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

Text available as:

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

[Pages S4934-S4943]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              NATO SUMMIT

  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss a matter of great 
import, given the events of the past few days in Europe as they relate 
to friends, foes, and peace. Global peace is not a zero-sum game, and 
global alliances ought not be subject to whim, impulse, opaque 
machinations, or material threats of cancellation over internal 
disagreements. The world relies on the United States for stable and 
reliable leadership, and we have in turn benefited greatly from the 
peace and stability for which we have been the chief guarantors. This 
is not a subject that is even debatable.
  Lately, the President of the United States has been characterizing 
our most vital relationships around the world in purely transactional 
terms, asserting that America has been taken advantage of, and he has 
gone so far as to suggest that when it comes to our relationship with 
our NATO partners, we get nothing for our troubles.
  Nothing for a stable and peaceful Europe? This is the danger in 
viewing these relationships as mere transactions, absent our shared 
values. Absent values, the world is nothing but a cruel and cold place 
of warring camps and territorial ambitions and no durable alliances 
whatsoever. To view the world this way requires a frightening 
unawareness of the postwar security order that we ourselves created.
  This posture of antagonism and suspicion toward our partners and 
peace can be held only when you blot out 70 of the most consequential 
years of the world. Apart from our shared sacrifice and our shared 
security, what we have been through together over those 70 years cannot 
adequately be reflected on any ledger or list of petty grievances, and 
a seeming ignorance of the scale of that history is blundering and 
  The mindset that comprehends a trade deficit as a grievous offense or 
an unfair act of aggression is the same mindset that can upend vital 
security relationships that have been similarly misperceived. 
Sometimes, if I didn't know better, I might say that we are 
purposefully trying to destabilize the Western alliance and to turn the 
world upside down. I might come to this conclusion because, by a 
process of elimination, no other answer would make any sense.
  If this is some kind of stratagem, what good could possibly be 
achieved by heedlessly making friends into enemies, and who, exactly, 
would benefit? What would this President replace the Western alliance 
with? There simply is no better order that could be achieved by this 
  Today, I rise to pose a few questions, and I believe there is much 
riding on the answers to these questions.
  A couple of days ago, the President of the United States said that 
his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin would likely 
be easier than his meeting with America's most important allies at the 
NATO summit. Why would a President--any President--say such a thing? 
The Russian President, at the very least, personally directed a 
propaganda campaign and an extraordinarily ambitious series of cyber 
attacks aimed at the integrity of our elections in 2016, and we have 
been told that these attacks are continuing. He has shown no signs 
whatsoever of changing his behavior.
  The Russian President is a man schooled in treachery and espionage. 
He jails and murders his opponents, presides over a mafia state, and he 
is an enemy of democracy. Why would a meeting with Putin be easier than 
a meeting with the allies we rely on most to be a bulwark against him?
  Vladimir Putin is not ``fine,'' as the President recently asserted. 
And singing his praises for no good reason sends a terrifying message 
to our allies, especially those countries that share a border with 
Russia. Flattering such a man, who has demonstrated his hostility 
toward us and contempt for our values and has recently annexed parts of 
neighboring sovereign countries, is simply bizarre. That the admiration 
comes from an American President--well, that is unconscionable.
  The President, of course, continues to entertain Mr. Putin's denial 
of election interference and otherwise hardly mentions the Russian 
attacks on us, other than to talk about the Russia hoax or to refer to 
Mueller's investigation into the attacks as a ``witch hunt''--this, in 
spite of conclusive and overwhelming proof of Russian involvement 
generated from investigations conducted by his own government. Why?
  Then, before the recent G7 meeting, the President called for Russia 
to be readmitted to the G7, in spite of the fact that Moscow continues 
to occupy Crimea and has shown no remorse whatsoever for its behavior 
toward the United States. Why?
  Then, yesterday in Brussels, the President offered a twisted 
interpretation of how NATO works and how it is financed in order to 
frame a grievance against our NATO allies, supposedly on behalf of the 
American taxpayer. Why?
  Why would an American President create such conflict? Why does the 
President's complaint about our closest friends on the global stage 
unnervingly echo the Russian position? Mr. Putin's singular foreign 
policy goal is to weaken democracies and destroy the Western alliance. 
Could we possibly be helping him any more in his quest than by 
baselessly attacking our own allies?
  The antipathy and hostility toward our friends and allies are simply 
inexplicable, but it is not good enough for us just to say that. It is 
our job and obligation in this body to try to end it--to reassure our 
allies that they are still our allies.
  Over the Independence Day holiday, I had the privilege to lead a 
bipartisan and bicameral delegation to the Nordic and Baltic states to 
talk to our friends whose view of the Russian threat is much more 
intimate than ours and to hear of the concerns of the leaders there--
NATO allies and partners. We wanted to assess the threat for ourselves.
  In Latvia, where 40 percent of the population is ethnic Russian, the 
propaganda from Moscow is strong and unrelenting: The NATO alliance is 
weak. It will not last. The United States is an unreliable ally.
  These themes have lately become very familiar on this side of the 
Atlantic as well.
  The people of Latvia, ethnic Russians, and otherwise, pay close 
attention when an American President is reported to have said things 
like Crimea is rightfully part of Russia because the people in Crimea 
speak Russian. Well, there is a lot of Russian spoken in Latvia too. 
Does that mean that the United States would concede to Russian 
aggression against Latvia on this basis?
  Vladimir Putin presides dictatorially over the remains of a collapsed 
empire. All he has now are nationalism and territorial ambitions and 
nostalgic appeals to former glory. He is not a strong leader for his 
people, as our President has said, any more than Kim Jong Un's people 
love their dictator, as he has also said. If we fail to see these 
things clearly, then we fail the world, and we fail ourselves, and we 
dishonor those from our own country and from our allied countries who 
kept the Soviet menace at bay for half a century as the world hung in 
the balance.
  We are now told that the President will be meeting one-on-one with 

[[Page S4935]]

Putin. He will have no staff present, no press, no one to make a record 
of the event. Why? If the White House is as confused about the nature 
of the threat we face from Mr. Putin as it seems to be, a meeting 
between our President and his Russian counterpart for which there is no 
record could not be more concerning. It is vital that even the most 
private meetings between leaders not be lost to history, especially 
when once again the world seems to be hanging in the balance.
  NATO is one of the greatest and most visionary investments our Nation 
has ever made, and anybody who says differently is simply wrong. Any 
counternarrative about NATO is willfully destructive and does real and 
lasting damage to us in the world.
  I join my senior Senator, John McCain, in the sentiments he expressed 
just weeks ago. To our allies: Bipartisan majorities of both parties 
support our alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans 
stand with you.
  Now, I would be remiss if I did not, here today, remind my colleagues 
that the only time article 5 of the NATO Charter has been invoked has 
been by the United States after the attacks of 9/11/2001. Our allies 
accompanied us into battle to defend our country and our way of life, 
and they paid an eternal price for their commitment to our shared 
security. Of the more than 3,500 casualties sustained thus far in 
Afghanistan, roughly a third are the sons, the daughters, the husbands, 
and the wives of our NATO allies. In the spirit of NATO, those 
casualties are our casualties. We cherish them and their sacrifices as 
if they were our own because they are our own. Let us honor them not 
just in memory but in deed--in the way we conduct ourselves here in 
this place, in our commitment to the values for which they died, in the 
clarity of our purpose, and ultimately in our basic ability to tell 
right from wrong no matter the cost.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that with respect 
to the Ney nomination, the motion to reconsider be considered made and 
laid upon the table and the President be immediately notified of the 
Senate's action.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cassidy). Without objection, it is so 

