(Senate - September 12, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 147 (Tuesday, September 12, 2017)]
[Pages S5192-S5196]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to H.R. 2810, 
which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 175, H.R. 2810, a bill to 
     authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2018 for military 
     activities of the Department of Defense, for military 
     construction, and for defense activities of the Department of 
     Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such 
     fiscal year, and for other purposes.

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 


  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, it was 1 week ago when President Trump and 
Attorney General Sessions announced that they were going to rescind the 
DACA Program. This is a program created by President Obama by Executive 
order that allowed those who had come to the United States as children 
to have an opportunity to be given 2 years on a renewable basis where 
they would not be subject to deportation and could work.
  These young people are known as the Dreamers, a term that came about 
when I introduced the bill 16 years ago called the DREAM Act. These are 
young people who, frankly, are just asking for a chance, an opportunity 
to be part of the only country they have ever known.
  The laws of the United States are very tough and very strict, and 
they say that, if you are undocumented, in their situation, you have to 
leave America for 10 years and then petition to come back in. That is 
why I introduced the DREAM Act. So these young people who were brought 
to this country by their parents would have a chance.
  President Obama used his authority in an Executive order to allow 
them to apply for DACA protection. They had to pay a substantial filing 
fee and submit themselves to a criminal background check before they 
would be allowed to stay. So 780,000 young people did just that, and 
they are protected currently, but only for a few more months, under 
this DACA provision.
  What is going to happen to them, we don't know. The only thing that 
makes any sense at this point is for Congress to act, for us to do 
something to replace the DACA Program, which the President is going to 
rescind, with a law--a law that establishes clearly the requirements, 
as well as the rights, that will be given to these individuals under 
the law.
  That is why I have introduced the Dream Act with my cosponsor Lindsey 
Graham, a Republican of South Carolina. There are three other 
Republican cosponsors at this point, and we hope to move this forward.
  President Trump has said he is interested in working with us, and we 
are going to take him at his word. Despite rescinding DACA, I hope the 
President will be on our side to come up with a replacement that is 
  Also, I want to address many of the myths that have come up about 
DACA, as well as the Dream Act. I am going to quote an unusual source 
for this Senator. The source is a man named David Bier. David is an 
immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute. Those of us who live 
in this Washington environment of politics know that the Cato Institute 
is not a liberal think tank. It is the opposite. It is a conservative, 
largely Republican think tank, and Mr. Bier has published an article 
that has been seen in the Washington Post, in the Chicago Tribune, and 
in other papers entitled the ``Five myths about DACA.''
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
the Washington Post article entitled ``Five myths about DACA.''
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

               [From the Washington Post, Sept. 7, 2017]

                         Five Myths About DACA

                            (By David Bier)

       The Trump administration's move to rescind the Deferred 
     Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, has created 
     an uncertain future for the 800,000 young unauthorized 
     immigrants who had been granted protection from deportation 
     and permission to work legally. A six-month delay provides a 
     chance for Congress to save the 2012 program. But if we're 
     going to debate the merits of DACA, we should know what we're 
     talking about. Here are some common myths.

                               Myth No. 1

       DACA incentivized an increase in illegal immigration. House 
     Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is among 
     those who support ending DACA because it has ``encouraged 
     more illegal immigration and contributed to the surge of 
     unaccompanied minors and families seeking to enter the U.S. 
     illegally.'' Statements like this betray a misunderstanding 
     of who is eligible for deportation relief under the program. 
     DACA applies only to immigrants who entered before their 16th 
     birthdays and who have lived in the country continuously 
     since at least June 15, 2007--more than a decade ago. No one 
     entering now can apply.
       Perhaps the chairman thinks that children coming to the 
     border are confused on this point. But the facts don't 
     support that view either. To begin with, the timing is wrong. 
     According to data from the Border Patrol, the increase in 
     migrant children in 2012--the year President Barack Obama 
     announced DACA--occurred entirely in the months before the 
     president announced the policy. The rate of increase also 
     remained the same in 2013 as it was in 2012. Even then, the 
     total number of juveniles attempting to cross the border--
     unaccompanied and otherwise--never returned to the pre-
     recession levels of the mid-2000s.
       Another problem with the theory is that although the 
     majority of DACA beneficiaries are of Mexican origin, the 
     increase in children crossing the border stems from El 
     Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. These countries share one 
     common trait: much higher than average levels of violence 
     than anywhere else in North America. A careful study of this 
     phenomenon by economist Michael Clemens found that more than 
     anything else, a rise in homicides between 2007 and 2009 set 
     off a chain of events that led to the rise of child 
       Regardless, overall illegal immigration is far below where 
     it was before the United States' last legalization program, 
     in 1986, when each border agent caught more than 40 border 
     crossers per month. Last year, it was fewer than two per 
     month. DACA had no effect on this trend.

