(Senate - April 18, 2018)

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[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 63 (Wednesday, April 18, 2018)]
[Pages S2227-S2240]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of S.J. Res. 57, which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A joint resolution (S.J. Res. 57) providing for 
     congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United 
     States Code, of the rule submitted by Bureau of Consumer 
     Financial Protection relating to ``Indirect Auto Lending and 
     Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.''

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the time until 12 
noon will be equally divided between the managers or their designees.
  If no one yields time, the time will be charged equally.

                   Recognition of the Majority Leader

  The majority leader is recognized.

                        Remembering Barbara Bush

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the Senate pays tribute this morning to 
a beloved American who passed away yesterday.
  To our 41st President, her lucky husband, Barbara Pierce Bush was a 
beloved wife and partner for more than seven decades. To the American 
people, whom she lovingly served as an exemplary First Lady, she was 
one of the most respected and well-liked public figures of her 
generation. And to the 5 children, 17 grandchildren, great-
grandchildren, and all the family Barbara Bush leaves behind at the age 
of 92, she was a beloved matriarch. By all accounts, she was equally 
capable of building up those she loved most and poking fun at them when 
they deserved it. Put simply, Barbara was a founding partner of the 
most influential political family of our era.
  The epic love story of George Bush and Barbara Pierce began at a 
Christmas dance in 1941. The intimacy of wartime love letters beat back 
the vastness of oceans, and they married just weeks after George 
returned from the Pacific.
  George once wrote that his beloved wife has ``given me joy that few 
men know.'' Barbara put it this way just a few weeks before her 
passing: ``I am still old, and still in love.'' The love story grew and 
grew. Eventually, it incorporated the entire Nation.
  Barbara embraced the mantle of ``America's grandmother.'' The self-
deprecating humor in that title was classic Barbara, but her 
plainspoken humility concealed formidable strengths and talents. Even 
under all the bright lights and the pressures of public scrutiny, she 
always combined wit with warmth, smarts with common sense, and great 
toughness with greater compassion. The beneficiaries of these qualities 
were many. The cause of literacy, in particular, bids farewell to a 
devoted champion, but above all, Barbara's life was defined by love. 
She loved her husband and her family. She loved her country, and 
America loved her back.
  Today, the Senate stands united, as does the Nation, with the Bush 
family and their great many friends. We join them in mourning their 
loss and in prayer.

                  Congressional Review Act Resolution

  Mr. President, later today, the Senate will vote on rolling back 
another piece of Obama-era overreach. Just like the historic 15 times 
we have already used the Congressional Review Act, the goal here is 
simple: We want to protect consumers and job creators from needless 
interference by the Federal bureaucracy. Today, thanks to Senators 
Moran and Toomey, we can make it 16. We can nullify a particularly 
egregious overstep by President Obama's Consumer Financial Protection 
Bureau and notch another victory in this Congress's record of rolling 
back overregulation.

                       Nomination of Carlos Muniz

  Mr. President, we will also vote to confirm President Trump's choice 
to serve as general counsel at the Department of Education, Carlos 
Muniz. This qualified nominee has been waiting for his confirmation 
vote since October. I would urge everyone to join me in voting to 
confirm him.

[[Page S2228]]


                     Coast Guard Authorization Bill

  Mr. President, we will also vote today to advance the Coast Guard 
Authorization Act. This is an important step for brave men and women 
whose work often flies under the radar. Today, as ever, the United 
States calls on our Coast Guard to carry out critical safety and 
security missions with little room for error. Just last year, Coast 
Guard personnel stopped over $7 billion in illegal drugs and contraband 
from crossing our borders. They guarded and maintained shipping lanes, 
and they risked their lives to lead heroic rescues after Hurricanes 
Harvey and Irma.
  In addition to authorizing funding for the Coast Guard, this 
legislation includes a bipartisan measure that is particularly 
important to States with navigable inland waterways, such as Kentucky, 
Mississippi, Alaska, and others. I am very proud to have worked with 
Senators Wicker, Sullivan, Thune, and Rubio to make sure this provision 
was included. In Kentucky, 1,900 miles of navigable waterways are used 
to ship everything from agriculture to coal. They support 13,000 
maritime jobs, and those jobs support countless others throughout 
America--moving food from the fields, energy to homes and businesses, 
and exports to market.
  Our vessel owners and operators have been saddled with uncertainty. 
They have faced a patchwork of overlapping, duplicative regulations 
enforced by the Coast Guard, the EPA, and the States. This inefficient 
regulatory regime unnecessarily raises costs and jeopardizes jobs.
  Our provision, the Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, would 
clean up that mess and make life easier for American mariners and 
vessel operators, while still protecting our environment. It would give 
them regulatory certainty and a single, uniform, cost-effective 
standard enforced by the Coast Guard. This predictable structure will 
protect our natural resources, while ensuring that commerce can flow 
freely to market.
  This provision commands broad bipartisan support. It has been 
reported favorably out of the Commerce Committee six times during the 
last three Congresses, including when my Democratic colleagues 
controlled the committee.
  I am glad that this year we have the opportunity to reauthorize 
funding for our Coast Guard and deliver this key victory at the same 

                               Tax Reform

  Mr. President, on another matter, I noticed that a number of my 
Democratic colleagues attended a small protest rally yesterday. It was 
right here on the Capitol grounds. Apparently, it was put out by a 
number of leftwing pressure groups, including, Planned 
Parenthood, and Big Labor.
  What were they protesting out there? What outrage brought leading 
Democrats to join this protest on the east front of the Capitol? It 
turns out it was the fact that Republicans let middle-class families 
and American small businesses keep more of their own money. That is 
right. The Democrats are rallying to repeal the tax cuts. Never mind 
that our own pro-growth tax reform has led to thousand-dollar bonuses, 
pay raises, educational opportunities, or other new benefits for 
literally millions of Americans. Democrats still want to repeal it. 
Never mind the new estimate that says tax reform will yield more than 1 
million new jobs in the next decade or the fact that jobless claims are 
at their lowest levels since--listen to this--1973.
  No amount of good news will shake Democrats' confidence that they 
know how to spend the American people's money better than the American 
people themselves. My friend the Democratic leader said so right here 
on the floor a few weeks ago. This is exactly what he said: ``There are 
much better uses for the money.'' Really? On average, a family of four 
earning a median income will save about $2,000 on their taxes. I don't 
think a middle-class family will have difficulty finding good ways to 
use $2,000. They certainly don't need a bureaucrat to do it for them. 
Maybe they need a new washer and dryer or a new refrigerator. Maybe it 
will help them make the downpayment on a second car. Maybe they will 
use it to keep up with rising health costs since ObamaCare has utterly 
failed to keep costs down for American families. Whatever they choose, 
I am glad Republican tax reform is letting hard-working parents keep 
more of their own money.
  But my Democratic colleagues obviously disagree. They are rallying to 
take back--to take back--that family's money so they can spend it 
themselves. They are so out of touch that they scoff at $2,000 tax 
cuts, thousand-dollar bonuses, and permanent wages increases for hourly 
workers. They call them ``crumbs''--``crumbs.'' To be fair, in the 
wealthiest parts of San Francisco or New York, maybe $1,000 does look 
like a rounding error. We know those are the places our Democratic 
colleagues are literally focused on. When President Obama was in power, 
Democratic policies fueled an incredibly uneven economic recovery. By 
one estimate, the biggest, richest urban areas captured 73 percent of 
all job gains.

  Meanwhile, millions of Americans in smaller cities, small towns, and 
rural areas saw little or no progress. Believe me, after years of being 
left behind by Democratic policies, the middle-class Kentuckians I 
represent and hard-working Americans all over the country do not see a 
$1,000 bonus or a $2,000 tax cut as ``crumbs.''
  Democrats protest America's tax cuts, bonuses, and new jobs. They can 
protest it all they want to, but Republicans will keep defending 
middle-class families.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I want to briefly address an issue that 
has been raised in the context of the vote we will have later today. As 
you know, later today we will be using the Congressional Review Act to 
repeal a very ill-conceived regulation imposed by the CFPB. Some of our 
colleagues and some outside this Chamber have suggested that it is 
somehow problematic to use the Congressional Review Act--to use this 
device--for the repeal of a regulation that is promulgated by guidance 
as opposed to those regulations promulgated in accordance with the 
Administrative Procedure Act, which we usually refer to as a rule, or a 
  The reality is that the applicability of the Congressional Review Act 
to a guidance, in my view, is very obvious and very well-established 
and should not be controversial. I understand that people might like 
the CFPB's rule, which I don't, but to suggest that because they issued 
it through a guidance rather than through the appropriate rulemaking 
process, we shouldn't be using the Congressional Review Act, I think, 
is completely mistaken.
  First of all, there is the CRA's definition of a rule. It is very 
broad and intentionally so. I will quote in part that definition. It 
says: ``The whole or a part of an agency statement of general or 
particular applicability.''
  The text says nothing about limiting the Congressional Review Act 
procedural device to formal rulemakings that follow from the 
Administrative Procedure Act. It is much broader than that. Instead it 
says: ``The whole or a part of an agency statement.''
  You don't have to just take my word for this. You could go back to 
the statements of the authors of the Congressional Review Act itself, 
the legislation that makes this vote today possible. One of the authors 
was none other than Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader and 
Senate minority leader. Senator Reid was very clear about the 
intention. He and Senator Nickles, at the time, and Senator Stevens put 
out a joint statement, which I will quote. It is brief, but it is 
important. It says:

       The authors are concerned that some agencies have attempted 
     to circumvent notice-and-comment requirements by trying to 
     give legal effect to general statements of policy, 
     ``guidelines,'' and agency policy and procedure manuals. The 
     authors admonish the agencies that the APA's broad definition 
     of ``rule'' was adopted by the authors of this legislation 
     [the CRA] to discourage circumvention of the requirements of 
     [the] chapter.

  Here is the irony implied by the position of those who suggest we 
can't use the Congressional Review Act to repeal a guidance. What they 
really are suggesting is that the regulators and the agencies ought to 
be able to circumvent the very public process that is established in 
law--the Administrative Procedure Act--for rulemaking. They ought to be 
able to avoid the need to collaborate with other regulators to

[[Page S2229]]

issue a proposed rule to the public for an extensive comment period and 
to make it subject to scrutiny--all of the things we demand of a proper 
rulemaking so that we end up with a better rule--right?--one that has 
been vetted, one that has been fully considered.
  What you are saying is that the CRA is not applicable. When this is 
done by a guidance, you create an incentive for the agency to 
circumvent this very public scrutiny so that they can impose their will 
directly without it. That would clearly be a terrible outcome. 
Fortunately, the authors of this legislation wrote it precisely so that 
it could apply to a guidance, and they made it clear that was the 
outcome they wanted.
  It doesn't end there, though. There have been more than a dozen 
instances already when Members of the Senate have asked the GAO to 
review guidance to determine whether that guidance rises to the level 
of importance and has the nature of a rulemaking so that it would be 
subject to the Congressional Review Act. As a matter of fact, within a 
single year of the passage of the Congressional Review Act, Congress 
asked GAO to review a guidance for this purpose. This has been done 
many times. In fact, it is our Democratic colleagues who set the 
precedent for attempting to overturn a guidance after the traditional 
CRA time window had expired because the guidance was not in the nature 
of a formal rulemaking.