                     Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about a couple of 
topics. I first want to talk about Brett Kavanaugh.
  Brett Kavanaugh is the President's nominee to be a new Justice on the 
U.S. Supreme Court. Yesterday, I had the chance to sit down with Judge 
Kavanaugh in my office and talk about his judicial philosophy, his view 
of the role of the courts, and how he would approach some of the tough 
issues the Court is likely to face. Frankly, I cannot think of anybody 
who is more qualified to serve as the next Associate Justice of the 
Supreme Court. This guy's background is incredibly impressive, as is 
his record, which I will get to in a minute.
  As important to me is Brett Kavanaugh the person. Let me speak 
briefly about Brett, because I have known him for over 15 years. I have 
gotten to know him and his wife. I worked with him in the George W. 
Bush White House. I also had the opportunity to work with his wife 
because she was the personal assistant to President George W. Bush. 
They are both wonderful people. They are a great family. Brett 
Kavanaugh is a person I have gotten to know, not so much as a legal 
scholar or a judge but as a friend, and I have watched him as a father 
and as a husband. He is a guy with great compassion, great humility, 
and a big heart.
  In his remarks on Monday at the White House, he talked a little bit 
about his life outside of being a judge.
  He talked about coaching his daughter's basketball team. Many of us 
who have been coaches for our high school kids and grade school kids 
probably were able to relate to that. I am glad my kids got old enough 
where they could get better coaching so they wouldn't have all the bad 
habits I probably taught them. The fact is, that is who he is. He loves 
his daughters. He coaches the team. He makes that a priority.
  He talked about tutoring kids, underprivileged kids. That is 
something he does quietly on his own time and feels strongly about.
  Finally, he talked a little about the fact that he prepares and 
serves meals to homeless people who are connected through his church. 
He talked about the priest whom he works with on that. I talked to the 
priest afterward, and the priest said: You know, in fact, we do this 
regularly. In fact, we are going to be serving a meal together on 
Wednesday. You never heard Brett Kavanaugh talk about that. In fact, in 
my meeting yesterday, Brett Kavanaugh did not mention that he was going 
straight from my meeting with him to serve meals to the homeless. I 
found out after the fact when someone brought to my attention that on 
Twitter, there was somebody who was there and had taken a photograph of 
him kind of in the background with a ball cap on. It is not something 
he brags about. It is not something he told me about. It is not 
something he does because it is the right thing to do for political 
purposes; he does it because it is the right thing to do as a Christian 
and as someone who cares about his community. That is the Brett 
Kavanaugh I know.
  I hope that others will see these sides of Brett Kavanaugh as he goes 
through the confirmation process because I think that as people get to 
know him through that, they are going to be very impressed.
  People are going to differ some on judicial philosophy. With regard 
to what kind of person you would want to see on the Supreme Court of 
the United States, to look at what will be difficult issues that will 
come before that Court, you want somebody who has a big heart, who has 
compassion, and who is humble and has the humility to be able to 
listen. Brett Kavanaugh is a good listener.
  He has a very distinguished legal record. There are some great judges 
out there, but I don't think anybody has qualifications better than 
Brett Kavanaugh's. He is clearly qualified to sit on the U.S. Supreme 
  Oftentimes, people call the DC Circuit the second highest court in 
the land. That is the court on which he already sits. There, serving on 
the court, he has earned the respect of justices across the spectrum--
judges on the right, judges on the left. He has had a number of law 
clerks go through his process who end up clerking maybe for the Supreme 
Court or going into private practice or pro bono work or working with 
the government. Every one of them I have had the opportunity to know or 
talk to has glowing things to say about him--one who is my counsel in 
my own office. He has earned the respect of people whose lives he has 
touched, who have worked with him.
  Brett Kavanaugh has a great legal education. He graduated from Yale 
Law School and clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy. That is the Justice 
whom he would replace should he be confirmed. Anthony Kennedy is viewed 
as a consensus builder. Brett Kavanaugh is a consensus builder.
  In his more than 300 published opinions, Judge Kavanaugh has proved 
time and again that he is a judge who deserves that respect because he 
applies the law fairly and impartially. He is independent, impartial, 
and smart. He interprets the law and the Constitution rather than try 
to legislate from the bench, which is very important. I think sometimes 
we forget about the separation of powers. This is where people are 
accountable to the voters and where we legislate. The members of the 
Supreme Court and the lower courts, as well, are meant to interpret 
those laws and take our great Constitution and faithfully interpret 
that as well. I think that is a very important judicial philosophy and 
one that I think most people want. That is what they are looking for in 
a judge--one who fairly and impartially applies the law and protects 
the rights guaranteed by our Constitution, not one who advances 
personal public policy goals by legislating from the bench.

[[Page S4936]]

Judge Kavanaugh has embodied this philosophy for his entire career as a 
  Professor Kavanaugh, as he is known at Harvard Law School, where he 
has taught for 10 years, is so committed to the Constitution that his 
students say he carries a copy of it in his pocket. They also commented 
that it is a very well-worn copy, because he pulls it out. They say it 
is almost falling apart from the use he makes of it.
  It is the Constitution he is loyal to, not partisan politics. 
According to one student from Harvard Law School:

       If you didn't know his background that [partisanship] 
     wouldn't come across. You wouldn't think, ``Oh this guy's a 
     Republican or this guy's a conservative.'' He wasn't in class 
     to lecture us on Judge Kavanaugh's policy preferences. He was 
     there to talk about the law. I don't see him as someone 
     motivated by outcomes but as someone motivated in finding out 
     what the law is and what the law says.

  I think that is a big part of the reason why he is such a widely 
respected judge and why he is so widely cited by other courts, 
including the Supreme Court. They have endorsed his opinions more than 
a dozen times in the Supreme Court of the United States, including some 
of his dissents that have then become the law of the land. So they pick 
up his dissent at the DC Circuit and use that in the Supreme Court as 
the reasoning for a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. That is 
highly unusual. I think that speaks to his credibility, his legal 
competence, and also his hard work. He is a hard worker who focuses on 
ensuring that he is fully prepared.
  He is also a dedicated public servant. He has chosen to spend 25 of 
his last 28 years serving the American people in various jobs.
  For all these reasons, I think he is a great pick. I think he has the 
experience and qualifications. I think he is someone who understands 
the appropriate role of the judiciary and puts that understanding into 
practice on the bench. He has a record to look at. Just as important to 
me, though, is that he is a good person.
  I am proud to support Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. 
Supreme Court. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will 
keep an open mind and get to know Brett Kavanaugh, as I have gotten to 
know him and as I hope the American people will get to know him, before 
they make a judgment. My hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will become a 
Supreme Court Justice who will make us all proud.

                         Restore Our Parks Act

  Mr. President, I also want to talk today about an important topic, 
which is our national parks. Our parks are an absolute treasure for our 
country. They are beautiful places, beautiful public lands. As 
important, they are part of our American culture and part of the 
history we have as a country, and it is important to preserve that 
  As an example, in Ohio, we have the Wright brothers' home and shop in 
Dayton, OH. It stands as an inspiration to anybody who dreams big 
dreams because that is what these two brothers did. You can see where 
these two Ohio brothers changed the world. Otherwise, frankly, they 
lived a pretty ordinary life. Preserving their home and that shop is 
very important to see that anybody can dream big and make a big 
difference. We have a responsibility to preserve that site and so many 
others that are important to our history for generations to come.
  The National Park System includes more than 84 million acres of parks 
and historical sites that now attract more than 330 million visitors 
annually. It is an amazing system.
  By the way, I was told yesterday that only one department or agency 
of the Federal Government has more assets than the national parks, and 
that is the Department of Defense, with all the military bases and all 
the physical assets they have. Otherwise, it is the parks. The parks 
have an enormous number of buildings and roads and bridges and water 
systems and visitors' centers and so on.

