EXECUTIVE SESSION
(Senate - May 11, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 82 (Thursday, May 11, 2017)]
[Pages S2894-S2906]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the 
Lighthizer nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Robert 
Lighthizer, of Florida, to be United States Trade Representative, with 
the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.


                             Cloture Motion

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Pursuant to rule XXII, the Chair 
lays before the Senate the pending cloture motion, which the clerk will 
state.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination 
     of Robert Lighthizer, of Florida, to be United States Trade 
     Representative, with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and 
     Plenipotentiary.
         Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Mike Rounds, Orrin G. 
           Hatch, Thom Tillis, Steve Daines, Mike Crapo, Pat 
           Roberts, Thad Cochran, Luther Strange, John Thune, 
           Richard C. Shelby, John Hoeven, John Boozman, Rob 
           Portman, Jerry Moran, David Perdue.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. By unanimous consent, the mandatory 
quorum call has been waived.
  The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate that debate on the 
nomination of Robert Lighthizer, of Florida, to be United States Trade 
Representative, with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and 
Plenipotentiary, shall be brought to a close?
  The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from West Virginia (Mrs. Capito), the Senator from Alaska (Ms. 
Murkowski), and the Senator from Alaska (Mr. Sullivan).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from West Virginia (Mrs. 
Capito) would have voted ``yea'' and the Senator from Alaska (Ms. 
Murkowski) would have voted ``yea.''
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Missouri (Mrs. 
McCaskill) is necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sasse). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 81, nays 15, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 126 Ex.]

                                YEAS--81

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

                                NAYS--15

     Blumenthal
     Gillibrand
     Harris
     Heinrich
     Markey
     McCain
     Merkley
     Reed
     Sanders
     Sasse
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Udall
     Warren
     Whitehouse

                             NOT VOTING--4

     Capito
     McCaskill
     Murkowski
     Sullivan
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 81, the nays are 
15.
  The motion is agreed to.
  The Senator from Wyoming.


                  Congressional Review Act Resolutions

  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, over the past few months, Congress has 
passed 14 different resolutions that are going to save the American 
people money and are going to make it a lot easier for our economy to 
grow. There have been 14 times since February that we have struck down 
unnecessary, burdensome, and costly regulations.
  These were called ``midnight regulations'' because they came at the 
end of the Obama administration. Some came out, actually, after the 
Presidential election had been completed. The outcome was known, and, 
still, the outgoing administration tried to continue with what 
President Obama's Chief of Staff at one time called ``audacious 
executive actions.'' Half of these 14 regulations--half of them--were 
actually put in place after the November Presidential election.
  When one thinks about the election last year in November, President 
Obama said time and again during the campaign that his agenda was on 
the ballot. The American people rejected that agenda, and the President 
dumped these new rules on the American people as a parting shot. We 
wiped out 14 of these regulations--wiped them off the books.

  In one resolution, we rolled back an important part of President 
Obama's war on coal. That was the so-called stream buffer rule. It was 
designed to shut down a lot of the surface coal mining in this country. 
It would have destroyed up to one-third of coal mining jobs in America. 
So we passed a resolution that will protect coal mining jobs and 
protect American energy independence.
  There was another resolution we passed that restores the role of 
local land managers in deciding how best to use Federal land. Before 
the Obama administration, the local experts were the ones who would 
help decide how Federal land could be used in so many areas around the 
country. These are the people on the ground. They are the ones who know 
best what works there. They are the ones with the best sense of how to 
balance all of the different ways that land can be used. That could be 
things like recreation, energy production, and grazing.
  Well, the Obama administration said it wasn't interested in hearing 
from the local experts anymore. It decided to put the decisions--all of 
those decisions--in the hands of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats 
in Washington, DC. So Congress passed a resolution that says these are 
decisions that affect local communities and those communities should 
have the say--and a significant amount of say--in how decisions get 
made.
  When we look at these 14 resolutions all together, they will save 
Americans over $4 billion and more than 4 million hours of paperwork 
because not only are the regulations expensive, they are burdensome and 
time-consuming.

[[Page S2895]]

  I can tell my colleagues this is just the beginning. These 
resolutions are just one tool that we have to strike down bad 
regulations. There is much more that Congress can do and will do, and 
there is much more that the Trump administration can do.
  The administration has already made it clear that the bureaucrats in 
Washington are not in charge anymore. I plan to make sure the Trump 
administration keeps up the pace and tosses some of the worst 
regulations and rules into the garbage where they belong.
  A good place to start would be for Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the 
Interior, to throw out another rule that makes it more difficult to 
produce American energy. This regulation supposedly tries to reduce how 
much methane gets lost in oil and gas production. There is always some 
unprocessed natural gas that gets released at gas and oil wells. Energy 
producers try to gather up this gas and then ship it to a processing 
plant where, of course, it can be sold. It can be used by customers, 
and taxes are paid on it that go to State and local governments, as 
well as money that is raised by the sales for the companies themselves.
  To do that, the producers need small pipelines. They need these small 
pipelines to collect the unprocessed gas from the wells and to get it 
to the processing plant. Here is the problem: We don't have enough of 
these gathering lines. Without the gathering lines, the only option is 
for that gas to get burned, and that extra natural gas will escape into 
the air.
  So what do the bureaucrats in Washington say? They could have 
addressed the real reason this gas is being lost; that is, the fact 
that they haven't allowed enough of these gathering lines on Federal 
land. Instead, they decided to write a regulation that makes it tougher 
for us to produce American energy here in America. The Obama 
administration blocked the permits to build the gathering lines.
  So this methane rule is a terrible regulation. It is redundant. It is 
unnecessary. I believe it is illegal, and it needs to go. Secretary 
Zinke should wipe the slate clean and get rid of this outrageous rule 
immediately. He should also order the bureaucrats who work for him to 
start approving more of these gas-gathering lines. That is what we 
really need. We need to make energy as clean as we can, as fast as we 
can, and do it in ways that do not raise costs for American families. 
We need to balance thoughtful regulation with a growing economy. We can 
have both.
  The Obama administration absolutely failed to strike the right 
balance. The Trump administration and Congress have a lot more we can 
do to make sure we get the balance right.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.
  Mr. TILLIS. Mr. President, I will be brief. I think the Senator from 
Oklahoma is going to go into some additional details, and the Senator 
from Wyoming did a great job of summarizing some of the positive 
results that have come from our actions. I want to refer to his 
resolutions of disapproval for regulations that we feel were an 
overreach.
  When we went through the 14 votes--we actually had 15, but we were 
not able to succeed in 1 last regulation of disapproval yesterday--
there were arguments put forth against our disapproving these 
regulations. It was as if we were completely deregulating the subject 
matter area that we were focused on, but that was not the case. What we 
were trying to do is eliminate the duplication and the costs associated 
with layering regulations on top of regulations.
  We have a lot of discussion around here about tax reform, and we need 
to do that, but if we look at the regulatory burden on businesses and 
homeowners and State and local governments, there is a smart, right-
size way to implement regulations, and there is a costly, complex, 
wrong way to implement regulations.
  So I am proud we were able to get 14 resolutions of disapproval 
completed. I think they were regulations that were not necessary. They 
are obviously areas that if Congress ever needed to act, we could go 
back and implement regulations, if necessary.
  What we ended up doing through this action over the past couple of 
months with the administration is reduce regulatory burdens by $67 
billion, and we have eliminated some 56 million paperwork hours. We are 
eliminating, we are cutting redtape, and that is a good thing.
  I appreciate all the Members who worked hard on getting this 
together. I particularly appreciate my staff--Bill Bode and Torie Ness 
in particular--who worked hard with the other Senate offices to see 
what kind of support we could get for moving these regulatory 
disapprovals forward. I thank my fellow Members and the administration 
for working with us to fulfill our promise, which is to right-size 
government and get our economy going again.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, first of all, I appreciate the comments 
made by my colleague from North Carolina. It is even more meaningful to 
me because all during the time the regulations were coming on, I 
happened to be the one who was chairing the Environment and Public 
Works Committee, and we knew what was going to happen.
  I am almost speechless when I think about the success. We went 20 
years only taking up 1 CRA, and then we end up passing 14 of them--all 
but 1. That is a huge, successful record. My colleagues understand, 
this gives us the opportunity for people who are answerable to the 
public--people who are elected and have to stand for elections--to have 
a part in what is sometimes considered to be the action of an unelected 
bureaucrat.
  We have had great opportunities here. I think the ``midnight'' 
regulations--a term that is used quite often--so that a party going out 
of office, such as President Obama, being very liberal--a very proud 
liberal, I might add--wanted to get as many of his rules in at the last 
minute. We were able to come in and pass these in the time required. We 
were able to pass 14 of these, in addition to the other regulations and 
other methods of doing regulations, which I want to address a little 
bit. It is just not something that we really anticipated would happen.
  Now, I am particularly proud because mine was the first CRA to be 
passed in 20 years, and that was the very first one that came from what 
President Obama wanted having to do with the oil and gas industry, but 
the fact that nothing passed in that long period of time just shows now 
that people are recognizing that we who stand for election should be 
involved in this process of doing away with these regulations.
  Now, the rule that I brought to the floor, which was the first one 
the President signed--we had a great signing ceremony and I enjoyed it 
very much--was the one that affected the oil and gas industry. It was 
an SEC ruling of the Obama administration that said that if you are a 
domestic producer of oil and gas--of course, that is the private 
sector--you have to release all of the information you are using in 
producing a bid against maybe another country. To use an example, in 
China, it is not in the private sector like it is in the United States. 
Their oil and gas business is in the public sector so they would have a 
distinct advantage. Quite frankly, it is consistent with what the 
previous President--President Obama--was doing in his war on fossil 
fuels. Fossil fuels are coal, oil, and gas, and he was very proud to be 
opposed to coal, oil, and gas, and frankly nuclear too.
  I have often wondered--I go back to Oklahoma virtually every weekend 
that I don't have to be in one of the war zones or someplace like that. 
I go there really for my therapy because they ask questions that make 
sense. We don't get these questions in Washington. One of them I 
remember was in Shattuck, OK. When I was there, somebody said: Explain 
this to me. We have a President who wants to do away with fossil fuels 
and he wants to do away with nuclear energy. Now, we are dependent upon 
fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas, and nuclear energy for 89 percent of 
the power it takes to run this machine called America. If he is 
successful in doing away with it, how do we run this machine called 
America?
  Well, I am proud to say that the war against fossil fuels is over. 
The particular CRA I sponsored came out of the Dodd-Frank Act.
  By the way, overregulation is overregulation. When I talk to people 
back in my State of Oklahoma, if they are in