  In 2008, there was an effort by Senators Rockefeller and Baucus to 
overturn a CHIP guidance and to use the Congressional Review Act to do 
it, exactly as we are going to use today the Congressional Review Act 
to overturn a different guidance. That effort by Senators Rockefeller 
and Baucus had 41 cosponsors, including then-Senator Obama, Senators 
Biden, Clinton, Schumer, Durbin, Brown, and many other Democratic 
Senators who are still serving today. Senator Baucus, a Democrat, laid 
out the case. He said:

       One agency attempted to ignore its obligations and 
     circumvent the process established by the CRA. And the agency 
     should not be rewarded.

  I couldn't agree more. He is exactly right. Here is more from Senator 

       This resolution is a way for Congress to send the message 
     that it expects agencies to comply with the law. Congress 
     should stand up for itself and disapprove of this rule, 
     because it was not promulgated properly.

  It makes perfect sense to be able to overturn a guidance that has the 
force of a rule, which is to say--really, let's be honest--the force of 
law was always contemplated as part of the CRA, and our Democratic 
colleagues attempted to use it for that very purpose. To do anything 
else would be to encourage the agencies to sneak around the 
Administrative Procedure Act, to avoid the public scrutiny and 
disclosure requirements, and promulgate rules through guidance 
  There is another more fundamental issue that I think we should be 
acknowledging; that is, the use of the Congressional Review Act is a 
really important--a modest but important step in the direction of 
restoring accountability to Congress.
  As the Presiding Officer understands very well, the Constitution is 
completely unambiguous. It is very clear. Legislative authority is 
vested in Congress. It is supposed to be our responsibility to write 
the laws, but we delegate a huge amount of authority and power to the 
executive branch. We say: Well, you write these rules. Maybe, it is too 
complicated or, maybe, we don't want to be held accountable for the 
outcome. It happens all the time. There has been a huge shift whereby 
the permanent bureaucracy, the administration, has an enormous amount 
of power to effectively write laws. We call them rules, sometimes 
guidance, but they have the power of law. They have the force of law. 
They are not optional. They are imposed on whatever industry or 
individual is subject to them. At a minimum, I think, Congress ought to 
be reviewing this. This is a mechanism for holding Congress accountable 
for the rules that we tolerate the agencies to promulgate. I think it 
is a really important step in that direction.
  Again, to summarize, the use of the Congressional Review Act to 
repeal a guidance is well established. It is consistent with any plain 
reading of the law. It is consistent with the intent of the authors at 
the time. Congress has attempted to do so in the past. Democrats have 
attempted to do it, and it is a modest but important step in restoring 
the accountability of Congress with respect to the regulations that we 
encourage the executive branch to promulgate. There is no evidence that 
this somehow opens a floodgate of repeal, as some have suggested. But 
any guidance--in fact any rulemaking, I think, ultimately should be 
subject to congressional review because, after all, it is our authority 
in the first place that is used to generate it. I am pleased that we 
were able to agree to the motion to proceed yesterday. My understanding 
is that we will be voting sometime around noon or so on this. I urge my 
colleagues to vote in favor of repealing this ill-conceived regulation 
and restoring some modicum of congressional accountability to the 
rulemaking process.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cotton). Without objection, it is so 

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The Democratic leader is recognized.

                        Remembering Barbara Bush

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, first, I send my heartfelt condolences to 
the Bush family on the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush. 
Simply put, Mrs. Bush was the personification of grace and class as 
First Lady and as a human being throughout her life. She will be missed 
by people on both sides of the aisle and by all Americans.

                             Foreign Policy

  Mr. President, let me begin with the issue of our Nation's foreign 
  Over the weekend, the Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, went on 
national television to announce a new round of sanctions against Russia 
for enabling the brutal Assad regime to commit chemical weapons attacks 
against its own people. Only 24 hours later, the White House reversed 
course, and senior administration officials blamed Nikki Haley for 
being ``confused.''
  The word ``confused'' may, in fact, define this administration's 
foreign policy. Does anyone at the White House talk to each other? Is 
there a coordinated strategy or is our foreign policy completely 
subject to the President's fleeting whims, changing as they do, day-to-
day and moment-to-moment, often being guided by what some commentator 
says on television? Unfortunately, that is what it looks like from the 
outside, and it is going to put America and our interests abroad in 
  Predictability and consistency in foreign policy are not boring. They 
are fundamental assets. It lets our allies know that we will support 
them, and it lets our adversaries know that they cannot get away with 
violating national norms. The erratic nature of this administration's 
foreign policy, exemplified by the abrupt reversal of Nikki Haley's 
announcement, is something all Americans should be worried about.
  All Americans should be concerned about President Trump's disturbing 
decision to pull back from sanctioning Russia for its support of Assad 
and for its enabling of his use of chemical weapons in the wanton 
murder of his own people. This extends a sad pattern of inconsistency 
toward Russia's malign activities, both here in America and across the 
globe, when what is required of this administration are more 
aggressive, comprehensive, and consistent policy actions that impose on 
Putin and his allies sufficient costs to change their behavior.
  A second foreign policy issue is the administration's ongoing efforts 
to secure a diplomatic deal with North Korea. We all want diplomacy to 
succeed with North Korea. My primary concern with the President and his 
efforts with respect to North Korea relate to preparation and to 
discipline. We are all aware that the President makes decisions about 
sensitive issues without seeking--or in spite of--expert advice. 
Indeed, his decision to move forward with the North Korea summit was an 
example of this type of decision making. Yet, whether or not there is 
ever a time and place for this sort of

[[Page S2230]]

decision making, it is unquestionably the wrong way to approach a tense 
summit between two nuclear-armed adversaries.
  We should all root for a diplomatic solution to the decades-long 
North Korean conflict because we know the costs of war on the Korean 
Peninsula would be catastrophic. That is why the United States should 
pursue a diplomatic opening, including through direct diplomacy with 
Pyongyang. Yet, thus far, we have not seen any indication that North 
Korea is willing to take concrete measures toward denuclearization.
  We have read this book before, and I am concerned that the 
administration, without its having a clear or coherent strategy, is 
buying a pile of magic beans at the cost of our allies and partners and 
our own security. As Secretary Gates once said, ``I'm tired of buying 
the same horse twice.'' There is a diplomatic pathway forward with 
North Korea. It is just not clear that President Trump is on it or 
would even know how to find it or stay on it.


  Mr. President, on another matter, trade, the President and I don't 
agree on a whole lot, but on the issue of China's rapacious trading 
policies, we see eye to eye. Presidents from both parties, in my 
estimation, have failed to act strongly enough against the threat posed 
by China. President Trump, unlike both Presidents Bush and Obama, is 
finally doing something about it. I remain disappointed, however, that 
the President passed up the opportunity, once again, to label China as 
a currency manipulator.
  Nonetheless, yesterday, a really good thing happened. The FCC voted 
unanimously to advance a measure to limit the ability of Chinese 
telecom companies to sell in the United States--chiefly Huawei and ZTE, 
two major Chinese telecom companies. Huawei and ZTE are both state-
backed companies. Their effort to enter the American market is a great 
example of how China attempts to steal our private data and 
intellectual property. The FCC has said that allowing these two 
companies into the United States would pose a national security threat 
because it would give state-backed Chinese companies ``hidden `back 
doors' to our networks'' that would allow them ``to inject viruses and 
other malware, steal Americans' private data, spy on U.S. businesses, 
and more.'' Those are the FCC's words.
  The United States is a world leader in high-tech manufacturing and 
development, so, naturally, China's Government is going after that 
lucrative industry and continues to try to steal its way to a 
competitive advantage. Every one of our top industries that employs 
millions of Americans in good-paying jobs and makes our economy the 
envy of the world is targeted by the Chinese. This one is no different.
  So I applaud the FCC's decision and President Trump for pursuing a 
tough course of action against China and its rapacious trading 
policies. The President is exactly right about China in that it seeks 
to take advantage of the United States in innumerable ways by 
undercutting our products, stealing our intellectual property, and 
denying American companies market access. I strongly encourage the FCC 
to finalize this measure, and I encourage President Trump to stick with 
his tougher posture toward China.

                     Legislation Before the Senate

  Mr. President, finally, a note about floor action this week. The 
Republicans are pushing, in succession, legislation that hurts labor 
rights and working people, consumers, the environment, and communities 
of color. President Trump, during his campaign, would often wonder 
aloud about what these folks had to lose by voting for him. Now we 
  The Republican majority seems intent on putting forward heavily 
partisan bills that have no chance of passing or have little practical 
impact but are simply designed to be divisive. That is not going to get 
us anywhere, and it is turning the Senate, which all of us want to be a 
deliberative, bipartisan body, into a bit of a farce this week--no 
debate, no amendments.
  So I suggest to my colleagues on the other side: Let's get back to 
pursuing bipartisan accomplishments that actually advance the interests 
of the American worker, the American consumer, and the middle class. 
After all, that is what we were elected to do.
  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. MORAN. 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. MORAN. Mr. President, thank you very much.
  I come to the floor again today to visit a moment about S.J. Res. 57. 
It disapproves the CFPB guidance on indirect auto lending. This is a 
piece of legislation I introduced, and I appreciate the strong and 
valuable assistance I have had from the Senator from Pennsylvania, Mr. 
Toomey, and certainly the chairman of the Banking Committee, the 
Senator from Idaho, and other colleagues.
  I want to talk just a moment about process, the use of a CRA, and the 
fact that the CFPB utilized what they called guidance as compared to a 
rulemaking process.
  I want to make certain that my colleagues understand that Agencies 
and Departments still would be encouraged to put out guidance to ensure 
appropriate compliance with the law. This CRA resolution ought not have 
a chilling effect on guidance because guidance is a useful tool. It can 
be helpful to those who are being regulated, but it needs to be issued 
for traditional purposes--guidelines for complying with Federal law.
  One of the CFPB's errors in issuing this guidance in this instance 
was that they proceeded down the path of an aggressive enforcement 
action in search of market-tipping settlements. If enforcement action 
is desired on the part of the agency, then a full rulemaking process 
ought to be conducted, and that is what the CFPB did not do. The CFPB 
used the guidance as an enforcement weapon instead of guidance in its 
more traditional and helpful purpose. It is important that we in 
Congress reorient the guidance process back to its intended form by 
ensuring that the CFPB cannot replicate its mistakes with regard to 
indirect auto lending.
  The authors of the Congressional Review Act that we are operating 
under on this resolution, Senators Nickles, Reid, and Stevens, in the 
Congressional Record of April 1996, said: ``The authors are concerned 
that some agencies have attempted to circumvent notice-and-comment 
requirements by trying to give legal effect to general statements of 
policy, `guidelines,' and agency policy and procedure manuals.''
  Even in 1996, my previous colleagues were concerned about what 
actually transpired at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 
Clearly, the CRA was passed in 1996 with the understanding that agency 
guidance had been used inappropriately.
  It is important for Congress to reassert its role in policymaking 
from the executive branch. All Members of Congress ought to be 
committed to conducting oversight over the rest of the Federal 
Government. Failure on the part of Congress to hold Federal agencies to 
account when they stray from their statutory and congressionally 
intended jurisdiction means we will get de facto legislation being 
originated in the executive branch. This effort is about making certain 
that the form and function of the Federal Government is accountable to 
the American people.
  Kansans hold me to account for the actions I take in Washington, DC, 
on their behalf. In turn, they expect me to hold other components of 
their government to account. Congress is the link between the American 
people and the Federal Government. I will continue to use the position 
that Kansans have entrusted to me to make certain I am representing 
their interest in Washington, DC, and can do so only by working with my 
Senate colleagues to oversee and correct mistakes made by other 
branches of the government. Today, we will do that with the adoption of 
S.J. Res. 57.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.