  In my home State of Ohio alone, we have eight of those national 
parks, including Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is the 13th most 
visited park in the United States of America. We are very proud of 
Cuyahoga Valley, whether it is for biking or hiking or fishing or 
kayaking. I am one of those 2.7 million visitors in Ohio's national 
parks every year. In fact, the weekend after this weekend, I will be at 
Cuyahoga Valley National Park with my wife, enjoying that beautiful 
  These parks are treasures, and they have so many wonderful 
facilities. The problem is that over time we have allowed a maintenance 
backlog to build up, meaning that so many of these buildings and so 
much of the infrastructure--the roads, bridges, and water systems I 
talked about--is deteriorating to the point that some of it is actually 
not being used. If you go to a national park, you may see that a trail 
is closed or a visitors' center can't be visited. You may see that some 
of the facilities that provide overnight lodging aren't available 
anymore. Why? It is because our parks, frankly, are kind of crumbling 
from within. They may look great on the outside, and they are 
beautiful, but there is now a $12 billion backlog of deferred 
maintenance at our parks. This has become a real problem.
  By the way, that is equal to nearly four times the annual budget of 
the parks. They just don't have the resources to keep up with these 
deferred maintenance costs, which tend to be longer term costs, which 
tend to be more expensive and longer term. Frankly, they are not as 
interesting to fund. It is not as interesting for Congress to fund the 
fixing of the roof on a maintenance building at Yellowstone National 
Park as it is to set up a new nature program for visitors. So this has 
become a problem.
  Think about your own home. If you allow deferred maintenance to build 
up--if you don't take care of the roof, for instance--what happens? You 
get a leak in your roof. Then you find out the drywall is ruined or the 
paint is ruined or the floor is ruined, and the costs mount. That is 
what is happening in our parks right now. When maintenance projects 
aren't completed on time, it is called getting delayed or getting 
deferred, and that is what we are focused on.
  By the way, nearly two-thirds of that deferred maintenance is 
attributable to our national parks' aging infrastructure. This would be 
roads and bridges and buildings and so on.
  The national parks just celebrated their 100th birthday in 2016, and 
a lot of us were very excited about that--100 years of these beautiful 
national treasures. Many of the facilities across the country, 
therefore, are very old. A lot are more than 80 years old, and some are 
almost 100 years old and are very badly in need of repair.
  The visitation to our parks has increased in recent years, and this 
has added to this burden. So it is not only that there are deferred 
maintenance costs, where things are being put off, but with more and 
more visitors, there is more and more pressure on the parks. From 2006 
until 2017--in those 10 years, in that period alone--annual visitation 
to our national parks increased by more than 58 million people. That is 
a good thing. To me, it is a good thing. More people are getting 
outdoors, particularly families who are taking their kids outdoors. 
More people are enjoying the parks and are learning more about nature 
and about our history, but it has put more and more pressure on the 
  The challenges of keeping up with this aging infrastructure and the 
increased visitation have stretched the Park Service thin and have 
required it to focus on just the very immediate maintenance needs it 
has and to postpone, to delay, these projects that can't be completed 
on schedule.
  We can't keep our parks in peak condition with bandaids. Some of this 
is going to require years of work and planning to go into that, which 
will require certainty and consistency about funding. When you do the 
annual appropriations process here, as you know, it is year to year. 
You do not know how much money you are going to get, and sometimes we 
cut back. They need to know there is going to be some funding there, 
some certainty, to be able to make some of these much needed repairs to 
our parks.
  Unless we take action, of course, it is just going to get worse. We 
talked about that. When you don't deal with deferred maintenance, it 
tends to build up and become worse. We are told that the $12 billion 
backlog is increasing at a rate of about 3 percent per year. That is 
because, as the experts have told us, it is a compounding issue, 
meaning that maintenance projects that go

[[Page S4937]]

unaddressed often create these other problems. They create more repair 
costs. The spike in visitation to national parks over recent years has 
put more pressure on, and the longer we wait, the more expensive it 
  For the taxpayers, it is better to move now to address these 
maintenance needs than to wait as they become more and more expensive. 
When roads, bridges, parking lots, and pathways decay, people are not 
able to visit those sites often. Some are even shut down.
  I mentioned that there are 330 million people a year who visit our 
parks. There are also 330 million people, therefore, who are spending 
money around our parks. It is a huge economic driver. For those who are 
listening who come from States like mine, where we have big national 
parks like Cuyahoga Valley National Park, those communities really want 
to be sure that we continue to have vibrant parks and that people will 
continue to want to visit and can visit in order to get the broader 
economic benefit. This is important all over the country.
  In my State of Ohio alone, where we don't have the big parks like 
Yellowstone or Yosemite but where we have some great parks, there is 
more than $100 million in overdue maintenance. For Cuyahoga Valley 
National Park, for example, there is more than $45 million of backlog, 
and completing these long-overdue projects will make a huge difference 
for a visitor's experience. The needed maintenance includes--at 
Cuyahoga Valley, as an example--$875,000 for badly needed renovations 
to the Boston Store Visitor Center. I have been there. I have seen it. 
It needs the help. That includes $274,000 in renovations for a shelter 
and $6 million in renovations for roads and parking lots to ensure 
people have parking. It includes water infrastructure improvements. 
Water infrastructure may not be the sexiest project to support, but it 
is a very important one. It is very important that we ensure that we 
have this infrastructure in place. It is the conservative thing to do.
  Helping our Park Service has long been a priority of mine, as well as 
dealing with this backlog. About 12 years ago, when I served as the 
Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the George W. Bush 
administration, I launched in our budget something that President Bush 
and Mrs. Bush were strongly supportive of, which was the Centennial 
Initiative. Again, in thinking the centennial was coming up in 2016--10 
years later--we wanted to put in place the idea of using public-private 
partnerships to fund the parks. We were successful in getting some of 
that started.

