EXECUTIVE SESSION
(Senate - April 24, 2018)

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[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 66 (Tuesday, April 24, 2018)]
[Pages S2372-S2381]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I move to proceed to executive session 
to consider Calendar No. 619, Richard Grenell.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the motion.
  The motion was agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the nomination.
  The bill clerk read the nomination of Richard Grenell, of California, 
to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States 
of America to the Federal Republic of Germany.


                             Cloture Motion

  Mr. McCONNELL. I send a cloture motion to the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  The bill clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination 
     of Richard Grenell, of California, to be Ambassador 
     Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of 
     America to the Federal Republic of Germany.
         Mitch McConnell, Cory Gardner, Orrin G. Hatch, Tom 
           Cotton, James Lankford, Steve Daines, Roy Blunt, Mike 
           Crapo, Johnny Isakson, John Thune, Thom Tillis, James 
           M. Inhofe, Pat Roberts, Lindsey Graham, James E. Risch, 
           John Hoeven, John Boozman.

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
mandatory quorum calls for the cloture motions be waived.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that with 
respect to the Dunkin nomination, the motion to reconsider be 
considered made and laid upon the table and the President be 
immediately notified of the Senate's action.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. 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. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Johnson). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.


                               Tax Reform

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I was reading a piece in the Wall Street 
Journal last week by Kevin Hassett, who was the Chairman of the White 
House Council of Economic Advisers. His piece made an important point 
that doesn't often come out as clearly as it should, and that is that 
when American businesses benefit, American workers benefit. My friends 
on the other side of the aisle like to obfuscate that point.
  Presumably they think they can gain political points by pitting 
businesses and workers against each other, as if benefits for 
businesses and benefits for workers were somehow diametrically opposed 
and as if, somehow, workers could thrive while businesses struggle.
  As the piece I was reading pointed out, ``In a modern competitive 
economy, workers do well when their employers do.'' If you think about 
it, it really is just common sense. The vast majority of working 
Americans work for businesses, whether they are self-employed, an 
employee of a small business, or an employee of a large corporation. 
For those employees to thrive, the businesses they are working for have 
to thrive as well.
  Struggling businesses do not invest in workers; they can't. They 
don't hire new employees. They don't raise wages. They don't improve 
benefits.
  On the other hand, thriving businesses do invest in their workers, 
they do hire new employees, they do raise wages, and they do improve 
benefits. Leaving aside the fact that most business owners want to 
invest in their workers, successful business owners have to invest in 
their workers if they want their businesses to keep thriving.
  For starters, successful businesses tend to need new workers, and the 
way to attract new workers is with good wages, good opportunities, and 
good benefits. Once a successful business has good employees, it tends 
to want to keep them so that the business can keep prospering and 
thriving. How do businesses keep employees? The same way they attract 
them in the first place--with good wages, good opportunities, and good 
benefits.
  As Mr. Hassett notes in the Wall Street Journal:

       Research by economists Alan Krueger and Lawrence Summers, 
     both of whom served in the Obama administration, shows that 
     more-profitable employers pay higher wages. Any company that 
     attempts to pay a worker less than he is worth will quickly 
     lose that worker to a competitor. Thus, firms that want to 
     thrive must invest in their plants and their workers.

  Ask any business owner in the country, and he or she will tell you 
that it is a competitive labor market. Unemployment is at a 17-year 
low. In a tight, competitive labor market, employers have to work to 
keep their employees.
  Our focus with last fall's tax reform was on making life better for 
ordinary Americans, so we set out to put more money in their pockets 
right away by cutting tax rates across the board, nearly doubling the 
standard deduction and doubling the child tax credit. As a result, for 
2018, a family of four making $73,000 will see a tax cut of more than 
$2,000.
  We knew the tax cuts, as helpful as they are, weren't enough. 
Americans also needed access to profitable careers, good jobs, good 
wages, and good

[[Page S2373]]

opportunities. We knew the only way to guarantee access to good jobs, 
good wages, and good opportunities was to make sure businesses were 
prosperous enough to create and maintain them. So when it came time for 
tax reform, we set out to improve the playing field for American 
workers by improving the playing field for businesses, as well, and it 
is working.
  Companies are putting tax reform to work. They are investing in new 
equipment, expanding their facilities, and growing their lines of 
business, all of which mean more jobs and opportunities for Americans.
  Most importantly, companies are passing along the benefits of tax 
reform. Company after company has announced pay raises, bonuses, 401(k) 
match increases, and other benefits for their workers. Others are 
passing tax savings on to their customers in the form of things like 
utility rate cuts.
  The tax reform law has been in place only for 4 months. As businesses 
continue to see the benefits of tax reform, we can expect to see the 
playing field for workers continue to improve.
  Ultimately, by helping American businesses thrive, tax reform will 
help give more Americans access to the kinds of jobs, wages, and 
opportunities that not only will benefit them right now but also will 
give them access to security and prosperity for the long term.


                       Nomination of Mike Pompeo

  Mr. President, before I close, I would like to take a couple of 
minutes to discuss the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of 
State.
  I don't need to tell anyone how incredibly qualified he is for this 
job: first in his class at West Point; 5 years of Active-Duty service 
in the Army, achieving the rank of captain; editor of the Harvard Law 
Review; elected to Congress four times by Kansas's Fourth Congressional 
District, serving on the House Intelligence Committee; and, finally, 
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Clearly, he has proved his 
dedication as a public servant and is an outstanding candidate for 
Secretary of State.
  His nomination should be sailing through the Senate, and normally it 
would be. Prior to this Presidency, we were on a pretty bipartisan 
track for Secretary of State confirmations. Members of both parties 
believed it was important that a President have a national security 
team to support him, and they voted accordingly. John Kerry was 
confirmed as Secretary of State by a vote of 94 to 3. Hillary Clinton 
was confirmed as Secretary of State by a vote of 94 to 2. Condoleezza 
Rice was confirmed as Secretary of State by a vote of 85 to 13, and 
Colin Powell was confirmed as Secretary of State unanimously.
  This doesn't mean that Republicans agreed with all of John Kerry's or 
Hillary Clinton's policies or that the Democrats agreed with all of 
Condoleezza Rice's or Colin Powell's policies. But Members of both 
parties recognized that these nominees were qualified, and they 
believed that partisanship shouldn't play a role when it came to making 
sure the President had a national security team to support him.
  Fast forward to today. Gone is the bipartisanship of the past. Today, 
Democrats are obstructing an entirely and eminently qualified candidate 
for Secretary of State for the sole reason that they don't like this 
President. They didn't get their way in the last election, and, in 
response, they have spent the last year or more obstructing one 
qualified nominee after another.
  I get that the Democrats don't like President Trump, but when you are 
a Member of the U.S. Senate, you have to think beyond your own 
preferences and accept the fact that in a free country with free 
elections, sometimes you don't get your way.
  Obstructing nominees has consequences. At the very least, delaying a 
President's ability to staff his administration diminishes his ability 
to serve the American people effectively, but that is not all. 
Obstructing certain nominees, such as a nominee for Secretary of State, 
can have consequences for our national security and diplomacy. An 
incomplete national security team is a detriment to the safety and 
security of our country.
  Right now, the United States and our allies are currently facing a 
number of serious challenges from North Korea and an increasingly 
emboldened Iran to chemical attacks in Syria and the ever-present 
threat of terrorists. It is vital that the President have a fully 
equipped national security team to monitor and address these dangers. 
It is beyond irresponsible that Senate Democrats are compromising the 
President's ability to respond to threats simply because they prefer 
not to confirm anyone he has nominated.
  Democrats should immediately drop their obstruction of Mike Pompeo 
and confirm him as Secretary of State, and they should stop obstructing 
other qualified national security nominees, such as Andrea Thompson, a 
native of my home State of South Dakota, who has been nominated as 
Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security 
Affairs.
  You would think Democrats would be content with their unprecedented 
obstruction of the President's nominees, but, unfortunately, there is 
another thing the Democrats are obstructing right now, and that is the 
Coast Guard reauthorization bill.
  Once again, it is clear that Democrats are obstructing not because 
they have serious objections to the bill but because obstruction has 
become their default response to legislation in the Republican-led 
Congress.
  Democrats claim that the Coast Guard reauthorization bill has not 
received sufficient input or debate, and that could not be further from 
the truth. A portion of the bill they are ostensibly concerned about is 
the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, or VIDA. It has been introduced in 
the last five Congresses, and more than one of those times it was 
introduced by Democrats.
  The current version of the bill is the product of not just months but 
years of hearings, meetings, and negotiations. Despite the fact that 
this year's original version of VIDA had bipartisan support, we made a 
number of further concessions to address concerns that have been raised 
by Democratic Senators, but they just keep moving the goal posts. It 
has become pretty clear that Democrats' real objection is not to the 
bill itself but to working with Republicans or to seeing the President 
accomplish anything.
  I hardly need to say the Coast Guard reauthorization bill is an 
important bill. It authorizes the Coast Guard's funding, as well as pay 
and benefits for Coast Guard personnel, who play a vital role in 
maintaining national security and law and order in the waters around 
the United States.
  It would be nice if Democrats would consider dropping their partisan 
objections and working with Republicans to pass this essential piece of 
legislation and working with us to help get confirmed particularly 
critical national security nominees at a time when we face an array of 
threats across the entire planet.
  Nominees like the Secretary of State, particularly well-qualified 
ones, are not to be trifled with. It is not a time to play politics 
when you are dealing with America's vital national security interests.
  I hope that this Chamber, this body, will return to the tradition we 
have had in past administrations in which we have approved Secretaries 
of State, as I said earlier, by votes of 94 to 3, 94 to 2, 85 to 13, 
and unanimously. Those were the last four Secretaries of State. This 
has turned into a partisan game, if you will, at a time when our 
country really can't afford for us to play partisan games.
  I hope when this vote comes up later this week, we will have a big 
bipartisan vote, consistent with our history and consistent with the 
fact that when you have a qualified nominee for an important position 
like this, this Senate comes together, takes very seriously its 
constitutional role in the confirmation process, and has that vote--
hopefully, a big bipartisan vote in support of Mike Pompeo.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.