                        Remembering Barbara Bush

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I want to say a few words--I know a 
number of my colleagues have--before I start my discussion on the very 
important Coast Guard bill we are debating on the floor.

[[Page S2231]]

  America lost a wonderful example of a strong woman, Mrs. Barbara 
Bush, yesterday. I think the entire country and I know the whole Senate 
sends its prayers and condolences to the Bush family.
  If you want an example of an American citizen who represents 
strength, dignity, and class, and who really served our Nation so well, 
it was Barbara Bush. The thoughts and prayers of the Senate are with 
the Bush family right now.

                     Coast Guard Authorization Bill

  Mr. President, as the Presiding Officer who sits on the Armed 
Services Committee with me knows, each year this body, the Congress--
House and Senate--passes the Defense Authorization Act or the NDAA as 
it is called. It is an important bill. It moves forward the policies 
and authorizations of spending for the men and women serving in the 
military. It can be contentious, but at the end of the day for over a 
half century we have moved that bill forward each year.
  We always forget one of the branches of the U.S. military--the men 
and women who serve in the Coast Guard of the United States of America. 
We don't always move the Coast Guard Authorization Act forward. That is 
not because they are not as important as the other Members of the 
military. In some ways, it is just a twist of the organization here in 
Congress. The Coast Guard is under the jurisdiction of the Commerce 
Committee not the Armed Services Committee and is under the executive 
branch jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security, not the 
Pentagon. It is still an incredibly important organization for all of 
us, and so today we are going to vote on the Coast Guard Authorization 
Act, that we should be moving every year just like we move the NDAA 
because the men and women who serve in the Coast Guard are some of 
America's finest citizens.
  I see my colleague from Mississippi, Senator Wicker, joining me on 
the floor. We have been working on this bill, the Coast Guard 
Authorization Act, for about 1 year now. We faced a lot of roadblocks, 
and we have moved forward on a bipartisan basis to finally get this 
important bill to the floor.
  As the chairman of the subcommittee in charge of the Coast Guard, I 
feel it is very important to take a minute on the Senate floor to speak 
about what the men and women in our Coast Guard do on a daily basis so 
everybody, the people watching back home and the people in my State, 
the great State of Alaska, know just how important the Coast Guard is 
and how we are focusing on them.
  Many people in the country know the Coast Guard as the heroic 
Americans who literally come out of the sky to rescue us when we are in 
trouble, particularly on the high seas. I have heard them described as 
angels in helicopters with courage and dignity and strength. When they 
show up, it is certainly America witnessing its very best.

  Let me give just a few examples of what the Coast Guard does on a 
daily basis--certainly in my State. Here are a few examples from just 
the past few weeks:
  In Oregon, a Coast Guard aircrew rescued four commercial fishermen 
after their 54-foot fishing vessel capsized off the coast of Rockaway 
  In Kauai, HI, the Coast Guard is assisting in recovery efforts 
following a storm dropping more than 27 inches of rain, causing severe 
  On Sunday, the Coast Guard rescued four people from the water in 
Blackwater Sound near Key Largo, FL, and they rescued eight people 
aboard a disabled vessel just a few days ago near Pensacola Bay Bridge, 
  In New York, the Coast Guard crew just medevacked a 25-year-old man 
from a fishing vessel.
  In my great State of Alaska, the Coast Guard is vital. Alaska has 
more coastline than the rest of the country combined. Think about that. 
Just in the past few weeks, there have been numerous rescues, as there 
typically are in Alaska given our tough weather, including a 44-year-
old man from a fishing vessel outside of Dutch Harbor, a 59-year-old 
man from the waters off the Aleutian chain, and another 43-year-old man 
who was stranded on the barrier islands--just in the last couple of 
  Every one of these individuals--Americans--is alive today because of 
the Coast Guard. They are someone's father, brother, mother, daughter. 
They are someone's loved ones, and the men and women of the U.S. Coast 
Guard had the courage to go out and rescue them.
  All in all, in addition to numerous humanitarian and law enforcement 
operations, including drug interdictions and coming to the rescue of 
hundreds of migrants who were on overcrowded and unsafe vessels, the 
Coast Guard is working 24/7 for us, 365 days a year. Their mission also 
includes icebreaking, marine and environmental protection, port 
security, international crisis response--the response to hurricanes 
that so many Americans saw over the last several months--and readiness 
to support Department of Defense operations, as they are the fifth 
branch of the U.S. military. Sometimes we forget that.
  So this bill that we are debating right now and that we are going to 
be voting on in a little bit here on the Senate floor is the bill that 
sets the policies, the spending authorization, and the readiness 
standards for the entire U.S. Coast Guard. It is enormously important, 
and I believe it should pass in a bipartisan way--the way it passed out 
of the Commerce Committee--with a strong vote from Senators, 
Republicans and Democrats, on both sides of the aisle.
  The Coast Guard Authorization Act also contains many important items 
for our fishermen, fisheries, maritime industries, maritime unions, and 
maritime workers. Let me give some important examples.
  Included in this legislation is language to permanently fix issues 
that have plagued our fishermen and our commercial vessel owners and 
operators in the maritime industry and the workers in that industry for 
decades. We have an opportunity here to make good policy--again, 
bipartisan policy--that we have been debating for years in the 
  Currently, our fishing fleets and vessel owners and operators are 
forced to comply with a patchwork of burdensome Federal and State 
regulations for ballast water and incidental discharges.
  Let me start by talking about the incidental discharges. If you are a 
commercial fisherman on a vessel and you catch some fish and you want 
to hose off your deck because you have fish parts where you may have 
gutted and headed fish--let's face it, the fishing industry can be a 
bit messy--under current law, believe it or not, you have to get 
permission from the EPA to do this. You need a permit, and if you don't 
have one, you can face a fine. OK, think about that. You have taken a 
fish out of the water. You have processed it. You are hosing down your 
deck. It has some fish guts on it. For the fish parts to go back into 
the ocean, you need a permit. Yes, everybody in the country thinks this 
is ridiculous, and it is. It creates inefficiencies, adds business 
costs, inhibits economic prosperity in States like mine, certainly, and 
it kills jobs.
  Most fishermen--most fishing vessels--are small business owners. They 
are the ultimate small business owners. They take risks. They work 
hard. They create and produce a great product, such as wild Alaska 
salmon. Yet we are regulating them with these kinds of inefficient 
regulations that nobody supports. It is just another burden that we put 
on the men and women who are actually trying to make a living and 
create economic opportunities for others. So this bill, which has 
strong bipartisan support, does away with that because it makes no 

  Another provision in this bill tries to cut through a patchwork of 
burdensome State regulations for vessel ballast water. Currently, 
ballast water is regulated under both the Coast Guard and the EPA--dual 
regulations. That is trouble enough. They each have separate and 
inconsistent and sometimes directly conflicting sets of Federal 
requirements, and then you layer on State requirements too.
  Let me give an example. You are a commercial vessel owner/operator 
going up the full length of the Mississippi River. Right now, not only 
must you comply with the inconsistent Coast Guard and EPA requirements, 
but you also have to comply with different and separate requirements 
from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas. Again, 
it makes no sense. There are 25 States regulating

[[Page S2232]]

