AGRICULTURE AND NUTRITION ACT OF 2018; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 108
(Senate - June 27, 2018)

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[Pages S4460-S4492]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 2) to provide for the reform and continuation 
     of agricultural and other programs of the Department of 
     Agriculture through fiscal year 2023, and for other purposes.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.

                           Amendment No. 3224

       (Purpose: In the nature of a substitute.)

  Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I call up the substitute amendment No. 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Kansas [Mr. Roberts] proposes an amendment 
     numbered 3224.

  Mr. ROBERTS. 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 printed in today's Record under ``Text of 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.

                Amendment No. 3134 to Amendment No. 3224

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I call up the Thune amendment No. 3134.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell], for Mr. Thune, 
     proposed an amendment numbered 3134 to amendment No. 3224.

  Mr. McCONNELL. 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 modify conservation reserve program provisions)

       In section 2103, strike subsections (b) and (c) and insert 
     the following:
       (b) Specified Activities Permitted.--Section 1233(b) of the 
     Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3833(b)) is amended--
       (1) by striking paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (5);
       (2) by redesignating paragraph (4) as subparagraph (C) and 
     indenting appropriately;
       (3) by inserting before subparagraph (C) (as so 
     redesignated) the following:

[[Page S4461]]

       ``(B) harvesting, grazing, or other commercial use of the 
     forage, without any reduction in the rental rate, in response 
       ``(i) drought;
       ``(ii) flooding;
       ``(iii) a state of emergency caused by drought or wildfire 

       ``(I) that is declared by the Governor, in consultation 
     with the State Committee of the Farm Service Agency, of the 
     State in which the land that is subject to a contract under 
     the conservation reserve program is located;
       ``(II) that covers any part of the State or the entire 
     State; and
       ``(III) the declaration of which under subclause (I) is not 
     objected to by the Secretary during the 5 business days after 
     the date of declaration; or

       ``(iv) any other emergency, as determined by the 
       (4) in the matter preceding subparagraph (B) (as so 
     designated), by striking ``The Secretary'' and inserting the 
       ``(1) In general.--The Secretary'';
       (5) in paragraph (1) (as so designated)--
       (A) by inserting before subparagraph (B) (as so designated) 
     the following:
       ``(A) consistent with the conservation of soil, water 
     quality, and wildlife habitat--
       ``(i) managed harvesting and other commercial use 
     (including the managed harvesting of biomass), in exchange 
     for a reduction in the annual rental rate of 25 percent for 
     the acres covered by the activity, except that in permitting 
     those activities, the Secretary, in consultation with the 
     State technical committee established under section 1261(a) 
     for the applicable State, shall--

       ``(I) develop appropriate vegetation management 
       ``(II) subject harvesting to restrictions during the 
     primary nesting season for birds in the area, as determined 
     by the Secretary, in consultation with the State technical 
       ``(III) not allow harvesting to occur more frequently than 
     once every 3 years on the same land; and
       ``(IV) not allow more than \1/3\ of the acres covered by 
     all of the conservation reserve program contracts of the 
     owner or operator to be harvested during any year; and

       ``(ii) grazing, in exchange for a reduction in the annual 
     rental rate of 25 percent for the acres covered by the 
     activity, except that in permitting that grazing, the 
     Secretary, in consultation with the State technical committee 
     established under section 1261(a) for the applicable State, 

       ``(I) develop appropriate vegetation management 
     requirements and stocking rates, based on stocking rates 
     under the livestock forage disaster program established under 
     section 1501(c) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (7 U.S.C. 
     9081(c)) (referred to in this subsection as the `livestock 
     forage disaster program'), for the land that are suitable for 
     continued grazing;
       ``(II) identify the periods during which grazing may be 
     conducted, taking into consideration regional differences, 
     such as--

       ``(aa) climate, soil type, and natural resources;
       ``(bb) the appropriate frequency and duration of grazing 
     activities; and
       ``(cc) how often during a year in which grazing is 
     permitted that grazing should be allowed to occur;

       ``(III) not allow grazing to occur more frequently than 
     once every 3 years on the same land;
       ``(IV)(aa) in the case of a conservation reserve program 
     contract that covers more than 20 acres, not allow more than 
     \1/3\ of the acres covered by all of the conservation reserve 
     program contracts of the owner or operator to be grazed 
     during any year; or

       ``(bb) in the case of a conservation reserve program 
     contract that covers less than or equal to 20 acres, allow 
     grazing on all of the land covered by the contract at 25 
     percent of the stocking rate permitted under the livestock 
     forage disaster program; and

       ``(V) allow a veteran or beginning farmer or rancher to 
     graze livestock without any reduction in the rental rate; 
     and''; and

       (B) in subparagraph (C) (as so redesignated), by striking 
     ``; and'' and inserting a period; and
       (6) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(2) Restrictions and conditions.--Paragraph (1)(A) shall 
     be subject to the following restrictions and conditions:
       ``(A) Severe or higher intensity drought.--Land located in 
     a county that has been rated by the United States Drought 
     Monitor as having a D2 (severe drought) or greater intensity 
     for not less than 1 month during the normal grazing period 
     established under the livestock forage disaster program for 
     the 3 previous consecutive years shall be ineligible for 
     harvesting or grazing under paragraph (1)(A) for that year.
       ``(B) Damage to vegetative cover.--The Secretary, in 
     coordination with the applicable State technical committee 
     established under section 1265(a), may determine for any year 
     that harvesting or grazing under paragraph (1)(A) shall not 
     be permitted on land subject to a contract under the 
     conservation reserve program in a particular county if 
     harvesting or grazing for that year would cause long-term 
     damage to the vegetative cover on that land.
       ``(C) State acres for wildlife enhancement.--The Secretary, 
     in consultation with the State technical committee 
     established under section 1261(a) for the applicable State, 
     may allow grazing or harvesting in accordance with paragraph 
     (1)(A) on land covered by a contract enrolled under the State 
     acres for wildlife enhancement program established by the 
     Secretary or established under section 1231(j) through the 
     duration of that contract, if grazing or harvesting is 
     specifically permitted under the applicable State acres for 
     wildlife enhancement program agreement for that contract.
       ``(D) Conservation reserve enhancement program.--The 
     Secretary, in consultation with the State technical committee 
     established under section 1261(a) for the applicable State, 
     may allow grazing or harvesting under paragraph (1)(A) to be 
     conducted on land covered by a contract enrolled under the 
     conservation reserve enhancement program established by the 
     Secretary under this subchapter or under section 1231A, if 
     grazing or harvesting is specifically permitted under the 
     applicable conservation reserve enhancement program agreement 
     for that contract.''.
       (c) Harvesting and Grazing.--Section 1233 of the Food 
     Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3833) is amended by adding at 
     the end the following:
       ``(e) Harvesting and Grazing.--
       ``(1) In general.--The Secretary, in consultation with the 
     State technical committee established under section 1261(a) 
     for the applicable State, may permit harvesting and grazing 
     in accordance with subsection (b) on any land subject to a 
     contract under the conservation reserve program.
       ``(2) Exception.--The Secretary, in coordination with the 
     applicable State technical committee established under 
     section 1261(a), may determine for any year that harvesting 
     or grazing described in paragraph (1) shall not be permitted 
     on land subject to a contract under the conservation reserve 
     program in a particular county, or under a particular 
     practice, if harvesting or grazing for that year in that 
     county or under that practice, as applicable, would cause 
     long-term damage to vegetative cover on that land.''.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I rise today as the Senate considers 
legislation on an issue that is critically important to our Nation--the 
Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, the farm bill.
  The goal, the responsibility, the absolute requirement is to provide 
farmers, ranchers, and growers--everyone within America's valued food 
chain--certainty and predictability during these very, very difficult 
times. We are, indeed, in a rough patch with regard to agriculture.
  Many of my colleagues have introduced legislation over the last year 
that addresses priorities and stakeholders in their States. The bill 
that passed the Agriculture Committee with a strong 20-to-1 vote 
earlier this month addresses many of those concerns. In fact, the Ag 
Committee-passed product includes portions of 65 stand-alone bills, and 
an additional 73 amendments were adopted in the committee. We have also 
included 18 amendments in today's substitute amendment.
  Needless to say, we have worked to include as many priorities from 
Members both on and off the Ag Committee, and we want to continue to 
work with Members to address their concerns. That is why we are here.
  We are endeavoring to craft a farm bill that meets the needs of 
producers across all regions and all crops. All of agriculture is 
struggling, not just one or two commodities. We must have a bill that 
works across all of our great Nation. That means, with bipartisan 
support, we must do our job. We must pass a bill that provides our 
farmers, ranchers, and rural communities the much needed certainty and 
predictability they deserve.
  I appreciate the bipartisan support that we have had to date of those 
on the Ag Committee who voted to report a bill in such a strong 
manner--and other Members of the Senate--and I look forward to working 
with my colleagues on continuing to move this process forward. I will 
not say that it is an emergency, but we have to move this bill to 
provide farmers certainty and predictability during the very tough 
times they face.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I want to concur with the comments of 
our chairman, Senator Roberts. All together, I believe we have 91 
amendments between the work of the committee on a bipartisan basis and 
the work we have put into the substitute. We have listened and worked 
together with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and put forward a 
package of bipartisan amendments that will allow us to move forward in 
a way that will provide certainty for our farmers and ranchers, as well 
as our families.

[[Page S4462]]

  Now we will take the next step, and we look forward to working with 
colleagues to move this forward to get to a final vote this week.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I wish to list the amendments that are 
included in the substitute that my distinguished colleague Senator 
Stabenow and I and our diligent staff have been working on. They are as 
follows: Senator Jones, No. 3081; Senator Smith, No. 3082; Senator 
Kennedy, No. 3097; Senator Murkowski, No. 3110; Senator Hatch, No. 
3125; Senator Merkley, No. 3147; Senator Tester, No. 3148; Senator 
Gillibrand, No. 3154; Senator Gardner, No. 3157; Senator Moran, No. 
3159; Senator Collins, No. 3160; Senator Peters, No. 3164; Senator 
Shaheen, No. 3172; Senator Feinstein, No. 3177; Senator Cornyn, No. 
3186; Senator Cantwell and Senator Crapo, No. 3209; and Senator 
Gardner, again, No. 3218; and Senator Grassley.
  I wish to note that this represents 18 amendments put in the 
substitute--extremely bipartisan. I have read ``Republican,'' 
``Democrat,'' ``Democrat,'' ``Republican'' all through these 18 
amendments. We have proceeded that way in committee. We are proceeding 
this way on the floor. I urge Members to bring their amendments to the 
floor for consideration, and, hopefully, the amendments will be of a 
nature that we can consider them without controversy. I know people 
have strong concerns about whatever amendment they submit.
  Again, the ultimate goal is to do this quickly and to provide farmers 
certainty and predictability during this difficult time they are going 
through. I hope Members will keep that in mind with regard to any 
amendment they may be considering.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Family Separation

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, last night, in the San Diego Federal 
District Court, U.S. district court judge Dana Sabraw made a critical 
ruling that will affect the lives of thousands of people who have been 
the focal point of America's attention over the last several weeks.
  Judge Sabraw was appointed to the Federal bench by President George 
W. Bush. In reading about him online, he is a Japanese American whose 
background was in private practice law before he assumed the Federal 
  He was given the responsibility of ruling on the Trump 
administration's zero tolerance policy. You will remember that policy. 
It started in April. It was a decision by the Trump administration and 
Attorney General Sessions to separate children from their mothers and 
parents if they attempted to enter the United States without having 
legal authorization. The net result of that policy was the separation 
of thousands of children from their parents.
  It has been on the news almost every day for weeks now. A firestorm 
of opposition has come about on both political sides of the aisle. 
Democrats and Republicans have said this is unfair; that it is not 
right. Even the First Ladies--Democrats and Republicans--have come 
together in an unusual show of unanimity in their opposition to 
President Trump and Attorney General Sessions' zero tolerance policy.
  Attorney General Sessions defended the policy and said he had a 
Biblical defense for what they were doing. President Trump made it 
clear he was behind the policy as well. Yet the opposition grew and 
grew in its intensity to the point at which there were statements made 
by the Pope, as well as by an evangelical supporter of the President, 
Franklin Graham, when they called the administration's decision 
  Late last week, President Trump issued an Executive order that said 
he was ending this family separation, but that order didn't contain one 
word about what was going to happen to these children. There was no 
resolution of the whole question of reuniting these children with their 
  I learned about this matter months ago--well, several weeks ago, at 
least--when we learned that a mother from the Congo had made it through 
South America and Central America to our border in California. She 
presented herself with her 6-year-old daughter and asked for asylum 
because she feared persecution and death back in her home country. That 
happened over 6 months ago. They removed her 6-year-old daughter from 
her custody and flew the girl 2,000 miles to Chicago. So the mother 
remained in San Diego, and the daughter was in Chicago. That was when 
we learned about it in my office.
  We started pursuing it. After we brought it to the attention of those 
at the Department of Homeland Security, they said that was not the 
policy, and they were going to work on it. They did reunite the mother 
and child, but the separation of this family led to this lawsuit, the 
lawsuit Judge Sabraw ruled on last night.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the opinion of the court 
be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

       Judge Sabraw's order begins as follows:
       ``Eleven weeks ago, Plaintiffs leveled the serious 
     accusation that our Government was engaged in a widespread 
     practice of separating migrant families, and placing minor 
     children who were separated from their parents in government 
     facilities for ``unaccompanied minors.'' According to 
     Plaintiffs, the practice was applied indiscriminately, and 
     separated even those families with small children and 
     infants--many of whom were seeking asylum. Plaintiffs noted 
     reports that the practice would become national policy. 
     Recent events confirm these allegations. Extraordinary relief 
     is requested, and is warranted under the circumstances.
       On May 7, 2018, the Attorney General of the United States 
     announced a ``zero tolerance policy,'' under which all adults 
     entering the United States illegally would be subject to 
     criminal prosecution, and if accompanied by a minor child, 
     the child would be separated from the parent. Over the 
     ensuing weeks, hundreds of migrant children were separated 
     from their parents, sparking international condemnation of 
     the practice. Six days ago on June 20, 2018, the President of 
     the United States signed an Executive Order (``EO'') to 
     address the situation and to require preservation of the 
     ``family unit'' by keeping migrant families together during 
     criminal and immigration proceedings to the extent permitted 
     by law, while also maintaining ``rigorous[]'' enforcement of 
     immigration laws. See Executive Order, Affording Congress an 
     Opportunity to Address Family Separation Sec. 1, 2018 WL 
     3046068 (June 20, 2018). The EO did not address reunification 
     of the burgeoning population of over 2,000 children separated 
     from their parents. Public outrage remained at a fever pitch. 
     Three days ago on Saturday, June 23, 2018, the Department of 
     Homeland Security (``DHS'') issued a ``Fact Sheet'' outlining 
     the government's efforts to ``ensure that those adults who 
     are subject to removal are reunited with their children for 
     the purposes of removal.''
       Plaintiffs assert the EO does not eliminate the need for 
     the requested injunction, and the Fact Sheet does not address 
     the circumstances of this case. Defendants disagree with 
     those assertions, but there is no genuine dispute that the 
     Government was not prepared to accommodate the mass influx of 
     separated children. Measures were not in place to provide for 
     communication between governmental agencies responsible for 
     detaining parents and those responsible for housing children, 
     or to provide for ready communication between separated 
     parents and children. There was no reunification plan in 
     place, and families have been separated for months. Some 
     parents were deported at separate times and from different 
     locations than their children. Migrant families that lawfully 
     entered the United States at a port of entry seeking asylum 
     were separated. And families that were separated due to 
     entering the United States illegally between ports of entry 
     have not been reunited following the parent's completion of 
     criminal proceedings and return to immigration detention.
       This Court previously entered an order finding Plaintiffs 
     had stated a legally cognizable claim for violation of their 
     substantive due process rights to family integrity under the 
     Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution based on 
     their allegations the Government had separated Plaintiffs 
     from their minor children while Plaintiffs were held in 
     immigration detention and without a showing that they were 
     unfit parents or otherwise presented a danger to their 
     children. See Ms. L. v. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enf't, 302 
     F. Supp. 3d 1149, 2018 WL 2725736, at *7-12 (S.D. Cal. June 
     6, 2018). A class action has been certified to include 
     similarly situated migrant parents. Plaintiffs now request 
     classwide injunctive relief to prohibit separation of class 
     members from their children in the future absent a finding 
     the parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child, and to 
     require reunification of these families once the parent is 
     returned to immigration custody unless the parent is 
     determined to be unfit or presents a danger to the child.

[[Page S4463]]

       Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the 
     merits, irreparable harm, and that the balance of equities 
     and the public interest weigh in their favor, thus warranting 
     issuance of a preliminary injunction. This Order does not 
     implicate the Government's discretionary authority to enforce 
     immigration or other criminal laws, including its decisions 
     to release or detain class members. Rather, the Order 
     addresses only the circumstances under which the Government 
     may separate class members from their children, as well as 
     the reunification of class members who are returned to 
     immigration custody upon completion of any criminal 
       Judge Sabraw went on to explain why an injunction was 
     needed despite the Trump Administration's claims that it was 
     unnecessary. He said:
       ``[T]he Court addresses directly Defendants' argument that 
     an injunction is not necessary here in light of the EO and 
     the recently released Fact Sheet. Although these documents 
     reflect some attempts by the Government to address some of 
     the issues in this case, neither obviates the need for 
     injunctive relief here. As indicated throughout this Order, 
     the EO is subject to various qualifications. For instance, 
     Plaintiffs correctly assert the EO allows the government to 
     separate a migrant parent from his or her child ``where there 
     is a concern that detention of an alien child with the 
     child's alien parent would pose a risk to the child's 
     welfare.'' EO Sec. 3(b) (emphasis added). Objective standards 
     are necessary, not subjective ones, particularly in light of 
     the history of this case. Furthermore, the Fact Sheet focuses 
     on reunification ``at time of removal[,]'' stating that the 
     parent slated for removal will be matched up with their child 
     at a location in Texas and then removed. It says nothing 
     about reunification during the intervening time between 
     return from criminal proceedings to ICE detention or the time 
     in ICE detention prior to actual removal, which can take 
     months. Indeed, it is undisputed ``ICE has no plans or 
     procedures in place to reunify the parent with the child 
     other than arranging for them to be deported together after 
     the parent's immigration case is concluded.'' Thus, neither 
     of these directives eliminates the need for an injunction in 
     this case.''
       Judge Sabraw went on to say:
       ``The Executive Branch, which is tasked with enforcement of 
     the country's criminal and immigration laws, is acting within 
     its powers to detain individuals lawfully entering the United 
     States and to apprehend individuals illegally entering the 
     country. However, as the Court explained in its Order on 
     Defendants' motion to dismiss, the right to family integrity 
     still applies here. The context of the family separation 
     practice at issue here, namely an international border, does 
     not render the practice constitutional, nor does it shield 
     the practice from judicial review.''
       The judge went on to discuss the shameful lack of planning 
     that has characterized the Trump Administration's zero-
     tolerance policy, saying:
       ``[T]he practice of separating these families was 
     implemented without any effective system or procedure for (1) 
     tracking the children after they were separated from their 
     parents, (2) enabling communication between the parents and 
     their children after separation, and (3) reuniting the 
     parents and children after the parents are returned to 
     immigration custody following completion of their criminal 
     sentence. This is a startling reality. The government readily 
     keeps track of personal property of detainees in criminal and 
     immigration proceedings. Money, important documents, and 
     automobiles, to name a few, are routinely catalogued, stored, 
     tracked and produced upon a detainees' release, at all 
     levels--state and federal, citizen and alien. Yet, the 
     government has no system in place to keep track of, provide 
     effective communication with, and promptly produce alien 
     children. The unfortunate reality is that under the present 
     system migrant children are not accounted for with the same 
     efficiency and accuracy as property. Certainly, that cannot 
     satisfy the requirements of due process.''
       He also discussed the Trump Adminstration's problematic 
     treatment of those seeking asylum:
       ``Asylum seekers like Ms. L. and many other class members 
     may be fleeing persecution and are entitled to careful 
     consideration by government officials. Particularly so if 
     they have a credible fear of persecution. We are a country of 
     laws, and of compassion. We have plainly stated our intent to 
     treat refugees with an ordered process, and benevolence, by 
     codifying principles of asylum. The Government's treatment of 
     Ms. L. and other similarly situated class members does not 
     meet this standard, and it is unlikely to pass constitutional 
       Judge Sabraw concluded his order as follows:
       ``The unfolding events--the zero tolerance policy, EO and 
     DHS Fact Sheet--serve to corroborate Plaintiffs' allegations. 
     The facts set forth before the Court portray reactive 
     governance--responses to address a chaotic circumstance of 
     the Government's own making. They belie measured and ordered 
     governance, which is central to the concept of due process 
     enshrined in our Constitution. This is particularly so in the 
     treatment of migrants, many of whom are asylum seekers and 
     small children. The extraordinary remedy of classwide 
     preliminary injunction is warranted based on the evidence 
     before the Court. For the reasons set out above, the Court 
     hereby GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion for classwide preliminary 
     injunction, and finds and orders as follows:
       (1) Defendants, and their officers, agents, servants, 
     employees, attorneys, and all those who are in active concert 
     or participation with them, are preliminarily enjoined from 
     detaining Class Members in DHS custody without and apart from 
     their minor children, absent a determination that the parent 
     is unfit or presents a danger to the child, unless the parent 
     affirmatively, knowingly, and voluntarily declines to be 
     reunited with the child in DHS custody.
       (2) If Defendants choose to release Class Members from DHS 
     custody, Defendants, and their officers, agents, servants, 
     employees and attorneys, and all those who are in active 
     concert or participation with them, are preliminary enjoined 
     from continuing to detain the minor children of the Class 
     Members and must release the minor child to the custody of 
     the Class Member, unless there is a determination that the 
     parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child, or the 
     parent affirmatively, knowingly, and voluntarily declines to 
     be reunited with the child.
       (3) Unless there is a determination that the parent is 
     unfit or presents a danger to the child, or the parent 
     affirmatively, knowingly, and voluntarily declines to be 
     reunited with the child: (a) Defendants must reunify all 
     Class Members with their minor children who are under the age 
     of five (5) within fourteen (14) days of the entry of this 
     Order; and (b) Defendants must reunify all Class Members with 
     their minor children age five (5) and over within thirty (30) 
     days of the entry of this Order.
       (4) Defendants must immediately take all steps necessary to 
     facilitate regular communication between Class Members and 
     their children who remain in ORR custody, ORR foster care, or 
     DHS custody. Within ten (10) days, Defendants must provide 
     parents telephonic contact with their children if the parent 
     is not already in contact with his or her child.
       (5) Defendants must immediately take all steps necessary to 
     facilitate regular communication between and among all 
     executive agencies responsible for the custody, detention or 
     shelter of Class Members and the custody and care of their 
     children, including at least ICE, CBP, BOP, and ORR, 
     regarding the location and well-being of the Class Members' 
       (6) Defendants, and their officers, agents, servants, 
     employees, attorneys, and all those who are in active concert 
     or participation with them, are preliminarily enjoined from 
     removing any Class Members without their child, unless the 
     Class Member affirmatively, knowingly, and voluntarily 
     declines to be reunited with the child prior to the Class 
     Member's deportation, or there is a determination that the 
     parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child.
       (7) This Court retains jurisdiction to entertain such 
     further proceedings and to enter such further orders as may 
     be necessary or appropriate to implement and enforce the 
     provisions of this Order and Preliminary Injunction.''

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, let me read some of the words Judge Sabraw 
wrote last night in his order, in his conclusion, about the zero 
tolerance policy of separating children from their parents.

       The unfolding events--the zero tolerance policy [the judge 
     writes] serve to corroborate Plaintiffs' allegations. The 
     facts set forth before the Court portray reactive 
     governance--responses to address a chaotic circumstance of 
     the Government's own making. They belie measured and ordered 
     governance, which is central to the concept of due process 
     enshrined in our Constitution. This is particularly so in the 
     treatment of migrants, many of whom are asylum seekers and 
     small children. The extraordinary remedy of classwide 
     preliminary injunction is warranted based on the evidence 
     before the Court. For the reasons set out above, the Court 
     hereby GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion for classwide preliminary 
     injunction, and finds and orders as follows.