                              North Korea

  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, I have been pleased to hear about the 
progress in the planned negotiations with North Korea over their 
nuclear program. I was glad to hear of Director Pompeo's successful 
visit to North Korea, and I, as much as anyone in this body, wishes the 
administration success in these talks and negotiations. Given the 
history of broken promises, I have my

[[Page S2374]]

doubts as to whether the North Korean regime has any genuine interest 
or willingness to denuclearize, but even a freeze will be welcome.
  However, I am concerned about the language used by the President 
today when discussing the North Korean regime. To say that Kim Jong Un 
has been ``very open'' or ``very honorable,'' as the President did, 
surpasses understanding. If this description of one of the world's 
strongman dictators were a singular event, a one-off statement, it 
could perhaps be excused as an aberration, but, unfortunately, it is 
not. It is part of a larger pattern of excusing dictatorial behavior 
that we should not countenance.
  We need not sacrifice the truth and reject objective reality in 
pursuit of our goals. We cannot pretend that the Kim Jong Un of today 
is somehow different from the authoritarian dictator who has ruled over 
one of the most violent and repressive regimes on Earth.
  I am happy to hear that the North Korean Government is apparently 
engaging as an honest broker in the process of arranging these talks, 
but I believe that how the President of the United States describes 
world leaders matters. For the President to describe a leader who 
stands credibly accused of starving his own people, violently executing 
his political opponents, and murdering members of his own family as 
``very open'' and ``very honorable'' is beyond comprehension. 
Furthermore, it undermines the moral authority we have long possessed 
on the world stage.
  The President himself has previously declared Kim Jong Un as 
``obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his own 
people.'' The President has also repeatedly and correctly referred to 
the North Korean regime's violent torture of Otto Warmbier as 
``horrible.'' The pursuit of these negotiations does not require that 
we surrender the values we stand for as a nation.
  We cannot pretend the atrocities of the Northern Korean regime are a 
thing of the past. We need to enter these negotiations with our eyes 
wide open. We must understand and recognize who it is we are sitting 
across the table from. Only then do I believe we will actually succeed 
in these negotiations and emerge from this planned summit with the 
result we all seek--a safer world.
  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.
  Ms. CORTEZ MASTO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                               Dark Money

  Ms. CORTEZ MASTO. Mr. President, there is an old saying that ``there 
is no such thing as a free lunch,'' but what about other things? What 
about free Spanish language driver's education classes? What about free 
backpacks, notebooks, pencils, and school supplies in the month before 
school starts? What about free financial wellness workshops, free 
turkeys in the week before Thanksgiving?
  These thing are all given away at events hosted by the LIBRE 
Initiative--a self-described grassroots organization dedicated to a 
``free and open society.'' The events were held in Latino communities 
throughout the country, including Las Vegas, Miami, and Orlando.
  People attending these events were asked to fill out a questionnaire. 
Questions included:
  ``Are you more likely to vote for a Republican or a Democrat in the 
2016 election?''
  ``Do you feel the government should increase or decrease Federal 
spending in order to improve the economy?''
  ``What is your name, email address, and telephone number?''
  People actually had to hand over their personal data in exchange for 
the free stuff. So the stuff wasn't really free after all--but close 
enough, right?
  Well, in a career spent as a prosecutor, I have learned one thing: 
Always follow the money. If you follow the money just one step back, 
you learn that LIBRE is a shell organization funded by Charles and 
David Koch, two of the most powerful men in American politics. Charles 
and David Koch are the owners of Koch Industries, a massive energy 
company that manufactures, distributes, and refines petroleum. Koch 
Industries is one of the largest privately held companies in the 
Nation, with estimated annual revenues of over $100 billion.
  What does all this mean? It means the Koch brothers are two very rich 
men, and there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is the way the 
Koch brothers use their money to hijack our democracy for their own 
benefit.
  The Koch brothers are self-described radicals who believe the 
government should play no role in Americans' lives. The Koch brothers 
believe in a world with no Medicare, no Social Security, no Federal 
minimum wage, no public programs that support families when they fall 
on hard times, and no rules preventing Koch Industries from polluting 
our air, drinking water, or our public lands.
  The Koch brothers hate environmental regulations because Koch 
Industries is one of the top 10 worst polluters in the United States. 
Fewer environmental regulations mean the Koch brothers can obtain 
bigger financial gains.
  To keep their empire afloat, the Koch brothers are not just polluting 
our environment, they are polluting our political system, and they are 
polluting our airways with false advertising.
  The Kochs want Americans to believe climate change is a conspiracy, 
despite the global scientific consensus that climate change is caused 
by burning fossil fuels. Why would they want to cast doubt on 
scientific fact? Because the Koch brothers sell and burn fossil fuels 
for a living, and they believe protecting our environment is bad for 
their bottom line.
  To protect their bottom line, the Kochs funnel money through a 
network of nonprofit organizations, foundations, and shell companies. 
These companies lobby the government, produce fake research reports, 
and run ad campaigns to manipulate and deceive the American people.
  Buying a democracy does not come cheap, but the Koch brothers are not 
stingy. In 2010, the year Citizens United opened the floodgates for big 
money in politics, the Kochs spent $125 million to support Republican 
candidates who pledged to roll back environmental and consumer 
protections.
  Since the 2010 elections, their influence has grown. They have spent 
hundreds of millions of dollars supporting candidates who spread lies 
that climate change is a conspiracy, that immigrants cause crime, and 
that more money in the Koch brothers' pocket means more money in yours.
  Now, the Koch brothers have big plans for the upcoming 2018 election. 
They have announced they will spend $400 million in the upcoming 
election cycle--their largest midterm election investment yet. Much of 
that money will be spent directly targeting Latinos through 
advertisements, events, and workshops.
  The Koch brothers think they can buy the Latino vote, just like they 
bought the votes of the House Freedom Caucus and so many other 
Republican politicians, but despite what their ads say, the Koch 
brothers are not advocates for the Latino community. They are advocates 
for more money in their own pockets, nothing more.
  The Koch brothers have supported some of the most anti-immigrant 
politicians in America, including Louie Gohmert, Mike Pompeo,  Steve 
King, Russell Pearce, and Kris Kobach. These are the men responsible 
for policies like Trump's Muslim ban and Arizona's anti-immigrant law, 
SB 1070.
  The Koch brothers support politicians who want to end government 
funding for Planned Parenthood. If they get their way, Latinas would be 
hurt the most. More than 23 percent of Planned Parenthood patients are 
Latinas.
  Latinas are more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer than 
women in any other racial or ethnic group. Planned Parenthood gives 
them access to annual screenings so they can stay healthy and cancer-
free.
  The Koch brothers support school choice, which they say gives Latino 
families more freedom in how they educate their kids, but school choice 
vouchers take money out of the public school system, causing many 
Latino kids whose parents can't afford private schools to fall behind.

