RAPID DNA ACT OF 2017--Continued
(Senate - January 17, 2018)

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[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 10 (Wednesday, January 17, 2018)]
[Pages S225-S247]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                    RAPID DNA ACT OF 2017--Continued

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I and the Acting President pro tempore 
have been on the Select Intelligence Committee for a considerable 
period of time--I much longer than he. However, I think we are both 
well experienced with the subject, and I would like to make a few 
comments on section 702. For 6 years, I was chairman of the committee, 
and the ranking member for 2 years. What I came to see is that, in my 
view, there was no more significant content collection program than 
section 702, and I want to give a couple of examples and explain why I 
think it is so important that 702 be reauthorized.
  A little more than a year ago, on December 31 of last year, 
approximately 500 people gathered in a popular Turkish nightclub on the 
banks of the Bosphorus to celebrate New Year's Eve. Tragically, shortly 
after midnight, a gunman entered that club and opened fire, killing 39 
innocent civilians and wounding 69 others. At least 16 of those killed 
were foreign nationals, including an American who was shot in the hip. 
Many people inside reportedly jumped into the water in an attempt to 
protect themselves from the gunfire. After committing this act, the 
gunman changed his clothes and fled the scene.
  Almost immediately, Turkish law enforcement and American intelligence 
officials began cooperation to identify and locate the shooter. Part of 
that effort included intelligence collection under section 702 of the 
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The information derived from the 
702 collection ultimately led the police to an apartment in the 
Esenyurt district neighborhood of Istanbul. There, law enforcement 
arrested an Uzbek national, named Abdulkadir Masharipov, at a friend's 
apartment, along with firearms, ammunition, drones, and over $200,000 
in cash.
  Thanks to the work of Turkish and American law enforcement and 
intelligence agencies, just 16 days after this horrific attack, police 
had the prime suspect in custody. Mr. Masharipov is currently awaiting 
trial in Turkey.
  Section 702 of FISA is the most important foreign content collection 
program that we have. It allows the government to quickly and 
efficiently collect phone call and email content from non-U.S. persons 
who are located outside of the United States. Information collected 
under section 702 informs nearly every component of our Nation's 
national security and foreign policy.
  Section 702 was used by the CIA to alert a partner nation to the 
presence of an al-Qaida operative who was turning into a cooperating 
source. Section 702 was used to intercept al-Qaida communications about 
a U.S. person seeking instructions on how to make explosives in the 
United States. It was also used to understand proliferation networks 
used by adversary nations to evade sanctions, including military 
communications equipment.
  In 2014 the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, or what we 
call PCLOB, reported: ``Over a quarter of the NSA's reports concerning 
international terrorism include information based in whole or in part 
on section 702 collection, and this percentage has increased every year 
since the statute was enacted.''
  The law expressly prohibits the targeting of U.S. persons or the 
targeting of persons located in the United States. Section 702 is a 
foreign content collection program.
  I also believe it is equally important that reauthorization include 
reforms to ensure that the program continues to operate consistently 
with the statute's original intent and our Constitution.
  Perhaps the most important among these reforms is the issue of U.S. 
person queries. U.S. person queries refer to the process by which the 
government searches the 702 database for the content of U.S. persons' 
  U.S. persons cannot be targeted under section 702, but they can be 
collected incidentally if the individual is communicating with a non-
U.S. person who is located overseas and is targeted under section 702. 
If an American's communications are collected incidentally, they are 
added to the 702 database. The government can later search, or query, 
that database for any American and gain access to the contents of any 
phone calls or emails that may have been swept up in the section 702 
collection. Each of these queries results in the government's accessing 
the contents of a U.S. person's communications without ever going 
before a judge or securing a warrant.
  The Fourth Amendment requires the government to obtain a warrant 
based on probable cause before accessing those communications, and the 
Supreme Court has been clear: Americans have a right to privacy in the 
content of their phone calls and emails. The same standard should apply 
to communications incidentally collected under section 702.
  During the Senate Intelligence Committee's markup of section 702, I 
offered an amendment with my colleague from California, Senator Harris, 
that would require the government to obtain a warrant from the Foreign 
Intelligence Surveillance Court prior to accessing the content of any 
U.S. person's communications collected under section 702. 
Unfortunately, our amendment did not succeed in the committee.

[[Page S226]]

  I have also filed our warrant requirement as a floor amendment to the 
bill that is currently under consideration. This amendment has been 
cosponsored again by Senator Harris as well as by Senators Leahy and 
Lee. I really do believe that a warrant requirement will eventually be 
important as people become more concerned with the need to reform some 
of these longstanding provisions.
  The House-passed bill that is currently before us has a number of 
positive reforms. First, it does have limited warrant authority that 
would require the FBI to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Court prior to accessing the contents of the U.S. person's 
communications that are associated with a query that was not related to 
foreign intelligence or national security. The warrant provision in 
this bill is not as strong as the one I offered in committee, but it 
was the result of a bipartisan compromise in the House, and I do 
believe it is a step in the right direction.
  The House bill also includes other important reforms. It establishes 
a required congressional review process before the government is 
permitted to restart ``abouts'' collection. It requires the DNI to 
declassify minimization procedures. It provides greater flexibility to 
the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to meet and hire staff. 
It also directs the inspector general to assess the FBI's section 702 
practices so that we can continue to provide oversight for that 
  In conclusion, section 702, by its numbers and by its covering, is 
our Nation's most important foreign content collection authority. I 
would like to see more reforms to this program, and perhaps that is 
something that those of us on the Select Intelligence Committee can 
strive for. I believe this is the best we are going to do at this time, 
and I look forward to supporting its passage.
  I thank the Acting President pro tempore.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant 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 ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, last week, the House voted to reauthorize 
for a period of 6 years section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Act--a vital tool in tracking foreign terrorists abroad. 
Last night, we had a very important vote in this Chamber, a cloture 
vote, which will allow us to proceed to a final vote on this 
legislation perhaps as early as tomorrow morning.
  Congress enacted section 702 in 2008 in direct response to the 
enduring threats to the country being posed by radical Islamic 
extremism and the ever-expanding use of the internet and social media 
by terrorists and foreign operatives. The law authorizes the Attorney 
General of the United States and the Director of National Intelligence 
to conduct surveillance on foreigners who are outside of the United 
States so that the U.S. Government can effectively acquire that 
intelligence information. As the Director of National Intelligence and 
many others have stated--former FBI Director James Comey is another 
one--section 702 is the crown jewel of our foreign intelligence 
collection and a critical weapon in the defense of our Nation.
  The law expires this Friday--that is right, just 2 days from now--so 
the clock is ticking. I am glad the Senate took the first step last 
evening, and I trust my colleagues will soon make sure the law is 
reauthorized so that the U.S. Government can continue to collect 
information that is vital to the protection of the Nation.
  Because the law requires targets of section 702 to be foreign 
citizens outside the United States, those targets are not covered by 
the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Clearly, people who are 
inside the country, American citizens, are all protected by the Fourth 
Amendment, but not foreigners, under Supreme Court precedent. Because 
of that, the government isn't required to obtain a warrant before 
initiating surveillance. That is where the misconceptions and confusion 
start to arise, and I want to talk a little bit more about that.
  Despite the strong bipartisan vote in support of section 702 in the 
House of Representatives last week and the strong bipartisan support 
for the provision here in the Senate, some critics want to delay 
reauthorization and engage in a never-ending lamentation about the 
demise of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment, of course, is a 
guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures. Again, that 
applies to American citizens, not to foreigners abroad. But these 
critics have mischaracterized the aims of the many Republican and 
Democratic proponents of this law, and frankly their concerns are 
misplaced. They ignore the enduring value and core protections in 
section 702 and the merits of various pro-privacy reforms in the House 
bill. As I said, it is truly a bipartisan bill.
  Critics have expressed three concerns, and I want to address each in 
  The first is that under 702, ``millions of bits of information are 
collected on Americans,'' not just foreigners, and that ``[w]e don't 
know the exact amount.''
  What they are referring to, of course, is what the intelligence 
community calls ``incidental collection''--when intelligence officials 
monitor the communications of foreign terrorists and the information of 
any Americans who are in communication with those terrorists sometimes 
gets included in the mix. But, of course, if even an American is 
talking to a foreign terrorist, certainly the intelligence community 
would want to know that.
  There are additional protections for U.S. persons who are 
incidentally collected based on a target of a foreign national. All of 
this would be a legitimate worry were it not for the fact that there 
are safeguards built into the statute that ensure that no more American 
communications are collected than are necessary to safely monitor 
foreigners with suspected terrorist ties. For example, section 702 
already explicitly prohibits the U.S. Government from intentionally 
targeting a foreign person ``if the [real] purpose . . . is to target a 
particular, known person . . . in the United States.'' That is illegal. 
There are also so-called ``minimization'' procedures that limit the 
dissemination and use of information acquired and scrupulous practices 
at our intelligence agencies--the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI--on how 
that information is dealt with in order to protect U.S. persons.
  Under the bill, several additional features should be acknowledged.
  The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court must review the FBI's so-
called ``querying'' procedures and certify that they are consistent 
with the Fourth Amendment.
  I know of no government program that has as much oversight and 
protection for the privacy rights of American citizens as the Foreign 
Intelligence Surveillance Act. It is actually supervised by all three 
branches of government--by the executive branch internally; by the 
judicial branch through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and 
other courts, which decided that there is no constitutional violation 
in any of the procedures laid down in the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Act; and, of course, the oversight we conduct here in the 
Senate and in the House on the Senate and House Intelligence 
  To make sure all of this is scrupulously adhered to, a record must be 
kept of each U.S. person query term used. And far from ignoring 
Americans' privacy concerns related to incidental collection, the bill 
requires that the intelligence community hire and employ civil 
liberties officers--people whose explicit job is to look out for our 
privacy rights.
  In sum, those who would misleadingly paint the intelligence community 
as renegade--as deliberately surveilling millions of Americans with no 
checks in place--are simply wrong about the facts of this bill and the 
layered protections that have been put in place.
  Let me reiterate. The intelligence community is expressly prohibited 
from targeting Americans under section 702, directly or incidentally. 
In fact, the only Americans who might be worried about their 

[[Page S227]]

being swept up under section 702 are those who are deliberately 
communicating with foreign terrorists. But all Americans will benefit 
from a host of additional protections under the law.
  The critics' second and related concern is that incidental collection 
can be used in domestic criminal prosecutions. They are concerned that 
the U.S. Government could collect information without ever having to 
obtain a warrant and then use it to investigate and punish Americans 
for crimes.
  Again, this fear is misplaced under this bill. It is mitigated by 
analysis done by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board in 
2014, who, after a comprehensive review, found no evidence of 
intentional abuse. Concerns of the critics are also mitigated by the 
FBI, which under this bill has to obtain a court order before it can 
access the contents of 702 communications in support of a purely 
criminal investigation, as opposed to an intelligence-gathering 
activity. It is also mitigated by the fact that section 702 
intelligence can be used as evidence against Americans only in 
instances of the most serious crimes. Apart from obtaining a court 
order, it can only be used if the Attorney General determines that the 
criminal proceeding involves national security or other heinous crimes, 
such as murder, kidnapping, or crimes against children.

  The critics' preferred approach--and they introduced bills to this 
effect last year--would prohibit the government from using any 702 
collection to investigate these dangerous, violent crimes, and 
therefore it would potentially protect dangerous criminals engaged in 
some of the most egregious behavior imaginable--something I think we 
would not want to do.
  That brings us to the skeptics' third problem, which deals with 
oversight. They fear that the reauthorization of this legislation could 
spell the end of congressional monitoring of the program. They have 
chastised this possibility as one that is ``callous in its disregard 
for our cherished Bill of Rights.''
  They are entirely correct to insist, in light of recent events, that 
Congress should continue to engage in rigorous oversight of the 
intelligence community and make sure that our surveillance tools aren't 
used for political ends. But we already have oversight in spades, and 
under this bill, we will have even more.
  First of all, the House bill reauthorizes the program for only 6 
years--not indefinitely. At the end of 2023, we will revisit section 
702. In the meantime, existing and extensive oversight of section 702 
will continue. As I mentioned, for example, there is judicial review. 
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court annually reviews section 
702, and other courts have examined the use of section 702 in support 
of criminal cases. All agree that section 702 does not violate the 
Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Even the Ninth Circuit, 
which is frequently out of line with other circuits and the Supreme 
Court, agrees that section 702 is constitutional.
  Courts, of course, are not the only oversight mechanism; there are 
ones within the executive branch, which I alluded to earlier, including 
routine reviews by the Department of Justice and the Office of the 
Director of National Intelligence. Of course, congressional committees, 
such as the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee, 
both of which I serve on, also receive regular reporting on the 702 
program and hold open and closed hearings on the subject.
  Ultimately, the approaches that are preferred by the 702 critics 
would force the FBI to rebuild the wall between criminal and national 
security investigators that existed before the attacks in New York on 
9/11 and would cause the FBI to stovepipe its section 702 collection, 
contrary to the recommendations of numerous commissions, including the 
9/11 Commission and the Fort Hood Commission. We need to remember that 
the FBI protects our national security both as an intelligence agency 
and as a law enforcement agency. In other words, it wears two hats. So 
we can't wall off the FBI from the content of crucial communications, 
and we can't wall off the FBI from intelligence agencies, such as the 
National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency. That was 
the situation the FBI was in leading up to September 11, 2001.
  We can't forget the increasingly dangerous world we are living in and 
the diverse array of threats that confront us. FBI Director Chris Wray 
has summarized our threat landscape. It is one that includes not only 
large mass-casualty events like 9/11 in the United States and similar 
recent attacks in Europe but also more isolated and diffuse lone-wolf 
and homegrown violent extremist threats that give law enforcement and 
national security investigators much less time to detect and disrupt. 
Imposing additional obstacles to accessing this critical information 
could either delay us when time is of the essence or, worse, prevent us 
from being able to connect the dots of information that the U.S. 
Government has already lawfully collected.
  Real-world examples show how devastating this could be. A tip under 
702 from the NSA, the National Security Agency, is what helped the FBI 
stop an attack on the New York City subway system in 2009. There is 
also Hajji Iman, who at one point was the second in command of ISIS. 
Section 702 helped us get him and take him off the battlefield. Then 
there is ISIS recruiter Shawn Parson--702 revealed his terrorist 
propaganda and identified members of his terrorist network. There are 
many, many more examples of instances where 702 helped us identify, 
disrupt, and prevent attacks against the homeland here in the United 
States and innocent civilians.
  Whether it is combatting terrorism, detecting and countering cyber 
threats, uncovering support to hostile powers, or acquiring 
intelligence on foreign adversary militaries, 702 is one of our most 
effective tools, and we simply can't afford to blunt the sharpness of 
its blade or dull the focus of its lens.
  In closing, I want to make one final point clear. I agree that, in 
the words of one critic, the Fourth Amendment is not a ``suggestion.'' 
It is a core constitutional protection of our sacred freedom. But 
reauthorizing section 702 would not suddenly relegate the Fourth 
Amendment to second-tier status. Every court that has considered the 
matter has said so, and frankly, it is obscene to ignore the balanced, 
pro-privacy reforms in the House-passed bill that would provide even 
greater protections for the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans.
  The truth is that section 702 has never been systematically abused. 
It has helped stop terrorist attacks both at home and abroad. It has 
helped defend our troops on the battlefield. It has been critical to 
the Russian collusion probe and other counterintelligence work. As I 
said, every court--every single court--that has considered the program 
has found it to be lawful and constitutional; in other words, 
consistent with the Fourth Amendment in the U.S. Bill of Rights.
  So we can all rattle the saber of civil liberties to score political 
points, but large, misguided changes to 702 are not the way to go. The 
House-passed bill will provide greater transparency and procedural 
protections for the Fourth Amendment rights of innocent, law-abiding 
Americans, while at the same time allow us to remain vigilant in 
protecting the homeland and our troops abroad and our national security 
at large by making sure we have the information we need in order to 
connect the dots with the threats to our national security.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 

                               Tax Reform

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, tax reform has been the law of the land for 
less than a month, but it is already fostering a new era of economic 
optimism, and American workers are seeing the benefits. For years, 
American businesses, large and small, were weighed down by high tax 
rates and growth-killing provisions of the Tax Code. Plus, our outdated 
international tax rules left America's global businesses at a 
competitive disadvantage in the global economy.
  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed all that. We lowered tax rates 

[[Page S228]]

the board for owners of small- and medium-sized businesses, farms, and 
ranches. We expanded business owners' ability to recover investments 
they make in their businesses, which will free up cash they can 
reinvest in their operations and their workers. We lowered our Nation's 
massive corporate tax rate, which up until January 1 was the highest 
corporate tax rate in the developed world. We brought the U.S. 
international tax system into the 21st century by replacing our 
outdated worldwide system with what is called a territorial tax system 
so American businesses are not operating at a disadvantage next to 
their foreign competitors.
  Despite the fact that the new law has been in place for less than a 
month, it is already having a noticeable effect. Businesses are seeing 
a future defined by growth and success, and they are already passing 
some of the expected benefits on to their workers. Business after 
business has announced special bonuses, wage hikes, or benefit 
increases: AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast, American Airlines, 
Southwest, Visa, Nationwide Insurance, Jet Blue, and the list goes on 
and on.
  In addition to giving out bonuses to eligible employees, Walmart is 
raising its starting wage for hourly employees, expanding maternity and 
parental leave benefits, and creating a new adoption benefit for 
employees. More than 1 million Walmart employees will benefit from the 
  Aflac is boosting retirement benefits for its workers by increasing 
the size of its 401(k) match from 50 to 100 percent on the first 4 
percent of employees' contributions. It has also announced a onetime 
$500 contribution to the retirement account of every employee.
  PNC is giving a $1,000 bonus to 90 percent of its employees and 
adding $1,500 to employees' pension accounts. It is also boosting its 
minimum pay.
  Similarly, Great Western Bank, which is headquartered in my State of 
South Dakota, is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour and providing 
a $500 bonus or wage increase for nearly 70 percent of its workforce. 
The bank is also enhancing its employee healthcare program and doubling 
its annual contribution to its Making Life Great Grants community 
reinvestment program.
  I could go on, but the good news is not limited to increased wages, 
bonuses, and benefits, as important as that is, particularly to people 
who are living paycheck to paycheck, but companies are also acting to 
keep jobs and to create new ones.
  Fiat Chrysler just announced it will be adding 2,500 jobs at a 
Michigan factory to produce pickups it has been making in Mexico. In 
October, CVS Health announced it would create 3,000 new jobs if the 
corporate tax rate was reduced. In my own backyard, Molded Fiber Glass 
is keeping its doors open longer than expected, which is good news for 
its employees and the entire community of Aberdeen, SD.
  Then there are the utility companies. Utilities from around the 
country are benefiting from tax reform, and more than one is looking to 
pass on savings to consumers. Bloomberg reports that ``Exelon Corp., 
the biggest U.S. utility owner by sales, is already offering to reduce 
bills.'' In Illinois, ComEd is requesting permission to ``pass along 
approximately $200 million in tax savings to its customers in 2018.'' 
In Washington DC, Pepco has announced plans to pass on tax savings to 
customers beginning in the first quarter of this year.
  All these benefits are going to make a real difference in families' 
lives this year and, in some cases, well into the future, and the main 
benefits of tax reform are still to come. The IRS just released the new 
withholding tables for the tax law, and Americans should start seeing 
the results in February. Thanks to lower income tax rates, the doubling 
of the standard deduction, and the doubling of the child tax credit, 90 
percent of American workers--90 percent--should see bigger paychecks 
starting next month, and that is just the beginning.
  One major goal of tax reform was to provide immediate, direct relief 
to hard-working Americans, and that is happening right now, but our 
other goal was to create the kind of robust, long-term economic growth 
that will provide long-term security for American families. That is 
already starting with the wave of bonuses and wage increases, but there 
is a lot more to come.
  As businesses, large and small, experience the benefits of tax 
reform, American workers will see the benefits of tax reform. American 
workers will see increased access to the kinds of jobs, wages, and 
opportunities that will secure the American dream for the long term.
  It is a good day in America, and it is going to get even better.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 

