(Senate - February 15, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 27 (Wednesday, February 15, 2017)]
[Pages S1175-S1216]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                     EXECUTIVE CALENDAR--Continued

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, earlier today the Senate moved forward 
with the President's nominee to head up the Office of Management and 
Budget, Congressman Mulvaney. Congressman Mulvaney spent years 
representing the people of South Carolina and has been thoroughly 
engaged on budget issues during his time in the House of 
  He has highlighted the fact that the Federal Government is on an 
unsustainable fiscal path if nothing changes in Washington, DC, and 
that it is reckless to keep running up the Nation's credit card with 
trillions in more debt and unfunded liabilities, not to mention the 
immorality of passing down to the next generation the obligation of 
actually paying that money back.
  So Congressman Mulvaney is actually, I think, a very good choice for 
this critical role, and I look forward to voting on his confirmation 


  Mr. President, I want to weigh in briefly on the issue of trade. 
During the Presidential campaign and since then, there has been a lot 
of talk about international trade. It has led to a healthy debate about 
lopsided trade deals--whether bilateral trade deals or multinational 
trade deals actually are better--and how best to leverage trade to help 
American workers and consumers.
  In my State of Texas, there is no question trade delivers in two 
ways. One, it helps Texas families stretch their paychecks by providing 
greater access to more affordable goods. That is a good thing. And two, 
it helps our farmers, our ranchers, our small businesses, and other 
manufacturers access more customers around the world.
  Texas continues to lead the Nation as the top exporting State, and it 
has done so for about a decade now. It is one reason our economy has 
done better than the national economy in recent years. And it is 
estimated that Texas trade supports more than 1 million jobs currently.
  But it is important to understand that our economic partnership with 
Mexico has been a key part of that success, and that is thanks, in 
part, to the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, the trade 
deal between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
  Our southern neighbor is our largest export market, with more than 
one-third of all Texas goods--including ag products and manufactured 
goods, to the tune of close to $92 billion a year--heading south of our 
border because of NAFTA and trade. Well, this may not be universally 
true around the country, but suffice it to say that in Texas, NAFTA has 
been a big success for our economy. And because Texas has been leading 
the Nation in terms of economic growth and job creation, I think it is 
fair to say that it has helped the Nation as a whole not recede into a 
recession with the anemic growth rates that we have seen since 2008.
  It is not just that my State benefits from the deal. The agriculture 
industry across the country benefits greatly. Mexico is one of the 
biggest buyers of crops grown in the United States, like corn. In fact, 
Mexico is the third biggest export market for American agriculture.
  NAFTA is not just critical to my State, but for those far away from 
the southern border, as well, like Ohio and Michigan, which export a 
majority of their goods to NAFTA partners. I think it is important to 
acknowledge the fact that roughly 6 million jobs in the United States 
depend on bilateral trade with Mexico.
  But here is the truth: The world looks a lot different today than it 
did 20 years ago when NAFTA was negotiated, and there is ample 
opportunity to work with our partners to craft a better deal for the 
United States. We can update it to be even more constructive and an 
even bigger driver of the U.S. economy.
  Trade is essential to our economy, and I believe the administration 
agrees with me on that. In my conversations with Mr. Ross, who will 
head up the Department of Commerce, and others--the trade negotiator 
and the like--they all tell me that this administration is pro-trade, 
although they are skeptical of large multinational trade deals like the 
Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  We have also recently heard the President himself talk about the 
importance of our relationships with countries like Canada and Japan. 
During the visits of the Prime Ministers of

[[Page S1176]]

each of those countries in the last week, with both heads of State, the 
administration continues to stress the importance of robust trading 
partnerships. And the President has made it clear that he supports 
  I believe that good trade deals help everyone, so I want to be clear 
that the United States is not retreating from the global economy, as if 
we even could. With more than 95 percent of the world's consumers 
outside of our borders, our citizens rely too much on free trade and 
fair trade to turn inward and retreat.
  Texas certainly proves that trade deals can help everyone from 
manufacturers to farmers, to small businesses, all of whom find more 
markets for the goods they make or grow. That, in turn, creates more 
jobs and provides greater access to more goods for consumers. And it is 
a good example for the broader U.S. economy as well.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I rise in strong opposition to the 
nomination of Congressman Mick Mulvaney to be the Director of the 
Office of Management and Budget. Based on his appearance before the 
Senate Budget and Homeland Security Governmental Affairs Committees, he 
appears to be a smart and articulate individual, but after examining 
his record and his testimony, I believe he lacks the fundamental 
judgment to serve in this important role.
  Mr. Mulvaney's tenure as a Member of Congress has been marked by 
symbolic stands and stunts that have been most successful in generating 
bipartisan opposition rather than support. Until now, it has mattered 
little whether his proposals have been motivated by firmly held 
principles or other motives. We have just been fortunate that few of 
Mr. Mulvaney's ideas have been made into law. However, with an 
appointment to a position of real authority at OMB, Mr. Mulvaney will 
have great power to put his ideas into practice. For that reason, it is 
worth reflecting on the positions he has taken.
  At times of national fiscal and economic turmoil, Congressman 
Mulvaney could consistently be found among those stoking the flames of 
pandemonium in order to advance a partisan or ideological point. 
Indeed, he was among those Republican Members of Congress who cheered 
efforts to force the country to default on our financial obligations in 
2011, dismissing the domestic and global alarm over Republican 
brinkmanship as ``fear mongering'' and as promoting a ``fabricated 
  In 2013, he voted to support the Republican shutdown of the Federal 
Government, which ultimately cost American taxpayers $2 billion in back 
wages for Federal workers who were locked out of their jobs. In 
addition to this and other fiscal waste, the 16-day shutdown hurt the 
economy. Moody's estimated that it ``cut real GDP by $20 billion, 
shaving half a percentage point off growth in the fourth quarter [of 
  In 2015, Mr. Mulvaney was part of another Republican shutdown effort. 
This time it was to shutter the Department of Homeland Security to 
protest President Obama's immigration policy. Thankfully, House 
Republicans relented before the shutdown took effect. Otherwise, the 
closure would have caused about 30,000 furloughs and about 200,000 
other people, including Coast Guard personnel, TSA, ICE, Border Patrol 
and Customs officers, to report to work, most of them without the 
promise of a paycheck.
  When Americans have suffered natural disasters, Mr. Mulvaney has 
shown himself among those who are the least sympathetic about providing 
Federal assistance, insisting, for example, that emergency aid for the 
victims of Hurricane Sandy should be offset. He has at least been 
consistent in this regard, since he voted against similar aid to his 
home State of South Carolina. Of course, his opposition in that 
instance was mainly symbolic because it was a foregone conclusion that 
the bill would pass. But this should give every American pause. Mr. 
Mulvaney's record of supporting brinkmanship and his responses to 
written questions show that his first instinct will be to use any one-
time emergency as an opportunity to force lasting budgetary cuts.
  I am also concerned about Mr. Mulvaney's intentions with regard to 
the elimination of the sequester-level budget caps. In 2013, with 
sequester cuts on the horizon, Mr. Mulvaney ruled out revenue increases 
or scaling back the sequester. He said: ``We want to keep the sequester 
in place and take the cuts we can get.''
  As the nominee to OMB director, Mr. Mulvaney now believes, like 
President Trump, that the sequester caps should be lifted for defense, 
but he has made no allowance for nondefense discretionary programs and 
agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. 
Mr. Mulvaney has thus far failed to grasp that there is simply no way 
to secure support for sequester relief without addressing both the 
defense and nondefense sides of the ledger. Moreover, he has not 
recognized that it is repugnant to many to suggest that one side of the 
budget can be cannibalized to fund the other side. The best way to fund 
sequester relief is through the proven combination of additional 
revenue and reasonable cuts. It has worked before, and we should look 
to that solution again.
  We should also reject efforts to use Overseas Contingency Operations 
accounts, or OCO funding, to fill the gap when it comes to defense 
spending. It is not a legitimate tool to fix the sequester. Despite my 
many disagreements with Mr. Mulvaney, this is one point where we do 
appear to see roughly eye to eye in terms of using the OCO for those 
overseas contingencies they were designed to fund.
  Where we disagree most vehemently is on the matter of core programs 
that help Americans lift themselves up so they can participate fully in 
our economy and society. Although he has recently changed his position, 
Mr. Mulvaney, as a State legislator, voted for legislation that 
questioned the constitutionality of Medicaid and Social Security, and 
today he still questions the constitutionality of Federal involvement 
in education. This is more than a philosophical stand. His position 
will color how the administration invests in schools and students over 
the next 4 years. I am especially disturbed that Mr. Mulvaney is not 
even willing to commit to protecting funding for the Pell Grant Program 
and to reducing college debt, a burden faced by students and their 
families all across this country.

  I have also been disturbed by Mr. Mulvaney's cavalier position about 
benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare, by such measures as 
increasing the retirement age. Let's be clear. When you force a person 
to wait 2 or 3 more years to begin collecting the full benefits they 
have earned, it is a cut. If poor health or lack of job prospects 
forces a person to begin collecting benefits before reaching the normal 
retirement age, he or she will see a significant reduction in monthly 
  These cuts fall heaviest on the most vulnerable--low-income workers 
and workers in the most physically demanding jobs, those who simply 
cannot continue to work for another few years. We can make changes to 
sustain these programs without the deep cuts to benefits that Mr. 
Mulvaney would promote.
  In this one area, I would hope the President could prevail over his 
staff. Many times during the campaign, President Trump promised to 
protect Social Security and Medicare. In fact, last March he said: 
``It's my absolute intention to leave Social Security the way it is. 
Not increase the age and to leave it as it is.''
  It remains to be seen how sincere the President is on this issue. 
Last month, he was effectively rebuffed by 49 Republicans who voted 
successfully to kill Senator Sanders' amendment to create a point of 
order that would prevent the Senate from breaking President Trump's 
promise that ``there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and 
  Unfortunately, the President said nothing about this vote, which 
should lead all Americans to ask how committed he is to his promise. 
His choice of Mr. Mulvaney also leaves me concerned that he is not 
sincere about this

[[Page S1177]]

promise, since Mr. Mulvaney seems clearly intent on making cuts to 
these vital programs.
  Mr. Mulvaney has also proven himself unsympathetic to the challenges 
facing working men and women in this country. He has sponsored 
legislation to bar the Federal Government from requiring project labor 
agreements. He has voted to repeal Davis-Bacon prevailing wage 
requirements, and he has cosponsored legislation to undermine the 
ability of workers to collectively bargain.
  Moreover, Mr. Mulvaney failed to pay more than $15,000 in 
unemployment and FICA taxes for a household employee between 2000 and 
2004, only making good on that obligation during his nomination 
process. Even if this could be characterized as an oversight, it is 
worth noting that Mr. Mulvaney has previously proposed legislation to 
bar tax delinquents from serving in elected office in South Carolina 
and to authorize supervisors of Federal employees to take punitive 
action against workers who have failed to pay taxes.
  One wonders how Mr. Mulvaney would feel about the fitness of a 
Democratic nominee with a similar challenge.
  Finally, let me say a few words about Mr. Mulvaney's laissez-faire 
approach to regulation, particular the oversight of Wall Street. I 
believe strongly that the lack of effective regulation, the lack of 
oversight, and the lack of appropriations for the financial regulatory 
agencies contributed heavily to the great recession, which is why I 
worked so hard to support the adoption of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street 
Reform and Consumer Protection Act, including the creation of the 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
  Mr. Mulvaney, not surprisingly, takes a different view. As a member 
of the Financial Services Committee in the House, he said: ``I don't 
like that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau exists.'' The CFPB 
is a consumer-focused agency that has brought nearly $12 billion in 
refunds and restitution to consumers for Wall Street's abuses. This 
includes more than $120 million that have been returned to our military 
families through the efforts of the Bureau's Office of Servicemember 
Affairs, which I worked with Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts to 
  Because of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection 
Act, working Americans have an advocate in the consumer finance 
marketplace that is laser-focused on protecting them. Mr. Mulvaney 
would prefer to transform this agency into a paper tiger that is 
subject to partisan political pressure and influence from the various 
industries it is attempting to police. We should not allow him the 
chance to do that from a perch at OMB.
  The country has been fortunate that House Republican leadership, with 
good reason, in my view, did not reward Mr. Mulvaney with a position of 
authority from which he could exercise real control. Unfortunately, the 
promotion that President Trump has offered would give him great power--
power that will ultimately, I believe, be destructive in his hands. As 
a result, I urge my colleagues to oppose this nomination.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I am honored to follow my 
distinguished colleague from Rhode Island who has been such a champion 
for working people and economic progress in manufacturing and economic 
fairness so that our country as a whole can advance together.
  I am proud to be a Senator who fights to preserve, protect, and 
strengthen the safety net for all Americans, as my colleague from Rhode 
Island does, and many of us here do. So I come to the floor to speak on 
Congressman Mick Mulvaney, with reluctance and sadness, because he is 
out of the mainstream and, really, an adversary of programs that assure 
that safety net and basic fairness that is at the core of our great 
democracy and our economic system.
  I oppose his nomination to serve as Director of the Office of 
Management and Budget, hardly the best known of agencies and not 
necessarily the most glamorous or glitzy but among the most important. 
His position is among the most consequential because he serves as an 
economic adviser, as well as an allocator of funding throughout the 
Federal Government and a leader on important social programs.
  He has proved strongly antithetical to those programs that have made 
America great: Medicare, Social Security, and other efforts, including 
the Affordable Care Act, which are essential to our future.
  He has broad responsibilities for our Nation's budget. He also has 
important oversight responsibilities about Federal rulemaking--those 
unglamorous, sometimes invisible regulations and rules that affect real 
lives and livelihoods throughout this country. They establish rules of 
the road in industry. They establish access for people to Federal 
programs. They provide an essential means of achieving fairness in our 
democracy--that important process that agencies use to enact 
safeguards, for example, that keep our air and water clean and our 
workplaces safe.
  Congressman Mulvaney's positions on these vital issues are out of 
step with American values, out of the mainstream of American popular 
opinion, and out of the area of acceptability in terms of basic public 
  Our economic reality is characterized by one simple stark economic 
fact: Burdens are falling hardest on the people who can least afford 
them. I am not talking about people at the lowest rungs of income or 
wealth but middle-class Americans who work hard and who have seen their 
incomes stagnant over 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. Stagnating incomes 
and stagnating futures destroy the American dream.
  So the Federal Reserve, for example, has reported in 2014 that 
average incomes have remained flat or fallen for all but the most 
affluent 10 percent of American families. That is a staggering fact 
about our economic system and its ability to deliver for Americans 
generally. That is the context for this nomination. I consistently hear 
from my constituents in Connecticut that income has failed to keep pace 
with overall economic recovery. Even as Wall Street has risen, 
Americans see nothing but stagnant income, sometimes falling economic 
prospects. Things have gotten better, but good jobs are still out of 
reach for far too many.
  Retirement for increasing numbers of baby boomers makes it all the 
more vital that we protect and strengthen our safety net. The safety 
net is not the sole answer to larger challenges that must be solved by 
robust economic growth. That has to be our priority--economic growth in 
Connecticut and around the country. But increased opportunity depends 
on growth for ourselves and for our children--my wife and my four 
children and our way of life.
  In fact, President Trump himself seemed to recognize this economic 
fact, one of the few areas where we agree, because he pledged during 
the campaign to keep our Nation's safety net firmly, irrevocably 
intact--not to make any cuts to Social Security or Medicare. He pledged 
and promised.
  Now, who is his nominee to be head of the OMB, that crucial agency 
with responsibility for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid? Mick 
Mulvaney has an affinity for draconian budget cuts and far-right 
positions that are completely out of step with this promise and pledge.
  The President must have reversed himself or revoked his promise, 
because Congressman Mulvaney has spent his entire political career 
crusading against exactly these programs that keep millions of 
Americans out of poverty. Social Security is one of the great 
achievements of our American democracy. In fact, it is one of the 
greatest achievements the world has known because it has allowed this 
Nation to promise its people that they can avoid crushing poverty if 
they simply work hard and if they contribute to this program that is a 
form of insurance.
  It is not a gift. It is not really an entitlement. It is an insurance 
program. It makes us a humane and decent nation. We care for people who 
have worked hard all of their lives and need to be protected so they 
need not depend on their children or their grandchildren.
  Congressman Mulvaney has called Social Security a ``Ponzi scheme.'' 
Tell that to the Social Security recipients

[[Page S1178]]

in Connecticut. Tell that to the working people of Connecticut. He is 
out of step with working people and middle-class people who know that 
Social Security does not contribute to the Federal budget deficit, and 
it is not the Ponzi scheme that Congressman Mulvaney mischaracterizes 
it as being.
  It is fashionable on the far right to use that characterization, 
suggesting it will run out of money unless severe restrictions are put 
in place. He has championed those kinds of restrictions--means testing, 
for example, and raising the retirement age. Those proposals are a 
disservice to hard-working Americans who reach that retirement age 
having been promised that they would receive Social Security when they 
did or work hard to make Social Security work for them, without a means 
test, without anybody asking them to fill out forms or disclose their 
incomes and establish standards or tests that make them ineligible.
  It is true that there are changes to these programs that may be 
necessary. In fact, I proposed a plan for enhancing Social Security, 
making it a stronger insurance program by raising the cap on the 
payment of taxes that are due and other kinds of reforms that will more 
properly allocate the burdens but not means-testing, not raising the 
retirement age, which are radical and draconian favorites of the far 
right. Lifting the payroll tax cap so the wealthiest Americans 
contribute their fair share, as I have proposed, will keep this program 
solvent for decades into the future.
  The only reason to reject the commonsense changes I have proposed is 
a political aversion to raising taxes on anyone at any time, even the 
wealthiest individuals or the most powerful and profitable companies, 
which is the mantra of people who have climbed the ladder and want to 
raise it so that no one else has access to those top rungs. It makes no 
sense to me that we would ask great sacrifices of our senior citizens 
but do nothing about eliminating the loopholes that privilege some of 
the most affluent people and the largest and most profitable companies 
in the world.
  We should not and must not use the Social Security trust fund as a 
means to pay down the debt or reduce the deficit or gamble with the 
hard-earned benefits 61 million Americans rely on during their 
retirement. Those 61 million Americans, who come from all of the States 
and all over the Nation, are represented in this Chamber, and they 
deserve better than Mick Mulvaney's far-right radical ideas that would 
restrict their Social Security. He fails to recognize this reality and 
would prevent Social Security from continuing to flourish and provide 
the stability so essential to this great Nation--already the greatest 
Nation in the history of the world because of programs like Social 
Security and Medicare.
  Speaking of Medicare, Congressman Mulvaney's proposal for Medicare 
also betrays the President's promise to leave Medicare intact. He has 
been vocal, absolutely frank about his support for tearing down 
Medicare, going as far as to say: ``We have to end Medicare as we know 
it.'' Do we really have to end Medicare as we know it, tear it down, 
destroy it? That is what Mick Mulvaney says. That betrays President 
Trump's promise to keep Medicare intact.
  Mick Mulvaney has also supported proposals to privatize this 
lifesaving healthcare program by turning it into a voucher system, 
which would effectively gut its promise of guaranteed health benefits. 
A ``voucherized'' Medicare would be devastating for our Nation's 
seniors. Many of them are already on fixed incomes. This plan would 
allot them a fixed amount of funds--fixed funds to purchase all of 
their health insurance, which would result in higher premiums and 
increased out-of-pocket costs. Connecticut seniors deserve better than 
Mick Mulvaney's efforts to restrict Medicare in such a disruptive and 
destructive way.
  Congressman Mulvaney's actions and statements on Medicare point to a 
future budget director who has no intention of keeping the President's 
promise to protect this crucial health program. This country counts on 
its next budget director to prioritize facts and responsibilities and 
the public interest above political games; to rely on real facts, not 
alternate facts.
  Our budget, our deficit, our national debt are, in fact, fact-bound 
and fact-based. The world relies on real facts when it looks at the 
American economy, and the people who work in that economy, whether they 
are young or old, veterans or civilians, depend on real economic 
growth. Yet Congressman Mulvaney's reckless approach to fiscal issues 
has jeopardized this country's stability, causing real danger for the 
sake of ideology. That approach in the Congress has led to uncertainty 
and unpredictability, which are the bane of small- and medium-size 
businesses, which are, in turn, the major job creators in our society 
and economy.
  Congressman Mulvaney's extreme views already have negatively impacted 
the American economy. While in the House of Representatives, he led 
efforts to leverage the threat of a government shutdown as a tactic to 
push for specific demands, which included radical anti-choice policies, 
measures antithetical to women's healthcare and the right of privacy, 
including defunding Planned Parenthood.
  As one of the most senior economic advisers to the President and the 
head of OMB, he would have immense responsibility to influence this 
administration and the President. His outright disregard for the harm 
caused by a government shutdown--a tactic that jolts and jeopardizes 
our economy and disrupts the lives of millions of Americans--should 
itself alone disqualify him from this critical role within the Federal 
  He also sought government shutdowns as well to block the 
implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which has helped so many 
people in Connecticut receive the coverage and care they need. I could 
spend a lot of time talking about the benefits people in Connecticut 
have received from the Affordable Care Act. Its future is key to the 
financial future of this country, but Mick Mulvaney has consistently 
advanced misconceptions and mistruths about the nature and functioning 
of this law.
  Again, we can agree to disagree on policy, but misrepresenting the 
truth and relying on alternate facts is exactly what the budget 
director should not be doing. He is the one whom we rely on for real 
facts about our economy and our budget.
  Even more worrying was Congressman Mulvaney's archaic approach to 
addressing the debt ceiling. In the face of all evidence, he flatly 
stated that he did not believe this country would default on its debt 
as a result of the failure to raise the debt ceiling. Economics 101: 
The debt ceiling, if it is not extended--that means a default.
  Experts across the political spectrum agree that a breach of the debt 
ceiling, and consequently our Nation's full faith and credit, would be 
catastrophic. I am absolutely unable to vote for someone who fails to 
recognize that basic economic truth and takes this threat so lightly.
  Finally, Congressman Mulvaney has demonstrated a near reflexive 
hostility to Federal agencies and the important work they do. As with 
so many of the President's nominees, unfortunately, he seems to be 
hostile to the very mission and purpose of the agency he is going to 
lead--whether it is the EPA or the Department of Labor or other 
agencies where nominees have taken stands that, in effect, say: Let's 
dismantle and destroy this agency. Yet they are the ones who are 
supposed to be leading and inspiring its efforts.
  I believe that government could be more efficient and responsive. 
Waste ought to be eliminated. Fraud ought to be prosecuted. I am eager 
to work with my colleagues on good-faith proposals to achieve these 
  Federal agencies remain vital to important public purposes that 
people cannot achieve on their own. They cannot clean our air and water 
on their own. They cannot ensure public safety through policing on 
their own. They cannot make sure our national defense is strong on 
their own. A whole myriad of functions depend on a functional Federal 
Government. Commonsense rules that prohibit excessive pollution or 
unsafe working conditions protect all of us.
  As the head of OMB, which includes offices that oversee Federal 
funding, he has a responsibility to make sure that rules are enforced 
and that people are protected. Yet he has opposed the existence of the 
Export-Import Bank, an

[[Page S1179]]

institution that is critically important to so many of our job 
creators, big and small businesses in Connecticut and around the 
  He opposed emergency funding for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, 
despite the devastation caused by this terrible storm, which was 
unleashed in Connecticut and nearby States.
  He has questioned the need for government-funded research, despite 
the myriad advances in science and medicine that have come from 
government laboratories and research institutions.
  His record shows that he would be the wrong person for this job, 
harming our safety net and our fiscal stability. I oppose his 
nomination, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.
  I yield the remainder of my postcloture debate time to Senator 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has that right.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I yield my postcloture debate time to 
Senator Schumer.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has that right.
  Mr. COONS. With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.

                       Nomination of Neil Gorsuch

  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, as I did last week and as I will continue 
to do until he is confirmed, I rise to support the nomination of Judge 
Neil Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch is an 
accomplished, mainstream jurist. I look forward to helping make sure he 
receives an up-or-down vote here on the Senate floor.
  After meeting with Judge Gorsuch and learning more about his judicial 
philosophy, I continue to be impressed by his humble respect for the 
law and by his commitment to service.
  Before the Judiciary Committee begins our hearings, I want to 
highlight aspects of his jurisprudence that qualify him to serve on our 
Nation's highest Court and make him an ideal candidate to fill such a 
consequential position.
  Earlier this month I spoke about his fitness to fill Justice Scalia's 
seat, as well as his respect for the separation of powers. Today I 
would like to focus on his approach to religious freedom.
  I have always supported religious freedom as a universal principle. 
It doesn't matter if we are defending our own First Amendment right to 
the free exercise of religion here at home or standing up for the 
religious freedoms of people under repressive regimes abroad, our 
country has always valued the right of individuals to practice their 
faith as they please.
  Just as religious freedom is part of our national character, it also 
provides insight into the character and judicial philosophy of a 
prospective justice. When I had the privilege of meeting with Judge 
Gorsuch last week, I asked him about his thoughts on religious freedom. 
I was struck by his ability to plainly articulate his understanding of 
the law and the Constitution. He explained his religious liberty 
opinions by telling me that he simply went ``where the law led him.'' 
His explanation was indicative of his fundamental approach to 
interpreting the law. Judge Gorsuch doesn't make the law; he follows 
the law. He reads the Constitution as the Framers understood it. He 
interprets laws the way they were written.
  Lately, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been vocal 
about the importance of respecting our independent judiciary. I 
couldn't agree more. They have decried the perils of discriminating on 
the basis of religious belief. Well, they are in luck. The Supreme 
Court nominee before us would be a staunch defender of independent 
courts and religious freedom. All they have to do is help us confirm 
  I don't blame them for wanting to do their homework on a Supreme 
Court nominee. They should, as should we all. They will find that 
studying Judge Gorsuch's record will make for enjoyable reading.
  On the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Gorsuch has authored a 
number of judicial opinions respecting the fundamental principles of 
religious liberty. His most notable was a concurring opinion in the 
Hobby Lobby case. In this landmark legal case interpreting the 
Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Judge Gorsuch ruled that the Federal 
Government cannot force individuals to assist in conduct that violates 
their deeply held religious convictions. I note that this law used to 
be noncontroversial. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was 
introduced by Senators Ted Kennedy and then Congressman Chuck Schumer. 
It was passed almost unanimously in 1993 and signed into law by 
President Bill Clinton.
  In his concurrence, Judge Gorsuch wrote: ``The [Religious Freedom 
Restoration Act] doesn't just apply to protect popular religious 
beliefs: it does perhaps its most important work in protecting 
unpopular religious beliefs, vindicating this nation's long-held 
aspiration to serve as a refuge of religious tolerance.''
  Religious tolerance--that is what our country stands for, and that is 
what Judge Gorsuch stands for. Judge Gorsuch's position was later 
vindicated by the Supreme Court. The Court agreed that it is the 
government's job to protect an individual's ability to practice their 
religion, not to instruct them on how to practice their religion.
  In closing, let me reiterate that I believe Judge Gorsuch is a 
mainstream jurist who will uphold the Constitution to ensure justice 
for all, regardless of an individual's religious beliefs or which 
administration is in power. As someone who embraces religious freedom, 
it is a privilege to support and confirm a judge like Neil Gorsuch, who 
respects this central constitutional principle. As I have said before, 
and I will say again, Judge Gorsuch deserves fair consideration by 
those who serve in this body, and he deserves an up-or-down vote on the 
Senate floor. He should be confirmed overwhelmingly, and I am confident 
he will be.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                      Nomination of Andrew Puzder

  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, on December 8, Donald Trump nominated 
Andrew Puzder to serve as Secretary of Labor. He was scheduled to come 
before the HELP Committee tomorrow for his confirmation hearing. There 
is some reporting suggesting that he is having some second thoughts, 
and I sincerely hope that is true. The reasons Mr. Puzder is a terrible 
choice for this job are literally too numerous to cover fully, but I 
will at least give it a start.
  If you work for a living, the Labor Secretary is very important to 
you. This person is responsible for protecting the interests of 150 
million American workers. He will be the person responsible for 
enforcing the law that ensures that employers actually pay workers for 
every hour they work and setting the standards to prevent workplace 
injuries and even deaths.
  Unfortunately, Mr. Puzder is not the kind of person the American 
people can trust to stand up for workers. Since 2000, Mr. Puzder has 
served as the CEO of the billion-dollar company CKE Restaurant 
Holdings. You may know it better as the parent company of Carl's Jr. 
and Hardee's. These two fast-food chains are known for paying very low 
wages to workers. Mr. Puzder has a long record of cheating workers out 
of overtime. He has paid out millions of dollars to settle claims when 
he was caught cheating. We are not talking about isolated incidents. 
They reflect the kind of business Mr. Puzder built. Mr. Puzder is a 
frequent political pundit and commentator who has vocally opposed 
higher minimum wages. He has also strongly opposed new overtime 
protections that would give 4 million workers an estimated $1.5 billion 
raise in a single year.
  Mr. Puzder also delights in expressing personal disdain for his 
workers. He bragged in his very first memo as CEO. He wrote that he 
wanted ``no more people behind the counter unless they have their 
teeth.'' Ha, ha. He said he would like to replace his workers with 
robots because ``they are always polite, they always upsell, they never 
take a vacation, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or 
discrimination case.''
  The Senate has an obligation to hear from those who are best 
qualified to

[[Page S1180]]

tell America about Mr. Puzder's suitability to be Labor Secretary and 
to stand up for American workers--his own workers. That is why many of 
us asked the chairman of the HELP Committee to include Mr. Puzder's 
workers in his confirmation hearing. When the chairman refused to do 
so, we just went ahead and convened our own forum to allow those 
workers a chance to speak.
  Seventeen Senators attended. Those 17 Senators heard from Laura 
McDonald, who worked as a general manager at Carl's Jr. in Tucson, AZ, 
for 20 years. For years, she was forced to work extra hours without 
pay. Employees like Laura are the subject of a major lawsuit against 
Mr. Puzder's company, CKE, regarding unpaid overtime.
  Those 17 Senators heard from Lupe Guzman, who is a single mother who 
has devoted the last 7 years of her life to Carl's Jr. in Las Vegas, 
NV. She has worked the graveyard shift for rock bottom wages. Seven 
years of loyalty, and Lupe is still paid so little that she is on food 
stamps to feed her kids. Lupe sat in front of the U.S. Senate and wept 
openly about her terrible treatment at the hands of Mr. Puzder's 
  The Senators also heard from Roberto Ramirez, who has worked in the 
fast food industry for over 20 years, mostly at Carl's Jr. in Los 
Angeles, CA. He worked regularly off the clock at Carl's Jr., meaning 
they didn't pay him. Roberto even had a full paycheck stolen by his 
  For every Laura, Lupe, and Roberto, we found dozens of workers who 
were afraid to speak out about the terrible conditions at CKE. We 
compiled some stories from folks brave enough to speak up into a 20-
page report detailing firsthand accounts of the men and women who work 
for Mr. Puzder. Those stories are horrifying, and I will read some of 
them later today.
  Mr. Puzder's company has a truly atrocious record of treating his own 
workers terribly. Indeed, he has dripping disdain for people who work 
for a living. This alone disqualifies him to be Secretary of Labor.
  But there is more. In recent weeks, it has come out that Mr. Puzder 
employed an undocumented immigrant in his household for years, and he 
didn't pay taxes on that employee. Yep, you heard that correctly. The 
Trump administration, which bellows about building a wall and pounds 
its chest about ripping millions of families apart with a deportation 
force, threatens millions of DREAM Act kids with deportation, has no 
problem putting a guy in charge of the Labor Department who cheats on 
his taxes and employs undocumented workers. The hypocrisy of that is 
pretty stunning, even for the Trump administration.
  And then there is the controversy over alleged spousal abuse. Over 25 
years ago, Mr. Puzder's first wife appeared on an episode of Oprah 
Winfrey in a show about spousal abuse. I have watched the episode in 
which she appeared, as I believe every Senator should. I found it 
extraordinarily troubling.
  Alongside his company's poor record of treatment of female employees, 
his highly explicit and sexualized ads, and his snide comments about 
sex discrimination, there is ample evidence that Mr. Puzder is a 
terrible choice to head the agency charged with ensuring that women and 
men are treated fairly in the workplace.
  I understand that no matter who President Trump picks to run the 
Labor Department, I am probably going to have a lot of issues with that 
person, but this is different. Andrew Puzder should not be the Labor 
Secretary. And if you ask the Senators in this body--Republicans and 
Democrats--if you ask them behind closed doors with the cameras turned 
off, you will have a hard time finding people who think this divisive 
nomination is good for the country.
  It has been suggested that Mr. Puzder is ``tired of the abuse'' that 
he has received during this confirmation process. Well, I think the 
workers at his companies are pretty tired of the abuse they have 
received while being at the mercy of an employer who doesn't care about 
them at all and who goes out of his way to squeeze them out of every 
last dime. That is literally the opposite of what we need in a Labor 
  I was prepared to question him on these issues tomorrow, but I hope 
it is true that he will withdraw his nomination before then.
  Mr. President, I also rise today to express many concerns over the 
appointment of Congressman Mulvaney as Director of the Office of 
Management and Budget and to urge my colleagues to seriously consider 
these issues before voting to confirm him.
  One of the best ways to understand what a nation stands for is to 
look at its budget. It is all right there. The budget tells who counts, 
it tells who gets a chance, and it tells who gets cast aside.
  The OMB Director prepares the President's budget. He safeguards the 
President's promises by turning them into real commitments backed by 
your tax dollars.
  During the campaign, President Trump promised over and over again 
that he would protect Medicare and Medicaid. He didn't imply it; he 
didn't drop hints about it. No, he made the clearest, plainest possible 
promise. He said: ``I am not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.''
  But since the election, he has done a complete 180. He put up a 
transition team website that just dripped with code words for cuts, 
saying that he would modernize and maximize flexibility for these 
programs. Gone were the unambiguous promises to protect Medicare and 
  Then he started nominating people who have made it their life's work 
to gut Medicare and Medicaid. His Secretary of Health and Human 
Services has proposed cutting more than $1 trillion from these 
programs, and now his nominee for OMB Director is someone who wants to 
cut Medicare and Medicaid to the bone.
  Congressman Mulvaney has voted to increase the retirement age for 
Medicare. Hey, you have paid into that program with decades of hard 
work? Too bad, just keep waiting.
  He also wants to privatize Medicare, and he wants to slash and burn 
his way through Medicaid--a program that is a lifeline for millions of 
people--for parents of people in nursing homes, for people with 
disabilities, for premature babies.
  In his confirmation hearing, Congressman Mulvaney was asked whether 
he would set aside his rightwing ideology to fulfill the President's 
campaign promises to protect Medicare and Medicaid. The Congressman 
could not have been clearer in his response: Forget all of that. Nope, 
not interested. Mulvaney is still a true believer in Medicare and 
Medicaid cuts, and whenever he has the President's ear, he will 
continue to advance his own radical ideas for burning down these 
indispensable programs.
  President Trump also promised that he would not cut Social Security. 
He guaranteed it. Here is his quote--many times: ``We're going to save 
your Social Security without making any cuts,'' he said.
  Here was his closer on that: ``Mark my words.''
  OK. Nice words. But he could have picked someone--anyone--to run his 
budget, and instead he picked Congressman Mulvaney--one of Congress's 
most partisan crusaders against the Social Security program. He wants 
to raise the retirement age to 70. Heck, this is a person who calls 
Social Security a Ponzi scheme, and, boy, he is not messing around, 
  During his confirmation hearings, Congressman Mulvaney doubled down 
on his promise to rob American workers and retirees by gutting Social 
Security. When pressed by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham about 
whether he would urge President Trump to reconsider his promise not to 
cut Social Security, hey, Mulvaney said that he absolutely would.
  Is this just a mistake? Did President Trump just pick Congressman 
Mulvaney by accident? The Congressman certainly doesn't seem to think 
  At his hearing he said: ``I have to imagine that the President knew 
what he was getting when he asked me to fill that role.''
  Yes, Mulvaney himself believes he is being brought in to push for 
cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.
  Trump reverses his promise, a second person determined to cut 
Medicare and Medicaid makes it into a key government role, and who will 
pay the price? America's seniors, that is who.
  Apparently, Congressman Mulvaney isn't satisfied with cutting 
benefits for

[[Page S1181]]

Americans who have worked and paid into the program for their entire 
lives. When it comes to abandoning American workers and families, for 
him, that is just the beginning.
  He has also called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ``a sick, 
sad joke.'' Maybe he should spend a little more time talking to his 
constituents and a little less time talking to bank lobbyists.
  The CFPB has helped thousands of people in every State--including 
dozens of people in Congressman Mulvaney's own district--recover 
unauthorized fees on their credit cards and checking accounts. It has 
helped them to correct errors on their credit reports. These are 
students, seniors, servicemembers, and veterans, who may have spent 
months haggling with their bank or student loan servicer over a wrong 
charge, only to get quick and complete relief after they went to the 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  In total--the agency has only been up for about 5\1/2\ years now--it 
has forced the largest banks across this country, many of those who 
have been out there cheating consumers, to return nearly $12 billion 
directly to the people they cheated. That is $12 billion that was 
stolen by big banks, by payday lenders, by debt collectors, and is now 
back in the pockets of the people who rightfully earned it.
  The only sick, sad joke is that Congressman Mulvaney thinks we should 
turn the big banks loose to prey on American families once again.
  Under Congressman Mulvaney's budget, Americans who have been cheated 
and scammed by huge financial institutions will just be cast aside. 
Families who work hard for every dollar, only to have some ruthless 
corporation steal their savings right out from underneath them, will be 
cast aside. And the millions of Americans who have worked for decades 
planning to collect Social Security or Medicare when they retire will 
be told to just wait four more years. They will be thrown straight to 
the curb. None of that--none of that--is what America stands for.
  That is just the stuff that directly contradicts the President's 
campaign promises. The stuff that is totally in line with the 
President's campaign promises is genuinely scary too.
  On the campaign trail, Donald Trump stated that he ``may cut the 
Department of Education.'' Will Congressman Mulvaney stand up for 
students? Unlikely.

