EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 80
(Senate - May 16, 2018)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Pages S2687-S2698]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the following 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read the nomination of Mitchell Zais, of South 
Carolina, to be Deputy Secretary of Education.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.


            Calling for the Release of Pastor Andrew Brunson

  Mr. TILLIS. Mr. President, this is my third occasion on a speech that 
I wish that I didn't have to give on the floor of the U.S. Senate, but 
I promise that I am going to give a speech on this subject every week 
that the Senate is open for as long as I am a U.S. Senator and there is 
a man in a Turkish prison who I don't believe should be.
  This man's name is Andrew Brunson, Pastor Brunson. He is a 
Presbyterian minister from Black Mountain, NC, who has been in Turkey 
for about the last 20 years with his wife. He raised his family there. 
He is a Presbyterian minister who at first just did ministry work. He 
didn't have a church to actually open up to the community. He just did 
ministry work--preached the Word and delivered the Word for the people 
in Turkey who wanted to hear it. It was a small church with only about 
50 full-time members. It was a church that was just outside of Izmir. 
It was actually in Izmir proper, which is one of the larger cities in 
Turkey.
  As of today, this man has been in prison for 586 days. He was 
actually taken to prison, without charges, under the emergency order 
after the coup in 2016. He was put in prison on October 4, 2016. For 
almost 17 months, he was held in a prison cell that was designed for 8 
prisoners but had 21 in it. None of the other ones were American. None 
of the other ones were English speaking. Many of them were charged on 
either ISIS or terrorist charges or for plotting a coup attempt. He was 
in that prison for almost 17 months. He lost 50 pounds. His health 
diminished. His mental state, as anyone would expect, diminished. Yet 
he is a strong man of faith, and hopefully he will continue to have the 
strength to go through this horrible process.
  We have been handling this. We have what we call casework. If 
somebody in North Carolina needs help, whatever that may be, we 
encourage them to call our office, and we open a case. We do any number 
of things for veterans, for military families, for seniors--anybody. If 
you need help in getting through to the Federal Government, you call 
our office. So we opened a case on Pastor Brunson about a year ago, and 
we have been trying to work through diplomatic channels to get him 
released.
  About 3 months ago or 4 months ago, we heard that the indictment was 
going to be served on Pastor Brunson. I received word from some of the 
family members and people in the faith-based community that they were 
concerned that the American people were going to read the indictment 
and really judge him as guilty and turn their backs on him and have him 
languish in prison for what would be, essentially, a life sentence. He 
is 50 years old, and the charges would be up to 35 years.
  It was so important for me to have him know that we cared about him 
that I traveled to Turkey. I got a visa to go to Turkey and made a 
request to go to that Turkish prison and look Pastor Brunson eye to eye 
and tell him that we were not going to forget about him and that we 
were going to do everything we could to work for his release and the 
release of a number of other people who I genuinely believe, in Turkey, 
are subject to religious persecution.
  I met with him in the prison for about an hour and a half. It turns 
out

[[Page S2688]]

that we had just found out that his first court date was going to be 
about 3 weeks later, so I decided to go back to Turkey 3 weeks later 
and be in that courtroom to hear the testimony for myself, to hear the 
62-page indictment play out. I was in that courtroom from about 9 
o'clock in the morning on Monday until about 10 o'clock that night. If 
you don't know what a kangaroo court is and you can't read it on this 
slide, just Google it quickly, because what I saw was a kangaroo court.
  First off, you should think about the setting. It is unlike any 
setting you could ever imagine in the United States. It doesn't have a 
trial jury, but it has a three-judge panel up there, and the prosecutor 
is really elevated to almost being another judge. The prosecutor was up 
at the dais. We were in a room that was about half the size of this 
room. It was maybe about two-thirds the size. It was a big room. The 
defense attorney was off to the side about another 30 or 40 feet, and 
the defendant was right in front of this panel of judges and was being 
looked down upon. He had to testify for 6 hours on his own behalf. One 
doesn't have a choice in Turkey. Then they listed the charges.
  Why do I say it was a kangaroo court? Let me give a summary. I am not 
going to cover all of the charges because my time is limited today, but 
let me give a summary of some of the charges.
  In the time I was there, there were about a half dozen secret 
witnesses. The defendant didn't get to face his accusers. In Turkey, 
these secret witnesses can say what they want to say. The essence of 
one secret witness's testimony was that he knew that Pastor Brunson was 
involved in either plotting the coup or in working with the PKK, which 
is a terrorist organization fundamentally made up of Kurds, because he 
witnessed a light on in this church for 4 hours.
  First off, in the U.S. system, I know you are probably not going to 
get prosecuted for 35 years for having a light on for 4 hours--at least 
I hope not. Yet what makes this even more challenging is that this is 
the church. This church only seats about 120 people. It has two very 
small upstairs' rooms. I know because I have been there. We took these 
pictures when I visited Turkey after the visit to the prison. This is 
the room that is alleged to have had a light on for 4 hours, but there 
is one problem--no window, no way to possibly see into this room. In 
fact, the windows downstairs are closed with storm--I am trying to 
think of the name--shutters, wooden shutters. There is no way you could 
even see in. Yet this witness had what they considered to be compelling 
testimony that a light had been on, and for that reason, the pastor had 
to have been involved in the terrorist plot or the coup.
  Another of the charges that have been alleged by the prosecution is 
that all of the churches in America are connected and that they 
actually work in unison in other countries to disrupt the governments 
of other countries. A Christian church may take the Word to people in 
other countries, but it is really kind of organized as an intelligence-
gathering and destabilizing force on behalf of the American Government 
in order to disrupt other sovereign nations.
  Literally, this is how they have been thinking, and this is what they 
have been using to prosecute him. It is a kangaroo court.
  I maintain that what we have is a hostage situation here. We have 
President Erdogan saying: If we give him a pass, give us somebody we 
are trying to extradite from the United States. On the one hand, they 
say you have to work through the system, and we have to let justice be 
served. On the other hand, the President has said: If you give us 
somebody we are trying to extradite from the United States, then we 
will give you Pastor Brunson. This is a hostage situation. This is 
religious persecution.
  I will finish with this. Turkey is a NATO ally. It is an important 
NATO ally. It has been in NATO since 1952. It is in a very dangerous 
part of the world. It has a lot of challenges that it has to deal 
with--the Syrian conflict and its own internal economic challenges. 
There are a number of challenges, and I understand that President 
Erdogan's job is difficult. I would like to make it easier. As a co-
lead of the Senate's NATO Observer Group, I would like to actually 
strengthen our partnership and make safer and more secure its homeland 
and its threat from foreign adversaries.
  Yet, today, I have a NATO ally that is behaving like no NATO ally 
ever has in the history of the alliance. These are the sorts of things 
we are supposed to be doing as members of the NATO alliance, not 
illegally imprisoning for 586 days a Presbyterian minister.
  We will be doing the NDAA markup next week, which is the National 
Defense Authorization Act. I will be working with other Members and 
will have to put forth provisions in the NDAA, which is the last thing 
that I would like to do. I would like to put provisions forward that 
strengthen the alliance with NATO, that send a very clear signal that 
we want to help them secure their homeland, and that send a clear 
signal that we want to work together in the fight in Syria. But today I 
can't have that as a priority. Today my No. 1 priority is releasing 
Pastor Brunson. I hope everybody understands that this is something 
that everybody--whether you are from North Carolina, North Dakota, or 
any State in this Nation--should all stand as a nation saying: This is 
not how you treat an American citizen and certainly not a NATO ally.

  I look forward, hopefully, to never doing this speech again. I hope 
that by next week Pastor Brunson is free and that we sent a very clear 
message to all the other people in Turkey who are in prison because of 
their faith that this is unacceptable behavior.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.


                   Recognition of the Majority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader is recognized.


                       Nomination of Gina Haspel

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, yesterday, the Senate confirmed two 
more superbly qualified circuit court nominees. Joel Carson and John 
Nalbandian are the 20th and the 21st circuit judges we have confirmed 
this Congress.
  This morning our colleagues on the Intelligence Committee finished 
their consideration of Gina Haspel to be CIA Director and reported her 
nomination favorably with bipartisan support. Ms. Haspel's testimony 
and record have showcased the poise, talent, and experience that make 
her an excellent selection.
  Senators heard about her 30-plus years of CIA experience, spanning 
sensitive operations from the Cold War to the Global War on Terror. 
That background makes Ms. Haspel an ideal pick at this particular 
moment, when Secretary Mattis has explained that counterterrorism and a 
renewed great-power competition are two of the key challenges facing 
our Nation.
  So it is no wonder that James Clapper, President Obama's Director of 
National Intelligence, said: ``I think the world of Gina; she is 
capable, smart, very experienced, well-respected by the Agency rank and 
file, and a great person.''
  Just yesterday, our current DNI, Dan Coats, wrote in USA Today that 
``she is a person of high integrity with valuable frontline and 
executive experience . . . who is willing to speak truth to power when 
required on behalf of our nation.''
  Gina Haspel is the right woman at the right time. Her nomination has 
support from national security leaders and Senators in both parties. 
There is no reason why her confirmation should be delayed, and I look 
forward to advancing it expeditiously following the committee's action.