ballast water under separate, inconsistent, and often directly 
conflicting sets of requirements. This cripples not only the American 
economy but also the hard-working men and women of our country who work 
in the maritime industry.
  By the way, it makes it more likely that invasive species--a very 
real and serious issue--will accidentally be introduced because there 
is such a conflicting patchwork of regulations. I am very aware of the 
invasive species issues that plague different States. There are a lot 
of concerns we have heard, and certainly we have addressed it in this 
bill--from the Great Lakes.
  If the current patchwork system worked, well, I think a number of us 
would be supportive, but it simply doesn't work. It is not working at 
all, and it is only getting worse. This confusing array of requirements 
will only continue to grow, confusing vessel owners and operators and 
their workers and making it literally almost impossible to comply. The 
EPA says one thing, the Coast Guard says another thing, and 25 
different States say 25 different other things.
  One person who knows this issue very well is the current Commandant 
of the Coast Guard, Admiral Zukunft. Just yesterday, he told the House 
Appropriations Committee that ``it makes sense to have one entity'' 
regulating vessels--at very high standards but one entity. ``I really 
put myself in the shoes of a mariner,'' he said, talking about how 
difficult it is with the current system. ``Competing entities doing the 
enforcement operations'' is not working. He said that the Coast Guard 
understands the issue best, understands the mariners, and also, 
importantly, understands the technology.
  Even the EPA has said that the rules developed by the Coast Guard, 
which knows this issue best, will work for them because our bill 
requires concurrence with the EPA. Under the legislation that we are 
debating right now in the Senate, you cannot set a standard unless the 
EPA concurs, which is important. They essentially have a veto over 
this, but they know that the Agency that is best suited to regulate 
moving vessels on the water is not their Agency--the professional staff 
of the EPA have said that--it is the Coast Guard, which is where we put 
the regulatory authority in this bill.
  Further, under the bill, States have the authority to enforce the 
Federal regulations regarding ballast water and incidental discharge. 
So the States still have a lot of power and authority on the 
enforcement side in this bill.
  This confusing patchwork of regulations only diminishes the overall 
effectiveness of U.S. efforts to meet the high environmental standards 
that we all want. We need strong, uniform, national standards to keep 
our waters clean and to defend against invasive species, and we also 
need these standards so the workers and the people in this industry--a 
huge industry for America--can go and do their job.
  The good news here is that we have been working on this issue for at 
least the past 3 years that I have been in the Senate, but we have 
really been working on it for decades. For the most part, we have had 
strong bipartisan support to get this bill done. Let me give some 
  There are 23 Members from both sides of the aisle who have 
cosponsored these vessel incidental discharge provisions that I am 
talking about--23 cosponsors. Many more signed on to a letter of 
support for this, Democrats and Republicans.
  This bill has been voted out of committee several times. It has 
strong bipartisan support--including when the Democrats were in control 
of the Senate a couple years ago. We all worked diligently to make sure 
we addressed all the issues and concerns raised by many Members, and we 
even got some longtime opponents to come over and support this bill, 
again through the great work of my colleague from Mississippi. Let me 
give another example of that.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
a letter of support from a very broad-based group of unions, workers, 
small businesses, maritime operators, and fishermen.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                   April 16, 2018.
       Dear Senator: We are writing to express our strong support 
     for Title VIII of S. 1129, the Coast Guard Authorization Act 
     of 2017, the bipartisan Vessel Incidental Discharge Act 
     (VIDA). Our organizations represent U.S. and international 
     vessel owners and operators; fishing vessel, passenger vessel 
     and charterboat operators; labor unions; marine terminals and 
     port authorities national business organizations; and 
     industries that rely on maritime shipping to transport 
     essential cargoes in domestic and international commerce.
       VIDA is the product of bipartisan leadership and 
     negotiation to construct a framework that will protect our 
     waterways, foster efficient and cost-effective maritime 
     commerce, and maintain appropriate roles for the Coast Guard, 
     EPA and states. It is imperative that this legislation be 
     enacted without further delay. We respectfully urge you to 
     support the motion to proceed, cloture and final passage of 
       VIDA, which currently has 24 bipartisan Senate cosponsors 
     and 37 bipartisan House cosponsors, would eliminate a 
     regulatory burden hindering interstate and international 
     commerce by replacing a patchwork of federal and state 
     regulations with uniform national standards for the 
     regulation of ballast water and other discharges incidental 
     to normal vessel operations. The bill would also maintain 
     protective measures jointly undertaken by industry and 
     federal agencies to reduce the movement of invasive species 
     on the navigable waterways.
       Without VIDA, commercial vessel owners will spend millions 
     of dollars installing onboard equipment to comply with Coast 
     Guard and EPA requirements, but still be at risk of fines and 
     penalties for violating state requirements that cannot be met 
     by existing technology. This overlapping patchwork of federal 
     and state regulations kills jobs, undermines the efficiency 
     of maritime transportation, increases business costs, and 
     places mariners at risk of civil and criminal prosecution. It 
     also delays investments in treatment technology that will 
     strengthen environmental protection.
       VIDA would provide vessel owners and mariners with a 
     predictable and transparent regulatory structure in which 
     vessel incidental discharges are regulated and enforced by 
     the U.S. Coast Guard, using as its baseline the ballast water 
     discharge standard that EPA's Science Advisory Board has 
     determined to be the most stringent currently achievable. The 
     bill will ensure the installation of high-performing 
     technologies on commercial vessels, and allows for 
     improvements in the national standard as technology improves. 
     VIDA also preserves the ability of states to enforce the 
     federal ballast water discharge standard, petition for a 
     higher standard, work with Coast Guard to develop best 
     management practices, and regulate recreational vessels 
     operating in their waters.
       VIDA will also permanently exempt fishing vessels and 
     vessels under 79 feet from EPA's National Pollutant Discharge 
     Elimination System permit program. These vessels have been 
     operating under a series of temporary exemptions enacted by 
     Congress. Permanent relief is needed for the operators of 
     these vessels, as long-term regulatory certainty is needed 
     for the operators of large commercial vessels.
       VIDA will strengthen protections for America's waterways, 
     provide a stable regulatory structure for interstate and 
     international maritime commerce, and eliminate needlessly 
     duplicative regulatory programs. Please support passage of 
     the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017.
       ADM; AccuTrans, Inc.; AEP River Transportation; AK Steel; 
     Alabama Charter Fishing Association; Albany Port District 
     Commission; Alaska Charter Association; American Association 
     of Port Authorities; American Commercial Barge Line LLC; 
     American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers; American Great 
     Lakes Ports Association; American Institute of Marine 
     Underwriters (AIMU); American Iron and Steel Institute; 
     American Maritime Congress; American Maritime Officers; 
     American Maritime Officers Service; American Petroleum 
     Institute; American Petroleum Tankers; American President 
     Lines, LLC; American River Transportation Company.
       American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier (ARC); American Steamship 
     Company; American Tunaboat Association; Amherst Madison, 
     Inc.; Andrie Inc.; ArcelorMittal USA; Armstrong Steamship 
     Company; Associacao de Armadores da Marinha do Comercio; 
     Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association; At-sea Processors 
     Association; Avalon Freight Services; Bahamas Shipowners 
     Association; Bay Shipbuilding Company; Baydelta Maritime; 
     Bay-Houston Towing Company; Beach Haven Charter Fishing 
     Association; Bell Steamship Company; Benchmark Marine Agency; 
     Blessey Marine Services, Inc.; Borghese Lane LLC.
       Bren Transportation Corp.; Brown Water Marine Service, 
     Inc.; Buffalo Marine Service, Inc.; C & J Marine Services, 
     Inc.; C&M Shipping & Trading Agency, Inc.; Callais & Sons, 
     LLC; Calumet River Fleeting, Inc.; Campbell Transportation 
     Company, Inc.; Canal Barge Company, Inc.; Canfornav Ltd.; 
     Cape Cod Charter Boat Association; Carmeuse Lime and Stone; 
     Central Boat Rentals, Inc.; Central Dock Company; Central 
     Marine Logistics; CGBM 100, LLC; Chamber of Marine Commerce; 
     Chamber of Shipping (Canada); Chamber of Shipping of America; 
     Channel Design Group.
       Charterboat Association of Puget Sound; Chesapeake Bay 
     Charter Boat Association;

[[Page S2233]]

     Chicago & Western Great Lakes Port Council, MTD, AFL-CIO; 
     Chicago Sportfishing Association; Chincoteague Island 
     Charterboat Association; City of Superior, Wisconsin; 
     Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority; Cliffs Natural 
     Resources Inc.; CN, Duluth, MN; ConocoPhillips; Consumer 
     Energy; Consumer Energy Alliance--Midwest; C-PORT, Conference 
     of Professional Operators for Response Towing; Crounse 
     Corporation; Crowley Maritime Corporation; Cruise Lines 
     International Association; CSX Transportation, Toledo Docks; 
     Cyprus Shipping Chamber; D & S Marine Service, L.L.C.; 
     Daniels Shipping Service.
       Dann Marine Towing, LC; Dann Ocean Towing, Inc.; Deale 
     Captains Association; Deloach Marine Services; Detroit-Wayne 
     County Port Authority; Devall Brothers Barge Line II, LLC; 
     Devall Brothers Towing II, LLC; Devall Commercial Barge Line, 
     LLC; Devall Diesel Services, LLC; Devall Enterprises, LLC; 
     Devall Offshore Barge Line, LLC; Devall Offshore, LLC; Devall 
     Resources, Inc.; Devall Third Generation Towing, LLC; Devall 
     Towing & Boat Service of Hackberry, L.L.C.; Dock 63; Donjon 
     Marine Co., Inc.; Donjon Shipbuilding & Repair; Dredging 
     Contractors of America; DTE Electric Co.
       Duluth Seaway Port Authority; Durocher Marine; E Squared 
     Marine Service, LLC; E.N. Bisso & Son, Inc.; Eastern Lake 
     Erie Charterboat Association; Edw. C. Levy Co.; Ergon Marine 
     and Industrial Supply; Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port 
     Authority; European Community Shipowners' Associations; 
     Evansville Marine Service, Inc.; Faroese Merchant Shipowners 
     Association; Faulkner, Hoffman & Phillips; Fednav Ltd.; 
     Fishing Vessel Owner's Association; Florida Guides 
     Association, Inc.; Foss Maritime Company; Fraser Shipyards; 
     General Marine Services LLC; Genesee Charter Association, 
     Inc.; Global Marine Transportation, Inc.; Golden Gate 
     Fishermen's Association.
        Golding Barge Line, Inc.; Grand River Navigation Company; 
     Great Lakes District Council-ILA, AFL-CIO; Great Lakes Dredge 
     & Dock Company, LLC; Great Lakes Fleet; Great Lakes Maritime 
     Task Force; Greater Point Pleasant Charter Boat Association; 
     Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association; Hackberry Land, LLC; 
     Hallett Dock Company; Harbor Towing & Fleeting, LLC; Harley 
     Marine Services; Hawaii Resource Group LLC; Higman Marine 
     Services, Inc.; Homer Charter Association; Hong Kong 
     Shipowners Association; Hughes Bros., Inc.; Huntington 
     District Waterways Association; ILA Lake Erie Coal & Ore Dock 
     Council; ILA Local 1317.
       ILA Local 1768; Illinois Chamber of Commerce; Illinois 
     International Port District; Illinois Marine Towing, Inc.; 
     Ilwaco Charter Association; Indian National Shipowners' 
     Association; Indiana's North Coast Charter Association; 
     Ingram Barge Company; Inland Lakes Management; Inland Marine 
     Service; Int'l Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers 
     District Lodge 1943; Int'l Association of Machinists & 
     Aerospace Workers District Lodge 4; Int'l Association of 
     Machinists & Aerospace Workers District Lodge 60; Int'l 
     Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers District Lodge 
     65; Int'l Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers 
     District Lodge 98; Integrity--Black Lake Fleeting Services, 
     LLC; Integrity Terminal and Marine Services, LLC; 
     International Association of Drilling Contractors; 
     International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers; 
     International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.
       International Chamber of Shipping; International 
     Longshoremen's Association; International Organization of 
     Masters, Mates & Pilots; International Propeller Club of the 
     United States; International Shipmasters' Association; 
     International Shipmasters' Association (St. Catharines ON); 
     International Union of Operating Engineers, Locals 49, 139, 
     150 and 324; InterShip, Inc.; INTERTANKO; Irish Chamber of 
     Shipping; J&J Maritime Operators, LLC; Jacksonville Marine 
     Transportation Exchange; James Transportation, LLC; JANTRAN, 
     Inc.; Japanese Shipowners' Association; JB Marine Service, 
     Inc.; JEFFBOAT LLC; Juneau Charter Boat Operators 
     Association; K&L Gates LLP; Kindra Lake Towing, LP.
       Kirby Corp.; Lake Carriers' Association; Lake Erie Ship 
     Repair & Fabrication; Lake Michigan Carferry Service; Lake 
     Michigan Yachting Association; Lakes Pilots Association; 
     LeBeouf Bros. Towing, LLC; Liberian Shipowners' Council Ltd; 
     Liberty Maritime Corporation; Lorain Port Authority; 
     Louisiana Association of Waterways Operators and Shipyards; 
     Luedtke Engineering Company; M&P Barge Company, Inc.; Maersk, 
     Inc.; Magnolia Marine Transport Co.; Maine Association of 
     Charter Captains; Manatee County Port Authority; Marco Island 
     Charter Captains Association; Marine Engineers' Beneficial 
     Association; Marine Tech.
       Maritime Association of the Port of New York-New Jersey; 
     Maritime Institute for Research and Industrial Development; 
     Maritime Port Council of Greater NY/NJ & Vicinity; Maritime 
     Trades Department, AFL-CIO; Marquette Transportation Company, 
     Inc.; Maryland Charterboat Association; Maryland Port 
     Administration; McAllister Towing; MCM Marine; Metal Trades 
     Department, AFL-CIO; Michigan City Charterboat Association; 
     Michigan Maritime Trades Port Council, MTD, AFL-CIO; Midwater 
     Trawlers Cooperative; Midwest Energy Resources Company; 
     Mississippi Charter Boat Captains Association; Montana Coal 
     Council; Moran Iron Works; Moran Towing Corporation; Muskegon 
     Port Advisory Committee; National Association of Charterboat 
       National Association of Manufacturers; National Association 
     of Maritime Organizations; National Association of Waterfront 
     Employers; National Grain and Feed Association; National 
     Mining Association; Navy League of the United States; New 
     York Shipping Association; Norfolk Southern Corporation; 
     Norfolk Tug Company; North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners 
     Association; Northeast Charterboat Captains Association; 
     Northern Neck Charter Captains; Northwest Marine Trades 
     Association; Octopus Towing LLC; Ogdensburg Bridge and Port 
     Authority; Osborne Concrete & Stone Co.; Overseas Shipholding 
     Group (OSG); P&M Marine Services LLC; P&R Water Taxi LLC; 
     Panama City Boatmen Association.
       Parker Towing Company, Inc.; Passenger Vessel Association; 
     Pere Marquette Shipping Company; Petersburg Charterboat 
     Association; Philadelphia Regional Port Authority; Polsteam 
     USA Inc.; Port City Marine Services, Inc.; Port City 
     Steamship Holding Company, Inc.; Port of Green Bay; Port of 
     Milwaukee; Port of Monroe, Michigan; Port of Oswego 
     Authority; Ports of Indiana; Prince William Sound Charter 
     Boat Association; Progressive Barge Line, Inc.; Rod `N' Reel 
     Captains Assoc. Inc.; Ryba Marine Construction Company; 
     Saltchuk; Sause Bros.; SCF Marine Inc.
       Seabulk Towing; Seafarers International Union; Shipping 
     Federation of Canada; Singapore Shipping Association; 
     Solomon's Charter Captains Association; Soo Marine Supply, 
     Inc.; Southeast Alaska Guides Organization; Southern Offshore 
     Fishing Association; Southern Towing Company; Spanish 
     Shipowners' Association; Spliethoff; St. Lawrence Seaway 
     Pilots Association; Steel Manufacturers Association; Tata 
     Steel; Ten Mile Exchange LLC; Terral River Service, Inc.; 
     Texas Waterways Operators Association; The American Waterways 
     Operators; The CSL Group Inc.; The Interlake Steamship 
       The King Co.; The Port of New Orleans; The Royal 
     Association of Netherlands Shipowners; The Upper Bay Charter 
     Captains Association; The Vane Brothers Company; Tidewater 
     Barge Lines, Inc.; Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority; Toledo 
     Port Council, MTD, AFL-CIO; TPG Chicago Dry Dock; TradeWinds 
     Towing LLC; Transportation Institute; Trojan Technologies 
     Inc.; Turn Services, LLC; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; U.S. 
     Steel Corporation; UK Chamber of Shipping; Union of Greek 
     Shipowners; United Boatmen of New Jersey; United States Great 
     Lakes Shipping Association; United Steelworkers, District 1, 
       United Steelworkers, Local 5000; Upper Mississippi Waterway 
     Association; Upper River Services, LLC; VanEnkevort Tug & 
     Barge Inc.; Verplank Dock Co.; Victoria Fleet, LLC; Virginia 
     Charter Boat Association; Virginia Maritime Association; 
     Wagenborg Shipping North America; Water Quality Insurance 
     Syndicate; Waukegan Charter Boat Association; Wepfer Marine 
     Inc; West Dock and Market--Port of Muskegon; WESTAR Marine 
     Services; Western Great Lakes Pilots Association, LLP; 
     Western States Petroleum Association; Westport Charter Boat 
     Association; Wilmington Tug, Inc.; Wood Towing, LLC; World 
     Shipping Council; and World Shipping Inc.

