(Senate - September 28, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 156 (Thursday, September 28, 2017)]
[Pages S6202-S6205]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of the Pai nomination, which the clerk will 
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Ajit 
Varadaraj Pai, of Kansas, to be a Member of the Federal Communications 
Commission for a term of five years from July 1, 2016.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the time until 1:45 
p.m. will be equally divided.
  The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. NELSON. Madam President, I want to speak on the renomination of 
Ajit Pai to serve as Chairman of the FCC, the Federal Communications 
Commission, to serve for a term of 5 years.
  Under the previous administration, the FCC always had the consumers' 
back. Back then, that administration's FCC strengthened consumer 
protections. It furthered competition, it protected public safety, and 
it pushed forward to ensure universal service for all Americans.
  Ultimately, the success or failure of the FCC rises and rests not on 
the fulfillment of special interest wish lists but on the treatment of 
those who are least able to protect themselves and whether their First 
Amendment rights, including those of journalists, are vigorously 
  Chairman Pai has been a vocal and excessively partisan and often 
hostile opponent of pro-consumer steps taken by his colleagues on the 
FCC. We have seen that time after time in the previous administration.
  Since becoming Chairman of the FCC this year, he has systematically 
undercut much of the work done over the past 8 years. I want to give 
you several examples.
  He has acted to prevent millions of broadband subscribers from 
receiving key information about rates, terms, and conditions of their 
service. This is called disclosure. He has threatened the expansion of 
broadband into the homes of low-income Americans by limiting the 
effectiveness of the new Lifeline Program reforms. If that is not 
enough, he has proposed sweeping limits on the ability of States and 
localities to review and improve the installation of certain types of 
wireless equipment. Furthermore, he has supported the moves by the GOP 
Congress to eliminate commonsense privacy rules for broadband services.
  If all of that is not enough, he has eliminated several media 

[[Page S6203]]

rules, paving the way for a massive consolidation among TV and radio 
broadcast stations. Continuing, he has acted as if the way to improve 
broadband in rural America is to lower standards and saddle our most 
remote communities with slower speed and worse service. He has also 
opposed widely supported updates to the E-Rate Program, which brings 
broadband to schools and libraries in every State in the Nation and 
leaves that critical program's budget--and the American 
schoolchildren--in the dial-up era. That is not what we want for our 
students. Furthermore, he has curtailed rules designed to help small 
businesses, schools, libraries, and hospitals to find competitive 
options for high-capacity telecommunications services. What that is 
going to do is likely raise the cost of these services and potentially 
harm their quality.
  The list I just gave does not include the elephant in the room--
Chairman Pai's planned elimination of the FCC's net neutrality 
protections. This Senator has been very clear that I oppose the effort 
to revoke these essential consumer protections on the internet. I think 
Chairman Pai's proposed course is shortsighted, especially when his 
preferred approach seems to be the abandonment of the FCC's oversight 
on the action of broadband providers. These are actions that directly 
impact on the lives of millions of Americans.
  In March, I sent to Chairman Pai my deeply held concerns about some 
of these actions, and I expressed my sincere hope that his early moves 
were not a sign of things to come, but unfortunately my concerns have 
only been heightened by his record over the months since that 
  At the end of the day, the FCC has a responsibility to put the public 
interests ahead of the powerful special interests. Just as it has been 
under the leadership of the past Chairmen and Chairwomen, Congress 
expects the current FCC to uphold the laws the Congress has passed and 
to enforce the regulations properly adopted by the agency.
  The vast majority of the actions of Chairman Pai have served to 
eliminate competitive protections, to threaten dangerous industry 
consolidation, to make the internet less free and less open, and to 
weaken consumer protections for those most vulnerable.
  Ultimately, we need an FCC Chairman who has the consumers' backs. We 
need an FCC Chairman who is not afraid to use the robust statutory 
authority Congress has given to the FCC to protect consumers. Based on 
his record, I have serious and longstanding concerns about whether 
Chairman Pai really does have the consumers' backs. As a result, I will 
oppose this nomination.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.

