(Senate - June 19, 2018)

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[Pages S4012-S4021]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of H.R. 5895, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 5895) making appropriations for energy and 
     water development and related agencies for the fiscal year 
     ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes.


       Shelby amendment No. 2910, in the nature of a substitute.
       Alexander amendment No. 2911 (to amendment No. 2910), to 
     make a technical correction.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam 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for the quorum call be rescinded.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.

                        Forced Family Separation

  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, Members of both parties--and I believe 
the vast majority of Americans--remain concerned about the Trump 
administration's zero tolerance policy, which has resulted in thousands 
of families being separated at the border. Anyone who has seen the 
photos, heard the audio of small children, alone and afraid, crying out 
for their parents, cannot help but feel horror and disgust about what 
is going on. That is not America. That is not the America we know and 
love and the generations before us have known and loved.
  Clearly, no one should be allowed into this country who doesn't meet 
the legal requirements, but we have an adjudication process that in the 
past did not require the separation of parents from their children. The 
Trump administration has decided, of its own will and volition, to take 
a crueler, more callous, and indeed more expensive and time-consuming 
  A bipartisan group of former U.S. attorneys wrote yesterday that 
``the Zero Tolerance policy is a radical departure from previous 
Justice Department policy, and that it is dangerous, expensive, and 
inconsistent with the values of the institution in which we served.''
  Yet President Trump acts as if his hands are tied, as if it is not up 
to him, as if somehow Congress and Democrats are to blame for a policy 
his administration instituted, defended, and many members of the 
administration continue to defend--most recently the Homeland Security 
  The truth is that the Trump administration announced this new zero 
tolerance policy at the border in April. Even they hadn't done it 
before that, so they weren't required. The Trump administration decided 
to criminally prosecute every single illegal border case, instead of 
simply deporting them. That is what changed--Donald Trump, of his own 
volition, changing the policy into a much crueler one. He was supported 
by his whole administration--by much of his administration.
  Chief of Staff Kelly called the policy ``a tough deterrent.'' 
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielson has defended the 
policy, as have Attorney General Sessions, White House Advisor Stephen 
Miller, and several other members of the administration.
  Last night on FOX News, Attorney General Sessions characterized the 
family separation policy as a deterrent. When President Trump tweets 
``CHANGE THE LAWS'' and that his policy is the result of a law that 
``Democrats forced . . . upon our nation,'' he is ignoring reality; he 
is contradicting his own administration. As commentator after 
commentator--Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative--has said: 
President Trump is simply not telling the truth, and in a cowardly way.
  No law--no law--requires the separation of families at the border. 
That is just not true.
  At the Republican convention, President Trump said about the problems 
of the Nation that ``I alone can fix it.'' In the case of family 
separation, it is actually true.
  Mr. President, you alone can fix it.
  The President alone can fix this with a flick of a pen.
  Mr. President, you should fix it. If you don't want to change this 
cruel policy, at least admit it is your decision. Blaming others 
falsely is cheap, easy, and dishonest--a cheap way out, unbecoming of 
any President.
  President Trump, if you are truly ashamed of what is happening at the 
border, get your team together and undo this policy. If you don't want 

[[Page S4013]]

change the policy, you need to take responsibility and own up to it.


  Madam President, on ZTE, last night, the Senate passed the National 
Defense Authorization Act, fulfilling its annual duty to authorize 
funding for our Nation's military and update our national security 
policy. As a part of the bill, a bipartisan amendment to reinstate 
sanctions against Chinese telecom giant ZTE passed as well.
  Although many have probably not heard of ZTE, Americans of all 
stripes should be cheering this news because in the views of many 
experts, if we allow ZTE into this country, China and its government 
will use our phones to spy on each of us, our companies, with their 
great technology, and our military. That is why so many people are 
against ZTE being allowed into this country. In my view, the same would 
be true of Huawei, the other big Chinese telecom company.
  ZTE, backed by China's Government, has flouted U.S. sanctions and 
lied about it. The FCC, the FBI, and the Pentagon have all issued stern 
warnings about the national risk posed by ZTE's technology. Allowing 
the sale of ZTE technology in the United States could allow China to 
spy on every American's private information, on American businesses, 
and even on our military. It is a security risk.
  Why is President Trump, in a simple call with President Xi, just 
letting it continue? Fines don't matter at all to this giant company. 
They will still pose the same security risk before and after they pay a 
  When the Trump administration reached a sweetheart deal with ZTE to 
go easy on them, folks in Congress from both parties were shaking their 
heads in disbelief. China is the single most significant threat to 
American jobs and American intellectual property--the lifeblood of our 
economy. ZTE represents that threat. There is no good reason to take it 
easy on them.
  It is important that Members of both parties--some of the most 
conservative Members of this body, some of the most liberal Members of 
this body, and everyone in between--have stood up and said that we 
shouldn't be forgiving ZTE. It is now vital that our House colleagues 
keep this bipartisan provision in the national defense bill as it heads 
toward a conference. They should not let the pressure of President 
Trump, who simply doesn't know how to negotiate--President Xi flatters 
him, and he gives in on something vital to national security. They 
should not let President Trump pressure them into reducing American 
security, both economic and defense. They should not let President 
Trump pressure them into allowing ZTE to spy on every one of us, which 
they could very well do.
  Before moving on, I want to take a moment to thank Senators Cotton 
and Rubio for working with Senator Van Hollen and me and the rest of us 
on this issue. My friends on the other side of the aisle--it is harder 
for them to oppose the President than it is for us--had the courage of 
their convictions not only to speak out but also to support this 
legislation, despite the opposition of their party's President.
  It is rare, indeed, when Schumer, Van Hollen, Rubio, and Cotton issue 
a joint statement, but on this issue, we all agree. It is an issue that 
transcends party and concerns the vital national security interests of 
this great United States of America. I am very glad that for the sake 
of the country, we were able to come together and pass this amendment.