  Congressman Mulvaney's record shows that he is fine building a 
Federal budget that crushes students who are trying to get a college 
education. Students already pay too much for student loans, and 
Congressman Mulvaney's solution is to force students to pay more. He 
supports forcing more college students to borrow more money from 
private banks that charge sky-high interest rates without any of the 
basic protections Federal student loans have. He clearly wants to let 
private banks and Wall Street squeeze as much cash out of hard-working 
students as humanly possible to build their profits. In fact, 
Congressman Mulvaney wants to help these giant banks out even more by 
taking a sledgehammer to the Federal student loan program and making 
Federal loan terms lousy for students. That is why he repeatedly voted 
to eliminate subsidized student loans for low-income students and why 
he helped block legislation to allow borrowers to lower their monthly 
payments by refinancing their student loans to lower interest rates. 
Not only has he voted to increase the interest rates the government 
charges students, he has also voted to cut Pell grants to poor college 
students. If Congressman Mulvaney had his way, millions more hard-
working students would be shoved even deeper into debt at the start of 
their working lives just because they couldn't afford the high cost of 
college. Under his budget, students will just be cast aside.
  In his confirmation hearing, Congressman Mulvaney also said he is 
``in lockstep'' with Donald Trump's plans to grow military spending, 
but he said he would pay for that increase in funding with deep cuts to 
domestic programs that working men and women around the country depend 
on--programs that could easily include Head Start, which provides 
opportunities for low-income children; the disaster aid, which supports 
families in crisis after a hurricane or tornado; or resiliency programs 
to protect America as worldwide climate changes.
  Listen to that again. The children who attend Head Start can stay 
home so Donald Trump can divert more money to military spending. The 
people who get buried in a 100-year snowstorm can stay buried so Donald 
Trump can divert more money to military spending. The people who live 
near coasts and rivers and streams can be washed away by rising oceans 
and other waterways so Donald Trump can divert money to military 
spending--and this nominee, Congressman Mulvaney, is in lockstep to 
make it happen.
  Under President Trump's new one-in, two-out Executive order, it is 
Mr. Mulvaney who would have discretion to give each agency a regulatory 
budget and to approve any proposed regulations that increase that 
budget. The order is supposedly designed to make life easier and to 
make government work better, but Congressman Mulvaney isn't interested 
in making government work better, and he is certainly not interested in 
making life easier. In fact, he has spent his entire political career 
working to cripple the agencies that protect American families--
American workers, American consumers, and American small businesses. 
Nowhere is this clearer than in his attacks on the Federal agencies 
that protect consumers, that preserve our environment, and that help 
keep our country safe. He has worked to starve agencies of the 
resources they need to do their jobs, voting to cut funding to law 
enforcement, voting to gut the Social Security Program, and voting to 
completely defund the organization that provides critical legal 
services to low-income American children, families, seniors, and 
  But it is not enough for him to starve agencies to the breaking 
point. He has also supported radical bills to stop agencies from 
issuing regulations that keep our air clean, our food safe, and our 
economy from suffering another devastating financial crisis. 
Congressman Mulvaney wants to require agencies to adopt a bill that 
imposes the least costs on big businesses, even when those costs are 
about making sure companies don't cut corners by cheating, poisoning, 
and killing people. Look, if it is cheaper for a corporation to kill 
you than it is for the corporation to redesign the product or clean up 
their mess, Congressman Mulvaney stands with the corporation. I am sure 
he would be willing to say something nice at your funeral about how 
your contribution helped give the corporation record profits.
  If all that wasn't bad enough, Congressman Mulvaney is ready to rock 
and roll on secret money in politics. Washington is already awash in 
dark money, but that is not enough for Congressman Mulvaney. He has 
worked to open the doors even wider to secret spending in politics. 
Over and over, he has voted to shield the identity of political donors, 
keep them secret. For example, he opposed a rule that required 
corporations applying for government contracts to disclose their 
political contributions. Again, just think about that one for a minute. 
He doesn't want corporations that bid for government contracts to be 
forced to tell when they give money to help targeted government 
officials. We already have a problem with money in politics. Mulvaney 
just wants to make it worse.
  Congressman Mulvaney's record shows one thing. He will make sure our 
Federal Government works well for giant corporations and billionaires 
who don't like to play by the rules, and he will cast aside the rest of 
the public to do that. That is definitely not what our Nation stands 
  I understand Democrats and Republicans have different priorities when 
it comes to the Federal budget. I get that, but when one person wants 
to slash Social Security for American retirees, to cut Medicare for 
senior citizens, to gut health benefits for low-income families, to 
drive up the cost of paying for college, and to gut programs that help 
families in crisis and low-income children, all in the name of making 
life even easier for giant corporations and billionaires--well, I think 
it is clear that his priorities do not include the safety and security 
of millions of Americans. That is a priority that should be at the top 
of all of our

[[Page S1182]]

lists in the Senate, Republican and Democratic.
  I will stand with the Americans whom Congressman Mulvaney will cast 
aside as Budget Director, and I will vote no on his nomination.
  Mick Mulvaney wants to slash benefits under Medicare, Medicaid, 
Social Security, and countless other programs. These are just numbers 
to him, but behind those numbers are real people. Real lives are at 
risk with every decision he will make as the Budget Director. So what I 
want to do is take the time I have remaining and share the stories of 
just a few of the people who would be affected.
  Lea from Plymouth wrote to me, worried that Congressman Mulvaney 
would cut Social Security for her and for others in Massachusetts. Lea 
had an interesting suggestion. Here is what she wrote:

       I have just sent off an email message to Representative 
     Mulvaney regarding his spearheading of the cutting of Social 
     Security benefits.
       I challenged him and many of his colleagues to do this: 
     Live on an income like mine--of $1,219.80--for one month.
       Having received my first increase of $2.50 in several 
     years, it was offset by a Medicare cost increase of $11.50. 
     Do the math.
       I hope you and the other Democratic members of both houses 
     fight like hell to raise our benefits.
       We are definitely in for a bumpy ride for the next 4 years. 
     As the saying goes . . . ``it ain't going to be pretty!''
       Thank you for listening.

  Thank you, Lea. Thank you for writing.
  I also heard from Janneke from Williamstown, who is worried about 
several nominees working to cut Social Security. Here is what Janneke 
had to say:

       It is terrifying to consider either of these nominees, 
     Price or Mulvaney, being confirmed for the position to which 
     they have been nominated. They will work to undo, not to 
     strengthen, social security. This is a profoundly disturbing 
       I urge you to do everything you can to oppose their 

  Thank you, Janneke. I will. I will keep fighting for your hard-earned 
  Janet from Florence also reached out to me. She shared the inspiring 
stories of her and her husband, and then she told me how worried she is 
that cuts to Social Security and Medicare could be coming under 
Congressman Mulvaney's watch. Here is what she wrote:

       I am 60 years old and have always been employed--in higher 
     education jobs where I worked hard and long for modest wages, 
     frequently the case in women-dominated professions.
       My husband is a childcare worker who works with infants and 
     toddlers. The work we do is meaningful and makes a societal 
       At 60 and 64, we have always lived like graduate students. 
     We shop at the Goodwill, cook from scratch, bring our lunch, 
     and drive old cars--and bike and walk. We will each be 
     working until age 70, or longer, if our health permits. This 
     is fine. We are fortunate to live as we do. But with market-
     based retirement funds and with family members needing our 
     support, we need Social Security, which is NOT BROKEN, to 
     remain, and be strengthened. And we need access to health 
     care, for ourselves, children, and grandchildren.
       This is a plea from the fading middle class to oppose the 
     Price and Mulvaney nominations. We--and people far less 
     fortunate than we are--need your stout support.

  Thank you, Janet. Thank you and your husband for all you do for your 
community. I promise I will do my best to protect your benefits.
  I have received hundreds of these types of letters--letters from 
constituents who are scared that cuts to Medicaid and Medicare could 
endanger their basic ability to survive, letters from constituents who 
have seen how important these services are to thousands across the 
State and millions across the country, constituents who aren't sure 
where to turn and whom to blame. They just know they cannot afford to 
lose these benefits, like a woman from Somerville, who wrote to me 
about the work she does as an intensive care coordinator. Here is what 
she had to say:

       I am an Intensive Care Coordinator through Riverside 
     Community Care, a statewide human service agency that 
     delivers crucial mental health services to at-risk youth. In 
     my program, the Guidance Center Community Service Agency, we 
     specifically provide Child Behavioral Health Initiatives 
     (CBHI) services to youth in Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, 
     Malden, Waltham, Woburn, Wilmington, and other northern 
       I am extremely nervous that the new presidential 
     administration will attack Medicaid and put our programs in 
       If you're not familiar with the CBHI wraparound model, I 
     can briefly explain why these services are so important. One: 
     we serve youth in poverty. Two: our services are community 
     based, so we go to the homes of the families we're serving, 
     so they don't need to rely on transportation. Three: we are a 
     form of outpatient care that prevents youth who are suicidal/
     homicidal from needing hospitalization. Or, if they are 
     hospitalized, helping the family develop a plan for when 
     they're discharged. Four: Although the child with mental 
     health diagnosis is our identified client, the services 
     benefit the whole family. We understand that taking care of 
     children with special needs is taxing, so we identify 
     resources and services for parents as well. Five: we work 
     with state departments like Department of Children and 
     Families, Department of Health, and Department of 
     Developmental Disabilities. Six: our model works. I myself 
     rarely close a case without having had at least one goal 
     (identified by the family) met and there are growing 
     statistics about the benefit of having us in place.
       I hope you can bring this argument where it needs to go to 
     ensure that we have a future here in Massachusetts.

  I want to say on this one: Thank you. Thank you for writing, and 
thank you for the work you do.
  I am doing my best to bring this story. This is a story everybody in 
the Senate should listen to. It is a story about how we reach out to 
those who most need us and provide the kind of care they need.
  Thank you. Thank you for your work, and thank you for writing.
  I also received a letter from an occupational therapist from 
Massachusetts. She told me all about the important work she has been 
doing and how Medicaid has been crucial to that work. Here is what she 
had to say:

       As a constituent and occupational therapy practitioner, I 
     am writing to you to express my concerns about a major 
     restructuring of the Medicaid program.
       Medicaid is an essential safety net program for the most 
     vulnerable in our society. In 2015, 39% of children received 
     health insurance either through the Childrens Health 
     Insurance Program or through Medicaid. More than 60 percent 
     of nursing home residents are supported primarily through 
     Medicaid. Additionally, Medicaid provides health care 
     services and long-term services and supports to more than 10 
     million people living with disabilities, and 1 in 5 Medicaid 
     recipients receive behavioral health services.
       Restructuring of the Medicaid program through per capita 
     caps or block granting and significant cuts to the Medicaid 
     program would jeopardize the long-term health and 
     independence of current Medicaid beneficiaries. Thus I urge 
     extreme care and caution when considering a major 
     restructuring of the program or other significant changes, 
     waiver of mandatory services, or dramatic cuts.

  Thank you for all the work you do, and thank you for writing and 
making this important point about who uses Medicaid and how critical it 
is to the basic support services that we provide.
  Another constituent wrote to me about the amazing work that she does 
in the Boston area for those with severe mental illness and how 
Medicaid and Medicare help these people. Here is what she had to say:

       I work with people with severe Mental Illness in the 
     greater Boston area. A majority of my patients receive their 
     therapy and medication through Medicaid and Medicare. Even 
     the thought of losing coverage heightens their anxiety. If 
     coverage is reduced or co-pays raised, they stand to lose not 
     only therapy and group interventions but also the medication 
     which is essential to avoiding higher levels of care. Given 
     the high rate of co-occurring physical and mental health 
     issues, the general health of my patients will be severely 
     compromised with any reduction in access to care.
       Nearly 1 out of 3 people covered by Medicaid expansion live 
     with a mental health or substance use condition and people 
     with marketplace insurance plans have fair and equal mental 
     health coverage. With this coverage, people have access to 
     mental health services that support recovery.
       As a constituent, I would like you to keep in mind that 
     Medicaid or insurance marketplace plans are helping all of 
     those who struggle with mental illness who, with accessible 
     supports, can lead healthier lives.

  Again, thank you for the work you do, and thank you for writing. It 
is a powerfully important point.
  Congressman Mulvaney wants to slash these programs. That is why I 
will be voting against his nomination.
  I also received more personal stories from people like Michael from 
Acton, who told me about his son. Here is what he wrote:

       My particular concern is the attack on the ACA and Medicaid 
     and Medicare.
       My biggest worry is my 27 year old son, Adam, who was born 
     with microcephaly. He

[[Page S1183]]

     is a very loving person with a great smile, but functions 
     roughly at the level of a 12 month old. He currently lives in 
     a group residence and goes to a day habilitation program 
     during the week. Both of these programs are funded in part by 
     Medicaid. If Medicaid funds are cut, I worry that the day-hab 
     program will not be able to continue or, at the least, will 
     operate at a much reduced level. This would seriously degrade 
     the quality of Adam's life. I worry what will happen at his 
     already understaffed residence.
       As it is, the staff at Adam's residence and day-
     habilitation programs are paid very little wages to do very 
     tough jobs. Because of this, there is already a constant 
     problem of finding enough people to staff these. . . . jobs 
     if they are paid less or have to do even more work because of 
     lower staffing levels[.]
       The prospect of what is coming scares me. What will my 
     son's life be like?

  Thank you for writing, Michael. I appreciate it. I will be out there 
fighting for Adam. I hope we can get a lot of people in the Senate to 
do that as well. Thank you.
  We also heard from Daniel Mumbauer, who is president of the High 
Point Treatment Center in Massachusetts. Daniel has experienced 
firsthand how Medicaid funds can change the lives of thousands of 
people in Massachusetts alone. This is what Daniel wrote:

       On behalf of High Point Treatment Center, I am writing to 
     urge and request your support in protecting the Affordable 
     Care Act and preserving Medicaid expansion in the 115th 
       High Point served over 30,000 individuals last year. We 
     provide substance use disorder and mental health services to 
     adolescents and adults.
       Recent health insurance data show that Americans with 
     mental health and substance use disorders are the single 
     largest beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid 
     expansion. Nearly one in three who receives health insurance 
     coverage through Medicaid expansion either has a mental 
     illness, a substance abuse disorder, or both. By repealing 
     the Medicaid expansion, this population of vulnerable 
     Americans would be left without access to lifesaving 
     treatment, driving up costs in emergency department visits 
     and hospital stays.
       I am also writing to urge your support for the protection 
     of the Medicaid program from proposals to restructure 
     Medicaid as a block grant or capped program. These proposals 
     would reduce federal investment in Medicaid and leave 
     millions of Americans without access to needed mental health 
     and addictions treatment in our communities. Please work with 
     your colleagues to protect our nation's most vulnerable 
     patient population and preserve their access to treatment.

  Thank you, Daniel. Thank you very much for writing, and thank you for 
the work you do.
  Congressman Mulvaney wants to eviscerate health programs that would 
help Michael's son and the thousands who are treated at the High Point 
Treatment Center. That is exactly the opposite of what we should be 
  I have also heard from many constituents worried about losing their 
Social Security benefits under the new administration, like Kensington 
from Hatfield, who is terrified that his mother, who depends on Social 
Security, will lose her benefits. Here is what he wrote:

       Last night scared me for the first time. My mother is 69 
     and depends on Social Security for her income and has severe 
     COPD and relies on medicare and medicaid for prescriptions 
     and medical supplies to help her breath[e]. She was crying 
     and is afraid of losing everything and that she will die. I 
     know it's extreme thinking, but without her medicine and 
     income it is unfortunately the truth. I didn't know what to 
     say to comfort her and that scared me! What can I say to ease 
     her mind and let her know that she will be OK. Will she be 

  Thank you, Kensington, for your note. Your mother is right to be 
worried, and that is why I am fighting this nomination.
  I have so many more stories--many, many stories--that I could read, 
but I am running out of time here.
  I want to say that Mick Mulvaney is dangerous to the American people, 
and he is dangerous to the Federal Government. He will slash programs 
right and left without worrying about the living, breathing people whom 
he is hurting in the process. That is why I will be voting against his 
nomination as Director of the Office of Management and Budget and why I 
urge my colleagues to do the same.
  Let's make sure that Mick Mulvaney never ends up as the head of the 
Office of Management and Budget, never is in a position to put together 
a budget to cut Medicare and cut Medicaid. Let's make sure that we keep 
our government, our Medicare, our Medicaid, and our Affordable Care Act 
working for the American people. That is what I will keep fighting for.
  Mr. President, I yield.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Toomey). The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, every day we continue to set new records 
for how long it takes for the new President to get his Cabinet in 
power--in office--and the responsibility to carry out the things that 
the President said that he wanted to do when he was elected.
  In the great history of confirming people, from the Garfield 
administration in the 1880s until Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, the 
entire Cabinet in that whole period of time was confirmed on the first 
day. Now we are in the longest period in the history of the country 
since George Washington was President to try to get a Cabinet in place, 
not to mention all of the other jobs that go along with confirming the 
Cabinet. It is a good thing and no wonder that a few years ago the 
Senate looked at the numbers of people we had taken responsibility to 
confirm and said: Now, which of those do we really have to confirm and 
which of those would we only confirm if someone in the Senate believes 
we have to have a hearing on that level of person and that agency at 
that time?
  We tried to streamline a process that we all know needs to be 
streamlined, but with only a couple of exceptions, every nominee so far 
has been the most dangerous nominee of all time for whatever job it 
is. There must be fill-in-the-blank speeches back there somewhere that 
go from one to the next: This would be the worst person who could ever 
possibly hold this job.

  In the case of Congressman Mulvaney, it appears to be because he 
wants to try to do things that allow our entitlement programs to 
survive; he wants to do things that allow the deficit at some point to 
be eliminated. And no matter what point that is, that point would be 
too early for some of our friends on the other side.
  Interestingly, as we talk about the Affordable Care Act, which has 
turned out to be very unaffordable for almost any family on the 
individual market and many families who had insurance that worked for 
them before--the Affordable Care Act cut Medicare in the plan by $500 
billion over 10 years. We hear speaker after speaker on the other side 
say: We would never do anything to cut Medicare. I argued vigorously 
against those cuts when they occurred.
  As we move forward, I think we ought to be very thoughtful that we 
restore the cuts in areas where clearly it is not working the way 
people thought the Affordable Care Act would work. The person in charge 
of the numbers, the person in charge of the balance sheet, the person 
who calculates the costs should be someone with the capacity to do 
that. The President has decided, and the Senate, when finally allowed 
to vote, will determine that person is Mr. Mulvaney.

                       Nomination of Scott Pruitt

  Mr. President, the other thing we hope to do this week is to get to 
the EPA Administrator. I have a hard time imagining that anybody had 
more future damage lined up for the economy than the past Administrator 
of the EPA. Rules like the clean power rule--all these rules almost 
always have a good name. Clean power, who wouldn't be for that? I am 
certainly for clean power, but the clean power rule, in virtually every 
State in the country, would have increased utility rates from the 
middle of the State of Pennsylvania to the western edge of at least 
Wyoming, if not beyond that.
  Fifty percent of the power produced by coal-powered utility plants, 
most of which are cleaner than any utility plants that use coal have 
ever been or are anywhere in the world today, many of which are almost 
new, many of which aren't paid for--and, of course, who pays for that 
utility plant, whether you use it or not? It is the family who pays the 
utility bill. There is no mythical somebody else who will pay this 
bill. So if you shut down a plant sooner than you should, somebody has 
to pay for that.
  You could write those same rules if your goal were to eliminate coal. 
That is a different debate. It is a debate we could have at another 
time. If your goal were to eliminate coal, you could write those same 
rules. If the rule simply said: When the utility plants you are using 
right now, which meet all the current standards, which are, in many 
cases, the cleanest coal-fired plants

[[Page S1184]]

that have ever been built or are being used anywhere in the world 
today--when that plant is paid for, here is what you have to do next. 
Then, when you get your utility bill, you are not paying for the plant 
you are not using and also paying for the plant you are using. This 
would be as if there were a new standard--this is the EPA view of 
this--on automobile mileage, and that standard came out and said: Here 
is what automobiles have to look like, in terms of standards, on miles 
per gallon, and, by the way, you have to have that car or that truck 
right now. If you have a truck or car that you are already driving that 
doesn't meet that standard, you can't drive it any longer. Of course, 
you still have to pay for it, but you can't drive it any longer. We 
have been doing mileage standards in this country that have made a 
significant difference for a long time, but we have never said: You 
have to stop driving the car you are driving, and you have to buy a new 
car. And, of course, you have to pay for the car you are driving or the 
bank is unlikely to give you the loan for a new car. But that is what 
the EPA said in the clean power rule.
  There is a commonsense way to do things, and the next nominee we will 
be dealing with, Attorney General Pruitt, is a commonsense guy. He has 
had great responsibility as attorney general, but he has been willing 
to challenge these rules that didn't make sense.
  On the clean power rule, by the way, Missouri is the fourth biggest 
user of coal-produced energy. Projections were that the average 
Missouri utility bill under that rule, if it had been allowed to go 
into effect--still in the courts because the courts say that EPA really 
doesn't have the authority to do that; at least the lower courts have 
all said that. If that had been allowed to go into effect, the average 
Missouri utility bill would have doubled in 10 or 12 years. It is not 
hard for a family to figure out. Get your utility bill out, look at it, 
multiply it by two, and see what happens to the things you were doing 
before you had to pay, in effect, a second utility bill.
  It is time that these agencies had some common sense, whether they 
are agencies that are being evaluated by the Office of Management and 
Budget or agencies that are being tasked by the Congress and the 
President to do certain things. It is time they thought about families. 
It is time they thought about jobs.
  If the economy of the country is better next year, the country will 
be stronger 25 years from now. I think we spend a lot of time thinking 
about what America should look like 25 years from now instead of what 
we can do so that families have better jobs next month and next year. 
It is time we got some common sense into trying to reach the goals we 
want to reach, rather than coming up with goals and then reaching them 
in a way that clearly will not work.
  The waters of the United States--that is not a bad title. Water is 
important. Waters of the United States is important. The EPA talked 
about the waters of the United States and decided to take a definition 
that the Federal Government has used for well over 150 years. By the 
way, the EPA was given control of navigable waters in the Clean Water 
Act and decided that navigable waters aren't just what for 150 years 
the Federal Government said they were--from 1846 until just a couple of 
years ago, more than 150 years--which was something you could move a 
product on, which meant interstate commerce, which meant the 
Constitution gave that responsibility to the Federal government, but 
they said: That is actually any water that could run into any water 
that eventually could run into navigable waters. That is what the Clean 
Water Act said when it said the EPA could regulate navigable waters.
  This is a Farm Bureau map that has been available for a long time but 
that the EPA never did challenge during this debate. Only the red part 
of our State would be covered by the EPA for anything involving water--
things like a building permit or things like whether you can mow the 
right of way on the highway or things like whether farmers could use 
fertilizer in their field, even if it were 100 miles away from any 
navigable water. All of those things under the rule could have been 
under the authority of the EPA. Let me mention again, only the part of 
the map that is red would have been covered by the EPA, the part is 
that 99.7 percent of the map.
  We have a lot of caves in our State and a few sinkholes. I think 
those white dots, the three-tenths of one percent, are some combination 
of caves and sinkholes where the water appears to run right back into 
the middle of the earth, instead of into any water. What a ridiculous 
rule. It is the kind of rule that the Office of Management and Budget 
should challenge whenever they are asked to look at the cost-benefit 
analysis. It is the kind of rule that a reasonable Administrator at the 
EPA would never let be issued. In fact, I would say it is the kind of 
rule that this Congress eventually, hopefully, will take this 
responsibility back and say: We have to vote on these rules. We have to 
take responsibility for things that cost families their extra income 
and cost people their jobs.
  As we get along with the business of confirming Mick Mulvaney to the 
Office of Management and Budget--and then after that and before we 
leave this week--Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the Administrator 
of the EPA, hopefully both of them will use common sense as their 
guideline. Both of them will look at, What does this really mean to 
hard-working families? What does this mean to struggling families? What 
does this mean to single-mom families? What does this mean to young 
families who are trying to figure out how they can save for the future 
of their kids' college or even summer camp? A lot of things go away if 
you double the utility bill. A lot of things go away if it takes a year 
to get a building permit. A lot of things go away if we don't have 
common sense in our government.
  I think this nominee, Mick Mulvaney, and the next nominee, Scott 
Pruitt, both bring that common sense to the jobs they have been asked 
to do and have agreed to do, if confirmed by the Senate.
  I see my friend from Massachusetts is here.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gardner). The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, I thank my friend from Missouri, and the 
Senate, for giving me this opportunity to speak. I rise to speak in 
opposition to the nomination of Representative Mick Mulvaney to be 
Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
  Congressman Mulvaney represents the latest of President Trump's 
broken promises to the American people. In this case, it is President 
Trump's campaign promise to protect Social Security, and Congressman 
Mulvaney is the man who will lead the charge. The Office of Management 
and Budget, OMB, as it is called, is like that group of scientists in 
the movie ``Apollo 13'' who have to figure out how to bring the 
spacecraft home with only a few items found in a couple of boxes. In 
the movie, they describe it as fitting a square peg in a round hole. In 
government, we call it the Federal budget.
  The crucial role of OMB and the development of the Federal budget 
means that the Director often has the final word on the priorities of 
our Federal agencies. The Director must be someone who will approach 
the enormity of the Federal Government in a thoughtful and deliberative 
manner. They must be able to consider how the budget will impact the 
everyday lives of all Americans. Representative Mulvaney's support for 
reckless, across-the-board cuts demonstrates that he is not up to this 
  Donald Trump campaigned on the promise that he would make no cuts to 
the Social Security safety net. That means no cuts to Social Security, 
Medicare, and Medicaid. Congressman Mulvaney's nomination shows that, 
despite what candidate Trump may have said, President Trump intends to 
do just the opposite. This is not what millions of people voted for. 
Mick Mulvaney's nomination has Americans across the country fearful for 
their futures, and they have every right to be scared.
  Congressman Mulvaney represents an immediate threat to Social 
Security. He represents a threat to the 1.2 million seniors in 
Massachusetts who currently rely on Social Security. He represents a 
threat to the millions more who expect the program to be

[[Page S1185]]

there when they retire in coming years.
  Mick Mulvaney has attempted to declare Social Security 
unconstitutional and has referred to the program as a Ponzi scheme. 
Well, Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. Social Security is not a 
handout. Social Security is a promise we make to America's seniors 
after decades of hard work. It is the commitment we made to those who 
built this Nation, fought in wars, and provided for their families. 
Seniors pay into the system throughout their working lives, and they 
expect it to be there for them when they retire. We need to keep that 
  Social Security is not just a line in the budget. It is a lifeline 
for millions of Americans.
  In Massachusetts, the program keeps 295,000 people above the poverty 
line. Across the country, more than 15 million elderly Americans are 
able to live out their lives and not be driven into poverty because 
they have a Social Security check. That is what it does for 15 million 
Americans. Seniors will have nowhere to turn if President Trump and 
Representative Mulvaney have their way and Social Security ceases to 
exist. Congressman Mulvaney has repeatedly suggested raising the Social 
Security retirement age to 70 years old. Let me repeat that. Mick 
Mulvaney wants grandma and grandpa to wait until they are 70 years 
old--that is 4 years older than the current retirement age--before they 
can call upon the benefits they deserve.