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I won't go into it. I have seen a lot of 
these kinds of letters supporting legislation, but I have rarely seen a 
letter that is pages and pages long--steelworkers, International Union 
of Operating Engineers, Juneau Charter Boat Operators Association, 
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Eastern 
Lake Erie Charterboat Association. This letter supporting the Coast 
Guard bill has many different groups supporting it, and that is why 
there has been so much strong bipartisan support.
  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, I wonder if my colleague will yield on 
that point.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I will be glad to yield.
  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, I appreciate the Senator from Alaska 
mentioning the broad base of support, and it occurs to me that this 
legislation has garnered the support of the chamber of commerce and 
organized labor.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. That is correct.
  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, in an effort not to take up too much time, 
the Senator from Alaska didn't mention that the International 
Brotherhood of Boilermakers is for this bill. The International 
Longshoremen's Association is for this bill. We have crafted 
something--with the help of Democrats and the help of Republicans, with 
the help of labor and business--that has brought these people together 
to help us protect American maritime jobs.
  I want to commend the Senator from Alaska also for the work he has 
done in accommodating people.
  I ask my friend, am I correct that this is not the first version we 
had of this bill?
  Mr. SULLIVAN. That is correct.
  We actually made literally dozens of changes over the last several 

[[Page S2234]]

to accommodate almost every single Senator that had requested a change 
to address some of their issues. We have made numerous changes to this 
bill, for Republicans and Democrats, to make sure we have strong 
bipartisan support, and we are certainly hoping that the changes we 
made for so many Senators who have been supportive of the bill will now 
lead a strong bipartisan vote here in a little bit.
  Mr. WICKER. I am not going to ask my colleague to yield all of his 
time to me, but I would just observe this to my friends on both sides 
of the aisle. This is the kind of bipartisan legislative effort on the 
part of my colleague from Alaska that ought to be rewarded.
  A Member of the minority party has come to him expressing concerns, 
and those concerns have largely been met at every pass. It is not like 
we are trying to jam something on the part of the business community or 
the far right. I just have to say to my colleague from Alaska that he 
has done a heroic effort. We need a couple of more votes from people 
who have, at one time or another, expressed strong support for this 
  Mr. SULLIVAN. They have not only expressed strong support but have 
cosponsored this legislation.
  Mr. WICKER. We really should send a signal to the American people 
that we trust each other, that we appreciate somebody like the Senator 
from Alaska who has bent over backward to make this work for America, 
to make this work for labor, to make this work for the waterway 
operators, and to make this work for the environment. I think this will 
enhance the environmental system in our waterways all over the country.
  I thank the Senator for yielding time. Once again, I just have to say 
how much I admire the statesmanship of this relatively junior Senator 
from Alaska in working across the aisle and making this a bill that we 
ought to all be proud of.
  I thank the Senator for yielding.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. I thank the Senator from Mississippi for his very kind 
words. This has been a team effort. We have been working together. 
Democrats have been working with us. My colleagues from Florida, from 
Pennsylvania--we have all been down here talking about this. I know 
there are going to be strong votes in favor.
  I do want to mention that the minority leader was just on the floor, 
and he ended his remarks that he just made a couple of minutes ago 
about how it is really important for the Senate to get back to 
bipartisan accomplishments that help the American worker. He just said 
that. Well, my colleague from New York, I couldn't agree more. That is 
what this bill is.
  I am going to mention one other thing before I actually do my 
presiding time. I appreciate the Presiding Officer giving me a few 
additional minutes before I get in the Chair.
  We have been dealing with this issue. Some have raised the issue that 
they are concerned about what the vessel incidental discharge 
provisions in this bill that I just talked about could do to the 
environment. I am from the great State of Alaska. We have the most 
pristine, beautiful environment in the world, and the cleanest water in 
the world. We want to keep it that way. I am all about that.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that this document be 
submitted in the Record called ``The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act: 
Good for the Environment--Good for Business.''
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act: Good for the Environment--Good for 

       The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, or ``VIDA,'' would 
     require the Coast Guard and the EPA to establish uniform, 
     national standards for the treatment and management of 
     ballast water and other discharges incidental to the normal 
     operation of vessels. Treatment of ballast water is an 
     important safeguard against the introduction of aquatic 
     invasive species. The bill would establish an initial ballast 
     water treatment standard equivalent to the Coast Guard and 
     EPA's current standards--the most stringent standard current 
     technology can achieve. For incidental discharges other than 
     ballast water (such as deck runoff, anchor effluent, etc), 
     the bill would require the establishment of best management 
     practices within two years of the date of enactment of the 

                           MYTHS VERSUS FACTS

       Myth #1: The bill lowers the environmental standards for 
     ballast water.
       FACT: The new standards and requirements would be required 
     to be based upon the best available technology economically 
     achievable (BATEA), and would ramp up over time as new, more 
     advanced technology becomes available. Specifically, the bill 
     incorporates the Clean Water Act's BATEA regulatory regime to 
     establish its uniform standards and revise them to be more 
     stringent over time.
       Myth #2: The current regulatory regime works.
       FACT: Today, the Coast Guard, EPA, and 25 states are 
     regulating ballast water under separate, inconsistent, and 
     sometimes directly conflicting sets of requirements. This not 
     only cripples the American economy, but also makes it more 
     likely that invasive species will accidentally be introduced.
       Myth #3: The EPA has the expertise to enforce ballast water 
       FACT: The Coast Guard is the United States' premier 
     maritime law enforcement service. It currently enforces 
     ballast water standards through vessel inspections, not the 
     EPA. However, the service cannot do a thorough and robust job 
     because of the current patchwork and contradictory regulatory 
     regime. This bill gives the Coast Guard the clarity and 
     authority it needs to do a good job.
       Myth #4: There is no science behind the new national 
       FACT: This bill sets a current federal ballast water 
     discharge standard, which the EPA's Science Advisory Board 
     deemed the most stringent currently achievable. Moreover, 
     when ramping up those standards, the Coast Guard, in 
     consultation with the EPA, will set the new standard based on 
     sound science and the best available technology economically 
       Myth #5: The bill undermines a States' ability to regulate 
     ballast water.
       FACT: The bill ensures that States will be able to enforce 
     Federal requirements and, importantly, that States will be 
     able to set future standards and best practices though an 
     exhaustive petitioning process.
       As an example, both the Coast Guard and EPA require a 
     ballast water management system (BWMS) aboard a vessel 
     covered by their regulations. On the one hand, the Coast 
     Guard's regulations generally require that a BWMS be type-
     approved by the Coast Guard. In the case of a manufacturer 
     whose BWMS has been approved by a foreign regulatory 
     authority pursuant to Convention standards, that manufacturer 
     may request a Coast Guard determination that its BWMS 
     qualifies as an Alternate Management System (AMS). On the 
     other hand, the EPA's Vessel General Permit (VGP) requires 
     only that a BWMS ``has been shown to be effective by testing 
     conducted by an independent third party laboratory, test 
     facility or test organization.'' Although a BWMS approved by 
     the Coast Guard is deemed by the VGP to comply with its 
     effectiveness requirement, a BWMS may also be tested and 
     found effective under the VGP by another ``laboratory, test 
     facility, or test organization,'' even though it has not been 
     approved by the Coast Guard. Thus a BWMS could end up being 
     installed on a vessel in compliance with the VGP, yet not 
     comply with Coast Guard regulations.
       On top of this duplicative, inconsistent, and confusing 
     Federal regime, subjecting vessels to NPDES has opened the 
     door for States to establish their own varying standards and 
     requirements for vessel discharges. California, Michigan, 
     Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington are among those that 
     already have promulgated their own ballast water management 
     requirements that also apply to commercial vessels navigating 
     in State waters. In 2006, the State of California enacted a 
     ballast water treatment standard at the recommendation of the 
     California State Lands Commission (CSLC) that requires less 
     than 0.01 living organisms measuring between 10 and 50 
     micrometers per milliliter of ballast water discharged (1000 
     times the IMO D-2 standard) and requires zero detectable 
     living organisms greater than 50 micrometers per milliliter 
     of ballast water discharged. However, the State has continued 
     to delay implementation of its requirement that vessel owner/
     operators install BWMS that meet these standards because no 
     BWMS are available that meet California's treatment 
     standards. In the CSLC staff's words: More specifically, 
     shipboard ballast water treatment systems cannot be 
     considered available to meet the California performance 
     standards because: 1) no ballast water treatment system has 
     demonstrated efficacy for all of the California performance 
     standards based on the best available data, 2) there are no 
     suitable methods/technology to analyze ballast water samples 
     to determine treatment system efficacy for some of the 
     California performance standards, and 3) a lack of sampling/
     compliance protocols precludes the ability of the Commission 
     to make a conclusive determination about the availability of 
     shipboard ballast water treatment systems to meet the 
     California performance standards.
       In all, 25 States have certified the VGP subject to 
     additional requirements The compliance challenges posed by 
     this situation are staggering. As an example, a commercial 
     vessel owner/operator transiting the full length of the 
     Mississippi River is required to comply not only with 
     applicable Coast Guard requirements under NANPCA/NISA and the 
     EPA's VGP requirements, but also with varying additional VGP 
     permit requirements imposed by the States of Minnesota, 
     Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas. This 
     confusing array of requirements

