May 23, 2017 - Issue: Vol. 163, No. 89 — Daily Edition115th Congress (2017 - 2018) - 1st Session
EXECUTIVE CALENDAR--Continued; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 89
(Senate - May 23, 2017)
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[Pages S3082-S3092] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] EXECUTIVE CALENDAR--Continued The PRESIDING OFFICER. The President pro tempore, the Senator from Utah. International Data Privacy Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss international data privacy. This is a critically important issue that has become all the more important over the years as we become more sophisticated. It has become all the more pressing in recent months as a result of court decisions impacting law enforcement's ability to access electronic communications overseas. I don't think it would surprise anyone to hear me say that our privacy laws have not kept pace with technological developments. The primary statute that governs law enforcement's ability to access electronic data, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, was enacted over 30 years ago--long before most people had even heard of email or the internet. ECPA was drafted in a world in which electronic data was stored on personal computers or on servers located in offices or homes. It presumes a world where data is in one location and where in order to access data, a person simply goes to the relevant location and retrieves it. But that is not the world we live in, at least not today. Nowadays, much of our data is stored not on home or office computers but in the cloud, a network of remote servers spread throughout the world that allows us to access data from literally anywhere. The rise of cloud and remote network computing has transformed the way companies and individuals store data. No longer is data stored on sites or in one discrete location; rather, data pertaining to a single individual or even to a single document may be stored at multiple sites, spread across countries or even across continents. This has created all sorts of complications for our laws. ECPA requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant before it can access many types of electronic communications. It also prohibits disclosure to foreign entities. Warrants, however, traditionally have stopped at the water's edge. A judge here in Washington can issue a warrant authorizing law enforcement to search an office here in Washington but cannot issue a warrant for searches in London or Paris. So what is law enforcement to do in a world of cloud computing where pieces of the same electronic document might be stored in Washington, London, and Paris? One possibility is to say that as long as the data is accessible from the United States--that is, so long as you can retrieve it by logging on to a computer somewhere in the United States--that is all that matters; law enforcement can order its disclosure. This sort of maximalist approach, however, brings with it a whole host of problems. To begin with, it pays scant attention to the laws and interests of other countries, including our closest allies. Other countries, it turns out, have data privacy laws of their own, and just like ECPA, sometimes these laws prohibit disclosure to foreign entities, including foreign law enforcement. So to say U.S. law enforcement can compel disclosure and data stored anywhere in the world so long as that data is accessible in the United States is really to say that U.S. law enforcement can override the laws of other countries. More particularly, it is to say U.S. law enforcement can order individuals or companies that store data overseas to violate the privacy laws of other countries. This is unfair to service providers who may find themselves on the wrong side of the law no matter which side they choose and does little to help international relations. It also undermines trust, drives customers to foreign competitors, and undermines the privacy of U.S. citizens by emboldening other countries with less robust privacy regimes that similarly seek unlimited extra territorial access to data. Another possibility is to say that if the data is stored in the United States, then law enforcement may access it, but if it is stored outside our borders, it is off limits. This is essentially the current state of affairs following a decision last summer by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that ECPA warrants do not reach data stored abroad. Under the Second Circuit's decision, U.S. law enforcement can use compulsory process to access data stored in the United States but must work through diplomatic channels to obtain data stored overseas. This sort of domestic storage regime has the benefit of avoiding the conflict-of-laws problems I have just described, but it also has very real drawbacks. To begin with, it impedes law enforcement's ability to solve and prevent crime in cases where the needed data is stored outside the United States, even when the creator of the data is an American, the service provider storing the data is an American, and the crime being investigated took place here in the United States. The mere happenstance that the data is stored beyond our borders, even though it may constantly or instantly be accessed from within our borders, places it off limits. Service providers' varying business practices in moving and holding data determine whether an investigation moves forward. This sort of domestic storage regime also forces U.S. law enforcement to work through diplomatic channels, which sometimes are slow and sometimes very cumbersome and in many instances less protective of privacy than U.S. criminal process, which requires a warrant from a neutral magistrate and a finding of probable cause. [[Page S3083]] The upshot is that neither of these regimes is satisfactory. A maximalist regime that extends U.S. law enforcement jurisdiction worldwide creates serious conflict-of-law problems and places U.S. service providers in impossible positions. A more modest domestic storage regime, by contrast, hinders law enforcement's ability to solve crime and protect us from harm, based solely on where a particular document or piece of data happens to be stored at a given moment in time. What we need is a sensible regime with clear rules that determine access based on factors that actually matter to the person whose data is being sought. Privacy laws are meant to protect people, not abstractions. We ought not get bogged down with mindless formalism. Most people could care less whether their data is stored at site A or site B or country A or country B as long as it is easily accessible and has robust privacy protections. At the same time, we need to take proper account of the laws and interests of other countries, especially our allies. We ought to avoid, where possible, trampling on other nations' sovereignty or ignoring their own citizens' legitimate claims to privacy, whether here in the United States or abroad. For this reason, I believe the right approach to international data privacy is to ground the analysis on the location of the person whose data is being sought. It is, after all, the person who has rights and the person whose interests are devalued when data is obtained without proper process. Accordingly, I have proposed legislation called the International Communications Privacy Act, or ICPA, that sets clear rules for when and how U.S. law enforcement can access electronic data based on the location and nationality of the person whose data is being sought. I intend to introduce an updated version of this legislation in the very near future. Here is what the updated version of this legislation will say: If a person is a U.S. national or located in the United States, then law enforcement may compel disclosure no matter where the data is stored, provided the data is accessible from a U.S. computer and law enforcement uses proper criminal process. If a person is not a U.S. national, however, and is not located in the United States, then different rules apply. These rules are founded on three principles: respect, comity, and reciprocity. First, respect. If U.S. law enforcement wishes to access data belonging to a non-U.S. national located outside the United States, then law enforcement must notify the person's country of citizenship and provide that country an opportunity to object to the disclosure. This protocol shows respect to the other country and gives the country an opportunity to assert the privacy rights of its citizen. Second, comity. If, after receiving notice, the other country lodges an objection, the U.S. court undertakes a comity analysis to determine whose interests should rightfully prevail--the U.S. interests in obtaining the data or the foreign interests in preventing disclosure. As part of this analysis, the court can consider such factors as the location of the crime, the seriousness of the crime, the importance of the data to the investigation, and the possibility of accessing the data through other means. This analysis prevents an obstinate foreign power from impeding investigations without good reason or where the U.S. interests in disclosure are particularly strong. Third, reciprocity. In order to receive notice and an opportunity to object, the other country must provide reciprocal notice-and-objection rights to the United States. The country must also provide robust privacy protections within its own borders and satisfy international human rights standards. These requirements ensure that the U.S. provides its own citizens an equal or greater level of protection against foreign requests for data. They also offer incentives to foreign governments to properly safeguard the data of U.S. citizens within their jurisdiction. Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism will hold a hearing on law enforcement access to data stored abroad. That hearing, I hope, will elucidate many of the principles I just described. Soon after the hearing, I will reintroduce the International Communications Privacy Act. The bill as reintroduced will incorporate feedback from law enforcement and privacy groups. I intend to push very hard for this legislation and will seek every opportunity to do so. I want my colleagues to know that I will be pursuing any and all legislative vehicles to get it across the finish line. In the words of Utah businessman Jeff Hadfield, writing in the Deseret News, ``It's imperative that Congress quickly address the ambiguity within our current law. As every company becomes a software company, we need legislation that supports our companies' ability to store data overseas, protects our individual privacy rights, and helps U.S. law enforcement do its important job.'' I could not agree more. The International Communications Privacy Act provides critical guidance to law enforcement, while respecting the laws and interests of our allies. It brings a set of simple, straightforward rules to a chaotic area of law and creates an example for other countries to follow. It is a balanced approach and a smart approach, and it deserves this body's full support. Mr. President, on another matter, I wish to register my strong support today for the confirmation of John Sullivan to be Deputy Secretary of State. The nomination of John Sullivan is another example of President Trump choosing the best and brightest for national security positions in his administration. I have known John Sullivan since he was confirmed as Deputy Secretary of Commerce during the George Bush administration. He excelled in this position, which bears many similarities to the Deputy Secretary of State role to which he has been nominated. For example, as Deputy Secretary of Commerce, John was responsible for the day-to-day operations and management of a major Federal agency. As Deputy Secretary of State, he will assume the same managerial duties, but for a different Federal agency. In facilitating international trade agreements at the Department of Commerce, John Sullivan also honed his negotiating abilities, developing a diplomatic skill set that will be critical in his new role at the State Department. As the chairman of the Finance Committee, I closely followed John's tenure at Commerce. I was consistently impressed with his ability to promote American interests abroad while maintaining constructive relations with our trading partners. I have no doubt that he will continue to serve our Nation well as the Deputy Secretary of State. In addition to his management expertise, John Sullivan is a practicing attorney with the law firm of Mayer Brown LLP. There, too, he has developed a reputation for excellence, especially in the area of national security law. In John Sullivan we have a proven manager, a seasoned diplomat, and a sharp policy mind who will bring strong leadership to the State Department. In John Sullivan, President Trump and Secretary Tillerson have made an inspired choice. Secretary Tillerson is doing a tremendous job at the State Department. With John Sullivan as his Deputy, even more can be accomplished. In addition, I would like to thank John Sullivan for his willingness to serve. Of course, I would be remiss if I did not also thank his family--especially his wife of 29 years, Grace Rodriguez, who has provided invaluable support to John throughout his public service. It is unlikely John would be here today without their consent and their constant support. Few have the skills that John Sullivan possesses. Fewer still possess the patriotism, professionalism, and integrity he has displayed over a distinguished career. He is the best man for the job, which is why I urge my colleagues to confirm him without delay. I appreciate this opportunity to make these points on the floor. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico. Healthcare Legislation Mr. UDALL. Mr. President, today many of my colleagues will come to the floor to speak about the devastating impact that TrumpCare will have on rural communities. I rise to join them in speaking on this topic and on the many other serious flaws in the Republicans' bill to replace ObamaCare. [[Page S3084]] When he was elected, President Trump promised he would provide healthcare for everyone, but President Trump and our Republican friends have turned their backs on that promise. The Republican healthcare proposal would put insurance companies back in the driver's seat, and that means less quality and more costs for all of us. Rural communities, working families, and people with medical conditions would be hit the hardest. Today, we got a taste of how devastating TrumpCare would be. The President's budget proposal slashes billions of dollars for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. President Trump takes direct aim at bipartisan programs that have made historic progress for kids, for the disabled, and for the elderly. Former Senator Hubert Humphrey once said: ``The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.'' When Senator Humphrey spoke those words, he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died a few months later. His words are just as meaningful today. TrumpCare fails Senator Humphrey's moral test. It doesn't cover more people or more services or improve healthcare. It raises costs and reduces quality. Compared to the ACA--or ObamaCare--TrumpCare would be a disaster for families in my home State. In New Mexico, tens of thousands of people have healthcare, thanks to ObamaCare and the Medicaid expansion. Before the Affordable Care Act, New Mexico had one of the highest rates of uninsured in the country. It was almost 20 percent, at 19.6 percent. That rate has been cut in half to 8.9 percent. Approximately 300,000 more New Mexicans now have healthcare. And each one of these 300,000 people has a story about how having healthcare has made a difference--even saved lives. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans now have essential health benefits, including doctor visits, hospital care, prescription drugs, pregnancy and childbirth, and mental health services, and a range of preventive services, like mammograms and other cancer screenings, are available at no cost. I am not saying that the ACA is perfect. Premiums are still too high, deductibles are increasing too much, and we still must bring down the cost of prescription drugs. We absolutely need to work to bring down costs. But, on balance, the Affordable Care Act passes all tests--many with flying colors. TrumpCare does not come close. TrumpCare gets an F. Test No. 1: Does TrumpCare increase the number of Americans who will have healthcare? No, it decreases coverage and decreases it dramatically. According to the most recent figures from the CBO, 24 million Americans will lose healthcare coverage under TrumpCare over the next decade. TrumpCare would dismantle the Medicaid expansion provisions that help so many working Americans, including 265,000 people in New Mexico, and TrumpCare would hit rural communities the hardest. The National Rural Health Association has said that TrumpCare ``does nothing to improve the health care crisis in rural America, and will lead to poorer rural health outcomes, more uninsured and an increase in the rural hospital closure crisis.'' Rural areas like the ones we have in New Mexico have more elderly and disabled people, and fewer people have insurance through their jobs. TrumpCare is the hardest on these groups. Rural hospitals are already struggling. They will have an even harder time keeping their doors open. Many New Mexicans would have to drive an hour or more if their local hospital closed. And not only would closed hospitals mean less access to healthcare, it would also hurt the economy. In rural areas, hospitals are a big employer. If they close, the rural economy takes a hit too. The administrator of the Guadalupe County Hospital in New Mexico, a fine woman by the name of Christina Campos, fears what might happen if TrumpCare becomes law. She is urging me to protect access to care in rural areas. Guadalupe County is one of our smallest counties by population. The hospital's uninsured payer rate declined from 14 percent to 4 percent from 2014 to 2016, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and its uncompensated care increased 23 percent in that same period. I can tell my colleagues that I will fight tooth and nail to keep residents in our rural areas insured and to keep rural hospitals in New Mexico open. Test No. 2: Does TrumpCare increase coverage of healthcare services? No, it fails this test too. Under the ACA, insurance companies must cover essential healthcare services, period. But under TrumpCare, starting in 2020, States can get a waiver and define their own essential benefits for individual and small group plans. So States would be able to cut the benefits that people count on--and that are making patients healthier. Test No. 3: Does TrumpCare make healthcare more affordable? It doesn't. It takes aim at the most vulnerable working and low-income families and seniors--the people most in need of care--and it cuts access to healthcare out from under them. If you are older and poorer, you lose big under TrumpCare. If you are young and wealthy, you win. What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong is that it is unjust. And it is bad for healthcare costs over the long run. Trump and the Republicans are proposing drastic changes to our healthcare system--and they are changes for the worse. They want to go backward to a time when insurance companies could decide who gets healthcare and who doesn't. Finally, TrumpCare would hurt anyone with a preexisting condition. One of the most popular provisions of ObamaCare is that it prohibits insurance companies from dropping you if you get sick and from refusing to cover you because of a