                             Net Neutrality

  Mr. President, on another matter, over the last 20 years, the 
internet has yielded progress that was the stuff of science fiction 
just a generation ago. In so many ways it has spawned a new economy and 
fostered new connections across the country and the world.
  In large part these successes owe to a bipartisan consensus that 
Washington, DC, should be largely hands-off, but, of course, like every 
exciting new frontier of the economy, the internet attracted attention 
from the crowd that prefers to regulate first and ask questions later.
  In 2015 President Obama's FCC set out to fix what wasn't broken. It 
imposed regulations designed for Depression-era telephones on new 
technologies that fit in our pockets. So

[[Page S2689]]

much for the light-touch approach that helped the early internet grow.
  Last year, under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC sought 
to rectify this mistake and restore the rules that helped the internet 
flourish while still protecting consumers from abuses. The resolution 
Democrats are putting forward today would undo that progress. It would 
reimpose heavy-handed Depression-era rules on the most vibrant, fast-
growing sectors of our economy. It is wrong on the merits. It is also 
the wrong way to go about this process.
  The CRA is useful when it lets elected representatives rein in 
regulatory overreach by unelected bureaucrats, but this resolution 
doesn't seek to rein in overregulation. It seeks to reimpose it. What 
is worse, by using the CRA mechanism, the Democrats seek to make the 
2015 rules permanent going forward. The CRA would handicap this FCC or 
future FCC's ability to revise the rules even if provisions were widely 
seen as necessary.
  There is a better way to proceed. It is called bipartisan 
legislation. Senator Thune has reached out to the Democrats on the 
committee to draft internet ``rules of the road'' for the 21st 
century--a set of rules that would safeguard consumers but still 
prevent regulators from stifling innovation at every turn. Already, 
multiple Democratic colleagues have drawn the same conclusions with 
regards to preemptive overcorrection by the FCC. The senior Senator 
from Florida and the junior Senator from Hawaii, for example, have both 
expressed a desire to collaborate on bipartisan legislation.
  But Democrats have already made clear that the resolution today is 
about the elections in November. They know they will not ultimately be 
successful, but they want to campaign on their desire to add new 
regulations to the internet. This resolution takes us in the wrong 
direction, and we should reject it.


                               Tax Reform

  Mr. President, on one final matter, later today I will be meeting 
with members of an industry with deep roots in my home State of 
Kentucky--our bourbon and spirits distillers.
  Judging by recent headlines, we will have plenty of good news to 
discuss. After 8 years of Democrats' policies enriching big cities but 
leaving small businesses behind, Republican policies are helping 
workers and job creators to thrive all across our country. From 
Louisville to Kansas City to Portland, our growing craft distilling 
industry is a perfect example. They are enjoying a pro-growth provision 
in the historic tax reform Republicans passed last year, which lowered 
excise taxes on beer, wine, and spirits and modernized the regulatory 
policy affecting each.
  Interestingly enough, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform 
Act even began as a bipartisan effort with 56 cosponsors here in the 
Senate, led by Senators Blunt, Wyden, and Portman.
  Of course, not a single Democrat showed up when it was time to vote 
on tax reform. But Republicans accomplished it anyway, and now the New 
York Times can publish stories about how the measure is making a big 
difference for small craft distillers.
  As one such report puts it, distilling is a burgeoning source of 
jobs, tax revenue, and tourism dollars in every State. For example, the 
Kentucky Distillers' Association reported that just last year the 
bourbon industry accounted for 17,500 jobs and over 1 million visitors 
to my home State. That is a big shift from the so-called Obama 
recovery, when almost all the limited jobs and investment poured into 
the biggest cities. But it is a new day.
  Now, FEW Spirits, in Illinois, has hired more workers and is 
replacing its overseas glassmaker with an American one. J. Rieger & 
Co., in Missouri, has found extra room in the budget to expand its 
sales team and begin selling its products further across the country.
  In the Democratic leader's own backyard of Brooklyn, the New York 
Distilling Company recently cut the wholesale case price on its 
signature gin by more than 50 percent. According to one of its 
cofounders, Allen Katz, ``the reaction from our industry peers has been 
jaw-dropping.'' In Kentucky, which is home to more than 50 
distilleries, there are plenty of examples to choose from. Thanks to 
the lowered excise tax, Casey Jones Distillery, a small operation in 
Hopkinsville, is growing its team, increasing production and planning 
to enhance its event space. Copper & Kings, in Louisville, has been 
able to hire more workers and is preparing to expand its warehouse and 
add a new bar for guests. The Copper & Kings team recently shared with 
me that tax reform is ``one of the most important initiatives [the 
Senate] could pursue to help create jobs for small businesses in 
Kentucky.''
  My Democratic colleagues failed to block tax reform last year, and 
now they want to just keep arguing about it. They even propose to 
repeal it and roll back Americans' tax cuts, but entrepreneurs across 
the country are loving our new 21st century Tax Code. They are using it 
to expand operations and to create jobs.
  It is hard to argue with results--not that it has stopped our 
Democratic friends from trying, and I am sure they will continue to 
try. But Republicans will stay focused on taking steps like these and 
raising a glass to America's small businesses.
  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. MARKEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                             Net Neutrality

  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, today is a monumental day. Today is the 
day the U.S. Senate votes on the future of the internet, the most 
powerful platform for commerce and communications in the history of the 
planet. Today, we show the American people who sides with them and who 
sides with the powerful special interests and corporate donors who are 
thriving under this administration.
  Today, we vote on my Congressional Review Act resolution to save net 
neutrality. Net neutrality may sound complicated, but it is actually 
very simple. After you pay your monthly internet bill, you should be 
able to access all content on the web at the same speed--no slowing 
down certain websites, no blocking websites, and no charging you more 
to exercise your 21st century right to access the internet. It is as 
simple as that.
  If that sounds like common sense, you are not alone. In fact, 
according to a recent poll, 86 percent of Americans support net 
neutrality. This isn't a partisan issue; 82 percent of Republicans 
support net neutrality.
  Every day, we are told that this country is more divided than ever, 
that our differences outnumber our similarities. Well, the American 
people agree on net neutrality. They agree that the internet is for 
everyone. They agree that we cannot afford to blindly trust a few 
internet service providers--AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Charter--to put 
consumers first. Yet, once again, the Trump administration has 
neglected the will of everyday Americans and given a gift to the rich 
and the powerful.
  In December, the Trump Federal Communications Commission eliminated 
the very rules that prevent your internet service provider from 
indiscriminately charging more for internet fast lanes, slowing down 
websites, blocking websites, and making it harder and maybe even 
impossible for entrepreneurs, job creators, and small businesses--the 
lifeblood of the American economy--to connect to the internet.
  The Trump Federal Communications Commission picked clear winners and 
losers when it repealed net neutrality. When the Federal Communications 
Commission decision takes effect on June 11, Big Telecom will have new 
tools to inflate profits, but Americans and small businesses that use 
the internet to do their jobs, communicate with each other, and 
participate in civic life will be left defenseless.
  Don't be fooled by the army of lobbyists marching the Halls of 
Congress on behalf of the big internet service providers. They say that 
we don't need these rules because the internet service providers will 
self-regulate. Blocking, throttling, paid prioritization--these harms 
are alarmist and hypothetical, they say. Well, that simply is not the 
case. These practices are very real, and in a world without net 
neutrality, they may become the new normal. But don't just take my word 
for it. Let's look at the facts.