  It goes into detail, and I will not read it in its entirety since it 
is now going to be printed in the Record, but it reads, clearly, that 
the court is enjoining the government--the Trump administration--from 
separating minor children from their parents.
  It goes on to read that it also orders the Trump administration to 
reunify all class members with their minor children who are under the 
age of 5 within 14 days of the entry of this order, and defendants must 
reunify all class members with their minor children who are aged 5 and 
older within 30 days of the entry of the order. Defendants must 
immediately--and this is the government--take all steps necessary to 
facilitate the regular communication between class members and their 
  The court went on to say that within 10 days, the government--the 
defendants--must provide parents telephonic contact with their children 
if the parent is not already in contact with his or her child.
  Last Saturday, the Department of Health and Human Services issued

[[Page S4464]]

what I consider to be a rosy and misleading press release about how 
much information they had about the parents and their children and how 
much telephone communication was taking place. I will tell you, in 
having contacted various people who are well aware of the situation, 
they have really overstated the contact information as well as the 
context between parents and children. Now they are being tested. The 
court has told them to return these children to their parents.
  Last Friday, I was in Chicago at one of the agencies that was the 
custodian for 66 of these children who have been the victims of 
President Trump's zero tolerance policy. It was an experience I still 
remember and will not ever forget--of seeing six little children walk 
into a conference room, where I was sitting--little kids--and learning 
that two of them, who I thought might be twins because they had similar 
hairdos, were, in fact, as one of them said to me, ``just amigas,'' 
friends. One was 5 years old, and one was 6 years old.
  As a father, it is hard for me to remember my kids at that age, but I 
can sure visualize my grandkids for a moment, who are now 6, 7, and 8, 
if they were to be separated from their parents by thousands of miles 
for weeks at a time. That was the policy of zero tolerance--to put 
pressure on those who consider seeking protection or asylum in this 
  I just left a meeting downstairs with a person whom I admire greatly. 
His name is King Abdullah of Jordan. I admire him for so many things--
his efforts to find peace in the Middle East--but especially because 
that tiny Kingdom of Jordan, in the Middle East, has done something 
which should be a lesson to the world. That nation of 7 million 
Jordanians has accepted 3 million refugees. It is at their political 
peril for them to have that large of a population within their borders. 
Yet, time and time again, refugees have presented themselves to Jordan 
and have been given not only humane treatment but good treatment under 
the circumstances.
  The United States and many other nations have helped, and I am glad 
we have, for it is the right thing to do. Compare what we have done in 
the United States when it comes to refugees. Historically, we have 
accepted 75,000 to 100,000 refugees a year after careful screening, 
inspection, and vetting. In some cases, we have gone way beyond that.
  When the Cubans came over and said they wanted to escape Castro's 
communism, we opened our doors. Thank goodness, we did, as they have 
made a great addition to America. Three Members of the U.S. Senate are 
Cuban Americans, and I am sure they are very proud of their family 
heritage. We opened our doors to Cuban refugees. We opened our doors to 
refugees as well from the Soviet Union and to people who wanted to 
practice their Jewish religion and felt they were being discriminated 
against. We opened our doors for them. We opened our doors for the 
Vietnamese to come here after the war and to become part of America 
because they had been on our side and had fought for freedom in their 
country and had run the risk of being killed. Time and again, the 
United States has opened its doors.
  What has happened under this administration? First, the President 
announced last year that he was reducing the number of refugees to 
45,000 a year who would be allowed in America--a dramatic cutback. How 
many have been accepted so far this year as we are well over the 
halfway point of this fiscal year? There have been less than 16,000 
refugees. After careful screening, there have been less than 16,000.
  I believe we can do better. I believe there are those who are in need 
of help. I believe this is the definition of who we are as Americans--
the way we treat the people at our borders. If we are humane, if we are 
civilized, if we are caring, it is a message to the world. If we are 
the opposite, it is also a message to the world. Right now, we have to 
look at the scoreboard. The kids have won, and zero tolerance has lost.
  I hope now we can sit down and come up with a rational, reasonable 
approach. America cannot accept every person who wants to live here. I 
wish we could, but we can't. We have to have an orderly process, and we 
must have border security, but we need to do it with clarity and with 
humanity. We need to follow our Constitution, which the President, I 
hope, is reminded of after this decision last night.
  This decision reads that due process is a part of the Constitution 
and that the chaotic governance of this administration is not 
consistent with the Constitution and its principles. It is time now for 
the President to understand that and to reunite these children under 
the age of 5 within 14 days. Within 30 days, those under the age of 18 
need to be reunited as well. Then we can move forward and put this sad 
chapter in American history behind us.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I understand that the Democratic leader 
may be on his way, and I will yield the floor when he comes, but I do 
want to respond to the comments that have been made by my friend, the 
Senator from Illinois, the Democratic whip.
  I think what he is proposing is a false choice. He says we need to do 
away with zero tolerance when it comes to enforcing our immigration 
laws. Basically, what that means is an argument for the nonenforcement 
of our immigration laws. We can actually enforce our immigration laws 
and keep families together. Indeed, we have a proposal, which I know he 
is very familiar with, to do precisely that--proposed by Senator Tillis 
and Senator Cruz. I know he and Senator Feinstein are talking to them, 
and hopefully they can come up with a bipartisan solution. Yet the 
argument that somehow this is a new phenomenon is just not borne out by 
the facts.
  We all remember 2014, when the vast wave of unaccompanied children 
who came across the border from Central America was called a 
humanitarian crisis by President Obama. It was because we simply were 
not prepared to deal with the medical and other needs, feeding, 
housing, and taking care of these tens of thousands of children who 
were streaming across the border.
  Central America, basically, has some very serious problems which 
result in there being people who flee from those countries and seek, in 
many cases, asylum in the United States. Yet the idea that President 
Trump started something new when he decided to enforce the law or that 
this phenomenon of children coming across the border is something new 
is simply not the case. It has been happening for a long time.
  Back when President Obama was detaining families and was separating 
families, on some occasions when the accommodations were not available 
to deal with them together, we didn't hear a peep out of our friends on 
the other side of the aisle. When 1,500 unaccompanied children from 
Central America--those placed with sponsors here in the United States 
who were not American citizens, who were not even family members, and 
who had not had criminal background checks--were unaccounted for, as 
reported in a New York Times story recently, that was as a result of 
the flawed policies of the past in dealing with this humanitarian 
  We do agree on one thing; that is, that families ought to be kept 
together, and the President has said as much. Yet what every single 
Democrat across the aisle has agreed to is a bill by our friend from 
California Senator Feinstein, which, simply goes from zero tolerance, 
when it comes to violating the immigration laws, to zero enforcement.
  What that bill would result in is a return to the flawed catch-and-
release policies of the past because, if you can't enforce the law--if 
you don't have the immigration judges, if you don't prioritize these 
family cases--then you will have to give people notices to appear at 
some time in the future. Of course, most of them will not show up for 
their court hearings, and the cartels and human smugglers, whose 
business models depend on their ability to exploit these gaps in 
American law, will win. They will win because they will have 
successfully circumvented the enforcement of America's immigration 
laws. Those are the people who benefit the most from this.

  I am very sympathetic to the circumstances of these children and 
their families living in Central America, but as my colleague said, we 
simply can't accept anybody and everybody who wants to come to the 
United States under any and all circumstances. That

[[Page S4465]]

is why we have a legal system of immigration. That is why we have due 
process to consider asylum claims, which should be considered and 
should be expedited, in my view, while these family units are detained, 
and not simply say that we are going to go from zero tolerance of 
immigration law violations to zero enforcement and return to a catch-
and-release policy, which is associated with huge surges in additional 
illegal immigration. According to Manuel Padilla, the Rio Grande Border 
Patrol Chief, who I was with this last Friday, that is a big mistake.
  The American people understand that we need to enforce our 
immigration laws. They are as compassionate as we all would hope to be 
about keeping these families together as much as we can, but at some 
point we need to enforce our laws. In this case, that means family 
units need to be detained in a secure, safe, and humane facility, but 
then they need to present those claims to an immigration judge on a 
prioritized basis. If they don't meet the legal criteria, then we 
simply don't have any alternative but to return them to their home 
country. That is the law of the land.
  So 83 percent of the children in U.S. custody now came unaccompanied 
because their parents sent them from Central America by themselves. 
Only 17 percent came as part of a family unit. This is a longstanding 
problem, and we need to fix it. We have legislation that can do that, 
and we need to pass it this week in my view.
  I see the distinguished Democratic leader here.
  Mr. SCHUMER. I am not--keep going.
  Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator from Texas yield for a question?
  Mr. CORNYN. Sure.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic whip.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I would like to make one point and then 
ask a question.
  When President Obama, who was my friend and colleague in the Senate, 
came up with family detention policies under his administration, I 
objected, as well, and I can show the Senator from Texas the objection.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I am sorry; I did not mean to suggest that 
the Senator from Illinois didn't object back then, but my point is that 
Senator Obama--President Obama had the same policies that are now being 
objected to under President Trump.
  Mr. DURBIN. The question I have for the Senator from Texas is this: 
If our goal is to make sure that the person presenting himself or 
herself actually appears as scheduled for the required hearings to be 
considered for eligibility under American law, if that is our goal, I 
would like to suggest to the Senator from Texas--and I think he can 
find in his own State evidence of this--over 90 percent of those in 
that circumstance appear at a hearing, as required, if they have one of 
three things: legal counsel; second, case management, which is the 
counsel of groups like Catholic Charities or Lutheran family services; 
or in some circumstances, ankle bracelets, where the government can 
monitor where they are. Over 90 percent show up, as required, for a 
hearing. It costs as little as $4 or $5 a day. It costs over $300 a day 
to detain a family. It is certainly not in the best interests of 
taxpayers to spend an amount that is unnecessary. Wouldn't the Senator 
agree that we ought to look for alternatives to detention that would 
also guarantee the appearance of individuals?
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I would respond to my friend from Illinois 
that I think alternatives to detention are a reasonable thing to look 
at, but the point is that people need to show up for their court 
hearings because right now, without detention, based on catch-and-
release policies, these people simply fade away into the landscape and 
basically win the lottery when it comes to immigrating illegally to the 
United States without making a legitimate asylum claim.
  I would say on the representation issue that I certainly support pro 
bono legal counsel being allowed to represent the asylum seekers, and I 
believe that is the practice now. I would be reluctant to ask an 
American taxpayer to fund a lawyer for every immigrant who shows up at 
the border and makes a claim for an immigration benefit. I think that 
might be a bridge too far. But I do think that pro bono legal counsel 
makes a lot of sense.

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I thank my friends from Illinois and 
Texas for yielding the floor to me amidst that interesting debate.

                Family Separation and Asylum Processing

  Mr. President, yesterday a Federal judge ordered the Trump 
administration to immediately reunify the families who were separated 
by the administration's policy. It certifies what we in the Congress 
already expect--that the administration will expend all resources at 
its disposal to immediately reunite the over 2,000 families who have 
been separated. This should be the President's first order of business 
to undo the harm he has caused through his chaotic and cruel family 
separation policy.
  In addition to this effort, Democrats believe we should start 
addressing the root cause of the migrant crisis, attacking the disease 
as well as the symptoms. We believe that Central American countries 
should conduct asylum processing within their own countries. We believe 
the United States should help governments in Central America crack down 
on the ability of gangs and cartels to operate freely and ruthlessly in 
their countries. And we believe we should go after the drug cartels, 
smugglers, and drug traffickers with increased penalties and sanctions. 
There were robust efforts during the last administration to do exactly 
that, and they were showing progress. But President Trump, in 
shortsighted fashion, proposed significant cuts to the aid and 
resources used to fight the cartels and stop the violence in Central 
America. This is not only dangerous, but it also shows a basic lack of 
  There is a pretty simple reason people are fleeing Central America. 
It is the impunity of these gangs and cartels and the brutal violence 
they spread. Many of the young people who want to escape being killed 
are then forced to use smugglers and other coyotes and carry drugs into 
this country through no fault of their own. We should stop this there 
in ways that we have been successful in Colombia, and that would 
greatly reduce the number of people coming to the border. That would 
make things easier for our country, but it would also make their lives 
a lot better and safer if they could file an asylum claim in their own 
country and get it adjudicated quickly. This is what many Democrats are 
going to propose in about an hour. There are other things we can also 
do, but we are addressing this issue today.
  President Trump needs to end the inhumanity and chaos at the border. 
We have to develop a real strategy to go after the gangs and cartels in 
Central America, curbing the violence that sends migrants to our 
borders in the first place. Later today, I will be joining with several 
of my colleagues to discuss how we believe the United States should go 
about this.

                            China and Trade

  Mr. President, on China, I have long argued that the best way to make 
progress in our trade relationship with China is to be consistently 
tough until real concessions are won.
  China has flagrantly abused international trade rules and norms for 
more than a decade, stealing our intellectual property and know-how, 
illegally dumping artificially cheap goods into our markets, and 
denying blue-chip American companies access to their markets unless 
those companies sign away their know-how and intellectual property.
  Previous attempts to force China to change its behavior have been 
faulty and milquetoast, at best. Unsurprisingly, these efforts have 
largely failed.
  While we disagree on a lot of things, I was happy to hear President 
Trump talk as if he had learned from the lessons of the past. President 
Trump has, at times, pursued a tough, aggressive course of action 
against China, and I have applauded him when he has. But President 
Trump seems unable to consistently keep pressure on China. Every time I 
think he is going down the right path, he turns around and gives China 
a pass on something.
  Take the Chinese telecom giant ZTE, for example. Out of the blue, 
President Trump relaxed penalties on ZTE and loosened the restrictions 
on its sales in

[[Page S4466]]

the United States, despite the fact that it has been labeled a national 
security threat by our military. Why? It seemed to no end other than to 
placate President Xi, hardly our friend on economic issues.
  This morning, after threatening a tough new approach to limit China's 
ability to invest in the United States where national security was 
concerned, the Trump administration has once again backed off, it 
seems. Instead, the President seems to be endorsing a bill here in 
Congress to expand the authority of CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign 
Investment in the United States. That is a good provision in the NDAA. 
It passed with a filibuster-proof majority. An endorsement of the 
provision hardly means much because it is going to pass. Many of us 
wanted it to go further. Expanding CFIUS is not just for military and 
national security, but for economic security as well. But it is not 
sufficient--not sufficient.
  Mr. President, you are backing out again. President Xi is outfoxing 
you and outplaying you again. Once again, we get the tough talk and no 
  This happens over and over and over again with this President and 
this administration. Why are we waiting to impose real pressure on 
China for its efforts to undermine our Nation's economic wellspring? It 
is another example of President Trump starting down a tough path with 
China and then just veering off course for reasons unexplained, 
sometimes on a whim.
  It appears there is a total war in the administration over just how 
strong the President should be with China. One week he is pulled in one 
direction, and the next, the opposite. If we are going to convince the 
Chinese Government we are serious, the United States must be strong, 
tough, and consistent. Otherwise, the President's approach will not 
succeed in changing China's behavior--or convincing President Xi that 
he means business--to the detriment of American workers, American 
businesses, and the economy for generations to come.

                         Supreme Court Rulings

  Mr. President, there is one final topic, on the Supreme Court and 
what they did yesterday and today.
  Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that California was violating the 
First Amendment by requiring crisis pregnancy centers to provide 
information to their patients about abortions.
  It comes alongside a rule to affirm the President's travel ban in 
which the majority also bent over backward to accept President Trump's 
position. You would have to be living with your head in the sand over 
the past 2 years not to see a racial and religious animus behind the 
President's decision to ban travel into the United States from Muslim-
majority countries.
  Unfortunately, both cases were decided 5 to 4. Five conservative 
judges ruled against California law and the travel ban. Anyone watching 
the Bench at the moment ought to be shaking their heads at the 
political polarization of the Court.
  The abortion case makes it even worse. As Justice Breyer pointed out 
in his dissent, in 1992, there was a California case where the Supreme 
Court upheld a Pennsylvania law requiring a doctor to provide 
information about adoption services. In other words, clinics performing 
abortions, helping women, had to provide alternative information.
  Now the shoe is on the other foot. California passed a law that said 
that clinics that try to dissuade women from having abortions, which is 
their right, also had to provide information about abortion.
  The majority ruled one way in the one case and the opposite in the 
other case. If free speech works in the one case, why doesn't it work 
in the other? If the government can compel a doctor in Pennsylvania to 
provide women information about adoption, why can't the government 
compel someone in California to provide information to a woman about 
abortion? There is a total contradiction.
  The majority somehow argued there was a glaring difference between 
the two cases, but it is plainly sophistry. In fact, there was little 
to no difference between these two cases.
  Let me state it again exactly. If an abortion clinic should be 
required to give information about alternatives, why shouldn't an anti-
abortion clinic be required to do the same exact thing? Why does free 
speech apply to one and not the other? Why does lack of free speech fit 
one and not the other?
  Many Americans see this Court in a much more negative light than they 
used to. Chief Justice Roberts famously claimed in his confirmation 
hearings that he would ``call the balls and strikes'' as he sees them. 
Here we have the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court leading a majority 
departing from a clear precedent to affirm a conservative ideology, an 
anti-choice ideology. No one can see Chief Justice Roberts' decision in 
the California case as calling balls and strikes; instead, it is a 
wild, political pitch. And I would say to the Chief Justice: You are 
demeaning the Court you seek to uphold, in this type of contradiction, 
and the dissenting opinion showed its outrage at it.

  Just a moment ago, the Court ruled on the Janus decision. In the 
Janus decision, the Court said people had a First Amendment right not 
to join a union. That is a crazy idea cooked up by the conservative 
anti-labor movement and pursued relentlessly until a favorable 
collection of Judges would accept such a harebrained theory. The First 
Amendment and the right to organize are two totally separate things, 
but somehow the hard right first pays for these think tanks, which come 
up with these ideas, and then they assemble enough people in the Court 
who see things politically--not constitutionally, not legally, not 
ideologically--to affirm this decision.
  Unions are only 6 percent of private sector America. They are 
declining in membership, and it is a reason the middle class doesn't 
make more money even in this prosperous economy. This is an awful 
decision. It is going to increase economic polarization in this 
country. It is going to make it harder for middle-class people to earn 
a decent living. And sooner or later, people are going to get so angry 
that Lord knows what will happen.
  The American people are now seeing the results of a coordinated 
political campaign by deep-pocketed conservative interests to influence 
the bench all the way up to the Supreme Court. Justice Gorsuch, of 
course, and the current conservative majority on the Court are the 
capstone of these efforts, the result of an appalling decision by 
Senate Republicans to refuse President Obama a Supreme Court pick.
  Alongside the California ruling, the Roberts' Court affirmed a 
plainly discriminatory travel ban, unleashed a flood of unlimited, dark 
money in our politics, and scrapped a key pillar of the Voting Rights 
Act--all goals of the hard right, all having little to do with the 
Constitution or reading the law, all making America a more polarized, 
economically divided country.
  Opponents of these decisions and the President's policy should focus 
on the Supreme Court, whose thin majority will once again hang in the 
balance this November.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LANKFORD. 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. LANKFORD. Mr. President, today, Wednesday, is day 83,723 since 
the Senate first achieved a quorum and started work. No grand 
celebration there. That is 229 years, 2 months, and 22 days. In that 
time, this body has deliberated over some of the most difficult issues 
of our time--of any time--slavery, war, voting rights. They have all 
been difficult issues that our Nation has debated in this building.
  But lately it seems we have less and less debate and more and more 
empty-Chamber quorum calls. For the people who watch the debate in this 
room and watch an empty room and think ``Where is the debate happening 
in the Senate?'' I can assure you there is work being done. There is a 
lot happening in committee hearings right now. There is a lot happening 
in different offices on trying to work through the issues.
  Our days are busy and full, but for some reason, we are not getting 
to some of the biggest debates of the moment that need to be done and 
completed. We had a real push in the nomination process. We spent 100 
days in

[[Page S4467]]

the last 18 months just on a quorum call waiting for a nomination to 
come up. That didn't happened in the last five Presidents combined. 
There have only been 25 requests for additional time for any nominee in 
five Presidents. This time, in 18 months, there have been 100. It is 
slowing down the body. We have to fix that.
  We have to fix our budget process. Our appropriations process is 
working a little better this year, and that is good. We moved three 
bills last week. That is the first time that has happened in a decade 
in the Senate. That is good progress, but we have to complete the 
process so we don't end up with omnibus bills. That is going to take 
some reform. There are 16 of us--8 Republicans and 8 Democrats--who are 
meeting consistently to work on how to reform the process of our 
budgeting to make sure that we can fix that.
  So there is some work that needs to be done. There is also some 
reform that needs to be done. But as we deal with things like the farm 
bill this week--so far, we have not had amendments and votes on it--we 
have to reform the process on how we get through the farm bill, how we 
get through our appropriations process, and how we get through 
  We also need to work through things that are difficult, things like 
immigration. I have been in this body multiple times to talk about this 
issue, and I will continue to come back to this body to raise it. The 
challenge we have with immigration is that there seems to be no 
deadline to solve it, so Congress just delays actually working on 
immigration. When a deadline comes, Congress finds a way to get around 
it, or the courts step in and make some change and say: We are going to 
make some ruling, which delays a decision here, and it just gets 
delayed again.
  The Nation is once again looking at the issue of immigration because 
of what we are watching happen with families on the border. Americans 
are people of great compassion. We do not want to see families 
separated. But we also understand the basics of the law. So how do we 
deal with all these things together?
  I would say first, this body has to learn how to focus on solving the 
issue of immigration rather than just complaining about the issue of 
immigration. We can't have it come up every once in a while when it is 
in the news and then work on something else when the news stops 
focusing on it. We have to solve this issue.
  Last February, we had four different bipartisan bills that came 
before the Senate. All four of them failed. You would think that there 
would have been work to say: Let's combine them. Let's find the common 
ground between the four different bills, form a final bill, and pass it 
in the Senate. Instead, the Senate got distracted with something else 
and walked away.
  We have to solve the issues on immigration. What is currently 
separating families is not a new issue. Some people believe it might 
be, but it is not new. This comes out of the Flores decision from 1997. 
Every single President has struggled under this Flores decision from a 
court in California. That court said that you can only detain children 
for 20 days. Well, it takes 35 days to do a hearing. So the court set 
up an impossible situation where it takes 35 days to do a hearing and 
you can only hold children for 20 days. So every administration has had 
the same problem: Do I release people into the country and tell them to 
show up for what is called a notice to appear at a future court date so 
their family can stay together, or do I separate families?
  Previous administrations have said: I will just release people into 
the country and will tell them to show up at a hearing at a future 
date. Well, there are a couple of problems with that. One is that 
thousands upon thousands of those individuals never show up for their 
first hearing, the notice to appear. The vast majority beyond that, 
after they show up for their first hearing, are given what is called a 
notice of removal, which says: You don't qualify to be in the country 
legally, so you need to leave. The problem is that 98 percent of those 
individuals then don't leave. Once they get that notice of removal, 
they find a way to disappear into the country. They move to a new city, 
and they are gone.
  This administration is struggling with that, saying: Well, what we 
have created is an incentive to come into the country illegally. If you 
cross the border and bring your family, you will be released into the 
country, and then you can just disappear, and no one will ever try to 
find you.
  That is a problem with the legal system, period.
  I am not cold to immigration. Quite frankly, I am grateful we are one 
of the most open immigration countries in the world. We have 1.1 
million people a year who become legal citizens of the United States, 
going through the process the right way. I just spoke at a 
naturalization ceremony in Oklahoma City. If you ever come to one--and 
I encourage every American to go to one of the naturalization 
ceremonies, but take Kleenex with you. They are incredibly moving 
events--watching people from all over the world stand and raise their 
right hand and take their oath to become an American citizen, say the 
Pledge of Allegiance for the first time as an American, hold the little 
American flag and wave it, and seeing their family cheer them from the 
audience, saying: We are Americans together. It is incredibly moving to 
see that. There are 1.1 million people a year who do it the right way.
  Let me add one more number. Half a million people a day legally cross 
our southern border. Let me run that past this body again. Half a 
million people a day legally cross our southern border. We are not a 
nation that is closed to immigration. We are a nation that is open to 
immigration. Half a million people a day legally go through that 
process of crossing the border back and forth. That is just coming from 
the south to the north; that is not counting the people going from the 
north back to the south, back into Mexico.