                               MYTH NO. 2

       DACA has taken jobs from Americans. In announcing the Trump 
     administration's decision this past week, Attorney General 

[[Page S5193]]

     Sessions said that DACA ``denied jobs to hundreds of 
     thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to 
     illegal aliens.'' This myth even has a name in economics: the 
     lump of labor fallacy. It supposes that the number of jobs in 
     the economy is fixed, and that any increase in workers 
     results in unemployment. Yet this notion is easily disproved. 
     From 1970 to 2017, the U.S. labor force doubled. Rather than 
     ending up with a 50 percent unemployment rate, U.S. 
     employment doubled.
       If adding workers made the economy poorer, we might expect 
     that people would try to ``free'' themselves from competition 
     by moving to a desolate mountain and making everything for 
     themselves. That no one does so is an admission that 
     competition is actually good. We depend on other workers, 
     DACA recipients included, to buy the products and services we 
     produce. That's one reason earlier efforts to restrict 
     immigration did not produce any wage gains.

                               MYTH NO. 3

       Repealing DACA would benefit taxpayers. Sessions also 
     argued that ending DACA ``protects taxpayers.'' But the 
     opposite is true. According to the National Academy of 
     Sciences (NAS), first-generation immigrants who enter the 
     United States as children (including all DACA recipients) 
     pay, on average, more in taxes over their lifetimes than they 
     receive in benefits, regardless of their education level. 
     DACA recipients end up contributing more than the average, 
     because they are not eligible for any federal means-tested 
     welfare: cash assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, health-care 
     tax credits or anything else.
       They also are better educated than the average immigrant. 
     Applicants must have at least a high school degree to enter 
     the program. An additional 36 percent of DACA recipients who 
     are older than 25 have a bachelor's degree, and an additional 
     32 percent are pursuing a bachelor's degree. The NAS finds 
     that among recent immigrants who entered as children, those 
     with a high school degree are positive to the government, to 
     the tune of $60,000 to $153,000 in net present value, meaning 
     it's like each immigrant cutting a check for that amount at 
     the door. For those with a bachelor's degree, it's a net 
     positive of $160,000 to $316,000. Each DACA permit canceled 
     is like burning tens of thousands of dollars in Washington.

                               MYTH NO. 4

       DACA repeal protects communities from criminals. DACA 
     repeal, the attorney general further claimed, ``saves lives'' 
     and ``protects communities.'' He implied that DACA ``put our 
     nation at risk of crime.'' But DACA participants are not 
     criminals. Unauthorized immigrants--the applicant pool for 
     DACA--are much less likely to end up in prison, indicating 
     lower levels of criminality. More important, to participate 
     in DACA, applicants must pass a background check. They have 
     to live here without committing a serious offense. If they 
     are arrested, DACA can be taken away even without a 
       Only 2,139 out of almost 800,000 DACA recipients have lost 
     their permits because of criminal or public safety concerns--
     that's just a quarter of 1 percent. Four times as many U.S.-
     born Americans are in prison. About 35 times as many 
     Americans have ended up behind bars at some point before age 

                               MYTH NO. 5

       DACA repeal is just about politics. Obama criticized the 
     DACA move this past week as ``a political decision'' that was 
     ``not required legally.'' But legal issues certainly factored 
     into the Trump administration's calculation. The timing 
     coincided with a deadline that several states imposed on the 
     administration, stating that if the president did not wind 
     down DACA by Sept. 5, they would sue. If President Trump 
     wanted to end DACA for political reasons, he could have done 
     so on his first day in office.
       Obama should know that defending DACA legally could be 
     difficult. After all, when he attempted to implement a 
     similar but much broader program in 2015 for undocumented 
     parents of U.S. citizens, courts shut him down. Obama 
     implemented DACA without going through Congress, and although 
     some legal scholars dispute whether it faces the same legal 
     issues as the 2015 program, the Trump administration would 
     have confronted a real possibility of defeat had it chosen to 
     defend DACA in court.
       The correct response, however--for economic reasons and 
     security reasons, but above all for moral reasons--would have 
     been to actively push for Congress to enact the program, not 
     to announce its demise and leave the chips to fall where they 