[[Page S2690]]

  In 2007, an Associated Press investigation found that Comcast was 
blocking or severely slowing down BitTorrent, a website that allowed 
consumers to share video, music, and video game files. From 2007 to 
2009, AT&T forced Apple to block Skype and other competing services 
from using AT&T's wireless network to encourage users to purchase more 
voice minutes. In 2011, Verizon blocked Google Wallet to protect a 
competing service it had a financial stake in developing and promoting.
  There is no shortage of evidence that we need clear and enforceable 
rules of the road so that these discriminatory practices do not become 
commonplace schemes that consumers and small businesses must suffer 
through without any options for recourse.
  This isn't the first time Congress has had to step in to protect the 
integrity of the marketplace. In the 1800s, we didn't have the 
information superhighway. We had railroads. American farmers used 
trains to deliver their products to consumers, and powerful railroad 
trusts started charging certain farmers higher rates to move their 
goods. Congress stepped in and passed the Sherman Antitrust Act to put 
a stop to this price discrimination.
  Today, we have left the steam engine era, and we have moved into the 
search engine era. Internet service providers are the 21st century 
trusts controlling the channels of commerce. And in 2018, many American 
job creators aren't moving alfalfa seeds; they are moving kernels of 
ideas for the next big app, the next new startup.
  Net neutrality is about continuing the American tradition of 
promoting competition and providing the level economic playing field we 
need to continue to prosper in this rapidly changing global economy. 
But net neutrality isn't just an economic issue; it is also central to 
the health of our democracy.
  Over the past several months and years, Americans all over the 
country from all walks of life have mobilized and marched, fighting for 
progress and change--Black Lives Matter, the Women's March, the ``me 
too.'' movement, high school students demanding gun control, teachers 
calling for fair pay. Today citizens of all walks of life are carrying 
the torch of American activism, and they are doing it online.
  In 2018, this is how the American people are organizing. This is how 
the American people are doing the indispensable work of an active 
citizenry. This is how the American people are speaking truth to power.
  Asking individuals to pay extra to speak out for what they believe 
in, allowing companies to stifle or even block access to certain 
ideas--that isn't who we are as a country. It isn't consistent with the 
values of nondiscrimination. Net neutrality is the free speech issue of 
our time, and the well-being of our precious democracy depends on the 
public having equal, unfettered access to the internet.
  Today, the U.S. Senate will show its true colors. It will either heed 
the calls of thousands of small businesses that have written in support 
of this Congressional Review Act resolution and the millions of 
Americans who have sent letters, posted tweets, and made calls 
defending net neutrality or the Senate will give another present to the 
rich and the powerful.
  The Senate will either follow the example of Governors, State 
legislators, and attorneys general all over the country who are 
fighting to save the internet as we know it or it will let President 
Trump, once again, break his campaign promise of putting average 
Americans ahead of swampy special interests. It will either stand up 
for the principles that have allowed the U.S. internet economy to 
become the envy of the world or it will make another unforced error 
that threatens our long-term competitiveness.
  I urge my colleagues to make the decision our constituents--with one 
voice--overwhelmingly are asking us to make. I urge my colleagues to 
vote yes on this Congressional Review Act resolution to restore net 
neutrality, to restore the principle of nondiscrimination, to restore 
the protections for small startups, for individuals in our country so 
that they cannot be discriminated against online.
  This is net neutrality day here on the floor of the U.S. Senate. 
Today is the day of reckoning, when the Trump Federal Communications 
Commission is going to have their act judged by the U.S. Senate. My 
hope is that before the end of this day, the Senate will vote to 
overturn the Trump FCC and restore net neutrality, restore the 
principle of nondiscrimination, restore the principle of equality, 
restore the principle that small software and internet startups are 
given the same protections that the biggest companies in our country 
are provided.
  Today is the day. Net neutrality is the vote that will determine 
whether we are going to give those protections to every American.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tillis). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The Democratic Leader is recognized.


                          National Police Week

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, this week is National Police Week. It is 
a time to honor the brave men and women who put their lives on the line 
every day to keep our streets safe.
  Every morning, police officers all across the country wake up, put on 
their uniform praying for the kind of day the rest of us typically 
enjoy: a routine one. Praise God, most days that is the case, but 
sometimes our police officers are asked to put their own lives at risk 
in defense of others. Back in my hometown, New York, we are protected 
by the finest law enforcement organization in the world--the NYPD. Just 
2 weeks ago, two rookie New York police officers, Flavio Chauca and 
Jason Truglio, rushed into a burning apartment building and up nine 
flights of smoke-filled stairs to pull several people to safety. It was 
an extraordinary act of heroism--and just another day in the line of 
duty for the over 35,000 men and women of the New York Police 
Department.
  All of us in Congress are indebted to the U.S. Capitol Police who 
spend long hours protecting us every day. We saw their bravery in 
action last year when a gunman attacked a congressional baseball 
practice. If it weren't for the grit and valor of Officers David Bailey 
and Crystal Griner, things would have gotten much worse.
  We should all take a moment to thank the hard-working law enforcement 
officers at the FBI. Over the last year, our Nation's top law 
enforcement officers have been unfairly maligned by this President. It 
is unheard of, particularly on the Republican side, to be so anti-law 
enforcement, and it maligns the brave men and women who work under them 
too. Our FBI agents are patriots, just like the men and women out on 
the beat.
  So, today, I salute the men and women in blue, particularly my 
friends at the NYPD and our fine Capitol Police, as we commemorate the 
lives of their colleagues lost in the line of duty.


                              North Korea

  Mr. President, last night, we received reports that Kim Jong Un is 
threatening to pull out of a planned meeting with President Trump as a 
result of the routine and scheduled joint military exercise by American 
and South Korean forces.
  After weeks of halting progress, it is a reminder that the North 
Korean regime has not suddenly moderated. Remember, all that has 
happened so far is, North Korea has announced it is closing a nuclear 
test site that was defunct anyway and returned American citizens they 
never should have detained. We are all thankful those three Americans 
have returned home, but it was not some major give by Kim Jong Un. 
Americans should never be imprisoned unlawfully by a foreign power and 
treated as diplomatic bargaining chips, and we, as a country, should 
not be giving huge kudos to a leader who does just that.
  President Trump, on the other hand, made a significant concession 
when he agreed to meet with Kim Jong Un. We are rooting for the 
President's gamble, with this mischievous and dangerous regime, to 
work. Now that push is coming to shove, Kim Jong Un is baiting the 
President into making more concessions to ensure a meeting that was a 
concession to them in the first place.

[[Page S2691]]

  I strongly urge President Trump: Mr. President, don't give Kim Jong 
Un anything for free. North Korea is threatening to cancel the summit 
over our joint military exercises with the South. That would be a 
mistake. It would be a mistake for the President to cancel this 
exercise, to begin making further concessions before Kim has dismantled 
a single nuclear weapon or agreed to a single inspector. If we show 
weakness--if the minute Kim Jong Un threatens, we go along, he will 
continue to take advantage of us. We must show strength and fortitude. 
By continuing these military exercises, we will do just that. I urge 
the President to not even blink an eye but say we are going forward 
with these exercises. We have seen North Korea play these games before. 
When North Korea wants or needs something, exercises are a problem. 
When they don't need something, the exercises are not a problem. Kim is 
clearly testing the United States and President Trump, trying to see if 
there is any weakness or desperation or division on our side. We must 
be strong. We must be resolute. This exercise should move forward.

  The best way to head into these negotiations with the North is to 
make clear that we will not be bullied and to show strength. We have to 
be willing to walk away from an insufficiently robust deal, and making 
concessions before we even sit down at the table would send the 
opposite signal. To achieve an enforceable, verifiable, and enduring 
agreement to denuclearize the North Korean Peninsula, the United States 
cannot give away leverage before even getting in the room.


                          Russia Investigation

  Mr. President, on another matter, the Judiciary Committee report, 
this morning Republicans on the Judiciary Committee released the 
transcripts of interviews conducted as part of its investigation into 
Russian meddling. It was a perfunctory move, apparently intended to 
signal the end of the Judiciary Committee's on-again, off-again, 
halting investigation.
  Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans are rushing to declare their 
investigation complete when they have barely scratched the surface. 
After more than a year of intermittent effort, Senate Republicans have 
interviewed only 12 witnesses in total. Today they are releasing the 
transcripts of the testimony of just five witnesses who were 
interviewed about the notorious June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. One of 
the witnesses, an infamous, Kremlin-connected lawyer, was allowed to 
provide only written answers--no followup questions, no probing. 
Astoundingly, our Republican friends decided not to even interview two 
of the other key participants in that meeting--Jared Kushner and Paul 
Manafort.
  To call the Senate Judiciary Committee's Trump-Russia investigation 
halfhearted is too generous. It has been no different from the effort 
taken by Representative Nunes. It is designed to let the President and 
his lawyers interfere with the Mueller probe and to get a peek at any 
potential evidence.
  That is why the Democrats on the committee, led by Senator Feinstein, 
have today released a document detailing the open threats of the 
committee's investigation--the interviews not conducted, the leads not 
followed. The information Judiciary Committee Democrats provided today 
shows one thing: Committee Democrats have made crystal clear that 
committee Republicans are prematurely saying ``pencils down.'' There is 
much left to investigate, many witnesses still to be heard, and many 
facts left to follow.
  The message of Senate Republicans on this investigation is ``Pay no 
attention to the man behind the curtain.'' The American people will not 
be fooled. They know the difference between a genuine search for truth 
and a whitewash.
  I remain hopeful that Senators Burr and Warner are running down every 
lead and every thread, but there is no doubt that the Senate 
Intelligence Committee's investigation will be the next target of the 
President's talking heads on FOX News.


