(Senate - June 19, 2018)

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[Pages S4021-S4032]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I think we are going to have a couple of 
votes shortly on amendments. Senator Alexander and I will offer one to 
the underlying bill. I think Senator Coons will offer another one along 
with, I believe, Senator Rounds.

                Amendment No. 2920 to Amendment No. 2910

  As Members are returning from their caucus lunches, I will kick it 
off and lay the groundwork for the amendment Senator Alexander and I 
will be offering. I believe we have Senate amendment No. 2920 at the 
desk on behalf of Senator Alexander and myself.
  I ask unanimous consent that amendment No. 2920 be called up and made 
the pending business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Portman). Without objection, it is so 
  The clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Delaware [Mr. Carper] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 2920 to amendment No. 2910.

  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading 
of the amendment be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To direct the Secretary of the Army to submit a report on the 
status of returning to non-Federal project sponsors excess non-Federal 

       On page 14, between lines 18 and 19, insert the following:
       Sec. 106.  Not later than 120 days after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Army shall submit 
     to the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the 
     Senate, the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate, the 
     Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House 
     of Representatives, and the Committee on Appropriations of 
     the House of Representatives a report that--
       (1) includes a list of all cost-shared Corps projects that, 
     as of the date of enactment of this Act--
       (A) are physically and fiscally complete; and
       (B) for which excess non-Federal funds have not been 
     returned to the non-Federal project sponsor; and
       (2) with respect to each project listed under paragraph 
     (1), describes the status of--
       (A) returning the excess funds to the non-Federal project 
     sponsor; and
       (B) providing the non-Federal project sponsor a final 
     accounting of the project.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, the amendment Senator Alexander and I are 
offering is a bipartisan effort, as you can tell. It is the result of 
discussions between Senator Alexander's Appropriations Committee staff 
and the staff who works for us on the Environment and Public Works 
  The amendment would require the Corps to report to Congress on the 
status of Corps project expenses. The amendment would allow project 
sponsors to receive a final cost accounting of project dollars so that 
they understand how those dollars are spent and know whether there are 
excess unspent funds and whether those funds are being returned to 
State and local government or to the Federal Government.
  As many of our colleagues know, the Senate is getting ready to 
address soon--probably, if not this month, then next month--the water 
resources development legislation that Senator Barrasso, our chairman 
on Environment and Public Works, and I and other colleagues have worked 
on. It was reported unanimously out of the Environment and Public Works 
Committee. That bill, which is called America's Water Infrastructure 
Act of 2018, makes investments in updating and expanding water 
infrastructure systems throughout the country. Along with reauthorizing 
the ongoing work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, our legislation 
addresses a wide variety of priorities. Again, it was reported 
unanimously out of our committee about a month or so ago, 21 to 0.
  In the drafting of this legislation, several concerns were raised 
about how the Corps selects and prioritizes projects for construction, 
as well as what happens to excess local cost share dollars at the end 
of a project. For example, in my home State of Delaware, our State 
agency that sponsors the beach renourishment and other shoreline 
protection projects has been asking the Corps for a detailed balance 
sheet for years to understand how funds are being allocated on various 
projects and how local tax dollars are being spent. Unfortunately, that 
material has never been provided despite repeated requests.
  Delaware is not alone in this. The Senator from Kansas, Mr. Moran, 
has brought to my attention an issue of malfunctioning radial arm 
gates--also called Tainter gates--on a reservoir in his home State of 
Kansas. The local irrigation district was billed for the repairs of the 
gates, which was added as an additional cost to their annual share of 
the operations and maintenance of that project.
  Although the irrigation district has been paying on this bill, they 
never knew how much it actually cost to repair the gates. It took my 
staff and Senator Barrasso's staff to find out that the total cost of 
repairs was $31 million. This means, according to the Corps, that the 
remaining local cost share is about $5 million. However, because there 
is not a detailed accounting, the question has been raised about 
whether the Corps billed the irrigation district correctly. If the 
Corps had accounted for this program correctly, the cost share should 
have been about $1 million. That difference of $4 million may not sound 
like a lot to us here in the Senate or in the Federal Government, but 
$4 million to a local rural irrigation district is a lot of money.
  Sadly, as I said before, this data has not been provided to many cost 
share partners, as is the law, and we need to get to the bottom of why 
and where it is happening.
  Senator Alexander and I believe that this report that is being 
requested sets the stage for more transparency and better budgeting at 
the Corps, which is also a theme in the America's Water Infrastructure 
Act that we will be addressing, I hope, next month.
  Let me conclude by once more thanking Chairman Alexander and his 
staff for working with my staff and me and also with Senator Barrasso 
on the water resources development legislation and on this amendment. 
It truly is a bipartisan amendment and a good one to start off the 
discussion on the underlying bill. We are pleased to be a part of this, 
and we look forward to passing this important piece of legislation that 
is critical to funding a central piece of our Nation's economic 
  I encourage support for my amendment.
  I yield the floor to Senator Alexander and look forward to working 
with him as we go forward.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I want to thank the Senator from 
Delaware for his customary leadership. He has been wise to come up with 
this idea.
  In some cases, the Corps of Engineers has completed projects under 
budget. The Corps had excess non-Federal funds paid by the project's 
  His amendment, which I am happy to cosponsor, requires the Corps to 
provide a list of all the projects that have been completed and have 
excess non-Federal funds that have not been returned to the project 
sponsor put on that list. It also requires the Corps to provide a final 
accounting for each project and the status of the Corps' plan to return 
the excess non-Federal funds. It does not increase Federal spending. It 
is intended to ensure that the Corps returns excess non-Federal funds 
to project sponsors in a timely manner.
  Let me thank the Republican and Democratic staffs for working with us 
through the morning in the customary smooth way to get an 
appropriations bill on the floor.
  This is the first vote on the appropriations bills this week. We will 
vote on the Coons-Gardner amendment first and then on the Carper-
Alexander amendment second. We have several other amendments waiting 
for consideration. Senators Thune and Durbin

[[Page S4022]]

have one that should be filed shortly; Senators Hatch and Udall, the 
same. We hope to have more votes later this afternoon, hopefully in the 
area of 5 o'clock. That will be up to the majority leader and the 
Democratic leader, but we will let Senators know about that.
  Senators Boozman, Daines, and I, and our Democratic colleagues hope 
that Senators and their staff will file today any amendments they wish 
to have included in these three appropriations bills.

                Amendment No. 2914 to Amendment No. 2910

  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to call up amendment No. 2914 
and ask that it be reported by number.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report the amendment by number.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

  (Purpose: To express the sense of the Senate regarding the need for 
              funding for innovative scientific research)

       At the end of title III of division A, add the following:


       (a) Findings.--Congress finds that--
       (1) the United States leads the world in innovation through 
     scientific research;
       (2) many technologies making major contributions to the 
     United States economy were created through Federal support 
     for scientific research, including nuclear power, the laser, 
     the personal computer, the internet, and Global Positioning 
     Systems; and
       (3) in recognition of the importance of innovation through 
     scientific research and development, Congress increased 
     appropriations for Department of Energy research and 
     development programs for fiscal year 2016 and each fiscal 
     year thereafter.
       (b) Sense of the Senate.--It is the sense of the Senate 
       (1) to maintain the position of the United States as a 
     world leader in innovation, Congress and the Secretary of 
     Energy should continue to support innovative science research 
     and development at National Laboratories and institutions of 
     higher education, along with private partners and nonprofit 
     research organizations, through sustained robust and reliable 
     funding in specific research areas, including--
       (A) exascale computing and supercomputing;
       (B) quantum and photonic information sciences;
       (C) biological and environmental research;
       (D) energy; and
       (E) materials and manufacturing; and
       (2) Congress should continue to increase scientific 
     research and development funding--
       (A) to ensure future technological advances continue to 
     spur innovation;
       (B) to help companies create good paying jobs; and
       (C) to strengthen national security.

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that there be 
10 minutes of debate and that following the use or yielding back of 
that time, the Senate vote in relation to the Gardner amendment and the 
Carper amendment and that there be no second-degree amendments in order 
to the amendments prior to the votes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, earlier when I spoke about the amendment 
with Senator Coons as the lead Democrat, I mentioned the wrong 
cosponsor. I would correct myself to say it is not Senator Rounds, who 
does great legislation, but in this case, it is Senator Gardner.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, Senator Coons has already spoken.
  I yield back all time on this side.
  Mr. CARPER. I yield back our time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question occurs on agreeing to amendment 
No. 2914.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Arizona (Mr. McCain).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Illinois (Ms. 
Duckworth), the Senator from Florida (Mr. Nelson), and the Senator from 
New Hampshire (Mrs. Shaheen) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 93, nays 3, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 130 Leg.]


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen



                             NOT VOTING--4

  The amendment (No. 2914) was agreed to.

                       Vote on Amendment No. 2920

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question now occurs on agreeing to Carper 
amendment No. 2920.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Arizona (Mr. McCain).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Illinois (Ms. 
Duckworth), the Senator from Florida (Mr. Nelson), and the Senator from 
New Hampshire (Mrs. Shaheen) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hoeven). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 96, nays 0, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 131 Leg.]


