EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 117
(Senate - July 12, 2018)

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[Pages S4924-S4933]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the Ney 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Paul C. 
Ney, Jr., of Tennessee, to be General Counsel of the Department of 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.

                        Annapolis Mass Shooting

  Mr. CARDIN. Madam President, I rise today to discuss a topic far too 
many of my colleagues have also had to face--yet another fatal mass 
shooting in their State. This time it was in Annapolis, MD, in our 
State capital.
  Exactly 2 weeks ago, on June 28, at about 2:30 p.m., a 38-year-old 
man who had a longstanding spurious grudge against the Capital Gazette 
newspaper made good on his sworn threats. He entered the newspaper 
offices, headed to the newsroom, and by the time he was done, he had 
shot and killed five employees of this community newspaper.
  The Capital Gazette is the local paper of record in Annapolis. It is 
one of the oldest, continuously published newspapers in the United 
States. It traces its roots back to the Maryland Gazette, which began 
publishing in 1727, and to the Capital, which was founded in 1884.
  This loss of life is personal to so many in Annapolis and around our 
State. You need to understand that the Capital Gazette is as much a 
part of the fabric of Annapolis as the State government it covers. It 
is perhaps embodied in Thomas Jefferson's famous quote: ``Were it left 
to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers 
or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to 
prefer the latter.''
  Just 2 weeks ago, a man with a shotgun--a man who had made known his 
threats against this paper--purposefully entered the building which 
houses the Capital Gazette and killed people.
  Let me take a moment to mourn those lost and to thank the first 
responders who first appeared on the scene literally 60 seconds after 
the first 911 call. Location means everything in

[[Page S4925]]

so many areas. On this day, 2 weeks ago, the fact that there were Anne 
Arundel County police officers down the street from the Capital Gazette 
offices at the time the shooting started most definitely saved lives. 
According to the Annapolis police chief, Timothy Altomare, within 2 
minutes, the Anne Arundel County Police Department, the Annapolis 
Police Department, and the Anne Arundel County Sheriff's Office had 
rushed into the offices and into the newsroom to apprehend the gunman.
  State and Federal law enforcement--including the FBI, the ATF, and 
many others--arrived soon thereafter to support local officials in 
their efforts to clear the building and meticulously investigate the 
scene. I want to thank each and every one of those law enforcement 
officers, from the individuals who rushed into the newsroom not knowing 
what danger they might encounter to those helping get others to safety, 
to those gathering the evidence to ensure nothing was lost in the 
bustle and chaos of the moment, and to those diverting traffic so that 
people could be safely evacuated and the investigators could do their 
jobs safely. I thank each and every professional who did their job and 
contributed to this emergency response.
  We often say about our first responders that when we run from 
trouble, they run to it in order to save our lives. We owe our first 
responders our thanks and our admiration for the manner in which they 
handled this assignment under extreme circumstances.
  Unfortunately, when faced with an individual intent on killing, lives 
were lost despite the swift response by law enforcement. Among them was 
Gerald Fischman, 61, who was an editor with more than 25 years of 
service with the Capital Gazette and was known at the newspaper and 
throughout the community for his brilliant mind and writing. Most 
often, it was his voice and his insightfulness that came through on the 
editorial pages of the Capital Gazette.
  Fischman was described by Rick Hutzell, the Capital Gazette's editor, 
as ``someone whose life was committed to protecting our community by 
telling hard truths.''
  Rob Hiaasen, 59, was a columnist, editor, teacher, and storyteller 
who brought compassion and humor to his community-focused reporting. 
Rob was described as a coach and mentor to many. According to former 
Baltimore Sun columnist Susan Reimer, he was ``so happy working with 
young journalists. . . . He wanted to create a newsroom where everyone 
was growing.''
  John McNamara, 56, was a skilled writer and avid sports fan, who 
combined these passions in his 24-year career as a sports reporter at 
the Capital Gazette.
  Former Capital Gazette sports editor Gerry Jackson said of McNamara--
or ``Mac,'' as he went by:

       He could write. He could edit. He could design pages. He 
     was just a jack of all trades and a fantastic person.

  Rebecca Smith, 34, was a newly hired sales assistant known for her 
kindness, compassion, and love for her family. ``Becca,'' as she was 
known, was described by a friend of her fiance as ``the absolute most 
beautiful person'' with ``the biggest heart'' and called her death ``a 
great loss to this world.''
  Wendi Winters, 65, was a talented writer. She built her career as a 
public relations professional and journalist. She was well-known for 
her profound reporting on the lives and achievements of people within 
the community. She was a ``proud Navy Mom'' and Navy daughter.
  As we learn more about the details of the shooting from the 
survivors, it is clear that Wendi herself saved lives during the 
attack. According to the Capital Gazette editorial that ran this past 
Tuesday, Wendi confronted and distracted the gunman with whatever she 
could find around her. The paper noted:

       Wendi died protecting her friends, but also in defense of 
     her newsroom from a murderous assault. Wendi died protecting 
     freedom of the press.

  My heartfelt condolences and prayers continue to go out to the 
families of those who were killed in this attack. They did not send 
their loved ones off to work that day knowing it would be the last day 
they would see them alive. It isn't right, and it never should have 
  The surviving staff members also deserve our praise for their 
resilience and dedication to their mission as journalists and their 
respect for their fallen colleagues. During and after the attack, staff 
continued to report by tweets, sharing information to those outside, 
taking photos and documenting information as they would at other crime 
scenes. Despite their grief, shock, anger, and mourning, surviving 
staff--with the help from their sister publication, the Baltimore Sun, 
Capital Gazette alumni, and other reporters who wanted to lend a hand 
to fellow journalists--put out a paper the following day, Friday, and 
they have done so every day since. This is known as grace under 

  Fittingly, the editorial page the day after the shooting was 
purposely left blank with just a few words. The few words were:

       Today, we are speechless. This page is intentionally left 
     blank to commemorate victims of Thursday's shootings at our 

  The staff promised that on Saturday the page would ``return to its 
steady purpose of offering our readers informed opinion about the world 
around them, that they might be better citizens.''
  It has been incredible to witness the unity, compassion, and 
resilience of the Capital Gazette staff, the city of Annapolis, and 
Anne Arundel County.
  I want to repeat one quote from the Capital Gazette editorial page 
that bears repeating:

       Wendi Winters died protecting her friends, but also in 
     defense of her newsroom from a murderous assault. Wendi died 
     protecting freedom of the press.