  Madam President, on healthcare, today, we expect the Trump 
administration to issue a new rule that would expand junk insurance 
plans that don't cover critical conditions and are far from 
comprehensive health coverage. These plans may not include coverage for 
maternity care, may not include coverage for mental health treatment, 
may not include coverage for emergency services, newborn care, 
prescription drugs. Worse still, these plans weaken protections for 
Americans with preexisting conditions. Finalizing this rule is simply 
the latest act of sabotage of our healthcare system by the Trump 
administration and a back door to expanding junk insurance plans, which 
benefit the insurance industry but hurt the average American.
  That is why more than 95 percent of the healthcare groups that filed 
comments about this proposed rule were opposed to it. No single group 
that represents physicians, patients, hospitals, or nurses is 
supportive. Not one. You are always going to find people who can make a 
fast buck putting together a healthcare plan that does very little for 
people as they collect money from them. Our responsibility is to not 
allow that. In this Congress, we had done that. President Trump is 
undoing it.
  The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress should work with 
Democrats in a bipartisan way to make healthcare more affordable 
instead of taking actions that jack up costs on middle-class families 
and those who are sick and need healthcare the most.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. SHELBY. Madam President, just 3 months ago, Congress passed and 
the President signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package for the 
year 2018. No one had time to read it, much less an opportunity to 
amend it on the floor. The President vowed that never again would he 
sign such a measure. Collectively, we lamented the absence of process 
and the excess of partisanship that had led to that point once again. 
The collapse of regular order had become the new normal, despite our 
usual resolutions to revive it.
  I am pleased to report today that the Senate Appropriations Committee 
has charted a different course in the months since the 2018 omnibus 
became law. In April of this year, I began working with Vice Chairman 
Leahy and our colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to put into 
motion an aggressive schedule to mark up all 12 appropriations bills 
before the July 4 recess. Thus far, the committee has passed seven of 
these bills. This week, the committee will mark up three additional 
bills, and in the final week of June, we will consider the remaining 
two. At the moment, we are right on schedule.
  What has been truly remarkable, however, is not the speed of the 2019 
appropriations process but the bipartisanship that has given it new 
life. All seven of the bills passed by the committee thus far have 
garnered overwhelming bipartisan support. Most of them, in fact, have 
been approved unanimously. This is no small accomplishment in today's 
partisan political environment.

  At this point, I pause to recognize Vice Chairman Leahy's significant 
contributions to this effort. Senator Leahy and I have known each other 
for many decades now. In fact, our combined years on the Appropriations 
Committee exceed the ages of many of our colleagues.
  On this basis, we came together at the outset of the process and 
determined that only by uniting would appropriations bills make it to 
the Senate floor and beyond. He and I made a deal, the essence of which 
POLITICO succinctly summarized in the headline of a recent article, 
entitled: ``Poison pills banished from Senate spending bills.'' That is 
what we hope.
  As part of this deal, Vice Chairman Leahy and I agreed to reject not 
only partisan riders--our own too--but also new authorizations in the 
2019 appropriations bills. We resolved that Senators on both sides who 
would be looking to authorize new law in appropriations bills would be 
referred to the appropriate authorizing committees. As the 
appropriations process has unfolded, I have honored this deal, Vice 
Chairman Leahy has honored this deal, and our subcommittee chairmen and 
ranking members have honored this deal. The results speak for 
  Last week, for example, the Interior, Environment, and Related 
Agencies appropriations bill passed unanimously out of committee. One 
would have to go back nearly 10 years to find the last time the 
Interior bill garnered such strong bipartisan support.
  I recognize that today we are still early in the game and that many 
contentious issues lie ahead, but I believe we have established a 
framework for success in returning to regular order. It is now time to 
translate this success to the Senate floor. Members of the 
Appropriations Committee, including the Presiding Officer, through 
their discipline and adhering to this framework, have demonstrated that 
their perennial calls for a return to regular order have not been 
hollow. We will begin today to discover whether the

[[Page S4014]]

full Senate is equally sincere in its resolve.
  The package before the Senate combines three fiscal year 2019 
measures that have been recently approved by the Appropriations 
Committee: the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill, the 
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies 
appropriations bill, and the Legislative Branch appropriations bill.
  The Energy and Water Development bill provides $43.7 billion in 
discretionary funding--a $566 million increase over the 2018-enacted 
level. The bill addresses critical national security needs concerning 
nuclear energy, while it also improves our water infrastructure and 
invests in basic science and energy research for this Nation.
  Senators Alexander and Feinstein, the chairman and ranking member of 
the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, have crafted, I believe, 
a balanced, bipartisan bill that passed the full committee by a 30-to-1 
  The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies 
bill--the second bill--provides $97.1 billion in discretionary funding, 
which is $5.1 billion above the 2018-enacted level. This bill supports 
investments that will ensure maximum readiness and warfighting 
capability for our troops, while it also provides funding for needed 
improvements and innovations at the VA.
  Senators Boozman and Schatz, the chairman and ranking member of the 
MILCON, VA, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, wrote a strong bill that 
received unanimous support of the full committee.
  Finally, the Senate's Legislative Branch bill provides $3.3 billion 
in discretionary funding, which is $68 million above the 2018-enacted 
level. This bill, the third bill, makes important investments in the 
safety and security of those who are working in Congress and those 
citizens who are guests, visiting our Capitol. Chairman Daines and 
Ranking Member Murphy, of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, also 
drafted a strongly bipartisan bill that garnered the unanimous support 
of the full Appropriations Committee.
  I thank Chairmen Alexander, Boozman, and Daines and Ranking Members 
Feinstein, Schatz, and Murphy this morning for their continued hard 
work and leadership on these bills.
  As we move to the consideration of these bills today on the floor, I 
urge all Members to submit any amendments they have as soon as 
possible. Vice Chairman Leahy and I are committed to having an open 
amendment process, as are each of the subcommittee chairmen and ranking 
members, who will be managing their respective parts of these 
legislative packages. Just as they worked diligently to accommodate as 
many Members' requests as possible during the committee process, they 
intend to accommodate as many amendments as they can on the floor.
  To recap for the benefit of the Members, we are not interested in 
poison pill riders, and we are not considering new authorizations of 
law, but we are interested in discussing substantive amendments that 
are germane to this package. This is the path, I believe, that leads us 
back to regular order. It is my hope that we will not be led astray, 
down the path of delay and partisanship, which would result in yet 
another omnibus. That is no way to fund the government.
  Let's debate and dispose and do our job on behalf of the American 
people. Let's demonstrate to the American people that our collective 
call for a return to regular order was not just for show. Let's 
complete our work on this package in a timely manner so we can move on 
to the considerable work that lies ahead.
  I take this moment to thank all Senators for their input and their 
cooperation in this process thus far.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I appreciate the comments from my friend, 
the chairman of the Appropriations Committee. As many know, Chairman 
Shelby and I have been friends for decades. We have traveled to 
different parts of the world and tried to promote the U.S. agenda. We 
have worked very closely together. That is why we are opening debate on 
the first set of appropriations bills for fiscal year 2019. The minibus 
before us contains the Energy and Water Development appropriations 
bill, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations 
bill, and the Legislative Branch appropriations bill. These bills have 
strong bipartisan support.
  On each subcommittee, I compliment the chairs and ranking members, 
who worked very closely together and set aside partisan labels to get 
these bills before the full committee so that Senator Shelby and I 
could then bring them up for votes in the full committee. So far, we 
have reported from the committee 7 of the 12 annual appropriations 
bills, each with overwhelming bipartisan support--I almost want to 
reemphasize that: each with overwhelming bipartisan support--at a time 
when it is as though nothing can be done in a bipartisan way. I think 
we have set the example of the way the Senate was, should be and can 
  As one who has been in this body for almost 44 years, I like to see 
the Senate work the way it should. In fact, we are going to mark up 
three of the five remaining bills this week. The chairman and I are 
committed to making the appropriations process work again. So far, in 
committee, it has. In that respect, I thank, again, my good friend 
Senator Shelby for his leadership and bipartisan cooperation, which has 
helped us achieve these results so far.
  Our best chance for restoring regular order and avoiding the need to 
do an omnibus spending bill at the end of the year is to abide by the 
bipartisan-bicameral budget agreement and avoid poison pill riders from 
the left or the right. The bill before us does just that.
  The chairman and I--and we are the ones who have to spend the time on 
the floor--want a real debate of the spending measure. Members should 
come to the floor, offer amendments, and debate them. Yet, if we are 
going to succeed in moving this bill through the Senate, Members on 
both sides of the aisle need to show restraint as we did when we marked 
up these bills in committee and refrain from offering controversial 
legislative matters or other poison pills as amendments. Offer those on 
authorizing bills, where they should be, and debate them there.
  The appropriations bills that make up the minibus before us contain 
funding for important programs and make a real difference in people's 
lives, certainly in the lives of those in every Senator's State--in 
Vermont and across the Nation. We should not derail this process 
because of unrelated policy riders. If we do this--if both sides of the 
aisle can show restraint--we will take a very important step in getting 
this process back on track and putting the Senate back to where it 
should be.
  Let's talk about the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill. 
It dedicates considerable resources to the support and care of our 
veterans, including $2 billion to address the maintenance backlog at 
our VA hospitals and clinics. We agreed to that in the bipartisan 
budget deal, and we have it in this bill. It also has critical funding 
for medical care and research, hospital and clinic construction, and 
disability and pension programs.
  The Energy and Water Development bill invests in our country's water 
infrastructure and energy programs. It also provides funding to support 
our rural communities and farmers, which will benefit not just Vermont 
but the rest of the Nation. All of us have rural areas in our States, 
and this will benefit them. I am pleased that the bill supports much 
needed repairs and improvements in our environmental infrastructure and 
in our energy infrastructure and that it strengthens innovative ways to 
deliver these critical assets.
  From a parochial point of view, I know it makes Vermont more 
resilient to the change in climate and violent weather events. All one 
has to do is look at the map. It makes every State more resilient, 
which is what we need. Once again, the bill includes strong funding for 
the weatherization program and, of course, helps families in Vermont, 
the Northeast, and northern States across the country. Families in 
Vermont can struggle with high home heating prices during the cold 
winter months, when it is not unusual to have days or a week during 
which it is below zero.
  The bill wisely rejects several of the administration's budget 
proposals by making real investments in renewable energy and energy 
efficiency programs. That is going to accelerate diversified