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen

                             NOT VOTING--4

  The amendment (No. 2920) was agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. DAINES. Mr. President, the Legislative Branch bill, as advanced 
from the Committee on Appropriations, provides $4.79 billion for 
Congress and its support agencies. That is $90 million above the fiscal 
year 2018 enacted level of $4.7 billion.
  This bill provides just over $1 billion for Senate-only items, which 
is an increase of $5 million from last year; $1.4 billion is included 
for House only items, and $2.3 billion is provided for joint Senate and 
House items, which in total meets the $4.79 billion legislative branch 
allocation for fiscal year 2019.
  We have made thoughtful decisions about how to prioritize investments 
for this fiscal year. Resources are allocated in a responsible way to 
maintain existing services and allow for critical investments in 
numerous needed areas.

[[Page S4023]]

For example, this bill will strengthen security on the Capitol campus 
and ensure that the men and women who protect our visitors, our staff, 
and Members have the support and resources they need to do their jobs. 
And $453 million is included for the Capitol Police, which is a $26.5 
million increase from last year.
  In fact, just 1 year ago last Thursday, we witnessed tragedy strike 
on a baseball field in Alexandria, where the lives of our colleagues 
and their family and friends were put in imminent danger. Last week's 
Congressional Baseball Game was a reminder of the bravery demonstrated 
by my friend, Representative Steve Scalise, our Capitol Police 
officers, and all those tragically affected that day. The unfortunate 
reality remains that the Capitol Complex and its occupants face an 
evolving and growing threat environment, and this bill will help 
address these needs.
  This bill also addresses cyber security threats by providing funding 
for the Sergeant at Arms Senate network cyber security initiatives. 
Further, this bill demands a rigorous review before any 
telecommunications equipment from companies linked to Russia, China, 
Iran, or North Korea can be acquired by legislative branch agencies.
  This bill also promotes transparency for the American people by 
including a provision called e-file, which streamlines the process for 
Senate campaign filings, requiring Senate candidates to follow the same 
standard of transparency required by all other Federal candidates. This 
provision enhances government transparency, reduces unnecessary 
bureaucratic redtape, and would save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer 
dollars by having candidates--Senate candidates--file directly with the 
Federal Election Commission, instead of the current paper-based 
  This bill provides $933 million for the Senate, which is $13 million 
above last year. I want to specifically note that $5 million is 
designated for the sole purpose of voluntary compensation of Senate 
interns by Senate offices. This additional funding will help ensure 
that the broadest possible pool of intern candidates have the 
opportunity to serve. Washington, DC, is a very expensive place, and it 
is good to see this provision in the bill.
  There is also $1 million provided to support ongoing Congressional 
Accountability Act reform efforts to increase compliance and support 
training of legislative branch offices and agencies on harassment and 
discrimination in the workplace.
  These are just a few of the many highlights of the bill. I want to 
thank my ranking member, Senator Murphy, for working with me to craft 
this bipartisan legislation. I also appreciate the support of the 
Committee on Appropriations in favorably reporting the Legislative 
Branch appropriations bill unanimously for consideration by the full 
U.S. Senate.
  I respect Chairman Shelby and Vice Chairman Leahy for their efforts 
to work in a bipartisan manner to bring bills to the Senate floor and 
end this path of yet another year-end omnibus and more CRS. It was good 
to see a couple of amendment votes just before I started speaking. That 
is a healthy sign of stronger bipartisanship and getting the Senate 
back to regular order--executing, blocking, and tackling, as we should, 
for the American people.
  It has been almost a decade--listen to this--it has been almost a 
decade since a Legislative Branch appropriations bill has received 
consideration on the floor outside of a large year-end spending bill. 
It is important for us as a body to return to regular order on 
appropriations bills and fund the government in a timely and more 
transparent manner.
  I urge my colleagues to support the adoption of the package of 
appropriations bills before the U.S. Senate. I look forward to working 
with Senators on any amendments they may have to the legislative branch 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I am here to join Senator Daines in 
recommending the Legislative appropriations bill to our colleagues. I 
note his history lesson--10 years since we passed a Legislative Branch 
appropriations bill on the floor of the Senate. During none of those 10 
years was Senator Daines chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on 
the Legislative Branch. Things are changing here, and it has been a 
real pleasure and honor to work with Senator Daines on this bill, which 
we bring to the floor in a bipartisan manner.
  Let me be brief in not trying to cover the ground that Senator Daines 
has already covered, but I agree; I think this is a good bill, one that 
we can all support.
  Let me add a few pieces to some of the highlights my colleague laid 
out for you. The first of those is the fact that this bill commits us 
to finally restoring GAO staffing to its 2011 levels. This is really 
important because every dollar we appropriate to GAO gets about a $128 
taxpayer return because of the efficiencies they recommend that then 
get adopted. GAO lost about 343 staff from 2002 to 2003 during the 
sequester. We are putting them back to the place where they can do 
important work for us.
  Second, let me reiterate the important investments we are making in 
the Capitol Police. The threats that we face and our staff face and 
visitors face aren't imaginary. Again, it was a year ago last week when 
a gunman came after our colleagues in the House and the Senate at a 
baseball practice off campus. It is important that this bill recognizes 
the threats we face are not just on campus but are in other places 
around the Capitol and has some resources to make sure that both the 
Capitol Police and the Senate Sergeant at Arms are making sure that 
Members and staff are protected not only on campus but also at events 
off campus that may come with certain serious risks.
  In this bill, CRS is put on a path to restore its 13-percent staff 
loss. Again, over the course of sequester, a lot of the agencies that 
serve us took some pretty serious hits. They don't make that up in this 
bill, but they are set on a path where they can get back to the kind of 
footing we are putting GAO on in this legislation. A long-needed 
modernization of the copyright office is kicked off in this 
legislation. Again, that is a long-term plan, but we are kicking it 
off. It is very, very much overdue.
  We are also beginning another process that I think will be really 
important to the campus. We are beginning the process of exploring 
options to expand the size of the Senate childcare center. Pretty much 
every large employer in the country offers some level of childcare 
services to employees. The Senate barely does that. We have 6,200 
employees and just 68 childcare slots. There are actually only nine 
infant slots in the Senate. Over the course of the last few years, the 
House has tripled the size of its childcare center. We are going to 
begin taking a look at what the options might be to expand our capacity 
as well.
  Let me end by highlighting, again, this small fund in the bill that 
will allow Senators to begin paying interns. It is important to note 
that this is totally optional, so any Senator who wants to use this 
fund can, only for the purpose of paying interns. If they don't use it, 
it goes right back to the Treasury.
  Each of us has our own unique journey as to how we got to be a U.S. 
Senator; mine started as a Senate intern. I was an intern for Senator 
Chris Dodd, but there is no way I could have taken advantage of that 
opportunity had my family not had the resources to be able to send me 
to Washington for a summer, had I not had the family resources to be 
able to pay rent for a summer.
  The fact is, that experience is foreclosed to far too many American 
children because many Senate offices--not all but many Senate offices--
do not pay their interns. This would at least give the option for 
Senate offices to do the same.
  Let me again thank Senator Daines--we worked really well together on 
this bill--and Chairman Shelby and Vice Chairman Leahy. It is good that 
we are bringing back regular order, at least for now, on the 
appropriations process.
  My view is that the default position on these bills should be to 
allow amendments to come to the floor and to have a vote; that we 
shouldn't have to twist so many arms in order to get votes on 
amendments; that we shouldn't be afraid of putting our vote down on any 
particular amendment, whether it be an easy one or a tough

[[Page S4024]]

one. We are beginning to start exercising those muscles on this 
  I thank Chairman Daines, Chairman Shelby, and Vice Chairman Leahy for 
their work in allowing us to bring this product to the floor.
  I yield back.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.

                  National Defense Authorization Bill

  Mr. KAINE. Mr. President, I rise to talk about the accomplishments 
the Senate was able to achieve yesterday with the passage of the 
National Defense Authorization Act. In doing that, I want to highlight 
a couple of items as a member of the Armed Services Committee that I 
worked on that I am very proud of but that I think also demonstrate the 
our ability to work in a bipartisan fashion because the three items I 
will mention were heavily bipartisan. They also give some illustration 
of the breadth of the defense authorization act--this act which we pass 
every year that is hundreds of billions of dollars to support the 
American military and contains so many different kinds of provisions to 
try to help defend the Nation and protect those who serve it.
  What I would love to do, after I say a word about our chair, Senator 
McCain, is talk about military families, talk about shipbuilding, and 
talk about smart power.
  Let me first just give a shout-out to Senator McCain. He was sorely 
missed as our chairman during the month of May when we were in crunch 
time in the committee around this bill. It was bittersweet to see its 
passage yesterday without having him in the Chamber to lead the 
discussion and be here at passage. Yet I give great credit to Senator 
Inhofe, who stepped into the chair's shoes for purposes of the markup 
and the floor action; to Senator Reed, the ranking member on the 
committee; and to Senator McCain's staff, who peppered us with advice 
from the boss when calling in from Arizona during the whole process. We 
missed him, but he was definitely there, and we were encouraged to do 
our best work as we thought about him during the process.