  Wendi Winters and her colleagues died protecting freedom of the 
  As Americans, we have certain rights and responsibilities granted to 
us through the Constitution, which establishes the rule of law in this 
country. Freedom of the press is central to the very first amendment of 
the Constitution, and it has often been under attack, figuratively 
speaking, since our Nation's founding.
  Today, those attacks have become more frequent and more literal, 
spurred on by dangerous rhetoric that has nearly created an ``open 
season'' on denigrating the media and harassing reporters and editors 
from doing their job: answering questions that need to be asked, 
investigating the stories that need to be uncovered, and bringing 
needed transparency to the halls of power, whether they are in 
Annapolis, Washington, DC, or elsewhere around the world. This rhetoric 
has gone beyond the pale and it must stop.
  Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of 
being violently attacked while doing their job.
  On this day, 2 weeks ago, just as the public was learning about the 
shooting at the Capital Gazette, I stopped in for a meeting one of my 
staffers was having with a group of students to talk about gun violence 
and school safety. Since what happened in Parkland--and we recently had 
an episode in our own State--I have been meeting with students on a 
frequent basis just to hear their concerns. In all circumstances, the 
students have expressed to me their fear and frustration with regard to 
how safe they feel in their schools. Some are angry, and all of them 
want to know when the adults will finally start acting like adults and 
do something to keep them and their country safe. Without fail, 
students have told me that ``thoughts and prayers'' simply are not 
enough. Thoughts and prayers will not protect them from bullets, and 
they want Congress to act.
  Some of my colleagues have bought into the false rhetoric that there 
is nothing we can do about these acts of violence. But students in 
Maryland and around the country know that is not true, and so do the 
American people. A recent CNN poll found that 70 percent of Americans 
now back tougher gun safety laws. These responses get higher with each 
deadly incident.
  Congress must act now to address the epidemic of gun violence in this 
country. Let's reinstate the assault weapon ban now. We can ban bump 
stocks now. Let us assure that all gun purchases have completed 
background checks.
  I understand that the weapon used in the Annapolis shootings was a 
shotgun. It would not have been covered under these new laws. But the 
fact remains that if we pass sensible gun safety laws, we will save 

[[Page S4926]]

  I do want to say clearly that ``doing something'' does not mean 
arming educators or bringing more guns into our schools. Teachers are 
hired to teach, not to be security guards. Instead of putting guns in 
the hands of educators, we need to get them out of the hands of 
attackers in the first place.
  Let me conclude with these words of one of the survivors of the 
Capital Gazette shooting. Reporter Selene San Felice shared her 
thoughts in a July 1 opinion piece for the paper. She recounted the 
moments of the shooting and shared pretty succinctly what she thinks 
needs to happen next in this country. Selene wrote:

       I watched John McNamara die. I had to step over Wendi 
     Winters to escape . . .
       If your help ends at thoughts and prayers, I don't want 
     them. What I want is action.
       I'm not just talking to the president, or our governor, or 
     our elected officials. I'm talking to every single person in 
     this nation.
       We must do better. We must vote better. We must push for 
     legislation so that this doesn't feel normal.
       Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, John McNamara, 
     Rebecca Smith and thousands of people are dead because of 
     shootings like the one I lived through.
       The man who killed the people I love bought this gun 
     legally. His record of stalking and harassment had been 
     expunged. But even if it hadn't been, he still could have 
     bought the gun he used to shoot Rebecca, Wendi, Rob, Gerald 
     and John.
       This is not political. I'm not asking for change as a 
     liberal media puppet. I'm asking for something to be done for 
     the sake of our humanity.

  I think, quite frankly, Selene is speaking for many, many people in 
our community. We need to act. Now. For Rebecca, Wendi, Rob, Gerald, 
John, and the thousands of other innocent people who have been lost to 
needless gun violence, Congress must act. We must show that we can 
protect the American people, which is perhaps the most important task 
we have as lawmakers.
  We cannot stand by and pretend we are helpless and powerless to 
prevent another tragedy. We can do something powerful today.
  With that, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. 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. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. President, I rise to honor the victims and the 
survivors of the terrible shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper 
which occurred on June 28. I thank my friend and colleague Senator 
Cardin for his remarks earlier today on this floor and thank the Senate 
for taking up a resolution in memory of the victims.
  Our State of Maryland and the country were horrified by the tragic 
attacks on one of our great Maryland institutions--the Capital Gazette 
newspaper, the local newspaper of our State capital in Annapolis, which 
has been operating since 1727. It was, and is, your quintessential 
smalltown newspaper, which serves Annapolis and Anne Arundel County but 
is also a newspaper read throughout the State of Maryland.
  In that awful shooting, we lost five members of the Capital Gazette: 
Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi 
  Gerald Fischman was an editorial page editor whose thoughtful columns 
and sly wit shed light on critical community issues. He was well known 
for his insatiable curiosity and his love of family, and his talent for 
writing extended to poems he composed for his wife Erica.
  Rob Hiaasen was a big man with a big presence who applied his 
considerable skills as a journalist to mentor others, both fellow 
reporters and students at the University of Maryland College of 
Journalism. He gave of his time, and he gave of his talent.
  John McNamara was a sports writer and sports fan--a big fan of the 
University of Maryland Terps. He covered everything from the Orioles to 
the local Little League. He was always generous with his time and known 
to many who follow sports around the country.
  Sales Assistant Rebecca Smith was strong and smart and a fixture at 
her fiance Dewayne's softball tournaments. She was also known to be 
unfailingly kind and always took the time to make people feel at home 
at the Gazette.
  Wendi Winters had a great sense of humor and an incredible ability to 
pull stories out of just about anyone. Her colleagues say she charged 
at the shooter, displaying the bravery and determination she had so 
many times before in her life and saving the lives of others at the 
newspaper in the process.
  Community newspapers like the Capital Gazette are more than just 
sources of news; they represent the lifeblood of our communities around 
the country and our Nation. They report on everything, big issues and 
small issues, because no issue is too small if it affects people in a 
particular community. I think all of us know these are the reporters 
who stay out late at local council meetings, they are the folks at the 
PTA meetings, they are the folks busy collecting news important to 
people in a local community. This newspaper has been at this for 
hundreds of years.
  Even after that awful shooting, the next day the Capital Gazette put 
out a newspaper, as they have every day since then, with the help of 
fellow journalists at the Baltimore Sun and elsewhere. They put out a 
newspaper that talked about the terrible shooting they experienced at 
the Capital Gazette and remembered the victims and thanked the first 
  I also salute the first responders, an incredible and brave response 
from local, State, and Federal agencies. At the local level, they were 
on the scene within 60 to 90 seconds. Had that not happened, we would 
have had even more than the terrible loss we saw that awful day.
  It also should cause all of us to think again about measures we can 
take in our communities, in our States, and at the Federal level to 
stop the violence. One of the victims, Gerald Fischman, who had been an 
editorial writer there, had written earlier in the aftermath of the 
terrible shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and here is what 
Gerald Fischman wrote at that time:

       Of all the words this week, hopelessness may be the most 
     dangerous. We must believe there is a solution, a way to 
     prevent another mass shooting. We must believe that we can 
     find it if only we try a little harder.