[[Page S4015]]

and sustainable energy production in every part of our country and 
support American innovation in the private sector as well as the many 
world-class research institutions across the country. I want to see 
American innovation being supported. This bill will create and sustain 
American jobs.
  The Legislative Branch bill provides funding for the Senate at large, 
as well as to cover the House of Representatives, the Library of 
Congress, the Copyright Office, the Architect of the Capitol, and the 
Capitol Police. In addition, it supports the Congressional Budget 
Office and the Government Accountability Office, which are essential to 
our oversight functions. I support this package of bills that came from 
the committee, and I urge other Members to do the same.
  Let me just mention one issue briefly that relates to veterans' 
healthcare. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill has one 
serious problem, and Chairman Shelby and I are committed to fixing it. 
The bill does not provide money to cover the costs that are associated 
with the VA Choice Program, which was transferred to the discretionary 
side of the budget under the VA MISSION Act. It will become part of a 
new consolidated community care program to be funded in this 
bill. Unfortunately, the MISSION Act provides funding for this program 
only through May of 2019, leaving the balance unaddressed. To cover the 
shortfall, we are going to need an estimated $1.6 billion more in 
fiscal year 2019 and an additional $8.6 billion in fiscal year 2020 and 
$9.5 billion in fiscal year 2021.

  These costs were not accounted for when we negotiated the budget caps 
in the bipartisan budget deal, so the chairman and ranking member of 
the subcommittee were unable to address the shortfall within their 
allocation without cutting funding for other important programs. We do 
our veterans no favors if we promise care but then not back it up and 
say: Oh, by the way, we are not going to pay for it. Senator Shelby and 
I are working to find a solution to provide the flexibility needed to 
make sure, having made this promise to our veterans, we can carry out 
the promise. We hope to offer an amendment later this week to address 
this issue.
  In conclusion, I look forward to the debate on the appropriations 
bill before us, and I ask Senators--all 100 of us--to work with us to 
restore the appropriations process. We can only achieve success if we 
return to regular order and pledge to work together. To give an example 
that Chairman Shelby and I have set, the 31 members of the Senate 
Appropriations Committee voted overwhelmingly on both sides of the 
aisle for these bills. So I thank the chairman, and I also thank the 
subcommittee chairs and ranking members because they worked like mad, 
and they got it done.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.
  Mr. BOOZMAN. Madam President, I am pleased to present the Military 
Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations 
bill for fiscal year 2019. This is a bipartisan bill that funds the 
critical infrastructure for our Nation's servicemembers and their 
families and takes care of America's 20 million veterans.
  As in years past, this subcommittee crafted the bill in a truly open 
and bipartisan and collegial way. The subcommittee took into account 
the requests and preferences of all Members on both sides of the aisle 
and balanced it with the administration's budget submission. Within 
this framework, we have created a thoughtful and responsible path 
forward for both Departments and our related agencies.
  A lot of time and energy have gone into putting this legislation 
together, and I thank Senator Schatz and his staff for working so hard 
to address the needs of our servicemembers and veterans.
  This bill provides $97.1 billion in discretionary spending, which is 
$5.1 billion over last year's level. Within that, the Department of 
Veterans Affairs is provided a new record level of resources at $86.4 
billion in discretionary funding, which is $5 billion over last year's 
level and $1.1 billion over the President's request. These resources 
will provide healthcare and other important benefits earned by U.S. 
  This bill provides $78.3 billion to support medical treatment and 
healthcare, including $8.6 billion for mental health, including funds 
to prevent veteran suicide; $861 million for the caregivers program; 
$400 million for opioid misuse prevention and treatment; and $270 
million for rural health initiatives.
  The bill also includes funds to prevent veterans' homelessness, 
invest in innovative medical research, eliminate the claims backlog, 
provide for State extended-care facility construction, and support the 
Board of Veterans Appeals' efforts to address the growing appellate 
  The bill provides $10.3 billion to support military construction and 
family housing needs--a $228 million increase over last year's level. 
This will fund a total of 169 military construction projects that 
restore warfighter readiness and increase the lethality of our 
installations. These projects support beddown of new platforms, such as 
the F-35 and KC-46, and provide investments that support nuclear 
deterrence and air superiority. Pier replacements and dry dock 
improvements will add capability and enhance mission readiness. 
Improvements to airfields, ranges, and maintenance and training 
facilities will contribute to current and future force readiness.
  This bill provides resources to improve the quality of life for 
servicemembers and their families. It provides $1.6 billion to provide 
homes and related housing services to servicemembers and their families 
living on installations around the world, $388 million to improve 
schools, and $366 million for hospitals and medical clinics.
  We were also able to address $498 million worth of construction 
priorities identified in the services' unfunded priority lists, which 
will allow the services to fund their highest priority unfunded 
  The bill contains $921 million for overseas contingency operations 
and the European Deterrence Initiative to improve infrastructure and 
facilities throughout the European theater to help our allies deter 
further Russian aggression and address threats from the Middle East and 
North Africa.
  In summary, this is a good bill. It was reported out of committee 
without a single dissenting vote, and I hope we will have unanimous 
support when we vote on the final package. I ask my colleagues to 
support this bill.
  I thank Senators Shelby and Leahy for their support in putting this 
bill together. Again, I thank Senator Schatz and his staff for working 
with us in such a bipartisan and cooperative manner. Of course, I thank 
all of my staff for all their efforts and the hard work it takes to put 
something of this magnitude together.
  With that, Madam President, I yield back.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
  Mr. SCHATZ. Madam President, I am pleased to join my colleague from 
Arkansas, the chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans 
Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee in presenting this bill for 
consideration before the full Senate. I thank him for his work to 
create a fair and bipartisan bill. I also thank the Appropriations 
Committee chairman and vice chairman for their leadership and 
commitment to an orderly process to bring these bills and all the 
appropriations bills to the floor. This is the first set of 
appropriations bills before the Senate this year. We are making good 
progress, and in the next few days, we are going to set the tone for 
the rest of our work this year on appropriations.
  This bill builds on the progress we made in the omnibus by providing 
critical funding to support our veterans, servicemembers, and their 
families. It also funds military construction projects that are needed 
to continue our work to address years of budgetary risk-taking that 
have led to neglected facilities tied to military readiness.
  In total, the bill provides the VA with nearly $5 billion more than 
last year's bill and adds more than $200 million for military 
  I am particularly pleased that we were able to fund $500 million 
worth of unfunded military construction requirements. While increased 
funding must continue to be requested and sustained in future years, 
this funding makes progress to restore military readiness across the 
joint force, including, importantly, for the Army and Air National 
Guard that have served as an

