EXECUTIVE CALENDAR; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 79
(Senate - May 15, 2018)

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[Pages S2661-S2677]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to the consideration of the following nomination, which the 
clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of 
Mitchell Zais, of South Carolina, to be Deputy Secretary of Education.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There will now be 10 hours of debate equally 
divided in the usual form.
  The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I have come to the floor this afternoon 
to oppose the nomination of GEN Mitchell Zais, who has been nominated 
to serve as Secretary DeVos's Deputy Secretary at the Department of 
Education. I am opposing this nomination because those who work at the 
top of the Department of Education should be committed to its top 
priority, which is helping educate our next generation of students. 
They should not be focused on demonizing teachers or public schools or 
the Federal Government's role in public education, and they should not 
be promoting their extreme ideological agendas at the expense of our 
students.
  We need a Department of Education with a positive vision for our 
neighborhood public schools that believes that everyone has the right 
to a high-quality public education no matter where they live or how 
they learn or how much money their parents make. That is what millions 
of parents and teachers and students stood up for during Secretary 
DeVos's confirmation hearing.
  Despite the public rejection of her extreme ideology and her 
unprecedented tie-breaking confirmation vote by Vice President Pence, 
it is clear Secretary DeVos has led the Department of Education in the 
opposite direction. She has continued to push her privatization agenda, 
trying to siphon taxpayer funds away from our public schools. She has 
ignored key parts of our Nation's K-12 laws, refusing to hold States 
accountable for the success of our most vulnerable students. She has 
made it easier for predatory, for-profit companies to take advantage of 
students, rolling back protections for students and dismantling the 
unit that investigates claims of fraud and abuse. Time and again, she 
has failed to protect students' civil rights. She tried to shrink the 
Office of Civil Rights. She rolled back protections for transgender 
students. She rescinded guidance for schools on how to investigate 
claims of campus sexual assault.
  With Secretary DeVos's ideological agenda steering this ship, it is 
clear to me that the Department of Education needs a strong and 
independent Deputy Secretary of Education to once again start putting 
students first. Unfortunately, General Zais made it clear that he would 
be proud to be Secretary DeVos's right-hand man and shares her position 
on a number of concerning issues. He agrees with Secretary DeVos's 
extreme privatization agenda to siphon taxpayer funds from our public 
schools. He largely opposes the Federal role in education and, like 
Secretary DeVos, seems to lack even an understanding of key issues 
important to public schools.
  As the State superintendent of education, General Zais allowed his 
partisan ideology to hurt South Carolina students. He refused Federal 
funding that could have saved teachers' jobs--the only State to do 
that--and he objected to plans to expand access to universal pre-K, 
calling 5-year-olds ``too young to learn.'' That is a particularly 
shocking comment to those of us who understand the importance of the 
first 5 years for children's development.
  I come to the floor today on behalf of millions of parents and 
students and teachers who so loudly objected to Secretary DeVos's 
agenda during her confirmation, and I ask my colleagues to vote against 
this nomination and not allow another DeVos-like nominee into the 
Department of Education.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

[[Page S2662]]

  

  Mr. KING. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                          National Police Week

  Mr. KING. Mr. President, every morning, across America millions of 
people get up, get dressed, and go to work. They all have similar 
experiences. They are getting ready for a new day. They are getting 
ready for a new set of challenges. They are getting ready to serve 
their company and the place where they work to the best of their 
ability.
  There is one group of Americans who get up every morning to go to 
work, and it is a slightly different experience because when those 
people report for work, they are knowingly and willingly putting their 
lives on the line. I am referring to our police officers and law 
enforcement personnel across the country.
  I think it is an important distinction. All of us go to work. We all 
think about it. But stop and think for a moment that when someone puts 
on that blue uniform or green uniform, or whatever it is, to serve the 
public, they are taking a risk with their life. They are literally 
laying their lives on the line for the rest of us.
  Fifty-six years ago today, President John F. Kennedy designated May 
15 as a law enforcement memorial day, or Peace Officers Memorial Day, 
and the week in which May 15 falls is designed and set aside by our 
country ever since to recognize peace officers. I love that term--peace 
officers. They are here to protect us.
  The Constitution in its preamble lays out the basic outlines for our 
government, and this is one of them: to ``insure domestic 
Tranquility.'' What a lovely phrase that is--to ``insure domestic 
Tranquility.'' That means, in many cases, law enforcement.
  I rise today to recognize law enforcement officials across the 
country but, also, particularly in my State of Maine. As Governor, I 
spent 24 hours a day with the State Police. I learned in that job the 
quality of the people we have serving us, the quality of the people, 
who often could make more money and have more promotions in another 
line of work but who had chosen to serve the public and put their lives 
on the line.
  In Washington, there is a memorial to our law enforcement personnel, 
to our peace officers. On that memorial there are engraved the names of 
those who have lost their lives in the service of their fellow 
citizens. Two of those names that will be added this year are from the 
State of Maine.
  One was Chris Gardner. He was only 47 years old. He had worked with 
the University of Maine Police, and then he worked with the Maine Drug 
Enforcement Agency. He died November 15, 2016, from complications from 
a training exercise. He was involved in the Maine Law Enforcement Torch 
Run. Many law enforcement people across the country are involved with 
the Torch Run, which raises money and visibility for the Special 
Olympics. He is survived by his parents, his brother, his sisters, his 
stepmother, and by many aunts and uncles. He is also survived by other 
loved ones. Chris Gardner served his public, served his people, and 
served his State and community, and he lost his life in that service.
  Another loss last year that will be going onto the monument this year 
is Nathan Desjardins. Nathan was a member of the Fryeburg Police 
Department. He was only 20 years old. He had just begun his career in 
law enforcement as a peace officer. He died on his first day of water 
training, responding to an incident of a capsized canoe. The boat he 
was on hit an object in the river. He was thrown out. Desjardins and 
another emergency responder were thrown from the boat. He sustained a 
head injury and died on June 6, 2017.
  Again, he is survived by his parents, his brother, his grandmother, 
and a large extended family. Both Nathan and Christopher will have 
their names added to the memorial this week.
  They got up, they went to work, they served their public, and they 
served their citizens and their community. They put their lives on the 
line, and, in this case, they made the ultimate sacrifice.
  A name that will not be added to the memorial this year--the 
additions are from the prior calendar year, but we had an unbelievably 
tragic event in Maine barely 3 weeks ago--is that of Eugene P. Cole. He 
was shot and killed in the line of duty on April 25, 2018. He was born 
in a little town called Skowhegan, ME. He was raised in that area and 
was the oldest of five. He graduated from high school and went into the 
Army. He came back to Maine, worked in a repair shop, and then, in the 
year 2000, he decided to pursue what was really his calling as a law 
enforcement officer.
  In 2006, at the age of 50, he went to the Maine Criminal Justice 
Academy, and he became a rural patrol deputy for the Somerset County 
Sheriff's Office. I used to live right across the street from the 
Somerset County Sheriff's Office. I remember the sheriff when I was 
there almost 50 years ago--Francis Henderson. Francis Henderson 
epitomized law enforcement in Maine and then Somerset County, and his 
followers as sheriffs have done the same.
  Gene Cole was in that mold. He was admired in his community. He was 
well-known in his community. He was respected. He embodied the values 
of law enforcement, and he was an inspiration to the officers who 
served with him.
  He is survived by his wife Sheryl of 41 years, four children, several 
grandchildren, his siblings Tom and Sheryl, his mother, and a large 
extended family.
  His funeral was in Bangor, ME, just a week and a half ago, and 3,600 
people were there. Law enforcement officers from across the Northeast 
and from across the country were there to pay their respects to one of 
their fallen comrades.
  Eugene Cole was a hero. He wouldn't call himself that. He would be 
embarrassed to be called that. From my understanding, he was a modest 
and unassuming man, but he was a hero because every morning he got up 
to go to work. He put on his uniform, and he put his life on the line 
for the people of Somerset County, Skowhegan, and Norridgewock and for 
the people of the State of Maine.
  I rise today to pay tribute to Gene Cole, to Chris Gardner, to Nathan 
Desjardins, and to all of the peace officers, the law enforcement 
officers--those across our country in our communities--who every day 
are willing to put their lives on the line for us. Peace Officers 
Memorial Day--and the week--is a fitting tribute to those brave people 
across the country who serve us every day and every night around the 
clock to ``insure domestic Tranquility,'' in the wonderful phrase of 
our Founders.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BLUNT. 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. BLUNT. Mr. President, across the country this week and as is 
evident in the Nation's Capital, people are honoring men and women who 
serve in law enforcement. If you are visiting the Capitol this week, 
you will see more law enforcement officers in many different uniforms 
than you would have expected to see, unless you are already here for 
law enforcement week.
  When the Presiding Officer and I came to the Senate, Senator Coons 
from Delaware came at the same time. We started the bipartisan Senate 
Law Enforcement Caucus. It is a privilege for me to speak during law 
enforcement week as we honor those in law enforcement and to speak on 
behalf of Senator Coons and myself at a time when we think it is 
particularly important to recognize what law enforcement officers do.
  I want to talk a little bit about the law enforcement officers who 
lost their lives this year in the line of duty. Too many law 
enforcement officers around the country have lost their lives or have 
been fatally injured in the line of duty.
  Three law enforcement officers in Missouri were killed in the line of 
duty in the past year. The Clinton Police Department lost two of those 
officers--Officers Gary Lee Michael, Jr., and Christopher Ryan Morton.
  Miller County Deputy Sheriff Casey Shoemate also lost his life. 
Deputy

[[Page S2663]]

Shoemate was killed last month while responding to a structure fire. He 
was in a fatal car accident. He served at the Miller County Sheriff's 
Office for 1 year. He is survived by his two children, his fiancee, and 
his parents and siblings.
  In March, Clinton, MO, Police Officer Christopher Ryan Morton was 
shot and killed when he and two other officers responded to an unknown 
situation as the result of a 9-1-1 call. As Officer Morton and his 
colleagues arrived at the scene, the subject opened fire. The officers 
returned fire. They entered the home in an attempt to take the man into 
custody. The man continued firing and wounded all three of the 
officers. Officer Morton's colleagues survived their injuries, but 
Officer Morton's wounds turned out to be fatal. He served the Clinton 
Police Department for 3 years. Prior to joining law enforcement, he had 
served in the Missouri Army National Guard, and he deployed to Kosovo 
and Afghanistan. But it was at home in Clinton, MO, where he lost his 
life serving others. He is survived by his parents and his siblings.
  In August of last year, another officer, Gary Michael, was shot and 
killed during a traffic stop. Officer Michael had stopped a vehicle for 
a suspected registration violation, and the driver exited the vehicle 
and immediately opened fire. Even though he was mortally wounded, 
Officer Michael was able to return fire and wound the subject, who was 
later apprehended. He had been with the Clinton Police Department for 
only 1 year. He was an Army veteran. He left behind his wife, his three 
children, and a grandchild.
  In April, the Clinton Police Department placed a tribute to the two 
fallen officers in the station. The plaque quotes John 15:13: ``Greater 
love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.''
  Officers leave their homes every day likely to face more difficult 
situations than most of us face. The families of officers always have 
in the back of their minds thoughts about what is going to happen to 
the person they love when that person is out there defending us. When 
officers put on their uniforms, say goodbye to the people they love, 
and walk out the door, they put their lives on the line to try to keep 
others safe. We are forever indebted to them. We are indebted to their 
families. This debt becomes a responsibility for the sacrifices they 
make and the trauma some families face every day. When we see more 
police officers ambushed, when we see officers becoming targets more 
frequently than they used to be, this is the debt we owe to them and 
their families.
  Every year in conjunction with National Police Week, the names of 
fallen officers like the three I just mentioned are added to the wall 
of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. There are more than 
21,000 names on that wall, dating back to the first law enforcement 
death in 1791.
  This week, Senator Coons and I will be introducing the National Law 
Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act. That bill authorizes the 
Treasury Department to mint coins to commemorate the opening of the 
National Law Enforcement Museum located in Washington, DC. The museum 
is scheduled to open later this year and is dedicated to highlighting 
and honoring the work of law enforcement past and present. After the 
government is reimbursed for costs associated with producing the coin, 
proceeds will support the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial 
Fund's educational and outreach programs. I certainly hope our 
colleagues will join Senator Coons and me--as 15 Members already have--
as we circulate the request to have a coin minted and used in that way.
  Men and women of State and local law enforcement put themselves in 
harm's way every day to protect our communities. The Federal Government 
shares the responsibility of ensuring that they have the training, 
equipment, and support they need to do their jobs.
  We benefit every day from the people who are law enforcement officers 
in and around this building. One of the things they do is obviously 
keep the people safe who work here, but they also make the U.S. Capitol 
the most open and accessible Capitol in the world. People come here 
every day and walk through this building where history has been made 
and where the work of democracy still goes on. It wouldn't be possible 
for them to do that if it weren't for the police officers who serve and 
protect the Capitol and the places around the Capitol where people who 
want to see democracy in action come.
  The stress and fatigue that law enforcement officers face in the line 
of duty can take a heavy toll and can lead to behavioral health issues, 
such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. They have the 
stress that wherever they are can become the frontline when working in 
law enforcement. I was proud that the Senate passed by unanimous 
consent the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act during 
Police Week just 1 year ago. This bill, which I cosponsored, will help 
law enforcement agencies better understand and address the behavioral 
health needs of their officers.
  On that topic, too often in the last decade, we have expected police 
officers to generally be the frontlines of behavioral health delivery. 
This is not a job that is best done by police officers and emergency 
rooms, but too much of it is still being done that way. Police 
departments all over the country have turned into crisis intervention 
teams, where they prepare officers--in some cases, every officer in a 
department is prepared to be a crisis intervention officer. They must 
not only be a law enforcement officer but also the on-site person who 
must recognize a mental health problem and deal with that issue 
differently than they might if it were another kind of problem.
  Recently, I cosponsored the Probation Officer Protection Act, which 
would allow Federal probation officers to protect themselves and 
enhance their ability to do their job by giving them the authority to 
arrest third parties who are interfering with their doing their job as 
they try to secure a person who has violated their probation. 
Currently, probation officers don't have the authority to arrest a 
third party who forcibly interferes with the officer's performance of 
his or her official duties.
  We recently had Jim Goehring from the Eastern District of Missouri in 
our office for a couple of weeks to advise us on this and other issues, 
to be our policy adviser on Federal probation issues. I know he and the 
people he works with would like to see that bill passed this year.
  There are a few things we can do and are doing to honor the men and 
women in law enforcement and to help them better meet the real 
challenges of their job. They are our first responders. They run toward 
danger when others are able to run away. All of us in this Chamber have 
an obligation to honor their service not just today, not just during 
Police Week, but every day and every week. This is a week set aside for 
that, as we see officers here in Washington and at home. It is a good 
week to say thank you. Whether it is here or where we live, reaching 
out and saying thank you to those who serve us is the right thing to 
do.
  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. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Blunt). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, today, on Peace Officers Memorial Day, I 
would like to honor the service and sacrifice of Colt Eugene Allery, a 
sheriff's deputy in Rolette County, ND, who was killed in the line of 
duty in January of 2017.
  Deputy Allery was only 29 years old, but he spent much of his young 
life serving in law enforcement. His loved ones said that he was 
happiest when he was doing for others, which is why he chose law 
enforcement as his career. In his life and service, Deputy Allery 
exemplified courage and a willingness to do whatever had to be done, 
regardless of the circumstances.
  Deputy Allery's name was inscribed on the National Law Enforcement 
Officers Memorial earlier this week--a lasting tribute to his bravery 
and dedication to serving his community. His name joins 51 other North 
Dakota law enforcement officers who have paid the