[[Page S2375]]

  The Koch brothers are close allies of Betsy DeVos, our current 
Education Secretary. Her claim to fame is her role in dragging 
Michigan's public education system to the bottom of national rankings 
and leaving thousands of students without access to a quality 
education.
  To make matters worse, the Kochs are working to undermine access to 
health insurance for working people. Latinos are less likely to have 
health insurance than any other racial or ethnic group. Without health 
insurance, a trip to the ER can result in a bill so expensive that a 
family can't pay their rent for months.
  Organizations like LIBRE will tell you their agenda is designed to 
promote freedom and self-sufficiency. They put out propaganda implying 
that Democrats don't believe in freedom because we believe government 
has a role in protecting access to affordable healthcare, clean water, 
air, and quality schools. The Koch brothers love freedom, but their 
freedom is to pollute our rivers, streams, and our air.
  Democrats believe in a different kind of freedom--the freedom to 
breathe clean air and drink clean water, the freedom to walk away from 
a trip to the ER without a medical bill that costs more than what you 
make in a year, and the freedom to walk into Planned Parenthood and 
walk out with information you need to make your own reproductive 
choices.
  We don't believe in the kind of freedom that allows Charles and David 
Koch to pull the strings of our democracy. How can anyone call that 
freedom at all?
  What the Koch brothers and their web of dark money organizations like 
LIBRE are really doing is deceiving Latinos and supporting the very 
same politicians who are working against Latino families.
  So, this year, as the Koch brothers are pulling out their checkbooks 
to fund their disinformation campaign, follow the money. Follow the 
money to find out who is paying for that glossy ad you see on TV. 
Follow the money that flows through LIBRE and other Koch-backed 
organizations to politicians who vote against immigrants, Dreamers, and 
refugees.
  The Koch brothers have spent millions of dollars funding Tea Party 
candidates in Congress--the main obstacles to immigration reform. What 
good are school supplies and driver's education classes and free health 
checkups if parents of American citizens are getting deported, if 
schools in our communities are being gutted, and if community health 
clinics are closing their doors?
  The Latino community in Nevada, and in communities of color across 
America, are strong, resilient, and diverse. We will not be fooled by 
false advertising.
  So many of our family members came to this country because they knew 
what it was like to live under the rule of oligarchs and elites. They 
came here because they wanted to have the freedom to pursue their 
dreams.
  Charles and David Koch want to buy Latino votes, buy our voices, and 
buy our democracy, which folks like my dad Manny Cortez worked all of 
their lives to protect.
  But I believe in the wisdom of the American people. I believe in the 
wisdom of our voters who will fight the lies, just as they did in 
Nevada 2 years ago. I have seen the Kochs' power and influence 
firsthand. They spent $10 million trying to defeat me in 2016. They 
threw millions into LIBRE to buy off Latino voters in Nevada. But they 
failed because Democrats in Congress continued to beat the drum and 
make voters aware of the lies, and I will keep fighting to do the same 
in the Senate.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, I wish to take a moment to thank Senator 
Whitehouse for his bold leadership and continuing the fight to rid our 
political system of dark money.
  All across our country, teachers are taking to the streets to demand 
what no teacher should ever have to ask for: fair pay and decent 
benefits. In State after State, education has been cut to the bone. 
They have even cut the bone. Kids are crammed into overcrowded 
classrooms. They are handed tattered textbooks. Their teachers are paid 
so little that some qualify for food stamps. In fact, salaries are so 
low in some States that teachers are working two, three, and sometimes 
four jobs just to make ends meet.
  Many people don't know this, but teachers have always had a very 
special place in my heart. As a little girl growing up in Oklahoma, 
there was one person I admired more than anyone else in the world--my 
second grade teacher, Mrs. Lee. I will never forget the day that Mrs. 
Lee took me aside and explained that if I worked hard, I could become a 
teacher too. Those words changed my life. Today, I am the daughter of a 
maintenance man, who became a teacher, a professor, and a U.S. Senator 
because America invested in teachers like Mrs. Lee, and that meant 
investing in the thousands of students she reached through the years. I 
am grateful to that America. I believe in that America. But I will be 
honest--I am scared to death that our children and grandchildren may 
never know that America.
  Right now, in one of the richest nations on the planet, American 
teachers are getting crushed. I want to tell you about one of those 
teachers--Jonathan Moy, or Mr. Moy, as his students call him. He is a 
teacher in Oklahoma. Every week, Mr. Moy juggles six jobs in addition 
to teaching. Mr. Moy coaches two sports teams, drives for Uber and 
Lyft, drives a schoolbus, and umpires a Little League team so that he 
can provide for his two daughters.
  Sadly, Mr. Moy's story is becoming all too common. According to one 
estimate, teachers are five times more likely than other workers to 
have a second job. No wonder teachers are taking to the streets in West 
Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona. They have had enough.
  I am standing shoulder to shoulder with teachers across the country 
because they deserve better, because our children deserve better, and 
because investment in teachers is an investment in our kids and 
ultimately an investment in our future. Like many of my colleagues in 
this Chamber and fellow Democrats across the country, I am in this 
fight for the long haul, but if we are to be successful, if we ever 
hope we can prevail, we should be clear-eyed about what it is that we 
are up against.
  The perilous state of affairs for education funding in our States is 
not the simple result of a bunch of legislatures who, after listening 
to their constituents, decided against supporting public education. No, 
the movement of teacher protests sweeping the country has revealed 
corruption--corruption that Republican-controlled States have been 
sweeping under the rug for decades.
  The steep cuts to education are the product of an all-out assault on 
our teachers and our schools that has been launched by a handful of 
billionaires. One of the principal tools rich and powerful people use 
is dark money. They have created an invasive enemy that slithers out of 
sight, with only a glimpse here or there, but make no mistake--this 
dark money has helped shape the anti-teacher, anti-worker agenda that 
undermines our democracy.
  For decades, billionaires have been pouring unlimited, secret money 
into the hands of carefully picked candidates who will do their 
bidding. We often talk about the influence dark money has right here in 
Washington, but the truth is, the real battle is being fought at the 
State and local level.
  Consider the State Policy Network, SPN. It is an umbrella alliance of 
over 60 member organizations covering nearly every State in the United 
States. Their member organizations hide behind deceptively apolitical 
names, such as the Platte Institute for Economic Research or the Thomas 
Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. These organizations are anything 
but apolitical; these groups are the propaganda arm of rightwing 
billionaires. The State Policy Network, for example, is bankrolled by 
the Koch brothers through organizations like DonorsTrust, one of the 
Kochs' favorite investment arms. In 2016 alone, DonorsTrust made $20.3 
million in