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, in this article, he spells out in some 
detail why some of the myths that were perpetrated by Attorney General 
Sessions and others last week need to be explained. One of them is that 
DACA somehow incentivized an increase in illegal immigration. Mr. Bier 
makes it clear that, when it comes down to it, you cannot arrive in the 
United States today and expect to be protected by DACA tomorrow. In 
fact, you have to have arrived in the United States at least by June 15 
of 2007, more than a decade ago. So to argue that DACA was an incentive 
for more immigration in this country is just plain wrong.
  What about those kids who showed up on the borders years ago, 
thousands of them? Well, it turns out that they weren't eligible for 
DACA or the Dream Act, and it also turns out that most of them were not 
from Mexico but from parts of Central America, which has been 
devastated by crime waves and gang activity.
  The second myth that Mr. Bier addresses is that these DACA 
recipients--780,000--are taking jobs away from Americans. What he 
points out is that, if you start with the premise that we have a static 
amount of jobs in this country--what he calls a ``lump of labor 
fallacy''--then, it is dog-eat-dog to fight for those jobs.
  It turns out that we have an expanding economy, and he proves it by 
giving us a statistic. Between 1970 and 2017, the U.S. labor force 
doubled. So rather than ending up with a 50-percent unemployment rate, 
our U.S. employment doubled. It is an expanding and dynamic economy.
  The case can be made effectively that the DACA recipients are people 
who can add to the economy. All of them have to have the equivalent or 
a high school education. Many of them--large percentages of them--have 
college degrees and even more. So they can bring a lot to the economy.
  The other point or the other myth that Mr. Bier addresses is whether 
repealing DACA would benefit taxpayers. The point he makes is that 
these DACA recipients are paying taxes in the jobs they are working 
and, by and large, are ineligible for any Federal programs or any 
Federal assistance.
  So they are a net gain in terms of our Treasury and in terms of what 
they can do. For example, if you are protected by DACA today on a 2-
year renewable basis, you do not qualify for a Pell grant to go to 
college. You don't qualify for a Federal Government loan. You have to 
find out how you are going to do it some other way. So these young 
people who are working and paying taxes are not drawing from any of the 
government programs that other people their age draw from.
  There is also this argument that DACA somehow is going to make 
America less safe and that there will be more criminals. Don't forget 
what I said earlier. To qualify for DACA, you have to submit yourself 
to a criminal background check. The likelihood of the next crime being 
committed by a DACA recipient is very narrow. The likelihood that it is 
committed by someone who is already an American citizen is much more 
  Finally, there is the argument that DACA is just about politics. 
Well, it can be about politics, unless we do our job in Congress. We 
are supposed to pass the laws. The President has challenged us to pass 
a law that will help deal with DACA. We have, I think, an awesome 
responsibility to do just that.
  I was at Loyola University's medical school on Friday and met several 
of the DACA students who are in medical school at Loyola. They are 
extraordinarily bright individuals who competed and were accepted at 
Loyola's medical school. Now they have a program. As they complete the 
4 years of medical school at Loyola, they want to apply for residencies 
so they can specialize. If you are going to be a resident, you had 
better be prepared to work. If you don't have DACA protection, you 
can't legally work in the United States. Thirty-two aspiring, really 
bright, young medical students soon to be doctors will be stopped in 
their tracks if we don't replace DACA because they cannot apply for 
residency because they cannot legally work in America without DACA 
protection or something like it.
  Would we be better off in America if those 32 individuals did not 
become doctors? Of course not. We want them to become doctors. In 
Illinois, the State is helping to pay for their education with the 
promise that they will practice medicine in an underserved area of our 
State. I am from downstate Illinois, small-town Illinois, and I will 
tell you that we desperately need more doctors, not just in individual 
towns but at the hospitals that serve those towns. If these 32 can help 
us reach those goals, we are going to have better medical care across 
our State, but that depends on Congress and Congress meeting its 
  I have come to the floor of the Senate over 100 times now to tell the 
stories of individuals who are affected by

[[Page S5194]]

DACA and the Dream Act, and I want to do that again today. I found that 
speeches are great and statistics are fine, but when you hear the 
stories about these individuals--who they are, what they have done, and 
what they aspire to do--you can understand the context of this 
important national debate.
  The person I want to introduce today in the Senate is this young 
lady, Cristina Velasquez. She was brought to the United States at the 
age of 6 from Caracas, Venezuela. She went to elementary school in 
Madison, WI. She wrote me a letter. Cristina wrote the following:

       I spent my formative childhood years in the Midwest where I 
     learned to assimilate and learned the values this country was 
     founded on. The salt-of-the-Earth quality of people around me 
     and extraordinary kindness between strangers shaped my own 
     values and attitude toward others. Growing up in Madison 
     taught me a great deal about compassion, patience, and hard 

  Cristina was an outstanding student. In high school she was a member 
of the National Honor Society. She was elected vice president of her 
class, and she managed the track team. She found time to volunteer at a 
local summer camp for pre-K students. She graduated from the Honors 
College at Miami Dade College. She is currently a student at Georgetown 
University, majoring in international law, institutions, and ethics. 
She has received the President's Volunteer Service Award 2 years in a 
row and is a Walsh Scholar. As a graduate of Georgetown, I can tell you 
nobody ever named me a Walsh Scholar. This young lady obviously is very 
  During her time at Georgetown, Cristina has interned in the House of 
Representatives and has piloted a college mentorship program at a local 
high school. In addition, she also has found time to have two part-time 
jobs. She has to. You see, as a person who is protected by DACA and 
undocumented, she doesn't qualify for government assistance to go to 
college--certainly not at the Federal level. So these students have to 
work extra hard to stay in school.
  She has dedicated two of her undergraduate summers and a full school 
year volunteering to teach in Miami and in San Francisco. In both of 
these cities, she worked with high-achieving, low-income students 
trying to get them into college. You see, Cristina's dream ultimately 
is to be a teacher.
  Last week in my office, Cristina joined 15 other students from 
Georgetown who came in as we were debating DACA and the Dream Act on 
the floor. I am sure they wanted to hear my speech on the floor but, 
just to make sure, we bought a dozen pizzas and the crew seemed to be 
pretty happy with that decision. It was an impressive group of 
students. Every one of them was a DACA recipient.
  These young people have so much potential, but they are worried. They 
don't know what their future will be with the decision made last week 
by the Trump administration to repeal DACA. Congress hasn't acted to 
pass the Dream Act, and we should.
  As for Cristina Velasquez, she will graduate from Georgetown in 
December. She has been accepted into Teach for America. Most of us know 
that organization well, but for the record, it is a national nonprofit 
organization that places the most talented recent college graduates in 
challenging school districts in urban and rural areas where they have a 
shortage of teachers. Teach for America has 190 teachers working in 
these challenging districts who are currently DACA Dreamers. They are 
teaching kids all across America.
  What does it say about us? What does it say to their students if 
these Teach for America Dreamers are invited to leave the country? That 
is exactly what Mr. Steve Bannon said on 60 Minutes on Sunday when he 
came out against our efforts to pass the Dream Act. He wants Cristina 
Velasquez gone. He thinks America is a better place if she is gone. I 
think he is wrong, and I think most reasonable people would agree.
  Cristina is going to start the program, Teach for America, next 
summer and teach next fall, but without DACA or the Dream Act, Cristina 
and 190 other Teach for America teachers will be forced to drop out and 
leave their students behind.
  Instead, many would have them deported back to countries they have 
never known, saying they are not part of the United States and they 
don't have anything to offer us. Will America be a stronger country if 
we deport Cristina or if she stays here to teach children in 
challenging districts? I think the answer is clear to any reasonable 
  When we introduced the Dream Act, Senator Lindsey Graham and I--a 
Republican of South Carolina and a Democrat of Illinois--cosponsored 
the measure. We gave a press conference. Senator Graham said: The 
moment of reckoning is coming. Well, that moment has arrived.
  Republican leaders in Congress need to help us to pass the Dream Act 
once and for all and make it the law of the land. We need to bear 
responsibility for these hundreds of thousands who can make America a 
better country. They show with their lives that the promise of America 
is still very much alive.
  As for this Senator, I have been at this for a long time. I am going 
to see it to the finish line. I still have that dream of the day when 
President Trump signs the Dream Act into law in the Oval Office. It 
will be a great day, particularly for this country to recognize that 
these young people offer special talents and a special commitment to 
the future of America, which we desperately need.
  I yield the floor.