[[Page S2664]]

ultimate price. We honor their legacy, along with police officers 
across the country who have died in the line of duty.
  Here in the Senate, we are also paying tribute to our men and women 
in blue. I am proud to join my colleagues in sponsoring a Senate 
resolution that pays tribute to Deputy Allery and the 128 other law 
enforcement officers killed on duty in 2017. Their dedication to 
community and the rule of law is characteristic of so many of our 
policemen and policewomen, without whose efforts our communities would 
not be the same. In recognition of such efforts, our resolution also 
honors the service of all law enforcement officers by designating this 
week, May 13 through 19, as National Police Week.
  We want to thank our men and women in blue--those who leave their 
homes and loved ones each day to protect our communities and heed the 
call to serve. While we pay special tribute to their service during 
National Police Week, we are always grateful for their sacrifices on 
our behalf. We honor them and thank them for heeding the call to serve.
  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. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hoeven). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I am honored to join with my colleagues 
in honoring the men and women of law enforcement during National Police 
Week.
  This year, it was our colleague Mr. Blunt, the Senator from Missouri 
and the leader of our Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, who arranged an 
opportunity for us to speak on the floor, and I thank him for that.
  I wish to commend my colleagues Senators Grassley and Feinstein for 
putting together the National Police Week Resolution. As of yesterday 
afternoon, there were 75 cosponsors to this resolution, which is more 
than we have had previously.
  In 2017, the law enforcement community lost 199 of its bravest to 
line-of-duty incidents. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial 
Fund reports that 53 officers have given their lives in 2018; 28 of 
those killed by firearms. This is a 56-percent increase over the same 
period in 2017.
  I am very grateful that in Alaska we have not lost an officer in 
2018. We are praying that continues and that we don't see any moving 
forward, but we know, like every other State out there, we are living 
on borrowed time.
  Law enforcement families live on borrowed time. The job is inherently 
dangerous, and we pray and wish and hope that loved ones return home at 
the end of his or her shift. Really, we know there are no guarantees, 
and there never will be.
  The last Alaska officer to give his life to protect ours was Sergeant 
Allen Brandt. He was with the Fairbanks Police Department. His end of 
watch was October 28, 2016. Sergeant Brandt was shot multiple times 
just a couple of weeks before his death. Everyone thought he would 
survive his injuries. I had an opportunity to speak with him while he 
was in the hospital with his wife and his best friend. He was released 
from the hospital. Eight days after the shooting, Allen felt strong 
enough to actually appear before the Fairbanks City Council in person 
to thank the community for their outpouring of love and support and the 
unconditional love they had offered him and his family in the wake of 
this tragedy. He was very thankful to the community, most certainly, 
but he also went on to admonish the community. He said:

       We need your support, not just when bad things happen. The 
     officers do a hard job and most of the time it's thankless.

  Those were truly his famous last words. He went to Anchorage for a 
second surgery a few days later, and he died on the operating table.
  Officer Allen is clearly not forgotten in the Fairbanks community. He 
lived a hero's life, and his words before the Fairbanks City Council 
will be long remembered: ``We need your support, not just when bad 
things happen.'' That has to be the reminder to all of us all of the 
time--to be there for those who are serving us, to be there to support 
them.
  In an editorial published this morning, the Fairbanks Daily News-
Miner offers the following:

       With police receiving much negative media attention on the 
     national level, sometimes people forget the vast majority of 
     police officers are good men and women who put their lives on 
     the line. . . . Take time to remember the . . . fallen 
     officers who have given their lives up for their communities. 
     And be sure to thank the police officers you do see for the 
     hard job they do, even if nothing bad has happened lately.

  Those were words taken from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner this 
morning.
  This week, thousands of members of the law enforcement family have 
come to Washington, DC, for public ceremonies on the Mall and here at 
the Capitol. There have been private moments visiting lost colleagues 
at the memorial site. The surviving relatives of the fallen are 
grieving and recovering at events sponsored by Concerns of Police 
Survivors. This is a great organization, a vital organization, whose 
existence is barely known outside of the law enforcement community. I 
have had several--several--opportunities over the years to work with 
this extraordinary organization as they have been there for the 
families who have lost their heroes.
  There are ample opportunities this week to thank members of our law 
enforcement family for their sacrifices in public and, certainly, ample 
opportunities every day of the year to thank our officers in private, 
starting with our own U.S. Capitol Police who greet us at the door 
every morning. They remain on post when we leave at the end of very 
long days. They are here for us day in and day out.
  I would just end with an observation. I think the editorial this 
morning in the Fairbanks paper offers up words of wisdom. As the 
memories of National Police Week 2018 fade, I hope we will not wait 
until next May to thank the men and women of law enforcement for their 
selfless and at times thankless service to our communities.
  With that, I thank you.
  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. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                               Healthcare

  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I rise today in support of legislation I 
have introduced with several of my colleagues--Senators Murkowski, 
Barrasso, Stabenow, and Cassidy--that would remove a barrier that 
prevents patients from getting the most affordable prescription drug 
prices at the pharmacy counter.
  Mr. President, Americans have the right to know which payment 
method--whether it is using insurance or paying with cash out of 
pocket--would provide the most savings when they are purchasing 
prescription drugs. The two bills we have introduced would establish 
some clarity in this incredibly opaque drug pricing system.
  Nearly 60 percent of Americans, including roughly 90 percent of 
seniors, take at least one prescription drug. In 2016, Americans spent 
more than $330 billion, including a staggering $45 billion out of 
pocket, on retail prescription drugs. The Federal Government picked up 
another $139 billion through Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs.
  Prescription drugs amount to nearly 18 percent of all healthcare 
expenditures and are the second fastest growing expenditure within 
healthcare. Moreover, two-thirds of personal bankruptcies in our 
country have been attributed to the cost of medical care, including 
prescription drugs. To make informed decisions, at the very least, we 
should have the right to know how much our prescription drugs cost.
  At a series of hearings held by the Senate HELP Committee, I have 
questioned repeatedly one particularly egregious practice that conceals 
prices from patients at the pharmacy counter. This practice is the 
result of what are known as ``pharmacy gag clauses.'' These are 
contract terms

[[Page S2665]]

that prohibit pharmacists from proactively telling consumers if their 
prescription would actually cost less if they paid for it themselves 
rather than using their insurance plan. In other words, if the consumer 
is using insurance, pharmacists can actually be prohibited from 
disclosing whether the consumer is paying the lowest possible price. In 
fact, the pharmacist is prohibited from sharing this vital information 
unless the consumer explicitly asks.
  Most consumers would never guess that it would be cheaper for them to 
pay out of pocket than to use their insurance plan to purchase the 
medicine they need. Insurance is intended to save consumers money in 
this situation, but that is not always the case. Gag clauses in 
contracts that prohibit pharmacists from telling patients how to obtain 
best prices obscure what the true cost of the drug could be and the 
fact that it could be lower than what the patient is paying. Several 
recent investigations, including by the New York Times and NBC News, 
have highlighted this unacceptable practice. For example, a consumer 
paid a copay of $43 for a cholesterol drug; however, had that same 
consumer paid cash rather than using his insurance, the cost would have 
been only $19. Another investigation told the story of a consumer who 
used insurance to pay $129 for a drug when the cost would have been 
just $18 had he paid out of pocket.
  From Maine to California, the stories are endless. And this practice 
is not an outlier issue. According to a survey by the National 
Community Pharmacists Association, more than 50 percent of community 
pharmacists reported that gag clause restrictions prevented them from 
telling patients about other less expensive options, such as paying in 
cash, at least 10 times in the past month.
  Recently, I was at the pharmacy counter at a grocery store in Maine, 
and the couple in front of me decided not to take the prescription they 
needed because the copay of $111 was more than they could afford. I 
could not help but wonder: If they hadn't used their insurance, would 
they have been able to purchase that drug at a lower price? It is so 
counterintuitive that very few consumers are going to think to ask the 
pharmacist that question.
  I first learned about these gag clauses from pharmacists in Maine who 
were frustrated that they were prohibited from providing their patients 
with information on the most cost-effective way for them to purchase 
the medication they had been prescribed. Pharmacists are barred from 
speaking up, and those who do face penalties for doing so. Pharmacists 
are on the frontlines in helping patients manage multiple medications, 
and they would also like to help ensure that their patients are getting 
the best, most affordable price.
  The first bill we have introduced, the Patient Right to Know Drug 
Prices Act, which is S. 2554--which I have cosponsored with the four 
Senators I mentioned, Senators McCaskill, Barrasso, Stabenow, and 
Cassidy--would prohibit pharmacy gag clauses in healthcare plans that 
are sold on the exchange and in group plans as well. The second bill, 
the Know the Lowest Price Act, which is S. 2553--which I am a lead 
cosponsor on with Senator Stabenow--would ban these clauses in Medicare 
Part D and Medicare Advantage plans.
  Specifically, both bills would prohibit health insurance plans and 
any pharmacy benefit managers with whom they contract from restricting 
the ability of a pharmacist to provide a plan enrollee with information 
about any price difference that may exist between the price of the drug 
under the insurance plan and the price of the drug purchased out of 
pocket. Our bills would also prohibit penalties from being imposed on 
any pharmacist who shares such vital and valuable information.