preexisting condition. A preexisting condition could be something serious like cancer, but insurance companies have considered everything from childbirth to hand warts a preexisting condition. Under TrumpCare, States would be able to decide whether to get a waiver from those patient protections. And then we would go back to that time when insurance companies decided who could get healthcare and who couldn't. States would have to set up high-risk pools to provide people with the option of insurance in catastrophic situations. But in the best cases, high-risk pools wouldn't protect many people from going bankrupt just to get healthcare, and TrumpCare wouldn't provide nearly enough funding for States to run them successfully. Take Alexis from Albuquerque. Alexis is here in the photograph with her husband. Alexis had a stroke and brain surgeries when she was 28 years old. Even though she had no lingering effects, she was denied insurance in the private market and had to get insurance in New Mexico's high-risk pool. According to Alexis, ``It broke us financially.'' Alexis now has affordable health insurance with the help of the Affordable Care Act subsidies. Like most people, she doesn't want to risk going broke just to get healthcare. She shouldn't have to. Finally, I want to tell you about a 1-year-old from Albuquerque, NM, whose name is Rafe. Rafe was born with cortical visual impairment--a kind of legal blindness--and significant developmental delays. His parents--Jessica, his mom, and his father, Sam, a veteran--have been able to access the intensive medical care, early intervention services, medical equipment, and therapy he needs through a combination of the military's insurance and Medicaid. But TrumpCare jeopardizes Medicaid by turning it into a block grant for States, which will most certainly result in deep cuts to Medicaid. It threatens Rafe's chances of a better life. The President promised he would keep protections for people with preexisting conditions--people who are sick. His broken promises can hurt tens of millions of Americans. In the end, TrumpCare is not a real healthcare bill. It is a tax relief bill for the richest 1 percent. The CBO estimates that TrumpCare would cut taxes by $346 billion over 10 years, at the expense of the healthcare of working families and seniors. [[Page S3085]] Our priorities for healthcare reform should be increasing coverage, increasing the services provided, making people healthier, and providing affordable healthcare. I strongly and unequivocally support all Americans having healthcare. Let's get to that goal, and let's get to that goal now. Ninety-one percent of the American people are insured, thanks to the steps taken under the Affordable Care Act. Rather than repealing it, let's build on its strengths so 100 percent of people can afford to see a doctor when they are sick. We can do this. We can do better. Let's ensure that Americans in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the disabled, have the right to healthcare so that America meets the moral test of good governance. I yield the floor. I suggest the absence of a quorum. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll. The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll. Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, if there is one thing that has become clear, it is that the ObamaCare status quo is not sustainable. Prices continue to soar while choices are rapidly dwindling. Between 2016 and 2017, the average premium for a midlevel ObamaCare plan on the Federal exchange went up 25 percent--25 percent for just 1 year. Let's remember that this is on top of years--year after year--of premium increases under ObamaCare. How many families can easily absorb a 25-percent premium increase? I would submit that not many. Again, that is just for 1 year. ObamaCare rate hikes aren't going anywhere. Numbers for next year are starting to emerge, and they are not looking good. Connecticut's ObamaCare insurers are requesting average premium increases in the double digits. One Connecticut insurer has requested an average rate hike of 33.8 percent--33.8 percent. In Virginia, one insurer has requested an average rate increase of 38 percent. Another has requested an average 45-percent rate hike. In Maryland, average increases range anywhere from 18 percent to almost 59 percent. One insurer has requested a staggering 150-percent rate increase--150 percent. Obviously, these kinds of price increases are unaffordable for most families, but ObamaCare isn't leaving them any options. Along with soaring prices, choices on the exchanges are rapidly dwindling. Roughly one-third of U.S. counties have just one choice of health insurer on their exchange for 2017. Several States--including Alabama, Oklahoma, Alaska, and Wyoming--have just one choice of insurer for their entire State, and things are only getting worse. In 2018, a number of counties may lack an ObamaCare insurer at all. In February, health insurer Humana announced its decision to completely withdraw from the ObamaCare exchanges for 2018, and 2 weeks ago, Aetna, which had already sharply reduced its participation in the exchanges for 2017, announced its decision to fully exit and completely get out of the market in 2018. That leaves the Nebraska and Delaware ObamaCare exchanges with just one insurer for 2018. UnitedHealthcare is leaving Virginia, and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is withdrawing from Iowa. In the wake of Aetna and Wellmark's decision, Medica, the last ObamaCare insurer for most of Iowa, announced it will likely leave the State in 2018. That would leave 94 out of 99 counties in Iowa with no ObamaCare insurer next year--all but five counties in the State of Iowa with no ObamaCare insurer. Iowa families with ObamaCare subsidies would have no place to spend them. As my colleague Senator Alexander likes to point out, that is like having a bus ticket in a town where there are no buses running. Dwindling healthcare choices aren't limited to the ObamaCare exchanges, either. Aetna is not only withdrawing from the exchanges. It is also withdrawing from the non-ObamaCare individual health insurance markets in several States. More than one insurance CEO has suggested that ObamaCare is in a death spiral, and I would have to say it is pretty hard to disagree. Combine soaring premiums with a steady insurer exodus, and sooner or later you get a partial or complete exchange collapse. Then there are the other ObamaCare problems--like deductibles which are sometimes so high people can't afford to actually use their healthcare plans; or, narrow plan networks with few provider choices. ObamaCare may have been well-intentioned, but good intentions don't make up for a lack of good policy--and ObamaCare was not good policy. ObamaCare took a healthcare system with problems and it made things worse. It is time to repeal this fatally flawed law and replace it with real healthcare reform. Three weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed an ObamaCare repeal and replacement bill. The House's legislation repeals ObamaCare's tax increases, penalties, and mandates, and starts the process of restoring control of healthcare to States and individuals. My colleagues in the House have made a good start, and I am looking forward to building on their bill here in the United States Senate. We have a lot of Members with good healthcare ideas, and we are going to work hard to produce a bill that will start the process of giving the American people real healthcare reform. ObamaCare is failing, and it is failing rapidly. Our Democrat colleagues need to stop pretending this law is ever going to do what it was supposed to do and come to the table to work with us on real healthcare reform. There is no question our healthcare system has problems, but ObamaCare is not, and it never has been, the solution. Real reform is possible, though, and that is what we are focused on now here in the United States Senate--the kind of reform that will actually drive down prices, that will put patients and their doctors-- not the government--in charge of healthcare decisions, that will empower States to embrace the solutions that are right for the citizens in their States and will give Americans more choices and real healthcare freedom. That is the kind of healthcare reform Republicans are committed to delivering for the American people. I yield the floor. I suggest the absence of a quorum. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll. The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll. Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hoeven). Without objection, it is so ordered. Medicaid Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I come to the floor to talk about the President's proposed budget as it relates to Medicaid and the fact that it is just a war on Medicaid; that is, it continues the wrongheaded ideas that have been proposed in the House bill on healthcare reform and takes that and continues to make cuts to Medicaid that are unsustainable for our healthcare system. The President's budget would impose a block grant or per capita cap on States in 2020 in exchange for so-called flexibility. I haven't met one State administrator of healthcare in our State who says they need more flexibility. They have a lot of flexibility on Medicaid currently, but they know this is just a budget cap and a budget cut. The budget would result in $610 billion in cuts to States, in addition to what would happen if they were successful in passing the House bill in the Senate. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities put it, the Trump budget cuts Medicaid ``considerably more deeply than the House bill's per capita cap proposal would do.'' No doubt what the budget is proposing from the President today and what our House colleagues have proposed on healthcare means more damage for healthcare and more damage for Medicaid. Let's be more specific. Medicaid for healthcare is about children. It is about seniors. It is about the disabled. It is about working families. It is about young people. Medicaid covers half of the births and the majority of long-term care stays. [[Page S3086]] What people may not realize is that the President's budget cut to Medicaid also cuts children's healthcare, as a new study reveals, by at least $43 billion, according to Avalere Health. That is taking healthcare away from children, poor children, who need access to healthcare. Additionally, the budget impacts 1.75 million veterans who also get healthcare through Medicaid. How can we possibly be standing here with a budget proposal by the President of the United States--after he promised not to cut Medicaid-- that not only proposes to cut Medicaid but cuts childrens' and veterans' healthcare when they need it most? Medicaid is a lifeline for people who can't get covered or can't get a fair deal. It is a highly cost-effective, dynamic, and innovative program that has worked well, and Medicaid is a winning economic strategy for how to help families get out of poverty. It is one of the most successful anti-poverty programs in the United States and the second largest program to combat extreme poverty. Its expansion in Washington has helped create jobs indirectly and directly and has saved our State about $353 million in our State budget. It injects billions into the economy and supports our high- wage, high-skill jobs throughout the healthcare economy. As we know, our colleagues, in the House draconian healthcare act, would for the first time cut Medicaid's successful program by introducing a cap that would result in reductions every year to the Medicaid Program. Regardless of who needs access, regardless of those children, regardless of those veterans, it would continue to push down Medicaid funds by more each year. I have said to my colleagues in the House that there are far more innovative ways to help our healthcare delivery system that are cost- effective, but simply cutting veterans or families or children off of Medicaid is not the way to do it. The President's budget released today would reinforce this permanent cap. Currently, Medicaid is a needs-based partnership between the States and the Federal Government. During economic recessions, natural disasters, or public health emergencies, States know they can count on the Federal Government. Under what has been proposed in the House, the per capita cap would give States only a fixed amount and start reducing the amount of money each year. It would leave a tsunami of seniors and others without new technologies, prescription drugs, or tools to address new healthcare threats. There is nothing about it that is reform. It is not innovation. It is simply a budget mechanism to cut Medicaid. I don't know how the President, given that he promised before not to cut Medicaid could do this. He said: ``I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.'' If that is what the President tweeted, if that is what he said he was going to do, why is he now proposing a budget that actually cuts Medicaid? We do not want to throw 600,000 Medicaid beneficiaries off of coverage in my State--and 14 million across the country--and take $1.4 billion out of Washington State's economy every year. These are numbers according to the Congressional Budget Office's most recent estimates and estimates by the State of Washington. I think it is time to say no to the President's budget proposal. It is time to remind the President of his promise not to cut Medicaid, and it is time to stop talking about the silly idea of capping Medicaid and reducing funding to the States. I mentioned the impact on children and veterans. I also want to mention the impact on those suffering from the opioid epidemic and what we have been trying to do to treat those individuals. Also, those facilities would be in great danger in continuing to treat that population if they don't have Medicaid. So the notion that this is a smart healthcare strategy or a smart healthcare budget--it is not. It is a draconian measure that is going to leave many more Americans without healthcare. As I said, Medicaid is a successful program. The promise should be kept, and we should continue to improve the delivery system as a way to make it more cost- effective. I know we can't afford to leave sick children without access to healthcare, and now is not the time to leave veterans without the healthcare they deserve. I thank the Presiding Officer. I yield the floor. I suggest the absence of a quorum. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll. The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll. Mr. FRANKEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Strange). Without objection, it is so ordered. Healthcare Legislation Mr. FRANKEN. Mr. President, I rise to talk about the healthcare bill the House of Representatives passed and is currently being considered behind closed doors by my Republican colleagues. I travel around greater Minnesota all the time, and when the Republicans' healthcare plan first came out, I traveled to rural Minnesota to meet with rural hospitals, nursing home providers, and constituents to hear how this bill would impact their lives and communities. They are upset and they are frankly scared. In Perham, MN, I heard from a woman who was in tears, not knowing where her mother would go if the Republican plan passed and she lost her nursing home coverage. This woman and her husband work full time, but together they cannot afford the around-the-clock care her mother needs. Later, at a nursing home in Moorhead--that is in Minnesota across the river from Fargo--I also heard from a resident, Chrysann, who said this new plan wasn't about taking care of people but about ``survival of the fittest.'' The hospitals and nursing home administrators I met with said the financial blow they would receive would cause them to cut services and in some cases even close their doors. What I heard, and the real panic that I saw, is a far cry from what President Trump promised this past January when he said: ``We're going to have insurance for everybody.'' He went on to say it would be ``much less expensive and much better.'' Versions of these promises keep coming from President Trump, his Cabinet, and from his allies in Congress--coverage for more people, at lower costs, with better quality. Those things all sound great, things that might help people like Chrysann, but the fact is, the Republican bill does the exact opposite. It takes coverage away from people, it drives up costs, and it makes coverage worse. In other words, the GOP is selling this healthcare bill on false pretenses. Today I would like to explain how the Republican bill betrays each one of these three fundamental promises, and let's take them one by one. We can start by the number of people who will be covered. President Trump promised that everyone would have insurance, but an analysis of an earlier version of the healthcare bill--the first iteration of this, which is actually not as bad as this one--an earlier version analysis conducted by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that under current law the House Republican plan would leave 24 million fewer people with health insurance by 2026. That means by 2026, nearly 1 in 5 Americans under the age of 65 would be uninsured, compared to just over 1 in 10 today. One particular way the Republican bill cuts coverage is by gutting Medicaid, a program that covers more than 60 percent of all nursing home residents nationwide, covers kids with disabilities, and benefits nearly 70 million Americans. The Republican plan ends Medicaid expansion. It fundamentally undermines the structure of the Medicaid Program and cuts the program's budget by as much as one-quarter over 10 years, a more than $800 billion cut. On May 7, journalist Jake Tapper of CNN asked Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price whether the hundreds of billions of proposed cuts would result in millions of Americans not getting Medicaid. Secretary Price responded: ``Absolutely not.'' Well, that is absolutely false. When I say ``absolutely,'' I mean that literally. It doesn't take an expert to know that if you take funding away from this program, which provides health coverage for millions of Americans, the program will suffer, and the human beings who rely on Medicaid will suffer as well. Specifically, according to the [[Page S3087]] Congressional Budget Office, 14 million of those 24 million people who will lose coverage under the Republican bill would lose their health insurance because of cuts to Medicaid. ``Absolutely not,'' says the Secretary of HHS. It is bad enough to push a bill that will take away care from millions who need it; it is extra galling to be so fundamentally dishonest about it in the process. Look, the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect and we have problems that need to be fixed, but let's step back and review how far we have come because of the ACA. Since it came into effect, about 20 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage, producing the lowest uninsured rate in the history of this country. In Minnesota, the number of uninsured dropped by nearly half, with people in rural areas seeing the largest gain in coverage. As a result, we have eliminated the gap in coverage between rural and urban Minnesotans. These coverage gains have increased access to vital health services, including access to treatment for mental illness and substance use disorders, but the Republican healthcare plan throws all of these gains into jeopardy, which is particularly troubling given that the country is still in the midst of battling a devastating opioid and heroin epidemic. Researchers estimate that 2.8 million Americans with substance use disorders