  Not only does Mick Mulvaney want to make it so Americans have to work 
longer, he wants them to receive less when they finally do retire. At 
his Budget Committee hearing, Mick Mulvaney said that he himself was 
willing to be subject to these new rules, since they might require him 
to work a couple of extra months before retirement and require his 
children to work until they are 70.
  Nothing could be more out of touch with working-class, blue-collar 
workers across our country. I have no doubt that Mick Mulvaney would be 
able to work a few extra years in his current role as a Congressman or 
Director of OMB or a great job that he would get after those 
responsibilities, but what about millions of construction workers, 
carpenters, waitresses, gardeners, busdrivers, and others with 
physically demanding jobs? My father, a milkman--how many years can you 
work being a milkman? You have to go until you are 70 to receive a 
Social Security benefit in this country in the future? That is the 
challenge we have. We ask milkmen, we ask 69-year-old construction 
workers to lay cement in blistering summer heat because Social Security 
is no longer there when it is promised. Do we expect a 68-year-old 
window washer to climb the scaffolding every day when they cannot 
afford to retire without their Social Security benefits? We should not 
balance the budget on their backs. That is just plain wrong.
  Raising the Social Security retirement age is just one of many of 
President Trump's broken promises. He also wants to cut Medicare and 
the health care of millions of Americans. Congressman Mulvaney looks 
ready to do the President's bidding as well.
  Congressman Mulvaney has said we need to end Medicare as we know it 
and supported House Speaker Paul Ryan's destructive ideas to turn 
Medicare into a voucher program. Congressman Mulvaney went even further 
saying that those efforts did not go far enough. Those kinds of cuts to 
Medicare would be nothing short of a disaster for the 55 million 
Americans enrolled in the program, including the more than 1 million 
individuals in Massachusetts who rely on Medicare for their health care 
  Seniors deserve an OMB Director who will protect their health care, 
not put it on the chopping block. We know Congressman Mulvaney is 
deeply committed to these misguided ideas because we have seen how far 
he is willing to go to support them. He was one of the few key 
cheerleaders of the Republican government shutdown in 2013. He was 
willing to put millions of American families, businesses, and services 
at risk in order to defund the Affordable Care Act.
  That shutdown cost the United States more than $24 billion. At that 
time, Congressman Mulvaney said it was good policy. He said it was all 
worth it in order to prove a point. That simply is irresponsible. That 
kind of recklessness has no place in the Office of Management and 
Budget. Congressman Mulvaney also does not believe in raising the debt 
  Back in 2011, he put the economy at risk when Republicans held our 
debt limit hostage. He put the full faith and credit of the United 
States in danger by his willingness to allow the Treasury to default. 
That would have wreaked havoc on the financial markets and could have 
destabilized our entire economy, but Congressman Mulvaney dismissed 
these concerns and called the potential breach of the debt limit a 
fabricated crisis. Nothing could be more fiscally irresponsible and 
further from the truth.
  Congressman Mulvaney is not the type of leadership Americans expect 
in their government, and he is not the type of leadership needed to 
direct the Office of Management and Budget. Strong leadership is 
especially crucial at the Office of Management and Budget, where 
responsible oversight of the regulatory process is a requirement of the 
Director's job. The individual in charge must be willing to make fair 
determinations based on facts and evidence.
  Congressman Mulvaney's record gives me no confidence that he will 
meet this standard. Congressman Mulvaney also dismisses accepted 
science and rejects established facts. He has stated global warming is 
based on questionable science and has outright dismissed the threat 
that climate change imposes on the planet. OMB oversees agencies' use 
of the social cost of carbon, the Federal metric that assigns a dollar 
value for future damages to each ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the 
atmosphere. We need an OMB Director who accepts the consequences of 
climate change because it will be the most vulnerable in our society 
who will pay the highest price if we ignore climate science and the 
danger it poses, not only to our own country but to the rest of the 

  Our country faces serious challenges that require the careful and 
nonpartisan allocation of resources. We need a Director of the Office 
of Management and Budget who will hear the concerns of all Americans, 
not promote dangerous fiscal ideologies. Congressman Mulvaney has 
indicated that he will approach our budget with an ax, and it will be 
our seniors who will be first on the chopping block. I do not believe 
he is qualified to lead the Office of Management and Budget.
  I do so remembering 1981 and 1982. Ronald Reagan arrived, and Ronald 
Reagan had a very simple plan for America. He was going to do three 
things fundamentally; No. 1, massive tax cuts for the wealthiest and 
biggest corporations in America; No. 2, simultaneously increasing 
defense spending massively; No. 3, to simultaneously pledge that he was 
going to balance the budget while unleashing massive economic growth in 
our country.
  What he did then was to put together a team that had a remarkable 
ability to harness voluminous amounts of information to defend that 
knowingly erroneous premise. You cannot say you are heading toward 
balancing the budget if you are simultaneously saying: I am going to 
give massive tax breaks to those who need them the least and massive 
defense increases, which are going to further lead to Federal 
expenditures, because then you have to turn and you have to cut 
programs. You have to cut Medicare. You have to cut Social Security. 
You have to cut the EPA. You have to cut Head Start. You have to cut 
food stamps. You have to cut programs for the poorest. You have to cut 
all of those investments in science in the future. You have to cut and 
cut and cut.
  That really was not the goal because ultimately Ronald Reagan just 
retreated from the cuts because the pressure came from across America, 
but he had accomplished his principal goal, which was the massive 
defense increases and the tax cuts for the wealthy because that was the 
real agenda all along.
  So there is a great book, ``The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan 
Revolution Failed,'' by David Stockman. He was the head of OMB for 
Ronald Reagan back in the early 1980s. He wrote a book in 1986 about 
his experiences with this failed economic philosophy. It is a 
blistering, scalding indictment of what they tried to do in 1981

[[Page S1186]]

and 1982. He wrote this as a warning to the future, about why we should 
not try to repeat what Reagan tried to do in 1981 and 1982.
  What he talks about in the book is this. The same kind of made-up 
numbers to put a Panglossian--rose-colored glasses--the most optimistic 
projection on what would happen to our economy if we had these massive 
tax cuts and increases in defense spending, while pretending that we 
were going to do all of these other things, which actually never did 
  So he said, because the numbers did not add up, they had to engage in 
a lot of fiscal chicanery. What he did was he constructed two little 
separate categories. No. 1, he called it the magic asterisk. The magic 
asterisk was this attempt to avoid ever specifically having to itemize 
all of the budget cuts that would cause a revolution in America because 
they knew they could not put that list out.
  So they called it a magic asterisk--cuts to be named later, programs 
to be cut later. We all know the names of those programs--Medicare, 
Medicaid, education, Environmental Protection Agency, Head Start, all 
the way down the line--but we will just hide the ball on that.
  Secondly, he constructed another idea, he said, which was also 
fraudulent, which was called ``rosy scenario.'' What they would do is, 
they would put together a group of economists who would then, using 
completely bogus projections for the future, project massive economic 
growth. That is what Donald Trump talks about now: Oh, we will see 
growth that you have never seen before in the history of mankind--rosy 
  There is no economic data to back it up, but that is just how much 
Trump is trying to model himself after this attempt in 1981 and 1982 to 
sell the exact same bill of goods, which collapsed, by the way. They 
collapsed like a house of cards economically because it did not add up. 
You cannot have a magic asterisk for all of these cuts that are never 
going to happen because ultimately the Democrats are going to back down 
the Republicans.
  We are going to back them down on cutting Medicare. We are going to 
back them down on cutting education. We are going to back them down on 
cutting the budget for all of these great programs. We are going to 
have this battle. They already know it, but it is not going to stop 
them in terms of the first two programs, the tax cuts and the defense 
increases. They are going to still try to ram them through. That just 
creates bigger and bigger and bigger deficits.
  The only way they can get away with it is if they can project massive 
economic growth in our country, which is the ``rosy scenario.'' Then 
you have a bunch of economists who are kind of supply-siders who kind 
of look back at the 1980s and ask: Can't we go back to the Reagan era 
again and repeat that?
  You don't want to repeat it. The guy who put the program together 
said: Please don't do that again. Please don't do that again. He said 
here: Ronald Reagan chose not to be a leader but a politician, and in 
doing so, showed why passion and imperfection, not reason and doctrine, 
rule the world. ``His obstinacy,'' said David Stockman, ``was destined 
to keep America's economy hostage to the errors of his advisers for a 
long, long time.''

  Mark Twain used to say that ``history doesn't repeat itself, but it 
does tend to rhyme.'' So, yes, this isn't exactly like Ronald Reagan in 
1981 and 1982, but it rhymes with 1981 and 1982. It rhymes with it. 
They are trying to argue economics like lawyers, right? Politicians, PR 
people. Sell the bill of goods. Donald Trump calls it ``truthful 
hyperbole,'' like when he is selling a piece of property. Well, the 
United States is not a piece of property. The American economy is not a 
piece of property. It is the central organizing principle for all of 
the hopes and all of the dreams of every person who lives in our 
  You cannot allow for knowingly false premises to be advanced, and 
that is what Congressman Mulvaney will represent in this entire process 
if he is confirmed as the new head of the Office of Management and 
Budget. He represents someone who is going to reach back into time to 
this era which has already been shown to have completely failed and 
repeat the exact same experiment again. The American people just can't 
run the risk because ultimately the economic catastrophe--the impact on 
ordinary families--would be so great that ultimately we would look back 
and say that this Senate failed, that we did not discharge our 
responsibilities to those families.
  So from my perspective, I stand out here knowing that once again we 
are faced with this prospect of repeating David Stockman's book ``The 
Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed'' and knowing 
that when Donald Trump said: Oh, don't worry, I am going to take care 
of you, ordinary Americans; you are going to get the biggest tax 
breaks--they are not. That is not his plan.
  Oh, don't worry. I am going to give you better healthcare. I am going 
to give you more coverage for your families.
  That is not going to happen. That is not his plan.
  I am going to give you cleaner air and cleaner water. It is going to 
be the best. It is going to be the greatest.
  That is not going to happen.
  It is the triumph of politics. It is the triumph of the special 
interests, of the oil and gas industry, of the defense establishment 
that wants bigger and more contracts, of the wealthiest who want big 
tax breaks. It is the triumph of politics--the politics of the most 
powerful, of the wealthiest, of the most entrenched. That is what this 
Trump administration is already about, and they are going to continue 
to say: Don't worry. Your healthcare will be better. Your air will be 
cleaner. Your children will be safer. Social Security will be 
  But then who gets named to run the Office of Management and Budget? 
Somebody who wants to raise the retirement age to 70; someone who wants 
to fundamentally change Medicare as we know it; somebody who has an 
agenda that looks a lot like 1981 and 1982 in the Reagan years, very 
much like it.
  So is there anything new here? No. Is this just a sales job, a con 
job? Yes. Because when you pull back the covers and you look at what is 
about to unfold, it is something that is going to be very destructive 
of our economy. It is going to further income inequality across our 
country. It is going to reduce opportunity for every child in our 
country. Rather than democratizing access to opportunity through 
healthcare and education, they are going to work systematically to 
undermine those opportunities, to reduce the chances that they can 
maximize their God-given abilities.
  That is why this nomination is so important, because the OMB controls 
the Federal budget. That is all the hopes and all the dreams. That is 
where the money goes. Who gets it? What are the incentives?
  Right now, once again, Donald Trump is embracing Ronald Reagan's 
trickle-down economics: the more money you give to the people who are 
already rich, the more it will trickle down to ordinary folks.
  We don't hear him saying: Oh, don't worry, the overwhelming majority 
of these tax breaks are going to go to the blue-collar people in our 
country. You are not going to hear him say that. And when you look at 
all the proposals they have made, it always goes to the corporations, 
it always goes to the upper 1 or 2 percentile.
  Those promises he made are just the same as David Stockman's and 
Ronald Reagan's back in 1981 and 1982--identical almost down to the 
final detail--and are just as guaranteed to fail.
  We have Congressman Mulvaney who has been nominated. And give him 
credit--he is actually honest about what he believes. He is actually 
very clear in his explanation of what the goals are going to be for our 
country if he is confirmed and can partner with Donald Trump to 
implement this agenda. We give him credit for his honesty, but it is 
only honesty in saying that he is going to defend a set of economic 
assumptions that are completely and totally fallacious and have already 
been disproved in the marketplace--the political marketplace.
  So all I can say here is that it would be reckless of the Senate to 
deliver over to the American people once again someone whose intent is 
to try to take this formula which gathers voluminous amounts of 
information to defend knowingly erroneous premises.

[[Page S1187]]

  You cannot have massive tax cuts and massive increases in defense 
spending and balance the budget without killing all of these programs 
that almost every American family relies on, beginning with Social 
Security and Medicare and Medicaid, education programs, all the way 
down. We can't do it.
  So that is why we are fighting out here. We are fighting to make sure 
we don't repeat the same history we have already lived through.
  By the time Reagan reached near the end of his career, guess what he 
did. He changed and began to acclimate himself to reality. He began to 
accept, through a group of new advisers, the actual impact his initial 
policies were having. And that is all we are trying to do right now. We 
are trying to start out where we are going to be forced to wind up 
anyway. Why not do that since we have already learned the lesson? Why 
not have those lessons of the past be implemented? But no. They are 
committed to a repetition syndrome, a reenactment of what has already 
occurred, rather than a reconciliation with history, learning from it 
and then trying to move forward in a way which is wise, protective of 
every American.
  I stand here to oppose Congressman Mulvaney's nomination for the 
Office of Management and Budget. I do not believe it would be a good 
thing for our country, for our economy. This is just too dangerous a 
roll of the dice with our entire Nation. So I say to the Senate, please 
vote to reject this nomination, and ask the President to nominate 
someone who does reflect the best economic values that our country has.
  With that, I yield to the Senator from Washington State, Mrs. Murray.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.

                             Andrew Puzder

  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, before I begin to speak about the 
nomination before us right now, I did want to comment on the breaking 
news regarding the nomination of Andrew Puzder.
  There is some good news today for workers and women and families in 
America. Back on the campaign trail, President Trump promised to put 
workers first, but from the start, it has been pretty clear that his 
nominee for Secretary of Labor, who has now withdrawn, was a clear 
signal that President Trump had no intention of keeping that promise, 
and instead he planned to rig his Cabinet with the staunchest allies 
for Wall Street--big corporations and special interests--that he could 
  So I am not surprised that when workers and families heard about the 
pride Mr. Puzder takes in objectifying women, that he called his own 
workers ``the best of the worst,'' and that his vision for our economy 
is one in which workers are squeezed so those at the top can boost 
their profits higher and higher, they said no. They spoke up loud and 
clear that they want a true champion for all workers in the Labor 
  I just want to thank all the workers who bravely shared their stories 
in the last few months. It is clear today that your words are powerful, 
and I am going to keep bringing your voices here to the Senate, and we 
will keep fighting.
  With that, Mr. President, I wanted to be here today to speak about 
OMB Director Nominee Mulvaney. I submitted comments on this nomination 
in the Budget Committee, and I want to bring them to the full Senate 
  I am here today to urge my colleagues to oppose Congressman Mulvaney. 
Mr. President, we all know that a budget is more than just numbers on a 
page; a budget represents our values and our priorities, the kind of 
Nation we are now and the kind of Nation we want to be.
  Congressman Mulvaney is not shy about where he stands on this. When I 
sat down with him a couple of weeks ago, he made it very clear that he 
would use our budget to radically reshape our country in a way that I 
believe would be devastating to families, to seniors, to veterans, to 
the middle class, and to many others.
  Congressman Mulvaney has said he wants to make drastic, radical cuts 
to Federal investments, trillions of dollars across the board. His 
budget proposals would slash Federal funding for education, leaving 
students across the country with fewer opportunities to learn and to 
succeed. They would cut investments in jobs and training, leaving our 
workers scrambling to keep up with the changing economy. They would 
eliminate support for children and families who need a hand up to get 
back on their feet. They would eliminate basic medical research that 
creates jobs and leads to lifesaving cures. They would continue the 
work President Trump has done to destroy healthcare in America and 
create even more chaos and confusion. They would lead to dramatic cuts 
to Medicare and Medicaid, betraying the commitments we have made to our 
seniors and so much more. He wants to do that while giving away even 
more tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations and 
has proposed raising the Social Security retirement age to 70, causing 
millions of Americans to drop under the poverty line. In other words, 
Congressman Mulvaney's nomination is another perfect example of how 
President Trump is breaking the promises he made on the campaign trail 
to stand with workers and seniors and the middle class.
  Just a few years ago, Congressman Mulvaney was at the fringes of the 
Republican Party. He is one of the most extreme members of the tea 
party wing of the party who supported the government shutdown when 
others were working to end it; who failed to show the proper concern 
about a potentially catastrophic breach of the debt limit and remains 
cavalier even now, telling me he would advise the President against 
accepting a clean debt limit; who, by the way, isn't even willing to 
support the budget deal I reached with Speaker Ryan. He is someone whom 
responsible members of his own Republican Party scorned just a few 
years ago and whose budget ideas they rejected as damaging, unworkable, 
and political suicide. But now he is the person whom Republicans are 
holding up as a budget leader.
  As we see this nomination, as we see Republicans use the budget 
process to slam through a partisan plan to destroy our healthcare 
system, it is clearer than ever how far the Republican Party has moved, 
even from the days of our bipartisan budget deal.
  Finally, I am extremely troubled by Congressman Mulvaney's failure to 
pay taxes and comply with the law. I know I am not the only one who has 
been here long enough to see Cabinet nominees withdraw over less 
egregious breaches than this. Congressman Mulvaney's motivations, 
explanations, and defenses have not been credible. It is hard to 
believe that every single one of my Republican colleagues feels 
comfortable with someone with such a serious lapse of judgment in 
charge of the budget of this administration.

  I voted against Congressman Mulvaney in the Budget Committee for 
those reasons and more, and I am here today to oppose his nomination, 
and I urge my colleagues to do the same. Certainly, we can do better 
than this.
  Thank you, Mr. President, and I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I think Senator Murray has said it very 
well, and I want to pick up on what I think is really at stake with 
this nomination. In effect, if confirmed, Congressman Mulvaney would be 
the numbers guy for the Trump team, the architect for the President's 
fiscal plan for the Nation's future.
  I want to start by way of saying that, when you look at the 
President's promises that he made on the campaign trail to protect 
Medicare and Social Security from draconian cuts, Congressman 
Mulvaney's nomination and his record would be one of the biggest bait-
and-switch schemes inflicted on America's seniors that I can imagine.
  I am going to start by taking a minute to read some of what the 
President said on the campaign trail. He said:

       Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social 
     Security. They want to do it on Medicare . . . and we can't 
     do that. It's not fair to the people.

  The President said: ``It's my absolute intention to leave Social 
Security the way it is, not increase the age, but to leave it as-is.''
  The President said:

       You can't get rid of Medicare. Medicare's a program that 
     works . . . people love Medicare and it's unfair to them. I'm 
     going to fix it and make it better, but I'm not going to cut 

[[Page S1188]]

  So those are just some of the promises that President Trump made with 
respect to Social Security and Medicare. There are quotes like that 
from rallies and campaign events and debates over a period of some 
months. I think it would be fair to say that, for a lot of seniors, 
when they heard that--when they heard these promises that these vital 
programs would be protected--that was a political litmus test for many 
American older people. So I describe this contrast between the promises 
of President Trump and Candidate Trump and Congressman Mulvaney as a 
bait and switch, but I think the Senate needs to know a little bit more 
detail with respect to specifics.
  In 2011 Congressman Mulvaney said: ``We have to end Medicare as we 
know it.'' He added in another interview: ``Medicare as it exists today 
is finished.'' He proposed raising the Social Security age to 70. He 
called the program a Ponzi scheme. While he was a State lawmaker, he 
even voted to declare Social Security unconstitutional.
  My sense is it will be a while before seniors get over the whiplash 
from the 180-degree turn the administration has pulled on Medicare and 
Social Security cuts.
  Now, with respect to the days ahead, for me, a lot of this debate 
starts in my days when I was codirector of the Oregon Gray Panthers. 
The seniors that I worked with knew what those programs meant. It was 
their grandparents who faced old age without Social Security. Those 
seniors with whom I worked during those Gray Panther days remember what 
happened before we had the safety net. Before there was Social Security 
and Medicare, you would have needy older people shunted off to poor 
farms and almshouses. Even if you had meager savings, you were on your 
own for income or you had to rely on family, and lots of family members 
were not exactly well off. If you came down with a serious illness, it 
really meant that you would be living in poverty and squalor. Social 
Security and Medicare changed those unacceptable terms of the social 
contract between this country and older people--and changed it for all 
time. Those programs were about saying that in America--for the older 
people who fought our wars, strengthened our communities day in and day 
out, made America a better place because they were always pitching in 
to help and be constructive--Medicare and Social Security meant that 
older people and seniors would not face a life of destitution.
  That is why I believe every Member of this body--and I heard Senator 
Murray talk about this--ought to find what Congressman Mulvaney has 
said against Medicare--his anti-Medicare and anti-Social Security 
agenda--so troubling. I want to be very specific about the days ahead. 
Medicare, at its core, has always been a promise. It has been a promise 
of guaranteed benefits. It is not a voucher. It is not a slip of paper. 
It is a promise of guaranteed benefits. We made the judgment--I just 
went briefly through some of the history--because no one would ever 
know how healthy they would be when they reached age 65. We talked 
about it in the Budget Committee and in a number of meetings here in 
the Senate. I am definitely for updating the Medicare promise, updating 
the Medicare guarantee, and improving it, for example, to include 
chronic care services, cancer services, diabetes, services dealing with 
a whole host of chronic illnesses. That is going to consume much of the 
Medicare budget. We can have more home care and we can use 
telemedicine, and we can use nonphysician providers.
  Senator Murray knows that in our part of the country we really have 
found a way to get people good quality care in an affordable way, but 
we are keeping the promise. We are keeping the promise of the Medicare 

  Congressman Mulvaney would break the promise of Medicare. If 
confirmed, he would join his former House colleague who just became 
Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, who said in really very 
blunt terms over the years that he wanted to privatize the program. He 
wanted to privatize and cut the program. He basically indicated with 
his legislation that he didn't really believe in Medicare, and he 
didn't believe in the guarantee of services that Medicare provided. If 
you look at Congressman Mulvaney's record, it certainly indicates he 
shares the views of our former House colleague who just became Health 
and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price.
  With respect to Social Security, this year nearly 62 million 
Americans and their families count on receiving retirement, survivors, 
and disability benefits to stay afloat. This is a program that keeps 
tens of millions of seniors out of poverty. It is unquestionably one of 
the most popular programs in American history. It has changed the 
fabric of the country for the better.
  Again, I think about the days when I worked with older people. We had 
millions of older people who month in and month out would just walk an 
economic tightrope. They would try to balance their food costs against 
their fuel costs and their fuel costs against their medical costs. 
Social Security and Medicare came along to make sure those older people 
wouldn't be pushed off that economic tightrope. So Social Security has 
changed the fabric of the country for the better without doubt, and yet 
Congressman Mulvaney proposes to raise the Social Security age to 70, 
which would be a 20 percent cut to benefits.
  Let's picture what this means, particularly for the millions of older 
people who might not have had a job where they could work on their 
laptop, and they had a physical job. They worked hours and hours on 
their feet day in and day out. Ask the single mom who spent decades 
working multiple jobs that way to put food on the table and send her 
kids to school what it is going to mean to cut their benefits that 
way--or the loggers or the dock workers, the miners, and all of those 
people who have worked hard and have been on their feet with physically 
grueling work. Ask them about raising the Social Security age this way. 
I think you are going to get a pretty good sense of how strongly 
Americans oppose this kind of Mulvaney approach.
  So by way of summing up, I think it would be hard to find a more 
significant task for the Congress at this time than protecting Social 
Security and Medicare, advocating for the two as great achievements in 
the history of American policymaking. They are right at the center of 
our safety net.
  Now you have to give Congressman Mulvaney credit for one thing. He 
has been blunt, he has been explicit, and he is not shy about 
essentially his vision of hollowing these programs out and dismantling 
them. When asked about whether he was going to stick to his proposal to 
cut the programs, he said:

       I have to imagine that the President knew what he was 
     getting when he asked me to fill this role. I would like to 
     think it is why he hired me.

  That is why I say--and Senator Murray touched on this--what kind of a 
bait-and-switch game are we talking about here? You have the 
President--Candidate Trump--saying: Nothing doing; nobody is going to 
mess with Social Security and Medicare--off limits. I want older people 
in America to know they are going to be safe if they elect me.
  It was almost like a litmus test for America's older people. Then 
Congressman Mulvaney comes along and he basically calls the bluff on 
the whole thing. He describes the bait and switch in very blunt terms, 
where he says: ``I have to imagine the President knew what he was 
getting when he asked me to fill this role''--that the President knew 
what the Mulvaney record was all about, which was about ending Medicare 
as we know it.
  So I will just close by way of saying that I see that a big part of 
my job, and what Oregonians sent me here to do, is to defend Medicare 
and Social Security for generations of Americans to come. That is why I 
am a no on the Mulvaney nomination. I urge my colleagues to oppose the 
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. McCASKILL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mrs. McCASKILL. Mr. President, most Americans don't know who the 
Director of OMB is, but I want to stand today and explain what an 
important position in our government it truly is.

[[Page S1189]]

  The Director of OMB is responsible for not only implementing and 
articulating the President's budget but also safeguarding the 
regulatory process. I would say there is another part of the job 
because when you are Director of OMB and you are putting the budget 
out, you also have to understand the checks and balances of our 
government, including that there are two Houses in Congress and there 
are different opinions in Congress. Sometimes, in order to get a 
budget, the word ``compromise'' has to be utilized, which, by the way, 
was one of the favorite concepts of our Founding Fathers in our 
Constitution. That is why they embraced checks and balances, because 
they wanted to foster compromises and consensus.
  That is why Representative Mulvaney is not the right person for this 
job. He is someone who has been a disrupter. There is a place for 
disrupters in government. I am not casting aside all disrupters, but I 
don't think a disrupter belongs as the head of the OMB.
  Some people are going to talk a lot about his career and quote him: 
``We have to end Medicare as we know it.'' Others will talk about how 
he has agreed with the characterization of Social Security as a Ponzi 
scheme; that he has advocated raising the Social Security eligibility 
age to 70, even for people who would be as old as 59 right now and 
maybe having worked in physical labor all of their lives. Yes, he has 
advocated dramatic changes in dismantling Medicare and Social Security 
in many ways. I would like to focus on the fact that he thinks it is OK 
to default on the debt, that he thinks a government shutdown was good 
policy in terms of making a point, and that he has supported 
indiscriminate cuts to our defense budget that were a blunt instrument 
based on an ideology and not a thoughtful position based on our 
national security.
  I listened to Mr. Mulvaney as he said to me in a one-on-one meeting 
how he would prioritize the debts he would pay if he defaulted on the 
debt. Wouldn't that be a great addition to the chaos we are all feeling 
right now; that the U.S. Government would be Turkey or Greece or 
another country that is having trouble meeting its obligations.
  We have been a beacon on the Hill not just for freedom and not just 
for liberty but a beacon on the Hill in terms of economic strength. The 
notion that we would not rise to our obligations--understanding, as 
Congressman Mulvaney does, that this is not a spending issue; this is a 
meeting-our-obligations issue. This is like buying a pickup truck and 
halfway through the payments you decide you don't want to pay anymore. 
This isn't a matter of deciding whether you are going to buy the pickup 
truck in the first place. That is the appropriations process. Raising 
the debt limit is merely deciding we are going to pay our obligations.
  So the fact that he believes brinkmanship is a good thing in terms of 
shutting down the government, the fact that defaulting on our debt is 
an option for Congressman Mulvaney, the fact that if you look at those 
positions, you realize compromise is not part of his vocabulary; that 
brinkmanship and rigid ideology is what he would bring to this process, 
that is the last thing we need in Washington, DC, right now, 
brinkmanship and rigid ideology, especially when it comes to our budget 
and prioritizing our funds.
  So I cannot support Congressman Mulvaney. As the ranking member on 
the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I hope I can 
urge my other colleagues to understand that there are many people whom 
I could support for Director of OMB, but Congressman Mulvaney is not 
one of them.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the nomination of 
Congressman Mick Mulvaney to serve as the Director of the Office of 
Management and Budget.
  Under most circumstances, I always give the benefit of the doubt to 
the incoming President for obvious reasons; that he is the choice of 
the American people. So it is with great reluctance that I come to the 
floor of the Senate to rise in opposition to the nomination of 
Congressman Mick Mulvaney.
  President Trump has committed to ``end the Defense sequester and 
rebuild our military.'' Earlier this month, the President promised 
troops at CENTCOM headquarters that his administration ``will make an 
historic financial investment in the armed forces of the United 
States.'' I fully support the President's commitment. I fear that 
Congressman Mulvaney, as the Director of the Office of Management and 
Budget, does not.
  I believe we must rebuild our military while at the same time putting 
our Nation on a sustainable, long-term fiscal path. We can and must do 
both. Unfortunately, Congressman Mulvaney has spent his last 6 years in 
the House of Representatives pitting the national debt against our 
military. He offered amendments in support of cutting our national 
defense funding year after year after year.
  As my colleagues and I sought repeatedly to find legislative 
solutions to reverse dangerous defense cuts and eliminate arbitrary 
defense spending caps, it was Congressman Mulvaney and his allies who 
repeatedly sought to torpedo these efforts.
  In 2013, Congressman Mulvaney succeeded in passing an amendment to 
cut $3.5 billion from the Defense appropriations bill. His website 
featured an article touting the achievement, but when I asked him about 
that vote during his confirmation hearing, Congressman Mulvaney said he 
didn't remember that amendment. I think anybody who treats our national 
defense with the seriousness it deserves would remember a vote like 
  President Trump has said that defense cuts over the last several 
years have depleted our military. Our military leaders have testified 
that these cuts have placed the ``lives of'' our military 
``servicemembers at greater risk.'' That is an exact quote from our 
military leaders, but Congressman Mulvaney has said that in the greater 
scheme of things, sequestration cuts were not that big. He also said: 
``The only thing worse than those military cuts would be no cuts at 
  This is the kind of statement that can only be made by a person 
detached from the reality of what these cuts have meant to military 
servicemembers. Tell that to the thousands of soldiers who were forced 
out of the Army because of these cuts. Tell that to the Marine pilots 
who fly fewer hours per month than their Russian and Chinese 
counterparts because of these cuts. Tell that to the Air Force 
maintainers, stealing parts from retired aircraft and museum pieces to 
keep their planes in the air because of sequestration. Tell that to the 
crew of the submarine USS Boise who can't deploy because their boat is 
no longer qualified to dive and can't receive required upkeep because 
of chronic maintenance backlogs. Tell that to the thousands of Navy 
sailors who have picked up the slack for an overworked Navy by going on 
extended deployments and spending more and more time away from their 
families, all because of the defense cuts.
  Congressman Mulvaney's beliefs, as revealed by his poor record on 
defense spending, are fundamentally at odds with President Trump's 
commitment to rebuild our military. This record can't be ignored in 
light of the significant authority exercised by the Director of the OMB 
over the Federal budget.
  Almost every one of my colleagues in this body--all but one--voted 
for Jim Mattis to be Secretary of Defense because they knew he was the 
right leader to help the Department of Defense confront growing threats 
to our national security. I share that same confidence, but I also know 
he can't do it alone. Voting in favor of Congressman Mulvaney's 
nomination would be asking Secretary Mattis to spend less time fighting 
our enemies overseas and more time fighting inside the beltway budget 
battles with an OMB Director with a deep ideological commitment to 
cutting the resources available to his Department.
  Congressman Mulvaney's record is equally troubling when it comes to 
foreign policy. Apparently, Congressman Mulvaney shared President 
Obama's naive assumptions about Russia's threat to Eastern security 
when he voted to require the withdrawal of two Army brigade combat 
teams from Europe in 2012. He compounded the error in 2013 when he 
voted to withdraw the 2nd Cavalry Regiment from Europe. Congressman 
Mulvaney and others

[[Page S1190]]

supported these withdrawals in the name of saving money, but the 
shortsighted decision to withdraw troops and capabilities from Europe 
ended up costing the taxpayers billions more, not less.
  When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, America's military presence in 
Europe was inadequate to the scale and scope of Russia's threat to our 
interests and our allies. Addressing this problem has required billions 
of dollars in new investments to enhance our deterrent posture in 
Europe; in other words, American taxpayers, quite literally, paid the 
price for the strategic mistake of withdrawing from Europe, supported 
by Congressman Mulvaney.
  In 2011, Congressman Mulvaney voted for the immediate withdrawal of 
all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. I repeat that. This is not a 
typographical error. In 2011, Congressman Mulvaney voted for the 
immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Congressman 
Mulvaney voting to abandon America's mission to prevent Afghanistan 
from becoming a safe haven for terrorists to attack our homeland as 
they did on September 11, is disturbing enough, but Congressman 
Mulvaney's testimony during his confirmation hearing that he did so at 
the urging of a single constituent, with no apparent regard for the 
national security consequences, leaves me with serious doubts about his 
judgment on matters of national security.
  Beyond matters of defense and national security policy, I am also 
concerned about Congressman Mulvaney's support for reckless budget 
strategies that led to a government shutdown. He made frequent attempts 
to diminish the impact of the shutdown by referring to it as a 
``government slowdown,'' or the more Orwellian term, ``temporary lapse 
in appropriations.'' There are few people whose views and record are 
more representative of the dysfunction that has gripped Washington for 
the last several years than that attitude.
  Over my 30 years in the Senate, I have shown great deference to 
Presidents of both parties in selecting members of their Cabinet, but I 
cannot on this nominee. My decision to oppose this nomination is not 
about one person. It is not about one Cabinet position. This is not 
personal. This is not political. This is about principle. This is about 
my conviction as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee that 
providing for the common defense is our highest constitutional duty and 
that rebuilding our military must be the No. 1 priority of the Congress 
and the White House.
  I will vote to oppose Congressman Mulvaney's nomination because it 
would be irresponsible to place the future of the defense budget in the 
hands of a person with such a record and judgment on national security.
  This is the beginning, not the end, of the fight to rebuild our 
military. I will continue to stand on principle as this body considers 
a budget resolution for the coming fiscal year and Defense 
authorization bill and a Defense appropriations bill, and I will 
continue to stand on principle in fighting to bring a full repeal of 
the Budget Control Act's discretionary spending caps to the floor of 
the Senate.
  For 6 years now, Washington dysfunction has imposed very real 
consequences on the thousands of Americans serving in uniform and 
sacrificing on our behalf all around the Nation and the world.
  From Afghanistan to Iraq and Syria, to the heart of Europe, to the 
seas of Asia, our troops are doing everything we ask of them. It is 
time for those of us in this body to do all we can for them. So long as 
I serve as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, it is my pledge to 
do just that.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.

                       Nomination of Neil Gorsuch

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, 2 weeks ago, President Trump nominated 
Tenth Circuit judge Neil Gorsuch of Colorado to fill the vacancy left 
by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Gorsuch, in 
my opinion, is the ideal choice to fill this seat. He has impeccable 
credentials and a decade-long record on the bench demonstrating a keen 
understanding of the proper role of a judge.
  Given the increasingly contentious nature of the confirmation 
process, it is not surprising that many of my colleagues on the other 
side of the aisle and their special interest group allies are 
stretching to find anything objectionable about Judge Gorsuch, no 
matter how ridiculous.
  Today, I wish to address one of their latest, most outlandish claims: 
that Judge Gorsuch would not serve as an independent check on the 
executive branch. For example, last week in Politico, Senator Schumer, 
the distinguished Senator from New York, declared in an opinion piece: 
``The most important factor in assessing a Supreme Court nominee . . . 
is whether or not the potential justice will be an independent check on 
an executive who may act outside our nation's laws and the 
Constitution.'' Senator Schumer doubled down on these comments in the 
New York Times. There, he argued that it was impossible for him to 
discern Judge Gorsuch's judicial independence when they met in person. 
Why? Because Judge Gorsuch refused to say how he would rule on specific 
issues or how he would review particular government actions. These 
misleading narratives are an irrelevant, wasteful distraction from our 
consideration of Judge Gorsuch's sterling record and the merits of 
confirming him to the Supreme Court.
  Last month, I warned that the left would use these diversion tactics 
in an attempt to discredit the President's nominee. Shortly before 
Judge Gorsuch's nomination was announced, I predicted in an opinion 
piece in the Washington Post that advocates and interest groups would 
want to know how the nominee would decide particular cases before those 
cases ever reached the Court to make sure the nominee is on the right 
team. I was right.
  Our Nation's Founders would have been embarrassed by such questions. 
Instead, the questions we ask should focus on whether the nominee will 
interpret and apply the law faithfully and neutrally no matter what the 
issue is. After all, that is what our Constitution demands.
  Our Founders are not the only ones who would be embarrassed. I have 
been in the Senate for the last dozen Supreme Court confirmations. 
Every nominee we have considered has rightly refused to answer such 
questions. Consider, for example, Justice Ginsburg's response at her 
confirmation hearing. She said:

       A judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, 
     no hints, for that would show not only disregard for the 
     specifics of the particular case, it would display disdain 
     for the entire judicial process.

  Just last month in a speech in Arizona, Justice Sotomayor had an even 
stronger warning against asking and answering such questions. She said:

       What you want is for us to tell you how as a judicial 
     nominee we're going to rule on the important issues you find 
     vexing. . . . Any self-respecting judge who comes in with an 
     agenda that would permit that judge to tell you how they will 
     vote is the kind of person you don't want as a judge.

  So let's stop with this nonsense of trying to get Judge Gorsuch to 
prejudge issues that could come before the Court. I hope my colleagues 
appreciate the irony in asking a judge to say how they would rule on 
particular issues in order to prove that the judge is judicially 
independent. I agree with Justice Sotomayor: A nominee who will tell 
you how she would vote is the kind of person you do not want as a 
  But if judicial independence really is the most important factor, as 
Senator Schumer suggests, then this confirmation process should be the 
easiest one in the Senate's history. Over 11 years on the Tenth 
Circuit, Judge Gorsuch has consistently demonstrated in his judicial 
opinions and other writings that he deeply values the constitutional 
separation of powers between the three branches of the Federal 
Government. Judge Gorsuch understands that the Constitution gives each 
branch distinct roles: Congress makes the laws, the President enforces 
those laws, and the courts interpret those laws and the Constitution. 
The branches may act only according to the powers the Constitution 
grants them, with the remaining powers and rights reserved to the 
States and ultimately to the people.