  With regard to military families, when I was elected to the Senate in 
2013, we had a scandal in the country. I viewed it as a scandal. The 
unemployment rate for veterans was dramatically higher than the 
national average, especially for Iraq- and Afghan-era war veterans who 
were enlisted. They would serve the country and be deployed, often 
repeatedly. They would come back home and not be able to find jobs.
  I worked together with colleagues on the Armed Services Committee and 
with many great employers in the private and public sectors and am 
proud to tell you that from 2013 to today, the veterans' unemployment 
rate has gone down dramatically. It is now less than the national 
average. When we focused on it, we tackled the problem, and we made 
  Yet, in recent years, as I have been traveling around Virginia, a new 
problem has emerged, and that is the unemployment rate for military 
spouses. It is even hard to know the number. Do you know why? It is 
that when we do the monthly studies, the Department of Labor asks a 
person: Are you a veteran? Yet it doesn't ask if one is a military 
spouse. So, to get at the number, when you hear story after story after 
story, you have to take some fairly broad surveys. Blue Star families 
will take these surveys every year.
  What we find is, the unemployment rate for military spouses is 
anywhere from three to five times the national average. One can 
immediately grasp why--moving to a new place in the middle of the year, 
having to get adjusted, maybe having to find a place for school. If you 
are moving and you have a job that has some kind of a license or 
credential--it could be as a cosmetologist, as a real estate agent, as 
an attorney, as a teacher--sometimes the credential doesn't 
automatically transfer. Sometimes it will only transfer if you pay a 
big fee, money which you may not have.
  As I have traveled around Virginia--a military State--and as I have 
talked to my own son, who is in the Marine Corps and who has a wife who 
is a military spouse, and have heard about their challenges, I have 
suddenly realized we need to do something about unemployment among 
military spouses. It is fair for these spouses who sacrifice--and they 
have so much to offer--but it is also the case that if you do not try 
to help support military families, then members of the military will 
leave. Our brass will always tell us it is the individual's decision to 
join, but it is usually the family's decision to stay. Unless we can 
support military spouses, people who might want to make careers out of 
the military service leave prematurely. So we are destined to and 
really need to do this.
  This year, I introduced two bills--the Military Spouse Employment Act 
and the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act--after hearing 
from spouses in Virginia and elsewhere. I acknowledge Senators Perdue, 
Murray, Boozman, Tester, Rounds, Gillibrand, Cardin, and Warren--a very 
bipartisan group of Senators who worked with me on these two bills. I 
am proud to say the overwhelming number of provisions of both of these 
bills is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed 
last night. After we introduced the bills in the Senate, companion 
bills were introduced in the House that made it into the House's 
version as well. As we conference, we ought to be able to take a big 
step forward for military spouses.
  The bills do a number of things that are all responsive to the 
concerns raised by military spouses.
  They make it easier to get more childcare workers on or near bases so 
people can find childcare if they work.
  They make it easier for Federal agencies to hire military spouses. 
Sometimes the best jobs are on or around military bases or are at other 
Federal agencies. The preferential or expedited hiring preferences for 
military spouses is part of this.
  We allow military spouses to take advantage of something called the 
career advancement account, which would enable a military spouse to 
take a course. What if you are done with your coursework and what you 
really need are the dollars to get a license or to transfer your 
credential? The career advancement account should be able to be used 
for that.
  The bill allows military spouses to go to transition classes with 
their servicemember spouses before they transition out. The transition 
from Active to veteran status is a family thing, and spouses have every 
need to participate in transition planning as the servicemembers do.
  Finally, to help in that transition process, the bill will allow 
military spouses to take advantage of counseling and career coaching 
for up to a year after the servicemembers leave Active-Duty service.
  Again, this is bipartisan--supported in both Houses by Members of 
both parties--and it will be part of the NDAA. God willing, we will 
conference, and it will go to the President's desk. My goal is that we 
start to make the same progress in bringing down the unemployment rate 
for military spouses as we were able to do with respect to veterans.
  The second is shipbuilding. Virginia is a shipbuilding State. If 
anybody ever tells me American manufacturing is dead, I say: Come with 
me to the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Newport News, VA, and I will 
show you American workers manufacturing the most complicated items on 
planet Earth--nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines.
  The shipbuilding budget deal that is in the works now is strong. Last 
year, in the NDAA, we made a commitment to go from a 270-ship Navy to 
355 ships. This would be a multiple-decades-long commitment. We did 
that last year. This year, together with the budget deal, we are making 
that strong budgetary investment in growing our shipbuilding capacity. 
We owe it to our shipbuilders, and we owe it to our military to stay on 
this path and give them some certainty so we can have these important 
assets with which to protect the Nation.
  Two Fridays ago, I held a symposium at Hampton Roads--the future of a 
355-ship Navy--that focused on workforce needs. Some of the 
shipbuilders that will build these ships are in prekindergarten right 
now. We need to have an education system that teaches them about the 
opportunities that will position them for success in technical fields 
and that encourages and incentivizes them to do it.
  The shipbuilding and ship repair provisions of the NDAA are the best 
in any of the years I have been on the Armed

[[Page S4025]]

Services Committee in the Senate, and that is good news for the defense 
of the Nation and good news for shipbuilding communities, like Hampton 
Roads or Bath, ME, or Portsmouth or the gulf or Puget Sound or Hawaii. 
These shipbuilding and ship repair communities will benefit.
  Finally, there is smart power. Sometimes the best power is not 
military power. Sometimes the best power is diplomacy or the USAID, the 
Agency for International Development. We have to use the right tool to 
accomplish the right objective. In both of the last two NDAAs, I 
offered amendments that allowed the Department of Defense to transfer 
its resources--if there is a checkoff by the Secretary of Defense--to 
other Federal agencies if they will do a better job with the task at 
hand. Let me give you an example.
  Our military has done a great job in the battle against ISIS, in 
beating ISIS on the battlefield. Yet, once you have beaten ISIS on the 
battlefield, how do you stop it from coming back? How do you hold onto 
territory and not allow the reemergence of terrorist organizations? One 
way is by developing local economies and strengthening local 
institutions so the urge or the tendency for terrorist groups to move 
into a power vacuum is dampened. Sometimes the military is good at 
that, but the military would acknowledge that sometimes the best way to 
build institutions and stabilize communities is to grow their 
economies--that is what the U.S. Agency for International Development 
does--or to build civilian institutions. The State Department does 
  In this year's NDAA, as in last year's, in a pile of projects so we 
can assess how it works, we have given the Department of Defense the 
ability to provide support to these other agencies as they try to 
stabilize regions once conflict has been reduced. This is going to be 
of enormous importance for Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan. The nice 
thing about this is there was bipartisan support, and it was requested 
by the Department of Defense. You know your DOD leaders are on the ball 
when they are saying: Give us more ability to allow the State 
Department and USAID to do the things they are better at than we are.
  Again, these are just three examples, and I could list 1,000 
provisions that are in the National Defense Authorization Act that are 
novel and creative and that are completely bipartisan. At a time when 
so many things seem partisan, it is nice to know that when it comes to 
the defense of the Nation, Democrats and Republicans can work together 
after having been inspired by the hectoring phone calls from Senator 
McCain and his staff to produce something that is really positive for 
the country. I celebrate its passage in the Senate last night and look 
forward to working with my colleagues when the matter comes back to us 
following the conference with the House.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. 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.