will lose some or all of their insurance coverage under the ACA repeal. Let's be clear. People will lose coverage as a result of the proposed Medicaid cuts; people will lose coverage because of the proposed insurance reforms; and tens of millions of more people will be uninsured and without care in the Republican plan than under current law. Let's move on to the second point; the assertion that is repeated constantly by President Trump and by others that their bill brings down costs. In his Rose Garden celebration after the Republican health care bill passed the House--not after signing it into law but sort of an unprecedented Rose Garden celebration after merely the House passed the bill--President Trump said: ``As far as I am concerned your premiums they are going to start to come down.'' When Secretary Price was asked, again by Jake Tapper, if he stands by the President's statement, he responded: ``Absolutely.'' On an earlier date, Secretary Price actually said: ``Nobody will be worse off financially'' under the Republican plan. This is just blatantly wrong. Republicans are actively sabotaging the individual market, needlessly driving up premiums in the short term, and in the long term what they are doing will result in exorbitant premium hikes for older, sicker people--so much so that CBO estimates some will eventually drop out of the market altogether. Let me explain. For years, Republicans have taken deliberate steps to sabotage the individual market. First, Senator Rubio ran through a last-minute change to the 2015 spending bill that undercut the Risk Corridor Program. The Risk Corridor Program, which was modeled after a similar program in the Medicare Part D Program, was included as part of the ACA to offset high costs incurred by insurers as they took on new enrollees in the early years of the ACA. Here is how it worked. The Federal Government would make payments to health plans that enrolled a group of people who were sicker than expected and had higher healthcare costs than the insurer predicted when it set its premiums. On the flip side, the Federal Government would receive payments from health plans that enrolled a group of people who were healthier than expected and needed less care. By limiting losses incurred by insurers, the Risk Corridor Program was designed to help make premiums more affordable for individuals and families who bought coverage on the exchange. Senator Rubio's provision undercut all of this. It severely curtailed the payments that could be made under the Risk Corridor Program, which meant that premiums soared and health insurers left the market. For example, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota lost about $220 million between 2014 and 2016 under the weakened Risk Corridor Program, which the CEO told me in a meeting late last spring was a huge setback for the company. I was dismayed but not surprised when I heard, shortly after our meeting, that the company was leaving the individual market, which affected coverage for more than 100,000 Minnesotans and contributed to average premium increases of 36 to 67 percent in Minnesota's individual market in 2017. Insurers across the country faced similar destabilizing losses, but that is not all. On top of that, for months, President Trump has been doing his part to sow uncertainty by repeatedly arguing that the individual market is in a death spiral. For example, on May 4, in response to Aetna's exit from the individual market in Virginia in 2018, President Trump shouted on Twitter: ``Death spiral!'' This is similar to his post on March 13 in which he said: ``ObamaCare is imploding. It's a disaster and 2017 will be the worst year yet, by far!'' But he is wrong. Even the CBO noted in one of its scores that barring any significant changes, the individual market would probably be stable in most areas. This confirms what other research has found, which is that this year markets were starting to stabilize, which led Standard & Poor's to issue a report last December predicting that 2017 could see ``continued improvement, with more insurers getting close to breakeven or better.'' But this didn't faze President Trump or any of the Republicans. Instead, they seem to have used these reports as a guidebook on what changes are necessary to actually cause the individual market to collapse. For example, President Trump has been playing games with payments that are due to insurance companies that reduce out-of-pocket costs for working families. On numerous occasions, he has threatened to stop these payments altogether, but in practice, he has been holding these payments hostage on a month-to-month basis to push forward other insidious reforms. Just yesterday, his administration announced that it would seek another short-term delay in the House's lawsuit, which aims to stop these payments permanently. These games are driving up the premiums for families and rattling health insurance markets. Lastly, the administration has stopped enforcing the individual mandate. As a result, we are seeing enrollment in the individual markets stall for the first time since 2010, and if this results in younger, healthier people dropping their coverage, we could see prices rise dramatically for those left behind. That is right. President Trump and the Republicans are actively attacking the insurance markets, causing premiums to go up. So if these markets falter and consumers suffer, it is because of what Republicans are doing right now and have been doing for years to undermine the individual market. Still, you will often hear Republicans talk about the need to reduce costs. They even claim that their proposed healthcare plan would lower premiums in the long run. For millions of Americans, that is not true, but the reasons why it is untrue are slightly complicated. It goes to the CBO report for the Republican healthcare plan. The March 13 CBO score says that average premiums for single people in the individual market would be 15 to 20 percent higher than under current law--than under the current ACA--in the first 2 years of its implementation. But it does say that they would be roughly 10 percent lower in 2026 under the House bill than they would be under current law. At first blush, this sounds like prices would be coming down for people, right? That is certainly what the Republican leadership wants you to think. That day, House Speaker Ryan stated: ``This report confirms that the American Health Care Act will lower premiums and improve access to quality, affordable care.'' House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy got more specific. He said: ``After 10 years, premiums will be 10 percent lower than under ObamaCare.'' But Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McCarthy are being deliberately misleading. One of the reasons that average costs go down is that the price for some people would go up so much that they couldn't afford any insurance at all. If the people facing the most expensive insurance [[Page S3088]] simply dropped out of the market, sure, average costs go down. Here is how this works: Under the Republican plan, insurers would be able to charge older enrollees five times more than younger ones, which would dramatically increase premiums for people aged 50 to 64 years old while decreasing premiums for younger people. Meanwhile, the tax credits that help older Americans afford their premiums would be drastically slashed. The result is that, especially for older people of modest means, coverage would become unaffordable, so they disappear from the market. If only younger, healthier people can buy insurance, average premiums go down, but you have actually made the system much worse and much more expensive for the people who really need it. But that is not all. The Republican plan would also allow States to waive crucial protections for patients with preexisting conditions, which means that in those States, we could go back to something like the old days when insurance companies could charge people with preexisting conditions much more--potentially as much as $25,000 more for their coverage, as estimated by the AARP. Republicans are quick to point out that their bill maintains a requirement that insurance companies have to offer plans to everyone, but it abandons the principle that the plans must be affordable, and an unaffordable plan does people about as much good as no plan at all. If you are young, if you have no preexisting condition, it might be true that your premiums will go down under the Republican plan. But for millions of Americans, though, if the Republican bill passes, insurance costs are going to go up. For many people, they will go up so high that they will be out of reach. That brings me to the third claim the Republicans are peddling--that their plan will result in higher quality coverage. In fact, Republicans want to open the door to junk insurance. In defending the House Republican plan, Secretary Price recently stated that the plan allows ``for every single person to get the access to the kind of coverage that they want.'' We have heard this before. This is a code for allowing insurers to offer garbage insurance plans that offer skimpy benefit packages and impose much higher deductibles and cost sharing on consumers. Under the Affordable Care Act, you cannot sell junk plans on the insurance exchanges. Plans have to cover the essential health benefits. This is key. Under the ACA, plans have to cover the essential health benefits--10 key categories of benefits such as prescription drugs, maternity care, and mental health services. On top of that, the law prohibits insurers from imposing annual or lifetime limits on these essential health benefits. The goal is to make sure that when people get sick or if they have a preexisting condition, they don't go broke getting the care they need because of fine print in their health insurance plan. The Republican bill