  Some States have already taken action to combat this problem. For 
example, the State of Maine enacted a law last year that prohibits 
charging an insurance enrollee a copayment or other charge that is 
higher than the cost of the drug to the pharmacy provider. The Maine 
law also protects pharmacists who disclose information related to out-
of-pocket costs from being penalized by insurance companies or PPMs 
under gag clauses. These are commonsense solutions.
  In announcing his drug pricing plan last week, the President, I am 
pleased to say, stated his intent to ban any gag clauses that would 
apply to pharmacies. While the administration can take some steps 
administratively to curb this practice, the enactment of our two bills 
would ensure that this protection for pharmacists and for patients is 
required under law.
  As consumers continue to face skyrocketing prescription drug prices, 
we ought to do all we can to ensure that Americans are getting the best 
prices possible. As Congress looks at innovative ways to bring down 
prices and to increase transparency throughout the healthcare system, 
our bills tackle an overlooked issue that directly affects consumers 
and pharmacies across our country.
  Our legislation has already received strong endorsements from more 
than a dozen organizations, including Patients for Affordable Drugs, 
the American Pharmacists Association, the Pharmaceutical Care 
Management Association, and other groups, ranging from the Arthritis 
Foundation to the AIDS Institute.
  I ask unanimous consent that these letters and statements be printed 
in the Record at the conclusion of my remarks.
  It is only logical that pharmacists want to be able to provide their 
customers with information that will help them afford the medications 
they have been prescribed. It is absolutely unacceptable for 
pharmacists in this country to be banned, under gag clauses, from 
providing that invaluable information to patients, particularly those 
who may be struggling with the cost of prescription drugs.
  I urge my colleagues to support banning pharmacy gag clauses and the 
passage of both S. 2554 and S. 2553.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:
                                                      Patients for


                                         Affordable Drugs Now,

                                                    April 2, 2018.
     Hon. Senator Susan Collins,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Senator Claire McCaskill,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Senator Debbie Stabenow,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Senator John Barrasso,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Senator Bill Cassidy,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Senator Ron Wyden,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senators Collins, McCaskill, Stabenow, Barrasso, 
     Cassidy, and Wyden: As an organization that represents 
     patients hurt by high prescription drug prices, Patients For 
     Affordable Drugs NOW is acutely aware of the importance of 
     patient access to information on drug prices. Today we are 
     writing to endorse The Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act 
     (S. 2554) and The Know the Lowest Price Act (S. 2553).
       Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) often write contracts that 
     prevent local pharmacists from communicating with patients 
     openly about the prices of drugs. PBMs are a black box in the 
     drug distribution pipeline, and these contracts extend their 
     lack of transparency into our community pharmacies.
       Patients For Affordable Drugs NOW has heard from patients 
     all over the country who are cutting pills in half, skipping 
     doses, and going without food to pay for their drugs. It's 
     wrong. At the very least these patients deserve to understand 
     where their costs come from and how to find the best price 
     for the drugs they need. Your leadership on this issue is 
     greatly appreciated, and these bills are a step toward giving 
     patients the information they deserve.
       Patients For Affordable Drugs NOW strongly supports S. 2554 
     and S. 2553 and urges Congress to move quickly in passing 
     them.
           Sincerely,

                                               David Mitchell,

                                                          Founder,
     Patients For Affordable Drugs NOW.
                                  ____



                             American Pharmacists Association,

                                                   March 22, 2018.
     Hon. Susan Collins,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Claire McCaskill,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senators Collins and McCaskill: On behalf of the 
     American Pharmacists Association (APhA), and our 64,000 
     members, I am pleased to announce our support for the Patient 
     Right to Know Drug Prices Act, S. 2554--legislation to 
     permanently remove a significant barrier imposed on 
     pharmacists from pharmaceutical benefit managers' (PBMs) use 
     of ``gag clauses'' in contracts. APhA appreciates your 
     efforts to increase patients' access to more affordable and 
     cost-effective medicines by empowering pharmacists to inform 
     patients that a medication may be less expensive if purchased 
     at the ``cash price,'' rather than through their insurance 
     plan. For years pharmacists have

[[Page S2666]]

     been frustrated by their inability to help their patients who 
     they knew were struggling with high co-payments.
       APhA, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical 
     Association, represents pharmacists, pharmaceutical 
     scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and 
     others interested in improving medication use and advancing 
     patient care. APhA members provide care in all practice 
     settings, including community pharmacies, physicians' 
     offices, hospitals, long-term care facilities, community 
     health centers, managed care organizations, hospice settings 
     and the uniformed services.
       America's 300,000 pharmacists are the health care 
     professionals most often at the front lines of informing 
     patients about their medication costs or copay amounts and 
     explaining complicated insurance coverage policies. However, 
     under many contracts with PBMs, pharmacists cannot inform 
     patients that a medicine is less expensive if they pay the 
     cash price and do not run it through their health plans.
       Thank you for your efforts in removing this barrier on 
     pharmacists--the medication expert on the patient's health 
     care team--to assist patients in receiving the affordable 
     medications they need. APhA is committed to working 
     collaboratively with you and other stakeholders to improve 
     the accessibility and affordability of effective medications. 
     If you have any questions or require additional information, 
     please contact Alicia Kerry J. Mica, Senior Lobbyist, 
     Government Affairs.
           Sincerely,

                                           Thomas E. Menighan,

                                   BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA,
     Executive Vice President and CEO.
                                  ____


                      [From PCMA, March 15, 2018]

       PCMA Responds to ``Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act''

       Washington, DC.--The Pharmaceutical Care Management 
     Association (PCMA) released the following statement on 
     legislation, the ``Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act,'' 
     introduced today in the Senate:
       ``We support the patient always paying the lowest cost at 
     the pharmacy counter, whether its the cash price or the 
     copay. This is standard industry practice in both Medicare 
     and the commercial sector.
       We would oppose contracting that prohibits drugstores from 
     sharing with patients the cash price they charge for each 
     drug. These rates are set entirely at the discretion of each 
     pharmacy and can vary significantly from drugstore to 
     drugstore.
       Fortunately: to the degree this issue was ever rooted in 
     more than anecdotal information, it has been addressed in the 
     marketplace.''
                                  ____

                                                   April 16, 2018.
     Hon. Susan Collins,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. John Barrasso,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Debbie Stabenow,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Claire McCaskill,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Bill Cassidy,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senators Collins, McCaskill, Barrasso, Cassidy, and 
     Stabenow: On behalf of the patient and provider organizations 
     listed below, all of which are members of the Coalition for 
     Accessible Treatments, we write in support of the bipartisan 
     Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act (S. 2554), which would 
     prohibit health plans offered through the exchanges or by 
     private employers from using so-called gag clauses that can 
     be used to prohibit the disclosure of pricing options to 
     patients.
       We are also supportive of legislation you introduced with 
     Senator Wyden, the Know the Lowest Price Act (S. 2553). The 
     bill would similarly afford protections for patients enrolled 
     in Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Prescription Drug 
     Plans.
       As you know, some pharmacists are required to sign ``gag 
     orders,'' which typically apply to generics and prevent the 
     patient from making the cheaper choice of paying out-of-
     pocket rather than paying a higher co-payment. In fact, in 
     some cases if a patient were to pay the cash price, they 
     would pay less for their medication than if they used their 
     health insurance. However, a pharmacist that has signed a gag 
     order would be prohibited from informing a patient of this 
     option.
       Research published earlier this month in the Journal of the 
     American Medical Association found that overpayments affected 
     23 percent of prescriptions filled out of the nearly 10 
     million claims that were evaluated. The study also calculated 
     that these overpayments totaled $135 million in 2013.
       Thank you for your leadership. It is critical that patients 
     are made aware of payment options at the pharmacy counter and 
     understand whether utilizing insurance or paying out-of-
     pocket would provide the most savings to purchase needed 
     medication. We look forward to working with you on these and 
     other important access issues affecting patients with chronic 
     diseases.
           Sincerely,
         The AIDS Institute, American Academy of Dermatology 
           Association, American Academy of Neurology, American 
           Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, American 
           College of Rheumatology, Arthritis Foundation, 
           Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association, Leukemia & 
           Lymphoma Society, Lupus and Allied Diseases 
           Association, Inc., National Psoriasis Foundation, 
           Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation.
                                  ____



                                                   CVS Health,

                                   Woonsocket, RI, March 15, 2018.

 CVS Health Applauds New Legislation to Better Inform Pharmacy Choices


  Bipartisan ``Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act'' and ``Know the 
        Lowest Price Act of 2018'' introduced in the U.S. Senate

       Woonsocket, R.I., March 15, 2018--CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) 
     today released the following statement regarding the 
     ``Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act,'' introduced by U.S. 
     Senators Collins, McCaskill, Barrasso, Stabenow and Cassidy 
     and the ``Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018,'' introduced by 
     U.S. Senators Stabenow, Collins, Wyden, Cassidy, McCaskill 
     and Barrasso. These bills prevent companies from instituting 
     contract provisions, known as ``gag clauses,'' which prohibit 
     pharmacists from informing patients if the cash price of a 
     prescription is lower than the cost the patient would pay 
     using their health insurance.
       ``CVS Health applauds the introduction of the ``Patient 
     Right to Know Drug Prices Act,'' and the ``Know the Lowest 
     Price Act of 2018,'' which will help ensure all consumers can 
     make informed decisions about their prescription drug costs 
     at the pharmacy counter. CVS Health's own pharmacy benefit 
     manager, CVS Caremark, does not engage in the practice of 
     preventing pharmacists from informing patients of the cash 
     price of a prescription drug, known as ``gag clauses.'' 
     Actually, our contracts with all dispensing pharmacies in our 
     network require that CVS Caremark members always get the 
     benefit of at least the lower of the pharmacy's cash price 
     and the plan's copay. If a CVS Caremark plan member's copay 
     for a drug is greater than the dispensing pharmacy's 
     contracted rate, it is not our practice to collect that 
     difference from the pharmacy. We are pleased to see these 
     bills align the industry to these consumer best practices and 
     applaud Senators Collins, Stabenow, Wyden, McCaskill, 
     Barrasso, and Cassidy for their leadership.''
                                  ____


                [From CISION PR Newswire, Mar. 16, 2018]


  express scripts endorses ``know the lowest price act of 2018'' and 
               ``patient right to know drug prices act''

                          (By Express Scripts)

       St. Louis, March 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/--Express Scripts 
     (NASDAQ: ESRX) today released this statement in support of S. 
     2553, the ``Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018,'' introduced 
     by U.S. Senators Stabenow, Collins, Wyden, Cassidy, McCaskill 
     and Barrasso, and S. 2554, the ``Patient Right to Know Drug 
     Prices Act,'' introduced by U.S. Senators Collins, McCaskill, 
     Barrasso, Stabenow and Cassidy.
       Express Scripts is against clawbacks and gag clauses, anti-
     patient practices that have been used by other pharmacy 
     benefit managers.
       ``Express Scripts has long supported the goals of S. 2553 
     and S. 2554, and we have worked with state lawmakers across 
     the country to prohibit the anti-consumer practice of so-
     called ``gag clauses.'' We applaud the Senators for leading 
     on this important issue. Since we are already in compliance, 
     we are prepared for an effective date of today.
       ``Drug makers want plan sponsors and patients to think that 
     pharmacy benefit managers gain from this anti-consumer 
     practice, which is clearly not the case. We encourage swift 
     consideration of S. 2553 and S. 2554 so lawmakers can focus 
     on the real issue--high drug prices set by manufacturers.''
       As part of its mission to put medicine within reach of 
     patients, Express Scripts believes its members should pay the 
     lowest cost possible, and be informed about the out of pocket 
     cost of their medication in advance of filling a 
     prescription. We provide members real-time pricing 
     information, customized to their individual plans, via our 
     website and mobile app. Moreover, pharmacies in our retail 
     network are not permitted to charge a member more for their 
     copay under their benefit than the pharmacy's cash price.
       While there is never an instance where a pharmacist or 
     pharmacy would need to tell an Express Scripts member about a 
     lower cost by paying cash because the claim would process at 
     the lower cost, we agree that so-called ``gag clauses'' are 
     not in patients' best interest. Therefore, they are not part 
     of our retail network agreements.
       More information on this issue can be found at: http://
lab.express-scripts.com/lab/insights/drug-options/keeping-
copays-affordable.

  Ms. COLLINS. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Flake). The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. President, I commend my friend and colleague from 
Maine who has been such an extraordinary leader on these issues. She is 
the chairwoman of our Aging Committee. We recently had a hearing on how 
we can do better on pricing for insulin diabetes products. She is 
tireless,

[[Page S2667]]

and we are very grateful for her hard work.


                                Pensions

  Mr. President, over the next hour, we will hear from a group of 
Senators speaking in support of the hundreds of thousands of workers 
and retirees across the country at risk of losing their pensions. We 
are here, once again, calling on Congress to enact pension legislation 
before it is too late.
  I thank Senator Baldwin for helping me organize this block of floor 
speeches, and I thank Senators Heitkamp, Manchin, Klobuchar, Casey, and 
Peters for their participation today and for their years of hard work 
in search of a solution. I also want to recognize my friend and 
colleague Senator Brown for his tireless leadership on this issue.
  If we don't act soon, in my home State of Indiana, nearly 22,000 
Teamsters and 2,700 mine workers could face significant pension cuts--
and they are not alone. There are nearly 150 multiemployer pension 
plans listed by the U.S. Department of Labor as in ``critical or 
endangered status.'' The failure of those plans would likely lead to 
the collapse of the Federal pension insurance program--the PBGC--the 
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
  Over the last several years I, along with a number of my colleagues, 
have been calling on the Senate to take action. I helped introduce the 
Butch Lewis Act, which puts pension plans on solid footing through a 
new financing option. I also helped introduce the Miners Pension 
Protection Act, which would ensure the solvency of the United Mine 
Workers of America pension plan.
  I met with Hoosier pension beneficiaries countless times to hear 
their stories, including hundreds of Teamsters at Local 135 in 
Indianapolis and dozens of mineworkers in Oakland City. Additionally, I 
have hosted bipartisan meetings and spoken with the current and 
previous administrations to push for action now.
  Though I wish legislation had already been enacted, Congress did 
create a joint select committee earlier this year to hopefully craft a 
legislative solution by the end of the year. That is why I am here--to 
continue shining a light on this important issue and to push for a 
solution.
  This issue has significant, real-life implications for the thousands 
of Hoosiers who are affected by it. Don't take my word for it; listen 
to the heartfelt words of my constituents.
  Rex and Cristine in Fort Wayne, IN, wrote:

       We both worked really hard for a combined number of 48 
     years . . . and now to be faced with the possibility of 
     elimination or reduction of our pensions--through no fault of 
     our own--would severely impact our peace of mind and quality 
     of life. . . . A promise is a promise and we, as retirees, 
     need these promises to be honored.