                 Veterans Improved Access and Care Act

  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, when we were kids, we learned a song that 
I think Herman's Hermits made very famous around 1965. It was the ``I'm 
Henry VIII, I Am'' song, and it went on for a while about Henry VIII, 
and then it had a little phrase in there that as kids we would repeat. 
We would say: ``Henry VIII, I am. I'm Henry VIII, I am. Second verse, 
same as the first,'' and then they would repeat themselves: ``Second 
verse, same as the first,'' and they would keep going. Well, today, we 
find ourselves kind of stuck in that ``Second verse, same as the 
first'' when it comes to the Veterans Affairs Department and how they 
have treated veterans in Colorado.
  I rise, once again, to address troubling reports coming out of the 
Veterans' Administration. It has now been over 3 years since the 
Phoenix VA catastrophe--we all remember the Phoenix VA catastrophe, 
where secret wait lists led to the deaths of veterans. At that time, 
the VA pledged this problem would be fixed, but here we are ``Second 
verse, same as the first.'' They said it would never happen again. 
Well, it saddens me today that in Denver, CO, that promise has been 
  Following the Phoenix disaster, this body passed the Veterans Access, 
Choice, and Accountability Act, also known as the VA Choice Act, to 
expand access for veterans to community medical providers. No doubt, it 
has been successful in different parts of the country, but the Denver 
VA system continues to post inexcusable wait times, experience a 
shortage of doctors and nurses, and use secret wait lists. This is 
simply unacceptable.
  The average wait time for a new patient at the Denver VA for a 
primary care appointment has topped 42 days. This leads the Nation in 
an unfortunate category, and it is twice the national average. Our 
veterans deserve better, and to many who have been affected by this 
travesty, they demand better.
  Last week, NBC Nightly News told the story of one Colorado veteran, 
Alison Bush. Alison served in the Army for 7 years and suffers from a 
nerve disorder. With such a disorder, she cannot afford delayed 
appointments. Yet Alison was forced to wait over 3 months for a primary 
care appointment and another 60 days for an MRI. There is absolutely no 
excuse for this, particularly given the work we have done and the 
promises the VA has made. Alison, like so many others, answered the 
call of duty, only to be let down after retiring the uniform.
  I recognize that Colorado was witnessing an increase in demand with 
more than 11,000 veterans seeking care in the last 2 years, but this is 
no excuse. The VA must adapt in the face of adversity. We must change 
this repeat after repeat of the same verse, and we must never forget 
that this Nation's No. 1 priority is upholding the promises we have 
made to our veterans.
  Because of stories like Alison's, I recently introduced S. 2168, the 
Veterans Improved Access and Care Act of 2017. My legislation would 
address three issues: hiring shortages, delayed wait times, and 
malpractice reporting.
  A large driver of delayed wait times for veterans is the shortage of 
doctors and nurses. The current system for hiring these medical 
professionals is too long and too burdensome. According to a McKinsey & 
Company study in 2015, it took 4 to 8 months to hire VA employees. The 
onboarding process alone can take 3 months. According to the

[[Page S229]]

same study, private medical facilities took less than 2 months to hire 
an applicant. Just think about that for a moment. Just like in the VA, 
a private applicant has to go through an interview process, a 
certification process, credentials process, background check. Yet the 
VA's onboarding process is longer than the private sector's entire 
hiring process. It makes absolutely no sense.
  My legislation would take steps to fix this problem. It would 
authorize the VA to establish a pilot program to expedite the hiring of 
doctors at facilities where there are shortages of available 
specialists, such as nurses or anesthesiologists. Furthermore, it would 
require the Secretary of the VA to submit a report to Congress 
detailing a strategy to reduce the length of the VA's hiring process by 

  My bill would also look to expand access to our veterans. The VA 
Choice Program, while well-intentioned, still contains arbitrary rules, 
such as a 30-day waiting period before a veteran can seek access to 
community providers. Well, 29 days is also unacceptable. My legislation 
would work to improve the Choice Act by eliminating the 30-day/40-mile 
eligibility rule, giving veterans full access to medical care 
regardless of his or her situation.
  Finally, my legislation will work to ensure that secret wait lists 
are forever extinguished. No more ``second verse same as the first.''
  Last November, a Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector 
General report substantiated the claim that the Eastern Colorado Health 
Care System used unofficial wait lists for veterans, estimating that at 
least 3,775 veterans were affected. This is extremely disheartening. 
There needs to be accountability for this malpractice. My legislation 
would do just that. It would codify the VA's policy to expand the 
requirements of reporting malpractice to include all medical providers.
  Our veterans have served our country. They have missed holidays with 
their families to protect our Nation. They have suffered battlefield 
injuries. They have laid it all on the line for you and for me. The 
Presiding Officer is a veteran of this great country. The least we can 
do is ensure that our veterans are treated with the dignity, respect, 
and honor they have rightfully earned.
  It is my hope that the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee will soon 
take up my bill so that we can work to ensure accountability and 
greater access to care for all veterans. But whether it is my 
legislation or any piece of legislation, one thing is for sure: 
Something has to be done--not tomorrow, not next week, but now. The 
current system is not working, and it continues to let our veterans 
down. Nevertheless, we must remain optimistic and deliver on the 
promises we gave our men and women in uniform. I am optimistic that we 
can make this right on their behalf. We can't wait. Time is a luxury 
our veterans do not have.
  I ask that everyone in this body--and especially the VA--always 
remember the stories of veterans like Alison Bush. May we never forget 
those who set aside their own dreams to make sure they save the dreams 
of their fellow Americans. Our veterans honorably served this great 
Nation. Now is the time that we step up and honorably serve them.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Toomey). The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Colorado for 
his remarks. He reminds me of something former Majority Leader Tom 
Daschle told us one morning at the Prayer Breakfast. He said that after 
World War II, Archibald MacLeish, who was the poet laureate of the 
United States, said of the veterans who came back from the war--when 
talking to Members of the Senate, he said: They gave us our country. 
Now it is up to us to see that we can do something with it.
  I think we need to always remember that challenge and opportunity 
that we have.

                          The Jackson Magnolia

  Mr. President, some disappointing news arrived last month. The White 
House announced that the Andrew Jackson magnolia is sick and dying and 
that part of it had to be removed. On December 27, the east leader, 
which is a top section of a tree, was removed. The other leader of the 
Jackson magnolia is still intact, but it is supported by a cabling 
system. The part that was removed will eventually be replaced with a 
seedling from the original tree.
  When President Trump visited the Hermitage outside Nashville in March 
of last year and laid a wreath at Andrew Jackson's tomb, he likely 
walked past trees that were also seedlings from the Jackson magnolia.
  The news of the Jackson magnolia has special significance for 
Tennesseans and for several Tennessee families, including our own.
  Shortly after his arrival at the White House in 1829, Jackson, who 
was our seventh President, planted a magnolia seedling in honor of his 
wife Rachel, who had died only weeks earlier. During the Presidential 
campaign, Rachel had been so maligned about the legitimacy of her 
marriage to Jackson that she had said: ``I would rather be a doorkeeper 
in the House of God than live in that palace at Washington.''
  The seedling that Jackson planted came from a magnolia at the 
Hermitage, the couple's home outside Nashville. Over the years, it grew 
into a magnificent, sprawling specimen, reaching the roof of the White 
House at the South Portico.
  Take a look at the back of the twenty-dollar bill--the one in your 
billfold or wallet or purse, the one with President Jackson on the 
front, and you will see the Jackson magnolia, along with another 
magnolia planted later to supplement it.
  The Washington Post detailed some of the tree's history when the news 
was announced. Here is what the Post said:

       Long after Jackson left office, his magnolia remained. 
     Other trees were planted to supplement it, and the tree 
     became a fixture in White House events. Herbert Hoover 
     reportedly took breakfast and held Cabinet meetings at a 
     table beneath its sprawling branches. Franklin Delano 
     Roosevelt spoke with Winston Churchill in its shade. Richard 
     Nixon strode past it as he left the White House for the last 
     time after his resignation. In 1994, a Maryland man piloting 
     a stolen plane clipped the tree before suffering a deadly 
     crash against the White House wall.

  Some said it might have saved President Bill Clinton's life.

       No tree on the White House grounds can reveal so many 
     secrets of romance and history, longtime White House butler 
     Alonzo Fields once told the Associated Press.

  The Jackson magnolia itself may be dying, but its children and 
grandchildren and even its great-grandchildren will live on.
  In 1988, President Ronald Reagan presented a cutting of the Jackson 
magnolia to Howard H. Baker, Jr.--a former majority leader of this 
Senate--when Baker retired as Reagan's chief of staff. Baker planted 
that cutting at his home in Huntsville, TN.
  Six years later, in 1994, Baker was lunching at his home with John 
Rice Irwin, founder of the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, TN. Irwin 
noticed the tree, which by then had grown to a height of 18 feet. Baker 
told Norris the story of the Jackson magnolia and, with the help of the 
University of Tennessee College of Agriculture, arranged for two 
cuttings from Baker's magnolia to be rooted and sent to John Rice 
  In 1995, Senator Baker presided at a formal ceremony at the Museum of 
Appalachia when those two cuttings--the grandchildren of the White 
House Jackson magnolia--were presented to the Museum of Appalachia. 
They are planted in front of the museum's Hall of Fame.
  In 1996, John Rice Irwin gave a cutting from the Museum of Appalachia 
magnolia to my wife Honey and me. We planted this great-grandchild of 
the White House magnolia in front of our home outside Maryville, TN. 
Today, it is 80 feet tall.
  In 1998, a tornado destroyed the original magnolia at the Hermitage, 
from which the White House Jackson magnolia had been taken. At the 
request of Hermitage officials, the Museum of Appalachia provided a 
cutting from the museum magnolia to replace the original tree. It was 
presented at a ceremony presided over by Lewis Donelson, III, the 
descendent of John Donelson, Rachel Jackson's father. Senator Baker and 
John Rice Irwin attended.
  According to the Museum of Appalachia, five cuttings have been 
successfully propagated from the museum magnolia. In 2009, John Rice 
Irwin gave my wife and me a second cutting from

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the museum magnolia, which is planted at our home in Blount County. We, 
in turn, have given cuttings to Graham and Cindy Hunter in Knoxville 
and to Denise and Steve Smith of Franklin. Their trees are growing tall 
in the Tennessee soil from which the Jackson magnolia came 180 years 
  While we commemorate the long and prominent life of the Jackson 
magnolia, we can also look forward to long lives from its grandchildren 
and great-grandchildren now planted at the Museum of Appalachia in 
Norris, at a city park in Sevier County, and at the Hermitage and other 
homes in Tennessee.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
the article from the Washington Post dated December 26, describing the 
history of the Jackson magnolia.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

               [From the Washington Post, Dec. 26, 2017]

    White House To Cut Back Magnolia Tree Planted by Andrew Jackson

                           (By Sarah Kaplan)

       The White House cut down part of the aging historic 
     magnolia tree planted by former president Andrew Jackson on 
     Dec. 27. Here's a bit of the tree's history.
       The enormous magnolia tree stood watch by the South Portico 
     of the White House for nearly two centuries. Its dark green, 
     glossy leaves shaded politicians and heads of state. Its 
     ivory flowers bloomed through times of peace and war. It is 
     the oldest tree on the White House grounds, a witness to 
     Easter egg rolls and state ceremonies, a resignation, a plane 
     crash, all the tumult and triumph of 39 presidencies.
       But the iconic magnolia is now too old and badly damaged to 
     remain in place, the White House announced Tuesday. At the 
     recommendation of specialists from the National Arboretum, 
     first lady Melania Trump called for a large portion of the 
     tree to be removed this week.
       The decision, first reported by CNN, comes after decades of 
     attempts to hold the aged tree up with a steel pole and 
     cables. Arboretum experts said that rigging is now 
     compromised and that the wood of the magnolia's trunk is too 
     delicate for further interventions. Any other tree in that 
     condition would have been cut down years ago.
       But this is not any other tree. According to White House 
     lore, the stately evergreen was brought to Washington as a 
     seedling by Andrew Jackson. The magnolia was a favorite tree 
     of his wife, Rachel, who had died just days after he was 
     elected. Jackson blamed the vicious campaign--during which 
     his political opponents questioned the legitimacy of his 
     marriage for his wife's untimely death.
       The new planting, which came from the couple's Tennessee 
     farm, the Hermitage, would serve as a living monument to her 
     in the place she despised; before her death, Rachel had 
     reportedly said, ``I would rather be a doorkeeper in the 
     house of God than live in that palace at Washington.''
       Long after Jackson left office, his magnolia remained. 
     Other trees were planted to supplement it, and the tree 
     became a fixture in White House events. Herbert Hoover 
     reportedly took breakfast and held Cabinet meetings at a 
     table beneath its sprawling branches. Franklin Delano 
     Roosevelt spoke with Winston Churchill in its shade.
       Richard Nixon strode past it as he left the White House for 
     the last time after his resignation. In 1994, a Maryland man 
     piloting a stolen plane clipped the tree before suffering a 
     deadly crash against the White House wall. And for decades, 
     the magnolia was featured on the back of the $20 bill.
       ``No tree on the White House grounds can reveal so many 
     secrets of romance and history,'' longtime White House butler 
     Alonzo Fields once told the Associated Press.
       In 2006, when the National Park Service initiated a 
     ``Witness Tree Protection Program'' to study historically and 
     biologically important trees in the Washington area, the 
     Jackson magnolia was at the top of the program's list. By 
     then, the tree was tall enough to reach the White House's 
     second-story windows and had already eclipsed the minimum 
     life expectancy for its species--about 150 years.
       According to a report from the NPS program, workers 
     attempted to repair a gash in the tree in the 1940s. But 
     within a few decades, much of the interior portion of the 
     tree had decayed, leaving behind a ``rind'' of brittle wood. 
     Those surviving portions were held in place by a 30-foot pole 
     and guy-wires. ``It is doubtful that without this external 
     support the specimen would long survive,'' the report said.
       Ultimately, those measures could not allay safety concerns 
     about the tree, said White House spokeswoman Stephanie 
     Grisham. Visitors and members of the press are frequently 
     standing right in front of the magnolia when the president 
     departs on Marine One; the high winds from the helicopter 
     could make a limb collapse more likely.
       Keith Pitchford, a D.C.-based certified arborist, is 
     familiar with the Jackson magnolia but has not professionally 
     assessed it. He wondered whether the removal may be 
     premature: ``If you can lower the tree and make it a bit more 
     squat, it really prolongs the life of these trees we thought 
     were hazardous,'' he said.
       According to Grisham, the first lady requested that wood 
     from the magnolia be preserved and seedlings be made 
     available for a possible replanting in the same area.
       Already, progeny of the historic tree are thriving in other 
     spots nationwide. It's said that Lyndon B. Johnson had a 
     seedling from the magnolia planted outside a friend's home in 
     Texas so that when Lady Bird stayed there she could look out 
     the window and imagine the president at work in the White 
     House. Ronald Reagan gifted a cutting to chief of staff 
     Howard Baker Jr. for his retirement in 1988. Then first lady 
     Michelle Obama donated a seedling to the U.S. Department of 
     Agriculture's ``people's garden'' in 2009.
       Jackson's original magnolia at the Hermitage was destroyed 
     along with hundreds of other trees during a devastating 
     tornado in the late 1990s. It was ultimately replaced by new 
     trees donated from the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tenn. 
     According to Michael Grantham, gardens manager for the 
     Hermitage, staff always said that those trees were clones of 
     the White House magnolia--but without an identifying label, 
     no one knew for sure. So Grantham sent tissue samples to a 
     plant genetics lab at Cornell University.
       ``It was not an exact match,'' he said. ``What we got was 
     probably seedlings from underneath the tree.''
       Someday, Grantham would like to bring a cutting, or an 
     exact clone, of the White House magnolia back to the 
     Hermitage. ``I know there are some out there,'' he said. In 
     those trees, Jackson's two-century-old tribute lives on.

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Carolina.