                           Prescription Drugs

  Mr. President, finally, on prescription drugs, I read a headline in 
this morning's Washington Post: ``Trump's drug price retreat adds to 
list of abandoned populist promises.'' That headline is spot-on. The 
President has repeatedly talked like a populist but governed like a 
plutocrat.
  On taxes, the President said that his bill would be for the middle 
class. It turned out to be a trillion-dollar boondoggle for the rich 
and powerful.
  On prescription drugs, it is no different. After saying that 
pharmaceutical companies were getting away with murder and that he 
would bring down prices, President Trump proposed only the policies 
most palatable to the drug industry.
  Just today, I read about a company that proposed tripling the price 
of a widely used cancer drug. They ultimately backed down after a 
public outcry, but it shows that this problem isn't going away anytime 
soon.
  We Democrats have proposed an independent group to go after egregious 
increases in drug prices, such as the one mentioned about cancer drugs 
today. Where is the President on this issue? He has to walk the walk, 
not just talk the talk.
  As President Trump was giving his speech last Friday outlining his 
plan on prescription drugs, guess what the reaction was. The stocks of 
major pharmaceutical companies shot upward. That says all you need to 
know about how tough President Trump's plan on prescription drugs 
really is. Just like the issues of taxes, healthcare, infrastructure, 
and draining the swamp, on the issue of prescription drugs, President 
Trump continues to fail to deliver for the middle class.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, today the Senate is finally voting to 
confirm a well-qualified nominee, BG Mitchell Zais, to serve as Deputy 
Secretary at the Department of Education. I worked to get a time 
agreement for this vote because General Zais did not deserve to be 
subject to the Democrats' unreasonable and unnecessary obstructions and 
delays. For example, General Zais was nominated on October 5, 2017, 223 
days ago, and the HELP Committee approved his nomination for the first 
time on December 13, 2017, 154 days ago. Because the Democrats forced 
his nomination to be returned to the President at the end of the 
session in December, the HELP Committee had to approve his nomination 
again on January 18, 2018, after he was renominated.
  It is time to confirm General Zais and give Secretary DeVos a Deputy 
Secretary. He has extensive experience working in education and in 
government. From January 2011 to January 2015, General Zais served as 
South Carolina's elected State Superintendent of Education. Before 
that, he was president of Newberry College in South Carolina for 10 
years. He also served as a commissioner on South Carolina's Commission 
on Higher Education for 6 years. Further, after 31 years in the U.S. 
Army, he retired as a brigadier general. He graduated from West Point, 
has a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, as well as an honorary 
doctorate of education from the Citadel.
  As Deputy Secretary, his job will be to help the Secretary manage the 
Department of Education, which includes implementation of the Every 
Student Succeeds Act. I am glad we are having this vote today. I 
support his nomination, and I urge my colleagues to support him as 
well.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.


                          National Police Week

  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, this is National Police Week, and I join 
my colleagues in saluting all of our law enforcement personnel and our 
brave men and women who have put their lives on the line every single 
day to keep our communities safe.


                             Net Neutrality

  Mr. President, turning to another subject, net neutrality, protecting 
a free and open internet is something every American should care about. 
Restoring net neutrality protections is about more than just what shows 
we can watch on Netflix and Hulu. We depend on the internet for nearly 
everything in our lives--from staying in touch with loved ones on 
social media to communicating with doctors and paying our bills. It is 
also about preserving access to information in times of need.
  Over the past month, Hawaii residents have depended on the internet 
to access lifesaving information and to communicate with their friends 
and family during a series of devastating

[[Page S2692]]

natural disasters. On April 15 and 16, nearly 50 inches of rain fell on 
Hanalei on the North Shore of Kauai, setting the record for the largest 
rainfall in a 24-hour period in American history. This storm destroyed 
many homes, triggered mudslides that closed Kuhio Highway, and damaged 
local businesses. That same storm also caused widespread flooding and 
damage on another island in East Oahu.
  In an event that has drawn international attention, volcanic activity 
on Hawaii Island--including fissures, along the Kilauea east rift zone, 
around 100 earthquakes per day, lava eruptions, and significant ash 
fall events--has already destroyed 40 structures in the Puna community. 
More than 2,000 residents have been evacuated as the lava continues to 
flow and toxic sulfur dioxide pollutes the air.
  Residents on Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island have depended on a free 
and open internet to receive up-to-the-minute, lifesaving information 
from local media, as well as from Federal, State, and local 
governments.
  Rules on net neutrality established by the Obama administration 
prevented internet service providers--ISPs--from discriminating against 
and blocking content. These essential protections help to ensure a 
level playing field for all content providers and consumers, but under 
the leadership of Donald Trump's handpicked Chairman, the Federal 
Communications Commission issued an order late last year that would 
completely eviscerate net neutrality protections.
  Internet service providers looking to maximize profits should not be 
able to restrict access to information or slow speed for providers 
unable to pay more, particularly during a natural disaster or other 
emergency.
  During the flooding on Kauai and Oahu and the ongoing volcanic 
activity on Hawaii Island, local news providers have been a critical 
lifeline for local residents in search of timely, accurate, and 
understandable information. Traditional newspapers like the Honolulu 
Star-Advertiser, the Garden Island, and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, as 
well as online news sources like Honolulu Civil Beat, Big Island Now, 
and Big Island Video News have provided an essential service to the 
public. Through their websites and social media channels, these news 
sources have provided detailed reporting about the precise location of 
hazardous locations, where evacuees can find shelter and essential 
services, and where the public can make donations of clothing and 
nonperishable food. Television stations like Hawaii News Now, KITV, and 
KHON have also used their websites and social media platforms to 
livestream news reports that have been a critical lifeline for local 
residents and for their families and friends.
  National and international journalists have also drawn on the work of 
local Hawaii journalists to report their stories to a national and 
international audience. The good work of journalists at Hawaii News 
Now, KITV, and Anthony Quintano at Civil Beat, for example, is being 
seen by people across the country and around the world on CNN and NBC 
News, among others. The response of these local news outlets to natural 
disasters in Hawaii demonstrates why they are so important to the 
communities they serve. These news outlets depend--depend--on a free 
and open internet to deliver their content to consumers where and when 
they need it.
  For an industry already facing a funding crisis driven by declining 
advertising revenue, the rollback of net neutrality would have a 
devastating impact on local news. A 2017 report by Adam Hersh at the 
Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University cogently 
summarizes what is at stake. According to his report, local news 
sources would be particularly hard hit if ISPs could charge access 
fees, block traffic from certain providers, throttle speeds, and charge 
fast-lane fees in exchange for preferential treatment. Huge media 
conglomerates would have little trouble paying for access, but local 
papers like the Star-Advertiser and nonprofit news sources like Civil 
Beat could be hard hit or even driven out of business.
  In addition to the impact on local news providers, repealing net 
neutrality could make it more difficult and expensive for relief 
organizations to collect donations for people affected by natural 
disasters. The Pu'uhonua o Puna community center, for example, is using 
social media to organize a community and statewide relief response to 
help families affected by volcanic activity. Using their online 
platform, the center is coordinating donations, identifying families 
requiring special assistance, and connecting evacuated residents with 
people who can help.
  Eliminating net neutrality would also have a negative impact on small 
businesses in Hawaii, including those hard hit by recent disasters and 
those affected by decreased visitor access. Small businesses depend on 
high-speed and high-quality internet to reach their customers and grow 
their businesses. We all know this.
  We had a Small Business Committee meeting hearing yesterday, where it 
was acknowledged that small businesses depend very much on the internet 
and free and open access. These businesses don't have the resources to 
compete in a pay-to-play system on the internet.
  It is because of stories like these that a bipartisan group of 
Senators is forcing a vote to save net neutrality. An internet service 
provider should not be able to restrict access, especially--
especially--during a major disaster, such as those being experienced in 
Hawaii, just so they can make more money.
  I encourage all of my colleagues to join this effort and pass this 
resolution to prevent the elimination of net neutrality today.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Hawaii, and 
our sympathy is with the State of Hawaii as they respond to this 
volcanic eruption. I noticed on the news this morning that they were 
referencing it could be as bad as Mount St. Helens. Trust me, that had 
a devastating impact on our State. I hope that all Federal agencies are 
helping in whatever ways they can with Hawaii's natural disaster.
  I also thank her for talking about the importance of net neutrality. 
I, too, have come to the floor to defend the open internet. It is a 
pro-consumer, pro-innovation rule that we have to build on because it 
is worth 7 percent of our GDP and 6.9 million jobs. That is what the 
internet economy is.