  Randy, who is a retiree and Teamster since 1972 in Fort Wayne, IN, 
wrote:

       My entire working career . . . I was promised what I would 
     earn from my pension. . . . Now I am sixty-five years old and 
     have health issues. . . . I need your help to pass the Butch 
     Lewis Act of 2017 . . . that way we can all live the rest of 
     our years with dignity and respect without becoming a burden 
     on anyone.

  Steven is a marine veteran from Columbia City, IN. He served from 
1971 through 1974. He wrote:

       Without my pension, Social Security is my only income. We 
     are not asking for a hand out, only what most of us worked 30 
     years for. We earned our pension and as a member of Central 
     States Pension fund, the government was already watching over 
     our fund. What happened? Not many of us have anything else to 
     live on. I am 66 years old and cannot replace a lost pension.

  Elizabeth, from Fort Wayne, IN, wrote:

       My husband and I are both drawing a pension from Central 
     States. Together we worked 45 years without employer 
     contribution to the pension fund. During this time we 
     sacrificed a large amount in hourly wage so our company could 
     contribute to our pension. Since retiring my husband suffered 
     a heart attack and had two knee surgeries. It would be very 
     difficult for him to find work that would replace the lost 
     income if we no longer have our pensions.

  Russel from Yoder, IN, wrote:

       Without my pension, it will become much more difficult to 
     buy groceries, pay for our medicine . . . my wife and I are 
     both 81 years old. I paid into the pension fund for 41 years 
     and I ask you to protect your constituents by urging the 
     leadership to include the Butch Lewis Act in the agenda.

  David, who is also from Fort Wayne, wrote:

       We planned on having this pension for 30 years. All those 
     years I worked hard, paid my dues . . . I thought I would be 
     able to secure my family's ability to relax and enjoy 
     retirement and not have to worry about pennies spent . . . 
     this is not cheap and cuts into our Social Security. Our 
     pension helps absorb these added costs for our household 
     money and is not extra money.

  Nelson, who is from Andrews, IN, wrote:

       I started driving a truck in 1957 and since that time I've 
     driven well over 3.2 million accident-free miles. . . . Now, 
     my wife and I . . . rely on my pension for basic living 
     expenses and to cover medical expenses. If my pension is cut, 
     we'll be unable to make ends meet. We urgently need your help 
     to protect my pension.

  Rex and Cristine, Randy, Steven, Elizabeth, Russell, David and Nelson 
all earned their pensions, and they are just a small representation of 
the thousands of working families--and everyone has their own story--
who are depending on us to do our job and act. They don't want a 
handout. That is not the American way. That is not the Hoosier way. 
They did their part. Now it is time for us to help make good on what 
they were promised.
  They don't care about politics. They don't want anything to do with 
partisanship. They just want us to fix this. That is part of why we 
were sent here--to solve problems--and it is time to solve this problem 
now.
  Let's reach a solution that allows American workers to retire with 
the financial security they expected and the financial security they 
earned.
  Thank you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. President, I rise on behalf of the more than 25,000 
workers and retirees in Wisconsin who have paid into the Central States 
Pension Fund.
  If Washington does not act, workers and retirees face massive cuts to 
the pensions they have earned over decades of work. If Washington does 
not act, small businesses will be on the hook for a pension liability 
they cannot afford.
  I have been proud to work side by side with Wisconsin workers and 
retirees and with Senator Brown, who introduced the Butch Lewis Act, 
and I have been proud to work with Senator Donnelly and others to 
organize this afternoon's opportunity to share the stories of the hard-
working people and retirees we represent.
  The bill--the Butch Lewis Act--will put failing multiemployer pension 
plans, including Central States, back on solid ground, and it does so 
without cutting a single cent from the pension retirees have earned.
  I have also introduced legislation to help shore up the government's 
insurance plan for these pensions. Earlier this year, I shared the 
stories of Wisconsin retirees who stand to lose more than 50 percent of 
their pensions if Washington does not act. Since then, nothing has been 
done. I am here once again to remind my colleagues that this is about a 
promise that must be kept.
  This is about a promise made to Gary, from Marshfield, WI. Gary told 
me:

       We recently got custody of our great grandson, and raising 
     an 8 year old is expensive, more expensive than when our kids 
     were young. If my pension gets cut, it would definitely 
     affect our family.

  I relate to Gary's comments because I was raised by my grandparents. 
I can't imagine raising a great-grandchild. So thank you for doing 
that. Also, yes, it does cost money, and you need to have the stability 
of keeping the promises that you were given when you enrolled in 
Central States Pension.
  This is about a promise made to Diane and her husband, from 
Luxemburg, WI. Diane wrote to tell me:

       If my husband loses his pension, we could lose our house. 
     My husband has been through polio, cancer, a knee 
     replacement--and he needs another. He worked hard all his 
     life lifting thousands of pounds every day in a grocery 
     warehouse. We paid into a pension expecting to have a 
     comfortable life in retirement--and now it's at risk of being 
     lost.

  This is about a promise we made to Michael, from De Pere, WI, a 
Vietnam veteran. For over 30 years, Michael was a driver at a local 
construction business. His wife is a retired nurse. They both worked 
long hours and are now at the age where finding a new job is not an 
option. Michael told me:


[[Page S2668]]


  

       With increasing costs of living and prescription drugs, 
     losing my pension would leave us in a state of devastation.

  This is about a promise made to Randall. Randall is from Suamico, WI. 
He is a retired truckdriver. Randall told me about long hours on the 
road and leaving his wife at home to care for their children. In 2015 
he received a letter from Central States Pension Fund informing him 
that his pension would be cut in half.
  I can't imagine receiving that sort of devastating news.
  Randall is 68 years old, he is in poor health, and he would find it 
impossible to find another job today. He said:

       My wife and I both worked hard our entire lives. Our hard 
     work should have meant a secure retirement, and we are 
     worried sick about the possibility of losing my pension. It 
     is difficult to sleep at night.

  If Washington does not act, we will be breaking a promise made to 1.5 
million workers and retirees nationwide. Small businesses will make 
hard decisions to lay off workers or close their doors. Washington 
needs to act, and we need to do it now.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. President, I want to thank my colleague from 
Wisconsin for those heartfelt and inspiring remarks. It illustrates the 
problem--the problem I was talking about with my friend Randy, from 
Fort Wayne, who said: ``My entire career I was promised what I would 
earn from my pension.''
  These are people who every day got up in the dark, worked all day, 
and went home in the dark so they could take care of their families, so 
they could meet their obligations.
  All of the businesses to which many of these teamster drivers 
delivered counted on those drivers to be there every day, on time in 
order to keep their business going, and they always kept their word.
  The coal miners from my State were promised by Harry Truman that this 
pension was a sacred obligation that would be kept, and they counted on 
President Truman's word and the word of everybody else after that.
  They kept the lights on in our country. They helped to make sure that 
we were able to win wars. They stood up every single day to fight for 
the red, white, and blue. All they ever asked is for us to keep our 
word. That is what we need to do.
  I am honored to have with us here today my colleague from North 
Dakota, who fights every single day for the people of her State. We are 
so blessed to have her with us right now.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Dakota.
  Ms. HEITKAMP. Mr. President, this is such an important issue, and 
those of us who have spent time with any of the workers and those of us 
who have spent time with small business owners who are deeply concerned 
about the viability of their business under a ``last man standing'' 
kind of rule completely understand the level of grave concern these 
Americans are experiencing as a result of the problem with 
multiemployer pension funds like Central States. It is clear to me that 
if we fail to act, workers and retirees could, and probably will, see 
their retirement security disappear. Small businesses across the 
country could, and probably will, face bankruptcy, and taxpayers would 
still be left on the hook.
  Today we are here to tell the stories and give the voice to the 
workers, small businesses, and retirees who are most at-risk for losing 
their pensions after years of hard work and playing by the rules. Today 
I rise to give a voice to thousands of North Dakota workers and 
retirees who are at risk of losing their retirement security because of 
the financial instability of our multiemployer pension system.
  The only way to prevent these workers and retirees from losing their 
pensions is for Congress to act. These men and women did everything 
right, and they live not just in North Dakota but in almost every 
State. They played by the rules. They worked for years, if not decades, 
often in labor-intensive jobs, like coal miners or as workers in the 
trucking industry, such as UPS package delivery and grocery supply 
stores. They acted responsibly when they negotiated for and started 
putting money away in their pensions, taking wage reductions to 
guarantee that their family had a future.
  I also want to point out that when I asked how many of the pensioners 
who come to my meetings served their country by putting on a uniform to 
stand up, usually it is about a third to a half of the room. So let's 
not forget that these are veterans who returned home. They started 
working in their communities. They took off that uniform and continued 
to build our communities, and now they are struggling to understand how 
a government and how a society could be leaving them in this level of 
uncertainty regarding their economic future.
  I want to tell a couple stories of some of the people that I have 
met. I want you to know that on Saturday, I had a meeting with over 140 
workers in Fargo. They came from all over, and their stories were 
heartbreaking. They couldn't understand, if they did everything right, 
how in the United States of America they would have their financial 
viability at risk. I had one man stand up who was 80 years old who told 
me that he went back to work when he knew there was going to be a 
problem, and he worked in the oil fields. He said: I am worn out; there 
is nothing more I can do.
  I want to talk about Donna Matson and her husband Mike, who worked as 
a UPS driver for 30 years in Fargo, a job that had an impact on his 
time with his family and his health. In 2013 he was diagnosed with a 
progressive supranuclear palsy, a degenerative disease that requires 
regular and expensive speech, physical, and occupational therapies. 
That pension he put money into was supposed to be there to support his 
family after Mike's decades of labor. Now, when he needs it most and 
when his wife Donna needs it most, that pension could be ripped away.
  Tina Kramer, from Mandan, was a member of the Teamsters, working as a 
secretary for the local union for 25 years, through which she earned a 
pension. Her husband was a member of the Steelworkers and worked for 
Bobcat for about 30 years as a forklift driver, and he earned a 
pension. Several years ago, both of them retired. Soon after, Tina's 
husband suddenly passed away. Tina lost her husband's pension and now 
relies solely on her pension. Tina has just a little bit of savings, 
and she has already had to dip into that each month to pay her bills 
for groceries and property taxes. Should the Central States Fund go 
bankrupt, it is only going to get worse.
  Mark Rothschiller, from Bismarck, gave up a lot to work many long 
hours as a UPS driver for 27 years. When we say ``gave up a lot,'' he 
gave up going to his kids' plays and sports games because he often 
worked late. Because of the intensive labor of his work, he has had 
five back surgeries and another rotator cuff surgery, which forced him 
to retire early. If Congress doesn't act to fix the Central States 
Pension Fund, he doesn't know if he will be able to pay his healthcare 
bills.
  Mark Lundeby, from Grand Forks, never thought he would be in the 
position where after 36\1/2\ years of driving a semi, putting in 14-
hour days, with extensive stretches away from home, he no longer may 
have his retirement savings. That is the reality. He followed the rules 
and paid into his pensions throughout his entire career. He tells me 
that if we don't move legislation to protect his pension soon, he will 
have to sell his house.
  I invite any of our colleagues in this body to call a meeting of the 
people who have been affected. I serve on the Select Committee on 
Pensions. At our first meeting, we had a lot of discussion about how 
difficult solving this problem will be. There was a lot of talk about 
the math and how we could make the math work and how we could bring 
this fund back into solvency. I said: That is right. We need to fix the 
economics of the pension fund, but we cannot ignore our moral 
imperative.
  That moral imperative is to do the right thing, to make sure that, as 
we are standing there, we realize that for very, very many--in fact, 
for hundreds of thousands of citizens of our State--this is life or 
death. This is the difference between having dignity in retirement and 
being completely dependent on someone else to help them through. This 
is at a time that they did nothing wrong, other than to plan for a 
pension that would work for them, other than to bargain for a pension 
that would work for them. We cannot