[[Page S2376]]

grants to State Policy Network members.
  In addition to affiliates, the State Policy Network has over 80 
associate members. It is a who's who of rightwing Koch-funded groups, 
such as the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the Americans for Tax 
Reform Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation. 
Their funders also include an array of the biggest and most powerful 
corporations, including tobacco giant Philip Morris, food giant Kraft, 
and pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline.
  The goal of the State Policy Network and its myriad affiliates is to 
trick the public into thinking they are genuine, unbiased think tanks 
researching public policy issues--think that, instead of rightwing, 
billionaire-funded groups dedicated to hijacking every legislature in 
America and passing laws that work for their corporations while they 
leave everyone else behind.
  With friends like the aggressively anti-union Koch brothers, it 
should come as no surprise that one of the State Policy Network's top 
priorities is dismantling public sector unions. In a 2016 fundraising 
letter, the State Policy Network stated that its goal was to ``defund 
and defang'' government unions, and it bragged about the work of its 
affiliates to supply ``intellectual ammunition'' to weaken unions in 
States across the country. It touted its work in West Virginia, 
Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, in shepherding passage of laws that 
make it harder for unions to collect union dues that cover the costs of 
collective bargaining.
  Although it focuses on State policy, the State Policy Network's 
agenda can have nationwide effects. Just look at the Supreme Court case 
Janus v. AFSCME, which will determine whether public sector unions that 
represent teachers, nurses, firefighters, and police officers in States 
and cities around this country will actually be able to collect fees 
from workplaces they represent--fees that allow them to negotiate for 
better pay, better wages, and better working conditions. The Illinois 
Policy Institute, a State Policy Network affiliate, works closely with 
the groups pushing the Court to cut off unions' funding and force them 
to represent workers who do not pay dues.
  The State Policy Network's attack on the workers is just one prong of 
a much larger campaign to hand government over to the rich and 
powerful. As one of the many tentacles of the Koch network, the State 
Policy Network also works to gut environmental protections that prevent 
big corporations from poisoning our water, our food, and our air. It 
works to dismantle Medicaid and other healthcare protections that 
provide vulnerable, low-income individuals with basic healthcare. It 
works to slash income and other State taxes that provide critical funds 
for basic government services. It works to weaken public pensions that 
provide government workers with financial security and retirement.
  Billionaires and special interests are conspiring to buy our 
political system. We cannot allow this to happen. That is why I am 
proud to join my colleagues in support of bills like the DISCLOSE Act 
to shine a light on the dark web of billionaires who have their hands 
tightly gripped around the neck of our democracy. Our government should 
belong to the people, not to wealthy special interests.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MARKEY. 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. MARKEY. Mr. President, borrowing from a phrase from Senator 
Whitehouse of Rhode Island, ``It is time to wake up to the threat of 
climate change.'' We must open our eyes to the insidious web of deceit 
that the Koch brothers, in alliance with the Trump Administration, are 
weaving to promote an anti-science, anti-consumer, and anti-renewable 
energy agenda. This web of deceit is something that the Koch brothers 
are proud of.
  Just last week, they bragged to donors in a report that they were 
responsible for President Trump's policies: repealing the Clean Power 
Plan, check; attacking public lands, check; attempting to gut bedrock 
environmental laws for infrastructure projects, check; leaving the 
Paris climate accord, check; tax giveaways to Big Oil and other fossil 
fuel corporations, check-plus.
  The first year of the Trump Administration has been a Koch brothers 
wish list, and they are popping their champagne bottles all the way to 
the bank. In fact, the various front groups and trade organizations 
that pushed President Trump to exit the Paris climate accord accepted 
almost $7 million from the Koch brothers directly. Those groups took 
millions more from other anti-climate groups, which were also funded by 
the Koch brothers. It is a tangled web they weave with their money. 
That is what the Koch brothers have bought--a network of individuals, 
shady front groups, and partisan organizations whose sole purpose is to 
undermine the policies that protect Americans and the planet from 
climate change.
  Like a real spider web, it is hard to see this web of deceit unless 
the light catches it in just the right way. I am going to shine a light 
on a few threads of this web tonight, the threads that make up the 
effort to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change: the 
Koch brothers and their CO2 Coalition. One of these threads 
is the CO2 Coalition. This group, founded in 2015 with the 
remains of the defunct George C. Marshall Institute, pushed a single 
mantra: ``Carbon dioxide, a nutrient vital for life.''
  The CO2 Coalition started where the George C. Marshall 
Institute, another Koch-backed front group, left off--disseminating 
disinformation, particularly around global warming.
  Total funding from the Koch-related foundations for the 
CO2 Coalition is more than $650,000 since 2004. In addition 
to the Kochs, the billionaire conservative Mercer family also gave the 
CO2 Coalition $150,000 in 2016. And that is just what we 
know of.
  For those not familiar, the board of the CO2 Coalition 
includes the controversial physicist William Happer, who has testified 
in front of Congress multiple times to push climate denialism and the 
self-serving interest of the fossil fuel industry and the Koch 
brothers.
  When I was chairman of the House Select Committee for Energy 
Independence and Global Warming, Dr. Happer advocated in testimony for 
the government to support an ``alternative hypothesis,'' which amounted 
to denial of climate change. This ``alternative hypothesis'' was the 
grandfather of another familiar term, the Trump Administration's so-
called alternative facts--``alternative hypothesis.''
  During those years that I was the chairman of the Select Committee 
for Energy Independence and Global Warming and the Subcommittee on 
Energy and the Environment of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I 
conducted nearly 100 hearings. They went on for hours and hours. We are 
talking of 200, 300 hours of hearings where we were able to hear these 
crackpot theories that were enunciated and debunked at that time. 
Despite his views on climate science being routinely debunked, 
including what happened in my hearing back then, Dr. Happer continues 
to be called as an ``expert witness'' by Republicans in Congress. From 
this platform, he spreads doubt and misinformation about climate 
change. He has called carbon dioxide ``a benefit to the Earth,'' an 
absurd assertion that is in complete contrast to the findings of the 
EPA and the vast majority of climate scientists. That is because in its 
materials, the CO2 Coalition states that it has the express 
purpose of ``educating thought leaders, policy makers, and the public 
about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives 
and the economy.''
  In reality, the CO2 Coalition writes articles, produces 
videos, and uses this content to spread lies about climate change 
through social media. They seek not to inform but to deform consensus 
scientific views at the bidding of their fossil fuel funders, the Koch 
brothers.
  Here is some information about carbon dioxide that the CO2 
Coalition fails to mention in its love letter to fossil fuels. Every 
ton of carbon we emit costs us $36--that is the social cost of carbon--
the cost to all of us of emitting an extra ton of carbon dioxide into 
the atmosphere.