                               Tax Reform

  Mr. SCOTT. Mr. President, the last 3 weeks have shown us the 
beginning of what happens when Congress listens to the American people 
and delivers on our promises.
  For years, we have been talking about real, lasting tax reform--
helping American families bring more of their hard-earned money back 
home in their paychecks and ensuring that the jobs of the future are 
created here at home in America.
  Last month, we started reaching those goals, and just 3 weeks since 
we passed tax reform, more than 2 million Americans have received 
bonuses in their paychecks, and hundreds of thousands of employees have 
been informed that they will have permanent pay increases or increased 
  Right after Christmas, in my home State of South Carolina, Nephron 
Pharmaceuticals announced that 640 employees will receive a minimum of 
a 5-percent raise. This is good news. The raise is due to the passage 
of tax reform. In other words, 2 million Americans all across the 
country--thousands of Americans in South Carolina--are starting to see 
the fruit of tax reform.
  This is just the beginning. In fact, all across the country, more 
than 160 companies have already begun the steps of improving the lives 
of their employees by allowing them to share in the benefits of tax 
reform. This is counter to what we heard on the floor for days and 
weeks and I would dare say for months, when folks railed about how the 
corporations and the companies and the employers of America simply 
would not share the benefits of lower taxes.
  I am thankful that I live in a country and blessed to live in a State 
where our corporate family has obviously recognized the benefits and 
the wisdom of sharing the profits with their employees. And that number 
will rise. As a matter of fact, I think just today the Apple 
Corporation--home of the iPhones and all those good gadgets--said that 
instead of making the $1.5 billion investment that they had announced, 
they would instead make a $300 billion investment here at home in 
America, creating 20,000 new American jobs. This is good news.
  Earlier this month--last week, I believe it was--the IRS announced 
that they had been able to change the withholdings, and they have 
predicted--this is an astounding number--that up to 90 percent of 
employees will see more take-home pay in their paychecks as early as 
February 15.
  You see, lower taxes and higher take-home pay translates into maybe a 
movie night out for a struggling family, maybe new tennis shoes for a 
youngster, and, without any question, more money to do more good for 
nonprofits, for churches and other organizations.
  Next year, when they file their taxes, our efforts to double the 
child tax credit and our efforts to double the standard deduction will 
kick in, and more families will see more money from their returns.
  Frankly, my Investing in Opportunity Act that was included in the tax

[[Page S231]]

reform will present new opportunities for perhaps billions of dollars 
to be reinvested in distressed communities, like the one where I grew 
up. More than 50 million Americans live in these distressed 
communities. And because of the good will of this body, because of the 
good will of the House of Representatives, and because of the good will 
of the current administration, millions of Americans will have more 
reasons to be hopeful in 2018.
  This is just the beginning of what a strong, middle-class oriented, 
business-friendly tax code will do.
  I plan to spend more time on the floor of the Senate over the next 
year, talking about the benefits of tax reform and relaying the stories 
of employees who are starting to fill my mailbox with amazing stories 
of the things they are doing with their extra dollars.
  This is a good start to 2018, and my prayer is that this is just the 
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                     Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I will take this time to go over with my 
colleagues the reasons why I unequivocally oppose the Trump 
administration's decision to allow oil and gas drilling along our 
Atlantic coast.
  There are many reasons why I oppose this policy. One is that the risk 
to the environment is too great. The Atlantic coast contains some of 
the most pristine coastlines in America. This region is very much aware 
of the importance of the Chesapeake Bay and how fragile the Chesapeake 
Bay is and what an oilspill off the coast of the Atlantic could do to 
the Chesapeake Bay.
  There are also reasons to oppose this because, quite frankly, the 
amount of suspected reserves are just not great enough to warrant this 
risk. We also know that already there are significant lands that have 
been devoted and are available for oil exploration that will meet our 
needs, but a lot of it has not even been explored yet because of the 
current economic realities.
  Lastly, when we are talking about an energy policy that makes sense 
for our country, exploring for new oil off the coast of the Atlantic 
makes no sense whatsoever. In November 2016, the Bureau of Ocean Energy 
Management wisely did not include any parcels in the Atlantic Outer 
Continental Shelf in the 2017-2022 plan to lease offshore land the 
Federal Government controls.
  The following month, former President Obama used his authority under 
section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953 to 
withdraw unleased Outer Continental Shelf lands from future lease 
sales. This makes sense.
  In June of 2017, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected 
that U.S. oil output will hit 10 million barrels per day in 2018, 
breaking the alltime 1970 record--all without drilling off the 
Chesapeake Bay. The previous record was 9.6 million barrels a day in 
  So we are at a record pace on bringing oil out of the ground. Yet we 
take a look at the amount of oil that is projected to be available for 
exploration off the Atlantic Coast, and it is a relatively small 
amount. When we recognize the risk, it is just not worth the risk to 
explore for that amount of oil with the potential of causing 
devastation to our environment.
  Last March, officials from the Spanish oil company Repsol and its 
privately held U.S. partner Armstrong Energy announced the discovery of 
1.2 billion barrels of oil in Alaska's North Slope, which was 
previously viewed as an aging oil basin. That amount exceeds the 
projected entire reserves along the Atlantic coast. Production could 
begin as soon as 2021 and lead to as much as 120,000 barrels of output 
per day. This is the biggest onshore discovery of conventional oil in 
the United States in three decades.
  In addition to these massive onshore discoveries, as of fiscal year 
2016--the last year for which data is available--only 47 percent of the 
public lands already held by oil and gas industries are under 
production. In other words, half the lands are still yet to be 
produced. The industry also has a glut of drilling permits, with more 
than 7,900 approved but unused permits on the book. In fiscal year 
2016, the Bureau of Land Management issued 2,184 drilling permits, of 
which only 847 were used by the industry. So they have a big backlog. 
They don't need another area to explore.
  As the Wilderness Society reported last month, leasing more lands 
than industry could possibly develop or seems interested in developing 
allows companies to stockpile land while they wait for a more favorable 
market, but stockpiling prevents these lands from being used for 
popular pastimes like hunting, fishing, hiking, and conservation, while 
leaving them open to the risk of drilling.
  There is an Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf site known as lease sale 
220. It has been proposed for oil and gas development previously. Lease 
sale 220 is located off the shore of Virginia. It is a 2.9 million-
acre, triangle-shaped site. NOAA tells us that 72 percent of the time 
the prevailing winds in this region blow toward or along the coast--72 
percent of the time. Coupled with the way the Gulf Stream flows and 
local currents, if lease sale 220 is developed and there is an 
oilspill, the likelihood of oil washing up on the shores of New Jersey, 
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and the Outer Banks is quite high. The 
mouth of the Chesapeake Bay is just 50 miles away from this site. It is 
hard enough just dealing with the existing pollutants that come into 
the bay from agriculture, development, and storm runoff. Add oil into 
the mix, and it would set us back decades in order to restart our 
oyster crops and help our watermen with blue crabs and to help the rock 
fish return and thrive.
  We have spent a lot of energy in the U.S. Congress as a Federal 
partner with the Chesapeake Bay Program. I remember my days in the 
State legislature where Governor Hughes provided the leadership for the 
development of the Chesapeake Bay Program. We worked with governments 
from six States and the District of Columbia, the Federal Government, 
and private sector partners--all so we could preserve and reclaim the 
Chesapeake Bay, a national treasure. It has been declared so by many 
Presidents. We spent a lot of effort. We asked our farmers to do more. 
We asked our developers to do more. We asked our local governments, in 
the way they treat their wastewater, to do more. Now, if we allow 
drilling off the Atlantic coast, all that effort could be put at risk.
  Drilling off the coast of Maryland would interfere with our naval 
Atlantic Test Range, preventing our military from developing next-
generation fighter aircraft, sensors, and weapons to keep us safe. We 
have a large military presence along the Atlantic coast.
  Adding insult to injury--or, perhaps I should say, heaping injury on 
top of injury, this move to open up the Atlantic coast to drilling came 
just 1 week after President Trump repealed safety regulations President 
Obama implemented to prevent another Deepwater Horizon disaster. 
Deepwater Horizon was a $600 million state-of-the-art rig, but it 
failed, causing the greatest accidental oilspill in history. Eleven 
crewmen lost their lives. Up to 4.9 million barrels of oil gushed from 
the broken well for more than 3 months, eventually fouling over 570 
miles of gulf shoreline and killing thousands of birds and other marine 
  The long-term effects of the oilspill and the 1.8 million gallons of 
dispersants used on it remain unknown, but experts say they could 
devastate the gulf coast for many years or even decades. Dolphins 
continue to die, fish are showing strange lesions, coral in the gulf 
have died, and oil still remains in some marsh areas. The oil could 
remain in the food chain for generations to come. An oilspill entering 
the Chesapeake Bay would be a similar disaster.
  Whatever happened to Interior Secretary Zinke's promise during his 
confirmation process to be highly mindful of local input when managing 
public lands and waters? Opponents of offshore drilling flooded the 
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management with more than a half million 
comments. The list of opponents included more than 1,200 local, State, 
and Federal officials, including the Governors of Maryland,

[[Page S232]]

Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, 
California, Oregon, and Washington; more than 150 coastal 
municipalities; and an alliance of more than 41,000 businesses and 
50,000 fishing families. President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke 
cavalierly ignored the widespread public opposition to expanded 
offshore drilling and the time and effort the public dedicated to 
making their dissenting voices heard.
  It is reckless, even wanton, to jeopardize so much--the livelihood of 
those who depend on fishing and tourist industries, our fisheries, and 
our military readiness--along the Maryland coast and Chesapeake Bay 
when there is so much more oil and gas in other parts of the country 
where production is already well established and locally supported.
  My concerns aren't limited to the Chesapeake Bay or Maryland's 
beautiful coastline, even though both are priceless national, not 
parochial, natural resources. The international scientific consensus 
regarding human contributions to climate change is clear. Greenhouse 
gas emissions are a huge problem. Yet the Trump administration is 
determined to double down on burning fossil fuels when we need to be 
diminishing, not increasing, our reliance on them. Instead of promoting 
an energy policy for the 21st century, President Trump is pushing 
policies from the early 20th century. This isn't just ill-advised, it 
is deadly. We have little time to lose when it comes to cutting fossil 
fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. Politico recently reported:

       Last year was the third hottest on record in 125 years of 
     record-keeping, and the U.S. faced record-breaking losses 
     from weather and climate disasters. . . . A NOAA study found 
     that hurricanes, wildfires and other events did $306 billion 
     worth of damage to the U.S. economy, factoring in destroyed 
     property and lost business activity in affected areas. . . .
       The most expensive storm of 2017 was Hurricane Harvey, with 
     an estimated $125 billion in costs, followed by Hurricane 
     Maria at $90 billion and Hurricane Irma at $50 billion. As 
     for wildfires, they burned through more than 9.8 million 
     acres in the West and caused close to $18 billion in damage, 
     tripling the previous record. The U.S. in total saw 16 
     separate events with losses exceeding $1 billion each in 
     2017, tying a record set in 2011 for most billion-dollar 
     disasters in a single year.
       NOAA scientists also found the five warmest years on record 
     for the U.S. all have occurred since 2006.

  For all these reasons, I urge President Trump and Interior Secretary 
Zinke to reverse course on this ill-begotten plan immediately. What we 
really need is a permanent moratorium on oil and gas drilling off our 
Atlantic coast. The potential rewards of such drilling--problematic as 
they are--don't come anywhere close to equaling the risks to the 
Chesapeake Bay and Maryland's and our Nation's irreplaceable shorelines 
and coastal communities.
  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. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                  Reviewing Last Year's Senate Agenda

  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, our Constitution starts out with three 
beautiful words: ``We the people.'' This was the whole mission 
statement for the development of our form of government--not a 
government that would deliver benefits by and for the privileged, not a 
government that would deliver decisions for the rich and the powerful, 
but for the people of the United States, for the best policy for the 
population of the United States, so that its citizens everywhere, of 
every stripe and every corner of the Nation, could have a foundation to 
thrive. But in 2017, the leadership of this body dedicated itself to a 
different mission. They dedicated themselves to the mission of 
government of, by, and for the powerful and the privileged.
  I think it is worth reviewing some of those items that we have gone 
through in the course of this past year. Let's start by looking at the 
attack on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. My colleagues on 
the Republican side spent a whole year attacking this organization, 
which was set up to make sure that financial transactions are fair--a 
fair, square deal for ordinary Americans. We had seen all kinds of 
predatory practices in consumer loans. We had seen all kinds of 
predatory practices in auto loans. We certainly had seen them in home 
mortgages. In fact, the exploding interest rate mortgages and the 
triple option mortgages that were designed to deceive and bankrupt 
ordinary Americans turned the dream of homeownership into a nightmare.
  Fortunately, in 2010 this body said: No more. We are going to set up 
an organization that can identify predatory practices as they develop 
and prevent them from being implemented.
  It makes a lot of sense. It is very similar to an organization we 
have in the government that says: That appliance is dangerous and 
should never be sold; that toy is dangerous and should never be sold. 
In this case, it is this: That loan is predatory, deceptive and should 
never be marketed.
  This assault on CFPB went on throughout the year, purely 
encapsulating government for the powerful, the rich, and the predatory 
over ordinary people. This has culminated at the end of the year in 
which President Trump has appointed an Acting Director to the CFPB who 
hates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and wants to dismantle 
it from the inside. In fact, that Director has called the organization 
a ``sick, sad joke.''
  Just yesterday, he threw out the payday loan rule. Payday loans have 
interest rates of 300, 400, 500 percent interest. People have them, 
initially, and borrow $1,000. In a year, they owe $5,000. In another 
year, they owe $25,000. In another year, they owe $125,000. It is a 
vortex of debt that pulls families into bankruptcy, squeezes them for 
as long as it can, and then throws them out bankrupt. Many States have 
said this is outrageous. Many religious traditions have said this is 
unacceptable. People have seen the carnage it does in a society that 
has high-interest loans. These are not just high-interest loans of 25, 
35, or 45 percent. No, it is 300 percent, 400 percent, or 500 percent.
  Yesterday the Director of the organization set up to protect against 
predatory loans restored full power to allow these predatory loans to 
occur. That symbolizes the whole year of leadership in this body 
supporting the powerful and the privileged instead of the people of the 
United States of America.
  Just a little while ago we had a vote in the body--a 50-50 vote that 
was broken by the Vice President, 51-50--that really does symbolize the 
powerful over the people. This is a case where there was a rule adopted 
by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that said you have to have 
fairness in adjudicating consumer issues. Let's say, for example, a 
telephone company puts charges on your bill that you didn't authorize. 
Let's say, for example, a cable company proceeds to charge you a higher 
price than the contract called for and you want to dispute this, but 
currently if you seek to dispute it, you can't do so in a fair setting. 
Instead, it is a rigged system set up for the company and against the 
people, in which the company chooses the judge, in which the company 
pays the judge, and in which the company promises future business to 
the judge.
  Who here in this Chamber really thinks they can get a fair decision 
when one party to a dispute chooses a judge, pays the judge, and 
promises the judge future business? That is the fair arbitration rule 
that was undone by this body choosing to weigh in during 2017 once 
again on the side of the powerful against ordinary people, choosing the 
system rigged against middle-class and ordinary Americans.
  Let's turn to yet another decision for the powerful in 2017 over the 
people--net neutrality. People value the fairness of the internet. You 
decide you have an idea, and you want to set up a company. Maybe you 
want to offer a website that provides services to people who need home 
repairs. You know you are going to be competing against big, powerful 
actors who have other websites. But you decide: I have a different 
idea, a different innovation, and a different way of doing this would 
be better. Right now, until recently, you had the same ability to get 
the same speed on your pages, or your website, loading as the big 
player did so you could compete. But the Republican majority, team 
Trump, says: No, we want

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to weigh in for the powerful over ordinary people. We want to give the 
powerful the ability to have those web pages put up on the computer 
screen really, really fast and stop the challengers--the little guy, 
the ordinary person who wants to compete--from being able to have the 
same speed so that the customer can only decide: Well, I better go to 
the established big player.
  What could more symbolize the powerful over the people than the FCC, 
with the support of this administration--this Trump team for the 
powerful--choosing to wipe out net neutrality? I think we will have 
that issue revisited in 2018 when we have a Congressional Review Act 
that already 50 Senators in this body--49 Democrats, 1 Republican--have 
said they are ready to sponsor for the overturn of this act against 
ordinary people. At least 50 out of 100 are saying that on this issue 
they want to stand up for ordinary people against this 2017 reign of 
terror by the powerful and privileged over ordinary people. It is at 
least 50, but we are going to need 51. Isn't there one more Senator who 
will stand up for ordinary people?
  Then, we have the Congressional Review Act attack on Planned 
Parenthood. This was a case where the administration and this 
Republican leadership and this Republican-led body said: We want to 
enable jurisdictions to divert funds away from a women's health 
organization, Planned Parenthood. They centered their argument around 
diminishing the number of abortions. Here is the fact. Family planning 
decreases abortions. So it has the contrary impact than what was stated 
by those who made that argument.
  Here is another fact: 97 percent of the work of those organizations 
is about general women's health/reproductive services, not abortion--97 
percent. This takes away screenings for all kinds of cancers, for all 
kinds of women's healthcare. Here we have the privileged and the 
powerful choosing to weigh in against the health of ordinary women 
across the United States. The list just goes on and on.
  Let's turn to big, powerful mining companies brought to bear against 
ordinary people. This is simply the case of a rule which said that when 
you create a big mess with mountaintop removal mining, you have to fix 
it so that it doesn't contaminate the stream. This was a rule in which 
the people weighed in and said they wanted clean streams for the fish, 
where the ordinary people of America weighed in and said they wanted 
clean streams for fishing, where the ordinary people weighed in and 
said they wanted clean streams for their water supplies--but no. This 
body saw fit to weigh in for the rich and powerful, taking away those 
streams for the fish and the opportunity for fishing, taking away those 
clean streams for water in favor of the rich and powerful over the 
interests of the people of the United States.
  This ``rich and powerful over the people'' has extended abroad, even 
beyond our borders. Equatorial Guinea, a country of Sub-Saharan Africa, 
has a massive wealth of oil. President Obiang of that country has been 
in power since 1979. That country has a per capita income of around--I 
believe it is $20,000, but most of the nation lives on less than $2 a 
day. Why is that? Why do ordinary people live on so little when the 
country has so much wealth? It is because the international oil 
companies have made their royalty payments to the leader of the country 
rather than to the treasury of the country.
  Congress came along and said: Do you know what? We need transparency 
of these international transactions so that ordinary people overseas 
are not ripped off through these hidden transactions of paying off 
leaders who live extraordinary lives of luxury while their people 
  When I talk about suffering, who here can live on $2 a day? Who here 
can do that? It is a life-and-death issue, as 20 percent of the 
children in Equatorial Guinea--a country with this vast wealth--die 
before the age of 5 while the President and his Vice President own 
yachts worth $250 million. They have a $200 million mansion in Paris, 
and they have a $10 million car collection while people are dying 
because in 2017 this Chamber chose to support the powerful over the 
ordinary people of the world.
  We see this in another environmental issue--the issue of the Arctic 
National Wildlife Refuge. We have protected that decade after decade--a 
last great natural treasure, sacred Tribal land that is home to polar 
bears and brown bears and lynx and moose and Arctic foxes and seals. In 
fact, it is the calving ground where a herd of 160,000 porcupine 
caribou go to give birth. Yet we decided that Tribal land was not as 
important as the decision for the rich and powerful oil companies to be 
able to destroy that pristine area.
  Let's turn, really, to what was one of the biggest issues of the 
powerful over the people in 2017, one in which this body facilitated 
the theft of a Supreme Court seat in order to maintain the Citizens 
United ruling that allows billionaires to flood our campaigns with cash 
in order to control this body--one of the most evident sources of 
corruption in the history of this country.
  Finally, we had an opening for the Supreme Court in 2016, an opening 
that might have redressed this ``we the powerful'' decision over ``we 
the people.'' This body came forward, and the leadership said: We are 
not going to allow a debate on President Obama's nominee. We are not 
going to allow a vote.
  They justified it because it was an election year. Yet, if you look 
through history, there is nothing in our history that supports that. 
Fifteen times before, we had openings on the Supreme Court during 
election years. Fifteen times before, we had debated. Fifteen times 
before, we had voted. Then again, it was dressed up as, maybe this is 
protecting the Constitution. Of course, the Constitution doesn't 
absolve us of our advice and consent responsibilities in the fourth 
year of a Presidency or in the eighth year of a Presidency.
  The consummation of that theft was completed when this body voted to 
confirm the nomination of Neil Gorsuch last April--basically, an 
incredible act of irresponsibility, a failure to honor our advice and 
consent responsibility, an act which denigrated the legitimacy of the 
Supreme Court and certainly diminished the reputation of the Senate in 
honoring our pledge to honor the Constitution, including the 
constitutional responsibility to provide advice and consent--all in 
order to keep billionaires' money in campaigns throughout this country. 
If that is not the powerful over the people in 2017, what is?
  That is not the end of it. In 2017, the Republican leadership of this 
body brought us five different efforts to wipe out healthcare for 20 to 
30 million people. Now, I didn't hear the Senators who were supporting 
this say they wanted to give up healthcare for themselves--oh, no. They 
wanted to keep that, but they were very comfortable in advocating for a 
bill to wipe out healthcare for 20 to 30 million Americans. There you 
have it--the powerful against the people.
  Then we have the tax heist--the most recent of the powerful over the 
people. Add up the provisions for the wealthy. Now, remember, this tax 
bill was advertised as a middle-class tax cut for the middle class, but 
what did we have? We had the provision to eliminate the dynasty 
loophole, which allows the richest Americans to pass on their dynasties 
to the next generation without their ever paying capital gains, at a 
cost of $83 billion. We had a change in the tax brackets for the 
wealthiest Americans in the hundreds of billions of dollars. We had the 
eliminating of the alternative minimum tax--$40 billion or so--for the 
wealthiest Americans. We had the reducing of corporate taxes, the 
benefits of which largely go to the big stockholders--the richest 
Americans. We had the sweetheart rate for passthrough corporations that 
bolstered the value of that, helping out the richest Americans.
  If you add it up, one after another after another of the provisions, 
all told, probably about $2 trillion has been given to the richest 
Americans by the so-called middle-class tax cuts--not $2 trillion for 
the middle class, not $2 trillion for the struggling bottom third of 
America's families, not $2 trillion for helping to diminish the size of 
our classrooms in K-12 and to improve teacher training, not $2 trillion 
dedicated to wiping out the high cost of college, not $2 trillion 
dedicated to

[[Page S234]]

healthcare and our clinics, not $2 trillion dedicated to 
infrastructure, creating jobs, and building a better economy for the 
future. No. This is $2 trillion to the richest Americans to increase 
wealth inequality, to increase income inequality.
  How much is $2 trillion? Can you even get your hands around that 
number? Divide it by the number of Americans--men, women, and children. 
That is $6,000 for every man, woman, and child in America that this 
body, under this Republican leadership, decided to give to the 
wealthiest Americans rather than to make available for the foundation 
for our families--education, healthcare, good jobs, improved 
  That kind of wraps up 10 items from throughout 2017. This body 
constantly ignored the mission of our Constitution--our ``we the 
people'' mission--and chose instead to be the government of, by, and 
for the powerful.
  How about we have a new year's resolution for 2018 in which we decide 
to actually honor the Constitution, the vision of the Constitution, and 
address the needs of America and the foundation under which families 
may thrive, that of good jobs, education, and healthcare in 2018. Then 
we would be doing our job, and then we would be honoring our 
  I thank the Presiding Officer.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gardner). The Senator from Pennsylvania.