  Frankly, Congress did not pass the legislation to do it, but I 
continued that effort when I came here as a U.S. Senator and as cochair 
of the Congressional Friends of the National Park Service for its 
centennial. I authored a bill that we set up in 2006 that finally 
created this endowment fund to be able to take public-private 
partnerships. Part of it is in the park. Part of it is with the 
National Park Foundation. That bill, called the National Park Service 
Centennial Act, was signed into law in the year of the National Park 
Service's centennial anniversary. The two funds together that were 
codified in that law have now provided more than $200 million to 
address the maintenance backlog.
  By the way, more than $125 million of that has been from private 
dollars, non-Federal dollars. The idea was to provide the Federal match 
to encourage more people who love the parks to contribute. We did 
better than the legislation required, which was a one-to-one match--
$200 million total, $125 million of which came from non-Federal 
sources. That funding helps, and I am proud of that. Yet, frankly, as I 
mentioned earlier, a $12 billion maintenance backlog requires even 
more. As soon as we are able to do that, we need to do it because the 
costs are going up.
  I recently authored legislation with three of my colleagues, Senators 
Mark Warner, Lamar Alexander, and Angus King--two Republicans, one 
Democrat, and one Independent. It is called Restore Our Parks Act. The 
bill now has eight additional cosponsors who are Democrats and 
Republicans, and I am hopeful that many more of my colleagues will join 
us. The legislation is the product of a bipartisan agreement on 
consensus legislation that combines two similar bills that were already 
introduced. One was with Senator Warner and me, and one was with 
Senator Alexander and Senator King.
  The Restore Our Parks Act is a commonsense solution to this $12 
billion in long-overdue projects, and it ensures that we can do the 
maintenance to keep the parks up to speed. It creates a legacy 
restoration fund that will get half of all of the annual energy 
revenues over the next 5 years, which are not otherwise allocated, to 
be used for priority deferred maintenance projects. This is funding--
these are royalties on offshore leases, let's say, and onshore energy 
projects. Some of this funding currently goes to land and water 
conservation funding, and it will continue to go there. These are funds 
that are otherwise unobligated. The bill caps deposits into the fund at 
$1.3 billion a year, which would provide a total of $6.5 billion for 
deferred maintenance projects in our parks over the next 5 years.
  It is not the whole amount now, but it is historic. We have never had 
this much funding being put into the parks at this time. It will 
provide that certainty, to know it is going to be there year after year 
and for this purpose only. About two-thirds of those funds will go 
toward buildings, utilities, visitors' facilities, and about one-third 
will go toward transportation projects, like roads and pathways.
  Through simply using funds that the government is already taking in 
from these on- and offshore energy development projects and not 
depositing them in the General Treasury, we can cut our national parks' 
long-overdue maintenance backlog in half. This is exciting because 
about half of these projects--about $6 billion of the $12 billion--are 
what the Park Service calls urgent projects, urgent priorities. So we 
will at least have the certainty of knowing that the funding will be 
there for these larger projects that need to get done. It is a 
certainty we will never find through the annual appropriations process. 
We will be able to get some of these bigger long-term maintenance 
projects done and restore the beauty of our parks where needed.
  This legislation is broadly supported. Secretary of the Interior Ryan 
Zinke and the Trump administration support it. I thank Secretary Zinke 
personally because he has really committed himself to this issue. When 
he went through his nomination process, we talked about the maintenance 
issues at the parks. Like every good fiscal conservative, he said: This 
needs to be addressed and addressed now; otherwise, it is going to get 
worse and worse and worse. Instead of adding more to the parks, instead 
of giving the parks more responsibilities, let's be better stewards of 
what we have. And I agree with that philosophy. I commend him for that, 
and I commend him for his support and his help in ensuring that the 
administration supports it.
  Mick Mulvaney, the OMB Director, has also been very helpful in 
ensuring that we can use this funding source and that they are 
supportive of it. We also have support from so many outside groups. I 
can't name them all, but I want to mention the National Parks 
Conservation Association. It has been terrific, as have the Pew 
Charitable Trusts and so many other groups. The Outdoor Industry 
Association and many more have endorsed it.
  Just yesterday, we had a hearing on this legislation in the Senate's 
Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks. It was 
chaired by Steve Daines from Montana, who is, by the way, one of the 
cosponsors of this legislation. Steve Daines is a guy with a personal 
passion for the parks in his having grown up in the shadow of 
Yellowstone National Park. We had experts and conservation groups at 
our hearing who all voiced their support for this legislation.
  The director of the Pew Charitable Trusts said it well:

       Supporting the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act is a wise 
     investment for a National Park System that has overwhelming 
     support from the American public, that generates hundreds of 
     thousands of jobs and billions of dollars for the economy 
     each year, that provides access to world class recreation 
     opportunities, and that preserve our nation's history.

  Well said.

[[Page S4938]]

  Deb Yandala, who is the CEO of the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley 
National Park and who is also the president of the national association 
of all of the friends' groups for the parks, said:

       Supporters of our national parks across the country are 
     thrilled with this bill. Addressing deferred maintenance will 
     greatly improve the visitor experience and go a long way 
     toward protecting important historic and natural resources in 
     our parks.

  This bill makes sense, and it will help make our national parks even 
better for the hundreds of millions of visitors every year who take in 
their beauty and their history. I urge the Senate Committee on Energy 
and Natural Resources to approve this bill quickly. I know that Senator 
Murkowski, as chair of that committee, is a strong supporter of our 
parks, and I know she will be supportive in our moving forward. It is 
the same with Maria Cantwell, the ranking member. Then I hope the full 
Senate will vote on this legislation soon--vote on it now--so that we 
can move forward quickly.
  We want to make the second 100 years of our national parks as 
magnificent and successful as the first 100 years have been. This bill 
is necessary in our being able to do that. I urge my colleagues to join 
me in supporting this legislation.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Thank you, Mr. President.
  I wish to commend my colleague from Ohio. The national parks mean so 
much to us in Alaska, and I am looking forward to getting on that bill 
as a cosponsor. It is a very important piece of legislation. Once 
again, Senator Portman is leading the way in the Senate on so many 

                              NATO Summit

  Mr. President, this afternoon, I want to say a few words about the 
President's visit to NATO and the NATO meeting we just had and talk 
about the importance of alliances and our allies. If you read the press 
accounts, I think you will see that this trip and the meeting of the 
President with all of the NATO leaders in Brussels was, overall, a good 
  There has been this commitment by NATO members since at least 2014--
but it really goes way earlier than 2014--for each country to spend 2 
percent or more of their GDP on defense spending so that we share the 
burden of defense.
  The United States has essentially always met this target--easily met 
this target--but a lot of other countries haven't. They have heard time 
and again from Presidents about this, and yet they have kind of ignored 
  The success of this trip is that it looks like for the first time in 
years, NATO countries are moving away from cuts in defense spending. 
Even in the United States, from 2010 to 2016, we were cutting our 
defense spending. Although it was way above 2 percent, we cut it by 
almost 25 percent. We saw a huge drop in readiness. We are changing 
that. Almost all of the NATO countries are starting to add billions of 
dollars to defense spending. I think the President deserves a lot of 
the credit for really pressing this issue. Other U.S. Presidents have 
pressed it, and the Europeans have kind of ignored it, and it seemed to 
go away. President Trump stayed focused on it, and we are starting to 
see a shift, and I think he deserves credit.
  The President also highlighted a big national security issue that is 
in Europe that doesn't get a lot of attention, but that should get a 
lot of attention, and that is the issue of energy, particularly natural 
gas and how Russia feeds a lot of Europe--particularly, in this case, 
Germany. That undermines energy security and national security in 
Europe and in NATO. It is a controversial topic. A lot of countries in 
Europe don't like the fact that Germany is spending so much to import 
Russian gas when NATO is actually focused on defending Europe against 
Russia. I think the President also did a good job highlighting this 
issue and how we need to focus on this.
  We are seeing some Europeans protesting the visit of our President, 
but I will state this--and you don't read about this a lot: There has 
been no Western leader who has done more to undermine Western interests 
and Western national security and European energy security than the 
former Chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schroeder. He was the Chancellor 
of the Federal Republic of Germany, and when he left office, what did 
he do? He immediately went to work for Gazprom and Vladimir Putin to 
sell natural gas to European countries, including his own government 
and his own country, Germany.
  To me, that represents a remarkable betrayal of Western values, NATO 
security, and European energy security. It doesn't get highlighted, 
but, for our German friends--and they are our good, close allies--it is 
one thing to protest our President, but take a look at your former 
Chancellor. He is doing more damage to the national security of Europe 
and the energy security of Germany and our allies than probably anybody 
else in Europe.
  The bottom line is this 2 percent GDP goal and this concern that we 
have with Russian energy going into European capitals. These have been 
bipartisan concerns of Democratic and Republican administrations of the 
United States for decades, and I think at this NATO summit we are 
starting to see some good progress.
  The President ended the NATO meeting by saying: The United States' 
commitment to NATO is very strong, remains very strong, and the spirit 
of countries willing to spend additional amounts of money is amazing to 
see. To see that level of spirit in the room of all the leaders is 
  That is what the President said today, and I think that was a good 
message with which to end this NATO leaders' summit in Brussels.
  I want to emphasize another point about our alliances and about NATO. 
It is also important to know that NATO is not just the sum of the 
amount of money that countries spend. That is important. There is no 
doubt about it. But this alliance, which many have viewed as the most 
successful military alliance in history, is a lot more than just money. 
At its heart, it is about common values. At its heart, it is about 
countries coming together to defend democracy. At its heart, it is 
about countries that have the same core national security interests.
  This is very important. At its heart, it is about shared sacrifice. 
There is shared sacrifice in the checkbook, yes, but it goes way beyond 
this. It is very important to remember article 5 of the NATO treaty, 
which is the treaty by which countries invoke the common defense. When 
you invoke article 5, that means that all of the other allies are 
coming to help you. All of the other allies are coming to defend you. 
Article 5 has been invoked in the NATO treaty, which was passed by this 
body in 1949, one time. It was invoked one time--one time. When was it 
invoked? After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
  Our NATO allies said: We are going to help defend America--that is 
really important--and they did. They did.
  Again, we talk too much about dollars, and I commend the President 
for what he has done, but let's talk about other shared sacrifice. The 
alliances we have around the world aren't just about money. Since 9/11, 
over 1,000 non-U.S. NATO troops have been killed in action in 
Afghanistan, coming to our defense after 9/11 and going after the 
terrorists who killed over 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Over 1,000 NATO 
soldiers--non-American NATO soldiers--have paid the ultimate sacrifice 
because of the alliance they have with the United States.
  You can't put a pricetag on that. You can't put a pricetag on that. 
Some sacrifices are more than just dollars. Some sacrifices can't be 
measured in dollars, and I think it is important for all of us here in 
the Senate, for the Trump administration, and for all Americans to 
remember that.
  I wish to thank the families of those over 1,000 NATO alliance 
soldiers who have been killed in action and the thousands and thousands 
more who have been wounded in Afghanistan, hunting down terrorists who 
killed our citizens. It is very important to remember that.
  The bottom line is this when it comes to one of the most important 
and enduring strategic advantages we have anywhere in the world: We are 
an ally-rich nation, and our adversaries--