  We are an open nation for immigration, but we have real issues that 
need to be resolved. Let me run through a couple of these.
  We have to solve the Flores issue. We shouldn't have an impossible 
situation to say: You can either release people into the country whom 
we know, by and large, will never show up for a court hearing or detain 
them and separate families. That is intolerable. This body can fix 
that, but no one has since 1997. It is time for us to be able to take 
ownership of that and to be able to fix that. We should not separate 
families, but neither should we just release them into the country and 
give them a notice to appear.
  Many people in this body may not know, but right now, if you called 
our Department of Justice and DHS and asked them: In the regions of the 
country, when is the next available court date for an immigration 
hearing for a notice to appear? They will tell you--because we have 
just checked--that the next available court date--if you are crossing 
the southern border right now, they will hand you a notice to appear 
for August of 2022--August of 2022. They will release you into the 
country on your own recognizance, hoping you will show up 4 years and 2 
months from now at the next available court hearing. That is 
  So what do we do? Let's start with some basics. Can we agree that we 
should add more immigration judges? We have 350 immigration judges in 
the country. Last year, this body agreed and voted to add another 150. 
It is still not close to what is needed. We have a backlog of 700,000 
immigration cases right now. It is not possible for that group of 
immigration judges to actually get through all of that.
  Can we agree to add more immigration judges so individuals get due 
process but don't have to wait 4 years to get due process? We should be 
able to agree on that.
  We should be able to agree on reforms to the process. It takes over 
700 days to hire a new immigration judge. That is a broken process for 
hiring. Can we agree that process needs to be fixed?
  Can we agree on basic southern border security? That used to not be a 
controversial thing. In 2006, this body passed something called the 
Secure Fence Act. It added 650 miles of fence and border onto our 
southern border. That vote passed with overwhelming support from this 
body, Republican and Democratic. Outspoken conservatives, such as Chuck 
Schumer, Joe Biden, and Senator Barack Obama, voted for the Secure 
Fence Act in 2006. This used to not be a partisan issue that we would

[[Page S4468]]

just have basic border security. So 650 miles of fencing is now on our 
southern border today because of the bipartisan Secure Fence Act that 
passed with overwhelming support from this body in 2006. Can we still 
agree that securing our southern border is a good thing or is that 
still a partisan issue? I hope it will not be. That should be a basic 
principle of trying to secure our southern border. Every Nation just 
wants to know who is coming in and out of our borders.
  Even for asylum seekers--there has been much in the news about 
asylum. Asylum seekers who go to the port of entry have not violated 
any law. They are going to a port of entry and saying: I request 
asylum. What is interesting from that is even if I go back to, let's 
say, 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, of the people who 
came to the border requesting asylum, after they got into the country, 
only 40 percent of them actually filed paperwork for asylum. Of that 40 
percent who actually filed paperwork for asylum, only 13 percent of 
them actually received asylum, and that is in the last year of the 
Obama administration.
  We should allow for asylum, but they should come to the ports of 
entry. That is the right spot to do it, not skip around the ports of 
entry, and when they are arrested for coming between the ports of 
entry, then claim: Now I want asylum.
  Those folks, the vast majority of them who claim they want asylum, 
never actually file the paperwork to get it. Once they are released 
into the country, they never follow through with the actual request. We 
should be able to fix some of those issues.
  We should also be able to fix the DACA issue. I have raised this in 
this body multiple times, and I have talked about it often at home. We 
have a couple of million kids who have grown up in this country whose 
parents illegally crossed the border when they were infants and 
children at the time and who have grown up in this country. They don't 
know another country. Now, their parents violated the law. Those kids 
did not violate the law. What do we do with them?
  The most simple principle, and that is what I hope we can agree on 
common ground is, let's secure the border. Let's take a couple years to 
make sure we secure the border, but let's also give a shot to those 
kids who are here with the DACA Program to be naturalized, to become 
citizens of the United States in the only country they have ever known.
  This shouldn't be that controversial either. Quite frankly, that 
opinion is agreed upon by President Obama and by President Trump.
  Back in February, over 70 Members of this body voted for a bill that 
allowed for naturalization of individuals in the DACA Program. We had 
four bills we voted on. None of them got 60 votes, but if you count up 
each of the people who voted for them on a bill that included 
naturalization of those kids, over 70 people voted for that in this 
body on some level.
  We have common agreement that we should do that. We can't seem to 
finish the work to actually do it though. We should be able to resolve 
it. We should be able to fix the issues of family separation. We should 
be able to solve basic border security issues. This is doable stuff, 
but we need this body to focus and to actually get it done.
  Every issue we debate is controversial. Some of them are louder and 
more controversial than others--I get that--but that is our job, to go 
through the difficult issues, read the Constitution, and talk to the 
people at home to deal with the issue and make a decision.
  I encourage this body to finish the work. We should be able to secure 
our border. We should deal with this issue of family migration. We 
should keep families together but actually go through the legal 
process, not just release them into the country for a hearing 4 years 
from now, for which they probably will not show up. We should do this 
and find that common ground.
  Let's work together. Let's finish the task that needs to be done on 
this and actually get this resolved.
  With that, 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.
  Mrs. CAPITO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                               Tax Reform

  Mrs. CAPITO. Mr. President, I rise today to highlight the 6-month 
anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. I would like to illustrate 
what it has meant to the people of West Virginia since President Trump 
signed this into law. I will speak in a larger sense, as well, 
regarding what a difference it has made in this country.
  We see it in the news every single day, and the benefits are really 
undeniable. Since Congress passed tax reform, we have seen incredible 
job creation--more than 1 million jobs, to be exact. We have seen 
unemployment drop to historic lows and wages are on the rise. Our small 
businesses and their employees are feeling optimistic again.
  When I travel throughout the State and visit our small businesses, 
there is a real hop in the step of those small business owners and 
those who work there because of their increased business, because of 
their ability to expand, and other things that they have wanted to do 
for years. So it really has been an incredible transformation.
  Only a few days ago, a ``CNBC News'' survey showed that 54 percent of 
Americans say the economy is ``good or excellent''--good or excellent. 
That is the highest percentage that has ever been recorded in the 10 
years that CNBC has been doing the survey.
  But even more important are the number of stories that I have heard 
of what has transpired since we did tax reform. In letters, in 
meetings, and everywhere around town, I have heard from West Virginians 
who are feeling the positive effects of tax reform. Our small 
businesses have been able to expand and hire new employees. They have 
been able to give back to their employees, whether in the form of 
bonuses or reaching out to their communities with more charitable 
donations. Others have been able to create jobs and hire more workers.
  Just this month, I received a letter from a constituent, Chris from 
Charleston, who owns an eye consulting business. Chris wrote that the 
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is ``legislation that has benefited small 
business owners all across the country and our folks back here in West 
Virginia.'' He said that as a result of the tax cuts, small businesses 
have hired more people, raised employee wages, and expanded 
opportunities and operations.
  He continued to talk about the other aspects of the tax cuts. He 

       That doesn't sound like a tax cut that only caters to the 
     rich and powerful. As each week passes, more and more of our 
     fellow Americans support the new tax code. I hear it from my 
     patients in the office all the time.

  Chris isn't alone. I have heard from families who are better able to 
cover expenses and invest in their children's education. When President 
Trump traveled to West Virginia this spring, we spoke to one family, 
the Ferrell family from Huntington. Thanks to tax reform, the Ferrells 
were able to open a 529 savings account for the first time to help 
support their children in their education.
  I have heard from families who have been able to afford high-speed 
internet for the first time. That might sound like a little thing to a 
lot of people, but it is a big thing to a family and to a child who 
comes home from school and can't do their homework because they don't 
have connectivity. Because of that change, one more student in our 
State is able to complete their homework at home. They no longer have 
to feel left behind when they get back to school. That is a powerful 
  But it is not just West Virginia's small businesses and working 
families who are benefiting from tax reform. In our State, these 
benefits are helping to improve entire communities.
  During President Trump's roundtable--again, in West Virginia--we also 
heard from Tony, who is a rural mail carrier. Tony and his wife Jessica 
live in Hurricane, WV, with their two sons. Tony explained that because 
of tax reform, their family was not only able to make home 
improvements, but they were also able to make more charitable 
  Specifically, they took extra money that they are seeing in their 
paychecks and gave it to their church, specifically for the faith-based 
initiative that has

[[Page S4469]]

been a very successful resource in fighting the opioid epidemic that we 
see throughout our State. It is no secret that this opioid epidemic is 
severely damaging and having devastating consequences in our State with 
our communities and our families. But because of tax cuts and Tony and 
Jessica's generosity, at least one community has extra support that can 
be used to fight back against the drug crisis.
  I know this is not an isolated incident. It is one that illustrates a 
very important point: Tax reform is making real and meaningful changes 
in West Virginia and across the country. That is certainly not crumbs 
to us in the Mountain State.
  Just think that it has only been 6 months--only 6 months--and already 
4 million workers have received bonuses across the country. Consumer 
confidence is at an all-time, 18-year high, and 102 utility companies 
have cut their rates. Think of what that does for the folks at the 
lower end of the economic scale. When your power bill is $50 or $100 
less or even $25 less a month, that makes a difference. That makes a 
real difference. And more than 8,000 low-income communities have been 
designated as opportunity zones.
  I am excited to see what else is ahead for the State of West Virginia 
and for all Americans thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. I am excited 
to continue building on the incredible momentum that we have created, 
and I am excited to continue delivering pro-growth solutions that will 
help to improve lives all across this country.

                         Tribute to Dennis Frye

  On another note, Mr. President, I was just visited by Dennis Frye, 
who is a retiring park ranger in Harpers Ferry. He has been a good 
friend to me. He is a historian of the highest degree on the Civil War 
and the critical battles that were fought in and around Harpers Ferry 
and in that region of our State and in Virginia and Maryland.
  I want to thank him for his service, for his 42 years, 32 of those in 
the Park Service. He is a public servant who will never be forgotten in 
our region. I know he is going to continue to give back to the 
  So I want to say thank you to Dennis for his depth of knowledge, for 
his appreciation for our history, and for his appreciation of what we 
can really learn about our future if we look back at our history.
  So thank you to Dennis Frye.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I rise to address an amendment that I 
worked on with my colleague Senator Corker from Tennessee. It is an 
amendment that I hope we are going to get a vote on today because I 
think it is timely, it is important, and it is really a measure that 
would simply restore to Congress a responsibility that the Constitution 
assigns to Congress.
  So what am I talking about? I am talking about the amendment that we 
have crafted that would simply require that before a President--this 
President or any other President--can invoke section 232 of our trade 
law, which is the provision that grants the President special powers 
when the national security of America is threatened or is at risk and 
gives him the power to impose tariffs in that situation, what this 
amendment would do is that it would say that when a President makes the 
determination that he wants to impose tariffs because it is essential 
for the security of our country, he could do so as long as he has the 
assent from Congress. It would require an expedited process and a 
simple majority vote. It couldn't be dragged out. It couldn't be 
filibustered, but it would ultimately be congressional responsibility.
  Now, why do I say that this would be restoring to Congress its 
constitutional power? Well, it is because the Constitution is very 
unambiguous about this. Article I, section 8, clause 1 states that 
``the Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, 
Imposts and Excises.''
  It goes on from there. Duties are tariffs, and I don't think anybody 
disputes that. So article I, section 8, clause 1 assigns that 
responsibility to Congress.
  Clause 3 goes on further to make it clear that this is Congress's 
responsibility, by stating that the Congress shall have the power ``To 
regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.'' Well, the imposition of 
duties clearly is an exercise in regulating commerce with foreign 
  Now, over time the Congress has ceded authority in this area--
unwisely, in my view--to the Executive, and that has been going on for 
decades. There is no question about it. The Executive now has a lot of 
authority under powers that Congress has delegated to the President. 
Frankly, it is part of a broader trend of congressional powers that are 
being delegated to the executive branch, to regulators, agencies, and 
to the Cabinet. I think it is a mistake. I think this is a 
congressional responsibility. We ought to take that responsibility, and 
we ought to take it seriously.
  Why do I think it is important in this particular case? Because, in 
my view, this section 232 provision is being misused. It is meant to 
ensure that our Defense Department can procure defensive materials 
needed in time of war. That was the real motivation behind creating 
this power for the President to block foreign trade in the event that 
our national security depended on it. What do we have instead? We have 
this provision being invoked as a way to impose tariffs on some of our 
closest allies, our closest friends, and most important trading 
partners--in fact, the Canadians, the Mexicans, and the European 
Union--over very small amounts of steel that we import. In the case of 
Canada, it is really quite amazing. Do we have a closer ally than our 
next-door neighbor, Canada, the country that sends troops to fight 
alongside ours whenever we have a need to do that, a country with whom 
we have massive amount of trade in both directions, a country with whom 
we have a balance of trade overall, a country where we actually have a 
surplus in steel? What we are doing is we are imposing taxes on 
Americans, taxes on my constituents if they choose to buy steel from 
Canada, and we are saying that is necessary for national security 
purposes. Of course, it is not. It has nothing to do with national 
security, and the Secretary of Commerce admitted as much before our 
committee last week when he said what it is really about is getting the 
Canadians to agree to the changes the administration wants to make in 
NAFTA. Well, I don't agree with those changes in the first place.
  So we are misusing a national security element of our law to punish 
American consumers for products that originate from one of the 
friendliest countries on the planet with respect to our country, and I 
think this is a problem. By the way, it is not the first time that we 
have had really dubious trade policy from the administration. I totally 
disagreed with the Mexican sugar deal that was negotiated. It is a 
protectionist bill that treats domestic sugar growers very, very well. 
They get an artificially high price for their sugar, and all of us who 
are consumers of sugar pay too high a price. Then we had tariffs 
imposed on solar panels and washing machines. We now are finding that, 
first, we had tariffs on Canadians, Mexicans, Europeans, and South 
Koreans. Then, there was relief. But, then, that expired, and now the 
tariffs are back.
  We have gone too far down the road. This has become very disruptive. 
This is bad for our economy, it is bad for my constituents, and, 
fundamentally, it is a responsibility that we have. It is in the 
Constitution. It says so.
  So what this amendment does is that it simply says: Look, the 
President can invoke 232; the President can invoke national security if 
he sees fit, but he has to come back to Congress for an expedited up-
or-down vote.
  Frankly, that is exactly what our responsibility is. This bill is 
relevant. The ag community is more adversely affected by the 
retaliation against these ill-conceived tariffs than any other sector 
of the economy I can think of. This is the bill that addresses ag 
policy. This is the right moment to have this debate and to decide 
whether we want to take the responsibility that the Constitution 
assigns to us or not.
  By the way, I get that not everybody agrees with what Senator Corker 
and I and others are trying to do, but I hope everybody acknowledges 
that the role of the Senate is to debate and vote on tough issues. That 
is part of what we are sent here to do--to decide what our policy will 
be--and that necessarily includes having a debate and having a vote.

[[Page S4470]]

  So I think my colleague from Tennessee is going to make a request 
that we be able to consider this amendment and vote on this. I 
wholeheartedly support this effort. I think it is very, very important.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. CORKER. Mr. President I want to thank my friend from Pennsylvania 
for his comments and for his leadership on issues relative to free 
trade and other important issues to our Nation. I just want to 
reiterate for a minute, before I ask for this amendment to be called 
up, the fact that this particular amendment, No. 1, is cosponsored by 
14 people of various ideologies, on both sides of the aisle. Senator 
Flake, who is here on the floor, is a cosponsor of this amendment. It 
is probably one of the most supported amendments we are going to vote 
on as it relates to the farm bill.
  Is the farm bill the right place? Absolutely. Farmers around our 
country are being hurt by this administration's trade policies, and 
more than 20 farm bills could help them. So it is very important for us 
to address this issue now.
  Some of my friends on the other side of the aisle--by the way, we 
have many people on the other side of the aisle supporting this 
legislation, this amendment--have said: Well, we don't want to hurt our 
ability to impose tariffs on China.
  This has nothing to do with that. As the Senator from Pennsylvania 
mentioned, the President has used section 201 of the Trade Act to put 
in place tariffs on solar panels and on washing machines. He did that 
in January. The additional tariffs that he is putting in place on China 
are under section 301.
  What this amendment narrowly focuses on is the abuse of authority 
that the administration is utilizing to put tariffs in place on Canada, 
Mexico, and on many of our allies, especially in Europe, and what he is 
doing is citing national security. It is dubious. All of us know that 
it has nothing whatsoever to do with national security, but the reason 
the President is using this is that he doesn't have to prove anything 
to use it. Under the other sections, you have to deal with the WTO or 
the ITC, and you have to actually make a case for what it is you are 
  When you use section 232, no case has to be made. He can just do it. 
Therefore, because of this abuse of authority, that is the reason we 
believe the President ought to be free to negotiate these.
  Sure, he is the leader of our Nation, but once he completes those 
negotiations, if he is going to use section 232 of the Trade Act, we 
believe he should come to Congress, as was laid out by the Senator from 
  With that, I ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment 
to call up amendment No. 3091.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I reserve the right to object.
  My colleague raises concerns about the effect of retaliatory tariffs 
on our farmers and others. I couldn't agree more, but we should not pit 
farmers against steelworkers. Only a few days after Candidate Trump 
became President-elect Trump, my first correspondence with him was 
about how we do trade policy in the next few years. One of the 
conditions--one of the admonitions, if you will--was that you don't 
play off one industry against another. You don't play off agriculture 
against autos or steel or chemicals or anything else. I think my 
colleagues agree that it benefits all Americans if we stop China 
cheating, if we force them to play by the rules.
  I would say to my colleagues today--to Senator Toomey and Senator 
Corker--that I understand they have some bipartisan support on this, 
but I would say that probably the worst thing you do for America's 
farmers is to jeopardize passage of the farm bill today. I have spoken 
with Senator Roberts and Senator Stabenow about that, and that is 
exactly what this amendment would do.
  The amendment would gut, most importantly, one of our trade 
enforcement tools, a tool Congress passed and enhanced in the Finance 
Committee just in the last couple of years to ensure we protect the 
industries necessary to defend our country.
  I know my colleague from Tennessee generally opposes the President's 
trade agenda. I think he does that from an intellectually honest 
position, but that is not justification for completely undoing a 
decades-old statute that is one of the few tools we have to defend 
national security interests against distortions in the global market.
  The steel and aluminum tariffs the President has put in place are 
long overdue actions to defend against the further shrinking of two 
sectors critical to national defense. Senator Toomey knows this in the 
western part of his State, as I know it in mine. I know my colleagues 
agree that excess steel production capacity in China is troubling. We 
are talking about a country that now has the capacity to produce half 
of the world's steel, close to half of the smelt, and half of the 
world's aluminum. It has affected the global market. It has made steel 
overcapacity a global problem.
  We know that China puts people to work because they can't afford to 
have tens of millions of young men unemployed in the country. They 
subsidize their energy, water, capital, and land. They have dozens of 
government-owned enterprises. They want to keep their people at work. 
They cheat when they do. That is very simple. We have an administration 
now that is finally willing to take action and defend our highly 
competitive steel industry and steel workers.
  I know what a competitive steel plant looks like. I was at 
ArcelorMittal in Cleveland, 7 miles from my house, only a week ago. 
That is the first steel mill in the world that has been able to produce 
raw steel with one person-hour of labor. Think of that, a ton of steel 
produced by one person-hour. That tells you how productive our plants 
are, but against China cheating and subsidizing nearly all of the 
components--we simply can't do that.
  The State of Tennessee, perhaps, has been lucky to avoid the 
devastation brought to steel towns, like Steubenville, Yorkville, 
Martins Ferry, Warren, and Lorain, all cities in Ohio, up and down the 
Mon River in Pennsylvania--Senator Toomey said the same thing--all as a 
result of China's excess capacity.
  The shuttered steel mills and thousands of steel workers in Ohio who 
lost their jobs are constant reminders for my State that this trade 
enforcement action by the President was long overdue. We have to have 
steel and aluminum sectors in this country to defend ourselves. It is 
that simple. We will not have these critical sectors if our steel and 
aluminum producers can't keep their doors open.
  This section of the statute, 232, was Congress's way, some time ago, 
of acknowledging there are connections between trade and national 
security. Imports can undermine our national security. Congress has 
recognized that for years. There should be ways for the President to 
take action when that is the case.
  The Corker amendment fundamentally rejects that idea and hamstrings 
the President's ability to protect America's national security 
interests. Even worse, the Corker amendment would immediately remove 
the 232 steel and aluminum tariffs, including those on China. Why would 
any colleagues vote to let China off the hook?
  Just look at the bipartisan effort to pass the Foreign Investment 
Risk Review Modernization Act, which passed down the hall, I believe, 
with only two ``no'' votes. There is broad bipartisan support also for 
ensuring that the President take a tough stance with ZTE, which he has 
not been wild about doing. But for some reason, when it comes to 
aluminum and steel, it is OK to let China off the hook. It makes no 
  I know some of my colleagues who support this amendment will say that 
they would support the President's actions if they were targeted just 
to China. They think the Corker amendment is necessary because the 
President has applied these tariffs to our allies. But steel 
overcapacity is a global problem. It needs a global solution. If we 
don't take a more comprehensive action, China will cheat their way into 
those other markets. Ask ArcelorMittal, ask Nucor, ask AK Steel, ask 
U.S. Steel, just to name a few domestic producers we have in my State. 
They have all seen the tricks China uses to work around our anti-
dumping and countervailing duty laws.

[[Page S4471]]

  Look at the findings of Ambassador Lighthizer's recent report on 
China's intellectual property theft. He found that China was stealing 
about $50 billion of intellectual property from the United States every 
single year. The evidence is clear.
  I don't even particularly fault China because they are acting in 
their national interests. Maybe we should try to do the same thing. 
China is determined to gain U.S. market share in technological 
advances, and they will stop at nothing to get it.
  I agree that we should work with our allies, and this administration, 
to a degree, has. They have negotiated agreements with South Korea, 
Brazil, Argentina, and Australia. Some of our colleagues are concerned, 
rightly, about Canada and Mexico being covered by the tariffs. I share 
that concern. But gutting trade enforcement is not the way to fix that.
  I have worked with the administration to reach a solution through 
negotiations; I encourage my colleagues to do the same. I spoke to 
Ambassador Lighthizer again late last night. We are in a holding 
pattern with NAFTA talks until Mexico's elections, in about a week. But 
soon after that, NAFTA talks will pick right up. Steel and aluminum 
tariffs will be part of that dialogue, as they should be. Because 
Canada and Mexico have such close proximity to our market, they are 
primary targets for Chinese transshipment. We have to guard against 
that or the section 232 tariffs simply will not be effective.
  I am confident an agreement with our NAFTA partners can be reached. I 
hope it is reached soon. Canada and Mexico are important parts of the 
North American steel supply chain. They are important partners in 
making sure our efforts to address steel overcapacity are effective.
  The tariffs have been effective. Just yesterday, Republic Steel 
announced that one of its rolling mills in Lorain, OH, will restart in 
September. In Granite City, IL, 800 steelworkers were called back to 
work. The Corker amendment would threaten these new jobs and would 
thwart other announcements of steel mills restarting in the United 
  To summarize, the Corker amendment would permanently undermine a 
longstanding section of statute that makes sure the United States has 
the industries necessary to defend itself. It would let bad actors, 
like China, off the hook, able to flood our markets with unfairly 
traded steel. It disregards ongoing negotiations with our NAFTA 
partners. It threatens the improvements seen in our steel and aluminum 
industries since the tariffs were imposed.
  For all those reasons, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Ernst). Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. CORKER. Madam President, I don't even know where to start. The 
Senator from Ohio is a friend of mine. We came in together at the same 
time. He has written books on labor and trade, and I respect the fact 
that he knows a great deal about the topic. We serve together on the 
Banking Committee, and I respect him.
  Much of what he just said was focused on China. I have never heard of 
a trade policy where you have a country like China, which is, in fact, 
dumping steel around the world because it is in their interest--I have 
never heard of a trade policy where you punish your friends in order to 
get at someone who is doing something to you. So we are punishing 
Canada and Mexico.
  We are fortunate to live in the neighborhood we live in, to have the 
neighbors we have. We are punishing our European allies, who have been 
with us for centuries, in order to get at China. It makes no sense.
  As a matter of fact, I haven't heard a person who has gone to the 
White House to talk about what they are putting in place--a trade 
policy--come back over here and be able to articulate anything coherent 
about that policy. I haven't heard a single soul be able to explain to 
me why we would punish our allies in Europe and our neighbors next door 
in order to get at China.
  Section 232 has nothing to do with China. That is absolutely not 
true; it has nothing to do with China. China is being punished by 201 
and 301, and we are punishing our allies by abusing a national security 
section called 232. So I don't know what to say.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Will the Senator yield?
  Mr. CORKER. Let me finish one more thing before I yield, and I will 
gladly yield.
  People in our Nation are being hurt today. People are being hurt. We 
saw the Harley-Davidson issue, where they are going to move some of the 
jobs overseas to avoid these tariffs. Other companies are going to be 
doing the same.
  Right now, farmers are being hurt around our country. On July 1, a 
whole other set of countermeasures is coming in from other countries. 
On July 6, there will be a whole other set of countermeasures coming 
  I just want the record to be clear. The Senator from Ohio, my friend, 
will not even allow us to vote. If he disagrees with this policy, he 
can vote against it. He is not even allowing us to vote on something 
that could ease and stop the pain that is being inflicted on our 
country by a trade policy that is not coherent, that is being made up 
on a daily basis, and that has nothing whatsoever to do with what China 
is doing with steel and aluminum.
  I don't know what this body has become when you can't even vote on an 
issue that is current, that is damaging farmers more than 20 farm bills 
could make up for.
  With that, I yield the floor to my friend from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Madam President, I thank my colleague from Tennessee.
  I will put aside how stunned I was to hear that my colleague from 
Ohio has suggested that maybe we want to emulate the Communist-managed 
economy of China as a good model for economic development. That is just 
breathtaking to me. But I really want to stress the point that the 
Senator from Tennessee made, and that is the fact that this amendment 
has nothing to do with China.
  We can go on all day about how outrageous some Chinese behavior is in 
the trade space. It is true; there is really bad behavior, and, by the 
way, we need to address that.
  We would be better able to address things like the theft of 
intellectual property and porous technology transfer if our allies were 
working with us to address that outrageous behavior. But it is harder 
to get your allies to work with you when you are hitting them with 
tariffs and the excuse is national security.
  Let me just put a little bit of scale to this. Our colleague 
suggested how important it is that these industries survive. I 
completely agree. Domestic producers produce 75 percent of all the 
steel we consume. We import about 25 percent of it. Do you know how 
much of that comes from China? About 2 percent of the 25 percent. We 
don't import steel from China; that is the reality.
  We do import a little bit of steel. The No. 1 source is Canada, which 
buys more steel from us than we buy from them.
  So that is our national security threat; that is why we need to hit 
my constituents with a tax when they choose to buy those kinds of steel 
the Canadians happen to specialize in and Americans don't. This makes 
no sense at all.
  Finally, my last point is this: We have sincerely held differences of 
opinions on this. Why can't we vote? Isn't that what the Senate is here 
for? Let's debate this, let's consider this, and let's have a vote. I 
didn't think the purpose of the Senate was to avoid votes that people 
think are tough or challenging or that they even disagree with. I fully 
accept disagreement. I don't expect unanimous agreement on the outcome, 
on the policy. But why in the world is this a body that can't have a 
debate and vote about something as timely, important, and relevant as 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. CORKER. Madam President, I will be very brief. I know the Senator 
from Ohio wants to speak, and the Senator from Wyoming has been 
  People in our Nation are being hurt today. Americans are being taxed 
heavily. A tariff is a tax on the American people. What the Senator 
from Ohio is doing is saying that the Senate should not even vote on a 
measure to alleviate the pain that Americans are going to feel and the 
jobs that are going to be

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lost over the next couple of months as this trade war continues.
  I am just disappointed. I cannot believe it. With the zeal with which 
we both came to the Senate 11\1/2\ years ago to debate and deal with 
the big issues of our Nation and to have an amendment that is supported 
in a bipartisan way when people know that the trade policy being put 
forth by this administration is being made up on a daily basis and they 
know that jobs are going to be lost and farmers are already hurt, we 
cannot even vote, even though we may disagree, on an amendment.
  So on this day, June 27, let it be known that on a bill that is very 
relevant because of the pain that farmers are going through, we were 
kept from voting on a measure that would have alleviated an incoherent 
policy from continuing as it relates to trade.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. BROWN. Madam President, I appreciate Senator Corker's comments. I 
appreciate a little less those of Senator Toomey, who tried to say that 
I was thinking that the People's Republic of China has an economy we 
should emulate.
  What I actually said--and I have seen him do this before. What I 
actually said is that China's Government fights for its national 
interests by putting people to work, and our trade policy, for 25 
years--since NAFTA, since PNTR, since CAFTA, since South Korea, many of 
them pushed by Presidents whom I have stood up for--has undermined 
American national security and domestic security. So I just reject 
  But I appreciate Senator Corker's comments about voting on this. This 
is a major change in policy, with no legislative hearings, with no real 
discussion or debate. It is a bit rich when the majority party talks 
about our not allowing votes when, to start with, there was the Supreme 
Court nominee of 3 years ago and all the times we tried to do a 
transportation bill, important in our Banking Committee, as Senator 
Corker knows. He wasn't really part of the obstruction, but I just find 
it a bit rich.
  The reason is that Senator Hatch has already said he wants to do 
hearings to really understand what it would mean to roll back years of 
having these trade remedies, like 232. What would it mean?
  We have lost 7,000 jobs in the steel industry in my State. I don't 
know the number in Western and Central Pennsylvania--in Senator 
Toomey's State--but I want to move quickly on having these real 
discussions and real debates. Having a vote on a bill that nobody 
really understands, except it is reacting to the President's sometimes 
bungled positions and attempts on trade enforcement--I share that 
frustration. I am his ally on this, but I have been frustrated, too, 
with the back-and-forth on which countries are in and which countries 
are out.