[[Page S2377]]

  That carbon pollution is endangering human health, and it costs us 
money as a society to treat the damage it does to the health of our 
planet and the people who live on the planet. Carbon pollution is not a 
vital nutrient for life, as the CO2 Coalition asserts. It is 
a dangerous pollutant for our society when it is inside of our 
atmosphere at dangerous levels--at dangerous levels. The CO2 
Coalition is certainly not the only fossil fuel supported group that is 
weaving this web of deceit. Especially when it comes to talking about 
the importance of the ``free market,'' fossil fuel-funded climate 
deniers often have selective memory loss.
  The Lexington Institute, which has received funding from fossil fuel 
companies like ExxonMobil, insists that renewables can't compete in the 
free market with fossil fuels without Federal subsidies. That assumes 
that the fossil fuel industry has succeeded in the free market all on 
its own. It has not. Adam Smith is spinning in his grave, wondering how 
the fossil fuel industry gets such subsidies. As a matter of fact, he 
is spinning so fast that he would qualify for a subsidy under the tax 
policies, which Republicans put in place.
  Federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry are more than 100 
years old and account for nearly $15 billion each year. Subsidizing an 
oil company to drill oil or a coal company to mine is like paying a 
fish to swim or a bird to fly. You don't have to do it. The tax breaks 
for the oil and gas industries are permanent pieces of the Tax Code. 
These payouts automatically continue year after year--forever, into 
infinity. They never decrease. They never go away. That is certainly 
not the case for renewable energy industries, like solar and wind. 
These industries have had to endure the uncertainty of not knowing if 
their tax breaks will expire. Now tax breaks for wind are scheduled to 
end completely next year. That will never happen to a fossil fuel 
break. The tax breaks for solar will end in 2021, but for the fossil 
fuel industry, those tax breaks will never come off the books because 
they fight against special tax breaks for wind and solar. Oh, my 
goodness. Who would want to help them? In fact, in its taking $15 
billion a year every year for 100 years and 100 more years into 
infinity--completely distorting the free market with the support of 
fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil--the Lexington Institute is 
spinning its strand of the web of deceit by trying to stop a renewables 
revolution.

  The Koch brothers and their fossil fuel allies aren't doing this 
alone. They have found their most ardent ally in their campaign to 
attack climate science in President Donald Trump. Throughout the Trump 
administration, there has been a concerted effort to deny, to delay, 
and to defund the science of climate change in an unprecedented way. 
Just look at the President's Big Oil all-star Cabinet. At one point, we 
had former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. We still have 
former Governor of oil-rich Texas Rick Perry at the Department of 
Energy. Oklahoma's oil oligarch Scott Pruitt is heading the 
Environmental Protection Agency. All of these oil allies have voiced 
doubts about the existence of climate change and the role of humans in 
causing it, but no one is doing more to help anchor the various strands 
of the web of deceit on climate science in the Trump administration 
than the EPA's Scott Pruitt.
  Mr. Pruitt announced today a new proposed rule purporting to 
``strengthen transparency and validity in regulatory science.'' What 
exactly does this new secret science rule really mean? The proposal 
would actually do the opposite of what its name suggests. This proposal 
would actually restrict the use of scientific research that EPA 
officials can use in crafting new regulations under the guise of so-
called transparency. The Trump administration would allow the EPA to 
consider research studies for which the underlying data are publicly 
available. What this proposed change would really do is effectively 
block the Agency from relying on longstanding, important studies like 
those that link lead exposure to devastating neurological damage.
  Scott Pruitt, at the behest of Big Oil and interests like the Koch 
brothers, wants to deny EPA scientists access to critical information 
in order to shield polluters, such as coal and chemical companies. 
Today, as Pruitt ceremoniously announced his new rule, he was 
accompanied by--wait for it--William Happer of the CO2 
Coalition. The web of deceit is very real. No matter what Scott Pruitt 
tries to undo at the EPA, no matter what science President Trump tries 
to deny through the Federal Government, no matter what groups the Koch 
brothers try to fund, the truth is all too clear. Climate change is 
happening now.
  Last year, we experienced a record $16 billion in storms--extreme 
weather events--and climate-related disasters. It was more than in any 
year in recorded history. Hurricanes ravaged Texas, Florida, Puerto 
Rico. The recovery from Hurricane Harvey alone is projected to cost 
$180 billion. That is the damage even as the Republicans fight to take 
the wind and solar tax breaks off the books. This year, in 
Massachusetts, we already experienced four Northeasters before the end 
of March. Three of those storms cost more than $1 billion. That is the 
earliest in any year ever recorded that we have experienced three 
storms with this magnitude of devastation. The cost of these storms 
speaks for itself. We simply can't afford to deny the impacts and 
reality of climate change anymore.
  Our greatest weapon in fighting deceit and tearing down this web is 
sunlight--the sunlight of truth and the sunlight that is fueling the 
solar revolution. It is a clean energy revolution that is fueling blue-
collar job creation and our economy, and it is happening all across 
this country and around the globe. Renewable energy is the greatest 
force for blue-collar job creation in the history of the United States.
  Right now, wind and solar are generating 7 to 8 percent of the 
electricity we consume every day in the United States. Right now, we 
have more than 90,000 megawatts of wind. We have more than 50,000 
megawatts of solar installed in the United States. By 2020, we are 
projected to have 120,000 megawatts of wind. We will have more than 
90,000 megawatts of solar. Solar is projected to add an additional 
35,000 combined megawatts in 2021 and 2022. That means, by the end of 
2022, we could have over 250,000 megawatts of wind and solar installed 
in the United States.
  You can see what is happening now with wind and solar after it had 
been, essentially, stopped by the fossil fuel industry for 100 years. 
This could have happened 50 years ago. This could have happened 100 
years ago. Yet now, finally, because of Democratic policies, we have 
been able to finally unleash this revolution.
  What is accompanying that wind and solar revolution? It is jobs, 
blue-collar jobs. We now have 350,000 Americans who are working in wind 
and solar. By 2020, we are going to have 500,000 workers in wind and 
solar. The majority of our solar jobs--137,000--is of electricians. 
There are roofers doing the installation. There are 38,000 jobs in 
manufacturing. These are good blue-collar jobs. There are 25,000 of our 
wind jobs in manufacturing while 35,000 are in construction, 
development, and transportation. These are good-paying, blue-collar 
jobs.
  Why is this renewable revolution unstoppable? Why is this job 
creation that is good for all of creation unstoppable? It is because 
the cost of renewables is plummeting. The cost of solar has fallen 50 
to 60 percent over the last 5 to 6 years. The cost of wind has fallen 
66 percent since 2009. In fact, wind and solar are generally cheaper 
than coal and nuclear energy are right now. Coal is losing the war 
against wind and solar in the free market. It is not a conspiracy 
against coal. It is competition for coal that has finally emerged. That 
is what is happening. Coal is losing in the marketplace.
  This is not just happening in the United States. It is happening 
around the entire world. Mexico had a power auction at the end of 
November at which the average price for solar was 1.9 cents per 
kilowatt hour. In 2017, solar in Saudi Arabia came in at 1.8 cents per 
kilowatt hour. In Dubai, it was 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour. Half of 
all electricity installed around the world last year was renewable. 
Renewable energy deployment around the world has increased by 8 percent 
a year for 7 years in a row.
  This is a global clean energy race, and it is a global job creation 
race. The Koch brothers and their fossil fuel allies want to take the 
United States of

[[Page S2378]]