[[Page S2896]]

the banking business or the financial services business, they are 
concerned about the overregulation that comes from Dodd-Frank. If they 
are farmers, they are concerned about the regulation that would take 
the jurisdiction of regulating our water resources out of the States 
and putting it in the Federal Government. So that is what this is all 
about.
  So I will tell you how serious this was. The CRA that I had was so 
significant that the Federal courts came in, in July of 2013, and said 
that the SEC made several errors in rushing this regulation through. 
They actually vacated the rule. That was a major accomplishment. I was 
very proud that I had the courts on my side, for a change.
  Anyway, the SEC finalized the second rule under the authority of 
Dodd-Frank, section 1504, by making some--without any really 
substantial changes. Nonetheless, this is the one that he first signed.
  So thanks to the Congressional Review Act, oil and gas companies are 
not at a disadvantage when they are competing with State-owned oil and 
gas companies such as we have in China.
  We passed other critical CRAs because regulations tied the hands of 
our businesses and took local control away from the States. A lot of 
people in America--and I think a higher percentage of my people in 
Oklahoma--are really concerned about Second Amendment rights. Of 
course, we had one of the regulations that went through--in fact, 
Second Amendment rights, when we talk about the farmers and the 
ranchers and not just from my State of Oklahoma--we are a farm State--
but throughout America, they will tell you that there are problems. 
Their No. 1 concern was--and I asked the Farm Bureau representative. He 
said the greatest problem facing farmers is not anything that is found 
in the ag bill, it is the overregulation by the EPA and specifically 
what they call the WOTUS bill. The WOTUS bill, which is the one I just 
mentioned, would take the jurisdiction away from the State and give it 
to the Federal Government.
  I have to say this. When you talk about ``liberals,'' that is not a 
negative term. It is a reality. It is how much power should be in the 
hands of the Federal bureaucrats as opposed to individuals and the 
States. So we have a lot of these regulations. One of the things the 
CRA has done is, it has taken away an excuse that people will use--I am 
talking about people in this Chamber who are legitimately liberals and 
believe we should have more control in Washington--it takes the power 
away from the Federal bureaucrats because what they can do is go ahead 
and pass the regulations. Then you go back home and when people are 
yelling and screaming about being overregulated back in their home 
States, they say: Don't blame me, blame the unelected bureaucrats. A 
CRA takes away that excuse because it forces them to actually get on 
record.
  So as chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public 
Works, we were involved with more of these regulations than any other 
committee because that is what we do for a living there. So I was very 
happy to see all of the successes we had.
  Let me just mention because I don't think it has been mentioned 
before--and I will submit this for the Record. There are two ways of 
doing away with these regulations, and one is through Executive orders. 
I think everybody knows that. But they don't realize what has already 
been done. I think we have had a total of 30, 31 regulations that have 
been done away with either through Executive orders or through the 
Congressional Review Act. Some of the Executive orders, for example, 
are the WOTUS, the one we have been talking about; clean energy, 
something which repeals the Clean Power Plan and something which 
officially ended the war on fossil fuels, I might add; the Executive 
order on rebuilding the military; the Executive order on the Keystone 
and Dakota Access Pipelines--we are all familiar with that and the 
ongoing debate.

  Some of the CRAs really aren't talked about too much, and we are 
talking about regulations that came from the Obama administration that 
now have been done away with through use of CRAs--the educational rule 
mandating Federal standards for evaluating teacher performance; the 
educational rule establishing a national school board, with an effort 
to get away from local control of the schools; the Interior rule that 
blocked Alaska from controlling their own hunting and fishing in that 
beautiful State; the Social Security rule that put seniors on a gun ban 
list--Second Amendment rights.
  All of these things are very significant, and I am very proud, quite 
frankly, of this body. With the exception of one, we passed all 14 of 
the CRAs, and I can't think of any time that has been done in the past. 
So it is a great thing. It did put the power back in the hands of the 
people who are elected here, and I am very glad to have been a 
participant in that.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the complete list of the 
Congressional Review Act resolutions passed and the Trump Executive 
actions be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:


              Congressional Review Act Resolutions Passed

       SEC Rule requiring oil and gas companies to disclose their 
     ``playbooks'' on how to win deals. Inhofe-CRA--first signed 
     since 2001; Stream Buffer Zone rule that blocks coal mining; 
     Education rule mandating federal standards for evaluating 
     teacher performance; Education rule establishing national 
     school board; Interior rule that blocked Alaska-control of 
     hunting & fishing; Social Security rule that put seniors with 
     ``representative payees'' on gun-ban list; OSHA rule that 
     changed paperwork violation statute of limitations from 6-
     months to 5-years.
       Defense rule that blocked contractors from getting deals if 
     suspected (not convicted) of employment-law violations; Labor 
     rule blocking drug-testing of unemployment beneficiaries; BLM 
     rule blocking oil and gas development on federal lands. 
     Federal Communications Commission rule that would have 
     established 2nd regime of privacy rules in addition to 
     Federal Trade Commission; HHS rule that would make it easier 
     for states to fund Planned Parenthood; Department of Labor 
     (DOL) rule forcing private sector employees onto goverment 
     run retirement plans; DOL rule allowing states to bypass 
     protections on retirement plans.


                        Trump Executive Actions

       Regulatory reform: requires 2 regulations be repealed for 
     each new regulation; WOTUS: directs EPA to rescind Waters of 
     the United States Act; Energy: repeals clean power plan, 
     other harmful regulations . . . ending War on Fossil Fuels; 
     Mexico City: reinstates ban of fed funds going to NGOs that 
     do abortions; Hiring Freeze: freezes federal hiring (exempted 
     military); Military: rebuilds military; Approves Keystone XL 
     pipeline; Approves Dakota Access pipeline.
       Permit Streamlining: expedites infrastructure and 
     manufacturing project permits; Immigration: 90 day suspension 
     on visas for visitors from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, 
     Sudan, Yemen. 20 day suspension of U.S. Refugee Admission 
     Program; Sanctuary Cities: blocks federal Department of 
     Justice grants to sanctuary cities; Dodd-Frank: demands 
     review of Dodd-Frank banking regulations and demanding roll-
     back; Shrink government: directs federal agencies to 
     reorganize to reduce waste and duplication; Trade: evaluates 
     policies to reduce trade deficit; Opioids: fed task force to 
     address opioid drug crisis; Fiduciary rule: delays 
     implementation of bad DOJ rule; Religious Liberty: Eases 
     enforcement of Johnson Amendment and grants other protections 
     for religious freedom; Offshore drilling: revises Obama-era 
     offshore drilling restrictions and orders a review of limits 
     on drilling locations; National Monuments: Directs a review 
     of national monument designations.
       Improves accountability and whistleblower protections for 
     VA employees; Affirms local control of school policies and 
     examines Department of Ed regulations; Reviews agricultural 
     regulations; Reviews use of H-1B visas; Top-to-bottom audit 
     of Executive Branch; Moves Historically Black Colleges and 
     Universities offices from Department of Ed to White House; 
     Obamacare: directs federal agencies to ease burdens of ACA; 
     Establishes American Technology Council; Establishes office 
     of Trade and Manufacturing Policy; Identifies and reduces tax 
     regulatory burdens; ``Hire America, Buy America''; 
     Establishes a collection and enforcement of antidumping and 
     countervailing duties and violations of Trade and Customs 
     laws; Creates an order of succession within DOJ; Revokes 
     federal contracting executive orders.

  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BLUNT. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Fischer). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.


                             Mental Health

  Mr. BLUNT. Madam President, I want to talk today about a topic that

[[Page S2897]]