[[Page S4939]]

such as Russia, North Korea, and Iran--and our potential adversaries--- 
such as China--are ally-poor. We are ally-rich. Countries trust us. 
Countries want to join alliances with the United States, and our 
adversaries and potential adversaries are ally-poor.
  That system of alliances has been built for over 70 years through the 
hard work of Democratic and Republicans Presidents, Secretaries of 
State and Defense, and U.S. Senators. It has been a joint collective 
  Here is something else that is important to know. Our adversaries and 
potential adversaries know that this is the most important strategic 
advantage we have over any other country, and that is why for years--
for decades--countries such as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea 
have tried to split up our alliances. We shouldn't let that happen. It 
is important to remember this as we continue to deal with these 
countries. I think this NATO summit sent a strong message that we are 
going to stand together for decades more to come.
  When it comes to alliances, this body, pursuant to the U.S. 
Constitution, plays a very important role. The alliances I have talked 
about--including, especially this week, NATO--came to the Senate for 
ratification. Again, it is important as we talk about national 
security, we talk about 2 percent, and we talk about burden sharing. 
Yes, we need that from our allies, but we also need to remember that 
our alliances go well beyond the checkbook--common values and shared 
sacrifice. Sometimes that is the most important issue to remember as we 
continue to deepen our alliances and expand them throughout the world, 
which is the best way to keep peace and prosperity, not just for us but 
for the entire world.

                   Tribute to Governor Bill Sheffield

  Mr. President, it is Thursday afternoon, and the new pages here will 
hopefully see that this certainly is one of my favorite moments in the 
Senate, and I know it is the Presiding Officer who gets to see the 
``Alaskan of the Week'' every week around this time. I guarantee the 
young men and women who are doing a great job as our pages are going to 
start to view this as their favorite time, too, because they get to 
hear about Alaska and great stories about Alaska. They get to hear 
about great and wonderful people in the great State of Alaska who are 
doing great things for their community, their State, and their country. 
We call that person our Alaskan of the week.
  From the onset, we have tried to focus, generally, on people who are 
unsung heroes in their communities--people who have worked diligently a 
lot of times without a lot of recognition. With my colleagues, I get to 
come and tell stories about what they have done for their community or 
State or even for their country. At other times, we recognize someone 
in our State who has made the headlines, someone whose contributions 
are well known through all parts of the State. We just do that because 
we want to reemphasize it, because it is important.
  Today we are going to recognize one of those people who is well known 
in Alaska but whom we think is worthy certainly of the title of Alaskan 
of the week because of all he has done. His name is Bill Sheffield. He 
was our State's Governor in 1982, and he has spent his adult life 
making Alaska a better place for all of us.
  Governor Sheffield's story in Alaska embodies what many of us love 
about our great State. It doesn't matter where you come from or your 
social status, in Alaska, if you have grit, tenacity, determination, 
and a servant's heart, nothing can hold you back.
  Governor Sheffield was born in 1928 in Spokane, Washington. When the 
Depression hit, his family had to grow and sell vegetables to survive. 
It was during this time that he saw firsthand how President Roosevelt's 
New Deal, passed by this body, helped people, including his father, who 
was struggling. The idea that government was there to help people 
stayed with him and turned him into a lifelong Democrat.
  He joined the Air Force and, after his release, joined Sears, Roebuck 
and Company. In 1952 he moved to the great State of Alaska to work for 
the company as it expanded throughout the State. He repaired 
televisions and appliances and took on sales roles, excelling both in 
repairs and sales. He did this all while suffering from a serious, 
difficult stutter, one he had carried with him throughout his 
childhood. He said that when he was a child, he simply couldn't or 
wouldn't talk. ``I had to point to pictures,'' he told one interviewer. 
But his stutter lent him tremendous empathy, and it also steeled his 
determination to work hard to overcome obstacles and succeed.

  And succeed he did. He got into the hotel business, eventually owning 
a chain of 19 hotels across Alaska, but he still wanted something more. 
He wanted to give back to his community. So, in 1982, as a long-shot 
politician, he ran for Governor. The long shot came in, and he won.
  He always understood, and still does, that infrastructure is the key 
to creating a path for economic growth in Alaska. We are a resource-
rich but infrastructure-poor State. The policies that he undertook as 
Governor and the projects that were built during his administration--
likely more infrastructure projects than any other Governor--still have 
a huge impact on our State today.
  Let me just mention a few of them.
  The largest zinc and lead mine literally in the world, the Red Dog 
mine in Northwest Alaska, was made possible by his hard work and that 
of countless other Alaskans.
  The Ketchikan Shipyard was built during the Sheffield administration.
  An aggressive road and construction program was undertaken throughout 
the State, particularly in the city of Anchorage.
  The Bradley Lake hydro project near Homer was built during his 
administration, along with several other hydro projects throughout 
Southeast Alaska.
  He traveled extensively throughout rural Alaska. He went to almost 
every single village in our State. We have over 200 that are not 
connected by roads, so that was hard to do. Almost every one was 
visited by our Governor.
  But his crowning achievement was the purchase of the Alaska Railroad. 
When he first became Governor, the Federal Government had owned the 
railroad and was threatening to shut it down, which would have been 
devastating to our State. There were no private buyers, so Governor 
Sheffield worked with the State legislature and the congressional 
delegation to buy the railroad from the Federal Government. Then they 
created a State-owned corporation designed to be operated like a 
private business, and that railroad, the Alaska Railroad, still serves 
as a critical transportation link for goods and people throughout 
Alaska. Since his time in office, Governor Sheffield has continued his 
ties to the railroad as CEO and chairman of the board.
  He has also continued to serve in other public service capacities, 
such as the port director in Anchorage, and he has contributed to 
numerous causes and served on many charitable boards, like the Alaska 
Community Foundation board, and has received countless awards and 
recognition for his public service.
  But what really makes Governor Sheffield so special to so many is 
that he is just a kind, warm person. He is always lending a hand to 
others. He is always there for many when he is needed. He does this 
without regard for political affiliation. His house is always full of 
Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians. Last year, I was at a great 
event at his house, where he honored the Coast Guard Foundation. Many 
members, both current and past, from both sides of the political 
aisle--including from this body--have eaten wonderful dinners in his 
home, including my good friend Senator John McCain, who had dinner in 
Governor Sheffield's house with Senator Hillary Clinton. That is 
bipartisanship. When he opens his doors to his beautiful home, all are 
  Governor Sheffield recently celebrated his 90th birthday with a party 
in Anchorage. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend, but I heard it 
was one for the ages. Hundreds of people showed up. People from all 
walks of life and all political affiliations were there, all of them 
sharing deep affection for one of our State's giants, a man with a huge 
heart, who has made life better for countless Alaskans.
  Governor Sheffield, from the Senate, happy 90th birthday. Thanks for 
your great service to our great State and all you have done. 
Congratulations on being our Alaskan of the Week.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.