[[Page S2235]]

     will only continue to grow, confusing vessel owner/operators 
     seeking in good faith to comply, confounding law enforcement 
     authorities, unnecessarily impeding maritime commerce, and, 
     most importantly, diminishing the overall effectiveness of 
     U.S. efforts to combat aquatic invasive species. Strong, 
     uniform national standards are necessary to effectively 
     defend against invasive species brought to the United States 
     in ballast water. The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act would 
     require the Secretary of the department in which the Coast 
     Guard is operating (Secretary), in consultation with the 
     Administrator of the EPA (Administrator), to establish and 
     implement enforceable, uniform, national standards and 
     requirements for the regulation of ballast water discharges 
     and other discharges incidental to the normal operation of 
     vessels. The new standards and requirements would be required 
     to be based upon the best available technology economically 
     achievable, and would generally supersede the current jumble 
     of Federal and State incidental discharge requirements. 
     However, States would retain authority to enforce the new 
     requirements in their waters.--Minority Staff, Senate 
     Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

  Mr. SULLIVAN. This document has myths versus facts on what people are 
saying that this bill could do, and then it gives you the facts. I am 
not going to read each one, but if we have to have a debate on it, I 
certainly will read each one. It is really important to see this wasn't 
created by Senator Wicker or me. If you look at the author of this, it 
was the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation--our 
committee--written by the minority staff. What does that mean?
  This is a Democratic staff under the minority and the Ranking Member 
on the committee saying that all the things you are hearing about how 
this is going to be bad are not true. Those are myths. These are the 
facts. These are our Democratic colleagues rebutting some of the people 
now looking to maybe not vote for this.
  I ask all of my colleagues who are on the fence to take a look at 
this really well-produced myths-versus-facts sheet that was produced by 
our Democratic colleagues on the Commerce Committee because, again, it 
goes to what Senator Wicker was talking about--that this is a very 
strong bipartisan bill that we have been working on for months or 
really years. This has passed out of committee, I think, six different 
times with strong bipartisan support, including when the Democrats were 
chairing the committee.
  I want to say to all of my colleagues that it is not just what is in 
this bill on the VIDA provision, or the discharge provision.
  The bill is about the Coast Guard, the men and women serving in the 
Coast Guard. Every year, as I mentioned, we pass the NDAA, which is 
great--Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines--but we always forget about the 
Coast Guard, and we shouldn't be doing that. They are heroic young men 
and women. We can send a bipartisan signal today that we care about 
them. We are recognizing the heroic work you do for this country and 
the lives you save every day. We have your back.
  I urge all of my colleagues, particularly my colleagues who know this 
issue, who have voted for this bill to come out of committee many 
times--there are well over 60 of us--to vote yes on this important bill 
when it comes to the floor in a few minutes.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, I rise today with my colleagues in advance 
of today's Congressional Review Act vote. I want to be clear about 
something. We are here today for a CRA vote, or a Congressional Review 
Act vote, that is on agency guidance--not a rule but an agency guidance 
from 2013--that seeks to protect consumers from discrimination.
  CRAs are rule rollbacks. They are rolling back rules. They are not, 
though, meant to apply to years-old guidance from Federal agencies.
  Today's vote is actually a radical departure of longstanding norms 
and statutory interpretation that will change the scope of the 
Congressional Review Act. What, then, could possibly be so important 
and so urgent that today we would break from longstanding tradition and 
demand a vote on something that could set an entirely new precedent for 
this body?
  What is the guidance--not rule--that the Trump administration and 
Republican leadership of this body are going so far out of their way to 
undo? What this guidance does, very simply and very clearly, is to try 
to prevent discrimination in purchasing.
  In 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau put this guidance 
in place in response to, unfortunately, widespread and well-documented 
persistent discrimination against Americans of color when financing the 
purchase of a car. The guidance did nothing more than remind indirect 
auto lenders that they were liable under the Equal Credit Opportunity 
Act for pricing disparities caused by markup in compensation policies. 
It offered concrete steps to those auto dealers that they could use to 
ensure compliance and support for fair lending.
  Auto lending is the third most common source of debt for all 
Americans. We know that the way the established financing model works 
too often leaves space for implicit racial bias and leaves space for 
discrimination against Americans of color.
  We know from studies that Americans of color who have better credit 
and who go in to try to purchase and finance a car, compared to White 
Americans with worse credit, will often get higher interest rates and 
worse terms on their loans set by auto dealers. In fact, in one 
specific study conducted by the National Fair Housing Alliance, they 
paired White Americans and people of color to visit auto dealerships 
and shop for the same car within 24 hours of each other. Unfortunately, 
and surprisingly--or maybe not to some--in most cases the applicant who 
was a person of color, despite having better credit and less debt, was 
offered higher cost financing options than the less-qualified White 
applicant. This is a practice that no one can support. This is a 
practice that most Americans think is outrageous. It is clearly wrong, 
and we should address it.
  But we also know that, unfortunately, this kind of discrimination 
isn't unique to the auto industry. There are many areas of American 
lives where people of color, under the same circumstances, are often 
paying more. We know that implicit racial bias exists across sectors 
and industries and is a persistent issue causing people of color to 
have higher costs of living and to pay more.
  Take the three largest lending markets: mortgages, student loans, and 
auto loans. We know discrimination persists in mortgage lending. A 
recent report by the Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed 31 
million mortgage records from 2015 and 2016--just a couple of years 
ago. They found that people of color were much more likely to be denied 
a conventional mortgage than White applicants, even after controlling 
for economic and social factors, including applicants' income, the size 
of the loan they sought, and the neighborhood where they wanted to buy.
  Look at student loans. For-profit colleges disproportionately enroll 
students of color and saddle them often with unaffordable student 
loans, while offering little in the way of value in exchange.
  Look at payday loans. Study after study shows that payday lenders 
concentrate themselves in communities of color where they prey upon 
financially distressed, low-income people and make a bad financial 
situation markedly worse.
  In 2018 we should all agree that we should be doing everything we can 
to protect against this kind of discrimination. When you test, time and 
again, better qualified loan applicants walking in and, within 24 
hours, less qualified applicants walking in, as well, and they get the 
better loan deal, the only difference is the color of their skin. This 
is unacceptable in an America that believes in fairness.
  We should, in a very light touch, do something about that. That is 
what this advice did. This advisory simply said: Hey, auto lenders, 
here are some steps you can take to address this issue.
  The study I referenced of sending in a Black couple followed by a 
White couple is something that hits home for me very personally. My 
family, in the 1960s, was part of a similar situation. In this case, it 
was buying the home that I grew up in. In 1969, just 1 year after the 
passage of the Fair Housing Act, when my parents were trying to find a 
home in New Jersey, they encountered an illegal practice known as real 
estate steering, or trying to keep Black families like mine out of 

[[Page S2236]]

neighborhoods. Their bids on homes were routinely rejected in favor of 
White couples.
  Eventually, my parents went to seek the help of a group of housing 
activists--volunteer lawyers, Black folks, White folks, Christian 
folks, Jewish folks--all part of a group in New Jersey called the Fair 
Housing Council. Together, they set up a sting operation where my 
parents went in and they were told, unfortunately, that the house they 
were looking at that they loved was no longer for sale. Then a 
volunteer White couple came right behind them and put an offer on the 
house, and it was accepted. Papers were drawn up. Then, on the day of 
the closing, the White couple didn't show up; my dad and his lawyer 
did. The real estate agent knew what he was doing was illegal.

  First, he didn't accept it. He actually got angry. In fact, he got up 
and punched my dad's lawyer in the face and sicced the dog on my dad. A 
melee broke out. At the end, he was pleading with my father not to move 
into the neighborhood. He said crazy things like: Your people will not 
be happy here. Now, this is saying that the neighborhood didn't have 
things like ``my people,'' but in this country, we are all one people, 
one Nation, united, and indivisible. There shouldn't be different 
rules, different laws, and different treatment based on the color of 
our skin. I can't believe we are talking about this in 2018.
  My family, thank God, moved into that house. I grew up in that 
hometown--a nurturing community, an incredible community that welcomed 
me and nurtured my brother and me. I am here today because of that kind 
of activism and people willing to stand up and say something basic and 
simple: You should not discriminate on the basis of the color of 
someone's skin.
  Part of the reason I grew up where I was is because there was a law 
that was on my family's side and passed by this body--the Fair Housing 
Act. I am proud that for years, we Republicans and Democrats have stood 
up for this basic principle, this basic ideal. An even bigger part of 
the success of my family and my life is because there were people who 
didn't just celebrate the passage of a law, didn't just say their work 
was done, but they remained vigilant, active, and attentive in making 
sure the law was made real and practiced. They knew protecting 
America's civil rights was not a one-and-done endeavor but required 
constant vigilance.
  The fact is, we have so much work left to do in this country that it 
is frustrating. We have a lot of work to do controlling the impact of 
implicit racial bias. We have people--courageous police officers, 
courageous activists, and police leadership--talking about the presence 
of implicit racial bias. I have been pleased that even Republican 
judges who are nominated, whom I get to interview on the Judiciary 
Committee, speak to the presence of implicit racial bias in the 
criminal justice system that often results with people who are charged 
with a crime, the same circumstances, getting longer sentences just 
because of the color of their skin.
  This is not a partisan issue. This is us working against these issues 
and these factors of American life and making sure the basic ideal of 
fairness in American society is upheld. Outside of this body, American 
people know how implicit racial bias seeps into our criminal justice 
system, into our workplaces, and into our schools. The question is, 
What are we going to do about it? Why are we today going out of our 
way, possibly creating an entirely new congressional precedent, 
changing advisories into rules that can then be rolled back--why are we 
doing this on this issue, to roll back guidance that reflects something 
most of us should be able to agree on?
  When an American goes in to buy a car and gets that car financed, the 
loan terms they get should be based on their creditworthiness--the 
amount of debt they have--not the color of their skin.
  When we have comprehensive studies, empirical tests of literally 
sending in couples to go buy cars, why are we rolling back guidance 
that gives suggestions to auto dealers about how to control this? Why 
would this body, with the history of trying to address racial 
injustice, roll back a rule that is trying to address and control this 
practice in auto lending?
  If you live in communities like mine, having to pay hundreds extra or 
$1,000 extra for a car, in a family making $20,000 or $30,000 a year, 
struggling for that moment that we all know, when you get your car, you 
get your keys, why should they have to pay more and have it impact on 
their home, their well-being, their finances, their college savings, 
and their ability to pay their mortgage? It is unfair. Based on what? 
Their skin color.
  Rolling back this guidance has nothing to do with trimming 
bureaucracy. It is guidance. It will not help consumers. It will not 
help Americans of color. It will not help the ideals we swear an oath 
to--justice for all--and it is certainly not going to help our country 
to just be a place where working stiffs can get a fair shot at things 
we think of as the American dream: owning your home, sending your kids 
to college, and having a car.
  At a time when the rest of the country seems to be paying closer 
attention to issues of discrimination, when we see anti-Semitism on the 
rise, greater attacks on Muslim Americans, at a time when we are 
looking at racial issues, why are we doing this now or at any time?
  By passing this measure, we will be sending a message to millions of 
Americans that this body isn't just willfully out of touch but that we 
are going out of our way to create an environment where this practice 
is going to thrive, where the practice and the perpetration of 
discrimination against Americans of color persists in our country.
  We should be beyond this. This is a chance, today, where we can make 
a difference. It may not seem big. We can send a message that these 
kinds of practices will not be tolerated. We can send a message that 
every American matters to this body. We can send a message that 
discrimination and prejudice, implicit or not, will not be tolerated on 
this soil.
  I ask my colleagues, I beseech my colleagues, in the name of an 
American who is here today because of the Fair Housing Act, because of 
tests like this, where White couples have said--Black couples have 
said, ``I am here because of this history,'' why would we turn our 
backs on that kind of progress and not stand up for basic American 
  Thank you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, before the Senator from New Jersey leaves 
the floor, I want to say, this Senator has run into few people who are 
as articulate and passionate to represent the least among us in our 
country. I want the Senator from New Jersey to know how grateful I am 
for his advocacy, for his determination, for his civility, for his 
passion, and for his heart.
  I thank the Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. BOOKER. I thank the Senator. I thank him for modeling that very 
character to me every day that I serve with him.
  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, before this sounds like an admiration 
society, I will say it is genuinely felt.