[[Page S4016]]

operational reserve for nearly two decades of war.
  The increased funding for the VA will go where it will do the most 
good for our veterans and their families, and that includes $400 
million to combat the opioid epidemic, which is $18 million above the 
budget request; $365 million above the budget request for the 
caregivers program; nearly $500 million above the omnibus for mental 
health services; an additional $87 million to increase staffing to 
process veterans' disability claims appeals; and an additional $30 
million to help deliver telehealth services to remote and rural areas.
  We also add funding for VA medical care above the fiscal year 2019 
advance appropriation that we provided in the omnibus. This includes an 
additional $750 million for VA in-house care and $1 billion to pay for 
privately provided care through VA's traditional community care 
  We all agree that VA's community partners are essential to serving 
veterans and ensuring access, especially in rural areas, but privately 
provided care cannot come at the expense of VA's in-house medical 
services or other programs that are core to VA, and that is where the 
administration is trying to take us. Without budgetary relief, their 
efforts will leave a $38 billion hole at VA and undermine its ability 
to serve our veterans and their families.
  I know that the chairman and vice chairman of the whole committee are 
continuing to work with the leadership and the chairman and ranking 
member of the authorizing committee to fix this issue so that we can 
fulfill our promises to veterans, and on that, they will have my full 
  Madam President, I again thank Chairman Boozman and his staff and my 
staff for their hard work and collaboration that went into crafting 
this bipartisan bill. I will have more to say as we move forward this 
week. In the meantime, I encourage any of our colleagues who may have 
amendments to file those as soon as possible so that we can ensure that 
we have sufficient time to review them.
  Madam President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Young). Without objection, it is so 

                           Colorado Wildfires

  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, last year, Colorado had a great snowpack 
in many areas of the State. In fact, the moisture, rain, and snowpack 
in many areas of Colorado led to a lot of growth, a lot of great spring 
grass, and a lot of undergrowth that came in. The problem is, when you 
have a wet year followed by a dry year, that same growth then turns 
into tinder during a drought.
  That is, unfortunately, what we have seen in parts of Colorado this 
year. Many parts of Colorado are experiencing some of the driest 
conditions they have seen in 70 or 80 years.
  On June 1, the 416 fire in Southwest Colorado was started. It started 
burning, and now about 35,000 acres of land have been gobbled up by 
this wildfire. There are also a number of other fires across Colorado: 
the Burro fire, the Buffalo Mountain fire, and there was a fire between 
Redvale and Montrose, CO.
  I come to the floor to bring attention to some of the actions we have 
taken, though, that have helped with fighting these fires and to talk 
about policies we need to put in place that can do a better job giving 
more tools to fight these fires and what we can do to help make 
firefighters do their jobs in a better, safer way.
  If you look at what we did these past years--a couple of months ago, 
we passed a bill that fixed the fire-borrowing crisis, which had 
consumed our wildfire fighting budget each and every year. What 
happened is that Congress would fund firefighting based on a 10-year 
rolling average, and then they would exceed that cost of the 
firefighting budget and consume other parts of the Forest Service 
budget, cannibalizing other parts that would go toward mitigation to 
prevent next year's forest fires just to fund the firefighting efforts 
of this year's fires. So we have never really caught up with the cycle. 
Over half of the budget of the Forest Service--at least prior to this 
fix--was being consumed on fighting forest fires.
  This Congress did a great job with a bipartisan fix that now actually 
allows us to treat it more like a normal, traditional disaster instead 
of cannibalizing other funds within the Forest Service.
  I asked one of the Forest Service representatives, employees, at the 
fire: Are you able to make better decisions knowing now that you have a 
budget fix in place? The answer was yes. So we are actually able to 
fight fires.
  We have a map right here. The city of Durango, CO, is basically right 
here. This fire is moving, and we are able to fight this fire better, 
knowing that we have the funding, the resources necessary, to 
adequately supply these firefighting efforts.
  At least as of a day ago, we haven't lost a home from this 35,000-
acre fire, even though nearly 2,000 homes have been evacuated. I think 
that is a remarkable feat, an accomplishment. Great credit needs to go 
to the 1,300 firefighter personnel who are on this fire and the Burro 
fires 10 miles over the mountain. They have not lost a structure as a 
result of their efforts and the tools that we have helped to give them.
  To the personnel: Thank you for the work that you continue to do.
  To the people of Colorado who may have scheduled a vacation or 
planned a vacation in Durango and Silverton, CO: Know that these towns 
remain open, that you can still go to Durango, CO, that you can still 
go down the river, and that you can have an incredible time with your 
  I encourage people across this country not to cancel their vacations, 
not to cancel their plans, but to go ahead and visit. This town, this 
State, needs you now more than ever. I encourage people to recognize 
that, yes, there may be a fire in the forest, but it is not in the 
town. It is perfectly safe to go visit, to be there, and I hope they 
will because both Silverton and Durango need you now more than ever.
  We also know that our land managers can use better policies in terms 
of reducing fuel loads and making sure they can get into the forest to 
reduce the potential for a serious conflagration--the types of which we 
have seen more and more of recently--to help give them better tools to 
cut through litigation and the analysis paralysis that has tied our 
decision makers' hands when it comes to fighting fires.
  One of the things I have heard at other fires in Colorado, outside of 
the 416 fire, is the concern about drones. I hope every person 
listening to speeches and the news reports will take to heart that when 
you fly a drone, when you fly a UAV over a fire because you think it 
would be neat to get pictures of it, understand that you are putting 
people's lives at risk, and you are stopping--you are putting a halt--
to significant elements of the firefighting effort.
  What do I mean by that? One drone will shut down the air tanker 
program--no more slurry efforts, no retardant flying in, no more 
helicopters flying in, no more airplanes flying in and dropping 
retardant that can stop the spread of the fire. Please, please, stop 
interfering with active firefighting efforts.
  Scott Tipton and I will be introducing legislation that will increase 
penalties on people who are interfering with firefighting efforts by 
flying a drone over a wildfire. It has to stop. It is putting people's 
lives at risk, and it is certainly allowing these fires to spread 
because they have to shut down their firefighting efforts.
  We can't fight these fires at night with tankers. We are working on 
that. We have other legislation that will allow night vision goggle 
research to be done to help make this effort happen, to be able to help 
fight these fires, but we can't do it now. So when you take out an hour 
or 2 or more of the day, that means those tankers can't get in, that 
means more acres are burned, and that means more lives are put at risk. 
Stop it. You are hurting people.
  This is something for which we have to give more tools to our 
decision makers and land managers to help reduce the fuel, cut through 
the litigation, the