  Fundamentally, tariffs are a temporary tool. They are not a trade 
policy used by the President, in this case to force a discussion and a 
real policy about what to do with China's excess capacity, where half 
the world's steel can be made in one country, and they put people to 
work and undermine international trade laws by doing it. People in my 
State have paid the price, as they have all over the country.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. CORKER. Madam President, this amendment has nothing to do with 
China. This amendment deals with Canada, Mexico, our European allies, 
and other countries. I guess when we go back home this week and we talk 
to our constituents and they talk to us--I had a member of the UAW 
write a letter to the editor thanking me for these efforts that are 
underway to stop these tariffs that are killing the automobile industry 
or will kill the automobile industry that exists in Ohio and Tennessee. 
But I guess what I will tell him is, well, we couldn't vote on a simple 
measure that would allow Congress to vote up or down on tariffs the 
President negotiates. But what we are going to do, while you lose your 
jobs, while you pay 25 percent more for steel and aluminum, while these 
industries go away, I will tell them: Well, we are going to have 
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.

                   Budget and Appropriations Process

  Mr. ENZI. Madam President, I am so glad that you are presiding at 
this time because I know you are part of the Joint Select Committee on 
Budget Reform. I want to address that a little bit.
  Earlier this week, the Senate passed its version of the fiscal year 
2019 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction 
and Veterans Affairs spending bills. Prior to this week, the last time 
the Senate had passed its version of a regular appropriations bill--not 
a supplemental or an omnibus bill--was more than 2 years ago.
  I commend Chairman Shelby and the members of the Appropriations 
Committee for their work in getting us this far and for their 
commitment to restoring a more regular process for the consideration of 
appropriations measures. I hope that in the weeks to come, we will be 
able to process more such measures in a similarly productive manner.
  It was a long road getting to this point. Last February, after a 
brief government shutdown that followed an immigration policy dispute 
and a yearlong stalemate on appropriations, Congress and the 
administration agreed to legislation establishing new discretionary 
spending caps for this fiscal year and the next and providing a process 
for budget enforcement--something normally done by the Budget 
  This latest budget agreement follows a string of 2-year budget deals, 
each reached under the threat of a shutdown. In fact, frustration with 
the current process has grown so great that through the February 
legislation, Congress created the Joint Select Committee tasked with 
improving our broken budget and appropriations process. I commend the 
Joint Committee and its leaders, Co-Chairman Womack and Co-Chairwoman 
Lowey, for their work on this subject. Our budget and appropriations 
process is clearly in need of reform, and I wish them success in this 
  Today, I rise to share some of my thoughts and experiences on this 
subject, having led bipartisan efforts in the Senate Budget Committee 
to explore and reform the budget process.
  As my colleagues know, the Senate Budget Committee sets the top-line 
spending levels that the Appropriations Committee then divides each 
year among the various departments and accounts. The Appropriations 
Committee does the specific spending. While there are many potential 
improvements we could make in this process, I will focus my remarks at 
this time on just three points.
  First, the annual spending process will never truly improve so long 
as we are willing to hold it hostage to larger ideological or political 
battles. Both sides have been guilty of this in the past, and until we 
are willing to say ``no more,'' no process reform will succeed. I am 
hopeful that the progress we are seeing now on fiscal year 2019 
appropriations bills is a sign that we have reached a tipping point and 
are willing to work together, as the American people expect us to do.
  The second topic I want to address is the need to move to a biennial 
funding cycle. I have been pleased to hear some members of the joint 
committee voice support for this concept, and I hope that consensus on 
this point continues to build.
  The appropriations process--the spending process--has rarely worked 
as intended. In all but 4 years between 1977 and 2018, continuing 
resolutions, or CRs, were enacted because of the failure of Congress to 
complete all of the regular appropriations bills before the beginning 
of the new fiscal year. We have actually had more than 180 continuing 
resolutions signed into law over the last four decades. In this fiscal 
year alone, we required five.
  These short-term continuing resolutions keep the government funded 
while we continue our work, but their recurring nature demonstrates the 
problems with our current process. The individual agencies have to 
operate on last year's budget until something new is approved. All too 
often, by the time Congress can agree on how to appropriate money for a 
given year, the result is a massive omnibus that funds the entire 
government. Members are

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then presented with a choice--either pass the bill or shut down the 

  I have long believed that one of the most important things we can do 
is fix this process. The way to do that would be to move to a biennial 
appropriations system. By providing funding for 2 years instead of 1, 
Congress would immediately make the consideration of regular 
appropriations measures more likely. Instead of subjecting itself to a 
nearly perpetual annual cycle of developing and attempting to pass 12 
appropriations bills for the next fiscal year, which starts October 1, 
Congress could spread those bills over 2 years, allowing more time to 
develop and scrutinize them and give 2 years' worth of planning to 
  Not only would a biennial appropriations process help Congress 
execute its power of the purse, it would also benefit the Federal 
agencies too. Agencies would have more time to devote to developing and 
to executing long-term strategies and would finally have some certainty 
in their budgets.
  Nowhere is the need for this more obvious than at the Department of 
Defense. The Budget Committee has heard repeatedly from Defense 
Department leaders that the one thing they want more than anything is 
budgetary certainty. Annual spending fights and the inability to plan 
under continuing resolutions have wreaked havoc on the Department's 
workforce and contracting efforts.
  Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer recently delivered public 
remarks in which he identified $4 billion in waste due to a lack of 
financial stability. He said:

       Since 2001, we have put $4 billion in a trash can, poured 
     lighter fluid on top of it, and burned it. It's enough money 
     that it can buy us the additional capacity and capability 
     that we need. Instead, that $4 billion of taxpayer money has 
     been lost because of inefficiencies [caused by] continuing 

  Transitioning to a biennial appropriations process could help solve 
that problem.
  Last Congress, I introduced legislation that would continue the 
budget resolution process on an annual cycle in order to allow for top-
line adjustments and reconciliation instructions as events warrant but 
would move toward a bifurcated biennial appropriations process. Under 
such a proposal, appropriations would continue to be divided among 12 
different bills, 6 of which would be adopted in the first session of 
Congress, and 6 would be adopted in the second session. Maybe we could 
even make it so the six toughest ones would be done right after an 
election and the six easier ones, just before an election, to take more 
of the politics out of it.
  By cutting in half the number of bills required to be adopted 
annually, Congress could create space for itself to devote more time 
and attention to oversight and other national priorities. If adopted, I 
believe this proposal would yield a more sustainable and successful 
budget and appropriations process--a goal I believe both parties share.
  I thank Speaker of the House Ryan for his comments this morning in 
which he suggested that we should do it on a biennial basis and that 
they should be divided into two segments of six, each for a 2-year 
period, so they would stagger how they are approached.
  My third suggestion is a minor one but could have some of the most 
significant impact on the budget. The first one is, change the name of 
the Budget Committee. People think that we actually make all of those 
spending decisions. We don't. We set the top line for the 
Appropriations Committee, which is also improperly named, so they can 
do their work. My suggestion would be that we stop calling the Budget 
Committee the Budget Committee and call it the Debt Control Committee. 
We ought to be and are responsible for seeing how much revenue is 
coming in and what some of the different allocations are and doing a 
lot of reviews of that and checking to see what the debt-to-GDP ratio 
is going to be and how much the debt limit is going to go up, which 
becomes another subject of debate. If that were the Debt Control 
Committee, all of that could be done in committee, with one approval 
here on the floor.
  The other half of that suggestion is that the Appropriations 
Committee ought to be called the Budget Committee because they really 
are the ones in control of the spending, in control of the budget. In 
every State in the Nation, the committee that actually does the 
appropriations is the budget committee. That would stop the flood of 
people who come in right after the President's budget comes out and 
before the Senate Budget Committee does their work, where they think 
they have to come in and ask for the details on their expenditures at 
that time. If it was the Debt Control Committee, they would have a 
whole different perspective on what it was that committee is trying to 
do, and they would take their suggestions to the appropriate committee, 
which would be the Appropriations Committee, renamed the ``Budget 
Committee'' so they would understand what they are doing.
  As the Joint Select Committee continues to work, I encourage my 
colleagues here and in the other body to consider biennial 
appropriations as a necessary reform. I wish them success in their 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. BOOKER. Madam President, I rise today to talk about the farm 
bill. I want to start by thanking Senators Roberts and Stabenow for 
making this farm bill a model of bipartisanship.
  I have lived in a community in Newark for the last two-plus decades 
that most folks would not associate with a farm bill. The truth is, the 
issue we are grappling with in this bill affect all of our American 
communities--suburban, urban, and rural alike.
  Folks in my community have borne the burden of horrific environmental 
injustices for decades--from toxins that poisoned our river, to lead in 
our soil, to pollutants in the air. Families in my city cannot plant 
crops in their soil because huge swaths of my city in many areas are 
toxic. We also have food deserts that exist in communities like mine, 
where people don't have access to healthy foods.
  I have also visited rural areas of our country that endure the same 
kinds of injustices. I have met families who cannot open their windows 
because industrial farming operations are spraying waste into the 
surrounding air. Families can't hang their clothes outside, they can't 
run their air-conditioning, and they can't plant in their soil because 
of the way we do factory farming.
  The truth is, pollution and environmental degradation at the local 
scale, in communities like mine and many of the communities I visited, 
are real for folks all across this country. It is real for rural folks; 
it is real for urban folks; and it is real for suburban folks. It has 
caused the same misaligned incentives that are also contributing to the 
much larger scale problem of climate change. Just like local-scale 
pollution--toxins--in communities like mine and others, global climate 
change is very real and cannot be ignored because of its impacts on 
folks all over our country, particularly on those in vulnerable 

  So I will take a few moments to talk about these kinds of pollutants 
and to talk about climate change, which is closely intertwined with 
issues within the farm bill, even if it doesn't appear to be so at 
first glance.
  The numbers on what is happening to our climate are clear. We know 
that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher now than they have 
been at any point in recorded history and that our global carbon 
emissions are still rising.
  Sixteen of the seventeen warmest years on record in history have all 
occurred in the 21st century, and if nothing changes, we are headed for 
3 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100, which would cause catastrophic 
changes in many parts of the world and in many parts of the United 
States of America. Hurricanes in the North Atlantic will actually 
continue to become stronger and more intense and potentially more 
devastating. Drought and heat waves out West will become ever more 
frequent, and parts of the southwestern United States could see 
temperatures above 100 degrees for one-third of the year.
  All of the extreme weather will have a dramatic impact on our 
farmers. Climate change is real for American family farmers even now. 
Some U.S. crop yields are expected to drop significantly with climate 
change, and estimates suggest that under a ``business

[[Page S4474]]

as usual'' emissions scenario, yields of wheat and soybeans and corn 
could fall by 20 to 50 percent by the end of this century.
  Just as climate change impacts our agricultural system, our 
agricultural system also impacts the climate. Although it is often not 
discussed in the same breath as transportation or power generation, the 
global agricultural industry is, actually, one of the largest 
contributors to climate change. Some estimates suggest that up to one-
third of our global greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, and 
these numbers are projected to grow and grow and grow as people's diets 
from around the world continue to change. In fact, as China and India 
and parts of Africa move to a Western diet, our globe simply cannot 
sustain that impact. As people shift to our diet, global agricultural 
emissions are projected to rise another 80 percent by 2050 alone. This 
is huge. This is unsustainable.
  Industrial animal agriculture, in particular, is especially harmful 
to the climate. This factory farming is having a tremendous impact on 
our climate. Globally, livestock production alone accounts for nearly 
15 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, which is 
greater than the total greenhouse gas emissions for the entire global 
transportation sector. It is a fact.
  We have all of the tools we need to tackle the dual challenge of 
climate change and environmental degradation, but in order to solve 
these problems, we must address the impacts of this consolidating 
global industrial farming system. This system is having an impact on 
our climate and environment. The farm bill should find ways to reduce 
the pollution, to reduce the impact, to reduce the environmentally 
devastating impact it is having on our country. The 2018 Senate farm 
bill takes some small steps in the right direction.
  The farm bill grows the overall funding for agricultural conservation 
practices. It encourages farmers to plant cover crops, which improve 
soil and water quality. The farm bill also helps to drive climate-smart 
agriculture with several initiatives to keep carbon stored in our soils 
and in our forests. Yet what we really need is a fundamental shift in 
some of the major elements of our food system, shifts that, actually, 
can improve health and well-being and improve our Nation as a whole.
  We need to emphasize local farm economies, where food is produced in 
a way that minimally impacts the environment and, actually, empowers 
our small- and medium-sized farmers. We also need to grow more of our 
produce by using organic and regenerative methods.
  We need to put limits on the ability of major agricultural 
corporations, which are growing in size, to consolidate--to merge--and 
dictate the market. These corporate agricultural institutions that are 
growing so large and so powerful are dictating practices that are 
contrary to our very idea of farming in our country, whereby small- and 
medium-sized farmers who engage in practices that are more sustainable 
are being overrun by these large factory farms. We need to protect 
small family farmers from being squeezed out of business.
  I am a New Jersey Senator, but I have been meeting farmers from all 
over our country who have told me the painful stories of what we are 
allowing to happen as our country is being gutted out of our 
traditional farmers by these big agribusinesses.
  Consolidation in the agricultural industry is threatening the 
American farmer. The top four grain companies today control 90 percent 
of the global grain trade, and just four companies now control 60 
percent of the poultry market. While giant agribusinesses are posting 
record earnings, our farmers--our American farmers--are facing 
desperate times. A farmer's share of every retail dollar has plummeted 
from 41 percent in 1950 to, approximately, 15 percent today. Many of 
these large corporate agricultural companies--some of them are not even 
American-owned--are continuing to punish America's small farmers by 
shrinking their margins, driving them out of business, and undermining 
what is an American way of life.
  This consolidation must stop. I am working on a new bill that would 
help address this challenge, but for the farm bill that is before us, I 
will speak now about three amendments that I have filed.
  First, I will talk about the amendment that Senator Lee and Senator 
Hassan and I have filed--a bipartisan amendment that would make much 
needed reforms to our checkoff programs.
  Checkoff programs collect fees which amount to their being a tax on 
all farmers. They collect these fees from producers of particular 
agricultural commodities. They are supposed to use these fees that are 
collected from farmers to promote and do research on that particular 
commodity. Unfortunately, we have seen some of these checkoff programs 
plagued by conflicts of interest--people who are engaging in anti-
competitive behavior and funneling dollars to trade associations that 
only represent a sliver of the farmers who are required to pay into the 
checkoff programs. As one would imagine, those farmers who get the 
benefit are the big agribusinesses, often to the detriment of our 
small- and medium-sized farmers. Let me give you some examples.
  We know, for example, in 2015, that documents obtained from requests 
under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the American Egg Board 
illegally used checkoff dollars to attempt to halt the sales of an egg-
free mayonnaise product. Talk about anti-competitive activities.
  In 2016, it was discovered that the Oklahoma Beef Council lost 2.6 
million checkoff dollars to embezzlement by a staff member who wrote 
over 790 fraudulent checks to herself during a 10-year period.
  In 2017, it came to light that the USDA had failed for more than 4 
years to publish legally required annual financial reports on the $400 
million per year dairy checkoff program.
  This year, 2018, a Federal court ruled that the USDA had unlawfully 
approved the spending of $60 million of hog farmers' checkoff money on 
a defunct promotional campaign.
  So this amendment I am leading with Senator Lee and Senator Hassan 
would make some commonsense reforms to the checkoff program in order to 
stop these abuses. Frankly, I don't see how anyone could argue against 
what are very commonsense, moderate reforms to the checkoff program so 
as to create fairness and transparency and actually stop and prohibit 
these conflicts of interest. That is what the amendment would do--
prohibit conflicts of interest.
  The amendment would require more transparency and mandate that the 
USDA publish budgets and expenditures that the USDA approves.
  The amendment would prohibit anti-competitive behavior, such as we 
saw from the American Egg Board in its attacking of a startup company 
that it viewed as a threat. The language from the emails was actually 
stunning--about working to kill a business.
  The amendment would prohibit checkoff boards from contracting with 
entities that engage in ag lobbying. I am one of those people. We have 
enough lobbyists here in DC, so I hope that this bipartisan amendment 
to implement commonsense reforms will get a vote and that it will 
receive the bipartisan support it needs to pass.
  There are two other amendments I have filed that I would like to 
discuss that would help to protect contract farmers. They are the salt 
of the Earth. These farmers are Americans, many of whom have been on 
their land for generations, and what is happening now is unacceptable.
  The first amendment I am filing to protect contract farmers would 
prohibit retaliation against these farmers by the large integrators, 
like Smithfield and Tyson.
  As our agricultural markets have become more and more corporate-
concentrated, the rights and bargaining power of our family farmers 
have diminished dramatically. The traditional model of independent 
farmers selling to independent processors has shifted toward one of 
contract production, particularly in the livestock and poultry sectors. 
Farmers now go into debt in excess of $1 million to help build the 
facilities on their farms in order to get into this new contract 
production and often put their farms and their homes up as collateral.
  For the majority of contract farmers, the large corporate integrator 
with which one must contract is either the

[[Page S4475]]

only company or one of two companies in a farmer's area. These farmers 
simply don't have the option of shifting to other buyers. Under these 
new circumstances of consolidated corporate, major agribusinesses, 
contract farmers--small farmers, small business people--are left 
incredibly vulnerable to retaliation by these big corporate 
agribusinesses. At least one--Smithfield, for example--is not even an 
American company. It is a Chinese company.
  Recently, I had some contract farmers come to my office to meet with 
me. These farmers were terrified of coming to DC and actually talking 
to Members of Congress and Senators. They were terrified that the 
integrators they contract with might find out that they were talking to 
us and raising legitimate concerns about the abuses they were 
  This is the United States of America. We are making our farmers, our 
small business people, afraid of even talking about the abuses they are 
suffering from these massive, multinational agricultural corporations. 
Our contract farmers should not have to live like this. They should not 
have to be afraid that they will be retaliated against for engaging in 
lawful activities like speaking with Members of Congress or the USDA or 
for joining together in producer associations. James Madison's 
Federalist No. 50 talks about this idea of free association. Yet these 
contract farmers are afraid of doing that.
  The second amendment I am filing to help contract farmers would 
require transparency in how these large corporate integrators calculate 
the payments they make to contract farmers. The payment mechanisms that 
are used by poultry companies and meat packers to pay livestock and 
poultry farmers are deliberately opaque. It is deliberately difficult 
to understand how those payments are made. Not only does this lack of 
transparency make it difficult for farmers to make wise business 
decisions, but it allows integrators to manipulate the farmers' 
compensation. It is a practice that is despicable. It is not the free, 
open, and transparent market we all claim to have in the United States. 
These are large, concentrated, massive corporations manipulating local 
contract farmers in our communities for nefarious purposes.

  My amendment would simply require poultry companies, swine 
contractors, and meat packers to provide farmers with the relevant 
statistical information and data used to calculate their compensation. 
This is clear. You shouldn't do these things to squeeze or retaliate or 
pit farmers against each other. These are businesses. Have some 
transparency about the data so businesses can make sound decisions.
  When President Obama left office, the USDA would have proposed rules 
that would have prohibited this kind of retaliation from these large 
corporate entities. They would prohibit retaliation by integrating and 
requiring more transparency in payments to contract farmers. We were 
moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, under this 
administration, when they came in, they killed these GIPSA rules, once 
again siding with big agribusinesses, some of which are these foreign-
owned companies that are coming in and rendering our contract farmers 
and our small family businesses into what has been compared to 
  The dignity of these small businesses, the humanity, the American 
tradition of farming is being eroded and undermined by these massive 
corporations, many of them foreign-owned. They are attacking our way of 
life. They are attacking one of the most dignified professions in 
America, which is small farming. It is outrageous and unacceptable what 
is going on to contract farmers across our country.
  These two amendments would reverse the Trump administration's 
rollback of these important protections for our small contract farmers. 
I urge, with all of my heart, my colleagues to support these two 
amendments to be with the small farmers of America, to be with these 
people who are now struggling with mortgages and facing bankruptcy, who 
are now suffering because of these large corporations that are making 
their lives so difficult, that are undermining what has been the 
American way for centuries.
  I conclude by speaking about the importance of SNAP and SNAP 
assistance for the food insecure. I was relieved. I actually rejoiced 
to see that the Senate farm bill does not cut SNAP funding.
  In 2014, I voted against the farm bill because it contained more than 
$8 billion in cuts to SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance 
Program. It disproportionately helps people in my State of New Jersey, 
so the cuts disproportionately impacted my State. The truth is, at a 
time when we continue to heavily subsidize these large agribusinesses, 
I say very purposely that there is still corporate welfare in our farm 
bill. We should not force struggling families, seniors, and disabled 
citizens, working Americans to make sacrifices they can't afford. At 
the end of the day, this program aims to feed our country's most 
vulnerable population, with more than half of SNAP recipients being 
children and seniors. I repeat that. More than half of SNAP's benefits 
are for our kids and our elderly.
  In my home State of New Jersey, approximately 142,000 senior citizens 
and 113,000 disabled residents receive SNAP. SNAP helps a cross-section 
of Americans in all ethnic groups. SNAP helps folks in our cities, 
towns, suburbs, and rural communities alike, and SNAP feeds our family 
farmers who too often rely on food assistance to feed themselves and 
their families while producing the food we eat. The irony of that is 
unacceptable. SNAP feeds our childcare workers, our healthcare 
providers, and our veterans. SNAP feeds those who are in between jobs 
or who have three jobs and are still struggling to make ends meet.
  I am glad to see the Senate bill has rejected the damaging and 
destructive SNAP cuts in the partisan House farm bill because, the 
truth is, at a time when over 13 million children in our country--
please understand, the children in America, a global, knowledge-based 
society, the greatest natural resource a country has is not coal, oil 
or gas, but the genius of our children, and young minds need proper 
nutrition. At a time when 13 million children in our country face food 
insecurity, what we need to be doing is funding programs like SNAP--not 
funding them less but actually funding them more.
  SNAP plays a critical role in making sure children are able to focus 
in a classroom and not be distracted about where their next meal is 
coming from or the hunger pains they are feeling.
  I live in a low-income community. I am a Senator who lives in a 
community where, according to the last census, the median income is 
$14,000 per household. I see my neighbors, working folk, working full-
time jobs and still not making ends meet. When I go to my local bodega, 
I see people use programs like SNAP. God bless America, if we are not 
going to raise the minimum wage so people who work a full-time job in 
this country don't have to still live in poverty, we should not be 
cutting programs that are essential to helping families meet their 
nutritional needs. I see this at the end of the month when SNAP 
benefits are running out. One study shows that calories fall by up to 
25 percent--the intake of calories for folks on food stamps--from the 
beginning of the month to the end. Families struggle. Kids struggle 
when there is less food in the house, when they go to school hungry. 
What does that do to cultivate that genius?
  That is why we should be passing the SNAP for Kids Act of 2018 
introduced by my friend and colleague Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. If we 
are serious about helping our communities and making sure every child, 
every adult, every senior citizen has access to their next meal, this 
legislation is important.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, I would like to talk today for a few 
minutes about food stamps and the farm bill. Let me preface it by 
saying, it has been my experience that the American people are the most 
generous people in the world.
  We spend about $1 trillion of taxpayer money at the Federal, State, 
and local levels helping our neighbors who are less fortunate than we 
are. In America--and I am very proud of this--if you are homeless, we 
will house you. If you are too poor to be sick, we will pay for your 
doctors. If you are hungry, we will feed you. That separates our 
country from a lot of other countries