                          FAA Reauthorization

  Mr. MORAN. Madam President, it is nice to see the ranking member of 
the Commerce Committee on the floor today. I appreciate that he and I 
share a particular view about the privatization of air traffic control.
  Today, we are going to presumably pass a 6-month extension for the 
Federal Aviation Administration. It was passed by the House earlier 
today, and once again we are in a position which, in my view, we 
shouldn't be in. We ought to be passing a long-term authorization of 
the Federal Aviation Administration. Last year, we did so. The Senate, 
with 95 votes, passed a 4-year FAA bill. It was the kind of meaningful, 
bipartisan accomplishment that is too rare in Congress today.
  I supported that bill, but unfortunately when it was sent to the 
House and it came time to meet that last year's deadline, we were 
ultimately forced to pass a short-term extension--which I opposed.
  Our ongoing efforts to pass a long-term bill, Republicans and 
Democrats in both Chambers of Congress, have found common ground and 
consensus among the entire aviation community on a wide range of 
important issues.
  I am talking about reforms to strengthen the Contract Power Program, 
one of the most and overwhelmingly popular and successful FAA programs. 
That matters a lot to the State of Kansas, and communities in the State 
of Nebraska as well, the home of the Presiding Officer in the Senate.
  I am talking about streamlining the aircraft certification process 
that allows the FAA to focus its valuable resources elsewhere while 
generating a positive impact on our economy and job security in the 
aviation manufacturing sector. Because, once again, Congress refuses to 
set aside the perpetually controversial proposal to privatize our 
Nation's air traffic control, we are left, again, with a short-term 
extension. It is another one of those take-it-or-leave-it moments that 
is occurring here at the eleventh hour in advance of September 30.
  We know in the Senate this proposal for privatization will never have 
the votes to pass. Yet we keep considering short-term extensions that 
are damaging to the aviation community, particularly the airports that 
need certainty in planning their infrastructure projects, and they will 
be, first and foremost, to improve the safety for our air travelers.
  A 6-month extension, in my view, is too short to provide the 
certainty that is needed. The grant process, at the Department of 
Transportation, will be ongoing, but no airport can plan based upon 
whether the FAA is going to be authorized 6 months from now.
  I have come to the floor numerous times before to talk about how 
Kansas is a special place when it comes to aviation. Kansas has built 
three out of every four general aviation aircraft since the Wright 
brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk. Today, over 40,000 Kansans earn a 
living in manufacturing, operating, and servicing our world's highest 
quality aircraft. These aviation businesses and their employees depend 
upon our ability to compete in a global marketplace, an ability which 
is significantly damaged when we are putting off passage of a long-term 
reauthorization bill not just once but year after year.
  While general aviation manufacturing is our State's largest industry, 
it is not just those manufacturers and their employees who understand 
the problems and ramifications with privatization of air traffic 
  I have often said on the floor that I think at times I get 
categorized, as a Senator from Kansas, as a State that manufactures 
lots of airplanes and that my views are therefore solely related to the 
airplane manufacturing sector. I certainly bring that perspective to 
Congress, and I speak often and work often on behalf of the 
manufacturing of aircraft. But any of us who represent airports and 
communities that are not the largest in the country ought to oppose the 
privatization of air traffic control.
  This is not the traditional rural-versus-urban argument that occurs 
sometimes around here. This is not about little towns versus everybody 
else. This is about everyone except for the largest cities with the 
largest airports and the most travelers. So this is not about just 
Garden City, KS; or Manhattan, my hometown; or Hays, my former 
hometown. This is about Wichita and Topeka. This is about Kansas City. 
All but the absolutely largest airports would be damaged by the 
privatization of air traffic control.
  We have said this many times. It is important to the manufacturers, 
but it is also important to the survival of communities that I 
represent and that all of my colleagues represent across the country.
  Everywhere I go in Kansas, I am reminded that ATC privatization is a 
bad idea. The idea that we would allow a 13-member private board to 
make decisions about the future of airports and air transportation 
across the country is troublesome. Moreover, even the major providers 
of aircraft and avionics equipment that reside in Kansas--those 
businesses that create thousands of jobs in my State--are perhaps even 
more outspoken against privatization than anyone. These businesses know 
that privatization of the Nation's most complex air system is a 
solution without a problem that will ultimately create lots of 
problems, lots of unintended consequences.
  Americans expect leadership from their elected officials in 
Washington. At a time when partisan dysfunction puts up constant 
barriers in the legislative process, we should be doing everything we 
can to find common ground and pass legislation that will have immediate 
positive impacts on our economy. For so much of the FAA reauthorization 
last year and again this year, we found that common ground--except for 
this one divisive