                           World Refugee Day

  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, tomorrow, June 20, is World Refugee Day. 
The United Nations General Assembly in 2000 declared June 20 to be 
World Refugee Day so we can have public awareness and support for 
refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced people.
  The numbers are now out as to the number of displaced people in the 
year 2017, and that number is kind of shocking. It is record-setting 
for recent times--65.6 million people are displaced from their homes 
today. Over 22 million are refugees, over 40 million are displaced in 
their own country--internally displaced individuals, and almost 3 
million are asylum seekers. These numbers rival the number of displaced 
people we saw after World War II.
  Fifty-five percent of the refugees come from three countries: Syria, 
Afghanistan, and South Sudan. We have seen recent additions to the 
number of displaced people. In Burma, the Rohingya Muslims were forced 
out of their homes, and 650,000 had to flee. In the Central African 
Republic, we saw, again by reason of conflict, a lot of people being 
displaced. In our own hemisphere in Venezuela, there are 1.5 million 
people displaced from that conflict, and of course we all are familiar 
with the problems in Central America and El Salvador, Guatemala, and 
Honduras--countries which have been plagued by violence, from which a 
lot of families have tried to escape in order to save their children.
  In Syria, there are 12 million displaced people. That is over half 
the population of Syria as a result of the conflict and the ISIS 
campaign. Over half the people in that country are displaced. When we 
talk about the impact it has on other countries when individuals seek 
to leave and become refugees--in Lebanon, for example, 1 million 
Syrians have fled to Lebanon. In Jordan, 660,000 Syrians have fled to 
Jordan. These countries have been prepared to take in these refugees. 
The impact, of course, is immediate to the individuals who are 
displaced. There is also an impact on the region, and as far away as we 
have seen the distances people will go in order to seek safety, there 
has been a major impact on the Continent of Europe.
  I will be introducing a resolution for the U.S. Senate to go on 
record recognizing World Refugee Day. It will reaffirm the U.S. 
Government commitment to uphold international leadership, our strong 
support for humanitarian assistance, particularly in helping host 
countries' living conditions. I just saw the press accounts of the 
Rohingya population living in tent cities during the monsoon season who 
are at great risk. We need to join the international community that is 
working to help these vulnerable people.
  The resolution speaks to us partnering with our international 
communities. This is an international effort, with U.S. leadership. We 
are reaffirming our longstanding tradition of resettling refugees in 
the United States.
  I have worked on this issue since I have been in Congress, and it has 
always been bipartisan. I have had strong partners on both the 
Democratic and Republican side fighting for America to maintain its 
leadership against the vulnerable people in the world who have been 
displaced and the refugee population and the asylum seekers.
  I remember vividly working with Senator McCain on humanitarian aid 
and holding those who prey on these vulnerable people who are 
displaced, the perpetrators, accountable for their human rights 
violations. There have been many other examples of us working together. 
We should be welcoming the persecuted and vulnerable refugees in the 
United States, recognizing that America's strength is in our diversity, 
the people who braved coming to this country who built this great 
country, the United States of America.
  So I need to comment that President Trump's policies stand in sharp 
contrast to what America's role must be in regard to promoting the 
welfare of displaced people as we tomorrow celebrate World Refugee Day. 
I know the subject that is getting the most debate right now--and 
rightly so, and I am going to talk about it--is the removal of children 
from their parents at our border, which, to me, is an abomination. I am 
going to talk about that, but that is not the only problematic part of 
President Trump's refugee policies.
  This administration has reduced dramatically the refugee caps for 
those permitted to resettle in the United States. We believe the number 
is as high as an 83 percent reduction in America's willingness to 
accept refugees. Here we are with global leadership asking countries to 
keep their borders open for those who are at risk to enter their 
country, and we are closing our borders. That is not what the world 
leader does in that regard.
  We have seen policies that discriminate against who can come to this 
country. There is no question the Trump administration tried to impose 
a Muslim ban, a religious test, as to who could come to this country. 
We heard the President's comments about certain countries, which raised 
questions about whether the demographics of that country affect the 
ability of people being able to come to America. We have seen this 
administration propose, time and time again, cuts in humanitarian aid 
to vulnerable, displaced people in order to fund a wall on our southern 
  Then there are the Dreamers, the DACA registrants. Through Executive

[[Page S4026]]

order, President Trump created a problem that didn't exist for the 
Dreamers who were given status to be able to work and go to school 
under an Executive order by President Obama. President Trump changed 
that by Executive order. It wasn't Congress. Congress didn't create the 
problem, the President did.
  Then we have those who are legally here--legally here under temporary 
status, TPS--from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and other countries. 
They have been here a long time because the conditions in their country 
have not changed. It is still not safe for them to go back to their 
country. They are legally in the United States, and against the 
recommendations of our own missions in these countries, the Trump 
administration decided to put an ending date for their legal status in 
the United States, meaning, even though they have been here for 15 
years, they are going to have to leave America. That is done by 
Executive action by President Trump, not by Congress. We didn't create 
this problem--whether it is the Dreamers or TPS, the President could 
change that today with the stroke of a pen.
  Then we have asylum seekers. Asylum seekers are the most persecuted. 
Their own lives are at risk if they have to go back to their host 
countries. What did Attorney General Sessions do? He removed victims of 
domestic abuse and gang violence from those who can seek asylum in the 
United States. They did that by Executive action, not Congress. We 
didn't create this problem. The Trump administration created the 
problem, and they could change it with the stroke of a pen.
  Yes, there are a lot of issues where I believe President Trump's 
policies are not what America is about, whether it is support for 
humanitarian aid or whether it is the number of refugees we accept or 
whether it is dealing with the Dreamers or those in TPS, the asylum 
seekers. All of that, to me, violates the basic principles of America 
that make us the strong Nation we are.

  The most recent force of separation of parents from their children at 
our southern border is outrageous, and it is affecting people's lives 
every day--children's lives every day.
  Let me set this up because, again, this was done by the President. He 
can correct it with the stroke of a pen. Congress didn't create the 
problem; the President did this. The President can change this today.
  It is my understanding that as many as 70 children every single day 
are being separated from their parents at our southern border. This 
can't wait until tomorrow. Each one of these children will be scarred 
for the rest of their life because of this cruel and inhumane policy 
announced by the Trump administration.
  Let me set this up as to how this happened, because there is no law 
requiring this. The President decided that because you happen to be a 
parent concerned about your child's life--you live in a country in 
which you have a choice of your child joining a gang--by the way, if 
you join a gang, you are going to have to take someone else's life. 
That is usually the admission to join a gang. And if you refuse to join 
a gang, not only is your life at risk, but your family's life is at 
risk. So what would you do as a father or a mother if your child were 
in that position? You are trying to seek the safety of your child, so 
you leave and you come to our southern border. Now you are told you are 
going to lose your child in separation for doing what--trying to 
protect that child's life? Is that the United States? No, it isn't. But 
that is the policy President Trump has now established at our southern 
  It has to end, and it can end today by the President of the United 
States signing an order saying we are not going to do that. We all want 
to have rule of law and enforcement of laws at our border. We 
understand that. But you don't separate children from their parents. 
That can change, and we need to change it.
  Why are we doing this?
  Attorney General Sessions said we are doing this as a deterrent. We 
take children away from parents as a deterrent when parents are acting 
in order to protect their children? That makes absolutely no sense.
  Then I heard: Congress could take action. The President said that. We 
could take action. Our domestic policies must support our fundamental 
ideals of compassion and freedom and unwavering support for human 
rights. I agree with that. Yes, it would be nice for Congress to pass 
laws. I am all for doing that. We saw that we weren't even able to pass 
a bill protecting the Dreamers, even though Democrats and Republicans 
agreed on it, because President Trump wanted to use that for leverage 
for his wall and for repressive immigration policies.
  Let's not go down another path where we are going to have delay after 
delay and children being separated from parents every day. It is 
President Trump's responsibility to correct this today.
  Yes, we should work on legislation. I applaud Senator Feinstein for 
her legislation that would keep families together with the proper legal 
process. I congratulate Senator Smith for the HELP Separated Children 
Act, which gives fundamental principles. A lot of us have talked about 
various parts of immigration reform and comprehensive immigration 
reform. I am all for that. I voted for comprehensive immigration 
reform. But make no mistake about it--children are being taken away 
from their parents today by U.S. authorities on our southern border, 
when their parents have done nothing other than try to protect their 
children. It is happening today, and the way to change it today is for 
President Trump to say that is not what we are going to do here in 
America. I stand ready to work with any of my colleagues on reasonable 
laws that could protect the vulnerable people.
  Tomorrow, as I said, is World Refugee Day, where we have record 
numbers of people who have been displaced. America has the 
responsibility to be a leader on these issues and to lead by example, 
recognizing that diversity is our strength. We have responsibilities to 
those who have been persecuted to welcome them under our reasonable 
vetting rules so that we can, in fact, live up to our principles and 
lead the world.
  I ask my colleagues--on the eve of World Refugee Day--let us work 
together. I ask President Trump to do the right thing and reverse these 
repressive, un-American policies that he has put into place.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Flake). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. 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. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, for the information of Senators and 
staffs, the leadership staffs are talking now about the possibility of 
a vote at about 4:45 this afternoon on a proposal by Senator Crapo and 
Senator Whitehouse, which would be a pilot program for advanced reactor 
fuel. I am saying this just for the information of Senators. The vote 
is not set yet, but we are hopeful that it will be. As soon as we have 
final clearance, we will let Senators know.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Johnson). The Senator from New Jersey.