  I ask every Member of the Senate, every Member of this Congress, 
every elected official, and every citizen, let's work harder to find a 
way to end the violence. There are things we can do to reduce the 
chances and the awful losses we are seeing around our country, both in 
mass shootings and daily violence.
  As we remember these victims, I ask that we dedicate ourselves to the 
mission of ending the violence.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                     Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, yesterday, I had the chance to meet with 
the President's nominee to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of 
Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, and I am pleased with the 
nominee the President has chosen. After talking to him yesterday 
morning, I look forward to supporting his nomination and doing whatever 
I can to ensure his bipartisan confirmation.
  My conversation with Judge Kavanaugh refreshed my memory that we 
actually had met back in 2000 when I was attorney general of Texas and 
I was preparing to deliver an oral argument before the U.S. Supreme 
Court--something I had never done before. Thanks to Judge Kavanaugh, 
who wasn't a judge at the time, Paul Clement and Ted Olson--both of 
whom had been Solicitor General of the United States--helped me get 
prepared and do the best job I was capable of doing before the Court, 
providing me a moot court opportunity. So it was good to catch up with 
Judge Kavanaugh.
  I have followed Judge Kavanaugh's career closely. In the interim, 
obviously he has served as a circuit court judge on the DC Circuit 
Court. Some might call it the second most important court in the 
Nation, and that is primarily because it is located here in the 
District of Columbia, and most of the major cases involving 
administrative authority, Federal power, end up finding their way one 
way or the other

[[Page S4927]]

through the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. So he has had a great judicial 
career over the last 12 years and has written on a variety of topics. I 
would say he is a pretty well-known quantity.
  While you are going to hear a lot of demands for additional 
information--and I am all for as much transparency as can be provided, 
and Senators certainly have a right to get their hands on as much 
information as possible about the nominee and his qualifications, his 
background, and how he might perform as a Supreme Court Justice--I hope 
this doesn't turn into a delay-of-game tactic.
  He has had a long career in the government. He worked at the White 
House as Staff Secretary, which, for those who aren't familiar with 
that, means he was the last person who saw a piece of paper before it 
was presented to the President for signature. That doesn't mean he was 
the publisher or the author of that paper, and many times it was really 
to make sure that it was correct, that it was accurate, that it had 
been verified and authenticated, but he was the one who decided to turn 
it over to the President for the President to sign, and it could have 
been major matters or minor matters. But I hope we don't get to a point 
where people say that every document or email that he happens to have 
been copied on or have seen somehow becomes essential for a Senator 
before they can decide whether to support his confirmation.
  I would add that some Senators have come out and announced their 
opposition to the nominee before he was even announced. I think our 
friend from Pennsylvania did that--in other words, announced his 
opposition to anybody this President might nominate to fill the vacancy 
left by Anthony Kennedy. So I hope we don't hear from people like that, 
that now they need more information so they can make a decision. They 
have already made their decision, and it really is just a waste of 
everybody's time and really an insult to the rest of the Senators who 
are doing their due diligence and trying to perform their 
constitutional responsibilities when it comes to providing advice and 
consent on a nominee to the highest Court in the country.
  Many people are familiar with the arc of Judge Kavanaugh's career, 
but let me mention a few things, lest they be lost in all of the noise 
here in Washington.
  Of course, he graduated with honors from Yale College and attended 
Yale Law School--two of the elite universities and law schools in the 
country. He clerked for two Federal appellate judges before Justice 
Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. As the Presiding Officer knows, 
those are the types of jobs that are highly competitive, and only the 
best of the best get asked to serve as law clerks to Federal appellate 
judges and certainly to the Supreme Court. Then he went on to work in 
private practice, in the White House Counsel's office thereafter, and 
finally as Staff Secretary, which I mentioned a few minutes ago, before 
being confirmed to the Federal bench in Washington.
  I want to step back for a moment because in the weeks ahead, we are 
going to have plenty of time to talk about his credentials, his 
experience, and his decisions, and we will have plenty of time to parse 
all of the dissents, the concurrences, the majority opinions he has 
written on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, but I think it is also 
important to know the man, to know the person, because unfortunately, 
Washington, DC, has a way of chewing up people, and their personality 
and their humanity become separated from the political basis or 
ideological basis upon which people may oppose them. So I think it is 
important to know the qualities of this man because it informs us about 
his character, which I hope we would all agree is an important element 
in the qualifications of a Federal judge.
  Judge Kavanaugh is one who is active in his community, as we heard on 
the night the announcement his nomination was made. He is known as 
Coach K on his daughter's basketball team and acts as a lector at his 
church. He serves meals to needy families on a regular basis and tutors 
children at local elementary schools. Frankly, I don't know where he 
finds the time to do all those things while serving as a member of the 
DC Circuit Court of Appeals. One friend called him a regular old 
``carpool dad.'' I think we all know what that is; it is a dad who 
drives the kids to school. That comment was reported in the Washington 
Post. This friend wrote that those who know Judge Kavanaugh' character 
would render a ``unanimous verdict in his favor.''

  Judge Kavanaugh is the former captain of his high school basketball 
team. He has run the Boston Marathon--something I aspire to do. I just 
made it through a half-marathon years ago but never a full marathon, 
much less the Boston Marathon. He has won his court's annual 5K race 
five times. As a matter of fact, I have seen him year after year over 
in Anacostia when we have a race for charity that many of our Senate 
offices participate in, along with the press and the Federal agencies, 
including the courts. I believe I have seen him run in those 5K races 
with his team.
  Professionally, Judge Kavanaugh is known as a distinguished legal 
professional, but it is important to know that even amidst the hustle 
and bustle of a high-powered legal career, he found time to do a lot of 
very important things. While in private practice, for example, he was 
head of a practice group devoted to protecting religious liberties. You 
don't earn a big fee as a lawyer by advocating in cases involving 
religious liberties. Typically, these are cases where you volunteer 
your time because you believe in the right of the citizen to have their 
case heard by the courts. Particularly when it comes to religious 
liberties, Judge Kavanaugh's record is crystal clear. He has advocated 
on behalf of those--regardless of their ability to pay--whose religious 
liberties were at risk. He also wrote two briefs for the Supreme Court 
of the United States supporting the cause of religious liberty, 
including the case I mentioned earlier that I argued in the Supreme 
Court involving the Santa Fe Independent School District, which was 
sued by the American Civil Liberties Union to prevent them from 
allowing a student to volunteer their time to offer an inspirational 
saying or a prayer before a football game in Texas. He authored an 
amicus brief in support of that case.
  When he is not volunteering for causes he believes in, he is the 
father of two daughters--something near to my heart, and I know the 
Presiding Officer has two daughters as well. He has been a mentor to 
many law students whom he has taught over the years.
  His colleague, Jack Goldsmith, a distinguished lawyer in his own 
right at Harvard, described him as having ``many, many considerable 
strengths as a judge and potential Justice, and [also] as a person.''
  His former professor, Akhil Amar, who supported Hillary Clinton in 
the last election, wrote in the New York Times a couple of days ago 
that Judge Kavanaugh is a ``superb nominee'' who has ``already shown 
flashes of greatness.'' I believe the headline of that op-ed piece by 
Professor Amar talked about the liberal case for Brett Kavanaugh, and I 
appreciate his willingness to talk about the man and his professional 
credentials and not get bogged down in the polarized politics of 
judicial confirmations here in Washington. He called the nomination of 
Judge Kavanaugh President Trump's ``finest hour, his classiest move.'' 
That is pretty impressive.
  These are just a few of the reasons why here in the Senate we need to 
now move forward confidently and deliberately with the confirmation 
process. We will proceed thoroughly but with expedition. It is, after 
all, our constitutional role--now the President has discharged his 
constitutional role--to offer advice and consent on the President's 
nominee. I believe the President has chosen wisely, just as he did when 
he chose Neil Gorsuch for the vacancy created by the unfortunate death 
of Justice Scalia. The President has chosen well again, and I believe 
this nominee is deserving of this high honor to serve on our Nation's 
highest Court.
  There are some who said that we need to wait or that there is not 
enough time before the midterm election to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. 
Well, that is a pretty transparent stalling tactic. Justice Kennedy 
said he is vacating the Bench at the end of this month, so when the 
Supreme Court reconvenes on October 1--I believe it is the first Monday 
in October--it would