[[Page S2669]]

ignore the moral imperative. Yes, we need to fix this, and we need to 
fix it soon because time is wasting. The longer we wait, the more 
difficult it is going to be.
  I invite all of our colleagues who aren't familiar with this issue to 
call a meeting or to come to one of our meetings and to look these 
veterans in the face, look these hardworking people in the face, look 
at the active folks who don't know if their benefits are already going 
to be given and available to them, look them in the face and say: It is 
simply a math problem. Your problem is a math problem.
  No, their problem is an American problem. It is a congressional 
problem. It is an administration problem, and it needs to be fixed. We 
need to make a commitment to making sure that the people who have 
worked hard all their lives--the people we talk about every day on this 
floor--are kept whole and moving in securing their pensions. It is an 
American imperative.
  Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. President, I want to thank my friend and colleague 
from North Dakota, who works nonstop for the people of her State.
  We often talk about making sure the things we do in the Senate reward 
hard work, that they stand up for hard work, that they are focused on 
making sure there is a fair deal for those, as I mentioned before, who 
go to work in the dark, who work all day and all evening, and who come 
home in the dark, and on making sure we keep our word in regard to 
pensions related to them--to the people who have worked 30, 40 years.
  My colleague from Michigan, Senator Peters, has always been at the 
forefront of making sure we keep our word, that we do what is right, 
and that we stand up for the working men and women of Michigan and our 
country.
  I yield to the Senator from Michigan.
  Mr. PETERS. Mr. President, I thank Senator Donnelly for bringing this 
issue to the floor. I also thank him for his leadership on this issue. 
He has fought for Indiana families day in and day out on the Senate 
floor. They are facing a crisis now as the people of Michigan are 
facing a crisis. As the Senator spoke about a fair deal, I can say, 
with a great deal of certainty, that the people of Michigan, just like 
the people of Indiana, believe a deal is a deal. This is a saying we 
have all heard, but it is also something on which we should all agree 
throughout the country.
  The American commitment to honoring contracts is part of why our 
economy is the greatest in the world. Businesses know that if their 
partners in duly executed deals back out, they have access to the full 
power of our courts and our legal system to make them whole. This is 
basic fairness. A deal is a deal. Workers deserve the same fairness. 
Workers who have banded together to negotiate for pensions during their 
retirements in exchange for lower upfront pay deserve the pensions they 
have earned.
  Generations of Americans have built their lives around the idea that 
if you work hard and play by the rules, you will have a fair shot at 
success. The certainty that hard work will be rewarded empowers 
Americans to achieve economic security, provide for loved ones, and 
retire with dignity, but for many Americans who have spent decades 
working hard, their retirements are now at risk.
  Tens of thousands of Michiganders will be denied their hard-earned 
retirements if Congress does not act to protect the pension benefits 
they have earned. More than 400,000 Americans, including over 47,000 in 
Michigan, will face massive cuts to their pensions if the Central 
States Pension Fund is allowed to fail. Central States is not the only 
multiemployer pension plan that is on a rapid path to insolvency. As 
many as 200 financially troubled plans are at risk of being closed 
while the retirements of 1.5 million Americans hang in the balance.
  When Michiganders contact me about this issue, they are frustrated 
and angry, but more than anything else, they are afraid. They are 
afraid they will lose their homes. They are afraid they will be unable 
to afford the healthcare they need. They are afraid they could, one 
day, become burdens on their adult children.
  I appreciate that it is not very easy to share very personal fears, 
but I would like to share some of the stories I have heard from 
Michigan retirees and from folks who are hoping to retire soon.
  Carl from Menominee would have to sell his house and find a new job 
he and his aching joints would, hopefully, be able to handle at the age 
of 72, after 30 years of hard physical labor.
  Jan and his wife Thelma, from Deerfield, would lose the home Jan 
built over 50 years ago with his own two hands. Although Thelma still 
works and pays into a pension plan, she will not receive the benefits 
she has earned over the last decade--ever since the troubled plan froze 
the funds for active workers. For people like Thelma, the uncertainty 
of pension cuts is quickly becoming a harsh reality.
  William from Erie is enduring an 80-percent cut to his pension. He 
describes it as the worst thing that could have possibly ever happened 
to him and his wife in their golden years. William is a Navy veteran 
who drove 120 miles to and from work every day to keep his pension and 
the promise of a comfortable retirement. The extreme cuts he is facing 
have forced him to go back to work. He had to overcome multiple 
barriers to senior employment in order to land a minimum-wage job. The 
job pays for basic necessities, like electricity, food, and heat, but 
he still cannot afford health insurance for his wife, who is still more 
than a year away from qualifying for Medicare.
  These Americans made deals with their employers--decades of hard work 
in exchange for fair earnings and decent retirements. A deal is a deal. 
We have the FDIC to make sure Americans don't lose their life savings 
if banks go under. We have federally backed crop insurance to help 
protect farmers who face unpredictable growing seasons. We even have 
federally backed mortgage insurance to protect banks if homeowners 
can't pay their mortgages.
  Workers like Carl, Thelma, and William are not asking for handouts. 
They are asking for the pension benefits they earned, that they 
bargained for, and that they worked their entire lives to secure. A 
deal is a deal. We must make this right.
  I urge my colleagues to stand up for American workers and support the 
Butch Lewis Act. We must address pension insolvency without sacrificing 
workers' hard-earned benefits.
  I thank Senator Donnelly for bringing this issue to the floor. I am 
with him, and we need to bring our colleagues with us as well.
  Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Michigan, who 
has so many teamster members who travel back and forth across our 
respective borders every day, who ride some of the most difficult and 
dangerous roads in the world, who, on a constant basis, are helping 
families who may be in trouble on the road, who are helping others whom 
they see along the way. They are not only professional drivers and 
other Teamster members; they are people who keep a sharp eye out for 
others in order to help them if they are in trouble. They keep an eye 
on every family who is out there on the road and on their fellow 
drivers. They make America go.
  So many auto parts from the Senator's State of Michigan come down to 
my State of Indiana. So many parts go from my State to his State of 
Michigan to create jobs, to make America go. We want to tell all of 
those workers: This is your capital. This is your government. We are 
the hired help. We work for you. It is our obligation to fix this 
because promises were made.
  President Harry Truman promised our mine workers that their pensions 
would be protected and that their healthcare would be protected. Those 
mine workers went down underground and powered our economy and powered 
our war efforts in World War II, in Korea, in Vietnam. They were there 
to ensure that when our men and women were overseas, they would have 
what they needed. Promises were made. It is our obligation to keep them 
for the Central States Pension Fund and for other pension programs.
  As I mentioned before, these are the people who go to work in the 
dark and come home in the dark, who drive our economy and who make our 
country the envy of the world. They don't come up with excuses. They 
make sure all of the other workers in our Nation have all of the goods 
they need to put cars together, to build planes--to drive our Nation 
forward, to continue to increase our productivity. That is what these

[[Page S2670]]

men and women have done for 30, 40 years, and they have contributed to 
their pension plans. All they are asking is for a fair deal. It is our 
job--it is up to us--to make sure we keep that sacred bond, and that is 
what we will fight to do.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DONNELLY. 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. DONNELLY. Mr. President, we are blessed to have with us my friend 
and colleague from West Virginia, Senator Manchin. No one fights harder 
for the working folks than Senator Manchin. No one fought harder to 
make sure we were able to protect the healthcare benefits of our 
retired mine workers. We worked together on that nonstop to make sure 
that promise was kept, and Senator Manchin has continued to work 
nonstop to protect the pensions of these mine workers and of so many 
others, like of the Central States. Senator Manchin has been kind 
enough to join us this afternoon, and we look forward to his remarks.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, first of all, to my colleague from 
Indiana, there is nobody who has been a greater ally or greater friend 
than Senator Donnelly in some of the fights we have had, basically 
making sure that there is fairness between business and workers and 
that workers are treated fairly. We fought for that. Mr. Donnelly has 
fought for miners in Indiana, and he brought me into his State to spend 
time with them, and I appreciate that very much. We will continue to 
make sure that we get the job done.
  This should not be a conversation we are having right now--fighting 
for miners' pensions. This was all rolled into one bill. The healthcare 
and pensions were all done at one time. We had a pay-for. We had it 
worked out. We thought we had an agreement, and it was bipartisan. It 
came out of the Senate Finance Committee in a bipartisan way. I thank 
Senator Hatch for taking an interest in leading that.
  We will have to go back and fix this now. We have half of the job 
done and half more to do.
  Two weeks ago marked the 1-year anniversary of having a permanent fix 
for the miners' healthcare, preventing 22,600 coal miners, just in my 
State alone, from losing their healthcare. Now the Joint Select 
Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans, of which I am 
very proud to be a member, is determined to find a permanent solution 
for the miners' pensions.
  Over 70 years ago, President Harry Truman recognized the importance 
of the coal that our miners produced for this country, and he promised 
that the Government would guarantee that our great coal miners would 
have those benefits in return for their service. Let me tell you that 
up until that point in time, my grandparents, on both sides of my 
family, were coal miners. They both then started little grocery stores. 
Up until that time, there were no guarantees or benefits. When they 
said you owed your soul to the company store, that was literally and 
figuratively correct.
  My grandfather lived up until 1927. He worked and loaded coal since 
he was 9 years old and never got a paycheck. He got scrip. At the end 
of the pay period, he always owed more than they paid him. So they were 
fighting for this for many years. It was Harry Truman who finally 
realized what the coal industry and coal mining had done for America. 
There has not been a group of people who have ever given more in blood, 
sweat, and tears in hard labor.
  I tell people that they mined the coal that made the steel that built 
the guns and ships that defended our country and helped to build the 
Industrial Revolution and really helped to lift the middle class to 
what it is and what it has been.
  It was over 70 years ago that President Truman recognized that 
importance, and he made sure that would not go unnoticed. He passed a 
bill with John L. Lewis and, at that time, Senator Krug. He passed a 
piece of legislation. This was not from taxpayers' money. They 
basically said that from every ton of coal mined from this day forward 
by the Mine Workers of America, a percentage of the price of that 
commodity, of that coal, would go toward their benefits so they would 
have something.
  Let me tell you exactly what we have gotten today. The average 
miner's pension is $595. We are not talking about thousands of dollars. 
Most of this goes to widows whose husbands have passed away. Without 
this, they don't have a lifeline. In 2022 it goes away.
  The agreement was a sacred promise between workers and the country, 
and it captured the best of America and who we are.
  But the multiemployer pension system in the United States is in 
crisis. As many as 114 multiemployer pension plans, including the 
United Mine Workers of America 1974 Pension Plan, are expected to 
become insolvent. The miners' pension fund is up first. We are the 
first ones on the block. This critical plan, which covers 87,000 
retired miners--27,000 in my State alone--and 20,000 fully vested 
current workers is projected to be totally insolvent by 2022 or sooner. 
If Congress allows these pension funds to go under, the results will be 
devastating for retirees and for current employees and the communities 
these companies and beneficiaries are members of, including those in 
West Virginia. These financial losses will be felt throughout the 
communities UMWA retirees live in and spend money in.
  We must work together to prevent this catastrophe and shore up 
miners' pension plans--pensions they have earned and paid into.
  Let me state how most of them became insolvent. It didn't happen 
until the 1980s, as far as the bankruptcy laws in America. Bankruptcy 
laws in our great country put the financial institution before the 
human being who worked for the benefits they earned and paid for. There 
has to be a correction. There has to be some right done there because 
these miners and workers all over this country basically leave that 
money in and pay for their benefits, and, at the end of their work 
life, it is gone because of some conglomerate or some type of corporate 
takeover or through a bankruptcy. This can't be tolerated any longer.
  We could not have passed a permanent fix for miners' healthcare 
without the support of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and 
President Trump. I have spoken to President Trump about this, and he is 
all for it. He is trying to help the miners. He knows what they have 
done for the country, and I appreciate his speaking up for coal miners 
and hard-working people across the country.
  We have no better advocates for securing a healthcare fix than the 
retired miners themselves. They come up here day by day, putting a real 
face to the families and the challenges they have. They have done this 
for years. For years they have walked the halls of Congress. They met 
with all of the Members and their staffs. They worked the phones and 
wrote letters urging us to keep the promise that was made to them. I 
stand by them, leading the fight to make sure retired coal miners' 
pensions will not be taken away too. We are not going to let this 
happen. I have talked with thousands of West Virginians who will be 
devastated if they lost their pensions. We received letters from miners 
and their families about the fear and anxiety that comes with not 
knowing whether they will be able to pay the mortgage or put food on 
the table.
  If my good friend the Senator from Indiana will indulge me a little 
longer, I want to read about Ricky, from Hewett, WV. He is worried that 
if his pension is taken away or reduced, he will not be able to support 
his family. He said:

       As a retired coal miner my family and I rely greatly on 
     these very modest benefits. Losing or even having my pension 
     reduced would cause great hardship on my family. A coal 
     miner's pension is not very much to start with. I am not 
     asking for a handout--only what I earned through years of 
     hard work.

  Benny, from Oceana, WV, would have to choose between buying food and 
paying utility bills. He said:

       I only draw a small pension of $215.96 each month, but if I 
     lose that I will have to decide between food or utility 
     bills. I am an older disabled coal miner with a small social 
     security check. The loss of my pension check would be 
     devastating.


[[Page S2671]]


  Judy, from Sharples, is worried that if she lost her late husband's 
pension, she and her grandson wouldn't be able to make it. These are 
basically people who have become second parents because the parents 
have become dysfunctional. She wrote:

       I'm not a rich person, but if I lose my late husband's 
     pension I will lose everything I have. My husband worked 30 
     plus years at the mines with the promise that we would be 
     taken care of. Yes, I get Social Security but that won't 
     cover my regular bills by itself, not to mention home and car 
     insurance plus taxes. . . .