                    Nomination of James Bridenstine

  Mr. President, what I want to do is talk about the leadership of our 
civilian space program. Traditionally, the NASA administrator has been 
well qualified and is not controversial.
  NASA is one of the few remaining areas that has largely avoided the 
bitter partisanship that has invaded far too many areas of government 
in our society today--until now.
  The NASA nominee, Congressman Bridenstine, was nominated to head NASA 
last fall. His hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee was among the 
most contentious I have ever been a part of. He was voted out of the 
committee on party lines, and Senators on both sides of the aisle have 
expressed doubts, both publicly and privately, to me on his 
qualifications for the job.
  The NASA Administrator should be a consummate space professional. 
That is what this Senator wants, a space professional, not a 
politician, as the head of NASA. That space professional ought to be 
technically and scientifically competent and a skilled executive. More 
importantly, the Administrator must be a leader who has the ability to 
bring us together, to unite scientists, engineers, commercial space

[[Page S2237]]

interests, policymakers, and the public on a shared vision for future 
space exploration.
  As you know, our goal is going to Mars in the decade of the 2030s. We 
set the goal first with the Obama administration and now with the Trump 
administration. What pains me is, I believe the one who has been 
nominated to head this not partisan, not bipartisan--NASA has always 
been nonpartisan--agency, I am afraid we are hitting a different 
  My concern comes from having witnessed very directly the tragic 
consequence when NASA leadership has failed us.
  When it comes to the ultimate frontier of space, there are always 
going to be risks involved, but the NASA Administrator bears the 
responsibility, accountability, and the final decision for the lives of 
astronauts who explore the heavens on behalf of all of us.
  I have personally witnessed--in both the Challenger and the Columbia 
accidents, we learned that engineers at NASA knew of the dangers and 
tried to sound the alarm, but NASA's management and its structure, 
while well-intentioned in both of those tragedies, filtered out debate 
and dissent, and the warnings of the engineers went unheeded with 
heartbreaking consequences. And so it was, in 1986, with the launch of 
the Challenger--10 days after this Senator had returned on the 24th 
flight of the space shuttle to Earth--there was the tragic consequence. 
Even the engineers out in Provo, UT, who were engineers on the solid 
rocket boosters, were begging their management the night before the 
launch to stop the count when they saw on NASA TV the icicles hanging 
on the launch tower.
  We learned later in the investigation, knowing as we now know, that 
they had received back the solid rocket boosters from previous flights 
in January, where they saw blow-by of the hot gases past the field 
joints that were supposed to be sealed with the rubberized gaskets, 
called O rings, but because of the cold weather, they stiffened and did 
not seal the field joint, and the hot gases escaped. As the Challenger 
was traveling into the Florida sky, it hit right at the external tank, 
punctured the tank, and the crew was lost.
  So, too, engineers in 2003 and before and crew members--like one of 
the best of the best, CAPT Robert Gibson, U.S. Navy, Retired, five-time 
shuttle astronaut, four-time commander--had pointed out after each 
flight, examining the orbiter, that it looked as though it had been 
shredded. In his words: It was as if you had taken a shotgun out and 
just shot buckshot into the delicate silicon tile. As a result, on 
launch, on ascent, pieces of the foam of the external tank were falling 
off and hitting the delicate silicon tiles of the space shuttle 
  Of course, on that fateful day in early February of 2003, that is 
exactly what happened. A chunk of the insulation foam just about the 
size of an insulated cooler, on ascent, as the orbiter is accelerating, 
falls in the acceleration and hits the carbon-carbon fiber of the 
leading edge of the left wing and knocks a hole in it.
  Of course, on ascent to orbit, there is no problem; on orbit, there 
is no problem. The problem comes after the deorbit burn and after the 
space shuttle falls for 30 minutes through the vacuum of space and then 
starts encountering the molecules of air in the upper atmosphere. As 
those upper atmosphere air molecules hit the underside of the space 
shuttle, the nose of the space shuttle, and the leading edges of the 
wing, the temperatures grow to over 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and there 
is a big hole in the leading edge of the left wing. Of course, the left 
wing burns up, and the crew is destroyed high in the descent over east 
  NASA's management structure, well-intentioned, filtered out debate 
and dissent, did not listen to those astronaut commanders like Hoot 
Gibson, and did not listen years earlier, in 1985 and 1986, to those 
engineers at Morton Thiokol. The result is the loss of 2 space shuttles 
and 14 souls, including on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, the 
first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon.
  In the aftermath of Columbia, NASA was reorganized so that safety 
concerns from engineering and safety personnel are not squashed like 
they were, but instead elevated--ultimately, to whom? To the guy at the 
top, the NASA Administrator. To make those decisions, the Administrator 
must draw on all of his or her knowledge of the engineering principles 
and of space flight, all of his or her experience from managing large 
technical organizations, and every bit of judgment, reason, and 
impartiality he or she can muster.
  Leading NASA is a job for an experienced and proven space 
professional. The success or failure of leadership at NASA is, quite 
literally, a matter of life and death.
  I commend Congressman Bridenstine's time as a pilot, and his service 
to our country in the military is commendable. But it does not qualify 
him to make the complex and nuanced engineering, safety, and budgetary 
decisions for which the head of NASA has to be accountable.
  Furthermore, Congressman Bridenstine's recent public service career 
does not instill great confidence about his ability to bring people 
together. His record of behavior in Congress is as divisive as any in 
Washington, including his attacks on Members of this body from his own 
party. It is hard to see how that record will endear him--and, by 
extension, NASA--to Congress and, most importantly, endear him to the 
American people.
  Finally, given NASA's mission to study the Earth--that is one of 
NASA's missions--Congressman Bridenstine's past statements on climate 
change are troubling, to say the least. Particularly in this 
administration where words like ``science-based'' and ``climate 
change'' are being scrubbed from government documents and where some 
scientists have been restricted from speaking publicly about scientific 
findings, NASA needs an Administrator--a leader, a strong leader--who 
understands the critical importance of studying the Earth and is 
willing to put his job on the line to protect NASA's scientists. 
Congressman Bridenstine's record suggests that he will do otherwise.
  I don't come to this decision lightly. I hold nothing against him 
personally. He is a very likable fellow. My decision is not politically 
motivated. In fact, I supported the nomination of Chief Financial 
Officer Jeff DeWit because he was qualified for the job as Chief 
Financial Officer, and he was confirmed without a problem and is in 
that job. Of course, if Congressman Bridenstine is, in fact, confirmed, 
I will work with him for the good of our Nation's space program.
  My opposition to this nomination comes from decades of experience and 
an understanding of NASA's history and having lived through some of its 
darkest moments.
  I have no doubt that the nominee is passionate about our space 
program, and I don't doubt his motivation or his intentions. What is 
not right for NASA is an Administrator who is politically divisive and 
who is not prepared to be the last in line to make that fateful 
decision on go or no-go for launch. Therefore, I will oppose this 
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I rise today to voice my strong support for 
the nomination of Congressman James ``Jim'' Bridenstine to be the next 
NASA Administrator. On November 1, 2017, the Senate Commerce, Science, 
& Transportation Committee, which I chair, held a confirmation hearing 
for Congressman Bridenstine's nomination and reported his nomination 
favorably on November 8, 2017, and again on January 18, 2018.
  So far, it has been 1 year and nearly 3 months since this important 
agency has had a Senate-confirmed Administrator. What is more, NASA's 
Acting Administrator, Robert Lightfoot, will retire at the end of this 
month. Congressman Bridenstine's vision, experience, and passion for 
NASA's vital mission are unquestionable, and I believe that his 
leadership will not only serve the agency well, but that his 
confirmation will give NASA the leadership it deserves.
  Congressman Bridenstine has an extensive record of both military and 
public service. In 1998, he began his distinguished military career 
serving as an aviator in the U.S. Navy. As an Active Duty pilot in the 
Navy, he flew the E-2C Hawkeye off the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft 
carrier and deployed for multiple combat missions in Iraq

[[Page S2238]]

and Afghanistan. While still on Active Duty, he transitioned to the F-
18 Hornet and flew as an ``aggressor'' at the Naval Strike and Air 
Warfare ``Top Gun'' Center.
  After leaving Active Duty in 2007, Congressman Bridenstine returned 
to Tulsa, OK. He continued his military service in the Navy Reserve, 
flying counterdrug missions in Central and South America. He is 
currently a member of the 137th Special Operations Wing of the Oklahoma 
Air National Guard, where he serves at the rank of major.
  In 2012, he was elected to the House of Representatives to represent 
Oklahoma's First Congressional District.
  He currently serves on both the House Armed Services Committee and 
the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, where he has 
distinguished himself as a leader on space policy.
  In spite of Congressman Bridenstine's exceptional military and public 
service, some of my colleagues have expressed concerns about his 
  With regard to these concerns, I would note that the Commerce, 
Science, & Transportation Committee has received significant bipartisan 
support from the space community for Congressman Bridenstine's 
nomination. In fact, over 50 space-related leaders and organizations 
have submitted letters of support, including Democratic Congressman 
Perlmutter, former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, and astronaut Buzz 
  Beyond the support of this diverse group of stakeholders in the space 
community, Congressman Bridenstine also enjoys the support of his 
colleagues in the House. On March 20, 2018, more than 60 Members of the 
House of Representatives, both Republicans and Democrats, signed a 
letter to Senate leadership requesting that Congressman Bridenstine's 
nomination move forward in the Senate.
  The endorsement of so many stakeholders in the space community and 
the endorsement of Congressman Bridenstine's colleagues are reflective 
of the truly bipartisan nature of what Congressman Bridenstine would 
like to accomplish at NASA. Because of this, I am confident that 
Congressman Bridenstine's leadership would serve NASA well.
  I urge my colleagues to support his nomination.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.