                               Tax Reform

  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I rise this afternoon to speak about what 
our tax reform and tax relief legislation actually does.
  I want to start by welcoming in advance the President of the United 
States to Pennsylvania. The President is going to Pittsburgh, PA, to 
talk about the specifics of our tax reform and the effect it is having. 
I really wish I could be there with him, but we don't know when we are 
going to finish up here, as the President knows very well. We might be 
here well into the evening, and I have multiple obligations to which I 
have long been committed in addition to juggling that. Unfortunately, I 
will not be able to get to Pittsburgh with the President, but I hope to 
have another opportunity to celebrate this victory for Pennsylvanians 
and Americans because that is what it is.
  When we set out to accomplish the biggest tax reform in at least 31 
years, we had two big goals.
  The first was to make sure we implemented a direct tax cut for 
working families, for middle-income families, and for the overwhelming 
majority of families and individuals whom we all represent. That was 
goal No. 1--to make sure we cut taxes for the people who are working 
every day, living paycheck to paycheck, working hard, and making 
America what it is. That was item No. 1.
  The second thing we wanted to do was to reform what was a completely 
archaic, unbelievably complicated, inefficient, and really terrible 
business tax code that had become arguably one of the very worst in the 
world and one that was systematically discouraging investment in the 
United States.
  So those were the two goals--direct tax relief for ordinary Americans 
and making the business tax code competitive. I am thrilled to be able 
to say that I believe we achieved both goals.
  First of all, it is a simple, straightforward, factual matter that we 
cut taxes on the vast, overwhelming majority of taxpayers--the families 
and individuals who pay taxes. That is just a factual matter. That is 
easy to confirm. Of course, that has the effect of increasing the take-
home pay for anybody who is working. You can increase your take-home 
pay by either getting a raise from your employer or by paying fewer 
taxes on what you earn or both, and we knew for sure that we were 
cutting taxes and that there was going to be a take-home pay increase.
  I predicted at the time that we would also be creating an environment 
in which there would be upward pressure on wages, where over time we 
would start to see people getting bonuses, pay rate increases, and wage 
increases because we would be creating a dynamic in which employers 
would be competing more and more for workers so that, in effect, they 
would be bidding up the compensation for the workers. That is what I 
predicted, and I was confident that would happen within some number of 
months or a year or so. So I had to come down to the floor today and 
confess that I was wrong--very wrong--about the timing of that. You 
see, we didn't have to wait 3 or 6 or 12 months for our constituents--
the people whom we represent--to see the benefits in the form of higher 
wages. They started happening immediately--I mean, within days. It has 
actually been stunning.
  It has been about 1 month since we passed this sweeping tax reform, 
and many hundreds of businesses--those cumulatively employing well over 
2 million workers--have announced bonuses, wage increases, expanded 
benefits, and increased contributions to pension accounts. They have 
cited the tax reform as the mechanism that has enabled them to do this 
for their workers.
  What is so exciting about this is that this is happening even before 
the wave of new investments has even been able to begin. This is 
happening because companies know that with lower tax rates, they are 
going to have more free cash flow. They are going to use some of that 
to invest in growing their business, but they have already announced 
that they are using some of that to enhance the compensation of their 
  Let me give you some examples. These are just Pennsylvania-related 
companies, a handful of the ones I am aware of. It is typical of 
companies across the country. Comcast, a big employer based in 
Philadelphia, announced specifically that as a result of the tax 
reform, they would make a $1,000 bonus payment to 100,000 frontline 
nonexecutive employees, and they committed to $50 billion of capital 
expenditure over the next 5 years. How many tens of thousands of jobs 
is all of that capital expenditure going to support? It is a big 
  That is not all. Out in Pittsburgh, PNC Financial Services, a 
substantial large bank in Pittsburgh, announced right after the tax 
reform that they would pay $1,000 to 47,500 of their employees, and, in 
addition, they would contribute $1,500 to each of their employees for 
participating in their pension savings plans. They are also raising 
their base wage. Their minimum wage for employees at PNC goes up to $15 
an hour. No Federal Government edict is forcing them to do it. This is 
what they want to do. It is so that they can attract more and 
competitive employees. They have also increased their contribution to 
their charitable foundation--$200 million to a charitable foundation 
that supports early childhood education. That is PNC.
  Navient has 900 or so employees in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and they 
announced that they are giving a $1,000 bonus to their non-officer 
employees--98 percent of their employees. That is not the top brass, 
but everybody else is going to get a $1,000 bonus.
  Customers Bank in Wyomissing, Berks County, PA, announced that as a 
result of the tax reform and the tax relief they are getting, they are 
going to be able to offer people who have a checking account with them 
a higher rate on their deposits. In another benefit for consumers, they 
are going to increase their charitable giving.
  NexTier Bank in Butler County, in Western Pennsylvania, is giving a 
$1,000 bonus to all their employees.
  As to Walmart, I think we all saw that. There are Walmart employees 
in every State of the Union, and there certainly are in Pennsylvania. 
There are over 160 Walmart locations in Pennsylvania. They are giving a 
bonus of up to $1,000, raising their starting wage, expanding their 
paid leave policy, and their adoption assistance program for their 
employees, all in response to the tax relief and reform that they know 
is going to be good for their business, and they already decided to 
make it good for their employees as well.
  That is just a small handful of the companies that I know of in 
Pennsylvania that have made public announcements about this. How many 
more are there across the country? It is a huge number, and it is 
growing rapidly, and it is fantastic.
  I think it is fantastic. I think it is fantastic when the people I 
represent are able to earn more to support their family, get a bigger 
bonus and get a bonus they might not otherwise have gotten at all.
  I know this view is not universally shared. The House Minority Leader

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Pelosi doesn't think very much of this. In fact, she said: ``In terms 
of the bonus that corporate America received versus the crumbs that 
they are giving to workers to kind of put a schmooze on--it's so 
pathetic . . . I think it's insignificant.''
  I have to state that I don't think it is pathetic, and I don't think 
it is insignificant. I think to a family that is struggling, a family 
that is working hard, a family that may be living paycheck-to-paycheck, 
as most families do, these are not crumbs. This makes a difference. For 
the people who wonder, because they heard so much from our colleagues 
on the other side that this is not going to help middle-class families, 
any mystery that people may think surrounds this will be resolved very 
soon because the IRS has already released new withholding guidelines. 
The Treasury has done their evaluation, and they have concluded as the 
Joint Tax Committee concluded, that over 90 percent of all individuals 
and families filing and paying taxes will see a tax cut. So they are 
adjusting the withholding table so that the take-home pay goes up and 
so that the money that workers pay to Uncle Sam goes down.
  Honestly, I have to state that I am convinced that the best in all of 
this is yet to come. The best is yet to come because it is too early 
for us to have yet benefitted from the wave of new capital investment. 
We have made it more affordable for businesses to invest in their 
workers, to invest in their businesses, and to invest here in America 
rather than overseas. We have made that more affordable so more is 
going to happen, and when it happens, people are going to get the 
benefits from the jobs they have to provide those capital goods. Other 
people are going to benefits from jobs that are necessary to operate 
that capital equipment. Wages will rise because workers will become 
more productive. This is what is in store for us, and this is what is 
so exciting.
  It is not just my theorizing on this. Last week the CEO of PNC, Bill 
Demchak, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal. He said:

       For all the investment decisions that companies make, the 
     U.S. just got that much more attractive. . . . It's going to 
     win more than it won before in terms of where people choose 
     to do business activity and invest.

  I couldn't agree more. This is clearly going to be the result. We are 
allowing American businesses to compete and to win in a competitive 
global economy. This is going to increase the supply of capital. It is 
going to increase the productive capacity of the American economy. It 
is going to provide better tools for workers when they have that 
capital that they can work with that makes them more productive. That 
enables them to earn higher wages, and with all the need for more 
workers that this is going to generate, it is going to continue to put 
upward pressure on wages, because that is what companies are going to 
have to do in order to attract and retain the employees they need.
  So I would say that I think we are well on our way to seeing the 
fruits of this reform. I think it is going to be extremely 
constructive. I am thrilled that our legislation has already begun to 
have tangible benefits for the people we represent, and I am convinced 
that the best is yet to come.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.
  Mr. COTTON. Mr. President, it is of the highest importance that we 
reauthorize title VII of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 
especially section 702. It is one of the best tools we have for 
detecting and preventing terrorist attacks against our country, and it 
has a long track record of success.
  It is one reason that Najibullah Zazi today is not a household name, 
but yet just another bin Laden wannabe sitting behind bars. He was 
planning to blow up the New York subway system, but he never got the 
chance because our intelligence community and law enforcement 
professionals stopped him in his tracks by using information collected 
under section 702. That is how vital this program is, and that is why I 
will be voting yes on this legislation.
  That being said, the bill we are voting on today is not my ideal 
legislation. If I had my way, we would be voting on a permanent 
reauthorization with no changes. That was the White House's position 
when I worked together with the administration and introduced a section 
702 extension bill earlier this past summer, and the administration has 
said all along that they wanted a clean and permanent reauthorization.
  The people who rely on this program and know better than anyone just 
how valuable it is believed it was good as is. The way I see it, if the 
threats against our country will not sunset in 6 years, why would we 
sunset this vital program? But I understand we usually have to 
compromise around here. I am glad to see a provision I offered to 
increase the maximum penalty for the misuse of classified information 
included in this bill. So while I worry this bill might make it harder 
for our intelligence community and law enforcement professionals to 
protect our country, I am going to vote yes.
  As a result, you can imagine my surprise as I listened to the 
program's critics. There is a lot of misinformation out there. I want 
to take this opportunity to set a few things straight.
  First off, there is nothing unconstitutional about this program. 
Section 702 targets foreigners on foreign soil--not Americans--and it 
is specifically designed to protect Americans against unreasonable 
searches. You don't have to take my word for it, though. Every district 
court that has looked at this question has found section 702 to be 
  That includes, by the way, the so-called ``about'' collection. If you 
are trying to collect information about a foreign target, and an 
American citizen mentions that target in an email, I would suggest that 
we would want our intelligence community to know about that. Does that 
mean that they incidentally picked up information about American 
citizens? Yes. But let's be frank here. The only way to prevent this 
kind of incidental collection is to prohibit any collection at all. If 
our intelligence community couldn't track an email address or phone 
number simply because they theoretically might pick up information 
about an American citizen, they simply could not do their jobs.
  It is difficult, if not impossible, to tell if many email addresses 
belong to a foreigner just by looking at it. For example, is 
[email protected] an American email address or not? Who knows? Did the 
National Security Agency discontinue its ``about'' collection at one 
point recently? Yes, but to me that is evidence that this program 
works. Contrary to what its critics believe, the NSA voluntarily ceased 
collecting information in the name of protecting privacy. The NSA 
respected the minimization standard imposed by the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Court. The safeguards worked just like they were supposed 
to. This bill says that the NSA can continue so-called ``about'' 
collection only once it gets approval from the FISA Court and from 
  Yes, section 702 has a whole host of safeguards built in to protect 
Americans' privacy, and this bill adds more still. If the FBI wants to 
review information collected under 702 on a U.S. person for a criminal 
investigation that is not related to national security or foreign 
intelligence, it has to get a court order based on probable cause, even 
though the Constitution does not require it. Or if the FBI wants to 
query 702 information, it can do so only under FISA Court-approved 
guidelines. Finally, just to make sure the FBI is following the law, 
this bill requires the DOJ inspector general to check up on the FBI's 
compliance and report back to Congress.
  Finally, the critics say the Attorney General can just sneak past all 
these safeguards by designating an investigation as a domestic crime 
related to national security or a transnational crime. That ignores the 
layers upon layers of oversight we have in place to prevent just that 
kind of abuse. Not only the DOJ inspector general but the FISA court 
and Congress will continue watching the FBI's use of this program, 
keeping guard against such misuse.
  So I find the critics' arguments to be wholly without foundation. 
Section 702 is constitutional and strikes a pretty good balance between 
security and privacy. There is no good reason to let this program 
expire and no good reason to hold this reauthorization up any longer. 
Let's remember, after all, that last year there were two terrorist 
attacks against New York City within 6

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weeks, not to mention a Christmas Eve plot against Pier 39 in San 
Francisco that was disrupted. Also, Admiral Rogers, the Director of the 
National Security Agency, has testified that the intelligence community 
would not have been able to put together its intelligence assessment 
about Russia's interference in our 2016 Presidential campaign without 
this vital program.
  We face a lot of threats. Terrorism, spying, and nuclear 
proliferation are just a few. They are not going away any time soon, 
and neither is the Russian threat of meddling in our politics, either. 
It is past time we gave this tool back to our intelligence community so 
they can continue the hard work of keeping our country safe.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.

                               Tax Reform

  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, when we passed tax reform late last year, 
we knew it would be a win for American workers and for the American 
economy. This win for our workers and families was long overdue after 
so many years of sluggish wage growth.
  Americans will see tax cuts very soon. They will be reflected in 
their paychecks next month. But tax reform is already making a positive 
difference. The response from our job creators--both small and large 
job creators--has been overwhelming. Some 164 companies so far, 
spanning industry sectors and geographical boundaries, have announced 
employee bonuses, higher minimum wages, better benefits, new jobs, 
charitable deductions, charitable donations, and new investments. 
According to Americans for Tax Reform, well more than 2 million 
Americans will benefit from these bonuses. The National Federation of 
Independent Business says that the tax cuts for our small businesses--
the bread and butter of our economy--will amount to hundreds of 
millions of dollars.
  I want to take a moment today to highlight how some of these job 
creators are giving back to the hard-working citizens of my State. They 
include Mississippi's single largest private employer, Walmart, which 
has announced that it is raising its starting wage rate for hourly 
employees to $11. Walmart is also expanding its maternity and parental 
leave benefits, as well as giving employee bonuses, as a result of the 
new tax bill. BancorpSouth, headquartered in my hometown of Tupelo, MS, 
has announced that it will give back to employees through pay raises or 
bonuses. In fact, BancorpSouth says it plans to invest more than $10 
million into the employees who work in its 234 locations across 
Mississippi and seven other Southern States. Another bank based in 
Tupelo, MS, Renasant, has announced that it will invest its tax savings 
in its 2,000 employees.
  Nationally, AT&T is giving $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 employees. So 
are Bank of America, American Airlines, Boeing, and Comcast. And I 
could go on and on and on with bonuses benefiting hundreds of thousands 
of employees.
  Other Americans will get new jobs. Last month, television station 
WLOX on the gulf coast of Mississippi reported that the Half Shell 
Oyster House plans to use its tax savings to open new restaurants and 
hire more employees. Isn't this what we want? Isn't this what we 
predicted? And isn't it wonderful to see this come to fruition? Kevin 
Fish, a co-owner, told the news station: ``We've passed up on 
opportunities in the past that we wouldn't have passed up on had we had 
this tax structure.''
  Millions of Americans might also see lower energy bills from 
investor-owned utilities. Utility companies across the country, 
including in Mississippi, are discussing how the law can help them 
lower energy costs for our consumers.
  The message is clear across my State, across every State, and across 
this country: The more money our job creators can save and the more 
money they don't have to send to Washington in the first place, the 
more they can invest in the future of their businesses and the well-
being of their employees. And this is proving true every day and will 
continue. These are the opportunities we do not want our job creators 
to pass up. With every bonus, every pay raise, every expanded benefit, 
every lower energy bill, American families will have more money in 
their budgets to spend on the things they need most.
  Thank you to the leadership of the President and the leadership of 
the House and Senate for giving this outstanding benefit to the 
families, the workers, and the job creators of the United States of 
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor, and 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. HEINRICH. 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. HEINRICH. Mr. President, the Senate will be voting soon on a bill 
to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act. Most Americans likely do not 
recognize the name of the bill, but they probably know what this bill 
addresses--our government's surveillance of communications.
  As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have learned a 
great deal about our post-9/11 surveillance laws and how they have been 
implemented, and I have determined that there are reforms that need to 
be made to the FISA Amendments Act--specifically section 702--before we 
renew this law.
  The single biggest flaw in section 702 is how it has been 
interpreted. The language of the law--the collection of foreign 
intelligence of U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside 
the United States--anticipates that incidental or accidental collection 
of Americans' emails or even phone calls could occur, but under the 
FISA Amendments Act as written, there is nothing to prohibit the 
intelligence community from searching through a pile of communications 
collected under this statute to deliberately search for the phone calls 
or the emails of specific Americans. This is not what Congress intended 
when the law was written, and now we are being asked to vote on this 
law at the last minute with not a single amendment allowed.
  Many of us have called this the backdoor search loophole since it 
allows the government to search for Americans' communications without a 
warrant--let me repeat that--without a warrant. The USA Rights Act, of 
which I am a cosponsor, includes a fix to this loophole. It also 
includes other key reforms to the statute that I support. But that 
commonsense bill is not the one on the floor today. The bill before us 
today would actually take us backward. It doesn't require a warrant to 
search for Americans' communications. It makes it quite easy to resume 
the ``about'' collections on Americans--a practice that the government 
has literally abandoned. It grants new authorities to allow section 702 
data to be used in domestic criminal prosecutions of American citizens.
  I strongly believe that the Federal Government needs a way to monitor 
foreign communications to ensure that we remain a step ahead of the 
terrorists and those who would threaten our national security. The FISA 
Amendments Act has been beneficial to the protection of our national 
security. I don't question the value of the foreign intelligence that 
this law provides. I have seen it with my own eyes. But I also strongly 
believe that we need to balance the civil liberties embodied in our 
Constitution with our national security imperatives. It is the 
responsibility of Congress to find that balance. The bill that is 
before us today could come closer to that standard if we improve it 
through the adoption of amendments that I and my colleagues would offer 
if we had the opportunity. But this bill is being fast-tracked, and we 
are left with only the choice of an up-or-down vote.
  The American people deserve better than the legislation before us 
today. The American people deserve better than warrantless wiretapping.
  I urge my colleagues to consider the gravity of the issues at hand 
and to oppose reauthorization until we can have a real opportunity for 
debate and reform.
  Thank you, 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. WYDEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.