[[Page S6204]]

issue that we know ultimately will not become law. It impedes the 
opportunity to do what, without almost any exception, Members of the 
House and Senate have agreed to.
  True FAA reform will dramatically increase the ability of American 
aviation manufacturers and businesses to create jobs. This short-term 
extension represents yet another regrettably missed opportunity to do 
just that.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sasse). The Senator from Alaska.

                       Tribute to rozann Kimpton

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, every week, I have been coming to the 
floor to talk about my State and what I think makes it the greatest 
State in the country and in the world. We like to celebrate and 
recognize somebody in Alaska who is making a difference for their 
community, for the State, and for the country, and we like to call 
these extraordinary Alaskan individuals our Alaskan of the Week.
  Like many of us here in the Senate, I spent a lot of time recently in 
August traveling throughout my home State, and wherever I went, I met 
strong, generous, versatile Alaskans, many of whom survive in some of 
the harshest conditions on the planet but still have time for their 
communities and their families and their neighbors. But, like in many 
places around the country, I also saw the scourge of addiction that is 
tearing apart communities and tearing apart families.
  We have all heard how addiction is often passed down through 
generations. There are many in Alaska and many throughout the country 
who are determined to break this intergenerational cycle of addiction 
and many who are succeeding. We don't always hear about them, but there 
are many. So this afternoon I wish to introduce my colleagues to 81-
year-old Rozann Kimpton, our Alaskan of the Week, who is doing that and 
a lot more.
  Rozann and her husband moved to Alaska from Washington State in 1958, 
and they immediately settled in. They ran businesses together, 
including a small retail store, and then they got into construction and 
contracting. They raised two children. They were a team. About 10 years 
ago, they moved to a large plot of land in Wasilla, AK--over 50 acres--
to spend time in retirement, and they made plans: gardening, traveling 
around the world. But it didn't take long for Rozann to recognize that 
something was wrong--very wrong--in her family, particularly with what 
was happening to two of her great-grandchildren, Luke and Amanda. They 
were living in a situation that was harmful to them and they needed 
  At this point, Rozann's husband was also suffering from his own 
illness--cancer--but the two of them took Luke and Amanda in and 
adopted them. ``It was the only way to make sure they were safe,'' 
Rozann said. ``And when a kid needs to be taken care of, and when a 
mommy and daddy can't, you do it,'' she said. ``I couldn't live with 
myself knowing that they were in danger and I did nothing.'' This is 
Rozann talking about her two great-grandkids.
  That was 10 years ago. Rozann, now a widow, lives with Amanda and 
Luke on that big plot of land in Wasilla. Amanda is a senior in high 
school, and Luke is an eighth grader. They are great kids. As a matter 
of fact, I just had the opportunity to visit with them in my office 
  Amanda loves geometry. She plays a violin with the Wasilla Youth 
Orchestra and drums and dances with the Intertribal Drum Group in 
Anchorage. Luke's big dream is to join the Navy, which I think is 
  The three of them volunteer in their community, helping foster kids. 
Amanda makes blankets for the foster kids. Every Sunday, they drive 
over 100 miles to attend Emanuel Presbyterian Church in Anchorage, 
which is like a second home to all of them.
  In addition to all of this, Rozann is the area volunteer coordinator 
for Volunteers of America Grandfamilies, a grandparents support group. 
Once a month, she has a picnic for her fellow grandparents and other 
parents who have adopted kids. The kids play games, eat hamburgers and 
hot dogs, and adults sit around the campfire, share stories, and 
encourage one another in all the work they are doing. She is in 
constant contact with about 25 families, and whenever she spots someone 
she thinks might need help with their kids, their grandkids, or their 
great-grandkids, she gives them her card.
  ``I am not a shy person,'' she said. ``I will talk to anyone who 
looks like they are struggling, and I am particularly good at spotting 
grandparents who are raising kids''--grandparents who are raising kids 
throughout our great Nation.
  As the opioid crisis is hitting Alaska, just like it is hitting so 
many other States, she is seeing more and more grandparents stepping 
in. ``It is a plague,'' she said, ``but the most important thing is to 
help the children as early as possible, and to do what we can to make 
sure they don't carry on that plague.''
  Rozann Kimpton is here right now in Washington, DC. As I mentioned, I 
had a great meeting with her yesterday. She is here to attend a banquet 
where her efforts will be recognized. She is the 2017 recipient of the 
Alaska Angels in Adoption Award and will be recognized by the 
Congressional Coalition on Adoption.
  Rozann, thank you for your warmth and for all your hard work for 
Alaska. Congratulations on your award, and congratulations on being our 
Alaskan of the Week.