  With respect to the power of the executive branch, Judge Gorsuch has 
a strong record of reining in actions which violate the Constitution 
and the

[[Page S1191]]

law. Perhaps the best example is his opinion in the immigration case 
Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch. There, the Attorney General attempted to 
apply a new agency rule retroactively prohibiting a noncitizen from 
receiving relief under Federal immigration law. Writing for the Tenth 
Circuit, Judge Gorsuch ruled that such action exceeded the executive's 
power to enforce the law.
  In a separate opinion, he noted that there is an elephant in the 
room: the so-called Chevron deference doctrine, which requires courts 
to defer to Federal agency interpretations of the law we pass. He 
expressed constitutional concerns about Chevron deference. Judge 
Gorsuch wrote:

       [T]he fact is Chevron . . . permit[s] executive 
     bureaucracies to swallow huge amounts of core judicial and 
     legislative power and concentrate federal power in a way that 
     seems more than a little difficult to square with the 
     Constitution of the framers' design. Maybe the time has come 
     to face the behemoth.

  Judge Gorsch then proceeded to provide a textbook explanation of the 
proper separation of powers under our Constitution. As he stated, the 
Founders included a strong separation of powers in the Constitution 
because ``[a] government of diffused powers, they knew, is a government 
less capable of invading the liberties of the people.''
  As my colleagues know, I am no fan of Chevron deference. Last 
Congress, I introduced the Separation of Powers Restoration Act to get 
rid of it. As I noted when I introduced the legislation, regulators 
have taken advantage of the courts' deference under Chevron to shoehorn 
the law for their own political agenda, expanding their authority well 
beyond congressional intent. But the Constitution's separation of 
powers makes clear that it is the responsibility of the courts, not the 
bureaucracy, to interpret the law. So I am pleased Judge Gorsuch 
understands that the Constitution requires Federal judges to serve as 
an independent check on how Federal agencies interpret the laws we 
  Separation of powers is not just about ensuring that the executive 
branch performs its proper role of executing the law; separation of 
powers is also about making sure Federal judges understand their proper 
role under the Constitution. As Chief Justice Marshall famously 
explained in Marbury v. Madison, judges have a constitutional duty to 
say what the law is. Simply put, judges must be faithful interpreters 
of our laws and the Constitution.
  Under our constitutional separation of powers, it is not the role of 
Federal judges to make or change laws by imposing their own policy 
preferences. It is not their role to look beyond the law to consider 
their personal views and feelings. And it is not their role to choose 
winners and losers based on subjective beliefs that favor one group 
over another.
  In my 40 years in the Senate, I have reviewed the record of hundreds 
of nominees for the Federal bench. I don't think I have ever reviewed 
the record of a nominee who better understands his proper role under 
the Constitution than Judge Gorsuch. Consider, for example, Judge 
Gorsuch's touching tribute to Justice Scalia that was published last 
year in the Case Western Reserve Law Review. In that speech, Judge 
Gorsuch eloquently explained how judges should not be in the business 
of ruling in ways that reflect their own political views or policy 
preferences. Judges, after all, are not elected legislators. Instead, 
judges should interpret the law as written. They must start with the 
text of the statute and then utilize the traditional tools of statutory 
interpretations to discern the meaning of any particular law.
  Judge Gorsuch understands, to borrow from Alexander Hamilton, that 
the judiciary should be the least dangerous branch. These aren't just 
words; Judge Gorsuch's judicial record confirms that he lives this 
judicial philosophy of restraint and humility.
  In an essay I published last week on SCOTUSblog, I reviewed a number 
of judicial opinions by Judge Gorsuch that demonstrate his commitment 
to the separation of powers and the proper role of a judge in our 
Federal system. I will not go through all of those cases here, but I 
ask unanimous consent that the essay be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                           [From SCOTUSblog]

   Worried About the Separation of Powers? Then Confirm Judge Gorsuch

                        (By Senator Orrin Hatch)

       Last week, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Neil 
     Gorsuch to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme 
     Court. Judge Gorsuch is an ideal choice to fill this seat: He 
     has impeccable credentials and a decade-long record on the 
     bench demonstrating a keen understanding of the proper role 
     of a judge. Given the increasingly contentious nature of the 
     confirmation process, it is no surprise that many Democrats 
     are stretching to find anything objectionable about Judge 
     Gorsuch, no matter how ridiculous. In the current political 
     environment, they have focused much of their criticism on one 
     particularly strained argument: their claim that Justice 
     Gorsuch would not serve as an independent check on the 
     executive branch.
       Fortunately, we do not have to speculate about how Justice 
     Gorsuch would decide these kinds of cases. Judge Gorsuch has 
     consistently demonstrated in his judicial opinions and other 
     writings that he deeply values the constitutional separation 
     of powers between the three branches of the federal 
     government. Judge Gorsuch understands that the Constitution 
     gives each branch distinct roles: Congress makes the laws, 
     the President enforces those laws, and the courts interpret 
     those laws and the Constitution. The branches may act only 
     according to the powers the Constitution grants them, with 
     the remaining powers and rights reserved to the states and, 
     ultimately, to the people.
       With respect to the power of the executive branch, Judge 
     Gorsuch has a strong record of reining in unlawful overreach. 
     For instance, in Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, the Attorney 
     General had attempted to apply a new agency rule 
     retroactively to prohibit a noncitizen from receiving relief 
     under federal immigration law. Writing for the U.S. Court of 
     Appeals for the 10th Circuit, Judge Gorsuch concluded that 
     such action exceeded the executive's power to enforce the 
     law. In a separate opinion, he went one step further and 
     expressed concerns about how judge-made doctrines that 
     require judicial deference to federal agency actions--namely, 
     Chevron deference and its progeny--''permit executive 
     bureaucracies to swallow huge amounts of core judicial and 
     legislative power and concentrate federal power in a way that 
     seems more than a little difficult to square with the 
     Constitution of the framers' design.'' Judge Gorsuch then 
     proceeded to provide a textbook explanation of the proper 
     separation of powers between the three branches, concluding 
     that ``[i]t was to avoid dangers like these, dangers the 
     founders had studied and seen realized in their own time, 
     that they pursued the separation of powers. A government of 
     diffused powers, they knew, is a government less capable of 
     invading the liberties of the people.''
       Nor is Judge Gorsuch a supporter of federal judges who go 
     beyond their constitutional role in interpreting the law. As 
     Judge Gorsuch has eloquently explained, ``judges should be in 
     the business of declaring what the law is using the 
     traditional tools of interpretation, rather than pronouncing 
     the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own 
     political views, always with an eye on the outcome, and 
     engaged perhaps in some Benthamite calculation of pleasures 
     and pains along the way.'' It is not judges' role to make or 
     change laws by imposing their own policy preferences instead 
     of what Congress actually passed. It is not their role to 
     look beyond the text of the law to consider their personal 
     views and feelings. And it is not their role to choose 
     winners and losers based on subjective beliefs that favor one 
     group over another. Judge Gorsuch's opinions reinforce his 
     judicial philosophy of restraint and humility and his proper 
     understanding--to borrow from Alexander Hamilton--that the 
     judiciary should be the ``least dangerous'' branch.
       Consider, for example, United States v. Games-Perez. There, 
     the 10th Circuit upheld a conviction for possession of a 
     firearm by a felon. The criminal defendant argued that he was 
     unaware that he was a convicted felon, but the court rejected 
     this argument as foreclosed by the court's prior precedent. 
     Judge Gorsuch penned a separate opinion. He agreed that the 
     court was bound by its own precedent, but he wrote separately 
     to urge the court to reconsider its precedent in light of the 
     plain text of the statute that requires the government to 
     prove the defendant knew he was a convicted felon. As Judge 
     Gorsuch explained, ``we might be better off applying the law 
     Congress wrote than the one [the court] hypothesized. It is a 
     perfectly clear law as it is written, plain in its terms, 
     straightforward in its application.'' He continued: ``Of 
     course, if Congress wishes to revise the plain terms of [the 
     statute], it is free to do so anytime. But there is simply no 
     right or reason for this court to be in that business.''
       Sometimes a judge is asked to consider the proper 
     separation of powers between all three branches. For 
     instance, in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, the 10th 
     Circuit considered whether certain regulations issued by the 
     U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the 
     Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act violated the 
     plaintiffs' rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration 
     Act. In particular, the plaintiffs argued that the 
     regulations' health

[[Page S1192]]

     insurance mandate for employers violated RFRA's statutory 
     protections on religious freedom by forcing employers to 
     provide health insurance coverage for abortion-
     inducing drugs and devices. Judge Gorsuch's opinion explained 
     why the owners of one of the plaintiff companies were 
     entitled to relief under RFRA. As an initial matter, he noted 
     that the owners' ``religious convictions are contestable'' 
     and that ``[s]ome may even find [their] beliefs offensive,'' 
     but that RFRA ``does perhaps its most important work in 
     protecting unpopular religious beliefs.''
       Judge Gorsuch then turned to the statutory interpretation 
     question at issue and noted that the case was a ``tale of two 
     statutes.'' Wrote Judge Gorsuch: ``The ACA compels the 
     [plaintiffs] to act. RFRA says they need not. We are asked to 
     decide which legislative direction controls.'' To decide 
     which statute controlled, he did not defer to the executive 
     branch's position on the matter. Nor did he seek to impose 
     his own policy preferences. To the contrary, he noted that 
     ``[t]he tiebreaker is found not in our own opinions about 
     good policy but in the laws Congress enacted.'' Because 
     ``Congress structured RFRA to override other legal mandates, 
     including its own statutes, if and when they encroach on 
     religious liberty,'' and ``because the government identifies 
     no explicit exclusion in the ACA to its dictates,'' Judge 
     Gorsuch concluded, RFRA's directive prevailed.
       Even a casual review of Judge Gorsuch's opinions should 
     eliminate any concerns my Senate colleagues may have 
     concerning his commitment to the Constitution's separation of 
     powers. In his opinions, Judge Gorsuch has resisted executive 
     branch efforts to make laws as opposed to merely enforcing 
     those laws as written. Indeed, his opinions and other 
     writings cogently make the case for this approach to 
     separation of powers in a way that finds few rivals on the 
     federal bench and reminds me much of the case Justice Scalia 
     made during his time on the Court. Judge Gorsuch, moreover, 
     has been a model of respect for the proper judicial role, a 
     judicial philosophy under which ``judges seek to interpret 
     texts as reasonable affected parties might have done rather 
     than rewrite texts to suit their own policy preferences.''
       To be sure, that Justice Gorsuch would be a fierce defender 
     of the separation of powers and the rule of law does not mean 
     his rulings will match his policy preferences, much less 
     mine. In fact, in his tribute speech to Justice Scalia last 
     year, Judge Gorsuch embraced Justice Scalia's philosophy of 
     judicial restraint: ``If you're going to be a good and 
     faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that 
     you're not always going to like the conclusions you reach.'' 
     That is precisely why Judge Gorsuch is the right choice for 
     the Supreme Court.

  Mr. HATCH. To be sure, that Justice Gorsuch would be a fierce 
defender of the separation of powers does not mean his rulings will 
match his policy preferences. As Justice Scalia wisely remarked, good 
and faithful judges will not always like the conclusions they reach in 
interpreting the law. And it certainly does not mean that his rulings 
will match my policy preferences or those of my colleagues. As I have 
repeatedly stated on this floor over decades, that is not the proper 
inquiry when we assess the qualifications of a nominee to the Federal 
bench. Federal judges must be judges, not super-legislators.
  The bottom line is, even a casual review of Judge Gorsuch's opinions 
should eliminate any concerns my colleagues may have concerning Judge 
Gorsuch's commitment to the Constitution's separation of powers. Any 
review would lead to that conclusion. In his opinions, Judge Gorsuch 
has resisted executive branch efforts to make laws as opposed to merely 
enforcing those laws. Judge Gorsuch's opinions and other writings make 
the compelling case for separation of powers in a way that finds few 
rivals on the current Federal bench.
  If my colleagues are truly concerned about the proper separation of 
powers between the three branches of government, there is a simple 
solution: Confirm Judge Gorsuch as an Associate Justice on the United 
States Supreme Court.

                   Repealing and Replacing ObamaCare

  Mr. President, I want to once again discuss the ongoing effort to 
repeal and replace the so-called Affordable Care Act. This is one of 
our most vexing issues of the day. Of course, this isn't the first time 
I have come to the floor to discuss ObamaCare, and I am fairly certain 
it won't be the last.
  I was here just last week, in fact, talking about the general 
unanimity among Republicans on these issues, despite the seemingly 
eternal focus on the supposed divisions among our ranks. While some are 
still advancing that narrative, Republicans are, overall, still united 
in our desire to repeal and replace ObamaCare. As I said last week, I 
don't know if there is a single Republican in Congress who supports 
keeping the healthcare status quo in place. All of us want to right 
what went wrong with the poorly named Affordable Care Act and provide 
patients and consumers with more healthcare choices that address 
healthcare costs.
  Most differences of opinion that do exist on these matters are more 
about timing than anything else. As I have said before, I support 
moving quickly to repeal ObamaCare and include as many replacement 
policies as possible under the rules of the reconciliation process. 
More specifically, I support repealing ObamaCare's harmful taxes, and I 
will explain why.
  Put simply, the tax provisions in ObamaCare were poorly conceived and 
recklessly enacted, and they are harmful to our economy. Those taxes 
came in a number of forms, including the employer mandate and the 
individual mandate, both of which are enforced through the Tax Code.
  In addition, there is the health insurance tax, the Cadillac tax, 
along with new taxes on healthcare savings and pharmaceuticals. 
ObamaCare also included a payroll tax hike for some high-income earners 
as well as additional taxes on investing. And, of course, we cannot 
forget the medical device tax, which, in just the first 3 years that 
ObamaCare was implemented, resulted in more than 30,000 lost jobs in 
that important industry.
  All told, the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act represented a 
trillion-dollar hit on the U.S. economy in the first 10 years, and the 
burdens of the vast majority of these taxes are ultimately borne by 
patients and consumers in the form of higher costs, larger tax bills, 
and reduced value in existing health plans and savings accounts.
  I know some of my colleagues like to plead ignorance on the notion 
that taxes on a particular industry tend to be passed along to that 
industry's consumers, but it is a fact that can't be ignored. Taxes on 
health insurance plans increase premiums for patients. Taxes on drug 
companies make drugs more expensive. Taxes on medical device sales 
increase the costs of those devices.
  It is not a complicated concept; it is the natural byproduct of tax 
provisions negotiated with stakeholders behind closed doors under 
threat of increased government intrusion and market regulation. These 
taxes weren't drafted solely to pay the cost of ObamaCare; they were 
also part of a strategy to get the law through Congress, dividing the 
business community and pitting industries against one another to 
prevent widespread opposition. As I said, at the end of the day, it is 
patients and consumers--individuals and families--who pay most of the 
freight on these types of tax policies.
  Don't take my word for it. Let's look at one major example. 
Congress's nonpartisan scorekeeper, the Joint Committee on Taxation, 
indicated that, by and large, the tax on health insurance premiums 
would be passed along to health insurance policyholders.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
a letter from the JCT to Senator Grassley, dated October 28, 2009.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                    Congress of the United States,

                                  Joint Committee on Taxation,

                                 Washington, DC, October 28, 2009.
     Hon. Charles E. Grassley,
     Ranking Member, Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Ranking Member Grassley: You requested that we provide 
     you with an analysis of the incidence of the insurance 
     industry fee provision of S. 1796, the ``America's Healthy 
     Future Act,'' our estimate of the effect on the after-tax 
     price of purchased health insurance, and a distributional 
     analysis of the provision.

                         insurance industry fee

       Sec. 6010 of S. 1796 would impose an annual fee on any 
     covered entity engaged in the business of providing health 
     insurance with respect to United States health risks. Under 
     the provision, employers who self-insure their employees' 
     health risks and governmental entities are not covered 
       The fee applies for calendar years beginning after 2009. 
     The aggregate annual fee for all covered entities is $6.7 
     billion. Under the provision, the aggregate fee is 
     apportioned among the covered entities based on a ratio 
     designed to reflect theft relative market share of U.S. 
     health business.
       For each covered entity, the fee for a calendar year is an 
     amount that bears the same

[[Page S1193]]

     ratio to $6.7 billion as (1) the covered entity's net 
     premiums written during the preceding calendar year with 
     respect to health insurance for any United States health 
     risk, bears to (2) the aggregate net premiums written of all 
     covered entities during such preceding calendar year with 
     respect to such health insurance.

                  incidence of insurance excise taxes

       The proposed fee is similar to an excise tax based on the 
     sales price of health insurance contracts. The effective 
     excise tax rate varies from year to year depending upon the 
     aggregate value of health insurance sold. The economic 
     incidence of an excise tax imposed on sale of health 
     insurance contracts (that is, who actually bears the cost of 
     the tax) may differ from the statutory incidence of the tax 
     (that is, the person on whom the tax is levied). Taxes may be 
     borne by any of the following: consumers in the form of 
     higher prices; owners of firms in the form of lower profits; 
     employees in the form of lower wages; or other suppliers to 
     firms in the form of lower payments. This makes 
     generalizations about the incidence of taxes difficult to 
     make. Nonetheless, two principles have general validity. 
     First, economic incidence does not depend on whom the tax is 
     levied. Whether the statutory incidence of the tax is on the 
     consumer, the employer, or the insurer, the economic 
     incidence is the same regardless of who writes the check to 
     the government. Second, taxes are shifted from those who are 
     more sensitive to price changes (economists describe these 
     individuals and entities as having more ``elastic'' supply 
     and demand) to those who are less sensitive to price changes 
     (those with more ``inelastic'' supply and demand).
       In the case of competitive markets, an excise tax generally 
     is borne entirely by consumers in the form of higher prices 
     in the long term. An excise tax increases the cost of 
     producing an additional unit, or incremental cost, of the 
     taxed good by the amount of the tax. In a competitive market, 
     market forces cause the after-tax price of a good to equal 
     the additional cost of producing and selling another unit of 
     the good. Competition drives the price down to equal the 
     incremental cost of the provision of the good or service, 
     including the return to incremental invested capital. If 
     supply is perfectly responsive to price changes, any price 
     above incremental cost would induce new firms to enter and 
     increase production until prices were bid back down to 
     incremental cost. Similarly, any price below incremental cost 
     would induce firms to exit or reduce production (because they 
     would now be losing money selling the taxed good). The 
     reduction in supply allows prices to increase back up to 
     incremental cost.
       This response may be observed even if some of the 
     participants in the competitive market do not seek to 
     maximize profits as their primary objective. Tax-exempt and 
     nonprofit producers may also pass on the tax as they also 
     face the increased incremental cost, which they will need to 
     recover. If they cannot, for example, raise additional funds 
     from donors, effectively passing the tax on to them, their 
     alternative is to pass on the tax to consumers in the form of 
     higher prices.
       While consumers are thought to bear the burden of excise 
     taxes in competitive markets, some may question the degree of 
     competition in health insurance markets. Recent surveys have 
     noted that many markets are characterized by the presence of 
     only a few firms. Additionally, there may exist barriers to 
     entry in the health insurance market, including multiple 
     State regulatory requirements, the cost of establishing 
     health provider networks, health provider network effects 
     (i.e., the value of a health provider network to consumers 
     rises with the size of the network), and efficiencies in 
     risk shifting and risk distribution for large firms.
       However, the absence of many competitors does not by itself 
     imply that there is no competitive pressure on prices. The 
     threat of potential entrants may provide competitive price 
     pressure on the existing firms. Furthermore, the option to 
     self-insure may provide a source of potential competition for 
     full, purchased insurance, at least for larger firms.
       If the insurance industry is not perfectly competitive in a 
     particular market, the question remains as to what extent an 
     insurance excise tax would be borne by consumers or producers 
     in that market. Theoretical analysis has shown that, 
     depending upon market conditions, the price could increase 
     by: (1) more than the amount of the tax; (2) exactly the 
     amount of the tax; or (3) less than the amount of the tax. 
     Various empirical studies have examined the effect of excise 
     taxes on prices in less than perfectly competitive markets. 
     Studies of the tobacco industry suggest that manufacturers 
     pass on more than the full amount of the tax, while studies 
     of less than perfectly competitive retail gasoline markets in 
     rural areas suggest that producers pass on nearly all of the 
     tax. Even in the rural retail gasoline markets in which gas 
     stations may be the sole provider of gasoline for many miles 
     and firms exhibit some pricing power, nearly 95 percent of 
     the excise tax is still passed on to consumers.
       While uncertainty exists, we assume that a very large 
     portion of the excise tax on purchased insurance will be 
     borne by consumers in most markets, including in some markets 
     with a high level of concentration among market participants 
     covered by the proposed excise tax. In the context of general 
     health care reform legislation, this assumption is further 
     supported by the presence of an excise tax on individuals 
     without minimum essential benefits coverage, which is likely 
     to make demand for insurance somewhat less sensitive to 
     changes in price, as consumers will have to buy insurance or 
     face a penalty. While consumers (or employers) may respond by 
     changing their insurance coverage from more expensive 
     coverage to less expensive plans to offset any potential 
     price increase, this behavior too is properly characterized 
     as the consumers bearing the burden of the excise tax by 
     accepting lower quality (for example, a more restricted 
     physician network) for the same price rather than paying a 
     higher price for the quality of insurance that they would 
     prefer if there were no tax. To the extent that firms can 
     avoid the tax by switching from full insurance to self-
     insurance, this may suggest that insurers are unable to pass 
     on the full cost of the excise tax on purchased insurance. 
     Increased self-insurance from firms avoiding the excise tax 
     may increase the cost of this health benefit to employees as 
     firms that previously chose full insurance, presumably 
     because it cost less in the absence of the excise tax than 
     self-insurance, switch to higher cost self-insurance. 
     Additionally, to the extent that insurers maintain some 
     pricing power in the administrative services that they 
     provide self-insurers, the self-insurance market may bear 
     some of the burden of the excise tax as well.

      effect of the fee on the cost of purchased health insurance

       The aggregate value of the proposed fee is the same for 
     each year. The current law baseline for health insurance 
     premiums projects rising health insurance premiums annually 
     through the budget period. Consequently the magnitude of the 
     proposed fee declines annually relative to the sale of health 
     insurance. Given the incidence analysis discussed above, 
     while there is imcertainty, we expect a very large portion of 
     proposed insurance industry fee to be borne by purchasers of 
     insurance in the form of higher premiums. Our estimate is 
     that the premiums for purchased health insurance policies, 
     including the tax liability, would be between 1.0 and 1.5 
     percent greater than they otherwise would be as a consequence 
     of the industry fee for calendar years 2010, 2011, and 2012.

         distributional analysis of the insurance industry fee

       Regardless of the determination of the economic incidence 
     of the proposed insurance industry fee of S. 1796, at the 
     present time the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation is 
     not able to distribute the effects across individuals on our 
     individual tax model. The proposed insurance industry fee 
     would apply only to the revenues from underwritten policies 
     sold to third parties. It would not apply to the value of 
     health benefits received by individuals through their 
     employers who self-insure the health risks of their 
     employees. Our individual tax model is based upon a sample of 
     approximately 180,000 actual tax returns. To distribute 
     proposed tax changes related to economic activity that is not 
     already reflected on the individual tax return we impute 
     values or statistically match supplemental information such 
     as data gathered by the Census Bureau, to the individual tax 
     returns of our model. For our quantitative analysis of 
     employer-provided health benefits we have made such 
     imputations of data relating to employees' employer-provided 
     health care benefits to the individual model. These 
     imputations are based on the data collected as part the 
     Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (``MEPS''), a survey 
     undertaken by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 
     of the Department of Health and Human Services, However, the 
     imputations we have made to the individual tax model at this 
     time relate only to the value of employer expenditures for 
     the health care of their employees. These imputations do not 
     generally distinguish between the employers' purchased 
     insurance coverage and benefits for which the employer self-
     insures. Consequently, we are unable to distribute either the 
     economic incidence or the revenues generated from the 
     proposed fee of S. 1796, which applies only to purchased 
     health insurance,
       I hope this information is helpful to you. Please contact 
     me if we can be of further assistance,
                                               Thomas A. Barthold.

  Mr. HATCH. While we are setting the record straight on ObamaCare, my 
colleagues on the other side have repeated a particular false claim 
that needs correction. My Democrat friends are fond of characterizing 
the repeal of ObamaCare as a tax cut for high-income earners and a tax 
increase for low- and middle-income taxpayers. That claim is simply 
  According to JCT, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Affordable 
Care Act imposed significant and widespread tax increases on taxpayers 
earning less than $200,000 a year, despite President Obama's repeated 
promises that the law would not do so. In fact, in 2017, a single 
provision--the reduction in the deductibility of catastrophic losses--
is projected to raise taxes on 13.8 million taxpaying families and 
individuals, mostly from the middle class. That is more than the number 
of taxpayers who receive exchange credits and other premium subsidies 

[[Page S1194]]

current law. That is just one example. There are others.
  Fortunately, we have been able to forestall the impact of a number of 
the ObamaCare tax provisions. We have fought and negotiated long and 
hard to do so, but virtually all of those taxes are still looming on 
the ObamaCare horizon.
  Most of us on the Republican side have been fighting these taxes more 
or less since the day ObamaCare was signed into law. We have 
highlighted their harmful impact on the economy and decried the crony 
capitalism that was behind the effort to draft and enact them.
  Given this long history, at least in my view, it is essential that we 
repeal all of these taxes, along with the rest of ObamaCare. It is 
difficult to imagine how Republicans, who are now in the majority in 
large part due to the promises we made to repeal and replace the 
Affordable Care Act, can now sift through ObamaCare's taxes and decide 
which ones are the least objectionable so that we can use them to pay 
for our own healthcare reforms.
  ObamaCare isn't problematic simply because healthcare costs are not 
going up; it was fundamentally flawed at the outset. The way the law 
was drafted was, and still is, a problem. The way the law was 
negotiated--with stakeholders being played against each other--was, and 
still is, a problem. Of course, the way the law was paid for was, and 
still is, a problem. The ObamaCare taxes are a big part of this 
equation. In my view--and, I think, the view of the vast majority of my 
Republican colleagues--they have to go.
  As I said, there really are not widespread disagreements among 
Republicans on these issues. Overall, we broadly agree on the 
fundamental issues surrounding ObamaCare, and, as I noted last week, it 
is not all that problematic to have some differences of opinion on the 
initial stage, so long as we can overcome those differences in the end. 
I think we can do that. More importantly, I think we will.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lee). The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, pending before the U.S. Senate is the 
nomination of Mick Mulvaney, a Congressman who is seeking to be the 
Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
  If you were to ask the people of America about the Cabinet positions 
filled by the President, the one they probably would miss is the Office 
of Management and Budget. It turns out to be one of the more important 
positions, but it is not as well known historically as Treasury 
Secretary, Secretary of State, and Attorney General. It is an important 
job. It is one of the most consequential jobs because the Director of 
the Office of Management and Budget is responsible for preparing the 
President's budget, setting the priorities of the Federal budget, and 
overseeing the performance of Federal agencies. It is a big and 
challenging job.
  Many other nominees for positions in the Cabinet are well known and 
have been debated on the floor of the Senate. Today I come to say a few 
words about the record of this Congressman, Mick Mulvaney, who is 
seeking this directorship of the Office of Management and Budget. It is 
a very interesting record.
  It is not unusual for Members of the House and the Senate to have 
unusual positions on issues. I guess each one of us has something we 
believe intensely that other people question. When it comes to 
Congressman Mulvaney, there is a long litany of positions he has taken 
that are far out of the mainstream of either political party. Yet 
President Donald Trump decided this is the man, this is the person he 
wanted to head up his budgeting effort. This is the person he wants to 
set the priorities for spending in the United States of America during 
his Presidency.
  If you look at the record of Mick Mulvaney, you will find that he has 
had an eagerness to dictate large and draconian cuts across the Federal 
Government in some of our most important and most cherished programs. 
Let me tell you about a few that highlight his record in Congress. Each 
one of these that I will speak to, if advanced by the Director of the 
Office of Management and Budget, would have far-reaching consequences 
on families and individuals across the United States, not only in the 
operation of government but also in the effectiveness of our Federal 
  To start with--and this, I think, is the right place to start--
Congressman Mulvaney, who seeks the position of Director of the Office 
Management and Budget, has repeatedly led efforts to shut down the 
Federal Government. When Mr. Mulvaney and the Republicans succeeded in 
shutting down the government for 16 days in 2013, it cost the American 
economy $20 billion. Do you remember that?
  Rush Limbaugh got on his radio show and said: If they shut down the 
government, no one will even notice.
  Guess what, Mr. Limbaugh. They noticed.
  All across America, working families paid the price for that foolish 
political act of shutting down the government. The real cost of the 
government shutdown is not just measured in dollars. The real cost is 
in hardships unnecessarily created, hardships for Federal employees who 
didn't receive their checks on a timely basis, hardships for people 
struggling to survive in America, who relied on programs like food 
stamps. We call them SNAP benefits now. They had their food in jeopardy 
and endangered because Congressman Mulvaney and his friends thought 
that a display of political power--shutting down the government--was 
the right recipe for America.
  These government shutdowns delayed 2 million Federal workers from 
receiving their checks, real people with real families to feed. 
Congressman Mulvaney doesn't seem to care about these real-world 
consequences of a shutdown. Instead, he called the shutdown of the 
Federal Government ``good policy.'' Those are his words: ``good 
  Then, when we finally reached an agreement to reopen the government, 
he was one of the few Members of the House to vote against the 
compromise in reopening the government.
  In recent years, he has repeated his calls. He is willing to shut 
down the government of the United States of America to defund Planned 
Parenthood. This man wants to craft our national budget, and he would 
shut down the government over one provision in that budget? That is 
what he said.
  Time and again, he has taken extreme positions on the Federal budget. 
We have a standing tradition in the House and the Senate. Since not one 
of us can predict when the next natural disaster is going to occur, we 
try to help one another.
  I have voted for funds during the course of my congressional career 
for disasters in probably every State in the union. Do you know why? 
Because I knew the day would come--and it did, several times during my 
tenure in the House and Senate--when there would be a natural disaster 
in my State, and we needed a helping hand, emergency disaster 
assistance. That is a tradition which has been around Congress--I can 
go back almost centuries to see it in past history.
  Listen to what Congressman Mulvaney did. He tried to block emergency 
disaster assistance to States that desperately needed the help of the 
Federal Government in their recovery efforts. He offered a poison pill 
amendment to the Hurricane Sandy relief package that would have 
required across-the-board cuts in military spending--military 
spending--to pay for disaster relief from Hurricane Sandy. Then he went 
further and said: Not just military spending, I want cuts in 
entitlement programs--Medicare, Medicaid. Let's cut the healthcare 
assistance for Americans to pay for that disaster. That is his idea of 
social justice.
  Despite President Trump's campaign promises to rebuild the Nation's 
crumbling infrastructure, Congressman Mick Mulvaney has taken an 
extraordinary and extreme view. He wants to eliminate Federal funding 
for transportation projects. He cosponsored a bill that would slash the 
Federal gas tax. That is how we pay for repairing Federal roads and 
mass transit across America. He isn't interested in fixing the highway 
trust fund solvency problems. His solution is to bankrupt it.
  This is the man who wants to write the budget for America? His 
extreme ideology would threaten billions of dollars that my State 
receives in Federal transportation funds. We put money into the Federal 
highway trust fund,

[[Page S1195]]

too, every time we buy a gallon of gas in Illinois. He would cut back 
on the resources coming back to my State and others to repair the very 
roads we drive on.
  He has consistently supported across-the-board cuts for the 
Department of Defense, regardless of those affected. Just a few minutes 
ago, Senator John McCain, the senior Senator from Arizona, came to the 
floor to announce that because of Congressman Mulvaney's positions on 
cuts in the military, he--Senator McCain--would oppose the appointment 
of Mulvaney as head of OMB. Senator McCain said that it is a rare day 
when he comes out against a Presidential nominee of his own party. But 
he thinks Mulvaney's record is worrisome, and I couldn't agree 
more. The positions that Congressman Mulvaney has taken are reckless 
and would jeopardize the economic security of working families and put 
our Nation and economy at risk.