  After securing healthcare benefits for retired miners, we proved that 
Congress can work together and put partisan politics aside. This was 
truly done in a bipartisan way. It is a philosophy that I followed 
throughout my life in public service and in the West Virginia State 
Legislature, as the Governor of the great State of West Virginia, and 
now as a U.S. Senator representing the great State of West Virginia.
  The coal miners are among the hardest working people in America, and 
they spent their lives empowering the Nation and keeping it the 
strongest in the world.
  I will leave you with this. When people ask: Where are you from? Let 
me tell you where I am from. I am from a little State that has the most 
patriotic people in the Nation. They have fought in every war and 
conflict and shed more blood and lost more lives for the cause of 
freedom than most any State. They have done the heavy lifting, mining 
the coal, making steel, and building the guns and ships that defend us 
every day.
  The Good Lord has been so kind to us. He gave us a great venue, my 
State of West Virginia. We hope you come, and when you do, we hope you 
stay.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. President, we are so fortunate to have such a 
fighter for the people of West Virginia in Senator Manchin. We are 
grateful for his hard work.
  We have another amazing fighter for the people of the State of 
Minnesota, Senator Klobuchar. Senator Klobuchar has fought nonstop on 
this issue as well.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, thanks to my friends from West Virginia 
and Indiana. I thank Mr. Donnelly for his leadership and bringing us 
together today.
  Minnesota, like Indiana, has so many people who are in the Central 
States Pension Fund. Like Senator Donnelly, I believe that promises 
made should be promises kept. Over 10 million Americans participate in 
a multiemployer pension plan and rely on those benefits for a safe and 
secure retirement.
  The Central States Pension Fund was established in 1955 to help 
truckers save for retirement. As Senator Donnelly knows, coming from 
Indiana--a State where there are a lot of truckers--there are a lot of 
truckers still in this pension plan. Today the Central States Pension 
Fund includes workers from the carhaul, tankhaul, pipeline, warehouse, 
construction, clerical, food processing, dairy, and trucking 
industries.
  I have heard from people all over my State. Fred, from Hibbing, 
worked 33 years as a bread man and serves as a caregiver for his wife 
who has serious back problems and was recently diagnosed with leukemia.
  Daniel from St. Michael worked over 41 years as a mechanic. If he 
were to face a reduction in his pension, he would likely be forced to 
sell the house he has lived in since 1973.
  Sue, from Elk River, wrote about her husband Jim, who retired in 1998 
and passed away in 2013. Jim left Sue a spousal benefit pension that 
was supposed to take care of her for the rest of her life. Sue writes 
that Jim's passing was ``devastating enough on its own,'' but now she 
fears being forced into the labor market as a woman in her seventies, 
just to make ends meet.
  These are just a few of the examples. Unless Congress acts, hundreds 
of thousands of participants in the Central States Pension Fund face 
the real possibility that their hard-earned pensions could be reduced. 
Many of these are from the Midwest. That is why it is called the 
Central States Pension Fund.
  We need to find a workable solution for underfunded multiemployer 
pension plans. I know Senator Brown is leading a group that is working 
on that--the joint committee working together--to find a solution they 
can present to the American people.
  We all know that delay only makes the solution more costly. The time 
is here. It has arrived. We can't put it off any more. We must move 
forward now to get this done. I thank Senator Donnelly for his 
leadership.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. President, I want to thank the Senator from 
Minnesota. She has been a nonstop advocate for folks across her State 
and across the country. Another nonstop advocate has been my friend and 
colleague from Pennsylvania, Senator Casey, who works tirelessly not 
only on behalf of the Keystone State but on behalf of working families 
all across America.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. CASEY. Thank you, Mr. President. I rise, first of all, to thank 
Senator Donnelly for his leadership and my colleagues.
  I am speaking today on behalf of hundreds of thousands of people in 
Pennsylvania who currently rely or will rely upon a pension. The 
multiemployer pension program protects about 10 million workers and 
retirees in about 1,400 pension plans across the country. In 
Pennsylvania, that number is 230 multiemployer pension plans, with a 
total of about 910,000 beneficiaries. Without action, the full pensions 
of over 33,000 Pennsylvanians are at risk, as is the solvency of the 
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. In 2017 the Pension Benefit 
Guaranty Corporation paid $462 million to Pennsylvanians whose pension 
plans had failed. That is about $5,800 on average.
  Democrats in the Senate have been fighting to preserve these earned 
benefits for our retirees for years, including our Nation's coal 
miners. The fight for our coal miners we have just half-won. We were 
successful in making sure that their promised healthcare benefits are 
there for them, but we still have work to do with regard to pensions.
  It is inexcusable that Americans who have earned these benefits have 
to worry, as some do, and they have been worrying for many years.
  We know what the tax bill did, among many things, for very wealthy 
interests. The tax bill that got rammed through the Senate in December 
of last year gave $13 billion in tax windfalls to our Nation's six 
largest banks. That is $13 billion for 1 year--this year alone--and 
they are all unpaid for. So the debt goes up. Six big banks get $13 
billion, and yet this body, the Senate, can't deliver on the promise of 
pensions to hundreds of thousands across the country.
  Let me give you three quick examples in the limited time we have. 
Debbie, from Western Pennsylvania, wrote about the miners pension act. 
She said in part, talking about her family: ``We depend on my dad's 
pension to survive on the limited income.'' So said Debbie from Western 
Pennsylvania.
  Dennis, also from Southwestern Pennsylvania, drove a truck for 25 
years of his life, ``working long hours away from my family,'' he said, 
``to provide a good living.'' He said: ``I . . . would appreciate it if 
you could do whatever you can to preserve that pension for my wife and 
for me.''
  Stuart from Northeastern Pennsylvania--the corner of the State I live 
in--is a bakery and confectionary union pensioner. He said:

       Please help save our BCTGM pension fund. I paid into that 
     pension system for 26 years and depend on it greatly. I work 
     three jobs and my wife works two jobs. We have put one child 
     thru college and one just entered.

  None of these families should have to worry about these earned 
benefits--this measure of retirement security, so we have a long way to 
go. But I am grateful that we are willing to work together on both 
sides of the aisle, and I am especially grateful that Democrats have 
been united in finally keeping that promise to those who have earned 
these benefits, those who have earned these pensions.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.

[[Page S2672]]

  

  Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. President, I want to thank my colleagues from 
Pennsylvania and Minnesota, who are still in the Chamber with us right 
now. Their focus has always been on honoring hard work, on making sure 
that we keep our word to the truckdriver who has paid in every day, who 
is riding down the Pennsylvania Turnpike or the Schuylkill Expressway 
or heading up I-35 in Minnesota and that we keep the promise that was 
made to them after 30, 35 years of hard work, of driving, of trying to 
keep people safe, of making a difference, of delivering the food people 
have to eat, the parts people have to put together at work to make sure 
our country can continue to move forward. Those are the folks we are 
talking about.
  If either of my colleagues would like to say anything else in regard 
to the amazing, hard work of the miners in Pennsylvania or the 
teamsters in Minnesota--those are the folks, the Central States Pension 
Fund and so many other pension funds, as well, that we fight for every 
single day to try to get this done because, as the Senator from 
Pennsylvania said, this is a job that is half done right now. We were 
able to make sure we protected the healthcare benefits that were 
promised.
  There was a miner and his wife with whom I spent time in Oakland 
City, IN, down in Gibson County where we have so many coal mines. When 
I saw him, he said: This is one of the greatest days for me when we 
were able to keep healthcare benefits.
  He said: ``It's not for me. It's because my wife, who is ill''--and 
they are both in their eighties--``can now get her medicine again next 
week.'' That is what his concern was. It wasn't about himself. It was 
about his wife and making sure, with the pain she was struggling with 
and the healthcare problems that she had, that he was able to make sure 
she would be OK.
  That is our job; it is to back up the word that was given to him 
because he spent his life working nonstop to keep our country moving 
forward, and all he asked in return is that we keep our word.
  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. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                               Tax Reform

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, the future for American workers is looking 
bright. A combination of tax reform, which we passed in December, plus 
other economy-boosting measures, such as lifting burdensome 
regulations, is starting to produce the kind of economy we need to give 
Americans access to a future of security and prosperity.
  Our goal with tax reform was pretty simple: Make life better for 
American workers. That involved a couple of things. For starters, it 
involved putting more money in Americans' pockets right away by cutting 
their taxes, and that is what we did. We cut tax rates across the 
board, nearly doubled the standard deduction, and doubled the child tax 
credit. Americans are already seeing this relief in their paychecks, 
but we knew that tax cuts, as helpful as they are, weren't enough.
  We needed to make sure that Americans had access to good jobs, good 
wages, and good opportunities--the kinds of jobs and opportunities that 
would set them up for security and prosperity for the long term. Since 
jobs and opportunities are created by businesses, that meant reforming 
our Tax Code to improve the playing field for businesses so they could 
improve the playing field for their workers, and that is what we did. I 
am pleased to report that it is already working.
  Less than 5 months into the new tax law, business after business has 
announced good news for workers--pay increases, bonuses, better 
benefits, like increased retirement benefits, like new and better 
education benefits, and enhanced parental leave benefits. So far we 
have more than 530 examples of businesses making things better for 
their workers and customers, from giant corporations like Apple to 
small businesses like the Don Ramon restaurant in West Palm Beach, FL.
  Economic indicators are looking good. Last month, the unemployment 
rate hit its lowest level since 2000. That is right; the last time 
unemployment was this low, the iPod hadn't even been introduced yet.
  Economic growth is on a solid track. The economy's growth rate in the 
first quarter of 2018 was nearly double what it was during the same 
period last year.
  Small businesses are thriving. The president of the National 
Federation of Independent Business reports:

       Small and independent business owners are notably confident 
     about the economy. They are reporting that sales are strong, 
     profits are good, and employee compensation is increasing. 
     And many are setting into motion plans to expand.

  That, again, is from the president of the National Federation of 
Independent Business. That is borne out by NFIB's recent survey data, 
which shows the net percentage of businesses raising worker 
compensation over the last 3 months has increased to 33 percent--the 
highest level since 2000. That is good news for American workers.
  Americans had a tough time during the last administration. Our 
economy stagnated, and American families struggled. But our economy--
and our country--are coming back, and they are coming back stronger 
than ever.
  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and other policies we have passed are 
creating an economy that will allow families to access the jobs, the 
wages, and the opportunities they need for security today and for 
prosperity tomorrow. The future is indeed looking brighter.


                             Net Neutrality

  Mr. President, I also want to take a moment to discuss the partisan 
net neutrality resolution that we will be taking up this week. There is 
support among Senators of both parties for passing net neutrality 
legislation, and Democrats know that. But instead of moving forward 
with bipartisan discussions on a net neutrality bill, certain Democrats 
decided they wanted to play politics. So instead of bipartisan 
legislation this week, we are taking up a partisan resolution that will 
do nothing to provide a permanent solution on the issue of net 
neutrality.
  For most of its existence, the internet thrived under a light 
regulatory touch from Washington, DC. Washington avoided weighing down 
the internet with burdensome regulations, and the internet flourished 
as a result, becoming a vehicle for an endless stream of innovation and 
economic growth.
  During the Obama administration, Democrats became convinced that we 
needed to heavily increase the Federal Government's role, so the Obama 
FCC reclassified the internet under a regulatory regime that was 
developed more than 80 years ago to govern monopoly telephone services. 
That decision posed a number of problems for the future of the 
internet. For starters, heavyhanded government regulations tend to 
stifle the kinds of growth and innovation that have always flourished 
around the internet.
  There was also serious reason to be concerned that this new 
regulatory regime would discourage companies from investing in upgrades 
to their networks and infrastructure to expand access to broadband. 
That is a big concern for my State of South Dakota, where too many 
individuals still lack reliable internet access. In fact, the FCC has 
since found that the decision to regulate the internet under the 1934--
that is right, 1934--telephone regulatory regime has slowed investment, 
which has restricted the improvement of internet services for rural 
Americans like those I represent in South Dakota.
  In response to these problems, the FCC recently decided to restore 
the light-touch regulatory regime that the internet had thrived under 
and which had been in place for two decades prior to 2015 under 
administrations from both political parties. That, in turn, created the 
opportunity for us to adopt net neutrality legislation to permanently 
address concerns about blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization--
and to deal with these concerns under a regulatory regime suitable for 
the 21st century internet. So that is why the FCC went back to the 
light-touch regulatory regime, rather than the heavyhanded 1934 law 
that would treat the internet like a Ma Bell-type public utility.
  Instead of taking this opportunity to work with Republicans to 
develop bipartisan legislation, Democrats have decided to play 
politics. The internet,

[[Page S2673]]

like any industry, needs stability to grow and thrive. Internet 
innovators need to know what the rules of the game are now, and they 
need to know what the rules of the game are going to be in the future. 
We can't have a situation where internet regulations vary from 
administration to administration or, worse yet, from year to year. 
Imagine a basketball game where the rules changed every quarter or 
after every timeout. Well, it is pretty safe to say that players would 
quickly get fed up and start quitting the game, and that is exactly 
what will happen if we don't have stable rules for the internet.
  Too many Americans are not going to be interested in taking risks or 
investing in innovation if they can't predict what the rules will look 
like a year down the road. So internet regulation is a serious issue 
that will affect our Nation for decades to come. This is too important 
of an issue for partisanship. Yet here we are with just more political 
theater with a partisan resolution that everybody acknowledges isn't 
going anywhere.