I think is getting more attention now than it has gotten for some 
time--but still not the attention it deserves--and that is to talk a 
little bit in May, which is Mental Health Month, about mental health.
  I was on the floor of the Senate the last day of October 2013, the 
50th anniversary of the last bill that President Kennedy signed into 
law, which was the Community Mental Health Act. Through the Community 
Mental Health Act, you saw the facilities that were about to be closed, 
but the anticipated alternatives, in so many ways, never really 
developed. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 
approximately one in five adults experiences mental illness in a given 
year, and one in five young people between the ages of 13 and 18 will 
experience severe mental illness sometime during their lifetime.
  The National Institutes of Health says that one in four adult 
Americans has a diagnosable, and almost always treatable, mental health 
disorder, a mental behavioral health issue, and that one in nine adult 
Americans has behavioral health illness that impacts how they live 
every single day. So whether it is the statistic that relates to one in 
four or one in five or one in nine, this is an issue that affects the 
lives of lots of people.
  Half of the children in that age group, 13 to 18, rarely get the help 
they need, and even fewer adults do. About 40 percent of adults who 
have behavioral health issues receive the treatment they need for that 
issue. I think we are beginning to make great strides on this. 
Certainly, the discussion has changed. The opportunity to treat mental 
health like all other health has changed.
  In the 113th Congress, just a few years ago, Senator Stabenow from 
Michigan and I worked to get a bill passed; it was called the 
Excellence in Mental Health Act, and we now have eight States that have 
projects going on. In those eight States--in significant areas of all 
of those States--behavioral health is being treated like all other 
health.
  The idea is really built on the federally qualified health centers 
idea, the reimbursement model, where anybody can go, and if you are 
covered by a government program, that is taken into consideration. If 
you are covered by private insurance, that is taken into consideration. 
If you are paying cash, there is a significant and rapidly declining 
amount of cash that you have to pay because your income gets smaller. 
But everybody in these States would have access to mental health care, 
just as they currently have access to other kinds of healthcare.
  At the community mental health centers that meet 24/7 standards, that 
are available, that have the staffing needs, and in other places that 
have the staff the law requires and the access the law requires, people 
can go to those facilities, and those providers will know they are 
going to be reimbursed for treating mental health like all other 
health.
  I am certainly glad that my State of Missouri is one of the eight 
pilot States in that demonstration program. In our State, we have 
been--I think by any standard--forward-leaning on this issue for a long 
time, but not nearly as forward-leaning as we should be or as people 
who look at the pervasive character of behavioral health issues 
understand we should be.
  When we passed the bill a couple of years ago, we really weren't sure 
how much interest we would get from States. There was some sense that, 
well, eight States would be all the States that would even want to do 
this, if every State that wanted to apply and could go through the 
application process did so. But, in fact, everybody in the mental 
health world was encouraged to see 24 States, which represented half of 
the population in the country, apply to be part of that pilot program--
certainly, leading by example here, figuring out what happens.
  Frankly, if you treat behavioral health like all other health, I 
think what many of these States will find--and they may all find--is 
that the other health costs are much more easily dealt with and, 
obviously, that not only is treating behavioral health like all other 
health the right thing to do, but it actually may save money to spend 
this money. People who have other health problems but who are seeing 
their doctor because their behavioral health issue is under control may 
be seeing two doctors. They are taking the medicine they need for 
behavioral health--if they need medicine for that--but because they are 
eating better, sleeping better, feeling better about themselves, they 
are also taking the medicine and getting to the appointments for any 
other health issue they have.
  Early studies indicate that, actually, you save money by doing the 
right thing and understanding that mental health isn't a topic we don't 
talk about, but mental health is just another health issue we need to 
deal with.
  We need to be sure that we have providers going forward. We don't 
have enough doctors in Missouri--or in other States--who are able to 
treat the increasing number of people who seek treatment. And as 
doctors retire in these fields, we are going to have an even greater 
shortage if we don't do something to encourage people to go into this 
field.
  There is a particular shortage in care providers who deal with 
children. Children and youth who are in need of mental health services 
and who don't receive them run a greater risk of all kinds of other 
problems, including dropping out of school, not doing well in school, 
ending up in the criminal justice system--things that needlessly happen 
because we haven't stepped forward and viewed their behavioral health 
problem as we would if they had some other problems.
  I was glad Senator Reed from Rhode Island and I were recently able to 
reintroduce a bill called the Ensuring Children's Access to Specialty 
Care Act. Pediatric medicine doesn't pay as well as other medicine for 
lots of reasons. One is that children don't have a lot of their own 
money to pay with, and often their parents don't have it either.
  This bill that Senator Reed and I introduced would allow physicians 
who want to specialize in, among other things, child and adolescent 
psychiatry to be eligible for the National Health Service Corps student 
loan repayment program. That program is generally not available now to 
doctors who go on and specialize on the theory that if you specialize, 
you are going to have more income than the general practice doctor 
might have. Those programs have always been focused on the general 
practice doctor, but if you specialize in children's health--whether it 
is, frankly, psychiatry or any other area of children's health--you are 
much less likely to financially benefit from deciding to do that. So 
this would allow those doctors to pursue that program as part of how 
they help get their loans paid back.
  Whether it is physical or behavioral health, children have a unique 
set of health needs and often a lack of ability on their own to do what 
needs to be done. Medical residents who practice pediatric medicine 
require additional training. One of the barriers they cite for not 
getting that additional training is that they are going to have to have 
these additional student loans. Hopefully, we can allow ways for them 
to get into programs that other doctors get into, to see that they 
continue to be encouraged to be part of pediatric medicine and 
pediatric specialties.
  Also, we are looking at another bill, the Advancing Care for 
Exceptional Kids Act, commonly referred to as ACE Kids. What ACE Kids 
does is treat kids who have serious medical problems as exactly that--
to have a way to look at health needs and medically complex kids whom 
you wouldn't look at otherwise, seeing that these particular patients 
don't have to go through all kinds of barriers to find a doctor, fee 
for service. Medically complex kids really need help, and I think we 
could easily design a new and different way to deal with them.
  Finally, talking about kids, I want to say one other thing, and that 
is just to mention that this particular week is Teacher Appreciation 
Week. I was a teacher after I got out of college, before I had a chance 
later to be a university president. I think teachers are always 
inclined to be teachers and try to tell the stories we need to hear. 
But when we are talking about mental health and teachers, healthcare, 
mental health, first aid are things that don't allow teachers to become 
child psychiatrists or mental health professionals but do allow 
teachers, as they

[[Page S2898]]

are watching the students whom they get to know so well, to identify 
what students need help and what students don't. Often teachers get the 
first chance outside the child's home to see that they are clearly 
challenged or may be challenged in ways that are easily dealt with, if 
they are dealt with, and are really troublesome if they are not dealt 
with at all.
  So while we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week at the very end of 
school and Mental Health Month, I hope we commit ourselves to look at 
these mental health issues for what they are. They are health issues. 
They need to be talked about. The right thing to do is to deal with 
them.
  I think we are seeing new and better things happen there, but we are 
not nearly where we should be yet. As I said earlier, when Senator 
Stabenow and I could go to the Floor on the 50th anniversary of the 
last bill President Kennedy signed and 50 years later talk about how 
few of the goals set in that bill have been met in five decades by 
society, we really have a lot of catching up to do.
  I believe and hope we are catching up, and I hope this is a month 
where people really think about telemedicine, contacts, opportunities, 
and excellence in mental health in ways we haven't before.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The assistant Democratic leader.


                            Medical Research

  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, before the Senator from Missouri leaves 
the floor, I want to say a word about him and the topic he raised today 
about health and, in this particular case, children.
  Senator Blunt and I have adjoining States, Illinois and Missouri. We 
have joined up, as well, on the issue of medical research. I salute 
him. Even though he is my Republican colleague, I want to make clear 
that this is a bipartisan issue. He has made it a bipartisan issue. We 
had the good support of Senator Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and 
Senator Murray, Democrat of Washington.
  The Senator from Missouri has done some amazing things. I want to say 
specifically for the Record that America owes him a debt of gratitude, 
as chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that is responsible for 
the National Institutes of Health, the foremost leading medical 
research agency in the world.
  Let me tell you, with his leadership, what we accomplished. For two 
straight years, Senator Blunt has been able to raise the appropriations 
for medical research at the National Institutes of Health by $2 billion 
or more. The net result of that is that a $30 billion budget has grown 
to almost $34 billion. What does it mean? It means that researchers 
don't get discouraged. They stay on their projects. They keep working 
to find cures.
  Secondly, we are making dramatic advances in medicine because of it. 
His leadership has been absolutely essential. If there is ever a 
bipartisan issue, this is it. The Senator has been quite a leader in 
this regard.

  I want to salute you for that while you are on the floor on the topic 
of healthcare and children.
  Mr. BLUNT. Madam President, I appreciate my good friend's comments on 
this but also his commitment to seeing that we make this happen. As he 
mentioned, this is a bipartisan effort, but it is an effort that had 
about a 10-year lag, and we are doing our best to dramatically catch up 
with what is really an important time in healthcare research.
  Mr. DURBIN. I thank my colleague from Missouri. I will tell you that 
he set a standard. I hope that both parties will agree that this is the 
starting point. For every year's budget, the starting point is at least 
a 5-percent real growth increase in medical research.
  Thank you, Senator Blunt, for your leadership.


                         Healthcare Legislation

  Madam President, I also want to address an issue that came up in 
debate last week in the U.S. House of Representatives; that is, the 
question of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. This is an issue 
where reasonable people can disagree about how exactly to run our 
healthcare system.
  But at the end of the day, I hope that, as with medical research, we 
can all come together with some basic issues. Congress should not pass 
a law taking away health insurance coverage from Americans. Let's start 
there. Congress should work together on a bipartisan basis to find ways 
to reduce the cost of healthcare and health insurance premiums. I think 
we should agree on that too.
  Third, we have to find a way to make sure that consumers and families 
across America are protected with health insurance that is there when 
they need it. Now, it was a little over a week ago when I became a 
statistic--not just a Senator but a statistic--in healthcare. I went 
through a heart catheter procedure in Chicago last week on Tuesday. 
After that procedure--which turned out just fine; thank you--I am a 
statistic. I am a person in America with a preexisting condition. I 
have to check that box that says I have had a heart procedure.
  It used to be if you checked a box like that--diabetes, asthma, 
whatever you checked--it ended up having a direct impact on what you 
paid for health insurance or whether you could even buy it. There were 
people who survived cancer--children, adults--who could not buy health 
insurance because they were too big a risk for health insurance 
companies.
  Well, we changed that. The Affordable Care Act changed that and said: 
Just because you have a preexisting condition--and one out of three 
Americans has one--you should not be denied coverage. Now, the House of 
Representatives passed a bill that allows Governors literally to take 
away that requirement in health insurance plans. What are they 
thinking?
  Do they think they are so darn lucky that they will never have an 
accident, never have a diagnosis where they end up with a preexisting 
condition? It can happen to anybody, and it does. So what the House of 
Representatives did in this regard is a step backward.
  They also changed the Medicaid system. People have this image, when 
you say Medicaid: Oh, that is the same as Medicare. No, Medicare is for 
seniors and disabled people. Medicaid is a policy of health insurance 
that is available for people who do not have a lot of money. Well, who 
qualifies for that? Well, it turns out that the largest number of 
people who qualify for Medicaid are children and their moms.
  In my State of Illinois, half of the kids who are born in the State 
are covered by Medicaid. So the moms, when they need prenatal care to 
make sure the babies are healthy, and the babies, when they need care 
after the hospital, rely on Medicaid. But that is not the most 
expensive thing when it comes to Medicaid. The most expensive thing in 
Medicaid are your moms, your grandmoms, and granddads who are in 
nursing homes. You know what happens? They reach a point where they 
need to be in a place where folks can watch them and help them.
  They have medical issues and age is taking its toll. But many of them 
get there, and all they have is Social Security and Medicare, and it is 
not enough. So Medicaid steps in and supplements it so that your mom, 
your dad, or your grandmother can stay in that place, which is good for 
them, secure, safe, and with the right kind of healthcare. The other 
group that relies on Medicaid the most in their daily lives are 
disabled people, folks who are born with a disability or have acquired 
one in life and they need ongoing medical care they cannot personally 
afford.
  Children and their moms, elderly folks in nursing homes, and disabled 
people depend on Medicaid. So what does the Republican bill that passed 
the House of Representatives do to the Medicaid Program across America? 
It ends up cutting over $800 billion in coverage. What it means in 
Illinois is that 1 million people--out of our 12.5 million population--
are likely to lose their health insurance because of the action taken 
by the House of Representatives.
  Even my Republican Governor in Illinois came out publicly and said 
what they did in the House of Representatives is disastrous for our 
State. It has a significant negative impact on the cost of healthcare 
and the coverage of health insurance. So why would we want to do that? 
Why would we want to take health coverage away from the groups I just 
mentioned?
  Do we want to put less money in prenatal care? Well, if we do, we run 
the risk that children will be born with problems and challenges that 
could