America out of this revolution. Global temperatures are rising, but the 
cost of renewables is plummeting. There is no denying the science of 
climate change or the mathematics behind the renewable revolution.
  For decades, the Koch brothers have perpetrated a fraud on the 
American people about climate change. They have worked to discredit 
science in order to sow doubt. They are funding a web of deceit that 
spreads misinformation and undermines the urgency needed to address the 
generational challenge of climate change. We must fight back with 
education, with urgency, with facts, and, ultimately, with action.
  That is why, this week, I am introducing, with my colleagues here in 
the Senate and in the House, the Climate Change Education Act. This 
legislation would promote climate literacy by broadening students' 
understanding of climate change, the consequences of climate change, 
and the potential solutions. This bill would give students, teachers, 
and families the tools they need to protect our planet for future 
generations. We must take the climate deniers and their fossil fuel 
funders to task for their opposition to the clean energy opportunities 
that could win the battle against climate change.
  We have a chance to unleash a clean energy revolution that creates 
jobs as it cuts dangerous carbon pollution. We are on the floor today 
to cut down this tangled web of deceit--to shine a light on the lies 
that emanate from this Koch brothers-funded web of deceit that has 
tried its best to stop this clean energy revolution.
  As you can see, this revolution has taken off in the United States as 
it has taken off around the rest of the planet, and it will not be 
denied. The green generation, the young generation in our country, will 
not be denied. They want to see a wind and solar and all-electric 
vehicle revolution take place that will change the course of history. 
That is why we are out here today--to let the rest of the world know we 
are in this fight, and we are going to win it.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). The Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. UDALL. Mr. President, I will focus, as Senator Markey has and 
several of my colleagues before me, on this web of deceit we have been 
talking about here today--the Koch brothers' web of dark money, 
lobbyists, and infiltration into the Trump administration that truly 
threatens our democracy. The influence of their hundreds of millions of 
dollars is pervasive, pernicious, and hidden.
  I applaud Senator Whitehouse's work that focuses the public's 
attention on this threat. Thank you to my colleagues for shining a 
spotlight on the murky tentacles of the Koch influence empire here in 
Washington, especially its influence on the swamp that is the Trump 
administration. We must keep fighting for comprehensive campaign 
finance and electoral reform to get dark money like the Koch brothers' 
out of our politics.
  The Koch family business started in oil, and Koch Industries is still 
heavily invested in petroleum and petroleum products. Its subsidiary, 
Flint Hills Resources, owns three oil refineries. The Koch Pipeline 
Company owns and operates 4,000 miles of pipeline that transports oil, 
refined petroleum, and natural gas throughout six States. Koch 
Industries is the largest foreign and American leaseholder in Canada's 
oil sands, possibly leasing up to 2 million acres.
  As well, each year, Koch Industries markets, trades, and manages 
logistics for tons of coal and petroleum coke. Koch Industries makes 
billions from oil, gas, and coal, and it is no secret it is willing to 
spend millions to keep it that way. Two organizations formed through 
the Koch brothers' vast wealth are the Institute for Energy Research 
and its lobbying arm, the American Energy Alliance. Both Koch-funded 
groups are anti-renewable, pro-fossil fuel, and climate change deniers.
  The Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization that was formed in 1989 
from a predecessor directed by Charles Koch and Robert Bradley, Jr. Mr. 
Bradley led public policy for Enron before its scandal and bankruptcy. 
He founded the Institute and remains its CEO. He is also affiliated 
with the Koch-funded Cato Institute and Competitive Enterprise 
Institute.
  The Alliance is the Institute's political arm, a 501(c)(4) 
organization, founded in 2008. The 501(c)(4)s are political 
organizations. They don't have to disclose their donors. They can 
engage in all sorts of politicking and lobbying, and they can spend 
unlimited amounts of money. The Alliance shares office space and 
staff--including a president--with the Institute. Their joint president 
is Thomas Pyle, who had previously lobbied for Koch Industries. They 
receive funding directly and not so directly from the Koch brothers. 
Since 2008, one or the other has received funding from the Charles Koch 
Institute, an anti-government group formed from the Charles G. Koch 
Charitable Foundation; Freedom Partners, called the Koch brothers' 
``secret'' bank--a 501(c)(6) organization that gives tens of millions 
of dollars to extreme causes; the Wellspring Committee, Inc., funded 
with the Koch brothers' help; DonorsTrust, a pass-through organization 
for the Koch brothers and other ultrawealthy donors trying to hide 
contributions; and many other like-minded anti-renewable, pro-fossil 
fuel groups that the Koch brothers fund or are tied to.
  Between 2010 and 2014, the Institute and Alliance received more than 
$5 million in Koch-related funding. The Institute and Alliance are in 
the business of discrediting renewable energy, promoting fossil fuels, 
and denying climate science under the guise of providing independent 
analysis. Their staffs have appeared before State regulatory 
commissions giving ``expert'' testimony, claiming that renewable energy 
is too expensive and unreliable and that States should not increase 
their renewable portfolio requirements and that fossil fuels--even 
coal--are more economical.
  In 2013, for example, their director of regulatory and State affairs, 
Daniel Simmons, claimed in a Michigan regulatory hearing that the 
electricity rates of States with renewable requirements are 27 percent 
higher than States without a renewable standard. That same year, 
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the incremental rate 
of renewable portfolio standards was 2 percent, and a report by the 
Michigan Public Service Commission found that the cost of renewable 
sources is declining and is cheaper than the new coal-fired generation.
  Also in 2013, Mr. Simmons attacked a Federal clean energy standard 
bill introduced by my fellow New Mexican, Senator Jeff Bingaman, which 
I cosponsored. Mr. Simmons had the audacity to claim that carbon 
dioxide emissions from powerplants should not be counted as pollutants, 
arguing ``that carbon dioxide itself is not dirty.'' Mr. Simmons' 
cynical attack on climate science is frightening.
  In 2015, the Alliance called on Congress to eliminate the Department 
of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. The 
office's mission is to support transitioning to ``a global clean energy 
economy,'' something that we know is supported by many, many people. 
That year, both Koch brothers' organizations received $3 million from 
the web of Koch donors.
  Although the Institute and Alliance were fringe, the Trump 
administration placed their staff in key energy positions, beginning 
with appointing their president to lead the energy transition team. 
Before that appointment, Mr. Pyle had sent a fundraising letter touting 
the new administration's positions. He predicted the Trump 
administration would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, repeal the 
Clean Power Plan, move forward with the Keystone XL Pipeline, increase 
oil and gas leasing on Federal lands, lift the moratorium on coal 
leasing on Federal lands, and turn back protection of our rivers and 
streams--among other initiatives. Mr. Pyle's policy predictions have 
sadly come to pass.
  My home State of New Mexico is right in the bull's-eye of climate 
change. Snowpack was at a low point this year. Parts of the Rio Grande 
are dry. We have a methane cloud in the Four Corners area the size of 
Delaware. Pressing ``stop'' on tackling climate change hurts New 
Mexicans.
  Meanwhile, Institute/Alliance staff landed three plum positions 
within the Department of Energy. Last May, Mr. Simmons, whom we have 
already heard about, was actually placed to lead the DOE's Office of 
Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy--the same office the

[[Page S2379]]