  So, in the wake of the FCC's decision--which gives Congress the 
perfect opportunity to step in to provide clear guidance and clear 
rules of the road for the future regarding how the internet is going to 
be regulated--we have Democrats in the Senate who are in the midst of a 
political stunt, instead of sitting down and having a serious 
conversation about net neutrality legislation.
  It is time to put together a bipartisan bill and establish long-term 
stability on internet regulation so the internet can continue to grow 
and thrive long into the future and not be subject to the whims of one 
administration or the next administration and rules and regulations 
that are going to go back and forth with the winds of whatever 
political party is in the White House or, worse yet, end up spending 
all the time in court and spending millions of dollars on litigation 
that could be spent investing in infrastructure that could deliver 
better services to people all across this country, including those in 
rural areas like South Dakota.


                       Nomination of Gina Haspel

  Mr. President, we have been getting some great judicial nominees in 
the Senate, including several this week.
  I am also looking forward to confirming another important nomination 
in the near future, and that is Gina Haspel's nomination to be the 
Director of the CIA.
  Acting Director Haspel is one of the most qualified candidates for 
the CIA we have ever had. She spent 33 years in the Agency. She served 
overseas and here at home during the Cold War and Global War on 
Terrorism. She served in the trenches, and she has held important 
leadership positions in the Agency. She has won several awards for her 
work, including the Intelligence Medal of Merit, the George H.W. Bush 
Award, and the Donovan Award.
  Her nomination has been endorsed by six former CIA Directors, 
including Leon Panetta and John Brennan, who served as CIA Directors 
under President Obama.
  Our Nation and our world are facing a range of conventional and 
unconventional threats from the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran to 
an increasingly aggressive Russia and China, to the ever-present threat 
of terrorism. We need a leader like Gina Haspel at the head of the 
CIA--someone who knows intelligence inside and out and who can provide 
the President with the information he needs to make decisions affecting 
our Nation's security.
  I look forward to confirming Ms. Haspel as CIA Director in the very 
near future. I hope my colleagues in the Senate, on both sides of the 
aisle, will join in that endeavor and make sure this important 
position, at this critical time in our Nation's history, is filled with 
a very qualified nominee--the right person to serve as the head of that 
Agency.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.


                                 China

  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, I want to begin by reading an excerpt of an 
article that ran on October 8, 2012. It was in the New York Times. The 
article opened with the following quote:

       A House committee issued a blistering bipartisan report on 
     Monday that accused two of China's largest telecommunications 
     companies of being arms of the government that had stolen 
     intellectual property from American companies and could 
     potentially spy on Americans. The House Intelligence 
     Committee said that after a yearlong investigation it had 
     come to the conclusion that Chinese businesses, Huawei 
     Technologies and ZTE Inc., were a national threat because of 
     their attempts to extract sensitive information from American 
     companies and because of their loyalties to the Chinese 
     government.

  The story continued by saying:

       Allowing the Chinese companies to do business in the United 
     States . . . would give the Chinese government the ability to 
     easily intercept communications and could allow it to start 
     online attacks on critical infrastructure, like dams and 
     power grids.

  This was from a bipartisan report in the year 2012, in the month of 
October, by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on 
Intelligence. Since then, over and over again, we have heard the 
intelligence community in this country clearly define this threat. In 
virtually every one of the open hearings that we had on the 
Intelligence Committee, I or one of my colleagues have had an 
opportunity to ask every member of the intelligence community--Director 
of National Intelligence, Director of the CIA, Director of the FBI, the 
Director of Counterintelligence, Mr. Evanina, or the nominee before us 
today--and every time one of us would ask: Would you use a ZTE phone? 
We are still waiting for one of them to say yes. Every single one of 
them said no, which is why I was pleased a couple of weeks ago when the 
Commerce Department brought sanctions against ZTE.
  It was not a Congressional issue. Although it could be, it wasn't. It 
was because, on top of the spying and everything else, ZTE had helped 
Iran and North Korea evade international sanctions. So the penalty was, 
American companies could no longer sell component pieces to ZTE, which 
has led them to being on the brink of being out of business.
  No one should feel sorry for ZTE. This is a company heavily 
subsidized by the Chinese Government that protects them at home, 
protects them in China, subsidizes them in China but exports them 
abroad with the hopes that they can help them steal secrets, monitor, 
and be an arm and tool of intelligence for them. No one should feel 
sorry for them.
  So I was surprised to see, a couple days ago--as the President 
tweeted and then there have been articles about how perhaps maybe these 
sanctions might be going away in exchange for a deal on agriculture. I 
want to tell you, if that is what happens, the President has gotten 
terrible advice, and it would be a terrible thing for him to do. I 
think it would be deeply problematic for the national security of the 
United States and ultimately for his hopes of rebalancing America's 
relationship with China, geopolitically, economically, commercially, 
and certainly on security.
  The most important thing to understand is, China is carrying out a 
plan. They put it out there. It is not a conspiracy. It is there for 
the world to see: Made in China 2025. Made in China 2025 is a plan to 
dominate the 10 most important technologies of the 21st century. You 
may ask: Why is that a big deal? Countries would want to do that. They 
have every right to aspire to that, and I agree. If they want to 
dominate these 10 fields, they have every right to invest in research 
and innovation. They have every right to do all of that.
  The problem is, that is not how they intend to dominate these fields. 
The way they intend to dominate the 10 top technologies of the 21st 
century is to steal the intellectual property, basically the protected, 
secret ideas our companies are innovating, that American researchers 
are innovating--to steal that and use it for themselves.
  Furthermore, they insist that all of their companies be allowed to 
sell whatever they want to the United States without any restriction. 
On the other hand, our companies are restricted--some prohibited--from 
selling to China's 1.2 billion, 1.3 billion-person market, soon to be 
the largest economy in the world.
  So, in essence, they intend to dominate these 10 fields by cheating 
their way into a position of dominance, and that alone is not just an 
economic issue. This is a national security issue. If you dominate the 
field of artificial intelligence, if you dominate the field of 
telecommunications, if you dominate the field of aerospace technology,

[[Page S2674]]

you will dominate the field of national defense and national security, 
and you will pose a threat to other countries that do not.

  We are giving it to them. We are literally allowing them to steal it 
from us, and they play our system against us. American companies go to 
China to do business, and here is what they tell them: You can only do 
business here if you partner up with a Chinese company. You have to 
give them all the secrets to how you do business. By the way, time and 
again, as soon as the Chinese company can do what the American company 
can do, the American company gets kicked out. Suddenly, you have a 
competitor all over the world that you helped build by giving it to 
them for free.
  Sadly, a lot of American companies play the game because all they 
care about is being able to sell to China in the short term and have 
profits, without any thought about the long term or national security 
of the United States.
  I imagine many of these are the same voices that are trekking down to 
the White House to tell the President to do this deal on ZTE. The ZTE 
thing is not just a commercial and trade issue--although it is and it 
could be. It is much more than just that. It needs to be taken with the 
seriousness it deserves. It is not just about telecommunications.
  If you have a ZTE phone--and they are widespread in the United 
States. These things are hitting up against our towers. They will not 
just use that to pull American phone companies out of business; they 
can use that to spy on American companies to steal the intellectual 
property of the United States. It is exactly what they have done. It is 
what the report said they do: spying on Americans and stealing 
intellectual property from American companies. This trade dispute with 
China is about a lot more than trade. It is about geopolitical balance. 
It is about fairness.
  This is our last chance to get it right. It is almost too late. I am 
telling you, if we get this wrong--if we back down, when historians 
write about this period of time in our history, they are going to say 
the Americans literally gave it over to the Chinese; allowed them to 
steal from them because they were more interested in short-term gain 
and were willing to turn over the future.
  We will live in a world where China dominates many of the top fields, 
including many that are critical to our national security and the 
defense of our interests and of our Nation.
  I would argue to you that ZTE should not be allowed to sell anything 
in the United States. I would argue to you that if a technology company 
from another country is being used by that country not just to spy on 
government secrets but to steal the intellectual property of our 
businesses, they should be out of business in the United States. Some 
people would say: Well, China is very powerful. They are going to come 
back and use other means to punish us for this. Let me tell you 
something. We have extraordinary leverage over their technology 
industry. For example, one of the things ZTE can do is they can buy 
from a company named Tsinghua Unigroup, which is a government-owned 
company. They can buy components from them, but then we can cut them 
off as well. In fact, every major telecom in China--Huawei, BBK, Yiomi, 
Lenovo--every single one of these depends on component parts from the 
United States.
  Ultimately, what I would hope to arrive at is a balanced trade 
situation, a balanced commercial arrangement, and a balanced 
geopolitical situation between the United States and China, but right 
now it is way out of balance, and when you allow imbalances to exist 
and persist in international relations, it leads to conflict. It leads 
to wars. It leads to showdowns. That is what imbalances lead to. An 
imbalance leads to the country that becomes dominant to try to take 
advantage of the countries that are not, unless you agree to surrender 
to them.
  This issue of China and ZTE is a terrible mistake. If the President 
cuts a deal with ZTE that says: Pay a couple of hundred million dollars 
in fines and you are back in business in exchange--and they violated 
the law. This is a law enforcement function on top of everything else. 
These sanctions against them are punishment for evading and breaking 
sanctions. If you basically wave that off in exchange for a deal on 
agriculture--these farmers didn't do anything wrong. These farmers are 
not being punished for evading sanctions. They are victims of 
retribution.
  We have other angles. In fact, what we should be saying is: If you 
don't lift the tariff on our farmers, we will do the same thing we did 
to ZTE, to Huawei, BBK, Yiomi, Lenovo or any other company. That is 
what we should be saying, instead of being tricked into this apparent 
deal that someone is cooking up over there and giving the President 
terrible advice--which, by the way, I know that is not where his 
instincts are, but someone is getting to him. I don't know if it is 
from Treasury or where it is, but someone is basically telling him now 
is the time to cut a deal. It is the wrong time to cut a deal. This 
would be a terrible deal.
  Let me close by telling you this. This is not just about technology. 
If you don't believe that China uses its leverage, the leverage of 
economics, to reach into your life here in America--people will ask: 
What does that have to do with me? What does it have to do with us? 
Yes, it is a bad thing. We are worried about China in the long term. 
What does that have to do with me here at home?
  China has no problem using its long arm and its economic leverage to 
interfere in the lives of Americans. I will tell you how.
  About 2 weeks ago, two American airlines, United and American 
Airlines, got a letter in the mail from the Chinese Government telling 
them: We notice that your website says ``Taiwan.'' It doesn't say 
``Taiwan-China.'' Unless you change your website, we are going to 
punish you. We may even take away your routes.
  They haven't made a decision yet. We have reached out to both 
companies. Let me clue everyone in right now. If they are anything like 
the other American companies that have been threatened, they are going 
to cave. They are going to cave, especially United, which has all of 
these routes over there. This is an American company, headquartered in 
the United States, that is going to have to change their website 
because China has threatened them.
  If you think that is not bad, I will tell you something crazy. 
Yesterday, the Gap clothing store came out with a T-shirt. It had a map 
of China, but it didn't have Taiwan on the T-shirt. China threatened 
them. Within hours, the Gap put out a tweet: We are so sorry. We 
apologize. We didn't mean to offend you. We respect your sovereignty.
  This is over a T-shirt, for God's sake. This is the leverage they 
have.
  Do you know there are Hollywood movies that are written in a way to 
avoid certain topics because, otherwise, they will not be allowed to 
play the movie in China? Do you know there are actors--such as Richard 
Gere--who are not allowed to be in certain movies or who can't get a 
Hollywood blockbuster movie because they can't distribute it in China? 
They will not let them. They can't have Richard Gere in movies in China 
because he is pro-Tibet. This is crazy stuff.
  Here is perhaps the most egregious one. Marriott, a great American 
company, a hotel--everybody has stayed at one. Marriott had an 
employee, a guy who lives in America; he is not even an executive--just 
a good guy, a hard-working guy. He accidentally went online and 
accidentally--it wasn't even on purpose--liked a tweet about Tibet, and 
China went crazy. They threatened Marriott. Marriott didn't just 
apologize; they fired him. This is an American. He didn't live in 
China. He lives in the United States of America. He lost his job for 
accidentally liking a tweet that China didn't like.
  This happens over and over again, and it isn't noticed. This is how 
they use economic leverage. This is how they get Panama to tell Taiwan: 
We no longer recognize you diplomatically; we now recognize China. This 
is how they got the Dominican Republic to do the same thing last week 
or a couple of weeks ago, and they are not going to stop. I hear 
Paraguay might be next. This has to stop.
  We don't want to contain China. We welcome a prosperous China. We 
want a global partner. Imagine the United States and China working 
together against nuclear proliferation, against radical terrorism, and 
against all the

[[Page S2675]]

threats in the world. But this is not leading to a partnership. This is 
leading to a world in which China dominates every key industry, remakes 
every institution, and America becomes a junior partner the way 
Vladimir Putin and Russia already are to China, and that we cannot 
accept. But that is where we are headed because administrations--both 
Republican and Democrat--have taken this threat too lightly. They 
thought that when China got rich, they would start playing by the 
rules. Guess what. They not only have not played by the rules, but they 
assume all the benefits of the rules and live by none of the 
responsibilities.
  This is our last chance. This administration has been given the 
historic opportunity--the last chance--to get the balance of this 
relationship right. One misstep could blow the whole thing apart and 
doom generations of Americans to living in a world--not one with a 
powerful China, one with a dominant China and a declining America.
  That may sound like hyperbole, but if they win this battle on ZTE, 
the world will notice, and the message it will send is that when push 
comes to shove, this administration is no different from the others. 
When they come under pressure, you can get to the right people with the 
right friends in corporate America, and they will back down. Once that 
happens, every country in the world will govern themselves accordingly. 
They will not join us in confronting China's aggression and China's 
unfairness because in the back of their minds, they will be saying to 
themselves: When push comes to shove, America is going to back down the 
way they did for ZTE.
  The issue itself is problematic. We can't be selling phones in 
America that they use to spy on us in our companies. But on a broader 
scale, it sends a message that demoralizes this effort and I think has 
dramatic consequences.
  I encourage the President to think very seriously and very carefully. 
He is in a very strong position right now. I urge him to think very 
carefully about the next step and to listen to the people in his 
administration who are talking to him about the ZTE issue for what it 
is--a national security threat much bigger than just one company in the 
telecom industry.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.