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that exist and have existed in the world, and I am very proud of those 
principles as an American. So I do get upset when people suggest that 
the American taxpayer is not generous with his or her money. We are the 
most generous people in the world.
  In that regard, I know that for many Americans, the Food Stamp 
Program--we call it the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, some 
people call it SNAP--means the difference between an empty stomach and 
a warm meal, and that is just a fact. I am talking about the men and 
women, many of whom are hard-working, who do all they can to provide 
for their families, but they need just a little extra help to put food 
on the table. The American people are happy to provide it.
  Each and every year, the Federal Government spends more than $68 
billion to make sure no American has to wonder where his or her next 
meal is going to come from. It is the generosity of the American people 
that pays for those meals.
  If the Food Stamp Program is going to continue to provide food to the 
42.2 million Americans who use their benefits every month--and I want 
you to think about that number--42.2 million Americans out of a country 
of over 120 million, including one in five Louisianians, we have to do 
our part to ensure our program's integrity.
  This is a natural fact. The Food Stamp Program is rife with fraud and 
criminal activity. Every year more than $1.2 million of SNAP benefits 
are stolen or misused by criminals. So it is no wonder Congress has 
been discussing requiring photo identification at the point of sale for 
the Food Stamp Program since the 1970s.
  As early as 1981, our GAO testified--and GAO, they are not 
politicians, not Republicans, and not Democrats. I don't mean this in a 
pejorative sense, but they are bean counters. GAO testified that such 
efforts would be effective in reducing overissuance, but we have not 
  Reform is long overdue, and the time to act, it seems to me, is right 
now when we are considering the farm bill. If SNAP is going to be 
available to the people who depend on it most of the years to come, we 
have to do more to ensure that taxpayer dollars are going where 
taxpayers intended them to go.
  That is why I have offered an amendment to the farm bill which will 
help protect our precious SNAP dollars by requiring a photo ID to use 
your benefits. It doesn't take anybody off the rolls, it just says you 
have to have a photo ID to use your benefits.
  This amendment is very simple. It will require States to list on EBT 
cards the names of all of those who are eligible to use the EBT card. 
Household members listed on the card must then produce photo ID at 
point of sale when they use the EBT cards--about as simple as you can 
  Two States right now are already doing it and doing it successfully. 
One State is Maine and one is Massachusetts. They both have successful 
SNAP benefit photo ID bills in law that are already saving thousands--
indeed, probably millions--of taxpayer dollars. This should send a very 
clear message to every Governor and every legislature and every 
Congresswoman and every Congressman that food stamp reforms can work.
  In the past few months, we had numerous SNAP benefit fraud cases that 
have been identified throughout our country. In Tennessee, for example, 
two men were found to have been selling their EBT cards to undercover 
cops in exchange for cash and heroin. In New Jersey, a couple managing 
a grocery store exchanged more than $4 million in SNAP or food stamp 
benefits for cash between the years 2014 and 2017.
  In Rochester, NY, a storeowner was found to have used cash to 
purchase food stamp benefits from beneficiaries for less than half 
their full value over a 5-year period. Now that is not what the 
American taxpayer intends the Food Stamp Program to do. That one 
individual's criminal actions cost taxpayers and people who really need 
food stamps $1.2 million. That was only one act, and I could go on and 
  In the farm bill, we are asking the taxpayers to spend $68 billion a 
year. We throw this figure ``1 billion'' around like it is a nickel. A 
billion dollars is a lot. If I started counting right now to a 
billion--1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10--it would take me 32 years to 
count to 1 billion. It would be 2050 when I finished. I wouldn't make 

  We are asking taxpayers not to spend $1 billion a year, but $68 
billion of their money on the farm bill. We have an obligation, 
therefore, to keep an eye on that money and to make sure it is going to 
those who need it the most. The Federal Government and not a single one 
of us in this Congress should stand by and tolerate criminal stealing 
from the mouths of children. That is not a Democratic principle; that 
is not a Republican principle. That is a human principle.
  We owe it to the American taxpayer and to every family who relies on 
food stamps to put food on the table to protect the program from those 
who would take advantage of our generous American spirit. It is in that 
spirit that I will be offering my amendment.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Hyde-Smith). The Senator from North 
  Ms. HEITKAMP. Madam President, first, I want to acknowledge and thank 
Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow for their 
incredible hard work and commitment to draft such a strong bipartisan 
farm bill. We would not be here today if it weren't for their tenacity. 
I think, more importantly, we would not be here today if it weren't for 
their love of agriculture and their love of rural America. Knowing 
these are challenging times in rural America, the one thing we can do 
here is to take this important policy and enact it into law so that we 
can give a 5-year window of certainty to American farmers and farmers 
in my State.
  Over 90 percent of the land in North Dakota is engaged in the 
production of agriculture, whether it is farming or ranching. It is the 
bedrock of what we do in North Dakota. In fact, it is who we are.
  In every given year, 30,000 farmers and ranchers lead the Nation in 
the production of over 10 different commodities. These agriculture 
products are sold in every State and exported to every corner of the 
globe. At a time when farm income is down and commodity prices have 
declined, it is so important that we, as members of the Senate, work 
together in a bipartisan way to provide our Nation's farmers and 
ranchers with a strong farm bill. With disruptions in trade weighing 
heavily on our agricultural producers, the single most important job 
right now is to provide certainty to farmers and ranchers by passing 
this farm bill and reauthorizing it beyond September 30, 2018.
  In fact, it is important to note that net farm income since 2013 has 
been literally cut in half. When people say: Why do we need a farm 
bill? Why should we care? I would suggest that if we want food security 
in this country and if we want to make sure that we have farmers in 
this country, we need to care.
  How many American families could really support or weather a 50-
percent reduction in their income? When I first came to the Senate, I 
was fortunate enough to receive a committee assignment on the Senate 
Agricultural Committee, which for North Dakota is, quite honestly, the 
highest and most important committee assignment.
  Passing a strong, bipartisan farm bill has been my highest priority 
since coming to the Senate. I helped to write, negotiate, and pass the 
2014 farm bill, and as a member of the Ag Committee, I have been 
working with farmers and ranchers to make sure that the 2018 farm bill 
is as strong as possible for North Dakota.
  Since 2014, when the farm bill was signed into law, I have heard from 
countless farmers and ranchers about what programs worked and what 
didn't work and how we can build a stronger rural America. While the 
2014 farm bill addressed a number of key priorities needed to ensure an 
effective safety net for farmers and ranchers, there were challenges 
with aspects of the law. Understanding these concerns, I am pleased 
that members of the committee, the current administration, the chair, 
and ranking member have been willing partners in addressing these 
important challenges.
  In particular, I am excited that this bipartisan farm bill includes 
language from our ARC-CO Improvement Act, a bill I introduced with 
Senator Ernst last October. It works to strengthen

[[Page S4477]]

and improve the Agricultural Risk Coverage-County Program. This 
language would direct the Farm Service Agency to use more widely 
available data from the Risk Management Agency as the first choice in 
calculating yields so that county level data is more accurate and 
updated. This would calculate safety net payments to reflect what is 
owed to producers in the physical county where their farms are located 
and not where their farmstead is.
  This bill succeeds in protecting and improving the safety net that 
allows farmers and ranchers to weather the most difficult times and 
thrive during favorable conditions. This bill extends and makes 
improvements to the commodity programs passed in the 2014 farm bill and 
maintains the farm safety net that is crop insurance.
  I do want to give a shout out to my colleague Senator Roberts. Every 
time there was testimony on the farm bill, he started with crop 
insurance, crop insurance, crop insurance; and that is a sentiment that 
is shared by almost every producer in my State.
  From those provisions passed in 2014, this bill extends the livestock 
disaster programs, which played a valuable role in North Dakota last 
year as we experienced one of the worst droughts in our recent history.
  Additionally, this farm bill includes a number of provisions that 
work to improve access for beginning farmers and ranchers. Included in 
the bipartisan bill is part of the Next Generation in Agriculture Act, 
which I introduced with my colleague Senator Collins. It provides 
baseline funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development 
Program, and it would codify positions at the USDA to coordinate 
beginning farmer and rancher programs and to provide youth organization 

  The average age of farmers in our State and across the country is way 
too old. If we are going to help to build that next generation of 
farmers, we are going to have to pay attention to those risks and 
respond to those risks in a way that will make a difference for our 
future production.
  I am also excited that this legislation includes a number of 
provisions that work to raise the profile of Indian Tribes within the 
farm bill, and it includes a provision from the Tribal Food and Housing 
Security Act, which I introduced earlier this year. Specifically, the 
provision included from my bill would waive the majority, if not all, 
of the administrative costs required to run the Food Distribution 
Program on Indian Reservations, which Tribes use to provide healthy, 
affordable food options to low-income individuals and families. It also 
would establish a permanent Rural Development Tribal Technical 
Assistance Office at USDA to provide rural development support for 
Native American communities and to offer greater certainty for the 
current Tribal Promise Zone designees.
  As we consider the farm bill, I wanted to make sure that Indian 
Country had a seat at the table, which is why I introduced this 
legislation. Indian Country faces a unique set of challenges, many of 
which can be addressed in the farm bill. I think sometimes we forget 
that the fundamental occupation of many of the Tribal members in my 
State is farming and ranching. I think we also sometimes forget that 
they suffer not only historic challenges to economic development but, 
as we are experiencing in all of rural America, challenges in economic 
development that are not only from the reservation but also from being 
  Checkoff programs are vitally important for our ag commodities, as 
they provide beneficial research, promotion, and education services to 
the producers they represent. It is critical that these programs 
function as intended in order to be preserved and protected from 
unnecessary scrutiny. The beef checkoff program has not, for some time, 
represented the majority view of beef producers and hasn't been 
functioning as intended. As such, I strongly encourage my colleagues to 
examine with a critical eye the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 
to ensure that the checkoff functions as a truly independent 
organization, representing the needs and viewpoints of the majority of 
our Nation's beef producers.
  The farm bill also makes important investments in ag research and 
enhances trade. I strongly believe that we need to increase our 
investment in research. I am pleased to see a robust level of support 
for our land-grant universities, and the inclusion of the Pollinator 
Health Task Force and funding is maintained in this bill. But I agree 
that more should be done in order to enhance agriculture so we may 
continue to be competitive on the global stage.
  With that said, we also have to improve market access and develop new 
export opportunities for our agricultural products. In North Dakota, we 
export soybeans to China, beans to Cuba, and barley to Mexico. And the 
list goes on. Building upon these successes will play a critical role 
in the improvement of the economic health of rural America.
  During consideration of the farm bill, we must also work to protect 
programs that are vitally important to farmers in my State who provide 
and produce American-grown sugar. Last week, I had the opportunity to 
deliver to each Senator a simple Hershey's candy bar with a sticker 
labeling the cost of the sugar included. First, I am going to thank 
Curt Knutson, a sugar beet farmer in the Red River Valley, who took 
time to put these candy bars together for me. In fact, he said he saw a 
rainy day, and he quickly put the stickers on.
  I think you will hear a lot about the sugar program. People have 
probably been down here telling you how it burdens the confectionary 
industry and how this will, in fact, increase their costs. I think it 
is absolutely critical that you know that in this candy bar--not this 
big one, but a normal size one--there is only 2 cents' worth of sugar.
  Did you know that in 1980, a candy bar like this cost 35 cents and 
had 2 pennies' worth of sugar in it? Today, this same candy bar costs 
$1.49, but still contains just 2 cents of sugar.
  Don't let anyone tell you that we have a crisis as it relates to the 
sugar program. The beet farmers and the sugar cane farmers guarantee a 
steady supply of sugar in this country, and we know that we need to 
maintain that industry in our State.
  I would encourage everyone to keep that in mind as they are being 
asked to roll back the sugar policy in the farm bill. Each year, our 
sugar industry employs nearly 142,000 Americans in 22 States and 
generates over $20 billion in economic activity. The policy that makes 
it all possible--listen to this--is at a zero cost to taxpayers. Given 
the economic importance of this industry to our Nation, it is critical 
that we maintain the sugar program to protect the many jobs in this 
industry and so that we can continue to enjoy American-grown sugar.
  The chairman and ranking member really deserve incredible praise for 
the work they have done collaboratively, not just with members of our 
committee but, as you see in the back here, working with Members who 
aren't on the Ag Committee to listen to their response. This farm bill 
works to improve programs that were authorized by the 2014 farm bill 
and to provide much needed certainty to farmers and ranchers.
  I want to make a general observation. When all of us go home, we are 
asked: Why can't you get anything done? Why can't you work together to 
solve America's problems? I think it would be a wonderful way to exit 
for the Fourth of July if we were allowed an opportunity to say in a 
bipartisan way, after a robust discussion about amendments: We passed a 
farm bill.
  I know the Presiding Officer knows how important the farm bill is to 
her State of Mississippi. She comes with that as her top priority. 
Let's get this done. Let's work together. Let's try and overcome any 
hurdles that we have right now. Let's tell the American people that, 
when it comes to producing their food and having them access their 
food, this food bill is possible in a time of great division in this 
  I am proud to have been a member of the Ag Committee. I am proud to 
say I played a role in improving this farm bill. I look forward to not 
only passing it but seeing what comes out of the conference committee.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado.
  Mr. GARDNER. Thank you, Madam President.
  I know the Presiding Officer is a cattle farmer, as I think they are 
referred to in Mississippi. It is an honor to be

[[Page S4478]]

here on the floor with you to talk about important work for 
  Colorado is an incredibly diverse State. When it comes to our 
economy, we are the--if you look at jobs per capita, we have more 
aerospace jobs per capita than any other State in the country. We have 
the second highest number of jobs outright, second only to California. 
Our tourism industry is world renowned--our first-class ski resorts, 
our gold medal trout fishing streams. It is incredible, all that we 
have. We are also one of the country's biggest agricultural producers. 
In fact, the ag economy in Colorado remains the fundamental 
foundational building block of our economy.
  I grew up in a part of Colorado that looks more like Kansas. Most 
people think it is in Kansas instead of Colorado. This is my backyard. 
This is where I live. I live in town. This is a farm, a pivot 
irrigation system that I grew up with. In fact, our family sells farm 
equipment. I have told stories about that to everybody here--everybody 
who will listen--so many times that they have probably stopped 
listening. I grew up selling farm equipment.
  I can remember, when I first ran for office, going around eastern 
Colorado and introducing myself to farmers. I would introduce myself. I 
would say: Hi, I am Cory Gardner, and I am running for the State 
legislature. I have met most of you at the implement dealership. I have 
sold half of you the wrong parts. I quit using that line when everybody 
would shake their head--yes, you have. So I grew up knowing a lot of 
great people in agriculture through that business.
  Water is the lifeblood of our area. Agriculture is the lifeblood of 
our area. There is an old saying that sometimes if there is a downturn 
in agriculture, then our community will feel it next week. Well, that 
is not true anymore. If we have a downturn in agriculture, our 
community feels it that day. That is how connected we are to global 
commodity prices and what it means for us.
  I am fifth-generation Coloradoan. Our entire family has been all 
agriculture. It is the heart and soul of who we are as a country, and 
that is why this farm bill debate is so important.
  In Colorado, we have tremendous crop opportunities, livestock 
opportunities. We have some of the best hay operations in America. In 
fact, several of our counties--Yuma County, which is the county I am 
from, over the years has been ranked and rated one of the top corn-
producing counties in the Nation. We are a leading wheat exporter. 
Eighty-seven percent of the wheat that is produced in the 4th 
Congressional District--my old 4th Congressional District in Colorado--
gets exported overseas.
  The research we are doing out in eastern Colorado on dryland cropping 
systems is pretty remarkable--the Akron research station there.
  The San Luis Valley is known nationally and around the world for our 
high-quality San Luis Valley potatoes, purple potatoes that you can get 
from the San Luis Valley. We have sorghum and barley. A lot of people 
are familiar with our Banquet beer in Colorado. We have great beef. We 
have pintos and potatoes. We have it all. And, of course, who could 
forget our world-renowned Palisade peaches? It is that time of year now 
when we are starting to see peaches in the farmers markets and in the 
stands all around. I challenge anybody from South Carolina or Georgia 
to compare their peaches to our peaches because we know we have the 
best. We are coming up on the Peach Festival, as well, in the Western 
Slope of Colorado. We certainly have sugar beets.
  We have an incredibly diverse economy. We have a diverse economy that 
represents a lot of export opportunities. Some of our best exports and 
some of our largest exports are beef. Frozen beef, fresh beef--you name 
it; we have a lot of beef. That is why trade is so critically important 
to our economy. We are going to get our ag economy growing.
  By the way, ag is kind of facing a tough time right now. Farm 
receipts are down about 35 percent from what they were in 2013. If you 
look at some of the golden years of agriculture not too long ago, we 
are probably down even further than that. When commodity prices drop, 
when exports drop, these communities that I grew up in--these 
agricultural communities in the Western Slope of Colorado and in the 
Eastern Plains--they feel that impact not next week, not the week 
after, they feel it immediately. That is why trade is so important.
  Let me give an example of this field right here. If you had an 
irrigated cornfield in Colorado--let's say that you had a good year. 
Let's say that you raised 225 bushels an acre of corn. Let's say that 
in May the price of corn was $4.05. I looked it up yesterday, and it 
was about $3.55. That 50-cent drop in commodity price on 160 acres--if 
you take 160 acres a quarter, if you look at the farmable land, the 
irrigated land, that is probably around 120, 140 acres, somewhere in 
between that. If you just raise that corn crop on 120 acres of land, 
225 bushels an acre, and that price drops 50 cents per bushel, that is 
about a $12,000 or $13,000 impact--loss of income--per quarter.
  The average farm size in Colorado is--let's say a corn farmer--let's 
just say they have 1,000 acres of corn, irrigated corn. If that price 
drops 50 cents, that is a $100,000-plus loss of income. If we start 
seeing the impacts of a trade war that lowers the price of these 
commodities, we will see that impact not tomorrow but today. These low 
commodity prices have already affected the health of our rural 
communities. We don't need any more downward pressure.

  Beef alone accounts for $675 million worth of these exports. We 
should be pursuing free-trade opportunities. Colorado-grown potatoes 
account for over 50 percent of all U.S. potato exports to Mexico. NAFTA 
is incredibly important for this country, what we are doing with all of 
our agriculture products and how we are getting them to market.
  We know rural development is key, and agriculture is key and trade is 
key to that rural development. So the farm bill represents a great 
opportunity for us to focus on rural development--what we can do to 
help start young farmers, help them get a start and help them afford 
the operation, because it is incredibly expensive. A quarter of 
irrigated ground in Colorado at one point was approaching $1 million a 
quarter. A tractor could cost around $250,000 if you had to buy a new 
one, a big one.
  All of this means that we have an obligation to provide certainty in 
policy. That is what this debate is doing with the farm bill--providing 
our farmers, folks involved in agriculture, with the certainty they 
need to plan, to be able to go to the bank to talk about next year's 
operation loan, this year's operation loan, how they are going to get 
the receipts to allow them to continue that generational business of 
agriculture in Colorado and beyond.
  We know economic times have also resulted in significant economic 
stress and significant mental stress. I am very pleased to have worked 
with a number of my colleagues to introduce the FARMERS FIRST Act 
earlier this year. This is a bill that helps address some of the mental 
health concerns we have seen in agriculture.
  In agriculture, per 100,000 population--we have about 5 times the 
number of suicides in agriculture than the broader group of Americans--
5 times higher suicide rate. This bill starts to address that.
  In Colorado, Don Brown, our agriculture commissioner--I grew up with 
him. He is from the same town I am from. They have restarted the 
suicide hotline in Colorado to address the mental health needs because 
of the challenges we face in agriculture today. I thank Commissioner 
Brown for that work.
  I thank my colleagues for the work we have been able to do together 
on the FARMERS FIRST Act to make sure we can help provide some of that 
  In this farm bill, we have also made great strides on conservation. I 
was able to get the EQIP amendment included in the farm bill. That 
addresses agricultural drought concerns to make sure that the farm bill 
more adequately addresses the critically important conservation title 
work as it relates to drought.
  I thank Senators Feinstein, Wyden, Udall, Moran, Bennet, and Harris 
for their support in allowing me to work with them on this amendment 
and to have it included in the substitute. If you look at the drought 
that is gripping the Western United States in particular, you have 
Arizona, 100 percent drought; California, 69 percent of the

[[Page S4479]]

land in a drought; Colorado, 79 percent of the State in a drought; 
Kansas, 79 percent in a drought; Oklahoma, 80 percent; Utah, 100 
percent; North Dakota, 81 percent. These are areas that this EQIP 
language that was included will help address as we work toward solving 
this ongoing drought condition.
  Water is the lifeblood of the West. Colorado is the only State in the 
country where all water flows out of it and none flows into it, so we 
have to make sure we get this right. As you can see, this is a picture 
of the Colorado River. That is an example of a bloodline of water that 
goes from Colorado down to California and all the States in between 
that rely on this river. As we see, as that water in the river 
decreases, it puts more pressure on the upstream States. If we ever 
have a problem in the river, that is going to be a significant 
challenge between the upper basin States and the lower basin States. 
That is why the tools that we have helped provide in the farm bill will 
help us manage this river, will help us manage the land, will help us 
address conservation needs to use less water so that we can keep more 
water in the systems, keep more water on the land, and prevent the dry-
up of agriculture.
  We were able to streamline EQIP contracting, increase cost share for 
nutrient reduction practices, and increase the authority of USDA to 
enter into drought-related Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program 
agreements. This will help areas like the Republican River in Colorado 
and beyond.
  These are important inclusions in the farm bill. We have other things 
that should be highlighted, though, that will also address some of our 
water concerns.
  We know that forest fires are a significant challenge to Colorado. If 
there is a massive forest fire, all those watersheds that those forests 
are in result in debris flows and contamination of those water systems, 
those waterways, and that hurts our ability to have access to that 
  In the omnibus that we passed earlier this year, we were able to 
include certain language addressing categorical exclusions, building 
upon insect and disease--efforts to combat them in certain areas of the 
forest. The challenge we have in Colorado is that the categorical 
exclusions only apply to fire regime groups 1, 2, and 3, but in 
Colorado, we have about 24 percent of our zones of concern in Colorado 
that are in a different category, not in 1, 2, or 3, which means we 
can't use the categorical exclusion to address insect and disease 
concerns under that provision. Yet we know a significant area of these 
forests have insects. This is where a lot of the insect infestation has 
  Insects have devastated our forests. It results in dead trees, and 
then the drought doubles the pressure on that, creating historic fire 
conditions, and then you end up imperiling the watersheds.
  We have offered an amendment to try to address that, to extend the 
categorical exclusion so that we can have better management 
opportunities to prevent the next disaster from occurring and to make 
sure that we can help manage our forests in a more responsible way.
  I am also excited that we were able to include work addressing the 
Akron research station in Akron, CO, in eastern Colorado, a dry land 
facility. We have an amendment that is incorporated in the substitute 
that authorizes research and extension grants to study the utilization 
of big data for more precise management of dryland farming agriculture 
systems. This goes into how much water we need and how we could better 
manage dryland cropping alternatives. If we have a drought that 
continues, we are going to have to have more tools and data to help 
manage farming practices so that we can do a better job of creating 
high yields in a low-moisture environment.
  These are all important issues that we worked on.
  Crop insurance is incredibly vital to our Main Streets in rural 
Colorado and across this country. That is why we have to continue to 
strengthen the Crop Insurance Program. That is why I am glad the farm 
bill makes sure that it does just that. The conservation title is 
important to Colorado as well.
  There are a lot of issues this farm bills addresses. I thank Chairman 
Roberts for his work on this legislation. He is our neighbor in Kansas. 
I don't think he included a provision in the farm bill to thank 
Colorado for the water that we send to Kansas, but they have better 
lawyers than us, so I will not push that too far when it comes to some 
of the water conflicts that we have had. I say that jokingly, of 
  What I don't say jokingly, of course, though, is what agriculture 
means to all of us. It is that bond that we share in our communities. 
It is the foundation of Colorado's economy and this country's economy. 
There are so few people today in agriculture, that those of us who are 
involved in agriculture, who are in agricultural communities, have to 
be strong advocates. I hope the work this Senate is doing when it comes 
to agriculture will be that ambassadorial effort that we need to be 
good stewards of our land, to continue to promote small farms, new 
farmers, and young farmers to make sure that we keep generations of 
farmers and ranchers on the land and that we don't have a buy-out and 
dry-out history because we mismanaged our water resources.
  This farm bill helps address some of our biggest challenges. Let's 
get our other policies like trade right, continue to work together in a 
bipartisan fashion, and we can make our farmers and ranchers proud of 
the work we do every day.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. TESTER. Madam President, I rise today on behalf of this Nation's 
farmers and ranchers. I would urge this body to continue in the 
bipartisan way that they have been on the farm bill to get this farm 
bill passed, keep in good shape the strong farm bill at this moment in 
time, and work to improve it and get it out of the body so that farmers 
can have the certainty they need with a predictable farm bill.
  I believe I am the only actively engaged working farmer in this body. 
I have lived on the farm I live on for over 61 years. My wife and I 
have been farming the land that my grandfather and grandmother 
homesteaded, and my folks farmed after them, for the last 41 years. 
During that time, I have been able to see good farm bills that have 
worked, and I have seen bad farm bills--the kinds of farm bills that 
have resulted in devastating consequences for our family farms, driving 
families off the land, paving the way for more consolidation; bad farm 
bills that have dried up our rural areas and our small towns and along 
the way dried up our rural way of life.
  This is an important time for folks in production and agriculture. 
The commodity prices are low pretty much across the board. We are 
seeing this administration engaging in tariffs and a potential trade 
war that is threatening Montana's No. 1 industry--agriculture--and 
threatening the viability of the economy of Montana and rural America. 
That is why it is critically important that this week we pass a good 
farm bill that will work and give certainty to Montana's producers and 
rural communities across this country.