would allow States to eliminate these essential health benefits. Consumers would be left with plans that leave them up a creek if they actually get sick. And plans for people who are sick-- the price of those plans will go sky high. No one would call that ``better care,'' which is why Republicans aren't really being straight about it. What they call ``flexibility'' is actually just the removal of consumer protections. To review, the Republican plan covers fewer people, costs too many people more--in many cases, much, much more--and provides worse coverage, and it is being sold by misleading people on each of these points. It is not as though there aren't ways to cover more people, reduce costs, and provide better coverage. You could do a public option, for example. You could reduce prescription drug costs--an issue on which I recently introduced a comprehensive bill. You could improve coverage by increasing the number of healthcare providers in rural areas, as I proposed last year in my rural health bill. But the Republican plan does none of these things, which raises the question: What does it do? Why would anyone take the time to propose such a terrible bill? The answer is this: It gives a giant tax cut to the wealthy. That is the real point of this bill. It is not a healthcare bill; it is a ``take healthcare away from people who need it and use the money to give a tax break to the rich'' bill. As Chrysann in Moorhead, MN, said, it is about ``survival of the fittest.'' The average tax savings for the 400 richest Americans under the Republican plan is $7 million each--again, $7 million each. For households earning $1 million or more a year, it is more than $50,000 apiece, each year. But for households earning $50,000 a year, which is about the median income in the United States, the tax cut is next to nothing, or you could even face a tax increase. There are tax cuts specifically for insurance company CEOs. There are tax cuts specifically for drug companies. There is nothing comparable for the middle class. And all of those tax cuts are paid for by cutting healthcare programs that keep people alive, by cutting off funding that lets seniors age with dignity, and by cutting services for kids with disabilities. This bill would take us back in time and roll back our progress. It is up to us here in the Senate to stop that from happening. This bill is literally sickening. It is vicious, it is cruel, and it should never be passed into law. I urge my Republican colleagues to walk away from this cruel effort and work with us to actually improve healthcare for Americans. And I urge everyone considering this bill to be straight with the American people about exactly what it is that this bill will do to them. Thank you, Mr. 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. CASSIDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Johnson). Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. CASSIDY. Mr. President, obviously, a big problem before the country right now is, What do we do about rising healthcare premiums? What we know under the Affordable Care Act--or the un-Affordable Care Act--or ObamaCare, as some call it, is that premiums are rising more and more. One of President Trump's campaign pledges was that premiums would come down and, actually, come down with, as he said in one place, beautiful coverage--that it is actually good coverage and premiums are lower. So let's kind of set the stage. I just got a message on my Facebook page. I will read it. By the way, anybody can post on our Facebook page these sorts of stories, if they are interested in them. Brian from Louisiana sent a message saying: My family plan is $1700 a month for me, my wife, and two children--so roughly about $20,000 a year. The ACA, or the Affordable Care Act, has brought me to my knees. I hope you can get something done as my credit cards are all maxed out. And 80 percent of my friends are in the same situation. The middle class is dwindling away. Can everyone just come together and figure this out? Think about this: $1,700 a month. He did not write this, but what would be standard for this sort of policy is a $13,000 family deductible. I say that because I have an acquaintance in San Francisco. San Francisco is so expensive for housing, transportation, and food, and the premium for their young family is $20,000 a year, with each family member with their own separate $6,000 deductible. This is under the un- Affordable Care Act, as I call it, or the Affordable Care Act, as others do. A friend of mine back in Baton Rouge, whom I have quoted many times, put this on my Facebook page because people would not believe it: He and his wife, 60 and 61, their quote for their insurance last year was $39,000. Their quote for their insurance was $39,000. Then I spoke to a fellow who is an insurance consultant here in Washington, DC--an insurance consultant. If anyone can get their premiums down, it would be he. For his family, their premium is $24,000 a year with a $13,000 family deductible. If they get in a car wreck, their family will be out $37,000 before the insurance kicks in. Who can afford this? We must do something better. [[Page S3089]] When President Trump ran for office, President Trump clearly recognized this. On the campaign trail, he said over and over that he wished to lower premiums. It is the President's genius, if you will, that he knew how to do so. You do so by expanding the risk pool. He said he wanted to continue coverage for all. He gets away from the ObamaCare mandates, which people hate. The American people don't like being told what to do. He also said he would care for those with preexisting conditions. This is how it works. When you cover many, you have a bigger risk pool. Those with preexisting conditions have the cost of their illness spread out over the many. So premiums come down for all. My hat is off to the President for coming up with that. In fact, 5 days before he was sworn in, he echoed this, because one way to lower premiums is to give poor coverage. One way to lower premiums is to give folks such terrible coverage that it doesn't cost anything. On the other hand, it doesn't cover anything. The President seems to know this. Five days before he was inaugurated, he said to the Washington Post about people covered under his replacement for ObamaCare: [They] can expect to have great healthcare. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better. We're going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us. I am a physician, a doctor. Again, I admire President Trump's insights. As a physician, I know that whoever wants healthcare gets healthcare. Twenty or so years ago, Congress said that if you walk into an emergency room, the emergency room has to take care of you. It doesn't matter if you are an American citizen. It doesn't matter how much it costs. The hospital has to take care of you. I told folks when I was practicing--it would be the middle of the night--that as long as that emergency room was open--and it was open 24/7--in through the door came folks vomiting blood, heart failure patients, folks with drug overdoses, schizophrenics, diabetics, asthmatics--you name it. They came through that door, and we cared for them all--and somebody paid. President Trump understands that even if you say you can't afford it, everybody is going to be treated. That is our current system, and that is not going to happen under his watch. We mentioned that one way to lower premiums is to give poor coverage. I think everyone knows, or many people know, of Mr. Kimmel, the late night comedian who pointed out that when his child was born, instead of celebrating and handing the baby to the mother so the mother could kiss and the father, Mr. Kimmel, could cuddle the baby, the nurses and the doctors looked at the baby and immediately recognized that something was wrong. They recognized that this child was blue. He didn't have oxygen, and if something wasn't done immediately, this child would die. Folks criticized Mr. Kimmel for being emotional. I totally get it. Instead of cuddling, you are signing a release waiver so your child can be transferred across the city of Los Angeles for emergency surgery. In his emotion, he asked that all children--and I would expand to all Americans--have the ability to get that sort of emergency care done. Again, the President was about that. I came up with what I called the Kimmel test. Again, it echoes President Trump's contract with the American voter--that we would protect those with preexisting conditions, that we lower premiums, but as we lower premiums, we make sure that the coverage is adequate. The Kimmel test, making sure there is adequate coverage while lowering premiums and caring for those with preexisting conditions, is so compatible with what President Trump said, because Americans need lower premiums. Let me echo that one more time. We need to lower premiums. The President's approach, the contract he made with the voters on the campaign trail, is the right approach. You get a bigger risk pool, lots of younger people, so those who are older and sicker have the cost of their care spread out among the many. We have a plan, the Cassidy-Collins plan, or the Patient Freedom Act, which I introduced with Senator Susan Collins and four other Senators. We have a way to go about it. One way to get young, healthy folks involved is to do something that we do on Medicare. If you are eligible, you are enrolled unless you call up and say you don't want to be. That is what we do with Medicare. By the way, that is what Fortune 500 companies do with their employees for 401(k) plans, and it works really well. Ninety-five percent of employees are likely to participate in a 401(k), and they love it. As to people on Medicare, 99 percent stay on Medicare, and 1 percent call up and say: I don't want it. Usually they have better coverage someplace else. As a