[[Page S237]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I believe the American people should be 
deeply concerned about the vote the Senate took yesterday to invoke 
cloture; in effect, ending real debate and preventing the Senate from 
considering any amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act 
  This isn't what is called regular order. This isn't how the Senate 
ought to operate. In fact, it is not even how the Senate has handled 
surveillance bills in the past. Even in the weeks after the horrendous 
attacks of 9/11, the Senate considered amendments to the PATRIOT Act. 
In 2008, when the Senate first considered section 702, the Foreign 
Intelligence Surveillance Act, there were, in fact, amendments.
  Now debate has been cut off, and no Senator--neither a Democrat nor a 
Republican--is going to be allowed to offer an amendment. What the 
country is going to be left with is a deeply flawed bill that, in a 
number of ways, is actually worse than current law.
  I want to talk first about whose rights are at stake. We are talking 
primarily, at this part of my address, about Americans who talk to 
foreigners overseas--law-abiding Americans whose communications can get 
swept up under this law. They could be, for example, American 
businesspeople--perhaps somebody working for a tech company in Colorado 
or Oregon or perhaps somebody working for a steel company in the 
Midwest. These are American businesspeople--law-abiding people--talking 
to a foreign contact. They could be swept up under this law or we could 
be talking about first-, second-, or third-generation Americans talking 
to family and friends still overseas. Maybe they are catching up. Maybe 
they are talking about kids and grandkids. Maybe they are just talking 
about their hopes and aspirations, but they are still law-abiding 
Americans who could get swept up in this bill. We could be talking 
about American journalists covering foreign stories. We could be 
talking about U.S. servicemembers talking to foreign friends they made 
while deployed. Try to get your arms around that one.
  I think it is particularly unfortunate because one of the things I am 
proudest of is I was able to ensure that Americans overseas--
servicemembers--would have their privacy rights protected. We have a 
law passed to do that.
  I remember George W. Bush had reservations about that proposal I made 
to protect the privacy rights of our law-abiding servicemembers 
overseas. He originally said he might veto the bill. In the end, it was 
in his press release saying how great it was, and I think it was 
because nobody had really talked about the rights of these wonderful 
men and women who wear the uniform in the United States.
  We did it right back when George W. Bush was President. We protected 
the privacy rights of our servicemembers overseas. Now we are talking 
about walking back the rights of those U.S. servicemembers if they are 
talking to foreign friends they made while deployed, and we could be 
talking about American teachers and researchers seeking information 
from foreigners.
  Now this body isn't going to have a chance to even consider reforms 
that might protect the constitutional rights of these Americans--the 
businessperson, the servicemember, the first-, second-, or third-
generation American immigrant--because what has happened is the Senate 
is being forced to vote on a reauthorization bill without any public 
discussion about any kind of alternatives. The one committee 
consideration--what is called a markup--occurred entirely in secret. 
That is public law being debated in secret.
  Yesterday, the Senate discussed whether to cut off debate on a bill 
that authorizes vast, unchecked surveillance powers in less time than 
it takes to shop for the week's groceries. So now, with no amendments 
possible, there is not going to be a single opportunity for the public 
to see its representatives explain why they are supporting or why they 
are rejecting these key reforms.
  You can only conclude from this that opponents of reforms were just 
scared. They were frightened. They just didn't want to have them 
debated in the open. They must be worried that the more Americans 
understand about the program--and the more they hear about commonsense, 
bipartisan proposals to fix it--the more the public is going to say we 
can do better. We can do better than the status quo because the public, 
once they have the benefit of a little transparency and a little open 
debate, what I have seen--and I just finished my 865th open-to-all town 
meeting at home in Oregon. Once you talk to folks at home about these 
issues, they understand that security and liberty aren't mutually 
exclusive; that sensible policies get you both and not-so-sensible 
policies and failure to look at the issues really get less of both.
  My view is the Senate let down the American people yesterday. In my 
view, we have a solemn obligation to deliberate, to consider 
amendments, and to vote up or down. I think that is really what the 
Senate is all about.
  One of the worst arguments for jamming this bill through without 
amendments was that somehow this law was going away. It just wouldn't 
be around. It was expiring.
  First, Members who wanted to debate reforms were prepared to go to 
this floor many months ago. Nothing stood in the way of a floor debate 
last year. Even today, there is no reason to rush all this through. 
Absolutely nothing prevents the Congress from extending 702 authorities 
for a week or two to allow us to carry out our constitutional 
responsibilities. By the way, the Director of National Intelligence has 
said publicly and on the record that its authorities continue until 
April. I was stunned.

  I had Senators on both sides of the aisle whom I like very much--
good, dedicated Senators--saying: Oh, my goodness, we have to act. If 
we don't act in the next few days, oh, my goodness, powerful tools we 
need to stop the terrorists--and I will not take a backseat to anybody 
in terms of stopping the terrorists--they are going to be gone. That is 
just not true.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
an article with the statement from the Office of National Intelligence, 
where the Director said on the record that its authorities would 
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                [From The New York Times, Dec. 6, 2017]

 Warrantless Surveillance Can Continue Even if Law Expires, Officials 

                          (By Charlie Savage)

       Washington.--The Trump administration has decided that the 
     National Security Agency and the F.B.I. can lawfully keep 
     operating their warrantless surveillance program even if 
     Congress fails to extend the law authorizing it before an 
     expiration date of New Year's Eve, according to American 
       National security officials have implored Congress for the 
     past year and a half to extend the legal basis for the 
     program, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, before it 
     lapses at the end of the month. They portrayed such a bill as 
     the ``top legislative priority'' for keeping the country 
       But with Congress focused on passing a major tax cut and 
     divided over what changes, if any, to make to the 
     surveillance program, lawmakers may miss that deadline. 
     Hedging against that risk, executive branch lawyers have now 
     concluded that the government could lawfully continue to spy 
     under the program through late April without new legislation.
       Intelligence officials nonetheless remain intent on getting 
     lawmakers to pass a durable extension of Section 702 by the 
     end of the month--warning that even a stopgap short-term 
     extension of several months, as some lawmakers have proposed, 
     would risk throwing the program into a crisis in the spring.
       ``We fully expect Congress to reauthorize this critical 
     statute by the end of the year,'' said Brian Hale, a 
     spokesman for the Office of the Director of National 
     Intelligence. ``Not doing so would be unthinkable in light of 
     the considerable value Section 702 provides in protecting the 
       The expiring law grew out of the Bush administration's 
     once-secret Stellarwind warrantless surveillance program 
     after the Sept. 11 attacks. After it came to light, Congress 
     enacted the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to legalize a form of 
     the program.
       Under Section 702, the N.S.A. and the F.B.I. may collect 
     from domestic companies like AT&T and Google the phone calls, 
     emails, texts and other electronic messages of foreigners 
     abroad without a warrant--even when they talk with Americans. 
     The program has expanded to a broad array of foreign 
     intelligence purposes, not just counterterrorism.
       If Congress fails to reauthorize the law this month, Mr. 
     Hale acknowledged that the government believes it can keep 
     the program going for months. Its reasoning centers on a 
     legal complexity in how the program works: Under the law, 
     about once a year, the secretive Foreign Intelligence 
     Surveillance Court

[[Page S238]]

     sets rules for the program and authorizes it to operate for 
     12 months.
       The court last issued a one-year certification on April 26. 
     That matters because a little-noticed section of the FISA 
     Amendments Act says that orders issued under Section 702 
     ``shall continue in effect until the date of the 
       Mr. Hale said the provision, which is recorded in federal 
     statute books as a ``transition procedures'' note 
     accompanying the main text of the law, makes it ``very 
     clear'' that ``any existing order will continue in effect for 
     a short time even if Congress doesn't act to reauthorize the 
     law in a timely fashion.''
       Given that conclusion, the government is making no plans to 
     immediately turn off the program on New Year's Day, no matter 
     what happens in Congress, according to a United States 
     official familiar with the Section 702 program who spoke on 
     the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic.
       The disclosure has significant ramifications for the debate 
     over the program.
       Congressional leaders have discussed including an extension 
     of the program in other must-pass legislation, like a 
     spending bill to keep the government from shutting down. But 
     lawmakers will face less pressure to jam through such a move, 
     short-circuiting a full and open debate over reform 
     proposals, if the alternative is not an immediate termination 
     of the collecting of intelligence authorized by the law.
       Little consensus exists in Congress about what, if any, 
     changes to make to the law as part of extending it. Lawmakers 
     have submitted legislation spanning the gamut from making the 
     law permanent without changes to imposing significant new 
     limits to safeguard the privacy rights of Americans whose 
     communications get swept up in the program, as well as a 
     range of intermediary proposals.
       One key disagreement centers on what limits, if any, to 
     impose on how government officials may search for, gain 
     access to or use in court information about Americans that 
     gets swept into the warrantless surveillance program. Some 
     lawmakers want to impose a broad provision forcing officials 
     to get a warrant before they may query the repository about 
     an American. Some want a more limited requirement that 
     officials get a court's permission to gain access to the 
     results of such a query if it is for a criminal investigation 
     but not a national security one. Some want to impose no new 
       Another major issue confronting lawmakers is what to say, 
     if anything, about the N.S.A.'s old practice of collecting, 
     from network switches on the internet's backbone, 
     international emails and other such messages that mention a 
     foreigner who is a target of surveillance but are neither to 
     nor from that person. The N.S.A. recently halted that 
     practice but wants to retain the flexibility to turn it back 
     on; some bills would codify a ban on it, and some would not.
       The question of a Section 702 overhaul, and trade-offs 
     between national security powers and privacy protections, has 
     scrambled the usual party lines. Representative Robert W. 
     Goodlatte of Virginia, the Republican chairman of the 
     Judiciary Committee, has warned that legislation whose 
     changes fall short of a compromise bill that he worked out 
     with Democrats on his committee is unlikely to pass the 
       In an interview, Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, 
     declined to comment on the government's theory, but said he 
     was open to making it possible to have a full and open debate 
     over the proposed changes to the surveillance law early next 
     year if time runs out this month.
       ``We've seen this movie before: wait until the last minute, 
     and then say, 'crowded congressional calendar, dangerous 
     world, we've just got to go along with it,'' Mr. Wyden said. 
     ``Anything now that creates an opportunity for several months 
     of real debate, I'll listen to.''
       Either way, the United States official said the executive 
     branch and the courts would still need a durable new version 
     of the law well before the late-April deadline. The problem, 
     the official said, is that it will take a significant amount 
     of time to develop new procedures based on the new law, 
     submit them to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, 
     make changes the court wants and then work with 
     communications companies to implement the new certifications.
       Mr. Hale declined to comment on those specifics, but said 
     that a gap in the surveillance program's legal authorization 
     would generate uncertainty.
       ``So while the orders would be in effect for a short time 
     after the end of the year, the fact is that we would need to 
     be planning for the end of the program,'' Mr. Hale said, 
     ``and that cannot be done in a matter of days--to effect that 
     takes some time, and is not like turning on or off a light 
       Planning to turn off the Section 702 program, the other 
     official said, would include steps to mitigate that change as 
     much as possible, including by systematically going through 
     the list of more than 100,000 foreigners abroad who are being 
     targeted under the program and triaging which are the most 
     critical, then developing lengthy packages of information to 
     submit to the surveillance court to seek individualized 
     orders to wiretap them.
       But because of the resources such an effort would require 
     and the higher legal standard the government would need to be 
     able to meet, surveillance would ultimately cease on most of 
     the Section 702 targets, the official added.

  Mr. WYDEN. Thank you, Mr. President.
  Despite yesterday's vote, I regret to have to say I am going to have 
to oppose this legislation's final passage. My view is, if this bill 
does not go forward now, it is possible to get Democrats and 
Republicans back to work together to ensure there is a meaningful 
debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate and that this is done with ample 
time to meet this window that the Office of National Intelligence has 
talked about publicly, but if that doesn't happen, the Senate has 
denied itself the opportunity to even attempt to fix this badly flawed 
  This surveillance authority allows the government to sweep up some 
untold amount of law-abiding Americans' communications. The government 
says, of course, that its targets are terrorists, and this is about 
keeping Americans safe from terrorism. I don't take a backseat to 
anybody in terms of fighting terrorist threats.
  Having served on the Intelligence Committee for some time now, I can 
tell all Members and the public there is no question that the terrorist 
threat is real and that there are significant numbers of people who 
represent a very real threat to the well-being of our country.
  Now, if somebody says, We have to keep Americans safe from terrorism, 
I am all in. I would submit that I don't know of a single U.S. 
Senator--not 1 out of 100--who is not all in on this fight against 
terrorism, but that is not what the law says. The law says that, under 
section 702, the government can collect, without a warrant, the 
communications of foreigners ``to acquire foreign intelligence 
  Here is how the law defines ``foreign intelligence information.'' It 
is information that relates to the conduct of the ``foreign affairs of 
the United States.'' That is just about any piece of information about 
a foreign country.
  Who can the government target to get all of this information? Anybody 
``expected to possess, receive, and/or is likely to communicate'' that 
information. So if you unpack that, you don't have to be a terrorist 
suspect or any kind of threat to the United States to be a target under 
section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The 
government just has to think you know something the government wants to 
  That is why so many Americans--Democrats, Republicans, and 
Independents--are worried about getting their private communications 
swept up. They are law-abiding people, as I have been saying--
servicemembers, businesspeople, Americans who, on a regular basis, talk 
to friends, families, and contacts overseas. They are worried because, 
based on what the law says, which I have just read, those foreigners 
could be the targets, and Americans' communications could be collected 
by the government.
  Now, for years, I and other Members of the Congress--both Houses, 
both parties--tried to at least get an estimate of how many law-abiding 
Americans' communications have been getting swept up. As recently as 
April 2017, the Director of National Intelligence said the public was 
going to get some kind of estimate, but in June, the Director suddenly 
changed course and told the public and the Congress: You are not 
getting anything. What that means is no one knows the size of the 
database. Nobody knows how many Americans' private communications are 
sitting there, waiting to be searched and possibly used against those 
  Just yesterday, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board was 
invoked by those opposing reforms, but what that Board had to say about 
the sheer volume of Americans' communications being swept up is 
actually, in their words, ``too much expansion in the collection of 
U.S. persons' communications or the uses to which those communications 
are put may push the program over the [constitutional] line.''
  So here they were being cited, in effect, as supporters for the 
status quo when I just read you their concern about the status quo.
  This is why today section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Act is an end-run on the Constitution, and it is what the 
Presiding Officer and other Members of this body--both Democrats and 
Republicans--have wanted to change.