  In my travels around the State of Montana, I have had a number of 
listening sessions on the farm bill. I have heard from farmers and 
ranchers. I have visited with them, looked at them eyeball to eyeball, 
and heard their concerns and their priorities. During these farm bill 
listening sessions in Montana, I heard from grain growers, cattlemen, 
sugar beet producers, hops growers, wool growers, pulse growers, 
specialty crop producers, and organic farmers. We grow a lot of stuff 
in Montana. I even sat down with the folks who fight the good fight to 
make sure our kids don't go hungry. I sat down with fifth-generation 
Montana farmers and ranchers whose families have worked the land for 
over 100 years and young producers who are getting ready to go out for 
their very first harvest.
  For the most part, they all said the same thing; that is, they want 
certainty. They want access to quality crop insurance that is a big 
part of the safety net for our farmers and ranchers. In times when they 
can't get their paycheck from the marketplace, this safety net is 
critically important. They also want to be in a position financially 
where they can hand their farm--or their ranch or their operation--down 
to their kids and their

[[Page S4480]]

grandkids, but don't just take my word for it.
  Since my last farm bill listening session, literally hundreds of 
Montana's farmers and ranchers have written in to my office to make 
sure their voice is heard on the farm bill.
  Tom, from Glasgow, MT, wrote to me about the challenges facing 
farmers and ranchers. He said:

       I urge you to support the Farm Bill before it expires on 
     September 30. The legislation that came out of the Senate 
     Agriculture Committee has a robust farm safety net, including 
     a strong Crop Insurance Program. Our farmers face a 
     challenging agriculture economy. They need the certainty of 
     knowing what programs are available as they make their plans 
     for the coming years.

  That is critically important. Everybody who is in agriculture knows 
that you have to plan multiple years out before you can get to a point 
where you can harvest that crop and bring it to the bin and bring it to 
market. So having that kind of certainty of a long-term farm bill and 
getting one done long before September 30 is critically important.
  Another fellow by the name of Frank, from Lewistown, MT, wrote me 
about the important role the farm bill plays in feeding this country--
the United States. Here is what Frank said:

       The farm bill can help put the United States on track to 
     ending food insecurity and hunger in our country. I urge you 
     to work on a bipartisan farm bill that protects and 
     strengthens domestic nutrition programs, especially SNAP.

  We have a democracy in this country, and we are very proud of it, but 
as we offer that safety net for our folks in production agriculture, we 
need to make sure we don't have hunger in this country, to the best of 
our ability, because democracies don't work well when you have a hungry 
  So I am on the Senate floor to tell Tom and Frank and the hundreds of 
other Montana farmers and ranchers who have contacted me that their 
voices have been heard and that their priorities are reflected in this 
Senate farm bill.
  This bill reauthorizes critical crop insurance initiatives that keep 
farmers in business. It rejects the House attempt to combine and cut 
funding for successful conservation practices. It amends EQIP to allow 
dollars to flow to producers that focus on research conservation and 
drought resiliency. It strengthens our fight against foot-and-mouth-
disease. It keeps in place important sugar provisions which have a 
multidecade track record of success, especially in the sugar beet 
country of Southeast and Eastern Montana. It reauthorizes funding for 
agricultural research and, as we know, for every dollar invested in 
agriculture research, we see major returns to our economy. It gives the 
green light to industrial hemp growers. Industrial hemp is a crop that 
can fit in most rotations around this country, and Montana is no 
exception, and it reauthorizes funding for critical USDA rural 
development grants, which help fund water and wastewater 
infrastructure, and it helps build rural communities.
  Although the House chose to make political hay out of the farm bill, 
I commend the folks in the Senate because we got to work and, through 
the Senate Ag Committee, we put together a bill that farmers and 
ranchers can literally take to the bank. We did so while protecting the 
provisions that feed hungry families and protect seniors.
  Now is the time to get this bill across the finish line. Through the 
amendment process this week, we have the opportunity to make this farm 
bill an even better bill.
  We have already attached a bipartisan amendment to this bill that 
strengthens the safety net by ensuring that ARC-county payments 
probably reflect yields. We are giving more authority to the State and 
local FSA committees to identify ARC boundaries that reflect the 
conditions and the crops being raised in that region.
  I want to thank the Montana Grain Growers for their support of this 
amendment, as well as the Montana Farmers Union for their input.
  It is my hope that folks continue to check their politics at the door 
and do what is right for Montana's family farms--the folks who are 
making a living off the land--by passing a good farm bill this week.
  Farmers and ranchers are always talking about the future. They are 
always thinking about the future, whether it is the future of commodity 
prices or market access or costs, yields, or, yes, the weather. They 
are constantly thinking about the future of their operation--how they 
can implement new practices that will make their operation more 
financially viable to pass on to their children. So let's get the job 
done this week and pass a good farm bill that gives our producers in 
this Nation and my producers in Montana the kind of long-term certainty 
they deserve and gives them the keys to building an even stronger 
family farm unit.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.

            Calling for the Release of Pastor Andrew Brunson

  Mr. TILLIS. Madam President, I am doing something this week I wish I 
didn't have to do. As a matter of fact, for the past several weeks I 
wish I didn't have to do this, but I have to draw attention to 
something that is very important to me and should be important to 
everybody in the United States and every person on Capitol Hill. It is 
about a man who has been held in prison in Turkey for 628 days, most of 
that time without charges, in a cell that was designed for 8 people 
that had 21 people in it. This man's name is Pastor Brunson. He is a 
Presbyterian minister who has spent most of the last 20 years doing 
missionary work in Turkey, sometimes going into Syria, visiting Syrian 
refugee camps in Turkey, living in and around the Izmir area.
  In October of 2016, after the coup attempt, President Erdogan started 
sweeping up thousands of people, including people who were doing 
nothing but trying to bring the Word to those who wanted to hear it--in 
this case, in the country of Turkey. He was actually accused of being a 
part of plotting the coup attempt. He subsequently has been accused of 
plotting terrorist activities against the people and the Government of 
  We have been working on this case for well over a year. We treated it 
like constituent work. We were doing everything we were supposed to do, 
working with the State Department, working with the various agencies, 
reaching out to the country team to ask: Why can't we get this pastor 
free? Why is he being held without charges? How could a Presbyterian 
missionary--how could he possibly be considered a terrorist or a coup 
  About 4 months ago, I was in a meeting, and I overheard--this is 
about the time he was indicted, about 17 months of being held without 
charges. I heard he was afraid that after the indictment was released, 
the American people would believe the indictment and just turn their 
backs on him and forget him.
  So it was important for me to go to Turkey. I requested a visa to get 
to Turkey. I went to the Turkish prison, and I told Pastor Brunson that 
is the last thing that is going to happen. I told him he had my 
personal commitment and that I knew I had the backing of the majority 
of the Members of the Senate and almost 200 Members of the House now 
who believe Pastor Brunson needs to be set free. It was important to 
tell him that face-to-face.
  About a month later, I went to his first court hearing. It was 
absurd. I spent about 12 hours in a Turkish courtroom hearing some of 
the most extraordinary--almost comedic--allegations against Pastor 
Brunson. Every week I vary the presentation of the allegations because 
there are so many you can't cover them in any one reasonable length of 
floor speech. So this week's absurd allegation is this notion that the 
Turkish prosecutors believe all the Christian religions in the United 
States are actually somehow woven together as some sort of 
intelligence-gathering, coup-plotting, terrorist-plotting network 
throughout the world to collect information and use it to the detriment 
of a sovereign nation like Turkey. That is the sort of--so he is an 
operative. He is a man who actually comes from Black Mountain, who is 
affiliated with the same church as Rev. Billy Graham, and has been, for 
20 years, plotting the overthrow of the Turkish Government.
  Now, keep in mind, it is only a concept. He hasn't been charged with 
any specific activity. There is no witness

[[Page S4481]]

attesting to some specific thing that he did, but because he is a 
Christian, because he is a missionary, and because he has been in 
Turkey for 20 years, he has to be a part of this organization. 
Therefore, we are going to put him in prison for 628 days. That is what 
we are dealing with.
  Now, when we started down this path, I spoke with a lot of Turkish 
officials. What I heard from them is, well, justice has to take its 
course. We have an independent judiciary; justice has to take its 
course. Then, not too long ago, President Erdogan, who was just 
recently reelected President for, I believe, another 5-year term, had 
the audacity to say: ``We will give you your pastor if you give us our 
  Well, it turns out there is someone here in the United States who was 
previously an ally of President Erdogan. They had a falling out, and he 
is a part of a movement that wants to see change in Turkey. He is a man 
of faith--a man of Muslim faith.
  The President transformed what I believe started out being a 
situation of let's just let the independent judiciary take its course--
they transformed what was an illegal detainment, lengthy detainment of 
a Presbyterian pastor into what I believe is a hostage swap.
  The President said this. If the President could actually make this 
offer, then, clearly, he is not constrained by a judiciary outcome like 
we are in the United States.
  So the day President Erdogan said this, that was the day we could 
clearly say Pastor Brunson is being held as a political hostage, and 
the President--President Erdogan--has the power to end it.
  I do this speech every week, and I will do it every week for as long 
as Pastor Brunson is in prison. Every once in a while my mother or my 
wife will see a videotape of this speech, and they always say: Why do 
you act like you get so angry toward the end of it? Because I am. I am 
angry for a lot of reasons. One of them is that they are a NATO ally.
  Since 1952, Turkey has been a member of the NATO Alliance. At the 
most profound level, that means that if Turkey is attacked by another 
Nation and their safety, security, and freedom is at risk, then the 
United States has an obligation to submit our men and women in uniform 
to the country of Turkey to potentially lay down and die in defense of 
their freedom. That is what we call a partnership. Now, for the first 
time in the history of NATO alliance, they are holding an American 
  So, on the one hand, in the Armed Services Committee where we spend a 
lot of time focusing on our alliances, a lot of time training with 
various countries--and Turkey is one I would like to have a great 
relationship with--but they are holding a North Carolinian hostage. 
They are subjecting him to a kangaroo court, and they think it is OK. 
For the first time in the history of an alliance, for a NATO alliance 
partner to behave this way is unacceptable.
  So we have taken all the steps we could diplomatically, and it hasn't 
worked to this point. Now we have to take additional steps, and one of 
those steps is to put a provision in the national defense authorization 
bill that asks certain questions about the long-term nature of our 
relationship with Turkey. Turkey is a very important ally in the Middle 
East. I hope that someday I come down to the floor gushing over all the 
great relationships we have. We have many. Their work in Afghanistan is 
important. Their work and fighting in Syria is important. But what is 
more important than anything is the freedom of a man who is held in 
prison and respect for a fellow NATO ally.

  So we have put a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act 
that asks certain questions, like, does Turkey have somebody illegally 
detained, yes or no? And our President can certify one way or the 
other. Does the fact that Turkey is considering the acquisition of the 
S-400 missile system from Russia, which comes with it a lot of 
intelligence gathering and other tools that could put the safety and 
security of the Air Force base that we have in Turkey and the 
manufacturing operations for the Joint Strike Fighter in Turkey at 
risk--certify one way or the other.
  Incidentally, because we rely on Turkey for the supply chain for the 
Joint Strike Fighter and if that supply chain were to shut down, if 
Turkey continued to drift further away as a NATO ally--does it make 
sense to have the entire manufacturing supply chain of the Joint Strike 
Fighter dependent on a country that is drifting away from the nations 
that are members of NATO?
  Those are simple provisions. We are asking the President of the 
United States to certify one way or the other. If he can't certify it, 
then we have to really start questioning just how much further we can 
go with a country that is holding an American citizen, with a country 
that is considering a would-be adversary's missile defense system, and 
with a country that is a critical link in the supply chain for the 
Joint Strike Fighter.
  We will be going into conference fairly soon on the national defense 
authorization. I am asking all of my colleagues--the 70 who signed on 
to a letter expressing their concern with the detainment of Pastor 
Brunson--to stick with us to make sure that provision makes it out of 
conference and that we hold Turkey accountable.
  It is within President Erdogan's power to end this now. I would love 
to come back to the floor next week and not be talking about the 
illegal detainment but talking about a freed man and an improving 
relationship with Turkey.
  My last message is to the Turkish people. This is not about the 
Turkish people. They are wonderful people. I have traveled to Turkey 
several times in various official capacities. They are wonderful people 
who love freedom and want freedom just like we have in the United 
States. This is about an administration that needs to understand what 
it means to be a NATO ally. It is about an administration that needs to 
understand what a real, independent judiciary looks like. It is about 
an administration that needs to be put on notice until they take the 
positive step in that direction.
  Madam President, thank you very much. I hope I don't have to come to 
the floor next week when you are presiding and present this same 
speech, but I promise you, as long as I am a Senator and Pastor Brunson 
is in prison, I will be back.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cotton). The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, this week we are considering the bipartisan 
farm bill. The Senator from Mississippi who was just presiding, the 
Presiding Officer, and I were all raised on farms, so we have an 
immediate sense that this must be pretty important because of where we 
grew up and how we grew up. But I think people have less and less 
connection with what it really takes to grow the food and fiber we need 
in this country. The farm bill doesn't have quite the same resonance it 
used to have in terms of millions and millions and millions of families 
watching carefully to see what the Congress is going to do. In fact, 
the families who watch this most closely today may very well be the 
families who benefit from the nutrition parts of the farm bill. The 
vast majority of spending is in the nutrition parts of the farm bill. 
The truth is that if you don't have what people need to sustain 
themselves, nutrition policy really doesn't matter unless what we do in 
agriculture works. So a lot of the debate here is about that.
  In my State of Missouri, we have nearly 100,000 farms. The vast 
majority of those are family-owned and cover two-thirds of the total 
land of our State. The industry supports 400,000 jobs in a State of 6 
million people, so it has a substantial impact on what we do. The 
Mississippi Valley, where the Presiding Officer and I are located, is 
the biggest piece of contiguous agricultural ground in the world, and 
we are in the middle of that.
  In terms of production in the United States, Missouri ranks second in 
the number of beef cows; fourth in rice; fifth in turkeys; sixth in 
soybeans; seventh in hogs; ninth in corn; and tenth in cotton. So there 
are a number of places in the farm bill that impact us, and those crops 
and others that we might not rank quite so high in are still an 
important part of our economy.
  World food demand is expected to double in the next 30 years or so. 
That is an easy thing to say and an easy thing to hear, but it is sort 
of a hard thing to think about. With all the time

[[Page S4482]]

in which people have been trying to develop better and better 
agriculture--we think it took about 10,000 years to raise all the food 
we raise today--we have about 30 years to figure out how to raise twice 
as much food as we raise today, and we are likely to need to do that on 
no more land than we are doing it on now and with fewer inputs. We will 
need to do that in a way that probably uses not just less water per 
amount of food grown, but less water totally--not just less fertilizer 
per crop, but less fertilizer totally. So we will need a lot of 
science-based work to figure out how we meet this incredible 
opportunity and challenge of doubling all the food we grow.
  I saw some FFA students under a big shade tree looking back at the 
Capitol on two different days last week. Both times I said: I really 
can't think of any group I can talk to where I could say with such 
certainty that no matter what you do, understand that agriculture in 
the next 30 years as a part of our economy is going to be twice as big 
the day you retire from whatever you decide to do as it was the day you 
started. It would take a cataclysmic event for that not to be true.
  I said just a minute ago that world food demand will double in about 
30 years. We think world food needs will double in 40 years. What is 
the difference? In 40 years, we will have to have that much food to 
feed all the people there are to feed. We think that in 30 years it 
will have to double to meet people's demands for the kinds of food they 
want to buy. No matter what, in 40 years, twice as much food as we have 
today will be needed.
  This farm bill gives us the chance to advance the kinds of policies 
that allow us to meet that challenge. It is a bipartisan bill. Chairman 
Roberts and Senator Stabenow, the top Democrat on the committee, have 
worked hard to produce this bill. Like all pieces of bipartisan 
legislation, it is not the bill either of them would have written on 
their own, but it is a bill that can and should pass.
  It makes difficult decisions on how to balance priorities and 
maintain budget discipline at the same time. It is logically connected 
with helping those who grow our food--the people who determine whether 
we have an affordable and dependable supply of food, fuel, and fiber. 
All of that is at stake in this legislation.
  The farm bill we are considering provides certainty for farmers. Like 
the farm bill we did 5 years ago, it takes a different course. It stays 
where we were. This is more evolutionary than a big revolutionary 
change. Five years ago, we went much more toward risk management, where 
the Federal Government basically helped put an insurance kind of 
component together to insure against the many things that happen in the 
life of a farm family and in the life of growing food. You don't 
control the weather. You don't control the prices. You don't control 
much of anything. You just hope that everything works out and allows 
you to continue to do something that in the case of almost all farm 
families in America, they love to do and that is why they do it.
  The bill makes forward-looking investments to help new and beginning 
farmers. The average age of farmers in America today is almost 60. That 
means half the farmers are over 60, and half the farmers are under 60. 
Obviously, we have to be concerned. We are concerned about pilots and 
say: Gee, we are running out of pilots because military-trained pilots 
are not going to be available to us. We are also about to run out of 
  If half the farmers in the country today are over 60, we need to be 
looking for ways to allow beginning farmers to farm and to meet the 
needs as well as the opportunities of a growing world where, with fewer 
resources and the same amount of land, as I said before, we are going 
to have this great opportunity.
  Nobody in the world is better at this than we are, and nobody in the 
world is better positioned than we are to get ag products all over the 
world. This is a huge opportunity for our country. In my State--the one 
I know more about than any other State--we are home to world-class 
animal and plant scientists. There are more plant scientists within 100 
miles of St. Louis, MO, than there are anywhere else in the world in 
the same amount of space. The farm bill will continue to allow those 
things to move forward and, again, try to do more with less and produce 
a better quality product with less input. As farmers deal with the 
unpredictability of the weather and the market, this is designed to 
help provide stability as that market grows.

  To go back to where I was a minute ago, I believe the biggest 
economic transactional group in America on any given day--people buying 
food, fuel, and fiber--relates to agriculture. That is going to double 
in less than one working lifetime. That is almost never going to work 
out exactly right. The weather will not be right; the world crops will 
not be what we thought they were going to be. We want to be sure people 
don't give up on this opportunity because it is also such a big 
  How do you communicate in a world environment with this kind of 
challenge? The bill also makes investments in rural America to expand 
high-speed broadband and improve rural infrastructure, something the 
President, in every discussion I have heard on infrastructure, talks 
about 25 percent of this needing to go to rural infrastructure. But 
part of that infrastructure is wireless technology and wireless 
  If you are going to have precision farming, if you are going to not 
put more cost into parts of your field than you should, you and your 
equipment need to know exactly where you are--I mean precisely where 
you are. You can't do that if you are not connected to broadband in 
some way. The GPS systems, the data centers, the automation systems 
just don't work without that. If you don't have high-speed internet, 
you don't have high-speed commodity trading capacity. So while somebody 
maybe 10 miles down the road from you has instantaneous ability to take 
advantage of a market to buy or sell, yours may be just slow enough 
that you miss the moment.
  So the ability to live in rural America, to thrive in rural America, 
and to farm as you are going to need to farm for the world we are about 
to get into is really important. This farm bill isn't just about 
economic security, although that is a big part of it. It is also about 
what it takes daily to sustain yourself and those you care about.
  As I said, the nutrition programs are now a significant majority of 
farm bill spending. We are going to debate how some of that money 
should be spent. But we are entering a time of great opportunity--a 
time where Americans, particularly in the middle of the country, are 
really good when you have an economy that is production-oriented, based 
on growing things and making things, and that growing-things economy is 
a lot bigger than just production agriculture. It is production 
agriculture; it is food processing; it is insuring what happens on the 
farm; it is transportation. We are one incident away from identifying 
where all that food has been all the time.
  I am glad we are getting to the farm bill as quickly as we are. I 
hope we can pass our bill, come to conference with the House, and put a 
bill on the President's desk as soon as possible, so with all of the 
other things that farmers and their families have to deal with, the one 
thing they will know with some certainty is what the Federal farm bill 
and what Federal nutrition programs are going to look like over the 
next handful of years.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill 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 (Mr. Daines). Without objection, it is so 

                 Retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, just a few moments ago, Justice Anthony 
Kennedy announced that he is retiring as an Associate Justice of the 
U.S. Supreme Court and taking senior status, effective July 31.
  First and foremost, I want to pause and express our gratitude for the 
extraordinary service that Justice Kennedy has offered our Nation. He 
has served on the Federal bench for 43 years.
  In particular, we owe him a debt of thanks for his ardent defense of 

[[Page S4483]]

First Amendment right to political speech. As Justice Kennedy concludes 
his tenure on the Court, we wish him, his wife, Mary, and their family 
every happiness in the years ahead.
  The Senate stands ready to fulfill its constitutional role by 
offering advice and consent on President Trump's nominee to fill this 
vacancy. We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy's successor this fall. 
As in the case of Justice Gorsuch, Senators will have the opportunity 
to meet with President Trump's nominee, examine his or her 
qualifications, and debate the nomination.
  I have every confidence in Chairman Grassley's conduct of the 
upcoming confirmation process in the Judiciary Committee. It is 
imperative that the President's nominee be considered fairly and not be 
subjected to personal attacks.
  Thus far, President Trump's judicial nominations have reflected a 
keen understanding of the vital role that judges play in our 
constitutional order. Judges must interpret the law fairly and apply it 
evenhandedly. Judicial decisions must not flow from judges' personal 
philosophies or preferences but from the honest assessment of the words 
and actual meaning of the law. This bedrock principle has clearly 
defined the President's excellent choices to date, and we will look 
forward to yet another outstanding selection.
  But, today, the Senate and the Nation thank Justice Kennedy for his 
years of service on the bench and for his many contributions to 
jurisprudence and to our Nation.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Toomey). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, we recently received news that Justice 
Anthony Kennedy will be retiring, leaving a vacancy on the Nation's 
highest Court. This is the most important Supreme Court vacancy for 
this country in at least a generation. Nothing less than the fate of 
our healthcare system, reproductive rights for women, and countless 
other protections for middle-class Americans are at stake.
  Will Republicans and President Trump nominate and vote for someone 
who will preserve protections for people with preexisting conditions, 
or will they support a Justice who will put health insurance companies 
over patients or put the Federal Government between a woman and her 
  The Senate should reject, on a bipartisan basis, any Justice who 
would overturn Roe v. Wade or undermine key healthcare protections. The 
Senate should reject anyone who will instinctively side with powerful 
special interests over the interests of average Americans.
  Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they 
set in 2016 not to consider a Supreme Court Justice in an election 
year. Senator McConnell would tell anyone who listened that the Senate 
had the right to advise and consent, and that was every bit as 
important as the President's right to nominate.
  Millions of people are just months away from determining the Senators 
who should vote to confirm or reject the President's nominee, and their 
voices deserve to be heard now as Leader McConnell thought they 
deserved to be heard then. Anything but that would be the absolute 
height of hypocrisy.
  People from all across America should realize that their rights and 
opportunities are threatened. Americans should make their voices heard 
loudly, clearly, and consistently. Americans should make it clear that 
they will not tolerate a nominee, chosen from President Trump's 
preordained list and selected by powerful special interests, who will 
reverse the progress we have made over the decades.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. President, I am here to talk about the bipartisan, 
commonsense farm bill that we are working on in the Senate this week.
  Agriculture is an essential part of the fabric that defines my home 
State of Indiana. Hoosier farmers are growing the food that feeds our 
families. Biofuel producers are making the ethanol and biodiesel that 
drive our economy. Ag students and researchers are developing the 
technologies of tomorrow. Together, they represent the best of Hoosier 
  Right now, Hoosiers farmers in our communities are navigating 
significant challenges. They need us to work together to help provide 
solutions. Our farmers are dealing with turmoil on the international 
marketplace, uncertainty in Federal policies, like the RFS, and low 
commodity prices that, in many cases, are below the cost of production. 
This farm bill can provide our ag community with some stability, and we 
need to ensure that we do our part to get it across the finish line.
  Here is how Indiana Farm Bureau president Randy Kron described the 

       Farmers are relying on the Senate to pass a farm bill that 
     will allow them to plan for their operations with some level 
     of certainty for the next five years and provide a safety net 
     in case extreme weather or a natural disaster damages their 
     crops. Indiana's farmers are facing a lot of uncertainties 
     right now.
       The dairy industry is facing low prices and lost contracts, 
     there are fears over potential retaliatory tariffs and their 
     impacts, there is a grain surplus that has brought commodity 
     prices down drastically as well as the uncertainty of the 
     Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
       Net farm income is down more than 50% compared to just five 
     years ago, and the agriculture community is depending on the 
     passage of this farm bill.
       If our nation's farmers have the programs and assurances 
     they need, all U.S. citizens will reap the benefit of 
     quality, affordable food in our grocery stores.

  Phil Ramsey, a corn and soybean farmer from Shelbyville, IN, and the 
chairman of membership and policy for the Indiana Soybean Alliance, 
described the challenges farmers are facing by saying:

       After a spring that has challenged our farms from nearly 
     every angle, Hoosiers and rural Americans need a Farm Bill 
     now more than ever. With farm income down . . . input costs 
     skyrocketing, the ethanol industry constantly under attack, 
     and disrupted trade relations sharply driving down prices, 
     the stability and safety net provided by the Farm Bill are 
     critical to our farmers and ranchers across the nation.