[[Page S4940]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

      Upcoming Meeting Between President Trump and President Putin

  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, if you are like me, a Member of the Senate 
in the hallways this week, I think the two questions that have come up 
over and over again were about the NATO meeting that just transpired in 
the last couple of days and the upcoming meeting on Monday between 
Vladimir Putin and President Trump.
  I had intended to come to the floor and speak about policies toward 
China on trade. There is a lot to cover.
  There was an article this morning in the Associated Press about how 
the Chinese Government has turned the American business class into 
lobbyists. They are basically telling these guys that are doing 
business in China: You should go back to Washington and lobby your 
government to stop imposing tariffs on us or you guys are going to pay 
a price. But I will have time to talk about that next week. That was 
really my intent.
  I want to focus on the meeting on Monday between President Trump and 
Vladimir Putin because there is a lot of hyperbole. Someone came up and 
asked: Are you concerned that the President will meet one-on-one with 
Vladimir Putin and nobody else in the room?
  I said: First of all, I guarantee someone else will be in the room 
because Putin doesn't speak English and President Trump doesn't speak 
Russian. It will not be a productive meeting if one or two other people 
aren't there. That should be the least we should focus on.
  We should take this stuff seriously. It is an important and serious 
meeting. I don't take a back seat to anyone in terms of being clear-
eyed about Vladimir Putin, and I want to talk about that today a little 
  I want to start out by saying: Let's all take a deep breath and be 
reasonable. It is not unusual for the President of the United States to 
meet with the President of Russia because, of the 16,000 nuclear 
weapons on this planet, 90 percent of them are possessed by these two 
countries--almost equally divided. This is the reason other Presidents 
have met with President Putin or whoever the leader is of the Russian 
Federation. And that is why those meetings are important and will 
  That said, it is important--when we analyze these meetings, what we 
hope they are about, and what we hope they will produce--to understand 
not just who you are meeting with and what they do but to understand 
why they are doing it. If you do not understand what the other side 
wants and what motivates them, then the meetings are not nearly as 
productive, and neither is our analysis or the suggestions we make 
about our policy toward that country.
  First is understanding Vladimir Putin. I have never met the man. I 
don't think you need to meet him to believe a couple of things about 
him. First, is he is a very suspicious human being himself--suspicious 
of others. I think his KGB background has probably influenced that. He 
also grew up in the Cold War in Russia in the Soviet Union when 
Russians didn't even trust each other.
  Imagine growing up in a society where people spy on each other, and 
you don't know, if you say something to your friend in school, if he 
will report you to the authorities--not to mention the authorities 
themselves looking at you all of the time. Then imagine actually being 
a product of their intelligence services.
  I think when you grow up in that era, in a place like that, you are 
naturally going to be suspicious of other people, and you are going to 
ascribe to them attributes. So that is the first thing.
  By the way, I think that also informs his view of the United States. 
It is impossible, I believe, for someone like this to grow up in that 
era, in that place, working where he did, and not have deep suspicions 
and views--negative views--about the United States and the West at-
  The second thing that is pretty apparent just by watching him, is 
this guy is competitive. He views everything as a personal thing. 
Personal-level dominance is important to him, but, more importantly, 
his relationship with the United States is a competitive one. I think, 
by and large, he views the world as a zero-sum game, but he most 
certainly views the relationship between the United States and Russia 
as a zero-sum game--meaning that in any sort of interaction we are 
having with Vladimir Putin, there is no scenario in which he envisions 
that we both do well. He believes there is only so much success in the 
world, and the more we have of it, the less he has of it. I do believe 
it informs all the decisions he makes. There can be only one winner.
  I think he is also deeply driven by his personal image. I will tell 
you that he probably wouldn't last 2 weeks in American politics where 
people are habitually mocked, and if you run for public office or you 
are a public figure--whether it is social media or the like--everyone 
gets ridiculed, mocked, and attacked. I am not sure he could ever put 
up with that sort of scrutiny. He is probably sensitive about it.
  The one thing you can tell by watching him is that this is a person 
who works very hard to control his emotions. He never wants to look 
angry. He never wants to look as though he is afraid of something or 
worried about anything. He never wants to look as though he is in doubt 
about anything. He is very image-driven, and that drives a lot about 
how he controls his emotions.
  But the other thing that I think is common sense is, if you grew up 
as a spy in the KGB, you know how valuable personal information is and 
how personal information about you can be weaponized. So that is why we 
know very little about him as a person--his personal life, his health, 
or any of these things. You would never know about it other than what 
he allows us to see--photos of him on a horse without his shirt on or 
whatever else he wants to show us that day--because he wants to control 
the personal information that is available.
  He also wants to be able to control how his image is portrayed. The 
image he wants to portray is twofold. No. 1, he wants an image that 
portrays Vladimir Putin as an important world leader, an indispensable 
world leader; he is the guy that matters, and in every major crisis on 
this planet, he is a person whose opinion, views, and positions have to 
be taken into account. That drives a lot of the decisions he makes. It 
is the reason they are in Libya right now. It is the reason they are in 
Afghanistan right now. It is the reason he is trying to figure out how 
he can finagle his way into the talks with North Korea. It is because 
he wants to be an indispensable world leader, and there should not be 
any major discussion on the planet that he is not in the middle of. So 
oftentimes he injects himself into these things for that reason.
  That is tied to his second end goal, and that is the one that drives 
most of what he does. He wants to restore Russia as a great world 
power, equal to the United States of America. He cannot do that 
economically. The Russian economy's GDP is $2 trillion, which makes it 
roughly the size of some of our States here in the United States and 
also roughly the size of Italy, Spain, and other countries. So he is 
not an economic superpower; therefore, he can only be an asymmetrical 
superpower, meaning the use of things that are not traditional, such as 
cyber warfare, his role on the security council, and the military--the 
ability to project power and to threaten with nuclear weapons and also 
with their conventional capabilities to invade neighboring countries or 
to intervene in places like Syria.
  Ultimately, what drives him most of all--in addition to being, 
personally, an indispensable leader--is that he wants Russia and the 
United States to be viewed as equal powers on the world stage.
  I think it is pretty clear from what he has said publicly that he 
views the 1990s as an era of humiliation for Russia. He looks at the 
end of the Cold War until the time he took over just in the last few 
years, and he sees that Russia was weak and America was strong, and we 
were preying on a weak Russia.
  By the way, that is probably how he views the world. He views the 
world as a zero-sum game, a place where the weak are preyed on by the 
strong. Therefore, they must be strong, and they must be seen as equal 
to us.