Alliance advocated to eliminate. Talk about the fox guarding the 
chicken coop.
  An Institute/Alliance policy analyst, Alex Fitzsimmons, was also 
placed in the same office as a senior adviser. He has steadily beat the 
Koch brothers' drum against wind and solar energy, writing numerous 
articles about their alleged unreliability and high costs. How can he 
possibly contribute to the office's mission of transitioning to a clean 
energy economy?
  Predictably, the President proposed slashing the office's budget for 
2018 by 69 percent. Congress did not do his bidding. He now seeks to 
cut over 70 percent of its budget in 2019, including fully eliminating 
the Weatherization Assistance Program and the State Energy Program. 
According to DOE, since 2010, New Mexico has received $10.4 million 
from these two programs. These investments resulted in weatherizing 
1,300 homes, creating or retaining 340 jobs, training 19,500 New 
Mexicans in energy efficiency, and retrofitting 240,000 square feet of 
building space. These two programs aid my State in the global battle 
against climate change and should not be on the chopping block.
  Another Institute/Alliance policy analyst, Travis Fisher, was tapped 
by DOE to oversee an evaluation on whether renewables are hurting coal 
and nuclear power and increasing grid unreliability. Mr. Fisher had 
also authored many pieces on the evils of renewables--even calling 
clean energy policies ``the single greatest emerging threat'' to the 
power grid. There was wide concern the report would be politically 
skewed.
  However, a draft of the report, prepared by an independent contractor 
and DOE career staff, got out. That draft concluded renewable energy 
had not decreased grid reliability. The final report then concluded the 
same. Mr. Fisher has since left DOE.
  The good news is that the American people continue to support 
renewable energy. A Pew Research Center poll found 83 percent of 
Americans think expanding renewables is a ``top'' or ``important'' 
national priority.
  Wind and solar are expanding exponentially and their costs have 
decreased dramatically. Twenty-nine States, Washington, DC, and three 
territories have renewable portfolio standards, and eight States and 
one territory have renewable goals.
  A clean energy economy is the future, but the Trump administration is 
fighting against the tide. Before the Trump administration, the 
Institute and Alliance were small fringe organizations promoted by the 
Koch brothers' web of secret organizations and veiled allies. They now 
sit at the center of our government.
  At the bottom of the Koch labyrinth of 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, 
501(c)(6)s, and their wealth of accomplices is their ability to hide 
their contributions and actions from public view. The Supreme Court's 
Citizens United decision cloaks these networks under the guise of the 
First Amendment. Citizens United has damaged our democracy by allowing 
unlimited campaign contributions, PACs, and nonprofit organizations to 
secretly influence government decisions at the highest levels.
  I have been fighting to overturn Citizens United and for Congress to 
enact campaign finance reform for years now. My constitutional 
amendment would not only overturn Citizens United but all the previous 
bad decisions going back to Buckley v. Valeo. It would end the 
misguided belief that spending money to elect politicians is the same 
thing as free speech--a belief that gives the Koch brothers a lot more 
speech than the average American.
  Last fall, I reintroduced the We the People Democracy Reform Act, 
which would enact comprehensive electoral reform. The dark influence of 
the Koch brothers in this administration only underscores the pressing 
need for this legislation to right our democracy and restore integrity, 
accountability, and transparency to our political system.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I come to the Senate this evening to talk 
about the nominees who will be up for a confirmation vote.
  The first of those is Ric Grenell. Ric is being nominated to serve as 
our Ambassador to Germany during an important time, not just with the 
danger and volatility around the world but with our relationship with 
Germany. Ric is well qualified, and I think it is urgent that we get 
him confirmed.
  Ric Grenell was actually nominated last fall. He was reported out of 
the Foreign Relations Committee with a positive vote on October 26, 
2017. So for 6 months, he has been in limbo, even after getting 
reported out of committee. He has been blocked by just a couple of 
Democrats--I think maybe just one--and this body has not had a chance 
to vote on him.
  That is why I was pleased to see today that the majority leader filed 
cloture, and that is why we will get a vote this week on Mr. Grenell. I 
assume that he will get supported by a majority of this body, but I 
hope it is not just a bare majority because I think he is very 
qualified for the position.
  He is someone who has a lot of experience in diplomacy and 
international issues. In 2001, he was appointed by President George W. 
Bush to serve as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for 
the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In this role, 
he advised four of our Ambassadors--John Negroponte, John Danforth, 
John Bolton, and Ambassador Khalilzad--on the formulation and 
articulation of U.S. policy at the United Nations. He was also 
appointed by John Danforth to be the Alternative Representative of the 
United States to the U.N. Security Council with full voting rights and 
privileges. He served as spokesman there during a turbulent time, an 
important time. But he also did more than that. He was appointed to be 
a U.S. delegate to a variety of United Nations conferences over the 
years, including the Financing for Development Conference, the World 
Food Summit, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Iraq 
Donor Conference, the Preparatory Committee for the Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Treaty Review, the High-Level Meeting on Ending HIV/AIDS, 
and the Commission on Population and Development, among many others.
  He has moderated a lot of United Nations panel discussions over the 
years on subjects ranging from Children and Armed Conflict to post-war 
construction issues, clean energy solutions that my colleague was 
talking about a moment ago. He is up to speed on the world's pressing 
issues, so he is very well qualified to be an Ambassador representing 
the United States.
  He has also been an active speaker, speaking on topics around the 
country that relate to crisis communications, the United Nations, and 
international issues ranging from Sudan to North Korea and Middle 
Eastern issues.
  He has been on a lot of TV programs. This is one reason he has 
generated some controversy on the other side. Yes, he has spoken his 
mind on occasion, but he is also someone, again, if you look at his 
qualifications and experience and his abilities--as he did for 
President George W. Bush--to be a team player and work with the team to 
communicate clearly, he is an excellent candidate to be a U.S. 
Ambassador to just about anywhere but particularly to a country as 
important as Germany.
  He received his master's degree in public administration from Harvard 
University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  Finally, I would say the timing is really important. One reason it is 
key that we vote this week is that we need an Ambassador to Germany.
  Over the Easter break I was in Germany. I was meeting with our troops 
over there on a factfinding mission. We have a lot of American troops 
in Germany still. We were looking at some of the weapons systems that 
have been developed in my home State of Ohio and how they are working. 
The people I talked to--our U.S. military officers but also German 
officials and others--were saying that it is important to have American 
leadership in Germany right now with all that is going on, with what is 
happening in Ukraine--Germany is a key player in keeping the European 
Union together--what is happening in the Middle East, where they play 
an important role, and what is happening in terms of our economy and 
trade issues. I heard from everyone: Why don't you send an ambassador 
over here? So it is time we do it.
  Finally, there is a particular urgency this week, because Chancellor 
Merkel

[[Page S2380]]

is actually coming for a visit to Washington later this week. I think 
she will be here on Friday at the White House in meetings, and wouldn't 
it be great if we were to confirm this qualified Ambassador to 
represent our interests in Germany and to begin the process of 
improving our relationship with Germany and deepening that 
relationship.
  I hope we have the opportunity to have this vote in the next couple 
of days, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take a 
look at Ric Grenell's background. I don't think you will find one of 
the Ambassadors who is a noncareer Foreign Service person to be a 
better person on some of these tough foreign policy issues, and I think 
he will do an excellent job for us in Germany.