[[Page S4928]]

be good to have that vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Kennedy 
filled with this nominee. So the idea that we can somehow put this off 
until after the midterm elections I think makes no sense, or if it 
makes sense, it makes sense only from the standpoint of stalling the 
confirmation process.
  I agree with the senior Senator from Connecticut, who said recently 
that the Senate should do nothing to artificially delay consideration 
of the next Justice. I agree with him. Since Justice Gorsuch and 
Justice Sotomayor were confirmed just 66 days from the time they were 
nominated, a similar amount of time should not be unreasonable for 
Judge Kavanaugh. I am not suggesting it be exactly 66 days; it might be 
a few days earlier or a few days later. But just to sort of orient 
everybody as to the timeframe we are talking about, if it were 66 days, 
like Justice Gorsuch and Justice Sotomayor, that would mean we would 
vote to confirm Justice Kavanaugh on September 13, if my math is 
  Well, we know that these judicial nominations--particularly for the 
Supreme Court of the United States--are hotly contested, and that is 
because on the left, they see the Court as an end run around the 
democratic process. In other words, what you can't win in an election 
and what you can't win in a debate and vote of Congress, well, if you 
can get the Court to do it--unelected, lifetime-appointed judges--then 
you have basically won in advancing your policy position at the Federal 
level. I would say that the opposite philosophy is one that was 
embraced by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, who viewed the courts 
as what they called the least dangerous branch because they viewed the 
courts as not being political and judges as being impartial arbiters of 
the law and letting the chips fall where they may. But on the left, if 
they can't achieve their desired policy outcomes through the normal 
legislative process, well, doing it by lawsuit and by court decision 
becomes the means to their end. That is why they are so upset, I think, 
about this President's nominee. He is what I would call a traditional 
judge in the James Madison, Alexander Hamilton mold--someone who 
believes that judges have a very important job in our government, but 
it is a limited job and role.

  In other words, the main responsibility for making public policy 
should fall on the shoulders of Members of Congress and the President 
because we stand for election. If people don't like what we are doing, 
they can knock on our door and say: Senator, we don't like what you are 
doing. We want you to change your vote or your point of view.
  That is entirely appropriate. If we don't, they reserve the time-
honored right to throw the rascals out. You can't do that for a Federal 
judge. That is why their role under the Constitution is circumscribed 
as interpreting the law and applying the facts to settled law.
  I understand why our friends across the aisle are disappointed. They 
were hoping that President Hillary Clinton would be filling this 
vacancy, and they were hoping that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would 
be the one guiding that nomination through the Senate. Instead, they 
were disappointed--I understand it; it is a normal human reaction--that 
President Trump won, so he is the one making the nomination, and a 
Republican Senate, led by Majority Leader McConnell, is the one guiding 
this nomination through.
  I can understand their disappointment. It is no reason to drag your 
feet or obstruct an orderly and thoughtful deliberative process when it 
comes to filling this vacancy. We are going to have a chance to talk 
about this topic a lot in the coming weeks.

             Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act

  Mr. President, on a separate note, I want to address the situation 
unfolding on the U.S.-Mexico border. As of 7 o'clock this morning, we 
heard that the Trump administration has now complied with a court order 
and completed the reunification of those children under the age of 5 
who immigrated here with their parents unlawfully. Those children have 
been reunited with their parents, which I think we all should be 
grateful for.
  Secretary Azar of Health and Human Services; Kirstjen Nielsen, 
Secretary of Homeland Security; Attorney General Sessions; and all 
those officials at the Departments of Health and Human Services, 
Homeland Security, and Justice have been working tirelessly to complete 
these initial reunifications. Their goal has always been the well-being 
of these children and returning them to a safe environment.
  As we can see from this morning's report, the administration clearly 
needs time to vet all the people. In fact, in some instances, they 
actually have to take DNA tests to confirm the claim that the adult who 
brought the child across is, in fact, their biological parent. We know 
that the cartels, the human traffickers, are very sophisticated, and if 
they can simply pair up an unaccompanied child with an adult and send 
them across the border while claiming to be a family unit, they can 
basically navigate the gaps in our legal enforcement system against 
illegal immigration.
  Over the next few weeks, we know Federal officials will be working to 
reunite all other separated families, as they should. This is one thing 
we all--Republicans and Democrats alike--agree on; these families 
should be kept together. This is consistent with President Trump's 
Executive order, as well as a bill that I have introduced, along with 
other colleagues, called the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law 
  As that bill suggests, there are two parts to it. One is treating 
families with compassion by allowing them to remain together and, also, 
enforcing the immigration laws on our books. They don't have to be 
mutually exclusive, and our bill will ensure that they aren't. It will 
allow parents to stay with their children in a safe facility while 
awaiting their court proceedings.
  In other words, a number of these children and these adults are 
claiming asylum in the United States. That can be finally decided only 
by an immigration judge. What we would like to do is move them to the 
head of the line and get them a hearing in front of an immigration 
judge on a timely basis. Our bill would also set mandatory standards of 
care for family residential centers and keep children safe by requiring 
that they be removed from the care of an individual who endangers their 
  In conclusion, I will say that this is not a new problem. We know 
that several of the countries in Central America are basically in a 
meltdown mode. In other words, gangs and violent organizations threaten 
the safety and welfare of families in these Central American countries.
  What we saw in 2014 is what President Obama called a humanitarian 
crisis--when tens of thousands of these children, unaccompanied by a 
parent, were turned over to these criminal organizations and 
transported from Central America all the way through Mexico into the 
United States, where they were then processed and placed with a sponsor 
in the United States, consistent with the law currently in effect. This 
is not a new scenario.
  The cartels, the criminal organizations, have found a new way to 
circumvent American law unless we change it, unless we fix it. What 
they are hoping for, ultimately, is a restoration of the catch-and-
release policies of the past.
  What happens when people are not detained and when they are not 
presented before an immigration judge on a timely basis is that they 
are given a notice to appear in the future and told to come back for 
their hearing in months and maybe years later. It should surprise no 
one that the vast majority of those people don't show up for their 
  What has happened is, the criminal organizations who profit from this 
business model and the people who illegally immigrate to the United 
States have basically gamed the system. Unless we are willing to stand 
up and fix it, then shame on us.
  This is really about two issues. One is compassionate treatment of 
the children, treating the adults with dignity and providing them a 
safe place. But it is also about making sure that our laws are 
  Some of our colleagues across the aisle have said: Well, let's just 
abolish law enforcement at the border. Let's abolish Immigration and 
Customs Enforcement, abolish ICE, as it is called. That would be a 
disaster of the first

[[Page S4929]]

order. How would we be maintaining fidelity with our oath to support 
the Constitution and laws of the United States if we would not see to 
it that our law enforcement agencies, like ICE, which perform important 
and necessary duties along the border and throughout the country, were 
not there with our support to do the job we have asked them to do?
  I know there has been a lot of discussion about this legislation, but 
at some point, patience ceases to be a virtue, and I expect that at 
some point there may well be an opportunity for one or more Senators to 
come to the floor and offer this legislation by unanimous consent. We 
will see who wants to be a constructive player in this process and who 
wants to object and obstruct our ability to fix this crisis at the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Fischer). The Senator from Iowa.


  Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, as we all know, the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation is a component of the Department of Justice. It is 
frequently described as the premier law enforcement agency in the 
country. The FBI's investigative authority has only grown--and grown 
tremendously--since its creation almost 100 years ago.
  The Bureau now covers everything from kidnapping to 
counterintelligence, public corruption to bank robbery, and maybe a lot 
of things in between. Its power is very substantial, and its 
jurisdiction is far-reaching. It is a very important agency. Because of 
that, the FBI is subject to a lot of scrutiny.
  Lately, we have had a lot of folks around here who seem to be 
mistaking the word ``scrutiny'' of the Bureau with the word ``attacks'' 
on the Bureau. Oversight of the FBI is not new, and it is a 
constitutional responsibility of the Congress at least to do oversight 
of every agency, and the FBI can't be an exception.
  Far from being out of bounds, it is essential for the people's 
elected representatives in the Congress to put the FBI under a 
microscope. That is doubly true when the FBI gets involved in election 
controversies. The more power and the more secrecy the FBI claims in 
order to carry out its responsibilities, the more closely it ought to 
be watched.
  Under our government, where the public's business ought to be public, 
that statement I just made ought to be common sense to everybody.
  In its criminal work, the FBI is held accountable primarily by the 
court system. When the FBI secretly gathers information for 
intelligence purposes, the risk of impropriety skyrockets. If the 
information is never going to be presented in the courts, as in a 
criminal matter, who is going to be watching to make sure that the 
power to gather and use it is not being abused?
  That is why we need vigorous congressional oversight and strong 
inspector general scrutiny. Lots of people say that the FBI should be 
independent. I disagree. The FBI needs to be objective and nonpartisan. 
It should be insulated from undue political pressure.
  If you want to call that independence, then I will use that word. It 
cannot be independent of accountability to the people's elected 
leaders. Civilian control of the military has always been a key 
safeguard to liberty for the same reason.
  Freedom is at risk if the FBI can become a domestic intelligence 
service with free rein to weaponize information in secret. We have seen 
the risks of that in the text messages of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. 
Their contempt for both the people of this country and, particularly, 
their elected leaders should disturb everyone.
  Abuses of power at the FBI are why we have a term limit for the 
Director of the FBI. That term limit is not there to protect the FBI's 
independence; it is there to protect the people from the abuses that J. 
Edgar Hoover committed because he became too independent. He was 
accountable to no one. J. Edgar Hoover was feared by Presidents, 
Senators, and Congressmen. While the Director originally was selected 
by the Attorney General, in 1968, Congress made the position subject to 
Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. In 1976, the Congress 
established a nonrenewable 10-year term limit for the Director. The 
Senate Judiciary Committee published a committee report on that bill 
that limited the 10-year term in 1974. It took a couple of years for 
the bill to pass the House.

  In quoting from that report:

       The purpose of the bill is to achieve two complementary 
     objectives. The first is to insulate the Director of the 
     Federal Bureau of Investigation from undue pressure being 
     exerted upon him from superiors in the Executive Branch. The 
     second is to protect against an FBI Director becoming too 
     independent and unresponsive.

  At the time, Congress was grappling with the fallout of Watergate and 
the decades of corruption and civil liberties abuses by that first 
Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover--hence, the legislation. Congress 
knew the FBI had to be able to operate free of partisan interference 
but still be accountable to the duly elected leadership of the country, 
including all Members of Congress in their constitutional roles of 
  Certainly, the FBI Director can't be a politician's stooge, but 
history tells us that the bigger risk is in the other direction. Hoover 
abused his power to intimidate politicians and other political leaders. 
In a democracy, all of our leaders are ultimately accountable to the 
people. Access to information about what agencies like the FBI are 
doing is essential to holding them accountable. Transparency brings 
accountability. Abuses multiply in secret. That is why congressional 
oversight--Congress's responsibility under the Constitution--is key. 
The recent report by the Department of Justice's inspector general is a 
very good example. It describes behavior having taken place in secret 
at the FBI that simply cannot be defended when having been brought to 
  First, the inspector general's report identified unacceptable 
messages that were sent on FBI mobile devices and computer systems by 5 
of the 15 FBI employees on the Clinton email investigation. Those 
messages reeked with political bias. The report found that through such 
messages, these employees ``brought discredit to themselves, sowed 
doubt about the FBI's handling of the Midyear investigation, and 
impacted the reputation of the FBI.'' One message explicitly suggested 
a willingness to take official investigative steps for partisan reasons 
where there should be no partisanship. That message vowed to stop the 
election of Donald Trump.
  Can you imagine an FBI employee in an official capacity, on official 
devices, taking that approach and then claiming not to be biased?
  Because of that message, the IG was unable to conclude that the FBI's 
inaction on the Clinton email matter, for nearly a month prior to the 
election, was free from partisan bias.
  The IG referred to the Bureau all five employees who had expressed 
partisan bias in order for the FBI to consider potential disciplinary 
action. Those messages showed a bureau plagued by arrogance, disrespect 
for policy and norms, and disgust of democratic accountability.
  The report found that Director Comey's actions usurped the 
Department's authority. It called his decision of publicly announcing 
that Secretary Clinton would not be prosecuted as ``extraordinary'' and 
``insubordinate.'' Director Comey acted as if he were accountable to no 
one except himself.
  His subordinates also appeared content to ignore Bureau and 
Department policy and guidance--some, apparently, for their own 
personal interests.
  The inspector general also recently concluded that the FBI's former 
Deputy, Andrew McCabe, authorized the disclosure of information to a 
reporter. That information confirmed the existence of an ongoing 
investigation. The IG report faulted McCabe for violating longstanding 
Department and Bureau policy. There is a public interest exception to 
that policy, but the inspector general found that McCabe authorized the 
disclosure of the information to make himself, McCabe, look good. Now 
McCabe claims Comey knew about it, but the FBI will not release 
information that supposedly supports that claim.
  The FBI did little to nothing to address what now appears to be a 
culture of unauthorized contact with the media. Yet, somehow, every 
day, you read in the newspapers of the FBI's stiff-arming congressional 
oversight at every turn. Going to the newspapers is OK. When Congress 
wants the same information, no.