[[Page S2899]]

cost us a fortune and compromise their lives.
  Do we want to put less money into supporting elderly people who are 
in nursing homes? Well, what are they going to do? What are they 
supposed to do? If they can't stay in a place that is good for them and 
with the right kind of care, does that mean the family now has to find 
a spare room for grandma or your mom? I hope not. These folks want to 
live in dignity, and they don't want to be in a situation where they 
have to look for charity or beg for help from their families.
  The third group is disabled people. For goodness sakes, we are lucky. 
We have people with disabilities who are doing amazing things today. 
But many who are in lower income categories need the help of Medicaid.
  I had a group of hospital administrators come in to see me this week 
from Illinois. They were from every part of the State. If you go down 
to our beautiful Southern Illinois area, there are some great towns. 
One of them is Anna, IL, right near Cobden, IL. It is down in the 
southern end of our State. It is a very rural area with smaller towns.
  Then I had administrators in the same group from Quincy, IL, from 
Springfield, IL, my home town, and from the city of Chicago. They all 
came here to tell me the same thing: The bill that passed the House of 
Representatives last week is a disaster when it comes to Illinois 
hospitals. They estimate they are going to lose up to 60,000 people who 
are currently working in hospitals in Illinois, because of that bill, 
and they are also going to see closures and reductions in services at 
these same hospitals while we see the Medicaid cutbacks take place.

  Now, why is that? Let's assume you have a small rural hospital in a 
town that you live in. If you do, you value it very much because that 
means there is healthcare there, right next door, when you need it. You 
don't have to drive 50 miles or more. You have it right there. You also 
know it is a great employer in your area. You also know, as well, that 
that is the way you keep a lot of businesses in your town and attract 
new ones.
  So what these hospitals are telling us is that the bill that passed 
the House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act is a 
threat to the future of those hospitals. If the patients don't come in 
covered by Medicaid and pay for some of their services, the hospitals 
will still treat them, but they are charity patients, then, and the 
hospitals have to charge every other patient more because of it.
  So that is a terrible way for us to approach healthcare reform in 
America. That is the reality of what we face today. I am troubled by 
the fact that this bill, which passed the House of Representatives by 
two votes--two votes--if two Congressmen had voted the other way, this 
bill would not have passed. This bill was never reviewed by the 
Congressional Budget Office. Well, who cares? I care.
  For everything we do that is supposed to be that important to affect 
the American economy, we are supposed to go to the nonpartisan experts 
and ask them: Well, what does this really do? We have been held to that 
standard--Democrats have and Republicans, too--until now. Now, we have 
this decision by the House of Representatives to pass this bill 
affecting America's healthcare system--one-fifth of our economy, I 
might add--and they never went for an analysis to the Congressional 
Budget Office.
  That has never happened before. They did it anyway. You know why they 
did it? Because the first version of this bill was a disaster. They 
sent that bill in for an analysis--24 million Americans losing their 
health insurance over the next 10 years. It was a disaster. They were 
afraid they would get the same analysis on the second bill. So they 
never sent it in for the analysis. In 2 weeks, we are going to have the 
numbers.
  But it really gives you fair warning that this bill could be very 
hurtful to a lot of people across America, and yet it passed the House 
of Representatives. So today people say to me in Illinois, when I have 
town meetings: Well, we are listening to you, Senator. But what do you 
want to do about healthcare today? What would you change in the current 
system? Well, let me tell you first. I voted for the Affordable Care 
Act. I believe in it. The number of uninsured people in America--the 
percentage--has been cut in half because of the Affordable Care Act. Is 
it perfect? Of course not. Does it need to be changed? Yes.
  I can give you two or three specifics, and I will. First, we have to 
do something about the price of drugs in America--pharmaceuticals. You 
see what is happening. Hedge funds are buying the rights to drugs and 
raising the prices two, three, four, and ten times because they have an 
exclusive drug. There is a family I have come to know who has a young 
son who is in high school in Chicago. He has diabetes. He is an amazing 
kid. He is going to be a great success in life. He has fought diabetes 
for years and years. His mom and dad have stood behind him.
  They came in to tell me: Do you know what has happened to the cost of 
insulin--insulin--which diabetics need dramatically? It has gone up 
two, three, four, and five times in the last few years for no reason 
other than that they can charge it. Of course, a person with diabetes 
may be dependent on that insulin even to survive.
  So the first thing we ought to do when we look at the healthcare 
system is figure out how to make sure that we have reasonable pricing 
when it comes to pharmaceuticals. Of course, I want them to make a 
profit. Those pharmaceutical companies, with a profit motive, will keep 
doing research to find the next drug. But do I want these hedge funds 
and others--investment bankers--to buy out the rights to those drugs 
and drive their prices through the roof? That is not fair. It adds 
dramatically to the cost of healthcare.
  Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the biggest insurers in America. It 
is the biggest in my State of Illinois. My wife and I have a plan with 
them. So the head of Blue Cross Blue Shield came to me, and she said: 
Senator, did you know that last year Blue Cross Blue Shield paid more 
for pharmaceuticals than they paid for inpatient hospital care? What? 
Inpatient hospital care, people who have to come in for surgeries and 
things--you paid more for pharmaceuticals?
  Yes.
  Well, there are things we can do about it. I have legislation that I 
have introduced that reviews the pricing on pharmaceuticals, holds the 
pharmaceutical companies accountable. I take a position on an issue 
that all of my colleagues don't share, but I want to share it with you. 
There are only two nations in the world--only two--that allow 
pharmaceutical companies to advertise on television. The United States 
and New Zealand.
  Well, what difference does it make? Have you turned on the TV lately 
and tried to find a show that did not have ads about pharmaceuticals? 
Have you tried to write down the names of some of those pharmaceuticals 
so that you might remember them if it is something of interest? Have 
you tried to listen to the warnings that they give you about all of 
these pharmaceuticals?
  Well, some of the warnings are amazing: If you have had a liver 
transplant, be sure and tell your doctor. Well, yes, that explains that 
incision. A liver transplant? Why do they do that? Why do they buy all 
of those ads on television? Real simple. If you have some condition, 
and they talk about it in one of those ads, you are going to ask your 
doctor about that drug, and it is likely, in many cases, that doctor, 
then, will end up prescribing that drug.
  Is it necessary? It may not be. Is it the cheapest form of the drug? 
It may not be. So, then, why does the doctor write the prescription? 
Because it is easier to do that than a 10-minute stop in the office for 
him to sit down with you and patiently explain: You don't need this 
drug, or you can use a generic, or we ought to wait a while before we 
go into this.
  The result of it is that more and more pharmaceutical companies have 
their drugs being prescribed and more and more profits coming their 
way. So I, for one, think that this direct consumer advertising is 
really hurtful in terms of the cost of healthcare in our country, and 
it is something we ought to deal with. I would make that part of the 
reform of the Affordable Care Act.
  The second thing we need to do is to make sure, I believe, that in 
every place in America, if you so choose, you can choose a Medicare-
type public plan

[[Page S2900]]

to cover your family. Right now, it is private health insurance 
companies. You may choose to stick with the private health insurance 
company. That should be your choice. But you also ought to have a 
Medicare-type plan.
  Over 50 million Americans are covered by Medicare, and most of them--
the overwhelming majority of them--are happy with Medicare. What if we 
had a Medicare-type plan, a public option, available to every American 
to choose if they wish? I think that could reduce the cost of 
healthcare, and I think it is an option we ought to consider.