  The net neutrality rules that we are fighting for today have four 
bright-line rules that help businesses, help consumers, and help our 
internet economy to grow. They are these: No. 1, don't block content; 
No. 2, don't throttle content--that is, don't slow it down--and No. 3, 
don't create paid prioritization, which is like in the Burger King ad 
saying: If you want the next Whopper available, pay $15. I think they 
did a pretty good job of showing what would happen if you had every 
business operating that way. No. 4 is transparency, to make sure that 
you know exactly what you are getting charged for.
  The Obama-era Federal Communications Commission adopted rules that 
basically protected consumers and businesses on those four things. Why 
did they do that? Because there were some who were trying to eke their 
way into making more money off of consumers and businesses on what is 
basic service.
  Title II was the regulatory framework that the Obama-era FCC used to 
make sure that consumers were protected. They were the strongest tools 
available, and they helped to make sure that there was not monopolistic 
behavior that would harm businesses.
  The rule that was established by the then-Federal Communications 
Commission was an open internet with the FCC being the cop on the beat. 
That is to say, if you have these rules, you also have to have someone 
who is going to enforce them, someone who is going to look at the 
monopolistic behaviors of cable companies or providers and say: That is 
unfair to consumers and businesses.
  But under the Trump-era FCC, all of those rules were thrown out. That 
is why we are here today. I and my colleagues are saying that we want 
to go back to the protections of the internet that are called ``net 
neutrality'' to make sure that the FCC--instead of a passive entity 
that just OKs every charge that cable companies want to do--says: These 
are rules about not slowing down content, not engaging in

[[Page S2693]]

monopolistic behavior. These things are wrong, and we are going to be 
the policeman on the beat.
  The FCC can protect consumers and innovators, and they can make sure 
that internet traffic does not violate an open internet. But, as I 
said, the Trump-era FCC is trying to throw out these strong rules, and 
cable companies are already--already--starting to raise prices for 
higher speed.
  In Vancouver, WA, Comcast recently announced that higher speed tiers 
would be available but only to consumers who purchase expensive paid 
TV-internet bundles. That is why we are here. Because while it sounds 
like: Why do we want to give cable companies the opportunity to 
throttle, block, or create paid prioritization, we also have to realize 
that today the internet economy is so much bigger than it has ever 
been; that it is a job creator and an innovator. In my State, it is 13 
percent of our economy, and thousands of jobs that continue to grow 
every day as new applications for the internet are created.
  It is so important that businesses, which are even using these apps 
to help run their businesses more efficiently, continue to get access 
to those tools. But what about an internet in which a cable provider 
decided to artificially slow down that website and thereby create a 
disincentive for the very things that are helping to make our 
businesses more efficient?
  So we want to make sure that the FCC does its original job. What is 
that? Well, they are there to promote development and adaptation of 
communication networks in the public interest. They are serving 
consumers, and that is the center of their mission.
  The center of their mission should not be serving cable companies. 
That is why courts have said to the FCC: If you want to have the 
authority to protect an open internet, you have to do that under title 
II. Basically, the court explained that if enforcing open internet 
principles and being a watchdog against abuses is important to the 
FCC's mission of promoting the deployment and adoption of 
communications in the public interest, then, those powers have to flow 
from title II of the Communications Act. So that is why the Obama-era 
FCC adopted those rules.
  Today we know that the internet is a basic necessity. It provides 
access that helps our healthcare delivery system work, our education 
system work, our banking system work, shopping, and all sorts of things 
that make it a necessary tool in life today.
  When a service is that essential and critical to individuals and 
communities and their economic success, we need to make sure that 
consumers have protections and to make sure that it is not abused.
  In the United States, just three providers of internet access have 
about 70 percent of consumers. In any market with only a few players, 
it is essential that we protect businesses and consumers, and that is 
exactly what title II does. It helps to protect us from a cable company 
gouging and its close cousin--paid prioritization.
  Title II makes sure that the barriers to entry are not erected so 
that entrepreneurs or startups that want to bring new products to 
market aren't artificially slowed down and a larger competitor that can 
pay more for it can continue the access.
  Just recently, we had an event with Redfin, a company that is 
changing the real estate market in the Pacific Northwest by helping to 
drive down the cost to consumers for real estate purchases. They made 
it very clear that Redfin was able to develop today because it had an 
open internet and its consumers and business partners could connect to 
it. But in a world where they were just starting out new and they had 
to pay for prioritization to get good broadband service, they may not 
have been as successful.
  These rules--title II--give expert agencies the tools to look behind 
the curtain and make sure that cable companies are providing the 
services that do not violate an open internet.
  There is a reason that cable companies don't want to follow these 
rules. It is because they want to make more money. I get it. They want 
to make more money. But I would say that with 40 percent of Americans 
having no choice in whom they buy internet services from, we have to be 
much more vigilant. These companies have several vertically integrated 
companies at the top, and they are seeking to amass more and more 
content. That could give them the tools, again, to block content, to 
slow it down, or to x out a competitor if they so choose. I do not want 
to see the FCC sitting on the sidelines and not policing this kind of 
environment.
  I know that AT&T is now trying to merge with Time Warner. These large 
companies want to continue to amass content and to drive the 
marketplace. The American Consumer Satisfaction Index tracks consumer 
satisfaction, and these big companies are at an all-time low. Do 
consumers think they are going to do the right thing on their own? Do 
they think cable companies will do that?
  The cable industry ranks at the very bottom of 43 industries in 
consumer satisfaction. In fact, it has been in the dead-last position 
for 5 years. So does the public think they are doing the right things 
when it comes to them or their businesses? I think that survey says it 
all. They have great concern.
  One of the reasons cable companies give for why they don't want to 
follow net neutrality rules is because they say it will hurt their 
investment in networks. Well, I guess I would ask the question: Did the 
Obama-era FCC rules slow down investment? No, they didn't. The big 
cable companies continued to make investments in their networks.
  In the year immediately following the FCC rule that went into place, 
the entire industry showed that the total capital expenditures 
increased by more than $550 million above the previous year's 
investment. For example, in a 2017 earnings report, Comcast, the 
Nation's largest broadband provider, noted that its capital 
expenditures increased 7.5 percent to $9 billion and that it continued 
to make deployment in platforms like X1 and wireless gateways.
  Likewise, AT&T spent $22 billion on capital investments, up $20 
billion from the previous year.
  In fact, 2016 represents the industry's highest single-year jump in 
broadband network investment since 1999.
  So the notion that they are somehow going to slow down on investment 
is just not true. The historic growth came after companies had a full 
year to digest the impacts of title II and net neutrality rules being 
put in place by the Obama-era FCC.
  So where are we today? Well, these companies continue to make money, 
and they want a free pass on continuing to make more. That is why our 
goal is not the profits of big cable companies. Our goal is to make 
sure that the internet economy continues to grow and the juggernaut of 
job creation and innovation continues to expand.
  We want the internet ecosystem that has doubled as a percentage of 
GDP from 2007 to 2017 to continue to grow. As I said, in my State it is 
about 13 percent of our State's economy, and I spend practically every 
day in the Senate hearing about another innovation from someone in my 
State. It might be the farm economy and more efficient ways to produce 
products or get products to market or manage their livestock. It might 
be in telemedicine and helping someone from one side of the State to 
the other to get access to care. It might be as basic as connecting 
people to their families and loved ones, but it is the internet that we 
know today that is so integral to our lives.
  I hope the commonsense legislation in front of us--the CRA--which 
would restore those Obama-era FCC net neutrality rules, passes. I hope 
our colleagues will understand that getting exorbitant internet fees 
from cable providers is not the direction the American people want to 
go. American entrepreneurs, innovators, and consumers cannot afford to 
take that hit. What they want to see is an open internet--one that 
continues to allow so much more of the internet economy to flourish.
  Let's make sure that we say to the FCC: We don't want you folding or 
sitting on your hands. We want you to police the internet, and we want 
you to have the rules to do it.
  That is why we must pass the CRA today. I hope our colleagues on the 
other side of the aisle will join us, because there is just too much at 
stake in our innovation economy.
  I thank the Chair.
  I yield the floor.