  Possibly one of the most troubling positions that Congressman 
Mulvaney has taken is the fact that he is opposed to the Federal 
Government spending funds for medical research. Last year when Congress 
was deliberating how to combat the Zika virus, Representative Mulvaney 
wrote this on his Facebook page: ``Do we really need government-funded 
research at all?''
  Let's think about that for a moment. Do we really need government-
funded medical research in the United States? Do we need the National 
Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the Veterans' 
Administration investing in trying to find new cures for diseases?
  Government-funded research in the Department of Defense has produced 
fascinating insights into the biology of breast cancer that have 
greatly impacted the treatment of that disease and saved lives in 
America. Look at the revolutionary Department of Defense-funded work 
that led to the development of the innovative drug Herceptin. 
Government-funded research, which Congressman Mulvaney does not believe 
we should do, at the National Institutes of Health has accomplished the 
following. It has cut the U.S. cancer death rate by 11 percent in women 
and 19 percent in men. And Congressman Mulvaney says: Do we really need 
to do that? Is that important? I would guess that his family, like 
every family in America, has a story to tell about cancer--what it has 
meant, the devastation it has created, the deaths that have resulted.
  But Congressman Mulvaney doesn't get it. He just doesn't understand 
anything as basic as investing in medical research to save lives. HIV/
AIDS is no longer a death sentence in America. I saw Magic Johnson just 
a few weeks ago at a farewell party for President Obama. I remembered 
the day in the House of Representatives when I was told that he had 
AIDS. We assumed he would die in just a short period of time. But that 
was over 25 years ago. He has survived because of research that was 
done at the National Institutes of Health, and he is not alone. There 
are thousands just like him.
  When I was a kid, polio was something every mother and father were 
frightened of. What in the world was happening? How could your child be 
infected with polio and end up being crippled for life? Our Republican 
leader here, Mitch McConnell, went through that in his childhood and 
has talked about that episode in his life and how devastating it was. 
He has had a full life since then, but he has overcome the problems of 
that disease. I remember as a kid in grade school, when they announced 
that our government research had come up with a vaccine that would 
protect kids from polio. That, to me, was a breakthrough, and one that 
I welcomed and our family welcomed.
  Congressman Mulvaney questions whether or not medical research should 
continue, even in the light of the achievements in eradicating polio 
and small pox and other diseases in our country. These advances didn't 
just magically happen because of the miracle of the marketplace. They 
occurred because of sustained taxpayer investment in Federal medical 
  I will tell you this. If he wants to make a referendum in the Senate 
or the House on medical research a part of his budget debate, I welcome 
the challenge. I believe that Members of both political parties would 
stand up for medical research, despite Congressman Mulvaney's extreme 
  So when someone asks if we really need government-funded medical 
research, the answer on behalf of cancer patients who are beating the 
disease, on behalf of HIV/AIDS patients who are living longer and 
normal lives, on behalf of all those families hoping and praying that 
some Federal researcher will come up with a breakthrough for 
Alzheimer's, for autism, or Parkinson's or diabetes--the answer, 
Congressman Mulvaney, is unequivocally, yes. America needs to invest in 
medical research. And the fact that you would question it really raises 
the question of your judgment.
  Let me tell you another thing that he is for, which I think is the 
single most irresponsible budgetary position he has taken. He has been 
an opponent of raising the country's debt ceiling.
  What is the debt ceiling? That is America's mortgage. That is the 
amount of debt we incur as a nation. It is a mortgage that is incurred 
for things that we have already spent money on. So when we come and 
vote for $600 billion for the Department of Defense and the 
intelligence agencies and we don't have enough money coming in taxes to 
pay for it, we have to extend America's mortgage to cover it. 
Congressman Mulvaney says that is the wrong thing to do--extending the 
debt ceiling of this country. While running for Congress, Congressman 
Mulvaney, who now wants to manage our Nation's budget, pledged he would 
never ever vote to raise the country's debt ceiling. He voted against 
it four different times.
  In 2011, when we were just about to breach the debt limit and default 
on our national debt for the first time in the history of our country, 
Mulvaney was a leading voice in support of default. He called it a 
``fabricated crisis,'' and accused both parties of ``fear mongering.''
  I am not sure what is more disturbing--Mr. Mulvaney's willingness to 
default on our country's obligations, the full faith and credit of the 
United States, or his lack of appreciation for the devastating economic 
consequences which would follow. I can tell you what is at risk with 
that kind of reckless attitude toward our Nation's debt. What is at 
risk are the savings and investments and retirement accounts of 
ordinary Americans across the Nation. Mr. Mulvaney may be willing to 
gamble the full faith and credit of the United States; I am not. 
Forcing the Federal Government to default on the Nation's debt would 
harm the economy and affect the government's ability to make payments 
to Social Security and Medicare recipients, military personnel, 
veterans, Federal employees, defense contractors, State governments, 
and to the bondholders of the United States, here and overseas.
  We would lose our credibility if Mr. Mulvaney had his way and allowed 
us to default on our national debt. We should not ever consider 
confirming an OMB Director who has repeatedly risked the economic 
security of our Nation to score political, rhetorical points.
  Throughout his campaign, President Trump promised to protect Medicare 
and Social Security and make decisions that would ``benefit American 
workers and American families.'' That is a quote. However, instead of 
making good on the promise, President Trump has chosen a man to head 
the Office of Management and Budget who has led calls for devastating 
cuts to Federal programs that millions of Americans rely on every day.
  Mr. Mulvaney has said he wants to ``end Medicare as we know it,'' and 
he has called Social Security a ``Ponzi scheme.'' He has called for 
raising the retirement age for Social Security to 70, from the 67 that 
it currently is. Well, 3 more years at work may not mean much to a 
Member of Congress, because we sit down a lot in these comfortable 
chairs and people bring us things when we need them. But 3 more years 
of working before you qualify for Social Security means something to a 
waitress, whose hips and ankles and knees have been bothering her for 
years, but she has no choice but to get up every morning, go to work, 
carry those trays, and try to bring enough money home to help a family. 
It means something to someone who works in a coal mine--I guarantee you 
that--3 more years at work, exposing yourself to the lung diseases and 
other things

[[Page S1196]]

that might come with the job. It means something to a truckdriver, 
spending days and nights on the road. It means something to people who 
have to move freight around. It is the kind of thing that means a lot 
to ordinary working people. It clearly doesn't mean anything to 
Congressman Mulvaney. Three more years working, as far as he is 
concerned, is an acceptable alternative.
  He wants to privatize Medicare and turn Medicare back into the loving 
arms of private health insurance companies, and let's see what seniors 
end up experiencing. Almost 60 million Americans now rely on Medicare. 
In Congressman Mulvaney's point of view, the guarantee of Medicare 
would end. This is the man President Trump has chosen to head the 
budget for the United States of America. Mulvaney has called repeatedly 
for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, including a ``cut, 
cap, and balance'' budget, which would cut each of these programs by 25 
percent. When you say the word Medicaid, people have an image in their 
mind: Oh, that is health insurance for poor people. And that is 
generally correct, although it also covers disabled Americans. But do 
you know who the major recipients of Medicaid are in America? The 
largest single group of people receiving help from Medicaid are 
children--children in poor, low-income families who get medical care 
through Medicaid. The biggest expenditure for Medicaid is not children 
though. The biggest expenditure is for the elderly Americans who are 
living largely at institutional settings, in these care homes, nursing 
homes. Medicaid keeps them in that place with adequate medical care. So 
now comes Congressman Mulvaney and says: Let's just cut those by 25 
percent. There is one good way to reduce Federal spending.
  Really? So that means fewer immunizations for children. What does it 
mean for your mother or your grandmother in the nursing home when it is 
announced that we don't have enough money to cover the cost to keep her 
here in a good, safe, positive environment? For Congressman Mulvaney, 
it is just numbers on paper. For real families across America, it is 
the reality of life.
  Much like our new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Congressman 
Price, Representative Mulvaney wants to dramatically undermine the 
Medicare Program for our Nation's seniors. Let's look at what Medicare 
has meant to our country since it was created in 1965. Before Medicare, 
only 51 percent of Americans 65 and older had health care coverage. 
Nearly 30 percent lived in poverty. Today, 98 percent of seniors have 
health care, and less than 10 percent live below the poverty line. Has 
Medicare work? You bet it has. It has provided health insurance for 
seniors, and it has given people dignity and independence in their 
senior years--something that everyone should value. And, incidentally, 
the life expectancy of Americans has grown by 5 years since we created 
Medicare. It is working. Medicare helps seniors, helps their families, 
and it helps America. But Congressman Mulvaney doesn't get it.
  This man has been chosen by President Trump to write the budget of 
America. Why is Congressman Mulvaney so hell-bent on ending a program 
like Medicare that 98 percent of our Nation's seniors depend on? Well, 
I can tell you, if his comments on Medicare scare you, on Medicaid he 
is even worse. This program, combined with the Children's Health 
Insurance Program, ensures health coverage for 70 million Americans. 
One out of every five nationwide depend on Medicaid. It helps low-
income families, pregnant women, children, and those with disabilities. 
Currently, if you qualify for Medicaid, you are guaranteed to get 
health coverage. Congressman Mulvaney thinks he has a better idea. He 
wants to change that.
  Congressman Mulvaney wants to significantly cut the Federal funding 
for Medicaid and leave States to fend for themselves when it comes to 
caring for these 70 million Americans. Faced with less Federal funding, 
States would be forced to find ways to cut spending and save money. 
They might start Medicaid waiting lists or impose work requirements or 
slash benefits. At the end of the day, the result would be 
  I just spent the last weekend in Southern Illinois. We had a 
roundtable down there to talk about the impact of the repeal of the 
Affordable Care Act. These hospital administrators from smalltown 
hospitals came in to tell me that losing Medicaid reimbursement could 
force them to dramatically cut their workforce and maybe even face 
closure. Here is Congressman Mulvaney suggesting: Let's just do that 
across America. I wonder where he lives. I wonder if there are any 
small towns or rural areas near him. I wonder if he values those 
hospitals the way the people living in communities that I represent 
value them. These are not only lifelines for people who desperately 
need timely, professional medical care, but they are the source of the 
best jobs in the community. Congressman Mulvaney could care less: Let's 
just keep cutting on Medicaid and see what happens.
  What will happen will be devastating.
  Mr. Mulvaney isn't content with just throwing seniors off Medicare 
and low-income families off Medicaid. He wants to punish women by 
taking away their healthcare providers and inserting his own decisions 
into their medical decisions. Mr. Mulvaney has repeatedly attempted to 
defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide women and men 
with important cancer screenings, family planning, STD testing, and 
other important health care services.
  The laws of the United States of America provide that not one penny 
can be given to Planned Parenthood for abortion services--not one penny 
under the law. Most people, if asked what percentage of the Planned 
Parenthood budget is actually spent on abortion services would get it 
wrong. The actual number is 3 percent. Ninety-seven percent of what 
Planned Parenthood does, in terms of family planning, cancer screening, 
STD screening, has no relation directly to abortion services, and that 
is compensated, but abortion services are not under the law. 
Congressman Mulvaney could care less. He would close down the sources 
of family planning in small towns and communities around America.

  The concerns I have laid out today are just a few that I have about 
this nomination. The millions of hard-working Americans who believed 
President Trump's campaign promises, and as a champion for the most 
vulnerable, deserve far better than Congressman Mulvaney.
  There are real problems facing this Nation. Far too many people are 
struggling, and there is a lot of work to do. We cannot afford to risk 
our economic recovery, the retirement plans and savings of working 
Americans, the health of our children, the kind of care we want for our 
mothers and grandmothers--we cannot afford to risk them by appointing 
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney.
  I have no choice but to oppose Mick Mulvaney's nomination for 
Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
  Mr. President, Mick Mulvaney is a founder of the House Freedom 
Caucus, which has made repeal of the Affordable Care Act--without a 
replacement--one of their main causes. This is not about good policy or 
the real consequences for people around the country. This is about 
  Mr. Mulvaney wants to rip health insurance away from nearly 30 
million people and deny people the important consumer protections they 
have come to depend upon. He would once again allow insurers to impose 
pre-existing condition exclusions and discriminate based on gender and 
cut off coverage when someone gets sick and needs it most.
  His answer to fixing our health care system is ``free-market 
competition'' and ``crackdown on frivolous lawsuits. Those might make 
good talking points, but they will not stabilize our insurance market 
and help people in need.
  The Illinois Hospital Association estimates that Republican plans to 
repeal the Affordable Care Act will result in the loss of up to 95,000 
jobs in Illinois--in hospitals, doctor's offices, construction, real 
estate, and beyond.
  Over the last month, I have been going around my State, meeting with 
hospitals and providers, talking to them about what repeal would mean. 
They are worried.
  You see, Illinois hospitals and health systems generate nearly $90 
billion in the State and local economies each year, and 1 in 10 jobs in 
Illinois is in

[[Page S1197]]

health care. Hospitals are vitally important to our State's economy and 
vitally important to patients in need.
  Don't just take my word for it, Franklin Hospital CEO, Jim Johnson 
told me:

       In our community, at the time that the hospital in West 
     Frankfort closed, we [Franklin Hospital in Benton] managed to 
     stay open . . . they're just eaten up that they don't have a 
     hospital anymore. It's incredible what the loss of a hospital 
     can do to a small community. And I'm down there talking to 
     those guys every day because naturally I like them to use our 
     hospital . . . but those conversations, it has just torn this 
     community apart.

  In Illinois and nationwide, rural hospitals would be particularly 
hurt by Mr. Mulvaney and Republicans' prescription for chaos.
  In Illinois, 62 of our 102 counties are rural. We have 51 Critical 
Access Hospitals, which are the hubs of their communities. Rural 
hospitals typically are more reliant on Medicaid and Medicare, and have 
tighter operating margins.
  So what has the ACA meant for them? In States that expanded Medicaid, 
like Illinois, rural hospitals have seen greater financial stability 
thanks to the decrease in uncompensated care--or charity care--costs.
  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate in rural 
communities has dropped by nearly 40 percent. This is not only great 
for those individuals obtaining insurance, it is also great for the 
rural hospitals who are now getting paid for the health services they 
  Community Health & Emergency Services CEO Fred Bernstein told me:

       You can look at Cairo as the ghost of the future. Because 
     there is not much left that we have to lose . . . We've lost 
     the only grocery store, and the only drug store in Cairo. If 
     this Affordable Care Act thing isn't resolved and if we go to 
     block grant in the Medicaid program, there's not going to be 
     any resolution to those problems down there. We are not going 
     to be able to stay open. At least 72-74 percent of my 
     patients depend upon Medicaid . . . Without the expansions of 
     Medicaid that we've already seen, and without some of the 
     subsidies that those who can get some insurance will get to 
     keep that insurance, there's not going to be the ability to 
     afford any care for most of the people we serve.

  Since 2009, the number of rural hospitals in Illinois operating in 
the red has decreased by 46 percent. Put another way, 16 rural 
hospitals in Illinois are now on much more solid financial footing 
thanks to the ACA.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.

                               Tax Reform

  Mr. COTTON. Mr. President, our Tax Code is a mess. No one voted for 
it, no one wants it, and no one likes it. I have said many times we 
should eliminate all of the special interest loopholes in the code and 
use that money to cut taxes for everyone, including American 
businesses. We want to encourage them to invest, grow, and create more 
jobs right here in America.
  I know my colleagues are working on a tax bill, and I want to stress 
how much I support their efforts. I will, of course, withhold judgment 
on any proposal until I see the final text, but I also want to say 
today, I have reservations about one idea that is being considered. It 
is called a border adjustment tax. It sounds like something from 
Orwell's Newspeak.
  Here is how it would work. We would cut taxes for corporations. To 
make up for the lost revenue, we would tax businesses whenever they 
bought something from another country. For instance, every time Ford 
bought an auto part from Canada, it would pay a 20-percent tax or every 
time your local grocery store bought bananas from Guatemala, it would 
pay a 20-percent tax. Whatever money businesses made from selling their 
products in other countries would be exempt. In other words, what all 
this would amount to is a 20-percent tax on imports. The proponents of 
this tax contend it would stop businesses from leaving our country 
because right now some are moving overseas to avoid paying our 
corporate tax rate, which is the highest in the modern industrial 
world. Under this proposal, it would not matter where you put your 
headquarters, you would be taxed according to what you bought, not 
where you put down your stake.
  The hope is, this arrangement would mean more headquarters, more 
factories and the jobs that come with them staying right here in 
America, which of course is a desirable goal, no doubt, but I am not at 
all convinced this is the best way to do it. Consider this. It is 
estimated that this one change alone would produce something like $100 
billion a year in additional tax revenue. That is a lot of money, and 
someone has to pay for it. I will tell you exactly who is going to pay: 
working Americans who have been struggling for decades. A tax on 
imports is a tax on things working folks buy every single day. I am not 
talking about caviar and champagne. I am talking about T-shirts, jeans, 
shoes, baby clothes, toys, and groceries.
  I have heard from thousands of Arkansans who are already struggling 
just to get by. Why would we make the stuff they get at Walmart more 
expensive? Its defenders say the tax will not increase the cost of 
imports. What will happen, they say, is our exports will be cheaper 
because we no longer tax them so then more people overseas will buy our 
exports from us, which means the dollar itself will increase in value. 
That means imports will not be expensive because you will be able to 
buy them with a stronger dollar. So even with the tax added on, you 
will still come out right where you were before.
  This logic reminds me of Orwell again: Some ideas are so stupid only 
an intellectual could believe them. This is a theory wrapped in 
speculation inside a guess. Nobody knows for sure what will happen. No 
one can know for sure because currency markets fluctuate daily based on 
millions of decisions and events. Just because an economist slaps an 
equation on a blackboard does not make it real so I am more than a 
little concerned these predictions will not pan out.
  As the old joke goes, after all, economists have predicted nine of 
the last five recessions. But if that happens, it will not be 
economists and intellectuals and politicians in Washington and New York 
left holding the bag; working Americans will get stiffed again.
  Finally, I want to say a word about jobs. One of the biggest reasons 
for fixing the Tax Code is that it would help create more jobs, but if 
we increase the cost of goods, people obviously can't buy as much, 
which will hurt retail sales and retail jobs too. Retail companies are 
the largest private sector employers in almost every State. Are we 
really going to impose a huge tax on the livelihood of so many 
Americans and say: Oh, don't worry. It will all work out in the end.
  We have to take a hard look at this proposal right now. Therefore, 
while I support fundamental tax reform and commit to reserve judgment 
on any final bill until I read it, today I want to put on the record my 
serious concerns about a border adjustment tax. Many other Senators 
share those concerns. We most certainly will not keep our powder dry 
and see working American's railroaded with a precooked deal that raises 
their taxes and increases the price of the stuff they buy every single 
  It is February 15. By law, the President is required to submit a 
budget to Congress by the first Monday of this month. That was over a 
week ago. Now, being a new administration, we expect him to be a few 
weeks late as has typically happened in recent times. The difference 
this year, though, is that President Trump still does not have a budget 
director. We are 4 weeks into his Presidency, and we are only just now 
getting around to confirming his nominee.
  For those of you keeping score at home, that is the longest delay in 
recent history. Every one of the last six Presidents had their budget 
director confirmed by a week's time--as in 7 days. In other words, what 
we are seeing is a deliberate act of obstruction. Here is the real 
problem. We have serious work to do. It is that much more difficult for 
the President to do his job when all he has is a headless horseman 
  Senate Democrats might consider this payback. They might consider it 
their chance to audition for the 2020 Presidential primary, but the 
American people are the ones paying the price for this obstruction.
  I want to say again, this is not a game. This is not a protest. This 
is our job. This is what the American people sent us to do. It is time 
we got down to business. In that spirit, I want to say a few words in 
support of the President's

[[Page S1198]]

nominee for the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick 
Mulvaney. I don't have to cite or recite Mick's biography for many of 
  He has been representing the good people of South Carolina's Fifth 
District in the House of Representatives for more than 6 years now. 
Before that, he led an impressive career as what he called a serial 
entrepreneur, starting four different businesses. I hear some of them 
may have even succeeded.
  He has worked in fields as varied as law, real estate, homebuilding, 
and restaurants. He is highly educated and very accomplished. I would 
like to point out, he is a friend of mine, a trusted confidant, someone 
whose advice and counsel I have often sought.
  I can say with confidence, he will serve President Trump and the 
American people with dedication and distinction. I believe Mick will 
bring a needed voice to the President's Cabinet, a voice for fiscal 
responsibility after so many years of irresponsible sky-is-the-limit 
  All that experience in the real economy gives him something more than 
a lengthy resume. He knows from personal experience what it takes to 
create jobs and create opportunities out of almost nothing. He knows 
the self-discipline it takes, the hard work, the perseverance. He knows 
what Americans have to go through every day just to earn an honest 
dollar. That is why he has been so protective of every taxpayer dollar 
ever put in his care. That is the kind of man we need as our next OMB 
  It is only when Washington appreciates what goes into making all of 
those taxpayer dollars that it will show the taxpayers the respect they 
deserve. I want to express my strong support for the next Director of 
the Office of Management and Budget, my friend, Mick Mulvaney.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, unfortunately I don't share the 
enthusiasm of my colleague from Arkansas for Mick Mulvaney to serve as 
the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In fact, I have 
great concerns about this nominee's views on a whole range of issues.
  Because those views are far outside the mainstream of this country, I 
intend to vote against his confirmation. First and foremost, I am 
concerned about Mick Mulvaney's repeated votes against raising the debt 
ceiling and his reckless willingness to shut down the government in 
order to advance his extreme views.
  It is Representative Mulvaney's longstanding position that failure to 
raise the debt ceiling would not precipitate a crisis. He said: ``I 
have yet to meet someone who can articulate the negative 
consequences.'' Well, let me articulate the consequences in very simple 
terms. If we refuse to raise the debt ceiling, we would default on the 
national debt, destroy the credit worthiness of the U.S. Government, 
and trigger a global financial crisis.
  As the Governor of New Hampshire, I worked very hard with our State 
treasurer and with the legislature, through some very challenging 
fiscal times, to maintain New Hampshire's State bond rating. We did 
that because we knew that lowering the State's bond rating would mean 
an increase in costs for businesses trying to borrow money, for the 
government trying to borrow money, for taxpayers because they would 
have to pay those increased costs, and it would have a ripple effect 
across the economy that would have a real impact on the people of New 
  Representative Mulvaney does not seem to appreciate what would happen 
if the Federal Government defaulted on our debt. He has argued that the 
Treasury Secretary could avoid such a crisis by prioritizing interest 
payments; in other words, paying foreign holders of U.S. debt but not 
Social Security beneficiaries or the men and women of our Armed Forces, 
but there is no legal authority to do this. It is impractical, and 
recent Treasury Secretaries have denounced the idea. We got a foretaste 
of the consequences of default in 2011, when Representative Mulvaney 
and others blocked legislation to raise the debt ceiling, a crisis that 
took nearly 3 months to resolve.
  That manufactured crisis shook financial markets, caused a spike in 
interest rates on U.S. securities, and it lead Standard and Poor's to 
take away America's AAA credit rating, and it cost $18.9 billion. Who 
does Mick Mulvaney think paid those $18.9 billion? It was the people of 
this country. Representative Mulvaney has repeatedly threatened to shut 
down the Federal Government.
  He helped lead the charge in shutting down the government in October 
of 2013 in a failed and misguided attempt to repeal the Affordable Care 
Act. In 2015, he threatened to shut down the government again in order 
to defund Planned Parenthood. Both of those programs are critically 
important to the people of New Hampshire. Nearly 1 out of 10 Granite 
Staters have health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act. 
Planned Parenthood provides accessible, affordable healthcare to women 
all across the State of New Hampshire, women who, in most cases, could 
not get their healthcare any other way.
  As Senator Durbin pointed out earlier, 97 percent of the services 
provided by Planned Parenthood are services that have nothing to do 
with abortion; they have to do with access to mammograms, to cancer 
screenings, to STD testing, the whole range of healthcare services that 
women need.
  Unfortunately, the 16-day shutdown in 2013 created havoc across the 
economy, leading to the loss of an estimated 120,000 jobs. Millions of 
small businesses faced significant disruptions, many employees were 
laid off, and some businesses could not make payroll. But 
Representative Mulvaney is unrepentant. He insists that the shutdown 
was worth it. Well, tell that to some of the businesses in New 
Hampshire that took a huge hit. His brand of government by temper 
tantrum is reckless, it is irresponsible, and it should not be rewarded 
with a nomination to be the chief budget officer for the country.

  Representative Mulvaney's disdain for true fiscal conservatism and 
his unbalanced budget priorities should also give us pause. He supports 
budgets that would provide massive tax cuts for corporations, for those 
at the top, and he would pair those with deep budget cuts for the 
middle class and the most vulnerable people in our society, including 
seniors and people with disabilities.
  Representative Mulvaney advocates for radical cuts to Social Security 
and to Medicare and Medicaid. He has promised to end Medicare as we 
know it, privatizing it and converting it to a voucher program that 
shifts costs to seniors.
  He advocates raising the retirement age to 70 for Social Security and 
67 for Medicare. Imagine telling construction workers and others who 
perform heavy labor that they have to work until age 70 before they can 
retire with the security of a Social Security check.
  He also advocates shifting costs to States by block-granting 
Medicaid. Essentially what block grants do is give the money to States 
and allow them to administer those dollars. As a former Governor, I 
think States can administer those dollars, but when you want to cut as 
much as $1 trillion from healthcare services, which is what Mick 
Mulvaney wants to do, then you can administer them as well as possible, 
but you are still not going to be able to make up to the seniors and to 
disabled Americans and others in nursing homes for the cuts that are 
going to come when you block-grant those dollars to States.
  Unfortunately, that is not the end of his extreme budget ideas. He 
advocates taking a meat-ax to the whole range of programs that bolster 
the middle class, everything from cancer research, to Pell grants, to 
  Representative Mulvaney has even questioned the appropriateness of 
Federal funding for scientific research. In a Facebook post questioning 
the scientific consensus linking the Zika virus to microcephaly, he 
wrote: ``What might be the best question: Do we really need government 
funded research at all?'' Think about that.
  Senator Durbin was very eloquent in talking about the difference that 
research has made in ending polio and addressing so many other 
diseases, such as HIV, that have affected Americans and people across 
the world. Well, the President's choice--Mick Mulvaney--to draft his 
annual budget, to be the head of his budget office, openly doubts that 
the government should be involved in addressing public

[[Page S1199]]

health threats, such as Zika. So how deeply does he plan to cut funding 
for the Centers for Disease Control, for the National Institutes of 
Health, for our National Laboratories, and for federally funded 
extramural research? We don't know the answer to that, but we can 
assume from his statements that it is going to be significant.
  Federally funded R&D is critical not only to addressing threats to 
public health but also to developing new technologies that enhance our 
national security and protect the environment. These technologies are 
essential to growing our economy and maintaining America's global 
leadership in technology and biomedical sciences.
  In New Hampshire, the most dynamic sector of our economy is high-tech 
manufacturing and innovation. For our economy to grow, we need to stay 
ahead of global competition. But that doesn't happen on its own; it 
requires sustained investment in basic research--often research that 
the private sector considers too risky to do on its own.
  As ranking member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I have seen 
this vividly demonstrated by the very successful Small Business 
Innovation Research Program, or SBIR. SBIR works by harnessing the 
creativity and ingenuity of America's small businesses to meet the R&D 
missions of our Federal agencies, while also supporting the growth of 
small, high-tech companies that create good jobs in local communities 
across this country.
  One recent study found that every dollar awarded by the Air Force to 
SBIR firms generated $12 in economic growth. That growth happens 
because small businesses develop technologies and then commercialize 
those technologies, creating good jobs in each of our States.
  Many of these technologies are developed for our Armed Forces to 
better protect the homeland. A great example of that, which I have seen 
firsthand, is a company based in Hanover, NH, called Creare. Creare is 
working with the Navy to develop an innovative clothes dryer that 
dramatically reduces the risk of fires on submarines, and that is just 
one example of why the SBIR Program is the envy of the world.
  I want to quote Dr. Charles Wessner, who led the National Academy of 
Sciences study of the SBIR Program. In describing that program, he 
said: ``The rest of the world thinks this is the greatest thing since 
sliced bread.''
  Well, make no mistake, this successful program is in serious jeopardy 
if Representative Mulvaney puts Federal R&D investments on the chopping 
  It is truly shocking that the President has nominated a budget 
director who questions the value of Federal funding for R&D. We need to 
invest in science. We need to invest in our small businesses, which 
create two out of every three jobs in this economy.
  The OMB Director is one of the most senior economic advisers to the 
President of the United States, with enormous influence on policy 
  Representative Mulvaney has been a zealous advocate for radical cuts 
to Social Security, to Medicaid, to the whole range of programs that 
support the middle class in this country. In addition, his willful 
failure to pay required Federal taxes has raised serious concerns about 
his integrity, which we all know is essential for every Cabinet 
  After careful study of his record, I urge my colleagues on both sides 
of the aisle to come together to reject this nominee. Putting Mick 
Mulvaney in charge of OMB is not just letting the fox guard the hen 
house; it is giving him a gun to kill the chickens, a pot to boil those 
chickens in, and a knife to eviscerate them when they are done.
  Let's give President Trump the opportunity to put forward a qualified 
candidate with mainstream views to protect the middle class and to 
honor this Nation's financial obligations.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. President, I rise today to support the nomination of 
Congressman Mick Mulvaney and ask my colleagues to vote to confirm him 
as the next Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
  It may not surprise folks that I have a markedly different viewpoint 
than the Senator from New Hampshire. Congressman Mulvaney wants to save 
Social Security and Medicare. Congressman Mulvaney wants to prevent, 
stop the mortgaging of our children's future, the bankrupting of 
  One thing on which I do agree with the good Senator from New 
Hampshire is that we need to concentrate on economic growth. It is the 
primary component of the solution. But this Nation faces many, many 
challenges. From the standpoint of foreign policy, take a look at what 
is happening around the world, the turmoil in so much of the world. We 
are in a generational struggle against Islamic terror, against ISIS, 
al-Qaida. Iran--that nuclear agreement was horrible. It modified the 
behavior for the worse. We have just witnessed North Korea test-fire 
another missile. Combined with their nuclear capability at some point 
in time--probably not in the too distant future--they will threaten 
America. China has been emboldened. Russia has become more aggressive. 
Why? Because in so many instances, these nations perceive America as 
weaker than we once were, lacking the strength and resolve to provide 
the leadership, project our values around the world.
  With all these threats that America faces, at the same time our 
military is being hollowed out. We won't have the resources militarily 
to fight back if they strike first.
  Domestically, we also face many perils, many challenges. ObamaCare 
didn't work. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act did not 
protect the patients. It is not affordable. In my State, Wisconsin, 
premiums on the individual market have doubled and tripled. A young 
mother working a part-time job so she could stay home with her children 
had to quit that job to take full-time work to pay her $8,000 per year 
increase in premiums. Wages have stagnated for years. Our 
infrastructure is old and in many cases, crumbling. Our borders are 
porous. We are not winning the War on Drugs because of porous borders 
in many respects. Unfortunately, the War on Poverty has also not been 
won. In many cases, it has created perverse incentives that have 
trapped generations in a cycle of poverty and dependency and despair. 
It has resulted in the national debt rapidly approaching $20 trillion. 
Again, that is that mortgaging our children's future that Congressman 
Mulvaney wants to prevent.
  As the chart nearby shows, we are on a completely unsustainable path 
that Congressman Mulvaney also understands must be stopped. If you take 
a look at this chart, according to the Congressional Budget Office, 
over the next 30 years, our projected deficit will total $103 trillion. 
That would be put on top of that $20 trillion in debt. It will be $10 
trillion over the next 10 years, $28 trillion in the second decade, $66 
trillion in the third decade. That is completely unsustainable.
  By the way, the components of that $103 trillion deficit--$14 
trillion in Social Security. In other words, Social Security will pay 
out $14 trillion more in benefits than it takes in from the payroll tax 
over the next 30 years; Medicare, $34 trillion. The remainder of that 
$103 trillion is interest on the debt. If we want to avoid paying 
creditors more than $50 trillion in interest on our debt over the next 
30 years, we need to address Social Security and Medicare. Congressman 
Mulvaney wants to do that. He wants to save Social Security and 
Medicare--not demagogue it; save it.
  As the Senator from New Hampshire was pointing out, we need economic 
growth. That is the No. 1 component of the solution. I don't care what 
problem I just mentioned above, economic growth is the primary 
component of the solution.
  What is hampering our economy from growing? The fact is, since the 
Great Depression, our economy has averaged 3.2 percent annual real 
growth. Since the great recession, we have only been growing about 2 
percent. I would argue that there are a number factors causing that 
tepid growth: overregulation, an uncompetitive tax system. We are not 
fully utilizing our energy resources. The Presiding Officer certainly 
understands that from his State. We are not utilizing our abundant 
energy resources. And of course there is this: our unsustained fiscal 
path, our $20 trillion in debt.
  I oftentimes make the analogy between our national debt and a family 
in debt over their head. It is just a nation-state; it is just many, 
many, many

[[Page S1200]]

orders of magnitude larger. But the fact is, if you are a family in 
debt over your head, how can you grow your personal economy? All your 
disposable income is spent on the basics and servicing the debt. The 
same thing is true of a nation-state. Again, our enemies perceive that 
weakness caused by our indebtedness.
  So when you take a look at the role of the Director of the Office of 
Management and Budget, what we need to do to grow our economy comes 
under his jurisdiction basically. He has to address this deficit. He 
has to put forward a budget that is sustainable. Mick Mulvaney is 
dedicated to doing that.
  Then, of course, the other thing the Office of Management and Budget 
is really designed to combat is overregulation. They are all about 
taking a look at cost-benefit and making sure the regulations that are 
implemented by this Federal Government are reasonable from a cost-
benefit relationship. That has not been the case recently.
  Just a couple of examples of how economic growth really is going to 
help solve this problem. If you go from 2 to 3 percent annual growth, 
that is $14 trillion in added economic benefit in just over a decade. 
If you go from 2 to 4 percent, that is $29 trillion. And even with the 
meager economic growth we have had since 2009, revenue to the Federal 
Government has increased by more than $1.1 trillion per year with 
meager economic growth. Just think of what would happen if we could 
reduce the regulatory burden, have a competitive tax system, and put 
our Federal Government on a sustainable fiscal path. Revenue would be 
flowing to the Federal Government, we could stop hollowing out our 
military, and we could start addressing these threats.
  As to the regulatory burden, when we held hearings on this in my 
committee, the numbers showed that regulatory burden at $2 trillion per 
year. Just put that into perspective because I know we are getting 
immune to these massive numbers: $2 trillion is larger than all but 10 
economies in the entire world. That is a self-imposed, self-inflicted 
wound on our economy. If you take that $2 trillion and divide it by the 
number of households in America, it is $14,800 per household. No 
American writes a check to the Federal Government to pay their share of 
the regulatory burden; instead, they realize that burden in reduced 
  Why are wages stagnated? That is a good part of it--increased prices, 
and of course, again, those lower wages. It is a massive problem. One 
Wisconsin paper manufacturer I was talking to--and by the way, I can't 
tell you who because he fears retaliation by the government, which is a 
different subject--did a cost calculation of just four recently issued 
regulations and came up with a total cost of $12,000 per year per 
employee. There you go. That is money that could have been available 
for increasing wages or for investing in business to create better 
opportunities and better paying jobs. The regulatory burden is massive.
  I had the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison come into 
my office during the last 2 years with the primary complaint--the 
primary ask--being to reduce that regulatory burden. Last year, she 
came in armed with a study commissioned by research universities that 
said that 42 percent of researcher time on Federal grants was spent 
complying with Federal regulations. Think of the opportunity cost of 
that overregulation. Those Federal grants are meant to pay for studies 
and doing research on curing diseases, not filling out Federal 
paperwork. So again, the Director of the Office of Management and 
Budget will take a look at those regulations, particularly now under 
this President, who has issued an Executive order to make sure that for 
every one regulation issued by a new agency, they have to remove two. 
That is a very good start. I would have gone with one-in, ten-out, but 
I will settle for one-in, two-out. I will certainly be supportive of an 
Office of Management and Budget that understands the incredible burden 
of overregulation on our economy.
  During our committee markup--I heard earlier the Senator from 
Arkansas, who knows Congressman Mulvaney, served with him in the House, 
and understands how dedicated and serious Congressman Mulvaney is to 
stopping this mortgage of our children's future. Senator Lankford also 
had the opportunity to serve 4 years in the House with Representative 
Mulvaney. This is what Senator Lankford had to say about his friend and 
colleague at the nomination hearing:

       You were a serious student. You looked hard at difficult 
     issues. You understood that there were difficult decisions 
     that needed to be made and made proposals to do that.