  The third point I would make is that when we are dealing with 
reforming the healthcare system, we have one group in particular who is 
giving us a real challenge: individuals who are buying health 
insurance. The vast majority of Americans get their health insurance 
through their employment and many others through Medicaid--a program I 
described earlier--and then there is that group out there buying 
insurance on the open market. They are the ones who are seeing the 
runup in premiums and costs and overruns that they have to face, seeing 
copayments going up and the like. We need to find a way to deal with 
this group to give them affordable health insurance. There are a lot of 
ways to approach that, but that ought to be a target of what we do for 
the ones who are facing the toughest increases in health insurance.
  I will just say this too: The good news about this conversation in 
the Senate is that it is finally reaching a new level. Now there are 12 
Republican Senators who are meeting with Senator McConnell, and they 
are setting out to draw up a plan and try to pass it with just 
Republican votes. I hope that does not succeed, and I will tell you 
why. If we can do this on a bipartisan basis and sit down in good faith 
and work out these improvements to the Affordable Care Act, that is the 
best option for this country. Senator Collins of Maine and Senator 
Cassidy of Louisiana are trying to start that conversation. I have said 
to them that if this is a good-faith effort not to repeal the 
Affordable Care Act but to repair it, I want to pull a chair up to the 
table.
  Let's have this conversation. We may not agree, we may not be able to 
come up with the best solutions, but the bipartisan approach of solving 
the current problems with the current healthcare system is a much more 
sensible thing to do than to have an all-Republican bill trying to 
force its way through here. I hope that doesn't happen. It is far 
better to do this on a bipartisan basis, and I hope that is what will 
be done.
  I will be going home, as I do regularly, to talk about the impact of 
the bill passed by the House of Representatives. I have just touched on 
some of the major points of it.
  There is one thing I do want to mention, though. It has an age tax in 
it that many people between the ages of 50 and 64 may not be aware of.
  Currently the law says that there cannot be a disparity of difference 
in premiums charged of more than 3 to 1; that is, the most expensive 
premium charged to someone for health insurance, no matter what their 
health or condition, cannot be more than three times the lowest premium 
charged. That is current law. The bill passed in the House of 
Representatives changed that dramatically. It says: Instead of 3 to 1, 
let's make it 5 to 1. Who is going to pay the difference? Folks who are 
older and those facing chronic illness.
  If you are between the ages of 50 and 64, watch out for your health 
insurance premiums under this measure that passed the House of 
Representatives. That is something which should not have been included. 
That is why the American Association of Retired Persons has come out 
against this bill. It is another reason we have to ensure that the bill 
that passed the House of Representatives does not become the law of the 
land. To have this discrimination against people because of their age 
is unfair, and I agree with the American Association of Retired Persons 
on that particular issue.
  Let's hope we can find a bipartisan path to making healthcare even 
better in America. I don't care who takes the credit for it. If at the 
end of the day more families have peace of mind with health insurance 
that they can afford, that provides them quality care when they need 
it, that is something we need to achieve.
  As I said earlier, I again learned this lesson last week. The lesson 
is simply this: If you go in for a diagnosis and learn that you need 
quality healthcare, you want to have health insurance. You want to have 
access to the best doctors and hospitals. Everyone in America wants 
that. That shouldn't be a privilege which is reserved just for the rich 
and lucky; that ought to be there for every single American.
  I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. If we start off 
with that premise, we can build a healthcare system in this country 
that is still the envy of the world.
  Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, today I come to the floor in opposition 
to the nomination of Robert Lighthizer to be United States Trade 
Representative, USTR. After close examination of the confirmation 
process for Mr. Lighthizer, I have come to the conclusion that Mr. 
Lighthizer does not adequately understand the positive economic 
benefits the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, has had and 
will continue to have on Arizona and our Nation. His advocacy for 
protectionist shifts in America's trade policies, including his support 
for the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, and the 
Trump administration's incoherent and inconsistent trade posture, have 
only solidified my opposition to his nomination to be USTR.
  As I wrote in a February piece in the Arizona Republic, coauthored by 
my colleague Senator Flake and Arizona chamber president Glenn Hammer, 
NAFTA has delivered enormous economic benefits to the United States 
since its inception in 1994, especially for the citizens of Arizona. In 
just two decades, Arizona's exports to Canada and Mexico have increased 
by $5.7 billion, or 236 percent. Mexico stands as Arizona's No. 1 
trading partner, with bilateral trade accounting for 40 percent of our 
State's exports to foreign markets in 2015 and totaling $9.2 billion. 
Arizona's trade relationship with Mexico also directly supports more 
than 100,000 Arizona jobs.
  While I understand NAFTA could be strengthened and modernized, any 
efforts by this administration to withdraw from NAFTA or impose new 
restrictions or barriers on our ability to trade with Mexico and Canada 
will have serious consequences for Arizona, including massive job 
losses for workers and dramatically higher costs for consumers. 
Furthermore, I am troubled by the need for and the process by which 
Congress recently granted Mr. Lighthizer a waiver to serve as USTR 
given that he previously represented a Brazilian and Chinese client in 
trade litigation matters. As part of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 
1995, Congress adopted my amendment to prohibit an individual from 
serving as U.S. Trade Representative or Deputy U.S. Trade 
Representative if that person has ``directly represented, aided, or 
advised a foreign entity'' in ``any trade negotiation, or trade 
dispute, with the United States.'' Ultimately, the waiver was tucked in 
the must-pass omnibus spending bill, with no chance to debate or vote 
on such an important trade related policy.
  As Senator Sasse and I recently wrote in a letter opposing Mr. 
Lighthizer, the administration's incoherent and protectionist message 
on trade ``is especially troubling because confirming a USTR grants the 
Administration additional legal authority to negotiate trade deals that 
Congress must consider under `fast track' procedures. Given these 
circumstances, granting the Trump Administration additional legal 
powers through your confirmation without understanding how you or the 
Administration intend to use those powers would be irresponsible.''
  I plan to vote against the nomination of Mr. Lighthizer, and I urge 
colleagues to join me.
  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Madam President, I support the nomination of Robert 
Lighthizer to be the United States Trade Representative.
  Trade agreements should meet two tests: Does the agreement improve 
worker wages? And does the agreement add American jobs? For far too 
long, U.S. Trade Representatives have prioritized profits of large 
multinational organizations over the interests of the American people 
and our country as a whole.

[[Page S2901]]

  The USTR should be someone who negotiates on behalf of the American 
worker and advances labor and environmental protections, and the USTR 
should be someone who works to enforce agreements. While I don't agree 
with everything in Mr. Lighthizer's resume, his record suggests that he 
will be a USTR who will approach trade policies in the ways I have 
outlined. I hope the approach he takes going forward will reflect the 
positions he has taken in the past. I expect him to ask: Does it 
improve worker wages? And does it add American jobs?
  I believe that Mr. Lighthizer will bring fresh eyes to trade policy. 
I hope that he will focus on increasing transparency at the USTR. I 
hope that he will stand up for worker rights, both domestically and 
internationally. I hope that Mr. Lighthizer will work to enforce trade 
policies that protect the environment.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MORAN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                                 Trade

  Mr. MORAN. Madam President, I come from a State that in some ways is 
very similar to yours, the State of Kansas. You get to see firsthand 
the impact of trade and exports on the people, on jobs, and on the 
economic opportunity of my communities. Our State economy relies on our 
ability to sell the products we grow and manufacture to people around 
the globe.
  Strengthening our trade relationships and expanding market access for 
exports abroad creates a greater opportunity for Kansans today and 
those who follow us. One of my goals has always been to make certain 
that communities across Kansas remain a place in which the young men 
and women who grow up there find it to be a place to raise their 
families. Our ability to do that, especially in a small, rural 
community with agriculture and agricultural exports, is so important. 
It is a way that we can really put America first.
  If our goal is to have an America that has strength and prosperity, 
we ought to continue to focus on improving our Nation's economy. That 
is one of the things that I appreciate--we seem to be focused in such a 
significant way on our ability to grow an economy. I think we are 
poised for much greater things economically.
  ``Economics'' may sound like just one of those words, but what that 
means is more jobs, better jobs, more secure jobs, jobs for our 
children so that maybe they can pay back their student loans. This 
country desperately needs the jobs in the communities across Kansas and 
around the country, and it is really what we call the American dream.
  Trade, including our ability to sell the food and fiber we grow in 
our State, is a key part that drives our economy forward. Almost half 
of the wheat grown in Kansas is exported to foreign markets. What that 
means is, if you weren't doing that, nearly half of the acres planted 
in our State would be idle. That means the communities those farmers 
and ranchers live in and around would have half of the amount of 
economic activity that currently is occurring. American ranchers ship 
over 1 million metric tons of beef to consumers abroad. Thousands of 
acres of corn, sorghum, and soybeans being planted this spring across 
Kansas and the Nation will ultimately be exported.
  Approximately 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside 
America's borders. To reach those consumers, our Nation must produce a 
trade policy that grows the existing export markets while continuously 
building and developing new ones. Without export markets, both 
production and prices would fall for farmers and ranchers, and rural 
communities supported by agriculture would disappear. The revenue 
generated by exports not only keeps family farmers and ranchers afloat, 
it drives rural economies and supports small businesses.
  The aerospace industry, which is so important in Kansas, also relies 
on an integrated supply chain and strong trade policy. Wichita, KS--
appropriately labeled the ``Air Capital of the World''--manufactures 
more than half of the world's general aviation light aircraft and 
business jets. Without trade, aerospace and manufacturing facilities in 
Wichita and surrounding areas and Kansas City and surrounding areas 
would not exist and workers in those factories would be left without 
job opportunities.
  It is critical that we protect these jobs, many of which depend upon 
the United States having a strong economic relationship with Canada and 
Mexico. The North America Free-Trade Agreement, which went into effect 
in 1994, plays a significant role in supporting trade with those two 
neighboring nations.
  Of course, the world and technology have changed since 1994 when that 
agreement was entered into. There are areas of the agreement that can 
be improved and modernized. Many of those changes have been discussed 
and are issues that the United States, Canada, and Mexico agreed to 
during TPP negotiations, such as strengthening our intellectual 
property rights and new provisions for e-commerce.
  If we work collaboratively with Mexico and Canada to address the 
issues with NAFTA, including the issues on which we strongly disagree, 
I am confident we can improve the agreement for all parties. But 
efforts to pull out of NAFTA completely or to weaken our trading 
relationship with Canada and Mexico during renegotiations would cause 
significant damage to the American economy. We must have willing 
negotiators sitting across the table when discussing NAFTA, and that 
starts with treating our neighbors as trade partners and as friends. We 
need to treat these folks as friends, and we need to seize the 
opportunities we have.
  Working together to improve NAFTA or building economic relations with 
other trading partners does not mean America should take a step back 
from enforcing the current rules. Oftentimes in the past, we have been 
too focused on striking trade deals and selling them to the public, but 
we haven't done enough to make sure other countries are playing by the 
rules that are negotiated. Nontariff barriers and unfair trading 
practices by foreign countries harm our producers, workers, and 
consumers.
  We must make certain American producers are competing on a level 
playing field in a global market and that our jobs and wages are not 
being undermined by other countries' efforts to distort trade policies 
and trade agreements.
  Many Americans have lost confidence in trade agreements, and I 
believe that is partly because the benefits of trade agreements have 
been oversold, while the enforcement of unfair trade practices have 
been insufficient. In promoting agreements, leaders had set 
expectations for increased jobs, higher wages, growth in exports, and 
many other metrics that were impossible to meet. When these exaggerated 
promises did not come to fruition, many people lost confidence in those 
trade agreements.
  America should strengthen our commitment to holding other countries 
accountable in order to inspire greater confidence from the American 
public in our Nation's ability to reach a trade agreement that benefits 
us all.
  Weakening our trade relations will cause Kansans to lose jobs. 
Farmers and ranchers will no longer be able to pursue their careers and 
lifestyle. But with strong leadership and smart negotiating, I am 
convinced that America can improve our trade relationships in the world 
and continue to build on the economic successes we have today.
  A robust U.S. economy that provides market opportunities for farmers, 
ranchers, and manufacturers, and job prospects for workers is an 
essential pillar of America's strength and well-being. Strong trade 
relationships, particularly with Canada and Mexico, are primary drivers 
of our Nation's economy. We must protect those relationships and 
carefully consider changes in our approach to trade to be certain that 
Americans continue to benefit from economic opportunities that are 
created by a strong trade policy.
  Madam President, our relationships with Mexico and Canada are 
important and in many ways determine the economic future of the people 
of my State at home.