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Democratic leader is 

                   Thanking the Senator From Illinois

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, once again I want to thank my colleague 
from Illinois for both his passion and his intelligence in terms of his 
approach to the Dream Act. We are getting closer to getting this done. 
It is hardly done yet, but without the Senator from Illinois, we would 
not be as close to ``as close,'' so to speak, as we are today.

                             Hurricane Irma

  Now, Mr. President, I want to first start off by saying that I hope 
that everyone in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina is staying safe 
as Hurricane Irma continues up the coast. Reports indicate that as many 
as 9 million Floridians have gone without power during the storm. Large 
parts of Miami and Jacksonville are under water. The Florida Keys have 
taken a particular beating. I saw the pictures on TV this morning.
  As with Hurricane Harvey, the road to recovery will be long. As I 
said yesterday, I am ready to work with the administration and my 
Republican colleagues, when the time comes, to pass an aid package for 
the States dealing with Hurricane Irma.

                  National Defense Authorization Bill

  Mr. President, as discussions continue on NDAA, I would highlight a 
few amendments that are important to the Democratic side. We will be 
offering two amendments as part of our Better Deal agenda, including a 
``Buy American'' provision and an amendment that would drastically cut 
down on outsourcing.
  For too long, loopholes in our ``Buy American'' rules have allowed 
Federal agencies to waive ``Buy American'' requirements and skirt the 
spirit of the law. A single loophole--the overseas exemption, which 
allows a Federal agency to waive ``Buy American'' rules if the product 
is intended for use overseas--accounts for 65 percent of the exemptions 
that the Department of Defense issues in a given year.
  Senator Baldwin has an amendment that would eliminate these loopholes 
and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent by Federal agencies to 
purchase products that are made here in the United States.
  My friend Senator Stabenow has been a leading voice on this issue as 
well. She has an amendment that would also roll back the overseas 
exemption by requiring the DOD to identify and give consideration to 
domestically sourced items before soliciting any offers for anything 
that is not ``Buy American'' compliant.
  Right now, there are also several American companies with records of 
outsourcing American jobs that are receiving defense contracts, and 
companies receive a tax credit for outsourcing expenses rather than 
incentives to

[[Page S5195]]

bring jobs back to the United States. We should put a stop to both, and 
Senator Donnelly's amendment will do that. His amendment will give a 
tax credit of up to 20 percent for expenses that companies incur to 
bring jobs back to our shores.
  Another critical amendment is a bipartisan amendment offered by 
Senators Graham and Klobuchar on the issue of election security. The 
consensus of 17 U.S. intelligence agencies was that Russia, a foreign 
adversary, interfered in our elections. Make no mistake--their success 
in 2016 will encourage them to try again. We have State elections in a 
couple of months, and the 2018 election is a little more than a year 
away. We must improve our defenses now to ensure that we are prepared. 
The Graham-Klobuchar amendment would greatly strengthen our defenses, 
helping to prepare States for the inevitable cyber attacks that 
threaten the integrity of our elections. We should pass it as part of 
the NDAA.
  As Chairman McCain and Ranking Member Reed continue discussions on 
this bill--and I know their relationship is a good and strong one--I 
hope they strongly consider the inclusion of these three critical 