[[Page S4941]]

  Understanding all of that and any interaction with him is critical to 
having a positive, productive, or, at a minimum, not damaging 
interaction. If we go in with any illusions that this is, somehow, 
someone who, if we just get along with him better or if we work on some 
things together, then he is going to change behavior and be less 
problematic, that is a fool's errand. At the end of the day, if you 
believe the world is a zero-sum game and if you believe that the 
competition between the United States and Russia is one in which every 
time we win, they lose, and vice versa, then it is going to be very 
hard to find areas of interest that we can truly work on for the mutual 
benefit of both countries.
  That does not mean that you are unnecessarily antagonistic. The 
bottom line is that the United States is both economically, militarily, 
and diplomatically superior to the Russian Federation Government in 
terms of our influence and our ability to do things in the world. When 
you are stronger--not an image, necessarily, but in reality--it should 
give you a level of security to be able to figure out ways in which we 
can work on things that are good for our country but also not lose the 
wisdom of understanding that you can often fall into traps. What we do 
not want is to fall into traps.
  By the way, on this whole point of strong versus weak, I know a 
number of my colleagues had the opportunity to travel to Moscow during 
the last recess. It is interesting how it was covered in the American 
media--how they portrayed the visit--and how the Russian media 
portrayed it. I know many of them are frustrated by this. The Russian 
media basically portrayed them--again, it is state-controlled media, so 
they are going to portray it any way they want. But they almost made it 
look as though weaklings from America had gone over there. They were 
very frustrated by this. It just tells you--it gives you insight into 
the way they view things in the world. That is why you will very rarely 
see an interaction that they couch as a meeting that is respectful. 
They always want to put Putin in a dominant position, and they always 
want to put Russia in a dominant position.
  By the way, one of the tactics Putin uses to accomplish this is 
before meetings even happen, he announces ahead of time that a deal has 
been struck, almost as if to trap you into the deal. Obviously, since 
he is announcing the deal, it sounds as if it is something he came up 
  All of these are interesting points, but where do these conversations 
lead us? There are a few things I think we need to keep in mind. The 
first is invitations to work together. They will probably happen, and 
he will probably announce them before the visit. One, he will say: Why 
don't we work together on counterterrorism? A lot of people would say: 
Well, that makes a lot of sense. They don't like the terrorists; we 
don't like the terrorists. So why can't we work with Putin to go after 
the terrorists?
  Ideally, the answer would be: Yes, we have strong disagreements about 
a lot of things. Whether it is an ISIS element or an al-Qaida element, 
if we have a chance to work together on it, then we should pursue it.
  There is a problem, though, and this what I hope everyone is clear-
eyed about. They are not very good counterterrorism partners. To begin 
with, their capabilities are just not very good. We have seen that in 
Syria. They are not targeting terrorists. They are bombing schools and 
hospitals, and they are--not only have they committed war crimes, but 
they have assisted Assad in committing war crimes.
  If you were going after terrorists, you would go to the places where 
the terrorists are. For much of that conflict, they have largely spent 
their time going after nonterrorist rebels--or at least non-al-Qaida, 
non-ISIS rebels. They are going after those rebels instead. So they are 
not very good at counterterrorism. They are not very capable.
  The other thing is they use that as an opportunity to spy on us. When 
you are cooperating together militarily, you are embedded alongside 
each other and sharing information, so that gives you a lot of 
opportunity to spy on the people you are working with. We need to be 
wary of that.
  Any effort to work together on counterterrorism has to be real. It 
has to be truly about terrorists, and it has to protect the United 
States and our information.
  The second thing they love to talk about is: Well, why don't we work 
together on arms control? There are two problems with arms control. It 
sounds good on paper. The first is they cheat and they violate it. They 
deny it, but they violate it. The other is that they are for arms 
control as long as the arms that are being controlled are the ones we 
have more of or as long as the arms that are being controlled are the 
ones we are technologically superior in. They seek to use that as an 
  It is difficult because if you go out and you talk to people and say 
``Hey, the Russians want to work together on arms control,'' everyone 
says ``Well, that is a great idea.''
  I understand. It sounds very good on paper, but the reality of arms 
control is something very different. It means this: We are going to 
look for opportunities to cheat on our end, and we are going to try to 
strictly enforce it on your end.
  Remember, it is a zero-sum game. If they enter into a 
counterterrorism relationship with us, it will be one in which they win 
and we lose because Vladimir Putin does not foresee a cooperative 
agreement with anyone, especially the country he is in direct 
competition with.
  If it is an arms reduction agreement, remember, it is a zero-sum 
game. He is motivated by the desire to win at our expense, and he will 
use arms control as an opportunity to do that if he can structure it 
  The other thing we hear him talk about is cyber. People chuckle about 
that. Imagine a cyber deal with the Russian Federation under Vladimir 
Putin. But, again, Vladimir Putin knows that the U.S. private sector 
and government have cyber capabilities that are superior to his. So if 
he could come up with some sort of cyber agreement that would create 
rules which take away our advantage but allow him to continue to cheat 
and deny they are cheating--zero-sum game--he would be able to jump on 
top of us. These are things we want to keep an eye on.
  The other thing to keep an eye on moving forward in this relationship 
is the unexpected. One of the things you have seen in his behavior and 
the zero-sum game sort of analysis of our relationship with them is 
that any time he sees an opportunity to do something because we are 
distracted or because the world may not act, he takes advantage of it: 
2007 in Georgia; 2013 and 2014 in Ukraine. We could see the Ukrainian 
hostilities resume. The world is focused on North Korea. We are focused 
on the arguments regarding NATO. We are focused on the trade situation 
with China, Canada, Mexico, and everyone else. Everyone is talking 
about something different, and Ukraine is falling off the headlines.
  You could wake up one morning and all of a sudden realize that 
hostilities have resumed or maybe it will be a massive cyber attack. 
Maybe it will be ramping up their involvement in places such as Libya 
or Afghanistan or one morning we will wake up and realize they have 
deployed significant military assets to one of those two countries--or 
both, for that matter.
  It would be very reminiscent of what we saw him do in Syria, when he 
saw the--and the excuses would be: The Russians were already there. We 
are working with the government. They have invited us to come in and 
bring more people to help them. You would have to foresee that.
  The one thing I think we should anticipate Putin will push very 
strongly on is to get the United States to completely pull out of 
Syria. What he ideally, probably, wants is some sort of ``international 
process'' to resolve it but an international process in which Russia 
not only is a key player, but they get to stay in Syria; they get to 
keep their naval base; they get to keep their air assets; they get to 
keep a unified government in Syria that is friendly to them, all 
supervised by the international community. But the United States has to 
leave first.
  He would love nothing more than an opportunity to set up that sort of 
scenario because in a zero-sum game situation, he foresees a world in 
the next 5 years in which Russia has significant