[[Page S4017]]

redtape, and reduce the number of lawsuits that are preventing these 
forests from being managed in a healthy manner. Let's do that. Then we 
have to make sure we continue with other policies to get more dollars 
on the ground for fuel-reduction efforts.
  Long-term consequences of this fire, though, will remain because long 
after the smoke is gone, the effects will be felt. When there is a 
rainstorm, we will have hydrophobic soil conditions that will create 
debris flows that go into the river, causing conduits to be impacted, 
perhaps wiped out, and the viaducts that are going to be affected, the 
water conduits that will be affected through debris flows, the drinking 
water systems that could be impacted throughout, and the flooding 
potential that dramatically increases. Those effects will have to be 
dealt with, but there are other effects too.
  When you are dealing with businesses here that rely on the use of the 
forest, particularly in the summer, those seasonal businesses are 
impacted right now and are going to need help, and the Small Business 
Administration, the Department of Commerce, and others could help 
provide disaster relief to these businesses. If you are relying on a 
forest for your business during the summer and that forest has been 
closed, obviously your business is greatly impacted. That is something 
this Congress will have to continue to work through as we address the 
impacts on seasonal businesses throughout Colorado--and around the 
West, for that matter--that have been affected by these wildfires.
  To this Congress: Thank you for the work you did to fix the practice 
of firebombing, for putting an end to it, and for allowing us to budget 
regularly for wildfires, making sure we have the dollars necessary to 
do this without impacting forest programs that would have reduced next 
year's fires.
  Let's stop dangerous activities. Stop flying drones, interfering with 
wildfires. Let's work on policies that we can innovate to bring new 
science, new expertise, new research to allow us to do a better job of 
fighting fires.
  I hope people will remember that Durango and Silverton remain open; 
all of Colorado remains open. Come visit, and spend your time. There 
are great memories you could make with your families in our forests, in 
our incredible and beautiful environment of Colorado and the West.
  Mr. President, I thank you. This is one more important thing to 
remind us that we are all in this together, and I thank this Congress 
for the work they have done.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                               Tax Reform

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, the good economic news keeps pouring in. 
CNBC reports that economic growth for the second quarter of 2018 is 
``on track to double 2017's full-year pace.''
  In April, for the first time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
began tracking the data, the number of job openings outnumbered the 
number of job seekers. In May, unemployment dropped to its lowest level 
in 18 years. Wages are growing at the fastest rate since July 2009. 
Retail sales are up significantly, and small business optimism has hit 
its second highest level ever. A recent survey from the National 
Association of Manufacturers reported that 77 percent of manufacturers 
plan to increase hiring as a result of tax reform, 72 percent plan to 
increase wages or benefits, and 86 percent report that they plan to 
increase investments, which means new jobs and opportunities for 
workers. Those are a lot of numbers, but they all boil down to one 
thing; that is, that life is getting better for American families.
  Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported: ``Economic confidence 
among lower-income Americans has taken a recent leap, the latest 
evidence that benefits of the economic expansion are reaching a broader 
swath of workers.''
  If there is one thing that is needed to help people achieve the 
American dream, it is a thriving economy. What do people think about 
when they think about the American dream? They dream about starting a 
business from their kitchen table and growing it into a thriving 
enterprise. They dream about a secure job that will allow them to own a 
nice home, plus have extra to take the kids to the beach each year, and 
save for education, retirement, and those unexpected expenses. They 
dream about landing a job at their dream company and working their way 
up the ladder to the top; they dream about fulfilling work that can 
turn into a fulfilling career; and they dream about a secure retirement 
with extra money to treat the grandkids. Those are the types of things 
Americans dream about when they think about the American dream.
  Well, it is pretty hard to accomplish any of those dreams if the 
economy is stagnant or struggling. It is pretty hard to work your way 
up the ladder if your company is having to lay off people. It is hard 
to buy a house or save for the kids' college if you don't have anything 
left over once you have paid the bills.
  During the last administration, the economy did not thrive and, as a 
result, American families struggled. So when President Trump took 
office, Republicans and President Trump made reversing our economic 
decline a priority. Perhaps the two biggest drags on our economy during 
the Obama administration were burdensome regulations and an outdated 
tax code. So we took immediate action to roll back burdensome Obama 
administration regulations, and we got to work on reforming our 
outdated Tax Code. Six months ago this week, we passed historic tax 
reform. Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Tax Code was not helping 
businesses grow and create jobs. In fact, it was doing the opposite, 
and that had real consequences for American workers. A small business 
owner struggling to afford the hefty annual tax bill for her business 
was highly unlikely to be able to hire a new worker or to raise wages. 
A larger business struggling to stay competitive in the global 
marketplace while paying a substantially higher tax rate than its 
foreign competitors too often had limited funds to expand or increase 
investment in the United States.
  So we took action to improve the playing field for American workers 
by improving the playing field for businesses as well. To accomplish 
that, we lowered tax rates across the board for owners of small- and 
medium-sized businesses, farms, and ranches. We lowered our Nation's 
massive corporate tax rate, which up until January 1 was the highest 
corporate tax rate in the developed world. We expanded business owners' 
ability to recover investments they make in their businesses, which 
frees up cash they can reinvest in their operations and their workers, 
and we brought the U.S. international tax system into the 21st century 
so American businesses are not operating at a disadvantage next to 
their foreign competitors.
  Now we are seeing the results. Companies have announced higher wages, 
better retirement benefits, bonuses, increased investment, new jobs, 
and more. As I mentioned above, 77 percent of manufacturers plan to 
increase hiring as a result of tax reform and 72 percent plan to 
increase wages or benefits. Meanwhile, at the end of May, the National 
Federation of Independent Business reported that a record-high 
percentage of small businesses had increased compensation for their 
employees. Then there are the 100-plus utility companies that are 
lowering rates as a result of tax reform, the companies boosting their 
education benefits to help employees get the skills they need for 
successful careers, the companies expanding parental leave benefits, 
the low unemployment rate, the pace of wage growth, and so much more.
  In short, as I mentioned earlier, life is getting better for American 
families. Opportunities are expanding, paychecks are increasing, wages 
are growing, benefits are growing, and that means more families are 
able to afford those car repairs or that downpayment on a house. More 
families are able to set aside money for their kids' education, and 
more families are able to boost their retirement contributions. More 
families are looking forward to a secure future.
  I am proud of the benefits the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is delivering 