[[Page S2694]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Ms. HASSAN. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Washington for 
her leadership and her articulation of a big issue before us. I too 
rise today ahead of a vote that is of vital importance to protecting a 
free and open internet.
  Last week FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that June 11 would be the 
date when key net neutrality protections will officially end. This 
backward, misguided decision from the FCC threatens the consumer 
friendly internet that Americans know today--an internet that ensures 
equal access to content, regardless of which internet service provider 
you use.
  Ending net neutrality could impact all of our people. In New 
Hampshire, our citizens are rightly concerned, with thousands of 
Granite Staters contacting my office to urge Congress to save these key 
protections.
  I am pleased to join my colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, to 
force a vote to do just that.
  Reinstating net neutrality is critical to promoting innovation, 
supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses across New Hampshire, and 
encouraging economic growth. By ensuring that our businesses can 
compete on the internet on an equal footing, we provide more 
opportunity for a wide range of businesses, from high-tech companies 
and startups to farming and agriculture.
  On Monday, I visited Stoneyfield Farm in Londonderry, NH, to discuss 
the negative impact that repealing net neutrality will have on their 
business and countless other businesses across our State. Stoneyfield 
is a New Hampshire business that sells organic dairy products all over 
our country and relies on the internet to reach their customers. They 
also rely on the internet to connect with small businesses and dairy 
farmers that help source their products.
  When I met with representatives from Stoneyfield and farmers from 
around New England on Monday, they made clear that they are worried 
about what could happen if smaller farms are charged more for access to 
websites and services--a potential effect of repealing net neutrality.
  Farmers are already operating on pretty small margins, and they could 
be hurt by having to pay even more to get the kind of speed on the 
internet they need in order to be competitive. This is particularly 
troubling in rural areas, where many communities still face challenges 
with access to broadband.
  It is not just rural communities and farmers. This decision would 
hurt small businesses in any number of industries across New Hampshire, 
all to give big internet service providers another opportunity to raise 
their profits.
  It would be unfair to all consumers to give internet service 
providers the power to discriminate against certain web pages, apps, 
and streaming and video services by slowing them down, blocking them, 
or favoring certain services while charging more for others.
  Protecting a free and open internet means we are protecting the 
farmers who need the internet to sell their products. It means we are 
protecting the next great startup which needs a level playing field to 
compete against larger, more established companies. It means we are 
protecting the countless Americans who have used the internet as a 
mechanism to organize and civically engage online.
  There has been so much energy from Granite Staters and Americans who 
are in favor of reinstating net neutrality because they know how much 
is at stake. I am grateful for their efforts to speak out because they 
have helped us get to this point today. I am hopeful more of my 
Republican colleagues will join us today to put consumers and small 
businesses first and to show that the U.S. Senate is in favor of a free 
and open internet.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CARDIN. 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. CARDIN. Mr. President, I take this time to urge my colleagues to 
support S.J. Res. 52, which would reinstate the free and open internet. 
I thank my colleagues, Senator Markey and others, for bringing this to 
our attention. It deals with the Congressional Review Act to block 
regulation which had been suggested that would repeal the protections 
we have on the free internet. Let me just give a little bit of 
background so we can put this in context.
  Internet service providers--known as ISPs--are basically utility 
companies that provide internet service to our constituents, to our 
businesses, and to America. Without the protection for net neutrality, 
these utilities have the ability to block or throttle content on the 
internet or charging what is known as being in the fast lane, charging 
more. So this is a debate between whether we are on the side of the big 
utility companies that provide internet service and their special 
interests or the individuals and small businesses of America to 
guarantee them equal access to this critical service. Let me give one 
example, and there are many that can be given.
  I am sure, in every one of our communities, we have a lot of small 
businesses. They recognize that they can now do business on the 
internet, and they have an opportunity to compete with the large 
companies that do most of their business through the internet.
  In Baltimore, in Maryland, I have small shop owners. One I am 
particularly familiar with sells bikes. This shop owner now is using 
the internet in order to get to customers so he can show his wares on 
the internet and be able to compete against one of the large, giant 
retailers that does a lot of business on the internet.
  If a consumer in Baltimore goes onto that bike shop's website, and if 
the product that consumer is interested in will not pop up within a 
couple seconds, the consumer is gone. There has been study after study 
that shows that about 3 seconds is the maximum attention span of a 
consumer shopping on the internet.
  The large store that has access to the fast-service broadband will 
have an incredible advantage over our small businesses if we allow the 
utility that provides the internet service to discriminate against the 
smaller users. That is what this debate is about. It is about 
protecting individual consumers, and it is about protecting small 
businesses.
  There is a reason why, in 2015, the open internet order was passed to 
protect utilities that provide internet service from blocking or 
slowing down internet service.
  Broadband internet service is a public utility. It is interesting 
that almost half of the consumers have no choice in whom they have to 
provide their internet service. They have basically one internet 
provider to choose from. Competition does not exist. So this is not a 
matter of competition; this is a matter of preventing discrimination.
  I have had the honor of being the ranking member of the Small 
Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and I can tell you, on behalf 
of the small businesses of Maryland and around the Nation, on behalf of 
farm owners around the Nation, they need to have access to the 
internet, and they depend upon net neutrality. Fifty-six percent of the 
small business owners oppose the FCC's repeal of net neutrality; 70 
percent of small business owners feel they are at a disadvantage 
compared to a large corporation due to their size and market power. The 
internet gives them that capacity to try to equalize that disadvantage.
  John Duda is co-owner of Red Emma's, a cooperative bookstore and 
restaurant in my hometown in Baltimore. He summed it up best by saying:

       I don't have the money to pay an internet service provider 
     to guarantee my website will load quickly for all users, so 
     I'm concerned the end of net neutrality means customers will 
     buy from retailers that have the resources to pay for faster 
     service. Additionally, if my internet service provider slows 
     load times for--or blocks access to--my web content, we'll be 
     up against more than just larger book sellers or 
     restaurants--we're suddenly competing against any website 
     that loads quickly because those are the ones that will draw 
     people's attention.

  This is a matter of economic survival for small businesses. Everybody 
wants to make sure they have access and that we have superhighways for 
broadband. We have that in Maryland, and we need the last mile to make 
sure you can get connected. Absolutely, we have to do

[[Page S2695]]

more to make sure all communities have access to internet service, but, 
like healthcare, if you don't have quality care, access is not going to 
help you. You need to be able to have reliable broadband service.
  Net neutrality has lowered the barriers to starting and growing a 
small business, and that is undeniably good for our economy. We all 
brag about the fact that small businesses are the growth engine of 
America and more jobs are created by small business, innovation, et 
cetera. Let's make sure we give small business what they need. Let's 
preserve net neutrality.
  As FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel put it, ``For the first time, 
small business could think big and consumers could shop small, from 
anywhere in the world.'' Think about that for a moment: Small 
businesses can think big because they have access to the internet, and 
consumers can shop anywhere in the world and shop in small companies 
anywhere in the world. The loss of net neutrality jeopardizes that 
progress.