[[Page S4930]]

  On the one hand, for example, the FBI stonewalls legitimate requests 
from the people's elected representatives, whom they ``hate,'' in the 
words of Agent Strzok. On the other hand, FBI employees are accepting 
meals, sports tickets, and golf outings from reporters.
  Now the Department and the FBI are refusing to comply with 
congressional subpoenas while lecturing Congress about the need to 
control access to sensitive information. While FBI agents are breaking 
the rules by talking to reporters left and right, the Bureau goes after 
legitimate whistleblowers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse, according 
to law.
  The level of hypocrisy is staggering. The Bureau was investigating 
Secretary Clinton for her use of private communications to transact 
public business, but the employees in the Bureau who were handling that 
very investigation, including the Director, did exactly the same thing. 
Of course, these employees were not exclusively using a private server 
that was highly vulnerable to outside attacks. There truly is a 
difference in the order of magnitude, but the FBI's employees' behavior 
could help explain their apparent lack of enthusiasm for investigating 
Clinton's clear alienation of the Federal records. After all, how could 
they accuse her of violating the Federal Records Act when it appears 
they may also have been violating the very same law?
  These are only some of the examples in the inspector general's latest 
report that we had a hearing on before my Judiciary Committee a couple 
of weeks ago.
  Former Director Comey said his people ``didn't give a rip about 
politics.'' We can see clearly now that that is just not true, at least 
not for five top individuals involved in this very high-profile, very 
important investigation. They now need to be held accountable for their 
actions. There is no place in the FBI for the kind of arrogance 
displayed in those text messages.
  There is no place in the FBI for the kind of political timing and 
calculations made by the former Director. His subordinates openly 
discussed the enormous pressure they were under to close the Clinton 
email investigation before the political conventions. That was 
completely improper. Decisions at the FBI need to be made on merit, not 
on a political calendar.
  The FBI needs to stay out of politics. It needs to submit to 
oversight. It needs to focus on doing its job to regain its reputation 
for objectivity. No one in this country is above the law. No one should 
be independent of accountability, especially not the FBI.
  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. MARKEY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                     Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

  Mr. MARKEY. Madam President, the retirement of Supreme Court Justice 
Anthony Kennedy has created one of the most consequential vacancies on 
the High Court that this country has ever seen. There is a reason 
pundits have often referred to the Supreme Court as the ``Kennedy 
Court.'' His influence on so many politically salient cases cannot be 
overstated. During his 30 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy 
was often the swing vote in decisions decided 5 to 4 on a divided bench 
of the Supreme Court. These include some of the most historic cases in 
our Nation's history: on a woman's right to choose, environmental 
protections, and same-sex marriage.
  In 1992 Justice Kennedy wrote the controlling opinion in Planned 
Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe v. Wade's core holding that 
the Constitution protects a woman's right to make a fundamental 
decision about her own healthcare, including a woman's right to choose.
  In 2007 Justice Kennedy joined a 5-to-4 opinion in Massachusetts v. 
EPA, which held that greenhouse gas emissions are pollutants under the 
Clean Air Act and that the EPA must regulate those emissions under that 
statute, unless it can provide a scientific basis for its refusal to do 
  In 2013 Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in United States 
v. Windsor, striking down as unconstitutional the Defense of Marriage 
Act because it violated basic due process and equal protection 
principles by extending certain Federal benefits to opposite-sex 
married couples but denying those same benefits to same-sex married 
  In 2015 Justice Kennedy wrote the landmark opinion on same-sex 
marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that the Constitution 
guarantees same-sex couples the right to marriage.
  In 2016 Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Whole Woman's 
Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down a restrictive anti-choice law 
in Texas because it put an undue burden on women's access to 
reproductive healthcare services.
  All of these decisions were decided by the single vote of a single 
Supreme Court Justice. That Justice was Anthony Kennedy. The Justice 
who succeeds Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court will have the 
opportunity to leave a deep and lasting mark on issues of the highest 
constitutional magnitude--issues that impact the health and freedom of 
women, the environment, LGBTQ rights, consumer protection, labor 
protections, affirmative action, criminal justice, gun safety, and 
  There are, without a doubt, important issues that will be decided. 
These will be the most important decisions of our generation, and this 
Supreme Court will be in a position to make that history.
  Justice Kennedy's retirement handed President Trump the opportunity 
to fulfill his campaign promise to shift the balance of power on the 
Supreme Court to the far right on these issues. So the President dusted 
off a preapproved list of candidates for the High Court--a wish list 
prepared and presented to him by the ultraconservative Federalist 
Society. This is the same list of candidates that the Federalist 
Society assured President Trump would satisfy his litmus test of 
overturning Roe v. Wade and striking down critical healthcare 
protections. This is the same set of candidates from which the 
President selected Neil Gorsuch to fill the late Justice Antonin 
Scalia's seat--the seat that Senate Republicans stole when they 
violated all norms of Senate procedure by refusing even to hold a 
hearing on President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland. In the short 
time that Justice Gorsuch has been on the Supreme Court, he has proven 
himself to be every bit of the far-right conservative Justice that the 
Federalist Society promised he would be.
  DC Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh's name was on that Federalist 
Society's wish list as well. With the President's nomination of him to 
the Nation's highest Court, the President has found another Federalist 
Society-approved jurist whom he believes will pass his litmus test, and 
that should concern every single American.
  Brett Kavanaugh is a judicial conservative's dream come true--a young 
jurist who will push the Supreme Court to the right for decades to 
come. His record on issues such as access to healthcare, consumer and 
environmental protections, and a free and open internet portend a 
rubberstamp for a conservative, right-wing agenda that would move us 
backward as a nation.
  At the same time, it is very concerning that Judge Kavanaugh, who 
once served as Ken Starr's top deputy in the White Water and Monica 
Lewinsky investigations of President Clinton, has said that a sitting 
President should not be investigated for allegations of wrongdoing, 
should not be indicted or tried while he is in office, and should not 
have to participate in civil legal proceedings until he leaves office. 
This is from a veteran of Ken Starr's staff, leading the investigation 
against President Clinton throughout the Monica Lewinsky investigation. 
It is no coincidence that a President who now fears all of these legal 
actions would nominate a judge who could shield him from those legal 
  Perhaps the gravest concern that the Kavanaugh nomination raises is 
the fate of Roe v. Wade. For 45 years, Roe has not just protected 
access to safe and legal procedures for women in our country, but it 
has affirmed the constitutional right to privacy. Roe recognizes that 
all Americans must be able to make their own personal health decisions 
based on their own beliefs, needs, and circumstances.