[[Page S4018]]

American families, and I am going to keep working for policies that 
will expand opportunities for families in this country even further.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORKER. 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. CORKER. Mr. President, I plan to speak more fully tomorrow on 
this topic, but the Constitution, as I know the Presiding Officer knows 
and I know others in the Chamber know, gives the U.S. Congress the 
authority to deal with revenues and tariffs.
  I know we are dealing with some regular order business during this 
week, and I am glad we are able to do so. I congratulate my colleague--
the other Senator from Tennessee, our senior Senator--for the way he is 
conducting himself as it relates to dealing with appropriations and the 
members of the Appropriations Committee for the work they have done to 
make sure we can move through this in a timely fashion.
  From time to time, moments arise in U.S. history where Congress 
should assert its authority and play a calming role at a time when the 
world is roiling from a President who wakes up each morning and decides 
the next steps he is going to take against other countries, as it 
relates to tariffs, with no seeming strategy nor reasoning for much of 
what he is doing.
  We have an amendment we are seeking to make even better to hopefully 
cause the Congress--the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives--
to take its rightful role as it relates to this tariff situation.
  Today, we had a number of small businesses from Tennessee--I am sure 
there are many from Indiana and Alaska--that are wondering what in the 
world they are waking up to as tariffs just seem to be rolling off at 
the White House--again, with no seeming strategy or thought, but just 
waking up and putting in place taxes on the American people, changing 
the relationships that have been built since World War II between our 
Nation and others, in some cases, appearing to take place over personal 
tiffs the President may have against an individual or another company. 
That is not the way the United States has led the world. We have a 
responsibility as a Congress over these matters.
  Section 232 of the Trade Act has never been used like it is being 
used today, where we, in essence, are claiming, under the guise of 
national security, tariffs being put in place against our neighbors and 
against our allies. I don't think there is a person in this body who 
believes the national security waiver being utilized in the manner it 
is being utilized is even appropriate. I can't imagine there is anybody 
in this body who even believes that to be the case. Yet our President 
wakes up on a daily basis and decides he is going to put in place 
policies that are going to affect our Nation and others and the 
citizens we represent, affecting them in major ways.

  So I am here today to say that I know pressure is going to build. I 
know other countries are going to retaliate. They have no choice but to 
retaliate. The citizens they represent would push them--are pushing 
them--to retaliate. They have no choice.
  We as a body have a responsibility at this time to reclaim our 
responsibilities as they relate to tariffs and revenues. Allow the 
President to continue to negotiate--allow him to do so--but when he 
completes his work, he should bring whatever it is he would like to 
impose on other countries--especially since he is using section 232 in 
ways that it was never intended--he should bring that to the Senate and 
to the House of Representatives, and we should decide. If section 232 
is being abused in the way that it is, we should decide what tariffs 
should be put in place.
  I plan to come back and speak on this matter tomorrow. I hope that at 
some point--as pressure builds, as chaos is created in other countries 
and around the world, as our leadership role in the world continues to 
take a hit and be challenged, I hope the Senate will rise to the 
  I thank those many people on both sides of the aisle who have 
sponsored legislation to deal with this. I hope the leader and the 
minority leader of the Senate will decide that this is an important 
issue we need to take up and that we will take action.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise in support of the 
appropriations package currently under consideration, particularly the 
section dealing with Energy and Water Development appropriations.
  I know my good friend Senator Alexander, the chairman of our 
Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee, spoke last evening. I 
have served as chairman or ranking member of that committee for the 
past 5 years--we have alternated--and it has been a real pleasure and a 
great privilege for me to work with him.
  I also want to thank Senator Shelby and Vice Chairman Leahy. Perhaps 
people don't know this, but they have taken truly meaningful steps to 
return us to regular order. It has been a long time coming, and I truly 
hope it can be maintained. I have been on the Appropriations Committee 
for more than two decades, and I have been saddened to watch as we have 
descended into partisanship year after year and lessened our influence 
as a committee.
  Believe it or not, it has been 21 years since Congress passed all 12 
appropriations bills by October 1. Since then, we have just staggered 
through a series of continuing resolutions and omnibuses. So I thank my 
colleagues on the Appropriations Committee for supporting this bill 
during markup, where we saw a vote of 30 to 1. I hope we will be able 
to maintain that spirit of bipartisanship on the floor, and I urge my 
colleagues to refrain from offering poison pill amendments, which would 
derail our progress.
  I believe this is a fair bill. It contains tradeoffs and hard 
choices. I certainly don't agree with everything in it--particularly 
the nuclear weapons portion--but I support passage of the bill by the 
  Overall, the bill provides $43.8 billion for the Army Corps of 
Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy, and 
other agencies. This is an increase of $566 million over fiscal year 
2018 levels.
  I want to highlight the fact that we received an increase in our 
nondefense allocation of $474 million above 2018. This is a very 
generous allocation, and it has allowed us to do the following: to 
increase funding for reclamation programs that prevent and mitigate the 
effect of drought throughout 19 western States; to increase funding for 
critical Army Corps infrastructure; and to increase funding for the 
Office of Science, the largest single supporter of basic scientific 
research in the United States.
  We were also able to continue strong support for applied energy 
programs, particularly those that fund the development of carbon-free 
renewable technologies.
  Even with a more modest defense allocation, we fund efforts to 
address the environmental legacy of the Cold War in Tennessee, South 
Carolina, New Mexico, Washington, and other States.
  The bill also funds key priorities in nuclear nonproliferation, 
including securing radiological materials in hospitals and industrial 
facilities in this country and helping our international partners do 
the same.
  Before I turn to nuclear weapons, I wish to speak briefly about 
nuclear waste. There are over 80,000 metric tons of spent fuel stored 
at 77 reactor sites in 33 States. The vast majority of that is still 
stored in wet pools. This is important because every one of us has 
communities struggling to deal with their legacy nuclear waste. For the 
sixth year in a row, this bill includes a provision that would create a 
nuclear waste pilot program to allow for interim, consent-based storage 
of commercial spent nuclear fuel. But I want to say to all my 
colleagues in the Senate, we need your support to get this