                        Forced Family Separation

  Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about the 
humanitarian crisis that we are facing at this moment in our country. 
It is a moral crisis. It is a crisis that didn't come about by some 
natural disaster; it has been manufactured by the actions of the Trump 
administration and the actions of our President.
  Since this past April, over 2,700 children--some of them just 
infants--have been forcibly separated from their parents. That is about 
45 children every single day. These children have been ripped from the 
arms of their parents, in some cases literally. These children have 
been imprisoned or deported, and at this very moment, many of these 
children are being warehoused. Some of them are put in what amount to 
cages, and some of them are being covered with thin, tinfoil-like 
blankets that we see handed out to marathon runners.
  I know these children are experiencing great fear, great trauma, 
wondering where their parents are, wondering what will happen to them, 
confused, feeling isolated and alone. They

[[Page S4027]]

are wondering if they did something wrong, and they are wondering what 
they did to deserve this. But more than that, we know these children 
are enduring psychological damage, which is literally having a physical 
effect on their brains. Pediatricians and researchers know trauma like 
this creates toxic stress. These children are enduring things that 
affect the development of their brains and their life's well-being. The 
research is clear. They found that separating children from parents 
literally changes the makeup of their brains--this level of cortisol, 
this level of trauma. One pediatric expert called the effect of this 
kind of family separation ``catastrophic'' on those children.
  At this very moment, so many Americans, these children, and others 
are wondering what happened to the America that we believe in, that we 
know, and that we hale. What is happening to this Nation that has for 
so long been a symbol of hope, a symbol of opportunity? How can we be 
seeing an America and how can they be experiencing an America that is 
so different from what we say we are? Well, the answer to the question, 
unfortunately, is painful, and it is direct.
  A little over 2 months ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary 
of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, and President Donald Trump made 
the decision to institute what they are calling a zero tolerance policy 
when it comes to individuals and families who cross the southern border 
without documentation or authorization. The policy dictates that any 
adult who illegally crosses the southern border will be subject to 
Federal prosecution and therefore placed in Federal custody.
  When the Trump administration instituted this policy, they knew 
exactly what they were doing. They were concerned, probably, with the 
fallout--what this might mean, what people might say--but they clearly 
knew, consciously knew what would happen because any accompanying 
children could not be placed in criminal detention facilities with 
their parents once their parents were charged and detained. The 
families would be separated. The forced separation of children and 
families was not an unintended consequence of the Trump administration 
policy; it was and is a purposeful decision done with full 
consciousness of the impact on families and children.
  As news reports and photos of this inhumane policy that is shocking 
the consciousness of Americans--not left or right, not Republican or 
Democrat; it is shocking the consciousness of America--as images of 
these actions have spread over the past several days, we have seen the 
President and members of the administration try to distance themselves 
from the very policy they created. They have even gone so far--and it 
is not shocking at this point, but to hear the President out-and-out 
lie and try to blame Democrats in Congress, try to blame a Federal law, 
try to blame anything and not accept responsibility, when clearly, as 
my colleague Lindsey Graham has said, this is something that didn't 
come about from this body--this didn't come about because of some 
Democrats. Chuck Schumer didn't do this. Nancy Pelosi didn't do this. 
This was a decision made by our President that he could stop right now, 
as Senator Graham said, with a phone call.
  So let's be clear about something. This is a policy. This is a 
decision. This is a President who is assaulting--it is moral 
vandalism--the values, the common decency of our country, the ideals we 
hold dear. This is being carried out by Trump administration 
officials--something that can be reversed with a phone call.
  So this moment really is a moment of moral reckoning in the United 
States of America. It is a low point. It is a heartbreaking point. I am 
one of those people who believe that if this country hasn't broken your 
heart, you probably don't love her enough. This is one of those 
moments, as we have seen in the past, where we will be judged. How we 
react in this moral moment--future generations will look back at this 
crossroads of conscience in the same way we look back at some of the 
most shameful chapters, shameful moments in our history. They will look 
back and see what we did, what we said, how we acted, how we stood up, 
how we fought, how we demanded during this time.
  Today, we look back at the horrors of slavery and the shame of that 
time and the way that purposefully fracturing families was used to 
terrorize and subjugate Black Americans, how children were torn from 
the mothers and sold away, how wives and husbands were violently 
separated. We know these acts were not just financial decisions on the 
part of slave owners. It was deeper than that. It was this idea of 
subjugating, this idea of dehumanizing, this idea that if you so 
demonize people and dehumanize them, it makes it easier to victimize 
those folks, to assault their dignity, unconscious of the fact that 
when you assault the dignity of others, you assault the dignity of 
  Today, we look back with shame and regret at the practice of the 
internment of Japanese Americans, the out-and-out violation of our 
values and ideals as a country. Our fellow Americans--over 120,000 men, 
women, and children--were forcibly removed from their homes and put 
into detainment and internment camps.
  Today, we look back with deep shame and regret at how Jewish refugees 
fleeing from the Holocaust were turned away from our shores, many who 
were sent back to Germany and killed by the Nazis.
  Today, we look back with shame at the way Native American families 
were separated, their children taken and sent to boarding schools where 
they were stripped of their language and stripped of their culture.
  These were moral moments in our past. Do you know what? We tell 
ourselves that if we were in those moments, if we were in those times, 
maybe we would have stood up, and so many people of good faith and of 
every background did stand up in those times. We think to ourselves 
that if we were there in those moments, we would have done something, 
we would have acted. We are at that moment, and we are at a defining 
moment in our history. We are at a moral crossroads. We are at a point 
where our Nation's character is being revealed.
  When we look at history, we have seen the ways we have made mistakes, 
but we have also seen the truth of our Nation in those periods, the 
ideals that we have professed since our founding, the ideals that 
generations of Americans have tried to make more real, more perfect, 
more established in this Nation. We see in the history how generations 
past--Black, White, Christian, Jewish, folks from all different 
backgrounds, men and women--stood up and did the right thing. They were 
insistent that this Nation should be different.
  We were not founded as a country because we all pray alike or because 
we all look alike or because we are all the same race. No. We always 
strove to be different as a nation, that we would be a nation of ideals 
and values, that we would be a nation bigger than the racial or 
religious lives that divide men and women, that we would have unifying 
ideals and principles, and that we in America would be a light unto 
  We have seen this Nation do it right and live up to those ideals with 
Hungarian refugees, Cuban refugees, Chinese refugees, and Haitian 
refugees, who all fled and found a safe haven here in the United States 
of America. Look at the waves of Irish who came to our shores to escape 
famine. Look at the waves of folks who have escaped oppression.
  When we were at our best, we were a light unto nations--of hope, of 
integrity, of honesty, of honor. We are a nation of refugees. We are a 
nation of immigrants. We are a nation of exiles. We are a nation of 
ancestors of former slaves. We are not our particularistic parts, but 
we are a profound sum of those parts. We have made mistakes, but we 
have answered the question of who we are by showing our values, and 
that is why the United States has become known throughout the planet 
Earth as that beacon of light and hope.
  I have traveled around the globe with the privileges of a Senator, 
and I see the way people look at this country. I see the way people try 
to model their behavior after ours. I see the way we talk about 
democratic ideals, democratic principles, how we try to talk about 
human rights, how we talk about human decency, and how we are held up 
as the model.

[[Page S4028]]