rule, no one feels coerced because they all know they can call up and say: I don't want it; I don't get it. As it turns out, most do. The plan we have taken with Cassidy-Collins, in our attempt to fulfill President Trump's contract with the American voter, is that we allow a State to automatically enroll for this, and you would be in. The credit you receive would be sufficient to pay for the annual premium. If you don't want it, call up. Make it easy. Get out of here. I don't want it. As a rule, we think folks would be in. By doing this, you expand that risk pool so those old and sicker, those with preexisting conditions, can have their conditions cared for, but we fulfill President Trump's campaign pledge. We also lowered those premiums. Ultimately, to lower the cost of insurance, you have to lower the cost of healthcare. Cassidy-Collins does that with some conservative approaches that even liberals will like. One way is that we put in what is called price transparency. You would know the price. A mother would know the price of a procedure--an x-ray, a blood test--before she gets it for her daughter, as opposed to finding out 6 months later when she gets the final bill. Let me give one example. We have all seen those urgent care centers. Some are run by hospitals. Typically, a visit there will cost you $500 to $1,500. Others are run by a group of physicians, or maybe a small business decides to set up an urgent care center. The same visit might cost you as little as $75 to $150. The patient doesn't know that until she gets the bill. One door has exactly the same appearance and exactly the same type of facility with the same capabilities. In one door and it can cost $500 to $1,500, and in the other door and it can cost $75 to $150, and the patient never knows. I think we can lower the cost of healthcare by giving the patient the power of knowing what is the price of healthcare. Think of it. You walk up to a French restaurant in a city you are not familiar with, and you look at the menu posted on the door. You see the prices of the food. Oh, the food is pretty good, but look how expensive it is. Let me go down the street. You go down the street. The food looks good, and it is less expensive. The power of price informs the patient of what is the best deal for both our health and for our pocketbook. One way we can lower the cost of health insurance is by lowering the cost of healthcare. There are other ways of doing so as well. Let me return once more to what I said earlier. Americans need lower premiums. President Trump, during the campaign--his contract with the voter, I think, is the right approach to get there. I will summarize with this. He said he wanted to maintain coverage for those who have insurance, lower premiums, that preexisting conditions would be cared for, and eliminate the ObamaCare mandates. If we fulfill President Trump's goals--and these are goals that folks on the right and left can get behind. By the way, if we do get behind them, premiums will be lower. If we can fulfill President Trump's campaign contract with the American voter, we will lower those premiums, and we will do so by achieving these other great goals. I yield back. 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. [[Page S3090]] Mr. CRUZ. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Jerusalem Day Mr. CRUZ. Mr. President, I rise today to mark a momentous day. Starting this evening, millions around the world will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, also known as Jerusalem Day. I am proud to join our close ally, Israel, and the Jewish people in celebrating this historic 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Half a century ago, overcoming Arab armies intent on Israel's destruction, the Israel defense forces liberated the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War. They courageously and miraculously fought their way to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, the holiest sites in Judaism. The commander of the paratroopers, Mordechai Gur, unable to contain his emotion, exclaimed through his wireless radio: ``The Temple Mount is in our hands!'' The army rabbi blew the shofar, and the eternal capital of Israel was reunited. This war was not the first time that Israel was threatened with annihilation. After the Jewish people established the modern State of Israel in their ancient homeland just 19 years earlier, neighboring Arab States responded to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion's declaration of independence with an invasion. The Arab armies failed to destroy the newly established Jewish State, but Jerusalem, the ancient and Holy City central to the identity of the Jewish people, was left divided and occupied by Jordan. Residents of the Old City were murdered or expelled. Jews were prohibited from visiting and praying at the Temple Mount and Western Wall. Their synagogues were destroyed, and their cemeteries, such as the Mount of Olives, were desecrated. Access for Christians to their holy sites was also severely restricted. Leading up to June of 1967, Arab leaders repeatedly and openly expressed their desire to wipe Israel off the map. Syria was engaging in attacks on Israel from the Golan Heights and soon started to mobilize its forces for battle. Egypt began moving troops into the Sinai Peninsula in a massive military buildup, demanded and achieved the withdrawal of the U.N. Emergency Force that had been stationed in the Sinai, and then closed the Straits of Tehran, imposing an illegal blockade on Israel and cutting off a vital shipping lane for the Jewish State. Jordan then signed a mutual defense agreement with Egypt. Outnumbered and outgunned and against all odds in the face of external pressure not to act first to ensure its survival, the Jewish State launched a successful, preemptive strike against its hostile neighbors and prevailed in a defensive war. When it was over, Jerusalem was liberated, reuniting the city and Judaism's holiest sites with the Jewish people and putting an end to almost two decades of exclusion from the Old City. Since coming under its sovereignty, Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East that shares our values of freedom, has protected people of all faiths in Jerusalem and ensured their access to holy sites so that they might worship freely. They have protected the rights of Jews, of Christians, and of Muslims. This has occurred even while religious minorities are being targeted, persecuted, and attacked throughout the Middle East and religious and historical sites are being demolished today by radical Islamic terrorists. Today is a day where we must also reassert historical truth: The historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem and the land of Israel did not begin in 1967. These profound ties to Jerusalem have existed for thousands of years. They can be traced back and have been reaffirmed through numerous archeological excavations such as those in the city of David. In the past several years, I have traveled to Israel three times. There is something that stirs inside each time I am there. It is remarkable to observe the great successes and achievements of this small and yet mighty country that is one of America's strongest allies in the world. It is long past time that America do something it should have done two decades ago: Move the American Embassy to Jerusalem and formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's eternal and undivided capital. In every nation on Earth our Embassy is in its capital city except for Israel. There is no reason Israel should be treated any worse when they are such a reliable and unshakeable ally. We should honor the promise that Democratic Presidents and Republican Presidents have made for decades and move our Embassy to Jerusalem. So I stand today to express my solidarity with Israel and with the Jewish people during this major celebration. Now, more than ever, America stands strong with our unshakeable friend and ally, the nation of Israel. 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. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for up to 15 minutes as in morning business. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Climate Change Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I am here to discuss what you might call the Scott Pruitt philosophy of environmental regulation. In a recent interview, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency expressed his view that the EPA should ``simply pass regulations that provide fairness and equity and allow utilities to make decisions based upon stability, cost, and security to the consumers that they serve.'' Did we notice anything missing in that assertion of what EPA's role should be? How about no mention of the environment, no mention of climate change, no mention of public health? So my 168th ``Time to Wake Up'' speech will look at how paid-for Administrator Pruitt is by the very industries he is supposed to be regulating. Often, the word for this is ``corruption.'' Scott Pruitt is a functionary of fossil fuel money. He has a long record of dark money fundraising and long, cozy relationships with big fossil fuel political donors. As you can see, energy interests contributed over $136,000 to Pruitt's 2014 campaign even though he ran unopposed. During the 2010 and 2014 election cycles, oil and gas giants Devon Energy and Koch Industries--yes, of those infamous Koch brothers--maxed out to Pruitt's campaigns. Thanks to Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting by the New York Times, we know that backing Pruitt was a good fossil fuel investment, particularly for Devon Energy. In 2011, Attorney General Scott Pruitt took a letter written by Devon Energy, he put it onto his Oklahoma attorney general letterhead, he signed it for them, and he sent it off to EPA, pleading Devon Energy's anti-regulatory