                     Election Integrity Commission

  Mr. President, speaking of elections, a word on President Trump's 
Election Integrity Commission, which is meeting with the public for the 
first time today in New Hampshire. I have three points.
  First, I would like to dispel the idea that this Commission has 
anything to do with election integrity. It was borne out of the 
President's baseless claim that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally 
in the 2016 elections. That is just not true. The Commission will never 
find evidence to support that claim.
  Second, the public officials on this Commission must stop making 
similarly outrageous claims about voter fraud in elections. Recently, 
the Commission's Vice Chair, Kris Kobach, claimed that the New 
Hampshire Senate election could have been swung by illegal votes 
because they found a number of voters who had out-of-State licenses. Of 
course, there are several reasonable, legal, legitimate reasons as to 
why someone would vote in a State while having a license from a 
different State. Most likely, if you live at a college in New Hampshire 
but come from out of State, your car has an out-of-State license plate. 
By State law, if you are registered at a New Hampshire college, it is 
perfectly legal to vote there.
  We all know that the States set these laws. In fact, when the 
Washington Post tried to identify some of these voters, the first four 
they randomly called were all college students who lived in New 
Hampshire but who went to school elsewhere.
  Yet this Commission and, I would say, particularly its Vice Chair, 
Mr. Kobach, are so eager to prove their point--which is virtually 
unprovable--that there is a huge amount of voter fraud that they come 
up with these baseless claims and then have to back off. Throwing these 
kinds of deeply misleading, bogus claims around about stolen elections 
and massive voter fraud without there being any actual evidence is 
extremely irresponsible and damaging to our democracy. They are so 
eager to prove their point about voter fraud, which is demonstrably 
false, that they are resorting to these crazy claims, discrediting 
their Commission and discrediting themselves.
  Lastly, a broader point. The Election Integrity Commission is a 
punishment in search of a transgression that never happened, which 
shows that it likely has an ulterior motive.
  Voter fraud is extremely rare. A comprehensive study by the 
Washington Post in 2014 concluded that out of over 1 billion ballots 
cast between 2000 and 2014, there were only 31 credible instances of 
voter fraud, and even some of those were debatable, according to the 
study. The Brennan Center for Justice concluded that an American has a 
better chance of being struck by lightening than impersonating another 
voter at the polls.
  So why the need for a Presidential advisory commission? Because the 
real target of the Election Integrity Commission is not voter fraud but 
voter suppression, especially the suppression of African-American 
voters, poor voters, elderly voters, and Latino voters. Just like the 
campaigns for outrageous voter ID laws in State after State--many have 
been thrown out by the courts for being blatantly discriminatory--the 
Election Integrity Commission seems focused on throwing up barriers to 
voting through intimidation, misleading claims, and controversial 
tactics, like the widespread collection of sensitive, personal voter 
  I think what this Commission is trying to do flies in the face of 
what the country is all about. We want everyone to vote. We do not want 
to scare people, intimidate people, or make it harder for people to 
vote. If there were overwhelming evidence of fraud, obviously we would 
need to do something, but there is not. As I said, it is a solution--a 
nasty solution--in search of a problem. The Election Integrity 
Commission ought to be disbanded, and we will be looking for ways to do 
that legislatively.
  The real threat to election integrity comes not from voter fraud but 
from foreign meddling and cyber attacks. We should pass the Graham-
Klobuchar amendment rather than continue with the nonsense of this 
  Moreover, with voter participation rates being so low, we should be 
spending our time and energy encouraging more Americans to exercise 
their fundamental right to vote rather than wasting taxpayer dollars 
for a commission to solve a problem that does not exist.

          50th Anniversary of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation

  Mr. President, before I yield the floor, today is the 50th 
anniversary of the founding of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, which 
does great work in my State in combating a very debilitating type of 
disease. I urge my colleagues to join me in recognizing the 
accomplishments of the foundation and encouraging more research, better 
access to care, and improved treatments for patients with Crohn's 
disease and ulcerative colitis.
  The New York-based Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, along with its 
partnering chapters across the country, is the largest national 
voluntary health group seeking the cure for Crohn's disease and 
ulcerative colitis. It also works to improve the quality of life of 
children and adults affected by these diseases.
  One in every 200 Americans struggles with Crohn's disease or 
ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel diseases, 
IBD. Although no cause has been identified for Crohn's disease, recent 
research suggests hereditary, genetics, and/or environmental factors 
contribute to the development of the disease. Further complicating 
matters, ulcerative colitis is the result of an abnormal response by 
the body's immune system.
  The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation sponsors basic and clinical research 
of the highest quality and offers a wide range of educational programs 
and supportive services for patients and healthcare professionals. In 
2015, IBD Plexus was launched. IBD Plexus is a groundbreaking 
initiative that provides the infrastructure and capacities to 
facilitate and accelerate research into the causes and treatments of 
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
  Federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health through 
the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 
the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and Prevention, and the 
Department of Defense each support meaningful research and public 
health activities on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. 
Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for 
Medicare and Medicaid Services both play a significant role in 
approving new treatments and facilitating health care financing 
policies that impact patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative 
  I deeply appreciate the work of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation and 
its longstanding dedication to the patients it represents. They have 
endeavored to improve the quality of life of so many Americans, and the 
U.S. Senate recognizes the foundation's 50th anniversary.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

[[Page S5196]]


  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 

                       Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, let me say that my heart goes out to the 
people of America who are, right now, dealing with Hurricanes Harvey 
and Irma and their aftermaths.