  Randy and Phil are right. Now, more than ever, farmers need us to do 
our job, to put together a farm bill that makes sense and gives them 
the opportunity to succeed.
  A farm bill that gives us the best opportunities to be successful 
will help farmers manage the risks outside of their control, but it is 
about much more than that. It is also about helping rural communities 
thrive and also about fighting food insecurity. It is about investing 
in tomorrow's farms and the most advanced technologies. It is about 
ensuring that Hoosiers have the resources and the tools to develop new 
markets for their products anywhere in the world. It is about promoting 
conversation so that farms and natural habitats remain healthy, 
generation after generation, and doing the conservation work to make 
that possible.
  Because there is more wisdom in Indiana than in Washington, DC, I 
firmly believe a good farm bill is one that is written with input 
directly from Hoosiers and that addresses issues important to our 
State. From Wayne County to Evansville to Washington, IN, to DeKalb 
County, to Jasper County, to Rensselaer, across our State there are 
great ideas, great leadership, and great entrepreneurial skills that 
can help us build the best farm bill possible. That is why I took every 
opportunity to listen to the priorities and concerns of Hoosiers who 
are involved in nearly every segment of our State's agriculture 
community during my farm bill listening tour and in meetings over the 
past year-plus. From student groups and researchers to anti-hunger 
advocates, to soybean and corn growers, to pork and dairy farmers, and 
to just about everyone in between, I wanted to hear from all of them 
about what this farm bill should do.
  I am not hired help for the people of Indiana. I work for all of our 
citizens. I took what I heard from Hoosiers, and I worked with my 
colleagues to develop this bill, to work this bill, and to successfully 
secure provisions that would include risk management tools for our 
farmers, while still ensuring full planting flexibility; to expand 
market opportunities for Hoosiers products; to

[[Page S4484]]

promote impactful, voluntary conservation activities; to help fight the 
opioid epidemic, which is a scourge on our State and our country; to 
support rural communities with investments in high-speed internet and 
waste and drinking-water infrastructure; to fight against food 
insecurity; and to invest in the research necessary for tomorrow's 
  I would like to highlight a few of the Hoosiers priorities in this 
bill. One of my top priorities was helping to fight the opioid epidemic 
in rural communities. We know it will take all of us, working together, 
to confront this opioid epidemic--this horrible nightmare that we have. 
We have more work to do to stem the tide of this public health crisis 
in our rural communities.
  I am pleased this bill includes three of my bipartisan provisions 
that combat the opioid epidemic by targeting telemedicine and community 
facility investments for substance abuse treatment as well as by 
investing in prevention and education programs. We want all of our 
families to be safe. We want all of our citizens across this country to 
avoid this scourge. We lost over 60,000 of our fellow brothers and 
sisters across this country to drug abuse last year. We do not want to 
lose one more, and we want this farm bill to help end this.
  These provisions I have discussed were developed from my bipartisan 
rural opioids package I introduced with my friend, Chairman Pat 
Roberts, then-Senator Strange, and with Senator John Hoeven from North 
Dakota in 2017. I thank all of them for partnering with me on these 
  I have also advocated for efforts to ensure that farmers are provided 
the tools they need to be good stewards for our environment, to hand 
off to our children and grandchildren, and an even safer, better, 
stronger planet.
  This bill will eliminate potential disincentives for voluntary 
conservation practices like cover crops and supports soil health 
improvement programs.
  It also allows States to increase cost sharing for the most impactful 
conservation practices. Soil health and clean water are a passion for 
many Hoosiers, and for many Hoosier farmers, and this bill helps in 
those efforts. The need to expand market opportunities has also come up 
in my conversations with our farmers. I am fully committed to expanding 
market opportunities for our ag products.
  This farm bill will increase opportunities for Hoosier farmers 
through export promotion programs. I worked with my colleagues on 
proposals to open up more markets for American exports, including my 
bipartisan bill that increases investments in two important export 
promotion programs: the Foreign Market Development Program and the 
Market Assistance Program. This is legislation I introduced in 
September of 2017 with my friends and Senators Joni Ernst of Iowa, 
Angus King of Maine, and Susan Collins of Maine.
  I have also worked to ensure full planting flexibility for our 
farmers who want to plant fruits and vegetables. This ensures that 
farmers can diversify their farms without worrying about losing access 
to commodity support programs in the future. It may sound a little bit 
technical, but it is critically important, and we have to make sure it 
gets done.
  Ensuring planting flexibility is a strong passion of mine. It builds 
on the bipartisan bill I introduced with Senator Todd Young, my 
colleague from our home State, in December of 2017, and it also builds 
on my work in the 2014 and the 2008 farm bill.
  Another important issue I care deeply about is helping those 
struggling with food insecurity. I am really proud that this bipartisan 
bill strengthens the oversight of the SNAP program and helps to fight 
food insecurity by reforming food assistance programs while protecting 
access to benefits and maintaining the integrity of the programs. It 
makes it easier for seniors to access food assistance by reducing 
burdensome paperwork. This is based on legislation I worked on with my 
friend Bob Casey from Pennsylvania.
  Providing for the future of agriculture by making the investments in 
vital research and extension activities is another priority. This bill 
contains a provision of mine that reauthorizes and revamps the New Era 
Rural Technology Program to help our community colleges fund efforts to 
develop a workforce trained in the precision agriculture technologies 
that are expected to continue to improve the efficiency of modern 
  I have a few more amendments I am hoping we can get adopted this 
week, including one that increases funding for the Emergency Food 
Assistance Program. This helps food banks and pantries respond to the 
needs of their local communities.
  I have also introduced a bipartisan amendment with Senators Smith and 
Fischer. It allows community colleges serving rural areas to receive 
funding through USDA's Essential Community Facilities Program. This 
helps ensure rural communities have the local educational opportunities 
that can help our children thrive, that can help our friends and 
neighbors thrive, and that can help create success in every county in 
my State and across our country.
  Finally, I thank all of my colleagues on the Senate Agriculture 
Committee for their efforts to ensure that we had strong bipartisan 
support for getting the farm bill to this point. Everybody worked 
incredibly hard; everybody focused on doing what was right for America 
and not worrying about politics; and everybody focused on how we can 
help our ag community be stronger, have more success, and do even 
better in the future.
  Our farmers need us to continue working together as advocates for 
agriculture and for a farm bill that supports their hard work.
  The ag community gets up in the dark, works all day, and goes home in 
the dark. They are an incredible example for everybody in our country 
about dedication to family and faith and community and country.
  I know the farmers of Indiana and in Hoosier rural communities are 
tired of being pawns to partisan politics. They have been dealing with 
depressed commodity prices, chaotic trade markets, and the uncertainty 
of Federal policies, whether it was the previous administration's 
expansion of the WOTUS rule or this administration's efforts to 
undermine the RFS.
  It is time for us to do our part to make sure this is a strong 
bipartisan bill and that it is an example of us working together--not 
as Democrats or as Republicans but as Americans--to do good things for 
our economy and for our people.
  I urge the Senate to promptly pass this bill so we can conference 
with the House and get this to the President's desk as quickly as 
possible. Farmers and rural communities in Indiana and across our 
country are counting on us. It is an incredible privilege to represent 
our ag community on the Agriculture Committee and to work with the farm 
bill to make the lives of everybody in our farming communities better, 
stronger, and even more successful.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. ROBERTS. 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. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that it be in 
order to call up the following amendments to the substitute amendment 
No. 3224: the amendment by Senator Lee, No. 3074, and the amendment by 
Senator Durbin, No. 3103.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, in this farm 
bill, when it was considered in committee, there was an amendment added 
that allows for American agricultural interests to promote American 
agriculture on the enslaved island of Cuba.
  In an effort to be accommodating, I have said: Well, that is fine. It 
is not a very large market, and, frankly, as long as we are not lending 
them money--because they are never going to pay us back--I am not going 
to object to the ability of American farmers to market our products to 
a market. In the end, it is food.
  What I do think we should not allow, however, is the ability to spend 
American taxpayer money in properties and in other places on the island 
that are owned and controlled by the Cuban

[[Page S4485]]

military. Last year, President Trump issued an Executive order that 
prohibited American citizens who traveled to Cuba from staying at 
hotels or frequenting businesses or anything of this nature that is 
controlled by GAESA, which is a holding company controlled by the Cuban 
  So what I have proposed as a way forward on this is to basically say: 
That is fine. You can promote American agriculture in Cuba. But while 
you are there and doing your activities, you can promote it, but you 
just can't spend any of these taxpayer dollars at any of the facilities 
or businesses controlled or owned by the Cuban military. The list is 
detailed and provided by the State Department via Executive order.
  That is the amendment I offered. To date, we have not been able to 
get it considered as part of any of these vehicles that are moving. 
Therefore, procedurally, I am wanting to protect my right to ensure 
this gets included in something that is incredibly important from my 
perspective, so I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I want to indicate I certainly 
understand the concerns of the Senator from Florida, and we have been 
looking for the last 2 days to find a resolution. There are multiple 
interests on various sides of this issue on Cuba that we are trying to 
work through so that we can move forward on this as well as other 
  As the chairman has indicated, there are two amendments we are trying 
to get pending so that we can move forward and take the next steps to 
be able to come to a resolution and get to a final vote on the farm 
bill, which our farmers, ranchers, and families in rural communities 
are very anxious to have us do.
  We will continue to work, as we have all day and as we did yesterday, 
looking for ways to resolve this and to be able to move forward. 
Hopefully, we can do that because there are a lot of folks really 
counting on us to come together and get this done.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I would only add at this point--and I 
think Members who have paid attention to this debate at all or to this 
particular issue are probably a little tired of hearing this, but maybe 
there are some who haven't really grasped the issue. We have to get a 
farm bill.
  We are the Agriculture Committee. Agriculture is in dire need of this 
farm bill--the farmers, the ranchers, the growers, their lenders, and 
everybody up the food chain. Our situation being what it is, I 
certainly hope that improves.
  Many people, of course, are interested in opening up any bill to 
amendments, having regular order, and voting on their amendments. I 
understand that. I think there are about 146 amendments we have agreed 
to. We are reaching out to people and urging them to come forward and, 
on a bipartisan basis, agree on these amendments or modify them and 
then agree to them. So it isn't as if we have not done that.
  At some point, we have to pass this bill. The issue is so paramount 
and the situation is so dire--on behalf of the folks who produce the 
food and fiber for this country in a troubled and hungry world to at 
least go on for another year--that it is paramount over any other 
issue, despite the fact that some people want to come in under a reform 
they believe would be very salutary, and I understand that. Again, we 
have to pass this bill.
  With that observation, I hope people can understand and we can get 
some agreement with regard to some of these issues. None of my remarks 
are intended to impugn in any way the interest of the distinguished 
Senator from Florida.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.

                           Women's Healthcare

  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, 2 years ago, the Supreme Court handed down 
its decision in Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, which reaffirmed 
the longstanding view that the government should not be in the business 
of deciding what kind of healthcare a woman in America can or cannot 
receive. A number of my colleagues are going to be coming to the floor 
to discuss this issue. It was a crucial victory. My colleagues who have 
been so involved in this issue over the years--Senator Murray and 
Senator Blumenthal--and I as the ranking Democrat on the Finance 
Committee have tried to do everything we possibly could because our 
committee has extensive jurisdiction over women's healthcare in a 
variety of programs that are crucial for women. It is in that context 
that I want to reflect on what has happened since the Supreme Court 
handed down that crucial victory, that important win for women's 
healthcare as embodied in Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt.
  At every turn since the President went to the White House, the 
President's administration has put themselves in between American women 
and their doctors. The President has sought to prevent healthcare 
providers from sharing critical care information. The President has 
sought to place restrictions on health clinics that women rely on every 
single day for lifesaving services, such as cancer screenings, 
physicals, prenatal care, and more. He has again and again sought to 
place restrictions on and attempted to defund health clinics, such as 
Planned Parenthood, that women in America rely on every single day for 
lifesaving services, such as cancer screenings, physicals, prenatal 
care, and more.
  I hope colleagues will look at the words that I used to describe 
those lifesaving services--lifesaving services that have absolutely 
nothing to do with abortion--nothing--cancer screenings, physicals, 
prenatal care, and more. That is what the President sought to place 
restrictions on and attempted to defund in terms of health clinics that 
offer those services.
  The latest blow to the cause of making sure women can go to the 
healthcare providers of their choosing came yesterday from the Supreme 
Court. Yesterday, the Court in effect opened the door for deceptive 
crisis pregnancy centers that are allowed to lie to women about what 
kind of care they are able to receive.
  All of these developments demonstrate that the effort for affordable, 
accessible healthcare is far from done, and it is going to take a 
constant push to ensure that healthcare in America moves forward and 
not backward.
  In my view, one of the biggest threats to Americans' healthcare is 
the Trump administration's full-throated endorsement of repealing 
preexisting condition protections. That is particularly important for 
women who count on these essential consumer protections to get 
affordable care for all services.
  American women don't want to turn back the clock to the days where 
health insurance was more expensive by default for women because 
maternity care and other services weren't covered in standard plans. 
Women don't want to be denied health insurance because of a cancer 
scare they had a few years back or a small preventive surgery. That was 
the reality before the Affordable Care Act.
  I can only say that at one time, Democrats and Republicans here in 
the Senate felt very strongly about loophole-free, airtight protection 
for women and men and all Americans against discrimination for 
preexisting conditions. I know that because in the context of debating 
the Affordable Care Act, I was the sponsor of legislation, the Healthy 
Americans Act, which had seven Democrats and seven Republicans as 
cosponsors. Our proposal did have loophole-free, airtight protection 
for women and all Americans against discrimination for preexisting 
conditions. Essentially, what we seven Democrats and seven Republicans 
proposed is what became part of the Affordable Care Act provisions 
against discriminating against those with preexisting conditions, and 
it is those protections, which are now law, which the Trump 
administration seeks to roll back.
  It is not widely known that it is not just men and women in the 
individual healthcare market whom the President's reckless approach on 
preexisting conditions is actually threatening. If the Trump 
administration is successful, protections for the 167 million Americans 
with employer-sponsored health insurance will also lose the Affordable 
Care Act's airtight, loophole-free preexisting condition protections.

[[Page S4486]]

That means America would be turning back the clock on healthcare, and 
an employer could once again put their bottom line over the health of 
the American people. Back then, it meant individuals were prevented 
from getting healthcare for months or leaving care for their 
preexisting condition uncovered. I think it is pretty clear that the 
American people do not want to return to a system like that.
  Over the Fourth of July break, I will be heading back to Oregon. I am 
going to have my 900th townhall meeting--900 meetings where, for an 
hour and a half, I don't give any speeches; folks can just come in and 
say what is on their minds and say what is important to them. I would 
say that at a significant number of those 900 open-to-all, 90-minute 
townhall meetings in Oregon, folks at home talk about the importance of 
the issue I have just described--the protection for women and men and 
all Americans against discrimination for preexisting conditions.
  Certainly, women in America can't afford to return to a system where 
they are systemically discriminated against. Women have been on the 
frontlines, standing up and speaking out to ensure that doesn't happen, 
ever since Donald Trump was elected.
  I thank my colleagues, particularly Senator Murray and Senator 
Blumenthal, who have been our leaders on this effort. As the ranking 
Democrat on the Finance Committee, I try to do everything I can to help 
them in their good work, and I appreciate their taking the time to 
point out that it has been 2 years since the Supreme Court handed down 
a historic decision that actually protected women and why we all feel 
so strongly about not walking back that decision.
  I thank Senator Murray, and I yield my time to her.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gardner). The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Oregon.

                 Retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy

  I would just say I have been planning to come to the floor about a 
specific issue related to women's healthcare and rights and freedoms, 
but before I get to that, I want to comment on the news that is clearly 
very closely connected.
  It is clear that Justice Kennedy's retirement comes at a pivotal 
point in our Nation's history, when so many of our values are under 
attack by a President who has spent every day in office testing the 
limits of our Constitution.
  I share the deep concern of so many families across this country who 
are already suffering under the Trump administration and fear further 
erosion of the progress in this country.
  So, first, I want to be clear. I am hopeful that Republican leaders 
go back and look at what they said very recently and give families 
across the country the opportunity to weigh in with an election before 
moving forward to fill this seat. We don't know whom President Trump 
will nominate just yet or when he will make that nomination, but I want 
to go back to something my dear friend and colleague Senator Kennedy 
said because it highlights the stakes right now. He was talking about 
an extreme nominee, Robert Bork. He said:

       Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be 
     forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at 
     segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down 
     citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not 
     be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be 
     censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the 
     federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of 
     citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector 
     of the individual rights that are at the heart of our 

  Robert Bork was rejected, and Justice Kennedy took his place.
  Today, we face similar stakes right now, in this moment. Voting 
rights are at stakes. LGBTQ rights are at stake. The right to organize 
collectively is at stake. Those are just a few. There are a lot more.
  Families across the country are paying attention, and they are going 
to be watching what President Trump and individual Members of this 
Senate do right now. This is what they are going to want to know: Will 
their rights be protected? Will their freedoms be secure? Will the 
Supreme Court put people like them first, or will they stand with 
special interests, big business, and the most extreme ideologues in our 
country? Those are the questions people across this country will be 
asking. That is the conversation I expect we will have here in the 
Senate, and that is what President Trump should be considering as he 
thinks about this issue and hopefully as he slows this down and gives 
people across the country a chance to weigh in.

                           Women's Healthcare

  Mr. President, one issue I know women across the country will be 
focused on and asking about is their constitutionally protected right 
to control their own healthcare decisions affirmed in Roe v. Wade, 
because, let me be clear, women and men in this country understand how 
directly tied this right is to a woman's freedom and economic security, 
and they overwhelmingly do not want to see that right rolled back.
  Today is the anniversary of a ruling that further upheld women's 
constitutionally protected reproductive rights, and I want to take a 
few minutes today to discuss what this decision meant for women's lives 
and why we will not stop fighting to protect the progress we have made.
  Almost half a century ago, in its historic Roe v. Wade decision, the 
Supreme Court ruled that every woman, no matter where she lives, has 
the constitutional right to make her own decisions about her body, her 
family, and her future, including the right to safe, legal abortion. 
But a right means nothing without the ability to exercise it.
  While Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for years, extreme 
conservatives have continually tried to undermine the Court's decision 
by peddling ideological policies that would make it hard for women to 
exercise their reproductive rights.
  Women across the country have not been silent about these efforts and 
neither has the Supreme Court. Two years ago, the Court reaffirmed the 
rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade when it ruled in favor of Whole Woman's 
Health and struck down an anti-abortion law in Texas that was designed 
to make it harder for women to access the care they need.
  The law in Texas attempted to undermine women's reproductive freedom 
by putting access to that care far out of reach for women. If it had 
been allowed to stand, the law would have closed three-quarters of the 
clinics in the State that provided abortion services. If it had been 
allowed to stand, hundreds of thousands of women would have no option 
but to travel hundreds of miles for their reproductive health services.
  The Texas law didn't stand; women's constitutional rights did. That 
Supreme Court ruling sent a strong message, one women have been making 
for years, and one we continue to make clear today: Politicians have no 
business interfering with a woman's most personal decisions.
  Unfortunately, many people on the right continue to ignore that 
message. Unfortunately, they have continued to push for damaging, 
extreme policies that ignore the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and 
women across the country.
  From day one, President Trump and Vice President Pence have made it 
clear that turning back the clock on women's health and reproductive 
rights is a top priority for them. They recently proposed a harmful 
domestic gag rule on Federal family planning funds designed to restrict 
access to healthcare for women, interfere with care providers' ability 
to talk about the full range of reproductive health services with their 
patients, and ultimately make it harder for women to exercise their 
healthcare choices and constitutional rights.
  That is just the latest of so many extreme and ideological steps, 
statements, policies, and appointees that have repeatedly shown the 
Trump administration's hostility to women's rights. We are still seeing 
radical Republicans in many States pushing to put up new barriers, like 
those that were struck down in the Whole Woman's Health case, to 
prevent women from making their own healthcare decisions--barriers that 
would allow perhaps a woman's ZIP Code or her income to determine 
whether she is able to get the care she needs.
  We are also still seeing that every time far-right politicians try 
and bring us a step back, women and men across the country are stepping 
forward and

[[Page S4487]]

speaking out against them, and that is not going to stop. We are going 
to continue to defend women's reproductive rights, on all fronts and 
against all attacks.
  One effort to do that in Congress is the Women's Health Protection 
Act--legislation I am very proud to cosponsor--that would help protect 
women's constitutional rights to safe, legal abortion care and bring 
down harmful, ideological barriers to that care, like the one struck 
down in Texas, once and for all.
  I remember being in the room when the Supreme Court heard the Whole 
Woman's Health case and hearing the skepticism from many Justices as 
they asked thoughtful questions about Texas's flimsy excuses for trying 
to undermine women's rights. I remember being outside of the Court 
shortly afterward and seeing all the women and men making their voices 
heard and fighting for those rights. I remember being moved by the 
personal stories shared by so many women about what the right to make 
their own personal decisions meant for their health, for their family, 
and their opportunities in life.
  I am not going to let anyone forget those stories, including 
President Trump, Vice President Pence, and far-right politicians across 
the country. I am not going stop defending women's health and 
reproductive freedoms. I am not going to stop fighting to make sure our 
daughters and granddaughters have stronger rights and more opportunity, 
not less. I am not going to stop, and I know women and men across the 
country aren't going to either.
  There is no question in my mind that people nationwide understand 
just how important a woman's ability to control her own healthcare 
decision is. This is not about politics. It is about women's health. It 
is about their economic security, about a woman's ability to contribute 
fully and equally in our country.
  I am confident people across the country who do not want to go 
backward will stand up and make their voices heard and reject President 
Trump and Vice President Pence's extreme ideology wherever it rears its 
head. I am hopeful that President Trump takes this to heart as he 
thinks about his Supreme Court vacancy. I am hoping my Republican 
colleagues are paying attention. I am truly hoping President Trump 
decides to listen to people across the country, listen to what 
Republicans just said recently, and not jam a nominee through before 
people have a chance to weigh in.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, first, I wish to thank Senator Blumenthal 
for organizing this block of time and for his continued leadership in 
the fight to protect women's healthcare. Today marks the 2-year 
anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Whole Woman's Health v. 
  That landmark decision struck down two provisions of a Texas law that 
imposed medically unnecessary, burdensome requirements on abortion 
providers and reaffirmed a woman's constitutional right to access safe, 
legal abortion. If the Supreme Court had allowed these provisions to 
stand, more than 75 percent of all reproductive health clinics in Texas 
would have been forced to close, leaving many women unable to access 
the care they need.
  Whole Woman's Health was a significant victory for reproductive 
freedom, but the assault on a woman's constitutionally protected right 
to an abortion has continued unabated over the past 2 years. During 
that time, Iowa passed an outrageous bill that would prohibit women 
from seeking an abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy, often even before 
these women knew they were pregnant.
  West Virginia enacted legislation that would prohibit the State's 
Medicaid Program from covering abortion services for low-income 
residents. Indiana passed an onerous new law requiring physicians to 
report confidential patient information to the State if a woman 
experienced complications from an abortion.
  Louisiana recently passed a law establishing a 15-week abortion ban 
that includes criminal penalties for any physician who performs the 
procedure after that time--with only a very narrow exception to save 
the life of the mother.
  These are the kinds of lengths those who want to limit a woman's 
right to choose will go to. Advocates have recognized the harm these 
laws would have on women and have filed suits to block their 
implementation. Several lower courts have ruled that these restrictions 
are unconstitutional and could come before the Supreme Court for review 
in the months and years ahead. These laws are only a few of the 
hundreds of new restrictions enacted in States across the country that 
are harming women's health and violating their constitutional right to 
an abortion.
  To understand the negative impact of these laws on women, I point to 
a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute that found 58 percent of 
women of reproductive age in our country live in a State considered 
hostile or extremely hostile to abortion rights. Only 30 percent live 
in a State supportive of abortion rights. We are talking about millions 
and millions of women who are living in States that are extremely 
hostile to abortion rights.
  Respect for a woman's constitutional rights should not depend on 
where she lives. Women in Texas, Louisiana, or Iowa deserve the same 
respect as women living in States like Hawaii, where we have some of 
the country's most humane, expansive protections for reproductive 
rights. In fact, Hawaii was the first State in the country to legalize 
abortion. These disparities and protections for women in different 
States can have life-or-death consequences for women in need of 
reproductive healthcare.
  Earlier this year, I shared the story of Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi--an 
abortion services provider who used to practice in Texas but now lives 
and works in Hawaii. Dr. Moayedi's story is worth sharing again because 
it poignantly captures what is at stake for women living in States with 
sweeping abortion restrictions.
  In her letter to me, Dr. Moayedi shared the story of a young woman in 
her Texas town who sought medical treatment with another provider after 
her water broke at 22 weeks. This woman desperately wanted a baby, but 
her fetus was not viable outside the womb. Because of Texas's 
restriction on abortion services, the patient's doctors were unable to 
counsel her on all medically appropriate options, including immediate 
  This patient became increasingly ill and requested an abortion to 
prevent her condition from getting worse. The doctors on her case 
refused this request. Why? Because Texas law would not allow them to 
respond to her request.
  After spending 2 weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, this woman 
was transferred to Dr. Moayedi's care, where she ultimately had to have 
both hands and feet amputated due to severe infection. She also lost 
her baby.
  Dr. Moayedi recently moved from Texas to Hawaii, where she provides 
lifesaving abortion care to women at all stages of pregnancy, including 
a woman with a desired pregnancy who was flown in from a neighbor 
island for management of her previable labor.
  Despite the expert specialist care she received, the patient's water 
broke at 22 weeks. At that point, there was nothing Dr. Moayedi could 
do to prevent labor. She performed an abortion and saved her patient's 
  The stark contrast in outcomes for Dr. Moayedi's two patients is 
completely unnecessary. Women across the country have a constitutional 
right to an abortion, and Congress needs to do more to fight back 
against what States like Texas, Louisiana, and Iowa are doing.
  It is time for Congress to pass comprehensive legislation that 
prevents States from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on 
abortions and that ensures every woman has access to the healthcare 
they need when and where they need it. We need to pass the Women's 
Health Protection Act, a bill introduced by Senator Blumenthal and one 
I have supported since its introduction in 2013.
  This critical piece of legislation would explicitly prohibit States 
from imposing restrictions that limit women's access to safe and legal 
abortion services. It would prevent States like Iowa, Louisiana, and 
Mississippi from imposing abortion bans before viability; it would 
preclude States like Arkansas from restricting access to medication 
abortion; and it would stop

[[Page S4488]]

States like Texas from passing laws that impose arbitrary and 
capricious requirements on facilities and abortion providers that do 
not improve the health of their patients.
  Passing this legislation is particularly important following Justice 
Kennedy announcing his retirement. The fundamental rights of women 
should not be subject to the whims of Donald Trump and whomever he 
selects to fill Justice Kennedy's seat. Congress needs to take decisive 
action to protect a woman's right to choose. I urge my colleagues to 
join me in supporting the passage of the Women's Health Protection Act.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.