[[Page S239]]

  This end-run is not just about the collection. It is that, after all 
the communications of our people are swept up, the government can go 
searching for individual Americans through all that data. They don't 
have to be suspected of anything. The government just has to decide on 
its own that your private communications might reveal some intelligence 
or some evidence of a crime, and like the collection of the 
communications, that search can take place without a warrant--no 
warrant on the collection of Americans' communications, no warrant on 
searching for individual Americans. This is a case of two wrongs 
certainly not making a right.
  What the Senate did last night was prevent any debate on this basic 
constitutional question. The USA Rights Act, introduced by 15 Senators 
of both parties, would have required a warrant for those searches of 
  Our colleagues Senator Leahy and Senator Lee have legislation 
requiring a warrant--a Democrat and a Republican. Other Members have 
had their own proposals. None of them are going to get heard by the 
  We had a chance to consider amendments. We could have fixed the 
underlying bill, which doesn't require any warrants for any searches 
for Americans. Let me just repeat that. The underlying bill does not 
require any warrants for any searches for Americans--none, not in 
intelligence cases, not in criminal cases. Warrantless fishing 
expeditions for Americans can just go on and on and on.
  The bill's so-called reform only applies to the government's access 
to the results of the searches, but it really doesn't even do that. It 
only kicks in if the government is already well down the road of 
investigating somebody.
  This means the bill provides more rights to criminal suspects than to 
innocent Americans. Think about what that is going to mean in Texas or 
Oregon or North Carolina or anywhere else in the country. As I have 
described it, this bill provides more rights to criminal suspects than 
to innocent Americans.
  It gets worse because the bill is even narrower than that. It imposes 
no limitations at all if the government determines the search relates 
to national security or to a criminal matter that has anything at all 
to do with national security. Why are opponents of reform happy now? 
Because their bill does nothing.
  I went and read the Director of National Intelligence's statistics 
for 2016. The CIA and the National Security Agency conducted over 5,000 
warrantless searches for Americans, according to this material. It 
doesn't include the FBI, whose searches are supposedly too numerous to 
even count. It doesn't include communications records, which number in 
the tens of thousands.
  How many times does the government encounter a situation in which, 
under this bill, there would even be the possibility of needing a 
warrant? Exactly one--that is right--one among the thousands and 
thousands of warrantless searches for Americans. Even that is an 
overstatement because that one instance in 2016 could have occurred 
prior to a predicated investigation; in which case, it, too, would be 
exempt from warrant requirements.
  Basically, this bill we will vote on provides an easy-to-read roadmap 
to the government to make sure it never has to get a warrant for 
anything. Meanwhile, the thousands of Americans subject to warrantless 
backdoor searches each year have no protections at all.
  Had there been amendments, I think there would have been the familiar 
argument against requiring a warrant for searches of Americans' private 
communications. We would have heard that section 702 of the Foreign 
Intelligence Surveillance Act is necessary to connect the dots between 
suspects and terrorists.
  Here is why that is misleading. Opponents of reform like to talk 
about a tip to the government that somebody is acting strange on a 
bridge. They say this is a situation where the government needs to go 
directly to reading the private communications of this person. That is 
just not how the Constitution works.
  Think about it. Would you want the content of your private 
communications searched, accessed, and read just because somebody has a 
slight suspicion about you?
  Here is the misleading part. Opponents of reform say that, unless the 
government searches for and reads the emails, it just can't connect the 
dots to the terrorists. That is just false. The government already has 
the authority to get this information and in a less intrusive way.
  Some may remember just a few years ago there was a debate about 
ending metadata--the bulk collection of millions of phone records of 
law-abiding Americans. What remained at the end of that debate was the 
authority of the government to go get the phone and email records of 
anyone as long as the records were relevant to an investigation. If it 
is an emergency, the government can get those records immediately 
without having to go to the court first.
  I want to emphasize that because it is something I have felt very 
strongly about. I wrote that section, section 102 of the USA Freedom 
Act, because I wanted to make sure it was clear in this debate about 
finding policies where security and liberty are mutually exclusive, 
where we have both, that the strongest possible message was sent; that 
if the government believes there is an emergency, the government can 
move immediately--immediately--to get the information it needs and then 
come back later and settle up with the court.
  When I have the opportunity to be in the Oval Office, which I have 
had several times--it is a wonderful honor and privilege given by the 
people of Oregon to pursue these issues--I will say what I say to the 
President, not what the President says back because I think those are 
private communications of the President. At one point in this debate, I 
said to President Obama: If you and your staff feel the current 
emergency provisions are not adequate, if you think they are not strong 
enough, I want to know about it because I will work with you to make 
sure they do the job.
  That is because when there is an emergency and the security and well-
being of the American people is on the line, the government gets a 
chance to move quickly, come back, and settle later with the court. I 
have included that in essentially all the legislation that I have 
authored. This provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act 
is what allows the government to connect the dots without going 
directly to the content of private communications. That is how our 
system is supposed to work. The government gets less intrusive 
information on Americans, using a lower standard, first.
  But what if the government needs the content of communications 
urgently? What if the government sees an immediate threat and believes 
it has no choice but to read those communications right away? As I 
said, that is why we had the amendment that I have described in USA 
Freedom Act, and it is why we said in our amendment to section 702--in 
this proposal--that we would also have an emergency exception. Again, 
the USA Freedom Act has an emergency exception, and our reform to 
section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has an 
emergency exception. In this case, under our proposal, in an emergency, 
the government can search for and read those communications immediately 
and seek a warrant later. Our proposal also includes other exceptions 
to the warrant requirement, such as a hostage situation, where a search 
might help save someone.
  I bring this up only by way of saying that reformers have been very 
clear. When the government has an emergency that is defined by the 
government--not by somebody else who might conceivably not have all the 
information--what we did in the USA Freedom Act is what we are doing in 
section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is 
protecting the American people in an emergency.
  Now, there are other facts about warrantless backdoor searches that 
opponents of a warrant requirement omit from public argument. For years 
after the original passage of section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Act, the CIA and the National Security Agency didn't have 
the authority to conduct these searches. What is more, the Bush 
administration never asked the FISA Court, or the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Act Court, for those authorities. The Bush administration 
didn't think it was a problem

[[Page S240]]

that the CIA and the NSA couldn't conduct warrantless backdoor searches 
of Americans. But now people act like the warrantless searches are 
somehow inseparable from the broader program. They pretend that we 
really can't have an effective foreign intelligence collection program 
unless you just make sure you are violating the rights of Americans.
  This week should have been an opportunity to discuss the facts of how 
this bill could have been improved. It should have been an opportunity 
to clarify that Americans don't have to choose between security and 
liberty. It should have been the Senate's chance to push back against 
scare tactics and fearmongering and to lay out for the public what the 
government does and doesn't need to protect us. Instead, we get a bill 
that isn't necessary for our security and does nothing to protect our 
  There are other important amendments that are not going to be 
considered. One relates to what is known as ``abouts'' collection, a 
process in which two innocent Americans could have their communications 
swept up if they just write an email referencing a foreign target. We 
are talking communications entirely among individuals who themselves 
are not targets and are, potentially, all Americans. The whole concept 
is just contrary to the Fourth Amendment. As the privacy board 
concluded, there was ``nothing comparable'' in the law.
  ``From a legal standpoint, under the 4th Amendment, the government 
may not, without a warrant, open and read letters sent through the mail 
in order to acquire those that contain particular information. 
Likewise, the government cannot listen to telephone conversations, 
without probable cause about one of the callers or about the telephone, 
in order to keep recordings of those conversations that contain 
particular content.''
  That is the quote from the privacy board, and we sure heard on the 
floor sponsors of the status quo, in my view, suggest that the privacy 
board had a different view of what they were up to.
  From a practical standpoint, this form of collection was so 
problematic that the government itself was forced to shut it down. Now, 
the underlying bill says: Go ahead and start it up, as long as you tell 
Congress. Congress has to be told anyway.
  Based on the bill before us, if Congress does what it does best--
which is nothing--the government can just go ahead.
  Again, I don't think that is what the public thinks the Senate should 
be about. If the government ever wants to get back into the business of 
this collection, it can come to the Congress and get it authorized. 
If their argument wins the day, so be it, but preemptively writing into 
black letter law this form of collection, sight unseen, means that this 
Senate is surrendering our constitutional responsibilities.

  This is one of the examples, the ``abouts'' collection, which I 
mentioned, of why this bill actually is a retreat from current law. 
Congress has never approved ``abouts'' collection. It wasn't in the 
2008 bill creating the law or the first reauthorization of section 702. 
It happened because of a secret interpretation of law, and most of 
Congress knew nothing about it. But now, for the first time, when the 
government itself has suspended it--largely because they know it had 
been abused--what we are doing is essentially setting up what amounts 
to a fast-track process to write it back into the law. It defines 
``abouts'' collection broadly--broader even than the government--and it 
invites its resumption.
  The Senate also is not going to get to consider an amendment limiting 
how information on Americans can be used against Americans. The bill 
allows unlimited secret use of section 702 information--all collected 
without a warrant--in any investigation or in any administrative or 
civil procedures against Americans. Now, Americans understand how the 
government can thoroughly disrupt their lives without ever charging 
them with a crime, particularly if they are doing it based on secret 
  But even when it comes to using 702 information as evidence in 
criminal proceedings against Americans, the bill provides no real 
protections. All the government needs is for the Attorney General to 
determine that the criminal proceedings relate to national security or 
involve a set of crimes that have nothing at all to do with national 
security. There is a catch-all category called ``transnational crime.'' 
Now, I have tried for some time to get the government to tell me what 
this ``transnational crime'' is. I haven't gotten much of a response. 
In any case, the underlying bill here specifically says that the 
Attorney General's decisions cannot be challenged in court.
  So there you are. If the Attorney General decides that the crime you 
are being charged with somehow relates to national security or is a 
``transnational crime,'' that decision by the Attorney General is 
really pretty much sacred. You can go to jail without ever being 
allowed to challenge the government's use of section 702 information 
against you--information obtained without a warrant and potentially 
uncovered as a result of warrantless searches specifically conducted to 
find your communications and communications about you.
  The ways in which the government could potentially use this 
information, collected without a warrant to investigate and prosecute 
Americans and those in the United States, are limitless--immigration 
status, recreational drugs, back taxes. The list goes on and on. I 
don't think Americans think that is how the system is supposed to work. 
Is that what a warrantless foreign intelligence surveillance bill is 
supposed to do? I don't think so--immigration status, recreational 
drugs, back taxes--but this bill allows it.
  The bill leaves in place other problems that affect our rights. One 
of them is the issue of what is called parallel construction. That is a 
lot of fancy legalese that says that, even if information against an 
American originally comes from section 702, if the government 
subsequently constructs a case from other collection, it never has to 
tell that American that it used section 702. My bill, with Senator Paul 
and 13 other Senators, would have fixed that.
  The bill we are voting on shortly, without any debate on amendments, 
also leaves in place a big catch-22 that prevents anybody from ever 
challenging section 702 in court. Section 702 collection is secret, so 
almost no one can prove definitively that they personally were swept 
up. That means it is also almost impossible to get standing to go to 
court to challenge section 702. I am sure it pleases opponents of 
reform, but it means that section 702 isn't going to be part of any 
court review process where both sides of the adversarial system get 
  Fixing this problem is not, as so many in the House misleadingly 
said, giving rights to terrorists. That was part of the fear-mongering 
that went on. This is simply saying that section 702 is not exempt from 
constitutional challenges that apply to every single Federal statute--
by the way, the hallmark of our constitutional system.
  There are other problems that could have been fixed with amendments. 
I am particularly troubled by the fact that the underlying bill doesn't 
fix the problem of reverse targeting. This is where the government 
targets a foreigner overseas when it is really interested in collecting 
the communications of an American without a warrant. Right now, the law 
as written allows this collection to continue without a warrant, 
unless, in effect, the only purpose of the collection is to obtain the 
American's communications. My concern is that, if the government has 
even the slightest interest in the foreign target, it is not going to 
seek a warrant, regardless of the intensity of the government's 
interest in the American on the other end of the phone or the email. 
This could mean, again, frequent, ongoing searches of the American's 
communications. It could mean the use of the American's communications 
in investigations and criminal proceedings. There is a solution to 
this, and we proposed it; that is, if a significant purpose for 
targeting a foreigner is to get an American's communications, the 
government would need a warrant--pretty simple. I note that the 
Presiding Officer of the Senate is supportive of reforms and our 
bipartisan coalition. I very much appreciate that.
  Just think about that. We had a solution to the fact that reverse 
targeting had been abused. We simply said, if a significant purpose of 
the government for targeting a foreigner is to get an

[[Page S241]]

American's communications, the government would need a warrant--and, of 
course, we have an emergency exception in the bill as well.
  The bill also doesn't prevent the government from directing service 
providers to modify or weaken encryption without any court oversight. I 
am telling you that this problem has been underappreciated. As we all 
know, there is an ongoing debate about whether the government should be 
able to mandate backdoor weaknesses in encryption. I believe this kind 
of authority is just a loser all around. I think Americans, if you 
weaken strong encryption, will be less safe. Certainly, parents who are 
concerned about a youngster don't want to weaken the protection in 
their smartphone for the tracker so they can keep tabs on their 
kids. If the government is allowed to mandate backdoor weaknesses in 
our products, I believe we will be less safe, we will have less 
liberty, and it will be a big loser for many of our high-skilled, high-
wage companies.

  I have already announced that, if there is any effort to weaken 
strong encryption, I will do everything in my power to block that 
legislation because it is a loser from a security standpoint, it is a 
loser from a liberty standpoint, and it will be bad news for a lot of 
our companies that pay good wages for the high skills of Americans, but 
even those who argue that the government should be able to mandate 
backdoor weaknesses in encryption assure us it is only going to happen 
if the court orders it. But under section 702, the government could 
direct a service provider to do that without any court awareness at 
all. And, of course, Congress might not know either.
  Again, we would have liked to have fixed this here on the floor. The 
bipartisan legislation I have with Senator Paul requires that the FISA 
Court approve the kind of technical assistance the government is 
seeking from providers, which would also result in the Congress finding 
out. This bill we will be voting on soon doesn't do that. As a result, 
the court and the Congress could end up totally in the dark about an 
issue that I think is absolutely central to the security and well-being 
of our people in the 21st century.
  The bill also provides no clarification on the question of whether 
section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act can be used to 
collect communications the government knows are entirely domestic. Put 
your arms around that. This law is called the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Act, and we can't even get a straight answer from the 
government's Director of National Intelligence about whether the law 
can be used to collect communications the government knows are entirely 
  When I first asked the head of national intelligence whether 702 
provided this authority, he said in a public hearing: No. That would be 
against the law.
  Then, apparently, he told folks in the news media that he was 
answering a different question than the one I asked.
  Once again, I asked the Director of National Intelligence to answer 
the question I had asked, at which point he then wrote and said that 
the whole thing was classified.
  This is the essence of what is secret law. I believe it is the kind 
of thing that erodes trust in the government and in the intelligence 
community specifically.
  Had we been able to have a real debate, I would have offered an 
amendment that would, in effect, write in the black letter law what the 
head of national intelligence told me at first when I asked him ``Could 
FISA be used to collect wholly domestic communications?'' before all 
this George Orwell stuff. The head of national intelligence said: No, 
FISA could not be used to collect wholly personal communications. That 
answer would have reassured the American people.
  After all of this back-and-forth and the bizarre situation where the 
Director of National Intelligence says the whole thing is classified 
after he has already given an answer in public, now the public isn't 
going to have an opportunity to see its representatives address this 
issue or take a position.
  Supporters of the bill point to provisions related to oversight of 
section 702. Here is how inadequate those are. Yesterday, we again 
heard about the privacy board. Right now, the privacy board is 
restricted to reviewing counterterrorism programs. Most intelligence 
programs aren't neatly categorized that way. They are broader than 
that. And, of course, the effect on Americans' privacy has nothing to 
do with whether a collection program is about terrorism or anything 
else. This bill leaves in place completely arbitrary limits on the 
privacy board and their ability to oversee the country's intelligence 
  The bill does not meaningfully strengthen the FISA Court in a way 
that I think is very basic. There are people with top security 
clearances who appear before the court and provide the only alternative 
view in what is otherwise basically the government's show. The FISA 
Court has often gone years without addressing serious legal and 
constitutional questions. Sometimes, the court never gets to them. 
Right now, these sort of friends of the court are only heard from when 
the court invites them. But imagine if these folks who have top 
security clearances were informed about what was going on and could 
raise issues with the court whenever they felt it was important. This 
would not hinder the FISA Court, but it would greatly improve the 
chance that the court would consider serious issues earlier. Once 
again, no reform.
  There are also basic principles of transparency that are ignored in 
the bill. Right now, the CIA and the NSA are obligated to inform the 
public how many searches of Americans they conduct. The FBI is not. I 
don't see a good argument why Congress shouldn't change that. The 
American people deserve to know how often the CIA and the NSA conduct 
warrantless searches looking for information on them. They deserve to 
know how often the FBI does so, particularly because the FBI conducts 
searches for evidence of a crime as well as for intelligence.
  I believe I have outlined the faults of the bill. This is not reform. 
It is not even business as usual; it is a retreat. It is, in fact, 
worse than just extending the program's business as usual because, for 
the first time, it writes into black letter law the problematic 
practices that I have outlined. There is not real oversight. There is 
not transparency. That is what the public demands. That is what I heard 
people asking for at the townhall meetings I held last weekend in 
Oregon. Americans still have a lot of unanswered questions about the 
  There are certainly many Members of Congress who share my concerns 
who have devoted much of their career to ensuring that Americans have 
security and liberty. I want to especially express my appreciation to 
Senators Paul and Lee. They have been tireless champions. Chairman 
Leahy has led on this critical matter for decades. Senator Heinrich, my 
seatmate on the Intelligence Committee, is one of this body's rising 
stars because he is willing to dig deeply into the issues. In the 
House, 183 Members voted for the most comprehensive section 702 reform 
bill, the House version of the USA RIGHTS Act. As we saw last night--
and the President of the Senate and I were involved in a lot of those 
deliberations down here in the well of the Senate--this was a very 
close vote.
  A lot of people say: Well, the reformers are going to say their 
piece, and they are going to get 6, 8, 10 votes and the like.
  I think, last night, we really brought home what I hear Americans 
say, Democrats, Republicans--by the way, many Independents--who have 
questions about the way the government works and want to see their 
liberties protected in a way that also keeps them safe, and a big group 
of Members in the other body. And last night, a big group of Senators 
said: What a quaint idea. Let's have the U.S. Senate be the U.S. 
Senate. Let's have a few amendments.
  It was communicated to the leaders. I want to thank Senator Schumer 
for making it clear that he thought that some amendments would make 
this a better, fuller, and more complete debate. I think it is very 
unfortunate, with the fact that there are so many important issues 
here--it is an important bill. I hope people have seen that--having 
spent a lot of time on these issues over the years, I think we really 
need to have more time spent on this floor getting a chance to debate 
these issues, having Senators of both

[[Page S242]]

parties work in good faith, work toward constructive solutions.
  I think support for what we sought last night, which is a real debate 
and real solutions and actual amendments--I think more and more 
Americans are coming around to see that is the way to proceed because 
Americans aren't going to buy the idea that, well, we will just say you 
have to give up some of your liberty to have security. Ben Franklin 
said it very well: Anybody who gives up their liberty to have security 
doesn't really deserve either.
  What we need are smart policies. That is why I talked about 
encryption. Strong encryption makes us safer. It also protects our 
liberty. That is why I outlined some of the deep flaws in this bill. I 
think this bill puts on fast track going back to ``abouts'' collection, 
where somebody is barely mentioned and, all of a sudden, the government 
is collecting the communication.
  I will oppose final passage of this legislation. Nothing is 
preventing the Congress from getting this right. As I mentioned, the 
office of national intelligence--the Director of the relevant agency 
has said there is plenty of time for us to take this bill, have a few 
amendments, a real debate, and come up with a bill that better ensures 
that Americans are both safe and free.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cruz). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that 
notwithstanding rule XXII, all postcloture time on the House message to 
accompany S. 139 expire at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, January 18.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 
approximately 15 minutes as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tillis). Without objection, it is so 