  This is why Americans from across the aisle, across religions, across 
political affiliations, from across the country are speaking out. I 
have seen conservative Christian evangelicals, conservative Catholics, 
and Republican colleagues of mine stand up and speak the moral truth 
about our Nation that this behavior is un-American. They speak with a 
chorus of conviction, telling the one man who has the immediate power 
to change this, the one man who did this, to stop his actions, to 
restore honor, to correct this wrong.
  I am proud to see Democrats and Republicans, progressives and 
conservatives speaking out against the moral vandalism that is not just 
degrading the dignity and humanity of the migrants at our border, but 
it is assaulting the dignity and humanity of America--the people of 
this country speaking out in one voice, one people understanding that 
we have one destiny, understanding that we share common values, and 
understanding that this is a time when we can't be silent. The opposite 
of justice is not injustice; it often is inaction. It is silence, it is 
apathy, and it is indifference.
  We must call on our President to end this. If he refuses, then we 
have an obligation here in Congress. We have the power; we can and must 
act to stop this inhumane, immoral, and un-American practice. We could 
vote today on a bill, the Keep Families Together Act, which has the 
support of 47 Democratic Senators and 2 Independents--49 Members of 
this body. It would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from 
separating children from their parents unless there are extraordinary 
circumstances. The bill is common sense. It is a moderate proposal. It 
is literally the least Congress can do to prevent this crisis from 
  Yes, we need to secure our borders. Yes, we need to uphold our just 
laws. But separating families and imprisoning children are not how we 
do that. We need to protect our borders, but we also need to reflect 
our values, to protect our values, to affirm the character of this 
country. We need to protect and secure the ideals of a nation we have 
all stood for. In this moral moment in our Nation's history, that means 
protecting and standing up for the dignity and humanity of these 
  I say again, future generations will look back at this moment, at 
this crisis of conscience, and they will see what has already happened. 
They will see this as a low moment, and they will wonder what we did 
during this time.
  History does have its eyes on us, but we have a chance right now to 
show them what we did, to let them see, when our morals have been 
tested, how we responded. They will look to see what people in this 
country did when people were having their values violated and their 
ideals and the dignity of their children and families assaulted. They 
will look to see what we did. They will look to see if we are silent or 
if we speak up--if we are indifferent or if we act. Do we indulge in 
apathy or have we become activists? They will look to see whether we 
fought for the ideals that made this Nation what I believe it is, which 
is, as Elijah called for the State of Israel, to be a light unto 
nations. That is the America I believe in. That is the America I know.
  We look back on the low of when women were being denied the vote, and 
we see a multiracial, multiethnic coalition--everyone from Frederick 
Douglass to Susan B. Anthony--come together and build a movement that 
propelled this government to act, and women were granted the right to 
  We look back on the low of segregation and how a multiracial 
coalition of Americans came together, worked together, fought together, 
stood together, sacrificed together, and some died together to advance 
the cause of civil rights.
  We look back at the Japanese internment, and we see how people, 
regardless of their background in America, regardless of their 
political party, came together to redress this wrong. In 1988, we saw a 
Republican President, Ronald Reagan, who responded by signing the Civil 
Liberties Act into law and working to right the wrong of Japanese 
  Future generations will look back on this moment. They will look to 
see whether we affirmed that in America we don't injure and imprison 
children; we protect them. They will look back to see that in America 
we don't abuse rights; we protect them. They will look back at America 
to see if we are called to be a nation, truly, that works to defend 
human rights at home and abroad, not violate them in our own backyard.
  This isn't an injustice that needs to take decades, years, or even 
months to correct. President Trump must, can, and should end this 
immoral policy today. If he refuses to act, this body will be judged. 
Congress can vote today on the Keep Families Together Act, and we must 
act. We must do something; we must stand for something or the dignity 
and the humanity that will be assaulted will not be those of children 
on our border. It will be damaging to the dignity and the humanity of 
us all.
  For the sake of our values, for the sake of our Nation, I urge my 
colleagues to act.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, for the information of colleagues, we 
are hoping within the next few minutes to have clearance from the 
leadership to be able to move ahead on a vote this afternoon on an 
amendment by Senator Crapo and Senator Whitehouse involving a pilot 
program for advancing reactor fuel.
  Senator Crapo would like to be recognized when I sit down in order to 
briefly comment on that amendment. Following that, I ask unanimous 
consent that Senator Menendez be recognized.
  Hopefully, by the time Senator Menendez is finished, we will have 
clearance for the vote, and we can proceed to the vote.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Idaho.
  Mr. CRAPO. Mr. President, I first thank Senator Alexander for the 
great efforts he has undergone to bring this legislation forward.
  The Senate is working as it should. We are processing amendments. 
Hopefully, we will make it through all of our appropriations bills this 
year and go back to regular order so that we avoid the kinds of 
collisions we have had all too often in the past few years as we try to 
accomplish the business of our government.
  As we have been told, the next amendment planned to be voted on in 
the next few minutes, we hope, is the Crapo-Whitehouse amendment. This 
amendment is one that focuses on our nuclear energy in the United 
  Nuclear energy is a carbon-free emissions source of energy. It is 
becoming recognized as one of the more important parts of the energy 
solution in the United States, and our amendment does a very simple 
thing. It creates a pilot project at the Idaho National Laboratory to 
begin perfecting and implementing the process of processing spent naval 
fuel into fuel that can be utilized in our new, advanced reactors.
  Currently, when naval fuel from our reactors in our Navy ships is 
spent, it still has about 80 percent of its value or its energy in it. 
The new, advanced reactors need about a 20-percent level. So we can 
literally get about four times as much fuel out of a spent naval fuel 
rod for new, advanced reactors as is in the rod itself, once it is 
ready for processing.
  This is a tremendous source of new energy for the United States and 
one that should help us as we move forward in developing an ``all of 
the above'' energy policy for the United States. I encourage my 
colleagues, when we have the opportunity to vote for this, to support 
it and help us to move forward in this important part of our national 
energy policy.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.

                        Forced Family Separation

  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, today I rise in condemnation of the 
Trump administration's heartless, cruel, and inhumane policy of 
separating children from their parents when they seek asylum at our 
southern border.
  I do so as the son of refugees who fled their homeland and came to 
this country because they longed to be free. I do so as a Catholic 
appalled by what is being done in the name of my Christian faith. I do 
so out of concern, as the ranking member of the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee, that the cruelty being conducted in the name of 
the U.S. Government may cause lasting damage to America's reputation in 

[[Page S4029]]

world. I do so as a parent who knows that there is no love more 
powerful, no love more universal than love for your child, and it is 
love that has driven these families to seek asylum in the United 
  Seeking asylum is not a crime. It is a cry for mercy, an act of 
desperation. The trauma being inflicted on these children and the 
anguish being inflicted on these parents is a direct result of the 
Trump administration's decision to criminalize asylum seekers and 
persecute families fleeing for their very lives.
  President Trump is lying to the American people when he says that 
family separation is the law of the land. He is lying when he says that 
Democrats put a law on the books mandating that children be terrorized 
in this way.
  Under the policies of previous administrations, families remained 
together while waiting for their asylum claims to proceed through our 
immigration courts. But this President has broken with the basic 
standards of decency that have guided past administrations, Republican 
and Democrat alike.
  The criminalizing of asylum seekers is in fact a newly unveiled 
policy. Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls it a zero tolerance 
policy. I say it is a zero humanity policy, a zero compassion policy.
  This policy of persecuting families fleeing for their lives comes 
straight from the White nationalist fringe. It has been in the works 
for over a year, going all the way back to when Chief of Staff John 
Kelly was Secretary of Homeland Security. Back in March of 2017, then-
Secretary John Kelly said that the ``name of the game is deterrence.'' 
He said that if the administration began separating kids from their 
parents, they could deter migrants from traveling to our southern 
  We have since heard Attorney General Jeff Sessions double down on 
this theme of deterrence. He said:

       If people don't want to be separated from their children, 
     they should not bring them with them. . . . If you bring 
     children, you'll still be prosecuted.

  To those who spout this perverse notion of deterrence, I ask: How do 
you deter a mother trying to protect her child from the brutality of 
forced servitude? How do you deter a father trying to protect his 
daughter from being raped and tortured? How do you deter a family so 
fearful for their safety that they are willing to embark on a perilous 
journey and travel thousands of miles--thousands of miles--to reach the 
United States?
  The answer is that you can't, not without addressing the root causes 
of this forced migration.
  Most of these families come from Guatemala, El Salvador, and 
Honduras--the countries collectively known as the Northern Triangle. It 
is a region plagued by transnational gang violence, weak institutions, 
and poverty. Young boys are forced into servitude by gangs. Young girls 
are beaten and raped. Any parent who resists is killed. These countries 
suffer from some of the highest homicide rates in the world, and the 
violence against women is particularly appalling.
  In El Salvador, a woman is murdered every 19 hours, and in Honduras--
the country with the highest homicide rate for women in the world--a 
woman is killed every 16 hours.
  To be blunt, these families face a stark choice. It is either stay 
and die or flee for a chance to live.
  The facts show this policy of deterrence isn't deterring anyone. That 
is because it is hard to deter people who are fleeing for their lives. 
In recent months, we have seen the number of people seeking safety in 
record droves. There were 36,682 apprehensions at the border in 
February. By April, that number jumped to 50,924. In May, the number 
rose again to nearly 52,000.
  If we aim to reduce forced migration, we must improve the conditions 
in the region. Our only hope of doing so is by working with the 
governments of the Northern Triangle by exercising smart diplomacy, by 
working together to find solutions to promote the rule of law, provide 
public safety, and free communities of terror from transnational gang 
violence. Yet, just a few hours ago, President Trump threatened to cut 
off aid to Central America and Mexico because ``they are not sending 
their best.''
  In other words, he would have the policy of the United States be to 
make the dire conditions in Central America even worse--driving even 
more families to flee their homes in search of asylum. Let's be clear. 
These individuals are fleeing of their own accord. They are not being 
sent. They are fleeing. Their choice is stark: stay and die or leave 
and have a shot to live.
  We know USAID initiatives that support economic development and good 
governance make a real difference. We have heard directly from young 
people who have found hope and safety through these programs. Now is 
not the time to recklessly abandon these programs. It is a time to 
invest in them.
  The administration claims to be for law and order, but it deals in 
chaos and discord. President Trump lies with such frequency and such 
confidence because he knows the muddier the waters, the harder it is 
for the rays of truth to shine through.
  This past weekend, some rays of light shone through when former First 
Lady Laura Bush made her voice heard. As she wrote in the Washington 
Post, ``Our government should not be in the business of warehousing 
children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent 
cities in the desert outside of El Paso. These images are eerily 
reminiscent of the internment camps for U.S. citizens and noncitizens 
of Japanese descent during World War II, now considered to have been 
one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.''
  She couldn't be more right.
  This isn't a PR crisis. It is a humanitarian crisis, and it is a 
moral crisis for our country. That is why even members of the Trump 
administration are struggling to defend this policy. It is 
  Years from now, will we look back on this policy and be proud? No. We 
are going to look back and see it for what it is--another dark period 
in our history, in which we as a country failed to live up to the 
values that make America a beacon of hope and a leader among nations.
  It is despicable to see President Trump inflict trauma on innocent 
children just to score political points with his base or to somehow use 
children as a leverage for some negotiating point. That is what is 
happening here.
  President Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress have one 
strategy left in their playbook for 2018. They cannot run on being 
fiscally responsible; their trillion-dollar corporate tax cuts have 
exploded the Federal deficit. They cannot run on delivering the 
American people more affordable health because under their watch, 
healthcare premiums are soaring, and prescription drug costs are 
surging. They cannot run on raising wages because under their policies, 
most of the Nation's economic gains continue to go to big corporations 
and to the top 1 percent instead of working families and the middle 
class. The only thing they have left to run on is fear.
  In 2018, the Republican Party has one message. It is a message that 
says, as the President said earlier today, that these migrants aim to 
``infest our country''; that babies and toddlers and middle schoolers 
pose a threat to our public safety and our national security; that 
Latino families who are fleeing unthinkable violence are nothing more 
than pests.
  Let me be clear, Mr. President. Running to save the lives of your 
child doesn't make you a criminal. It makes you a parent. Tearing 
innocent children away from their parents is shameful, it is cruel, and 
it is un-American.
  President Trump is calling on Congress to fix a policy of his own 
creation. There is no law that instigates the President and his 
administration to do this, none at all. He chooses to do it.
  House Republicans are trying to pass a so-called immigration 
compromise, when as far as I can see, the only thing it compromises is 
our time-tested system of legal, family-based immigration in this 
  Contrary to Speaker Ryan's claims, this will do nothing to end the 
separation of families at the border. It doesn't address the issue of 
the President's zero tolerance policy or put an end to the 
administration's cruel practices. Instead, the bill removes protections 
for asylum seekers and gives the administration license to lock 
families into detention for indefinite periods of time.