[[Page S4942]]

military and other assets in Syria permanently, potentially in Iraq, 
Afghanistan, and Libya, and all of a sudden, the countries in the 
Middle East are saying to themselves: You know, Russia's Vladimir Putin 
is a guy who can be an interlocutor, a mediator of the disputes in this 
region. This is a person we should be working with. This is a person 
who actually is more reliable to work with in the Middle East. He would 
love nothing more than that, and he would be able to do it without 
committing 100,000 troops or 50,000 troops or a large loss of Russian 
personnel. It is a zero-sum game, great power politics, the notion that 
he wants to be equal to the United States.
  Imagine if he could create a scenario in which--if he hasn't done so 
already--Russia and the Middle East, under Vladimir Putin, are at least 
as important as, if not potentially more important than, the United 
States, a situation in which they have permanent military assets and a 
friendly regime in Syria, potentially in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and 
other places, and the United States is pulling out of Syria, being 
forced to reduce its presence in Iraq and in other places. They become 
de facto more important in the Middle East, and he takes one step 
toward achieving the goal of reaching parity with the United States of 
America as far as being an influential global power.
  By the way, these efforts to increase their influence would not be 
limited just to the Middle East. You could foresee them doing this in 
the Western Hemisphere. I read an article a few days ago. It was a big 
fanfare. They opened up what they call a counterdrug school in 
Nicaragua. I can only tell you that while it may very well be called a 
counterdrug school, anytime a country welcomes an unlimited number of 
Russian military personnel and others, they are welcoming in spies and 
influence agents and the ability to project power. They have long 
wanted permanent--or at least semipermanent--basing opportunities in 
the Western Hemisphere like those they had during the Cold War.
  They already have intelligence facilities. They already have a 
presence in Cuba. They would love nothing more than to get into a place 
or to expand their presence in a place like Nicaragua and even 
potentially Venezuela, for that matter. We need to keep an eye on all 
of these things.
  This is an important conversation, but it oftentimes gets lost in all 
of the rhetoric that is going on around the elections and American 
politics. We have to understand very clearly that we are not dealing 
with Belgium here. We are dealing with Vladimir Putin, who has used the 
world as a zero-sum game, the strong versus the weak, and who is trying 
to position Russia and himself as the strong versus others whom he 
hopes he can weaken.
  There is no interaction between us and them in which he does not want 
to come out ahead. He does not feel there is such a thing as a mutually 
good deal. The only good deals for him are deals in which they win and 
whomever he is dealing with loses, especially if it is the United 
  I will wrap up by saying that, with all of this in mind, I would not 
diminish the threat that Russia continues to pose to our electoral 
system, to our society, and to our politics. The No. 1 objective of 
Russian efforts in 2016--and it would be their No. 1 objective moving 
forward--is encouraging infighting in our politics. They have a clear 
understanding of American politics and its nuances--our societal 
divisions, the things we like to fight over, how we fight over them, 
and where we fight over them, and they have figured out and have gotten 
even better at being able to drive those narratives.
  When people ask ``What was the real goal of those efforts in 2016?'' 
beyond anything else, it was not electing one person or another. His 
No. 1 objective--No. 1 objective--was to leave a country, the United 
States, deeply divided, at each other's throats, constantly fighting. 
No matter who won that election, that is the result he wanted, and that 
was the result we were going to get. Those efforts continue.
  The second effort that I think they have as a priority, by the way, 
is to create pro-Russia constituencies in the United States. What I 
mean by that is there are people in American politics who actually take 
the Russian side or the Putin side of a debate. You have already seen 
the early phases of that in some places. It is still a minority thought 
process, but it is not unusual in many cases these days because it has 
gotten wrapped up in other things that are going on.
  It is not outside the realm of the possible that you could see the 
growth of some pro-Putin element. It is maybe not like what you see in 
Europe or in Russian-speaking parts of Europe--but some pro-Russian 
types of constituencies in the United States. Whether that is somehow 
wrapped up around partisanship or the like, these remain their goals. 
Remember what I told you earlier. They cannot compete with us 
economically, but if they can divide us from within, it weakens us, at 
least in his mind. It is one of the things he can point to and say: 
Look how weak America is. All they do is fight with each other. Their 
democracy is a fraud, and look how strong we are because there is no 
dissent, there is no infighting going on in my Russia.

  Obviously, what he doesn't tell you is that whoever fights against 
him winds up dead or in jail and that there is no press by which people 
can fight with him anyway. So these are the things to keep in mind as 
we move forward because the tools that remain at his disposal are still 
very significant. For example, I could foresee the time or day where--a 
lot of times there is a lot of focus in America about what if they go 
into the ballot box and change the votes. That is probably much harder 
to do because of the way we conduct elections in this country--so 
  Here is what a cyber actor could do. They could change party 
registration. They could go into the database and suddenly erase a 
bunch of voters. Imagine if they do so by being able to use analyticals 
to identify here are the people in this town who we think are likely to 
vote for this candidate or that candidate. We are going to knock out a 
bunch of them so that on election day, a bunch of people who support 
certain candidates go vote, and they are told they are not registered. 
If you get enough people to do that and enough of those people complain 
to the press, we are going to see stories saying: Guess what. 
Supporters of candidate X or Y were not allowed to vote in the 
election. Fraud. Democracy is dead. We could foresee that at some point 
in the future. It is a real threat.
  We could see Vladimir Putin taking the next step and doing here what 
he has done in parts of Europe; that is, creating an enemies list, 
politicians he believes are anti-Russia and targeting those 
individuals, targeting them with information he steals by hacking their 
emails, disclosing documents, even doctoring fake documents; perhaps 
doing something like deepfake, which is something we will be talking a 
lot about next week. That basically is off-the-shelf technology you can 
buy right now where you can produce a video that without the proper 
technology, you could not tell it is fake, where a person is saying 
something they never said or is doing something they didn't do--a 
doctored video that looks real. Imagine that, on the eve of an 
election, a video pops up online--and the media starts to report it--of 
a candidate saying something offensive they never said or taking a 
bribe because of a doctored video that looks real, and unless you are a 
technical expert, you can't tell. It is called a deepfake. They are not 
that hard to make, and they are not that hard to make for someone with 
off-the-shelf technology.
  Imagine if a nation state decides to use it. You could foresee them 
targeting specifics races.
  They have, as I said, a pretty good understanding of American 
politics. You could foresee where they would say: There is a 
congressional race or a Governor's race or a Senate race somewhere in 
the country that is going to be a really big deal. It has an outsized 
influence on American politics, and that is the race we are going to 
interfere in. We are going to do something to impact the outcome of it 
because we think that will further our narrative one way or the other.
  We have to be clear-eyed on all of these things as we go into this.
  I would say, perhaps, the greatest goal Vladimir Putin would have in 
the short term is weakening NATO, not just limiting its expansion but 
weakening its resolve. NATO, at the end of the day, beyond military 

[[Page S4943]]

that is a part of it, is no better than the true commitment of a nation 
to a member of NATO to live up to the organizing documents and 
commitments we make to one another; meaning that we have a commitment, 
along with our partners in NATO, that if one of us is attacked, we have 
all been attacked. That has only been invoked one time in its history, 
and that was after September 11, 2001.
  If he somehow could not just keep us from expanding NATO but begin to 
undermine it from within, it would be an enormous victory because, 
again, for him, it would be a sign that America is diminishing, that 
the threats against him are diminishing, and his influence and Russia's 
role in the world has increased.
  So this is an important meeting. It probably will not be the last 
time they meet, but more important than the meeting are the issues at 
play between the leader in Russia who views everything as a zero-sum 
game, in which either he wins or America wins, but it can't be mutually 
  We have to deal with him. He possesses a significant percentage of 
the world's nuclear weapons. Between the United States and Russia, we 
have 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons in these two countries. 
We do have to talk to him, but we need to be very clear-eyed; that is, 
that it is a complicated but important relationship, and we should 
clearly understand what motivates him and what motivates his decision 
making and what their ultimate goals are in any conversation we have.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.