                             Climate Change

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, now, for the 193rd time, I will give 
my ``Time to Wake Up'' speech, and as I do so, we are coming up on 
President Trump's anniversary in office. Unfortunately, this occasion 
does not offer the American people much to celebrate. Behind the 
persistent tweets and the dog whistles, the Trump Presidency has been a 
spectacle of special interests and self-dealing. Billionaire donors 
have endless access installing their operatives and pursuing their 
special interest goals throughout the executive branch. They are 
literally writing the rules in an unambiguous effort to enrich 
themselves evermore at the expense of everyone else.
  Fossil fuel barons are the new American dark money emperors. Carl 
Icahn, early on, got himself installed as a special adviser to the 
President on regulatory reform and began pushing for a change to the 
renewable fuel standard that would net one of his companies, CVR 
Energy, hundreds of millions of dollars. Icahn's insider campaign came 
to an end in August of last year right around the time a New Yorker 
article outlined the potential legal claims that could arise from his 
murky status and self-dealing. Federal investigators have since opened 
a probe into Icahn's time at the White House.
  Then came Murray Energy Corporation CEO and big Trump donor Bob 
Murray with his policy wish list for Trump officials. He called it his 
action plan. Murray had donated $300,000 to the President's 
inauguration, and he donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to 
political action committees affiliated with the EPA Administrator and 
fossil fuel operative, Scott Pruitt. In a ``Frontline'' documentary, 
Bob Murray bragged about giving the administration this action plan and 
that the first page was already done.
  Well, I was curious to see the Bob Murray action plan for the Trump 
administration, so I joined Senator Carper, our ranking member on the 
Environment and Public Works Committee, and asked the White House for a 
copy of the Bob Murray action plan. The White House ignored our request 
and to this date has never responded.
  I guess the White House was busy organizing Trump's nominee for 
second in command at the EPA: a lobbyist for, guess who--Bob Murray and 
Murray Energy. During the Murray Energy lobbyist's EPA confirmation 
hearing, he claimed he did not have the Bob Murray action plan. He 
admitted he had seen the Bob Murray action plan at a meeting between 
Bob Murray and Energy Secretary Rick Perry last March, but he could not 
recall details of what was in the action plan or what was discussed in 
the meeting. Lobbyists for energy companies who get one-on-one meetings 
with the Secretary of Energy often little note nor long remember what 
went on at the meeting.
  Anyway, I asked the Department of Energy whether they had a copy of 
the elusive Bob Murray action plan. Shortly after my request, and 
before we heard anything from the Department of Energy, the magazine In 
These Times released photos of that March meeting that the Murray 
lobbyist had mentioned between Secretary Perry and Bob Murray.
  This photo shows Bob Murray and Secretary Perry. It looks like Bob 
Murray received a pretty cozy reception from the Energy Secretary. This 
gentleman, I believe, is another lobbyist for Bob Murray and Murray 
Energy. After they got through the hugging, they got down to business. 
There is the Secretary, there is the CEO Bob Murray, there is his other 
lobbyist, and this is the Bob Murray lobbyist who is now teed up to be 
the No. 2 at EPA. Right there in the picture is the Bob Murray action 
plan. This is a closeup of it, and the Presiding Officer can't see from 
there and nobody on the camera can see, but if you look right here, it 
talks about power grid reliability in the cover letter signed by Bob 
Murray, which may have cooked up, since this was a meeting with 
Secretary Perry, Secretary Perry's power grid reliability proposal to 
the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which included huge subsidies 
to coal plants.
  So we have a coal company CEO bringing his action plan in to 
Secretary Perry on whose cover letter it talks about power grid 
reliability, and before you know it, Secretary Perry is proposing a 
power grid reliability project to the Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission that just happens to give the coal industry enormous 
subsidies. What could possibly be wrong with that?
  Well, with this photographic evidence in hand, I renewed my request 
that the Energy Department produce this Bob Murray action plan. They 
were no longer able to pretend they didn't have it because they had a 
picture of it, with the Secretary, on his desk. They nevertheless 
continued to stonewall me, saying they would provide me the document 
after responding to FOIA requests from the public.
  So, memo to my Senate colleagues, when in the exercise of your 
oversight authority and the oversight authority of Congress and the 
Senate you request documents from the Trump administration, you might 
want to consider putting in a parallel FOIA request as that may be the 
only way you get a response.
  Despite the administration's best efforts to stonewall the Bob Murray 
action plan, however, my office was able to obtain a copy from an 
independent source. This version is addressed to Vice President Pence.
  The New York Times has now published the Bob Murray action plan.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
the article they wrote, ``How a Coal Baron's Wish List Became President 
Trump's To-Do List,'' and the Bob Murray action plan that was the 
subject of that story at the conclusion of my remarks.
  The article details demands made by Murray that have already been 
checked off by the President and the administration, including the 
repeal of the Clean Power Plan, withdrawal from the Paris climate 
agreement, the installation of mining industry operatives at the Mine 
Safety and Health Administration, and even, believe it or not, the 
appointment of a fossil fuel-friendly U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
  Several more of Bob Murray's action plan requests are underway. At 

[[Page S243]]

Mine Safety and Health Administration, now led by a former coal mine 
executive, Murray Energy and trade associations are working to undo 
Obama-era rules to protect miners. The 2010 coal mine dust rule is also 
on the chopping block. Over at EPA, Bob Murray's political money 
beneficiary, Scott Pruitt, has begun a review of the Agency's 2015 
ozone standards.
  Let me just drop in, as a Senator from Rhode Island, we have had days 
when you drive into work and the skies are clear and the weather is 
nice and the radio says: Little children, infants and elderly folks and 
people who have a breathing difficulty should stay indoors in the air-
conditioning. They should not go outdoors and enjoy the beautiful day. 
Why? Because of ozone which is being bombarded in on Rhode Island 
from--guess what--coal plants in the Midwest. We are in the downstream 
receiving end of ozone, which is the product of those coal plant 
emissions. So, obviously, loosening the ozone standards is good for 
coal companies.
  On a new topic, EPA continues to cut and to drive away its staff--all 
items on Bob Murray's action plan.
  Since it appears that Bob Murray has tailored his action plan for 
individual agencies, I have sent additional requests last week to the 
Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal 
Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, all 
of which are named in the Bob Murray action plan to see what specific 
action plans they have from Bob Murray.
  The fossil fuel industry may be able to boss Cabinet Secretaries 
around and may be able to bring the majority party in Congress smartly 
to heel, but, fortunately, there are still some venues where their 
demands run smack up against the rule of law. In our courts and in 
administrative proceedings, decisions must have substantial support in 
the evidence, and lying and misleading can be exposed and even 
punished--unlike in Congress, where lying and misleading have been 
sickeningly successful fossil fuel tactics for decades.
  Last week, the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission--even 
one stuffed with Trump appointees--rejected Secretary Perry's proposed 
power grid reliability rule to subsidize coal and nuclear plants. The 
FERC Commissioners found that the proposal failed to meet ``clear and 
fundamental'' legal requirements, like that the result will be ``just 
and reasonable'' under the Federal Power Act.
  As an aside here, the theory of the coal industry was that their 
units provide more reliability than renewables. Well, tell that to 
Iowa's electric grid operators, which have baked Iowa's abundant wind 
energy not just into their flow but into their reliability modeling. 
Tell that to New England's ISO, which has allowed renewables into its 
capacity auctions to be paid, for meeting baseload capacity 
requirements. And, of course, tell that to anyone who has had to deal 
with scheduled and unscheduled outages at coal plants.
  When I went on one of my climate visits to, in this case, Tennessee, 
I heard about a coal plant that had to be shut down because climate 
change had warmed the river and shrunk the flow so that the river used 
to cool the plant was no longer adequate to cool the plant, and they 
had to go into an unscheduled outage. Wind and solar are very reliable, 
and the ISOs have baked the algorithms that quantify their reliability 
into their grid reliability planning.
  The ``coal is reliable and renewables aren't'' argument may pass 
muster on talk shows, but in the real world of grid operators, it is 
nonsense. FERC, as a rule-of-law agency, is required to face that fact.
  America's courts also stand in the way of the Bob Murray action plan 
agenda. Murray, for instance, has demanded that the EPA overturn its 
2009 endangerment finding--the administrative finding that greenhouse 
gas emissions, like carbon dioxide and methane and so forth, threaten 
the public health and welfare of current and future generations. That 
is their finding, that those greenhouse gas emissions threaten the 
health and welfare of current and future generations. That is why it is 
called an endangerment finding, because of the danger to the public. 
Well, good luck challenging that determination in a court of law. In 
fact, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has already upheld 
the endangerment finding back in 2012.
  Even the fossil fuel flunky running the EPA now knows better than to 
challenge that endangerment finding. If he thought he could, he would 
in a heartbeat, but he is clever enough to know that an avalanche of 
climate evidence would fall in on his head if he tried. Witnesses from 
virtually every leading State university in the industry, from Alaska 
to Oklahoma to Georgia to Maine; expert scientists from our National 
Laboratories, from Idaho to Tennessee; our national security agencies 
and our military; America's government watchdog agencies, like the GAO 
and the GSA; and even the Trump administration's own recent climate 
report, all, would pile on the conclusive evidence of climate change. 
And on the other side would be what? Pathetic Kathleen Hartnett White, 
who gave one of the worst performances in Senate history at her 
confirmation hearings? The secretly fossil-fuel-funded Willie Soon? 
Some coal company lobbyist? Or perhaps the Heartland Institute, with 
its proud history of comparing climate scientists to the Unabomber?
  It would be a rout. It would be a rout, and even Pruitt knows it. The 
reason it would be a rout is because of the rule of law--the rule of 
law requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act, the rule of law 
specter of judicial review, and the rule of law sanctions that courts 
impose for false evidence.
  Certainly, Bob Murray and his surrounding crowd of bad-acting fossil 
fuel billionaires know how to throw their political weight around. We 
see everywhere the phony science denial apparatus they have created. We 
see their false and toxic messages even in outlets like the Wall Street 
Journal editorial page. We see their lobbying front groups like the 
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, continuing adamantly to oppose any serious 
climate legislation despite the contrary position of companies on their 
board of directors. American elections stink with their dark money and 
promises and threats. Their flunkies have now been moved into positions 
of authority in government, and the Trump's administration eagerness to 
carry out industry marching orders is humiliatingly servile.
  Ultimately, the polluters' drive to put profit first above the health 
and safety of Americans will face strict scrutiny in the truth-based 
arena of Federal courts. Ultimately, it will also face the harsh test 
of time, as the fact that they knew and the fact that they lied becomes 
ever more obvious and ever more odious. Ultimately, the American voter 
will have her say about whether this great Republic should be under the 
dominion and control of the fossil fuel industry or free to address the 
problem of climate change as a rational world leader must.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                [From The New York Times, Jan. 9, 2018]

    How a Coal Baron's Wish List Became President Trump's To-Do List

                           (By Lisa Friedman)

       Washington.--President Trump's first year in office has 
     been a boon for the coal industry, with the Trump 
     administration rolling back regulations on coal-fired power 
     plants and withdrawing the United States from the Paris 
     climate change agreement.
       Environmentalists have expressed alarm at the new 
     direction, and have complained that Mr. Trump was following a 
     blueprint from the coal industry. A confidential memo written 
     by the head of the country's largest coal mining company 
     suggests they might not be wrong.
       The memo was written by Robert E. Murray, a longtime Trump 
     supporter who donated $300,000 to the president's 
     inauguration. In it, Mr. Murray, the head of Murray Energy, 
     presented Mr. Trump with a wish list of environmental 
     rollbacks just weeks after the inauguration.
       Nearly a year later, the White House and federal agencies 
     have completed or are on track to fulfill most of the 16 
     detailed requests, even with Monday's decision by federal 
     regulators to reject a proposal by Energy Secretary Rick 
     Perry to subsidize struggling coal and nuclear plants.
       The March 1 memo, which was obtained by Senator Sheldon 
     Whitehouse of Rhode Island and shared with The New York 
     Times, is addressed to Vice President Mike Pence. The 
     sweeping wish list of regulatory overhauls includes ending 
     regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and ozone and mine 
     safety, as well as cutting the staff of the Environmental 
     Protection Agency ``at least in half''

[[Page S244]]

     and overhauling the Labor Department's office of mine safety.
       ``I give President Trump and his administration credit for 
     being bold, being passionate and being correct in addressing 
     a lot of these issues that were on my list here,'' Mr. Murray 
     said in an interview Tuesday.
       Photographs of portions of a different memo, dated March 23 
     and addressed to Rick Perry, the secretary of the Department 
     of Energy, were obtained by the magazine In These Times last 
     year. They were taken during a meeting Mr. Murray held on 
     March 29 with Mr. Perry and others at the Energy Department, 
     according to the magazine.
       Mr. Murray on Tuesday described the memos as very similar.
       The March 1 ``Action Plan for the Administration of 
     President Donald J. Trump'' is aimed, Mr. Murray wrote in the 
     memo, at ``getting America's coal miners back to work.'' He 
     also asks the federal government to cut funding for carbon 
     capture and sequestration technology--which Mr. Murray called 
     ``a pseudonym for `no coal' ''--and eliminate a 2009 E.P.A. 
     ruling known as the endangerment finding that was the legal 
     justification for much of the Obama administration's climate 
     change policy.
       ``This list was to remain private, a list of things that 
     needed to be done for reliable, low-cost electricity in 
     America. That was my number one goal here, was to give 
     guidance to the administration in an area that I have 
     observed over 60 years,'' Mr. Murray said.
       Critics say Mr. Murray's list and the apparent ease with 
     which he was able to get it in front of cabinet officials and 
     others illustrates the open-door access the Trump 
     administration has offered energy and other industries as it 
     moves to redirect and weaken federal regulations.
       ``The astonishing presumption of this list,'' Mr. 
     Whitehouse, a Democrat, said. ``It's an extraordinary 
     arrogance of the fossil fuel industry based on the power they 
     wield in Washington, D.C.'' He said even though Mr. Murray 
     had bragged about the action plan on a Frontline documentary 
     last year, the Energy Department had declined his requests to 
     immediately release the memo.
       ``The power of the fossil fuel industry around here is so 
     great I think the industry feels they can count on simply not 
     complying with requests,'' Mr. Whitehouse said.
       The Energy Department did not respond to a request to 
     discuss the memos from Mr. Murray.
       The Trump administration has had an unusually close 
     relationship with Mr. Murray. He and 10 of his miners were 
     invited to watch the president sign an executive order to 
     rollback President Obama's climate change regulations. He has 
     met with Mr. Perry to discuss the needs of coal producers. 
     His longtime attorney, Andrew Wheeler, is awaiting Senate 
     confirmation to the No. 2 slot at the E.P.A., and David 
     Zatezalo, the nation's new top mine safety and health 
     regulator and previously the president of a coal mining 
     company, told his hometown paper that Mr. Murray had 
     encouraged him to put his hat in the ring for the job.
       Jeffrey Holmstead, a lawyer with the firm Bracewell and a 
     deputy administrator of the E.P.A. in the George W. Bush 
     administration, called Mr. Murray's action plan ``an 
     ambitious list.'' While interest groups always try to 
     influence policy in a new administration, Mr. Holmstead said 
     Mr. Murray's status with the administration set him apart.
       ``I really don't think it's at all unusual that Murray 
     would have this wish list or a set of recommendations. What 
     makes it different is that it's pretty clear that he has a 
     personal relationship with the president,'' Mr. Holmstead 
     said. ``It seems like given Mr. Murray's relationship with 
     the president that he had more of an expectation that these 
     things were going to be accepted or implemented.''
       One item not on the list yet important to Mr. Murray was an 
     order the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected 
     Monday to subsidize struggling coal and nuclear power plants. 
     Mr. Murray railed against that decision saying it would lead 
     to the decommissioning of coal and nuclear power plants.
       Environmental groups have accused Mr. Murray of directly 
     asking Mr. Perry for a proposed rule to reward coal and 
     nuclear power plants for providing ``grid resiliency.'' The 
     March 1 memo does not mention the grid, though photographs of 
     the cover page of the March 23 document to Mr. Perry obtained 
     by In These Times shows its focus is ``a plan for achieving 
     reliable and low cost electricity.''
       Soon after Mr. Murray's meeting at D.O.E., Mr. Perry 
     ordered the agency to prepare a study on the country's 
     electric grid reliability, a precursor to ordering the 
     federal government to subsidize struggling coal and nuclear 
       Mr. Murray and a spokesman, Gary Broadbent, said the 
     difference between the two memos was that the one provided to 
     Mr. Perry asked the Energy Department to study the security 
     of the nation's power grid.
       ``I suggested that the study be made,'' Mr. Murray said. 
     ``What they did from there, the administration did. I did not 
     have involvement in it.''
       One of the items on the 16-point list was an overhaul of 
     FERC regulators, and the Trump administration accomplished 
     that. But those Trump-appointed commissioners voted against 
     the plan to bail out coal and nuclear.
       ``Obviously they forgot who appointed them right out of the 
     box,'' Mr. Murray said.
     Correction: January 16, 2018
       An earlier version of this article misstated the number of 
     suggested actions in a memo that Robert E. Murray submitted 
     to the Trump administration. It had 16 suggestions, not 14.

                                    Murray Energy Corporation,

                               St. Clairsville, OH, March 1, 2017.
     Hon. Michael R. Pence,
     Vice President of the United States of America,
     The White House, Washington, DC.
       Dear Vice President Pence: Enclosed is an Action Plan for 
     the Administration of President Donald J. Trump, which will 
     help in getting America's coal miners back to work. We have 
     listed our suggested actions in order of priority.
       We are available to assist you and your Administration in 
     any way that you request.
                                                 Robert E. Murray,
     Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer.

    Action Plan for the Administration of President Donald J. Trump

                            CLEAN POWER PLAN

       The so-called Clean Power Plan must be eliminated. Murray 
     Energy Corporation obtained a stay of this rule before the 
     Supreme Court of the United States on February 3, 2016. This 
     illegal rule will close au additional fifty-six (56) coal-
     fired electric generating plants, totaling 53,000 megawatts, 
     on top of the 101,000 megawatts (411 coal-fired plants) that 
     President Barack Obama and his Democrat supporters have 
     already closed.


       With the overturning of the Clean Power Plan, there must be 
     a withdrawal and suspension of the implementation of the so-
     called ``endangerment finding'' for greenhouse gases.
       EPA's ``endangerment finding'' under the Clean Air Act 
     serves as the foundation for the agency's far reaching 
     regulation of the economy in the form of emission limitations 
     for greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. The high 
     degree of uncertainty in the range of data relied upon by EPA 
     combined with the enormous regulatory costs without 
     concomitant benefits merit revisiting the ``endangerment 
       According to EPA's finding, the ``root cause'' of recently 
     observed climate change is ``likely'' the increase in 
     anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. EPA relied upon 
     computer-based-climate-model simulations and a ``synthesis'' 
     of major findings from scientific assessment reports with a 
     significant range of uncertainty related to temperatures over 
     25 years. The climate model failures are well documented in 
     their inability to emulate real-world climate behavior. 
     Models that are unable to simulate known climate behavior 
     cannot provide reliable projections of future climate 
     behavior. As for the scientific assessments underlying the 
     ``synthesis'' of findings used by EPA, many were not peer 
     reviewed, and there are multiple instances where portions of 
     peer reviewed literature germane to the ``endangerment 
     finding'' were omitted, ignored or unfairly dismissed.


       Electricity generated by windmills and solar panels costs 
     twenty-six (26) cents per kilowatt hour with a four (4) cent 
     per kilowatt hour subsidy from the American taxpayers. These 
     energy sources are unreliable and only available if the wind 
     blows or the sun shines. Coal-fired electricity costs only 
     four (4) cents per kilowatt hour. Low cost electricity is a 
     staple of life, and we must have a level playing field in 
     electric power generation without the government picking 
     winners and losers by subsidizing wind and solar power.


       The United Nation's COP 21 Paris Climate Accord, to which 
     Barack Obama has already committed one (1) billion dollars of 
     America's money, is an attempt by the rest of the world to 
     obtain funding from our Country. It is an illegal treaty 
     never approved by Congress, and it will have no effect on the 


       We have won these issues in the United States Supreme 
     Court, and these rules must be completely overturned.


       The Federal government, must support the development of 
     some Clean Coal Technologies, including: ultra super critical 
     combustion; high efficiency, low emission coal firing; 
     combined cycle coal combustion; and others. It should not 
     fund so-called carbon capture and sequestration (``CCS''), as 
     it does not work, practically or economically. Democrats and 
     some Republicans use COS as a political cover to insincerely 
     show that they are proposing something for coal. But, carbon 
     capture and sequestration is a pseudonym for ``no coal''.