                       Nomination of Mike Pompeo

  Mr. President, the second nominee I would like to talk about briefly 
is one who has also faced some opposition from the other side of the 
aisle, to the point that he was reported out of committee last night on 
a pure party-line vote--an 11-to-10 vote. I wish that weren't the case. 
I want to thank Senator Coons for actually voting ``present'' so that 
Senator Isakson's vote could count.
  I think Mike Pompeo, who is the current Director of the Central 
Intelligence Agency, is extremely well qualified.
  When you look at what has happened historically with regard to the 
job of Secretary of State, this body has been able to support people 
who they may not agree with on every policy issue or may not agree with 
the President who appointed that person, but they realize that a 
President should be able to have his or her own person--particularly in 
that job--be the Secretary of State, be the diplomat to the United 
States around the world. As a result, with regard to Senator Kerry, who 
was a colleague of ours here, when he was up for his confirmation vote, 
the vote was 94 Senators out of 100 supporting him. With regard to 
Secretary Clinton, when she was nominated, she was confirmed by a vote 
of 94 Senators--94 out of 100 voted for her. That has been more or less 
typical. Colin Powell actually was confirmed by a unanimous vote of 
this body after he became the nominee for Secretary of State. 
Condoleezza Rice got an overwhelming majority; I think it was in the 
mideighties.
  I would hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle would look 
at Mr. Pompeo's background and his qualifications. I don't think they 
can dispute the fact that he is qualified for this job.
  This is a man who has been successful in everything he has done. From 
humble beginnings, he went to West Point. He graduated at the top of 
his class. Then, as an Army officer, he was in Germany before the wall 
came down. He was an officer in Germany patrolling the Iron Curtain. He 
then went to law school after having served in the military. He went to 
Harvard Law School and ended up being an editor of the Harvard Law 
Review and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. That is 
pretty impressive. It is hard to do.
  He then went into business. He was successful there, including 
businesses that had to do with national security issues.
  He then ran for the House of Representatives and was elected. He was 
on the Intelligence Committee in the House, and so he has the ability 
to get well-versed on a lot of the classified information needed to be 
able to understand the danger and volatility we face in this world 
today. He is well-regarded in the House on both sides of the aisle.
  He was then nominated by the President to serve as CIA Director. By 
the way, he was confirmed by this same body as CIA Director by a vote 
of 66 Senators, so it was a nice bipartisan majority. I hope that 
happens again
  Again, I think it is very important that we get a Secretary of State 
in place at this critical time but also that we get one in place who is 
shown to have some of the momentum, trust, and confidence of this body. 
Certainly the President has a lot of confidence in him, or he wouldn't 
have nominated him for this additional responsibility.
  As CIA Director, he has become well-versed on all the issues. One 
issue I will mention that you have heard about recently is that he 
recently went on a secret mission to meet with the dictator of North 
Korea, Kim Jong Un, and he did that at the behest of the President to 
help prepare for a successful meeting between the President and the 
North Koreans. We all hope that meeting is indeed constructive and ends 
up making progress on the denuclearization--which all of us hope for--
of the Korean Peninsula. You need somebody like Mike Pompeo there to 
help direct that. So I think it is the right time for him to move 
forward on a number of issues, and that certainly is one.
  Another issue I will say I am very interested in working with him on 
is what is happening in Eastern Europe and Central Europe--the 
destabilizing effect that Russia is having with regard to what is 
called the hybrid war--in other words, disinformation and propaganda--
and also the military part of this, which is happening on the eastern 
border of Ukraine.
  Russia, as you recall, took Crimea away from Ukraine. In my 
discussions with Mike Pompeo, he understands that issue and he gets 
that issue. He has supported providing weapons to Ukrainians so they 
can defend themselves, lethal but defensive weapons. That was a big 
change from the last administration and, frankly, from the first year 
of this administration. It happened recently. Those materials are now 
being delivered, and the Ukrainians--having been there over the Easter 
break--are feeling a renewed sense of support from their Western 
allies, particularly from the United States. I think Mike Pompeo is the 
right guy to be there with regard to that issue also.
  I have taken the leadership role on this issue of pushing back 
against the disinformation, including the meddling in our own election 
here, which I believe happened and I believe will happen again unless 
we are smarter about pushing back. That is why I have joined with my 
colleagues--Senator Murphy on the other side of the aisle and others--
to promote this idea of a center at the State Department that 
coordinates all the U.S. Government efforts here, which are needed, and 
particularly focuses on the online effort and the need for us to be 
more aggressive and robust in our response. It is called the Global 
Engagement Center. Again, I have had the opportunity to speak with Mr. 
Pompeo privately but also in public testimony about this issue, and he 
has expressed his strong support for that Global Engagement Center and 
for having a more effective and robust response.
  I think Mike Pompeo is the right person at the right time. I think he 
is qualified for this job as well as anyone out there I can imagine. 
Again, in talking to my colleagues, some of them have said that they 
disagree with President Trump's positions and that is why they are 
opposing Mr. Pompeo. Their favorite person--who would probably be in 
the other party and have different views--is not going to be nominated 
by President Trump. President Trump is going to nominate somebody who 
supports him on most of his basic approach to foreign policy and 
someone he trusts. That is just how it works.
  Again, when we supported John Kerry with 94 votes in the Senate--I 
think it was 94, 95, or something like that--it is not that we agreed 
with all the policies from President Obama; it is that we believed 
President Obama should have the right to have a Secretary of State who 
he thought was going to best represent him, and we thought that Senator 
Kerry was qualified. I think the same was true with regard to Hillary 
Clinton, who got 94 votes. The same was true with Condoleezza Rice. The 
same was true with GEN Colin Powell. And the same should be true here 
because certainly Mike Pompeo is extremely well qualified.
  The other thing I have heard from my colleagues--and I have talked to 
a number of them on the committee and off the committee about seeing if 
they could possibly join us in supporting Mr. Pompeo so he can have a 
little more of a bipartisan momentum here as he goes into this job--the 
other thing I have heard is that they are concerned, given his 
background in the military and given some of the things he said as a 
Member of Congress, that maybe he will focus more on military power 
rather than soft power--in other words, less on diplomacy and more on 
kinetic or military activity.
  I don't think that is consistent with anything I have heard from him 
either

[[Page S2381]]

in our private meetings or in his public testimony where he addressed 
this issue head-on. He said that as a former Army officer and someone 
who went to West Point and graduated at the top of his class--did I say 
that earlier? Anyway, he went to West Point, and he is someone who 
actually believes very strongly in soft power and believes that 
military actions ought to be the last resort, not the first resort. I 
think that is true with almost anybody who has been in the military--
certainly people who have been in combat. I made the comparison to what 
Colin Powell said when he was nominated, which was very similar to 
that. What General Mattis says today is very similar to that.
  I believe Mike Pompeo has the opportunity not only to help with 
regard to these crisis issues we are facing around the world--North 
Korea, Syria, what is happening in Iran, what is happening in Ukraine--
I think he is someone who has the ability to improve the morale at the 
State Department at a critical time. In fact, I am convinced of it. 
Having talked to some people at the State Department--as you know, many 
of the career civil service people have been feeling as though they 
weren't being consulted. Mike Pompeo is a listener, and he has talked 
about what he did at the CIA. He talked about the fact that God gave us 
only one mouth but two ears. In other words, we are supposed to be 
listening and taking in the input and then helping to lead as a servant 
leader listening to people. I think that is the kind of leader Mike 
Pompeo is.
  My hope is that he will be confirmed and that he will earn the trust 
some of us have shown in him by doing exactly that at the State 
Department--getting the diplomats in the State Department engaged and 
empowered, making sure that we are taking every step possible with 
regard to diplomacy before turning to military action anywhere in the 
world, and working with our military and with the White House and with 
the Congress to have a U.S. foreign policy that is effective in keeping 
the peace.
  Yes, we need a strong military because by having a strong military, 
by having a strong defense, we maximize the chance for peace, but we 
also have to have a strong diplomacy arm that is out there ensuring 
that we take every measure we possibly can to use soft diplomacy. I 
think diplomacy is something that Mike Pompeo has shown that he is 
committed to.
  So my hope is that we will have positive votes on Rick Grenell as 
Ambassador to Germany and Mike Pompeo later this week, that we can have 
bipartisan support for these two, and that they, in turn, will earn the 
trust this body has shown in them.
  Mr. President, 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. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

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