  In testimony before our committee, Congressman Mulvaney told my 

       When President-elect Trump announced my nomination, he 
     noted that our nation was nearly $20 trillion in debt and 
     stated that I have the skills and convictions to responsibly 
     manage our nation's finances. I believe that is why he 
     nominated me for this position.

  He went on to state:

       For the first time in America's history, the next 
     generation could be less prosperous than the generation that 
     preceded it.

  That is a very sad possibility. We need to prevent that.
  He went on to say:

       To me and to the people in this room, that is simply 
     unacceptable. We CAN turn this economy, and this country 
     around . . . but it will take tough decisions today in order 
     to avoid impossible ones tomorrow.

  Congressman Mulvaney went on:

       I believe, as a matter of principle, that the debt is a 
     problem that must be addressed sooner, rather than later. I 
     also know that fundamental changes are needed in the way 
     Washington spends and taxes if we truly want a healthy 

  Again, he fully understands the connection between our unsustainable 
fiscal path, our deficit, our debt, and economic growth. He said we 
``must include changing our government's long-term fiscal path--which 
is unsustainable.''
  Finally, he said:

       I recognize that good public service--whether in a state 
     legislature, Congress, or OMB--takes both courage and wisdom. 
     The courage to lead, and the wisdom to listen. I have learned 
     that I do not have a monopoly on good ideas. Facts--and the 
     cogent arguments of others--matter. I will be loyal to the 
     facts and to the American people whom I serve.
       My commitment to you today is to take a fact-based approach 
     to get our financial house in order.

  This is exactly the type of person--Congressman Mick Mulvaney--
somebody who is dedicated to solving these problems, who has the 
courage and the wisdom to stop mortgaging our children's future, to put 
America's budget on a sustainable fiscal path, to grow our economy, to 
make sure that future generations inherit a stronger, more prosperous 
  I am proud to support and I urge all my colleagues to support and 
vote for the confirmation of Congressman Mick Mulvaney to be the next 
Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. CARPER. Thank you, Mr. President. I rise this evening to speak on 
the nomination of Congressman Mick Mulvaney to be the Director of the 
Office of Management and Budget. I am going to start by talking in a 
minute about some of the critical roles that the Office of Management 
and Budget plays.
  Before I do that, I want to go back for a moment to some of the 
comments of my friend who just preceded me on the floor. Going back 8 
years ago, I remember that in the last 6 months of 2008, we lost 2.5 
million jobs in this country--2.5 million jobs in 6 months. In the 
first 6 months of 2009, we lost 2.5 million more new jobs. That is 5 
million jobs in 12 months.
  Since the beginning of 2010, we have added 16 million jobs in this 
country. The unemployment rate in this country jumped as high as 10 
percent by the end of 2009, and by the beginning of this year the 
unemployment rate was cut in half. During the first fiscal year of this 
last administration, the Obama-Biden administration, the deficit, the 
budget they inherited for that fiscal year ballooned to $1.4 trillion. 
I am an old State treasurer, Congressman, Governor, and now Senator. 
That's a lot of money. We have had in terms of GDP probably higher 
deficits than that during World War II, but that is a lot of money.
  During the last administration, the debt, deficit as we knew it, 
dropped by about two-thirds, maybe a little more than two-thirds. Do we 
have a balanced budget coming into this year? No. Is it better than 
$1.4 trillion? It sure is.

[[Page S1201]]

  The unemployment rate was cut by half, the annual deficit has been 
cut by two-thirds, and instead of losing 5 million jobs as we did in 
2008 and 2009, we added 16 million jobs. Could we do better than that? 
We have. Have we ever had a longer running economic expansion in the 
history of our country than the last 7 years? I am told we have not. 
Can we do better? Yes.
  Hopefully, in our spending plans and in the regulatory work that we 
do, we will adopt policies that provide the kind of environment that 
leads to job creation and job preservation. That is what we do. We 
don't create jobs here. As my friend who is presiding knows, we help 
create a nurturing environment for job creation. One of the things we 
need for that is commonsense regulation.
  If you look at the role of the OMB Director, one of those listed on 
this chart, No. 2, is regulatory process. The regulatory process is the 
way regulations are created in this Congress, and as the Presiding 
Officer and others know, it is dictated by legislation called the 
Administrative Procedure Act.
  If the Presiding Officer were an agency that was considering 
promulgating a rule or regulation, the agency would basically say to 
the rest of the world: We are thinking of promulgating a regulation on 
subject x. It is really a heads-up that they are thinking about doing 
this. It doesn't mean they are going to, but they are thinking about 
it, so those who might be affected by that regulation, regulation x, 
would have a chance to say: Hmm, something might be coming our way, and 
we have an interest in it--or we don't. This gives them a chance to go 
to the agency and say: We hear you are interested in promulgating a 
regulation on this particular subject. Let's talk about it. That is why 
the agency gives a heads-up, so that those who might be affected by it 
have the opportunity to talk to the agency, come to their elected 
officials, and share their opinions.
  The agency can accept the comments they get or reject them. The 
Members of Congress can accept or reject them. We can actually arrange 
for our constituents who might have an interest in a proposed or 
possible regulation to arrange for meetings to make sure the agency 
that is thinking about promulgating a new rule or different rule or 
regulation has an opportunity to meet with those who would be affected 
positively or negatively.
  The agency, armed with that information--the input they receive from 
filing a notice of rulemaking--if they decide to go forward, they will 
eventually propose a draft rule. This is not a final rule or 
regulation, but a draft. They promulgate that draft regulation under 
the Administrative Procedure Act, and those who are interested in or 
affected positively or negatively by the draft regulation again have 
the opportunity to go back and talk to the folks who promulgated that 
rule or regulation, stating what it is they like or don't like, 
proposing changes. They look us up--the Representatives, Senators--and 
say: Here are our concerns. We think this should be strengthened or 
weakened or taken out or added.
  There is a period of time--a comment period--for the draft 
regulations. Sometimes those who can be affected by the regulations 
will come to us and say: We don't think we have enough time to fully 
understand what the effects of this draft regulation would be, and we 
would like to have more time to comment. Then what we do as elected 
officials is reach out to the agency and say: We don't have enough 
time. We are hearing from too many of our constituents that there is 
not enough time. How about another week or month or some reasonable 
period of time? Sometimes we get what we ask for, and sometimes we 
don't. Sometimes we get half of what we ask for, but that is the way it 
  At the end of the day, the agency may decide that they have enough of 
a bad response--bad vibrations from those who would be affected, as 
opposed to picking up good vibrations--and the agency may pull the reg 
entirely and say: We will do this another time but not now. But they 
might go ahead and change the drafting to prepare to offer the final 
  When the agency is ready to report out the drafted regulation, that 
is not the end of it because that is where OMB comes into play. There 
is an agency within OMB called OIRA, which refers to an oversight role 
that the OMB plays. Essentially, as we used to say in the Navy, if a 
message or something were sent from one level of command to another to 
another, we actually say we ``chopped'' it through different levels of 
command. My colleague who has better experience in the military, as I 
recall, may have had a similar kind of experience. But the draft 
regulation that is promulgated has to be chopped through OMB. It has to 
be chopped through OMB. They have the final say, and they can kick it 
back to the agency or not.
  Changes may or may not be made, but eventually the final reg is 
published in the Federal Register. There is a period of time that runs, 
and eventually if folks really don't like it enough they can basically 
file a suit and go to court to try to block the regulation. We see that 
happen from time to time. Faced with a suit, the agency might want to 
pull it back and make some further modifications. We can join in those 
amicus briefs or not. If all else fails, Harry Reid, who used to be the 
majority leader, a Democrat, wrote a law a number of years ago, the 
Congressional Review Act, which allows the Congress, years from now, to 
take another look and see if it is something--it is not that old, it 
had regs come out in the last couple of months--and ask: Is this a good 
idea or not? And if the majority of the House and Senate, with the 
consent of the President, say: No, we don't think this regulation is a 
good idea, it can basically be taken off the field and put on the 

  That is the way the process works. Some people don't think that is a 
very good process. I think it is pretty good. I hope that if Mick 
Mulvaney is confirmed to this job, this regulatory process is one that 
will be put to good use.
  One of the things Cass Sunstein did, at the direction of President 
Obama, was begin a look-back policy, saying we are going to look not 
just forward for new regulations, we are going to look back at the old 
ones we have and see which ones have maybe outlived their utilization 
and should be eliminated or modified. I have stopped counting how much 
money has been saved during the look-back process over the last several 
years, but it is in the billions of dollars--maybe even in the tens of 
billions of dollars by now. I hope the next OMB Director will continue 
  We have been joined here by my colleague from Michigan. I would just 
ask him if he is pressed for time. I will go maybe about another 10 
minutes, and then it is all yours.
  Another big job of the OMB Director, not surprisingly, is to help the 
President prepare in submitting a budget. I want to take just a minute 
and maybe use another chart to talk about how we spend our money. As my 
colleagues know, the spending is a pie chart kind of like this, and it 
is divided into maybe four major areas. One of those is--some people 
call it mandatory spending. I call it entitlement spending: Medicare, 
Medicaid, Social Security, maybe veterans' benefits. It is spending the 
people are entitled to by virtue of being a certain age, being 
disabled, maybe having served in our Nation's military, maybe being 
disabled in the course of military service, maybe they earned a GI 
bill. Those are the kinds of things that are being considered as 
entitlements or mandatory spending. As a percentage of the budget, if 
we look at the green colors here, it adds up to a little more than half 
the budget.
  Another maybe 5 to 10 percent of the budget is this sort of beige 
color or gray--this area right here. It is about 5 to 10 percent of the 
budget. It is debt service, principal interest on our Nation's debt. 
Fortunately, our interest rates are low. If they ever go up, ``Katy, 
bar the door.'' Then the principal on the debt service will go up a 
whole lot. We have been blessed with low interest rates. It will not be 
that way forever.
  So entitlement spending, a little over 50 percent; debt service, 
principal interest on the debt, 5, 10 percent.
  The rest is called discretionary spending. It is defense spending so 
it is about 40 percent discretionary spending. That is the spending 
that is done by our Appropriations Committee, about a dozen 
Appropriations subcommittees, including Agriculture,

[[Page S1202]]

Armed Services, Housing, Transportation, you name it.
  Over half of the amount of spending that is called discretionary 
spending, right here in the blue, more than half of that is defense 
spending and less than half of that is called nondefense discretionary 
  As it turns out, we could eliminate, I am told, every bit of our 
nondefense discretionary spending, and we would still have a budget 
deficit. That would be everything from agriculture to the environment, 
to transportation, law enforcement, prisons, you name it; the whole kit 
and caboodle, everything other than defense. I don't think we want to 
get rid of all that. We might want to find more efficient ways to spend 
that money. God knows we can find more efficient ways in spending 
defense money.
  One of the ways we can do that is to take a page from something that 
happened today in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs, and with our governmental affairs hat on, we had the leader of 
the Government Accountability Office with us. We also had a couple of 
inspectors general, and we had the head of the Census Bureau. They came 
to talk with us and present to us something called the GAO--Government 
Accountability Office--high-risk list. What is a high-risk list? It is 
a list of programs that are in danger of wasting a lot of money. It 
could include roughly $400 billion a year in revenues that we are 
leaving on the table; owed but not collecting. It could be $300 billion 
a year in major weapons systems cost overruns. It could be $110 
billion, $115 billion a year on something called improper payments, 
moneys that are paid wrongly, mistakenly--not fraud but just mistaken 
payments--and it can include a lot of other things. It could be 
properties that the Federal Government needs to get rid of, and we have 
done good work on that. Senator Portman and I worked on that, as did 
Senator Coburn when he was here, and we worked a lot on property 
reforms. With the help of Senator Johnson last Congress, I think we 
made pretty good progress.
  There are a lot of ways we waste money. What we do in the Committee 
on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, with our governmental 
affairs hat on, is we use the GAO high-risk list as a to-do list to be 
able to save money. If you have GAO, in concert with the Office of 
Management and Budget, working together with the inspectors general in 
every major Federal agency, working with the oversight committees in 
the Senate, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and with our 
counterpart oversight committee in the House--if we all are working 
together, going in the same direction, we can actually figure out how 
to save a lot of money in defense spending and nondefense. With all the 
overpayments that occur in Medicare and Medicaid--it is almost $100 
billion just between those two--we could actually make some real 
progress. Our budget deficit is still too large.
  Not that many years ago, when Bill Clinton was President, the last 4 
years of that administration, we had 4 years of balanced budgets. We 
had not had a balanced budget since 1968. Over the last 4 years of the 
Clinton administration, we had four balanced budgets in a row.
  How did we do it? One, we had a good economy, as you all recall. 
There were more jobs created in those 8 years than any 8 years in the 
history of the country. I was Governor then, and there were more jobs 
created in those 8 years in Delaware than any year in the history of 
our State. I like to say I didn't create one of them, but we tried to 
create a nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation. 
One of those ways--one of the elements that is important--is certainty 
and predictability.
  It has been mentioned earlier today that the concern that a number of 
people have with Congressman Mulvaney as OMB Director is he allegedly 
has said government shutdowns are not that concerning. I don't know his 
exact words. One of the things we were reminded of today by GAO is, 
businesses need predictability, they need certainty, but the other 
thing they need--what the Federal Government needs and its employees 
need are some predictability and certainty as well. Stop-and-go 
government is painful to businesses, but it is especially painful and 
wasteful for the Federal Government. Continuing resolutions, government 
shutdowns--our Federal employees spend a lot of time just preparing for 
shutdowns. That is wasteful, it is demoralizing, and we can't do that.
  I think that is--I will stop there. I see the majority leader is 
here, and I want to be respectful to him. There are other concerns I 
have that I will submit, but I hope my colleagues will keep these 
thoughts and these concerns in mind when we consider the nomination of 
Mr. Mulvaney to head up OMB.
  I would say to my friend the majority leader, I appreciate the time 
we had together in your office earlier this week. I would just ask him 
to consider one more time, if we had the opportunity for a judge in 
Oklahoma to make a decision tomorrow on the access to the emails we 
discussed, I think we could all vote with a clear conscience a week 
from Monday on the nomination of the Administrator for the EPA. I would 
encourage the majority leader to do that.
  Thank you very much.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I thank my friend from Delaware for his 
suggestion and giving me a moment here--I am not sure whether he is 
finished--but to just ask unanimous consent on a matter.

                           Order of Procedure

  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that following leader remarks 
on Thursday, February 16, there be 10 minutes of debate, equally 
divided, prior to the confirmation vote on Executive Calendar No. 16, 
Mick Mulvaney to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget, 
followed by up to 10 minutes of debate, equally divided, prior to the 
cloture vote on Executive Calendar No. 15, the nomination of Scott 
Pruitt to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and 
if cloture is invoked, time be counted as if invoked at 7 a.m. that 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. So for the information of all Senators, under the 
regular order, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the Pruitt nomination 
on Friday afternoon. All Members should plan to stay here Friday to 
complete consideration of the Pruitt nomination.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Mr. PETERS. Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the nomination of 
Representative Mulvaney to be the Director of the Office of Management 
and Budget because I have deep concerns about his record.
  I believe his far-right views are out of the mainstream and wrong for 
our Nation and wrong for the people of Michigan.
  In part, my vote against his nomination is due to his long-held 
public belief that we should balance the Federal budget on the backs of 
seniors and retirees who have worked their entire lives. Representative 
Mulvaney's policies would mean raising the retirement age, making deep 
cuts in Medicare, and driving up costs for seniors who already struggle 
to afford the care they need. These are policy proposals that Mr. 
Mulvaney would bring to the highest levels of government, if confirmed, 
and I fundamentally disagree with his approach to budget policy.
  While I disagreed with a number of Representative Mulvaney's 
positions when we served together in the U.S. House of Representatives, 
I entered his confirmation hearing with an open mind. I thought that in 
preparing for a role with broad jurisdiction over the Federal 
Government, he might have developed more nuanced views on some of these 
difficult issues. However, after speaking with Representative Mulvaney 
during our recent hearing and reviewing his responses to my colleagues, 
it is clear he will bring the same extreme views to the administration 
that he brought to the Congress.
  On Social Security, which is absolutely critical to seniors and 
families across the State of Michigan, Representative Mulvaney has 
repeatedly called for congressional action to raise the retirement age 
and reduce benefits. He has publicly called Social Security

[[Page S1203]]

a ``Ponzi scheme.'' When I asked Representative Mulvaney about his 
views during this hearing, he confirmed to me that raising the 
retirement age is a central piece of what he calls Social Security 
  I could not disagree more. Michigan workers have worked their entire 
lives and have contributed out of their paycheck to the Social Security 
trust fund. I simply cannot vote for someone who takes pride in telling 
these Michiganders--construction workers, nurses, autoworkers--that 
they need to spend another 5 years on their feet after a lifetime of 
hard work.
  Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme, and labeling it as such shows 
callous indifference to Michigan families. Social Security is one of 
the most successful programs in our Nation's history. Confirming 
Congressman Mulvaney to lead the Office of Management and Budget is a 
direct threat to the financial security of millions of seniors and 
  If you believe Mr. Mulvaney's proposals on Social Security are 
wrongheaded, just wait until you hear his views on Medicare. He has 
vowed to ``end Medicare as we know it.'' He has said the plans of House 
Speaker Paul Ryan, which called for drastic cuts to Medicare, didn't go 
far enough.
  During the first term of President Reagan, a saying entered into the 
public discourse as the newly elected President was staffing up his 
administration: ``Personnel is policy.''
  While President Trump said on the campaign trail that he opposes 
changes to Social Security and Medicare, personnel is policy. While the 
title of the job, ``Director of the Office of Management and Budget,'' 
might conjure up images of a bureaucratic backwater for many Americans, 
make no mistake, we are currently debating who will hold one of the 
most powerful positions in this new administration--and personnel is 
  Let's be clear. Congressman Mulvaney's nomination presents a direct 
threat to Medicare and to Social Security. While his positions on these 
critical programs are enough to warrant my ``no'' vote, let's examine 
how we might address other aspects of the Federal budget.
  We don't need to work at the Office of Management and Budget or be an 
accountant to know that President Trump's budget priorities simply do 
not add up. The Federal debt and deficit are serious issues, but we 
haven't seen one serious proposal from this administration on how we 
reach fiscal sustainability. It is the job of the OMB Director to help 
bring some sense to these proposals.
  What are the proposals? They include $10 trillion in tax cuts; $40 
billion on a border wall--with some kind of IOU from Mexico; 
drastically increasing defense spending; $1 trillion on infrastructure; 
and a campaign promise to never, ever touch Social Security and 
  It simply doesn't add up. Either President Trump is planning to grow 
our debt and deficit to dangerous levels or he is going to ask his 
advisers which of his many campaign promises he should break. Given 
Representative Mulvaney's belief that deficits can be solved by cutting 
benefits for seniors and slashing investments in basic science and 
research, he is not the person I want in the position of OMB Director.
  This role is also not just about expenditures and revenue. As a 
senior member of the President's economic team, you need a steady hand 
to help lead the government of the world's largest economy. Given the 
disarray that we are now seeing in the White House, I am convinced now 
more than ever that Representative Mulvaney is not that steady hand to 
help lead fiscal policy in this Nation.
  In 2013, Representative Mulvaney supported and helped lead the effort 
for a government shutdown. Let me repeat: He helped lead the effort to 
shut down the U.S. Government. More specifically, he helped lead the 
effort to shut down the government because the Senate would not agree 
to defund Planned Parenthood.
  In his confirmation hearing, he had a chance to explain this 
position. Our ranking member, Senator McCaskill, asked him flat out: Do 
you still believe that the 2013 government shutdown was good policy?
  His response: Yes, ma'am. It was polite, but wrong. Polite isn't 
enough. We simply cannot have these views in the highest levels of 
  This spring, on April 28, funding for the Federal government expires. 
Critical programs, from childcare to scientific research, will halt 
unless there is an agreement in place. It is hard to have confidence 
that this administration will come to a reasonable agreement when their 
nominee for the highest budget position believes it is ``good policy'' 
to shut down the Federal Government.
  This will not be the first, or last, potential budgetary crisis the 
OMB Director could face. Sometime this summer, the U.S. Congress will 
need to address the debt ceiling in order to meet our previously 
agreed-to financial obligations. If we do not come to an agreement, the 
effects on the global economy will be devastating. We risk permanently 
downgrading our credit rating and setting off a worldwide financial 
  Representative Mulvaney on many occasions has doubted the need to 
raise the debt ceiling. He has doubted that the U.S. Government should 
meet our financial obligations. This makes me doubt his very basic 
qualifications to serve as the Director of OMB.
  This is far beyond partisan politics. This is the fiscal health of 
our Nation that will be at stake--truly, the full faith and credit of 
the U.S. Government. If Congressman Mulvaney, as the highest ranking 
budget official in the Nation, is not going to advocate on behalf of 
this commitment, who will?
  I am also worried that Congressman Mulvaney simply lacks the ability 
to see how fiscal and financial decisions impact working people. He 
looks past them and doesn't give them a second thought. During his 
confirmation hearing, I offered Mr. Mulvaney the chance to explain why 
he did not pay payroll taxes for the nanny who took care of his 
children. To be frank, I was shocked by his response. To him, there was 
a ``differentiation,'' in his mind, between the employee who was 
spending 40 hours a week helping to raise his triplets and the 
employees who spent 40 hours a week in his law firm. To him, the white 
collar workers in his law firm were employees, and his nanny was not. I 
am shocked that Mr. Mulvaney did not realize that childcare is work, 
and it is some of the hardest, most important work there is. Whether a 
nanny, babysitter, or childcare provider, this employee mattered, and 
he looked past her and didn't give her a second thought--until he was 
nominated to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
  I don't believe my colleagues should give him the opportunity to 
advance his extreme positions on Medicare and Social Security and look 
past hard-working Michiganders. I will oppose Representative Mulvaney's 
nomination, and I urge my colleagues to join me.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia.

                              The Economy

  Mr. PERDUE. Mr. President, I rise tonight to speak about the 
opportunity our country has to move this country forward.
  I appreciate the comments by my good friend from Michigan. I 
appreciate all the comments in this hallowed ground called the U.S. 
Senate. But I have to say that while I agree on some points, I disagree 
on others.
  The one I am really troubled by tonight is the fact the other side is 
creating the ultimate shutdown in government right now. We had an 
election. Our democracy has worked. We have a new person in the White 
House. We have a new direction for our country. Yet this person in the 
White House cannot even get his team approved in the U.S. Senate.
  After some 27 days, I think President Obama had 26 of his Cabinet and 
other appointees already confirmed. At this point, President Trump has 
only 13 of his nominees. Quite frankly, had we not turned the Senate on 
24/7 over the last few weeks, it would be until June or July of this 
year before we could get the full slate of just the 15 Cabinet officers 
confirmed. That is no way to run the Federal Government and, indeed, 
shows the hypocrisy of the other side. They complain about shut down 
this and shut down that. What is happening right now in the U.S. Senate 
is that the

[[Page S1204]]

other side is shutting down this administration from getting on with 
the people's business of what they elected him to do.
  Today, after 8 years of failed fiscal policies that have produced the 
weakest recovery in 70 years, the lowest GDP growth on a per capita 
basis in our history, a devastating time that left 4 million women in 
poverty after the last 8 years and left many people struggling to get 
from payday to payday--after those 8 years, tonight I am actually very 
encouraged to finally be debating pro-growth tax ideas that can 
actually grow the economy and put people back to work. We now have an 
enormous moment of opportunity to change the direction of our country 
and unleash a new era of economic growth and prosperity for every 
  President Trump has repeatedly said that job one is growing the 
economy. Personally, having worked in most parts of the world in my 
career, I see this so differently from Washington. My perspective is 
that of someone who has a global business perspective, not unlike that 
of our President. I know the way forward is not complicated. We 
absolutely can grow this economy.
  There are three things this administration is already talking about 
to grow the economy: One, they have said we need to deal with this 
archaic, outdated, and noncompetitive tax structure that we have; 
second, we need to push back on these arcane regulations that have 
sucked the very life out of our economy; third, we need to unleash the 
God-given energy potential that we have in our country today. The 
bottom line is we have to create a more level playing field generated 
by trade negotiations to allow us to compete on a level playing field 
with the rest of the world.
  The first two pieces of these changes are the changes to the Tax Code 
and rolling back the regulatory regime. Several ideas from both 
President Trump and Congress have surfaced in recent days to improve 
our Tax Code: No. 1, lowering individual rates and cleaning up some of 
the deductions to simplify the individual code; No. 2, lowering the 
corporate tax rate to become more competitive with the rest of the 
world and cleaning up corporate welfare deductions that confuse the 
competition among players here at home and create winners and losers 
inadvertently; and, No. 3, dealing with the archaic repatriation tax. 
We are the last country in the world that has this tax, and it 
penalizes our companies for competing abroad.
  These three components of changing the Tax Code will make us more 
competitive with the rest of the world, stimulate economic investment, 
and spawn a new era of economic innovation in America. These changes 
would help millions of Americans who have been crushed by this stagnant 
economy for much too long.
  I am encouraged that today there are so many of my colleagues in 
Congress interested in generating new pro-growth ideas. It is a new day 
in Washington.
  I have long been an advocate of simplifying the way we fund our 
Federal Government. In my opinion, the best way to do that is ideally 
with a new system, like the fair tax, for example, which would move us 
to a totally new tax system and completely eliminate the personal, 
corporate, and payroll taxes we suffer through to date. I think all of 
these ideas need to be considered, and none should be taken off the 
table arbitrarily.
  Having said that, one idea bears much scrutiny at this point in time, 
and that is the so-called border adjustment tax now being discussed in 
Congress. It would hammer consumers, shut down economic growth, and 
ultimately grow the size of government.
  In the last 16 years, under both Republican and Democratic 
Presidents, the Federal Government has grown from $2.4 trillion in 
constant dollars to $3.8 trillion last year--some 60 percent growth in 
just two Presidencies, one Republican and one Democrat.
  Tax schemes similar to the border adjustment tax in Europe grew the 
size of those governments in Europe by more than 60 percent. That is 
the last thing we need to be talking about right now, after we just 
experienced a similar type of growth in our government over the last 16 
years. Growing government with a new layer of complexity on top of our 
existing income tax system is the last thing we need to be doing at 
this point in time, when we should be talking about, How do we downsize 
the Federal Government, make our system more competitive with the rest 
of the world, create jobs, and create the atmosphere for capital 
formation and innovation again?
  Historically, lawmakers have crammed numerous proposals into single, 
massive, overreaching bills. It is the Washington way. Those bills have 
often hurt the very people that they claim to champion. When bad ideas 
get mixed with good ideas, the bad ideas oftentimes become law. That is 
exactly what could happen here if changes to the individual code, the 
corporate rate, the repatriation tax, and this border adjustment tax 
are combined into one sweeping bill. This is exactly what Washington 
has historically done, and the results have been devastating.
  Each of these proposals could be considered independently and 
evaluated on their own merits. There is no reason we can't do that. 
That is not possible today because many people here believe we are 
locked into the Washington scoring equation instead of looking at the 
real economic long term value of any of these ideas.
  Many other countries, such as the United Kingdom, have faced these 
opportunities, made decisions, and acted accordingly without combining 
other extraneous ideas, and the results speak for themselves. Today, 
the United States is in the least competitive position it has been, I 
believe, in the last 100 years.
  In the last 70 years, America has enjoyed the greatest economic 
miracle in the history of mankind. It was developed on the back of 
innovation, capital formation, and the rule of law, combined with the 
best workforce in the history of the world. Those are four things that 
America possesses uniquely, and which many other countries are working 
hard to emulate.
  For too long, the strength of our economy has been held down by 
politicians in Washington and the unintended consequences that occur 
when they try to interfere with the free enterprise system. It is time 
to trust that free enterprise system to get this economy going again, 
and change the rules to create a more competitive environment here at 
home that will allow us to compete overseas on a level playing 
field. It is time to simplify our individual Tax Code, reduce our 
corporate tax rates, eliminate conflicting business tax deductions, and 
eliminate the repatriation tax so we can once again become competitive 
with the rest of the world.

  In recent decades, many other countries have made these changes, and 
we are losing our competitive edge. Today, I am encouraged to see both 
Congress and the White House working together on policies that will 
potentially grow our economy and bring relief to businesses and 
families who have been crushed by improper fiscal policies that are 
driven by political attempts to manage our economy.
  Now is exactly the time to get these changes right. We have an 
opportunity to change our Tax Code to a more competitive structure that 
doesn't pick winners and losers, that doesn't penalize people for 
successes, and that allows us to compete with the rest of the world on 
a level playing field.
  I like our chances if we can accomplish that, but let's not confuse 
the issue with what may seem acceptable in Washington but is 
devastating back home to men and women who are trying to create jobs in 
their local economies.
  We need to free up capital. We need to make sure the rule of law 
supports the Constitution for every American. The American people 
deserve Congress treating these issues individually and independently 
to generate a simplified approach to funding our government and growing 
our economy.
  I hear the other side whine about not hearing any proposals coming 
out of the White House. Donald Trump has been talking about what he 
would do with the economy for the past 2 years. There is no mystery. He 
wants to grow the economy. Job one, he said, is growing the economy. 
That doesn't mean for the rich. That means for the working men and 
women of America.
  I believe they have a plan. It includes adjusting our tax system, 
pushing back on unnecessary regulations that are sucking the very life 
out of our economy and, finally, once and for all,

[[Page S1205]]

unleashing this great energy potential that we have.
  We already see moves today on some of the regulatory fronts, where we 
see the new Secretary of HHS issuing a new rule today. We see the new 
leaders that have been confirmed already taking action in this 
administration. I, for one, am anxious to move forward with this 
  I applaud our compatriots in the House for bringing up these ideas. I 
look forward to an open and active conversation, but now is the time 
for the other side to begin confirming these nominees so that we can 
get this economy growing.
  I know you also are aware that our military is in devastating shape 
now after 8 years of disinvestment and 15 years of war. There is enough 
blame to go around here. This is not about the blame game. This is 
about getting this economic situation right where we can fund our 
military so we can defend our country.
  I am very concerned that the other side is putting politics in the 
way of solving some of these problems that we have that are so 
devastating to men and women who are disenfranchised in our economy and 
our men and women in uniform around the world who are put in danger 
every day because we are not funding our military the way we should.
  The time for rhetoric has passed. We are already past the tipping 
point of the most serious, I believe, physical crisis in our history. 
This debt crisis is very real. We don't need to grow the economy just 
to grow the economy. We have to grow the economy because it is one of 
several steps that are absolutely mandatory to solving this debt 
crisis, and we will not and cannot solve our national security crisis 
unless and until we solve this debt crisis. I am optimistic tonight 
because we are beginning to talk about these very issues.
  I yield my time.
  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. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). Without objection, it is so 

                        Tribute to Mona Painter

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, in the past month, I have come to the 
floor to recognize Alaskans who have generously devoted their time and 
talents to our State and made it a better place for all of us to live 
in. It is a great place to live. There is a mystique surrounding my 
great State--a well-earned mystique. People travel to Alaska from all 
over the world to discover a part of themselves that craves high peaks, 
beautiful mountains, streams, and swaths of wilderness.
  The real wonders of Alaska are our people--kind and generous people, 
many of whom have etched warm homes and welcoming communities out of 
wilderness. One of those people who has helped make my State truly 
extraordinary is Mona Painter, our Alaskan of the Week.
  Mona, who will be 80 years old soon, first visited Alaska when she 
was just 11 in 1949. She flew, by herself, with others in a tiny four-
engine passenger plane to visit relatives. In the 1950s, she moved to 
Alaska for good and eventually settled in Cooper Landing. Cooper 
Landing has about 350 year-round residents, but that number swells in 
the summer. It has some of the best fishing and rafting anywhere in the 
world--an astonishingly beautiful place.
  It has people like Mona, a devoted wife, grandmother, great-
grandmother, and someone, who according to one fellow resident, is 
``the glue that binds the community of Cooper Landing together.''
  She has done so much for this community--volunteering countless hours 
over the decades to ensure community cohesion in the schools, churches, 
and various clubs, including the Cooper Landing Community Hall, which 
serves as the community's unofficial city council.
  Since living in Cooper Landing, Mona received an art degree, has 
taken anthropology classes, and even took a taxidermy class--once 
practicing her skills on a moose left on the side of the highway.
  One of Mona's passions throughout the years has been to keep history 
alive in Cooper Landing. To that end, she started the Cooper Landing 
Historical Society and Museum, with which she is still very involved. 
For years she has devoted her time and energy to collecting bits of 
history about Cooper Landing and sharing that history with her 
neighbors, with residents, and with all Alaskans. She is also the 
founding member of the Kenai Communities Association and helped to 
spearhead the effort to create a national heritage area in that part of 
our State.
  One of her friends said about her: ``The whole essence of her life 
has been to make this community a better place to live and to restore 
the history of the community.''
  People like Mona make my State great, and I want to thank Mona for 
all she has done for Alaska, and thanks for being our Alaskan of the 

                        Tribute to DeLynn Henry

  Mr. President, I want to talk about another Alaskan. She is a great 
Alaskan, an honorary Alaskan, but to all those who know her, a real 
Alaskan. So many people in my State know her. So many people in my 
State love her. I am talking about DeLynn Henry.
  When I got elected in 2014, I was looking for important members of my 
office to staff my office. As we all know on the Senate floor, the 
scheduler is probably the most important position. I asked around, and 
the unanimous response was to hire DeLynn Henry. That is what everybody 
told me. In Alaska, in DC, hire DeLynn Henry. She is a legend. She will 
make everybody feel at home.
  DeLynn had been the scheduler for former Senator Ted Stevens, a titan 
of the Senate since 1989. For the past two decades, she has met 
thousands of Alaskans. She has done the vitally important work of 
making sure that when Alaskans come to DC--to our embassy here, the 
Alaskan embassy--they feel welcome, they get to meet with their 
  To many of us, including my wife Julie, DeLynn is like family. Her 
job, which she takes very seriously, is something she has done 
extraordinarily well--for me and for Senator Stevens--for decades. She 
is personal and kind. She does everything she can do to make sure that 
Alaskans feel welcome, part of our family, and feel at home. She has 
also raised two fine sons, Blake and Graham, and will soon be a doting 
  DeLynn has accepted a job as the scheduling coordinator for our new 
Secretary of Transportation. I am sad and happy for that. She will be 
leaving my office. She will be leaving a big hole in my office. We, and 
so many Alaskans, will miss her dearly, but we know she will be serving 
Secretary Chao's office with the same warmth and welcoming attitude she 
has served Alaskans for nearly 25 years.
  Thank you, DeLynn, for your years of service to Alaskans. You will 
always, always have a home with us.
  Mr. President, I rise in support of Congressman Mulvaney's 
confirmation to be OMB Director for many of the reasons that a number 
of my colleagues have come to the floor and mentioned. The Presiding 
Officer just talked about some of those reasons. My colleague and 
friend from Wisconsin did a few minutes ago, also. Those are two issues 
that don't get talked about enough here and, certainly, weren't talked 
about enough in the last 8 years; that is, economic growth and the 
overregulation of our economy.
  Again, it wasn't talked about a lot, but we had a lost decade of 
economic growth. The end of the Bush years and the entire Obama years 
never hit 3 percent GDP growth in 1 year--never. That is the first 
President in the history of the country not to do that.
  For thousands, millions of Americans the American dream was starting 
to disappear because nobody focused on the issue of growth. I think in 
November the American people voted and said: We are not going to give 
up on the American dream. We want growth. We want opportunity. Why did 
we have that lost decade of growth where the economy grew at an anemic 
1.5-percent GDP growth each quarter?
  I think this chart shows a lot of the reasons right here--the 
explosion of Federal regulations that have literally choked opportunity 
and economic growth in our country. Year after year--Democrat or 
Republican--this is

[[Page S1206]]

what we see. This regulatory overreach impacts all kinds of Americans, 
mostly small businesses. This is a big reason why this economy has been 
stuck in first gear.
  When I had my discussions with Congressman Mulvaney, we focused on 
this issue of growth, and we focused on this issue of overregulation. 
We haven't had an OMB Director in years who is focused like a laser on 
growth, like a laser on making sure we don't overburden our economy the 
way the Federal Government has done for decades. That is exactly what 
we need right now. We need growth. We need opportunity for Americans. 
We need the Federal Government to be a partner in opportunity, not an 
obstacle, as it is in so many States.
  For these reasons and because I believe the next OMB Director is 
going to be focused on these issues--opportunity for Americans and 
growth for our economy, which sorely needs it--I plan on voting for the 
confirmation of Congressman Mulvaney, and I encourage my colleagues to 
do the same.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, as the ranking member of the Budget 
Committee, I rise in strong opposition to the nomination of Congressman 
Mick Mulvaney to be the next Director of the Office of Management and 
Budget, or OMB.
  Like many of President Trump's other nominees, my opposition to 
Congressman Mulvaney has less to do with his extreme rightwing economic 
views than it has to do with the hypocrisy and the dishonesty of 
President Trump. The simple truth is that Congressman Mulvaney's 
record, in many respects, is the exact opposite of the rhetoric that 
then-Candidate Trump used in order to get votes from senior citizens 
and working families. Now, if Candidate Trump had run his campaign by 
saying: I am going to cut your Social Security benefits if elected 
President, well, you know what, Congressman Mulvaney would have been 
the exact person that he should bring forth as OMB Director. If 
President Trump had said: I am going to privatize your Medicare; vote 
for me because I am going to privatize your Medicare--if that is what 
he had campaigned on, then Congressman Mulvaney would have been exactly 
the right choice for OMB Director. If Candidate Trump had said: I want 
to devastate Medicare, I want to make it harder for poor people to get 
the healthcare they need, and I want to threaten the nursing home care 
of millions of senior citizens--if that is what Candidate Trump had 
said, Mick Mulvaney would have been exactly the right and appropriate 
leader for the job.
  But those are not the words, that is not the rhetoric, and those are 
not the ideas that Candidate Trump raised during his Presidential race. 
In fact, Candidate Trump said exactly the opposite on May 7, 2015. We 
are all familiar with Mr. Trump's tweets. Here is a tweet that he made 
on May 7, 2015:

       I was the first and only potential GOP candidate to state 
     there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare and 
     Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.