                            Economic Growth

  Mr. President, an issue I have been coming to the Senate floor to 
speak about for the past couple of years is an issue that I don't think 
we focus on enough here in the Congress, here in the Senate, and that 
is the key issue of America's economic growth.
  With the exception of national security, strong, robust economic 
growth is probably the most important issue we can be focused on in 
this body. We certainly have many challenges in this country, but so 
many of them are made easier when the American economy is strong, when 
job opportunities are plentiful and optimism in the future because of 
that strong economic growth is high.
  So how have we been doing over the past decade? I want everyone to 
take a look at this chart. The answer is, not very well; not very well 
at all. This chart shows the gross domestic product--GDP--decade after 
decade through different administrations, Democratic and Republican, 
over the last several decades. So if we take a look at the chart, we 
see Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush 41 and 
43, and President Obama. We see where levels have been. We see that 
over the years, over the decades, the average economic growth is about 
right here--about 4 percent.
  There has been a lot of talk about what has made America great and 
what makes America great. This is what makes America great: strong, 
robust, economic growth decade after decade. That is the key.
  So what happened over the past decade, right here? If we take a look 
right here at this red line, that is 3 percent. That is not the 
traditional level. Traditional levels over 200-plus years of American 
history are closer to 4 percent. But 3 percent GDP growth is considered 
OK--not bad, not great, but pretty good, and something we should all 
aspire to, something we should hit.
  When we look at this chart, we see that in the last decade we never 
hit it, not even 3 percent GDP growth--more like 1.5, 2 percent. As a 
matter of fact, President Obama is the first President in American 
history where we never hit 3 percent GDP growth for a year.
  I know what some may be thinking. This seems to be a pretty important 
issue, right? Economic growth last decade not even hitting 3 percent. 
Why wasn't the press writing about that? We didn't hear many stories in 
the press about this very important issue--a decade of lost economic 
growth. Many of us come to the floor to talk about this critical issue, 
and there is a yawn in the Press Gallery. There is no interest. It is 
hard to understand why.
  One theory I have is that if you look at our country more broadly, 
these are the numbers--very, very weak growth--but certain places in 
the country over the last 10 years have actually done very well, 
especially this city, Washington, DC. It has been growing very strong, 
with probably 5, 6 percent growth. Some other places, some of the 
coastal big cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Boston, are 
all doing well--way higher than 3 percent. They are growing stronger. 
So the

[[Page S6205]]