[[Page S2902]]

  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. HIRONO. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                          Russia Investigation

  Ms. HIRONO. Madam President, these are not ordinary times. It is not 
ordinary for a winning Presidential campaign to be under investigation 
for collusion with a foreign adversary to influence our 2016 election 
and undermine our democracy. It isn't ordinary for a President to fire 
the man responsible for conducting this very investigation. It isn't 
ordinary for a President whose campaign is under investigation for 
having ties to Russia to hold an Oval Office meeting with that 
country's Foreign Minister and only invite the Russian press. This 
meeting came only a day after firing the person in charge of the 
Russia-Trump investigation. Yet, here we are. The question is, What 
should we do next?
  The events of the past 48 hours have been shocking and concerning. 
Firing FBI Director James Comey in this manner, under this pretext, and 
at this time is a total disservice to the American people.
  President Trump hopes the American people will believe he fired 
Director Comey because of how he treated Hillary Clinton during the 
Presidential campaign. President Trump hopes, as his Deputy Press 
Secretary said on Tuesday night, that the American people think it is 
``time to move on.'' President Trump hopes his attempts to distract us 
from the importance of getting to the bottom of the Russia-Trump matter 
will succeed. President Trump's hopes are misplaced. If anything, 
President Trump's firing of Director Comey has resulted in an increased 
concern about the Trump team's connections to Russian interference with 
our 2016 Presidential election.
  The country is asking, Mr. President, what do you have to hide?
  We are learning practically on an hourly basis about how the 
President made this decision to fire Director Comey and why. This 
information does not square with the official line coming from the 
White House, which also changes.

  Most recently, the Washington Post reported that Deputy Attorney 
General Rod Rosenstein threatened to resign after the White House 
misrepresented his role in the decision to fire Director Comey. CNN 
reported that President Trump fired Director Comey because he would not 
provide ``assurance of personal loyalty.'' Both CNN and the Wall Street 
Journal reported that the decision to fire Director Comey came after 
the FBI's investigation was accelerating. All of this information has 
emerged in the last 48 hours or so.
  This kind of Presidential interference, through the firing of the FBI 
Director during an ongoing investigation, is unprecedented, suspicious, 
and deeply concerning. These revelations and those that are sure to 
come further argue in favor of appointing a special prosecutor to fully 
investigate the Russia-Trump matter. A special prosecutor with full 
autonomy can follow the evidence wherever it leads and prosecute as 
appropriate.
  I call upon Republicans of conscience to stand up and join the call 
for a special prosecutor.
  Over the past few days, a number of my Republican colleagues have 
spoken out against the way the President had fired James Comey. In 
particular, I would like to acknowledge Senators McCain, Sasse, Flake, 
Burr, Kennedy, Boozman, and Corker for speaking out. I hope, as more 
information about President Trump's decision to fire Director Comey 
emerges, our Republican colleagues will join in the call for a special 
prosecutor.
  Leader McConnell argued yesterday that appointing a special 
prosecutor would disrupt the ongoing work of the Senate committees that 
are conducting their own investigations. I disagree. The Senate Select 
Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary Committee have 
important oversight responsibilities regarding the Russia-Trump matter, 
but neither committee has the power to convene a grand jury or 
prosecute any crimes that may have been committed. Therefore, I 
reiterate the need for a special prosecutor with the mandate and 
authority to follow the facts wherever they lead--free of political 
considerations.
  In the coming weeks, President Trump will nominate a new Director for 
the FBI. This person must be above reproach and be someone whose 
independent judgment can earn the country's confidence. I have been 
disturbed by some of the names being floated as potential replacements, 
names like Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani. We cannot allow President 
Trump to appoint one of his buddies to oversee the Russia-Trump 
investigation or to lead the FBI.
  The investigation into the Russia-Trump matter cannot and should not 
be a partisan issue. We should all care that a foreign government has 
sought to interfere with our elections and with our democracy. This is 
not just about the election. This is really about protecting our 
democracy.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sasse). 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, there is a Chinese curse that reads: 
``May you live in interesting times.''
  To call the times that we find ourselves in right now ``interesting'' 
would be certainly an understatement. The fact is, we find ourselves 
and our country in a moment that is profoundly testing the rule of law 
here in America, profoundly testing the strength of our democratic 
institutions. We have a President who has now engaged in a pattern of 
removing individuals from office who are executing their 
responsibilities under the law.
  First, on January 30, just 11 days into the Trump administration, it 
was Sally Yates, the Acting Attorney General, who warned the 
administration that Michael Flynn had been compromised by his 
connections to Russia--an incredibly responsible act for her to take, 
but she was fired.
  On March 10, it was Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in New York, who 
was reportedly investigating whether Secretary Price had profited from 
his position in Congress. He had been told he would be retained by this 
administration when suddenly he was fired.
  Then this week, Tuesday, the President fired James Comey, the 
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; James Comey, who was 
leading the FBI's investigation into the possible collusion between the 
Trump campaign and Russia in the Presidential election and who was 
scheduled to testify before the U.S. Senate this week; James Comey; who 
had just recently asked for more funding and resources in order to 
appropriately and substantially investigate Russian interference in our 
elections and possible connections to the Trump campaign; James Comey, 
whose investigation just handed down its first round of subpoenas.

  The firing of James Comey has more than a passing resemblance to 
Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre, the infamous incident in October of 
1973, when President Nixon ordered the Attorney General to fire the 
special prosecutor who was investigating Watergate. Nixon wanted to 
derail that investigation. The Attorney General, Elliott Richardson, 
refused to do so and resigned. His deputy, William Ruckelshaus, refused 
to do so and resigned.
  Day by day, we have seen more connections, bits and pieces, come to 
light--conversations involving Michael Flynn, former campaign manager 
Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Attorney General Sessions.
  The President insists there is no ``there'' there, but we have seen a 
pattern of conversations that we don't fully understand. Was there 
coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians to interfere 
in the U.S. Presidential election? Was there collaboration? We don't 
know. We know there were a lot of conversations, but what was the 
substance of those conversations? And who instructed those meetings to 
take place? What is the full pattern of these events?
  It is important that we get to the bottom of it because what every 
American understands is, if you conspire

[[Page S2903]]

with a foreign government to undermine the integrity of the American 
elections, you are conspiring to undermine the integrity of the 
American Government itself; that this is a terrible assault, a terrible 
crime against our country.
  The President's team says this firing of Director Comey had nothing 
to do with the Russia investigation. They did so through a series of 
documents, including a letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to 
the President, a memo to Jeff Sessions from Rod Rosenstein, and the 
President writing a letter to James Comey saying you are fired. So the 
memo from Rosenstein to the AG, the AG's letter to the President, the 
President's letter saying you are fired, and all of this claiming the 
basis of the investigation was because they were dissatisfied with the 
way James Comey had treated Secretary Clinton.
  Now, that doesn't really fit with the history we are familiar with. 
The President told audiences at a campaign rally in October: ``I tell 
you what, what he did, he brought back his reputation.''
  He is referring to James Comey.
  ``He brought it back.''
  And then when the President talked to ``60 Minutes,'' he said: ``I 
respect him a lot,'' when he was asked about Director Comey in the 
context of the actions he had taken in regard to Secretary Hillary 
Clinton.
  We remember the chants at his rallies: ``Lock her up.''
  I don't think there is a single American--not a single Member of this 
body of 100 Senators--who believes for a moment--not for a 
microsecond--that the reasoning in this memo from the Deputy AG to the 
AG and the letter from the AG to the President and the President's memo 
to James Comey, that the arguments made here were the basis of his 
firing.
  If you believe the President woke up and said: I am so concerned 
about the way James Comey treated Hillary Clinton that he just has to 
be dismissed, then I have some oceanfront property in Arizona I would 
be happy to sell you.
  We know from the reporting of the last few days that there is quite 
another story--an accurate story--about why the President fired James 
Comey. We now know the President had become increasingly frustrated 
with Director Comey because he wouldn't go along with the story line 
the President wanted. The President wanted him to support his claim 
that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, but Director 
Comey, caring about the integrity of his team at the FBI and the 
office, refused to do so. In fact, he clarified that there is 
absolutely no information that corroborates the President's claim that 
Trump Tower had been wiretapped by President Obama.
  We know the President was frustrated that the Director was doing his 
job to explore--that is, to investigate--Russia's actions in our 
campaign, in our Presidential campaign, and that he was frustrated that 
there was looking into potential ties between his campaign and the 
Russians. He didn't like a lot about the fact that Director Comey was 
asking for more resources to be able to do a thorough investigation.
  Well, we know the result.
  According to a report in the Washington Post this morning, President 
Trump made his final decision to fire the Director last weekend while 
he was golfing on his property in New Jersey. He then tasked the AG and 
the Deputy Attorney General to come up with a cover story.
  This is an astonishing chain of events. What we have here is the 
President making a decision based on the appropriate efforts of the FBI 
to investigate a potential crime against the United States of America. 
What we have here is a President determining he wanted to derail that 
investigation, and he went to the AG and the Deputy AG to say: Help me 
do this. Help me derail this investigation. Give me a cover story I can 
sell to the American public. And Attorney General Sessions complied and 
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein complied.
  Now, that is quite different than what happened in the Saturday Night 
Massacre. In the Saturday Night Massacre, when the President said to 
the Attorney General: Get rid of that special prosecutor so I can 
derail the investigation, the Attorney General stood up and said: No 
way, and resigned--the Deputy Attorney General resigned, but that is 
not what we have here. We have now our AG agreeing to develop a cover 
story for the President.
  Now, this memo from Attorney General Sessions reads as follows: ``As 
Attorney General, I am committed to a high level of discipline, 
integrity, and the rule of law to the Department of Justice.''
  Let me ask this question, Where is the integrity in collaborating in 
a false story in order to derail an investigation, an important 
investigation to the very heart of the integrity of our system of 
government? Where, I ask the Attorney General, is the integrity in 
developing a cover story--a false story to cover up the action of 
derailing an investigation. That is the opposite of integrity.
  To the Deputy, who also agreed to conspire in this deception of the 
American public, where is your integrity? Where was your commitment to 
justice?
  So here we have events that are deeply disturbing not only in terms 
of the President's decision to falsely mislead the American public but 
also to the Attorney General's decision to collaborate in that and the 
Deputy Attorney General's decision to support it. How is this not 
obstruction of justice?
  If anyone here thinks for a moment that the President is going to 
nominate a new head of the FBI and ask that individual to conduct a 
robust investigation of Russia's entanglement in the U.S. elections, I 
have another thought for you: It is not going to happen. The President 
has deliberately, intentionally derailed this investigation, and the 
Justice Department has no intention of making it go forward again.
  We need to hear from these top officials. We need to have these 
officials come to the U.S. Senate, to a committee of the whole, to tell 
us their story and answer these questions about what they have just 
done to violate the integrity of the Department of Justice.
  We need to have a special prosecutor. We know the head of the FBI, 
when we have one again, is not going to be able to conduct a robust 
investigation. Therefore, we need a special prosecutor to get to the 
bottom of this. The American people deserve no less. The restoration of 
integrity of the U.S. Government deserves no less.
  Lady Justice carries scales in her hands, and where is the blindfold? 
The whole point is that no one in America is above the law, no one--not 
Presidents or Vice Presidents, not AGs or Deputy AGs. Lady Justice is 
all about getting the facts, following the facts where they go, holding 
individuals accountable, when we get those facts, when we get that 
information.
  That is what we need to do now. We need to get to the bottom of this. 
We need to have that special prosecutor. We need to make sure that if 
anyone did conspire with the Russians, they are held to the full 
account of the law because conspiring with a foreign country to 
undermine the integrity of U.S. elections is treasonous conduct. This 
is not a traffic ticket. This is a question of treasonous--conspiring 
with a foreign government, undermining the U.S. Presidential election.
  I am deeply disturbed about this turn of events. I am deeply 
disturbed about the information we have. We need to get the full, full 
story, the complete story, and make sure justice is served.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Idaho.
  Mr. RISCH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that following the 
remarks of Senator Murphy, there be 20 minutes of postcloture time 
remaining on the Lighthizer nomination, equally divided between the 
chairman and ranking member of the Finance Committee; that following 
the use or yielding back of that time, the Senate vote on the 
Lighthizer nomination; and that, if confirmed, the motion to reconsider 
be considered made and laid upon the table, and the President be 
immediately notified of the Senate's action.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. RISCH. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I thank Senator Merkley for his remarks 
this week, as this body has been rightly focused on the firing of James 
Comey