[[Page S4931]]

  Judge Kavanaugh's record on the DC Circuit inspires no confidence 
that he will protect this fundamental right. He has supported 
restricting access to contraception, and he recently would have forced 
an undocumented minor in Texas to delay receiving a safe and legal 
termination of her pregnancy despite her taking all of the necessary 
steps to access that procedure under Texas State law. If confirmed, 
Judge Kavanaugh will almost certainly have more opportunities to inject 
the government into women's decisions about their own bodies.
  Over recent years, State legislators across the country and their 
allies have pushed the boundaries of restrictions on legal abortion. 
Challenges to these laws are winding their way through the judicial 
system now and could certainly land in the welcoming arms of a nominee 
whom the Federalist Society have assured the President would reverse 
Roe v. Wade.
  Confirming Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is an invitation for 
anti-choice advocates to intensify their crusade against women having 
access to procedures which they choose to make, taking them closer to 
their dream of overturning Roe v. Wade and turning back the clock on 
women's health freedom and economic security.
  Let's be clear. Overturning Roe wouldn't end these procedures across 
this country. It would just end safe abortions that women would have 
access to.
  Those across the country who care about protecting individual liberty 
and autonomy in healthcare decisions, including access to safe and 
legal procedures, are galvanized and mobilized politically in a way we 
haven't seen in a generation. They are organized, and I believe they 
will bring that political power to bear in opposition to the Kavanaugh 
nomination. Our judicial system--and the Supreme Court, in particular--
has a special role in our democracy as a neutral arbiter of the law. 
The American people must have faith that this institution and its 
Justices will uphold this sacred responsibility.
  Stepping back and from a larger perspective, looking at the 
Affordable Care Act, we have to ensure that, ultimately, protections 
for those with preexisting conditions in the healthcare system, which 
are guaranteed under ObamaCare, are continued. Every family in our 
country has somebody with a preexisting condition, and we have to make 
sure this nomination does not lead to such fundamental changes in the 
Affordable Care Act, eviscerating those protections and rights.
  The President had an opportunity to choose a nominee that would unify 
this country and assure the public of the independence of the judicial 
branch. Instead, he shamelessly, in a partisan way, picked someone who 
would only serve to propel our highest Court into a far-right orthodoxy 
for generations to come, becoming the ``supreme rightwing court.''
  If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, women's freedom to make decisions 
about their bodies, reforms to our healthcare system, the quality of 
our air and water, and much more will be at risk. This is a critical 
moment for our country and much too important for any Senator to 
rubberstamp this nominee in the name of deference to the President.
  I am going to fight this nominee every step of the way, and I ask 
every American to join me in this fight. We will need all Americans to 
organize, to march, to raise their voices, and to say: Judge Kavanaugh 
does not represent the values we need on the Supreme Court of the 
United States of America.

  Thank you.
  I yield back.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado.

                         Colorado Forest Fires

  Mr. GARDNER. Madam President, I come to the floor today to talk about 
fires that Colorado faces right now--some of the most devastating fires 
in Colorado history. As of the writing of our comments this morning, 
there were 40 fires so far in 2018. This is one of them. I think this 
is the 416 fire, which I had the opportunity to visit just a couple of 
weeks ago.
  This past week I was in Colorado, where we were able to see the 
Sugarloaf fire. I drove by the Weston Pass fire. This is some distance 
away from the Lake Christine fire, and obviously, the Spring Creek fire 
in Colorado. As a result of these fires, over 355,000 acres in Colorado 
have burned. That is simply devastating right now.
  Congress has not been inattentive to the needs of our forests. Over 
the past several months, we passed legislation that would fix the fire 
borrowing crisis that had gripped the Forest Service. That was 
something that was forcing them to cannibalize dollars that could be 
used to reduce the next year's forest fires on this year's forest 
fires. We fixed that. We put fixes in place for that.
  We also passed legislation to give our land managers more tools to 
help address dead trees and insect- and disease-ridden forests so we 
could have healthier forests. I hope the work we do on healthy forest 
policies, which we have already made progress on, will continue in this 
Congress. These fires are certainly devastating.
  These communities remain open. No matter where you are in the 
country, if you have a summer vacation in Colorado, I hope you will 
still come. These communities need you now more than ever. They need 
your dollars. They need your resources. They want you to come and 
  In the meantime, we have to make sure that we provide our 
firefighters--the great men and women on the frontlines of these 
fires--the tools they need to protect our communities and the tools our 
land managers need to make sure they can prevent these fires from 
  In this Congress we have also considered policies addressing 
categorical exclusions. That is a fancy way of saying that it gives 
line managers tools to reduce the fire risks in certain areas. We have 
helped to provide tools in fire regimes I, II, and III. There are five 
fire regimes: fire regimes I, II, III, IV, and V. They are defined by 
how likely they are to burn and how frequently they are to burn in 
certain conditions. Much of the West, though, is what is called fire 
regimes IV and V. You can see the colors of fire regimes IV and V, the 
orange and reddish color, and the purple color. The green, the light 
green, the yellowish colors are I, II, III.
  We have been able to provide new tools for fire regimes I, II, and 
III, but we haven't provided as many tools in fire regimes IV and V. 
That happens to be a significant portion of the West. That is where 
most of the beetle and other insect kill has occurred in Colorado. When 
a tree is killed by an insect, it creates a significant fire hazard.
  We have also been able to provide the amendments that we filed in the 
farm bill. Unfortunately, they didn't succeed. I hope we can get them 
through to provide help in these high-risk areas of disease and insect-
ridden forests.
  Past management practices have created conditions where we may have 
monoculture forests, where you a forest with the same age of trees. You 
have the same conditions that allow them to be susceptible to the same 
insects and the same diseases, and you end up with thousands of acres 
that are susceptible to catastrophic wildfire.
  Where a lot of Colorado's beetle kill and insect kill can be found is 
also where the headwaters of some of our Nation's most significant 
water sources are. Colorado is the only State in the country where all 
water flows out of and no water flows into. I know the Presiding 
Officer is a beneficiary of Colorado water as well--probably not enough 
of it, she would say. But it is important to Nebraska that we protect 
Colorado forests because the headwaters of the Platte River are in 
Colorado--the North Platte and the South Platte.
  There is work we have to be doing to make sure that we protect these 
watersheds, because what happens when a forest burns is that you end up 
with hydrophobic soil conditions and that runoff from a rainstorm goes 
directly into the water. It destroys the watershed. If you have a 
forest that has four or five times the undergrowth that it should, then 
that takes more water out of what would naturally go to the waterway 
and the watershed, meaning there is less water available for other uses 
  I want to talk more about forest management. We had another fire in 
Colorado called the Buffalo fire in Summit, CO. If you have ever driven 
up I-70 through the Eisenhower Tunnel, toward Breckenridge, you go by a 
town called Silverthorne. You can see in

[[Page S4932]]