  In every State, community, and home across our Nation, Americans 
expect the water coming out of their tap to flow on demand and be safe 
to drink. They expect the lights in their homes to go on thanks to the 
utility company that provides the electricity. And, yes, they not only 
want but need to have access to broadband internet in the very same 
way. This is a utility, and it needs to be regulated as such.
  These providers should not have the last word in what any American 
can see on the internet. Access to the information vital for our 
democracy and our economy to function must be preserved.
  Congress has a chance to put consumers and small businesses first and 
prevent the FCC from bowing to corporate interests instead of serving 
the public interest. I urge my colleagues to vote for S.J. Res. 52.
  Mr. President, 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. WYDEN. 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. WYDEN. Mr. President, it is important for everybody to understand 
how things work today and what net neutrality is all about. What net 
neutrality is fundamentally about is that everybody gets a fair shake 
with respect to using the internet. After you pay your internet access 
fee, you get to go where you want, when you want, and how you want. 
There are no special deals. There are no priority lanes for those with 
deep pockets to get more content and get it faster than everybody else. 
That is not the way it works today. Everybody gets a fair shake on an 
open and free internet because of net neutrality.
  What Mr. Pai, the head of the Federal Communications Commission, and 
his allies want is something very different. Under their vision of how 
things would work online, there would be toll booths all over the 
internet, and those higher costs would, one way or another, come out of 
your pocket. That would work a hardship on millions of Americans, on 
millions literally but especially on small businesses, seniors, and 
students. Everybody would be affected by a new approach that would 
establish toll booths all over the internet.
  My view is that there is no vote this body is going to take in 2018 
that will have a more direct impact on the wallets of Americans than 
the one that is going to happen in a few hours. This is the last chance 
to protect the free and open internet that comes about with real net 
neutrality. The fact is, if we don't do it, the Trump Federal 
Communications Commission and Chairman Pai want to turn the lights out 
on the system I described today where, after you pay for your internet 
access, you go where you want, when you want, how you want. That is 
what we have today. Without what we are doing here, Chairman Pai at the 
Federal Communications Commission can change that and take money away 
from typical Americans to line the pockets of their friends at the big 
communications monopolies, Big Cable.
  If Republicans in Congress allow this administration to get away with 
repealing net neutrality, Americans can certainly expect to be charged 
more for Netflix, for music services on Spotify, and for video game 
downloads--for example, on PlayStation.
  This isn't some academic policy question that is going to show up 
years from now. Certainly, there are matters we talk about where that 
could be the case. This is where the Trump Federal Communications 
Commission could hand big cable companies more power and take more 
money out of the pockets of the American people next month.
  I am very appreciative of my colleague Ed Markey for the 
extraordinary leadership role he has taken. He and I have enjoyed 
teaming up since the days when we began in public service. Senator 
Markey was then Congressman Markey, and he introduced the first net 
neutrality bill in the House. I had the honor of partnering with him 
when I introduced the first net neutrality bill in the Senate. Both of 
us said, literally, more than a decade ago, that we needed 
communications policies that were rooted in the principle of 
nondiscrimination--transparency, openness, and freedom for all online. 
Here we are, back in this fight once again, to pass the Markey 
resolution, which, in effect, will ensure that what my colleague has 
sponsored today and sought to do a decade ago, on which I partnered 
with him, will actually get done.
  Everybody understands that you have to pay a fee to get access to the 
net. The question at the heart of this debate that you have to keep 
coming back to is this: Once you pay that fee, shouldn't everybody get 
a fair shake? Shouldn't we be able to say in America that once you pay 
that fee, you ought to be able to go where you want, when you want, and 
how you want? As the Trump FCC wants to do, should you be able to say 
that the big cable companies should be able to hot-wire the system--to 
rig the internet--for the benefit of those who can afford to pay more?
  I would say, because I have been listening to my friend talk about 
this, that their vision is, really, something along the lines of an 
information aristocracy, whereby, if you have deep pockets, you are 
going to have access to a technology treasure trove, but the typical 
American, with his vision, is kind of on his way to digital serfdom. 
That is why it is so important to understand what Chairman Pai and the 
FCC are up to, which is special deals for special interests and more 
power--significantly more power--for those with deep pockets.
  What the people who are opposed to real net neutrality have cooked up 
is a scheme called paid prioritization. I say to Senator Markey that I 
have called this effort that of erecting tollbooths online. What it 
means is that if you are among the fortunate few, you get faster 
download speeds and more content. If you are a big, established 
company, guess what. You can stifle the competition. You can squash the 
competition. Those opportunities aren't going to be available to an 
entrepreneur who is just starting out in his garage somewhere. For a 
family that is barely staying afloat, what it sounds like they are 
interested in is giving them second-rate internet service. I think 
Senator Markey and I remember that it was not that long ago when big 
chunks of America had dial-up, and people seemed to wait forever to get 
online.
  Mr. Pai is going to tell you with a straight face that these big 
cable companies have the best of intentions and that they are sort of 
going to go along with all of this voluntarily because it is just the 
right thing to do. Yet my question is this: If the cable companies are 
just going to go along with net neutrality, why is Mr. Pai working so 
hard to get rid of it? It doesn't really stand up. I always say at 
home, because people ask what it means for us--and they have gotten to 
meet the charming William Peter Wyden, aged 10--that there is about as 
much chance that the cable companies will voluntarily go along with net 
neutrality as the likelihood that William Peter Wyden and his sister 
will voluntarily limit the number of their desserts. It is just not 
going to happen. In particular, if Mr. Pai says he believes in real net 
neutrality, the Markey resolution will give him a chance to actually 
show that. But we all know that he doesn't see it that way.

[[Page S2696]]

  I just opened all townhall meetings in Oregon, most of them in rural 
communities, and I know the distinguished Presiding Officer of the 
Senate represents a lot of rural terrain. I am telling you that people 
in those rural areas understand what is at stake for rural America 
here. For rural America, without the Markey resolution, it will mean 
the net will move along at snail's pace. It will mean that rural 
businesses could have a harder time in getting off the ground and 
reaching customers. I talked to ranchers, for example, about just this 
issue. It will mean rural healthcare could miss out on technological 
marvels that could have the potential to save lives.
  This is particularly important because Senator Markey and I have 
teamed up on a lot of the efforts to improve American healthcare. We 
have led the fight to show that we are updating the Medicare guarantee 
so that it will not be just an acute care program but will focus on 
chronic illnesses. Senator Markey and I have led the effort for more 
care at home and for greater access to telemedicine. All of those 
technological marvels really depend on rapid access to the net. If you 
are in rural America and you have had a stroke, rapid access to the net 
may be something that will saves lives and that will ensure those rural 
providers will be able to get connections to parts of the country that 
will have, for example, a neurologist available who will be able to 
help.
  The Markey resolution and its passage should not be an issue seen 
along partisan lines. I don't see it as a political question. The 
bottom line of the debate is that if the resolution goes down, the 
stuff Americans do on the internet today is going to cost them a whole 
lot more tomorrow. It is not going to take place years from now and be 
some kind of an abstract question. It is going to be on Americans. 
Those extra costs will come out of their pockets, and it will cost them 
a lot more in a hurry.
  I close by thanking my colleague from Massachusetts for all of his 
leadership. It has been my privilege to team up with him. I guess it 
becomes almost bicameral since the two of us started this in the House 
and the Senate.
  I urge my colleagues to support the Markey resolution and do the 
right thing. Support the consumer and small businesses. Let's not hand 
more power and profit to the big cable companies at the expense of 
Americans, from sea to shining sea, who cannot afford more money to 
come out of their wallets and go to the big cable companies.
  I see my friend on the floor.
  Mr. MARKEY. Will the Senator yield?
  Mr. WYDEN. I am happy to yield.
  Mr. MARKEY. I thank the Senator.
  Mr. President, I wanted to follow up on that very important point 
that the Senator was making, which is that these big companies are all 
saying: You don't have to worry because we don't have any intention of 
discriminating.
  Then we say: Well, that is what net neutrality says, that you should 
not discriminate, that you should treat everybody equally.
  Then they turn around and say: Oh, you can trust us, but take the 
rules off the books that we say that we agree with and that we are 
going to abide by.
  From my perspective, they are trying to have it both ways, but the 
way they really want to have it is with no rules at all. Then, they 
will be free to go back to displaying conduct which we know, in the 
past, they have engaged in.
  Does the Senator agree with that assessment?
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, my colleague from Massachusetts is probably 
being too logical for a lot of this discussion, whereby the special 
interests continue to shroud their real agenda, which is what my friend 
from Massachusetts has described. Clearly, with this effort the big 
cable companies, with their hopes riding on Mr. Pai, would like to go 
back to yesteryear, when they could gouge the consumer, when they could 
stick it to the person of modest means.
  I think my colleague has summed it up very well. If Mr. Pai and his 
allies were really going to present us with a real net neutrality plan, 
I know we would be interested in hearing about it, but they have never 
been interested in that. What they have been interested in is taking a 
whole lot of legalisms and murky language to try and fool the American 
consumer. The bottom line is Mr. Pai and his allies would like to set 
up these tollbooths across the country and start with a policy that, 
one way or another, is going to cost the typical consumer more.
  I look forward to my colleague's remarks.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, I thank the Senator because, I think, that 
is what he identified 12 years ago when he introduced a net neutrality 
bill here in the Senate and what I had identified over in the House. We 
worked together on it at that time, and the need just continues, 
especially as we get deeper and deeper into this internet era. It is 
almost like oxygen for somebody now, especially for young people, young 
entrepreneurs. They need to know that they can gain access to the web 
in order to start up their new software or internet companies, but they 
shouldn't have to first raise money to pay exorbitant fees to the big 
broadband companies. First, they should be free to innovate and not 
worry that they be can be discriminated against.
  Whether it is in Portland, OR, or in Springfield, MA, it is the same 
principle for which we have been trying to stand up for all of these 
years. It was the law until December of 2017, when Ajit Pai and the 
Trump FCC took it off the books. That is what the debate is about 
today: Are we going to put those rules, those nondiscriminatory rules, 
back on the books?
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, my colleague has said it very well. It is 
what I saw last week in these nine townhall meetings, and almost all of 
them were in rural Oregon.
  People joked and asked: Ron, why are you here? We have more cows than 
people.
  I said: My hometown is Portland. I love Portland.
  My only frustration, as my friend knows, is I didn't get to play for 
the Trail Blazers.
  I am not a Senator from the State of Portland. I am a Senator who 
represents every nook and cranny of Oregon, however small. What I would 
say to my friend and, I hope, to my colleagues--because the Senate 
represents a lot of rural terrain--is what I heard in places like Burns 
and Prairie City last week. If they have to pay more for less content, 
which, I think, could easily happen under these trickle-down 
telecommunications policies of Mr. Pai's, then it is not just going to 
be Portland, OR, and Springfield, MA. It is going to be rural America--
literally, from sea to shining sea--that is going to wake up very soon 
and find its bills going into the stratosphere.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, by the way, whether it is Burns or the 
Berkshires, there are rural parts in every State. We have them, as 
well, in Massachusetts. They have the same right of access to a free, 
unfettered internet as do the people who live in Cambridge, MA, or in 
Portland, OR. The rural parts in every State are entitled to it. The 
rural businesses, the farmers should all be able to rely upon--have a 
guarantee--its being free, open, and that they are not going to be 
discriminated against.
  That is why I wanted to get up and thank the Senator for his historic 
leadership on this issue. He was there at the dawn of this whole era, 
and he continues to ensure that the internet is infused with the values 
that, I think, our Nation wants to have reflected.
  Mr. WYDEN. It has been a privilege to work with my colleague. This 
has been bipartisan--especially making sure the kinds of policies that 
can come about with real net neutrality and making sure rural 
communities get a fair shake complement other work we are doing that 
represents the future. My colleague and I have talked about the fact 
that in our efforts to update the Medicare guarantee, for years and 
years both political parties have missed what Medicare has become.
  Back when I was director of the Gray Panthers--the senior citizens--
Medicare had two parts, Part A for hospitals and Part B for doctors. If 
you broke your ankle and went to the hospital, that was Part A of 
Medicare. That is not Medicare any longer. Today, Medicare is cancer, 
diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and chronic pulmonary disease--all of 
these chronic conditions. What my colleague has done--and I am so 
appreciative of the fact that we can work together on this. We said: 
Let's