                 Retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy

  Ms. HASSAN. Mr. President, before I begin my remarks concerning the 
Women's Health Protection Act, I want to state for the record that 
given Justice Kennedy's announcement today that he will retire, and 
there will therefore be a vacancy on the Supreme Court, any nominee for 
the Supreme Court must be committed to protecting the rights of all 
Americans, including the reproductive rights of women. Nominees can't 
just be focused on protecting corporate special interests and the 
powerful few. I also continue to believe that Supreme Court nominees 
should have broad support from both political parties and be able to 
clear a 60-vote threshold. A strong and independent judiciary that is 
above politics and is willing to stop abuses of power is more important 
than ever given that our current President regularly disregards 
established democratic norms and voices contempt for constitutional 

                           Women's Healthcare

  Mr. President, with this attention on the Supreme Court, it is 
appropriate that I rise on the 2-year anniversary of a critical victory 
for women and families across our Nation.
  Two years ago, the Supreme Court's ruling in Whole Woman's Health v. 
Hellerstedt reaffirmed that every woman has the right to make her own 
healthcare decisions and chart her own destiny. This decision preserved 
women's access to critical health services and reinforced that placing 
an undue burden on abortion access violates the 14th Amendment of the 
  Unfortunately, despite the fact that the Court has made this clear, 
politicians in Washington and in States across our country have made it 
their mission to undermine women's access to safe and legal abortions. 
Here in Congress, we have seen bill after bill that marginalizes women 
and restricts their fundamental rights, and my colleagues on the other 
side of the aisle have confirmed Trump administration officials and 
judges who are vehemently opposed to women having the freedom to make 
their own healthcare decisions.
  Additionally, State legislatures have pushed a number of burdensome 
restrictions. Politicians have pushed these restrictions under the 
guise of protecting women's health, but in the Whole Woman's Health 
case, the Supreme Court called their bluff and stated that the real 
point of these State laws was to deny women access to care.
  Unfortunately, many States have remained persistent in their efforts. 
Since that 2016 decision, State legislatures have introduced 1,039 
restrictive bills and have passed 180 of them. These bills have focused 
on everything from closing abortion clinics to criminalizing providers 
who offer reproductive health services. No matter their ZIP codes, 
women deserve equal access to care, but it is clear that there will 
continue to be attempts from politicians to violate women's rights.
  With all of these relentless attacks, it is evident that what we need 
is Federal legislation that protects women's access to care in every 
State throughout our Nation. That is why, last year, I was proud to 
join with dozens of my Democratic colleagues to introduce the Women's 
Health Protection Act.
  This legislation is vital because it protects women from the 
burdensome requirements that States are enacting. It would invalidate 
laws that require women to endure unnecessary tests and procedures and 
would invalidate laws that prevent doctors from prescribing and 
dispensing medication that is medically appropriate. Above all, the 
Women's Health Protection Act would ensure that women across the 
country receive safe, medically sound care if they choose to have an 
  At a time when politicians in Washington and in State legislatures 
continue to marginalize women, I will continue to fight for the Women's 
Health Protection Act because women deserve respect when making their 
most deeply personal healthcare decisions, and they have to have the 
full independence to do so.

                 Tribute to Master Sergeant Lee Hirtle

  Mr. President, I rise to recognize retired Air Force MSgt Lee Hirtle, 
who is also a retired New Hampshire State Trooper of Northfield, NH, as 
the June Granite Stater of the month for his incredible dedication to 
honoring our servicemembers and veterans who have passed.
  Over a decade ago, at a military funeral, Master Sergeant Hirtle 
noticed that ``Taps,'' the traditional bugle call performed at military 
funerals, was playing from a CD player that was hidden behind a 
gravestone. When he returned home from the funeral, Master Sergeant 
Hirtle went to his basement and dusted off his old trumpet--an 
instrument he had not touched since he had been a college student. He 
taught himself to play ``Taps'' and practiced until he was skilled 
enough to play at the funerals of fellow veterans and servicemembers.
  Since playing at his first funeral in 2007, he has sounded ``Taps'' 
over 3,650 times across the Northeast.
  When asked why he continues to sound ``Taps,'' Master Sergeant Hirtle 
talked about his first military funeral. At that funeral, he stood 
alongside a New Hampshire National Guard member named CPL Scott Dimond. 
A year later, after Corporal Dimond was killed while serving in 
Afghanistan, Master Sergeant Hirtle sounded ``Taps'' at his funeral. As 
the master sergeant said, servicemembers like Corporal Dimond--and all 
of our veterans--deserve the live version of ``Taps.''
  We can never fully repay those who have served or have made the 
ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom, but we must commit 
ourselves to honoring those sacrifices. Master Sergeant Hirtle does 
that and is a true embodiment of that commitment. For his dedication to 
honoring those who served, I am so proud to recognize him as the 
Granite Stater of the month.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.

                           Amendment No. 3134

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I rise in support of my amendment, No. 
  By providing haying and grazing flexibility, this amendment would 
offer commonsense and effective land management options for land 
enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, or what we refer to as 
  There are CRP contracts today that are typically 10 to 15 years in 
duration. As it stands, some CRP contracts only allow for vegetative 
cover to be removed once or twice during the life of the contract--a 
practice that is referred to as ``mid contract management.'' Even in 
areas that have experienced a drought or feed shortage, CRP mid 
contract management rules have required vegetative cover on CRP land to 
be destroyed--a practice I have never understood and one about which I 
get a lot of feedback from farmers across South Dakota who don't 
understand it either.
  The amendment before us today would allow haying and grazing under 
terms agreed to between the USDA and State technical committees, with 
safeguards in place that would protect the CRP cover when long-term 
droughts occur. Specifically, the amendment would allow haying and 
grazing on one-third of a producer's CRP contract acres on a rotating 
basis, which would be coupled with a reduction in the CRP rental 
  CRP is important for so many reasons. After more than 30 years, it 
remains the cornerstone of the conservation programs the USDA 
  In my opinion, we need more than the 24 million acres the current CRP 
acreage cap allows. In order to raise this cap in the current budget 
environment, in both the House and the Senate farm bills, the CRP cap 
is raised, and annual CRP rental rates are lowered to 80 and 88.5 
percent of normal rental rates, respectively.
  In other words, to get an additional cap, you have to reduce the 
rental rate in order to offset the cost of raising the cap. The House 
found a way to do that.

[[Page S4489]]

It raised it to 29 million acres in its version of the bill, but it 
lowered rental rates to 80 percent of normal. In the Senate version of 
the bill, it only goes up 1 million acres, from 24 million acres to 25 
million acres, but the rental rate is at 88.5 percent.
  My assumption is that in the conference with the House, when we get 
there, this will be an issue that will be negotiated. Yet, as I said 
before, it makes sense, in my view, to raise that cap because the cap 
today is not sufficient for what the demand is out there and for the 
importance of the program in terms of its impact on production and 
agriculture in our farming and ranching communities.
  The haying and grazing flexibility provisions in this amendment will 
help to offset these lower rental rates and make CRP a viable choice 
for a producer's less productive land in today's very tough agriculture 
  This amendment is a win for farmers and ranchers, and it is a win for 
  I thank Senator Klobuchar, my neighbor from Minnesota, for 
cosponsoring this amendment. I think she will be here, at some point, 
to talk about this as well.
  I thank Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow for following 
through on the commitment that they made at the Ag Committee markup, 
when we were debating this, to work with me on this amendment to 
improve the CRP program.
  I also thank the stakeholder organizations and majority and minority 
committee staff, who worked with my staff over the past 2 weeks to 
reach agreement on the amendment before us today.
  In my view, this strengthens the farm bill, and it strengthens the 
CRP program in a way that many producers, farmers, and ranchers across 
my State have sought for a long time. It allows that added flexibility 
so that they can, on a 3-year basis, rotate and allow a certain amount 
of those CRP acres to be harvested and to do away with this crazy mid 
contract management practice requirement that, as I mentioned earlier, 
has very little support out there in the farm community.
  It also does away with another issue that comes up frequently in 
States like mine when we have a drought. We had one in 2012, and we had 
one last year, in 2017. We had to plead with the USDA to allow 
emergency haying and grazing. This also would eliminate the need for 
that and, on a periodic basis, when we would face those conditions in 
States like South Dakota and in other States across the country.
  I see that the distinguished committee chairman of the Ag Committee 
is here. As I said, I appreciate his leadership on this and on so many 
issues in this farm bill. I hope we get a good, strong, big vote in the 
  Mr. ROBERTS. Will the Senator yield?
  Mr. THUNE. Absolutely. I am happy to yield to the chairman of the Ag 
Committee, Senator Roberts.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I rise in support of my colleague's 
  As Senator Thune indicated, this amendment proposes to make changes 
to the Conservation Reserve Program. Goodness knows that we have been 
working on that for several years. As a matter of fact, I can even 
remember back in the House when I was the original sponsor of the 
Conservation Reserve Program and when Senator Thune was Congressman 
Thune and continued that effort.
  We provide additional flexibilities for the management of routine 
haying and grazing, which the Senator has pointed out.
  The amendment provides greater clarity for when and how often 
producers can conduct the active management of their CRP land. I 
strongly support that, as do all of the members of the committee.
  These flexibilities not only provide a benefit to the producer but a 
more active management of CRP also has a mutual benefit to the wildlife 
that relies upon the habitat created by CRP.
  What the distinguished Senator has pointed out is exactly right in 
that during the Ag Committee markup, both Senator Stabenow and I 
committed to working with him on this priority. I am pleased the 
amendment reflects that bipartisan agreement that has the support of 
the grower and wildlife organizations. I thank my colleague for working 
with Senator Stabenow and me on this amendment. I support it and urge 
my colleagues to do so as well.

  Thanks, dude.
  Mr. THUNE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
  I appreciate that endorsement. Again, I thank you for your hard work 
and that of your staff in helping to structure this in a way that we 
could get the broad support you mentioned from the commodity groups and 
the wildlife groups. I think this is a win-win for conservation and 
certainly a win-win for the CRP program and for the farmers and 
ranchers in South Dakota who--and not just in South Dakota but all 
across the country who make use of this important and vital resource.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.

                               Tax Reform

  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, today I want to talk about the tax reform 
legislation that this body passed at the end of last year. It turns out 
that this week is the 6-month anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 
the tax reform legislation. It is time for us to look at it and 
determine how it is working. It is particularly important because there 
are a number of provisions in the tax legislation that are not 
permanent. In other words, there is a sunset on some of the tax cuts. 
Some of these provisions expire as soon as the end of 2019, which is 
just the end of next year, so it is time to start thinking about how it 
  Second, we have Members on the other side of the aisle saying that we 
ought to get rid of this altogether. That would mean, of course, big 
tax increases for a lot of folks. But let's look at what the results 
are before we take those kinds of votes and make those kinds of 
  I would submit that in the 6 months since it has been put into place, 
it has worked incredibly well for the people I represent, for the 
workers and small businesses I represent, and for those who are 
concerned about getting wages back up, fighting poverty, and helping to 
grow the economy.
  I know that in the debate we are having on the farm bill right now, 
there has been discussion about the food stamp program. One of the 
points that are being made is that food stamp spending is actually down 
right now. It has decreased in the last 6 months. Why? Because the 
economy is improving. That is a good thing.
  Before tax reform, let's face it, our economy was incredibly weak. 
Wages were flat and had been flat for almost a decade. With the 
Congressional Budget Office estimating that this year's growth was 
going to be only 2 percent, we were looking at more weak economic 
performance. We were looking at another year where we were going to be 
performing way below our potential as an economy. So what happened? A 
couple months ago, when the Congressional Budget Office looked at what 
is happening with the economy, which they attributed to pro-growth 
policies, including tax reform, they said: You know what, the economy 
is not going to grow at 2 percent this year. Their projection for this 
year is now 3.3 percent growth. That is a huge difference. Going from 2 
percent to 3.3 percent is going to make a world of difference to people 
in their lives, in our economy, in their ability to see higher wages 
and better jobs.
  The economy is doing better. Six months into this new law, the 
economy is up and running and moving toward its full potential. In the 
most recent Congressional Budget Office estimate for this quarter, it 
looks as though we are going to see some significant growth. There is 
no estimate yet from the CBO, but it was stated that the Federal 
Reserve gave an estimate of 4.5 percent growth. I don't know if that 
will happen, but the consensus estimate from economists is that in the 
second quarter of this year, we are likely to see growth at over 4 
percent. We will hear the final number from the Congressional Budget 
Office at the end of July, but, again, we are seeing more jobs, higher 
wages, better economic growth, and therefore more opportunity for all 
Americans. That is a good thing.
  Why is tax reform helping to create this new opportunity for higher 

[[Page S4490]]

and more growth? I am going to discuss three reasons why I believe this 
tax reform proposal has been helping to get the economy moving and why 
it is so important to keep these policies in place and to not risk 
higher taxes on individuals or lower economic growth if we were to move 
away from this legislation and not make it permanent.
  No. 1, updating our international tax code has definitely encouraged 
companies to invest in America. We had a totally outdated international 
tax code. We had the highest tax rates among all the industrialized 
countries at the business level for international companies. We had a 
system that actually encouraged companies to keep their money overseas 
and therefore spend it overseas. So a company facing our old Tax Code 
would have had their board and stakeholders saying: Don't bring that 
money back because it is going to be taxed too high. Keep it overseas. 
That was crazy. It made no sense whatsoever.
  Frankly, it took us too long to address that issue, but we finally 
did. Let me give an example. I am told that in the first quarter of 
this year, more than $300 billion was brought into this country, 
repatriated back to America from overseas. This is the profit U.S. 
companies made overseas, and $300 billion was brought back. Compare 
that to the first quarter of last year, when $38 billion was brought 
back. This is because of tax reform. This is good. This money is being 
brought back to invest in America, and it is the most money on record, 
by the way. So something is changing, and it is positive. The change to 
the international system is helping in a number of ways, including 
companies bringing the money back and investing it here.
  Second, lowering the tax rate for small and large businesses has 
resulted in new investments in people, plant equipment, and technology. 
We have seen it in terms of higher bonuses, higher wages, and increased 
retirement contributions.
  There are a lot of examples. We have seen it in terms of investing in 
new technology and new equipment, which, in the end, is probably as 
important as anything because--think about it--one thing the economists 
have said about our economy over the last decade is that we are not 
improving our productivity as we should. What they mean by that is that 
the productivity of each worker has been disappointing, and that leads 
to lower wages and not having higher economic performance. If you make 
a worker more productive by investing in the latest technology and new 
equipment, that helps everybody. It helps that worker have a higher 
salary, and it helps the economy.
  That is actually happening out there. I have seen the results of it 
all over Ohio. I represent the State of Ohio, which has a lot of 
manufacturing and a lot of small businesses. I have gone around and 
talked with them. I visited 21 individual businesses and held about a 
dozen roundtable discussions with small and midsized businesses and one 
large business. We talked about this, and of the 21 businesses I 
visited, every single one of them is taking the tax savings and 
investing it in their people, their plant, and their equipment. Some 
are raising wages. Some are giving bonuses to their employees. Some are 
buying new equipment. Some are expanding their operations. Some of them 
are improving employee benefits.
  There is a company that has three branches of an auto parts store 
that stopped offering healthcare about 5 years ago because of the cost 
of the Affordable Care Act. They couldn't afford healthcare. Their 
people had to go out on the individual market and get it through the 
Affordable Care Act. They are now offering healthcare again, and the 
employees are extremely happy. Their costs are down, and their 
deductibles are down. They did that all with tax savings.
  Many companies have done a combination of these things. They are 
investing in their people. There is a small manufacturing company in 
Cincinnati, and shortly after the tax bill was signed into law, they 
said: We are going to give $1,000 bonuses to our people. And they did. 
They also invested in equipment.
  A company I visited in Columbus, OH, invested in equipment. It is a 
steel processer. The equipment they used was from 1986. The equipment 
itself was 31 years old, which is exactly the age of our old Tax Code. 
Nineteen eighty six was when we last reformed the Tax Code. After we 
modernized the Tax Code--finally modernized an antiquated tax code that 
was 31 years old--they got rid of a 31-year-old piece of equipment and 
replaced it with a brandnew piece of equipment. I thought that was 
  That is how these tax savings are being used. There are some groups 
in town that put up a website saying: These businesses have benefited 
from this and these employees. I can tell you that it is way 
understated. I can't find a business in Ohio that hasn't benefited from 
  Some are doing more than others, no question about it. Some of the 
big financial service companies are giving big wage increases. Other 
small businesses might be investing in a new piece of equipment, but 
there are so many businesses out there. They are not all putting out 
press releases or talking about it, but they are doing something. This 
is good.
  This is why you see this economic growth coming up, finally, after so 
many years of flat wages and high expenses. You are seeing people begin 
to see a little improvement in their wages. That is really important.
  First are the international parts. Second is what this is doing in 
terms of the business side and how that affects people. The third one 
is direct tax relief to individuals because that is part of this bill 
too. If you hear people talk about this bill--sometimes on the other 
side of the aisle--you would think that is not in there. It is very 
much in there.
  People are able to keep more of their hard-earned money, and it goes 
directly to the middle-class constituents whom I represent. They are 
the ones who get the biggest bang for their buck because we doubled the 
standard deduction, taking it from $12,000 to $24,000 for a family 
because we doubled the child tax credit, including increasing the part 
that is refundable. Even if you don't have an income tax liability, you 
get it.
  We also lowered tax rates for people. That combination means that 
people have seen their paychecks go up. About 90 percent of workers in 
America got a paycheck that had more money going into their bank 
account rather than to Uncle Sam because their withholding changed. You 
know this if you are listening today because you probably had this 
happen to you if you are one of the 90 percent, which you probably are. 
Uncle Sam is taking a little less withholding, and you are able to keep 
a little more.
  As I said consistently during the debate on tax reform, and we went 
back and forth on this, I just said: Look, the proof is in the 
paycheck. We can argue this all day long. When people get their 
paycheck, it is either going to be better or not. For 90 percent of the 
people I represent, it is better. Of course, they are happy about that.
  In addition to that, we also made the Tax Code more progressive. What 
does that mean? That means those at the top of the income ladder are 
actually paying a larger portion of the overall tax burden, not a 
smaller portion. Let me say that again. The Tax Code is more 
progressive. If you are at the top of the income ladder, you are now 
paying a larger portion of the overall tax burden. At the lower end, 
you are paying less in terms of the overall tax burden. The biggest 
percentage tax increase is for those making over $1 million a year, and 
the biggest tax decrease is for those making $30,000 a year or less. 
This is why the Joint Committee on Taxation, in response to questions I 
asked them directly, said that over 3 million Americans now have no tax 
liability at all in terms of income tax liability thanks to this tax 
reform effort because they are at the lower end of the economic scale. 
Before, they had a tax liability, but now they don't because of a lower 
rate doubling the standard deduction--doubling the tax credit.
  Three million Americans don't have to worry about Uncle Sam because 
they don't have tax liability anymore under this bill. This has changed 
the way our tax bill works. The Joint Committee on Taxation can show 
you those numbers. All of this resulted in higher wages for the first 
time in about a decade. This was the strongest wage growth for 
nonsupervisory employees in 9 years. That is the latest data. You

[[Page S4491]]

can check it out at the Department of Labor.
  It also resulted in a lot more optimism out there. If you look at the 
surveys on optimism--I saw there was one done by an NBC station 
recently saying this is the highest level of optimism they have seen.
  There is optimism also in small businesses. The National Federation 
of Independent Business does surveys regularly. Their surveys are 
unprecedented because they are coming back saying that small businesses 
are ready to invest now and planning to invest.
  In my home State of Ohio, we had the Ohio Chamber of Commerce do a 
survey recently. They found that 70 percent of the businesses already 
added new employees. We are now in the second quarter, and 75 percent 
are planning to add new employees. It is amazing. This is actually 
happening as we talk because we changed a tax system that was 
discouraging growth, discouraging investment, and making it harder for 
people to get ahead, harder to see wages go up to meet expenses.
  There are good things going on. Since December, the number of long-
term unemployed people has decreased by about 400,000 people. The 
unemployment rate has fallen from 4.9 percent to 4.3 percent in my home 
State of Ohio. Nationally, unemployment is now down to 3.8 percent, the 
lowest since 2000.
  That is all good news. What do you hear now? I hear from businesses, 
not so much about the tax burden--and, frankly, not so much about the 
regulatory burden because Congress has also done some things to relieve 
the regulatory burden, particularly for small businesses--but I hear 
that finding qualified workers is their biggest challenge. I heard it 
last weekend, and I will hear it this coming weekend.
  As a small business person myself, I sense it. It is a major hurdle 
right now. There is a shortage of workers. A big reason is what 
economists call the labor force participation rate. What does that 
mean? It just means the number of Americans who are unemployed and not 
looking for work at all is higher than it has been in the past. These 
are folks who are on the sidelines. They are not even reported in the 
unemployment numbers. It is so bad, our labor force participation rate 
was at its prerecession level of 66 percent of people working rather 
than the current 62.7 percent. If we just had a level of 66 percent 
working 10 years ago, our unemployment rate today would not be 3.8 
percent. If you take into account those people, our unemployment rate 
would be about 8.6 percent. It is pretty disappointing.
  That is one challenge we still have with this incredible tax relief 
and tax cut legislation, and increasing economic opportunities, growing 
jobs, and raising wages. We still have a lot of people who are on the 
sidelines and not in the workforce.
  Among able-bodied men, by the way, between 25 and 55, 8.5 million of 
them are in this category. They are not even showing up in the 
unemployment numbers. That is wrong. You want them to have the dignity 
and self-respect that comes from work, and our economy needs these 
people to be able to work.
  According to the Congressional Budget Office's 30-year projection 
they gave us yesterday, they think the labor force participation rate 
will get even worse. That is what they told us yesterday. It will be 
declining over the next 30 years to even below what it is now--below 60 
percent. That can't happen. That is unacceptable.
  The low labor force participation rate cannot be the new normal, and 
it can't get worse. We want people to get that dignity and self-respect 
that comes from work. We want them to enter into our economy.
  As the economy is growing and businesses are expanding, there is no 
better time to reverse this trend, to bring people into the economy and 
bring them back to work.
  I have dug into this issue, trying to figure out why this is. There 
are a number of reasons: dependency on government programs and being 
sure we don't have people go to work who then lose all their benefits 
right away--trying to deal with that cliff. Then there is the tax 
issue. When you go to work, you have higher taxes. We should do more to 
get people into work making more pay. We should have work requirements 
in some of these programs. That has been talked about a lot on the 
floor. We should deal with other issues, including the skills gap. We 
are doing it with career technical schools and other things.

                            Opioid Epidemic

  Mr. President, I want to mention the single most important problem we 
face, and that is the opioid crisis. I say this because the opioid 
epidemic has hit our country and is, by the way, the No. 1 killer in my 
State of Ohio right now and in many States around the country. It is 
already having a devastating impact on everything--on crime, families, 
the ability for jails to work, our healthcare system to work--but it is 
also affecting employment in huge ways.
  A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland found that 
counties with higher levels of opioid prescriptions have lower 
workforce participation rates. It is no wonder. They surveyed the 
business community, and about half the organizations they contacted 
said the opioid epidemic has negatively impacted their businesses. 
People can't get through the drug tests. Also, people aren't applying 
for work.
  Why do I say that? Well, the Department of Labor did a study earlier 
this year that showed 44 percent of these people outside the workforce 
altogether, who are off in the shadows or on the sidelines--44 percent 
of them had taken a drug, a pain medication the previous day. The 
Brookings Institute says the number is 47 percent. When further pushed, 
two-thirds said they were taking prescription pain medication. That is 
amazing. That 44 percent is likely underreported. There is a stigma 
attached to the opioid crisis. Second, there is a legal issue for a lot 
of people.
  It is not like this is an overreported number. That is an amazing 
number that nearly half of the people who are outside the workforce are 
saying they are taking pain medication on a daily basis. The sad 
reality is, again, it is likely to be much higher than that.
  We know what we have to do. We need to get people into treatment, 
support them, help them overcome their addiction, and get them back to 
work and leading productive lives. There are things Congress can and 
should do to take care of that.
  I ask unanimous consent to continue to discuss solutions to the 
opioid epidemic after the majority leader has a chance to make his 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lee). Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The majority leader.

                             Cloture Motion

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I send a cloture motion to the desk for 
Senate amendment No. 3224.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on Senate amendment 
     No. 3224 to Calendar No. 483, H.R. 2, an act to provide for 
     the reform and continuation of agricultural and other 
     programs of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 
     2023, and for other purposes.
         Mitch McConnell, Shelley Moore Capito, Pat Roberts, John 
           Barrasso, John Cornyn, Susan M. Collins, Lamar 
           Alexander, John Hoeven, Orrin G. Hatch, Richard Burr, 
           Roy Blunt, Steve Daines, Mike Crapo, Mike Rounds, John 
           Boozman, Joni Ernst, Deb Fischer.

                             Cloture Motion

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I send a cloture motion to the desk for 
H.R. 2.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on Calendar No. 
     483, H.R. 2, an act to provide for the reform and 
     continuation of agricultural and other programs of the 
     Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2023, and for 
     other purposes.
         Mitch McConnell, Shelley Moore Capito, Pat Roberts, John 
           Barrasso, John Cornyn, Susan M. Collins, Lamar 
           Alexander, John Hoeven, Orrin G. Hatch,

[[Page S4492]]

           Richard Burr, Roy Blunt, Steve Daines, Mike Crapo, Mike 
           Rounds, John Boozman, Joni Ernst, Deb Fischer.

  Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum 
calls for the cloture motions be waived.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.