                     Coast Guard Authorization Bill

  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, I once again rise to express my strong 
support for the Coast Guard reauthorization bill and the Vessel 
Incident Discharge Act, which is contained within it. I also wish to 
thank the, literally, dozens and dozens and pages and pages of 
organizations that have come forward and said that this is an important 
piece of legislation for job creation and for those people who want to 
make a living on our waterways in this vital, vital aspect of our 
  To pick up on something we were mentioning a few moments ago, not 
only does this legislation have the support of the chamber of commerce, 
business associations around the country, and job creation associations 
around the country, it has the support of the International Association 
of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the International Brotherhood of 
Boilermakers, the International Longshoremen's Association, the 
International Union of Operating Engineers, and Metal Trades AFL-CIO 
and Maritime Trades AFL-CIO. I could go on and on, pointing out that 
this legislation has the support of both labor and management.
  I appreciate people of diverse political ideologies coming together 
on something that is going to make it easier to do commerce in the 
United States. I just hope we can get the 60 votes we require for 
consensus here in this body. I know we are close. We have 60 people who 
have, at one time or another, expressed support for this legislation, 
and I hope we can come together in a convergence in a few moments when 
we vote for this.
  I want to discuss a couple of misconceptions that keep floating 
around about the ballast water, incidental water issue.
  First, some people are saying that the bill lowers the environmental 
standards for ballast water. Of course, nothing could be further from 
the truth. Why would these organizations come forward with this if we 
are going to lower the standards? The very language of the bill 
preserves current Federal standards. Also, the bill includes what is 
already in the law; that is, the Environmental Protection Agency will 
have a principal role in setting the national standard for ballast 
water discharge.
  The new standards and requirements would be based upon a term of art, 
and the term of art in the language is ``best available technology 
economically achievable,'' BATEA. This term comes straight out of our 
current Clean Water Act. It is already there. But in the Vessel 
Incidental Discharge Act--which we hope we can bring to the floor in a 
few moments--the best available technology would be mandated for this 
new, nationwide standard. This standard would, of course, be enforced 
by the Coast Guard, but it would be developed by the EPA according to 
the most stringent, scientifically available standards we could 
possibly have.
  What we are trying to do in this regard is free up commerce--free up 
working men and women, free up people trying to create more jobs in the 
maritime industry--from complying with a myriad of different 
requirements as we go State to State to State. Some 25 different States 
have a little bit of a nuanced approach to this. As you can imagine, if 
you are in the barge business or in the maritime business, it is almost 
impossible to comply with 25 separate standards. This would set one 
standard across the country, but it would be at the best available 
technology. So please, don't anyone think this is some sort of lesser 
technology. This is the best.
  According to the very wording of the bill that we are asking the 
Senate to vote on today, EPA concurrence is required for these 
regulations to be established. It would not be able to be enforced 
unless EPA comes in and blesses it. And EPA would have a principal role 
in developing the proposed regulations.
  Let me say a word or two about the Great Lakes. This seems to be a 
matter of concern and misunderstanding. There is a myth that this 
somehow harms the Great Lakes. I have to commend the principal author 
of this legislation and the Senator from Alaska, who is currently 
occupying the Chair, for being willing to accommodate our friends from 
the Great Lakes during this process. The Great Lakes gets a little 
extra treatment in this bill because of concerns they have raised.
  Here is what will happen if we pass this bill. All vessels entering 
the Great Lakes will need to flush their ballast water before entering. 
The only ballast water then being discharged by Great Lakes vessels 
will be water that they have taken in from the Great Lakes. They have 
to flush their ballast tanks before coming in. That is an accommodation 
we have made to bring our friends from the Great Lakes into this issue. 
According to this bill, the Coast Guard, in concurrence with the EPA, 
would be required to establish best management practices specifically 
tailored to the Great Lakes.
  I would just say to my friends, let's talk about the facts, but 
please don't make up arguments that are not based in fact. This 
legislation, if it passes--and I still think we have an opportunity to 
get 60 votes and move on to considering the substance--would use the 
best scientifically available enforcement possible. It would give our 
barge folks and our maritime folks just one thing to comply with rather 
than 25 or 26 or 27 different regulatory schemes. And what do those 
myriad of schemes do? Every time you have to hire a lawyer or a 
compliance person, it is money you take out of your bottom line that 
you would like to use creating a job in America. That is what these 
people want to do. They want to increase employment for these 
boilermakers and longshoremen who have endorsed this bill.
  I say to my friends, let's not be confused with arguments that have 
come in in the last week or two that have no basis in fact. This is a 
bill about strong, strong requirements for the water that, 
incidentally, has to come out of the ballast tanks, and it is about 
strong enforcement by the Coast Guard of standards imposed by the EPA 
according to the best available scientific technology--strong 
requirements to protect our environment but also to protect jobs and 
commerce for Americans.

[[Page S2239]]

  I think we are going to vote in 10 or 11 minutes. I urge my 
colleagues who have at one time or the other come forward and endorsed 
this very proposal, please stay with us on this, particularly based on 
the accommodations the Senator from Alaska has made to make the bill 
more accommodating and more conclusive of the concerns that have been 
raised. I urge a ``yes'' vote.
  We are going to continue this fight one way or another. This is a day 
we ought to stand for doing something for commerce, for labor, for 
business, and in the name of bipartisanship and in the name of 
rewarding the way we ought to be legislating on the floor.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Idaho.
  Mr. CRAPO. Mr. President, in a few minutes, at noon, the Senate will 
begin the process of voting--two votes. The first of those votes will 
be a vote on a resolution brought to the Senate by Senator Moran and 
Senator Toomey to reject a rule proposed by the Consumer Financial 
Protection Bureau's 2013 action in which it sought to assert 
jurisdiction over auto finance guidance. I use the word ``rule'' 
guardedly, though, because, as you will see from my remarks, this was 
an end run by the CFPB in two ways. First, the CFPB doesn't have 
jurisdiction over auto finance. Second, the CFPB did not use the 
Administrative Procedure Act to adopt a rule; it sought to implement a 
rule through a process of issuing a guidance to avoid the scrutiny and 
the legal challenges to its effort to assert this jurisdiction.
  It is important that Congress disapprove this guidance because it was 
an attempt by the CFPB to make substantive policy changes through 
guidance rather than through the rulemaking process governed by the 
Administrative Procedure Act. As I said before, it is also an attempt 
to regulate auto dealers, who were explicitly exempted from CFPB 
supervision and regulation under the Dodd-Frank act. Finally, it is 
also a rule that has caused great difficulty and problems in the 
marketplace, hurting auto dealers and consumers alike.
  The CFPB itself, when undertaking this action, admitted what it was 
doing. The CFPB rejected developing a rule using its statutory 
authority because the actions it was seeking to regulate are ostensibly 
those of dealers over whom it has no regulatory authority. It is 
interesting that even in the CFPB's own documentation of what it was 
doing, it indicated that it didn't have the authority to do it. So the 
CFPB decided to develop a guidance, rather than a rule, as a backdoor 
way to regulate auto dealers.
  The CFPB's indirect auto bulletin represents a departure from typical 
Federal agency practice, as reflected in the GAO's conclusion that its 
rule is subject to CRA requirements. In other words, in a ruling, the 
GAO said: Yes, this actually is a rule even though the Administrative 
Procedure Act wasn't followed. That decision by the GAO gives this 
Congress the authority to reject the CFPB's actions.
  Some of my colleagues on the other side say that disapproving 
guidance is somehow a loophole we are using because we should only have 
authority to disapprove a specific rule. The GAO's ruling on the CFPB's 
guidance clearly puts this within the jurisdiction of this Senate.
  I would point my colleagues to a statement from, among others, 
Senator Reid in the Congressional Record from 1996 when the 
Congressional Review Act was passed, explaining what the authors' 
intent was when passing this legislation. He said: ``[T]he authors are 
concerned that some agencies have attempted to circumvent notice-and-
comment requirements by trying to give legal effect to general 
statements of policy, `guidelines,' and agency policy and procedure 
manuals. The authors admonish the agencies that the APA's broad 
definition of `rule' was adopted by the authors of this legislation to 
discourage circumvention of the requirements'' of it.
  As a result of these significant concerns, this resolution has 
attracted substantial support, including from 14 different 
organizations involved with helping consumers buy a vehicle, and an 
endorsement via a Statement of Administration Policy from the White 
House. The following organizations submitted letters: the Chamber of 
Commerce, the Credit Union National Association, the Independent 
Community Bankers of America, the American Bankers Association, the 
American Financial Services Association, the National Automobile 
Dealers Association, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the 
National RV Dealers Association, the National Independent Automobile 
Dealers Association, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, the 
American International Automobile Dealers Association, the National 
Auto Auction Association, the Motorcycle Industry Council, and the 
National Federation of Independent Business.
  Finally, I would like to respond to the assertion that disapproving 
this guidance somehow allows auto dealers to discriminate. That is the 
issue that is at stake here. The reason that Congress did not give the 
CFPB jurisdiction over auto dealers is that the auto dealers are 
already subject to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. If we reject this 
resolution, the auto dealers will continue to be subject to the Equal 
Credit Opportunity Act, which will continue to apply to all creditors, 
which means auto dealers who extend credit will be prohibited from 
discriminating against customers on the basis of race, sex, age, 
national origin, marital status, or because one receives public 
  In other words, we are not changing the law. We are not taking away 
any protections in the law. We are stopping a rogue agency from 
continuing to be able to enforce a rule which it sought to create by 
avoiding the Administrative Procedure Act.
  I urge my colleagues to vote to support this resolution.
  Mr. President, I yield my time.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CRAPO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Order of Procedure

  Mr. CRAPO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that there be 5 
minutes of debate, equally divided, prior to the second vote.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. CRAPO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to start the first 
vote immediately.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The joint resolution was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading 
and was read the third time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The joint resolution having been read the 
third time, the question is, Shall the joint resolution pass?
  The yeas and nays have been ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Arizona (Mr. McCain).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Illinois (Ms. Duckworth) 
is necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Ernst). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 51, nays 47, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 76 Leg.]





[[Page S2240]]

     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen

                             NOT VOTING--2

  The joint resolution (S.J. Res. 57) was passed, as follows:

                              S.J. Res. 57

       Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
     United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress 
     disapproves the rule submitted by the Bureau of Consumer 
     Financial Protection relating to ``Indirect Auto Lending and 
     Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act'' (CFPB 
     Bulletin 2013-02 (March 21, 2013), and printed in the 
     Congressional Record on December 6, 2017, on pages S7888-
     S7889, along with a letter of opinion from the Government 
     Accountability Office dated December 5, 2017, that the 
     Bulletin is a rule under the Congressional Review Act), and 
     such rule shall have no force or effect.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motion to 
reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table.