[[Page S2697]]

update the Medicare guarantee. Medicare is not a voucher, a slip paper 
you give to people. It is a guarantee of basic services. So Senator 
Markey and I and others of both political parties have come along and 
said: Let's give people more care at home. Let's expand the role of 
telemedicine so that if you are in Burns or Prairie City, OR, or other 
small towns in America, you can have access to these technological 
marvels when you don't have a neurologist or a specialist.
  Make no mistake about it, what Mr. Pai is looking at is a 
prescription for trouble for rural healthcare because they, like so 
many of the people they serve, are going to face the prospect of those 
toll booths, and they are going to pay more, in many cases, for less.
  So I look forward to working with my colleague and listening to his 
remarks.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, 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. MARKEY. 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. MARKEY. Mr. President, as we conclude this part of the debate, I 
will just take note of the fact that the American Association of 
Retired People today has come out in favor of the open internet order, 
which is the restoring of net neutrality principles, which follows on 
what the former head of the Gray Panthers, the Senator from the State 
of Oregon, Mr. Wyden, raised today--the need to ensure that everyone 
gets the full protection of net neutrality rules.
  The votes we are about to cast are nothing short of the most 
consequential votes on the internet in the history of this body. We 
will take the important step to reaffirm the principles of 
nondiscrimination online or we will allow a few companies to control 
how we access the internet. We will stand up for the small app 
developer with a bright idea to change the world or we give another 
gift to the powerful corporate interests and their lobbyists in the 
District of Columbia. We will take a stand to protect our online 
economy or we will say goodbye to the internet as we know it.
  In 2018, essentially every company is an internet company. In my 
State of Massachusetts and in every other State, tech underpins the 
economy of the United States today. In 2017, almost half of all venture 
capital in the United States was invested into internet and software 
startups. That is over $34 billion.
  This is working. This is capitalism at its best. This is small 
business being able to receive the capital it needs in order to start 
new companies in our country. Small businesses are the ones that hire 
new people who do innovation. That is what the venture capital industry 
is indicating by pouring money into these smaller companies under a 
regime of net neutrality.
  So we found the secret recipe. When we take a democratized platform, 
with endless opportunity for communication, and add American ingenuity, 
the result is economic growth and innovation. What we are doing is 
working. With net neutrality protections in place, there is no problem 
that needs fixing.
  This fight began when Senator Wyden and I introduced net neutrality 
as legislation back more than a decade ago. I introduced it, Senator 
Wyden introduced it, because we knew then the internet was the most 
powerful and pervasive platform in the history of the world. Since 
then, the importance of the internet has skyrocketed, and the movement 
to protect it has followed suit. Millions of Americans are raising 
their voices for net neutrality because they know the power of the 
internet. They know it can categorize staggering commercial growth, 
they know it can create endless connections, and they know it can 
change the course of civilization in fractions of a second.
  A vote against net neutrality is a vote to change the fundamental 
character of the internet. A vote for net neutrality is a vote for 
America's future. I urge each and every one of my colleagues to vote 
yes on this resolution.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. WICKER. Thank you, Mr. President.
  I have been recognized to close the debate on this motion. In a few 
moments, we will be voting on the motion to proceed to this resolution. 
I will be voting no and urge my colleagues to do so.
  This debate is about a free and open internet, and it is also about a 
thriving and innovative internet. We can have both. For decades, we 
have had both, and we can continue to do so if we are smart about this.
  Does every Senator in this Chamber believe in a free and open 
internet? Yes.
  Does every Member of this body want to prevent blocking and the 
throttling of the internet? The answer is a resounding yes.
  Does any Member of the Senate advocate, as my friend from 
Massachusetts just suggested, that a company or two gets to set the 
rules for the entire internet? Absolutely not.
  Do all Senators and all Congressmen want the internet to be a source 
of innovation and job creation and prosperity as it has been for a 
quarter century? I hope so.
  I hope we all want this information superhighway, this technology 
superhighway to continue its success. I hope we all want the internet 
to continue being that phenomenal platform for market competition, 
health advancements, investment, technological progress, efficiency, 
and safety. I hope we all want this.
  If we all want this great engine to keep going, it is important to 
ask how all this happened in the first place. How did we get here? How 
did we arrive at this point in our Nation's history, with a dynamic 
internet economy that is truly the envy of the world?
  The answer lies in the creativity and ingenuity of the American 
spirit. This has allowed the internet to thrive under the light-touch 
regulatory framework that has governed the internet for most of its 
history.
  Let's revisit a little of that history. It was in 1996. I was a 
freshman Member of the House of Representatives at this time under a 
Democratic President, under a Democratic administration. Our country 
was at a crossroads on how to govern this new thing called the 
worldwide web, the internet. No one could have imagined the success of 
the internet we have today, but policymakers had the foresight not to 
regulate these new emerging information services like the services of a 
bygone era.
  Instead, in 1996, during the Clinton administration, a very 
deliberative, thoughtful decision was made not to impose title II 
rules--the same rules from the 1930s that were modeled for the Bell 
monopolies, that were modeled for a time during the Great Depression. 
That was the pivotal decision that allowed this great internet economy 
to thrive and to be the success it is today.
  Now let's fast-forward to recently, to 2015. That was the year the 
FCC made an ill-advised decision to change all that. Despite explosive 
growth, new applications, services, and consumer choice that the 
internet was delivering to Americans, the FCC imposed these title II 
rules, and that is what we are debating today. Almost immediately we 
saw a chilling effect on investment and innovation. U.S. companies were 
right to be uncertain about the archaic title II regulations and how 
they would apply to modern technology.
  Fortunately, this misguided action was reversed last year. The FCC 
lifted the 2015 regulations and restored the light-touch regulatory 
framework that has benefited consumers for almost two decades and has 
resulted in this great success. Today, some in Congress are trying to 
give the government more control again, applying utility-style 
regulations that would threaten the internet as we know it. We should 
reject these efforts.

  Let me say this: Many of my colleagues correctly, on both sides of 
the aisle, have been calling for bipartisan legislation to enshrine the 
net neutrality principles into law--legislation which I support, 
legislation which Members of the minority party have supported. If this 
resolution passes today, it will amount to merely a statement, nothing 
more.

[[Page S2698]]

  Senator Thune will give Senators an opportunity to pass bipartisan 
legislation today. I hope we will do that. I hope, once this statement 
is made, we will move on to enshrining net neutrality principles into a 
law that protects consumers and promotes innovation.

                          ____________________