[[Page S4030]]

  President Trump and ideologues like Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller 
want to use the tears of innocent children as leverage in their quest 
to end legal immigration, as we know it, and to force the American 
people to pay for a ludicrous $25 billion border wall.
  The President, the Attorney General, the DHS Secretary, and the White 
House Chief of Staff are practicing a doublespeak tactic in the hope of 
confusing the American public, but there is nothing confusing about 
separating children from their parents. The America I know doesn't put 
children into cages. The America I know doesn't rip newborn babies out 
of their mothers' arms. The America I know doesn't treat families 
fleeing from criminals like they are criminals.
  President Trump could end this despicable policy today without a law. 
He can order U.S. Customs and Border Control to stop tearing babies 
from their mothers' arms today. He can correct course and restore 
America's commitment to basic human rights today.
  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the audio released 
yesterday by ProPublica is worth a million tears.
  How do you submit the cries of innocent children to the Congressional 
Record? I don't know how you do that, but you can hear it.
  (Inaudible audio.)
  You can hear it. I know we don't want to hear it. I know we don't 
want to hear it, but those are the cries of innocent children. I can't 
replicate it. I can't replicate their pain: ``Papi, papi. Donde estas, 
  It is time this Senate has its conscience pricked, that it moves to 
action, and that it challenges the President on this horrific policy.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, first, let me thank the senior Senator 
from New Jersey for those remarks. It was a privilege and a pleasure to 
be here to hear them delivered. We had a hearing in the Judiciary 
Committee this morning with a representative of Homeland Security who 
was virtually incapable of explaining any of what they were trying to 
do here. I think we now have five or six different explanations from 
the Trump administration. One is, the Bible made me do it--the Attorney 
General; the other is, the Democrats made me do it; the third is, we 
are actually not doing it; the fourth is, we are doing it to build 
legislative leverage; and the fifth is, we are doing it in order to 
deter people from coming to our shores.
  I doubt any of those are true, but, for sure, they can't all be true. 
It is a mess, but it is nothing like the mess of the images the Senator 
from New Jersey called to the conscience of the country today.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I wonder if the Senator would yield for 
a moment for a scheduling announcement.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Of course. I am finished, until I go to my business 
related to your bill.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. For the information of Senators, there will not be a 
vote tonight on the Crapo-Whitehouse amendment. We have at least one 
Senator who is still studying the bill, but we believe that will be 
cleared up shortly. Our goal would be to have votes tomorrow morning at 
about 10 o'clock on the Crapo-Whitehouse amendment, as well as an 
amendment by Senator Baldwin. Both of those are subject to being 
approved by the leadership staff. Only they can announce the scheduling 
of a vote.
  For the information of Senators, there will not be a vote tonight, 
and there will be a vote on at least one to three amendments tomorrow 
morning, hopefully, at about 10 o'clock.
  Senator Crapo already has spoken about the Crapo-Whitehouse 
amendment, which is a pilot program for advanced reactor fuel. It is a 
very good idea. It is not reauthorizing a new program. It is not 
spending any more money. It is reallocating money for a very creative 
idea that Senator Whitehouse and Senator Crapo have come up with. I 
fully support it. I think the Senators on both sides of the aisle will 
see the wisdom of it once everyone has a chance to consider it. I am 
glad Senator Whitehouse is here to talk more about it.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. First, let me thank Chairman Alexander for his 
support and assistance in getting us to this point. He has also, until 
I rotated off the HELP Committee and onto the Finance Committee, been 
my chairman on the HELP Committee. Both in his work as the 
appropriations subcommittee chair here managing this bill, I thank him, 
and for all of his leadership on the HELP Committee when I was a member 
of that committee, I thank him.
  As the Senate looks at this measure, I want to try to explain it in 
as simple terms as possible because I think this is a complete slam-
dunk, win-win amendment. A next generation of nuclear power capability 
is being developed, and a great deal of the design of that next-
generation nuclear capability is being done here in the United States.
  For a variety of reasons, those American designs are now moving to 
approval and construction in other countries, particularly including 
China. I don't think it is a good idea for us to be designing new 
technologies but have them deployed in other countries. We are trying 
to address some of the hiccups that prevent this from going forward in 
the United States.
  Our U.S. Navy uses nuclear fuel all the time. I think it is widely 
known that our aircraft carriers and submarines operate with nuclear 
engines. They do so very safely. They do so with the expert support of 
our U.S. Navy. Then, at the end of the day, they generate spent fuel 
that gets taken off of the aircraft carrier or the submarine when the 
engine is refueled. The question is, What becomes of that spent fuel?

  What this bill would do is to allow the Navy to give access to that 
spent fuel to our National Labs. America's National Labs are a science 
gem of global proportions. The scientists who work in our National Labs 
are brilliant. They are extraordinary. They are at the cutting edge of 
a great number of issues and developments. One of them is--guess what--
next-generation nuclear power. What access to the Navy's fuel would do 
is to allow them, under the strict controls that are protecting our 
National Labs, to begin to work through testing how some of these next-
generation nuclear plants might work.
  Why is it a big deal for us to look at developing in the United 
States this next generation of nuclear power?
  One obvious reason is that it is carbon-free power, and we have 
already blown through 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the 
atmosphere. That is way out of the range that we have been in the 
entire history of humankind on this planet, and it will have all sorts 
of cascading effects on our climate, our atmosphere, and our oceans. 
Nuclear power avoids all of those ancillary risks of fossil fuel power.
  The other problem is that we have been operating with old-school 
nuclear power for quite a long time in this country, and we have built 
up a very substantial reserve of nuclear waste, of spent fuel. At the 
moment, the Senate and the Congress and, indeed, the U.S. Government 
have no plan for getting rid of that nuclear waste. There have been 
fights over sticking it in caves in Nevada. There have been all sorts 
of ideas, but we do not currently have an operating plan. A great deal 
of that nuclear waste is, simply, stored at the powerplant at which the 
power was generated. That is a big liability, I believe.
  I think that if we were to act as if we were a corporation and book 
as a liability the liability of the cost of having to safely dispose of 
all of that nuclear waste, it would get the companies' accountants' 
attention, and they would invest some effort into figuring out what the 
solution is to dealing with all of those stockpiles of nuclear waste 
for which we currently have no plan.
  Here is where the two lines converge, because the next-generation 
nuclear technologies carry the promise of being able to take our 
nuclear waste stockpile and repurpose it as fuel--to turn toxic, 
dangerous, multi-10,000-year waste, with a huge liability attached to 
it, into an asset, a power-producing asset.
  To me, this is a very small investment in a potential solution to a 
very big problem. I think we can have considerable confidence that the 
U.S. Navy knows what it is doing in handling these nuclear fuels and 
that our National Labs know what they are doing

[[Page S4031]]