[[Page S2904]]

and the imagined rationale that the President gave.


                         Healthcare Legislation

  Mr. President, secret meetings have been happening amongst our 
Republican colleagues to draft a healthcare bill that could have 
devastating consequences on the people we all represent. I know we are 
about to have a vote on the floor, but I wanted to come to the floor to 
simply remind all of my friends on both sides of the aisle of the 
promises that have been made about this process and this piece of 
legislation which emerged from the House last week with devastating 
consequences. Those consequences include 24 million people losing 
coverage and people with preexisting conditions being subjected to 
$200,000 premium increases, potentially.
  I just reference the words of the President of the United States, who 
told us repeatedly over and over again, during the campaign and after 
the campaign, that the result of this healthcare reform debate was 
going to be a healthcare system that was better. President Trump 
outlined that in a number of different ways.
  Here is what he said on April 30, just a few weeks ago. He said:

       The healthcare plan is on its way. Will have much lower 
     premiums & deductibles, while at the same time taking care of 
     preexisting conditions!

  That is not true. That is a lie. The healthcare bill that emerged 
from the House of Representatives did none of those things.
  CBO has not come out with its final estimate. It is unbelievable that 
the House voted on a reordering of one-sixth of the American economy 
without a CBO estimate, but we can pretty much be sure that the first 
CBO estimate will hold, in that it will say that premiums are going to 
go up by 15 to 20 percent immediately for everybody, and then for the 
nonyoung healthy and wealthy, premiums are going to go up even higher.
  It didn't take care of preexisting conditions. It did the opposite--
allowed every State to be able to walk away from the protection of the 
Affordable Care Act, which makes sure people with preexisting 
conditions, which could be one-third of all Americans, can't be subject 
to higher rates, and it substituted that requirement with a high-risk 
pool which is dramatically underfunded to the point that it is 
laughable, in the opinion of many healthcare economists.
  Here is what Donald Trump said earlier this year:

       We're going to have insurance for everybody. People covered 
     under the law can expect to have great healthcare. . . . Much 
     less expensive and much better insurance for everybody.

  CBO says 24 million people will lose their insurance, and that number 
might be higher when the new estimate comes out. This wasn't true. This 
was a lie.
  Finally, the President said, during the campaign:

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

  No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid--this is a giant 
cut to Medicaid. This is an $880 billion cut to Medicaid being used to 
finance a giant tax cut for people making over $200,000 a year. This 
wasn't true. This was a lie as well.
  A lot of Democrats will be willing to talk about making our 
healthcare system better, but we want our Republican colleagues, as 
they are having these behind-closed-door meetings, to remember the 
promises that were made. They said nobody would lose insurance, 
premiums would go down--not up--and your benefit package wouldn't 
become worse. If Republicans can deliver on those promises, then there 
is a discussion to be had. But if anything looking like the House 
product emerges, it is a violation of the promises this President and 
many Republicans made over and over again.
  Finally, I also want all my colleagues to remember what is happening 
as we speak. Leader McConnell was on the floor talking about premium 
increases announced by Blue Cross Blue Shield in Maryland. What he 
failed to mention was the head of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maryland 
came out and specifically said that a big part of the reason they were 
asking for major premium increases was because of the actions President 
Trump is taking right now to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. They 
were not sure the individual mandate was going to be enforced. Why? 
Because in an Executive order this President signed, he directed his 
agencies to undermine the Affordable Care Act and to withdraw many of 
the fees levied on Americans, such as that which comes if you don't get 
insurance. He stopped advertising for the exchanges for the last week. 
We were on target to have more people sign up this year than ever 
before; but then, in the last week, the President withdrew all the 
money for the exchanges. Right now, as we speak, this administration is 
bleeding out the money for insurers to help pay for cost sharing within 
the exchanges 1 month at a time, not telegraphing if there is going to 
be any certainty for that funding in the future.
  The President is undermining and sabotaging the ACA every single day. 
The reason insurers are passing along premium increases or considering 
withdrawing from these exchanges is because of this sabotage the 
administration is undertaking of our entire healthcare system. I hope 
these behind-closed-door meetings take into account all of the promises 
this President and our Republican friends made that they would repeal 
the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something better. 
Everything we hear is that the product that emerged out of the House of 
Representatives--the product that may emerge out of the Senate--
violates every single one of these promises.
  We await the ability to work together, Republicans and Democrats, to 
preserve what works in the healthcare system, to fix what doesn't work, 
and to hold our Republican friends and the President of the United 
States to their promises.
  I yield back.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there are 20 minutes 
of postcloture time remaining, equally divided between the chairman and 
the ranking member of the Committee on Finance, prior to a vote on the 
Lighthizer nomination.
  The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I thank my colleague and good friend, 
Chairman Hatch, for his courtesies. We have worked very closely 
together on this nomination. This was a challenging task, and I thank 
Chairman Hatch for his cooperation.
  Mr. Lighthizer needed a waiver because he had represented foreign 
interests. It was extremely important that we work with Senator Manchin 
and other colleagues to address the enormous needs of the miners, and 
we had a whole host of Members with a variety of extremely important 
trade issues--matters like steel, aluminum, and digital goods in our 
part of the world; we also care about softwood lumber tremendously.
  Chairman Hatch and I worked with all the members of the Finance 
Committee. It was a unanimous vote, and I thank him for his 
cooperation.
  We have talked a little bit about trade and what a modern trade 
policy is going to look like. The Lighthizer discussion is the 
beginning of the debate on trade in this Congress, and I have tried to 
be clear about my agenda. My agenda is to create more red, white, and 
blue jobs in America--high-skilled, high-waged jobs. Very often, the 
trade jobs pay better than do the nontrade jobs because there is more 
value added in them; there is a higher level of productivity. So my 
view is, as we set out on this journey to get more high-skilled, high-
waged jobs, look to Asia where there are going to be 1 billion middle-
class people there in a few years. What we ought to do is focus on 
growing them in the United States, making them in the United States, 
adding value to them in the United States, and then shipping them 
somewhere. That is my idea of a modern trade agenda.
  So far, the administration's trade agenda amounts to a muddle of 140-
character tweets, mixed messages, and overhyped announcements that seem 
to be backed by not much substance. I think we are going to have to put 
together a coherent strategy quickly to promote our exports and fight 
back against trade cheats. That is not exactly what we have seen from 
the administration to date.
  We can almost suffer whiplash from the reports about what happens 
with various trade deals. Late at night, it was reported that the 
President is about to pull the United States out of NAFTA; then 
suddenly there is another