  So you have Candidate Trump making it very clear that there would be 
no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
  On August 10, 2015, Trump said:

       [I will] save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security 
     without cuts. [We] have to do it. . . . People have been 
     paying in for years, and now many of these candidates want to 
     cut it.

  On November 3, 2015, Mr. Trump said:

       I will save Social Security. I'll save medicare. . . . 
     People love Medicare. . . . I'm not going to cut it.

  On March 10, 2016, Mr. Trump said:

       I will do everything within my power not to touch Social 
     Security, to leave it the way it is . . . it's my absolute 
     intention to leave Social Security the way it is. Not 
     increase the age and to leave it as is.
       It is my absolute intention to leave Social Security the 
     way it is. Not increase the age and to leave it as is.

  It can't be much clearer than that.
  On May 21, 2015, Mr. Trump tweeted:

       I am going to save Social Security without any cuts. I know 
     where to get the money from. Nobody else does.

  On January 24, 2015, Mr. Trump said:

       I'm not a cutter. I will probably be the only Republican 
     that doesn't want to cut Social Security.

  Those are pretty strong statements. What he just told you, in no 
uncertain terms, can't be clearer than that. He doesn't want to cut 
Social Security. He doesn't want to cut Medicare and doesn't want to 
cut Medicaid. And you know what, millions of people actually believed 
what he said. They actually thought that Candidate Trump was telling 
the truth.
  But now that the election is over, President Trump has nominated a 
budget director, Mr. Mulvaney, who would cut Social Security, would cut 
Medicare, would cut Medicaid, and would threaten the entire security of 
millions of Americans.
  We just heard the exact quotes coming from candidate Donald Trump. 
Let's now hear the exact quotes coming from Congressman Mick Mulvaney 
about his views on these very same issues.
  On May 15, 2011, Congressman Mulvaney said on FOX Business News:

       We have to end Medicare as we know it.

  On April 28, 2011, Congressman Mulvaney said:

       Medicare as it exists today is finished.

  On August 1, 2011, Congressman Mulvaney said:

       You have to raise the retirement age, lower a pay-out, 
     change the reimbursement system. You simply cannot leave 
     [Social Security] the way it is.

  On May 17, 2011, Congressman Mulvaney said: ``I honestly don't think 
we went far enough with the Ryan plan'' because it did not cut Social 
Security and Medicare ``rapidly enough.''
  Just 2 years ago, Congressman Mulvaney voted against the budget 
proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price and House Speaker 
Paul Ryan, opting instead to vote in favor of an even more extreme 
budget by the Republican Study Committee. The budget that Congressman 
Mulvaney supported would have cut Medicare by $69 billion more than the 
Price-Ryan budget. It would have cut Social Security by $184 billion 
more, and it would have cut Medicaid by $255 billion more than the 
budget proposed by Chairman Price and House Speaker Ryan.
  In fact, Congressman Mulvaney made it clear during his confirmation 
hearing in the Budget Committee that he would advise President Trump to 
break his promises not to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 
During that hearing, Senator Corker called President Trump's campaign 
promises ``totally unrealistic'' and said that they ``make no sense 
  When Senator Corker asked Congressman Mulvaney if he would advise the 
President not to follow through on the campaign promises he made to 
seniors, this is what Congressman Mulvaney said:

       I have to imagine that the President knew what he was 
     getting when he asked me to fill this role. . . . I'd like to 
     think it is why he hired me.

  Whoa, what we have been discussing is precisely why so many people 
have contempt for what goes on here in Congress and what goes on in 
Washington, in general. What is going on here is that a candidate for 
President of the United States says one thing in order to get votes, 
but the day after he is elected, his tune dramatically changes, and he 
nominates a number of people to his Cabinet and to high-level positions 
within his administration who intend to do exactly the opposite of what 
he campaigned on. Once again, Congressman Mulvaney--and I believe he is 
exactly right--said:

       I have to imagine that the President knew what he was 
     getting when he asked me to fill this role. . . . I'd like to 
     think it is why he hired me.

  So the President hires somebody who has been one of the most vigorous 
proponents of cutting Social Security, cutting Medicare, and of cutting 
Medicaid after he ran his entire campaign telling the American people 
he would not cut Social Security, cut Medicare, and cut Medicaid.
  Outside of Capitol Hill, where real people live, it turns out, not 
surprisingly, that the overwhelming majority of Americans--be they 
Democrats, Republicans, or Independents--are opposed to cutting Social 
Security. In fact, according to an October 2016 survey by Public Policy 
Polling, 72 percent of the American people, including 51 percent of 
Republicans, ``support increasing, not cutting, Social Security 
benefits by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay more into the 

[[Page S1207]]

  As it happens, that is exactly the heart and soul of the legislation 
that I will soon be offering. Legislation that I will be offering will 
expand Social Security benefits, not cut them. It will do so by asking 
the top 2 percent to pay more in taxes, which, it turns out, is not 
only the right thing to do, but it is precisely what the American 
people want us to do. Various other polls have reached similar results. 
The people of our country--once you get outside the Congress and 
outside of the Republican caucus, in particular--the American people 
know that when millions of seniors, disabled veterans, and people with 
disabilities are trying to get by on $13, $14, $15,000 a year, you do 
not cut their benefits, while at the same time give hundreds of 
billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 1 percent. That is not 
what the American people want.
  In my view, we don't need a budget director like Congressman 
Mulvaney, who believes that Social Security is a ``Ponzi scheme.'' We 
don't need a budget director who once voted to declare Social Security, 
Medicaid, and the U.S. Department of Education unconstitutional. He was 
in, I believe, the South Carolina State Legislature, State Senate. He 
actually voted on a vote--which got very few votes--in the South 
Carolina State Senate. He voted to declare Social Security, Medicaid, 
and the U.S. Department of Education unconstitutional. This is the 
person whom President Trump has nominated to become the head of OMB.

  So if you believe Social Security is unconstitutional, if you believe 
it is a good idea to cut benefits for people who will be living on 
$13,000 or $14,000 a year, I guess Mr. Mulvaney is your choice. If that 
is whom my Republican colleagues want to vote for, that is their 
business, but my job and the job of everybody is to make it clear to 
the American people that the Republicans are far more interested in 
cutting Social Security and in giving huge tax breaks to billionaires 
than they are in taking care of the needs of the American people.
  We need a budget director who understands that we have a retirement 
crisis in America today. Today, more than half of older Americans have 
no retirement savings. That is just an extraordinary reality. Over half 
of older workers in this country have zero in the bank. Think about 
what they are feeling when they hear people like Congressman Mulvaney 
saying: Hey, you got nothing now. You are going to try to get by on 
$12,000, $13,000 a year in Social Security, and we are going to cut 
those benefits.
  Today, more than half of older Americans have no retirement savings. 
More than one-third of senior citizens depend on Social Security for 
all of their income. One out of five senior citizens is trying to make 
ends meet on income of less than $13,000 a year. I will tell you, I 
hope people are able to sleep well, people who think it is appropriate 
to give tax breaks to billionaires and cut benefits for people who are 
trying to get by on Social Security checks of $13,000 a year.
  In my view, we don't need a budget director who believes that ``we 
have to end Medicare as we know it,'' nor do we need a budget director 
who has said that ``Medicare as it exists today is finished.'' Let's 
remember for a moment what things were like before Medicare was signed 
into law back in 1965. At that point, about half of all seniors were 
uninsured and millions more were underinsured. Today, thanks to 
Medicare, about 45 million seniors have health insurance, and the 
senior poverty rate has plummeted. Seniors are living healthier, longer 
lives. Thank you, Medicare.
  In my view, we do not need a budget director who supports cutting 
Medicaid by more than $1 trillion, threatening not only the healthcare 
of low-income people but also the nursing home care of millions of 
vulnerable senior citizens and persons with disabilities. There are 
millions of not just low-income families but middle-class families who 
today are getting help with the nursing home payments for their parents 
through Medicaid. If you make devastating cuts in Medicaid, you are not 
only going to take away health insurance from low-income Americans, you 
are going to put enormous economic stress on middle-class families who 
will now have to pay the full tab for the nursing home care of their 
  Finally, there is another issue; that is, Mr. Mulvaney's taxes. After 
Congressman Mulvaney was nominated to become the next OMB Director, it 
was revealed that he failed to pay over $15,000 in taxes for a nanny he 
employed from the year 2000 through 2004. Here is what Congressman 
Mulvaney wrote in response to a question I asked him on January 11:

       I have come to learn during the confirmation review process 
     that I failed to pay FICA and Federal and State unemployment 
     taxes on a household employee for the years 2000 through 
     2004. Upon discovery of that shortfall, I paid the Federal 
     taxes. The amount in question for Federal FICA and 
     unemployment was $15,583.60, exclusive of penalties and 
     interest which are not yet determined. The State amounts are 
     not yet determined.

  This is a very serious issue. As you will recall, 8 years ago Senator 
Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination as Secretary of Health and Human 
Services after it was discovered that he failed to pay taxes for one of 
his domestic workers.
  On this issue, I agree wholeheartedly with Minority Leader Schumer, 
who said:

       When other previous Cabinet nominees failed to pay their 
     fair share in taxes, Senate Republicans forced those nominees 
     to withdraw from consideration. If failure to pay taxes was 
     disqualifying for Democratic nominees, then the same should 
     be true for Republican nominees.

  Mr. President, here is the irony: Over and over again, Congressman 
Mulvaney has sponsored and cosponsored legislation designed to prohibit 
people from serving in the government if they fail to pay their taxes. 
In 2015, Congressman Mulvaney voted for a bill in the House that 
stated: ``Any individual who has a seriously delinquent tax debt should 
be ineligible to be appointed or to continue serving as an employee'' 
of the Federal Government. Congressman Mulvaney cosponsored three bills 
when he was in the South Carolina State Senate that would have 
prohibited tax cheats from serving in the South Carolina State 
government. In other words, it looks like there is one set of rules for 
Congressman Mulvaney and another set of rules for everyone else.
  In light of this information and in light of Congressman Mulvaney's 
extreme rightwing record of attacking the needs of the elderly, the 
children, the sick, and the poor, I would urge all of my colleagues to 
vote no on this nomination.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  Mr. UDALL. Mr. President, I wish to oppose the confirmation of 
Congressman Mick Mulvaney as Director of the Office of Management and 
Budget. I respect Mr. Mulvaney's public service representing the people 
of South Carolina, who elected him to serve in the State legislature 
and in Congress. However, the question before us today is whether the 
Senate should confirm him to one of the most important economic 
positions in our government--a position that has major ramifications 
for global financial markets, the United States and New Mexico 
economies, and the jobs, health care, and retirement security of every 
  Unfortunately, Representative Mulvaney's record shows a shocking 
willingness to put at risk the security of the public debt of the 
Nation and endanger essential Federal programs that New Mexicans depend 
upon. I want to underscore a few of Representative Mulvaney's previous 
statements made as a Member of Congress.
  First, he has supported playing chicken with the debt ceiling over 
partisan political issues, an action that would jeopardize the U.S. 
Government's ability to repay the public debt. If the debt ceiling is 
not raised, Federal officials have said that the revenue coming into 
the government would not be enough to cover its obligations--
potentially disrupting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans 
benefits, military payments, student loan payments, and many other 
government services.
  Despite these clear dangers, Representative Mulvaney voted no on 
raising the debt ceiling every time it came up for a vote in 2011, 
2012, and 2013. He claimed that risking disruption to Social Security 
and veterans benefits was ``a fabricated crisis.'' He went so far as to 
question the majority leader, claiming that, if the Senate chose to 
raise the debt ceiling, the majority leader ``should just quit and go 
home.'' I, for one, will be here to defend the full faith and credit of 
the United

[[Page S1208]]

States' public debt and protect essential government services that our 
sick, our elderly, and our veterans depend upon.
  Putting someone with such strongly held and reckless views into power 
at the OMB is an endorsement of policies that could cause another 
global financial crisis--devastating millions of American families. I 
cannot in good conscience support his nomination for this reason alone.
  Second, Representative Mulvaney is a founding member of the group of 
extreme House Republicans who forced the government to shut down in 
October 2013 over their blind opposition to the Affordable Care Act. In 
New Mexico, the impacts of the shutdown were felt immediately as our 
civilian employees were sent home from military installations, national 
parks and forests were closed to tourists, and countless other services 
were halted. The shutdown lasted over two weeks, and Representative 
Mulvaney and other members of his extreme wing of the House could have 
ended the shutdown at any time.
  Representative Mulvaney claims that he opposes wasteful government 
spending, but an analysis by Standard and Poor's found that the October 
2013 government shutdown cost $24 billion--$24 billion with nothing to 
show for it. Even Representative Mulvaney admitted that his shutdown 
hurt people. On October 16, 2013, he told CNN, ``Were people hurt by 
this? Sure.'' He admitted that, if you were one of the millions of 
people who relied on the shuttered services, his shutdown hurt you, but 
Representative Mulvaney showed little remorse. I stand by what I said 
at the time. Insisting on blind cuts or a government shutdown to prove 
a point isn't leadership.
  Third and finally, Representative Mulvaney is on record advocating 
enormous cuts to Medicare, and he is a proponent of Speaker Ryan's 
preferred voucher concept for Medicare. He also has long been hostile 
to Social Security and voted in the South Carolina State Senate to 
declare Social Security, along with Medicaid and the Department of 
Education, unconstitutional.
  Workers earn their Social Security benefits through a lifetime of 
paying into the Social Security system. And it is unfair to delay or 
cut the benefits they have paid into. Raising the retirement age to 70, 
as Representative Mulvaney has advocated, would cut benefits by nearly 
20 percent for all beneficiaries. Raising the retirement age would be 
hardest for those New Mexicans who work in jobs that require heavy 
manual labor, which becomes harder to do as we age. With all the 
challenges people have saving for retirement, especially as New Mexico 
continues to struggle to recover, the last thing we should do is raise 
the Social Security retirement age.
  In conclusion, Representative Mulvaney has demonstrated that he has 
no reservations about using a government shutdown or the public debt as 
bargaining chips. He has stated that he will push to eliminate Social 
Security for people under 70. He will slash Federal consumer 
protections and cut support for small businesses, labor rights, 
financial oversight, community health, and environmental protection. I 
have heard from many people and groups--a broad coalition of consumer, 
small business, labor, good government, financial protection, 
community, health, environmental, civil rights, and public interest 
organizations--who oppose the nomination. I stand with them. I strongly 
oppose Representative Mulvaney's nomination to be Director of the 
Office of Management and Budget and urge my colleagues to do so as 
  Mr. SANDERS. 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. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, here we are on another evening, debating 
another Cabinet nominee, addressing the question that Hamilton put 
before us, which is whether an individual is of fit character to serve 
in a particular post. This effort, this advice and consent 
responsibility held by the Senate, is one that was anticipated by our 
Founders to be used rarely because the very existence of this power, 
they felt, would ensure that a President would nominate people who are 
appropriately suited to the post they would hold. So I do find it 
troubling the number of times I have come to the floor in these last 
few weeks to speak about a nominee and consider whether they are fit 
and to find that perhaps the individual is lacking.
  Tonight we are considering the nomination of Congressman Mick 
Mulvaney to head the Office of Management and Budget. This is a 
powerful organization, and it is a very important position. It plays a 
critical role in the oversight and management of our Federal budget. It 
plays a critical role in determining what gets funded and what doesn't 
get funded. So with that in mind, it is important that we have a robust 
debate about this position and about this nominee.
  To break that down a little bit, the Office of Management and Budget 
puts together the budget for the President. In doing so, they take the 
vision our President has articulated, and they build it into a roadmap 
to accomplish that vision because where you spend money affects what 
actually happens as we pursue programs here in the United States of 
  It is the Director of the OMB who works to make sure the various 
pieces of the Federal Government are working together like gears that 
mesh cleanly together and do not conflict. It is the Director of the 
OMB who helps to determine the cost of proposed legislation, which can 
advance or doom any particular proposal. It is the position of the OMB 
Director to review the impact of proposed regulations, and that can 
also have a significant impact.
  I come to this conversation with a number of concerns, and the first 
is the position of the nominee on Social Security. For 82 years, Social 
Security has provided for the American people, and it has helped our 
Nation prosper.
  On the third anniversary of the Social Security Act, in 1938, 
Franklin Roosevelt pointed out: ``Men and women too old and infirm to 
work either depended on those who had but little to share, or spent 
their remaining years within the walls of a poorhouse.''
  That is not the vision we have today. Thanks to Social Security, our 
seniors have a basic income to see them through their golden years. 
They can live out their lives in relative comfort and security, rather 
than, as Franklin Roosevelt put it, ``within the walls of a 
  In 2016, roughly 61 million Americans received over $900 billion in 
Social Security benefits. That is a huge injection into our economy, 
and it is spent almost immediately on fundamental goods. Nearly 9 out 
of 10 Americans older than 65 receive Social Security benefits, and for 
one-quarter of our Social Security beneficiaries, including both those 
who are single and those who are married, Social Security accounts for 
virtually their entire income. That would be many millions--more than 
15 million Americans who would definitely be struggling in the most 
difficult fashion financially if Social Security didn't exist.
  Retired workers and their dependents account for about 71 percent of 
the benefits paid. Funds also go to disabled workers. Disabled workers 
and their dependents account for about 16 percent of the benefits. 
Survivors of deceased workers account for another 13 percent or roughly 
one-eighth of the benefits paid.
  Simply put, Social Security assists our retired workers, our disabled 
workers, and the survivors of our deceased workers. It is one of the 
best ideas America has ever put forward, but Congressman Mulvaney 
doesn't agree. He sees Social Security as a Ponzi scheme. Let me 
explain what a Ponzi scheme is. A Ponzi scheme is something where the 
incoming amount raised immediately pays for the benefits of somebody 
who paid in money previously.
  We actually have a Social Security trust fund, which is the 
difference between Mick Mulvaney's description of Social Security and 
what we actually have. If we made no changes, no changes at all to 
increase the lifetime of the trust fund, it would continue to be able 
to pay 100 percent of the benefits through 2034 and roughly three-

[[Page S1209]]

quarters of all benefits currently promised ever after. That is if we 
make no changes.
  If we make small changes, our Social Security trust fund is solvent 
for decades and decades into the future. Certainly, I think we should 
aspire to that vision of a trust fund that has a 75-year horizon, a 
full solvency.
  The issue that Congressman Mulvaney raises, the idea he raises for 
changing how we adjust Social Security, however, isn't one of 
increasing the amount of wages that are subject to Social Security tax; 
it is not one of putting premiums on the income earned through 
nonwages, which is primarily income raised by wealthier Americans. 
Instead, it is to say to folks: Just retire later.
  When you are a white-collar worker and you work in an office that is 
nicely air-conditioned and you have had full healthcare benefits 
throughout your entire life, maybe when you get into your sixties, you 
say, ``Well, maybe I could keep working a little longer,'' but the 
reality for a huge percentage of Americans who work difficult jobs, who 
work jobs where their bodies wear out, they don't have the choice of 
simply saying: I will retire in another 5 years, because they literally 
have developed so many issues and challenges that it is impossible to 
do the same kind of work they did in their twenties and their thirties 
in their sixties.
  So that strategy of moving the goalpost on American workers, many of 
whom are decades already into the work they are doing, doesn't fulfill 
the promise and the vision of the Social Security Program.
  While Social Security is a great idea, moving the retirement age to 
age 70--which Mick Mulvaney advocates for, from his view as someone who 
comes from a job that perhaps isn't as arduous as many jobs in 
America--is a bad idea.
  This vision continues on into Medicare. Like Social Security, 
Medicare is also a generational promise, a lifeline for countless 
Americans since President Johnson signed it into law now more than five 
decades ago. Over 55 million Americans rely on Medicare for their 
health and their financial security. Roughly, 46 million are older 
Americans, 9 million are younger Americans with disabilities or certain 
  While this program has worked incredibly well, our nominee wants to 
``end Medicare as we know it.'' Those are ominous words for the 55 
million Americans relying on Medicare. He also believes we have to 
raise the retirement age.
  He told Bloomberg News in 2011: ``You have to raise the retirement 
age, lower a payout, change the reimbursement system.''
  The problem with raising the retirement age is the same problem we 
have with Social Security. For American workers working hard in many 
types of jobs, their bodies are worn out. I used to have folks come to 
my townhalls and say: Senator, I am just trying to stay alive until I 
get to age 65, and they would tell me how they had multiple diseases 
and they were choosing between which disease to treat or how they had a 
single significant problem, but they were deciding to skip their pills 
every other day or cut their pills in half or perhaps go a week without 
their pills at all or how they were choosing not to go to the doctor 
when they developed a difficulty because they were afraid they wouldn't 
be able to afford the payment. That is not a healthcare system, but 
Mick Mulvaney wants to say to those folks: Oh, you reached age 65, too 
bad. I am providing this healthcare program another 5 years into the 
future. That is simply wrong, but more than wrong, it is also in direct 
contradiction to the promises made by President Trump during his 

  The contrast is incredibly stark between the President's promise to 
Americans that unlike so many of the folks in his party, he would not 
be the one to promote tearing down Medicare and Social Security. He 
would not be the one to promote advancing the retirement age so people 
who are struggling have to struggle for another 5 years. So it is a 
poor fit between this individual and the office and the promises made 
to the American people.
  Another concern I have is in regard to Congressman Mulvaney's 
advocacy for shutting down the economy. He seems very comfortable 
playing Russian roulette with our economy. He and a group of other 
House Members brought our government to a screeching halt in 2013 
because they wanted to defund the Affordable Care Act. What is the 
Affordable Care Act? The Affordable Care Act has enabled 20 million 
Americans to gain access to healthcare that they didn't have 
  In my home State of Oregon, the Affordable Care Act has enabled about 
one-half million people to gain access to healthcare, both through 
expansion of Medicaid, known as the Oregon Health Plan, and also 
through the healthcare exchange and marketplace where you can compare 
one policy to another, shop for the policy that best fits your family, 
and those of modest means get credit to help pay for those policies so 
they can actually afford them. It is an affordable care plan that 
provides for a healthcare set of benefits--benefits such as the ability 
to keep your children on your policy through age 26, benefits such as 
not having an annual limit or a lifetime limit on your policy so that 
when you do get seriously ill, you don't run out of healthcare partway 
into treating your disease. It is the Affordable Care Act that ends 
gender discrimination in the insurance marketplaces. It is the 
Affordable Care Act that says if you have a preexisting condition, you 
can still get insurance.
  I was at a fundraising walk for a woman who had a family member with 
multiple sclerosis. It was a fundraiser for multiple sclerosis. She 
said: Senator, this year is so different from last year. That was the 
year before the Affordable Care Act was implemented. I asked: How so? 
She said: A year ago, if your loved one was diagnosed with MS and they 
had insurance, you knew there was a good chance that your insurance was 
going to run out at the end of the year or they would hit a lifetime 
limit, and they wouldn't be able to pay for the care they needed. She 
said: If you didn't have insurance, you now have a preexisting 
condition that would prevent you from ever getting insurance.
  She went on to say that the difference between last year and this 
year, because of the Affordable Care Act, is that now members in the MS 
community--those who had the disease and their family members who were 
supporting them all out at this fundraising walk--now knew their loved 
one would have the peace of mind that they would get the care they 
needed. This is what a healthcare system is all about, peace of mind, 
but Mick Mulvaney wanted to tear away that peace of mind. He proceeded 
to support a 16-day government shutdown that cost our country $24 
billion--and to what purpose? To rip peace of mind away from 20 million 
  Back in 2015, he threatened to do it all again. The damage he had 
done--the $24 billion he had stolen from the American Treasury in the 
context of damaging the government with that shutdown--he was ready to 
do it all again in order to make sure Planned Parenthood never gets a 
dime from the government. To be clear, not a single dime from the 
government goes to Planned Parenthood for abortions. In fact, the 
organization that has done more to decrease abortions than any other in 
our country is Planned Parenthood. The government funds go for 
different purposes. They go to Planned Parenthood to do cancer 
screenings, breast cancer screenings, prostate cancer screenings, and a 
whole host of fundamental basic healthcare. They are the healthcare 
provider for 2.5 million American women. Just as he was ready to 
recklessly shut down the government to rip healthcare away from 20 
million Americans in 2013, he was ready to defund these essential 
healthcare clinics serving 2.5 million Americans in 2015. That is a 
sign of someone who has lost their policy foundations and is acting in 
an irresponsible and unacceptable manner.
  Let's talk a little bit about the Consumer Financial Protection 
Bureau. The CFPB was in response to a big problem in America, which was 
that we had no one looking out to shut down predatory financial 
practices. It was the responsibility of the Federal Reserve, but the 
Federal Reserve had their conversation on monetary policy up in the 
penthouse--the top level, if you will. That is what the Chairman of the 
Federal Reserve paid attention to.

[[Page S1210]]

They took the responsibility for consumer protection and put them down 
in the basement, and they locked the door and threw away the key.
  Folks kept coming to the Federal Reserve saying: Hey, there is a 
major concern here. We have these predatory mortgages that have these 
teaser rates, and they are going to destroy the families who get those 
mortgages. They are going to destroy their dream of homeownership and 
turn it into a nightmare. People went to the Federal Reserve and said: 
By the way, we now have these wire loans, where there is no 
documentation of income and people are being sold these loans that they 
have no hope of repaying. In addition, we have another predatory 
practice called steering payments, which are kickbacks to originators. 
So they are getting kickbacks to steer people into subprime loans with 
high interest rates rather than prime loans that they qualify for. What 
happened? The Federal Reserve ignored all of that. That is the 
foundation for the collapse of our economy in 2008.
  So along comes Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Warren, as an advocate, 
not yet a Senator, comes to this body and said: We need an agency whose 
mission is to look out and stop predatory financial practices, a 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and we got it done.
  What does Mick Mulvaney say about this effort to stop predatory 
financial practices? He says it is a ``sick, sad joke.'' So I asked him 
about this in committee. I said: Really? This is an agency that finally 
is watching out for working families so they are not prey to predatory, 
fraudulent practices. And he said: Yes, ``a sick, sad joke.''
  I said: You know, they have returned funds to 27 million Americans. 
What other agency has fought for Americans in that fashion--returned 
funds to them from folks who were operating in a predatory fashion, to 
27 million Americans. I didn't change his view by raising that.
  I said: You know, this agency, to those 27 million people, has 
returned $12 billion. There was $12 billion returned to people who were 
cheated; isn't that a good thing? But I didn't persuade him.
  He said: You know, I don't like the way this agency is set up. I want 
it to be a commission rather than an individual who heads it, and I 
want the funds to be appropriated annually by Congress.
  I can tell you exactly why he wants those provisions, because that is 
the way Congress, at the behest of Wall Street, can step on the airhose 
that supplies the oxygen to CFPB. They can stop the CFPB from 
functioning as a guardian, as a watchdog for consumers in America by 
simply defunding it.
  We have a President who ran on the principle of taking on Wall 
Street, but Mick Mulvaney doesn't want to take on Wall Street. He wants 
to do their bidding, to be able to shut down this agency that is 
finally fighting for financial fairness for working families. Wait. We 
have a President who said he is going to fight for working families. 
Mick Mulvaney should be backing the CFPB. He should be expanding the 
CFPB. He should be championing the CFPB, but, no, he wants to tear it 
down. That is deeply disturbing.
  I see my colleague, the Senator from Hawaii, who is prepared to make 
remarks. I am going to wrap up my remarks.
  There are more concerns that I have about the policy perspectives and 
how out of sync this nominee is with the promises the President made to 
fight for working Americans, the promises he made to take on Wall 
Street, the promises he made to protect Social Security, the promises 
he made to strengthen Medicare, not to tear it down. So for all these 
reasons, I find Mick Mulvaney is not the right person to fill this 
post, and I encourage my colleagues to vote against confirming him in 
this capacity.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado.

                 Orders for Thursday, February 16, 2017

  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that when the 
Senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10 a.m., 
Thursday, February 16; that following the prayer and pledge, the 
morning hour be deemed expired, the Journal of proceedings be approved 
to date, and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use 
later in the day, and morning business be closed; finally, that 
following leader remarks, the Senate proceed to executive session, as 
under the previous order.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Order of Procedure

  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, if there is no further business to come 
before the Senate, I ask unanimous consent that following the remarks 
of Senators Schatz, Whitehouse, and Hirono, the Senate resume morning 
business and then stand adjourned under the previous order.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Hawaii.
  Mr. SCHATZ. Mr. President, the Senate is preparing to vote on 
Congressman Mick Mulvaney to lead the Office of Management and Budget. 
This nomination may seem like it doesn't deserve a lot of attention 
because we don't hear much outside of Washington about the OMB, the 
Office of Management and Budget. It is kind of a wonky, obscure office, 
with fewer than 500 staff members.
  At a time when there are so many looming questions about this 
Republic, about this administration, it is easy to overlook the 
Congressman's nomination, but it actually matters very much, 
particularly at this moment, and that is because the person who 
controls the budget, the person who has the final say on fiscal and 
financial priorities for the administration has immense power. This 
position controls the President's budget, and that means that this 
person can give the green light to programs and policies across the 
Federal Government or stop them in their tracks. And because he has a 
long track record as a legislator, Congressman Mulvaney has already 
shown what kind of decisionmaker he will be if he is in charge of the 
Office of Management and Budget, OMB.