in handling nuclear materials. The trust of the Navy and the trust of 
the National Labs and the expertise of the National Labs, in their 
giving us the ability to actually create a potential solution to at 
least a significant part of our nuclear waste problem, is worth the 
small investment that, I hope, my colleagues will be willing to make 
  I particularly thank Senator Crapo, who has worked with me very 
closely on this whole nuclear innovation side. He is a real leader in 
this area. I am happy to be his Democratic colleague working on this. I 
hope that with that explanation, we can come to a measure of agreement 
that this is actually a good, ``no losers'' idea and be able to vote on 
it tomorrow. I hope we will have a very strong and successful vote.
  With all of that, I yield the floor to the floor manager from the 
Republican side.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Rhode Island 
for his idea. This is a creative idea on his part.
  I would like to give credit to Senator Crapo and Senator Risch from 
the State of Idaho. Idaho has our nuclear laboratory, among our 17 
National Laboratories, and the work that we are talking about would be 
done in Idaho.
  The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill, which was 
approved almost unanimously in the Appropriations Committee a few weeks 
ago, approved $10 million for the kind of work that Senator Whitehouse 
just described. It is a pilot program to recycle the Navy's spent 
nuclear fuel and use the recovered uranium to supply high-assay low-
enriched uranium for advanced reactors. That is already in the bill. 
This amendment by Senators Whitehouse, Crapo, and Risch would add an 
additional $5 million to the pilot program. The additional $5 million 
is being reallocated from fuel cycle research and development and does 
not increase the overall spending in the bill.
  In looking ahead to tomorrow, the leaders' offices are still talking, 
but our expectation is that we will have at least two votes tomorrow at 
about 10 o'clock. One would be on the Crapo-Whitehouse-Risch amendment, 
which we have just described. The second would be on the Baldwin-
Portman amendment, which has been considered. Hopefully, we will have 
other appropriations amendments during the day.
  I encourage Senators and their staffs to file tonight, if at all 
possible, the amendments they have to these three appropriations bills, 
because the majority leader has said that he would like to finish our 
work this week.
  While there is an opportunity for offering amendments, as Senators 
know, most amendments that Senators can think of have already been 
dealt with. I speak from experience on our own subcommittee, the Energy 
and Water Development Subcommittee, and then on the full Appropriations 
Committee, which includes 31 Senators. We have heard, in our case, from 
83 different Members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle. We have 
heard their suggestions just as in the case of Senator Whitehouse's 
idea about a pilot program for advanced reactor fuels. We have already 
heard from him about that and from Senator Crapo and Senator Risch, and 
we have included it in the base bill. What we will do tomorrow, if we 
have another vote, is to simply add $5 million to it from another 
account without increasing the amount of spending.
  There are a great many amendments that Senators have offered that are 
already a part of the Energy and Water Development bill. That is why I 
think it has such strong support on the subcommittee, the committee, 
and the floor. Yet, if there are additional amendments that relate to 
the bill, particularly if they are bipartisan amendments, we would like 
for them to be filed tonight so they can be considered tomorrow.
  It is my hope that before we close tonight, the leaders will 
authorize the announcements of votes tomorrow morning on two amendments 
at about 10 o'clock.
  I yield the floor.
  Seeing no other Senator on the floor, I suggest the absence of a 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 
up to 15 minutes as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Thank you, Mr. President.

                             Climate Change

  Mr. President, as 2010 dawned, in what now seems like another era of 
political time, the U.S. Congress was poised to tackle the problem of 
climate change. The House of Representatives had just passed a cap-and-
trade bill, and there was bipartisan support for climate action in the 
Senate. Then, on January 21--a date that ought to live in judicial 
infamy--five Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court--all Republican 
appointees--delivered Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 
and unleashed unlimited special interest money into America's political 
  The fossil fuel industry was looking for a way to stop climate 
legislation; it got Citizens United. Fossil fuel interests asked those 
Justices for, anticipated, and immediately seized on the political 
opportunity Citizens United provided them.
  Citizens United instantly changed the game in Congress for big 
political interests, such as the fossil fuel industry. Before that 
fateful day, Congress had held regular, bipartisan hearings and even 
votes on legislation to limit the carbon emissions causing climate 
change, but Citizens United allowed the fossil fuel industry to strike 
at this bipartisan progress, and it struck hard. The fossil fuel 
industry set its political forces instantly to work, targeting pro-
climate-action candidates, particularly Republicans. Outside spending 
in 2010's congressional races increased 75 percent--75 percent--by more 
than $200 million over the previous midterm's levels.
  Citizens United gave the fossil fuel political forces another power--
not just the power to spend but the power to threaten. As powerful a 
cudgel as actual election spending is to wield, it is also powerful to 
threaten to wield that cudgel. Threats are not only powerful, they are 
less expensive than actual spending--you get to keep the money, and the 
threats are likely to be secret.
  The sudden barrage of unlimited money, dark money, and political 
threat had its desired effect: The political hit men of the fossil fuel 
industry stopped bipartisan climate action in its tracks. Pro-climate 
Republicans had a choice: either stop advocating for climate action or 
become a casualty.
  The clear before-and-after point is 2010's Citizens United decision 
and the immediate weaponization of that new power by the fossil fuel 
industry to protect its polluting status quo--a status quo, by the way, 
that the International Monetary Fund estimates provides fossil fuel a 
subsidy of $700 billion--billion with a ``b''--every year, just in the 
United States.
  The Republican appointees who delivered the Citizens United decision 
claimed that there would be a regime of ``effective disclosure'' that 
would, as they said, ``provide shareholders and citizens with the 
information needed to hold corporations and elected officials 
accountable for their positions and supporters.'' Of course, this has 
not happened. Instead, we have witnessed billionaires and corporate 
interests spending unlimited secret money in elections. Outside groups 
have already spent $140 million in the 2018 election cycle, nearly half 
of which is from groups with no or only partial disclosure.
  The head of the Koch brothers' dark money group, Americans for 
Prosperity, announced that the Kochs' political network plans to spend 
$400 million in the 2018 cycle--60 percent more than it spent in 2016. 
Just last month, a single anonymous donor contributed $26.4 million to 
the American Action Network, a dark-money organization with close ties 
to Speaker Paul Ryan.
  Secrecy is the key to the fossil fuel polluters' toxic control of our 
democracy. Light will drive them back. As a Foreign Service officer's 
son living overseas in impoverished tropical

[[Page S4032]]

countries, I remember that the cockroaches would come out at night. 
When you would go into the kitchen to get a drink, you would hit the 
light switch, the lights would flicker on, and you would see and hear 
the cockroaches scuttling for the protection of the shadows, fleeing 
the light.
  Well, we need a little bit of that light in our democracy. So, with 
my Democratic colleagues, I am reintroducing my legislation to bring 
about the so-called ``effective disclosure,'' which even the Supreme 
Court that decided Citizens United acknowledged is necessary for the 
American people to have full faith in our political system.
  The DISCLOSE Act of 2018 offers a commonsense solution to restore 
transparency and accountability in our political system. The DISCLOSE 
Act would rein in what has been called a ``tsunami of slime'' by 
requiring organizations spending money in American elections--including 
super PACs, unions, tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups, all of them--to 
promptly disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election 
cycle. Big, sneaky donors will try to hide behind shell corporations 
that disguise who they are, so the bill includes robust transfer 
provisions to prevent dark-money operatives from using complex webs of 
phony front groups to hide real donor identities.
  The DISCLOSE Act also strengthens the ban forbidding election 
spending by foreign nationals. One of the problems of our present dark-
money infestation is that foreign actors can hide their political 
influence activities in the exact same dark-money channels used by the 
big special interests. Once you tolerate dark-money channels of 
influence in American elections, you can't police who uses those dark-
money channels. Anonymity is anonymity; anyone could be hiding in the 
dark. Vladimir Putin could be hiding in the dark. We don't know until 
we turn on the lights.
  Last, the bill requires people spending money on election advertising 
to ``stand by your ad'' so that the ad itself identifies who is behind 
the advertising.
  Can we get this done? The public certainly wants us to, and it wasn't 
too long ago that Republicans supported disclosure. They were right 
back then, but now Republicans, who once extolled the principles of 
openness and accountability in our elections, have changed their tune. 
Gone is their distaste for secretive election spending; indeed, a new 
appetite for secret spending has emerged.
  This is how the special interest rot of our democracy occurs: The big 
special interests not only want to win in Congress, they want to change 
the rules of democracy to make it so they can always win in Congress, 
and they use those changed rules to make sure their party goes along 
with it.
  Back in 2014, the Rules Committee actually held a hearing on 
DISCLOSE. I hope we can get another hearing because since that time, 
the problem of dark money has only gotten worse. President Trump 
promised to drain the swamp and then turned his administration over to 
the biggest dark-money swamp monsters that exist. For example, nearly 
two dozen dark-money organizations fronting for God knows who--but one 
can guess--backed the nomination of Scott Pruitt to be the 
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Indeed, Administrator 
Pruitt himself raised millions of dollars in dark money while serving 
as Oklahoma's attorney general, and he has never disclosed what 
business those interests that funded him now have before the EPA.
  Americans correctly feel that the tsunami of anonymous dark money 
drowns out their voices in Washington and washes them to the margins of 
our political arena. The DISCLOSE Act of 2018 offers a commonsense 
solution to restore transparency and accountability into our political 
system. With the Senate now in session through most of the summer, 
there is ample time for this body to examine the merits of clearing 
dark money out of our political system. The problem of dark-money 
spending and threats is too big to ignore.
  This is why we are failing at addressing climate change. The 
corruption and fear Citizens United set loose in our politics in 2010 
sickeningly empowered big special interests, and to the lasting shame 
of our Nation, it allowed the fossil fuel industry to purchase veto 
power over our national policymaking on climate change. We have allowed 
the biggest interest with the biggest conflict of interest to acquire 
veto power over what the Congress of the United States does on this 
vital issue.
  This has been a double evil: It has been poisonous to the American 
democracy we cherish, and by preventing action to address climate 
change, it is poisonous to our entire planet.
  By introducing this legislation, we are giving our Republican 
colleagues a chance to show the American people where they stand--with 
the individual voters we were all sent here to represent, who massively 
want there to be climate action, or with the billionaires and corporate 
interests pursuing a quiet, hostile takeover of American democracy 
using dark money and threats.
  The cockroaches are everywhere. I say, let's turn on the lights.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. BENNET. Mr. 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. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.