[[Page S4019]]

done. We have a bipartisan path here in the Senate, but the House won't 
budge. They won't support any nuclear waste proposal that isn't Yucca 
Mountain. After all these years that have gone by, we can't let another 
year go by with no movement on nuclear waste. We need the Senate to be 
united, and we need your help to push the House to stop holding our 
bipartisan pilot program hostage to their impossible demands on Yucca 
  Finally, I want to speak briefly about nuclear weapons. 
Unfortunately, this bill includes the $65 million requested by the 
Trump administration to begin to modify the existing W76 warhead for 
the new low-yield weapon. If fully funded, this new nuclear capability 
will be completed in just 2 years.
  I strongly oppose funding for this new nuclear weapon. I firmly 
believe we already have enough nuclear weapons, and the military 
actually agrees. When testifying before Congress on March 20, 2018, 
Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said:

       I have everything I need today to deter Russia from doing 
     anything against the United States of America. We're fully 
     ready against any threat that exists today, without a doubt.

  That is the head of our nuclear forces saying he has everything he 
needs. So why waste money on new nuclear weapons the military doesn't 
  Not only do I share General Hyten's belief that we already have 
enough nuclear weapons in general, but I also believe we definitely 
don't need any low-yield nuclear weapons in particular.
  The Trump administration has argued that it needs this new nuclear 
weapon in order to have a proportionate response to a Russian first-use 
of a low-yield weapon. That line of argument makes clear that the 
administration is actually contemplating using nuclear weapons to fight 
limited nuclear wars. Just think about it. There is no such thing as a 
limited nuclear war. We are kidding ourselves if we think there is, and 
the military agrees.
  In February, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said:

       I don't think there is any such thing as a ``tactical 
     nuclear weapon.'' Any nuclear weapon used any time is a 
     strategic game-changer.

  I share Secretary Mattis's view. I don't believe there is any such 
thing as a limited nuclear war. Once a nuclear weapon is used by any 
country against any target, that is the end of us. Therefore, I do not 
see any reason to develop low-yield weapons.
  We have steadfastly funded the modernization of our nuclear stockpile 
and its supporting infrastructure over the past 8 years. Altogether, 
the Congressional Budget Office estimates that over the next 30 years, 
we will spend $1.7 trillion to upgrade and maintain nearly all of our 
nuclear forces. But the low-yield submarine launched ballistic missile 
warhead is separate and apart from the scope of that effort. Funding it 
simply does not make sense from either a budgetary or a strategic 
  Despite my opposition to funding for this nuclear warhead, I do 
recognize that, in other ways, this is a balanced bill. It builds on 
the investments we were able to make in the fiscal year 2018 
omnibus. It provides another $200 million for water projects in the 
West, and it continues investments in clean technologies that will help 
combat the effects of climate change. It is not perfect. It is not the 
bill I would have written if I were chairman, but on balance, I support 
this bill. I urge my colleagues to do so as well.

  Once again, it is a great pleasure for me to work with my chairman. 
We have worked together now for over 5 years on this committee and 
produced a bill every year. Both of us have made compromises, and I am 
very proud of the relationship. I thank the chairman.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cruz). The majority whip.

                        Family Separation Policy

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, yesterday I spoke briefly about the 
ongoing situation at the U.S.-Mexican border. It continues to be on my 
mind and on the minds of many others, including the Presiding Officer, 
who has offered some very constructive suggestions for how to address 
this situation.
  Just as under the Obama administration in 2014, we have seen a surge 
of unaccompanied children and families coming across our southern 
border during the spring and summer months. At the time, President 
Obama called it a humanitarian crisis, and it truly was and is.
  Between October 1 of last year and May 31 of this year, the number of 
families apprehended at the southwest border rose by 58 percent, 
compared to the same period a year earlier. Many of these individuals 
hail from Central America. Some have presented themselves lawfully at 
ports of entry, but others have tried to enter illegally in more 
remote, unpopulated areas.
  Let me explain. I think Secretary Nielsen tried to make this 
distinction, but I am not sure it quite penetrated. If someone shows up 
at a port of entry and asks for asylum, they have not violated our 
immigration laws, and their claim for asylum needs to be considered by 
the Border Patrol and by the immigration judge to whom their case is 
  If someone tries to enter the country between the ports of entry, 
they have violated a Federal law. Secretary Nielsen made the point that 
there is no reason for people legitimately claiming asylum to enter the 
country illegally when they can come through the ports of entry, much 
as Cubans have in times past during the existence of the so-called wet 
foot, dry foot policy that was later abrogated by President Obama.
  People with a credible fear of persecution in their home countries 
may present their claims through normal, well-defined processes. There 
is no reason for somebody to go to the far reaches of the frontier, the 
border region--the Wild Wild West, as I like to call it--and try to 
come in by illicit means. There is simply no reason to do that if you 
have a legitimate claim for asylum.
  Nonetheless, many people opt to go that route anyway. For them, the 
Trump administration has made a decision to enforce our laws on the 
books by prosecuting adults in criminal court when they are apprehended 
crossing our borders illegally. Those are laws passed by Congress, 
signed by the President of the United States, and the Trump 
administration has made the logical decision that it is their 
responsibility to enforce laws that are on the books.
  The relevant laws--the ones that make it illegal to cross the border 
in the first place, a misdemeanor, and it often makes subsequent 
crossings much more serious--have been on the books for many decades, 
but they were not always enforced by previous administrations when 
families were involved. Now, because of a number of Federal court 
decisions, consent decrees, and statutes, an adult must be separated 
from a child as the legal process plays its way out.
  The reason I say that is we don't want children going to jail with an 
adult who is being processed for illegally entering the United States. 
Children are, under current practice, placed in a separate, safe 
setting. They are not left unattended and fending for themselves 
against violent criminals who are being detained by regular ICE or 
Bureau of Prisons facilities.
  The relevant legal decisions, settlements, and statutes are important 
to acknowledge because, as the New York Times stated this past weekend, 
``Technically, there is no Trump administration policy stating that 
illegal border crossers must be separated from their children.''
  Instead, there are many variables that are hard to disentangle from 
one another: the current administration's stepped-up enforcement 
directives, the so-called Flores agreement, which requires that 
children be held for no longer than 20 days, a Ninth Circuit opinion 
that applies Flores to family units, protracted timelines for asylum 
claims, limited detention facilities, and a division of responsibility 
among ICE, Health and Human Services, and other agencies.
  You can see how this quickly becomes enormously complex because of 
the overlay of Federal law, consent decrees, court judgments, and other 
divided responsibilities among Federal agencies.
  Underlying this complex array of factors is something pretty 
uncontroversial, though. I think every Member of this Chamber will 
agree with the Trump administration that we should never be placing 
children in