Summit County that the Buffalo fire threatened 1,400 homes. So 1,400 
homes were evacuated as a result of this fire. The fire was 91 acres. 
It is about 95 percent containment, but this risk it posed was 
significant because there was a very densely populated area of the 
mountains, a community of homeowners. There were 1,400 homeowners who 
had to evacuate.
  They had a lot of high-risk fuels, but what this community had done 
was something we should brag about all over the West. They actually had 
collaborative efforts with State and local governments in this area. 
They developed fuel treatments to help moderate fire activity.
  This was a challenging fire. We have extreme fire behavior in 
Colorado this year, but because of the collaborative work they had 
done, that helped to reduce the risk, to thin forests, to reduce the 
fuel, and to create the fire breaks. They were able to keep this fire 
from reaching those homes. The fire treatment worked. This is an 
example of a process we ought to be spreading and looking at to help 
reduce hazardous fuels around the West to make sure we don't lose our 
communities when we have these devastating fires. This was just west of 
Silverthorne. These fuel reduction projects helped to create fire 
breaks, and they prescribed burns which contain a fire with extreme 
behavior that could have been devastating. This wasn't too far away 
from the Dillon Reservoir, a key source of water for Colorado.
  I also want to talk about some of the language we have in the farm 
bill. We have language in the farm bill that addresses vegetation 
management. This picture shows what happened after a forest fire. This 
is a power line, obviously. You can see the power lines going through 
  We have risks to our forests, our communities, our homes, and risks 
to our watersheds. We also have risks to our power supply systems. You 
can see that this pole has been simply disintegrated as a result of the 
fire. This has cost at least one utility over $10 million in the Basalt 
area, as a result of the fire.
  We are working on language dealing with vegetation management. 
Senator Bennet and I sponsored language that would allow utilities to 
do work on their own dime outside of the rights of way to prevent this 
fire from impacting our electricity and energy system. The Lake 
Christine fire, which is near Basalt, put a lot of different types of 
electric infrastructure out of commission. This utility, as I 
mentioned, is estimating that it will be millions of dollars for them 
to repair. It makes sense for us to give tools to these utilities on 
their own dime to prevent this kind of damage, because they would be 
creating fire breaks. They would be creating more resilient systems 
that would allow our communities a little bit more security, I guess, 
in knowing that their electricity systems would be protected and safe.
  These kinds of bills that we have been able to produce have had and 
will have great impact on how we can prevent and how we respond to 
catastrophic wildfires. Certainly, a $10 million cost from one fire, as 
well as other costs, will increase rates. It has the potential to 
increase rates dramatically if we can't get a handle on the right kinds 
of policies.
  Finally, I want to turn to another disturbing aspect of what we have 
seen in Colorado with these forest fires. We have seen an uptick of 
drones flying over active forest fires and firefighting areas. If you 
fly a drone and do that without interfering with the firefighter--
following all the rules--then I don't think anybody has a problem with 
it. If you are flying a drone and violating the rules and you are 
flying it over an active fire, stop it. I talked to far too many 
incident commanders who had to call off air tankers because there was a 
drone in the area. There is a video on YouTube where you can see 
footage from the drone taking a picture of the forest, while you see 
the shadow of a tanker on the ground because the tanker went right over 
  The pilots of that tanker were asked: Did you see the drone?
  They said: No.
  What would have happened if that drone had hit that plane, perhaps 
causing an accident, perhaps costing lives, perhaps starting a new fire 
because the plane could have crashed as a result?
  If you call off an air tanker already in the air, that tanker can't 
land with the slurry that it has onboard already. So the air tanker 
gets called off. It then has to dump the slurry somewhere else. That 
could be $10,000 worth of slurry at a time wasted because they got 
called off because somebody decided they would rather fly their drone 
and get videos that they can post on YouTube, instead of allowing 
firefighters to do their job.
  This is what the Forest Service put out: ``If you fly, we can't.''
  You have a 110,000-acre fire in the Spring Creek fire right now. Over 
200 homes are lost. An hour a day without supertankers--without air 
tankers--is a big problem for those communities and the men and women 
putting their lives at risk trying to defend and protect our forests 
and our communities. I hope people will use a little bit of common 
sense and not fly their drones over an active firefighting.
  I introduced legislation with Senator Bennet and Congressman Tipton 
to make it a felony to interfere with a firefighter operation over a 
forest fire if you are flying a drone illegally.
  We met with individuals from Oregon and from all over the West when I 
visited the fire at the incident command center in Southern Colorado 
when we visited the Spring Creek fire. We talked to fire men and women 
who spent their Fourth of July not watching fireworks or picnicking 
with their family but defending and protecting our communities in 
Colorado. We thank them for their work. We thank them for their 
tireless efforts and sacrifice.
  It is dangerous. In fact, just last week, as we were at the fire on 
Friday, we commemorated and recognized the anniversary of the Storm 
King Mountain fire and the 14 persons who were killed near Glenwood 
Springs about 24 years before. This is a very serious fire season. 
Thankfully, we have serious policies in place that are addressing it. 
There is more work we can do.
  I thank my colleagues.

                         Restore Our Parks Act

  Madam President, I come to the floor today also to talk about a bill 
called the Restore Our Parks Act and a committee hearing that we had 
yesterday before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. That 
legislation would provide billions of dollars to address the most 
pressing maintenance needs at our Nation's national park units. 
National parks and monuments are an important part of Colorado's 
history and heritage and of our Nation's shared love of our public 
lands system.
  We know that in 2016, the year the National Park Service was 
celebrating its centennial, Colorado's 12 units managed by the National 
Park Service saw over 7.5 million visitors who spent around $485 
million visiting our national parks in Colorado. However, after years 
of increasing visitation popularity, national park units across the 
country are showing signs of stress and overuse for which programmatic 
funding has not kept up.
  National park units in Colorado account for over $238 million of the 
$11.6 billion in maintenance needs our national parks now face.
  Rocky Mountain National Park, which is one of the Nation's most 
visited parks in the country and boasts the highest altitude paved road 
in the continental United States, has $84 million alone in deferred 
maintenance needs.
  Mesa Verde, Colorado's oldest national park and the first established 
to protect the works of man, needs $70 million to address its deferred 
maintenance backlog.
  The list goes on for Dinosaur National Monument, the Great Sand 
Dunes, and even Bent's Old Fort.
  I have been happy to join with a bipartisan group of colleagues--
Senators Alexander, Portman, King, and Warner, among others--to craft 
and advance legislation that fulfills our promise to the public that 
the upkeep of our public lands is a priority.
  I am also pleased that it is based on a funding model that has worked 
so successfully for the Land and Water Conservation Fund--one of the 
crown jewels of our Nation's conservation programs.
  I would point out that just 20 days ago another group of bipartisan 
Senators was holding a press conference to highlight the need to 
reauthorize LWCF in the next 100 days before that

[[Page S4933]]

authorization lapses. I was a part of that group. We talked about the 
need to have this program reauthorized again before it expires. Now the 
deadline is just about 78 days away.

  I must also mention that we have yet to fulfill our promise on 
funding for LWCF. We need to fully fund that program. It is something I 
hope we can do in the near future.
  While I believe the structure of the Restore Our Parks bill is 
sufficient and that the same will not happen here, we need to ensure 
our full commitment to this new effort, so it doesn't suffer the same 
fate, by making sure we have the funding promised by Congress.
  I urge my colleagues to find a bipartisan path forward to permanently 
authorize and to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund 
because access to the land we are trying to maintain is as important as 
the parks themselves.
  I again thank my colleagues for coming together on the Restore Our 
Parks Act in recognition of the necessary, overdue fix to address our 
park unit's deferred maintenance backlog that has persisted for far too 
many years.
  Thank you.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sasse). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Crapo). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to yield back 
the remainder of the time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  All time is expired.
  The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Ney 
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Mississippi (Mrs. Hyde-Smith), the Senator from Arizona 
(Mr. McCain), the Senator from Kansas (Mr. Moran), the Senator from 
Kentucky (Mr. Paul), and the Senator from North Carolina (Mr. Tillis).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from New York (Mr. Schumer) 
and the Senator from New Hampshire (Mrs. Shaheen) are necessarily 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 70, nays 23, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 154 Ex.]


     Van Hollen


     Cortez Masto

                             NOT VOTING--7

  The nomination was confirmed.