                       National Drug Court Month

  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I rise today to highlight some of the great 
successes of our drug courts around the Nation. May is National Drug 
Court Month, and I have come to the floor today to highlight the work 
of these innovative courts--I think that is an understatement--which 
play a unique role in our justice system.
  Participants in the drug court system receive treatment and support 
services to help these individuals recover, and the individuals are 
held accountable through regular drug testing and judicial supervision.
  These courts are uniquely equipped for nonviolent substance abuse 
offenders, and they provide eligible individuals with intensive 
treatment, individualized consequences, and other medical services in 
order to help them overcome their substance use disorder--something we 
have heard a lot about in every State.
  Participants are randomly tested for drug use and mandated to appear 
frequently in court so that the drug court judge can review their 
progress. The judge also holds drug court participants accountable for 
their obligations to the court and, of course, to society at large. All 
of these features make drug courts particularly important as we deal 
with the opioid crisis that has affected so many individuals, families, 
and communities in Pennsylvania and across the country. No 
neighborhood--no region of the State--is safe in this horror that we 
have been living through now for several years.
  Given the scope and severity of the opioid epidemic, we need to 
invest in effective solutions. I use that word purposefully--
``invest.'' With their proven track record of success, drug courts 
should be a keystone of our efforts to deal with the opioid crisis.
  Drug court systems not only save money, but they also reduce both 
drug use and crime itself. Recidivism rates among drug court 
participants are significantly lower than for those defendants 
undergoing traditional sentencing procedures. Around 50 to 70 percent 
of drug court participants complete at least a year of treatment, and 
75 percent of graduates remain arrest-free for the next 2 years. Let me 
say that again: 75 percent of drug court graduates remain arrest-free 
for the next 2 years.
  Additionally, studies have found that the use of drug courts save 
taxpayer money by lowering overall criminal justice costs. There are a 
lot of success stories from drug court graduates, and I want to 
highlight one today from Schuylkill County, PA, the Schuylkill County 
Drug Treatment Court.
  This constituent of mine struggled with opioid and alcohol use 
disorder and spent time in prison before going through the drug court 
system. According to the probation officer, this Pennsylvanian is now 
``gainfully employed, has regained a positive relationship with family, 
is working towards maintaining sobriety and is now working towards the 
long-term goal of buying a home.''
  That is just one story about one individual, who said:

       I used to think about how much I wanted to use and what I 
     wanted to use. Now I think about going to work and coming 
     home to my fiancee and children.

  That is one success story but a very powerful story.
  As the probation officer said, that is just one of many ``incredible 
stories of progress and redemption found in drug courts.''
  As we observe National Drug Court Month, I encourage my colleagues to 
continue supporting the innovative and effective work of these drug 
court programs. I want to thank the judges, officers, and other 
professionals who help make these success stories a reality every week.


                          National Police Week

  Mr. President, I also rise to talk about one other issue. It is an 
issue that we are hearing about today because of the ceremony at the 
Capitol. In addition to this being National Drug Court Month, it is 
also National Police Week, which we have observed as a nation since 
1962.
  National Police Week is an opportunity to pay respect to the men and 
women who have lost their lives in the line of duty, as well as their 
families. It is also an opportunity to express gratitude and 
appreciation for the work that police officers do to keep our 
communities safe every day. We owe a great debt of gratitude to those 
who have served and the families who have sacrificed alongside them.
  Today I want to recognize those who have lost their lives in the line 
of duty in my home State of Pennsylvania, two officers who were killed 
in 2017. First is Brian David Shaw of the New Kensington Police 
Department. That is in Westmoreland County in the southwestern corner 
of our State. Second is Michael Paul Stewart III of the Pennsylvania 
State Police. These fallen heroes gave what President Lincoln once 
called ``the last full measure of devotion'' to their country.
  We have a solemn obligation to pay tribute to these fallen law 
enforcement officers and to have their families' backs. Paying tribute 
is not enough, though. We must honor those in law enforcement and the 
families of the fallen in word and in deed.
  One of our top priorities should be fighting for policies and 
programs that make law enforcement officers safe. That includes working 
to secure funding for the COPS Hiring Program, Byrne Justice Assistance 
Grant--known as Byrne JAG--and the Bulletproof Vest Partnership 
Program, just to name a few. Some around here want to cut these 
programs or limit increases to their funding. Fortunately, in the 
latest spending agreement, there were increases for all three. I want 
to thank colleagues on both sides of the aisle for ensuring that these 
programs are well funded in the omnibus bill that we passed in March.
  In addition to fighting for law enforcement dollars, we also have a 
basic obligation to ensure that our law enforcement officers are 
appropriately compensated and that their families receive the care and 
financial security they need and deserve--of course, especially for 
families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty.
  That is why I am thankful that the omnibus legislation in March 
included a bill that I worked on with my colleague from Pennsylvania, 
Senator Toomey--the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act, which 
will help children of fallen law enforcement officers

[[Page S2676]]

and first responders afford college by making them eligible for the 
maximum Pell grant available, now roughly a little more than $6,000--
almost $6,100.
  Every day, each of us has a part to play in working to make sure that 
law enforcement officers are safer and also to play a role in 
supporting the families of the fallen. I hope we can recommit ourselves 
to this goal during Police Week as we honor those who have lost their 
lives in the line of duty, recognize their sacrifices and their 
families' sacrifices, and express our gratitude to the men and women in 
uniform who keep us safe every day.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). The Senator from Iowa.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, there is no more noble sacrifice than 
laying down your life in the service of others. Every year, more than a 
million law enforcement officers work to keep our country safe and to 
serve the needs of our communities. Our law enforcement officers put 
their lives on the line as they fight crime, and each year, law 
enforcement officers die in the line of duty. Many of these deaths 
occur while these officers are investigating crimes and enforcing our 
laws. Some are even the result of targeted violence against police 
officers. Other deaths involve tragic accidents, such as Sheriff's 
Deputy Julie Bridges and Sergeant Joseph Ossman--two police officers 
who were killed in a traffic accident while working to help their 
communities weather the onslaught of Hurricane Irma.
  On Friday, I spoke at the Iowa Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony in Des 
Moines, where we honored six law enforcement officers from Iowa who 
lost their lives in the line of duty. It was my honor to pay tribute to 
these brave Iowa heroes, along with their families.
  Losing members of our law enforcement leaves a hole in families and 
communities that no one else can fill, but we can honor them and 
remember them and work to support the efforts of other law enforcement 
officers who carry on their mission, officers who, despite the risks 
and the rigors of their work, work tirelessly to protect and serve 
their communities.
  Yesterday, in memory of those who have fallen in the line of duty 
over the past year, I was proud to submit a resolution designating this 
week ``National Police Week.'' This resolution is cosponsored by 76 of 
my Senate colleagues.
  I am also working to clear the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant 
Program Authorization Act through my Judiciary Committee so that the 
bill can be sent to the floor for consideration of the full Senate. 
This bill authorizes a nationwide partnership between Federal, State, 
and local law enforcement and prosecutors dedicated to the reduction of 
violent crime. This partnership will use evidence-based and data-driven 
approaches to policing. It emphasizes initiatives designed to build 
trust and collaboration with community leaders and organizations 
addressing violent crime. A companion bill is working its way through 
the House of Representatives, and I look forward to voting to support 
it.
  In addition, I have been a longstanding supporter of the Public 
Safety Officers' Benefits Program, which provides death and education 
benefits to survivors of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, 
and other first responders. It also includes disability benefits to 
officers catastrophically injured in the line of duty. I introduced a 
bill to strengthen the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program, and 
that bill was signed into law last year. We worked hard on oversight 
efforts of this program to make sure that beneficiaries' claims don't 
linger forever but are timely paid.
  Today, as I stand here on the Senate floor, my thoughts turn to my 
own home State of Iowa, where on March 1, 2017, Sheriff's Deputy Mark 
Burbridge went to work for his employer, Pottawattamie County. He and 
fellow deputy Pat Morgan were assigned to transport a man to prison who 
had just been sentenced to 45 years for voluntary manslaughter. On the 
way from the court to the prison, the prisoner assaulted Deputy 
Burbridge with a homemade knife, grabbed one of the deputy's guns, and 
shot both deputies. Deputy Morgan was seriously wounded in the attack. 
Deputy Burbridge was critically injured and died an hour later. The 
prisoner fled the scene, making it as far as Nebraska. Other brave law 
enforcement officials tracked him down and brought him to justice.
  Deputy Burbridge was a family man who loved to work on cars and 
motorcycles. He also loved to fish and tell jokes. He is survived by 
his wife Jessica, daughter Karley, son Kaleb, and stepdaughter Kelsey 
Brant. We mourn his loss and remember his legacy of sacrifice and 
service this week.
  Our law enforcement officers in Iowa deal with many of the same 
problems facing law enforcement officers throughout the United States. 
They work every day to stop violent crime, and they are on the 
frontline of the fight against illegal drugs and the opioid addiction 
crisis that every State faces. To help law enforcement officers in Iowa 
and in the rest of the country, we need to optimize our justice system 
so it puts resources where they are needed most.
  Law enforcement should target the worst offenders, like violent 
criminals, major drug traffickers, and criminal masterminds. We should 
do more to help those who have done their time reenter society in 
productive ways so they don't backslide back into a life of crime. A 
bill I introduced this Congress--the Sentencing Reform and Corrections 
Act--does just that, and I appreciate Senator Durbin standing with me 
on its introduction. It is a vastly bipartisan bill that improves 
fairness in sentencing, while permitting law enforcement to devote 
resources to tackling their top priorities. It also increases 
incentives for criminals to cooperate with police and to put into place 
tougher criminal penalties for fentanyl distribution, for crimes of 
terrorism, and for crimes of domestic violence.
  In addition, the Grassley-Durbin bill provides for recidivism-
reduction programs to prepare inmates to leave prison and live a 
productive, law-abiding life. On that point, I give particular credit 
to Senator Cornyn and Senator Whitehouse for their work on that part of 
the bill. Similar sentencing and prison reform initiatives at the State 
level have closed prisons, reduced crime, and increased public safety.
  On a final note, I would like to take a moment to thank the Capitol 
police who serve right here in the Halls of Congress. The President, 
the Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries, and thousands of visitors from 
around the country visit the Senate every year. We Senators come and go 
several times a day with our staff. It is easy to take our feelings of 
safety and security for granted in this Capitol Complex, but we are 
able to carry out our duties because of the continued hard work of 
these Capitol Hill police officers. So thank you to the Capitol police 
for your dedication and your service. Our law enforcement officers 
deserve our respect, surely our support, and our admiration for putting 
their lives on the line.
  We honor all law enforcement officers this week--especially those who 
died in the line of duty in the past year. We thank their families for 
their sacrifice, and we will remember the values of public service, of 
diligence, and the bravery they stood for.
  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. 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.


                           Order of Procedure

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that at 12 noon 
tomorrow the Senate resume legislative session and Senator Schumer or 
his designee be recognized to offer a motion to proceed to S.J. Res. 
52; further, that following disposition of S.J. Res. 52, the Senate 
resume consideration of the Zais nomination; that any remaining time be 
yielded back and the Senate vote on the nomination with no intervening 
action or debate; and that if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be 
considered made and laid on the table and the President be immediately 
notified of the Senate's action.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

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