren't 
paid very well and are already struggling. For somebody who is 
overseas--they prey on the spouse when the person is overseas. They 
prey on them, and when they are overseas, they prey on their families.
  Even Sheila Bair, a former George W. Bush appointee, was on TV this 
morning talking about how important this agency's work is to working 
families.
  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been able to do all this 
because it is not beholden to Wall Street, special interests, and is 
not beholden to the people in this body. It is strong because it is 
independent.
  The people in this body who want to take away the CFPB say that it is 
a bureaucracy that is not accountable to anybody. Do you know what they 
mean? When I hear my friends in the Banking Committee say that the 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not accountable to anybody, 
what do they mean? They mean the banks can't influence them, the big 
Wall Street officials can't influence them, the Members of Congress who 
shill for the banks can't influence them, and the Members of Congress 
who front for the big Wall Street firms can't influence them. That is 
what they mean when they say it is not accountable. The Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau

[[Page S7328]]

is accountable to the public. It is accountable to the people who get 
hurt by some of these financial transactions.
  A couple of weeks ago, the administration sent the Vice President 
down here under the cover of night. We know that when the Vice 
President comes down here to the Senate floor, it is about to be a 
victory for Wall Street, and that is what happened. The Vice President 
came here to the Senate floor under the cover of night to overturn a 
consumer bureau rule that would have guaranteed that hard-working 
Americans get their day in court when cheated by a big bank. The Vice 
President comes in and breaks a tie, and consumers lose, but Wall 
Street wins. Wall Street is indebted to this Vice President.
  Now the administration ignores the law and hands over the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau to a person who doesn't even think it 
should exist. The man they want running this consumer watchdog bureau 
has said that the agency ``is a sick, sad joke.'' He voted to repeal 
it.
  I guess that is why he thinks he could do this job part time. The 
President sent a member of his Cabinet who already has a full-time job 
at the Office of Management and Budget to also run the consumer bureau 
at the same time. I have never heard of anything quite like that, but 
he is a reliable Wall Street crony who will do the bidding for Wall 
Street and do everything he can if he gets the chance to undercut it.
  When he says it is a sick, sad joke, it is no joke to the people who 
have been cheated by Wall Street. It is no joke to the tens of 
thousands of servicemembers who rely on the consumer bureau to fight 
for them against bankruptcy. Think about that. Think about these banks 
that prey on servicemembers--19, 20, 25-year-old men and women who are 
serving their country. Some of them are overseas. Their spouses are 
raising the kids, struggling every day on a servicemember's pay. The 
banks have abused them. Who stood up for them? It wasn't Members of 
Congress who stood up for them; it was the Consumer Financial 
Protection Bureau. That is why they are there. It was no joke to the 29 
million American consumers who have money in their pockets now because 
the consumer bureau stood by them. It is no joke that in his first act 
today, Mulvaney says he wants to put an end to payments to working 
families who have been cheated by banks and financial institutions.
  We need this agency to be able to continue its work fighting back 
against Wall Street abuses and fighting for the American people. 
Americans need a full-time cop on the beat with a proven track record 
of fighting for them, not a part-time Director who has another job in 
the President's Cabinet--who ever heard of such a thing?--especially 
since that part-time Director had a reputation when he was in Congress 
down the hall. Now that he is in the President's Cabinet, he has a 
record of working for Wall Street.
  In 2016, Candidate Trump said: ``[T]his election is a choice between 
taking our government back from the special interests or surrendering 
our last scrap of independence to their total and complete control.'' 
If President Trump wants to keep that promise, he should take his own 
advice. He should allow the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to 
carry out its mission to protect American consumers, free of Wall 
Street special interests. You don't drain the swamp by putting a toady 
from Wall Street into the consumer bureau to do the bidding of Wall 
Street. It is pretty darn simple.
  The President has a chance to stand beside the American people. He 
told us last year that he would drain the swamp, stand up to special 
interest groups, and that he would punish Wall Street if Wall Street 
overreached. He should keep that promise. He should allow the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau to continue doing its work.
  Anyone who stands on the side of hard-working Americans should make 
it clear that they support Deputy Director English as the Acting 
Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It is about whose 
side you are on. Are you on the side of Wall Street? Are you on the 
side of the special interests writing tax-cuts-for-the-rich bills in 
the majority leader's office? Are you for Main Street? Are you for 
hard-working Americans who show up to work every day and just want an 
even break and a chance in this country?
  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. BROWN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the question is, 
Will the Senate advise and consent to the Friedrich nomination?
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  The result was announced--yeas 97, nays 3, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 281 Ex.]

                                YEAS--97

     Alexander
     Baldwin
     Barrasso
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Blunt
     Booker
     Boozman
     Brown
     Burr
     Cantwell
     Capito
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Cassidy
     Cochran
     Collins
     Coons
     Corker
     Cornyn
     Cortez Masto
     Cotton
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Daines
     Donnelly
     Duckworth
     Durbin
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Feinstein
     Fischer
     Flake
     Franken
     Gardner
     Graham
     Grassley
     Harris
     Hassan
     Hatch
     Heinrich
     Heitkamp
     Heller
     Hirono
     Hoeven
     Inhofe
     Isakson
     Johnson
     Kaine
     Kennedy
     King
     Klobuchar
     Lankford
     Leahy
     Lee
     Manchin
     Markey
     McCain
     McCaskill
     McConnell
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Moran
     Murkowski
     Murphy
     Murray
     Nelson
     Paul
     Perdue
     Peters
     Portman
     Reed
     Risch
     Roberts
     Rounds
     Rubio
     Sasse
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Scott
     Shaheen
     Shelby
     Stabenow
     Strange
     Sullivan
     Tester
     Thune
     Tillis
     Toomey
     Udall
     Van Hollen
     Warner
     Whitehouse
     Wicker
     Wyden
     Young

                                NAYS--3

     Gillibrand
     Sanders
     Warren
  The nomination was confirmed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Strange). 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.

                          ____________________