       This Federal agency, over the past eight (8) years, has not 
     been focused on the coal

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     miner safety, but on politics, bureaucracy, waste, and 
     violation quotas. While coal mine employment has been cut in 
     half, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has 
     continued to hire inspectors every year. But, the government 
     has nowhere to put them. Murray Energy Corporation received 
     an average of 532 Federal inspectors per month in 2016. We 
     must send a Company manager with every one of these 
     inspectors, taking us away from our employee safety 
     inspections and safety training.


       Tens of thousands of government bureaucrats have issued 
     over 82,000 pages of regulations under Obama, many of them 
     regarding coal mining and utilization. The Obama EPA, alone, 
     wrote over 25,000 pages of rules, thirty-eight (38) times the 
     words in our Holy Bible.


       This regulation particularly punishes states in which coal 
     mining takes place to the benefit of other wealthier east 
     coast states.


       This regulation provides no health benefit to our coal 
     miners, and threatens the destruction of thousands of coal 
     mining jobs.


       For four (4) years, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell 
     has refused to address this issue. Some say that this is 
     because the UMWA wrongly opposed him in his recent election. 
     This must be taken care of. And the legislation enacted must 
     address not just those recently orphaned through company 
     bankruptcies and mine closures, but the medical benefits and 
     pensions that were promised to all retired miners by the 
     Federal government itself.


       This rule is a punitive action of the Mine Safety and 
     Health Administration under its Director for the past eight 
     (8) years, the former Safety Director of a labor union.


       We must offset the liberal appointees who want to redefine 
     our Constitution and our laws.


       The current Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has a 
     record of favoring actions of the Obama Administration that 
     have destroyed the reliability of America's electric power 
     grid and which have led to skyrocketing electric power costs, 
     as Mr. Obama, who appointed them, stated would occur in 2008.


       The Board of Directors of this government agency has 
     followed the mandates of the Obama Administration, rather 
     than assure reliable, low cost electricity for the Tennessee 
     Valley Authority's rate payers, whom they are mandated to 
     serve in this manner.


       Eliminate the antiemployer bias of the NLRB by appointing 
     members and staff, particularly in the General Counsel's 
     office, who will fairly consider the employer's position and 
     needs and not automatically accede to the unions or unionized 
     employees in every matter considered.

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.

                    Confronting Issues the Right Way

  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, a few days ago, our Nation stopped and 
remembered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is entirely appropriate for 
us to do so. It is a holiday set aside to be able not only to remember 
but to reflect and try to figure out: Where are we now?
  This year is especially significant. Fifty years ago this year, Dr. 
King was assassinated in April 1968. A lot of things have changed in 
that time period. Quite frankly, as a nation, we have learned a lot 
about race. We no longer as a nation talk about three-fifths of a man 
anymore--rightfully so, and we are appalled by our history in that. We 
no longer have separate water fountains set up in restaurants or tell 
certain people because of their background, their family, or their skin 
color that they can take food to go but they can't come in and sit 
  We have come a long way in hiring. We have come a long way in just 
our communities and our schools. The work is not done. We still have a 
long way to go, quite frankly.
  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was bold enough to be able to challenge 
the church first, then the Nation, and then the world that we have an 
issue around the issue of race. He was going to challenge us to 
confront it--rightfully so. He challenged us on the issue of racial 
justice, on poverty, on education, but he also challenged us on the way 
that we speak out on issues, and I think we lose track of that as a 
  Quite frankly, as a Senate and as a Nation, we are losing track of 
one of the things Dr. Martin Luther King challenged us on: There is a 
right way to confront issues and a wrong way to confront issues. Dr. 
King did something revolutionary. He pushed a community to confront 
injustice the right way, and he won.
  He made radical statements like this:

       Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. 
     Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

  Dr. King said:

       I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a 
     burden to bear. Love is the only force capable of 
     transforming an enemy into a friend.

  For whatever reason, we lose track of Dr. King's statements about 
``love is a powerful thing.'' We start as a culture responding with 
hate to respond to hate. When someone says something hateful, we 
respond back with something more hateful back at them. It doesn't 
actually solve anything, and we lose the great model that he really set 
for us in that.
  If we want to make enemies friends, only love can do that, only 
relationships can do that, only pressing a friend to do the right thing 
can do that. Now, is that happening in our culture? No. It is in spots, 
but it is not hard to go on any of our social media sites at any moment 
and be able to see the challenge in our social media sites, where it is 
not love driving out hate. It is hate attacking hate.
  It is remarkable to me. I just glanced at some of the things just of 
late as I was preparing for this conversation. I look backward at a few 
of the posts that are on my own social media sites--controversial 
statements that I made, like, on the 1st when I did a post that just 
said ``Happy New Year.'' It was a stinging controversial post that was 
responded to by someone saying: Loser. Liar. Traitor. How much money 
did you take from Russia, comrade?
  That was to my statement of ``Happy New Year.''
  I made a statement about how kids who came in under DACA should be 
treated differently. These are kids who didn't break the law. These are 
kids who are like the 4-year old riding in the backseat of the car when 
their parent was speeding. When the parent is pulled over, they don't 
give the kid a ticket. I made just a quick post about that, and the 
response to that, among many, was this: What is with his hair color? 
Dude, get it done professionally. You look terrible.
  I just have to say to you: Dude, this is done by a professional. God 
gave me this hair color, and so there is no bottle involved in this 
one. It is His work, and I would call Him a pro.
  There is all of this talk back and forth about where we are going to 
go as a culture, and we are losing Dr. King's legacy that hate doesn't 
drive out hate, that only love does that.
  Now, there is a lot of conversation in this body, as well, saying 
things have never been worse in the Senate and in Congress. I would 
disagree. Just after Vice President Burr left office, he challenged the 
Secretary of the Treasury to a duel where he shot the Secretary of the 
Treasury dead in a duel. In 1850, in the Chamber just right down the 
hallway here, in what is called the Old Senate Chamber, they were 
working on a compromise and Senator Foote and Senator Benton were in an 
argument, and so Senator Foote reached into his desk in the middle of 
the argument and pulled out his pistol while screaming at Senator 
Benton, to which Senator Benton jumped on one of the desks that is in 
this room still today. He jumped on the desk and pulled open his coat, 
revealing: I don't have a weapon. Shoot me. Shoot me. That was on the 
Senate floor, and they wrestled Senator Foote to the floor and took his 
gun away from him.
  People can say it has never been worse. I can assure you it has been 
worse. But what we do have responsibility for is in our time and 
setting the tone for difficult debate in this moment.
  The arguments that happen on the Senate floor and the violence on 

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Senator floor, including Senator Sumner being almost beaten to death 
with a cane just before the Civil War, set a path into the Civil War 
for the Nation. What is the path we are taking the Nation on right now 
in our debate?
  As a nation, I have a simple reminder that is not mine. It is from a 
powerful American leader named Dr. King, who said: ``Hate does not 
drive out hate.'' For anyone who is looking at what is happening in our 
culture and in politics right now saying ``if only I say something more 
hateful than the last guy, this will get better,'' you have missed his 
  Dr. King was deeply moved by Scripture, and there are multiple 
examples of it in his writings and in his speeches. He quoted passages 
over and over again, like from 1 John, Chapter 4: ``Dear friends, since 
God so loved us, we also ought to love one another''; Psalm 34: ``Taste 
and see that the Lord is good.'' Over and over again, he came back to 
Scripture as just a simple reminder that things can be different for 
  He challenged the church at moments, like in his letter from 
Birmingham jail, and he challenged culture. In fact, we lose track of 
the fact that during the civil rights movement, Dr. King was working 
with both parties to establish platforms for both parties that would 
respect the dignity of all Americans. It is a good path that has been 
set for us. In the middle of our conversation about Dr. King, I would 
hope that we would remember it.
  Let me make one quick side note, as well. It is kind of a fun note 
for those of us from Oklahoma. The story of Dr. King, as many people 
may know, almost didn't happen the way that it did. In 1953, just 
finishing up seminary and in the middle of his doctoral work, when he 
was just Martin Luther King, not Dr. Martin Luther King yet--he was 
still doing his doctoral work at Boston University. He came to a small 
church in Oklahoma City that was well respected in the civil rights 
movement--Calvary Baptist Church. In fact, in 1952, Calvary Baptist 
Church hosted the national conference of the NAACP and had Thurgood 
Marshall there as a speaker. In 1953, Dr. King was interviewed there to 
be one of the pastors at Calvary Baptist Church. The elders in the 
church heard him, read about him, met him, and then turned him down. 
This is my favorite quote from one of the elders of the church. They 
said they didn't think he had enough gravy on him yet. He was too 
young, not experienced enough. That was in 1953. Ten years later, he 
was standing on the Mall right down the street saying ``I have a 
dream,'' leading the entire country.
  I say that to say that sometimes we have this assumption that we are 
in control. We are not. God is in control. He has a path and a plan. 
Sometimes when we hear no and when we hear hard things, we find out He 
has a path and plan that may look different from ours.
  I would only challenge us as a body to do the right thing the right 
way and to see where that takes us. As it says in Psalm 34, ``Taste and 
see that the Lord is good.'' Do it the right way, and let's see how 
this works out together.
  It is a simple reminder and a simple admonition to a body that could 
use some words from Dr. King and see if we can put them into practice 
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.

            Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Alert System

  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, when the Sun rose last Saturday in Hawaii, 
nothing seemed out of the ordinary. People on Kauai were getting ready 
to participate in the local march to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King 
Jr. Day. Families were sitting around the table eating breakfast. 
Others were sleeping in after a long week of work.
  At 8:07, everything changed. Mobile phones throughout Hawaii received 
an emergency alert in all capital letters informing them of a ballistic 
missile threat inbound to Hawaii and that this was not a drill. The 
terror and panic were real, and people's reactions reflected that. 
Parents passed their children through manhole covers into the sewers, 
seeking safety for them. Separated family members took to the highways, 
driving as fast as 100 miles per hour to get home. Some had to decide 
whether to rush to be with their spouse or their children.
  Then 38 minutes later, an emergency alert came through saying that 
there was no missile threat--false alarm. The relief was palpable. This 
relief gave way to real, visceral anger. Anger that there was a false 
alarm. Anger that it took 38 minutes to alert the public. Anger that we 
faced a missile threat at all.
  This incident has undermined the public's faith in our State 
government's ability to provide timely and accurate information about a 
potential crisis. At a time when we face heightened tensions around the 
world--and particularly with regard to North Korea--it is crucial that 
the people of Hawaii have confidence in the government to provide 
accurate information. That is why I am calling for a thorough, 
transparent investigation into what occurred. We need a full accounting 
of the human and system failures that occurred, and we need to identify 
and put in place specific steps to make sure nothing like this ever 
happens again.
  What we do know is that the incident was a result of human error. An 
operator mistakenly triggered the alert. Although the error was 
discovered quickly, we need to better understand the circumstances that 
led up to the incident. We need to understand how the operator was 
trained. We need to identify and understand any other potential issues 
that resulted in this specific human error.
  The State has appointed an investigator to get to the bottom of this, 
and the State legislature is scheduled to be briefed on preliminary 
findings this Friday. Once the circumstances that precipitated this 
error are identified, we, of course, need to correct them as quickly as 
  Concurrently, we need to understand the system failures that resulted 
both in the false alert and in the 38-minute delay before the Hawaii 
Emergency Management Agency, or Hawaii EMA, issued a correction. Why 
did Hawaii EMA officials believe they needed approval from the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, to issue a correction? The Secretary 
of Homeland Security told me at a hearing yesterday that no such 
permission was necessary, pointing to a need for clarity regarding 
Agency responsibilities.
  State governments oversee and operate local emergency management 
alert systems, but the Federal Communications Commission, FCC, and the 
Department of Homeland Security, through FEMA, have a role to play to 
make sure that these systems are operating properly.
  During yesterday's hearing in the Judiciary Committee, Secretary of 
Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen committed to working with me to 
strengthen the Federal-State cooperation on emergency alerts, assess 
potential failures, and improve overall readiness in Hawaii and across 
our country.
  The FCC is also conducting an investigation into what happened.
  The entire Nation will benefit if these key Federal agencies work 
with States to close gaps in training and communication, institute best 
practices, and ensure that our States and local governments have the 
appropriate resources to prevent this kind of occurrence from happening 
  This false alert also clarified the importance of strong coordination 
between the State government and our military. Over the weekend, I also 
spoke with Admiral Harris of Pacific Command about ways to strengthen 
this coordination, particularly during a period of heightened tensions 
with North Korea. The fact that the people in Hawaii immediately 
assumed that the missile originated from North Korea speaks to the 
broad concern about the potential for conflict and the threat that 
North Korea poses to our State and the rest of the country.
  We need to support and strengthen diplomatic efforts regarding North 
Korea because at a time, as I mentioned, of heightened tension between 
the United States and North Korea, the potential for miscalculations 
  The President, rather than engaging in a tit-for-tat with Kim Jong 
Un, should be supporting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's efforts to 
engage in meaningful diplomacy and marshal the support of our allies to 
diffuse tensions with North Korea.
  I spoke earlier with Secretary of Defense James Mattis to emphasize 
the urgency of resolving this situation peacefully, knowing that he had 

[[Page S247]]

returned from a multinational meeting with a number of key allies, 
including Japan and South Korea. This meeting was to focus on North 
Korean provocations. This meeting was cosponsored by the Secretary of 
State, Rex Tillerson, in Vancouver. Secretary Mattis was at that 
meeting to provide a military perspective. In our conversation, he 
reiterated to me the importance of strong diplomatic efforts to resolve 
tensions with North Korea.
  I call on the President to support these kinds of initiatives and to 
give Secretary Tillerson all the resources he needs to succeed in his 
diplomatic endeavors.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.

                         Tribute to Robert Dole

  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, we had a very special day in the Capitol 
this afternoon, and I am grateful that we as a nation were able to 
honor Senator Robert Dole by presenting him with the Congressional Gold 
Medal. It is the highest civilian honor the United States can bestow.
  Senator Dole joins a list of very esteemed Americans going back to 
1776, with President George Washington as the first recipient of this 
award. The Gold Medal shows our highest expression of national 
appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions, and 
Senator Dole is such a deserving recipient of this award. It was a real 
honor and pleasure for me to be there to see this take place.
  Senator Dole is known, obviously, as a former Member of the Senate, a 
majority leader, and a Presidential candidate, but I would put at the 
top of my list of the attributes that I admire and respect Senator 
Dole's service in our military.
  Senator Dole joined the Army shortly after the attack on Pearl 
Harbor. He was 21 years old and left Russell, KS, and ended up on a 
battlefield in the hills and mountains of Italy. He suffered for 9 
hours after being hit by a Nazi bullet that did tremendous damage to 
his body and to his life. But that wasn't the end, as it could be for 
some people--even if people continued to live after these traumatic 
injuries. This was a recovery process that began that day for Senator 
  I once heard a story about Bob Dole's commitment to our country, and 
it stuck with me. There are lots of Dole stories, particularly in 
Kansas. Bob Dole used his injuries to learn about caring--not for 
himself but for others. His service in World War II--again, what I 
greatly admire and esteem--also resulted in his effort to raise money, 
with no taxpayer dollars involved, to build the World War II Memorial 
that is now on the National Mall. Senator Dole took that task on and 
made certain that happened for his soldiers and fellow colleagues who 
served in World War II. He went out and raised money across the 
country. He was out in Hollywood, CA, and he was visiting with one of 
those people who have lots of money. Senator Dole asked for that 
person's support for this project, and he was told by that wealthy 
person that he was not interested. ``I have other priorities.'' Senator 
Dole responded to that mogul: ``When I was 22, I had other priorities, 
too. I went to war.'' That is the Bob Dole who every day since then has 
gone to battle on behalf of Americans, other Kansans, and people across 
our country.
  His service in many ways began with his military service but has 
continued every day since his days in the 10th Mountain Division. 
During his nearly 36 years on Capitol Hill, Senator Dole became known 
as the leader who worked relentlessly to forge alliances and to pass 
significant legislation. Today, he serves as a role model for those of 
us involved in this legislative process. We ought to be fully engaged 
in the kind of public service that Senator Dole represented. Senator 
Dole has used his experiences to be a champion every day for those 
individuals with disabilities and for veterans.
  Coming from Kansas, he had an appreciation for those who were in need 
of food. Senator Dole grew up in the Depression and knew tough times, 
but it became a goal for him to see that people who were hungry were 
fed. It is one of the reasons I continue to chair and work in the 
Senate Hunger Caucus. Kansas is a place where we raise a lot of food 
but recognize there are a lot of people who are still hungry. We have a 
role that we can play, and Senator Dole provided the leadership to 
accomplish that.
  I now occupy this desk. It is kind of an amazing development, but 
this is the desk that Senator Dole had on the Senate floor during his 
time here, and this desk allows me to be reminded of the type of public 
service that too often we think is a thing of the past. It doesn't have 
to be a thing of the past; it could be a thing of the present. And each 
of us can use that role model to make certain that in our day, we do 
the things necessary to bring people together and to find solutions to 
common problems.
  There probably is no one living from Kansas more admired and 
respected than Senator Bob Dole. For three decades, he was our 
Congressman and our Senator.
  He grew up just down the road in Russell, KS, just a few miles from 
my hometown. I have seen what continues today to be the love and 
respect of Kansans--particularly those from small towns and 
particularly those from his hometown of Russell--and their regard for 
him. We ought to work every day to honor his legacy.
  I think there is something about growing up in smalltown America. 
There are differences of opinions in small towns. There are Republicans 
and Democrats in communities across Kansas, and there are people who go 
to this church and that church, but when you are in a small town, you 
have no choice but to figure out how to get along and how to solve 
problems and how to work together. Bob Dole brought that Kansas common 
sense and good will and desire to have achievements instead of a fight 
to the U.S. Senate.
  I honor Senator Dole for his military service and for his public 
service as an elected official of our government. I thank him for his 
efforts on behalf of veterans, on behalf of people with disabilities, 
and on behalf of people who are hungry.
  I ask my colleagues, in honoring Senator Dole by presenting him a 
medal today, that that is not all we do; that we honor his work by 
doing ours better.
  I have been with Senator Dole at the World War II Memorial. When 
Honor Flights come to Washington, DC, he is there. He is there almost 
every time a Kansas group comes to the World War II Memorial, but he is 
there when almost any group of World War II veterans come to visit the 
World War II Memorial. I have watched the way they respond to him, and 
the mutual respect between him and fellow veterans is inspiring and 
  I am a firm believer that we change the world one person at a time 
and one soul at a time, and Bob Dole has been making that difference--
changing lives for 94 years.
  Thank you, Senator Dole, for your distinguished service to our 
country and especially to our home State of Kansas. The world is a 
better place because you are in it, and we hope you take great 
satisfaction by knowing that your colleagues in Congress today honor 
you with the Congressional Gold Medal because it reflects the truth of 
what a high-quality person of character you are.
  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. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.