case as if it were his own. As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt directly solicited political donations from companies now regulated by EPA, then regulated by EPA as well. He spoke at dozens of industry events but never at a public health or environmental event. He led the boards of political organizations, like the Republican Attorneys General Association and its dark money political fundraising arm, the so-called Rule of Law Defense Fund, this thing. Pruitt was a member of the RAGA executive committee--RAGA being Republican Attorneys General Association. He was a member of their executive committee between 2014 and 2016, when RAGA raised $530,000 from Koch Industries-- yes, those same infamous Koch brothers--and $125,000 from Devon Energy--yes, of the letter he put onto his own letterhead. Coal giant Murray Energy donated $50,000 to Liberty 2.0, Pruitt's own super PAC, and it donated $350,000 to RAGA between 2014 and 2016. The Rule of Law Defense Fund doesn't have to disclose its donors. They hide in a loophole in the law. But other public reporting has shown that it received at least $175,000 from something called Freedom Partners. With a name like that, you know it is up to no good. Sure enough, it is another dark [[Page S3091]] money group run by several Koch Industries executives. That is not Coca-Cola; that is the Koch brothers' fossil fuel processing company. We don't know more about this. Why do we not know more about this? Because Republicans in the Senate protected Scott Pruitt from having to answer these questions during his confirmation process. While he was busily helping raise dark money, dark money groups, in turn, came back and worked hard to help Pruitt get confirmed to the EPA. A Republican opposition research PAC called America Rising launched a pro-Pruitt ad campaign, and its dark money arm, America Rising Squared, funded confirmpruitt.com. A 501(c)(4) dark money entity ironically named Protecting America Now was created solely to help confirm Pruitt to the EPA. Its fliers asked for contributions ranging from $25,000 to $500,000. Just another grassroots group trying to get a good guy confirmed. Koch Industries' own lobbying disclosure forms reveal it spent part of $3.1 million lobbying to confirm Scott Pruitt. In Trump's science-denial Cabinet, Administrator Pruitt seems to see little reason to hide his anti-environment and Republican political interests. He has spoken at the Conservative Political Action Conference and the American Farm Bureau board meeting. He attended rallies with coal miners against his own regulations and met with the National Mining Association's executive committee ``to lay out his concerns with the Paris accord'' the day before the mining association voted to press President Trump to withdraw from that agreement. Administrator Pruitt planned to appear as the keynote speaker at the Oklahoma Republican Party Gala on May 5. This invitation mentioned his official position as EPA Administrator three times. It featured this photo of him being sworn in as the EPA Administrator. It promised donors a ``once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear him discuss his plans to slash regulations, bring back jobs to Oklahoma, and decrease the size of the EPA.'' Well, the 1939 Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, more commonly known as the Hatch Act, forbids this, so I filed a Hatch Act complaint and Administrator Pruitt's appearance was canceled. The Office of Special Counsel is now conducting a full investigation. But it wasn't just there. He goes to other dinners. On February 28, 2017, Pruitt was a speaker at a RAGA major donors dinner. You know who major donors are by now. Days after the RAGA major donors dinner, Pruitt unilaterally withdrew an EPA request for information from oil and gas producers about their methane emissions, citing a letter from nine members of RAGA and two Republican Governors, who alleged the methane information request ``furthers the previous administration's climate agenda and supports . . . the imposition of burdensome climate rules on existing sites, the cost and expense of which will be enormous.'' There was no public comment period. There was no request for input from other States. This basically was a little party favor for his RAGA pals right after the RAGA dinner. This EPA Administrator has solicited thousands, if not millions, of dollars from corporations he now regulates. Our current ethics laws do not require nominees in the confirmation process to disclose their political and dark money connections, so the Senate and the public are kept blind to the conflicts of interest of such nominees, and we have no idea how those conflicts would manifest in their offices. Pruitt knows who gave dark money to his political causes. The corporations know what dark money they gave. It is just the rest of us who are in the dark. This is new, and this is weird. This was not a problem for President Obama's nominees because the dark money political tsunami that has swamped our politics in slime did not exist when President Obama was elected. It was the Citizens United decision of 2010 that allowed unlimited political spending by big special interests, and that unlimited money found dark money channels. To address the gaping loophole in our Federal ethics laws, I have introduced the Conflicts from Political Fundraising Act with Senators Udall, Carper, Van Hollen, and Franken. This bill would require Presidentially appointed Federal officials like Scott Pruitt to disclose their political fundraising, and it would require Federal ethics officials to address these conflicts by, for example, making sure officials are recused from decisions affecting big political donors, making sure the public has the information to know they should ask for a recusal because the director is conflicted by reason of his political relationship with big dark money donors. I wish the conflicts at EPA stopped with the Administrator, but they don't. It is a swarm of swampy conflict over there. Pruitt has surrounded himself with political operatives and fossil fuel lobbyists. The Associate EPA Administrator for Policy previously worked at RAGA, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, and something called the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce--a Koch brothers-funded dark money group that has underwritten the Rule of Law Defense Fund. EPA's Senior Adviser for Regional and State Affairs came from Pruitt's own fossil fuel-funded super PAC, Oklahoma Strong. The Assistant Administrator for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations came from the oil company, the Hess Corporation. One Deputy Associate Administrator is the former president of the Ohio Coal Association. Another Deputy Associate Administrator was a registered lobbyist at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, where she specifically lobbied against EPA's Clean Power Plan and New Source Performance Standard, the clean water rule, the ozone standard, EPA enforcement, pesticides bills, budget resolutions, and EPA appropriations bills. This corruption of EPA is the work of the fossil fuel industry. One day there must come a reckoning. Just this weekend, the New York Times reported ``How Rollbacks at Scott Pruitt's E.P.A. Are a Boon to Oil and Gas.'' The article included a checklist of rollbacks that specifically benefit long-time Pruitt benefactor Devon Energy--the one that got the letter--delaying a rule raising royalties on fossil energy production on Federal land, undoing new fracking standards, rolling back rules on the leaking and flaring of methane, and rolling back reporting of methane emissions. In another matter, Devon Energy had been preparing to pay a settlement of over $100,000 and to install emissions scrubbing equipment to remedy illegal emissions from a Wyoming natural gas facility. Five days after Pruitt was installed at EPA, the company told officials it was ``re-evaluating its settlement posture,'' offering a quarter of what it had previously proposed to settle the charges and scrapping the emissions controls entirely. They know their Administrator Pruitt. Pruitt's record at EPA reveals he is unabashedly looking out for his industry donors at the expense of public health and the environment. As far as I can tell, every action he has taken since taking office will lead to an enriched industry--at the expense of dirtier air and dirtier water--and a more imperiled climate. Myron Ebell is someone I don't quote often. He is the head of President Trump's EPA transition team and a prominent climate denier. He has something interesting to say about Scott Pruitt. He has said that he thinks Scott Pruitt is using EPA as a ``stepping stone to political office'' and that ``everything he does is going to be a political calculation about what furthers his own political career.'' This is not a liberal environmentalist making these accusations. This is somebody who is right in Scott Pruitt's climate denial wheelhouse. This is someone from the Trump science denial EPA destruction team. This is the guy who is in the club of fossil fuel-funded climate denial, and he thinks everything Pruitt does is a political calculation about what furthers Pruitt's own political career. If that is the case, everything Scott Pruitt does is a conflict of interest, as he sees regulated industry as the funders of his next political campaign. They pay for him now, and he delivers. Sadly, the people who own Pruitt also own Congress. So good luck getting an honest look at this mess from our fossil fuel-funded colleagues in the majority. Mr. President, I yield the floor. I suggest the absence of a quorum. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll. [[Page S3092]] The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll. Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered, ____________________