  I will be blunt. His record and his ideas are worrisome. It should 
concern every Senator who is worried about some of the biggest issues 
facing Americans, from Social Security, to public health, to the basic, 
uninterrupted operations of the government itself. So this vote is a 
moment of truth. It will determine where we really stand on the issues 
that shape both individual lives and our country's future.
  Let me highlight just four issues to show why this person is the 
wrong person to run OMB.
  The first is Social Security. More than 80 years ago, President 
Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. In doing so, he 
created a national plan to provide economic security for American 
workers. Since then, Social Security has proven to be the most 
successful anti-poverty program in our history. Each year, it lifts 
more than 20 million Americans, including 1 million children, out of 
  It is hard to imagine a world without Social Security, but I want 
everybody to understand that pre-Social Security, we had tens of 
millions of Americans--more than we do now--who would be in poverty 
upon retirement. So this program has actually reduced poverty among the 
elderly more than any other program could possibly have accomplished.
  Nowhere is Social Security more important than in Hawaii. More than 
200,000 people receive Social Security benefits. For more than one in 
four Hawaii seniors, Social Security is their only source of income. 
And the money just isn't enough; it is about $14,000 a year. Just to 
give folks an understanding of Hawaii, we are considered the second or 
third most expensive housing market in the United States. We are after 
New York and sometimes in second place or third place, depending on 
where San Francisco is, but we are one of the most expensive places to 
live in the United States. For one in four Social Security recipients, 
that is all they get--$1,200 a month. Usually that will cover your 
apartment. That will not cover your electricity, it won't cover your 
utilities, it won't cover your food or clothing, and it won't cover 
your healthcare.
  Today, most working households have little or no retirement assets at 
all, and many rely entirely on Social Security. This is partly because 
employer-provided pensions are becoming a thing of the past. So Social 
Security is more important than ever. It has become a pillar of our 
retirement system

[[Page S1211]]

that continues to work well. It is a universal guaranteed source of 
income that workers earn and depend on when they retire, but it is just 
not enough.
  I will just add that it is only in Washington, DC, where entertaining 
the idea of cutting Social Security is considered moderate or 
mainstream or conservative, even, or adult. I mean, there is this sense 
that the way we ought to fix the challenges we have fiscally as a 
country is to take it out of the hides of people who get $1,200 a month 
to live.
  Instead of strengthening the program, Mr. Mulvaney's ideas are very 
radical. He has said he wants to systematically alter Social Security 
by raising the retirement age to 70 years old. He wants to raise the 
retirement age to 70 years old. This is not an obscure person being 
appointed to an obscure post; this is a Member of Congress being 
appointed to be the head of the Office of Management and Budget. We are 
going to vote on him tomorrow, and everybody who says they are for 
Social Security is about to vote for a person who wants to raise the 
Social Security retirement age to 70 years old.
  He has called Social Security a Ponzi scheme. When he worked in the 
South Carolina State Senate, he voted to declare Social Security 
unconstitutional. Again, he voted to declare Social Security 
unconstitutional, and I predict he will get all of the Republican 
votes. And all of these folks who say they wanted to protect your 
Social Security, after they put Tom Price at the head of HHS, they are 
about to put someone who is dedicated to undermining the most 
successful anti-poverty program in American history.
  When asked in his confirmation hearing--because, look, you are a 
Member of Congress; you represent a certain constituency; you have 
certain views. Some people are able to sort of pivot from their role as 
a legislator, as a politician, and into a role as an appointee, a 
Secretary, a nominee. So when he was asked in this confirmation hearing 
if he would recommend that the President break a campaign promise to 
leave Social Security alone, the Congressman said that he would 
recommend that the President make cuts to the program. So this isn't 
something he has recanted; this is something he stands by--up until and 
including through his confirmation and his service at OMB.
  But why make cuts to the most successful anti-poverty program in 
American history? Why would we make cuts to a program that is financed 
by its own revenue stream and by law does not add $1 to the deficit? 
Why would we cut benefits now just because we may have to cut them in 
20 years? If we are going to change Social Security, let's do it in a 
way that expands benefits for generations to come. Let's lift the cap 
on taxable earnings. Let's remove the wage cap that unfairly shelters 
the highest earning Americans from paying into the Social Security 
trust fund that the majority of hard-working Americans do.
  Here is how it works. The cap is roughly $120,000. So you pay Social 
Security--almost everybody pays Social Security tax, up to $120,000 in 
income. That is mostly everybody, right. But if you make $120,000, all 
of that is taxed up to $120,000. If you make $70,000, it is taxed up to 
$70,000. If you make $120 million in income, your first $120,000 is 
taxed for Social Security purposes; everything else is taxed at zero 
for Social Security purposes.

  My view is that every dollar of income should be taxed for Social 
Security purposes, and that does two things: First, we are going to be 
in a position to increase benefits--not massively, but every little bit 
counts. Second, we will be able to increase the solvency of the Social 
Security trust fund to the year 2049.
  Most every family has a Social Security story, whether it is a 
grandmother who relies on the program's benefits to pay for groceries, 
a father who suffered a debilitating injury after decades of hard work 
and receives much needed Social Security disability benefits, or a 
widowed mother who relies on Social Security survivors benefits to 
bring up her children.
  In my own home, we have three generations living together--my wife 
Linda and me; our kids, Tyler and Mia; and Linda's parents, George and 
Ping Kwok. George Kwok lived the American dream. He ran a chop suey 
house, a Chinese restaurant in Honolulu, Kwok's Chop Suey, and worked 
hard all his life to give opportunities to his kids, until his eyes 
gave out. Like 200,000 seniors across Hawaii, he now relies on Social 
Security--SSDI--Social Security disability.
  I tell you about my family not because we are unique but because we 
are not, because we are like so many families in Hawaii and across the 
country. And with the number of retirees growing, we need to do 
everything we can to strengthen this program, not to weaken it.
  After a lifetime of hard work, seniors deserve to retire with the 
dignity and the benefits they have earned. This is a promise from the 
Federal Government. The current generation of Americans must keep our 
promises to seniors, but given his record, I am convinced that 
Congressman Mulvaney will try to do the opposite.
  The second issue I am concerned about is the basic operations of 
government. Whether you are a member of the military, a visitor to a 
national park, or a worker looking to retire in the near future, we all 
need for the government to fulfill its basic obligations. But 
Congressman Mulvaney voted to default on the U.S. debt several times, 
and he did it in the face of warnings from the U.S. Treasury that this 
would be unprecedented and catastrophic for our economy and that it 
could drive the world deep into another recession just as we were 
finally recovering from the last one.
  Think about how markets would react if the U.S. Government declared 
that it would not make good on its financial obligations. The stock 
markets would go crazy, and not in a good way. That would be terrible 
for the millions of people who invest their savings in the market for 
their retirement.
  The Congressman has also voted several times to shut down the Federal 
Government, all in the name of getting his way. I cannot emphasize 
enough how dangerous his approach to government is. It is one thing as 
a Member of the House Freedom Caucus, as a Member of the U.S. House of 
Representatives--there are 435; you can take positions--but it doesn't 
have quite the direct impact that the Office of Management and Budget 
does. He has put party and partisan views over some of the most 
fundamental and basic principles of our government. To close the 
government, to stop paying our bills, to make people across the planet 
question the full faith and credit of the United States is beyond 
  It should take a real crisis to pull Congress away from the 
negotiating table and all the challenges in front of us. But it 
actually wasn't a crisis that led the Congressman to vote to close our 
government; it was Planned Parenthood and the ACA. While we may 
disagree about the best approach on healthcare and even on reproductive 
choice and women's health, those disagreements should never get in the 
way of the U.S. Government going about its business. Yet Congressman 
Mulvaney's actions went against that basic principle.
  With respect to our Democratic institutions, the procedural violence 
that was done to the U.S. Congress is hard to overstate in this case. 
The idea that a faction of a party would demand concessions--and I 
think we remember this--would demand concessions in exchange for 
satisfying their infliction of pain on the United States is 
unbelievable. And why? Because we are all Americans here. We all want 
to do right by our country. So the idea that one party would be willing 
to inflict terrible pain on the country, or else, was so beyond the 
pale that there is no rule against it, there is no law against it. And 
do you know why there is no rule and no law against it? It is because 
nobody contemplated that a major political party would behave in such a 
way. The assumption has always been that elected leaders would find a 
better way to stand up for their strongly held beliefs than by 
threatening to bring the American economy to its knees. Up until the 
shutdown led by the Congressman, that had been a safe assumption.
  In 2011, Congress's delay in raising the debt limit forced the 
Department of Treasury to take what they call extraordinary measures to 
ensure that our government could pay its bills.

[[Page S1212]]

GAO estimates that this raised Treasury's borrowing costs by about $1.3 
billion in fiscal year 2011. That is $1.3 billion in added government 
costs just for coming close to defaulting. The Bipartisan Policy Center 
projects that the full cost of that crisis to the Federal Government 
alone--not to the private sector economy, just the Federal Government--
was around $20 billion over the maturity of that debt.
  There is nothing conservative about defaulting on what we owe. It 
cripples free markets. It is Russian roulette playing, with a bullet in 
every chamber. There is nothing conservative about that.
  When the government closed in 2013, we paid Federal workers to stay 
home. I want everybody to understand what we ended up doing. Listen, it 
wasn't their fault. These government employees are not the ones who 
screwed up; it was the Congress that screwed up. We paid dedicated 
Federal workers who want to do their jobs, not to do their jobs. We 
forced them to stay home and paid them anyway. I defy you to find a 
conservative outside of the Halls of Congress who finds that to be a 
conservative proposition. It is one thing to shut down the government 
for a couple of weeks and accrue the savings. I think that is inhumane, 
I think that is bananas, but at least you would save the money. These 
folks ended up paying all the money out and just forcing government 
workers to not do their jobs. This is not the left or right; this is 
upside down. We prevented Federal workers from doing their important 
work, like assisting small businesses and combating terrorism.
  Ultimately, the 2013 shutdown was a bad move for our economy and for 
our budget. It cost us money instead of saving us money. In just the 
first week, it cost the economy $1.6 billion in lost economic output, 
and it cost about $160 million a day on the private sector side.
  Worst of all, the Congressman has not seen the error of this. There 
were a lot of Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who--in 
the heat of the battle, you sort of think the other side is going to 
back off and listen. We all learn lessons. We all make mistakes. There 
are a lot of Republicans who went through that shutdown and said: We 
never want to do that to the country again. But Congressman Mulvaney 
has not seen the error of his ways. He still believes the government 
shutdown was a good idea, and he said so at the confirmation hearing.
  Senator McCaskill asked if he still thought the shutdown was the 
right way to go about things, and he answered yes. He answered yes. 
This kind of budget brinkmanship is not good for our government, to say 
the least, but it is certainly a bad fit for the person running the 
  The third issue I want to talk about is the Congressman's rejection 
of the role of public health and science. If we look at some of the 
biggest issues our country faces, it is clear that we need an OMB 
Director who understands the value of science, research, and public 
health. But the Congressman has said that climate change is based on 
``questionable science'' and ``baseless claims.'' He has asked if we 
need government-funded research at all. These are not the views we 
should see from the person who directs the budget of the executive 
  In September of last year, Congressman Mulvaney posted a statement 
about Zika on Facebook. He said:

       I have received all sorts of email and Facebook comments 
     this week on Zika. Some people want me to pass a ``clean'' 
     bill (which I suppose means not paying for it with spending 
     reductions elsewhere.) Other folks want us to fund more 
     research if we can find a way to pay for it.
       No one has written me yet, though, to ask what might be the 
     best question: Do we really need government research at all? 
     Do we really need government funded research at all?

  In his statement, he goes on to ask questions that many have asked 
about what we are seeing in Brazil, as opposed to other countries 
affected by Zika. But that is exactly why you do the research. It is 
not for a Member of Congress to referee how much money should go to CDC 
and play amateur scientist. We have expert agencies. The CDC did an 
extraordinary job, not just on Zika but on Ebola. They have done 
extraordinary work over the decades in keeping people safe. If he is 
saying there are some scientific mysteries remaining around Zika, that 
is absolutely true. That is why we need to give the CDC and the 
National Institutes of Health money to try to figure this out. Those 
questions are the very reasons we need government-funded research, not 
an excuse to get rid of it.
  I want to be clear as to why this matters so much. I am not trying to 
catch him saying something that is a little off. There is a 
foundational, bipartisan consensus around public health research, and 
the person who has been nominated to run the Federal budget doesn't 
appear to believe in that research. This isn't just out of the 
political mainstream. People will die if he implements his point of 
  Look at some of the diseases where government-funded research has had 
a significant impact on saving lives: Ebola, HIV/AIDS, malaria, polio, 
to name a few. We have made the advances we see today because the 
government stepped in and invested in the research, and that has to 
  Right around the time we debated funding for Zika, I visited the 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, in Atlanta to learn 
more about their efforts to combat Zika, dengue, and other diseases. I 
left Atlanta feeling totally confident that the CDC will help our 
country with challenges like Zika. Millions of Americans are counting 
on the government to maintain that confidence. But that can happen only 
if CDC has the strongest funding possible so they can continue to do 
their good work.
  Taking money away from the Prevention and Public Health Fund would 
strip the CDC and other important agencies of the funds they need to 
protect our country from within and from without. That is what happened 
in Congress. The legislative branch did not fully step up to the plate 
and do its job in addressing Zika. Because of that, we forced the Obama 
administration to pull money from the CDC to address Ebola or from 
States to address other public health risks. Doing so disrupted public 
health infrastructure planning across the world that we still need to 
make sure that Ebola never ravages communities again.
  Regardless of your side of the aisle, we can all agree this is the 
one thing that government has to do; that is, to keep us physically 
safe. Investing in CDC and other agencies that protect our citizens 
from diseases shouldn't depend on your philosophy of government. Unless 
you believe in, literally, no government, this is money well spent. 
This is the kind of thing the government does. We cannot walk away from 
our country's legacy of funding good research that saves lives, but 
that is exactly what Congressman Mulvaney suggests we do.
  He has also made deeply disturbing comments about the science behind 
climate change. There can be no doubt that climate change is real, that 
it is caused by humans, and that we have a responsibility to take 
action. We ignore the science that shows us this at our own risk, and 
it is a risk our country cannot take.
  The fourth and final issue I want to touch upon is healthcare--
specifically, Medicare and Medicaid. I am a little worried that people 
feel reassured because of the rhetoric they heard last year from the 
President. He did reassure his voters that he was going to save 
Medicare and Medicaid and protect it from cuts. He promised several 
times that he wouldn't make any cuts whatsoever to Medicare and 
Medicaid. But when a Senator reminded Congressman Mulvaney about this 
during his confirmation hearing, he did not say he would support the 
administration's promises to the American people. He said that he would 
advise the President to break that promise. He said that he would 
advise President Trump to break his campaign promise and change 
Medicare and Medicaid. Why are we voting for this person? He said that 
he would advise the President to break the promise and change Medicare, 
Medicaid, and Social Security.
  He wants to cut Medicaid--a program that millions of people rely 
upon. More than 50 years ago, when Medicaid was created, Congress made 
a really smart decision and designed the program so that if and when 
healthcare costs rise or the economy starts to struggle, Medicaid would 
be there for the American people, no matter what. Now the counselor to 
the President says that as part of the ACA replacement plan, Medicaid 
will be converted to block grants.

[[Page S1213]]

  I worry a little bit about the phrasing ``block grants'' because that 
doesn't sound that bad. I used to work in the not-for-profit sector. I 
like grants, and I used to pursue Community Development Block Grants, 
Community Services Block Grants. I like grants; I like Medicaid. I am 
not sure whether ``block'' means anything positively or negatively, but 
I want everybody to understand what block-granting Medicaid means: It 
means cutting Medicaid. That is exactly what it means. It is a 
euphemism. People in this administration and people nominated to be 
part of this administration share that view, and they have a long 
history to back it up.
  The term ``block grants'' is a euphemism. It is not quite a lie, but 
it is a way to describe something so that you don't know what it is. 
They are calling it a block grant because they don't want to say they 
are cutting Medicaid. That is what they are doing; they are going to 
cut Medicaid, and these cuts will hurt millions of people. They will 
hurt working families.
  Everybody understands Medicaid is there for the economically 
indigent, in the case of an emergency. But the thing that people also 
don't realize--and that is a really important aspect of that program--
but it is also really important for nursing home care. That is not just 
an issue for people who are down on their luck financially or while 
they are young or while they are parents. When people get older, it is 
really difficult to afford nursing home care. For most people who are 
not extraordinarily wealthy, Medicaid is the way to handle nursing home 
care. It is reimbursable.
  I know that nursing home care in Hawaii costs $8,000, $9,000 a month. 
I don't know anybody who can run through $8,000, $9,000 a month for 
very long. I know a couple of people, but most people I know can't do 
that without Medicaid. Certainly, Medicaid is an issue that affects the 
very poor, but it also affects the rest of us. It affects people who 
aren't just lying on a pile of cash to take care of their grandmother 
or their mother or their father or their spouse when they are in their 
golden years.
  These cuts will hurt women who need Medicaid for maternal health 
services, as well as seniors and people with disabilities. These people 
have nowhere else to turn. Medicaid is their only option.
  Some people point to expanded local control as a reason to move 
forward with block grants. That is just nonsense. They are basically 
going to flatten out or cut the amount a State gets, and then they can 
sit there and divide up an increasingly smaller pie. I am not sure if 
that is even a euphemism. That is just nonsense. That will not help any 
State to meet their needs. That is why Republican Governors--anybody 
with responsibility for actually governing, delivering services to 
their constituents--don't want to cut Medicaid. They don't want to 
reduce Medicaid expansion under ACA, and they certainly don't want a 
block grant because they know what that will mean. Even if you are a 
fiscal conservative, if you are in charge of a State, you understand 
exactly what is going to happen to your constituents if Medicaid is 
  This is another instance of a party that promised not to touch 
Medicaid. But here we are, debating a nominee to lead the OMB who wants 
to make cuts to this program. This is a deal breaker for me and for 
many others, and it will be a disaster for millions of Americans. That 
is why today we have to stand up for seniors, for women, for children 
and fight any cuts to Medicaid. That starts with voting no on this 
  I have heard about Congressman Mulvaney from hundreds of people from 
the State of Hawaii. I want to share a few of the messages that I have 
received from people in Hawaii.
  Here is what one man from Oahu wrote:

       As a researching scientist, I recognize the very 
     significant damage these appointees will have on US health 
     and competitiveness in the world.
       A break in research funding, or politically-directed and 
     censored research, impacts long term research. A brief hiatus 
     can result in many years set-back of programs and resulting 
     societal benefits.

  A woman from Volcano Village on the Big Island sent me this message:

       [This administration's] agenda lies in [the] nominees for 
     the department of Health and Human Services and the Office of 
     Management and Budget who have spent their congressional 
     careers trying to destroy [Social Security, Medicare, and 

  Another woman wrote me with this:

       [The] nominees for HHS and OMB are walking disasters for 
     the department they'd lead.
       Both have spent their congressional careers trying to 
     destroy [Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid]. Oh, yes, 
     and the ACA/Obamacare, which has proven to be resoundingly 

  We are hearing from so many people on these issues because they 
understand how this works. They understand that personnel is policy. 
You don't get to say you are for protecting Social Security, and then 
vote for someone who wants to eliminate Social Security as we know it. 
You don't get to say you are for protecting Medicare and Medicaid, and 
then vote for someone who has dedicated their career to eliminating or 
at least seriously undermining this program.
  If you want to increase the Social Security retirement age, then this 
is your nominee. If you aren't opposed to seeing our country go through 
a series of precipices with the shutdown of the Federal Government--
from the huge drops in the market to the closing of our National 
Parks--then this is your nominee. If you think Federal investments in 
public health, disease control, and prevention should be eliminated, 
then this is your nominee. If you want to see cuts to Medicare and 
Medicaid by 25 percent or more, then vote yes.
  But if, like me, you know that this is not the right approach to 
governing, that this is not how we should go about caring for our 
people and preparing for the future, then you need to vote no.
  At the end of the day, the leader of the Office of Management and 
Budget will need to understand how to build a budget for our country 
and make sure U.S. Government agencies have the resources they need to 
pursue the mission. This person will need to understand why diplomacy 
matters, why Medicare and Medicaid matter, why job training and 
education programs matter, and why financial and fiscal stability 
matters. Ultimately, he needs to know that government matters and that 
it can make a difference in people's lives. It determines how bright 
tomorrow can be for our kids and grandkids and how safe of a world we 
can create for them.
  Congressman Mulvaney does not have that record or a confirmation 
hearing record that can convince any of us that he understands the 
potential we all have--the obligation we have--to make the right 
investments that reflect who we are and the future that we want as a 
country. That is why I will be voting no on this confirmation, and I 
urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gardner). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, the Director of the Office of Management 
and Budget, or OMB, is probably the most powerful Federal job that most 
Americans have never heard of. If you were to ask five out of five 
regular people whether they have even heard of the Office of Management 
and Budget, or its importance, I would say that probably five of them 
would say: I have never heard of it; what do they do?
  The Director of OMB has broad discretion to develop Federal 
regulations and to set spending priorities across the government--
spending priorities across the government. I think we should make sure 
that this person actually cares about service to the people of America.
  For example, if the Defense Department needs more resources for our 
troops, OMB has to sign off. If the Environmental Protection Agency 
wants to protect our communities from air and water pollution, OMB has 
to sign off. If the President wants to cut Social Security, Medicare, 
and Medicaid under the guise of ``saving money,'' the OMB Director is 
responsible for implementing the policy.
  Given the tremendous power invested in this position, the next OMB 
Director should, at a minimum, believe in the

[[Page S1214]]

central government functions he or she will be tasked to carry out. 
That is why I strongly oppose the nomination of Congressman Mike 
Mulvaney to serve as the next Director of the Office of Management and 
  Congressman Mulvaney came to Washington at the very right fringe of 
the tea party wave in 2010. Since then, he has consistently pursued 
policies that would be disastrous for our economy, for the most 
vulnerable members of our society, and for America's seniors--our 
  Congressman Mulvaney has been one of the strongest proponents for 
privatizing and voucherizing Medicare and dismantling Medicaid during 
his time in Congress. In 2011, while explaining his support for the 
draconian, really terrible Republican budget that would have destroyed 
the social safety net and gutted funding for nearly every domestic 
program--nearly every domestic program and you can imagine the 
thousands and thousands of domestic programs people across the country 
are relying upon--Congressman Mulvaney said:

       Two nights ago, there was a group of Republicans in the 
     House of Representatives who voted to dramatically overhaul 
     Medicare and Medicaid and lightning did not strike us. If 
     that is not a sign that maybe things can be different around 
     here, I don't know what is. So I'm hoping that--I hope we 
     have that exact debate over the course of the next year.

  Let me be clear. Congressman Mulvaney was gloating over a bill that 
would be devastating to millions of seniors and Americans on Medicaid 
and Medicare. If confirmed, Congressman Mulvaney would not just be one 
extremist in the House of Representatives; he would be the person--the 
one person--responsible for developing, rolling out, and implementing 
the President's budget and his priorities.
  With this power, he would be in a position to fulfill his heart's 
desire--all of the things he worked on as a member of the tea party and 
a Member of the House of Representatives. He could destroy programs 
like Medicare and Social Security, which more than 200,000 seniors in 
Hawaii and tens of millions across the United States depend on every 
single day. There are things we can do to fight back.
  Last month, I fought alongside my friend and colleague from Indiana, 
Senator Joe Donnelly, to prevent Congressman Mulvaney and the Trump 
administration from using budget gimmicks to privatize Medicare and cut 
funding from Medicaid. While our amendment was defeated in a very close 
vote, I was encouraged that two of our Republican colleagues--Senator 
Dean Heller of Nevada and Senator Susan Collins of Maine--voted in 
favor of my amendment.
  This vote demonstrated that there is bipartisan opposition to 
balancing the budget on the backs of our seniors. This is exactly what 
Congressman Mulvaney wants to do. He has called Social Security a Ponzi 
scheme. Ponzi schemes are illegal, but he calls Social Security--a 
program that millions and millions of people throughout our country 
rely upon--a Ponzi scheme and supports raising the eligibility for it 
to 70 years old.
  When he was in the South Carolina legislature, he even supported a 
bill that said that Social Security was unconstitutional. I would say 
even the most conservative person would not deem Social Security to be 
unconstitutional, but that is the kind of position that Congressman 
Mulvaney takes. His positions on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social 
Security are enough to disqualify him from serving as OMB Director.
  We do not need an ideological flamethrower like Congressman Mulvaney 
at the helm of OMB. Sadly, there is more. Congressman Mulvaney is a 
debt limit denier. To demonstrate the point, I wish to read his 
response to a question he received from the Budget Committee:

       I do believe that defaulting on America's debts would have 
     grave worldwide economic consequences. I do not believe that 
     breaching the debt ceiling will automatically or inevitably 
     lead to that result.

  Not only is this statement wrong, but it contradicts itself. I was in 
the House in 2011 when Congressman Mulvaney and his colleagues played 
political games with the debt limit. I can tell you that the stock 
market did not agree with his assessment that there wouldn't be an 
immediate negative impact.
  Here is what happened over the course of a week. The stock market 
lost $1 trillion in value--$1 trillion in value. Standard & Poor's 
downgraded the U.S. credit for the first time in our country's history.
  The Government Accountability Office later found that the standoff 
increased our borrowing costs by $1.3 billion, which Congressman 
Mulvaney and his Republican allies were all too happy to pass along to 
the American taxpayers to pay.
  Congressman Mulvaney's record clearly demonstrates why he is unfit to 
serve as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He wants 
to balance the budget on the backs of seniors and other vulnerable 
communities. He believes in governing from fiscal crisis to fiscal 
crisis. It isn't even clear if he supports the mission of the 
department he has been nominated to lead.
  Congressman Mulvaney joins a list of nominees--many of them confirmed 
at this point, sadly--ranging from an Education Secretary who does not 
believe in public education to a Secretary of Health and Human Services 
who wants to basically dismantle Medicare, Medicaid, and Social 
Security not far behind.
  I ask my colleagues, when does this long list of nominees come to a 
stop? I say, at the very least, someone with the power of the Director 
of OMB is where we should be drawing the line, unless we want one who 
thinks that defaulting on our national debt is not a problem, unless we 
think that hurting millions and millions of seniors on Social Security 
and Medicare is not a problem.
  I feel as though Congressman Mulvaney perhaps has not encountered 
enough people in his time in public service who have come to him to 
share their stories of the devastation that would come into their lives 
if these safety net programs were not there for them. I feel as though 
maybe if they have come to talk to him, he hasn't listened very well.
  I encourage my colleagues to hold the line at this point and to 
oppose this nomination. Congressman Mulvaney is not the person for OMB.
  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. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, we are considering the nomination of 
Congressman Mulvaney to become the Director of the Office of Management 
and Budget. In the context of the review of this nomination, there has 
been a lot of talk about Congressman Mulvaney being a ``straight 
shooter.'' I do appreciate his courtesy meeting with me and his 
participation in our Budget Committee confirmation hearing last month, 
but I have to say that his 6-year record in the House of 
Representatives makes it completely impossible for me to vote for him 
as our Nation's chief budget officer.
  He may be a straight shooter, but he shoots straight at the wrong 
targets. One of them is the credit of the United States of America. In 
the House of Representatives, Congressman Mulvaney repeatedly put our 
economy in jeopardy by voting to let the Federal Government default on 
its obligations. He had an opportunity after his nomination, when he 
came before the Budget Committee, to pivot to a more mainstream and 
responsible position, but he refused. In an answer to a prehearing 
question he said:

       I do believe that defaulting on America's debts would have 
     great worldwide consequences. I do not believe that breaching 
     the debt ceiling will automatically or inevitably lead to 
     that result.

  Well, if you breach the debt ceiling, and if you honor the debt 
ceiling law, that means that our government would not have the money to 
pay all of its bills. Something has to be defaulted on or the debt 
ceiling is a complete chimera.
  Mr. Mulvaney's completely unsupported faith that a default on some of 
our Nation's obligations might not have grave consequences ignores 
basic economics, and it ignores the guidance

[[Page S1215]]

of liberal and conservative economists and experts alike, including 
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Benjamin Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Janet Yellen, 
Jack Lew, and many, many others.
  In fact, many of my Republican colleagues in this room were gravely 
concerned about what happened if we blew through the debt ceiling, and 
that we perhaps had made a bet we would be unable to pay. To put it 
simply, lenders tend to charge more for riskier loans, and a borrower 
that won't pay all of its bills on time is riskier than one that does.
  Tom Donahue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not someone that I 
ordinarily cite favorably here in the Senate. He is an inveterate enemy 
on doing anything on climate change. He and I disagree on a great 
number of issues, but even Tom Donahue noted that a small increase in 
treasury rates, which would happen as the result of a default, ``would 
translate into hundreds of thousands of jobs lost every year.''
  A member of the self-styled ``shutdown caucus,'' Mr. Mulvaney chooses 
to ignore the fact that his fiscal brinkmanship has already cost the 
American people. Playing around with the debt ceiling and shutting down 
the government are not free exercises. According to the Wall Street 
firm Standard and Poor's, the 16-day government shutdown that the 
Congressman helped orchestrate in 2013 cost the American economy $24 
billion. That is shooting straight at our economy just to prove a 
political point. That is not the kind of straight shooter that we need. 
Of course, that doesn't even mention the unnecessary stress that the 
shutdown caused for millions of government contractors who weren't sure 
they would be paid. There is pain and there is damage from the reckless 
decisions that Congressman Mulvaney seems to make so easily.
  Congressman Mulvaney's blind faith is not limited to economics. He 
disregards science too. In response to questions I asked him at the 
hearing, he said he is not convinced by the evidence presented that 
climate change is at least partly driven by human activity. Well, he 
ought to take a little look at what is going on at his home State 
university, the University of South Carolina, which has the School of 
the Earth, Ocean, and Environment. It actually teaches climate change. 
The University of South Carolina doesn't just believe climate change; 
it teaches it. It has a faculty who are involved in teaching the 
students about what is happening in our atmosphere and in our oceans as 
a result of climate change.
  This is not all that complicated stuff. We have known since President 
Lincoln was riding around Washington in his top hat that greenhouse 
gases in the atmosphere would catch heat in the atmosphere and would 
warm the Earth. That was a scientist named Tyndall. This is not news; 
this is 150 years old. It is simple, elemental chemistry, what happens 
when you ramp up the level of CO2 in the atmosphere and how 
that works in the oceans. The CO2 gets absorbed by the 
oceans. The oceans, as a result of absorbing CO2, become 
more acidic. What we are seeing now is the acidification of the ocean 
in the experience of humankind--indeed, in probably like 100 times the 
experience of humankind. You have to go back 50 years to find a similar 
rate of acidification of the ocean.
  Well, Mr. Mulvaney represents South Carolina. South Carolina is a 
coastal State. It is an ocean State. The University of South Carolina 
studies its oceans. They know ocean acidification is happening. When 
the Congressman says that he is not convinced by the evidence 
presented, something other than being a straight shooter is going on.
  According to NASA, for instance, the National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration--which, by the way, right now is driving a rover around 
on the surface of the planet Mars. So can we perhaps stipulate that the 
scientists at NASA know what they are talking about? No other country 
in the world, no other society in human history has had the capacity to 
launch from Earth a rover, fly it through space to Mars, land it safely 
on that other planet, and drive it around. We can do that. NASA 
scientists did that. So when NASA scientists say that ``multiple 
studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 
percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree 
climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due 
to human activity''--so essentially all the experts agree.
  His home State university, the University of South Carolina, teaches 
this. They don't just listen to it, they teach it. They understand what 
is going on. But Mulvaney says he is not convinced. What is it going to 
take to convince him? How can you be a straight shooter when you ignore 
this kind of certainty in science, particularly when around this 
building you see the circling menace of the fossil fuel industry always 
with its guns out, always trying to shoot down anybody who will 
disagree with them, always trying to pretend that climate change isn't 
real, always trying to defend a $700 billion-a-year subsidy that they 
get at the expense of the rest of America? And because, thanks to 
Citizens United, they have the capacity to spend enormous, unlimited 
amounts of money in politics, they can spend a great deal to protect 
that $700 billion in subsidies, and they do.
  So we do nothing about climate change here. You can't get a 
Republican to talk seriously about climate change here. The oceans are 
changing off of their States, and they won't talk about climate change 
here. Their universities are saying that climate change is real. Their 
universities are teaching that climate change is real. And they won't 
say one thing about climate change here. And this so-called straight 
shooter is going to go along with that racket rather than listen to his 
home State universities and to the scientists at NASA, who have put the 
rover on Mars? Give me a break.
  While this man claims to be a deficit hawk, I asked him if he was 
ready to take on the hundreds of billions of dollars that go out the 
back door of our economy in tax breaks, in wasteful tax loopholes, in 
tax benefits for special interests, and he wouldn't give me a straight 
answer to the question.
  From his record in the House, it appears pretty clear that Mr. 
Mulvaney would rather balance the budget by going after seniors, by 
going after Social Security, by going after Medicare, by going after 
the families who have children on Medicaid because their children have 
lifetime disabilities that require Medicaid support. Those are the 
targets. That is who this so-called straight shooter wants to shoot at. 
But as for, say, the tax benefit that lets billionaires depreciate 
their private jets faster than the airline can, oh, no, can't touch 
that. As for the tax loophole that lets carried interest Wall Street 
billionaires pay lower tax rates than their doormen, than their 
janitors, oh, no, can't possibly touch that. As for the subsidies we 
give through the Tax Code to the fossil fuel industry every year when 
they are the most lucrative corporations in the history of the planet, 
oh, no, we can't possibly do that. Let's go after the old folks. That 
is not being a straight shooter; that is shooting at the wrong people.
  Someone who is a straight shooter when it happens to agree with the 
politics that they like but is a flatout denier when it doesn't, that 
is not my idea of a straight shooter.
  Congressman Mulvaney is possessed by conservative ideology that I 
strongly believe is going to prevent him ever from working across party 
lines on the budget, on health care, or on other major issues that he 
will have to face at OMB. His counsel is likely to pull President Trump 
further out to the extremes, which already divide this country.
  And by the way, to all of those voters who voted for President Trump 
because he said that he was different from all the other Republican 
candidates; that he was different from the other 15 candidates because 
he wasn't going to hurt Social Security and he wasn't going to hurt 
Medicare; that he was different from all the others because he was 
going to protect Social Security and he was going to protect Medicare--
folks, I think you were sold a bill of goods because when you look at 
Congressman Price and when you look at Congressman Mulvaney and when 
you look at their records, you see the records of people who have 
targeted Social Security and targeted Medicare for years. They may be 
straight shooters, but they have Social Security and Medicare in the 
crosshairs. Those are not the right targets for us to be shooting

[[Page S1216]]

at in a tax system that is riddled with special interest loopholes and 
in a country that is so divided and where the poor and the elderly are 
struggling compared to the people who are at the very top, who have 
basically gathered all of the economic benefit of our growth since the 
great recession.
  So, for all of those reasons, I will be completely unable to support 
this person's confirmation. I am sorry because I would like to have 
seen the President make the slightest gesture in the direction of 
bipartisanship, the slightest gesture in the direction of compromise, 
the slightest gesture in the direction of reasonableness, but out of 
this White House, on the civilian Cabinet, we have seen nothing like 
  It is a Cabinet that is completely controlled by rightwing ideology 
and appalling special interests. Usually, the special interests are the 
most dangerous and worst special interests that the agency has to 
regulate. Instead of accepting that as the agency's responsibility, he 
has brought that special interest in, brought the fox into the 
henhouse. If there was ever a fox in the OMB henhouse to take our 
Social Security folks and our Medicare folks and hurt them, it is this 
  I cannot accept his nomination. I will vote against it.
  I yield the floor.