press, in my view, is probably not that interested in this number 
because in places like Washington, everything seemed to be going great. 
But it wasn't going great.
  Think about this: If Washington or L.A. or New York or San Francisco 
are growing at 3 or 4 percent growth and yet the country is at about 
1.5 or 2 percent, then there are probably huge parts of America that 
are actually shrinking, not growing at all.
  These charts talk about economic growth, GDP. It can sound a little 
bit wonky. Really, GDP is a marker for the health of our economy. It is 
an indicator of American progress. It is a proxy for the American dream 
and optimism in the future.
  As this chart shows, we have had a sick economy over the last 10 
years, a lost decade of economic growth. The press hasn't written much 
about it, and when they have, they have typically bought the line of 
the previous administration saying: Hey, look, we know that the 
traditional levels of economic growth are close to 4 percent. Look at 
Clinton, look at Reagan--4\1/2\, 5, 6. We know that is the case. We 
know 3 percent is OK. But we haven't hit that in the last 10 years, so 
what is wrong? Well, the press started buying the line from the last 
administration: That is the ``new normal.'' We can't hit 3 percent 
anymore. We certainly can't hit 4 percent anymore. So 1\1/2\, 2 percent 
is America hitting on all cylinders. I believe that is a surrender. I 
believe dumbing down our expectations for economic growth is a retreat 
from the American dream.
  As you know, the American people aren't buying this. They are not 
buying the dumbing down. They are not saying: Oh yeah, we can live with 
this 1\1/2\ percent growth. Sure. No problem. They are wise, and they 
aren't buying the dumbing down.
  We all saw the book recently released by former Senator and Secretary 
of State Hillary Clinton, and her book is entitled ``What Happened.'' 
What happened? This is what happened: Our citizens saw the American 
dream slipping away after a lost decade of economic growth, and they 
weren't ready to surrender to the new normal.
  What do we need to focus on in the Senate? We have to start moving 
beyond this. We have to. We need policies that are going to focus on 
reigniting growth--the growth that Democrats and Republicans have 
supported for decades. What is that? I think there is a lot of 
agreement--infrastructure, less burdensome regulations, energy. America 
has enormous supplies of energy that we can take advantage of. Yet the 
issue we are starting to debate now in the Senate is tax reform.
  As we debate this and work in a bipartisan way--I have heard a lot of 
my colleagues say that we do need to undertake tax reform. We need to 
keep asking ourselves, on all these policies, what they will do to 
reignite growth, to reignite the American dream, to allow hard-working 
American families to keep more of their paychecks, and to return to the 
optimism that comes with a robust economy, not just along the coast of 
America but throughout the entire country, to get back to that optimism 
and growth. That is what I am going to be doing as we undertake this 
debate on tax reform.
  The Trump administration is off to an OK start. The first quarter--
again, kind of a hangover from the Obama years--1.2 percent growth. 
That is not good at all. The last quarter, second quarter, was 3.1. It 
hit above 3 percent, which is what the President says his policies are 
meant to do. As long as they are focused on that, I certainly am going 
to be somebody who wants to support those kinds of pro-growth policies, 
and I think it is imperative, whether it is tax reform, infrastructure, 
regulatory reform, or energy, that we all come together in this body 
and make sure we work together so the next decade of growth in America 
does not look like this last one and gets us over 3 percent, gets us 
back to traditional levels of growth. I don't think there is anything 
more important we can do in the Senate than getting back to those 
important levels of growth for our country and our citizens.

              Tribute to Tyler Roberts and Michael Soukup

  Mr. President, I wish to say a few words about some of my staff who 
have done a great job serving Alaskans and who are leaving my office 
soon. I am going to miss them a lot. One is here now, and he will 
probably be embarrassed that I am talking about him on the Senate 
floor--Tyler Roberts.
  Tyler has been a legislative assistant of mine, handling healthcare, 
budget, tax. He is leaving to join the private sector. He has been with 
me from the beginning, 2\1/2\ years ago. I can tell you this: He has 
worked long hours serving the people of our great State and has set a 
tone in the office of hard work, diligent work, good-natured, and we 
are going to miss Tyler very much.
  I wish to also recognize Michael Soukup. Michael is our digital 
director and press secretary. From educating Alaskans on what we are 
doing in DC to designing poster boards like this, creating awesome 
graphics and videos, Michael has been an invaluable member of my team 
as well. He is an artist. Like all good artists, his work has a 
distinctive look and style. If you see one of my photo montages on 
Facebook and you think it is well-done, which we do, you can thank 
Michael. We call them Soukup specials.
  Tyler has also worked tirelessly for me and Alaska, his home State. I 
know that he will bring the same amount of creativity, ingenuity, and 
integrity to all he does as he moves into the next phase of his career.
  Thank you to all my staff.
  Mr. President, 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. 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.