[[Page S2905]]

report saying he has changed his mind after a conversation with the 
Canadians. Next, at a moment of extreme tension on the Korean 
Peninsula, it is reported that the President is threatening to pull out 
of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement. Then suddenly that threat is walked 
back. So the President has made some major statements with respect to 
trade deals on the books, but he has yet to give us much in the way of 
specifics on how he would like to bring that about.
  If one is trying to run a business in Oregon or around the United 
States that exports to foreign markets, it is pretty hard not to feel 
rattled and confused by some of the President's statements and tweets 
about trade. One might even make the decision not to invest and not to 
hire additional workers. I hope the President will soon see that some 
of the uncertainty and confusion that has been stoked as a negotiating 
tactic is not a recipe for creating red, white, and blue jobs.
  I do think Robert Lighthizer knows what the challenge is really all 
about, and I want to tell him I have appreciated our conversations. He 
is a real pro at this. I have appreciated his views, particularly on 
digital goods, which I think are so important to our burgeoning 
technology sector, and his views on Canadian lumber.
  I would also like to state at this time that I think very highly of 
Secretary Ross. He has been very constructive in our conversations, 
particularly on Canadian softwood lumber.
  Obviously, the U.S. Trade Representative will lead our country in 
trade negotiations, and that will be Mr. Lighthizer's role. The bulk of 
the expertise of trade does reside within his office. When Mr. 
Lighthizer is confirmed, as I hope he will be and expect he will be, 
this expertise will no longer be silent.
  I will wrap up simply by way of saying that the United States may be 
the world's largest economy, but it represents only 4 percent of the 
world's consumers. Red, white, and blue jobs in the United States 
depend on our ability to sell to the other 96 percent. The number of 
middle-class households around the world is going to double over the 
next decade. This represents a lot of potential buying power for the 
American brand, the Oregon brand. The fact is, people all over the 
world love buying the goods and the services we make. It is going to 
take a lot of hard work to smash through the barriers that block 
American-made goods and fight back against trade cheats.
  Lastly, the trade rules in many particulars are out of date, so we 
have a lot of work to do to promote labor rights, combat human 
trafficking, crack down on trade in illegally taking wildlife and 
endangered species, and get the trade system updated so it includes 
things like digital goods and small businesses that now have an 
international reach, which is especially important. The trading system 
has to respond more quickly to countries that break the rules or are 
unfairly producing basic commodities, such as steel and aluminum. This 
is especially true with respect to China.
  As policymakers, we must continue to take an honest look at the trade 
rules and fix what doesn't work so that American workers aren't left 
behind. It is long past time to invest more resources in monitoring, 
litigating, and enforcing our trading partners' obligations, including 
China's. The United States must respond more aggressively and more 
rapidly to threats to U.S. workers and businesses.
  There was a recent example of how this is done right when the 
Commerce Department said ``enough'' to Canada's unfairly traded 
softwood lumber. The steps the Commerce Department took were undeniably 
warranted after mill towns in Oregon and many other States have been 
clobbered over the last few decades. My first preference is a long-term 
agreement with Canada, but if they are not going to come to the table, 
I will keep fighting for our mills and mill jobs, and I will insist the 
administration do the same.
  The U.S. needs to carry that same steadfast approach across the 
board--getting trade enforcement right is not just a lumber issue. That 
means more resources for boots on the ground: investigators and 
enforcers. Not just at the office of the USTR but also at Customs and 
Border Protection and the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Labor, 
State, and Interior, where investigators are tasked with stopping trade 
in illegally taken wildlife. Bottom line, trade enforcement requires 
all hands on deck. If you boost trade enforcers at one agency only to 
wipe out the trade enforcers at another, you will fail to protect 
American workers from unfair or illegal imports.
  So I will be looking closely at the budget that the President submits 
to determine whether he is serious about delivering real results on 
trade enforcement or whether the campaign rhetoric and dramatic tweets 
are just a bunch of hot air,
  In recognition of the need for a new approach on trade enforcement, 
Congress recently passed new laws that give the President better tools 
to respond when trading partners don't follow the rules. It also passed 
legislation to strengthen domestic laws that enable the U.S. to 
unilaterally respond when American jobs are under threat, and it 
provided new direction should the President wish to negotiate new trade 
agreements or renegotiate past ones. In the coming months, I expect 
that those tools will not just sit and gather dust while the 
administration talks tough with respect to trade.
  It takes consistency, strategy and a lot of hard work to get trade 
done right. I have confidence that Robert Lighthizer will work to 
pursue a trade agenda that is coherent, constructive, and will deliver 
for American workers, and I will support his nomination.
  However, I want to express reservation on one issue pertaining to 
this nominee. During his confirmation hearing, Senator Stabenow asked 
Mr. Lighthizer how he would deal with situations in which he was 
conducting trade negotiations with a country in which the President has 
business interests. Senator Stabenow wanted to make sure that the 
President's personal financial interests wouldn't take precedence over 
the public interest. Mr. Lighthizer seemed surprised by the question, 
saying, quote, ``the idea that this President would do anything 
untoward is . . . far out of the realm of possibility.''
  I would like to put Mr. Lighthizer on notice. This is a legitimate 
issue, and I share Senator Stabenow's concern. Never before has this 
country faced a circumstance in which our trade representative will be 
negotiating trade agreements with countries in which the President or 
his family have active business interests, whether it is trademarks, 
golf courses, or construction deals. I have introduced a bill requiring 
the President, when initiating trade negotiations, to disclose whether 
he has business interests in the country that we will be negotiating 
with. I intend to press this issue as trade negotiations move forward. 
Trade should be about fighting on behalf of American workers and 
businesses. It is not about the President's bottom line.
  Finally, on an issue that has been closely related to this 
nomination, I want to commend several of my colleagues for working 
together to provide relief to retired mineworkers regarding their 
healthcare costs. Senator Manchin has been a crusader on behalf of the 
mineworkers. Hardly a week went by over the last several months when I 
didn't hear from Joe Manchin about how important it was to get the 
mineworkers the healthcare benefits they have earned. And he has worked 
hand-in-hand with Senators Brown, Casey, and Warner, all of whom serve 
on the Finance Committee. Chairman Hatch deserves thanks for working 
with us to get this across the finish line as well.
  I see that my good friend, Chairman Hatch, is here to make his 
remarks. I thank him for the cooperation he has shown. I think the 
interests of both sides in processing this nomination have been 
advanced.
  A lot could have gone awry here. We had challenges with getting the 
waiver Mr. Lighthizer needed. We needed the space to make sure the 
miners were protected. Members had strong views.
  I thank Chairman Hatch for the diplomacy and cooperation he showed me 
and our side. I think that is why there was a very large vote for Mr. 
Lighthizer in the committee.
  I will be voting aye this afternoon and look forward to the 
Chairman's wrap-up remarks.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.

[[Page S2906]]

  

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I thank my colleague, who is an excellent 
person to work with. We enjoy each other and enjoy working together. We 
are getting a lot done, and I appreciate his kind remarks here today.
  I rise today in support of the nomination of Robert Lighthizer to be 
the next United States Trade Representative. Mr. Lighthizer was 
reported out of the Finance Committee unanimously--Democrats and 
Republicans--and I hope he receives a similarly strong bipartisan vote 
here on the floor.
  By statute, Congress has designated the USTR as the primary official 
for developing and coordinating U.S. trade policy, advising the 
President on trade, and leading international trade negotiations. The 
USTR must also report directly to and consult closely with Congress on 
a wide range of issues affecting international commerce. The USTR is 
Congress's first and most important point of contact when it comes to 
trade policy. Therefore, in order for Congress to have an effective 
voice in shaping our Nation's trade agenda, we need to have a fully 
staffed and functional USTR office.
  For that reason, I have been very critical of the pointless and 
unprecedented delays we have faced in filling this vacancy, in filling 
this position, due to some unreasonable demands from some of my friends 
on the other side of the aisle. This delay has served only to weaken 
Congress's position in trade policy and has hampered our ability to 
provide the new administration with substantive input. Despite this 
ill-advised delay, I am pleased that Mr. Lighthizer's nomination has 
finally been brought to the floor, and I thank my colleagues for that.
  Mr. Lighthizer's years of experience in public service, including as 
staff director for the Senate Finance Committee, as Deputy USTR during 
the Reagan administration, and in private practice, make him extremely 
well qualified to serve as our Nation's representative. Mr. 
Lighthizer's knowledge and experience will be vital to his service in 
this position and vital to our country.
  Put simply, growing our economy and creating better paying jobs for 
American workers require increased U.S. trade. Toward that end, I have 
spoken to Mr. Lighthizer about the importance of removing trade 
barriers for American businesses, workers, consumers, and, where those 
barriers have already been removed, maintaining the status quo.
  I know there is quite a bit of discussion going around about 
potential changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. As I told 
Mr. Lighthizer, there are definitely opportunities to update and 
improve NAFTA, but it is important that the administration follow the 
spirit of the Hippocratic Oath: First do no harm.
  Mr. Lighthizer and I have also discussed the importance of protecting 
U.S. intellectual property rights around the globe through strong 
enforcement and better rules in trade agreements. I believe he 
recognizes the importance of this priority, and I will work to ensure 
that this issue plays a prominent role in our future trade 
negotiations.
  I have also made clear to Mr. Lighthizer that I believe consultation 
on trade policy between Congress and the administration is essential, 
particularly if our agreements are going to adhere to the standards 
Congress put forward in the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities 
and Accountability Act of 2015, the statute that included the most 
recent reauthorization of trade promotion authority.
  On this key point, I believe Mr. Lighthizer and I are in agreement. 
As U.S. Trade Representative, Mr. Lighthizer will have the task of 
holding our trading partners accountable, ensuring that Americans don't 
pay more for the products their families need and helping American 
businesses and workers sell more of their goods and services around the 
globe.
  This is not an easy job, but I am confident that Mr. Lighthizer is up 
to the task. As chairman of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over 
our Nation's trade policy, I am committed to working with him to ensure 
that we advance a trade agenda that will grow our economy, create more 
jobs, and expand market access around the globe for America's farmers, 
ranchers, and manufacturers.
  Mr. President, I suggest we vote on Mr. Lighthizer.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. All postcloture time has expired.
  The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Lighthizer 
nomination?
  Mr. WICKER. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from West Virginia (Mrs. Capito), the Senator from Georgia (Mr. 
Isakson), the Senator from Alaska (Ms. Murkowski), and the Senator from 
Alaska (Mr. Sullivan).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from West Virginia (Mrs. 
Capito) would have voted ``yea.''
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 82, nays 14, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 127 Ex.]

                                YEAS--82

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

                                NAYS--14

     Blumenthal
     Gardner
     Gillibrand
     Harris
     Markey
     McCain
     Merkley
     Reed
     Sanders
     Sasse
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Warren
     Whitehouse

                             NOT VOTING--4

     Capito
     Isakson
     Murkowski
     Sullivan
  The nomination was confirmed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motion to 
reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, and the 
President will be immediately notified of the Senate's action.

                          ____________________