                Tribute to Steve Gleason and Donna Britt

  Mr. President, ALS, which I think most of us refer to as Lou Gehrig's 
disease, has hit us hard in Louisiana. It has hit our world hard, but 
it has hit especially hard in my State.
  A number of my colleagues and a number of Americans, I hope, were 
watching the night the New Orleans Saints returned to the field after 
our State was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. That night in the 
Superdome, a young man named Steve Gleason became a legend. I know it 
was just a football game, but he blocked a punt deep in the territory 
of the Saints' opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, for a touchdown. It was 
more than just a touchdown; it was a declaration that Louisiana was 
going to come back, that our spirit was not broken.
  Today, Steve Gleason is battling ALS. The medical term for ALS is 
``amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.'' We call it, as I said, Lou Gehrig's 
disease. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that destroys 
nerve cells in the brain and in the spinal cord. Regrettably, there is 
no cure. Steve, however, is determined to thrive and help others who 
have ALS.
  Within the past few weeks, we have also learned that another 
Louisianan has ALS--well-known Baton Rouge television news anchor Donna 
Britt. I will tell you, like Steve, Donna is showing true grit in the 
face of this horrible disease. Most of us would probably curl into a 
fetal position and cry if we were told we had a progressive 
neurodegenerative disease that is almost always fatal--but not Steve 
and certainly not Ms. Donna Britt. Their valor and their courage is 
inspirational to me and, I think, to all Louisianans. As Donna herself 
put it, she is going to continue living as a living person and not as a 
dying person.
  There is a famous line in a famous movie in which the main character 
says: I have a choice here--it is time to get busy living or get busy 
dying. Donna has chosen to get busy living. She is going to keep going 
to work, and she is going to keep caring for her family. Donna is 
educating herself about ALS. She has ordered a state-of-the-art 
wheelchair with Bluetooth technology, and she is adding words to a 
voice bank for when she can no longer speak because of this horrible 
disease. Donna Britt--I am not surprised--is determined to meet every 
  Let me say it again. This is pure valor. It is the type of courage in 
the face of adversity that inspires us all. It is also Donna. I do not 
know how to put that any other way. That is Donna Britt. Donna is a 
person who plays the oboe and who has survived breast cancer. She 
donates books to school libraries, and for charity she sings outside 
the Walmart during the holidays. She travels the world, and she 
delivers the news. She is a voice of comfort to all of those in her 
television media market, and she loves her family. She and her husband 
Mark Ballard have a son and a daughter. Her daughter Annie is a 
scientist working in DNA research, and their son Louie is a bright, 
young student in high school.

  Donna has delivered the news in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area for 
36 years. She spent her entire career, which is very unusual, at one 
television station--WAFB in Baton Rouge, which Donna has helped to make 
a powerhouse in Louisiana media. Donna has done her job so 
extraordinarily well that she has become a role model for young 
journalists--all journalists but particularly female journalists. I can 
tell my colleagues that folks in Baton Rouge feel Donna Britt is a part 
of their family. They trust her. That is because she is impartial, she 
is objective, and she is insightful. Since 1981, she has been on the 
air with the people of the Baton Rouge metropolitan area through 
storms, through inaugurations, through just about every major news 
event, good times and bad, that one can imagine. Donna also takes our 
people into the community and introduces them to interesting people.
  A few months ago, Donna realized her health wasn't what it should be. 
There is no definitive test for ALS, as perhaps my colleagues know. 
Basically, the doctors have to rule everything else out before 
determining that one has ALS. As she struggled to figure out why she 
was losing the use of her fingers and her legs, Donna didn't keep her 
viewers in the dark. She brought them along for the journey in frank, 
candid Facebook videos. Along the way, she educated them--ever the 
journalist--on what it is like to have a degenerative disease.
  At a family reunion this summer, Donna all of a sudden could not 
stand any longer. Now, that is a problem when you stand behind a desk 
to deliver the news--not for Donna. It was just another challenge to 
conquer. She promptly ordered a wheelchair that would adapt to her new 
  Now Donna Britt is working with Louisiana State University to prepare 
for the day when her respiratory and diaphragm muscles are too weak for 
her to vocalize what she is thinking. With LSU's help, she is putting 
words into a voice bank for the future. Once again, it is just another 
challenge for Donna Britt to conquer.
  I am very proud of Steve Gleason, and I am also very proud of Donna 
Britt. As angry as I am that anyone has to live with this dreadful 
disease ALS, I am proud they are inspiring an army of ALS sufferers by 
meeting every challenge and battling to thrive. I am proud that Steve 
and Donna are inspiring all of us with their valor and their courage.
  Thank you.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CRUZ. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Flake). Without objection, it is so