[[Page S4020]]

prisons or jails with hardened criminals when their parents are being 
  By the same token, I and many others certainly don't want family 
members to be separated from one another as a consequence of Department 
of Homeland Security and administration officials enforcing the laws 
they are sworn to uphold.
  What we are literally being told is that there is a false choice 
here. You can either enforce the law or unify family members. We are 
hearing from many of our Democratic colleagues that the administration 
ought to simply quit enforcing the law, but we all have taken an oath 
to uphold and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States. 
Whether you are a legislator, the President of the United States, the 
Secretary of Homeland Security, the head of Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement, we have all taken that same oath.
  I know U.S. Customs and Border Protection folks, like Manny Padilla 
and David Higgerson and all the men and women who work under them in 
the Rio Grande Valley, are trying to do what is required of them by 
their job; that is, to enforce the law. That is a good thing. We 
appreciate all they do.
  The answer to this current situation is a solution that allows us to 
both enforce the law and keep families together. They don't have to be 
mutually exclusive. We have to keep family members together and prevent 
unnecessary hardship, stress, and outrage. It is not our purpose to 
cause these children, in particular, the children who have been brought 
across our border illegally by their parents--we are not trying take it 
out on them or punish them. We have heard about the consequences when 
family members are separated. Mental health problems may, for example, 
follow children all the way to adulthood. We need to be mindful of that 
risk and work to ensure the children's well-being.

  None other than former First Lady Laura Bush wrote this last weekend 
that she believes we can find a better answer to this current crisis, 
and I agree with her. In fact, we are off to a pretty good start. Some 
of my colleagues and I, including the Presiding Officer's staff, are 
working together to try to come up with a way to keep families unified 
when they are detained at the border.
  I think our goals should be pretty clear and simple: Ensure that 
families stay together at ICE facilities while their criminal or civil 
proceedings are ongoing; clarify that the so-called Flores settlement 
does not apply to children who have crossed the border illegally with 
their parents; and promote the expedited consideration of detained 
families by immigration judges so that they are not left in limbo for 
any longer than is absolutely necessary.
  I believe these are the building blocks for a consensus approach, one 
that every Member--Republican and Democrat alike--could rally behind. 
Throughout the course of our discussions, though, one point has become 
increasingly clear. All of us believe that families crossing the border 
should be kept together. Where we differ is whether we believe we 
should also enforce our immigration laws.
  As I said, it need not be an either-or proposition. We can keep 
families unified and at the same time remain resolute in enforcing our 
immigration laws. In fact, Congress wrote them, and it is within our 
prerogative to change them if we wish, but as long as they are on the 
books, I believe everyone from the President of the United States on 
down has a responsibility to enforce laws on the books.
  The Trump administration has said that it will not tolerate any 
violations of those laws or any others and that all offenders will 
remain on the table for prosecution. There is no reason for anybody to 
oppose what I have laid out. Either we are a nation of laws, with a 
government that enforces them, or we are a nation with no laws and open 
  I urge all of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to keep 
talking and keep an open mind. I believe that on a very contentious 
subject, like immigration, we could literally come together and resolve 
this situation swiftly and ensure that these children are kept with 
their families and the law is enforced, according to what the laws are 
on the books.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, as we await a 12:15 p.m. vote, I want to 
urge my colleagues to support the first amendment that we will be 
voting on today--the Gardner-Coons sense-of-the-Senate resolution, a 
resolution that focuses on the importance of federally sponsored 
research for the advancement of scientific innovation.
  There are many great things to like about the program that is funded 
in this Energy and Water appropriations bill that is about to be before 
us, especially the work funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Our 
bipartisan resolution reinforces that message by acknowledging that the 
United States has long been a leader in innovation, in large part 
because of a critical role played by Federal funding for both basic and 
applied research.
  For decades, we have made investments that have led to incredible 
breakthroughs instrumental to our current prosperity, economy, and 
jobs. The Department of Energy National Labs--the 17 labs across 11 
States--have been at the forefront through that process since their 
founding. It is the creative, generative, innovative partnership among 
these federally funded national labs, our network of universities and 
colleges that conduct federally funded and privately funded research, 
and the entrepreneurs and companies that take, through applied 
research, their innovations and inventions to the marketplace that in 
combination have created one of the most innovative, most competitive 
economies in global history.
  I am grateful for the leadership of Senators Alexander and Feinstein, 
the chair and ranking member of the Energy and Water Subcommittee of 
Appropriations, for having brought forward this balanced and thoughtful 
bill. I will remind my colleagues that for several years now, budgets 
presented by the executive branch have proposed deep and harmful cuts 
to the foundational, federally funded scientific research upon which 
the success of our innovation economy rests. I am thrilled that once 
again this year, on a bipartisan basis, we are rejecting those cuts 
and, instead, investing significantly more in Federal scientific 
  I am grateful for the opportunity to partner with my colleague, the 
Senator from Colorado, in moving the sense of the Senate. I am hopeful 
that it begins to clarify on a bipartisan basis that this Chamber is 
committed to innovation, science, competitiveness, and research. With 
that, I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.

                       Pancreatic Cancer Research

  Mr. President, while we are waiting for floor action, I will briefly 
share with my colleagues that my day began with my speaking to the 
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which is made up of more than 500 
Americans who have come from all 50 States and who are all across 
Capitol Hill right now, meeting with those in offices of the House and 
the Senate. They are folks who have lost loved ones--family members, 
relatives, neighbors--to one of the deadliest cancers, pancreatic 
cancer. They are here to urge that we invest more in medical research. 
This is a cancer that has affected families all over our country, but 
without greater investment in research, we cannot bend the trajectory 
of this dread disease.
  It was just last February that I lost my own father to pancreatic 
cancer, and this year was my first Father's Day without him. I am 
grateful for the opportunity to have joined this morning with these 
Americans from every State. I join with them in urging my colleagues to 
consider investing more this year in research to end this scourge of 
pancreatic cancer.
  I thank the Presiding Officer.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.
  Mr. KENNEDY. 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. SCHATZ. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

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